A response to struggling students in Duluth: more learning

If you want to hear high school students wail, tell them they’ll have to take 30 minutes every Friday to read something.

The Duluth News Tribune reports on the reception East High School principal Laurie Knapp got at a student assembly yesterday when she announced the district has added 30 minutes to the academic day.

The 30 minutes a day would give students time to do school work, get help where it’s needed and develop a relationship with a teacher they’d stay with for that period for the remainder of their high school career, in an advisory class, she told them.

“Your job here is to learn and our job is to teach you,” Knapp said.

Students at East and Denfeld experienced last-minute schedule shuffles following a vote by the Duluth Federation of Teachers late last week to approve the contract change that allows what’s being called the “WIN” period. It stands for “what I need,” and is a pilot program broadly intended to improve student performance and help students do well in school.

Only about half the juniors at East are proficient in math. At cross-town Denfield, that number drops to just 27 percent.

The answer seems obvious now: Spend more time learning.

The schedule at East, for example, has been set up to give 30 minutes of newly state-mandated college and career preparation on Mondays in a student’s regular advisory period, with Tuesday through Thursday offering 30 minutes a day for students to head to a teacher who can help them with something specific, like chemistry or algebra II. It might be for two days or two weeks, Knapp said, because it’s meant to work as a time for the student to catch up.

The paper says the principal encountered “a tough crowd” when she explained the new academic emphasis.

  • Jack

    Students need to value their education more when they have a chance to learn. The sad reality is that too many are coming out of high school unprepared for the leaner workforce that exists in this day and age.

    I was a teacher in a third world country and the students respected us, always wanting to learn more. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t survive as a teacher in America. I praise those who are teachers here for putting in their best in an environment that is not always conducive or an audience that is not always receptive to learning.