(Here's a link to the excellent coverage of the Genesee Hill public hearing last night over at the West Seattle blog.)
A reply in a recent thread lead me to another blog (let's call it Blog S) where the closures are being discussed. Now I had initially thought to provide a link because our blog strives to give as much information and coverage as possible on Seattle education. However, when I popped over to it, I found a LOT of anger and vitriol and near-slander. I posted one thing and promptly got flamed. It is a very angry blog. None of you are children but I don't even want to give out the URL (you could find it if you tried). The tag line of the blog is "You can disagree, but I’ll still be right; that means, I don’t need you to agree with me for me to be right." (That pretty much says it all.)
So why am I bringing it up? I'm posting about it because there are claims that no one is covering the story that Steve Sundquist allegedly worked with parents at Arbor Heights to get the district to pick Cooper instead of AH for a new home for Pathfinder. The issue seems to be around some e-mails which were obviously not meant for public viewing but an AR parent felt the ideas they contained where so unfair that she released them to Blog S (so it's a lesson to us all). As well, Blog S alleges that Steve met with these parents. They also believe this is because Steve 's children have attended Pathfinder and that he favors that school.
Here's part of what I wrote (and got flamed for) when this thread first appeared at Blog S:
"I’m an activist in this district so I find this all very troubling and worrisome. However, if Steve only met with them at a public meeting and/or all the e-mails were available on the Yahoo group, it’s not as bad. You have to remember “hatched” was the writer’s word, not Steve’s. But I’m not here to defend him; he’ll have to do that on his own. (But please, it’s good to have Board members who have kids in public schools and if you believe that Board members will ALWAYS advocate for their child’s school(s) - present and past - then never vote for anyone who has a child in SPS.)"
Did I sound like I was on Steve's side? No, I merely said it was important to know the entire story and the context. But Blog S is having none of it.
This morning Blog S printed a recap of the Genesee Hill meeting (did anyone else attend?). Their main reporting is that Steve didn't allow the final speaker to speak because he didn't "identify himself" properly through an interpreter. Apparently the crowd was very upset.
The only other reporting about the meeting was that allegedly the staff at Pathfinder do NOT want to move if it displaces another community. And that's another option - don't move Pathfinder, let them wait until the next BEX and close another bad building in SW and West Seattle and disperse kids. Not moving Pathfinder wouldn't preclude closing another building in the area.
Every Director is likely getting it from all sides. I haven't talked to Steve, haven't seen these e-mails, don't know the facts. (But hey, why let facts get in the way with a good rant?) It seems that Steve may have misstepped. It probably would have been a good idea (unless there were a hundred people who wanted to speak) to just let this last guy speak via the interpreter.
The PTA Board at Arbor Heights may have made some missteps (and likely learned some hard lessons). I have to say, after seeing the transcript of the KUOW interview, that they were pretty honest about it.
But I didn't want it said that by our silence that we are somehow not aware or don't care about this issue. It is sad that two schools have been pitted against each other. Frankly, I wish the Board was using more data to figure this out but I realize now that they aren't. I wish the Board would go out and visit each school and look at the programs before they make a decision.
The bottom line is that the mandate at this blog is to deal in facts and factual reporting on meetings as much as is humanly possible. Name-calling, hurtful language, and belligerence may make people feel better but it solves nothing. (I went through this with the last school closures; there were a few people who thought that calling everyone involved with closures a racist, threatening lawsuits and making veiled physical threats would work. It didn't and it never does.)
I'd love to hear from AH or Cooper parents about this issue.