Friday, April 23, 2010

Proposal for single-gender city academies finds foes

Proposal for single-gender city academies finds foes: "The idea undercuts the school district's goal of revitalizing both schools and drawing students back into the East End public schools, which continue to suffer from declining enrollment, said members of the group Open East End Panel.
'Our panel feels that the under-enrolled schools and underachieving kids in the East End need something really good to attract students and interest, and we don't think single-gender, year-round schooling and 'Big Picture' proposals alone will be that 'something,' ' said Annette Werner, a coordinator of the group.
I think that Allderdice is a copprehensive east end school. I think the city can better flourish if all the kids in the east end, as well as other places in the city, have a shot of going to whatever school that they should choose.

... the group was opposed to the recommendations of an advisory committee, which on Wednesday proposed that the school board restructure Westinghouse into two single-gender academies with about 1,100 students in grades six through 12, starting in fall 2011.
I'm not sure that the numbers add up with the story being advanced from PPS. To get to 1,100 students in grades 6 to 12, a number of K-8 and middle school students need to migrate into Westinghouse. The closing of those schools isn't yet talked about.

Less opposition to the idea would be forthcoming, IMHO, if the future of Westinghouse was just 9 to 12 and NOT 6 to 12. Not many like the new 6-12 model being deployed in many of the PPS settings.

Less opposition to the idea from PPS would be forthcoming, IMHO, if the PPS plan included large options for CTE (career and technical education) classes at Westinghouse.

I wonder if a CTE school could also be turned into two single gender academies. ?? That would be a blending of sorts among the ideas.

Furthermore, it would be great if PPS would offer proof that the single gender classrooms now being held at Westinghouse were working to better educate the students. Is there proof? Are they working? Is this being measured now? Why not?

.... Ms. Werner said. "I'm concerned that making these schools a part of the feeder pattern will make them compulsory for parents who may not want to send their children to a single-gender school."
Likewise, sorta.

I too am concerned that these single gender places (be they called classrooms or academies) be a part of the feeder pattern system. So, the solution that would work better is to NUKE the feeder pattern system at the high school level. Allow people to opt into and out of various schools based upon their choice -- not some forced decision of PPS based upon one's home address of record.

Perhaps there are kids in other parts of the city that feel that a single-gender school will better suit their academic career. Those kids who live out of the feeder patter should be able to attend the school. And, those that are in the feeder patter should be able to opt into other schools, be it a magnet or another comprehensive, traditional school (i.e., Carrick, Brashear, Allderdice, Langley).
As part of its PPS recommendation, Mr. Lopez said, the committee assessed the student distribution pattern for secondary schools in the East End and concluded that, due to declining enrollment, the area cannot sustain three public high schools.
With my suggestions, (NUKE feeder patterns), the city takes a step beyond the value added formula that pivot upon student distribution patterns.

In an ideal world, schools that stink will shrink. Schools that thrive will swell. People will be able to put their kids into their choice of schools. We'll let people vote with their feet and then we'll know what schools need to close. And, the more productive schools will become more competitive too, making them better and better.

The best way to be flexible to the desires of the parents of the East End, and beyond, is to nuke the feeder patters. Right on R. Swartz.

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