Author Archives: cent7

Get rid of the Standards/Proficiency Grading at Katahdin

“It’s hard for a parent to hear, ‘Give me a year or two and I’ll fix that — their kid does not have a ‘year or two”” ~from Standards Based, A Maine Case Study 

  Parents want what works; what is best for their children, and, the “best and wisest” take their responsibility to demand such of policymakers to heart.  …time for a Hippocratic Oath for School Boards and Superintendents; “First, do no harm….”.  Please welcome our most popular author, cent7.  …and brace yourself, WordPress — the stats are about to go off the charts!  8723102_origThis year at Katahdin the freshmen were subjected to the new Standards Based Proficiency grading system.  They were totally unprepared to implement this system of grading, which makes me wonder why they bothered to start this when they did not have to.  Confidence in administration is already low, but this is not right to make guinea pigs out of the freshman class.  When you are unprepared to answer parents questions about grading, honor parts, and honor roll, common sense would dictate you are not ready.  Three different report cards, one which was 42 pages.  What can you say about that, crazy right!  It just furthers the belief that there is such a disconnect between administration and parents.  Administration can apply for an extension so they can be adequately prepared to implement this grading system.  This is a no brainer, figure out what you are doing so that kids are not guinea pigs for what could be another educational fad.  Show people you care about kids and do what’s best for them.  Go back to high expectations and grades.

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Standards Based Grading at Katahdin

 

We have been admonished that Standards Based Grading is “…not going away…”.  Given the opposition to this, and the Common Core from parents, and policymakers alike, no one can be terribly sure.  All parents can be certain about is that they are NOT “…going away….”  Please welcome cent7, and press this astute assessment of Standards Based Grading into better policies for our children.

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This year at Katahdin High School, the freshmen were guinea pigs for Standards Based grading.  The administration rolled out the standards, not fully knowing how report cards or grading was done.  This is a 1-4 system, which does not allow for honor roll this year.  There may or may not be a valedictorian.  How would you have one, if you have no grades?  I don’t see how this is a good thing.  Why don’t we want our kids to work hard, to achieve, and be the best they can be.  Why would you implement something you are not ready for.  Why would you put something into practice without fully communicating your expectations to parents, teachers, and students.  Is this just another hoop we are asking students and teachers to jump through.  Then I find out that we do not have to implement this until 2020.  Parents of upcoming freshmen and next years sophomores should be very concerned about this.  We should be able to go back to the good old A through F system until this is fully ready to put into practice until 2020.  By then they probably won’t even use it.  Why should our kids be the guinea pigs for this system, which is not ready.  A 42 page report card, really, isn’t that the craziest thing.  I got news for administration, no parent wants to look at something that broad.  One page with grades is all we need. As parents, we need to have some say in our kids education,  we need to get together and demand that this be put on the back burner until they are fully prepared.  Lets work on getting this changed for our kids.

Katahdin Schools/RSU 50 Budget: Concerns & Questions

 Timbered Classrooms is proud to welcome a VERY popular community author back to the fold.  On any well-run Board, these questions would surely be answered; in any healthy, civic-minded community, there would be a reckoning if they were not…

Cougar-EyesAs we approach the big budget meeting, I think back over the last two years and realize how much of a disconnect there is between parents and administration, the superintendent, and the RSU 50 board.  A good education should have parental involvement and ideas, after all who knows best for their children, their parents.  I have a list of questions for the people to think about as you prepare to vote for this monstrosity of a budget, which will raise our taxes, and I see no benefit for our students. 

  1. Why does the superintendent take a raise and ask our towns to give more money?  Why does the board agree to this?  Why did we waste money on Great Schools Partnership? To further the agenda?  Why are we told we saved money by joining the RSU when it is not true?
  2. Why does the board agree with whatever the superintendent wants?  Aren’t you supposed to represent your towns and kids?

  3.  Why would the board and the superintendent want to consolidate our schools into one and send them to Southern Aroostook?

  4.  Why would you want our children to have to ride on a bus that long? How much money would that cost?

  5.  Why would you want to take our schools out of the community?

  6.  What does taking schools out of our community do to our local businesses?

  7.  Why don’t you think you have to answer people’s questions?

  8.  Why have you let the buildings fall into disrepair?  They are not old.

  9.  Why would you even consider building a new school, which our communities cannot afford?

  10.  Why aren’t you transparent with what you want to do with our schools?

  11.  Why did Katahdin roll out Standards based Grading this year for freshman with no preparation and little communication with the parents, when you did not have to?

  12.  What would ever make you think sending out a 42 page report card to freshman parents is a good thing?  What does it tell people?

  13.  When parents have concerns about a science teacher at the high school, why are they not listened to?  Why did she expect the freshman to do the same science fair project, not being able to take it home, not enough time or direction? Why would she cook at school for the kids?  Teaching?

  14.  Why do kids get to take tests over? What does this teach our kids about working hard?

  15.  Why aren’t kids graded on their homework in some classes?

  16.  Why are teachers out for training during the school year?  How does this help our kids?

  17.  Why is the communication so poor from administration?

  18.  Why are all kids put in the same educational box?  Why don’t you offer AP courses, online classes?  Why can’t we bring shop, welding, drafting, culinary, automotive, and childcare  back to Katahdin?

  19.  Why do you apologize to the freshman for their limited course offering?

  20.  Why did we spend so much money on a math curriculum that is has been ineffective for 10 years?  If it was so great, why are this year’s freshman and next year’s taking math everyday when there is block scheduling?

  21.  Why do we use declining enrollment as an excuse to consolidate?

  22.  Why does administration nitpick at the high school for foolish reasons? Why can’t boys play touch football at lunch to burn off some energy?  Perhaps it would help them focus better in the afternoon?  Why do we pick foolish areas in which to discipline, and not concentrate on education?

  23.  Why did you waste money on iPads that are toys, which are used for games and non educational purposes?

  24.  Why are you afraid of kids opinions?

  25.  Why can’t we educate our students cheaper?  Why not cut the budget in half?

These are some of the questions that bear thinking about as we approach the budget.  I think we deserve answers.  Will we get any?

 

 

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.

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.