Eliminating Academic/Racial Divisions at DHS

While DHS principal Lauri McKain-Fernandez’s recent letter on the PTA messageboard enlightened me to the “controversy” unfolding at the school regarding a “leveling of the curriculum”, I felt like the party guest that enters a group conversation 2 minutes too late. Laughing at the punchline of a joke I don’t get, I look around nervously from face to face trying to figure out what generic observation to inject into the conversation.

Except in this case of redesigning the DHS curriculum, it sounds like I’m at least a couple YEARS late.

Well, I’m feeling a bit less self-conscious today after finding this note/letter/FYI on the CDS website. While principal McKain-Fernandez’s note was quite detailed…it assumed the reader knew things that I didn’t. THIS newest note, assumes I know nothing (or at best, very little) …and thus is a more useful introduction/summary of the “heterogeneous” initiative at DHS.

Backed up by lots of lots of studies, research, data and newspaper articles, this “FYI” lays it all out on the table regarding the elimination of a many-tiered curriculum at the school and its reasons. It strongly asserts that this “leveling” is occurring due to 1) a distinct and noticeable racial divide at the school, between those in non-honors (mostly black) and honors (mostly white) classes and 2) students not “performing to their potential”. It cites linked-to articles, which show that ALL students in classes with a more even distribution of performance levels do better overall. Why? Essentially because being labeled as “smart” or “average” makes you/students lazy.

Read the whole note. It’s pretty interesting; even to this 20-something with no kids.

I can see how some parents, like joedecatur in a previous post, feel like their kids have become guinea pigs amid all of these changes (and CDS hasn’t even gone charter yet!) But I guess that’s part of being a very “progressive” community. There’s change/”improvement” going on all the time, everywhere. (Evidenced by the fact that a blog devoted almost entirely to a small suburb of Atlanta almost always has something to write about)

If (and that’s a big “if”) the outcomes promised by this kind of change are viable, and no one is negatively affected, this seems like a no lose situation. We’ll just have to wait and see what the numbers say a year or two from now.

But what do I know? I’m just a DINK.

"More Heterogeneous " Curriculum at DHS Causes a Stir

It seems that a recent proposal to dissolve a third level of social studies at DHS has caused a bit of a controversy.

In a letter to the community on the DHS_GA message board (posted in full after the jump), principal Lauri McKain-Fernandez explains that the intent behind this initiative is to mitigate the extent that students are grouped by academic ability (as this is usually detrimental to poorer performing students). She also gives examples of condensing the math program and applying for AP classes as examples that have been recently taken to disperse the student population more evenly in the past year or so.

The parents meeting discussing this issue will be held on Wednesday, May 7th from 7p-8:30p in the DHS Media Center.

If you plan to attend the meeting, make sure you read Principal McKain-Fenandez’s note first (after the jump). It’s definitely a bit more complicated than “eliminating the honors program”.

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