Chariho School Parents’ Forum

April 26, 2008

School Choice in the news

Filed under: Charlestown,School Choice — Editor @ 9:43 am

Charlestown has floated the idea that they would run their own school for K-? and possibly utilized vouchers for high school aged kids. 

Foster is also looking at some choice options.

April 23, 2008

April 22 meeting

Filed under: contract negotiations,merit pay — Editor @ 1:04 am

Not as active as last time, but an interesting meeting.  Catch it on ch 18 tomorrow at 8 pm and Friday at 12 noon.

 

Bill Day took the podium at the public forum to complain that I yelled at him on the phone after he discussed my family in public.  I did – both on his answering machine and when he called me back.  He said I threatened him too.  After he offered to share the “taped” message I left him, I asked him if he could tell me what they threat was.  He did not answer.

 

There was also an agenda item to discuss the use of “move to question.”  Hopkinton Town Council member, Barbara Capalbo wrote the AG’s office and the Superintendent about the issue too.  Her point was that the Committee uses it too much (4 times in as many months).  My point was that in January, when Bill Day told me to make a motion so we could discuss, and then Andy McQuade made the “move to question” motion – it was clearly used to stifle debate. 

 

Capalbo copied the page from Roberts Rules that says, “The chairman never has the authority to close debate as long as one person wants to discuss the motion.”  It also said, “it is not proper to make this motion before everyone has had the right to debate.”

 

I asked that we get a legal opinion.  THis was turned down.  They moved to have the sub committee (made up of school committee members) decide.  At the meeting, Holly Eaves said that it was Roberts Rules and not law.  And since 2/3 voted for it (not all times actually) that it was ok to do it.  Bill Day said that he, as chairman didn’t end the debate, the voting body of the Committee did.  Thats the jist of what I recall, watch the show and let me know if I’m off.  But they will interpret the rules and let us know.

 

I also made a motion to get all of our administration contracts down to 1 year so we could cut positions when budget time came around.  Right now, we couldn’t cut positions because we were told the contracts wouldn’t allow us.  The motion was denied. So, lets say Charlestown left the District and we only needed 2/3 the staff.  If the employee is on contract we can’t cut them.

 

Speaking of contracts, they approved the super and assistant super contracts too.  We do that every year – but its a roll over of another three year contract.  So they are never without a minimum of a 2 year pay package.  And they sealed the minutes so you can’t know what the discussion was like – we discussed his job performance and the contract details.  Again, we could have done anything we wanted to the contract but we didn’t change anything – other than the income.  So if your rep on the Committee says they will fix the contract next time, ask them why they missed the opportunity to do so with the administration.

 

During the last contract negotiation everyone said we were going to do better next time.  No more treating these employees like a protected special class who get bigger raises and better benefits than everybody else.  No more paying them on seniority – pay them on merit just like the real world.   But we had an opportunity to do it tonight and nothing changed.  We couldn’t even get them down to a 1 year contract.   Nothing changed.

 

I think George Abbott voted for all or most of the motions.  He was also supportive during the superintendent evaluation.  I think Bob Petit voted for a few too.

 

Lastly, Mr. Ricci said that he does not answer my emails because he feels that I share confidential information.  Indeed, his admission was in Executive Session and they sealed the minutes – so he may consider the act of me telling you that I can’t ask questions, a confidentiality violation.  So if you have any questions that involve the behavior of an employee or student, I will not be able to ask for you.  I’ll assume that I can still ask other questions.

 

However, one of the questions still not answered is this – sent to Ricci in an email.  A Kindergarten teacher told me that the school places a “2” on the student evaluation even though they don’t teach the subject yet.  This has been confirmed by other parents.  I asked the principal and she denied it.  I asked the Superintendent and he won’t answer me.  Is that confidential?

 

April 21, 2008

HTC votes “no” on bond

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 10:41 pm

The Hopkinton Town Council voted “no” to support the bond and voted to send a letter to each of our representatives at the state house saying the same.  The vote was 4 to 1. 

A friend from the neighborhood asked me a very blunt question the other day regarding the bond.  He said, “Bill, I agree with everything you are doing but I was at the school and there are holes in the bathroom walls (he also mentioned that the art on the lunch room said it was from the “F”art depertment).”  He went on to say, “It is demoralizing for the kids to be in that environment.  We need the bond for those bathrooms and we can fix the contracts and management later.”

My response:  “We spend $13,000 per student and we have holes in the bathroom walls.  I personally spend $4000 per student at St. Pius and have great bathrooms.  Any school other than a public school has great bathrooms and they manage to do it with far less of a per student cost and NO bonds.  If you had an employee that cost you three times as much as the same employee elsewhere and your empolyee did a poor job, would you find a way to keep paying them?”

Connecting the dots

Filed under: School Choice — Editor @ 10:32 pm

Anchorrising has posted more information on the dreaded “funding formula.”  For those who haven’t followed this, it’s a proposal to create a formula to determine the cost of educating each child in RI and allocate the money though one source.  Here is the cliff note version. 

 

A regular school student would be 1 times $X,XXX.  A student with an Individualized Education Plan would be 1.25 times $X,XXX – or some multiplier to be determined.  A student such as those in the RYSE program would be 2.5 times $X,XXX.  You get the idea. 

 

All property taxes for the entire state would be collected by the state and distributed to each town.  Hopkinton would tell the state “we have 900 regular students, 200 students with IEP’s, 20 RYSE students.”  And the state would distribute that formulated amount to the school.

 

Here’s the problem.  The state will tally up the costs for all 120,000 students and distribute that cost based on property values.   As you can imagine, all the core cities (providence, central fall, Woonsocket) don’t have nearly enough property to support their own children and the next largest two (warwick and Cranston) probably don’t either.  That means the outside communities, especially the wealthy ones like Charlestown, East Greenwich and Barrington, will shoulder most of the burden. 

 

The formula is touted as solving the funding shortfalls, but that can only come with more money (because changing the contracts isn’t in the plan).  So where does that money come from?   

 

Besides, it will be difficult to convince someone in Hopkinton that someone in Providence can control their school $’s.

 

The probable solution is to collect the money but then send it back to the parent.  That way if a parent wants to spend more for moses brown, they can.  If they use one of the normal private schools, the state saves money – which would need to go back to the town (this is the important part).  The funds need to be fluid with the parent’s decision.   That way a parent cant complain about the state spending their school  $’s improperly because the parent has the control. 

 

I’ve mentioned the Edmonton school choice model before.  There are 80,000 students in that district – all schools are public and in the system.  This is the model I would look to on a statewide level.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done on a town level in the mean time, thus establishing the rules you want to live by.

April 19, 2008

2008 TERC Math vs. 2008 National Math Panel Recommendations

Filed under: Math — Editor @ 6:02 pm

Bill Quick, who has visited before, has notified us of a new report titled, 2008 TERC Math vs. 2008 National Math Panel Recommendations.  From the report:

TERC 2008 Math Fails to Provide the Foundations of Algebra

A major objective of elementary math education is to provide the foundations for algebra, the gateway to higher math education.   Although we call it “elementary math,” K-5 math content is quite sophisticated and not easy to master.   But constructivist math educators believe that concrete methods, pictorial methods, and learning by playing games are the keys to a stress-free approach.  This is the approach found in the second edition of TERC’s Investigations in Number, Data, and Space(TERC 2008).  Unfortunately, as we will explain below, TERC has achieved their “easy to learn” objective by eliminating the content that’s necessary for later success in algebra.  What is this necessary content?  That question  has been at the heart of the “math wars” debate.  For many years opposing sides have failed to communicate.  But a 4-year search for common ground has now reached consensus.  The March 2008 Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMP) clearly identifies the “Critical Foundations for Algebra.”   The primary purpose of this paper is to show how TERC 2008 misdirects students and fails to provide the “foundations of algebra” K-5 math content identified in NMP 2008.  [For a brief analysisof TERC 2008 math, click on TERC 2008 Math vs. NMP 2008 Math: A Snapshot View.] 
The complete set of TERC 2008 5th grade materials, provided by NYCHOLD, served as the primary source for this paper.  The reader will find a much more limited view by clicking on TERC 2008 Curriculum by Contentand following links to PDF documents.  Some of these links will be given in context below. 
 

 

The complete set of TERC 2008 5th grade materials, provided by NYCHOLD, served as the primary source for this paper.  The reader will find a much more limited view by clicking on TERC 2008 Curriculum by Contentand following links to PDF documents.  Some of these links will be given in context below.   

 
 

 

 

School Choice promoted in Westerly Sun

Filed under: School Choice — Editor @ 5:45 pm
Tags:

A contributor to the Westerly Sun writes about the legal authority a town council or mayor has to implement school choice.

In Education, Parents should have the choice on what and how 

The California Court of Appeals judge who ruled recently that parents “do not have a constitutional right to home-school their children” probably thought the point was obvious. He lives in California, where liberalism is still a flour­ishing belief system, and where parents are widely regarded as simply the mechanism whereby new generations of youngsters are created and turned over to the state for polishing.

 But he is a loser nonetheless, as he will discover when his rul­ing is overturned on appeal or, failing that, struck down by the legislature or, if necessary, by an amendment to the state constitution.

The parents of California are not about to surrender the right to decide what fundamentals their children shall be taught.

That is not to say that parents in California or elsewhere, have or ought to have an exclusive right to determine that ques­tion. We live in a complex socie­ty, under rules that necessarily apply to all of us, and our chil­dren must be taught many things that they must do, and not a few that they must not. We could not possibly survive if rebellious, or even simply inven­tive, parents were allowed to raise their offspring in ways that defy essential standards of behavior.

But that still leaves vast areas of belief in which reasonable people can and do differ, and there is no reason in the world why parents ought not to be able to instruct their children in what they regard as the right way to act in those areas.

Should teenagers be allowed to drink or smoke, and, if so, at what ages? What, if any, are the limits on sexual behavior? Just how important is simple hon­esty, and what is the proper role of compassion? These, and many other questions, are the proper province of parents, and the notorious difficulty of getting children to conform to decent rules in regard to them is no excuse for having the state barge in and arbitrarily take over the whole process.

To be sure, some parents will grossly neglect their obligations in this regard, out of laziness or sheer ignorance, and then it will be necessary for the state to step in and take over the role of “in loco parentis” — in place of the parents.

That may well be all the judge in the California case thought he was ruling. But it is not what he said. He didn’t rule that the state could intervene in cases where parents neglected their obligation; he denied that the primary obligation rested with the parents at all.

A reasonable acknowledgment of a parent’s rights in this regard can certainly specify that particular subjects must be taught, and I see no reason why a parent ought not to be required to know enough about the rudiments of teaching to do the job properly.

But no one who has witnessed what goes on in many American classrooms today will readily argue that a properly trained parent couldn’t do better. Children in many public and private schools are subjected to an “education” that is positively hair-raising.

I expressed at the outset my confidence that the California judge’s ruling will be overturned on appeal, or, if necessary, reversed by the legislature or a constitutional amendment.

Quite possibly there will be a provision, in the revised law, that the state may intervene if the child in question is not get­ting an adequate education at home. But the key provision will vest priority for the child’s edu­cation in his or her parents’ hands, where it belongs.

Most parents will be only too happy to leave instruction in matters such as arithmetic in the hands of professional teach­ers. But a lot of them will draw the line at having their children taught civics by tin-horn revolu­tionaries who confuse them­selves with Patrick Henry.

William Rusher is an accomplished author, former publisher of the National Review and former vice chairman of the American Conservative Union.

 

 

April 14, 2008

Anchor Rising picks up NEA story

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 4:51 pm

The statewide political blog, Anchor Rising has picked up the Mary Botelle versus NEA story.

 

 

April 10, 2008

Sweet little old lady from Hopkinton (Mary Botelle) defeats NEA

Filed under: Corruption,Unions — Editor @ 2:30 pm

Actually, I’ve never met her, so I don’t know if she is little or sweet (but I think so) and old is relative, but here is the letter from Mary Botelle.  In the last post, I referenced this letter that destroys the NEA’s bogus complaint filed with the Labor Relations Board against this blog – describing how it “should be considered a form of intimidation to suppress freedom of speech.” 

The teacher’s union has wasted your tax dollars for 7 months with this frivolous complaint and they unceremoniously dropped it on April 4th (did I mention it has been 7 months).  Coincidentally, doing so on that date meant that it would not be available for the Chariho itinerary that was posted for the public.  It was slipped into our packet on the day of the meeting.

Mrs. Botelle is also one of the people who showed us how poorly the Chariho Act had been put together – actually it was put together three times and we still don’t have a completed version – (Deb Carney is also a champion in this regard)  – and yes, by the same solicitor who was representing Chariho against the NEA.  The solicitor Barry Ricci suggested that we hire. 

Thank you, Mrs. Botelle – God bless.

Mary Botelle page 1

Mary Botelle page 2

Mary Botelle page 3

NEA drops complaint

April 8, 2008

A rough meeting

Filed under: not sure how to categorize this — Editor @ 11:08 pm

Tonight’s meeting didn’t go as planned.  I tried to speak about false rumors that have originated from the Committee.  

The first false rumor is that the NEA and Chariho are in “litigation.”  Mrs. Serra said we were in a “lawsuit” at a previous meeting.  Bob Petit wrote a letter in the Sun and ProJo saying that there was a “case” and we were in “litigation.”  It is flatly wrong.  But Chariho continues to hide the information in an executive session calling it “potential litigation.”  It is so misleading that it fooled two of our own Committee members.  And they have access to all the “confidential” information.

Mary Botelle wrote an incredible letter that butchered the Chariho solicitor for not recognizing simple law in regards to who and what the NEA compliant could be about (will post soon).  This is the same solicitor that Mrs. Botelle and former Charlestown Council president Deb Carney corrected after he stumbled through three versions of the Chariho Act (we still do not have an updated, current and approved version).   This is the same solicitor who Mr. Ricci suggested we hire.

The second rumor is that I got in a fight with my child’s teacher and was trying to get her fired.  All of which resulted in us removing our child from the District.  It is true that we withdrew our daughter.  However, the teacher could not have been aware of the accumulated issues that forced our decision.  She didn’t seem to understand the serious nature of what she said either. 

She saw nothing wrong with telling me that they report false scores and she made other statements including one that was most disturbing to me personally.  The reaction of the administration was the last straw.

The false rumor came about because Chairman Bill Day duscussed the issue with vice chairman Andy Polouski in public, after I asked Mr. Day to keep it private.  Mr. Day knew the real reason but admitted to spreading the gossip that there was a “tiff.”  I don’t know the full details of their conversation, and gosip does tend to get exagurated over time (maybe that’s why the Bible calls it a sin), but I am not trying to get the teacher fired and nothing was said to her then or at any other time, so there is no way any “tiff” or “fight” could have been reported from the teacher. 

It is an emotional issue and I had difficulty expressing myself correctly, and completely.  There is much more that I wanted to say.  Admittedly, I didn’t want to discuss what the teacher’s opinion of my child was, but Mr. Day started a false rumor and it had to be addressed. 

I need some time to collect my thoughts.  I apologize for my demeanor but I think Mrs. Serra crossed the line when she talked about my family months ago, and Mr. Day and Mr. Polouski have done far worse.  I’m sorry my emotions didn’t allow me to say everything that needs to be said, objectively.

One observer said that Kathy Perry, the Special Education Director, was seen smirking with a look that seemed to say, ‘good, we are getting to him.’

“Education” is far more than reading, math, etc…  It teaches life lessons and morals.  Mrs. Perry is one of many examples of lessons I will not allow them to teach to my child. 

 

The final point I made was in reaction to Mr. Petit’s letter in the Westerly Sun when he said that I missed too many meetings and then he referenced the stipend we are paid.  I know I wasn’t clear – so here is what I tried to say on that point.

Clearly, most of the board prefers that I come to as few meetings as possible.  Indeed, Mr. Polouski said he wished I would leave the district.  Mr. Petit was probably trying to say the taxpayers aren’t getting their moneys worth.  So here is my pledge:

Anyone who will start a 501 c 4 that advocates for FULL PARENTAL CHOICE in education – I will put that stipend into a matching fund grant for that mission, inclusive of a portion in seed money for a specific project (details can follow).  I am guaranteed $6000 till the end of this term, and another $8000 for each subsequent term.  I will do it as long as it takes.  I bet there are other Committee members in other districts that would do the same.

I have spoken with the director of the Rose and Milton Friedman Foundation, Rob Enrow, and the organization is willing to speak with us in that effort.  I too would gladly share the information I have found on this subject and what resources I may have available.  I would very much like to have an agenda item on the Hopkinton Town Council to begin the discussion of this option. 

In closing, I have to say I hate what happened tonight.  I hate having to defend my family in public (Bob Walsh, director of the NEA pulled this sh** too).  I hate having to always be the one who must prove the point when others go unchecked.  This is why these committees end up with all “like minded” people.   Real reform is run out of town by self-selection.  Nobody likes being under fire.  But they will learn that I will not quit and I will get stronger.  And now I’m getting angry.

Now that I’ve said it sucks – it could be better with more help.  Seats will be available at the November election (must apply by June).  Until we get school choice, we have to operate in the system we have.  We can make a difference.  I don’t want to shift power on the Committee, I want to remove that power and place it in the hands of the parent. 

 

PS. The new bond vote will go forward without Hopkinton’s blessing.   

PSS.  The NEA has unceremoniously dropped the “complaint.”  The letter from the NEA was not in our packet when delivered and not on the public notice.  It was slipped into our update packet when we arrived at the meeting.  7 months of your tax dollars at work – and Mr. Petit and Mr. Ricci blame me for this cost.

 

 

April 7, 2008

Tuesday’s meeting

Filed under: meeting notice — Editor @ 10:19 pm

There is a School Committee meeting tomorrow night.  There are several interesting agenda items.  You can find the public agenda at the Chariho website (see link on right).

Item D

Approval to submit legislation authorizing referendum on building plan (moving forward with a new vote on the bond). 

this is expecially important considering a phone call I just got from Mr. Scott Hirst who said that the Hopkin Town Council will be telling the local legislators that they do not want the bond going forward.  In our packet, there is a letter from Senator Breene that says the legislation must be prepared by the town’s bond council. 

So can we assume (someone with more history please help me out here) that if the Hopkinton Town Council does not want the bond going forward, it can simply refuse to allow its bond council to write the legislation.  Or is the bond council employed by the three towns collectively and would Hopkinton have veto power?  We can assume Richmond is supportive as this agenda item originated with a Hopkinton resolution.  Not sure where Charlestown sits.

There is also an item for my request to support the Govenor’s initiative to make contracts more transparent.  An item on Hopkinton’s request to change the payment schedule (this deserves more attention than I can give it right now, please feel free to expand).  And a discussion to support House Bill 7108 which would not allow health care providers a monopoly through contract provision (this shows the connection between unions, specifically the AFL-CIO and Blue Cross Blue Shield – google Frank Montanaro for both).

Test scores and a few other items will also be discussed. 

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