Teacher walkout; Community meeting Monday, June 1

Happy long weekend, all.

The walkout

I’m sorry for the inconvenience caused by the Tuesday teachers’ strike, but I was very thankful and proud that our teachers were willing to publicly challenge the Legislature to fully fund education. The Times’ Tuesday editorial missed the purpose of the action, in my opinion, and I was pleased that the paper published my response yesterday. My letter to the editor is below.

Community meeting

Monday, June 1, 6:00 to 7:45 p.m., Southwest Library: Please attend my last Community Meeting of the school year. As you know from joining the meetings in the past, these gatherings are opportunities to actually have conversations about the issues that concern parents. Testifying before the full Board is important and appreciated, but to think together, we need to come together in community.

Parents are welcome at Board Committee meetings

I also want to remind you that all posted Board meetings, except those marked “Executive Session,” are open public meetings, and you are welcome to attend. Staff of the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee, of which I am a member, has been steadily improving in timely publishing of the Committee agenda and documents (usually the Friday prior to the Monday meeting). On the page below, scroll down if you can’t see the links to the agendas:

Seattle School Board: Board meeting agendas


Letter to the Editor

Editor, the Times:

I am deeply saddened by the Times’ inability to grasp why our Seattle teachers are on strike today. The Times completely fails to acknowledge the deprivation and inequity that exists within our schools.

Teachers from throughout the district are in solidarity because they can’t obtain substitutes to attend Professional Development. Teachers from schools that can offer over 50 electives are in solidarity with teachers whose schools can only offer 25. Teachers from schools with well-endowed Special Education classrooms are standing with those whose classrooms are bare, and with those who spend thousands of their own dollars to furnish basic equipment and resources. Teachers from every school are together in questioning the explosion in standardized testing that robs students of learning time.

As a state, we are not supporting all of our students fairly with the arts, highly stimulating academic offerings, resources, interventions, and inspirational opportunities that many students do receive.

The Times has recently done some excellent reporting of outstanding programs and teaching in our region. I hope this newspaper will look carefully at the outrageous inequity that stems from under-resourcing our schools and allowing less affluent communities to be deprived of the generous support their students deserve.

Marty McLaren
Director, Seattle School Board District 6

published in the Seattle Times on Friday, May 22, 2015

May 4 meeting changed to Southwest Library

Hi all,

Sorry for the late notice: Delridge Library had double booked for tonight, so my Community Meeting will be at the Southwest Branch, 9010 35th Ave SW, 6:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

See you there, I hope.

Marty McLaren

Community meeting Monday, May 4

Hi all,

A reminder that I’ll be hosting a monthly Community Meeting tomorrow night, Monday, at the Delridge Branch Library, 5423 Delridge Way SW, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

Hope to see you there,

School Board

Dear friends,

Hello, and apologies for the long lapse in checking in with you. I’m very happy to say that I am running for re-election to the Seattle School Board in 2015. After coming through cancer surgery and chemotherapy in the fall and winter of 2014, I’ve been thrilled to regain lots of energy and to receive continuing good news at my checkups. So, I’m diving in again; more than ever, the work of Seattle Public Schools is my passion!

The years since November, 2011, have been a time of fulfilling, challenging, continuous learning and continuous improvement. This applies to the School Board’s work, to the entire Seattle School District, and to me personally.

Teaching and Learning, the activities of teachers and students, are the heart of the work of Seattle Schools. When I joined the Board I was immediately tapped to be Chair of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee because of my teaching experience. This January I stepped aside, while remaining on the committee, to make room for Director Blanford to assume a leadership role. It’s been deeply gratifying for the last 40 months to have the opportunity to delve into current practices and unfolding plans, learning to understand what’s working and what needs to be done. I’m extremely encouraged and energized by the progress our students are making. And my thirst for justice in education is more fervent than ever. My goal is that we offer superior opportunities for all our students, which includes all historically marginalized and underrepresented groups: children of color, children in poverty, children with the whole range of special needs, and those who are English Language Learners.

As a Board, we have accomplished a tremendous amount, but the two things that I feel personally most proud of are the K-5 math adoption of a text that offers explicit instruction, and the hiring of Dr. Larry Nyland as Superintendent. The new math texts are now in our K-5 classrooms, but embedding explicit K-5 math instruction in teacher practice throughout SPS is a heavy lift. Though it will take time for this change and the alignment it brings to come to fruition, I am confident that we are on the right track. Our Teaching and Learning leaders are committed to offering strong curricular support to ensure our teachers’ success in empowering our students. All of our students deserve to be highly competent and confident in their use of mathematics.

Dr. Nyland has proven to be an extraordinarily able leader – admiration is steadily growing throughout SPS and our city for his deep knowledge of the field of education, his unusually wide range of experience and leadership talent, and his total dedication to our students, staff, and families. His long acquaintanceship with our region is an asset for us all. We are extremely fortunate that he has assumed the position of Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.

There’s much else to report on, but I will do that separately, with a list of topics. In the meantime, I hope you will support me again as I seek re-election. I’m proud of my work and that of the School District; yes, there’s much, much to do, and yes, there’s also much cause for optimism. I’m deeply gratified at the many ways Seattleites embrace our schools, work to support students, and engage constructively with district leaders and staff at all levels. I look forward to continuing to be part of the dramatic, positive change we all seek. I look forward also to providing continuity as a second-term Director; this has become very important since three Board colleagues have announced that they will step down this year.

I’ll be following up soon with information about campaign events, as well as more details on district progress and Board activities. In the meantime, if you would like to donate to my campaign, here is the info:

      Marty McLaren for S.P.S.
      4742 42nd Ave. SW, #363
      Seattle, Washington 98116

Warm regards,

BTA, Neighbor to Neighbor

Hello all,

Below is information about BTA IV Levy nominations, and also about SPS’s “Neighbor to Neighbor” outreach regarding a possible bell time switch. Assuming I locate a projector, I will be ready to show the N2N video at tomorrow night’s (Thursday, April 9) community meeting, if there is interest. We’ll meet at 6:00 p.m. at the West Seattle Branch Library.

With wishes for a great spring break to you and your family,

Marty McLaren
Board Director
Seattle Public Schools, District VI

BTA IV Levy nominations

If you want to nominate one or more project for the upcoming BTA levy proposal, please go to the following link and fill out the brief survey.


Background: The 2016 BTA (Buildings, Technology, Academics/Athletics) Levy will be a request to Seattle voters to fund a large array of small renovations, major maintenance, and improvements in school buildings. Seattle Public Schools is gearing up for a BTA IV levy vote next February, 2016. This will be the fourth BTA levy in a six year cycle that started in 1996, thus, BTA IV. BTA Levy projects are small in contrast to the BEX or Building Excellence Levy projects, which are primarily aimed towards major building and renovations – for example, the new Genesee Hill and Arbor Heights buildings.

To determine what projects to include in this levy proposal, the district will use the 2014 “Meng Analysis” of the condition of each our buildings, an analysis of buildings’ capacity needs, and information/nominations provided by staff and community members in the form of a survey.

To learn more about BTA levies, you can visit this link:

BELL TIME ANALYSIS, a chance to weigh in

Many West Seattle parents have called for the school district to switch elementary and secondary bell times. I first heard the request from elementary parents whose children start school at 9:30 a.m. or later. They were interested in earlier bell times for their elementary students; the late start times pose a considerable hardship for many elementary families. In addition, many other Seattle parents have lobbied for later middle and high school start times, based on compelling research that demonstrates that adolescents need more sleep than their current early start times allow, and that adolescents from all kinds of backgrounds are much healthier, physically and emotionally, and more successful academically, when school starts later.

Logistics of a bell time switch: To switch the bell times would be an enormous undertaking; it would require major reorganization within the district as a whole, affecting almost every school, as well as district transportation, and before- and after-school childcare and activities; it would have a big effect on families, on their outside and sibling-provided childcare and transportation arrangements, student employment, athletics, etc.; it would require a great deal of coordination with the community – child-care and before- and after-school program providers would be affected; joint-use agreements with the Seattle Parks Department for athletics would have to change, Metro transit schedules could be affected, and so on.

Task force, N2N: The school district formed a task force to study the issue, and develop a family questionnaire. Now, SPS is leading the “Neighbor to Neighbor” process to give information to, and gather feedback from, our families. N2N involves individuals – parents, community members, etc., taking on the role of facilitators (training is available) and then organizing meetings in which other parents can view a video, discuss the possible effects of a bell time switch, and fill out a survey giving their feedback. The video and survey are available in nine languages.

Underrepresented families: I am especially concerned that we in our region (as well as the entire district) find good ways to include the views of parents who have typically been underrepresented in giving feedback to the district. You may know of some families at your school who are not native English speakers, for example, or with extremely busy single parents. The kinds of changes caused by a bell time switch might have effects on such families that others wouldn’t imagine. Some of our West Seattle Schools have large percentages of students with language and other barriers to connecting with district surveys.

I have two requests:

  1. Please consider attending a Facilitators’ training, and organizing one or more gathering for showing the SPS informational video, discussing the idea of a bell time switch, and asking people to fill out a family survey. See details and a link below.
  2. Please share with me any ideas you have for extending outreach to West Seattle or other families who are not tuned in to district initiatives, and I will forward your suggestions to our lead staff person, Jesse Johnson.

There are 3 main ways to be involved:

1. If you are interested in facilitating one or more conversation please consider attending one of the upcoming facilitator trainings:

  • Wednesday April 22nd, from 6-7:30 p.m. – Roosevelt HS Library
  • Tuesday April 28th, from 6-7:30 p.m. – JSCEE Room 2700
  • Tuesday April 29th, from 6-7:30 p.m. – Ballard HS Library

2. If you are interested in attending a community meeting, see the schedule below.

Community Discussions

  1. Tuesday April 21st, from 6-7:30 p.m. – High Point Neighborhood House
  2. Thursday April 30th, from 7-8:30 p.m. – Hamilton Middle School Commons
  3. Tuesday May 5th, from 7-8:30 p.m. – New Holly Gathering Hall
  4. Wednesday May 6th, from 7-8:30 p.m. – Garfield HS Cafeteria
  5. Tuesday May 12th, from 7-8:30 p.m. – Chief Sealth HS Cafeteria
  6. Saturday May 16th, Family Symposium – John Stanford Center

3. You can also help distribute surveys to families

  • Paper copies of surveys will be available later in April; contact Jesse Johnson jejohnson@seattleschools.org.
  • An online copy of the survey that can be printed and distributed is available. Please note, the survey cannot be completed online.
  • Both surveys and the video will be available in multiple languages.

For more information, please follow this link:

Thank you for considering this important issue.

West Seattle meetings: April 9, May 4, June 1

Hello all,

Here is info on my remaining meetings for the year. Hope to see you at one of these.

Upcoming community meetings:

My April community meeting has been rescheduled – it will be on this Thursday evening, April 9th, from 6:00 to 7:45 p.m. at the West Seattle Branch Library, 2306 42nd Ave SW. (The previously scheduled meeting during Spring Break has been cancelled.) My two remaining West Seattle Community meetings for this school year are on Monday evenings:

  • Thursday, April 9
    6:00 – 7:45 p.m.
    West Seattle Branch Library
    2306 42nd Ave SW

  • Monday, May 4
    6:00 – 7:45 p.m.
    Delridge Branch Library
    5423 Delridge Way SW

  • Monday, June 1
    6:00 – 7:45 p.m.
    Southwest Branch Library
    9010 35th Ave SW

Committee Meetings:

FYI, all Seattle School Board meetings, including Committee meetings, are open to the public, in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, except in the case of Executive Sessions, which pertain to personnel and legal matters, and are posted as Executive Sessions.

I encourage you to attend committee meetings if you are interested in doing so; there are four standing committees that generally meet once a month: Executive Committee, Audit and Finance, Operations, and Teaching and Learning. These meetings are usually held in the Conference Room in the Board office. The schedules and agendas (as available) are posted on the district website under the “District” and then “School Board” menus.

If you’ve not attended committee meetings before, know that they are not always geared towards the public – sometimes pertinent documents are available to visitors, but not always. This is something we are working on. If you come, you’ll find a room that’s about 12 feet by 24 feet, with a conference table, at which Directors and lead staff sit; chairs line the walls around, and staff members often sit there and move to the table as their agenda items come up. Visitors sit around the periphery, usually along with staff members.

BTA Capital Levy, Neighbor2Neighbor (N2N) discussions:
I’ll follow up with a separate email about these.