Monday, September 24, 2012


The supplemental educational services (SES) provisions exemplify the principles
discernable in No Child Left Behind (NCLB) that rely on accountability and competition
as mechanisms to improve education and produce better opportunities for disadvantaged students. No Child Left Behind defines SES as “additional academic instruction designed to increase the academic achievement of students in low-performing schools,” and indicates that they “must be high quality, research-based, and specifically designed to increase student achievement.”

Thursday, September 20, 2012 Sylvan Learning Center was being discussed as a continued provider of services to eligible students in the district. For some reason there seemed to be a problem as to whom the services were available. One Board member, Glenn Garrison spoke up with these remarks.

 "Using the services of Sylvan Learning Center constitutes outsourcing. That is contracting out for services that are available in the district."  

He was joking. He laughed at his own off color joke. His was the only laughter in the room. The children who are eligible for these services are not his concern.

That is what I remember from the School Board Meeting on 9/20/2012. I can't get those words out of my mind. They are ingrained there with the "Do we care" statement uttered last year when non compliance to the QSAC was being discussed by the same board member. 

The paraprofessionals were fired with written promises of employment in their hands. 
They were Outsourced. Abolished.
They are not smiling.
Some of them are being evicted from their homes.

Is the Englewood, New Jersey School Board the only one conducting business as if all the
tenets of NCLB have been abolished?

                                                    How are the children?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

EPSD: The First Day of School

Highlights: Special School Board Meeting
Back to school packets from EPSD: The first grader's packet was almost an inch thick. The 10th grader's packet consisted of one page. Now what is wrong with that picture? The District website provided a link for parents to find out what the bus routes are for their children. In a 70% or more free and reduced lunch district, they put such important information online. What about the large number of people who do not have access to computers?

The first day of school at 7:45 am, this retired teacher was in the parking lot of Liberty School. Englewood residents assembled to find out why a School Board meeting had been called for the first day of school at 8 in the morning.

They were still firing, but they were also still hiring. They are working hard to create surplus. The hole left by the unfettered spending that went on in Dr. Carlisle's first year must be filled before EPSD is bankrupt. They have decided to fire personnel after the date the law says firings must occur. (May 15) Those pesky rules. It is illegal and it is immoral. Now I understand why we have a full time attorney. If the board insists on circumventing all of 18A and 6A, an attorney must be present in order to point out the loopholes. Is everyone getting the point that we are paying Mark Tabakin over $145,000.00 per year to find loopholes around the laws that protect our children? Is this the way we want our students to behave? Some people might even call that cheating.

The law says that employees must get a written offer of a job or a letter stating that they will not be rehired by May 15. They have beaten that poor law bloody. Paraprofessionals were offered employment and signed written promises of employment before May 15. On July 31, these employees were fired when the postions of secretary and paraprofessional were abolished. On the first day of school they were still firing employees without going through the proper procedure. There were no rice letters. The termination of these employees was discussed with others in the community without notifying the employees in writing.

At the August 16 board meeting Mr. Popkin asked if Englewood had succeeded from the United States of America. Good question. Has Englewood Public School District left the union of these United States of America? 

September 6: It seems 3 people were hired, one security officer resigned, one guidance counselor was fired for reasons of economy, one guidance counselor was sent back to the high school and another was reassigned to the middle school as a Science teacher. Harley Ungar came up out of her silence to explain to concerned residents that the guidance counselor  they were concerned about did not make a "memorable impression on any of the admissions officers" in any of the schools that students eventually attended after graduating from high school. It was a very insulting remark regardless of her intentions or detached tone. She spoke to the audience as if we were in grade school. That is generally her tone.

Stephen Brown talked a lot. The question was posed as to how high school students were to get credits toward graduation for taking a middle school course. Mr. Brown had no answer and seemed genuinely perplexed when asked if the Culinary Arts Course was state approved for high school credit.   New courses must have a written curriculum submitted to the county executive superintendent for approval before implementing. This is especially important when the teacher is not certified to teach the course.  Mr. Brown admitted that he did not know if the course was state approved. Note that there is no description for Culinary Arts included with descriptions of Small Learning Communities courses. It is unacceptable that courses be thrown to DMHS students in such a haphazard manner.

There was a lot of talk about seniority and tenure and how the rules regarding these had to be adhered to at all cost. Gerald Akridge had seniority over all other employees with the same title, yet he is fired and others are still there. In the middle school, 2 counselors were fired and they both had seniority over another staff member that was retained. Now what is really the criterion for keeping your job in the Englewood Public School District? Perhaps the answer is in how well you kiss up to Dr. Carlisle in his office when no one else is around.

Glenn Garrison insisted that he wanted more job cuts. Voters should remember this in April. Glenn, no doubt wants to make sure that enough money is there to build the shed/office building that he has promised to build in our wetland area adjacent to the little league field across the street from Grieco School..

At one point, Mark Tabakin, the board attorney displayed open intimidation towards David Matthews. He called the police. Stephen Brown threatened to take away our freedom of speech at public school board meetings. We hear this speech whenever Stephen is tired of listening to complaints from the public.

                                                        How are the children?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Poster Child For C.18A:27-10.1 to 18A:27-10.4

Meet A Poster Child for AN ACT concerning certain teaching paraprofessionals C.18A:27-10.1 to  18A:27-10.4

My name is Sharon Vanterpool. I have been a paraprofessional for over 25 years.
I can still remember the first day I walked into Roosevelt School as a substitute paraprofessional. The class was a sixth grade self contained class. Kathy Rimmer was the teacher. I worked in Roosevelt School and eventually was offered the job as fulltime paraprofessional. I stayed at Roosevelt School until it closed. I was transferred to Lincoln School. At this time, I only had a high school diploma. I worked in a first grade classroom with Maria Meeks. I thoroughly enjoyed working with children. I decided to attend Bergen Community College to further my education. I went to school at night and graduated with an Associate’s Degree. My thirst for education was still unfulfilled,
I was assigned to work at Dwight Morrow High School in 1992, because I was the only paraprofessional in the district who had an Associate’s Degree. While working at Dwight Morrow, I decided to go back to college. I enrolled in New Jersey City University. I had to take three buses to get to NJCU, but I knew I wanted to become a teacher. I graduated from New Jersey City University with a BA and the honor of Cum Laude. I really worked hard for this achievement.
While working at the High School with students with disabilities I decided to go back to New Jersey City University to obtain a Masters of Art in Teaching with certifications in Early Childhood Education Pre K through 3rd grade and teacher of Students with disabilities.  MAT ECE/SPEC. On May 16, 2012, I graduated with my Masters and dual certification. 

Sharon Vanterpool is now a full fledged teacher with a Master's Degree. She has a standard NJ state certification. She is far more qualified and experienced than the novice teachers that have been hired since the position of paraprofessional was abolished in the Englewood Public School District.

It is not clear why the paraprofessionals were dismissed. 31 of these former employees were actually given promises of employment by the school district. Yes, they had written promises of employment when the position was abolished on July 31, 2012. Law mandates that teachers, paraprofessionals and other employees be given written notification that promises them a job or that dismisses them. They were not dismissed prior to May 15. They were hired in writing. Then they were fired by way of jobs being abolished on July 31, 2012. It appears to me that these 31 employees were still employed and should have reported to work on September 6. There were orders left to escort any of them off school grounds if they showed up for work.

During over 4 months of marching and speeches, the NJEA never mentioned the fact that these employees had been promised employment, in writing. This fact was also not important to the writers employed by the monopolized press. Why? Is it because the truth reveals the true nature of the Board and Dr. Carlisle? Does it also demonstrate that union leaders are lacking compassion,  wisdom, and the overwhelming need to know the truth or stand for what is right?

A great deal of lip service has been given to this ever widening "achievement gap" that exists in education. Part of this gap is created by the increasing number of special needs children returning to school districts. Many are now being mainstreamed.
As the law states, the need for paraprofessionals in the classroom is greater than ever before. The New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards have been dumbed down to Common Core State Standards. More than ever, teachers are expected to teach to the test. In a time when teacher performance will be tied to student achievement, one would think that teachers would understand that paraprofessionals are a large part of their support system. Most importantly, without the paraprofessional the lowest performers and most vulnerable students have no consistent support.

While the state and federal governments play their games and get school districts all caught up in their "race to the top" so they may claim millions, the achievement gap is fast becoming a grand canyon. Teachers, principals, superintendentsguidance counselors and students have already been caught cheating and fixing test scores. Did the originators of this "race to the top fund" actually consider all of the variables. 

It seems quite contrary that on one hand the race is to the top and on the other hand the complaint is about an achievement GAP. Isn't the race to the top creating a grand canyon of a GAP? In a perfect world, where everyone is honest, it will be a great idea.