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Letters                                                                 Page 4

 

Reader Reply

 

Single-Sex Schooling
Sandra Stotsky’s article "The Promise of Single-Sex Classes" in your May 2012 issue is excellent and critically important. Our schools do a far better job educating girls than boys, and Stotsky and her associates showed that single-sex classes could be part of the solution to male underachievement.

Now there is an all-out-effort by the American Civil Liberties Union to ban single-sex classes. But, as Stotsky's article suggests, to ignore gender differences can be as harmful as exaggerating them.

CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS
Resident Scholar,
American Enterprise Institute,
Washington, D.C.

Online Degrees
I would question Jayson Richardson for the wariness he expresses in his article “Online Credentials” (September 2010) about the quality of advanced degrees earned by educators in online programs. He subjectively groups all e-learning programs into a single entity and then labels them as inadequate.

What right does a superintendent, or anyone else, have to ignore such degree-granting institutions that are properly accredited (by one of the regional boards), some of which are NCATE-approved or well on their way to gaining that status? It would be about as fair as one saying, "I would never hire a graduate of Illinois Valley Central School District for I have seen some of their graduates."

From experience on all sides of the desk (as an instructor and as a student in face-to-face training and online learning), I can say that his labeling is inappropriate. When I began teaching online full time, I realized I needed more insight. Therefore, I completed an online degree program just to see how it compared and how one would feel as an online student. I found the online courses to be just as rigorous and valuable as any face-to-face classroom. In some cases, the online classes were more valuable and, in many cases, more academically fulfilling than the traditional graduate course.

What is really at play here is not whether e-learning is inferior, but rather those who think, "That's not the way I earned my degree," so it must not be as valid as my own. That is not only unfair, but ignores the rapid rate of change that technology has ushered in during the last 30 years.

My advice to any educator looking at online graduate degree programs is do some homework and learn about the colleges individually.

RICHARD A. NeSMITH
Professor of Education,
Jones International University,
Denver, Colo.

A Blocking Mentality
In reading previous Tech Leadership columns on your website, I saw that Scott McLeod raises an important point in his essay “Blocking the Future” (May 2008). When school districts adopt a mentality to block student access in school to online resources, McLeod’s question "Where is the superintendent?" is key.

 

Too many school districts adopt a lockdown perspective when it comes to technology policy. They stop access to digital tools in a futile attempt to students from making mistakes. Instead, school districts should consider adopting a “student driver” approach. With this approach, educators integrate instruction about the appropriate use of digital tools into other instruction. Then, we put students behind the wheel for practice under our supervision.

I wrote an open letter to school board members regarding the importance of avoiding a blocking mentality. This is my blog post on the topic: http://promotingstudentengagement.blogspot.com/2012/04/four-policies-to-support-edtech.html.

ERIC WILLIAMS
Superintendent,
York County School District,
Yorktown, Va.

Superintendent Evaluation
I recently read with interest “Revisiting Superintendent Evaluation” (June 2007) by Michael F. DiPaola and found it helpful.

 

I direct board development programs for school boards in Washington and am working on a Ph.D. in educational leadership at University of Washington. My research focus is on the capacity of school boards to perform substantive, specific and actionable superintendent performance evaluation. I’m seeking any empirical research on school boards’ capacity to perform superintendent evaluation.

An ad hoc group in our state recently began work to develop an instrument and process for evaluation that is aligned with teacher and principal evaluation criteria.

PHIL GORE
Director of Leadership Development Services,
Washington State School Directors’ Association,
Olympia, Wash.

Accidental Claims
I did a Google search for guidelines for assigning fault in lane merging on roadways when I stumbled onto David Sherman’s guest column “It Was Just an ‘Accident’” (March 2008) on your magazine’s website.

I'm troubled by the author framing accidents in terms of black and white. Reality is often a nuanced shade of grey and usually rather complex. My definition of an accident is that two or more people do something stupid simultaneously. Neither action by itself would have resulted in anything occurring.

I do agree with his argument for taking responsibility. My issue is on how he framed the argument.

When my young daughter was upset with me, she began twirling a towel, which knocked a plant off my cabinet all over the ground. Out of her mouth came “it was an accident.” I responded that it was not an accident.

THOMAS J. MATUKAS
Senior Industrial Engineer,
Arrow Gear Co.,
Downers Grove, Ill.

Inclusion Works
We need more educators like those in Cecil County, Md., who believe in inclusive classrooms and schools. I hope the schools there will keep up the great work described by Carl D. Roberts and Carolyn Teigland in their article “The Only Way To Fly, Inclusively” (September 2008).

I am a principal of a private inclusive, PreK-12 school in Lake Worth, Fla., and I know Inclusion works.

SHARON GREEN
Principal,
Unity For Kids School,
Lake Worth, Fla.

Readiness Traits
Karen Pittman’s article, “College and Career Readiness” (June 2010) was excellent. Glad to know someone is looking out for 21st century students.

As a graduate student working on a master’s degree, I found her article on the AASA website. It’s a useful resource for a discussion question I am answering, "As an advocate for others, how would you incorporate the best practice models of career development into an existing program?" for a course on child and adolescence studies.

In the readiness traits discussed by Pittman, I found the following concepts to be most valuable in regards to students’ development: commitment to learning; positive values; social competencies; and positive identity.

REBECCA BANE
Graduate Student,
Capella University,
Minneapolis, Minn.

Letters should be addressed to:
Editor,
School Administrator
1615 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703-841-1543
E-mail: 
magazine@aasa.org  

 

 

 

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