Last Call for School Board Candidates

Update:  As I predicted, a few more candidates at the last minute.

District IV  (This makes 9 - count 'em 9 - candidates for this seat.)

Lisa Melenyzer.  Was co-president of the Whittier PTA in 2012 and was/is a staffer in the Hamilton MS office and was the Hamilton MS PTA president in 2014.  She may have been a lawyer but is not practicing now.  She has spoken in support of McCleary funding at the Capitol.

Anh M. Nguyen.  She works for Koru and previously for the Gates Foundation for eight years on the education side.  She's on the boards of Summer Search and Foundation for Student Success.     She speaks English and Vietnamese.  She has two children.  She attended what is possibly the most exclusive high school in the U.S. - Phillips Academy Andover- and Harvard.
I currently serve on the leadership team of Koru, where we're mobilizing the “Grit over Grades” revolution with innovative talent leaders from some of the world’s leading enterprises. My focus is on growing our company as a whole and leading our Customer Success team in particular to deliver the best experience and value to our partners.

Prior to Koru and in my spare time, I am obsessed with improving educational access, quality, and affordability for all, particularly low-income young adults. I had the great fortune to contribute to systems-level change in K12 and higher education while at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Locally, I serve on the board of Summer Search.
District V (This makes 6 candidates for this district.)

Michelle Sarju She is the Director, Community Health and Clinical Linkages at Foundation for Healthy Generations.  She was the Best Starts for Kids Campaign Co-chair initiative in 2015.  She has a Master of Social Work (MSW) Field Of Study Integrated Health-Mental Health, Maternal-Child Health, Leadership and Administration.  She was also a midwife.  

District VII (This makes 3 candidates for this district.)
Chelsea Byers (Cremese).   (Ms. Byers is another candidate that registered with one name but appears to also have another last name, presumably her married name.)  She used to work for a company called General Assembly:
General Assembly is a pioneer in education and career transformation, specializing in today’s most in-demand skills. 
From GA's profile: She spent several years as a Teach For America math teacher in Oakland, CA. After that, she went to England to earn a masters in quantitative analysis from the London School of Economics, where she also helped to train teachers and develop curriculum for a flagship outreach program at University College London. She then followed this line of work to Hong Kong and Italy. Now at General Assembly, Chelsea manages training and development for instructors and leads a team of instructional coaches.

I'll just note that her LinkedIn page says she was in TFA teaching in Oakland for two years.  

She recently joined Galvanize

end of update
Here are the latest additions.  I suspect there may still be a couple more additions before the filing deadline today at 4 pm.

District IV (Director Peters' district)

Darrell Toland.  His website link is for a graphic design business under his name but his LinkedIn page indicates he works at the company called Precor.  He writes a web-comic, Stix and Bones.

This makes seven people vying for this position.

District V (Director Blanford's district)

Alec Cooper.  Cooper works for Amazon.  My understanding is that he does currently have children in SPS.   He does not have a campaign website but has a Facebook page.  
He has a statement there that includes better management, HCC, and accountability.  About Him:
Having worked in business and technology for 25 years my focus has been solving complex problems, understanding & meeting customer needs and getting results. I want to bring these skills and experience to SPS. I am a past President and Treasurer of the Garfield PTSA and a parent with two children in SPS and one in private school
Omar Vasquez. A lawyer at Davis, Wright, Tremaine, one of the largest law firms in Seattle.  He was in TFA and serves on their WA alumni board.  He is also on the six-member Washington state board of directors for Summit charter schools in Washington.  He is a member of couple of Hispanic professional groups and was on the Mayor’s Education Summit Advisory Group, City of Seattle, 2016.  Re the Summit work:
Omar has experience advising education-related nonprofits, ed tech startups, and charter schools. Prior to law school, Omar taught AP Calculus for six years in Arizona through Teach for America.  The board members will be charged with the governance of Summit’s schools in Washington state. These duties include adopting policies, approving budgets and ensuring the schools meet the needs of the communities they serve.
From TFA Washington's profile of him:
Education area you are most passionate about:
Reimagining curriculum for the 21st century
 From his Twitter feed:
The responsibility of schools is to make children aware of our information environments, which have become our entertainment environments.
I will just say at this point that the entrance of pro-charter candidates in the LA School Board race saw very accelerated fundraising.

Andre Helmstetter.  He is a Senior Consultant at Matisia Consultants, a consulting firm that certainly does work in areas that SPS needs help in.  He does have a campaign website but the link does not appear to be working.  He coached chess at Leschi Elementary for two years.  He is bi-racial and has two children.   He ran for school board in 2009 and both the Times and I endorsed him at that time.  He received a recommendation of "Good" from the Muni Board at that time.  

Candace Vaivadas.  She is the Owner and Principal Investigator at Vaivadas Legal Research & Investigations.  Post K-12 she was educated in London and Switzerland.  She appears to do other work but I'll have to verify that.

District VII
Director Betty Patu is running.  She is finishing her second term on the Board. 

Tony Hemphill.  He is a chiropractor who also has an MBA and graduated from Garfield in 1991.  


Anonymous said…
I don't see how Patu could possibly manage to campaign, she can't sting together more than 2-3 words and forget about her creating a coherent sentence. Sure she means well, but seriously Betty it's time to give it a rest.

PU, you did read that she won two campaigns? Clearly, she's been able to communicate to some voters.
not mc t said…
I disagree. patu has done a good job as a check on staff. but glad there is going to be a choice in november. probably stick with her though.too early to say.

andre seems interesting and has a nice piece in the times about leschi montessori, very thoughtful.

no caps
Anonymous said…
Yes she did and good for her on that, but I'm basing my subjective comment off her time as SB president and having listened to her speak at events. It appeared to me that Sue Peters had to hold her hand during every single SB meeting.

I wish she would have sponsored a younger sharper person to carry one for her causes.


not mc-t said…
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I cannot vote for someone who supports charter schools - especially someone who serves on a charter school board (and a TFA board!) Thus, I'll be looking at other candidates in District V beyond Omar Vasquez.
Robert, my only observation for now is just that Mr. Vasquez sounds like he has a very full plate. I'd expect that if he was on the Seattle School Board, he'd leave the Summit board.
Greenwoody said…
Looks like someone hijacked Robert's other alias.
Anh Nguyen just filed for District IV - former Gates Foundation staffer, now works for an ed tech company. Looks like a concerted effort by charter/ed tech/Gates Foundation to try and take over the school board. Saddle up, folks. This is going to be a decisive election for our kids' future.
Anonymous said…
@ Robert

A little dramatic don't you think? We been hearing of the boogeyman charter/ed tech/Gates Foundation for the last 10-15 years and nothing has happened but the same old SPS BS. It's time to face the fact it's SPS itself that is its own boogeyman.

PO, apparently you haven't been paying attention to what those groups are doing in other states.
NO 1240 said…
Anh M. Nguyen- No thanks

Nguyen attended exclusive private schools. Do her children attend public school?

"I had the great fortune to contribute to systems-level change in K12 and higher education while at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Locally, I serve on the board of Summer Search."

Omar Vasquez has deep ties to the charter community:
dan dempsey said…
PO ... Apparently you missed the 2007 election when the four winning candidates spent $480,000 to get elected and liked nearly everything Maria Goodloe Johnson proposed. This included $800,000 for three years of New Tech services at Cleveland. .... A whole lots of other interesting choices were made by this crew. .... Be alert.
Watching said…
Betty Patu has worked tirelessly for Seattle Public Schools for the past 32 years. She has successfully directed award-winning educational programs recognized to increase graduation rates, grow the number of college-bound students and reduce gang violence.

"Over the past two decades, Betty Patu has been honored with numerous awards, including the Wives of NBA Allstar's "Women Standing Tall" Award, Asian Pacific Women's Caucus, "Warrior in Education" Award, Patty Murray "tennis shoe" award, the Governor's Volunteer Award, the Mayor's Volunteer Award and the Big Sister "Role Model" Award.
She is a current board member at Rainier Beach Community Empowerment Coalition, Past President of Asian Counseling Referral Services (ACRS), Vice President of Rainier Beach Foundation, Past Vice President, Rainier Beach Parent, Teachers, Students Association (PTSA) and Founder/President, Islanders Children & Youth Services (ICYS)."

Director Betty Patu has served our community with dignity and grace.

Sadly, more than anything, PU's comments reflect poorly on him or herself.
Anonymous said…
"The responsibility of schools is to make children aware of our information environments, which have become our entertainment environments."


Let's just hope he means the ability to navigate fact from fiction.

Betty Patu has been the truth wand of the school board. The bias against her "standard English" reveals ignorance. But I don't doubt for a minute that many of her defenders here would jump ship and say the same thing were she not protecting their interests.

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Anonymous said…
I'll miss Sue Peters. I remember the hope I had when Math In Focus was passed. But, that was quickly quelled by the insubordination of staff. :-(

Perhaps, some more questions for candidates...

? What action do they think appropriate for the Board to take in cases of insubordination.
? Do they think the role of the School Board is to define and enforce policy. With the current example of Enrollment Planning creating their own policies in regard to Open Enrollment, setting School Capacity, and Waitlist movement.

From Eden's words here and her observed actions I think she will be a strong candidate. Just wish we could have both her and Sue.

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chunga said…
I see that Lisa Melenyzer works for the district. Does anyone know if there are any laws about district employees running? Would she have to give up that position?
Chunga,I don't think so but I'll check into it.
Greg said…
Hey, Melissa, I'd love to see a summary of everyone who is running in each district along with your opinionated evaluation of each. That'd be helpful for those of us who are trying to decide who to support in a crowded field. You're probably already planning on doing that, but please just consider this a vote for it!
NO 1240 said…
Despite a highly funded campaign to bring charter schools into this state, Seattle residents voted NO.

Any candidate that seeks to privatize our education system is going to have an enormous fight on their hands. Enormous.

One does not need to look beyond our recent Supreme Court races. Ballmer funded the Supreme Court races with hundreds of millions of dollars and their candidates lost. Money does not equate to a win.
joanna said…
Just thought I would post this complete list. I may have missed if you commented on Zachary in District V since he was first to file. I know or know of most of the candidates in V and have no preference at the moment, except to say that what is being said about Omar and charter schools is true.

Seattle School District 1, Director District 4
Eden Mack
Sean Champagne
Herbert J. Camet, Jr.
Jeff Jones
Megan Locatelli Hyska
Jennifer Crow
Darrell Toland
Lisa Melenyzer
Anh M. Nguyen
Back to top

Seattle School District 1, Director District 5
Zachary Pullin DeWolf
Alec Cooper
Omar Vasquez
Andre Helmstetter
Candace Vaivadas
Michelle Sarju
Back to top

Seattle School District 1, Director District 7
Betty Patu
Tony Hemphill
Chelsea Byers
Popcorn said…
WEA is going to have an uphill battle if there are three ed-tech/charter connected candidates who do not think charter schools are anathema to public education. UTLA is/was extremely powerful and had a huge influence in previous elections for school board in that city. It was the most expensive school board race in the nation's history--with large amounts of money invested by both pro and anti reform groups. The most recognized candidate (and school board chair) Steve Zimmer was walloped: 60%/40%.
NO 1240 said…
Patu is too old and seems angry all the time. She also tend to focus only on minority issues.
Popcorn said…
Wow No 1240....I hope this is the "troll" version of your username...ageism and racism in one post?
Greg, I am going to endeavor to interview all the SB candidates (and some of the mayoral candidates). I'll let you know what I learn.

Popcorn, well, those "three ed-tech/charter connected candidates" will have to get elected first. But I'll try to find out their thoughts; it's clear Mr. Vasquez is closely associated with charter schools.

As for the spending, I can only say Seattle voters will not like huge sums of outside money coming in (but I guess Gates could make up for that).

No on 1240, Betty is anything but "angry all the time." That's a completely specious statement. As for "old", that's ageism.

And I'm thinking yes, this is not No on 1240.

Person, besides being sad, pathetic, and troll-like, you are being deceptive. You cannot fall much lower. Go away now.
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Anonymous said…
Helmstetter ran in the 2009 primary against Mary Bass and Kay Smith-Blum. He received 12% of the vote.

"Obnoxious" [white?] dog owners? "Polite" drug dealers (possibly armed), and you know, breaking the law as well?

I found it interesting that some candidates had pictures of their dogs on their websites. We get that pets are like family to some folks, but I'd suggest a professional style head shot for serious candidates.

Looking forward to learning more...

Greg said…
Sadly, that quote is not from William Gibson. Great line though.
No on 1240 said…
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NO 1240 said…
You are correct on all accounts, Melissa. I have nothing but admiration and respect for Director Patu.

I don't feel the need to defend Director Patu. Director Patu's history of public service is well documented. Director Patu moves through this world with nothing but dignity and grace.

To the individual that feels it necessary to make derogatory comments with someone else's handle- I wish you peace.
If there are comments to be made about the candidates, great. Blog issues, I will address. We have made clear our rules and if you chose to not follow them, your post will be deleted.

I've said this before - don't like this blog, you don't have to be here and you don't have to comment.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FWIW, you violated our rules; that's why you were deleted. I said nothing about your mental state. Other people,like Dora Taylor, did the same.

Again, don't like it - don't be here.
And again, such a brave, brave comment from someone who won't sign their name.

My bias? At least I have the courage to stand up and be counted.
Now we go back to the topic stated and everything not on topic will be deleted.
BTDT said…
If an employee is elected to the board, she or he has to resign if they earn more than $1500 per month under the law.
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joanna said…
Shouldn't the candidates have to use their home address (voter registration address, where they reside) for filing?
Anonymous said…
It's hard to care about this. I've felt invested and hopeful in elections past, but then disappointed that the school board just goes along with whatever JSCEE wants anyway. What's the point? I feel like we're wasting our time.

Mag mom
Anonymous said…
That ever happened with the investigation into Patu ?

Joanna, did someone use a PO Box?

Mag Mom, it's incremental change that is happening but honestly, operations are still not right and I long for those who will be more forceful in their expectations that it be right.

JW, if you have real and credible info on any investigation, please provide it. Otherwise, cease and desist from random rumors.
joanna said…
He used his law office address. I doubt that he lives in the law office, as I have been there and it is not at all a residential building.
joanna said…
Omar Vasquez used his business address, I should say.
Anonymous said…
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No anonymous comments, please.

I only heard about a possible investigation. I know no details nor outcomes. What I do know is that if there had been an issue, we would have been told (and I would have learned about it at a committee meeting). As well, Director Patu is always careful to not vote for any contracts that involve family members.
I had the chance to meet Omar Vasquez yesterday, along with many other school board candidates. I spoke with at least 8 candidates. Of them, the only one who was pro-charter school was Omar Vasquez.

Popcorn, I know well what happened in LA last week. It won't be repeated here. Seattle residents don't want charter schools here and will not support a candidate who does. Omar Vasquez is about to discover just how true that is.
Anonymous said…
Abstaining from voting can also lead to a desired outcome.

Anonymous said…
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ProPrivate, I'm deleting your comment as it is not on topic about the candidates. If you want to express that, please go to an Open Thread.
NO 1240 said…
The 36th District Democrats gave Omar Vasquez a resounding thumbs down. I'm sure The Stranger and others will do the same. Ballmer's hundreds of millions of dollars did not usher in a new Supreme Court. Vasquez should take note and drop out of the race.
Anonymous said…
I am deeply, deeply sad to know that Director Sue Peters is not running again.

She was and is exemplarily is her service, commitment, and extraordinary intelligence and grace.

Sue, thank you. Watching your persistent questioning of Ron English, back when you first joined the board, was the only time I ever saw a Director demand full explanations for staff maneuvers. You made them answer to you, to all of us, you made them justify their decisions. Like C-R-E: Claim - Reasoning - Evidence. You showed the other directors how it is done. You did your homework, you were humble, you were and are a team player. Thank you. How I wish you would have stayed. We really, really need you and your special gifts. Alas...

In your place, either Eden Mack or Lisa Melenyzer will serve, both of them are reasonable and qualified and kid-focused, and either Eden or Lisa (I'm hoping) will join Leslie and Rick who still remain, both of them are able... but still, absolutely no body can take your place.

And honestly, what is it with the dearth of candidates from Capitol Hill? It was Kay Smith-Blum's old seat, who was random at best, and when she vacated, it was a choice between a homophobe or Dr. Blanford, so he cake-walked in, and, he has been exceedingly incurious and mostly wrong on every issue. Now he is exiting, and yet again, there is no high-profile kid-focused parent stepping in to make things better, just charter-school cheerleaders?

We have a major high school problem to deal with, a transitory superintendent, a broken enrollment/capital department, funding issues, budgetary issues, persistent SpEd problems, and the distraction of edu-speak gobbledee-guk of MTSS, that is nonsense and a waste of everyones time (As if teachers don't already know who in their classrooms needs extra support and who needs a challenge? Are they suppose to walk on water and differentiate for everybody? Are they bespoke tailors?). We need a board to understand that it is on them to exert oversight and provide direction to their one employee. The waitlist debacle for Sept. 2017 is indicative of a staff gone rouge, just making it up as they go along, and, not following existing policy, procedure or best practices, let alone existing standing practice.

So yes, board elections matter, at least to our 53,000 students and to their parents/guardians.

So please, pay attention, and vote for the candidates you think will get staff to prioritize the needs of kids, not adults.

And Melissa, thank you for your continued community service. You are a phenomenal resource, thank you for keeping the spotlight shining bright on public education. It is important work, thankless, but, important. Your contribution matters. Thank you.


Anonymous said…
Every election is a broken record, last election it was "SPS is racist", this years mantra is "more money".

In the end it will be the same old same old.

not mc troll said…
yes thank you mw for your continued reporting on the developments at sps including this update on the board races.

vote, there is at least two qualified folks running for the cap hill seat. that is 100% more than in past elections. but i look at blandford and wonder. he was a lot worse then he looked on paper.

no caps
Watch for yourself how Omar Vasquez responds to my question (starting around the 9:30 mark) on charter schools at the 36th District Democrats endorsement interviews:

He makes it pretty clear he supports them. He was the only school board candidate who did. And in this interview, Omar underplayed significantly his support for and advocacy for charters.

You can also see in this interview that his answers on other questions were vague and lacked specifics, and it seemed to me he lacked a basic familiarity with the district and the issues we face here in Seattle.
chunga said…
Robert - I don't see video interviews for district VII. Did the 36th interview Betty Patu or Chelsea Byers?
Chunga, the 36th probably only interviewed the candidates who are in their district for the primary. I'll bet they will interview all the candidates for the General.
Cap hill said…
Hi VOTE (and others), my name is Alec Cooper and I filed Friday for the District 5 (Cap Hill) seat. I'm a former Garfield PTSA President and Treasurer with two kids in SPS. I'm not a charter school supporter - I believe that we can have great public education, but I believe that SPS has been woefully inadequate at nailing the basics. My day job is building partnerships for Amazon across the technology industry. I've worked for Seattle-area technology companies for about 15 years doing a variety of management roles. I lived and worked in Asia for 5 years, during which I led Microsoft's genuine software programs in the People's Republic of China - so I am not fazed by the challenges we face here. We can absolutely do better.

I filed because I didn't see any other family advocates stepping up. I'm just getting going - I've formed an advisory council with about 20 current and former PTSA Presidents and board members and am kicking off in earnest this week. Please take a look at my statement at: Thanks!

NO 1240 said…
The 36th District Democrats about his work at Davis Wright Tremaine. See minute 15:41. Vasquez states he is a business lawyer, but did not disclose his work for charter schools:

Omar Vasquez:

"mar has advised ed-tech companies, charter schools, and education-related nonprofits."
chunga - as Melissa noted, the 36th District Dems only interviewed candidates who will appear on the August ballot here in the 36th District (and who contacted us seeking an interview and endorsement). We'll interview District VII candidates in September.

Alec - congrats on entering the race! In your statement on your FB page you state "I believe that Seattle Public Schools are fundamentally off-course and in need of radical change."

Can you elaborate on what you mean by "radical change"? In recent years that's only meant bad things, from charter schools and privatization to replacing teachers with iPads and other corporate reforms. While I think everyone here can agree there are changes needed, it's crucial to know exactly what changes you have in mind. So please, take this opportunity to share with the class.
dorainseattle said…
If Anh doesn't have her children in SPS, and with her other dubious "qualifications", I would suggest looking at other candidates.
Cap hill said…
Hi Robert, great question. The radical change I am referring to is resetting our expectations for our public schools and realigning SPS to be focused on its families.

As an example, there are many ways to measure a district's performance - test scores, surveys, qualitative feedback. At the end of the day, I do think there is a metric that perhaps provides a better picture: how many students opt out? The opt out rate provides insight into how many families are willing to spend upwards of $15K-$30K per year per kid to NOT enroll in SPS. It provides a great single assessment on how good of a job families believe SPS is doing, and when you do some basic math on how expensive Seattle is for rents/mortgages, incomes and the cost of private school, you'll come to the realization that the vast majority of families that can afford to opt out do so - which is quite an alarming statistic. We have become complacent over time and have accepted this as a state of affairs, and this needs to perhaps become central to the discussion and to the vision.

There are some obvious implications to the high opt out rate. The first is that while SPS is (rightfully) focused on equity and closing gaps, we've now created two parallel school systems with radically different levels of investment in our kids. This public/private divide creates more profound equity problems than anything currently happening in SPS and will significantly exacerbate the income disparities in our society.

The second implication is that the opt out rate starves SPS of support - not just direct financial support, but classroom involvement, PTSA support and support at the polls. We have a significant amount of wealth in Seattle and a very highly educated population. We are not making anywhere near good use of these resources, which is a huge disservice to our kids.

The third big implication is that it becomes impossible to invest in building world class schools and make the real investments in services necessary to help our underserved populations if we have lost the support of the wealthiest one third of our population. We can accomplish much more together.

When you look at the parent feedback on the district's surveys and hear the feedback on this blog, it becomes fairly obvious that one of the biggest issues with SPS is that they fail to execute the basics. Making enrollment easy and predictable, so that we ease the transition of parents into SPS and reduce uncertainty. Making principals accountable to their communities - there are a number of schools with favorable ratings in the 20%-30% range for responsiveness family input and concerns. At the district level, this score is 22%! Only 28% of families approve the strategic plan - and that is after almost a third opt out. No institution can be run like this.

The board is an oversight body, and the changes I have in mind are to ensure that the vision and strategic plan get changed to reflect these realities, and that there is real accountability to families.

That's a good diagnosis of one part of the problem, for sure. But that response also lacks any specifics about the "changes I have in mind." Would you care to share what those changes are with the rest of us?
Dora Taylor said…
I want to add that negative comments about Betty Patu only reflect one's ignorance of the Seattle school district.

Director Patu has served her community well, listening and representing her constituents and all other parents and students in the district.

Mrs. Patu carefully considers all of the issues presented to her before voicing her opinion or casting her vote.

I have the highest regard for her as a School Board Director and as a Seattleite taking on her civic duties seriously. I'm very happy to hear that she wants to continue in her role on the school board.
Anonymous said…
A campaign based on the needs of those who have chosen to opt out of SPS seems tone deaf to me. As does featuring a photo of a child wearing a St Joseph school athletic tshirt on the campaign Facebook page.

It also appears that this may be the former Garfield Treasurer who was vociferously opposed to Honors for All.

Those who run for public office need to have demonstrated absolute personal committment to the public institutions they wish to manage. An academically segregated Garfield High School made it easy for private school parents at schools such as St.Joe's to continue that experience in a public setting. We don't need another academic segrationist on the board.

For progress
For progress, you are certainly welcome to hold it against a candidate if they have a child in private school (several of them do). Many people are often surprised when I say I don't care; I believe parents have to do the best thing for their child and sometimes that's private school. As long as they support and care about public schools, I'm fine.

And, you may certainly disagree with positions that a person takes at their schools; that does not make them against the institution. That makes them against some policies. There's a difference.

Cap hill said…
Robert, thank you for the follow up. To be clear, I would propose to change significant elements of the vision, the strategic plan and the scorecard - all of the guiding principles by which the district operates today and prepares budgets and policies.

What I am proposing is foundational change - realigning the district to measure and value customer feedback. We need to institute this at the district level, and at the building level. District and building staff need to be held accountable for improving scores on responsiveness, engagement and participation. I believe that the culture and quality of the people within the district is the most important ingredient, and in many ways this is broken.

To pick on your comment on "change meaning bad things", I can address these if there are specifics, here are a few.
Charter schools/commercialization of schools: no. However, we have some of the most successful companies on the planet in Seattle and some of the largest foundations. We have got to figure out a way to make them stakeholders in our success and find areas of common ground where they can invest.
Teachers: yes. Teachers are the educational system and we ought to be paying teachers more. We have an escalating cost of living in Seattle that is rapidly making it an unaffordable city for teachers.
Advanced learning: Yes, although it needs to be improved. We need a better advanced learning program AND a better method of ensuring that we are making access equitable.
Dora Taylor said…
cap hill,

It's concerning when you refer to students and parents as "customers". Is this the consumerization of education just as corporate ed reformers refer to teachers as "human capitol"?

It reminds me of the WalMartization of public schools via charter schools and online lerning.
Dora Taylor said…
Cap hill said…
Hi for Progress, thanks for your comment. To be clear, I was not against Honors for All, nor were the other Board Members of the Garfield PTSA. In fact, we offered to fund a pilot of the program and we raised the money and funded a teaching assistant which is being used for the program. What we were against was a very significant change in course offerings without first soliciting parent feedback, providing a plan (including how success gets measured) and providing the appropriate level of professional development to teachers. Honors for All was first announced to parents in the Seattle Times as cancelling Honors classes. Months later, the school provided only an FAQ, and then proceeded to cancel a planned 9th grade family meeting. The principal subsequently has not attended any of the school/family functions (such as curriculum night) and refuses to meet with the PTSA.

Please check the family survey feedback on Garfield - only 39% of families agree that the school partners with them to improve the learning environment and 37% feel the school is responsive.
Cap hill said…
Hi Dora, thank you for the comment. Perhaps the word is not the right word. I don't support charter schools and while i think online can be a great supplement (as an example, Khan Academy), I believe in the "invest in our teachers model". What I am trying to point out is that SPS has lost sight of the need to serve all of the families in the district.
Anonymous said…
Whether a candidate has or has had children in private school certainly needs to be part of the score card evaluation for school board election. We have one admitted candidate running on the premise that private school enrollment hurts public schools. He is right, it does. It leaves the serious task of strengthening the greatest public institution to others. We are builders not customers.

Being an a la carte public school parent is a serious red flag for anyone wishing to serve on the board.

For progress
Anonymous said…
@Cap Hill

Can you unequivocally state that you are now fully in favor of Honors for All at Garfield and that you support its continuation and extension?

For progress
Anonymous said…
Have we gotten any feedback on the Honors for All at Garfield? Is it meeting the needs of the all the students? Are the struggling students being helped? Are the highly gifted being challenged? Is it truly Honors for All or is it Honors for none?

Cap hill said…
Hi For Progress, I certainly respect your right to have litmus tests, even if I don't agree with them.

I believe that the burden is on Garfield High School to work with parents and demonstrate that it is serving all of its student populations effectively. I think the feedback is very clear from parents that this governance model is very broken right now and that the school is not effectively working with parents. I have no issues with classes that are mixed with respect to HCC and non-HCC kids in principle.

With regards to having a child in private school - we started that child in a public school. I don't think it is necessary to discuss that child's situation and need for switching on a blog. I would say that our family is committed to great public schools, and that we demonstrate that by our actions in volunteering, advocacy and now running for this seat.
HP, given how Principal Howard rolled it out, I doubt if there is any real data.

For Progress, I will point out that Principal Howard has been very closed-door to many Garfield parents including, at different points, the PTA. The PTA that has been incredibly supportive to ALL Garfield students. No PTA has to march in lockstep with everything every principal wants to do.
Many Names said…
@Cap hill--

Thank you so much for running! You give me hope for this district!
Anonymous said…
Lisa M. and Eden M. either are both qualified fantastic candidates for Sue Peter's district. I am glad to hear both are running. Would be really happy if either won.
Dora Taylor said…
Cap hill,

I don't think it's the present school board that has lost sight of serving the students, it's many in the bureaucracy euphemistically referred to as the Stanford Center.

Many within that morass have their own agendas, keep vital information from the school board and have loyalties to others outside of SPS and I am not referring to students or parents.
Alec, I appreciate the replies and your engagement here. I hope more candidates do so. I will say that so far your ideas seem pretty nebulous, but, there's a lot of campaign trail ahead. I hope we get to learn more about what you and others have in mind. Thanks!
Dora Taylor said…
Knowing what I know about Seattle Public Schools or any public school system for that matter, it's best to have people on the school board who have skin in the game, meaning have children in one of the public schools within SPS.

This can also apply to candidates who have had children in Seattle's public school system and have been a part of the school community.

You need to have that insider view and understanding as well as an empathy and concern for all families whose children attend SPS. That comes with the territory when you have experienced first hand being a parent of a SPS student.
Anonymous said…
Well if the ineffectiveness of the past boards reflect having "shin in the game" I suggest we try going 180 degrees.

End PC
Cap hill said…
@Dora, agreed that the organization itself has lost its way. There are some fantastic individuals on the board. I do think it is the board's responsibility to force the cultural and organization change required.

@Robert, thank you for asking the questions and I'm happy to meet. I have to say that I don't find the ideas nebulous - I think I am suggesting very clear changes to the mission statement, the strategic plan and the scorecard because there is something fundamentally broken. I believe it is highly likely that we'd then need to make both personnel and organization changes to make sure the district changes course. It isn't going to be fixed overnight.

If there are any of the readers who want to join me, please message me at

I'd love your help!
Anonymous said…
Please no. don't make this all about Garfield. The rest of the district parents are so tired of the egomaniacs orbiting that school and the end less parade of Garfield problems. We are getting rid of one myopically focus Garfield parent/board member, lets not repeat the error.

Anonymous said…
HP- the only feedback from parents I have seen is on the discussapp blog. It was almost entirely negative in terms of meeting the academic needs of those students, though the students seemed not to mind too much. I have seen feedback from parents of gen ed kids whether their experience has been better or worse than previous students, but I think the teachers are giving their feedback on how *they* think it is going at a PTA meeting tomorrow night.

Anonymous said…

Thankfully, there are six people running for the district 5 seat on the SPS board. Yesterday Andre Helmstetter and Eden Mack were recommended by the 36th District Democrats. Cooper didn't show.

Anonymous said…
Dear Alec:

You got my vote. Someone who thinks about the **meaning** of metrics is what is needed for effective management of the district.

It is true that Seattle public school opt-out rate is really high, as it is in NY, LA, and SF. And it is true that robust 'buy-in' from not just those *without* options or resources, but from *all* is indicative of a healthy, highly-functional school system that in turn contributes to a healthy, inclusive city. But, beware there are those that will paint this kind of logic as elitist, when in fact it is the opposite. So my advice for what it is worth, be exceedingly scrupulous in your messaging to ensure there is no room for misinterpretation.

To those who cry foul, this *one* point is *not* about pleasing folks who are not 'constituents': everyone, including childless households, are constituents, because education is a public good. We all benefit by having a literate, productive and healthy citizenry. This is about ensuring we have the very best system and service so that all are supported and welcomed, be they ELL, SpEd, homeless, gifted, or 'typical'. All means all. Education is not a zero-sum game. A child thriving or struggling in one public school does not take anything away from another child thriving or struggling in a different public school.

Another metric to look at: buildings which have a very low 'buy-in' from within their own attendance areas. Meaning, if you live in Hamilton boundaries, do you attend Hamilton? If you live in Emerson's boundaries, do you attend Emerson? This is not a metric the district produces. By, you can back it out from the data that they do produce, in the enrollment planning and resource page 'blue book'. It provides clear insight into schools that are outliers in terms of being passed over by their own neighbors, which warrants further pondering by Teaching and Learning to see if there is a disconnect. But, this is not done. The district does not know who to produce *governing* information, all they do is compile raw data and drown the board in it so that no real decisions can be made. Just one look at the waitlist issue and you see that the current approach by the district seems to be simply gating kids into a school they don't want to be in rather than making that school a school that families do want to be in.

I suggest you get a real web site as not everyone is on facebook.

I also applaud you for joining the race and for commenting here, but, despite Melissa's clear boundaries, commenters regularly lob cheap shots ad infinitum, and so I encourage you to hold community meetings to meet with potential voters face to face.

This isn't about Garfield, it is about all 53,000 students. They all should be striving to the best of their ability. And our public schools should support them and the heroic teachers who show up to do this work. To pretend they can differentiate to all for all, is ridiculous.

Like senior jazz or varsity football, language arts that combines students who are working on remedial proficiency with those who've been reading at a college level since elementary school is not productive for anyone. There is no such thing as honors for all the way Garfield is doing it. They only call it that since the district told them they violated policy by deleting honors LA. So, instead they now call it that ridiculous title. Any student at Garfield can take any course if they have the prerequisites, and don't get bogged down in anyone trying to pick a fight here. Equitable access is when a student can take any course, and, since they all can on with an equal footing, focus your comments on board policy and strategic goals.

Good luck.


Anonymous said…
District V S/B it own separate school district. Most there already think it is.

MJ, if you mean Sue Peters, you are way off base. Sue has worked in so many directions.

Sleeper, are you talking about a Garfield parent meeting?

not mc troll said…
mj certainly isn't referring to blandford. his only focus was for preschool junkets and obstructing votes designed to redirect staff.

no caps
Lynn said…
Melissa - yes there's a Garfield parent meeting tomorrow. The PTSA sent this out by email:

Honors for All Update — Tuesday, May 23 PTSA General Meeting
Join us in the GHS Commons Tuesday, May 23 from 7 - 8:30 PM for the final PTSA General Meeting of the school year! Mr. Zimmerman (Language Arts) and Mr. Simoneaux (History/Social Studies) will be giving an update on the new 9th grade Honors For All program. Don't miss this important information! This is also a great meeting for incoming families to attend.

This is also our annual meeting to hold the PTSA budget approval and to vote in a new executive board for 2017-2018.
Anonymous said…
I'm curious as to why private schools are the bad guy here, when public schools aren't a good fit for many students. If a parent tries to make public schools work for their student but can't, why begrudge them for their choice to find something more appropriate? Why does that make them anti-public schools? Many parents with kids in private schools would LOVE to have their child in public ed instead, but they are not willing to sacrifice their child's well-being for the sake of political correctness. Parents who desperately wanted public ed to work for their child but found it did not might have a lot of good insight to add to the conversation, including experience with what doesn't work for some, and alternatives that do. Are we going to suggest that our Superintendent also has to have kids in SPS, and all the top administrators do as well? Should all SPS teachers be required to have kids in the SPS system? Why does a board member need to only have kids in SPS and for all years of their schooling? It's a bizarre litmus test.

@ cap hill, you said "This public/private divide creates more profound equity problems than anything currently happening in SPS and will significantly exacerbate the income disparities in our society." How exactly do private schools make income disparities worse? And are you seriously pushing the idea that HC-qualified students at Garfield somehow get a private school experience at a public school cost? That's absurd.

@ for progress, your comment doesn't make sense. You said (bold added): "Whether a candidate has or has had children in private school certainly needs to be part of the score card evaluation for school board election. We have one admitted candidate running on the premise that private school enrollment hurts public schools. He is right, it does. It leaves the serious task of strengthening the greatest public institution to others. We are builders not customers."

Isn't running for school board the opposite, an effort NOT to leave the task of strengthening public education to others but rather to get very involved?

Private schools can fill a need, and sending a child to private schools does not make you pro-private/anti-public.

Forced Out
Anonymous said…
Hi Alec--- You have my vote. Good luck.
Cap hill said…
Hi Forced Out - just to clarify my comments, I don't think that private schools are the problem here. I think the problem is a school district that is highly unresponsive to families and forces people to seek alternatives. I believe there are a large number of families that would like to enroll in public but have lost faith in SPS to do the right things.

As a result, we've ended up with the vast majority of families that have the funds to invest more in education doing so in the private school system, and I don't think that reflects a healthy system or bodes well for our society.

As a start, we need to fix the culture and performance management tools at SPS so that Principals are evaluated based on how well they serve their community, and the district on how well they serve all families.
Anonymous said…
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