School Board Member Carr Assails "Insults and Outbursts" by Opponent

By Erica C. Barnett October 11, 2011

When incumbents attack challengers, that's usually a sign they're worried. So make what you will of Seattle School Board incumbent Sherry Carr's broadside today against challenger Kate Martin, a Greenwood neighborhood activist Carr accuses of making "insensitive remarks about special education, non-English speaking and other student populations burdening the overall student body in Seattle Schools."

Here are Carr's specific allegations, along with Martin's responses. Carr charges that Martin:

• Sent a statement to the 43rd District Democrats including a "very insensitive remark," saying that “[English Language Learners], Special Ed, and an assortment of behavioral problems are mainstreamed on the backs of average students.”

Martin says she "went back and apologized to anybody that I offended by saying that. ... I regret using the words 'on the backs of average students.'" Martin says her point was that by increasing class sizes while cutting the number of staffers available to teachers, schools like Ingraham High have reduced their general education classes---those for "average" students---to the lowest common denominator. "The law says that special education [students] need to be in the least restrictive environment possible, which is better for everybody, but it has to be staffed. You cannot have unsupported classrooms.

• Was escorted by Seattle police out of Roosevelt High School in 2009 because she was so adamant that the school assign her son a new math teacher.

Martin stands by her "stand-in" at the Roosevelt principal's office, which she says she staged a last resort after she couldn't get her son reassigned out of a "horrible" teacher's math class. Eventually, she says, the teacher resigned. "I am completely proud of what I did at Roosevelt. I got a teacher gone that should have never been allowed in a classroom."

•  Called Advanced Placement classes “another club for white, affluent families” in a letter to the Seattle Times.

Martin says one of her goals is to improve school for "average students" like her kids. "If we want to encourage achievement, we need to take those average students and make them above-average students. Instead, they just lump everyone together according to how old they are and what grade level they're in."

• And she filed a recall against Carr and other board members because she disagreed with a contract decision by the district.

"I did try to recall Sherry Carr and other members of the board," Martin says. "The judge"---who dismissed her case---"told me I should run for school board instead, so that's what I'm doing."
Filed under
Show Comments