July 3, 2013

It's official: DESE is Darth Vador and the Missouri Supreme Court is the Emperor (Star Wars reference)

Before and After

Where do I begin with how I feel about the whole Missouri School Transfer program...well let me start of by saying that this particular theme song runs in my what do you think my opinion is of this program? Now before I go into my rant on this let me make it clear that this is solely MY OPINION on the matter. 

Now to totally understand where I am coming from with this, I think you need to read two of my previous posts that I have written pertaining to the cult of DESE and how I feel about them.

Post one can be found here.

Post two can be found here.

Now after reading both posts you should have no doubt, if any that I am  NOT for the transfer program. Now let me give you some back info on myself. I reside in Normandy and I used to work for the Wellston School District before it was "taken over" by Normandy. If you read my previous posts you definitely know my position on how I feel about that incident. Now let me say that I had a private school education from Kindergarten through 12th grade. My parents didn't want to put my sister or myself through the Normandy school district because they had issues with it even back THEN.

When I worked in Wellston from 2007 to 2010, the very last year there (2010) I was surprised with the influx of students that came back into the district because the School district had not paid their bills for the student THEY had transferred out from their own student transfer program to the Ritneour School District. Now I kept thinking to myself with everything that is going on, if Wellston failed at paying their bills on this what makes the Missouri Supreme court that overturned the original ruling of  Turner vs. Clayton (which later was renamed to Breitenfield vs. Clayton) think that Normandy and Riverview Gardens will be able to sustain? They will bleed out dry and will never be able to get themselves back on solid ground.

"Tyrone McNichols, who becomes superintendent of Normandy schools on July 1, said the uncertainty surrounding the potential transfers has put an additional layer of stress on Normandy administrators. They could face having to pay millions of dollars in tuition bills. Because tuition varies from district to district — around $11,000 in Hancock Place and $21,000 in Clayton last year — they have no idea how many transfers the Normandy district could finance before its schools go broke. They also don’t know which of its schools may be left with partially filled or empty classrooms that could further drain the district’s budget." St. Louis Post Dispatch, June 18, 2013

To me this ruling was not a solution, it was more of putting a band aid on a dam that has a big ass crack in it. Now when that dam eventually breaks down (by that I mean the wear and tear the receiving school districts I THINK will go through) then what will they do? To me the solution is not herding off students to other school districts for those SUCCESSFUL districts to take care of. It's not fair to them and I can understand why they may be upset. Those parents out in those school districts who actually live out in those communities deserve the best for their students without any strain being put on their school district to do the job that the failing school districts failed to do.

While area superintendents say they do worry about overcrowding in their own classrooms, most have expressed more concern about the impact even a mild exodus would have on students who remain in Riverview Gardens or Normandy schools.
“Taking money away from them is not going to help them,” said Michael Fulton, superintendent of the Pattonville School District. “The focus should be on helping communities, particularly communities of high levels of poverty. You don’t do that by dismantling the public schools. You do that by helping those schools get better.” St. Louis Post Dispatch, June 18, 2013
In the smaller school district I work for we have been receiving phone calls from the Normandy school district and as instructed they have been forwarded to our central office. Yet there was one lady that I spoke to.  Now originally she spoke with the other assistant in the office and then she called back and I picked up. She asked me about school hours (8am to 2:55pm) and if we had an after school daycare program. I informed her that we did not have that option and she became a little bit upset. She asked why and I stated because since the students live WITHIN THE DISTRICT that they walk home. The only students that we bus home our the VICC (Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation) students and even then they are gone by 4pm and that is only assuming that they stayed for homework club.  She wasn't talking about picking up her child until 5pm. AFTER 5pm!!!! WTF if you can't pick up your child until then, you need to find a closer district to home. 

If Normandy students want to ride the bus to a better-performing district under a recent Supreme Court ruling, they’ll have to enroll in Francis Howell — a district with schools more than 20 miles away. St. Louis Post Dispatch July 2, 2013

Now you can imagine this issue sparks up quite an interesting debate amongst my friends, coworkers and even family members. Yet I stand firm in my opinion. I don't believe one school district's fuck up should be another district's clean up. At the root of this I still put blame squarely on DESE. In my opinion they did not proactively go after the problem fixing these failing school districts, I feel they just stayed on the sidelines and watch this situation explode. To me this is not a win/win situation. It only results in a total loss. For the students of failing districts you now have to be ferried out if your parents choose to, into another school district. You might not be welcomed with open arms and might unfortunately become the symbol or target for those in-district students that might hold a grudge. Also if I think the students might have an issue, I don't even want to think about what might happen with the parents. 

All I ask is please DO NOT air any commercials about how people are "coming together" and how this is such a GREAT idea. I'm sorry but I'm not going to be snorting the fairy dust on this one. This is only the tip of the iceberg with plenty of legal battles to come.

In the end unfortunately we still have to deal with DESE or more to the point the people who are running DESE. Yet who knows, maybe things MIGHT get better, but I'm not holding my breath on it.


Until the next episode....

 All That MsJazz
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