Do recommendations meet stated goal?

When the task forces began, each had three stated goals to address, including the following:

Income dispartiy among schools

Just eyeballing the final reports of the task forces gives me the impression that the recommended changes will not significantly change the low-income percentages of kids in any of the schools.

4 thoughts on “Do recommendations meet stated goal?”

  1. I can’t speak to the West/Memorial Task Force and this subject, but the East Task Force (which I observed intently) attempted to achieve this goal throughout their deliberations. However, housing patterns on the north and east sides really work against said goal, unless you really undertake a massive bussing plan. Neighborhood schools took priority. Moving kids just for the sake of artificial numbers is educational gerrymandering, and only valid if they aren’t being well educated in their neighborhood school. Case in point: Mendota Elementary.

  2. Ed,
    Your question is valid as this was one of the charges. Review the post “This is not your grandparents school district” and you will see the issue is not so simply solved by “boundary changes”. The district started moving the task force in the direction of pairing but after such negatively strong reaction it was eliminated in all the options.
    In the West/Memorial Task Force, and I will make these statements as truthfully as I see them but it may seem harsh, the problem lies in the consequence of choices. Choice one is you move low income families to higher income school. For example move the low income at Leopold to Van Hise. It helps the income disparity but the low income families live across the street from Leopold. This played out over and over. (Falk, Orchard Ridge) People also do not like the idea of shifting low income families to satisfy some numbers. The second choice is to move high income families into low income schools. The high income of Leopold lives in south Fitchburg and it was proposed several times to move them to Lincoln/Midvale. These families will revolt, (as they did in a letter posted on this site)and they will send their kids to private schools and we lose them. It seems simple to redraw lines but if the low income lives near the schools it is hard to move them. As I stated in my “Observation of task force” the problem in some schools is we have higher income families that live in a lower income district and we should provide a strong curriculm base that would bring them back to the Public school. We instead are losing them to private schools and it ups the disparity numbers at an alarming rate. Changing boundary lines is not the solution and the problem is much bigger than the task forces could or quite frankly should solve. Ideas yes, but this issue is bigger than lines on a map.

  3. Mary states the problem we faced on the West/Memorial Task force very well. Housing patterns on the near West/South side have a lot of low income families in a small area. These include strong neighborhoods with folks that are very involved in their neighborhood schools. Leopold school is overcrowded now and more new developments are in its boundaries. Many of the low income families are within a few blocks of the school. These families do walk to participate in many school events and activities. There is a post from Troy Dassler on another thread on this site about a bilingual math meeting that was well attended last night. We spent hours wrestling with these issues on the task force and no concensus solution could be crafted without new space. The addition would allow the community to be maintained. The low income percentage would remain fairly stable. Walkers would continue to walk and families from newer, more affluent developments would stay invested in the MMSD. There are other solutions that work on paper to balance the numbers, but as Mary’s post details, in practice they won’t work.
    I know some folks are concerned about the size of Leopold. In theory, it would be an option to have a school in south Fitchburg that could be paired with Leopold. But MMSD doesn’t own land in south Fitchburg and the expense is a huge issue. The proposal to put a paired school on the Leopold campus last year was at least partially driven by a desire to keeps costs as low as possible. Looking at all the numbers, I think an addition at Leopold will work. It will keep the whole community together and the design the task force was shown has a new cafeteria which would be really helpful. At the moment, kids start lunch at 10:40 in the morning.
    I am hopeful that people will support the addition at Leopold. Can the numbers be balanced any other way? On paper, yes, but the problems won’t be solved just by moving dots on the map.
    Fern Murdoch
    alternate to West/Memorial Task Force from J.C. Wright Middle School

  4. You mention Falk. For just one example of why people screamed about moving low income kids from the schools closest to them, you can look at Falk. Several parents at Falk who do not head low income families have repeatedly stated that they don’t mind a substantial low income population at Falk, as long as we have the services needed to support them in any way necessary! We have one group of low-income kids (almost 30 of them) who literally live one block from Falk down its back stairs. In spite of that proximity, one plan included moving those kids to Orchard Ridge – much farther away and across WHitney Way. The plan was NOT to increase bussing costs though, so those kids would be expected to walk. Many of those families have trouble with supervision due to adults working extensive hours, and the kids already have trouble getting to school on time (sometimes at all). How on earth are they going to make it to a school farther away, much less do so on time? These are also the families who are most affected by mobility, and many of the children/families are less resilient in terms of being able to deal with changing schools often. It takes time to build up relationships with schools and teachers – it takes even longer if you have a negative school experience in your background, or you are uncertain if you “know enough” to be welcome, because you possibly didn’t go to college. The kids who can most “afford” a move in mental-emotional terms, are the ones whose parents are most involved, most convinced of their own efficacy, and most likley to make a lot of hnoise if they think you are doing anything to put their children at risk. Don’t move the kids with the greatest struggles already. And don’t claim to want to deal with economic disparities but then refuse to address how expensive adding more busses would be, no matter where and how many.

Comments are closed.