IMAGINED FODDER – AT A LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD – PERHAPS NEAR YOU ?
Re: Illinois. Significant policy changes were approved at the Glenbard District 87 School Board meeting on July 19, 2021. District 87 includes 4 high schools in the western suburbs of Chicago. Highlights of the meeting are recapped here.
There was capacity attendance with many attendees speaking in opposition to the new policies that they said would lower academic standards and significantly decrease consequences for student cheating. These policy changes were to be voted on at the July 19 meeting.
More than 2 dozen speakers represented a range of ethnically diverse, passionate parents, retired educators and concerned residents. They offered statistics/data, with referenced sources, to bear out their opposition, and shared personal stories; all to illustrate the adverse impact of lowered standards and expectations. None of the speakers were in favor of the policy changes.
Attendees questioned why a broad base of parents was not surveyed about proposed changes that were so significant. Attendees also noted that teachers and students were surveyed. Attendees raised many other specific questions. For example, attendees asked how students struggling with their studies can improve if they don’t receive a true assessment of what they really understand. They suggested that multiple retakes of a test will encourage recalling words that are “right answers” with no understanding of their meaning. Some attendees, through personal stories, explained how these policy changes could be most harmful to those students who struggle hardest to understand the material.
The Board did not suspend its parliamentarian rule of no direct responses to public comments and questions. The Board discussed some of the policy changes after public comment was closed. Two of the seven board members voted against the policy change for cheating on tests, all other changes were approved unanimously.
The Board passed all the proposed policy changes.
An interesting side note on transparency. The current Glenbard News Newsletter that was available at the meeting was entitled “… elements of framework for the new school year.” The 3 topics were: Covid; free breakfast/lunch day; and school fee waivers and eligibility. There was no mention of possible, upcoming policy changes regarding academic standards or consequences for cheating.
The following Line 1 (and 4 other lines) in 7:215 were deleted . . .
- Students caught cheating on a test or quiz will receive an automatic zero.
. . . and replaced by a single new Line 1 – that is now policy.
- A student engaged in academic dishonesty on an assignment/assessment will be required to redo/retake the assignment/assessment or a similar assignment/assessment.
COMPARE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY – between the U.S. Naval Academy . . . and Glenbard District 87
On August 20, 2021 the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Naval Academy’s Superintendent Vice Admiral Buck announced that 18 midshipmen were expelled from the Academy for cheating on a test in December 2020.
The Admiral said: “Character development is an ongoing process and midshipmen must make the choice to live honorably each day and earn the trust that comes with a commission in the Navy or Marine Corp. The incident demonstrates that we must place an increased focus on character and integrity within the entire brigade.”
In response, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (phone-202-225-3061; D-MD since 2003), Chairman of the U.S Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors stated on August 20, 2021: “The Academy’s Honor Code is clear and anyone who violates it must be held accountable. Midshipmen must earn the privilege to study at one of the nation’s prestigious institutions and their character and conduct must be worthy at all times.”
Follow-Up on the July 19th District 87 Meeting
Sometimes kids just do dumb things.
Is it best practice to respond to that reality by lowering student expectations?
For example, reasonable people could debate the best way to handle kids who cheat on tests. What to do?
Compromise? (i.e. stakeholders consulted)
Seeking feedback might have revealed both a ‘kindly’ yet ‘tough love’ compromise instead of the new District 87 policy on cheating. For example, one compromise might have been to give a warning to a first time ‘offender’ who is caught cheating. Any subsequent cheating, after a clear warning, would then result in the automatic zero as was the old policy.
Instead . . .
A Family Letter was sent to all Parents and Guardians in District 87 dated August 2, 2021. It announced the district-wide policy changes that were approved the previous month at the July 19th. meeting.
To provide complete transparency and full participation of all stakeholders for such significant policy changes, it would have been useful to send a Family Survey before, instead of a Family Letter after, the vote. The Family Survey could have clearly compared the proposed policy changes with current policies.
THANK YOU to District 87 for a lesson on how unpopular changes are implemented in the district.
LESSON LEARNED: Watch out for implementation of American History curriculum changes using 1619 Project guidelines.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE 1619 PROJECT – many might agree that it makes sense for school boards to send a Family Survey to question Parents and Guardians on their opinions regarding the 1619 Project. This would best be done before any policy or curriculum changes are made – with the results published before a school board vote on any changes.
A Family Survey should also include the NYT’s stated goal of the 1619 Project. “The goal of The 1619 Project is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year.” NYT 12/19/2019. The related Family Survey question might be “Do you agree we should consider changing the birth year of the United States from 1776 to 1619?”