Sunday, October 06, 2013

Live Blogging From School Board Debate

A very sparse crowd for the first debate at the Rainier Chamber of Commerce debate event.    It does not appear that it will be starting on time (a real pet peeve of mine for these types of events).

A few updated items on the race:
- The Seattle Chamber of Commerce considers Blanford and Dale Estey as part of "their" slate.
- Sue Peters won the endorsement of the SEA.
- The Great Seattle Schools PAC for Suzanne Dale Estey is up to $48K with Matt Griffin recently putting in another $15K.

Moderator for debate is Christina Lewis, Dem activist and lawyer.

Both candidates came to their places on the stage in a somewhat rushed fashion.  The moderator introduced them without any background but the candidates each have a two-minute opening statement.  They had a coin toss and Sue Peters won.

Peters: been extensively involved with district for 10 years and the only candidate with that kind of experience.  She has been on two district taskforces.  She has a 9-year old and 14-year old in SPS.  Talked about her background in blogging, in journalism and working with Parents Across America and her endorsement by Diane Ravitch as a champion for public education.  Endorsements by Sharon Tomiko-Santos, Larry Gossett and SEA.

Dale Estey: Fighter for high-quality in education, glad to be in Columbia City where groups have come together to work for a better community and that is what she has done in her previous work.
Utterly dysfunctional and personal issues than district issues.  Mentioned SPS background as student and her work on a taskforce in high school.  Worked for Ron Sims, Gary Locke, endorsed by 28 current and former state legislators, 7 City Council members.

First question: role on SB?
Dale Estey: SB has had a challenge with what we refer to as governance.  Flying at the fight altitude. Pick right battles and SP focus and make sure that you allow school administration to manage school district.

Peters: I believe first and foremost my job is to represent community and bring those to the district.  Responsible for being ambassador and represent what is strong in district and not disparge other Board members.  Hire and supervise superintendent, curriculum, due diligence and oversight.

Second - SE and Central Seattle, how many schools have you been to?
Peters: Hawthorne, Aki, Lowell, Meany, Nova, Garfield, - district is affected by socioeconomics of communities we serve.  high nubmers of F/RL and we need to bring spport services.  We need to listen to then and let them tell us what will help. Rita Green, RBHS PTA

Dale Estey: at least 8 in recent months.  Been in every building in the district over the years (I would dispute that).  Family support worker who works with 14 schools in south.  Could be closed.  Have those supports in the SE and yet keep bar high.  40% are from immigrant background, met with ELL teachers at Franklin.

Third - What make an immediate difference for AA, Hispanic and immigrant children?
DE: several hundred meetings in last couple of months.  5-point SP, start early and prenatal care and district has a role in pre-school learning.  Appalled about disproportionality, end out of school suspension.  Summer learning loss - we can make a difference.  gap in ELL professionals and finally, dealing with lack of authentic partnership with community based organizations.

Peters:  Smaller class sizes is recognized and I would work towards that.  Returning counselors to our schools - elementary and high schools.  We need career counselors.  Bilingual teachers, cultural competency.

Fourth question:  what about school boundaries and the short notice about changing them?

Peters: It's a constant refrain in the district that the district needs to listen AND respond to input.  Pay attention to ALL voices.  Hawthorne is a good example with its STEAM program and now they are being redirected away from Mercer.  We need to help schools with their progress.

Dale Estey: I don't disagree with Sue, the district has challenges with authentically listening.  You don't go out when the cake is already baked.  Hawthorne did what it was asked to do and the new proposal tears this out of the community.  I have experience working with school districts. 

Fifth question: what is your position on charter schools and their role for SPS?

Dale Estey: I am on the record as being opposed to charter schools.  They are not right for Seattle now or later.  There are huge challenges in public education with adequate funding and Washington State is near the bottom and it's not acceptable.  I can work with the 28 Seattle legislators but I know others all over the state and can get more money.

Peters:   I'm glad to hear my opponent supports my ideas that I have developed from 10 years of being in the district.  I don't support charter schools and never had.  But the biggest issues is public school is a public trust and that's why I oppose them.  They segregate students, don't serve ELL students and drain money away from existing schools.  My opponent has accepted money from the main supporters for charter schools.

Sixth question:  On a scale of 1-10, where do you rate equity (with 10 being the highest)?

Peters: It was the top item on the district taskforce I worked on for the SP.  We need robust education and not cookie cutter schools.  We need to support our alternative schools and STEM/STEAM and give students a chance to fulfill their potential.

Dale Estey: It's critical.  We don't need just equal opportunities.  We have institutional racism that pervades the entire society.  The kids aren't set up to succeed because the playing field is not level.  I just want to take minute to say my opponent is being disparging and disrespectful about my supporters.  They are strong Democrats and yes, some work with the business community.

Seventh question: We hear about the school-to-prison pipeline in SPS and the country and how this affects disadvantaged students. 

Dale Estey: SPS is under federal investigation for this and it's not acceptable.  We need kids in the classroom and it starts in the classroom.
Peters:  If we do believe all children can succeed, we need to hire teachers who believe that and work for our diverse communities and build cultural competency.  My brother is a public school teacher in an urban district in California and he sees a sense of futility in connecting studies to goals.  We have to change that.

Eighth question:  SPS is under federal investigation for disproportionality, what are your concerns?

Peters: Students of color and Sped students are being punished and suspended.  We have to address this and keep them on site, in our sights.  We have to talk about respect and behavior and raising our students to be citizens. Hire diverse teachers.  But we are not the only city dealing with this issue.

Dale Estey: I was stunned to hear about this and it's easy to put words on paper and not do much.  Class size and professional development has a long way to go and we need a more diverse workforce.  I have experience in Renton on multiple school taskforces and Renton moved the need from 50% up to 94% for several years.  (Editor's note: it was unclear if she was talking about disproportionality or graduation rates here.)

Closing statements:

Peters:  I am proud of my grassroots campaign and one that is progressive.  I have the support of all the Democratic legislative districts (and that one voted before I got into the race), the Labor Council, the SEA, the Teamsters, Local 609 and  support of four of the seven current School Board members.  I will work well with whoever serves on the Board with me in a collaborative manner.  We have 51,000 students in our district and it's a broad array of students and I value each one of them. 

I am also supported by Larry Gossett, The Stranger, Diane Ravitch, Democratic Metropolitan Council, Stella Ortega and I had the highest rate from SeaMat.  I represent the community and that is my focus.

Dale Estey:  I want to say thank you for this opportunity today.  I have a strong city-wide, positive campaign and too many people to list.  I have the support of many of the Seattle legisltion, over 500 donors, 350 endorsers and (she named a couple of union endorsements, I'm sorry I  missed them), business community.  I get dinged for business support but I believe the sponsor here today is the Rainier Valley Chamber of Commerce.  There are serious issues here and we need to question the status quo when the Board says in its evaluation that it is (dysfunctional).

It has been stated that I go to the well of my high school experience in serving on the disproportionality taskforce too often but it affected me deeply.

End of debate.

I will note that the audience did not grow even afterwards when O'Brien and Shen were to debate.  Interestingly, neither side packed the audience so the applause, when it came, was tepid for both speakers.

I thought Dale Estey the more forceful speaker (but there are always the quieter speakers like Martin-Morris and McLaren.)

I think Dale Estey may have stretched the truth in a couple of places.  One, the Board evaluation did NOT say the entire Board said it was dysfunctional.   One anonymous Board member said that.  Two, she's attended "several hundred meetings in the last couple of months" - hard to believe.  Also, I appreciate that she says she visited every single school in the district when she was in high school (again, hard to believe) but even so, the district has changed - a lot - since then.

Peters seemed to rush some of her statements, trying to get her points in.

Notable lines:
Peters:  (about out of school suspensions) - We want to keep students on-site, in our sights
Dale Estey (about the boundary changes)- You don't send a cake out already baked.

I'll have another thread on the overall campaigns and strategies that I see forming.


Anonymous said...

From Estey, I just get that "I went to school when I was growing up, so I'm qualified to be a teacher and tell them just what to do" feeling that I get from many politicians.


Trustworthy? said...

Why does Estey tell the public that she is running a grassroots campaign?

Concerned said...

Faking a grassroots movement is known as astroturfing.

Astroturfing means pretending to be a grassroots movement when in reality, the agenda and strategy are controlled by a hidden non-grassroots organization.

Yup, isn't it a bit early for Estey to be misleading the public?

Lori said...

Define grassroots. I tend to think of it as meaning that something is driven by the local community.

Interestingly, I happened to be looking at the PDC records earlier today, and Estey has far more supporters from Seattle than Peters does. And many of them are small-dollar donors, to the tune of $25 or $50. Sure, there are some big name, big donors topping the list, but there are literally hundreds of smaller donations from people who live in Seattle.

Which raises another interesting point. Right now, Estey has more than twice as many individual donors as Peters, and most of them are WA residents. I was surprised how many of Peters' donors don't even live in Washington state.

So if we want to talk about who is garnering support from local folks, at least based on who's putting their money where their beliefs are, then, yes, Estey has the grassroots support right now.

I'm sure this won't be a popular post on this blog, but facts are facts. If someone has a better metric to use to determine "grassroots support," please have it.

Matt said...

Estey's campagin is reincarnation of Maier, Sundquist and Carr's campaign. How did that work out?

We all know that those connected to $$, have the ability to bring in the $$. Matt Griffin is connected to Pine Group. Any wonder why we see individuals from Pine Group contributing to Estey's campaign.

Esty sat on the board of the Alki Foundation, which morphed into Seattle's Chamber of Commerce. Are we to believe Estey has no connection to Matt Griffin and the antics being played-out?

I've received Estey's fundraising letters asking for $50. I guess it is a way to take attention away from the Ballmers, Raikes, Christopher Larson and Matt Griffin's of the world.

Believe what you like.

No Polyanna said...

Christopher Larson, Matt Griffin and his wife have contibuted $51K to Estey's campaign.

Suzanne Dale Estey is closely linked to Matt Griffin and she values his support.

How does Matt Griffin influence elections?

Then there is Don Nielsen and Frank Greer and their connections lurking in the background.

Estey's election will determine whether or not we have a corporate backed board running our schools.

Anonymous said...

Lori said…”Estey has the grassroots support right now.”

Give me break. I took a look at the same PDC records Lori perused and it’s so obvious where Estey’s support is coming from and it’s not the grassroots community as Lori suggests. Rank order the list of donors from top to bottom and it’s clear. Just the top 25 donors by household reads like a roster of corporate education reformers – all of which are major supporters of charters and privatization. The Ballmers. Jeff Raikes (The Gates Foundation). Matt Griffin. Christopher Larson. The Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (PAC). This small cabal alone accounts for over $30,000 in donations while that precious group of small donors ($50 or less) accounts for less than $6,500.

Then consider the $45,000 that the pro-Estey PAC has contributed – funded by Matt Griffin – and a picture emerges. Well over $75,000 of Estey’s so-called “community” support coming from an elite few.

Estey can talk as much as she wants about how she is opposed to charters and values small donations, but I choose to judge the candidate by what they do rather than what they say. Make no mistake. Her campaign is dominated by corp ed reform backers.

Cherry picking only the small donations to cloak her campaign in “grassroots” façade is ridiculous and misleading. But don’t take my word for it. Just go to the PDC website ( and pull the data yourself.

Running for a volunteer school board position should NOT be about big money. I was around when the last crop of school board members were ushered in with the same big backers. And that didn’t turn out so well. Schools closed then re-opened eroding public confidence and squandering millions. The Superintendent fired. Potter-gate. And the State Auditors issued repeated damning reports of poor oversight. No thanks. We can’t afford to backslide again.

--Truth in Numbers

Defining Grassroots said...

Grassroots campaigns do not pay TWO political consultants/ strategists and a campaign manager $50K.

Estey has two campaign consultants on board. With 3 paid memebers on staff, no wonder Estey has a better fundraising strategy.

Peters has $21K and that is nothing to sneer at.

Anonymous said...

KSB is co-hosting a benefit for Sue Peters this week. Contact Sue's campaign for detail. It is on Wednesday evening.

Ann D

Anonymous said...

From Wikipedia:
"A grassroots movement is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures. Grassroots movements are often at the local level, as many volunteers in the community give their time to support the local party, which can lead to helping the national party."

I think it is clear that it is only Sue Peters who has a grassroot campaign in District IV.

SPS mom

Anonymous said...

Yeah right. How is running on "small class size" even honest on the Peter's side? If there's no money for that, and no capacity building-wise even if there were money for the statff... what does it even mean to "work towards that"? It's pandering.


Anonymous said...

Right Lori!

We have Ed-Reform-Newbie Vs App-Mom-Uber-Blogger. Some choice! Obviously, in the echo-chamber of this blog, it leans towards App-Uber-Blogger. That hasn't worked out in the past, which is why you need out of state backers. Particularly the unReform-er's support.


Just Saying said...

Estey's campaign is based on platitudes and rhetoric. She is going to lobby and fund education. Good luck.

Where does Estey draw the line between flying at the right altitude, representing the community and "micromanaging". I don't see it.

She is "outraged" and problems are "unacceptable" but how will she fix the problems?

Anonymous said...

Just saying, how would Peters fix it? I think they both are kinda stuck.

I like Peters, but it gotta be more than APP.


Anonymous said...

Peters is not "just APP." Someone on another thread also wanted to assess her potential in terms of "functional schools board characteristics."

I would argue her activism (as a parent) for better math materials is well aligned with the goal of improving outcomes for students. In addition, her arguments against the MAP test are based on the understanding that it does little for students, and takes a substantial chunk of funding that could be used to actually improve student outcomes.

Please, please, don't dis the class size argument. You COULD reduce class size in the early grades, in some of the more disadvantaged schools, for the price of the MAP. Maple Elementary had good results at one point with a limited class size initiative. Besides, NOT talking about it is hardly going to make the funding more likely, eh? We NEED someone to be countering the Gates talking points.

I think the board needs somebody who is always, always thinking and talking of steering the money to where it will benefit students.

Chris S.

Anonymous said...

But the real class size problem is in secondaries, where 32 is contract, and many classes can reach 40 it more. Then there are the teachers who see 170 or 180 students per day. MAP savings isn't going to do it. Next idea please.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I did not finish this thread as the debate went on but will finish it and then add my thoughts on the strategies for each campaign.

That said, no, I don't believe Dale Estey's is a grassroots campaign and frankly, it's kind of silly to make that claim.

I am also getting wind of yet another DE supporter who is putting out inflammatory claims about Peters (just as DE's supporters'PAC did in the primary with their flyer).

If your supporters will do/any anything to help you win, what does it say about you?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Ok, sorry, a little xpansion. Of course, Peters' position gotta be more than APP. With an APP kid, that is where I'm most familiar with her voice. For voters whose needs are different from AL, there is less to hear about. Even less from Estey. I don't know if either one will do much to lessen board dysfunction or affect what goes on in the classroom. And that is where parents need changes the most.

We did have a coalition turnover with the last board race, but can't say there has been improvement in the classroom.
Too soon to tell?
This race is kinda like the 2 white dudes race for Mayor.


Anonymous said...

Since most of the people who vote are completely clueless and uninformed, you guys are completely wasting your time on this blog.


2 Cents said...

The WPDC indicates that Estey has hired two camapign consultants and shares one consultant with Ed. Murray. His name is Christian Sinderman. Christian Sinderman is considered a premiere consultant in the political world and is highly sought after.

It is absolutely an outrageous claim that Estey's campaign is grassroots when she hired a premiere and highly sought after campaign consultant.

Frankly, Estey's claims are beginning to frighten me. Particularily if she is to be one of our elected officials.

Better Supports said...


There has been a change in the classrooms. It took a new board and a new superintendent to get elementary school counselors back into the funding formula.

mirmac1 said...

repost Anonymous at 11:44am, pick a name or you'll be deleted:

"On the claim that Peters is "just APP" - ha! Peters has been so careful and low-key in the APP web spaces, it's unbelievable. The Dale Estey supporters at APP (yes, the community is not monolithic) are proving Melissa's point about what they're willing to do. Seems to be a difference between the two camps, and only one side has been name-calling. I also think Peters has been very careful to not appear to be boxed in as an APP-only candidate, but as a student-centric candidate. I don't know if other school groups have been inundated w/board campaigning, but it wasn't Peters who started it at APP and she's proven to be very careful, which makes me think she will be fine at managing personalities on the Board."

Anonymous said...

If there's an inch of daylight Estey's positions and those of Sundquist & Maier, I haven't seen them yet. Reviewing her PDC information leads me to but once conclusion: Rubber Stamp.

Who misses the good ol' days with the Gang of Four?


Anonymous said...

I'm going to jump into the fray here to voice support for Lori's comment. Dale Estey does, have hundreds of small donors, and volunteers out doorbelling and making phone calls for her. She also got more votes from the district than her primary opponents, so that, to me, represents the "politic of the community" per the Wikipedia definition of grassroots. She isn't the candidate that this blog and its commenters support, and that's fine. But she is a good candidate with very real grassroots support.
- Estey supporter

Anonymous said...

True that and district got a bigger budget from Olympia :)

My point, is for the things that count like smaller class size, better curriculum, stability &predictability, quality of instruction and classroom experience (shouldn't depend so much on which teacher students get), school quality (depending on bad or good principal or at least do no harm one is too much like praying.
School quality depending on the make up of its students, parents, and surrounding home value just sucks because it's educational redlining), I'm just not getting that difference.

You know what would help me, if I know which way Supt. Banda is leaning because I'm starting to like this guy and he has to work with the board. Impossible to ask...

Still a month to go, I'll keep listening.


Crownhill said...

Perhaps I've become overly cynical in my middle years, but really, has any Board member EVER successfully impacted things at the classroom level? And, perhaps more importantly, is that their job? I thought the main focus of Board governance was to supervise the Superintendent and insure that policies are being followed? (as Charlie so often reminds us here).

I get that you have to have a "cause" to get elected - and frankly, the political machinations of those behind Ms. Dale Estey give me great great pause - but wouldn't a campaign focused on how you'll hold the district to its promises (including community engagement and responsible spending) and the like be closer to what a SPS board candidate can truly accomplish? Just wondering

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

I am and I have always been a progressive voter. I'm also a quick study, as many of you have nicely acknowledged, even if my posts are filled with misspellings and typos. :)

And I think that this conversation about the candidates here is about ALL the wrong things.

What we really need to be talking about is IF the candidates actually have the skills to be a School Board director and if they have the RIGHT priorities in mind. I'll write some more thoughts about that in a moment.

But First to respond to this:

repost Anonymous at 11:44am, pick a name or you'll be deleted:

"Seems to be a difference between the two camps, and only one side has been name-calling. I also think Peters has been very careful to not appear to be boxed in as an APP-only candidate, but as a student-centric candidate. I don't know if other school groups have been inundated w/board campaigning, but it wasn't Peters who started it at APP and she's proven to be very careful, which makes me think she will be fine at managing personalities on the Board."

Huh. Who exactly is doing the name calling? Sue Peters is proudly circulating the Cliff Masses article

Seems to me that she is proudly calling her opponent a bought and sold entity. I personally found this article to be incredibly offensive and divisive. And a fundamentally flawed argument. AND this was before I'd made up my mind about who I think is a better candidate.

It is equally disturbing that the other person in the race for the other seat (Stephan Blandford) is also funded by the same donors as Dale Estey. Why exactly, isn't he being called out too?

And, where has anyone on "Dale Estey's" camp done any name calling of Peters?

Lastly, "it wasn't Peters..." ?!?!

Having surrogates write articles under the veil of "information" IS campaigning. It is just a subversive way of doing things.

It is a lot like posting "information" or opinions on a blog but not signing it.

More later...


Melissa Westbrook said...

"She also got more votes from the district than her primary opponents, so that, to me, represents the "politic of the community" per the Wikipedia definition of grassroots."

That's fine but she will be elected citywide so I don't take that first vote as the most important one.

Eden, I believe that the flyers put out by Estey's suppporter PAC while not name-calling, were unfair and wrong. I also am aware of an e-mail campaign by yet another Estey supporter that is very inflammatory against Peters. I am giving Estey a chance to comment before I post anything.

The thing to remember is this: it's politics and what you think is fair. Anyone in politics will tell you it's ALL fair to win a race. I do think it interesting that Estey says hers in a "positive" race and yet her supporters seem to have missed that memo.

Peters appears to be giving as good as she gets but she has not tried to minimize Estey's qualifications.

I note Eden, you don't sign your name either.

Anonymous said...

I am voting for Sue Peters for one reason — she will work to bring a better math curriculum to SPS.

The administrators at Seattle Public Schools failed for years in their selection of textbooks. Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslee are supporters of better math and Sue would join them. With new standards and math adoptions coming up, it will be a big deal who makes the final decisions.

S parent

2 Cents said...

Estey Supporter,

PDC indicates Estey and PAC spent $57K to get out of the primary. Peters spent $6K in the primary and garnered 43% of vote and that is with 2 hit pieces.

Not an impressive winner, but Estey will never report the above statistics.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm tired and cranky as it has been 4 or maybe 5 superintendents later and how ever many boards since Olchefske, so I want more classroom tangibles from the board and the Super. Political landscape being what they are, Seattle district gonna have to learn to navigate the middle road and not get caught up as a prize or be treated as a Ping pong ball in this educational war. If we can get a good board and super Banda to chart and hold a steady course with a 5 year plan ( that includes dealing with entrenched district bureaucrats and SEA), maybe we can get some stability and breathing room to build a better learning environment for our kids. (Speaking of old super, I was visiting some friends near Olympia, and saw this about Raj Manhas

Who knew! if it's all true, good on him.)

I'm just near hearing anything that speaks to that. So yeah, speak to me Estey and Peters.

Anonymous said...

Mellissa and all regular posters on this blog—

MAN do I appreciate your enthusiasm and verve for SPS. You all have been in the trenches for years fighting for better public schools. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. As the new kid on the block (and many of you would agree that I’ve gotten up to speed VERY quickly) I’d like to point out a few things.

This blog, and journalism and open communication are VITAL to the good governance. And yet, those same characteristics which make Mellissa and all SO valuable are not necessarily the same characteristics that will make a good school board director.

Just because someone is “right”, doesn’t make an effective leader.

I attended this debate (Mellissa, I would have liked to say hello if I knew what you looked like). I think there were maybe 10 people that weren’t linked in some way to the event or to the candidates. (It was sponsored by the Rainier Chamber of Commerce so there goes the “businesses-supporting –education-is-by-it’s-very-nature-a- bad-thing” argument.)


"1. Effective school boards commit to a vision of high expectations for student achievement and quality instruction and define clear goals toward that vision."
Ok. Peters has a good vision, as does Dale Estey. And yet, I’m not clear on Peters’ clear goals toward that vision. Small class size? How do we achieve that when we don’t have enough buildings? Actually addressing the Disproportionality gap? Dale Estey has a 5 point plan of action. I still don’t understand the “how” of Peters approach.

"4. Effective school boards have a collaborative relationship with staff and the community and establish a strong communications structure to inform and engage both internal and external stakeholders in setting and achieving district goals."

AHHHH. This is honestly the one that settled if for me. COLLABORATIVE RELATIONSHIPS. Dale Estey has many years of successfully working within complex organizations and working effectively across all levels. She’s also taken her time in this campaign to meet with as many stake holders as possible, including the parents of the school where Peters’ kids are. I personally found her to be respectful, straight forward and genuinely inspired to do this work for all of our kids. I also watched as one of the community leaders at the CC debate hugged her in greeting as if they have known and respected each other for many years. Peters’ didn’t seem to care to meet the parent’s of her kid’s school until the FB group called it out. In fact, you would think that the parents in her own school would be her greatest supporters if she’d been working effectively these past 10 years. And yet the parents who have thrown their time and money at the school to mitigate the chaos that the district has wielded with moves and splits are vocally supporting Dale Estey. That is meaningful.

(To be continued because of length)

Anonymous said...

(Continued from previous post)

5. Effective school boards are data savvy: they embrace and monitor data, even when the information is negative, and use it to drive continuous improvement.

The NO testing stance by Peters seems duplicitous to me. In order for her kids to be in APP, they needed to score at a certain percentile. Yes, we need to be concerned about over testing our kids, and using that information inappropriately, but the all out ban on testing makes no sense. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Data is important, and testing is a tool. If we are using the wrong tests for the wrong reasons, let’s address that, but a war on all testing is not a reasonable approach.

6. Effective school boards align and sustain resources, such as professional development, to meet district goals. According to researchers LaRocque and Coleman, effective boards saw a responsibility to maintain high standards even in the midst of budget challenges. “

Ok. So I’m new here, but I’m quick to learn that we have a SERIOUS capacity problem. 30 portables placed in the north end in 2012; Staff AND the BOARD thinks that somehow if they split up and move the populations enough times we can mitigate this reality. We WILL need more resources to build/acquire new buildings in the next few years. BEX4 is not enough and not fast enough. We need someone in this seat that can help find the money. Small class sizes can’t happen if we don’t have the classrooms to put kids in. Dale Estey was an effective economic development director, for God’s sake. We need that skill set on the board.

I only mention 4 of the 8, but for me that is enough. You all can debate to the ends of the world if Dale Estey is being truthful when she says she does NOT support charter schools, nor does she agree with everything ALL of her donors believe. It’s all speculation, and the fact that she has a well funded campaign is NOT proof. Obama’s election was arguably won by his grass roots supporters who donated $3, and yet he still garnered the support of much more wealthy people and corporations.

You can have both, and in the current world in order to build coalitions, you actually NEED both.

Politics IS all about relationships. Being a good leader takes more than being able to point out where the problems are.

The bottom line for me is that Dale Estey has a proven track record of working successfully for the public good and I believe that her priorities are in the right place. She has also made me feel personally respected and heard.

Peters, while perhaps right in theory, I can’t see how she has any proven experience working with others to solve the challenges we face. I hear a lot of ideas that I agree with, but a professional record in journalism (with some work on a few task forces), a good number of her fellow parents actively NOT supporting her campaign and a personal experience with her that left me feeling personally disrespected.

Those are my two cents about this campaign, and I'm very happy to sign my name to it.



Matt said...

Eden, Sounds like you are new to the block. You've not been around, but you will soon learn the importance of truth, honesty and transparency in this district.

Not seeing a lot of transparency in Estey, rather desire to spin truths.

You may or may not like Peters, but she has courageous honesty.

Unknown said...

Mellissa-sorry, I've not been signing in with my google account, but I'm happy to. My name is actually Eden. I didn't make that up.

and yes, politics and fairness...whats the saying? Legislating is a lot like making sausage. You don't want to know how it's done, just as long as it tastes good?

That is not to say that I believe in any unethical methods or dirty politics to win. And from my limited experience so far, I've seen more vitriol and negative campaigning out of the Peters campaign.

Has Dale Estey called the current board dysfunctional? Yes. Is that a true statement when they themselves said it? Who knows. All I know is that I'm totally shocked by the state of things at SPS, and I've only really been looking since school started THIS year.

S Parent--I applaud the commitment to good math curriculum, but have concerns that a single issue vote will bite you in the backside, as it were. Where will our kids learn math when they don't have a place to learn in? The district is facing many significant challenges, and we need someone who can be effective at all of them, not just one or two.

But we all get to vote.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Eden, future reference - I'm the shortest woman in the room. Always.

Here's the deal with Estey's five-point plan (and a major flaw with ALL candidates no matter what the year) - School Board is a TEAM sport. There are no quarterbacks and if you run with a "plan" prepare to get shot down because it's not your business as a director to have a plan and the other directors will laugh at the newbie.

So I have no interest in anyone's plan.

Dale Estey has many years of successfully working within complex organizations and working effectively across all levels.

What does that mean in accomplishments? I hear this but I don't know what it means. She works well with others, good. I will say when I asked about her work with the Road Map project, I didn't get much on specifics and a lot on group gathering planning.

Also, Peters is at the APP elementary north school. It's a VERY different group of people (and I have news on that issue so stay tuned). I wouldn't expect (honestly) to see unified support.

You'll have to show me where Peters says no testing. I missed that one. I know she wants less and better but no testing?

Estey will be a rainmaker and find us money? I've seen business types come and go and never seen this happen. But that could be a plus, I just don't see it.

You may need both to get elected but the question is, who will Estey listen to most? Those people aren't giving her that kind of money to be nice.

Also Eden, you need to sign your full name because Eden could be anyone. That's the point.

But that was a thoughtful comment.

Unknown said...


I don't dislike Peters. I have done a ton of research and met both and am basing my personal decision on all of that information which I explained in detail already.

I am new "here", but I'm not a newbie to the world.

It is our job as citizens and those of bloggers and journalists to day light problems and call BS to issues. That doesn't mean that those same people that call BS will make good school board directors.

Is it possible that Dale Estey is secretly an operative of the super rich, plotting to bring down SPS? I suppose it is, but I think it is highly unlikely.

She is a product of SPS, three generations of teachers, and a graduate of UW's Evans school. If you are at all involved in any level of public service in this town you will know that EVAN's grads are everywhere serving their community. Stephan Blandford is one. Flip Herndon is one. I'm one too.

And one thing I know about Evans students is that they pursue a MPA instead of an MBA because they want to work for the public good and not simply personal gain.

I am basing a big chunk of my decision on that piece. Peters is a VERY smart and highly educated, and she is on the right side of the issues, for the most part IMHO.

However, effective board leadership for the betterment of an incredibly complex organization which advocates for all of Seattle's kids take more that just being able to call out the problems.

It requires the ability to bring people together to find the solutions.


Matt said...

Eden, You are so very sweet, but I'm afraid that you don't understand Seattle politics. Elect a corporate backed board and you will no longer have a voice.

Blanford is another corporate backed candidate.

Unknown said...


Sorry, I've signed in with my google account, but it is showing up as Unknown. I'm not sure how to remedy that. I'll see what I can do. :)

I appreciate all that you said. do I think that Estey will be the rain maker of money? Not necessarily. BUT, Has she been successful in getting $$$$ from the WA legislature (I don't want to misstate the values because I don't actually know how much) for the City of Renton in her tenure there? Yes. Is she endorsed by most if not all of the Seattle based WA state legislators? Yes.

Years of public service in the Clinton Whitehouse, for KC exec Ron Sims, and the City of Renton to me speak volumes about her ability to work inside of and for complex and highly politicized organizations.

She may not be playing it too loudly, but from someone who gets how public organizations work, I personally value that experience as a HUGE asset to her candidacy.

I also think she IS on the right side of the issues.

I look forward to what ever you bring to light RE: APP at Lincoln. I will stay tuned. :)

(and look for the short person next time. :) )

Matt said...

One last point, Eden. A central theme in Estey's campaign is board dysfunction. It is against board policy to publicly disparage colleagues or staff in public. How would you feel if you were a sitting Board member? How would you feel if an individual publicly called you dysfunctional for months at a time? Do you think that you'd be able to build a relationship with such an individual?

Not sorry, Estey lacks common sense.

Do as you please. I'm voting Peters.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eden, I know how endorsements go from legislators and most of them do it pro forma. I've seen it before (and, in fact, a couple of people who endorsed Blanford tell me others told them he was good, they endorsed and now regret it).

I'm glad that Estey may understand public policy and how it works but she hasn't been in governance and she certainly does NOT know SPS. And no "quick learner" is going to help anyone. This is a complex place with a lot of moving parts and players (and backstory). That is one big worry for me.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Oh geez Matt, save the sweet for babies and puppies. You don't need the cupcake, cupcake. Just lay it straight, we gals here will get it.

Anyway, if next round is at Lawton, will get off a little early for this.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, you've alluded to an "inflammatory" campaign against Sue Peters a couple of times in these comments now. I see you're waiting for the Estey campaign to get back to you, but are you also checking Ms. Peters' side for accuracy on this issue? Or are you assuming to know which side is correct?

I am "undecided" as they say, but I know you're a big Peters supporter. I'm just wondering how deep this investigation is going to go. If it's two groups of angry moms, it sounds like a soccer mom freeforall a friend of mine had to endure.

Regular Reader

Anonymous said...

After reading all the really supportive statements about Peters' advocacy around the math curriculum, and seeing that she's served on two committees, I'm wondering if her talents would be put to better use on the new math curriculum adoption committee? Eden makes a good argument that the skills required for serving on the school board aren't necessarily where Peters' strengths lie.
- square peg

Unknown said...

ok, last comment for the night...

Mellissa, thanks for the complete notes of the debate.

One point of correction, though. The Dale Estey quote about the cake...

She actually said this in reference to the fact that SPS does a less than stellar job of community engagement. She said that SPS tends to go out to the community and ask for input after the cake is already baked, instead of authentically asking for input. Having attended my first community meetings at SPS recently, I'd say that was a fair assessment.

Which actually brings me around to your question about how her involvement with the Road Map project actually meant something. I don't have any idea about that project or her involvement in it, but I DO know that better community engagement process can be a major asset to policy making, and BAD community engagement leaves people angry, frustrated, and freaking out.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Eden, you are clearly missing my point - sign your whole name if you are going to call out others for using a moniker.

'And from my limited experience so far, I've seen more vitriol and negative campaigning out of the Peters campaign. "

Okay, what would that be? And did you see the flyers that Estey's supporters' PAC put out?

RR, I have seen an e-mail that deeply troubles me. I am waiting until I hear from Estey's campaign (and I'm a little surprised it's taking so long but she has handlers).

I did not get the cake comment wrong - I put it with the question about the boundaries and both candidates mentioned lack of engagement.

As for the "dysfunctional" , Eden, I am very sad that many did NOT read the actual evaluation. That Estey's campaign has chosen to either not read it or make their own call.

I urge everyone to read for themselves. Because this is such an irritant to me, I went back and looked AGAIN.

Guess what? One anonymous Cabinet member said his/her perception from some in the community is that the Board is dysfunction.

One anonymous Board member said that IF they did not regain trust in some areas, they would be the poster child for a dysfunctional Board.

There you are.

So NO, the entire Board did NOT call itself dysfunctional. Neither did the Cabinet.

And, fyi, two other things. One, this Board has gotten a heck of a lot done AND the majority of votes were 7-0 or 6-1.

Two, that evaluation was full of GOOD stuff about the Board from BOTH the Cabinet and the Board.

But you'd have to actually read it for yourself and not take the Times' word for it.

That Estey will not stop making this claim is troubling.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Apparently, Estey thinks her election to the Board will end all the dysfunction and/or that the exit of DeBell and/or Smith-Blum will end the dysfunction.

This is if you carry her argument about a "dysfunctional Board" to its logical conclusion.

mirmac1 said...

I concur that the Board evaluation was probably the most honest, transparent discourse I have heard from ANY school board in the last 8 years. Way too shame them into playing phony kissy-face and whistling in the dark....

Anonymous said...

This thread made me go back and look. The Board's self-eval was 1 - 4 in a variety of "attributes": 4 = Outstanding; 3 = Exceeds Expectations; 2 = Meets Expectations; 1 = Needs Improvement. Out of 29 attributes, the very highest rating was only 2.7. 11 of the 29 were below "Meets Expectations." The lowest rating in the self-eval was for "Is the Board working together effectively?"

A Regular Reader

Matt said...

Eden misinterpreted my comments and I find her response reactionary. Dilema's response is disturbing.

Will check other sources for information.

Lynn said...


If I wanted to know "WHAT EXACTLY MAKES AN EFECTIVE SCHOOL BOARD?" I would not ask Bill Gates or Pearson Education. Oops - I mean the Center for Public Education. Funders

I think you can lay the blame for BAD community engagement on the Superintendent. He is responsible for managing the process of drawing boundaries.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yeah, Matt, I didn't understand that reaction either.

Unknown said...


"Eden, You are so very sweet, but I'm afraid that you don't understand Seattle politics" was what I was reacting to. Maybe you don't realize how condescending and sexist that sounds?

I am not part of Dale Estey's campaign. I've just reached an opinion after doing my research (two debates, web searches and meeting both). I can't speak to any of the campaign materials that came out. I am only speaking about the Cliff Mass article which Peters is proudly circulating(frames the race in a rich vs. poor which I think is rather divisive), my experience at Dale Estey's coffee talk, and my experience getting blasted on our school site for voicing my support for Dale Estey.

Will ANY one person on the Board be able to improve how well they function? No, it will take ALL of them to step up and do better.

But we will all now have the chance to vote between two candidates, and I think we have a better bet in Dale Estey for all of the reasons I've already explained.


Anonymous said...

"Eden, You are so very sweet, but I'm afraid that you don't understand Seattle politics"

I thought this comment was totally condescending as well. I can't imagine Matt making this comment to a man.


Karen said...


You aren't getting blasted on the school site. You blast anyone who has a different opinion than you, and you do it with incredibly condescending remarks.

Many of us have done our research, as well, and, to repeatedly imply your research is better, is annoying. This is about all your posts not just the election. You keep saying you've been to coffee chats. Have you considered that things said by Estey at a coffee chat could just be chatter to get elected? Estey won't forget those who are "paying" for her spot on the Board. That's what Matt is trying to say. Yes, maybe he said it in a condescending way, but don't be the pot that calls the kettle black.

Linh-Co said...

I don't agree with Sue Peters 100% but I do know in working with her on the Superintendent's Search Committee that she has integrity and is willing to listen to both sides.

That is why I'm voting for Sue Peters. She doesn't lie and her votes will not be bought.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It is absolutely fine to look at the candidates and make your own choice.

I have repeatedly said they are both bright and qualified. But balance on the Board is important as well as the ability to come in and start working.

That said, I note that I refuted that "dysfunctional" business and that seems to have gone overlooked. The Board didn't say that about themselves and it's wrong - for anyone - to continue to say that is true.

Unknown said...


I admittedly jumped into the fray.

I am sorry if it comes off as condescending, particularly to those that have already done their own research and reached their own conclusions.

Please accept my apologies. I don't mean to condescend. I'm just sharing my personal thoughts, and responding to the various arguments that have been put out there.


Anonymous said...

Estey sounds like an important person who wants to lend her communication skills to the board. We have had plenty of these folks come and go and some of them are still on the board. They often make poor decisions on simple things like textbook adoptions, which harm thousands of students.

I helped Marty McLaren on her campaign because I felt so strongly about this issue. It may be a single issue, but it has been mishandled by this district for years. If students cannot do math they are cut off from many careers. It matters.

Marty has urged people to vote for Sue Peters. She has a first hand view of the board and I respect her opinion. The board has many challenges to face but they really need to get the math right.

S parent