Despite many words to the contrary, Chief Academic Carla Santoro and Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson are destroying what is special about alternative schools in the pursuit of the almighty WASL scores.
For example, all the alternative schools in the district are being forced to use the standard elementary school math curriculum, Everyday Mathematics. And more standardized curriculum decisions will be coming soon.
If our schools can't use alternative curriculum, then what is going to keep them "alternative"? How can a school that has multi-grade classrooms use a curriculum that requires kids to be separated strictly by grade? How can a school that believes in highly differentiated, theme-based, contextual instruction follow a curriculum where the math concepts are covered rapidly at a shallow level with no connection to other classroom work?
What happens to kids that are used to being able to go as fast and as far as they can in their learning when everyone now has to go at the same speed? And even worse, what about those who can't keep up with the pace and feel like failures in math now. Previously, those kids felt successful as long as they were learning, pushing themselves, setting goals and meeting them. But standardized curriculums with pacing guides reward only speed in learning, not creativity or exploration.
Of course not all schools in the district are forced to use the Everyday Math curriculum. If you have high enough WASL scores, your school can be exempted from having to use this curriculum, like North Beach and others have been.
Never mind that WASL scores are highly correlated with income and mother's level of education. Never mind that schools in certain locations of the city could have high WASL scores no matter what and how they teach. And others won't no matter what they do.
Never mind that not all parents or teachers think that high WASL scores are more important than love of learning, a sense of community, and a connection to the world around us.
We have alternative schools in Seattle to meet the needs of children and families whose needs aren't met by traditional schools.
Why do Carla and Maria want to turn them into traditional schools?
If you are interested in joining together to discuss what is happening to alternative schools in Seattle, please send an e-mail to SeattleAlternativeSchools@yahoogroups.com.
Parents and teachers from alternative schools, as well as any parents, teachers or other community members interested in keeping viable alternative schools in our district are invited to join.