School committee member clarifies remarks on honors program

Published: 02/21/2022 18:00:38 Editor’s note: School committee member Michael Stein sent the following letter to several educators f...

Published: 02/21/2022 18:00:38

Editor’s note: School committee member Michael Stein sent the following letter to several educators following the February 10 committee meeting, days before they sent an open letter to the committee of school.

I am writing to clarify some of my remarks from the February 10 school committee meeting, as I believe they can easily be misinterpreted and taken out of context. Specifically, my description of the first and second class learners in the integrated program.

What I was referring to was student tracking in what I understand is a “standard” track and an “honours” track based on perceptions of ability, prior academic achievement, etc. My concern is that by having both groups in one class, with clearly defined but different expectations (rubrics), we are reminding groups of students that one group is more capable than the other.

This problem is not just a problem in an integrated course, although I think it takes on increased stakes in this context, but a tracking problem in general. You may legitimately object to me using the phrase first and second class learners, but can you honestly say that you are communicating anything differently to students by calling them standard and honors?

A lot of research shows the opportunity gaps created by tracking and that there can be emotional impacts as well. In my own experience as a high school student, I was tracked to a lower level. What he told me was that I was not an honors student, that I could not aspire to the standards that they were asked to meet and that I could go to university but that I did not Shouldn’t shoot too high.

Granted, a lot has changed since I was in school, but sorting students out this way communicates a lot of things to them that aren’t being said. In my case, I was still able to complete a Master of Arts and a Ph.D., but I wonder how different the path might have been to get there if I hadn’t internalized the messages from a lower path.

In fact, I don’t think there are first-rate and second-rate learners in high school. I think tracking produces this insight for both students and the institution and that having it explicitly spelled out in one class is problematic. I believe that the diverse talents of our students should be nurtured in a way that enables all of them to reach their potential and see themselves as capable learners. As the father of a student with a learning disability, on an IEP, I see their enormous potential despite these challenges. I know you believe it too and I do not question your commitment to the education and well-being of our students.

I hope this email has alleviated any concerns my comments may have raised. Otherwise, I am happy to participate in a healing circle with those who may be interested and also happy to communicate in other ways. I look forward to working with all of you as a member of the school committee and it would be a shame if this type of misunderstanding derails this. Any suggestion that I’m not a proponent of differentiated learning, meeting kids where they are, and giving all of our students the resources they need to succeed is totally wrong.

Please share this message with any department heads whose contact details I do not have and with other faculty and staff who may have been affected by my comments.

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Newsrust - US Top News: School committee member clarifies remarks on honors program
School committee member clarifies remarks on honors program
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