UPDATE … Debra O’Toole reports the SD school board put off this proposal for 4 weeks during their session yesterday. She thanks parents, supporters, and the Board for listening to the concerns expressed.
Voiceforourkids.org is the energetic website run by and for parents and children within the San Diego Unified School District. Here, Debra O’Toole warns of Bad Ideas at today’s school board meeting.
by Debra O’Toole…
Tuesday, March 13, 2012, the San Diego Unified School Board will vote on funding new graduation requirements. During this fiscal crisis, changing anything that adds additional costs should be discouraged. Not only do they not have the money to fund the program changes, the committee recommends taking Title I and II funds to do so, without approval of the District Advisory Council and then fibbing about it.
….HOW WE GOT TO THIS PLACE
As background, the board voted last March to change the graduation requirements to align with the A-G requirements to apply to UC schools. This, in itself, was not a bad idea, as raising the bar has the potential to increase the college-readiness of all students (although it may pose some difficulties in graduating for those who find certain courses particularly challenging). What is of most concern is that the day after school was out in June (a coincidence?), they added 2 more course requirements for graduation: 2 years of a Career Ready College Preparatory course of study.
What’s that? This is essentially two years of a single topic career and technical education courses. And your child’s choice depends solely on your high school and what they offer there. At some high schools there are courses like automobile tech, screen printing and culinary arts; others have child development, hospitality and construction. But the district decides what is offered at each school site and the choices are not broad enough to allow students to truly choose something that would be necessary to advance their career path.
….BAD CHOICES RESULT, STARTING IN MIDDLE SCHOOL
While it requires some knowledge about HS four-year planning to fully understand, the impact is that these new graduation requirements will force students to alter their middle school course selections, as they will need to take high school level courses(a foreign language) in middle school to be able to make space in their HS schedules for other classes.
The biggest issue for me is choice. Forcing college-bound students to take CRCP courses in lieu of 5.0 GPA-weighted Honors and/or AP courses effectively reduces their chances to win a spot in college due to the reduced GPA, reduced rigor of the courses, and the inability of students to take courses that feature leadership skills (such as sports, ASB, yearbook, etc.) due to lack of space in their schedules. I cannot agree with what one of our administrators stated at the last meeting when this was discussed, “We force kids into math classes they don’t want, what’s the difference?” Our children should have a choice and flexibility.
….GET INVOLVED WITH ‘VOICE FOR OUR KIDS’
District staff is currently discussing whether to give students different options to fulfill the CRCP requirement, but the language isn’t expected to be ready until the end of April. Meanwhile, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students will be making their class selections beginning this week. What should they choose when the requirements have not yet been defined?
Given all these realities, it seems that it the district is not yet prepared to implement the CRCP graduation requirement, and I encourage you to join me in asking them to postpone implementation until the details are worked out, choice is restored and the program is funded, which will not be in time for the class of 2016. Here is the contact information for the board: http://www.voiceforourkids.com/GenPage.aspx?PageName=Opinion
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…..LEARN MORE ABOUT ‘VOICE FOR OUR KIDS”
Find out about VFOK, and consider joining forces at this link: www.Voiceforourkids.org
Here is their mission statement and their main point of origin:
“We are parents with children who are students in San Diego City Schools. We created this forum as a place to get up-to-date information about issues that impact our children and their education. Teachers and administrators all have strong, powerful voices through their unions. Our children don’t have that luxury, and they cannot be successful if their needs are not a priority.
“We began as a group of PTA and parent organization presidents and board members who worked together on district issues. Finding success, it was only natural to take what we have learned and create a way to communicate with parents throughout the district. We are committed to uniting as one voice, to speak on behalf of our children, to represent their interests. We hope to empower all parents and caregivers within the district to volunteer and get involved in their children’s education.”