‘SCHS’s dogma of the day’

To some within the Fayette County Board of Education, Sandy Creek High School’s seven-period day schedule may seem excessive and even unfair relative to scheduling at the other high schools. Academic teachers receive two “off“ periods (one being a traditional planning period and the other being a Professional Learning Community, or PLC, period designated for sharing best practices, staff development, etc.).

Having served under this model for two years now, most staff considers the schedule championed by Dr. Evan to be a blessing for which I’m personally very grateful. But when allotted time is used for touting educational dogma not endorsed by the majority of the community or teachers (and quite possibly the scholarly community), I see it as my responsibility to expose such absurdities.

Wednesday, April 23rd was designated for department PLC “learning day” meetings with a focus on “differentiated instruction and standards-based grading.” The presenters, one being a school assistant principal, the other a SPED teacher with experience mostly outside the secondary level, started off the meeting saying, “We can go toe to toe and debate tomorrow, but let’s wait until then.”

So we’d have to swallow the pill and accept their suggestions since we weren’t meeting “tomorrow,” an obvious out for them with no recourse for us. Of course all of the teachers present assumed immediately that we were going to be presented with something controversial based on the divisive mood set by the presenters. We were right!

The main presenter (again, an SPED teacher who’s spent most of her career teaching outside the secondary level) revealed via PowerPoint her audacious opinion: “It is best for teachers at Sandy Creek High School to not present students with zeroes on assignments they don’t turn in” (a concept I naively bought into right out of undergraduate school as a rookie and have since rejected).

Her reason being that it destroys student morale (the other side of the coin of course being that such practices create mediocrity and exacerbate exactly that which the presenter claims she wants to prevent).

Now, as educators we all have our opinions regarding best practices, but what bothered me was that this woman received the blessing of the administration to present her opinion to her colleagues, most of whom have taught at the secondary level for much longer than she, within a forum that was supposed to be used for professional development, not preaching methodological dogma. Instead, much of the time was taken up with teachers arguing, something I’m assuming the powers that be knew would occur.

When challenged by us, the SPED teacher said, “Well, I’m an advocate for students, not for teachers.”

This of course heightened the tension in the room with her sheer arrogance and blatant lack of respect for us, some of whom are doctors of education, by implying her opinions put students first while ours did not.

Needless to say, after her ideas were presented with the blessing of the administration, the entire PLC period was a wash.

It is my belief that the specific ideas expressed by the presenters in no way represent the standards and expectations of most students and parents in Fayette County, yet such ideas were pushed on us. I just thought you all should know.

Sandy Creek teacher
Name withheld by request

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