This is exactly the sorta tone deaf and indecisive mismanagement that frustrates parents and forces many of the more affluent ones out of the Seattle School District:
Parents at a Seattle School Board meeting Wednesday night protested a proposed new assignment plan that — at least during its transition phase — would not guarantee that younger siblings could go to the same school as an older brother or sister.
[…] The School Board voted to move forward with the new student-assignment plan, but postponed a decision on the sibling issue until a detailed transition plan is developed along with new attendance boundaries in the fall.
Accepting the new assignment plan but postponing the sibling issue is the worst of both worlds, a half-assed move that leaves affected families in limbo for many more months. How many more kids are going to come back to school next September not knowing if this is their last year in that building? Does the board know? Do they care?
And in making this half-move, the board also telegraphs an incredible lack of confidence in its own decision making process, and perhaps, a lack of preparation to boot. I mean, shouldn’t the assignment maps be drawn and the sibling issue be settled before springing the new plan on parents, let alone approving it? And if the board doesn’t have enough confidence in the plan to settle the sibling issue up front, how can parents have confidence in the plan as a whole?
One abundantly clear lesson that was learned from our recent rounds of school closures is that despite all the press about failing schools, most families are not only satisfied with their children’s education (at least at the elementary school level), they love their schools so much that they’re willing to ferociously fight to save them.
Yes, our schools are underfunded. Yes, there are a handful of bad teachers and bad principals to whom the system just doesn’t seem capable of giving the boot. And yes, yes, yes, there are some curriculum issues—like slavishly teaching toward the WASL—that have proven a disservice toward teachers and students alike. Seattle schools aren’t perfect. Far from it.
But while we all want to improve the level of education in Seattle schools, it’s the complete and utter lack of stability that drives parental dissatisfaction levels sky high. How do you build a functional school program and community when from year to year you never know how many FTEs you’ll lose due to budget cuts, which principal will be rotated in or out of your school, which school your kids will be assigned to, or even whether your child’s school will remain open at all?
Nobody wants that for their child, and many of those who can afford better choose thusly.
There’s a reason why parents like those opposing the new assignment plan have taken to vociferously protesting school board decisions: we don’t trust ’em! And, we’ve learned that the board has so little trust in itself, our protests have a good chance of being successful.