Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 28, 2010

From our friends at ATR

Filed under: National,Stimulus,Tax — Editor @ 5:28 pm




January 28, 2010  


MYTH:   “[My health plan] would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market.”


FACT:     The Obama-Reid-Pelosi plan would actually increase health premium costs for the uninsured.  The average individual health insurance premium today is $2985 for singles and $6328 for families.  According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the average premium will increase to $5800 for singles and $15,200 for families under the Obama plan by 2016.  This is 10 to 13 percent higher than they would be under current law.  Only those individuals earning less than about $40,000 and families earning less than about $85,000 would receive any tax or spending benefits to even partially-offset this increased cost.  Those earning more than this get no help whatsoever.

                 For small businesses (“small group plans”), today’s average premium is $4155 for singles and $10,956 for families.  Under the Obama-Reid-Pelosi plan, this increases to $7800 for singles and $19,200 for families by 2016, a 1-2 percent increase over current law.  Only about 12 percent of people receiving coverage from their small business employer would benefit from the small business health tax credit.

MYTH:   “[My plan] would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care.”        


FACT:     Under current law, someone can’t wait until they are sick and then sign up for health insurance.  That’s called “gaming the system.”  Insurance only works if healthy people are paying premiums each month, so that when you get sick or go to the doctor, money is there for you.  If healthy people can wait to buy coverage, the entire insurance model falls apart very quickly.  Put simply, “guaranteed issue” would be the death of insurance.


MYTH:   “Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan.”


FACT:     The Obama-Reid-Pelosi plan taxes your current health insurance, if it’s deemed to be a “Cadillac plan.”  It also puts in place minimum coverage requirements in order to remain “qualifying,” which probably will alter your plan.  It probably will make it impossible to design health insurance plans which are HSA-compatible.  Clearly, you simply can’t keep your current plan under this bill.


MYTH:   “According to the Congressional Budget Office – the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress – our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.”



FACT:     According to CBO, these cost estimates only pan out if Congress is willing to cut Medicare provider reimbursements, something everyone knows will never happen.  Budget savings based on phony, never-going-to-happen spending cuts are bogus.  This creates an unfunded liability in the program.


MYTH:   “I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering what’s in it for them.”


FACT:     When the American people don’t want a massive plan of this size, margins can get a little tight on Capitol Hill.  That’s why Obama-Reid-Pelosi had to buy off members with the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, the Cadillac Compromise, and untold other backroom, closed-door deals.  Back in the campaign, candidate Obama said he would put negotiations on C-SPAN so this could not happen.


MYTH:   “There’s a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo.”


FACT:     One word: money.  The American Medical Association, nursing groups, hospitals, and others are receiving billions in taxpayer subsidies under this bill.


MYTH:   “If anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.”


FACT:     It’s worth pointing out that even President Obama’s own plan will increase premiums, increase the deficit (at least in the real world) even while raising taxes, cover only some of the uninsured (theoretically), cut Medicare, and drive insurance companies totally out of business.  So one might first turn the question back on him.


Can President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and/or Leader Reid use the Internet?  Can their staffs?  It appears not, since this is a common refrain easily refuted.  The fact is, there are dozens of good ideas and several comprehensive plans which have been proposed.  The House Republicans have even aggregated all of them.  Their list doesn’t include the DeMint plan, nor does it include the comprehensive “American Roadmap” government reform plan (including healthcare) of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)


June 7, 2007

Academic Achievement – an overview

Filed under: Chariho,National,State-wide,Student Performance — Editor @ 11:03 pm

** This post was made on April 8th but I have updated it with the new info **

In the big picture, student performance in America has dropped precipitously from it’s once lofty perch as the best in the world.  We are now at #18 of the 24 top industrialized nations.

On a national level, Rhode Island ranks somewhere between #32 and #41 in student performance (depending on grade and subject).  And when you factor in poverty, cost of education and infrastructure, RI received a 0.9 GPA on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Leaders and Laggards” report on education, the lowest GPA in the nation.

Now lets take it to a local level.  How does Chariho compare to our neighbors?

Below are the 2006 NECAP test results for several of our demographic and geographic peers (North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Coventry, Exeter/West Greenwich and Westerly).

Here is Chariho’s Grade 8 District Results Report


Notice the percentage of students who score in the top quartile (Level 4 “proficient with distinction”) and bottom quartile (Level 1 “substantially below proficient”).  Now lets compare those numbers to our neighbors.

North Kingstown


South Kingstown




Exeter/West Greenwich




Notice that for students who score in the highest quartile (“proficient with distinction”), there are 15 comparisons to Chariho (5 schools and 3 disciplines – reading, math and writing).  In 14 of 15 comparisons, Chariho has the lowest percentage of students in the top performing group.  We beat Coventry in one category.

When you look at the lowest quartile (“substantially below proficient”), in all 15 comparison, Chariho has a larger percentage of it’s students who fall into this under-performing category. 

So, overall for our 8th graders, we ranked last in 29 of 30 comparisons and tied for last in 1.

Now lets look at Grade 3 comparisons.  Here are the Chariho results.


North Kingstown


South Kingstown




Exeter/West Greenwich




In 20 comparisons (5 schools, 2 subjects, high and low performers) Chariho was the worst performer in 17 of the 20.  We did manage to beat Exeter/West Greenwich in 2 measures and tied them in 1.

This first graph compares Chariho to our peers on the percentage of 8th graders who scored in the top 25% of the proficiency rating (“proficient with distinction”).

This graph compares Chariho to our peers on the percentage of 8th grade students who score in the bottom 25% of the proficiency rating (“substaintially below proficient”).

So lets review, America is ranked 18th in the industrialized world (depending on subject and study).  Rhode Island ranks between 32 and 41 in the nation.  And Chariho ranks last in our demographic and geographic peers.  So where does that put our students in a globally competitive market?

May 21, 2007

Insight from a student

Filed under: National,Sex-Ed — Editor @ 6:58 pm

A comment in the previous post from an “anonymous student” says that Chariho mainly teaches about abstinence in their sex-ed programs.  This is a good thing.  But the student mistakenly said that the “Fistgate” conference was unique.  Unfortunately, this is incorrect.  Just last week this was reported in the Denver Post

“I’m going to encourage you to have sex, and I’m going to encourage you to use drugs appropriately,” panelist Joel Becker, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist, told the students. “And why I am going to take that position is because you’re going to do it anyway.”

There is a more detailed response in the comments section of the last post.

May 12, 2007

Can it get any more obvious than this?

Filed under: Budget,National,State-wide,Unions — Editor @ 8:31 am

I think this story illustraits the illogical opposition to teacher performance pay.   The report is worth the read.

Teachers Unions and Teaching Quality

Teachers union researcher Mike Antonucci yesterday posted some interesting findings surrounding the report written by eighteen award-winning teachers, calling for a fresh perspective on performance pay (click here for the full report). Antonucci takes a look at one of the report’s authors, Nancy Flanagan:

She is a recently retired 31-year teaching veteran, 1993 Michigan Teacher of the Year, and worked for two years with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and as a consultant with the Michigan Education Association.

Despite her awards and her long-standing professional relationship with the Michigan Education Association, Flanagan’s participation in a nuanced endorsement of performance pay has caused her union to roll up the welcome mat. As she told The Washington Post:

My state union, the Michigan Education Association, called to tell me that I will not be allowed to present at workshops and conferences in the future (something I’ve been doing for decade). I am officially persona non grata with the MEA.

If union foot-dragging on education reform weren’t clear enough from its shunning a Teacher of the Year, The Paducah Sun in Kentucky has more. A Suneditorial (subscription required) yesterday wrote up research by Illinois reporter Scott Reeder (whose Hidden Costs of Tenure website offers a treasure trove of information on how hard it is to get rid of a bad tenured teacher in his state) indicating that a common teachers union defense of tenure protection doesn’t hold up:

The teachers’ unions contend that the profession is self-selecting — that is, underqualified teachers leave the classroom before reaching tenure. But Reeder points to a North Carolina study that concluded: Teachers who left the profession early actually scored higher on teacher licensure exams than teachers who stayed in teaching. And a Harvard University College of Education study concluded: “Teachers with high IQs were more likely to leave teaching at the end of each year of service than those with low scores.”

That last paragraph sounds cold but some teachers do feel frustraition working in a system that rewards mediocrity and incompetence at the same rate as excellence. 

May 8, 2007

A pleasant story – for a change

Filed under: National,PC — Editor @ 2:19 pm

This was sent to me and I thought you all would enjoy it.

This is a true story.  It was mentioned by Governor Huckabee at the CPAC conference in March.

******************************** In September of 2005, a social studies schoolteacher from
Arkansas did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom. The kids came into first period, they walked in; there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, “Where’s our desks?”

The teacher said, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn them.”

They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”

“No,” she said.

“Maybe it’s our behavior.”

And she told them, “No, it’s not even your behavior.”

And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same thing. Third period. By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in the class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom. The last period of the day, the instructor gathered her class.

They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room. She said, “Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily. Now I’m going to tell you.”

She went over to the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27
U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. By the time they had finished placing the desks, those kids for the first time I think perhaps in their lives understood how they earned those desks.

Their teacher said, “You don’t have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it’s up to you to sit here responsibly, to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have
that desk, and don’t ever forget it.”

April 5, 2007

“Cocky and dumb” versus “unsure and good” – which would you prefer?

Filed under: National,Student Performance — Editor @ 1:06 pm

The article linked below speaks directly to our public school’s effort to increase self-esteem – an effort that trumps actual accomplishment.

 Only 6 percent of Korean eighth-graders expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of eighth-graders in the United States, according to the latest annual study on education by the Brown Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington.The problem is that the surveyed Korean students are better at math than the American students. Their kids are unsure and good, in short, while ours are cocky and dumb — not exactly a good position for the U.S. to occupy in an increasingly competitive global economy. 

Unfortunately, we’re in that position of unskilled self-satisfaction by design. For those in American education with an aversion to competition, an aversion to the thought of winners and losers, the idea of putting self-esteem ahead of academic performance was an easy concept to adopt.


Rather than seeing self-esteem as something that flows from good performance, they made self-esteem the first priority, assuming that good performance would flow from an inflated level of self-satisfaction.

The sad reality is that in our global economy, where any engineering job (and most other jobs) can be done from any computer in the world, our children will be competing with the Koreans for jobs.  At least our children will feel “good” about their failure.

See the entire article here.

March 19, 2007

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Report on Education

Filed under: Budget,National,State-wide,Student Performance — Editor @ 7:02 pm

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released the "Leaders and Laggards" report on education.  Rhode Island has a cumulative GPA of 0.9, the lowest in the nation. 

Find the report here.

RI ranks 36th in Academic Achievement (D), 40th in Academic Achievement of Low Income and Minority Students (F) (6 states did not get ranked on this measure),  44th on Return on Investment (F), 9th on Truth in Advertising (B), 38th in Rigor of Standards (D) (3 states did not register standards), 31st on Post Secondary and Workforce Readiness (D), 51st in 21st Century Teaching Force (F), 51st in Flexibility in Management and Policy, 35th in Data Quality (C).

March 13, 2007

“New Math” Videos

Filed under: National,Student Performance — Editor @ 9:21 pm

Much has been said about the “New Math,” and its possible connection with falling math performance.  As an “Old Schooler” I have to agree that I find it confusing.  Here are some videos describing different math curriculum.  We have discussed this topic before.

Math: An Inconvenient Truth Video 1

Math Education: A University Study Video 2

You can find more information at and

[UPDATE]  One of our readers posted the following quotes from a petition presented by parents in NY.

From a 2005 parent petition in Penfield, NY –
“Although it has taken some years for Penfield parents to figure out what is really happening, we now understand. Our students are not learning math! Why? Because they are never taught the math in the first place, and have no reference material to learn it on their own. Because multiplication tables and basic number sense are not practiced by our children in elementary schools, they don’t have the number sense they need in middle school to understand basic algebra and geometry skills. By the time they reach high school, they are ill prepared for college preparatory classes like calculus, and then it is too late.”

From the same petition a student weighs in (notice the expressed frustration which mirror what my wife has encountered) –
“Believe it or not but some of us students want to learn. There have been students who have gone to math teachers and asked them stop using this book and to teach them something and make them learn and understand math. The frustration level is high among the students. We despise this math program. I cannot give you all the statistics on how well the students do on SATs or other standardized tests but I can tell you that the students are not happy with this program; they hate it.”

March 9, 2007

More F’s for Rhode Island

Filed under: Budget,National,State-wide,Student Performance,Unions — Editor @ 7:50 pm

Considering we have heard this for years, its not exactly “news.”  You can find the U.S. Chamber report here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007 Providence Journal

Members of Rhode Island’s highly paid and powerful educational establishment are fond of declaring, year after year, that progress is under way in the public schools. Meanwhile, national surveys by groups that have a less direct personal stake tell a different tale.Thus it is with a new report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, called “Leaders and Laggards,” analyzing the performance of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report found that four New England states — Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut — rank among America’s top six in terms of their public schools. A fifth, Maine, fares very well, ranking 16th overall.

The performance of only one New England state is dismal: Rhode Island, which ranks 16th from the bottom, despite consistently finishing near the top in taxpayer spending per student.

Some of the survey’s results are shocking. Rhode Island:

• Ranks dead last in America — 51st — with an “F” in how much flexibility and freedom it gives its schools and principals, and in its hostility to charter schools. That clearly reflects the impressive political power of its teachers unions, which do not want educators to be free to use their judgment to implement best practices or parents free to choose between schools.

• Also ranks dead last — 51st — with an “F” in creating a 21st Century teaching force. “Rhode Island earns very low marks for its teacher workforce policies,” the report says, citing the state’s failure to test teachers in basic skills or allow alternative routes into the teaching profession.

• Gets an “F” in academic achievement of low-income and minority students. “Only 9 percent of Hispanic 4th-grade students score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] math exam,” the report says. “The national average for Hispanic 4th graders is 19 percent.”

• Gets an “F” in return on taxpayer investment. “Student achievement in Rhode Island is very low relative to state education spending (after controlling for student poverty, the percentage of students with special needs, and cost of living),” the report found.

• Gets a “D” in academic achievement. Its students rank 4 percent below the national average in the percentage of 4th and 8th graders who perform at or above proficiency on NAEP math exams.

• Gets a “D” in rigor of standards, given the state’s poor math curriculum and its failure “to align its high school graduation requirements with college and workplace expectations or to enact a rigorous graduation exit exam.”

• Gets a “D” in post-secondary and workforce readiness. “The state’s 11th and 12th graders perform poorly on core Advanced Placement exams, and only 40 percent of 9th graders who finish high school in four years go on to college.”

The only thing Rhode Island does reasonably well is measuring how poorly it is doing! (It gets a “B” in “Truth in Advertising about Student Proficiency” and a “C” in “Data Quality.”)

This report confirms what many others have found. It is the umpteenth warning that Rhode Island is failing its students and undermining its economic prospects. Teachers unions have their place, but clearly politicians have allowed the unions’ special interests to take precedence over the needs of students —with the results shown above. A radical change is necessary. Parents and taxpayers must demand it, and political leaders must come forward to lead it, putting students first.

February 7, 2007

Questioning teacher salaries

Filed under: Budget,Chariho,National,State-wide,Unions — Editor @ 9:11 pm

An interesting letter in today’s Westerly Sun is worthy of your attention.

Format for paying our R.I. teachers shows fundamental need for reform 

Last Friday, The Wall Street Journal ran an article comparing teachers’ pay with many other vocations throughout the country. 

The data was derived from the fed­eral government’s Bureau of Labor statistics report of 2005. The question posed was whether teachers were bet­ter paid than other white collar or spe­cialty technical workers. Cities in California, New York, and the District of Colombia were identified as high cost places of living and their numbers mentioned specifically, but the figures were national. The bottom line was, without benefits, the average teacher’s pay per hour in the high cost areas was over $45 in the high-priced areas and over $34 per hour nationally. 

That made wonder about how Westerly compares. So I took our teachers’ work week, 36 hours, the school year of 181 days and multiplied to come up with roughly 1,296 hours of work time at the schools. I then took the school department’s instructional payroll and divided that by the num­ber of full-time equivalent teachers. Using that data, I calculated the aver­age teacher’s hourly wage in Westerly is $50.25 per hour – without benefits!

Is my math right? Instruction by the school department’s definition relates to instructional teachers, substitutes, instructional para-professionals, pupil use technology and instructional materials. This computation was made for teachers giving direct instruction only. 

The article went on to point out that there was evidence to suggest that bonuses paid to teachers who improved academic performance did, in fact, make a difference to overall quality. 

The way we pay our teachers is more important than what they take home. Our current methodology of basing pay on seniority and advanced degrees, not student improvement, is completely off base. 

According to the Journal, while teacher pay looked less impressive on an annual basis, teachers worked fewer hours and had summer, winter and spring breaks, during which they could pursue travel, education, outside employment or family activities.

Lastly, many of the other compared professions required time outside of the workplace, so all things being equal, teachers really could not be described as “under compensated.” 

Hello, Rep. Peter Lewiss. Maybe now you have something worthwhile for you committee to digest. 

Real accountability and transparen­cy should be on your plate. It is cer­tainly on our minds. 

Dick Anthony Westerly

An in-depth study was done by the Manhattan Institute on this very subject.  It did not evaluate Westerly or Chariho but shows Providence teachers average $38.92 (not including benefits).  The average white-collar employee (excluding sales) earns $26.93. 

According to the Education Partnership Contract Evaluation Report, the average teacher salary in the 2005-2006 Chariho budget was $59,800, not including benefits – ie. health care, pension AND social security (yes, teachers here get both pensions and social security.  Many private enterprises also provide 401k’s and social security, but the contributions made by schools are much more than in the private market).   This salary, using the same formula outlined above, shows an hourly wage of  $46.14. 

The average cost per teacher for these benefits is $22,475 for a total average compensation of $82,275 or $63.48 per hour. 

The letter not only brings to light the issue of teacher compensation but also introduces the merits of teacher “Pay for Performance.”  There are several studies and articles on this subject in the “Pay for Performance” section of the Schools in the News page.

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