SESEC’s letter to the SPS Board of Directors

February 20, 2024

Re: School Board Director Appointments for Districts 2 and 4

Dear Directors Rankin, Sarju, Briggs, Hersey, and Topp,

Our guiding values at Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC) are accountability, relationships, and racial justice. As a convenor of Southeast Seattle advocates, we mobilize towards the shared vision of a just educational ecosystem where all students flourish. We write in reference to the appointment of replacement School Board Directors for Districts 2 and 4.

In 2019, when District 7 underwent a similar process, SESEC informed community members of the process and supported the facilitation of a candidates’ forum. While District 2 and District 4 are outside our service area, we note that Directors, once appointed, will serve all students districtwide. We engage here in the interests of supporting this process for the greater benefit of all students in our district. 

We write to you with suggestions, considerations and reminders to help guide the appointment process. As you vet candidates, please ensure future board members:

  • Recognize that the job of a school board director is to provide direction via policy to the Superintendent based on the vision and values of the community for the education of its children, as derived from meaningful and authentic community engagement and outlined in the  current Seattle Excellence Strategic Plan; and, conversely, recognize that it is not the responsibility of a school board director to be involved in operational decision-making or policy implementation, which can blur lines of adult accountability and communication and lead to direct harm to the most vulnerable students.
  • Demonstrate strong and authentic commitment to Board Policy 0030: Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity, and to the goals of the Strategic Plan that center the success of students of color furthest from educational justice – multigenerational and immigrant Black students, Latinx students, and Native students – and the work so far undertaken to support it, including the African American Male Achievement initiative, the Early Literacy Improvement Network, and the Seattle Excellence Math Initiative. 
  • Display a strong grasp of the concept of targeted universalism that is at the foundation of the district’s strategic direction, and a commitment to a renewed Strategic Plan that continues to hold adults accountable for providing high-quality educational experiences that lead to successful outcomes for students of color furthest from educational justice. This must include a commitment to authentic engagement with these students and their families to identify specific drivers of system failure and to center their wisdom and expertise in formulating effective solutions. 
  • Undertake to support the continued progress monitoring of Strategic Plan goals that has begun to provide a much-needed measure of public accountability; but also, to appropriately apply the powers of the School Board to move beyond simple monitoring to requiring actual accountability for improving student outcomes on the part of all adult stakeholders. Our students cannot wait any longer for words to be turned into effective action.

We thank you for your service on behalf of the students of Seattle, and for your thoughtful attention to this process. 

In partnership, 

Southeast Seattle Education Coalition