Risking Tiny African American Kids' Lives at North Miami Middle School

Listen up taxpayers! Miami-Dade School administrators have put our kids at risk. No, not of failing, but of their school toppling on their heads. We're talking little kids. Six year olds.

How else to explain the sudden closing of  North Miami Middle School and moving of kids from the North Dade Center for Modern Languages to temporary buildings. Parents last night emoted. Some kept their children home today. It's an outrage.

My kids -- now ages 9 and 12 -- have attended the Modern Language school for the last four years. The teachers are astoundingly great and made the transition this morning to temporary classrooms smooth. Principal Maria Castaigne has molded an amazing place that consistently scores among the best in the county in a troubled neighborhood with many underprivileged families.

So the state gave the school an extra week to get ready for FCATs. At a meeting last night, angry parents demanded to know why this was missed and signed a petition to ask for a greater delay of FCATs. Almost everyone there was black. It made me wonder whether race has something to do with this. Other top-scoring magnet schools, like Ada Merritt Elementary, that are more diverse certainly don't have these problems. 

The school board should hire an outside investigator to look into why this was missed for so long. The buildings that were suddenly closed down yesterday were built in 1957. A new school on the site is planned to open in 2012.

If the board wasn't looking at structural problems at this school -- how many other buildings are at risk?

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse