Politics is local and we can have the most impact on our school boards

Your superintendent is the highest paid, most powerful public official in the municipality. Do you know his name?

Elected board members, although well intentioned are easily led by their paid employees; teachers & administrators.

Do you know what they're all doing? Well here in New Jersey they represent at least 60% of your property tax bill and budgets grow at an astounding compound rate each year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

As promised, commentary on Deborah Grefe's 12/8 Power Point

On December 8, 2010 Deborah Grefe, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction opened her presentation by telling the audience that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) contained four basic education reform principles but then listed only three:

· Stronger accountability for results.
· Increased flexibility and local control.
· An emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work.

I’d make an issue of the missing principle but that first PowerPoint slide was the only reference to specific objectives or actions taken by the district to meet them. At program end however there was an overall assessment of progress, which I figure included the three named and one mysterious legislated principle.

In terms of test results for regular instruction Language Arts RT lagged behind all Morris County districts in our socio economic group between 3 an 8 percentage points with six grade Language Arts the most deficient.

In math, the district lags behind our counter parts between 2 and 6 percent with 3rd graders being most deficient.

Now instead of addressing reform principles or a proposed action plan, Superintendent Vitta suggested the public ponder the Morris districts comprising our socio economic group. It was as if he threw up his hands and said “but look at who our competition is”. Well Vitta likes to compare his job with private sector CEOs and we know Sam Walton never complained that Kmart was his competition, he just planned a strategy to succeed. Vitta’s salary is 40k more than Governor Christie and RT deserves something better than lame ass excuses.

The community insult continued with a discussion of how tracking students rather than grade levels would be more beneficial. And I thought, “Quarterly report cards track student progress the goal of NSLB is improvement of the system.

Grefe pressed on stating “what teachers do is less important than what teachers are able to get students to do!” Does anyone know what that nonsense phrase means?

Mercifully, the presentation concluded with a quote by Thomas Friedman:

· When I was growing up, my parents used to say to me; “finish your dinner, people in China and India are starving. My advice to you today is finish your homework, people in China and India are starving for your jobs.”

So I guess that means failing schools is our kids’ fault. But rest assured Grefe and Vitta will ask us to pass the next school budget to maintain our high standards for education.

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