Frustration about Fort Wayne Community Schools' new curriculum prompted parents to address the school board Monday, sharing stories of students struggling with math and concerns about using excerpts from books to teach language arts skills.
Superintendent Wendy Robinson briefly addressed the situation. She asked for patience.
“A lot of this is misinformation,” she said.
More than 140 FWCS educators this summer wrote math and language arts curriculum, developing units and lessons for 140 days. For language arts, the change applies districtwide except for middle school. The math curriculum affects sixth and seventh grades as well as students taking Algebra I, Algebra II and geometry.
Robinson has said that the district needs a universal, rigorous curriculum across all schools and grade levels. The curriculum was designed to challenge students to reach their potential and allow teachers to focus on students' individual needs.
“We're not experimenting,” Robinson said. “We're ramping it up.”
Parents, however, are discouraged.
“We are facing a lot of problems,” said Julie Pio, who said her high school sophomore previously did well in math but is now scraping by.
Only four parents spoke from the small audience, but Melissa Cormany, a mother of three FWCS students, said she represented dozens of parents unable to make the 6 p.m. downtown meeting.
Cormany questioned the district's approach of teaching language arts standards through excerpts of texts.
“Since when did reading full novels become an enrichment activity?” she asked, adding students need to develop reading endurance.
Novels weren't written to teach state standards, and using excerpts ensures the district is covering skills Indiana students must learn, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said after the meeting. She noted teachers may teach whole novels.
Staffing remains an underlying issue this academic year.
“Five weeks in, we're still hiring teachers,” Robinson said.
In other business, the board celebrated the district for becoming a Riley Hospital Red Wagon Corporation – a first. To achieve the distinction, each school participated in the campaign for Riley Hospital for Children and raised at least $1 per student through the Kids Caring & Sharing school philanthropy program. FWCS raised $51,060.
Every school approaches fundraising differently, said Jana Ankenbruck, a principal who spearheaded the campaign with secretary Carol Grable.
Along with students, Ankenbruck said, “our teachers and staff are also very generous.”