Out-of-School Wednesdays Off The Table
After getting an earful from parents and teachers, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has backed away from a plan to close D.C. public schools on six Wednesdays between September and March next year for teacher training.
A final draft of the 2009-10 academic calendar, posted on the DCPS website late this afternoon before the holiday weekend, shows that the six Wednesdays are now five Fridays. Officials originally dropped the teacher "professional development" days into the middle of the week to make the training--which emphasizes collaboration, reflection, and scrutiny of student progress data--more "job embedded," or closely linked to classroom time, so that what they learned would have more resonance.
But what apparently resonated more strongly was concern from teachers about Wednesday training as a momentum killer that disrupted the flow of the school week and effectively created "two Mondays." Parents were also unhappy about having to scramble for child care in the middle of the work week.
The new schedule still increases the total number of training days from 8 to 10 and ends the practice of scheduling them all during school vacation time in August, December and June.
"After reviewing the feedback, significant changes were made to the draft, reflecting public advice about maintaining the flow of the week, the need for childcare and educational activities, as well as the need for more teacher professional development," the message on the DCPS site said. "This final calendar takes into consideration public commentary and, to the fullest extent possible, balances the interests and needs of children, parents, and teachers."
The plan still calls for the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to provide educational and recreational activities at rec centers and school sites during the professional development days: September 18th, October 30th, January 15th, February 12th, and March 19th. DPR said more information about the Friday programs will be available before the end of the current school year.
Other proposed changes also remain in place, such as moving spring break from the week of March 23 to the week of March 29, aligning it more closely with other school district calendars in the region.
In all, the new calendar contains the legally mandated 180 total classroom days -- 178 full days and four half-days.
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