Robert Cox's blog

District Fences with FOIL Requests

November 03, 2008 - 21:31

The City School District of New Rochelle and various interested parties including the Mayor and the head of the teachers union have repeatedly claimed that there is no "inequality" issue in New Rochelle between North End and South End schools in the wake of an article in The Journal News last summer. Given the claims by the District, it seems reasonable that someone would have studied the issue of performance of students from the various schools within New Rochelle. Perhaps the most obvious analysis would be a comparison of students from Isaac E. Young Middle School and Albert Leonard Middle School at New Rochelle High School.

How Cheating on High-Stakes Testing Works

November 03, 2008 - 16:47

The New York Times ran a story over the weekend about the sad case of MiShawna Moore, the former principal of a public school in South Carolina. Moore had been widely praised as a miracle worker for her leadership in turning around students at a low-performing, largely minority school in Charleston but is now facing possible criminal charges for cheating on standardized tests.

As test scores rocketed at her school, Sanders-Clyde Elementary, the city held her up as a model. The United Way and the Rotary Club honored her, The Charleston Post and Courier called her a “miracle worker,” and the state singled out her school to compete for a national award. In Washington, the Department of Education gave the school $25,000 for its achievements.

Isaac Young Teacher Disputes Criticism, Defends Fellow Teachers

November 02, 2008 - 20:42

Regina Simoes, a seventh grade teacher at Isaac E. Young Middle School, says teachers aren't the problem at Isaac Young and then singled out parents for criticism, admonishing them to play a more active role in their children's education. She went on to say that Isaac is hardly unique in having problems, claiming there are problems at both North End and South Schools that are not disclosed to parents or the public. That officials at both schools hush up incidents is hardly comforting news for New Rochelle residents.

Simoes, responding to recent criticism of the District, defended teachers and shifted responsibility to parents. "You make it what you make it", she said. She had a blunt message for parents who would complain.

Isaac Young Board Meeting, Failure Every Which Way But Loose

October 30, 2008 - 16:19

Only in the bizarro planet world that is the City School District of New Rochelle could school board members applaud presenters who spent two hours misstating basic facts, torturing data to put forward conclusions diametrically opposed to reality and otherwise misleading the board and an audience compromised primarily of district apparatchiks and assorted hangers on. I have been to quite a few board meetings lately but this one really took the cake.

Isaac Young Math Department Chairman Struggles with Basic Calculations

October 30, 2008 - 14:10

I thought I had seen it all at these through the looking glass school board meetings but Mr. Bongo, the principal at Isaac Young saved the best (i.e., worst) for last night when he presented Michael Galland who is, believe it or not, the Chairperson for Math & Technology at Isaac Young Middle School. Word is that this person is paid over a $100,000 a year to run the math program. I think the tax payers are getting taken for a ride with this guy.

Given his obvious lack of basic math skills the massive improvement in math performance for black and hispanic students at IEYMS described last night is even more incredible.

I have FOIL'd this particular slide so will soon have the actual slide but I can recreate it in a text version here. I do not know how to make tables in HTML so bear with me.

Board of Ed Seeks to Suppress Criticism of Superintendent Making False Statements to the Press

October 29, 2008 - 18:40

At the board meeting on October 7, 2008, I read from prepared remarks about a disturbing incident which came to light here on Talk of the Sound at the New Rochelle Community Pulse blog. It was while making these "controversial" remarks that School Board President Cindy Babcock-Deutsch and board member David Lacher repeatedly interrupted my remarks on the grounds that the "privacy rights" of the Superintendent of Schools were violated. Please note that I was commenting on statements to the press by a public official where no such expectation of privacy exists.

The Journal News reported that two classes of students from Trinity were forced to walk the perimeter of the playground for about 25 minutes during recess one day during the spring of 2008.

Free Speech Rights Suspended by Board of Education

October 29, 2008 - 16:34

At the end of every board meeting there is a public participation period which is described as follows in a lavender brochure distributed at the board meeting:

A portion of the agenda of each regular meeting is reserved for public discussions. During this time, members of the audience may express opinions or ask questions about any aspect of school district operations or procedures, except personnel. In order to protect the rights of those involved, all personnel matters should be referred to the Superintendent of Schools via the proper channels. Such matters are discussed by the Board in Executive Session.

I asked two board members about this policy and both stated that they were told by the District's lawyers that there was a law that prohibited the discussion of personnel matters in public session. I searched the New York State Code. I could find no such law. I contacted the New York Civil Liberties Union.


Latest posts from Robert Cox

New Roc City's Free Family Film Festival, Now Through End of August

FF99EA14-BF4A-446E-89B4-589C17A566FF.jpgFree Family Film Festival at Regal New Roc City 18 & IMAX is Now Showing!

When school’s out, kids around the country visit selected Regal theatres for the Free Family Film Festival. It’s a fun-filled nine weeks of movies for kids and parents. Since 1991, Regal has provided this service to the community, and best of all it’s FREE!

Selected G & PG movies start at 10AM each Tuesday and Wednesday during the festival. First-come, first-served seating is limited to theatre capacity. The Free Family Film Festival is safe, lots of fun and a great way for kids to spend a weekday morning in the summer.

Tickets for our 2009 Free Family Film Festival are exclusively available at select theatres’ box office on the day of the show.

Tuesday and Wednesday
10:00 am

June 30 & July 1

G-Rated Film: Veggie Tales
PG-Rated Film: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

July 7 & 8

G-Rated Film: Tale of Despereaux
PG-Rated Film: Nim's Island

July 14 & 15

G-Rated Film: Curious George
PG-Rated Film: Kung Fu Panda

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New Rochelle Scales Back FIreworks DIsplay

New Rochelle joined many cities around the country in scaling back its fireworks display for its Independence Day celebration:

Fireworks shows are being canceled or scaled back, mostly in small and midsize cities, as municipalities' tax revenue dries up with the slowing economy and falling home prices. Funding from corporate sponsorships also has fizzled as businesses deal with economic problems of their own.

But fog horns still sounded and the crowd clapped appreciatively for New Rochelle's “Spark the Sound” Independence Day Extravaganza produced by the world's leading pyrotechnics company, Grucci Fireworks.

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Happy Birthday: U.S.A.


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Friday Fun: Caption Contest


No one was hurt when a teenage girl went forward instead of reverse while attempting to back out her parking space at the McDonald's on North Avenue near Iona College so the resulting damage makes it a suitable pick for our Friday Fun Caption of the Week photo. A free Happy Meal to the winner. Contest ends Monday.

Click "Read More" to see the car from the other side of the fence.

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Journal News Calls Pols Reax to Talk of the Sound Exclusive Report a "Revolt"

This post is follow up on our exclusive report New Rochelle's Thomas Paine Museum Seized by New York State Attorney General and Board of Regents

Aman Ali of the Journal News is reporting on what the Journal News calls a "revolt" by local officials over the decision to move the collection of the Thomas Paine Museum out of New Rochelle. Ali notes that Noam Bramson, Andy Spano and Jim Maisano have all joined the call to keep the collection in Westchester. Maisano and Bramson have both recommended New Rochelle.

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City of New Rochelle Disputes Talk of the Sound Report of "Police Escort" for Bernis Shapiro

8F3D86A3-857E-410B-AC13-2436900C203D.jpgThe City of New Rochelle is disputing our exclusive report that former Corporation Counsel Bernis Shapiro was "escorted" from the building by police on Thursday after being fired by City Manager Chuck Strome.

That all depends on the definition of "escort".

Sources tell Talk of the Sound that Detective Sergeant William Olszewski, head of the Special Investigations Unit of the New Rochelle Police Department was called to City Hall as part of the process of "suddenly retiring" Shapiro. Olszewski, not in uniform, waited in the City Manager's office suite "just in case" while Shapiro packed up after she was informed of her "sudden retirement" by Strome. Shortly after Shapiro left so did Olszewski. Meanwhile, another police officer was stationed outside the building, near Shapiro's car, to make sure she was not taking any City documents with her.

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What Thomas Paine Can Teach Us About the Armory

DSC_0331.jpgAs the travesty of the Thomas Paine Museum has begun to sink in, residents might do well to consider what other forces are at work silently selling off or stealing the heritage of New Rochelle to make a quick buck.

The Armory was given to the people of New Rochelle by the State of New York to use as a public space and not for a handful of politicians to trade away for some PAC money and promises of future campaign cash. The gift of the Armory to the people of New Rochelle was not meant to put a bargaining chip into the hands of a Mayor or other members of the City Council to negotiate with a self-interested real estate developer whose only goal is to maximize their own short-term profit and earn a healthy return for bankers and other investors who have never set foot in New Rochelle and probably never will.

The Paine collection so recently spirited away by the New York State Historical Society needs a proper public home in New Rochelle. That home is not Elmsford (the home of the Westchester Historical Society) and it is not a private college across the street from a local diner.

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