Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It Ain't Broke ... Don't Fix it ...

For me, one of the more interesting articles in today's MRT, was this one by Ruth Campbell, about parents of private school children asking that the rules be changed for admission to public "magnet" schools.

The family that spoke to the Midland ISD Board of Trustees claimed the existing policy is discrimanatory and presents substantial hardships on those who choose to forego public education in favor of a private institution.

Note to MISD Board

Re: Magnet School Admission Policy
It ain't broke and it don't need fixin.'

I am the parent of children who passed through MISD's Washington Math & Science Magnet School, and can understand the appeal such a school and its curriculum would have for parents. Don't get me wrong ... our home campus was good, and My Favorite Landman and I did everything we could to keep it that way, by fundraising, volunteering in the classroom, and supporting the school faculty and staff in every way we could. But Washington was even better, and I think it is one of the more brilliant and effective additions that the district has made in many years.

Sure, we could have sent the kids to some private school, repeating over and over again that tired old mantra about how terrible our public schools are. But, somehow, it just seemed to make more sense to take something you've already paid for, and do everything you can to make it work, rather than run off and pay for something else.
(Gentle Readers, don't get me wrong here ... there are those with different and valid reasons for 'going private.' I'm addressing a more specific group who threw in the towel before they even took a punch in the fight, based on what 'everybody knows' about public schools.)

And, PLEASE, don't tell me the most recent magnet school was a sudden, total surprise. This was part of the bond issue that Midland voters approved years ago ... and it's been in the works (first, at the organizational level and, now, at the construction level) ever since.

My suggestion to parents of private school children interested in a public magnet school ...

● I understand your interest, and I'm glad you're considering a move back into the school system.
● Keep your kids in private school for the remainder of this school year (having grown up in a military family, I know how disruptive a mid-school-year move can be), and enroll in your home campus this fall - just as we did.
● Next spring, place your childrens' names in the lottery - just as we did.
● And in the meantime, take the commitment and concern you feel for your children, and put it to work for your local public school campus - again, just as we did. Our public school system can't help but beneft from your energy and enthusiasm on behalf of education. That is a tide that will truly raise all boats ... not just your own.

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