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Thompson: "Transformation" Won't Save Centennial High

SeeworthPolicy people are often taken aback when I say that I have lost more than 40 students to being murdered or killing someone over the course of a long career in the classroom. Mongo Allen, principal of Oklahoma City's largest alternative school, Seeworth Academy, has produced a documentary about 300 students who are dead or in prison. Seeworth is only two miles from my old school, Centennial, and so I knew that his toll would include many of my kids.  Centennial is the lowest performing school in the state, with an NCLB ranking that is even lower than Seeworth's.  Our outcomes are largely determined by Seeworth's capacity.  Allen's documentary deals with the murder and funeral of one of my kids. Another former student was arrested at Seeworth this week, allegedly for a drive-by. After it is full in October, our neighborhood school loses its ability to create a safe and orderly environment.  Centennial is not perfect, but when the alternative school capacity was cut by 20% during an economic downturn, our fate was sealed.  Now, we will receive an $11 million SIG grant and become a transformation school, but it would have been better to have invested in high-quality alternative schools and to have avoided our complete collapse.  JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.


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How would you reform our schools?

This week, President Obama urged Congress for reform of No Child Left Behind, but the question remains—how should we do it?


We should go alll-out for the RttT for pre-school. Our school serves a neighborhood with low levels of social capital and trust. We need community schools. We need to get educators, health care and social workers out of their separate silos, and bring the full range of the community into the school, and bring the students out into the full diversity of our community. We don't even get to take them to the Murah Building, much less art and science museums, the zoo etc. We need Roll Royce quality alternative schools. Centenniel sits on the cite of the ultimate outdoor classroom built when it was an elite private school. If it was good enough for rich kids ...
Centennial also is almost exactly where the South meets the West, and could become an equally great outdoor classroom. Set up a windmill to generate elctricity and profits to fund a program for Green Education and Green jobs.

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