Thursday, May 29, 2008

Half days for a week?!?

So, does anyone think these half days work? Last year they were sprinkled throughout the year and on those days attendance was awful. Since attendance is one of the metrics used in grading schools this was a problem. So the solution this year is to put all the half days together during the last week of school. The only advantage is that attendance records have no doubt been turned in so no one cares that attendance is non-existent. The down side is that looking at the number of school days Baltimore City Schools looks like it is meeting the state requirement, but in reality at least 5 of those days are totally bogus. Maybe 5 days isn't a big deal, but this is dishonest.

Another problem I have is that I'd like to teach my kids that you go to work on workdays. There are days when I have no desire to go to work, but I do. It just seems to me that that is what is expected of a professional. It's been made clear that attendance in the last week is optional. Generally their teachers don't want them to be there on the last days. This happens every year, but this year it's for an entire week. So do I drag my kids to a logistical nightmare where their teachers say "Go home!" just to make a point about work ethic?

I'm not saying this is a big problem, like class size or violence, but it makes me crazy.


  1. I understand your frustration with half-days. I admire your courage and perseverance in working with the school system. I teach under the premise that I'm trying to preprare my students for life. It's hard when the current policies of the school system does not provide actual consequences for students. It is not uncommon for students to have an enormous amount of unexcused absences and then show up near the end of the semester or year to demand make-up work. Then, the burden is shifted to the teacher to scramble, stay after school and utlimately pass the student. I would like to know of jobs which allow people to get paid 40 hours only for working 2.

  2. Having been a former teacher of the city school system I would like to say that many teachers would like to continue to teach until the last day but in many cases it is not the teacher but the administrator in the building that has set the tone. The school system would be wise to pay teachers for 195 or 200 days and allow teachers the opportunity to set up a vibrant learning environment at the start of the school year and then a week after the students leave for the summer to take care of the professional responsibilities and paperwork that are required without requiring them to sit in endless meetings that make very little difference to teachers and students.
    As it stands now in some schools text book, technology and other instructional resources are/have been collected and inventoried as early as the end of May. So teachers are teaching without the aid of curricular materials that are outlined in the school systems own published curriculum. In addition to this teachers are required to close attendance and also close grades and produce report cards a good week before the end of the school year not to mention update cumulative file for each student (which should in this day and age be electronic) but requires a teacher to handwrite the same information in different ways at least three times. If the school system simply extended the year and made report cards and attendance due a week after students leave then texts, technology could be collected without an impact on student learning without expecting teachers to complete these activities during the school year or without pay. That would make it an honest 180 days of instruction.

  3. First, if a student has a large amount of unexcused absences and shows up at the end of the year demanding make-up work, they should get the entire (next) year to do the make-up work. In the same grade.

    Second, the half days are ridiculous, and show that the system is more interested in administrative navel gazing than educating students.

    For the most part, the kids just watch TV on these days, anyway.


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