Say YES to a 6 class/year-long schedule

Say YES to a 6 class/year-long schedule

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Say NO to the Trimester Experiment

Although a number of teachers did their best in the Covid-19 world, the last three months of school were difficult for students and teachers alike. There is no point in discussing now what would have been a better way of doing things back in March. What is critical now is what is going to happen in August when our children go back to school. 

On Friday (7/24) at 11:30 AM the LBUSD Staff released their proposal for the upcoming school year. The report was prepared without any formal public outreach for input from students or parents. The Board of Directors moved forward and approved it on July 27th. 

This proposal changes the traditional model of six classes in two semesters to a trimester system with students taking only two courses per trimester. 

The notion that our children will receive a full year of instruction for a given subject within a trimester is untenable. Imagine the challenge for students who have not received mathematics since the school closure and who will not be enrolled in their math class until the third trimester. How can you expect them to come back after almost one year without any direct instruction, and then within 12 weeks absorb a full year of math to proficiency? Subjects like Spanish require incremental learning and repetition, how do we expect to compress nine months of schooling into three months? 

The trimester model will also negatively affect AP classes especially when students take an AP class in the Fall but will not take that subject’s AP test until Spring.

This plan was put in place by a selected group of staff members to support the cohort model where students may be able to return to school two days a week in groups of 10-15 students. The purported incentive is that creating cohorts is the only model that allows students to return to school. However, the virus is still an unknown variable to any plan. We may have increased flare-ups, a vaccine, or the virus may die out. Planning around good intentions of returning to school in cohorts does not facilitate an ideal educational model. The trimester model is a consolation prize to what parents asked for: returning students to school on a traditional schedule. 

The vast majority of the comments submitted by parents on Monday were against the proposed trimester system. Still, the board has voted to move forward with the trimester system and potentially offer an online alternative by what our Superintendent indicated would be a “remedial” type of learning that would not be taught by our teachers. 

Students and parents are offered only two very disparate choices, both which seem to be punitive: take an online course through some other offering that may or may not be as rigorous as their LBUSD education standards have dictated, or take a “what-if” scenario of trimesters that are unnavigated in our district but offer the only possibility of returning kids to class - part time - maybe. It’s like Sophie’s Choice but with our students’ education. Instead of offering the typical block schedule that students are at most familiar with and is a known quantity we are forcing students to experiment with something new in a time where everything is new and uncertain. 

Sticking with what we know, a regular 6 class, year-long, block schedule is something our students can navigate. All students will start school online anyway and we don’t know when Phase 2 will be implemented, or Phase 3 - if at all. In a block schedule, when schools open up perhaps we can revisit how we creatively put kids back in school. We can continue to follow the block schedule and move forward. Setting up the 6 class, year-long structure will allow students to seamlessly move into the classroom within the same format when they receive a vaccine or are cleared to return to school sites. 

Time is of the essence since our students begin school on August 24th. If you have a student in LBUSD or are a teacher working in LBUSD, or a Laguna Beach resident who is concerned about our schools, please join us by signing our petition so we can make it clear to the board and Superintendent that the trimester approach is not in our students’ best interest.