Even if You Don’t Like Busing Plan, Let’s Hope it Works Out For Students, Parents
By Tom Anselm
Hazelwood, F-F Receive 27. 5% of RG, Normandy Students
As of today, the school districts involved in the controversial school transfer effort are either already in session or are just starting. It has been a crazy ride for parents, kids and administrators after getting notice nearly five weeks ago of the state Supreme Court order allowing students to transfer out of failing districts.
There have been volatile meetings, multiple phone calls, articles galore in local papers and online, national attention to the issue, and finally placements for hundreds moving from Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts to Mehlville and Francis Howell, respectively. Even jumping into the mix is Kirkwood, since Mehlville put a cap on enrollments
Perhaps lesser known, our local entities of Ferguson-Florissant and Hazelwood are also enrolling new students from the beleaguered districts, with last week’s numbers at 425 and 289 transfers. This represents a sizeable 27.5% of the total 2600 transferring and just 113 short of the more–heralded Mehlville, Francis Howell and Kirkwood transfers combined. Hmmm. The intrigue continues.
I said last time we met that I was not in favor of the overall approach of taking kids and money out of troubled districts. That this would only cause them to spiral downward, eventually ending up like the St. Louis city public schools did as a result of the busing experiment of past decades. I would rather see all that money now ticketed for tuition and transportation staying within the home district to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes significantly, a proven method to boost performance.
I still feel that way, and also still sympathize with the parent who wants the best education for their kid. It looks like many have chosen transfer over staying. They must share my lack of confidence in the local administrators and lawmakers ability to fix these districts in the time their kid has for his or her education.
So now, as a community, we are wondering how this is all going to pan out. Here is how I hope it works:
I see the excitement of my grandkids as they get their school supplies, backpacks, new clothes. I remember the anticipation I had as a kid, having had enough of summer by the end of August, for the new school year to begin. Who would be in my class, what teacher would I have… anticipation, for sure, but still tinged with a bit of anxiety.
I can only imagine what the children who are moving away from their home base must be going through. And their parents.
I hope they are accepted, make new friends, take full advantage of the opportunity. From the looks of things, the receiving districts are making the best of the difficult position in which they have been put. Mehlville apparently followed the rules in restricting their enrollment levels. Of course, we will see what the courts say, if it goes that way. But for the most part, it seems that the kids coming are being welcomed with open arms. And that is how it should be. It is what we should want for any child.
I talked about time in my last column, the relatively short time a kid has to formally be in school. Is time on their side now? Will this latest plan be the answer to the failing schools epidemic? Or is this the first step in the eventual dissolution of Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts? Only time will tell.
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