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What about the children?

What about the children?

By Shedrick Dukes

There is a quiet storm rumbling in the 33311 area and it isn’t the result of atmospheric pressure. Pressure, nonetheless, is the cause of the surging winds that are encircling our local schools. There is a big change about to take place and the reason, simple though it may sound, is because, as Dr. Osgood stated last Thursday, January 17 at New Hope Baptist, “We have failed the children”.

The plans on the table are for Sunland Park Elementary to be “re-purposed” into a primary K-2/3, Lauderdale Manors Elementary to be “re-purposed” into a Parent Center, Arthur Ashe Middle will be “repurposed” into an Adult Vocational Center and Lauderhill Middle will be “repurposed” into a, 6-12 academy. “Repurposed” has not been clearly defined, but it’s a lot like closing schools and reopening them as “something else”.

The reason for these seemingly drastic measures was cited in recent school board community meetings as the result of 10 years of roller coaster performances, as measured by FCAT test scores (see December 11, 2012 School Board Workshop report). There is plenty of blame being tossed around. From the school board saying low performing schools, the staff saying poor parental involvement and very little school board support, to the parents saying poor leadership and inadequate teachers.  While all of this is going on, looming over the next few days is the State’s deadline for action of Feb. 1, 2013. If no adjustments are made then the State will act on what’s proposed or create its own solution.

What is troubling about the decisions being made is that no statistical or concrete data has been demonstrated to justify the changes. In September and October 2012, community forums and steering committee meetings were scheduled to review the data. We are told that staff discussed test results and possible reform initiatives. The minutes from these meetings have not been provided to the community. The staff that I’ve talked to say these proposals are not what they wanted. Some feel the minutes have been “accidentally” lost.  Hmmm.

I’m concerned! My motivation to even write about these concerns comes from experience.  I’ve taught at Lauderdale Manors Elementary, was an administrator at Sunland Park Elementary; I currently mentor over 40 boys at Arthur Ashe Middle and I am a business partner with two other elementary schools. In addition, I have two children who attend Broward schools and I live in the 33311. I’m concerned!

What will it take for our children to be given a chance at educational success without another 10 year ride on the failure roller coaster? Is it possible that amidst ALL the administrators in Broward County there are not four leaders capable of improving these schools? For real??


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