montclair high schoolOn 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.

(Photo: Students United For Change Facebook page)

2 replies on “Montclair High School Students on Superintendent's Strategic Plan”

  1. It is very good to see these students taking their education so seriously and debating in such a mature manner. They are making sound and well-reasoned points. Superintendent MacCormack and the Board of Education have acted in a demeaning manner toward the students’ legitimate concerns and questions. It is truly unacceptable.

    So many of those who have asked for transparency and accountability on the part of the town’s education leadership have been stamped as uninformed, lacking facts, fanciful and worse.

    Hopefully those responsible for education will begin to listen to those most directly affected by their decisions.

  2. “So many of those who have asked for transparency and accountability on the part of the town’s education leadership have been stamped as uninformed, lacking facts, fanciful and worse.”

    I wonder if that might be because some of those claiming to seek transparency and accountability are conveniently ignoring (1) the many meetings involved in the genesis of this plan and (2) the nature of the plan as a tool by which the superintendent can he held accountable – something this district has lacked under prior superintendents. That first point is especially telling. Apparently, some confuse “transparency” with “having their own way”.

    As for “fanciful”, this may be based upon claims such as that the meetings of that “listening tour” never occurred.

    As must remain very clear in so important a debate as this: we’re entitled to our own opinions and our own conclusions and even our own concerns. We’re not entitled to our own facts, however conveniently they may serve one’s argument.


Comments are closed.