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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.

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BREAKING NEWS: New Rochelle High School on Lockdown

At 10:46 AM, New Rochelle High School officials have placed the school on "lockdown"...students and staff are confined to their classrooms. No one may leave or enter the building....developing...

At 10:51, school officials announced the lockdown was an emergency preparedness drill.

While it is nice that the school runs these drills, readers will recall that a few months ago the high school FAILED to go into lockdown when they had an actual incident - a student, on the loose in the building with a knife, a student who had already stabbed one student and was unaccounted for immediately after the incident. In that case, the police were called to the scene, an arrest was made and the injured student was taken to Sound Shore Medical Center for treatment.

UPDATE: the school ran a lockdown drill because earlier in the week there was an incident near the school and the school went on an actual lockout. Lockout is when all the doors are locked and no one is allowed in the building. Lockdown is when the students barricade the door, close the shades, turn out the lights and hide in the back of the classroom. Lockout and Lockdown are typically implemented at the same time so it is not clear why the school had an actual lockout one day and a test lockdown the next.

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OUTRAGE: Richard Organisciak is a Big, Fat Liar!

CA5080FE-E2E5-4C85-A766-DEBDF304713D.jpgI set out this afternoon to write an account of the school board meeting last night where the school board once again declared their unanimous support for yet another fraud-filled, fact-challenged school budget.

I wanted to mention that the turnout was extremely disappointing. After several boisterous, passionate budget workshops, only a handful of those demanding the district cut the budget showed up to watch the vote. The school board appeared to be just thrilled to be playing to a largely empty room. The more I looked at the sickeningly, smug and slightly stupefied face of King Dolt Richard Organisciak the more annoyed I became. I was (and am still) annoyed because Richard Organsiciak sat there last night having gratuitously spit in the face of every New Rochelle resident who took the time to attend those budget workshops and had the gall to "thank" residents for coming to those meetings and providing their input.

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Marty Daly, New Rochelle PTA President, Yonkers Resident Addresses Statewide Teachers Union Gathering

Many New Rochelle residents may be wondering why the head of the New Rochelle PTA was up in Buffalo a few weeks ago addressing the New York State Union of Teachers (NYSUT). Probably just as many who are wondering why the head of of the New Rochelle PTA lives in Yonkers. Or why the head of the New Rochelle teachers union does not live in New Rochelle.

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This mystery is easily solved when you realize that these people are all the same person - New Rochelle FUSE President Martin Daly.

Daly was on hand to get tips on how to build support among local politicians for "public education" which, translated, means "teachers unions". Daly told the assembled local union presidents "having all school staff in the same bargaining unit is beneficial". For who? Certainly not most New Rochelle residents who have to foot the bill while fat cats from Yonkers like Daly gouge tax payers and draw a double salary as both a school teacher and union boss all while playing patty cake with an always compliant school district administration.

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URGENT BULLETIN: Final School Board Budget Release Tonight, 7:30 PM, City Hall

Come one, come all. Tonight is the night. Bring your friend, bring your neighbor, and come prepared to speak your mind.

Tonight at 7:30 PM at City Hall, New Rochelle residents will finally have the opportunity to be heard on the final budget from the City School District of New Rochelle which will be voted on by referendum on May 19th, 2009. Make sure to demand a copy of the budget before the meeting begins so you can follow along.

We here at Talk of the Sound will be paying especially close attention to one number - the assumption about the decline of assessables which determines the ACTUAL size of the tax increase that will be required to deliver the revenue plan contained within the budget.

-1.4%

That is the number to look for in the new budget document to be delivered tonight. Has that number changed to reflect the current economic reality.

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State Pension Scandal Highlights the Obvious: From Top to Bottom, New York Government Run by Crooks

Since launching Talk of the Sound last summer I have had dozens of people ask me whether the things we have been reporting about how the City of New Rochelle and City School District of New Rochelle could really be true. Especially when it comes to the schools, people just do not want to believe that their representatives could be involved in the corruption and thievery that seems to have permeated every aspect of government in the United States.

You have to wonder why people would think New Rochelle is "special" when it comes to kickbacks, misappropriation of public resources, embezzlement, fraud, and abuse of power. In just the past few years, every governor in the New York metropolitan area has been forced from office due to cronyism and corruption (don't be fooled by Jim McGreevey of New Jersey who used his sexual orientation as a pretext to leave office before the public learned he had appointed his otherwise unqualified lover to high public office). Around the country, the governor of Illinois was impeached, the governor of New Mexico is facing federal indictment, Congressman are going to prison and lower level officials in federal, state and local governments are constantly being indicted and convicted of crimes related to abusing their elective or appointed office.

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Organisciak To Journal News "No Pay Cuts, No Job Cuts" But Will Turn Out the Lights

CA5080FE-E2E5-4C85-A766-DEBDF304713D.jpgThe Journal News has more school district propaganda up today, courtesy of our old pal Aman Ali. It's Richard Organiciak and John Quinn making the same old tired arguments they have been making for the past month at budget meetings, arguments that even the normally docile school board has rejected.

The only news in the piece is Organisciak's assertion that all salaries will go up and no staff will be let go.

"Everything is tied into ongoing negotiations right now," Organisciak said. "We're negotiating all our contracts with the board and our teachers as a part of a big package. You can't make changes to one without making changes to the other, and vice versa."

The district is working on renewing a contract with its teachers union set to expire in June. Organisciak said the district doesn't anticipate implementing any salary freezes or layoffs next year.

My favorite line is from John Quinn.

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New Rochelle Schools Cry Poor While Rolling Out New "Laptops for Everyone" Program

dellnetbook.jpgChristmas came early for 110 fifth graders at Jefferson Elementary School courtesy of Santa Claus New Rochelle taxpayers. After weeks of claiming that this year's school budget is a "maintenance program" that keeps spending flat (by increasing it by $8,000,000), the City School District of New Rochelle has begun rolling out an OFF-BUDGET program to provide 110 brand new Dell Inspiron Mini laptops to every fifth grader for free. Talk about a good way to buy some school budget votes with taxpayer money! The sounds like about 200 votes right there from some very contented parents.

Somehow, with a budget supposedly cut to the bone, the district has now managed to come up with $39,000 to purchase 110 laptops for every 5th grader at Jefferson Elementary School and has plans to expand the program to every public elementary school in the City. For 1,000 elementary school students this program will end up costing somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000.

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