Friday, May 28, 2010

Saving Ebersole

Ebersole is a nature preserve owned by Lansing (Michigan) School District. All four of my kids (and my husband and I, as chaperones) enjoyed camping there and communing with nature in extended outdoor science lessons led by smart teachers.
It's a great resource -- a reason to remain in a school district that sometimes feels too big to care about our kids, and a perk from living in Lansing that families in other districts envy. (At most of my author events I show my sketchbook from Ebersole. It's also on my website. Some people are in awe)

And now the Lansing School Board is planning to sell Ebersole.
It's not far from Lake Michigan. This prime, beautiful land will probably become condos.
A petition has been started
with the goals of raising awareness and saving Ebersole. I signed it and commented.

Here's my comment:
"The Lansing schools and I are playing a game of chicken. They're cutting programs and resources I consider important, and I'm defiantly standing my ground, refusing to move my last kid out of Gardner into a nice school in the suburbs (where many of our good friends flocked over the years).

"I watch Lansing Schools decimate their best programs and pink slip wonderful teachers (how could they let Darren Webb go? He would have brought more kids INTO Lansing schools!) and I wonder who will keep their kids in Lansing -- and what will be left for those who stay.

"As a parent whose 4 children adored Ebersole, as a chaperone and resident artist for a couple Ebersole camping trips, and as an author who featured Ebersole lessons in my Ellie McDoodle books so that kids outside of Lansing could benefit from nature contact, I ask that the School Board reconsider: Don't sell this resource which benefits our children so greatly.

"If Lansing Schools must cut something, cut the buses that pick up students less than a mile* from the middle school; there are too many mostly-empty buses and too many kids riding instead of walking.
Or -- better -- brainstorm with us on ways to save or raise money. The school board hasn't even tapped its largest resource, caring families. Bake sales, garage sales, book sales, car washes -- surely we can raise a lot of money if we work together.

"Don't cut Ebersole, one of our brilliant gems that opens minds and connects our children with science and nature. Read Last Child in the Woods, about nature deficit disorder -- and be glad our kids don't suffer from that because they have Ebersole... for now."
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*Some will argue that only kids further away than one mile are picked up. This is technically true. But if Gardner unlocked the northwest gate and cut down the blocking poles at the southwest end, students wouldn't be forced to walk around to the front of the school. This would cut a half mile off my kid's route.
And -- here's a radical thought: What if we encouraged kids to ride bikes to school?

The petition is here. If you're a Lansing Schools parent, teacher, student, former student or former parent, please pass the word, and please sign the petition. Maybe this is one bad decision that we can prevent.

1 comment:

Susanne Drazic said...

Ruth, I'm a Michigander and sad to say I had not heard of Ebersole before today. I'm not familiar with the Lansing area. I checked out part of your sketchbook and will go back to look at more of it.

I really hope you and other Lansing parents are able to save Ebersole. It would be a shame to see it turned into condos.

What better exercise for kids within the walking distance of the school, than to actually walk or ride bikes. I wish my son had been within walking distance of any of the schools he attended. They want kids to find ways to be more active? Walking or riding bikes to and from school is a great way to get active!

Are you or someone else posting about this on Facebook or Twitter?