It is time to take back schools

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 24, 2007

To the Editor:

I saw the banner on Friday’s “Letter to the Editor” of “It is time to take back our schools” and I though that it should be a really good letter to the editor. I, however, was somewhat surprised at the content.

After my Letter to The Editor in response to Mr. Gerald Shirley’s desire to ‘dumb down’ further the high school exit exam, I received approximately 20 plus phone calls. These calls were equally divided between parents with children in either the city and county school systems. And, they were all horror tales of what the systems were not doing. Possibly the worst was from a mother of a 9th grader who was promoted while he is functioning on approximately a second grade level. There was not one negative phone call or comment to me in public wanting to follow Mr. Shirley’s desire to “dumb down” the exit exam. All of the phone calls and comments to me were encouraging.

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Two events have particularly struck me since my letter to you.

First, the Montgomery Advertiser did an article on just how low our high school graduates were functioning. The article featured a local graduate whom I personally know. This wonderful young man allowed his full name, school, etc. to be mentioned in this article.

This absolutely fabulous young man has had to spend one academic year (two semesters) at Jacksonville in the 090 (pre-college level) series taking classes from 8 to 11 a.m. five days a week plus extensive home work just to get ready just to begin college level work. And, he is a local high school graduate.

Second, I was appointed by the court in a custody situation to represent a local young lady who is 17 years of age. She had failed three years of school due to unexcused absences. At age 17, she was to start the ninth grade this fall. She will be 18 in November. Did the school system do anything about a young lady who had failed three years due to unexcused absences? No! DHR (welfare) found out about the situation while doing their investigation.

The banner to Ms. Lewis’ letter is very correct. The contents of this letter are just incorrect. It is time for the parents and the tax paying public to take back our schools from both the city and county school administrators and staff that are miserably failing to do their jobs!!!

The two examples are only representative of some of what I am seeing from being in a court system that must be closed to the public since it involves juveniles. I could tell you of many others including a 14 year old that we have yet to determine how long he had not been attending school. Yet, the school system had done nothing. This situation also came to light from DHR and not the school system.

Judge Robert Armstrong is doing an absolutely fabulous job of the cases that come before him. But, until the case(s) come before him, there is absolutely nothing that Judge Armstrong can do. And, because we are the number one county in the state in per capita juvenile violent crimes, Judge Armstrong has done an absolutely fabulous job of doing what he can do to “clean up” the violence that is going on in our schools through his “Safe School” program. I have nothing but good things to say about what Judge Armstrong and his Juvenile Probation Officers are doing. But, he (they) can not be in every school every day. So, it is up to those who are paid to do a job to begin doing the jobs for which they are paid.

Yes, Ms. Lewis, it is time that we, the public, take back our schools and demand that either those employed to do their jobs do it or resign.

It is time that the public knows what is not happening in our schools and that we force those who are being paid to produce for the salaries that they are drawing!!! I only wish that the general public could see what our public school systems are not doing!! It would scare you!!!

To those of you within the school systems who are trying to do your jobs (often without administrative support) I have nothing but the highest regards for you and what you are doing.

Blanchard L. McLeod Jr.

Attorney at Law