Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Rainer Beach

I was going to post about Rainer Beach; here's a link to the Times' story. The story had some interesting history that I hadn't known:

"In the 1980s, Rainier Beach was home to the district's gifted program, Horizon. Enrollment topped 1,000 students. But desegregation efforts in the late 1980s began to drain enrollment. The district capped the number of minority students that could attend Rainier Beach, resulting in a 200-student waiting list of kids who weren't allowed to attend. They opted into North End schools, but North End students didn't come south. The school's arts program shrank, and then the district moved the gifted program.

(The Horizon program was the first generation Spectrum program and, apparently, had been available in high schools which I hadn't known.)

"We went to School Board meetings fighting for them," said Michelle Jacobsen, a longtime teacher. "You had a perception that the school was losing students because of the staff, but the reality is, we couldn't have the students that wanted to come here."

The school languished under former principal Marta Cano-Hinz, who headed the school from 1993 to 2000. For months, a group of parents picketed weekly for Cano-Hinz's removal until, in 2000, the district paid her a $170,000 settlement to retire early.

Today, teachers who struggled through that period are hopeful about two major initiatives: adding more rigorous courses and making Rainier Beach a performing-arts-focused school. Last summer, Rainier Beach teamed up with Broadway Bound Children's Theatre, a Seattle nonprofit, to produce the musical "Dreamgirls" in the school's 10-year-old performing-arts center. Broadway Bound will return to the school this summer, and next year will provide staff training and an after-school program."

"This isn't the first time district officials have forecast a renaissance at Rainier Beach. In 1999, district officials were setting up a reform plan to boost enrollment, which had declined to 812 students. Most high schools in Seattle enroll at least 1,000. At fewer than 400 students this year, Rainier Beach is smaller than many of the district's elementary schools."

This is important information to consider because many of the moves the district did (or didn't make) hurt RB. Keeping an unpopular principal (and one who, apparently, couldn't get a performing arts program going despite the performing arts hall being built).

I am hoping that the City might do something to help improve the area around RBHS so that parents feel good about where their children go to school.

But, as Michael said previous, it's programs that count and I wish RBHS all the luck in the world in their efforts to rejuvenate itself.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if they meant the Horizon program at South Shore: see www.seattleschools.org/area/historybook/south-shore.pdf for the relationship between Rainier Beach and South Shore. I don't *think* Horizon was ever in high school.

Helen Schinske

jelangel said...

That is not a mistake. There was a Horizon program at Rainier Beach in the early 80's. As a student, I took a biology class in the program.