Close the Achievement Gap
The promise of public education is to empower students to be successful in our global economy and to break free from inter-generational poverty. Yet in Seattle we are facing a crisis. Seattle Public Schools have the fifth WORST achievement/opportunity gap in the country. Low-income students (disproportionately students of color) are falling further behind grade-level, dropping out at higher rates, and experiencing unjust disciplinary disparities relative to students in wealthier neighborhoods. These trends run counter to our progressive values and are unacceptable—we cannot afford to tolerate this gross injustice any longer.
Reimagine Curriculum for the 21st Century
Washington students are next to LAST in the nation for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) training, even though the state is FIRST in the nation in STEM jobs. Our schools are long overdue for a re-examination of our curriculum. A robust STEM education is essential – but it is not enough. In the era of fake news and “alternative facts,” we must also equip our students to have critical media and research skills. And be able to articulate and exercise our rights and responsibilities as citizens in a democracy. And have a deep appreciation for the visual and performing arts. And understand our responsibilities to the environment, specifically our food and water sources. And practice physically and emotionally healthy life habits.
Teachers are critical to our children’s education, and yet underappreciated and under-supported. We expect them to be prepare content, teach students, connect with families, act as social workers and trauma specialists, advocate for communities, and serve as mentors. We should re-double our efforts as a district to partner with community-based organizations that already provide critical wrap-around services and leverage their good work to create the space for teachers to do what they do best: INSPIRE!
Too often parents report that their district, their schools, their principals, and their teachers are insensitive to the needs of their child. This lack of responsiveness is even worse for low-income families, immigrant families, and families for whom English is not their first language. We need meaningful spaces for engagement with all parents so that our schools effectively serve their needs.
Seattle Public Schools is an enormous institution with over $1 billion in annual revenue. Yet it is facing significant budget deficits. The State must fulfill its paramount duty to adequately fund public education now! Likewise, our district must fulfill its fiduciary duties to the taxpaying citizens. This requires having directors who are knowledgeable in the law and finance. As a business and tax lawyer at a large, local law firm, I have the practical skills to carry out that duty.
Maintain education as a PUBLIC right
We must resist Betsy DeVos-style privatization of the public sphere of education. I am opposed to religious and private school vouchers. I am opposed to for-profit charter schools that prioritize profit over people. I am opposed to Seattle Public Schools becoming a charter school authorizer. The role of the district is to STRENGTHEN our public institutions so that students from high-income and low-income communities return to and remain in the district.