BOE member: Stamford parents need to keep asking the hard questions

Students, teachers and parents protest against the school district’s proposed block schedule for next school year in front of the Government Center in downtown Stamford on Feb. 23.

Students, teachers and parents protest against the school district’s proposed block schedule for next school year in front of the Government Center in downtown Stamford on Feb. 23.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

As “experts” you know what is best for your child. Thanks to many of you who advocated in such a timely and robust manner, five Board of Education members were able to force the superintendent to drop the infamous and impractical 4x4 high school block schedule.

After five months of angst and Board of Education politics, you proved a parent “constitutional republic” could make a difference. Using democracy and your Constitutional right to voice your opinion, you made sure Board of Education complacency did not get in the way of majority voice and common-sense legislation.

In unison, you also gave all ninth- 12th-grade students an opportunity to pursue the happiness of learning rather than the rush, rush of a 4x4 block schedule. But don’t stop now — continue to ask the hard questions that our central office administrators should be answering even before the A/B Block is instituted. They know the answers and should be held accountable!

1. How does this new block schedule help our students learn better?

2. What is the proper role of the Board of Education?

3. As parents, what other issues should you be concerned about?

A) What are the ninth- 12th-grade failure rates the last five years at AITE, Stamford High School and Westhill High School?

B) Since equity is so concerning, what are the actual statistics and what else can the community do to assure all students are successful?

C) What are the plans in handling chronic absences using the A/B Block?

D) Why were attendance rules suddenly dropped this year (Day 181) for all high schools? Will this happen in the future and why?

E) In addition, why were course make-ups suddenly revised the last few weeks of this year and Edgenuity implemented? Will this happen in the future and why?

F) How are demographics changing the Advanced Placement and Honors course offerings? How many of these courses were dropped in next year’s schedule? Will this become an ongoing pattern?

G) Why are grades being configured differently starting Fall 2022 (Mastery Learning and G4E-Grading for Equity)? How will this help our students learn, achieve and succeed in preparation for graduation and beyond?

H) Why are midterms and finals not required? What other assessments will be used to evaluate learning? How will those mid-semester and end-of-semester assessments be shared with families and the Board of Education?

I) Why are families leaving the district and what are the actual numbers?

In the bylaws of the Board of Education, it is the BOE’s responsibility to inform the people of Stamford of the goals, values, conditions and needs of our schools. Please continue to step forward in a bipartisan manner and ask for transparency — the 4x4 block schedule was presented December 2021 (the first time teachers and administrators ever heard of it) and then made mandatory three weeks later, January 2022. Rather than mandates, listening and a spirit of cooperation need to be used consistently with all Stamford Public School staff and parents.

As parents, you are not only experts when it comes to knowing what is best for your child, you are also community leaders that the Board of Education should listen to. Stamford children need your voice and critical questions need to be asked ... there is no better time than now!

Becky Hamman is a member of the Stamford Board of Education.