Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rezoning hearing at Stratford

Last evening there was a community meeting about rezoning the Stratford Cluster. I was disappointed to see only about 35 adults in attendance, about ten of them being teachers and/or school administrators.

MNPS spokesman Larry Collier did a great job at handling some convoluted questions and emotional questioners. He earned his keep last evening and, he told me, that was an easy meeting. It may be bonus time for him by the time this is done.

One questioner accused the administration of closing Dalewood Middle School, an under performing school, in order to boost its standing with the state.

Litton Middle School was chosen to stay open, according to Mr. Collier, because it had 'good community support and was in good standing.' That was the tipping point, he said. The lesson here may be to look around your school and neighborhood and create/bolster your parent group and connect with the neighborhood so that when times like these come, you've already got an advocacy network in place and ready to speak up.

The current plan, and of course this is all still a work in progress until the BOE actually votes on it, hopefully on or before December 11, that Dalewood would house the Maplewood 9th grade academy to free up space while Maplewood is being renovated and then do the same for Statford the next year. After that, it may host other options schools such as a single gender school.

There was some discussion about how this rezoning was going to mesh with the new Strategic Plan the community has been working on. Mr. Collier said that trying to keep elementary students, especially, closer to their homes was an effort to fulfill the part of the plan that wanted more parental involvement. Mr. Collier stated that the administration couldn't guarantee parents are going to get involved, but this provided them a better opportunity. He used the Hillwood Cluster as a prime example of students being shipped hither and yon, unable to get to school on time as a result and while, yes, that likely meant their schools wouldn't be diverse. It is time, again, for the BOE to discuss what weight to give diversity in regard to education. He made it clear that the rezoning won't really impact the diversity numbers in the Stratford Cluster. He reminded us that the BOE will have another study session and have more community meetings before a decision is made.

When asked how this was going to impact teachers and staff Mr. Collier assured the questioner that staff could follow their students or choose a voluntary transfer but they won't lose their jobs.

Gracie Porter ended the meeting by saying that as a community we've go to work on creating the diversity we say we want in our schools. She reminded us that Nashville is 28% African-American but its schools are 48% African-American. "We've got to get white parents back in Metro schools."


November 6 – Bass Middle at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by George Thompson
November 8 – Brick Church at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by George Thompson
November 12 - Maplewood High at 6 p.m. - hosted by Gracie Porter
November 15 - East Literature Magnet at 6:30 p.m. - Public Hearing

Davvid Fox did respond to my e-mail asking about meetings. He's still working out the details. No word from Ed Kindall.


din819go said...

Kay -- one thought. I disagree with Gracie Porter's comment on needing to get whites back in the system. This is just part of the problem -- MNPS needs to get the middle class from all demographic subgroups back in the picture.

The percent of "whites" attending the public schools and the percent of caucasian (non-middle eastern) is misleading. The percent of whites caucasion) attending the district is less the percent shown by the district. The question is how much less.

Still -- we need the middle class from all demographic subgroups back in the public schools. That and tons more choice and parental involvement.


Kay Brooks said...

You're right to say it's the middle class they should be focusing on.

It's curious to me that after all this time, we're still focused on color. And even those who would ordinarily not want us to think about color, default to color themselves. What makes anyone think that white students would be the magic bullet?