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Archive for August, 2007|Monthly archive page

Bad news for Ridgewood in DOE’s Just Released School Violence Report

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2007 at 1:44 pm


Today (8/30), the Ledger reported on the Department of Education’s latest report on school violence, vandalism, weapons and substance abuse. The report contains some very troubling news for Ridgewood. This is regardless of the fact that the reporting across districts and counties may be flawed, though not flawed enough to render the report irresponsible. It would be wise for administrators to pay close heed to these findings and consider what they have done in the past that either has not worked, or may have inadvertently exacerbated the problem. Here’s a comparative look of four districts in the report: Glen Rock, Hackensack, Ridgewood and Newark.

Glen Rock, with an enrollment of 2,471 students, reported a total number of 8 incidences of the above
Hackensack City, with an enrollment of 5,059, students reported a total number of 24 incidences
Ridgewood, with an enrollment of 5,553 students, reported a total of 95 incidences.
Newark City, with an enrollment of 41,855 students, reported a total of 414 incidences (unless you’re terc impaired, you know that that would extrapolate to more incidences by percentage in Ridgewood).

Could it be that Glen Rock, Hackensack and Newark are drastically underreporting or does Ridgewood have more than a Starbucks’s problem? Regardless, our administrators owe Ridgewood parents and taxpayers a revealing discussion of this issue rather than the usual explaining away of what the numbers mean. The full report is available at:

http://www.state.nj.us/education/schools/vandv/0506/appende1.pdf

Ridgewood’s Infamous TERC Experiment: A tale worth telling:

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2007 at 10:24 pm

1. One find day a Travell teacher attended a program or seminar or something headlined by an expert education entity;
2. The teacher is treated to a marketing campaign (masqueraded, of course, as unbiased, expert information) on the wonders of the new, new math a/k/a terc with all the buzz words thrown in for emphasis;
3. The teacher is completely sold and comes back to Travell extolling the wonders and virtues of reform math and, especially, terc;
4. The principal is eager show leadership skills by bringing an innovative program to his school–not unlike the way Orchard’s principal brought the teacher’s college reading/writing program to the district after first putting it in place at his school. Principals get lots of kudos for stuff like this;
5. At Travell, the principal gets other teachers on board and training begins. Soon, terc is implemented with little supplementation of real math because the “belief” quotient is still high;
6. Meanwhile, back at Cottage Place, Botsford is looking for a way to make math in the district less of a patchwork quilt and is a reform babe herself. She loves terc and looks for the next school that will take it on–given our penchant for school-based management, it’s one school at a time;
7. Orchard is the perfect fit because it has long been used as the experimentation school as a result of its small size and very compliant HSA;
8. Orchard’s principal is a mathematician and feels that he can handle any program, even one he must mitigate since he has the expertise to diminish the negative by product of terc. He signs on, gaining friends in high places. This is the second phase of a plan to next roll out terc to Somerville, then Ridge, Hawes and Willard. At the middle school level, BF gets a go and GW is soon to follow, before wrapping everything up implementing reform math at the high school. Hallelulia, Botsford sees the seeds of success in her main task just around the horizon;
9. Parents at Travell begin to see some of their once bright children, starting to struggle and complain about the stupid math that’s not like math at all. These parents begin to raise the issue within their school;
10. The principal, knowing that he is a key part of a far grander scheme, is not receptive to a “few” parents wanting to alter his exceptional math experiment. The teachers are still extolling the virtues of terc and the Cottage Place administrators–blinded because they are not on the front lines–have invested very high levels of “belief” in the program;
11. Travell’s scores are not improving. In fact, they are getting worse;
12. Administrators respond by stepping on the terc gas to increase the teacher training and bury the kids in reform math propaganda. “Belief” is winning out over common sense and the long range plan to have reform math as the district-wide curricula for math;
13. Parents, suffused with research, charts and expert opinion from high end mathematicians, bring their concerns out to the public-at-large and to the BOE.
14. The BOE turns to its administrators to explain its wonderful plan and “better communicate” the terc beliefs to parents, who obviously missed it. Parents, however, are not falling for platitudes, nor for the sales pitch on the package;
15. The BOE tries to appease parents by showing how well students are meeting the state standards–hoping to defend against parents claiming that a bad program has failed numerous grades of children–even their own child. The BOE has a plan to strengthen its forces with a superintendent steeped in reform math and, therefore, better able to protect board members from the growing wrath of parents, since Botsford is not adept at the task;
16. Made aware of the math fight, the superintendent gets cold feet and decides not to come. BOE members are shattered that they must now defend themselves without their incoming general. Unable to acknowledge that terc is bad (because it would be an admittance that kids who had it, paid the ultimate price for their bad judgment), they plan to fight on with their state standards strategy;
17. The strategy backfires as parents recognize and point out publicly that the state standards are abysmal in NJ. The BOE and its administrators have no other plan and the district-wide rollout of reform math stops dead in its tracks;
18. New interim principal is hired and he has to clean up the mess. He recognizes (and is able to admit) that reform math won’t serve ALL children in high school. This also undermines the claim of administrators that this math was for ALL children;
19. Since it’s not yet at the high school, reform math is dead on arrival there. That effectively eliminates the need to preach its virtues for the middle schools and, it will follow, at the elementary schools;
20. Look for reform math to slowly fade out of Travell and Orchard, where it never realy ruled the day. Look for CMP2 to slowly slide back to real math at the middle schools;
21. Don’t look for the BOE to ever admit that it made a mistake. The board could never begin to pay the price for those children it messed up with their well meaning but devastating terc experiment.

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Ridgewood Train Station the Video

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2007 at 1:20 pm

Turf Supporter Speaks Up for Maple Field

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2007 at 1:50 am

I doubt that anyone who supported the renovation at Maple Park is upset that a few people in town don’t like it, for whatever reasons they may have. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I also know that the majority of the largest supporters did so out of a sense of responsibility to their families and fellow residents, in other words, for the common good, not a desire for recognition. If you go back and read the posts, you will see that the only people on this blog who have asked for the names to be recognized were those seeking to identify those, upon whom they could cast their slurs and insults.

Personally, I find it offensive that some who don’t like the turf, feel compelled to fabricate information, which they pass off as “facts”, in an attempt to convince others that the renovation was ill-conceived or the turf is dangerous to the environment, more fragile than grass, a safety hazard, will cost taxpayers $2mm in 10 years or any other of a dozen false statements. The truth is a very different story.

If you don’t like renovations at Maple Park and wish it was still a dirt lot with overgrown weeds and that cost us all $30,000 in tax dollars a year to “maintain”, that is your choice. But, please don’t perpetuate lies about it and insist that anyone who has taken the time to learn the truth and chooses to support the sensible and fiscally responsible use of turf in appropriate locations in Ridgewood to benefit thousands of children is wrong…they just have a different point of view than you. If you have truthful statements that support your view, please share them. But, either way, try to respect other people’s right to disagree with

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Reader Claims ,"There is a huge misunderstanding about the "expansion" of Valley Hospital in town"

In Uncategorized on August 27, 2007 at 9:43 pm

Yes they want to expand and yes they want to modernize. OK They need to keep up to date and yes we need to have them in town I get it. What I don’t get is the fact that they want to build SO close to homes and to build something that is proported to be not aesthically pleasing. (no one knows what it will look like but the initial plans published by Valley look bad) Coming into Ridgewood should be a pleasant experience – tree lined streeets and well maintained homes.

I certainly don’t want Ridgewood to be known for its industrial looking buildings, but for its trees, and lawns and beautiful houses.You can go anywhere in the state and see where hospitals have expanded and have not kept the character of their location in focus.Sure it may cost the hospital a little more money to pay for an architect that respects the local flavor, but on a project this size it would be peanuts.The hospital should grow but not at the expense of the flavor of the neighborhood.

Please keep the beauty of this town in mind as I’m sure all who bought homes here took the look of the neighborhood into consideration when buying whether you bought on a main road, a quiet dead end road, on the hill, near the railroad tracks or next to the hospital.Please keep yourselves informed about what is happening in town and come to town meetings to get the truth as opposed to rumor and hearsay. Keep your emotions in check and make your decisions based on the facts and keep the identity of this town (a beautiful place to live) in mind.

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Reader Speaks out and says this isnt the 1950’s anymore

In Uncategorized on August 27, 2007 at 5:59 pm

These are some of the most ridiculous and selfish comments I have read on this blog. I am continually amazed by the arrogance and selfishness of people in Ridgewood, who tout the character of our town and demand the highest standards of service and resources, yet are unwilling to pay for them. Whether a it is a new field, a new service or a new building, how many times have we heard something like, “it wasn’t like that in the 1950’s, so we don’t need it now”.

That is an absurd rationale and illustrates a fundamental lack of understanding and appreciation of civic planning, municipal management and community responsibility.Any rational and thoughtful Ridgewood resident wants a local hospital that can offer the best medical care possible. There may be situations that require patients to seek specialists in NYC or elsewhere. But, that shouldn’t mean we force Valley to make due with antiquated and inappropriate zoning and require all Ridgewood residents to live with the consequences of long-term declining services. I hope my family never needs Valley’s services. But, I want to know that it is there if we need it and I certainly don’t want to “have to go” to Hackensack or NYC to get the best care, if my family has a medical emergency.

I live near RHS and the campus buildings, which overshadow our homes (and from some views have a very “institutional” look) have not diminished our neighborhood. Nor will Valley’s plans diminish the neighborhoods around the hospital compared to today’s appearance. It will certainly not diminish the view from BF field. The eye sore there is the back side of the school, BF’s parking lot, dumpsters and broken fences, not Valley Hospital. In fact, the trees that shield the field from Valley Hospital may be the most attractive view from the field.Like our school system, Valley Hospital is a valuable asset that enhances the quality of life in the community and distinguishes Ridgewood from less desirable neighboring communities. Also like our school system, it requires periodic improvements and upgrades and deserves our support for well planned fiscally responsible change.

The Fly is buzzing….

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2007 at 6:44 am

Dr. Brennan will be discussing and updating the K-8 MATH RESPONSIVENESS PLAN at this Monday’s BOE meeting. In addition, Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida, facilitator, will provide an update to the Board on the progress of this same plan. All interested parties should plan on attending and speak during public comment. The more voices heard, the better!

The fly responds to questions…

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2007 at 11:10 pm

I know this is the wrong place to ask this, but is that above comment correct? Did the town really give this church $10,000 to tear down the house? I called Village Hall today, asked the question, and I got transferred for 20 minutes… engineering, zoning, parks dept, etc. No one would comment.

Not sure of the answer. The word I got was that the Church was paying just over $20K for the job. However, the Church was not obligated to fill in the hole left behind, nor to do other site work in preparation for the property being turned into a park ,perhaps the $10K covers that work; i.e., filling in the hole, leveling the land, and removing the fence.

She’s Back! – Jumpin’ Jane Reilly Returns to BOE Payroll

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2007 at 10:43 pm

From August 27, 2007 BOE Meeting Agenda:

xi. Approval:? Supplemental Work Beyond Contract 2006-2007 School Year
Public Information Officers

Debra Anderson, at an hourly rate of $37.50 Jane Reilly, at an hourly rate of $37.50
The BOE is also scheduled to appoint Ms. Anderson as Public Information Officer for the period September 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008 at a salary of $30,000.
Under the agenda heading “Finance,” BOE members are scheduled to formally approve contracts for a security system in the amount of $738K, and an energy management service annual monitoring fee of $75K.

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the fly has learned….

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Those that live in the Travell and Orchard locale should know that your elementary school has purchased and will use TERC 2nd edition. The latest version of that mathematically illiterate program. It is still mathematically illiterate, even the 2nd time around. How else do you describe a program that writes in its teacher’s manual the “carrying” algorithm for 3rd graders is not addressed.

But know, your child in affluent R-I-D-G-E-W-O-O-D is using the SAME program just accepted for use at Title I School, Battle Monument, in the Trenton School District.

http://www.nj.gov/education/title1/accountability/restructure0607.pdf

Also, if that is not alarming enough, consider this. In “Planning an ARTS-CENTERED School” by The Dana Foundation, the mathematics curriculum of choice is TERC Investigations. http://www.dana.org/WorkArea/downloadasset.aspx?id=8102 The cutting, pasting, coloring, drawing in TERC pairs well with ART classes.

And for those in Willard, Somerville, Ridge, and Hawes, do not be so blind as to think you are immune to what is transpiring in the other parts of the town. Your children will grow to attend George Washington Middle School or Ben Franklin Middle School, both home to the Connected Math Program.

That is also being used at the Title I School, Battle Monument, in the Trenton School District.

http://www.nj.gov/education/title1/accountability/restructure0607.pdf

And if you think those that brought the programs into this district are bothered by these comparisons, think again. They were promoting Ridgewood’s CMP usage BEFORE Ridgewood even completed a full year of the program. Is it an attempt to make Ridgewood the poster child for reform math?

http://www.westex.org/temp/connectedmathBaggs052107.pdf