His school is slated for closure, though there is no timetable for its final day of classes. The state Board of Education says Anniston Middle is one of the state’s “failing” schools and its students will be eligible to transfer to other schools through the Alabama Accountability Act passed earlier this year.
And this week, classes began.
Hawkins and the school’s faculty are tasked with what seems an insurmountable job: piloting young students through an academic year in which their school, both academically and financially, is considered Ground Zero in the reformation of public education in Anniston.
We wish them well.
We also are heartened — mightily — by what took place Monday on the school year’s first day. Hawkins and the AMS teachers made no attempt to pretend reality didn’t exist. The “failing” school label given to it this summer was front and center as students were welcomed and parents were reassured.
Now is a time of openness and optimism, not funereal thoughts, at AMS. “We are going to do everything possible regardless of the label or stigma that has been put on the middle school to be successful,” Hawkins said last week.
It is the paradox of life at Anniston Middle. Its location has been unpopular with large segments of the city since it opened in 1987. Its student population has dropped precipitously. Its test scores aren’t acceptable. The real estate it sits on is extremely valuable due to its location to a redeveloped McClellan. A school system with too many campuses for too few students has no choice but to make the wise decision.
Anniston Middle School must close.
Nevertheless, Hawkins and his teachers need and deserve Annistonians support. Their jobs are difficult, their responsibilities great. The children studying this year at Anniston Middle need to know that while the city is making difficult decisions about their school, their education and their futures remain important to all of us.