[from Deena McCloskey]
Thank you for everyone's great thoughts and input which you sent or told me about prior to last night's meeting with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. My biggeset takeaways from the night were 1)Being Superintendent has got to be one of the toughest jobs there is, and 2)the system of Seattle Public Schools is really…well, I can't think of any tactful way to say it, the words that just stick in my head are that the system is really, incredibly messed up! I'm sorry to say.
Dr. Goodloe-Johnson explained that part of why we are where we are with such dichotomies in school performance and resources is because the system for many years now has completely enabled and empowered principals to freely run the schools, the curriculum, the administration, the discipline techniques, learning styles and community/parental involvement, etc. as they see fit. It is has been completely left up to the individual principals. Thanks goodness, that Graham Hill has had strong principals like Christine, who welcome parental involvement and set up programs that parents want to see their children attend. The Montessori program was mentioned several times during the meeting, including that the program will be replicated in other Seattle schools. So, from the stories I heard last night, Graham Hill is doing everything right and going in ALL the right directions for the future.
There were several Graham Hill, current & former, parents there last night. Thankfully, the school was very well represented, and I hope some of you will chime in with your thoughts on the meeting as well. Due to our number, we had ample opportunity to tout Graham Hill's successes and values and use the school as an example of what parents are seeking in their decisions about their children's education like choice of programs, clearly understanding of what it is Graham Hill offers, delivers upon, and how our students go on to be successful in their middle & high school years, and high quality of education.
There was a lot of discussion about the obvious challenges like budget shortfalls, class sizes being too large for teachers to be able to offer quality educational guidance to all students, school violence for the middle and high schools, family involvement being non-existent in some schools, etc.
There were also good points made around getting schools more involved in their local communities so if the neighbors are meeitng children from their neighborhood school, they might actually decide to send their children there.
The most significant opportunity we have that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson made in my mind has to do with lobbying. She believes our State Legislature would be making different budget decisions if they heard more regularly and more loudly from Seattle Public School parents. She made a good point that lots of other industries, health care, etc. have organized lobbying efforts, and therefore stay in the forefront of the minds of budgeting legislators and she thinks more money would come to the public school system to help (things like reducing class size, specialized programs within schools, providing tutors, social workers, etc.) if parents made their voices heard in Olympia. She suggested that the PTA is a legal entity and through that organization, parents should coordinate one day/month to go to Olympia, meet with our Legislators and explain our needs for the public education system.
There were of course many other things discussed and some wonderful examples of parents making a difference at certain schools. February 9-13th is bring your family to school week and Cleveland H.S. is doing some wonderfully innovated things around helping all parents feel welcome at the school and therefore increasing invovlvement.
I do want to provide one final note wrt school closures. Graham Hill was mentioned at least twice by Dr. Goodlove-Johnson as a successful school that they are going to replicate elsewhere in the district. I don't have a crystal ball, but I did feel confident leaving the meeting that we will not see Graham Hill on the closure list this
That's all I have time to write before my dinner guests arrive. I hope this will spark some good discussions, and I will certainly be bringing input to the next PTA board meeting and hope we can continue to pursue excellence at Graham Hill Elementary.
Keep up the great work everyone! Please stay involved, or if you're not yet, get involved in Graham Hill. Its one of the most wonderful & generous things you can do for your children, to give them the gift of an excellent education, and show them you care deeply about where they are spending every weekday to grow as people and future world
Cheers and happy weekend!
Mom of Mc's