Source: Sherman Publications

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Bigotry driving SOC issue?

April 06, 2011

Dear Editor,

As a former teacher of 38 years, I've been following the current controversy about Schools of Choice (SOC) students in the Brandon district. Since SOC students bring more needed funds into our district and, by all valid reports, cause no more trouble than is usual in schools, I'm disturbed by the opposition to keeping these students— opposition which seems based on an aspect that no one is acknowledging exists.

That aspect is prejudice against "outsiders" on racial, ethnic and religious grounds. Superintendent McMahon has made it clear that Brandon's SOC students score as well on current tests as the "native to Brandon" students, except when they don't come to us until high school. Those older pupils are academically behind to start with due to the poor education elsewhere they are trying to escape when they transfer here. Yet those students are still able to learn more and to graduate, something they probably could not have achieved without coming to Brandon.

Therefore, since the extra money Brandon receives from having SOC students helps the district and since SOC students,according to the district, cause no more problems than the usual ones all teachers have with students, I'm left with one conclusion: Bigotry is, in many cases, what's driving this push to exclude SOC students. If so, that is shameful and unAmerican in the extreme.

Might I suggest that the opponents of SOC examine their consciences and see if what is driving them is fear of the "outsider" rather than what should be the concern of all Brandon residents, the success of all students of this school district, whether "native" or "outsider."

Carol Mannino Kachmar, resident of Brandon Township and taxpayer since 1992