03 January 2006

Better Never Than Late

Long time readers of this blog will no doubt remember that during the late winter/early spring of 2005, I led some district work around scope and sequence for secondary science. We had the state standards in hand (finally) and set out to get our district program in order so that students would have opportunity to meet them. Since then, I've worked with district facilities' staff to get plans in place to remodel buildings, we're in the middle of choosing new curriculum materials, presentations have been made to the school board, and so on.

Someone in the district just showed up today to (try to) add a wrinkle to the plan. He is our Vo-Tech director.

He wants to offer our "Principles of Technology (PoT)" course---which is currently offered for science credit at the high schools---to grade 9 and make it an alternative to the course we placed there through our scope and sequence work.

The hidden agenda here is one of program preservation. Vo-Tech is getting a smaller chunk of the pie because of both the standards-based moment and less support from the feds. Meanwhile, one of the two PoT teachers in the district is not well-liked by students. Current enrollment is such that it won't sustain his teaching position.

I admit to not knowing a whole lot about the PoT curriculum. It is an introduction to applied physics. This is not such a bad thing. But ninth grade also requires chemistry. And all grades need inquiry---not just application. I'll investigate a little further, but it's not looking like PoT is going to be a good fit for ninth grade.

The Vo-Tech director has not consulted teachers about this. The PoT teacher at my school is hopping mad over the whole deal. He has no desire to teach junior high and sees a variety of problems in following this plan (even if he doesn't teach the course). The director has never looked at the science standards and today seemed to have no clue about what it means to have deep alignment. In his mind, as long as some of the topics fit, it's good enough.

The thing is, I'm not sure why the director has chosen this particular time to jump in with his ideas. The PoT teachers were kept in the loop last spring when the scope and sequence was done. I even have e-mails from the director from last spring about the process. There have been no secrets anywhere along the way.

I have a bit more of this game to play. I'll visit the PoT classes and see what's happening. I'll spend Friday morning with the teachers (and director) really looking at the curriculum. And hopefully, by Friday afternoon, this problem will be resolved...and PoT will stay where it is.

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