Time to right size sinking LSD ship
|By Kyle Melinn|
The Lansing School District isn’t making the grade. It’s losing students and state money while its buildings crumble, its test scores sink and its students disrupt class (when they’re there).
That’s the opinion of the Community Advisory Task Force for Right Sizing, a group of community folks led by former Mayor David Hollister, MSU Professor Ruben Martinez and longtime state official Don Weatherspoon. Superintendent T.C. Wallace asked these folks back in October to look at what’s wrong with the school district and report back when they have something to say.
The preliminary findings released last month boiled down to one word in the local media coverage: “Crisis.”
And if the product of Hollister & Friends’ work is shelved away somewhere, that’s about the only word you could use to describe the district in another five years when it loses another 2,000 kids and Sexton High School shuts down.
When the final task force report comes in next month look for it to say: The school district hasn’t made adequate yearly progress by federal standards in five years. Test scores are below the state average in any subject at any grade level. There are too many buildings for the shrinking number of students.
But for the sake of the school district and its students, they must.
How else will the district right-size itself, improve its name to the point where Bernero, himself would send his own children there if they were of age?
As it stands now, do you blame Bernero for having sent his kids to East Lansing and Holt? Wouldn’t you if you don’t already?
Let’s say what we think. Lansing Public Schools aren’t safe. That’s the perception, anyway. Slide No. 35 of the task force’s preliminary report says that, at the very least, students are unruly: “… Student discipline is a major disruption for achieving positive results in student achievement.”
While teachers and principals chase naughty and truant kids around, the rest of the class is falling behind in its studies. By the 8th grade, students aren’t even close to their peers in neighboring districts in state standardized test scores.
Look for Hollister & Friends to suggest a restructured vocational/alternative education program and a “strict discipline academy.” The schools will be asked to reward positive behavior, acknowledge the gang problem and give attention to the children from troubled homes or from out of the country.
We don’t have to die like the school districts in Pontiac, Inkster or Detroit. The public schools in New York and Chicago and other metro cities figured out how to right-size their ships.
(Kyle Melinn is the editor at the MIRS newsletter. His column runs weekly. Write firstname.lastname@example.org.)