This week the Board will, almost certainly, enact a Program Placement Policy. This Policy will have two major impacts.
The first will be a new Program Placement Process. The current process does not reflect the District's values regarding openness, honesty, transparency, engagement or accountability. The Superintendent and her team will develop a new process which will reflect the District's stated commitment to those values. Of course, she will need some time to create this process and to implement it. Then, after the first roll-out there will probably need to be some adjustments made. We'll have to be patient as we await a new process that works well.
We won't have to wait for the other impact, though. That will be a change of principle. In the new Policy, anyone can propose a Program Placement and all program placement proposals are to be treated equally. Anyone means anyone. You or I could propose a program placement and it has to be treated with the same regard, put through the same process, and judged by the same Standards as any other proposal regardless of source.
Of course, the new process isn't in effect yet, so all of these proposals will have to go through the current process. And fast, because program placement decisions for next year have to be done by December.
I don't know about you, but I've got about eight program placement proposals lined up and ready to go. I can't wait for Thursday when I'll send them in.
First on my list will be an elementary Spectrum program for the West Seattle-South cluster. There isn't one there now, despite promises from the former Superintendent - in writing - that there would be a Spectrum program in every cluster and region. At last count, there were 82 District-identified Spectrum-eligible elementary students in the West Seattle-South cluster - enough to form a viable learning community - but there is no designated Spectrum site in the cluster. The District says that West Seattle Elementary (formerly High Point) is the Spectrum site for West Seattle-South, but there are so many reasons that isn't true: never met the certification requirements, never met any annual re-certification requirements, no trained teachers, only three students, no Spectrum classrooms, clearly rejected by the community, clearly not supported by the administration or staff, and, of course, the fact that it isn't in West Seattle-South.
After that, I have proposals for other elementary Spectrum programs - Leschi isn't proving an effective choice for the Central Cluster, Lawton isn't proving an effective choice for the Queen Anne / Magnolia Cluster, Wing Luke isn't proving an effective choice for the Southeast Cluster, etc. Then there are proposals for middle school Spectrum programs: the small cohort in the Southeast Region shouldn't be split between two schools, the West Seattle Region program belongs at Madison instead of Denny to be close to the students' homes and for feeder patterns out of Lafayette, Meany should have the Central Region program instead of Washington to relieve overcrowding at Washington and to be closer to the students' homes. Like that.
Program Placement has been driven by operational expediency - they put programs where they have room for them - and by political preferences - Principals trade programs like baseball cards and they - wrongly - have veto power over what should be a District level decision. When Program Placement is driven by a set of clear and rational rules, it will quickly become clear that a number of them make no sense at all and need to be changed immediately.
None of the program placement proposals listed above are my idea. In all of these cases the District committed to make those changes years ago, but they are hoping that no one remembers those commitments or has any means to hold them to them. They are going to be sorely disappointed. I remember the commitments, I have them in writing, and I will hold on like a bulldog. These people will keep their word and do what is best for the students.
Weird, isn't it? I expect to meet a lot of resistance. Wouldn't it be something if I showed up, reminded them of their promises, and they responded "Oh yes, that's right. Okay, we'll do it just like we said that we would." Why doesn't anyone think that will happen? Why do we presume that they will writhe like rats in a trap and try to get out of keeping their commitments? These are commitments that they made of their own volition. No one held a gun to their heads; they set these deadlines and Standards for themselves. Yet now, they will pretend like they didn't make these commitments or they didn't mean what they obviously mean or the promises are stale and no longer enforceable. That's were accountability is necessary. If everyone were honorable, we wouldn't be so tweaked up about accountability. If everyone were honorable, we could accept their promises to hold themselves accountable as effective. Alas...