Students’ Bill of Rights
Well this is it…. well almost. This week is the last week of ‘classes’ or ‘school’ at the Granite School District. Phew! We will all agree that this was very challenging for educators, students, parents and administrators alike. I have witnessed countless heroic and heartwarming stories, but I have also heard of the challenges of switching to distance learning so suddenly. Our teachers have done an amazing job, and parents will truly appreciate them for the heroes that they are. Expectedly however, this has not always been a smooth transition and our teachers are also reporting unprecedented levels of exhaustion.
As superintendent Sidnee Dickson explained during her talk at the Eccles School of Business last Friday, the state is already planning for a few scenarios for the fall, some of which will involve continuing distance learning.
So the uncertainty that we have experienced in the last few months is here to stay. So let’s use the summer months and capitalize on the lessons learned by all of us before the summer break hits and we gleefully forget about our experience hoping to put it behind us.
I suggest a simple survey sent to each parent, student and educator, of their ‘top 3’. Top three things that worked well, and top three things that did not. Such a student / parent survey would be easy to compile for each teacher and for each school, and results could be shared within a school, and across schools. So that if we have to return to some form of distance learning, our educators would have the benefit of their own experience, as well as useful feedback from their students as well.
We are soon wrapping up this strange school year.
Below is an easy reference to the dismissal grading scale implemented by the Granite School District due to Covid-19 for the 4th quarter of the school 2019-2020.
Click here to access the granite school website and see more details on the options possible.
The Utah State Board of Education recently outlined their plan for students to recover from the slowdown or lack of learning. You can read the complete document here. Highlights are below.
Yet, I wonder how realistic this plan is. In the Salt Lake Tribune article evokes another reality. “It’s been 5 weeks and thousands of Utah students still haven’t logged on for school amid the coronavirus“
By the end of the school year, the article that about 20% of the students will have missed about 2 months of learning. What will our percentage be in the Granite School District ? Granted, we can take out a few days for spring break, and time for testing, but overall, this is a massive amount to make up, especially if you have no internet access, no computer, no parent to guide you over your homework of a combination of these (I applaud GSD’s valiant effort to palliate internet and computer access).
I am grateful that the Utah State Board of Education is planning the recovery phase that will no doubt come, even if comes later than planned.
But I am not sure that planning on summer months for the phase 2 and bridging the learning gaps will be either practical or sufficient in a number of cases. And what are the implications of not being able to catch up during the summer months on the upcoming school year, even assuming that we’d all start school in August ?
I know that some teachers are already adjusting their lesson plans and building more review time at the beginning of the year. Will this more sufficient ? We will also need to worry about the grades the students are going into, dedicating perhaps additional resources for some critical grades? But this may not be enough: it will likely take more creativity and the proverbial ‘village’ to ensure that all students are caught up.
I’d like to see the Granite School District create a position that would ensure that all catch up efforts are coordinated, best practices disseminated across our schools and teachers, and results carefully tracked.
If elected on the board, following up on this issue will be my first and highest priority.
A few days ago, Mr. Robins was announced as the new superintendent for the Canyons district. Mr. Robins will replace Mr. Briscoe who is retiring.
This is noteworthy news, because of Mr. Robins’s accomplishments at the Juab district where he served as superintendent.
Mr. Robins has an impressive resume and the trust of the Canyons school board who unanimously voted for his appointment.
Please read the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune articles below for more information. https://www.deseret.com/utah/2020/4/14/21220596/canyons-school-district-selects-rick-robins-as-new-superintendent
What interested me greatly was the fact that under Mr. Robins’s leadership, the Juab district has emerged as a national leader in competency-based education and personalized learning.
The accomplishments of Juab school district are described in the Deseret News article.
“In 2015, the school district was inducted into the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, which recognizes some of the nation’s most innovative and forward-thinking school models. There are only 114 districts which have earned that distinction in the nation. In 2018, Juab School District was honored at the National School Boards Convention by the Center for Digital Education .”
I am also impressed by Mr. Robins’ priority in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, both in bridging the academic gap and taking care of the looming mental health crisis. As reported in the SL Tribune, “A lot of students, Robins said after the announcement, will likely come back with new fears and concerns, and some with ongoing ones. His goal will be making sure all have a place to go to talk about what they’re experiencing.”
I applaud his priorities as I believe that these should also be front and center in our district.
Congratulations, Mr. Robins, on your new appointment.
We will all remember this school year 2019-2020, won’t we ?
The end of the school for the Granite School District was planned for May 22nd, 2020. March 16th, when the soft closure was announced by the Governor to the end of May 2020 is a period 10 weeks. 10 weeks of uncertainty, financial anguish, exhausting role-changing, responsibility-juggling, disease-worrying times. Say no more.
We will survive this once in a lifetime pandemic. But we do have to acknowledge the losses that this crisis forced us into and the challenges ahead.
Besides the obvious ones, I’d like to consider a few school-related ones.
Awards were given and earned by terrific teachers and students, but went pretty much unnoticed.
I’d like to acknowledge the Sterling Awards, made official on March 19th.
A large number of these remarkable young students came from our Granite School District. The ceremony was cancelled, but let’s recognize them here.
GENERAL STERLING SCHOLAR (English category) – Cindy Phan, Skyline High School
Runner-up: Lily Bruce, Skyline High School.
Winner: Zoe Schramm, Olympus High School
Seyij Jung, Skyline High School
Winner: Sreemanti Dey, Skyline High School
Runner-Up: Julane Machado, Skyline High School.
Runner-Up: Nicholas Heiner, Skyline High School.
Congratulations to these fine young students for a well deserved award. We admire and respect you !
Also, the Granite School District Excel Awards have not been officially announced yet. Our fantastic teachers and administrators will need to be recognized by all of us in style at some point.
Saying goodbye !
We have missed our teachers, and our teachers have missed our kids. It would have been nice to part as we do other years. We will find a way to say goodbye, but it will involve a safe physical distance.
Seniors will miss a typical graduation and will have to have find a way to a different, still meaningful but safe rite of passage. Students have been surveyed and schools are hard at work coming up with an acceptable alternative.
As we are in the middle of a 10-week period of soft-closure, I am very concerned that a large number of our students have fallen through gaping cracks. Yes, parents now understand better what teachers have been doing in the classroom. I hope that this gives a much larger appreciation for our teachers. But how is the Granite School District planning on addressing the little learning that has happened in so many households ?
If I am elected on the board, I will make it my number 1 priority for the upcoming school year.