There'ês a case to be made for closing a few Seattle schools. Saying no to all closures and program moves ignores realities — and opportunities — that have existed since well before the current hyperventilating about budget shortfalls became the rationale for the final plan Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson released last week. No one can blame the groups of alarmed parents that have formed to defend their children'ês schools from proposals that seem capricious and bureaucratic.
But not everything in Goodloe-Johnson'ês plan is bad, though most of it is. The worst part of her plan is what she hasn'êt proposed, the opportunities missed that are more likely to strengthen Seattle Public Schools than what the superintendent offers. And it'ês those latent opportunities that should make the school board pause.
The seven-member board has three options available. First, they can follow Goodloe-Johnson's plan. Since school boards have a strong built-in bias to accept the leadership of the superhero they'êve hired to 'êsave'ê or 'êrebuild'ê their district, this is likely. Reinforcing this tendency is the bleak economy and budget outlook. This behavior was epitomized last week at a budget work session where, as quoted in a P-I story by Keri Murikami, board member Cheryl Chow admonished her colleagues, saying, "The experts [meaning Goodloe-Johnson and her staff] have been at the table and they have been pounding these numbers and living in this (budget) squeeze every day." At the other pole is board member Mary Bass who sounds as though she opposes all closures.