Students before politics

I’m weary of people being dismissed from participating in discussions and decisions about education if they don’t have subjectively determined bona fides. Education shouldn’t matter only to people with underage children. Interest in education should not be limited to the school closest your home. Education determines the quality of life now and in the future for the entire community. Education is the one thing that should matter to everyone.

If a school outside of my community wanted to add something special for their students, I would never try to prevent them from having it because my community doesn’t have it. I would certainly watch their program to see which parts of it could be successful in my community.

If we have to wait until all the existing problems in all of our schools are gone before we attempt to make progress or evolve educationally, we will never grow and all students will suffer. Hear me clearly on this: Teachers are being treated horribly and students spend too much time on test prep. Unfortunately, Knoxville’s educational environment is in danger of being divided into pro and anti specific people instead of unanimously pro students. Teachers and students are doing the best they can while higher ups natter, but we are rapidly approach the kind of dysfunctional impasse that makes for good late night comedian fodder and bad everything else.

Knoxville people love to insist that every community in our little city has different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. The same is true of our schools. Rubber stamped, identical schools don’t allow each school to evolve into what is best for their students. One High School in the Knoxville community has an IB program. Other High Schools in this community have things that are unique to their school. Extremely unique school programs occur in schools that allow out of zone students to transfer schools. The success of these various programs is positively impacted when students begin High School prepared for them. The next logical step for IB is expansion to the middle school. I’m not going to repeat the data contained in this PowerPoint explaining Middle School IB or this PowerPoint with statistical data about the Middle School with overwhelming teacher approval of an IB partnership.

What I will say is that BMS was the first school to allow my child with Autism to be mainstreamed. BMS is the school that inspired one of my children to love art and another to love music. When BMS was declared a “failing school” because of the test scores of students living in poverty and students with disabilities, BMS shifted everything to focus on intense intervention in areas where students scored lowest. Every student benefitted from those changes. With an IB program, BMS hopes that they can do even more to lift students who need support the most, but also add ladders for the students ready to climb even higher.

There are so many families from the wealthier parts of the BMS school zone who put their students in private school to avoid BMS that it would take more than 50 out of zone transfers to impact the staffing needs at BMS. The teachers want to implement IB and the students need every opportunity possible. Let them demonstrate that BMS is not ‘that school’ with ‘those students’ that need to be avoided. Give them a chance to show what they can do when they are supported and encouraged. Vote yes on the Middle School IB Partnership.

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