Newsweek Reports New Rochelle Schools Sinking From #351 to #1,239 (out of 1,500)

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Newsweek Reports New Rochelle Schools Sinking From #351 to #1,239 (out of 1,500)

June 11, 2009 - 03:51

No wonder Richard Organisciak did not want to participate in the Newsweek survey. In a report out this week of the top 1,500 high schools in the nation, Newsweek ranks New Rochelle 1,239 out of 1,500 down from 914 last year. In 2003 it was ranked 351.

What happened?

Read the report here

[EDITOR'S NOTE: In March, at a board meeting held at Ward School, Superintendent Richard Organisciak made a recommendation to the school board that the District refuse to respond to Newsweek's request for data and otherwise not participate in the Newsweek survey.

On March 3rd:

Organisciak talking about Newsweek rankings. Board votes to reject participation in the rankings because they are simultaneously too subjective and too data driven. Not sure how that works in their mind but they all start to complain about Jay Matthews from Newsweek. As I spent the past year or so working for Newsweek I think I will make a few calls and see what they have to say about this. It is really quite bizarre -- they are wearing it like a badge of honor that they are not going to allow themselves to be evaluated by Newsweek. Funny how they had no complaints about BusinessWeek which used standardized test scores as a key driver of their analysis which came out good for New Rochelle.

On March 10th:

At Mr. Organisciak's request, the school board recently voted to decline to participate in a national Newsweek survey of high schools in the United States on the grounds that the analysis was unfair to New Rochelle because it compared New Rochelle High School with schools with far less diverse student populations. This argument is often made by the district that it is unfair to compare New Rochelle to school districts like Rye, Scarsdale and Irvington. The argument is made that New Rochelle should be compared to schools like White Plains, Yonkers and Mount Vernon. Yet, in the budget the school district does exactly what it often complains about -- the cost per pupil in New Rochelle is compared against every other district in Westchester and Putnam County including Rye, Scarsdale and Irvington in order to "prove" that New Rochelle cost per pupil is among the lowest in the county (presumable matched by White Plains, Yonkers and Mount Vernon in that order). Isn't the District trying to have it both ways here -- make comparisons to all school districts when it is seen as to the district's advantage and railing against the exact same comparisons when it is seen as to the district's disadvantage? If you are going to include a comprehensive analysis like this for spending per pupil why not include a similarly comprehensive analysis New York State Report Card data like standardized test scores and violent incidents so voters can evaluate what sort of "bang for the buck" they are getting for the $1 billion spent by the District over the past 4 years.

On April 28:

Recently the school board voted to approve a recommendation from the Superintendent Richard Organisciak to refuse to participate in an annual Newsweek survey of high schools because they "did not want to be define by one number". They never refused Newsweek before but last year New Rochelle dropped significantly so suddenly they find the survey unfair (part of the USN&WR survey uses the same methodology as Newsweek).

I did, in fact, contact Jay Mathews about New Rochelle's decision to refuse to participate. He informed me a few things that I will add here a little later (I have to run out for my physical therapy right now]. He also offered to speak directly with Organisciak and I did send Organisciak an email about this but never head back. More later.

There are 16 Comments

It's a really dumb ranking in newsweek. Newsweek is an awful magazine with one of the smallest readerships. What purpose would New Rochelle want to be in such a BS magazine for? For example, YOU worked there. Their judge of character is obviously POOR!!! Once again the superintendant and the Board of Ed have done an excellent job at deciding what is best for the district and the city of New Rochelle.

Robert Cox's picture

...from our resident troll that I will resist the temptation to respond and leave it to other readers to point out the rather obvious laws in logic on display here. Have at it folks.

as seroius as freedom of speech is, it does have it's humorous side. Thanks for the laugh dolter ! :)

If lying, cover ups, misrepresenting facts, sidestepping responsibility, and general poor judgment, well then yes he did a fine job at that

instead of being RE-active.

If they do that, NRHS and the other schools will be able to reach their full potential. We'd be at the top of any list. Not to mention, it would help to reduce or avoid future lawsuits.

And, that means EVERYONE in the district, starting from Mr. O. and the BOE, to the last person who turns out the lights at night.

Means parents also.

I would venture to guess that the pro-active parents are the ones who are supplying the schools with top students. The district can easily take credit for their achievements. The other students who may not have the parental guidance for whatever reason, should not be blamed for their circumstances. They should be embraced and lead by the adults they spend the majority of their day with. In turn those adults need to be supported by their administration, along with their fellow citizens. But in order for the citizens to support the administration, there needs to be an open line of communication, transparency and accountability. The common denominator has to be educating EACH child to the BEST of OUR abilities. Passing the buck is not an option because our future depends on our well-educated students.

jyou got to love this guy. better than letterman's top ten with or without any palin references. especially love the inference that the big o and the board wisely backed away. they flaunted -- actually misrepresented their enchantment with this magazine for many a year.

one thing our astute observer got right as rain -- hell of a lousy source for school or district evaluation. maybe deer park suffolk county made the list. warren gross

What did you do wrong where you feel you've been wronged. That's always how it happens, when someone feels they've been wronged they get angry and attempt to fight back.

C'mon scaredy cat, have some "balls" and show us what you're made of. Or will you keep carrying on without a leg to stand on?

if you talk mean to me again I am going to plead with bob cox to protect me from such a big bully like you. love your comments you big scary thug. keep em coming and i will find the courage to show you what i am made of; after all, new rochelle could use its own naked cowboy even though the prospect of having some "balls" may be a little late and probably illegal. you wouldn't want me to do anything illegal would you? I am Warren Gross and who did you say you were?

warren gross


Robert Cox's picture


Here is a good article from Wikipedia on Internet Trolls

"someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion."

The word itself is thought to be a morphing of the verb in the phrase "trolling for suckers" -- slowly dragging a bait through water -- into a noun "troll" as portrayed in Scandinavian folklore -- obnoxious creatures bent on mischief and wickedness -- and then back into a verb "to troll" which describes the activities of a person who posts messages in an online community to provoke emotional responses.

A commonly used phrase on online discussion web sites is "don't feed the trolls" meaning just ignore them under the premise that if they do not get what they want -- an emotional response -- they will get bored and go away.

For now I am permitting anonymous comments because legitimate commenters are often new to posting on a site like this and may be intimidated by or confused by the need to register. At some point soon, perhaps as we get closed to the one year anniversary of the site, I will close anonymous comments and permit only registered users to post comments.

The price of permitting anonymous comments is (a) trolls (b) spam. You cannot see it but during the course of the day I check an admin page on the site that lists all anonymous comments that are pending approval. Probably 80% of them are spam comments meaning comments that are generated by machines that are stuffed with links to other web sites as a form of advertising for those sits. The other 20% are the anonymous comments out of which maybe one-third are trolls comments. I approve most comments, even sometimes troll comments, but typically do not approve those that use bad language are ad hominem or particularly nasty or just plain dumb. Sometimes there are comments that are somewhat OK in parts and so I edit them. As I have explained before, those who post anonymously lose any right to have control over whether or how your words appear on this site; that right is reserved for REGISTERED commenters only.

I thought about approving this particular comment for a while. It was obvious from our troll but it was addressed to someone other than me and it was not using bad language. I also felt that you might want to know that someone wrote this comment about/to you. I edited one line but posted the rest to give you a chance to see it and respond. I will likely not permit the troll to respond to you through the comments here because basically that's what the troll wants and I like to keep the troll on a short lease.

Of course, even having this discussion about the troll makes the troll happy because their purpose is to get attention -- even anonymously.

"Experienced participants in online forums know that the most effective way to discourage a troll is usually to ignore him or her, because responding tends to encourage trolls to continue disruptive posts — hence the often-seen warning: "Please do not feed the trolls"."

Trolls are often driven by a deep-seated need for attention or other emotional or psychological problems. The technical term is megalothymia" or "the need to be seen as being superior to other people" even if the experience of interacting with people is virtual. To them there is no difference.

The mental illness that drives a troll is based on a sense of self-importance mixed with hypocrisy based on self-blind sense of narcissism. There is also a sexual dysfunction involved; unable to have normal human relations, a troll resorts to seeking out human contact even if that contact goes in the form of angry dialog on a web site. These are typically people who are extremely lonely and often sexually impotent. Symptoms of this illness include pervasive name-calling, deceitful behavior both online and in their "real life", vengeful attitudes towards perceived enemies, and an amoral manner of conduct in which insults, verbal abuse, character attacks, and even death threats are perfectly acceptable behavior.

Ironically, trolls are people who have an extreme sensitivity to anything that even slightly resembles an insult. This in turn drives a deep-seated paranoia that everything is "about them" which ties back into the delusional grandiosity that energizes a person to spend a great deal of time monitoring online community looking for any and all opportunities to engage with people anonymously who they would not dare speak to face-to-face. It is too simple to say these people are cowards. They are mentally ill and their actions should be understand in the context of someone who is sick. That said, just as you would not feed any diabetic a diet of ice cream and cookies, you want to avoid giving credence to the words or deeds of an attention-starved megalomaniac. They are sick people and should be treated as such.

It's like the signs at Hudson Park or around any of our water front venues. "Please, don't feed the water fowl." At first you think its helpful for the creatures, but then it creates other problems for them and us as well. They become overly dependent on humans for their food and loose the ability to survive on their own. It spawns overpopulation, disease and unsanitary conditions. Other unwelcome pests are introduced into the environment. Rats, mice, pigeons etc.

Are you saying these things happen quiet often? People feeling like they've been wronged? Why do you think that is?