Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More School Closures


The district is ready to close more schools. the people in charge don't seem to know (or care?) that this is a cycle that doesn't end. They close the schools where students who have completely given up on the educational system say that they are finally paid attention to. Apparently the test scores are more important than making the kids feel wanted or encouraging them to attend school. A lot of the schools that the district closes have only been open for a few years.

One of these schools that is about to be closed is Sankofa Academy. Sankofa started in 2005. It is just beginning its third year. Does anyone here think that just over two years is enough time for a school to prove itself? A raise of hands, please, if you do. That's right, I didn't think so.

The principal at Sankofa has spent years trying to plan for the school's opening. Of course, the school wasn't perfect. It started with grades 1-3 and 6 and 7. This is obviously a very awkward group of ages, and the district eliminated the middle school grades. Before that, the middle school kids caused a lot of disruption - what self-respecting 7th grader wants to be in a school with first graders? Even though the discipline problems have been eliminated for the most part, the district wants to close the school.

Does it seem to anyone else that the school was set up for failure? And then blamed for failing?

The other reason that Sankofa is being closed is because of low enrollment. Oakland is pouring money into creating small schools, and then punishing them for being small. After spending all this money (and years!) opening the school, they're willing to close it after less than three years instead of trying to support it.

And they're surprised that parents are pulling their kids out of the district??

The other school being closed, Burckhalter, was just modernized - at a cost of millions of dollars - and after the changes, parents were hoping to re-start a PTA and change things. But the district doesn't want to give them that chance. Why would they spend so much money on a school just to close it?

Of course, all these closures just alienate parents further. When a parent - and a community - fights to keep their children's school open and the district steamrolls them, closing it without listening... why are they surprised that these parents are sending their kids to private schools?

In 2000, when I started, the district had 54,000 students. Now it is less than 39,000.

I don't think I can write a letter to the editor or to the district since I'm still an employee. But the rest of you, feel free. I'll help you.

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