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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Troubling Times at Marshall

Both the PI and the Times had articles on the sad recent history of Marshall and the removal of its principal and overhaul of its programs based on an independent report commissioned by the District.

From the Times' report:

"The report by the National Dropout Prevention Center, based in Clemson, S.C., blamed the district as well as the school's leadership for the problems there."

I would second that. Marshall would never have gotten to this point if someone in the District was doing due diligence on its programs. I walked through Marshall during the CAC process and it was an odd and uneasy place. They have some very caring teachers but the lack of administrative guidance by either Mr. Drake or the District showed.

But, these are programs that have to go on. Evening School is easily transferred to another middle or high school. Those students generally don't have the issues that students in the other programs do. The daycare set-up for teen parents was great but the caregivers (3 of them) told me they had rarely taken care of more than 2 babies/toddlers at any given time. South Lake also has this program but at the time BEX III was passed, funds were not allocated to build on-site daycare at South Lake's modest ($14M) new building (right next to South Shore K-8). I believe that the District has since promised it will happen and it should if they are going to close the one at Marshall.

Yet, these middle and high school drop-out programs have some very tough and troubled kids. But much of their lives are not of their doing. We need to save these kids and turn their lives around before they give up and move on to worse things. But no, I don't believe that they should be co-housed with any other program. Some of these students have done better and gone back to a regular middle or high school. They do not have to be in the program for the rest of their school careers.

So how did we get to this point? Well, honestly, I think it's neglect. Either too many other issues for the District to deal with, too many other parents clamoring for their own issues (many of these kids don't have stable adults in their lives to guide them so who does speak for them and their issues?) and maybe, just letting these programs fall off the radar. I applaud Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson for stepping into the fray despite her very short tenure. I think she was able to look at this situation, read the report, listen to those who know the school and make a positive decision.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Honestly, that Dr. J-G and Carla Santorno made this decision is the best thing that could have happened for the students at the school, the building staff, and those at the Standford center who have been trying to shine a light on this problem for years, only to be defeated by people who were friends of Joe Drake.

I hope that the courage goes forward to making real changes at all of the schools, not just closing Marshall.

If this type of reaction to honest evaluation is what we can expect in the new tenure of SPS, I am very excited.

Charlie Mas said...

I read the report - the P.I. provided a link to it - and the District collects a lot of blame for failing to support alternative education and failing to adequately supervise the schools.

I think it ironic that Ms Santorno disputes that finding yet is quick to accept other findings.