Chariho School Parents’ Forum

August 30, 2008

SAT rankings

Filed under: Student Performance — Editor @ 1:09 pm

Thanks to our friends at Anchorrising for compiling this spreadsheet. 

Public School SAT Scores by State Ranking

  Reading Math Writing Cumulative
Iowa 607 621 588 1816
Minnesota 599 610 579 1788
South Dakota 605 602 580 1787
Illinois 588 613 582 1783
Wisconsin 590 611 580 1781
Missouri 593 598 579 1770
North Dakota 592 607 566 1765
Michigan 579 602 570 1751
Kansas 582 593 566 1741
Utah 586 583 564 1733
Nebraska 577 583 563 1723
Tennessee 573 570 564 1707
Oklahoma 575 575 555 1705
Arkansas 575 570 559 1704
Colorado 566 577 555 1698
Kentucky 566 573 550 1689
Louisiana 568 567 553 1688
Wyoming 563 579 543 1685
Mississippi 569 550 559 1678
Alabama 562 558 551 1671
Montana 544 552 526 1622
New Mexico 545 536 524 1605
Idaho 539 541 515 1595
Ohio 529 543 514 1586
Washington 522 531 505 1558
Vermont 521 523 507 1551
Oregon 518 525 497 1540
Alaska 521 523 495 1539
Massachusetts 507 520 505 1532
Arizona 514 521 496 1531
New Hampshire 513 516 502 1531
Connecticut 503 507 506 1516
Virginia 508 510 496 1514
West Virginia 509 499 495 1503
California 494 513 493 1500
New Jersey 492 514 493 1499
North Carolina 492 511 478 1481
Maryland 490 498 490 1478
Indiana 492 505 477 1474
Nevada 495 504 474 1473
Pennsylvania 490 500 478 1468
Florida 492 495 475 1462
New York 484 503 475 1462
Texas 484 502 476 1462
Georgia 486 490 477 1453
South Carolina 484 496 471 1451
Rhode Island 483 487 479 1449
Delaware 482 483 471 1436
Maine 463 462 456 1381
Hawaii 456 473 441 1370

August 27, 2008

pay up or get out!

Filed under: Unions — Editor @ 9:03 pm

There was a great OpEd in the ProJo today regarding forced union dues for teachers.

With billions of dollars to play with, teacher unions wield significant influence and power. Unfortunately, too much of it is directed toward partisan political activity and controversial social agendas which are not directly related to the classroom. Often union political spending is at odds with the personal or professional views of many union members.

For example, the NEA recently vowed it will spend more than $40 million this year on political races, and pledged another $500,000 of teachers’ dues to a universal-health-care advocacy coalition. The NEA has been called an arm of the Democratic National Committee, having granted millions of dollars to a litany of liberal organizations. Furthermore, over the past 15 years the NEA has given over 90 percent of its PAC money to Democratic candidates.

According to an NEA survey by Michigan-based Star Research in 2005, 50 percent of NEA members considered themselves politically “conservative” or “tend conservative.” Only 40 percent described themselves as “liberal” or “leaned liberal.”

Why the disconnect between members’ political views and NEA spending? Two words: forced dues. Teachers cannot withdraw their financial support to hold the union accountable.

The whole piece is worth the read.

This follows nicely to the piece recently published at Anchorrising – It takes a thief (lobbyist)

August 26, 2008

“Chariho Forever!”

Filed under: Charlestown — Editor @ 7:25 pm

That quip comes from Andy Polouski at the Charlestown meeting Monday night discussing their plans to withdraw from Chariho.

From the Westerly Sun:

CHARLESTOWN — After a rumble of misunderstand­ing about how its report was originally released, the Ad Hoc Withdrawal Committee presented its findings to the Town Council last night in a congenial workshop, where there was much agreement about the problems facing the Chariho Regional School District.
Emphasizing more than once that his committee sought a long-term solution to what it perceives as a long­term problem, Giancarlo Cicchetti said that the best option for Charlestown would be to eventually fully with­draw from the regional dis­trict and create its own kindergarten through grade 12 school system.
The primary problem with
the regional district is entrenched political differ­ences over funding between the three towns, which has resulted in the defeat of need­ed bond referendums, Cicchetti said. Seeing no reprieve from this stalemate in the future, Cicchetti said the best way to secure Charlestown’s educational future is for the town to go it alone.
At that point, Cicchetti
attempted to show render­ings of a new Charlestown school campus that were developed by Newport Collaborative Architects, but James Mageau, the Council’s acting president, objected.
“I think we’re getting off track here,’’ said Mageau.
Mageau said he did not want to give voters the impression that Charlestown
had decided to split away from the district when this decision was still “prema-t­ure,’’ especially when their support is needed for a $25­million Chariho bond on the ballot this November. The bond money is slated to bring Chariho’s Richmond campus up to code and elim­inate the need for having classes in trailers.
“I don’t want to confuse the public,’’ said Mageau.
In his opinion, Charlestown should only consider withdrawing from the regional district if the bond questions fail and if the town is unsuccessful in get­ting Hopkinton to be more supportive of the regional district, Mageau said. On the latter point, Mageau said he wants to explore the idea of suing Hopkinton for breach of contract for failing to approve needed bond ref­erendums.
“Hopkinton has never been supportive of the dis­trict,’’ Mageau said, noting Hopkinton voters last November refused to pass a bond question to repair the schools.
At the end of the work­shop, the council did look at the architect’s renderings, but not before it was firmly established that the first order of business was con­vincing voters to approve the bond questions and, to that end, enlightening Hopkinton voters about the value of being part of the Chariho district.
“The people of Hopkinton must be educated about how lucky they are to have two other towns share the cost of educating their children,’’ said Andy Polouski, vice chairman of the Chariho School Committee, who spoke when the workshop was opened up for public comment.
Hopkinton could never afford to educate their chil­dren by itself, said Polouski adding, “I hope the people of Hopkinton are smart enough to stand up and not destroy the most valuable asset they have.’’
“Chariho forever!’’ Polouski said before leaving the podium.
Regarding the issue of withdrawal, councilwoman Harriett Allen asked the Ad Hoc Committee what they had concluded about the idea of partial withdrawal — in other words, leaving Charlestown students in the regional high school, but bringing the younger grades back to town. From talking to people in the three towns
over the years, Allen said she has the impression that everyone wants their kids to go to the high school, but they want the younger ones closer to home.
“That just screams partial withdrawal,’’ she said.
The committee studied that option and concluded it wouldn’t work for the same reason it concluded that full withdrawal was Charles­town’s best recourse — polit­ical differences would pre­vent the three towns from funding such as system, said Cicchetti, a member of the school committee.
Toward the end of the workshop, Cicchetti sought to get the Council on record as saying they support the withdrawal plan, even though no vote can be taken
during a workshop. If and when withdrawal comes about, it would expedite pro­ceedings with the state if longstanding Council sup­port could be shown, he said. But then the reality facing this council surfaced: Some of them may not be re-elect­ed in November. Cicchetti called this “unfortunate tim­ing.’’ But councilwoman Katharine Waterman said she was willing to go on record saying the following: “I would like to see Chariho remain strong; how­ever, I have very little faith in its ability to do so,’’ she said.
If Hopkinton voters don’t approve this November’s bond questions, Waterman said it would be time to “move on.’’

August 20, 2008

Study on school choice

Filed under: School Choice — Editor @ 6:01 pm

The Friedman Foundation released a study today on the Ohio school choice program.

INDIANAPOLIS (August 20, 2008 ) — A study of the new Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship program’s effect on public schools has found academic gains among students in participating public schools; this suggests that the threat of competition and losing students is causing these public schools to improve their academic outcomes, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and several Ohio and national educational organizations announced today.

The rest of the PR is up on the OSPRI blog or, along with the study, at Friedman.

August 19, 2008

School Committee meeting

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 5:50 pm

There is a school committee meeting this evening.  I came home a little early to read the packet and Kat “reminded” me that it is our anniversary.  So I looked over the packet and only see a couple of items that I would try to fight – and surely get outvoted on anyway –  so I’m taking the night off.  

But here are the items of concern, we will see what happens.   Not sure if George Abbott will be there.  He is pretty good at standing up for most issues – although, one of my concerns is about the upcoming bond flyer and he does support the bond.  And Bob does say he wants contract reforms, so lets see what happens.

1.  There is a sub committee on contract negotiations.  I think everyone knows where I stand here. 
A.  Make the negotiations public. (the items below are redundant if the public has input)
B.  Merit pay for all employees.
C.  Benefits should mirror the private sector.  (i.e. No more steps and double digit raises – remember, even after all the talk of contract reform last year, the support personnel contract was signed giving those on steps an average of a 9.5% salary increases).
D.  More management authority – principals are on the front lines, they should be able to hire and fire at will.

Just think about this – and I think RS has said it  before too.  The unions get to review and get input from their membership before the contract is ratified.  Indeed, the membership MUST approve (by vote) the new contract.  However, the public (The ones who pay the bills), are kept in the dark during the process, and not given any input until after the deal is signed.  WHY CANT THE PUBLIC VOTE ON THE CONTRACT JUST LIKE THE UNIONS?

2.  The committee will vote to approve the Annual Report. 
I cant read all the data on the copy but am told the data is on RIDE (if someone can find it please let me know and I will post – if not, Donna at Chariho said she could get me the address). 

One point of concern with the report is the layout – just a bit misleading in my opinion.  Each school has a page with its picture and under the picture is a box that says: “This School is Classified As: “High Performing”.  This box is also at the bottom of the page.  However, for the High School, there is no box on the top.  Could it be because this is the school classified as “Caution”

Secondly, and more of a curiosity than anything, is the listing for RYSE.  It is listed as “High Performing and Commended” – and says that 81.3% of grade 9-12 students are proficient in math.  Didn’t we just see a report that said it was 8%???  (I would look it up but I’m under some serious time constraints this evening – getting the evil eye soon).  RYSE is actually the highest ranking school in the district – go figure!

3.  Also up for approval is the Campus 2010 “FACT SHEET”
I’m guessing this will be this year’s sales flyer (remember the “Its time to..” brochure).  It does look less like a sales pitch but there is one bit that is lacking.  It says, “Chariho (sic) was completed in 1960 with a capacity of 700 students.  Even with previous expansions, today’s 1250 students are crowded in a facility with a failing infrastructure.”

First question is what were the expansions.  What is capacity and how much space is used for offices, etc…

Most importantly, at $14,000 per student why cant we manage to keep our buildings from falling apart.  Look at St. Pius or the group in Stonington – all under $5000 per student and they aren’t falling apart.

4.  Abbott and Polouski requested to have “Correspondence/Communications” placed on each agenda.  It used to be that way – so when the district got a letter, or if a board member wanted to tell us about something from a constituent, it could be discussed at that time.  The new solicitor has sent a letter saying it is a bad idea to do this.  His thought process is that we might violate some notification rule by speaking about someone not present.  Of course, we did this for years and it wasnt changed until the recent rewrite (where they tried to completely restrict our access to information – look over the changes that were posted here previously).

Item 4 is the only one where I might have an impact.  Clearly, the board is going to do what it wants with the other issues.  But with Polouski being for the change, its possible to get enough votes to do it.  That one I am sorry I am missing.

Then again, the last time we had Polouski on the right side and had the votes to do something (the time we voted to stop the administrators contracts), they just ignored us anyway.  So, I’ll take the night off and enjoy myself.  I’ll post the scans soon.

Making tests matter

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 2:28 pm

Over at the “progressive” blog, RI Future, they have posted information on the upcoming hearing at the Board of Regents regarding the change in test requirements.  Angus Davis provided some info for use before.  No surprise, they are against the change. 

The Board of Regents will meet to consider mandating that standardized NECAP tests count for 1/3 of the graduation requirements from high school.Currently, in order to meet the requirements for high school graduation, a student must complete 24 credits and a senior project or digital portfolio.New regulations propose that graduation requirements be fulfilled through three parts, with each being weighed equally:

1- 24 Course Credits (or Carnegie Units);

2- Senior project or digital portfolio; and

3- NECAP tests in Reading, Writing, and Math.  These tests must be passed with proficiency.

There are many downsides to this proposal.  Special education students will be hurt the most, as NECAP tests are not aligned with IEPS.

The Board of Regents will hold two meetings to consider the proposal- the first is a workshop on Wednesday, August 27, from 4-6 in Room 501 of the Shepard Building (255 Westminster Street, Providence), with the vote scheduled for Wednesday, September 3rd at 4:00 in Room 501 of the Shepard Building.

If you are concerned about these changes, please attend the meetings!  

While their point is similar to LB’s concern – it seems that we should be able to find a way to make testing more important for those who benefit from it and appropriately important for those with IEP’s.

August 18, 2008

“As you know, NECAP is only given in NE, so its hard to compare the results on a national level. “

Filed under: Student Performance — Editor @ 11:10 pm

This quote is from one of the “Chariho Parent” monikers.  He/she is correct – only NH, VT and RI use NECAP and VT only reports 3-8 averages and grade 11.  But he/she is wrong that its hard to compare, but they wouldn’t know that as it hasn’t been publicized yet.

Technically, if you add up all the individual school NECAP scores and average them, it should equal the NAEP score. That’s the purpose of the test, to show progress towards NCLB.  Unfortunately, the NECAP does not equate to the NAEP.  Not even close.  Call it grade inflation, dumbing down, whatever.  Preliminary research shows MA as the only coming close.

“26 teaching positions have been eliminated”

Filed under: Corruption,Unions — Editor @ 10:46 pm

I saw a comment from Bob Petit saying “26 teaching positions have been eliminated”  

I’m not picking him out for saying this at all – I first heard Supt Ricci say it so we should assume that Bob heard it at the same time.  We should ask Ricci if that means that total employees were reduced by 26. 

Someone with more historical knowledge can correct me but I think Ricci became Supt in 2005.  According to NCES, Chariho had 566.2 Full Time Equivilents (FTE) in the 05-06 school year. 

The 06-07 payroll has 556 full time employees and 40 part time employees.  Technically, we have people classified as full time with as little as 28 hours (thats 2 good days for some of us) – but most full time positions re 35 hours. 

The 40 PT employees average 19.5 hrs.  So, even using a “liberal” interpretation of what constitutes an FTE, we can assume there are an additional 20 FTE’s in the part times (39 hrs).  That gives us a total of 576 FTE in the 06-07 school year.  An increase of 10 employees from the previous year (the first year of Ricci’s term).

It is a year later and I do miss quite a few meetings so its possible I haven’t noticed, but for the “26 teaching positions have been eliminated” to be true, we would have had to eliminate them all this year – plus the 10 we picked up last year.

Like I said in the beginning.  I’m not pointing this out to pick on Bob.  We were given this information, unfortunately, most (all?) board members don’t take the time to verify.  But even if they did, we would be told the data is wrong (remember the In$ight issue?).

August 17, 2008

What’s good for Westerly good for Chariho?

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 9:00 pm

The following letter is from the Sun. 

Rethink managers for school projects.

Not so quick on spending the taxpayers’ hard earned money. As I read last month’s article in the Westerly Sun, Mr. Patten was quoted as saying hire a pro­gram manager, a construction manager and an architect/engi­neer.
I’ll want to give you some good advice. Building a town garage versus renovating schools is night and day.
A program manager is a total waste of good dollars as all they do is status the work performed and answer questions to the building committee or school bond panel or school committee. They would charge somewhere around $500,000 to $1 million
on a $30 million project.
In the construction world, this is considered easy money and a sucker’s investment. They are used when committees want an easy way out to sit on the side­lines.
Why do you need a construc­tion manager? On a $30 million project, the town’s cost will be somewhere around $3 million. Hire a few knowledgeable peo­ple to coordinate the renova­tions of these two buildings and put the money into the build­ings.
I’m sure A/Z and Gilbane are both good companies but always remember, they are in business to make as much money as pos­sible,
and they see towns like Westerly as easy game. I hope you are not considering hiring A/Z and Gilbane because they both were used in the past, and you people have become friends. Four million dollars might not mean much to you as it’s tax­payers’ money, but we are in a worldwide recession probably going into a depression. A lot of Westerly people do not know how they will pay for heating oil this winter. National Grid has raised electricity and natural gas rates, so have some compas­sion for the people.
Joseph Donahue Westerly

Transparency coming to a town near you

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 7:47 pm

In case you missed it…

Monitoring the “RI Factor” – Transparency long overdue in RI

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