Parents question science, social studies changes

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The Sidney City Schools Board of Education meeting room was filled with parents and Sidney Middle School staff as explanations about how change in the science and social studies programs will no include reading and writing emphasis. Numerous parents spoke about how they didn’t support the change in teaching the core subjects.

“I have two daughters — a freshman and a sixth-grader,” said Kathryn Kessler,of Sidney. “Our teachers are great assets.”

She voiced her concern that the parents weren’t informed of the plans to change the classes until it was ready to be implemented.

“Several parents have not been told anything about it and it’s been implemented for five days. My daughter is strong in social studies and science so that hits us significantly. Not to be told about it before (if happened) concerns me.

“My biggest concerns are for the IEP kids,” said Kessler. “Are we honoring the IEP federal mandates?”

She also addressed the standards that the schools are teaching to the students. She said she talked to officials at the Ohio Department of Education and the social students and science standards are being redone.

“We chose to stay here because of the staff,” said Kessler. “Knowing she’s not going to get her science, might change that. Are we just teaching to the tests? I want to know. I want to explore my options. We’ve seen that tests change. We’ve seen that standards change. We’ve seen that measures in the grade cards change.

“If that’s all we’re going to do, you’ll see parents ship their kids out if you’re cutting science and social studies. We’re going to be a mediocre school. We chose Sidney Middle School because they’re amazing. I don’t want to leave … but I can’t waste a year. My kid can’t lose a year of science.”

Kessler, who is an early childhood educator, made a proposed schedule that could meet the needs of the students.

“The kids need another way,” said Kessler. “They deserve another way.”

Dr. Frederick Simpson,of Sidney, said he has older children who didn’t attend Sidney City schools. His family chose to send the younger children to Sidney.

“This is teaching to the test,” said Simpson. “You’re creating a school day of subjects they’re (students) are doing worst in. That’s troublesome to me.

“If you’re going to improve language arts, then you have to teach language arts better without the sacrificing the education my kids receive in science and social students,” said Simpson. “You have X amount of time and how to use it best. You can’t be stealing from Peter to pay Paul.”

Kristin Allen, of Sidney, is the mother of elementary school students. She said last week her third-grader got in the car and was covered in white stuff. He said they did a science experiment in class and it blew up. It was wonderful and he loved it.”

The hands-on aspect of class time, she said is important. If they don’t get that at the middle school level, it will be detrimental to the learning process.

“The thought of this year of his not having three days of science blows my mind,” said Allen. “I’m thankful for the staff and teachers we have here.”

Parent Sherrye Lamm, of Sidney, has a son in the sixth-grade. He’s in all advanced classes, she said.

“You talk about the MAP testing and say you don’t fully understand it. That’s perplexing to me. I don’t agree with teaching to the tests.

“My son mention that he wasn’t doing science and social studies in his class,” she said. “I had a teacher hand (the letter) to me at the conference. Not one of them said a word about it (changes) until we asked about it.”

Lamm said she wants her children to be challenged in their educational studies.

Kevin Turner said he was speaking as a parent and as an eighth-grade science teacher. He questioned what standards will be cut in the sixth- and seventh-grade science classes. And how will those changes affect the standards the students must meet at the high school level.

“The current measure is not the answer,” said Turner. “We can do better.”

Superintendent John Scheu told the parents that he appreciated their comments.

“This is a complex thing,” said Scheu. “Some excellent points were made. I can tell you no principal understands the data better than Diane Voress. I’m confident we can figure something out.”

Scheu said he will give a followup report at the board’s meeting on Nov. 20.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.