Tuesday, January 24, 2012

West Bend Schools adopt Volunteer Course for Graduation Credit

Dave Weigand was the lone vote against the new high school citizenship course set to begin fall 2012. The course will give ¼ credit per semester, up to 1 full credit for high school graduation (22 credits). Students meet with a high school staff member 4 times per semester, then fulfill the “coursework” outside the school in what was previously a volunteer work. Now, as a credited course, the volunteer work will no longer be volunteer, but will be for credit.

Al Pauli, at the January 9th meeting told the Instruction Committee members that the course, if adopted, would allow the Key and Rotary Clubs to be school clubs because they were creating a curricular tie through offering the new course. Pauli, however, admitted that those clubs are up and running today as after school clubs.

Weigand argued that the course sets a dangerous precedent and other after school clubs, such as the Dolphins, would have a legal right to then ask for creation of a course to allow their club to become an official school club. He expressed concern about the dumbing down of the high school curriculum. “It's a slippery slope.” he said. “We are a Board of Education and this puts us into a whole other realm than our curriculum. The students are involved in an activity off campus which we have no control.”

Weigand also cited his concern about students who previously listed volunteer activities on job or college applications which would not be allowed now if those hours were now part of their high school credits for graduation.

Kris Beaver argued that this course would not have a cost, and continued to badger Weigand about his realization that hours served would no longer be volunteer and students could not list them as such. “Have you talked with anyone in the colleges to ask if they would accept the hours as volunteer?”

Weigand stated that students would be lying if they were not honest on their job or college applications. Beaver did not agree and said the students were still volunteering even though they would receive credit.

Pauli, school administrator, admitted that the school would not list credited hours on a students high school transcript but would distinguish between credited hours and volunteer hours.

Addressing Beaver's comment that there would be no cost to the district, Weigand said, “There is always a cost. We're all adults in the room and we all know there is always a cost to any course offered in the schools.” The course would involve at least 3 staff members at this time.

Tim Stepanski, committee chair and purported conservative, asked only one question. He asked if there were any curricular ties to the new proposed course. He was told that the ties found by administration were English and Counseling.

There were no questions about standards of curriculum. No rational about why the course is being offered other than it allows Key Club and Rotary Club to be school sponsored clubs. No questions about accountability of courses offered off school sites. This course smacks of Saul Alinsky type community organizing and the dumbing down of high school curriculum.

As Weigand voted, “No”, he commented, “This is not a wise move. You set yourselves up for future litigation and future boards will ask, 'what were they thinking?'”

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