food for discussion: prioritize low-ses access to new Central

What if, whenever and wherever we build a new Central, what if we as a community and a school district prioritized all forms of access such that any child on the free and reduced lunch program could readily take advantage of the new facilities and resources. Let me be clear, by all forms of access, I mean the following:

  • All children on the free and reduced program, with the one and only limitation being sheer capacity regardless of other quotas, will have automatic priority to enroll at the school
  • Whenever school is in session, not only will the child have ready transportation at the beginning and end of school, but transportation will also be available for extra-curricular programs at the school, as well as transportation for parents/guardians for conferences
  • Options to participate remotely, not only making the educational materials available online, but actively assisting in the home networking solutions


In some ways, you might be thinking “sure, this is all nice and pie-in-the-sky, but impractical and too expensive”. Perhaps if that is your response, we need to rethink the purpose of free, public education, and how it is provided.


So if you put a high school on Interstate Drive, make sure any low-ses family that wants to get there can. Costs money? You bet! Logistical nightmare? In this day and age, are we not called to be problem solvers?


Like I said before, the location of a high school, let alone a brand new high school, is of less importance to me than what I consider to be a higher priority – making sure we provide a free, high-quality public education, especially to those that really could benefit from it.


I invite you all to chime in, especially you silent types who usually don’t say anything. 🙂


21 Responses to “food for discussion: prioritize low-ses access to new Central”

  1. kshannon617 Says:

    If you factor in those costs, then the infill sites become significantly less expensive. This is why some of us support infill so vehemently! Interstate Drive is only less expensive when the parents have to shoulder much of the transportation burden, and many of those parents are unable to do so.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    That, my friend, is exactly the point. 🙂

    Heck, let’s be ultra liberal for a little bit. I don’t care if we substantially raise taxes on everyone who makes $80k and above, so that those who make $30k and below can have shuttles to and from school. If things were planned out well, the need for such extravagence should be minimized.

    Or let us take a totally different approach to education altogether; what if we had thousands of small educational centers in each neighborhood, with local community members helping as they can? I am a big fan of the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. I don’t have a problem extending that to the online community, either, as long as we apply the same high social expectations online as offline.

    We could go crazy with ways to make lemonade. The tricky part is figuring out what is practical and realistic.

  3. kshannon617 Says:

    I was just talking about this a little more with my husband. I’m sure you know that Central (and Centennial) have food banks. I believe the student gets to choose from a list of available foods, and the parent picks up the order. That’s going to be a helluva lot more difficult if the high school is miles out of everybody’s way.

    I think this is just one of many ways that poor families in this community will be the ones bearing too much of the cost for a school so far out.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      The mentoring room at Centennial shares closet space with the food bank, we see it every week. 🙂 That and the school’s routers. I have thought about the games we can play – the routers are not even locked up in a cabinet or anything, wires just hanging everywhere. I should show it to Bambenek sometime….

      But on a more serious note, yes, I totally agree. It is up to us to make sure that does not happen.

  4. Kathy R. Says:

    “Interstate Drive is only less expensive when the parents have to shoulder much of the transportation burden, and many of those parents are unable to do so.”

    Can we have that engraved somewhere? Because Kathy S. just put in a nutshell why many of us feel that the Interstate location forces an excess of spending, year after year, to try to equalize the (new) playing field.

  5. Chris Kloeppel Says:

    In a poll of 838 Central students, 83 or 9.90% of them walked to school, and 4 or .48% biked to school. The rest got to school via car, Mtd, and yellow bus. Central is not currently located in a low socioeconomic status community (LSSC). I guess my point is that a lot of the kids attending Central at this time are already “burdened” with the responsibility of getting to school. I haven’t heard a uproar about this “injustice”. I’ve talked recently with leaders within the LSSCs and in general as a whole they do not feel that the transportation issues are what some groups are making them out to be, a burden. Quoting loosely: We’ve always used the bus system to get to school and we will continue to do so. The bigger concern at hand, is the education that is being challenged by the existing facilities.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      For everyone else, here is a link to the survey Chris is quoting from:
      Transportation Survey

      I will note that 4 people said they rode their bike. 🙂 Although, when I have been at Central (twice last year, certainly not a good sample), I saw more than 4 bikes. Maybe staff ride their bikes?

      Chris, you raise a good point. If you will, allow me to fold both of these ideas together (both ideas being “injustice” and “education that is being challenged”).

      I do not speak for the poor or the African American community. I have not walked in their shoes. I am not an expert, and I am in no position to dole out advice on what is best for them. So when I talk to Jamar Brown, Imani Bazzell, Melodye Rosales, and the fine folks at the Rose and Taylor Barbershop, I learn a little more about the “north end” community. And what I have heard pretty much lines up with what you have said, Chris, in that a significant number of people that live north of University have not expressed a concern about the location of the high school, but rather are much more concerned about equity issues, especially surrounding discipline and the “school to prison pipeline”. Imani has long struggled to address the issues in these communities in the many ways she applies her resources; for example, the “Great Campus” initiative, and more recently her “At Promise … Of Success” project, based on the Coalition for Community Schools. (you can read more in a previous blog post) What jumps at me when I read these articles and fascinating ideas is that the whole thing revolves around building relationships. The kind of relationships that require endurance, patience, persistance and fortitude. Relationships are not easy, nor pretty. But so essential.

      How do we encourage and even stimulate stronger communities? We talk about public education as if it is an end, but really it is just a means to something else. What we are striving for, I think, are strong, vibrant, healthy communities. Not perfect, Utopian societies that are unrealistic and fantasy, but ones that are equiped to deal with the challenges and obstacles along life’s twisted path. From my point of view, this is the end goal.

      So again, I don’t care where a school is sited, as long as the end goal is met. Does it make communities stronger? If yes, than do it! If not, why not? Or, perhaps a certain location benefits one community over another? How do you weigh that? In my mind, that is something we all have to wrestle with, something we have to chew on and deliberate, something we need to hash out and argue about. And we need to tools to do that successfully.

    • kshannon617 Says:

      I have a few comments on that–first, that I think they’re quite right about facilities. This isn’t a question of whether we will build bigger facilities, but where.

      Second, it will be much more of a hardship to use the bus at Interstate. Right now there are barely any buses that go up there, and they don’t run frequently. So it will be much harder for kids to get home if they choose to do any after school activities, unless the CUMTD increases service up there. If it does that, it’s going to have to decrease service somewhere else, making it more difficult for the people who rely on public transportation.

      Finally, I would also note that although the current Central is not located in a LSSC, it’s right next to one (north of the railroad tracks is census tract 000901, 35% of people living in poverty. Dodds Park would be significantly better than Central for that population in terms of transportation, although worse for others.)

    • Kathy R. Says:

      One of the habits I wish to break is the current board’s habits of citing data without fully referencing their polling methods. As we all know, policies should be based on data, but as I hope we also know, data can be gathered in ways that will support just about any agenda. Wasn’t this the study that asked students on a single day, “how did you get to school today?” How do we know this is representative? Maybe it is… but my point is we have no way to know.

    • Rebecca Patterson Says:

      This neighborhood, the North End, where I happen to live, can get on one bus and ride it to school in just a matter of minutes. Earlier today I took the bus to north Prospect, was in the store for 30 minutes, caught the bus home. I rode four buses and I was gone three hours.

      • pattsi Says:

        You are most fortunate. I live 1 block from the blue and green lines. It takes me 45 minutes to get to Market Place because I have to change buses. So your experience is basically and more than likely an outlier than the norm. 🙂

  6. Andrew Moss Says:

    In a discussion where the phrase ultra liberal is being used I hope this link will be appropriate. I know this blog often references the consent decree and other matters of social justice and policy; this year is the 50th anniversary of the Moynihan Report on race and racism in the US. I hate to send Chuck down a rabbit hole of woulda’s and shoulda’s, but I thought this report and its problems are part of what the community on this blog are trying to combat in a meaningful way.

    Thought the folks here would be interested.

    Andrew Moss

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      Andrew, thanks for dropping a note aobut this report. When I click on that link, I see three articles related to the original report. Have you read all three? Or are you specifically referring to the original report? (which I have not seen linked on that page, but will look for on google)

      What is your own take away from what you have read?

      • Andrew Moss Says:

        Hi Chuck,

        That blog, which I usually like, is publishing a kind of ‘look back’ at the report, as well as some new research. The articles it’s publishing defer discussions of the racist ethos and methods of the Moynihan Report. Those articles discuss that ethos and methodology in the most benign terms, focusing on the firestorm they created, not the problematics of the report itself. Petterson’s article is the cornerstone for this kind of coverage. The new research by Quane et al. takes on the purported intent of the Moynihan report using new methods and, supposedly, a new point of view.

        The Moynihan Report isn’t as rescue-able as Education Next seems to think. In my eyes, its conclusions — that somehow racism, which is centuries old and systemic in the US is NOT quite as pressing an issue as (the Report’s) inaccurate judgments about family life in African-American America — and the assumptions that allowed them to stand at the end of a social study are wrong.

        We should re-read the report and the controversy, I think, but resist its thinking — that is, we should NOT return to it in order to retrieve what might be construed as “good parts” in spite of its “bad parts.” (I’d say this blog is a good way for a community like ours to “do” public policy debate using a different framework (and lenses!) than the Moynihan model. And for that I say congratulations to all who post here!)

        All that said, I recommend the articles because they are a good overview and, as I’m suggesting, very non-confrontational. They speak to a wide audience without threatening them. I suggest Dr. Anderson at the U of I for a mild but strong correction, and, in my limited life experience, the rhetoric and teaching of Jesse Jackson and bell hooks in the 80’s and 90’s for more stern and direct rebukes.

        Andrew Moss

  7. Andrew Moss Says:

    some typos up there, sorry, I’m posting as I leave the office for lunch…

  8. Chuck Jackson Says:

    I just taught a class last night where (among many other things) we discussed the nature of facts and narratives. So many people think that we create our narrative to fit facts when it is demonstrably the other way around. We understand facts based on our pre–existing narrative. We understand the same facts in different ways because of how we fit them into our narrative. This is one of the main things that sabotages public discussions because we are unpracticed at seeing from another point of view. As such we need to investigate the source of our narrative at least as much as the facts. The “no one walks or bikes to school” narrative obviously supports the district’s agenda of minimising transportation issues. This alone alerts anyone to look to verify the research findings.

    So many questions need to be answered, it feels like we need to go back to the beginning even though that would be frustrating. There is a whole series of facts that conveniently fit the narrative of “we need a new school” that the whole bargain becomes questionable. This is the crux of the issue when people say, the Board has lost our trust. We haven’t been able to see things from their point of view. Transparency implies they they show us all the same information they use to make their decision. Even if we don’t agree, we can see how they connected the dots to form their opinion.

    All too quickly the board has articulated “there is no perfect solution” rather than allowing everyone to get to that point at their own pace. Then they have used that imperfection (that we all have to agree to eventually) to beat us over the head with it in order to demand their own way. The process matters if this is truly a community decision. Thus far the process has been extremely one sided with resources and power only available to bolster one solution. To whine that no one has submitted alternatives fails to see that none of the rest of us have six figure contracts to offer to architects and other professionals to articulate the possibilities we see. As a result, many people in the community feel railroaded. We want to support education, to provide for the needs of our students and all the same motivation, but don’t see the solution they offer as truly solving the relevant problems.

    • Andrew Moss Says:

      “I just taught a class last night where (among many other things) we discussed the nature of facts and narratives. So many people think that we create our narrative to fit facts when it is demonstrably the other way around. We understand facts based on our pre–existing narrative.”

      Exactly. That’s why these discussions at thecitizen4blog hurdle the pitfalls the Moynihan report fell into. Much of the (very appropriate, in my view) criticism aimed at the Moynihan report was due its assumptions about what the facts were always already going to say.

      Andrew Moss

      • Rebecca Patterson Says:

        That brings to mind, how can you find the answer if you haven’t defined the question yet? I’ve never felt like we knew what the question was. The answers never made sense.

      • charlesdschultz Says:

        For a brief lapse into comic relief, that is exactly the entire premise of Douglass Adam’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is about – we have answers that make no sense because we do not know the questions.

        Rebecca, if you do not mind, may I ask you what you think the question is? I don’t live on the north end, and I am thinking that perhaps we all have different questions. Valid questions.

      • Rebecca Patterson Says:

        They have started with the idea we need a new “21st century high school” with a sports complex attached. I think the starting place is what kind of education do the kids need to succeed. If the focus is put first on what they need to learn, not where, it could help. For example, if you were to think you were training 200 airplane mechanics you wouldn’t build them kitchens to work in. Their formula seemed to be 1700 students x square feet = building + field + field + etc. Those kids are failing, and that formula doesn’t work anymore. I want to know where those kids can be in ten, twenty years from now. So we can get them there.

  9. pattsi Says:

    This is all about Meno’s Dilemma.

    Further as I previously posted, I took a tour of MTD this week, including a chance to see the two bus simulators. This caused me to wonder why there is a need to build welding booths when simulators could be used and the teaching of many surgery procedures are now done digitally.

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