You Tell Us: Why Santa Fe Elementary School should not be closed
on October 10, 2011
My name is Peter von Ehrenkrook and I am currently a 5th grade teacher at Santa Fe Elementary.
I have to acknowledge that I am not worried about the Santa Fe teachers or staff. We will all have jobs in the fall, though some of us may be placed at less than desirable sites due to our public dissent.
In addition, I am not worried about our top performing students. They will be quickly assimilated into the local private and charter schools. Even Anna Yates in the Emeryville school district will turn a blind eye to home address issues if the child is a high performer.
My concern is for those children who are rejected by the local charters and private schools. Either their parents don’t have the savvy to get them in, or once they fail there, the charters and private schools send them back to us. This is often due to issues with low academic performance, erratic attendance, or behavioral problems. We always welcome them back and do the best we can to support them academically and emotionally.
We also do our best with children like the 13-year-old who came to me recently from a local private school knowing only 5 letters. They had passed him on year after year with A’s and B’s. Or the English Language Learner who was dropped into my class last year the day before the CST. His family kept him out of another local school for over a month in protest over his being bullied, and only re-enrolled him when we opened our doors to him. This is what a real Full Service Community School does.
Nothing I have seen or heard from OUSD eases my deep concern about the future safety and welfare of our children in transition – those who are homeless, live with a grandma, or live with a relative who works nights.
These are real children I teach every day. They wander in around 10 a.m., since they have to get themselves up and walk from the areas near the old Longfellow or old Golden Gate sites. If you ask them to travel to Sankofa, or even worse to Piedmont Avenue, they may just decide it’s not worth the effort. They need a local public school they can walk to safely, and from which they can walk home safely at 6 p.m. after taking part in an after school enrichment program.
Until you can assure me our at risk students will be safe and their needs will be met, I will continue to rally public support against this closure.
Peter von Ehrenkrook is a 5th grade teacher at Santa Fe Elementary School in North Oakland. He has been a public school teacher in Oakland for ten years. He read this letter aloud at the School Closure Community Engagement Meeting at Santa Fe on October 6.
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