school closures

Please note:

Middle College High School is not, repeat, NOT, having a protest.

I have been contacted by staff at Middle College, a school with a focus on social justice, saying there will not be a protest at the graduation.


What Carolyn wrote in this post about Middle College is just the tip of the iceberg. I heard many stories today about how the school is being run and it is beyond belief.

The school does not need to be closed but a particular administrator needs to find a more appropriate position…in another city and hopefully not at another school.

I believe that this school, with its dedicated teachers, plays a critical role in Seattle and closing it is an extreme disservice to the students and the community.


“Before I started Middle College I was lost, without it I would probably still be in the streets.”  Oliver Wilson, Graduate, currently studying computer technology at the City College of San Francisco.

Middle College is a small, alternative high school in West Seattle. People in the neighborhood still refer to the school by it’s old name, the Ida B. Wells School of Social Justice. The older name better explains the school’s focus, which is social justice and community engagement. The goal of Middle College High School is to give high school dropouts and other at-risk students a second change at earning a diploma.

Chris Otey is one of Middle College’s successes. This is his story:

One afternoon some people came to our class from KUOW to introduce the Radio Active program that teaches young people about the process of creating radio stories.  It sounded interesting so I signed up, attended some workshops and had the pleasure of creating my first radio story.  My subject was a friend of mine and fellow Middle College student, Kyra MacFarlane, who was willing to share her powerful story of her family’s struggle with poverty and homelessness.

During the interviewing process I came to realize that many people around our community and in our school face similar challenges.  Students who live in poverty struggle in our schools because it is nearly impossible to learn when you have no home or food to eat.  At Middle College High School at the High Point Center, students like Kyra get the support  they need to graduate becaues of the supportive, caring and small school environment.  At Middle College we are encouraged to dream big and see our education as part of the solution to the challenges many of us face.  For students like Kyra and many others who left the big schools looking for a challenging alternative educational experience, Middle College is the place to be.

Superintendent Nyland has decided to close Middle College High School at the end of this school year.

Why is Middle College targeted for closure? No one is really sure. The district cites low enrollment as the cause. From The West Seattle Blog:

The district seems to be blaming teachers for the enrollment trouble: “Many students enroll through word of mouth but this year we have had much fewer due to the poor climate at High Point this school year. Teachers have been unhappy with the schedule and have communicated their discontent to students.”

MCHS-HP teacher Alonzo Ybarra, who sent first word of the impending closure, has said that MCHS’s principal Cindy Nash “forcefully imposed an arbitrary schedule that severely diminished our abilities to deliver exciting and creative curriculum and instruction.”

Whatever the reason, it seems extreme to close a school that has benefited so many students.

What’s more, Seattle Public Schools spends lots of time talking about racial equity and social justice, but doesn’t seem to have the stomach to walk the talk. Keeping Middle College open, would be a step in the right direction. Investing in a permanent home and changing the name back to the Ida B Wells School of Social Justice –would be even better.

What can you do to support Middle College? Attend their graduation ceremony.

Middle College High School students will be staging a protest against SPS at graduation which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9th, staring at 6PM. Graduation will take place at the UW HUB.

-Carolyn Leith