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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 31, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Seattle school closures

An unnecessary obstacle

Gayle Johnson’s good information about the successes of Seattle’s African American Academy [“Don’t close African American Academy,” guest column, Jan. 28] makes one wonder why Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson wants to close it, and what impact the closure will have on the academy’s students.

Working with teenage dropouts and young adults with criminal histories, I learned how a lack of stability affected their lives. School is often the only constant in the lives of young people who have experienced such destabilizing factors as poverty, family conflicts and frequent changes of living situation.

Take away their school and they suffer.

If you close a school, you shake up the lives of the students and put an unnecessary obstacle in their path. At the African American Academy, the students — they are called “scholars” — are treated with respect. They learn to treat others with respect. They experience success in the classroom.

Take away the classroom, a familiar environment, and you invite failure into their vulnerable lives.

African Americans in Seattle schools already have a very high dropout rate: more than 50 percent. These dropouts are a significant part of the school district’s financial problem because every student who drops out reduces state financial support.

The African American Academy should be retained and expanded to include high-school grades so the scholars can continue to benefit from the academy’s rigorous and nurturing curriculum.

— Charles Davis, Seattle

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