Voters should retire Betty Patu from the Seattle school board and replace her with Chelsea Byers.

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Chelsea Byers, former classroom teacher and current administrator for an adult education program, is the best candidate for school board in District 7.

The Times recommends:


Chelsea Byers

CANDIDATE

Seattle school board District 7

Strengths: Sharp financial knowledge, new ideas to push the district beyond its budget problems and lack of progress in closing the achievement gap, experience teaching in an inner-city school district.

When the next school board hires a superintendent, Byers said she would look for someone focused on research-backed strategies for closing the achievement gap and with experience moving the needle for struggling kids."

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Voters should elect Byers over incumbent Betty Patu.

Patu has given eight years on the board, and years before that was a district employee. But incumbency is not the best reason to re-elect someone. If anything, an incumbent should face a higher bar.

Facing a financial crisis, the board needs members with sharp financial knowledge and new ideas to push the district beyond its budget problems and lack of progress in closing the achievement gap.

During Patu’s tenure, the district developed a $74 million budget deficit. In an interview, she was hard-pressed to explain in cogent terms how it happened or what to do about it.

Patu has also made concerning votes against programs designed to help the children she represents, including votes against participating in the city’s new preschool program and a program designed to help African-American boys.

Byers has the right approach:

“While I agree with a lot of the values being expressed by the current board, I think we need different leadership to be able to put the policies in place to get us there,” she said.

When the next school board hires a superintendent, Byers said she would look for someone focused on research-backed strategies for closing the achievement gap and with experience moving the needle for struggling kids. She has a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, has taught math in an inner-city school in Oakland, Calif., has some new ideas about using science and technology, or STEM, education to prepare more students for the jobs of the future.

Byers should be elected to Position 7.