Rich men getting richer by bilking the government during a war. Same as before. The end is in sight. Same as before. It's making us more secure. Same as before. Young Americans dying in a distant country without a proper plan or necessary support. Same as before. We can learn from history or we can listen to "W." It is time to learn.
We are on the verge of creating two new Westside high schools, each with 2,200 students. Imagine if we built 10 new high schools instead, each with a unique mission and the ability to meet the needs of all the students who attend. Imagine the choices available to Westside residents and their children.
If we choose, we can get ahead in the growing trend toward small high schools, each with a focused mission and heavy emphasis on a personalized approach to learning. We can organize our schools so that no teacher has a caseload of more than 60 students per day, compared to the standard 150, so that no principal leads a school with more than 400 students. We are clearly not afraid of innovation in our community. We aspire to lead the world in the new information-based economy. Why do we treat our schools any differently?
Why should we reconsider our conception of a high school education? We first must know what we want for our children. The answers are simple and go to the core of our hopes and aspirations. We want [our children] to be safe, loved and fulfilled. We want our high schools to understand that our children are fragile and vulnerable to the senseless violence and toxic culture around them. We also want our high schools to embrace our adolescents regardless of how they have been labeled (learning disabled, Free Lunch or Limited English Proficient). We want our children to be known, and we want the schools to be capable of nurturing them so that they will have a bright and even illustrious future. In fact, we want our high schools to provide our children the education we would provide the leaders of tomorrow if we were creating schools just for that purpose. Those are our dreams, and if you are a single parent, work two jobs or come from a community with no cultural capital you might just dare to pray that the school system will help you make that happen.
We will not make good on these hopes with our high schools as they are currently configured. They are big, mechanized, and unable to personalize their approach to a growing number of students. The evidence lies in the sudden emergence of charter schools. Twenty percent of high school students have left comprehensive high schools and now attend charter schools and there is no end to their growth in sight. These schools are choices of last resort for many students because they have failed to succeed in the traditional system. Here is an ominous prediction: Our children will be alienated from school in larger numbers than ever before as a result of the increasing expectations of the No Child Left Behind Act. Can our traditional comprehensive high schools that enroll 80 percent of the students reorganize themselves to prevent hemorrhaging? Or will the charter schools continue to act as a safety valve for traditional schools as more students get the not-so-subtle message that they are getting left behind? Can we avoid the scenario that requires adolescents to fail before they can succeed?
I am afraid that we will turn down the opportunity to build schools that can prepare students for the future. Bill Gates, a man who has invested $1 billion of his own money on this idea through his foundation, would say that it is a result of complacency and a lack of vision.
I ask those of you who live on the Westside to take this opportunity to create new and better schools and resist the temptation to demand big schools just because you want your turn. Those schools are not working for more and more kids and you have the chance to have something better for your community.
Despite the criticism you guys get a lot of times, I (and a few of my friends) just want to let you know how much we appreciate having your paper here in Albuquerque to balance out the "other" side, and that you do it with great spirit. I am also wondering whether you have a subscription service, so that I could send one to a friend in dire need, given he (and all the rest of the "real" news-starved people) lives in Kansas and generally scoops up at least 3-4 copies of your paper and every single past issue he can find every time he's here. I couldn't find anything about mail subscription in the paper itself. Otherwise, I guess I'll have to keep mailing them to him myself. Thanks!
Editor's note: Subscriptions are a losing proposition, but we've been pouring our resources into making our website better, including our Nerdstream blog.
[RE: "Mayor Marty's New Math," The Real Side, June 23-28] First of all I must say that I am terribly embarrassed to reply to your article. Secondly, since I haven't seen anything reported about Marty falsifying any documents from a legitimate news source, I have to assume that as usual you're just making things up. Stick to humor, because I don't think anyone considers the Alibi a credible news source except the poor individuals who believe in conspiracy theories and the X-Files.
Editor's note: In his column, Jim Scarantino cites KRQE News 13 as the source for the story of Mayor Chavez' alleged chicanery.
[RE: "Mayor Marty's New Math," The Real Side, June 23-28] Thanks for reporting this. I will be turning 18 just in time for the mayoral election, and I'll be showing this article to anyone supporting Chavez.
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