Two pieces of positive TUSD news

by David Safier

Rhonda Bodfield, who does wonderful work covering the local education scene for the Star even if I criticize her on occasion, has two positive stories out of TUSD today.

Borton Primary Magnet School has a thriving gardening program that gets kids down in the dirt, and has them eating and selling vegetables. The enterprise, which is valuable in itself, is incorporated into their other learning.

Students improve literacy by writing factoids about each plant — carrots, for example, apparently come in seven colors. The project also helps teach math, with students adding purchases, making change, weighing vegetables and charting growth.

There are a million lessons to be taught. They're learning that just because eggs are blue or brown doesn't mean they're rotten; that the tall leaves are clues to unearthing carrots with a little heft; and how to harvest broccoli — which, if you've ever seen it grow, is a legitimate question.

Teacher Molly Reed is going on the Rachel Ray show because of her classroom gardening. Yes, it's that important. (Rachel Ray puts me off my feed whenever I see her, but I won't hold that against the little gardeners or their teachers. It's terrific stuff.)

In another story, TUSD has more demand for its traditional education programs than it has space, so it's looking to expand the programs to allow more students to participate. The program "favors a teacher-driven instructional model and a strict bell-to-bell focus on academics."

I don't think "traditional education" is better or worse than lots of other approaches, but if parents want it, they should be able to enroll their children. If I'm right, the program demands that parents get involved in their children's education, which tends to increase student achievement. Glad to hear TUSD is trying to be responsive, especially when it gets parents to pay more attention to what their kids are doing in school.

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