Category Archives: Sue Peters

Matt Griffin & the Role of Big Money in Local Politics — including the School Board Race

Real estate developer Matt Griffin and his wallet. Is he trying to buy a Seattle School Board election?Real estate developer Matt Griffin and his wallet. Is he trying to buy a Seattle School Board election?

There was an interesting article in The Stranger recently by Cienna Madrid about the role of wealthy individuals in local political campaigns and the effort to limit that influence with

Proposition 1 (which I support). Madrid referred specifically to one of the top local political donors, real estate developer Matt Griffin. (Who Wants to Keep Big Money in Local Politics?, The Stranger, Sept. 16, 2013.)

The article caught the eye of my campaign because Griffin has also gotten involved in the Seattle School Board race this year, creating a political action committee (PAC) with the purpose of getting my opponent, Suzanne Dale Estey, and in District 5, Stephan Blanford, elected. His PAC, “Great Seattle Schools,” is also funded by former ex-Microsoft millionaire Christopher Larson, neither of whom have children in SPS, and CASE (Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy), the PAC of the Chamber of Commerce (the parent organization of the Alliance for Education).

In the August 6 primary election, Larson and Griffin’s PAC spent $32,500 on behalf of my opponent, Suzanne Dale Estey, $16,000 of which on two dishonest mailers attacking my candidacy.  (See: “My Opponent’s Side Goes Negative: My Response.”)  I believe such negative attacks are unprecedented for a Seattle School Board primary.

Now, just a few weeks ago, on Sept. 16, Matt Griffin deposited another $15,000 in his “Great Seattle Schools” PAC. So my campaign is expecting a third attack on me sometime soon. (I’ll report on it here.)

At a total of $32,300 (so far), Griffin’s financial contribution to my opponent’s candidacy adds up to more than the total contributions of all my supporters combined.

This year, for the first time, there are campaign finance limits for the Seattle School Board race, an idea I have supported for a while. Each individual or organization can contribute a maximum of $900 per candidate, per race (primary and general). But PACs have no limits, effectively offering an end-run around campaign finance reform, and arguably, an end-run around democracy, for it allows individuals with the most money to have greater influence.

Food for Thought

When asked about the behavior of the “Great Seattle Schools” PAC on her behalf, my opponent told the Seattle Times’ Linda Shaw that she is “not going to illegally try to inhibit their freedom of speech” of people like Griffin and Larson.  (Independent group enters school board campaign with negative ad, Seattle Times, August 1,2013.)

Well, here’s the question: Are we really talking about free speech — or undue influence? Democracy — or something else? Should our elections be won by those with the most money, or those with the best ideas and qualifications?

My race is a clear example of this choice.

In fact, the primary has revealed a clear distinction between my opponent and myself. I am backed by progressive, Democratic and labor organizations, community leaders and educators, and my top contributors are retired teachers, parents and friends. I am the only candidate in this race endorsed by every Democratic Legislative District (except the one that held its endorsement the day before I joined the race!), and have the sole endorsement of the SEA (the teachers’ and paraprofessionals’ union), M.L. King County Labor Council and the King County Democrats, community leaders like Kay Bullitt, Estela Ortega,  elected officials including King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, City Councilmember Nick Licata,  State Senators Maralyn Chase and Bob Hasegawa, State Representatives  Sharon Tomiko Santos, Gerry Pollet and Cindy Ryu.

My opponent’s top contributors include Microsoft CEO Steve and Connie BallmerJeff Raikes, the CEO of the Gates Foundation, businessmen Matt Griffin, Christopher Larson — who support  controversial and discredited ed reforms like charter schools, merit pay, and an emphasis on standardized, high-stakes testing. The person who put I-1240 (the charter school initiative) on the ballot last year has also endorsed my opponent (Tania de sa Campos, of DFER).

mollyiJournalist, author, humorist Molly Ivins (1944-2007)

As I said to the audience at the Horizon House forum this past Monday, “To quote the late, great Molly Ivins: You gotta dance with them what brung ya’ — and that’s who’s bringing” my opponent, the backers of corporate ed reform.

(At the 37th District Democrats endorsement meeting last month, my opponent claimed not to know who her top five contributors are–  the CEOs of some of the largest corporations and foundations in the world.)

This race prompted Dr. Diane Ravitch to write: Seattle: Status Quo Crowd Fears Sue Peters

UPDATE: On Oct. 11, Seattle Mariners co-owner Chris Larson added $15,000 to the “Great Seattle Schools” PAC pro-charter ed reform PAC Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), added another $10,000, and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer added $10,000.

On Oct 14, Hanauer added another $10,000, bringing the total cash amount in the political action committee to elect Suzanne Dale Estey to an unprecedented $96,000. Combined with Estey’s campaign funds of nearly $100,000, this is on track to be the most heavily funded School Board candidacy in Seattle history.

Seattle Mariners co-owner Chris Larson

Chris Larson,
co-owner of the Seattle
Mariners ($30,000)

 

NickH

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer
($20,000)

lisamDFER

Democrats for Education Reform – DFER ($10,000)
(DFER WA State Director, Lisa McFarlane)

If you believe that a few wealthy individuals should not decide who our school board members should be, and have undue influence on our elected officials and legislative bodies, please support and contribute to my campaign. And please remember to vote by November 5.

Thank you.

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DONATE! VOLUNTEER! VOTE! PASS IT ON!

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Highlights from Diane Ravitch’s Talk in Seattle

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Chatting with Diane Ravitch after her talk in Kane Hall, at the University of Washington. She assured me that grassroots campaigns can be won!

Some words of wisdom from Dr. Ravitch:

“If you close a school, usually it destroys the community as well.”

“The most important causes of low achievement are poverty and segregation.”

“Tests should be used diagnostically.”

“Most tests should be made by teachers.”

“Standardized tests are a very accurate measure of a parent’s income and education. They do not measure the capacity to learn.”

“We have overdosed on testing.”

“Principals should themselves be master teachers.”

“Superintendents should be experienced educators.”

(To the teachers of Garfield High School who spoke up against the flawed MAP test.) “They brought so much heart and hope to the nation. Thank you for your courage.”

She concluded her talk by reading the final paragraphs from her new bestselling book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools:

“Genuine school reform must be built on hope, not fear; on encouragement, not threats; on inspiration, not compulsion; on trust, not carrots and sticks; on belief in the dignity of the human person, not a slavish devotion to data; on support and mutual respect, not a regime of punishment and blame. To be lasting, school reform must rely on collaboration and teamwork among students, parents, teachers, principals, administrators, and local communities.

“Despite its faults, the American system of democratically controlled schools has been the mainstay of our communities and the foundation of our nation’s success. We must work together to improve our public schools. We must extend the promise of equal educational opportunity to all the chidlren of our nation. Protecting our public schools against privatization and saving them for future generations of American children is the civil rights issue of our time.”

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“We must treasure public education. We must make it stronger and better. It belongs to all of us.” — Diane Ravitch

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Primary Results: Ideas Trump Money — Sue Peters’ campaign is earning votes, not buying them

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Source: PDC reports through 8/19/2013, includes independent Political Action Committee (PAC) and in-kind donations. Certified election returns as of 8/20/2013.

The results are in, and my campaign finished the primary with nearly 43 percent of the vote in a three-way race. After garnering 41 percent on election night, my margin gradually rose while my opponent’s gradually decreased.  The final numbers give her only a 4.5 percent lead. It’s all pretty incremental and the final tally is quite close.

What isn’t close is how much money we spent on our campaigns and how we chose to get out the vote. My opponent outspent me by 8:1, paying political consultants to help her craft her message and campaign.  My community-based, all-volunteer campaign spent roughly 77 cents per vote;  my opponent’s campaign spent roughly $6 per vote.

Additionally, some of my opponent’s supporters formed a PAC and spent $32,500 trying to discredit my candidacy with two dishonest attack mailers.

In contrast, my volunteers and I opted to encourage voters to vote for me, with truthful information and 100 percent volunteer, grassroots support.

Fiscal Responsibility Begins with My Campaign

I believe that fiscal responsibility begins right here, with my campaign. As we all know, our schools are woefully underfunded and our state is not meeting its paramount duty to fully fund K-12 public education. Making smart use of limited resources is a crucial skill every school board director will need, and I am demonstrating my commitment to this principle with my campaign.

Trying to buy your way into winning an election is one strategy. Earning votes through true community engagement and fact-based ideas and solutions is my strategy.

Join my campaign!
Spread the word!
BE A CHAMPION for PUBLIC EDUCATION!

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Or send a check to: SUE PETERS FOR SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, 2212 Queen Anne Avenue North, #611, Seattle, WA 98109

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My Thank You to Diane Ravitch and the Network for Public Education

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from Diane Ravitch’s blog:

Sue Peters Says Thank You and Outlines Her Vision for Seattle Education

By dianerav
August 8, 2013 //

Seattle just held its local elections, and Sue Peters won a spot in a run-off election for the Seattle school board. She won 41% of the vote, despite being vastly outspent, and her opponent won 47%.

Sue wrote the following letter, thanking the Network for Public Education for providing its endorsement, which identified her as the real education supporter.

Please send her support if you can. Her website is here.  I just made a contribution via Paypal.

I thought that readers would want to read her description of her vision for the Seattle public schools:

I just wanted to extend my deepest thanks to you and NPE for the timely and meaningful endorsement of my candidacy. It came at a crucial time, right when my opponent’s side chose to go negative (twice!), and as we led up to the primary election.

Diane, thank you for your tweet on my behalf as well.

Locally, people are very impressed by this honor and support, and nationally I have received a constant flow of donations ever since the endorsement and tweet.

And here’s more good news: Last night I qualified for the general election, earning 41 percent of the vote so far (with 50 percent of ballots counted). (My opponent is at 47 percent at the moment.) This is despite being outspent 6-1, without hiring political consultants, and without resorting to smear tactics against my opponent. I am proud of my authentic, community-based campaign which has focused on the issues and maintained its integrity. I am confident that my positive and constructive message, and the value of my nearly decade of knowledge of the Seattle Public School District, will resonate with voters throughout the city as we go forth into the general election.

Here is what I support:

  • Fiscally and academically responsible decisions that prioritize directing resources to the classroom and our kids.
  • An education system that embraces & celebrates the individuality and diversity of our children & helps each child fulfill his/her potential.
  • A rich, engaging curriculum that includes the arts, sciences, math, humanities, music & P.E.
  • Decisions and policies that reflect the needs of our schools and families.
  • More teaching & learning, less testing.
  • Respect for teachers.
  • Keeping public education public.

Thank you all again.

Best,

Sue

Sue Peters Advances to the Nov. 5 General Election!

Election Night brought great news — 41 percent of the vote (and still counting) and we advance to the November 5 election!

I’m proud of my genuine, grassroots campaign, powered by dedicated volunteers and savvy, experienced public education champions.

Despite being outspent  by about 6-1, my  campaign has clearly resonated with many voters. As we advance to the  general election, I will continue to conduct a strong, community-responsive campaign focused on the issues, and take our message to the whole city.

A big THANK YOU to all my volunteers, and to all the voters who have supported my candidacy this far.

UPDATE! As of August 8, my total has increased to 42 percent of the votes tallied.

SAVE THE DATE! November 5, Election Day — VOTE FOR SUE PETERS for SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD!

Breaking News! Sue Peters Endorsed by Diane Ravitch’s Network for Public Education

I have been endorsed by Diane Ravitch’s national public education advocacy organization, the Network for Public Education.

endorsement sue peters

“Help elect Sue Peters to Seattle School Board, a champion of public education.” — Diane Ravitch

 

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Or send a check to: SUE PETERS FOR SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, 2212 Queen Anne Avenue North, #611, Seattle, WA 98109

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Top 10 Reasons to Vote for Sue Peters for Seattle School Board!

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  1. Sue Peters is the only candidate with nearly 10 years of extensive experience with Seattle Public Schools (SPS), and has firsthand knowledge of the district’s communities, challenges, successes and goals.
  2. Sue is the only candidate with current experience in elementary, middle, and high school, in SPS.
  3. She is a proven local and national leader in education advocacy, as a founding member of Parents Across America, the Seattle Math Coalition, and the Seattle Education blog.
  4. Sue is the only candidate who has served on two Seattle School District task forces: the Superintendent Search Community Focus Group (2012), and the Strategic Plan Stakeholder Task Force (2013).
  5. Sue has analyzed and written about public education policy and practices for the past 5 years, as a journalist with a Master’s degree from Stanford.
  6. As a parent advocate, Sue has spoken up about important issues like school closures, the need for strong curricula, student safety and privacy, the problems with the MAP test, and has spoken alongside education historian Dr. Diane Ravitch about the importance of including the voice of parents in public education.
  7. Sue supports an education system that embraces & celebrates the individuality and diversity of our children.
  8. Sue supports a greater investment in teaching and learning, and less testing.
  9. Sue is endorsed by a broad progressive coalition that includes: The Stranger, Democratic and labor organizations, such as the 11th, 32nd, 34th, 36th, 37th, and 43rdDistrict Democrats, the King County and the Metropolitan Democrats, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, M. L. King Jr. County Labor Council, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 609, The Teamsters Joint Council No. 28; State Senators Maralyn Chase & Bob Hasegawa, State Representatives Gerry Pollet & Joe Fitzgibbon, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, four of her seven future colleagues on the school board, education leaders like Cliff Mass, parents & teachers district-wide.
  10. Sue has a longtime proven commitment to keeping public education public, and she will represent YOU!
  11. *BONUS REASON!* Sue is the only candidate not funded by corporate supporters of charter schools nor backed by a Political Action Committee that has spent $32,500 on negative and dishonest campaigning. (http://www.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/CommitteeData/expenditures?param=R1JFQVNTIDExMQ%3D%3D%3D%3D&year=2013&type=single)

VOTE FOR SUE!    

What colleagues, neighbors, parents & teachers say about Sue Peters

“Having worked across the table with Sue in the district Strategic Planning Task Force work these past months, I want to support her offer to run for the school board. She’s got the right sort of insight and savvy to represent parents and students in addressing the decisions faced by our Seattle Public Schools.” – Craig Seasholes, Librarian, Sanislo Elementary School, and 2013 Strategic Plan Stakeholder Task Force Member
“When election time comes this fall, vote for Seattle School Board candidates that support good math.  Sue Peters, is a strong advocate of strong math textbooks for our city’s kids.  I know she would make an excellent school board member.” Cliff Mass, UW Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, KPLU weather commentator, and math advocate

“I look forward to Sue applying her considerable intellect, integrity, thoughtfulness, and compassion to the Seattle School Board. I can’t  think, in all sincerity, of another person I would rather have representing the interests of Seattle’s students in that capacity. Go, Sue!”  – Tim Richards, parent

Sue Peters for Seattle School Board, District 4
suepeters4schoolboard.org suepeters4sps@yahoo.com
2212 Queen Anne Avenue North, #611, Seattle, WA 98109

(updated 9.24.13)

My Opponent’s Side Goes Negative: My Response

For the Record….

Last week, a mailer was sent out to thousands of voters in Seattle School District 4 by a small group of supporters of Suzanne Dale Estey: Suzanne Naughton of the Great Seattle Schools, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE, the political action committee of the Chamber of Commerce), local businessmen Matt Griffin and Christopher Larson.

It contains false and incomplete information about my campaign. My views, qualifications and endorsements are misrepresented or omitted altogether. Though there are three candidates in the race, I am the only one singled out for this treatment.

Like many others, I was disturbed to see supporters of my opponent resort to such dishonest tactics on her behalf, and so early in the race.

Yet, it is also an indication of the strength and appeal of my candidacy.

I am proud of our authentic and smart grassroots campaign, which has focused on ideas and solutions to serious school district issues. Already we have been able to achieve a great deal, powered by dedicated volunteers, and connecting with supporters throughout the city. Our campaign has managed to win significant and sole endorsements, including that of The Stranger, the M.L. King County Labor Council, and various Democratic organizations, and has earned the highest marks in the race from the Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee.

The Company We Keep

I was gratified to hear from many voters that the mailer had the reverse effect of what was intended. It made them more inclined to support me, and disgusted with the negative tactic. It even resulted in a surge in our campaign contributions that week. Though her own campaign did not generate the ad,  my opponent, disappointingly,  has not denounced it.

Meanwhile, I remain focused on issues that are important to the public who value my nearly 10 years of experience and deep knowledge of the Seattle Public School District, my local and national advocacy and service for public education as a Stanford-trained journalist, and my commitment to representing all the people of the Seattle Public School District.

In the interest of truth and accuracy, here are some corrections, for the record.

–Sue Peters

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UPDATE: Dale Estey supporters send second dishonest mailer

August 2, just a few days before the primary election, the same group of individuals who launched a smear campaign against my candidacy the previous week sent a second, similar 4-color, two-sided mailer to thousands of voters in Seattle’s District 4. 

Once again, real estate developer Matt Griffin, former Microsoft executive Christopher Larson, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) the PAC of the Chamber of Commerce, and “Great Seattle Schools,” a new PAC created to support the school board candidacies of Suzanne Dale Estey and Stephan Blanford, has issued another negative mailer targeting me.

This is a clear attempt to influence the election using unlimited independent expenditures and illustrates the negative influence of unchecked funding in politics. It’s ironic that this group, which is criticizing me for being concerned about the unaccountable, unelected influence of private money on public education, would illustrate my very point with their attempt to influence this election with their private money.

This unprecedented leap into negativity in a school board primary has caught the attention of the local media, Publicola (Independent Expenditure in the …  School Board Race), even the Seattle Times (Independent group enters school board campaign with negative ad), and has now made national news with my new endorsement from the Network for Public Education, Dr. Diane Ravitch’s new advocacy organization.

Meanwhile, my opponent, Suzanne Dale Estey, has told the Seattle Times that she agrees with the dishonest message her supporters are spreading.

Send a positive message. Help support our community-based, grassroots campaign.

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