No One Would Benefit from Closing Alternative Schools

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), January 3, 2011 | Go to article overview

No One Would Benefit from Closing Alternative Schools


Byline: Dave Taube

On Dec. 2, The Register-Guard printed a letter by Nancy Willard outlining the evils of the alternative schools. On Dec. 26, The Register- Guard printed a much longer piece from Willard, once again outlining the evils of the alternative schools. Willard said the same thing in both pieces, but the commentary was a longer, more verbose version.

For several years, this newspaper, as well as Eugene Weekly, have featured letters and commentaries written by Willard, all of them saying the same thing, over and over and over. Why does our local newspaper continue to provide a platform for this woman? Why do her bizarre opinions continue to show up on a regular basis in our media? What are her qualifications for getting so much attention?

In her letter and commentary, Willard threw around some meaningless statistics that are supposed to support her theory that the alternative schools are a hotbed of inequity. Her point is that because more children receive free or reduced-price lunches at neighborhood schools than at alternative schools, the alternative schools are, by virtue of that fact, elitist.

Am I missing something here? So more kids in one school get free lunch than in another nearby school. Those statistics are intended to support Willard's argument, but they mean absolutely nothing.

Willard conveniently skims over the fact that admission to the alternative schools is biased toward disadvantaged and minority children. Not only are these children encouraged to apply to and attend the alternative schools, but they are given preferential treatment in the admissions process.

How could the Eugene School District possibly make this system more fair? Ban all affluent and white kids from these schools? Isn't it possible that some people couldn't care less whether their children learn a second language? Isn't it possible that Hispanics don't see the need for their children to attend a language immersion school, because their children are already bilingual?

Another point that Willard belabors is that neighborhood schools provide more special education services than alternative schools. What does this have to do with anything? Should we place children who are educationally challenged in an environment where they are totally lost, or should we put them in schools that provide special education services?

What Willard fails to realize is that if she has her way, the public schools will be far more homogeneous than they currently are. …

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