Seattle School District Director, District 5

Stephan Blanford

education and nonprofit consultant, 51

Youth services veteran with doctorate in educational leadership.
Big idea
Insist that the school board carefully monitor district efforts to eliminate the gap in achievement among students of different ethnic groups.
Central area
Conventional wisdom
Shoo-in with no stiff competition.
Can someone be overqualified for the school board?
Married to Janet Blanford, a school district employee; one daughter at Beacon Hill International School.

"I tend to be the candidate who wants to look at research and evidence when we make decisions." — Stephan Blanford

Stephan Blanford on the issues

Role of the school board

Cites research that says there is a high correlation between good school-board operations and student achievement. Says that means the board should stick to policy, avoid micromanagement, and hold the superintendent accountable for results. Also sees board as a conduit for information to/from the community, and the people responsible for ensuring public money is well spent.

Short-term solution to overcrowding

Use portables as stopgap – not ideal, but necessary.


Believes in state and district testing as a tool to compare Seattle with other districts in this state and across the nation. Hasn’t decided whether current amount of testing is too much. Agrees that MAP exams aren’t right for Seattle schools.

Where new money should go first

Give to schools where there is the most need to shrink the achievement gap, and make sure they use it in ways that research shows makes a difference.

Major endorsements

Former King County Executive Ron Sims, the Seattle teachers union, Washington Principal of the Year Kelly Aramaki, the Metropolitan Democratic Club, the political arm of the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, the League of Education Voters, King County Democrats, six local district Democrat groups, four state legislators including House Speaker Frank Chopp, four Seattle City Council members, two current school board members (Michael DeBell and Kay Smith-Blum), Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Kevin Washington of Tabor 100