Sunday, November 23, 2008

O’Malley Leads, BOE Follows

“Goals – by the end of the 08-09 school year, 10% of the partial proficient students will achieve proficiency on the state assessments while maintaining our advanced proficient student percentages.”
- - - Matawan-Aberdeen BOE Special Board Meeting to discuss goals and objectives, June 12, 2008

Last Monday’s school board meeting marked many firsts for our district. The board, in the face of strong opposition from the school unions, supported the superintendent’s recommendation to remove from office a high-ranking, 30-year veteran. Then there was the district’s first frank assessment of student test scores with sufficient detail and background information to allow the community to evaluate the data. Lastly, we got our first acknowledgment that many of the online degree programs, so popular with our staff, are not the equivalent of traditional degrees from well-regarded universities. What do I call this? A great start!

To understand the power of the teachers union, consider this little factoid – from 1996-2005, exactly 47 tenured teachers (from over 100,000) were fired from their public schools. A tenured New Jersey teacher is more likely to die this year than be fired. Our local union, the Matawan Regional Teachers Association, is reputed to recruit the board member’s child’s teachers for picketing in front of the board member’s house. That the BOE voted 8-1 to terminate Ms. Rappaport’s position of Supervisor of Special Services is simply remarkable. (That her sterling performance reviews make no mention of a long history of parental complaints sadly is not.)

As for the student assessment scores, the faculty presentation marked the first time in history that our school district has publicized the fact that proficiency only means a score of 50% and that advanced proficiency only requires 75% (Slides 7, 66). Put simply, advanced proficiency is not “outstanding”.

The next sacred cow to be skewered was the school board’s vaunted goal of getting more students across the 50-yard line (proficiency) but not pushing beyond that (see above). The administration, however, took their cues from Dr. O’Malley and stressed the district’s need to improve performance at all levels – more students achieving advanced proficiency, higher SAT and AP (Advanced Placement) scores, and more AP enrollment. In fact, in sharp contrast to the board’s goal, the administration regarded any advanced proficiency rate below our District Factor Group (DFG) as an “area of concern”. Either the school board was too oblivious to notice or too ashamed to comment but nobody mentioned the discrepancy.

Our final break with the past was marked by Deputy Superintendent Glastein who acknowledged that degrees from online schools such as Walden and Marygrove were not equal to degrees from schools such as Rutgers and Seton Hall. Rather, the granting of equal pay raises to those degree recipients was “purely contractual”. At a prior board meeting, BOE President Demarest stated that the board did not distinguish between institutes of higher learning so long as they had regional accreditation. Once again, the administration has chosen to ignore such nonsense.

Although this signals a brighter future, we mustn’t forget the troubles we have today. SAT scores are below the state average (Slides 77-80). A third of our seniors failed a HSPA exam last year (Slides 71, 75). We have 6 AP courses that have fewer than five students taking the AP exams. Not a single student took AP Chemistry or AP Computer Science(Slide 63).

Even though 18% more students took 30% more AP exams in 2008 than 2007, the total number of 4 and 5 scores actually dropped to 89(Slide 64). (Though 3 is technically passing, many universities do not grant full credit to AP scores below 4.) The number of 4 and 5 AP scores was so low that, had my senior AP scores been added to the total, I would have personally accounted for over 4% of the total 4 and 5 AP scores for the entire district.

In short, we’ve got lots of work ahead of us but we’re definitely moving in the right direction. As for the three board members who took public stances against Dr. O’Malley’s appointment, I’m still waiting to hear an admission of error.
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40 comments:

Oh Please! said...

Regarding the AP results:

A 1000 years ago - when I took the AP American History course and exam - it was REQUIRED by my school district that participation in the course meant ponying up the moola & the taking of the exam.

This is "back in the day". AP credits were not widely recognized, nor were they widely accepted.

Tough noogies. You took the course, you take the exam. Your GPA (back then) NEVER reflected that it was a harder course to pass,therefore getting a "C" was a 2.0 on your record. With today's "grade inflation",what is that "C" worth now?

This is something parents need to consider before they enroll their kids in these courses. This reflects on the district & people better start caring about that.

Having 30 kids in a AP course? I've haerd of that happening in past years; I certainly hope that is not happening now. Smaller classes mean better delivery & understanding of materials; this has tons of reseach behind it.

Again, harkening "back to the day" there were 10 of us that took the course; all of us took the test - none of us got less than a 3.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Oh Please! cares more about how the district is "PERCEIVED" rather than the students ACTUALLY BEING TAUGHT more difficult and challenging work.

I prefer to have my child benefit by the KNOWLEDGE gained from an AP course. I'm not counting every tenth of a point of my child's GPA.
I think children would benefit much more by the QUALITY of the material being taught and the lesson of hard work to achieve it. But then again, my children will know they can take pride in their accomplishments, since they ARE the ones that truely achieve them.

Too bad some on the school board still feel they have to lower standards for the children to feel good about themselves. To me, that is just insulting a child's intellegence.

Thank goodness Dr. O'Malley is starting to move the district forward. I hope he continues to raise the standards for all children at all levels. That is what all of our children deserve.

Anonymous said...

One more thing I should have mentioned above, An "A" in an AP class is worth a 4.9 on your GPA, an "A" in an Honors class is worth a 4.5 and an "A" in a Regular class is worth a 4. So yes, the difficulty of the class is acknowledged.

O'Malley/Obama 08 said...

Well thank God for Dr. O'Malley I hope we can praise him when he gets us out of this economic depression as well. Clearly Quinn took the economy down when he left the district, I hope now that Obama/Biden/O'Malley can get us out.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Quinn took it with him with his overprice football field and hand shake deals. No doubt his questionable ethics tumbled the whole economy. *eye roll*

You can mock the O'Malley cheer section, but he's on a path towards making this district better than it's been in years.

Anonymous said...

What does this say about the evaluation system the school district uses to access administrator and teacher performances. How come those people are not being held accoutable for sterling performance reviews when this was clearly not the case. I am all for getting rid of people not performing but suspect of who they are being replaced with. That same person who can't evaluate is doing the hiring amd evaluating the new people.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Quinn's secret deals with Norman's C.M.E.

Yes there is that name again.

Anonymous said...

I just finished watching the school board meeting televised on ch 15. It is clear to me that Cathy Zavorkas is determined to keep this district in the past. Everyone on the board and parents alike seem to want to keep up the momentum of moving the district forward, and she is going on about 2006 and past administration. What is she thinking?

And who was this lawyer,Campbell? He sounded like he was reading fed material, but it all sounded fabricated.

J Section Ken said...

Aberdeener,

Let me set the record straight on the picketing. It is not reputed to have happened. It did happen.

This year while contract negotiations were ongoing, teachers picketed my house during dinner time. I could not identify most of them because they were holding signs close to their faces.
My wife, children and one of my son's friends were home when the picketing started.

I had to explain to my children what was going on and that they had a right to do it. I told them I served my country for six years so they could have this right. I also said that brave men and women were serving in hostile nations to maintain our rights every day.

That being said, because it is their right, does not make it the right thing to do. I was serving on the school board and involved in the contract negotiations, so I had no problem with the union protesting me. What bothered me was after seeing all the signs they had claiming how much they cared about all of our children, it did not take much for them to upset my wife and throw my two children under the bus.

What exactly did my 9 year old daughter and 12 year old son do? What did my wife do, except work on PTO fundraisers to put supplies in the classrooms of the very same teachers who picketed my residence.

If they had any decency they would reject these tactics of intimidation against the spouses and children of board members, but I am not going to hold my breath.

J Section Ken

Anonymous said...

The picketing is a despicable bully tactic and they will continue to do it because it worked in their favor. Right after that a horrible contract for the taxpayers was agreed upon especially in the benefits area. The economy has hurt a lot of people who are paying for that contract now.

Anonymous said...

I say that we find out where these lovely teachers live and picket outside their homes when we get another round of poor results on state testing or the SATs. How classless and if they aren't bright enough to be ashamed of their actions, then they are no better than a group of baboons. I would have sat outside, in a lawn chair, and videotaped their shameful behavior. I'd identify each and everyone by name and post it on youtube for the world to see. How despicable and Ken, you and your family, deserved better. The thought of money turns college educated individuals into thoughtless pigs!

Anonymous said...

Where is the great breakthrough on paying more for online diploma mill degrees. Because they admit a difference in degrees does not change the fact the payroll goes up no matter where it is from. The only person concerned is the host (who I agree with) not the board or administration. Maybe a board member or administrator has taken advantage of these diploma mills and does not want to open that can of worms. Nothings changed, acknowledgement or not.

Anonymous said...

The "terrorist" teacher's union tactics are alive and well apparently. I watched that horrifying spectacle they made at the last BOE meeting. How disgusting that the teachers would behave in such a low class way. How dare they stand and cheer for lowlifes like Kelly and that "lawyer"! How can they be proud of cheering while that cockroach came to our school and said those disgusting things about our Superintendent? They should hang their heads in shame!
One has only to look at the embarrassing test scores to see that these people need to stop bullying parents, boe members, taxpayers and go back to school themselves. Perhaps if they would spend less time sticking up for vile people like that Rappaport person and more time concentrating on the job they get paid so richly for...
I know first hand how many of those "seasoned" teachers everyone talks about, not to mention people like Rappaport, flat out don't do anything other than the bare minimum for that fat check. I have worked as an aide in most of the schools and it is the same in all of them. I have heard what those people who work for Rappaport say about the kids and their parents. I have heard teachers say that they aren't going to change how they do things just because some "idiot" at Central office is worried about test scores. Nice, huh?
I just hope that Dr.O'Malley can keep up the great job he's doing. I think it is great all the things he is doing and he has the guts to make tough decisions too. Listen..is that a crack in the union armor I hear? Hope so, about time these people either remember why they became teachers and focus on kids or shut up and find a job somewhere else. Greed is not a very becoming quality to teach kids.

Anonymous said...

AMEN! We need more people like you who have seen and heard first hand how these teachers really talk when they think no one is watching or listening.

Thank you. Maybe a few more will step forward and speak up, (at least on this blog).

Maybe many of them became teachers for the money, and that IS all they care about. Years ago teachers were poorly paid, but not for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I second Amen! I am heartened to see someone who knows the "behind the scenes" truth, speak up. I know there are teachers who really are in a classroom because they love to teach and like to be with kids, but there seems to be too many hangers on that should retire.

I also say BRAVO! to Dr. O'Malley for having the courage of conviction to stand up for kids and moving forward as a district. I also thank the BOE members who are finally supporting his efforts as a unified group.

Anonymous said...

Aberdeener,

I'm curious- does Mr. Glastein think that Dr. Gambino's doctorate is not as valuable as a doctorate from Rutgers since he did most of his work on-line?

Aberdeener said...

I can't speak for Glastein but I believe he was simply agreeing that not all degrees are equal. A degree from Walden is not the same as a degree from Harvard even though we treat them identically.

Personally, I believe we should increase the reimbursements for teachers pursuing advanced education but that salary increases should be based upon merit, not a virtual lambskin.

Maybe then our teachers will use the opportunity to pursue programs that actually benefit our children.

is this america? said...

I came on here and cannot believe what I am reading. I am a retired teacher from up Passaic county while I have lived here a very long time.

Calling the teachers "terrorists". Maybe some of you should go back to school or even GO ONLINE - Right to Assembly is in the Bill of Rights. AND IT IS DONE ALOT OF THE TIME AROUND THE STATE. I am not saying that I would do it, but BOE are elected members and therefore face some of the harsh realities with being an elected official. THEY DEAL WITH YOUR MONEY - all 65 million of it.

PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS - The online course thing is something THE WHOLE STATE deals with. I bet many of you would not be as mad if it didnt mean a raise for the teacher. ALL INSTITUTIONS offer online courses and distance learning. It is freaking 2008!!! Having seen it the "old way", if all of these teachers who got an online degree TRAVELED instead- 1. there would not be as many teachers with MA degrees and that is not good for kids OR 2. You would see them in FEWER after school activities that many of YOUR kids participate in as THESE COURSES WITH TRAVEL take up TIME. Hell if this is the sentiment - none of us should look up recipes, map directions, newspaper articles, pay bills, bank, or watch do it yourself videoes on line since IT IS NOT LIKE THE REAL THING?????? Some of you use your arguments when it is convenient to make YOUR point.

I love how you are ALL in the Doctor's corner. He looks like he means business and good for him and us the tax payers - but mind you he was the one who got here and kind of pushed the teacher contract negotiations toward settlement = TRUTH. So if he is right for all the other stuff, is he not right for that too.

Teachers have things like tenure and contracts for reason - to TAKE THE POLITICS out of teaching. FREE SPEECH - YOu and I all know that if there was no tenure, then everytime a kid did not get a good grade and mommy and daddy went to complain to a trusty BOE member, that teacher is as good as gone. Or how about it they have to make cuts in budget and want to get rid of all people at the top of the guide - is that fair toward your child and education. Did the Aberdeener even find out what some of these teachers actually had to do for these degrees? I am sure our BOE and Rutgers who accepts some of those school's credits are not TOTALLY in the wrong.

People on here are just not being fair. I see how aggravated many of you are at some of the low results. Here is my question and I have seen it here before:

WHY IS THERE NO MORE THAN 1 or 2 people who run for BOE?

WHY ARE THERE Are there so many AVAILABLE seats at BOE meetings? You could sit a person per row during a usual meeting.

THese are my questions as someone who now sees it from both ends of the spectrum. We all have comments, but where are you? Judging by this website if I just moved here, I would think that BOE elections would have 10 candidates and BOE meeting would be PACKED REGULARLY. But fact is, they are not. So where does that leave us?

And BTW - NOT ALL KIDS are made for AP courses. THAT IS WHY YOU GET COLLEGE CREDIT FOR TAKING THE CLASS and scoring well on the test. Dont blame your schools for kids who dont want the extra work when they have no plans to take the test? Check and see how many the HS turns away.

After 35 years I can say this towns problems are summed up in a simple equation = self serving BOE + misused funds + parents who do not take responsibility for their own kids performance + fed up tax payers who think that taxes equal results = MALCONTENT.

It is ashame. But finger pointing and unAmerican comments are not how to solve problems.

is this america said...

And to be fair I will add this to the above:

I am sure there are sub par over paid Central Office workers, lousy administrators, and teachers who are past their prime or never made it to there prime and THAT IS FRUSTRATING to us all as tax payers.

Anonymous said...

The truth of the matter is that we are all responsible for our dismal test scores and what many of us see as our degradation of our society. I would like to offer a challenge- let's stop blamming parents, teachers, board members etc.- let's start offering solutions. I for one am tired of the blame game.

Aberdeener said...

ITA,

You are correct in that there's no constitutional mandate for teachers to act civilly and respectfully before their peers, their students, or their community. They have the freedom to applaud an attorney who calls our superintendent a "misogynist". They have the liberty to picket in front of BOE members' homes during contract negotiations. They have the right to pursue an online degree that nobody in education respects but that entitles them to significant salary increases.

What I dispute is the teachers union's claim that they are doing all these things for the students' benefit.

You appear to suggest that the mere possession of a masters degree somehow benefits the classroom. I dispute that assertion and challenge you to prove that claim in the face of our district's terrible test scores.

You believe tenure is good for the kids. To quote DC Superintendent Michelle Rhee, "Tenure is the holy grail of teacher unions, but it has no educational value for kids; it only benefits adults." The teachers union won't allow the district to fire any teachers, no matter how bad they are, absent a grievous felony. Somehow, private schools, despite their greater budgetary pressures, retain their better teachers without giving tenure to the poorer ones.

As for AP courses, how can you claim our students are being prepared for college when you also maintain many of them are incapable of taking a single AP course? Seems to me, if a student is expected to take ten college courses in his first year of college, he should be able to take one college course during his senior year of high school.

As for attendance at BOE meetings, I am there. I fight for what I believe is best for our community. And I am not alone.

Anonymous said...

I am disheartened to see what the district has become.To make the allegation that teachers care about salary more than kids is not only patently incorrect,but sad.

It is true that the union protects its members. If administrators did their jobs correctly their would not be the acrimony.

I homeschool for a reason said...

ITA:
Since you claim to be a retired teacher with such stong opinions regarding tenure, I find it a necessary evil to point out several mistakes in your first post. Please note that I found 8 grammatical errors, 3 spelling errors, 1 capitalization error and 15 punctuation errors in your first post, alone. I was so disgusted that I didn't bother to read your second post as thoroughly.

Even taking into consideration the fact that SOME of these errors may be due to lack of typing skills, I find it odd that ANY teacher would post a message in support of tenure with all these mistakes.

If indeed you are a teacher, I for one am relieved that you are retired. Unfortunately, there are teachers in our school district who would post error-filled messages (similar to the aforementioned) and deem them to be satisfactory.

While I will not judge all teachers by your post, there is no doubt that your attempt to show that tenure is a "good thing" backfired. I consider your post nothing more than a sad commentary on tenured faculty who are allowed to perpetuate our childrens' inadequacies.

Anonymous said...

ITA,

Although I don't agree with you regarding tenure, I do agree with this part of your statement:
"this towns problems are summed up in a simple equation = self serving BOE + misused funds + parents who do not take responsibility for their own kids performance + fed up tax payers.

Could you blame taxpayers for being fed up? I'm a taxpayer and a parent, I'm fed up. Not only because of the high taxes, that I know is a necessary evil. I know it is my responsibility to educate the children of my town, I wouldn't want to live, or have my children live in a town of poorly educated people; but unfortunately, I feel we do.

I'm more fed up because my children are not getting a quality education. I've been asking for years for my children to be challenged more in school, for the bar to be raised, all I hear are excuses from BOE members as why they won't do it. God forbid you speak of raising standards, you're called an "elitist" by those who defend the status quo.

The biggest part of the problem, as I see it, is self serving BOE and misused funds. Barbato and Zavorkas have been on the BOE for at least 15-20 years each. All they care about are their own kids, not all kids as they always claim at election time. Yes, they are self serving, moving teachers from school to school, as it suits their kids. Never properly overseeing millions of dollars(taxpayers dollars) on school construction etc.

I'd like to know the truth as to why they were the only ones + Demerast that voted against O'Malley.

And yes, there are others on the school board that have also been there for many years, but they don't have children currently in the schools, I prefer them, at least they don't have personal adgendas and can care about all children. The newer elected members, Gambino and Kenny, thankfully they care about raising standards, I like them.

And then there is Ruphret, although new to the board, his wife has been running every PTO for years, and their kids certainly benefited from that. But I'll hold judgement until I see what he brings to the schools.

Yes, the BOE is a major problem.

But then the unions are a major problem also.

I would be in favor of charter schools. I think there are many devoted teachers that do care deeply for the children. Many well educated teachers that are a great asset to our children. These teachers deserve to be paid higher salaries, based on merit. Why should we keep paying teachers who aren't doing their job properly, or as you put it, past their prime or never reached it? I don't think good teachers need to fear for job security. Cooperations don't fire their best and brightest, why would a school district?

i.t.a. said...

Mr. Anonymous,

I am very sorry that my post offended you. I am over 65 years old with bad eyes and it was close to my bedtime after a long day. I wrote the post as fast as I could and from what I can see, there is no easily used "spell check" tool on here. Also, if you read posts of any kind on the internet, people sometimes abbreviate and shorten up their sentences to save space. I did that in parts and now am being called uneducated and embarrassing to fellow teachers. I assure you that my students received error free documents, as I double and triple checked them before the advent of SPELL CHECK on a computer.

THIS IS WHY PEOPLE DO NOT TAKE THIS SITE AS SERIOUSLY AS THEY SHOULD BECAUSE OF THE NASTINESS AND TASTELESS COMMENTS BY SOME OF THE POSTERS.

Mr. Aberdeener,
I see what you are saying. I do not know why they applauded or supported the Rappaport woman. I am disappointed they applauded a lawyer who personally attacked the super. That is not a good example to set. The reason for my post was NOT to just defend tenure. I have seen it in all my years of experience, that tenure does help WITH THE POLITICS of teaching.

On one hand we say that that this town's school board is self serving = then why is it so hard to beleive that people in the public or even BOE members would seek out retribution for a disagreement with a teacher. Is that too hard to believe? Lets be serious.
Now, does tenure happen to protect those teachers who are not worthy, yes I guess it does at times. Blame the 100k dollar+ paid administrators who had 3 years and one day to figure out if a person was a good teacher AND THEN BLEW IT by bringing them back.

And why is it so hard to also believe that those at the high end of the pay scale would be let go first in a budget crunch? IT DOES HAPPEN IN CORPORATE AMERICA all the time.

Rutgers does accept credits from some of those online schools. Is Rutgers wrong? They are a pretty good and reliable institution last time I checked.
If a teacher took classes on coloring within the lines = yes waste of time and no benefit. But if they took courses that enhance their repitoire as a teacher, I think the students would benefit. If a teacher wants to update their "work skills", why is that so wrong? Look into what those distance courses are teaching before we condemn them.

AP courses are COLLEGE CREDITS. I have seen juniors try to take these courses, seniors take several of them at once, or kids just take them to get the weighted grade with no intention of taking the test. I have also seen these parents to be the harshest to deal with when little Johnny does not get an EXPECTED 98 in an AP course!!!!!! Explore how many students ask for them in the first place and how many are turned away.

I am just saying that after over 35 years in education, I have seen many parts of the puzzle. Some don't want to hear it, but if you are not in the buildings, hearing the stories, and what really goes down- the teachers are the easiest to blame first. And some of your posters here are those airing out their sour grapes when they didn't get their way. But, in contrast others have cases to argue but it is hard to tell the difference in this forum. THEY SHOULD BE AT THE BOE MEETINGS telling their stories.

Mr. Aberdeener, I also applaud your efforts. But you and I both know that: only when ALL those who post here actually VOTE FREQUENTLY at BOE time or go to meetings, we will see results. You go to meetings, as do a few dedicated others, but attendance, candidate numbers, and voter turn out is no where NEAR where it should be for a town that has so many unhappy residents.

Aberdeener said...

ITA,

Though we may not agree on everything, I'm glad to see we're on the same side - we both put the students first.

Given your experience, what do you feel we should demand from the BOE?

i.t.a. said...

From what I have seen here in the past 5 years since I have retired and have had the opportunity to really look and compare to what I went through in Passaic county, there is NO COMMUNICATION.

The BOE does not seem to have a pulse of what the public wants. They also do not seem to have any idea of who the teachers are, what they do that is good, or what they need to help them acheive all of the goals that they are expected to meet. That last comment comes from separate conversations from people who said the same thing out of no where. I found that odd.

I will say one thing about the BOE, as I said earlier, it is not like people are beating down the door to take their spots come election time and that is a problem.

They also seem to have no idea when it comes to fiscal responsibilty. To be honest and admittedly bias, the only time they seem to want to talk numbers is when it comes time to negotiate contracts for the teachers and that is where the smear campaigns and negativity comes from. There a million other ways to be fiscally responsible besides driving a hard bargain at negotiation time and I think the public gets the idea that contracts are the only way to save money as I have read here numerous times. I mean construction, number of teachers hired, turf field, bus contracts, and other programs cost money too. How much did the BOE take into consideration on a yearly basis when they have 60 million tax payer dollars to spend.

I don't know. I am not an expert. I just have alot of time on my hands to read the paper, this forum, and talk to people around town to form an opinion. And many here may not agree with it, which is fine.

But I will tell you one thing Mr. Aberdeener, by questioning neighbors and friends in town, I have seen a negative vibe at times about this site because of some of the harsh words and replies to comments that are made by some of your readers. We all have a right to be upset, but there are more constructive ways to carry on conversations. Like what you and I did here, not attack my punctuation and word usage. Thanks for the opinion.

I homeschool for a reason said...

Mr. ITA:

I believe you are focusing too much on the fact that I pointed out your errors. I think the real fact here is obvious: We either have teachers who do not have the elementary skils necessary to teach effectively and properly, or we have teachers who don't care enough to put forth the effort to be role models. I think I may have hit a sore spot, but I will neither apologize for nor rescind my initial post since all children in every school district (be it in Passaic County or Monmouth County) emulate what they see. If students have teachers who continually make careless mistakes, what are these students learning? Your reply to my original post is all too telling. At the risk of sounding "nasty" or "tasteless," I will, once again, point out that there are additional mistakes in your latest post, as well. Now, I am not going to "get into" a boxing match over an English tutorial, but I will say that you should stop being so defensive, and perhaps admit that teachers aren't the infallible creatures they want the parents in this district to regard them as. In addition, you should realize that if you are going to come onto this board and represent yourself as a teacher to us "lowly" parents, you should be prepared to represent yourself in a manner which garners respect. Instead, all I hear from you is bellyaching that I had the gall to point out not a few, but MANY grammatical errors in all THREE of your posts. We are all human and we all make mistakes and typing may not be our "thing," however, your reaction to my post is very common amongst teachers whose mistakes are pointed out to them: Contrite and defensive.

I have seen some wonderful teachers in the MARSD, but, unfortunately, there have been some horrendous ones, too. I, for one, am sick of the whole "together and for our children" routine. Let's face it, no child should be used as a bargaining instrument in contract negotiations. No child should look out his front window and see his teacher angrily protesting outside his house. You commented that the teachers have a guaranteed right under our U.S. Consitutuion to assembly, but just because you have a RIGHT to do something, doesn't mean it is RIGHT to do. As a teacher, your first concern should have been the children who witnessed such disgusting behavior and NOT the moronic members of the MTA who used some bullying tactics to stong-arm the BOE.

I read your posts and always come away with the feeling that you have a chip on your shoulder. In your own words, you admit that the BOE [does] "not seem to have any idea of who the teachers are, what they do that is good, or what they need to help them acheive all of the goals that they are expected to meet." Forgive me, but, every time I turn around, more and more money is pumped into this losing district to help these so-called educators achieve their goals. In addition, any "good" that they do is overshadowed by people, such as yourself, who take every forum and every opportunity to cry "poor me." IF you're going to do so, at least have the skills needed to make your point in a coherent fashion.

P.S. For the record, I am a certified teacher in two states and I have chosen to homeschool my own children. I may have sworn an oath to the State of NJ when I received my certification, but, I am a parent FIRST and above all else. The teachers who forget that CHILDREN are the most important products of our school systems should have their certifications shredded. In addition, the teachers who defend OTHER teachers with posts that are riddled with grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors should be embarrassed. I am sorry if I've made you uncomfortable, but not as sorry as I am for the children who aren't being taught properly.

Aberdeener said...

Thanks, ITA. I appreciate your feedback.

I've gotten numerous complaints, as well, about the tone of the comments. I agree that you attract more bees with honey than vinegar. However, the cure, censorship, is worse than the disease.

Regarding the BOE, I agree that teacher contracts should not be the only place the district tries to save money. At the same time, having salaries rise faster than overall budget caps is ultimately unsustainable. Our capital budget has already dwindled to almost nothing.

But the priority must always be education. The students come first. If every discussion began with "What's best for the students?" I think we'd have a far better school district.

Anonymous said...

ITA,

I'm the anon who posted in favor of charter schools. I do see the point of tenure, especially in this town with this BOE, however, there should be something we could do when we do find a teacher who in not performing and educating our children well enough.

Secondly, I agree 100%, communication is non-existant. Teachers don't communicate soon enough to parents if a child isn't working to their potential. Should a teacher only wait for conferences to talk to a parent. If my child drops a letter grade, I want to know sooner rather than later, whether it be an "A" to a "B", or a "B" to a "C". Too many teachers only notify parents if a child is failing, what good is that? If more teachers, the administration and the BOE cared about pushing the children to higher standards, rather than just teaching the minimum requirements, the kids will surely benefit.

If you complain to a teacher, you're met with an attitude, and you're worried your child will be treated unfairly from then on. If you try to speak with administration, you get the same type of response, or nothing is done. There are so many standards and guidelines on paper in this district, but none are being enforced.

My complaints are that children aren't getting any or enough homework. Also, the quality that is being asked is so, so low! How could we expect our kids to compete with other districts? Teachers like to use the phrase "we don't want to assign busy work". It is not "Busy Work" if you assign something of value, the kids will actually learn. Many teachers (not all, but many) don't want to take the time to check work. If a teacher gives the class 10 minutes to complete homework at the end of class,(in higher grades, middle school and on) and they're done, than how challenging could the work be? Furthermore, why isn't the teacher teaching for the entire length of class?

And yes, I'd rather my child be in an honors class and get a "B" than be in a regular class and get an easy "A". Not for the GPA, but for the quality of the material they are being exposed to.

Lastly, many of us frustrated parents know that voicing our concerns to the current wing on the BOE in control is pointless. We've all spoken to them many times, there has been many times the public has shown up in force only to be ignored. Again, communication does not exist, because the BOE doesn't want any. They want to run the show as they have been for many years. Their mismanagement of funds, their closed door decisions pushing things through that they know many in the public disgaree with.

And yes, there has been some on the BOE in the past that actually did know about the proper handeling of finances, just to have smear campaigns waged against them at re-election time, because they wanted to shed light on years of mismanagement, by the current majority on the board. If as you say, you've been following this for the last 5 years or so, then you know about all the unethical behavior that went on at the last election by those who won.

If I sound angry, I am. Angry that my child and many other children are having their years of education compromised by standards that are far to low. Maybe you were an excellent teacher, but you need to see what the kids of this district are being taught today, and how low the standards are.

Anonymous said...

For the most part, I've had an hugely wonderful experience with teachers in this district. I have children in both special ed and in enrichment, from 5th grade to high school. They have, several times, been able to stand up, by my side against administrators to get my child the appropriate services. Without tenure, I'm sure they would have had second thoughts about doing so.

On the other hand, there are, on occasion, teachers who do not deserve tenure. One of my children currently has a teacher who, in DECEMBER, continues to call my son by the wrong name. I've had other children in his class tell me that the teacher hates him.

My child, a high school student, has begged me not to do anything about this, for fear that it will only make the situation worse. A student with good grades in every other class (and no history of behavior problems), he's in danger of failing math.

Teachers like that should not be able to continue to work for the district, just because they have tenure.

Anonymous said...

I agree, but is anyone getting rid of that teacher? That's the problem!

Anonymous said...

Here's another person's perspective on education reform. The writer is a former CEO.

http://www.careerjournal.com/article/SB122809533452168067.html

Aberdeener said...

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Gerstner. He believes we'd be better off by relinquishing control of our schools to the federal government. When was the last time a federal employee was fired for poor performance?

I'm surprised that a celebrated former CEO of IBM would suggest creating a government monopoly before giving the private marketplace a chance.

There's no one size fits all for our children. Give every child a voucher and allow the private marketplace to do the rest. Otherwise, you're just going to pit every parent, teacher, and administrator against each other in a fight for scarce resources.

Anonymous said...

This is what Steve Jobs said about the issue.

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http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=45466&CFID=18210548&CFTOKEN=21312001
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Jobs sharply criticized the nation's teachers unions for crippling innovation and hampering the leadership of school administrators.

According to Jobs, no amount of technology can hope to improve schools, until principals and superintendents have the ability to make personnel decisions independent of union oversight. If schools really want to perform like businesses, Jobs said, the first step is for administrators to start acting more like CEOs, and less like bureaucrats.

"What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them (sic) that when they came in they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good?" he asked.


"I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way," Jobs said. "This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous who asked if anyone is getting rid of the teacher talked about by the previous anonymous -- parents in this district (and students) are afraid to take any steps against teachers.

There is a real fear in this district of teachers with tenure taking reprisals against students who complain, or who have parents who complain.

There is a history of building administrators and the BOE backing teachers no matter how they act. It's gotten to the point where you just try to get through the year and move on to the next, hopefully one of the "real" teachers.

That is part of the district that O'Malley has got to work on.

Anonymous said...

My son came home today from the high school and talked to me about the amount of cheating going on. Pressure was put on him to give answers to others. He told me it goes on all the time and teachers turn a blind eye to it. Where is the administration on this?

Anonymous said...

The issue is about accountability- fiscal accountability on the part of the Board of Ed and the chief administrators, as well as accountability with regard to supervision of all teachers, tenured and non-tenured. Let's see if the new direction of the board and Dr. O'Malley leads us to better fiscal accountablity.
We will also see if Dr. O'Malley can hold building level administrators accountable for actively supervising teachers.
The message is clear- the staus quo is no longer acceptable.
Parents will have to hold their children accountable, teachers will have to do the same. Principals must put sytems and procedures in place, and tenure can't mean "do what ever you would like". There is a curriculum, hopefully a better one in the next year or two, and teachers should be held accountable to follow it. Even a tenured teacher can have a increment withheld for failure to fufill their duties.
The teachers who do a great job day in and day out should be encouraged and supported, and can also be leaders in initiating positive change in their collegues.
As I see it, we will all have to "step up" to make a change for the better. I do not agree with bashing everybody, but I do think honest conversations must take place.

Anonymous said...

To the above whose son sees cheating.... oh my god! Do they curse at school too?

Stop trying to fire up conversation with "teachers letting it happen." Give me a break. I have complaints about this district too but cheating is a fact of life - some do it and some don't. It does not make it right. Colleges encounter so much cheating that they have to open accounts with services that check for common words and copying.

I am sorry your son was threatened to be beaten up if he didnt give out the answer to number 3. Tell him to wait after class and talk to a teacher. Oh wait- they support cheating right?

Stick to the issues.
Administrators who give tenure to anyone, BOE without a clue, and teachers who could do better.

Anonymous said...

Boy anon. above, too nasty a reply not to be connected yourself. Is this how children are to be spoken to?