Idaho Challenge Books Discussed at Nampa School Board Meeting

Idaho Challenge Books Discussed At Nampa School Board Meeting

After the board voted to remove 22 books from its school libraries last month, the books were collected, inventoried and held in the district’s warehouse.

NAMPA, Idaho – This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

The Nampa School Board discussed a variety of topics at its regular Thursday night meeting, including the contract for the interim vice superintendent, standards-based grading and the challenge book disposal process.

The meeting included two parts of the public hearing, one to discuss the district’s budget for the upcoming school year and one for the proposed food service program increases. However, no participants signed up for public comment on any of the items, and the board did not discuss the items further.

Below are some of the highlights of the meeting.

APPROVED CONTRACT FOR PROVISIONAL ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT

The board approved the contract for Waylon Yarbrough, the principal of Nampa High School, to become the acting deputy superintendent for the upcoming school year.

Yarbrough would return as the principal of Nampa High School after his year as acting deputy superintendent.

“Sir. Yarbrough is an excellent educator,” said Acting Superintendent Gregg Russell. “There have been a lot of changes in the district, and I’m very proud of all the people who have moved to different places, and Mr. Yarbrough is a great example of that. “

Under the approved contract, Yarbrough will earn 129,709 for the next fiscal year – July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

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STANDARDS-BASED RATING PRACTICES: HELPFUL OR HARMFUL?

The council also discussed the standards-based classification practice in the district. According to the district’s website, standards-based grading differs from traditional grading because, rather than averaging a student’s scores over term, a standards-based grading system “measures a student’s mastery of content standards by evaluating its most recent and consistent level of performance. . ”

All schools in the district are using the system, which was implemented in elementary schools in 2014, and in elementary and high schools during the 2019-2020 school year, according to the district’s website.

But while the standards are intended to create a more accurate portrayal of student performance, some students and parents in the district have expressed confusion about them.

Administrator Tracey Pearson said there have been instances where students who have consistently put in effort over the period are earning the same “number” as “students who are not trying as hard.” This affects students’ morale and motivation and causes stress for parents, she said.

Pearson read an email from a student who was frustrated with the system and wanted the traditional grade for senior year.

Administrator Marco Valle echoed Pearson’s ideas, saying in his meetings with staff, faculty and students, there is a lack of understanding about how the system should work. He estimated that 99% of the people he heard from did not approve of the system.

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Administrator Mandy Simpson questioned the 99% figure, saying that all administrators need access to the same information as district patrons, and administrators should share information they hear from their patrons with each other, including people’s names and position on a . theme.

“When we’re trying to make big decisions, it’s very difficult, but it’s very difficult when we don’t know the details and we don’t have specific numbers,” Simpson said.

The board unanimously voted to have a meeting where the superintendent can provide more information and allow public opinion as quickly as possible.

CHALLENGES BOOKS TO KEEP IN STORAGE

After the board voted to remove 22 books from its school libraries last month, the books were collected, inventoried and held in the district’s warehouse, Russell said. But the district needs a plan on what to do with the books as the board and district solidify a process for evaluating those books, said President Jeff Kirkman.

During public comments, Nampa Banned Books Fan Club President Lance McGrath asked the board to reverse its decision and return the books to school libraries and classrooms. McGrath’s group hosted two readings on the school district’s lawn, one on Monday and one before the Thursday night meeting, as previously reported.

RELATED: Records: Just a Challenge Made Against Nampa’s Schoolbooks Before Board Ban

Shelby Dewsnup, a math teacher at Nampa High School and a counselor teacher for the Gender and Sexuality Alliance student group at the school, also spoke about the ban.. Dewsnup said that while LGBTQ+ students in that group emphasized the need to create a safe space at school for people of varying sexual and gender identities, many were subjected to harassment at school. The vote to remove books that reflect the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth also had a negative effect on students, she said.

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“All our students deserve security and representation; You are not providing that,” Dewsnup said. “You can start doing better, first by not discarding these books, go through a process, learn what you can, and then… reverse your book ban.” His comment was met with applause.

Administrator Brook Taylor made a motion to keep the books on file and have them go through the contested book process once it is approved by the board. The motion also included allowing individual trustees to request a copy of the books for review.

Valle, who made the original motion to remove the books, voted against it, saying he was “surprised” that board members did not do the due diligence to evaluate the books before voting to remove them.

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more at IdahoPress.com.

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