I had an interesting discussion with a SB candidate recently (I can't say who as I have not yet heard back about blogging about our discussion. I told this person I do blog but I did forget to say that I would likely blog about our discussion and my impressions. It seems bad form to not at least let the person know).
This candidate is clearly in the de Bell camp of pulling back on choice and going with feeder options. I mentioned I could see this in light of the transportation costs but that I still thought that high school should be an open option. (And I know many of you believe that to be a farce because it is unlikely that many could get into certain schools if they are not in that region. Agreed but it doesn't hurt to try.) Or if not an open option, that there would be a lottery for the Ballard biotech program and/or IB programs (at Sealth and Ingraham should they become oversubscribed) as well as an audition process for the jazz bands at Roosevelt and Garfield. (This is a question to ask those schools' music directors: what would you forsee happening to your jazz program if you could only have kids from the region that your school sits in? How many kids currently in your program come from outside the region your school is in?)
This candidate didn't agree, saying that schools won't get their own strong programs if there was a continued fight over getting into a few schools. I get that and I suggested a 4-year program of lottery/auditions while other schools ramp up their efforts. That was rejected.
The problem is that, at least for things like drama and music, the district/school isn't the driver. You have to have a good-to-great director of the program and parents who will work like the devil to make it happen. A few good souls won't do it. (For something like the biotech program, it's up to the district to either make it happen elsewhere or allow a lottery.) Can we count on parents to step up if they are shut out of programs? How long does it take to get excellence and would it be okay to be in a lesser music/drama program if your child was happy?
Lastly, I said, "Well, if you want to restrict choice and tell parents 'you have these limited choices' would it not follow that the district, in order to appease parents who are worried/unhappy with their choices, would have to listen to parents in terms of what they want to see in programming at their local schools?" The candidate said, well, sure but I wasn't sure that was a complete answer.
If you are willing to give on choice, then you need to ask every candidate if they understand what it means on the district's end. If the district enacts a feeder plan and then shrugs when parents put pressure on them for what the parents want to see locally, then you'll have a lot of unhappy people. The current Board is the likely one to put forth this plan (Brita, is the current Board planning to finish the enrollment plan before November?) but that shouldn't stop you from talking to current candidates.
The time is now, right now, to think about what you are willing to do, give up or fight for in terms of where your child goes to school. I am past this point for my children (one in college, the other established at Roosevelt) but I continue to ask these questions (and I'm willing to fight if it helps) because it does matter to the overall stability and health of our district.