Tag Archives: BOE meeting

Day 18: The BOE Meeting and a Swinging Pendulum

Dear Readers,

May I request a moment of silence for the death announcement of the Montclair School District, as we once knew it?

Yesterday evening, we had almost 400 online petition signatures plus more hand signed ones. The students had almost 600 signatures on their own petition.

I’m still trying to process what happened at the meeting. I’d send you a link, but inexplicably, the broadcast cut off just as the first speaker got started at the podium during public comments. We are investigating what happened. Was it technical? A WiFi glitch? Or was it intentional. Hmm. We will see if it’s posted eventually, or if I get an answer to my question about this.

Anyway, the dog and pony show, led by the CORPORATE FORCES TASK FORCE FOR STANDARDS & TESTING and BOARD OF EGREGIOUSNESS & ERONEOUS DECISIONS—- was an excruciating thing to sit through. It started at 7:30pm and went until about 11:30pm. SUPER OF the district, or maybe we must call her The Royal Highness of Gobbledygook and BS (Via THE BROAD ACADEMY)  and the corporate ed reform machine of GREED & AWFULNESS told  us all about the PLAN and how great it will be for our children. I managed not to throw up, but I did feel nauseous all the way through.

Lies upon lies upon more lies. It’s just beyond! BEYOND!

So, we spoke. The first one started reading the petition. She didn’t make it all the way through and was stopped. The crowd protested, “Let her speak!”  But, whack, down came that gavel and that was the end of that.  One by one against the plan, parents and residents spoke up asking for a deferment of the plan so the community could have more time to become informed, absorb it, have more input. And one by one we were reminded, “There is no dialogue.” Direct questions were asked of them and not answered over and over again. Except selectively, in some cases, when they didn’t answer, but repeated canned lines or lies or both.

For my turn, several people after our first speaker, I continued reading the petition where she’d been cut off–until the end. I asked for a vote. I then continued with my personal comments. I handed them a copy of the printed petition with signatures and many comments from petition signers.

The students spoke beautifully and courageously. One said that she’d met Pete Seeger recently, and he had told her that he supported the cause. Not too shabby. Maybe we should start testing them more to see if they understand basic civics. Oh wait, you mean NOT a test, but a real life experience? That’s progressive. We can’t have that here in our town. OY!

Then the ones for the plan spoke. There were less of them in number than our group and they mumbled a lot.

To end the night, the BOE did a vote to pass the PLAN. But first they regaled us with their personal comments and views. I really did almost throw up at this part. On and on. Lies, vague statements, a collective cheer for the PLAN. One of them compared our children and education to a kitchen renovation job project. Many were offended and insulted by that particular train of thought. Yet again, the swinging pendulum was mentioned. All I could think of was Edgar Allen Poe and that we are somehow trapped in a real life horror story.

As they started saying YES or ALL IN FAVOR or whatever Board- speak they use, we stood up, and walked out, and we yelled at them, “SHAME. SHAME ON YOU! SHAME!”

We’ve received a flurry of supportive messages from all over town. We’re going to regroup and plan next steps. The work has just begun. There’s a bunch of local press links below in case anyone is interested.

I’ll choose to believe in reincarnation, or evolution and change, and that we will one day reclaim what is being taken away from us. There are thieves stealing from our children (and community, taxpayers, etc). In the meantime, Rest in Peace, MPS District.

Elana

“Be original. Think out of the box. Color outside the lines.” From my comments at meeting 6/17/2013

LOCAL PRESS LINKS:

http://kids.baristanet.com/2013/06/montclair-parents-wanting-education-reform-through-petitions-and-opt-outs/

http://montclair.patch.com/articles/parents-come-out-to-protest-boe-s-strategic-plan-montclair-council-meets-at-msu-this-week?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001

http://montclair.patch.com/articles/petition-asks-district-to-defer-quarterly-common-assessments

http://kids.baristanet.com/2013/06/a-closer-look-at-common-core/#more-61057

http://kids.baristanet.com/2013/06/montclair-board-approves-strategic-plan-despite-protests/

http://kids.baristanet.com/2013/06/a-closer-look-at-common-core/

http://kids.baristanet.com/2013/06/montclair-schools-strategic-plan-to-be-presented-at-tonights-boe-meeting-parents-urged-to-attend/

http://montclair.patch.com/articles/montclair-school-board-moves-ahead-with-strategic-plan-despite-opposition

http://kids.baristanet.com/2013/06/montclair-board-approves-strategic-plan-despite-protests/#comment-16324

Oh, big surprise, one of new hire to our district ran a Charter School in Chicago, IL. AKA, land of the largest mass public school closings in our history.

http://montclair.patch.com/articles/montclair-fills-four-top-school-spots

Day 17: Big BOE meeting this evening and online petition

Dear Readers,

I’m completely humbled and grateful for the ongoing support, new subscribers, comments and likes here. Thank you! These flowers are for all of you.

IMG_0531

I’m up to my eyeballs trying to get ready for the BOE meeting this evening, in which the Superintendent will be presenting her Strategic Plan.

Over the weekend, this local news story came out. Within the article is a link to a petition. It has over 260 signatures. While support is appreciated from anyone who wants to sign, the petition will have more weight if its signed primarily by local Montclair, NJ residents. So, please keep that in mind if you find yourselves wanting to sign, but don’t live here.

On the other hand, if you’re  a Montclair, NJ resident  who agrees and wishes to help, please forward the article  widely within your Montclair, NJ network of friends, family, neighbors, and community members.

I’ll let you know what happens tonight. I’ve gotta feeling its going to be very interesting.

Have a great day. The revolution has begun.

Elana

“Every creative act involves a leap into the void. The leap has to occur at the right moment and yet the time for the leap is never prescribed. In the midst of a leap, there are no guarantees. To leap can often cause acute embarrassment. Embarrassment is a partner in the creative act – a key collaborator. If your work does not sufficiently embarrass you, then very likely no one will be touched by it”

Anne Bogart, Seven Essays on Art and Theatre

Day 11: A sea change, the revolution, and speaking up for our children

Dear Readers,

I believe I’ve earned my first rabble rouser stripes.  At yesterday’s BOE meeting where we’re now fighting a district takeover by a Broad Academy Super and all the powers that are behind her, I and a few other parents spoke up. We didn’t have prepared remarks, as we wanted to see how the meeting would unfold. We had to wing it.

Sitting there listening to the awfulness such as: how its going to be and how difficult but it’s a sea change and we all have to work hard and pendulums will swing and freight trains are coming fast and  “this is an open dialogue” and “we want the community to be involved” and “its all for the children” and “rigor” and “achievement”—– blah, blah, blah. We sat there and listened and then decided we would speak up and whatever we said would have to be good enough.

We spoke passionately and from our hearts. I mentioned Albany, NY and Nikhil Goyal and told them, among many other things, that they need to go read his speech and that the Revolution was coming. I called for a BOE resolution against High Stakes testing. I questioned the new recent student (Tripod) surveys done and misuse of funds and waste of money that caused, instead of hiring more needed teachers or useful resources for our classrooms, which are short staffed and under funded. Plus a whole bunch more. I can hardly remember what I said.

BOEmeet2

We were cut off, one by one. Our comments and questions were met with, “Motion to adjourn.” Boy, did they want out!

The meeting was taped. Local press was there. One didn’t mention parent dissent at all (ah, mainstream media). One gave a brief mention and I was quoted. I said the word REVOLUTION.

I was shaking and my heart was pounding as I spoke. I was all over the place, not polished, completely going with my gut. I told them this plan isn’t good enough for my child or this town. I stood up for my son and said he’d be entering 1st grade next year and that I won’t allow him to be tested or “assessed.”

After, and still shaking, I asked my fellow rabble-rouser parent friends, “Was that awful? OMG, what did I say? Did I sound crazy?” We had a good laugh at ourselves. My friend spoke eloquently and well and asked excellent questions that were not answered.

Bottom line, we created a stir and shook them up. They were all sporting deer in headlights looks and had a long huddle afterwards whispering and shaking heads. We had our own huddle.

I feel like everything I’ve ever done, ever learned, who I am, what I believe and know is coming to bear in this struggle. It’s not about me, but I need to use everything that I can that is within me for this struggle. One by one we’ll use our strengths to fight back.

I was crying the other day. I felt so discouraged and hopeless and wondering if we will ever make a difference. What we’re up against, all that. But justice is on our side and I won’t stop. There are many of us and we’re helping each other.

After the BOE meeting we learned that the students have organized and created their own movement (and we’d started talking with some of them only a week ago when we met elsewhere and so being able to help our students feels really good and is why we are doing this in the first place). They thanked us for leading the way and our page, which they used as a resource.

While I made my drawing,  M made this:

ourfamilybyM

We’re now cross promoting and helping each other (parents  group and students group). But this isn’t about thanks or who did what —it is an ever expanding circle of people who are fed up and are not going to take it anymore finally coming together for a common goal. We, the people, hear us roar.

I know this is going to be a long fight. So be it.

Love and peace,

Elana

Day 3: Prepping for my first BOE meeting

Dear Readers,

There’s a Board of Education meeting happening in my town this evening. I’ve never managed to attend them before and I usually  watch them (after the fact) when they’re taped and available online. The meetings  usually happen during the worst time of day for me, evening, just at bedtime for M, when everyone’s exhausted from the day, also known as the witching hour of many meltdowns (although less so lately) and A isn’t home from work yet. Sometimes these meetings go on for hours.

But today, special circumstances, I booked a sitter (M’s favorite) and I’m going. And M is also looking forward to Daddy Guy Stuff Bedtime when he gets home instead of his usual routine with boring old moi. Yay!

The new district superintendent in our town is presenting her final strategic plan for our district, among other things on the agenda.  I’m going with the hopes that I can sign up to speak as are many other parents I know who plan to attend and voice their questions and concerns. There’s an open comments section of the meeting where residents can speak for up to three (3) minutes. It’s not a long time. And while I’m fine with public speaking, having done stand up comedy for years, plus improv and acting, and I know how to write for time, and such, this is completely different, and I’m a bit nervous.  I might not speak. I’ll decide there. I might just go and listen and watch.

I  wrote an almost four page letter to the Super, cc-ing the BOE members, and with plans to also copy a council member and the Mayor.  It’s in draft form now, so I’m not sharing it widely yet and certainly not until  after I send it to its intended recipients. I hope to use bits of  it as reference for speaking to make points, and to keep myself on track and focused. Depending on how things go at the meeting, and if new information is revealed, I might tweak the letter some more before sending. Whew.

Tonight, I’ll be following the rule of listening twice as much as I speak (two ears, one mouth). I’m new to the BOE meeting situation, so I want to see what exactly happens there  which will be  a different experience than watching it online,  reading about it or hearing about it. I hope I have the guts to speak. If I don’t, I hope to forgive myself quickly. And maybe next time.

And now, I need to go eat something, get dressed and head over to my neighbor and fellow parent activist for a ride to the meeting. M is having fun with his sitter, so I feel I can walk away in peace. But I really do need to get dressed with outside clothes on aka not my sweats/yoga pants.

MLKandfear

I hope all my fellow WordCount Bloggers are doing well. I’m hoping to at least get to read at least one or more posts by other writers in the Parenting category by the time this blogathon is over.

Thanks to everyone for your support!

Love and peace,

Elana