Controversy Over Possible Closure of Accelerated School

closed signA magnet school in California that serves students who are gifted may be closing. This is controversial for many reasons. Those for the closure point to overcrowding, and feel the school is “elite”. Those against the closure point to the limited opportunity for gifted students in the other schools within the district.

Teach Elementary is a magnet school that is run by the San Luis Coastal Unified School District. It has been around for about thirty years. The school is for academically accelerated students who are in the 4th through 6th grades. In addition to offering accelerated courses, Teach Elementary also offers specialized electives that are taught by volunteers (who often are parents of students who attend the school).

The San Luis Coastal Unified School District is considering closing Teach Elementary. The final decision on that will be made by the school board on February 19, 2013. This is controversial, and both sides have been voicing their opinions about the potential closure.

Assistant Superintendent Rick Robinett had this to say:

(Teach is) a unique type of magnet school because it is pulling gifted or high-achieving students from throughout the district to one site as opposed to a magnet school pulling all types of students into a school. The question has been raised if that is the type of magnet school we want. Is that OK or not OK?

Those who are for the closing of Teach Elementary, including some school administrators, feel that it is inappropriate to provide accelerated classes to some students in the district, but not to all students. The enrollment at Teach Elementary is limited by a lottery system because of the campus size.

Others point at the small campus size as a reason to close the school. Teach Elementary shares a campus with another elementary school. Together, there are about 552 students, and this “puts the campus near capacity and causes a traffic nuisance daily for nearby neighborhoods”.

Those that are opposed to the closing of Teach Elementary note that it is the only school in the district that provides an appropriate education for students who part of the Gifted and Talented Education program (GATE). Closing the school would mean ending the only program in the district that focuses on the needs of gifted students.

Parents of students who currently attend Teach Elementary point out the difference in their child, and his or her view of school, since they enrolled in the magnet school. Previously, these students were bored in school, disengaged, and not being given material that was challenging enough for them. These students were not bringing home much homework.

After enrolling in Teach Elementary, these kids became interested in learning and excited by having to work hard on school assignments. It changed their view of what education could be like.

Image by Tallent Show on Flickr