Budget cuts. Charter Schools. School Choice. Privatization. Declining enrollment. Assessment results. Transportation. Parents. Teachers. Perception. No jobs. Last in first out. Health care costs. Lack of retirements. Sound familiar? Inner city schools across the country are quickly figuring out that competition is heating up. Let’s face it, public schools are being asked to do more with less. Public perception and support is dwindling. Everyone has a solution. What is the problem?
The school I work at is wrestling with everything listed above. It has been a slow process but one that has manifested itself throughout the inner city school districts for the last 20-30 years. Our schools are becoming more segregated then prior to Brown vs. BOE. The schools of today are segregated based on race, socio-economics and the fact is that each “alternative” approach to fixing public education ends up exacerbating the problem. What is the problem?
Before we can start to offer solutions, we must define the problem. We must be honest with ourselves and our community, parents, teachers, students, and central administration. We must stay “process-centered” and not make this about specific people. Sure, it helps to put a face to the problem, but this is not a time to point fingers. What is the problem?
I feel compelled to blog about our harsh reality because I believe it will be the type of story that will one day make a great book, documentary, or even … a movie! Our teachers, students and parents will be working on this “harsh reality” for the next few years. We are not taking it sitting down. In fact, what you will see over the course of the next few months is a concerted effort to define the problem, and work in a systemic, process-centered manner to define and ultimately address the problem. Fortunate, we know we are not alone. There are countless other schools facing these same issues. There are schools, amazing examples, that have already blazed the trail. The first step… define the problem.