Monday, November 21, 2011

The Importance of Magnet School

In Wichita, they have a program for schools called Magnet Schools.  Some places have these as well, and call them Charter Schools.  The premise behind these schools is that they are designed to have a smaller student to teacher ratio to give students more hands on education.

Elizabeth had the privelege and joy of attending Samuel S. Spaght  Elementary School.  When she began attending it was a Gifted Magnet and their motto was "All children are gifted."   A year or so later it became a Mutlimedia Magnet which taught children how to use computers, cameras, and various forms of media to improve their education experience.  The kids thrived at this school.  Elizabeth thrived at this school.

Our neighborhood school was Irving Elementary and while the traffic might not have seemed bad to some people I found it horrifying.  We lived between two one way streets and more often than not, there were drag races and police chases all in the vicinity of that school and the residents who lived around it.  It also had a high sexual predator/offender ratio as well, and most of them lived within the unacceptable radius of Irving.  But probably the biggest concern I had about the school is that Sarah, our oldest daughter attend it and was bullied and excluded a lot.  She was one of a few white students in a school that was mostly Hispanic.  The students found reasons to make her feel like crap, they left her out during recess and often switched to speaking Spanish when she was around in an effort to exclude her.  This went on until she finally admitted it to me and told me about some of the things going on.  She talked to the teacher, she did all of the things I asked her to try first and it wasn't until I went to the school and threaten legal action that the problem was resolved.   Worse, the student to teacher ratio at Irving and most neighborhood schools in any area is over 30 students to 1 teacher and possibly a teacher's aide if they are lucky.

Our children need smaller classrooms, they need a lot of things and I know that our country is in an economic downward spiral, but that is our fault.  We are the ones who chose to live well outside what we earned, we made the choices that are affecting our country and world economy and not our children.  Why is their education suffering because of our mistakes?

Why is it education is always the first thing to go on the chopping block when the money gets tight?  That's a disgrace to us, to our country, to our government leaders.

Now a school in Wichita, Woodland Elementary School is on the chopping block.  The school has been a part of the community for ages and without it, students wouldn't learn about ways to stay healthy, have good physical fitness and learn new and exciting things while getting their formal education as well.   Please help fight this and keep this school from closing.  Our children need it and without it most of them will be forced back into a school their parents didn't want for them in the first place.  Please sign this petition to help keep this school open.

Thank you, even if you don't live in the area, let the school board know that education is still important to all of us.

Maureen Koeppel a former Wichita, KS resident

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