Peter Maier –
Incumbent Peter Maier is running for another four years in office under the moniker, “the leadership we deserve!” Maier, an attorney, attended Seattle Public Schools and later worked on levy and bond campaigns while helping to lead Ballard High School’s PTSA.
“We need to provide the education that our students need and deserve all across the city,” said Maier. He described his strengths in public policy, community involvement and education in law with a small amount of training in public finance.
“My endorsements include many former and present PTA presidents,” said Maier. “As well as a number of local civic leaders, state legislators, [Seattle] city council members and The Seattle Times.”
John Cummings –
John Cummings is a former special education teacher running for “real changes” to “restore trust” in the school board. The district fired Cummings in 2010, he says, because he was not “highly qualified” to teach math, a subject he taught after the program in his school was disbanded. Cummings, originally from New Jersey, has two young children who attend Seattle Public Schools.
“Unions, teachers and activist groups have been really caught off guard by this assault on education,” Cummings said of the current board’s policies. “A top-down culture permeates the district. … I’m someone who knows what works and what does not work inside the classroom—nobody is speaking for teachers, marginalized and at-risk kids—that’s my background and knowledge.”
Sharon Peaslee –
Sharon Peaslee is an education activist who worked on education issues at the state level as well as in the Lake Washington and Bellevue school districts over the past six years. Although a newcomer to Seattle, only living in the district for one year, she has a track record as an education activist: pushing for improved math standards at the state level, advancing Bellevue’s homeschooling policies, and helping maintain the online petition to rehire Martin Floe at Ingraham High School. Peaslee has a master’s in education and two teaching credentials as well.
“The district is in crisis mode, there’s just one crisis after another. Because of this, the primary job of the district, which is to meet the learning needs of all students, is not being addressed,” Peaslee said.
“We need to develop programs that aim to develop students,” she said. “Thirty percent of our students are dropping out, 50 percent are failing standardized tests—we don’t just want to be remediating students, we need them to be engaged all the way through high school, we need programs that meet their long-term educational goals.”
Sherry Carr –
Sherry Carr, a finance executive at Boeing, is running for re-election as the School Director for district two. Previously, she was the president of the Seattle Council PTSA and Daniel Bagley Elementary School’s PTA. She also worked on the 2007 “Schools First” levy campaign. Her daughters have both attended public schools; the eldest graduated in June.
Carr points to a variety of tough decisions over the past four years as evidence of her success on the board, including balancing Seattle Public Schools’ budget in an economic recession, implementing the neighborhood-based student assignment plan as well as individual school reports.
Jack Whelan –
Jack Whelan, a lecturer for the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, is running for Seattle School Board on an “anti-” platform.
“I’m running against No Child Left Behind and all of its unintended consequences, against this privatized reform agenda, Maria Goodloe-Johnson and her staff appointments, Teach For America, charter schools, and corporate-style top-down management styles that come with that agenda.”
Whelan says the key for the board this next term is to be fiscally responsible as well as responsible in decision making about closing schools and curriculum, among other things.
“Harium [Martin-Morris] I think is the only teacher on the board,” he said. “I understand what education is and what happens in classrooms. Right now, the people furthest from the decision making have all of the power – people know best what they need in their communities.”
Kate Martin –
“Kate does her homework,” is the slogan of Kate Martin’s campaign. She’s a community leader and organizer from the Phinney Ridge/Greenwood area running for school board after her neighbors asked her to run.
“All of the focus is always on the John Stanford Center and those issues,” she said of the district’s headquarters just south of downtown Seattle. “But the real focus should be on the more than 90 schools, the over 40,000 students and their parents. [The administration] should be invisible, we need to see a change in culture.”
Martin, a parent of two students she sent through Seattle Public Schools, thinks that families should be more involved with what’s going on in schools. She said that there are no parent teacher conferences in the middle or high school levels.
“We spend money on the most and least prepared students,” Martin said. “School is for everyone, we have our highest achievers shoot for the stars, but we should have everyone else shoot for what their stars are as well … not everybody is destined for a four-year college.”
Mark T. Weber –
Mark T. Weber did not respond to requests by the Examiner for an interview. Weber, an entrepreneur, is the creator of Weber Design & Construction and briefly owned two espresso shops. According to his website, he recently completed his master’s degree in education and taught entrepreneurship to youth for a non-profit organization.
The 10-year plan listed on his website calls for improving pre-school programs to help overcome socio-economic disadvantages that some children face coming to school for the first time. He then writes that Seattle Public Schools should increase the quality of its teachers by comparing them with their Australian counterparts. Finally, he pairs the first two goals with targets for proper textbooks, state-of-the-art technology and class sizes.
For more information about Weber or his platform, visit his website listed below.
Harium Martin-Morris –
Harium Martin-Morris is campaigning for re-election after four years on the Seattle School Board. He is the only former classroom teacher on the current board and has had two kids go through K-12 in Seattle Public Schools.
“I want to continue on with what I believe is the solid work that we have laid the foundation for in the last four years and wanting to see that through. … I want to continue to serve the students of Seattle.”
His big issues for the current election boil down to three points.
“[One] is we’ve got to continue the work we have. I think that in education it’s common to try something for a year or two years, we never give some [ideas] a chance to really ferment, if you will,” he said. “[Two], we’ve got to really make sure that every school, every classroom is a quality place regardless of where children live in the city of Seattle. We have some great schools and great teachers, and don’t get me wrong, but we are not consistent across the entire system. [Three], I’d like to really press the state to fulfill their obligation to fully fund education like they are supposed to.”
David Blomstrom –
David Blomstrom did not respond to requests by the Examiner for an interview. Blomstrom is a perennial candidate, running for a variety of local positions since the 1990s. His campaign website is tied to another website which he operates and runs, www.seattle-mafia.org. His excerpt in the voter’s pamphlet includes everything from Bill Gates and genetically modified food, revolution, “Demopublicans” and “Iraqistan.”
His website repeatedly uses expletives and calls for both Presidents Obama and Bush to be put on a hit list. For more information about Blomstrom, who repeatedly denies requests for interviews from area news outlets, visit his self-maintained website listed below.
Michelle Buetow –
Michelle Buetow did not respond to requests by the Examiner for an interview. Buetow is a volunteer at her two children’s elementary school, as well as an Eastlake community council representative to that same school. Before her work in the community, Buetow was a high-tech international marketing executive, according to her website.
In the voter’s pamphlet Buetow highlights her positive qualities with “new energy,” “an independent voice,” and ensuring that “every school is a quality school” through a “broad base of support.” More information about Buetow can be found at her campaign website listed below.
John Dunn –
John Dunn did not respond to requests by the Examiner for an interview. Dunn began his teaching career in Seattle in 1964 and has been teaching ever since. He is a former president of the Seattle Education Association.
On his website, Dunn expresses frustration with the current board and their policies regarding the superintendent.
“[The board] has been beholden (to) a superintendent who is a product of the corporate culture of the Broad Foundation,” he wrote.
He offers guidelines on how he will make decisions if elected, including research, public testimony, comparing to other districts and deliberating on the impact the policy in question might have.
In the voter’s pamphlet, he describes his plans for closing Seattle’s achievement gap.
“The challenge for a humane system of public education is to meet each child where she is and to bring her along to her maximum potential. This is what will bring down the dropout rate and close the achievement gap,” he wrote.
For more information visit his website listed below.
Steve Sundquist –
Incumbent Steve Sundquist is running for re-election on a platform of sustained leadership and experience with a track record. He has two daughters who attended Seattle Public Schools.
“We’ve passed this new teachers and principals contract,” said Sundquist. “Implementing that is key. It’s based on how well students are growing under teachers’ and principals’ care. It’s a new tool that will take getting used to.”
Sundquist also wants to strengthen Seattle Public Schools’ relations with third parties who come in with intent to help.
“Our interests are not always well aligned with outside groups, we have a chance to strengthen that relation for the benefit of our schools.”
Sundquist, on the board’s finance committee, helped the district to balance its budget despite a hard-hitting economic recession.
“We made some tough decisions, but ultimately we kept resources focused on the classroom where they make the biggest difference,” he said.
Marty McLaren –
Marty McLaren is a former middle school math teacher running for school board in West Seattle.
“I know what goes on in building, I have a very clear understanding of the energy, the vitality, the needs, the incredible challenges in each building, how hard the teachers work and how many obstacles the students and teachers face,” said McLaren. “I am running to be the voice of the school community, the voice of reason and common sense.”
Like many challengers in this year’s race, McLaren views the current school board as a perpetrator of “top-down” and “corporate” policies.
“I believe the biggest issue right now is reconstituting district management to give more autonomy to principals … the principals, teachers and communities need to have control of the resources so that they can regain their vibrancy as centers of the community,” she said. “The schools are constantly being bombarded by textbook changes, edicts, all sorts of demands and ‘trauma’ from downtown—obviously downtown [the administration] needs to be orchestrating a lot, but they should do it in a supportive role rather than in a corporate ‘top-down’ model.”
McLaren said she feels energized about her race and the impact she could have on her local community.
“It’s just tremendously important that the community regains its connection with what goes on in the schools—that’s what makes a strong community, a strong city and a strong region. People are just starting to see how important school board governance is.”
Joy Anderson –
Joy Anderson is a community activist running for Seattle School board in the West Seattle area. She became motivated to run after her young daughter’s school was shut down.
“My daughter has attended three schools,” said Anderson. “But we’ve always lived in the same house.”
As for the issues, Anderson says that the administration is out of touch with the needs of students.
“[The district] looked at trying to improve schools instead of trying to improve children. The board decided big business was better than having normal social activists on the board.”
She criticized her incumbent and other school board incumbents in the election over campaign finances. She believes that her incumbent opponent, Steve Sundquist, has spent $110,00 running for an unpaid job.
“You used to be able to run on about $5,000. I don’t believe in privatizing schools like that,” she said.
Anderson also criticized the current board for their spending habits and neglectful decision making.
“They hire way too many consultants; they’re really top heavy in administration,” she said. “They had to pass this levy just so children could have textbooks; now we’re probably not going to be able to buy textbooks despite the levy being passed.”
Because of capacity issues, kids do not have enough time to stand in line and get food at lunch. “They aren’t going to extend the school day by 10 minutes more so these kids can have enough time to eat, either, but it’s all because their school is overcrowded,” said Anderson.
Nick Esparza –
“I think the Seattle School Board needs a new direction, a willingness to ask tough questions and deal with our difficulties—school closures, capacity issues and kids not learning,” said Nick Esparza, a candidate for Seattle School Board in District 6, West Seattle.
“I am involved in my community and willing to actually go out and listen to what the community is talking about. I think that one of the largest problems in this race is that people are only focusing on one issue—we can’t focus on math only. I’ve knocked on well over 300 doors and families aren’t just talking about that.”
Like many challengers this election season, Esparza is taking an anti-establishment approach to his campaign for administration.
“It’s estimated that we spend $50 million downtown,” said Esparza. “They will say that they cut 90 jobs, and then we repurposed those jobs, a net savings of very little … students aren’t educated downtown, they’re educated in classrooms and they need teacher in classrooms to teach them, they need counselors in schools to help them and support the teaching staff.”