Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Feed Me

Today is the last of three community meetings being held to discuss changing the boundaries for the elementary, middle and high schools. Also on the table, and appearing to attract the most attention, is the proposal to change Youngest's by-lottery school to a neighborhood one. The school district powers-that-be and folks who have felt the existence of the school smacks of elitism and is indefensible have finally stumbled on a way to make it a neighborhood school: go whole-hog-out for feeder systems.

The "feeder" system means the students in all of these three or four elementary school go to this one middle school and then to this one high school. Apparently, that's an extremely desirable way of educating kids. I say "apparently" because I've actually seen no research on it that indicates that is true. As a military brat who moved through many, many schools, I didn't grow up that way and I never lived anywhere long enough to see if that's how it is "normally" done. It certainly hasn't been the case in this school district for the 10 years my kids have been attending school. I guess I could file a grievance against the district for not having feeder schools in place way back then. It seems to me that if it's such a great way of doing things, it should have been done long ago, right?

Location. Location. Location. That's the crux of the feeder system working (or not). Where the lottery school is currently sited really does make it near impossible to abide by the feeder system without making that school a neighborhood one. Add on the recommendation that all students get grandfathered into their current school, and parents of kids at the lottery school are essentially forced to resign themselves to it being converted to a neighborhood one.

Since its inception more than 35 years ago, there have been attempts to make the school a neighborhood one. It is finally going to succeed.

And so there are winners and there are losers. And we've spent another enormous amount of energy and time and resources and brain power working against each other to do what's best for...I don't know who we were all fighting for. But meanwhile, as we fight this fight, the GATE program is being eliminated, high school math teacher positions are being eliminated, backbiting among teachers and administrators is going on at some schools, personal attacks get very public airings, and we get to see feeder patterns implemented that make one middle school richer and whiter while the other becomes poorer and with higher numbers of ESL students.

Go team!

As for me and mine, I am starting to believe the hype that the middle schools are going to suck in terms of overcrowding and inequality and poor program selections and am looking to the future for Youngest. Maybe a charter school is the way to go on the middle school level. Gee, I wonder if anyone is working on getting one of those up and going?

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