Putnam Valley parents advocating for change in our curriculum
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This letter is respectfully submitted to the Putnam Valley Board of Education and District Leaders:
We are parents and taxpayers in the Putnam Valley School District. We respectfully sign and submit this letter to express our dissatisfaction with the path that our school district is on in the area of English Language Arts. From discussions and observing our childrens' school work, we see that the balance of instructional time for them has shifted towards more time with workbooks, test-preparation and isolated reading exercises, and less time diving deeply into connected reading and writing experiences. We see that our children are shifting away from being insightful, creative, constructive thinkers. We see that this trend becomes more and more intense beginning in 3rd grade and with a tremendous upsurge in grades 5 - 8. We think this trend is directly related to choices made by our district and building administrators, and not the fault of teachers. We want to revisit and express a district philosophy about what is best for our children in this area. We want classroom time used in a way that reflects this philosophy.
We think that our children are spending too much time doing computer-based reading programs, and online activities that circumvent direct teaching and learning. We think that the data presented by these on-line programs is not reliable or meaningful for the purpose of long term educational goals for our children. We think that the ReadyNY ELA workbooks should be treated as a supplemental set of activities geared at improving test scores, and that teachers should not be forced or allowed to use them as curriculum.
From speaking to other educators in various districts, we have found that they too, have incorporated common core to their curriculum, however have done so without sacrificing their children's learning experience in the process. We would like the district to limit the requirement for teachers to use the EngageNY modules. Many districts have moved away from incorporating the EngageNY modules into their curriculum based upon the lack of quality and adaptability present throughout the lesson plans.
We request a reevaluation of the approach to ELA curriculum K-8 that includes parents, and we request that the position of District Learning Specialist be filled by someone with a worldly range of experiences in ELA methods and curriculum.
We request full transparency and a protocol for hiring a District Learning Specialist, and for hiring all new staff at the PVCSD. This protocol should be made known to the community and should involve parent, teacher and Board of Education involvement in every step of the process.
We request full disclosure to parents for the amount of time students spend on computer based ELA and reading skills programs including Achieve 3000, Smarty Ants, IReady and Wordly Wise, and any other online programs that are graded by computers, including a weekly record of actual time children are spending on these programs, information about the content and scoring.
Lastly, we request that the Board of Education members seek out a broad range of information about what is happening in ELA classrooms directly from PVCSD teachers and parents through direct conversations that happen without building and district administrators being present.
The Putnam Valley Parent Community
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