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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Working Together -- Thinking Ahead

One thing that the repeated series of closure proposals over the past several years has done is to inform us a bit better each time of what is out there in the world of Seattle Public Schools. It isn't always pretty, certainly, but when you get past the numbers, it has been pretty interesting to learn that nearly every school has a beating heart and some important stories to tell.

Communities and Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (CPPS) wants to capitalize on this asset -- that every school/neighborhood commmunity has something to offer -- and on the fact that parents working together can show the district a thing or two.

It is one of CPPS’ bigger aims: changing the nature of the conversations between parents and school communities and school board/district personnel. CPPS sees the closure process as offering an important opportunity to bring parents together to define and call for “quality neighborhood schools,” and to address the current issues of capacity-student assignment-rigor in a holistic way.

We are presenting a series of community conversations in the most impacted regions, focused NOT around individual concerns to “save my school” but rather around what we can do in our communities to call for and ensure SPS actions that give parents the quality schools they want.

Central workshop:
Monday, Dec. 8th, 7pm at Washington MS

South/Southeast workshop:
Tuesday, Dec. 9th, 7pm at Mercer MS (probably)

West Seattle workshop:
Thursday, Dec. 11th, 7pm, location TBD

We are working with the school board directors from these areas to offer a program that is about thoughtful, community-led problem solving to provide the directors with opportunity to listen better and engage with parents who’ll be both directly and indirectly affected by closure plans.

Our goals for these meetings are:

-To begin a conversation that goes beyond looking at schools or programs on the list and focuses on how those kids, parents, teachers and programs fit into our community;
-To get people working together across schools to identify parent and community needs, offer solutions, and find resources;
-To help parent voices about educational quality, environment and programs be heard; and
-To begin to address transitional needs of parents and students who will be affected.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to stephaniej@cppsofseattle.org or kerry@cppsofseattle.org. We are seeking 2-4 participants from each school community for balanced participation.

We'll keep you posted,
Stephanie and Kerry

3 comments:

Sahila said...

I must be crazy asking this - cant keep up with the schedule of meetings as it exists already, but....

Where is the meeting for north end parents/schools?

Dont the changes/proposed changes to Summit and AS#1 count as impacting our area? At least 70% of the populations of each of those schools live in the north end...

Sahila

reader said...

Is it possible for your organization to solicit inputs to the discussion from people who are not participating in these online fora? What about asking Hawthoren and TM communities to have a forum in their buildings?

Stephanie Jones said...

To answer both of you -- yes we are soliciting input from anyone we can, doing lots of reaching out through PTAs, at school sites, through administrators and volunteer coordinators, etc. I have spoken with folks at both Hawthorne and Thurgood Marshall.

Re: northend, we designed these meetings before the closure list came out, and we thought there wouldn't be immediate need in the northend because of the overcapacity issue. But, truthfully, we think that every commmunity should have these gatherings. I attended both the school board meeting and tonight's public hearing, and while both were civil and filled with thoughtful participants, neither addressed the needs of communities or of parents beyond the experiences of individual school sites. Both were dominated by the loudest voices/biggest groups.

In the central cluster, where I live and send my kids to school, I have come to consider all the schools part of my community, because the experiences of one affect the experiences of others, from No Child Left Behind ramifications to PTA spending choices, advanced learning systems to transition processes (elem to middle to high). We NEED to be coming together to understand and stand up for our community needs, and that applies everywhere. Realistically though, manpower dictates that we won't be doing this up north until after the first of the year.
Stephanie