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Dear Dr. Nyland,
I am writing to you and other senior administrators today to express my support for Middle College High School (MCHS). MCHS families received a letter from Principal Nash last week stating that staff members at the University of Washington site are being placed on paid administrative leave, with no further information. Personnel matters and privacy concerns aside, the message to parents was patronizing and unhelpful, with no indication as to how this action will affect their children. Seattle Public Schools students’ education and stability are at stake here. Is their school being quietly dismantled, following the unceremonious closure of the MCHS High Point site? That’s certainly the way it appears.
Diminishing or closing sites of Middle College High School amounts to turning your backs on the students who are most in need of a supportive and consistent learning environment. I wonder how you reconcile dismantling these successful schools with your own Policy No. 0030: Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity. This policy states that “We are focused on closing the opportunity gap and creating learning communities that provide support and academic enrichment programs for all students. Additionally, we believe that it is the right of every student to have an equitable educational experience within the Seattle Public School District,” and promises, “The district shall provide multiple pathways to success in order to meet the needs of the diverse student body, and shall actively encourage, support, and expect high academic achievement for all students.”
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) are meant to serve all students, even when it’s inconvenient. Middle College has been a life raft, a haven, for high-risk students who have struggled with a more traditional high school model. Middle College has been the place that steers students away from dropping out, towards engaging and excelling. It’s a second chance to complete requirements for a high school diploma and prepare for higher education. Small alternative schools like Middle College should be encouraged and expanded, if district administration is to fulfill their own motto: Every Student. Every Classroom. Every Day.
On the SPS website, Middle College High School’s mission is stated as “MCHS offers students equitable opportunities for learning in a supportive, collegial community providing different pathways to success.” Perfectly in line with the district’s own stated goals. Instead of closing and minimizing MCHS, you should be building upon and growing this successful model. Please don’t silently sweep these dedicated educators and their thriving students under the rug. Support Middle College High School. At the absolute minimum, please offer more support and transparency to the affected families than the terse letter they received from their principal two days before Thanksgiving break.
Liza Rankin, SPS Parent, Soup for Teachers Leadership Team