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Sun Jun 29, 2014, 08:01 PM

St. Paul schools looking to ease concerns about discipline, disorder


...At Murray Middle School, Bill Mills, a parent, said he believed the school’s new leaders were given a tough, multifaceted assignment without adequate planning at the district level, leaving a “mess” that administrators and teachers had to figure out. For his son, a sixth-grader at the time, the lesson became: “How do you get by in a less-than-perfect environment?” Mills said.

Principal Stacy Theien-Collins said that 2013-14 was a year of “monumental change” for students and the difficulties were shared by all district middle schools. The key in the year ahead, she said, is to adjust and improve.

Last Thursday, a school discipline committee that included Mills put in motion plans to enlist mentors to help 25 eighth-graders with their academic, social and behavioral needs, and to add a special-education staff member to each of the school’s academic teams to “consult around the needs of learners with disabilities,” Theien-Collins said.

5 new support staff with a coordinator. Before school planning. My grandson starts here next year. Fingers crossed. His Dad went here too.

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Reply St. Paul schools looking to ease concerns about discipline, disorder (Original post)
kickysnana Jun 2014 OP
RandySF Jun 2014 #1
mbperrin Jun 2014 #2

Response to kickysnana (Original post)

Sun Jun 29, 2014, 08:57 PM

1. Herd is why we gave up on our public school system.

Chong Thao, who teaches at Como Park Senior High and was one of the five teachers who had challenged district leaders, said in a statement to the board in April: “There are students who are frustrated with the elevated levels of disruption in classrooms. There are students who feel unsafe and anxious as they witness a school out of control, where fights occur on a weekly if not daily basis.”

We wanted to be good progressive parents and work with our local principal and school district to make our local school a safe and sane learning environment. But through all the speeches, programs, and promises that things will get better, our son was still getting beaten up at least once a week. And that was in KINDERGARTEN. We could not bear to think what waited for him when he reached middle school. That's the chief problem with improving an education system. Time is a luxury parents just do not have.

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Response to kickysnana (Original post)

Sun Jun 29, 2014, 11:43 PM

2. You've got to commit the resources. And yes, it costs money.

I'm the lead teacher in a large urban high school inclusion classroom for five out of six periods a day. I have regular students, special education students, emotionally disturbed students, blind students, deaf students, English Language Learners, students in wheelchairs, you name it.

We average 30 students per period. I have an inclusion teacher, who is a special ed teacher with a Master's degree IN special ed, I have a teacher who signs for deaf students, I have another special ed teacher with a Master's specialization in emotionally disturbed students, all of whom are in the classroom whenever their particular special population has a member present.

On demand, we have assistant principals, campus police, the department heads of ELL, Special Ed, and Social Studies. It's the first non-boring job I've ever had. In 10 years, we have had exactly one classroom disturbance, and that was a regular student breaking up with her boyfriend, resulting in her shoving a desk around.

So does it cost money to have 3 master's level teachers in a room plus an interpreter? Yep, and the results are worth it. The senior class overall has a nearly 30 per cent failure rate, but our rate in our inclusion part of the world was less than 15 per cent, and in every case, was caused by poor attendance.

Maslow was absolutely right - if kids don't feel safe and supported, nothing good can happen. Sounds like St Paul is trying it on the cheap. Don't know how big the school is, but 6 total new staff don't seem like much. Best of luck to them, but they really need to commit to doing what is actually needed.

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