School district doesn't offer choice

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'd like to respond to Juneau School District Superintendent Peggy Cowan's inaccurate characterization of school choice cards as "incomplete" when completed without including a "second choice."

When the school district and its board place "choice" at the top of their stated priorities for improving programs, no one, including Cowan, told us that if your choice is the same as too many others (as they were clearly warned in multiple meetings), you'll have to make a different choice. Or that the agreed upon priority for sibling placement would be quietly deleted and families would be told to send their children to two schools. That's not choice. That's coercion. It's also dishonest to call it a choice when, for half the student body, there is none.

Too many of us have lived through the "choices" at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School to know what false hope this type of academy system, one that divides student groups and the best teachers, has to offer most students.

Whenever you hear Cowan or her principals say the system is based on choice, don't believe them. It's based on expediency, just like her decision to move the high school start time up, despite overwhelming opposition (another disregarded choice).

Jean M. Mischel


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