I'm pleasantly surprised to find myself optimistic that Seattle Public Schools are headed in the right direction

I'm pleasantly surprised to find myself optimistic that Seattle Public Schools are headed in the right direction

I ask humbly for your help. What else is happening that I should know about in our schools? Can you give me more reason to be hopeful, more stories about the progress our district is making? Can you tell me more about the teachers meeting with inmates, or about something that gives you hope for the future?

And if not that, are there more areas we need to shine a light on? What else is happening that also needs to change?

Thank you for your thoughts and your optimism as we look ahead, and thank you for doing what you do in important times like these. It’s going to be a good year.

Read More

Our New Superintendent Is the Change We Need, But Frankly Not as Much Change as I Want

Our New Superintendent Is the Change We Need, But Frankly Not as Much Change as I Want

It doesn’t feel like we’ve found a savior. We’ve got Wedge Antilles here, not Luke Skywalker. Wedge is nice, but he’s just one good pilot, you know? He’s a quiet leader, an accomplished rebel, but we need to blow up the Death Star, and we all know he’s not going to be the one to do that.

With Juneau, it feels similar, like we’ve found a good, highly qualified public school superintendent who will be committed to doing more than just paying lip service to the need for equity. She's all in. That much is crystal clear within a few minutes with her. But because she doesn’t have a fully revolutionary track record, I don’t believe she will make a difference in time for my kids. I don’t think she’s going to move to Seattle and blow up the Death Star.

Read More

Can Seattle's choice to hire Denise Juneau elevate the voices of our most marginalized students?

Can Seattle's choice to hire Denise Juneau elevate the voices of our most marginalized students?

The Seattle School Board chose our new superintendent last night, and it’s going to be Denise Juneau.

Juneau became the first openly gay candidate for federal office in Montana when she ran for a seat in the House in 2016, and she will become Seattle’s first Native American superintendent when she officially takes over for Larry Nyland on July 1.

She was the clear choice among the three finalists, and while Juneau is certainly a traditional candidate in one sense — she has been a classroom teacher, administrator and the elected superintendent of Montana’s schools — I applaud the board for bringing a genuinely new perspective to the office.

Read More

A few quick thoughts about Seattle’s superintendent candidates after last night’s public forum

A few quick thoughts about Seattle’s superintendent candidates after last night’s public forum

We met the three finalists chosen by the school board — Jeanice Swift, Denise Juneau and Andre Spencer, in that order — and each candidate spoke with Keisha Scarlett of SPS for 45 minutes in a question-and-answer format.

Here are my brief-as-I-can-be thoughts about the three people we’re choosing between to lead Seattle’s schools.

Read More

Seattle Public Schools have announced three finalists for Superintendent. Who will you choose?

Seattle Public Schools have announced three finalists for Superintendent. Who will you choose?

People say the superintendent has limited power or limited impact, but in Seattle, strength in this position is our greatest hope for the kind of transformational change our kids deserve.

We need a strong superintendent in Seattle because we need someone who will commit to and force an unpopular agenda through, if necessary — even in the face of pushback.

Desegregation was quite unpopular among white parents back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Seattle today is just brimming with white parents — we are one of the whitest major cities in the nation, in fact. Equity efforts will be unpopular here and now, too. We have to expect that and prepare to rise above it.

Real change is hard and uncomfortable, and yet it’s what we need. So, we need a leader who will press on through through that difficulty and discomfort — even through outright disapproval and unpopularity — to do what needs to be done. We need that strength from our leader because we can’t rely on the general population of Seattle to have the vision to demand and make such changes right now.

Read More

Seattle Public Schools has invited us all to a Superintendent Search Public Forum on March 29. Let's go.

Seattle Public Schools has invited us all to a Superintendent Search Public Forum on March 29. Let's go.

Seattle Public Schools is searching at breakneck speed for a new superintendent. The district sent out an email to its list of parents and families inviting us all to a public forum at the end of the month to meet the three finalists for the supe job.

This is important. We can submit questions ahead of time by emailing them to boardoffice@seattleschools.org. Please feel free to copy me (matt.a.halvorson@gmail.com)! I'd love to know what questions we're asking.

Let's make sure it's impossible for these candidates to be confused about the fact that equity is our singular top priority. We need to force these potential district leaders to demonstrate whether or not they know what's at stake, and we need to find out for ourselves if any of the three people the Seattle School Board introduces us to will be willing and able to take the kind of radical, bold action that could lead to unprecedented educational equity.

Read More

Do we have any reason to believe the Seattle School Board has the skills needed to choose a superintendent who can close our opportunity gaps?

Do we have any reason to believe the Seattle School Board has the skills needed to choose a superintendent who can close our opportunity gaps?

The Seattle School Board is in the beginning stages of finding a new superintendent to lead Seattle Public Schools. Also, they're apparently near the finish line.

Despite the fact that the application materials still aren’t available online, Ray and Associates, the firm chosen to conduct the search, still lists Feb. 28 as the deadline to apply. The board, meanwhile, after opening their ears to a brief moment of community input, has apparently decided to stay the course and still plans to hire the new superintendent before the end of March.

That doesn't give us much time.

First off, here's what the board says they're looking for in a candidate...

Read More

Seattle needs a superintendent in the Bob Ferguson mold — someone who knows right from wrong and won't take any shit

Seattle needs a superintendent in the Bob Ferguson mold — someone who knows right from wrong and won't take any shit

By the time we reached the first floor and the elevator doors slid open, I was pretty sure I was standing next to Bob Ferguson, Washington State's attorney general. So, I asked him.

"Excuse me," I said. "Are you Bob Ferguson?"

"Yes, I am," he said.

Okay. Mystery solved. I told him my name and shook his hand.

What now?

"Thanks for doing what you're doing," I said. "You've made me feel proud to live in Seattle."

Read More