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    White House honoring Rainier Beach High PTSA leader

    Carlina Brown has worked to engage parents and improve the southeast Seattle school's image.
    Carlina Brown

    Carlina Brown White House

    Carlina Brown, president of the Rainier Beach High School Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), will be honored this Friday (Aug 10) at the White House as a 2012 Champion of Change. One of 12 to be recognized in the nation’s capitol, Brown has served five years with the PTSA, the last two as its president.

    It doesn't  help that Rainier Beach, often stigmatized as a troubled school, has placed as one of the state’s lowest ranking schools — or that crime in the area is attributed to the school. Nor does it help when Seattle Public Schools grossly misinforms people about how many Rainier Beach HS students qualifiy to attend a four-year college, as reported by the Seattle Times.

    These are some issues that Brown has taken aim at correcting. Since joining the PTSA when her youngest daughter transferred to Rainier Beach, Brown has worked to bolster the school’s academic offerings and parent involvement, and squeltch the negative, often unfavorable, media coverage and perception of South Seattle.

    Crosscut caught up with Carlina Brown on Thursday to talk about what it means to be one of the few people selected from millions of PTA members nationwide as a Champion of Change.

    Crosscut: First off, congratulations on being one of the twelve recognized as a Champion of Change. How does it feel?

    Brown: It’s overwhelming. I’m completely in awe right now. It is such a big honor and a validation for parents and what the PTSA has been doing.

    Q: What are some of the things you and the PTSA have been doing at Rainier Beach High School that helped earn you this award?

    Brown: We’ve been very vocal and active in the community. Rainier Beach was a school that didn’t really have anything other than the basic curriculum like math and English, so we’ve worked at making other programs like culinary arts available.

    We’re working on changing the view of the area. A lot of times the media portrays South Seattle negatively, like the shooting that happened at Jack in the Box on Rainier Avenue. Right away people think it’s someone from the high school, and it’s not. 

    Also, there’s lots of undercurrent conversation about the school closing, and we want to bring that out of the closet and talk about it.

    Crosscut: So you’re in D.C., being honored by the White House, is President Obama going to be there? Do you get to meet Obama?

    Brown: [laughs] You know they haven’t told us anything about that at all. He’s said that this is one of his top priorities. I would hope he would be there.

    Crosscut: What are some of the PTSA’s plans for the future?

    Brown: Our focus will be more on parent engagement, reaching out to the parents, having one-on-one conversations with them. It’s important to engage with parents and their relationship in the classroom and at home.

    Quin Benzel is a former intern at Crosscut. You can reach him at quinbenzel@gmail.com.

    Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!


    Posted Thu, Aug 9, 10:28 p.m. Inappropriate

    This is what leadership looks like - relentless belief in children and a refusal to be fed the same tired lines by either the district or those who would try to place all the blame on schools.

    Carlina and the other RBHS PTSA leaders have shown courage and fortitude in their work.

    This is why we DON'T need charter schools. We need parents and community members who know their students and their community and work to right their own ship.

    Congrats to Carlina. (Whisper in Obama's ear to quit listening to Arne Duncan about ed reform.)


    Posted Fri, Aug 10, 8:08 a.m. Inappropriate

    Rainier Beach High School

    Data from 2009-2010 shows:

    10th graders proficient on the state reading test: down 13% from 2007-2008 (68% in 2007-2008; 55% in 2009-2010)

    10th graders proficient on the state math test: down 15% from 2007-2008 (29% in 2007-2008; 14% in 2009-2010)

    10th graders proficient on the state writing test: down 8% from 2007-2008 (91% in 2007-2008; 83% in 2009-2010)

    10th graders proficient on the state science test: down 3% since 2007-2008 (11% in 2007-2008; 8% in 2009-2010)

    No word on how the students are doing in the new culinary arts curriculum.


    Posted Mon, Aug 13, 8:36 p.m. Inappropriate

    The performance of 10th graders on state proficiency tests reflects their elementary and middle school education more than it reflects their high school education.

    Even more than that, it reflects the students' motivation. Typically, that motivation comes from home. There is no reason to believe that Rainier Beach students would score any better if they were enrolled at other schools and no reason to believe that Roosevelt students (for example) would score any worse if enrolled at Rainier Beach.

    The test scores reflect the population, not the school.


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