When you walk into West Allis Lincoln Intermediate School, you will see a wonderful blue and gold paint job in the lobby, many updated student lockers, and creative displays celebrating the student’s activities. There are many posters on the wall that encourage kids to be “all they can be” and to “reach for success”. There is a sense of pride in the building that seems to come from the display of these items, and the efforts put forth to convert Lincoln from a K-6 school to a 6-7-8 school. The image is one of a school that is full of kids that are friends and that there is a mutual respect across all grade levels and peer groups. At the end of the day, the announcements proclaim “Lincoln Lions R-O-A-R!” Sounds like utopia.
But, there are children at Lincoln who have been “held back”. Not because they are poor students academically or have not met the requirements to advance to the next grade level, but because they are afraid to be successful and make the effort to do so. They are afraid of being the kids who try to get good grades, or who want to answer a question, or want to help a fellow student, or want to assist a teacher, or want to stand up for what is right, only to be ridiculed for that effort. The environment has converted kids who as 5th, 6th and 7th graders were successful students, who did their homework, who respected the school environment, to students who now have given up! Why try when the majority of the school student body could care less?
Should I just give up?
This is a difficult problem, no doubt. It is difficult to confront and address when the majority of the student body has the same negative, socially destructive attitude. This cannot be addressed in an environment where students seem to have the freedom to bully other kids, to move through the school and basically tear-down peer groups until they are morally defeated, just to move to the next targets and start all over. Why are the “good” kids getting slammed? They are the ones who end up wanting to stay home or say they are “sick” because they don’t want to stay at school or go to that class where they are slammed by other kids day after day. They should just as well wear a target painted on their back!
Or…in the end….they just give up!
Something is wrong when a school cannot send homework home because the teachers fear that they will have to fail most of the class due to non-compliance. Are these kids prepared for high school? What happens when kids are asked to do homework in high school?
They will give up!
I have met with teachers at Lincoln and they don’t want to fail, they don’t want to see a cancer take over the school. I have seen the frustration and sadness in their eyes when they are told that “…our kids can’t wait to get out of your school…” because of the poisonous environment that is brewing. I know that schools will always have a diverse population of all types of kids. I am not looking for my children to be straight “A” students or to be sheltered from the real challenges that exist in life. Growing up is hard, and full of peaks and valleys. But, they have the right to a good, solid, meaningful education in a safe and purposeful environment with high standards that mean something.
Please don’t allow kids to give up!
I wonder if the district committees that took away Lincoln Elementary and forced all these families to relocate understand the current frustrations that are soon to come! Younger siblings that left Lincoln, now looking forward to returning (after two or three years at an unfamiliar school), will be told that they will not return to Lincoln. As of today, we will not send our two youngest there after what our two oldest children have experienced.
We are close to giving up.
I hope that the school administration who pushed this shift on the people of West Allis will take a serious look at this school. It is failing…and my fear is that soon teachers will give up, for the same reasons that kids give up….what’s the point of trying. Give the staff the support they need. Teachers need to be tough and have high expectations. The school needs to be safe both structurally and socially. It is time to get tough on the problems at Lincoln, for the good of all children, for the teachers who go that extra mile, and for the future of the WA-WM School District.
Please do not give up!
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