Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Rumor Mill Grinds On

The long-anticipated new boundaries for middle school and high school came out in draft form this past week. I won't bore you with the details. Do they really matter to me and mine? Not in the sense that my kids could have found themselves in a different school seeing as we're just blocks from one of the high schools and far closer to one middle school than the other. But in the sense that the district was purportedly social engineering the boundaries, sure, that matters.

Curiously, for all the bluster about trying to make the schools match in some socio-economic way, the new boundaries make the secondary level significantly more imbalanced, sending poorer kids to the schools my children attend and making the schools my children attend more ethnically and racially diverse. [In this town, diversity and income are highly entwined.] And, believe me, there was a lot of bluster about balancing on those points, but the recommended boundaries seem to not reflect that at all.

Instead, the overriding concern seems to be this strong desire to have feeder schools: these elementary schools lead to this middle school which leads to this high school. The kid who wet his pants the second day of kindergarten? He'll be sitting next to you at high school graduation. In fact, all 19 of your fellow kindergarten classmates will be there. That's the feeder system. And that idea seems to be what's, well, feeding the boundaries.

I'm not a true believer of the feeder system. Sure, it works great if schools exist in a perfect pattern, but the schools here aren't. So this feeder system has folks geographically closer to one high school being sent to a different high school. It also forces one middle school to increase in the number of socioeconomically disadvantaged students while the other decreases. The impact on the high school will ultimately be mitigated on that score because it also houses a county-wide arts magnet. [For the time being as I understand efforts are being made to make it into a county-wide charter and ditch the current location for a new one in another part of the county.]

Didn't I say somewhere I wouldn't bore you with the details? Oops.

Folks at Youngest's elementary school who live in certain areas are happy dancing that their fourth graders and fifth graders who were slated to go to our middle school are going to be sent to the richer and whiter one instead. I'm doing my part in dampening their enthusiasm by noting that rumor has it that the principal at that middle school is retiring. And that the principal at the elementary school is going to go there instead.

It's a true joy to see their crestfallen faces.


S said...

Ugh. It certainly doesn't sound like people are planning wisely, or even very ethically. On the other hand, I would HATE to be the people doing the planning. I think that it would be so difficult to get it right, and to satisfy everyone...

Patois42 said...

Sarah, I think they're trying to do the very best they can. Truly. But the stated need for that feeder concept leaves everyone kind of stuck with this.

Magpie said...

our town has three elementary schools, and two middles, and one high. because both middle schools are 5-8, one elem gets divided in half when they go to middle. there was a proposal on the table to change the middle school config to a 5-6 and a 7-8. the administration basically shot it down because "it's not a true middle school" and "too many transitions" and "5-6 would end up being elementary school" and other bullshit.

Tara R. said...

Can't tell you how happy I am to be out of that kind of crazy. The kiddos are old enough that they get to pick their own schools.


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