Madison West High Bids Adieu to Their Writing Lab

Reuben Henriques:

Today, my English teacher shared with our class the quite saddening news that the West High Writing Lab [Ask | clusty | google | Live | Yahoo], a venerable institution of many years, is slated to be cut next year as part of the annual round of budgeting. For those on this listserv who don’t know, the Writing Lab provides a place for students of all grades and abilities to conference one-on-one with an English teacher about their work. Everyone — from the freshman completely lost on how to write his first literary analysis to the AWW alum who wants to run her college application essay by someone — is welcome to stop by during three or four hours of the day as well as before school, during lunch, and after school. I know that in my four years at West, I’ve found this an immeasurably useful resource, not only to help me polish papers for my classes, but also as a way to get editing help on college essays and other extracurricular writing. And judging by the reaction in my English class, I’m far from alone.
Which is why I am so distressed by this development. I’ve always considered the English department, by and large, as one of West’s finest. The array of classes at every ability level is wonderful, and the fact that I’ve been able to take IWW and AWW — two classes designed solely to improve my writing itself — has been great. These classes do a fabulous job of teaching students to write — but an important part of writing well is being able to receive feedback on that writing, being able to dialogue with someone about it, and then being able to “have another swing at things.” But of course, it’s simply impossible for a teacher in any English class to meet, one-on-one, with every student. The Writing Lab has provided a great way for students to ensure that they will have this valuable opportunity.

It would be interesting to find out what’s happening with the high school budget allocations. The only information I’ve found on the 2008-2009 MMSD Budget is this timeline, which mentions that “Allocations & Formula $ to Buildings” occurred on March 5, 2008. The School Board is not scheduled to see the balanced budget until April 3, 2008.