My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Amherst Meeting, November 18, 2008

This meeting began with two comments from the audience that touched on issues of academics. First, Steve Rivkin expressed concerns he had heard from parents that the math curriculum report presented a few weeks ago did not allow adequate time for questions. He also raised the issue of whether using "math coaches" was the best use of resources in these tough budget times. Then, Janet McGowan asked whether a decision has been made about the Impact I math books for 6th graders. I noted that this decision has not been made, but would be made by teachers (and ultimately selected by the superintendents).

The School Committee then heard a report on the world language program at Wildwood Elementary School. Briefly, Matt Behnke, Wildwood principal, reported that the program is going well and is exciting for teachers and children. He also noted some scheduling challenges, but he feels those can be resolved.

A number of questions were then raised about this program. I asked questions regarding how teaching Chinese fits in in terms of time to teach other subjects, and whether we would begin teaching world languages in the other elementary schools in the near future (it does seem like Wildwood is having a very different experience than the other 3 elementary schoools). I also expressed a desire for our committee to hear the report on world language, which was done this summer (and includes proposals for having world language expanded into the other schools). Other questions were raised about the budget implications of teaching world language and the benefits from talking to other districts with world language at the elementary school level to get information about managing logistics.

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