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the turnaround:

At Chaparral, some students resent changes they see as ‘extreme’

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Leila Navidi

Seniors Elsha Harris, center, and Crystal Carter, right, walk down the hall between classes at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Thursday, September 8, 2011.

Chaparral High School: Elsha and Crystal

Seniors Crystal Carter, center, and Elsha Harris, right, listen during a student council meeting at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. Launch slideshow »

The Turnaround: Chaparral High School

KSNV examines the Clark County School District's turnaround efforts at Chaparral High School.

David Wilson, principal of Chaparral High School, on Thursday, August 18, 2011.

David Wilson, principal of Chaparral High School, on Thursday, August 18, 2011.

This is another in a yearlong series of stories tracking efforts by the Clark County School District to improve student performance at five struggling schools.

Elsha Harris-Yolanda and Crystal Carter are having a hard time adjusting to the new sheriff in town at Chaparral High School.

The teenagers seem to be exemplary students — not the kinds who might find themselves in the cross hairs of a new principal who is charged with pulling Chaparral out of Clark County School District’s worst-performing list.

Elsha, who has a 3.2 GPA, and Crystal, who gets almost straight A’s, are athletes, cheerleaders and involved in student government. They’re talking about college and the workplace. They would seem to be the kind of students Principal David Wilson would get the least push-back from.

But they don’t like what Wilson is up to.

The first week of school, Crystal said, “was horrible.”

New rules forbid students from using cellphones during the school day or wearing ear buds to listen to music. Students are locked out of classes if they are late and forbidden from taking restroom breaks during class periods. There’s a midday snack break, but lunch does not come until 1:40 p.m., the end of the school day, the better to chase off students who start fights, deal drugs and cause any of a dozen other problems.

Wilson, who arrived over the summer to run the campus, says his efforts to clamp down on campus behavior are justified.

Just three in 10 freshmen who entered the school five years ago graduated last year — one of the worst graduation rates in the county. Indeed, years of troubling results on standardized tests at the national, state and local levels contributed to the transfer of the school’s popular principal, Kevin McPartlin, and half of Chaparral’s staff, as the School District’s new leadership designated Chaparral as a turnaround school, making it eligible for federal grant money.

Elsha misses the old staff, saying McPartlin and his team had helped her overcome many challenges.

“I’m supposed to be a statistic. I’m supposed to be pregnant. I’m supposed to have dropped out of school. I’m not supposed to be where I am, but I am because I push myself, because I’ve had teachers who believed in me, because I’ve had coaches who believed in me,” Elsha says.

Wilson, it seems, is dealing with students who are beginning the year carrying a grudge. His challenge: Transform the campus into an academic winner, even if it means offending student sensibilities.

“Mr. McPartlin put the pride back in this school,” Crystal says. “He made me proud to go to Chap when (outsiders) said this school was ‘so ghetto’ or ‘you go to such a bad school.’ I would say: ‘No I don’t. Come and walk my halls. Come and see what I see. Have my experiences.’ ”

Now she worries about the new school year with all of its changes. “If this is what it’s going to be like for the rest of the school year, I really question if I want to be at this school,” she says. “This isn’t the school that I fell in love with.”

Click to enlarge photo

Cheerleaders Elsha Harris, a senior, from left, sophomore Zaakirah Muhammad, sophomore Trynice Gordon and junior Quiana Forbes cheer for the team during Chaparral High School's first football game at Moapa Valley High School in Overton Friday, September 2, 2011.

Wilson, who arrived after serving as principal of Virgin Valley High in Mesquite and a middle school in Moapa, understands the emotional tug that a school, particularly a high school, has on students.

“Change is difficult,” Wilson says. “Relationships are everything. Principals, teachers, I understand that, and I get it. But it keeps coming back to that No. 1 goal, graduating kids. The changes are all about graduating kids. I wish I had a different, more empathetic response, but it comes back to that No. 1 thing.”

Wilson and the principals of the School District’s four other newly designated turnaround schools — Mojave and Western High Schools, and Hancock and Elizondo Elementary Schools — attended a weeklong seminar at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Management this summer for guidance on how to alter the culture, performance and results at academically troubled schools. Participation requires that each principal adopt a 90-day plan for the start of a school year.

LeAnn Buntrock, the program’s executive director, understands the emotions of students such as Elsha and Crystal, especially Crystal’s ties to Chaparral’s past principal and staff. “It’s like home for her, and that’s why David (Wilson) has to communicate a clear vision, that the changes aren’t because (any student) is being punished. There are still a number of kids who aren’t reaching their full potential, and we have to figure out ways to do that without putting down the reputation of the prior administration or teaching staff.”

There are emotional wounds to be healed, feelings to be calmed, but the focus must remain on students’ academic performance, which is more than a collection of standardized test scores, Buntrock notes. It is also about a child’s ability to read or perform math exercises at grade level, to think at higher levels, draw inferences from diverse material, to mesh concepts and not only grasp them but clearly explain their content to others.

“I don’t mean to boil it down to test scores, but when you’re part of an organization that has been chronically underperforming for several years, you are in need of a culture change because people become accustomed to operating in a certain manner,” Buntrock says.

The opportunity for change increases by 70 percent if new leaders are brought into a troubled school, Buntrock notes. “If you’ve been part of an organization for a long time it’s hard to come in one day and say, ‘You have to look at me differently; you have to look at the organization differently.’ ”

Buntrock’s program pushes the concept of “the quick win,” a rapid, positive transformation of a school that instantly grabs students, teachers, administrators, parents and the community.

For Wilson and Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones, Chaparral’s quick win came in the form of a $2 million investment in repairs to Chaparral’s battered physical plant. The school had few working toilets; filthy floors, walls and air ducts; deeply scarred windows; classrooms that required fresh paint; athletic fields and tennis courts that were torn up. School District work crews spent 80-hour weeks over a six-week period repairing the school, providing Wilson with what he described as a “wow” moment when students returned to what he has labeled: “The New Chap.”

Click to enlarge photo

Juniors Sarahi Berrelleza, center, and Tichina Savoy, right, tour the renovated bathrooms at Chaparral High School on Thursday, August 18, 2011.

Wilson’s administrative team also altered the class schedule, offering long and short classes in math, reading and other subjects, all designed to target teens with intensive instruction in classes where they have fallen behind.

Teachers meet in small groups to share some of the best practices in teaching math, reading, science and other subjects. Federal grant money has been used to bring in San Francisco consulting firm Teachscape, which offers classroom coaching to teachers with the aid of 360-degree cameras that allow teachers to see what they look like as they work.

Wilson has vowed to transfer teachers at the end of the third week if they fail to embrace and execute all aspects of the strategy. “Our No. 1 goal is to graduate those kids. That’s it,” Wilson says.

The new structure has shaken Crystal and Elsha, with the students feeling as though they are being punished for the school’s past academic performance. “I know we made mistakes last year, and sure those mistakes should be fixed, but it’s way too extreme,” Crystal says.

Wilson is aware of such concerns, but is confident that his changes will usher in a new culture of academic and social success at Chaparral. A week ago he visited every classroom in the school, inviting students to ask him questions about the transformation. He routinely walks the campus, fist-bumping teens before asking how they like the changes. Some say they do. Others do not. After his football team’s first game of the season, a 54-6 road loss to Moapa Valley High School, Wilson had the entire team to his home, where he and his wife, Karen, fed the boys and lit a huge bonfire in their backyard.

“People liked Kevin. Kevin’s very popular, and following him is not easy,” Wilson says of his predecessor. “I’m good at building relationships, so I’m not worried about it. Same thing with the teachers. Eventually the students will have built relationships with somebody else.”

Elsha remains cynical.

“A lot of the people who are coming back care about the school. We weren’t broken before, and it’s going to take time. You have to give it time, and I don’t think Mr. McPartlin or the old staff were given enough time. It’s just not fair.”

But what she says also gives Wilson hope:

“This is a new Chap for me, and I’m not saying it’s a bad Chap, but it’s not what I’m used to, and it’s going to take some time.”

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  1. Students in school should never be treated as prisoners. This is school and ruling students with an iron fist is wrong and is actually holding students against their will. It is nothing more than how people are subjected to in concentration camps and therefore this action should be illegal.

  2. No bathroom breaks during class? Uh, girls don't control when their periods start and do need to be excused. And are they just going to make kids with the flu throw up in class?

    Delayed lunch breaks until the end of the day? There are laws that prevent employers from doing this to their workers. Just because you're dealing with minors doesn't mean that you're exempt from the law. This new principal David Wilson is opening up Chaparral and CCSD for some lawsuits. And I know that there are lawyers out there just waiting for some students or parents to initiate legal action so that they can cash in.

    Locking students out of classrooms if they are late is a horrible idea. What happens is truancy officials will go around campus, and then escort the students to the library or detention hall where they get referrals for future detention and are then returned to class. It's awful because the students are then treated like common criminals and are literally hunted down as such. I remember stuff like this in my own high school years ago and can tell you it does no good. Plus is a huge waste of financial resources.

    I am in agreement with the electronics policy that bans iPods and Cellphones from use during class, but that is as far as it should go.

    If you start running a school like a prison by taking away students freedoms, then what do the truly bad students have left to fear? Like AP classes that prepare students for college, you're just preparing at risk students for an easy, seamless transition into incarceration with these ridiculous rules. That in turn leads to their further acting out and demoralizing the remainder of the student body who begin to sympathize with them when they too feel oppressed. It then places previously stable students at risk.

    Bottom Line: If you have students that are acting out, then you need to remove them from regular classes so that they cannot disrupt the learning process. If they're constantly late, acting out, or otherwise failing or disrupting classes, this is what "At Risk" programs are for. This isn't "Full Metal Jacket" where the actions of one demand the punishing of all. Most importantly it doesn't sound like the staff are the problem:

    "...Chaparral's quick win came in the form of a $2 million investment in repairs to Chaparral's battered physical plant."

    Really? Toilets that didn't even work? Neglected athletic fields and buildings? CCSD neglected and demoralized both the staff and students, yet wonders why they didn't take school seriously? I wouldn't take a job somewhere that didn't have working restrooms, why would it be any different for a student?

  3. I have a daughter in school and I always showed her why it is important to do well in school and take it seriously and she does making good grades but the schools can defeat all my parental training if they make it a prison or concentration camp in which my daughter will then hate school.

  4. My child also attends Chaparral High. The resentment is in the little things. The counselors are all new, every other teacher is a stranger, the band and cheerleaders not able to attend away games, even after receiving $9 million in turnaround funds. Parents spending thousands of dollars on uniforms and equipment to be denied seeing their kids perform at away games. Seniors walking into the school feeling like freshman is not how your senior year should feel. The lunch time is ridiculous at the end of the day. Kids in marching band without uniforms. Sure we have a new track and bleachers, but that happened on McPartlin's watch, that doesnt happen in one summer. Cracking down on the drugs and truancy should be a focus, not cellphones and ear buds!

  5. @bigwall

    Yes, really. When you place students on literal "lock-down" where their freedoms are restricted, their is no leniency for tardiness, and when they either show up late for class or not at all to school and you have truancy officers hunt them down like escaped prisoners, then yes, you are in fact treating them like prisoners. And you wonder why they don't fear the police or jail sentences?

    MP3 players and Cellphones should be banned from use in classrooms, absolutely. If a student is caught using one, send them to the office. Repeat offenses go the route of suspension and start holding parents more accountable like we already do for truancies. You want to stop phones from ringing in the classroom? Easy. Install Cellphone Jammers like some movie theaters do that interrupt the signal to block incoming and outgoing calls. Tie them into the fire alarms so that in case of emergency calls can then be placed. Not a big deal, and costs thousands less to the school.

    Confiscating MP3 players and Cellphones is not an option. It's too much liability for the school and faculty. From physical damage, to items that turn up missing, to even damaged software and incurred charges. Not to mention the big items say if a student had a cell phone confiscated, couldn't get it back, and then wound up seriously injured or was even killed because they couldn't call for help since their phone was taken away... You bet the school would then face some serious lawsuits.

    The students need to be motivated, sure. And there are ways to do that. But you can't encourage positive behaviors in good and average students if you're punishing the good and average students for the actions of the bad ones. All you do is demoralize them all equally.

    Chaparral wants to increase test scores and graduation rates? Not going to happen under this new principal. The great students who can will transfer out to the other charter schools where their eventual graduations will be counted under THOSE school's statistics. Chaparral will see a decline in graduation rate as well as test scores there through this inevitable "brain drain" (something that coming from Mesquite I'd think this guy should already be familiar with). Likewise average students will either sink or swim too if they can get away to graduate elsewhere. Even if they do stay, since the star pupils will already have left the schools test scores are going to lower. The rest of the average students will be demoralized further and will just act out more.

    Bottom Line: Remove the problem students by placing them into "At Risk" programs where they: A. Can't bother other students. & B. Can get the focused help that they need to help them graduate.

  6. @ troyjrjackson

    Likewise I am in agreement with you. You absolutely hit the nail on the head!

    Schools do in fact receive money from the state for their daily attendance rolls. So hiring on extra security staff to hunt them down like cattle is what they do. The cost of the staff is less than the money received for "capturing" each student and returning them to school, so it's purely a business move. Not to mention that by boosting attendance rolls this way also helps the principal keep his or her job let alone make any bonuses. As such the motivation for a school is more about finances than academics, and it hurts the students in the process.

  7. "Elsha misses the old staff, saying McPartlin and his team had helped her overcome many challenges."

    It's good to hear Elsha is doing well, but the old staff apparently did not do their job in creating a learning environment for all students. The new princple is doing what is needed, changing the conditions, to create a much needed learning environment for all student.

    For Elsha Harris-Yolanda and Crystal Carter, the article is written to show that "some" students can excel in difficult situations. What these two student must recognize is they now have a responsibility to support the changes at their school to help other student be the best they can be.

    Being featured in this article is nice, but what about the other students that have struggle in the past because the learning environment was not right, because the old staff did not provide the necessary learning tools or attention because of distractions outside the class room?

    These students in this article are a good example of other factors that have supported their success in a difficult learing environment. Most likely, involved parents, community support such as church and neigborhood activities. And the obvious, Elsha Harris-Yolanda and Crystal Carter seem to support each other.

    These two "now" need to support the princple and not seem to look selfish and asking for the old status quo which was part of the problem for all students.

  8. The posters here are whining as much as the high school kids are.. and you wonder where they get it. School should be a structured, disciplined, learning environment, good on the staff. For the students, this means after school time is something to look forward to.

  9. How many kids are now on time for class?

    When I was in high school, no one and I mean no one went to the bathroom during class. There were very few exceptions. You go to the bathroom between classes. Are you trying to say that kid's bladders are smaller than bladders 30 years ago? No, I didn't think so. You kids have been spoiled and have a total lack of discipline. The world does not revolve around you! Spoiled brats!! Turn off the electronics, pull your pants up, SHUT UP, SIT DOWN and learn.

  10. @Longtimevegan

    I love your quote:

    "These two "now" need to support the princple and not seem to look selfish and asking for the old status quo which was part of the problem for all students."

    Absolutely not, they don't need to life a solitary finger for the principal nor anyone else. Just because someone is in a position of authority doesn't mean that we're suppose to blindly endorse nor support them. By that reckoning you yourself shouldn't have been so selfish and should have supported the mayor. Instead I believe on 2/18/10 at 6:34 a.m. you wrote,

    "The Mayor is a drunk who defended crooks and killers, how is the hell did he get elected?"

    Not a personal attack, but what I am pointing out is the hypocrisy that these students should just shut up and do what they're told with no input as to what they're doing, when any other debate here clearly shows that whenever any sort of civic or governmental authority initiates a plan, no one ever accepts the notion that they should just blindly support the person and the implementation.

    Once again, just because they're minors doesn't mean that they're wrong nor are they exempt from having any rights. And just because this principal and many others are older doesn't make any of you automatically right nor that you have any MORE rights than they do.

  11. You can complain about how he runs this school but in a couple years lets see what the graduation rate is. He has stated with 30%, one of the lowest in the country.

    He has a hell of a hill to climb and it seems that many people that have never worked at any school here want to tell him how to run a school.

    Why would he even want to take on a job like this? Many would feel he is being set up to fail and with the public the way they are about not caring about education maybe he is.

    I wish him luck because these kids deserve much better then they have received in the past both from their school and their parents.

  12. if the kids and parents didn't want the new strict rules, maybe more than 3 of 10 should of graduated.

  13. I volunter ten plus hours a week at Chaparral High School. It is an amazing place with so many students trying to get the most they can out of the school, academically and socially. This turn around transition has been very difficult for so many of them. The newspapers, public, administration and school district has made this change even more difficult. They have attacked many of the teachers and the previous principal who created a positive and loving school environment for these kids over the last several years. Test scores, attendance and graduation rates were increasing under the previous administration; just not quickly enough for the students that it was failing. Change is necessary, but you cant capture the students loyality when you are attacking some of the only adults that have ever shown that they cared. One of the glaring differenced between this administration and the previous one is that the entire country is watching. These teachers and administration are receiving funding and training in a way that the previous ones did not. Case in point -- The first glimpse I received of McPartlin was him outside in the Vegas summer painting the school himself to try to get it ready for the students when they returned, this administration received 2 million dollars and an entire team of people to remodel the school to make it a "new" place for the kids. This administration and its team have spent countless hours in training to prepare them to make the school successful, where was that help when it was failing? I truly, truly hope that this administration is able to turn the school around and I applaud all their hard work and effort. But please stop attacking the previous administration and teachers, the kids take those attacks personally.

  14. ok lock out a kid who is late for class...hmmm...regardless of the reason??? or do they even bother to ask? let me ask you. you're 30 seconds maybe a minute late for whatever reason. Admin doesn't want you to be what? a distraction coming into class late? If they're so worried about academics what good does that do for a student who IS working hard to just get by to be denied the days education of that class or the test that day or just missing that key piece of learning information they needed to finally understand a topic they've been struggling on? No just lock em out huh? "You were late, so we're not teaching you anything till tomorrow." "Then you have to work harder and struggle even more to catch up." "oh and by the way, You don't need to eat until after school because that must be what's getting in the way of your education!" Really people? Is this what we are coming to? I went to Chap and my kids goto Del Sol and I hear they are going through similar changes soon. I loved their principal Ms. Angelcore(sp), she was there for the students and for us as parents. She listened and responded effeciantly to concerns and ideas we had as a whole. She was the first REAL principal we have ever had in the 12 years of schools we have ever came across here in the valley. And she was ripped away from us because of the failing situation of the school. We need to WAKE UP PEOPLE and be honest with ourselves. It boils down to PARENTING!!! I ride my boys about school, I check online for their missing assignments, and ask why? and I follow up and I follow up again and I follow up AGAIN if I have to. And I'm not a jerk to them about it, I just let them know I care and that nothings gonna slip by us so just take care of it on their own before I get on them about it. They've learned to be proactive as solve most of their problems on their own now. My oldest is a senior this year, is in all AP classes, is on the football team. Me and my wife take a great deal or responsiblity for that, because we care what they are doing and why they are doing it. And before you say "well we don't have that kind of time to do that we have to work to keep a roof over our heads." MAKE TIME! I have been working 2 jobs for 16+ years, because I do what I gotta do. That includes raising and teaching my boys to be men and getting what they need out of school, not just the books, but discipline. They're YOUR KIDS! you can only raise them ONCE! If they fail in life...YOU FAIL! This is my rant. Not re-read or checked for spelling, so plz don't judge ;)

  15. Many of the new rules have been enacted to make Chap a safer place. I agree with the ban on electronics - no class should be distracted like that. They should not however take phones away from students on their nutrional break or during passing.
    At first I agreed with the no passes during class. But sometimes the students just do not have enough time during passing periods. There is no lunch for the students during the middle of the day to utilize that time for the restroom, which is what I told my daughter to do until she pointed out there was no lunch break. They have a nutritional break but then you are telling them to choose between eating something or using the restroom. Most days my daughter just waits until the end of the day to use the restroom, which is not healthy.
    I am glad they are enforcing some of the district rules, but some of them might need just a little adjusting.

  16. I am totally opposed to kids leaving class to go to the bathroom. However, passing periods are limited to 5 minutes. The administration feels that this allows the students enough time to get to class but minimizes that amount of time that students can talk or goof around, thus reducing the number of fights, etc. So if it is the perfect amount of time to minimize loitering in the halls, how is there enough time to use the restrooms? If you stop to use the restroom and are late to your next class, you will be locked out.
    I have always told my children if they do not have enough time to use the restroom during their passing period then they should wait until lunch. They do not get lunch until 1:46 four days a week. My daughter has not asked for a pass because she will not break any rules, so she just waits until the end of the school day. Every day I hear the kids joking about someone bouncing up and down during class because they had to pee but wouldn't/couldn't ask to leave class. The sad thing is the students that this really effects the most are the good kids who would never dream of breaking the rules.
    By the way your employer gives you breaks during the day, they dont wait until the day is over.
    I understand why they moved the lunch break to the end of the day, but other schools have tried it and it didn't work so well for them either.

  17. No lunch break is the dumbest thing Ive heard. Lunch is a great time to socialize, relax, eat, and recharge yourself for the rest of the day. No cell phone or iPod/iPad should be used in class, that's fair, but outside of class I see no problem.

  18. I think the school is managed perfectly. It's supposed to condition the students to be consumer drones and laborers. They must be controlled by the media/government/wealthy and school prepares them for that.

  19. Parents need to call Action 13 and get this Principal prosecuted.

  20. Let's begin with the purpose why schools exist: Education of children -- to make them contributing members of society. ALL students have the right to proper education. To serve this purpose, schools must do what it needs to do so long as children are not hurt and are safe. Parents must respect that.

    To provide education, schools have teachers, books, computers, and electronic equipment used as tools to teach. Those have been sufficient all these years.

    Cell phones, MP3 players, and the like are NOT necessary in school to get a good education. There are no acceptable excuses to have them in schools NO MATTER how grand the excuse may be. Children are in school for six/seven hours. They have the rest of the 24 hours -- 17 to be exact to play/mess with their 'toys.'

    Lunch at the end of the school day (2:00 p.m.?) with nutrition breaks is enough. The school wants to utilize as much time as possible allowed by law to educate the children. Respect that. Give your children a hearty breakfast before they go to school. Wake up early and cook/eat breakfast. Nothing to eat at home? It is not the school's fault. It is your responsibility as a parent to feed your children.

    Bathroom breaks? I work in an elementary school. I allow them one bathroom break in the morning and one in the afternoon and only when I am not teaching. No one has complained. You see -- when rules are established from the very start and are consistent, children normally get used to the routine and there are no problems. That is the hallmark of discipline.

    Too much of the parents' responsibility are passed on to schools. This has to stop! You want good education for your children? Do your share. Teach your children RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY, and RESILIENCE. If you are not doing it, or you don't know how to do it, let schools do what it must do. If you don't like what schools are doing, go to the school and observe -- not for one day -- but for as long as you can to gather enough data that will support your claims that indeed the school is causing children harm. You cannot just mouth off your accusations based on your presumptions. OR, put your children in PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

  21. Nancy,
    You have said all there is to be said, and eloquently.
    Troy Jackson, you are doing yourself & your child a disservice with your less than "adult-like" rantings.

  22. iliveforlife:

    First: Good for you! You are ahead of everyone else, but suffering?

    What is so urgent that can not wait for a few hours? Other arrangements can be done before school. Planning ahead is good practice.

    Your education is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. It is a privilege and be glad it is provided to you FREE. Your good grades and graduation from high school are the REWARDS for your hardwork.

    Because you are a good student, you should be ENTITLED? It does not say anywhere that the school should provide you with entitlements. The school's responsibility is to provide you with a good education. THAT IS ALL.

    Rules must be CONSISTENT. It has to be to make it work.

  23. Mr. Wilson needs to look at who provides the funding for his job. It comes through the Dept of Education, not the Dept of Corrections.

    This is too extreme, too harsh, and defies basic common sense. While the need to impose some control is understandable, this is taking it way too far.

    I look forward to the Las Vegas Sun's reporting on Mr. Wilson getting the boot and reading about him whining out loud and asking why his plan didn't work. It's just a shame that his impending career FAIL is going to take a lot of good kids down with him.

  24. Chapsenior:

    No. I do not think children are bad. They may make bad choices, but they are not bad. It's the parents or whoever raised them that failed to help them make/know which are the right choices. The environment they are in oftentimes exacerbates this problem.

    As I have stated in my comment, CHILDREN MUST NOT BE HARMED AND CHILDREN MUST FEEL SAFE IN SCHOOLS. That is the school's priority and the school's responsibility. Failure of the school to provide this environment is inexcusable.

    If what you say here is actually happening, IT SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED. Note down names, times, and dates and GO TO THE AUTHORITIES. This is very important because grown-ups tend to NOT LISTEN to children. This will be your proof.

    Speak at the board meetings, send a letter to the SUPERINTENDENT, involve a few of your classmates. If there's many of you, there is strength. DO NOT BE AFRAID to speak out. As an A student, you be a leader for those who have no voice. THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO PROVE your mettle. Again, DO NOT BE AFRAID. You are doing something to correct a situation. I urge you to do it. In my own way, I will use your letter and write to several people to investigate this. I admire your strength for writing to the paper and to me. We'll see. The law says children have rights to education in a LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT.

    I stay firm on cellphones and such. Make your arrangements before you come to school. Learn how to plan ahead. This is an important skill in school and in adult life. Right now, the school is still getting the 'kinks' out of the process of change. Be patient. It will smooth out soon.

  25. Teachers and students make connections. If you remove all the familiar people, I guess you get "reform" but it's like taking away a family member.

    The sad thing will be when they go through this trauma and in 5 years, scores will not have improved. Significant change is not sustainable in areas where poverty, racism and disenfranchisement have caused generations of people to be discouraged.

    It's not the teachers or the schools - it's the stagnant and discouraged COMMUNITIES that need to be addressed. Teachers only see students for 10% of their lives. It it hard to affect significant change if families and the entire area doesn't receive support.

    I'm tired of people expecting teachers to do it by themselves. I will continue to do what I can - because I believe I make a difference. But if my students fail to score well - I have to take a deep breath and say, I could only do what I could do with the time I had.

  26. On behalf of the Teaching Community, I wish to THANK Angie Sullivan, for her tireless support, for the students, educators, and community. You plant those seeds and they WILL grow in due season. "For everything, there is a time, purpose, and season, under Heaven."

    Standing in FAITH that all things will work together for the GOOD for those who believe.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  27. Wow, what a discussion...publish these as a book. No other explanation will be needed to explain what is wrong with our educational system. The inmates are running the prison. (That is what it is referred to.) Now, there are rules in life. If, at the high school level you have not realized this, you are in trouble. The comments in this section, I try to identify the one's that are student and the one's that are adult. Seems to me, some adults are protecting an old way, instead of appreciating the fact that someone is trying to make a difference. Great students are not above the rules and if they are so great, they could be the leaders they claim, put down the cell phones, pee before class, get there on time, and for your own sake, learn about your period, you will have them for many years to come and you won't be able to leave the shuttle if it happens when you least expect it.

  28. I have a couple of observations about public school teachers and administrators. Some of these folks go into the field of education in order to make a positive difference in the lives of their students and attempt to instill a love of learning in them that will last a lifetime. Others go into the field to bully individuals younger than themselves. Also, it appears that in our public schools the phrase "zero tolerance" has come to mean zero common sense.