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:
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.
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/
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
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.
As my campaign predicted, the political action committee (PAC) created to get political lobbyist and consultant Suzanne Dale Estey elected to the Seattle School Board, has stooped to yet another low, and attacked my candidacy yet again.
Their latest dishonest mailer arrived in mailboxes citywide Wednesday.
Demonstrating the negative influence of excessive money in political campaigns (a hot topic in Seattle right now, where we have two initiatives addressing campaign funding on the current ballot), the “Great Seattle Schools” PAChas amassed over $100,000 from a small group of wealthy individuals (with no children in Seattle Public Schools) who are apparently desperate to buy the election for my opponent and will resort to any means they think necessary.
What’s more, their latest claim is absurd. They refer to a factual flow chart created three years ago by Seattle Education Blogco-founder Dora Taylor and myself, in which we illustrate the flow of money from two of the largest private funding sources in public education: The Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation.
They label it a “conspiracy theory.”
It is neither. In fact, the primary source of the information for this chart was the Gates Foundation itself.Its informative online database of awarded grants lists where it has invested its money. It’s no secret that education is one of the foundation’s key areas of focus.
Called“The Lines of Influence,”when we posted our diagram three years ago, we received an overwhelming positive response nationwide, for it connected various dots. It documented the role and influence of private foundation money in public education.
(…) For years, Bill Gates focused his education philanthropy on overhauling large schools and opening small ones. His new strategy is more ambitious: overhauling the nation’s education policies. To that end, the foundation is financing educators to pose alternatives to union orthodoxies on issues like the seniority system and the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers.
In some cases, Mr. Gates is creating entirely new advocacy groups. The foundation is also paying Harvard-trained data specialists to work inside school districts, not only to crunch numbers but also to change practices. It is bankrolling many of the Washington analysts who interpret education issues for journalists and giving grants to some media organizations.
“We’ve learned that school-level investments aren’t enough to drive systemic changes,” said Allan C. Golston, the president of the foundation’s United States program. “The importance of advocacy has gotten clearer and clearer.”
The foundation spent $373 million on education in 2009, the latest year for which its tax returns are available, and devoted $78 million to advocacy — quadruple the amount spent on advocacy in 2005. Over the next five or six years, Mr. Golston said, the foundation expects to pour $3.5 billion more into education, up to 15 percent of it on advocacy.
Given the scale and scope of the largess, some worry that the foundation’s assertive philanthropy is squelching independent thought, while others express concerns about transparency. Few policy makers, reporters or members of the public who encounter advocates like Teach Plus or pundits like Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute realize they are underwritten by the foundation.
“It’s Orwellian in the sense that through this vast funding they start to control even how we tacitly think about the problems facing public education,” said Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who said he received no financing from the foundation. (…)
(…) Now a new generation of philanthropic billionaires, including Gates, homebuilding and insurance entrepreneur Eli Broad, members of the Walton family that founded Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), and former hedge fund manager Julian Robertson, want public education run more like a business. Charter schools, independent of local school districts and typically free of unionized teachers, are one of their favorite causes. “We don’t know anything about how to teach or reading curriculum or any of that,” Broad said last year at a public event in Manhattan. “But what we do know about is management and governance.”
Already I have gotten responses from people around the city who received this mailer, ranging from utter disgust with the Estey campaign (always the risk with negative campaigning), to compliments for the informative flow chart.
Disappointingly, Dale Estey’s supporters are apparently not interested in discussing the real issues facing our schools, families and students, like serious overcrowding, class sizes, policies that are out of touch with the realities of our communities, curriculum, excessive testing, and equal resources and opportunities for our district’s 51,000 students, just to name a few.
I urge voters to sort through the facts themselves and not be swayed by the distortions of a small group of wealthy special interests (and a candidate who fails to denounce them) who are desperately trying to buy this election, by any means necessary.
I believe the Estey PAC has underestimated the intelligence and integrity of the Seattle electorate.
As a trained journalist and public education advocate, I remain committed to facts and the truth, as I have demonstrated in the past, and will continue to demonstrate this commitment if I am elected to serve on the school board.
Thank you for your support. Please remember to vote. Clearly the stakes are very high in this election.
UPDATE: The Dale Estey PAC mailed yet another dishonest flyer to Seattle voters on Friday, for a total of four such attacks on my candidacy since July. This one is truly bizarre. It falsely attributes to me words and images that were posted on the Seattle Education Blog last year from, I believe, the No on 1240 (anti-charter schools) campaign. The title is “Evil Doers” and it is truly tabloid-esque. My opponent has yet to denounce the mendacious tactics of her supporters. Sadly, some people will say or pay anything to win an election. 11/3/13
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).
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 Ballmer, Jeff 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).
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.
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 capitalistNick 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.
Chris Larson, co-owner of the Seattle Mariners ($30,000)
Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer ($20,000)
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.