Saturday, February 12, 2011
Well, at least the rats like the place
If I still were a student at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, I would be dreaming of climes far distant and repeating "It's always darkest just before dawn" with the same kind of urgency that propelled Dorothy to furiously click her rubied heels and incant "There's no place like home."
I've written much about my old alma mater in this space. And much of that writing has been about how the educational powers that be in Baton Rouge allowed the place to become a crumbling dump unfit for animals, much less a city's best and brightest teenagers.
Eventually, it came to pass that those school-board powers that be were forced to recognize that something had to be done -- that something drastic had to be done, because the campus was too far gone for going along to get along.
That meant razing the whole campus, save the historic main building, and starting over. And that meant finding a temporary home for Baton Rouge High for a couple of years.
THAT NEW HOME turned out to be the recently abandoned Lee High School, killed by the soft bigotry of low expectations and the inevitable consequence of low performance. The school board shuttered Lee before the state Department of Education could take it over.
To be succinct, the former Lee High is a dump -- as evidenced by these clippings from the BRMHS student newspaper, Campus Currents. In some respects, it's apparently a worse dump than the old joint. And it's fitting, on so many levels, that a school named for a man revered in the South for battling human rights and history to the Confederacy's last breath should be a big, mid-century modern slave cabin.
Complete with the rat droppings.
NO ONE EXPECTS that people charged with the education and welfare of a city's children should turn a school's temporary quarters into the Taj Mahal. One would expect, however, that any administrator who gave a rat's ass about children under his care would at least get rid of rats' feces before the Baton Rouge High move-in date.
One would expect that the gym would be bee-swarm free. That the football field wouldn't be infested with fire ants.
In most places in these United States, you'd expect that. Baton Rouge isn't one of those places.
Baton Rouge is one of those places where people -- more specifically, white people -- complain about how high their low taxes are, then happily pay thousands per year in "private-school taxes," which simultaneously allows them to destroy public education, not worry about having destroyed public education, and keep their kids away from the Mad Max moonscape they made of public education.
IN OTHER WORDS, no one cares whether anybody cleans up what the rats left behind.
And no one can say with any confidence that the brand-new Baton Rouge High -- awaiting the next crop of a city's best and brightest come fall 2012 -- won't, in due time, be just another neglected dump that teachers have to muck out before their students show up.