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Teachers blame e-curriculum for school crisis

May 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A financially strapped Hawthorne charter school received the devastating news that half the teaching staff is being let go, and the teachers blame the online curriculum.The Academy for Recording Arts in Hawthorne is a school in crisis, and even its own administrators admit it. The school just laid off half of its teachers.

"They did not hire substitutes so if I'm not there, the classes don't happen," said Dan Schlick, one of the terminated teachers. Schlick is working with no paycheck at a school that just lost its charter.

The Hawthorne school board gave the school a failing grade saying its education program was unsound.

In a student body of more than 300 students, only a single senior got a passing score in math and English in the exit exam.

Schlick blames a computer-based curriculum that requires the students to learn all the required subjects online with no classroom instruction.

"When I do my online, it is not necessarily hard, but it is boring," said 11th grade student Julian Cohee. "You have to make learning fun."

Tenth grader Steven Baird said that the bond of teacher and student interaction is lacking in online learning.

"You create a bond. You and your teacher, if you have that certain specialty, they help you out, you help them out, and you both get satisfaction," said Baird.

Students became so bored that they stopped coming to school. So, teachers rebelled.

"We said no, we're not shutting it down. We're teaching. We're teachers and we're here to teach, and that's what we're going to do," said Schlick.

Teachers believe they were fired because the online company, Advanced Academics of Oklahoma City, failed to come up with promised funding and because the teachers departed from the online guidelines.

Advanced Academics tells Eyewitness News that it has more than fulfilled its financial obligations and has provided more than $400,000 for operations and $200,000 for equipment.

This has been a school of last resort for many students. Known by some as, 'the hip hop school,' it offers a recording studio which has excited them to learn.

Advanced Academics says the layoffs and other operational decisions are in the hands of the schools' independent board. Those board members did not return calls made by Eyewitness News.

Many students are left to wonder where they will go when their academy shuts down.


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