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So far the 37th Democratic Legislative District unanimously passed a resolution opposing the bill that would allow the mayor to appoint two members to the school board. The 36th District also passed a similar resolution unanimously along with the 34th Democratic Legislative District. The NAACP of Seattle wrote a letter to Representatives Pettigrew and Santos, who is the House Education Committee Chair, expressing their opposition to the bill and the Seattle League of Women Voters provided testimony opposing the bill.
The bill, House Bill 1497, is sponsored by Representative Eric Pettigrew of the Seattle’s 37th District. There’s more about him in my post House Rep. Eric Pettigrew, House Bill 1497, mayoral control and the money.
To follow are the resolutions:
Resolution Opposing Appointed Public School Board Members
WHEREAS Washington State Representative Eric Pettigrew (D) proposed House Bill 1497 which would allow some Public School Board members to be appointed by the mayor; and
WHEREAS a citizen’s right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy should not be dismantled or diminished at federal, state or local levels; and
WHEREAS if mayors were to appoint some Public School Board members there is no guarantee that such a political appointment would be based on an expertise in education or commitment to public education; and WHEREAS appointed Public School Board members are not accountable to the voting public and are under no obligation to respond to parent concerns, policies and practices; and
WHEREAS House Bill 1497 does not provide a mechanism to recall appointed Public School Board members or provide any other measure of accountability to the public; now Therefore
BE IT RESOLVED that the 32nd Legislative Democratic District Organization of Washington State oppose HB 1497, proposed by Representative Eric Pettigrew (D), that would allow mayors to appoint some Public School Board members;and
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge all Washington State legislators to reject HB 1497; and
THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 32nd LDDO send this resolution, upon its adoption, to all Washington State legislators.
And from the 34th District: Resolution to Oppose Appointed School Boards
WHEREAS Washington State Representative Eric Pettigrew (D) proposed House Bill 1497 which would allow for two out of seven school board directors—or approximately 30%—of Seattle’s Public School Board to be appointed by the mayor;
WHEREAS a citizen’s right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy and should not be dismantled at federal, state or local levels; and
WHEREAS “Most researchers agree on one negative consequence — when mayors take charge of public schools, the role of parents and the community, especially among minority groups, can be marginalized and can further compromise democratic control of schools” 1 ;and
WHEREAS there is no guarantee a political appointment will be based on an expertise in education or commitment to public education. Appointees may support a political agenda, are not accountable to the voting public and are under no obligation to respond to parent concerns, policies and practices; and
WHEREAS the City of Seattle does not have the capacity, jurisdiction or expertise to manage public education, given that it is grappling with the unresolved challenges of police reform, recrudescence of crime and gun violence, transportation (including the escalating costs and uncertain future of the Deep Bore Tunnel), homelessness, unaffordable housing and infrastructure to meet the needs of a rapidly growing city; and
WHEREAS the research indicates that partnerships between cities and school districts work better than mayoral appointments to the board (per Professor Tom Alsbury, Seattle Pacific University and
WHEREAS mayoral control in other cities in the nation have resulted in proliferation of charter schools and other highly controversial initiatives, which Seattle voters have rejected; and
WHEREAS mayoral control of education in other cities such as Chicago has become highly controversial, resulting in hundreds of citizens rallying to demand restoration of elected school boards. In Chicago, the opportunity gap has expanded since the school board was appointed. The number of appointed and mayoral controlled boards in urban cities have been in decline because they have not served citizens; and
WHEREAS House Bill 1497 does not provide a mechanism to recall appointed school board directors or provide any other measure of accountability to the public; and
WHEREAS mayoral control of education is a distraction from fully funding education via McCleary; and
WHEREAS former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch states: “Anyone who looks to mayoral control of urban schools as a panacea will be disappointed.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 34th Legislative 49 Democrats oppose and reject HB 1497 and any other proposals to appoint school board members; and
THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 34th Legislative Democrats send copies of this resolution to Mayor Murray, members of the Seattle City Council, our state legislative delegation, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and members of the Seattle School Board.
Submitted to the 34th Legislative District Democrats meeting of February 11, 2015 by
Cecilia McCormick (parent and public school activist and Martha Koester, Democratic
PCO, Sylvan Precinct
I would say the people have spoken.