School District Master Planning: Where Were the Parents of the Economically Disadvantaged and Hispanic Kids?
I was having dinner with a friend last week and we were talking about the School Board’s push to realign grades. The district has said they are realigning grades in order to offer full day kindergarten which in turn will help economically disadvantaged kids and our hispanic population catch up with their peers educationally by 3rd grade.
This was discussed initially by the School District’s Master planning Committee and then one day the Superintendent came into a Master Planning Committee and announced it was her decision to make and she was moving forward with full day kindergarten and realigning grades. This in turn caused a cascading effect that led to tearing down a school, moving it across town, adding on to the high school, and potentially rebuilding a campus.
My friend had a good point about this. She asked, “Why are we realigning grades? I explained the district’s rationale about Hispanic and economically disadvantaged kids needing some help. She said, “OK. How many parents of these populations were on the Master Planning Committee?” I responded, “well it was mostly school board, administrators, teachers, the planning company, and two people from the community.” She asked, “Do the two community members have hispanic kids or are they economically disadvantaged?” I said that I didn’t know for sure, but probably not.
She just shook her head.
She has a good point. At best it comes off as a little bit condescending where it’s another case where an outsider assumes to know what’s best for a group of children. At worst, this “oversight” will cause the entire effort (and expense) to be wasted.
What could have been done differently? While I understand the point of master planning is to think long-term, it seems the changes being pushed are generally based on helping an underserved population. So why not include a few representatives on the committee from those populations? What if they told you something critical, that you hadn’t accounted for. What if they would have told you that a majority of kids from those populations live in town and if they have to go all the way to Ecker hill for 5th-8th grade it’s likely they’ll drop out of school. Now, I’m completely making that up, because I don’t have enough knowledge of what the issues are and reasons why these kids are really having trouble. Did the committee have enough information?
And that’s the point. I heard ZERO discussion about these types of issues. It was as if the following simple equation was scientific fact:
All Day Kindergarten for Hispanic Kids = Success
It will be great to have an expanded high school, a new field house, a shiny Treasure Mountain Junior High, better locker rooms, an enhanced gym, and a better theater for Drama class, but have we solved the problem we allegedly set out to solve? I guess we’ll see.