Voters have two qualified candidates to choose from in the Seattle School Board District 1 race. For his policy experience, critical eye and analytical approach to persistent issues of equity and transparency, Eric Blumhagen has earned The Times editorial board’s endorsement.
Both Blumhagen and his opponent, Liza Rankin, are highly engaged parents with a broad volunteer leadership experience in school affairs.
Blumhagen has been legislative chairman for the Loyal Heights PTA and served on the board of Friends of Ingraham High School. He was a member of the district facilities advisory committee and high school boundaries task force.
In his long history of school involvement, some of Blumhagen’s most notable contributions have involved astute data analysis and interpretation. Blumhagen mined meaning from hard data to advocate for later bell times for middle and high school students, and in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the district from closing schools in 2008 — which, as he predicted, were needed only two years later. In his meeting with editorial board members, Blumhagen, a professional engineer, argued — rightly — that district data ought to be made public before decisions are made, not after the fact.
Blumhagen’s track record and experience lend credibility to his calls for greater transparency and accuracy in statistics and reporting from the district. His laser focus on outcomes would bring new urgency to issues of equity, including disproportionate discipline, and special-education services. He would promote greater accountability for principals, encouraging collaboration and sharing of best practices.
His opponent, Rankin, has served on the Wedgwood Elementary PTA and Seattle Council PTSA, as well as the district’s ethnic studies curriculum review and library equity teams. She has been a volunteer advocate for special education and stepped up to meet a variety of needs, marshaling resources and convening online and in-person discussions. She knows the district and clearly cares about safe, equitable and well-supported schools.
Rankin is an excellent candidate, but Blumhagen’s data-driven skill set would be a much-needed and valuable addition to the school board.