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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year In Review At The Watch

Well really since I didn't start this blog until July if you want to get technical, I should call this post "Half-Year In Review". Nonetheless it has been pretty eventful so far. I am sure I won't be able to sum it up in just one post after all I do tend to go on and on and since I am getting more and more gray hairs, my memory fails me sometimes.

My big issue starting off was my failing attempt to save the elementary school libraries from the cold, impersonal budget ax. Since I was unable to convince those that hold the purse strings about just how vital the libraries were, I felt obligated to do my part to at least keep one open. This landed me a volunteer position at Ford School. There was no pay but many rewards.

Then there was the "mold" problem at one of the classrooms at Ford. I had a couple posts calling attention to the problem and made a few calls, Whether or not I initiated any pressure, the room got fixed enough that the Health Dept. okayed the return of the kids to class. I doubt I played much part in the pressure, I mean nobody reads these blogs.

At about the same time I started hearing about trouble with fights they were having at Marshall. I wrote about it and male teachers were posted at corners leading up to the school to establish some order. I am sure it was just a coincidence but the timing was nice.

Still recovering from a Labor Day fall, I underwent cataract surgery on Sept. 28th. I think there was a big improvement in my writing from that. I mean the typos and misspelled words went way down. Seeing more clearly helped me find my voice.

Then came the rats. They were very good to me. More and more people started nibbling at my blog. Lots of other people came out in support of the Ingalls "Farm" and science once gain ruled over silliness and The Food Project's lease was renewed,

The space shuttle wasn't the only program proposed to be grounded. The classroom at Ford School with a DLL hookup with NASA was threatened with closure. Mayor Kennedy saved the day or at least delayed the move until all of the options can be explored.

A very experienced special education teacher was let go for who really knows what reason at the end of his probationary period. I, of course, don't have any inside information. I am just a parent after all. I wrote a couple posts to highlight what I considered an educational injustice. Nothing came of it. I told you nobody reads these blogs.

Despite my visual improvements, I still have a hard time following all this money flowing through this system. I go to all the meetings but all of these numbers from all these places just confuses me. Maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. Oh well, I'm a "big picture" guy.

We've been promised a detailed accounting of where all this grant money that we received after the budget was finalized. I look forward to it. As a matter of fact, it's my New Year's resolution to carefully examine it and expose any inconsistencies. Maybe then someone will read my blog.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dr. Latham Hears Voices

At the last LSC meeting, I learned still another interesting fact about student involvement. Dr. Latham announced at the Dec. 9th meeting that on the morning of every regularly scheduled LSC session, she has a meeting with student representatives from the high schools.

She mentioned that she was going to run the "uniform idea" by the students at the next meeting to get a sense of their opinion about the proposal. I can guess what their response is going to be. When you reach that age you don't want anyone to tell you what to do about anything. On this matter, Dr. Latham would be playing to the wrong crowd.

On closer inspection, the most important fact is that there actually is a meeting. This actually makes the students feel like they have a voice in how the school system is run and it gives Dr. Latham a chance to have a sounding board for how her policies will be received.

I don't know if Dr. Latham originated this idea or not. It is a good idea and she at least deserves credit for continuing them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Standards For Standard Uniforms

There is no doubt that school uniforms is a volatile subject and convincing arguments can be made on both sides of the discussion. Some  research gives a school uniform policy credit for lessening behavioral problems, particularly in elementary school settings. A loud outcry can be heard from the"freedom of expression" camp.

It has been a few days since the LSC meeting and I do have a hard time reading my notes(you think I type bad, you ought to check out my penmanship). As best as I can recollect, attorney Mihos laid out the following criteria for a successful and legal :uniform policy:

                          1). must be VOLUNTARY
                          2). need some kind of subsidy to defray costs
                          3). ability to OPT-OUT
                          4). need parental involvement/support

I've stated my position. Let the debate begin! better make that, continue.

By the way, Lawrence does it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dress For Sucess

You probably guessed right, this posting is about uniforms. Now that all the recent chatter has died down about uniforms has died down I'll make some comments that hopefully won't be snowed over by an avalanche of emotion. Besides I had my own snow I was shoveling when all the rhetoric was flying.

Education is serious business. It is our kids jobs. Their wages are just paid at a later date. The amount of those wages is dependant on how well they do their job. We associate the worth of their job with the kind of clothes they wear. Lawyers wear suits, doctors wear lab coats, and UPS drivers wear brown.

It is only natural that our kids distinct attire for school. If we want our kids to take education seriously then we must take it seriously. Uniforms would help build a cohesiveness and establish the fact that we are all in this together. Football teams all wear the same jersey.

The concerns about self-expression and individuality are not truly legitimate. Our creativity would be better served if it was channeled into academic pursuits. Individuality should be measured by our achievements.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

True Inclusion

Some times we do something by doing nothing special. By just being friendly, we act more human. A more healthy environment is created whereby everybody benefits. Anyone who is different is scary, not just for our kids, but adults to show their uneasiness. If we concentrate instead on how much more we are alike then we can more easily move forward instead wasting time on the negativity of our differences.

True Inclusion

Dance The Day Away!

There is a slow movement afoot (pardon the pun but it is what I like to do) to incorporate dance into :meat and potatos' academics.

Students in a second grade class in Fort Garrison, IN used interpretative dance to illustrate the photosynthesis process. Putting on such a production stimulates the mind to develop both creativity and critical thinking, An added benefit that dance offers is it is a way to sneak a little physical activity into the curriculum.

Here is a wonderful article about ways different school systems are incorporating this most physical form of art into the classroom:

tp://    (you will have to cut and paste to your browser)

This I what I call Crea-ducation! Hey, I coined a new word, I think. Anyway I've never heard it before so until somebody tells me different, it is MY word!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If Ever I Saw Your Face

I am jealous. Maybe I'm spending too much time in the library.  I'm home today so I got to spend a little more time on the computer. Mary Ellen responded to my blog posting about blogs and kid alerting me to one posted by Lynn Woods School at http://

They have pictures. I mean it doesn't appear to be written by the kids but it is a great way to keep everyone informed about the going's on and a great way to build the kids self esteem. Did I mention it is FREE.

You Have The Right To Remain Unsilent

Wow! I just found out some good stuff. There is a website loaded with information for kids with special needs. With all the laws and regulations it's hard to know all of your rights and just what you are entitled to.

The Special Needs Advocacy Network,, provides info on all the pertinent laws and rights applicable to students in this population. No matter what your political perspective, a little education can be liberating.

Make A New Plan, Stan (OK, It's Not Mine But It Rhymes)

According to a recent article I read, as many as 50% of teachers leave the field within five years. Teachers in urban areas often survive for as little as eighteen months. Unbelievable!

What a waste of money, much of it federal, on educating prospective teachers. We NEED teachers but we NEED a better plan. Sec. of Education, Arnie Duncan has a new plan that is setup akin to the way medical doctors learn their skills.

Honestly I don't know the particulars of this plan so I can't say I wholeheartedly support it. However what I can say is that I like the idea of elevating the amount of seriousness we place on this position. Education can provide the answer to all our problems and it is about time we give it it's due.

Blogs Are For Kids, (But I Like Them Too)

Blogging is not just for educationally frustrated old men any more. There are programs out there where kids write about their everyday educational experiences with thier classroom assignments. This helps complete the learning circuit in a child's mind. It is one thing to learn a bunch of facts and it is another to put them to use. It is the completion of a process.

The fact that everyone in the world can potentially read something you wrote can be and energize lesson plans. This is "HOW" the Internet could and should work for us. For moexhilarating re information, read this article:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Someone Answer The Call

One of my readers tested the police tip line with a question. Guess this means they want us to police our own problems unless it is an immediate crisis. I wonder who said that before. We need to step up to the plate and develop our own school text line.

Hi - some are wondering if this tip line can be (or is being used) to be proactive with school and bully issues. Are you promoting this tip line at the schools?

The tip line can be used to assist with any issue. However, if there are issues in schools, it would probably be best to immediately bring the problem to the attention of a school administrator, or to contact the police directly

From My Bully Pulpit

A reader of LSW informed me that Lynn Police already has a tip line for text and I assume pics at tip411 or 847411 Tips can also be left on the police website.. This is great news. 

However, we should expand this program and promote it big in the schools targeted specifically at "bullying". I would guess that the current "tip" line is geared toward "run of the mill" crimes and does not highlight any particular crime. Their job is to insure our overall safety.

The school has been given the mandate to protect our students from bullying and other school related crimes. I would guess the police dept. would be all to happy to cooperate but somebody needs to make the overture.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How Do You Say Bully In Text Speak?

Brockton has a tip line that is text enabled to give students a greater since of anonymity. Officials figure if they get information sooner they are  able to take more proactive action and maybe even prevent some bullying even before it develops.

he text line can yield even greater dividends because people can report other bad behavior monitored on Facebook, You-tube, and other social media. Incidents of vandalism can be more easily reported as well.

Learning about this program begs the question, :Why aren't we doing something like this?". We live in a new world and technology can be our friend. This makes sense to me because it could get many more people involved in the solution instead of spending lots of money identifying the problem. A problem that we already knew about.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Teachers Needed For Arnie's Army

Everybody says our classes are to have top notch education system. Everybody but the Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, that is. He was recently speaking to the American Enterprise Institute about the realities of modern education in light of falling revenues and the need to change our perspectives.

A big drain on most school budgets is transportation cost. He hopes that administrators will rethink bus routes and closing down under enrolled schools instead of cutting direct services to students. He points out that while everybody is claiming to be so concerned with class size,US classes are actually smaller than many other countries, countries who's students are outscoring ours. The average class size in the US is 25 while in Japan and South Korea the average class size is in the mid-thirties.

Duncan feels it would be better to have an excellent teacher teaching a larger class than an "average" teacher in a class of 22. He thinks we ought to look at larger salaries say $80,000 to $120,000 for top-notch teachers. This approach would reward excellence and would make the most of dwindling resources.

Wow, what an "American" concept.

Friday, December 17, 2010

That's The Spirit, Rick!

LSC member Rick Starbard, his wife who works at Sisson Elementary School and daughter Jessica donated and hosted an ice cream party for the class that donated the most toys to Toy's for Tot's.

The school collected over 450 toys that were loaded up on a firetruck and transported to the Marines where they will be distributed through their Toys for Tots campaign. Rick's wife did all the accounting for the contest displaying everyone's progress on a big chart. Rick's daughter Jessica, on her break from college, ran from room to room serving up the sundaes ordered from Treadwells.

The winning class brought in over 50 toys and one class only had 13 students but they brought over 30 toys so they were awarded sundaes as well. What was Rick doing all of these festivities? Aside from eating, you mean. He got to read the journals of these wonderful students who learned a valuable lesson about our responsibility to help those less fortunate than us.

Sadly no one from the Item, TV, or radio station was there to capture this outpouring of generosity. But you heard it here.

"Education Through Inspiration"

Since I am also Secretary for the Highlands  Coalition, Inc., I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting where I had the pleasure of being introduced to Kimberly K. Smith who is the Executive Director of "Students 4 Students". Her company hopes to turn artistic expression into a better appreciation of one's self and their community.

Students for Students will furnish not only the instructors but the materials as well. What a positive development for the kids in Lynn. The program will start out in the Highlands and build on that success to branch out in other schools and neighborhoods.

You can go to their website to learn more info about this organization. I know I am excited to learn more.                       

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Unarmed For Battle?

What's up with all the violence in school now? There is plenty of rhetoric about bullying but what is actually happening? We have established a policy, there are procedures to follow and lots of documentation to follow to show us what we already know. It's a power play and somebody is going to be on the losing end. I think the current terminology for that person is "target".

Unfortunately we place our teachers and other school personnel in the middle with a big bulls eye on their back. Unfortunately that's there job. But we can and must do something about it. There are physical and verbal techniques for deescalating every situation. Everyone that has student contact needs to be trained in these techniques, not just a few coordinators and the like if we hope to establish security and stability throughout our school system. And the system has to back them up with training in both preventative measures and passive restraint.

Maybe this is already happening and I don't know. I am only a parent who volunteers in the library in our community elementary school. If anyone has different information, please tell me and ease my concern.

Crying History

It is painfully true that my bank account is learning what the meaning of volunteer is. However I have been reimbursed in other intangible, priceless ways. The joy of watching his new found treasure discovered tucked away on some dusty library shelf then there is the thrill of mining for gold, information plucked from some old book hid on the reference shelves.

That was the case this morning. After taking a break from checking in some books a class just returned, I was browsing through the pages of an old history book.. It was probably no accident. The time was right.

The book was "History Stories of Lynn", a book re-written  in 1979, fifty years after the first copy was written. There was a hope expressed that it would be re-written again in 2029. The realization that history matters were prevalent throughout the book.

Heck I found out an interesting fact personal to me. My first ever job in the summer after my sophomore year in high school back in WV was moving Hills Dept. store into an old vacant Grants Dept. building. The Grant Dept. store chain used to be a national chain that opened its first store in Lynn. Small world.

The book was financed by the LSC and prominent politicians of the day were given proper credit. Someone else was given credit in the introduction. That was Miss Patricia Bucko who spent hours typing the manuscript for the then Deputy Superintendent of Elementary Education,, Mr. George Laubner.

I would guess that was the same Ms. Bucko that Dr. Latham shed tears over the fact of her retirement. Maybe Dr. Latham's tears would have been better spent crying over what Ms. Bucko demonstrated that she learned long ago. History matters.

History tells us who we were, shows us who we are, and who we hope to become. A strong sense of self helps insulate us from external threats to our person. Threats like the ones from bullies who take advantage of our low self-esteem that comes from the lack of education about how special we are. That is worth a sincere river of tears.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let's Keep Our Kids Home(home school, that is)!

A hot topic up for discussion at last Thur. LSC meeting was the placement of behavior classes throughout Lynn Public Schools. Addressing the topic was Ms. Muggeo. I didn't get  to take down her exact title as you now I am a slow writer. No worries, I'll just look to the pre-printed agenda to copy it. Wait, it's not there either.

In fact I have been going to all the LSC meetings lately and I've never heard her name mentioned. I worked extensively with Dr. Latham and Jessica McLaughlin last spring to put together an IEP for my son and her name never came up.

Someone told me that she is a long term employee of the Lynn Public School system, I don't know I didn't call payroll or personnel whoever handles that end of the administration. It seems to me she kind of shot to the top real quick-like. By sudden I don't mean years of service, I'm sure she has the credentials to do whatever she does.

I think she must have got a promotion in-house to be where she is at right now. I am sure it didn't have to be a public one, but an introduction would have been nice. It's never too late but you know what they say, "You only get one chance to make a first impression".

Anyway she said there were 38 to 40 behavior classes in Lynn. Why the range? Doesn't she know exactly how many students we provide service to? She did say that placement in the student's neighborhood school was challenging. I bet that's especially true if you don't know exactly how many classrooms you have.

They try not to move the kids out of their district middle school that way they can maintain some sense of stability. They are usually successful in that regard but in the meantime we are incurring the expense of busing the youngest students to some distant location.

Speaking from personal experience, I can testify about the wisdom of placing  special needs student in his neighborhood school. My son spent five years being bused to Shoemaker and was in a COACH class, spending some time in inclusion. He reached a plateau after two and a half years an then backslide. After one year at his neighborhood school at Ford, he now goes to Pickering where he has all day inclusion and made the Honor Roll. Community is therapy with results.

Marshall Madness

What's going on at Marshall? Remember all the fights I reported hearing about during the first couple weeks of school? I heard a solution they found to that problem was to post male teachers outside at the street corners leading up to the school to help keep order. Did we hire teachers or do we need to employ bouncers?

Then there was Monday when a student was apparently allowed to leave the building seeking protection from bullies, apparently  not satisfied with the help provided there. It's ironic that the man that school is named after was a champion of civil rights can't even protect the most basic rights of their students.

I may be wrong. I often am, so I'm counting on you out there to correct me in on the areas of misinformation. You all are my biggest sources.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bully's Beware?

What's up with bullying?  I listened to Dennis Thompson present Lynn's new bullying policy to sent to the state for final approval. This was after the policy was put on display on the city's website and comments were solicited. In fact we were told Lynn's policy had received praise from the Attorney General's office I think. It may have been somebody else, cause I write slow and I do make mistakes.

Sounds impressive and after all this is a serious area of concern. Remember the suicide, Facebook, and bullying?

Then I hear troubling things that concern me as a parent of a child who goes to Marshall Middle School. First my daughter tells me of incidents of name calling and harassment she has faced. Hopefully I helped her insulate herself from ll the negativity, And  we let her know that she cannot have a Facebook account until she's older.

Facebook is also involved in another troubling story I'm hearing about bullying and Marshall. Right up front let me say, I haven't heard from every side so I don' know what the truth is. I just have a lot of questions, if anybody out there has answers, please help me out.

I heard of an individual who ran out of Marshall yesterday during class time to get away from repeated instances of bullying and ran to Ford school where she felt comfortable with the teachers and staff. The individual gave testimony, the truant officer was called, and reports were filed.

I got to wonder though, "How did we get to this point?" What did they do at Marshall when this student left the building? I've had to go through hoops to sign my daughter out to take my daughter out for a doctor's appointment that very same day yet this student escapes right out from under the nose of the administration. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

Who is in charge? Do we have to have another suicide of a student before someone listens?

TV Blackout At Pickering May Be Lifted Soon Thanks To Mediaseth

The blackout at Pickering Middle School may soon be lifted thanks to the gracious offer of help from one of he readers of Lynn School Watch. Mediaseth from "Lynnhappens" offered to volunteer his assistance to try and solve the problems at Pickering.

I talked to vice-principal, Mr. Ritterhouse to relay Seth's generous offer. Mr. Ritterhouse welcomed the information and said he was going to pass the info to the advisers who are running PTV and have them call Seth directly.

Just so you know Seth, you have some name recognition out there because when I mentioned Lynnhappens he knew  said"Oh, I'll just have them call Seth direct".

Students Get A Handel On Music And History

What a treat! I was lucky enough to be able to get from out from behind my library desk to attend a special assembly at Ford School.

The elementary students were not only exposed to a classic and different type of music, the oratorio, but were given a history lesson as well as one in music appreciation. All of this was carried off with a healthy dose of comedy. You know what they say, "A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down".

The Handel and Haydn Society sent four of its members along with a piano player to give the young  students a priceless performance, entertaining them for about forty-five minutes. One of the quartet dressed in a long gray wig and talked with a German accent transported here from the past to add a little creativity to Handel's "Messiah".

The "H & H Society" has been in Boston for over 150 years and I am thrilled to find out our students got to witness them and to be apart of their history. They will be performing their annual Christmas oratorio at the Boston Music Hall on Sunday Dec. 30.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Television Blackout At Pickering

Confidential sources (I am confident my son told me) relayed to me there is a television blackout at Pickering Middle School. The award winning television company, PTV, suspended broadcasting until after the first of the year due to an audio problem.

The students will be forced to resort to more archaic forms of communication like whispering in the halls. The video component of their current communication will be limited to what the students see through their own eyes. They can use glasses if they have a prescription.

Okay I made up the thing about the award but they do deserve credit for having a video broadcast throughout the school. What a great way to build positive self esteem and become comfortable with modern technology.

John Ford Fails To Score Goal For Lynn Youth Soccer

Mr. Ford clearly seemed disappointed when the rest of the LSC didn't quickly approve the free use of Breed Middle School gym for Lynn Youth Soccer's winter season. In the past a gentlemen's agreement between the two organizations had been sufficent for doing busines. LYS took care of the upkeep of Hood field during the spring, summer, and fall then got the use of Breed's gym for their winter season.

As a parent of two 12 year olds I can tell you that soccer is the cheapest of all the extracurricular activities. Legal ones that is. Anything that harms LYS, harms a lot of our youth.

However with the new rental fee schedule coming into play, it appears that agreement no longer applies. A few of the members of the LSC brought up the discussion and vote about the rental fees at the last meeting. Kevin McHugh added that he is getting all of these bills from the Department of Public Works.

Anyway the mood of the LSC wasn't to charitable. The best deal that Mr. Ford could salvage was allow LYS the use of the building for "free" but that LYS would be responsible for custodial fees. Hmmm, I wonder if LYS is going to start charging landscaping fees. Like I always say, "Are you prepared to live with the consequences of your decision?".

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Call For Help

We were visiting my step daughter this weekend. All of us took a walk to Walgreen's. As our grandson was riding his tricycle through the parking lot at Drewicz School. My wife couldn't help but notice the seemingly abandoned building right in the front yard that I told her used to be the library when Trippy attended there in pre-K.

I say abandoned because there was at least one boarded up window and a couple broken ones. Have I talked yet about the elimination of the librarians. Anyway she was all excited and thought that would be an excellent for kids. She even talked about volunteering and has all these ideas

I told her that I would try and find out what's going or not going on. So I would appreciate any information that anyone has. Maybe it will help get me out of the perpetual doghouse I'm in.

Also, I was thinking if the "Race to The Top" money can't be used for salaries, why couldn't it be used to provide resources to our libraries, all of them - staffed, unstaffed, and the ones staffed by volunteers.

Four million dollars, even a small part of that could buy a lot of books.

Good Learning Is Like Good Poetry

Let me start off by reminding everybody that I never had an education class in my life, in fact I have only had two literature classes, 19th century English poetry and "Bilddungsroman or Novels of Development". My classes were mostly in the sciences with a healthy dose of philosophy added in.

I have read a lot lately and I have lived a lot, starting all my life. From one of my psychology classes I have learned the more areas in your brain you get involved in the learning process, the stronger the memory. Each one of the senses correspond to a different part of the brain. The stronger the memory, the more readily it is to be recalled. That is what makes effective learning.

The same thing can be said about good poetry. It excites your senses. Coleridge is my favorite poet, but Blake is right up there. A good poet paints with words. Life is the canvas.

Our libraries are our galleries of knowledge. In the Lynn Public School system most of our libraries are closed in the schools lucky enough to have them. What does that say about us?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Presents For Our Future

Mayor Kennedy arrived a little over half an hour late for the LSC  meeting Thur. night but her tardiness was forgivable. She was at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. After all we want to tick off Santa Claus. Maybe he will put something under the tree for Lynn schools.

The only question is "Has everybody in the Lynn School Department been good little boys and girls?". I am not going to answer, you can fill in the blanks. It could be coal for Christmas. That wouldn't be all bad. I mean, we could use it to help defray the heating costs.

I'm hoping that the report documenting how the "Race To The Top" money will be spent. Dr. Latham promised it would be available.  We were forewarned that specifically none of the grant money could be used for salaries, that it is to be used for educational infrastructure, professional developmental, and other areas that will yield long term benefits. I am anxious to see some accountability. All I know is that I told both the superintendent and the deputy superintendent in a meeting I had with them early this year that I was no math expert but I know you can shape the numbers to get them to say what you want. Dr. Wary told my wife and me, "That is true, but we never do that".

What was missed by the mayor was a moving performance by four Lynn high school students who gave a beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. I would have liked to give them personal credit but I write slow. Can you imagine the errors I would have made spelling, I mean typing, their names.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Maybe If We Close Our Eyes It'll Go Away

Tears were shed at last night's LSC meeting by the superintendent of schools. Over what? The state of the schools, it did seem like there were quite a few new employees for being a third of the way through the school year. Maybe this is normal, I'm new to the hiring practices of the Lynn School Department.

No, it was because her confidential secretary was retiring after 51 years of service. They weren't all under Dr. Latham, Mrs. Bucko(the retiring employee) has served under several past superintendents. Her past experience had proven invaluable. She must know where all the bodies are buried.

Not only were no tears shed for Coach K, he wasn't even mentioned in all the personnel moves. In fact, no "firings" were mentioned. Maybe not mentioning firings is a policy matter. No wait a minute, two terminations were listed in last month's agenda.

I would guess that since Coach K was a "probationary employee", thus at-will, if Dr. Latham consulted he probably have rendered an opinion that she was not required to have a reason. Just do it, just like in the shoe commercial and Lynn does have a lot of history with shoes.

Shoes are relevant to this story because the rights to the top notch education this man could have provided to his students were trampled on. I don't know if I said this before or not but Coach K taught in Compton before for goodness sakes.

Maybe the school department doesn't have the legal responsibility to disclose their reasons but they have a moral responsibility to inform the parents why they are denying our students the opportunity to benefit from Coach K's vast experience. Our children's education is too important to play all of these "cloak and dagger"games. A dagger that was put into the back of Coach K and into the hearts of our students.

I fully expected to be interviewed or to a least have a conversation with the "Item's" reporter last night.After all when she called me earlier in the week, she said she'd speak to me on Thur. night. Not only did she not approach me, but after I introduced myself to her handing her a flyer for my blog she blew me off. I was one of the last ones to leave the building so the opportunity was there for her to meet up with me.

What's up with this? Hello, my blog had over 2000 hits last month. I am not a "true" journalist but I have something to say and apparently some people are listening This slight calls into question the "Item's" objectivity. When I was first called, the reporter seemed all "hot and bothered" about the story. Appeared to me, her temperature index had cooled.  Maybe it is up to me to find answers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Get Involved But How?

"Parents in Lynn don't want to get involved with their children's education" That seems to be a common mantra. Guess what? I have had over 2000 hits in the past month. No, it's not a typo.  And it's not just my mother clicking on my blog. Seems to me parents do want to get involved. All they want is information.

The question is then do the current powers that be actually want parents to be involved? Let's look at some facts. The Parent Information Center has spawned numerous stories of misinformation and outright hostility. I can speak from personal experience about the lack of respect to parents shown by that office.

Now let's talk about the Parent's Advisory Council. What do they do and who are they? Last year when I was trying to work out a plan for my son, Mayor Kennedy hooked me up with David Ellis, a former city councilman who supposedly heads up the PAC. There was talk of strategies and lawsuits and rights that my son was entitled to. After a lot of uplifting talk, I even provided him with the special ed. records of my daughter, he promised to work to get her services too..

That was the last I heard from him. He had even promised to put me on a couple of committees. He should have my phone number and e mail address, we have exchanged both. He could have lost them both but I have been all over the web lately and my phone is still silent and my e mailbox empty.

Before parents can get involved you have to let them.

What I Like About Charter Schools

I actually wrote this over a week ago but with all the chaos over Coach K I was too busy to  get it out there. Now I just want to clear the deck before the meeting tonight. It should be interesting,

Wait a minute. I have not gone over to the dark side. My major and  unyielding objection to charter schools is the funding mechanism. Using public money to benefit a few already wealthy business men while promoting the illusion that a few economically disadvantaged people would be able to receive a "prestigious" education.

But.....Let's give the devil their due. Illusion or not, you have to respect the seriousness that is brought to the education process. Education is important. It liberates us and provides a path out of poverty, both financial and social. The self-discipline learned will stay with the student a lifetime.

That is enough to almost convince me to jump sides. Almost, I said. The same opportunity for creative solutions to educational approaches exists in the public sector. As I understand them and I'm no expert in these matters, but I think that two possible solutions exist in the public sector, Horace Mann charter schools and Innovation schools.

Revere secured the first "Innovation" school in the state, The principal of that school was Ms. Barbara Kelley, one year removed from a vice-principal position at Ford School. Interesting.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Cost Of Giving The Business

Back to some serious stuff. This morning was a lot calmer in Coach K's class. The kids weren't running around as much. But there were a couple of occasions they were racing through my library(it's not really mine but you know the deal).

Looks like a new teacher was hired and I'm sure some sense of stability helped. At what price? There is still 4 or 5 adults to 8 students(today less than that I think). Is there a plan? I don't really know anything but what I see.

Maybe whoever made the rash, irrational decision to fire Coach K was counting on the assistance from the magic of Harry Potter who's image is painted on the wall in the library. Is that person ready to take the fiscal responsibility for the additional personnel that decision necessitated? The money is the least part of the cost. Still, it's a part

Tis The Season

I want to take a break for a minute from all the recent controversy and remind everybody I am just a parent. My son is performing in the Christmas concert at Pickering Middle School tonight. To have come from where he has been and all he has been through, this is quite an accomplishment.

I don't think I can type any more. My chest is swelling up so much I can't see the keyboard.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It Doesn't Make Cents

Things seemed to calm down a lot in Coach K's old class today. I guess they ought to, there were 5 adults to 8 kids. At least one of the adults was a Behavioral Specialist. It seems like a big expenditure.

Coach K handled that same class with only one aide Both people who served as his regular aide this year were disabled as well. Between them and me, we looked like the walking wounded up there. At least it didn't cost the school department as much money as this fiasco has.

Don't Shoot Me, I'm Just The Librarian!

There is a lot of activity over Coach K's firing. Last night I got phone calls about his termination from the "Item" and Lynn City Councilman Pete Capano.

Both asked the same question, "Why was Coach K" fired. I gave them the same answer, "I don't know, I'm just the VOLUNTEER librarian.

Monday, December 6, 2010

And Justice For All?

I'm getting feedback from the "Item" on my letter about Coach K's firing, promise of an investigation. We will see.

NSCC Leadership Iniative

I'm not all about controversy, but it is more fun. Both of my kids got part of their stipend from the student leadership program at North Shore Community College. They were excited.

My daughter  told me she came up with the name  for the group. It is SLAP - Student Leadership Ambassador Program. Well I guess creativity is hereditary - I get mind from her.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Showdown At The Ford Corral

It was a little past two on a blustery fall day. Barricaded in the principals office was myself, Dr. Crane, David Gass, and LSC member Maria Carrasco. At any minute moving trucks from the school department were possibly arriving at any minute.

At stake was the dismantling of the NASA DSL link and the dismantling of the Highland Coalition aquaponics lab. I can't speak for the others but I was prepared to go to jail in order to stop the destruction. Admittedly my motives were not all altruistic, I mean I haven't worked since March and jail does offer three squares.

We had been in communication with the mayor and she was supposed to be on the way but our nerves were on edge, wondering if she would be on time to provide us with the reinforcements we needed (okay, I'm being a bit dramatic but it makes a good story). Luckily he did arrive in time, back straight from Salem and the Big Box wars. She gave us the news that she had been contact with Dr. Wary, who was in charge of the move and ordered her to halt the move, at least to fully study the move and all its implications and look at other options. The mayor wanted to sit down and discuss this like adults. What a new and novel concept, school officials not acting like children.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed about not being able to go to jail. I mean my court experience has mostly been in front of a probate judge. A criminal trial could have opened up a whole new life for me. I mean, I'm ready for jail. I have a tattoo and everything. My cane would have been perfect for strumming across the bars to make noise.

Oh well, maybe I'll try jaywalking.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Political Persuasions

Because of my strong convictions about what I feel was an unjust and personal attack on a friend who was victimized by what I feel was a personal and political attack. Below is a variation of the letter I am sending  to the governor and various political and educational officials who's e mail addresses I can find.

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this letter to express my outrage that the Special Education teacher, Mr. Karonis was fired from Ford Elementary school undue cause without any concern for the emotional or psychological welfare of the students, not to mention their potential for academic progress.

Since the beginning of the school year I have been serving as the school’s volunteer librarian adjacent to his classroom. During that time I have witnessed a remarkable transformation in the overall behavioral complacency. Teacher - student bonds developed that are impossible to recreate in a timely manner, especially considering this disruption occurred during the holiday season.

“Coach K” as he was respectively and affectionately referred to by his students, co-workers, and me, will be sorely missed and will be nearly impossible to replace with someone of equal caliber. His experience gives him incredible credentials.

My varied experiences have allowed me to have an informed opinion about the educational injustice that occurred. In the past I have taught and served in various roles at an adolescent treatment center for seven years  Elkins Mountain School in Elkins, WV. Also, I worked for fifteen years for the Department of Developmental Services with mentally retarded adults with behavioral issues. However, what substantiates and qualifies my opinion most is that I am the father of a twelve year-old special needs student who was a student last year at Ford School. He has had a very successful year this year transitioning into Pickering Middle School.

Because of my deep convictions I not only wanted to speak up for “Coach K” and offer my testimony to any more specific questions you may have. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to call me. Thank you.

Stanley H. Wotring, Jr.

Now I have a question that maybe someone out there with good math skills could answer the equation: the power of the pen plus the Internet equals what?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Rats Are Back And They Are In Charge!

I learned today that my next door neighbor to the library was terminated. I am in shock. As soon as that wears off I am sure I will be outraged. I have been outraged before but this takes it to a new level.

This is a travesty, a direct blow to the most needy of our students. What could be the reason? I intend to find out. Could it have been because he was not on board with the proposed addition of additional non-neighborhood kids to a proposed expanded class?

I am sure that couldn't have been it. He is an experienced teacher who has often implemented policies that he felt was not in the best interest of the students. Any group of behavior kids are difficult to handle. I know this because I previously taught and worked with this population in a residential facility. But no one knows this better than Coach K. He has taught in Compton in California during the race riots so he was definitely up to the task.

Again from behind my desk in the library at Ford, I have witnessed first-hand the positive evolution of his class of displaced behavioral students. The school administration ought to be studying his class in hopes of emulating it not removing him thus stripping these students the opportunity to transforming into productive citizens.

Shame on you Dr. Latham. I urge everyone who reads this blog to call her, all the school committee members, and the mayor to ask how this latest blow to the Lynn School System could have happened. I am not done writing but I am done for now.

Normally I would be worried about being fired for taking such an outright stand but I don't work for anybody, I just work for what is right and just.

Are Only Our Boards Smart?

Siting from behind my library desk, I have observed yet another problem. Considering we tout the purchase of all these "smart boards" as the next great white hope (excuse me, the boards are white and I thought it kind of ironic to poke fun at the outdated, irrational thinking behind their use). Instead our teachers are enslaved, chained to an overzealous security filter that prevents them from going on the most of the educational websites designed to enliven the educational experience.

I fully understand the need for security when it comes to all of the confidential matter that our school system deals with. I am technologically inept but it seems to me this problem could be solved by using two separate accounts, one for all of the confidential data and one for use in the classroom, each having different security thresholds. Another possibility would be to develop a list of allowable,secure websites that the teachers could use.

Hopefully, I am complaining about nothing and the answers to my concerns have already been addressed. But you know what? The fact that I even have them tells me that at least, the teachers are under trained and some of the educational benefits from that vaunted stimulus money is undermined.

If the questions I am raising make anybody feel uncomfortable then maybe if the real librarians had been funded, I wouldn't have been there to observe these obvious problems. Where would we be? Somebody has to be held accountable.