TA board looks at curriculum issues
BY PAT FARNELLI
Wyoming County Press Examiner
The Tunkhannock Area School Board’s curriculum committee met last Wednesday and reviewed progress on its Grief and Trauma plan.
News of four recent teen suicides in Luzerne County sparked a discussion among the committee members, who were disappointed to see no parents had bothered to show up.
“What can we all do to prevent something like this?” board member Martin Migliori asked.
At this point, the committee is reviewing the rough draft intended as one part of a Comprehensive Crisis Plan, but felt it was crucial to discuss the nearby tragedies and how best to handle such a situation.
“There was one teen suicide in this case, and the other suicides appear to be copycat tragedies, reacting to the first and snowballing,” assistant superintendent Ann Way said. “This can be prevented if schools handle things the right way.”
Migliori remembered a fatal car accident that impacted Tunkhannock Area High School students years ago, with several students dying in the crash, two of them brothers. “That affected the whole school,” he said. “Students are unable to learn if they are not focused.”
The meeting had been postponed from the previous Wednesday, and on the agenda, along with the grief and trauma plan, were several revised curriculum plans, including the K-12 Language Arts curriculum, and the kindergarten social studies curriculum revision.
Last spring, the literature selections being chosen for the eighth grade language arts program caused some controversy, with many parents complaining about several units devoted to themes they considered too violent.
Months have gone by since then, and the committee was hoping to see some of the parents who were complaining about the reading selections.
“We have very little community participation,” noted Migliori.
“We have no community participation,” board member Kim Teeters said, noting a lone reporter as the audience.
The recent Rachel’s Challenge program was profoundly effective, some board members and administrators said and has begun some positive communication among the students and faculty.
Way said that several University of Scranton students had looked over the plan, noting that some have served on national level committees and have done these sort of plans before.
Way concluded, “We have a document now that we think is ready to go back to each of our schools for some fine tuning. By the end of January, we will have received feedback and be ready to go to next step. Once we get all the feedback, finalize the copies, give to staff, get trained professionals to provide teachers with possibilities.
Way thanked a number of teachers for their help in reviewing plans.
There was a discussion about Common Core standards in Language Arts and Math.
Way noted that the intermediate unit provided the common core for the district to work from. Once adopted by the state, our curriculum will also reflect them, she said..
Migliori asked about a need to purchase texts, or can the curriculum be photocopied, and which will be most cost effective?
Teeters asked about The Hunger Games, other stories here about people hunting people.
She said, “We are developing a grief and trauma plan and then we teach about people hunting people.”
Board member Sandra Lane noted, “We can go back to a certain grade level and say, there are 15 weeks of horror-related stuff, can we revisit that?”