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Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Call To Action At Tonight's LSC Meeting

I have cataract surgery today so I won't make tonight's meeting of the LSC so Hopefully someone else will raise the urgent problem about mold in the Ford School. After all the Lynn Department of Inspectional Services and the school department have been sitting on  the moldy classroom for a couplee of weeks.

I have heard stories of moldy flakes of ceiling tile falling in a teacher's bowl of soup and witnessed these same  moldy dandruff covering lunch tables. The problem of mold contamination leads to higher rates of asthma and tons of other health problems.

  • This is a critical problem that deserves everyone's full attention and immediate action.  No one's children are expendable,

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bioterrorism In The Schools!

Stay tuned, I am on to something that appears to be happening or not happening at the Ford Elementary School. Mold has been discovered at Ford and one classoom has been closed down and the kids redistributed in an already overcrowded school.

The Inspectional Services Department closed off this room earlier this month and no plan has been put forth yet to remedy the situation. The afeeted classroom is directly above a room that was closed down last year but was reopened this year supposedly because it was better. There has been no comprehensive test done for the entire building.

I am of course not an expert but I learned in high school you can't stop mold by simply waiting it out, Some positive action needs to be taken. It must be taken.Three other rooms tested positive for mold by someone using a mold testing kit from Home Depot. I talked to some people today at the Massachussetts Coalition for Health and Safety and they said there is no acceptable level of mold.

What gives Lynn Schools?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Checking Out Our Future!

As I have mentioned earlier on this blog, I am serving as a volunteer librarian at the Ford Elementary School. In various LSC meetings including the public hearing on the budget I strongly advocated for the funding of all the elementary school librarians. I lost that battle with the powers that be.

Funny though the librarians were not only restored at the two Level 4 elementary schools, the libraries seem to be at the core of their respective Turnaround Plans. Is that an admission of the crucial importance and value of the libraries?

So far we have only got to run through about half a dozen classes through between everybody settling in, my medical issues, and the fact my kids are at Marshall and Pickering. Watching the excitement of the first graders bubble over as they clutch their book like a holy relic or a lost treasure chest. Their book, a golden key they will use to unlock the future.

Witnessing this joy is a great reward to me but it makes me wonder who could see this and still say they can't find money for librarians?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Best Answer Is The Cheapest!

Self esteem. That is the answer to a lot of the behavior problems in the school system. We spend so much money, time, and effort on tying to prevent bad things from happening we neglect the good. Our whole system is driven by failing to achieve. Think about it. What is "Race to the Top" but a pool of reward money for doing bad.

Before we can ever make substantial gains in education we have to change the focus of our measurement. The threshold for success can not be lack of failure. We need to look at what we are doing good and add to it not throw money at problems

A positive outlook doesn't cost anything, but half-empty glasses do.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Like They Say, Size Matters!

Classroom overcrowding. Everybody agrees it is a problem but no substantial effort has been taken to remedy it, It's funny because the answer is really quite simple: HIRE MORE TEACHERS. I know from the last LSC meeting they have hired a new Reading teacher at Pickering. I know my son's homeroom has been changed three times already in a shell game to try and come up with some kind of solution.

I am no math wiz but the numbers and ratios are fixed. When you have X number of students then you need Y number of teachers. No amount of shuffling is going to solve the problem. Put the stimulus money and those other grants into direct services to to our kids.

Too much money is wasted on support and supervision and consequently our teachers are put in an impossible situation in a where the environment is confusing and dangerous. I really don't want to single out Marshall but that is the school I have the most contact with. I am sure it is not the only school with these problems. Whenever you put too many kids, even "good" kids in a "good" school, in a close place arguments and fighting are a sure bet.

It's Psychology 101, people thrive on attention, any attention. If the class size prohibits teachers from being able to give positive constructive attention then our students are going to insure they get "bad" attention. No one likes the behavior that precedes "bad" attention.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"In This Corner, We Have Weighing In At ......"

I don't know how accurate this is, so I welcome somebody correcting me. This could just be an exaggeration from my daughter. I sincerely hope it is. According to her there have been six fights already this year at Marshall Middle School. This is an unacceptable amount of violence. Who is in charge. Sounds like nobody The students must be confused when the bell rings. They don't know if it's the end of class or the end of the round.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Challenge To Change

The Rachael's Challenge program at Lynn English yesterday was a good way to initiate the school department's heightened attention to bullying. It's sad but true, we live in a different world. Hopefully we can turn a negative into a positive.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Higher MCAS scores in Science seems like a good thing. I haven't really studied the data yet to see just how "good" it actually is. Still a gain is a gain and any gain is a good thing. I just hope the numbers weren't distorted to give a false picture. Giving the benefit of the doubt "kudos" to all involved in making it happen.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tech On Top

Along with a couple of people I did an unofficial inspection of the eight polling places in Lynn to determine their compliance with the ADA Standards for Polling Places. I have very little training and even less authority. Nonetheless I am disabled and a concerned  for polling citizen. For a checklist I downloaded a guide from a Department of Justice website.

Happily I can say that the polling place that appeared to me to be most in compliance was Lynn Vocational Tech. It was the only place where I actually saw the voting machine used for people with low visibility actually turned completely on. In fact they seemed to be the only place that was familiar with it.
To be completely fair, I admit I did not go inside the Community Hall on Church Street. I have to assume that were.

It just makes me glad to see one of our schools leading the way.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Traffic Jams Are A Weighty Issue

Two recent news articles highlight the need for more exercise. If more of our children walked to school there would not be so much traffic around our schools and we would be far less likely to have a repeat of the crossing guards at Callihan being struck by cars. Also, if more students walked we would not have ranked so high in the fattest students.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Going Green Takes Away Some Of The Red

Some good new for being bad, just not too bad. It was unanimously approved by the LSC to apply for a grant from the Green Repair Program through the Massachusetts Building Authority. This grant provides funds that are helpful but bot too substantial.

Two schools, Lynn Vocational and Breed Middle School qualify for the funds by not needing wholesale repairs since repairs are limited to the roof, windows, and boilers. We need to be grateful for any help we get. Our need throughout the system is large.

New Doc in Town!

Dr. Mark Levine was appointed School Physician for the Lynn Public Schools at the Sept. 9th LSC. It  feels good to shift attention back to the more mundane matters.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Time To Resign

How can Patricia Capano remain on the LSC after making the racial caricature she made at the close of Thursday night's meeting? She should immediately offer her resignation. It is the only honorable thing to do. Even if her comments were not malicious and made in jest, the fact remains they were uttered.

If Ms. Capano feels that she does not need to go then Mayor Kennedy needs to take the steps necessary for her removal. To allow this incident to not be addressed, calls into question her judgement. Especially in light of the fact that the mayor had placed Capano in the important position of vice-chair,

With all of the focus on fixing our under performing schools, we can not afford to divert any of our energy on other issues.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name!

Last night just before the closing of the LSC meeting I observed and was offended by the shallow and degrading remarks made by LSC member Patricia Capano to fellow LSC board member Maria Carrasco. While asking about the rumored dismantling of the "machine shop" program at one of the schools, Ms. Carrasco expressed her concern because of the valuable opportunities this program has provided. Dr. Latham  tried to assure her that the program and its machinery were intact

After Dr. Latham's assurance, Ms. Capano laughed, saving she loved Ms. Carrasco's pronunciation of "machine" and asked if she would repeat it for her further amusement. Ms. Carrasco exhibited a great deal of class by refusing to acknowledge what amounted to a racial slur.

I am by no means a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. I don't even like Judge Judy. However over the years after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's nomination, I have been subjected to numerous trainings on what constitutes sexual harassment. From what I have been taught you do not have to receive direct harassment for a violation to occur, You just have to observe and be offended, that constitutes a violation.

A reasonable man would think that ethnic and cultural discrimination would rise to the same threshold. As I said earlier, I am not a lawyer but I was offended.

Light Coverage For a Light Meeting

Last night's meeting of the LSC was a light one, both in attendance. LSC member Vinnie Spirito was absent due to the Jewish New Year. Rick Starrbard, LSC member, was over in Germany and refused to make the commute. On a more somber note, School attorney Mihos was absent due to the passing of his father on the previous night. A moment of silence was observed after the ledge of allegiance in order to show respect and offer the thoughts and prayers of everyone in attendance.

Unfortunately there were only about five in attendance, including yours truly who came sporting a new cane, a custom bandage and designer make-up applied  to my face by a friendly sidewalk. The Lynn Item reporter showed up late but in plenty of time to get a press release. Who needs objective reporting anyway? I have definitely missed Laura Payne's objective reporting. Does anyone know where she is? Luckily the reporter didn't have to miss the athletics Subcommittee meeting scheduled prior to the regular LSC meeting because it was cancelled earlier in the day. I guess she got that memo.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Teacher Teach How To Handle A Crisis

I have to compliment my daughter's third grade teacher. According to Asiah that is who drilled the lesson into her psyche. Life lesson's are the most important piece of the education puzzle.

It all started in the parking lot of Essex Laundry. I was walking behind her, stubbed my foot on the little parking barrier and fell face first into the sidewalk. Maybe my bloody face contributed to her panic. Still in a crowded laundromat, she was the only one with the prescence of mine to call 911. he asked someone behind the counter to do it for her and their response was to hand her the phone. Through her tears she followed the proper course of action. Thank you teachers at Ford School.

After a CAT scan, a MRI,  some time on a back board, and 18 hours in a neck brace, everything turned fined out fine. My head is too hard to crack.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Some more good news came out of the Aug. 31st LSC meeting. This time the credit goes to Dr. Latham. With all the monies heading our way, she was able to restore a vice-principal at English High School. STILL, WHERE ARE THE LIBRARIANS?

Rick Wants Stundents To Get Behind The Wheel!

At the meeting on August 31st LSC member Rick Starrbard proposed the idea that was unaminously approved that the committee explore the possibility of adding driiver's ed. to the curriculumn. Good going Rick

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Looking For Fotward Progress At Pickering

Went yesterday to Pickering Middle School to take my son on a tour so he gets familiar with  the school a little before the start of the new school year on Wed. Entering the sixth grade will be  a big change for him.

The principal, Mr. Murphy was the tour guide. It was a very enjoyable experience. I am sure I will have some juicy insights and comments about the school later but for now I am just going to be optimistic about his progress for the new year. The school may be old and i a little disrepair but for now I have a good impression. For now, I repeat.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Letter To Dr. Latham About My Offer To Help With The Library's Losses

Dear Dr. Latham,Due to these pressing economic times, I understand you not able to fund the librarians at any but the Level 4 elementary schools. I share with you the heartfelt loss that goes along with seeing the thirsty young minds deprived of life enriching knowledge.

As you know, I expressed my views on this loss at  the public hearing on the upcoming years school budget. Metaphorically speaking, it now is time for me to "Put up or shut up". Because of my worsening arthritis, I am retiring from my job with DDS (formerly DMR). This will allow me the time to serve as Ford School's volunteer librarian.

My own kids have moved on to middle school but I can not in good conscience ignore such a vital need and feel compelled to assist in this capacity. While I am by no means an expert in library science, I have had some experience in this area. Not only did I work in the library as my work study in college, I ran the library for a time probably twenty years ago when I worked at the Elkins Mountain School, a residential behavioral treatment center.

I have discussed my offer with Dr. Crane and while she seems to concur that restored school librarians would be ideal but since that appears unlikely, then in their absence my help would be welcome.

I look forward to joining you in the fight to provide quality education to eager young minds.

Stanley H. Wotring, Jr.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Who made the decision to have last night's public hearing on the budget at Breed Middle School? Granted the physical plant was fine and compared to the other schools it may well have been the most able to handle a vast mob for discussion on such important matters.

That being said, we had a public hearing at a place where public transportation does not go. What is wrong with this picture? On top of that, a woefully inadequate sound system made it impossible for the LSC  to hear each other, let alone the few people who were in attendance.

Were theses problems just accidents? I am not going to voice my opinion because I don't want to state the obvious. Thank heavens was there to record he meeting. Now members of the LSC, some members of the school department, and Mayor Kennedy have their respective positions recorded for all to examine and hold them accountable. I intend to remind them of their stated positions and make them take responsibility for those statements. No where will get my attention more than the libraries.

If you feel the need to put in libraries in the two Level 4 Schools at Connery and Harrington and expand their functions at that, how do you feel that they are not necessary in the other elementary schools?


WHERE WAS Everybody? Last night's budget meeting was very sparsely attended with more school officials than citizens.

Before the meeting public citizens were allowed to offer their opinions for or against the proposed budget. No one spoke  in favor of next year's budget and only two spoke against it, Harry Harly and yours truly. Harry complained about the top heavyiness of all education budgets and the dire need for after school programs. Me, I questioned how anyone  could vote for a budget that did not provide for librarians. Also I made my pitch for expanding the Ford School by keeping the soon, very soon to be sixth graders there. This would be possible by transferring teachers already assigned at the Middle Schools that are allotted for these students and a combination of savings to the transportation budget from not having the expense of busing my son to Pickering and saving the cost of a one on one already budgeted for and provided by his IEP. Of course, Mr. Harly's and my injections were either ignored or never directly addressed.

All of this new foud monies that were recently left in our mailbox turned out to be little help at all. I have to go write now but I guarantee I will be writing more very soon.