Norwalk schools changes how gifted education is delivered

It won't drop the program
Cary Ashby
Jun 9, 2014

 

Norwalk City Schools won't be dropping its gifted education -- contrary to rumors and complaints by district parents -- but is changing the way the program will be implemented.

"We're supporting the program," said board president John Lendrum, although he added it may not be delivered the way parents are used to seeing it. "The program is not being eliminated."

The gifted program is required for the district to have, based on state law and board policies.

"We're delivering it in a different method. ... We have every intention of doing that," Lendrum said. "The board has been working on this issue."

Sue Goodsite, assistant superintendent and director of curriculum and grants, explained the situation to the Reflector via an email statement.

"Students will continue to be identified and serviced. The Ohio Department of Education states: Gifted instruction may be provided in large groups, small groups, and/or individually in a variety of settings. Settings include a cluster grouping where the curriculum is above (the) grade level," she said.

"Delivery may happen via an intervention specialist, in a resource room or in a self-contained classroom. The differentiated instruction in the general education setting may be provided by a teacher holding an endorsement in gifted education or a teacher who receives professional development regarding teaching gifted students. The curriculum is differentiated by providing access to advanced content and extension of the regular curriculum. Learning may be modified to challenge the student. Assignments and projects may be modified with alternatives based on a students' needs and abilities," Goodsite said.

Goodsite was asked what it means for gifted education to be delivered differently.

"This means students will not be pulled from the classroom, but serviced in the classroom with a differentiated curriculum that will provide additional assignments and projects with alternatives based on a student's individual needs. Students will continue to have W.E.P.s (written education plans) and assessments of their progress provided to parents," she said.

A mother, who declined to be named, emailed the Reflector on Friday expressing her "outrage" at what she called "the school board's last-minute, post-levy decision to drop a gifted program that has been serving Norwalk's most promising students for years."

"I have been a very active volunteer and I try to do everything I can to support my children's schools. Overall, we've been happy with the school system and have been grateful to be raising our children here. I was extremely disappointed, however, when I was informed of the school board's last-minute, post-levy decision to end gifted education," the woman said in a different email to addressed to Lendrum, the board president.

The mother, who has two children in the school district, seemed to have received confirmation about the gifted/ABLE program ending in an email Friday from Jeanette Beabout, a teacher for gifted elementary students.

"You are correct that the gifted/ABLE program will end this year," wrote Beabout, who encouraged the mother to speak to school board members about the future of the program.

"I have been transferred to League street school as a science/social studies teacher and I will be (your child's) classroom teacher. I worked with the other two teachers, Mrs. Selka and Ms. Hasselbach, for years, serving the gifted students in their classes. I tell you this to let you know that we all have experience specifically working with high-achieving students and (your child) will receive a differentiated and challenging curriculum next year," Beabout wrote to the mother.

The mother ended her email to Lendrum expressing her belief of how important the gifted program is.

"I am hoping that when you and the rest of the school board understand how important gifted education can be for some students, you will reconsider the decision to end it. If it is permissible, I would like to bring research-based information regarding the educational needs of highly gifted children to share with you during the board meeting. Gifted education is not a disposable 'extra.' For some students, it is an absolute necessity," she said.

Comments

ChristinaFD

Despite what the school board may be saying, the reality is that, after the levy was passed, they made a last-minute decision to eliminate a teaching position. One fourth grade teacher was leaving, and rather than replace that teacher, they chose to reassign the gifted intervention specialist to fill that position. That is an undeniable fact. They ARE ending the ABLE program. They may try to cover the situation up by saying that gifted education will be "delivered differently", but who is going to oversee their curriculums and make sure that the needs of these children are met when the school will not be employing anyone to do so? Regular classroom teachers just don't have time to come up with a completely different curriculum for one student. I feel that the board was deceptive by sneaking this through at the last minute without informing parents, and it is continuing its deception now by saying that it has a program in name only. Whether they admit it or not, ABLE no longer exists.

ISPSP

Here's another one for your consideration..... The high school and middle school libraries are now closed for next year. Yep, after the levy passed....

Kobayashi Maru

Incorrect. Both will be open. They will be serviced by an aide instead of a teacher from what I was told when I asked for my son, who loves books. This will give the students access to books while saving the district money. It's actually a win-win for the district.

ISPSP

Thank you for your response. Did they indicate how this will be executed? Will the libraries be open during the entire school day, or limited? Will the aides be able to help direct students to books they may be interested in reading?

Kobayashi Maru

Nope, sorry. Just said an aide would be there to run the library. I am not sure if all the details are worked out yet, but I was told the students would have access to books during the week.

ChristinaFD

Do you know of any other changes being made or why everything is happening all of a sudden?

Kobayashi Maru

Nope. Just what I heard when I called in and asked questions.

Tippythehippy's picture
Tippythehippy

How awful, Im hoping parents will be outraged and will fight back. Of all the low down, rotten things..... They seriously think everyone is that stupid to actually believe this lie.

ChristinaFD

Well, I, for one, AM outraged, and I'm trying to fight back. They are making it difficult though. They seem to be putting pressure on by coming down on a teacher who actually gave parents honest information and making parents seem like irrational rumor-mongers for voicing their concerns. I'm worried that most people will only read the headline and the first paragraph or two. I wish I were politically-minded enough to fight the spin job. :( I hope that ANYONE who knows of cuts they are making after the levy (like the library cut listed above) will make that knowledge known. Write the Reflector and keep commenting. At the very least, we can keep them from getting away with hiding it from everyone.

Chef Julio

Not sure who should be surprised by this. Does anyone REALLY think the government schools (and teachers union) are doing what they do - for the kids? They were never going to keep the libraries anyway. It was just used as a stick to beat Norwalk over the head with, in order to get even more of your tax dollars. What's the average income of a teacher in Norwalk compared with the average taxpayer? What kind of retirement benefits do teachers get compared to the taxpayer? What kind of medical benefits do the teachers get compared to the taxpayer? If you knew, you'd be shocked and you wouldn't keep accepting the "teachers are SO underpaid" mantra that the union has burned into their minds.

Windy

When ALL the taxpayers have college degrees, then we can compare the teachers' salaries to those of the taxpayers. Until then, we are trying to compare apples to oranges.

A typical teenage babysitter (without even a high school diploma) gets about $2 an hour per child. Teachers have about 25 children in their classrooms. So, using the babysitter's salary, the teachers should be paid $50 an hour. There are about 8 hours in a school day and 185 school days per year. So, using your reasoning, teachers should be making a salary of $74,000. In 2012-2013 in OHIO, the average starting wage for a teacher was $33,000 .... and that is after earning a COLLEGE DEGREE! The average salary for all the teachers in Ohio is $58,000. Looking at the DATA, I would say that teachers are underpaid.

What I cannot figure out is why anyone would want to be a teacher. They have to go through four years of college, maintain a license and keep their students' test scores up in order to make LESS than a BABYSITTER? Then, on top of that, they have to endure all the disrespect and ridicule from the public. The only reason I can think of that they become teachers is that they must care about the KIDS!

ChristinaFD

*applause* :-)

puppylove1

Are you kidding me? Windy has it all wrong. In what other job can you make that kind of money and have the entire summer off? There's too many teachers living off the fat of the land.

Windy

FYI the teachers have to take college classes during the summer months in order to keep up their teaching license, classes that they have to pay for OUT OF THEIR OWN POCKETS!

JMOP

Well said Windy! I agree 100%.

Kobayashi Maru

The Superintendent and the board making these moves has nothing to do with the union. These are union members having their jobs changed without any input. These moves were not made because the union got more money for their teachers since the levy passed.

Way to take a school story and try to bash teachers.

Sorry your life has not turned out like you had hoped!

earlduck

we need sports in our schools not libraries and ABLE,getting small town recognition is great,of course the bottom drops out at graduation but for a few years the parents and kids are celebrities

Tippythehippy's picture
Tippythehippy

LOL I think Im the only one who caught on to the sarcastic note :p

Kobayashi Maru

I caught it too!

ChristinaFD

I hope it was sarcasm! That would make me feel a lot less disgusted with the human race. : ) I'm notoriously bad at missing things like that.

ChristinaFD

I can't say I know much about the teacher's union, but I can say that the majority of the teachers I've interacted with in Norwalk genuinely do care for their students. It is evidenced by how hard they work and by the many unrequired hours and hard work they dedicate to educating our children. I bet most of them are afraid to speak up against the board, but if you ask them privately, they will tell you that they are just as frustrated with the decisions being made. These cuts are being made by the administration NOT the teachers. I do agree though that certain threats were made before the levy was passed, making it seem like those cuts wouldn't happen if the community came together in support of the school. Well, the community did come together and vote for the levy for one reason: We care about the education of the children in this community and we VALUE our young people. That is the message we sent. We did not send that message for the school board to turn around and quietly cut programs and teacher positions anyway.

ISPSP

You hit the nail right on the head! It's an issue to be addressed to the board and administration. The teachers of NCS haven't any say in either of these "adjustments/reassignments".

ChristinaFD

Well, I'll be at the board meeting tonight even though I'm terrified, and I don't even know if they'll let me say anything. No one from the school board has responded back to me, but I think that tonight's meeting is open to the public.

Kobayashi Maru

Every meeting is open to the public and there is time set aside for public participation. Compose your thoughts ahead of time, try not to get to worked up, and tell them what you think. Then be prepared to be interviewed by the Reflector reporter. He usually gets quotes from anyone who speaks out.

ChristinaFD

Thanks for the info! It's certainly more than I could get from the administration. I'm going to try to put together a concise list of talking points. I tend to get a little carried away!

buckeyemomma

ChristinaFD -- I am planning on going tonight as well and know of at least one other parent who is going to speak their mind. Hopefully, if enough parents voice their concerns it will raise awareness for the ABLE program. My son was in the ABLE program for math and I'm so angry that they are "restructuring" it. Not sure how group projects and in-class work is going to keep him challenged.

ChristinaFD

I'm glad I won't be alone!!! And by "restructuring," they mean reassigning the teacher and doing who knows what with the funding. No matter how they spin it, they dropped a teaching position. I'm also concerned with what I'm hearing about librarians for middle and hs... What in the heck is an education without TEACHERS and BOOKS??? Everything else, including the school board frankly, is EXTRA!

freespeech1

Then challenge him at home! You cant rely on the schools to do everything for your (special kid). Take some initiative.

ChristinaFD

We do, but he's a kid. Should he have to sit through 6 hours of school while everyone else works on what he already knows and then come home for more education. He deserves to PLAY. Are we telling the parents of disabled children to just suck it up and educate their children at home?? ALL kids deserve an appropriate education.

buckeyemomma

freespeech1, how do you know that parents of kids in the gifted program are not challenging their children at home? We challenge our son; however, I also expect that if the school tested him and is the one who labeled him as gifted, then they should be providing him with work that keeps him engaged.

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