Sept. 10, 2015
With seven of the nine members of the Board of Education present at one point or another, the board’s Policy Committee continued its slo-mo romp through the existing guiding principles for student assignment.
Board members used a worksheet that put the existing language into little boxes. The effect was to keep the conversation nailed securely to the scaffolding of a policy that a majority of board members appear to believe has failed. There was not much out-of-the-box thinking on display.
And at the end of the day, it was unclear whether a central debate during the meeting would really have any impact on children’s student achievement.
The debate was over how to resolve a conundrum built into the board’s last effort. At one point, the existing policy declares that home schools are the board’s top priority. At another point, it declares that magnet schools, to avoid being shut down, must rack up higher achievement scores than the home schools.
The snub to home schools can and probably will be removed merely by a wording change, with no substantive change in a policy that has created dozens of low-performing home schools that parents flee, teachers avoid or burn out in, and that Superior Court Judge Howard Manning has highlighted as places where the board has perpetrated “academic genocide” on the young people it is charged with educating.
This review of student assignment guiding principles that initially was to wrap up with a final vote in November appears headed for a delay past the current November election cycle. The superintendent search remains out of sight.
Due in October are staff recommendations following last spring’s outside magnet school review. Also due in October is a facilities classroom count and capital needs update, a proposal for a magnet school, presumably to be opened in a building closed during the Great Recession, and some tinkering with individual school boundaries to deal with overcrowding.
All of this may come together in a new set of boxes by February.
After the meeting, the Observer’s Ann Doss Helms wrote that Supt. Ann Clark on Oct. 13 would propose adding seats to magnets in high demand, and might return to neighborhood pickups for magnet schools, ending shuttle stops that prevent some families from attending magnets. Helms’ story is here, and cached here.
Below is the CMS video of the meeting.
– Steve Johnston