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Our Towns

Feature Story

Saving Seattle Public Schools (Seattle, Washington)

When former US Army General John Stanford took the job as superintendent of Seattle Public Schools in 1995, school enrollment was dropping and test scores were below the national average. Bringing new vigor to the job, Stanford mobilized the community around higher standards for students. Working with the local teacher's union, he gave power back to teachers, and more flexibility over operations and budgets to individual schools.

A schoolgirl beams at the camera in this Livelyhood still.

"You've got to develop community around your schools." -- John Stanford

Stanford also convinced local businesses they had a stake in building a healthy education system in their community. With the support of teachers, principals and civic leaders district-wide, Seattle students are performing their best in years. Now Seattle schools have had to rise to a new challenge. Sadly, last Spring Stanford was diagnosed with leukemia, and passed away in November, 1998. Since then, the community has rallied around Stanford's vision to keep Seattle's education revolution on track.

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Watch "Our Towns," the fourth Livelyhood special, airing on PBS nationwide beginning January 26, 1999 (check local listings).

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