Seattle School Board Considers 'Answer To Charter Schools'
The Seattle School Board is scheduled to vote tonight on a way for schools to apply for waivers of district and union policies so they can try new teaching strategies. So–called "Creative Approach Schools" would try to narrow the achievement gap by using special curricula, trying different schedules or focusing on specific themes.
But as KUOW's Ann Dornfeld reports, some parents and teachers say the plan could let schools ignore community feedback and cost good teachers their jobs.
"Creative Approach Schools" have been pitched as an alternative to the charter school initiative on the state's November ballot. It's the second time Creative Approach has come up for a board vote. The board approved the original plan in February.
It required that each school's application for policy waivers get approval from a district committee, the teachers' union board and 80 percent of the school staff.
But a group of teachers and citizens appealed the decision in court. They said the school board should have to approve policy waivers too. The judge agreed.
The district amended the plan. But the plaintiffs in the case are protesting the new plan too.
Carlina Brown–Banks is legislative chair of the Rainier Beach High School PTSA.
She says the Creative Approach plan doesn't require schools to get enough community engagement before changing teaching strategies. And Brown–Banks says once 80 percent of a school's teachers have approved a Creative Approach, it's unfair to make the rest of the teachers sign on.
Brown–Banks: "They could be a great teacher but they just don't agree with a change that's gonna come to the building. If they don't agree, they only have two options: either just go with whatever the decision is, or leave."
Jonathan Knapp: "I think that question is sort of overblown."
That's Jonathan Knapp, president of the Seattle Education Association teachers' union.
Knapp: "How many teachers really are gonna say, 'Lotta enthusiasm for this, this is a great idea, virtually everyone's on board on it, boy, I don't want any part of that!'"
Legal challenges to Creative Approach continue.
Yesterday a parent filed a request for a recall election for Board Member Sherry Carr. She claimed Carr knew the first plan was illegal when she approved it.
Opponents threaten more legal action if the board approves the new Creative Approach plan this evening.
I'm Ann Dornfeld, KUOW News.
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