Letter: Reject LBUSD’s Trimester Plan

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Although a number of teachers did their best in a COVID-19 world, the last three months of “school” were extremely lacking. There is no point in discussing now what would have been a better way of doing things back in March. What is critical now is what is going to happen in August when our children go back to school.

On Friday, July 24, at 11:30 a.m. the LBUSD staff released their proposal for the upcoming school year. The report was prepared without any formal public outreach for input from students or parents. The Board of Education moved forward and approved it early on July 27.

This proposal changes the traditional model of six classes in two semesters to a trimester system with students taking only two courses per trimester.

The notion that our children will receive a full year of instruction for a given subject (math or English) within a trimester is ludicrous. Imagine the challenge for students who have not received mathematics since the school closure and who will not be enrolled in their math class until the third trimester. How can you expect them to come back after almost one year without any direct instruction, and then within 12-weeks absorb a full year of math to proficiency? Subjects like Spanish require incremental learning and repetition, how do we expect to compress nine months of schooling into three months?

This plan was put in place by a selected group of staff members with a pervasive incentive to come up with a system that makes their life simpler at the cost of our children’s education. The trimester system gives teachers a reduced number of students (going from 160 to 60) and a lower number of teaching hours (going from 25 to 16).

The vast majority of the comments submitted by parents on Monday were against the proposed trimester system. Still, the board has voted to move forward with the trimester system and potentially offer an online alternative by what our Superintendent indicated would be a “remedial” type of learning that would not be done by our teachers.

We are spending almost $24,000 per year per student to fund the highest paid staff in Orange County. It is unacceptable that LBUSD implements a trimester plan that is geared towards reducing the working hours of our teachers at expense of our children’s education. The time to act is now. Reject it!

Manrique Brenes, Laguna Beach

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