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.


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 Adolf 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;
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
Dr. Larry Nyland, Superintendent
Secretary, Board of Directors
Seattle School District No. 1
King County, WA

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:



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.



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

Honoring MLK, Jr. — We have much work to do




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


Seattle School Board Passes Resolution that Reaffirms Commitment to Public Schools & Opposition to Charters

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).


Click to access 20160302_Action_Report_Resolution201516-13_Charter_PACKET.pdf

Click to access 20160302_Action_Report_Amendment_Geary_Charter.pdf




Thank you, Seattle! Both 2016 school levies pass by wide margins!

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:

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





Congratulations & Welcome to Seattle’s New School Board Directors-Elect!

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

Remember to VOTE by November 3! School Board and City Council seats on the ballot



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.

Where to find a 24-hour drop box near you!

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!