- Vox Populi » Judge finds that Epicurean worker has right to seek compensation in civil case on Epicurean faces multiple lawsuits from employees
- Nico Dodd on Critical Voices: Snoop Lion, Reincarnated
- Senior on Biracial student snubbed by Georgetown cultural society
- Asma on GenderFunk a crass caricature of a complex trans identity
- Brad M. Seraphin on Evading etymology eschews the excitement of English
Photos from Flickr
Education reforms require public comment
In August, the D.C. Board of Education submitted a proposal draft that changes the District’s high school graduation requirements, which, subject to a public review, will be finalized by the board in February 2013. While the proposed changes are a mixed bag, it is essential that this public comment period is faithfully executed—with well-publicized, accessible meetings across the city.
Among the proposed reforms, high school students would still be required to earn twenty-four credits to graduate, but those credits would be allocated differently. Instead of earning one half-credit in art and one half-credit in music, students would have to earn two credits in either art or music, depending on preference. Health classes and physical education requirements would also increase from one-and-a-half to two credits. Other changes include the requirement of a thesis project and 50 hours of required physical activity.
To make these changes, the Board had to sacrifice credit requirements in social studies, a move that has been heavily criticized. The requirements would be reduced from four to three credits, which means that World History would be reduced to only one class and U.S. History and Government would be consolidated into a single class.
The Board has not provided convincing and thorough arguments to support these changes. Jack Jacobson, a community activist and State Board of Education candidate, wrote in Greater Greater Washington that the proposal “only gives at most eight words of explanation for any of the changes.” Some of the Board’s rationale, including the brief“promotes well-rounded students,” is uninformative and vague.
The Board also doesn’t have a strong history of enforcing its curricular changes. In 2007, the Board adopted a thesis project as a requirement, but never enforced it. D.C. Schools Insider writer Emma Brown reports that because this change wasn’t integrated into the overall curriculum, many students found out at the 11th hour that they were in danger of not graduating.
It is critical that the Board make room for more comment and criticism from community members, parents, and teachers; and not just through Board meetings. According to Jacobson, most parents cannot attend these meetings, making it improbable that there will be enough people to contest bad proposals.
To make the period more efficient, it is necessary to bring this public comment period to the people and adopt new forums of debate in addition to the already established Board meetings.
Regardless of the curriculum decision, the Board should make a greater effort to enforce positive changes. Making reforms on paper is useless if the changes are not actually implemented. Our schools desperately need reform, but the Board of Education should remain conscientious of the opinions of the people who know students best—students, teachers, and parents.