Letter to BOE members

Thank you for all you do for the students at Bethany Community School.  I am very appreciative of your volunteer efforts on their behalf.

Below is an email I sent to several parents and teachers last Thursday.  I am deeply concerned that PBIS is being adopted by our school without careful consideration of other options or input from teachers and parents.

PBIS can rely heavily on tokens/rewards/incentives.  I believe giving rewards for expected behavior is counterproductive to promoting responsibility.  Many parents - and teachers - share my concern and I am using a blog to compile and share information regarding PBIS.  Invite you to visit it: Informed Parents & Educators at BCS: http://ipeatbcs.blogspot.com/.  My take on the PTO meeting at which Mrs. Federico and Mrs. Spagnoletti presented information about PBIS can also be found there.

I hope to have an opportunity to discuss this with you at the BOE meeting on May 12.  

In the meantime, if you would like to talk with me I can be reached via email: aimeebogush (at) gmail (dot) com or phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Again, the email I sent is below (the hyperlinks provide more information).  

I thank you for your time and consideration.

My best,
Aimee Cotton Bogush
Parent of a 2nd grader and 6th grader at BCS

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Aimee Bogush
Date: Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 9:46 PM
Subject: IMPORTANT: PTO tomorrow, PBIS program

After much internal debate, I have decided to send this...

As you may know, there will be a presentation at tomorrow's PTO meeting about PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports) at 9am in the teacher's lounge.  I have done some research and come to my own conclusion about PBIS.  I now need more information about how it will be implemented at BCS and will be at the meeting.  I am writing to share with you some of what I've found, encourage you to ask questions, and to come to your own conclusions.

I wholeheartedly agree that something needs to be done, a conversation take place, a plan be developed to address some behavioral issues at BCS.  My children have come home many days frustrated and stressed from being in situations where children were misbehaving.  Fixing these issues is a very valid goal and I support that.  I am absolutely thrilled to see movement taking place toward finding a solution.  However, based on my research, I do not believe PBIS is the answer.  I strongly urge you to examine and clearly understand what PBIS is and how it is implemented in schools. Maybe I need more information, but what I see so far really is what Alfie Kohn says: PBIS=TKLP (Treating Kids Like Pets).

Many of you know I believe giving rewards for expected behavior is counterproductive to promoting responsibility - you've heard me go on about it.  A major tenet of PBIS is the systemic use of these types of rewards and incentives -- tickets, getting caught for being good certificates, and 'shopping' in the good behavior store are often used very heavily in this program.  Please ask - will this be true at BCS?

It is important to know, there are very successful classrooms at BCS that do not use tickets, incentives, or behavior charts.  In these classrooms, the curriculum is made to be engaging and the children are cooperative, well-behaved, and participating positively in their community of learners.  These students are rising to the challenge their teachers provide, they are treated with respect and they respond accordingly.  It is possible.  It is happening.  Children who have previously had issues are now responding, behaving, learning and contributing to their class as a whole.  Let's take a closer look at what is occurring in these non-incentive/non-coercive- based classrooms right here in our building.  Please ask about the wonderful learning environments in these rooms and ask how can we support and encourage this practice building-wide instead of adopting a new, "external" incentive/coercion program?  
Ask the committee considering PBIS to have that discussion.

If we must look outside BCS for answers, there are many philosophies and program options to help a school develop a more positive culture in which behavior issues are reduced while  those that occur are addressed without using tickets/rewards/incentives/certificates.  Please ask - is a thoughtful examination of the alternatives to PBIS being undertaken?  Specifically, has the committee considering PBIS looked at Collaborative Problem SolvingResponsive ClassroomQuality SchoolsRaise Responsibility/Discipline without Stress and ruled these out?  Please ask - have members of the committee read books such as Beyond Discipline -From Compliance to Community (review here) and Punished by Rewards before deciding upon PBIS?  Are we really ready to adopt this program?

Lastly, please ask - do the teachers in the building fully understand what PBIS is and have they been asked for their input on solving the issues needing attention?

I hope to see you in the teacher's lounge tomorrow morning at 9am.  If you cannot attend the meeting, please consider calling (xxx-xxx-xxx) or emailing Mrs. Federico with your questions.
I sincerely thank you for your time and consideration.  If you want more, here is a link to another parent's letter to her school board regarding PBIS.

Aimee Cotton Bogush