On Monday night, the Montclair BoE unanimously approved the Strategic Plan laid out by Montclair Schools Superintendent Dr. Penny MacCormack. The plan calls for an improvement of the Montclair public school system, however, the way in which Dr. MacCormack plans to improve the schools is rubbing a few Montclair High School students the wrong way.
A good portion of the MHS student body is extremely dissatisfied with the plan and is very active in their opposition.
Sophomores Alana Schreiber and Maggie Goldberger are two of the plan’s biggest opponents.
“I think we can all agree that we want to close the achievement gap and make sure there are higher expectations for students, however, many of us feel that the strategies outlined in this plan, especially the strategies that revolve around tests and surveys, are no the way to do this,” says Goldberger.
Goldberger additionally feels that many students have been misinformed about the plan, mainly because many only became aware of it recently.
“That’s one of my biggest issues at the moment,” says Goldberger, “That such a huge plan, one that directly affects our education, was never discussed, or even shared, with students until it was really too late to change it.”
Goldberger feels that students were stripped of the ability to take an active role in their education.
It’s for this reason that Goldberger and her classmate, Schreiber, organized a petition with some of their fellow concerned students.
“I was part of a petition that included the help of Max Kraidelman, Elena Tsemberis, Teddy Kahil, Maggie, among other students. Together we got exactly 570 signatures against the plan in four days,” shares Schreiber.
Schreiber and Goldberger have also created a Facebook page called Students United For Change. The page represents a group of students who work with parents and teachers to fight for a voice in their education. Liking the page shows support for their cause.
Other students who are involved in opposition to the plan, like junior Elena Tsemberis, have a reasoning similar to Goldberger and Schreiber.
“I don’t like the plan because the new testing system for a number of reasons—it can affect teacher tenure and even employment, makes teachers teach directly to the test, dumbs down the curriculum, and ultimately inhibits what teachers can offer as far as creativity and originality,” Tsemberis says.
Sophomore Max Kraidelman thinks what he and his classmates are doing, by creating a petition and Facebook page to raise awareness, is essential.
“We need to show the Board of Education that we care about our education,” Kraidelman says. “As the students, we deserve a say in this plan.”
While opposition is great in the student body, there is also a portion of students who agree with MacCormack’s plan and aren’t afraid to voice their agreement.
“The strategic plan is long overdue. It will eliminate the extreme disparity in the rigor of classes of the same level taught by different teachers, including the amount and types of homework assigned. I also prefer the quarterly exams because the information being tested will be fresher in my mind,” explains Lauren Glasse, a junior. “I see value in the collection of data from these tests because my progress will be monitored and any weak areas will be addressed for the next marking period.”
Glasse isn’t alone. Junior Will Kline echoes Glasse’s opinion.
“Apparently there’s going to be a restoration of K-5 language, which was taken away by the old superintendent, a higher focus on pre-K, and more of an assessment of how classes and teachers are doing. It’s all for the betterment of our education,” explains Kline. “Also, the teachers make the tests, so they can still teach whatever they want. Not to mention, the quarterly tests get rid of the stress of midterms and finals.”
“I know a lot students hate the testing aspect, but in all honesty it doesn’t seem that bad to me,” Kline added.
The variety of opinion on the subject is actually quite flattering to the high school. Dueling beliefs show that MHS student body isn’t a even remotely homogenous when it comes to opinion. They have their own opinions, beliefs, and concerns- and they’re not afraid to raise their voices and share them.