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

MEMO: NRPD and CSDNR Should Collaborate to Build an iPod Database

A0399F4A-E886-4758-8927-FFA9D9B727D1.jpgWith all the talk about "shared services" between school and city officials how about getting the ball rolling with a simple project designed to take a bite out of crime. Let's take a page from the police department in Portsmouth, New Hampshire which is now working with local school officials to create an "iPod registry" as a way to deter theft of mp3 players and similar devices.

The police department in Portsmouth, NH is collaborating with Portsmouth High School to create a database of student iPods (and other MP3 players) in hopes of deterring thieves. The increasingly common occurrence has caused the school's "resource officer" (aka police officer on duty inside the school) to collect information about students' digital audio players, including serial numbers, descriptions, and pictures that are filed away. School officials hope that, with the information readily available, stolen iPods will be easier to recover.

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Union Chief Marty Daly Says Schools Contract "Fair"; Admits Seeking Shorter Contract to Seek Bigger Raises Sooner

29F67974-057E-42F9-8E91-885919E53184.jpgMarty Daly is in the Journal News today talking with old pal Aman Ali about the story we broke two days ago: New Rochelle Employees Union Announces Tentative Contract with New Rochelle School District; 2-2.5% Pay Increase.

The pull quote from the article is Daly's admission that the union wanted a shorter than normal contract so it could go back to the bargaining table in 18 months:

"We're hoping that by the time this contract expires, the economy will be in a much more robust position," Daly said. "We didn't want to commit to three years of below-average salary increases. Once the economy gets much stronger we can negotiate for more competitive raises in the future."

Competitive? With what? People across the country are experiencing massive jobs cuts, pay cuts and reduced hours. Just having a job with no pay cut would be "competitive" in the current market.

Daly told Ali the raises were fair because they "keep pace with the cost of living."

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New Rochelle Memorial Day Parade 2009 - UPDATED IMAGES

William Moye, the Honorary Grand Marshal for the New Rochelle Memorial Day Parade, was introduced by Eugene McLeer, President of the United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association. Moye gave the invocation, calling on the "mighty ruler of the universe," and recounted that many of the departed veterans had given their lives for their country. The New Rochelle High School Band under the direction of Robert Freeberg stirringly played the National Anthem, deepening the patriotic mood of the day.

Mayor Noam Bramson introduced Council members and other dignitaries present. In his remarks he said today is one of showing "gratitude" and "deep respect" for all who gave their life for their country. Next County Legislator James Maisano, himself a Marine Corps veteran, said, "This is a day to honor all our veterans." He thanked all those who participated in the ceremony especially the veteran groups. He also made special mention of all the sacrifices of those who served, especially the true patriots from New Rochelle who lost their lives. "Greater love has no man than to give his own life for his country." He spoke of Captain Nathan Hale who when caught in 1776 by the British said, "I regret I have but one life to give for my country."

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New Rochelle Employees Union Announces Tentative Contract with New Rochelle School District; 2-2.5% Pay Increase

29F67974-057E-42F9-8E91-885919E53184.jpgNew Rochelle School District employees will receive an across the board pay increase of 2% next year and 2.5% in the following year under a tentative two-year contract announced today. Under the deal, if ratified by the rank and file, salary increases would be postponed until the second semester of each year. There would be be no increase in employee contributions to health insurance benefits.

There will be a union meeting at 3:30 and 4:30 PM on May 28th at Room 367 New Rochelle High School and a vote by secret ballot held on June 1st.

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School Board Reality Check Memo: New Rochelle Home Prices Continue Collapse

This is a special note to our so-called school district leadership: Now that you got your budget passed can we drop the "suck it up" nonsense and start talking seriously about how the reality of the collapse in home values impacts the ability of residents to support the public school system?


I was there so I know you were practically giddy last Tuesday when you managed to dupe 5% of New Rochelle's registered voters into passing your deceptive, bloated school budget. You even deluded yourself into believing that getting 2,200 votes out of a possible 40,000 showed that the community came out to "support" your budget. Great. But now the chickens are coming home to roost.

If you do not cease soon with the campaign rhetoric and PR spin, you are going to find yourself paying the price for failing to make genuine efforts to build widespread community support for your budget. Yes, you "won" -- by lying to the public and running as close to a secret election as is possible -- but now comes time to see what you really won as news comes today that the tsunami of wealth destruction caused by record declines in home prices continues unabated.

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Despite Quinn's Promises, OT for School District Maintenance Workers Balloons to $692,195 for 2008

Aman Ali of the Journal News is reporting:

For the second consecutive year, 90 percent of the district's top overtime earners were maintenance workers, custodians or tradesmen such as carpenters - each receiving at least $10,000 in 2008. Overall, the district paid $692,195 in overtime in 2008, compared to $673,000 in 2007.

Ali even took the trouble to go back and look at what baloney he was fed the year before the by the District

When the newspaper reported on New Rochelle's 2007 school salaries, John B. Quinn, assistant superintendent for business and administration, said the district hoped to cut back on overtime with tougher scrutiny on employees taking the extra hours.

The lede paragraph actually mocks this claim by Quinn:

Despite hopes to cut back on employees' overtime pay in 2008, the school district spent more than $20,000 more last year than in 2007 - with three employees collecting more than $30,000 each.

Given Quinn's failure to bring overtime spending in line, its a wonder that in July he will be up for his third raise within 12 months.

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Memorial Day 2009


It is
not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.

It is
not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is
not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is
not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is
not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is
not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

Thank you to the reader that sent this reminder of why we honor those who have served and given their last full measure of devotion.

If you would like to show your support, March Down to North Avenue on Monday May 25th and Join the Parade!

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