Bibb Superintendent of Schools Romain Dallemand has given the community a peek at his plans for revamping the school system. His full strategic plan will be unveiled Feb. 10. The little snippet he teased the community with came in a address to the League of Women Voters Wednesday.
The superintendent plans something that has been taboo in many education circles: School choice. All schools across the county will have a core curriculum, but individual schools will focus on specialized interest areas from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to the arts, sports and military.
Such a system will accomplish a number of goals by addressing one of the system’s most pressing problems. Bibb County, for whatever reason, has a highly transient student population. According to the system, about 35 percent of its students change schools during the school year. Many change schools multiple times. Data shows that when a student changes schools he or she loses a year of educational progress. With the proposed system, it doesn’t matter where the child’s parents move or how many times, the school doesn’t change, giving the student a stable island in the midst of confusion.
It only stands to reason that if a child and his or her family are interested in the focus at the school they will be more vested in it. That’s not rocket science. All of us are more involved in things that suit our interests. There are certainly challenges. Transportation will be a nightmare and the system may enlist other community partners to help out. That’s not unheard of. Many of the most successful magnet schools in North Carolina depend on everyone from the transit system to taxis to get their students to and from school.
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This is only the beginning. As we go through this process we must remember why such bold action is necessary. When 55.4 percent of a system’s students don’t graduate in four years that is a really big problem and it will take big ideas to solve -- not only the graduation rate, but the knowledge base students graduate with.
-- Charles E. Richardson, for the Editorial Board