"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Public Schools for the Public’s Children

March 18th, 2009 by mopns · No Comments

By Bertha Gilkey Bonds
Missouri Black Alliance for Educational Options

When did it become unpopular to use a public school building to support public education? You’ll have to ask the Missouri State Board of Education, the SLPS Special Administrative Board and other supporters of the current deed restriction law on unused St. Louis public school buildings. As a long-time resident of St. Louis, I’ve watched my city’s school system deteriorate annually; be it academically or otherwise.

Now our community seeks access to school buildings for school children, but the doors are locked. My goal is to unlock the doors so that my people can get in. It will take some work as well as face-to-face meetings with state leaders and local officials, but I am sure that our community support for this effort will pay off. At the same time, you have to question the motives of those who support “restrictions” in lieu of our desire to open public charter schools in this public space. It is not as if we are asking the state to freely give away public property to money-grabbing private corporations that have no accountability to the community. At the same time, I am tired of seeing closed public school buildings become a haven for crime, drug use and other activities that are equally counter-productive to our community. I simply want public access to a public building. So if the community wants to open a public charter school in an unused St. Louis public school building—I stress public charter school—why can’t we? Are these not our public’s children? Absolutely! So let’s band together to get the deed restriction removed.

Related: Video: SLPS Closed Buildings Deed Restrictions

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Tags: School Choice

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  • 1 Emily // Mar 18, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Bertha is absolutely right. Arne Duncan was recently quoted in an interview with the Washington Post:

    “School buildings don’t belong to us. They don’t belong to the unions. School buildings belong to the community.”

    If we were in my childhood preschool, the SAB would be Zachary, the boy who broke my sun visor and wouldn’t give it back to me. And my teacher who stepped in will hopefully be mirrored by legislators and leaders who are here to protect the public’s interest–but it’s ridiculous that my best comparison to the people who are running my school system is to a selfish four-year-old. These buildings DO NOT belong to any group or faction. They belong to the public, and if we want to revive the ones that are dormant in the interest of educating our children, no one, least of all those dedicated to education, should get in our way.

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