Cooper Elementary supporters not giving up without a fight

Court fight, in this case. At Delridge Day this past Saturday, our spot in the Youngstown Arts Center parking lot was a few tables over from the booth you see in the photo above – with the “Save Cooper” theme. You might wonder, as we did, what’s the “Save Cooper” theme now, since the Seattle School Board vote to close the Cooper Elementary School “program” and move Pathfinder K-8 into the Cooper building in Pigeon Point happened four months ago, and a Cooper closure event is scheduled for this Sunday. Turns out, they were raising money for a legal challenge that continues, with a potentially pivotal hearing scheduled next week, headed by Cooper parent and PTA member Joy Anderson, aided by longtime school-closure opponent Chris Jackins. We spoke with both Anderson and Jackins at the event; read on to see what the Cooper challenge is about, and what happens next:

What’s happening right now is a motion for summary judgment; the hearing for that is now set for a week from Friday — June 12th.

In addition to the official legal paperwork – here’s the motion for summary judgment, and here’s an addendum; the district rebuttal, we’re told, is due later this week — Anderson has developed a nine-page document outlining the case from a more personal and detailed standpoint. Read it here.

It begins with the school’s history, including the original Cooper School (the building that is now Youngstown Cultural Arts Center), which made history as the workplace of Seattle’s first African-American teacher, Thelma Dewitty, in 1947. It traces the most recent school-closure process through everything we have covered here – the original preliminary proposal that Arbor Heights Elementary’s “program” be closed so that Pathfinder K-8 could move into that building, then later, the change that recommended closure of the Cooper “program” instead.

“It’s not a program,” Anderson insisted in our conversation at Delridge Day. A program, she says, is some smaller part of what’s offered – like Cooper’s autism program, or an afterschool reading program. She contends the terminology “program” was a convenient way to get around a point of law which she details here:

… Seattle School District broke state law by not following a 1983 state law (RCW 28 A 335 020) which states there are certain procedures that must be followed in order to close a school which includes public participation and a series of separate hearings for each school. At that point the District began referring to Cooper as a ‘program,’ thereby beginning to use their strategy to circumvent the lengthy public closure process. Cooper was denied due process.

The school board then made its own problems by changing its own policies after they had begun the closure process. We believe this was all cynically calculated to reduce public participation, thereby rendering Cooper School powerless to involve itself in the process and properly represent and defend itself against the impending closure of its school.

Cooper did not get a formal closure hearing, although the Genesee Hill building that is being closed because of Pathfinder’s move did (most of the testimony at that hearing focused on Cooper). Though it’s not necessarily a point of legality, Anderson also is upset about the way that the Cooper transition is being handled; she says, “On June 8 … other schools get to ‘pick’ through our library and put their choices on temporary bookshelves to be shrink wrapped and held. Our children will be able to see the books, but cannot use them. Why can’t they wait until the end of the school year so the children aren’t subjected to any more unnecessary stress?”

This Sunday, in fact, is when the school’s “closing celebration” is scheduled – with the invitation reading as follows:

The Cooper Elementary School community cordially invites you to join us for our

Open House/Closing Celebration
Sunday, June 7,2009
2:00-4:00 pm

Cooper Elementary/1901 SW Genesee St

Classrooms open
Arbor Garden tours
Memory Book stations
Old photos and memorabilia on display
Refreshments in the cafeteria
Bouncy Houses on the playground

For more information, please call the Cooper office at 252-8170

While the “closing celebration” is set for June 7, the last day of school for Seattle Public Schools is June 19.

The original legal action was filed in March but the most recent development is the motion for summary judgment, which expedites the case. Anderson and other plaintiffs are hoping for a show of support when the case has its hearing on June 12; they are offering bus transportation from Cooper for anyone who shows up there at 8:30 that morning.

Meantime, information on how to donate to their legal fund is in Joy Anderson’s document (again, here’s that link). We have a followup question out to the district regarding Anderson’s contention that portables are being added to several other West Seattle elementary schools, but have not yet received the answer; we are told there will be more information about the “open enrollment” period results — district spokesperson Patti Spencer acknowledged this morning that, “Enrollment is greater than expected for fall 2009 at the total district level” — at this week’s School Board meeting, which we plan to cover, Wednesday night at district HQ, 6 pm (in a separate issue, it’s been announced that meeting will be preceded by a protest against districtwide teacher layoffs, more than 20 of which are hitting West Seattle schools).

29 Replies to "Cooper Elementary supporters not giving up without a fight"

  • SpeakLoud June 1, 2009 (7:57 pm)

    I think this is all so sad. I am so sorry to the Cooper community that this has impacted you in this way.

  • WSparent June 1, 2009 (10:42 pm)

    I am the parent of an AH student and I too am sad about the closure of Cooper. I along with many AH parents and PTSA members are not happy with what transpired or how our Board members conducted themselves. Sundquist is a disgrace. That said, it became very obvious that Cooper was the inteneded target all along and AH was the means to the end.

    By the way Joy, I support your fight, but have you ever been to AH Elementary? It is a dump. Where are these “rolling lawns and peaceful campus
    like feel??? AH is an old building with mold issues, water safety issues and is badly in need of some repair and updating. The playground is a parking lot with one little wood structure to play on. I have been to Cooper and attended meetings inside the building and it is beautiful as well as the grounds that it is on and green belt surrounding it. Maybe you are confusing AH with Sanislo or Schmitz?

  • Colleen June 2, 2009 (9:47 am)

    Interesting. Question–there’s a LOT of allegations against people within these documents, including the Pathfinder community, the AH community and other leaders. What sort of facts back that up? And maybe for the WSB–is there a chance to hear the sides from the other communities.

  • Joy Anderson June 2, 2009 (10:01 am)

    Dear WS parent-

    remember, the School District had allotted Pathfinder a substantial amount of money (over $100,000) to renovate their program It was retracted once they were given Cooper. It could have been used to fix the AH building as well…

  • WSB June 2, 2009 (10:02 am)

    Much of it is recap of claims that have been reported and discussed here and elsewhere, although anyone who wants to comment again is more than welcome to … the copious comment threads throughout the closure process, in particular … both online and at the various hearings, at which time we presented every side that was aired (including full video clips of testimony). There were some new claims in this document, such as portables for local schools, which I’m still awaiting a district response on. I expect to write about this another time or two before the court hearing – the paperwork for the district’s rebuttal will be the next peg … TR

  • Charlie Mas June 2, 2009 (10:24 am)

    The weird thing about all of this is that if the District had just done the right and decent thing and held a public hearing for Cooper at Cooper – acknowledging that the school is closing, they would not have such a powerful case against them.

    Why wouldn’t they have a public hearing for Cooper? It would have cost them almost nothing.

    As the filing says: “What is most alarming about the cynical change made in the school closure policy was that the revision’s singular purpose was to eliminate public notice, public information, public hearings, and public involvement in the school closure process.”

    The School Board are the elected representatives of the public. They have a duty to represent the interests of their constituency: the public. They violated that trust when they voted to allow this change in the Policy and diminish the public’s role in this process.

  • Colleen June 2, 2009 (12:31 pm)

    There did seem to be some new ones, so thanks WSB! Looking forward to what you find out.

  • ABBY G. June 2, 2009 (12:35 pm)

    A few things I noticed in the attached document, which might not be correct:
    1. Pathfinder is not an all city draw.
    2. Some history was not added, during the original closures stuff (pre-2008) Cooper was slated to be closed and Pathfinder move into their building. The 2008 idea was not an original recommendation.
    3. AH, a lush green rolling landscape?
    4. “Other interesting things we discovered about Pathfinder” At NO time has Pathfinder ever made a play to take over Cooper’s building, all the mentioned incidents were district recommendations, not a ploy by Pathfinder to take over Cooper. When the district recommended merging the two programs, they rallied together and convinced the district to reconsider.
    5. Hearsay “Hearsay is information gathered by Person A from Person B concerning some event, condition, or thing of which Person A had no direct experience (“he said she said”).” That Pathfinder didn’t want to move into “that neighborhood” is a big accusation and potentially offensive to a whole school community. This sounds like you just dislike (find them to be racist, socio-economically biased and out to get Cooper) Pathfinder. Like you are doing now, it sounds like they have been standing up for their school community.
    6. After extensively looking at Pathfinders website and district school info, nowhere does it say ““Native American
    Philosophy and approach to learning”. There web site does state “Native American cultures are the foundation from which we teach about many cultures, providing opportunities for our students to make their own cultural connections” Very different from your assertion.
    7. Where did the information about Pathfinder “allowing” the autism program to stay. Do you know that they didn’t want it or is this also hearsay?
    8. All schools slated to move or close are riddled with boxes, not just Cooper. Most Libraries close a week to two weeks before the end of the school year to collect over due books and do an inventory.
    9. The district has allowed the Pathfinder community into the building twice. Once as an open house (many potential new families attended as it was school tour session) and once as a staff only inventory session.
    10. Hasn’t the Pathfinder community asked the district to ADD a 6-8 Autism program?
    11. Doesn’t Pathfinder also have a FREE kindergarten program?

  • Cryptical June 2, 2009 (2:42 pm)

    I appreciate the sentiment, but there are just so many inaccuracies and questionable points in your document Joy, that there is no way that can be considered the TRUE story. No question the district really screwed up and it will take years to heal all of the hurt between all of the communities involved. Lots of collateral damage all around. But that letter just seems like a lot of “fanning of the flames” and not helpful information.

  • Sasha June 2, 2009 (3:01 pm)

    I for one would appreciate seeing the district’s brief. TR- Have you asked the district for it or are you waiting for the other side to give you a copy?

  • WSB June 2, 2009 (3:13 pm)

    I don’t have it yet from an official source, which would be King County ECR-Online. But I have to check again to see if it’s been posted this afternoon.

  • add June 2, 2009 (11:09 pm)

    Thank you, Cryptical. And Abby G.

  • Joy A. June 3, 2009 (9:14 am)

    I think that the term “fanning the flames” implies some malice or intent. I didn’t put this there simply to get a rise out of people-what the District did to us was WRONG on so many levels, and Seattle should be disgusted and ashamed this happened in their town. The Dept of Education received 100 discrimination complaints from Cooper and they are acting on them. I have about 4000 pages of DOCUMENTS I based this document on,and I did my best to “tell the truth” from my perspective. Sorry if I didn’t say it “touchy-feely enough for some of you. And for the record, I talked to MANY people (some former Pathfinder people) who said, I’ll tell you this, but DON’T use my name. You have NO IDEA how many people out there are angry about this… You have no idea what’s coming

  • jimd June 3, 2009 (9:31 am)

    Joy, Your ignorance regarding the community culture at Pathfinder is pathetic, and your accusations of Pathfinder “going after” Cooper are completely off base. You state “Other interesting things we discovered about Pathfinder” and then the next sentence you say “We SUSPECT that Pathfinder has wanted the Cooper building since the building was opened in 1999.” A DISCOVERY is a fact, not a SUSPICION. All of your assertions regarding the intentions of Pathfinder are based COMPLETELY on either hearsay or misguided suspicion. Bottom line-your depiction of the Pathfinder community is slanderous, and your venom misguided.. Yes, closing schools sucks. IT WAS NOT PATHFINDERS DOING. Here is the TRUE story of Pathfinder School’s facility history.


    AE #4 (Alternative Education #4) School opens as a co-located school at Roxhill Elementary (3 classrooms, one in the main building and a double portable). School District promises AE4 (Pathfinder) its own site “next year”.


    Pathfinder is relocated to the Boren building, co-located with Cooper Elementary. (5 classrooms, in converted wood & machine shops, located at far north end of building).


    Pathfinder is relocated to Genesee Hill building, which had been vacant for many years. Staff and volunteers work to upgrade the building into a suitable “home” by fixing up, painting, etc.


    School district asks Pathfinder K-5 to consider becoming a K-8. The community (staff and families) hold numerous conversations with varying opinions, and come to the conclusion after an all-day talking circle that Pathfinder should continue as a K-5.


    The Seattle School District mandates the K-8 change. No additional funding was provided to retrofit the building or make modifications to support the addition of grades 6-8, with the exception of $7,000 and the typical addendum to the weighted student formula for students in grades 6-8.

    Spring 2005

    School district announces plans to close schools throughout the district. It is recommended that Cooper school close and Pathfinder move into the building, closing the Genesee Hill facility. The school district retracts the entire school closure proposal shortly thereafter.

    January 2006

    School district announces another effort to close schools throughout the district and a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) was appointed to gather data and make preliminary recommendations. A core criteria for closure is building condition; Genesee Hill is considered to be among the 10 worst buildings in the district based on building condition, educational adequacy, operational cost, and backlogged maintenance.

    Pathfinder advocates that the school board consider overall facility needs in this process, reminding them of the 7-year need for a more appropriate facility for Pathfinder K-8. A member of the CAC asks that Pathfinder send them information about what was needed.

    March-April 2006

    Pathfinder PTSA-Facility Advocacy Committee surveys over 100 Pathfinder families and staff to ascertain building needs. This data was compiled and sent to the CAC along with a written report of space required and other needs, as requested.

    May 2006

    The CAC preliminary recommendation to the Seattle School District suggested that Fairmount Park and High Point schools close and that Pathfinder move to the “vacated” High Point building.

    Fairmount Park and High Point principals met and proposed a merger of the two schools to be housed at High Point. Pathfinder principal was not involved in these meetings.

    June 2006

    The Superintendent’s preliminary recommendation includes the Fairmount Park/High Point merger and proposes that Pathfinder move to the Boren building. It is further suggested that many other programs could co-locate at that building, although no details or budget is provided.

    Most in the Pathfinder Community reject the proposal to move to Boren and actively fight the proposal because it is inappropriate for a K-8, with no playground, adult-sized bathrooms, and more. In addition, the district discovers it will be much more expensive to house Pathfinder in the Boren building due to operational costs and backlogged maintenance, and that the Boren building will be needed to house Chief Sealth High School during future renovations.

    Pathfinder PTSA-Facility Advocacy Committee researches building plans, building condition reports, district enrollment/scatter map data to search for additional options. District staff and Board members suggest that Pathfinder “look at every school in West Seattle to see if something might work”.

    Several meetings were held between Pathfinder parents and staff and district facilities personnel (initiated by both parties) to review floor plans and architectural designs and tour Fairmount Park and EC Hughes to determine if either would be a feasible option. Neither were considered suitable due to:

    * core spaces too small for Pathfinder K-8 population (lunchroom, gym, library), and/or
    * lack of space for possible portables for adequate capacity (Fairmount Park is partially situated on a wetlands which precluded moving portables on the premises), and/or
    * too many building condition problems to work well without substantial influx of money from the district., and/or
    * some nervousness about whether District “promises” would be fulfilled with regard to help in fixing up these buildings, based on past experiences.

    The District makes no formal proposals to Pathfinder for either of these sites and progress is stalled.

    July 2006

    The Superintendent’s final recommendation removed the Boren recommendation and stated that finalizing any additional West Seattle closures and “finding a suitable location for Pathfinder K-8” would occur in Phase II in August – November 2006.

    August 2006

    School District Staff convenes a meeting of principals, PTSA representatives and SEA (Seattle Education Association) representatives from 7 potentially affected West Seattle schools. Schools attending: Pathfinder, Gatewood, Concord, Roxhill, Arbor Heights, Cooper, and Highland Park. After a seven-hour meeting of information-sharing and option-generating, no definitive solutions or recommendations were reached and the group asked the District to make a decision based on the input collected during the meeting. The only definitive outcomes regarding Pathfinder were that 1) moving to Boren was not feasible (for the aforementioned reasons) and 2) renovating/re-building on the Genesee Hill site was not feasible.

    A planned second round of community meetings to gather additional input based on information from the initial meetings was cancelled.

    September 18, 2006

    The Superintendent’s Preliminary Recommendations for Phase II are released. In it, the recommendation outlines a move of the Pathfinder K-8 program to the Cooper building, with Cooper students “invited” to join the Pathfinder program. It is also recommended that Roxhill Elementary close.

    September 20, 2006

    At a regular School Board meeting, during a discussion on “Superintendent’s Updates”, Superintendent Raj Manhas stated that, regarding the Pathfinder-Cooper recommendation, “both programs will help each other grow so that it’s not that one is taking over the other … I don’t mean it’s just one school. It’s working together and creating the right school for our kids, our combined kids … it is a wise opportunity with the different set of students and principals to … join forces and come up with what is best for the combined student body there.”

    In response to a board member asking for clarification, “am I hearing … that Pathfinder will not be moving to the Cooper building and the people who want can become part of Pathfinder, but that Pathfinder and Cooper will be creating a new program together… ?”, Mr. Manhas replied, “yes,” effectively making a new proposal that Pathfinder and Cooper schools be merged.

    September 21, 2006

    District Staff indicate that a “clarification letter” would be sent home to all Cooper and Pathfinder families “sometime next week.”

    October 5, 2006

    The School District sends home a letter via “kid-mail” clarifying that the recommendation has effectively become a merger of the two programs.

    October 10, 2006

    The District-scheduled Site Hearing is held at Pathfinder; 40 people sign up to speak against the proposed merger between Cooper & Pathfinder (both schools are represented).

    October 18, 2006

    At the School Board Meeting, there are many community members attending and testifying during the public hearing portion of the agenda. The meeting was then disrupted. After a break, Board Member Irene Stewart moved to suspend Phase II altogether. The Board tables all proposals for Phase II closures/consolidations.

    October – December 2006

    Pathfinder Facility Advocacy group continued to work with District facilities staff through the year including discussions on sources of funds to fix up the Hughes building and examining the possibility of putting Pathfinder on the BEX III levy to rebuild at Genesee Hill.

    November/December 2006

    The BEX III Bond is proposed for rebuilding and building several district facilities, but does not include Pathfinder. Pathfinder PTSA supports the bond, however several people from outside Pathfinder (education activists from around the city) question why it was not included.

    February 2007

    The BEX III Bond is approved by voters, but does not include any money for Pathfinder to improve its facilities.

    April – September 2008

    Pathfinder PTSA and Facility Advocacy Committee, recognizing that there were no plans to assist Pathfinder with facilities, decided to begin several projects. Based on input from the staff and community, the priority project was to paint the portables housing the Upper Grades at Pathfinder. Over 1,000 volunteer hours from members of the Pathfinder Community and Seattle Works, and thousands of dollars in donated supplies, were spent to beautify the portables and school grounds. The next priority is to design and implement a landscaping project for the playground and portables area. Other projects include improving the bathroom facilities and re-painting the trim on the outside of the building.

    November 2008

    The School Board votes to re-open the issue of school building closures and “re-purposing” due to severe budget shortfalls. The preliminary recommendation presented by the Superintendent and staff to the Board on November 25 includes a recommendation that the Genesee Hill building close and that the Pathfinder program move to the Arbor Heights building, effectively closing the Arbor Heights program and recommending that current students be dispersed among other West Seattle elementary schools.

  • ABBY G. June 3, 2009 (9:46 am)

    I’m angry about it too, but in order for my anger to help make a change for the better I want clear accurate information. What you called the “true” story was filled with some great factual information but also a lot of your personal feelings and plainly untrue information. Fighting for an important cause requires passion and TRUE facts to support it. Fight the district, not another school community! Your “true” story reads like a smear campaign against two school comminutes not a rally to fight the district on unfair policies and practices, which is one I WOULD join.

  • Ronda June 3, 2009 (11:09 am)

    I am a mother of one child, a Pathfinder kindergartener. I was so pleased to find a school for him that fit the emotional and social needs of our family. I am so saddened that our school has been villified because of school board politics. Will people please remember this needs to be about what is best for ALL our kids? Maybe if you saw the little kids bundled in their coats in their classrooms all winter, you would change your mind. I chose Pathfinder for my son, because the spirit and soul of the school is important, but so is the safety of the building. It is unfair to make us choose between a school our kids can thrive in and a school that is just closer or warmer. Please give this great program the space it needs to thrive. No one wants to see Cooper kids displaced or unhappy, but hopefully no one wants to see Pathfinder kids cold and crowded for another winter either. Let’s try to find a way to bring the two schools together instead of fighting about this?

  • WSB June 3, 2009 (3:10 pm)

    I have finally received an answer from the district on portables. “No portables are planned at this time to be added to the West Seattle elementaries,” says David Tucker, district spokesperson. Tonight’s school board meeting is supposed to include an update on “open enrollment” and we will be there to post West Seattle-specific information “live.” – TR

  • Sasha June 3, 2009 (4:32 pm)

    TR: Any word on getting the district’s brief for this court case? Or asking the district if there is any truth to the claim of the Dept of Ed acting on complaints? Last I heard, the Dept of Ed Office of Civil rights choose not to pursue any of the complaints filed about the school closures. I am more interested in seeing what the legal arguement, given that the rhetoric is getting pretty strong.

  • bOoBaLiNg June 3, 2009 (11:35 pm)

    First of all I am saddened by Cooper’s school closure. I accidentally wondered into a Pathfinder PTA meeting and at the meeting the Pathfinder administrators was already making “potential plans” for Cooper not even knowing if they had Cooper for sure. My child attends Schmitz Park, but many of my
    neighbors children attend Cooper.I know Schmitz Park is at capacity, and in a recent newsletter have announced a third Kindergarten class, of course the kindergartners will not be in portables, the higher grades will be and that is not fair to them, Lafeyette’s children, or any other classes they want to add to any other schools. They should leave Cooper alone, a lot the money that Pathfinder was suppose to get and fix THERE school.”Ronda” I know if my child had to wear her coat in a crowded classroom at Pathfinder I would be transferring them to Cooper and teach them the “Spirit and Soul of school” there.

  • Joy A. June 4, 2009 (12:55 am)

    To Jimd, (and the others who think I am just being mean-spirited)

    sorry you think my ignorance regarding Pathfinder is “pathetic” (strong words, my dear, pathetic implies slovenliness, like I don’t care, and believe me, I do.) I would have really liked to have gotten to know you better before all of this happened, and I am sympathetic to your community, really I am). I did try to do my research research, but honestly, once Pathfinder was granted the building, all of you seemed to be laying low.

    However, I was enlightened by a few of your former Native American students who attended your school, and well, let’s just say, they did not appreciate how Pathfinder treated them. (I’m being diplomatic here) I’ve talked to at least a dozen people who have children who attended Pathfinder, and most of them did not have favorable things to say. Not mean things, just not favorable. I’m not trying to start a war, please believe me, but I have a real problem with a 80% white school exploiting this Native American theme – seems like some of the Native American community might be rolling its eyes behind your collective backs) Maybe Pathfinder should do some surveys from former students and parents. Pathfinder might think about redefining its mission statement (or whatever you are calling it.)

    I HAVE your document on facility history, but I actually talked to people who were at the Boren meeting. IT IS FACT that Pathfinder turned down Boren, High Point, and Fairmount Park, for what it may have deemed good reasons- all sites had some flaws and would need altering to fit Pathfinder’s vision. However, Cooper is a K-5 and you’re a K-8, and you will also need to spend a lot money to make that building suit your needs (Let’s not forget the $3000 smart boards in every class -I have that document too) Pathfinder used the same argument for all of the previous buildings they turned down before the accepted Cooper, though, if they have to spend money to alter Cooper, they should turn it down too, for the same reasons, right?

    I think for the good of the overcrowded West Seattle North Cluster, Pathfinder should show a little integrity and selflessness …turn this location down too, take the SUBSTANTIAL amount of money from the capital fund that the District was going to give it before the closures, and leave Cooper a “common” elementary school for the good of the community. Pathfinder does not deserve this location on the backs of the children of color from whom they are taking it.

    I have 3000 pages of documents, and I really did try to be as truthful as possible. Sorry I got a little passionate, but this is about my child’s future-as well as yours.

  • Joy A. June 4, 2009 (1:11 am)

    Oh, Jimd

    You’re right. I really shouldn’t have said, “Pathfinder went after Cooper, since I wasn’t in the building to hear any conspiring, ” but I think Pathfinder got A LOT of help from the School Board’s West Seattle Representative, Steve Sundquist (as did Arbor Heights -I have those documents, too). Didn’t his kids go to/or presently attend Pathfinder? He is Cooper’s representative too, and he ignored us, and did not do his job of representing us. WE GOT NO HELP FROM HIM AT ALL! I wish I had more documents here to prove some sort of conspiracy here, like which “community” gave the most money for his campaign for election, but I will leave this one to people’s imaginations….

  • WSB June 4, 2009 (3:53 am)

    As I noted earlier in this thread, much of this has already been discussed.
    Campaign contribution information is all publicly available. I can’t figure out how to directly link to a specific person/year/list but you can use this site:
    to see exactly who gave how much to who and when.

  • El Halfbreed June 4, 2009 (10:43 pm)

    I need to weigh in on a few points.
    With regard to Abby G.,
    (1) Pathfinder, an alternative school, may be an all-city draw, which the other alternative schools are.
    (2) Cooper was not on the initial closure list for 2008.
    (6) These are also direct quotes from PF’s website (not difficult to find): “Throughout Pathfinder K-8, a Native American emphasis is infused in much that we do.” . . We hold an annual Pow-Wow at the end of the school year as a place for the larger community to build a sense of community through the Native lens. . . . The third root of Pathfinder is the root of Native American tradition. . . . Sharing the wisdom of Native American Cultures through a relevant curriculum enhances the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of the whole community.” Not that this is nit-picking, but to some community members (myself included), this type of focus seems a bit disingenuous, lumping the experiences of American Indians (sorry, if I didn’t say “Native American!!) into some kind of communal philosophy that white people can feel politically correct about. Positive stereotypes are still stereotypes, and really non-representative of an extremely rich and diverse set of cultures that existed in the Americas. Okay, this is a divergent thread, but I needed to say it.
    Abby G.’s second post hits the real issue on the head–we all need to focus on the District. I am a 10-yr. middle school teacher (@ McClure MS) married to a Cooper teacher; and unless we (parents and employees) realize that it’s the District and especially the School Board’s misguided policies, structure, and implementation that are the real problem. Sundquist is simply an example of a self-serving stooge, who does not represent the common good. Too many of the School Board members view their positions as entitlement only for their constituents, just the way State & National congresspeople look after their own (pork barrel, etc).
    With regard to Jimd, in 1993 Pathfinder willingly chose the “converted wood & machine shops, located at far north end of building.” Remember Cooper was in that buidling for ten years.
    Referring to Pathfinder’s building being “one of the ten worst,” simply makes me shake my head. The maintenance and construction is where a lot of the real waste of money is at, so you won’t get any special sympathy from me, or others who are at run-down buildings. We obviously don’t have the pull that the Hamilton community has, to be rebuilt twice in less than ten years.
    The 9/18/06 merger of the Cooper and Pathfinder programs was a lame attempt by another our seemingly incompetent Superintendents to appease someone (?), after the initial attempt to “dissolve” Cooper failed.

    Two “by the ways”:
    $3000 dollar smart boards, oh please!, when most buildings have out-of-date textbooks!!! I guess, using the District’s reasoning, smart boards make kids smart (!).
    Ronda, get used to kids wearing coats in the wintertime, I haven’t had adequate heat in 10 years at McClure for my 8th graders, and I’m sure that a lot of other schools exist under the same conditions.

    Please, everyone think about your votes for upcoming School Board positions, and stay involved not only in your school and your cluster, but with other students, parents, teachers and staff. Parents can be very strong advocates for reform in the public school system, because the corporate business models are failing, think “Animal Farm”!

    If you want some real stories, talk to some of the custodians who hear about construction & remodeling projects at other schools, some of those stories I’ve heard are truly laughable and incredulous.

    Oh, yes, just heard the District is splitting up some Cooper families’ children next year–good job, District “design team”!

  • Rudy L. June 5, 2009 (10:05 pm)

    1. Pathfinder is NOT an all city draw.
    2. Ronda should NOT have to get used to her son wearing coats.
    3. I don’t think there are smart boards anywhere nor are they on their way.
    4. Stop trashing Pathfinder. It is not our fault. We did not have a conspiracy against Cooper or anyone else. We have no power here. Do you think we can tell the district what we want and don’t want. Really. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. Stop digging, looking for words to twist and trying to make us look bad. We are good people trying to do our best. It is not our fault.

  • El Halfbreed June 7, 2009 (10:10 pm)

    With regard to Rudy L., the word “may” actually has a specific meaning.
    No, Ronda, seriously getting used to your kid wearing a coat or warm clothes in a Seattle classroom, this is a District problem. I hope there are no “smart boards” anywhere, as long as we are using outdated books. With regard to Pathfinder bieng blameless, money talks and everything else walks! The “moneyed” groups got their way in 2006, and the Superintendent said she wasn’t going to be pressured by “parent and school groups” in this [2008] part of the process, but she was. The Arbor Heights/Pathfinder (Sundquist) thread about throwing [Roxhill and] Cooper under the bus, and not yelling, “Look out!” is unconscionable. Nobody speaks for you when they come for you! It seems rather obvious that there are things going on behind the scenes that are influencing these decisions. For example, why did the District “stack the deck” when it came to evaluating the yearbook options and decided, after “input” to go with one vendor. Come on, who got paid off in that deal. But then again, parents know nothing of some of these things. Wake up and investigate what they are saying. Look at the Seattle Times editorial praising the District for its school assignment plan, acting like there is finally a neighborhood school option this upcoming year for the first time! This has been the policy for upwards of almost 20 years. The real problem is with the District administration (39% larger than any other State district) and the policies of the School Board.

  • Wilkespeare June 8, 2009 (7:58 pm)

    To all those People who think we should “get over it and Move On” (and Move Out),

    Are you experienced. Have you ever been experienced. Have you ever been evicted from a public building. From a public facility or grounds. No matter whether rightly, wrongly, fairly or unjustifiably. Well I have. Not. Either.

    And if I ever almost was I’m sure it was a long, long time ago and I’m sure I would of deserved to be. And I’m sure that if it almost did happen, that it occurred (almost) during the haze of a youthful late night and was stupidly inspired by alcohol. And I’m sure that I have forgotten completely about any such long ago ill-advised adventure, that no damage was done, and that I now admit to nothing.

    Sorry about that. Awful early for the iron horse to derail. Back on track now.

    Now that I am a mature taxpaying parent I expect that were I today or tomorrow to be evicted from a public building or grounds that I might, at the minimum, be slightly put out (no pun intended) and maybe even down right pissed off (depending on circumstances). I promise you that no alcohol or misbehaviour on my part would be involved. How about you, Move On pushers? Might you be the least bit irritated if same happened to you.

    What if it happened to your child. Your elementary school child. From his/her public school building. Could it be that somehow your child was deserving of this treatment. Could it be that you would not come to the defense of and advocate for your child using proper established means and channels. Or should you (we) just move on (and ask you to help your child to hurry up and move out).

    Were those brave young men who gave so much on the beaches of Normandy not so long ago an army of sheep, simply following orders from on high. Or did they follow those terrifying orders because they so loved their country and what it offered them, theirs, humanity. A country where one could question authority when appropriate. A great country that allows freedom of speech, whether inspired, eloquent, timely or just plain distasteful. I think they were not sheep nor did they sacrifice in vain. They were all leaders, temporarily willing to be led. And some of them gave so much. And though your use of the phrase “move on” strikes me as thievery, cliché, lazy, and abusive of a well-crafted, important slogan, it is not an insult to our veterans great sacrifices, because they gave to give you the right.
    But can’t you just sit back, victory bought and assured, and think to yourself “mission accomplished.”.

    Off the rails again. Or am I. Speaking of things lifted, stolen. Hmmm. Let’s talk tee pee’s.

    So many of us would love to soar with the eagle, wander boldy with the bear, run swiftly with the deer.
    But in our self-centered-must-have-it-all world it is quite an achievement to live a peaceful life that, on the whole, provides benefit to society. And to live and let live. And to never find one’s self having coffee with Dietrich Eckart in a 1920’s Munich apartment. Wouldn’t it be funny if Hollywood made a movie where the characters had one of two tattoos on their forehead: either “value-added” or “otherwise”.

    More about tee pees.

    Hopefully one day soon many of us can smoke a peace pipe (in a longhouse). And agree that every child in Seattle, in the U.S.A., on the planet, deserves to attend school in a facility as nice as Cooper Elementary. Agree that things would be so much better right now if Chief Sealth had been leading us and the Seattle School Board. Instead of (oops, libelous, nevermind). Come wise Indian Chief and show us a better way. Come, as you are, as you were, as I want…..dang it now, I forgot. We killed and/or disrobed all of them. And oh, the white man’s hangover of guilt. Now I guess all we can do is defer to the wisdom of “the founding mothers”? The first root of Pathfinder’s school. The 1st, not the 4th!!! Wow, wish I had that much high quality, high profile immortality going for me. At taxpayer’s expense. Do students have to recite the Seven Names in order to graduate. Are the Names recited at student assemblies.

    “The second root of Pathfinder is the root of the gifts of the staff.” and “The fourth root of Pathfinder is the deep root, the wellspring. It is the children themselves.” Well, sadly, Cooper’s 2nd and 4th roots are about to be uprooted. And some folks are not happy about it and are using long-established, historically hard-earned civic means to stop it from happening. And your well written, oh so sensitive public opinion is that these people should move on and hurry up and grab their backpacks and teaching supplies and move out. Nice. Do you work at The Seattle Times.

    I think it may be a sad truth of human societies that the more cool and forward-thinking a group of people (a city) thinks it is, the more the exact opposite is the reality.

    Tee pees (continued) and annual pow wows too.

    Aside: “The third root of Pathfinder is the root of Native American tradition.” Whatever.
    When I went to school the third root was associated with scary math. But now math should be fun and all our children will soon magically become theoretical physicists, not just the privileged brilliant few. Embrace your fellow math student, take them by the hand and lead them to higher math. We can all get their together, as a single energized mass, at the same time.

    But wait. I won’t allow you to use that aforementioned white-man’s guilt as the head of your spear (tomahawk) to evict my child from her school and accomplish one more land grab. Well, at least not without laughing at you out loud even as you succeed. Because you are funny. This unjust process will have a place in history, though it is a far cry from the horror of Wounded Knee. Keep on bloggin’. And when our school loses we will stand back and with pain in our collective heart (’cause….we got spirit yes we do we got spirit just like…) and maybe a tear in an eye, excuse ya’ll as you fun-loving Northern-European Americans, wearing war-paint and headdress, do your Native-American Indian dance and kiss the sky.

    Hey, all that kind of brings Gen. G. Custer into the fray. No.? Go get your kid(s) a Happy Meal At mickee D’s on Ca. Ave. across from WS High. And get a plastic toy replica of the glorious General in full cavalier garb astride a road-warrior style motorcycle. Perhaps another sad truth of humanity, the winners write the history books. Well, maybe thanks to these blogs that will be a bit harder to do.

    Dear Move On pushers, have you ever been evicted. You are asking my child to be able to answer that question in the affirmative at a very young age. Don’t agree. Well, if a landlord retains a lawyer to evict a tenant, is it the lawyer doing the evicting or the landlord? I think I know the answer. Well, at least I understand the question anyways.

    Unjustified eviction is a scarring experience. And I dislike new unnecessary scars on my young child as much as the next parent. But maybe ya’ gotta be experienced to have the simpatico. What ever happened to walk a mile in my mocassins. How can you possibly claim an insider’s empathy to the Native American experience if you can’t spit out a single word of sorrow for evicted and scattered neighbor’s kids. Pushers are always an odd collection of folk.

  • Mohamad June 8, 2009 (8:14 pm)

    Thank you soo much for your superb info my kids are amoung those affected and as you mentioned they have been seperated again to different school of which iam fighting hard to have them in the same school,Its been very stressful and dispite what they told us its all going down the drain they got what they wanted and in the end our kids suffer.
    Thanks concern Parent

  • WSparent June 14, 2009 (3:33 pm)

    I can tell you the AH Board was strongly guided by Sundquist. In fact meetings with Sundquist at AH were with the Board only, there was no open meetings.
    AH would not have been a fair closeure either. We have a waitlist and have repeatedly asked for a third kindergarten. Most importantly, our school is a neighborhood school and truely the only one in West Seattle. Why bus our kids out and bus Pathfinder in? Just takes more money for busing and add some pollution to the environment. By the way, there is one family in AH that has kids at Pathfinder. I think the rest are all North of Roxbury.

  • Toolate June 15, 2009 (2:18 am)

    This may shed some light on the subject-

    In Fall, 2008, the School Board actually recommended Arbor Heights for closure for the following reasons:

    This is quoted from a School District document.

    (quoted yet abbreviated)-
    “AH has a planning capacity of 428 and is sufficiently large enough to hold the 391 Pathfinder students…the excess planning capacity at Gatewood, Roxhill, Concord, and Highland Park shows 368 open seats. That is excess capacity combined with the extra 65 seats at WS Elementary (433 total) is far in excess of the 297 AH students need for reassignment…12 of the AH students live in other clusters and would be reassigned to schools in their cluster, and 8 non-residents would be returned to their home district. This leaves 277 current AH students who live in WS South Cluster and 433 seats of excess capacity. Even if that excess is reduced by 25%… there remain 324 excess seats. This is more than sufficient for the 277 Arbor Heights students. Therefore we remain at the recommendation to relocate Pathfinder K-8 to AH and reassign AH students to other schools with the exception of special education programs…”

    I understand that you said your kindergarten was full, as were most in the cluster. At Cooper the kindergarten classes were both at 28, and the District just didn’t want to hire another teacher. There were 4 empty classes at Cooper, and they were turning away kindergartners after the start of they year. I’m sure it was the same story at AH- the District just didn’t want to hire another teacher. SO, it’s not how full your school is, it’s how full your cluster is.
    Also, 202 Pathfinder kids live in the South Cluster and the busing costs would have been less.
    There was more “excess” capacity in the South Cluster, yet they went ahead, against their own recommendations, to close the school in the North cluster, leaving 65 students in the North Cluster without a seat, not taking into account the people moving to Highpoint this summer, and busing children into the south cluster where there was capacity. Furthermore, it was against District policy to bus a child out of his/her cluster because every child is guaranteed a seat in his cluster. Some Cooper kids will spend almost an hour on the bus, if they got a bus at all. The transportation issue is completely screwed up! District just decided to throw many policies out the window to make the Cooper closure work, Now there are split siblings, and if they WERE lucky enough to not be split up, the second sibling will not get transportation to that south cluster school because he is not grandfathered like the original Cooper sibling. The District went against many of its own policies in order to make the Cooper Closure “work” which it clearly doesn’t. Many kids in the North Cluster will be sitting in portables because of this ill conceived closure plan. I sure would like to know what exactly changed the Board’s collective minds and decide to close Cooper. (Maybe more of the Arbor Heights parents are lawyers than Cooper’s, who will ever know for sure, but I’ll bet it had something to do with Sundquist.)

    PS. You’re fortunate that Sundquist “strongly guided” (colluded with) Arbor Heights. He did NOT advocate for Cooper or afford equal representation for Cooper, AT ALL -a school which he is supposed to also represent. Cooper had a community meeting once, (since the Board would not provide a closure hearing for Cooper) and he said he could not answer any questions because there were too many board members there and it would have been construed as a Board meeting. Many at Cooper would like to see him removed from the Board.

    Anyway, I hope that explains the Board’s rationale a bit for you.

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