Friday, April 12, 2013

A Missed Opportunity in Education by Mrs. Dorothy Barron

  A Missed Opportunity in Education by Mrs. Dorothy Barron

Recently, there was talk of a large city closing a number of schools from what appeared to have been as a result of low enrollment and financial limitations. Without having heard directly from each side or each side’s position, I will not try and elaborate on this particular situation. As one who experienced a similar situation with another large city and school closings, I want to focus on two issues concerning school closings. The first issue looks at school closings’ direct effect upon those for whom Educators and Education Systems are in business to serve, which are children/students; the second issues consist of a missed opportunity in Education.

Generally, when neighborhood or community schools close students are often bussed or must travel and go to school(s) outside their communities. Children/Students in general and especially those of elementary school level due to age and level of maturity should not have to deal with being bussed outside their neighborhood unless the Parent(s) has made a choice to do so. I know there are pros and cons; understandable, but in this particular context on today, the focus is on the students’ well-being and safety. By no means is it being advocated here that students be forced to remain in schools that are inferior both physically and academically; such will be alluded to in the second issue mentioned.

Regarding the first issue, let us briefly consider some of the disadvantages and effects upon students as a result of neighborhood or community school closings and students bussed outside their neighborhoods:

·         Additional burden(s) upon students – many within society would be surprised at the number of students who must fend for themselves. Parents cannot be in two places at once. Often Parents must leave early for work and many children- young children are responsible for getting up, ready and getting themselves to and from school. Some young children/students have responsibilities equal to those of some adults.

·         Busing students outside their communities often places students in potential situations of danger; such can consist of being out on the street before dawn in order to travel a greater distance; sometimes there is a need to transfer via city bus, also students can become vulnerable prey for predators.

·         Crossing and encountering gangs and their territories - there is not a need to elaborate here, because most adults would not subject themselves to such.  We will note that such can lead to students becoming affiliated with and joining gangs simply as a means of protection.

·         Can increase the potential for student school drop-out rates due to some or all of the above. Perhaps, from the student’s perspective, it is better to be a “live, not formally educated student” versus a “dead, educated student.” From this point of view, such rather changes the perspective.

·         Many communities and/or social hubs have in the past been its churches and schools. When one or both ceases to exist such can and do often lead to a rootless community and for some young people lack of a solid established foundation(s) in which to identify/associate produces a loss of self-identity.

Briefly, and as it relates to the second issue of school closings being viewed as a missed opportunity; a new day has dawned in Education, but too often and far too many are still applying yesterday’s solutions to today’s challenges in Education. The tired, worn-out excuses of lack of; shortage of funds, funding and personnel are not the major problems in Education. In fact, many large city Education Systems are practically sittings on funds and funding; they simply have not tapped into these funding sources.  Consider using the lower enrollment as an opportunity to reduce class sizes and devote more time, personal attention and resources to students that lag behind in Education. From personal experience, students that have fallen behind generally do not benefit academically from being placed in a large classroom setting; they need individualized attention.

Most Parents want and strive for better conditions for them and their children in various, if not all aspects of their lives; instead of closing schools which in many cases eventually lead to the dissolution of communities and neighborhoods use this opportunity to transition some of these communities through revitalization and renovation.

I reiterate, “A New Day has Dawned in Education;” however, most are not prepared and many are not even aware that such has occurred. Applying the same solutions will not get our children or nation to the top or ready for challenges which we already and will continue to face on both national and global scales.

Mrs. Dorothy Barron, Founder

Parents Taking Charge in Education


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