The Phase II closure recommendations would have a huge negative impact on alternative schools in Seattle.
#1) AS #1 and Summit K-12, schools with different educational philosophies, would be co-located, effectively diminishing the options for alternative education in North Seattle, and downplaying the individuality of each alternative school. As one parent said on Thursday night, the attitude seems to be "Oh those schools are both "weird" so let's put them together." From what I have heard, the two schools have different approaches and different strengths. The AS#1 community clearly values its small size, and that piece would obviously disappear in a co-location with Summit K-12.
#2) And those of you who read my previous post about SW capacity carefully saw the news that the Pathfinder/Cooper recommendation is now being "clarified" as a proposed merger, combining two schools with different educational philosophies (one traditional and one alternative). It is my understanding this would mean teachers and other staff being assigned to the building based on seniority. And it is completely unclear whether the "new school" would be an alternative school or a traditional school, and what it's educational philosophy and approach would be.
From the school district's Alternative Education policy adopted in June of this year, comes the following information.
While alternative schools share many values with other schools the following characteristics in combination define alternative schools as unique:
1. Students, families and staff share and support the school’s philosophy, values, practices and mission to educate the "whole" child in a community based on a high degree of personalization.
• Students and families have informed themselves about an alternative school and requested placement.
• Instructional, support and administrative staff are at the school by choice.
The newly clarified Pathfinder/Cooper proposal clearly violates this policy, both for the children and the staff. I know Charlie is going to say the district violates its policies all the time, so this is nothing new, but it is still appalling.
#3) The School Board is tackling choice, transportation and reference areas this week. The handwriting is on the wall that TOPS and Salmon Bay will likely be affected by the proposed changes. The previous district proposal was to limit TOPS to the Central cluster, taking away a very desirable middle school choice for many South and Southeast families, and to limit Salmon Bay draw to north of the ship canal, while adding Queen Anne cluster, destroying the racial and economic diversity valued by the middle school staff, parents and children there. I don't know what this week will bring in terms of recommendations, but I'm willing to bet the recommendations will have a negative effect on these schools again.
A city with nothing but alternative schools would serve the children as poorly as a city with nothing but traditional schools. Let's recognize and honor the value of both types of educational approaches in meeting the needs of Seattle's children. If Seattle residents want to maintain quality alternative schools around the city for the children for whom traditional educational approaches are not as successful, now is the time to join together in protest, before it is too late.