This week's Amherst Bulletin was full of education news, so I wanted to get those stories posted quickly.
First, there is a longer version of the story I posted earlier this week from the Gazette on the superintendent search committee (http://www.amherstbulletin.com/story/id/193375/). I am honored to have been chosen by the Amherst School Committee to participate on this committee, and think this is a great group of people to conduct the screening interviews. I look forward to our interviews on January 11th and 12th--and to announcing the three finalists to the School Committee on Wednesday, January 12th.
Second, there is a story on the discussion about elementary math from the last School Committee meeting (http://www.amherstbulletin.com/story/id/193365/). We had a long discussion about this issue -- one I know is of concern to many parents -- at our meeting on Tuesday, December 21st so I encourage those interested to watch the meeting on ACTV. I really hope that the administration chooses to appoint a broader council to review the elementary recommendations in particular (the current math curriculum council has no representation from Wildwood parents at all), and that an action plan is developed to implement changes in our math program in time for the start of the 2011-2012 academic year. As I noted at the meeting, the dissatisfaction with elementary math has been widely-known at least since 2007 (when Jere Hochman first appointed a math curriculum council, of which I was a member), and these kids don't get to make up these lost years that we spend discussing what to do.
Third, there is an article describing the issue of study halls in the high school, as discussed at the last Regional School Committee meeting (http://amherstbulletin.com/story/id/193355/). I remain concerned that students at ARHS have had mandatory study halls (sometimes as many as 2 per year) whereas students in other high schools in our area haven't had such a requirement. It certainly seems like students should be able to fill their school day with classes (which could also allow kids to broaden their exposure to things like art and PE), and I hope the budget proposal we receive in January includes no required study halls.
Finally, there are a few brief assorted updates on school issues that may be of interest to parents and community parents (http://www.amherstbulletin.com/story/id/193364/). This story includes the names of those on the 6th Grade Task Force, an announcement that Steve Rivkin will be out of the country for about a month and a half on a Fulbright scholarship, and Kip Fonsch's recommendation that the schools steer some students to trade schools instead of the high school.
Note: I'll be away for much of the next week, without consistent access to email, so apologies if responses aren't posted quickly. Best wishes to all for a relaxing holiday season!
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.