Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Democracy vs. Republic

Many people believe that we live in a Democracy. We don't - we live in a Republic.

I'm OK with that. I actually think a Republic is better than a Democracy. While I think that our Representatives need to spend a little more time voting on the wishes of their constituents, I still think its better than the ACTUAL people weighing in and voting on every issue.

Evidently our school board doesn't feel the same way.

Drawing school boundaries is never an easy process. There are always going to be people unhappy with the decision. There are ALWAYS going to be people that think its OK for everyone except THEIR child!

This past fall, our area of Loudoun County lost its plan for the next, much-needed middle school. Things were going well and they were waylaid by a small group of people from a single neighborhood who didn't want it in their backyard. And then other supposedly well-meaning people who thought proposing alternatives would be a PRODUCTIVE step in this process. Anyway, the Board of Supervisors voted against approving our next middle school.

It's desperately needed. The current middle school is already overcrowded and the current solution is to take any NEW residents in our district and bus them to the next one. That's a HORRIBLE solution for the new people, but definitely appeases the "Not My Child" constituency.

So, the schools have decided to redraw the district lines to stop the "cherry picking" of kids that's happening now. And their process seems quite ludicrous. They aren't drawing up multiple proposals of how to redraw the districts and asking for input - they are just asking for input. Blank slate, here's a map, give your input.

Who decided that letting the selfish, all-about-me neighbors propose our school boundaries is a good idea? The school administration definitely has a set of objectives that have to be met with any plan (transportation, class size, demographic, etc) but I'm trying to figure out how they think that going into a community that is so completely divided by the ugliness of our previous school fight is going to result in reasonable suggestions.

Personally, they would never consider my idea. They should take the newest elementary school in our area and turn it into a 6th grade school (or maybe a 5th and 6th grade school) and get the 6th graders out of the middle school. It would require no new infrastructure and the transporation impacts would be limited because it would keep the kids in the neighborhood. But I'll propose it just like all the other crazies that are going to propose plans that only benefit their kids and their friends.

And why do I care about any of this? While I homeschool now, my children will be going to public high school (unless we win the lottery to send them to private school) because our county doesn't accept homeschool class credits towards high school graduation requirements. These boundaries start to affect me next year as I'll be enrolling Samantha in Algebra through the school system so that she can have the math credit, and right now I don't know what middle school she'll be attending.

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