Despite negative public feedback from some community members, the State College school board voted 7-1 to limit family and consumer science to sixth grade in the middle schools in favor of an academic literacy course.
Board member Laurel Zydney cast the dissenting vote after several community members spoke against the proposal over the course of the past two regular meetings. Dorothea Stahl was absent.
The literacy course will encompass reading, writing and oral communications, promoting an increased push for stronger literacy practices across the curriculum and taking pressure off English teachers.
Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said the course will be valuable for the students, and the lessons from the FCS courses will be picked up in other areas of study.
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“If I did not believe this to be a reasonable step, considering the variables involved, I would not have supported this proposal,” he said.
The course will be an original design by district officials and will be developed to fit the schools specifically. It will be implemented over the next two years, functioning in an exploratory phase every other day for the 2013-2014 school year.
The course implementation is not looking to solve any problems, O’Donnell said, rather trying to be proactive in filling possible holes curriculum-wide.
There will be no job losses with the proposal. It was made possible by multiple retirements in the FCS department.
Several board members spoke out in favor of the proposal including David Hutchinson, who said it could greatly benefit the student, providing 21st century skills in oral communication and allowing the district to stay ahead of the curve.
“There is a lot of opportunity here if we do this right, which I certainly think we’re going to do,” he said.
But Zydney wasn’t swayed by the presentation.
She echoed many of the concerns from the residents, citing that there is not enough research on these types of courses and that there is cognitive value in FCS.
Zydney added it is telling that over the two meetings it was being discussed, no members of the public came to speak in favor of the proposal. More than 10 people came to speak against it both times.
“My concern is that in not trying to solve a problem, we’re creating one,” she said.
The district will now work on strategies to implement the course and determine where exactly FCS concepts will enter into the curriculum elsewhere. FCS will still be offered in the middle school to sixth grade students.