Despite repeatedly being told that the public schools in Whitefish Bay, WI were excellent, we opted to send our daughter to a private school instead. During the year a half our child attended the school we met wonderful families, made great friendships and enjoyed working with some talented staff. There are many reasons why Cumberland was not a good fit for our family, however. Safety considerations, ineffective reading program, lack of easy access for people with disabilities and nonexistent school lunch options top our list.
The safety consideration for drop off and pick up procedures failed to meet expectations. Petitions and parent concerns were repeatedly ignored by administrators. Pick-up was an unsafe nightmare. Due to no procedure and limited street parking, parents often were forced to arrive 45 minutes before dismissal in winter months just to secure a spot. Other cars often parked illegally—blocking fire hydrants, homeowner’s driveways, crossing paths, etc. This forces children to climb over mounds of snow, walk in front of, behind and even in between cars. Teachers of the youngest children wait with students until their parents are spotted and the child says goodbye. It is quite difficult for teachers to keep track of all children and there have been a few cases where children have been temporarily “lost.”
Cumberland uses the Waterford Early Reading Program for its students and this is not an effective teaching tool. According the U.S. Department of Education’s website review of Waterford’s program, the program “was found to have potentially positive effects on alphabetics and no discernible effects on comprehension.” It only passed What Works Clearinghouse standards with reservations.
Under Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, all schools should be readily accessible to people with disabilities. Yet Cumberland has no wheelchair ramps in 2009. When necessary, the school has used a freight elevator at the rear of the school, but requires special coordination on the part of parents and administrators. The lack of access for children with disabilities sends a message of intolerance.
Unlike most public schools in the nation, Cumberland has no school lunch option. President Harry Truman signed the National School Lunch Act in 1946. While many consider this a luxury in our community, others across the country and even in our own state consider it a necessity. What about children who forget their lunches?
There appeared to be a complete unwillingness to change on the part of the administrators. The response, “This school was built in the 1940’s as a walking school” was used far too often. It is 2009. Next year it will be 2010. It will never be 1940 again.