As I have often said (and found), when you starting looking for one thing, you often find another.
I wanted to see what might be being said at different middle schools about overcrowding. I found various things but it was what I found being said about other issues that was interesting.
One thing I notice is that many middle schools seem to assume in their newsletters/updates that all parents know everyone who works in the school/PTA. I was the editor for the Eckstein PTA newsletter and I quickly realized that making assumptions about what parents do and do not know is a bad idea.
One, because it isn't true that everyone is up-to-speed on how things work for any given program/activity at school.
Two, it can lead to shutting people out because they feel dumb/frustrated for asking questions.
For example, Middle School X (I'll use no name to protect the innocent although you could probably figure it out) is having a musical. Great. But one thing I notice is that the notice about the musical has some troubling aspects.
First, it assumes that you know who the two musical coordinators are. It asks that if you have worked with them before (and I don't know if this is through another school musical or through some other performance group), your child has to try out in a different way than anyone who doesn't know them.
Is that because they already know your child's abilities? Is that fair to assume they know your child's current ability based on past experience? What if your child has practiced or improved?
Two, you have to bring your own sheet music in the key "you wish to sing in." It also states they will have an accompanist or "you can bring your own." You cannot sing a cappella.
Folks, most people don't know what key they sing in so buying sheet music in your key would be a challenge. And that's an interesting assumption that you have done this before, that mom or dad is ready to go buy you sheet music and that you would even have your own accompanist.
Not being able to sing a cappella means you must bring in sheet music. You should not have to spend money to audition for a school musical.
If this was inclusive, they would say everyone auditions the same way and even if they don't want a capella singing, then they will provide 5 songs (that people can look at in advance) and pick one.
Look, this may all be reasonable but on paper, it looks clubby and if you haven't been in the club, there may be barriers to getting in.
So then I go to Middle School Y, where I find an interesting (and lengthy) ode to Maria Goodloe-Johnson in the principal's remarks. He went on then to talk about the overcrowding including opening the "haunted bathroom" (a rumor kids had as to why it was never used). And yet this is a middle school that goes about its business and has never had the high volume about overcrowding that Eckstein has.
I will call out Hamilton Middle School because they violated the law in telling parents to vote yes for the levies. This was on the district-sponsored website under "PTA News". It is not legal for the district to have that kind of statement on a district website nor is a PTA allowed to tell/suggest to parents how to vote. The PTA did say they had endorsed the levies which is perfectly fine but they were wrong to headline it with Vote YES!
It is quite astonishing to see the difference in websites, offerings and information. It is also incredibly hard sometimes to find basic info like how to contact the PTA, the principal, the attendance office. I wish either the Seattle Council PTSA and/or the district could tell schools that they must ALL have basic information on their homepage and then they can do whatever they want. No parent should have to be a detective to find out basic information about their child's school.