BY ALYSSA FISHER
Clad in red, Cooper City High School students and staff rallied to keep block scheduling along Stirling Road on Wednesday April 21, 2011.
Due to proposed budget cuts by Governor Rick Scott, the Broward County School board is leaning toward switching out the 4×4 block scheduling for the traditional schedule of seven 45-minute classes daily. The students of CCHS are currently enrolled in the 4×4 block schedule; where they take four 90-minute classes in the first semester of the year and then either continue a yearlong course or take four new classes the last semester. In an effort to reduce the budget, the Broward County school board proposed a seven-period day schedule, in which students would have seven 45-minute classes every day for the whole year. Because the students would be taking one less class, this would reduce the number of teachers, and would ultimately save about $38.6 million. The school board is pushing the seven period schedule as a condition for settling the ongoing teacher contract dispute.
Angered by the news, Spanish and French teacher Cynthia Turni worked on gathering fellow staff and students for over a week to come together for a rally to catch the school board’s attention and alert parents of the situation.
“I’m out here for two reasons,” Turni said during the rally. “One, I’m here on behalf of the students; block scheduling provides more classes, electives and credit opportunities. I’m also here to save teachers’ jobs. 10-14 jobs will be lost, and those people have the right to feed their family and pay their mortgage.”
The event attracted much attention; there were numerous teachers and students chanting into megaphones, pressing loud clickers and waving various signs in the air with sayings ranging from “Invest in the Future”, “Block Rocks”, “Don’t be a Blockhead” and “Oust the Governor”. Even various news stations were there to cover the rally.
During the rally, Pat Santeramo, President of the Broward Teachers Union, showed his passion for the cause by leading the cheering with his megaphone.
“We believe every school has the right to make their own decisions and not be controlled by the Superintendent,” Santeramo said.
The staff all had similar attitudes, but their main concern was for the quality of learning block scheduling provides. In their eyes, meeting with the students 18 consecutive weeks and for 90 minutes a day provides students with an advantage over a 45-minute class period.
“As a math teacher, I can honestly say that block scheduling is a good thing,” Algebra teacher Bonnie Salmon said. “It reinforces learning. I’m also a better teacher in a block schedule; I can remain fresh. I like to develop concepts and go in depth, but with six classes, it becomes more about note-taking than developing the concepts.”
Salmon and many of the other teachers agree that another important aspect of block scheduling is the ability to double up in classes, meaning that you can take two different levels of a class in one year to get ahead.
“[Doubling up] is a way for many students to get into college,” Salmon said. “But it also helps kids that need the extra help. Taking algebra 1A and then 1B in one year really made a difference for some students.”
In addition to the staff, the students were among the most vocal during the rally; they couldn’t imagine having any other schedule.
“Next year I’m taking a lot of AP classes, and I don’t think I can handle all of them at the same time, especially with all of my extra-curriculars,” sophomore Lindsay Lovins said.
As members of CCHS came together, it is clear that they are willing to fight for what they feel is right for their staff, students and school.
“We want to stand together and unite,” geometry teacher Randi Glantz said. “We want to stick with block scheduling. It’s what’s best for the kids and what’s best for a quality education. It’s not only about what’s cost effective.”