voters as being potentially dangerous?

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2008 at 7:00 pm

We couldn’t help but notice that he refers to voters as “strangers” and later, anyone entering the schools as “visitors.” Is there something here that betrays a view of voters as being potentially dangerous?

Superintendent’s Corner
November 2008
Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D.

The Superintendent’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
Garlic potatoes! Those two words sum up Thanksgiving for me. Year after year this one concern defines the holiday in our household: Who’s making the garlic potatoes this year? Who makes them the best? Who really makes them the best?
Thanksgiving! There’s nothing better than spending time at home with family and friends, or visiting others to share good cheer and food. The pressures associated with gifts and other holiday trappings are absent, leaving only simple worries, such as whether the garlic potatoes make it to the table. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is casual in dress, yet rich in conversation and spirituality. My Thanksgiving Day always begins with a traditional Turkey Day run with former high school track teammates. We may all be getting older, but we would never dare complain to each other about our aches and pains (that’s what families are for). Later we enjoy the three standard Thanksgiving football games: the Ridgewood High School game in the morning, our family game on the front lawn, and finally, the Dallas Cowboys on TV later in the day. (Yes, I did write the Dallas Cowboys!) This wonderful, long holiday weekend is an ongoing celebration of family, friends, food, and home — all the things that make us feel safe.

The Ridgewood Public Schools are our children’s “home away from home” each day of the school year, and this reassuring sense of place is sustained by district policies and procedures designed to make our buildings and facilities as secure and safe as possible. This fall our district has dealt with trespassers in two of our buildings, two precautionary evacuations due to the smell of gas at another, and concerns about strangers entering our schools to vote on Election Day. In each of these situations, good decisions were made in accordance with the high value we place on the safety of each and every child and employee. These instances also presented opportunities to test and fine-tune our district’s safety procedures. Election Day, in particular, provided a unique living history lesson for our students as they observed our neighbors at the voting booths. Every child had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness both democracy in action and history being made as the country elected our first African-American president.
We want our buildings to be a welcoming place for our children and visitors alike. It is especially important that visitors – including parents and guardians – can enter our buildings and see the enormity of the education process and the excitement and wonder in learning that happens inside. Every day, dozens of times, we welcome visitors as part of the valuable partnership we have with the Ridgewood community.
To safeguard this partnership, parents, guardians, residents and all others are asked to respect and follow the district’s simple but safety-minded procedures when visiting our schools.

Everyone, except our students and school staff members, must be buzzed into the school buildings and report to the respective main offices to sign in and obtain visitors’ badges. We cannot achieve our safety goals without the assistance and support of everyone working in the district, as well as the community at large.
Our district has three important communication avenues in place to contact family members, guardians and caretakers in the unlikely event of a weather-related, or other safety-related, emergency during school hours. The first is our Swift911 system, which was established last year to facilitate rapid contact with parents and guardians about emergency situations, school closings, early dismissals or other important issues affecting our students. This system allows us to send personalized messages to a home phone, cell phone, work phone or e-mail, and to reach the entire Ridgewood Public Schools family within minutes. Parents and guardians should take time to make sure that emergency contact information is up to date. The Community Pass system is the venue for reviewing that data.

In addition to Swift911, any urgent communications will be posted on the home page of the district’s website, where links to the pages on Emergency Closings and the Emergency Response Plan can also be found. Finally, for those who haven’t already done so, please sign up for the free rps.eNews service, which provides up-to-date district news via e-mail. In the event of an emergency closing or other urgent situation, an e-mail bulletin will be sent to all subscribers. Links for subscribing to rps.eNews, editing emergency contact information using Community Pass, and reviewing the District Emergency Information pages can all be found on the home page of the RPS website at http://www.ridgdewood.k12.nj.us.

Finally, if you are a parent and hear rumors that concern you, please reach out to your child’s Principal. Borrowing from a post-9/11 radio ad: If you see something, say something.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I hope you find time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures with family and friends. Whether it is garlic potatoes or some other favorite recipe, may it be sweet and delicious. I hope this Thanksgiving brings you all the hope and happiness that it brings me each and every year.

  1. I dare say aren’t those “voters” the same people who pay for our schools?

  2. The disconnect by Mr. Fishbein, his administrators and the HSA moms from the fact that the voters fund the RPS System is simply amazing.

    It’s an attitude of, “give us your money, now go away.”

  3. Gee, that was a cheery Thanksgiving message from our new Super.

    “Everyone… must be buzzed into the school buildings,” etc.

    That means all you paranoid mommies who insist on cameras and two way intercoms. Welcome to lock down, where children live in fear, mommies live in panic and the outside world is a big bad place where criminals target elementary schools to do dastardly deeds of destruction.

    This is such a hyped up joke. It is sad beyond all reason and blown way out of proportion. Statistically, a school is the safest place for a child to be. Safer than your own home.

    This all goes back to the same thing as banning touch football. We’ve gone soft. Soft in mind and body.

    Oh, I can just hear the mommies wailing about “better safe than sorry” and accusing me of being insensitive and all. But this is what is wrong with America. Too many of us are fat and lazy. And now, with that, comes paranoid.

    The facts don’t justify the psychological impact perpetrated on our children by our own fears. It is truly unhealthy. It amazes that the liberals and all their hired crisis counselors haven’t figured that out yet. After all, it runs counter to the mantra of inclusiveness, tolerance and self-esteem.

    Mr. Fishbein, tear down the wall.

  4. Is there something here that betrays a view of voters as being potentially dangerous?

    “Every day, dozens of times, we welcome visitors as part of the valuable partnership we have with the Ridgewood community.”

    To answer your question: NO

  5. OK, let us all pretend to agree that schools should not be used as places to vote. I am not saying I agree or disagree, I am just presenting a question: What other location(s) in town can we use for the polls? The location(s) are required to be handicap accessable & have parking. Any ideas?

  6. I didnt see anything wrong with his letter. Will you stop parsing words already???? The obvious potential danger is not the voter him/herself, but rather the open state of the schools on that given day, with a large number of people coming in and going out. Get over yourselves, people!

  7. According to the FBI children are usually harmed by the people they know, not by “strangers.” Mr. Fishbein does us all a disservice by seeming to claim that strangers are of themselves dangerous and need some security measures against them. As rare as an occurrence it is, children in schools when harmed are harmed by…you guessed it, people they know.

  8. If I “hear a rumor that concerns me” I won’t be reaching out to the principal as Dr. Fishbein requests. I already know that I would get an attenuated story at best. Better to seek an account from the parent community and some others who can confirm.

  9. Has there EVER been an incident when a voter did something wrong or endangered the children in any way?? I’ve been here since 1971 — nothing comes to my mind, anyone else have info?

  10. It was a very nice holiday letter. Why do you pick apart every sentence looking for hidden meanings?

    This sums it all up “I hope this Thanksgiving brings you all the hope and happiness that it brings me each and every year.”

  11. It seems the defenders of idiocy are back and in full throat as they unsuccessfully defend a really stupid letter about Thanksgiving that morphed onto a screed about the district’s paranoid security efforts.

  12. Ditto 7:45 am. If it’s about Thanksgiving then let it be about that. Why would he make it about security and the need for all of us to comply with signing in, etc. Don’t we already comply? Enough!

  13. So far, I haven’t been impressed with the writing skills of our new Superintendent. This conclusion is not just based on last week’s article in the Ridgewood News but on the three or four other letters Dr. Fishbein has penned.

  14. “It seems the defenders of idiocy are back and in full throat”

    What about the “misery loves company” crowd? You look for reasons to be unhappy. I wish you a Merry Christmas – it must be hard for you this time of year.

  15. “…the ‘misery loves company’ crowd” are the paranoid folks who have fortified our schools against all “strangers” and “visitors.”

    Have a good day!

    See you at the Christmas Tree Lighting.

  16. I never miss the Christmas Tree Lighting.

  17. I’ve known Dan since 1975…he will take care of the schools…

  18. 8:06 what exactly does that mean…take care of the schools? Is that a reference to the crumbling infrastructure or the crumbling excellent education standards? What about the crumbling administrative standards at Cottage Place? They neglect state laws; ignore certification deadlines and processes; insurance concerns; timely payroll; and to add insult to injury, generally ignore the public altogether. Is Dan going to fix those things?

    I would be the first to jump up and down and cheer him on, but I don’t see any evidence of this so far. Please correct me if I just missed it.

    What I see is a resident superintendent who seeks the approval of his bosses at the expense of initiating much structural reforms to aid this process of rejuvenation across the board. Usually a person in the highest position benefits from a “honeymoon” period that permits him or her to brand their leadership style and set a pace for governance and their new initiatives. This did not happen with Dan, so he missed this window of opportunity.

    If he can so easily give this up, I am not hopeful that he has what it takes to “take care of the schools.

  19. 8:06 PM,

    Thank you, I feel much now that you have given your seal of approval to “Dan.”

  20. That sucking sound you hear is the void left in the Superintendent’s office.

  21. I haven’t known Dan since 1975; I only met him recently. And yes, you can learn quite a lot in a meeting. Alas, he’s not a leader in my estimation — Fred Stokely (love him or hate him) was a leader. Even Porter (yes, I know he lied to many) had some leadership qualities and benefited rightly or wrongly from being tall and imposing.

    But Dan was a supreme disappointment to me. He was even more a disappointment when I learned that the BOE had an application from principal Lorenz.

    I can’t imagine a more lackluster group of people who would choose Dan F. over John L.

    That should explain why we are in the situation we are in with regards to our once proud and highly regarded school system.

  22. What is this poor man to do? His first impression to most has been rather underwhelming.

    How is he to survive the shifting sands of Ridgewood?

    I wish Mr. Fishbein good luck, he is going to need it.

  23. “What I see is a resident superintendent who seeks the approval of his bosses …” We (the majority of those who voted) elected the bosses. If he does not have their approval he would be out of a job – and so would you.

    There are a lot of unhappy people looking for reasons not to like the Superintendent. There will always be something for you to nit pick about. There are not many people who can do the job as well as he does. Get your PhD and apply for the next opening.

  24. Who has a PhD? Please, these folks have pseudo doctorates,Ed.D’s.

    And maybe that is the problem, they are steeped in the culture the monopolistic public education system and know nothing of running the business of education.

    i would prefer to have a retired CEO of a mid to large sized corporation run our schools as opposed to some one who has always worked for the government.

    Yes, all public school employees are government workers.

  25. “What I see is a resident superintendent who seeks the approval of his bosses …” We (the majority of those who voted) elected the bosses. If he does not have their approval he would be out of a job – and so would you.

    The “majority” of those who voted was indeed the tiniest of minorities, since so few bothered to vote in the first place. A little over half of a mere 17% percent or so is not a mandate for anything. Rather it is a sign that much of what happens on that level is simply dismissed by residents.

  26. 10:03 AM,

    Indeed and there in lies the problem.

    Until the BOE crushes home owners completely with taxes, nothing will change.

    Most people don’t vote for BOE members because it is not on a normal election day.

    If we voted in Nov. on school boards and budgets, the BOE would have hell to pay.

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