Saturday, December 22, 2007

What should be the norm, not the exception

CM Emily Evans is still pondering the public schools in her district and the participation and non-participation by some parents. We could use a few more councilmen to look around their districts and ask similar questions and then look at the BOE and ask for specific remedies. CM Evans blogs:

This purely anecdotal observation is or should be disturbing to public school educators because my district is predominately middle class, property owning and educated. In most cities, people like those who live in the 23rd district form the backbone of the public school system. They are more likely to have the kind of job that lets them out of work to participate in parent-teacher conferences or volunteer as a tutor or teacher"s aide. They are more likely to have a parent that does not work outside the home and is available to organize and execute fundraisers. They are more likely to be educated themselves and as a result have high expectation for the education of their children. They are also generally politically aware and inclined to become activists in support of public education.
Then she lists 7 items (she has two #5's) that are part of the decision making process by parents in her district.
1. Influence and control
2. Plant and equipment
3. Teachers
4. Safety
5. K-4, 5-8 and 9-12
5. School size
6. Academic excellence
She ends with this:
But magnets, like private schools, skim the best teachers, students and families off the zoned schools and educate in a way that should be the norm, not the exception. Academic magnets are one of the few ways we keep a limited grip on middle class families. But for reasons I have never fully understood, we only offer this option to a limited number of families each year and force the rest to find other alternatives.
I'm with her on this. If you're not lucky enough to win the lottery, know someone who can mentor you in the convoluted choice process or can't afford to live in one of the better districts...the MNPS choices are a cruel joke.


Metro Councilmember Emily Evans said...

Ms Brooks:

I have corrected the numbering. My sincere apologize for the holiday-influenced lax editing.


Emily Evans
Metro Council District 23

Kay Brooks said...

Quite understandable. :-)

din819go said...

Kay and Emily -- A few other comments --

Emily--- It would be good to say why you choose to put your children in Oak Hill when you have some of the best schools in your area in particular Julia Green.

Second, choice says it all. Parents are much more involved when the choose where to send their children. All schools in the district, in my opinion, should be choice schools.

Third -- the academic or regular magnets do NOT have the best teachers by any means. My son in his sophomore year at an academic magnet has had several teachers we believe are not qualified to teach. There are many others that are worse that he has been fortunate NOT to have. These teachers, like those in the zoned schools are protected by tenure. (The magnets do not have the best leadership either.)

Fourth -- we need strong leaders in all building, the principals need the ability to hire and FIRE the teachers. Stop the union as the teachers can get liability insurance from other means. Stop tenure as this prevents the bad teachers from being ousted.

Fifth-- make all schools choice. Have the money follow the students. Have the schools pay a management fee to the central office for payroll, insurance, maintenance, curriculum, food service and not much else.

Sixth - if schools do not perform and or parents chose not to go there shut them down.

Seventh - -pay teachers for their proven ability and experience. Yes, this means market value payment for high quality work.

This plan allows schools that do not perform to be shut down. This plan allows schools that do not attract students to be shut down. This plan allows for poor and ineffective teachers to be fired.

Transportation via the yellow buses and the MTA should be provided for all students. There are creative ways to make all schools open to all students. Let's find the ways to make this happen!

We need qualified leadership in every position in the central office which becomes more like a management company in this scenario.

We need a paradigm shift in the way public education is delivered in this city. We can be (and should be) a leader for the nation.

Maybe then many of the private schools that came out of white flight will close as there is no longer a need for their services.

Just thoughts -- thanks for reading! Happy Holidays to all!