This topic came up in another thread. From that thread:
Deidre F. writes: "Only 1/3 of the families assigned to Hale this year actually chose to be there. The other 2/3 received mandatory assignment. Don't get me wrong, I love Hale, and chose it for my son, but many people don't want what Hale offers. Should they have to just suck it up and go there because there is not enough space at Roosevelt."
Charlie Mas replied:
How unreasonable is it to expect Hale to change their culture and programming to reflect the desires of 2/3's of the families sending students there? If the Northeast wants another Roosevelt, then why doesn't Hale become another Roosevelt? Who gets to decide the culture and the programming at the school and why aren't they more responsive to the community they ostensibly serve?
There were also several posts about Madrona. It is a unpopular school for its neighborhood (about 23% of neighborhood students go there) and has a very unique focus for its academics. It is also underenrolled. Neighborhood parents who enrolled their students there a couple of years back were rebuffed by the principal and staff in their efforts to bring a wider range of experiences to the students.
I think this might not be an issue if (1) we didn't have capacity issues that mean these schools should be full (Hale is not by choice but with a new building and a new SAP they likely will be and (2) parents seem to be voting with their feet for programs they like and want.
Some of you may not know this but Hale is part of a national group of schools called Coalition of Essential Schools (Eckstein is as well but not to the degree that Hale is; don't know of others in SPS). It an organization based on some key principles like smaller personalized learning, inclusiveness, goals apply to all students, etc. It's good but there are problems. One, the focus on inclusiveness/depth over coverage is why they don't have many separate AP classes. We could debate whether this is a good thing but in the context of this discussion the issue is that the district supports Honors and AP classes. As well, the smaller learning community that Hale desires also comes in conflict with the fact that taxpayers are paying over $90M (total of all projects there) for a new building to seat 1400 students. As well the CES model talks about no system of credits earned or seat times and both of these things are part of state/district requirements (but Hale does follow these directives).
However, Hale does well on the WASL, it does have a music and drama program (and the drama program certainly is growing) and a mentoring program. It serves over 1000 students. So should it change? Is having a new SAP that would likely force more neighborhood kids there make it change if their program is not what the neighborhood wants?
The district doesn't want cookie cutter schools and so we have evolved many distinct schools, both alternative and regular ed. But, if parents clearly like one model over another, TOPS over Madrona, shouldn't that count especially if the model is successful? Given that Madrona's population is not made up largely of the neighborhood's children (which would signal the desire by the neighborhood for that program), then Madrona's program (and remember Cooper's school got classified as a "program" so it could be closed) should either be moved to a smaller location (if the district thinks it's important to sustain) or closed altogether and something else put in. What do you think would happen if Madrona was a K-8 international school?