Students and Teachers React to Proposed Tutoring Policy Changes

By Alana Farkas
Imagine you are a student who needs some extra help with schoolwork. You call up a teacher you are familiar with from school, and he or she helps you. Imagine now that a new policy was put into action that forbade you from hiring a personal tutor from your own school. How would you feel?
Now imagine that you are a student who can’t afford a tutor. You and your friend have the same teacher, whom your friend once had as a tutor. You feel that the teacher is favoring your friend. How would you feel about a new policy that forbade your friend from having a private tutor?
These are the two conflicting viewpoints that students and teachers have concerning an emerging tutoring policy that may be implemented in the Great Neck Public Schools.
The Board of Education introduced a new tutoring policy at the meeting held on October 15. The new policy stated: “Except under extraordinary circumstances requiring the prior approval of the Superintendent, no teacher may offer private tutoring to a student in his/her own building.”
The Board of Education argued that a change in the policy is necessary for a number of reasons. They argued that some students may not be able to afford a private tutor and therefore may be at a disadvantage compared to those who can afford tutoring. Another major concern is the possibility of favoritism of teachers towards their tutoring clients if those students ever ended up in their future classes.
Principal of Baker Elementary school Ms. Sharon Fougner said, “I do not believe that a child should be ‘tutored’ by teachers from his/her own school – and maybe not even the district. The advantages that ‘inside’ tutoring provide a child are in conflict with our mission as public educators and our responsibility to seek equity for our students. In addition, our teachers can be unintentionally placed in uncomfortable and difficult situations by both parents and colleagues, sometimes compromising sensitive or even confidential information.”
Others, however, feel that in order for tutoring to be most effective, the teacher should be from the same school as the student because course requirements and teaching methods vary among different schools. For example, South Middle and North Middle teach science courses in a different order to prepare students for the high school science curriculum—freshmen at North learn earth science, while freshmen at South learn biology., Ms. Jackie Hoey from South Middle said, “ How will a tutor from North know what to teach a student from South when they don’t know what the sequence of the course is?”
North sophomore Liza Sakhaie argued that it is important for students to be able to get help from teachers they are familiar with. She said, “even though kids can still get tutors from other schools, having a tutor from within your own school gives you an advantage because your teacher and tutor will have similar methods.”
South senior Jamie Klebanow said, “From my perspective as a student who has had a tutor in the past, I feel very strongly that the policy is suitable just the way it is. If it were to be changed, it would create unnecessary problems. Having the policy as what it is now, allowing students to be tutored by teachers in their school, is helpful to both the students and faculty, and I believe that no favoritism is involved.”
The Board will vote on the policy at the Dec. 3 meeting.