Catching systemic racism in the act in Seattle Public Schools

Catching systemic racism in the act in Seattle Public Schools

By Matt Halvorson

Systemic racism is often hard to see in action.

It’s easy to look back and wonder, how did we get here? How do we have such deep-rooted opportunity gaps in our schools? How do we have so few Black teachers? How can there be such a thing as a “school-to-prison” pipeline? How do we have so few women of color in positions of elected leadership?

These systemic issues are not necessarily carried out by people of malicious intent. They are carried out by all of us every day as we make seemingly reasonable decisions, and through polices and processes that masquerade as neutral.

We are in the eleventh hour of one such process, but it’s not too late! Today — this very evening — we have a chance to catch the system in the act. So let’s do it.

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Shedding new light on the final three candidates for the District VII School Board position in Seattle

Shedding new light on the final three candidates for the District VII School Board position in Seattle

By Stephan Blanford

The Seattle School Board will announce its collective choice tomorrow for the Southeast Seattle district representative on the board. As a reminder, Director Betty Patu, who served in that role for the last 10 years, announced her resignation on May 15, a few days after a deadline that would have allowed the District 7 voters to choose her replacement. Instead, the remaining six school board directors then devised a process to solicit applications from interested district residents, and were wowed to receive 13 applications for what is widely known as “the most thankless job in Seattle.”

Through a series of applicant statements and public forums, we have learned much about the 13 applicants and now, the three finalists for the position. But through telephone interviews with each of the applicants, I sought to shed a bit more light on their qualifications, their priorities and to pose a few relevant questions that I have not yet heard asked.

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With this many good applicants to represent District VII, who will the Seattle School Board choose? And how will they decide?

With this many good applicants to represent District VII, who will the Seattle School Board choose? And how will they decide?

By Stephan Blanford

This unusual appointment process presents a quandary for the six sitting board directors, who were all in attendance at the forum. Patu announced her departure just before the elections deadline, effectively blocking District 7 voters from choosing her successor. Instead, the six school board directors, and not the Southeast Seattle community, will choose who represents the district on the school board for the remaining 2 years and 3 months of her term.

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Let’s meet the candidates for Seattle’s District VII school board position

Let’s meet the candidates for Seattle’s District VII school board position

By Matt Halvorson

I’m thrilled with the depth of this candidate pool and impressed with every candidate’s passion and good intentions. They are standing before us volunteering their time and souls to service on the school board. And they’re opening themselves up to everything that comes along with that process, including being considered by people like me who have thoughts and opinions. But the fact also remains that we have to choose one person, and that we don’t get to just take the whole field.

So, as we seek an equity champion, a change-maker with an unshakable sense of urgency and possibility and love, a hero with an understanding of the relationship between systemic oppression and public education, here are my first impressions of the candidates — my takeaways from the District VII Candidate Forum. I look forward to seeing how tonight’s forum at RBHS shapes my thinking even further.

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Twelve candidates have applied to represent District 7 on the Seattle School Board. Here's what we know so far ⁠— and what to watch for.

Twelve candidates have applied to represent District 7 on the Seattle School Board. Here's what we know so far ⁠— and what to watch for.

By Stephan Blanford

Over the weekend, the Seattle School Board finally released the applications of the 12 Southeast Seattle residents who filed to replace Betty Patu on the board. The District 7 seat, which Patu held for 10 years, was vacated July 1 and will be filled when the six remaining board members cast votes for their preferred applicant at the Aug. 14 board meeting.

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The portal is now open. Seattle, our time is at hand.

The portal is now open. Seattle, our time is at hand.

The portal is now open. Our time is at hand. 

It sounds like science fiction, but alas, the portal is online rather than interdimensional, and the opportunity we now face would allow us to completely revamp our school board before the end of the year.

So the machinations of the Seattle School Board might involve fewer lasers than you were hoping for, but it’s important nonetheless. 

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Betty Patu is resigning from the Seattle School Board. We're just asking for a legitimate, transparent process... (that results in appointing a champion for equity)

Betty Patu is resigning from the Seattle School Board. We're just asking for a legitimate, transparent process... (that results in appointing a champion for equity)

Betty Patu, our longtime school board director in Southeast Seattle, will resign her position at the end of the month, but the timing of her announcement has cast doubt on the integrity of the entire process.

Patu announced her resignation at the May 15 school board meeting, which wouldn’t be remarkable except that if the announcement had come three days earlier, her replacement would have been elected by voters.

As it is, the school board will take applications from the public, and the board will have the final say in appointing Patu’s replacement.

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