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Monday, October 16, 2006

Protest Scheduled for Wednesday

I've gotten three notices about demonstrations and protests for Wednesday which I'm publishing below.

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On Wednesday October 18, the SPS district administration will present its phase II school closure proposal. Several groups will be converging on the Stanford building to voice opposition to the closure plan. The Superintendent's plans to close and consolidate schools are ill conceived, destructive, racist, and illegitimate! The process must be stopped in its tracks and reconsidered until proposals can be rendered that are transparent, equitable, beneficial to student learning and supportive rather than destructive of school communities. These ill conceived plans are already destabilizing school communities and distracting families and teachers from their important work. It is not enough for communities to work to save their particular schools, every community that has found itself on the closure list has tried the same tactics, they lobby and negotiate, plead and sometimes demonstrate.

Some have had success but only at the expense of some other school, others have not been heard. We must advocate for all schools and demand equity.

Washington State has three times rejected charter schools, yet there are indications that the current destabilization and closure of public schools may be in preparation for what the district refers to as "public/private partnerships" which are in-effect charter schools. The process of planning for the Seattle Public School district has not been transparent, is unduly influenced by business interests and has still not involved authentic community engagement. While the district plans closures, they are proposing to spend $40,000.00 on a study of the top 110 administrative positions in order to increase their wages. The last time that happened, it was followed by staff layoffs and cutbacks of custodian shifts.

I think it is time to raise all of our concerns for public education in Seattle at the same time and demand accountability of the board of directors now! They are evaluating the Superintendent and choosing a new board president. Cheryl Chow is lobbying for president and Darlene Flynn is lobbying for vice president. These board members promised us change in a district with some great schools and staff, but with a failed administration. We must demand equity, transparency, democracy in our public school district! All of us and for every issue that we advocate for - all of the issues are dependent on an atmosphere of competency and public trust.

Join in to create a critical mass to demand change. There will be a group there that are circulating a petition to recall the board members who voted for closures-the same directors who support the superintendent and allow institutionalized racism to continue unchecked in the district. Join us at 4pm, bring lunch, bring signs and voices. Stop School Closures!

Maggie Metcalfe

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Dear Friends and Concerned Supporters of Seattle Public Schools:

Below is an announcement for a demonstration -- A Day Of Solidarity -- to show opposition to the district's closure and consolidation plan and its continued lack of a comprehensive, transparent, and effective strategy to deliver on the plan's promise to improve the quality of all of our children's education while better managing our resources. All on this list most certainly still stand to be affected by the district's ill-conceived, backwards plan. Be assured, this plan does not stop at Phase II: there will be at least two more phases. School communities which feel that they have successfully negotiated their way off a list will find themselves battling again, only this time, with closures and forced consolidations already in full swing, tactics which previously worked will be useless.

Schools with active communities, strong programs, clarified statistics (compared to district information) and better solutions (than the district's recommendations) have fought flawlessly only to see the district close the doors on their buidings and programs. None of us are immune.

We need to come together as an entire community of district patrons and supporters and demand an end to this unsuccessful, devisive plan. Only then can we help to map a new direction, one that addresses systemic changes first, before considering the need and scope of closures, one which can truly make better use of our resources, enagage school communities in real and genuine discussions to find acceptable solutions to capacity and building condition concerns, a direction which actually promises -- genuinely and transparently -- to deliver a better education for all of our students.

It is no longer acceptable to go along with the wrong plan simply because "something must be done." It is never the right time to do the wrong thing. At one point or another, every single person on this list has rallied against this very plan. Some have seen no reprive, while others have lived to last another school year. It's time to stand together one more time to demand a better deal for all Seattle Public School students and communities.

Please turn out en masse on Wednesday, October 18, starting at four o'clock p.m. to stand in solidarity with those communities which are already suffering what we've all testified to be our own worse outcome. We ask nothing more than you have once asked of us.

With respect and sincerity,
Dan Landers

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Seattle School Closures Protest

IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO STOP CLOSURES & CONSOLIDATIONS!

Show up in solidarity!

Who : EVERYONE who cares about Seattle school children.
What : A public showing of solidarity against the Phase I and Phase II Closures and Consolidations and protest at the Board Meeting.
When : This Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 – Board meeting begins at 6pm. Show up early 4:30.

There will be a protest after public testimony and break. Protest begins roughly at 7:45.

Where : Stanford Center
2445 Third Avenue S (at Lander)
Seattle, WA 98124-1165
How : Organizers will indicate the start time.

Protest WILL BE PEACEFUL.

Bring signs, shirts, and sustenance.

YOUR attendance is crucial – mass numbers are critical – gather any friends and family that you can!

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I have mixed feelings about the demonstration and protest because, while I believe some school closures make sense from a financial and management perspective, the process has been horrible. I want to protest lack of district vision. I want to protest inept leadership and a dysfunctional school district culture. I want to protest truly awful communication and community involvement efforts. And I do believe the Phase II recommendations should be dropped, both because the process was closed with an unrealistically short timeline, and because the specific recommendations don't make any sense. All three recommendations in Phase II would require students being housed in portables and the abdication of the goal of smaller class sizes for K-2, as stated in the CACIEE recommendations.

But I'm concerned that if we erase all the Phase I closures the district will be in a worse place, both financially and in terms of public and political opinion of district management, than if we let the Phase I closures move forward.

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