Seattle School Closures Affect All of Us

This post contains links to analysis, information, and reactions concerning the current school closure plan. This plan overwhelmingly targets low income, special needs, and minority students and families. This plan does not take into account the negative impact on the community, nor does it adequately address its stated goals of addressing the budget deficit, or managing capacity. This plan certainly does not support the districts motto of “Excellence for All. To add insult to injury the plan does not include any planning for how all of the transitions will be carried out, or what changes will come with the new assignment plan. It is very important that we act to stop, and rethink this process now. There have been tons of public hearings and meetings with the school board members to no avail. It is time to engage the city and mobilize our constituencies. Talking has gotten us nowhere. Direct action and Legal action are called for. If we fail now, our city will continue with plans which will leave us with more of the same inequity that we have always had to face. For our selves and for our children we must change the direction that this city is moving in. Please say YES! to schools, and NO! to jails and injustice. Here are links to the data and information that I promised: (Please pay special attention to the first link, as it is a data driven analysis using the districts own data. I do though, encourage you to carefully read all of the included information) From SPCC.pdf

If you have any questions or require more information, please feel free to contact me using the contact information below. Also myself, or another member of the group “Educators Students & Parents for a Better Vision of Seattle Schools” (ESP Vision) will be happy to meet with you or present at meetings and events.

Andre Helmstetter
Andre V. Helmstetter
phone: 206.579.7169
email: [email protected]

Important information concerning school closures

I wanted to share this letter I wrote to all of the Seattle School Board members with the community. It includes links to a very informative analysis of the closure plan by a parent named Meg Diaz, as well as a link to the Online petition asking the school board members to vote no on the proposal:

Members of the Seattle School Board,
My name is Andre Helmstetter and I have a daughter at TT Minor. Any of you who have met me know that I have been very actively opposing the current school closure plan. I am writing this email to share some information with you about the plan that you may or may not already have. There are two parts.
1. A parent named Meg Diaz has done a wonderful analysis of the closure plan and the information within should be very interesting to you as you make your decision on whether or not to vote for this plan. Below is a link to the analysis:

2. A group called Educators, Students, and Parents for a better Vision of Seattle Schools (ESP Vision) has posted an online petition asking for citizens of the Seattle area to oppose the current closure plan. There are currently 850 signatures. The petition has been online for three days. Below is a link to the petition:

I think that it is clear that there need to be changes to the Seattle school system. I have met very few parents who disagree with that. Most people I talk to are actually even OK if the right plan includes some school closures. Even if it is their own school. Where the problems lies is in the current proposal. The data simply does not suggest that this proposal will make a significant positive impact for students or families in any of the clusters. Nor does it seem to address the current financial crisis, take into account future growth or the transitional impact on students, families, and programs. We have not all lost our minds. I will be the first to admit that my first reaction was to the proposed closure of my daughters school. However, after attending meeting after meeting, talking to countless parents and community members, meeting with board members, digging through tons of data, and basically living and breathing this proposal since it’s introduction I have developed a more mature understanding of the problems and the proposed solutions. After all of this, I can only come to one conclusion. The current plan is seriously flawed and will have a negative affect on students, families, and communities as well as be a flagrant abuse of tax payer dollars. As stewards of the district I believe that each of you has your heart in the right place. I believe that you want to see a stellar school district as much as the rest of us. I also believe that you can only make choices based on the data you are given or have time to dredge up yourselves. You are busy, as are the rest of us. In acknowledging this, I implore you to continue to reach out to your constituents and to take seriously our questions and the data we have worked so hard to compile. Further, I ask that you vote no on this proposal. Yes changes need to be made. The current plan does not address those changes. Lets work together to make smart, sustainable, long term changes that will result in great schools for our children, create public trust for the district, and make Seattle a beacon of competent progressive education.

Andre V. Helmstetter

Seattle Schools: Analysis of Closure Plan

Meg Diaz, a parent who is active in the fight against school closures created an insightful powerpoint presentation analyzing the current capacity management proposal. I have (with permission) converted it to a web page and posted it at the below address. Everyone should look at this. What you are hearing from the district about financial responsibility is not necessarily accurate. BE INFORMED.

Excellence for Some – Same Old Story for Others

On November 25th, The Seattle School District Superintendent announced the proposal to close a number of schools in our District. TT Minor was one of those schools. For those of us who have children at TT Minor this was not a surprise, just another example of the lack of support this school has received from our District for the past eight years.

TT Minor is a neighborhood school within a rapidly gentrifying community. A high proportion of the students at TT Minor are African-American and low-income, which reflects the historic population of the community. Over 85% of the children at TT Minor qualify for free or subsidized lunches. Some children at TT Minor have already been shuffled around by the school district after the closure of Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary three years ago. These same children are now facing another transition to a new elementary school. How sad, and yet unsurprising, that it is these children, the ones most in need of consistent structure and support, are the ones being asked, once again, to move and start over somewhere else.

The School District has shown a distinct lack of planning for how to make these transitions smooth for the families that could be affected. For example, there has been no realistic proposal about how they plan to integrate a co-ed APP program into Thurgood Marshall, a school where the classes are gender separated. In fact, it is clear that the majority of the District’s “fixes” are ledger based, and give little or no thought for how our communities will be affected. A “We’ll just send ’em somewhere else and worry about it later” attitude was pervasive throughout the recommendation meeting.

TT Minor has all of the right pieces in place to become a great local school and an all city draw. In moving the Montessori program, dispersing the traditional program, breaking up the current staff, volunteers, and other excellent programs such as our chess club, it will be “start all over again” again. If history is any guide, it will be a long time before the Central Area has another shot at having an excellent elementary school.

It is evident that the District has an agenda to shut down this historic, perfectly located, and very special school. Over the last six to eight years there have been multiple attempts at shutdown, and over an even greater period the building has been allowed to fall into disrepair while other facilities have received improvement. The children who attend TT Minor have had their resources cut to the point of neglect: the roof leaks, bathrooms are outdated, there is no running water in any of the classrooms, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders have no access to a restroom or water fountains on their floor, staff turnover is fast and furious, there is no vice-principal position at the school and only a part-time librarian, part-time art teacher, and very few extra-curricula activities offered. And yet the school continues to improve its test scores, maintain a tournament-winning chess club and trophy-winning band, and continues to garner support from within its community. The Montessori program at TT Minor has waiting lists to rival the most over-subscribed schools in the District.

After hearing the District’s proposal it’s apparent that the people who actually care about our schools, our communities, and our children are us, the families who live here, and the families who choose to send their children to TT Minor from other areas.

Clearly the folks from the Center for Educational Excellence, with their “Excellence for All” motto have a bureaucratic need to make bureaucratic choices. However, what this community and our children need are consistent, centrally-located programs. We need to be able to trust in our public school system and believe that the District are really working for us and driven by the needs of our children and the future of our communities. As a community we need to work with the Seattle School District to develop TT Minor into the school we all know it has the potential to be. Budgets do need to be managed, but it’s time to stop doing more of what hasn’t worked so far, and to start looking at new solutions and sources of support.

TT Minor MUST stay open. We MUST stay engaged. The alternative will be more fleeing from our central area public schools to schools in the north and to private schools for those who can. Basically, it means more of the same. Change is in the air. Let’s make it happen.

TT Minor Letter Writing Campain

TT Minor Letter Writing Campain: Send a Letter to the School Board

Attached (below) is a letter for the School Board for your use. Optionally you can use it as a template for writing your own letter. Below you will find the address for the school board office, as well as the emails for all of the individual board members.

John Stanford Center:
School Board Office
2445 Third Avenue South
Mail Stop: 11-010
PO BOX 34165
Seattle, WA 98124-1165

School Board Member Emails:
District I – Peter Maier
[email protected]

District II – Sherry Carr
[email protected]

District III – Harium Martin-Morris
[email protected]

District IV – Michael DeBell
[email protected]

District V – Mary Bass
[email protected]

District VI – Steve Sundquist
[email protected]

District VII – Cheryl Chow
[email protected]
Attachment Size

We Need Your Help To Save TT Minor!

W Need Your Help To keep
T.T. Minor
We are at risk of losing our best neighborhood
school. Please join us in the fight to keep T.T.
Minor open for the kids here now and in the
future to come.

For more information, and ways the community
can help visit

Public hearing
Monday, December 15th 6:30 – 8:30
At T.T. Minor
Please come and show your support