With Study Skills Course, Union Fears for Electives, Jobs

Article excerpt

Byline: Kerry Lester klester@dailyherald.com

Union officials say implementing a new study skills course could endanger Elgin Area School District U-46AEs music, art and consumer science classes, as well as the jobs of its teachers.

"The cartAEs before the horse," said Tim Davis, president of the 2,400-member Elgin TeachersAE Association. "Before you bring in a new initiative, I believe you have to intentionally engage the community so they can provide feedback and input. That piece was missing here."

In mid-January, Superintendent Jose Torres announced that several new programs would provide additional support at the middle-school level.

Along with adding foreign language courses and guidance counselors, Torres said the district would also begin offering AVID study skills courses for seventh- and ninth-graders next school

year.

AVID, an acronym for Advancement Via Individual Determination, teaches B and C students organization, analytic skills and notetaking, helping them to move on to more challenging academic territory, with the ultimate goal of being accepted to a four-year college.

Developed at San DiegoAEs Clairemont High School in 1980, the program is in use at 4,000 schools across the country.

According to data collected by the AVID Center, 87 percent of high school seniors who took the course applied to a four-year college last year. Just shy of 80 percent of those students were accepted.

Academic improvement for students taking the course stretches across ethnic and gender lines, according to recent studies by the Institute for Higher Education Policy and the California Postsecondary Education Commission.

The program may be successful, but members of the unionAEs Instructional Council are concerned that slating students for AVID courses will leave them little room in their schedules for other electives.

As a result, Davis said, there could be less need for art, music, consumer science and computer courses and teachers. …