Guam Education Board To Hold School Schedule Discussions

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Teachers say they were never given chance for input

By Oyaol Ngirairikl

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 19, 2012) – The Guam Education Board will be discussing high school schedules this week.

Board Chairman Francis Santos said the board is meeting with public high school principals today. Tomorrow, the board will hold a regular meeting to further discuss the instructional schedule for public schools.

The high school schedule change to a 4x4 block schedule has been the center of controversy since the board passed it earlier this year. Board members have met with high school teachers from the five Guam Department of Education (DOE) high schools. Many teachers have said they're concerned the decision to implement a 4x4 block schedule was made without the input of teachers, students and parents.

Some of the teachers, such as Andri Baynum of Simon Sanchez High School, also have voiced concerns the new schedule comes at a time when Guam DOE teachers and principals are adjusting to new community service requirements, working on a new curriculum and trying to determine how the new Chamorro language class requirements are going to be handled.

Principal meeting

Santos said today's meeting will provide the board with feedback and what principals' discussions with teachers have been. He said the meeting likely will determine whether the board reverses its earlier decision.

When asked how he would vote, Santos said he hadn't made up his mind.

"I'm still trying to figure out what would be best. That's why I've met with teachers from all the high schools... and (will meet) with the principals today," Santos said.

Santos said he's also been asked by several teachers whether the board was going to push to change high school administrators. Following the meeting with George Washington (GW) High School teachers, Santos said he was disappointed over the apparent lack of communication between the administration and the teachers.

"Every teacher that got up and spoke said, 'They didn't talk to us,'" Santos said. "I've never heard that level of concern as I did at GW. That's why I said maybe it's time to talk about (switching administrators)."

School administrators at GW have said they provided teachers with the information they had, which they said wasn't much. Teachers asked how the new schedule would affect other programs and asked for details about the new schedule, such as whether the school day would have to be extended.

At Simon Sanchez High School, teachers said their administrators provided answers for questions they could answer, but there were more questions that needed answers.

Help to graduate

Board members have said the new schedule would give high school students additional opportunities to earn the 24 credits they need to graduate from high school.

Teachers said while they appreciate and share board members' desires to help students graduate, there already are opportunities for students to earn credits outside of the normal school year.

During summer school, which just started, students can earn up to 1.5 credits. And the night school program, called Eskuelan Puenge, allows students to earn up to one credit a semester.

Joe Sanchez, acting deputy superintendent of Curriculum and Instructional Improvement, said both of these programs -- funded with federal dollars under the Title 5-A consolidated grant -- are meant to help students earn credits they need for graduation.

"Many students also use programs outside of DOE, like Asmuyao Community School or even online high school classes, to either catch up or to get ahead," Sanchez said.

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