Finger pointing won’t fix RLMS

Published 8:46 am Friday, April 6, 2007

Many of the roughly 200 people who attended Tuesday night’s meeting on Robert Lewis Middle School didn’t come to listen or learn.

Instead, they came to blame and make outlandish accusations.

Sadly, RLMS is on the brink of drastic consequences because the school has failed to meet a portion of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

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Though the school has many worrisome problems, the problem behind the looming consequences doesn’t have much to do with teachers, administrators and any perceived failures of the central office staff or even science or reading issues.

The problem does, however, have a little to do with math.

NCLB divides children by subgroups, based on race, gender and socioeconomic status, among other things.

Each year, when state tests are given, 95 percent of each subgroup must simply show up to take the test. If they miss once, they have a second chance on retake day.

The problem at RLMS is that not enough students are showing up for the test or the retest.

But the vast majority of the Tuesday night crowd didn’t seem to hear that.

It’s appalling that a room full of adults, and even an elected city leader, can’t sit down and listen long enough to learn an important lesson: The blame game will only hurt our children. They deserve better.

Fixing the testing problem, the academics and the social environment of RLMS is not the lone responsibility of the school district.

Any blame falls on each and every shoulder in the Miss-Lou, and one person cannot solve this problem. Truly the entire “village” is needed.

As soon as we can all learn that, we can begin the discussion of how we can help, rather than just pointing fingers.