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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Raj's Latest Attempt at "Clarifying" the Pathfinder/Cooper Recommendation

Today, after two weeks of delay and promises from the district for clarification of Raj's remarks at the 9/20 School Board meeting, this letter was posted on the district website, and will be sent home by kid-mail today.

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To the Communities of Cooper and Pathfinder:

On September 18, 2006, I made a Preliminary Recommendation for Phase II of school consolidations and closures. This included the recommendation to close the Genesee Hill building where Pathfinder is now located and to move the Pathfinder students to Cooper; and for both schools to collaborate to create a strong alternative K-8 program that will integrate and serve the needs of students from both programs.

We realize that many people have read the recommendation to mean that the Pathfinder program will move intact into the Cooper building and that if Cooper students chose to stay they would be welcome. That is not our intention. We want to be very clear about what this recommendation means:

The Cooper and Pathfinder communities will work together to create an expanded the vision of an alternative school inclusive of Pathfinder and Cooper’s successful programs. We recognize that students from both schools will bring unique gifts and create opportunities to enhance the program. We expect that the planning committee, which will include representatives of both schools, will look at student needs, and, using best practices, develop programming that will best serve the needs of all students.

Principal Dockendorf and Principal Rutherford will be working closely together to ensure that this transition goes as smoothly as possible. This includes developing activities that will allow students and families to get to know each other. I will be asking each of them to appoint members to the “planning committee” that includes parents and teachers. This planning committee will work together to develop the concept of the school.

It is our goal that all Cooper and all Pathfinder students will find that the renewed alternative program meets their needs, and that current students in both programs will wish to stay in the school. We have a unique opportunity to create a truly diverse school that can meet the needs of all students, and we look forward to helping you make that dream a reality.

Timeline:
September 18 Superintendent’s Preliminary Recommendations to the School Board
September 21 Public Hearing at JSCEE-6:00 pm
October 10 Site based hearing at Genesee Hill for Pathfinder & Cooper –6:30 pm
October 18 Superintendent’s Final Recommendations to the School Board
October 24 Final public hearing at JSCEE –6:00 pm
November 1 School Board vote on Final Recommendations


Sincerely,
Raj Manhas, Superintendent

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So much could be said about this, but for now I want Raj's words to speak for themselves.

From 9/18 recommendation:

The other recommendation is to close the Genesee Hill building and relocate the Pathfinder K-8 program to Cooper Elementary School and incorporate all Cooper students who wish to stay and become Pathfinder K-8 students.

...We hope the infusion of a K-8 expeditionary learning-focused program into Cooper school would be an attractive option for Cooper families, and we encourage all Cooper students to remain there and benefit from the Pathfinder program

From 10/5 "clarification" letter:

We realize that many people have read the recommendation to mean that the Pathfinder program will move intact into the Cooper building and that if Cooper students chose to stay they would be welcome. That is not our intention.

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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This has me furious! Nice clarification - still makes no sense and has me scared we are going to lose our staff from Pathfinder. I feel for the Cooper community, too - I don't like the idea of my child having to get used to new staff or surroundings, either. I want Pathfinder to stay intact, as an alternative program, with our people, and I don't care right now where we are, as long as we are together!! I personally commute 24 miles each day so my son can go to Pathfinder if I wanted a traditional school I could send him 1 mile down the road. Leave our program alone!!!!

Anonymous said...

Shall I be the first to note that even after 2 and a half weeks, that the letter still contains typos/errors? My 2nd grade teacher would be appalled - the switch in person from "I" to "We" (who is we, anyhow? this is a letter from one person), the extra "the" in the third paragraph, and a few questionable uses of punctuation. I realize that this is not the issue, but it points to an administration in turmoil.

Anonymous said...

Where is this on the district website?

Beth Bakeman said...

It's posted at: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/06consolidation/letters/lettertofamilies_english.pdf.

I know URLs don't post well in the comments, so I'll also place this link in the article.

Anonymous said...

When the District did a national search for a Superintendent three years ago, the Board said that they were looking for a communicator, an educator, and an effective administrator who had a Vision. After their national search blew up in their face because their consultant didn't google the applicants, they hired Raj Manhas. That Board was voted out of office three weeks later, but Raj Manhas is still the Superintendent despite the fact that he is no communicator, not an educator, not an effective administrator and lacks Vision.

Beth Bakeman said...

I couldn't agree more, Charlie.

Raj needs to go. And the Board members need to hear clearly that if they continue to support Raj, we will not re-elect them.

Anonymous said...

This is so unacceptable. There was no misreading what was originally said about this issue. Pathfinder was moving into Cooper and Cooper students were more than welcome to stay. I almost feel guilty; did me (or others) influence this by saying if Cooper closed there would be no reference school in that area? I hope not because it was never my intention for this to happen.

It sounds like they want whatever K-8 the Cooper/Pathfinder merger to be won't be alternative but a traditional K-8. Is Irene Stewart on-board with this? I can't believe she or any on the Board would be if only because it's such a mess. What they are saying is that the two communities should invent a new school out of their programs. That is a huge amount of work for two communities that didn't even ask for it. Pathfinder being an alternative has worked even harder to forge its own identity (as do all alternatives).

There are two ways to send a signal to the Board and Raj. One is to not pass the next levy (or bond as it is in reality) and/or change the Board. This is probably one of Raj's worst decisions and if the Board lets it stand they should be sent a message loud and clear.

By the way, I can watch the Board meeting on tv but what was happening that it had to be adjourned and what was the reaction of the Board?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, don't feel guilty. I agree with eric b that this is an administration in turmoil and I think they don't really know what they are doing at this point. My sense is that they were trying to minimize backlash from any affected groups but instead inflamed it by changing course after publishing the recommendation and then not coming clean with the change in direction, instead blaming all of us who "misunderstood" the initial proposal. In the clarification letter, it does say that a new alternative K-8 program will be created, however now Raj has upped the ante by suggesting in today's Seattle Times that Pathfinder's expeditionary learning model and Native American focus are up for grabs (these are, by the way, cornerstones of the program).

I hope anyone who cares about how our schools are managed will stand up and reject this entire Phase 2 proposal. It's a mess and so poorly thought out that it's almost scary.

Regarding the board meeting, you really need to watch it to understand the full impact. The Seattle Times reported on it briefly yesterday: http://tinyurl.com/ea35v

Anonymous said...

Sorryy - one more comment... from Raj's letter: "We have a unique opportunity to create a truly diverse school that can meet the needs of all students, and we look forward to helping you make that dream a reality."

Whose dream is this anyway?