Archive for Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Alternative school idea worth exploring

April 24, 2002

While an alternative school in Tonganoxie might not be the answer all students and their parents are seeking, the idea is worth exploring.

Alternative schools can provide nurturing atmospheres, in smaller classrooms, for students who are at-risk of not graduating.

The schools, if operated correctly, are not baby-sitting services, nor are they juvenile detention centers.

They are a means to a goal. And that goal is helping ensure students learn academics and gain the self-esteem necessary to contribute positively to society.

Some Tonganoxie school board members are highly negative toward alternative schools. But that negativism should be put on the shelf until the staff and the board have an opportunity to fully explore the issue.

According to the state, Tonganoxie's student dropout rate during the past three years has run above the state average. That is not an instance in which we want our children to exceed the norm. Those numbers signal there's a problem.

Students leave school early for a variety of reasons. Certainly, some students are very difficult for teachers and parents to reach.

But students do not come in one-size-fits-all just as adults do not. Students are under a variety of complex pressures pressures to perform, pressures to fit in and pressures to try to find their place in the world.

Couple those pressures with a student who cannot read or cannot do the simplest mathematics assignments, and it's understandable that student might become a "classroom problem."

The Tonganoxie school board has agreed to delve further into the idea of an alternative school. And that's commendable.

Whether such a school would be a good fit for the district can only be determined after a thoughtful examination of other such schools' programs and the successes and failures of their students.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.