Eli Broad is trying to push through another superintendent candidate for Seattle Public Schools, Andre Spencer



Many of us painfully recall our last Broad Superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and the chaos she wrought through school closings, successful programs being decimated, an increase in bureaucracy, nonsensical rifing of teachers and a regime of fear.

This kind of disruption has been felt by other districts who hired superintendents trained by the billionaire Eli Broad who thinks all schools should be privatized.

At least once or twice a month, people contact me after finding the article Sue Peters wrote on the Broad Foundation, How to tell if your school district is infected with the Broad virus. These parents feel as we did, lost, not understanding what was going on or why and not knowing what to do.

The reason this blog was created is because several of us, as parents and teachers, didn’t understand why our superintendent was closing schools when we knew Seattle was growing and couldn’t understand why she was moving school programs around and rifing teachers on a whim. Someone floated the name “Broad” which we then connected to charter schools and all became clear. We began to see the connections between Broad and Bill Gates along his faux roots groups and the push for privatization. Once we began to accumulate information, it became too unwieldy to file online so I decided to post the information in the form of a blog and the rest, as they say, is history. The one good thing that came out of Goodloe-Johnson’s reign was that we formed a tight knit community of parents, teachers and concerned citizens who became the watchers on the wall and we are blowing the horn once again.

Broad claims it engages in “venture philanthropy”:

“Our Approach to Investing: Venture Philanthropy. We take an untraditional approach to giving. We don’t simply write checks to charities. Instead we practice ‘venture philanthropy.’ And we expect a return on our investment.”

-Eli Broad

The Broad agenda is to close schools and successful programs and bring in charter schools to replace them as happened in New Orleans after Katrina, in Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles where Eli Broad lives. Broad has proclaimed that all schools in Los Angeles should be charter schools

Sand Point: $7M

Viewlands: $11M

Old Hay: $7.5M

Mc Donald: $14.9M

Rainier View: $7.4M

Total so far: $47.8M

Goodloe-Johnson closed 9 schools and programs with a reshuffling of teachers and students to save $5M just for them to be reopened the next year due to overcrowding of classes at the cost of $47.8M. She also closed the African American Academy and Summit, both alternative schools that served the community well.

In the end, Goodloe-Johnson was let go along with her CFO under a cloud of allegations of fraud. 

Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Contact your school board members and let them know what you think. The vote is this Wednesday.

Seattle School Board Directors


For additional information on the Broad Foundation and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, see:

A Parent Guide to the Broad Foundation’s training programs and education policies

The Battle for Seattle, Part 1

The Battle for Seattle, Part 2: Hijacked!

The Broad Foundation in Seattle






Seattle School District Used False Data To Show College Readiness











Who Is Victimizing Chicago’s Kids?

What’s wrong with CPS’s Renaissance 2010??

From Accountability to Privatization and African American Exclusion: Chicago’s “Renaissance 2010”

Got Dough? Public School Reform in the Age of Venture Philanthropy

-Dora Taylor







Learning from Past Mistakes: Seattle Public School’s Greatest Superintendent Misses, Part 1: Joseph Olchefske

Editor’s note: As Seattle Public Schools starts to narrow the field of potential superintendents it’s important to learn from past mistakes. Example one: Joseph Olchefske. -Carolyn Leith




What do you think should happen in this scenario?

The superintendent of the largest school district in the state, through mismanagement and carelessness, runs up a crippling 35 million dollar deficit?

If you believe in the efficiency of the market, the answer should be easy.

The superintendent would be immediately fired. Since his actions lost the school district money or in business terms – became extremely unprofitable,  he would never again have a job related to education.

Meet Joseph Olchefske, an expert in finance, and a rising star in Seattle Public Schools in the late ’90s. After the untimely death of his mentor, John Stanford, Olchefske officially became Superintendent of SPS in February of 1999.

Within four years of his tenure, the district would be facing a 35 million dollar deficit and Olchefske would be on the receiving end of two separate votes of no confidence.

Here’s a timeline from the Post-Intelligence which documents the unravelling.


Sept. 14, 1995: Seattle Schools Superintendent John Stanford appoints Olchefske to be chief financial officer for district. He had been a public-finance manager for brokerage firm Piper Jaffray in Seattle since 1986.

Nov. 28, 1998: Stanford dies of acute myelogenous leukemia.

Feb. 09, 1999: Olchefske, who had been interim superintendent after Stanford’s death, is named permanent superintendent.

Aug. 16, 2002: Olchefske’s chief financial officer, Geri Lim, resigns in exchange for $51,000, a letter of reference and $1,000 for job-hunting costs.

Oct. 4, 2002: Olchefske announces that accounting glitches and computer problems led to a $35 million budget shortfall.

Oct. 28, 2002: Principals Association of Seattle Schools votes against holding a no-confidence vote.

Nov. 1, 2002: Seattle School Board votes in support of Olchefske.

Nov. 05, 2002: Seattle Education Association, the teachers union, publicly calls for Olchefske to resign.

March 28, 2003: Principals Association executive board votes no confidence in Olchefske.

April 4, 2003: Teachers union votes no confidence in Olchefske. “I’m committed to being superintendent,” he responds.

April 14, 2003: Olchefske resigns.

You would think a 35 million dollar financial meltdown would be a big red flag on someone’s resume. Not so for Olchefske. He immediately landed a job with the American Institute for Research, also know as AIR.

AIR’s founder got his start pioneering psychological testing to screen for prospective combat pilots during World War II. Afterwards, AIR expanded into the area of education and workforce readiness.  As you can imagine, AIR is all in when it comes to the recently updated ESSA and the associated competency-based  and social emotional learning.

Middle College

How did Olchefske make the leap from a widely disliked superintendent to Managing Director at the American Institute for Research?

I’m guessing one of his pet projects in Seattle had a lot to do with it.

In January of 2001, Seattle Public Schools partnered with the Simon Youth Foundation to launch The Northgate Mall Education Resource Center, also know as the Mall Academy. This school was added to the Middle College concept within Seattle Public Schools (SPS).

High school students enrolled in the Education Resource Center would attend classes at the mall focusing on skills training such as applied health occupations and vocationally certified school-to-work programs. Students could even work at the mall for credit.

The idea of a vocational school at the mall was so innovative, in fact, the John Hopkins School of Education has an article about it on its website. Oh, did I mention Olchefske is an Adjunct Professor at John Hopkins?

Most of all, the Education Resource Center will serve as a catalyst for partnerships between educators and employers and will benefit the mall, its stores, and the students it serves. Junior Achievement of Seattle and Community in Schools are just two of the additional partners who have already committed to provide services and resources to support the students. Young people will receive instruction and on-the-job training for careers in retailing, and there will be management track employment opportunities at the mall for graduates of the retail-training program.

“This is a tremendous program, not only for our students, but for the City of Seattle,” said schools Superintendent Joseph Olchefske. “It represents the kind of innovative, out-of-the-box thinking that is so essential if we are to deliver on the dream of academic achievement for every student in every school.”

It’s worth noting the history surrounding Middle College. When first conceived, the Middle College concept was based on reaching high-risk kids through an association of a small school with a strong social justice focus. Adding a solely jobs training, commercially orientated school to the mix was bound to create friction – and it did.

In May of 2015, Superintended Nyland abruptly announced the closure of Middle College at High Point. This was one of the schools under the Middle College umbrella with a social justice core curriculum designed to connect with at-risk kids. There was a huge pubic uproar over the closure.

As the controversy grew, the ed-reform supporting The 74 published a “hero in education” puff piece in December praising the work of Middle College High School at Northgate, Simon Youth Foundation, and its work with at-risk youth.

Today, Middle College at Northgate has a blended instructional model meaning much of the class time is spent on a computer.

Middle College High School @ Northgate is a distinctive educational environment that offers direct and digital academic instruction. It is a student-centered, alternative option that encourages the development of community, personal responsibility, and active learning in the core disciplines of math, science, social studies, and language arts. It is a place to prepare for higher education or career readiness in a small, compassionate academic setting.

Ed-Reform Market Failure

After AIR, Olchefske has continued on his gold-plated career trajectory.

He’s worked for: Educate Online, Mosaica Education, Inc.Calvert EducationEducation Industry Association (EIA)Flex Academies, and Springboard Education in America, LLC.

What do all of these companies have in common?

The privatization of public education and the push to move school online, outside of school buildings, and toward the “anytime, anywhere, learning model”. Viewed through that lens, The Northgate Mall Education Resource Center was ahead of its time.

Way back in 2003, former SPS school board member Don Nielson seemed more worried about Olchefske than the district’s financial trouble.

Don Nielsen, a former school board member and a supporter of the superintendent, was disappointed to learn of Olchefske’s resignation. “I think it’s not in the best interests of the district, but it probably is in the best interests of Joseph and (wife) Judy and their family,” he said. “Anybody that has a complaint with the district is now focusing on him. He didn’t see that going away anytime soon, if at all. As long as he’s a lightning rod, it’s going to be tough for him to lead.”

Nielsen shouldn’t have worried. It seems Olchefske is doing just fine. With the passage of the dumpster fire that is the updated Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), I would expect him to do even better in the future.

-Carolyn Leith

Ten questions for Seattle Public Schools’ IT Lead John Krull re: EdTech in schools and student privacy


John Krull has agreed to answer some questions about what is happening in terms of technology and software programs planned for Seattle Public Schools.

As Krull states in his letter of application for the position within Seattle Public Schools, “I implemented a blended and personal learning infrastructure for 87 urban schools improving overall student engagement”.

To put that in plain English, “blended and personalized learning” means that a student works in front of a computer the greater part of the day and the teacher is then able to manage over 30 students in a class, theoretically, which is a way to cut cost.

Computers or laptops are programmed with Common Core Standard packaged lessons and its associated testing which becomes an integral part of the software. There is also experimentation with using a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program that is integrated into the computers to determine a student’s mindset and attitude.

Then there is the concern of student privacy and the culling of personal information that can be provided to third parties with no protections by FERPA.

We raised a red flag on this website when we discovered that John Krull had been hired by Seattle Public Schools after working in Oakland with their public school system and I wrote about it for The Progressive.

Mr. Krull has agreed to answer some questions for us and he will have an opportunity, in a second article, to air his disagreement with what has been written so far on this website.

The following are the ten questions we submitted to John Krull, Chief Information Officer for Seattle Public Schools on April 14th.

1. Why did you decide to move to Seattle after working for two years as Chief Information Officer in the Oakland public school system?

2. Are you familiar with the Homeroom software? Apparently, it has been installed in some Seattle schools as a pilot program. If you are familiar with the program, what do you see as its value? Do you know what the cost is to buy, install and implement the program along with technology upgrades to sustain this program if it is used within the entire SPS school system?

3. Homeroom allows the collection of sensitive behavioral information and there is concern by parents that too much student information is being requested by the software. Do you know who is privy to this information and would it include the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Seattle’s Department of Early Learning?  Do you know if the information will it be tracked as a student continues through high school?

4. What is the Technology Plan for Seattle Public Schools? Will you be writing a new or revised Technology Plan as you did for Oakland Public Schools? 

5. Are you familiar with CASEL? If so, what is your role to be with this program?

6. Do you have a plan for notifying parents of the information that is gathered by software distributed to schools within the Seattle school district including Homeroom?

7. On the Seattle Public Schools’ website it notes that you wrote a paper titled “How Do You Measure Return on Investment of EDtech” and another paper “Creating a Platform for Staff and Student Growth”. There were no links provided to these papers. Please include a link in your response or a pdf that we can post.

8. What are your views on the use of devices such as laptops by young children, particularly between kindergarten and second grade? In Oakland, Clever badges are used by the youngest students to start up their laptops.

9. You state on the Seattle Public Schools website that you have a vision and commitment for an “equitable, supportable, standardized and secure environment to improve teaching and learning.” What are your definitions of “standardized” and “secure”?

10. You tweeted about IMS Global in January of this year. What is your relationship with IMS Global?

Related posts:

EFF Survey Reveals Gaps in Protecting the Privacy of K-12 Students Using School-Issued Devices and Cloud Apps

The Endgame of Corporate Reform, Part 3: Online Learning, Social, Emotional Learning and the Department of Defense

How exactly did the Department of Defense end up in my child’s classroom?

McD Happy Meal online schools for all in Seattle with SPS IT Officer John Krull

The US Department of Education’s Digital Promise to advance the ed-tech field and online learning in public schools

Washington State’s Digital Promise School Districts: Creating new markets for personalized learning snake oil

Oops! Study Shows Computer Use in School Doesn’t Help Test Scores

ACT study: Common Core, not ready for prime time

Video: Clinical Child Psychologist: The Common Core Standards are developmentally inappropriate

Common Sense Questions About the Common Core Test

How we got the Common Core Standards: Federal Manipulation Through Race to the Top

Who wrote the Common Core Standards? The Common Core 24

The facts about the Common Core Standards

Submitted by Dora Taylor

#BlackLivesMatterAtSchool: Hundreds of professors across the country support Seattle educators in their day of action


Originally posted at I Am an Educator.

Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool: Hundreds of professors across the country support Seattle educators in their day of action

Over 200 scholars and professors nationwide sign statement in support of the Seattle teachers’ October 19,, 2016 action to make Black Students’ Lives Matter in the district. The support for making Black Lives Matter in our classrooms has been widespread, yet some around the nation have also responded with messages of hate and fear.  Dr. Wayne Au, Associate Professor in the School of Educational Studies at the University of Washington Bothell and an editor for the social justice teaching publication, Rethinking Schools, put out a call to professors and scholars to publicly tell the Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle School Board that many experts in the field of education and beyond support Seattle teachers. Below is the statement and the list of 212 names and affiliations as of October 17, 2016.

We, the undersigned professors and scholars, publicly express our support for and solidarity with teachers of Seattle Public Schools and their October 19, 2016 action in recognition of making Black Student Lives Matter in our schools. We hope that these teachers are continually supported by the district, the school board, their union, and parents in their struggle for racial justice in Seattle schools.

Name & Affiliation (for informational purposes only)

  1. Curtis Acosta, Education for Liberation Network & University of Arizona South
  2. Alma Flor Ada, Ph. D., Professor Emerita, School of Education, University of San Francisco
  3. Annie Adamian, Assistant Professor, California State University, Chico
  4. Jennifer D. Adams, Associate Professor Science Ed and Earth and Environmental Sciences, CUNY
  5. Tara L. Affolter, Assistant Professor, Middlebury College
  6. Jean Aguilar-Valdez, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education, Portland State University
  7. Lauren Anderson, Associate Professor of Education, Connecticut College
  8. Subini Annamma, Assistant Professor, Special Education, University of Kansas
  9. Zandrea Ambrose, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
  10. Nancy Ares, Associate Professor, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  11. Michael W. Apple, John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  12. Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price, Teacher Educator–Montclair State University; EdD student at Rutgers Graduate School of Education
  13. Rick Ayers, Asst. Prof of Education, U of San Francisco.
  14. William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education (retired), University of Illinois Chicago
  15. Wayne Au, Associate Professor, School of Educational Studies, University of Washington Bothell
  16. Jeff Bale, Associate Professor of Language and Literacy Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
  17. Megan Bang, Associate Professor, learning Sciences and Human Development, Secondary Teacher Education
  18. Lesley Bartlett, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  19. Teddi Beam-Conroy, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Elementary Teacher Preparation Program, University of Washington
  20. Lee Anne Bell, Professor Emerita, Barnard College
  21. John Benner PhC, University of Washington, College of Education
  22. Jeremy Benson, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Studies, Rhode Island College
  23. Dan Berger, Assistant professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  24. Margarita Bianco, associate professor, School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado Denver
  25. Anne Blanchard, PhD, Senior Instructor, Western Washington University.
  26. Whitney G. Blankenship, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies & History, Rhode Island College.
  27. Aaron Bodle, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education, James Madison University
  28. Joshua Bornstein, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, Felician University.
  29. Samuel Brower, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Houston
  30. Anthony Brown, Associate Professor, University of Texas Austin
  31. Kristen Buras, Associate Professor, Georgia State University
  32. Dolores Calderon, Associate Professor, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Washington university
  33. Timothy G. Cashman Associate professor, social studies education, University of Texas at El Paso
  34. Keith C. Catone, Principal Associate, Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University
  35. Charusheela, Assistant professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  36. Minerva S. Chávez, Ph. D., Director, Single Subject Credential Program, Associate Professor, Department of Secondary Education, California State University, Fullerton
  37. Linda Christensen, Director Oregon Writing Project at Lewis & Clark College.
  38. Christian W. Chun, Assistant Professor of Culture, Identity and Language Learning, University of Massachusetts Boston
  39. Carrie Cifka-Herrera Ph.D. University California Santa Cruz
  40. Ross Collin, Associate Professor of English Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  41. Rebekah Cordova, PhD, College of Education, University of Florida
  42. Chris Crowley, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education, Wayne State University
  43. Cindy Cruz, Associate Professor of Education, UC Santa Cruz
  44. Mary Jane Curry, University of Rochester
  45. Karam Dana, Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  46. Chela Delgado, adjunct faculty in San Francisco State University Educational Leadership graduate program
  47. Robert L. Dahlgren, Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, SUNY Fredonia
  48. Noah De Lissovoy, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Texas at Austin
  49. Betsy DeMulder, Professor, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University
  50. Robin DiAngelo, Adjunct Faculty, University of Washington School of Social Work.
  51. Maurice E. Dolberry, PhD. Lecturer, School of Educational Studies, University of Washington-Bothell
  52. Michael J. Dumas, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley.
  53. Jody Early, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Washington Bothell
  54. Kimberly Early, adjunct faculty, Education department at Highline College & Applied Behavioral Science department at Seattle Central
  55. Education for Liberation
  56. Kathy Emery, PhD, Lecturer at San Francisco State University
  57. Joseph J Ferrare, Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky
  58. Michelle Fine, Professor, City University of New York Graduate Center
  59. Liza Finkel, Associate Professor of Teacher Education, Lewis & Clark College Graduate School of Education and Counseling
  60. Kara S. Finnigan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education Policy, Warner School of Education, University of Rochester
  61. Ryan Flessner, Associate Professor of Teacher Education, Butler University
  62. Susana Flores, PhD Assistant Professor, Curriculum, Supervision and Educational Leadership at Central Washington University
  63. Kristen B. French, Associate Professor & Director, Center for Education, Equity and Diversity, Woodring College of Education, Western Washington University
  64. Victoria Frye, Associate Medical Professor, City University of New York School of Medicine
  65. Derek R. Ford, Assistant Professor of Education Studies, DePauw University
  66. Jill Freidberg, part time lecturer, Media and Communication Studies, University of Washington Bothell.
  67. James A. Gambrell, Assistant Professor of Practice, Graduate School of Education, Portland State University
  68. Arline García, Spanish Instructor, Highline College
  69. Mónica G. GarcíaAssistant Professor Secondary Education, California State University Northridge
  70. Brian Gibbs Assistant Professor of Education University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  71. David Goldstein, Senior Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington Bothell.
  72. Julie Gorlewski, Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
  73. Alexandro Jose Gradilla, Associate Professor, Chicana/o Studies, CSU Fullerton.
  74. Sandy Grande, Professor of Education and Director of the center for the comparative study of race and ethnicity, Connecticut College
  75. Allison Green, English Department, Highline College
  76. Kiersten Greene, Assistant Professor of Literacy Education, State University of New York at New Paltz
  77. Susan Gregson, Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Cincinnati
  78. Martha Groom, Professor, IAS, University of Washington Bothell
  79. Rico Gutstein, University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Curriculum and Instruction
  80. Alyssa Hadley Dunn, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education, Michigan State University
  81. Amy Hagopian at University of Washington School of Public Health.
  82. Jessica James Hale, Doctoral Research Fellow, Mathematics Education, Georgia State University Elizabeth Hanson, ESL Professor, Shoreline Community
  83. May Hara, Assistant Professor, College of Education, Framingham State University
  84. Nicholas Hartlep, Assistant Professor of Urban Education, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN
  85. Jill Heiney-Smith, Instructor in Teacher Education, Director of Field Placements, Seattle Pacific University
  86. Mark Helmsing, Coordinator of Social Studies Education, University of Wyoming
  87. Kevin Lawrence Henry, Jr., Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies & Practice, College of Education, University of Arizona.
  88. Erica Hernandez-Scott, Master in Teaching Faculty, Evergreen State College
  89. Josh Iddings, Assistant Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies, Virginia Military Institute
  90. Ann M. Ishimaru, Assistant Professor, University of Washington
  91. Dimpal Jain, Assistant Professor, California State University, Northridge
  92. Brian Jones, City University of New York, Graduate Center
  93. Denisha Jones, Assistant Professor, College of Arts and Sciences, Trinity Washington University
  94. Beth Kalikoff, Associate Professor, Univ. of Washington Seattle
  95. Richard Kahn, Core Faculty in Education, Antioch University Los Angeles
  96. Daniel Katz, Chair, Department of Educational Studies, Seton Hall University
  97. Mary Klehr, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education
  98. Courtney Koestler, Director of the OHIO Center for Equity in Math and Science, Ohio University
  99. Jill Koyama, Associate Professor, Educational Policy Studies and Practice, University of Arizona
  100. Chris Knaus, Associate Professor, University of Washington Tacoma
  101. Matthew Knoester, Associate Professor, University of Evansville
  102. Rita Kohli, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Riverside
  103. Ron Krabill, Associate Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  104. Patricia Krueger-Henney, Assistant Professor, College of Education and Human Development, University of Massachusetts Boston.
  105. Saili Kulkarni College of Education Assistant Professor Cal State Dominguez Hills
  106. Scott Kurashige, Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  107. Gloria Ladson-Billings Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education UW-Madison
  108. Carrie Lanza, MSW and PhD, adjunct faculty, University of Washington Bothell
  109. Douglas Larkin, Associate Professor, Secondary and Special Education, Montclair State University
  110. Alyson L. Lavigne, Associate Professor, College of Education, Roosevelt university
  111. Clifford Lee, Associate Professor, Saint Mary’s College of California
  112. Kari Lerum, Associate Professor, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, University of Washington
  113. Pauline Lipman, Professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois-Chicago
  114. Katrina Liu, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education, University of Nevada Las Vegas
  115. Lisa W. Loutzenheiser, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia
  116. David Low, Assistant professor of literacy education, California State University Fresno
  117. John Lupinacci, Assistant Professor, Department of Teaching & Learning, Washington State University
  118. Wendy Luttrell, Professor, Urban Education & Critical Social Psychology, Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center
  119. Aurolyn Luykx, Assoc. Professor of Anthropology & Education, University of Texas at El Paso.
  120. Tomás Alberto Madrigal, Ph.D., Tacoma Pierce County Health Department
  121. Jan Maher, Senior Scholar, Institute for Ethics in Public Life, State University of NY at Plattsburgh
  122. Curry Malott, Associate Professor, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
  123. Gerardo Mancilla, Ph.D., Director of Education Administration and Leadership, School of Education Faculty, Edgewood College
  124. Roxana Marachi, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education, San Jose State University
  125. Fernando Marhuenda, PhD, Professor in Teaching and Curriculum at the University of Valencia, in Spain
  126. Tyson Marsh, Associate Professor, Seattle University
  127. Carlos Martínez-Cano, PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
  128. Edwin Mayorga, Assistant Professor, Educational Studies, Swarthmore College
  129. Kate McCoy, Associate Professor of Educational Foundations, SUNY New Paltz
  130. Cynthia McDermott.EdD., Professor and Regional Director, Antioch University Los Angeles
  131. Jacqueline T. McDonnough, Ph.D., Associate Professor Science Education, School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  132. Kathleen McInerney, Professor, School of Education, Saint Xavier University
  133. Deborah Meier, MacArthur fellow, NYU fellow
  134. José Alfredo Menjivar, Doctoral Student, CUNY, Graduate Center and Humanities Alliance Fellow, LaGuardia Community College
  135. Paul Chamness Miller, Professor of International Liberal Arts, Akita International University
  136. Jed Murr, Full-Time Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  137. Bill Muth, Associate Professor, Adult Learning and Literacy, Virginia Commonwealth University
  138. Kate Napolitan, Teaching Associate, University of Washington Seattle
  139. Jason M. Naranjo Assistant Professor, Special Education University of Washington Bothell
  140. Pedro E. Nava, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Education, Mills College
  141. Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  142. Tammy Oberg De La Garza, Associate Professor, College of Education, Roosevelt University
  143. Gilda L. Ochoa, Professor of Sociology and Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies, Pomona College
  144. Margo Okazawa-Rey Professor Emerita, San Francisco State University
  145. Susan Opotow, PhD Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
  146. Joy Oslund, Coordinator of directed teaching, assistant professor, Madonna University, Livonia, MI
  147. Sandra L. Osorio, Assistant Professor, School of Teaching and Learning, Illinois State University
  148. Carrie Palmer, WSU doctoral student/adjunct faculty at Linn Benton Community College
  149. Django Paris, associate professor, department of teacher education, Michigan State University
  150. Hillary Parkhouse, Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning, School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  151. Patricia Perez, Professor, California State University Fullerton
  152. Emery Petchauer, Associate Professor. College of Ed. Michigan State University
  153. Bree Picower Associate Professor Montclair State University
  154. Farima Pour-Khorshid, Teacher Educator, University of San Francisco and PhD Candidate at University of California, Santa Cruz
  155. Shameka Powell, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies, Department of Education, Tufts University
  156. Rebecca M Price, Associate Professor, UW Bothell
  157. Sarah A. Robert, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo (SUNY)
  158. Mitchell Robinson, Associate Professor and Chair of Music Education, Michigan State University
  159. Rosalie M. Romano, Associate Professor Emerita, Western Washington University
  160. Ricardo D. Rosa, PhD., Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies,, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
  161. Dennis L. Rudnick, Associate Director of Multicultural Education and Research, IUPUI
  162. Lilliana Patricia Saldaña, Associate Professor, Mexican American Studies, University of Texas San Antonio
  163. Jen Sandler, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  164. Jeff Sapp, professor of education, California State University Dominguez Hills
  165. Alexandra Schindel, Asst Professor, University at Buffalo
  166. Ann Schulte, Professor of Education, CSU Chico
  167. Simone Schweber, Goodman Professor of Education, UW-Madison
  168. Déana Scipio, Postdoctoral fellow, ERC & Chèche Konnen Center at TERC
  169. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Associate Professor, English Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
  170. Doug Selwyn, Professor of Education, State University of New York
  171. Julie Shayne, Senior Lecturer, University of Washington Bothell
  172. Sarah Shear, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education, Penn State Altoona
  173. Mira Shimabukuro, Lecturer, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Bothell
  174. Janelle Silva, Assistant Professor, School of IAS, University of Washington Bothell
  175. Carol Simmons. Retired educator, Seattle Public Schools, Seattle University Professor, Seattle Community College, Western State University, City University Professor.
  176. Dana Simone, Instructor, Foundational Studies in Education, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
  177. George Sirrakos, Assistant Professor of Secondary Education, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
  178. Christine Sleeter, Professor Emerita, California State University Monterey Bay
  179. Timothy D. Slekar, Dean, College of Education, Edgewood College, Madison, WI
  180. Beth Sondel, Assistant Professor, Department of Instruction and Learning, University of Pittsburgh
  181. Debbie Sonu, Associate Professor of Education, City University of New York
  182. Mariana Souto-Manning, Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum & Teaching, Teachers College Columbia
  183. Jeremy Stoddard, Associate Professor, College of William & Mary
  184. David Stovall, Professor, University of Illinois Chicago
  185. Rolf Straubhaar, Assistant Research Scientist, University of Georgia.
  186. Katie Strom, Assistant Prof Educational Leadership, Cal State Univ East Bay
  187. Katy Swalwell, Assistant Professor, School of Education, Iowa State University
  188. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Assistant Professor, Dept of African American Studies, Princeton University
  189. Monica Taylor, Associate Professor, Secondary and Special Education, Montclair State University
  190. Cathryn Teasley, Assistant Professor, University of A Coruña (Spain)
  191. Adai Tefera, School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  192. Amoshaun Toft, Assistant Professor, School of IAS, University of Washington Bothell
  193. Sara Tolbert, Assistant professor, College of Education, University of Arizona
  194. Maria Torre, the City University of New York Graduate Center
  195. Diane Torres-Velasquez, Associate Professor, University of New Mexico
  196. Victoria Trinder, Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago
  197. Eve Tuck, Associate Professor of Critical Race and Indigenous Studies in Education, OISE, University of Toronto
  198. Carrie Tzou, Associate Professor, University of Washington Bothell
  199. Angela Valenzuela, professor of Educational Administration, University of Texas at Austin
  200. Manka Varghese, Associate Professor, University of Washington College of Education
  201. Julian Vasquez-Heilig, Professor, California State University Sacramento
  202. Michael Vavrus, Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies (Education, Political Economy, History), The Evergreen State College
  203. Verónica Vélez, Assistant Professor and Director, Education and Social Justice Minor and Program, Western Washington University
  204. Maiyoua Vang, Associate Professor, College of Education, California State University, Sacramento
  205. Michael Viola, Assistant Professor, Saint Mary’s College of California
  206. Donna Vukelich Selva, Edgewood College, Madison WI
  207. Camille Walsh, JD, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Washington Bothell
  208. Lois Weiner, Professor, Director, Urban Education and Teacher Unionism Policy Project New Jersey City University
  209. Melissa Weiner, Associate Professor of Sociology, College of the Holy Cross
  210. Michael Wickert, Professor of English an Education, Southwestern College, Chula Vista, CA
  211. Gabe Winer, English/ESOL Department Co-chair Berkeley City College
  212. Ken Zeichner Boeing Professor of Teacher Education, University of Washington Seattle
  213. Network for Public Education

Introducing the Decision to Support the Whole Child Refusal Form


It’s no secret that refusal forms provided by school districts are designed to shame and intimidate parents into second guessing their decision to keep their children from participating in high states testing.

One Seattle parent wasn’t impressed with Seattle Public Schools aggressive and threatening refusal form.  Instead, she decided to write her own counter called the Decision to Support the Whole Child Form – The unofficial form for opting out of high stakes testing. 

Check it out. (You can download your own copy at the end of the post).


Decision to Support the Whole Child Form

The unofficial form for opting out of high stakes testing*

Please clearly print the following information and return to your school’s principal.

Student’s Name _________________________________________________________

Parent/Guardian’s Name _________________________________________________________

School ____________________________________________________

Student’s Grade Level _____

As the parent/guardian of the above named student, I have made an educated decision to support my child by opting him/her out of participating in the following:

____ all portions of Smarter Balanced

____ end-of course exams in ___ Algebra ___ Geometry ____ Biology

____ certain subtests (please name subtest – ELA, MSP science)

____ MAP

My reason for this decision is: ______________________________________________________________

____ I have read and understand that:

This decision is a permanent record to document my decision about my child’s educational and emotional well-being without fear of harassment, intimidation, bullying and retaliation by Seattle Public Schools.

Students who do not participate will receive positive reinforcement in knowing they are more than a number and will not experience unnecessary anxiety.

Students who do not participate are free to engage in creative endeavors during the test time

Opting out may positively impact our school by relieving the pressure on staffing and physical space.

Teachers will not have to spend time reviewing test scores that are not reliable in measuring all student’s academic growth in the core academic areas of reading, writing, math and/or science. Instead, teachers will be able to rely on their training and professional judgment to evaluate each child as an individual with multiple strengths and challenges.

Families will not receive unreliable results and will be better able to chart their student’s growth over time by partnering with their teachers.

Smarter Balanced should not be used as the achievement for Highly Capable eligible as there is no proven correlation between achievement on this particular test and advanced learning abilities Smarter Balanced was not intended for this purpose and doing will likely to lead to more racial and socio-economic disparity to advanced learning opportunities.

Signature of Parent/Guardian___________________________Date_____________________

* This form is not published or approved by Seattle Public Schools.  You are not required to use the District’s “Refusal to Participate in Assessments Form,” state the reasons for your decision, or agree to any of the assertions stated therein. Opting out is as simple as emailing your principal

Alternative Opt Out Form

-Carolyn Leith

Watson Tango Fremont Washington Middle School PTA! Charter schools recruiting at your “High School Success Night”?!?


I’d say the Washington Middle School PTA has some explaining to do.

This is the flyer that went out to all of the parents at the middle school for High School Success Night:

Please join
Washington Middle School
WMS High School Success Night
Tuesday, March 1st, 6:30pm
Calling all 8th graders and their parents or guardians!
On Tuesday, March 1st at 6:30pm,
WMS will be hosting
High School Success Night.
A light dinner will be served.
  • Counselors from Franklin High School & Garfield High School will give lots of helpful information about navigating the academic and social life of high school.
  • Principal from Summit Charter School will be present to share information about their school.
  • A panel of high school students will be available to share about the transition to high school and for a Question & Answer Period.
Come with your questions in hand!
See you on Tues, March 1 at 6:30pm!

For more on Summit charter school, see

Summit (Sierra) charter school: The skinny on the Gates-backed school set for Seattle, Brad Bernatek (remember him?) and a host of others

The inherent racism of Summit “public” (charter) school

San Jose charter school teacher arrested for having sex with minor

Dora Taylor

“We Are Not Throw-Aways!”: A Statement from the High Point Middle College Site Council



A statement from the Site Council of the High Point Middle College:


Why is Seattle Public Schools (SPS) denying our underserved students an opportunity to become creative, critical, successful learners? Where is the goal of racial equity that the district itself is calling for? Where is the end of the school to-prison pipeline? Where is the learning and teaching curricula through which students become strong, vibrant thinkers, self-determining and able to navigate their way through the real “slings and arrows” of the 21st century?

Middle College High School (MC) was an alternative high school where social justice and a critical pedagogy provided underserved students, students of color, and disenfranchised students a different and personalized education. MC has historically worked to prevent students from leaving education behind and stood on the front line against the school-to prison pipeline. MC was a rigorous educational challenge with high expectations that its students grew into and succeeded while experiencing the transformative reward that comes from meaningful learning. Students who studied in the context of rigorous critical and transformative pedagogy have gone on to do remarkable things.

Then SPS ended this option for juniors and seniors who needed it most. The historically proven MC mission was gutted. High Point MC was closed and the educators dedicated to and advocating of its mission were pushed out.

FROM A PARENT TO SPS: “I really cannot understand why the School District appears to be going out of its way to gut and dismantle a program that has consistently been effective in addressing the needs of some of the district’s troubled but talented students. There is so much talk about the need for improvement in our education system, locally and nationally, with much wringing of hands over the most successful and effective steps to be taken towards that goal… there has been a consistent and proven track record over many years of doing just that for its few lucky students. It is heartbreaking, and in fact truly hurtful, to have the School District take apart this working teaching model.”

Despite SPS’s actions taken against MC, students, parents, communities, and teachers are working to restore the MC historic mission. We have not given up on students who really need that alternative, social justice, cultural diverse option that MC once offered. SPS must provide such a high school alternative option for juniors and seniors based on this teaching/learning model. These students have proven themselves when given such an alternative, and have exceeded expectations and gone on to college/universities and into life doing work that is essential to our common humanity.


Over the past year, SPS closed High Point MC and dismantled Ida B. Wells School for Social Justice at the University of Washington (under the Middle College administration).

In the taking apart of the former MC model, the principal Cindy Nash has managed to move out eight experienced, master educators of color who worked to advocate for underserved and oppressed students and whose teaching and learning meant rigor, respect, and high expectations of their students.

This closed the opportunity for underserved, marginalized high school juniors and seniors, and eliminated a vibrant, alternative option based on respect for students’ potential, cultural context, and a deep-felt necessity to understand their world, their lives.

Under the direction of the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, what replaced the Middle College model (now in name only) is not high expectations of students of color and disenfranchised students but a corporate ed model of isolated online learning and Bill Gates’ online Big History (a series of online, eye candy videos that present history without human agency and elevates technology over humanity.) Student learning has become meaningless except to do credit retrieval, mostly online, for purposes of passing standardized, high stakes tests. This kind of low expectation and uncritical schooling only offers underserved, marginalized students a distressed and uncertain future in a precarious job marketplace.

This current SPS option is in sharp contrast to what a MC student experienced and achieved in the past:

FROM A GRADUATE OF THE FORMER SOCIAL/JUSTICE TRANSFORMATIVE PEDAGOGY MODEL: “…The school was meant for students who had trouble in traditional high school setting, but who still wanted to pursue higher education … I began to understand the transformative effect that a quality and relevant education can have on the lives of individuals. My fellow students and I were held to high expectations, and the education we received… related to our lives and interests. We were reading challenging books by authors such as Howard Zinn, Upton Sinclair, Richard Wright, and Franz Fanon. These texts and thoughtful discussions pushed us to think critically about our society, our immediate surroundings, and pervasive oppressions. Students who had once been cast aside as troublemakers and slackers were now learning and thriving in this academic environment. Many of the … graduates that later continued on to the University of Washington became the most politically active and outspoken advocates for social justice on campus…With (teachers’) support, by the time I finished my senior year I was getting good grades and thinking of college.”

And this student did go on — through graduate school and is now a teacher in a Chicago public high school, committed to social justice, anti-racist critical pedagogy and making sure no students are treated as “Throw-aways.” He would not have made this life for himself sitting in isolation at a computer, drilling through a corporate generated course designed simply to pass a corporate, standardized test (a test that surely did not include critical inquiry into the writings of Franz Fanon). And he represents hundreds of students who studied in the academic and cultural context of the former, authentic MC mission.

SPS high school juniors and seniors, their families, their communities, teachers and this city deserve an alternative learning option that announces: We respect all our public school students and we refuse to be part of a “Throw-away” culture! The goal of racial equity, cultural diverse learning context, academic rigor and high expectations must be extended to all SPS students and especially those students of color, students from immigrant, working class families, and others who suffer from marginalization and disenfranchisement in larger traditional high school settings.

Reorganizing the ideal and practice of an alternative social justice, transformative learning option is a necessary and ethical obligation for educators who uphold that the purpose of public education is to advance democracy and people’s right to social development.

What does an alternative social justice, transformative pedagogy model for high school juniors and seniors look like?

It is a cohort of learners in small, seminar classes with dialogue between students and teachers.

Learning and teaching is based on a college-preparatory discipline with support and encouragement. Students take on college-level history readings, novels, poetry, politics and philosophy of science/ecology and technology. Math instruction uses a progressive approach beginning with the student’s strength. (There are no corporate textbooks.) Foreign language and the arts are also offered. Writing skills are practiced in all their academic courses.

Attendance and participation as a cohort of learners and dialogue with teachers is expected in the learning culture. (Students learn to discuss their studies with teachers: a necessary preparation for college success.) Student/cohort discussions focus on their studies and it becomes a life learning experience in both individual and social expression and in problem-solving articulation. Students create bonds with each other and they develop empathetic and sympathetic perspectives. This comes from the cohort experience and reflects a heightened level of understanding the system (how the world works) and its logic in order to survive and effectively make change.

Students, families, and program supporters initiate academic and social opportunities. Family support and engagement with their child’s learning emerges. Often family members borrow novels students are studying so the discussion continues at home.

The data from the days when this model existed demonstrate that students were not suspended or expelled. They graduated at a higher rate than their peer groups in traditional school and both attendance rates and college-bound numbers were higher.

Beyond this stale data-devotion, what an alternative social justice, transformative model means is a commitment and expansion of democratic public education. The proof is the students — who studied within this model and who graduate, sometimes as the first in their families, who go to college, and who become the subject of their own lives. These students were able to leave high school having explored issues of class, gender, race, ethnicity and other forms of social differentiation related to oppressive social relations.

Not all students choose to continue their education after graduation, most of the students did. More importantly, students knew that the option was there. The students, while not abandoning their own individual culture, understand dominant culture and have the knowledge and skills to find their place in the complexity of the world.

This is an alternative education option that the Seattle Public Schools should embrace as an enrichment of its fundamental responsibility to all student learning, racial equity and social justice, democratic public education, and basic trust and faith in all its students’ potential.

This alternative option for high school juniors and seniors would be a consortium of sites located in the city: West Seattle, the campus site at the University of Washington, and two or three other sites in neighborhoods where need is greatest. Teachers, parents, students, and communities would function as an autonomous and collaborative school and as a SPS alternative option high school.


High Point Middle College

Garfield’s Black Student Union responds to rumored white supremacists march in Seattle


Fueled by statements of hatred and bigotry spewed by Donald Trump and echoed by others including the mainstream press who consider it infotainment for the masses, some folks who want desperately to feel they’re better than anyone else, have decided to come out of the closet with their ignorance and stupidity.

In Seattle, some hate group, who no one is familiar with, posted they were planning a march and rally today in Ballard and Capitol Hill. So far, as of 7:00 PM this evening, there is no news that these events took place.

But, in response to the rumor, the Garfield High School Black Student Union issued a statement on their Facebook page. It reads as follows:

It has been brought to the attention of the Garfield High School Black Student Union that a “White Power March” organized by a Neo-Nazi skinhead group will be held today, December 6th, in Ballard, WA and the Capitol Hill area. This march serves as another reminder of the constant injustices done to black and brown people in America, and that we definitely do not live in a “post-racial society”. It represents a greater system that creates a culture of fear, trauma, and oppression. Let’s not forget “white power” exists in our governments, justice and education systems. Their power is rooted in the pain, suffering, and death of our ancestors, which they still continue to benefit from today.

As black youth, our goal is to fight against these systems that continue to terrorize our people and communities. We believe that through activism and education we can create our own power–a power that is strong enough to fight the systems that were built to suppress us. We stand to bring power to Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, John Crawford III, Tanisha Anderson and the countless others who’ve lost their lives to “white power”. We encourage you to join us in denouncing these childish and disgusting displays of “white power” and to celebrate the resilience and strength of black power.




Video: Seattle teachers talk about the Seattle Education Association strike at the NWTSJ conference


For the first time in 30 years, Seattle educators went on strike for the schools Seattle students deserve and for the working conditions and compensation the teachers deserve. After five days on the picket lines, supported by close to 100 percent of SEA members, parents, families and community, including Seattle City Council, King County Labor Council and the NAACP, the tentative agreement was reached.

This panel of education activists discusses the organizing strategy, the groundswell of support, the gains and compromises made and next steps for educational justice at the Northwest Teachers for Social Justice conference in October, 2015.

I personally know most of the teachers on this panel and have found them to be dedicated, talented and always going the extra mile for their students.


Doug Edelstein teaches history at Nathan Hale High in Seattle. He is a member of the Seattle Education Association (SEA) Board of Directors, an active member of Social Equality Educators (SEE), and served as picket captain for his zone during the SEA strike this fall.

Kayla Barr Graham teaches ELL at Hamilton Middle School in Seattle. She is a SEA representative and was picket captain for her school during the strike. Eliza Rankin is a parent of a 1st grader in the Seattle Public Schools. She is a co-founder and active member of Soup for Teachers, a grass roots movement that supported educators during the SEA strike and will continue their mission by advocating for positive change across the Seattle school district.

Andy Russell is a 4th-grade teacher at Dearborn Park Elementary in Seattle. He served as a member of the SEA bargaining team, is a member of the SEA Board of Directors, and an active member of SEE.

Marian Wagner is a 4th-grade teacher at Salmon Bay K-8 in Seattle and an elementary district lead science teacher. She also served on the SEA bargaining team, is SEA director of Prof. Growth & Evaluation joint committee with SPS, and is a SEE supporter.

Roberta Lindeman – Moderator – Veteran teacher 30 years

Guest post: We need a shake-up at Seattle Public Schools


The recent storm of controversy created by the announcement of the Seattle Public Schools central office of plans to cut 25-28 teachers across the school district in late October, and well into the semester, required student classroom reshuffling and disruption and necessitated additional grade-split classes. It was another example of irresponsible management by the Seattle Public School district.  If Seattle expects to attract and retain a high caliber workforce and citizenry, our public school central management needs drastic improvement and Seattle parents are uniting to demand it.

What emerged in that controversy was a saga of the school district’s dodgy planning and data gathering, opaque process, blaming and excuses which resulted in more bad decisions that impact tens of thousands of students around the city.

WHERE’S THE DATA? While Seattle Public Schools (SPS) hatched and finalized its plans to cut teaching staff, they were unable to provide supporting enrollment data because “they are still working out those numbers” and relied on enrollment numbers that were not the most current.

BLAMING. Superintendent Nyland and his top staff blamed the severity of the cuts on the September teacher strike but could not point to any data to support their claims. They claimed similar cuts were happening around the state in October but when King 5 News reached out to other districts, only Kent reported making cuts in early September. 

VERY LOW BAR. Washington State has the dubious distinction of being 47th in the nation in class size, with only three states ranking worse. Planned cuts maintained these large classroom sizes thereby subverting Seattle voter’s mandate to reduce class sizes passed with Initiative 1351 in 2014. Research shows that smaller class size improves academic performance and helps close the opportunity gap.

WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE? At a Seattle School Board meeting in October, Director Carr said she felt it was improper “micromanagement” to interfere in SPS teacher cut decisions. However, the SPS website says: “It is the belief of the Board of Directors and Superintendent that they are partners in the governance team of Seattle Public Schools.”  Parents and voters wonder: Does the current school board manage the Superintendent or does the Superintendent manage the school board?

MONEY MYSTERIES.  SPS says there is no more money for schools yet central office spending continues to increase. Superintendent Nyland got a 5% raise and other perks in his recent contract renewal. The raise is retroactive to the date of his initial contract. Parents had written and called School Board members, asking them to defer the vote on extending Superintendent Nyland’s contract for another year to give the new Board an opportunity to vote. The School Board went ahead and committed Seattle families and educators to more of the same through mid 2018.

Sadly, for our “4th wealthiest city in the country, Seattle families and educators continue to struggle with health and safety concerns in our schools, issues that have been allowed to fester for years, thanks to SPS inaction.

Overcrowded classroom facilities rely on moldy 20 year-old “temporary portables” that present continued health and safety issues to students and educators. In some schools, classes are held in hallways and lunchrooms.

Transportation problems persist and will continue to be exacerbated by the ongoing three-tier start time system which include poorly planned and often dangerous rushed bus routes, late school arrivals that cause missed class time and overcrowded buses. At one school a bus driver simply refused to drive a bus that was overcrowded.

And if that isn’t enough, the SPS school experience can be truly hellish for our most vulnerable kids and students already feeling the opportunity gap squeeze.

SPS continues to shamefully rely on “PTA grant” income to balance their budget. Annual program budget shortfall “emergencies” have become the norm and now represent the sole or primary annual funding for many of the arts programs, libraries, nursing services, sports activities, professional development and other key educational, health, and safety programs rely on parents to pay for these necessities. Some schools even rely on parent donations for office and cleaning supplies. You have to pay to play.

Repeated SPS reliance on this system only increases the equity gap for schools in lower income areas.

Special education students continue to receive inadequate accommodations and support, and threatened cuts, may affect them worst of all. Teachers have been cut well into the school year, just as student’s ISP’s and student-teacher rapport were being solidified. I have heard stories from parents that support my own family “conference” experience in which parents are encouraged to wait before getting their dyslexic child involved in SPS testing in order to “avoid the stigma of having Special Ed”.  My child, who went on to have private services and is now in college, was a Rare Lucky One. Other kids grow up feeling judged, falling behind… is it any wonder we have kids growing up angry at the world?

Admittedly, many of these resource issues would be partially relieved if the Legislature would finally get around to doing their constitutionally mandated “Paramount Duty” to fund public education. However, SPS does have money now, millions in cash reserves and at least enough cash on hand to keep the central office staff growing.

SPS must reevaluate central office decision-making and address what parents perceive as their hollow promises of transparency. Many parents are clamoring for an audit of SPS central office. Students, parents, school staff and classroom educators are getting nickel and dimed and yet the district offers no plan to create austerity measures within district offices.

This year SPS parents have found their collective voice. We have discovered and united with thousands of other parents throughout the district who are like-minded, frustrated and very well-informed. We are organized, united and connected.

We will not stop until our district becomes accountable, transparent, and focused on putting the needs of every student in the district before those of central administration.

We look forward to seeing newly elected Board Members work with this new wave of activist parents to improve school administration in our city. 

The times they are a changin’.

Amy Hamblin

Parent of a Hamilton Middle School 6th grade student

Note: Hamilton is one school that is not facing cuts this year.

Amy Hamblin is a parent and a studio artist working in Seattle. She has worked in community mediation, and currently volunteers to support and advocate for Palliative Care.

An open letter to Superintendent Nyland: Save Middle College High School


Dear Dr. Nyland,

I am writing to you and other senior administrators today to express my support for Middle College High School (MCHS).  MCHS families received a letter from Principal Nash last week stating that staff members at the University of Washington site are being placed on paid administrative leave, with no further information. Personnel matters and privacy concerns aside, the message to parents was patronizing and unhelpful, with no indication as to how this action will affect their children. Seattle Public Schools students’ education and stability are at stake here. Is their school being quietly dismantled, following the unceremonious closure of the MCHS High Point site? That’s certainly the way it appears.

Diminishing or closing sites of Middle College High School amounts to turning your backs on the students who are most in need of a supportive and consistent learning environment. I wonder how you reconcile dismantling these successful schools with your own Policy No. 0030: Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity. This policy states that “We are focused on closing the opportunity gap and creating learning communities that provide support and academic enrichment programs for all students. Additionally, we believe that it is the right of every student to have an equitable educational experience within the Seattle Public School District,” and promises, “The district shall provide multiple pathways to success in order to meet the needs of the diverse student body, and shall actively encourage, support, and expect high academic achievement for all students.”

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) are meant to serve all students, even when it’s inconvenient. Middle College has been a life raft, a haven, for high-risk students who have struggled with a more traditional high school model. Middle College has been the place that steers students away from dropping out, towards engaging and excelling. It’s a second chance to complete requirements for a high school diploma and prepare for higher education. Small alternative schools like Middle College should be encouraged and expanded, if district administration is to fulfill their own motto: Every Student. Every Classroom. Every Day.

On the SPS website, Middle College High School’s mission is stated as “MCHS offers students equitable opportunities for learning in a supportive, collegial community providing different pathways to success.” Perfectly in line with the district’s own stated goals. Instead of closing and minimizing MCHS, you should be building upon and growing this successful model. Please don’t silently sweep these dedicated educators and their thriving students under the rug. Support Middle College High School. At the absolute minimum, please offer more support and transparency to the affected families than the terse letter they received from their principal two days before Thanksgiving break.


Liza Rankin, SPS Parent, Soup for Teachers Leadership Team

An open letter to the Seattle School Board: Rethink idea of a raise and contract extension for Superintendent Nyland

Thirteen Thousand Dollar Question

The following is an open letter from parent, Jill MacCorkle, to Seattle’s current and newly elected School Board Directors. At the November 18, 2015 School Board meeting, Directors will be voting on a raise and contract extension for Superintendent Nyland. Jill’s previous email to the board, which compares Superintendents’ compensation across the state, can be found here: letter to directors re Nyland raise.   -Carolyn Leith

Dear Directors and Directors-Elect,

I am writing again about the matter before the board of a raise and contract extension for the superintendent. Having gotten no response from any directors to my previous email, I am presenting again my argument against a raise in the attached letter. This contains some revisions from my previous email and is the version that I sent to the media, so if you haven’t read my previous email, feel free to skip it in favor of reading this updated version.

Since the time that I first wrote to the board and now, the superintendent has offered to donate half of the proposed raise back to the district. That was a poor choice of options; parents want a superintendent who is wholehearted, not halfhearted. According to a report on November 6 from KPLU on the State of the Union address given by Dr. Nyland, the superintendent has stated, “My raise is not going to solve any of the issues we have on the table. I’ve done better than anyone else and I will take the smallest raise in the district as far as I know.” First of all, saying that he has done better than anyone else is not exactly a glowing testimony to his work, since the bar for recent superintendents (save Susan Enfield) is so low. His claim that his raise is not going to solve any issues on the table demonstrates what parents and teachers know: that while the superintendent may have an understanding of the issues that are important in the downtown office, he is out of touch on the issues that are ongoing in our buildings and classrooms. There is not a single parent, teacher, or administrator in any of our schools who couldn’t think of a problem they could address with $13,803, the amount of his raise. $13,803 would buy 3000 reams of paper, 920 hardcover books, one month of ORCA cards for Rainier Beach High School students, 552 soccer jerseys, 276 children’s winter coats, 106 graphing calculators, or 500 rat traps for Rogers Elementary. I know that you know that these are the kinds of everyday items that teachers and parents currently pay for out of their own pockets in order to keep schools running and to combat inequity. I am sure the superintendent meant to show good will by offering half of any forthcoming raise back (for one fiscal year), but for parents and teachers, the gesture landed like a giant turd in the punch bowl.

In my original letter, I stated that I don’t object to the contract extension idea as long as both current AND incoming directors are in favor of it. If there is disagreement, I would hope the current board would defer the vote until the new board is installed, since they will be the board working with the superintendent going forward. With that in mind, I hope that you are taking into consideration the research that shows that it takes a minimum of five years under focused superintendent attention to make significant progress in a school district. Just to cite one source, from the 2004 OSPI document “Characteristics of Improved School Districts: Themes from Research” (emphasis added):

Research on improved districts finds that promising results come only after reform strategies have been implemented and sustained for a long time. The task of improving student learning is difficult; changing practice—which involves changing people’s minds about teaching and learning—requires steady and persistent work. Many districts in the case studies had been engaged in education reform for 10 years and longer. Kronley and Handley (2003) write that “sustaining reform is primarily a local endeavor that involves district persistence, local capacity, and adequate resources …” (p. 2). Firestone (1989) maintains that school and district staff “measure the seriousness of their task by the time that top leaders devote to it” (p. 158); thus, to sustain improvement, leaders need to keep in touch with the implementation work.

Togneri and Anderson (2003) report that the study districts were “committed to sustaining over the long haul…. They set their courses and stayed with them for years” (p. 8). McLaughlin and Talbert (2003) report that superintendents acknowledged that it took “almost ten years of planning for goal-driven, data-driven norms to be put in place” (p. 12). Researchers who investigated New York Community School District #2 report that the district had focused on literacy and its professional development approach for 10 years (DiAmico et al., 2001). Longevity of district leadership also contributes to continuity and sustained improvement efforts. In some improved districts, superintendents had served their districts at least eight years. In some districts the successor was selected with the view to maintain continuity of the reform efforts. In the districts in the Council of Great City Schools study, “political and organizational stability over a prolonged period” and “consensus on educational reform strategies” were seen as preconditions for reform to occur (Snipes et al., 2002, p. xvii).

Dr. Nyland has been in his position, first as interim and now as permanent superintendent, since August 2014, and under his current contract, would serve a total of three years with the district. With a one-year contract extension, he would serve a total of four years. Given he came out of retirement to be our interim superintendent, it seems unlikely he plans to remain beyond that. While I can appreciate the board’s desire for stability, adding one year to Dr. Nyland’s contract won’t even meet the minimum amount of tenure for making a firm, lasting difference as a superintendent. Also, his departure at that time would coincide with the end of the current strategic plan. It seems that we would be better served by finding a replacement for the superintendent before that time, so that our new superintendent would be engaged in developing the next strategic plan at the same time, ensuring some of that continuity we need to improve student achievement.

Thank you for your time,

Jill MacCorkle

Garfield High School Parent


End Note:

Teacher Retention Advocate Parents (T.R.A.P.) are collecting letters from parents which answer the Thirteen Thousand Dollar Question, which is: What problem could your school solve with $13,000?

For more information visit their Facebook page Thirteen Thousand Dollar Question.