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The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Timberlane parents' protest proposed class grouping changes

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane parents' postcards protest proposed class grouping changes
By Margo Sullivan

PLAISTOW — Parents of Timberlane Regional High students have started a postcard campaign to let School Board members know what they think of a plan to mix students of differing abilities in freshman physical sciences classes.

The idea of dropping accelerated classes and grouping students randomly sparked controversy last month after parent Peter Bealo drew attention to a goal in the school district's proposed strategic plan that suggested the district intended to end "tracking," the practice of grouping students in classes according to ability.

More than 200 parents commented. Most said they are opposed to the change and want to keep the accelerated classes.

In an e-mail earlier this week, Bealo said the woman who started the postcard campaign wishes to remain anonymous. But other parents, who have helped distribute the postcards, went on the record to explain why they feel the campaign is an effective way for parents' voices to be heard.

"It will be seen as parents getting involved, hopefully," said Nancy Steenson, a Danville mother. "If we have opinions, we should at least be listened to."

The postcard bears a headline, "Parents for Responsible Education." The card also reads, "As concerned parents and/or taxpayers of the Timberlane Regional School District, we are sending this to voice our adamant objection to heterogeneously grouped classes in the academic core classes at Timberlane Regional High School. We believe that all students should be rewarded for their hard work and achievement and be given the opportunity to work with their peers at the same level. We are in support of homogenous class for all academic core subjects."

The card has a line for the mailer's name, address and signature and space for additional comments.

Steenson became involved out of concern the brightest students have no one to advocate for them. She said she also worries school administrators are making changes without School Board approval and while parents are in the dark.

The School Board is expected to discuss the physical science course and the strategic plan at its meeting tonight at 7:30.

Steenson said parents also should consider sending e-mails to School Board members and attending School Board meetings.

Sheila Allen, also a Danville parent, said she will attend the meeting and has obtained permission from the School Board to speak. Allen wants to know if school officials failed to follow a policy when they decided to mix ninth-grade science students randomly, without a School Board vote.

If there was no policy on the books to be followed, Allen said, she thinks there should be one in the future.

Allen said she heard about the postcard campaign Sunday. She received her stack of cards on Monday and was ready to mail one out Tuesday.

"It's moving pretty fast," she said.

Principal Donald Woodworth said he has not seen the postcards.

"I understand this is kind of a lightning rod issue, and parents are trying to make sure their voices are heard," he said.

At a meeting with parents last week, he said the decision to mix students in a freshman year physical science class was developed from comments made last spring by the visiting committee of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

The visiting committee said the tracking did not "provide high expectations for all students" and did not reflect current education research and best practices.

1 comment:

Fishgutz said...

"Current research and best practices?"
Given that such committees only review "research" by egalitarian liberal pseudo intellectuals, it is not wonder they propose an egalitarian "bright children left behind" approach.
If the goal is really to raise expectations, then dump all the basic classes. The current average classes become the lowest level of expectation. No more special ed classes either. After all, we should never presuppose that an "inclusion" students with down syndrome can't do algebra and calculus. And everyone knows the bright kids can learn on their own and use their time in school assisting teachers.
Better yet put the honors students with the special ed kids.
Of course none of this makes sense. Tracking works. Tracking does not pigeon hole anyone.
If one is concerned about challenging students the bar can be raised. But the school boards has to be willing to sacrifice individual student GPAs while students work to meet the higher standard.
Rather than leveling, they should be working harder to encourage more students into AP classes in every grade.
Just flattening the classes hurts all students. And only someone blinded by ideology could believe otherwise. And if Chairman Baldwin believes that then he should voluntarily level his pay with the other Atkinson Police officers. Because paying officers more at higher grades has not been proven to motivate patrolman to work toward a promotion.