Regarding the inequalities among the different schools, Spokane Public Schools leaders are in a really tough spot. Dissatisfied parents, and additional critics of the plan, are expecting too much.
Schools can’t solve cultural and economic disparities like housing, employment, transportation, health and race. These other issues require coordinated policies of all the other kinds of elected leaders. Without significant movement toward fairness on these conditions, schools can only do their best. That’s their specialty. Schools must deliver the best possible outcomes, including continuous adjustments, for all kids in every school. Efforts should be equally applied, using all the money and powers available to the school board. Parents and advisory interest groups have a vital role, but their additional pressure is needed on other entrenched inequalities.
Location proximities are efficient for many kinds of organizations and businesses. Neighborhood schools are a fine idea for many reasons, but they reflect the realities of severe income inequality. Housing trends in Spokane are pushing all this in the wrong direction. No amount of SPS fiddling with boundaries and busing will solve that. School outcomes reflect society’s ills, they’re not a primary cause.
I think we have good leaders on the school board and administration, and I applaud the openness they general apply to tough decisions. If all our elected leaders practiced such transparency, we’d make some progress toward fairness on tough topics.
Making any school better is a powerful opportunity for parents, and kids, one day and one project at a time. Pay attention, please, parents. Get involved, and balance your helping with your criticism. Many post-pandemic families are appreciating teachers more than ever. It’s an opportune time to rebuild both trust and hope. Let’s work together.