Kids on the Block

I’m hardly surprised to see kids once again lose out given a GASD decision on Bacon School.
At the time of the initial closure decision, the GASD convinced the general public that no other viable option existed for Bacon other than closure. Even more, the GASD told voters that we had too many classrooms and not enough kids. Indeed, we might even need to close a second school. And , best of all, we could increase class sizes with no measurable negative impact to academic performance thanks to the wonderful construct of magnet schools.
But, most, most importantly, we would protect our taxpayers , especially our seniors, with tantalizing savings in taxes given that Bacon would be closed and sold off. Well, with a caveat that we not sell to the Buddhists because our seniors are wholly terrified of Buddhists, tax rates be damned!
While the recent board actions to move administrative offices, add classrooms and make improvements to the school further invalidates the initial business case for closing the school (it’s long been invalidated as discussed at length on this blog), it’s still important to note how kids and families with kids routinely lose out in community decisions.
With closure of Bacon, families picked up and either moved out of the city or placed kids into other districts due to the simple fact that home buyers tend to be selective on where they purchase given the schools their kids would attend. So when Bacon closed, this was quite disruptive to a number of families, especially in light of the lottery system in which the school your child attends is random. Now, that would be fine if all choices were equal, but it is more than clear that we have top performing elementary schools and lower-performing elementary schools. Again, more disruption to kids and families.
Ironically, Bacon was a higher performing school and by closing it, kids not only lost a chance to attend there but were displaced into lower performing schools with now even higher class sizes. And kids already at the other other ¬†schools, lost too with higher class sizes — a lose-lose for all. Again, kids and families lose out.
Sadly, the GASD’s poor policy-making yielded none of the projected savings and disrupted where and how kids learned in the district. Who bore the brunt of the closure costs: kids and their families. And we see now see the results– declining test scores, I’d daresay due to compromising the elementary education of the current middle and high school students.
Sadder still is that this simple observation creates no accountability or consequences to the closure proponents. The reason why is that families and kids really have no unified political voice and platform . Therefore, none of the pundits, board members, community leaders all so strident on the need to close the school, face any pushback or consequence. Indeed, they still largely maintain their soapboxes and microphones and titles regardless of the veneer they peddled and continue to peddle.
Moving to today, we see that the recent decision on Bacon to undo the past decisions on Bacon displaces kids from the newly created and steadily advancing rec center. So once again, with the proposed changes, kids will lose out.
And let’s remember all the naysayers against a rec center for kids — too much money, too much tax, yadda, yadda. To them, it’s simply unconscionable that community resources and efforts go to kids, whether it’s recreational or educational. It’s the same chorus who thinks we solve our academic performance issues by eliminating pre-K and kindergarten to save money because what a lower performance school district needs are less resources, not more. I kid you not.
If you step back and see what will happen in a year or two at Bacon, you will realize that we are back to the same point we were seven ¬†years ago when the school was closed. The only exception being that if you’re a kid or a family with kids in the district, you’ve lost a lot along the way.

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3 Responses

  1. Tim Becker says:

    I agree with you on everything except on a few points-
    Looking at the data (using – it’s very hard to read a trend due to the fact that testing standards have changed twice now in the past 3 years (in 2010 and 2013) resulting in drops in almost every school district during those years. Just “eyeballing” the graphs, it seems most schools have either been holding steady or improving after the 2010 drop. So I’m not so convinced we are seeing drops in test scores due to Bacon closing.
    Also, a minor point, the placement of kids at the elementary schools is not random. We were able to specify our preference for our son for both pre-k and kindergarten and both times, we got the school we wanted.

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      TIm, I agree that my comment is subjective; I used ‘daresay’ to suggest that it was subjective. That said, your point still stands and is sound.
      In terms of lottery, not everyone managed to get into their preferred schools and I do not think there is any guarantee that you will get your first pick. I think there is an element of randomness to the process. I’m also aware of cases where students in the same household attended different schools, not by choice.

    • Tim Becker says:

      Hmmmm…. It’s a mysterious process then. Which completely goes contrary to the “magnet” concept.

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