MEMBERS of the Seattle School Board have been at unproductive odds, a fact that prompted members to label themselves as dysfunctional recently.
Two open board seats on the Aug. 6 ballot give voters a greater chance to change the dynamic.
Board President Kay Smith-Blum and board member Michael DeBell are not running for re-election.
The Seattle Times recommends Suzanne Dale Estey and Stephan Blanford.
In the 4th District, which includes Magnolia, Queen Anne and Ballard, Dale Estey distinguishes herself from the pack with a solid background in education advocacy and community development. Her focus would be raising academic performance, easing school overcrowding and repairing the district’s testy relationship with communities.
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A parent of two district students, Dale Estey offers sharp insight into education gained from volunteering weekly in her son’s classroom and from working with the Community Center for Education Results, which oversees the South Seattle and South King County school-improvement effort known as the Road Map Project.
Until last year, Dale Estey worked as economic-development director for the city of Renton. She has also worked for former King County Executive Ron Sims, former Gov. Gary Locke and former President Clinton. Dale Estey has been endorsed by state Sen. Ed Murray and state Rep. Reuven Carlyle as well as the 46th District Democrats.
Two other candidates in the race, Sue Peters, a public education advocate and blogger, and Dean McColgan, director of development at the Museum of Flight and former Federal Way councilman, share Dale Estey’s passion, but not her depth of experience.
In the 5th District, which covers the Central District, Blanford offers a background steeped in community and civic work on behalf of public schools. A parent of a district fifth-grader, Blanford holds master’s and doctorate degrees in education from the University of Washington.
Blanford’s knowledge of Seattle’s schools and communities are shaped by an impressive civic and professional résumé. He is a former Beacon Hill International School PTA officer and has worked in leadership positions at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, Alliance for Education and Seattle Rotary Boys & Girls Club.
Blanford wrote his dissertation on school districts that significantly reduced achievement and opportunity gaps while raising performance levels for all students. His informed perspective would be useful.
He is endorsed by the 37th District Democrats and by the executive directors of Latinos for Community Transformation, The Breakfast Group and Rainier Scholars.
Olu Thomas has strong ties to the Central District community, volunteering in early learning and leading an effort to turn a historic school into a community center. LaCrese Green is a tutor who wants better math curricula.
The current board admits it is dysfunctional. What’s needed are board members who can work in a coherent, unified manner. Dale Estey and Blanford have the smarts, the temperament and the dedication to do so.