Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Follow-Up

 

When I was on the OM Village Board, I remember having a thorough discussion about where to place bike racks in the Oakland Mills Village Center. But my feeling was that we didn't come to a final decision. Months later I remember asking Sandy Cederbaum, "Whatever happened with the bike racks?" And she said, "Oh, in the end we decided on such and such." And we did get the bike racks, and everything was fine.

One of my few frustrations with being on the Board was that we had so many issues to address that we rarely had time for follow up. Not that the follow-up didn't get done, it did. Any loose ends were taken care of by the Village Manager and any other appropriate Village staff. But the Board doesn't always have time to revisit that. You'd be amazed at how much your Village Board is doing, folks.

I'm bringing the issue of follow-up to the forefront today because of something my daughter said yesterday after her first day of school.

"Guess what? The Sixth Grade isn't going to have foreign language anymore."

Last year local news was filled with stories about how the Middle School curriculum was changing. Do you remember? The focus of many of the articles was how Reading would no longer be taught as a separate subject. The schedule would change to accommodate new priorities, one of which was foreign language instruction in the sixth grade.

There was plenty of frustration over the changes, from parents who worried about the loss of reading instruction, to middle school teachers who hadn't been included in the process to begin with. In the end, the changes were pushed through, and my daughter had French every other day in the sixth grade. And she loved it, I might add.

But I did hear ripples that foreign language teachers felt that the alternating day schedule was not the best for first year instruction. And I got an earful from my daughter about a Reading Module that was boring and poorly executed.

So, now that the middle schools have had a year to try the new schedules, they appear to be making some adjustments. Great. But let's hear about it. The Howard County Schools are jumping into the world of social media this year with both feet, so let's have some follow-up.

"We tried the new schedule for a year. We have gotten feedback from teachers and administrators. Based on their recommendations, we are making the following adjustments, and this is why."

As a middle school parent, that is the follow-up I would like to see. In a day when our students are assessed to within an inch of their lives, let's be honest and forthright about changes that directly affect them. Let's show what worked, what didn't, and what will be done to better meet their needs.

Above all, let us *not* be reticent to admit we could have done things better.

That is the kind of follow-up I am hoping to see. What about you? After the first day of school, do you have some unanswered questions? Now that hcpss is reaching out to us on Facebook and Twitter, we just may get some answers.

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