A K-12 View from 35,000 Feet

I happened to sit next to the Curriculum Coordinator (20+ years in that District) for a large, growing US School District recently ( north of 100,000 students). I found some of the comments interesting:

  • They cycle through superintendents every 2 to 3 years. The Supers are paid $300K+ with “lots of benefits”.
  • The new super is decentralizing all over the place, pushing control down.
  • They use trailers as enrollment moves around the community.
  • The new super wants to require any children in grades K-3 not reading at grade level to have only one task per day (beyond lunch, recess and PE) – read. This involves tracking.
  • I asked what sort of curriculum they used for reading: Whole language with “lots of phonics”. I asked if they used Reading Recovery. The person said that they evaluated RR but felt it was “far too expensive”.
  • Offer a great deal of IB and AP courses. They also have magnet schools, though the person said that they are less popular now that the district has gone back to neighborhood schools (evidently there was a successful reverse discrimination lawsuit). They have evidently received “a great deal of federal funds” to support IB and AP.
  • 8th graders who cannot read at grade level will go to a different set of curriculum or school than those who are at or above.

This district spends about $7,900 per student annually (Madison is in the $12,500 range).
Interestingly, this is the 2nd time during the past 12 months that I’ve sat next to an educator on their way to a conference sponsored by curriculum publishers.

3 thoughts on “A K-12 View from 35,000 Feet”

  1. Sounds like someone is thinking “outside of the box”. That’s something that I have yet to witness from those in charge in Madison. At $7,900 vs.$12,500 per student it would appear there’s no excuse for the current cries of budget deficits and those meanies in the state legislature.

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