Examining DeWolf's Commitment to Elected Office

Update: from Capitol Hill Seattle blog:

The Seattle Education Association, the city’s public school teachers union, have endorsed Nguyen and Sawant for the August primary.
end of update 

As we were discussing the principal issues at Washington Middle School and Bailey Gatzert Elementary, I was reminded of some statements that Director Zachary DeWolf has made about constituents AND goals while in office.

He said this in an interview at the Capitol Hill Blog in March of this year:

What about D5? In the very near future, I hope to be working on an internal Homeless Student Education Plan for Seattle Public Schools. Student homelessness is felt very deeply here in District 5. And then we’re working on some creative solutions to try to increase enrollment at Washington Middle School, which lost some of their students due to boundary changes and the opening of Meany Middle School. 
And what has come of those "creative solutions?" Nothing.  Internal Homeless Student Education Plan? If it's out there, it hasn't been discussed widely.

During your campaign, you promised to push for mandating racial and implicit bias trainings for teachers and students as well as “know your rights” trainings for undocumented students and their families. How have you progressed on that? The racial and implicate bias trainings are part of the collective bargaining agreement.
 Oh, so the teachers have to take racial and implicit bias training but not the people who work at JSCEE?  It's true; it's not mandated for the people who hand down decisions to the people working in the schools.  If equity and racial understanding is the key to change, why wouldn't it start at JSCEE?

During your 2017 campaign people wondered why you were not running for city council (or state legislature). Are you planning on joining this City Council race? Here’s the thing: our schools and our students need a really strong, energetic young advocate like myself. I don’t want people to lose focus on our schools. I’m happy being over here, waving my hands in the air just trying to get my neighbors to pay attention to and care about our public schools. For now, I want to finish the job that I think is the most critical: bringing ethnic studies to our schools. If our district can do that, then we can celebrate and talk about those things.
And today? I guess it's "the City Council needs a really strong, energetic young advocate like myself."  And ageism much? How many times on one sentence can you signal that?

He wants to finish the job of Ethnic Studies. That would be great except that many principals don't seem to be answering the call.  He knows that from being on the Executive Committee.

Joel Connelly at the PI wrote this in April of this year:
Asked in an interview what kind of representation Sawant is providing, DeWolf replied that voters in District 3 neighborhoods "will tell you what they think" about the job their councilmember is doing.
I'm sure parents in his school board district "will tell you what they think" about the job he is doing as a school board director.
DeWolf is likely to face questions about seeing things through.

He has been on the Seattle School Board less than two years, having won with 64.5% of the vote in 2017. He was asked last month by Capitol Hill Seattle Blog if he intended to run for city council.

He sounded a different tune in a Tuesday interview. "I'm still going to serve the wonderful teachers and students, and I just want to do it in a different way," DeWolf said.
More and more, it appears that being on the school board was a placeholder until the next big, shiny ring for Director DeWolf.  


Anonymous said…
Correct me if I'm wrong, the issues at Bailey Gatzert Elementary has been communicate as students running wild, students attacking other students, students attacking teachers. Not much was mentioned on the race of the students who have been causing the chaos or if it's the same small group of students. Parents have expressed feeling that the teachers and staff are afraid of disciplining or suspending students due to the sensitivity of the subject.

Parents even non-white parents want the problematic students expelled. I suspect since the school year is over nothing will be done to address the problem.

Just facts

Anonymous said…
There are probably one or two parents who want kids expelled, sure. But most want the problems solved and the kids responsible for these problems to get help. Expulsion doesn't solve or help them.

What SPS seems to be doing is telling principals to not enforce *any* rules at all for fear of disproportionate discipline. But that doesn't solve any problems and, as parents in the KUOW article explained, that creates its own school-to-prison pipeline.

What's needed is trauma-informed discipline. Just because one kid has trauma doesn't make it OK for that kid to go create new trauma in some other kid. That's exactly how these cycles continue to worsen!

There are plenty of resources on trauma-informed discipline and ways to stop bullying that don't criminalize kids or reinforce disproportionate discipline. But the situation at BG is totally unacceptable. So is DeWolf's total absence and disinterest in this issue, as was his absence and disinterest from WMS. I can't imagine parents at those schools would want him on the City Council. Unless maybe they're willing to live with it to get him off the school board...

Skid Road
Anonymous said…
Why can't the parents of the trouble makers discipline their children. Why dump it on the school staff?

Anonymous said…
OK, DeWolf is now saying he's "concerned" about the situation at BG and will "follow up with families and the school district" which is the bare minimum here. As a director he should be pledging to families he will get to the bottom of this and fix it. Expect more of the same dismissive attitudes if he gets elected on the City Council.

Skid Road
Ed said…
Skid Road

That's exactly why Durkan and her helpers NEED him there.

Keeping promises is what counts.
Skid Road, which is worse? Him being on the school board or city council? And NOW he’s concerned about BGE? Just as in the KUOW story where the district says it’s working with the principal. It’s the last week of school. How does that help?

JS, of course parents can discipline their children after the fact but,in the moment, it’s on the teachers/administrators.

Anonymous said…
Back in the day we didn't tolerate physical harm by students. Get in a fight and you got suspended, period, hit a teacher you were expelled. Are you claiming that just because a student is black they should be held a lower or different standard? If so then I say POPPYCOCK.

--Trusty revolt
Watching said…
I think City Council members are less dangerous because:

1. There are more city council members. Each vote counts less.

2. There are multiple reporters that cover the city- each day.

Here is what DeWolf had to say when he ran for Seattle School Board 2 years ago:

“We hear so much that there isn’t enough community engagement. I’m someone who is willing to be outside in the community,” he said.
Anonymous said…
Looks like the principal at Gatzert is staying put: I wonder how many teachers will.


Sped Staffer
Alsept Teresa said…
Removing the student who is causing trouble might not help that student however, it sure does help all the rest of the students

Trauma- informed discipline cost money which means the district will never do it. At the best they will train one or two people in the building and then have those, barely trained people, train everyone else. That’s the SPS way.
Anonymous said…
I supported DeWolf in the general - even donated to his campaign - because his opponent was a charter school proponent. But in the primary, I thought he was a weak candidate for school board. Either Andre Helmstetter or Alec Cooper would have made a solid school board director. Right now I'm torn between: Do I want him to get through the primary for city council so he'll resign from the school board and we can get a decent director appointed? (Yes, of course that would be better for SPS/parents/students) Vs: Do I want to see someone that disengaged with his constituents on city council? (Hell no!)

--ML Mama
kellie said…
And then we’re working on some creative solutions to try to increase enrollment at Washington Middle School, which lost some of their students due to boundary changes and the opening of Meany Middle School.

Our student assignment plan is complicated enough, that is is one thing when parents and families don't understand the fundamentals. It is completely another thing when the board members don't understand the basics.

We don't need "creative solutions" to fill Washington. That is nonsense. There are only about 400 students who live in the attendance area. That is not a creative solution problem. That is a boundary problem.

Especially when you consider that Mercer, the directly adjacent school is the most overcrowded middle school in the district and is already projected to be over-capacity, even with the new capacity added via BEX V.

This is a simple problem with a simple solution. You need to just do the actual work of running a school district and actually do the long-overdue boundary review. The SAP had originally intended for a boundary review every 4-5 years and that last review was in 2012. We were due for a review right before RESMS and Meany opened. If the review had been done as scheduled, then we would not be having these capacity issues at almost every middle school.

Andre Helmstetter and Alec Cooper were both extremely qualified candidates and both got wiped out in the primary.

Anonymous said…
Again, lack of transparency. Lack of data. Lack of evidence. A school system cannot successfully operate on behalf of students without those things. We are seeing the natural consequences of that truism in Seattle.

Concerned parent
MIA said…
Both outgoing Directors (Pinkham and Burke) have held weekend community meetings. DeWolf remains missing in action.
SOS Says said…
SOS gave DeWolf last place:

Sixth Place: Zachary DeWolf works as a program manager for All Home King County and just 18 months ago was elected to a four-year term for the Seattle Public Schools board. It is concerning that DeWolf is ready to leave his board position so quickly. He moved to District 3 in 2012 and was quickly elected to the Capitol Hill Council board, after which he promptly volunteered the district for a drug consumption site. DeWolf opposes most SOS advocacy positions and does not appear to be focused on data or good governance. Most of his positions are aligned with the incumbent. However, he is open and willing to engage in civil discourse, which is a refreshing change for this district.

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