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Norwalk Public Schools reassures parents: Middle school teachers will get trained for redesign

Norwalk Public Schools administrators listen to a presentation at a recent middle school redesign committee meeting in City Hall.

Norwalk Public Schools administrators listen to a presentation at a recent middle school redesign committee meeting in City Hall.

Update, 8 p.m., count of petitions added.

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk parents have found a new way to express their opposition to the developing middle school redesign.

The Facebook group, Norwalk Parents for Education, posted a petition Sunday – calling it an “urgent call to action” – and it quickly spread to another Facebook group, Choices for Success.

In the petition, the parents demand a schedule for professional development for the middle school teachers.

There’s one already in progress, Norwalk Public Schools Communications Director Brenda Wilcox Williams said in a comment on the post.

It’s not easy to know how many people have signed the petition because it was done in a somewhat unorthodox way for the Internet, as a posted jpeg rather than through one of the many petition website services.

The idea is that parents copy the jpeg, put in their names and send it to Board of Education members. Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons said at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday that he had gotten five emails.

The post says:

“BASED ON THE FAST MOVING MIDDLE SCHOOL REDESIGN, ALL OF OUR MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS WILL BE DIRECTLY AFFECTED BY THE MIDDLE SCHOOL REDESIGN CHANGES.

“Our teachers have not had any professional development yet on teaching during longer block periods starting THIS AUGUST 2016. THIS IS AN URGENT MATTER!!”

Wilcox Williams posted:

“Folks, Dr. Conner, Chief Academic Officer for NPS, has been working on finishing up the MS professional development plan for the 2016-17 academic year. The curriculum team has a few more dates and logistics to finalize, but our plan was to publish it this week. It includes professional learning geared to the program improvements that will roll out at middle schools starting this fall, as well as a detailed summary about what has been accomplished so far. MJ, I’m more than happy to provide you and the group here with a link to it once it’s finished. In past years, PD details were only provided to teachers and staff, but this year we did publish the full slate of fall and spring professional learning sessions, so that parents and anyone else who wanted could have a look. No issues at all with making this available to anyone and everyone.”

A mom thanked her three hours later:

“Most parents are open to change and middle school redesign. However, parents are very disappointed and frustrated with the fast paced implementation and lack of opportunities for ALL middle school parents to give feedback about the middle school redesign. Many parents feel their children’s education will suffer due to lack of teacher support and training prior to implementation.

“This has been the process in our school district for many years. … Historically, administrators review evidence based research and want to implement positive changes for the benefit of our children. The intention is good, however, implementation of new initiatives is rushed and teachers/parents/other stakeholders do not have opportunities to give constructive suggestions with regards to implementation (BEFORE IMPLEMENTATION). WE NEED TO INCLUDE TEACHERS, PARENTS AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS IN DECISION MAKING PROCESS MANY MONTHS BEFORE IMPLEMENTATION. I know our NPS District Administrators want all of our children to succeed. Let’s just slow down a bit and educate our children together.’

Another mom was also skeptical:

“As far as I’m concerned they can ‘schedule’ training sessions all they want…teachers are NOT going to be sufficiently prepared come August and I am not willing to allow my kids education to suffer because of some “urgency” to get this implemented. The achievement gap has occurred this long…what does another year matter in order to efficiently and PROPERLY implement? I am for the change and I understand it needs to start somewhere but do it the RIGHT way! And someone please explain to me why all middle schools are doing different programs?”

Norwalk Parents for Education has 1,850 members.

Choices for Success is not a closed group, and has been “liked” by 187 people. Choices for Success is an after-school program of the Child Guidance Center Of Mid-Fairfield County.

There are no comments on the post there.

2 comments

MarjorieM June 14, 2016 at 11:12 am

Mike Lyons has been very quiet lately on this media source. Are you supporting Adamowski, Mike, or are you beginning to wish you had heeded the warnings given to you by so many others?

Mike Lyons June 16, 2016 at 6:08 pm

I’ve been posting in NON and on the Parents Facebook page regularly, Marj. Completely satisfied with Dr. Adamowski and his staff.

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