School Board Announces “All Highly-Capable, All Special-Needs” Elementary Schools

The opening of the new Northwood Elementary School will enable the Mercer Island School District to cater to a community of students who are all considered highly-capable and/or special-needs by their parents. (Image credit: Mercer Island School District)

At last week’s opening ceremony for the new Northwood Elementary School, the Mercer Island School Board announced that starting with the 2016-17 school year, all Mercer Island elementary schools will be dedicated exclusively to serving students labeled as highly-capable and special-needs.

“With four elementary schools in the district,” said school board member X.S. Levi, “we are now able to realize our goal of having two elementary schools dedicated entirely to highly-capable-labeled students, one to special-needs-labeled students, and one to students who are labeled both highly-capable and special-needs.” Citing federal privacy regulations, Levi declined to state which elementary schools will serve which groups of students.

Levi explained that these changes were inspired by the work of Island resident and University of Washington archaeologist Harrison Wheeler, who has argued that Lake Washington is in fact the once-believed-to-be-mythical Lake Wobegon. Wheeler’s research attempts to prove that Mercer Island’s status as the only inhabited island within this lake explains Mercer Island’s well-known propensity for the Lake Wobegon effect.

Mercer Island School District officials note that these new classifications will affect neither the student bodies nor the pedagogical approaches of the elementary schools. Said a spokesperson for the district: “This change is specifically to respond to feedback from our wonderfully-involved community of Mercer Island parents.”

Still, not all Islanders support this change. Observed one Faben Point resident: “I don’t understand what the fuss is about. Why don’t these parents home-school their children until they are old enough to attend Lakeside?”