Protest Held Over Added Classes, Reduced Hours In Guam Schools

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Community concerned extra work will burden struggling students

By Arvin Temkar

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 16, 2012) – About 100 students and teachers rallied at Skinner Plaza in HagÃ¥tña yesterday to express dissatisfaction at the new high school schedule.

The Guam Education Board voted in February to add two more classes to the high school schedule next school year.

Teachers and students are worried that taking eight classes will overload students -- some of whom already have trouble passing six.

"Quantity ≠ Quality," read a sign held by one student.

The rally was meant to reiterate points made at meetings between high schools and the education board, said Chanel Beebe, a first-year Guam History teacher at John F. Kennedy High School.

Many teachers were concerned that the board did not consult teachers, students, or parents about the schedule changes before making the decision, said Roberta Abaday, a JFK English teacher.

She said the additional classes would also add more time to a teacher's work day.

The time spent at school doesn't count the additional time teachers spend grading papers, she said.

The extra classes would cause a 10-minute reduction in class time, resulting in a total of 900 minutes lost in a year, teachers have said. That equates to six weeks taken away from a single class, Abaday said.

Board member Barry Mead, one of the board members who voted in favor of the 4x4 schedule, said school days will be slightly longer and classes will be slightly shorter in order to accommodate two additional classes.

Zharmaine Santos, 17, a junior at JFK, said she opposed the new schedule, though "half of the reason" she attended the rally was because she was getting extra credit.

The new schedule will take up too much of a student's time and add additional stress, she said.

"Every teen has a social life," said Justine Losinio, 15, a George Washington High School freshman. "It's pretty much what keeps them sane."

Giordan Guerrero, 15, a George Washington High freshman, said he was concerned about extracurricular activities like wrestling and football that he might not be able to join because of the additional classes.

But Mead has argued that offering more classes mean more credits and more ways to hit the graduation requirement. There is also room in the new schedule for remedial classes.

"It's about student opportunities," Mead has told the Pacific Daily News.

Education board

The education board has met with teachers at George Washington and JFK to discuss the schedule concerns.

Joe San Agustin, a board member, has told the Pacific Daily News that he will make a motion to suspend implementing the change to the high school schedule "because of a lack of consultation with the stakeholders."

Education board Chairman Francis Santos has said that he will ask Taling Taitano, the interim superintendent, to examine the possibility rotating administrators at George Washington -- possibly moving them to other schools -- for "failing to communicate with their teachers."

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