An Update On The Seattle School Closure Nightmare
While TOPS, the school that my child attends (and my other child is starting in the fall), was given a temporary reprieve, the recommendations of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) that 11 schools buildings be closed, is the wrong way to go about fixing the Seattle Public School system.
Of course I am happy that the CAC recognized that closing Thurgood Marshall, moving TOPS into the Thurgood Marshall building and re-locating Montlake Elementary to TOPS’ home at Seward was a bad move all the way around, but I am devastated for the families, students and staff that weren’t fortunate enough to “get off the list.” This process has been flawed from the beginning, and these recommendations reflect that.
If creating a stronger public school district is the goal (leaner and meaner and offering our students more and better opportunities to succeed), then how is breaking up communities and programs that are successful and that are working hard to address areas of concern, going to make it so?
One of the greatest things about the Seattle school district is the choice that is offered to parents when selecting a school for their children and the myriad of innovative programs being implemented in different schools that serve unique and diverse communities. We should be rewarding this type of problem solving, not preemptively dismantling schools before we even have a chance to see if they are working.
One of the best recommendations that the CAC made in their final proposal was a “Central Area Study” that works with the schools in the area to figure out a solution to the under-enrollment issue. This is exactly what should happen throughout the district. The CAC could have made their report simple by recommending that same approach throughout the entire district.
Closing public schools is an emotional and trying prospect and cannot be handed down seemingly out of nowhere. This process has been hampered by the incomplete information and data available to the CAC in making their determinations. Without clear leadership and a common vision that we can all share in, these recommendations leave the public feeling left out, neglected and in many cases, picked on. We all want the same thing, the best education for all of our city’s children. It’s too bad that these recommendations don’t achieve that, and instead leave us feeling like we weren’t included in a decision that affects us most of all.