2009-09-03 / Letters

SF Reward Trips Discriminate

To The Editor:

I found an article in your archives dated 9-28-08 written by Chanin Rotz-Mountz about parents who were outraged that seniors at Southern Fulton High School who performed well on the PSSA tests were going on a class trip to Ocean City while those students who did not perform as well did not get to go on the trip.

This reward system continues at the school. Friday, August 28, eighth- and ninthgraders from Southern Fulton who achieved advanced or proficient levels in both reading and math on the PSSA tests went to Rocky Gap in Maryland. Those students who placed in basic or below basic were not allowed to go and substitutes were brought in for the day. My child did well enough in reading, but missed the mark in math by a few points.

I contacted the principal, Mrs. Meredith Whiteside, and she answered some of the questions I had about the event. Basically, I discovered that my tax dollars funded a trip that my child was not allowed to attend. Four substitutes were brought in for the eighth grade, I don't know how many were needed for the ninth grade, and the children were transported on two school buses.

These types of "reward" trips discriminate against children who do not test well. There are children who will never make above the basic level on these tests. Should they be made to feel inferior or punished because of it?

The tests evolved from the No Child Left Behind Act and Southern Fulton is doing precisely what this law is trying to prevent, they are leaving children behind. Imagine a 13- or 14-year-old sitting in a classroom watching their friends and classmates get up from their desks and leave for a fun day away from school. It certainly doesn't do much for their sense of self-worth.

What about the privacy of these children? I assumed the test results were private, confidential information. It was certainly evident after Friday who passed and who didn't.

Southern Fulton has a very detailed policy against bullying and yet the administration creates the very environment that allows division among the students.

In these economic times when state employees are not being paid, our school system is paying substitutes to come in so the regular teachers can be chaperones. If all the students were allowed to go on the trip, the substitutes wouldn't be needed. I asked the principal to explain to me how having my child sit in school doing busy work was going to increase their math test score.

Southern Fulton has made huge accomplishments on these tests as reported in your newspaper last week. They do have a reason to celebrate, but let all the students be involved in the celebration. For the most part these students are good, hardworking kids, why does the administration feel the need to bribe and bully them into performing well?

Perhaps Chanin could do a follow-up on her first article and let the community know this is still happening at the school.

Thanks for your time.
Michelle Shank
S. Fulton School
District resident

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