Letter: YRS punishes less
As the mother of a learning disabled or
"at-risk" student, I would like to respond to the ACS proposed
academic calendar change.
Summer is a time of normalcy for
academically struggling students because of the opportunity to be on equal
footing with "smart" students. They are free to pursue areas, other
than academics, in which they might excel. Summer is "down time" from
the stress of working harder than the other students for less results.
Experiences of the traditional summer
have allowed my child time to rebuild his self-esteem after a frustrating year
of academics. The traditional calendar meets his needs in that the lengthy
summer allows time for remediation programs between periods of rest and fun.
When school begins, he has experienced extensive play as well as remediation
(university sponsored direct instruction with excellent results) and is
refreshed and ready to focus on nine months of instruction.
The three week intersession remediation
program, which is a part of the proposed Year-Round/ Alternative Calendar,
suggests that students in need of remediation will spend their three-week
breaks in school. Of course, Dr. Freeman has said remediation may be as short
as one week of half days, but no clear decisions have been shared regarding
what intercession will or will not be. One has to wonder how much remediation
success can be achieved in one week of half days given that the teacher will
probably not have had previous experience with the students. In addition, the
cost of such remediation should be considered, though ACS has not defined the
remediation process enough to even begin to identify actual costs. For this
vague plan and long shot of success we are being asked to change our academic
calendar and life styles?
Surely students who need remediation
are in equal if not more need of an academic break than other students. While
some teachers say they will be refreshed after breaks, I wonder how the
students spending their brief breaks in school will feel? Please note, ACS
tells us these are the very students year round school/alternative calendar is
supposed to benefit.
Remediation during the brief academic
break of three weeks is nothing short of punishment and singling out of
students for not being as "bright" as the rest of the population.
Also, these children are sure to feel responsible for their family's inability
to participate in the "additional family vacation time" due to their
I propose we explore remediation
opportunities within the traditional calendar. These opportunities could
include, but are not limited to, increasing Title One services beyond the
second grade, including direct instruction as a teaching method, increasing per
pupil expenditure, implementing afternoon remediation programs, tailoring
teaching techniques and increasing volunteer time from parents within the
system. I would certainly be willing to donate my time to ACS to work with
"at-risk" students within the traditional calendar.
Our children should be thought of as
students not experiments, therefore let's implement only tried and true methods
of achieving academic improvement. Certainly all students will benefit from the
same methods from which "at risk" students can be expected to
benefit. Let's leave our calendar as is and work within our traditional
calendar to provide remediation for these important students.
Name withheld at parent's request