I continue to be disturbed by the recommendation to merge Viewlands into Greenwood, and the lack of details on what is going to happen with the John Marshall programs, so I spoke to those concerns as well as my concerns about Phase II of the closures. (see my previous post on this topic)
Several people presented the arguments that:
- No school should be closed.
- The closures unfairly impact non-white, lower-income children, and children in special education programs.
As I listened, I realized that these were the same arguments I started with back in May, but that I have changed my mind. I have also changed by tone --- I was definitely one of the "angry" presenters when I started speaking at the Town Meetings, and I was speaking mostly to the community trying to create community-wide opposition to the closure process. Now, I find myself speaking more directly to the School Board and district staff, with fewer angry statements and more concrete suggestions for change.
Is this because I have learned things during the process that have changed my mind? Or because I have gotten to know the School Board members a little, and I find it difficult to make inflammatory or aggressive statements to people once I have had honest, face-to-face discussions? Or because many of the decisions I thought were the most questionable (with the exception of Viewlands and John Marshall as noted above), have been changed?
And which style of advocacy is most effective? If we want to work together to improve Seattle Public Schools, will our requests be heard best when presented loudly, with much emotion? Or in a more reasoned tone? Or do we need a little bit of both?
Several audience members interrupted district staff during the agenda discussion later in the meeting with boos and shouted contradictions. It made me quite uncomfortable, although I respect the passion behind those actions.
Now, however, I feel unsure about how to proceed. The Seattle Schools need to improve. I just don't know what the most effective style of advocacy is to work to make that happen.