Thursday, July 25, 2013

Seattle Chamber of Commerce Jumps into Board Election

Here's the link to the flyer that was apparently mailed to homes in District IV.    It is troubling for several reasons.

One, it does not have all the candidates in the race - it leaves out Dean McColgan.  This is a signal that Estey's supporters don't consider him an issue or consider Sue Peters, her opponent, a real threat.

Two, it tries to look like an apples to apples comparison but conveniently leaves out details that might make it look balanced.  For example, it leaves out that Sue Peters also has a Master's (in journalism from Stanford) and has been a journalist (not just the dreaded "blogger").

It grossly overdoes it when comparing supporters, showing only a poor Times quote about the majority of the Board (who support Peters) and not even putting their names.  Peters is also endorsed by many more Dems groups and other media/entities.

I have not seen or heard Sue Peters say that her priority as a director is to "Get the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation out of public education."  It's not at her website.  I checked with her and she said no, she has never said that.  She has said that she welcomes organizations who want to partner with the district or give money to the district but that too many strings can be problematic. 

Estey's priority on the flyer is stated as "Support our teachers instead of blaming them for the challenges our schools face." 

But, if you go to Estey's website, under priorities, she only mentions teachers in this way," Every school needs strong leaders who will foster authentic partnerships with teachers, staff, families and the broader community."  Sounds more like she supports principals, not teachers.  I have not seen or heard any statement from Estey that is the same or similar to the priority listed on this flyer.

The flyer calls Estey "candidate for change" and Peters "more of the same."  I also think the reverse could be said - it really depends on which camp you are in.

On School Funding
Estey - Believes Seattle Schools need strong community partners including the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Gates Foundation.
Peters - Believes the Seattle Public Schools should not accept funding & support from organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

I checked their "sources" and nowhere does Peters say about the Gates Foundation what they are saying on this flyer.  As well, I cannot find the support they say Estey has for teachers anywhere at her website.

It finishes with the funny phrase "Get the facts and vote."  It's good advice that this PAC might take for itself.

Estey cannot control what supporters write but if this is any indication of how campaigning may go, fasten your seatbelts.


Eric B said...

Estey can't force the Chamber from running the ad, but she can certainly publicly disavow it, say it's not accurate, and ask them to stop running it. That would be an honorable response to the ad once their campaign has been alerted to the basic inaccuracies in it.

Po3 said...

What struck me was the "Education comarisons:

Esty: Master in Public Admin
Peters: Education blogger

However, Peters has the following:
Master’s degree in Communication (Journalism) from Stanford University, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature/Writing from the University of California, San Diego (with minors in Political Science and French Literature), and certificates in advanced-level French from the University of Paris, La Sorbonne

No question who I am voting for.

Charlie Mas said...

Wow. What a bunch of lies.

At least they signed their names to it: Matt Griffin and Christoper Larson

Surprise, Surprise! said...

Who is THE person at CASE that is responsible for making the decision to trash Peters?

Is there ANY surprise that Jon Bridge and Eric Pettigrew sit on the board?

These are our so called leaders? We get a bunch of these guys that think it is ok to pounce on Peters? Oh, they make DeBell proud. Where is their sense of dignity and shame?

Estey has quite a bunch of backers.

Anonymous said...

Didn't somebody say politics has no place in the school board? Welcome to Sleazeville. Too bad that photo of Peters makes her look like a zombie, but she has put it on her own literature. Just like the reform groups steamrolled charters, they can crush Peters if she doesn't get tougher. Nice guys finish last.


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

Oh comm'on now. Sue Peters is definitely the Anti-Gates candidate. She recently published in the Huffington Post an open letter chastising Gates. It is titled "An Open Letter to Bill Gates from a Public School Parent".... and it is written as if she already represents ALL public school parents.

Unfortunately, I don't agree with a number of the choices and "investments" you are making in our schools. I believe they have not been that effective, and some of them are even damaging.

Let's not kid ourselves. The claims that Sue Peters wants Gates out of SPS are not fabricated. The eyeball rolling and finger wagging can stop now.

And she blogs incessantly about "corporate intrest" in public schools.

The status quo is national public education policy largely determined by unelected billionaires with zero expertise in education. "Venture philanthropists" Eli Broad and Bill Gates spend millions shaping public education policy.

They might have zero expertise, but then, how much expertise on education do get from doing a journalism degree - even it if it is from Stanford?

You know. It's OK to be a Gates basher, or a Broad basher. But let's not now backpedal and say she never did that. She did, she has... You can't take it back. Might as well make it your platform, lest others do it for you. Own up! Who knows? It might work for you!


Unknown said...

Here is my interpretation of the postcard. It was put out by a "527 organization" called "Great Seattle Schools." 527 organizations are not allowed to "expressly advocate" for the election or defeat of a certain candidate. An example of a 527 organization is the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. There are no upper limits on contributions to 527s and no restrictions on who may contribute. However, 527 organizations must register with the IRS, publicly disclose their donors and file periodic reports of contributions and expenditures.

CASE is the Chamber of Commerce's PAC, and it contributed monetarily to this, but it may or may not have had any influence over the content.

Strangely, this postcard states it is disclosing its top 5 donors, but only three are listed. Maybe there are only three donors. Suzanne Naughton seems to be the treasurer for the organization. More information should be available at the IRS website. The particular database for registered 527 searches is here, but it seems to be down right now.

It's a pretty slimy bow shot for a primary election for school board.

Unknown said...

Reader-We all know that criticizing the Gates Foundation is the kiss of death. Ahem. But the truth of the matter is that the postcard sources its information from a page on the http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/ where she pulls quotes from a Bloomberg Business Week Article. She does not say she "Rejects Gates Funding and Support."

Frankly, a little more looking gift horses in the mouth would do this district some good.

Anonymous said...

The whole thing just makes Estey look bad by association. And while she might claim that she has no control over how an independent group promotes her candidacy, these are her backers after all. So one way or the other it's a smudge on her character.

I suspect this will have a rebound effect for Estey, and does not bode well for her campaign which frankly appears to be run by outside groups. Many voters are pretty sick of the sleazy nature of politics, and this little dust up just confirms people's worst suspicions.

As for Peters position on Gates and other philanthropic/corporate interests, I've spot checked her claims. She is indeed skeptical, but suggests that private grants in public education are okay as long as there is transparency and no political strings attached. Sounds reasonable to me.

As a journalist I'm sure Peters will stick to the facts. I guess we already know Estey and her supporters will be taking a different path.

-- SPS Parent & Voter

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The claims that Sue Peters wants Gates out of SPS are not fabricated"

Reader, you are stretching that statement that Peters said way ot of shape. THat she doesn't like Gates' work on public education is NOT the same as saying she wants them out. She has said they could do good work.

And I think it disingenious to say that if Gates isn't qualified, how is Peters? Peters isn't using money to get her place at the table - she's using experience and background. She is not just using her journalism degree - she's using journalism experience.

And Mary is right - the "source" that the flyer itself uses does NOT say she wants Gates out of SPS.

Disagree said...

Peon makes a grave error. Peters is tough. Why do you think these sleeze bags are attacking her?

David said...

On a related note, the latest data on campaign funding in the Peters/Dale-Etsey race is interesting:

Dale-Etsey campaign donations
Peters campaign donations

Two things stand out to me. First, Steve Ballmer (and his wife) are among the biggest donors to Dale-Etsey. Second, Dale-Etsey's campaign funding (at $37,700 so far) is five times higher than Peters' and funds spent so far over sixteen times higher; the big money is definitely behind Dale-Etsey.

What that means is up to interpretation, but it definitely is interesting.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I sent Ms. Estey an e-mail to ask her these questions and ask if she had any comment:

- did you give any input or approve the flyer?
- do you know the people named on the flyer as funders? Is so, what is your relationship with them?
- if you had not input or approval of the flyer, what was your reaction when you saw it? Were you aware of these omissions and/or factual errors?

Here's what she had to say:

"I saw the mailer to which you are referring for the first time when I opened Wednesday's mail. The Great Seattle Schools' mailing was not sent by the Suzanne for Seattle Schools campaign, and in fact, the law prohibits our campaign, including me, from coordinating with or reviewing any of the material sent out by this committee. So no, I did not provide input or approve the mailer.

I have indeed made many statements to the effect that we need to, "Support our teachers instead of blaming them for the challenges our schools face." As the daughter, granddaughter, and great granddaughter of educators and working closely with current SPS teachers, I am deeply concerned with the work load and unnecessary scapegoating they sometimes suffer. We have great teachers -- they deserve our support. The current Board is too busy fighting with each other to properly and thoughtfully provide that support.

I am working hard to do my part to help keep this campaign respectful and focused on the issues. I will continue to do so.

I appreciate your e-mail and the opportunity to respond."

As you can see, she didn't answer all the questions. I have indeed heard her speak about her family history about teachers but again, her priorities at her website do not include supporting teachers.

That she is concerned with teachers' workload and scapegoating is good to hear and I'm sure teachers would appreciate that support. I'm not sure how she, as a Board member, could affect changing that workload if she approves of things like Common Core. I think what could happen are resources/time for teachers to implement CC.

That she says the Board is too busy fighting to provide that support does continue the main line of she and Blanford - that the Board is fractured and doesn't work well. I guess my next question would be how would she know who she will work well with and who she won't (given her concern of Board fracturing).

Anonymous said...

Again, we need to read through Estey's response to break the very superficial and transparent CODE that has quickly become the identifier for her campaign:

"I approve of the hatchet job my supporters are doing to Sue Peters.
Since I am following the letter (but not necessarily the spirit) of the law, I am a Teflon candidate. No, I will not disavow the lies and omissions in the brochure because the power elite is my bread and butter and, furthermore, I agree with what they said and did."

By the way, Ms. Estey, teachers can see through this BS a mile away. We do not like, or vote for, sycophants.

--enough already

Someone said...

Spot on Enough Already, as ususal - Ms. Dale-Etsey is most interesting in what she "doesn't say" rather than what she does. SOunds like it's time to send a check to Sue Peters ;o)

ConcernedSPSParent said...

If Estey is unhappy with the flyer she could return the $1800 Matt Griffin and his wife donated to her campaign. You know, actions rather than words....

Melissa Westbrook said...

Concerned, that's a big "if".

ConcernedSPSParent said...

...and that's most worrying.

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

The flyer motivated me to make a donation to Sue's campaign yesterday. I hope it has a negative effect on Etsey's campaign, since didn't denounce it as she should have.

Wondering said...

Christian Sinderman is one of Estey's two campaign strategists.

Estey may not have seen the mailer, but did her highly paid Sinderman give a knowingly nod to Matt Griffin?

Sinderman is known for running dirty campaigns. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/07/23/why-im-not-voting-for-ed-murray

Melissa Westbrook said...

I went back and checked and I can not find anything written by Ms. Estey's campaign about support for teachers being one of her priorities. Not her website, not her KC Dems questionnaire.

She has talked about teachers in her family but the flyer said it was a priority for her campaign.

Not clear messaging if that is the case for her.

Anonymous said...

Look. Just google "Sue Peters Bill Gates" and you will see scads and scads of anti-Gates, anti-corporate postings on her blog and elsewhere. The sheer volume of these postings would lead any sane person to believe that Sue Peter's primary objective in running for school board is to lessen the effects of these monied interests on public education. It's her primary blogging topic. Does anybody doubt this? And, it's a fine reason to run. You can't back away from it at this point. You can't have it both ways. And no, you can't say, "Well, I hate the person and/or his money and/or his influence, but actually love and want the money - so long as there are no strings attached." Duh. That just doesn't fly anywhere, and it is incredibly naive. It didn't work for medium fish like Stuart Sloan who got to play with his "New School" now "Southshore" efforts because of his large donations. And it won't work with Bill Gates. If that's the new message, then it is lame. You've got to dance with who brung ya. If you're gonna take on "monied interests" and Bill Gates and other billionaires - lets hear about it!

A postcard that points out the obvious is no crime. It's totally reasonable. And, it certainly isn't the job of the opponent to speak out or help out the other side.

Being a blogger who got a degree is no special expertise in education. That appears to be the claim. However, being an elected official definitely gives you the right to make the decisions, above and beyond the donors. So, get elected, and don't shirk the issue.


mirmac1 said...

I googled Estey and "supports teachers" and all I found was...this thread. That tells me a lot more than a candidate's extensive record of research and writings on national/local education policy and its impacts in the classroom.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And no, you can't say, "Well, I hate the person and/or his money and/or his influence, but actually love and want the money - so long as there are no strings attached.

Peters has never said this. I defy you to find it. You won't. She is a journalist who has done the research and yes, she has a POV. Lots of people do.

But that's a good point - what qualifies a person to sit on the Board? No one there except Martin-Morris and McLaren has ever taught. Sherry Carr was a PTA person as was Michael DeBell. Nearly everyone except McLaren had kids in or gone thru SPS.

I appreciate (and you can go back and check that I said this) that Estey, by most measures is qualified. BUT as she herself said at Crosscut, "I'm a policy person". Great but are you a governance person? Two difference things and one the BIGGEST issues for the Board.

Will they enforce the policies they make?

No, an opponent doesn't have to help the other side. But sending out flyers that make it look like you are doing a comparison (and then you don't) is bad form.

But that's fine because Peters' side can call them out on it. If Peters sends out such a flyer, we'll call her on it as well.

This is one of my biggest peeves - people who tell half-truths or half the story. Be fair, tell the truth and I'll listen.

The minute it appears you are being deceptive (or allowing other to without a peep from you), that's when I speak out.

And I'm a blogger - Sue's a trained journalist. There is a difference.

Anonymous said...

"Being a blogger who got a degree is no special expertise in education"

The concern that has been raised on this thread is that the "degree" (and further educational work) that Ms. Peters earned was omitted from the pamphlet.

Ms. Peters' focus has been on making sure that public schools do not lose the voice of the stakeholders. Teachers are major stakeholders.

Seems like Ms. Estey should be championing Sue Peters' longtime work on supporting teachers and giving us the tools to do our jobs, without interference and persistent criticism from people like Bill Gates.

At least, that's what the pamphlet says is Estey's priority.

--enough already

Anonymous said...


Marty's children did attend Seattle Public Schools. She was the PTA president at Washington Middle School at one point.


Anonymous said...

Melissa you are the one who implies that Peters somehow wants Gates' money, but not his influence. That's not how money works.

Melissa says:
THat she doesn't like Gates' work on public education is NOT the same as saying she wants them out. She has said they could do good work

You misunderstand, I take that to mean that YOU thinks she wants his money, but not the strings. And, that's not a credible position.

I take everything she's written to mean she wants him out. And her website indicates:
We oppose efforts to privatize public education ...

On the "We Believe" page.

Here is "Parent's Guide to the Broad Foundation's Programs and Policies." (this is either written by Sue Peters or supported by her because it is on her blog, and in it:

The question I ask is why should Eli Broad and Bill Gates have more of a say as to what goes on in my child’s classroom than I do? – Sue Peters, Seattle parent

Anyway. That's all fine. Let's hear more. Let's not hear one thing, then something different because of Gate's fear. Let's hear what the voters think about money and monied interest. That is what elections are about.

BTW. I agree with you that omission of a Sue Peter's education is a problem on the postcard. I have not received the postcard.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks Lynn, for some reason I was not aware of that.

No, I didn't say Peters wants the money without strings. I said she said that too many string could be problematic.

Again, read the words and don't make things up.

Wanting to avoid privatization of public education and saying you don't support Gates efforts are not the same thing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Peters put out this statement:

What revenue sources, if any, would you support to stabilize budgeting in your jurisdiction?
"Additional revenue sources from the community, such as grants or other contributions, whether it be business or philanthropic, can be helpful to our schools, however, I would not support such sources if there are stipulations attached to these resources that are of a political nature, mandate unproven or questionable practices (such as high-stakes testing) or are lacking in transparency or public accountability in any way. I also oppose any revenue source that compromises the privacy and safety of Seattle Public School children through student data-sharing agreements, which allow private and identifiable student information to be shared with various parties.

Community partnerships can be a positive way to connect our schools with the greater community, but they should not dictate the direction."

So now she's on the record. If you believe from her writings that she's against the Gates Foundation, that's fine.

- this flyer purports to somehow quote her as getting "rid of them in public education" and cites a specific thread from her blog. It says no such thing. That's factually inaccurate.

- this thread was about the flyer, not the Gates Foundation. Separate the two and the concerns are valid.

Also, if you want to measure Peters by what you perceive she has written,do the same for Estey. I can find no written documentation for the claim that supporting teachers is one of her top priorities.

Anonymous said...

I am on the fence about the Estey and Peters race (I live in that part of the city.) I appreciate the resources that this blog provides in helping me to learn more about each candidate. So, thanks.

That said -- and it may appear quibbling to some -- but I find Peter's stance on data-sharing disingenuous when she willfully data-shared with school board reps I have emailed in the past. I got direct monetary appeals from her, using Peaslee and Smith-Blum email stashes. I think it is cheesy to use them, even if they were given freely by those school board members, especially since Peters appears to take a hard stance on the district giving out personal info to third parties. And it may not keep me ultimately from voting for Peters, but it isn't all roses and unicorns either.

Fence sitter

Dora said...


You want to talk about data sharing!?

Check out what Estey boast as one of her accomplishments.

The Road Map Project, Race to the Top, Bill Gates, a national data bank, Wireless Gen…and FERPA?


Dora said...

Here's an excerpt.

"One of the deals that we made with the devil when it came to accepting Race to the Top dollars is the relinquishing of our children’s information.

Gates and others have begun to collect information about our children from New York to LA and it is about to happen in Seattle thanks to the efforts of the Road Map project, et al, falling all over themselves to receive a pittance of educational funding, $40 M to be split between 7 districts in our state. That’s $5.7M for each school district. if it were to be divided equally.

To put this into perspective, West Seattle High School’s budget for this year is a little over $6M and that does not include building upkeep or other building costs including utilities.

The money will not go into established programs or to help with our budget crunch which happens to be a $32 M shortfall in Seattle, but is to go to “assessing” students starting in pre-school. Assessments basically mean testing on a long-term basis. This is not sustainable but oh well, there is some pie in the sky reasoning about receiving yet another largesse from Bill Gates, and maybe someday we would be able to continue to pay for everything that we have promised to deliver forever.

One of the items is data and lots of it.

Here's the list

% of children ready to succeed in school by kindergarten

% of students who are proficient in:

3rd grade reading

4th grade math

5th grade science

6th grade reading

7th grade math

8th grade science

% of:

students triggering Early Warning Indicator 1*

students triggering Early Warning Indicator 2*

students who graduate high school on time

graduating high school students meeting minimum requirements to apply to a Washington state 4-year college

students at community and technical colleges enrolling in pre-college coursework

students who enroll in postsecondary education by age 24

students continuing past the first year of postsecondary

students who earn a post-secondary credential by age 24

* Early warning indicators are for 6th and 9th grade students. EW1: Six or more absences and one or more course failure(s). EW2: One or more suspension(s) or expulsion(s)

The following is a list of the Road Map Project contributing indicators. These contributing indicators combined with the on-track indicators make up the full list of Road map Project indicators.

% of

children born weighing less than 5.5 pounds

eligible children enrolled in select formal early learning programs

licensed childcare centers meeting quality criteria

children daily

children meeting age-level expectations at the end of preschool

children enrolled in full-day kindergarten

students taking algebra by the 8th grade

students passing the exams required for high school graduation

English language learning students making progress in learning English

students absent 20 or more days per year

students who make a non-promotional school change

students motivated and engaged to succeed in school

students attending schools with low state achievement index ratings

females age 15-17 giving birth

8th graders reporting select risk factors on the Healthy Youth Survey

students exhibiting 21st century skills

students who graduate high school by age 21

high school graduates completing a formal career and technical education program

eligible students who complete the College Bound application by the end of 8th grade

graduating College Bound students who have completed the FAFSA

students who directly enroll in postsecondary education

students employed within 1 and 5 years of completing or leaving post secondary education, including wage

Quite frankly, by the time all of this information is mined and correlated, there will be no money left for all of the wonderful programs that the Road Map Project professes will diminish the achievement gap forever. But, oh well, we won Race to the Top money!"

Dora said...

I would say about Suzanne that she is well-meaning but misguided. We don't need someone like that on the school board. We've had enough of that already.

Dora said...


If you want to know Sue, talk to her.

She is genuine and understands more than most in Seattle what's going on in our district and beyond.

If I ever need to ask a question about what's happening in SPS, I have three go-to people, Melissa, Charlie and Sue Peters.

Sue has two children in SPS and has several years of experience within the Seattle school district system, Estey doesn't have that experience yet. What Sue doesn't know, she has the curiosity and know-how to find the answers.

That she has proven with her writings and her actions.

Talk to Sue and you will understand why I and others trust her and support her.

Anonymous said...

Was going to sit this one out. Got the flier and thought it was goofy. The flier informs voter who likes the Gates Foundation and who doesn't. Evidently that's the only information a voter needs to know. Wonder if this new litmus test applies in the mayoral race too. It'll probably show up on the state EOC.

The chamber folks must think voters are twits. If Estey supporters keep this up, I may have to vote against her.


mirmac1 said...


That's not the half of it. A big chunk of the RTTT funds go towards hiring PSESD staff, buying their computers and office supplies, outside contractors and covering their indirect costs. The rest is dribbled out to those district who submit competitive proposals, outlining what skin they're putting in the game, and ponying up dollars for dollar to get piddly "one-time" grants. More than half the money for the Road Map projects comes from existing Title I, Title II, State BEA and LAP. Yes, we're expected to divert funds already barely covering expenses to pay for Gates' latest theories.

The Road Map Project states: "The importance of sustainability has been a major factor in every facet of the proposal's development. If the grant is awarded, sustainability will be a strongly weighted criterion in all the subsequent Investment Fund decisions. In our Consortium grant proposal development process, priority was given to including Projects where the impact could be maximized with one-time investments.

Where investments are proposed that might impact ongoing district budgets, the Executive Committee will require districts to analyze their potential for redeploying existing dollars before they are awarded Race to the Top dollars. In the specific awarding processes of the Investment Funds, we will explicitly require match dollars in order to ensure that other funders are brought in early and to ensure that districts are strongly invested in project success. Building local ownership of the Consortium’s major regional system change will be key to achieving and sustaining much higher system performance."

Yes, they want our skin in the game. Remind you about how TFA and their backers wanted to hit SPS up for $4K per trainee, to show our "commitment". OUR commitment! For short-timers in the classroom!

Melissa Westbrook said...

And Sigh, that's the puzzlement.

While certainly the average voter might not know a lot about the workings of Seattle Schools, I like to think the average voter also doesn't just take things at face value.

A candidate would run on just getting one hugely popular and influential group out of SPS (a group that is based in our city)?

Sounds like political suicide to me and yet the Chamber wants you to believe that's what Sue would do.

That's she's some wild-eyed "agitator" (to use Estey's own word). In contrast to the calm "she's one of us" language for Estey.

No, we're not that dumb and I don't think most voters are.

Unknown said...

Great Seattle Schools is a 527 group formed by Chris Larson, Matt Griffin and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce's PAC, Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE.) The sole purpose of "Great Schools Now," per documents filed with the PDC are to support Suzanne Dale Estey and Stephan Blanford. There are only three funders thus far to Great Schools Now, $15,000 from Chris Larson, $15,000 from Matt Griffin and $2,750 from CASE. This puts Matt Griffin and his wife, Evelyne Rozner's total donations to Dale Estey's campaign at $18,600, Chris Larson's at 16,800 and CASE's contributions at $3,425 thus far.

mirmac1 said...

Isn't Matt Griffin happy playing with his TFA, and Larson with his Southshore? I guess that doesn't satisfy their intent to monetize Seattle Schools?