Monthly Archives: April 2014

RSU 50 School Board – Representation for the students, parents and citizens?

 Mincing no words, and pulling no punches…  Many thanks to cent7,  for a most welcome return by the guest author who already holds the “Timbered Classrooms” record for “viral-ness”!   Read on, and you will see why…

531739_551744508190847_256818158_nWhen you go to a school board meeting, you get told you have three minutes to speak, sometimes you are told you cannot speak about certain issues.  What?  If you have a concern as a parent, student, or citizen and you clearly haven’t had it resolved at the lower administrative level, isn’t this where you should bring your concerns?  Why is it when someone has a question, it is never answered.  I feel there is a real disconnect here.  There is also an agenda and no transparency.  Why not just say we want a new school.  How about listening to parents for a change.  We know our kids a lot better than you do, and we know what is best for them.

When we went into this RSU, we were promised it would save money, and there would be more educational opportunities for our kids.  Pause for laughter here.  That was a complete lie.  We are now spending more money and our kids education is in decline.  Do you care that we have a large number of kids in our district that our homeschooled or transferred to other schools.  Our kids constantly have subs for certain teachers who are out for training.  Training for what more fads in education that offer our kids up as guinea pigs.  Lets stick to the basics, use common sense, and look at kids as individuals and work to meet their needs.  Bring back shop, drafting,  welding, automotive, home ec, some different computer courses, etc.  Change the standards to include grades, grade home work, give due dates and clear expectations.  I am concerned that these kids, especially the freshman have no idea how they are doing in school.  Shouldn’t it concern you that kids are leaving Katahdin and SACS because they want more options in courses and extracurricular activities and a better education.  Not everyone has that choice, so step it up for the kids that are here.  So what if our schools are small.  There are plenty of small schools with far less enrollment than we have that do very well.

 Your budget problem is more of a spending issue.  Stop coming back to the towns and asking for more but giving our kids less.  Stop wasting our money on foolish programs that do not work.  IPads were a serious mistake.  They are a toy and are not functional for their work.  So glad the kids can play the apps though.                                                                                                                                                 We also do not need a curriculum coordinator, which is more money wasted.  Allow the teachers to do what they do best, be creative and talor curriculum to fit the needs of their students.  Common Core is just dumbed down bureaucratic education.  None of our kids are common, they are all unique with their own gifts and abilities.   One size does not fit all with education.

 There are a few last questions I have for you:  Who do you represent, the Superintendent, or do you represent the people who elected you?  Are you on the board to further your own agenda?  Why are you on the board if you are afraid to speak up?  Who do you think runs things in our district you or the Superintendent?  What is it you want for the kids of Katahdin and SACS?  Near as I can tell, the people and students are not being represented well at this point.  You all have the opportunity to listen to the people and hear what we are saying.  I hope you have the courage to stand up for what’s right in our schools.  Consolidating our schools will not solve our educational problems, nor will building a new school.  You will unduly burden the citizens and businesses in our area.  Here’s a start for you, cut down on the guidance counselors, administrators, and a superintendent who is paid too much.  If you really care start here.

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Red and Black Forever

In the touching candor of our young writer, are poignant lessons for us all, if taken to heart and treated with care..

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 Today has been a productive day so far.  I went to school, thinking that I would find something to do and I was wrong.  Mrs. Robinson did happen to assign me some homework, but being the best and favorite student of her class, I had it finished in about an hours time.  I roamed the hallways a bit, relaxed in the bathroom, and chatted in the study hall room with Mr. Zabriek for a while until it was time for my next class.  This teacher, another one of my favorites, happened to have gone to another stupid teachers conference, so we were assigned reading and a paper.  Our sub was Mr. Pulkinen, and he’s the man, so I left school early and came home and had lunch with mom.  Does anyone see a problem with my day from 8 – 12?  Most of you would say, “Heck no! I wish my schedule was like yours!”  But there are some of you who would find this ridiculous that a senior in high school who went to school today to get an EDUCATION, didn’t really do all that much today.  Before I start on what some of you might call a “rant”, I want you all to know that this is strictly opinion and I have absolutely nothing against the teachers or people at Katahdin.  I love all of the teachers I have very much and am thankful for there support this year with everything, especially Mrs. Robinson.  I wouldn’t have made it through without her.

      The above paragraph about this beings strictly opinion and having nothing against most of the teachers at Katahdin is a true statement, for those of you who don’t believe it and I regret not writing that at the very end of my article in the Pioneer because this year has been different.  I have been an outcast.  Not to my friends and family, but to the administration and few teachers at the school.  They either don’t like me, don’t like my opinion, or both. Most likely, its the latter.  But that hasn’t stopped me from charging on through my year like a bull at a bull fight.  To them, it probably seems more like a bull in a China shop, but that’s about them, not me.  Yes, I have fallen.  More liked been pushed down and tripped and beaten upon.  But each time, I have gotten up, stronger and much more irritated than before.  And that isn’t just because I have the patience of a beetle bug.  After a while, it gets harder to get back up.  When everyone wants you to stay down, that is exactly what you want to do.  Except I would have preferred to stick my head in the ground and leave it there for a while.

      I spent a lot more time in the office this year than I have all of my combined years at Katahdin which makes just about as much sense to you as it does to me.  I received my first detention, a few reprimanding, a few calls home, and a few calls to the school by my more than disgusted mother.  I wish I could say that I deserved them, but I did not, and that is why it makes it even harder for me to step through those big glass silver iron doors at around 7:40 in the morning every weekday.  But thank goodness I am not alone.  I have had my mom and dad, backing me up since day 1.  They have listened to me cry, heard me yell, scream, and curse, and probably seen me throw a thing or two.  They have been nothing but supportive and I will never be able to thank them enough.  My close friends, especially Katie, have listened to my constant complaints and rants about how unhappy I am. She gives pretty good advice and has great ideas of how to solve my problems.  Most of them unfortunately are too violent to admit publicly.  But for real, she is the bestest friend I could ever ask for and I am thankful to have had her in my life for almost 18 years.  Cody has also been wonderful listening to me rant and agreeing with me, even when I say crazy things that don’t even make sense, just to appease me.  He has been a wonderful supporter and am thankful for him everyday.

     I don’t think that there is anything wrong with me wanting more.  I know they say not to be selfish,  but I think it is neither selfish or unrealistic to ask for more from our education system.  I am not asking more just for me.  I am asking for more for my underclassmen friends who have 1 – 3 years left at this school.  I am asking for more for the teachers, who deserve better than what they are getting, try there best to be good at what they do, but could be provided with better resources which the student and teacher both deserve.  And I am asking for my sisters.  One of them has already had it at third grade, and is frustrated with classes  and the other just doesn’t really care anymore.  I mean, why should she? It’s not like she is getting graded or anything decent is expected out of her.  And get this, she doesn’t even know if she is passing or failing. I know we could have better than we do.  Everyone deserves it.

     For me, it isn’t too big of a deal anymore.  I have about 44 days left at Katahdin before I am no longer a Cougar and I will be a Black Bear.  That is both exciting and nerve-wracking.  I am not sure I am ready.  I definitely am not ready.  I am worried that school hasn’t prepared me for what is coming , but luckily, I am self motivated and that will help me, I think.  But even when I am not a Cougar, that doesn’t mean I will stop caring.  I always will care.  About the people inside the school.  About the education of our school.  About the school in general.  That building and some of the people inside was a second home to me for a long time, but not so much anymore.  But even though it isn’t for me anymore, it should feel like it for others.  Hopefully things change.  Hopefully people start to listen.  And until they do, hopefully, people won’t give up on the education that there children deserve.  Red and Black forever.

School Board Candidates Should Show Serious Engagement With Current Topics in Education | Rethinking Education

This should be required reading for School Board members, and those considering a seat!  ….as should Kathreen Harrison’s blog, “Rethinking Education”, featured on the Bangor Daily News’ Blogroll.

How might her suggestions help us improve education in RSU #50?

image“‘…an understanding of history, civics, geography, mathematics, and science, so they may comprehend unforeseen events and act wisely; the ability to speak, write, and read English well; mastery of a foreign language; engagement in the arts, to enrich their lives; close encounters with great literature, to gain insight into timeless dilemmas and the human condition; a love of learning, so they continue to develop their minds when their formal schooling ends; self-discipline, to pursue their goals to completion; ethical and moral character; the social skills to collaborate fruitfully with others; the ability to use technology wisely; the ability to make and repair useful objects, for personal independence; and the ability to play a musical instrument, for personal satisfaction.’~Diane Ravitch

“Many Maine school districts mention 21st century skills in their mission statements and strategic plans – yet most of our plans of study, and classrooms, remain essentially as they were half a century ago. We have adopted the rhetoric of school change while remaining fundamentally unchanged.

School boards, administrators, and teachers all contribute to setting the direction of a school district, however a district’s school board is the final decision-maker. If we want the less forward-thinking of our schools in Maine to catch up to those many years ahead of us in the direction of positive school change, we need school board members who are familiar with the educational landscape outside their own towns.

I suggest that potential candidates for school board should be required to visit exemplary schools in Maine and elsewhere before announcing their candidacy. They should be asked to share with the electorate their vision of excellent schools and their ideas for how to help schools achieve that vision. They should be required to demonstrate an informed engagement with topics in the national educational dialogue.

Decisions made by school boards impact the lives of students in their care. Those decisions should be based on knowledge about education. I urge school boards to adopt policies that will guarantee rigorous debate and informed decision-making.”

via School Board Candidates Should Show Serious Engagement With Current Topics in Education | Rethinking Education.

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Don’t Be Afraid To Fail….

Don't Be Afraid To Fail....

….Be Afraid Not To Try

RSU #50 Budget Development; Draft and Timeline – Next Workshop May 1st!

bluebirdpairSpring has sprung!  …and Budget Time….

Here, please find a draft budget, drivers and a timeline for its further development.

Our children, our schools, and communities need you, to help determine priorities for all-too-few dollars, and press them into service for the greatest return.

Thank you, and see you on May 1st!

FY15 – RSU 50 Budget Workshop Draft Budget and Timeline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things That Need To Change At Katahdin

 Please welcome our newest community author!  Many thanks  for this refreshing, no-nonsense dose of common sense…

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1. We need to pull out of the RSU. We have spent more money since we joined, and our kids education has declined.

2. The Superintendent needs to go. Spends too much money, not transparent to the public, and is paid way too much.

3. More classes need to be offered, shop, more choices for math, honors (true honors with high expectations), ap courses, online courses, and automotive and welding need to come back to Katahdin. There is a need for more extracurricular activities or clubs to be offered, how about more choices for art, music, photography, drafting, etc.

4. Administration needs to show kids respect even when kids express views which don’t coincide with theirs. We have to teach kids tolerance for different views and opinions. Disicpline is weak, too much nitpicking. Be consistent. Show them true leadership. Kids are not trying to run the school, they need boundaries, and respect, and authority that they respect and trust.

5. Starting Standards Based Grading this year was ludicrous, because you were not prepared. Why would you start something a year early, when you do not know what you are doing? A report card that is 42 pages long is too much. There should have been a meeting with parents, giving specifics about what all this means, but that would mean parents would ask questions. No grades, might be more than one valedictorian, what kind of world are we living in. What does this teach kids? Since when does everyone earn a prize. This is not the real world, and we are teaching our kids not to work hard, when you can take tests over and are not penalized for late work.

6. Science fair was a complete debacle for the freshman. They all had to do the same project. They did not receive enough guidance or enough time to do the project, and they could not work on it at home. Huh? If the kids were given a choice, I am sure they would have been a lot more enjoyable for the kids and for the adults to view. As for the kids, what did they actually learn? I would have to say not much. I think the freshman science class deserves better.

7. Communication is poor. You feel like when you have a concern, the real issue is never addressed, you are placated and no one is listening.

8. Bullying. This is something that needs to change. If a kid is truly being bullied, address it. However, stop trying to get these kids to look for something to be wrong. I find it ironic that students can be treated poorly by certain adults in the building for airing their views.

9. PDA: Give me a break. If a kid wants to hug a kid and that kid doesn’t mind, let them. Lets stop picking out foolish things to discipline these kids for. Have some common sense.

10. What really needs to change is fundamentally simple, treat others the way you want to be treated, respect other people’s views and opinions even if they are different from yours. Treat kids with respect and work hard. It can be done.

We CAN change things if we want to.

Save The Dates…!

 

Save The Dates...

REMINDER: the Budget Workshop!

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Just a reminder, there is an important Board meeting and budget workshop tonight at Katahdin H.S. 6:30pm.

Important, far-reaching decisions are being crafted, so the more the merrier!  See you there!

Read the announcement from the Superintendent’s office as well as some background on the district’s finances here:

Letter from Superintendent Malone

Thank You For Being A Teacher!

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How Do We Evaluate Our Teachers?

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