Chariho School Parents’ Forum

May 28, 2007

questions answered

Filed under: RYSE paperwork — Editor @ 7:32 pm

Here are some questions that were posted from commenters.  Supt. Ricci answered and I’ve put in what I know in bold.

What is the assistant superintendent’s role/job description?

The Assistant Superintendent is mainly responsible for curriculum, professional development, and grant development.  Additional responsibilities include home instruction, 504 plans, summer school, etc.

Why do we not empower the teachers to decide on the curriculum?

Teachers are part of every curriculum decision.  They are invited to assist in the writing of curriculum and in the selection of materials.

The teaching of math has clearly changed over the years.  Those of us old enough to remember how the old math was taught (repetitive and rote) do not understand the, to us, cart before the horse abstract ways of today’s math. 

As Supt. Ricci said, the decision to use this new math was made by the Asst. Supt. and teachers.  They must feel this new way is most effective. 

I do know of some teachers in another district (I think they use everyday math) and they just ignore the guidelines and teach math the old way.   This is good an bad.  It, at least according to the teacher, is better for the students, but when we look at the school and see good performance, we credit the “everyday math” curriculum, when it really is the “old math.”  What we need are speak out if they really thought the new math was insufficient. 

Where are we with the Math curriculum?

Phil has conducted two days of “reviews” of curriculum options.  He has one additional day scheduled.  He is also reviewing our written curriculum to be sure that it aligns with high-performing states.

What involvement did the teachers have in TERC’s inception?

Ricci can’t speak to this as it occurred before his arrival in Chariho.  Mine too, unfortunately.

What kind of grants have we gotten in the last 3 years?  Listed by year.

I’m still putting this together

What were the amounts of these grants?  

same

How much did we have to contribute to receive these grants?

Usually, there is no contribution.  Sometimes, an in-kind or small monetary contribution is necessary.  Each grant that the school committee approves includes a budget.

The difficult question is what is the residual costs.  Like the solar panels, it has maintenance, but it is minimal.  But the light bulbs for overhead projectors (which may or may not have been started with a grant) are $500.

Have any of the grants been for the elementary schools?

I (Ricci) don’t recall any recent grants for elementary schools.

What can be done to make the line items reflect the cost of each school?   (ie…Vo-Tech, HS, MS, RYSE, and the individual elementary schools)

Brian would be better able to answer this.  The account numbers in your budget are coded by school; we have to follow a state accounting system.  The state is in the process of developing a new chart of accounts which will further detail expenditures.

What additional roofing needs to be done to the 1967 building?

Repairs on the 1967 roof have been completed.  Last week, the flashing was repaired.
What’s going on with the 1904 building?

Negotiations with the town council, not public information yet.

Can the curriculum for sex-ed be published for parents to see?

All of our curricula are on our web site.  Sex education is part of the health curriculum.

Tomorrow night I will post the RYSE performance measures, the proposal and 2006 revenues and expenditures sheet.

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7 Comments »

  1. I don’t believe Mr. Thornton was the asst. superintendent when we went with TERC. I believe it was Mr. Ricci. Correct me if I’m wrong. And if I am wrong, who was, or was there, an assistant superintendent before Mr. Ricci.

    Also, I’ve been told that the curriculum director is a state mandate. Is this true?

    I know that the teachers have a hard time speaking out because that would put a bad light on the district. And this is frowned upon. If there isn’t, there should be some protection to allow the teachers to dispute something without being retaliated against.

    I am an advocate for teacher empowerment, and I believe with any new proposed curriculum that a small test run should be performed by the teachers who will be using the curriculum, especially before any major expense is thrown its way. They should then meet, discuss their likes and dislikes, test it again, and meet again. They have to teach it; they should have to like it. Also, what research was done before TERC’s inception. My point is, in any business, when you empower your employees, you create greater work satisfaction, and if the research isn’t out there, which I believe it was in this case, you have to rely on the teachers for their insight, all of them. I just can’t believe that this was ever done. But, that is just my opinion.

    Any answer on the grant question yet?

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 29, 2007 @ 6:53 am | Reply

  2. TERC was tried in California in the 1990’s. After math test scores plummeted, it is my understanding that California got rid of TERC and went back to more traditional teaching of math. The entire state of California was a test case on the dangers of TERC. Apparently, that was not enough research for our esteemed Chariho administration. While Mr. Ricci may, or may not, have been involved in the original decision, he certainly is involved now and TERC needs to be gone.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 29, 2007 @ 8:27 am | Reply

  3. If I read the format correctly, Mr. Ricci says that another school district has teacher’s choosing to use or not use TERC and it is difficult to determine results because of this. According to my research, many parents pay for tutoring or do it themselves when their children are not taught math and are only taught math concepts (TERC). This too skews test results when TERC schools have some students testing well because they have been tutored.

    Maybe Mr. Ricci can ask TERC taught students who test well if they are learning math outside the school? If he can’t believe the state of California, or the plethora of other sources that document the failure of TERC, maybe he’ll believe the children from our schools?

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 29, 2007 @ 8:34 am | Reply

  4. I took a quick look at curriculum. One area of concern for me is the language does not necessarily convey what is being taught. For instance, in the Family and Consumer Sciences curriculum I found the following:

    “Show an appreciation for diverse perspectives, needs, and characteristics of individuals and families”

    What does this mean in practice? Are my children being taught that all family configurations are equally desirable and good? Or does the curriculum explain that many family configurations put children at much greater risk and while individuals shouldn’t be treated differently, there is proven family configuration (Dad and Mom) that consistently delivers the best outcomes for children. Sometimes dysfunctional families can’t be avoided, but if schools can’t be honest about what works best (facts), they should stay out of these issues all together.

    I would need to see specific worksheets and text to know if the curriculum is teaching values, or the truth for that matter? Is the curriculum fact-based or a distortion of reality? Is there any links to the actual information being taught to our children? Perhaps each teacher can scan or attach their classroom document so parents can see exactly what is being given to our children?

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 29, 2007 @ 8:58 am | Reply

  5. I could spend all day on the Health curriculum. Here’s one example of the problems I have with schools teaching our children topics that are heavily values based:

    “importance of respecting the personal choices of all individuals”

    In my family, we don’t respect all personal choices. We consider some choices to be good and some to be bad. This is based on OUR values…not the values of teacher’s or school administrations.

    Another topic that is discussed in schools is “gender roles”. Some people believe that gender roles are environmentally determined. Other believe that gender roles are most strongly related to biology. What is the school teaching? Are they right? Whose responsibility is it to decide what our children should be taught.

    Again, the curriculum provides a general statement, but does not give parents specific information on what is to be taught. Personally, I think schools should get the heck out of the business of teaching many of these subjects. Schools are not parents and should not try to be parents. If a parent wants to turn their job over to the schools, go ahead, but our children should not be forced fed other people’s values.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 29, 2007 @ 9:37 am | Reply

  6. Just to clear up any confusion, my (Bill Felkner) comments are in bold. The statement regarding teachers not using the curriculum was my comment, not Supt. Ricci’s.

    RE: “Show an appreciation for diverse perspectives, needs, and characteristics of individuals and families”

    To the question, “what is a family.” Having just spent 6 years in college (4 BA, 2 MA) I can tell you that in more than one class, “what is a family” is an issue on the agenda. Redefining family as ‘any group of individuals sharing common resources’ is the prevailing view.

    Reading the worksheets is helpful on an individual basis but the real solution to knowing what is being taught comes from increased parent involvement everywhere. When a parent hears from their child that XYZ is being taught, that parent not only needs to speak with the principal and/or teacher, but they also need to talk to other parents. When you see other parents at the park, library, church, etc… it is our duty to spread the word. “Did you know that ….” This networking of parents is, in my opinion, the key to change. Bureaucracies can ignore individuals (i.e. Elaine Morgan) but can’t ignore a town. Just as councilperson Capalbo said (and begrudgingly I paraphrase H. Clinton) “it takes a village.”

    And finally, as an overall comment on ‘who is teaching our kids.’ Again, strong parental involvement can answer and guide many of these concerns, but the accrediting body for teacher education should also be looked at. We have had a recent victory in that regard.

    There is no secret to the fact that academia is overwhelmingly run by ‘left of center’ individuals. Survey’s have shown an average of 30:1 (liberal : conservative) in the social sciences and even 4:1 in economics. Brown was surveyed and falls in that 30:1 range.

    The National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE) used to require that teachers show a “disposition for social justice.” For those of us in the political and policy realm, “social justice” equates to ‘redistribution of wealth,’ and an overall “progressive” view of equity.

    Several groups pointed out the problems associated with teaching ‘what to think’ rather than ‘how to think’ and NCATE recently removed that line from their accreditation standards. (in the efforts of full disclosure, I am a member of one of those organizations – http://www.nas.org/print/pressreleases/hqnas/releas_05Jun06.htm).

    That being said, I still believe that teachers leave college with a preset ideology, being promoted by professors under the banner of ‘academic freedom.’

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 29, 2007 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

  7. I am with you on the need for parents to be aware of what their children are being taught. I’ve monitored this for as long as my children have been in school and spend a good amount of time dispelling the lies and propaganda directed at my children. Unfortunately, I don’t see the same kind of attentiveness from most parents. While they may express outrage when subjects are discussed, outrage doesn’t seem to translate to action from most of them. Thus, the problems remains.

    Worse yet, I can inform my children, but they are still left with a society where more and more children are reaching adulthood with illogical perceptions and misguided notions. I sometimes wonder how my children will function in an environment where logical thought and cause and effect are cast aside in favor of emotional rhetoric and failed policies.

    Mr. Felkner’s statement about economic professors is a perfect example. Economics should be fact based, and human history is replete with the failures of centralized government planning, yet 3 out of 4 college economic professors are teaching are children that the government can effectively control the economy with positive outcomes. This is balderdash!

    Social sciences are inexact and, in my opinion, more like voodoo than real science anyway, so if leftist professors run these departments, we can probably survive it, but when the fact based academic disciplines become bastions of leftist propaganda, are society could perish on the altar of elitism. This reality is truly discouraging.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 29, 2007 @ 2:09 pm | Reply


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