Search This Blog

Monday, November 29, 2010

Unreasonable Accomodations

Sitting behind my desk at the library, I am outraged by what appears to be unlawful placement of two disabled paraprofessionals in a behavior class since the beginning of the school year. As I have said before, I am not a lawyer but I have been disabled myself for 29+ years so I know a thing or two about some of the issues surrounding the disabled worker.

I don't believe the "union contract" will give the Lynn School Department cover when the Department of Justice comes calling. Again I don't believe the legal language says "reasonable accommodation as long as the union allows it". A person's civil rights can not  bargained away.

I don't know what the answer is, if I did they would pay me more. Wait, they don't pay me at all. Working for a few years with populations with behavior problems, I know the potential to get hurt is always there. Starting with disabilities already makes the occurrence of more injuries all the more likely for either the paraprofessional or the student in their charge.

If that happens, the injuries could be severe, attorney Mihos may need reinforcements, and the school department will learn what a real budget crisis looks like.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coming Home

What is behind the increase in behavior students? Is there an increase? I only see what I can from my vantage point in the Ford library. There is all this commotion with this game of musical chairs(really classrooms) and it looks like the NASA program may not have a place to call home.That would be tragic. Science is our future.

For some reason. it seems that Ford has become the place where other schools are placing their behavior students. Most of the kids in Ford's behavior class are coming from other schools. While I believe Coach K is an exceptional teacher, I strongly believe students do much better in their neighborhood school. I base this opinion on my own personal experience as the parent of a special needs child.

My son was in a .4, behavior class at Shoemaker for about 5 years. His tenure there culminated with the fact that they could not take him safely on a field trip to the Science Museum. In his one year at Ford in a Honors class he was able to go on a 3 day field trip to Washington, DC. Of course, there were bumps at first to his initial placement there but I view those as kind of a decompression in the readjustment to his neighborhood school.

Keeping a student has the added benefits of not having the costs for transportation, a network of familiar friends(this is especially difficult for kids with spectrum disorders), and a known environment. A person's own community is just an extension of the family. Nobody takes care of family like family.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

For Good Measure?

I just have a question, Why is it that education is getting increasingly more complicated in America and our ranking against other countries keeps falling? We seem to be bent on measuring everything and we are getting tangled up in statistics.

Numbers are like the trees blocking our view of the educational landscape. Learning is more than just collecting data. Creativity applied to knowledge yields an education that does not get tangled up in itself and one that evolves into a more progressive intelligence.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Your Move

Growing in the endangered NASA dedicated classroom is the hydroponics experiment being conducted jointly with the students from the Ford School and the Highlands Coalition, Inc. The unique setup is constructed with PVC pipe and fertilized with the waste products from a fish tank. I don't know all the particulars but I do know there is a patent attorney involved. No matter what, this is a  very positive thing for the community and the students.

The significance of the experiments location is this. When the next hookup with NSA through the DLN occurs, they will be able to see the results of this collaboration between the students and community. This experiment is highly relevant to the work being carried out at the International Space Station. If the DLN was successfully move to the library, my library, the experiment would have to find an alternate home once the NASA room is converted to  regular classroom.

I don't see them following the DLN hookup. Aside from the fact there would be some space issues there, books just don't have an affinity for water. So that would mean choosing between what could be an up and coming international"growth" (I love playing with words)  industry and the ability to place say "five" more behavior students from another neighborhood. Guess which one I would choose? I wonder what logic the school administration uses for their"s?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

History Lessons

Went to the Lynn English-West Lynn game this morning. It was cold. English won 22-12. A Classical graduate from 1975 was wearing a jacket from the class of 1975 screaming "Put me in coach, I'm ready to play". Two old classmates renewed their friendship once again like they have every year since they graduated twenty years ago

This rivalry has been going on for 99 years.  It represents a tradition and proof that all learning doesn't occur in the classroom and can't be measured on any standardized test. We learn most about life from living it and experiencing the relationships that develop between people and things through history. They don't have a category for these things on the MCAS. It just proves there is a difference between education and learning.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's A Numbers Game

It has been fun poking fun at Marshall's mistakes in claiming my son has been attending this past grading period but it does beg more serious questions. Data? What kind of arithmetical manipulations could have been performed to help shape their numbers? I mean he has decent MCAS scores, is biracial, and has an IEP. I am not accusing anyone of anything but I do wonder if his presence on their attendance rolls could have skewed whatever numbers.

Hopefully this is an isolated case but I am just wondering.

NASA May Be Grounded

With all that is going wrong with Lynn Public Schools, why are going to take a chance on something that is going right? The Ford School's relationship has earned it national attention, being only one of 49 schools across the nation to earn that affiliation.

However, the school department is willing to risk that in order to expand a behavior classroom for the possibility of adding additional behavior students from other schools to this class at Ford School. I am no saying it is but the fact is that this shuffling of students would help the overall MCAS scores of the schools these kids come from.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can I Get A Refund On My Tickets?

Being from WV, tonight's proposed meting with the mayor had me remembering one of the anthems from the syndicated show "Hee Haw", "Where Oh Where Are You Tonight? Why Did You Leave Me Here All Alone?".

If you hadn't guessed, the mayor was a no show. I never got the memo or in this case e mail that she wasn't coming. I do live next door to Ford where the meeting was so it wasn't as inconvenient as it could have been.

The reason given was that Mayor Kennedy wanted to wait until Monday to  tour Ford to observe the behavior class that is he focus of the school administration's focus. On the face, this is a valid reason and may even reflect a deep sincerity and desire to do the right thing. Let us hope so, but the fact remains she wasn't there.

The Awards Just Keep On Coming!

My son just keeps racking up awards. I told you how he was acknowledged for having perfect attendance at Marshall  over the loudspeaker. Quite a feat since he attends Pickering and never has even wen through the doors at Marshall,

My daughter relayed that fact to Dr. Cowdell that same day. Today my daughter came home with my son's perfect attendance certificate from Marshall signed by that same Dr. Cowdell. I am so proud.

Education By The Numbers

Sitting from behind my desk in the library, I have seen a mini-parade of LSC committee members (Vinnie Spirito, Maria Carrasco, and the latest, Rick Starbard). It is hard for me to believe but they didn't come to see me.

You see next to me in the library is a behavior class. Not at first would seem an ideal placement for that particular class. However, it has worked. In fact, it has been a good place especially considering the cramped quarters of the classroom. The teacher, Coach K. has masterfully used the library as a reward for good behavior and for an occasional change of environment that is so effective when dealing with that population.

Now enter the infinite wisdom of the scholars in the ivory tower also known as the administration building, they want to play a little shell game so they can potentially stuff more behavior kids from other schools into Ford. The logic of this latest attempt at micromanagement blows my mind but does not surprise me.

Because Ford has relatively higher MCAS scores it is better able to absorb the typically lower  MCAS scores that come along with these behavior students. This also has the added benefit of removing those same scores from the roster of those lower scoring schools thus inflating their overall results. Sounds like a plan to me.

As in any battle there are unintended (or so they would have us believe) victims of friendly fire. The first of these victims would be the Ford School's NASA program. In order to make room for a class is being planned to occupy the room dedicated for NASA. In that room the DLN hookup is placed along with the tables needed for practical experiments. The DLN hookup would then be placed in the library, my library, thereby putting the whole NASA affiliation in jeopardy. This affiliation is a prestigious distinction and should be trumpeted not vandalized.

There is also some class size issues at work here too. Still there is truth to the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I don't have all the details, I'm just a volunteer librarian. There is a meeting tonight with the mayor. Members of the LSC, Dr. Latham, and members of the Highlands Coalition. Let's see who shows up.

Take One For The Team

I know when I was going to school I would have been very upset if someone would have told me I had to wear a uniform. This is America, land f the free and the right to bare arms.

Now as an older wiser parent (my kids might not agree on both points) I can see the logic. Especially since it's a different world now. Of course, parents always say that. Uniforms take away a lot of the economic issues where kids don't have to compete with the latest fashions. They do represent a seriousness in your approach to your education.

LSC member Maria Carrasco brought up this issue to the full committee. She put forth numerous accounts of the success of uniforms in other cities. Vinnie Spirito,, both an LSC member and former principal, testified to past successes in his schools.

Uniforms have been tried before in Lynn. LSC member Rick Starbard told of old English polo shirts hanging in his daughter's closet. There was then and there is now the issue of whether or not  LPS can mandate uniforms. Attorney Mihos thought that the school system couldn't a few years ago but was going to look into it to see if the statues had changed.

Various suggestions were offered like"everyone in a certain activity" were offered as a way to circumvent any legal restrictions. Attorney Mihos held his position that he didn't think the school department had the authority to mandate the wearing of uniforms bu he would do further research to be sure of his opinion.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bullies Beware

In response to the state's demand that our schools pay serious attention to bullying, every school system was mandated to develop a Bullying Intervention Plan. The plan will be featured on the Lynn Public School's website to allow for public comment from Nov. 19th to Dec. 7th.

A lot of the credit for developing Lynn's plan goes to Dennis Thompson. From what I have learned from attending these recent LSC meetings is that we are still feeling our way on this and we are kinda waiting to get direction from the courts.

In the meantime, document, document, document.

Park It Right Here

A casualty of the parking war was my sanity when I think how much time and effort ( = money) was put into debating this issue. The only real question was the answer to the question, "Who had the right to make the decision?".

In the recent past when Bennett St. was used as the Ford Annex. Crystal Foods leased a little portion of the parking lot which they had fenced off and used for parking. In return they paid the $1000 a year in taxes for the property taxes. Good deal for us and it saved them the hassle of finding the change to feed the meters.

Crystal Foods was bought out by Seacrest and they want to continue the arrangement. Seems like a no brainer.

No brains is the operative phrase. LSC member Donna Coppola raises her concern that since the LSC already paid $29,000 (that's right 29 with a K) for a study to determine if the Bennett St. location was a suitable place for the relocation of the school department offices and if that happened would there be adequate parking.

She was assured that there was going to be enough parking. Both Dr. Latham and Mayor Kennedy said that they had physically walked over the land. The lease was to be worded in such a way that if the LSC ever needed use of the land then the leased land would revert back to the committee. Just think, if we all could be lawyers life would be so simple.

What I want to know, "Who thought it was a good idea to spend that amount of money on such a study?" I know it is a serious move and does require some serious thought. But there are some pretty educated people running the school department who probably could have analyzed the situation and not had to rely on outside brain power to come up with what should have been a foregone conclusion.

The $29,000 could have been used to buy library books.

Do You Reap What You Sow?

With all the talk about rats and fences we have lost what is important about the gardens at Ingalls and Ford. I was looking over an Indian Proverb:
All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.
Maybe if everyone reads that advice and reflects on the wisdom  inherent in it, then maybe there won't be so much animosity and hatred. I know it's probably wishful thinking but I want you to ask yourself what you are planting.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Power Of Words

As I survey the books in the library at Ford I notice what seems to be a pretty nice selection of poetry books. Shel Silverstein has probably been most popular among the students this year. He is a great author.

I can't say that I was interested in poetry when I was in elementary school. I though that stuff was just too hard to understand or outright silly. Give me biographies of sports stars. After all I was sure I was going to be a professional baseball player.

Then life got in the way of my dreams and I discovered while I was good, I just wasn't that good. Especially when you add in all of the injuries I had along the way. Some minor, some not so minor.

Later in life I discovered the purpose and power of poetry.Poetry gives one a chance to exercise language, paint a picture with words, or create a song with words.  The art of persuasion owes its lifeblood to the syntax of the syllable.

I wish that I had experienced the beauty of the written word at such a young age. That is why I fought (unsuccessfully) for the funding of the libraries with real certified librarians. My commitment to serve as a volunteer librarian is an attempt hold a flashlight to illuminate the way for our kids until the school department flips on the overhead lights by restoring funding and I can go back to being a parent.

A Classic Strategy For The Rams

I want to take a break a minute from all the rat, garden, and parking chatter to talk about something else. Something that kind of slid under the radar at the LSC meeting. That something was about the continuing of the accreditation of Classical High School by the NEASC.

Am I missing something or is this a big deal? If I understand this problem correctly, a future graduating class may receive somewhat worthless diplomas. Dr. Latham declined to go into further specifics, preferring to wait to hear more about what they are going to demand we comply with. She said she hoped they would be understanding since things are tight fiscally.

Tight, whoa! What happened to all the grant money? I know that there are strings to all that "free" money but now we are all tied up with the bonds of ignorance. Anyway, it seems to me that the strategy is to do bad so we can get more grant money.

Someone please educate me on this.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dismantling Our Future

I got notice through the Highlands Coalition that there is a movement by the school department to cripple (And I know a thing or two about being crippled - sorry that was a politically insensitive remark but it was kind of funny).

The plan as I understand would take the DLN hookup out of the special classroom and place it in the library so the NASA classes could happen in there. Wait a minute, the library is my turf. I've spent a half day in there every day so that these kids can have access to library books.

I volunteer and I am not a paid employee so I guess it's not really MY library but I do feel kind of territorial. It's not me they are trying to trespass on anyway, it is the rights of the students to have the best education available. There are only 49 NASA schools in the country and Ford is one of them. We all should be proud of this and no be putting further blemishes on our educational sanity.

Here's where the Highlands piece comes in. Also planned is some other rearrangement of' our aqua phonics lab. There are plenty of progressive and innovative things going on here. Our kid's, our planet's future is at stake here. Why should we sacrifice both for by some accounts is a personal vendetta against Ford School.

First the agreement for the Innovative School that ended up going to a former Ford school vice-principal in Revere,then the closing of the Annex and the killing of every K-8 proposal. I know I'm leaving something out but like I said I am not a school employee and I don't have the security clearance to view top secret documents.

So from the e mail I got I guess there is a meeting with the mayor and school committee people will be invited. On the invitation list were the superintendent and her deputy. I hope everybody shows this Tue. night at 6 pm. I know I'll be there with bells on. Since I am from WV, it'll probably be a cow bell.

And The Award Goes To....

I am so proud. My kids both got their report cards today, nothing less than a B+. More than that my daughter told me that both her and my son were recognized for perfect attendance at Marshall, no tardies, no absences.

My chest was about to explode when my daughter reminded me that her brother goes to Pickering and never had one hour of class at Marshall. Why does she have to be a details person?

Obviously somebody in the administration isn't. It doesn't make me to comfortable thinking these people are planning our education curriculum.

Our Waste Is Getting Better Management, There's Hope For Our Budget

Despite all the attention the rats and the garden got, there were other things discussed at the Nov. 17th meeting. Since I have been attending the meetings of the LSC I don't remember seeing a printed agenda for a (building & grounds) subcommittee meeting. I don't know whether to thank the garden people or the rat people.

In a related story, the LSC chose to go with another vendor for waste removal. Their lease with North Side was up (We had been paying month to month since it ended). If the lease had been renewed with them it would have been for a three year term.

In what seems like a no brainier, it was decided to go with Waste Management, the city's vendor. The Lynn School Department will be able to buy into the city's lease and get a $61,000 savings. I believe the credit goes to Kevin McHugh, the finance officer for this discovery.n

Hopefully with this added savings we can buy some textbooks for a certain special ed. class in a certain school.

Rats Are Still Raining Down!

Yesterday LSW got the most hits ever. Yea! I send the mayor, the superintendent, and the Secretary to the School Committee copies when I think that what I write rises to the level of what I think, as a concerned parent warrants their attention

Such was the case yesterday when my daughter discovered a dead rat on the lawn at Marshall. I got a little enjoyment poking fun at some of decisions about how to handle the rodent problem at Ingalls School's garden.  To my surprise my daughter saw the same dead rat in the same location this morning.

Am I wrong or should someone from the school should have went out in the yard and picked it up? Maybe this was another message from the anti-garden people.

A Path To Tomorrow

Taking a momentary breather from all of the depressing things that are happening in our schools, I would like to talk a little about one of the positives going on right now in the city of Lynn right now.

My kids aree ambassadors from Ford to the Public Policy Institute at North Shore Community College's Lynn Youth Leadership Initiative. Students from Marshall, English join other students from other middle and high schools as well as various community organizations like the YMCA and Girls Inc. to gain experience in civic and governance processes.

Besides gaining knowledge and experience, the participants also get a little stipend. How cool is that?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maybe The Lights Will Keep The Rats Away

The letter to the editor in today's Item exposing the charter school funding  was very illuminating. I am glad some people are seeing the charter school financing for what it is.

A Scene From Out Of The "Godfather".

Beware the people of Lynn, we are in the middle of a mob war. Fresh off their victory at the LSC meeting last night in making the city of Lynn agree to spend money on ineffective detergents, the anti-garden gang sent a message by dumping a dead rat on Marshall's lawn..

My daughter was traumatized by this sighting. Maybe it wasn't gang related. It surely wasn't garden related. Still since the mayor has set a precedent by bowing to irrational bullies, I am going to demand that the city build a fence all around Marshall to prevent future invasions. While they are at it, they should build a fenced walkway all the way from my house to Marshall.

Sorry to waste any more time on this issue, but it is not about the rats. It's about the money. Where is it coming from and why it goes where it goes.

It's Raining Rodents!

Just a quick note this morning before I go to the library.  It seems that gardens aren't the only place rats frequent. My daughter as she was going to Marshall Middle School this morning she found a dead rat on the front lawn. I have pictures.

It seems that the garden is not the only place with a rodent problem. I'll talk later about the lease that was renewed again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Show Me The Money Before The Turkey Or Anything Else Gets Stuffed

It's almost Thanksgiving. I really want to be grateful for all the grant money that flowed into the Lynn Public Schools, just after the budget was finished. We were so blessed.

Unfortunately I have not seen where any of that money has went. Our classrooms are overcrowded, our libraries mostly remain empty, and our mayor publicly trashes the education system she heads while singing the praises of a private school that drains public funds from that same system she heads. I have always had the utmost respect for Mayor Kennedy's pragmatic sense, maybe she is just keeping her options open if this mayor thing doesn't pan out.

The LSC meeting tonight will be hectic. The Food Project people will be there in force. The anti-garden people will be there to press their point. To be fair and balanced, the gangs need to show up to give their perspective.

I hope someone who sits in front of a microphone realizes the real reason we all should be there and demands some fiscal accountability for the education of our kids.

I'll be there if anyone wants to talk.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No One Loves Me, I Think I'll Eat The Worms From The Groundbreaking

Everyone is all fired up about rats and parking spaces for food trucks, KIPP just slid in there and broke ground under the smoke screen of less important issues.

You think that since I have been blogging since July pretty heavy on education issue in the city and I am Secretary of the Highlands Coalition, Inc. that I would have gotten an invitation to the ceremony, With my cane, I take quite a dashing photo. At least that's what my mom says.

Maybe I wasn't invited because no one had my phone number. Well Mayor Kennedy should have it but if she lost it, I'm sure she had my e mail address from the scores of emails I've sent her just like the copy of this blog posting I am sending her.

Okay, maybe it was because I have come out publicly against charter schools. Well like I said in an earlier post, I do have a history of changing my mind, reference the four marriages.

I would change my views if  my concerns were addressed and an open an honest debate could show me the error of my ways. My concerns are two-fold.Mainly I don't like the funding mechanism. The public coffers are raped for the benefit of the private backers or investors. We are given the illusion of random selection and equal opportunity. I just want to remind everyone of a quote from George Orwell's "Animal Farm" -"We all are created equal, just some are more equal than others".

Less of a concern is the length of individual class time. Kids just don't have that long of an attention span. No one does. That is why we have music videos and not music documentaries.

My feelings are hurt no one asked me to the dance, but some one could hum me a tune.

Why Do We Let The Rats Continue To Run Our Educational Agenda?

This issue just will not die. If you want to move the farm at Ingalls someone better tell the rats. Move the vegetables and the rats will stay there. No one wins but our children lose. Build the fence. Move on.

No Matter What, The Rats Win

Let's get back ro the business of education. That's where our focus should be. Because of yesterday's letter to the editor in the Item our vision has gotten blurry again. Compromise and move on.

Give Ingalls lights, fences and surveillance cameras and let Seacrest park their trucks but make them agree to do something with the kids at LVTI. Let's get back to work on education.

Monday, November 15, 2010

If You Can't Stand The Heat

Help me out here. Maybe I am not thinking too clear because I spent a couple hours in a sweat box that used  to be the Ford School library. Being a volunteer, I am not privy to the operations manual, but I do hear things in the hall in between gasps for breaths.

Coming to my rescue was a teacher who turned on a big fan,one of those big tall ones like they have in old hospitals. This was after the janitor opened up the windows. One of the things I heard was it was 110 degrees. I am sure it wasn't that hot but thee heat probably made them hallucinate too.

For some reason they are having trouble regulating the heat and don't seem to have ready access to the thermostat. Like I said, I don't have all the details but with the growing cost of heat and the shrinking budget, someone should.

The Price We Pay

Our superintendent wants to be thrifty with all that money we got or are getting from the state and the feds "Race To The Top" money. To be honest, it's really hard to discern anything from the outside.

All I know is that the class sizes are too large, indoors is at best questionable environmentally - ie., air quality from mold, and there are classes either without textbooks or outdated ones. All yeah I forgot the libraries.
If elementary schools are lucky enough to have them, they are closed except for thee two Level 4 schools and Ford where I volunteer.

I know all grant money comes with strings and that the "Race To The Top" money can't be used for salaries. Still where is this money going? The holidays are coming and when there over we are not far away from next year's budget battle. How can things get any better in the future if we are not doing anything now?

Oh, I'm sorry we are doing something, we are arguing about rats, gardens, and parking places. I'm sorry, what was I thinking? I don't about you but I am more interested in the education of our kids, not the least of which are my own.

I know the LSC meeting Wed. night will be chocked full of garden supporters and there will be debate about who's right it is to allow Seacrest to park their trucks at Bennett St. Admittedly I have had fun with these two relatively insignificant issues.

I say relatively insignificant because our future is at stake and we need some accountability going forward about where all of this money is going. It's all about our kids.

The Bus Does Not Stop Here Anymore

My son is now walking to school at Pickering. That should save the city between 2 and 20 thousand a year depending on who you ask. I tend to put more faith in the lower figure since it came from the transportation dept. and not some councilman looking for political gain. Either way I'm not getting a check.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rat Reversal

I have heard that the rats have lost an ally. I have been told that Councilman Trahant has seen the light (or counted the votes) and no longer believes the garden at Ingalls is causing the rat problem. I really don't know, he didn't call me up to tell me. All I know is that the Food Project people are gearing up for Wed. night;s meeting and every time I mention rats I get mad hits on my blog.

So maybe if I say them three times fast the traffic will blow up the server. RATS,RATS,RATS.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

An Age Old Problem

Last month at the LSC meeting there was talk of raising the maximum age for School Admission. At issue is the fact that we are getting more and more new students high school age who don't know English, There is just not enough time for them to become fluent enough in English before they graduate.

It is easy to take a conservative hard line. This is America, it's not our problem if they can't speak English. It's not our problem if they can't meet our standards. Love it or Leave It.

I don't know about you but I live in the real world. We have to live with the consequences of our decisions. Education does not have age limits. We need solutions not rhetoric. After all, there are only so many fast food jobs. Being uneducated makes one ripe for exploitation.

Working Vacations In The Middle Of The Year

The LSC was happy at the last meeting to get a chance to approve school field trips before they actually happened. This has been the exception and not the rule. The LSC turned into a travel agency for a night.

First on the itinerary was a Drill Competition for the English High MCJROTC in Union, NJ. This is coming up on Nov. 19-20. They should get a medal for going to Jersey. I just hope they don't come back fist pumping.

English High Drill Team invades a different place in Jersey Feb. 18-19. Their willingness to go to these places explains why they have been national qualifiers for eight years. We should have our own reality TV show.

The las field trip approved brought groans of envy from the LSC. It was a senior class field trip by the LVTI seniors at the Honors Haven Resort in Ellenville, NY on Feb. 21-23,2011. There are some seminars, focus groups and the like on the agenda but socialization is up there on the priority list. Do you remember your senior year? Hey, at least it's not in Jersey.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Comedy Night At The LSC

The next meeting of the LSC will showcase a ironic battle of the rats. In one corner we have tomato tossing, lettuce eating rodents of the Ingalls School garden trying to remain undefeated by having their lease renewed versus the Lynn City Council and the Seacrest boys at Bennett Street looking to sneak in a new place to park.

It should be quite the night. Really I can't make this stuff up!

My Future So Bright, I Think I Need Shades, Not Books

You can start by throwing he book at them, the textbook. I hear there are  some classes without ELA texts. How do we expect teachers to do their jobs without all the necessary tools. More than that, what can you hope for the unfortunate students?

I know, the plan must be to intentionally lower the MCAS score so we can get more money from the state and the feds. That way we can justify more specialists and consultants. I mean the  kids will have to suffer a little bit but they have their whole lives to get over it. Look at the bright side,oh yeah, there is no bright side.

Before You Sign On The Dotted Line

Someone please educate me. I have made it clear I am not in favor of charter schools. I have a lot of reasons that I'll go into later  if anyone cares. But, I could be wrong. After ll, I'm in my fourth marriage so I have a track record of being wrong.

If charter schools are so great and they have the best interest of the students in mind, why doesn't KIPP jump at the chance to locate at the Bennett St. location? I mean they could be up and running in no time. Why didn't the city make a more attractive offer, any offer? Our elected officials are supposed to be looking out for us, right?

Are they looking out to profit our students or themselves? Like they say on TV - "You Be The Judge."

The Rats Are The First Ones To Flee The Ship!

With all the talk of rats and parking spaces, you can hardly see the state of education in Lynn through all the smoky haze of the back rooms. Not only is the vision of where we are going educationally, you have a hard time seeing the kids.

Currently there are 5 audits by the Dept. of Education going on at the schools around town. At the last LSC meeting it was assured these are just standard information collecting audits but with about as many civil lawsuits going on, can we be sure?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Are There Rats In City Hall?

Whenever a person is sick, they take medicine. That is what the doctor orders, so we do it. Education is the medicine for all our economy's ills. No one pays you for being dumb.

Consequently it boggles my mind why our local politicians can't see the forest for the trees. As evidence of their continuing vision problem I offer up this latest story:

I personally have sat in on a meeting last spring where Mayor Kennedy shared her vision for he school department's  administration's offices to be under one roof. The Bennett St. location was to be that roof. Currently the special education department is across town, out from the direct supervision of Dr. Latham. I am not saying she is unaware of what the special ed, people are up to but they are not across the hall

I have heard rumors that Dr. Latham is resistant to the relocation. Now they taught me in school not to put much store in rumors. The fact remains though, I've seen no U-haul trucks yet and Dr. Latham still gets her mail at the same place. Who is boss here?

This vision was the reason given why the Bennett St. location why the city was not a viable place for the placement of the KIPP School. Instead KIPP is allowed to build on possibly the most prime piece of real estate in the city. Maybe they wouldn't have wanted the Bennett St. site but an attractive package could have been put together.

Enter Lynn City Councilman Phelan and Seacrest, Foods. Now the rats in Lynn may have the opportunity to feast on gourmet foods. I guess that will solve the problems at the Ingalls garden. Why would rats want to eat vegetables when they can eat fancy food?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Aiming For The Wrong Target

Some of Lynn's  middle school students were fortunate enough to hear Louis Gossett, Jr.'s inspiring and educational lecture yesterday. It seems like there is nothing bad to say about this.

Mr. Gossett's sincerity is beyond reproach. The problem that I have is that we didn't get the maximum benefit out of this event. The target audience of middle school kids makes for good copy and better photo ops but unfortunately according to most research the majority of a kids personality and values are set by age 12.

Does that mean yesterday's program was a waste of time? Of course not. I am just saying that it should have been set up to have the kids it could have helped the most in the audience.

Elementary kids probably wouldn't have been much more ignorant about Mr. Gossett's incredible achievements than middle school children. I still remember his line from "An Officer And A Gentlemen", "Texas, The Only thing they raise in Texas is steers and ...".

I am sure he would remind us all that is an example of how not to act.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Can I Have Your Autograph?

My son is joining some TV news program at Pickering. I don't know much about it YET but I promise you I will, Anyway he is excited about it.

This sounds like a great thing. It will give the kids a chance to be a mini-celebrity. It Something should be in every middle school.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Drewiez Students Learn To Build A Better Mouse Trap

Volunteer engineers from GE help to make science more interesting by helping
 the kids gain some hands on experience. It's always better when you can see with your hands.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Last Rat Story - For A While

At the Buildings and Grounds subcommittee meeting that took place before the regular LSC meeting, there was so much testimony bout the rats that time constraints forced the normal open-mike period scheduled before the beginning of the meeting had to be cancelled.

Each side was given opportunity to have representatives appear before the committee to try and convince the committee to follow their line of reasoning. The magic of the Internet gives everyone the confidence to advocate as a self-proclaimed expert.

The anti-garden crowd trotted out heavy hitters, Councilmen Trahant and Cyr who expressed deep regret at now having reached the conclusion that even though they had initially supported the garden now they felt it had to go. I wonder since they were now so convinced it was the main source of the rat problem why did they ever support it in the first place. Didn't they do any research on rats and gardens before? I am sure their change of heart had more to do with phone calls than science.

Another neighbor gave a long winded soliloquy about the destructive activity of the local rat population. While it was short on actual scientific substance it did have a disturbing visual, a description of little pink rat babies - nasty.

The Food Project had their people testify too, but in the interest of wrapping the meeting up, one of the alumni who had actually worked in the garden didn't get to testify. Of course this led to claims from some of The Food Project crowd that they weren't given equal time. I don't know of any official count but I would say that they had the largest crowd.

Once the Buildings and Grounds subcommittee meeting was over most of the crowd went out in the hall to wait for the regular meeting. Being the politician that she is, Mayor Kennedy plunged into the crowd and came out with a compromise. The alumnus would be allowed to have his say before
the regular meeting

So, he did

Keeping A Head Of The Game

A big discussion on concussions as it relates to sports last Thur. night in the Athletic subcommittee held before the regular LSC meeting. The MIAA regs were read as they pertain to concussions. Basically if you lose consciousness you are banned from any activity until you have a doctor's clearance to play.

Every year the football helmets are sent back to the manufacturer for reconditioning. Usually about ten helmets are not returned because they are not able to meet the specs.

Speaking from personal experience, you can never be too cautious with a head injury. Small injuries can have big consequences. Your life can be altered in so many ways.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rental Fees - Need To RegulateThe Irregularities

The rats in Lynn get to use the school facilities for free but everybody else has to rent the facilities. LSC member Donna Coppola was concerned because she had reports of some out of town groups getting a cheaper rate than our own local groups.

As it turned out this was only a one time mistake blamed on the overwhelming task of managing the administration of the rental schedule. In the past the job had a regular full time position to handle the job. Because of budget cuts the task has been shifted to a part time position to a person already with other duties.

To make matters worse there is no set standards to help insure that everything always remains the same. According to LSC Secretary Tom Iaribbino, in the past groups had just been charged enough to cover the janitors salary. Lately, a charge to cover the gas and electricity have been added.

Because we live in a litigious society, LSC member John Ford asked if there was some assurance that groups had adequate liability coverage. He was assured that the present online scheduling system prompts the user to provide proof of liability coverage.

Rick Starbard echoed the rest of the LSC's call for a set standard for all rental fees. It was agreed that one would be produced. We await further developments.

If Rats Could Read

The rats have been very, very good to me. LSW has been getting a lot of hits lately and the traffic can't all be from my mother.

One commenter to my blog has even given me undeserved credit for having contributed for Highlights magazine. I just wish he wouldn't lavish so much praise on me and instead put forth some of his accomplishments.

If the rats could read some of the garbage he and some of the misinformed readers of the Item spew out they would do a little rat dance and celebrate. Closing down the garden would guarantee  a new open place to serve as a depository for all kinds of new trash, providing an excellent dining atmosphere. The rats will have to wait in line to get a seat.

Maybe Councilmen Trahant and Cyr can get new jobs as waiters.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Garden of Verses Or Was That Curses

Now a story about Lynn Public Schools' other garden, the rat-free one at Ford. David Gass, co-chair of The Highlands Coalition, Inc., was asked to appear before the LSC.

Gass was about to testify about the plan for the construction of a greenhouse at the garden. It seemed to me Gass was about to describe a major project with plastic everywhere. After hearing this LSC member Donna Coppola motioned that the matter be tabled until Dr. Crane was present.

I am sure David was disappointed about the delay in the decision but to be honest he overcomplicated the production. In fact the greenhouse appears to me that this proposed greenhouse is not much more than a series of umbrellas.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors Or They Want Us To Believe

One of the proposals put forth by Mayor Kennedy to help alleviate the rat problem is the construction of a fence. After all, they don't have a rat problem at Ford and they have a fence. The fence they have at Ford is a wrought iron fence with spaces in between bars that would prevent only the fattest, most overweight rats.

Besides wasting the taxpayer's money, the fence not only would provide Mayor Kennedy some political cover it would allow Councilmen Cyr and Trahant to play both sides of  it, appeasing a wider range of their constituents.

Both councilmen are on record as having supported it in the past but now reluctantly, coming to the conclusion that it must be closed down. People should be allowed to change their opinions, even elected officials.

However are we to believe that these councilmen who portrayed themselves as champions of these poor homeowners who are victims of this vermin onslaught did not know that even if they could have forced a vote to end the lease that night he garden would have continued to exist for 90 more days. In 90 days there will probably be two feet of snow on the ground and the rat problem solved.

By then, a "new fence to nowhere" might have been constructed and Councilmen Trahant and Cyr could stand on both sides of it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Athletics To Adopt Six Day Schedule

Well it's time to take a break from the rat story. It's not from lack of bait, it's just there was so much other important info that was covered at the LSC meeting.

One of those items was that there will no longer be any athletic activities scheduled on Sunday. It was the unanimous belief that we adhere to a six day schedule. LSC member Rick Starbard pointed out the body needs a day of rest to recover. John Ford agreed but pointed out the need to grandfather in previously scheduled events.

The final policy also allowed for the exception of when weather makes it necessary to add the day to schedule he event. This seems to be a rare exception and not the rule.

It was good to write about something other than rats. I admit, it was creeping me out.

Rats Can Be Model Citizens

We all could learn something from the supposed rats at Ingalls. According to self-proclaimed "gang-expert" and neighbor, Marguerite Pueleo these rats are willing to share their turf with "Bloods", "Crips", and other rival gangs.

I don't profess to have Ms. Pueleo's expertise on identifying patterns of gang behavior, after all I am just a poor old country boy from WV but I didn't know such rivals could peacefully co-exist with such harmony in one place. These rats sure are giving us an education. Thanks to Ms. Pueleo for pointing this out for us.