It’s elementary, my dear…

1 Nov

Our kids attend a small rural public school. There are 103 students in attendance, kindergarten through 5th grade. It is a cheerful place with shiny hardwood floors in the hallways, happy smiles on the teachers faces and the kids are all known by first name; as are parents and grandparents. Generations of local residents have attended this special 50+ year old elementary school and it acts as a hub for this unique community. Sound too good to be true?

Last month the School Board voted 10 to 1 to close this little school down for the 2010/2011 fiscal year as part of a rezone (of which ironically, the overall rezone has yet to be voted on). The stated issues were capacity and funding due to the small size of our school.

Our school was inequitable because our average classroom size was only 17:1. It was inequitable to our students because they were not offered classes in foreign language or extracurricular activities. Inequitable both ways. No alternative to closure was presented, discussed or even entertained.

Rural and urban schools are different. Rural and suburban schools are different. Cookie-cutter, one-size fits all approaches to our public education system are not working. Smaller schools and smaller districts are better for the overall community in rural areas.

Closing down this little school has been a blow to the community. Teachers wonder where they will work, how far they will have to commute. Students wonder if they will get lost in the system, lost in the higher student/teacher ratio’s, whether the new staff will even know their names. Generations of people see their connection to the area unraveling through a system that has lost its concern for the community, lost its accountability to the children and turned a deaf ear to parents’ plea’s to keep the school open.

Just about the only thing the system has accomplished is the appearance of an arrogant, willful, objective towards leaving these children behind. Sound like we got our words mixed up here? Are we missing something? Propaganda statements about education reform have created a wide divide between theory and practice.

All in the name of budgeting, streamlining and efficiency. Efficient bus routes, clean feeder patterns, capacity… I keep missing the humanity in this equation. So do our community members.

I think it is time for a smaller district, one that can effectively represent its constituents.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: