I first met Sue Peters at a gathering of the newly formed ESP Vision—Educators, Students, and Parents for a Better Vision of the Seattle Schools. When the investment banks and insurance companies sabotaged the global economy in 2008, we were told there wasn’t enough money to keep our schools open. Sue Peters didn’t believe it, and she was one of the lead activists who helped organize all of the schools slated for closure in a united effort to stop the school closures. Sue Peters argued then that the school closures were folly as the projections showed increases in school aged population in the very neighborhoods with schools slated for closure. She pointed out that the schools slated for closures served a population that was a majority students of color. And she pointed out that closing schools and then reopening them later will drain millions of dollars from the school district budget. While we were able to remove several schools from the list, in the end they went through with closing 5 schools.
Sue Peters’ opposition to the closures has since been vindicated. The District is scrambling to deal with over-enrollment, the Department of Education is investigating the Seattle Public Schools for disproportionate discipline and the 2008 school closures that targeted schools serving predominantly students of color, and it is now widely acknowledged that school closings were disruptive and a disastrous policy in Seattle.
Since that time, I have seen Sue become one of the most articulate and inspiring spokespeople for public education in the city of Seattle. Her article, “15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP® Test—ASAP” provided teachers at Garfield the research they needed to organize and refuse to give the test. Her co-founding of the Parents Across America chapter in Seattle has proven an invaluable voice in the public education debate in our region. Her service on two Seattle School District task-forces helped produce a much improved strategic vision for the goals of the Seattle Public Schools. Sue Peters has a clear record of being a voice for all of us teachers, parents and students in Seattle in the struggle against corporate education reformers.
Whoever wins in the School Board race between Sue Peters and Suzanne Dale Estey will have a big impact on public education in the region. And this race also has national implications for parents, students, and teachers around the country who are organizing to stop the corporate reform agenda of our public schools. As Diane Ravitch wrote on her blog,
“Suzanne Dale Estey, has raised over $100,000, plus an independent PAC has raised more than another $100,000 for Estey. That means that Sue Peters is outspent about 7-1. Estey has raised more money for her contest than any school board race in the state’s history. Read the list of Estey’s contributors: it is the same handful of wealthy entrepreneurs who have been pouring big money into election after election in Seattle and in the state of Washington, to promote charters, test-based evaluation, Teach for America, and other failed policies. Few, if any, of Estey’s donors have children in the Seattle public schools.”
This election is about big money versus big ideas and the outcome will reverberate around the nation. If Dales Estey wins it will further embolden billionaires to take the position that money equals free speech, and they will step up their efforts to buy school board elections from sea to shining sea. It’s time to show the power of our grass-roots education movement to defeat their money.
Voters have their ballots. Cast yours today for Sue Peters and educational justice.
For more information, go to: http://suepeters4schoolboard.org/