The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

Blog Rules

Comments should be respectful and pertain to the topic posted. Comments about personnel matters should be made directly to the administrators responsible. Blog moderators reserve the right to remove any comment determined not in keeping with these guidelines.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Reminder on Student Schedule Changes at High School

This is a reminder to parents of high school students.

All high school schedule changes must be completed by June 3. No student initiated schedule changes will be made in August.

Parents with freshmen need to contact guidance to make a study hall change by June 3.

We have promoted this as much as possible. The high school has sent announcements to all newspapers, the radio stations, the sign out front, the blog site, counselors, Planet K-12, in the middle schools, and in announcements at the high school.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fairfield and Wawasee to Consolidate?

As some of you may be aware, the 2005 Indiana state legislature formed a study commission to examine consolidation of smaller school districts. The purpose is presumably, to save money across the state.

Rumors have it that Fairfield and Wawasee are going to consolidate. The newly formed school district will be called....."The Fairasees." It saddens me to say this, so maybe we'll just call ourselves..."The Saddusees."

So there you have it...when Fairfield and Wawasee consolidate we can be called the Fairasees or the Saddusees.

If this makes no sense to you, find a bible scholar near you and ask what's up.

It's not really April 1, but I'm still fooling.!!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!!! :-)

PS : If you think this is funny then give me credit, if you think this is lame then Jim Evans came up with it!!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Pop Machines in Schools

Well, as you can tell from the comments, there are a variety of viewpoints that can be held on the "pop machine in schools" issue. Which view is right? Why, yours of course! :-)

This issue is a good one for looking at the core values at play. (If you are a new reader - look at the two previous posts for the descriptions of the values.)

One value you might consider is Liberty. This view might say parents and children have the right to make these individual decisions. No government or government organization ought to be able to deny personal choices as simple as "pop" from someone! The opposing argument is that the courts have always held the "en loco parentis" view which means "in the absence of parents" schools have the right to make some of these decisions on behalf of parents. In other words, it IS in the schools rights to make simple decisions like this since they are in charge of the students when the parents have sent them to school. When the schools decisions appear to conflict with a majority of the community, it usually results in changes in school policy to reflect community views.

Another value is Prosperity. Those who give weight to this value are saying that the profit from the pop sales is put into the student activity fund and is used to buy academic prizes and other awards for students. This benefit return to students is worthy. Besides, say the proponents of pop machines, many of those students go straight home from school and have pop and a cookie after school anyway. The students may as well reap the benefits of all the academic prizes and awards purchased with the pop money. All schools put the student pop money into activity funds to return to students.

Another value at play is Community. This value is the one most quoted by opponents of pop machines at school. The community will benefit from healthy choices, healthy students and the overall community good. This is a long-term view but to some, this outweighs any other benefit. Therefore, any individual benefit of the student or liberty value regarding student choices, is trumped by a perceived societal good from removal of pop machines at school.

So how do these issues and conflicts get resolved in a political democracy? Compromises are reached that try to satisfy as many values as possible. For example, the schools may choose to only turn on the machines after school for athletes and extra-curricular events. They are turned off at lunch so as not to compete with more healthy alternatives. Also, many of the machines are replaced with milk or other healthier choices.

So what is right? When the issues are not absolute moral and ethical issues, the best decision is usually viewed as the one that satisfies the most values and hence the most people.

Last one of the week.

How do you feel about schools adopting curriculums for almost all students that are driven by private business interests? A current example in Indiana is the business community at the state level is pushing the CORE 40 curriculum to be the standard high school program. This tends to limit high school courses to college preparatory classes and discourages students from taking more elective classes.

Good idea or bad idea?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Community values

Yesterday I asked what values would come into play if a school was trying to decide how they feel about adding more school courses or programs at a school.

Here's the quick review.

All issues that schools face are essentially a tug-of-war between four terminal values.

1. Liberty - freedom, right to choose, privacy, individuality
2. Equality - equity, fairness, justice, tolerance, a level playing field
3. Community- sense of belonging, unity, togetherness, safety, security, social and moral order
4. Prosperity- value, profit, benefit, efficiency, return on investment, standard of living

If a school community was debating whether or not to add more courses or programs at a school, the values at odds with one another would be liberty and prosperity. The decision to add more individual course selections and choices for more students must be weighed against the costs to other programs or in some states the board might have to consider tax increases in order to provide a more expansive program. How you feel about adding the new courses depends on the context of the situation. How much will it cost? Is it worth it? Is it only my kid it concerns? Do I consider all kids or only MY grandkids? How much weight do I put on individual choices versus the cost to provide them? Liberty vs. Prosperity

Here's one for tomorrow.

How do you feel about selling pop and soft drinks in schools?

What values are at odds with one another?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Why do schools and school districts find so many decisions to be divisive and difficult?

Schools are designed to be political entities. These political entities utilize elected officials that work with hired school people to make decisions for the community.

All issues that schools face are essentially a tug-of-war between four terminal values.
1. Liberty - freedom, right to choose, privacy, individuality
2. Equality - equity, fairness, justice, tolerance, a level playing field
3. Community- sense of belonging, unity, togetherness, safety, security, social and moral order
4. Prosperity- value, profit, benefit, efficiency, return on investment, standard of living

Here are a few key points about these values:
1. No problem can be solved with only one value.
2. No value is always better.
3. We don't always choose the same value.
4. Decisions have to be made in context.

To see how this works, let's take a look at a common public school debate - school uniforms for students. Gary Schools recently passed a board policy requiring school uniforms.

There are three values involved in this issue; liberty, equality and community. If you clicked on the link and read the Gary article, you could probably identify the values the Gary school board utilized in making their decisions.

See the tug-of-war between liberty and equality? The more individual freedom you provide the more unequal things get. When you have no clothing rules, you are liable to get anything up to and including - no clothing! Throw in the sense of community and you will see that the Gary board is trying to provide a greater sense of community and equality by not allowing individual freedom of choice for student clothing. These values are inherently at odds with one another. If you lean towards more of one, than you must lean away from the other value on that issue.

Which is right? There is no one answer that is right for each community.

And that my friends - is the major reason why schools find change difficult. These values operate by-and-large, under the surface. Most people are not aware of their own position on these values. They just know what they think and that they are right. Then people take sides on the simple issue at hand, without examining why they think like they do.

This makes change difficult.

For the next few days I will present several common school issues that often divide communities. The next day I will post a few observations about the issue. See if you can identify the values tugging at you.

Here is tomorrow's school issue:

How do you feel about more choices in courses and programs at each school?

Tomorrow I will post a few observations about this issue.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Property tax reversal

After several years of trying to limit the impact of property taxes, it seems as if the state legislature has reversed itself. The current state philosophy appears to be to push tax increases back to the local patrons. Meanwhile, the political spin machine continues to put out notices to constituents that they have balanced the budget without raising taxes.

Here's an article from Sunday's Journal Gazette.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Statistics are important - but they don't tell the whole story.

Statistics are important but they don't tell everything you need to know about schools. The most common school statistics thrown around are standardized test scores. While these are helpful, they just share one snapshot of a student or a school's achievement. We use them here at WCSC, but we try to keep them in perspective.

Last night at Wawasee Middle School, Mrs. Pat Mikel hosted an open house showcasing the projects of the Gifted and Talented students. Think about it for a minute, the students were originally placed there due to their high test scores, yet the rich array of products and performances exhibited went way beyond what can be revealed by a limited test score. They wrote and performed plays, wrote books, conducted research, did oral reports and demonstrated products they had created.

Recently Newsweek magazine put out a list of the best school's in the nation. This article looks into the methods Newsweek used to rank schools. Hint, the wonderful richness and depth of thinking exhibited by our talented students last night would not have been known or revealed by a lone standardized test score.

They are important, but they don't tell the whole story.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

WHS Announces Student Schedule Procedures

The high school has issued the following release regarding student schedules for 2005-2006:

Student Schedules ready at Wawasee High School

Students will be receiving their schedules for next year beginning May 20. Freshmen may make changes to their schedules between May 20 and June 3. Freshmen will receive their schedules at their respective middle schools. If the freshmen parents choose, they may request a one trimester study hall for their freshmen student by contacting their high school guidance counselor. Contact Ruth Angle, ext. 203 for names from A to G; Judy Preheim, ext. 201 H-Q; and Steve Hunsberger, R-Z. The guidance office phone number is 457-3147, ext. 220.

All schedule changes now will need to be made with the high school counselors.

Incoming freshmen and parents, please check schedules carefully. This is a copy of the tentative schedule for 2005-06. Schedules should be checked to verify the courses or alternative courses chosen, and for balance of classes. Your final schedule will be ready on August 11 at the Freshmen Orientation.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors may try to make schedule changes to change one class for another, however, classes are quite full at this point.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Congratulations Mr. Mikel

Congratulations to Mr. Mikel for his new position at Bremen Public Schools.

Last night at the Bremen school board meeting, Mr. Mikel was approved as the new Superintendent of Schools.

Mr. Mikel has been a principal and Assistant Superintendent for WCSC in charge of Curriculum and Instruction. He has been instrumental in overseeing the recent Writer's Workshop initiative as well as working with the Reading and Math coaches responsible for helping our schools with Accelerated Reading and Accelerated Math. He wrote all grants and grant budgets and organized all textbook adoption processes and textbook rental. He also served as expulsion officer and helped oversee the Alternative to Suspension and Expulsion program, plus many other things too numerous to list.

We wish him luck in his next assignment. I've truly enjoyed his quiet sense of humor and his ability to get things done. He will be missed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

More alternatives for gifted and talented students?

It looks like a few more high schools around the nation are pursuing alternatives beyond Advanced Placement (AP) classes at the high school level.

Here is an article about a few more AZ high schools jumping into it.

While I am not real familiar with this particular curriculum yet, it definitely sounds like a more expansive curriculum than what most AP classes currently offer.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Ouch..national survey says high schools fail to engage students?

A recent survey says...

A majority of high school students in the USA spend three hours or less a week preparing for classes yet still manage to get good grades, according to a study being released today by researchers who surveyed more than 90,000 high school students in 26 states.

The survey was done at Indiana University.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Here's another weird one

Here is a little a twist on the normal dissection in biology class.

Here is a story about a substitute biology teacher that did vivisection on a living dog in class.

Some parents objected to it even though the dog was scheduled for euthanization.

Via Edwonks.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Congratulations to WHS Academic Super Bowl teams and FFA

Congratulations are in order for the fine efforts of our Wawasee High School Academic Super Bowl Teams and the FFA National Soil Judging Teams competing at state and national finals.

Academic Super Bowl Teams at State Finals
Social Studies Team - 4th place
Science Team - 2nd place
Interdisciplinary Team - 2nd place

Future Farmers of America (FFA) Teams at National Finals
National Soils Contest - Eastern Regional National Champions - 3rd place overall

Congratulations to all team members and coaches who helped prepare them.

You represent us well!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Where there is smoke there could be fire

The high school had some excitement today. I just thought I would give everyone the straight scoop to prevent wild rumors.

Lightening struck a utility pool behind the high school which knocked out part of the high school's electrical system. Right before lunch of course. Then a motor in the boiler room overheated causing a small electrical fire. The head custodian put it out immediately but we called the fire department anyway to make sure that it didn't start again. Meanwhile REMC was trying to find the problem. They switched all the power off for about 20 minutes to repair it, so we evacuated the building for awhile so students and staff didn't have to sit in the dark.

Everything was back to normal by 1:00 PM.

Another day at the office.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Vouchers slow to spread

Across the nation, the school voucher movement has been slow to spread , even though the U.S. Supreme Court has declared it legal.

Evidently, a majority of Americans are not quite ready to take the word "public" out of public schools.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

New SAT's: More writing = better score?

At least one researcher reviewing the new SAT's, thinks that the more the students write, the better their essay score.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Bracey's Rotten Apple Awards

The Super's Blog is linking to Gerald Bracey's Rotten Apple Awards. Gerald Bracey, an educational researcher and author, annually publishes his satirical list of dubious awards given to individuals and organizations involved in education.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Pay to Play

Here is another result of inadequate funding in the transportation fund for some school districts.

Here is a school district that has had to start charging a fee for extra-curricular transportation of athletes.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Property taxes will rise

Maybe we should start a community contest to see who can come closest to predicting the date when the first legislator will complain about local school districts raising property taxes. The state pushes the funding responsibilities back to local boards, but gives them no control over how much they get to spend for their students.

The ugly truth is that our patrons are likely to receive even less money for their local students, but pay more for it while the state pays less.

Here is one of the first news articles to acknowledge it.