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Friday, July 06, 2007

Agenda for July 11th Board Meeting

The agenda for next week's Board meeting has been posted and has several interesting items. One is a renaming for High Point Elementary (which has Fairmount Park now joining it). There had been a survey about renaming it and the pick is West Seattle Elementary.

The most interesting is the revisions to the visitors to school policies. There would be a revision to limit the number of visits to two per year per school from any military, college or career group. Not sure if means all military or two per Navy, Marine, etc.

They would also be adopting a new procedure for allowing outside group research in schools. It also includes a new provision:

"It also is amended to allow parents/guardians and/or students to select to have directory information not disclosed to outside individuals or organizations and that such a selection shall remain in place for the duration of a student’s secondary educational years. The procedure is amended to also require that an annual report on the number of students who opt-out of providing information to the military be provided in an annual report to the Superintendent."

I would think this is so parents don't have to try to remember to opt out every year if they so choose. One issue with the opt-out of the directory information is that an issue came up last year at Hale where the yearbook staff left out about a quarter of the graduating seniors. (It's a long story but basically there were major oversights and they did not even include a "not pictured" page. You can imagine how devastated those seniors were.) I was told that my son wouldn't have been included anyway because signing the opt-out form for the directory would mean he couldn't appear in the yearbook anyway (nonetheless, they did still print our grad ad). I wonder if the Board realizes this is an issue or not.

The last piece of this is the following:

"C15.00 is revised to require that an annual report be issued to the Superintendent from each high school estimating post graduation plans. The policy also incorporates a State regulation that all students have in place an educational plan for what they plan to do the year following graduation."

I had been pondering the high school graduation requirements because of Lisa Stuebing's campaign plank on the issue of dropouts. She's entirely right that there are too many and something has to be done. I have told many friends and relatives throughout the country about our graduation requirements and it seems we are unique in how much is required. Many states require students to take but not pass their state test to graduate. Additionally, I haven't found any districts that require community service and/or a senior project. (Not that they don't likely exist but I haven't found them.)

What I had been wondering (and high school counselors are the likely people to ask about this) is whether it is foolish to put so much on students to graduate. To wit, if the problem is getting kids to pass their classes with a 2.0 and pass the WASL, then shouldn't the emphasis be there? I wonder if counselors have struggling kids who say, "I can barely maintain a 2.0, I still have to retake the WASL and I don't have the time for a project and community service." Would more kids graduate if they didn't have as much to do? Is academics/WASL more important than service learning/senior project for struggling students?

I do believe the community service is good thing and has valuable lessons. I just wonder if it were 40 hours (10 per year) if it would be more doable. I'm pretty sure community service is just SPS.

I think the senior project is useless mainly because every high school makes up its own "senior project", grades it and I don't see how any real value can be placed on it. It can be as easy or hard as any given school wants it to be. It's not like students won't have to research and present a project sometimes during their high school career. They would have to be at the most lax high school ever. The senior project is a state requirement.

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