Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Equity and Race Work in Seattle Schools Must Continue

I received this press release today (I shortened the message):



Stunned by Superintendents’ Elimination of the Department of Equity, Race and Learning Support --Teachers, Community Groups, Families Coming Together to Formulate a Collective Response and Strategize About How to Carry On With This Crucial Work
Closing the Achievement Gap –the Moral Imperative of Our Time

In response to the new school superintendent, Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson’s abrupt elimination of the Department of Equity, Race and Learning Support, teachers from across the district are coming together with families, and community groups, on Wednesday, May 21st at Alternative School #1 (AS#1) at Pinehurst (11530 12th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98125), 5:00-7:00pm. The purpose of this meeting is two-fold:

1. To honor and celebrate the difficult yet positive work around equity and race that the schools are engaged in, including the efforts of Caprice Hollins, Director of the now defunct Department of Equity, Race and Learning Support. Caprice Hollins and her staff have skillfully, courageously and compassionately encouraged and lead teachers and administrators to critically examine and improve their practice to enhance learning outcomes for all students, and

2. To assess what it means for the schools and the students to be losing this vital source of District leadership and support around racial justice and to bring people together to plan for supporting each other to continue this work.

The Department has provided support through professional development, resources, technical assistance, and a district-wide network of equity teams, in addition to lending credibility and moral support for what can be controversial and emotional work. Leslie Morishita, parent active in the school’s Equity Committee expressed her disappointment at the superintendent’s decision. “...After years of work with the District’s strong support, just as we are gaining some momentum and understanding to improve our school for all the kids, it feels like the District is pulling the rug out from under us. This sudden decision in the absence of genuine community process erodes my trust in this administration.”


BTW, What does the "Equity in Education" mean to you?


anonymous said...

Can someone share exactly what the Office of Race and Equity Relations was responsible for? It's sounds good, but what did they actually do? Specifically. If they were responsible for closing the achievement gap, it appears they didn't get very far.

The few things they did that were publicized seemed almost divisive and some saddened me (like encouraging teachers not acknowledge Thanksgiving in class).

It might help me be sympathetic if I had a list of their accomplishments. For instance, were they responsible for the SE Initiative? What can we look back on that this department did (except make Seattle feel like we are politically correct)

MGR said...

Ad hoc,
I'll get you a list of accomplishments soon. For now I can say that the job of the Director changed over time. Originally, the Department was called "Equity and Race Relations". It was comprised of one Director (Dr. Caprice Hollins) and one admin support position. Much of Dr. Hollins' work is to bring cultural competency training to SPS educators and administrators. Dr. Hollins mediates sensitive incidents between schools and the community.

As the press release states, "The Department has provided support through professional development, resources, technical assistance, and a district-wide network of equity teams, in addition to lending credibility and moral support for what can be controversial and emotional work."

As I write this, I am anticipating an onslaught of negative comments on experiences people have had either at SPS or their place of employment when they've gone through cultural competency training. This is difficult work: to grow to understand and appreciate each other no matter the quality of our shoes. It's not one-size-fits-all and it's not a one-shot deal. It's difficult work and yes, you can feel that its divisive. What is important is that we keep the conversation going.

Have a great day. I'll be back to visit the blog tonight.

For information on cultural competency training visit:

Dorothy Neville said...

Why are you anticipating an onslaught of negative comments? Do you have data to support that assumption?

I have nothing to say positive or negative regarding cultural competency training, having had no direct experience with such.

I would repeat in different words the same question Ad Hoc asks. This department had a goal that is measurable: to reduce the achievement gap. What successes did the department have with this particular goal?

With respect to cultural competency training. what is the goal of such training? Is it measurable? Is the goal directly related to closing the gap? If so, how did it do? How does it do nationwide? Are there studies that show links between cultural competency training and reducing the gap?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Equity in education is almost impossible to define. It certainly isn't equality because you can't give all children the same things. Also because of the vagaries of school funding, school fundraising and differing communities, it would be hard to find an urban district and say, "Yes, everything is equitable in this district."

I have no doubt to the value of doing some eye-opening (and probably painful) work in confronting stereotypes and assumptions that we all carry. (Dr. Hollins was just on KUOW's 10 am hour and said that people have assumptions about all kinds of people; black, white, tall, short. When she got to short, I had to laugh. Randy Newman said it all.)

But I had wondered about how many workshops that staff and teachers could take over the course of any given year.

I think the achievement gap has all sorts of nuances and reasons and that's likely why it is so hard to address.

Dr. Hollins was quite careful not to criticize Dr. G-J in her remarks but she did sound a bit at loose ends.

Anonymous said...

I will say that I think having such a department (on race and equity relations) sends an important message about priorities. I also will say that there have been qualitative and quantitative studies demonstrating that culturally competent teachers are more successful teachers, especially of diverse urban populations.

I will also say that I think Seattle Public Schools has a number of very inequitable policies. Why don't we talk about Rainier Beach? They have the end of this year and two more years to get their numbers up to "normal" or they get shut down. Never mind that many students enter Rainier Beach many grade levels behind their peers. Never mind that there is not enough money for their science classes to run labs. Never mind that someone from the Department of Education is going there to find out what Rainier Beach is doing right. Because their numbers for black students are 10% above the numbers for black students across the nation. Never mind that schools like Roosevelt may do great for most students, but fail their black students and other students of color in large numbers. Never mind that Rainier Beach made great strides in WASL scores last year in areas like math, where many other schools in the district are holding position or backsliding. Rainier Beach is obviously unsuccessful and should be shut down.

anonymous said...

At this point it doesn't really matter how Rainier Beach is serving their students. The fact is that the school is severely under enrolled, with only 320 students housed in a large 1100 kid building. Thats 80 students per grade, and enrollment is steadily declining. This comprehensive HS is considerably smaller than my sons elementary school, Bryant. Caprice Hollins Office of Race and Equity Relations has made no difference in the case of Rainier Beach. She didn't even have anything to do with the SE initiative, which in my opinion has come along way to late to realistically do any good.

To make matters the demographics show that there are enough students in the area closest to Rainier Beach to fill the program - they are just not choosing the school. These families are not as confident in the school as funsizewit is.

You're right the WASL scores at Rainier Beach are slightly higher among black students, but my guess would be that it's due to their unintentional small class size of about 12 kids per class. If Roosevelt had 12 kids per class instead of stuffing in almost 35 kids per class, I'm sure their WASL scores would up too.

MGR said...

I don't recall that the Department of Equity and Race Relations had the responsibility for closing the achievement gap. Was that stated on the SPS website or somewhere? The three task forces that have formed to close the achievement gap since 1986 recommended that there be a person put in charge of Equity. It was part of a list of other recommendations. As a member of the 3rd task force we never saw this as the silver bullet to closing the achievement gap. In 1999 the District set the goal of eliminating the achievement gap in eight years. We've had the Department of Equity and Race Relations for less than three years. Are any other departments responsible for closing the achievement gap? What isn't Teaching and Learning responsible for closing the achievement gap?

According to Wikipedia, cultural competence "refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. Cultural competence is comprised of four components: (a) Awareness of one's own cultural worldview, (b) Attitude towards cultural differences, (c) Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (d) cross-cultural Skills. Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures."

"Cultures" is not just race and ethnicity. It also includes gender, age, physical size, socio-economic class, sexual orientation, language, education, gender expression, religion, national origin and physical/developmental ability.

We are complex human beings with unique stories to tell about our families, how we got here, our abilities and the experiences we've had on our journey through life.

I think you can see where I'm going here. ---You can't measure this work. What we can quantify is that our educators are asking for this work to continue. They do not want the 'rug pulled out from under them'. This training is currently not available at the UW College of Education or other four year colleges that prepare teachers for urban schools with diverse student populations.

Doesn't this type of training exist in your workplace? I've worked in the public sector for over 25 years, I went to my first “Cultural Diversity” training at the UW in 1983. Since then we've had Valuing Diversity, Diversity Management, Cultural Change, Communication Training, Undoing Institutional Racism, and Cultural Competency training. Just today I had the good fortune of attending a great workshop on “ Exploring Privilege and Oppression and its impact on workplace effectiveness”. I got a better understanding of how privilege and oppression impacts my work. The City of Seattle has a strong Social Justice agenda and Ron Sims kicked off his Race and Social Justice agenda for King County.

I'll write on “Equity in Education” next time.

dan dempsey said...

This says it ALL.

When a School District uses the worse methodologies to serve children from disadvantaged backgrounds, there is NO EXCUSE.

This equity issue boils down to lack of equity because of continuing administrative incompetence at multiple levels.

anonyms said...

Excellent idea. Let's close Ranier Beach!!!! Now that's innovative thinking. We don't need that irritating Caprice Hollice or any focus on equity. We're all equitable aren't we? Nobody's choosing Ranier Beach, so close it. And where will send the 230 students? Hmmmm. How about Roosevelt? What, not there? Ok, let's close Ranier Beach, change the name, and open it back up. (We still need the building, don't we? And it has a great view.) We could name the closed and reopened building: Roosevelt2... or maybe Garfield2. Now, that will make it truly excellent.

Jet City mom said...

Equity in education means equal access to programs
equal consideration when hiring
appropriate expectations and supports for students and families including after school tutoring- translators ( including ASL which I have never seen at any school or district function)

When considering groups that may need extra support I do not consider ethnic or racial minorities in a vacuum. Physical & learning differences, economic differences, differences in sexual orientation, and in educational background of parents all impact the students ability to be ready to learn and their ability to communicate with the schools

anonymous said...

"What we can quantify is that our educators are asking for this work to continue."

Dr. GJ made it clear that the work of the Office of Race and Equity will continue, but will be handled by different departments? She never said that cultural training would stop, nor did she say anything else that the Office was responsible for would stop (though I still can't figure out what they were responsible for aside from the training)

On the topic of Ranier Beach -
Yes, I think the school should be closed and re-opened with a new program that the SE community will be attracted to. When a school is consistently failing and/or not being chosen by families we need to find out why. Why are 800 families willing to put their kids on a metro bus to go to a HS out of their neighborhood and sometimes across town, just to avoid Rainier Beach? Talk about equity. Where is the equity for the 800 families, most of whom are families of color?

I believe that all kids should have access to great schools, and that is not happening in SE Seattle. I believe it is the district's responsibility to fix that, and not continue to turn the other cheek and let RB limp along. I think that the district needs to do some outreach in the SE community and find out what this community wants in a school. And then provide it. Close RB down and re-open it using the information gathered....maybe an IB program, a language immersion program, a math and science focus, whatever.

I also believe that schools like (white) north end Summit, which is also severely under enrolled, with well below average academic performance should be closed. The North end needs capacity, and that building should be used to house a new thriving program instead of continuing to allow a failing, under enrolled program to limp along year after year.

Just my opinion.

Dorothy Neville said...

Summit is 51% white, 58% FRL and its value-added scores were better than the district average. It also, like many schools, has suffered from too much principal turnover.

I agree it ought to move, but the program be closed?

Back on topic, I believe the department's title included Learning Support. All departments, especially one with the words Equity and Learning Support in its title ought to be concerned with the achievement gap.

I'd think that competency training in the workplace would have measurable goals. (At the very least, I'd assume there are differences between organizations that provide such training. Shouldn't there be some way to determine what types of Cultural Competency Training are most effective?)

Does it lead to more effective interactions, a more effective workplace? For the school district that would translate into better outcomes for kids (which is measurable) and/or a better workplace environment for employees, which is measurable as well (measure turnover, reasons for quitting, surveys of employee morale etc).

Maria, you said you would report back with a list of accomplishments. I am looking forward to seeing this. Thanks.

blunt instrument said...

"Never mind that schools like Roosevelt may do great for most students, but fail their black students and other students of color in large numbers."

What is this statement supposed to mean?

reader said...

Ranier Beach's enrollment will be improved when they ASSIGN students there. And lots of them. It WILL improve the school. The writing is on the wall.

MGR said...

"Learning Support" was added after the Santorno re-org. Yes, ALL departments in SPS should be focused on the gap.

I'll work on putting together some of the accomplishments I am aware of. I was in much closer contact when the Department was just set up. I can speak about some of the work of the department based on what I observed. I hope to have examples of Equity work from others--especially from the teachers.

Class of 75--I think you're getting closer to the definition. I can see and feel what it looks like. One example is Gender Equity. What would that look like?

Have any of you googled "Equity in Education"?

anonymous said...

Reader, what makes you think the district will be "assigning" kids to Rainier Beach? The new assignment plan offers predictability and guaranteed access to ones neighborhood school. It does not eliminate choice. Students can still choose to attend any school in the district as long as their is space. Why would the families that are not choosing Rainier Beach now choose it when the new assignment plan is in effect, since they will still have choice?

anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me what this department was responsible for? And what some of their accomplishments have been, aside from equity training? If equity training was all they did, then Dr G-J was right to dismantle this office. You don't need an entire department and director dedicated to one task.

anonymous said...

"schools like Roosevelt may do great for most students, but fail their black students and other students of color in large numbers."

I hear these types of accusations and broad generalizations all the time, and am always curious as to how someone could make such an accusation without one ounce of data to back them up. I am interested to hear funsizewit's data to support her statement "Roosevelt is failing students of color in large numbers"? What specifically is Roosevelt doing to cause black kids to fail? Why are they doing it? Are they doing something differently with black students vs. white students? If so, what? Is your accusation based purely on test scores? If so, that's odd, as the WASL is a state standardized test that these students would have to take whether they were at Roosevelt,Rainier Beach, or anywhere else. Maybe I just don't understand? I have bi-racial children (black/white), and Roosevelt is one of our neighborhood high schools so I am curious to find out specifically what Roosevelt doing to cause kids of color to fail? Funsizewit please explain, and back up with data!

It really creeps me out when people make ugly generalizations like this with absolutely no argument or data to back them up. So, here's your chance funsizewit....back it up.

x said...

Actually, it is you who refuse to look at any data.

22% blacks pass math. Read it as: 78% of black students at Roosevelt FAILED and won't graduate. Ohhhh.... so creepy!

x said...

Ooops. The data was slightly off. 27% black students at Roosevelt pass math. Go Roosevelt!36% blacks students pass at Ranier Beach. So if we're closing Ranier Beach, we'll need to close Roosevelt too.

reader said...

Reader, what makes you think the district will be "assigning" kids to Rainier Beach? The new assignment plan offers predictability and guaranteed access to ones neighborhood school. It does not eliminate choice.

You can't have both predictability for everyone AND unlimited choice. If everyone had predictability (a guaranteed spot) at a relatively nearby school, then many others won't have the choice to go there. It seems blatantly obvious that schools with gross underenrollment WILL get filled up. People who exercise their guaranteed spot (and they're complaining because they're not getting into the neighborhood schools)... will be causing less choice for some others who have guaranteed spots somewhere else.... like Ranier Beach.

Maureen said...

You should realize that we are talking about 35 kids at Roosevelt (go to x's link and choose 'detail' instead of 'trend').

Part of this is a small numbers problem. With a small sample size, scores can vary widely from year to year. In 05-06 37.5% of the black kids at Roosevelt passed math while it was 22% at RB (41 kids)).

I'm not trying to minimize RB's improvement, but one year's data on such a small group is close to meaningless. (And I do expect the small class size at RB must have some impact on the scores)

anonymous said...

Reader I disagree with your theory. There are a handful of very popular schools in the district that will not be able to accomodate anyone that is not in their immediate neighborhood, but the vast amount of schools will be able to.

Up north with the exception of Laurelhurst, View Ridge, Bryant, Wedgewood, John Rogers, Sacajewea and Whittier almost all elementary schools have space to accomodate out of neighborhood kids. Eckstein, Salmon Bay, Washington and TOPS do not have any excess space but Hamilton does as well as Whitman, Summit, Meany, McClure, Denny, Orca, Broadview Thompson, AS1, Blaine, AAA, and Madrona. And as for high schools, yes Roosevelt is full and so is Garfield and Ballard. But there is plenty of space at Hale, Ingraham, Nova, Sealth, Cleveland, Franklin and Summit.

That leaves a whole lot of choice for kids wanting to avoid Rainier Beach, or any other school for that matter.

blunt instrument said...

x, first, I agree that sample size matters, as Maureen pointed out. Second, according to even the sample you referred to, Roosevelt was doing better than the district as a whole. This district has operated on petty resentments for so long. Why the gratuitous slam on Roosevelt?

anonymous said...

X, why do you think Roosevelt is full to capacity with the largest wait list in the district? Why do you think Rainier Beach is severely under enrolled?

Just curious to hear your take on it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Roosevelt and Eckstein, despite good overall WASL scores, do not score as well with blacks. I remember every year when Marni Campbell was principal at Eckstein, she stated this plainly at our PTA meetings and talked about how to bring the number up.

Roosevelt is well aware of their numbers. I'd have to e-mail the counselors for more specifics but I do know they offer math tutoring after school for whomever shows up and as well at WASL time, offer Saturday math/writing tutoring.

I would agree; just changing the assignment plan is not going to fill Cleveland and Rainier Beach, not when there are other choices. It could help. I think so much hinges on parents willing to believe in the SE Initiative. But I don't know about the outreach being done by the district to parents in the SE to make them aware of it and be willing to take a leap of faith.

I think unless something changes in the next two years, we will see a few more schools close (Dr. G-J has already alluded to this). Rainier Beach might be one of them.

x said...

X,[] why do you think Rainier Beach is severely under enrolled?

Racism + Choice. Repeated year after year.

blunt instrument said...

"Racism + Choice. Repeated year after year."

So, the parents of black kids who live near RB are racists if they choose to send their kids elsewhere?

The parents of white kids who live near RB are racists if they choose to send their kids elsewhere?

The parents of black kids who live anywhere and don't choose to send their kids to RB are racists?

The parents of white kids who live anywhere and don't choose to send their kids to RB are racists?

And we don't even want to get you started on the racists who aren't white or black.

Because really, if almost everyone weren't racist, almost everyone would want to go to RB?

Is this really your argument, x?

reader said...

There are a handful of very popular schools in the district that will not be able to accomodate anyone that is not in their immediate neighborhood, but the vast amount of schools will be able to.

That's not really true at the high school level which was the subject of the discussion. Every year it's an issue at Roosevelt. If everyone closest to Roosevelt got in, that would leave little for anyone else. What about Magnolia/QA? No high school, and those students will get a guaranteed seat somewhere nearby. A guaranteed seat for Magnolia residents at Cleveland High School will simply not fly. Of course, Ballard is the most obvious proximal choice. Garfield is also full with a waiting list. All the popular schools are the ones with no predictability for their neighborhoods. If that predictability were gone.... well, so would the extra seats. Not to mention, if people could get into the popular schools, some would forgo private schools, putting even more pressure on the "extra seats".

Soooooo, if you didn't like your low performing guaranteed spot at RB... you could choose another low performing choice at Sealth or Cleveland... or a slightly "better" maybe choice at Franklin... or an out of the way, long transit, so-so to good (depending on your values) seat at Ingraham or Nathan Hale.

It seems obvious, that's not much of a choice, and people would stay at RB. There's no magic. If you have guaranteed seats, that will restrict choice at popular schools.

anonymous said...

x, I think you are just trying to get people worked up. You post outrageous and inflammatory comments, and then despite people asking you to defend your positions and statements you just won't.

Melissa, I don't know how many parents are willing to take a leap of faith and give RB a try at this point. Harium Martin-Morris has said that the SE initiative has not been fully funded and some of the components will not be fulfilled. It's already the end of year one, and we've yet to see anything happen. And even with the SE initiative, if RB does not increase their population, and bring up their performance, I fear that this school would be in danger of being closed. What parent wants to take that gamble?

anonymous said...

Reader says "Soooooo, if you didn't like your low performing guaranteed spot at RB... you could choose another low performing choice at Sealth or Cleveland... or a slightly "better" maybe choice at Franklin... or an out of the way, long transit, so-so to good (depending on your values) seat at Ingraham or Nathan Hale."

The scenario you describe above with the new assignment plan is absolutely no different than what is happening right now with the current choice plan. The same people who are avoiding RB now by utilizing the options that you describe above will do so with the new plan too. There will be no mass of students miraculously lining up to enroll in RB.

Currently kids that live closest to RB do not get into Roosevelt nor will they get in under the new plan. They are not loosing the option of getting assigned to Roosevelt because they never had that option to begin with. But hey, Roosevelt is in my neighborhood school. I live 2.2 miles away from the school and my kids can't even get in.

Families that live closest to RB. will still have the same choices that they have now which are obviously enough to make them avoid RB like the plague.

anonymous said...

Just to continue on my thoughts above....Truly there are only 3 high schools that are over enrolled in the ENTIRE district. They are Roosevelt, Ballard and Garfield. All of the other schools, including some pretty high performing schools like Nova, Center school, Hale, Ingraham IB, Sealth IB have plenty of space, and welcome many out of neighborhood kids. Choice will still be there for those who want it.

reader said...

Truly, Ad_Hoc that is wrong that there are only 3 schools with a waiting list. West Seattle High has a waiting list. Center School has a waiting list also (though not listed accurately on some charts). I'm not sure about Nova, but certainly it doesn't seat many. So schools with no waiting list are: Franklin, Ingraham, Nathan Hall, Sealth.

So, 3 or 4 full service high schools with no seats.... well, that's a lot... and adding "predictability"... well that will mean even less. And it adds up to reduced choice seating.

But hey, your kid will get in to Roosevelt! Good for you.

x said...

Saying racism keeps people out of Ranier Beach, "gets people worked up"? How can something so obviously true, "work people up", unless they are already in complete denial? Perhaps it was the the simple form of the explanation that is troubling.

Look at it this way. Lots of people harbor at least a little doubt about sending their kids to school with too many black kids. Then, they see that the WASL score performance is strongly related to race, and that fuels their skepticism, even when they say they don't care about WASL. So a few of them, decide to go somewhere besides Ranier Beach. After a few years, there are no white kids left going to Ranier Beach, and fewer kids of all races. Nobody wants to be "the only one." Then there's not enough enrollment or funding to have all the offerings to a wide range of students. And it just spirals from there.

anonymous said...

X, thank you for explaining your point of view.

I have to say that I agree with much of what you said. Even though most people want and value diversity, people tend to be more comfortable around people like themselves, or at least where there are some others like themselves. I don't necessarily think this is a racist thing, rather more of a human thing. The human need of feeling accepted and feeling like you belong. This is true not only for race, but for socio economic status, and many other separators.

The same applies to the black community in regards to APP at Lowell. Many black families don't want to go to what is perceived to be an all white program, so they choose not to send their kids there. Then the next black family comes along, and they don't want their kid to be the only one, and understandably they don't choose it either. You are right, it is a spiral, and race does play a big part.

Again, thank you for sharing your point of view.

anonymous said...

Reader - Center School, West Seattle do get a small wait list some years, but they always move the entire list. Nova has made a commitment to take all of the students that apply. It is their philosophy to accomodate everyone who is interested in their program, and are committed to doing what is necessary to make room for extra kids if need be (which they have not had to do thus far).

All of the other high schools have plenty of space, with the exception of the three school that I mentioned.

If students living closest to RB have choice of all but three high schools in the district, and RB is not performing well, and in danger of being closed for under enrollment, families are not going to voluntarily choose it. Why would they?

By the way my kids don't get into Roosevelt - we live over 2 and a half miles away from the school, which makes us over the 2.2 mile distance radius of kids who got in this year.

We don't utilize Seattle choice at all. We send our kid to a Shoreline MS, and will likely keep him in Shoreline for HS.

x said...

Yes, people "like" diversity, but really, they only like diversity if there are lots and lots and lots of white people.

Are we going to close Cleveland too? Only a very few more students chose Cleveland than Ranier Beach. It's a "step 3" failing school under NCLB.

What about Thurgood Marshall, Leshi, Madrona, High Point, TT Minor? Hardly anyone is selecting those. Should they be closed too?

What do all these schools have in common? They are black schools, underenrolled. And that happened because they are black and people have choice. But the other (whiter) schools aren't really serving black students any better than the schools people so love to hate, under the guise of "WASL", instead of race of course.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, High Point was joined by Fairmount Park students (Fairmount Park was closed). So they are in the midst of change so I'm not sure it's fair to single them out.

X I recognize your right to your opinion but I don't believe that white people only want "token" diversity. I think that a generalization that you have chosen to use. I know schools that have fought/are fighting to keep their diversity (like Roosevelt and Center School).

I would want to know what you think a "white" school should do for black students. Would offering something different to black students not be somewhat offensive when help should be offered to all struggling students.

I think, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that black families hurt their neighborhood schools by fleeing them. However, you think they are under a false impression that their students will do better in a "white" school because these schools are not proving to do better with black students. I know that parents don't always make decisions based on academics; I know sometimes it's about safety or other activities or the ability to get yellow bus to school. When the high schools go to all-Metro, then you might see some students coming closer to home because of the difficulties in using Metro to travel further away.

x said...

I'm not commenting on what "white" schools could do better for black students, because I don't really know. I'm simply pointing out that it is almost assuredly the case that the so-called "bad" black schools, aren't really any worse than any others. Once enrollment at a high school has gotten so low, then yes, there aren't many opportunities of any sort. Re-opening the schools with some new name, or flavor, won't help since clearly public schools haven't demonstrated any competence with anything that works appreciatively better. The basic forces are still operational. And closing them and shipping all the students somewhere else would be grossly inequitable, because that would be giving in to those who flee because of race and choice. And the district is obligated not to bend on issues like this, regardless of pressure.

anonymous said...

So, X, if black schools are not effective at serving black kids, and white schools are no more effective at serving black kids, then what do you see as a solution?

x said...

Nobody has yet found a solution for the achievement gap, at least on any decent scale, and for the whole age range of students, certainly not me. Ranier Beach is making strides to do that, despite many odds against them. It seems pretty obvious that closing schools like Ranier Beach is a feel good solution that will accomplish nothing.

LouiseM said...

X said "Nobody has yet found a solution for the achievement gap, at least on any decent scale.."

I definitely understand your frustration and I would encourage you and others to visit Education Trust ( http://www.edtrust.org and look at their compelling data around school districts that effectively education Black and Latino students. Not just individual schools, but entire districts.

The Ed Trust folks spend their entire lives collecting and analyzing education data and they have dispelled a lot of myths.

Basically what it comes down to is leadership and talent. The Ed Trust folks say that districts and schools that are successful don't get lost in the red herring idea that they should also be worrying about poverty, single parent homes, and all the other issues that shape a kids life. They focus on what they can do and they do a darn good job at it.

Anyway, our district is located in a city with more resources than most. It's just up to the leadership to do the job right. Maybe MGJ is the one to lead Seattle Schools in the right direction.