School Board Candidate Updates

Update: the agenda for the Board meeting is up.  It indicates that the vote for D7 will take place almost immediately and then the oath of office will be given to the selected candidate.

I'm sure the new director will sit up on dais but I'm hoping that he/she doesn't vote on anything.  There is no way ANY of the three is ready to take a vote.

end of update

Last night the 34th Dems had their endorsement meeting for the general election.  (They had previously endorsed incumbent Leslie Harris during their primary endorsements.)  At last night's event they gave their sole endorsement to Eric Blumhagen for District 1 and Rebeca Muniz for District 3.

Also last night was the final forum for candidates to fill the District 7 position vacated by Betty Patu.  It was again held at RBHS and was a looong 3 hours.  All the current Board members who will be voting for a replacement for Patu were there.  I got there a little late so I missed their opening statements but, for fun, I counted the number of times the candidates referenced "furthest from educational justice" during the evening.  It was used 16 times.

The crowd was smaller than the first forum by a lot. I'd guess there were maybe 50 people there, not including SPS staff.  I saw reporters from KUOW and the Seattle Times.   The crowd was well-behaved with no booing and applause for each candidate.

Candidates who are running in the general election have to go to forums and create a whole campaign; I've helped people run and it's a lot of work.  However, NO one, including presidential candidates, has to endure answering 25 (!) questions at one time.  So a standing ovation to Brandon Hersey, Julie Van Arcken and Emijah Smith for their tenacity and spirit.

Also kudos to the moderator, Rainier Beach High School senior She was poised and careful.

UPDATE: Here's a link to vote your preference for the position.  I believe you can only vote once from any given device.  Nope, you can vote multiple times so voting is highly suspect. The Board will be looking at these numbers among other issues.

end of update

Overall Impression

Still three good choices for the Board.

After listening to both forums, I hope the Board picks either Brandon Hersey or Julie Van Arcken.  I think Van Arcken is the best candidate, both for experience and knowledge of the district and specifics.  Hersey would bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm and a teacher's eye.

It's not that Emijah Smith isn't bright and passionate about public education in D7; she is.  But Van Arcken and Hersey gave more specifics.

For example, there was a question about working in the D7 community and both Van Arcken and Hersey had more than one specific they could name. Smith's answers tended to be quite broad and the only real specific she gave was serving on the Superintendent's Advisory Committee.

As well, Hersey and Van Arcken came at the forum with what felt like more positivity about the job.  Smith wasn't negative but she was quite serious and, at one point, looked like she was going to cry.  It felt like it was very important to her to say she was not a politician and was in the race because of her passion for public service.


I'm not going to transcribe all the Q&A but give highlights. Also, if a candidate didn't have a particularly cogent answer, I left his/her answer out.

I was bummed that the candidates didn't get any operational questions save one about boundaries.  As well, Director Burke who was giving the cards to the moderator, seemed to err twice in asking them a question that was answered previously.

One question dealt with the issue of boundaries and grandfathering.

Smith said that "families don't want to be separated"so it was important to find ways for that not to happen.  Van Arcken stated that as a member of the Special Education community, her concern was for those children for whom change can be traumatic.  She also noted that changing boundaries could potential change a school's enrollment and therefore their funding.

On Getting Students Ready for the 21st Century Workplace

Van Arcken noted leaving Amazon and that she had been in hiring loops so she know what tech is looking for in their employees.  She said that there needs to be more STEM opportunities staring in middle school.

Both Smith and Hersey said STEM should start at K-5 with Hersey saying kids don't "have basic skills by middle school" and Smith saying that perhaps if the district couldn't bring in STEM earlier, they could have free after-school STEM activities.

About Working with Public School Educators

Smith talked several times during the evening about building relationships with her children's teachers and saying, "the success of my child is my responsibility."

Van Arcken stated that she had been picked to be on hiring teams in schools.  She said one issue that came up at her school was the PE teacher was picking team captains for group activities and, well, there's always the person picked last. She said she talked to the PE teachers and the kids now just count off.  (Editor's note: that would be me in K-5; too small and too slow.) 

Hersey, a teacher himself, said that he had worked with Federal Way teachers to go to Olympic to advocate for public schools.  He mentioned his endorsement by the SEA.

Parental Involvement

Van Arcken said she would be a very engaged director and said she would have meetings throughout D7 and suggested a taskforce for engagement so that there would be a "blueprint" for schools to use.  She said that learning how different parents like to be contacted, for example, via email versus on the phone, is important to bringing more parents in.

Hersey said that he thinks of it with three words; communicate, accommodate and elevate.  He said that he would try to find meeting places with parking and near public transit.

Smith said that she had worked on this issue at Dearborn Park and that the district needs more family support workers so that families feel more comfortable going to them than the principal.

Enrollment Projections

Hersey said that enrollment=funding.  He said he would work with the City on housing changes that may be coming and noted that D7 has more renters than homeowners.

Smith said policies impact enrollment and mentioned gentrification playing a role in enrollment patterns.

Van Arcken said that her child had no 5th period class last week. She also noted that funding is based on those projections.   She said that schools like RBHS, Garfield and Franklin have been impacted by the enrollment projections made months ago.

Option Schools vs Charters

Editor's note: this was an odd question about if Option schools were like charter schools.

Smith said charter schools hurt SPS and Option schools don't.  She said she isn't a proponent of charter schools but of community and family needs.

Van Arcken is opposed to charter schools.  She did say that perhaps the district needs to examine the Option schools in terms of who they serve and pointed out that AAA and Heritage High, both Option schools that had served minority kids are closed but most of the Option schools that serve more white students are still open.

Hersey said he was against charter schools.  He, too, said perhaps they needed to be examined for purpose and how to replicate the popular ones and find best practices.

On Working with Other Board Members and the Superintendent

Van Arcken talked about working with a Kimble parent and former director Betty Patu on a BAR on boundaries in D7.

Hersey said he "knows policy" from his previous work and that "I'm a nerd for policy." He said he would come in and listen and learn from other directors.

Smith said she was "highly educated and gifted" and worked with the Superintendent on the Strategic Plan.  She said this work was "real to me."

"We often hear about Executive Directors working with principals on Sped but then they defer to Sped department which doesn't have building authority."

Van Arcken said Sped was underfunded by the state and even though the district does have levy money, it's still not enough.  She said she was endorsed by the Seattle Special Education PTSA.

Hersey said it was "an issue of scarcity."  He also said black and brown children were overtracked in Sped.

Smith said that "Sped is a mess" and referenced the edict by the feds for SPS to do better.  She said we should stop calling students with special needs "Sped students."

Who is missing from the definition of furthest from educational justice?

Smith said homeless and students with trauma issues. She said "priorities should be categorized by race."  For example, most homeless students are African-American and those most impacted by gender issues are trans black females.

Van Arcken said the Strategic Plan doesn't say anything about ELL, Sped students or LGBTQ students.

Should the African-American Academy and the native Heritage High be reopened?

Smith said she didn't have an opinion right now.  She said she would like to see another AAA.

Van Arcken noted that Director Scott Pinkham was the person who had brought this up at a recent Board meeting.

Hersey said there are ideals and reality and that it's good to have ideals but reality is more complex.

Should SPS hire Teach for America educators?

Vank Arcken said she doesn't support it for SPS, saying we need fully-trained teachers.  She mentioned a Propublica article that stated that TFA was paying some charters to take their recruits.  She called them "amateur teachers" but noted that those who did stay in teaching tended to be good educators.

Hersey said he didn't think TFA would work in SPS and he said that "as an alum."  He said he does favor finding more teachers of color.

Smith said she didn't support TFA in SPS, either.  She said there are two new paths to becoming a teacher in SPS and she supported those.

Biggest Challenge Facing Public Schools

Hersey - The opportunity gap and that more pressure needs to be on the legislature for funding.

Smith - Neglect and white supremacy created a system for some to "make it and others to not."  She said that teachers shouldn't scold students who come in late but rather, say "Hi, glad you are here" because students already know they are late.

Van Arcken - Opportunity gap that needs more teachers of color, a culturally responsive workforce and Ethnic Studies.  She noted that she wished ES was a graduation requirement over say, Fine Arts.

What about students with disabilities who also may need Advanced Learning services?

Van Arcken said those kids are being underserved.  She said providing it in all schools would probably help.

Smith said that "all students are exceptional" and the district should be looking to allow parents to choose the school that best fits their student and "that may mean shifting enrollment."

Hersey said the real question was how to equip all schools with best practices for any student that comes through the door.

Do all middle and high schools offer similar offerings and does it matter?

Hersey said he wasn't sure but that all students deserve an equitable education.

Smith said they don't have similar offerings and that the opportunity to take chemistry at Garfield had gate-keeping and that there were clear differences between Aki Kurose and Mercer.

Van Arcken said the issue is that principals get to decide and that it looked to her like there are inequities from school to school.


Anonymous said…
Hersey conflated a “sweetened beverage tax” with “food taxes” in response to the question about spending the proceeds on food equity in the public schools. As the spokesperson for the initiative that preempts any further attempts at levying sweetened beverage taxes, he seemed to forget that he is no longer on that payroll. Also, everyone pays this tax, not just people of color, and it is negligible as compared to other taxes and general living expenses. His talking point sounded more like right wing anti tax concern trolling, and didn’t answer the question. I found his answer disingenuous at best. Hersey has a degree in poli sci and it is quite apparent that this gig is just a stepping stone to run for state Leg. He needs to turn 30 and reassess.

More noise please
Question said…
"Smith said homeless and students with trauma issues. She said "priorities should be categorized by race." For example, most homeless students are African-American and those most impacted by gender issues are trans black females."

Where do other homeless and traumatized students fit into this pedagogy?
Anonymous said…
Smith's answers are so negative and glass half full. If I knew I was going to be on the board with her for two years yikes! No wonder she was on the board for a charter school. She doesn't like Seattle Public schools in my opinion. Where as Hersey and van Arken mentioned there accomplishments Smith mentioned her complaints and that she was qualified based on her personal experiences. However I would say Smith tied everything into race as if white parents could not have any understanding or similar concerns. In my opinion there's a pretty big overlap in what all families experience. It's not great. The inequities are quite evident.

But could the same system that helped her gain a post graduate degree from the U-Dub really be comprised of white supremacist and black victims? Seriously something has to be working for that to happen. There were three people of color on that stage only one remind you in every one of their answers of that fact.

Not therefore
Anonymous said…
Do all middle and high schools offer similar offerings and does it matter?

Hersey said he wasn't sure but that all students deserve an equitable education.

I think that's fair to say you don't know on a question but not that question. Seriously you do not know the dramatic inequity that the Southeast experiences? And seriously you don't know the difference in funding for the buildings. And you don't know that option schools are only an option for those that can get their kids to them and pay for IAs.

van Arcken is the real deal. She knows the district. She's been active in her community for several years as a volunteer. Reminder this is a volunteer position. She has a positive energy that is guided by experience.

More Noise Please, I only just last night became aware of Hersey being a lobbyist for Big Soda against the sweetened beverage tax. While I sure give him credit for admitting he was in TFA, I have to wonder about being disingenuous when it came to the question of expansion of the tax in not saying this.

"Where do other homeless and traumatized students fit into this pedagogy?"

I couldn't say. I found her answer to be uber-specific.

MSRP, I'm puzzled. What option schools use IAs in a significant way? And you are mistaken about the transportation; the district does do some transportation for Option schools.

NSP said…
John Stanford International and McDonald use significant numbers of PTA-funded IAs in the language immersion programs. Contributions to the PTAs aren't mandatory (I think), but I'm sure people who don't contribute are noticed.
Anonymous said…
All the LI schools. And no buses for them either.

Also, I didn't put this in the story but here's the explanation I was given about the vote next week.I don't know where it will be on the agenda but here's how it will go.

All three candidates will be there as whoever gets the nod will be sworn in and be on the dais. So, no honeymoon period for this person.

Each director will speak on the candidate that he/she is currently supporting to fill the position. How long each takes is up to he/she. They will go from one side of the dais to the other (so not alphabetically).

After the speaking round, the Board (and the public) will clearly be able to count and see if there is any front runner. For example, if 4 directors say, "Candidate X is my pick", then the other two directors may (internally) say, "I will then vote for Candidate X even if I said I preferred Candidate Y."

Why would a director change their preference? To have a unified vote. Which is a better look than a split vote.

It certainly will be dramatic but I feel for the two people who don't get picked as each candidate certain gave it their all and put themselves out there.

Then, they will VOTE, this time in the opposite direction. Directors can choose either the person they said they preferred OR change that to another candidate.

I do not know what they will do if it's a 3-3 tie; probably re-vote and see if anyone changes their vote.

Anonymous said…
Another question for Hersey that didn’t get asked: how will he be an engaged board member while maintaining his career at Federal Way? Will it be his colleagues and kids there who will make sacrifices, or will it be the other SPS directors and stakeholders/parents/kids? If he is as highly engaged in FW as he claims, something will give. And if he is willing to catapult FW after three years, that says something about his willingness to commit long term in the face of personal opportunity.

More noise please
Anonymous said…
Let's see. Comments here are clearly not from people that understand race plays a huge role when it comes to the access and delivery of education. It takes courage to admit our educational system is racist. If you are not there, fine. I am ok with it. But please allow for POC to express themselves and for once, have their voices centered. Letting POC sit at the table does not mean you will be kicked out. Relax.

Fed Up
Stanford and McDonald are not Option schools. They are attendance area schools.

More Noise, well, that would be on him but yes, it would be difficult to be an elementary school teacher and attend committee meetings.

Anonymous said…
They are all people of color wanting to fill Betty's seat.

Again the hyperbole though. It's not all white supremacist and black victims. People of color DO sit at the table. THE SUPER
IS NATIVE AMERICAN. Or is that the wrong color.

Currently we have two native Americans sitting on the board and had one Pacific islander. That's disreportionate. And that doesn't matter.

These complex problems are not going to be solved by name calling. We need to focus on those with the greatest need. But we can't do that at the sacrifice of all others.

Yeah Melissa you're right. I always think of LI schools as option schools because that's how they started. And because having them be attendance area schools is asinine especially when they're primarily placed in affluent neighborhoods.

Anonymous said…
McDonald and John Stanford are not attendance schools, they are option schools with geozones. You need to apply to them during the open enrollment period. When you tour either one, they tell you that they expect parents to contribute ~$1000 per kid per year to fund the IAs.

Cha Ching
AL said…
Were there questions about Advanced Learning?

I expect current, appointed and school board candidates to have an understanding of enrollment projections if Advanced Learning is dismantled. I don't think the majority of individuals have a clue?
Anonymous said…
I agree that Julie van Arken was the most knowledgeable candidate. Considering how awful our district manages it’s +$1B budget, we need a board member who will go deep into the weeds.

Accountability wins
Cha Ching, I stand corrected. I missed that change because JSIS and McDonald did not start as Option Schools.

AL, the only person who mentioned AL in specific was Van Arcken and that was in the context of a 2E question.
No more task forces said…
Julie deeply understands the issues with Advanced Learning- all of them, not just the boundary shifts that will need to happen. She's on the Advanced Learning Task Force and has been pushing hard to have the district allow the task force to consider impacts as a result of potential recommendations, especially on kids furthest from educational justice, but they won't hear of it. (BTW, at least half of the people the district selected for the task force with a garbage application process are anti HCC)
She is far and away the only one who has a handle on a majority of the big stuff that needs serious attention in SPS.
Anonymous said…
And you don't know that option schools are only an option for those that can get their kids to them and pay for IAs.

Thanks Cha ching. So yeah vast inequities when you compare LI schools versus The majority of the schools especially those in the southeast.

Granted there is some confusion on the range of inequities. But no one who has looked at Seattle Public schools thinks every school door opens to the same opportunity. I'm not saying it's disqualifying just like I'm not saying Smith's pessimistic answers are. I just think that there's a clear candidate that understands The district and has a positive energy. She's volunteered for several years and is prepared to make this her sole responsibility.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
The fact that most of folks here are pro JVA does not mean she is the best candidate. For crying out loud one of your readers used this platform to discredit one of these candidates based on their "legal history". So low even for this blog. MW deleted the post but there was no scolding or statement from the admin. Proves my point.

Fed Up
Fed Up, you need to stop now. You will dig a hole for someone who doesn't need that to happen.

I think making a comment go away entirely speaks volumes (rather than call attention to something).

Cease and desist.
IA said…
Some of the expeditionary learning option schools use IAs, too. Pathfinder, Salmon Bay, Thornton Creek, Cedar Park. SPS has several project based learning option schools. I don't know if those involve IAs?

Charter schools and option schools draw students away from assignment schools, which some people believe contributes to whyte flyte from assignment schools.
Standardized Education said…
The board should have a united front. Period.

The two Language Immersion schools receive significant PTA funding. Does PTA funding pay for IAs? If so, will those that seek to diminish PTA support (Harris, Geary et. al) seek to eliminate funding for IAs at Language Immersion schools? If so, this board will continue to lead us down the path of standardized education and broken promises.
Anonymous said…
Yes, the PTAs pay for the IAs, and at those schools, kids benefit from having two adults in the room, which means lower teacher:student ratios. I’m blown away on how that is still allowed in SPS. As much backlash as HCC gets, LI schools in the north end are where real inequity is happening. They have a private school feel. Two years ago at the same board meeting, there was a push to eliminate HC pathways in high school and unanimous support for the creation of a LI pathway. Because those kids ‘need’ continued access to higher level language.

Double standard
kellie said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Perhaps this is off-topic, but here in D7 we just received a snazzy mailer from Seattle Country Day about the campus they plan to open in SE, touting the availability of financial aid, door to door transportation, and opportunities for highly capable students. It would be interesting to know whether the D7 candidates believe it should be part of SPS' mission to try to compete for students who might otherwise choose private or charter.

kellie said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
kellie said…
@ Fed Up

The fact that most of folks here are pro JVA does not mean she is the best candidate.

That is your opinion and your are entitled to it. However, there are some basic facts that truly support that Julie Van Arken is the best candidate for a limited two-year appointment. If this were a true election for a 4 year appointment, we might be having a different conversation, but it is important to remember that this process is for a "limited appointment."

It typically takes board members about two years to really begin to grasp the intricacies of the oversight job and the level of detail required for committee work. School Board is an oversight job, not an advocacy job. Board members are required to do a tremendous amount of very detailed committee work and board members need to have a very detailed understanding of budget and enrollment to make the tiniest of impacts.

Directors Eden Mack and Zachary DeWolf were both elected during the last cycle with Betty Patu and they are both in the middle of their first term. Eden Mack had a long history of volunteer work on SPS committees as well as public testimony and attendance of board meetings. Zachary DeWolf had zero SPS experience.

The difference, that actual SPS experience makes is remarkable. At the board work session on the budget and enrollment, Director Mack as able to effectively draw attention to how the budget did not actually reflect what was happening in our schools and then later refused to approve a budget that RIF'ed teachers for no reason. At that same meeting Director DeWolf struggled with the complexities and nuances.

There is a good reason why a "limited appointment" is not a general election. The other two candidates could very well carry a general election. Seattle has quite often elected Board Members like DeWolf who have never attended a board meeting and really didn't know what they were signing up for.

Director Mack was very specific at the work session that the budget was particularly implausible at Garfield. Director DeWolf trusted staff, that RIF'ing teachers at the high school he represented, was the right thing to do.

Two years in the job, Director DeWolf has learned a few things, that Director Mack understood on Day 1.

Julie Van Arken is the ONLY candidate who has given public testimony at a board meeting. She is the only candidate with a rudimentary understanding of the budget, enrollment and the assignment plan.

For a limited two-year appointment, she is the ONLY qualified candidate.
Anonymous said…
@ MW,
No, not digging a hole for anyone. Peeps here don't need my help to do so.
@ Kelly,
Thanks for the civil conversation. Without knowing you, it seems to me like you are well informed and you care to follow SPS happenings. However I am surprised how quickly you look over some facts. JCA is not the ONLY candidate to provide public testimony at board meetings. ES has done so many, many times on behalf of community, parents and students.
JVA is not the ONLY candidate to devote time to Advisory Committees. ES has done so as recently as this spring as Strategic Plan steering committee member. JVA is not the only one to routinely show up at JSCEE meetings and retreats. I have seen her and you can ask anyone there and they will confirm my words.
So let's be fair and not make statements to build or discount anyone without doing our homework. School Board positions are selfless, thankless jobs. Let's support whoever is appointed for the next two years.
Regards to you. But I am still

Fed Up
kellie said…
I have seen lots of board members come and go over the years.

All of them had good intentions. All of them wanted to make a difference for kids. I am confident that all three candidates have good and noble intentions and only want to make SPS a better place for everyone.

That said, very few board directors, even run for a second term and even fewer are elected to two terms. The actual job is extremely challenging. Very few candidates are prepared for the tedium of the job, with multiple committee meetings and endless bureaucratic details with disproportionate implications

Ultimately, it is a team sport. It doesn't matter how great your ideas are, it matters how effectively you can work with the rest of the board and interface with staff.

I truly thank everyone who has thrown their hat in the ring and wants to stand up for public education.

Anonymous said…
SE has Beacon Hill International school & Dunlap that offer Spanish & Mandarin. SW has Concord Elementary a dual language immersion Spanish school. I remember years ago Concord received alot of grant funding. Some was for parent of ELL students language classes, but also for IA and teacher training. They were chosen over the other schools because of their high FRL population. My point is that parents and PTSA might be contributing to funding program needs that are covered by the district or grants at more affluent immersion schools.

kellie said…
@ Fed Up,

I'm happy to stand corrected.

And you and I cross posted at the same time. I couldn't agree more with this statement. "School Board positions are selfless, thankless jobs. Let's support whoever is appointed for the next two years."

That said, I am very clear that I am single issue constituent at this point in time. I have learned the hard way that the intricacies of student assignment and budget and enrollment take years to learn. I have also learned that "shit always runs downhill" and historically underserved communities are always the ones most impacted when board members board members with "big vision" stumble over the details of committee work.

I happy for you to support your candidate. Frankly, I am always happy when anyone cares about these issues that general escape the notice of the general public.

Standardized Education said…
Thanks for the information KL.

We all know that the district is incapable of maintaining programs, keeping programs and student stability.

I want to know where candidates stand on broken promises and standardized education. They all say they want programs, but it appears some are more than willing to march down the path towards standardization.

Harris has been verbal about broken promises and programs. This is going to get interesting.
Standardized Education said…
South end schools get lower class sizes, but PTAs can't supplement. I get it.
suep. said…
I'm sorry to hear that the D7 appointment process is going to culminate in a public vote and possible haggling. That is unfair to all involved. It would better for the Board to take all the info they have, and their own impressions and judgment -- because, at the end of the day, it is their decision and their responsibility -- meet in closed session, decide on a person, and all agree to support that person unanimously. Anything else is potentially harmful or opens the door to political grandstanding.
Robin said…
South End schools don't all get smaller class sizes. South End schools with high rates of kids living in poverty get smaller class sizes because those families need more resources. PTA is not an equalizer so wealthier communities can keep up with funds intended to mitigate the effects of poverty. Also parents and PTA at Concord are definitely not paying for DL program.
Anonymous said…
What is unfair is that the public were denied a vote in the first place. Daylighting the process and engineering as much transparency as possible is the least the public can expect. The public needs to know first hand how the process is carried out and who votes for who. This is a sensitive selection and must be done with total transparency. To argue for anything less is anachronistic.

Why is a former board member advocating for secrecy in this regard?

D7 parent said…
I agree 100% with Sue and with Kellie- this process has been pretty painful, most especially for the candidates. A public vote is going to be icky, and I can only imagine how it will feel to the candidates to have to sit there through the voting.
This is one of the very few times I wish the board would just do it in private and not disclose anything about who voted for who to the public. Whoever the appointee is, they are going to have to work with the rest of the board, and this way of voting is going to leave hurt feelings and makes it much more difficult for the board to make a decision on who they truly believe will make the best candidate at this time. Instead there will be a lot of political pressure and audience reaction that is incredibly challenging to go against.
This process seems to have further divided our community instead of bringing it together. There will be healing that needs to be done no matter who is appointed, and unfortunately that will be on the shoulders of the appointee.
Anonymous said…
The new board member will have to work with the board. If the decision is not presented as unanimous, does the chosen board member really need to know who didn't pick them? Unfortunately, the decision to leave the board was not done soon enough to allow for a public vote at the polls so instead we get this appointment process. D7 has had way more input than previous districts when their board members were appointed. The process has been way more transparent than it ever was. The board has the right to choose whom they want without any input from the district. I think it is awesome how much input the board has sought from D7, but ultimately, the choice is theirs. Who can they work with?

Perplexed, the Board quite clearly laid out the process. They discussed the process in open meetings; I was at a couple. Not sure what else they were supposed to do.

Sue Peters is pointing out that - legally - it IS in the hands of the Board. I think doing it behind closed doors would be better in order for the Board to hash it out and say whatever they like. But they have chosen an open voting process so you'll see and hear it realtime. Peters is entitled to her opinion.

D7 Parent, I agree. Very painful for the two people who don't get the nod to have done all the work and then have to show up and wait for a vote. I think that voting in a closed executive session and then announcing it might cause less pain to those two.

And, if done in public, I certainly hope the reaction from the Board and audience will be to embrace the new Board director.

If it were me as one of the three, I'd position myself standing at the back and after the vote, if I was not picked, I'd just leave.
suep. said…
But it's not an election; it's a Board appointment, which makes it more similar to a superintendent selection. Last year, the Board coalesced around a supt choice and gave that person their unified support. No candidates were publicly humiliated or disappointed in the process.

Likewise here, both the D7 candidates who are not selected and the one who is, deserve respect and strong support. The process as planned appears to create the potential for unnecessary public discord among directors and discomfort for the candidates. I find that regrettable and don't think it's constructive.
Anonymous said…






Yup, 2013. What did the others do to address and remediate this problem? @Fed Up? Nothing! JULIE showed up and convinced Tracy Libros to fix it, which she did. Julie had done her homework, functioned with respect and intelligence, and did good teamwork. She got results. WE NEED JULIE!!!!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013
Racial Equity Inquiry About Maple Elementary Boundary Change Proposal
To: Bernardo Ruiz, Director of School Family Partnerships and Equity and Race Relations at Seattle Public Schools
From: Julie van Arcken, Maple Elementary School parent
Date: October 13, 2013
RE: Racial equity inquiry about Maple Elementary boundary change proposal

Dear Mr. Ruiz:

I live in Mid Beacon Hill, within the walk zone for Maple Elementary, where my daughter attends kindergarten. With its majority Asian population (26% white, 21% Filipino, 20% Chinese, 17% Vietnamese), Mid Beacon Hill benefits enormously from its zoning at Maple Elementary. Under the expert guidance of Principal Pat Hunter, the school has spent years developing protocol to help children who only speak Asian languages learn English.

As part of its Growth Boundaries Project, on Sept. 17, the district released a draft proposal that would shut children from racially diverse Mid Beacon Hill out of its district-defined Maple walk zone, and start bussing those children to faraway Van Asselt. Because this proposal was so clearly contradictory to the project’s stated objectives of equity, walkability, and data-driven decisions, as well as the district’s overall policy of racial equity, I believed I only needed to explain the issue to the Growth Boundaries Project leaders to get the changes made.

At the Sept. 23 community meeting at Mercer, and again at the Sept. 30 meeting at Meany, and again at the Oct. 2 Seattle School Board meeting, I asked the district to revise their boundary proposal to let families within the Maple walk zone in Mid Beacon Hill remain at Maple. A number of parents from Georgetown, a 78% white community outside the Maple walk zone, also attended these meetings and asked to remain at the school.

In the new Oct. 11 Maple boundary proposal, I was surprised to see that the district continued to shut out Mid Beacon Hill families who live within the Maple walk zone, while allowing back in Georgetown families who do not live within the Maple walk zone. The only reason I can imagine for this is that that the district received more comments from Georgetown than Beacon Hill.

To understand why the district would receive more comments from Georgetown than Mid Beacon Hill, please see the chart below. The majority of Mid Beacon Hill residents speak languages other than English. A racially and linguistically diverse neighborhood will never be able to coordinate a feedback blitz the way a majority-white, majority-English-speaking neighborhood can.

Racial and Linguistic Diversity of Georgetown and Mid Beacon Hill

Georgetown Mid Beacon Hill
Has families in the Maple walk zone No Yes
Speak only English at home 66% 44%
White 78% 26%
Filipino 4% 21%
Chinese 0% 20%
Vietnamese 0% 17%
Black 5% 6%

From the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) 2011 5-year estimates, released December 2012. Based on data collected from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2011, and centric to mid-2009. The census tract used for Georgetown was 53033010900, and Mid Beacon Hill was 53033010402. See (race) and (language).

Anonymous said…
To test my assumption that the district has not effectively engaged non-white families in the boundary process to the extent they’ve engaged white families, I created the bar graph below. I took the all the Growth Boundaries community feedback comments from the table in Appendix C of the Oct. 16 School Board agenda (, and isolated the comments classified as pertaining to existing neighborhood K-5 schools. In the cases where the classification named two schools, I counted each separately but weighted them both as 0.5 comments. For comments that named a grade school along with a middle school or high school, I counted it as if it were only about the grade school. I then correlated the number of comments received with the percentage of white students at that school, as reported by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Washington State Report Card website ( - October 2012 data).

In the chart, you’ll notice that the number of comments about a school’s boundary rarely exceeds the percentage of white students at that school. Basically, it seems when the district conducts a process using only English-language materials and only communicated in English via websites with no direct outreach, a disproportionate number of white families provide feedback.

Notably, with the three non-white schools that received a lot of feedback, the comments presented at the Mercer community meeting and the School Board meeting were almost entirely from white parents. This is based on my own visual observation; you can also review the School Board meeting video here: In the case of Maple, most of the comments were from the 78% white community of Georgetown, which did have its voices heard.

Meanwhile, schools with a white population of less than 10% received literally no feedback, or virtually no feedback. In the case of Dearborn Park, which most radically would be changed to a language-immersion-only option school, with all the families being rezoned for Van Asselt, the district received just two comments. (And at least one, if not both, of those comments were from me personally, so they do not count.) Using the district’s feedback mechanism as a guide, you would think that no one at Dearborn Park cares in the slightest that their entire school is going to be taken away from them.

Based on my findings above, I’m concerned the district may not be ensuring racial and cultural equity in the boundary planning process. Mr. Ruiz, can you answer the following questions for me, about racial equity in the boundary planning process for my daughter’s school, Maple Elementary?

Anonymous said…
Potential for public discord and candidate discomfort should not be a concern. One of these selected individuals has little charisma and community credibility and would never have made it onto a general election ballot if they had had to run the traditional way. Worrying about their hurt feelings if they don’t make the cut seems to me to be of lesser consideration than ensuring the selected person has widespread community support rather than the perceived untested ability to align with select board members.

Anonymous said…

1) How has the district considered racial equity when determining which families get to remain within the Maple attendance zone? Why would a neighborhood of majority-white, majority-English-speaking families who live outside the walk zone be prioritized over a neighborhood of majority non-English-speaking families of color who live within the walk zone? How does this support the project’s stated objectives of equity, walkability, and data-driven decisions, as well as the district’s policy #0030 of racial equity? The area being shut out of the walk zone is a relatively small chunk of Mid Beacon Hill – the ask was not larger than Georgetown’s.

2) Can you explain specifically what racial equity analysis tool has been applied to soliciting and reviewing feedback on the new Maple boundaries? According to the “Racial Equity Analysis” section of Seattle Public Schools’ Policy 0030, “The district shall review existing policies, programs, professional development and procedures to ensure the promotion of racial equity, and all applicable new policies, programs and procedures will be developed using a racial equity analysis tool.” What racial equity analysis tool is being used for the community feedback process, and how is its effectiveness being tested?

3) Did the district announce its original draft Maple boundary proposal through direct outreach (ie, flyers sent home with students) in Maple families’ native languages? My daughter attends Maple, and I have not gotten a single handout that even announces that any changes are happening, let alone that we would be assigned to a different school. I only got one email, back in September.

4) Has any of the Oct. 11 boundary revision information been translated into Maple families’ native languages and directly circulated? If so, how much time will be allowed for feedback after those translated materials are circulated? Will the feedback mechanism require access to computers and an understanding of English?

5) Was racial and cultural equity considered when the most-diverse local community meeting (Mercer Middle School, the only meeting in Southeast Seattle) was scheduled first of all the meetings, taking place just two days after “improved” maps were posted to the district website?

I understand that the boundary planning process has been a monumental task, and truly representative feedback may be difficult to attain. However, in the absence of effective tools to ensure representative feedback, the district should not assume that silence equals consent. The district should not assume that only white, English-speaking families want to keep their children to keep going to their current schools, and non-English-speaking families of color don’t mind being shut out of their walk zones to be bussed to faraway schools.

Mr. Ruiz, I’d be very happy to meet with you and the Growth Boundaries Project leaders to discuss this issue together as soon as possible. The feedback timeline is very short, so I would appreciate a quick response.

Julie van Arcken
Maple Elementary Parent

So, @Fed Up, tell us why you think any other can hold a candle to JULIE. I’ll take a proven performer whose been in the trenches for 6 years slogging it out for kids a thousand times over either one of the others because JULIE has been working and working hard for no other reason than to advocate for kids.

Standardized Education said…
Correct. Seattle Public Schools pays for dual language immersion in the south end. North end PTAs are under attack for supplementing. No one is complaining about south -end support. The issue revolves around the board, school board candidates and appointed school board candidates trying to prevent schools from helping themselves.

suep. said…
@Perplexed, How can you know how well any of the finalists would have hypothetically fared in an actual campaign and election? You also seem to assume that only one candidate could be harmed by the process that has been set forth, revealing your own bias. Again, I disagree. For all the reasons I and others have stated above, I believe this process does a disservice to all three candidates. We will just have to agree to disagree on this, and see how it all plays out.
Anonymous said…
One thing to keep in mind too, is that in the general election, the entire voting population of Seattle votes on the school board candidate. It is only district controlled at the primary level.

Oh Perplexed, why are you dancing around? If you have a preferred candidate, weigh in. I have to say your description about a person and their personality is out of line because there are plenty of issues to say all around. You might want to consider your words more carefully.

Anonymous said…
I guess by less coverage of SPS you mean only 9 out 10 post will be about SPS.

No Credibility
No Credibility, I said I was slowly backing away.

Also, this is covering elections which I believe important to do at this juncture especially because it establishes a historical record that will not be in any other media source.

As well, sorry you are not reading carefully enough. I am posting about OSPI, WA state PTSA, gun control. It's about 50/50 at this point.

Anonymous said…
@ Standardized Education you really got it wrong. Let me educate you. For free. No PTA or Title One funds will be depleted here.
"Correct. Seattle Public Schools pays for dual language immersion in the south end. North end PTAs are under attack for supplementing. No one is complaining about south -end support. The issue revolves around the board, school board candidates and appointed school board candidates trying to prevent schools from helping themselves"
Nobody, to my knowledge is under attack, proof of that is that the only group that can put this to an end (School Board) continues to allow wealthy PTAs to buy staff.
Now, let's talk about"south -end support". You are referring to federal funds allocated to schools classified as Title One. Those dollars are for ALLEVIATING THE EFFECTS OF POVERTY. Those funds are NOT supporting Dual Language Immersion programs.

So you understand, Dual Immersion in elementary is an enrichment program at both Mc Donald and JSIS. At Dearborn Park, Beacon Hill and specially Concord, Dual Immersion is a gap closing strategy.
I don't expect you to understand. It is clear to me you won't.

Fed Up
But Fed Up, is that how the district describes it? Not sure that's true.

And if the IAs in the southend schools with LI are only there to work to alleviate the effects of poverty, then why does the school make sure they speak the languages taught? Why would it matter if the IAs only have one purpose?

You don't need IAs at all for LI but all these schools have them in order to make the teaching and learning really work for all these kids. I'm not sure there's anything to be ashamed of for that.
Anonymous said…
I think it’s really cool north end and south end schools are both getting dual language education using the tools and resources available to them. I’d check your biases though No Credibility, I know many McDonalds students are native speakers, it’s really not a bunch of white supremacists trying to learn a second language at public school LOL.

Anonymous said…
Us JSIS parents were sold on the idea AIs were needed to make dual immersion work therefore we needed to pay for IAs. In the last few years efforts have been made to reduce the amount of money raised by families by hiring interns instead of IA's. People who got interns were not happy as they saw interns as less qualified.
No, the district will not call it what it really is, because it would be "divisive". I think what it really is divisive is not to support programs whatever they may be and have parents supplement.
Your question regarding what second language the AIs speak is odd. Ai's that speak a second language are there to serve all students as AIs speak English. Again, what an odd question.

At JSIS we were told in order to have a successful Dual Immersion model we needed to raise $450,000 (that was the highest amount over my almost 10 years at JSIS)in two weeks. Is not a matter of shame. It is about understanding what equity really means and wanting all students to have access to opportunities regardless of their zip codes. Mine granted me access to JSIS, but denied it to so many others. I am privileged but still

Fed Up
Standardized Education said…
Happy to provide the following information for free. ;)

McDonald International schools has a non-white population of 54%. They receive $14,900 per student.

John Stanford International school has a non-white population of 57%. They receive $13,800 per student.

Information about the district's various types of dual language programs can be found here.

Leave them alone.

Anonymous said…
@Standarized test
Leave who alone? I am a JSIS parent. And your per pupil reasoning just shows you do not understand the point.
It's not about white VS non white. It is about understanding what equity really means and wanting all students to have access to opportunities regardless of their zip codes.
Of curse Concord Elementary gets more money per student because, I repeat: Title One dollars are to ALLEVIATE THE EFFECTS OF POVERTY. You sound like you have a problem with that.

Fed Up

Standardized Education said…
What is equity? When is equity achieved? Is equity achieved when north end PTAs are no longer permitted to support dual language programs?
Fed Up, are you saying the IAs at the southend LI schools don't speak two languages so that they can help in the classrooms? They only speak English?

If you are saying the idea of two native speakers in a classroom is really not needed, then I would say, yes, the district was the one who sold this idea. I have written - several times over the years - of how much pressure this was to put on parents to fundraise for this year in and year out.

And the district is the one who decided - for many years - that only kids who lived in a certain neighborhood could access LI.

Fed Up, I urge you to take a breath. No one is saying what you seem to think they are.

Anonymous said…
I agree with Fed Up. The district is very selective as to which programs and services it considers inequitable. For some reason, having kids learn a second language on the backs of parent funding is totally ok. They also benefit from lower class sizes. The school isn’t open to everyone. You have to live in the pricey neighborhood of Greenlake or Wallingford to have a real shot of attending. It wasn’t until the last 5 years that they saved spots for native speakers, and it was only because it would help the program as a whole. Not because of equity.
Per pupil expenditure is irrelevant when compared to South end LI schools, who rely on title I funds.

No equity
Illogical said…
According to No equity's logic, schools that only accept students within their boundary lines should not have access to programs.
Anonymous said…
@ Standardized Education,
You ask:
What is equity? When is equity achieved? Is equity achieved when north end PTAs are no longer permitted to support dual language programs?

Equity is: providing all students with the same opportunities regardless of their zip code, color of their skin or their families' ability to fundraise huge amounts of money for schools to provide what every kid has the right to: FAPE (free and appropriate public education).
As long as the district continues to be unsupportive of Dual immersion programs, the system, (not the parents) will be the one to blame for an inequitable and elusive equal access for all.

I am breathing just fine. no worries.
To answer your question, AIs at let's say Beacon Hill may or may not speak the languages spoken at the school's dual language classes. Why? Because unlike JSIS and Mc Donald, AIs are not dedicated to each and every dual immersion classroom, rather shared by the entire school body.

I will be honest, I cannot say who's idea it was to make us believe we needed to buy AIs. By the time my kids started attending JSIS, Kelly Aramaki was principal. We have been fundraising for what used to be "Annual Fund" more recently rebranded "Campaign to put students first" or something like that for years.
Principals after Kelly have been on board with the huge fundraising for the most part, some others have tried to reduce it.
Every Spring we are politely asked to donate. And this is why I am

Fed Up

Anonymous said…
It's outrageous that programs like language immersion aren't option schools.

Having some programs on the backs of English Language Learners in the south, and then on the whims of parent fundraising in the north, is the very definition of inequity.

In most places, this would be deemed completely inept and unacceptable for public schools.

It's only okay here because the families who reap the benefits would rather take from the EL coffers in the south or put out the extra funds in the north.

As long as they are getting theirs, don't make waves.

What aJoke
Anonymous said…
What a cleverer hijack of a thread. Well done opponents of an experienced leader like Julie to be on the board. But back to that. In a few short days the Board members are going to make a decision. I am hopeful that they choose somebody with experience and the right attitude to hit the ground running. This is for two short years. Julie is the only one that has thst capability.

Anonymous said…
Maybe talking about actual issues that are usually shoved under the carpet is the very essence of what needs to be discussed on a board appointment thread.

Of course, the pattern for JVA supporters has been "preserve my privilege."

Hijack This
Anonymous said…
What privilege is that then? The one to keep on topic. I can't hijack what you already hijacked. No other candidate has the experience or energy and time that Julie has committed.

Thank you Smith and Hersey but I would say that for this abbreviated position she is the best one for district 7 and for the district overall.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Standard Education said…
People on this thread that want Standardized Education probably would not want the candidate with ties to a charter school.
Anonymous said…
darkest kid in the group... Was when she was growing up. Good grief.

But what you are saying now brown is not brown enough. Patu isn't black enough either then. DeWolf has made similar claims of Asians being white. Oh yeah that whole interment thing must have been glossed over. Brown isn't white in America. Those 'great again' hats are about not brown.

We saw it on the steps of the Lincoln memorial. Hats against drums.

Uncouth f13
Anonymous said…
SE Seattle’s population is 21% African American. What of the other 50% who are not, and also, not white? There are others far away from educational justice; ELL kids, and kids who need SpEd support. Smith covers for her lack of knowledge of SpEd by telling us that we “don’t need labels.” Hersey says that he has what he guesses is a 2E kid in his Federal Way classroom and leads off with describing their struggles, while generalizing gifts (“all kids are highly capable, he says in the first forum”). I was shocked that he identified a current child in his class, for a campaign stomp, very poor judgement. In both cases, this is ableism and erasure of SpEd kids whose parents are of all races. Van Arcken was the only candidate that spoke to this intersectionality, not to mention, the only one that spoke to gender. She understands this complexity, and the others mask their lack of understanding with talking points and broad platitudes, and the pivot back to one racial identity. We need someone that the entire district, even the entirety of D7 can rely on. If the Directors are scared of being called names and will succumb to bullying then we don’t have leaders willing to make tough choices. And that would be truly sad.

More noise please
Anonymous said…
You know our corporate overlords have won when the radicals have taken to shaming each other anonymously online over this. Really, are families (many native speakers) so terrible for shelling out money so their children can know their mother tongue? How is that a detriment to families at Title 1 schools? I’ve lost track of who the purported oppressor and victim in this narrative is, it can’t be as easy as north/south or black/white since humans never fit neatly in those boxes. Meanwhile, Amazon paid ZERO taxes last year, announced this week they are cutting health care for part time workers. Is ANY of that good for income inequality and the ability for poor families to get by? No. I’m not saying throw race out the window, I’m saying watch the ball. We getting played.

kellie said…
@ Fed Up,

Thanks for the update about Smith. I have done a little more looking and here are my opinions.

I would call Smith's experience "limited." I would call Van Arken's experience modest or moderate. The is compared to Eden's Mack's experience as extensive.

As I have mentioned many times, it takes years to get a working understanding of enrollment and budget and student assignment. Julie has that understanding and Smith simply does not.

As this is a limited two year appointment, IMHO, the most important quality is a working understanding of the process by which students are matches with teachers.

kellie said…
I find all the comments about "who would win in a real election" to be interesting and quite myopic.

General elections for school board are pretty much a crap shoot, with races all over the map.

In the last election cycle, the two extremely qualified candidates for District 3 were wiped out in the primary and we were left with the two candidates with the least experience. There were over 7 candidates for District 4, many qualified and after the primary we had Eden Mack and some barely coherent person, rather than any of the other qualified candidates.

In the election before that, we had some hotly contested races and some effective walk-ons. We have also had many years were there were true walk-ons. As well as races with tons of outside money.

I think any notion of who would do best in an election is specious at best, because none of the current candidates needed to do the daunting organizational work of a political campaign.

In general, school board races are determined by who gets the most and the best endorsements. Because in a general election, very few voters follow school board races closely or at all. While I follow school board carefully, I rely on trusted endorsements for many other elected races, like the Port of Seattle.

Equity Matters, you are right. I let this thread get hijacked.

So no more discussion on LI.

Hijack this, I have had plenty of threads to talk about "actual issues" including LI.

Anonymous, no anonymous comments per the comment guidelines. But I'll put it up in my comment so as to address some issues.

"I support Emijah Smith because she is passionate and knowledgeable. I like Brandon's energy but I do not think he is ready for this. Julie in my personal opinion has been around SPS enough to understand people like the idea of a safe candidate and she is taking advantage of that. She is also clever enough to highlight her POC status although I could not avoid to roll my eyes when she said she was usually the darkest kid in the group while sitting on a stage with African American people. It just sounded off.
Anyway, if we are talking about district seven here you go:

May the best candidate get chosen. GO EMIJAH!"

First, thank you for saying "may the best candidate get chosen" - I agree.

Is Julie a "safe" candidate? I don't get that as Emijah is the PTSA-linked candidate. You can't get much more safe than that.

And yes, you should have listened as Julie speaking of her skin tone was about HER experience at HER school. Because if one group says, "Well, you aren't really a minority like we are" I'd tell we are a sad place and time.
kellie said…
I find it very interesting that a thread about school board candidates quickly segwayed into Language Immersion. That is the exact point I am making about qualified.

Many people think that the issues with Language Immersion have something to do with "philosophy." When every single decision about language immersion has always been a capacity management decision.

It typically take board members at least two years to begin to manage all the intricacies of capacity management and school based curriculum.

Why are some schools K8's? Well, that was the capacity management plan circa 2005. It has nothing to do with pedagogy. Why was the Latona school made into the first language immersion school. Well, that was a building that could be reprogrammed and it was John Stanford's attempt to increase enrollment when SPS was riddled with half empty building.

I have learned to be very wary of any school board candidate who does not understand the mechanics of operations and how education program and capacity managements are intertwined.

kellie said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
kellie said…
Oops. And I mistyped above. I meant District 5, Zachary DeWolf's district, not D3. Andre and Alex were both extremely qualified candidates.

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