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An open letter to Superintendent Nyland: Save Middle College High School

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Dear Dr. Nyland,

I am writing to you and other senior administrators today to express my support for Middle College High School (MCHS).  MCHS families received a letter from Principal Nash last week stating that staff members at the University of Washington site are being placed on paid administrative leave, with no further information. Personnel matters and privacy concerns aside, the message to parents was patronizing and unhelpful, with no indication as to how this action will affect their children. Seattle Public Schools students’ education and stability are at stake here. Is their school being quietly dismantled, following the unceremonious closure of the MCHS High Point site? That’s certainly the way it appears.

Diminishing or closing sites of Middle College High School amounts to turning your backs on the students who are most in need of a supportive and consistent learning environment. I wonder how you reconcile dismantling these successful schools with your own Policy No. 0030: Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity. This policy states that “We are focused on closing the opportunity gap and creating learning communities that provide support and academic enrichment programs for all students. Additionally, we believe that it is the right of every student to have an equitable educational experience within the Seattle Public School District,” and promises, “The district shall provide multiple pathways to success in order to meet the needs of the diverse student body, and shall actively encourage, support, and expect high academic achievement for all students.”

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) are meant to serve all students, even when it’s inconvenient. Middle College has been a life raft, a haven, for high-risk students who have struggled with a more traditional high school model. Middle College has been the place that steers students away from dropping out, towards engaging and excelling. It’s a second chance to complete requirements for a high school diploma and prepare for higher education. Small alternative schools like Middle College should be encouraged and expanded, if district administration is to fulfill their own motto: Every Student. Every Classroom. Every Day.

On the SPS website, Middle College High School’s mission is stated as “MCHS offers students equitable opportunities for learning in a supportive, collegial community providing different pathways to success.” Perfectly in line with the district’s own stated goals. Instead of closing and minimizing MCHS, you should be building upon and growing this successful model. Please don’t silently sweep these dedicated educators and their thriving students under the rug. Support Middle College High School. At the absolute minimum, please offer more support and transparency to the affected families than the terse letter they received from their principal two days before Thanksgiving break.

Sincerely,

Liza Rankin, SPS Parent, Soup for Teachers Leadership Team

8 comments on “An open letter to Superintendent Nyland: Save Middle College High School

  1. LizaSfT
    December 1, 2015

    So, they’ve closed High Point, they’re working on Ida B. Wells, but they’ll leave the 2 corporate Ed computer based instruction locations alone so they can say they’re not closing the school. Do I have that right?

    • Middle College Site Council
      December 2, 2015

      You nailed it Liza.

  2. Middle College Site Council
    December 1, 2015

    It should be noted that only the Middle College sites at Ida B. Wells (UW) and High Point were schools based on social justice pedagogy. Providing social justice education has always been central to the mission at Middle College when the school first opened in Seattle in 1990. The sites at the Northgate Mall and Seattle U have never upheld the mission of social justice teaching and more recently have given into corporate Ed computer based instruction, lowering standards and betraying the legacy of Middle College. The struggle to defend Ida B. Wells and High Point Middle College sites is both a fight for the soul of a once great alternative school and a collection of wonderfully dedicated and proven teachers and staff. It is also a struggle to defend social justice teaching in the face of some powerful individuals and interests who want to silence our voices in favor of standardization and computer based corporate Ed reform platforms that have never worked. Every student has a right to a high quality education that inspires transformation and academic achievement. If only the Seattle School District administration believed this.

    • seattleducation2010
      December 1, 2015

      Do you know if Northgate and Seattle U are using Bill Gates “Big History” book that ignores history?

      • Middle College Site Council
        December 2, 2015

        Yes, much of this is about replacing the social justice based humanities curriculum with Gates Big History project.

      • seattleducation2010
        December 2, 2015

        I understand it negates most history of the world as well as the reality of oppressed people in history.

    • LizaSfT
      December 1, 2015

      So, they’ve closed High Point, they’re working on Ida B. Wells, but they’ll leave the 2 corporate Ed computer based instruction locations alone so they can say they’re not closing the school. Do I have that right?

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