Vote Mack, Helmstetter, and Patu for Seattle School Board

These candidates have the outlook and experience that will make Seattle schools better.

Seattle School District 1 – Director District 4

Eden Mack A co-founder of Paramount Duty, which lobbies the state legislature to adequately fund public education per the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling, Eden Mack has racked up a slew of endorsements from local Democratic organizations and elected officials, as well as from Lyon Terry (2015 state Teacher of the Year). Just as important, Mack’s competitors are wanting. To describe just a few: One supports charter schools, another is literally worried about busing her children across the railroad tracks, and a third uses the phrase “LGBT lifestyle choice” on his campaign website. We’d prefer to endorse a candidate who’s more aggressive and specific than Mack has been on racial equity in Seattle’s schools. Still, Mack is the clear choice here.

Seattle School District 1 – Director District 5

André Helmstetter A Central District resident since the 1990s, André Helmstetter used to run a cafe where Broadcast Coffee now sits. He’s seen the process of gentrification worm its way through our city as only old-timers can. A black man in a blanching city, Helmstetter takes a historical approach to understanding the causes of Seattle schools’ appalling racial achievement gap today. Now a policy consultant, the Navy veteran has been involved in the PTA as a parent of two students, and he worked with teacher Jesse Hagopian (now famous for being randomly pepper-sprayed by Seattle’s Finest) in 2009 to oppose the closure of Seattle schools by the School Board.

Seattle School District 1 – Director District 7

Betty Patu If re-elected, Betty Patu would be the longest-serving member on the Seattle School Board. And in this case, we believe that’s a very good thing. Her emphasis on racial equity, consideration of her constituents’ concerns, and deftness at navigating the controversial (and at times very tedious) waters of public education policy are indispensable assets, burnished by her deep understanding of what it actually feels like to teach inside Seattle schools. Prior to serving on the Board, Patu worked in Seattle Public Schools for 32 years, directing award-winning programs that helped increase graduation rates and reduce violence while winning half a dozen awards herself. Plus, her opponents in this race don’t pass muster: Chelsea Byers’ only teaching experience is two years with Teach for America, and she has spent most of her career working for private education-technology companies, not schools. And Tony Hemphill’s background as a father with children who attend Seattle public schools doesn’t uniquely qualify him for the office, either.

Read the rest of our endorsements here. Primary ballots will be mailed Wednesday, July 12. Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, August 1. Wondering where your ballot is? Check the county’s Ballot Tracker.

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