June 15, 2011 12:31:00 PM
In 2009, we challenged Columbus schools to implement an innovative 11-month "success calendar" at all five of its elementary schools, rather than just two.
It would have been the icing atop layers of visionary additions to the Columbus Municipal School District -- magnet themes at its elementary schools: aerospace, communication and technology, fine arts, health and wellness and international studies; the district''s first new school in decades and the ambitious International Baccalaureate program.
Del Phillips, superintendent at the time, had hopes of offering the extended calendar district-wide eventually. We hoped the same.
Instead, after two short years, the 11-month calendar is moving toward a quiet death, with plans to resume a regular 181-day calendar next school year.
The extended calendar spanned from early August to mid-June and added 18 "success academy days" to the traditional calendar.
During those 18 days, low-performing students got the remediation they needed, while high-performing students were offered enrichment opportunities -- field trips and special classes. They could even take those days off. It was a win-win situation.
Phillips is now a week out the door, and at least one of the innovative programs started during his tenure seems to have gone with him.
We''d hate to see the strides the district has made in programming and true school choice fade away with the exodus of the man responsible for them.
The 11-month calendar was a plan that can and has affected student success in a positive way. That''s straight from the mouths of the teachers and administrators who experienced it first hand. And no one has argued to the contrary.
Even naysayers found no fault with the academic advantage of the concept. Child custody orders and family vacations were the overriding reason cited for opposition to the plan, neither of which have anything to do with children''s academic success.
In a district already under academic watch, the school board should hold fast to programs proven to improve student achievement.
Dollars and cents are at least part of the reason the district is ending the program. The new calendar''s $375,000 price tag was paid for through stimulus funds, of which the district has received more than $2 million the past two years.
We encourage district leaders to seek out grant dollars or find other creative ways to fund the extended year. Programs that help children meet the bar in district struggling to raise it, shouldn''t be slashed with the budget.
firstname.lastname@example.org commented at 6/15/2011 1:28:00 PM:
It sounds like you are taking a dig at CMSD leadership by saying it is a shame that the program is dying as Dr. Phillips walked out the door. This program was funded by ARRA money. That means it always had an expiration date. If the money is gone, it's gone. What would you rather see cut from the budget to keep this program? Choices have to be made.
elle commented at 6/16/2011 3:56:00 PM:
THE "SUCCESS" PROGRAM WAS NOT MUCH OF A SUCCESS. MOST STUDENTS DID NOT IMPROVE ON THEIR SCORES AND WERE STILL BEHIND ON THE SCHOOL WORK. THE SAME STUDENTS ALWAYS STAYED BEHIND WHILE THE SAME ENRICHMENT STUDENTS WENT ON AND DID OTHER THINGS. IT NEVER CHANGED. I DID NOT SEE HOW IT WAS HELPFUL IN ANYWAY. AS FOR THE ENRICHMENT DAYS, YEAH, THAT WAS A JOKE TOO. KIDS DID THE SAMETHING ALL THE TIME AND IF THEY DID WANT TO TAKE OFF THAT WEEK, WELL THEY COULDN'T. THATS RIGHT THE SCHOOL CALLED AND ASKED WHY WEREN'T THEY THERE AND THEY HAD TO BE THERE FOR OTHER TESTING. I AM GLAD THE PROGRAM IS GOING AWAY.
zenreaper commented at 6/18/2011 7:01:00 PM:
Thinking that BAD schooling is cured by MORE time in school is akin to thinking a BAD recipe will be better if you COOK it longer. The problem is that there are more people working in the administration and SPORTS programs than in the classrooms with the STUDENTS. As long as the lights come on the field on Friday nights, no one really cares that the students can't SPELL "football", as long as they can throw or catch one.
And those valuable scholarships, given to students who have to get a GED over their senior summer in order to get INTO the remedial programs at the college. Then they are mainstreamed through the University long enough to get a major league contract (which they won't understand most of, because of their inability to read big words). Then they come back with the message that what they did is the only way out. Sort of like spending all of your retirement money on the lottery. Some will succeed, MOST will not.
If you want to fix the education system, start with ending what DOES NOT WORK, and begin emulating what DOES work. Private schooling, places like Victory and Heritage, as producing successful and educated students. Why is that? Well, to begin with, they are not under the thumb of the teacher's unions, who's sole job appears to be keeping crappy teachers on the job. Second, they are not heavy with "administration", which adds nothing but COST to the system. And third, they are not forced to keep students who OBVIOUSLY do not want to be there.