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Arbor Heights PTSA and Director Sundquist “hatch plans” to offer minority schools as “sacrifical lambs on a plate” to save Arbor Heights

December 15, 2008
AHPTSA school-saving strategy; knock all the dark ones off
AHPTSA school-saving strategy; knock all the dark ones off



Originally posted December 12 @ 3:00AM(ish)

Let it hit the fan right now.

I know that the details of school closures in the Seattle District are reaching the hazy, I-can’t-remember-what’s-what phase, but let’s try to hold it together and walk through it one step at a time.  This is, to date, the most important post on the SV about school closures and you need to read the entire article and then forward the link to as many people as you can.  Community blogs, please post/link this information at will.

We are going to keep this focused on West Seattle buildings and programs, including special education.  Yesterday I wrote a heated piece on the behavior of Director Steve Sundquist towards the Cooper Elementary community. 

Some critical data on the vulnerable population current attending Cooper from an email I received from a member of the Cooper community two days ago:

k-5th graders: 80% receive free and reduced lunch, 80% are kids of color, 33% are bilingual, 24 of our students have Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Arbor Heights (a primarily white, middle class school) was originally targeted for school closure. They waged a swift and intense media blitz with direct correspondence with school board director, Steve Sundquist. Steve subsequently suggested looking into the possibility of Cooper School (a primarily non-white, high poverty school) instead of Arbor Heights. Cooper School is now on the list for school closure.

Closing Cooper School and displacing Cooper students to other high poverty schools only exacerbates the already existing achievement disparities between poor and non-poor students.

The post was off the charts popular- the largest traffic volume since it first went up now 2 days ago.  And then the comments and emails came in.  And then the email came in:

“I am an Arbor Heights PTSA member who wishes to stay anonymous.  I would like to know if you would provide me with a telephone number so I can discuss with you Arbor Heights PTSA’s partnership with Steve Sundquist and how the plan to close Cooper came about”.

The very first recommendations for closures/mergers was made public by the district November 25th, 2008.  According to a post on the Arbor Heights PTSA Yahoo Group page (mouthful!) written the same day by Cori Roed, which states that the PTSA co-Presidents received phone calls from Patrick Johnson, district Ed. Director, informing them that Arbor Heights was on the list for closure.  AHPTSA  Co-President Suzette Riley also posted a message saying that Johnson “very nicely went out of his way to call Eric and I to give us the heads up”. 

The messages continue from there, and they are nothing short than startling…

November 26th and 27th PTSA Co-President Eric Iwamoto posted two  messages which included the following:

“….I spent the day crunching numbers, reading reports, and attending the meeting with Steve Sundquist.  So far we have hatched several plans.  BUT we are planning to work with Pathfinder’s PTSA and other schools to form a united front.  We will present several different scenarios for the school board to choose from but all of them require pitting our school against other schools…IN talking with [Sundquist], to be effective we have to present a viable plan that will save the SD the same amount of money/space as the current plan does…The plans center around either:

“Keeping Pathfinder where it is for a year or two and then moving them to Cooper, or moving Pathfinder immediately and closing Cooper with no warning.  This is where we NEED the cooperation of Pathfinder if we wish to be successful.  We need to be on the same page with Pathfinder so the school board gets the message that we are serious and have thought things through…Under the above scenario even if Cooper closes, we will have excess space in the south end.  We will have to make the case that Roxhill closes as well…

“…if we can get the District to close one of the [South East] high schools in this area we can save the district 2 million dollars…in 2012 they expect increases in enrollment and need to keep the high schools open.  But we can offset their “projected” increase by moving Summit k-12 (again) [from Rainier Beach High School] to the newly empty Denny site in 2011 [reference made to reaching out to Summit k-12 for cooperation]…

“…If we want to keep Arbor Heights open, we need to give them a sacrificial lamb…Cooper…they [SPS] need money today and the move is on..we have to serve Roxhill on a plate to reduce the overcapacity in the south end…


Let’s go through this piece by piece:

  • Arbor Heights is receiving favor from West Seattle School Board Rep. Steve Sundquist
  • Sundquist and AHPTSA members have been working together since before the initial closure recommendations to find a way to get AH off the list permanently, replaced by Cooper with “no warning”, Roxhill “on a plate”, and Rainier Beach High School.
  • AHPTSA and Sundquist worked to sabatoge plans for increasing enrollment at Rainier Beach, thereby making Rainier Beach vulnerable to closure, thereby saving Arbor Heights [by saving SPS money]

Given the information provided to me in a late night swap with a person I’ve never met before, whose name I don’t even know, I felt it necessary to reach out to the Cooper community to find out what their relationship has been like with their Rep. Steve Sundquist.

“There is no relationship.  [says a Cooper teacher] He won’t answer direct questions.  We’ve expressed numerous concerns about our vulnerable students, specifically our 3 Autistic programs and those 24 children, and in subsequent works sessions and board meetings, he has yet to even reference that Cooper has an Autistic program, and/or where these children will go and what will happen to them.  We have emailed, called, gone to his community forums, been at any event where we have an opportunity to talk with him directly about our school, and a Cooper rep has communicated with him every step of the way. 

“At the latest work session when a Cooper parent expressed concern about student placement Sundquist’s suggestion was “why don’t you go to West Seattle elementary?  We asked him for the rationale regarding why Cooper was chosen for Pathfinder, he responded that “the building condition at Cooper is better than Pathfinder” and that as a Board member it was “my purview” to ask staff to research any of the schools in his part of the district.  He is blatantly ignoring our kids.  He acts as though it is not his job to represent us.  He has been quoted numerous times as saying he is not required to have meetings where schools are not slated to be closed…but he held a meeting at West Seattle elementary which is not on a closure or a merger list- yet he refused to come to Cooper.  Why And why didn’t he tell us he was going to be at West Seattle Elementary, and why didn’t he invite us?”

I showed the emails to a Cooper parent.  He said:

“Well, as it relates to the “we have hatched several plans”, I had no idea that the district had employed Arbor Heights PTSA as a consultant to school closures, and the solution of their money problem.  I find it quite interesting that Pathfinder is of great value but in subsequent emails, Summit k-12 is the more useful alternative plan since the district has only committed to one alternative school in each area.  It’s clear that AHPTSA wants to align itself publicly with Pathfinder because Sundquist’s kids went to Pathfinder, so AHPTSA wants him to think that they care about the Pathfinder program.  But, if Summit goes to Denny, where does Pathfinder go?  It would be far too expense and make fiscal sense to have two all city draw programs in one area.  It is clear that AHPTSA is using other schools just to save themselves.  I am not surprised that the PTSA was on Patrick Johnson’s [SPS employee] speed dial.  No one called us to tell us Cooper was on the chopping block.  I’m not even sure if Patrick knows the address to Cooper.  It was hysterically ironic, in a very my-best-friend-is-black-way, to read that the AHPTSA cautioned their supporters to be “respectful” when communicating to Mr. Johnson [who is black] about saving their school.  But since he called Eric twice, I guess it makes sense.  Moreover, they were spot on when they said “I believe we’ll come out of this better if they think we are thoughtful, respectful community leaders, with great passion about our school”.  How do you spell moron?  AHPTSA.  They do not care about our kids, and excuse me for saying this so bluntly, but the fact is they are an affluent, largely white school- Cooper is the exact opposite.  They have purposely targeted us because they think we can’t defend ourselves.”

I asked the question, how did you find out Cooper was on the block?

“Not all of our parents know as of today that we are slated to be dissolved, particularly since the district has been mass mailing misinformation to our families, information that leaves Cooper off the list when in fact we’re on it.  We have a HUGE ESL population and the critical information about Cooper’s future is not being made available to them in a way they can understand it.  As of today nothing has come from the school in translated languages, of which we have at least 7, to the Cooper families.” 

” It also just unnerves me that people’s who’s behavior so closely resembles Chicago’s governor could use biblical terms like “sacrificial lamb” to describe our kids.  They weren’t just trying to find 300 seats and $600,000 in savings, they were trying to secure over 2 million dollars in savings to secure the future of their own school.  Sundquist is exactly who we thought he was; a me-and-mine racist pig who wears the sheep’s clothing of a civil servant.  He is in bed with Arbor Heights.  Isn’t this kind of behavior illegal?  In the least, it’s unethical.  He is making sure that we are weakened so someone else can strike.”









“The fact that they hatched a plan to mortally wound children, families and programs at Rainier Beach high school- another minority school- and the only criteria necessary is a. south b. Black and c. poor- in that order, is almost beyond comprehension.  The only reason they targeted Rainier Beach is because they thought they could get away with it.  Does Rainier Beach have any idea that an elementary school in West Seattle is trying to slit their throats to save themselves?  I highly doubt it.  Does Steve Sundquist represent Rainier Beach?  I thought that was Cheryl Chow’s turf?  Does SHE know what he is up to?  The SPS district and Steve Sundquist as a Board member have become AHPTSA and anyone else with money.  They are like life-sized players on a chess board; it’s all about “Checkmate”.  And it’s all done under bed sheets.  I’m shocked we don’t have a burning cross in the Cooper parking lot.  Seeing all of this on paper, AHPTSA will do anything to save their school, no matter who they crush in the process.  It makes me sick.  I can’t believe that AHPTSA not only knew weeks ago that we would be on the list, but that they were instrumental in getting us on it in the first place.  And it pisses me off that they’ve not only gotten away with it, but they’ve had help from a Board member.  Clearly they think we can’t handle this kind of a fight.  Well, they would be wrong about that.” 


In conclusion ladies and gents, I, Sable Verity don’t know quite what to say to this one.  Two nights ago I started with a post inspired by an email from the Cooper community and wound up playing super-secret-spy-at-the-drop-location over communications within a Seattle PTSA about “hatched plans” and “sacrificial lambs”.  It makes me shake my head, knowing that there are people who are ignorant enough, or wishful enough to think that this school closures process is not about what color you are and where you live, and whether or not you have the power or influence required to protect the best interests of your children.

I am almost certain that I will be hearing from folks who feel that it is unfair that I have not contacted the AHPTSA for a comment.  The fact of the matter is that I have already been contacted with an AHPTSA member who had documentation of communications only AHPTSA members were privy to.  That said, if ya’ll want to submit a statement, shoot me an email and I’ll post it in an update.  The same goes for SPS or Representative Sundquist.

While I am willing to lend each of you that courtesy, let’s not get it twisted for one moment.  I have the yahoo group posts, and apparently I’m not the only one.  I have poured over each word in each line, and your intentions are spelled out clearly and with malice.   It is shameless, it is arrogant and a clear obsession with self preservation by-any-means-necessary.

The gun is smokin’ and AHPTSA is holding it.  And the potentially fatal shot to Cooper (Roxhill and RBHS) did not come from the grassy knoll, it came from Steve Sundquist.  Hopefully when the smoke clears, the only things that will be dead are his career and his underhanded plan to gut Cooper and other minority schools of their students and families.  For instructions on how to kill your own political career, see above.


How many ways can I say it?  Thank you; gracias, donka, merci, M goi, Shukran, and of course, for tha Beach; Talofa!  Now the fight is hedging ever closer to equal ground.



It’s been real. 


Sable Verity



From the West Seattle Blog:

I can’t tell if what you quote above includes anything not publicly available but the Arbor Heights PTSA messages have always been readable by anyone, not just membership. I have been checking them from time to time since the closure fight started two-plus weeks ago. Only members can post, but anyone can read:

This is great.  I am guessing the AHPTSA member who felt the need meet me last night had no idea that these could be read by all; that person could have saved themselves- and me- some travel time.  How arrogant of these people to be so openly cruel.

UPDATE:  FRIDAY @ 11:04 A reader posted a link to this story on her Facebook page and received a message from Patrick Kelley, who ran for a seat on the Seattle School Board:

“Thanks for posting that, Amy (not her real name).  As someone who ran for the board from one of the wealthier districts two years ago, I can sadly say this doesn’t surprise me.  We’re often too easily pitted against each other, and forget that it’s our primary responsibility to provide the best public education to EACH student regardless of where they live or who their parents are.  And it still burns my stomach to think how leadership always looks at cutting to save money, instead of talking honestly about what it will take to fully fund public education, and then advocating for it.  That’s what leaders are supposed to do, but nobody’s knocked on my door yet…”

UPDATE 5:38PM FRIDAY DEC 12 AHPTSA Co-Presidents conduct interview with KUOW reporter Phyllis Fletcher, admit to targeting Cooper, RBHS for self preservation, say they made the right choice to save AH. 


How does a school save itself from closure? One way is to point the finger at other schools. And tell the District to close them instead. That’s what parents at Arbor Heights Elementary did in West Seattle. For now, it seems to have worked. KUOW’s Phyllis Fletcher has more.  to listen or read the text below:




IWAMOTO: “Show me and the general public that the district follows its own guidelines and logic by closing a high school.”





RILEY: “Uh, you know, it’s a really awkward position.”


RILEY: “Should we just try to defend our school? Or should we try to prove that other ones should be closed?”

RILEY: “Ultimately we decided that that was the safest position.”



RILEY: “Demographically, we may have an advantage. Um, I think that may be true. But we’re all still working parents and just trying to do the best for our kids.”


WILLIAMS: “That’s blasphemy.”


WILLIAMS: “We have 6 parents I can think of right off the top of my head who have been in this country less than two years, and spent more than two years prior in a refugee camp. They don’t even know this system.”



Update Sunday December 14 10:46PM:

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Gypsy permalink
    December 12, 2008 7:44 am

    I am at a loss for words…..this is just criminal, mean spirited and ugly.
    Thanks for keeping us informed, Sable!!!!

  2. Phyllis permalink
    December 12, 2008 8:42 am

    FASCINATING! Thank you! I’m about to head in to work. I would like to talk to you about citing your blog as a source and giving this more publicity, hopefully today.

  3. December 12, 2008 10:28 am

    One point of clarification which in no way is a comment on anything else in your report, which I haven’t finished reading:

    The meeting with Steve Sundquist was no secret pow-wow with Arbor Heights people. He has a monthly coffee hour and has been doing so for several months. It is held in a public venue (a West Seattle Junction coffee shop). WSB was one of several media organizations there that morning (also including at least one newspaper and one TV station). Arbor Heights parents certainly dominated the crowd, as they had just been officially notified the day before about their school. Here’s our report:

    I can’t tell if what you quote above includes anything not publicly available but the Arbor Heights PTSA messages have always been readable by anyone, not just membership. I have been checking them from time to time since the closure fight started two-plus weeks ago. Only members can post, but anyone can read:

    Since I’ve already been asked this on my own site, I have no affiliation with Arbor Heights, Pathfinder, Cooper or any other Seattle Public School for that matter (at the moment the only student in the family studies online via WAVA, which is affiliated with a public district outside Seattle). By the way, I have covered both large-group meetings at Cooper and am currently writing my report on the one last night.

    -Tracy Record, editor, West Seattle Blog

  4. Melissa Westbrook permalink
    December 12, 2008 12:40 pm

    I’m an activist in this district so I find this all very troubling and worrisome. However, if Steve only met with them at a public meeting and/or all the e-mails were available on the Yahoo group, it’s not as bad. You have to remember “hatched” was the writer’s word, not Steve’s. But I’m not here to defend him; he’ll have to do that on his own. (But please, it’s good to have Board members who have kids in public schools and if you believe that Board members will ALWAYS advocate for their child’s school(s) – present and past – then never vote for anyone who has a child in SPS.)

    I also served on the last closure committee and I have to say this is such a mess. First, let me just say that there is NO one way or best way to close schools (I researched it before I joined the committee and most districts don’t even have much public comment and summarily close schools.) Second, it also seems like many of these ideas were not properly vetted and that’s why there’s so much fluidity. I am not seeing (despite AH t-shirts) a lot of parents in the face of Board members as I did the last round. Third, the district, more than 3 years ago when they were talking closures (a plan drawn up by staff), said that High Point and Cooper were the only buildings that could support a K-8. Well High Point is now merged with Fairmount Park into West Seattle so that leaves Cooper. I frankly don’t know where they came up with AH in the first place. However, Cooper has changed in those years and even in the years since I was on the committee. Careful consideration does need to made about students and their future placement if the district goes ahead.

    One last thing – ALL of this could have been avoided if people had stood up to the Board and staff over the last BEX capital measure (where we remodel buildings). I had seen the list and advocated against it. One of my main reasons was that Pathfinder is in one of the worst buildings and yet wasn’t on the list. New School, a school supported by a private foundation, did make the list in a poor-fair building (which was far better than Pathfinder’s). I had advocated that the district close or move African-American Academy (which was not successful nor filling its building) and that the district give New School that building. The money then could be directed to…Pathfinder.

    I get no real pleasure in saying “I told you so” to staff and the Board as we now see AAA closing and Pathfinder STILL needing a real home. All this suffering by the Cooper and AH communities could have been alleviated by building a home for Pathfinder and leaving these schools alone.

    So, in the future, look carefully at the BEX lists, listen to what is being said (I publicly advocated against the list and got a lot of flack for it.)and remember that the ripple effects of bad judgments – whether for capital projects or closures – can be felt far and wide for years to come.

  5. Colored Parent permalink
    December 12, 2008 12:57 pm

    Wow, the self righteous have arrived. That’s great. Thanks for stopping by.

    The author of this post didn’t mention “secret pow-wows”. And the tone of your comment is far from fair and balanced.

    As for the retrospective on the BEX; spare us all, please. We weren’t ALL for it so please get your nose out of the air.

    Whether the information was public or private is not the point. The point is these…people, were obviously targeting the poorer, weaker schools to save their own butts. DEAL WITH THAT!

  6. WSRez permalink
    December 12, 2008 1:04 pm

    Boy oh boy. This is pretty heavy stuff. I’m not sure I care whether it was the board member or the PTSA members who used the “hatched several plans” verbage. It was used.

    The most telling word used in these messages is “we”- as in “we” the priviliged, in partnership with their school board member.


  7. Just a Thought permalink
    December 12, 2008 1:08 pm

    Wow. To Melissa, it seems like you are fairly intent on making sure that people know what YOU have advocated for over the years. Fine.

    But that’s not what this thread is about. This thread is about the district and the school board, without CURRENT rationale, and in direct violation of the SPS assignment plan, deciding to change the location of the Pathfinder Program from Arbor Heights to Cooper, due to rapid mobilization of the Arbor Heights parent community – a resource that the Cooper community does not have. There was no rationale given for the change, and there are no public hearings scheduled to talk about it.

    That is what we are discussing on this thread.

  8. Get Real permalink
    December 12, 2008 1:59 pm

    YOu take no real pleasure in saying I told you so?! Well then WTF are you doing over here saying I told you so?! Ya’ll make me sick.

  9. Melissa Westbrook permalink
    December 12, 2008 3:41 pm

    I’m not the enemy but obviously if you don’t agree with all that is said, then you are.

    I wrote in to explain history because it’s difficult to go forward if you don’t know what happened in the past. I was trying to sympathize with Cooper’s pain because I know it didn’t have to be this way.

    You’ll note that Arbor Heights was first on the list, not Cooper. So if the district was going after the “poorer, weaker schools”, why did they go there first when Cooper had been in their sights years before?

    You have to be fair before you think Steve Sundquist to be a horrible person. But I don’t think that’s the goal here.

    Interesting. I can see this isn’t a discussion blog; it’s a venting one and that’s fine. I’ll go back to my blog but I thought maybe if you knew that Cooper, AH and Pathfinder didn’t need to be in this position, it might help your argument. Sorry for trying to sympathize and help.

  10. Don't be Stupid permalink
    December 12, 2008 4:09 pm

    You’re right Ms. Westbrook, it MUST be a venting blog, because here you are, you have vented your self all over the place. You ARE here to defend Sundquist and you ARE here to toot your own little horn, and you ARE here to say “I told you so”. Nowhere on this site are the words “this is a venting blog”- except for when you wrote it.

    It’s like you walked into the room, took off your invisible white privilige napsack and started slapping people in the face with it.
    If we don’t agree with what YOU, THE ALL WISE WHITE LADY HAS TO SAY, then there is something wrong with US? Talk about a superiority complex, good god woman! Did you really, really mean to say that.

    And for the love of Pete, YES, spew your hatred on your own blog please.

    And BTW, we’re all to familiar with the fact that Cooper, AH and Pathfinder didn’t need to be here.

    You’re not the only one with a brain sweetheart, but you ARE the only one in this discussion that has turned to negative, self righteous jabs to make herself feel important.

    I think that makes you as irrepsonsible as Steve Sundquist who obviously is a good buddy of yours. Tell him we all said “hi”.

    Sick of the bullsh@t.

  11. NOT ABOUT YOU permalink
    December 12, 2008 4:17 pm

    Melissa, Melissa, Melissa…..The only venting I see here is you! And you said you weren’t hear to defend the right hand of the devil AKA Steve Sundquist. But you are defending him. I am sorry to hear that you are going to take your marbles and go home. Suggestion: GET A LIFE!! What is happening to low income schools in SPS in WS Nth and Sth has absolutly nothing to do with your self-serving speeches made years ago.
    This is about social injustice!
    Institutionalized Racism!
    Now I am sure those are both very big ugly words that are hard for you to accept. But that says more about your indifferance to it than anything else. And while we are “venting” who asked you??? This is not your site(thank god yawn) this is sable’s sight and nobody asked you to come either.

    Please give your BFF Steve Sundquist a message from all of us poor brown and colored folk when you see him next: Atta Way Brownie, heck of a job!

  12. Sable permalink
    December 12, 2008 4:20 pm

    From Sable Verity to the readers and those leaving comments:

    Let’s keep this above the belt and focused on the fact that there are school communities directly impacted by closures/mergers who have no voice, while the school a few blocks away is protected at all costs.

    I don’t want to moderate petty arguing and name calling and I’d respectfully request that ya’ll not trash my blog since I certainly haven’t trashed yours. We’re ALL passionate advocates; let’s leave it there.

    Everyone is welcome to discuss what the POST IS ABOUT no matter if you agree with each other or not, but the direction this is going is only going to make it worse, so, knock it off.

    I remain,
    Sable Verity

  13. Westbrook is right! permalink
    December 12, 2008 4:39 pm

    You people are ignorant and your children are a drain on our public education system.
    Why can’t you get involved with your kids like we do? WHy do you let your kids drop out of school, sell drugs or become little thug gang bangers?
    Close Cooper. Close Rainier Beach High School. Merge RBHS and Cleveland and let them all kill each other, that’s what they want to do anyway.

    I am so sick of you people whining about how hard life is for poor black kids. Why don’t those poor black kids pull themselves up by their bootstraps instead of relying on their parents to make excuses for their kids who seem dead set on living a life of failure. I don’t want my tax dollars to support that. Get rid of them all and make room for kids and families who really deserve support.

  14. LETS GET IT STRAIGHT permalink
    December 12, 2008 5:04 pm

    To Westbrook is right you have mistaken this site for the AHPTSA yahoo group. Sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused. Also last time I checked none of “us” came here voluntarily but I guess that’s what makes you so angry you did it to your damn self. Since you give the indication that you have boot straps why don’t you use them to help you get to a place that you don’t hate yourself for what your ancester’s did to our people. The lucky thing for you is with the housing market what it is I bet you can find a really nice home somewhere near the clan somewhere down south. If you can’t move you could atleast get away. I am sorry you hate yourself so much. I bet you have a hard time sleeping at night thinking about how you don’t measure up. That’s just to bad. Is it because your Daddy never loved you enough? I can see how that might be difficult. I think your only real option is to move very very far away. Because this is the only forum in which you can spew this sort of crap. If you did it out front of your house somehow I think the neighbors wouldn’t approve. I bet that makes this even harder that you are not socially acceptable. Bet you get lonely don’t you. There aren’t too many of you left. No we now your out there but like I said this is the only venue where you can feel like a man. In secret online with no tracable email. tist tist tist it is really too bad.

  15. austismMom permalink
    December 12, 2008 5:05 pm

    Oh puleeeeze. Everytime the district wants to close a school, the school trots out their disability program. Cooper has exactly the sort of autism programs we, in the disabled community, want to get away from. Highly disabled, highly segregated, in a highly disproportionate disabled (and highly disproportionate minority) community. Basically, it’s everything the district’s own special education review recommneded against. Segregation is what Cooper has for autistic students, and segregation is exactly what we need to get away from. Cooper couldn’t even find a teacher until midway through the year, causing massive disruption for many students. A more diverse school, with fewer challenges, like Pathfinder, may be exactly what the autistic community needs. Plus, it has a middle school. Hooray. Welcome!

  16. December 12, 2008 5:31 pm

    My goodness, its getting kinda ugly in here.

    In defense of Ms Verity (and all other periodical blogs out there), the purpose of this article is to inform. Period. Like any other blog, there is going to be a slant of opinion. My observation is that there is an outrage here; power is being leveraged over the powerless. Sure, its about race, at the same time, its also about the usual American story of power and privilege vs powerlessness and uninformed.

    The parents of Cooper and most minority schools don’t have the exposure to the same resources as those at Arbor Heights, plain and simple. And like any other sociological group, they are collectively going to use their influence for the betterment of their group. The outrage comes in the form that this betterment is at the expense of CHILDREN. CHILDREN.

    5-12 year olds who just want to learn to read, play kickball, or talk about their favorite or least favorite teachers during recess. These children know nothing about repurposing, re-districting, or any other political jargon that has to do with this. All they want when they wake up in the morning, is to do the exact same thing that kids all over the city get the opportunity and not be moved like a herd of cattle for the sake of others kids who want the same thing only THEIR parents want to give them best, but again, at the expense of others. What is that teaching them?
    The long and short of it is, these children need to be in school. According to the law of the land, Cooper meets all of the requirements to remain open and running; business as usual. AH is not. IF they wish to stay open, collusion should not be used at the expense of other children.

  17. Phyllis permalink
    December 12, 2008 6:32 pm

    I truly appreciate the groundwork you have provided. Without it, I would not have known about this or gotten this story out there. I am nothing without sources. I’m always seeking a diversity of opinion AND sourcing, and blogs like yours help with that. I’m sure this won’t be the last time you break news, and mainstream media follows.

  18. eJohnson permalink
    December 12, 2008 9:41 pm

    How do you feel about the fact that the Cooper PTA is now trying to throw West Seattle Elementary to the wolves? Last night at the PTA meeting several folks agreed to try to get West Seattle Elementary closed instead. (See for collaboration). WSE has even higher FRL percentages and higher percentage of students of color. So sad.

  19. Sable permalink
    December 12, 2008 9:44 pm

    How I FEEL is really out of the equation and I think emotions are running high enough in the comments here and in the community at large. That being said, NO SCHOOLS SHOULD KICK OUT ANOTHER SCHOOL TO SAVE THEMSELVES.

  20. I'm Putting The Kids First permalink
    December 12, 2008 10:56 pm

    Enough is enough. Kathy is not a problem to be handled at this point. We need to be a united front. We are a school, a family, a community…act like it. No one wants to close, not Pathfinder, Arbor Heights, Cooper, or West Seattle Elem. We are all on the line. The facts are that one of us will be closing. We need to move on from who will close, to how can we best serve the children involved. Are we going to bring in counselors? How can a blending of schools be most successful for the children? How can we salvage each successful program that a school brings? All of these should be questions we are focusing and channeling our energy in, not pointing fingers. I cannot emphasize enough, stop the nonsense and topics that are shameful, work on how this will be a positive experience for the children suffering from constant transition and adult politics. We are selfish beings. Children, staff and outside programs are being cut and pushed aside of the sake of pride and privileged. STOP!!!! It is not helpful. Focus. What can you do now that will be helpful and create the best possible outcome for Seattle schools. Again, no one wants to close, but someone has to. What is the next step that will make our children proud and prove a good example? From a therapist perspective, this is more transition and chaos than any kid needs to deal with. Think about the CHILDREN!!! This is tough for THEM! You may think this is tough for you, but this is THEIR education and their lives. Fight for what is just, not unreasonable. We have a debt in the school district, and sadly we have to pay, but so what, move on and now work with what you have. Pathfinder may be successful in Cooper, but what can we do now to make Cooper kids successful? That is the real issue. When Cooper kids are relocated, how can we make their situation the most successful? I am curious as to why these questions are not being posted or dealt with. You commentators above, I challenge you to answer these questions. Are you serving the kids with your comments or some ulterior motive? Do you think that the typical Cooper kids is concerned and benefiting from your hateful rhetoric? I would seriously doubt it. I am not judging or shaming, just looking for your support in channeling this passion into a productive avenue. Work with me please….work for the children, please.

  21. Monopoly Player permalink
    December 13, 2008 12:39 am

    I honestly was not going to get involved in this blog. ( I don’t have any children in SPS) I have read it over the past couple days, keeping up with the comments, both agreeing and disagreeing. I think it is lovely to see freedom of speech in action! However, I am unable to remain silent when I read the comment posted above (#14 Westbrook was right). I was appalled at the ignorance and uneducated rant.
    “You people are ignorant and your children are a drain on our public education system.” Wow, really? You just proved what people have been posting on this blog for days, and made AH look bad because of your inappropriate comment.

    “Why can’t you get involved with your kids like we do? ” What do you mean like “we” do? Clearly you are referring to Arbor Heights families. Yes, you should be proud that you have built a close knit community at AH, and you even have a Yahoo group! It must be nice to have a job that allows for blogging mid-day, or even a computer at home that allows this. However, I do not believe that most AH families join in your ignorance, and instead, are concerned about the future of their school. Likely, they are ashamed to be associated with you right now. I am optimistic that the lovely teachers at AH are role-modeling better behavior to the children at that school than you currently are displaying. Perhaps Cooper families don’t have as much time on their hands because they are working to pay the bills, eat, and keep their home. I actually think it would be a positive experience to disperse AH simply because you can help other schools build the strong community that you have, enhance your children’s diverse education, and avoid dispersing a poor school among other poor schools.

    “Why do you let your kids drop out of school, sell drugs or become little thug gang bangers?” Yes, ignorance at work again. I invite you to drop in on a school like Cooper or other low income schools so maybe you can be educated before you speak. If you think that this is a product of individual parents as opposed to society as a whole, you really are uneducated. I hope you are not sheltering your child to make them think this is the “real world.” I am confident that your child will rebel against you when they are old enough if you continue with your close mindedness.

    “Close Cooper. Close Rainier Beach High School. Merge RBHS and Cleveland and let them all kill each other, that’s what they want to do anyway.” You should honestly be ashamed of yourself for this uneducated, shameful comment; I hope these are not the values you are instilling in your child. Trust me, even the white upper class is frowning on your ignorance right now.

    “I am so sick of you people whining about how hard life is for poor black kids. Why don’t those poor black kids pull themselves up by their bootstraps instead of relying on their parents to make excuses for their kids who seem dead set on living a life of failure. I don’t want my tax dollars to support that. Get rid of them all and make room for kids and families who really deserve support.” And here is the most uneducated part of your post. I bet you play the game MONOPOLY where you deal out all the same amounts of money, and all the players start with the same amount right? Well, try dealing out different amounts of money and property to the players in MONOPOLY when you start your game. Some players start out with a few big bills and “Marvin Gardens.” Others start out owning “Park Place” and work as the banker; they probably have some money saved up too. The other players might start out with no property and a few hundred dollars. (By the way, you don’t get to choose which player you are.) Maybe one player starts out in debt. NOW TRY PLAYING THE GAME. Big surprise, when you start with more, you end up with more.

    I am not surprised that this blog has veered off course, especially for Cooper staff who feel like they have no other outlet. This is the result of not being heard; Let’s teach our children better than this. Best of luck to the families and students involved in this mess, I truly hope the next generation will be better than us.

  22. December 13, 2008 5:30 am

    I think “I’m Putting Kids First” (IPKF)has made the best point thus far. I read this blog because I am fascinated by the similarities of where I grew up and Seattle. Thats actually not a good thing being that I grew up on the East Coast in a city with a prominent history of organized racism. IPKF made a good point with “How can we salvage each successful program that a school brings?” That…is the key point, everyone. If schools must close (and it looks as if that’s the case), then you all have to come to some agreement and work through the disappointment of closing whichever school and focus on what benefit can arise from this consolidation. That is great advice and should definitely be a consider in this process.

  23. FORMER WSBlog Reader permalink
    December 14, 2008 1:52 pm

    I read this last week and was infuriated by the details. One of those being, that our very own (I live in WS)West Seattle Blog Editor has been reading the posts from the AHPTSA for weeks (according to her comment above) but never reported a darn thing found on THIS blog. Makes me sick. How dare you stand up in public meetings and scream to everyone that you are fair and balanced. That is such nonsense. You CLEARLY are defending the Board Director in question, and you CLEARLY have not done your due diligence by letting us know just how venemous our neighbors have been.

    Additionally, to Melissa Westbrook (and those that agree with her) your behavior here (and in the community) is shameful, just shameful. You’re likely blissfully unaware, but your bigotry is showing pretty strongly in the words you’ve laid out for all to read here. I’ll never read any of your blogs again; you make my stomach turn. As a white woman, I AM ashamed.

    Off to walk the dogs…

    Disgusted in West Seattle

  24. Just a Thought permalink
    December 14, 2008 4:04 pm

    Hmm. So, although on the Save Seattle Schools blog, people are writing at length (104 comments on the latest closure-related post) about the merits of closing one school over another, a common thought about Cooper (vs.) Arbor Heights has been, “Oh, this closure process is never easy. It’s very complex, and it’s just a shame.” Other than that, the same “activists and editorialists” who write on that blog provide little or no attention to this situation. I am also really surprised that the Stranger (and other print sources) have not picked this up.

    But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. As Sable writes, it is clearly about discrimination. I suspect that Steve Sundquist will soon issue some sort of statement attempting to clear his name from any sneaky, underhanded wrongdoing. But the facts remain:

    1. After their “extensive” data analysis, SPS decided to close the Arbor Heights program to provide a home for Pathfinder.
    2. The Arbor Heights community used its resources and quickly mobilized to fight the proposal. They worked WITH a school board member who is supposed to represent the whole of West Seattle to do so. They clearly targeted Cooper instead.
    3. Without giving ANY rationale, the board took Arbor Heights off the closure list and added Cooper.
    4. When Cooper staff/advocates reached out to Steve Sundquist, who is also supposed to represent them, he did nothing.
    5. The school district is not holding hearings for programs that are closing. So without special access, Cooper’s only recourse is to sign up for a few brief 3 minute slots to speak at the board meeting and at the Genesee Hill meeting.
    6. The Cooper community, although passionate, clearly does not have the same resources as AH, most notably, the resource of networking with a school board member who allowed his ear to be bent and then was somehow able to influence the rest of the school board without questions being asked.
    7. The worst part of all of this, in my opinion, is that SPS will move further away from closing the achievement gap. Instead of some former AH students attending Cooper, former Cooper students will be attending West Seattle and like schools, further segregating students living in poverty, and further exacerbating the current issues in meeting the needs of all students.

    My question is: WHY are mainstream media sources not acknowledging these obvious points, and why aren’t school board members (other than SS) asking these questions? (And I agree, the West Seattle Blog does not seem fair and balanced on this issue.)

    This isn’t about being snarky or oversimplifying the “complex closure process.” It’s about fairness, period.

  25. RoxhillG permalink
    December 17, 2008 5:16 pm

    I agree it is awful what is happening to Cooper and that Mr. Sundquist should do more for them. Be more responsive for gods sakes. Issues of inequality must be discussed openly and addressed. I also have to say Mr. Iwamoto (sp) really chose his words extremely poorly. Did he not know they were public? What I don’t agree with is the assumption that because those AH people used “we” in their emails that they are referring to them and Sundquist. I didn’t see any mention of any meetings (times/dates) other than what was public OR that they were actually working with SS in advance in any of the messages read. The level of communication on their yahoo group went from near zero per month prior to 11-25 to tons virtually overnight and I could bairly find ANY mention of Sundquist prior to that. so I don’t know how strong their relationship is. I also can’t help wonder what influence that smarmy prick has over the rest of the school board and Dr. GJ. He’s only been on there for a year or so right? Do board members really make the recommendations and the district just gives lip service? I’m not defending or asking you to agree with me, just posting my thoughts.

  26. RoxhillG permalink
    December 17, 2008 5:19 pm

    Also for the record I’m no fan of Directors DeBell or Maier.


  1. Beacon Hill Blog » Archive » High-poverty schools “sacrificial lambs” in school closures?
  2. Sundquist’s alleged corruption taints Seattle Schools closure process « The Sable Verity

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