Energizing. Galvanizing. It was the largest protest march in Seattle’s history. I marched with Board Vice President Leslie Harris and scores of others. Vive La Resistance!
On MLK Day, I was invited to speak to the community volunteers and City Year partners who participated in a Day of Service beautifying Martin Luther King Elementary School in Seattle. Here are samples of their work:
Thank you for your service. Thank you for the honor and invitation to attend and share a few thoughts with you this afternoon on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a very moving and engaging experience.
Throughout the museum were examples of demonstrations of solidarity and bravery. Examples of heroism, from people of courage like the great Civil Rights leader John Lewis, alongside Reverend King.
On display were seemingly small acts of heroism – like sitting at a lunch counter, riding a bus, walking into a newly desegregated school. These were in fact great acts of history.
Small acts of heroism can happen every day in our own lives. Every student who braves doubt or misfortune, and picks up a pencil, a book, or turns on a computer and tries her or his best anyway.
Every teacher or helper who boosts a student’s confidence and helps them uncover their spark, their talents.
We remember MLK for his heroism. It is also important to remember what an erudite man he was. He was well read, and extremely, extremely eloquent.
At the museum in Atlanta, there was an exhibit of his papers and letters. There was a wall-size photograph of his personal library. This served as a reminder that he was a thinker as well as a doer. This is a message we must share with our children and students: Know your history. Read, write, think. Think for yourself.
Your education is something that can never be taken away from you.
Recent national events have offered a painful reminder of how much farther we have to go to achieve equality, humanity, justice in this nation.
There has been racial injustice we have witnessed in many forms – and hate speech thinly disguised as political campaign rhetoric.
But we are not fooled. We know that words matter, and such speech can divide and wound a nation.
In this way, these events also serve as a reminder of how important it is that we raise and nurture the next generation of thinkers, doers, so they will base their actions and their votes on facts and history, not ignorance and personal desperation.
Thank you for your work, for helping our students become the next generation of thinkers and doers. As the President of the Seattle School Board, on behalf of the Board and the District, I am proud to have such partners for the 53,000 students of Seattle Public Schools.
John Lewis marching with Dr. King.
Images from the Center for Civil & Human Rights: Father and son, and MLK quote
MLK Day March from Garfield High School to the Federal Building, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017 (“John Lewis is a Hero”)
I joined the MLK, Jr. March from Garfield High School on this crisp but bright winter day. There seemed to be a spirit of defiance as well as uncertainty in the air, on the eve of an unexpected and unfathomable Presidential inauguration.
Now more than ever it is important to remember Dr. King’s lessons and legacy in our ongoing struggle as a nation to achieve social justice and equality.
In many ways, those lessons begin with education. We must teach our children well.
“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Our struggle is a struggle to redeem the soul of America. It’s not a struggle that lasts for a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or a few years. It is the struggle of a lifetime, more than one lifetime.
— Civil Rights leader John Lewis
On March 2, the Seattle School Board approved a resolution reaffirming its commitment to public education and its opposition to charter schools.
This updates a resolution passed by a previous Board in 2012 in response to Initiative 1240 (which established charter schools in Washington State and which a majority of Seattle voters did not support), and now reflects a number of new developments, including:
- The State Supreme Court’s September 2015 decision which found the charter law unconstitutional;
- the Court’s September 2014 ruling that found the State in contempt for its continued failure to meet its paramount duty to amply fund K-12 public education in Washington State, as reaffirmed by the 2012 McCleary decision;
- Recent efforts by the State and local districts to continue to publicly fund charter schools by reclassifying them as Alternative Learning Experiences (ALEs) and channeling their funding and oversight through the Mary Walker School District in Eastern Washington.
The vote was 5-2 in favor, and included an amendment from Director Jill Geary (Burke, Geary, Harris, Patu, Peters; Blanford, Pinkham).
A big thank you to Seattle voters for supporting the two education levies on the February ballot by significant margins! Until our schools are fully funded by the state, school districts rely on the support of our community of voters.
It is now up to the District and School Board to live up to the public trust and be responsible and smart stewards of these funds.
Official Final Count, as certified by King County Elections:
Ballots Counted: 120,849
Registered Voters: 422,727 (28.59% voted)
See all School Districts’ results here: http://your.kingcounty.gov/elections/2016/feb-special/results/results.pdf
Prop. No 1 – Operations Levy
Yes 72.44% – 87146 votes
No 27.56% – 33,156 votes
Prop. No. 2 –BTA IV Capital Levy
Yes 72.10% -86915 votes
No 27.90% -33,630 votes
Election Night on November 3 delivered four new members to Seattle’s School Board — Rick Burke, Jill Geary, Leslie Harris and Scott Pinkham. An engineer, a judge, a paralegal and a professor, all with children currently or recently in Seattle Public Schools, they bring a high caliber of professionalism and skills to the Board.
Their swearing-in ceremony will be held at the John Stanford Center on Tuesday December 1. Their first Board meeting will be Wednesday December 2. Look for their updated information on the district’s School Board Web page soon.
I look forward to working with them all.
Rick Burke – School Board Director-Elect for District II
Jill Geary – School Board Director-Elect for District III
Leslie Harris – School Board Director-Elect for District VI
Scott Pinkham – School Board Director-Elect for District I
An important general election is upon us! Please remember to get your ballot in the mail or into a drop box by the end of Tuesday November 3.
In addition to all 9 City Council seats, 4 out of 7 School Board seats are up for election this year. Three incumbents are leaving the board, one is running for reelection.
This election is important. It will determine the direction of the School Board at a time when our district is growing but our state continues to fail to meet its paramount duty of fully funding our schools (as reestablished by the McCleary State Supreme Court decision). Consequently, the district needs to prioritize and manage limited resources well and respond to the needs of our families. We need conscientious oversight to ensure that happens. This new board will also select the next superintendent.
So get your ballots in!
Best of 2013 & Promising News for 2014!
With Dr. Diane Ravitch in Sept. 2013 when she spoke in Seattle, on tour with her new national best-selling book, "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools"
Dr. Diane Ravitch included the School Board victories of Steve Zimmer, Monica Ratliff, candidates in Bridgeport, CT, and myself among her “Best of 2013” list:
“9. Some of the candidates opposed by the “reformers” managed to win their elections, despite being overwhelmingly outspent by corporate funders (in many cases, the corporate funders lived thousands of miles away). Among the winners who fought off the “reform” money machine were Steve Zimmer and Monica Ratliff in Los Angeles, Sue Peters in Seattle, and the winning candidates who took control of the school board in Bridgeport, Connecticut, signaling the end of the Paul Vallas era in that small city.”
(From: The Best of 2013: the Great Awakening about the Status Quo, Diane Ravitch’s blog, Jan. 1, 2014)
The Garfield High School teachers’ stand against the MAP test also made many Top Ten and Best Of lists for 2013.
With the momentum for a $15/hour minimum wage, a socialist City Council member, a gay mayor, progressives on the School Board, and courageous teachers, Seattle continues to make both local and national news! (The inauguration of Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant and Mayor-Elect Ed Murray at City Hall on Jan. 6 is promising to be a standing-room only event.)
Public input sought on new math adoption program for kindergarten, Grades 1-5 — Seattle Public School District
Through Jan. 8, the public has the opportunity to review new K-5 math instructional materials under consideration for adoption, currently on display in the school district headquarters library.
A final two or three options will then be made available to the greater community for review at select locations throughout the city, resulting in a final recommendation which will come before the School Board for a vote. The new materials will replace the controversial Everyday Math textbooks which are overdue for review.
Those who are interested in bringing solid math to our elementary students should weigh in. If you can’t make it to the JSCEE, you can have a look online for information, sample texts and input from others.
You can share your feedback with the district online by completing the simple survey form located on the K-5 Mathematics Instructional Materials Adoption Committee web page.
Meteorologist, UW Professor and math advocate Cliff Mass also discusses the K-5 math options for Seattle’s schools in his Weather Blog. See: Seattle Public Schools Faces A Critical Decision on a New K-5 Math Curriculum, as does the Seattle Schools Community Forum Blog. See: If You Care about K-5 Math in Seattle Public Schools…
Best Wishes for 2014 to all!
New Seattle School Board: (front row L to R): Stephan Blanford, President Sharon Peaslee, Vice President Betty Patu, Harium Martin-Morris; (back row: L to R): Sherry Carr, Sue Peters, Marty McLaren – December 3, 2013
(Source: Seattle School Board web page)
Taking the oath of office, Sue & her father, Dec. 3, 2013
(photo by Melissa Westbrook)
We Have a New Seattle School Board — Seattle Schools Community Forum blog, Dec. 3, 2013
Community Meetings with Director Peters:
I will hold my first community meeting in January 2014. I will also host meetings specifically for students. Please check my district web page for updates.
In the meantime, please join me at Couth Buzzard Books in Greenwood, Friday, Dec. 6,* at noon, for the kick-off Seattle Education Meetup, hosted by the Seattle Education Blog and Parents Across America, Seattle.
(*please note corrected date.)
Since Election Night, our margin of victory has grown steadily.
On Nov. 5, we led by 51-48 percent.
As of Nov. 19, the results are 55-45% (54.76% – 44.86%)—a 10-point difference! (Current vote total: 92,197-75,538).
Save the Dates!
Newly (re)elected school board members — Betty Patu, Sue Peters and Stephan Blanford — will be sworn into office on Tuesday Dec. 3, 5-6 p.m. at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence (district headquarters).
First board meeting with the new board: Weds. Dec. 4.
[CORRECTION: Please note correct date for oath of office is Dec. 3, not Nov. 3, as originally posted.]