Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"It's deja vu all over again!" -Yogi Berra

I feel like I am in a time warp with today's T&G.  We have an article about a city school failing to meet expectations and needing a grand restructuring, an article about the problems whenever our Parks Department redesigns a city park, and an article about a bar/restaurant closing on the corner of Commercial and Front Street. I'm feeling lazy today, and think I've written about our 'failing' schools and the problems with that particular location before. I think I might have a few posts about our Parks Department...let me check.

Here's what's different now.
Regarding Claremont Academy, are we now forced to believe that the new Superintendent, the new principal (transferred from our best performing school), and the third 'new' academic outlook in twenty years will transform Claremont Academy and its students. Here's the money quote:
"I am beginning the process to restart Claremont Academy as a high performing 7-12heterogeneous/all honors school."
If it is heterogeneous and all honors, does that mean all the current students will remain, or will they have to reapply? Or will the school begin the process of weeding out the non-honors students to keep test scores high? The stark reality of education is that students aren't heterogeneous. They have different needs and different support structures at home. When you expect every student to be a college bound honors student, what happens a few years later when all the students aren't? Do you reassess the plan and call the school and its teachers a failure, or do you weed out the students who won't reach the goals?

Either way, what happens to the students who don't meet your standards? They will need to be educated somewhere in the City, and all you do is shuffle the students off to another school, which eventually will need to be reassessed because of the new lower test scores. I don't mean to sound like Rick Santorum at all. I'm just cynical that an 'all honors' school is the best idea.

We should be focused on what is best for all the students, not forgetting that they are individuals with different needs.
Overtime Tap closing wasn't a shock to me. The space was too large, and the rent was too damn high! Each incarnation that rents the space out has to rent two different floors to ensure bathroom access. It's hard to make a restaurant profitable when you are paying for more square footage than you need because the bathrooms are in the basement with a function room that doesn't get used.

There will be another bar/restaurant in that space. Please split that space up, and build bathrooms on the first floor. Also, elevate the food to something memorable, and people will come. I'm not afraid of dining downtown, I'd just prefer great food.
First of all, kudos to the T&G for the article title: "Field of foul balls on hold in Worcester." 

As for our Parks Department, no kudos for you! This is what happens when the public is shut out of the design process and their legitimate concerns are disregarded. Redesigning a park is a big process that should be done carefully. The recent trend is to completely reconfigure parks ignoring their historical usage, which hasn't caused any problems previously! Why? Who knows? The process is closed and mysterious to anyone who isn't the acting commissioner.

I don't know if the same firm redesigned Vernon Park and Beaver Brook. I do know that the original design of Beaver Brook didn't take into account the trajectory of foul balls or the possibility of home runs with the cloverleaf of proposed fields. It's almost like it is a redesign based upon cramming as much stuff into a small space without thinking of future consequences. Lastly, Parks and DPW have a history of not including (or notifying) the organizations that use the parks on a regular basis, so all practical experience isn't included in the design stages.

This is how we end up with broken windshields and windows, angry neighbors, and patchwork 'solutions' that are failures doomed to create more mistrust of our public agencies.

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