Things have been heating up here in the Northwest, both in the atmosphere and in the election sphere.
First, the atmosphere. This has been a very warm October so far, particularly for the nighttime minima.
Here are the temperatures for Seattle Tacoma Airport and Yakima for the last four weeks. Temperatures were near normal at the end of September on both sides of Cascades, but in early October we switched to a warm pattern, particularly for minimum temperatures. Blur your eyes a bit...there is really no downward trend for temperature over the past month.
Why so warm? The upper air height anomaly map (difference from normal of the heights/pressures at 500 hPa, about 18,000 ft). There is a trough offshore (blue colors) and a big ridge (yellow colors) over much of the U.S.
We have another 5 days of warm/dry weather and then things change in a big way. The end of October is often a dramatic step into wet and murk. The latest model runs indicate the atmospheric switch will be flipped into a different position. Get ready.
Seattle School Board
Four seats are up for grabs and only one incumbent is running. Here are my picks for three of the races.
District 6: Marty McLaren
Rated Very Good by the Municipal League and the only incumbent running, Marty brings a very special combination of experience, even-temper, and judgement to the school board. She has been a successful warrior for better math in elementary schools, pushing successfully for the non-fuzzy Math In Focus and the dumping of terrible Everyday Math. She played a major role in securing Dr. Larry Nyland as school superintendent... a home run considering his deep experience and competency. Marty is able to keep channels to the district administration and know how to maintain respectful and productive relationships. She has substantial support including outgoing School Board Presidents Sharon Peaslee and Sherry Carr, who know Marty's value on the board, and major political groups like the 46th District Democrats. With so much turnover on the board, it is critical to keep Marty in place. And she has big plans, like replacing the poor middle school math program currently used: Connected Math.
District 3: Lauren McGuire
Rated Outstanding by the Municipal League. Lauren has deep experience in Seattle Public Schools on a number of committees and positions. I met with her over coffee--I came away impressed with her vision for Seattle Public Schools and her broad knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses. She has a math background and understands what is wrong with the Seattle Public School math program and how to fix it. I talked to her opponent, Jill Geary, about math and it was clear this was not her issue.
District 2: Rick Burke
Rated Very Good by the Municipal League. I know Rick very well and he is about the most perfect candidate you can imagine for the position. Three kids in Seattle Schools and highly active on a number of levels. Rick has been a major leader in the fight for better math education in our area and has a technical background. He has excellent people skills, works well in groups, is razor smart, and is focused and organized. He will be a major leader on the board once he is elected.
There have been a lot of school board critics making a lot inflammatory statements, but the truth is that the district has made major advances during the past few years, with better management, substantial growth in student populations, rapidly rising test scores, and an absence of financial disasters.
There is a reason that students are flocking to Seattle's schools.