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Curriculum proposals set for U-46 Board action

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 is set to vote on two proposals regarding curriculum, one for elementary physical education and another for the StudySync resource for high school juniors and seniors, at its upcoming meeting on Monday, June 19. Both were presented on Monday, June 6.
  The PE proposal comes partly to align with new mandates from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) which appears to require personal information of students to be reported to the state.
  If approved the proposal would have a two-year rollout, K-2 in 2016-17 and 3-6 in 2017-18, according to Tracey Jakaitis, Student Wellness coordinator. It would use a free resource from openphysed.org and professional development would cost $3,900 over two years and equipment $208,927.
  “We are taking physical education and moving it from a very sport-based model to incorporating more of the fitness, nutrition and health components that go along with physical education in 2016,” Jakaitis said.
  Jakaitis added: “Since the curriculum has been written there [have] been new Illinois State Board of Education mandates, revised national and state physical education standards and a greater focus on incorporating more nutrition and fitness into physical education versus just the typical sport model that was probably historically your PE, my PE and PE five years ago.”
  Board member Jeanette Ward raised concerns with the fitness testing components.
  “Are we doing body fat measurement tests like on third-graders? I hope not,” Ward asked.
  The fitness testing would not include body fat measurements but there are four tests including the pacer, sit and reach and muscular strength and endurance tests according to Jakaitis.
  Results from those tests are sent to the ISBE which Ward asked if the results are sent per individual or in an aggregate of all students. Jakaitis said what is sent is whether a student did or did not meet the test’s standards but not necessarily the specific numbers on the test.
  “So each individual student, elementary student, has a report sent to the state about whether they met or did not meet the PE testing?” Ward asked.
  Jakaitis said no report has been sent yet and was unsure of how the report looked, but Ward said: “If it’s individual student, and that’s not your fault, if it’s a state law I have a problem with that.”
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said: “I’m sure it is an individual student report to the state board of education through their big tracking system.”
  During the presentation Jakaitis and U-46 PE teacher Scott Park said there will be a focus on teaching students healthy choices and that currently elementary students have one PE class a week despite a curriculum written for a five-day week.
  “We have a large focus on helping students to understand what good choices are and the impact that these choices are going to have on their health and wellness in the future,” Jakaitis said.
  “This proposal is to revise our current five day a week program that we have curriculum written for, and we’re trying to make it more realistic for our one day a week program that we currently have in U-46,” Park said.
  Board member Sue Kerr asked about the length of the one weekly PE class which Jakaitis said was 40 minutes. Board member Phil Costello asked if in teaching healthy choices teachers also teach about the detriments of poor choices to which U-46 PE teacher Kelle Brieger said they did. Both teachers did say they teach about the negative effects of certain choices.
  The administration is recommending McGraw-Hill’s StudySync resource for anthologies to be used by high school upperclassmen. Jackie Johnson, coordinator for secondary literacy and libraries, said there is a “one-time fee” which includes a print edition for seven years as well as a subscription to the online resource for that same time period at a cost of $455,525.
  StudySync is already in use in the district for grades 6 through 10 which was approved last July, and this new proposal is for anthologies for grades 11 and 12. Last July, the district had already purchased anthologies for juniors and seniors at $200,000.
  Ross Marshall, a high school English teacher, said that whether one is tech savvy or not the resource “allows the student to work within whichever medium they’re most comfortable with or whichever medium their classroom works most comfortably in.”
  The resource received a split vote last July, 4-3. Costello, Ward and Cody Holt voted against it.
  Ward’s dissent was based on StudySync’s one-sided lessons. The Examiner reviewed the resource last year and found promotion of gun control, minimum wage laws, unionism among many others.
  Costello and Holt opposed the resource for financial reasons as they questioned the priorities of the district considering the poor financial climate.
  Marshall said he has used StudySync in his underclassmen classes and before he “went to Google” to get resources. Google is a free resource.



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