Harvest Heritage

Cove-Garden Ruritan Club and Vintage Virginia Apples host an Apple Harvest Festival featuring the diverse bounty of the apple crop and the heritage of apple-growing in Southern Albemarle County. This event includes displays of crafts and skills of yesteryear, apples for tasting and purchase, old-fashioned apple butter cooking over a slow fire, cider pressing, hayrides over the nearby ridge, and instruction on growing your own fruit. Rural Ridge Farm, North Garden, 8 miles south of Interstate 64 on Route 29 South. 297-2326.


I've seen comments from Don Vale in several newspapers in which he implies the recommendations he has submitted to the superintendent are endorsed by everyone on his committee. The truth is that parents and teachers on the committee are dead set against the changes, but he never mentions that. This is all about dumbing down so that educational bureaucrats can feel good about themselves. It has nothing to do with educational excellence. The only way to stop this nonsense is for parents and teachers to make their views known to the School Board because Vale and Moran are ignoring parents and teachers. The most alarming point about all of this is that it won't impact current high school students (they will be grandfathered into the current system)- the changes will impact those now in middle school and many middle school parents are unaware of what's going on.

I wondered why the re-vamping of the Program of Studies was listed under the School division goal of "Eliminate the Acheivement Gap". It didn't mention there that the means was to lower the level of instruction, which is what this is, despite protests to the contrary.
No surprise teachers and parents were against this.

In the Portland Maine school system we are going through a similar state of flux. Our school board has abandoned the old policy adopted in 1984 with a Weighted GPA and class rank for something still to be developed. Many parents and students had very similar comments as your school. In fact the resemblance is a little spooky. We have started a web site to post articles/studies both pro and con. I would like to share resources/ideas with someone in your system that also may be trying to sort this out in an objective way. Bill Weber (parent of Portland high school student)

William Weber, Could you give us the link to your website?

It is clear that the Superintendant's office will simply propose this system at another time and place. When questioned as to whether the parent views counted, we were assured they were important. However, over and over Mr. Vale stated the proposals would only proceed based on their research and their view of "best practice" for the classroom. In other words, parents, teachers and students views do not count. And sadly, nothing in the presentation made anyone in the audience believe the Superintendant's office knew better when discussing this matter.

Thanks to many parents who spoke up at the meetings, the momentum on several of these proposals has diminished considerably. Keep it up!

What does it say when parents AND teachers widely oppose the Program of Studies changes? What does it mean when information("research") is being still being identified at the end of this process? Should a community be satisfied with the explanation that these changes bring ACPS into alignment with "best practices" of other school divisions with no supporting evidence that those divisions have had sustained success closing the achievement gap?

I am a parent of three Albemarle County School System students and an educator with 29 years of experience. I agree with the proposals of the committee.

The proposed changes should have no effect on the achievements of the gifted and highly-motivated students; why would these high-achieving young people change their behavior in response to this? Rather, the changes will motivate and assist the struggling students who are challenged in many different ways: some by language, some by incredibly hard home and family situations, and some simply by being gifted artists, musicians, craftsmen, etc. who don't fit into the artificial "academic" measure of success we have created in the American school system.

As for requiring students to complete previously failed or incomplete work, those who oppose this may have forgotten that our goal as educators is for students to learn. The idea is not new and is based on sound educational philosophy, including mastery learning (Bloom & Block) and Glasser's choice theory as applied in schools like Albemarle County's own successful Murray High.

I have a message for parents of honor students: your hard-working (and lucky) children will continue to excel. Please don't deny students who are different from them the opportunity to succeed in school.

I agree with the sentiments expressed by "a different opinion." I have a high achieving child at W.A.H.S. and a gifted artist child at W.A.H.S. My high-achiever is very happy there. My gifted artist is not.

Do the above discussed changes include the watering down of academic levels as was discussed several weeks ago? If so, my artistic child was put in an academic class that combined students of his ability and students who needed more instruction; he was bored and craved more of a challenge.