Community comments I hope to deliver at tonight’s school board meeting:
I am here to speak about the science curriculum review recommendations that news coverage indicates you will be asked to approve at the next regular board meeting.
Tonight, I urge the board not to take action to adopt science curriculum recommendations at the next board meeting.
Here’s why: the science curriculum review proposals are not a straightforward textbook adoption that would be easy for us all to understand. Instead, due to the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, the proposals involve significant changes to the district science curriculum. Unfortunately, not enough information has been provided to the community for us to assess how well the proposals will meet the full range of science programming needs of our secondary students.
Fortunately, the Next Generation Science Standards do not have to be implemented until the 2018-19 school year, so there doesn’t seem to be any reason the board–and the community–can’t hear a detailed presentation from the administration at the next board meeting about the proposal to implement the Next Generation Science Standards in the Iowa City Schools, with the board delaying action until the community has an opportunity to provide feedback about the proposal.
The state sets the standards, but we have options about how we, as a district, organize those standards into courses. And choices, also, to make about instructional methods and materials to be used in these courses.
Members of the community have questions about which options are really on the table with this proposal and whether the proposed options are really the best ones for the kids of this district. Questions about proposed course sequences and course syllabi. About whether there will be separate honors course offerings and how decisions will be made about which students get access to accelerated course work. And questions about textbooks and other instructional materials. Very little information, if any, has been provided to the community to answer these questions.
So, please, hear the administration’s presentation, then take at least a few weeks to allow the community to weigh in on the plan before authorizing the administration to move forward with it.