Saturday, April 20, 2019

Accountability. Standards. 17 inches!!!

How wide is home plate? You know, on a baseball diamond? Today on Facebook I came across a long story that is a worthwhile read. Do you know the name, John Scolinos (1918-2009)?

Rather than copy it here, I'll provide the link to the copyrighted article by Chris Sperry. Click here and read why the 17" width of home plate is important.

Here's one line from the story: "We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!”

And when those "kids" grow up? They haven't learned accountability and they try to avoid the consequence for failing to meet standards. The plate has just been widened.

"Home plate" at the Richland 2 School Board needs to be re-drawn to 17 inches. If this puts the squeeze on a couple of people? Well, maybe they should just head back to the bench.

The game is still "3 Strikes and You're Out". Right now, the count is 3-2. They can't keep hitting foul balls forever.

Should Board Member visit classroom?

At a recent School Board meeting, one of the Board members said she wanted to visit a classroom. There had been a presentation that evening about the Gifted & Talented Program, and the Trustee asked who the teachers were in the G&T Program.

The presenter paused, oh, so briefly, before stating that the teacher's names were in the material that had been submitted for the meeting's Board packet. If the Board member had read the electronic packet before the meeting, she would have seen the names.

I wanted to compliment the presenter for keeping a straight face and for not ducking the question. I was reminded of the Navy Admiral who sat patiently while Congressman Hank Johnson repeatedly said in a U.S. House sub-committee hearing that he was afraid that the island of Guam might tip over, if too many Navy personnel were stationed on one side of the island. How that Admiral ever kept a straight face, I do not know.

Now, should a Board member visit a classroom?

My immediate thought is No. If the Board member wonders what is happening in a classroom, the right path is to ask the Superintendent. He'll get the answer. Board members are decision-makers in charge of millions of dollars in assets and thousands of students. Sitting in one class for a few minutes "to see how things work" is not in their job description.

Liken this to a member of a Board of Directors of a large corporation. There is no way that a Director would ever go, or should be allowed to go, into a department within the corporation and visit/or inspect operations. And there is no need for it.

Besides, that Director has a job elsewhere. As does the curious trustee of the School District. And that job is at a different school in a different school district.

If the inquisitive trustee has time to visit a classroom and the Board approves, let the Superintendent choose the classroom and probably accompany the trustee. Let him choose a "difficult" classroom with high discipline problems, not a G&T classroom. Find out what many teachers are really dealing with during the school day. And sit in the back, quietly and unobtrusively. If the visitor is introduced, the teacher should merely say, "We have a visitor today" and move on. No special treatment.

A school board trustee is properly involved in governance, not administration.

Dress Code Comment

At the April 9th school board meeting, Sterling McLean-Hasinger presented an excellent comment on the Dress Code. Sterling is a senior at Blythewood High School. 12th Grade student.

Her statement is presented in its entirety and with permission. Comments are invited.

Her statement was well-organized and presented clearly to the Board. I wonder whether the Board will direct staff to respond to her in any way.

Good evening.  I would first like to thank the board for their service to our community.

My name is Sterling McLean-Hasinger and I’m a 12th grade student at Blythewood HS.

I, and several other students in Richland 2, strongly believe that the dress code imposed on the student body is discriminatory.

Richland School District Two Policy JICA states that “students are expected to dress, be groomed, and otherwise conduct themselves in such a way as to not distract or cause disruption in the educational program or orderly operation of the school.”

Furthermore the dress code, as published in our school’s handbook, states that “any items deemed distracting, revealing, overly suggestive or otherwise disruptive will not be permitted.”

My question is, who is being distracted by leggings and crop tops? From what I have deduced from the language and application of the dress code, it’s men.  This conclusion leads to some troubling implications. Not only are women being rendered as objects to distract and attract men, but men are also depicted as entities who aren’t capable of self-control. A boy is made to pull up his pants in the hallway when he’s caught sagging just for them to fall back down in the next few steps, but if a girl is caught with a skirt that’s an inch too short it’s an issue that requires her to be sent home.

Ignoring the implications made by this language, the notion that students and teachers are not responsible for their ability to teach and learn because of of a student’s dress is irresponsible.

I fail to see why an exposed shoulder is considered so “revealing” and “suggestive” that it prevents learning from happening in the classroom
I’d even propose that it is the very act of dress coding a student that is the true distraction from learning.
If  students are being asked to follow a dress code at our schools, I think it’s only fair that students have a say in what that dress code should be.
So what’s the next step? I’d like to urge the school board to review dress code with not only its administrators, but also to the children that are requested to follow it. I trust that every decision made is in the best interest of the student, and that our concerns will be taken into account.

Thank you.