The Seattle School Board hasn't exactly had a banner year. Many meetings have played out like WCW wrestling matches, due in no small part to community friction over the District's decision to close several neighborhood schools. Now a group of pissed off parents has banded together in an attempt to hold a public vote on whether or not to recall the five School Board members who voted to close certain schools. One of those targeted is incoming Board President Cheryl Chow, who was more than diplomatic in the P.I. this morning, calling the recall effort "democracy in action," or something to that effect. That's way, way too kind, Cheryl. Confidential to Seattleites: Pretty much every urban school district in the country has either closed or is contemplating closing neighborhood schools. The struggle to do so in St. Louis, which I witnessed a couple years ago, makes what's transpired at Seattle School Board meetings look like a plesant game of Double Dutch.
Districts like St. Louis have 100 times the problems districts like Seattle have, whether it be Board relations, test scores, school violence, corruption, fiscal mismanagement, or an impoverished student populous. So we've got to close a few schools. So what? Take emotional attachment and geographic convenience out of the equation, and what you're left with is a sound economic decision for the District, one which should result in the transfer of resources from facility upkeep to childrens' educations. A dear friend of mine likened this maneuver to an empty-nest couple who's decided to downsize from a four-bedroom house to a condo after their kids reach adulthood. Tears will no doubt be shed when the last box is moved out of the old Victorian, but ultimately, the shift to increased efficiency makes sense. So take the long view, people, and count your blessings that your District isn't rotten to the core.