Saturday, April 5, 2008

SPS in legal action over Denny Closing

The Seattle Public Schools are going to be held legally accountable for failing to observe State Law in the closing of Denny Middle School -- Well maybe.

While this is not directly about math it is about the SPS continually ignoring their constituents, which covers almost the entire city's problem with these folks.

When I found out about a year ago via the state attorney general's office that the Superintendent is responsible to the board and the board is responsible to no one except the voters and no they are not required to follow their own policies, I was blown away.

Now we get to see if they are even required to follow state laws. Although they've been on shaky ground in their application of the Classroom Disruption Law no one has filed a legal action.

Well turn turn turn the times they are a changing.

The SPS failed to follow procedure as outlined in state law in closing Denny Middle School.

Given the first few comments on the West Seattle Blog and Seattle Schools Blog as usual there is significant difference of opinion over this legal action.

My reaction to this action is it is a fabulous move and I want more legal action.

Here is my thinking....

Little wonder the SPS behaves the way they do. The public is unable to have public input seriously considered on anything and the district rarely if ever can be held accountable for much of anything, legal or otherwise.

As one of the very few people (perhaps the only one in Western Washington) who has teaching experience in all three configurations of:

a... Middle School of 500 to 1000 population. (common)
b... High school of 500 to 1400 (common)
c... The extremely rare and vanishing for a reason urban middle/high school above 1500 students. (found at two locations in Southern California)

I assure you they are closing Denny Middle School. This law suit is not frivolous. The creation of a co-located 6-12 monstrosity in no way indicates that Denny Middle School is not being closed.

Anyone who believes otherwise knows next to nothing about the above three school configurations. That would put them at the same knowledge level as former Director Stewart who got this insanity going. [As usual no opportunity for public input until project is so far down the tracks that the directors say "Oh we will lose all the money put into this if we stop now. Costs are increasing so to stop and actually do this correctly with an educationally proven idea in not advisable."]

If this closing of Denny is dismissed as a technicality, it shows without a doubt that schools are viewed not as academic institutions organized for effective learning but as only tools for vendor profits and play things for administrative whims.

Again Denny Middle School is being closed; to believe otherwise ranks right up there with belief in the tooth-fairy.

So why should the district not be required to follow the law for school closure?

The argument in favor of circumventing the law appears once again from some as just another form of “for the good of the children”.

Great thinking for the good of the children construct a school based on a configuration of which there are no successful examples. The SPS is unable to present even one urban school of similar or larger size and configuration that is successful.

Perhaps only in Seattle can such experimentation on children be considered for the good of the children.

This is not just another irrational math adoption. We are talking 25 to 50 years.

While this suit even if successful will likely just drag out the time before an ill-advised expenditure of $130+ million produces a South West monstrosity. It at least puts the district on notice that the populace is really steamed at being continually discarded.

It also may serve to alert a larger number of the uninformed as to how poor regular decision making is in the SPS even when it involves sums in excess of $100 million.

We clearly are in need of lots more law suits as that is one of the very few things that gives the people in this district any voice at all.

Perhaps a more effective use of the two hours of public testimony a month, would be for those planning to testify to organize a planning for future law suits party. It certainly could not be less effective than testimony over the last several years and would probably be a lot more fun.

How about this for starters on 4-09-2008:
Given that the above legal action may provide additional time, planning a law suit based on Brown vs Board of Education, Topeka 1954.

Because of racial and economic disparity South West children in grade 6 through 12 are denied the opportunity to attend a local school planned along the lines of successful schools in similar circumstance. The SPS just as in their selection of math programs is again experimenting on the children. Instead of conducting the experiment somewhat equally across all ethnic and economic groups as was the case in math, now the SPS have chosen to conduct an experiment with students from two schools with the following characteristics for % of white population and % of Free and reduced meals:

School — White% - Meals%

Denny — 24.5% - 69.1%
Sealth — 25.1% - 57.7%
District - 42.4% - 40.5%

Guess that person who testified saying the SPS never could have pulled this off North of the Ship Canal may have been correct.

The State Legislature finally authorized funding to study the achievement gaps. This could be a fine place for them to start SPS decision-making. It can’t get much worse than in the SPS. Pick a topic Math, Denny / Sealth, or West Seattle 6-period day mandate how will they know where to start?

Where is Thurgood Marshall?
Where is Delfino Munoz?

So what are your thoughts?
Shall we all meet on Wednesday at the JSCEE say around 7:30?

To those who may respond this is all about race let me assure you this is not. This is about continually pathetic decisions and how to ever get the attention of the administration or the school board. As some say by any means possible; so far we’ve not found any means. Shall planning begin Wednesday after testimony in the Lobby?

Hope to see some of you on April 9th. Remember the School Board work session on the High School math adoption is at 4PM to 5:30 School board meeting begins at 6PM.

You can call 206-252-0040 if you would like to testify. Call in begins at 8:00 AM sharp on Monday 4-07-2008.

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