Okay, I can tell by the Open Thread that there is a lot of simmering unhappiness over the racial tiebreaker lawsuit. What's done is done (but we also need to keep some institutional memory about this and not gloss over it in the future).
On the one hand, I admire those parents who brought the lawsuit. As a person who has personally stuck up for what she believes in, I get their passion. I think a lot of people who are education activists started out working for their children, got involved and it becomes a larger issue. I had a disagreement with how TAF handled their Rainier Beach outreach and the TAF founder, Trish Dziko, and I sat down and talked. Guess what? We had more in common and had more common ground than either of us thought. People of good faith do find ways to do that.
I do admire the parents for their passion and willingness to stick it out. However, I will point out a couple of things that still remain despite the outcome of the Supreme Court decision.
1. The District immediately stopped using the tiebreaker. They could have, legally, used it until a court told them they couldn't use. They didn't and maybe that was for legal reasons (likely) and/or they didn't want to make the situation escalate (also likely). So now, for years, the enrollment plan has operated without the tiebreaker.
2. Do you do feel race should be used in the assignment plan? Well, it just might be used in the future. Justice Kennedy's separate opinion, coupled with the dissenters, show that a carefully crafted enrollment plan could use race as one facet of it. The case outcome only said that the majority of the justices did not like the Seattle/Louisville plans. Is the District bright enough and/or brave enough to craft such a plan? My thought is no. I think the wind is out of their sails, they will have to pay a big price financially and I think people are sick of talking about it. This doesn't mean diversity isn't important but from the high school assignment thread I think a good solid school near home trumps it.
3. You might be upset over the money it is going to cost the district (and leave our classrooms). It's not the plaintiffs' fault that their lawyers have chosen to act like lawyers (meaning, they say one thing and do another; hey, I know lawyers, love talking law but I wasn't surprised at all when DWT decided to go for the money). It's a bitter pill but that's it.
4. QA/Magnolia STILL isn't happy. They got Center School (and I'm still searching for the op-eds in any newspaper or any news story in which QA/Magnolia parents told the District that Center School was not what they wanted). They got the use of the tiebreaker stopped almost immediately. They won their court case. My point is not that they are whiners; they clearly have a case. Again, the stupidest, dumbest mistake ever made in this district was creating that lease that led to the sale of QA High School. When you have a geographically challenged city like ours, you have to expect that certain areas (like Magnolia and West Seattle) will have to have a high school there because of the difficulties of transporting kids all over.
The bottom line on their unhappiness is they need someplace large and stable enough for their children to go. But, it needs to be understood that a brand-new high school is on the order of $100M before land costs. Charlie's right; it would make more sense to get this problem pointed towards a solution before remodeling Hale as frankly, it seems more important. It also would make creating a new assignment program easier if each area had a high school. Hale has a new football field, a new almost-$2M roof, computer upgrades and a new performing arts hall.
Charlie has offered some ideas. I laugh over the Lincoln idea (although it may come to pass) because I was unequivocally told by Facilities staff that "no can do" because it's "their" interim site. And, since they also told me they were committed to redoing every single high school site (but not Nova or Summit; somehow they don't count), Hale and Ingraham will be remodeled and where would they go? (Wilson-Pacific?)
QA/Magnolia cannot believe, however, that they are the only ones with problems. Eastlake residents, too, have virtually no reference elementary school. That's even worse at some level because those are younger students.
I said at the beginning of this post that I had started out advocating for what I wanted for my kids. That was a stronger Highly Capable program (better Spectrum with more consistency in its format and delivery system as well as accessibility). When I started attending Board meetings in the early '90s, I realized that there were people with a lot more problems than me. So my activism took a district-wide view (and I was just spinning my wheels for a better gifted program - again, no real champion for it within the district). My point is that it is easy to get caught up in your school, your neighborhood, your region. And it's okay if you don't have the time or the energy to think about the rest of the district.
BUT, it is the job of staff and the Board to think district-wide. There is a ripple effect in this district when decisions are made. Very little happens in a vacuum. If those two groups, when this lawsuit started, had thought about it carefully, they might have made better choices. They might not have poured millions into creating a 300-seat high school that is not made up largely with kids from one region. They might not have sought to rush to "do something" and stepped back, worked with those communities and found a better solution. So now, years later, what has either side really gotten done on this problem?
Nothing. And so we go back to the drawing board. Let's find solutions.