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June 25, 2018

School superintendent’s yearly evaluation set tonight

David Jeck has served 5 years as Fauquier’s school superintendent.
Fauquier’s school board will conduct its annual review of the superintendent tonight, Monday, June 25.

Agenda at bottom of story

David Jeck, who has worked as Fauquier’s school superintendent for five years, earns $170,274 annually.

During a special meeting at 5:30 p.m., the school board will go into closed session to evaluate the superintendent’s performance.

Dr. Jeck, who lives near Orlean, has a year remaining on his employment contract, which expires June 30, 2019.

During Monday’s meeting, the school board also will discuss hiring a full-time instructional coach/mentor coordinator, who would provide professional development and support for teachers, principals and other administrators.

School Board Agenda 062518 by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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nonewtaxes · July 2, 2018 at 9:03 am
Why is the school system teaching right from wrong? Where is the parent's involvement?

When you give the example about two students suspended for fighting and then claim they had no adult mediation are you assuming the parents did nothing?

sshrader · July 2, 2018 at 7:40 am
Ok, last, last comment. I do believe that some teachers understand the depth of the issues and do make strong connections with students, helping to create a window of time when their students experience an optimal learning environment. I have not met you Jim, but i have read your comments here many times and believe that you may be one such teacher. My kids have experienced many teachers in Fauquier who do the same. What I push for is the framework of our schools to align more closely with the teachers who are implementing the approaches that work best.
Thank you for taking the time to discuss this here. That you would take this time, during your time off, makes evident your care for our schools and the students.
sshrader · July 2, 2018 at 7:07 am
Last comment- Frank Finn also attended the Juvenile Justice Reform talk and he stated that prevention & early detection, behavior intervention, education intervention, identify issues early, and systematic teaching of expectations is the schools approach. But, when I asked him for clear examples of how some of these ideas were being executed and told him that my experience did not align with this he did not have great answers. He discussed the check-in check-out approach that is used with some students, he said that Fauquier has the alternative program at Southeastern, and he said something about refocus to keep them on track academically with counselors. Then he talked about project based learning at Southeastern (I have recently seen examples on twitter of their projects but Southeastern is a consequence that then leads to a, hopefully, different approach instead of implementing the correct approach proactively) and the instructional model of relationship building, without giving clear examples. So, talk is one thing but what students actually experience is another.
sshrader · July 2, 2018 at 6:40 am
A few years ago I attended a talk about Juvenile Justice Reform that included many members of the community and Andrew Black, the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice director. Mr Black talked about "restoration instead of retribution". He said that for positive youth development all kids must feel safe, feel connected (to adults, peers, family, mentors), feel like what they are doing has purpose, and for fairness- especially appropriate response to issues.
Did you know- suspending students just once triples the likelihood they will end up in in the juvenile justice system, and doubles the chance they will drop out.
High Structure and Low Support -The high structure and low support authoritarian climate is characterized by adults who use an authoritarian style. Adults blame and stigmatize “rule breakers,” making it difficult for them to make pro-social changes. This type of school climate often produces a distress response from students. In this climate, executive and memory functions are dampened, leading to negative effects on learning and behavior. The human brain in this environment tends toward a state of anxious vigilance. Students must use part of their brain to constantly scan for threats in the environment, which contributes to fewer social connections and lower academic achievement.
High Structure and High Support- The high structure and high support authoritative climate engages students co-operatively and collaboratively. The human brain in this environment is in a calm and attentive state and is capable of reflective thought. When misbehavior is handled with a positive toned restorative discussion with students, empathy for others and taking responsibility for oneʼs own behavior become positive actions to be repeated. Trust is built with adults and the connection to school as a positive institution is improved. This environment creates optimal learning conditions in the brain.
Connection to School is Important- The Wingspread Declaration and supporting research has clearly demonstrated the importance of connection and bonding to school. A restorative approach sets and maintains a positive social environment even in times of stress or conflict. Students seeking connection will find it easier to establish connections in a school with a positive affective resonance. Adults who are consistently proactive in modeling a positive emotional tone and responding quickly and effectively to situations of peer aggression ensure students of a safe environment. School climate affects everyone.

sshrader · July 2, 2018 at 6:40 am
Action item 6- Revisions to the Code of Student Conduct-
All changes are addressing the legislative changes and language relating to the changes, the bare minimum. The entire book is a list of consequences, mostly entailing taking students OUT of the learning environment. As I said in my first post, The bills were passed with the expectation that school districts would look deeper at the over use and harm of harsh (and counterproductive) punishments within the schools, especially the effects that they have on people of color.
Do you realized how little it takes for a student to be given In school suspension, taken out of the learning environment? Do you realize that our schools do not use enough preventative methods (actual laid out expectations), do not use mediation or conflict resolution (even after two students have been in a fight and are returning to school), do not consistently use positive connections (we all know teachers who expect compliance to the t and students who are overlooked). The current approach is to talk to accused students and whomever else is involved and assign punishment. There is no consistent further help to prevent future issues. There is no mediation between two students that are experiencing the heavy emotions that many youth are less prepared to manage without some help. It is entirely punishment once a student has broken the “codes of conduct”, entirely what the person in power will do TO them instead of how they will work WITH them to help.
Please read this again:
“School districts across the nation.. have reconstructed their codes of conduct, REPLACING simple lists of behaviors that lead to suspension and expulsion with comprehensive plans for creating positive school climates. By shifting the focus from punishment to prevention, and providing guidance for alternative strategies, such codes support and encourage teachers who are already seeking to implement strategies for supporting positive student behavior in the classroom”
From the same edition of American Ed- pg 9-10
States that are making SIGNIFICANT shifts away from the exclusionary discipline and zero tolerance approaches- Maryland, Massachusetts, California, Colorado, Georgia, Oregon
School districts making progress- read the specific examples of changes that we are not even close to using.
Seriously consider reading through this, it explains how changes happen, it takes action:

Example issues that have happened in Fauquier schools:
(Beyond the earlier stated issue of In school suspension being archaically implemented)
High school student that had never been in trouble, working w a fellow student made a cross word puzzle, printed it, and found a jammed printer. When the printer was unjammed the crossword puzzle printed but, instead of printing theirs it printed one from the earlier class. The students did not realize that the puzzle was not theirs and turned it in as their own. The teacher later saw that two sets of students had turned in the exact same puzzle and spoke with the students, briefly. The students had no idea what had happened and were sure that they had not turned in another groups work. The issue was sent up to the administrator. The admin spoke with the students, the students were accused of cheating (mind you this was just one tenth of a bigger project and worth very few points overall- not to the point of cheating but to make clear how odd cheating on this would be). The admin called in the 2 students parents and made clear that they may be given Out of school suspension. The case was investigated for a week and finally it was determined that the students “probably” did not intend to turn in the other students’ work. The issues- the two accused kids lost a lot of trust and, were they found “guilty”, would have been taken out of school to –somehow- teach them a lesson.
Another example- a student gets mad and starts a fight with another, the other student pushes the kid away but does not actually fight. They both get Out of school suspension. When they return to school they go right back to the class with no adult mediation, no restorative approaches, no way at all to help- just the “punishment” of being taken out of the learning environment. Let’s say one of these students has experienced In school or out of school suspension almost every year starting in Kindergarten, up to high school. How does the school use preventative help? Well, the middle school does have the Positive behavior approach, but do you know what that entails? No consistently used and proven methods, just handing out a piece of paper for a good deed and a party for kids that do not get in trouble. This is not enough.
Stacie Griffin · July 1, 2018 at 10:35 pm
As a parent and volunteer supporting our Fauquier County public schools, I am expressing full support that our school board extend Dr. Jeck's contract and keep him in our county for many many years to come. I find myself wanting to write an overwhelming amount of reasons why he is such an amazing superintendent and leader, but I don't want to fill this entire page. I will say that we are so lucky to have a superintendent who empowers his administrative team, respects every employee in our schools, and engages our students. I see him working very hard to make Fauquier County schools competitive, innovative and provide opportunities for all children. He has built a bridge in our county with parents, businesses and community leaders. We can not take him for granted. Thank you Dr. Jeck for being a leader and an example. Our community is so much better with you in it.
J Obrokta · July 1, 2018 at 8:59 pm

The things that you list below about the importance of having a different approach to discipline are all commonly held ideas in our school system. We are all about building positive relationships and helping students to develop a sense of right and wrong that isn't just a response to punishment.

As for increased professional development about cultural awareness and building a positive school culture for all students we have had that too. Our central office staff hosted an equity conference in the fall and then repeated much of that training in a spring session that hundreds of our teachers were able to attend.

I think that in this case you are preaching to the choir. We are all very familiar with the points that you are making because we have already internalized them through the trainings we have had in recent years.

There is still work to be done. But please know that our county is making progress on issues regarding equity.

Best regards,

Jim O'Brokta
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
sshrader · June 30, 2018 at 10:11 am
ESSA has made the equity conversation mandatory, so of course Dr Jeck has discussed it. But, “bringing up” the need to increase equity without providing education on the depth and breadth of the issues and without providing training on the changes in mindset and actions is not going to do much for our students.
Additionally, looking at the success of different student populations is usually done using test scores, pass rates, graduation rates. This overlooks, for all kids, the actual learning and potential for future success. There are so many kids in remediation in our high schools that all 3 schools have built in remediation time every day. This is used to push kids across “finish lines” so that their test scores are just good enough and so that they can, just barely, graduate. What does that say about how much they have actually learned?

This is an incredible issue of American Educator that focuses on “Seeding Change in School Discipline”. It discusses, in depth, the issues and approaches to change.

“Support and training to implement more effective approaches
More effective disciplinary alternatives, to implement educators require proper training which must be ongoing, provided to all school staff, and “aligned with school and district reform goals, …. With a focus on evidenced based positive school discipline, conflict resolution, cultural relevancy and responsiveness, behavior management, social justice and equity.” Similarly, the National Education Association has joined efforts to end school discipline disparities, and both organizations have supported replacing harsh discipline with restorative practices.”
Page 9

“Codes of Conduct that support alternative strategies:
School districts across the nation.. have reconstructed their codes of conduct, replacing simple lists of behaviors that lead to suspension and expulsion with comprehensive plans for creating positive school climates. By shifting the focus from punishment to prevention, and providing guidance for alternative strategies, such codes support and encourage teachers who are already seeking to implement strategies for supporting positive student behavior in the classroom.”
Page 11

Ongoing professional development, changes in the school environment, increasing positive relationships, increasing cultural awareness, changes in expectations of how to approach and help students that are having issues, keeping kids IN school…..
J Obrokta · June 30, 2018 at 1:23 am
Hi everyone.

I want to point out that all of this conversation is really tricky stuff. I wish I had the right answers to all of this.

I teach at LHS. In the last 5 years, I have written up three students for behavior issues. One student was a white boy in my class. His behavior in my class was disrespectful and confrontational. I also wrote up two students for creating a physical confrontation in the hallway between classes. Both of those students were African American.

I seriously try my very best to address behaviors without resorting to an official write-up for administration, but when I do write up something the last thing on my mind is the racial or ethnic background of a student.

A more important conversation for our schools would be one where we are looking at the success of different student populations within our district. We want to make sure that every group of students is being given the very best chance to succeed. Dr. Jeck brought this idea up to all of our teachers at convocation last year. He is pushing all of us to make sure that every student gets a fair shot.

Some inequities probably continue to exist in our schools. That is a really important issue. But that isn't something that our superintendent has missed. Under his leadership I think that we will all work towards a more equitable public school system.

Jim Obrokta
LHS Social Studies
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
nonewtaxes · June 29, 2018 at 8:23 am
They are either going to learn consequences from their parents or their prison mates.
sshrader · June 28, 2018 at 2:21 pm
How does that even make sense for this convo? Every act done by a human does not have an equal and opposite reaction. Teaching kids is not done best by making them suffer.
A more in depth explanation by Mr. Kohn-

Working WITH instead of doing TO- to guide students the mindset should be not about what the person in power will do to them but how the will work with them.
nonewtaxes · June 28, 2018 at 1:31 pm
Actions without consequences? Was Newton wrong? Ho do you distinguish between good and bad? Are actions irrelevant?
sshrader · June 28, 2018 at 8:14 am
Ummmm, you two can keep your heads in the sand and act like everything is rosy but I have two kids and I want the future to be better, for them and for everyone. We can start to close the gap but there has to be a focus on it for it to happen. My goal is not only to close the gap of the inequality of punishment but to shift our schools away from a punishment based approach. Our knowledge on the best approaches to guiding our youth to become healthy citizens has increased and we have learned that many of our old approaches harm and have the opposite of the intended effect- punishment increases anger and mistrust.

from Alfie Kohn's "Why do we punish children?"
"What punishments — even if they’re euphemistically called “consequences” (so we can feel better about making a child feel bad) — really do is make the child angry, teach him that you get your way in life by using your power over those who are weaker, and make it less likely that he’ll focus on how his actions affect others. Punishment undermines moral development by leading people to ask, “What do they want me to do, and what happens to me if I don’t do it” and actively discouraging them from asking, “What kind of person do I want to be?” "
"It’s crucial to question not only the effectiveness of punishment — in fact, it can never buy us anything more than temporary compliance, and it does that at a disturbing cost — but the beliefs that often underlie it: that kids are basically bad and will do terrible things without the threat of punishment hanging over them, that punishment is the best (or even only) way to socialize children, that the only alternative to punishment is permissiveness, that it’s an appropriate way to express love and care, and so on. As you know, many kids, too, have internalized some of these myths, which may be even sadder than encountering them in adults."
nonewtaxes · June 26, 2018 at 9:43 pm
Alternatively, if a school population is 75% white and 25% get suspended should the school suspend another 50% just to keep things balanced?
nonewtaxes · June 26, 2018 at 9:37 pm
So if a school has a 15% black population than no more than 15% of the suspensions should be for black students?? Is this regardless of the actions of other black students? In other words, if the 15% quota is met are the actions of the rest of the students ignored?
sshrader · June 26, 2018 at 11:32 am
One quick note about my experience with our school's punishment system, the expectations of In school suspension in many of our schools is that students spend the day in a small room with an adult monitoring them. The students are often only allowed to get up twice to go to the rest room and once to get their lunch and then again to throw away their trash. Many students are given multiple days of ISS in a row so they spend an excessive amount of time with no chance to move. When I, repeatedly, brought up the potential harm of this to both Dr. Jeck and a principal I was given a dismissive response and then ignored. We KNOW that this kind of approach does not help. We KNOW that being young is full of mistakes and that for positive youth development we must help kids feel safe, connected, like what they are doing has a purpose, and that they will be treated fairly, including appropriate responses to infractions. Yet, we still allow outdated and harmful ways of dealing with the kids that often need the most help from the adults that are shutting them out.

2 short articles-
"Aiming for Discipline Instead of Punishment
Brain-aligned discipline isn’t compliance-driven or punitive—it’s about supporting students in creating sustainable changes in behavior."

Why do we punish?

But, one last note.... The issue of racial disparity in our school's punishment is also the concern of how infractions are sometimes treated differently depending on who did what. Are black students more likely to receive punishment for the same infraction that a white student may not?
sshrader · June 26, 2018 at 6:42 am
Yes, it has been an issue always and now it must change.
From the Richmond Times twitter:
"Black students made up 15 percent of national enrollment in 2015-16, but they accounted for 31 percent of those referred to law enforcement or arrested. Every Richmond-area school division was at or worse than the national average."
@JasonKamras (superintendent of Richmond city schools):
"And in Richmond, 72% of students are African-American, yet they were given 88% of the suspensions. Unacceptable. We can, we must, and we will end this injustice."

from VA Senator Jennifer McClellan, about a bill she pushed to increase transparency:
"HB 367 required the Board of Education to annually publish disciplinary offense and outcome data by race, ethnicity, gender, and disability. With the passage of that bill, we have been able to systematically track patterns in the use of suspension/expulsion in our public schools."
"In 2016, @LegalAidJustice released an analysis of public school exclusionary discipline data for the 2014-2015 academic year. Results were stark, demonstrating that students of color & students w/ disabilities were disproportionately suspended/expelled."

And it has not improved so:
"Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday signed two bills regarding student discipline and suspensions, one barring school divisions from suspending students in pre-K through third grade for more than three days, and another that cuts the maximum length of a long-term suspension from 364 calendar days to 45 school days."
"The architect of the bills, Amy Woolard, a staff attorney and policy coordinator at Charlottesville’s Legal Aid Justice Center, agrees.

“Exclusionary discipline is myopic and harmful — we cannot continue to use access to education as a punishment for student conduct and expect positive results from either students or schools,” she said upon the release of a report she authored in October. “When children are suspended from school, they are more likely to experience academic failure, drop out of school, have substance abuse issues, have mental health needs and become involved in the justice system.”"

Jim, If you follow local and national education influencers on twitter you will see that there is a huge push to engage all kids, to move away from simple compliance based attitudes that are fostered by punishment based systems, and to make the school environment equitable and accessable for every student.
The idea is apparent in Fauquier school's strategic plan "beliefs": 2.1 -- REVISIONS ACCEPTED.pdf

I would encourage you to read some of Alfie Kohn's writing on kids and schools, especially this:
It is long, put make sure to read at the 1/3 point down.

We know so much about what creates healthy learning environments and what shuts kids down. Students have been expected to be compliant vessels for far too long. The major changes in access to information and the potential uses of technology are forcing schools to make big adjustments in not only the information taught but how we reach and engage each student. We know that many of the punishment approaches used in schools take students away from learning opportunities and shut students down from wanting to be a part of the community, and that these approaches are disproportionately affecting students of color and with disabilities. This is not healthy and the push to change for more equitable schools is long overdue.
I also encourage you to watch one of the Profile of a graduate talks that are somewhere on Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation's FB page. I know that your wife attended the one in Marshall so ask her about the changes in ed that the state wants to see, they relate to bigger changes that will include the way we look at student interactions in order to promote long repressed "soft skills".

School safety is the big issue but the approaches will be over simplified and potentially make the issue worse if they only involve increased presence of authority and oppressive punishments. We must try to create a better sense of connection for students, a more meaningful learning environment that students value, and a stronger bond with the adults in the schools so that when something is off, it will not slide by as easily.
Jim Griffin · June 25, 2018 at 11:15 pm
Interesting data!

Spent some time with it and haven't found schools where this is not true, where discipline is rendered neatly and cleanly proportionate to various ethnic groups. It seems the issue is endemic throughout schools, even nationally. The finest schools, poor schools. Near, far. Culpeper, Loudoun, Fairfax -- even the #1 school in the state (TJ in Alex) has disparities along these lines.

Agreed, it should be continually addressed, but neither should we believe these reports will ever divide proportionally into population groups. The sample size is too small for such perfect distribution under any circumstances, and the same disparities are reflected in other outcomes.

What criticism I have heard relates to the opposite POV, that our schools are not harsh enough in addressing school misconduct, so your comments catch my eye.

Our school administrators earn my trust as a parent through the good work I see, but if there is any tendency to raise concern it is a rather lenient arc as regards students acting out in potentially dangerous ways. If bad statistics result, I can live with them so long as the decisions themselves appear fair and rational; They do to my eye, and statistically they match with schools generally, especially in this region.
sshrader · June 25, 2018 at 10:45 am
Action items: Examine the racial disparities in suspensions, expulsions, refereed to law within Fauquier County Schools
Fauquier schools had an 8.2% Black population in the most recent discipline report made available but 20% of the in school suspensions were of black students, 21% of the OSS, 25% of the expulsions, and 23.7% of the referrals to law were of black students. Students with disabilities also have higher suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law.
What is the Fauquier County school board and school administration doing to address the potentially discriminatory school discipline policies that are allowing these disparities?
I see that the potential revisions to the Student Code of Conduct are the bare minimum to comply with the reform bills that were just passed. The bills were passed with the expectation that school districts would look deeper at the over use and harm of harsh punishments within the schools, especially the effects that they have on people of color. I expect more from our schools, especially since many administrators are speaking about the need for equity, access, and the need to "remove barriers". Fauquier county schools must go beyond talk to honestly and openly address and change the old ways of doing things that oppress and prevent equity. Our schools must be more proactive in doing what we know is right, changing to create an environment that is focused on every student's success.
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