We are all collectively watching our world change in both big and small ways on both a global and local scale.
We are seeing ourselves do beautiful and compassionate things, and then we are seeing how those in power can capitalize on the intensity of this pandemic to further grab power and lessen people’s abilities to have choice and freedom. We are watching this on the world stage, as well as here at home.
The Port Townsend School District has used these difficult pandemic times to make back-room decisions to end choice in education for High School students by “phasing out” the only alternative learning program in the district. They have done this without any input from the OCEAN families, students or community members. This is an attempt to take those students and the money attached to them and forcefully give it to the high school with no consideration whatsoever about the needs of the students themselves. This is wrong thinking, and not at all in alignment with the values of our community. These students matter more than the dollar signs they represent.
Right now, more than ever, students need choices in their education, and the OCEAN program has a long history of serving the kids who simply can’t fit into the regular “box.” These are youth who are pursuing passions or talents in a way that requires flexibility in schedule and curriculum. They are youth with diverse sensory needs and need something different than what they are offered in regular high school. They are youth who, due to circumstances beyond their control, are forced into the work world and must complete school work around a job. They are elite athletes or have families that travel for long periods of time. They are students who want to be equal partners in the creation of their individualized learning plan. They are students who crave a small, committed learning community that supports them as individuals to help them thrive.
I am calling on this community to rise up and say No! to the Port Townsend School District’s attempts to secretly and quietly force the assimilation or exclusion of students who don’t thrive in a mainstream school setting. Call your school board members and tell them that you are opposed to back-room deals and unethical behavior.
As a parent who had to rely on alternative education for my first high school student — and I’ve got three more bound for high school — I want to know we will have options.