Thursday, November 12, 2009

More about Plano Schools

Here is an update about the Plano ISD School situation. I'm sorry it is so late in coming.

The School Board had a very difficult task. In the end, they did not opt for any of the six plans for school feeders in the east side. The created a new plan that was very similar to one of the economically balanced plans.

I believe this is a major victory for the Latino Community in Plano and for the parents in the east side (where most of the poverty is located). PISD even had its first public input session in Spanish at a school with a large Latino community! The fact that they asked for and listened to the opinions of our Latino brothers and sisters is a major victory!

So, what is next? Well, next on my radar is the organizing and launching of what I am calling the "homework clinic." One of the problems in elementary (K-5) and middle school (6-8) in some of the poorer communities is that the teachers don't hand out as much homework as gets handed out in more affluent schools. This is a problem because the kids don't get the much needed reinforcement that homework provides. I am proposing that we have a nightly homework clinic at the schools where people from the larger community will come to the school cafeteria every evening from 4:30 to say 6:30 or so and be there as a resource to help the kids with homework. I am trying to organize the leaders at different churches and the PTAs and the school administration to get this accomplished.

Please pray that I will find the time necessary to do this and that the way will be opened with the school administration for us to accomplish this ministry and that people will volunteer and that parents will have their kids go to the clinics.

Phil Snyder
Note: actually published on Jan 7, 2010

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Plano Schools - Re-segregation?

Note: Blue is Williams, Magenta is McMillen
It's been a while since I've written anything - I know. I've been busy with work and with a local school project.

Plano Independent School District has a unique way of dividing its grades
Elementary school runs from K-5. Middle School is 6-8. High School is 9 and 10 and the Senior High School is 11 and 12.

In the east side of Plano, there is currently one Senior High school and one High School. PISD is building another. The problem comes out with how do we divide the middle schools between the high schools.

East Plano has a very wide mix of economic status. In "Old Plano", there are a lot of Latinos and a lot of African Americans. In far east Plano, including the suburbs of Parker and Murphy, there are many wealthy families that live in homes that are 500,000 or more (5k square feet).

There are currently six plans that the School Board is considering. Three plans that have the biggest support among the School Board will put the two newest middle schools into the new high school (these are located in the richer part of town) and the two older middle schools to the old high school. The problem is that in doing so, over 90% of the Latino students in east Plano will be sent to the old High School. Also over 92% of the Economically Disadvanted students in east Plano will be sent to the old high school and just under 8% of them will be at the new high school. The new middle school is equidistant from the two high schools, so this isn't really about "neighborhood schools." To me, this is an issue of Justice. To segregate the schools either by race or by economic status is just plain wrong. The image above shows the breakdown of Latino students and Economically Disadvanted students under plans E456 and under the most balanced plan, E3. Click on it to get a bigger picture.
When I spoke at the public hearing I said that to concentrate this much poverty at one school while alleviating the other school of almost all poverty is morally reprehensible. When I said that at the public hearing, I got boo'ed. I have had people ask me how I can call myself a Christian Minister and still make statements like that. I wonder how people can call themselves Christian and support that level of segregation. How can I be a Deacon in Christ's church and not call society's attention to this injustice? How can I not raise the alarm of immorality and injustice? I have received a lot of flak on this, but I have also received a lot of support. When I spoke to the Bishop Suffragan about it, he supported me as did the Archdeacon. I haven't had an opportunity to speak with my Ordinary about it yet.
I would ask you all to please pray for the Parents and Board Members who support the plans that effectively segregate the Latino and poor children into one high school. Pray that God will soften their hearts and open their eyes.
Also pray for me, that I not be consumed with anger. It is hard to meet anger with love and bitterness with joy. Pray that I will be given the grace to do just that.
Phil Snyder