Thursday, February 28, 2008

Schenley Splits

First up, Jen L's email:
Sorry, the following is solely a personal rant! Feel free to skip it, I'll try to be less biased and more informational again in the future.

I guess it took this vote to really crystallize what I find wrong with dividing up Schenley, both the building and the kids. It's not only broken the kids apart, it will, by design it seems, pit the schools against the other.

I chose the magnet program because I believed in the idea that different kinds of kids could learn things from each other. I chose it because when I asked for changes or better choices, I wasn't asking just for my kid(s), but for the whole school, the whole concept. I wasn't in it just for my kids, but for all of their cohort, their peers.

Now, I'm in a position where fighting for the best interests of my child (in particular my 8th grader) pits me against those kids who would have been his class, his cohort at Schenley.

To demand the best teachers teach at Frick next year is to lessen the possibility of the kids at University Prep having those same teachers.

To spend the money to make this staying behind palatable is to spend money that could have been better spent on a unified school, guidance counselors, mentors, improved programs.

To demand a range of classes (CAS, PSP, mainstream, electives) at Frick is to ask for resources that will take away from the kids at University Prep and Reizenstein.

To have programs move with the Schenley kids to Reizenstein (Youth and Government, the musical, band, chorus, etc.) is to deny other kids those same opportunities or to require duplication (likely impossible with only a small school).

This division guarantees that the good and great teachers have to make choices about where to be -- and right now there's not much room for them at University Prep! I can't see how they can be fairly split in the future, either.

I don't know how to ask for what's right for my kid when it's going to hurt other people's kids, because that's not right.

Less rambling, more planning later. I'd like to try to get together a meeting of 8th grade Frick parents just to nail down some of our questions and also to have some idea of who's still on board, who's wavering and who is off to Allderdice, Central Catholic, CAPA... The first A+ meeting about the IB/IS program is next Thursday (downtown, at 5:30 pm).

Don't feel like there are any great options right now, but hey, things change all the time, right? (That PA cyber charter ad that came on the radio just as I turned on the car...fate or temptation?!)

Jen Lakin
Jen -- let's not just meet with the parents of others with kids in the 8th grade. We need to meet more -- and we need to have open meetings.

And, rant away any time.

Amy posted:
As you know by now, the board voted to move the current 9-11 students to Reizenstein and have the IS freshman class for next year housed at Frick. I have not heard anything from any committee members (except Jen who is as upset as I am), so I don't know if anything else can be done. I wish now that we had focused more effort on keeping the 9th grade IS with us. It will be nearly impossible to determine until September the effects of having the 9th grade at Frick. By then, it might be too late.

There are so many questions that need to be answered concerning this move. I would advise attending the meetings being organized by A+Schools. I tried to copy/paste the info but got Japanese (or Chinese?) so if you are interested, go to their address below, which did paste in English. The meeting for IB information is Thursday, March 6 from 5:30 to 8 pm. You need to make a reservation; dinner is provided and child care if necessary.

There is still a possibility that this is a temporary move but I personally think that will be determined by how active and involved the parents remain. I also think that we are in a position to demand/bargain for what we want at the new school. It is unfortunate that it seems that the squeaky wheel seems to be listened to (sorry about the misused metaphor, I am not feeling particularly creative). I think that Mr. Roosevelt wants this move to succeed so we need to ask for what we want now.

I am sure that I will be sending more info later as information is released to us. Tons of questions: staffing for the "new/old" schools? extra-curricular? language teachers? transportation? . . .

amy moore (phone # nuked)


Philip said...

Mark, what was the racial composition of that vote?

Mark Rauterkus said...

I know Mark Brentley, Sr., voted "NO."

I think the other hard-line black member of the board, Randall Taylor, voted no.

Tom Sumptner, the 3rd black person (all guys) on the board, voted YES -- I think.