Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Brooks' reasoning defies reason.

APS Superintendent Winston Brooks is on a mission; every student, in every school, in the same book, on the same page, on the same day, and now, at the same time of day.

Schools used to have the authority to determine daily bell schedules that, while complying with state law, met their individual needs. Some schools like block schedules, some, more traditional schedules.

Brooks see a need to change all that. According to the Journal, link;

"The push comes from Superintendent Winston Brooks, who said he wants consistency for the benefit of students who transfer between schools, and so middle school students can all be similarly prepared for the transition to a high school schedule.
As far as I know, there is no empirical evidence demonstrating a significant number of students have any significant difficulty changing schedules when they change schools. Nothing in my experience leads me to believe the issue is significant.

APS leadership finds nothing wrong with taking a non-English speaking student and simply dumping them into a full schedule of English only classes, yet they think a student will be traumatized by a simple bell schedule change. Unfathomable.

There is even less reason to conclude that the change from a middle school bell schedule to a high school bell schedule is insurmountable.

Yet they are willing to overrule teachers and staffs with strongly held objections, just for drill.

Associate Superintendent for Middle Schools Ruby Ethridge, according to the same article, said;
"... another benefit of a standard schedule is ... so teachers district wide can learn how best to teach material in a certain block of time. ."
... more evidence that the art and science of teaching is being inexorably degraded into script reading on strict time lines.

Brooks freely admits the lack of justification for the change to any particular schedule;
"I really don't care what the schedule is,
but I do think it ought to be common."
Teacher union President Ellen Bernstein observed;
"... some middle school teachers are resistant to changing
the schedule, especially if they like the one at their current school.

"They question, if it's working well for us, why do we have to change?"
Point well taken. Though despite that glaring caveat, the feckless teachers union is willing to go along with the change as long as they have a say in which poison teachers will drink, offering;
"... the district and union have collaborated in good faith on finding a common schedule for teachers.
The teachers union, at one point, had a proud past history of advocacy for teachers' right to participate meaningfully in decisions that affect their interests. More recently though, its silence about Brooks' intention to return all decision making authority to the central office, is deafening.

It is hard to imagine a demographic with less in common than middle school students; they share a common birth year. Yet we are going to treat them as if they have everything in common, including the pace at which they are able to move through school.

It is increasingly apparent to me, the greatest obstruction to education is the insistence that individuals can be dealt with in groups. It is only when individual students with individual needs are treated as individuals, that individual learning has any hope of reaching its potential.


Anonymous said...

Brooks' reasoning.... an oxymoron for sure!
"support staff" .... same.

Union support? Never was, never will be.

Anonymous said...

We are already at "Script reading" with MAth classes.
All the Middle school programs at APS are scripted and performed as the provided plan indicates.
Therefore, every math class in middle schools around APS are doing exactly the same thing every day.
There are also scripted programs for HS English being used as remedial courses. Same thing: an instructor reads the day's script and the students perform exactly what it says to do...no more, no less.