Mind and Wisdom Curriculum under review in RE-1
A vote to dissolve the current primary education mind and wisdom curriculum was tabled at the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School District Education Council meeting on Tuesday evening.
The school board voted against the motion after Superintendent Risha VanderWey said it was likely necessary to get clearance from the Colorado Department of Education before canceling the program because the district is following a plan to ‘continuous improvement.
“We can’t just pull things off without checking with CDE because they’ve – with our continuous improvement plan – they’ve accepted what we’re teaching and what we’re teaching,” she said.
In previous meetings, board members have found the Mind and Wisdom curriculum to contain elements of critical race theory – a hotly debated topic that has sparked controversy at meetings of the school board across the country – and which has helped escalate tensions in the RE-1 school district. among the vast staff shortages and other debates.
The Board of Directors voted to adopt an official document, titled “Resolution Opposing Principles of Critical Race Theory,” at its monthly meeting on September 21.
In Cortez, views on the current program range from vehement opposition to consistent support. Some think it is ineffective and / or teaches harmful division, others think it is effective in teaching history and reading, and still others insist that critical race theory does is not at all present in current teachings, qualifying it rather as a graduate. -the level theory is not rooted in the primary school curriculum.
Nonetheless, critical breed theory was not explicitly mentioned at Tuesday’s board meeting. Rather, the conversation about Wit and Wisdom focused more on its effectiveness in meeting educational standards. However, when it was decided that the curriculum would not change immediately, Board Chair Sherri Wright asked, “Are you going to be working with the teachers for the rest of the year to make sure we don’t teach. not something that will disturb the community? “
Executive director of university student services Jim Parr said the district has implemented and started encouraging a list of additional materials, but not all teachers are using them.
Council member Tammy Hooten asked to add the vote on removing the program to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.
She said Wit and Wisdom fell short of standards and that surveys completed by K-5 teachers reflected a majority desire to cut lessons.
VanderWey suggested speaking with the CDE first to get approval to drop the curriculum – if not, she said the district could be in “dire straits.”
“Eliminating something without something in place leaves our administrators and teachers in a very difficult situation, especially as we are in the process of improving the school,” she said.
Hooten agreed to VanderWey speaking with the CDE before further action was taken, saying she did not want to do anything to endanger the district.
The CDE recognizes Wit and Wisdom as supplementary education, defined as “education that goes beyond that provided by the full core curriculum because the core curriculum does not provide enough education or practice in a key area. to meet the needs of students in a classroom or school. “
It was adopted in 2019, Parr said.
The results of the polls in question were divided by grade level, Hooten said. In kindergarten, she said, six out of six teachers wanted to eradicate the Wit and Wisdom curriculum. In the first year, four out of six voted to keep the program. In grade two, there was no tally available – but there were comments like “negatives”, “very strong programs, very high expectations” and “struggling students will suffer”. In grade three, six out of seven teachers voted against the program. In fourth grade, there was no tally available, but Hooten said there were “‘no’ remarks.” In fifth grade, there were seven negative comments, she said.
Hooten said Parr shared the polls with the board a few months ago.
“So basically we got 50% of the responses from people, because we don’t know some of the responses. I follow the same adage – we can please 50% of people 50% of the time, ”said Stacey Hall, board member.
There are currently 52 primary teachers, although not all are certified – some are long-term replacements, said executive director of human resources Cyndi Eldredge. That total does not include teachers in Outstanding Student Services, she said.
“I keep hearing that teachers do so much work to pull things out and try to make them work,” said board chair Sherri Wright.
She asked if this was happening under the direction of the board, or if it had been underway.
Parr said some teachers have completed the lesson plans “to a small extent”, although this has not been requested so far. VanderWey said supplementation occurs with every study program.
“I would love to give it all up now and find the perfect program – that’s not going to happen,” Wright said.
VanderWey said Parr is commissioning other programs to assess other options the district may have to teach reading skills more effectively.
Wright expressed his frustration, saying educational processes are slow and some in the community believe the board is not taking action as a result.
“Just out of curiosity, so if we’re on this improvement plan, wouldn’t they (CDE) look at our program and say ‘Why are you using this program? Asked Sheri Noyes, board member.
Noyes said she was concerned that the CDE did not step in to more actively guide the district in improvement, rather than wait to assess the district’s progress at the end of its term. five-year improvement.
Deputy Superintendent Lis Richard said the CDE expects the district to use the program described on its website. She said the CDE would take action if the district used an unapproved curriculum.
VanderWey said that despite the poor test scores, the district has seen “a huge increase” from previous numbers.
VanderWey said it takes three to five years to improve schools. Currently, schools statewide are on a two-year accountability hiatus and academics will not be evaluated, Richard said.
Parr said teachers would face challenges implementing a new mid-year program, and VanderWey said she had never made a mid-year program change before.
“If we decide to change programs, we need to make sure that we have enough time to do all the appropriate revisions and that teachers have information before school starts next year,” Wright said.
Richard said there should be specific guidelines used when reviewing the language arts curriculum.
Superintendent Risha VanderWey was unavailable for comment Thursday or Friday.
Colorado Department of Education communications officials did not respond to Newspaper requests for comments.