Thursday, May 13, 2010

Board of Education Meeting 4/12/2010

Regarding last night's BOE meeting:

In addition to the Board of Education members, administrators, and PBIS committee members there were 6 parents, 1 grandparent, 1 student, and 2 teachers present at last night's meeting (note: I do not know the views of the 2 teachers or if they were in attendance due to the PBIS issue).  Of those 10 visitors, 5 adults and the 1 student spoke (for no more than the 3 minutes allotted) with deep concerns about the adoption of PBIS at BCS -- some had issue with the rewards/incentives, some had issue with the way the program had been decided upon, some had issue with the lack of leadership shown by the Board of Education.  Excellent and important points were made.  We left to get Emma home for homework and to pick up our 7 year old and get her to bed.

Later in the meeting a PBIS presentation was given.  According to those present, BOE member questions seemed to show they were not going to critically examine the program and how it came to our school and, after hearing about it for the first time at this meeting, seem willing to let it continue forth.  A board member said those who spoke out were "misinformed."  One administrator even went on to dismiss the student's remarks. 
Over the next few posts I will reprint the remarks given at the start of the meeting, beginning with mine:
My name is Aimee Bogush and I thank you for your volunteer service on behalf of the children at BCS and for the opportunity to speak regarding the PBIS program.
It is my opinion as a parent and an educator that 
  • BCS doesn't need a behavior program, as much as a philosophy and leadership
  • BCS doesn't need a behavior program, as much as consistency, communication, collaboration, and community among both the staff, parents and student body.
  • BCS doesn't need a behavior program, as much as it needs to support its teachers and paraprofessionals in teaching and learning and growing and stretching.
  • BCS doesn't need a behavior program, as much as it needs an engaging curriculum that emphasizes exploration over assessment.
Instead, BCS is taking the "easy way out" by purchasing a short-term, short-sighted, potentially damaging program. 
Tonight they'll say the teachers identified the need and brought the program to the administrators, but do not be confused -- while it may have been a teacher or two who initiated this, it was most definitely not The Teachers who still have not been told the full extent of the program.  They'll tell you they have a parent on the committee, but do not be confused -- parent concerns were never heard during the decision and design stages of bringing to BCS a program that will dramatically alter the culture of the school.  And, those critical of the program have been told we will not be heard at all.   

They'll say the vast majority of children behave properly and it's time they were recognized for it, but do not be confused -- the children who behave properly do it because it's what they do, it's what's expected, and just maybe the learning is active and engaging.  A paper paw print or a pizza party does nothing to truly recognize their efforts the way meeting the needs of the children who misbehave would.  My consistently well-behaved kid doesn't want a paw print as much as she'd like the kids in her class to behave appropriately! She doesn't want a certificate, she wants the adults to take charge of the situation and rescue the learning environment from the few students who hold it captive by truly meeting the needs of those students.  And, what about the consistently misbehaving child - PBIS uses coercion, referral forms, and peer pressure to attempt to get them in line, but it does not help them develop skills and responsibility.
They'll say the children behave inappropriately on the bus, in the hall, on the playground, in the bathroom, and in the cafeteria, and they do -- but do not be confused -- in each of these areas the situation could be improved if the adult staff created consistent expectations, made changes to the environment, developed solutions that help students raise their responsibility, and then, held themselves accountable.
They'll call the rewards, prizes, and tokens "reinforcements", but do not be confused -- they are rewards, prizes, and tokens. And, they'll explain enthusiastically about the awarding of these paws, the filling of buckets, the assemblies, the character education, but do not be confused -- studies show the use of rewards has a damaging effect on character development. 
They'll tell you PBIS is the most effective program, but do not be confused -- they did not investigate any other approach.  
They'll tell you PBIS is research based, but do not be confused -- it is based on Skinner's research that people behave like pets and long term research does not show a positive correlation between rewarding good behavior and the continuation of that behavior.  

BCS has purchased this program and is training select staff and purchasing the bells and whistles. I ask you, the BOE, to direct the school to truly identify the situation, explore alternative approaches, and design a solution that makes sense for our school -- one with the development of responsibilty rather than obedience as the goal. 

Thank you.  I have researched this issue extensively and would be happy to provide you with resources and further information.  You have my contact info.

Other Voices:
Emma Bogush, student
Valerie Knight-DiGangi
Paul Bogush
Brian Laubstein