Back in June, the Board of Education’s Ad Hoc Reporting and Grading Committee issued a report outlining a new policy affecting students in grades 3 – 12 that would make homework worth between zero and 10% of a student’s grade.
The report received little notice; perhaps it was lost in the brouhaha over school uniforms. But homework deserves at least as much attention as polo shirts and khakis.
How will cutting or eliminating homework improve education? The Committee’s report doesn’t say. Fortunately, the policy is still in the draft stage, so there’s time for the Board to raise questions and hone the policy. Implementation is not expected until at least 2010.
But administrators at Patterson Mill Middle High School have decided not to wait for fine tuning. Beginning this year, teachers were required to calculate grades for all classes except physical education, as follows:
60% Summative Assessments (translation: tests, projects)
30% Formative Assessments (translation: quizzes, class work)
10% Homework (translation: why bother?)
In many subjects, math and foreign language for example, homework is essential to mastery. Making it worth just 10% of the grade undermines the reinforcement homework provides and gives students the idea that working independently and being responsible for assignments is optional.
While some studies suggest that de-emphasizing homework makes sense in elementary school, it sends exactly the wrong message to middle and high school students; leading parents and even some students to question the policy at Patterson Mill.
Students are circulating a petition, now containing over 150 signatures, arguing the policy provides little incentive for doing homework regularly and exaggerates the effect of one or two high stakes tests per quarter.
Parents raised concerns at a recent PTSA meeting where Principal Wayne Thibeault strangely asserted that the diminished emphasis on homework grades prepares students for college, because college homework is not graded.
But research clearly demonstrates that doing homework dramatically improves student achievement in middle and high school.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for a policy to standardize grading. Administrators at Harford County Public Schools are to be commended for recognizing the problem of having students assessed by a patchwork of different standards. But when it comes to homework, one size does not fit all subjects.
Rather than setting an arbitrary value for homework that may be too low for class like Algebra or too high for a class like Living in A Contemporary World, educators in each of the broad subject areas should be asked to agree on a standard value for homework within their respective areas of expertise (i.e. art, music, science, English, social studies, etc.) That way, the relative emphasis placed on homework would intentionally support learning and the policy would serve the students, and not the other way around.
Wow, what a great idea!!
But lets’s take it a little further, why even go to classes, most colleges don’t take roll–either, just show up for the test and pass!!!
How ridiculous is this becoming now?
As the famous John McEnroe would say
“You can NOT be serious”
I don’t think we have a prayer of changing things at PMHS, the evidence put forth that the students are actually doing “better” with this method at the last PTSA meeting, means it is going to stay unless it is overturned by the county. So, I think outrfocus needs to be broader than PMHS to effect change. I commend the students for trying. I know I hear often, “why should I bother to do homework?”
Well this somewhat contradicts one rationale of the block schedule. hmmm kids need to master lesson 1 in math before moving on to lesson 2. Mr Volrath clearly stated “no, kids will not do homework during class while on the block schedule.” The teachers will make sure the kids have mastered their respective lesson before moving on..so now homework is class work! We should have seen that coming…I think we did!!
No homework…that implies to me that the kids have mastered lesson 1 and 2 and forth. So I have to agree..why bother with homework??
Maybe because teachers and other education experts have told us for years that homework reinforces the lesson and the concepts. That it encourages students to work independently, to think, to investigate, to use their textbook. Sounds like good fundamental skills to have –especially as adolescents are growing and learning. Like anything students will get out of it what they put into it. But I think homework on the secondary level is vital…and as parents it is important to know what our kids are studying specifically.
I think that students from middle school through high school should be able to go online and complete their homework rather than carrying their textbooks home. I know my child is a junior this year in bel air and it sure would be nice to eliminate textbooks and have the information online using word for downloading and printing out and returning it to school. This would also be good for going green, eliminating textbooks altogether eventually….for those grade levels at least. ??
Just an idea that sounds logical to me.
If I am not mistaken, it has been HCPS policy for some years now that homework cannot account for more than 15 percent of the total grade. I am sure that this could be verified. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference between 10 and 15 percent.
My big gripe over the years has been that it is HCPS policy to not give homework over holiday weekends or breaks, yet year after year it was assigned.
The private schools are giving plenty of homework, but it still doesn’t make up a huge percentage of the grade. I’ve always looked at homework as a very easy part of the grade to control and attain 100 percent.
Wow this is CRAP! How do they expect the kids to survive in college?!? Homework in college can almost be 40% of your grade. Heck most of the time you don’t learn in class you learn from the homework you did before you went to class. Let’s just make kids lazier and dumber!
Don’t you know its all about statistics…if the kids aren’t doing it they get a bad grade…if you eliminate it they cant get a bad grade for not doing it…and than Heir Chancellor hasn’t a problem. Its not about how good our kids do…its about how the kids appear to do. When they APPEAR to do good the Board gets a good grade. The only grade they care about !
You thought this was about education and preparation? How nieve dear child.
Go Dagger !
RichieC, you have a good point about the potential for grade inflation. The new policy at Patterson Mill is being tracked to see if it results in higher grade point averages. If grades improve, students and parents may be satisfied temporarily. But what if the numbers do not reflect real achievement?
Already there are a large number of high school graduates who are required to take non-credit, remedial classes in math and English before they can take these classes for credit at Harford Community College. Some of these students had good grades in the same subjects in HCPS. How can that be?
Cindy…so let me see…hcc makes you pay to finish the job you paid for in the public schools? Obviously they recognize and are complicate with it.
I don’t and never have liked Heir Haas’s policies.
Education is a one shot deal…from alienating kids (a lashing out at them via sports and activities as if they were employees)…to skewing stats by dropping requirements they show a onesideness of interest. This interest is certainly not in the students corner.
I want a refund?
Mabey we sould just vote in a new school board…oh forgot…the are beyond accountibility.
Go Dagger !
What this board needs to do is simple….
1. Instead of alienating and pushing students who are having problems out the door bu alienating them they need to start a buddy system for students who have failing grades if they want to participate in sports. A prime student teamed up with a lackluster student.
2. Retain homework. Homework re installs the lesson of the day through further repetition and familiarity.
3. Fully elected school board and community review.
4. Reduce non productive time…brooding time in schools.
5. A rating system in points for school administrators that is public.
6. Transparent board…full public disclosure at all levels.
The day must end where kids are punished cause the people who are supposed to educate them fail !
OH….and re install a sense of disiplin in our schools! Schools are for learning…not hanging out !
Go Dagger !
Your story does not address they question: Why did they think this was a good idea? OK, so the report doesn’t say anything – but why not ask someone before laying the smack-down here. While I think overly-broad sweeping policies about how teachers must put their grades together is not a good thing, I think there’s *too much* homework. As an outside-school educator I constantly hear from parents how their children, especially in high school, are getting swamped with three to four hours of homework a night – that’s nuts. There has to be some middle ground here.
1. Ten percent is way too low because often times classwork becomes HW.
2. I would move it to 20%, so it has some meaning
3. I think that that 60% is too high of an amount for tests since some classes don’t have many tests due to being semesterized.
4. What about the classification of HW, Summative Assignments, and Formative Assignments: will greatly vary between teachers.
5. Rumor: lowest score you can receive is a 50% instead of a zero.
Tyldak, good point. The principal at Patterson Mill said it would prepare students for college, but the ad hoc committee might have had a different reason, aside from creating a uniform grading policy. I’ll ask around and if I learn anything, I’ll report back.
Ren&Stimpy – Can you tell us more about your observation #5?
Homework in college is generally not graded at all, but doing independent work and reading impacts how a student does in a class. High school homework by nature is designed to be a review of the day’s lesson so that the material learned moves from short-term to long-term memory.
Part of the huge disconnect between what students do in high school and what they need in college is a product of curriculum and textbook selection. For example, high school students–if they do any meaningful writing in high school at all–generally write literature based research papers (comparing literature, evaluating it, etc.). When they get to college, they may never need to take another literature class, but will certainly be required to write research-based papers. Many HCPS English teachers have a student load of 150 to 175 students. With 168 hours in the week, most teachers simply do not have the time to grade that many research papers, or any other relevant writing assignments for that matter. With 50 percent of all HCPS teachers having less than five years of experience, they are still learning to teach and worrying about classroom management issues. Additionally, using certain math text programs only teach kids to copy problems and mimic rather than learning why they are doing the math in the first place. It’s a problem.
With the new Career Cluster curriculum in the high schools, this will only get worse. Recently, an admissions administrator at the University of Virginia announced to the tour group of the day that if the students wanted to study business at UVA they should not take business classes in high school, but should take a traditional college prep curriculum. Guess what Career Clusters do? They have students wasting all kinds of class time in career oriented classes. And who will teach the career courses? And what kind of expertise does a high school teacher have if a student is interested in engineering or any number of other career fields.
Sorry to go on…but parents need to pay attention now.
Last year, Mr. Thibeault used to brag the Patterson Mill Middle had the “Highest GPA in HCPS.” Yet, the Middle school MSA results puts us behind BAMS and Southampton. Over 50% of the students made honor roll. Talk about grade inflation. The 10% homework actually works out well for my child since he often “forgets” to do his homework, but does well on the tests. He’s learning that you don’t really need to do that pesky homework to make honor roll.
Judy – Here is the Board of Ed’s policy on homework, taken from http://www.hcps.org
“Appropriate homework is the expectation for students at all levels of schooling. Properly planned homework assignments relate directly to classroom work and extend beyond the classroom. Homework provides the student valuable experience in following directions, making judgments, raising additional questions for study, and developing responsibility and self-discipline.”
It makes you wonder how these benefits can be achieved if homework is worth between zero and 10% of a student’s grade, as the proposed policy suggests.
Some schools do set a uniform value for homework, but that decision currently rests with each principal.
Thanks for your insights on career clusters, etc. What do you think HCPS could do to better prepare students for college-level writing and math?
In response to the writing/math question, Cindy, I have to answer from the point of view of a parent whose children have attended both public and private schools and what I see as the differences in how they are being prepared. I do think that the main thing that my family is paying for in tuition is a curriculum that is more on-course with what my children will need for college. They are getting more assignments that require higher level thinking skills and are being asked to apply the concepts they are learning to real world applications.
In writing, students need more research-based writing. Comparing literature is a great skill to have because it does get students looking at how something is said or written, but you and I both know that the only people who get paid to compare literature are high school English teachers and professors. If your child wants to be one of those, that’s great, compare away. However, many college students can go through college and never take a literature class. Business writing, technical writing, and other major-specific writing classes take the place of the second level of freshman writing that so many of us took 100 years ago. Students also need to focus on writing skills. With the SAT now focusing more on writing with the new section that asks students to find errors, schools will probably concentrate more on grammar and mechanics in writing. Because we all know how HCPS wants those SAT scores to look.
Students need to be able to use databases for research and evaluate Web sites to understand if they are credible. They need to use the Internet for more than IM and surfing.
As far as math goes, it is certainly not my area of expertise, but what I hear is that Chicago math emphasizes repetition of similar problems rather than why you do the problem (or how you might use the calculations). My older child says that she understands the why of math much better after a couple of years in non-Chicago books. She has learned how and why the formulas are derived rather than just memorizing the formulas. This all focuses on learning to think rather than memorize. I will say that her math teachers in HCPS were good after 6th grade.
With both math and writing, it seems as though those students who happen to get an older teacher who doesn’t strictly follow the curriculum do better. Those teachers understand what kids need to be successful in higher level courses and they secretly give it to their students. Students need to be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide–in their little heads. Those strict grammarians–God bless them all–really help out their students as they make them miserable studying mechanics and rules.
I hope that answers the question.
Maybe I can give you some more info on the math program. “Everyday math”, which is used in elemtary and 6th grades has been banned by the State of California School Board for use in local school districts. It does not meet State Standards. University of Chicago Mathhas several flaws. My biggest complaint is that it relys too heavily on calculator use. Teaching kids to program those $100 calculators is probably OK. My issue is that many problems are written so that you can only solve them using a calculator. The students get used to using a calculator for everything and never develop a “number sense.” The text book for transitions and Algebra are confusing. There are 3 different subjects in each chapter. For example: Finding area of a cube, probability, and square roots would be in 1 chapter. Then these same topics are repeated 2 or 3 chapters later in greater depth. Both my kids were really confused about this. Finally, in a whole year of Geometry, there are only 2 or 3 sections in 1 chapter on Proofs. I was never sure exactly what they did in that class, but it wasn’t Geometry as I knew it.
At a local “independent” school, only about 80% of the kids coming from public school pass their Algebra I entrance test. In the last 5 years only 1 student has passed the geometry test. The report I get from these students is that the independent school math curriculum “makes sense.”
Both of your posts are right on point. Said very eloquently. Especially the real value of homework in teaching students to problem solve and learn how to study
Margaret, thanks for raising University of Chicago Math, including the Transitions text book used in HCPS middle schools and Everyday Math in elementary school. I have heard that EM requires work books that have to be reodered every year. If true, it’s a nice annuity for the publisher.
Beyond that, I hear from teachers about the gaps in students’ understanding of math concepts which show up in the later years. Judy noted problems with the math curriculum too. Perhaps that’s one reason remedial math classes are filling up at HCC.
Here’s an example of what is being taught and what needs to be taught. Students in a post-high school math class were asked if they knew the quadratic formula. All members of the class knew the formula and said that they had been taught a song to remember it. However, when they were asked to apply the formula, not one of the students could do it. Hmmmm.
When I talk with parents of Elementary students they universally dislike Everyday Math. The biggest complaint is that it often teaches 2 or 3 different menthods to do something. So instead of taking a week to learn long division with 1 method, the teacher now take a week to teach 2 methods. At the end of the week, not only don’t the students know how to divide, they are confused about which method they should use. A few brave teachers, in private moments of candor, will also say they dislike Everyday math. But if MSA scores go up every year, it’s hard to argue that it’s a bad curriculum. Since the MD. State BOE took the nationally normed parts out of the MSA, there’s no way to figure out how we’re doing compared to the rest of the country.
Yes, there is a workbook that has to be purchased for every student, every year. I wonder what that costs us taxpayers!
One question or thought, Do you really think that all the teachers love the grading system at Patterson Mill as the Principal indicates? He suggests such a great system of grading and NO one opposes it or has a problem with it. Everyone loves it.
The truth: Wrong and wake up Mr. Thibeault.
I have spoken to teachers at Patterson Mill as well as students. It is not the rosy, we love the grading policy he suggests in the Aegis article. A teacher told me to be flexible as to where they put homework: if started in class and finished at home, is it homework or can it be moved into the area that counts for 30%?
That is the ultimate question, who will clearly define as to what homework is? Will parents argue if one teacher counts work started in class and finished as homework goes in the 10% category while another teacher puts it in the 30% Formative section.
I encourage you all as parents to get inolved or e-mail the board on this topic as there is much more being discussed about the grading policy than what was in the article about Patterson Mill, MUCH MORE! Each school is discussing and commenting on the proposed plan, it has some radical ideas.
Renandstimpy, we’re right about how the teachers at PMMHS are treating the grading mandate. One of my son’s teachers said that quizzes might move around from the 60% section to the 30% section depending on where it would give the student the best grade. Especially if they only have a few tests that quarter. Sounds like the teachers are doing what they want.
Margaret is right. During a presentation on the Uniform Grading Policy made to the Patterson Mill PTSA , the syllabus used as an example did show that homework could also be classified under Formative Assessments and quizzes could be classified under either Formative or Summative Assessments, officially blurring the line between these categories and making the policy “uniform” in name only. Then why have the policy at all?
Margaret raises the potential for grade inflation, which exists with or without a uniform grading policy. But it’s also true that when one grading category is worth 60%, any assessment put into that category has a powerful impact on the final grade.
There is a study going on within Patterson Mill to determine the effect the new policy has had on GPAs. The administration reported that in the first quarter of this year, 62% of high school students made the Honor Roll (GPA of 3.0 or better) as did 56% of middle school students. No word on how that compares with last year, before the policy was put in place.
As for the county-wide policy, in response to a question from Tyldak (see post#12 above) I did contact Roger Plunkett, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction and asked him if there was a rationale behind the Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendation to make homework worth somewhere between nothing and 10% of a student’s grade. Having recently joined HCPS, he had not personally participated in the Committee’s work, but he also had not found a rationale in their report and was in the process of raising the issue with Committee members. I will follow up and report what I learn.
I agree with Ren that there is more involved in this policy change, which is still a work in progress. Just a reminder that the full Committee report is linked in my story above.
I want to know why Mr. Thibeault was allowed to implement this policy while it is being looked at by the school system. There was supposed to be input from parents and other stakeholders but he went ahead and did anyway because he wanted to. Talk about going rogue…
Additionally, a parent at Patterson Mill asked Mark Wolkow why this school had to be the “guinea pigs” for this. His answer was that it was an administrative decision and had nothing to do with the BOE. He can spend a lot of time on elected school board matters, but none dealing with concerned parents.
I don’t work for the school system but if someone here does, please explain how a principal can take over a school and declare it his own. The homework policy is just one of several examples of how Mr. Thibeault does whatever he wants without consulting anyone in the school and doesn’t tell the truth when parents confront him. Everything that happens in that school is because he wants it that way regardless of what it best for the students or teachers. There are a lot of VERY frustrated students and parents in that school and no one seems to be want to do anything about it. I wish someone from the schol system would take the time and talk to the students in the school and see what they think.
I was told by a teacher at Paterson that the administration told them to play around and “be creative” as to where to put things in catagories. I think that is a major problem and should be looked at as far as different subjects and curriculum areas. Some curriculum areas such as music are going to be grading much differently where math will have many homeworks and few tests. Semesterized classes may have very few classes due to lack of time and need to cover all the curriculum.
Is the administration going to support the teachers when they put certain grades in certain areas??????? That will be interesting to see, because they definitely should, if teachers are forced to this new system of weighted grades.
What is the lowest grade you can get? There is some talk that if you don’t turn in an assignment you may get a 50% on it rather than a zero, even though you did not turn it in. That is an idea that is being discussed by Harford County. That will surely help prepare the kids for college and especially the work force. Don’t I get paid half my salary for not going to work? Go figure this out??? I guess it is called let’s give the kids self esteem and better yet let’s boost grades, since that is what it is about.
-What happened to: you didn’t turn it in then you get a zero
archetypical hero says
I do work for the school system and that’s how it goes. Schools in Harford County are for pricipals to run. Time and again that’s what it comes down to–and to whom do principals answer–the Central Office and the BOE. Now wouldn’t it be ideal for the principal to use his/her power to serve students. At some schools, principals use their influence to better schools, but in others they’re simply politiicans themselves–weilding power for power’s sake.
archetypical hero says
What i’m guessing is that since PMHS was Thibeaut’s school, he probably said, we’ll pilot the program here–before this new school community of teachers, parents, and students had time to come to gether and review–and god forbid–question— this HCPS agenda. HCPS Kingdom come, Thibeaut’s will be done.
When my child was (past tense) at PMS, we called Mr. Thibeault Mr. Pollyannabo because he often spouted incorrect information as if it were so. “We have the highest GPA in HCPS,: he said, wooohooo grade inflation. “We’ll offer all of the AP classes Bel Air High School offers,” he said, even though he had no idea what teachers he would even be able to hire or have trained to teach AP classes. And he always did it with a huge smile on his face. His phony grin totally creeped out my kids.
Unfortunately, many people have no options when it comes to school for their children, but I can tell you that a small percentage are voting with their checkbooks and getting their kids out of HCPS. These are not people who have planned to do this; they are people who wanted their kids in public school, bought houses in specific school districts, and have sat by and watched the schools make decisions that they viewed as damaging to their children. And private schools are not the perfect answer either, but at least you know what you are getting (curriculum, scheduling,course offerings, etc). With PMS decisions are made as they go along. And kids who are there get what they get.
Judy: I couldn’t agree with you more. I think you are right on as far as saying many things that simply are not correct or possible.
I think that idea is top down in HCPS. Stats, GPA’s, etc are being manipulated in a way to support their purpose and all of the changes (Block Schedule, LICW, 4th math, etc).
If there is no change or a way to manipulate the stat, then just say “we need more time to truly evaluate the change to see the desired effect.” By that time, parents have forgotten about the issue and the Board and HCPS Administration is off the hook.
That is inexcusable and they should be constantly called on it as their decisions have a tremendous imact on the life of our children socially and educationally. Do what is best for children, not what is best for HCPS Administrators (god forbid they admit they should change a block schedule like all the other counties have or something else). It is ok to try something and see it just isn’t working then to know changes need to be made and push harder for it, manipulate reports or stats, all so you can stick with your idea. People understand trying something, realizing it isn’t the right fix, and correcting it.
There you go. Incorporating logic and accountablity into the discussion.
They are the HCPS stats and bar charts and that’s the way it is. The block schedule, longer class times, the 4th math credit, the career clusters and LICW are all here to stay, just because the other unintelligent school systems have abandoned the block schedule and seen the downside to it doesn’t mean we will change.
Remember, you again, have used logic in your argument. NO FAIR!!!
Carl: I am such a cheat by using gool ole logic!!
I guess that was taught back in the HCPS high schools in my day. Good sound education and more school based decisions dependent on the unique population rather than all schools must be the same (“cookie cutter”).
Patterson Mill Teacher says
Once again, this website presents a one-sided and biased report of (mis)information. As a teacher at PMMHS, I have a couple points to share.
1. Parents=It is not the teacher’s job to make sure YOUR child does his or her homework. If your child forgets or chooses the homework, how is that the teacher’s fault? We cannot control what your child does at home; parents have to do something as well. Our job is to help your child acquire the skills they will need during the school day. I often work 10-12 hour days plus nights when I get home and weekends. Frankly, I don’t have the time to stop at all of my students’ houses to make sure they are doing their homework too. Some parents (thank God a majority of the parents I work with are WONDERFUL!!!!) need to let their child take responsibility for their own actions. The world will not make excuses for them.
2. Rather than automatically siding with your child, it would have been a perfect opportunity to discuss that while homework may not be worth a large percentage of the grade, it does help prepare you for the quizzes, tests, and papers that DO count for a large percentage of the grade. It is like the real-world. If I have to do a presentation, no one gives me credit for the time I put into the presentation, but if I do not do the work required, my presentation will be less than stellar and will likely not help me accomplish my objective.
3. In college, homework is counted 0% of the grade in almost every class. What counts are tests, papers, mid-terms, and finals. If you don’t believe this, call a local college and ask for a course syllabus.
4. Homework is not being “eliminated.” It’s affect on the overall grade is changing. Before the policy, some grades were over 90% homework. How do we know who is completing the homework? I totally agree that a large majority of parents take an appropriate role in homework, but as teachers, we constantly see examples of work from students done at home that nowhere near matches what they have ever done in class.
5. The parents who think Mr. Thibeault is a “dictator” don’t know how lucky thyey are. I have worked at several schools, and this is the first one where I feel that I have freedom to do what is in the best interests of kids. There are administrators at schools throughout the county that are telling teachers they are not allowed to have any water bottles or other fluids on their desk. Others are forbidding teachers at the elementary level to eat lunch with students because it would “make teachers who didn’t do that look bad.” Wake up!
6. A lot of people complain about the curriculum and how it needs to go back to the “good-ole” days. You know what else happened in the “good-ole” days? Parents supported the school and didn’t make excuses for students when they failed to fulfill their responsibilites. I certainly know my mother and father took that attitude.
7. People are complaining that they do not want a uniform procedure but then complaining when teachers are adjusting which assignments go in which category based on their subject area. Make up your mind!
Please do not misunderstand me. I work with amazing students AND amazing parents. I love working at PMMHS. What frustrates me is that the vocal minority continues to bash a school that is pushing and challenging students.
I think it is nice that Patterson Mill Teacher is happy there as most of my child’s teachers appeared to be last year. However, most of the comments posted here appear to be well-supported arguments about things that are not wonderful–and that is what a BLOG is all about. And not everything on this line of thought is about PMMHS (though it may have started there), but HCPS policies in general.
Patterson Mill Teacher says
I fully understand what a BLOG’s purpose it. However, this site presents itself as a newspaper of sorts. A true newspaper and journalist would research both sides. Cindy seems like an angry parent in each article that attacks PMMHS. Certainly, every single thing about her experience with PMMHS cannot be this horrible. Where is an article on something good?
On your point about a lack of research writing, I am completely with you. In the HCPS curriculum there is one “research” paper each year. I agree that within content areas, there needs to be a lot more writing. I think many teachers try to fit it in. WHile the English papers do focus on comparing literature, I think many teachers do focus ongood writing in general, such as how to create a thesis, how to divide your paragraphs and make effective arguments, how to introduce and conclude your work. All of these are transferrable skills in other forms of writing.
On a different point, I think assuming private schools are better is like assuming because you pay more for something it must be better quality. While I am glad that your child is having a good experience at a private school, I’m not sure parents understand that in public schools we often get students who have transferred from private schools, and they are usually behind. I see much more rote memorization and less critical thinking from most of the “private to public” school students I have seen. With that said, I know some PMMHS students who ended up at John Carroll have actually been singled-out as being the best-prepared for the rigors of high school. That would include students from the “they can do no wrong” BAMS.
Obviously, there are things that do not work effectively in HCPS BOE. However, I worry when it becomes a “let’s complain aout everything” mentality. Let’s focus on what is really important and then take positive steps t helpthat change occur. When you complain about everything, no one listens anymore.
Just curious about what subject you teach since you are discussing rote memorization. I am assuming it is not math because it is very important in that particular subject. I also wonder how you would know about “singled out” students from PMMHS since this year would have been the first group of freshmen, and yes many of them started at “they can do no wrong” BAMS. BAMS can certainly boast that they have the best test scores in the county so obviously they are doing something right over there. Maybe other schools could learn from their success because I don’t think there is much of a difference demographically.
I am sorry you feel that Cindy is pointing out issues that may need addressing. HCPS has a whole public affairs department that prepares a newspaper, sends articles to the local press and does stories on HCN. In regards to this thread, Mr. Thibeault was the one who misled parents at a PTA meeting about the homework policy not Cindy. After that was deemed to be incorrect, he had a music teacher come to the meeting and discuss the matter and tell parents that he was doing grading policy as a graduate project. Would the parents have found that out if someone wouldn’t have asked because parents were told incorrect information by the principal? If you want to defend that then fine but it does undermine credibility, and it isn’t the first time.
Homework being worth 0% is an issue that needs to be discussed as evidenced by comments posted here. There are teachers that feel very strongly that this is a problem but it could be based on the subject they teach, and that is one of the reasons this should have been vetted first. To say emphatically that homework is worth 0% in college is misleading. Are english assignments homework? Are math problems homework? There are teachers in college that GRADE homework and I know because I had some and many were in math.
Also, how do your students feel about this policy? Do they understand the implications or are they confused too? Perhaps if the whole system was using this, then it would be easier to compare.
By the way, I am one of the parents who help their student with homework because if I didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to pass their classes. There is a lot of supplemental learning in my house and I have spent a lot of time and money trying to remedy the situation. There are probably many kids who don’t have anyone helping them and maybe that is why there is such a high failure rate in some schools in this county. I have dealt with some great teachers over the years and some pretty bad ones too so could you clue me on how to change that? There are “teacher facilitators” in the schools that are supposed to be working with those teachers and what do they do? Big mystery if you ever ask an administrator. I can assure you it is very difficult for parents to feel lots of goodwill towards a school when they try unsuccessfully to get help for their struggling student and get shot down repeatedly. Happy talk isn’t going to change that reality nor is it going to help those students.
There are many hardworking faculty and parents in PMMHS and all of the successful schools in this county. That is what makes it work. Cindy is one of the parents that has advocated and volunteered numerous hours on behalf of students in this county for more funding and more accountability. She has even been the recipient of a State PTA award for advocacy. If complaining is someone who points out issues that may need addressing and works tirelessly to get results, then I guess we need more complainers in this world. If there were 25 people like CIndy at every single BOE meeting in this county, we’d be very fortunate indeed.
Please do not assume that I think that all private schools are better than all public schools. If you read through my posts, you will note that I never wanted to send my kids to private school. My husband and I both attended public school including college and graduate school for me. He attended what I like to call the ultimate public school: West Point. I would like nothing better than to take the $35K plus each year that we are spending on tuition and put it toward that $50K plus per year college costs we are looking at.
This site was started, I am guessing, to counter the happy talk that the public schools and politicians keep spouting. And not that Cindy would ever need me to defend her, but she has probably done more for this area than you will ever know. If you ever hear her speak at a BOE meeting, you will be amazed by her knowledge and well-thought-out arguments. Though she may come across in a blog as angry, she has done more for the Bel Air schools than probably any other individual parent. She got the word out about air conditioning at BAMS and has been tireless in her work toward an elected school board. Her children will not benefit from these things, but plenty of other Harford County kids and teachers will. If we even had 10 Cindys things would be different; unfortunately, it’s hard to come by extremely intelligent people who are willing to constantly fight the fight. I sometimes wonder why Cindy gives so much of her time. I took the easy way out and wrote the check.
And on your PMMS comment about being prepared for John Carroll, a handful of the very brightest PMMS students went to JC this year, so that should not be a surprise. Plus, those students only attended PMMS for a year, so not too much credit should be taken. The shock should be that just three years ago, the very best students at BAMS (where PMMS students came from) did not go to private school; they stayed public. Many students who changed schools are from families that had not intended to go the private school route.
I have always been an advocate for public schools. We stayed in Harford County because our older child started kindergarten the year we moved here and we believed the politicians and HCPS propaganda about how great the schools were. But as our older child moved through the system, we realized some of its faults and after her tenth year in public school, we made the agonizing decision to move her. Private school isn’t the perfect answer, but smaller classes and higher level assignments have been better for my daughter. And would you believe that disciplining students is almost non-existent at my daughter’s school; the students are there to learn.
In case you wonder, I am angry. I wish there were more angry parents. I wish there were more parents who knew enough about what their children should be learning to gripe about it. I have been to BOE meetings and politicians’ meetings and I am always shocked at how few people turn out to express concerns about what the BOE and administration have passed. The block schedule and this crazy career cluster curriculum come to mind.
But again, I took the easy way out.
I’d like to return to the question raised by Tyldak in #12: “Why was this done?” OK, we know Mr. Jensen needs a graduate school project, but where is the current research that says this is a good policy to follow? We hear the “that’s what they do in college” rationale for many policies, but are college practices what’s best for Middle Schoolers?
PMMHS teacher: I don’t think anyone expect teachers to check up on weather students do their homework. I can’t keep up with my own kids (see my post above.) They are responsible for all those zero’s. I’d like to see the “zeros for late homework” policy re-vistited. The current policy says that if you don’t do homework, you get a zero. Which then says, if you forget, it isn’t important to make up. I’d like to be able to have the kids be able to turn in homework late for 50%. Then there would be some incentive to make up the work.
We could probably start a whole other thread on pros and cons of public vs. private school. My daughter was mostly well prepared for private high school. We had some math to do to get her ready for Algebra II. Private school offered us something PMMHS could not. A college preparatory curriculum with a proven track record. She has academic opportunities in her freshman year, that PMHS didn’t offer. I think PMHS will be a good school, in about 5 or 10 years. In the mean time, I didn’t want my kids to be part of an experiment.
Patterson Mill Teacher says
First, I am not trying to bash Cindy as a person OR negate any positive things she has done for the children of Harford County. In fact, I applaud it. I myself know what it is like to fight for something. It’s not fair to assume that teachers don’t do the same thing every day, too. I would just like to see her post some articles that focus on the positives she sees as well. Maybe a feature on a teacher or program that is working well. I know that probably wouldn’t meet the “with an edge” criteria, but do we really want to live in a world that promotes negativity? I’m certainly not saying that we should all put on rose colored glasses either but a balance would be nice.
As far as test scores, on the county-wide English midterms given last year, the 6th and 8th graders at PMMHS scores better than anyone in the county. The 7th graders were 2nd. So, for those who value test scores, PMMS is not totally defunct. However, others on here then complain about test scores and say they are used to pump up the way the county looks. Many parents I talk to don’t want to hear anything about test scores because they feel the tests have taken over the curriculum and teaching (which is a whole other issue for a different thread I know).
As far as so many top students going to private schools……from the highest class of 8th graders last year, only 4 ended up leaving PMMHS. 2 of those went to the Science and Math Academy, so really it was a loss of 2. I would call that a major exodus.
To Elaine–Please don’t get me wrong. Thank you for assisting your child with homework. Trust me–teachers appreciate it. The question is–how large a portion of a student’s grade should be from work that they were assisted in? Is that a fair and true assessment of what they really know. I’m not saying 10% is a perfect number, but I’m saying it shouldn’t be a large portion.
To Margaret–I agree that the majority of parents do not expect me to stop by for a homework check, but you would be surprised. We have received calls from parents asking us to tell them how to calm their child down because they were upset about something.
Overall, I just hope that for every complaint that needs to be made that an e-mail is sent to a teacher or someone else (coach, pastor, etc.) that is helping out and making a difference. I don’t think most parents understand how much those e-mails mean to teachers. We don’t make a ton of money (we don’t live on the street either) and there are many people who think we work only 7 hour days 10 months of the year, etc., so those nice e-mails help. If you know a teacher is working overtime (which means giving up time with their own family for your child), let them know that. I’m sure many of you already do, but if you don’t, please start.
Patterson Mill Teacher:
I don’t believe that I have seen the type of negative comments discussed directed toward the teachers. Take the time to look at the various issues discussed here, regarding most of the school yard stuff. I believe that the majority of the negative comments are at the BOE and Administrative level. If you want an even response on positives vs. negatives, try first looking at the stuff that comes from the HCPS. Tell me the last time you have seen a “negative” mentioned. I personally have taken the teachers side on any comment “my angel” either complains about or feels they are being wronged. The point is, I’m sure there are parents who always take the child’s side. But I would think that most of us, had pulled the same tricks with our parents without success. There are still bad teachers as in any profession–and including college professors or TA’s. Maybe I have misread your intent but from my perceptiion you certainly appear to have an attitude about PMMHS vs. BAMS. Perhaps disgruntled, I don’t get why that was mentioned–sounded angry? PS: I love most of the teachers and they are appreciated, I also, very much appreciate(and she does not need me to defend her, as someone else said) Cindy, who is always well informed and very versed on HCPS issues and passes that information on in many ways.. There is little transparency from the BOE and the HCPS staff. As an old proverb once professed “You can look it up” Thank you for your service. But please get off the “this is what they do in college” kick
By handful of top students going to JC, I meant two or three, so PMMHS teacher you are right.
One correction for PMMHS teacher. There were 4 students from the top class last year that went to John Carroll and 2 that went to SMA. I believe there were also one or two that went to Calvert Hall. Last year we figured out that about 20% of the top class did not go on the Patterson Mill High. Of the 3 students who made Straight A through Middle School last year, only one went on the PMHS. Major exodus?? Maybe not.
Patterson Mill Teacher says
I have clearly said in my posts before that I in no way am saying (or agreeing) that BOE and HCPS do not have problems. In fact, I think I have stated the opposite. I also understand that most of the comments on here are directed at them. What frustrated me is that because Cindy happens to have children that go to PMMHS then the articles always focus on us. It does make us feel attacked, whether we are administration or not. We are not the only school in the county using this grading policy. Additionally, Montgomery County uses the same system and has actually outlawed class participation as any part of a student’s grade. Their test scores and reputation within the state certainly is more prestigious than Harford County.
I have also stated that a vast majority of the parents and families I work with are outstanding and a joy to work with as are their children. I do not want people to misunderstand that and think I am “disgruntled.” Last year, many of us had to hear repeatedly, “Last year at Bel Air we………” As adults, we obviously knew it would be a tough transition for students, but a focus on what was is not going to change what is. I am 100% for taking ideas that worked from ANY school in the county, including BAMS and BAHS. It would be stupid not to. However, to do something simply because that’s they way we’ve always done it is a little too much for me. This doesn’t really relate to the homework policy, but for what it is worth…
To Margaret-I am not sure of an exact number since I do not work with 8th graders, but it seems like a majority of our students have stayed with us.
I do appreciate the people putting up the good fight. They are often fighting for the very same things I believe need to be changed as well. On the new grading system, I happen to disagree. Frankly, my grades this year are no different than last year. In any system, a student who masters the material will do well. Again, my point is not to attack Cindy (who I don’t even know), it is just to ask her to present a more balanced, and I believe, fair view of what it is like at PMMHS.
PM Teacher–“A majority of our students have stayed with us.” Is class size still more than 30 as it was for 8th graders last year?
What other schools are using this grade policy? Anyway you didn’t say what class you taught and you said you were in favor of this policy. You also stated that your grades hadn’t changed so I guess you weren’t experiencing the parents doing homework and the students not doing well on tests. Students are very upset about this too and are concerned that it puts too much emphasis on test performance. I know you feel that it is important for “college” but not all kids go to college and it’s not fair to compare a 14 year old freshman to an 18 year old college bound student.
I think you may be missing the point of why so many parents and students are upset about this. Parents were told that this homework policy was mandated by the county when in fact it was not. It was only after confronted with this, that parents were told otherwise. Again, not the first time nor the second time something like this has happened and it makes people doubt credibility. HCPS is still discussing this and many of the issues brought up here are ones that probably would be vetted out.
If you are aware of a particular outstanding event and/or teacher and PMMHS you are certainly free to discuss it here. I know that I always make sure to thank all of the teachers who do a good job but again I am not going to pretend like they all do. It is not equal and if your student gets one of the bad ones and then they are tested in that area … you may be in trouble. I asked you how you thought that could be remedied but you didn’t respond. I am curious to hear your response because I think that it is a problem that good teachers are frustrated with and again there is an administrator in the school supposedly dealing with such personnel, but there doesn’t seem to be any answer about what they do.
Patterson Mill Teacher says
First, let me thank YOU for thanking your child’s teachers who have been good. I know how much it must have meant to them.
I would prefer not to share my exact grade(s) or subject area. I certainly don’t know anyone’s exact name or relation to the school that is on here. It wouldn’t be really fair for you to know mine and could cause some difficulties.
I believe (but I could be wrong) that Edgewood is also using this system this year. It may be Aberdeen.
Additionally, I in no way meant to imply that every teacher is wonderful and does what is best for kids. Like any profession, there are good and bad, and I certainly will not say otherwise. I feel bad for students who end up with a teacher who is just here for a job. I have seen horrors myself.
As far as a remedy, I am not a huge fan of tenure for teachers. Yes, I know it protects us from zealous principals who may have it out for a certain teacher, but I think you should have to show each year that you are still working your tail off for the kids you serve. It makes good teachers just as angry as you when they work with others who do not care. Not to mention the fact that because of the salary scales, that teacher makes the same amount of money as someone putting in a lot of extra time and effort.
I can tell you, though, that most of the teachers at PMMHS do really care about what they do and do want the best for the kids they teach. Like all of us, they (we) are not perfect and make mistakes in the process. As a parent, I’m sure you have also made mistakes in doing what you thought was best for your child. Teachers may not always have the same opinions as you but it is unfair to assume that because of this they don’t care, although I don’t think that is where you are coming from. I just hope parents continue to take their frustrations out with those who have control over the decisions and not get so frustrated that it ends up being put on the teachers. I know that most of you on this site do that, so I am not accusing anyone of that.
I can understand your frustration at being told one thing only to find out that is wasn’t really the case. I certainly would have been bothered by that too. I am only saying to give something a chance before you dismiss it. As an honest question (no sarcasm or ill-willintended), are your children’s grades dramatically lower this year than in the past? If they are doing poorly on tests, do you think they should get an A or B because they do all their homework even if they haven’t really mastered the material? What would your solution be? It still seems like a mixed message to me: we don’t want grade inflation but we still want our kids to get honor roll. It creates a confusing situation for schools. However, I must say I have been met with more parents here than anywhere else who say, “I don’t care if my child gets an A. I rather them be challenged and get a B or C than cruise and get an A.” I really appreciate that and hope it is a trend that continues.
I fully understand that not all students go on to college. The same principle applies though–you have to perform when it counts. If someone is working construction, they have to be able to build the house. The don’t get extra points for bringing their tool belt ro working well with their co-workers. Additionally, at a school like PMMHS where family support and student ability are high, I think it is safe to say that more than 90% of our students (similar to Fallston, Bel Air, and CMW) will go on to some type of post-secondary education, so preparing them for college is something we need to think about. Again, there seems to be a mixed message. Some posters are saying they want to make sure their child has a strong college prep curriculum, but then someone else says “not every student goes to college” and then another parent says “get rid of the career training classes.” Again, what exactly do you want? My solution would to have a “college prep” career cluster that included an additional 2 years of a foreign language and a 4th science and social studies credit. That way students who were going on to college could complete their career cluster by taking courses that helped prepare for college and those students who were not going on could get some practical training.
None (maybe I should say the majority) of us are promoting treating 14 year old like college freshman. In many college classes, there are only 3 major assignments in a semester. Obviously some have more, but some also have less. We recently had a meeting, and it was stressed that there not be only one major test in a marking period. There needed to be enough summative assignments that a student could “bounce back” from a bombed test.
I don’t work with 8th graders but I think no (or very few) core classes in the middle school are over 30 at all this year. That is a function of how students are grouped and not total numbers. The three middle school grades have about the same numbers for each grade. I know the current 9th grade class is a little bit larger than other classes. We also have many students that transfer here because they have heard such great things about the school. So……it probably balances out.
Great idea, PM teacher, about a college prep cluster. Because let’s be realistic, many of us plan for our kids to go to college. We want them to get jobs when they graduate, but we think they are going to college. Not everybody goes, nor should everybody go, but they shoud be prepared.
Students who are college bound are not always getting great guidance from our much-overworked (and over-student-loaded) guidance counselors. I think they do all right for Maryland state schools, but for kids who are shooting a little higher, they need more. And the recent story about Andrew Berry illustrates how former HCPS students are achieving, but I would guess that there was some adjustment to the rigors of college his freshman year–as there is for most students.
The only down side of the college prep cluster with additional foreign language, etc., is that my bet is that that would be the cluster the majority of parents would want their kids to follow.
How about a story on those career clusters and how students choose the path as eighth grade students.
Unfortunately PMMHS teacher, part of the problem is when parents tell HCPS what they want no one listens …
I have grave concerns about implementing a policy and having the “wait and see” approach to the results. This is how the school system decided on CSSRP and you are bringing up some of the issues with that. They said years ago that if it didn’t work that they would change it back. Now we are stuck with something that is questionable and has been used unsuccessfully in many school districts and has been ignored by the school system. Rememer the open classroom idea of the 1970’s?
I think you are right in that every student is different but they are not being treated that way. HCPS systematically decided to make every school and almost every student adhere to the same standard under the heading of NCLB and consistentcy. It theory it sounds good but in practice like so many educational theories, it doesn’t work. Schools like PMMHS, Joppatowne, and HVDG have different challenges then schools that have closer to 1400 students. There are many more options and course flexibility. To get back to the issue of teachers too, when you only have one teacher teaching a course and the kids are stuck, you better believe people know about it and aren’t happy. You referenced the students talking about BAHS, well they did have many more choices there and considering ALL of the PMMHS students came from BAMS and BAHS, of course that is what they are comparing.
Here is another example of bureacratic nonsense and waste. Why are all students required to take LICW?? They aren’t at the SMA or in other magnets, so why should they be here or anywhere else? This class was blasted by an independent survey group commissioned by HCPS and they’ve done nothing about it which leads to the career cluster idea. This class was supposed to be the one that made the students decide what they wanted to do. My idea is to get rid of it completely or let it be an elective. We shouldn’t be trying to force kids into a career cluster without letting them explore a lot of electives. We also shouldn’t be treating all students the same and making them take the same route so we agree on that. Not all children are the same and it is unfair to the gifted students as well as the challenged students to lump them all in the same category which is why you are hearing different things from posters here. Not enough guidance or career or college counseling at ANY school. Also there is not any flexibility or very few options for vocational education which should be offered to students after they enter 9th grade (another discussion).
As far as the homework policy, I personally don’t believe in grade inflation. It gives the students a false idea about their prospects for college – if that is their goal. Also if other schools grades are higher because the students are getting more credit for homework, doesn’t that hurt the PMMHS students when they apply for college or scholarships? Honor roll is different at different schools and GPA for Honor Roll is much lower at PMMHS then at many other schools. I would suggest though that you talk to your students and see what they think since there was a petition given to the principal signed by almost 200 students. I think they have some interesting insight about its implications and very valid concerns. Also, it would seem to make sense to have different departments and department heads discuss their particular subject matter. That was suggested in the petition too. Many of the students (and parents) were frustrated by the change and felt like they were already trying to adjust to major changes at this school and something else is being thrust upon them. We all deserve a reasonable and thougtful explanation as to why it is being done and I’m not so sure that ever really happened.
Patterson Mill Teacher says
As far as LICW, I think that class makes much more sense as a class for seniors once it has been ramped up. However, I think it should be offered in two forms–college bound and workplace bound. Obviously, the college-bound version would focus on building the skills students will need to succeed freshman year in college to help alleviate the transition as much as possible. Topics could include time management, resisting peer-pressure, managing money and student loans (i.e. stay away from all the free credit card offers), living with a roommate, etc. The workplace bound would focus on more practical skills like securing an apartment, managing a savings and checking account, bill paying, etc. Maybe this would be best as a half year course taught during second semester (although you know seniors at the end of the year… :))
As far as change, I totally agree with you Elaine. Parents, students, and TEACHERS were all dealing with change last year. Yes, most if not all of the teachers wanted to come here, but it still involves a change. Change makes everyone anxious, and we fully understood the impact that would have on students. What was frustrating was when many people wanted to create a “mini-Bel Air.” As you said and I agree with, each school is unique and should cater to the individual needs of that school, so why would we want PMMHS to be just like Bel Air? Again, it seems like words and actions do not match. Certainly there are fewer choices in teachers teaching courses because of our size, but what about the choices regarding technology. Certainly, no one had to the choice of learning how a TV studio works at BAM/HS? There are positives too that shouldn’t been overlooked either.
As far as everything being “cookie cutter,” I have fought that myself in all of the schools were I have worked, so we can’t argue that point 🙂
No, Aberdeen doesn’t grade that way. Neither do Fallston and Bel Air. I can’t say for sure for the other schools, but have read that PMMHS is the only one.
As far as preparing students for college I think everyone needs to keep in mind that there is a difference between preparing them for college and treating them like they are IN college. Our high schools should not treat students like college students so it doesn’t really matter to me if colleges give grades for homework or not. For anyone interested, my oldest in a Freshman at Towson University and 2 of her classes do give grades for homework.
I think the career cluster idea should be gotten rid of completely. Tell the students their graduation requirements and let them choose the classes that best suit them. There is absolutely no reason to try to lump them all into groups.
To prepare kids for college high schools need to work on giving them top-level writing, math, and critical thinking skills. High schools should be high schools and concentrate on that–not what they think students might need when they major in what they think they might major in. Even kids who are not going to college need good math and writing skills. When was the last time you judged someone as ignorant because of how they wrote or said something?
Patterson Mill Teacher says
Judy—I agree with you 100%. In fact a study of employers names writing and critical reading as the number one skill that their new employees lacked.
Phil Dirt says
Sandy, you are completely correct. Colleges also don’t require you to attend all classes, and don’t make you bring a note from your mother if you are late. Should we implement those changes, too? HIgh school is high school, college is college.
Also, I agree that career clusters should go. Does anyone really know what they want to do at that age? I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was in high school, thought I had a clue when I entered college, and then changed my major during my junior year. When I graduated, I got a job in a related field but different than what I should have, based on my major. Give the students the opportunity to explore various areas and find what truly interests them, rather than forcing them to fit into a narrow cluster when all they are doing is making an uninformed wild guess at a future career.
I remember exactly what I wanted to be when I was in eighth grade: A CHEERLEADER!
Patterson Mill Teacher –I think our readers have done a fine job of addressing most of your concerns, but since some of your comments were directly at me personally, I guess I’ll take a crack at those.
While I celebrate good news, painting a positive or negative picture of Patterson Mill or HCPS is not my goal.
My goal is to advocate for an effective, efficient school system in order to promote excellence in our public schools. I believe strongly that an educated public is the foundation of our democracy, our freedom and our prosperity and it all begins with what happens every day in school.
In pursuit of that goal, I present issues in what I hope is an engaging way. I always study both sides and often provide links to my sources for readers to explore for themselves. Then I offer an opinion. You are welcome to agree or disagree (that’s why we have a comment section) but it’s an opinion expressed for a purpose. It may be to encourage a policy review, or to suggest improvements, or to fix a problem if it’s fixable and if it’s too late for a fix, at least to prevent a mistake from being repeated.
In order to address your charges that I am an “angry parent”, “basing PMMHS” and “promoting negativity”, I re-read all 4 of my stories mentioning Patterson Mill.
Three of the stories were about the design and construction of the building and the surrounding property, written with the expressed purpose of getting incomplete or improper work addressed. Not only would this directly benefit the students and staff at Patterson Mill, I hoped it would prevent the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars in new facilities without proper oversight in the future. To remain silent would have been irresponsible, given that this county is forward funding over $200 million in much-needed projects in Edgewood, Fallston, Bel Air and elsewhere.
The fourth story is the one above, which covers a proposed change in policy with important implications for the entire county. Patterson Mill happens to be where a form of the proposal is being implemented, making it a test case.
The point of each story is to spur improvements and that requires bringing attention to areas of concern. If you are looking for an equal number of “good” and “bad” stories, I understand why you are disappointed but I am on an entirely different mission. That is, to advocate for a cause or to explore an issue of consequence. In these stories, you will find no personal attacks. I don’t engage in them and I also do not respond to them. But I do thank Judy, Elaine and Carl for their kind words on my behalf.
In each of my stories, I mentioned the administration only when it was absolutely necessary. You could not know this, but I have purposely avoided certain reporting which might have been good muckraking, but would have served no purpose other than to cause embarrassment. I do not employ gratuitous attacks, but I also will not protect decision-makers from ownership of their decisions.
Please continue to share your thoughts on the issues. I’m enjoying the discussion on the homework policy and the developing one on career clusters and I hope, as always, that these discussions will be to the benefit of our public schools.
Patterson Mill Teacher says
It was very interesting to hear your point of view on things, and I appreciate your comments. As I said in an earlier post, I also applaud your willingness to be active and involved.
I totally agree with you that “an educated public is the foundation of our democracy, our freedom and our prosperity and it all begins with what happens every day in school.” I also do not have an issue with you poitning out improvements that need to be made. The point I was trying to make is that sometimes we learn just as much from looking at what IS working as we do from criticizing what is NOT working. Articles that focused on a program that is working or a teacher who has found a way to motiavte, push, or accelerate student progress would give us all guides of where the county needs to go. I’m not trying to be “Pollyanna” and say no negative articles should be written.
You mention that “our readers” have answered my prompts. Maybe I am getting too much into semantics here, and if I am I apologize, but does that not make me a reader. I have read all of your other articles as well. I may present a different, and yes sometime opposing perspective, but I think I am also a reader with a right to my opinion. Many people (not including you) were quick to attach when someone disagreed with the total bashing of HCPS and to a certain extent PMMHS that shows on many of these boards. An educated public also knows that good debates on both sides of an issue prompt wise decisions. It seems like you would agree with that.
My concern with this article is that the title is misleading to a certain extent. No one is suggesting that no more homework will be assigned in schools but you mention that possibility more than once in your article.
Regarding your professionalism in reporting responsibly, I truly appreciate and respect that. I certainly was not trying to attack you personally. However, in my original e-mail, most of my response was directed at posters who were less professional than you or who were presenting what I knew to be misinformation.
Again, I genuinely respect your passion for improvement. I am just asking you to consider some positive articles, not in contrast to your mission, but as part of it. We all want the children in our community to thrive and succeed. It is in all of our best interests.
I saw on another post that Judy wanted to be a cheerleader when she was in 8th grade. Judy maybe it is time to bring fulfill your childhood dream and do want you always wanted for PMMHS! (Just kidding Judy)
Sorry about that PMMS teacher, but I did watch some of the BOE meeting the other night and I did hear them talking about the school. Apparently the parent of the middle school student who was hit getting off the bus wrote a letter in praise of the principal, bus driver, and administration at PMMS. She said Mr. Thibeault gave the mother a ride or something. I didn’t hear the whole thing but it was read by one of the Board members. So there is GOOD news coming out of the school. I will tell you though that they would NEVER read a letter if someone had a similar complaint about something that happened in a school so if you feel slighted a bit here, there is no venue for parents to express their frustration and it would not be acknowledged publicly. Maybe that is why you are hearing some of what you are in this forum because parents get shot down repeatedly. They say they want parental involvement but what they really want is support of whatever the current policy is. Members of the school board don’t want to talk to parents either.
Thanks Kate. I lived the dream in high school. hahahaha
I head the Chancellor of Washington DC on the radio today talking about measurable student achievement and coming up with things that are “in the best interest of students.” She maintains that many of the operational problems with schools have to do with practices that are not in the best interest of children but instead are there for teachers and/or administrators.
I guess I am still wondering what prompted this change at this school and is this in students’ best interest? Since the PMMHS teacher thinks it is good, I’d like to hear how because I’m not hearing that from students. I also don’t want to hear how it prepares kids for college. That is an excuse and not a good one either becaues for every “we do this for college” I could find you an example of a college or class that does it another way. As far as I know too, not all of the students go to college and we should be talking about how to best educate them now when they are adolescents.