Thursday, April 11, 2013

APS talking school closings

In APS Supt Winston Brooks' monthly Journal column, link, Brooks revealed;

"... one of the most controversial changes that we’ll be talking about is closing some of our schools. We’ll approach this topic strategically, making sure families, staff and the community all have input before any decision is made."
APS is in a financial bind; Brooks claims all the easy fixes have been made; the "band-aid" repairs.  He claims to have clipped $195M from the budget in the last three years.  The cuts were forced and no one ever asked why there was so much low hanging fruit in the first place; nearly $200M worth of potential cuts just waiting to be taken, or whether the circumstances that enabled the bloat still exist, just waiting for a cash transfusion.

In any event, Brooks claims the easy cuts are all made and we're at the point of choosing which schools to close.  This will bring parents and community members out of the woodwork as the names of schools on the chopping block start circulating.  It is their hope that enough parents can be stirred up to involve the media and ultimately to compel the legislature to appropriate more money for APS to spend.

Still conspicuously absent from the discussion; whether the model the leadership of the APS has chosen for educating children (and adults); enormous capital investment in buildings and cemetery seating in classrooms, is the best model. Just because we've been seating kids in five rows of six, each on the same page in the same book on the same day for more than a century now, doesn't mean it is the still best model for public education, or that it ever was.

The whole point in educating children is to create independent lifelong learners; learners who don't need school systems in order to learn.  Independent lifelong learners unfortunately, don't generate a lot of public spending, which in turn obviates the need for a lot of superintendents and administrators.

Brooks and the rest who are charged with plotting the course into the twenty first century, are conflicted.

They can create and maintain systems that feed them, ensuring their continued employment, or they can do what's best for students.

They are not one and the same.

It is time for open and honest public discussion about the direction APS will take into the future; the same old, same old, or something new; something effective, efficient and far less expensive; something in the best interests of students and the best interests of the community that APS administrators and board members serve.

photo Mark Bralley

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