Saturday, November 20, 2021

Start Strong?

By now, many either have attended virtually, or have heard and seen the data from the 11/18/2021 Englewood, NJ BOE meeting. There is much to unpack and there are data not mentioned that need to be brought forward. As we view student performance, we must ask for connecting data, because it never is prudent to view student performance data in isolation. So, I have a few questions, if I may:

(1) What are the attendance data for each school?

(2) And for the high school, what are the period-by-period attendance data?

(3) What are the teacher observation data for each school--is there any correlation between the high marks that teachers earn and student performance? Are teachers receiving stellar marks while there are glaring student performance deficits?

(4) What are the demographic data for the teachers along the areas of student performance?

(5)  What are the data that measure the effectiveness of In-Service / Professional Development--how has student achievement improved or stagnated as a result?

(6)  What are the data for the frequency of principals visiting classroom--not for formal observations, but to get a sense of what actually is going on in the schools?

(7) What are the data for the time allocated for collaboration among teachers of the same subject to share in best practices? (

(8) What are the data for the methodology of choosing principals for our schools to ensure that they are academic leaders and that they have the opportunity to share best practices with one another? 

 (9) What is the ecumenical outreach? What are the data regarding partnerships with our local houses of worship fostering their assistance in community outreach? 

(10) What are the data regarding the delivery of support to our students who still are displaced from Hurricane Ida?  

 (11) Do the curricula guides exist and what fidelity is there to implementation? How is this measured?

 (12) What is the per capita student spending and what is the itemized list of deliverables? 

(13) With these troubling levels of performance, are individualized strategies indicated for each student, teacher, and administer? 

 (14) What are the strategies between the feeder and the receiver schools to ensure readiness as students transition from one campus to another? 

(15) What are the data on teacher-student ratios? Are smaller class sizes indicated?

As an alumna, and as a former Dwight Morrow High School teacher, I can attest that these are only a small fragment of the important introspective questions that educators ask with great regularity, and have been asking over the years. Because student performance does not occur in a vacuum, it is one of a myriad of components that need to be examined and addressed. The onus of responsibility for student performance does not reside solely with the students. This is a matter for all of us—parents, teachers, administrators, the Englewood community, as well as the students. We should ask pertinent questions. If no one has learned, then no one has taught. We cannot accept that everyone on the campuses, except the students, has stellar performance indicators. If the students have not acquired the knowledge in a manner that they own it and can synthesize it, then we have not taught them. This is a hard truth, but if we are finally going to be transparent and listen to the personnel on the frontlines, then we need to own up to this.

 I submit this in all humility and with Much Love And Concern. L.A.B.
Lynette Adrian Peters-Bickham

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Building Educational Excellence

Englewood Moms Fighting For Educational Excellence

ENGLEWOOD Residents, I’ve known Collette Walker Thompson and Amy Jones Bulluck for several years. I have watched how involved they have become in the community. Some people don't know that their involvement in the ENGLEWOOD community and school system didn’t just start over the last few months.

Their involvement and concern for the welfare and fair treatment of the children of ENGLEWOOD spans over more than a decade. They have made it their mission to attend School Board meetings. They are looking for ways to become part of the solution to bring back equity in our school system. In addition to attending School Board meetings, they have helped to establish the NAACP student Organization, in which they work as mentors for the youth.

They were profoundly empathetic and helpful to Residents while organizing a "recovery mission" after our community was devastated by Hurricane Ida. They were on the front lines daily, making sure families were being cared for, with dignity and understanding. These ladies have demonstrated that they are "of" the Community in which they live.

Collette and Amy possess all of the qualities and qualifications we could ever hope for in school board members. These two women are mothers, community advocates, and leaders, who have never been afraid to speak up for what is right. They never back down when it comes to our children. When you pull the lever for Amy and Collette, you are pulling the lever for a better future for your children. We can be assured our children’s best interest is being fought for and protected.
Collette and Amy, thank you for taking up the CHALLENGE of bringing back Educational Excellence to the ENGLEWOOD PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT!


Debbie Bland Manning, EdD.
Assistant Dean of Adjunct Administration and Adjunct Professor Of Sociology @Bergen Community College

Friday, January 29, 2021

In Person Learning?

 Back to School?

Perhaps it is time that we all stop pretending that air quality in Schools was perfect pre-Covid. It was more than we teachers who referred to certain Schools as "sick buildings". Now we are forced to clean it all up, because it will not just be the children with existing respiratory problems who will suffer. Now "poor air quality and circulation" can cause illness and death in more people. Have we forgotten that we were forced to bring in the County Hazmat Team to force remediation in at least 2 buildings in the past? Some of us remember Legionnaires Disease and how it was nurtured in poorly maintained HVAC systems, in the elegant Bellevue-Stratford Hotel.

Has the Right to Know been made available to teachers and Community Members so they can check to see what has changed since March of 2020? Have ducts been cleaned, new filters installed, etc. All over the country big businesses, like Pritchard Industries, Inc. have been making millions of dollars per school District. I have never been impressed by their work. Do they test their employees? Things have certainly changed since we learned that the virus is aerosolized. Last I checked our agenda, they have not missed a check.

If the nexus of the virus is in the Community, the teachers need to be vaccinated and gradually moved back into the classrooms before adding students to the equation. It makes little to no sense to say that children are not getting and spreading the virus. Most of the children have been "out of Community Circulation" since March of 2020. It is the adults who have been exposed. Will that scenario change once schools are open? Oh and, has it even been discussed that there is no vaccine for children under 16?

The Board of Education must also demonstrate that they, themselves, trust that the buildings are clean, sanitized and safe, by meeting in person for BOE meetings. Follow the CDC Guidelines and set the example.

NJ Right to Know

What We Do
The Community Right to Know program performs the following functions and supplies the following services:

  • Collects and stores chemical inventory information
  • Assists emergency planners and first responders by providing them with information about on-site chemical hazards 
  • Provides compliance assistance
  • Investigates complaints and notifications of unauthorized activities
  • Conducts inspections
  • Issues enforcement documents, both formal and informal, which may include assessed penalties
  • Find more information on submitting your annual CRTK Report. There are also links to various documents and reports you may find useful

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

My open letter to EPSD about The Zone. 

Please share.

I am writing to urge you to take decisive action, to lead--and find a way to support The Zone for the 2020-2021 school year. Now is not a time to reduce the mental health and community supports for students and faculty.

I understand that Trenton is in crisis and has no good choices to make. However, Trenton does not know what we know, which is that Englewood Public Schools were in crisis before the pandemic. I know this because through the leadership of Mariam Gerges and Liz Corsini, along with Sanetta Ponton, I helped lead hours of workshops for DMHS faculty and administrators last year.
We heard first hand how difficult the conditions in the school were, their struggles in reaching students, and their desire to lead their colleagues in creating a better climate in which students, regardless of their traumas, could learn and thrive. We were having these conversations and workshops in August, September, January and February. What will those discussions sound like over Zoom this year?

I can assure you that the kind of professional development and coaching that your faculty and administrators received last year through these workshops would have cost EPSD thousands of dollars--but you got it "free" from Bergen Family Center, The Zone and the community members like Sanetta, Flat Rock Brook and me--who will do almost anything for Englewood's children. Most importantly, EPSD got all this expertise for "free" because the community knows the value that Bergen Family Center brings--and when called upon by them, we show up.

Now it is time for EPSD to show up for The Zone. I assure you that your students and faculty cannot survive, let alone thrive, without the support that The Zone and its committed staff provide. They pivoted seamlessly to the virtual world, and connected with students in a matter of days. In fact, there were moments on the weekly community calls that Sanetta organized, when it became obvious that Bergen Family Center knew more about some of EPSD students than the district did itself. You need The Zone, we all know you do.

Find the money--in the paper clip and toner budget, in the snacks for professional development budget--find the money. 

Step up and lead. The times demand it.


Lynne Algrant

Former Council at Large and Former President of the Englewood City Council