The School District Will be Different Next Year

“We are in a period of great change,” said Dimond’s Principal Cheryl Guyett. Next year’s freshman, class of 2017, will be the first to witness the change as they explore new classes for English and social studies. Four years of social studies and four years of English classes will eventually be required, said Guyett. That means that English electives will be electives and not count as core English credit. The same thing will happen with social studies. Head of the English Department at Dimond, Marcus Reese, said, “Freshmen starting in 2013 will take English I, then when they are sophomores in 2014, they will take English II. When they are juniors they will take English III and as seniors they will take English IV.” “Changes will move with the freshmen class starting in 2013.” It is not intended to impact current high school students, however next year’s freshmen will experience the change, said Reese. English I is being written now and “we understand that there will be an honors component. English I will focus on studying various genres,” said Reese. Guyett said, “Next year’s freshmen will be studying a “general package of writing and reading.” Reese said, “English II has yet to be developed.” It will also have an honors component and it will “focus on world literature.” English III will focus on American literature. AP Language and Composition will also be offered. “English IV will take place of electives,” said Reese. Kent Isakson, Head of the Social Studies department at Dimond, said the social studies curriculum changes “mainly focus around changes to when classes will be taught to students in their high school years. “All changes affect next year’s ninth graders. Current students will not be affected.” Ninth grade will no longer be World History. Next year’s freshmen will take a semester of Alaska Studies. Alaska Studies can be taken as an honor class if students choose. Freshmen will also take “a semester of Global Geography which will include areas of the world and current events,” said Isakson. Sophomores have been being taught U.S. history, but next year’s freshmen will be taught world history as sophomores. Students taking U.S. history will be able to take it as an honors or an AP class like they can now. When next year’s freshmen are juniors, they will take U.S. history. “We still have not been told if they can take economics during this year or not,” said Isakson. The senior year “will be the year that students take econ and government,” said Isakson. There are many proposed budget cuts. The School Board is proposing that the high school Career Resource counselor, the graduation coach and the nurse’s secretary’s position be eliminated, said Guyett. The School Board also proposing that the library assistants be cut down to one position and have that position only work part time, said Guyett. Guyett said it is important to “distinguish the position from the people.” It is not the people being eliminated, it is the position. The school board proposed eliminating one counselor job in each high school, but Anchorage School District’s past Superintendent Dr. Jim Browder proposed to keep that position. Browder wants to have all the students split up equally between the counselors. He does not want schools to have special positions for a Special Education Counselor or an English Language Learner Counselor. Browder wants to put all the students together. Browder’s “priority is to not increase class sizes,” said Guyett. Isakson said, “I would say anytime you cut the budget it has a negative effect on schools. “The new curriculums are being put together very quickly and teachers will have little time to adjust to the new classes they will be teaching. “Many very good classes in the social studies department will be hurt by these changes and some may in fact disappear. “These changes coupled with other changes over the past few years have had a negative effect on social studies and other disciplines as well.” Reese said, “[Budget cuts will] not affect the curriculum so to speak, but budget cuts affect the delivering of the curriculum all across the district.” The district is expected to do more with less. There are one thousand online seats for summer school for the whole school district, said Guyett. It is not run on a first come, first serve basis. The students that need the credits to graduate receive the spots first. If there are spots left after all the top priority students are accounted for, then students that want to take summer school to get ahead can get the spots. Isakson said, “Most social studies teachers would like to stick with what they teach, so they will move with the grade. That being said, there will be those who have to teach classes they have not taught before. “Teachers generally teach new classes multiple times in their careers and I expect Dimond social studies teachers will adapt and teach some great courses.”