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Students Protest Schedule Changes

hsscheduleWhat seems like a small schedule change may have a deeper impact. At the May 8th Board of Education meeting, student Holly Rittmaster presented a petition started by another student, Lila Horwood, that protested the upcoming changes to the Scarsdale High School Schedule. The petition says the following: "Starting next year, in the 2017-18 school year, our schedules are being extended 75 minutes a week, and we will only have homeroom twice a week. As stressed and concerned members of the Scarsdale High School community, we want to show the Board of Education how many people are vehemently opposed to this change. If you are opposed to any part of the new schedule, please sign this petition!" 

It currently has 566 signatures and has gathered a lot of community buzz and comments, most of which seem to be saying the same thing. Students do not want this schedule change to be implemented. "The new schedule completely contradicts every goal of the wellness committee and is ridiculously confusing. Later dismissal times and earlier start times only make for less sleep and increased stress." Says a current High School Junior, "No students were included in any part of the process for creating the new schedule, or any sort of discussion regarding schedules at all, which is outrageous considering they are the most affected. The school and the Board of Education should return to the drawing board and make sure to include students in some manner."

This year the high school administration is focused on "student wellness", but this new schedule seems to contradict and undermine that message. Some students feel that it does not matter how many surveys students take on stress improvement if nothing is done with the results. A commenter suggests an alternative approach to time requirements which the administration has said are dictated by New York State in this press release. "I believe the additional instructional hours required by state could be met in ways that aren't detrimental to student wellness. Maybe we could have one additional special period per week, where students could choose a seminar or activity to attend in order to enrich the high school experience. Some other high schools employ this system or have study hall/group work time. The most important thing is to take into account the voices of students, not just on paper but in action."

Never has a room been more divided than when the schedule changes were announced to the juniors and seniors. Not divided in opinion, but in reaction. The seniors, who are leaving before the schedule changes, all high-fived and cheered because they were "leaving just in time". The juniors, however, were understandably furious. While the school is constantly asking students what can be done to improve wellness, some feel that this schedule revision misses the wellness mark by a mile. Many students felt their voices were ignored.

In the view of many of the petition signers, Scarsdale high school students aren't "well". They're stressed. This new schedule change only solidifies some students' fears that the measures they have been told will alleviate their stress are doing nothing at all. You can find the petition by clicking here.

Comments   

+5 #7 Quantity over Quality 2017-05-13 18:10
The schedule change has nothing to do with "state requirements" and everything to do with a narrow-minded, "quantitative" conception of teacher cost and educational value that drove the Board to insist that our teachers be made to spend more time in the classroom in order to be more in line with other district contracts.It's unfortunate for our SHS students that the Board seems to think our teachers provide no value add outside the classroom. Maybe our Board should have first examined some of the qualitative differences between the work of our teachers and that of teachers in other districts, including the level of creativity and challenge of classroom activities and discussion, the frequency and substance of written assignments that our teachers must then comment on and grade, along with the quality of the college recommendations our teachers write on behalf of our students. All these require teacher time outside the classroom that the Board does not seem to want to count. While they may think it was a small change, to the teachers their demand must have felt demoralizing and an insult to their professionalism .
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0 #6 last child graduating 2017-05-12 16:06
this is a sad commentary on the many seminars the school has sponsored. i have been to them all... including the ones on teacher development days... I have heard the speakers from the survey and vicki ables.. for god sake administration this is not brain surgery to fulfill you state and union obligation and allow teachers to get to connect with their students in effective fun ways while fulfilling the mandate. Holly & Lila's suggestions were also created by Fallon Plunkett's AT Psyche class last year and presented brilliantly but there were no administrators there...that was appalling. This is an easy fix before the fall...it would be nice if you could fix it before i have to go vote on a budget that ALSO knocked out less than 1% of the school budget to shut down the Teen Center! as our current occupant of The White House might muse SAD
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+1 #5 Louisa Blatt 2017-05-10 18:08
Quoting Ima Berg:
I'm confused....I tried looking at the posters and comments...The article says there are hundreds of comments saying the same thing. I found only 78 total, many from non Scarsdalians, and most of those saying school shouldn't be longer or change, in general. There were a few thoughtful ones about stress. Are there more comments that I am missing somewhere?

To clarify a couple of things, most of the comments on the petition are from Scarsdale High schoolers who are saying they do not want the schedule to change to the new proposed one, as I stated in the article. Also, I was not just counting the comments directly on the article but also comments from the community that I had heard, and have re-phrased to make that clearer.
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+1 #4 Ima Berg 2017-05-10 13:23
I'm confused....I tried looking at the posters and comments...The article says there are hundreds of comments saying the same thing. I found only 78 total, many from non Scarsdalians, and most of those saying school shouldn't be longer or change, in general. There were a few thoughtful ones about stress. Are there more comments that I am missing somewhere?
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+4 #3 A suggestion 2017-05-10 09:45
Students have suggested "an alternative approach to time requirements which the administration has said are dictated by New York State."

Has anyone tested that assertion by the administration? The current (2016-17 and earlier) high school schedule should easily meet state requirements, which require at least 27.5 hours of instruction per week, and 5.5 hours of instruction per day (not including lunch, but including homeroom and passing time between classes). The administration is either a) misreading state regs or b) lying.

A diligent reporter/news site might be interested in confirming such assertions rather than repeating them uncritically.
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+9 #2 Sherry Hock 2017-05-10 09:24
So many good alternative recommendations have been presented by teachers, students and parents to better spend this time on one session a week where students can better benefit from a special homework help session or vocational hands on activities or science projects. Why aren't the superintendent and the board listening? What will it take for them to see that this cannot continue?!
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+11 #1 Jack Greenspan 2017-05-09 15:51
Coming from a high school student, this new schedule makes no logical sense if the goal of our educational system is to enhance students' knowledge. A couple minutes at the end of the period don't add anything new, but the total amount would take away a significant amout of our time. Please, if you are on the Board of Ed or know someone who is, tell them to push against these schedule changes.
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