A while ago, Charlie Mas asked me why I thought there was so much animosity in Seattle towards the APP and Spectrum programs. At the time, I replied that I wasn't aware of any animosity.
If Charlie asked me the question now, I'd have a very different answer. The animosity towards the APP program (on the previous thread) and the Spectrum program (on several previous threads) is amazing and alarming to me.
The purpose statement for this blog, "Joining together across Seattle to fight for high quality public schools that educate all students to become passionate, lifelong learners" is something I really believe in.
I agree that students who struggle in school sometimes need extra help from the community-at-large in advocating for their needs and rights. And I believe deeply in the need to advocate for equity in public education.
But animosity among parents, by school, geographic area, or program, is disturbing and counterproductive. Every child deserves to have their educational needs met in our public schools. Every child deserves our support.
Over the last few days, I've been thinking about why such animosity exists. I thought about how I feel about that fact that some PTSA's raise enough money to hire additional staff for arts and music. I thought about how I feel when I hear parents from the more affluent parts of Seattle discussing their varied after-school offerings, including classes in several foreign languages. I thought about how I have felt, in any aspect of my life, when I am in a position of less power, money, or voice than others around me. I thought about how, when an organization disappoints me consistently, I begin to expect that behavior, while resenting it at the same time. With these thoughts in mind, the animosity that has been expressed on this blog and in other places begins to make sense.
As long as there are differences between school communities and their offerings depending upon the wealth of the neighborhood, as long as there are limited resources in a school and competition between academic programs for those resources, as long as there are differences among parent groups, whether real or perceived, in power, voice, and access to the district decision makers, as long as the district staff maintains a culture of inadequate communication and poor responsiveness to the needs of students, the conditions are ripe for divisive and non-productive animosity.
Parents, teachers and community members across Seattle need to acknowledge this reality and the roots of it, and then work together to combat it. The first step, in my opinion, is to organize around increasing funding of public schools in Washington. This is an issue that everyone can and should get behind. Maybe, by increasing the funding pie, we can begin to decrease the fighting over the crumbs.