I truly dislike that the district - and many school boards - like to start programs that they have no idea how to continually fund.
I'd have to claw back in my memory but my first thought is John Stanford International School. Started in memory of our late superintendent - it was his idea - it has been packing them in ever since the day they opened their doors. But, there were two issues - one, the money that is needed for a decent dual language program and two, expanding a popular program if only for equity reasons.
But JSIS carried on, greatly and mightily, supported by the parents who loved the program. I would go so far as to say JSIS might not exist (or be a shadow of a program) if not for the (now) millions that parents poured into that building.
There had always been a plan to scale this out and up because, as we all know, kids do age out of K-5 and then what? So the program expanded to middle and high school (albeit in a "world school" fashion rather than immersion.) The immersion program expanded to more elementaries throughout the district.
(And I'll pause here to point out that in other states, this kind of program generally happens with charter schools. But our district proves that you can innovate without charters.)
One of the main issues for a K-5 dual language program is having two adults in the classroom to get all those little people thinking and speaking in another language. That means a teacher and an instructional aide. For the dual language schools that are Title One, they can fund that IA using those funds. But for those non-Title One schools, the parents bear that cost. I myself understand that it's cheaper than enrolling your child in a private dual language school (but I don't even know how many of them there are in our city) but it's still a lot of money to donate every - single - year.
In yet another important move, the district then decided to start an International Baccalaureate program at Ingraham High and it was successful. But I recall a parent whose son was in the program, telling me how hard the IB coordinator had to work with no help because of the strict requirements of the program. And how the principal (that would be Martin Floe) had to figure out how to fund that position because, of course, the district wasn't.
That gets us to today and the Times article which says this.
Despite the challenge, educators insist that more students doing advanced level work - even if they do not pass end-of-course IB exams - lifts the entire schools. And their approach appears to be working. Enrollment has grown steadily, and graduation rates are soaring. Last June, 84% of seniors left with a diploma, an enormous leap from the 53.7% five years ago.Luckily, Senator Pramila Jaypal is trying to find state funds to help RBHS but that is really just a short-term solution. Parents at Beach, unlike those at Chief Sealth and Ingraham, cannot raise the funds to support the program. (And again, it's a hardship for those at Sealth and Ingraham as well.)
Yet IB at Beach is not funded past next year.
The Times reports that 117 juniors and seniors are saying they will take the IB tests this coming spring, up 26 kids from last year. A whopping 39 kids are trying for the complete IB diploma.
I would venture this is very much the kind of progress for mostly African-American students that the district is aiming for. Why not fully fund RBHS's IB program with these kinds of results?
I think as the budgeting process goes forward for next year's SPS budget, these kinds of programs should receive more consideration especially if they are helping low-income, at-risk students.
Naturally, if the state would fully-fund education, we wouldn't have so many opportunities for these kind's of Sophie's choice decisions.