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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

We Teach 'Em, You Kill 'Em? Mmm...Not So Fast

Seattle is a weird high-school centric city, a place where the high school you went to is often considered more significant than whatever college you sacrificed your braincells at. Me, I went to big fat stoner rock'n'roll Roosevelt High School, which also managed to graduate (or expel) Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue), Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Stefanie Sargent (7 Year Bitch), Duff McKagan (Guns N'Roses), Bill Rieflin (Ministry) and Eldon Hoke (The Mentors).

Which is why my ears perked up today -- adjacent to Roosevelt is Garfield High School, which just made the news for graduating 44 valedictorians, each with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Some screamed grade inflation, but most of these students earned their "A"s in advanced placement and honors classes. Garfield is one of the best high schools in the city, a triumph of public education with a racially diverse student body (31% African American) that regularly produces bundles of National Merit and Ivy League-bound scholars.

What the headlines didn't note is that Garfield was also one of the first public high schools in America last month to tell No Child Left Behind to go fuck itself.

Under Section 9528 of the NCLB act, high schools must give military recruiters access to its students, including personal home contact information, or risk losing federal funding. The Garfield PTSA voted 25 to 5 this May to adopt a resolution saying "public schools are not a place for military recruiters:"
Like so many schools today, Garfield grapples with painful budget cuts, loss of teachers, and dwindling resources. The school's opposition to military recruitment seems, in part, a result of parents' growing realization that tax money spent for the Iraq war is money not spent on children's educations or other domestic needs.

"They're spending $4 billion a month in Iraq, but we have to cut our race relations class, which costs $12,500," Ms. Hagopian pointed out. "That's an important class for our kids."
Evidently a commitment to academic excellence is consistent with a desire to keep the kids you struggle to educate from becoming cannon fodder.

Makes perfect sense to me.

(And bonus points for the first person in the comments to name Garfield's most famous graduate. Hint: there's not even a close second.)