Letter: School district isn’t racist — but it is failing

Posted 11/11/21

Bristol Warren’s schools aren’t racist … Worse, they are not succeeding at teaching math and science to the majority of children of any color or religion.

The real problem with …

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Letter: School district isn’t racist — but it is failing

Posted

Bristol Warren’s schools aren’t racist … Worse, they are not succeeding at teaching math and science to the majority of children of any color or religion.

The real problem with our school system is not racism or inequality, it’s the lack of academic rigor and achievement. Fewer than 36 percent of Mt. Hope High School students reach minimum proficiency in math, and fewer than 52 percent meet expectations in science. English proficiency gets to 75 percent, so 25 percent of our students don’t even meet minimum achievement in English.

At Kickemuit Middle School, only 33 percent meet minimum math standards — 77 percent are not proficient.

Why can’t the School Committee solve this problem? Given that almost 60 percent of our tax dollars are used to pay for our schools, this is a deplorable waste of money.

Diversity/Equity mean nothing if a student is not well educated enough to compete. The problem begins in grade school and gets worse each year, culminating in poor performance at the high school level.

Imagine if your trash got picked up 40 percent of the time, or if your toilet only flushed 40 percent of the time, or if the fire department only responded to 40 percent of the fires reported — people would be turning out by the thousands to protest to the Town Council.

Instead, the general population of Bristol seems to ignore the lack of school achievement. With the exception of Rockwell School, scores are poor. And, even at Rockwell, the math scores show that only 52 percent of students meet or exceed expectations. At Colt Andrew, it’s 36 percent, and at Guiteras, it’s 42 percent.

One clue for the lack of progress is the school district’s Strategic Plan. There is not a single item in that plan that is measurable — no metrics at all. Read it. It speaks in sweeping platitudes, but nothing about improving achievement.

There is nothing in the Plan saying it’s the goal of the district to increase scores by X percent over the next year — not one item pointing out poor scores and setting a goal for improvement.

Imagine driving your car without a speedometer and a gas gauge. That is what the school system is doing by failing to have performance metrics and reporting to all of us their progress in meeting those metrics.

I suggest that the town council assert better control over the school system, appoint a SWAT team to recommend dramatic changes like teacher effectiveness grading, merit pay for high performing teachers, firing non-performing teachers and analyzing the money spent on administrative and non-teaching personnel vs. teachers.

The school committee doesn’t seem capable of solving this problem, and it’s too serious to ignore the future of our children, who aren’t being taught the skills they need to be successful. Continuing to spend $18,547 per student on the public school system while getting mediocre results is a crisis.

By the way, Barrington spends $15,261 per student. Perhaps we should spend that $18,547 by giving each Bristol Warren student a voucher to use at a parochial or private school that the parents choose.

Georgina Macdonald
Bristol

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