Distant, Insular Board; Item 17 Wm. Penn Foundation Grant

Board of Education Testimony – Jan. 27, 2022 (revised)

By Lynda Rubin

Hi.  Lynda Rubin, retired K-8 school counselor/APPS member

Item 17 –  Extension of the William Penn Foundation’s Grant agreement for K-3 Literacy professional development is the 2nd extension, albeit Covid related. Yet none of the 3 named who, or which affiliates, is actually creating and/or delivering the PD — something the public should know before any vote. Just because it’s a “gift” from the Foundation, doesn’t negate revealing who, or which company, is providing the service. “Free Money” doesn’t mean it doesn’t come at a cost; the selection of the scope and instruction methods informs the value of the “gift”. 

Children are vulnerable to the elements of the delivery of teaching methods for success. I hope that, especially for K-2, the delivery or testing will not be computer based, in part because of their visual acuity and eye-hand coordination. Hands-on means the entire physical experience, not just clicking an answer. Free play and repetition is essential to visual, motor skills, and brain development. The Literature is clear.

Developmental skills are just that, developmental – on a continuum and met at varying months. Months is used because of the fluidity of children’s mental, physical and social-emotional development. They are not predictors of how well or when skills will be formed and learned. Never underestimate how children privately internalize their inability on tests as their own failure, causing their unwillingness to engage in the future. Teachers’ observation,  interactions and encouragements over time are a better standard of understanding how well, and if, a child incorporates skills.

As one of many active and former teachers, counselors, librarians – it’s troubling that this Board appears to be far more distant and insular than your pledges when you began. You appear to view questions or complaints, even meetings as something to endure, not engage. You are a Board of Trustees,  yet you act as if we’re troublesome gnats at a picnic. Not only has dialogue disappeared, it seems you are circling the wagons against questions and concerns. It’s not always easy, but I hope that you’ll return to your earlier, more welcoming demeanor, regarding real interactive engagement with all stakeholders. Your explanations and responses are as critical as the questions anyone may ask.