I wrote this letter to two board members. I’m calling them BOE 1 and BOE 2. The reply from BOE 2 is at the end.
Dear BOE Member 1 and BOE Member 2,
I’m a parent of a kindergarten student in Montclair.
You might recall that I spoke up against the Strategic Plan
at the BOE meeting on Monday, June 10, 2013.
I understand that Common Core is being implemented by the State
and that is a separate struggle for those of us who believe it should be taken down.
Montclair has an opportunity, as do many other districts, including our neighbor Bloomfield and in New Milford, NJ, to determine how we will use our creativity and imagination to keep the values of our school system intact—even with CCSS and as long as it is mandated and in place. We should not be adding one test or assessment above and beyond the minimum required to comply with CCSS. And our district should eventually be in vocal opposition to CCSS, but that’s aside.
I feel our students, parents, citizens, educators, and community are losing precious time having to debate High Stakes testing, when there is overwhelming evidence that High Stakes testing doesn’t work and is a failed policy. Instead of being able to truly dig into and address the many issues our schools face, we’re stuck having to deal with additional High Stakes testing, added evaluations, added assessments that are not part of CCSS requirement and a plan that doesn’t reflect the real values of our community and are a set up for failure for our students, teachers, and principals. We must reject what isn’t acceptable to Montclair residents. We must remain vigilant so that all our voices are heard and represented. We should not be embracing this failed business model approach to education. We should be turning far away from it. It is shocking to me and many others that this plan has even gotten as far as it has.
We must use our collective imaginations and creativity to really think about how we can move forward and maintain our core values (and all that is good about our schools) and focus on the individual student, build on our strengths, and not lose what this town has offered in the past. Montclair has had an excellent reputation, has been a leader in desegregation, and has been recognized as a top magnet school district that thrives on its diversity and strengths of its citizens who believe in democracy in our town and in our public schools. Do I believe there is much to change and improve upon? Of course, and there always will be room for improvement. However dismantling everything is counter productive and destructive. We’re not a “failing school district” in need of a complete overhaul of this type (which no district would want or need even if it was “failing”) and in such short a time, and at such cost. The measures being implemented here are drastic and a radical departure from our town’s core values. They do not address the many real issues, but instead they distract us away from what really needs to be done. They divert us away from even from having that conversation in a meaningful real community -input -way.
I offer up some alternatives and suggestions of where we can begin to have that conversation. The Strategic Plan as it is currently written is a disaster for our school district and will be harmful to our students, teachers, and entire community. It represents a gutting of core values, it won’t close the achievement gap, won’t inspire our teachers or students to have meaningful, authentic learning experiences that really could prepare our students for the world we live in now and in the foreseeable future. The Plan must be rejected.
The following are links I urge you to read, watch, and consider ahead of the next BOE meeting on 6/17/2013.
Thank you for your consideration and time.
I look forward to hearing from you and hope to continue this conversation about our school district at the next BOE meeting.
The auto reply I received from BOE Member 2:
“Thank you for taking the time to contact me. Your comments are important and I wanted to confirm that I have received your message.
I also will review your message and refer it to the appropriate staff members for a response. Should I have additional input or need information from you, I will be back in touch. Again, thank you for your communications.”
That’s all folks…..Have a goodnight or morning!
PS. I found this online and don’t know who to credit it to. I loved it and it helped me today during a moment of —-ARGH I can’t take it anymore —-and so I’ll try to find out who made this and will credit them in an update when I do. Meanwhile, if you made this and you see this post, please tell me who you are and I’ll credit and link asap. Thank you!