The return to neighborhood schools

When I first ran for Mayor, at the same time Mike Turner ran for Mayor- I talked about the return to neighborhood schools. Turner mocked me- saying it was an issue for the School Board. I talked about the effect it had on our community- exchanging racial segregation for economic segregation. I was told it couldn’t be undone- we were under “court order.”

Years later, Turner, as Mayor- talked about how he’d solved the problem. Even took credit for it. Sorry, the damage is already long done, and the suburbs grew- and then the x-urbs, until we have the sprawled out mess we have. We now have the same number of people, in a much greater area, with a lot higher overhead, and a lot less good paying jobs.

But, now we are going back to neighborhood schools.

The reason people believe the change is happening? Because we can’t afford the gas bill to bus them. There is some truth to it too- but, the other reason is that students do better when connected and integrated into a neighborhood. Good neighborhoods, good communities, good compact units- do better than sprawled out ones.

And guess what? The same holds true for all those jobs we commute to. We just haven’t realized it yet. Being able to walk to work is as important as being able to walk to school. Same goes for walking to the store, the restaurant, the bar, the barber, the park. But, we won’t figure all that out until gas hits $4 or $5 or $9 a gallon.

On July 1, 2010, her first day as Superintendent, Lori Ward, made a presentation to the Southeast Priority Board about the change to neighborhood schools and the new attendance zones. I thought it was important enough to go out and tape it- and make it available to the community via YouTube. I could have been out campaigning, grabbing hands, kissing babies or asking rich people for money for my campaign- but, instead, I chose to deliver a little more democracy and open discussion to the community.

Here it is- about an hour.

I applaud Ms. Ward for going out and talking with the community about this major change. I also agree with her that making Dayton Public Schools a school system of choice- is critical. We have some amazing success stories going on in DPS- other than just Stivers School of the Arts. You need to know what’s going on at Thurgood Marshall- Dayton’s own STEM high school under Principal David Lawrence, and what’s happening over at Ruskin- a true community school, in partnership with East End Community Services under Principal Devon Berry. These happen to be two of my friends- but, I can tell you that the system can educate kids- and is doing it, but the message has been getting lost.

Ms. Ward has a message worth hearing. I’m glad I can help.

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