If he were a black man …

Published 11:12 am Wednesday, May 30, 2012

by Bob Trainor

If I were a black man with children to educate, I would not move to Franklin. If I were a black man living in Franklin with school-age children, I would leave prior to their entry to our junior high and most certainly before high school.

If I were a black responsible single parent, male or female, it would be adios as well. The excuse that I cannot afford a move does not do it. You cannot afford not to do it if you want your children to be better prepared for their future.

Can you imagine that we are 131 out of 132 districts in Virginia? Can you imagine that we spend $1,135 ($3,870 vs. $2,735), or 40 percent, more per student than Southampton County and yet lag behind the county schools in achievement. Can we then deduce that money probably isn’t the whole problem?

Did you know that another Franklin student won another Gates Scholarship this year, making it three year in a row for Franklin High School to produce a Gates Scholar? Did you know that Norfolk was proud of the fact its school won two similar scholarships this year? Norfolk has 33,000 students. Perhaps we can conclude that our teachers can teach. Can we hence deduce that teaching isn’t the only problem either?

Did you know that 71 out of 100 black students did pass the Standards of Learning tests? This is a vast majority. Probably we can eliminate ability to learn as another factor.

We spend more money and our kids achieve less. This is failure by any definition.

Did you know that 29 out of 100 did not pass the SOLs? Who are these kids and how does the school system treat them? This, it seems to me, is central to the problem.

Can we identify those whose mental abilities lag our other kids? I am sure that the teachers know who they are starting in elementary school and can deal with them. Let us say that of the 29, we have 9 who fall into this category.

That leaves 20 who are able but not learning. I am sure that the teachers know who these students are, both male and female, beginning at the junior high level and going forward to high school. I submit it is not the school’s charter to know or care how they got this way. Let the social workers and police deal with them.

The proportion may not be factual, but those students who fall into this category should be isolated from the 71 who are truly students and are interested in learning. It is like a bowl of fruit sitting on the cupboard. If one goes bad, it affects the whole bowl.

I think the school policy should change as it deals with these students. Isolate them so that the others can learn. This might get a little flak from Richmond, but so what. What we are doing is not working. This will not correct all the problems, but it might be a small step, amongst others, to bring our schools moving in the right direction.

If I was a black parent of the hypothetical 71 students, I would move unless I saw the trend change. I am an old white geezer, with grown kids, whose property value just took a big hit, but I would like to brag that Franklin had the best school system in the state and not 131 out of 132.

ROBERT “BOB” TRAINOR is a Franklin resident and Newport News businessman. His email address is btrainor@bttwarranty.com.