Class, Not Classrooms?


In 1998, Monongalia County had 19 elementary schools. Since then, enrollment has climbed while the number of schools has been cut to 15 by  2005,  to 11 by 2010, to be 10 by 2012. And the changing situation is more extreme than even those figures show, because the two most recent elementary schools, built in 2006, were consolidations both built outside of any community or population center. One was built near an industrial park (that closed the school at least once due to fire and smoke) and the other was built on a strip mine become coal ash dump become treeless “park”. (The EPA this past year has considered classifying coal ash as hazardous waste.) Meanwhile, the 2012 consolidated elementary school (the “green” school) is slated to be built in another exceptionally unfit, strangely remote, community isolated, polluted and congested location. Additionally the new high school, which opened this past year, has a campus currently under investigation by the Department of Environmental Resources for multiple hazards, and is also remote from community. These are all large, isolated, and exceptionally poorly sited schools that make for an extreme dis-integrating of schools from community and from the general public. A terrible trend for many reasons, it should be stopped (in the case of the “green” school intended for the notorious intersection of WV 705 & US 119) and otherwise reversed.

Some similarities between Monongalia County and Washington DC? Excerpt below from:

What’s Missing in the Talk About Education Reform” by Sam Smith

Unanswered in all the noise about “education reform” is why, over the past decade, America’s establishment has become so obsessed with controlling public education, a complete reversal of two centuries of American faith in locally controlled schools.

There are answers that the op-eds will give you, such as the need to compete in the global marketplace, but this is pretty weak stuff and not the raw material for major presidential policy under two administrations.

There are answers that can be found in the general shift in government towards data as a worthy substitute, or delaying tactic, for action. As long as you’re assessing something you don’t actually have to do anything about it…

There is… [a] more disreputable matter lurking in the background that has not been exposed, debated or confronted – namely growing evidence that the assault on public education is part of an urban socio-economic cleansing that has long been underway as the upper classes attempt retrieve the cities they surrendered to the poor many decades ago.

For several decades, I followed this phenomenon as a journalist in my hometown of Washington, DC. It was a topic seldom mentioned in the corporate media and not polite to mention at all in the better parts of town….

There were other signs: the destruction of public housing units, the removal of a homeless shelter from the center city…

In other words, it was absolutely clear and absolutely unmentionable that the upper classes – both white and black, incidentally – wanted the city back again and were using a plethora of tactics to achieve this goal, especially after our energy consciousness increased and it became apparent that the suburbs were no longer the favored haven, but the ghettos of the future.

Furthermore, it was clear that satisfying this goal was behind most of the major new city programs, ranging from the subway to the baseball stadium – only please always call it economic development rather than getting rid of the poor.

Public education “reform” fit the plan in some ways. For example, although it was widely claimed that charter schools did not discriminate in their selection of students it was obvious that parents – a central factor in any child’s ability to learn – differed drastically between those with enough ambition to apply for a charter school seat and those either indifferent or with too much else on their mind. The charter schools were in this way a subtle part of socio-economic cleansing as they helped to reduce the old public facilities to what were once called “pauper schools.”

Then there was the carefully crafted schemes for closing “failing” public schools. But there is far more to schools than aggregate test scores. They help define a community, anchor its loose pieces to common ground, and provide a place for children to meet and play in a decent and clean environment…

After all, the poor don’t balance your budget. Cutting their services and shoving them out into new suburban ghettos can. And they certainly don’t attract tax-paying residents and businesses. So you talk the talk of education reform but walk the walk of socio-economic cleansing.


See also: “Suburbs Now Home to One-Third of America’s Poor… Growth Rate Of Suburban Poverty More Than Double That Of Cities…

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