Today, I attended the all-day “Futures Conference” for the Long Term High School Facilities Option plan for Montgomery Public Schools, as one of probably a hundred or so invited participants. The set-up was typical focus-group — a couple of speakers throwing out a lot of information before we all filled out questionnaires individually then met in groups of six to compromise on group answers, with a spokesman (me, today) to stand up and give the group’s position. The main thing I want to say is that it was an honor to be invited, since I’m a classroom teacher, not an administrator and certainly not any kind of prominent public official.
I don’t want to write much about the options discussed today, because every possibility is still being tossed around. I would rather leave it up to the MPS folks to announce what they’re ready to announce when it is time. Some of the options presented today by the DeJong-Richter consulting firm involved major overhauls of grades 9-12 schools while other options were less dramatic. All the options required lots of money and about ten years to complete, so if all goes well, my daughter (who is now five and in pre-K) might attend one of these schools by the time she is ready to graduate.
I was just glad to hear people talking in earnest about moving Montgomery’s schools forward. The last new high school Montgomery built was in 1966 and it was named for Confederate president Jefferson Davis. When Bobby Bright was elected mayor in 2000, the city began moving out of its Dark Ages (the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s). And current mayor Todd Strange has taken up that mantel of improvement since his election in 2008, when Bright went to the US Congress. After a few duds in a row in the schools superintendent job, maybe Barbara Thompson is the one who will move the schools forward, too. As a teacher, as a parent, as a citizen, I hope so.