Thursday, September 25, 2014

Student Revolt in Jefferson County, Colorado

High school students in Jefferson County (part of the megalopolis of Denver) are now on day four of a walk out, in protest of their school district.  A "Massive Protest" is occuring outside of one of the high schools in the area today, in which 1,000 high school students from two different high schools are participating. What' gives?

Well, in part, getting a walk out rolling in nice weather probably isn't as hard as it might seem, but beyond that the protests are focused on the following, according to the Denver Post:
Community members are angry about an evaluation-based system for awarding raises to educators and a proposed curriculum committee that would call for promoting "positive aspects" of the United States.
I'm not sure what an "evaluation based system for awarding raises to educators" actually means.  That's vague enough that, without further explanaion, it'd be hard to know what they're talking about really. As for the curriculum, the post reports the following:

The curriculum proposal, crafted by board member Julie Williams, calls for a nine-member panel to "review curricular choices for conformity to JeffCo academic standards, accuracy and omissions," and present information accurately and objectively.

Williams' proposal calls for instructional material presenting "positive aspects" of U.S. heritage that "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights."  Materials should not, it says, "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."
Interesting how this has worked. The students apparently are offended and feel that they're going to be fed propaganda, and are reacting.  So, accidentally, the materials are resulting in civil disorder and social strife.

Logic would or should dictate that students just get the straight scoop on stuff, whatever that is, science, history, or whatever. In recent years that has always been the case, on the political right or the political left.  At least in Jefferson County, students appear to have taken note to some extent.

Of course, the nice weather doesn't hurt either.


LeAnn28 said...

While the wording "evaluation-based system for awarding raises to educators" is quite vague, this has been the recent wave sweeping the country related to the recent education legislation passed by Congress during Obama's first term of office. This is a separate but related item to the Common Core. Common Core is a new set of standards that is supposed to make public education across the country somewhat similar, at least more similar than it is now. We've discussed that before. The evaluation systems that were in place in many areas of the country simply allowed for teachers to gain tenure after 3 or so years of teaching and then not be evaluated after that, or be evaluated in a very simplistic manner, making it difficult to fire bad teachers. The new evaluation systems that local jurisdictions are changing to must take into account some form of student performance as part of the rating of the teacher. Some places have put more weight on student performance than others. I believe the law says up to 50% of the evaluation should be based on student performance. Student performance could be on things such as standardized tests, grades, or a combination of those factors. Especially for areas that don't have a standardized test such as history, this becomes difficult to determine what means will be taken into account. In my state, we now have things called Student Learning Objectives (SLOs). We write two of them every year based on baseline data (where the students are currently performing) and then determine how much the sub-groups of students will grow (the group that scored 50% or below will improve to...), etc. Then, we collect data throughout the year, and have check-ins with our principal or assistant principal at the mid-year and end of year to determine if we met our targets, by how much, etc. to determine if we are effective, highly effective, proficient, or not proficient. It is VERY difficult to attain "highly effective" due to all of the factors that are taken into account (observations, etc.).

Pat and Marcus said...

The protest has apparently spread to teachers now, with some calling in sick or taking a personal day to absent themselves. The school district is threatening to discipline them.