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 School inequities

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seek2mend
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Posts : 172
Join date : 2009-02-16

20090811
PostSchool inequities

This mornings Sun Chronicle published a letter from a N Attleboro woman who has witnessed inequities between the elementary schools that service their children. In a town as large as NA, obtaining a level of equity would be far more difficult than it would be in Seekonk.

If inequities still exist in Seekonk between Aitken and Martin, they are likely not as obvious as NA's. These inequities may burn just below the surface. In fact, it would probably take a bit of effort and investigation to discover if our children and the system could benefit from a restructuring.

This discussion began in '06 when North School was closed. Dr Andreozzi suggested the children would be better served by a k-2 school and a 3-5 school. All hell broke loose. The tears stopped flowing and the fears were put to rest only when Doc's proposal was withdrawn.

I was just curious if any further thought has been given to such a restructuring. Many at the old yahoo site including Tom and myself thought the move to be a step in the right direction. All children would theoretically begin in the same school and graduate from school together creating a stronger sense of community. There would be more flexibility to obtain reasonable class sizes. Supplies, books and teachers for each grade level would be located in one school. The only real negative that I can foresee, if one even exists, is cost.

Now that we have a new superintendent and a forum where the deciders (at least Dave and Mitch) are contributing, I think a dialogue could be beneficial.
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School inequities :: Comments

Re: School inequities
Post on Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:02 am  tombenoit
To my recollection, it was not withdrawn but was voted down. The restructuring to a grade level school (K-2, 3-5) made sense both for financial and academic reasons. Doc Andreozzi made a logical proposal. He outlined current flaws in the process including the fact that, even with all the efforts on curriculum development, the schools had different measurements, different word lists, etc.right down the line. Grade level collaboration was difficult between different building, etc. A K-2 and 3-5 structure was more efficient in delivering education. It was also just as effective. The telling part was when someone in the audience asked to get the opinion of the the elementary principals. Each one of them indicated that, while they would prefer to be in charge of a K-6 school, there was no evidence that it was better educationally.

It would be great if the SC and the new superintendent took up the discussion now with a goal to make a decision by next spring for September 2010. That way the discussion could focus on educational value and not tied up with emotions of making a chnage at the last minute. Unfortunately Doc was forced to make his proposal the night after the over-ride vote where emotions ran high.
Re: School inequities
Post on Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:42 am  seek2mend
Tom, I am sure you are correct. Sadly, parents were not prepared to consider the advantages and were too emotionally drained to think logically.

And yes Wendy. It may be upsetting to some to put their children on a bus for that "long" ride. But I would suggest those parents do what I did. When my kids were in school and I got fed up with one particular bus driver, I drove them myself. And if a neighbor asked, I was willing to drive their children.

As I have mentioned before, Rehoboth has one elementary school in its 46 sq miles and I have heard the children are sitting on buses for long periods of time.

One solution might be to put the lower grades at the more centralized Aitken. And maybe part of restructuring might be reallocating revenue or going back to fees and provide for more buses. I believe Seekonk goes above and beyond what the state mandates for transportation for Middle and HS students. Maybe that could be adjusted.

I just think it is time to revisit Dr Andreozzi's proposal.
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Re: School inequities
Post on Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:03 am  Dave
Timing is everything someone once said and let's face it...that was bad timing.

I have the unique viewpoint of observing things from the viewpoint of an "old" Aitken parent. I remember that emotions were crazy back then. The North parents went on about losing their school for about 2 years, when in fact the Aitken kids were the most effected. North school "moved" to Aitken so all of the kids knew each other. Aitken was ripped in half so all of a sudden they were the new kids in the school.

At the end of the day everyone survived and the District emerged more efficient. I say this because in that context there was no way parents were going to support the proposal. Now that they have seen that the sky did not fall then perhaps it is something that can at least be discussed.

I would like to see some of the resources and studies from that proposal.


my 2,

d
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Re: School inequities
Post on Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:06 am  Dave
Wendy wrote:
I think parents are concerned about the issues of transporting kids to non-neighborhood schools. Can you imagine a kindergarten kid from Cherry Hill Dr having to be transported to Martin School on a bus? That's a pretty long ride for a little kid. If Seekonk were shaped differently, perhaps it wouldn't be so bad.


A very good point. Would it cost more to transport under the proposal...what would the wait times be? On the flip side our district size (not shape) is a positive. We can consider such proposals where I think larger districts would have more diffculty.
Re: School inequities
Post on Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:20 pm  tombenoit
Wendy wrote:
I think parents are concerned about the issues of transporting kids to non-neighborhood schools. Can you imagine a kindergarten kid from Cherry Hill Dr having to be transported to Martin School on a bus? That's a pretty long ride for a little kid. If Seekonk were shaped differently, perhaps it wouldn't be so bad.

Your point assumes that the K-2 school would be Martin. It may be better at Aitken which is more centrally located. Prior to the renovation of Aitken and Martin - kindergarden WAS all at Aitken. All children at K were bused to Aitken for years.

I do not know the financial impact of transporting to grade level schools - that would be part of the discussion and analysis.
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Re: School inequities
Post on Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:29 pm  mkreyssig
My son is currently in Martin School. One thing that the principle, Mr. Madden mentioned (can't remember what the venue was, either teacher conference or open house) was that for some unknown reason Martin kids were struggling with fractions, while Aitkin kids were not. And that they could not figure out why just yet.

Since we all drink the same water I'll take the Occam's razor approach and say lack of a uniform curriculum. Now that the SD has a full time director of curriculum I would say the only inequities that are likely to exist in the future would be no different than those that exists between classrooms that can be related to teaching styles.

Even so...unless Martin is the better school...lol...I can't complain about the quality of education.
Re: School inequities
Post on Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:13 pm  seek2mend
Mike, I think the curriculum director is only one piece. I was told a number of years ago that with education reform, principals had much flexibility. Having said that, a bigger issue is a strong PTO.

My perception is that for as long as I can remember, Aitken has always had more parent participation. One can argue that the "region" is more affluent. Or maybe it is more picturesque or serene. It doesn't border Attleboro or Pawtucket and it does not produce the fuel for the infrastructure, as does the South end businesses.

Taking all these variables into account it makes even more sense to me to have a K-2 (Aitken) and 3-5 (Martin) 6-8 (Middle) 9-12 (high school). The center of Seekonk is the body and the north and south are the wings. Together we can fly. Metaphorically, of course Wink
Re: School inequities
Post on Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:29 am  seek2mend
Last nights SC meeting should leave little doubt that there are not just PERCEIVED school inequities. These inequities are very real. Dave is already aware that he will be receiving a letter that Hurley Middle School did not meet AYP. Mike and Wendy may not be aware of it, but Martin also did not meet ayp. No surprise, Aitken has "no status" which is good. The high school also met AYP.

Correct me if I am wrong, Dave or Mitch. But aside from the embarrassment, this holds little significance to Hurley because there is only one middle school. However, in the case of k-5 we now have school choice. This could be devastating if parents from Martin decide to place there children in Aitken.

Now I am left wondering what the mcas results would have been if the 2006 SC had a spine and seized the moment by going with Doc's suggestion of a k-2 and 3-5 school. I am also wondering what the fallout will be to the budget if people do make the switch. The district will have to provide transportation, classrooms and teachers.

I am guessing most will not make the switch. But it will only take a few to upset the apple cart.

Once again, a superintendent moves on and leaves us holding the bag. All that time wasted chasing illegals. What a shame. Embarassed
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Re: School inequities
Post on Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:50 am  Dave
As I understood the presentation we can't do much of anything until the data is released in mid-September. While it is true that one could switch between the schools it would only be in effect until the school comes of the AYP. So it is likely that making that choice will bounce the child back and forth between the two schools...at least until the next passing grade revision.

We will know more shortly but most interesting is the way they keep raising the score every two years. I mean what is going to happen in four years when it hits a 100% standard? It could get crazy with choices. We may very well find out that when the data comes in those programs failed because of the recent raising of the passing grade.

I will also say that the concept of making schools grade specific could be a mute point for AYP because when we get to 100% I think it will hit everyone.
Re: School inequities
Post on Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:33 pm  seek2mend
I agree with you, Wendy. And hopefully the state will find a better way to measure a school districts performance.

Two points. You may not want to move your children since they have always been at Martin.
But there are kids in grades 3-5 who were moved out of Aitken after the failed override. They probably still have friends there. Their parents may be thrilled to bring them "home", even if it is just for a year or two.

Secondly, the test results bring credibility to my original point. There are inequities between the schools.

I wonder what would happen if we left the kids where they are and moved the Martin School administration, teachers, staff etc to Aitken and moved the Aitken School adm., teachers, staff to Martin? Would the Aitken School kids still perform better? I tend to think they would. That is why I still believe it would be more fair and more efficient to have the k-5 schools reorganized by grade level. Wouldn't liberals consider this a step in the right direction towards social justice? Wink
Re: School inequities
Post on Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:32 am  tombenoit
Just a couple of questions. This may seem dumb - but - what is the AYP? How does it force the district to have school building choice? If parents are allowed to move their child from one building to another (i.e. Martin to Aitken), is the district required to bus that child since it is the parent's choice? What if there is no room at the 'goto' school? Would it not just serve to increase class size and then, according to some, become counter productive?

Oh - and welcome to the new Superintendant. Wink
Re: School inequities
Post on Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:45 am  seek2mend
tombenoit wrote:
Just a couple of questions. This may seem dumb - but - what is the AYP? How does it force the district to have school building choice? If parents are allowed to move their child from one building to another (i.e. Martin to Aitken), is the district required to bus that child since it is the parent's choice? What if there is no room at the 'goto' school? Would it not just serve to increase class size and then, according to some, become counter productive?

Oh - and welcome to the new Superintendant. Wink
My understanding:

AYP simply means Adequate Yearly Progress. The Federal government mandate, NCLB, requires each state to design a system to assure that No Child is Left Behind. Massachusetts designed MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System). This includes the high-stakes, contoversial MCAS test. Each year, districts must administer this test and show Adequate Yearly Progress. The goal is profficiency in mainly Math and Science. But I think tests are also given in literacy and History. Panic is especially prevelant in tenth grade because passing MCAS is a requirement for all graduates. Failure means retakes and worse. A student can not receive a diploma unless they pass the MCAS.

If a district does not prove AYP in any particular subgroup, NCLB requires school choice.

It is interesting to note that some states alledgedly took the easy route when designing a system, but Massachusetts supposedly went to the other extreme.

As for your questions: The district must provide transportation. If there is no room at the chosen school, the district must accomadate. In our case, that would probably mean those protable classrooms. And yes. It would increase class size and be counter-productive. If we had one k-2 and one 3-5 school, this wouldn't be an issue.

Interesting to note that this is the 2002 brainchild of Ted Kennedy and George Bush as they "crossed the aisle". This should be a cautionary tail as the feds push to nationalize health care/insurance.
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Re: School inequities
Post on Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:47 am  Dave
seek2mend wrote:

As for your questions: The district must provide transportation. If there is no room at the chosen school, the district must accomadate. In our case, that would probably mean those protable classrooms. And yes. It would increase class size and be counter-productive. If we had one k-2 and one 3-5 school, this wouldn't be an issue.

Interesting to note that this is the 2002 brainchild of Ted Kennedy and George Bush as they "crossed the aisle". This should be a cautionary tail as the feds push to nationalize health care/insurance.

The ability to move from one school to another would be based on the ability to accomodate the child (ren). So there would not be any adding of classrooms/resources. However it could mean that a classroom of 22 students might increase until the max is reached. In terms of costs transportation would be an issue.

My fear is that as they raise the bar every two years school choice will become a larger issue.
Re: School inequities
Post on Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:05 am  seek2mend
Dave wrote:


The ability to move from one school to another would be based on the ability to accomodate the child (ren). So there would not be any adding of classrooms/resources. However it could mean that a classroom of 22 students might increase until the max is reached. In terms of costs transportation would be an issue.

My fear is that as they raise the bar every two years school choice will become a larger issue.

Thanks for the clarification. But what is considered the maximum? Is the number determined by fire code or by state education laws? I thought there was something in the teachers contracts that classroom size could go above 30, but the teacher would be compensated for the additional students.

Another question: If there is school choice, do the students who are already in the "good school" automatically stay or is a lottery system imposed?
Re: School inequities
Post on Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:54 am  tombenoit
seek2mend wrote:
The district must provide transportation. If there is no room at the chosen school, the district must accomadate. In our case, that would probably mean those protable classrooms.

I would like to probe this deeper. I live .5 miles from Martin. If I CHOOSE another school, is it part of the law regarding school choice that the district provide transportation? I would also be interested in seeing the law that requires a district to build facilities to house more children due the whim of the parents. Is it the federal NCLB law or the state supporting laws? If the laws regarding the choice option are that burdensome - we better get to a single school for each grade level unless we can guarantee that we will always meet the standard.
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Re: School inequities
Post on Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:07 am  Dave
seek2mend wrote:
Dave wrote:


The ability to move from one school to another would be based on the ability to accomodate the child (ren). So there would not be any adding of classrooms/resources. However it could mean that a classroom of 22 students might increase until the max is reached. In terms of costs transportation would be an issue.

My fear is that as they raise the bar every two years school choice will become a larger issue.

Thanks for the clarification. But what is considered the maximum? Is the number determined by fire code or by state education laws? I thought there was something in the teachers contracts that classroom size could go above 30, but the teacher would be compensated for the additional students.

Another question: If there is school choice, do the students who are already in the "good school" automatically stay or is a lottery system imposed?

I think the size is set by contract- I do not have that contract in front of me. As for the 2nd question the "good school" remains the same. I recall at the SC meeting that if there were not enough spots vs. requests then choice is selected by inverse performance.
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Re: School inequities
Post on Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:12 am  Dave
tombenoit wrote:
seek2mend wrote:
The district must provide transportation. If there is no room at the chosen school, the district must accomadate. In our case, that would probably mean those protable classrooms.

I would like to probe this deeper. I live .5 miles from Martin. If I CHOOSE another school, is it part of the law regarding school choice that the district provide transportation? I would also be interested in seeing the law that requires a district to build facilities to house more children due the whim of the parents. Is it the federal NCLB law or the state supporting laws? If the laws regarding the choice option are that burdensome - we better get to a single school for each grade level unless we can guarantee that we will always meet the standard.

There is a great presentation in the SC notes- you can download them via the school website. It gives a good layman's approach to AYP, what it is, and where it is headed.

I do want to stress that we do not know the scores yet...
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Re: School inequities
Post on Thu Aug 27, 2009 2:11 pm  Dave
Wendy wrote:
Dave, I can't figure out how to see the presentation. Is it via videocast and podcasts? Or elsewhere? I have to confess, though I am happy to see the new SC website, I still find it hard to navigate.

I just went into the doc folder and it is not in the package. It will be in the video sometime this week- I watched an older meeting the other night and it was great to be able to ffast forward or cut to certain parts.

My apologies and I will put a request in to have the presentation posted.



d
Re: School inequities
Post on Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:10 pm  MitchV
Hi Wendy,
It is now available in the documents folder under August 24, 2009. It is listed as AYP 2009 Powerpoint as a PDF.

Thanks,
Mitch
Re: School inequities
Post on Fri Aug 28, 2009 7:59 am  seek2mend
Dave wrote:


There is a great presentation in the SC notes- you can download them via the school website. It gives a good layman's approach to AYP, what it is, and where it is headed.

I do want to stress that we do not know the scores yet...

Thanks. The material answered some questions and raised others.

It seems that I am one who falls victim to misunderstanding what "school choice" means. According to the material, the choice apparently is the schools, not the parents. Which makes one wonder why they force schools to throw away money by sending out letters to all the parents that "school choice" is offered?

Also, I am a bit confused by the page "Consequences When a School does not make AYP".
I am sure Ms Daly explained this during the meeting, so forgive me. I missed it. The page explains that after two years of not making the grade, schools are "identified for improvement". Year one, schools must offer school choice.

Since they are now offering school choice, does this mean we have already failed to meet AYP two years in a row?
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