Monday, March 3, 2008

EDITORIAL: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'

According to a letter in the March 3rd Intelligencer Journal from Candace Roper and Alison Kibler, the School District of Lancaster Board is due to vote on March 18 to approve or deny a request to establish a Lancaster Science Academy at 240 Harrisburg Pike.

Roper and Kibler report attending a prior meeting and were "shocked by the lack of professionalism and lack of coherence in the LSA group's presentation. It became less and less clear as they spoke what the purpose of the school would be, what kind of students they want to recruit, whether there would be a majority of students form the city, how the admission lottery would work, whether their proposed curriculum is current or challenging, where their private funding comes from, whether the school would reflect the district's diversity and whether they are even familiar with the community."

This semester a youth entered the ninth grade at J. P. McCaskey after years at a local private school justifiably touted for academic rigor. Yet he found the faculty at McCaskey of very high competence and unstinting zeal. If some students are not obtaining an excellent education, it is a reflection of inner city factors.

In perhaps the highest challenge of team academic prowess, McCaskey's Mock Trial team recently won the County Championship. So much for sending youngsters elsewhere to get a supposed better education!

In short, there doesn't seem to be a problem in the academic program. So why the need for a special charter school for science?

There will always be much work to be done at McCaskey, including improvement of the training of its coaching staffs so youngsters can learn skills and all of McCaskey's teams can be competitive. But the public has work to do for all schools. We as a community can best serve our youngsters by communicating with and, where necessary, goading the school board and administration to improve areas that are under-performing.

We should always be receptive to learning from others. But let's have confidence in ourselves. As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."