High-poverty schools “sacrificial lambs” in school closures?

Sable Verity has a post up alleging some fairly unsavory behavior involving a School Board member and Arbor Heights PTSA members in West Seattle, in which they are working to target high-poverty schools in order to save the more affluent Arbor Heights. She quotes an AHPTSA co-president, in an email to the group, as saying: “…If we want to keep Arbor Heights open, we need to give them a sacrificial lamb…” This is relevant to Southeast Seattle because one of the schools targeted was allegedly Rainier Beach High School, which was targeted specifically because its closure would apparently free up enough money for the District to save Arbor Heights. I’m not sure what to make of all of this cloak-and-dagger, but I am certain that no child and no school in Seattle Schools should have to be someone’s “sacrificial lamb.”

On a related topic, Dick Lilly at Crosscut has another in a series of editorials about the current school closure fiasco that touches on some of the very things that have bothered me most about the current process. Here are some examples:

“School performance should not be a criterion for closure, because the success of a program is the responsibility of the superintendent who appoints the principal and district policies on how much is spent on what…

“Building condition should not be a criterion because, again, the order in which schools receive funding from the Building Excellence and other capital levies for major maintenance, renovation, or complete reconstruction is a decision made by the superintendent and board.”

Some schools and programs are being selected for closure because of perceived failure, when that “failure” often seems to be a direct result of District choices to neglect a particular building or program. Unfortunately, children and families are having to bear the brunt of this neglect. (Though, not in North Seattle, unless they go to an alternative school.)