Councilmember Clark left office on April 14, 2015.
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The red dots are a cry for help

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Seattle Public Schools took a brave and much-needed step Tuesday with the release of report cards for each of our public schools.  I call it brave simply because the report card is clear that we – and we are all in this together – under-perform in far too many schools. The onslaught of criticism began as soon as the reports went live on the web. At a morning breakfast hosted by the Alliance for Education district leadership put a positive spin on the usefulness of the data and the very existence of this new tool for measuring progress, but paid somewhat less attention to the unfortunate geographic pattern shown by the map of schools.  I’m a big fan of the concept of neighborhood schools, but the concentration of low-performing schools south of Downtown makes me cringe. How do we change the performance of schools, nurture students, and build resources and faith when parents see a red, orange or yellow flag marking the school that is supposed to be their child’s place of learning and growth?

District officials talked about making dollars available to under-performing schools for extra student and teacher support. That’s part of showing parents and the rest of us how the District will use the data we now see. The breakfast yesterday showcased three terrific principals who talked with excitement and focus about making high-performing schools and breaking the chain that connects low-income schools with being the lowest performers. In Seattle we all just approved a supplementary operating levy for the schools, a great show of faith in the work of the district to turn things around. Part of what’s more than a little heart-breaking is that turn-around takes time. Every year we fail we lose more students to drop-out and to limited opportunity.  I’m impatient. I want to see yellow, orange and red dots become green and blue dots next year.

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