Danel Nerad, stop shutting out student input

Natalia Thompson:

A case in point: When a class of local elementary school students wrote emails to district officials last year expressing their disappointment over a canceled field trip, the district responded by reprimanding their teacher. (See “The Danger of Teaching Democracy,” 2/7/08.) Apparently, Rainwater didn’t appreciate the teacher’s efforts to give her students a little civics lesson.
That’s not to say the district doesn’t listen to students at all. Each year, students complete a school climate survey, which gathers their opinions on the fairness of school policies and the effectiveness of support services.
But if students want to share what’s on their minds on their own terms? Forget it.

4 thoughts on “Danel Nerad, stop shutting out student input”

  1. Regarding those climate surveys that the district collects each year, it might be nice if that data was shared with the stakeholders. I, and many other parents, would like to know if the climate in our schools is changing (for better or worse), and I think we deserve to know that information.

  2. I laughed out loud when I read this article’s title. As best as I can tell, Dan Nerad just took over the MMSD reigns a scant 3.5 weeks ago. He hasn’t “shut out” student input, at least not yet. Now, you could certainly accuse Art Rainwater of doing this, but Mr. Nerad?
    The idea of sharing the climate survey data isn’t new. I’m pretty sure that the results are contained in each school’s SIP (school improvement plan). SIPs are, however, not done annually. One of the items that the Equity Task Force pushed for was to make the Climate Surveys more thorough and more public (SIPs are a bitch to access because of their volume). But it sure wouldn’t be difficult for an executive summary of each SIP to be made public, and I seem to recall that part of the new Equity Policy called for some type of report to be made available to the Board and public for each school on an annual basis. Of course, these Climate Surveys are only accurate if there is a large percentage of participation in the survey. 100 Climate Surveys don’t mean much at a 2500 student high school.

  3. I have a basic problem with the climate survey. The forms are not really collected in an anonymous way. They are collected by the classroom teacher. Every year at Thoreau Elementary I filled out the form but could not bring myself to send it in to the teacher after giving a negative response to “teacher provides adequate challenge” or “teacher/school creates a safe environment”. I realize the forms don’t call for our names, but it would be pretty easy for the teacher to figure out who wrote it. I thought about taking the form directly to the principal’s office but if I was the only one to do this, that would be a problem too.
    It is the current teacher and principal who decide on which teacher your child will get the following year in elementary school. So why would I want to inflame them?
    There must be a more anonymous way to get that info to where it needs to go.

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