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October 14, 2008

Seattle School District's Community Advisory Approach

Via a kind reader's email [900K PDF]:

Seattle Public Schools has pockets of excellence and many outstanding principals, teachers and programs. WASL scores have improved consistently over the last five years and SAT scores surpass state and national averages. However, we cannot accept a system with a 59% graduation rate and a 22% dropout rate. We cannot accept the lack of proficiency demonstrated in core subjects, particularly in math. We cannot accept a system with uneven school quality. And we cannot accept the glaring, persistent achievement gap among student groups.

We cannot accept a system facing years of multimillion dollar structural deficits. Nor can we accept the burdensome, complex and inadequate state-funding model to which the District is subjected.

We cannot accept these conditions and results. Instead, we must view this as an opportunity for decision makers to demonstrate true leadership and respond to this call to action.

It begins with leadership, including:

  • More forceful direction from the Superintendent and greater unity and cohesion on the part of the School Board
  • Greater mission clarity and a more focused and concise strategic plan;
  • An organizational culture-shift that values creativity, fosters adaptability, demands accountability and rewards innovation, teamwork and risk-taking.
It will take resourcefulness to increase investment inacademic outcomes. This will entail a financial strategy truly driven by student achievement goals and aimed at improved outcomes for all.

It will take a resolute approach to establishing long-term fiscal viability. This must include an honest assessment of demographic realities and opportunities for improved operational and program efficiencies across the board. Business as-usual cannot continue.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at October 14, 2008 7:33 AM
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