Monday, December 30, 2013

Patt Sutton - A Champion for Public Education in Seattle

The West Seattle Herald has a very good obituary of Patt Sutton who served two-terms as president of the Seattle School Board.  That's a very little bit of what this woman did for Seattle Public education (as well as being the mother of 12 children and working for Boeing.)  She also:
  • Upon learning there was no kindergarten due to a double levy loss, Patt volunteered for the school levy campaign in 1960.
  • By the late 1960s Patt was a leading expert in state education funding and finance. She served on the League of Women Voters Education Committee, Seattle Schools Condition Study, Seattle Citizens for School Support, and the Greater Seattle PTA.
  • Elected in 1973 as Region 6 School Board Representative, Patt championed stable school funding by initiating Seattle School District v. The State of Washington, also known as the Doran decision.
  • In 1982, she testified on educational finance to Congress as a member of the National School Boards Association.
  • She co-authored the first “Student Rights and Responsibilities” handbook for Seattle schools with fellow activist Margaret Ceis after observing mistreatment of African-American students while monitoring halls.
  • Patt believed that Seattle schools were best served by implementing their own mandatory desegregation plan rather than a court-imposed one. 
  •  She survived a recall effort, and in 1978, the Seattle School Board was selected “Citizens of the Year” by the Municipal League. 
  • Her commitment extended to special education (the Washington Association for Retarded Children, Northwest School), gifted education (Northwest Gifted Child Association past president), the development of alternative schools, and establishing alignment of community colleges within the K-16 system. 
  • She said that while desegregating schools and weathering two teacher strikes as board vice-president and president were hard, closing schools was the hardest thing she did.  
Remembrances may be made to the Patt Sutton Scholarship through the Alliance 4 Education 509 Olive Way, Suite 500, Seattle, WA 98101-2556.

I am humbled by her efforts.

What a remarkable, tireless and good person we have lost in our community.


Anonymous said...

Sad that LEV and A4Ed have strayed so far from the path she originally set.


Anonymous said...

I was the student rep to the board from the Inter-high school council for two years during Patt's tenure (and no, I don't list that on my resume). What an amazing woman. Every Wednesday I'd watch her cut through the BS with pointed, informed questioning. Furiously knitting the whole time, too, the definition of a multi-tasker. As a Nova kid, I deeply appreciated her work as an advocate on behalf of the alternative schools, as a counterbalance to director Ellen Roe, who was not.


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Very interesting facts from the life of an outstanding person. He is really a strong personality, about which no generation will speak. Thank you for sharing with curious readers.