Hundreds of Phoenix area parents began camping out in front of the Sunnyslope High School administrative offices, awaiting a 7AM opening. They've been there since 6PM Saturday night. Their goal? To score one of 30 slots available for their out of district children.
As the local reporters began threading through the crowd this morning, interviewing hopeful parents, the crowd was festive.
I find it sad. That long line of tents and sleeping bags speaks volumes about our public schools.
The allure of Sunnyslope High School? They simply teach. Ranked 1,300 of 13,000 schools nationally, the school has a modest physical footprint. Yet the relatively small campus turns out some 6,000 students annually who regularly score well on national achievement tests. 53 percent of Sunnyslope graduates have already earned college credits. The school teaches, in addition to the basics, to marketable career fields.....the arts, education, the sciences, animal husbandry, veterinary services, medical, carpentry and, yes, even auto and wood shop for those willing to surrender white collar for blue and pull in $100,000 a year.
In an era where many public schools offer history, geography, civics, math and languages as an option, at Sunnyslope they are mandatory.
So what do those long waiting lines over the weekend really say about the rest of the public school system? And though Arizona leads the nation in the number of charter schools it looks as if we need to build more...if only the teachers' unions would stop fighting them.
Sadly, Sunnyslope seems the "little education engine that could" in an America where the only answer to our 50 percent illiterate high school graduation rates, who seem prepared only for burger flipping or pursuing a college major specializing in the demonization of our white founding fathers.
Oh, and did I mention that Sunnyslope's demographics is largely minority?
Sad. Damned Sad.