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OPINION: Equal Schools Are the Objective

All those interested in school equality must stive for equality for all of the schools.

 

Dedham’s schools are undergoing a change and many people in town are not quite sure what that change will mean.

Right now, the School Committee's policy subcommittee is once again among the school buildings.

Subcommittee members would seem to have a relatively simple task of redrawing the district boundaries. What could make it so difficult?

Politics could.

While waiting for the redistricting to take place, Dedham has had an electoral shock. Throughout the election season there was no campaign in the School Committee race. But there was a grassroots drive that amazingly put a new write-in candidate into one of the winning spots. .

Much was unusual here: because there was seemingly no contest, there was no debate about the issues and the electorate knew nothing on Barsamian’s platform; when asked for an outline of her stances, she said the press should talk to her aide.

Really?

Most candidates have at least some inkling of what they hope to accomplish.

What was clear was that a well organized group succeeded in getting its message delivered at the polls. They wanted more say. Voters are waiting to find out exactly who is saying precisely what about school policy.

Also clear was that the new electorate disliked specific votes made by the School Committee. It was for non-school activities, but without enough input from parents. that for more details; selectmen had power over the police - half of the agreement with schools.

Clearly parents wanted some sway in these negotiations.

They deserve it.

Another problem they had was with the redistricting of schools.

Here, too, many parents felt their desires were not counted when the policy subcommittee released its first map, naming some streets that would change from one local school to another. Towns must redistrict to avoid too many or too few students in any school.

seemed like just the sort of school that parents would want to send their children to; the construction of a beautiful building and plenty of room just finished.

Yet some parents absolutely objected to having their kids go to the Avery School, with new equipment and facilities - all this did not change their minds.

So why did some parents balk?

Some said switching to Avery would disrupt their children’s schooling.

Perhaps.

But other problems also seem to be present, even if they are not mentioned directly.

Avery is in a relatively poor section of Dedham and some parents do not want to have their children enrolled there. There may be a greater diversity of ethnic background at Avery, too. Nobody is saying that this is a problem because everybody knows that would be discrimination against Avery. Still, if there is any whiff of bias against the people or the housing or the less wealthy habitants around Avery, the town must fight it.

Now, everybody is sitting down and talking about how to divide up all of Dedham’s enrollees among all the schools fairly.

All Dedham’s schools should be equal.

That is the law.

All parents, all teachers, all School Committee members must realize this. More important, the students must realize it.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

audree May 14, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I find your statement: "Avery is in a relatively poor section of Dedham" an affront to those of us who live in the Avery School district. I do not consider myself poor and have lived off of Mt. Vernon St. for over 30 years. Both of my children attended the "old" Avery, graduated from middle and high school, and college. Once you are out of elementary school and come together at the middle school, there are no longer any distinctions. Although the area around the Avery is not the most affluent part of Dedham, it's those types of remarks that stigmatize the entire town. I think an apology is in order.
Avon Barksdale May 15, 2012 at 11:49 AM
"Avery is in a relatively poor section of Dedham" "the area around the Avery is not the most affluent part of Dedham" Those two statements are functionally equivalent. The author said the first, you said the second. You're mad about the first one, but seem fine with the second one. I would suggest that if you're going to get angry enough about something to demand an apology, you select a real issue.
Mrs L May 15, 2012 at 12:27 PM
The new Avery building is state of the art with many advantages there than at any of the other Dedham public elementary schools. The kids and teachers are diverse. Parents seem involved. So many good things going for Avery. My concern is the test scores. Look at the MCAS. Avery: http://www.greatschools.org/modperl/achievement/ma/529#from..HeaderLink http://www.schooldigger.com/go/MA/schools/0405000552/school.aspx Oakdale http://www.greatschools.org/modperl/achievement/ma/533#from..HeaderLink http://www.schooldigger.com/go/MA/schools/0405000552/school.aspx Schooldigger.com: Year after year, Oakdale does better than half of the state. Avery does worse than half of the state. Yes, Avery has started to improve but is it because of the extra funding we are getting because of the low scores? What happens when that funding runs out? I'd like to think we are on the right path to turn the school around, but I just don't know. Greatschools.org: The third and fourth grade classes have the same scores in both schools, but hit 5th grade and the scores couldn't be more different. What happens here? What is Avery doing about that? I would love to see a break down of the scores when the kids hit middle and high school of who went to each elementary school. How well did these primary schools prepare these kids in the long run? I keep hearing that both schools are taught the same way with the same material, but these numbers don't add up.
Edna May 15, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Massachusetts parents care more about test scores and proven achievement than fancy new buildings.
Sidney May 15, 2012 at 08:00 PM
I'm with Edna on this one...state of the art building or better test scores? I think that one is a no brainer... I've had experience with Avery and two other Dedham elementary schools. The new building is impressive, is long overdue - but given the choice, I'd pick either school (both are in need of improvements) over Avery.
Telling it like it is May 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Avon you got to stop smokin the profit. "Relatively poor" and "not the most affluent" are equal only in the mind of a person that wants to eliminate the middle ground, that being the middle class. Much like your Messiah Obama, whose class warfare has dominated his presidency, your statement lacked the teleprompter you needed. As I said before. Time to start up the Winnebago, and head back to school.
Avon Barksdale May 16, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Apparently, someone doesn't know the difference between "functionally equivalent" and "equal." Must have attended the Boston publics.
Avon Barksdale May 16, 2012 at 10:39 AM
And after all these years, how is it that people don't understand that economic demographics are directly correlated to test scores? If you took all the kids from Oakdale and Avery and assigned them to both schools randomly, then the next year their test scores would be the same for both schools. Seriously, we've had MCAS for what, a dozen years, and people don't realize the basic drivers behind test results? Yikes.
Mary Von Schoppe May 17, 2012 at 04:22 AM
I am so sad that there are so many ignorant people in this town. Both my boys attended the Avery and never once did I question their learning experience. I hate to keep repeating what others have said before...the Avery have had top performers in the New England Math League numerous times, won numerous spelling bees, had numerous High School Class Valedictorians, and countless college graduates. Because the Avery is situated in a diverse part of town with so many diverse children...examples, language barriers, learning barriers and many more barriers it make teaching all these children very challeging. The teachers at the Avery rise to that challenge and leave NO CHILD BEHIND. Some children learn differently, do not test well, are not capable of performing as well as others...these children must take the MCAS...because of the location of the Avery a child may enroll one day and have to take the MCAS the next week. The MCAS SCORES do not reflect the learning that goes on in that building.

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