August 22, 2005

Teachers: "Send us gifts"

Wilmington, DE: "Teachers solicit gifts but get flak."

A letter from a Christiana High School faculty group soliciting gifts and money for teachers who promote positive student behavior has infuriated one business owner and puzzled administrators.

Christiana's teachers are "accustomed to focusing on the negative behaviors of students," said the letter from the school's Positive Behavior Support Committee.

To encourage teachers to spend more time rewarding positive attributes, the group is seeking donations such as gift certificates and "financial contributions" to buy teaching aids and "maybe even a small weekend getaway," the letter said.

The actual full letter is here.

The intent, says Principal Scott Flowers, was to raise funds for "positive behavior support" -- a "cultural shift" (oh oh -- edu-code!) in how discipline is administered. Instead of using school funds, local businesses were [to be] solicited by the committee.

Students who show respect, responsibility and other positive attributes qualify for the Viking Cards -- named after the school's mascot. Students can use the cards to buy Christiana High shirts, visors and other items from the school store.

(Quick aside: isn't that mascot name offensive to Scandinavian people? Isn't there a "cultural shift" towards doing away with such mascots?)

Sometimes teachers can be so clueless. Not many people outside the education realm want to hear about teachers' problems. They have their own problems. What if a teacher received a solicitation from a group of employees from a popular local business -- saying, for instance, that "their long work hours were taking their toll," and that to rejuvenate themselves they "needed an extra weekend getaway"? Come on, teachers! You may sympathize with these employees somewhat, but would you actually send them cash?

In addition, people outside edu-ville aren't accustomed to the edu-babble of today's schools. Folks reading "It's a cultural shift in the way we do discipline" will scratch their heads and wonder why kids are rewarded for doing what they're supposed to. And then, some of these folks are asked to contribute to this "cause"! District Superintendent Joseph Wise further adds to this (even though he came out and said he didn't endorse the committee's letter) by stating "It does take a village. If we're going to have world-class public schools in Christina, I want everybody to participate."

Hey, wasn't that the title of a popular senator's -- and former first lady['s] -- book? The sentiments may be noble, but again, many people (outside edu-ville) do not share them. This is a problem with educational bigwigs (and some teachers). Educational theory (i.e. edu-babble) begins to permeate everything. Why couldn't Wise have just said, for instance, "If we can get some local businesses to help us with coupons and promotions, that'll enable us to put more school funds towards classroom and building supplies"? Such a statement is straighforward and appeals to everyone. The "village" stuff, and Principal Flowers' "cultural shift" terminology effectively serve to alienate a significant portion of [their] served community.

And most of these are probably peeved at that "weekend getaway" passage already!

Posted by Felix at August 22, 2005 08:38 AM | TrackBack

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