Parents Concerned About Jack London Teacher

By Amy Claire

At the October 12 meeting of the Antioch School Board, two concerned parents raised separate concerns about their children’s first grade teacher at Jack London Elementary School. The teacher, Mrs. Riley, worries both parents with her “closed-door” policy that prevents parents from visiting and observing the class.

One mother stated that her daughter came home from school one day and asked if she was stupid, because Riley had compared the students to her own son. Another parent was alarmed when her child was allowed to sit outside the room, unattended, for the last thirty minutes of school when he didn’t want to talk to Riley about having an accident. Both parents requested that the board address these issues and look into the policies governing the classroom.

Another attendee at the meeting, Willie Mims, agreed that the parents’ worries should be addressed. He also brought up his own concerns about the district, including the high dropout rate among African-American students and the racial diversity imbalance between student populations and teacher populations. He also commented on the need to let parents know about the existence of 504 plans for their children, and on a board resolution regarding staffing, though the board’s response seemed to address the issue to his satisfaction.

The board also listened to presentations from teachers regarding two new linked learning pathways at Antioch High School. These specialized programs within the larger school allow students to focus their education, and have led to increased graduation rates. Rick Barton presented information about the Environmental Science Academy, which will focus on issues such as climate change and allow students to work on long-term, multi-year projects. He championed applied science as a way to help students see the relevance of what they learn.

Sean O’Neil described the school’s new Media and Technology Academy as another step toward relevance. As the business world becomes increasingly digital, the academy will provide “a place to demonstrate learning through twenty-first century means.” Students will also have the opportunity to earn industry certifications, which can help them find jobs. The academies are expected to give students a sense of purpose and excitement in school, while simultaneously jump-starting them in their fields of interest.

The next school board meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 26 at 510 G Street, Antioch at 7:00 pm.

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