It’s been interesting to me that Maumelle is talking about starting its own school district, breaking away from the Pulaski County School District. At last count, we have an elementary school (two if you count Crystal Hill), a charter school(From K through 12th grade), a middle school and a high school.
Do we really need a separate school district? Are we just running from the real challenge? Do we really fix anything with our own school district? Does that keep the bad people out? Does it make the teachers better? Does it make the test scores go up?
I really don’t want to get into politics in this column, but I am concerned with how much money we throw at education and how it always seems to be in turmoil. Then we try something else and throw some more at it.
Are we really letting our teachers do their job? Oh sure, we’ve built them a lot of nice buildings, but we’ve let discipline slip to the point where the private schools are bursting at the seams. School administrations and teachers aren’t allowed to do what needs to be done.
I know when anything that is remotely negative is reported in this newspaper about the schools, the editor, Bill Lawson, gets beaten up on “All About Town,” the unofficial Facebook presence for “things Maumelle. “ It’s just the facts, folks. And he leaves out some of the really bad stuff.
So if I rile you readers up, so be it. At least I’ll know you’re reading. Maybe I’ll even get an e-mail or two.
I’ve talked to some educators and law enforcement officials about the discipline in our schools. Many will tell you it’s out of control. I ask, “Why can’t you send the disruptive students to an ‘alternative’ school?” “They are full,” is the answer I get.
When I was in high school, there was no tolerance for the behavior we have today. And I can’t for the life of me figure it out. One educator says we spend too much energy pleasing parents instead of teaching children. And teaching includes discipline.
Our jails and prisons are full. The streets of urban America are rife with crime. But we continue to have a higher tolerance for bad behavior.
This was the protocol when I was in high school: bad behavior got you sent to the principal’s office. You got about three licks with a paddle that made your lip quiver. You got a warning that the next one would get you suspended. Then you had to deal with your parents. If you played sports, your coach would hear about it and add a little something extra for you.
So is a swat on the tail the answer? Probably not, but it wouldn’t hurt. (Well, maybe a little.) Do we need to send more folks to an “alternative” school or send them home? Probably. How do we make kids want to learn? You don’t. That happens at home. And many of our troubled youths come from troubled homes.
So what can we do? We can reach out as communities to schools in trouble, kids in trouble and, yes, teachers in trouble. They need support, encouragement and the assurance that what they are doing is one of the highest callings in this life.
I usually stack it up this way: pastor, parent, coach, teacher, nurse and emergency personnel are the highest callings in this life.
One teacher told me that her kindergarten students don’t even seem motivated to learn. Of course, a lot of that comes from their home environment. Thank God our teachers give them seven to eight hours a day of learning time and nurturing.
I say no to Preston Lewis and the Maumelle City Council. We don’t need more schools. We can’t hide from the problem because it will follow us. What next? Do we build underground schools, so they won’t know where they are?
Let’s fix what we have. Let’s dedicate those hard-earned tax dollars to alternative schools, tutoring programs, outreach programs to single-parent homes, summer programs to get kids out of the house and continuing studies in problem areas.
And most of all, let’s take care of those precious teachers. They have our children’s attention for maybe 12 years if we’re lucky. And then they give them back to us.
See you on the Boulevard.
Neal Moore owns a creative consulting firm, Neal Moore Creative. He has lived in Maumelle over 10 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter, @kneelmore.