Normandy High and Riverview Gardens: Close Them Both, Save the Children



Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis city. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His project The Hero Killer was released on January 21 and will be followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For the Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get The Hero Killer here.

I hated high school. Every time I reflect back upon my high school career I think about the time I was listening to the radical rap group Dead Prez in my headphones and simultaneously praying that somehow, someway, my bus would flip over before we arrived to school. I probably said this prayer a few times a week. The bus never flipped over.

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We never experienced anything even remotely close to this happening, actually. Just a fairly boring and sometimes annoying bus ride, every morning. When I arrived to school I pretty much felt like everyone in every single class on my schedule was a moron. Like I said: I absolutely hated high school. With a passion.

For some reason I convinced myself that if the bus actually did flip over, everyone else on it would either die or suffer from injury while I walked away with the protective glow of a Greek God. This summarizes my high school experience, for the most part. We lived in the Riverview Gardens School District, which we relocated to from the Normandy School District. At this current point in time the state of Missouri has taken the accreditation from both of these districts. The state of Missouri claims it is completely legal for parents of any student attending one of these schools to enroll their child into a school that has not lost accreditation.

As always in our wonderful city, the racial and economic divide between people of different communities has sparked controversy, and at the root of the problem the children will suffer more than anyone. I think responsible parents have always wanted more for their children than both of these school districts are prepared to offer. I'm not saying you're an irresponsible parent if your children attend either of these schools. I'm simply saying that critics of both school districts have long existed, and the lack of resources among both is not a brand new problem.

I attended school in the Riverview district for a few years and then my parents sent us to private school. I eventually graduated from North County Tech, which is basically a trade school. My life at Tech wasn't all peaches and cream, but it was a good medium between my life at Rosary Catholic High School and Riverview Gardens. I didn't realize the sacrifice my parents were making at the time. We didn't necessarily have the most money, even though we weren't dirt poor. As a child I simply didn't appreciate the value attached to the struggle my parents endured in the name of making sure myself and my siblings received the best possible education.

The public school system didn't do me any good because on some level I was too smart for my peers. I initially had remarkable grades, but as I grew older being the smartest kid in the class birthed its own demons. I was thrown into private school as a means to be surrounded by children that were on my level. I enjoyed my private school days more so than my public school days, but I never really made any friends. I was closed off and didn't know how to socialize with my peers. It didn't help that there were hardly any black kids in any of my classes, and occasionally someone would say a jacked-up racist remark.

For the most part I never really spoke much at school, which was like torture to me because I'm an extremely talkative person by nature. I tend to be very quiet in situations that aren't the most comfortable. I was the most comfortable at Normandy; I had friends and people that I was in the process of growing up with. I knew each of them from the previous school year and so forth. I actually saw one of my old Normandy classmates at a wedding last weekend and it felt like a family reunion of some sort. This is weird because I left the district after my fourth grade year of schooling. But each and every time I saw one of my old classmates we would talk as if we never skipped a beat. This energy has continued among us till this very day because that's the type of cultural closeness our classroom structure developed within us.

But I was shell-shocked and completely petrified by the local gangs in the proximity of our school. I left the district in fifth grade and never felt comfortable in any form of a school environment afterwards. All the kids at Riverview Gardens were pretty much county pricks. All the kids at the private schools I went to were basically enormous anal probe installers. In any transfer situation it seems as if you never completely fit in.

Since losing its accreditation, the Normandy School District officials have decided to make this transfer process as painful as possible for both the parents and students seeking to leave the district. The district was allowed to select the school the children the flee will be bused to. They have decided to send these children to Francis Howell North. While the parents are free to select any neighboring district, this will be the only school that will have free transportation available to the students from Normandy. Riverview Gardens has selected the Mehlville District as their school of choice for free transportation available to students leaving that hell-hole.

For the remainder of this blog post I will do the Lord's work and slander the hell out of both of these school districts.

A few people stuck in the '60s are gung-ho against children from both of these neighborhoods coming to their schools for all the wrong reasons. These people are irrelevant and will get very little life in this blog. If you're one of these people, your opinions were thrown back into a time portal opened up by none other than Doc Brown and Marty Mcfly. You're encouraged to jump into this same time portal and land on a field of cotton.

Normandy and Riverview Gardens both have decided to stick a toilet plunger up the anus of the students by throwing them face-first into a volatile situation. The parents of these communities that actually care about their children's access to a fair honest education have been screwed. It's all about money at the end of the day, and most of these people ultimately don't care about the future of these children. There are more than a few good educators that do care, but most of the people responsible for the policies don't. Hence, everyone involved -- from the teachers that actually are willing to teach to the students that are actually willing to learn -- have all been abandoned by the people at the top of the food chain. The only things I learned at Riverview Gardens were gangbanging and teenage sex. Normandy is completely blind to the fact that some of these children have post-traumatic stress from being raised in some of the roughest neighborhoods Saint Louis county has to offer.

Everyone ignores the actual needs of the children in the name of the almighty dollar. You all deserve to burn in hell for this. A few uppity blacks all of a sudden want to pull the race card and make this a racial issue.The issue is really that these schools just suck and it's time for something to be done. I don't think shipping these children off like cargo to neighboring schools is necessarily the answer, but I also don't think it is fair to punish the parents of these children for attempting to better their situation. So Riverview Gardens will only help you bus your children to Mars and Normandy is only willing to provide them with transportation to Jupiter.

We are not operating from a realistic platform, and they have both decided to challenge you at all costs if you wish to leave the school district for greener pastures. Even if we cease and desist the act of allowing students to transfer out of the district, the fact still remains that these schools are performing below the satisfactory levels. So I guess the smart thing to do is continue sending your child to a educational graveyard? I don't understand the logic behind certain arguments against fighting for the betterment of the children's education. I mean, the basic logic is that naturally everyone wants to keep their job. But in this case isn't it your job to give these young people a fighting chance at being something more than a glorified call center employee or a lifelong White Castle's drive thru worker?

All of a sudden now everyone's butt-hurt about people attacking these school districts, but what about the actual futures of these children? If shipping these kids to Ireland means they have a chance -- as drastic as it sounds -- I say we give it to them.

Higher levels of education are not as properly promoted on a cultural level among poor people as they should be. No matter what color you are, if you're poor a proper education for your children isn't always the highest priority, because we've been taught to accept what we can get and keep striding. I strongly believe that in a situation like this, accepting what you can get should be a cardinal sin. I attended the Normandy town hall meeting for parents seeking to transfer their children out of Normandy and I honestly wanted to slap lightning out of some of these people for viewing the situation from such a jaded lens. Who gives a flying damn about the actual school district and their ability to keep functioning? This should solely be about the future of these children.

Your selfish ways have blinded you from the reality that we're breeding our kids to be nothing more than "sandwich artists." People have created conspiracy theories about this being an attack upon black schools, blah blah etc., but that is ridiculous. If anything, this is an attack upon the children.This is the only thing we need to be discussing at the current moment. If you've aided this attack upon our children in any form or fashion you deserve to die twice. We don't care about you and your car note. We don't care about you and your mortgage.

I say if these schools aren't getting the job done we should close them all down and start over from scratch. I do think there are negative side effects attached to sending these children to schools with people that aren't of their community, but truth be told this may be the first and only chance some of these children have in regards to escaping these communities. Let us not all of a sudden act like these two predominantly black schooling areas aren't flooded with issues that affect these children outside of the classroom. So I guess it's perfectly fine to not address these problems, let the children live in the most complicated circumstances possible, and get completely pissed off when someone says we'll fix it for you since you won't fix it.

Black people pulling the race card in regards to this subject need to realize that our black schooling officials are also the ones failing our children. The law was created to actually attempt to protect the children from being stuck in a school district that only cares about the greenbacks they receive for being open. The law responsible for giving these students the ability to transfer outside of the school district is not perfect, but then again are these two schools districts really in the position to point the finger at anything that is partially flawed, in regards to the education of these children? I mean seriously, re-read that last sentence to yourself and comprehend what I am actually saying.

I never stepped one foot in Normandy High, but Riverview Gardens was like going to school in a prison. I went there for summer school and it felt like I was in juvenile detention.The entire structure of the school itself felt like I was at a distasteful nightclub. People joke about Riverview Gardens High School being nicknamed the county version of Beaumont High School. No offense intended to Beaumont High School, but this says volumes about the poor quality of the schooling at RGHS. For some reason it is acceptable for Normandy and Riverview to both know they are failing our children yet we're wrong for asking for the doors to be closed on these non-accredited schools. Your children are basically going to school for nothing. If they graduate from one of these non-accredited schools, respectable colleges can likely judge them on that fact. In most cases, most of these educators think this is okay, because they honestly don't expect your children to go to college anyways.

These schools suck and they know it. Nothing is being done about it and they know it. This is all a non-stop money train and they know it. You more than likely will not become outraged enough to do something about it and they know it. At the Normandy town hall I saw an older gentlemen in a doo-rag and a pair of basketball shorts and a wife beater. I looked at him and a young child I presumed to be his daughter from the distance, and thanked God I wasn't born in this poor child's circumstances. The gentleman left the town hall meeting early and never returned. I suspect he didn't really care about the rights of his daughter.

I may be making a biased assumption, but it won't be the first or last time I do so. If the parents don't care about the future of their children, then the children also will not care about their future. If we train our children to care about their education from a cultural perspective then we will begin to see sudden shifts in the paradigm of us as a whole. I am not speaking solely to minorities in troubled neighborhoods but to poor people of all shape. To hell with both of these school districts until they actually start caring about our children. Parents already speak in secrecy about both of these schools being in the pits. It's only right that they are both hit with a bit of shock therapy and forced to get their acts together.

Even still, they don't care about you leaving the district because in their hearts they don't feel enough of you will do so. They will still continue to carry the very lackadaisical attitude that has failed us. They will still cater to a educational culture that is rooted in training your children to become a customer service worker as opposed to being the person that owns the building the customer service worker works in. We have completely accepted the notion that most of children will graduate from high school and join the workforce to live from check to check with zero remorse. Education is still not the order of the day in our community, and until something is done about that the situation will only get worse.

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