Daily Archives: April 26, 2014

Our school superintendent is up to his usual tricks


"So I lied; what difference, at this point,does it make?"

“So I lied; what difference, at this point, does it make?”

The new Core Curriculum tests are scheduled for Monday and parents are chewing to opt out on behalf of their children. 

Anonymous fliers calling on students to skip the exams have been circulating in the district, notably at Greenwich High School. One of them includes a form for parents to sign to authorize their children opting out.

District officials have responded by dismissing the opt-out forms as fake and reiterating their intent for all students in the tested grades to sit for the exams.

“Let me be crystal clear: Per federal and state regulations, students do not have an `opt out’ option with the Smarter Balanced field test,” Superintendent of Schools William McKersie said in a letter Thursday to district families.

But that statement was contradicted recently by a top educational authority in the state — the chairman of the state Board of Education, who, ironically, is a major supporter of the new tests.

“There’s certainly no state law that says they can’t (opt out),” Chairman Allan Taylor, an attorney, said during a March 12 hearing of the state Legislature. “Therefore, residually, presumably they have that right. What the local district chooses to do about that is a local district decision ¦ The state Department of Education will not be reaching down and sanctioning parents.”

This week, students throughout the district will start taking online “field tests” or pilot versions of the new exams, which were developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Aligned with the Common Core State Standards, the exams are replacing Connecticut Mastery Tests in grades three through eight and most of theConnecticut Academic Performance Tests in grade 10. High school students will take the new tests in 11th grade.

This year’s exams will not be used for school-accountability purposes or factored into teacher evaluations. The “operational” roll out of the Smarter Balanced tests will be in 2015.

But state education officials are adamant that this year’s “test of the test” does not mean students can blow them off.

“Both state and federal laws require public school students to take annual state assessments in certain grades and subjects,” said state Department of Education spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly. “These laws do not provide a provision for parents to `opt-out’ their children from taking state tests. These mandates have been in effect for many years, and the State Department of Education, as well as all public schools, must comply.”

Not exactly true, said Wendy Lecker, a columnist for Hearst Connecticut Media Group and senior attorney for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity at the Education Law Center.

“There’s no punishment in either state or federal law for students who refuse to take the test,” Lecker said. “They’re telling a partial truth when they say that there’s no opt-out provision. But they don’t tell parents that there’s no sanction if they refuse.

“`Will my child or me get punished if we don’t take the test?’ — that’s really what parents are asking. Why does the state have to play with semantics?”

This is the same crap McKersie and his state bosses pulled with racial redistricting (by the way, when can we expect to see the legal opinion we paid for last year to review the legality of the star mandate on redistricting? ). They toe the corporate line because they are the corporate line. Greenwich homeowners who depend even in part  for the quality of our public schools, which is to say, all of us, should pay attention: parents here are sophisticated enough and have the financial wherewithal to yank their kids from the grasp of these bureaucrats and when they do, there goes the system.

Probably couldn’t happen a moment too soon, but home values will take a hit. The school system is everyone’s business – wake up.


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Greenwich Democrat congressional candidate arrested for breach of peace in court library


Lee Witnum (3rd from left) celebrating candidacy with Senator Chris Dodd

Lee Witnum (center) celebrating candidacy with Senator Chris Dodd

Lee Whitnum’s back in the news.

STAMFORD — A Greenwich Democrat hoping to run for governor on a judicial reform plank was thrown into court lockup Thursday after allegedly creating a disturbance in the Superior Court’s library.

According to State Police, troopers were called to the court around 3:21 p.m. where they found Lisa Whitnum-Baker, 53 of Greenwich, being held in the court lockup. After speaking with all the parties involved, police say they arrested Whitnum and charged her with breach of peace.

Reached for comment, Greenwich Democrat Chairman Francis X. Fudrucker denied any knowledge of the incident. “Never heard of the lady in my life,” he insisted, while scraping a “Whitnum for Congress” sticker off the bumper of his Prius, “now excuse me, I have to go meet with a bail bondsman.”


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Our watchdog press steps up the pressure on Obama


Bowing to authority

Bowing to authority-any authority

Daring to speak truth to power, the media grills Obama at his news conference in Japan.

Press pool report: Pool was ushered to a hold area at the end of a hallway in the hotel, where Obama, after a false start, walked down the hall. Asked by Julie Pace of the AP if he slept well, he said, “I’m still on 4 am time.” Another reporter asked Obama if he like the ice cream dessert in the shape of Mt. Fuji served at the state dinner. Obama nodded, saying, “They have the green tea at the bottom that I’ve spoken of having when I was six, and I was very pleased,” Obama said. “It was delicious.”

The apparently jet-lagged president made sure to share the press’s lightweight treatment while speaking with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko later:

“The press was asking if I enjoyed the green tea ice cream,” Obama said. “Did you enjoy it?” the empress asked. “Yes, absolutely,” he replied.

From here, it’s off to SouthKorea, where we can expect to learn whether the Leader of the Free World enjoyed the national dish, kimchi with puppy paws.


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