13

article image

Saratoga Avenue through the windshield tonight, rendered funky and beat but no darker than actual by the sliders of iPhoto. It's January, but 6:00 P.M. is still too early to be that dark.

Time may be finding my old neighborhood. Rogers Middle School, fresh from a year long remodel job a few years back, appears not to be Samuel Curtis Rogers Middle School anymore. Instead, the Moreland school district has converted it to a K-8 school under the ever-so-homey acronymn EDS, which to my ear isn't softened at all by the fact that the E stands for Easterbrook, the name of my old elementary school across the playing fields from Rogers. You'll know even less after you read this story.

Rogers then goes by the wayside, to make room for EDS, something emerging in response and as a result of the popularity of a charter school with the equally fit-for-the-red-biohazard-box acronymn of DCS, housed in trailers over next to Anderson Elementary. Something in me says be gentle, these are your neighbors, and they most certainly mean well. Still, the tone of the article, if nothing else, gives the whole endeavor the antiseptic stink of anthropology, of study, of child and community objectification, including as it does chestnuts like the following:

"It's great to see a grassroots, community-driven school come into such full existence after almost two years of planning"

It is of course possible to expect too much from quotes like this, but the fact of the matter is, nothing that can be called "grassroots" and "community-driven" ever "comes into full existence" after only two years of anything, let alone two years of "planning". It does take a village to raise a child, and what's more it takes many decades, even generations, to raise a village capable of raising a child. But hey, they're new in town:

"Until you've actually been in a community like this, you don't know what it can do,"

At the risk of running at a strawman like it's a blocking sled, who in the Santa Clara valley, if not the Bay Area, hasn't been in a community something like this? West San Jose is many things, and I'd say further that it's much more than meets the eye, but one thing it isn't is particularly unique. It's been doing "what it can do" for generations. That doesn't mean it can't be done better, and they certainly seem to be giving it the old college try, but the objectifying, patronizing, Jane-Goodall-style attitude here really makes you hope the article is getting these folks all wrong. Either way, they save the worst for last:

[The "executive director" of the school] has been busy with the details of starting the school, which includes everything from hiring staff to developing the curriculum.

"We have to keep reminding ourselves we don't have to accomplish it all overnight," he said.

Really? You don't? Tomorrow a bunch of kids are showing up for school, like they have been since September, presumably. This fall, even if they're not actually somewhere else, they're going to be someone else, a school-year older, and it will be to no avail that the acronymn school they attended last year was new and somehow "beta". Either these novel methods make a profound and critically needed impact in the development of our students, our children (as the more strident among us forever seem to label them), or they don't. How is it that time isn't of the essence? Or does parental involvement mean parents only having themselves to blame? I'd be tempted to lower the bar too, I guess, but let's not. Even if being perfect right from jump is impossible, as it surely is, surely that particular flavor of the impossible has to be the goal here anyway. Exactly why, sir, don't you indeed have to accomplish it all overnight?

I don't know if it should make me feel better or worse, but I found this this article too, and the way that students and faculty moved to a new location during the renovation of then Rogers Middle School reminded me more of the neighborhood I grew up in. I hope that the presumably now former principal and the others that were involved (A Dads Club!) are working together with the reformers. It sounds like a little practicality is in order for the new order. Not to mention, it doesn't seem coincidental to me that the comeraderie that facilitated the move to the "outback", (as well as just the myriad tiny shifts in perspective brought on by any physical move) during the renovation of what-was-Rogers resulted in higher test scores during the year of the camp-out at Strawberry Park. I also note as more than coincidence that there are much fewer acronymns in either of these stories than the others.

But that's just me.

http://www.active.com/donate/tntsvmb/nomorechemo