From the Last Lion to the cowardly one – the decline continues

Ooooh, don't make them angy!

Ooooh, don’t make them angy!

Greenwich school board to ask Hartford if we really, really have to shift our school kids around to achieve a more balanced color palette. 

Board of Education members moved resoundingly Thursday night to draft a letter to state Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor asking whether the school district’s two racially unbalanced schools might qualify for an exemption from having to submit a plan to address that disparity.

A state racial-balance mandate requires action from the district to address unbalanced student populations at Hamilton Avenue and New Lebanon schools. Those two schools are designated by the stateDepartment of Education as unbalanced because their minority student populations top the district’s minority average by more than 25 percentage points. Developing a plan to close that disparity has dominated the board’s agenda in the last few months.

In recent weeks, however, board members Peter Sherr and Peter von Braun and a number of parents have argued that Hamilton Avenue and New Lebanon meet the Department of Education’s “unique” school definition, which is outlined in the regulations of the racial balance mandate. They assert that those regulations exempt unique schools from having to comply with the racial-balance mandate.

Board member Steven Anderson made a motion Thursday for the board to submit a letter to Pryor informing him that the district believes New Lebanon and Hamilton Avenue to be unique and asking him to “verify” that they meet that designation and are therefore not required to submit a racial-balance plan.

“It is an answer that we need to get, rather than to keep tossing it around as a possible solution,” Anderson said. “It’s time to call the question.”

Sherr agreed with the intent of the letter, but advocated for a different strategy.

“I believe we are in compliance because we have magnet schools, and I believe we should put the onus on the state in terms of our compliance,” he said.

Leslie Moriarty, the board’s chairman, argued against Sherr’s preferred approach.

“We’re going to ask the state for a view — I think it should be a question, not an assertion,” she said. “I don’t believe we should go forward and assert this, because then we’re basically throwing down the gauntlet saying, `This is how we’re going forward.’ “

While acknowledging that he did not think New Lebanon and Hamilton Avenue were unique schools, Anderson continued to push for support of his motion.

“I think we need an answer to this question,” he added. “It’s way past time to get a `yes’ or `no’ and then figure out our next step.”

Profile in Courage

In one apparent compromise, Anderson agreed to modify his motion to ask Moriarty to “promptly” submit a letter to Pryor to “clarify” that, per state regulations, Hamilton Avenue and New Lebanon are unique schools. The letter would also ask the commissioner to “promptly” submit his opinion.

Tar, feathers.

58 Comments

Filed under Right wing nut rantings

58 responses to “From the Last Lion to the cowardly one – the decline continues

  1. Anonymous

    I spoke to and had email correspondences with three representatives from the state Board of Ed this week on this issue including the head legal person responsible for providing the chairman with legal guidance on racial balancing. Two of them told me Ham and New Lebanon were intra-district magnet achools while the third said that there is no clear definition thus making it arbitrary and subject to interpretation. They also said that Greenwich has not requested status or clarification on this issue contrary to the recent op-Ed piece. I don’t know where that information was obtained and have requested clarity on how the authors of that piece came to that conclusion given what the state has responded.

    These emails were forwarded to the board of Ed this week. The fact is the state knows that this is ripe for a challenge given that it’s arbitrary and capricious. They also know the racial balancing law is not constitutional but have yet to have anyone challenge it.

    We as a town need to focus on improving out schools and providing a quality education for everyone. This issue is hugely distracting and we need to fight it so we can focus on what’s important for the citizens of Greenwich and not Hartford.

    • Absolutely agree with you that this is a distraction to the real issue, quality of education in all our schools, and in fact I suggested a while back that the board might be welcoming this dispute precisely for that reason.

    • Riverside voter

      When Sue Rogers got up and spoke about how the town has no standing and concentratin should be focused on partial magnet schools instead of challenging the state I almost fell off my seat. In its letter to the state the BOE should state clearly that New Leb and Ham Ave are “unique” and ask for clarification. Rogers is again very wrong on this.

    • greenITCH

      Agreed on this .. and if as a town , we are confident that we are expending resources to meet the educational obligations of the students that are falling behind and in those areas of town ( where is just so as well happens to be a larger minority contingent ) not only setting up programs to assist students and families , at an additional cost beyond what we are spending in other areas of town …. why not just state that we believe our intra district magnet schools et c etc and meet state requirements and let Hartford be the one to have to get a ruling from the courts on racial balancing …can you make us / a town comply to a law that is not constitutional , id think not ?

  2. AJ

    Apparently Ms. Moriarty is not familiar with the tactic known as the “fait accompli”. It seems she does know, however, how to negotiate from down on her knees. As Oprah would say, you go girl!

    • PTA Cos Cob parent

      Does Rogers always have to speak. To my knowledge she is not an attorney and her comments last night were factually incorrect and anything but legal based. PaldunASS and Berstein who stabbed Sherr in the back obviously get marching orders from Rogers. PaldunASS and his actions are unforgivably weak. We need a strong independent thinker on the BOE not someone like ” I will do whatever you want me to do”

  3. Ghost of the FAR Czar

    And by the way – how is that district wide residency verification going?

  4. Anonymous

    How that letter is phrased is going to be critical since this is really a legal argument. The question should be to define what an intra-district magnet is and then confirm that Ham/NL are. We should not ask if it is a unique school since this question is largely irrelevant based on the first question.

  5. JD

    I did find it interesting that, at a recent back to school night, the principal asked that everyone complete their residency verification by October 1st, if they hadn’t done so already. We couldn’t enroll our son without residency verification–did some people manage to skate by? Hmmm….

    • Anonymous

      Has the Board of Ed released any information about how many kids actually showed up for school this year (at each elementary school versus what was projected)? Obviously, they have this information and it is crazy that it has not been released (did anyone ask that at the meeting?).

      • Anonymous

        Yes. They did. Surprise M&M was wrong. (Riverside 84 vs. projected 63) Class size cap for Ham Ave. & NL is different. K-1 is 15 students vs. 21students in the rest of town. I believe also smaller classes for 2-5. It sounds unique compared to the rest of the district. Numbers attached.

        Click to access 082913_FURB_Update_w_CS.pdf

        • Ghost of the FAR Czar

          Page 26 in the link. Even more astonishing, M&M were off by another 19 students in Riverside in Grades 1-5 where they should have had almost perfect information about who was coming back for this year. Total enrollment now at 495 versus their projection of 455. Do they still think Riverside will be a 70% capacity/350 students in 3 years?

          Peter Sherr right again in suggesting that the BOE wait to see these numbers before adopting any firm strategy.

  6. Patrick

    Peldunas should tell us where he got his information. The op-Ed piece was clearly misleading. I don’t know if it was intentional or not but providing clarity would certainly help his credibility. Brian – do you care to comment ?

    • Republican parent

      Paldunass felt it was in his best interest to malign Sherr. He did so at the request of the RTC. Sue Sue, Teseis campaign manager Stevie, big time looser wimpy Jim Campbell and convicted drunk driver Libby Floren. Paldunas is weak. The BOE needs a strong voice.
      Chris , your thoughts please on Paldunass.

      • greenITCH

        yes CF and when is the vote coming up for BOE and whom aside from Sherr are the FWIW preferred representatives

        • Avid reader

          Chris,
          What do you think of Tesie blaming the papers and your blog as a contributing factor in the death of the 15 y/o from bullying. The Patch has it in todays post. Tesie went off on you at the BOE meeting yesterday. You are in the doghouse.

        • hmmm

          it should be bullet voting for sherr and then hand in your ballot

        • Walt

          Dude –
          Now how is it even remotely possible your blog contributed to the bullying of a 15 year old? What are the odds the reader is a teen? Slim and none, say me. It is a Greenwich blue hair, or the eunuch Hiram, posting under various aliases.

          And while your writing is usually nauseating, it has never made me feel suicidal. Perhaps I dreamed of smashing your keyboard a few times, after reading some of your drivel, but suicidal? Come on.

          I think kids today are too sheltered nowadays. Kids were bullied when I was growing up, but no one offed themselves. They learned how to cope. But technology probably does make it harder. Kids shouldn’t be on Facebook, or Twitter, with 24/7 access. And why waste time on social media sites, when you can be watching porn? Kids today are so stupid.

          Your Pal,
          Walt

  7. Red Herring

    Can the person who consistently refers to Brian Peldunas as PeldunASS please stop logging in as multiple identities. It’s obvious this is one person over and over, you aren’t fooling anyone and it’s bringing an important conversation down to an unnecessary level.

  8. Patrick

    The issue here is if we ask the state for clarification they are just going to tell us it is not an intra district school since there is no clear definition anyway. The real courage comes in challenging the states interpretation of this issue. Will the board get the backbone to challenge the state. This particular component is a slam dunk case and there will be a general game of Chess

    1. We ask for clarification if which state says no magnet
    2. We sue the state and win
    3. State looks to change the regulation to take out intra-district out of the definition.

    This will take years, but open the idea for a challenge and buy us time to be able to ignore this issue for a few years until we have to challenge the overall

  9. Anonymous

    If I were on the BOE, I’d want to know why 11 fifth grade boys left a (the) top performing elementary school for private schools this year.

  10. Patrick

    Which elementary schools were those?

  11. hmmm

    he/she said top so i suspect it was NS or RVSD

  12. Greenwich Gal

    By the way – what gives Sue Rogers the ability to speak as an authority on such matters? She isn’t an elected official and she has no law degree nor is she an expert in any arena. Just curious. What is her agenda?

  13. hmmm

    The agenda is to take advantage of the deep pockets in town….

    It’s time to move.

  14. RTM member

    Chris,

    2 things… Tesei did blame irresponsible
    journalism and blogs like yours in contributing to violence. The PATCH does have an article today.

    And Rogers did speak last night. That was not Maryanna Ponns Cohen. To my knowledge Rogers didn’t even go to college. What makes her think she knows state law. She seems to think re districting is the only solution that will make the state happy.

  15. Greenwich Gal

    I know the difference between Marianna and Sue. As a matter of fact, I know them both, but cannot, for the life of me, figure out what it is they want out of all this. As for Sue – I can’t see out why she deems herself some kind of authority figure here. I do not think she has any special knowledge or experience in education, law or politics.

  16. Anonymous

    I believe the burden of proof is on the state. Pure and simple. No need to get hot and bothered in the letter. Just the facts and law, ma’m.

  17. Greenwich Gal

    OK – I checked it out myself. Sue graduated from Gettysburg College, no slouch there, after Greenwich High School. She works for Greenwich Education Group in some capacity. Therefore, I surmise that is why she is speaking on behalf of the schools and what they believe to be the answer to what ails the school system.

  18. Greenwich Taxpayer

    Sue Rogers has skin in the game byworking for Greenwich Education Group which advocates magnet schools. Sue is also the driving force for getting Sherr off the BOE and she bullies PTAC members to vote her way or the highway (she wheedled her way into a non voting “honorary” position on PTAC by virtue of being its past president and if anyone speaks against her she has no mercy on them). Sue Rogers is no authority on education and has done her best to maintain the dysfunctional board we call the BOE.

    • greenITCH

      IT is just me but it certainly would seem that by keeping our schools ” weak ” that the GEG with their tutoring etc would benefit ….? hmmm

    • Father of 3

      As PTAC President Rogers should not be giving legal advice. When she spoke last night I too could not believe what was coming out of her mouth. It’s irresponsible of her as PTAC President to call for redistricting when so many people are against this. Anderson and Moriarty are leaving. Thank GOD!

      • ISD

        Dear Father rogers is not pres Harkness is. Really please get your ducks in a row before u post bs on a blog. also no one is calling for re-districting so keep making stuff up father because your credibility is in the shitter.

    • PTA member

      Enough is enough! Stop picking on Rogers. She actually is very well spoken and makes sense. I thank her for all she does. And I thought she sounded great last night. Well spoken and very passionate.

      • Anonymous

        Can someone please tell us at what point Rogers spoke at the work session when she allegedly said all this? I looked at the tape and didn’t see/hear her as any of the public speakers. There are a lot of comments being made here that seem to be outright lies and smear tactics against a woman who has volunteered more hours for our schools and town then the combined BOE or most people here probably. You might not agree with her priorities but she is out there, every day, volunteering because she loves this town.

  19. Greenwich Taxpayer

    By the way – the BOE’s action last night was horrendous. You never go to a government entity asking them to verify – you go in stating your position and quote the law that you base your position on – you never, never ask them for permission or to clarify unless you know the answer. Clearly Anderson, who is once again leading the district over the cliff, doesn’t know what he is doing and his legal advisor clearly hasn’t dealt with government entities.

  20. Greenwich Gal

    greenITCH – GEG is a nonprofit entity and so would not derive any benefit from tutoring.
    There are two very different philosophies at work here regarding education, much like the cultural divide in our country. Both have legitimate points.

    The GEG and their ilk believe that a more multi-cultural school system starting in the elementary would benefit the whole. Right now we have very high performers and low performers. Everybody knows what school is what. The low performers are the low income schools and high ESL. Many feel that if you take the problem kids and spread them out among the district that the good habits and culture of the successful will raise the bar for these kids. A rising tide lifts all boats kind of scenario. Currently the low performers are GHS are also from these low performing elementary school districts. For the most part, these kids are never able to catch up. There is evidence that shows that putting children in a environment where most children are high performers increases their performance as well.

    Of course, the parents in the wealthier districts are concerned about bringing in children whose parents don’t have the same commitment to education that they do. These districts have the resources to tutor, to have houses full of books and learning materials. The best food and trips and cultural outings. You would be amazed to know that just a hot breakfast every morning makes a world of difference for a child. The Riverside and NSS parents pay a premium for their house in part FOR that school district. To force them into a less desirable school district is an outrage and idealogically wrong.

    Both of these statements are true.

    • Cos Cobber

      That’s all nice GG, but the state law is about race and race alone. When you say we need to spread the minorities around to improve their performance, I don’t know how that isn’t thoroughly insulting. Indians (of Asia) and Asians certainly don’t need to be deconcentrated to succeed academically, why does anyone else?

      Furthermore, when you destabilize the school zoning system outside of a place not called Manhattan, you weaken the nest egg of many households. Why would anyone buy in Greenwich when our school district zones are in a constant state of flux. Greenwich in the long run will decline.

      I’m for fairness of resources. We need to give all the schools the same resources, both financially (from the town budget) and physically (same class sizes, same quality of infrastructure) and also the same quality staffing and what the parents & students do with it is up to them.

  21. Need to know?????

    Can someone please tell me….
    Does Stevie Warzoha have a job yet?

  22. Anonymous

    Can someone please tell us at what point Rogers spoke at the work session when she allegedly said all this? I looked at the tape and didn’t see/hear her as any of the public speakers. There are a lot of comments being made here that seem to be outright lies and smear tactics against a woman who has volunteered more hours for our schools and town then the combined BOE or most people here probably. You might not agree with her priorities but she is out there, every day, volunteering because she loves this town.
    Here’s the link to the meeting recording – respond with the time she spoke please!
    http://www.greenwichschools.org/page.cfm?p=65

  23. Riverside Resident

    I was at the meetng and Rogers did not speak. I don’t even think she was there.