June 19, 2008

Unpublished Article: Rant Against RHS

There are some schools who are known for being located in rich neighborhoods, and thus are very well funded. There are also other schools, who, while lacking in funds, still manage to find devoted staff willing to make the educational experience good. There are also many schools that lie on the spectrum in between as well, but I am happy to report that unlike any other public school that I am aware of, Randolph High School is unique. That is to say, it is the only school known to be located in a relatively wealthy neighborhood, and yet lacks funding and is about to lose a devoted staff that made an excellent educational experience. For a lack of a more appropriate to say it, it is obvious that if any of the families which currently lived here because of the school system had to make the same decision today, they would never have come to Randolph.

There are several problems with the high school as we know, but the foremost is the inability to respect individual students. Scheduling classes in a manner that is consistent with the difficulty level that students are capable of becomes a complicated game. The highest performing students, that is, the ones most likely to handle difficult courses, are unable to properly form their desired schedule. It isn’t a situation with one or two isolated cases: almost every high performing student who tries to schedule more than 1 science class or a variety of Advanced Placement electives will be unable to escape without at least several trips to guidance and a great deal of hassles.

More importantly, though, any kind of academic achievement is discouraged. Opportunities for participation in learning experiences outside of school through different classes are frowned upon. Individuals who decide to try taking the AP Biology test after honors biology, for example, are actively discouraged from doing so, not because they cannot handle the work, but rather because their teachers know that the administrations will become upset by it. Attempts to try and have students take more advanced classes that they normally might not take are also frowned upon. In essence, the high school encourages individuals to not become more academically challenged, and instead wants its students to conform and all become average.

The school needs to be radically reformed. Instances like the fight that happened last week and the Vermont incident reflect that the school has failed in its responsibility to educate its students both academically and as individuals. The school’s policies have resulted in students who don’t have a chance to learn what they want and or even have a respectable environment to be a part of. Compounding this problem is the fact that administrative decisions this year have done nothing but upset the student body and cause a wholesale departure of key faculty. From its decision to cancel Homecoming to somehow deciding that Martin Luther King Day was a good time to have school, no decision by the Board of Education or the administration have been the right ones. Even its attempts to deal with the situation that occurred up in Vermont resulted in a nonsensical desire to give pizza to all of the senior students, a decision that, while personally very beneficial, does nothing to address the fact that students who had just a week before attended an assembly about the dangers of drugs and yet still manage to bring 18 kegs of beer to a post prom party. At some point the school administration has to realize that it is not accomplishing its goals, that its programs aren’t working, and that it needs to seriously reevaluate what it is doing.

The Board of Education also needs to seriously reconsider the role it is playing in the high school. It is self evident that the quality of the high school has greatly declined in recent years, and the Board of Education has been silent, if not complicit in this downturn in quality. Even attempts to improve the school by the members of the student through groups like the SEA were opposed by the Board. Other clubs and activities have found it difficult to gain Board of Education approval for mundane tasks that they had been doing for years. It is almost as if the members of the Board feel like they have no obligation to the school system whatsoever.

Ultimately, though, it is the voters of Randolph who have made this high school into the worst that it could possibly be. The very fact that the original design for the current high school (which would have only needed expansion very recently) were overruled for what amounted to minimal cost savings and replaced with a design that was already overcrowded from day 1 shows that the citizens of Randolph do not value their educational system. In fact, entire departments at the high school that have been considered outstanding are entirely self-funded: the voters complain about paying too many taxes, but they fail to recognize that they live in an expensive town. More importantly, though, is the fact that one of the major determinants of the quality of the town comes from the educational system. If voters refuse to adequately fund the schools, then nobody will want to live in this town, and the quality of life in Randolph will go down.

Randolph High School is at a crucial turning point. Despite the loss of many of the math and science, and some English teachers, there is still time for this school to make a turnaround. If the Board of Education and the administration take a serious amount of time over the course of the summer and next year to evaluate all of its policies and decisions, there is a chance that Randolph High School might be a good educational facility again. Failing that, Randolph voters must realize that depriving schools of funds will ultimately just hurt the town in the long term and the standard of living for the entire town. Barring this, there will be a massive case of families voting with their feet and either leaving this town or just not coming in the first place. If it ever reaches that point, then Randolph High School will no longer be worth attending, and Randolph’s slogan of being a town “where life is worth living” will become nothing more than a cruel and ironic joke.

1 comment:

  1. couldn't agree more with what you've written...at least you don't have to put up with it any longer.

    ReplyDelete