It would . . . not . . . end.

The Montclair Board of Education’s December 15 meeting lasted in to the wee hours of December 16, thanks to long discussions about everything from advanced placement (AP) student testing and board ethics to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests, coupled with numerous participants in the public comment – many of them teachers from Bradford School.  The biggest news turned out not to be the PowerPoint presentations on AP tests and ethical standards but the board’s first reading of a policy that would allow parents to opt out of standardized testing.

Montclair Schools Superintendent Penny MacCormack and Montclair Board of Education President David Deutsch
Montclair Schools Superintendent Penny MacCormack and Montclair Board of Education President David Deutsch

While many residents spoke up to express approval of the proposal to great applause, many residents also spoke out harshly toward the board’s policies – also, as always, to great applause.  Resident Christine McGoey spoke for most of them when she said that PARCC was educationally inappropriate, and her husband Michael later said that emphasis on testing would narrow the curriculum while the money spent on the computers needed to administer PARCC came at the expense of developing quality teachers.

The first public commenter, Elizabeth Blaine, was a fourth-grader from Hillside School, who said that while she loved math and reading, she didn’t love the PARCC test.  Elizabeth said that the practice tests included mathematical subjects such as long division and geometry, which she said that she and her classmates hadn’t even learned yet.  She also said she didn’t like taking the test on the computer.

“We have lost six periods due to PARCC preparation,” she lamented.  “The preparation is for the technology on the test.  She said she found the drop-down menus difficult to master.  Board President David Deutsch thanked her for enunciating her concerns very well.

Bradford School teachers, many of whom are Montclair residents, took turns extrapolating on their many concerns, saying that they were troubled by many things.  Examples included an overreliance on the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA)  to gauge students’ reading and writing skills and not fairly judging the comprehension skills of children who happen to be poor writers, as well as the use of developmental workshops that they said took valuable time away from the students.  Local activist Michelle Fine went one better, declaring that the e-mails of 28 Montclair residents were under surveillance.  She said that a Freedom of Information Act request was filed under a pseudonym with the City University of New York, where Fine works, for eighteen months’ worth of e-mails between herself and Mayor Robert Jackson and several other local leaders, many of whom are black.  Fine said she got the request after she challenged racial comparisons between students on a strategic report, which the happened to have several errors.  She is certain that the board did not place the Freedom of Information Act request, but she added that such intimidation smacks of McCarthyism.

“I have nothing to hide,” Dr. Fine said.

Several members of the board, including Schools Superintendent Penny MacCormack, expressed shock over the actions taken against Dr. Fine, but Dr. MacCormack said she failed to understand why she should investigate a Freedom of Information Act request the board had nothing to do with.  She said she would post a response to Dr, Fine regarding the data from the report Dr. Fine cited.

The AP testing presentation was spearheaded by Guidance Director Willieneil French, who told the board that the biggest problem with Montclair AP students’ participation in the AP test is that there weren’t more of them.  Although 89 percent of all Montclair High School AP students who take the test earn scores of 3 and above for college credit, only 41 percent of AP students take the test to begin with.  There are 26 AP courses available at Montclair High School in the arts, science, math, language and social studies.

French said that a key to getting more AP students to take the test and earn college credits is to make students and their parents more aware of them, and also provide reduced fees for eligible students (the fee is normally $91). French added that some students may be deterred because there are colleges that don’t accept AP scores as credits.  Board members David Cummings and Leslie Larson were eager to see more involvement by younger high school students, including freshmen, and board member Jessica de Koninck added that a greater effort should be made to include more minorities in the AP program.  An evening information session for AP students is scheduled for February 19.

Board attorney Isabel Machado also addressed the school board discussing ethical practices.  Her presentation was very straightforward.  She said that the board had to shield itself from all local politics and support the efforts of the administration to implement board practices, and not to make any personal promises or undertake private actions to benefit anyone if it may thus compromise the integrity of the board.  When Deutsch asked about publicly discussing issues regarding school policy, Machado said that this was considered ethical so long as such information was public knowledge, this excluding anything said in executive session.  She added that board members are free to consult with her if they feel they might be violating ethical codes.

Isabel Machado
Isabel Machado

Toward the end of the meeting, emotions got raw as the clock ticked past midnight.  When Larson complained about the nastiness of comments from some members of the public, resident Marcella Simadiris, a regular participant in public comment at school board meetings, angrily denounced her statements, much to the frustration of Deutsch, who tried to restore order.  Simadiris found Larson’s claim that too many teachers parents were afraid to speak out at board meetings because meetings had been taken over by the Montclair Education Association “unbelievable” and walked out yelling, “Your evil is transparent!”

Also, after midnight, the board debated exhaustively on the purchases of Chromebooks for use in  middle schools and the cost it would involve.  The purchases were approved 4-2, with Cummings and board member Anne Mernin voting no and de Koninck abstaining.

The meeting adjourned at 12:40 A.M.

Editor’s note: We welcome comments and encourage different viewpoints. Any comments that involve personal attacks will be deleted. Please do not respond to these comments, but report any comment that is offensive or hostile to us at tips at baristanet dot com. If you are quoted and your name is incorrectly spelled, send an email and we can correct.

41 replies on “Montclair BOE First Reads Policy Allowing For Opting Out of Standardized Testing”

  1. Isn’t it time for an elected BOE here in Montclair? With meetings lasting until after midnight often, this should scream out to us all that SOMETHING is wrong. When teachers are standing at the podium until very late hours with concerns they feel so strongly about, we all need to listen. Teachers are tired, especially this time of year. I am in awe of those MEA members who stood there at the podium last night and they deserve to be heard, REALLY heard. I hope our BOE is listening hard. Our kids are the ones in the middle of this and the teachers, meeting after meeting, are repeatedly approaching that podium with passion and pleas for change.

  2. It hurts me to read that there was shouting and accusations about evil and the such, again. Why can’t we have civil discourse? And while I agree with you qby33 about our dedicated teachers being tired, I would argue that we are all tired right now. Every last one of us. Happy Holidays everyone

  3. Steve, you might want to check your notes on what Larson said: according to what I’ve heard, she was talking about friends of hers (not teachers) who didn’t want to attend BOE meetings because they were afraid they’d be shouted down by union members – who are being inaccurately portrayed by Larson as unreasonable, uncivil, and overly aggressive in their opposition to the Board and MacCormack.

    Perhaps Larson’s friends aren’t quite as passionate in their support of the Board and MacCormack as they’re telling her. If they were, they’d be at the meetings.

    alic314, regarding civility, if the Board’s and MacCormack’s actions weren’t so enraging, divisive, and offensive, there’d be a much more civil dialogue. By finger wagging those who disagree with the Board’s and MacCormack’s actions, decisions, and behavior and labeling them “uncivil”, you’re pretty much saying that we should all shut up and let the Board and MacCormack just do their job – regardless of how it’s affecting our schools, the reputation of Montclair, and our kids.

  4. assessmentgate, wasn’t wagging my finger. Just wish the shouting would stop. Hoping you and yours have a peaceful and Happy Holiday. Seriously, no snark.

  5. While these meetings are important, they should not be allowed to go on into the next morning; perhaps such meetings should be held bi-monthly. Every meeting should not only have a facilitator, but a separate timekeeper who is strong enough to stick to a pre-arranged schedule. Some of us DO have to get up early for work.

    As far as the shouting goes, what a fine example that sets for our children.

  6. Why is Fine talking about FOIA conspiracies and McCarthyism at a meeting on student achievement? It’s so unproductive when there are legitimate concerns that parents and children want to discuss, not to mention the added time to an already exhausting meeting. I’m very impressed by the 4th grader though.

  7. There was nothing uncivil about last night, except maybe the Board’s transparent ‘running down of the clock’ with powerpoint after powerpoint and their usual inane 20 questions after each one. Do we really need to hear every thought in their head? These meetings are colossal time wasters. I wondered what the mayor was thinking last night as he sat there watching his appointees bumble around. Generally speaking, you just can’t help feeling disrespected when you, (taxpayer, citizen) come out to the meeting at 7:30, the Board casually strolls in at 7:40, and starts rambling, filling up the time with THEIR speakers and THEIR questions and then FINALLY get to the public comment portion with the public already feeling tired and beat up well past 9:30. It feels like they (the Board) are having this private meeting with each other and their presenters, and when its over they look up at the audience forgetting that they were there all along and sigh, “oh yeah, YOU people are here’. And they do us a favor by opening up for public comment. Just saying, that is how it feels. 4th grader Elizabeth Blaine summed up what so many parents, kids and teachers are feeling these days. “This stinks”. Finally, KUDOS, CHEERS AND PROPS to Montclair teachers: dedicated, brave, caring professionals who stood together well into the night (it was almost midnight) in solidarity for their profession and OUR kids. Finally, I agree with qby33, we need an elected school board. Period.

  8. For parents opting out, I don’t agree that is the solution, but I completely support you. You obviously care deeply about your children’s education as well as how they are learning.

    In my opinion it’s a pretty big leap to get from not liking the test preparation to throwing the whole kit and caboodle out the window. We are going to have to get used to changes and I think we can transition without hurting our kids. Why? Because we are smart and so are they. My children certainly don’t like the test prep – almost as much as they don’t like tests! That doesn’t mean I’m going to pull them out of the entire system.

  9. Yes, the board could certainly be more courteous with our time. They have their speakers and we also need to be heard, not just tolerated. I also agree with Thanksalatte that members of the public shouldn’t waste our time with their odd accusations like email surveillance when there are real issues to deal with.

  10. Sandybeach, I think it is far more serious than you realize. When we first moved here and started the kindergarten school tour process, we were told by many, some of the schools ‘teach to the test.’ It was whispered to us at cocktail parties, denied by Uber pta moms at school tours and when it came down to it and we started school, we really couldn’t tell. Our son got off to a good start and was doing fine. Whether all that was true or not, now it is certain: All of Montclair Schools are teaching to the test. My very smart son has been racing through math with very little computation homework, (he is still shaky on his times tables and he is in 4th grade) and brings home homework sheets with multiple choice questions and word problems (PARCC Test prep). When asked what 8×7 is he says, oh, we learned that last year. He is mastering NOTHING except test lingo. He guesses his way on homework and tests and usually gets the right answer because that is how these kids are being taught. The teachers are under so much pressure to teach to this test that they are no longer EDUCATING. They were out in record numbers last night stating this. Because they care about educating our kids. Montclair Public Schools are now all teaching to the test……learning is dead. And if more parents don’t open their eyes and really take notice to what is going on instead of just accepting what is presented as ‘good change’ ‘raising the standards’ and ‘making our kids college and career ready’ this town, this state and this country is going to be in for a rude awakening. Unless you can supplement with Kumon, private tutors or god forbid private school, you are screwed. Wake up you Upper West Side and Park Slope transplants: take notice, take charge and speak up or you will all be crawling back to NYC having taken a bath on your overpriced center hall colonial, (cause nobody will want to move here in a few years) in search of a charter school, progressive public school or private school that will admit your little undereducated child. We are progressive thinkers. We believe in the democratic process. We value education. This is not just about not liking ‘test preparation’ as you put it and throwing out the whole kit and caboodle. My kid only gets to to to elementary school once. I want him to be an informed, educated, enlightened, impassioned and compassionate citizen. He spends 30 hours a week in a Montclair Elementary school and many of those hours are spent learning how to take a test. I want more for him.

  11. The PARCC has no purpose but to collect data on individual students, and evaluate teachers and schools. What this data will be used for is not clear; allegedly to establish some sort of baseline for college/career readiness. Parents aware of their child’s progress, and in contact with the school can achieve the same information and make informed decisions regarding their child’s education. Parents are not ill informed and in need of the state/federal government and private testing corporations, to instruct them to trust that they have students best interests at heart and are not just interested in the billions of dollars that can be siphoned from public education. If, indeed, as according to the superintendent, the PARCC will not be used for anything having to do with student placement or classroom achievement, every parent should opt their children out of this totally inappropriate and needless assessment.

  12. In regards to this part of the article on AP tests “The AP testing presentation was spearheaded by Guidance Director Willieneil French, who told the board that the biggest problem with Montclair AP students’ participation in the AP test is that there weren’t more of them.”

    Let’s see…they cost $91 each. Now let’s tie that in with the socioeconomic gap in some of these charts. I know of kids (yes, even here in Montclair) that don’t have a computer at home. Relying on the library isn’t the best option. Maybe a small portion of our tax dollars can go towards waiving that $91/fee or maybe arranging for computers to homes of those who can’t afford them.

  13. 1. Leslie Larson is right – Many many people choose to apply their advocacy by working towards positive change rather than shouting at Board Meetings. And they have been very effective.

    2. Complaining that the Board uses it’s meeting time for presentations about what is happening in the district and then (gasp) asking questions about them is odd. I want them to hear and ask questions of administrators. Its a Board of Ed meeting. Public comment is only one part of the agenda.
    3.The fact that a meeting goes on until the wee hours is, to me, indicative of a Board that is willing to listen to as many commenters as there are. This is a good thing…right?

  14. meccamagic, you are correct about the PARCC, it will collect data only on student acheivement to evaluate schools and teachers, but teachers and parents do not have access to an individual child’s results, which means it cannot be used for individual assessment, placement or any other diagnostic purpose.

    If that strikes you as non-sensical, you’re on to something. But if you follow the money you’ll have an understanding of how we got here. Much of the rest of the nation is figuring that out, and hope we can wise up soon here in NJ.

    As others have said, as long as Montclair has an unelected board this will continue. The Board and Super have no reason to listen to the public because they don’t owe their position to the people of Montclair. Wake up folks. You’re letting your once proud school system fall into a sad state.

  15. montclairmommy, if you’re truly looking for behavior that sets a bad example for our kids, look no further than the BOE and MacCormack. Their antics include:

    – subpoenaing neighbors who criticize their actions!
    – spending money secretively and wastefully!
    – bringing unwanted really bad press to our town!
    – changing the rules of meetings when they don’t serve their agenda!
    – not including the scores of special needs students to show improvements in district test results!
    – presenting questionable data to justify merit pay!

    Kinda makes shouting seem like not such a big deal, eh? In fact, maybe the behavior of the BOE/MacCormack justifies raising your voice in protest…

  16. helenm, from my experience with other BoEs, when there are that many people with comments, on a regular basis, the Board has issues. When you have that many people with comments, and then there’s cheering by the audience when critical comments are made, then you have real big problems. And that’s usually followed by a change at the next election, if it’s possible.

    And when people are happy with their board the meetings tend to be empty.

  17. Assessmentgate – Lets take a look at your points:

    – subpoenaing neighbors who criticize their actions! PLEASE PROVIDE AN EXAMPLE.


    – bringing unwanted really bad press to our town! HUH?

    – changing the rules of meetings when they don’t serve their agenda! PLEASE SITE ONE RULE THAT HAS BEEN CHANGED, PLEASE.

    – not including the scores of special needs students to show improvements in district test results! ASSESSMENTGATE, READ THE DATA. YOUR ASSERTING IS JUST NOT CORRECT.
    [Portion of comment removed]

    Kinda makes shouting seem like not such a big deal, eh? In fact, maybe the behavior of the BOE/MacCormack justifies raising your voice in protest…BTW, I AM PUTTING ALL IN CAPS BECAUSE I AM YELLING. I AM SORRY, I HOPE YOU ARE NOT THREATENED.

  18. A bit surprised by mcasgate’s anger. [portion of comment removed] Back on topic though…I have to agree with SSPete, if people were happy with the BOE and the Superintendant…the meetings would be ending MUCH earlier and the room would be pretty empty.

  19. There is something so terribly wrong when a board of edu mtg goes until after midnight. They stall and delay in an effort to wear the public out and hope they will go home before public comments. Last night they basically held an internal HR mtg that dragged on forever! They remind me of the lawyer who sends over hundreds of boxes of documents hoping you’ll never go through each one to find the one really important document you need to win your case!

  20. [portion of comment removed] Gail Clarke has turned around two schools, she is beloved by the community, she is a person, a member of our community….say what you will about PARCC or whatever, but people should not be treated that way. Ms. Clarke has nothing to prove and for all she has done for this community her integrity should not be questioned – and certainly not publicly humiliated. And yes, you are right, some of us are angry. These Board meetings have become an embarrassment. They are ruled by the Union. Parents are afraid to attend and show support for Principals, the strategic plan, the Superintendent, the Board. Parents fear their will be retribution by these teacher against their kids if they say anything remotely kind or positive. Anyone who is not in support of the Union gets booed, they get heckled, they are called a racist! This is all fact, go to a meeting! I have a couple of more years till my kids are out and then I am I think we need to leave and that makes me sad and angry. I should not feel this way about my town, the place I invested my life. This is not Montclair I moved to.

  21. There is something so terribly wrong when a board of ed mtg goes until after midnight. They stall and delay in an effort to wear the public out and hope they will go home before public comments. Last night they basically held an internal HR mtg that dragged on forever! They remind me of the lawyer who sends over hundreds of boxes of documents hoping you’ll never go through each one to find the one really important document you need to win your case!

  22. Baristanet-your article didn’t mention any of the comments regarding the Spanish immersion program proposed for Northeast School. This program doesn’t seem well thought out and doesn’t belong in a school with only 3 classes per grade. Seems like this deserves a lot more discussion and research. Why is the Board of Ed pushing it?

  23. Mcasgate, I have probably been to more BOE meetings than you or any of the people you mention. Your opinion of people seems to be completely opposite of mine. In all instances. I have listened to every speaker at these meetings for about three years. This is a PUBLIC school system. I believe the people who serve on the BOE need to listen to the PUBLIC and start to correct what is wrong. My child is in the thick of this mess. If I had the means, I’d be homeschooling. I actually hear many people discussing this option now. As for the union taking over, isn’t that Leslie Larson’s words from last night? The MEA seems to be communicating what the problems are. Is anyone listening?

  24. Cont.
    As for fearing retribution, I don’t buy it! When I believed in my heart that things were wrong I have always spoken up whether it was at a BOE meeting or another school meeting. When I speak the truth, I have nothing to fear.

  25. I thought it was against the rules here to “out” someone, regardless of whether the “outer” is right or wrong (or completely unhinged) in their conjecture.

  26. [portion of comment removed] The majority of people in Montclair love their schools, love their teachers and love the fact that we have a Superintendent and Board that over communicates, have finally got our financial house in order, are addressing tough issues like the achievement gap, are finally modernizing our schools and ensure that the investment is equitable – and most of all have actually created a strategic plan for our future. Three years ago, there was no plan, no vision, no one was accountable to anything. The 40 or so people who show up to the Board meeting, trust me do not represent Montclair. They are two groups – teachers hand selected by Gayl Sheppard, who btw Montclair, is the only Teacher Union Head in Montclair that does not teach. Yes, the town pays her $80K a year to just have her show up to Board meetings and organize demonstrations against the school. Look at the teacher’s contract its a fact. The second group are MCAS – who have the time to troll the internet and show up to these Board meeting. The majority of people in this town are working late or with their families or are satisfied with the school system. MCAS is paid for by the teachers unions, they get money from them directly. Who pays for all photocopying of these OPRA requests they make? in addition, their leaders are people whose real goal is to become the next Diane Ravitch, all they want is national publicity. As upset as I am that you have hijacked our community meetings, I do know one thing – the more you guys speak out, the more people you alienate in this town. Your anger, your tone, its just does not represent this Montclair. You all are just talking to yourselves. I just truly wish you could do it in a way that does not scare so many people or hurt people like Ms. Clarke. Shame on you.

  27. “The majority of people in this town are working late or with their families or are satisfied with the school system. ”

    You hit the nail on the head. This happens to be the case and is also a great note to end this thread on. Lets shut it down here. Thanks.

  28. mcasgate, you asked for proof of my allegations.

    Here you go:

    – subpoenaing neighbors who criticize their actions!

    – spending money secretively and wastefully!–robin-kulwins-dishonestcareless-spending–do-we-pay-the-bill-or-question-it

    – bringing unwanted really bad press to our town!
    Take your pick:

    (plus dozens more in the Star Ledger)

    – changing the rules of meetings when they don’t serve their agenda!

    – not including the scores of special needs students to show improvements in district test results!

    Now perhaps you can provide some verifiable proof of all of your assertions. Sorry, starry-eyed opinions and unhinged rants don’t count.

  29. The delusion here is part of this FEBA campaign to create the perception that the “majority of people in Montclair” approve of this common core Agenda being forced on our students and teachers. The majority of people do love their schools and take pride in the town, which is why it’s so upsetting to have it all disrupted by an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Parents don’t fear retribution from the teachers. That’s preposterous. The teachers fear losing their jobs for speaking out against poorly written word problems that require teaching how to comprehend the word tricks rather than teaching established and proven math methodologies. The children are being introduced to algebraic concepts in First grade. That’s great but not when its at the expense of subtraction/addition/division etc.. You don’t administer tricky word problems written in poorly structured and unclear arrangements to 1st graders who are still developing their reading…let alone reading comprehension. The parents and teachers are being bullied into accepting this under the mantra of “this is happening everywhere across the country”.

    It’s one thing to introduce new and unorthodox ways to stimulate thinking processes, but it’s another thing to replace the curriculum with troublesome and unproven innovations and then to grade on it. When 40 something parents with advanced engineering degrees are stumped as to what a question on an exam or homework means for their 1st grade child, that’s a sure sign that it will be problematic to expect the first grader to be graded and evaluated based upon the same.

    The Board really needs to be elected and not appointed. You just can’t be so oblivious to the concerns of the families who are affected and held captive by this Common Core curriculum and all of the tactics used to implement it. The teachers are told that they are not qualified to determine what’s best for the kids.

  30. OK, we’re getting a little carried away here. A group of concerned parents who speak out is now being paid by the MEA? Seriously? Does that mean that this parents who support the superintendent are in the employ of the BOE? It may explain why there is no money to pay our Para’s their benefits, or employ full time World Language teachers in our elementary schools for all of our students. When MCAS conducts a forum and large numbers of people show up to become better informed, are they being paid by the MEA? Is there a concern that more parents are beginning to voice their concerns regarding the superintendent, the BOE and how they are affecting our schools, or their opposition to PARCC? Are they working for the MEA as well? The statement about people not coming to meetings goes both ways, people also do not attend because they are not happy with the actions of the superintendent, this is what I am hearing. Teachers and Administrators are not hand picked by anyone, they have genuine concerns about the current curriculum and how it is being narrowed and no longer appropriate for students, and they are not afraid to say so.
    I have a strong feeling that the days of an appointed BOE and the lack of transparency when hiring a superintendent are numbered.

  31. Stonebridge, you hit the nail on the head.

    mcasgate, you write, “no one was accountable to anything.” I think you are the one who is delusional. Three years ago there were standards in all subject areas for curriculum; there were state-mandated standardized tests; there were teacher evaluations; there were public comments at Board meetings. There was accountability, and to state otherwise is an attempt to rewrite history.

    Three years ago, the MEA president was included in every Board meeting agenda, and removing this from the agenda was a thinly veiled attempt to silence teachers. The teachers speaking at Board meetings this year are by no means “hand-picked” by Ms. Shepard; they are Montclair citizens who are taking the time out of their very busy lives to address serious issues with the quality of education in town. We all need to listen to them. The majority of teachers in Montclair have advanced degrees and years of experience working with children, and I trust their judgment when they say that things are going downhill. We can see it for ourselves in the types of assignments by kids bring home, the preponderance of Pearson-generated and/or test-aligned worksheets. The Common Core standards were not designed by practicing educators; Pearson texts and tests are not written by educators. I have no reason to believe their claims of efficacy and efficiency when what they are producing is untried, untested, and based on assumptions no true educator would make. It is heartbreaking to see our schools, so long a model of progressive ideas and programs, being squashed into bland, monotonous spaces where the dictates of a highly flawed test override the needs and development of children.

  32. I’m a little bit puzzled on why giving more options to parents on the PARCC should lead to more attacks on MacCormack and the Board. As far as Common Core goes, it doesn’t have an “agenda,” it is an attempt to lift students up to a certain level of learning and leaves how to get there up to local control. Like everyone else I’m very impressed by Blaine’s testimony to the board, it’s up to 33k hits on YouTube already. [Portion of comment removed]

  33. [Portion of comment removed]

    If someone is using the Freedom of Information Act to gain emails that clearly pertain to her issues with the Superintendent and the Board and communications with other critics I do find that disconcerting and am glad she brought it to public attention. It sounds like the up same kind of witch hunt conducted after the assessments were leaked.

    As for the common core and the PARRCS an awful lot of educated people would disagree with your assessment that there is no agenda. There is a political and money trail miles and miles wide. As for me I will be refusing the tests. I took a sample ELA test for 3rd grade and it was awful. Why on earth would I subject my child to such a test? How on earth does he benefit? Refusing the tests is my way of protecting my son from cruel and unusual punishment. My opinion but I am entitled to it. The common core curriculum we chose certainly is awful in my opinion. If you say it’s local control than I guess I know who to blame for that.

    People should make up their own minds on the he tests. Take a sample test yourself and then decide if your child should spend upwards of nine hours on thinks stuff.

    By the way, the 14 the amendment gives parents the right to guide their children’s education and therefore refuse the tests.

  34. Whether or not you think Race to the Top and the implementation of the Common Core are good, bad, or otherwise, it’s hard to argue that these programs have increased local control over education.

    To oversimplify, critics on the right tend to see these programs as the DOE overstepping its constitutional authority by dictating educational standards and policies in the states. Critics on the left have come to see these programs as corrupted by corporate influence, and even as a way to scapegoat teachers and undermine public education. Many in the middle believe that a minor loss of local control is worth the improvement that comes with seemingly higher standards and the hope of closing the acheivement gap.

    Again, I’m generalizing, but you would be hard pressed to find people in any of these groups who believe these programs are increasing local control over education.

  35. @baristanet I am wondering why part of my comment was removed? I was just wondering why some things were being allowed on here! I thought name calling wasn’t allowed and now I was called delusional. I state my opinions without calling names, I would expect the same respect..

  36. Also….we all love our schools. Or at least we are trying REALLY hard to. It is my firm belief that if you really care about your town, your schools and your child’s (and other children’s) education you get involved and you make sure what’s happening is right. Some of us obviously have issues with what is going on in this town. Speaking for only myself….I have issues with these particular things. 1) a Superintendent who comes in and hires so many people at Central Office, yet takes away employees that are hands on with students. I would rather have two or three extra Paras for the salary of one PR person. 2) A BOE who shows a complete lack of respect for the MEA and for parents who come to the mic 3) that there was no accountability for the assessments that were leaked and the wasted $ on said assessments. 4) the amount of money spent on bonuses when some Paras are working without a contract or HEALTH BENEFITS. When the BOE and Superintendent fix these issues, I will then have no reason to comment on these boards about them or attend BOE meetings until after midnight. Lets hope they are listening.

  37. Editor’s note: We welcome comments and encourage different viewpoints. Any comments that involve personal attacks will be deleted. Please do not respond to these comments, but report any comment that is offensive or hostile to us at tips at baristanet dot com.

  38. I think dialogue is good. We need some good back and forth dialogue to get along don’t we? Why is there no back and forth dialogue with the BOE and these educators who come to the BOE meetings? I’m curious if there is an actual law that states if a person HAS to reside in Montclair to speak at Montclair BOE meetings? Does anyone have the answer to this question? Unfortunately I know a few that don’t live here, but would like to speak. I say unfortunately because that would make the nights even longer, wouldn’t it? My point still being, if the BOE doesn’t start to address these issues, no one will be getting much sleep one Monday night per month.

  39. mtcliving,

    You’re right. There needs to be weekly discussion with parents to answer all the questions about the Spanish immersion program at Northeast. Decades of research on all the benefits of immersion mean nothing if parents aren’t informed. This program might be new to Montclair but it’s 30 years behind the leaders in this style of education. Based on the research, I’m surprised all three Kindergarten classes aren’t immersion. I guess the district doesn’t want to force parents to give there kids a better future academically and with the gift of fluency in a second language.

    Some of the past discussions:

    Montclair Pre-K

    First MTC Roundtable

    Second MTC Roundtable

    Third MTC Roundtable

    Fall immersion update


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