Parent and taxpayer response

JUST SAY WHEN ...TO ANYONE SAYING YOU HAVE NO SAY IN YOUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION. We are Citizens for Public School Education. We are Board Watchers. We want a Board of Education that follows the Law, because following the Law works for everyone. The purpose of this site is to help close the controversial Achievement Gap that is the subject in many educational arenas. Teachers are invaluable when dedicated individuals and are entrusted to encourage, nurture, and teach each child to achieve to the best of his/her individual abilities. Principals, Superintendents, Business Administrators, Support Staff, School Board Members, Attorneys and everyone else in the district must be dedicated to making certain that teachers have whatever they need in order to perform at their best. Teachers must be willing to go the extra mile like millions have done before them. This blog promotes an active, accurate & objective telling of history that includes ALL cultures and their literary, cultural and historical contributions to building America. We are Board Watchers.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Are Our Schools in Crisis?: Math

CAPA REVIEW (Collaborative Assessment of Planning and Achievement)
This review was conducted by the New Jersey Department of Education: 2008 - 2009  This post includes the state's recommendations for improving the achievement of Dwight Morrow High School students in the area of Math.

The State recommendation for Dwight Morrow High School: Mathematics

Things the School should do
1. The multiple Math curricula for the same courses should be integrated into one, with additional honors topics covered.
2. Lesson plans should be submitted to the administration biweekly.
3. Revise school schedule so that PLCs can meet weekly. (Pupil Learning Committee? or should be)

The State recommendations for the District of Englewood
Things the District should do
1. All secondary Math curricula should be rewritten.
2. Mandate student portfolios.
3. Provide teacher professional development on the use of portfolios.

Faculty Recommendations from a Stanley Kaplan Veteran:
1. Review text book TOC for where test-relevant material has been covered.
2. Target math vocabulary as exists on exams.
3. Target computational skills: add, subtract, multiply, divide, exponents, roots, logs
4. Pre-test all students as early in the school year as possible.
5. Review the Kaplan Strategies and consider how to MODEL them to your students!
6. Divide problems by topics:
  • a. geometry
  • b. computation + PEMDAS
  • c. time, space and money (units)
  • d. graphing
  • e. trigonometry
( The above recommendations for Math faculty were contributed by Jeremy Donson, Kaplan veteran and graduate of Teaneck High School)

Buses line up to take Academy
students back to their own towns. 
It was noted in the CAPA Report that portfolios were not utilized. They describe collections of student work as merely in folders that do not have any characteristics of a portfolio. An authentic portfolio tells the story of how a student has developed skills in that particular subject. It contains examples of the work in various stages of development that the student has produced over time.

There has been a lot of talk about a new Math focus in Englewood. It has been referred to as "Singapore Math". I questioned Dr. Carlisle about it but was not satisfied with the answer. I assume that he has been told that the Math curriculum needs work. I did some data driven research on Singapore Math and found that it is simply a Textbook. Maybe I should not say simply since Englewood has been veering away from the use of Textbooks. The road should be paved back to Textbooks. Textbooks provide a road map for teachers, students and parents. It is much easier to hold a child to task on homework assignments, tests, quizzes and classwork when there is a Textbook to follow. That is one of those things about the educational system that was "NOT" broken. Click here to find an in depth explanation of Singapore Math and its development over the years. The District is currently searching for someone with expertise in the area of Singapore Math that may submit a proposal of instructional strategies in Math grades K - 5. 
Common area/library/media Center
South building home of the Academy
Program.


I am still waiting for an explanation of why my tax dollars are used to keep the student population at Dwight Morrow High School separate in two different buildings. One has "State of the Art" everything including air conditioned facilities and the other is lacking, well almost everything. How does one justify that? It is not even an efficient use of space. Everyone agrees that there is a need for more classroom space on the campus. It angers me even more when I note that most of the children in the air conditioned building came to our town on a bus and we picked up the tab.

Sorry, just one more question. Was there a Board resolution to change the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hall into Academy@Englewood? The New Jersey Dept. of Ed.  recognizes the Academy simply as an honors program. So why was this program separated physically and given a name that separates them even more? Well, this was Englewood shooting itself in the foot and what we are all smelling is the puss and rot that ensued. Do the present Board Members even know the real story? Do they care? We know our almost new Chief School  Administer does not have a clue.

Did you know that graduation from the Academy might still land you in a job at Wendy's or McDonald's? It is not a guarantee to fame, fortune or a great college education.

"How are the children?"

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Are Our Schools In Crisis?: LEADERSHIP & NCLB SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE

CAPA REVIEW (Collaborative Assessment of Planning and Achievement)
This review was conducted by the New Jersey Department of Education: 2008 - 2009
This post includes the state's recommendations for improving the achievement of Dwight Morrow High School students in the area of LEADERSHIP & NCLB SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE

Leadership and No Child Left Behind School Improvement Committee
1. Develop a plan to include parents, community members, and students as members of the school
NCLB Committee.
2. Develop a plan to systematically monitor and evaluate school best practices and instructional programs to improve student achievement outcomes.
3. Establisdh and systematically monitor a process to implement data-driven instruction to meet the educational needs of each student.

May I see a show of hands of those of you parents, community members and students who are currently serving on the NCLB School Improvement Committee.  Would you like to see the plan to systematically monitor and evaluate the school's best practices and instructional programs that are designed to improve ALL student achievement? So would I. Where is the established process that is supposed to implement data-driven instruction tailored to meet the educational needs of EACH student?

Data-driven instruction - data-driven instruction should come from groups of teachers working together on research and using data to improve instruction—rather than having data monitored as a way of checking NCLB "compliance." Click here for a detailed explanation of Data-driven Instruction.
Data - information collected about a students's academic development. It is important to know specifically what students have learned, when they learned it, what they can do and how well they demonstrate mastery of this information..

Objectives? Surely you jest.  We want to be included. We want to make sure that you have a plan to systematically monitor and evaluate programs already in place in order to make it perfectly clear that every child is expected to achieve mastery regardless of the building in which they attend classes.

And a little off subject, but could someone refresh me again as to why 2 groups of students are totally physically and purposely separated from each other based on test scores, academic achievement and what else, I wonder. In the 60's and earlier, some argued that there was no segregation in Englewood. They said it was a housing issue. Is it still a housing issue? Should address be added to the litany above? The Math and Science Teams Academy at Teaneck High School included children with higher test scores than here. These genuises were integrated into the high school population. We should begin to move towards that. Is anyone happy with such obvious favoritism and elitism?

Dwight Morrow High School has been described as a school of choice.

"How are the children?"

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Are Our Schools In Crisis?: Support For The School

CAPA REVIEW (Collaborative Assessment of Planning and Achievement)
This review was conducted by the New Jersey Department of Education: 2008 - 2009
This post includes the state's recommendations for improving the achievement of Dwight Morrow High School students in the area of SUPPORT FOR THE SCHOOL.

SUPPORT FOR THE SCHOOL
Recommendations: What the School must do.
1. There should be be 100% staff participation in all professional development efforts that are provided on differentiated instruction, sensitivity training in cultural awareness, and demonstrating high expectations for all students' success.
2. There should be efforts to engage community organizations and businesses to assist in attracting parents and the community in building partnerships with the school.

DISTRICT
The district should prorate funding to provide for the specific needs of the High School.
===================================================
DoubleTake

Are you getting the picture? Have you the community organizations and businesses been approached about assisting in getting parents and the community to partner with the school? The business to the right donated 2 $50 gift certificates without hesitation when approached by the PTO president of Quarles School. The gift certificates will be given away at the Latin Dance Night. DoubleTake: A Consignment Boutique  is now partnering with the Quarles PTO. Magalye Matos is doing her part to develop partnerships in the local business community. Below she is dressed as Clifford,  the Big Red Dog. She danced around in that hot suit for nearly an hour giving a great deal of joy to parents and children who attended the PTO sponsored "Book Fair".  Have any of you reading this been asked to partner with the schools?

Has funding been set aside for the specific needs of the high school? ALL of the high school. If you follow the CAPA link back to the report, you will see that I have copied the recommendations exactly as they were written. (page 34) A cooler building might help a little also. Any long range planning should take into consideration that the earth gets a lot warmer during the months of May and June than when the building was originally built. Few changes have been made to accomodate the climate shift. Might the hot stuffiness of the building contribute to a disruption in climate?

So parents, are you feeling left out yet? I am. If so, contact the PTO president at your child's school. Find out what is being done to nurture a partnership with businesses and parents in the community. Businesses that wish to show your love for education are invited to contact Magalye Matos and get your table at the Latin Dance Night Festivities. We are not just talking about Fundraising events.  We are talking about Internships for graduating seniors also. There are many ways that businesses may improve the effectiveness of the educational process in town.
Clifford & Lucy Walker, blog author
"How are the Children?"

PLEASE JOIN US AT THE QUARLES ANNUAL LATIN DANCE NIGHT FUNDRAISER
FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2011 7PM to 11PM

Tickets $10.00 /
For tickets or sponsorship please contact quarlespto@yahoo.com 
201-951-1984

Friday, May 27, 2011

Are Our Schools In Crisis?: School Culture

CAPA REVIEW (Collaborative Assessment of Planning and Achievement)
This review was conducted by the New Jersey Department of Education: 2008 - 2009
This post includes the state's recommendations for improving the achievement of Dwight Morrow High School students in the area of School Culture.

SCHOOL CULTURE
This is what the school should do in order to improve.

1. Through staff development, the school should work to transform the cultural mindset of staff into one that is geared toward an effort paradigm, meaning that all students possess the ability to achieve mastery and teaching will be done until mastery is achieved.

2. The school should provide professional development  in differentiated instruction and sensitivity training in cultural awareness, with the focus on how to demonstrate high expectations for all students.

3. The school leadership should establish a recruitment plan to attract and engage parents and community in the development of an active partnership in school success.

Time to wake up and
smell the flowers
 
It does not take a brain surgeon to determine that the recommendations from the state given in 2009 have been ignored. In almost every report the State is suggesting Professional Development and training for teachers. Why is the Board of Education having a  problem  formulating objectives for the Chief School Administrator? It does not matter who the CSA is, the goals do not change. The needs of the students, teachers and parents remain the same. It is time for that retreat.

 
The Board of Education, once elected works for the State of New Jersey. The State of New Jersey has given recommendations that should be formulated into objectives that the Chief School Administrator must begin to address. It is time to buckle down and deal with the real problems facing our students and teachers. The state is telling us in no uncertain terms that there is a canyon between our children and their teachers.

What are we going to do about this?

"How are the children?"

Are Our Schools In Crisis?: Special Education

CAPA REVIEW (Collaborative Assessment of Planning and Achievement)
This review was conducted by the New Jersey Department of Education: 2008 - 2009
This post includes the state's recommendations for improving the achievement of Dwight Morrow High School students in the area of Special Education.

SPECIAL EDUCATION:
This is what the School is recommended to do in order to improve achievement in Special Education..
1. Implement an intensive reading program
2. Provide more professional development on inclusion, differentiated instruction, and curriculum implementation.
3. Provide more relevant electives for non-college bound special education students.

This is what the District should do in order to improve achievement in Special Education.

1. The District should initiate a curriculum rewriting process.

Reopening the Library is only a miniature step in improving the level of literacy among all of our students. The State has recognized that more attention must be given to students with learning disabilities and poor reading skills. There is no getting around the fact that teachers must be trained more comprehensively in curriculum implementation. Throughout the report it is noted that teachers do not have a strong grasp of differentiated instruction. It is also noted throughout that Dwight Morrow High School students are leaving without any useable skills that will help them find jobs. Rewriting the curriculum is given precedence numerous times as a means to improving student readiness. Read this letter and note that the state is changing the way students will be tested throughout the year. If you read it, the board and the Chief School Administer will not be able to ignore it. 
Dr. Carlisle has asked the Board of Education to give him goals and objectives several times in public meetings. The goals are obvious based on the recommendations required by the state. Our Board of Education and Chief School Administrator must begin to read and utilize suggestions from the state that are clearly in the best interest of the children.

"How are the children?"

Dwight Morrow High School Reopens the Library

At 7:00 pm on Thursday, May 26, the newly renovated Dwight Morrow High School Library reopened.
The affair was well attended. Administrators spoke and the orchestra from the Academy Program performed. A buffet style meal was served in the lobby outside the Library.
DMHS Principal, Dorian Milteer
& Ms. Bickham
Principal Dorian Milteer poses with Ms. Adrian Bickham. She is a  Dwight Morrow Alumnus and faculty member. In listening to her speech it was refreshing to learn that many Englewood residents and alumni had felt the absence of a functioning Library in the high school.

DMHS Librarians
Maureen Cushieri is the School Library Media Specialist. Cathy Robertson is the Library Clerk. It is not clear at this time, but Ms. Robertson seems to clerk in the middle school also. During a conversation in the hallway it was noted that neighboring towns are closing their libraries. I made the point that these towns do not have the low test and achievement scores that Englewood does. We need our libraries and knowledgeable, trained library personnel to operate them.

Board Member Harley Ungar
& Thomas Coach Monroe
Thomas "Coach" Monroe gave a history lesson on the development of the town of Englewood. Visit this link if you wish to hear Coach Monroe's telling of the history of Englewood. He is our local Griot. He spins an engaging history of the migration  to and settling in Englewood by African Americans.

Library Conference Room
 The gigantic table in this room is the original table from the 1930's. Mr. Hunken informed me that most of the furniture and tables in the Library are original pieces from that time. "You would not believe the gum we scraped from the bottoms of those tables," he said. I told him that the tables at Harvard probably had the same amount of gum beneath them. He laughed and agreed with me. He also pointed out that the furniture and the space had been well cared for over the years. He apologized for the lack of air and promised that the problem would soon be remedied. The Library, conference room, and classroom next to it are very stuffy. These rooms are in desperate need of central air. I cannot imagine sitting in the sweltering heat of May and June  in either place.

Classroom next to
conference
room

The room in the photo to the right is located next door to the Library conference  room. Based on the instuctional materials on the walls, it is assumed that a Literature class of some type is conducted there. It is small. The tightly closed windows are covered with colored construction paper. The paper blocks out the sun, the light and the air.

The task now is to fill the shelves with reading material that will both challenge and enlighten the student population. I have not seen signs of the classical literature and will be checking back at a later date to see how the books are being selected. It is of great importance that a cross section of Classical Literature and reference books that reflect the Mullticultural nature of the School and Community  fill the shelves.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Training Our Babies: The Responsive Classroom:

Have you ever heard the term Responsive Classroom? Follow this link to a website where you may learn about the model that is being introduced into the Pre k, Kindergarten and elementary school experience in Englewood. Familiarize yourself with the information, resources and workshops available on this site. Offerings are tailored to Individual Parents and to Districts. Get on top of what the District is planning for your child. Home page for The Responsive Classroom. The site is very Parent friendly.

Donald A. Quarles Pre-k, K
Responsive Classroom  
Explanation of goals: a widely used, research-backed approach to elementary education that increases academic achievement, decreases problem behaviors, improves social skills, and leads to more high-quality instruction

Ask questions based on what you read. Sometimes programs change significantly once they are installed. Many of the attributes that first attracted us to the programs never make it into the actual implementation process. Parent involvement will change that.
  • When will the success of the program be assessed? (evaluated)
  • How will the program be assessed, and by whom?
  • Will Parents be involved in the assessment of the effectiveness of the  program?
  • How much will it cost the district?
  • Is it for everyone and should the concept be modifiedd and continued through to high school graduation?
  • Will ALL teachers participate in training in preparation for the program?
  • Ask to see written documentation of what the program is bringing to Englewood children, parents and community.
DMHS board in Main Office
The basic concept of the "Responsive Classroom" is a noble one. It is "Behaviorial Modification with Kid Gloves". That is okay, if it works. The concept should get a mature twist as the students mature and the morning time evolves into "a more interactive and responsive homeroom" where connections are made. If not under supervision, there will be a tendency for this crucial time (of morning meeting) to dissolve into a time for "announcements" and updates on school activities."

All classrooms that work well are ?Responsive Classrooms". Healthy relationships between students in a culturally diverse community must be nurtured by parents, students, teachers, administrators and boards of education members. Teachers must also become more involved in wanting to know about each child in order for the model to work. Discipline and respect goes both ways. Teachers must exercise more self control in dealing with students with different learning styles.

"How are the children?"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vocabulary for Literacy Recommendations

Today's Vocabulary Words
Learning these words will help you communicate with your child's teacher and the school in general.
Assessment - To test or evaluate...is used to determine what students know and what they can do. Students, teachers, principals and superintendents are assessed.

Authentic Portfolio - A collection of a student's work specifically selected to tell a particular story about the student. Students perform authentic tasks which demonstrate application of knowledge and skills. Their portfolios tell compelling stories of the growth of talent and showcases individual skills and abilities.

Benchmarks - a point of reference for measurement of student achievement. A standard by which something can be measured. (In this case student achievement.)

Curriculum - means two things:
  • the range of courses from which students choose what subject matters to study,
  • a specific learning program. The curriculum collectively describes the teaching, learning, and assessment materials available for a given course of study.
Curriculum Development - Usually takes the form of a workshop and offers specific tools which teachers and schools can use as they design curriculum, develop assessment tasks, and create the classroom practices that will lead to significant student learning and growth.

Differentiate Instruction - involves providing students with different avenues to acquiring content; to processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and to developing teaching materials so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability. Everyone learns differently. Teachers must construct lessons with this fact in mind.
Disaggregated data - Disaggregated data means looking at test scores by specific subgroups of students.

Literacy - Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read and write.
Professional Development - Continuing education for teachers. It enables them to keep up with and learn new teaching strategies that contribute to improving student achievement.

"How are the children?"

Are Our Schools in Crisis?: Literacy

CAPA REVIEW  (Collaborative Assessment of Planning and Achievement)
This review was conducted by the New Jersey Department of Education: 2008 - 2009  This post includes the state's recommendations for improving the achievement of Dwight Morrow High School students in the area of Literacy. The next post will help you to become familiar with words that are used by teachers and school administration that you may not know.

DMHS East Wing
Governor Christie has introduced plans to augment the current New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards with  a new set of rules. The current standards are expected to become the Common Core State Standards. This change is slated to take place within the next 5 years. Each district is charged with selecting an assessment system. It is called the Transition to Next Generation Assessment Systems.  This new system will require 4 assessments (tests) during the course of the year. That is a test at the end of each marking period. I have written the person indicated in the letter requesting more specific information.  Are we ready for this? Do we even have Mid term and Final Exams?

LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY  (English & English Literature)
State Recommendations:   This is what the School should do.
1.  Implement an authentic portfolio process for reading/writing for ALL students in core English classes.
2.  Develop a curriculum committee to create a standards based curriculum with benchmarks and assessments as well as effective teaching strategies.
3.  Revisit the school schedule so that time is provided to teachers to work on continuous vertical and horizontal articulation within the English curriculum.
4.  Continue professional development in the process needed to differentiate instruction for all students.

State Recommendations:  This is what the District should do.
1.  Provide a designated high school literacy supervisor/coach to support instruction.
2.  Staff the media specialist position in order to implement a formal library program which integrates with the literacy program.
3.  Share up-to-date and, preferably, disaggregated data with teaching staff on a regular basis, and analyze results for impact on classroom teaching practices.
4.  Create a structure to support ongoing curriculum development, revision, and implementation.

(#2 under what Schools should do. You will notice that I do not define vertical and horizontal articulation in English Curriculum. That is a very vague recommendation and it does need clarification. Those terms are generally associated with businesses. I also found a lot of references to the field of medicine and dentistry. It needs clarification.)

The clickable links in the text above lead to books at Amazon.com. The books provide more information that will aid in understanding the recommendations. These books may be available in the Library. Look below the book images. You are allowed to preview contents on some of them. Other books on these subjects are available in the library.

"How are the children?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do We Need Midterm and Final Exams in the HIgh School?

Crocus - the first spring blossoms
Did you ever wonder what happens in a high school during the spring months? Have you ever seen "Spring Fever" in a teenager up close and personal? I have.

I question the legitimacy of a school system that does not have students on task throughout the 180 days that they are required to be in the classroom. So what are the students at Dwight Morrow High School doing right now? Some say they have projects. That is not enough. Projects are rarely worked on in class. What are they doing on a daily basis for the last two months of school? Seniors everywhere are usually mentally gone anyway, because of prom and the general senioritis. What are the rest of the students doing?

If Final Exams were in place in the high school, there would be no reason to ask that question. The answer would be obvious. "They are preparing for finals." A former colleague refers to  it as "Benign Neglect". Students must be actively involved in learning these last months of school. They are already facing 2 months of "no time on task".

I read the CAPA REPORT for Dwight Morrow High School 2008 - 2009. It did not present a glowing description of our educational program strategies. I  do not see indicators that any of the New Jersey State Department of Education suggestions are being taken seriously. Englewood has a reputation of "not" having documented Curriculum. It is time to change that reputation.
What is Curriculum?
Public Domain photo
Curriculum is a document. In this document each subject area has a clear set of goals and objectives. The course of study is broken into units (or other module) and lists specific activities, materials, textbooks, magazines, online and off line resources, guest speakers and media that will be used throughout the year. It contains examples of tests and other assessment systems.  It is simply a collection of documents from each department detailing objectives for student achievement. It explains the strategies to be used to impart information to the students. The best curriculum is like a road map to  teachers. It keeps them centered and this helps to center the students. Having good Curriculum that is aligned to the NJCCC Standards is tied to student achievement. Poor test scores in Englewood students is a direct result of the absent curriculum. Without curriculum, there is no big picture. Without a standard curriculum in each subject area it is difficult to establish benchmarks for development as the student passes from grade to grade.  How do we determine if the student has learned all that is required, if all that is required is not documented?

Without exams, the last 2 months of school are wasted. The climate is too lackadaisical. Idle time breeds problems. We see the end result of NOT having a rigorous learning environment. Now it is time for everyone to embrace change.
"How are the children?"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What Every Parent Must Do In Order to Stay Informed....

"How are the Children"
It has come to my attention that there are programs in place that are theoretically open and free to all Englewood school children.. Notices for these programs may be on the counter of the main office in the building of the school that your child attends. 

It has also come to my attention that people think we don't care about our kids, because we do not attend back to school night, parent conferences, parent teacher meetings and do  not respond to repeated calls in our homes or on our cellphones from conscientious staff informing us of problems. The word is that you don't care.

WEBSITE for the Board of Education
Click here to see the Official Board of Education Website if you have never been there before. Get to know the site and the way that it is set up. Hopefully, there will be some improvements soon. Use the email addresses there if you are not satisfied that it is keeping you informed. The word is that you don't care.

LIBERTY SCHOOL Brick and mortar home of the Board of Education and The Eagle Program
Russel C. Major Liberty School
Visit here for the first time If you have not already done so. Check the windows and doors for flyers advertising school and community activities. Look into each office and make a mental note of the purpose of each. Check for flyers on a regular basis. It seems this is the method they use to inform you of programs and activities for your child. While you are there, visit the Superintendent's office and sign up for the "walking tours of the Englewood School Buildings" that are now playing out of Central Office. Get to know your School System. Did you know that there are tutorial sessions open to your child taking place upstairs in this building every single day? The word is that you don't care.


We all need heroes
 ATTEND at least one School board meeting (they are listed with the agenda on the calendar on the BOE Website) If you never attend again, go and meet the board members and the Superintendent. Important decisions that will shape the life of your child are made everytime they meet. Get to know the faces of the people who call the shots. Become more to them than just a demographic. Be counted. The word is that you don't care.

THE MAIN OFFICE of your child's school building...
  • Step into the main office of your child's school at least every 2 weeks. 
  • Take a copy of each handout or flyer on the counter. There is important information that you need in order to make sure that your child is up to date in school
  • Get acquainted with office personnel. (keep a log of who is whom)
  • Meet the principal and shake his hand at least once. Look him/her in the face.
  • Make an appointmet to see your child's guidance counselor (What is a GPA?)  Know Guidance well.
  • Find out how your child is being TRACKED...
  • Meet the school Nurse. Make sure she has all of your contact information
  • Get to know Secretaries, Office Assistants, and Security. (know who your child may depend on in a time of crisis, if help is needed)
  • Check out the School Library at least once in a while 
  • Find out what type of extracurricular activities are available (after school activities including clubs and sports)
  • Please do not forget the Fine & Performing Arts. Children must begin to embrace more of the fun things in school.
AT HOME with your child or children
  • Check bookbags for flyers with announcements and homework strewn about carelessly. Fix that.
  • Check notebooks for homework assignments, tests, quizzes with grades, classwork with grades, notes from the teacher
  • Supervise homework. Make an Official Parent Notebook Check for organization once a week.
  • Keep a Teacher/Subject Log: collect communications from teachers, print out emails, make written note of any teacher contact by subject. Documentation is key.
  • Talk to your children about school. You will be surprised that they want to talk about their experiences. Keep dialogue open so you will know when your child needs your help. Listen.
PARENT TEACHER ORGANIZATION
There is one for each school. Find out who they are, what they do and when, where and why  they do it.
The word is that we don't care.

"How Are The Children?"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Right To Read: Censorship in the School Library.


Under Construction
The reopening of the Library at Dwight Morrow High School has been announced. The celebration honoring the reopening was noted casually at a board meeting and on the District website with a number to call in order to RSVP.  Some people have even gotten written invitations in the mail. Did you receive one? The systematic dismantling of school libraries in the Englewood Schools has been so damaging that a letter should go to every home apolozing for the disruption in intellectual stimulation. This apology should have come inclusive of an invitation to the re-opening ceremony. Such significance should have been given to this occasion that students should have been encouraged to research the history of the school and town in order to find a noteworthy scholar for which to name the newly renovated facility. For whom is it named? (The question has been answered. The Library is The Ellen S. Bindman Library)

I stand strong for developing powerful Libraries. The Janis E. Dismus Middle School library pictured below is back in focus. We can only hope that the literature and media offered reflects and represents the many cultures of students in the school and the district. Click the main title of this article and learn about the battles being waged by School Librarians in regard to what is put on Library shelves across America.

Is the avid recreational reader a dying breed?

Janis E. Dismus MS Library
Sometimes students need to hear what various groups outside of the
classroom have to say on the subject of reading. The Motivation to read needs a lot of work. Perhaps more should be done to demonstrate that teachers, parents, and administrators are active readers and writers. We should stop trying to control the reading material that is rigorous and interesting to students. Who knows where I would have ended up if my Mother had stopped me from reading comics, the Grit Newspaper, or my older brother's school books. That is where I met Charles Dickens. Everyone involved in encouraging students to read must read themselves. Why should students take reading seriously when everyone else seems to get along okay without doing so? We must begin to model the behavior that we wish to see emulated.  We all know that works, afterall, that is where a lot of negative stereotypes originate.

 (note to principals in their guide to libraries)
"It is the season to look around, regroup, and plan ahead. What needs a fresh start? What needs repair? What needs just a little fine tuning? The enclosed Principal’s Manual is designed to guide you in assessing and planning for your school library media program. AASL offers this manual as an aid as you prepare with your school library media staff, district administrators, teachers, students, and parents for the next school year. There are valuable tools that will assist you every step of the way. So take your manual in hand and enjoy the journey!"

Friday, May 20, 2011

Special Public Meeting of The Englewood Board of Education

Thursday, May 20, 2011:  Special Public Meeting of The Englewood Board of Education
  • call to order
  • Open Public Meeting Statement
  • Roll Call, all present
  • Pledge
  • Privilege of the floor given first (this had been suggested by one of the parents) 


Mr. Popkin spoke on the fact that a 48 hour notice must be posted prior to Board of Education Meetings.  It seems that he had noticed the event was published in various ways that he thought were intentionally misleading the public. He said it was listed as a closed session on the website. Mr. Popkin regularly alludes to the fact that the Board is inconsistent in  notices to the public. He pointed out that there was nothing (no business) really listed on the  Agenda. No New business or Old Business was listed specifically.  He questioned the sincerity of the posted notice and suggested that it was done in order to confuse the public. He accused them of being unfriendly to the public.

Mr. Garrison, the board president stated "that there were issues that came up that must be taken action on in private session. There were situations that they must take legal action…contract, personnel, legal student matter." The word Emergency….was not used but seemed strongly implied.

The Public was dismissed and basically sent to wait in the hallway while they met in private session. It was actually good to network among the public waiting for the resolutions. This is when I noticed that there were quite a few people in attendance for a board meeting that was supposed to be a special/or Emergency Meeting posted at the last minute. After nearly an hour it was obvious that the meeting would take a long time. People left. I went home and got my car. People had come back when I returned. People left until only Mr. Popkin and I remained. We waited them out.

Mr. Popkin timed them to the second. 3 hours 7 minutes, I stopped counting after that. There were two resolutions. They voted with mostly no's on the first one with a couple of yes's. It was difficult to be interested when there was no specific information. Both resolutions were read to us before we were given hand written copies of the resolutions.  The board attorney was asked to explain what the second resolution was specifically. He explained that they had basically agreed to acquire (I assume acquire means hire) a mediator to help settle a dispute between 2 parties disagreeing over problems in construction of Grieco Elementary. The hand written resolution reads 
      "The Board hereby approves the contract with Benchmark Resolution Services, LLC to provide mediation services in the matter captioned Englewood BOE vs. Dobco, Inc..."  The 2 parties are the Board of Education and Dobco, Inc.
It was a very weird Board of Education Meeting. The buildings are fine.

"How are the children?"


5-year-old prodigy speaks seven languages, plays six instruments

An Honor Student

Think of him
as your son.
If you dream it for him,
he will know that it is possible.
That is the hope
that keeps hope
alive.

The Official NJ 2011 Taxpayers’ Guide to Education Spending

Click the title and as you read,
consider the question.
"How are the children?".

African American Mother's Association: Induction Ceremony

The first order of business for this newly formed association
will be to induct new members.
Mother and Son at the Beach
I hereby induct into the African American Mother's Association
All white women with black children
Especially black sons.
To all helicopter Moms
You are hereby embraced into a culture of people who realize that their sons
like the great bald Eagle are an endangered species that warrants protection.
It worries you that the world
Will not see them as they see you, but as their father's folk and that they will not be safe.
Your children see you, love you and are very lucky to have you hover.
A word of advice, make larger circles.
It may NOT be runaway trains that you see.

Welcome to our world. We are one. We are called the village.
Welcome to the Mother's Association that produced men like, Benjamin Banneker,
Frederick Douglass, Meager Eavers, Adam Clayton Powell, Alex Haley, Alvin Ailey,
Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, John A. Williams, Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barak Obama to name a few..

Know that you are the greatest hero in the lives of your children.
We embrace you
As you renew your pledge to love, educate and protect your kids.
We open our hearts to you.
You are now officially a Black Mother..

This meeting is now adjourned.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What does a student do in Teaneck to join an AP or Honors Class?

Soldier @Monument
Answer: Register, get a parent signature, and start going to class.

Watch the videos made by the students of the EAGLE Program. Listen to what they have to say about Dwight Morrow High School and education in general. It is clear that they have a firmer grasp on the "TRUE" Englewood problem than the adults. Listen. They know it. They speak on it. "THEY SEE YOU!" Again, I ask you, 'how are the children?". We are here for the children.

Men and women only slightly older than the students in the Eagle Program are putting their lives on the line everyday so we can sit down at home and wallow in indifference instead of standing up against what we know in our hearts to be wrong. How are the Children?

Let us not compare ourselves to a town that is fighting to stay afloat themselves.
They are trying desperately NOT to become "LIKE" Englewood. The thing that made them different is not test scores. Students are at Liberty to make some very hard choices about the course of study. They have their town behind them.

I read an article the other day that was filled with suggestions and fear that America was becoming a "Third World Country". Well, as quiet as it is kept, America has always been a third world country. Amerigo Vespucci and Christopher Columbus did not find white Anglo Saxons on these lands when they arrived. We are here and we are staying, now see us!
"How Are The Children!"

Sometimes you just have to run things up the flagpole. The following is a conversation generated on FACEBOOK in response to the article above.

Alice Twombly
Lucy, there's something also about teacher approval for AP classes.

Lucy Walker
Even that is more liberal than here. I remember once Jim and I had an argument because I wanted to know why a particular young man was in AP. I was concerned that he was clearly NOT what I thought was AP material. Jim laughed and said, "he has a right to fail. We shouldn't stop him from trying." Jim and I had our disagreements, but he was right. The young man did not fail. He got a C. I learned something very valuable that year about students and choice.
Alice Twombly
It's a bit different today, but the end result is the same. Kids get recommended to AP by their teachers, and the guidance counselor also weighs in on the situation-- but Jim's old standard, I think, still prevails. Incidentally, I want to show you a senior project on the Teaneck Schools that a senior at Dwight Englewood just completed on "The Achievement Gap." Let's get together.