Evaluating curricula: #4
The research discussion starts?
Some readers may recall that Jamie, a protagonist in a story about members of an educational advisory group that is charged with identifying curricula for their schools, was collaborating with a central-office administrator and a fellow committe member about how to get help from local people who knew something about research on effective instruction. In this episode, we witness their meeting with a research professor from a local univeristy.
For Anna, getting to the meeting was complicated by demands from another associate superintendent who wanted her to help with a grant application. She told him, “Right. Your application is important! I can talk with you later. Right now, I have to do my curriculum job.”
Alberto, who was a private citizen, not an official employee of the schools, had to leave his business for the afternoon. He was glad he had a competent assistant whom he felt sure would be able to handle anything that arose. “You’ve got this, I’m sure,” he said. “Just give me a call or send a text if there’s something really wild.”
For Jamie, last-minute events made getting away to the meeting terribly difficult.
About noon that day, the assistant principal for her school asked if she was ready for the parent meeting that afternoon. With a sinking feeling, Jamie thought, “OMG! What meeting? Did I mess up my calendar?” “What?” Jamie asked. “I don’t have an IEP today! Are you sure?”
Then there was a student’s “melt down” that started about 2:30 PM. Following procedures, Jamie and her assisant calmed the child and Jamie felt confident that her assistant could help the child get on the bus and head home safely.
As Jamie and her assistant arranged plans to get the distressed student home in calm shape, the assistant principal approached and explained to Jamie that the IEP meeting was the next day, not this afternoon. She apologized and Jamie, who considered the AP a friend, understood.
But Jamie now had to be away to her meeting with Professor Bebopp. And she was late.
She left her assistant in charge and, trusting her phone’s guidance system, she hastily headed for the nearby university.
As Jamie approached the building where her map application showed Bebopp’s office, she realized there was nowhere to park! The lots had ominus signs about towing and impoundment.
As she drove through one lot, she saw Anna hustling along a side walk. Jamie rolled down her window and yelled to her, “Hey, Anna! Where the heck do people park here?”
Anna replied, “I don’t really know. I just took an open spot over there.”
Jamie went in the direction Anna had pointed and parked in an open spot. There seemed to be at least a half dozen spots, so she thought it must be okay. As she hastened to the building for the meeting, little did she know that when she returned to the spot, her car (and Anna’s) would no longer be there. The cars had been towed to an impound and would require $110 each to retrieve them.
Once in the building, Jamie realized that she only had Professor Bebopp’s name, not her office number…and was she even in the right building? Why hadn’t Anna waited for her? Where was a sign to show whose office was where?
She was relieved to see Alberto hastening into the building, too. He looked at Jamie, smiled, bent his head down, and said, “Looks like you’re lost. I know where we’re going…follow me.”
“Oh, man! Thank you!” Jamie blurted. “ I hate to be late!”
“I agree,” Alberto said. “I learned from my father—this way, turn left—that if you’re brown, you better not let anyone think you’re putting them down. Just up the stairs here….”
“Thanks. I get that people might get dissed…, and also I remember that our fathers worked together for years…and man, are we supposed to run up these stairs?” Jamie was nearly panting.
Alberto said, “Come on girl! I thought you were a long distance runner!”
Jamie replied, “Yes, I did my 6 miles this morning, but they weren’t a stair workout.” Then she stopped on the third-floor landing, and tapped Alberto’s arm.
“Al,” Jamie said, “Are you on board with this idea about judging curricula by whether they are effective?”
“Of course?” Alberto replied. “Why wouldn’t I be? We want Monty’s kids to succeed, right?”
“Yes, I agree,” Jamie said.
Just as they arrived at Professor Bebopp’s office door, which was open, Alberto and Jamie could hear Professor Bebopp and Anna discussing their families’ holiday experiences.
It was 3:34 when Jamie and Alberto walked into Professor Bebopp’s office. They were not technically “on time,” but they had arrived.
“Well, here they are! Right on time,” Anna said. She immediately began introductions, and Jamie remembered that Anna was an administrator who would take charge when things needed to be organized.
“Brenda, I think you already know Alberto Montoya. And this is Jamie Smythe Ireland. Alberto is, as you surely know, a local businessman who is interested in education and Jamie’s a teacher, special education, for MPS.”
Almost before Anna had completed the introductions, Professor Bebopp said, “Good to see you, Al, and nice to meet you Ms. Smith.”
Everything stopped for a few seconds, and Jamie decided not to correct the mistakes with her name (“‘Smythe,’ not ‘Smith,’ and that’s my maiden name; I go by ‘Jamie Ireland’”). Then Anna started again. “So, Brenda, we are all on a committee for MPS that is responsible for picking, well deciding…about curriculums that MPS will adopt. We want your help…especially, we want to know which curriculums are better than others.”
“Oh…,” professor Bebopp said, “…My god!”