August 2009

Deidre Polow and the Significance of "Adequate Yearly Progress"

August 18, 2009 - 16:09

DSC_0554.jpgDeidre Polow likes to make very dramatic pronouncements about the "success" of the schools in New Rochelle because every (and she loves to bite down hard when pronouncing the work "every" and then drag it out for emphasis) public school in New Rochelle made "Adequate Yearly Progress" or "AYP", a term which references standards developed by New York State in response to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. To hear her talk about AYP you would think the New Rochelle School District had won the Nobel Prize in Education.

Facts are a stubborn thing. Here are some to consider the next time Ms. Polow prattles on about AYP.

New York State just released the AYP data for 2008-2009. 53 school district failed to meet "AYP". There are 731 school district is New York State. With calculations even a New Rochelle math department chair could do, this shows that 92.7% of the school districts in New York State met "AYP". This is hardly a measure of distinction; all it means is that after spending over a billion dollars over the past 5 years, New Rochelle is not among the absolute bottom of the barrel in New York State. Talk about "bang for your buck" (another Polow favorite).

NYSED Tip Line to Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Public Schools

August 18, 2009 - 15:37

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is interested in information pertaining to fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of local, state, or federal education funds (including information on vendors who receive education funds). Both the Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education take these concerns very seriously. Once an allegation of fraud, waste, or abuse is received, NYSED will take the following actions:

Conduct a preliminary assessment, with one of the following three results:

  • Begin audit or review;
  • Refer to another agency/authority; or
  • Close the case.

Individuals who make an allegation are not required to identify themselves; they may remain anonymous. In such cases, NYSED will assess the information provided, given the constraints of an anonymous contact.

Is Forest City's Ship Sinking in New Rochelle's Echo Bay ? Maybe No Land Grab has the Answer

August 18, 2009 - 03:42

Staying ahead of the curve has been a challenge for Forest City Enterprises during these economic times . As if things weren't bad enough , the Cleveland based developer recently had it's wings clipped again by two leading credit rating firms . I won't bore you with the details , but a synopsis of the developers recent woes can be found at no land grab . What's interesting is that you won't necessarily see this info when you look up the stock trading info for the day . You'll see press releases and other analysis , but if it weren't for the folks at No Land Grab , I certainly wouldn't have known . Thanks guys!

New Rochelle Student in Dallas Meets Pulitzer-Prize Winning Photographer of Murder of JFK Assassin Lee Harvey Oswald

August 17, 2009 - 20:38

oswald-owen.jpgMy son, a recent graduate from New Rochelle High School, was in Dallas a few days ago visiting family. Given his strong interest in history, his uncle agreed to take him into downtown Dallas to walk around Dealy Plaza where President Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald (and various and sundry characters if you believe Oliver Stone). They visited the sniper's nest that Oswald set up on the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository and then wandered over to see the infamous "grassy knoll".

There they encountered a small film crew recording an interview with an older gentleman in front of the grassy knoll. The man turned out to be Robert H. Jackson. In 1964, Jackson was a young news photographer working for the Dallas Times-Herald when he was assigned to photograph the President's trip to Dallas. Jackson was riding in the media car of President John F. Kennedy's motorcade through Dealey Plaza and snapped a shot of the 6th floor window of the Texas School Book Depository just seconds after Oswald's final shot.

New Rochelle School District Employee Looking at Seven Years in State Prison

August 17, 2009 - 19:52

vitocosta-before-after.jpgApparently the prospect of seven years in prison has wiped the smirk off Vito Costa's face.

We have a quick update on the Vito Costa case, a story we first broke here on Talk of the Sound on June 8, 2009.

Costa was arraigned last week on one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class “D” Felony and one count of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class “E” Felony based on evidence that Costa "submitted weekly time sheets which falsely reflected hours worked". The DA alleges that each Costa would claim that he worked on school grounds from 7:00 am to 3:30 pm when, in fact, he worked a fraction of that time. Investigators from D.A.'s office observed the defendant off school grounds engaged in "activity unrelated to his school job".

Costa, who is out on bail, is scheduled to appear in court on September 18th, 2009.

Bramson Update, "School Tax Surplus"

August 17, 2009 - 12:59

It has been two weeks since I challenged Mayor Bramson to justify
his statement that there is a $2 million surplus in school funding
from downtown development. There has still been no response from the Mayor.

At the time I had asked:

When I called into WVOX radio to challenge this assertion you cut me off. Is this your idea of public service? You make unsubstantiated claims and then suppress those among the public who dare question your claims?

Since then I have come to learn that there are eighty (80) children enrolled in the New Rochelle Public School District from Avalon on the Sound (41 students) & Avalon on the Sound East (39 students). The break down by school from both buildings is;

Trinity 32 students
NRHS 18 students
IEYMS 13 students
Barnard 11 students
Ward 2 students
Webster 2 students
Columbus 1 students
Out of District 1 students

TOTAL 80 students*

NOTE: "Out of District” students require services which the New Rochelle School District cannot provide and typically cost from 2 to 5 times more then average.

According to the recent school budget, the District spends about $20,000 per student; the 80 students registered impose a $1.6 million cost on the school district.

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson Ambivalent over ShopRite Opening at Former Home Depot-Expo Site

August 17, 2009 - 00:01

Mayor.gifMayor Noam Bramson told all five of his blog readers that he has mixed emotions about ShopRite leasing the former Home Depot-Expo site on Palmer Avenue. The Mayor sides both with those who are "looking forward to additional competition for Stop & Shop" and those who were hoping the tenant could "generate additional sales taxes".

Hmmm. Yep, that's a tough one but I am going to guess that most residents of New Rochelle are a bit more worried about seeing price competition among local grocery stories so they can better afford to put food on their families tables in the midst of one of the worst recessions in the history of the United States and a lot less worried about whether the Mayor can afford to send set up his real estate developer pals with more tax abatements.

The Mayor resignedly notes "The City, in any case, has no control over this matter, because supermarkets fit within retail zoning."

Yeah, too bad because the City has done such a great job managing the growth of retail in the City.

What is the New Ro Buzz?

August 16, 2009 - 23:40

New Ro Buzz is a special feed set up using a cool bit of software called Yahoo Pipes which allows the creation of "RSS Mashups". You can Google for it you want to learn more but for our readers the important thing to know is that if you use RSS (maybe in a browser, email or on a smart phone) you can subscribe to New Ro Buzz and get just about every possible bit of information about New Rochelle in one place -- Talk of the Sound blog posts (of course) but also every Journal News story about New Rochelle, Tweets on Twitter that mention New Rochelle, Photos, Videos and much, much more.

How Dumb Did Dopes at Department of Ed Dumb Down New York State Tests?

August 16, 2009 - 22:55

FD4BC79B-1C6B-41AD-84CE-D3A33AAE592D.jpgDiane Ravitch has a must-read Op-Ed exhorting David Steiner, the incoming head of the New York State Department of Educaiton, to crack down on New York's dumbing down of state tests.

In 2006, students in all grades had to earn around 60 percent of the points to reach Level 3 (proficiency) on the math test. But by 2009, they had to get only about half the points on the math test to meet state standards. In 2006, a seventh-grade student needed to get 59.6 percent of the points on the state math test to become proficient (Level 3); by 2009, it was just 44 percent.

Given the recent discussion on Talk of the Sound about claims of cheating on test scores over at Isaac E.