Open Letter to QAE Community Member “John Smith”

[Note: “John Smith,” is a pseudonym used by a person who first appeared on the now defunct “Seattle Wants David Elliott Back” Facebook page. John Smith shared a letter from another anonymous QAE community member, who in turn represented many QAE families (you still with me?) who were displeased with David Elliott. John Smith and the families for whom he claimed to speak cited fear as the primary reason for their lack of both prior communication and present identity disclosure.]

Dear John,

I’m writing today with the goal of mending this community. I must be honest and say that my heart is broken. I saw a genuine striving for good in David Elliott, and I am grieving the loss of that effortful goodness for our children and the state of education in general. My strategy now is to focus on striving for goodness within our community, to look closely at what we know and what we don’t know, to try to make it whole again. As NPR’s Sarah Koenig would say, “all facts are friendly.”

Heart pin

I have a lot of questions before my healing can begin. Though I have not seen your pseudonym pop up in the forums lately, I trust that you are still heavily involved in the discussion, based on your previously communicated level of information clearance and concern.

  • When you referenced the fear involved in having a dissenting voice, I felt empathy for you. When my friend pointed out and surmised that you had been removed from the “Seattle Wants David Elliott Back” page for expressing that voice, I sent you a friend request. If community support is what you’re after, why didn’t you accept?
  • It is clear we disagree on the subject of whether or not David Elliott is fundamentally good. When there are two other well-loved public elementary schools within a one mile radius, can you shed any light on why your representees would willingly send their children to an option school with corrupt and adversarial leadership? I respect their right to a different opinion, and am genuinely curious as to why they would not use their parental powers of discretion to seek a better education for their children.
  • Regarding the level of fear you communicated, I can’t help but conjure images of people trapped inside a cult. If your representees feel as though they are surrounded by unsympathetic people who drank the Kool-Aid, why break the silence now? Which part of SPS’ dismissal of David Elliott- based on missing paperwork- felt like the kind of support they had been waiting for? Does your group have any concerns about the future educative implications of aligning themselves behind an establishment that has acted in such bad faith toward a community majority?

As someone who is currently obtaining a masters in teaching, I am deeply affected by SPS’ blatant and unilateral flex of power in opposition to hundreds of discerning and well-informed parents. It has made me, along with some extremely talented future educators in my cohort, actually reconsider our career paths. It is one thing to be a cog in a wheel, it is quite another to be a cog in a broken wheel.

  • Now that justice has been corruptly served in accordance with your representees’ personal beliefs regarding David Elliott, will they continue to take part in a school community which, to them, must seem almost entirely comprised of ignorant followers? I can’t imagine willingly partaking in that level of daily frustration, nor subjecting my children to it.

I met with David face-to-face regarding the cyber-bullying incident, which I assume is the primary impetus behind your involvement. What made the cyber-bullying incident so difficult to address was the lack of accountability due to hidden identity. Though we may ultimately disagree about David’s handling of that situation, let us not forget that the perpetrator of this sad and desperate move was not David, but a child within our community.

  • If we are a community joined in the holistic effort of education with a technology focus, how are online pseudonyms and speaking for large swaths of unnamed others addressing the fundamental issue of accountability which first began these divisions? How are you modeling the behavior you want to see in our children, John?
  • If you (and those you represent) continue to hide your identities, then it is clear you do not trust your community. How is a community lacking in trust supposed to heal?

The many voices which comprise a community are rooted in individual identities. To sever an identity from its voice is to undermine and call into question the empathic and reasoning capabilities of all other vocally integrated members. I want to come together to heal, but healing will not take place until we address this issue of identity and accountability.

I look forward to hearing from you, John.