Parents don’t see school videos as pearls of wisdom

HUDSON–Watching TV in school, adults meeting children at bus stops and reflectors for crosswalks highlighted the Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting Thursday, January 29, a session rescheduled from January 26.

Reducing the number of times that students watch videos “would be okay,” Rachel O’Connor of Hudson told the board last week. She expressed concern about both the amount of school time children spend watching video on television screens and the content of the programs the schools shows them. Ms. O’Connor said her two children—one in kindergarten, one now in second grade—used to “have trouble” when their class watched a video program and they wanted to leave the room, but she said that “peer pressure inhibited” them from doing so.

Now, however, Ms. O’Connor’s second grader is so used to school videos that at recess time he’ll say he’s lost his gloves in order to stay inside and watch them. “I’d like him to go outside more,” she said, noting that children “need exercise.”

Superintendent Maria Suttmeier suggested that Ms. O’Connor call the school and send the teacher notes saying she wants her children to spend recess outside.

Meanwhile, the board and Ms. Suttmeier discussed clarifying and codifying a policy for watching TV and video in school. One provision under consideration would allow children to opt out of video watching, discretely, at least for shows over 20 minutes long. But Ms. Suttmeier said that in the intermediate school, the reward for students who achieve an academic goal is to spend recess inside watching a video program.

“Is there some other reward?” asked board member Sage Marie Carter.

Superintendent Suttmeier brought up the case of a movie based on a book the class was reading and a student so enthusiastic about the book that he or she wants to watch the movie “to compare it to the book.” She suggested the student and the teacher could watch it together at recess time and discuss it.

“That’s face-to-face instruction,” said board member Maria McLaughlin. “That’s permissible.”

Regarding the contents of videos, Julia Wilson said that when she took her child to see “Toy Story 3″ at a movie theater, the child was “so scared, we had to walk out of the theater.” Yet then they showed that movie in the child’s kindergarten. Parents also questioned the appropriateness of showing PG and PG-13 films in school.

“In my opinion,” they should not show “any commercial movie” in school, said Mike Januseski. “I think there are things going on in commercial movies that shouldn’t be in school.” He added that there is no shortage of programs about history and nature “that are more educational based.”

On another topic board member Tiffany Hamilton told of a bus driver not recognizing the adult waiting for her daughter at her bus stop one afternoon, not letting the girl get off the bus, and ultimately taking the child back to school. The adult at the bus stop was on the approved list but was not the one who usually picked up Hamilton’s daughter.

“This is a real problem,” Ms. Suttmeier agreed. “Do we need an approval list with photographs?”

Ms. McLaughlin suggested that if someone unknown to the bus driver comes for the child, the bus driver should ask the child who the person is.

But “what if it’s a parent who doesn’t have custodial rights?” asked Ms. Suttmeier.

Ms. Hamilton also called attention to the need to get cross-walks for all schools “monitored or made safer.”

Board Member Carrie Otty suggested older children monitor them. Ms. Hamilton suggested parents or community members volunteer to do so. Ms. Hamilton also suggested putting reflectors on some cross-walks, as Los Angeles does. There, she said, those who drive across crosswalks whose reflectors are “on” are fined.

Also concerning traffic dangers, Ms. Wilson advocated completing the sidewalk along the west side of Harry Howard Avenue and the center of Hudson.

In other business last week:

  • Ms. Suttmeier previewed next year’s budget, saying that recently district officials were encouraged to develop “a wish list.” But subsequently the district has heard there will be a state aid freeze, with officials advised to plan as if state funding will remain the same as the current year
  • Student Representative Atia Begh said that most of her fellow seniors planned to go into a medical field
  • Ms. Suttmeier and Berkshire Union Free School District Superintendent Bruce Potter plan to visit a college-in-high school program in Queens to determine how the Bridge Academy could develop something like it so that students graduate with both a Regents diploma and an associate’s degree
  • Hudson students Will Sill and Khadija Khan had poems published in a poetry anthology. Student Noor Ain won the E-School Data Art Contest, while her twin, Quarat, received honorable mention.

The next Hudson school board meeting will be Monday, February 9 at the Junior High School library beginning with a curriculum workshop at 6 p.m. followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m.

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