McLane Elementary Principal Andy Kasik gave a presentation at last night's meeting. It was sort of a “state of the state” for McLane.
Mr. Kasik really seems to be a sharp guy. Over and over I heard him state or imply that McLane has high expectations for their students, and it shows. Their WKCE scores are the highest in the district. If a 1% decrease in test scores shows one year, they focus on that subject the next, whether it be math or reading. He said strong classroom instruction is what works. Period. McLane also uses technology to help struggling students and challenge more advanced learners to excel.
When kids need it, they are offered “second and third doses” of math or reading, which is done using manipulatives and technology. He understands that the means of education is changing and likened it to current technology advancing beyond the use of steam engines.
I was happy to hear him mention their use of technology in the classroom. It will be the future, especially in tough economic times when staff needs to be cut or reorganized to decrease tax burdens of citizens.
Mr. Kasik told of community projects the kids worked in, and he mentioned how they are working to increase communication with parents. I have no doubt that if his school budget was cut in order to budget without a tax levy increase, he and his staff could do it.
I'll end with this. He began his presentation with the comment that “30% of McLane students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. He went on to say that the staff at McLane needs to be certain that “all the needs of students are met; that the social and emotional needs are met by the school staff. Later he asked the question, “How do we meet families' needs?”
I wonder if that is a good question. I sometimes ponder that. Yes, some kids come to school with unmet needs. That is sad for the kids and for the parents. I understand that teachers love their students and want to “be sure their needs are met”. Some may think me hardhearted for saying this, but I'll say it anyway. The calling of a school district is not to “meet all the needs of students and families”. Schools are there to provide curriculum and instruction to students and share that responsibility with the parents and guardians. (WI statute 118) When schools begin to parent, more and more parents allow them to be the parents ,and they themselves refuse to do what is expected from them. That is stated as a general rule, and if we look back just a few years we can see that trend. Government becomes the family and provider, and many allow them to do it.
Just as high expectations for students is a way to see them succeed, so it is with parents. Our schools should have high expectations for the parents. Once we get that on the right track, our school budget will get on track too. It takes a new way of thinking. Schools are there to educate, and parents are there to parent. Period.