Back to School: the First Six Points



As referred to in Friday’s post, here’s the first half of my twelve-point outline which I propose after having innumerable conversations with parents, education leaders, and school board members.  I welcome input on this discussion and we will collectively put more meat on the bones in coming weeks:

1. We create a strong relationship between the elected leaders of the Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle. The Seattle City Council, the Mayor, and the elected School Board members must build strong relationships with each other and Seattle’s School Superintendent.  A commitment will be made to share information and resources to answer one question. How do we make Seattle Public Schools the place where parents want to enroll their students because this is where their students will receive the best public education?

2. Coordinate Schools and City Resources.  The City of Seattle and the School District should identify ways to better coordinate our resources. Seattle has parks, museums, and police.  The School District has approximately 90 active schools and 120 properties.  The lessons we are learning from the Seattle Youth and Families Initiative  must be applied in all neighborhoods.  For example, how can our schools have expanded hours for before and after school care and special programming?  And as strategies are considered for expanded school day/year schedules, the City should consider where expenditure decisions best align with the School District’s Strategic Plan.  

3. Curriculum for all students.  As a city, we must recognize that a large percentage of our students transfer between schools during the year.  Continuity of education — let alone holding on to self esteem among a new group of peers — can be a struggle for these students. We will encourage the efforts of organizations such as Alliance for Education to align the basic curriculum, which provides continuity of learning material for students who transfer.  Alignment of curriculum supports students while providing space for teachers to creatively teach.  Simultaneously, we must allow teachers the flexibility to use their own creativity to teach the material in a way they know best.

4. Create Relevant Curriculum.  We must support the efforts of local schools and neighborhoods to add relevant curriculum options for their students.  The goal is to keep students interested in learning and staying in school because students see the value.  This approach capitalizes on a neighborhood strengths and the teacher’s abilities.

5. Technical Skills Training.  We have a strong societal need for technical and apprenticeship classes.  In recent years, hands-on training has not been appropriately valued.  As a community we must recognize and financially support strong technical and skills training not necessarily in lieu of, but at least as an option to, a college-bound track.  Technical skills training can teach applied math and applied language arts to those who choose that path and provide the background for a solid career .

6. Social Services into the School Buildings.  We should invite community-based agencies to locate in and next to the school buildings when space is available.  This includes before and after school childcare, appropriate family planning and counseling services, and parent/child advocacy services.  This will provide space for organizations that need it and services for people who need them in one location.

I’ll post the remaining six points tomorrow. As always, your feedback is welcome.

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