Thursday, August 5

Southeast High School, from a northeast Wichita perspective

By Reuben D. Eckels.

Don’t Settle!

She said, “You’re right, Lord. But even the dogs eat scraps that fall from their masters’ tables.”

This is part of story of a woman that goes to Jesus for his help in healing her child. At first Jesus seems to be a reluctant healer when he tells the woman he cannot heal her child because his restoration power is for those of his race and community. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” But after seeing her persistence he replied, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. “Don’t Settle!”

Wichita and specifically, Northeast Wichita, the school board is telling us to settle for the crumbs. The District 1 representative loves to remind the community how the USD 259 substantial an investment the new elementary schools are in the Northeast area of Wichita. Yet, with all the expenditures on the new elementary schools in the northeast area they will not add up to one new high school built in Southeast Wichita. With the new roads, sidewalks, housing units and businesses the investment from the city, and school board will total in the hundreds of millions of dollars in the new Northeast Magnet and the proposed new Southeast. The District 1 Representative and the school board are basically saying to the northeast community you should be satisfied with the inequitable investment. They want you to settle for the crumbs.

The explanations have become nauseous to the northeast community of how the state has cut their funding, as if we are too dumb and blind to see the damage of this Governor’s ill advised budget. We understand how he and other conservatives want to balance the budget off the backs of the poor. We also understand and see that the local school board is doing the same exact thing. All the cuts and the sacrifices that are being made are coming from the parents and taxpayers in the near northeast and poorer areas of town. While all the real investments are going to the riches areas. Just settle!

It is time the northeast community demand the representation we deserve. We are taxpayers and voters too. It was our vote that basically put the 2000-20003 and 2008 school bonds over the top. Almost a billion dollars have gone to contractors that do not live in the Northeast area of town. Thus, blacks have missed out on hundreds of job opportunities. Yet Mrs. Arnold the district rep and the school board give every excuse why black contractors cannot be hired, why Gordon Parks Academy cannot be renovated and why they cannot build or maintain high schools in the predominantly low income, brown and black areas. Just settle!

Understand, part of the reasoning for the school bonds were to make sure the northeast area of town had the same quality educational system as all the other areas of town. With the building of a new Southeast High school, the removal of Northeast Magnet from the northeast area and the building of the new Northeast Magnet High school there is no equal construction or educational opportunity for high school age children in the near northeast.

Instead they moved out the best high school in the city and replaced it with an alternative high school, slapped the name of one of the most prominent men in our state’s history on the side of the building (Chester Lewis) but on the front of the building it still says the name of the school is Mathewson. Just settle! Every, high school student in the near northeast side of town has to be bussed out of the area. Not one high school youth in the near northeast side of town has a community school they can walk to. The bond was to help eradicate the need for bussing it has not come close. Even the dogs eat crumbs that fall from the masters table. Just settle!

But the inequality does not stop there. Gordon Parks Academy is a shell to the new Christa McCuliff Academy. The investment in the two schools is as different as night and day. Instead of representative Arnold fighting for upgrades to the Gordon Parks Academy she provides excuses saying that it was not built with 2008 bond money. Gordon Parks was sold to the public as being an IB program. But if you look at the two buildings it is plain as the nose on your face which school this school board wants to be an IB school. The parking at GPA is inadequate, dangerous and an accident waiting to happen. GPA does not have an auditorium but CMA has an 800 seat auditorium. When you walk into the entrance and lobby of CMA building you will see flat screen technology which is provided to inform parents, students and staff of daily and upcoming events. Gordon Parks Academy does not have any of this type of technology. Of all the new schools built Gordon Parks Academy has the smallest and the only unprotected or non-enclosed recreational areas. Yet, to hear Representative Arnold tell it the parents of GPA should be proud of the underfunded school. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the masters table. Just settle!

But the inequality does not stop there! Just drive by right now and view the New Mueller School. The first thing you will see is that the signage in the entrance of the school area does not say Mueller it says Ueller on one side and M…eller on the other. For months now repairs have not been made to the sign. This is indicative of the lax with whom this school board pays to the schools and the taxpayers in the northeast area.

Understand the moving of the high schools is not just about education but it is economics. It is an investment of resources in the future of our city and state. This school board like school boards across America are divesting from the poorer areas and investing in the outskirts of town. They are investing on the backs of our vote and our tax dollars. The near Northeast area is investing in Bel Aire and the far Southeast area of town to the tune of over $200,000,000 dollars. Of that $200, 000,000 they may see 0.01 percent. Get ready to ship your kids and your dollars out to those areas where they will spend money at the new QTs, Burger Kings, and other gas stations. Get ready for new housing units to be built for the haves. Get ready to spend more money on fueling buses. Get ready for your high school child to get up early to make it on time to the bus and to get to the school. Get ready to settle for the crumbs all for your best interest. Right!

Jesus still speaks, you don’t have to settle. Speak up for the healing of your community. Demand that your voice be heard and you receive all this representative governance has to offer. Without a demand these politicians will not concede anything to you but will do the bidding of the contractors who stand to make millions off the deal. Stop being the puppet of the rich and come to school board meeting on Monday and make your voice heard. Say NO to the moving of Southeast and YES to using bond money to upgrade existing schools in the near Northeast side of town. Let us also demand from our state law makers a change in the law for the way the bond money can be spent. We should be able to use our money the way we want. We need to bring back programs that have been cut. The time is now to exercise your right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Don’t settle!