"The Most Powerful Pages On The Planet"
JUNE 27, 2008
Volume 1 - No.5
Darwin Campbell, Executive Publisher
A Bi-Weekly Publication
School Leaders Play Dangerous Shell Game With Kids Lives, Futures
DALLAS- The strongest element of any Democracy is for its elected representatives to listen and respect the will of its constituency.
However, the decision on the future of Spruce High School proves once again that people can rise up with loud voices and despite the outcry, their sensible appeals and desires are still ignored and fall on the deaf ears of those who contend they know what is best for the children.
“The students at Spruce don’t want their school shut down,” said Southern Christian Leadership Assistant Regional Director Rev. Ronald Wright. “The village that it takes to raise a child is here today saying don’t close any of the schools. This needs to go back to the drawing board.”
Even a representative of the Spruce Student Council and several spirited words from community leaders and activists could not sway school leaders to change their minds or reverse the decision to move forward with the changes.
The Dallas Independent School District voted to move ahead with its makeover plan for Spruce students falls short of any goals the school, parents, students or the community has set for itself.
Even after hearing a tearful appeal by Spruce Student Council President Angelica Perez to consider a plan that would keep the school open, offer options to help upgrade academic programs to magnate levels, replace administrators and teachers and bring together two teams of counselors and teachers to help boost and encourage academic achievement at the school was overlooked.
“We are trying to save our school,” Perez said. “We want you to show us that you believe in us. When you say move Spruce, you are giving up on us and giving up on our community.”
The new plan involves replacing Spruce’s principal and staff and sending hundreds of 10th-and 11th-graders to Madison or Lincoln High Schools starting this coming school year.
Ninth-graders would attend the school and seniors could choose to stay for graduation.
According to DISD, the district is under pressure to deal with Spruce because of four years of poor academic performances, unacceptable ratings and test scores.
Perez blasted the board for not involving students or parents in the process to remake the district and give it time to do better.
Wright also chastised the board for failing to get information to parents and the community in time to allow more active involvement in turning around the school.
“If it was this bad, this information should have went out (to the community) like an amber alert,” Wright said. “This issue is about the children and accountability on the part of parents as well as this district and on the board members who oversee these schools.”
According to Bob Rodriguez, a DISD guidance counselor and who also represents Dallas NEA group monitoring the board’s actions, Spruce students are being treated like poor performing stock.
“This whole thing under No Child Left Behind is a mathematical shell game,” Rodriguez said. “The idea of shutting down these schools that are not performing is to take the students that are not performing and move them to other schools that can absorb low performing students so schools don’t lose their ratings.”
He added that the decision and move is not about making sure the students are learning. “It about taking those low performance numbers and hiding them under the performance at other schools,” he said. “You can think of it as taking low performing stocks and putting them with high performing stocks to cover the losses.”
Safety is also an issue as some noted the failures of DISD to successfully assimilate students of the former Wilmer-Hutchins ISD and victims of Hurricane Katrina into DISD schools without teacher and student issues and violence related to alleged gang activity and “turf battles”.
There are safety issues that have not been though out clearly,” Wright said. “Shift problems form one community dealing with social ills to another community deemed plighted is not the solution. Solving the problem is.”
Some expressed concerns that the decision will only make DISD dropout rates soar while others called for board members to start to value the village that also helps educate the children and consider the value of working on building and nurturing stronger and better relationships between students, parents and teachers in all of its districts.