Horton lays an egg

Bob’s back with a column this week. Much of it is devoted to what a waste of time and money  it was to verify the residency of the students using our public schools. I disagree (and $25,000, not Horton’s “hundreds of thousands of dollars” were expended on the effort) because, like Peter Sherr, I kept receiving inquiries about the issue from residents convinced that we are educating half of Port Chester. Sherr said, repeatedly, that it was important to keep the trust of taxpayers that the BOE be perceived as a careful guardian of their money , spending it wisely and well, and therefore it was imperative that the board answer these rumors. I agree: not every rumor demands a response, but this one did.

In my opinion. Horton disagrees, and that’s fine. But he then turns his attention to the real issue underlying the residency verification: racial redistricting, and thats where he loses me.

The doctrine of “separate but equal” schools that enforced segregation around the country has been discredited [“illegal”, actually, not just “discredited”- Ed]

for more than 60 years, so the idea of racial imbalance school laws seems anachronistic in 2013 [and racial imbalance is connected to enforced segregation how? – Ed].

And while there may be no causal relationship [another way to put that is that there is no study showing a connection; “may be” is a weasel term for “is no” – Ed]

the fact is that the town’s most underperforming schools are the very ones with racially imbalanced school populations [they are also the schools with the poorest children and the highest percentage of non-English speakers – could that be the issue here, rather than the absence of a sufficient number of whites and Asians in those classrooms?- Ed] 

The state has been telling Greenwich for at least 10 years that some schools violated state enrollment guidelines, and it has taken no significant enforcement action. So this is hardly the heavy hand of the state coming down on the school that some people claim. [The state has held off “enforcement action” to date, and now it’s threatening again. That sounds like the heavy hand of the state coming to interfere with our schools, unless Horton is saying that the latest salvo from Hartford is just an empty threat – that’d be okay with Greenwich citizens, but it seems unlikely to be Horton’s meaning – he wants action, now, and the state seems poised to grant his wish. Ed]

Those who hold the position that town schools should be exempt from the law would stand on much firmer ground if they could point to a multi-year, consistent, effective program to bring these schools up to the same performance level of other schools in town. [The argument against complying with the state’s demand is twofold: by the statute’s own language, the two affected schools are what the law terms “special schools” with open enrollment and other features and are thus exempt from the law’s racial balance requirements, and the law itself is unconstitutional under federal law. There’s no argument being made that we’re exempt because we’ve been engaged in an “effective program to bring these schools up” – we probably have, but that’s not the argument – Horton is employing a straw man here – Ed]

Instead, the school board over the years has tried a variety of half-baked programs the results of which are that the so-called student achievement gap has grown, not decreased. [The percentage of poor and non-English speaking students in those schools has also doubled in that same period. Coincidence? Horton says “yes”, I think not. – Ed

Ten years should have been enough time to achieve meaningful improvements in student achievement. [ Why? How, if the cause of the imbalance is poverty, as the state’s insistence on counting the number of children eligible for a free lunch suggests are we to bring about meaningful improvement? Are we back to adding white bodies to the classroom again? ? (Only  liberals, by the way, think that there is such a thing as a free lunch, but I digress – Ed]

The state seems to have no desire to force a solution on the town, but at some point it cannot continue to ignore the disparity in student achievement. The school board should commit the district’s considerable educational talent and resources to making the racially imbalanced schools beacons of excellence [back to conflating lack of achievement with racial imbalance, with nothing to connect the two except a general, good-hearted belief that mixing black and Hispanic kids with white kids and Asians is “good”, and that the failure to achieve that must be “bad”. Since lack of equal achievement is also “bad”, to Horton, the two must be related. To paraphrase a great Australian statesman, two wrongs don’t make a white].

52 Comments

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52 responses to “Horton lays an egg

  1. Al Dente

    Maybe science can figure a way for a white couple to produce a black baby, that would resolve this issue.

  2. Anonymous

    Residency verification included a affidavit option were the parents cross their heart and hope to die they are Greenwich residents because they are unable to provide a lease, mortgage document, or even a single utility bill. No such option exists when getting a beach pass. If we are going to provide that option, the affidavit needs to come from the landlord or someone else with something to lose. Either that or the affidavit should only provide a brief stay until verifiable documentation can be provided.

    • Mickster

      Tell me you’re kidding?
      No wonder they’re all ‘verified’!!!!!

    • Mickster

      How many of these ‘cross my heart and hope to die – fingers crossed behind my back’ affidavits did we get?

      • Ghost of the FAR Czar

        That’s what Peter Sherr asked for data on – and that’s what Horton lambastes him for in the column.

        How could a responsible BOE member not ask that question?

        It is also my understanding that many of the workers processing the verifications were temps and not regular BOE employees. Will be very interesting to see the results of the audit.

        • Mickster

          $25,000 down the drain..no, let’s spend more money to audit that POS. You couldn’t make this stuff up….I knew the 99.9999% couldn’t be right.

    • Tired of the nonsense

      The press release from the BOE said that all but 2 families were able to prove residency via lease, mortgage and utility bills. The 2 that did not had court documents submitted to prove residency.
      Scroll down to the end of the article where it states this.
      http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Five-Greenwich-students-remain-unverified-4905333.php

      The only 2 people who keep insisting that there is some affidavit option are Sherr and Braun. The affidavit of parent/guardianship is only one of the many forms you need. There is no other affidavit that anyone can confirm or show us so maybe its in their imaginations?

      • Mickster

        Maybe I’m wrong, Kim Eves says that all verified families apart from 2, provided ALL the forms required. Is this Sherr just messing with BOE?

        • Anonymous

          Yes, but one option was the affidavit which is totally meaningless. Sherr wants to know what percentage of “verified” students were “verified” by affidavit as opposed to lease, mortgage, or utility bills.

      • 3Generations

        I’ve stated it before. Sir Peter Sherr is not about fixing anything! As a BOE member his sole responsibility should be about improved education FOR ALL. Not Peter, he’s more concerned with the real estate values of his OG/Riverside friends. Don’t get me wrong, real estate values are extremely important. But that should be left for someone else to fight. Now that the residency verification was a flop, what’s Peters next shell game?

        • I have lived here for 20 years and this issue has come up several times. Each time, the result is the same: there are almost no outsiders attending Greenwich schools illegally. Either the verification process is flawed or this fear of Hispanics from Port Chester has to stop.

        • Honest

          Spot on! Sherr is only for his part of Greenwich. His next shell game will be to run the Super out of town. He and his sidekick Sir Von Braun both work hard to undermine the Super. They twist his words around. Just watch any of the board meetings. It is so uncomfortable. You can see the other board members squirming it is so awkward.

        • Anonymous

          3Generations….your statements are utterly uninformed and biased. I’m sure you are a legacy fan of Freund—with his (illegal) silver bullet IB program. It is the job of the BOE to probe, to question, to verify…..I know its rarely seen in this Town—but group-think is truly at the core of our school leadership issues.

    • Anonymous

      Really? Where are you getting this information? I had just moved into my home this summer (from another home within Town). I don’t have a mortgage, had no utility bills since I had just moved. I have had kids in Greenwich public schools for 11 years, and they certainly did not make it easy for me.

  3. housecat

    This is getting tiresome. Do we need to hold an open seminar on the difference between de jure and de facto segregation? If I read another opinion by a BOE candidate or a journalist proclaiming the righteousness of the racial balancing law (and wrongly citing Brown v Bd of Ed in the process), I’m going to throw up.

  4. Perhaps it’s time to apply a duty akin to a professional’s fiduciary duty to public employees, elected and non-elected alike.

  5. Riverside resident

    New Lebanon needs fixing. That’s a fact. So when Marzullo suggest fixing it I agree. Then you concentrate on academic achievement and tell the state to $@&)55:(.

    This really isn’t that complicated people.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you Marzullo’s campaign manager. NL overcrowding has been on the front page much longer than when your boy decided to make it his campaign issue.

  6. Chief Scrotum

    I’m curious here – how much do you think Greenwich taxpayers “waste” educating “non-residents” versus what the Town and its employees take as part of their “fair” salaries/benefits and the numerous spending programs that benefit tiny groups of politically connected folks?

    I’d rather spend money educating someone who cares enough about education to try and scam the system versus some delusional civil servant and their political enablers.

  7. Anonymous

    Very well analyzed, Chris. The focus on racial imbalance allows the schools to change the topic of student achievement for all.

  8. Anonymous

    Speaking of lame reasons to keep the status quo in elections, Krumeich doesn’t even acknowledge there are more independents than there are of either party. Perhaps, that is what worries him most.

    http://greenwich.patch.com/groups/ed-krumeichs-blog/p/the-republican-power-grab-of-town-governance

  9. Anonymous

    Here’s felony residency fraud writ large from one of Fudrucker’s crooked cohorts.

    Likely Fudrucker’s colleagues are tied to voter fraud too. The Democratic narrative is that voter fraud is a myth; in reality it’s an essential component of Democratic election strategies.

    http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Commission-cites-possible-Ayala-felonies-4900441.phphttp://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Commission-cites-possible-Ayala-felonies-4900441.php

    • Demoncrat S.O.P. (Fudrucker knows, as do all they others. When a cohort is caught, the well-worn scripted press inquiry response is: I’m shocked, just shocked at these allegations but (s)he needs his(her) day in court, so no further comment

  10. Patrick

    We are using the wrong metrics. You just can’t compare North street to new Lebanon simply based on the fact that new Lebanon has socio-economic disadvantages. When you compare Hispanic academic achievement in the state which is 32% versus that of Greenwich which is 62% Greenwich is doing well. The fact is if you are Hispanic in the state of Connecticut statistically you’re likely to achieve high academic scores in the following towns by order Southington Trumbull and Greenwich. We should just not be beating ourselves up about this like Bob is saying. The fact is we are doing something right.

    • Cos Cobber

      1) Gwich does not have a history of underfunding or underserving NL or Hamilton or any schools with elevated minority concentrations. Quite the opposite, we tend to have extra funding and programming in these schools.
      2) At its core, this concept of redistributing based on race is insulting to minorities right on its face. If we don’t have a history of creating a second class environment at NL and Hamilton (which clearly we don’t), then what is the argument to de-concentrate; because its just plain bad for minorities to congregate?
      3) If this is of such a compelling interest for society, why are we stopping at our artificial political borders and why aren’t we pushing this issue in towns that truly lack diversity? Greenwich has diversity – while many – which are in proximity to other diverse location do not.
      4) If parents could sign an affidavit in lieu of providing any other evidence to support their residency, then duh – of course we have just a handful of non compliant households. This does not mean our residency program is a total failure. We need to keep it in place because it will be a deterrent to many and perhaps future BOEs can better address this affidavit loop hole.
      5) For now our plan with the state should be “we are looking at it” and continue to maintain and retool our current programs.
      6) If we have overcrowding (I don’t buy that unthoughtful news story from a couple weeks ago with Tamm-tamm and Marzullow) at NL, then lets give a lottery to move some households to GL or NSS to help alleviate. Its a good short term solution for now.

      Reality ahead:
      7) All schools but Hamilton, Glenville and Cos Cob will be in need of either a moderate or major renovation over the next 5-20 years. At its surface, NL seems like a likely place to start followed by renovating all three middle schools.

    • greenITCH

      some interesting facts here Patrick …so Greenwich Hispanic population is in top 3 by towns w/I state … not that this should be a metric but it certainly sheds some light on the situation that it isn’t the town that is failing the students but perhaps the parents ( as in most cases )

  11. Fox

    Sorry, efforts to “commit the district’s considerable educational talent and resources to making the racially imbalanced schools beacons of excellence” imply increased expenditure on students in these schools that is discriminatory.

    America is about equal opportunity, not equal result. The school system should spend equal amounts on each student, not pick certain students for greater or lesser expenditure.

    The fact that some students may not take full advantage of the opportunity offered is not an excuse for discriminating against those who do, nor is it an excuse for forcibly drafting one group of young children as walking, talking, unpaid social programs to benefit the politicians’ preferred groups.

    • Anonymous

      So the student getting esl should not get math or science to equalize funding?
      Free and appropriate public education is a right. Equitable, not equal, use of funds and resources is a right.

      • Fox

        Hmmm. Equitable vs. equal. Therein lies a huge get out of jail free card for supporters of all sorts of questionable preference programs.

        I’d be interested to know how many other countries provide free language instruction to immigrants. Or if they do, why is it based within the schools? Why is this a function of the government schools? Why not immigrant charities? Or the immigrants themselves?

        Time, I think, for a basic rethink on lots of subjects. Unlimited handouts may no longer have a lengthy practical or political life expectancy.

        • Martha

          I can only speak for Sweden, but they have a vast program to teach Swedish to immigrants. They have also had a long, liberal open door policy, and are now paying the price in many more ways than government funded language programs, however.

  12. CoCo

    Wasn’t this “affidavit” question announced in the GT article of 10-17? There are TWO families that needed affidavits to verify residency. Are various board members (the never at a loss for words Scherr and his trusty, clueless but now awake sidekick Von Braun) and bloggers (like hmmmm and Mickster) not realizing the question has been answered as they keep challenging it over and over again. Seems these people’s gameplan is to make a mountain out of a molehill on everything! Make the bombastic statement – damn the facts. Reminds me of a Bob Horton article – LOL.

    I do think that Moriarty’s 10:30 pm “let’s make North Street a choice school” move was slimy. If it’s controversial, step up and make that statement at an hour when people are actually awake and are there. Late night government is seldom good government.

    • Anonymous

      No, this information has not been released and we won’t know unless they release the audit.

    • Mickster

      I admitted earlier that, upon reading Ms Emes quote in the GT article, saying all families but 2 had submitted ALL the required forms, that I was misled by someone on this blog.
      If this is Scherr just stirring up the s**t, I know what kind of a bullet vote he’s going to get from me!!

      • Careful, the NSA is watching

        • Mickster

          I know..thought of that later….I believe the number of people ordering a “Irish Car Bomb” in pubs has gone way down too…

      • hmmm

        Ask Kim Eves if they are forcing anyone to have a signed lease and report back. If you have a month to month lease which is usually a verbal agreement how do you produce a lease?

        Not having a lease is not a deal breaker, you can still be verified…it’s a sham.

        • TownieGirl

          While you’re at it, ask Kim Eves why they only provide child care for BOE meetings conducted in Spanish. I have and she hasn’t bothered to get back to me.

  13. Anonymous

    It’s a testament to the power of the progressive narrative and its leverage through the propaganda press that even in a highly intelligent, aware, and informed community like Greenwich, no one questions the fundamental assumption at the root of the discussion.

    The false progressive assumption creating the faux issue of “achievement gap,” is that: government policies executed through the existing vehicle of public education can compensate for huge differences in heritable abilities and home environments.

    Government can barely manage something as simple as issuing drivers licenses. This entire debate presumes that government can magically transform less talented kids from more challenging home environments into the equals of talented kids from quality home environments. Seriously? No way.

    Why not base educational policy upon the reality that this is beyond the scope of government capability? Acknowledging the limitations of government is not mutually exclusive with providing a good education for all relative to their abilities.

    • Let's be honest

      I am in total agreement with you here! We have to stop chasing some ideal that is inherently un-achievable.

      • Walt

        So you propose shooting all of the progressives?

        • Shooting is going a bit far…
          but shooting down the base premise is easy…”segregation” was law that was eliminated by toil and turmoil, those laws no longer exist….enforcing State mandated “balance” policies takes away from the real effort to educate and hurts all, especially children….anony above gets it … he/she should be pushing a reality to counter the policy failure…kids hanging with their buddies who are neighbors while not in a bus is better for them…aren’t they the point…they do not care about color or etc…fun and learning are the point….

  14. Anonymous

    Bob Horton states that the residency verification program cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars”. It did not. The BOE budgeted $25,000-$35,000 for this project. The savings to the taxpayers is easily in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The present value of the cost of educating one child in kindergarten through HS graduation is over $250,000. Hopefully this will act as a deterrent to other non-residents as well. The person in charge of this project for the BOE referred to families with “weekly leases” at two or more meetings. I’d like more information on that.

  15. Patrick

    Hispanic – in response to your question I chose to highlight the Hispanic population for the following reasons :
    1. The schools being targeted by the state are primarily hispanic in population
    2. Asians in general perform about 5-10 points higher than whites so they skew the numbers significantly
    3. Blacks are the only other minority group reported by the town of Greenwich and their numbers are minuscule

    This concept of tagging people by ethnic makeup is frankly just insulting but this is the world we live in and what the state wants us to do. I was simply highlighting a factor to point out that it’s not as bad as people say.

    • housecat

      Agreed. And for some reason the State BOE has decided to designate Hispanic descent as a racial, vs ethnic, category. If we really want to get technical about it, a large percentage of Latin Americans are mixed-race (Spanish and indigenous), vs purely of Spanish descent. I realize a bunch of white people upstate think that’s either a separate racial category of it’s own, or that it’s all the same thing anyway. But especially since they’re being such dinks about it, I have to disagree.

  16. housecat

    This in the NYT today. It certainly explains the DollarBills of this country (and that show up periodically on this blog): “educated” but lacking in critical skills nonetheless. We’re screwed. Let’s focus instead on stuff that won’t make any difference in our performance levels, locally or nationally.

  17. Realistic Assessment of Causes of Failures to Learn

    This is perhaps a bit off topic, but on the subject of achievement by “race” or national origin or whatever, this recent article on educational achievement in Connecticut (itself produced by an obvious liberal) may lead a rational observer to the conclusion that nothing, not more money, nor more teachers, nor better facilities, will bridge the persistent achievement gap (on average) between students from low income families and those from high income ones:

    http://www.theday.com/article/20131022/NWS12/131029907/1019&town=

    It seems obvious that the ethnic identity of students is secondary to a cultural milieu of acceptance of academic failure in many low income families as the cause of the achievement gap. Schools (in Greenwich or elsewhere) cannot change an established low-achievement culture, or the effect of uninterested parents (if any). And it is the culture that is the root problem. Sitting next to high achievement students (or, more likely, just being in the same building with such students) will accomplish nothing positive for anyone. Shame on the BOE for not taking a firm stand against the PC crap emanating from State education officials.