Bacon and Kool-Aid : The False Choice Edition

I’m surprised that people are surprised that the GASD now recommends moving the administrative offices from the Central Administration Building (CAB) to Bacon. How can this be, one may reasonably ask? Let me explain.

At the time of the closure decision, members of the community and even a number of GASD board members put forth a suggestion of at least keeping the building open and viable. After all, why create yet another abandoned shell in another neighborhood if that could be prevented. Of course, the GASD board and I daresay a large bloc of the community wanted nothing to do with that. Here’s why:

1) A faction of the GASD board wanted to build a centralized elementary school so closing Bacon was a tactical decision to further that strategy. That is why board members seriously advanced an argument that Bacon was the first but likely not the last elementary school to be closed. This also tied with the ever growing lust to pursue  “economies of scale” and “shared services” regardless of the underlying tradeoffs involved in educational and economic outcomes. Therefore to prevent any possibility of Bacon remaining viable, it must be shuttered and sold to drive the incentives and needs for centralization.

2) Rather than make tough choices with redistricting to better balance the school population and better balance the racial profiles of the schools, the GASD’s decision to shutter Bacon would enable the GASD to adopt its magnet school strategy with its attendant lottery selection process. The magnet school programs would allow the district to claim a fair and equitable process in the racial composition of the schools and also address the underperformance of some of the elementary schools. We now know that the magnet programs fail to correlate with academic performance and as proof, that is why McNulty found itself In Need of Improvement via the NYSED Report Cards even though it was the first and most touted magnet program. Even as of today, we have elementary schools falling short on their overall performance.

In terms of the lottery, the GASD never considered, as no one in the broader community seemingly cares or considers, the neighborhood impacts of a lottery system. My question to the proponents of the lottery remain: if I were a parent concerned with educational achievement of my kids, why would I move to a district where I have a 50% chance of my kids enrolling in a school In Need of Improvement? Why do I as a real estate purchaser subject myself to random chance as to where my kids will enroll in elementary school?

What fails to get more traction or raise eyebrows is how the lottery utterly removes choice as to where your kids will attend school. Ironically, what is one of the primary and most critical factors on where you decide to purchase a home — the school district.

3) Not closing Bacon would mean cuts would have to come from other programs or schools. This was made astoundingly clear on the eve of the closure vote when the administration and teachers of the middle school advocated against keeping Bacon open if it meant cuts to their programs. Let me just say that school districts have their own set of politics and sometimes it’s quite clear where the protected  interests rest. Keep that in mind for the in-process budget as well. The point is simply that better choices existed. The meme of “our hands are tied” and “we had no other choice” rings false.

Next edition will be on the “Financials” of the Closure.

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