How do you change a school?
January 23, 2008 2:41 PM Subscribe
Can you turn a bad school into a good school?
posted by acoutu to Education (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I live in the downtown of the most expensive city in Canada: Vancouver. My catchment area includes two schools. One is an annex, which goes from K to 3. The other is the main school, K to 7. The annex is well regarded. However, the main school is not. The students there have many, many problems. A recent school report shows that 0% of kindergarten students there have personal preparedness skills and that at least 1/4 students is 20 minutes late every morning. 11% of grade 1s can do grade level math. And so on.
The annex has good results. However, because people don't want their kids to transfer to the main school for 4th grade, people move or send their kids elsewhere. By 3rd grade, only 3 students are original to the school and the class size is quite small. (Not that small is a problem.)
The main school apparently has problems with 7th graders bullying kindergarten students. My friend, who is a teacher, says no one wants to teach at the main school, although the annex is a popular destination.
People have apparently hoped to change the main school, but, if you head there for 4th grade, it's hard to get on the PTA. The people who were there from the beginning don't want to give up their spots or vote for new people. And the entrenched people are apparently okay with the way things are. (This is what I'm told.)
Most of the parents I know are great parents. We all have preschoolers. And we're all unsure what to do about school. A few parents have suggested that we could all band together and work to change the schools. The problem is that we'd all want to send our kids to the annex. Then you're in a game of chicken, when it comes to waiting it out till 4th grade. People inevitably panic and pull their kids out before they need to move to the big school for grade 4. And so things never change.
Is there any way to change this? If our kids don't go to these schools, they'd have to go out of catchment, which involves commuting and kind of defeats the purpose of living downtown.
A few key points:
- starter houses in this city are $800k-$1.1M. Housing prices have spiked in recent years; more people are living downtown than ever before, including families.
- the school board decided not to build a new school in this area and instead transferred funding to build a school on the new Olympic grounds
- we've got about 2 years before our kids get to kindergarten
- the nearest French Immersion is over a bridge and so popular that a lottery system is used to award spaces. It is not necessarily a solution.
- we recognize that many "bad schools" actually do a great job in teaching, but the word on the street is that this is not one of them and that the social environment is dismal.