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.Read More
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.Read More
By Erin Jones
As a former high-level athlete...
As someone who came to the United States in 1989 with the dream of someday playing for the national soccer team (I was good but never that good)...
As someone who tried out for 2 WNBA teams in 2000 and learned that non-drafted players typically were paid $20-$30,000/year (about the same as what I made as a starting teacher)...
As someone who has known players in both the NFL and NBA...
The issue of pay for female athletes has been on my mind for a long time.Read More
This is the year, if there ever was one, to really change Seattle Public Schools. In addition to the four seats up for election this fall, two additional school board members in Seattle (Betty Patu and Zachary DeWolf) have announced their desire to resign this year and vacate their seats early.
The school board only has seven members to begin with. By the end of this year, we could essentially have a completely new school board. I've written more about this that I'll share tomorrow, but I just want to plant the seed for now.
Our school board has been a dysfunctional roadblock to change for too long. Imagine six new champions for equity filling these school board seats. Think of what's suddenly possible!
This is a rare opportunity. Let's make the most of it.
Above all, if we don't know what impact this will have on marginalized communities in the district, then we need to find out. If we're serious about wanting to close the opportunity gap, then the first and most important question we need to ask about every single decision concerning our students and our schools is what impact it will have on Black students. What impact will this have on low-income families in Seattle? What impact will this have on Seattle Public Schools’ indigenous students? What impact will this have on the kids we talk about wanting to uplift?
If our outcomes are ever going to change, then our decision-making processes have to change. Otherwise, we will continue to end up in the same places again and again and again.Read More
Critics of the current school board note that it spends too much time focused on issues that don’t improve student achievement and don’t resolve opportunity gaps. In fact, actions the board has taken in the past have made those gaps worse. And though it made an impressive hire, appointing Denise Juneau as superintendent last summer, it has also hampered her and the professional educators that she leads in addressing these issues.
So, could you do better?Read More
The opportunity gap, as we all know, is a byproduct of systemic oppression playing out in our schools. The way to upend systemic oppression is to find a way to turn the system on its head. Targeted universalism applies that table-flipping mentality in a constructive way. I’m so surprised and pleased to hear this idea mentioned as our schools’ strategic north star.
I got the latest issue of The Augustana Magazine in my mailbox this week. It’s the alumni magazine from my alma mater. I flipped through it today, paused and read about the Augustana baseball team’s national title, and was about to recycle it until the page listing new faculty hires and promotions caught my eye.
Take a look at it. What do you notice? What do all of these folks seem to have in common?Read More
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
The implication from charter school opponents is that our traditional public school system is the model for how money should be distributed. Charter schools are diverting public funds, they say, using them to serve only “some” students when this public money is intended for all students.
But isn’t that the definition of an opportunity gap? Aren’t our public schools already taking money intended for all students and distributing it inequitably?Read More
I’m sure you know by now that two Black men were arrested after a Starbucks employee called them in for being Black a few weeks back.
Every Starbucks closed today in response to that incident, and every Starbucks employee in universes both known and otherwise attended a racial bias training this afternoon.Read More
The Washington State Charters Schools Association Conference is this weekend, which means we get to take a look behind the curtain of the charter school movement in Washington. What are they thinking about? What are they talking about? What are their priorities and their blind spots?Read More
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
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
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 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 email@example.com. Please feel free to copy me (firstname.lastname@example.org)! 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
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
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.
"Thanks for doing what you're doing," I said. "You've made me feel proud to live in Seattle."Read More
If, like me, you are the parent of a student of color in Washington, then it's time for us to speak up.Read More
"I was a racist teacher and I didn’t recognize it.
At the time that I taught, I would have argued that I was the opposite. I was a progressive, a Democrat. I campaigned in my progressive town in Western North Carolina for the first Black man to run for the U.S. Senate against a notorious racist from our state, Jesse Helms. I voted for Obama, even volunteered in his office during the 2008 campaign."Read More