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  1. JB says

    This was a thorough overview of the Adirondack school situation. I think that both Bauer and Gillilland make good points: declining enrollment is not a problem limited to the Adirondacks, and yet there are unique economic dynamics at play within the Park. I think that the Northern Forest Center, on the other hand, has based their reports and recommendations for Park communities on faulty premises. Rather than ameliorating the types of problems that we are seeing, enhanced recruitment by Adirondack communities will ultimately exacerbate them–we are already seeing testament to this now, in the wake of the pandemic. In the complicated NYS school system, the deck has been stacked against small public schools for more than a century, and Adirondack schools have been consolidating since long before the APA Act–that is the devil that we must live with. Maybe some unconsolidated districts can win that battle, but more often it will scorch the earth. For those Adirondack communities that absolutely must heed the advice of the aforementioned thinktank in order to stave off consolidation–i.e., artificial recruitment campaigns and significant growth of the tourism economy–the ends will inevitably fail to justify the means. If the ultimate goal is self-preservation and self-determination, then the warning must be that such communities will soon find themselves difficult to recognize and serving the more powerful master of a new economy; if the ultimate goal is social equity, then we must realize that the normal citizen will quickly find themselves priced out by Aspenization. Elsewhere in the Northeast–outside of the Adirondack Park and away from New York State–the philosophy behind that approach may hold more water (although the actual results seem questionable at best). In the overdetermination of contradictions that is the Adirondack Park, however, we cannot expect to solve the same old problems with the same old tricks, as some are suggesting. Indian Lake CSD and Webb UFSD, at least, look to be learning quite a few new tricks. To me, they are making a compelling argument for self-determination and mutual aid versus the larger trends toward hierarchical bureaucracy and economic determinism. Maybe the world is what we make of it after all.

  2. rickyray says

    Well, when there are supposed “issues”, such as too many people wanting to use the Park, and the “solution” is to make it more difficult to do just that, it’s really no wonder we have this problem.
    “Bauer said it’s unfair to blame the state agencies charged with regulating the Park or the environmental groups that seek to protect it for the region’s population drain,”….I am not so sure about that. ““Our school population is going to continue to get smaller and smaller,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of the non-profit organization Protect the Adirondacks. “That’s just the reality.” Hmmmmm, it seems to me that there is someone who won’t move on any stance and is resolved to certain “facts” of his own. Maybe it’s time for someone who has a brighter view for our future to watch over all this?
    We have had this broadband issue since, well,…. broadband. When will someone actually follow through with their promise of finally getting something done. That issue hurts EVERYONE, not just the school population growth.

    Unfortunately one our best thinkers on these situations passed a few weeks ago. I think if we can look at what he has tried to do, we would all be served better no matter what side you stand on. We can use the great resource we have here, not destroy what it means to us while doing so, and perhaps make the ADKs grow once again. Just my humble opinion.

  3. Lee Nellis says

    The total number of children under 18 in the US is shrinking right now. 97% of the growth in the number of families has been in families without children (at least of their own, that’s how its counted). So, isn’t the question about the schools in most rural places, not one of how to attract more students from a shrinking pool, but one of how to sustain the important community/social/economic functions that schools serve as the population ages?

    That is not an easy question, but as JB suggests, the schools in rural America are quite adaptable. Maybe we need to re-imagine their role even more? Even if you believe that conventional economic development makes sense in principle, could the resources it would require to have any hope of success be better used in local capacity-building?

  4. Victor Gold says

    I’m surprised that Newcomb wasn’t mentioned. It has (or perhaps had) a program for recruiting students, even from overseas.

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