Board's decision a message to students

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If ever there were proof of the value of an elected board of education to oversee local education bureaucrats, the Franklin County Board of Education provided it this week.

Long under pressure from system administrators to limit sharply the number of independent study courses high school students can take and receive credit for, the county board finally said simply no.

I believe we should abolish any policy that limits the number of independent studies, board member Pat Fannin said Monday.

Currently, there are no limits, but the original policy proposal by Maurice Chappell, director of curriculum and instruction for middle and secondary students, would have set a limit of two independent study courses per student for four years of high school. That was raised to three courses, but the board balked.

Board member Doug Crowe backed by the board amended the policy to remove any limits, but also to require approval by Chappell and the schools principal.

That, of course, assures that students will not abuse the system by taking inappropriate or frivolous courses and that course instruction is by willing and qualified teachers.

Currently, only about 24 county high school students are taking independent study courses.

By refusing to limit independent studies, the school board is sending a message to high school students that they are encouraged to move beyond standard classroom studies, to expand their academic horizons and build upon the basic curriculum available to all students.

Ordinarily, that would be a message expected from the professional educators in the systems Central Office. Instead, in Franklin County, it came from the elected school board.

We have had disagreements with the county board in the past, and very well may have more in the future.

But on the subject of limiting students independent study, the board did exactly what the people elected it to do: Act in the best interests of the children of Franklin County.

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