The Closing of Willie Brown
by David Russitano
In March, SFUSD identified 10 schools as part of the bottom 5% of schools in the state of California. Many of these schools are now in the spotlight as they are forced into major changes – most of which are business models that masquerade as educational reform. Predictably, these schools serve the communities that need schools the most – high poverty neighborhoods enrolling majority Black and Latino students that have traditionally been underresourced. One school has been chosen by the district to be closed so that it can be renovated. Willie Brown Academic Middle School will be shutting down at the end of the current school year. While renovation seems like a logical step, we should remember that the district spent millions to renovate Gloria R Davis in Bay View Hunters Point only to close the school for good the next year. This time they are closing BVHP's only middle school.
As reported in the Bay View (http://sfbayview.com/), "“I don’t see where they are going to get the funds to rebuild Willie Brown when the school budget is operating at a deficit. Building a new school is not the answer. We need to learn how to work with what we have first and improve that before we try to build new facilities" said Daphina Marshall, a parent and a resident of the Bayview Hunters Point community.
Ironically, Willie Brown has received money through the School Improvement Grant (given to each of the bottom 5% schools) and is using that $50,000 dollars to find students from Willie Brown "higher performing" schools to attend. I’m not sure why it costs $50,000 to look for better schools, but I am sure that school reform that doesn't come from the community will never be effective and will continue to leave parents, students, teachers and families feeling like reform is done to them, not for them.
Want to get involved? Critical parent meeting on Monday, Oct. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m., in the Bayview YMCA conference room on Quesada and Lane Street.