Published: May 29, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: May 26, 2012 01:08 PM
To listen to the few advocates supporting the CHCCS dual language advisory committees proposal, the plan for placing a dual language magnet school in our school district and dismantling Frank Porter Graham Elementary in the process is the panacea for what ails our districts dual language (DL) program.
However, no matter how wonderful the dual language model is, the current proposal has an enormous problem: There is not community support for establishing a magnet school in our district.
In a survey conducted by the district, current Spanish English DL participants at Carrboro and at Scroggs indicated overwhelmingly that they did NOT want their kids bused to a magnet school at the FPG site. Remarkably, in this survey, the only current DL participant group with a majority suggesting they wanted their kids enrolled in a DL magnet at FPG is the FPG DL families. I would offer that this suggests this group of parents is amazingly similar to virtually every other parent in the district; they really want their child to attend their local community school and receive DL services there.
There was not a survey of which sites would be acceptable to current or perspective DL participants (or the district as a whole for that matter), so we can only infer this from indirect data. However, the idea that FPG DL families who are advocating for a magnet at FPG are simply advocating for DL in their community school is not far fetched. This small group of parents has never once suggested that an alternative site would equally solve the problems that DL programs have been experiencing, which primarily appear to be divided DL resources and relative isolation of the programs.
How about placing the magnet school at a different elementary school? I dont wish the headache of facing a school closing on any group of parents, so I am not suggesting this is an acceptable plan. But why isnt any other school in the district on the chopping block and why doesnt this group of advocates support the notion that other schools might be even better suited to be the site of a DL magnet ?
How about we site the magnet at a new elementary (Nos. 11 or 12)? Voila! No students displaced, current community schools remain intact, a magnet school is created to fix all the problems of our current DL programs, everybody is happy! Oh, wait a second, now the FPG DL magnet proponents have to ship their kids to a different school, maybe that isnt such a hot idea.
A magnet school for DL sounds great in concept. The problem is everyone in this district wants to support a DL magnet for someone else, the proponents of siting it at FPG are no different than the rest of us they want stronger DL programs without moving their kids.
How about creating a solution that increases capacity and meets the desires of the vast majority of CHCCS families? Expand current DL programs in community schools and make them accessible as magnet programs.
This approach has advantages over the magnet proposal: 1) it reduces busing costs, 2) it introduces the possibility of increasing diversity in some of the more homogenous elementary schools if you place these programs strategically, AND 3) by all current data it would have the support of the majority of the community.
Alex Duncan is an FPG parent.