Equity Demands That We Defeat the Merger

Equity Demands That We Defeat the Merger

Addison Independent: Community Forum | Oct 6, 2022

If we are serious about equity—providing all children what they need to develop to their full academic potential—we need to defeat the proposed merger on Nov. 8. Here’s why.

At-risk kids need (and all kids benefit from) community schools in small districts that offer:

  1. caring and skilled educators;

  2. extracurricular activities that students can attend;

  3. parental involvement;

  4. community connections (mentoring, art, and nature programs, etc.);

  5. transportation times that do not leave students fatigued or anxious and that get them home on time to participate in their families’ activities.

Research on consolidation indicates that merging into large school districts with long transportation times erodes these benefits and results in poor educational outcomes for at-risk students.

Current MAUSD management practices, largely the result of Act 46 consolidation combined with Policy Governance (as interpreted by the MAUSD board), have led to less support for at-risk students in our MAUSD schools. The proposed MAUSD-AWSD merger would make things worse.

  1. Currently principals and teachers have much less authority to make staffing and supervision decisions, especially related to providing interventions/support for at-risk kids. There are fewer hands in the classroom; students receive less support and may disrupt the classroom because of embarrassment at their failures.

  2. Interventionists and special educators often work in multiple schools with schedules that make it impossible for them to coordinate with classroom teachers and serve children adequately.

  3. A merged (consolidated) board operating under Policy Governance has limited information about the needs of the schools it governs. It can neither appreciate the accomplishments of its schools nor can it deal proactively with situations that end up exploding to the detriment of entire classrooms.

Further consolidation through merger would only exacerbate the problems caused by these management practices.

There are many reasons to vote NO on the merger. Genuine commitment to equity is the most important. It would be better to solve financial issues with less radical strategies (suggested by the Levenson report) while focusing intently on management practices that foster equity.

Equity in schools supports all students, not just those from disadvantaged backgrounds. It also benefits the surrounding community, leading to stronger social cohesion and economic growth.

We have seen the disastrous social consequences of rural disintegration across the US, caused in part by the closing of small, community schools and the creation of large, impersonal districts with long transportation times. Do we really want this to happen in Addison County?

Marguerite Gregory, MEd


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