In the Lou

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 08 2008

Academic stimulus plan

In a district with a $20+ million budget shortfall, I find the below not only nonsensical in terms of moving students forward toward making significant gains but just odd:

Please convey the following information regarding the new Academic Stimulus Plan to your staff no later than Friday noon. It will be addressed in the Board meeting this Thursday so if you could do it by then that would be even better as it is likely to hit the papers on Friday. Please share with them an overview but ensure that they are aware of the following:

  • Individual Academic Plans – Each student will be placed on an Individual Academic Plan to ensure targeted instruction. At the elementary level his is merely an expansion for many of you as a result of having Summerbridge students and if you have done it with the Bubble students in your building. Middle Schools have been requested to do this so this will come as nothing new. Feel free to share a sample of what the Individual Academic Plan will look like for your grade levels.
  • Winter Break Homework Packet – This will be going home after the letter is sent to parents. Teachers will be responsible for ensuring its’ return, grading them and then re-teaching items that data indicates students have not mastered.
  • Monetary incentives – pending Board approval there will be a monetary incentive for teachers with the highest return rate of packets. Please speak only in generalities about this as the amount has not yet been established and all of it depends upon Board action.

Let’s handle these one by one:

  • Individual Academic Plans – Of course, the way to fix instructional issues is by adding more paperwork that has to be filled out and requiring more time of the already busy literacy coach checking that we’ve completed important demographic information and test-score tracking that should have just been put into our student information system by the various downtown departments for our easy access
  • Winter Break Homework Packet – I love the idea of this one. Standardized homework for all students in the district. I am anxious to see what gets delivered to our doorstep.
  • Monetary incentives – Who cares if kids learn? We apparently just care if they fill out worksheets. Well geez, I should just give my kids a kickback of whatever I incentive is being offered to ensure I make the minimum cut, right?

Come on SLPS. This is NOT evidence of a new era.

Update: After further review about this issue with a colleague, I discovered the best part about this mandate. The emails to principals had the following subject line: Please review and give feedback asap.

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    a Teach for America science teacher in St. Louis

    St. Louis
    Middle School

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