Appreciation, reflections, looking forward

Hello all,

Thank you so much to all who offered support and encouragement during and after my re-election campaign. No denying, this was a crushing defeat. It’s some comfort that 33,000+ voters believe my collaborative style has been effective in moving the Board and the district ahead. (And by the way, political campaigns are waaaaay too long in our part of the world!!!)

The last months have seen a perfect storm of events to turn popular opinion against Seattle Schools’ leadership.  We could have done so much better in connecting with teachers and parents — I still haven’t figured out how to work it so that SPS leadership, teachers, and families are in dialogue LONG BEFORE the decision points. Logistically, it’s a very challenging problem.  Will keep noodling on that one; I know SPS staff leaders are grappling to understand and absorb many “Lessons Learned” recently.

Hopefully, our new School Board Directors will embrace their steep learning challenge with great energy.  Coming onto the Board is truly like drinking from a fire hose. I’m encouraged that Leslie Harris and Rick Burke have been showing up at Work Sessions and Committees of the Whole for weeks, and are making a good start at getting up to speed on Seattle Public Schools’ governance.  I trust that Jill Geary and Scott Pinkham will be diving in as enthusiastically.

Seattle voters are demanding change, change that involves authentic partnering of the community with the leaders of our district.  This is a critical moment in Seattle Public Schools; we have strong, able, visionary leaders in Central Office; despite lack of good communication early in recent processes, important advances are underway.  Will the new Board choose to work with district leaders to correct our process weaknesses and establish true partnerships with our teaching corps and our parents? That could lead to far-reaching improvement and stability.

Looking ahead for myself, I will enjoy tutoring regularly in Sanislo Elementary’s outstanding Reading Partners program (FYI, Reading Partners is also underway at Highland Park), and starting on my list of deferred projects.  It will also be a joy to get back to dancing and other pleasures and hobbies. I do hope to continue to be active in our south end neighborhoods, promoting dialogue on the topics of race, gentrification, and segregation in our schools, and also supporting family and community engagement with Seattle Public Schools.

It’s been a fantastic privilege to be at the center of Seattle’s education community and to be part of the extraordinary network of people throughout the district, the city, and the region, who are so powerfully committed to creating a better future for our students.

Warm regards,

Marty McLaren