RSU 50 Déjà Vu: 5 Critical Issues That Are Destroying Our School

We have so much to learn from the fine young people, for whom we gather here at Timbered Classrooms.  No matter your position, your experience… Such a perspective is the most enlightening.  Our young people are closest to the learning process, and know so much that we do not.  So listen.  Listen completely.
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As it stands, there are currently 6 student days left in my junior year at Katahdin High School. When 9:30 a.m rolls around on June 18th, I will finally have the relief that I have been seeking for months on end. While this year is wrapping up, many of the same issues that were plaguing the minds of students last year at this time have rolled back around. Sadly, there are numerous new issues that are concerning the student population about the upcoming 2014-15 school year. As a very vocal student, I have to ask myself why I even begin to try to fit for my beliefs and opinions. Although I was assured by administration last year that all of the troubles brought forth by the end of the school year would be resolved for this year, It is evident that this isn’t the case. From a student’s view, what changes are needed to create a more positive, enjoyable learning environment? While I could go on forever, I will list a few of my own and other students biggest worries.

1. Why aren’t we doing anything to retain our GOOD teachers? The end of this year has marked another spring that resignations have been flying into the superintendent’s office. The sad thing is that more than half of our teachers who literally commit their lives and dedicate an excessive portion of their day to the students of KHS are the ones who are choosing to leave. What is wrong here? Our teaching salary and expectations in no way match up. You can’t expect a teacher who spends 10 hours of their day and countless hours at home to have a desire to stick around. I know that all of our teachers do what they do for the students, but they get sick of things just as easily as the students do! Maybe it is time that we look into this a little bit more considering by the start of next year more than 3/4 of our staff were not there during my freshman year. The constant changing of personnel severely impacts the students needs whether the administration realizes this or not!

2. We would all act like adults if you treated us like one!  What is even logical about a more than six-hour school day that contains no breaks, limited time for lunch (which is restricted to solely inside now), and no additional freedoms? When I Was a freshman we were allowed to wear hats, eat lunch anywhere we wanted (inside or outside), enjoy a 15 minute break (in the hall too, and no one felt “unsafe”), have a 40 minute lunch (we could also leave the cafeteria after we were done eating), and we were all around treated like young adults. What is so wrong with making school a fun place? You can’t even go in the hall or library without being watched on camera. What harm does it do to let us as teenagers to eat lunch outside, get some fresh air, and burn off some energy. Taking away or limiting personal freedoms is the WORST thing that the administration can do to the students. If the logic behind the no breaks is that students are intimidated to walk by others in the hall, how is this even realistic to real life? School is about preparing students for adulthood.  I currently don’t know of one student who is pleased about school next year, especially due to limited freedom (or should I say no freedom?). We are all beginning to wonder when the bars are going to be installed on the windows!

3. No study halls is the worst idea…ever.  Sure not every student does work every single study hall, but when it needs to be done the period is used wisely. What about the students who need that free block to get help from a peer or teacher? Not every student has the time and privileges to do their work at home (especially since ipads are not allowed to be taken home). And what about 8 blocks of classes per day? This has to be the worst thing you could do to a student. If this was Bangor High School with plentiful classes to choose from, then I don’t see an issue. Our course offerings are so poor and limited that this is not going to work for the students. You are going to have a student taking a class they hate but are forced to take, causing them to perform poorly and develop an ever more negative attitude towards school. And what about for the student who finds school challenging? This is going to cause them to struggle even more having to keep up with such a heavy work load. All around, it is going to hinder student growth and achievements and not help us in any way, shape, or form.

4.Why isn’t the administration listening to and respecting student concerns? I have been bringing up the same issues or problems with the administration and school board for years. Sadly, it was a waste of my time. Nothing has been changed. This is the case for many students. They are being unfairly treated by the administration for expression their concerns. Can’t we really do our job and serve our towns with the BEST interest for the students? Isn’t that what administration is elected to do? The administration has no right to bully a student for sharing a valid concern.

5. If we are so poor, why can’t we prioritize our needs? If the budget really is such a big concern, then why are we giving the superintendent a 2% raise, why did we just purchase useless iPads, and please remind me why we have resources that cost $$ that we don’t even use (Compass Learning, etc.). It is time that we learn to prioritize our needs in order to best serve the students of RSU 50. This can be done both educationally and fiscally. Not only would I love to have a literal honors class, I would also be glad to have another teacher who could expand our program of studies. Learn to cut only what isn’t going to impact our education!

While I could go on for hours on end, I have tried to paint the best picture I possibly could without giving all of the wonderful community members, parents, students, and staff who keep up with this blog. These problems and then some are causing our school district to lose students, staff, and morale. It is only a matter of time before the damage is irreversible! Please feel free to connect with me in the comments section of this page if you have any questions, comments, etc. for me. I would love to hear from you! ~Guest Student Author

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6 responses to “RSU 50 Déjà Vu: 5 Critical Issues That Are Destroying Our School

  1. Thank you for this. It is clear, from news of the budget meeting, that this will be hard for some to hear. There, I am told the community rejected the notion that this is the best they can do with the resources available. The administration apparently warned people against cutting the budget further in an effort to force cuts to administration — faculty and staff would go first. We are fortunate here at Timbered Classrooms to have so much expertise among our readers to know that, not only are resources wasted, but that it is deliberate — to further a consolidation agenda that some believe will solve all of these problems, but, that the research clearly shows will only exacerbate and add to them.

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  2. The decision making is so poor. Excuses and spending. Scare tactics! We spend 200,000.00 on subs. Why not cut back and implement programs and hire a few more teachers with this.
    Well said skier! Hope they are paying attention, or will we have to listen to in a few years. We want the kids to have a good education. Now! Start listening to what parents and students are saying.

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    • Why would priorities be child-centered and cost-effective for taxpayers? …when the Board and Administration WANTS to paint Katahdin as a failed school? Dreadful conflict of interest….

      The only “solution” this body can come up with, to the “problems” they created out of thin air — is consolidation. The Board Chair wants all the investment in one community in this enormous district — his community. …and the rest of the towns, especially the children? They get to pay….

      P.S. If that sounds crass, that’s because it is. It’s all too easy to convince the uninitiated that it’s all “…for the kids.” But empirical research is telling us, loud and clear, it’s about money.

      “…it’s fun to spend other people’s money.” ~The humble farmer, on School Consolidation

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    • You are absolutely right. That is something that I neglected to include in my article. There hasn’t been a week of school where I can say I had all of my teachers each day and not a sub. I have had days where all I had for classes is subs, and this happened quite frequently. The teachers were at conferences or in trainings TOO much this year, and it greatly hindered our learning.

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      • Marzano workshops? Expensive, both to taxpayers and children! I was speaking with a teacher from a high-performing district, where Marzano was rejected. To be fair, all “gurus” give me the creeps, but this one especially. “Peer reviewed”? Not as far as I can tell. If he knew anything at all about the “art and science of teaching” he would know that the teacher student relationship is paramount, and that teachers need to be present.

        Bottom line? This Board and Administration is refusing to invest in Katahdin in this, and so many other ways. They want it closed.

        Thank you for this. The buck stops with the adults in these communities, and our readers want and need to know how you feel to inform their work.

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  3. Bottom line show them a vote of no confidence on the budget. The heavy handed tactics have to stop. People need input on their kids education, and kids need to know their educational needs are coming first, not training from some educational guru. Give me a break!

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