Thursday, February 26, 2009

Objections to 13th year idea from a school board member

The other day I had the opportunity to button hole a school board member at another event. We talked about the 13th year proposal for Pgh Public Schools. The board member had just heard my statement to the board a couple of days prior so it had to be fresh.

Objection: We won't want to take kids out of their home school for this.

Answer: We won't. The kids will choose, as an option, to attend the 13th year AFTER they have completed the study and received their diploma at their home school. They go to the 13th year AFTER the 12th year is finished.

Objection: We won't want to set up a new school for the 13th year.

Answer: We won't. We already have a new school being established, the I.B. Jr./Sr. High School. The 13th year is a program that resides within this school. No need for a new school. The students in the 13th year fill empty seats within the classroom of what is being offered already.

Objection: We (PPS) are doing so much now, I don't see how we can manage it.

Answer: We are sending a lot of kids to college who are then flunking out. That needs to be managed. The entire program could be managed by one person, a 13th year coordinator who works with the office of the IB Jr./Sr. High School for admissions and supervision of records. This could be paid for by the Pittsburgh Promise.

Objection: Lots of kids who are departing 12th grade are not interested in sticking around school any longer. They want to go and get out.

Answer: Exactly.

This 13th year option is not for 'everyone.' It is not for "most kids." The 13th year option is for a few kids who want to step it up in terms of academic study. This is for kids who want to learn and who want to go to a better college the next year. They want to improve themselves with better test scores and have better options for admissions the next year. Perhaps 20, 50 or 100 kids will take advantage of this 13th year program.

The 13th year option puts kids into a different setting within the I.B. school, where there are different classes, different goals, different classmates, different setting than what was happening at their other school. The kids from CAPA, Allderidice, Perry, Brashear, Oliver, Westinghouse, Peabody, U-Prep, Sci-Tech and Langley will not be "sticking around" where they have been in the past. They'll be setting out in a new and different place.

Objection: The kids won't want to take things over again in the 13th year.

Answer: Exactly.

Well, some kids do need to take things over again because they failed it the first time. That's called summer school. The 13th year program is NOT a replacement for summer school. If you don't pass the basic classes, you can't graduate. If you don't graduate, and if you're not in the IB program, you can't get into the 13th year program.

The 13th year, because it is with the I.B. program, has different classes than what is offered at the other schools. More language options for example. Take a 3rd or 4th or 5th year of Spanish or German. Those classes are not offered at the regular home school. The I.B. English and History, are different. Kids might graduate the high school without Physics or without a higher level math. Or, a kid might want to re-take Algebra II as well. Fine. A new teacher, a year or two of extra maturity, a new setting could be welcomed and allow for academic success. But, by-and-large, the offerings are going to be different in the 13th year than the choices from the home school from prior years.

Background: A objection above was about getting kids to another site other than a home school. Well, kids in all grades who are going to a magnet school, (a school of choice) within the Pittsburgh Public Schools framework are already departing their home schools. You can go to CAPA, and you can't go to your home school. You can go to I.B., and you can't go to your home school. You can go to U-Prep, Science & Tech, or the Engineering Magnet at Allderdice and then not go to your home school.

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