Today, I am fuming over something. It's been building up slowly for awhile now. I do not usually get all political but I feel like some things need to be said about what is going on in Cranston and Mayor Fung's proposed Mayoral Academy.
Let me start by saying neither of my parents grew up in Cranston. My dad started out here but he really spent most of his school years in Warwick. My mom was from Westerly. If I remember this correctly, the whole reason my parents purchased their first home (where they still live today) in Cranston, was because at the time Cranston had the number one school system. My parents wanted us to have a great education.
The same can be said for my husband's parents. His mom came here from Guatemala, his dad from Italy. My husband spent his first few years in the Olneyville section of Providence ... but then they too purchased a home in Cranston. Better neighborhoods, better schools.
We took advantage of so much the school system had to offer. I have wonderful memories of traveling with chorus, playing sports, trying to get into pretty much every activity possible. I was even Senior Class President. My husband was 2nd in command of the whole Army ROTC program by the time we were seniors. While not always cool to admit, we cared about the school and we had fun back then. We got a good education as well.
By the time my husband and I graduated high school Cranston was no longer ranked number 1, but they were still good. I was proud to have gone through Cranston's public school system and would not have minded the same for the kids I would someday have. We had big dreams then though, and after college we were either going to be traveling the world with the military (like maybe Germany) or moving right to California where all the computer action was at the time.
Things don't always end up as you may have envisioned. We did not go into the military, we didn't move to California. We actually bought our 1st home in Cranston seven years ago and as we had children I was happy envisioning them growing up in the Cranston schools like we did. My oldest already attends the city pre-K and next year the twins will be there (while my oldest goes on to Kindergarten).
I can not believe all the changes. Not only since I was small, but even in just the last 7 years since I purchased my home. What was once a really nice neighborhood is now home to several foreclosed upon homes and just outside my front door was the scene of not one - but two - police arrests last week alone. I honestly do not know what has happened to the city I loved. My parents neighborhood is now almost unrecognizable to what it was when I was growing up there, and it is so sad.
Year after year I watch as taxes get raised and funding goes down. Remember when you were little and on the 1st day of school you were given supplies IN SCHOOL? Like that brand new box of crayons that was all your own? Not only do I currently pay a weekly fee for the city pre-K (which I am OK with), but the school system is in such need that we get a monthly list for what the class needs as well as a note weekly for anything that might be needed for the next weeks lesson. Horrifying that the teachers can not even get what they need to teach. I do my best to purchase everything I can to help out. It shouldn't fall all on the teacher. But you know what? It shouldn't fall all on the parents either. Where does the money go!
I was mad enough seeing the girl from Cranston West suing the Cranston School system over a plaque mentioning God in the auditorium. It's nothing anyone recites and it's been there forever. And she is SUING the schools for damages. Does she not use money too? That says God. Or is she not that offended. We don't have the money for ANYTHING in Cranston right now - over the past few years schools have been closed, grades have been shuffled around, sports and other programs have been cut again and again. And now we are going to waste more money going to court over something so ridiculous. I'm Catholic and I believe in God, but I really don't think I would care if something of another faith was mentioned on a plaque in school. Are we really wasting time and money on this?!
Mayor Fung has proposed starting his very own Mayoral Academy for a select number of students in Cranston (and Providence!), which he hopes to have open in 2012. Teachers will not be unionized, they don't even have to be certified, and it will start with Kindergarten students chosen by lottery - eventually expanding to all grades. That would be the year my twins start Kindergarten.
What does that say about our city when our very own Mayor has so little faith in our schools that instead of spending the time to work on how we can fix the situation and improve the schools, he's just going to open an academy where a small percentage can get what he feels like is a great education. As a city resident, a parent with children, and as a former student, this news is infuriating to me.
Why can we not work on fixing the current problems and work to better the schools that exist now. In my opinion we have already fallen far enough. It's a sad day when you were once excited to raise your family here, but now constantly contemplate where the best place to eventually move would be. While I may have to stay put for now, this will not be a place I stay to raise my kids.