Sunday, February 26, 2012

State Visit, Tenure Shakeup

A contingent of Norwalkers went to the State Department to complain about the Education Cost Sharing Formula. It would appear that Norwalk does not receive its fair share of funds for grants. I'm not sure, but The Norwalk Hour appeared to state that the Norwalk contingent went comparing Median incomes of different districts. As I recall, median incomes means one just lists the incomes of wage earners and the exact middle income reported is the median income. I would think that Norwalk, of all cities, has very rich top income earners. Is that really the best way to present the incomes of the city? Is it a fair way to present the income average of this city? What is the best way to present incomes of a city that has very rich and very poor families?
Next, there has been much discussion about tenure. In order to participate in Obama's Race to the Top funding, teacher tenure has to be revamped. Tenure will be tied to testing, observations and more. What are your feelings about possibly losing good teachers because of this new way of evaluating teachers?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stealing an Education

A $15,000 Norwalk Public School education was stolen by a Bridgeport mother. She has been found guilty and is now told by the courts to pay back to Norwalk $6,200. The case also involved drugs, but let's focus on the stolen education. Do you think the judgement was fair? Do you think other mothers will take note and remove children from our schools if they are there illegally? How did you react to the whole incident, including Reverend Sharpton, if you so choose.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Three Threads To Read

There are three threads to read today. I posted them separately to give everyone a chance to respond to each separately. Don't forget to read the next two threads down.

This thread is about the budget...or should I say the incredibly quiet budget. Why aren't we hearing anything about the obvious cuts that need to be made? We are looking at over $4 million in cuts. Who is working on it? Is the superintendent? Is the Board? What's the big secret? Is it being worked on behind closed doors? Where is it?

One more time.....

Core knowledge, a curriculum of the 1990s, is not aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The only thing that is in common is the word core. If you look at their web page, less than 200 schools use this curriculum. This is what I've been told. It appears to be the curriculum being pushed forward according to the Lion King's wishes. Comments?

Pay it Forward

I just read an interesting article in the New York Times about kidney donors who are on a list to 'pay it forward' if their kidneys are not a match for their own loved one, who is in need of a transplant. Their loved one gets a match for a kidney from a stranger if the person who is willing to donate gives his/her kidney to someone else. I got to thinking. What if a list was generated in Norwalk of people who would be willing to tutor students long term for parents in return for services provided by that parent? Bartering, if you will. Some parents can't pay for tutoring, nor do they feel adequate to tutor their own child. Some parents can't tutor their own child because the child won't cooperate with the parent. It might work....or not. It's one idea. What do you think....and please share your ideas to help get extra help for our students. All ideas are welcome. Teachers also please comment. I'll bet there are teachers who are willing to donate a session on tutoring students....Let's get the ball rolling!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Can U.S. Students Compete Globally?

We are opening this discussion up to U.S. students because what we are experiencing in Norwalk is not just about the Norwalk curriculum. We need to look at the national picture to understand the problem. The researchers ranked the U.S. 32nd out of 65 nations participating in the PISA exam for math proficiency and 17th out of 65 for reading proficiency. (Harvard's Program on Education Policy & Governance, 8/11.) The United States spends approximately 50% more per pupil than the average per pupil expenditure in Western Europe and 40% more than Japan. What is the problem? Is it the curriculum? Are we wasting our time discussing curriculum when there are much more serious problems that are not being discussed? I ask you all to think about this. Is it really about the curriculum? Why are our children not testing well?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Board vs. Central Office

Is the Board holding Central Office hostage over Core Curriculum? The State Department of Education told us we were making good progress. Why change course now? How could a superintendent allow a Board of Education committee to dictate curriculum? Did anyone ask about the cost of this drastic change? Is this curriculum being dictated to Central Office or is there any choice here? Is the Lighthouse training given by the State Department having an effect? These questions need to be answered and answered now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Best of the Best

We can't give out bonuses to staff members who deserve it, but we can award them the first annual 'Norwalk Speaks - Best staff Awards.' Let's hear it for staff members in the Norwalk Public Schools who deserve to be recognized. Tell us who you want to honor and why. The definition of staff includes anyone working for the Norwalk Public School System. Bravo, in advance, for those outstanding people who deserve this recognition.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


The Finance Director announced a 3.5% increase for the Board of Education. Time to cut the budget....again. Comments?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Is Norwalk Sinking?

We have a weak superintendent and a 5/4 Board of Education. Lyons has stepped up to the plate. Unfortunately his 1990s curriculum ideas are not realistic for Norwalk. They conflict with the State's wishes. So why is the Board allowing him to lead? Would any of our past superintendents have allowed this to happen? Is the role of an elected Board of Education out of date? The State Department of Education has been training the Board, but they don't seem to be learning. Lyons pushes on. What is going to happen? When, if ever, will the superintendent come forward? She is not a rookie anymore. Is she even working on the budget? What of the future for our students? Is Norwalk sinking to the bottom of the ocean?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cutting the Budget, Your Input

I've been asked to post about how everyone would feel about cutting the budget by eliminating teachers. I'll open it up even further. What cuts would you suggest and why? Please speak to positions, not individual people. If you are asking to cut teachers, tell us whether you are talking about classroom teachers or others. If you mention central office positions, tell us why the position is unnecessary, not the person. In this way, we will have credibility with the Board.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Open Forum

Every once in a while I think it's a good idea to have an open topic. It's your forum. All topics are welcome .........budget, Board of Ed, superintendent, curriculum, schools, even a topic on whether an open topic is a good idea. Just start writing....