Friday, May 9, 2008

Why you should give a shit about kids and their education

(I mean, besides the fact that if you enjoyed school, found it to be challenging and rewarding, or even at least a little engaging, then most likely someone gave a shit about yours . . . )

Neighborhood schools are an essential part of community development. They bring pride to the neighborhood as well as involovement into the school. K-8 education in one building means that kids and families grow up with each other for 9 years and develop relationships, they create longer and more significant relationships with the administration so that discipline problems are decreased during middle school years and better, more individualized guidance is given for high school choice and beyond, it gives the older students a chance to mentor and be a positive role model for younger children. They tie students to their edudcation, not forcibly, but naturally. Neighborhood schools and community schools are the trend in many urban centers that have been looking for ways to improve their student achievement as well as their family involvement, community contribution and overall learning culture.
With Anthony Amato at the helm of the Kansas City Mo School District, there were changes made and feelings hurt and personalities that clashed, but one good move that was made was in the direction of neighborhood schools. Right now, kids are bussed all over town to this school or that one, with no real effort put into creating communities of learning. Kids are at the whim of their parents jobs, or where they can find cheaper rent, or whatever else motivates housing choices. We have a weak sense of community in many parts of our urban core, families have no real reason to stay in one area over another. With the creation of neighborhood schools - schools we can walk to and pick our kids up from without a 30-minute commute or busride, schools that employ residents of our community, schools that reach out to families because they are accessible and close, schools that host neighborhood meetings and social events, schools that view my children as an opportunity, not a challenge - we are giving families a reason to stay in a certain area, giving kids stability and confidence, as well as encouragement to work through their own challenges and a place to do that. With neighborhood schools, we give kids a network of adults, authority figures, and mentors to help bolster their confidence in their own success, assistance when they are struggling and an incentive to stay on course.
With Marilyn Simmons, one of the main opponents to Amato, as president of the school board, many of the positive plans and successful programs of the past few years for the school district are at stake. Not because they didn't work or show promise, but in stubborn defiance of past leadership. Its wrong to do to our kids, its wrong to do to our community. I know there is a lack of interest, a defeatist attitude when it comes to our school district, but this is one program that is already in effect, on its path to fruition, that we can not let die. This immature bs is what keeps KCMSD from getting out of the rut of provisional accredidation, and our local image of failure - but its because we don't say anything and we don't know what's going on that they can do whatever they want without any public discourse - besides us saying that the school board is ineffectual. The school board members have proven to be very effectual at getting what they want and fighting their own battles at the expense of our children and their education.

(Here's to hoping Airick is making some friends!!)


Waldo Oiseau said...

well said!

thedude said...

I don't think the K-8 schools had much to do with Amato wanting neighbourhood schools.

With roles shrinking, KC has many school that are at like 60% capacity. That means the district has to pay a ton of money maintaining buildings that are underutilized. For years, they have been trying to shut down schools. Before Amato, Taylor came up with a plan to shut down many schools. Parents of the selected schools were outraged, so the board stopped the school closures.

Amato's plan made perfect political sense. Phase out the middle schools. Don't shut them down until the kids have moved up in grades. That kept down the number of angry parents, plus let the district consolidate the number of buildings in use.

KC Sponge said...

thedude -
Just another reason they should remain a focus of the school district. The middle school model will cost us more real dollars, as well as the loss of real opportunity in the neighborhood school initiative. I don't care his motives, its silly to just dump something with so much promise because you don't like the guy.

I'm taking in all the happenings in Kansas City and saving you all the trouble . . . I'll let you know whether to soak it up or squeeze it out!!