Listening to Superintendent William Hite on Radio Times recently was a harsh wake up call. He said he only has the resources to open "functional types of schools":
"On September 9th, we will expect 134,000 young people to return to schools, and when they return to school, they will find very different schools. Now I don't want anyone to get me wrong. We will be ready for those young people to return. However, schools will not have the same number of individuals that were there. . . Some of the resources that we typically expect in schools will not be there."
News has started to leak out about what exactly this means. Consider:
- No clear safety plans for school opening
- Overcrowded and split grade classes
- NO full-time guidance counselors in 60% of all schools and 50% of all high schools
- One guidance counselor for schools over 600 students
- A roving counseling unit to handle special education emergencies
- One nurse per 1500 students
- ZERO full time librarians
- Minimal administrative support
- Insufficient or zero dollars for books and supplies
The stories confirm what we already know. It was wrong for Supt. Hite to back down on the $180 million he demanded of the city and state last spring. Last year's staffing was far from adequate. This year's is worse. $50 million isn't enough to open school. It's not nearly enough to educate children.
Read Helen Gym's summary of the meeting here:
Back to school: It's so much worse than you think
What's shocking is how few parents know what schools will look like next week. A meeting with Supt Hite this week lasted less than 30 minutes and parents were told to write down questions and they would get emailed answers.
Parents United for Public Education is working to get information out to all parents. We have FAQs and flyers ready for your next HSA meeting and Back to School event. We're helping parents get their concerns addressed by scheduling workshops with legal specialists and elected officials.
Teacher David Hensel talked about how the District's practices are driving away teachers - but he could have as easily been talking about parents. Either way, he summed it up best:
"This isn't reform. This is destruction."