Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

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Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

School Funding

On February 14th, the B'ham City Council approved giving $27,000 to the board of ed to:

provide services to bridge the gap between parent, school and community and to improve relationships between home and school which includes providing monthly parenting classes/courses, workshops, seminars and a district wide yearly family conference for parents, adult family and community members.

Improving relationships between home and school is a great idea, but this seems like a waste of money for two reasons. First, whether it accords with reality or not, most people in the city do not think the school system is very good at teaching the subjects within its area of supposed expertise, i.e. reading, writing and arithmetic. So these same people are going to trust the schools to teach them how to be a parent? Second, how is anyone supposed to know if this money has been well spent? Is there any measurable goal in this description?

In my opinion, more schools is the key to improving the home school relationship. No child should be beyond walking distance from his school. Putting schools in the neighborhoods they serve encourages community participation. Further, schools should be small enough that the principal can recognize every student. That creates accountability.

Expensive? Yes. But not frittering away money on items like this one is a first step towards making real changes.