To the Editor: An Open Letter to the Albemarle School Board on the Credits Policy

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Letters reflect the opinions of their authors and not necessarily those of the Crozet Gazette.

Credits Policy: An Open Letter to the Albemarle School Board

Although an official announcement has not been made, I have read that you are exploring the possibility of changing the way credits are earned at the high school level. It is my understanding that this decision, if made, will not be implemented until the 2012 – 2013 school year. Before deciding to make such a move, I hope that you will get feedback from constituents. In the meanwhile, I thought I’d offer our experience with the current system so that you can weigh in our perspective as you evaluate alternatives.

During the middle of the school year 2010 – 2011, our family traveled to Spain due to work-related issues. We spent the second semester in Madrid. We were fortunate that the current system allowed students to earn half-credits. This made it possible for our son to take the remaining credits at a school in Spain as well as some classes through the Brigham Young University’s online high school program. Had we not had this option, he would have had to repeat all of his sophomore year.

I read in one of the reports presented to the School Board as part of the research being conducted to make an informed decision, that half credits allow students flexibility to make up for breaks in instruction for whatever the reason (health, travel, pregnancies, etc.). If you were to change this policy and not allow students the opportunity to earn half a credit, you will be making it harder for disadvantaged children to graduate from high school, thus increasing the achievement gap. The current system should be maintained, since the conditions for which this policy was adopted in the first place have not changed: children still get sick, families still have to relocate, and teenage girls still get pregnant during their high school career. This decision could affect those students who need greater flexibility to get through high school, and from that point of view, I think you should not eliminate this opportunity.

On another note, I remain worried about the working conditions that have been established for our high school teachers. If you look at your numbers, you will see that the number of teachers who have resigned compared to last year’s figures has doubled. To me, this is very concerning. Several of our son’s teachers at WAHS have resigned and found jobs with the local private schools. We are losing our best teachers at an alarming rate. Please reevaluate your decision to make teachers teach six out of eight periods.  It is unreasonable and it is detrimental to the quality of the education that teachers can offer.  Teachers should  teach five out of the eight periods. It is not too late to make it better for the teachers and the students. A few years ago, English teachers could teach only up to 80 students per year. Now teachers have 160 students. This is not an improvement. Do not wait any longer, and do what is right for the students, for the teachers, and for yourselves. If you do not do something,  you will  be remembered as the School Board and administrators who ruined education in Albemarle County.

Carmen Garcia
Ivy