More to a School Board member than "fiscal conservatism

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Postby Ken Coleman » Fri Mar 30, 2007 12:16 am

US, your constant drum beat on how our test scores need to be the best in the state is getting very old for the following reasons;

1. You bring this up every time money is discussed, yet your refuse to answer the questions if you tie money to performance why with about average spending would you expect Merrimack to have the highest test scores in the state? You’re the one that brings up test scores each time money is mentioned, but then you back away from this argument.

2. Every school board has always had 4 or 5 major efforts underway at once to improve academic performance. What would you suggest differently? (Before you repeat this again, EVERY one of these efforts uses hard test data as their starting point and EVERY one of them has the goal of improving the results)

3. You continue to suggest removing some existing school board members such as my self and replacing them with people like George and Jen T. Please name one proposal to improve academic performance that either of these members has put forward that has not been accepted by the entire board? In fact just name one major proposal that either of these members have put forward to improve academic performance?

(BTW this is not meant to be an attack on either George or Jeni as they have supported the rest of the board on a number of programs which are designed to improve performance. The point here is that the school has been working on improving performance and so far the new blood has not brought any radically new ideas to the table in this regard).

4. Of the candidates you support please name one proposal or idea that either of them is putting forward to improve academic performance?

Unless you can respond to all of the above, it is obvious that you are using this argument about needing to have the best test scores in the state as a front for attacking those you do not want in office.

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Postby uscitizen03054 » Fri Mar 30, 2007 5:32 am

US, your constant drum beat on how our test scores need to be the best in the state is getting very old for the following reasons;


Ken no disrespect meant but your constant excuses and justification for Merrimack’s academic performance without showing a study or better yet actual data linking number of SpecEd students, class size or family affluence to tests score is weak. Please show us as even in the small data sets I have examined I do not see a 1.0 correlation.

Finally, Ken please enlighten us with some evidence the challengers for the open school board seats would not improve education here in Merrimack.
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Postby GregRS » Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:11 am

Jamie MacFarland wrote:GregRS,

You say that Merrimack has an "very high" number of special needs children in comparison with area communties, and that skews the numbers, and fully explains why we are a District in Need of improvement.

Do you have any facts on this? I am not yet disagreeing with you, but questioning whether you have any solid numbers behind this. If your wife is a school board member, perhaps she has some insight on this. Recently I saw an article in the paper a few months back. I seem to remember that the percentage of special ed students to the overall school population was very close to the average for the region, and statewide. I believe Merrimack is a very tiny fraction higher than average. Regardless, I am not sure you can blame this fully on the special needs population. In fact, I think to blame this on special ed is ignoring reality. We cannot improve as a district if we keep making excuses for our test scores. I would think the first step to losing that DINI label is to accept that improvement is needed. Lets stop blaming this on the special ed kids. Furthermore saying that over 50% of the kids go on to college is not impressive. What about the other 50%? What is happening with them? I think the education in Merrimack is good. However, I think it can be better. I am sure you agree.


Hi Jamie,

I stand corrected on the term "very high". We are above state average (barely) for the number of special needs kids in our district. This was my error and was brought to my attention by Rose, Emily and Jamie. :)

Digging deeper, we find that even comparing counts of special needs to those of other towns can be misleading. I'm not saying this is the case here, because this data is subject to privacy laws. I am saying that pure state numbers can indicate less success than we're actually achieving. For example, each child has level of "need". If that need is high, indicating the child has a more severe limitation than another special needs child, then their test scores will have a more negative effect on district averages. Again, because Merrimack is better at taking care of special needs children, our district attracts many families needing this extra special care.

I know that Rose and Emily are committed to quality education and improved achievement for all kids, not just the ones with money or high potential. In fact, most of their SB time is spent dealing with ways to improve classroom performance. And as Gina noted in a prior note, classroom changes take time to have a positive effect. I think we're on an upward trend, and we should try to keep that momentum going.

As for the 50%, it was just an estimate on my part. Sure, I would love to send 100% of our kids to college. You and I know that will never happen as there are too many variables out of our control: cost, interest, aptitude, etc. All we can do is help maximize the students' potential and minimize the variables that we can influence.

Greg
Last edited by GregRS on Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby andysinnh » Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:20 am

uscitizen03054 wrote:Finally, Ken please enlighten us with some evidence the challengers for the open school board seats would not improve education here in Merrimack.

USC - for a very intelligent person, you're certainly putting an incredible amount of faith in the unknown here. Given the vacuum of information available, I personally feel this question needs to be turned around. You are a person who always preaches that a plan and method needs to be created to turn education around - and I request again that if you see a plan from the challengers here, to please share it. I certainly agree that improvement is always good, and I think Rose and Emily agree. Their tenure has shown improvement, albeit less than what you may require. Show me why I should put my faith in the other 2 candidates that this trend in improvement will hockey-stick in an upward fashion?

New blood is not always the right blood type to help improve health - and that is definitely true here....

andy
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Postby RD » Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:57 am

usc, you're the first person I've ever heard complain about the quality of education in Merrimack's public schools. Quite frankly, I have a sneaking suspicion that your motives for doing so do not really have anything at all to do with quality of education.

If I am wrong, I apologize. But based on other of your postings on this forum, I can only come to that conclusion.
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Postby Norman Phillips » Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:33 am

RD wrote:usc, you're the first person I've ever heard complain about the quality of education in Merrimack's public schools. Quite frankly, I have a sneaking suspicion that your motives for doing so do not really have anything at all to do with quality of education.

If I am wrong, I apologize. But based on other of your postings on this forum, I can only come to that conclusion.


RD-----The motto on usc??'s entry in the Member list says it all---


QUOTE Interests: Fighting the good fight against Liberals

UNQUOTE
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Postby uscitizen03054 » Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:48 am

Fighting the good fight against Liberals


Norm key to the statement above are the words good fight and against Liberals. In the case of the former, I hope to follow proper decorum when making my points. In the second phrase, I see liberals as misguided souls who need to be vigorously challenged.
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Postby Jeannine Stergios » Fri Mar 30, 2007 12:18 pm

RD

usc, you're the first person I've ever heard complain about the quality of education in Merrimack's public schools.


Well, you must be talking to the wrong people. I have two nephews in Merrimack schools and two employees who attended Merrimack schools and I don't see anything special going on here unless you want to include this goofy "new math" where you can estimate your checkbook balance. :shock: This is what one of my nephews is being taught. When did 1+1=2 need to be taught as an estimate? This is loony math that could only be dreamed up by loons.

One of my employees moved out of Merrimack and finished school in Hudson and couldn't believe how much better it was there. He learned more and the kids were friendlier is what he's told me.

I have heard complaints about Merrimack schools. Some involve teaching methods and some about the obnoxious and mean behaviors of a small group of people.
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Postby andysinnh » Fri Mar 30, 2007 12:20 pm

Jeannine Stergios wrote:...and some about the obnoxious and mean behaviors of a small group of people.

Huh?
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Postby Jeannine Stergios » Fri Mar 30, 2007 12:23 pm

Andysinnh

I know of several kids who have been physically assaulted by other kids. I don't want to go into specifics on this public forum.
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Postby andysinnh » Fri Mar 30, 2007 12:28 pm

Jeannine Stergios wrote:Andysinnh

I know of several kids who have been physically assaulted by other kids. I don't want to go into specifics on this public forum.

Oh, ok, I see what you mean. But I'll be honest in that this certainly isn't unique to Merrimack - my wife (for example) sees stuff like this out where she teaches as well....

andy
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Postby GregRS » Fri Mar 30, 2007 12:45 pm

Jeannine Stergios wrote:RD

usc, you're the first person I've ever heard complain about the quality of education in Merrimack's public schools.


Well, you must be talking to the wrong people. I have two nephews in Merrimack schools and two employees who attended Merrimack schools and I don't see anything special going on here unless you want to include this goofy "new math" where you can estimate your checkbook balance. :shock: This is what one of my nephews is being taught. When did 1+1=2 need to be taught as an estimate? This is loony math that could only be dreamed up by loons.

One of my employees moved out of Merrimack and finished school in Hudson and couldn't believe how much better it was there. He learned more and the kids were friendlier is what he's told me.

I have heard complaints about Merrimack schools. Some involve teaching methods and some about the obnoxious and mean behaviors of a small group of people.


This happens in other districts as well. I know people in Hudson that want out because that system is a mismatch for their kids. I think no district can satisfy 100% of its student body.

As for the attacks, it's unacceptable to have this or even simple bullying. We have an on-site officer at the HS who is very good with the kids. He does an excellent job of keeping the order, but he can't be everywhere all the time.

Hollis-Brookline HS has a terrible drug problem, and Nashua has problems with gangs. It appears that no district is safe from contemporary problems. We are fortunate that we don't have to fight all the potential problems that can find their way into a school.
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Postby Ken Coleman » Fri Mar 30, 2007 3:31 pm

I Posted

US, your constant drum beat on how our test scores need to be the best in the state is getting very old for the following reasons;

1. You bring this up every time money is discussed, yet your refuse to answer the questions if you tie money to performance why with about average spending would you expect Merrimack to have the highest test scores in the state? You’re the one that brings up test scores each time money is mentioned, but then you back away from this argument.

2. Every school board has always had 4 or 5 major efforts underway at once to improve academic performance. What would you suggest differently? (Before you repeat this again, EVERY one of these efforts uses hard test data as their starting point and EVERY one of them has the goal of improving the results)

3. You continue to suggest removing some existing school board members such as my self and replacing them with people like George and Jen T. Please name one proposal to improve academic performance that either of these members has put forward that has not been accepted by the entire board? In fact just name one major proposal that either of these members have put forward to improve academic performance?

(BTW this is not meant to be an attack on either George or Jeni as they have supported the rest of the board on a number of programs which are designed to improve performance. The point here is that the school has been working on improving performance and so far the new blood has not brought any radically new ideas to the table in this regard).

4. Of the candidates you support please name one proposal or idea that either of them is putting forward to improve academic performance?

Unless you can respond to all of the above, it is obvious that you are using this argument about needing to have the best test scores in the state as a front for attacking those you do not want in office.


S as usual you did not address any of the points I made.

And please tell me why I should have to come up with evidence as to the lack of a candidate running for school board plan for improving education. IT IS UP TO THE PEOPLE RUNNING TO TELL US THAT!!!

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Postby uscitizen03054 » Sat Mar 31, 2007 7:01 am

New blood is not always the right blood type to help improve health - and that is definitely true here....


Andy we have two well defined data points for the current board. The spending habits and the attention paid to academic results seem to be well known and understood as they apply to the two incumbents. On the other hand, we also know the stated agenda of the two candidates running for their seats drifts to that of fiscal constraint. Given this, I will need to question the philosophy and plans for raising test scores of Jenn and Dan. If they seem serious about the later then new blood may be in order.
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Postby uscitizen03054 » Sat Mar 31, 2007 7:02 am

New blood is not always the right blood type to help improve health - and that is definitely true here....


Andy we have two well defined data points for the current board. The spending habits and the attention paid to academic results seem to be well known and understood as they apply to the two incumbents. On the other hand, we also know the stated agenda of the two candidates running for their seats drifts to that of fiscal constraint. Given this, I will need to question the philosophy and plans for raising test scores of Jenn and Dan. If they seem serious about the later then new blood may be in order.
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