This issue is not a dichotomy. The academies are an innovative solution to a cumbersome problem. I'm not trying to "have it both ways", rather I'm calling it for what it is.
It is 8 buildings ("learning communities") with 300-500 kids in each. Yes, I think the lower cost is very important, but achieving the goal of student learning is the primary function of schools...We seem to agree. Also, as you correctly point out, research says smaller schools are better. Many say below 800 is best. Two mega-buildings don't get us below that threshold, as 10-12 has around 2000 students already. Add Simonsen's 800... You get my drift. I think it is worth considering any plan to get us small schools (under 800) without having to build 4 high schools. Two mega-buildings just separate the problem geographically and make it more expensive in the process. Academies solve the problem.
Those are some interesting points. I'd like to learn more from your sources... One reason there's such skepticism towards this may be because it is the school system itself that produces all the facts/figures/information. (Which BTW explain how 8 is better and cheaper than two.)
I trust the JCPS school leaders, however...mainly because I voted for most of them.
And when I look at JCPS leaders, things like "pipe dream", "romantic idea", and obsession with "creating some kind of legacy" do not come to mind. I think the JCPS board and faculty are competent, realistic, and want to help kids learn. This isn't St. Louis. I don't think corruption or personal gain is at play. I think these school leaders genuinely believe the single campus with academies is the best answer, based on their expert research and knowledge.
I think 8 smaller schools are better...hence my support for "team academy". :) But I don't see how construction companies benefit more from several smaller buildings on a single campus, as opposed to two big buildings housing 2000 kids each on opposite sides of town. ...I'm no construction expert, but I'd say 2 locations are pricier than one.
But more importantly, as a reluctant tax payer, I am happy about the administrative costs that having a single campus would save.
Leaders pushing their ideas on us...
I completely agree with you on the endless efforts to annex in the face of voters' wishes. And the Convention Center (along with the many add-ons) they keep pushing. With Adrians Island as well... The Muddy Missouri is not the San Antonio.
On the high school, however, there was a big effort to make it a community decision. Committees were open to the public, and were made up of 20+ regular folks and 20+ school officials... All of them wanting the best public education possible for JC, and most of them with deep deep roots in JC. I don't see conspiracy here. I see a thoughtful and well informed decision that happens to go against the conventional wisdom. It may be the wrong choice, but the people that spent the year + on the committees didn't think so.
The only error that I see is that (to my knowledge) no one knew or considered the possibility of selling the current JC campus at the time of discussion. That could have been a game change that maybe should mean re-evaluation. At the time, a central campus seemed to preclude building a second campus...Would the second campus be east or west or south...the result would be a lopsided JC. But by selling and starting from scratch, that issue is resolved... I think the the same conclusion would be reached, but the framing would be different...
The worry of the high school campus being a "mega-school" is overblown. Academically and socially, the 7-8 Academies successfully break the school up into smaller subgroups that enable kids to find their niche, and teachers to better manage their students. To me, 8 schools are better than 2, even if they all are on one (spacious) campus. Also, the academies that are proposed scream "21st century jobs", unlike the free-for-all cafeteria style education JCHS delivers today.
When it comes to athletics, I don't believe these claims of a football-cult wanting to keep the school together at all costs. JC Footballers know that success isn't a product of having just 1 school. Hickman still does well in football, even as Rockbridge continues to grow. Mainly, success comes from JC coaches that have always managed to get great things out of fairly normal kids. So, whether it's 1 HS or even if it were 3-4, true JC football will continue to overachieve.
A related argument against a single HS, but from a slightly different angle, is that too big of a high school limits participation in extracurriculars... This is totally false. Size brings options: Large schools are able to offer a much broader array of activities, and that gives more people a chance, not fewer. I don't remember Latin Club or Environmental Club ever holding tryouts. But I doubt smaller schools would even have such a variety. If, however, by extracurriculars people actually mean sports, then here's my take: school is not about excelling at sports (or even clubs), it's about learning. That's what we should focus on and it is the single campus approach -with academies- that will greatly boost learning.
Now, we get this confusing, convoluted opinion from the News Trib.
Has every federal responsibility been listed in the constitution? The answer to this question clearly is no.
The only valuable idea in this piece is the second issue mentioned: "are federal standards the best way to improve academic performance?" Then the author proceeds to ignore his/her own question.
So what's the point of this opinion peace? A. To complain that politicians don't admit mistakes? (really?) B. To all but claim that NCLB was unconstitutional? (seriously?) C. To add a few sparks to the tinderbox and get readers debating tired issues in the comments thread? (bingo)
A more well written piece would push us to think about solving the core issue, rather than arguing about the constitution.
And we mustn't have that.
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