Back from my honeymoon and I'm ready to roll.
While I was away, I received some feedback from my story about Anniston City Schools. (Subscription required.)
Here are two letters I received.
I joined IBM in 1960 and worked for them for 33 years. During the 1960's and 1970's
we could not build new plant sites fast enough to meet the growing demand for computer products.
When opening new plant sites there were several relevant priorities. At the top of the list was the quality of the local school system. Teams from our corporate headquarters would send out employees to investigate the proposed locations.
Anniston is my hometown and after retirement from IBM, I moved back here. In my days of the 1940's attending Anniston High School, it was one of the best state school systems. I was shocked to see how the school system had degraded to one of the worst in the state based on exit exams.
As long as this condition exists, Anniston will struggle to reestablish it's economic vitality.
I enjoyed the article on Sunday. I hope you keep hammering at this issue.
I have 25 years experience as a teacher, coach, administrator in Public Schools. I retired in 1996 and went to work for an educational computer software company. For nine years I traveled to about 20 states, installing student administration software, and training users in the schools and school district offices. I say this to hopefully gain a little credibility.
There are school districts worse than Anniston’s, but it is not a statement of fact to say that all inner city schools are not achieving their potential. In some places, the result of integration and the migration from the cities to the suburbs has left a decaying city with poverty the root cause for poor performing schools. In other locations, through the right leadership, the inner city schools succeed at providing a successful learning environment. It’s all about leadership.
I believe that Anniston’s problems started in the early 70’s when the white flight started. Anniston, over the years, has reinvented its school system several times. Again, in my opinion, the failure was ineffective leadership, both at the school level and within the school district office.
I don’t believe the Anniston City School system can survive the latest failure to provide a learning environment. Part of it is the failure of the school board to set the policies necessary to bring Anniston out of the abysmal public perception it currently has.
The Calhoun County School System has excess capacity. I think the City School Board should petition the federal judge with jurisdiction over the city’s schools to dissolve the city system, close those segregated schools and merge the schools with the county.
I'd appreciate other reader's thoughts and comments on this issue.