Category Archives: Equity

Where are the block buildings and the dress-up clothes? | Rethinking Education

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“…Reading will come easier to most if we just wait for the appropriate developmental stage. There is a reason Russia and Finland don’t present formal reading lessons in kindergarten.”

“Parents need to speak out to their local school boards and administrators if they do not want their kindergartens to be watered-down second and third grades. Childhood is precious. It doesn’t come twice in a lifetime. The work of young children is play. There is an enormous amount of learning that takes place in the worlds of dress-up and block building and outside pretend play.” ~Kathreen Harrison

 

What a worthwhile read! …a dose of wisdom, that is just what the doctor ordered. The piece, in its entirety, is available here:

Where are the block buildings and the dress-up clothes? | Rethinking Education.

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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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Every Child is Precious….

Every Child is Precious....

“I don’t like it when wealthy children are treated to one kind of education and the rest are treated to something different. It makes me suspect the children of the lower and middle classes are probably getting a rotten deal…” ~Kathreen Harrison

Visions and Values: A Close Reading of RSU 50 Mission and Purpose

ImageIf you needed “close reading” to fill out your Buzzword Bingo card, “You’re welcome!”

Perhaps it’s found some utility here, too, as I look closely at RSU 50’s Mission and Purpose statements.

I hope you will do the same!  Revise them… Revise my revisions, too, if you like — I can take it:)  In the end, these statements should well reflect your own core beliefs.

To that end, the Visions Committee invited attendees to their Public Forum to offer revisions, and I will pass along any suggestions you make here.  Here’s my own!

I love language…. Language matters, and words spark associations and frame the issue for the reader.  Has anyone read, “Don’t Think Of An Elephant” by George Lakoff?  (You just thought of an elephant, didn’t you?  Well, the book will tell you why….).

RSU 50 Vision Statement (The Schools We Strive For)

“ProvideCreate” an equitable, challenging, engaging and personalized student  Student-centered education system, which fosters cultivates, or nurtures  excitement a passion for learning that prepares as each student prepares for  citizenship,  local, national and global, college, and careers. and global citizenship.”

Anyway, in my own view, “provide” suggest passivity suggesting that there is a “receiver” or “consumer”…. …how about “create”; there is more room for students, families and communities.  I would put citizenship first, and of course include local as well as global.

RSU 50 Mission Statement (What We Do To Get There)

“Develop and advocate for uphold sustainable student-centered educational policies, and build mutually-beneficial, strong community relationships, supported by effective school leadership, challenging rich curriculum, proven instructional practices, expert, professional educators and diverse individualized, student-centered learning models provided in and cultivate a culture of respect between students, teachers and communities in a safe, healthy, and respectful environment built on strong community partnerships.”

I probably would have put “expert professional educators” closer to the top.  I don’t mean to suggest that teachers do not need to use “proven instructional practices” — teaching is a profession, and it has been said that there is no “…recipe for being a great teacher”.  It stands to reason that a great teacher practices his/or her art well.

RSU 50 Core Beliefs (What We Act Upon)

1)  “We believe students success are our top priority, and their voices will be heard.”

2)  “We believe that it is the responsibility of each school  to provides a safe, caring, and supportive learning environment that fosters innovation, creativity, wellness, teamwork, and self-expression for everyone through diverse experiences.  This is achieved by celebrating the preserving the unique character of our communities, where families and schools are in partnership.

3)  “We believe success full human potential, or “best bloom” is attainable for all students, holding them to high expectations.  This is achieved by providing instruction by high-quality teachers who will provide students with skills, behaviors and knowledge to be productive citizens by modeling civic responsibility, social justice and multicultural understanding.”

None of these represent a more stark divergence from current policy than number one, and it is my fervent hope that it is intended to rebuke, and not simply obscure, the behavior of the RSU 50 Administration and Board in response to respectful, public, and constructively critical civic engagement on the part of students.  Citizenship lies at the heart of public education, and respect for the pupil is paramount.  Last Spring, the only reference made by the Board to a student surveymonkey petition, hand-delivered to the Superintendent besides “We never saw it!” was, “It wouldn’t have mattered anyway!”.   As student “Letters to the Editor” have been, by all accounts, almost punatively received, “Timbered Classrooms” is proud to provide a safe space for everyone.  We also welcome a change of heart on the part of policymakers.

On to number 2: “..preserving the unique character of our communities” is wonderful for everyone. It is also, sadly, substantively impossible under the looming threat of liquidation of Katahdin; the impact of which on the “unique character of ITS communities” are as resonating as they are costly.  (Even if we at “Timbered Classrooms” were not so fortunate to have an impressive depth of educational expertise among our readers, the Superintendent’s refreshing, yet surprising candor about his intentions here is hard to refute.)  I hope policymakers will honor this second one, and consider scenarios that not only make sense, but are popular with our readers; keep K-12 on both sides, and consider merging the two buildings on the Katahdin side if necessary.  Invest optimally and equitably in every child in every school.

O.K.  Number 3:  What?  I crossed out “success”?  Who can be against “success”?  Don’t worry!  I’m not anti-success here, but it is a bit of loaded word.  What does “success” mean?  Is it a child’s potential as an educated person?  A truly educated person is surely “college and career ready”, but does this work in reverse?

I would like to add one word, and I don’t care where: Excellence.  Its absence struck me…. Surely there is room?  As it isn’t necessarily about money, and small schools enjoy an advantage here.  Excellence, its lifelong pursuit and its joy.

Many thanks to the Visions Committee for taking written revisions, though I am a bit late on my homework!

Dear Legislators: What’s the point of issuing education mandates that you’re not going to fund? | Rethinking Education

…a question that cries out for an answer.  Many thanks to Kathreen Harrison for posing it, and outlining what so many of us may not know about what requirements entail:

Snail house. French children's bookhttp://rethinkingeducation.bangordailynews.com/2014/02/16/home/unfunded-mandates-when-will-the-state-and-federal-governments-put-their-money-where-their-mouths-are-when-it-comes-to-education/

 Dear Legislators: What’s the point of issuing education mandates that you’re not going to fund? | Rethinking Education.

“…The Maine Legislature passed LD 1422 in 2012. This is the law that mandates that schools transition to a standards-based education system. The transition does not come cheap. One superintendent estimated the total costs involved in standards-based education were at least approximately $60,000 per year; another district administrator said they had spent roughly $500,000 on professional development regarding standards-based education implementation. Yet the state decreased its financial contribution to education just at the time it passed this expensive mandate. The intent is for the local taxpayer to pay more……”

http://rethinkingeducation.bangordailynews.com/2014/02/16/home/unfunded-mandates-when-will-the-state-and-federal-governments-put-their-money-where-their-mouths-are-when-it-comes-to-education/

Visions and Values; Pondering the Public Forum…

6a00e5509ea6a1883401901d26bffd970bMany thanks to everyone who came out to the Visions Committee’s Public Forum last night, and sharing your core values with those who will be making some very serious decisions, and soon.

If you were there — read on!  I welcome additions/corrections in the “Comments” section; if not — read on!  It is not too late to let the Committee know how YOU envision the future of education here.

Table discussions revolved around changes in the community and the economy in addition to schools, and a gallery of post-it notes illustrated the feelings; the values of the people present.  Just before adjourning, we were given copies of draft Vision Statement, Mission Statement and Core Beliefs on which to scribble suggestions.  Here they are!  Any suggestions YOU make to revise them will be shared with the committee…..

RSU 50 Vision Statement (The Schools We Strive For)

“Provide an equitable, challenging, and personalized student education system, which fosters an excitement for learning that prepares each student for college, careers and global citizenship.”

RSU 50 Mission Statement (What We Do To Get There)

“Develop and advocate for sustainable educational policies, effective school leadership, challenging curriculum, proven instructional practices, and diverse student-centered learning models provided in a safe, healthy, and respectful environment built on strong community partnerships.”

RSU 50 Core Beliefs (What We Act Upon)

1)  “We believe student success is our top priority, and their voices will be heard.”

2)  “We believe each school provides a safe, caring, and supportive learning environment that fosters innovation, creativity, wellness, teamwork, and self-expression for everyone through diverse experiences.  This is achieved by celebrating the preserving the unique character of our communities, where families and schools are in partnership.

3)  “We believe success is attainable for all students, holding them to high expectations.  This is achieved by providing instruction by high-quality teachers who will provide students with skills, behaviors and knowledge to be productive citizens by modeling civic responsibility, social justice and multicultural understanding.”

“*Core beliefs will be reviewed based on the work provided tonight.  Please feel free to add comments as well.”

The emphasis on that last bit is my own.  The Committee will be revising the above statements based on what they hear from YOU.  The next meeting date is, as yet, unavailable, but when I find out I’ll post it.  It doesn’t matter how you choose to contact the Committee — either directly, or, of course, if you want to post here I will see that they have it….  But please, get in touch.  Have your say.

From MSAD #25 to RSU #50 — Where are the Savings?

ImageSeriously?  Where are they?  Let’s don some green eye-shades and look over the numbers.  I know — not my idea of a great time either, but with so much at stake, here…..

I am posting the “Before” and “After” budgets sans analysis because, well, many heads are better than one.  …..and, I confess, all of them are better than mine.

So, without further ado…!

2010-2011 School Budgets Compared

Please share your thoughts and expertise with us in the Comments section!

Aside

“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” ~ Stacia Tauscher

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