SOCIAL STUDIES CHANGES, ATHLETICS ATTENDANCE POLICY AND OTHER ISSUES DISCUSSED AT 10.20 BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING
ATHLETICS POLICY COMMITTEE TO SOLICIT INPUT FROM PARENTS REGARDING INTERSCHOLASTIC SPORTS ATTENDANCE POLICY
At this past Thursday’s North Shore Board of Education meeting, the interscholastic athletics attendance policy once again came up for discussion two weeks after another parent questioned the reasonableness of the rules - this time with a trustee suggesting that the policy be tweaked and the Superintendent announcing that the Athletics Policy Committee would be considering changes at its next meeting.
Trustee Marianne Russo raised the issue towards the end of the meeting, during “Old Business,” when she expressed sympathy for some of the concerns that had been raised by parents whose children had been expelled or excluded from teams for violating the attendance policy which only allows for student-athletes to be excused from practice for illness, religious observance, or if there is a death in the family.
She said she understood why the policy was originally adopted more than a decade ago in response to parent and player concerns that star athletes were granted greater leeway than other athletes, but that now it seemed that the policy is not flexible enough to take into account some of the issues that have recently been raised.
“It seems that some of these decisions are not being made with common sense,” she said. “Is there a way we can put in [the policy] a review for particular types of circumstances?”
Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick replied that the Athletics Policy Committee had recently met “and that they have taken into account all that they have heard” and would be having a meeting this coming Wednesday, October 26 to discuss the issue and that parents are welcome and encouraged to attend to offer their thoughts. District Athletics Director Don Lange sent out an invitation to parents via e-mail this past Tuesday.
Dr. Melnick said that the committee was considering looking at JV sports differently than it does Varsity and that there is “an interest, at least for JV, where there would be an appeals procedure with an appeals board so that certain circumstances could be looked at and perhaps avoid some of the situations we’ve had.”
“The struggle is that on one end you have this concrete policy with no exceptions which is problematic,” the Superintendent said, “and all the way on the other end you have coaches discretion which is problematic because you lose any sort of consistency from team to team.” He said that perhaps an appeals process with an appeals board could ensure that consistency.
The Superintendent said that following the policy meeting next week, the committee would offer a proposal for the school board’s consideration.
Board Vice President Sara Jones suggested that the trustees continue their discussion of the issue after Wednesday’s Athletics Policy meeting, which will take place at 6:30 pm at the high school. “We really want to encourage people who are interested in this topic to attend,” she said.
CLICK HERE FOR RELATED ARTICLE FROM 10.6 BOE MEETING
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8th grader Kate Wesley-Jones receives a firm handshake from Superintendent Ed Melnick, as mom and School Board Vice President Sara Jones looks on, for being a semifinalist in the Broadcam Masters Middle School Stem Competition. Only 300 students of the 6,000 who entered the competition received the designation. Ms. Wesley-Jones' entry, A Graph is Worth 1,000 (Misleading?) Words, examined how truncation of the y-axis on a graph affects viewers interpretation of the results of the graph. This practice is often used by the media and in politics to mislead the viewer by misrepresenting the data or statistic being shown. Ms. Wesley-Jones also earned second place at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair for her research project.
SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHERS PRESENT ON CHANGES TO 9th and 10th GRADE CURRICULUM
Members of the North Shore High School Social Studies Department presented to the School Board at this past Thursday’s meeting, offering an overview of changes to the New York State 9th and 10th grade Global History Regents curriculum and exam and how those changes would be taken into account during this year’s Social studies Department review. During the board discussion that followed, two trustees asked that the review take a look at the Social Studies mandatory lab periods that meet two out of every six days in 10th and 11th grade and which limit opportunities for students to take electives.
Global History is currently a two year course, with a curriculum that covers early man through the present day, and that concludes at the end of 10th grade with a state exam that includes 50 multiple choice questions, a thematic essay and a document based essay. Going forward, beginning in the 2017-18 school year, the exam will only cover material taught in the 10th grade curriculum which covers World History from 1750 to the present. Pre-1750 will be covered in the 9th grade but will not be tested by the state. The format of the exam will continue to have a multiple choice section, but now with fewer questions and each will be based on a “stimulus” which can be a primary source document, graph, chart, map, cartoon or other image; additionally there will be a document based essay that will not ask a specific question, but rather require students to develop a theme and write an essay based on a series of documents.
High School Social Studies Department Chairman, Jim Mendonis, said that the state curriculum is getting away from an emphasis on “what, where, and when” questions and is pushing teachers to focus more on “how” and “why.”
The goal, Assistant Superintendent Mr. Cheblicki, is to encourage students to approach the subject matter as historians - examining and analyzing a variety of sources, taking into consideration issues such as bias, purpose, and the reliability, drawing conclusions based on those materials, and then being able to write about it.
“To some degree, we are already doing this,” he said.
“If anything, the state is catching up to North Shore,” agreed Mr. Mendonis a few minutes later in response to a question from a trustee. “Our expectations far exceed what the state expects students to graduate with.
During the board discussion that followed the presentation, both Trustees Marianne Russo and David Ludmar expressed their belief that content is important. “How are we assuring that students have a working knowledge of U.S. History?” asked Trustee Russo. “How are we insuring that they [students] have enough working knowledge of major facts in history. Is there some basis for insuring their having knowledge they really should have to be well educated and literate people going out into the world?
"We have to understand where that balance is - a more factual knowledge versus a more conceptual understanding of history," replied Mr. Mendonis.
Students he said have immediate access to information and it is important for students to take that factual information and understand it in the context of the wider expanse of history.
Trustee Ludmar asked how “are we going to measure our effectiveness for both what the state requires and what the district has set forth as its shared values?”
"The way we assess content knowledge," explained Mr. Cheblicki, “is through the way they use that content in their responses and answers. Are they going to use something totally not related to the topic or are they choosing the most compelling content to describe what it is they have to explain?"
As for the Social Studies labs that meet two out of every six days and that all 10th and 11th graders are required to take, Trustee Russo asked whether there has been any discussion to use them to do more “research based writing.”
Albert Cousins said that he did not perceive them in that way, but that there are concerns on how they affect student schedules. He said that the elective program, particularly in 10th grade, “has really suffered,” with mandatory lab periods in all four core subject areas that most students are required to take.
“I have great concerns with the humanities labs,” he said.
Trustee Lara Gonzalez, asked if at the building level there was a method used where the labs are being evaluated in terms of their efficacy.
Mr. Cheblicki said that when the Social Studies review is done, the District will look at how the labs are being used and whether they are necessary.
"I didn’t say anything other than I was looking at them [the labs]," said Mr. Cousins. For some historical perspective, we used to have them in 9th grade as well, and it took some time to get used to. There are a lot of different factors [that need to be taken into consideration].”