Give students credit where credit's due?
Communication, mistrust and changes to the Red Wing High School program of studies were discussed when RWHS Principal Beth Borgen addressed the School Board Monday night.
One particular area of concern was continuing to give credit to students for their time spent as office and teacher aides.
“Personally, I don’t feel comfortable giving credit for somebody who is an office aide,” Supt. Karsten Anderson said.
Anderson said his perception, given a lack of substantive documentation stating the justification for granting credit for this area, is student aides should not be given credit.
“I know there are expectations,” Borgen said, adding the students deliver and sort mail, run notes from the office to classrooms and on occasion answer phones and help with questions from parents and public.
The duties students perform are supportive of teachers and staff, she said, and without students performing those tasks she would need to look elsewhere.
“I would ask for additional secretarial help, I would ask for additional (staff) to accomplish some of these tasks,” Borgen said.
The student aides can be essential to a teacher getting everything accomplished, she said.
Borgen said there are usually around 200 juniors and seniors who are teacher and office aides each year and there are no minimum requirements for the positions.
Anderson said he understands the work the students do is important and he values the work, he is just questioning whether the students should receive credit for being an aide.
Board member Mark Ryan said there should be academic goals for students receiving credit.
“I think there are skills in those classes that are very useful to (the students),” Borgen said.
In her report to the board, Borgen also brought up what she called a level of mistrust that is apparent between district office, the high school office, teachers and the board.
Before coming to the School Board meeting, Borgen said she asked for feedback and gave staff a survey to fill out. A number of teachers went to the union and asked if they should respond to the survey, she said.
A union representiative’s reply stated there should be no concern in regards to responding to the survey, Borgen said.
“Just the fact that that even has to be written unnerves me a little bit,” she said.
Board member Steve Anderson said he had heard that the last question on the survey asked for staff to provide their name.
“A lot of people felt uncomfortable with that,” he said, adding he thought there was some question as to why that was there.
It’s important for people to be able to express their opinion and not fear retribution, he added.
Borgen said she asked for names on the survey to be able to follow up with anyone who may have concerns and to get more information – and the correct information – to share with the board and the public.
Karsten Anderson said it is important to take feedback seriously, and one of the ways to increase trust and understanding between everyone is to have transparency.
He said having discussions in front of the public is a good way to alleviate some of the tension.
Borgen said she is continually looking for ways to foster and build trust since everyone in the district is working toward the same goal, which is to provide all they can for the students.
There are many aspects of newly implemented programs that are going well at the high school, Borgen also said during her report.
Uniform grading scale
Teachers and staff have been working on a buildingwide response to intervention – mainly focused on eighth- and ninth-grade students – to assist those who might need help with academics.
Along with working on a response to intervention plan, Borgen said all teachers now will begin basing their gr