East High Student Insurrection Over Proposed Curriculum Changes?

Andy Hall:

“This is a discussion killer and it’s an education killer because it’s going to make kids feel uncomfortable,” Collin said Monday of the emerging plan, which would take effect in the fall.
This morning, Collin and other students – he says it may involve 100 of the school’s 1,834 students – plan to protest the planned changes by walking out of the school at 2222 E. Washington Ave. Some may try to meet with Superintendent Art Rainwater at his Downtown office.
East Principal Alan Harris said he’s heard talk of a student protest. Students refusing to attend class would be dealt with for insubordination, he said, and could face suspension, particularly if he determines their conduct is unsafe.
Harris said he’s met with parents, staff members and students, and more private and group meetings are planned, to hear their concerns.
However, Harris said he believes he remains on the right track. East, he said, must change.

Read the extensive discussion on the Madison School District Administration’s High School redesign plans here. The Madison School Board will meet to discuss the proposed high school changes on November 27, 2006.
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7 thoughts on “East High Student Insurrection Over Proposed Curriculum Changes?”

  1. The proposed changes are so sad. No one seems to notice or care that 31% of East 10th graders are not at grade level in math and 30% can’t read at grade level. No one has explained how the East changes will help these students. So sad.

  2. The patent administration strategy is: redesign and implement first, “allow for” community input on the fait accompli after.
    Rinse and repeat. Heads up Memorial.

  3. Great!!! Suspend students for demanding to be challenged!!! What a message we’re sending when the kids want a better education than the administrators want to provide them. We might be better off if we put these TAG students in charge of the schools.

  4. What assessments, lessons learned from West High’s 9th and 10th grade changes, have been completed? How has all student’s learning/achievement improved? What issues for those children not making progress – reading, math (other levels) prior to entering high school? What were the levels for a cohort of high schoolers in elementary and middle school?
    Where’s the coordination, communication with the School Board, with the public in an ongoing manner? I would think the high school principals are responsible for determining what is needed in the schools they manage and for recommending that changes are needed to their administrative superiors who in turn go to the School Board for discussions, decisions, directions, etc. I’m not in the East High parent loop, but from what I have read, the principal’s “announcements” seem premature. I know next year’s registration process drives some deadlines; but, as an outsider who tries to follow the education issues, some steps before the deadline date seem to be missing.
    Personally, at next monday’s school board meeting on high school design, I would like to see the School Board have a discussion about roles, responsibilities and direction in major design changes, curriculum, etc. Without any clear, written information on curriculum process, design process – there’s way too much “wiggle” room and opportunities for murky accountability pathways back to goals and expectations. The bulk of the “heavy lifting” with any changes will rest with the staff, but the School Board sets the policy and expectations. I hope some of these issues are hashed out at next week’s meeting on high school redesign.
    Lastly, does anyone know what curriculum assessment and planning teams are in place as a result of last year’s changes to course offerings in the middle school, high school? Are parents and the community invited to be active participants, not simply receivers of information? How’s that being handled in an ongoing manner?

  5. I guess what I do not get is why isn’t the Performance and Achievement Committee actively part of this process? I don’t have a pro or con opinion re. East High’s changes, per se, and I would certainly want staff to be encouraged to continually assess what is working/not working and needs change – for all Madison’s kids.

  6. I am more concerned that the district isn’t researching who are the kids who are struggling. Maybe these kids are new to the district, and the district needs courses for those new students. Maybe the kids who are struggling have been in the district from the start, and what really needs improvement in the elementary or middle school programs. Starting a redesign at the top doesn’t make sense unless the district is figuring out where it is failing. Band aids don’t fix everything.

  7. So can East students refuse to attend class as a form of protected-speech protest? Did West sudents try this in the aftermath of their “redesign”? Protest being a Madison tradition, I’d expect that any punishment meted out by the East High administration would be both a slap on the wrist and a badge of courage.
    You really can’t blame these students for being pissed off. It seems to me that as long as their parents comply with the statute that ALLOWS them to skip school for any reason they so choose (that same one that allowed attendance at the Immigration Rally this past May), there isn’t much the MMSD can do..besides, they’re TAG kids, it’s not as if they are troublemakers with disciplinary records (though certainly some have them).

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