The Dallas Home Rule Charter Commission has begun its series of community input meetings they call a “listening tour.” The Commission is to be commended for soliciting input from stakeholders before writing (or not writing) a home-rule charter to be presented to voters. The community is invited to attend and make comments.
The Pro Home Rule support staff (Commit!? Morath? Allyn Media?) has developed and circulated their latest list of “Why We Need Home Rule” recommendations to be presented at these events.
If you make it to one of these meetings (and you certainly should!) you’ll hear these talking points over and over, delivered haltingly by Todd! shills who just had their speaking part handed to them minutes before.
Or maybe you won’t hear the same ones. Apparently there is an endless supply of obscure you would never think of that reasons for scrapping the Dallas Independent School District and replacing it with charter schools. I’m sure these 20 are only the tip of the iceberg.
Actually, I feel kind of silly for stooping to the level of these people, debating issues that we all know are NOT the reason Todd! and Company want to take over the district. But it’s fun, and maybe we’ll come up with some real suggestions for improvement in the commenting process. So here goes with one of the suggestions, taken at random from the list of 20 claimed to be authored by Home-Rule supporter and long- time Woodrow activist parent Susan Schuerger.
Create a more flexible minimum attendance standard (aka 90% rule) for students to receive credit for a class.
• Opting out of the 90% attendance standard would leave discretion as to passing or failing a class to the teacher and administration.
• Students are required to attend 90% of all classes in order to get credit for those classes. Even if the student is making an A+ in the class, or if school approved field trips are the reason a student drops below the threshold, the principal must develop a bureaucratic and burdensome paperwork process to ensure the student has completed work or spent time to make up the shortfall.
• Students who miss class for no academic reasons are allowed to make up that time at Saturday school, often at 2:1, 3:1 and even 4:1 time-missed to hours-made-up ratios, which cannot possibly meet the standards of rigor and content coverage demanded during regular class time.
• No recognition is given to out-of-class time spent on educational endeavors, even if they are directly and substantively related to the content and activities of the class. This process encourages seat time to the detriment of content knowledge, whole world experience and creative instruction, while also increasing principal paperwork duties to no benefit of student achievement.
I can see the heads nodding in agreement. Why shouldn’t Johnny get school credit for a safari with Gramps? And Susie should get something for all that modeling work she does for JCPenney! Who made these silly rules anyway?
Actually this is a hypocritical rationale for abandoning attendance policy that accomplishes pretty much nothing. On the one hand, we are told teachers and administration should have discretion in deciding whether to pass or fail a student that has missed more than 90% of a class and then we are told that absence make-up schemes devised by these same teachers and administrators are shams that cannot possibly meet the standards of rigor and content coverage demanded during regular class time.
Um, didn’t you just say schools should have that flexibility and discretion? Or is it that you want discretion without that “burdensome” paper trail? When does approved “whole world experience” stop and goofing off begin?
Current Board policy clearly outlines the power principals have to approve absences for field trips and travel that has educational value. But apparently that is too restrictive for Home Rule supporters.
“No recognition given to out-of-class time spent on educational endeavors”? ‘Splain that to me, Lucy. Is this the new touchy-feely Dallas Home Rule District, where an endless parade of 160,000 students lines up outside the principal’s office to make their case for their three week educational tour of Florida? No messy paperwork, mind you, just tell me what you saw. Maybe throw in a few measurements of Mickey’s head and I’ll give you some Math credit.
How long before college recruiters get wind of the loosey goosey creative instruction and credit candy the Dallas Charter District is handing out? There are already plenty of jokes about DISD diplomas and necessary paper, we certainly don’t need any more. Prime Prep Charter Academy has shown us how to derail a promising athlete’s career with substandard classes, why would we consider doing the same and call it a “benefit?”
Certainly some kids have been caught up in the absence bureaucracy. Lengthy illness, elite level sports participation outside of the UIL , family emergencies; we all know of situations with consequences that sometimes seem to defy common sense.
Certainly we all know the attendance make-up schemes some principals have devised are as dicey as those foam blocks hanging from the rearview mirror.
Certainly kids should be encouraged to get out and go places and do things.
But scrapping attendance policy and replacing it with a free for all benefits no one. Most rules happen because someone somewhere abused the freedoms they had been given.
Where is the assurance from home rule folks that freedom from attendance rules will bring creativity and knowledge and not chaos?
I can be persuaded. Go for it.