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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

February 3, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Olympia watch: Shake-ups proposed for Seattle schools

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Two proposals from Seattle-area lawmakers this session would shake up the way Seattle Public Schools does business, and Seattle school district leaders oppose them both.

The first, a bill to allow Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to appoint two of the Seattle School Board’s seven members, is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Education Committee at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The other, a proposal to split Seattle Public Schools and its 52,000 students into two school districts, was introduced in the House on Friday.

In a news release, Seattle school district leaders said that, despite what the bill’s sponsors claim, Seattle Public Schools is not failing its students. In fact, they said, state test results show Seattle students lead the state in most tested areas.

Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, sponsored the bill to allow Seattle’s mayor to appoint two of the seven Seattle School Board members, and was one of the lawmakers saying the district fails students. All seven board members now are elected. Pettigrew’s bill would technically apply to school districts in any city of more than 400,000 people, but only Seattle falls into that category.

“Our students should not be victim to the politics and turbulence of those in charge,” Pettigrew said in a release. “I hope that with more continuity in the administration, fewer children, especially at-risk children, will continue to slip through the cracks.”

Seattle school leaders said Pettigrew’s bill would diminish citizens’ right to vote, and argued that appointed school boards in other states have not proved to reduce board conflict or increase stability. And they said that dividing the school district in half would increase costs to taxpayers and further segregate north and south Seattle.

You can watch the public hearing on Pettigrew’s idea starting at 1:30 p.m. here.

In other education news, some lawmakers introduced a bill Monday to require school districts to use student test scores as a factor in evaluating how well teachers do their jobs. The bill will likely be controversial; last year, Washington became the first state to lose its waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law because lawmakers here refused to do that, wanting to leave that decision up to each district.

Comments | More in News | Topics: Ed Murray, Olympia Watch, Seattle Public Schools

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