Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 1, 2009

The Good Guys were robbed!

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 11:08 pm

I sincerely believe that something substantial could have been done regarding contract negotiations, but because of the shenanigans played at Chariho, we were robbed of our opportunity for reform.

 

There was a meeting the other day to discuss contact negotiations.  Unfortunately, they did not have a quorum and the meeting was adjourned.

 

IF I was still on the Committee, we (the good guys) would have had a sitting majority.  It is ironic that the degree of nepotism has resulted in a loss of power for those with conflicts.  Here’s how:

 

We are supposed to have 11 members.  We are down to 10 because of my predicament.

 

The chairperson, Holly Eaves doesn’t officially have a conflict (but she is going to school to become a teacher). The chair isn’t supposed to vote unless there is a tie anyway, so let’s look at the rest.

 

Of those 9 left, we now find there are 6 that have “conflicts of interest.” Some are still allowed to participate because of the following reasons (I bold those who did attend the meeting).

 

1. Vice Chairman Bob Petit – cousin of Director of Business Admin, Brian Stanley, but because Stanley’s contract is separate from both the teachers and support personnel, Petit participates in this negotiation.

2. Andy Polouski – niece in teachers’ contract (so he participates in support personnel contract – not at this meeting)

3. Andy McQuade – aunt in support contract (so he DOES participate in teachers’ contract and was at the meeting).

4. Bill Day – wife on support contract, son on teacher contract – so not at meeting,

5. Michelle Cole – I’m told she is awaiting a ruling from the Board of Ethics because of a relative or other relation – so she has recused while waiting – not at meeting.

6. Terry Serra – not sure what her connection is but she didn’t go because of some ‘conflict of interest’

 

7. Richard Vecchio – no conflicts – did go

8. Deb Carney  – no conflicts – did go

9. George Abbott – no conflicts – did not go

 

First of all, do you see any pattern between the first 6 and the next 3?  Looks like the way most votes fall – but that doesn’t have anything to do with these conflicts, right?

 

But getting back to the meeting, here are the ones who were there.

 

Holly Eaves

Bob Petit

Andy McQuade

Richard Vecchio

Deb Carney

 

Imagine that list if I was still allowed on the Committee and the chair doesn’t vote.

 

Bob Petit

Andy McQuade

Richard Vecchio

Deb Carney

Bill Felkner

 

We would have had 3 to 2 and could have totally changed the contract plan.  No seniority system. Merit pay – no rollover contracts – etc, etc, etc, etc,,,,,,

 

OPEN CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS!!!!!

 

Is there a resident out there who feels as though they have been robbed of this opportunity?  You have standing and this is a specific instance where my presence would have made a difference. 

If you wanted open contract negotiations, this was our opportunity.

 

 

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75 Comments »

  1. You do realize that you are talking about negotiations and not ultimatums, right? You can propose a contract to the teachers but they will make counter proposals. You cannot force then to take whatever you put on the table. This is not a “take-it-or-leave-it” situation. They do have rights too, you know? If you remove seniority, they will just reinstate it. The same goes for merit pay, rollover contracts, $70,000 kindergarten teachers and the rest. And if you refuse to make any concessions, they will refuse to make any concessions. And then they will go on strike and then there will be arbitration and the arbiter will use the previous dozen contracts as a source of precedent and nothing will really change. You do realize this, right?

    And I really don’t see how open contract negotiations are going to change a whole heck of a lot. It’s a good idea, but I really think you are putting way too much faith in an “open process” to solve Chariho’s problems. It is not a bad thing, but it’s not a solution either.

    Comment by James Hobler — January 1, 2009 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

  2. I would welcome the NEA saying they will go on strike unless we continue the seniority step system that gives half the teachers (whether they are good or not) a 10+% raise every year.

    And the union doesn’t have to agree to open meetings. Its the Committee’s decision what they do, not what the NEA does. And we disagree on the impact.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 2, 2009 @ 12:41 am | Reply

  3. Their are financial realities that have to be considered. While there are lots of things that we would all like to see, there isn’t the money to pay for them.

    An arbitrator can recommend what they will, but as seen in East Prov, the SC doesn’t have to accept it. Unfortunately, the economy is bad for all of us, the teachers have to share the pain.

    Moreover, the record shows the Chariho students don’t perform as we expect for the money we spend. Something needs to change …

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 2, 2009 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  4. Amen to that, Gene… This is what we should be focusing on, not some stupid plowing accident.

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 2, 2009 @ 10:59 am | Reply

  5. Hi!
    George Abbott, is usually dependable, but talking to him, I believe he was under the weather that night. The media should do a story on when a conflict is really a conflict. Conflicts of interests are legally defined relationships regardless how “close” you are in a personal way to someone. You can have close friend and don’t have a business or family relationship with that person and still have a bias that benefits them in voting.
    Can’t wait until I hear, how Bill makes out in court this morning, and at this time must already be decided.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 2, 2009 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  6. Hi!
    On the computer I am using is an hour earlier than recorded and reported for this blog. Have any of you noticed that?
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 2, 2009 @ 12:03 pm | Reply

  7. Hi!
    I recall it is not required in the Chariho Act for a Chair not to vote unless their is a tie. It is a practice which can be changed by choice of the Chair. I will stand corrected if I am wrong on that. Even the Speaker of the United States of America votes as he is a Member of the U.S. House,. Of course the Vice President of the U.S., who is not a member of the United States Senate but President of it votes only is there is a tie. Every member of the school committee represents a constituency, in the Chariho case one of three towns.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 2, 2009 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

  8. Still waiting in court, not decided yet.

    Robert’s Rules does generally prohibet the chair from voting unless there’s a tie, part of being neutral, etc.

    Time has been that way, daylight savings issue.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 2, 2009 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  9. Gene,
    I assume you went today? A good question is does the chair normally vote in school committee meetings in Rhode Island?
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 2, 2009 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  10. Still here waiting.

    The Chair voting is not a particularly important distinction as they can always vote to break a tie for passage or vote to create a tie to defeat. There are a few odd parlimentary situation where it’s more complicated, they’re extremely rare.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 2, 2009 @ 1:32 pm | Reply

  11. From http://www.robertsrules.com/faq.html#1

    Question 1:
    Is it true that the president can vote only to break a tie?

    Answer:
    No, it is not true that the president can vote only to break a tie. If the president is a member of the assembly, he or she has exactly the same rights and privileges as all other members have, including the right to make motions, speak in debate and to vote on all questions. However, the impartiality required of the presiding officer of an assembly (especially a large one) precludes exercising the right to make motions or debate while presiding, and also requires refraining from voting except (i) when the vote is by ballot, or (ii) whenever his or her vote will affect the result.

    When will the chair’s vote affect the result? On a vote which is not by ballot, if a majority vote is required and there is a tie, he or she may vote in the affirmative to cause the motion to prevail. If there is one more in the affirmative than in the negative, he or she can create a tie by voting in the negative to cause the motion to fail. Similarly, if a two-thirds vote is required, he or she may vote either to cause, or to block, attainment of the necessary two thirds.

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 2, 2009 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  12. OK, now we know the Robert’s Rule, but what rules and policies and procedures does the Chariho SC follow. I distinctly remember when Carey had the RRO book, Anderson said something to the effect, “Well there are more policies and procedures to follow than just RRO.” Guess I will write the SC and ask exactly what the procedures are they follow.

    Comment by RS — January 2, 2009 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  13. There’s a link on the Chariho site to a document that describes their procedures.it’s short, they mostly leverage Robert’s.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 2, 2009 @ 2:18 pm | Reply

  14. Does anyone believe impartiality exists? Not just talking about the School Committee, but just about any government body. I would prefer the chair vote so his/her position on issues is clear. Not fair to the voters to have limited information on where their representative stands on the issues.

    Mr. Hirst, posts have been an hour off for some time. The problem is likely with the blog settings.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 2, 2009 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  15. Bill F. has to change the blog settings manually.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 2, 2009 @ 2:29 pm | Reply

  16. Are you talking about Section 1 of the District Policies and Procedures??? I don’t see much in there about the rules of conducting a meeting. If RRO is the only document to guide the SC, then why would Anderson bring up “other policies” when debating with Carey at the December 9 meeting when she read from the RRO book she had with her ??

    Comment by RS — January 2, 2009 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

  17. They pretty much make it up as they go along. They’ve ignored Robert’s Rules of Order on Moving the Question a few times. Doesn’t seem to bother them a whit. They also passed some rules of their own last year and I believe Mr. Anderson referenced these rules. Most of the rules they employ seem designed to quell dissent and stymie public discussion.

    I’ve yet to hear them vote to unseal any minutes from past Executive Sessions. Do sealed minutes remain secret forever?

    The School Committee needs a solicitor who respects the public. Instead they have one who conspires with them to keep the Chariho gravy train running. Too bad most voters don’t care.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 2, 2009 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

  18. Get behind Bill, heck I’m in Foster with your $$. I get paid whether what town wins, I win, thanks John P.

    Comment by Barry — January 2, 2009 @ 4:39 pm | Reply

  19. Maybe I am confused. I thought that arbitration was usually binding. Mediation is not. So if it goes to an arbiter, then we have to do what is agreed upon? I thought i forced everyones hand?

    Comment by James Hobler — January 2, 2009 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

  20. You tell us JH, you are the only one who mentioned arbitration here. Bf was simply stating the missed opportunity for open negotiations which does not require an arbitrator.
    I also think you place too much confidence in the hands of the arbitrator, they take into account the economic conditions surrounding the collective bargaining enviroment. Do you need reminding of the current economic conditions and the property tax caps now in place. These conditions have not been in place for most of the previous contract periods.

    Comment by RS — January 2, 2009 @ 11:40 pm | Reply

  21. Chariho can only be saved by a change in public sentiment. Heck, I went to Chariho, but my loyalty ended when I realized Chariho of today is a threat to my child’s future educational success. Open negotiation will make more people take notice of Chariho priorities. When more of the public begin to see the adults putting their own interest high above education, then perhaps they will hold Chariho to account.

    Open negotiations means the public actually gets informed about what contracts mean for us now and in the future. Most of us here recognize how ridiculous contracts already are…and you can be sure the union wants even more. Perhaps publicizing demands will temper the unions lust for more, more, more? At the very least, those of us paying the freight have a right to monitor additional raids on our wallets.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 3, 2009 @ 2:54 am | Reply

  22. Yes, I did mention arbitration because that is likely what will happen if negotiations break down. I have no doubt the unions will be willing to make some compromise in this economic climate. Just look at what happened at the state level, Council 94 made a bunch of concessions. But it took 2 tries and when you look at the contract they ultimately got, I don’t think the state made much progress at all. But don’t interpret my words to think I have any confidence in an arbiter, rather the opposite. I do think an arbiter will give the unions most of what they want. I read an article in the Sun lately when DiLibero (the Hopkinton TM) talked about chipping away at the union contracts slowly. I’m not sure if he has actually done any chipping, but it seems like the most likely way to get the contracts in line.

    Comment by James Hobler — January 3, 2009 @ 10:24 am | Reply

  23. All I see when I read any data about the State unions(94, etc) is a state with the largest deficit it has ever faced in history….how come you pro union can’t do anything wrong, we are always right guys neglect to ever mention this in your arguments. By the way, I am also a union member, so I do know the game…..but bankrupting your paycheck is not considered a win in my book. That’s the problem with those who feed from the government trough, they do not have a realistic view of how business models work and they don’t mind fleecing the taxpayers for there own greed.

    Lets see what happens in EP with the negotiations. How much of “your union dues” will they spend fighting the slide into bankruptcy….yeh towns can and do file bankruptcy.

    Chipping = JOKE……you can’t chip your way out of a half a billion dollar (state) deficit, it takes real cuts and real cuts are painful. There is nothing fun about it for anyone, but it is the reality we face. So go back to your union and tell them the days of chocking the golden egg laying goose are over and get realistic.

    Comment by RS — January 3, 2009 @ 11:13 am | Reply

  24. We can’t afford to “chip”. In reading the information Mr. Felkner posted about East Providence, sounds like both sides have to agree to arbitration. The East Providence School Committee is implementing salary and benefit reductions with no agreement from the union. Apparently an employer doesn’t need the permission or approval of the employee.

    I’m not a member of a union, and my employer can call me tomorrow and inform me my pay and benefits have been reduced. I have the option to quit, but can’t force my employer to pay what I want them to pay me. I too read Mr. DiLibero’s comments in the Rag. Hopkinton should fire him based on his ‘chip away” philosophy. While our town government runs comparatively lean compared to most, the attitude of chipping away is not a good one to take into contract negotiations. We need an axe.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 3, 2009 @ 11:14 am | Reply

  25. I would seriously like the data on the GIS postion and the Municipal Court that has been instituted under DiLibero. I think the taxpayers should demand to see how much money this has saved us, because when it was proposed, it was for cost savings.

    Obviously the arbitration in EP was non binding which is perfectly legal if agreed to by both sides. Which it would have been before the process began. Now watch the union cry foul because they don’t like the outcome of what they agreed to. Some labor laws freeze the last contract(i.e. railway labor act), but the unions representing the teachers do not have this protection(as far as I know).

    Comment by RS — January 3, 2009 @ 11:28 am | Reply

  26. I’m not pro-union or anti-union. Unions have a perfectly good reason to exist and union members have rights, as do citizens that pay the salaries of union members. But I think you want to work with the unions, not antagonize them and put them on the defensive. It just makes the work harder in the long run, if you start fighting with them from the get-go. Even the Governor knows you can’t use an axe and expect to have the unions do you a favor. I think the unions are more willing to compromise during this economy. And I think they will probably make a lot of compromises in the East Providence scenario. But before it happens, there will be lawsuits and the EP School Board will not be able to implement everything they want.

    Yes, unions can often bankrupt their industry, Detroit is a really good example. And so are the airlines. I would hate to work for an airline or a cargo carrier. I feel sorry for those folks, airlines are shrinking left and right and people are being laid off and their salaries cut. And how does this impact customer service? If you lose 10% of your salary, all the sudden you are going to be working-to-rule. Company reputation suffers and so do profits, its a downward spiral. You can beat up the teachers all you want, to a degree they deserve some of it, but it’s not going to be pretty and everyone is going to lose something. How is any teacher going to feel coming into work, knowing that their parents are taking away 10% of their salary? I knew a woman on a RI School Board up north that actually had to take her kids out of school because of the backlash of cutbacks.

    Comment by James Hobler — January 3, 2009 @ 7:50 pm | Reply

  27. There is a major difference between unions serving private company employees and unions serving government employees. Private industry succeeds or fails based on their ability to provide products and services which consumers value. Government entities take money from the workers and there isn’t any control mechanism like profit to keep spending in line with value.

    In the case of schools, they regularly fail to deliver, yet they consistently reward failing employees. There is no motivation to succeed.

    Mr. Felkner has publically stated that he will be working for school choice from both his School Committee position and his Town Council seat. I think choice is the only solution to the problems of government schools. Choice is used worldwide where money follows students rather than being dumped solely into government schools regardless of their failures. The U.S. cannot continue to allow our children to fall further and further behind our global competition.

    While we wait for Americans to come to their senses we must take a tough stance against government school spending. We can’t afford the status quo any longer. Chipping away while 10% of Rhode Islanders are unemployed is a fool’s game. Chipping away while local families are losing their homes is unacceptable. East Providence officials are leading the way. I hope we are smart enough to follow. I doubt it.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 3, 2009 @ 8:13 pm | Reply

  28. I’m not sure how much worse the educational system can fail us, 2/3 are aleady achieving below proficient. What I don’t understand is why this is acceptable to the rank and file, are we really pleased with this level of performance ??
    What if your surgeon was only 1/3 successful, the pilot flying you on vacation only 1/3 proficient, the roof on your house only keeps it 1/3 dry, your appliances only work 1/3 of the time….on and on.
    Would peole tolerate this sort of behavior….NO, the people providing these services and making and selling these products would be out of a job pronto.
    So why do we allow our childrens one shot at being educated to the best of their ability to be squandered away with hardly a whisper. We should be shouting at the top of our lungs, demanding the entire educational system be held accountable, yet we come here and spend more time worrying about a $5k fine the SC might have to pay for its illegal activities meanwhile they are stealing our childrens future.
    Nobody wants public workers to go to the poor house, we just want accountability, transparency, and openness. If this means the broken pieces(non performing workers) are culled from the trainwreck(Chariho), then so be it. My childrens education is more important than maintaining the status quo.
    I have yet to see anyone stand up and defend the record of 2/3 not proficient vs $53+ mil budget.

    WHY ??

    It is simply indefensible.

    Comment by RS — January 3, 2009 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  29. I don’t want you to think I am defending the teachers. I am not. I’ve heard a lot of stupid things going on in Chariho. But if you want to know why 2/3 of the kids are not proficient, just look to the parents. And I am as bad as everyone else. Too much else to do, too may other jobs to finish, life moving too fast, too much TV, etc. We don’t discipline our kids and we don’t sit down and make sure they know how to read, how to spell etc. If every parent spent 20 minutes a day with their kids doing homework or teaching them something, all the kids would be proficient. But we don’t. Teachers can only do some much. Yeah, I think they could be doing better but even the poor aspects (like the bad math curriculum) are not their fault. That is all on Ricci.

    And only 1/3 of my appliances work, as a matter of fact. Dishwasher (Maytag) is always broken and the washing machine is on the fritz more than it works. This would not have been the case in 1950. Most of what we import and build nowadays is crap or plain garbage. I had to go to Home Depot 3 times to find a shower head that worked, this past week. It’s a sign of modern America, it’s all crap and our children’s educations are no different. Why do you think malpractice law is so lucrative? Crappy doctors. I think the sickness here is bigger than just the local school system.

    Comment by James Hobler — January 3, 2009 @ 11:15 pm | Reply

  30. I cannot argue with the facts you state about some parents. This is one of the reasons some of us push for vouchers or other alternatives to care for our childrens education. We do not want to place our children into a broken system.

    Comment by RS — January 3, 2009 @ 11:42 pm | Reply

  31. The difference between Chariho and Maytag is you choose to use your money to buy a Maytag. With Chariho there is no choice. If someone required you to buy inferior product you’d be rightfully outraged, yet we are forced to pay for the inferior education Chariho delivers.

    As for parents, it is convenient to blame them, but we know wherever school choice is implemented academic outcomes usually improve…for both private and government school educated children. We can’t go into everyone home and make sure they are good parents (although RYSE tries its best). What we can do is insist that our government schools deliver superior education at a reasonable cost. Chariho fails at both.

    The majority of teachers are fine, but the majority of teachers also support a union which protects the bad apples among them. This willingness to go along with the union at the expense of children puts all teachers in a bad light. They are responsible for their union policies just as we (voters) are responsible for the School Committee members we elect. A child doesn’t need many terrible teachers to completely send them down a path of failure.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 4, 2009 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  32. I don’t believe it is an issue with parent involvement. That is something we have been told over and over by the supposed professionals, that people believe it to be a fact. Does parent involvement help? Yes! But, a quality curriculum is better.

    Case in point, the FUZZY math curriculum that has been dumped on our children. If it wasn’t for the ability of some parents to sacrifice their free time to fill in the holes this crap has left in the mind of their kids, then the proficiency rates would be even lower. If it wasn’t for some of the teachers who finally recognized the holes this crap has left, then certainly the proficiency rates would be lower. (Mind you, they are required to teach the curriculum, but they offset it with the old math.)

    The fact of the matter is that there are a great many parents who simply can’t afford to help their children with their homework because they are working extensive hours to just make ends meet. And after they finally get home from work and fix a meal, they are too exhausted to sit down and help kids with homework.

    Additionally, the job of teaching is for the teacher. Homework is suppose to give the children practice on work they have already been doing. Homework is reinforcement of work already discussed in class. I would be greatly concerned if a parent is actually teaching the student. That misses the point of homework. But, then that is the philosophy that has been imprinted in everyone’s mind. If you don’t help your kids with homework, then you must be a bad parent. That’s a load of manure.

    Curricula is very much being driven by philosophy. Fuzzy Math/Constructivist math was a philosophy. Problem is, they abandoned entirely tried and tested educational methods for an experiment.

    Whole Language was another philosophy driven educational movement that left a lot of children unable to read, because they abandoned the tried and tested educational methods for an experiment.

    Don’t get me wrong, there have been some excellent changes in education, but many changes were implemented to the extreme, in the process “abandoning” the old for the new.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 4, 2009 @ 2:29 am | Reply

  33. If you notice the international testing results, those countries that outperform the others are Asian. Does that make them superior? No! The curriculum does.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 4, 2009 @ 2:33 am | Reply

  34. I’m with Mrs. Buck. The blame the parents thing is a ruse to put us off the scent. Parents can help compensate for an inferior education, but it is the job of the school to teach academics, not parents.

    When I was in school I don’t recall one time my parents helping me with homework. Perhaps they did when I was much younger, but I don’t remember it ever happening.

    Inattentive parents is one more sorry excuse for Chariho’s failures. We pay among the highest per pupil costs in the country. We have ridiculously low student/teacher and student/school employee ratios. Yet Chariho fails to adequately educate the majority of children. This is unacceptable and if parents have fault, then it is their unwillingness to riot in the streets as their children’s education is being sacrificed to adult enrichment.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 4, 2009 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  35. I think you will find that the most successful students have extensive parent involvement. Whether it is homework or actually teaching the children material, it does not matter. I taught my daughter addition before she got to 1st grade, is there something wrong with that? She does better at math than any of her “cohorts” now because I push math. The teacher asked my wife, “Are you or your husband mathematicians?”. Nope, I just know that education is the most important thing in my child’s life and I make sure she knows it. When she gets home, I don’t ask, “What did you do today”. I ask, “What math did you do today?” My wife handles spelling and reading. In a classroom, there are 25 kids and one teacher. That teacher cannot possibly give 1-on-1 attention to each kid. But a parent can. Should we hire more teachers to reduce that ratio? I don’t think so.

    I agree that many parents simply can’t, there are too many demands. But having a parent there is like a private tutor and you can’t argue that getting 20-30 minutes of private tutoring a night isn’t going to make you more successful than the students that do not have it. Is it also the teachers responsibility to teach discipline, hygiene, religion? No, of course not. So shall we start blaming teachers because the kids are all brats? Or dirty? Or atheists?

    I do not think the lack of parent involvement is a ruse. Look at any inner city school, full of “parentless” kids. You can put any teacher you want in those classrooms and the kids are still never going to learn anything. Parent involvement is not an excuse for Investigations Math, but it does provide an additional reason for why we are failing. Kids that have no appreciation for learning and no parent-instilled motivation are doomed to fail, no matter how smart they are. Even the smart kids would rather play video games than learn. And plenty of parents use video games ad babysitters. It’s awful, but I admit to doing it too.

    A lot of people talk about “taking responsibility”. We get upset that the unions are “socialist”. That’s fine. It makes a certain amount of sense. But why should we let the state take sole responsibility for educating our children? Or even Prouts? Even if we chose the institution, should we completely abdicate our responsibility for our kids education? If we are truly going to take responsibility for ourselves and our children, we need to participate in their education. We need to participate in our community. We need to participate in our government. How much of any of that do we do?

    How many of you have been to a PTO meeting? It’s a simple thing that doesn’t even accomplish much, but have you even been to one?

    You can go it alone or you can have someone else do it, but you can’t complain that someone else isn’t doing a good enough job if you aren’t pulling your own weight.

    I’m sorry, but if you blame the teachers and take no responsibility yourself, where does that leave us? Most of us take personal responsibility for our safety, our health, our salary and our homes. Why not our kids education?

    Comment by James Hobler — January 4, 2009 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

  36. Oh, and if we’re going to use our own personal experience, Curious Resident, my mother helped me with my homework and made sure I did it every day. I earned me a ticket to an ivy league education and $100,000 in free tuition. I wouldn’t have brought it up because I know that not everyone’s situation is the same, not everyone’s life is the same, but if we’re resorting to personal anecdotes of the good old days…

    Should we fix Chariho? Yes, we should. But I seriously doubt that anything we do will substantially increase test scores unless we change parent behavior. Hell, most parents I see don’t even believe in discipline, never mind education.

    Comment by James Hobler — January 4, 2009 @ 10:14 pm | Reply

  37. So only the parents have a “responsibility” to their childs education. The school system has what ??

    Now lets discuss what responsibility goes along with receiving $53 million. The responsibility road is a two way street, at least in the real world.

    Comment by RS — January 4, 2009 @ 10:53 pm | Reply

  38. Those feeding on the public trough have the luxury of lacking responsibility, in the real world where one earns a living based on their performance and not protectionist contracts the ability to fault others only goes so far.

    Comment by RS — January 4, 2009 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  39. I wonder if the mothers of children who’s fathers are deployed around the world protecting our freedoms have the same luxury of time to teach their children as parents who are home at 5 everyday ? Or if the single parents who may have lost a spouse while deployed and has to work just to feed their family has the same luxury of time ? I guess I’ll call my mother tomorrow and found out if she was “responsible” when I was a child.

    Comment by RS — January 4, 2009 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

  40. Mr. Hobler,
    I never blamed the teachers. I blamed the curriculum. Most of the teachers I have ever come in contact with have been very professional, helpful, and seemingly knowledgeable.

    And, like CR, I did not have my mother or father questioning my homework or even helping me with it.

    Parenting has changed greatly since back then as well. I truly believe we had greater respect for our parents, so we did the work without argument.

    I applaud your abilities. Perhaps, you should consider the fact that you were a highly capable child. But, it is nice you respect your mother and give her a great deal of credit for your success.

    I believe that we have all been blessed with varying abilities. Over time, these abilities blossom with the right nurturing. I view the curriculum as the soil/fertilizer. Teachers are the gardeners. With great care, the children will bare fruit.

    The parents have the role of educating the children about responsibility, faith, respect, organization, survival, among a few things.

    The academic area should be the responsibility of the teachers. That is the main part of their responsibility. (That is not to say that parents cannot participate in the process, all the better for the children. They can be gardener, too, if they are able.)

    Please note above comment #32, I stated that parent involvement helps, but I firmly believe that curriculum changes and choices can be extremely hazardous to our children’s future. I gave examples.

    {I will give you warning regarding our history books. The publishers and writers are making little changes to them. These books influence the minds of our children. If they are inaccurate, whether by purposeful intention or by pure accident, damage can be done. It has been on the national news lately, and this is just another thing we should be concerned about.}

    Being a PTO volunteer is a great thing, but people volunteer or involve themselves in varying ways within their communities, whether it be through the schools, churches, non-profits, governmental service, emergency services, etc. Please, recognize that most people do what they can.

    Thanks for your participation. It is always great when others join in the debate.

    Have a nice day!
    Lois

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 4, 2009 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

  41. Exactly, responsibility is a 2 way street. You can’t just blame the school system and ignore the parents, you need to solve the problem from both ends. If you just address one of the issues, the problem will fester. No reasonable amount of money ($25 million, $50 million, $100 million, $200 million) will solve Chariho’s problems. Throwing money at Chariho does not work. If you cannot get the parents on board, nothing that is done will work. Like I said, just look at inner city schools. No amount of money can save them. But this, in itself, is probably a justifiable reason to take money away- throwing money at Chariho is pointless so why not just run it at a bare-bones capacity? At least then you get your money’s worth.

    The new math curriculum (which stinks) is new. So how do you explain bad test scores from 5 years ago? Is it bad teachers? Maybe. Is it bad parents? Maybe. It is more likely to be a complex set of problems including teachers, communities, administrators, parents and councilors. But there is no sure-fire solution to any of this. It is simply not all black and white. Another question I have is, what are bad test scores? We keep saying Chariho is poorly performing, but aren’t most of the schools in Rhode Island poorly performing? Who determines what is poorly performing and what is not? Who gets to decide whether 80% is acceptable and 75% is not? And if you are truly of the opinion that market forces are the best methods to sort things out, why care? The kids that suck will become garbage men, the kids that don’t will become doctors. If every child succeeds, how is that different from socialism? Personally, I think the fact that every American child goes to college is pointless. Who will pick up the garbage? Maybe if we had some factory workers we might have some factories? What is wrong with being a carpenter or a furniture maker?

    “Those feeding on the public trough have the luxury of lacking responsibility” Really? Is Detroit a public trough (well, it is now, but it wasn’t a month ago)? Plenty of union contracts there. And the airline industry? Don’t they get pretty good contracts, despite the fact that they are bleeding themselves dry?

    Comment by James Hobler — January 4, 2009 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

  42. Any parent who has the time and ability to help their child should do so, but children around the world, often where parents have even more demands than here, still exceed the educational outcomes of American children.

    As noted, and ignored by Mr. Hobler, our per pupil costs are among the highest in the country, and probably the world. Our student to pupil ration stands at 11:1…not 25:1. The research has been done, and when school choice is implemented educational outcomes improve…even for children in lower economic environments.

    Yes, having participating parents is a huge benefit to children, but the breakdown of the family cannot be compensated for by the schools…all they can do is the best job possible, and Chariho is far from doing the best job possible.

    Mr. Hobler grew up in an ideal situation for his education. Frankly, I’m not unhappy my parents weren’t able to help with my education. I’m not enthralled by an Ivy League education, and since my school did its job, I was fine relying on my school to educate me.

    I’m not a fan of the PTO. From what I can tell, they are basically an extension of the school and lead efforts to push for more spending while accepting failure. For all Chariho’s faults, I don’t ever recall hearing any criticism from the PTO. Constructivist math would still be ruining the math futures of Chariho children if not for people like Mrs. Buck. Did the PTO have anything to do with exposing constructivist math? We don’t even know if the chosen alternative will put children back on the right path.

    Blaming parents is a weak excuse. Most parents have only a few hours a day of discretionary time if they are lucky. They are not trained to teach academics and they have plenty of other things they need to teach their children. Chariho has our children for almost 6 hours per day. They need to do the job we pay them to do.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 4, 2009 @ 11:31 pm | Reply

  43. Mrs Buck,

    We agree that the curriculum is bad. We also agree that the teachers are mostly good? Where we disagree is that parents should have a primary role in most aspects of their children’s education. I think they should, you do not think it is necessary. But I can guarantee that if 75% of the Chariho parents spent 20 minutes, each weekday, with their elementary school-aged kids, scores would skyrocket. We could cut teachers and we could cut Chariho spending. But it is easier to blame someone else but ourselves. And it is easier to have other do for us what we should be doing. Just look at dishwashing machines. Do we even have a historical perspective here? Are things actually worse now than 30 years ago? Are more of our students illiterate today than in 1970? Is there even a problem here? There may be, but I am not sure there is. Or was 1970 a problem and the fact that things have not changed continues to be a problem?

    What I am going to say is nasty, but I am saying it only because you, RS, have said that “in the real world where one earns a living based on their performance and not protectionist contracts the ability to fault others only goes so far.”

    In regards to, “I wonder if the mothers of children who’s fathers are deployed around the world protecting our freedoms have the same luxury of time to teach their children as parents who are home at 5 everyday ?”

    Yeah, screw them. That’s free market economics for you. My kids goes to the same school as their kid. My kid has the same base opportunity. If their kid does not benefit from personal wealth or the presence of a father, is that my problem? Not according to you and the above sentence.

    But I’ll do better than that. You find me that kid without a father, you have them come home on the bus with my kid. I’ll come home from work when the bus gets home, spend 30 minutes with both kids and drive the other one home. That’s how I’ll repay that veteran. And no one will ever even give me a parade. That’s what working in your community is all about.

    I simply do no think that the role of the teacher should supplant the role of the parent. Parents are the best teachers there are, even if all they give is 20 minutes a day.

    Mrs. Buck, “Being a PTO volunteer is a great thing, but people volunteer or involve themselves in varying ways within their communities, whether it be through the schools, churches, non-profits, governmental service, emergency services, etc. Please, recognize that most people do what they can.”

    Which is more important? Your child or governmental service? Or emergency service? I recognize that people do what they can, but if they are putting their “life” above their child’s fitness and education, perhaps they should have not had children?

    Comment by James Hobler — January 4, 2009 @ 11:42 pm | Reply

  44. You are on target again Mrs. Buck. Schools today spend so much time trying to deliver societal and values messages they stray from their mission of teaching academic skills. Constructivist math is a social experiment designed to equalize math for groups who historically didn’t excel in math.

    Is this the fault of teachers? I won’t give them total blame, but a couple of years ago the number one agenda item at the NEA’s national meeting was homosexual marriage. Why do teachers allow their union to spend their money on utter nonsense while our children fall further and further behind the rest of the world? Why is homosexual marriage a higher priority than improving educational outcomes? The answer is politics…teachers’ unions align with other political organizations with a tacit agreement that they all fight for each other. Union members get the support of politicians, i.e., school choice is politically untenable, and in exchange the unions push for the agenda of other groups. In the end, the rest of us get screwed.

    History books are changing. My child spends more time discussing recycling than the history of our country. And when history is taught, it is quite often distorted and ideologically driven. My child’s teacher spends more time talking about Oprah Winfrey than Benjamin Franklin. My child once had a teacher who yelled her way through the entire year. I didn’t find out about it until the end of the year…when I brought it to the principal’s attention I was told the teacher was retiring, but there wasn’t much that could be done anyway…why? Union.

    The debate on what do to ends when we eventually do what most of the world does and enact a system where public money follows the child instead of going to whatever school happens to be in the neighborhood. Once choice is widely available schools will do their job or disappear. It works and our educational system will continue the downward spiral until we embrace choice. I hope when we do see the light it is not too late to recover.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 4, 2009 @ 11:51 pm | Reply

  45. Curious Resident, I had no intention of enthralling you with my education. I was simply pointing out that my mother’s desire to make sure that I was competently educated succeeded spectacularly. This was to counter your point that your parents inattention to your education was inconsequential to your success. If I wanted to make you jealous, I would have thrown my salary at you. But I will tell you that I grew up relatively poor, in an equally poor school district. Perhaps that will dispel your assumptions?

    Despite the fact that the student teacher ratio is 11:1, there are 17-23 kids in my children’s classes. I am not sure where all those other teachers are hiding. How many kids are in your children’s classes? I heartily suggest we fire half the teachers at Chariho because they are clearly not actually teaching!

    If blaming parents is a weak excuse, blaming teachers is equally as poor. Someone you respect, Mrs. Buck, has already admitted she likes the teachers. This presents a strange disconnect, does it not? How do you feel about the teachers? You say they are not doing their jobs? Are test scores your only indication? Or is it their exorbitant salaries that really ruffle your feathers. Believe me, that ruffles my feathers more than anything else.

    “But children around the world, often where parents have even more demands than here, still exceed the educational outcomes of American children.” A simple question, have you ever left this continent? If you have, you will realize that most other cultures value education. Our culture emphatically does not value education. It is ingrained in 350 years on this soil. We despise education, often publicly. We built this country with muscle and hard work, not brains. And we won most of our wars that way too! We simply see no value in being the smartest in the class. Our McDonalds/TV culture degrades the smart kids and calls them geeks and nerds. But not the Chinese, the Japanese, the Danish, the French, etc., etc. What you are actually seeing is a cultural problem in this country. You can’t blame Chariho for that.

    But I don’t like the PTO myself much either. I was simply pointing out that despite the complaints as to the nature of Chariho, I see no one here (with the exception of Mrs Buck and her efforts against Investigations Math) actually solving the problems of Chariho, or even solving the problems of their own children. I would love to come home and do “my own thing” with my discretionary time but as my wife keeps telling me, I have kids. And that is my responsibility. I brought them into this world and I damn sure better prepare them for it. And even if they were in the best school district in the country, I’d still be checking their homework.

    Comment by James Hobler — January 5, 2009 @ 12:06 am | Reply

  46. “Where we disagree is that parents should have a primary role in most aspects of their children’s education” Great, then let’s end public education because we don’t need it. All the money we save can help many of the parents stay home because they won’t have to work or pay for after school child care. Homeschooling is the way to go! (Just being facetious!)

    Herein lies the point, we pay millions to these schools and to these educators who are hopefully trained well enough to educate our children. It is their job. They hold the teaching certificate. (If one of my children was able and willing to take Calculus, would I be a bad parent if I didn’t help? Clueless here! Don’t know a thing about Calculus. (Being Facetious again, too.))

    Yes, I believe that Chariho is blessed with quality teachers, but the curriculum has been sorely lacking as in the math curriculum.

    Mr. Hobler and any others wishing to view the math our children have been exposed to, please refer to the link on the right side called, “Analysis Math” or in the categories section to the right called, “Math.” The research is enlightening.

    An update: I spoke to Mr. Vecchio the other day. I inquired with him regarding the math curriculum. I’m hoping he will ask that it be put on the agenda for discussion, so the parents can be informed of its progress. Perhaps, a report could be generated and posted on the Chariho website. My concern with him was that the parents should have ample opportunity to view the pilot program, and should be aware of its progress. I also noted my concern for those children who went through years with Investigations. I will let you know if I hear back from him. I don’t expect to because I only asked for it to be brought up at an SC meeting.

    “But I can guarantee that if 75% of the Chariho parents spent 20 minutes, each weekday, with their elementary school-aged kids, scores would skyrocket” How do you not know this is currently happening? My observations after talking to a great many parents, they spend more than that.

    “Your child or governmental service? Or emergency service?” Not sure what to make of this statement. Seems rude, but maybe I am wrong. A community is represented by many parts. The schools are not the sole part. We surely cannot exist as a community without all the parts, which include the ones I’ve stated above.

    Many of these people that volunteer within their communities are teaching their children the most important lesson, how to exist within a community. Case in point, part of the Kindergarten curriculum is community. They go on field trips to the community, ie… the post office, library, fire department, etc…. With your definition, it seems that these things are a big waste of our kids time.

    But, lo-and-behold, many of these parents do both. I guess that makes them super heroes.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 5, 2009 @ 12:11 am | Reply

  47. Mr. Hobler,

    I do my part as a mother and as a member of my community. I’m sure most people do, including yourself. Am I a super hero? NO!

    I read a lot on the blog because it informs me of opinions. I am not naive enough to believe my opinion is right 100% of the time. 95 maybe, but not 100%! 🙂 Just kidding!

    Are the opinions always correct? No, but people are trying to be constructive. (Sometime, they are frustrated.)

    We have a difference of opinion here. So, be it.

    School choice is not one of those things that I’ve enlightened myself about, so I choose to just read. But, the curriculum is something that as a parent of 2 children within the school system, I have taken great interest in. If I have had a part in getting rid of Investigations, then my mission is only partly over. Verifying the new curriculum to replace it is acceptable is something I have not been able to confirm. So, my mission is incomplete.

    There are so many things going on within the community that one person could not do it all. We all have a part in its success, whatever piece of the puzzle you hold. But, the big picture on the puzzle is the community, which includes our children and all the other parts that make it whole.

    Yes, the kids are our future. Hopefully, they become free-thinkers and respect their community so that the community will continue and grow. The teachers hold a part of this puzzle, just like the parents do. Let’s let the teachers do their part for our community, as that is what they are trained for.

    Thanks, and have a nice day!
    Lois

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 5, 2009 @ 12:35 am | Reply

  48. I didn’t say you were trying to enthrall me with your education. Just noting that I find nothing special about an Ivy League education…with the exception that it does open doors when you get out.

    I agree we could probably fire half the teachers and be none the worse. We could add in about 3/4 of the administrators too.

    I have many acquaintances and a few friends from other countries. I don’t agree they value education more. They certainly don’t pay as much as we pay if money is any measure of value…and it is. We just get less, and accept less for our money.

    A lot of it is because we have been conditioned to value the concept of teacher while ignoring the realities of the profession. We could discuss the training teachers receive in college, but suffice it to say that they are also the victims of ideologically driven curriculae.

    The Caluclus teacher referenced by Mrs. Buck may very well know as little Calculus as Mrs. Buck, but is an expert on educational theory. Talk to a teacher who graduated in the last decade or so about their core subject training…unless they came out of industry, they are probably sorely lacking. I sometimes wonder how many teachers would rate proficient if they were given the same tests as the students?

    Like most people, I personally know teachers…have relatives who are teachers too. Their hearts are usually in the right place, but they have been programmed by their college experiences followed by the union propaganda. As adults, they can be blamed for the failure of their profession. They tolerate and even support inept colleagues…you can be sure they were the first to know about the tragedy of constructivist math, yet I heard nothing about it until Mrs. Buck brought the information here. They are the teachers and very few parents have the capacity to overcome a bad teacher or a bad curriulum.

    I’m not a big fan of homeschooling…but parents who undertake this endeavor do produce better students than trained and educated teachers. I’m not sure how this is possible if government schools were doing their jobs.

    I would not be jealous of anybody’s salary if it is honestly earned and free market based. I do have a problem with Chariho salaries as the school fails to educate most children, but salaries and benefits keep skyrocketing. If a teacher is worth $100,000 per year, great…implement choice and the $100,000 teacher will earn $100,000.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 5, 2009 @ 12:41 am | Reply

  49. Free market economics doesn’t make for compassionless souls, upbringing does. Sorry you feel this way.

    Comment by RS — January 5, 2009 @ 12:59 am | Reply

  50. CR, I can’t take full credit. Bill F, I believe with the initiative of Barbara Capalbo, began it. I just went with it.

    Everytime I researched another article or report, it made me look even further. I can’t often attend meetings as you are well aware that Tom is quite busy with his. So, research via the computer has been my avenue to help.

    I hope you are right, and that I really made a difference.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 5, 2009 @ 1:19 am | Reply

  51. Well at least you made several of us aware of it. Since we don’t know if the alternative is a complete (or even partial) fix, then I guess the jury is still out. Plus, if the new curriculum is still in pilot phase, then a significant amount of children are still having their math futures compromised by constructivist math.

    I don’t remember who first mentioned it, but you took the bull by the horns and did most of the leg work in gathering information. As with most things, the School Committee and the administration was late to the party and didn’t bring much when they got there.

    I still feel there should be penalties for anyone involved in bringing this catastrophic math curriculum to Chariho. Somebody should lose their job to send the message that nothing like this can ever happen again. I vote for Mr. Ricci. I won’t be holding my breath.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 5, 2009 @ 1:31 am | Reply

  52. What is it about big government proponents which makes them think government is inherently compassionate? Isn’t government populated by people? Why would the people in government be assumed to be compassionate? I see no evidence of this. Is it compassionate to fight tooth and nail to maintain an educational system which fails? Makes no sense to me.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 5, 2009 @ 1:43 am | Reply

  53. Next I suggest we start talking about how its the extended families fault that the proficiency level at Chariho is only 1/3. The discussion about how its the parents fault and you can’t make the unions do anything they don’t want has taken up 52 post with the only hard data being Chariho budget $53 million, the proficiency level at 1/3.

    Comment by RS — January 5, 2009 @ 10:25 am | Reply

  54. Don’t forget teacher to student ratio of 11:1. I believe the student to school employee ration is something like 6:1. That’s factual data too.

    I think the pathetic proficiency rates can be partially blamed on global warming. How can we expect children to pay attention in class when the weather is so balmy.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 5, 2009 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

  55. Oops…I got that backwards…student to teacher ratio of 11:1.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 5, 2009 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

  56. The whole conversation is right out of the union handbook. Don’t talk of subjects we can’t defend(proficiency rate). Bring up topics which switch the debate to a defensive posture for those whom attack indefensible positions.

    Comment by RS — January 5, 2009 @ 4:36 pm | Reply

  57. The good news is the negotiating committee will be decidedly different than the whole committee, it offers a real opportunity to take the process out of the dark.

    Consider Day, Serra, & Polouski are recused; leaving the possibility of Carney, Felkner, Abbott, Vecchio versus Eaves, McQuaide, Petit, with Cole waiting for Ethics and potentially a swing voters. She did challenge a few of the budget items last Sunday.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 5, 2009 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  58. Just saw on ProJo that Gov will go on TV Wed night to talk about closing the deficit … at least we’ll know how big our part of the hole might be.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 5, 2009 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

  59. Good point Gene, which may be a large factor in the School Committee’s willful violation of the Open Meetings Act in order to rid themselves of Mr. Felkner.

    Now the plot has been foiled by a judge, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them put Mr. Felkner’s ouster on the agenda and put us all through the same nonsense again. The administration, union, and majority of the School Committee also can add, and they will be very anxious to make sure the negotiating team deck remains stacked in their favor.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 5, 2009 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

  60. They will certainly have it on the agenda again, the question is … will two people change their minds? If the AG becomes involved, that would carry weight.

    But, one has to love parlimentary procedure, Bill is allowed to vote, at worst, it’s a 7-4 vote, which isn’t 2/3, they can’t end debate.

    Hopefully, sensible minds will prevail and allow the AG or the court to pursue the eligibility issue and leave Bill alone in the interim.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 5, 2009 @ 11:51 pm | Reply

  61. I wonder if the judge gave any advice on the side when behind closed doors? Since we know dual office holding occurs in Massachusetts, and probably has happened in Rhode Island too, there sure doesn’t seem to be any precedent for removing Mr. Felkner. I’m hoping the court suggested to Mr. Anderson that they seek a ruling from the Attorney General and not take the matter into their own hands again.

    Besides Mr. Felkner being allowed to represent Hopkinton, what I want most is for the court to come down hard on the School Committee and individual members for violating OMA and Mr. Felkner’s civil rights. If they don’t face some kind of punishment for their undemocratic actions, they’re almost sure to keep up the games they’ve been playing for the last two years. This is America…we should celebrate dissent, not break the law to squash dissent.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 6, 2009 @ 1:14 am | Reply

  62. It will be interesting to see if the next meeting is just a repeat of the first. I would think if the same tactics are used without the SC obtaining any clarification, and an eventual court ruling is in favor of the citizens of Hopkinton, then the court will have a very dim view of the SC’s actions. This will only bolster the civil rights violations case. It will be hard to claim we thought it was the right thing at the time when it was done twice. This will show the intent of the SC was not to follow the law and do the right thing, but to be steadfast in denying the rights of an entire electorate.
    How any one can vote again to do the same action is beyond me. It is obvious the matter is in the courts so a prudent person would let the courts decide. I think it would be a win for the civil case if the SC tries the same stunt.

    Comment by RS — January 6, 2009 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  63. I agree RS. The judge smasked one of their core, but feeble, excuses to pieces when she said Mr.Fekner could serve. The judge obviously isn’t concerned about having Mr. Felkner vote or participate in Executive Sessions. Mr. Anderson made a big song and dance over this issue, but they’d be foolish to use it again considering the judge doesn’t see his participation as a problem.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 6, 2009 @ 1:32 pm | Reply

  64. I wish they had discussed in open court, it was 5 hrs of chatting with Bill and Donita Naylor (ProJo). I know more about Bill and Donita’s younger years now!

    The best sense I got from the experience was when the lawyers returned and before informing Bill, they asked if it was ok to do with us their, Bill as an open meeting guy, said yes, before he knew what was to be said.

    There’s three issues on the table …

    1. OMA Violation
    2. SC ability to remove a meember
    3. Ability to hold dual office.

    Following is based on the banter between Gorham/C.Anderson and J.Anderson, and what Gorham told Felkner before the hearing, in my presence.

    Felkner’s goal was to get put back on the SC while the other matters are being adjudicated. He got that in the TRO per OMA. It seemed to me that J.Anderson was posturing a split decision based on the TRO versus a “finding”. To me, Felkner’s counsel was more credible, biases aside. Clearly the judge did not object to Bill sitting on the SC, as after we left court, in the parking lot, Gorham told J.Anderson that Bill would be attending the meeting the next morning. J.Anderson felt the need to return inside to see the judge to make sure this was ok. Ergo, the judge clearly felt having Bill on the SC did not rise to the level of any substantial concern. If she had been concerned, she did not have to issue the TRO.

    Since the OMA was a clear violation, the 5 hr meeting had to be in relation to #2 & #3 … so the situation almost can’t be black and white. Consider that for #2 & #3, there is no clear statuatory guidance, so the court will be making law, understandably, the court would want to be prudent. This prudence was seen in the request to the AG for involvement and more briefs.

    Issues #2 & #3 are by no means straight-forward, it is entirely likely they could go either way. But it’s virtually undeniable that Bill’s due process has been stomped on. There is no compelling reason to boot him off while the Court and AG give the situation proper consideration. The harm in this scenario is Hopkinton disenfranchisement.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 6, 2009 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

  65. Gene,
    I don’t think the judge would be making law. They are suppose to interpret it. (Sorry, a little naive.)

    If there is no law or precedent, my assumption would be that the judge would have to allow him to serve. Examples of dual office holding certainly would be precedence.

    I would hope prudence will be in the minds of the SC members this go around, instead of emotion. I would encourage those that see the travesty here to contact their representatives with their logical arguments to their letting the courts decide the outcome of this decision.

    Lois

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 6, 2009 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

  66. Thanks for the overview Gene. I’m not a fan of judges creating law. If there is a law prohibiting dual office holding, then the meeting would have been short and Mr. Felkner would probably be announcing his decision to resign.

    The best the School Committee can hope for is the judge does create a new law. The new law would have to be in contradiction to Massachusetts’ practice where dual office holding is permissable except in a few cases where local laws specifically say it is not allowed in their jurisdiction.

    Even if the Attorney General should weigh in against Mr. Felkner holding both positions, he would be doing so without any legal authority since to date no one has been able to cite a law prohibiting dual office holding. The best Mr. Anderson has been able to come up with is the doctrine of incompatibility, but if this is a valid reason to oust Mr. Felkner, why isn’t it a valid reason to oust the dual office holders in Massachusetts? The Massachusetts dual office holders were featured in a Boston Globe article, so obviously they are not flying under the radar screen.

    Finally, I know it has been dismissed, but I still think it is relevant, our communities have a recent history of people serving both their town School Committee and the regional School Committee. This was the practice for years prior to Chariho expanding its empire and taking over the operations of the Elementary Schools. Surely there was conflict as both school systems were competing for the same piece of taxpayer pie. This went on for years and I never recall anyone complaining it was against the law.

    This case may not go Hopkinton’s way, but if it doesn’t, I think we can chalk it up to politics rather than the law. If the law was on the School Committee’s side, Mr. Felkner’s ouster would already be a done deal.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 6, 2009 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

  67. #2 & 3 may not be black and white, but the 5 hrs might have been geared more toward trying to reach a resolution satisfying both parties, a negotiation if you will. This could easily take many hours of debate and research.

    Comment by RS — January 6, 2009 @ 3:58 pm | Reply

  68. Ms. Buck … “Interpreting law” vs “make a law” is symantics, someone will have to make a decision based on existing laws and legal precendents. The result of that will be a “law” in concept, precedent in fact, this will make new ground. Brown v Board of Ed., or Roe v. Wade are classic Court creating law from principles (PLEASE … don’t let’s not get into whether these decisions were proper or not). Whatever the Superior Court, or Supreme, decide will stand until the GA decides to change it.

    CR … The AG does have critical standing in this matter, both in statute and by deference. Consider if the AG’s designate comes to the SC meeting and says that Bill can stay, no problem on the dual holding … I think a couple of votes would change really fast, alternately, they would vote him off fast. Secondly, only two entities can challenge the eligibility: Bill and the AG, if the AG says all is OK, then the SC has no recourse, they couldn’t dream of expelling him after the AG says it’s ok. That would be a quick loser in court.

    I’m curious how much a RI court cares about situation in other states when RI law doesn’t speak. It would seem logical that if CT, MA, and NH all allow the dual office holding, that RI would be similar. The voters get to decide.

    RS … Where’s the middle ground, Bill is either on or off? Not sure where the compromise will come from.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 6, 2009 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

  69. What existing law are they suppose to interpret Gene? Do you know of any law on dual office holding? Sometimes there is conflicting law and the court is tasked with sorting it out, but in this case, there seems to be nothing.

    Mr. Anderson has likely spent many hours looking to justify Mr. Ricci’s mandate to oust Mr. Felkner. The best he could come up with is the doctrine of incompatibility (not a law), Obama, and a couple of cases down south. If the guy spending all his time looking for a legal excuse can only come up with such a pathetic list, what chance is there that the court or AG will come up with something relevant?

    I do agree that if the AG speaks the School Committee had better listen, but if the AG speaks in favor of ousting Mr. Felkner, I think it will clearly be a political position rather than a legal position. Maybe there is a law to interpret…but until someone finds it, then I don’t see any other conclusion.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 6, 2009 @ 5:26 pm | Reply

  70. Without clear RI examples of dual office holder, who knows what they’ll do. They could buy into the incompatibility arguement. It may not be a law, but it is legal precedent. Gorham argued that the offices have to be “repugnant” to each other, his example was TC and police chief

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 6, 2009 @ 10:56 pm | Reply

  71. We don’t know what they will do, but, if they rule against dual office holding and only cite incompatibility, then it is a political decision in my view.

    If ruling against dual office holding based on incompatibility were a valid legal argument, precedent would exist based on the numerous examples of dual office holding in Massachusetts and other states (I think Mr. Scott Hirst referenced Connecticut dual office holders). A few Massachusetts legislators hold elected town/city positions. I am certain that the Massachusetts state legislature has a role in funding town/city government. Therefore, Massachusetts allows pretty “repugnant” dual office holders.

    Time will tell how it all turns out. Rhode Island is an extremely corrupt state with lots of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” in play. I hope the disenfranchisement of Hopkinton doesn’t become fodder for the corrupt political system. I’m confident if the issue is settled on its legal merits, Mr. Felkner will serve Hopkinton as we elected him to do.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 6, 2009 @ 11:36 pm | Reply

  72. The difference I see is TC is a position in the town of Hopkinton, and the SC is a position for the regional school district. Hence the Town Charter forbidding the holcing of 2 elected positions in the town government, but written to expressly allow the holding of a position representing the town in regards to the school district.

    Comment by RS — January 6, 2009 @ 11:39 pm | Reply

  73. I can’t fathom how Bill can lose, but I remember back to the Nov SC meeting when the precedents pre-dated the RI Constitution, even the Magna Charta … Still though, as much as I believe the dual office holding is legitimate, the part that really bothers me is the manner in which he was removed, total lack of due process.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 7, 2009 @ 12:43 am | Reply

  74. Mr. Anderson had to go back before we had the Constitution and our current laws. He couldn’t find anything in either our Constitution or our laws to support his objective of ousting Mr. Felkner. No ancient doctrine supercedes the Constitution or our laws. I’m no lawyer, but I would have to believe the will of the people as expressed through our vote is protected by the Constitution and likely many laws. Any of these protections should override a doctrine which has never been ratified by anyone.

    We voted for Mr. Felkner knowing he was on the School Committee. There is no cited law authorizing his removal from office. Dual office holding is relatively common. Based on what we know, I can’t imagine the court creating a new law. If they do, their motivation will be political, not legal.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 7, 2009 @ 1:21 am | Reply

  75. RS in comment #72 makes an important point that I believe deserves more attention than it has received in the discussions of the status of Mr. Felkner that I have thus far heard and read.

    Section 1240 of the Hopkinton Town Charter does not allow members of the Hopkinton Town government to hold more than one position in the Hopkinton Town government at a time. Members of the Hopkinton Town Council are clearly members of the Town government. The Council has no legal authority or responsibility for any aspect of the Chariho Regional School District. Hopkinton Town Council members receive their stipend for their service on the Council from the Town of Hopkinton, which is a clear indication of what organization they serve.

    The Chariho District School Committee is the governing body responsible for the supervision and operation of the Chariho District, and has no legal authority or responsibility for any matters relating to any of the Chariho Towns. Members of the Chariho School Committee receive their stipend for their service on the committee from the Chariho District. All these facts are clear evidence that Chariho Regional School District School Committee members are not members of the governments of their respective Towns.

    As RS points out, the Hopkinton Town Charter forbids an elected member of the Town government to hold more than one elective position in Town government but is written expressly to allow a member of the Town government to hold a position representing Hopkinton in regards to the School District.

    But even without that provision, a person serving in the Hopkinton Town government on the Town Council would not violate theTown Charter by serving on the Chariho School Committee simultaneously because the Chariho School Committee is not part of the government of the Town of Hopkinton..

    Further, nobody has thus far produced any Rhode Island law or Hopkinton Ordinance that prohibits an individual from serving on a Town Council and a regional School Committee at the same time.

    And finally, even if such dual service were prohibited, there has been no evidence presented that a regional School Committee is empowered to unseat a duly elected member of the Committee because the member has been elected to an office in the members Town.

    It would be a great step forward for Chariho if the School Committee would find itself able to focus its attention on its real job of ensuring that the education professionals in the Chariho District, and particularly those in positions of leadership, are responsive to the clearly expressed wishes of the community for sound curricula, transparency and competence everywhere in the Chariho District.

    Comment by Thurman Silks — January 8, 2009 @ 3:06 pm | Reply


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