My Turn: District changes are bad timing
June 30, 2009
I am always leery of being quoted in our local paper. It seems that due to page constraints or the complexity of the issues being covered, quoted material often misrepresents what was actually said and dilutes the main point of the speaker.
Such was the case in your June 26 article, and#8220;School Board Accepts and#8216;Final’ Budgetand#8221;. I was quoted as saying, and#8220;What’s difficult to take is how the budget situation has been intermingled with the reconfiguration of the educational model … We ask for a delay of that model.and#8221; The simple omission of the conjunction, and implies that the reconfiguration and the new RTI (Response to Intervention) model are one in the same, which they are not.
I’d like to take a moment to clarify what I said at the meeting to the public because the issues being dealt with in Tahoe Truckee Unified School District are extremely complex and the outcomes are tremendously important.
Further, throughout this year people involved in a variety of ways in education have had trouble understanding one another, and thus it has been difficult at times for all players to work together in order to best support the students who depend on this district for their future.
The main point that I wanted to make to the board is that if you are going to do something big, do it well. The budget deficit is big, and it needs to be handled in a straight-forward manner, without being complicated by reconfiguring the schools on the lakeside in a way that does not save money. It is not that some form of reconfiguration did not need to occur, but perhaps taking smaller steps that allowed the district to save money would have been timelier.
Further, the RTI model is a good model for many situations. However, given the budget issue and large numbers of layoffs, teachers do not currently have the materials, the training, or the support staff to implement the model in a high quality way, which of course is needed for high quality results. Furthermore, the mandatory implementation of this model, which was communicated during the last month of the school year, fails to recognize all of the measureable improvements that many schools have made year after year on state tests. At Alder Creek Middle School, where I teach, we have been collaborating (before PLC was even a term) for years in order to design lessons to meet the needs of the various learners in our classroom, and it worked! We continue to refine our teaching and respond to the needs of our students in order to ensure their success.
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Unfortunately, when dramatic changes to school programs are made without support, training, and materials; it is difficult to do them well. Nevertheless, I am confident the teachers of the district will rise to the challenge of both the reconfiguration and the RTI model to create the best possible learning opportunities for their students.
Stephanie Bacon is a Truckee resident.
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