"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

State Board Allows Greater Local Control for Middle School

The State Board voted in a 9-6 vote to allow greater flexibility in Middle School for local boards and parents. They still require English, Math, Science and History, but the electives are to be determined by the local board. They require PE, Fine Arts, CTE, Health and so forth to be offered, but not required, by law/board policy, for every child. This will allow us, as a local board, to set the requirements and any exceptions at the district level.

Below is my email thanking the State Board for this greater freedom. Many people are very concerned because the news headlines read that the State Board had eliminated PE and Health. They didn't eliminate it, they are opening up the requirements so the local boards can customize as they see fit. This is a huge win in the local control column. Please take a moment to thank the State Board for this action.

Dear State Board Members,

I just want to thank you for supporting increased local control last week in allowing us, as locally-elected school board members, to set the requirements for elective courses such as Band, PE, and CTE. Thank you for having the confidence in us, and the parents we represent, to be allowed the flexibility to legally make exceptions for students who don't fit the mold, who might have reasons for not needing PE, Health, CTE and so forth.

The biggest problem I see in education is we are trending toward more centralized control and more standardization. While we all acknowledge the individuality and uniqueness of every child, too often in a large system, such as ours, that individuality can be shut out and lost as we try to mandate all things to all people. And yet, the best answers are always those that allow more freedom for the individual to make the decisions that most directly impact himself or herself. In this case, that means the parents and those elected, most directly, to represent them.

For those of you who disagreed with the decision, I hope you will give us a chance, at the local level, to prove that we are worthy of the trust of our communities. I fear that our schools are becoming too aligned with testing and results and pushing for workforce skills and missing out on the wide variety of educational opportunities. So, be assured, that I will be on the front lines of making sure that we continue to offer a full complement of classes to meet our individual students' needs.

I hope going forward you will be inclined to look at the high school requirements, in a similar vein.

Additionally, it would be fantastic if you allowed districts to choose to adopt a non-integrated math option and to go with the traditional sequence of Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, pre-Calculus and then Calculus. An additional track that would allow for Algebra 1 to start in 8th grade like it used to before we adopted the Common Core standards for math in 2010 would be fantastic. It would allow the average student to take Calculus as a senior without having to cram 4 years' worth of high-level math into 3 years. (I have heard that the concern is SAGE testing, and I'd be happy to address why that shouldn't be a big issue at all.) Personally, I would combine Intermediate 1 and 2 and pick the most important topics from both (the majority of Int 2 is of greater importance than Int 1, despite that the CC standards in the Appendix stated that you could start Algebra 1 in 8th grade after completing their 7th grade sequence. They are incorrect.) Even better, just restore the pre-Algebra standards from 2007. Of course, in my world of worlds, the 2007 math standards would be adopted in place of what we currently have, but I digress onto my favorite topic. ;-)

Sorry for the length of my email. I am just so thrilled to finally see just a bit of control returned to our local boards and parents! This is something that people have wanted since I ran for the first time in 2010. When you knock on people's doors and talk to them, their concerns always center around what isn't working for their individual child. We need to allow greater flexibility just like this going forward.


Wendy Hart
Mother of 3
Alpine School Board Member for Alpine, Cedar Hills and Highland