Community Post

Why it is Important to Speak for TT Minor

This is not a complete but I have heard people ask why the community and especially those who are not parents should care about their schools. The PTSA has also posted relevant information on CD News. But, community members must also protect their schools.

First schools are an integral part of any community and contribute significantly to the character of a neighborhood. Good neighborhood schools strengthen the community and make the neighborhood more desirable for families, serve as part of the neighborhood identity, and provide a specially protected space for safety and pedestrian amenities, and protection from undesirable businesses.

Look at the map. TT Minor is a neighborhood school.
You can look at reference areas there. Remember Lowell is not a neighborhood school, but may have some neighborhood space under the new plan. Elementary school students living more than a mile from their school under law qualify for transportation, for instance the District would have to provide transportation for any student west of 23rd Avenue who was enrolled at Madrona. The TT Minor reference are area would not have a neighborhood school.

During this process I have written the School board and testified regarding some specifics, but the longer letter is in progress. For instance, I still don’t have the specific reference area demographics beyond 2005, but I have been told they are available. I am still waiting. I know that those demographics through 2007 will further support the argument that revitalization in the area has led to an increased number of children being born here and families living in the neighborhood with school age children.

TT Minor has made significant progress and a remarkable recovery as a neighborhood school since the Sloane Foundation moved its resources and model to the New School which recently created in South Seattle. During the Sloane tenure, TT Minor was removed from the assignment pattern as a neighborhood school, but has shown growth in students, parent involvement (I know this is pretty dramatic compared to when I was Seattle Council PTSA President), and neighborhood support.

During the time that the Sloane foundation it was not allowed to be a neighborhood school. Families had to apply to get in and were admitted if they qualified for free and reduced lunch. Despite this it has come back quite strong and is located in an area with a strong if not the highest growth in birthrate of any reference area in the city (I need the stats). Please look at this article:

The Central Area has just begun to revitalize and this is no time to close schools.

While it is listed as not having met Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), it is only in stage 1 (the worst being stage 5) and did meet it this year. Once a school is listed as being in stage 1, it must make AYP two years in a row. Considering its strong showing last year, it likely will be meeting the standards again this year.

TT Minor is an a trajectory to becoming a strong neighborhood school in an area experiencing population growth and revitalization, including growth in the number of children and families. (I believe that is one reason Sloane left.)

It would be very destructive to the fabric of the neighborhood for the school to close it now and not in the best interest of children. There is no relationship between educational Best Practices and the closure of TT Minor.

Hopefully the final version of this testimony will be more eloquent, but these are some of the issues that the community can address.”>

PS Additionally, building condition is another criteria being used. No building currently housing student is in anyway dangerous and all have had significant work done for earthquake proofing. There are a number of very well-attended popular elementary schools in the North End with similar or lesser ratings for building condition than the one for TT MInor. The District tends to give the highest ratings to the newest schools or schools that have been significantly renovated recently.

0 thoughts on “Why it is Important to Speak for TT Minor

  1. I’m involved with issues concerning different Central Cluster schools, but I’m behind you. If I see you at the meetings, I’ll say hi!

  2. This is not an argument for (or against) closing TT Minor:

    Just because a school has a reference area doesn’t make it a “neighborhood school.” Thurgood Marshall, of course, has a reference area, but most of the student body doesn’t live within it.

    Is Marshall a neighborhood school?

  3. First, I admit to not knowing the issues as well regarding Thurgood Marshall.

    If TT Minor closes many students would qualify for transportation due to the fact that there is no school within a mile of where they live. Right now Bailey Gatzert would be an alternative for a few students from TT Minor or Thurgood Marshall, and it appears under enrolled. But, the new plans for and development around Yesler Terrace will surely bring new vitality to that community, along with new families. As far as I know the District has not considered this.

    Another statistic that has not always been favorable to TT Minor or other schools in parts of the Central Cluster is that they have a history of student migrating out of the area. When this happens it usually reflects poorly on District and school leadership. Clearly when students migrate at a higher than average rate away from a school that has a viable neighborhood population the District is “doing the wrong thing.” The can “do the right thing” and support a school in a neighborhood that has a growing need to maintain a neighborhood school with no viable alternative. The success or destruction of these schools are a reflection of the District leadership. Central Area, South and Southeast residences and families have to insist that they do the “right thing” by our students. Our families should not have to feel that their only hope for a good education to get out of our schools. Leaders in the district should look in the mirror. The schools are their mirrors.

    In the case of TT Minor, there was a clear reason why for a number of years it was essentially closed as a neighborhood school due to the way students were assigned there. But, the school has managed to recover and actually has a waiting list for the Montessori Program that survives due to community support and building leadership support.

    Would other schools in the area provide the mile distance for Thurgood Marshall? What is the status of those schools? Thurgood Marshall has not been slated for closure, but for changes, and is a relatively new building on a large site. What are the reference area demographics and potential for neighborhood students? The District does appear committed to maintaining the site as a school. At last week’s community meeting, the current families attending the school seemed in need of more information and assurances regarding the program before they would be comfortable with the new plans.

  4. From what Ben is saying, Thurgood Marshall must offer a program that is attractive to students outside the area and I know it also houses a Bilingual Program. Does it want to be a neighborhood school?

    Not all schools have to be neighborhood schools, the fact is that TT Minor exists withing an area that is prime for one. Running buses a short distance is as almost expensive as running longer routes. It is not like the bus in parked in the area. By the way I am not against choice. I believe that some alternatives make for stronger programs.

  5. Actually, the statistics show that Thurgood Marshall is NOT “attractive to students outside the area” — (with the exception of the Bilingual Orientation Center (BOC)). Only one family named TM their #1 choice in 2007-8. I compiled a bunch of statistics, and I won’t bore you with them here… suffice it to say that most students don’t deliberately choose to go to TM, and families in the TM reference area are going elsewhere (to 27 other, less convenient schools).

    The BOC at TM consists of 80 students (out of 296 total; TM’s capacity is 422 or so), who stay in the program for one year, then return to their neighborhood school. (The BOC program is moving to Bailey Gatzert under the plan.)

    Sorry to hijack your TTMinor thread! I’m done!

  6. It is interesting and necessary to understand how the current preliminary plans are being received by various communities.

  7. I agree completely with Joanna, now is not the time to be tearing down a school, TT Minor especially. If you consider the lack of community at Leschi and Madrona I think you can make a strong argument for keeping TT Minor open. This is not a slam on Leshi or Madrona, just a loook at what the neighborhood as a whole offers. Where are the grocery stores around those schools? There are 2 within a block of TT Minor. Where are the bus lines at Leschi or Madrona? There are 6 within a half mile of TT Minor. And lets be honest here, the impact of closing TT Minor will be extreme in terms of crime, the effect could be extremely detrimental. Please, please, please if you care about your neighborhood come to our Public Hearing tomorrow night at 6:30 at TT Minor, there are still slots left to fill. Call 252-0042 or email [email protected] for time to talk and let the district know you care about what happens to your neighborhood.

  8. The hearing had lots of speakers, which was good.

    On threads like this, and in fighting for whatever your program is, I have to say, please (please, please): don’t be like the Arbor Heights PTSA. Don’t do anything to push another program, and the children in it, onto the chopping block.

    The APP kids aren’t a neighborhood program, but they are a community. Montlake has rich parents, but their children are still CHILDREN. Could Thurgood Marshall be argued to be a better closure candidate than TT Minor? I don’t know, and I don’t want to make that argument. Yes, only about 17% of their kids are from the reference area, and about 58% are from out of cluster. But… really? Does that mean their kids deserve dispersal more? What we all deserve, in this (horrible) process, is impartial criteria that is consistently applied, so that when we sift through the reasoning, we can at least (and this is cold comfort) see that it makes SOME sense. Very little in these proposals has made sense – they’re self-contradicting, some of the criteria are so vaguely worded that they could be applied in a way that could mean anything. Throwing another community up as a sacrificial lamb does not improve the situation. It was deeply frustrating to watch a community like Cooper get turned in (maybe successfully) for closure by another, more vocal program. I’m sorry to sound so stridently finger-shaking; this thread is pretty well-mannered on the topic, and my reaction is out of proportion, a bit, but it’s late, and this whole thing is depressing.

  9. Meg, you’re right to be frustrated by that. I think that the process itself encouraged folks to “throw under the bus” another school to prevent losing their own. I don’t think that excuses Arbor Heights in the slightest, but I understand how they got there – people fighting for survival tend to adopt tactics that are not particularly pleasant.

    The message I heard loud and clear last night was, don’t close *any* of our schools, not just TT Minor. We need to be marketing our public schools, and praising their successes, rather than continuing to rearrange the deck chairs. ATTRACT STUDENTS BACK – that $9K/student/year from Olympia would sure help the budget issues.