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patterte (Dawn Patterson)

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Hillcrest school scraps Halloween parties, plans to eliminate Valentine's Day events

The argument is that no children are having fun just because a school is not doing what it has "always done"? Many traditions have come in and out of common practice in the last 50 years of elementary education-- traditions we would never *dream* of having today. (I can remember some horrible Thanksgiving celebrations in my school thirty years ago that still make me blush with embarrassment today.)

I really believe that if we expended this much energy towards creating lasting, inclusive, new traditions that support education, we could come up with something really wonderful.

November 1, 2014 at 11:58 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Hillcrest school scraps Halloween parties, plans to eliminate Valentine's Day events

Aside from exposing kids to "culture" (which, really? I don't buy it. There are zero purposeful conversations happening around the "culture" of Halloween or the costumes or traditions in any school I have been in that allows costumes), let's step back and look at this from the perspective of the teachers and staff of your schools for a minute. You can't send a kid to school all day in their costume, for obvious reasons. So a student comes to school with their costume. They need to change clothes at school, which is a nightmare of coordination with 25+ kids and minimal private spaces. They may or may not come home with all of their original clothing, or all of the parts of their costume. Even if there are parent volunteers, teachers are now put in the position of spending 2+ hours of instructional time and a ton of energy on something that at best is a tradition, but at worst gets them yelled at because Johnny didn't come home with his super special Ninja Zombie Sparkle Belt.

Invariably, someone comes with a weapon, or a culturally insensitive costume, or no costume at all because the family is just too poor to afford one. So beyond those "silly parents who object" (And really? They should pull their child out of a federally mandated educational setting because a parade is really more important?) there are a lot of perspectives that make a shift in traditions a good idea.

Like you, I was frustrated when we started at a Lawrence school that did not allow costumes. I was irate that some schools allowed it, and others did not-- it reeked of inequality to me. My response was to start an evening event, some days before Halloween, that families could attend together, in costume-- have a meal together, do crafts, and trick or treat their classrooms. Just four years later, it is a big tradition at our school. Because it is held outside of regular instructional time, families can choose to attend or not, as they feel comfortable. We don't allow masks, hoods, or fake weapons, and we even send out a list of "free" costume ideas for families along with the invitation. Most of the teachers volunteer to come in and run trick or treat from their classrooms, with goodies (not just candy) provided by the PTO. It is really a great event, but it was born out of a change in tradition that angered a lot of people.

I can see why schools are moving away from costumes-- I wish that it was a district-wide policy, because it puts principals (who are trying to protect the educational integrity and cultural sensitivities of their schools, not ruin your fun) in a horrible position.

October 31, 2014 at 10:15 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Live coverage of Election Day 2012

Where was that Obama mural?

November 6, 2012 at 4:35 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Don't forget your picture ID on Election Day

Just want to point out that your Douglas County Clerk issued free voter ID's at several locations throughout the county, as well as at the main office, for those who lacked the necessary identification:http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2012/jul/27/county-offers-own-voter-id-system/

He was the first election official in the country to do so.

November 6, 2012 at 4:24 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Actual enrollment patterns not matching forecasts

There are kids showing up every day at Kennedy, and those students are not on the Sept 20 rolls. I'm sure this is happening all over Lawrence.

Want to save money? Have more dollars for education in Lawrence? Try telling Brownback to stop slashing state revenues and robbing our children's future.

November 4, 2012 at 8:15 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Halloween hodgepodge: Schools put on range of fall celebrations

Just want to put in a plug for Kennedy's Fall Family Festival, taking place tomorrow night! Food, games, trick-or-treating, crafts, and lots of fun! 6-8pm on the 30th.

October 29, 2012 at 9:12 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

First Bell: Kennedy and AYP; another teacher honor; more on enrollment

"Except for Kennedy."

It's like you can't even help yourself.

September 21, 2012 at 3:38 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

All but 1 Lawrence school meet 'Standard of Excellence'

Yes, other schools have "poor neighborhoods" but Kennedy has the lowest percentage of low SES students of any school in the district. And it's not just the socio-economic status that's at issue-- for example, doctoral students with children might be low income, but highly educated and therefore more likely to prep their kids for school. Not a lot of PhD students living around Kennedy. (And your insults to their grammar are just rude-- they have a right to their opinion even if they can't express themselves as well as you imagine yourself to.)

It's not just the money. It's the education level, it's the lack of familiarity with the way schools work, it's parents holding down three jobs, and the lack of commitment by the community to support these families. Shutting down Kennedy means these kids become the bullied poor kids wherever they go. And there's nothing exceptional going on at any other school that's going to magically, suddenly bring kids up to AYP who have entered grade school significantly behind their peers in other schools. In fact, it is a testament to Kennedy that by middle school and high school, standards are being met. These kids don't magically test out once they hit 6th grade-- YEARS of education by the dedicated Kennedy staff brings them there.

I know this because my kids go to Kennedy. I sat through a year of consolidation meetings hearing folks extol the virtues of their schools, celebrating some asinine things in the attempt to save themselves. But the idea of closing a school of kids who NEED a local school, a great school, because they aren't progressing fast enough-- well that's just as asinine. Closing Kennedy would just be one more way of quitting these kids.

September 19, 2012 at 5:42 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Report criticizes voter ID law in Kansas, other states

Show me massive voter fraud. This law will disenfranchise many, many more voters than the number of voters who vote fraudulently (which is estimated, and not proven.) No one has ever proven 'massive' voter fraud-- there are ideas about it, yes. Few prosecutions. This thing is fundamentally a politician-created 'problem.'

Think about it: if you aren't legally in this country, is showing up to VOTE where you could get caught going to be first on your to-do list? No way. Lay low, don't get caught.

July 18, 2012 at 9:38 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Spending doesn’t equal achievement

Today's tax-supported funding per pupil is roughly the same as the rate in 1998. Ask yourself: does housing cost more or less than in 1998? Gas? Clothing? Technology? A gallon of milk?

Exactly.

What does more money buy? It buys teachers who are willing to stay in the state because they are being paid competitively. It means teachers can afford to live in the town in which they work. It buys programs to bring struggling students up, and achieving students farther. It buys social workers to notice the student who is struggling at home, or who may have undiagnosed issues prohibiting them from their full potential. It buys full time schools nurses, so that teachers can spend time with students, instead of dealing with medical issues for which they are not trained. It buys up-to-date technology, books, and facilities that support learning. More money for more teachers means smaller class sizes, which translates to more one-on-one time-- less students slipping through the cracks-- which can translate to less drop-outs.

For communities that do not have the tax base to supplement the cost-per-pupil through local initiatives, state education dollars mean a fair shake at an equitable education.

While state funding HAS increased since Montoy, the amount-per-pupil received is almost $500 dollars less per pupil than that court mandate. For Lawrence schools, this equates to over $5 million dollars that is currently not being spent on initiatives that could help our students.

NCLB is a flawed system, and there is little argument that changes need to be made. However, we fail our students by under-funding their education. By failing those students, we fail to invest in the long-term success of Kansas.

March 30, 2012 at 11:05 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

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