Parent displeased with common core curriculum

Derik Vanderford Staff Writer

November 26, 2013

UNION — Monday’s school board meeting included public comment and presentations from three elementary school principals.

The meeting of the Union County Board of School Trustees began with public comments from a parent, who addressed the board regarding her child’s classes at Jonesville Elementary School. She expressed displeasure with the district’s shift toward common core curriculum, especially in the case of basic math.

“Go back to the old way,” she urged board members, explaining that her child is having trouble with basic mathematics. “If a kid can’t do basic math, they can’t do anything.”

She added she was happy with her child’s writing instruction, but not electives. The parent said she was raised to know that the point of elective classes was to bring up a student’s GPA, and her child is also having trouble in orchestra classes.

In other business, Jeff Stribble, Director of Personnel and Pupil Services presented changes to policies GBJ and GC for first reading. Board members discussed the wording in the policies. Board member Manning Jeter pointed out that Policy GBJ states that principals and direct supervisors will have access to employees’ personnel records and files. Jeter mentioned that maybe that should be left to those on the district level.

“No further down that personnel director,” added board member Buck Peay.

Board member Jantzen Childers pointed out that since the principals and direct supervisors would be completing the employee evaluations, it would make sense for them to have access to the files for the employees they are evaluating. Board member Jane Wilkes pointed out which wording was already in the policy before any changes, and principals and supervisors already had access to those files.

In other business, three elementary school principals — Melissa Inman (BES), Barbara Palmer (FPES), and Anita Maness (MES) — each presented 2012-2013 school report card data for their respective schools based on PASS (Palmetto Assessment of State Standards) testing.

Buffalo Elementary received an absolute rating of average, an improvement rating of average, and ESEA Federal Accountability grade of B — 89.3 percent. Foster Park Elementary received an absolute rating of average, an improvement rating of below average, and a federal rating of B. Monarch Elementary received an absolute rating of average, a growth rating of below average, and a Federal/ESEA Accountability grade of B.

Wilkes — a former UCHS math teacher — praised all three principals for going above and beyond what is required.

“I’m so happy you’re going to the conceptual math rather than procedural math,” Wilkes said, adding that she was also pleased to learn cursive writing was still taught on the elementary level.

“I have students I teach at Winthrop now who cannot read cursive writing.”

Detailed lists of strengths and weaknesses for each school are available at the schools’ main offices.