Parents want their children to learn collaboration skills, research skills, life skills, debating, reading out loud, public speaking, sociology, three dimensional thinking, respect, critical thinking, self-awareness, historical literature, current literature, planning skills, philosophy, geography, keyboarding, empathy, foreign language, cooking, sewing, woodworking, math, enjoyment of learning, art, morals, trust, theater, intrapersonal skills, relationship management, ethics, self-confidence, music, history, physical education, health, ELA, spatial relations, naturalism, teamwork, work ethics, self-control, freedom, playing, science, creativity, psychology, technology, trust, business, government, and integrity. Did I miss anything? If so, please send me a message and I will add it to the list.
Now let us look at the number one goal of the Ken-Ton School District as defined by the Board of Education on their website http://www.ktufsd.org/Page/142 “All students will reach mastery in literacy [ELA] and numeracy [Math]”. That means the number one goal of the district is ELA and Math test scores. Sound familiar?
We could end this discussion right here and the problem is EXTREMELY clear. The goal of the district is completely misaligned with the goal of parents and the well-being of children. But let’s delve a little further. The Ken-Ton Board of Education defines their “Vision” as “Be the premier school district in New York State by 2020” (http://www.ktufsd.org/Page/142 ). But what is a “premier” school district? The U.S. Department of Education has recognized “Great American Schools” since 1982. You can view their eligibility requirements here http://www2.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/eligibility.html They consider “Great American Schools” to be those schools that ‘perform in the top 15% on State ELA and Math assessments’, ‘have a composite index in the top 15% on State ELA and Math assessments’, ‘perform in the top 15% on State ELA and Math assessments in closing the performance gap’.
Fundamentally, the Ken-Ton School District is focused on achieving higher State ELA and Math test scores while the parents are interested in developing the whole child. This is a toxic disconnect, and it is no surprise that enrollment is therefore down in the district. But it doesn’t stop there. In January of 2015, the Superintendent of Ken-Ton Schools and the Board of Education hired Harris Beach Attorneys at Law to do a study on the organizational needs of the district “to ensure that any changes to the organizational structure are aligned with the District’s Mission, Vision, Goals, and Value Statements”. So, fundamentally, the district hired Harris Beach Attorneys at Law to do a study to show what organizational changes could be made to get better test scores. It’s pretty obvious! The last paragraph of the district document even says that this study will help the Board reach the district goals, which we know the district has defined as “All students will reach mastery in literacy [ELA tests] and numeracy [Math tests]”. Here is the district document http://www.ktufsd.org/cms/lib/NY19000262/Centricity/Domain/9/Emphasizing%20Student%20Achievement%20Executive%20Summary.pdf
What happened as a result of this study? Well, the district hired more administrators to manage curriculum and instruction, and they removed teachers from the CLS (Curriculum Learning Specialists) positions that are most closely connected to the students. Fundamentally, this aligns with the district’s number one goal of getting better State tests scores in ELA and Math. Teachers are removed from the positions that are closest to the students, and more administrators are hired to get better test scores. You can view the district’s organizational chart for these new positions at the link below. It is the chart for "Instruction". The 2 new positions are Director of Elementary Education and Director of Secondary Education. Dr. Catherine Huber has been hired for the position of Director of Secondary Education, and Dr. Heather Lyon has been hired for the position of Director of Elementary Education. http://www.ktufsd.org/cms/lib/NY19000262/Centricity/Domain/15/09l-ORGANIZATIONAL.CHART.8.15.pdf
All of this makes perfect sense as it relates to my last blog post titled Ken-Ton Art, Music, Gym, Etc, Being Lost to Math and ELA.
The Ken-Ton Board of Education needs to stand-up and REDFINE the district’s goals, vision and mission. It is clearly misaligned with the well-being of children and the vision of parents, and too many families are leaving the district because of it. This affects the entire Ken-Ton community. Please contact the board about this ASAP. It affects all of us.