I am interested in substance and policy. I am a personal banker at the teacher's credit union. I want to be your next Seattle School Board Director to hold the state accountable for their dereliction of duty to fund schools and to reduce the achievement gap.
Innovation & Ideas -- Homeless & Housing Unstable Students
Understanding that staffing and a budget will need to be allocated, allowing public school libraries and initiate a partnership request with the city to make public libraries accessible over-night to act as shelters for students to have a safe, quiet, and comfortable space where they can focus on their homework or studies without the burdens that come with housing instability.
City of Seattle Tax Collection Mandate
I will work with the school board to find substantial policies to hold Washington State legislators accountable for their failure to adequately fund public education for schools. The state legislators have agreed to be fined $100,000 per day by the US Department of Justice for being criminally in contempt of their court order to fund state schools. I will work with the school board to petition the new Seattle mayor to implement a tax collection system to collect sales and business & occupation taxes from within city limits and fully fund Seattle Public Schools before allocating tax revenue to the Washington State Department of Revenue. The state has shirked their responsibility--the bi-partisan $9 billion Boeing tax break hasn't prevented over 12,000 local jobs from being exported out of the region--also with Governor Jay Inslee's signature of approval--and there is no money to fully fund public state schools. I will work with the school board to convince them, as well as the mayor and city council, that the state has become derelict of duty. The state has abandoned its constitutional duty to our children to adequately educate them and because of this extraordinary negligence we require extraordinary measures to ensure Seattle Public Schools is properly funded and begins preparing for expanded growth of the district. The state has proven itself unwilling to responsibly fund our school system and the City of Seattle must bear the burden of tax collection on behalf of the state within our city limits to reach its obligation to fund Seattle Public Schools.
Furthermore, there is no plan to fund public schools put forward by the state legislature. The Democrats have a tax increase plan (remember Boeing received a $9B tax break) and the Republicans want to do a levy swap that will cost Seattle property owners more with no increase in services for Seattle kids. Neither of these options can be tolerated, which is ultimately why it falls upon the next city government to implement a tax collection system to fund our schools.
Full School Board of Director Meetings
The school board meets at 4:15-8:30 the first and third Wednesday each month. I will be petitioning to the board as an elected board member to move the first Wednesday meeting of each month to the first Saturday of the month to diversify opinions that people who cannot make it into a Wednesday evening meetings can give by coming in front of the school board on the weekend. There is no reason except for tradition that both meetings must occur on weekday evenings, which can be time inhibitive for parents or students to come to the meetings when they may be working, child rearing, after school activities, or stuck in traffic Wednesday afternoons. I believe a shift to one Saturday and one Wednesday meetings per month will expand opportunity and reduce barriers to community members that want to attend or speak at school board meetings.
Innovation & Ideas -- Special State Plates
As a member of the school board, I will request the Washington State Department of Licensing work with the community to create a statewide license plate that will support a person's local school district based on the address they license their vehicle. Currently, there are special license plates authorized by Washington State for the Department of Fish & Wildlife and Washington State Parks & Recreation. I am confident the school districts can successfully develop a special plate design to allow citizens to voluntarily support their local school district and subsequently Seattle Public Schools. The purpose of this idea is increase revenue for school districts by allowing private citizens to purchase the specialized license plates that would sent some of the proceeds of the purchase to your local school district.
Audit & Finance
Federal Point of View
It is important to begin looking at major ways for Seattle Public Schools to review and find ways to cut wasteful expenditures in order to best increase the value of the education of our students. The current political climate on the federal stage leaves the federal government paying approximately 9% of Seattle Public School's annual operating budget, and the school district should expect reductions in this under Secretary DeVos because I have no intentions on recognizing a department that delegitimizes public education by appointing a billionaire heiress who has never received a public education. The hostility I will bring to Secretary DeVos also extends to Vice-President Pence, who took an unprecedented step in breaking a dead-lock tie to support Secretary DeVos despite Republican defections in rural states that believe she would harm the public education system by siphoning money toward privately-run publically-operated charter schools. The current federal education budget includes a $13 billion cut to public education while simultaneously asking for a $160 million increase for US Department of Education salary dollars (including increased security personnel for Secretary DeVos).
Sec. DeVos is clear that budget reductions to our schools means we should be taking on more local responsibility for education--please review my platform for municipal tax collection.
State Point of View
Washington State's legislators have been held criminally contempt for their disobedience by the US Department of Justice for failure to fully fund education as dictated by Washington State Constitution's Article IX on Education that states in the Preamble: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex." This Preamble explicitly declares our state's duty to fund education is paramount, which is "of highest rank or importance" and that has clearly not been the case to Washington State lawmakers as they continue to drag their feet on fully funding education years after it was mandated by the federal government. While we rely heavily on the state funds, they have proven inadequate and unreliable and the Seattle Public School Board must make the state critically aware that we will not continue allowing them to shirk their responsibilities to our children.
City Point of View
The City of Seattle loves our kids and loves education. As a property owner, I happily support property tax increases to support public education. Unfortunately, it is inappropriate to believe property owners can continue funding an increasing portion of our education system while our federal and state partners continuously fail our students year after year. I want to join the school board to run through the annual budget with a fine-tooth comb and begin finding significant savings for the district. An example is my idea of auditing the number of students riding the bus halfway through the year to reduce the number of school buses on the road to more accurately reflect the needs of our students.
The Seattle School Board passed Resolution No. 2016/17-13 urging the Washington State Legislature to take immediate action to provide full funding for basic education. While I applaud the efforts of the school board, urging the state legislature will not be satisfactory to get the Democrats and Republicans in Olympia to act on behalf of Seattle children. While Boeing received a bipartisan $9 billion tax break and with no repercussions of their continued practice of exporting their manufacturing away from the Puget Sound to South Carolina and other plants, there is no money for public education. The egregious mistakes of the state legislature will require the school board to take action against the state, not simply urging them to do better. I will work with the board to begin conversation on actionable steps that we can do to bring down the full force of our school district onto the state--be it a public denouncement of all incumbents at the state level every year the school budget is not fully funded. The school district could hold the state accountable by maintaining a position of hostility to the standard and severe lack of funding--a resolution to petition the city council and mayor to withhold state sales tax in years the state legislature does not hold their promise to fully fund education and fund the Seattle school district with sales tax withheld from the state--as it is the paramount duty of the state to provide a basic education to all its students.
Seattle is a very expensive city and pay is very low for teachers. I am aware that the school coffers always run dry and they are impossible to replenish and we will most likely need to expect our students to perform better with less funding in the future from federal and state levels based on their defined and patterned behavior of drastically cutting funding for public education. Our teachers work near the poverty line and we owe it to our students and our teachers to find ways to prevent young, ambitious, and highly qualified teachers from leaving the classroom after a couple years because the pay is unbearably low and the city is exorbitant and often times teachers are still responsible for excessive student debt. We need to pay teachers more, and there is no other way around that. In order to increase the quality of their work--the students--we must keep teachers productive and happy and for far too long federal, state, and local governments across the country have taken their teachers for granted. We need our teachers to live in the community they teach in.
I would support exploring the idea of subsidizing rental housing specifically for educators in the communities they live in should they choose to be renters, and allowing teachers priority rights for affordable housing units in the communities they teach in.
Racial Inequity & Institutional Racism in Seattle Public Schools
While our school district is majority minority demographics, we have a glaring disparity within our schools gifted and advanced programs and general classrooms. This will require serious dedication to find legitimate and substantial progress, but I will immediately petition the school board to stop allowing students to go into these programs through an appeals process that allows students that didn't score high enough on the school district test to obtain private testing from psychologists up at personal expense of up to $1,200—which is simply unaffordable for many of our cities families.
Seattle School District has tried to reduce this gap by allowing second grade testing for gifted students beyond the initial kindergarten testing, however the test is only available to be taken on Saturdays and by not holding these tests during school hours when students are actually in school, the school district intrinsically discourages students who come from families that have work or other obligations on Saturdays. It is not fair to the second grade students to have a second chance opportunity to get into a gifted program to make the test on Saturdays. A practical and quick solution would be making the second-grade test available to all second-graders (not selective schools, such as is the case now) during the school day, and simplifying the testing process.
The biggest lift we will have is looking at ways to increase the success of all of our students instead of allowing ambitious parents to get their children into gifted programs, which are overwhelmingly white, or pay to have them get into the program through the private appeals process, and instead of testing six year olds, we should be developing bilingual K-5 elementary schools, allowing elementary teachers to stay with their pupils through their elementary career so they can deeply learn how to teach each students, and track students through middle and high school not by a test they took when they were young children, but attend schools based on their bilingual track. Our current system of testing instills institutional racism within Seattle Public Schools, and we must be courageous enough to actually act toward a reduction of inequality in our school system. While I believe fast fixes would be testing during school days and not on Saturdays and immediately eliminating the appeals process, ultimately we have much more complicated work ahead of us.
Innovation & Ideas -- Mandatory Bilingualism
Millions of school children across the globe learn English and an additional language. In the United States, our lingua franca is English, but that does not mean we shouldn't be encouraging all of our youth to develop deep ties to an additional language. In our diversity and our celebration of different cultures, and in a school district that proudly speaks over 100 languages, we should be looking to increase the baseline quality of our education (Seattle leads the nation with an average of 3.5 years of educational learning difference between white and non-white students because these mostly white gifted programs isolate specific kids and provide advanced curriculum--I simply advocate for bringing an advanced curriculum for all students as a baseline, not just isolated gifted programs) and allow students to attend schools based on their preference for secondary language. I will begin the conversation with the school district and the public to look into development of a K-12 school system that is an immersive dual language program, which allows students to learn a language far more intimately than beginning a second language in high school. We should be looking at dual language programs including but not limited to Spanish, French, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Amharic, Somali, Russian, German, Hindi, Korean and Lushootseed where parents can either select a specific track for their students in kindergarten or they'll develop a language proficiency based on the closest language offered to them by their registered address with the school district.
The City of Seattle currently provides ORCA cards to high school students that live within 2 miles of schools. The school district spends an obscene amount of money on pupil transportation, and the "Transportation Supervision Department" budgets over twice the amount the supervision departments for food services and maintenance operations receive. As a school board director, I will work with the school board to petition the city to give ORCA cards to all students (that want them) starting in middle school (grades 6-12). This will simultaneously reduce the burden on the school transportation budget and encourage the Seattle youth to be active participants in public transportation. Additionally, this request will also include ORCA card requests for all school employees (that want them). We will ask for the ORCA cards knowing full well the city must bear the burden of the cost because the school district has absolutely no money (even with transportation savings) to spare and we must ask the city to bear this burden.
Curriculum & Instruction Policy
As an educated populace, I believe the City of Seattle holds firm in our beliefs of knowledge and opportunity and our desire to support our students the best ways we can. As a graduate of public schools, I'm familiar with inefficiencies in teaching that leaves students with a tremendous amount of busy work and less time for authentic learning because they're busy checking off boxes and memorizing terms and phrases for tests. I want to work with the city to reorganize the curriculum to make it more useful for students by increasing the amount of STEM courses, readying our students for fields that are increasingly technical. For example, why do we still teach cursive and why don't we teach basic coding to all of our students to show them opportunities that can be cultivated here within our city--one of the biggest tech centers in the world?
I also believe in the importance of decolonizing the curriculum by teaching a more honest and fair representation of world and US history and will work with the school board toward this policy update.
No one is going to fundamentally change our curriculum for the better without some heavy lifting. Otherwise, we will continue relying on failed federal programs and severely underfunded budgets to continuously disservice our students. I will work with the school board to seek the advice of international schools to find best practices: Finland & Sweden have some of the happiest teachers and students, Germany & Ukraine have some of the best educated mechanical and engineering students, Australia & Norway are ranked as two of the best countries for education on the Index Scale developed by the United Nations, and many more countries could become invaluable resources on simple changes the Seattle Public Schools could implement to revolutionize our public school system and actually make us a world class education system. The Finnish school system doesn't teach 6-7 classes a day, but 3-4 every other day and they are able to go more in depth with their lessons. They also have elementary teachers stay with their kids through their entire elementary career, which allows teachers to personalize and adapt their teaching styles to their pupils learning styles because over seven years the teacher would know the students very well. Our school board should be openly having these discussions, above and beyond saying "no" to mandated standardized testing.
I openly question the Seattle Public Schools policy of allowing students to test into the Highly Capable Cohort at age 6--which is six years before Swedish students ever take a test, and compared to Finland's lack of high-stakes testing is truly questionable. Through my public school career, I took as many courses as I could that were honors, advanced, and Advanced Placement courses, and I am incredulous Seattle Public Schools begin to "write-off" children as young as six by separating "the smart kids" from everyone else. At age six, there are no smart kids, there are only kids--it's important for us to identify the achievement gap and find meaningful ways to reduce it. This pathway includes significant reduction in high stakes tests, especially in K-8; increasing highly performing programs like International Baccalaureate programs to all public schools; expansion of the IBX program at Ingraham High School to other high schools; work toward a year-round school system that will prevent summertime "brain drain" in students whose families cannot afford to put them through extracurricular activities and modernize our archaic school system that traditionally gave students time off to work in their fields; fully integrate dual-language immersion programs K-12 and allow students to select schools based on their second language rather than their Highly Capable Cohort or testing status; allow elementary school teachers to stay with their pupils K-5 so teachers take complete ownership over their cohort's foundational education and cannot "pass the buck" to the next teacher to receive students they haven't learned how to teach yet; and vocally oppose the redistribution of public school funds to privately-run charter schools.
State law gives school boards overwhelming power and authority over the school districts, and there have been attempts to legalize mayoral takeover of school districts to have appointed school board members. I disagree with this approach--I firmly believe the school board should be elected members of the community. That said, I believe the school board has too much responsibility for some general operations that would be better handled at the school-specific level. For example, all teacher hires must be approved by the school board, which is a fantastic thing to do but not the most efficient use of the school board's limited time. I will recommend allocating more power to individual schools to set offers of employment and pay packages within guidelines set by the school board, so schools can act more swiftly and appropriately based on the needs of their specific communities. The school board has tremendous power granted by the state, but we must be mindful of giving up some sections of power to mutually benefit the schools by allowing them increased autonomy in some decisions and by taking those decisions off the plates of the school board--which already has significant responsibility with facilities, operations, curriculum policies, and much more.
Innovation & Ideas -- Year-Round Schooling
A proven way to reduce the achievement gap is to go to a year-round school system to prevent teacher and student burnout by having more frequent breaks throughout the year. Also, more frequent breaks throughout the year without a summer break will reduce the achievement gap because students who come from families that cannot or will not pay for extracurriculars over the summer are susceptible to "brain drain" and falling behind even further compared to families who keep their children challenged or intrigued over the summer break. The summer break can be mentally devastating for students who don't really have any other options but going home and watching television or going on the Internet and cannot be involved in active and engaged learning. Year round schooling also provides year round structure to students. Another way the year-round school system decreases the achievement gap is by keeping in mind families in Seattle that cannot afford to take their entire families on vacation during peak summertime vacation prices--but what if there were opportunities to take your family on vacation during off-peak seasons because the kids have an extended break--increasing the reach for more families to build memories of vacations and increase their world views by traveling.
Ultimately, our system will demand a year-round school system for the betterment of our education and a reduction in the achievement gap. I hope to gain support quickly for this platform idea in order to implement it swiftly.