(Copyright 1997. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

March 10, 1997

Students skeptical of block scheduling

Tattoo Staff Writer
  Many students aren’t happy about the Board of
Education’s plan to bring block scheduling to
city high schools next year.
  "I think that block scheduling is another
attempt at bettering the school system at our
expense,” said sophomore Dawn Duprey of Bristol
Central High School.
  The plan, which would nearly double class
lengths, aims to prepare students for college
and make it easier for teachers to delve deeper
into their subjects.
  But students are worried about how teachers
can keep classes interested for 84 minutes, when
students are off in space after today’s 45-
minute periods.
  "It's a stupid idea and I'd probably fall
asleep in every in class," said Central
sophomore Julie Forcier.
  Under the school board’s plan,  the school day
will remain the same length, but with only four
periods. Because there will be eight classes in
all, students will have different schedules on
alternating days.
  Students currently have seven classes. Adding
another period will gradually increase
graduation requirements.
  The scheme has some supporters.
  Bordering on optimism, Central sophomore Nikki
Tobacco said, "It's a good step toward college.”
But, she added, “it's a bit too early."
  Some students who are in block scheduling this
year at Bristol Eastern High School seem to
favor the concept as well.
  Chris Ashborn, an Eastern sophomore who is on
the block scheduling team, said he “thinks it’s
great.  I enjoy it.  Teachers have more time to
explain things.”
  Ashborn said there is more time to do homework
with the extended periods and alternating days. 
  One group that’s not talking is teachers. 
None would comment on the record on the
situation, resulting from a virtual gag order
placed by the Board of Education. Frequent
attempts to get reaction on the record failed.
  But one teacher wrote on a chalkboard for his
class a hierarchy of decision-making in the
Bristol school system. Teachers were at the
bottom, with janitors and bathroom monitors
above them.
  Block scheduling is being tested and enforced
in schools around the state, including in a team
at Eastern.  The results are generally
  Despite pleas from parents, students and
teachers, the school board recently voted 9-0 to
impose the schedule starting in the fall. 
  A subsequent compromise for next year, which
would have had only one blocked period a day,
was struck down.
  Whether the results of full-blown block
scheduling will quiet critics won’t be clear for
years. In the meantime, questions and criticism
will linger.