2018-12-06 / Opinion

All Students Are Equal

To the Editor:

“Equity for all students” seems to be the “buzz slogan” for the Thompson Middle School (TMS) Principal, Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent. What is questionable is the administration’s definition of “equity for all students” considering the present debacle at TMS.

The divide and lack of communication between the administration and the teachers at TMS is clear at every meeting. One of many examples is the teachers are learning about major schedule and curriculum changes at the same time as students and parents. The administration has created quite a mess at TMS with the addition of what they call “Power Hour,” “Cluster Challenge,” and “Tiered Support.” Additionally, there is no curriculum provided to teachers and these activities are Pass/Fail with no grades given. Some examples of Power Hour are “walk in the park, Zen tangle, and Origami.” These activities do not prepare an 8th grader for high school level courses, nor do they ensure equity.

The administration expects parents to be “patient” as “it takes time” to figure out new scheduling. Are they forgetting that while they “figure things out,” our children, their students are in school and only receiving 3.5 hours of instructional time per day? Grades 6th- 8th are finished with their core classes by 11:30am. RIDE (Rhode Island Department of Education) requires a minimum of 5.5 hours of instructional class time per day. It appears evident that the current schedule at TMS significantly misses this legally mandated mark. Shouldn’t all this have been “figured out” prior to the start of the school year?

The teachers have filed a grievance against these new curriculum changes. The administration has not addressed this grievance with parents and expects us to trust that our students are getting a solid education. How can parents trust the administration to make decisions that are not backed by the teachers who educate our children? This is a clear disregard for our teachers, the heart of our school.

In addition to the disregard by TMS administration, parents have been lied to by the Superintendent for over a year and half. Parents have met for countless hours and attended countless meetings. We were told TMS was working towards accelerated classes in all four content areas, with the option for all students to choose to be in these classes only to find out on the first day of school that there was an entire new schedule and offerings. Not only does this new schedule lack the accelerated offerings, but it is also absent with the proper interventions and supports for students who are in need.

TMS is clearly not meeting the needs of any student. This is at least in part due to the administration prematurely implementing a schedule without taking into consideration the ramifications on the entire student body. The definition of equity is the quality of being fair and impartial. Certainly, this is not what is currently taking place at TMS.

TMS is a feeder school for Rogers High School. I can only imagine a swift decline in enrollment at RHS as parents begin to look at other school options, or leave Newport all together. Those students who need more interventions will “fight the fight” and have Newport pay for out of district placement to meet their student’s needs, as they should.

Karlie Cesarini
Concerned Parent and Taxpayer

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