Muncie Community Schools: Our Prejudice Keeps Us Apart

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Muncie Community Schools (MCS) have now completed two rounds of Town Hall Meetings as residents were allowed to speak last night at Northside Middle School. A third Town Hall Meeting will be hosted by Wilson Middle School on Wednesday, September 11th at 6:30pm. 

MCS has added another option and will post it online shortly for you to review. Superintendent Tim Heller and MCS Board President both reiterated that no decision has been made, and they will gather all feedback from Town Hall meetings and then make a decision around mid-November.

One area of concern noted by Mark Burkhart, CFO for MCS, is if we choose to close a building, a charter school has the right to buy the property for $1.00 or lease the property for $1.00 per year thanks to House Bill 1002 passed in 2011.

The first session was at Southside High School, one of the schools rumored to experience changes. It was obvious that many who spoke believe it is a foregone conclusion that Southside High School will close with students being transferred to Muncie Central. The meeting was emotional for many students, parents, neighbors and alumni.

The school board presented four options and a “?” for number five. They want the community to think about a fifth option. You can find the proposals on MCS website at: http://www.muncie.k12.in.us/BoardofTrustees/TownHallInformation.

The meeting spilled over into the social media sites like Facebook. The proponents for change talked about the Blue Ribbon recommendations, empty buildings, declining student population, saving money, more efficiencies and rebuilding a new program.

The opponents talked about tradition and identity, but some comments were fear based – there would be more fights, students wouldn’t get along because of the “divide”. Some parents stated, “If the high schools combine, we’ll transfer our kids to county schools.”

Let’s take a look at the mission statement of Muncie Community Schools: “The mission of Muncie Community Schools is to provide a quality educational environment that allows every student to maximize his or her potential and, upon graduation, possess the basic skills necessary to be a positive, productive, contributing member of society.”

The mission of MCS is not to uphold tradition or respect the identity of a specific community, so their decision-making shouldn’t be based on protecting prejudices subscribed to by parents and their children.

It’s certainly not their role to support racial divide. Last I checked, segregation was a child of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. According to the Supreme Court of the United States in 2013, we have no racism in this country. Yet in Middletown, USA, it would seem alive and well.

Racism is a much more clandestine, much more hidden kind of phenomenon, but at the same time it’s perhaps far more terrible than it’s ever been. ~ Angela Davis

Muncie has shrunk since the 80’s and we have half empty school buildings. In fact, after the decline in the 80’s and 90’s, we could have made a decision then, but we didn’t. Anderson combined high schools in 1998. I heard parents in 1998 state, “If you close Madison Heights, we’ll move our kids to Yorktown”, and Yorktown experienced a jump in school applications after Madison Heights closed.

In 1998, why did Madison Height’s parents refuse to let their kids go to the joint high school?

Their prejudice.

Here we are 15 years later, and it’s still about our prejudice – “We don’t want ‘our kids’ going to school with ‘those kids’.”

The classic, “We are better than you because (fill in the blank).”

Parents move their kids from this school to that school because they deserve better. We have Muncie parents moving their kids Delta, Yorktown or Cowan to avoid attending school with ‘those kids’. We have parents in Delaware County who drop off their kids in Fishers, Carmel or Noblesville because their kids deserve better.

I’m glad Larry Riley touched on the Middletown Studies in his article for the local paper since our community is still a microcosm of the United States.

The barriers that existed in the 60’s and 70’s are still here – we are just told not to discuss them. Suppressing your fears doesn’t mean they are no longer there. It just means you are in denial.

Back up for a second, and look at the wedges purposefully driven into this country by political strategists who need our country to feud with one another so we won’t ban together. Muncie Voice writes about this all the time. Those running this country want division – they need division. They need us looking at each other, so we won’t look at them. They need a right and left, black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative. These are all ideologies which separate us.

We are not separate.

If we all step back from this and look at this as an opportunity to come together and do something great for ourselves and the future of our kids. We need to consider this as a positive project and not something forced upon us by a libertarian property tax cap.

This is the time for Middletown USA to shine and lead by example, not dig in our heels, and say, “Not my kids, they’re not going to that school.”

Here’s a realism, in less than 15 minutes you can travel from one border to the next. We are a small community and getting smaller.

Combining schools is an incredible opportunity, not as a defeat where one side has overcome the other as if there are victims in this. We ARE all victims of a declining economy, the largest wealth transfer in the US history has just taken place, and we are all the 98%. Imagine the students under one roof getting resources they need to so MCS can complete their mission. Teachers cannot do their jobs when money is so scarce, they have to buy class materials.

Nobody likes change, but change is inevitable. During the past two decades and with the advent of the information age, change is happening rapidly. You might as well embrace it, because it’s not going to slow down for us in Middletown, USA. There is a Buddhist principle which states, “All things in life are impermanent and it’s our resistance to change that causes us to suffer”.

The next MCS public meeting is August 27th at Northside Middle School starting at 6:30pm. It’s been rumored that Ball State is interested in purchasing the property containing the middle school and MCS administration buildings along Oakwood.

In the meantime, we are seeking more information from MCS about their existing proposals. If you’d like to contact MCS or ask them question about the public meetings, their email is: mcstownhallfeedback@muncie.k12.in.us

If you’d like to check the existing articles about the first round of the Muncie Community School public meetings, here are their links:

Rick Yencer from the Muncie Free Press http://www.munciefreepress.com/node/29396

Greg Fallon with the Muncie StarPress: http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20130816/OPINION/308160018/FALLON-MCS-Town-Hall-Emotions-strong-ideas-lacking

Keith Roysdon at the Muncie StarPress: http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20130816/NEWS01/308160012/Board-begins-special-schools-election-process

Larry Riley: http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20130818/OPINION/308180032?fb_comment_id=fbc_429330113851045_2334053_429590910491632


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Journalist, entrepreneur, publisher, DSA member, and ethical leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy cycling, yoga, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter. Wellness advocate who practices servant style leadership.

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