Friday, December 12, 2008

Seattle Public School Closure Outreach?

A lot of is being written about the proposed closures, mergers, moves and the like for Seattle Public Schools. I won't bother trying to document all of the changes and intrigue, and instead I have a few questions:
  • Where are the voices of the students and youths impacted by the potential changes?
  • Where are the non-parents and other community members impacted by the proposed changes?
With regards to the current and future students potentially impacted, it would seem like that these voices would be important in consideration of changes. Not following it too closely other than through some blogs and mainstream news outlets, it's not evident that youth are organizing. I can't believe this is true...is it? Has the school board or district been trying to actively involve this audience? What about other youth oriented organizations or programs?

Likewise with the non-parents and other community members impacted...to what extent are they at the table? To what extent are these voices heard? To what extent is any outreach being done by the school board or school district? The same question applies to all of the neighborhood groups or home associations.

The thing I love about public school is well, that it's public. A few months ago through some volunteering with Seattle Works, my friends and I volunteered at an elementary school in my old neighborhood. Aside from the work and the weather, the other volunteers there made this one of my favorite volunteer events. Not only were parents and students helping out, but so too were people just from the neighborhood. So too were there people from other organizations throughout the city. Public schools are for everyone -- not just the parents, teachers and students. It's time we all started (myself included) to treat it as such.

1 comment:

Susanna said...

Great questions, Brian. One of the things we're seeing is that the communities with the power, privilege, and access ARE getting involved (which is kind of Sable Verity's point) while those who have the least amount of power, privilege, and access are getting left in the dust on one of the most elemental issues around-- education. I'm not seeing much evidence that SPS has made a good faith effort to reach out to all communities (see the lack of translation to Cooper families, who speak at least seven different languages) or think creatively about other ways to possibly address this problem. School closures can't be the only solution to budget issues. As some wise person said (it might have even been Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson), we should be making more of an effort to raise the quality of ALL schools, PARTICULARLY the ones that are struggling the most. Reshuffling the deck every year isn't helping.

As to your question about why kids aren't more involved, school closures are kind of esoteric and beyond the egocentric nature of most high school students. You are unlikely to see a walk out, as Garfield students did today in support of a classmate and basketball player who purportedly violated residency rules, simply because kids don't generally have that kind of perspective. Furthermore, the most impassioned debates are largely centering around elementary schools. It is therefore incumbent upon the adults who serve as the guardians' of these children's interests to act in ways which benefit those in their care, rather than their own egos or whatever it is that's fueling this asinine process.