Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why Is the NJ State Department of Education Allowing EPSD to Slide?

The following was submitted in the Englewood Report to the NJ State Board of Education dated August 31, 2007. These were identified as benchmarks to be followed in the development of a strong literacy program in the Englewood Public School District.

EPSD must:
Strengthen the use of reading and writing for learning across the curriculum to advance reading achievement and to advance achievement in all core academic areas. Implement the following literacy practices.

  • Over the next three years, move incrementally toward requiring students from grades 6 through 12 to read the equivalent of 25 books a year across the curriculum.
  • Have students in every course, in grades 6 through 12, complete an independent research paper each year. 
  • Appoint a team of teachers to develop appropriate scoring guides to be used at different grade levels.

I find it very interesting and encouraging that the state feels our students should read a lot more than they are required to in EPSD. I find it discouraging that there is no evidence that the benchmarks above have received any attention. They have definitely NOT been met. My granddaughter has been required to read only 2 books in her 9th grade American Literature class.  Correction. 1 required book. She had already read one of them as part of the Summer Enrichment Program. How many books has your child read this year? Are the students in grades 6 - 12 completing an independent research paper each year? Again, how many books has your child read this year? How many books has your child read, period?

                                     How are the children?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tell the Englewood Board of Education That They Must Keep Our Children Safe!

I will post this until we all believe it. Taxpayers have power. It is called the vote. Sometimes we forget between elections. We have the power to remove this board of education RIGHT NOW! If enough of us agree that we do not have confidence that they put the safety of our children first. It is as simple as that. It is called a "Vote of No Confidence" and is utilized in situations like this all the time. Isn't that easier than packing up your child and moving to another district where you will have a whole new set of problems to face alone? Do you really trust these people to put the achievement of your child first when they put the children's safety in the back seat?

What will it take for people to stand up for their children? We are the ones who can make the change. 

Our board of education announced by resolution last meeting that they will sue the state because they do not want to keep our children safe. This is in effect what is being said when they refuse to enforce the bullying and harassment law, because they say it is an unfunded mandate. Why did we need the state to tell school districts to protect the children? Will we abandon the effort because we were not given money? What about the children?

Read the Agenda On page 5 of 21 they compare us to Allamuchy School District. Allamuchy is fighting the mandate. Allamuchy is a town of 4,323 residents. This means they probably have at the most maybe 400 students. We have almost as many children in school as they have residents.  In the census  of 2000, the racial makeup of the township was 95.49% White, 0.93%African American, 0.05% Native American, 1.86% Asian, 0.70% from other races, and 0.98% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.68% of the population.

What do you think? Is that a good example?

This is the actual Allamuchy complaint. Did anyone at EPSD 
read it?    Complaint.............................Resolution

Allamuchy talks about challenging the state on the Anti- bullying Law.
                   How are the children?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Background Check Confusion: Are You Confused About Running A School District?

January 19, 2012. Englewood School Board Meeting. Anyone expecting excitement or fireworks after earlier events concerning the Board of Education President and 1 other board member was disappointed. It did not happen. After the Board returned from their usual long closed session meeting, it was business as usual. George Garrison III apologized for any embarrassment caused by his name being listed along with others who were removed from NJ school boards for failure to comply with the background check registration law. Point of reference, this is not a new law, it is just new to board members.

The first time I Googled George Garrison III, the search led me to a site called E3 (Excellent Education For Everyone). The CEO of this site is now Christy Davis Jackson, the wife of the Reverend Reginald Jackson.  Reverend Jackson and his entire Charter School Board (10 members) were removed for not registering for the criminal background check. This was a surprise too me since I had just read an article in New Jersey Monthly magazine that refers to Reverend Jackson as the most influential African-American in New Jersey. I must  lead a sheltered life, because I had never heard of the man before. I was just following the crumbs left by supporters of "The Urban Hope Act". The search of the CEO of E3 left me cold, because of problems associated with a scandal at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ. {December of 2005, Mrs. Jackson, a lawyer, lobbyist, and UMDNJ's vice president for government affairs, resigned from her $156,000 job. While records related to her office also have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, she said that had nothing to do with her decision to leave.} I'm not mad at you Mrs. Jackson. I would not want a younger, slimmer more determined US Attorney Chris Christie on my tail either.

After reading the proposed bill for "The Urban Hope Act", I wanted to know who supported it and why. It is now Law for Jersey City and Camden. Newark has declined this honor. They have objected to being included in the districts covered under this bill. With the help of the Education Law Center they are charting a different course by asking the N.J. legislators to investigate delays in repair work in urban schools.  Way to go Newark, and good luck.

After the list of board members who were not in compliance with the new law was released it became problematic to those of us who accept the importance of such "small" things. How are we supposed to trust the very future of our children to people who cannot or will not obey the Law? The prevailing excuse was that the process was too confusing. If that process was confusing, how will you run an entire school district? How will you educate the children of parents who have fled the public schools in hopes of something better? How do you earn our trust now that it is betrayed? We no  longer have confidence in your ability to make important decisions. Yikes!!!

Published: Friday, January 13, 2012, 7:20 PM     Updated: Saturday, January 14, 2012, 3:03 PM             
The deadline extension is also good news for the Arete Academy Charter School of Orange, whose entire 10-member board was ruled ineligible for failure to complete their fingerprinting by Dec. 31. Founded by the Rev. Reginald Jackson, the influential head of the Black Ministers Council, the new charter school for kindergarten and first graders is scheduled to open this fall. "This is a new law and we are a new school," Jackson said. "I don’t blame anybody, but there has been some confusion, especially because our school is not open yet."
Nice Try Rev, but no cigar. People are putting the entire future of their most precious creations in your hands. You are duty bound to wade through the confusion. Every single board member that failed to register in a timely manner should have gotten exactly what they got and more. EMBARRASSMENT! 
George Garrison III, Mark DeMontagnac, do not take lightly the lives and education of our children. Don't FRONT. You have children in the district. If you were out here instead of seated around that long table wielding the power, you would feel the same as we do. For years, teachers and all other school personnel have submitted to fingerprinting & background checks.  It is your turn now. You are lucky that you had the willing ear of enough politicians who do not see the forest for the trees to back you up. Stop whimpering and minimizing the importance of the process. Clean up your Acts. You have just proven that is exactly what you are doing. ACTING!

                                           How are the children?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We Do Not Celebrate the Birthday of Martin Luther King!

We celebrate the birthday of his son, Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Public Domain: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Both of my school age grandchildren have demonstrated that they did not know the difference between the two men. I explained the difference to the 5 year old as we completed a homework assignment that required she connect the dots which made Martin Luther King, Jr.'s face. We added the Jr. to his name, on her assignment, as I explained that Martin Luther King was his father and that the King we celebrate is the son. As I write this, I have before me that assignment and 2 other notices from the school district announcing programs celebrating King Jr.'s birthday.  All are technically announcing the event in the wrong man's name. 

Both men deserve the right to be considered separately. Many name Ghandi as the person who most influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. I would disagree. I believe that he was most influenced by the powerful man who gave him birth and nurtured him like few fathers do these days. It is ironic that teachers do not make the distinction between the two men, since King Sr. fought tirelessly for the rights of Teachers, making sure there was equity in the salaries of white and black educators. I would suggest that educators teach both men so that students will learn that African American men also raise their sons to do great things. We all know that in some districts King Jr. is honored simply because they get a day off. In others, he is honored because of his great works in the "Civil Rights Movement". Some districts ignore the day altogether and it is business as usual. Whatever the reason, students should be taught history as it was and the Jr. should always be added to the end of this great man's name in order to distinguish him from another great man. 
Wikipedia photo: Rev. Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King, Sr., born Michael King (December 19, 1899  – November 11, 1984) was a Baptist missionary, an advocate for equal justice and an early civil rights leader. He was also the father of Martin Luther King, Jr.
King, Sr. led the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and became a leader of the civil rights movement, as the head of the NAACP chapter in Atlanta and of the Civic and Political League. He encouraged his son to become active in the movement.
King was a member of the Baptist Church and decided to become a preacher after being inspired by ministers who were prepared to stand up for racial equality. He left Stockbridge for Atlanta, where his sister Woodie was boarding with Reverend A.D. Williams, then pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. He attended Dillard University for a two year degree. After King started courting Williams' daughter, Alberta, her family encouraged him to finish his education and to become a preacher. King completed his high school education at Bryant Preparatory School, and began to preach in several black churches in Atlanta.
In 1926, King started his ministerial degree at the Morehouse School of Religion. On Thanksgiving Day in 1926, after eight years of courtship, he married Alberta in the Ebenezer Church. The couple had three children in four years: a daughter, Willie Christine King (born 1927), Martin Luther, Jr. (1929–1968), and a second son, Alfred Daniel Williams King (1930–1969).
King Sr. became leader of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in March 1931 after the death of Williams. With the country in the midst of the Great Depression, church finances were struggling, but King organized membership and fundraising drives that restored these to health. By 1934, King had become a widely respected leader of the local church. That year, he also changed his name (and that of his young son) from Michael King to Martin Luther King after becoming inspired during a trip to Germany[1] by the life of Martin Luther (1483–1546), the German theologian who initiated the Protestant Reformation.
King was the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church for four decades, wielding great influence in the black community and earning some degree of respect from the white community. He also broadcast on WAEC, a religious radio station in Atlanta.
In his 1950 essay An Autobiography of Religious Development, King Jr. wrote that his father was a major influence on his entering the ministry.' "I guess the influence of my father also had a great deal to do with my going in the ministry. This is not to say that he ever spoke to me in terms of being a minister, but that my admiration for him was the great moving factor; He set forth a noble example that I didn't mind following."
King Jr. often recounted that his father frequently sent him to work in the fields. He said that in this way he would gain a healthier respect for his forefathers. This was a driving factor in his civil rights movements across the United States.
In his autobiography, King Jr. remembered his father leaving a shoe shop because he and his son were asked to change seats. "This was the first time I had seen Dad so furious. That experience revealed to me at a very early age that my father had not adjusted to the system, and he played a great part in shaping my conscience. I still remember walking down the street beside him as he muttered, 'I don't care how long I have to live with this system, I will never accept it.'[2]
Another story related by Martin Luther King, Jr. was that once the car his father was driving was stopped by a police officer, and the officer addressed the senior King as "boy". King pointed to his son, saying "This is a boy, I'm a man; until you call me one, I will not listen to you."
Martin Luther King Jr. became an associate pastor at Ebenezer in 1948, and his father wrote a letter of recommendation for him to Crozier College. Despite theological differences, father and son would later serve together as joint pastors at the church.
King Sr. was a major figure in the civil rights movement in Georgia, where he rose to become the head of the NAACP in Atlanta and the Civic and Political League. He led the fight for equal teachers' salaries in Atlanta. He also played an instrumental role in ending Jim Crow laws in the state. King Sr. had refused to ride on Atlanta's bus system since the 1920s after a vicious attack on black passengers with no action against those responsible. King Sr. stressed the need for an educated, politically active black ministry.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Englewood School Board President On the List of Board Members Who Must Vacate their Seats

George Garrison III and Mark DeMontagnac failed to register for the state required "criminal background checks" as required by New Jersey State Law.

Criminal history report checks have been in effect for school employees for some time. This new law requires that school board members also submit to the same background checks. This writer totally agrees with the new law. It may help to alleviate some of the problems plaguing our troubled Public Schools.

George Garrison is the current School Board President.

Mark DeMontagnac was elected April, 2011

Get to know your School Board.  Elections are not far off. Review the campaign promises of each sitting board member. Have they delivered on the promises? Have they made student achievement the highest priority in the district?

                             How are the children?

QSAC: Governance - I8 - Prior Notice

I8. COMMUNICATIONSThe school board provides public notice prior to renegotiating , extending, amending, or otherwise altering the terms of  contracts for all superintendents, deputy superintendents, assistant superintendents and school business administrators to the Executive County Superintendent for review and takes no formal action to approve or implement such contracts prior to such review. (N.J.S.A. 18A:7-8, N.J.S.A. 6A:23A-3.1)

Back to the Future?
How many millions of dollars have been spent since December 31, 2010? There is no longer a 
surplus of funds for which we have bragging rights. How far have we actually progressed towards providing that thorough and efficient education for all children? Honestly.

QSAC Requires
o Approval letters from Executive County Superintendent
o Board minutes

                                          How are the children?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Fought the Law, but the Law Won!

QSAC: Governance F4, F6 & F7

QSAC = The New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum. District Performance Review (DPR) 

The QSAC is an instrument created by the state to enforce the New Jersey State  Constitution and the Administrative Code, Educational Statutes and Regulations. You might say that it is the standardized test that the Board of Education, Business Administrator, Superintendent and other Administrators must take. The major purpose of the test is to make sure that the achievement of the students is given the highest priority.

Taxpayers: Parents, Community Members, Business Owners: The following is what the law promises and what our board of education has sworn an oath to supply. Is this what you see?

The school board conveys clearly and concretely, through the policies it adopts and the information that it seeks, that student achievement is the highest priority.

F. ANNUAL EVALUATIVE PROCESS - The school board engages in an annual and ongoing evaluative process.

F2. The school board annually reviews and revises, as necessary, an evaluative instrument used in the evaluation of the CSA, based on the goals and objectives of the district. (N.J.A.C. 18A:17-20.3)

F3. The school board annually evaluates the CSA and complies with all requirements of N.J.S.A. 18A:17-20.3 (a).

F4. The school board's annual evaluation of the Chief School Administrator is based on the adoption of goals and performance measurement that reflect that highest priority is given to student achievement and attention to subgroup achievement.

F6. The school board or advisory board annually undertakes a self-evaluation process which reflects that highest priority is given to student achievement.

F7. The school board or advisory board self-evaluation process includes a professional development improvement plan directed towards increasing knowledge and skills in policy making and governance for members of the board.

There are districts that understand that the QSAC is the state's assessment tool designed to evaluate the level of achievement  in the district.  Some  districts publish the document on line for all to see. 

What are the goals and objectives of the Englewood Public School District?

It brings to mind a song lyric that my Daddy sang on the back porch on occasion. I fought the Law and the Law won!
This is compliance. This is transparency. This is not Englewood, NJ.

                          How are the children?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Jersey State Board of Education/Attorney General Please Stand UP!

Newark, Camden and Jersey City school districts are run by the state. Now the push is towards privatizing the educational leadership in these districts. Has the state given up hope for these children and their parents? The "Urban Hope Act" or Bill S3173/A4426 enables these three school districts to allow private entities to manage the public schools. These privately-managed public schools are called “renaissance schools". It is said that it will stop here with these 3 needy districts. What exactly does this takeover mean? What will be different? Someone really needs to spell it out.

It is time for the voters of New Jersey to tell our elected political leaders, and the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey to enforce the Educational Laws and Statutes of the State. Stop ignoring the Constitution. It is no coincidence that at the same time this is happening there is a CAP on Superintendent Salaries and mandates for Board of Education Members to submit to criminal background checks. There is corruption. CORRUPTION. Stop circumventing the laws. Enforce them. Stop back peddling on mandates. Do what the law requires. Where is all that ZERO tolerance and TRANSPARENCY that folks have been talking about for years?

What will change when the people in charge of these same failing/minority districts are private entities? What will happen when the big land developers and Billionaire Corporations, for instance have free reign? Oh, and is Communist China going to get a piece of the pie also? Are we selling off the responsibility to educate the poor and disenfranchised youth of America? Exactly what Miracle are they expecting? The method in which the money is being misused might become more elaborately cloaked. What will that do for the children? Someone really needs to deal with that question. The welfare and the education of the children must come first. Make it so. Stop with the abject Cowardice and exchange it for integrity and gain some respect from the stakeholders who put you in office.

There is very little difference between Englewood and the districts named above. Regardless of how steeped in fantasy many of us have become, we have some of the same problems. In some ways we are in bigger trouble. At least the residents of those districts know that they are in deep sh*t.

Proposed Bill: The Urban Hope Act

Some of us are actually capable of putting 2 and 2 together without the aid of a calculator.

            How are the children?