Category Archives: public education

My Farewell Statement from the Dais

November 15, 2017 was my final legislative meeting as a School Board Director and Board President. It was bittersweet because I know  board directors have an opportunity to accomplish significant and important good work for the district and there is much more work to be done. But I also know that Seattle School Board Directors are not given the tools, compensation or respect they need to fully do their job as well as they could. So serving on the board, especially for those with younger families, can be a hardship we simply cannot afford.

I was still honored to have the opportunity to serve the students and community of Seattle these past four years. Here is the statement I made at the final meeting:

Farewell Statement at my final board meeting

Thank you to staff for the beautiful flowers, and to Clover and Cashel for your kind words.

So I want to thank the people of Seattle and the Seattle schools community for the honor of serving you these past four years. I am proud and humbled to have been able to serve you and the district as your president, as your vice president, as the chair of the Audit and Finance Committee, and the Executive Committee, and to have  served on the Curriculum and Instruction Committee for two years, including during the elementary school math adoption. I have also been able to serve on the Scholarship Committee, and serving as a liaison to and from the community.

I joined the board with the objective of connecting district policy to the communities, to our families, establishing greater respect for the many voices of our communities, for establishing  greater fiscal responsibility, to invest in curricular materials, beginning with math, because we were behind in our curricular materials,  embracing the diversity of our district and valuing and helping all our students fulfill their potential.

I believe I have been true to those objectives.

I aimed to share with you all my skills and experience as a journalist, a parent, a researcher, a public education advocate, a former fact-checker for Consumer Reports, an advocate for public education, my background in communications and, to some degree, a background in education, and a longstanding commitment to social justice in all its forms.

When I think back to four years ago when I ran for office, towards the end of the campaign, when people would ask questions like “Why are you running?”  — you get tired toward the end, but you also have some clarity — I didn’t want to repeat the same talking points. So when I was then asked why was I running, I simply said: “I hope to do some good.”

It’s my sincere hope that I have been able to do that: Some good.

Another more sardonic friend, who’s actually with us this evening, suggested a campaign slogan of: Vote for Sue Peters – She’ll make things less worse! I hope at minimum, I’ve at least done that….!

It’s a sport in this town to beat up on the School Board, regardless of facts, information, regardless of who’s on the Board, it seems.  It’s a shame and it doesn’t serve anyone well. I honestly believe this current board is one of the best, most dedicated and skilled we have seen in many years. It’s also one of the most racially diverse.

And progress has been made in these four years. Of course, though, it’s never enough.

I would also like to tell the people of Seattle that there are good, dedicated people working in the John Stanford Center. Please support the district when it’s doing good work, and let us know when it isn’t – constructively would be helpful.

I also want to take a moment to thank the staff members who helped me do my job. Yes, I ask a lot of questions; I am trained to do that. I need to have facts on which to base these very important decisions because the buck does stop with us. Whatever happens, the people hold the School Board accountable for any decisions that are made.  It’s a huge responsibility which I take very seriously.

I also want to thank all the families who have come to me over the years, to my community meetings, who have emailed me; families, students, community members — your input has been invaluable and it has helped me do my job.

I’ve been advised that I should list accomplishments, some of things that have happened in the last past four years, so I will do that. But I do acknowledge that it’s never a solo act. It’s necessarily a team sport here. We work together as colleagues on the board, we work with staff, we work with the superintendent, we work with the community.

These are actions I have been fortunate to be a part of these past four years. I am proud to have authored or cosponsored policy and amendments that established or addressed many important issues large and small, from balancing a budget during a time of fiscal crisis to selecting more environmentally safe, nontoxic surface material for our tracks and fields.

I am proud to have a hand in:

  • Granting students and parents rights regarding assessments, including the right to opt out.
  • Passing resolution calling for a replacement to the Smarter Balanced assessments with assessments that are less discriminatory, more fair, and less draining of the resources of our schools and students precious time
  • Passing a moratorium on k-5 nonviolent suspensions
  • Passing a resolution that affirmed our districts commitment to our district’s rich diversity and our immigrant students.
  • Passing a resolution reestablishing our board’s commitment to truly public – not charter—schools.
  • Passing a resolution recognizing the indigenous people of the land we are on, the Duwamish Tribe.
  • Passing a resolution establishing Indigenous People’s Day – which earned us a mention and faux mockery on Stephen Colbert’s satirical show, The Colbert Report….!

I have consistently advocated for mitigation funds for the start of the school year – I’ve referred to it as the “Student Stability Fund.”

I have supported an efficiency review (audit) of the central administration so we can be fiscally responsible and can make sure that we are directing as many resources as possible to all our schools.

I have supported funding for International Baccalaureate at all of our three of our high schools that offer it.

I have supported advanced learning – acknowledging the need, investing in opportunities, increasing diversity, and simply defending these children from the unseemly and irrational prejudice that is fomented by too many in this district.

I have supported our teachers. And sometimes that means — I’ll tell this to our new directors who are joining us– sometimes  you are going to find yourself all alone with a vote. You might be the only one in a 6-1 vote. Everyone one of us up here has been that position. Don’t be afraid to do that. I was the only one to vote against an injunction against our teachers during the teachers’ strike. To our new directors, don’t be afraid to do that.

I am proud of being a member of the Board majority that advocated for adding a special ed mandate to city’s pre-k program and maintaining EEU program at the University of Washington.

I was part of the board that passed the belltime initiative that better aligns student school schedules with their biological needs, making Seattle a national leader in this area, as other districts follow suit.

In my four years on the Board we have increasingly developed a Board majority that values curriculum and understands that a key component of equity and is offering every student a fair chance at success.

To that end, we have adopted K-5 math materials, we are piloting middle school math, adopted social studies middle schools materials, supporting  “Since Time Immemorial” and now a commitment to Ethnic Studies. I am proud of this work. It is fundamental work.

I am also proud to have been part of a board and district that for four years has:

  • Had clean audits.
  • Has balanced the budget through good times and lean.
  • That has transitioned to superintendent leadership peacefully and will continue to do so.
  • That has recognized that the district can no longer close or sell schools and buildings, but has instead committed to opening and building new schools almost every year I have been on the board.

I am part of a board that has voiced a commitment to every student of every race and every gender. But we must make good on that promise.

I am proud to be a member of a school board that knows we owe it to our students and families to get things right, crucial components like:

  • The student assignment plan.
  • School improvement plans.
  • Funding as many educators and counselors as possible for our schools.
  • Recognizing that we have many students of various needs and there are gaps in outcomes that we can and must impact.

There is still much work to be done, no question about it. We need to create a district with more vision, more imagination, greater stability for our students and predictability for our families, more options not less, in our schools—more joy, less stress.

I would like to extend my best wishes to my continuing colleagues Leslie Harris, Betty Patu, Rick Burke, Scott Pinkham and Jill Geary. They are conscientious, intelligent and understood their role and duty they have to the public that elected them. Each brings valuable skills and insights.

I congratulate my longtime colleague and friend Betty Patu on her decisive re-election to the school board for a third term and an opportunity to complete her value decades of work on behalf of the students of Seattle Public Schools.

And I welcome newly elected members Eden Mack and Zachary Pullin DeWolf. Thank you for stepping up. The district is fortunate to have you. This is a rewarding job and, of course, challenging.  Your decisions will matter to so many, and will have a lasting impact. I know neither of you take the job lightly.

But I can also assure, you will be in good company. And there will be moments of laughter and joy. –I found it amusing on the campaign trail this time around, on behalf of other candidates,  there was a candidate who erroneously claimed this current board doesn’t even speak to each other. I had to laugh when I think of how many times at meetings I’ve wished the Board talked less to each other– myself included.

My tip to the new directors is: Do your homework. There is a lot of reading and thinking to do. Vote your conscience. And don’t be afraid to be the sole vote if that is where your conscience and intelligence lead you.

The day must come when we treat the job of Seattle School Board Director with the respect and resources it deserves and requires, so that it does not have to be hardship and sacrifice to serve. After all, we directors are called upon to oversee the largest school district in state and a $1 billion budget.

And no, the mayor and city should not be called upon to take over. It’s crucially important that the people of the city have elected representatives on the school board who are answerable to them, directly. Research has shown that this is still the most accountable model of school district governance.

In terms of compensation, the board’s maximum stipend of $50 a day – only on days when we have meetings — has remained unchanged since the 1980s. Adjusting for inflation alone, it should at least be $100/day. That still doesn’t take us very far. Board directors are only compensated for meetings. We are not paid anything for hours spent researching and reading.

Directors do not have their own direct staff or office space, other than two shared staff members and shared space.

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The day must come when we treat the job of Seattle School Board Director with the respect and resources it deserves and requires, so that it does not have to be hardship and sacrifice to serve. After all, we directors are called upon to oversee the largest school district in state and a $1 billion budget.

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I find it interesting that no one has made a point of the fact that we are now going to have four mayors in four months. Meanwhile the Seattle school district is entering into its fourth year with the same superintendent. So again there is a lot of information out there it would behoove us to correct.

I wish Supt Nyland well as he completes his work with the district.

_______________________________________________________________________
I find it interesting that no one has made a point of the fact that we are now going to have 4 mayors in four months. Meanwhile the Seattle School District is entering into its fourth year with the same superintendent.
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Above all, I want to thank my family – my children and my husband – who gave up more than I realized they would, to lend me to you. Thank you for your patience and love. You know more about. You know more about the complexities of a school district than any than any teenager should ever have to know.

Thank you all very much.

# # # # #

Best of luck to Seattle’s New School Board! (Their first legislative meeting is today 12/6/17)

On Nov. 28, election results were certified and Seattle School Board Directors Betty Patu (winning her third term representing District VII), Eden Mack (taking over from me as representative of District IV) and Zachary Pullin DeWolf (replacing Stephan Blanford in District V) were sworn in.

(All three won decisively. Mack defeated former educator Herbert Camet, Patu bested Teach for America alum Chelsea Byers Cremese, and DeWolf defeated Teach for America alum and Summit Sierra charter school board member Omar Vasquez.)

It was standing room only, one of the best-attended School Board swearing in ceremonies I can remember.

Guest keynote speaker was State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, invited by Board Vice President, Leslie Harris, who also ably MCed the event. Among the guests, State Representative Gerry Pollet and former Interim Mayor Tim Burgess.

Today, Dec. 6, at 4:15 pm. the new board will sit for its first legislative meeting. I wish them the best.

t.

Swearing-in of Directors Patu, Mack and DeWolf – Nov. 28, 2017

Guest speaker State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris ReykdalFormer and current School Board Directors for District IV (me and Eden Mack)

The 2017-19 Seattle School Board

(back row, L  to R): Scott Pinkham, Jill Geary, Rick Burke, Zachary DeWolf

(front row): Leslie Harris, Eden Mack, Betty Patu

 

 

Congratulations to Newly Elected (and Re-elected) Seattle School Board Directors Eden Mack, Zach DeWolf & Betty Patu!

Warmest congrats to Eden Mack and Zachary DeWolf and Betty Patu on their decisive wins in the general election on Nov 7. Results will be certified tomorrow, Nov. 28th, and they will be sworn in as official members of the Seattle School Board at 6 pm.

Welcome to the Board, Eden and Zach. And congratulations to Betty for winning her third straight election. She is now one of the longest-serving Seattle School Board directors in recent memory. She will bring valuable institutional memory and experience to the Board and District.

Eden Mack — 87%

Betty Patu — 68%

Zachary DeWolf — 64%

(as of Nov 22 vote tallies)

Thank you Seattle voters for choosing wisely.

 

 

 

Top 10 Reasons to Vote for Betty Patu for Seattle School Board!

Top 10 Reasons to Vote for Betty Patu for Seattle School Board!

  1. BETTY PATU is the only candidate with over 30 years of extensive experience with Seattle Public Schools. She has firsthand knowledge of the district’s communities, challenges, successes and goals.
  2. BETTY knows the job. With 8 years of experience overseeing the district’s $1 billion budget through good times and lean, she brings valuable knowledge and continuity to the Board.
  3. BETTY is focused on equity and results. She voted for the District’s groundbreaking Racial Equity Policy, supported a moratorium on K-5 nonviolent suspensions, helped  to align school start times to better meet student needs, and has brought programs like International Baccalaureate to Rainier Beach High School and Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) to Cleveland High School.
  4. BETTY has deep roots in the communities she represents. A native of American Samoa, she has lived and served in Southeast Seattle for decades.
  5. BETTY has skin in the game. All five of her kids graduated from Seattle Public Schools and she now has grandchildren following in their footsteps.
  6. BETTY has a proven commitment to student success. As a founder of intervention programs that helped hundreds of at-risk students, her work was featured in the New York Times, and earned the United Nations’ Humanitarian Award, Patty Senator Murray’s “Golden Tennis Award,” and many other honors for her valuable community service.
  7. BETTY is a proven civic leader. She has served as Seattle School Board President, Vice President, Chair of the Executive and Operations Committees, and the District’s City Liaison.
  8. BETTY is highly qualified. She has a Master’s degree in education administration, a degree in nursing, and experience working as a teacher.
  9. BETTY is endorsed by a broad coalition that includes: The Stranger, the Seattle Weekly, The Medium, Democratic and labor organizations, including the 32nd, 34th, 37th, 43rd  and 46th District Democrats, the King County and the Metropolitan Democrats, Local 609; State Senators Maralyn Chase and Bob Hasegawa, State Representative and House Education Committee Chair Sharon Tomiko Santos, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, Head of  the City’s Dept. of Early Learning, Dwane Chappelle, five of her six colleagues on the School Board, education leaders including Estela Ortega (El Centro de la Raza), Rita Green (NAACP), Sebrena Burr (Seattle Council PTSA), parents, teachers  and students district-wide.
  10. BETTY is  committed to public education. Unlike her opponent, she does  not support diverting resources to charter schools.
  11. *BONUS REASON!* BETTY is the only candidate in the race not funded by corporate sponsors of charter schools and Teach for America, Inc. (Leaders in Education).

VOTE FOR BETTY!    

What colleagues, parents, former students & media say about Betty Patu

“As an African American Male who attended Rainier Beach High School in the 90’s, Betty Patu has always helped not only my African American peers but all kids who needed help with resources and opportunities. She didn’t see color, she saw students as a mother tending to her children. She dedicated her life to ensuring we graduated from high school on time and I am proud to let everyone know what she did for me. I am forever grateful and love this woman! She will represent your voice on the Board in a spirit of excellence!” – Jamal Crawford, NBA Sixth Man of the Year (3x) Minnesota Timberwolves

Betty Patu is a goddamned legend. As a South Seattle high-school teacher and tireless advocate for minority students, Patu waltzed into local gang meetings to get her students to go back to class and once even barked down a student who held another peer at gunpoint. NBD! Her work directly lowered high-school dropout rates in the community. Despite spending nearly a decade on the school board—seen by many education advocates as the soul-sucking home of single-issue candidates—Patu hasn’t wavered in her commitment to equity.” The Stranger

 “Betty Patu has been one of the most determined and effective leaders in Seattle when it comes to working for every child in our schools and dismantling the structural, pervasive racism in this district.” Sebrena Burr, parent, activist and President, Seattle Council PTSA

 “We are fortunate as a district to have someone of Betty’s integrity and experience as a public servant. What is especially remarkable about Betty is that her experience is real. She has helped get kids off the streets, encouraged them to stay in school. I am convinced she has saved lives. Even now, former students come to her and tell her their lives took a different path because of her. She is a woman of courage and conviction, an honest voice that speaks from the heart but with a solid sense of common sense. She has the strength of character to be humble, but is also fierce in her dedication to meet the needs of all the children of Seattle’s public schools.”  – Sue Peters, parent, activist and President, Seattle School Board

 Betty Patu for Seattle School Board, District 7
http://bettypatu.com/

Download! – Print­! – Pass it on! = > Top 10 Reasons to Vote for Betty Patu for Seattle School PDF

VOTE – PATU – MACK – DEWOLF for Seattle School Board! Keep our Public Schools Public!

Seattle School Board District 7 Director & “Legend” Betty Patu

Seattle School Board District 4 Candidate & ed funding champion Eden Mack

Seattle School Board District 5 Candidate & committed community advocate Zachary Pullin DeWolf

Remember to vote! Ballots are due (or postmarked) by the end of NOVEMBER 7
This is an important race; please be sure to vote. The next School Board will select the next superintendent (Larry Nyland will complete his 4-year contract in mid-2018), establish the next Strategic Plan, bargain with the teachers’ union, and guide the district through a time of enrollment growth amid budget challenges.

The Best Choices for our School District This Election Are:

Betty Patu for District 7

Eden Mack for District 4.

Zachary DeWolf  for District 5


I can vouch for and am supporting Eden Mack for my seat in District 4. In District 7 (South Seattle area) my colleague Betty Patu continues to have my longstanding respect and support. In District 5 (Central District), I now recommend Zachary Pullin DeWolf.

I have worked with Betty and Eden on public education advocacy and know they will represent our many diverse communities and students well. Zach has public policy and community activism experience and has worked with Native American students.

All three have been endorsed by The Stranger. Eden has also won the support of the Seattle Times. They have all also won the sole endorsements of all the local District Democratic organizations, community leaders and elected officials, the M.L. King County Labor Council and the teachers’ union (SEA), to name a few.


Why Eden Mack, Betty Patu and Zachary DeWolf for School Board

Magnolia parent and public education activist Eden Mack is running for my seat and she has proven to be a quick study, and a very intelligent and analytical advocate for public education. A founder of Washington’s Paramount Duty who has advocated tirelessly for the state to fulfill its constitutional duty to fully fund K-12 public education (McCleary Decision), an analyst by profession, she is already very engaged and knowledgeable about the district and its challenges. She understands capacity issues, forecasting, advanced learning and Special Education, among other important matters. She has 3 children in Seattle Public Schools, and will be a hard-working and thoughtful representative on the Board who will be able to take over my position readily. Please vote for Eden: http://www.electedenmack.com/

Betty Patu is running for a final term to complete the good work she’s begun. She is deeply connected and committed to the various diverse communities of her district and has over 30 years of direct experience working for Seattle Public Schools. She is the only candidate in the entire race with children and grandchildren who have attended Seattle Public Schools. She has a strong moral compass and institutional knowledge of the district, as well as longstanding relationships with district, city and state level officials and staff. Betty has also led the Board as president and vice president. On her watch, the district adopted a Race and Equity Policy, Rainier Beach High School graduation rates rose from 53 to 81 percent, she voted to bring International Baccalaureate to Rainier Beach and STEM (Science, technology, Engineering and Math) to Cleveland High School. At the primary level, she supported bringing STEAM (STEM plus Art) to Hawthorne Elementary School in her district, and the school has been thriving.  Betty supported both Board resolutions opposing charter schools, has supported preschool for many years — long before the City embraced the  concept (despite the false claims by her opponent and the Seattle Times), has advocated for an independent audit of the central administration, and voted for new Board policies governing testing which established student and parent rights, and granting more Board oversight to program placement decisions, to name a few key decisions she has led or supported.

A woman of courage and conviction, Betty Patu has also been unafraid to be the sole vote of reason and dissent when necessary, and was the sole vote against bringing under-qualified Teach for America recruits into Seattle’s high-needs schools (See Seattle Schools Okays Teach for America). For her decades of work helping at-risk students leave gangs and graduate from school, she received the United Nations Humanitarian Award, Patty Murray’s Golden Tennis Shoe Award,  UW’s Multicultural Alumni Partnership (MAP) Award and was featured in the New York Times. The Stranger calls her a “legend.” Please read my testimonial about Betty here: http://bettypatu.com/ testimonials/ Please vote for Betty: http://bettypatu.com/

It’s disappointing that my friend and fellow public education advocate, LEAN consultant (and SPS parent) Andre Helmstetter did not quite make it through the primary (though it was close). That also means, for the first time in 50 years, there will be no African American representative on the Seattle School Board. This is a disturbing development in a city that claims to care about achievement gaps, disproportionality and racial justice.
(The Seattle Times endorsed an all-white slate in the primary election, and the Stranger did not offer a dual endorsement to Helmstetter and DeWolf when it could have. Only the Seattle Weekly had the sense to endorse Helmstetter.)

But Zachary Pullin DeWolf is the clear choice in this race now. He has a background in homeless, immigrant and LGBTQ issues, has public policy experience,  a commitment to public service, has administered educational programs for Native American students, has earned an impressive array of endorsements, and is eager to serve constructively on the Board. Please vote for Zach:http://www.electdewolf.com/

Also see:  Vote Mack, DeWolf and Patu for Seattle School District — Seattle Weekly, Oct. 18, 2017
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Privatizers in the Mix. (“Follow the money.”)

Two candidates in Seattle’s School Board races this year are affiliated with the multimillion-dollar enterprise, Teach for America, Inc., and support the privatization of public education via charter schools (Chelsea Byers Cremese and Omar Vasquez). Until very recently,  Vasquez sat on the Board of Summit Charter Schools in Washington. Interestingly, while working as a TFA recruit, Byers herself recognized that the shortcut, short-term TFA program did not prepare her well:

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After six weeks of training with Teach for America program, recent University of Oregon graduate Chelsea Byers started her first year at the Melrose Leadership Academy in Oakland. Three of seven teachers were, like her, novices to the profession. “Even with one year of experience today, I would still not call myself highly qualified,” Byers said.  “Hayward Students Sue over Teacher Quality,” East Bay Times, Aug. 2007

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The campaign financial reports on Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) site (which invites voters to “follow the money”) show that both Byers and Vasquez are being funded by corporate education privatizers like Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), Vulcan, Inc., and Teach for America’s “pipeline” organization, Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE). Vasquez has also received $1,000 from wireless billionaire and Seattle Mariners owner John Stanton, who supported 1240, the Washington State charter schools initiative, and contributed to an (unsuccessful) $900,000 retaliatory attempt, with Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s Vulcan and others, to unseat a judge from the State Supreme Court who rightly found 1240 unconstitutional.  See: Bill Gates, Others Donate nearly $1 million to Defeat Supreme Court Justice Wiggins

Similar to when I ran four years ago against a candidate backed by $240,000 of significantly corporate pro-charter money, voters need to ask: What do such funders expect in return for their investment?  — Two board directors who will push for charter schools, undertrained teachers via TFA, or teacher-less instruction via online  ‘blended, personalized learning’?

As an aside, I have never seen either of these candidates at a School Board meeting, committee meeting or Board retreat. Yet at various forums and in print, they speak disparagingly of the members of the board and their work with no evidence of real knowledge of either. (In fact, this is the most responsive, diverse and diligent School Board Seattle has seen in recent memory.) It is difficult to imagine candidates who demonstrate such disrespect for the office and the future colleagues they claim they want to join, contributing constructively to the necessary teamwork or demonstrating effective leadership on the Board.

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Thankfully, we have much better choices in  BETTY PATU,  EDEN MACK &  ZACHARY  PULLIN DEWOLF.  I urge you to join me in voting for them.

Pass it on!

— Sue Peters

Vote Andre Helmstetter – Eden Mack – Betty Patu for Seattle School Board!

Seattle School Board District 7 Director & “Legend” Betty Patu

Seattle School Board District 5 Candidate & authentic community advocate Andre HelmstetterSeattle School Board District 4 Candidate & ed funding champion Eden Mack

Remember to vote! Ballots are due (or postmarked) by the end of August 1st.

An atypically large number of candidates are running for School Board this year, some very good people among them. But only a few have the combination of experience, insight, professional skills, and connection to Seattle Public Schools that will equip them to serve our growing district and its many diverse communities well.

The best choices for our School District this election are:

Betty Patu for District 7

Andre Helmstetter for District 5

Eden Mack for District 4.

I can highly recommend all three candidates and urge you to join me in voting for them.

— Sue Peters

Passing the Baton

Dear Constituents, Families and Friends,

After serving four years on the Seattle School Board, I will not be seeking reelection. Other obligations and responsibilities beckon at this point in my life, in the realms of both family and career.

I have been honored and gratified to serve with this current Board of Directors, one of the most engaged, responsive, diligent and diverse groups of individuals to represent the Seattle schools community, as vice president and president, and to have had the opportunity and privilege to serve the district’s 54,000 students and families.

There is still much work to be done to ensure that every student has the necessary support and opportunity to fulfill their potential;  that teachers have the resources they need; that we establish a vision for the district that aligns with the values of the many diverse SPS communities; and to ensure that accountability does not stop at the doors of the John Stanford Center.

Our growing district has both challenges and opportunities ahead. I look forward to continuing to focus on a number of important initiatives for the remainder of the year.

And I believe good candidates will step up to carry on the important work of championing and strengthening public education in Seattle.

As a pillar of democracy, public education is increasingly vital in times such as these when knowledge, facts and critical thinking are under siege, and the forces of privatization aim to remove the public from this trust.

Sincerely,

Sue Peters


Seattle School Board Adopts Resolution Supporting Safe Zones for Students

On February 15, the Seattle School Board unanimously passed a resolution affirming the Board’s commitment to protecting the safety of all of the District’s 53,000 students, irrespective of race, religion, gender identity or immigration status.

The Seattle School District refuses to be party to the destructive and inhumane politics of fear fomented by Donald Trump, whose orders call for extreme actions against immigrants, and violate the founding principles and spirit of this nation.

The resolution parallels recent declarations of cities across the nation, including Seattle, Los Angeles,  San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C., reaffirming their status as sanctuary cities.

February also marked  the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 6099, President Franklin Roosevelt’s shameful 1942 decree that resulted in the rounding up and internment of over 110,000 Japanese-American citizens.

Here is my statement from the Feb 1, 2017 Board meeting where the resolution was first discussed, followed by the resolution itself, which passed unanimously at the Feb. 15 Board meeting:
A lot of directors and Superintendent Nyland have been very  eloquent in their reference to the mood of this nation right now in light of the changing of the guard at the national level, and some executive orders that have come down that have really tested the mettle, morals and principles of this nation.
 
 
We are a nation of of immigrants. A lot of us have such ties  and have history and some of those ties are quite new. My own family on both sides come from immigrant families; I also have connections to Jewish family.
 
 
So what is happening within the nation right now is something that definitely resonates.
 
And we are aware that this is having an impact within our own District. Our own District is a in a way a microcosm of the nation. We have 149 countries of origin represented in Seattle Public schools and 143 language and dialects are spoken by our students.
 
 
We as a District are committed to the education and safety of all of our students. We are going to discuss a resolution that will address this.
 
 
This has been done throughout the national already. School Boards in Los Angeles, Oakland Cal, Denver, Minneapolis, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and El Paso, Portland, Oregon as well have all passed resolutions saying to the effect that have established safe zones within their schools, they will not allow immigration officials to come and take the children away, and we are planning to create a resolution that says something similar.
 
 
I want to remind all of our children and all our families that they have 5th and 14th Amendment rights that protect them, and we will honor those rights.
 
 
This also brings to light the fact that education is so important, that history is so important. And it seems that people forget history. And it’s really frightening to see humanity make the same sort of mistakes that it’s made in the past.
 
 
And so I’m going to conclude with a poem that I would assume everybody has heard before, but at this point I no longer assume that people have heard things before or remember.
 
 
It is by a Protestant pastor  who lived during World War II, his name was Martin Niemoller, who opposed Adolph Hitler’s Nazi regime during World War II. It goes like this:
 
 

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

 

We are here, and we will speak out for all the students of Seattle Public Schools.
 
Seattle School District #1 Board Resolution Resolution No. 201 6/17-12Resolution Affirming the Provision of Safe, Welcoming, & Inclusive Schools for All Students Without Regard to Race, Religion, National Origin, or Immigration Status
A RESOLUTION of the Board of Directors of Seattle School District No. 1, King County, Seattle, Washington affirming the provision of safe, welcoming, and inclusive schools for all students without regard to race, religion, national origin, or immigration status.
WHEREAS, the School Board recognizes that our nation’s and District’s diversity is our greatest strength and we celebrate 147 countries of birth and 143 languages and dialects spoken among our 53,000 students; and
WHEREAS, the history of our community includes government actions that were enacted due to discriminatory beliefs that caused great harm to the citizens of this nation and violated basic principles of democracy; and
WHEREAS, this history includes shameful actions related to the U.S. settlement of our region that harmed our native tribes and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II; and
WHEREAS, reports of student harassment and of higher levels of student anxiety have increased due to the current national political climate; and
WHEREAS, as the history of our state, country, and world teaches us that we cannot allow those in authority to use fear to beget hate and deny the rights and dignities of our citizens, this Board fervently believes we must not succumb to or enable such inclinations;
and
WHEREAS, the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Plyler v. Doe ensures all children are legally entitled to equal access to a free public education regardless of immigration status;  and
WHEREAS, it is the policy of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that, absent a lawful exception, enforcement actions will not occur at nor are focused on schools, which are considered sensitive locations; and
WHEREAS, the presence of ICE or other immigration enforcement officials in schools would cause extreme disruption to the learning and teaching environment for students, staff, and families; and
WHEREAS, it is the policy of and strongly held belief of Seattle Public Schools that all schools must be safe and free from the targeting, discrimination, harassment, or bullying of students based on race, nation of origin, religion, immigration status, or any other factor;
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Board of Directors of Seattle Public Schools as follows:
1) In accordance with District policy and procedure as well as Superintendent Nyland’s February 2017 letter to families, Seattle School District staff will not ask for, nor record, student or family immigration status; and
2) The District calls on ICE and related federal agencies to continue the policy of not conducting enforcement actions in sensitive locations such as schools; and
3) If an ICE agent or similar official requests information about a student or access to a school building or district property, staff will not have authority to approve the request and will refer the agent/official to the Office of the General Counsel for a formal review of their credentials and written legal authority for such request; and
4) Any such agent/official shall not be allowed access to any records, school, or other District facility except to the extent specifically required by law and only upon the written consent from the General Counsel or Superintendent; and
5) Staff will be trained, and resources made available, to support students and families with concerns regarding immigration status; and
6) The District encourages families to have up-to-date emergency contact information on file with the District, in the event a student’s primary caregiver is detained due to immigration status; and
7) Under this resolution, Seattle Public Schools reaffirms our commitment to a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment for every student without regard to their race, religion, national origin, or immigration status.
ADOPTED this 15th day of February, 2017.
Sue Peters, President
Leslie Harris, Vice-President
Stephan Blanford, Member
Richard Burke, Member
Jill Geary, Member
Betty Patu, Member
Scott Pinkham, Member-at-large
ATTEST:
Dr. Larry Nyland, Superintendent
Secretary, Board of Directors
Seattle School District No. 1
King County, WA
safe-zone-res-1safe-zone-res-2

From Small Acts of Heroism to Great Acts of History

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:

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mlkmural3Here’s an excerpt from my speech:

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.

lewiskingJohn Lewis marching with Dr. King.

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Images from the Center for Civil & Human Rights: Father and son, and MLK quote