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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Seattle School Board Picks Top Three For District Seven Post

After four rounds of voting they are:

- Emijah Smith
- Brandon Hersey
- Julie Van Arcken


I note that two of these candidates were endorsed by former director Betty Patu.  Those are Brandon Hersey and Julie Van Arcken.  How much weight any director gave to that endorsement is not clear; none mentioned it.  A third candidate that Betty endorsed was Romanita Hairston but she did not receive any votes.

The directors had an Executive Committee meeting that morning and apparently went over more of the mathematics to how the voting would count.  I was not there so I don't know how it worked out but Board staff and Legal Counsel were present at both meetings and were tracking the votes at the afternoon meeting.

How It Went
Candidates who were present sat in the first row.  It seemed quite sweet and supportive to sit with each other.  Most of the candidates were there.

President Leslie Harris was gracious, as were all the directors, in their praise of the group of candidates.  All of them saw this as a difficult task.

The directors varied in how much they said about candidates.  They were given free rein in this aspect; some said a lot, some said little. 

First Round Voting

Director DeWolf went first.  He said that he used metrics like if a candidate were active in the community and the track record of accomplishment as well as "getting people excited about who is on the dais."  He said he did tally the number of letters/emails of support.

Emijah Smith
Chukundi Salisbury
Brandon Hersey

Director Mack
Julie Van Arcken
Dionne Foster
Chukundi Salisbury

Director Pinkham
Sofia Voz
Emijah Smith
Brandon Hersey

Director Harris
Dionne Foster
Julie Van Arcken
Brandon Hersey

Director Burke said something nice about each candidate.

Julie Van Arcken
Dionne Foster
Chukundi Salisbury

Director Geary
Brandon Hersey
Chukundi Salisbury
Emijah Smith

Director Geary gave a speech during her vote and that will be discussed at the end of this thread.

The candidate with the most votes, five, was Brandon Hersey.  Smith, Salisbury, and Foster had four and Van Arcken had three.

Hairston, Hahn and Rockey were then taken off the list, receiving no votes. 

Second Round (Directors could now choose only two candidates.)

Director Geary
Salisbury and Smith

Director Burke
Foster and Van Arcken

Director Harris
Van Arcken and Hersey

Director Pinkham
Hersey and Smith

Director Mack
Foster and Van Arcken

Director DeWolf
Hersey and Salisbury

The only candidate left in this round to receive no votes was Sofia Voz so she was taken off the list.

Van Arcken and Hersey each had 3 votes.
Salisbury, Smith, and Foster each had 2 votes.

Third Round (Directors could now choose just one candidate.)

Director DeWolf - Brandon Hersey
Director Mack - Julie Van Arcken
Director Pinkham - Emijah Smith
Director Harris - Brandon Hersey
Director Burke - Dionne Foster
Director Geary - Chukundi Salisbury

Because Mr. Hersey had received so many votes in the three rounds, he was named a finalist so was not part of the next rounds of voting.

Fourth Round 

Director Geary - Emijah Smith
Director Burke - Julie Van Arcken
Director Harris - Julie Van Arcken
Director Pinkham - Emijah Smith
Director Mack - Julie Van Arcken
Director DeWolf - Chukundi Salisbury

From this round of voting, Emijan Smith and Julie Van Arcken were added to the final three.

Thoughts

Director Geary took the time early on to pontificate (and then some).  She said that the director seats were "weighted to the north" with 4 of the 7 in more white areas.  She left off that two of those four seats are currently held by POC. 

I'll just interject here and say that 1) this city has a history of red-lining that has a lot to do with who lives where and 2) Seattle is geographically-challenged.  How the district lines got carved up and who lives within each region was influenced by those factors.  She also seems unaware that in Director Pinkham's district, which bumps up all along the city limits to the north, that top area is home to many POC.

She also jumped on this new narrative about the district has losing several African-American senior management leaders. Among those she may have meant are Michael Tolley and Brent Jones.  The question I would ask is why did they leave? Because if the bureaucratic culture at JSCEE isn't good, just replacing like with like isn't really going to stick.

She then said, "We don't have the voice of strong African-American males" in reference to the edicts in the Strategic Plan.

DeWolf, too, made a very specific comment in reference to Brandon Hersey about his youth (he's in his late 20s).

If these two directors were on a hiring committee, they would get their hands smacked.  You can't directly bring in age to a hire.  And only one minority group in one gender can fulfill a role on the Board in order to serve the Strategic Plan?  Let's tell that to newly-promoted Mia Williams in her role as the person who IS going to be enacting that portion of the Strategic Plan for African-American males. (Ms Williams is Black.)

There are also Hispanic folks and Asian folks in the south end.  Where is their representation on the Board?

Also to consider:

- Geary and DeWolf seem fully entrenched in their thinking so they will only vote for either Smith or Hersey.
- If the Board selects Smith or Van Arcken, there will only be one man on the Board - Director DeWolf.
- I received information from King County Elections that shows that only Van Arcken voted in all the school levy elections for the last six years.  Hersey has only been in Seattle three years but he did appear to miss the levy in Feb. 2019.  Smith appears not to have voted in any school levy in six years despite being registered.
- I'm checking in about what would happen if, in the final vote, there is a 3-3 tie.  I know the Board is going to strive to have a unanimous vote as that would best serve this process but it might not happen.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...


whew.

I am with these choices.

I see issues with some but like that JVA made it through.


rolled stone

Stuart J said...

Not voting once in six years for schools looks really bad.

Anonymous said...

Who is the other POC besides Scott Pinkham in the North End? The other three are Burke, Geary & Mack.

Curious

Anonymous said...

Ok so the fix is in and Julie Van Arcken will be the new board member. The HCs on the board were never going to take a chance on the public electing someone not sympathetic to HC, from the south end. Van Arcken has been primed and waiting in place all along. Can Van Arcken reassure the community that she is a true representative and not just a HC hack? Is she dedicated to universal egalitarianism and comprehensive inclusive schooling or is she an advocate for separate cohorting?

Mrs Dalloway

Anonymous said...

Now that the selection process is in a more serious phase I feel that the current Directors need to prioritize what is good for District VII and SPS students and parents as a whole. All of the Directors serve the entirety of SPS, as they are ultimately voted in by the entire city in the general election. This consideration needs to be paramount if they want someone other then a lame duck director who is indebted to the board instead of students and parents for the rest of Patu's term. They need someone who has been engaged city wide, and someone who understands issues beyond awesome progressive platitudes.

Other considerations: There are many under served persons of color in D VII. Are they now the missing middle, since the discussion largely seems to focuses on the extremes ie white privilege vs those furthest away from educational equity? Are Pacific Islanders, Latinx, SE Asian, and other families going to be told to take a number?

Age is not a legal consideration for employment. But it is for a public office appointment. It is completely legit to mention that someone (Hersey) in their late twenties who has less experience with SPS might not be the best choice. DeWolf was not out of line by mentioning this, in spite of what one might think of DeWolf himself.

I do not want someone who puts their volunteer efforts into supporting charter schools, and then completely waffles on the issue when asked about charters in public. Smith wants to have it both ways it seems, concurring that charters are not supported in Seattle and King County regardless of what the rest of WA wants, while supporting the unproven narrative that charters represent a chance for families to remedy the equity failures of public education.

The current Directors are making a policy decision to appoint. They should leave their political decisions to their campaigns or their future runs for higher office, whatever the case might be.

Another SE Parent

Anonymous said...

Geary and DeWolf are massively out of touch with the community. DeWolf in particular needs to learn some lessons from his embarrassing failure in his City Council campaign - you cannot treat your constituents with such open and consistent disdain and then expect to get elected to another office. DeWolf needs to develop some independent thinking and show he is responsive to the people he represents. Geary turned out to be a massively damaging member of the board who hates parents and has huge amounts of contempt for everyone around her. She will not be missed but the damage she has done will linger for some time.

Bye Bye

suep. said...

It's interesting that when Jill Geary had the opportunity to support a very qualified, very committed African American male candidate (and longtime SPS parent) for school board two years ago, Andre Helmstetter, she chose not to. Instead she supported a candidate with no experience with or ties to the district (Z. Dewolf), and then supported his attempt to abandon the district after serving less than two years on the job, with his failed run for city council this year. Selective conscience?

Anonymous said...

I for one, understand the choices and I am ok with them, as long as the board is careful and doesn't just go with the "safe choice" - JVA.
She calls herself "the biggest nerd" (her words, not mine) and I am not going to argue with her. But SPS doesn't need a nerd (her words, not mine). It needs an experienced, smart, passionate leader. I know who I want and will try everything to support my candidate now and when hopefully they are appointed.

Fed up

Anonymous said...

Andre Helmstetter wasn’t completely committed to SPS. When Leschi integrated its contemporary and Montessori programs, the Seattle Times reported that he moved his child to private school.

I appreciate Director Geary’s service on the board. She has been an intellectual and moral powerhouse and helped make our district more inclusive and welcoming to all. She knows exactly what game has been played re. Director Patu’s resignation and timing and the orchestrations behind Van Arcken’s candidacy. No surprises on whose votes advanced Van Arcken.

It’s interesting to hear criticism of Director Geary from a former director whose contempt for Director Branford was painfully obvious to witness.

Mrs Dalloway

Anonymous said...

The school board directors are the only people that keep the district in check. Now more than ever, they need some serious oversight. After approving a $1 billion operating budget, our schools are more scarce than ever. We will be best served by a board member who will get deep in the details. And someone who knows the district well, it’s a steep learning curve.

SPS parent

Anonymous said...

Not classy, Sue Peters. You don't do your reputation any favors by acting catty toward your former colleague.

Meow



Anonymous said...

Meow -- Sexist much? Why do you call the opinions of women 'catty'? I agree with suep that Dir Geary is inconsistent.


Oink

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mrs. Dalloway, you are waaay off base. I attended both the vote yesterday and the Youth Forum at City Hall and believe me, the fix is in for Smith. I'll write a separate post but it's troubling. And Van Arcken has not mentioned HCC once so you can stop with that one as well.

Curious, I think I was thinking of the Central area as somewhat "north" and Director DeWolf is Native American.

Another SE Parent:

"It is completely legit to mention that someone (Hersey) in their late twenties who has less experience with SPS might not be the best choice. DeWolf was not out of line by mentioning this, in spite of what one might think of DeWolf himself."

No, DeWolf was praising Hersey's youth, not putting it down. That is a bit of ageism for the other candidates. Are they not energetic as well? DeWolf seems to think that the Board needs some kind of star power, forgetting they are a team.

Fed Up, define "experienced" because all the candidates have experience of one sort or another with community and public education. And passion isn't always exhibited in the same way - I don't think that's a fair judgement.

"She has been an intellectual and moral powerhouse and helped make our district more inclusive and welcoming to all."

Geary? And how has she made it more inclusive?

I would never judge a parent for the choice they make for their kids. Smith and I had a conversation about that because she is very much for choice. So Helmstetter's choice is not one I would criticize.

And it's Blanford, not Branford. And he showed his contempt for ALL his colleagues. In his four years he was NEVER elected to a senior Board position. That speaks volumes. Blanford has consistently been disrespectful to Peters; go watch any Board meeting and see how he speaks to her and other Board members.

SPS Parent, good point. We need less talk and more oversight. Elect this seeming slate of candidates and watch this become a very talky district.


Anonymous said...

I was confused because there are four North Districts and you stated Geary left off that two of the four are POC. But that’s not true. Scott Pinkham is the only POC and the other three are white. That should be corrected, or perhaps omitted as Geary is correct.

Zach DeWolf being considered “somewhat North” would make it two out of five, but District 5 is not North, and it includes the Central District.

Curious

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa re DeWolf/ageism, I stand corrected. Ageism is alive and well, as if twenty somethings are supposed to be some kind of protected class. But hey, if the Directors want their meetings to turn into the circus that is currently Seattle City Council, by all means, they should appoint a left ideologue who can substitute platitudes for policy experience.

Another SE Parent

Anonymous said...

Regarding " I'll just interject here and say that 1) this city has a history of red-lining that has a lot to do with who lives where and 2) Seattle is geographically-challenged. How the district lines got carved up and who lives within each region was influenced by those factors. "

Yes but just a comment that Asians, Jews and Southern Italians were ALSO affected by housing discrimination, lending and redlining as well in Seattle during that time. It was not only blacks here or elsewhere. Some are much more of a minority in Seattle, but all of the above were not given mortgage loans to live in white anglo areas north of ship canal years ago. It is likely why Beacon Hill and south Seattle still retain a strong Asian population.

JK

Melissa Westbrook said...

JK, absolutely correct.

D7 parent said...

vanArcken has not been "primed and waiting in place all along." As far as I know, no one from the district or the board encouraged her candidacy. She is seeking the board position because she deeply cares about her community and has been working for educational justice for over 6 years, not as her job, but as a committed community member.
Julie has been working for the needs of marginalized kids and families in District 7 because she deeply believes in equity. Her work on the Advanced Learning Task Force has consistently centered the needs of Black and Brown children and children with disabilities. Just in the last few weeks she has spent time literally getting her hands dirty working to clean up Dearborn Park Elementary, brought snacks for the SEA and SPS negotiating teams, attended the Equity in Education Coalition's Restorative Justice session, attended the community mixer to celebrate the inaugural class of the Academy of Rising Educators, and spent time connecting with community leaders and members. She attends as many community meetings and events as she can so that she can connect with all of the groups that make up District 7.
Painting her as a pawn of HCC is simply ridiculous. Does she understand the needs of gifted and twice exceptional kids? Yes, because she has bothered to educate herself, just like she continues to educate herself on the needs of all the kids and families she would be representing on the school board.
Her "nerd status" means she does an incredible amount of research, understands how data can be manipulated, and understands that culturally incompetent data collection practices (like most of the SPS online surveys) are inherently biased and don't center the needs and desires of communities of color.
van Arcken wants to hear all voices and seeks out the voices from communities that are underrepresented in SPS and at school board meetings, She is committed to continuous learning, her community, and ALL kids in SPS.

Historian said...

Zachary DeWolf ran against an African American man for school board. Jill Geary didn't support an African American male for school board- she supported Zachary DeWolf.

Historian said...

Both Geary and DeWolf both attempted higher offices while serving on Seattle School Board. I do question their commitment.