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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mayor's Medical Scare!

I am deeply concerned that our Honorable Mayor Kennedy is not hearing what she is saying. Madame Mayor is a smart lady, much smarter than me and thats what makes these recent intellectual stumblings all the more troubling. Even if her political sense were "correct" and there were candidates favored she needs to LISTEN to watch she is saying and the corner she is painting herself in a political corner.

Coppola: Kennedy's remark 'offensive'

If the mayor does not side with Coppola, Starbard, and Carrasco she will possibly be looked at being in favor of lowering our standards at a time when we have 5 potential Level 4 schools (2 actual Level 4 and 8 Level 3 - word on the street is Breed,Marshall, and LVTI will "come aboard" this year).  She will in effect be saying, "Credentials don't matter, qualifications don't matter. What does matter is who you know and who your friends are.".

Capano, :GQ" Spirito, and Ford are arguing a position that would allow the hiring of someone who was not only responsible letting two of our schools, Harrington and Connery (GQ's old school), slip into Level 4 status but devised a Turnaround Pan for Connery that was REJECTED.

I know how smart the mayor is, she has even driven me home when she was a RIDE driver and she had an unbelievable command of Nickelodeon's television lineup. How could someone with complete knowledge of "I, Carly's" plot and story line be so naive when it comes to other serious business.

Maybe we should hold a telethon to raise funds for purchase of a hearing AIDE, someone to help her keep her foot out of her mouth.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fashionably Late But Out Of Fashion

Maybe it was just her style, but maybe that's the problem. If it's just a matter of fashion then our most honourable mayor should consult Vinnie "GQ" Spirito for the most current trends.

Maybe it was more about timing. The mayor called ahead to say she had been detained and to go on without her, According to the agenda, the controversial vote on the Deputy Superintendent. should have been held early in the meeting. The fact is that our Honorable mayor should have been able to have the vote taken before she had to take a position.

But the mayor did not count on the vice chair, Patti Capano, allowing he meeting to start five minutes late and then stretching a one minute break after a presentation into several. To this poet it appeared that Ms. Capano was counting on the mayor's support to break a potential deadlock.

Provisions were added to the already approved six-figure position that would have prevented people without experience as a principal or a doctorate level education for being considered for the job. I have heard rumours that a certain person who shall remain "nameless" was being tapped for that job who couldn't live up to those requirements.

Too bad. Our schools are in a shambles and we need highly qualified people to lead us out of failure. The present crop of administrative couldn't even get a Turnaround Plan for Connery approved so they planned to promote someone who helped devise that failing plan?

Again in this humble poet's opinion, when the mayor was forced into taking a stand, she abstained thereby avoiding taking a stand leaving the vote a tie. Back to the drawing board.

You know they say, a tie is like kissing your sister. Even in WV we don't do that UNLESS it's PROM NIGHT!

What Makes A Leader?

Help me out here. I don't understand why some people on the LSC had such trouble with the stipulation that a new Deputy Superintendent should have experience as a Principal, You would think leadership is a vital quality.

What's even more surprising is where the opposition came from. I mean you think Vinnie "GQ"  Spirito, a former principal, would be an ardent supporter of the requirement. But Noooooo! A closer look at his record reminds us that he was shuffled between  three schools, starting at Hood, then Connery, and finally taking the Lynn Woods cruise.

Back when I went to school, mu principal was an ex-Marine with a statue of a Bulldog on his desk and he didn't dress in pastels.

Ford Underwater Behind The Scene

My funny bone needs a break,. My head hurts and I think I pulled a belly muscle. I had a jolly old time at the LSC last night. I need a break from all the frivolity.

So when I heard about this story, I had to jump on it. Today a private limo complete with a chauffeur pulled up to Ford School to pickup 14 fifth graders and 1 third grader, all part of the Astronomy Group, and escort them on an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the New England Aquarium.

This was all done in conjunction with the Harvard, Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics Telescopes, ( The timing of this field trip could not have been timed any better with Science MCAS coming up in a couple of weeks.  Topics discussed were marine habitat, volumes of fish tanks, invertebrates, crustaceans, and even electricity.

Electricity, you ask? Electricity and water make a dangerous mix. Witnessing the the ELECTRIC EEL gave them a first hand demonstration. The students even got to listen in on an audio monitor recording the eel's activity. How cool is that?

I have just one question. Why couldn't they take their favorite volunteer librarian?

Behind Closed Doors

At the end of the meeting last night everybody that had the good seats at the educational buffet table went into EXECUTIVE SESSION to discuss matters that the rest of us can't be privy to. The crowd dispersed leaving only me and my BFF in the audience. We had lots of chairs left to choose from.

After a few minutes Kevin McHugh emerged. Since PERSONNEL matters is one of those priveledged areas, Kevin confirmed our suspicions that they were talking about him. He told us that most of the people are on three year contracts.

I don't know any details of any decisions but the important thing is he confirmed: HE READS MY BLOG.

I Am So Disappointed I Think I Will Eat Worms!

You probably have noticed, I put ads back up on my blog. Since I am not getting the  PARENT LIAISON job not even an interview for the position, I gotta do something to raise some Cash to buy maybe some old suits so I can be as dapper as my fashion idol.

We learned last night in the superintendent's report that a person has been hired to temporarily fill the position until the former position holder's medical dilemma has been resolved. I will attempt to tell you who they hired but I warn you I type in a language all my own. Her name is Francis Martinez from the "La Vida" program.

She was touted as bilingual. I am too, if you count sarcasm as a language. We also share in our minority status, hers as being a Latino, mine being disabled. It was good to see that the superintendent didn't discriminate in her hiring practice.

The job posting must have been in multiple languages. Wait! Was there a job posting? How many interviews were held? How many other candidates like me, DIDN'T EVEN GET ACKNOWLEDGED?

Sour grapes or a cause for a complaint? A violation of my civil rights or an honest selection?

Did Anyone Hear What I Heard?

There was trouble with the sound system last night. A lot of static and difficulty hearing answers to the tough questions. Probably because they were trying to interface a laugh track for me.

A video was screened by Officer Ferrari documenting all the technology protecting LPS. LSC member Vinnie "GQ" Spirito robustly applauded the film and even asked that it be put on cable to diffuse all the naysayers and BLOGGERS out there.

Hey Vinnie, if you want my autograph, just ask.

The Tradegy Of The Comedy!

What  a meeting last night! I have got some great material provided to me courtesy of the committee. There was even talk of putting this stuff on cable.

I came home so late my wife was ready to make me sleep oserin the couch but the entertainment value of the meeting was worth it. Stay tuned!  Serious business taken deliriously.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Deputies, Rats, and Parent Liason

Tonight's LSC meeting will probably touch on these controversial topics. Get there early because the fireworks should begin in the sub-committee before the  full LSC. Festivities start at 6. See you at he show.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Home Court Advantage

I first broke this story months ago, but the Item has done an excellent fleshing out one of my earlier scoops. We here at the "Watch" have establish a flawless reputation for being impartial and totally objective. So it is with the merest of coincidences that I may have a distant relationship with one of the people mentioned in the story. In the interest of honesty in journalism I feel a professional obligation to point out this small piece of information that otherwise might have slid by under the radar.

Students find a voice in college leadership discussions

Talking Tech Time

I would like to thank Rick Starbard for sharing this editorial with me. We have a jewel at LVTI and instead of whining because enrollment is down we need to think of ways to increase it. As pointed out in this editorial there are places where there is a surplus in enrollment. We need to be one of those places. Until we value a Vo-tech education, we can't expect our students to value it. Everybody learns different, not necessarily better just different.

Voc-tech: Good for what ails education |

Credit is due Dr. Wary for her efforts in putting together Camp Explorer. It's a good start.

Nobody's Perfect

Once again some funny things seem to be happening with the posting of the LSC agenda for the upcoming meeting. A couple of months ago, I spoke during the "open-mike" session before the meeting showing the two contradicting postings about whether or not there was even going to be a meeting. I pulled the two opposing postings off the Internet and brought them for all to see.

This time this on this posting, the wrong date is paired with the wrong day of the week. Okay, an honest mistake. But  how do you feel about the administrators responsible for overseeing your child's education engaging in a pattern of miscues?

A Little Dickens In The House

WARNING! Since we don't have librarians in most of the schools, I should inform you that I am talking about CHARLES DICKENS the author.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times - for our principals that is. Patti Capano seem to fill my ears with stories of fluff and support for the environment surrounding our principals. Some parents and other people with invitations recounted stories of inaction or fear of retaliation from the administration.

I added that I might be wrong in in this but I thought until this year I thought principals used to get a discretionary amount of the Title 1 funds to spend how they saw fit for their individual schools and that now there was central control in the administration. No one disagreed with me and there were many people there smarter than me. So does that mean I was right?

In my opinion, this over controlling centralized command stifles creativity and innovation. But what do I know, I'm just a poor, disabled poet?

Tale Of A Party Crasher

Oops! I am not only bad at math, I can't follow directions. I thought my BFF was taking me to a meeting of disabled poets last night. We, poets, like to share our craft.

I WAS WRONG! I sit down and I recognized some people and it wasn't for their lyrical talent. Rick Starbard and Patti Capano were there. Gardy was there from the mayor's office (I'm sure he would quickly remind everyone that he was not the mayor - doesn't the mayor usually wear a dress anyway). Jack Dolan, Area Director of the Dept. of Children and Families along with some other Dept. official was there. Oh yeah, that Delores lady who's running for school committee was there. Id say her last name but it hurts my tongue. Alliteration can be dangerous.

They had printed agendas probably on their letterhead but I never picked one up. No matter, they never followed it anyway. My BFF said she couldn't find it posted anywhere like it's supposed to be for an open meeting according to the "Open Meeting law".

Since my BFF thought it was an open meeting, she was going to tape it for "Lynnhappens"(darn competitor, sorta). However, there was quite a hub bub about being on camera. Questions about quorum and since invitations were sent out then arguments were made that this was a private meeting. The old barbecue analogy was trotted out as to why this wasn't a "real" open meeting.

True that! Don't tell anyone but I didn't have an invitation and I introduced myself to everyone. Nobody said Nothing.  I was wondering with all those important people there how could it NOT be an open meeting and why didn't they want it taped. I guess us, poets are shy people.

Monday, April 25, 2011

On The Menu

I ain't no lawyer or have I ever even worked in a fast food joint, but I got a recipe or some alphabet soup that may not have been tried yet. Through personal experiance as a father and wthrough close association with my new found PAC buddies in our ongoing battle with SPED, I have gotten a shallow baptism in the waters of the IEP. Along comes TAG with gifted ingredients to our educational alphabet soup.

Someone please explain to me why the gifted can't be served at the educatiional buffet. Are the cooks not telling us about this dish because they don't like the final price tab? They don't seem to mind insuring their six figure tips regardless of the service. I may be causing chaos in the kitchen by bringing this up but maybe our servers should go on a fiscal diet if they have a problem with delivery. Time to order take-out.

Lynn Tech To Lead The Way?

During the LSC meeting on April 12, committee member Rick Starbard posed an interesting question. He wanted to know if LVTI could take students from outside cities, say Nahant. He was quickly shot down because LVTI is not a regional votech facility.

Okay, but why? I don't know all the laws, rules, and policies preventing this from happening. It just seems to me that we have this GREAT facility that is being underutilized. I think we need to change the focus of our line o questioning from "Why we can't" to "How we can".

Fill out the paperwork and call some people. The time is ripe for innovation in education.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Waiting By The Phone

Well it's been a long Spring break, chocked full of chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. Maybe all that sugar has interfered with their thinking so they probably just FORGOT to call me to schedule an interview for that PARENT LIAISON position. I am sure it was just an oversight.

They can call me any time. I know they have my number because Dr. Wary's office called me just last week to schedule a meeting with her and Dr. Latham the same day a parent and I dropped off a letter. You would think that if they considered our concerns so important that a same day meeting was warranted that they would consider me a serious candidate for this position Do you think I have made my interest clear?.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Who Gets What And How Much Can I Get?

It has been brought to my attention that Lynn does not have a "gifted program". Those darn "special needs" kids get everything There always seems to be money available for them and their programs. Get on an IEP and you are on "easy street". All our education budget is spent on a few students so that when it comes time for programs for the kids who are going to discover the next miracle drug or the new microprocessor that computes at warp speed there is no money left for them.

Those few "special needs" kids represent around twenty percent of our student body, Those cash cows they call IEP's are not called "Special Education Plans" but instead "INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PLANS". That begs the question "Why isn't everyone on them?". Are we saying, "If you are not on one, you are not an individual"? In effect we are segregating the "Special Needs" population by paying lip service to their rights to be included with the "Normal" kids.

Only when we shift our focus from trying to micromanage particular aspects of every minute detail of every day will see the global aspects of our educational needs. Learning is on a continuum. We need everybody and everybody matters.

This is why I harp over and over again about the need for fully functioning libraries. It's like the old adage about teaching a man to fish, libraries become our "ponds of knowledge". Until we have a respect for learning the process of education can't move forward.

At the recent LSC meeting where a "Student Government Day" was held beforehand one of the students playing the role of an LSC committee person lamented about the nonexistence of a "science fair" and how no students from Lynn were represented in the nearest one (in Lowell I think). How can we expect our students to take their education seriously when our own administration doesn't, preferring the creation of a six-figure Deputy Superintendent's position instead of restoring someone to head up the science curriculum?

By ignoring the more basic needs of our students educational objectives, the short sighted, self interested leadership of a few  helps polarize and isolate distinct parts of our student population. Us against them,"Special Needs" against "gifted". Remember, learning is on a continuum and we should have a common goal.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Open For Business!

We, parents face an uphill battle fighting the education system. All of the laws,rules, and policies surrounding and pertaining to a student's education can be any parent's nightmare. This is especially true when your child has special needs. Like Alice Cooper used to sing years ago, "Welcome To My Nightmare".

So what is a person to do to help them sleep? What works for me is to help others navigate the currents of the help available. Fresh off of helping to get a parent the help she was entitled to, my BFF (she actually helped the parent write the letter we circulated, all full of legal mumbo jumbo) was reveling in our success, fantasizing about getting some kind of imaginary grant whereby we could actually get paid for helping other parents. Maybe some day dreams can come true.

Until that day, I intend to use the power of poverty to accomplish those goals. So, I encourage ANYONE with school problems to get in touch with me or I dare say my BFF to help them advocate for their educational needs. And remember, everyone's needs are special.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keeping The Peace

Part of the discussion at the last LSC meeting over concerns about the garden (Farm) was about who is living up to the stipulations of last fall's agreement and just how they are doing it. A hot topic was the "buffer" zone between the garden and adjoining land owners. Just what is a "buffer zone"? It brigs up visions of the DMZ between North and South Korea with brigades of rats and their counterpart homeowners each standing guard on their precious real estate.

Now I heard that The Food Project planned to fill the zone with what covert operatives disguised as harmless flowers. One committee member suspiciously pointed out that they thought a "buffer zone" was devoid of vegetation. After all, those Food Project people would probably dress themselves up in robes and sandals and go down to central square and sell wildflowers to the bus passengers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Writing On The Wall

Does anybody really think I am not going to miss the chance to bring up the chance to bring up our NEED for libraians. As this study clearly points out, early reading is vital for future success. You can pay a little now or pay a lot later. Maybe we could afford librarians if we weren't tied up with lawsuits over secretaries. IEP's, and looking to create new six-figure positions. I'm not even mentioning ASBESTOS removal.

Study: Below-average readers more likely to drop out

No Appointment Necessary!

Just returned from a hurriedly assembled meeting with Dr. Latham, Dr. Wary, Sue Howell, Lydia Muggeo, a concerned parent and myself. Early on a secretary came in to take notes of this high level meeting of the minds.

At about 10:15 the parent and I dropped off a letter to Dr. Latham but she was in a conference call so we dropped by Dr. Wary's office and we left our phone numbers. From there we went across town to the SPED building and dropped off copies of the letter (I didn't write it) to Sue Howell and Lydia Muggeo,. They were in meetings too. Everybody was busy. Then at about 11 am I get a call from Dr. Wary's office to ask if we could come to  a meeting with US at 11:30.

It all became necessary when this parent felt that LPS was trying to back out of a deal they had committed to on an IEP signed ten days ago. There was a lot lot of talk about numbers and legal issues regarding placement in a particular class and the distinctions between the definition of a one-to-one aide versusu a classroom aide.

School may be on vacation but there still must be buses running because seems like a lot of people took turns throwing each other under them. Dr. Latham claimed ignorance on the specifics because Dr. Wary was handling it. Then I think Sue Howell or maybe Lydia blamed Dr. Crane's taking a vacation for the miscommunication. They were planning on pulling another aide from Coach K's old class that needed two aides since Coach K was fired. The problem came not from the fact that that room still needs two aides without Coach K because it still does (that's just some poor disabled poet's opinion who' neighbors with the class in the library), but from the fact that the second aide no longer exists for whatever reason.

Bottom line, Dr. Latham promised to honor the IEP and make it right for the student who has been victimized, not only from bullies in his old school but also to assure the parent won't be bullied by the administration. I have to say Dr. Latham gave me a firm handshake. I am sure she was just expressing her resolution for making things right. I'm sure my hands weren't permanently damaged. I can still type. I like a good handshake.

Although I was happy with the results of the meeting, I was a little disappointed with the fact that even though all of those people were in the room, nobody mentioned anything to me about scheduling an interview for that open Parent Liaison position.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Planting Season

It's time to put seeds in the ground at Ingalls and here we go again. The actual lease has not been renewed yet with the Food Project. What to do? Will delays put the harvest in jeopardy? Where will the rats get their food? Where will the gangs hang out?

Instead of automatically renewing the lease that was debated last fall (the debate helped put the "Watch" on the map. Gotta love them rats), we have been forced to have an official hearing on the progress that has been made on the stipulations made.

Evidently some people decided to forgo a six foot fence in favor of a four foot high fence with four extra cameras. Since rats can't jump a four foot fence, having the extra the extra cameras wired into the police station provides extra pictures of gang members and bunny rabbits.

This all could have been wrapped up at the last meeting if Coppola hadn't objected to the fact some people (buildings and grounds subcommittee chairman John Ford perhaps?) were playing fast and loose with the open-meeting laws and having private, secret meetings with select individuals.

There Is No Heartbreak Hill But It Will Do Your Heart Good

Today is the day for the Boston Marathon so the timing is good to let everyone know about an event that Breed Middle School is organizing. On May 14th a 5K run/walk will be held for all family members. The purpose of this event is to encourage healthy lifestyles. I don't recall any sign-up information being given at the LSC meeting so I would call the school for info.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Out Of The Mouths Of ....

Going Green. It's all the rage now and it just makes good economic sense on a lot of levels. Even though students engaged in a mock school committee last Tuesday night, it sure seemed like adults making new policies. They saw the need to implement an extensive recycling program that included cans, bottles, and other potential recyclables. The students showed a concern for the future they are going to have to live in.

Another adult idea they came up with is the plan to devise some sort of way for the students to take some part in the upkeep of the school grounds. Cognizant of the delicate territory of union contracts, they seemed to be ready to work out some mutually acceptable deal. The bright spot was they were ready to step up to the plate and were ready to take some responsibility for how the school looked and its perception.

I heard one student complain about the lack of involvement in academic endeavors citing the fact that Lynn didn't even have an entry in some recent Science fair. Makes me wonder if this fact is due to the fact that the director of the science curriculum was eliminated last year even though we have suddenly come up with the funds to establish a new six-figure Deputy Superintendent's position mid-year.

Hopefully if I get hired for the new temporary "Parent Liaison" position, I'll advocate for the creation of a student liaison person or even committee. Maybe I should actually save all of my good ideas for the interview. They haven't called me yet but the phone lines could be down at Commercial Street.

Watch The WATCH Go!

Well I did it. I reached the TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND mark on my impressions counter. Having done this means people are listening to what I have to say, definitely not always agreeing but they are listening. But my ego isn't so big as to believe that is only me they are listening to.

I have had 1049 comments so far. This blog has created a dialogue, serving as an expression of what's going wrong with LPS as well as what's going right. We have come pretty far pretty fast and we're picking up speed. Happy to have you along for the ride.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Art Of Education

Once again I have been out-scooped by the Item. They do have a larger staff than WE(me) do at the "Watch". They have written a fine article, kind of like the article about "student government day", great for somebody's scrapbook. I'm just not sure whether the Item is a newspaper or a public relations arm of LPS? Somebody with more smarts than this poor, disabled poet please tell me.
I went to Lynn Arts today with my two kids to view the exhibit. What a display of talent. LPS has a lot to be proud of. So it makes me wonder why our education administration is so enamored with numbers, looking solely for a digital expression of intelligence. We miss so much.

Real education produces an ability to synthesize knowledge learned into a new and unique creative endeavor. The beauty of the number does not come from the digit itself but from the process of counting,

Talent on parade at Lynn schools art show

Not Enough Money For What?

I was wondering how LPS doesn't have money for a promised aide for the rest of the year? They have not had to spend as much money as budgeted for transportation for my own son since he has walked most of the year to Pickering? Also are they busing this kid to Washington School now? Cause I know the mother says they live NEAR Ford. Then there is the money they already budgeted for a Parent Liasion that they have left vacant for two years.

A working Parent Liaison would be vital in helping to resolve this situation. Since I am a candidate for this position (Well they haven't actually acknowledged it yet. Do you think I have been public enough expressing my interest?) maybe I am a little biased in stressing the importance of the role. Maybe LPS could paint me as a parent with some agenda if they just did what they said they were going to do and give the kid an aide.

Just wondering what is 1/4 of the year's salary of $182,000? I'm no good at math.

Friday, April 15, 2011

LPS Works Magic Again

Now You See It, Now You Don't. The student that had trouble at the Washington School who was supposed to be coming to Ford to be placed in a regular class with an aide is not coming. Or at least not to the place agreed to on the IEP. His mother told me that she was told today that there is no money for an aide now (10 days after the IEP was SIGNED and that he is going to placed in a regular behavior class at Ford).

My understanding of how federal law works is that your right to an education has NOTHING to do with money. How can we not have money to properly educate one child when we can afford to create another Deputy at a hefty six figure salary and our current superintendent makes $182,000 a year?

Well I guess that explains it. It takes a lot of money to keep the superintendent in the lifestyle she is accustomed to. There is that money they have saved by leaving the Parent Liaison position open. Uh oh, I better keep quiet on that matter. I wouldn't want to ruin my chances on getting  that job.

Maybe if I go to work for them I can get some of their special pens, they write the IEPs in. You know, the ones with disappearing ink.

I'm Getting Nervous

I'm getting worried. Maybe the administration is having trouble contacting me, I am a busy man and I don't want to miss the opportunity to interview for the Parent Liaison position.  LPS would not discriminate against me because I am disabled because hat would bring in the Americans With Disabilities Act. I mean all of those educated professionals know about that law. If for some reason they can't reach me by phone, like I said before I think they probably have Internet access down there. One or two of those administrator types probably has read my blog.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Do You Feel Violated?

There are funny things going on down at the SPED department or in some cases not going on. First, there is my BFF's story about delays in promised transportation for her special needs foster child. The transportation was signed for in her son's IEP. Then when time to be implemented, no one was at the wheel. Suddenly, another person had to sign off on it (Dr. Latham? I don't know for sure, but I think it was said at open mike).

Another parent was telling me yesterday afternoon about her son who was being put back into a classroom at the Washington School where he was taken out of previously where he had been subjected to bullying. I thought LPS had an "anti-bullying policy"? I think there is a link on the LPS web site. Anyway it was decided that her son would be moved to his district school with an aide into a regular elementary class buuuuut it's been a few days, no action has been taken. The kid continues to suffer abuse, violations were made to the IEP before the ink was dry. I sure hope nobody tells the feds.

Waiting At The Watch!

It's been an exciting few days here at the Watch. There may be hope for the poor, disabled poets of the world. The buildup started when I found out at the LSC meeting from Dr. Latham that they're are planning to fill the Parent Liaison position. Hey, I'm qualified - I'm college educated, I can write a little, I know how government works, and oh yeah  - I'M A SPECIAL NEEDS PARENT. I had someone express my interest. I can't wait for the opportunity to interview. You'll be the first to know, I'm a sharing person.

All's Sunny At Ford

Jeremy Reiner, the meteorologist from Channel 7 News, visited Ford School in Lynn on Tuesday.  The students were very engaged during Reiner's presentation as he kept them actively involved.  "It is extremely beneficial for the students to experience this type of reinforcement in science," said Debi Milkes, 4th grade teacher.

Mock News

I didn't try to scoop the Item on this one. There is plenty of news to go around and I can't cover everything. Have I said before, "I'm just a poor, disabled poet."? So the Item gave some kids a nice article for their scrapbook collection. The only thing was they heard the students talking but weren't listening to what they had to say.

The students passed a mock resolution to reduce the phys. ed requirement down to one year so they could take more AP and Honors courses and debated the expansion of the availability of such classes to underclassmen. All of this was in order to get into more competitive, better schools.

Does anybody else find it sadly ironic that this day a teen suicide prevention presentation was on the agenda for the regular LSC meeting? If anyone doubts the dangers of too much pressure on our kids, they should try and view the documentary "Race To Nowhere" that LSC member Rick Starbard took me to a screening of.

That way maybe the Item won't scoop me on the future obituary of some overstressed student.

Lynn student leaders take over City Hall

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Let's Stop The Bleeding From Our Budget

Lynn Public Schools are spending somewhere between eleven and twelve MILLION dollars a year on out of district placements. I heard last night there is an effort to hold down that cost. It is a budget buster.

What I did not hear was what they actually meant by "hold". These out of district placements are federally mandated because of either services we don't provide or expertise we do not have. You cant "hold down" expenses by denying services. We have been down that road, time and again we have lost. Losing is not cheap.

We need to start talking about training we are going to take, programs we are going to develop, and positive steps we are going to take. You can't wish these  problems away.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Responding From Pressure?

After an encouraging display from our future leaders of some of their innovative ideas about to conduct the business of government (more on that later, I gotta scoop the Item) my BFF was the sole speaker at Open mike. Since she was both first and last in line, no one said anything when she spoke on more than one topic. Shame on you Melissa, you're a bad little girl (I SMELL MULTIPLE POSTINGS).

The first topic she covered is what has become the repeated plea that the position of the vital Parent Liaison be filled. Really Melissa, I know you are my BFF and all but it is really getting annoying that you keep reminding them that they are doing a disservice to the parents. Do you actually think they have time to care? I mean do you know how much of a time commitment it takes to study the futures market? That's stock futures and not our kids futures.

No comment from Dr. Latham, the mayor, or anybody sitting at the tables with water pitchers. Then everybody went about the business of the regular LSC meeting. The meeting closed with the superintendent's report, Before the mayor brought the meeting to a close with the pounding of the gavel, Donna Coppola addressed Dr. Latham asking about the status of the parent Liaison position. Dr. Latham responded that while we can't "hire" a new one yet because the position is still technically occupied since the person is out on medical leave, there has been some movement on the matter. I think I heard something about an interview and filling the position temporarily next week. But I'm getting older you know, more disabled all the time and who knows my hearing could be going. Anyway I hope they do fill it soon, that way Melissa could complain about something else.

Dollars And Sense

To be totally fair I don't begrudge Drs. Latham and Wary their high salaries. Lynn is the fifth largest school district in the state and has some pretty unique problems. Salaries should reflect the task. Good pay for a job well done.

But then you have to ask yourself, "How do you define "Well done". I imagine our district has to be near the top at producing failing schools. That is a distinction we could do without. The two of them along with their secretaries account for nearly half a million dollars a year. And don't forget (as if I would let you) Dr. Latham succesfully convinced 5 members of the LSC to add another Deputy position. So adding in the secretary that would come with the position, we are talking probably near another $200,000 a year.

Take a look at LPS's bulging payroll. Are we getting our money's worth?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Camera Shy

What's wrong with this picture? Over 90% of our students are on free or reduced lunch and our superintendent of schools tops the salary list of city employees at $182,670. Well you could argue that the size of the salary is commensurate with a "job well done". Only I'm not sure it is well done. I mean we have two schools that are at Level 4 Connery and Harrington.

 Even after lots of meetings with parents, educators and administrators over months to come up with a viable Turnaround Plan for each school, we failed to achieve success in coming up with an acceptable plan for Connery. Since we "flunked out" at devising an acceptable plan for Connery we were sent back into remediation until we learn our lesson. In the meantime we miss out on all those dollars set aside to fix our problems. Then from the rumblings I hear, three other schools, Marshall, Breed, and Lynn Tech are set to become Level 4 this summer. All but 3 of Lynn's 26 schools failed to make AYP. Does this sound like we are getting our money's worth?

 Between Dr. Latham and Dr. Wary, we are spending over $320,000 a year for these results. That doesn't even take into account the $100,000 spent for Confidential Secretaries for them. Because they are so proficient at leading our educational system, we have been asked to bring another into their seclusive little club. That person would undoubtedly make well over $125,000. I guess it's not easy to fail. Five of our seven school committee members must have felt their pain because only Coppola and Starbard voted AGAINST creation of a new Deputy position.

Latham and Wary complain about  the long hours they put in but at their salaries it's no wonder the school system can't afford a time clock. What do I know, I'm just a poor disabled poet. Maybe I should have studied math in college. That way I would have learned more abut "differential equations" so could understand the "difference" between last year and this year and why Dr. Latham's salary had to increase somewhere near $20,000.

 With all due respect to Charlie Sheen, "Losing" seems to pay pretty well.

School Super Latham tops on Lynn’s payroll

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Marshall Parents Organizing

I get a call this afternoon from Dr. Cowdell, principal at Marshall, inviting me to a parent's organizational meeting at the school tomorrow night. I feel pretty special, the popularity of this blog thing must be getting around. Important people are calling and requesting my presence. Heck, maybe I am an important person.

My ego quickly deflated though when I realized the call wasn't directed to me personally but instead was one of those robocalls sent to everyone by virtue of being a parent. Well they probably won't serve refreshments anyway.

Unfortunately I can't go, I have two previous appointments. I hope there is a way I can get up to speed on what I miss. Being a parent, even a poor, disabled one is a full time job.

No Roster Changes On This Team

Evidently Lynn Public Schools had no personnel changes last month or at least none that they or at least none they want us to know about. We are getting close to the end of the year maybe our personnel situation is finally stable.

It's just in the past they had pages of personnel changes on the agenda. There is no mention of the Deputy Superintendent's position that they approved the creation of after the Personnel Sub-committee was supposed to tinker with the job posting. We were lead to believe it to be an essential position. I guess we can fail fine without adding another six figured salaried position.

Asbestos Cover?

I was checking the Lynn Public Schools web site this morning to look at the agenda for Tue. night's upcoming school committee meeting and look what I found,

It's good to see Mr. Borque on top of a policy that was put into place last century. I am sure the posting had nothing to do with the recent revelation of the fact that Lynn Public Schools and the Inspectional Services Department contracted with a firm that was unlicensed for asbestos removal. Cause on a purely casual read of the Memo it looks to me that the policy and what actually happened don't jive. Mr. Borque must sleep well at night with the strong reassurance given by Mr. Donovan from the Inspectional Services Department, "It's done".

Being just a poor, disabled poet, I don't see where putting that memo out there gives much cover for accepting responsibility for the potential liabilities of this oversight. Still, it might help some people sleep better while others have nightmares while living with the potential consequences of an ill-fated decision.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Look Out For A New Outlook

It's good to see Marshall Middle School being used to provide a place for positive things to happen in the lives of our youth. There are too many stories of drugs, fights, and academic failure. Shifting the focus doesn't make he problems go away but sometimes with anew perspective one can see glimmers of hope.

 Lynn middle school program 'provides structure' for students

Friday, April 8, 2011

DOA on the IEP

ACCOMMODATIONS. Its all about how we take the test, not whether we take it. I hear things, many people say they either don't get them or are asked to give them up. The reason being they are too expensive to implement. That is because those accommodations  that are not technology related are labor intensive. People cost more than computer programs.

As I told you in an earlier post, GET THE ADAPTIONS IN THE IEP's, then you have someone specific to blame if these accommodations are not followed. That person is the principal. Ultimately it is the principals responsibility so blame them if you have to.

Lynn Crew In Custody?

Last night LSC member Rick Starbard, his lovely wife Lois, my BFF, and I spent a couple of emotional hours with the Arlington Police Department. No, we weren't being held for crimes against education but we got to witness it. The Arlington PD sponsored a screening of the movie "Race To Nowhere" which served as a virtual lineup of victims and villains that perpetuate our current "test-driven, no holds barred" education system.

There was a good crowd for the movie and a large percentage of them remained in their seats afterward to listen and participate in a panel discussion. It was very INFORMATIVE and Rick talked about trying to see if there could be a showing in Lynn. I'm all for that but maybe I would rename it to "Attack Of The Math People" or "Drowning In Data".

I took away from that movie the idea that we have to redefine what "success" is. Kids need time to be kids. Too much pressure often blows up in our face.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Struggling Lynn schools aim literacy program at parents

I am glad LPS has taken such a strong public view about the value of reading. It truly permeates throughout the curriculum. Since they are testifying about importance of parents being able to read how does that reconcile with the fact that we closed down all the elementary libraries. I'm sorry, not ALL are closed. The two Level 4 schools have fully staffed, functioning libraries.
Are we saying that it is important for parents to read but not so for their kids? The speaker at the PAC meeting Mon. who was explaining the MCAS said something very succinct and eloquent' Nothing is more special than after reading to your child every night than to have them read back to you".

Struggling Lynn schools aim literacy program at parents

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Testing Trivia

NOBODY GETS A FREE PASS. Massachusetts state law says everybody has to take the dreaded MCAS. Every individuals score factors into the number that the statistical gurus use to rank the school.

There are 3 different ways to take the test: 1) regular pencil and paper test, 2). regular pencil and paper test with standard accommodations (there is a list out there that defines what "standard" is and most people fall in these two categories), and a MCAS-Alt for nonstandard accommodations.

It is important if your child needs accommodations that they be WRITTEN INTO THE IEP so they can be given at test time. In order to insure the vaunted statistical accuracy of these test, standardization must be maintained. No surprises.

Like them or not, this is the world we live in so until the winds of change blow through the ears of our educational leaders: Forewarned is forearmed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where's The Money?

Since 23 of the 26 Lynn Schools have bad enough AYP scores their students qualify for Supplemental tutoring. To actually receive the tutoring the child's family income has to fall below a certain criteria. This is one of those times it appears to pay to be poor.

However poor kids aren't the only ones doing poor on the MCAS. Last night at the PAC meeting I listened to a parent tell about how she has to shell out $300 a week for private tutoring. This is insane, we are punishing the kid for their parents doing well. Some would rightfully argue that it is the parents that are really getting punished. What kind of message is this sending?

We are promoting failure in our throughout all our education system. When our schools fail then we get libraries, librarians, and the need for a new Deputy Superintendent who becomes a part of  ever-expanding layers of administration.

Back to the tutoring. My understanding is that if enough kids in a school are from low income families then the school qualifies for Title 1 money. This money in turn pays for tutoring for kids of those families. Like I said it pays to be poor in that respect. But what I also heard discussed at that meeting is that they are supposed to set aside a certain percentage of that Title 1 money based on some predetermined formula to pay for some "needs based" tutoring for non income qualified tutoring if the parent gets in all he required paperwork. Doubts were raised about whether this was happening. If not could somebody please explain why? What's happening to the money that was supposed to be earmarked for that? There are a lot of questions surrounding all of this Title 1 money. I just think it would be good to see a full public accounting of it.

Don't Believe Everything You Hear!

That is of course, unless you hear it from the "Watch". I don't make mistakes unless you count that one about thinking Kevin McHugh wasn't a former Lowell School Committee nenber (I just thought he was only looking for a better job). Marshall Middle School has a reputation out there of being a "bad" school. Thatrep is somewhat deserved. They are on the doorstep of falling into a Level 4 school if they aren't already there. People play shell games with statistics so it all depends on who you ask.

"Hats Off" to Dr. Cowdell and the other people responsible for putting this program together. It is an innovative way to put a little vigor into our education system.

Don't call me a "sell-out", I still strongly disagree on the value placed on MCAS and I think that even this little way is just another way to "teach the test". But who's going to argue with pizza!

Lynn students attend 'boot camp' to boost MCAS math scores

Who's Who And Who's Where?

The SPED department were represented at last night's PAC meeting by Jessica and Lydia. Rick Starbard from the LSC was also there. No other LSC members or even candidates were there, which was unfortunate because a fine presentation was given about the dreaded MCAS and how it pertains to the special needs students. Perhaps the dreary weather kept the "good times" from rolling. It's election time and do you know where your candidate is?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Teacher Testing?

Accountability, that's what I'm talking about. Blame those lazy, unionized teachers for ALL our problems. Once we FIRE a few of them our educational dilemma will be solved. Never mind they are dealing with a transient population with varying skill levels to start with. Don't worry, once size fits all no mtter what language the label is in.

I think we need to turn our education system inside out and start supporting the STUDENTS and look for innovative ways and sometimes even traditional ways to get the message across that education is a GOOD thing. We need to invigorate our classrooms providing a much needed spark to learning. Not to beat a DEAD horse, but it all starts with reading. Where do you look for something to read? The library, that's where they keep the books.

Instead of returning our old librarians to their proper place we had added a Deputy Superintendent's position a six figures. To be honest we have a lot of Level 3 and Level 4 school's and somebody's got to keep track of just how bad we are failing. There might be more money out there to turn us around. (Oh yeah our Turnaround Plan for Connery FAILED).

What have we got for our eight million dollars for our two biggest grants this year. ? Well we got somebody to oversee how we spend our RACE TO THE TOP money but so far it looks like a race to no where. All we're getting is more ways to bind up our educators. Like somebody said, "Let My People Go". Let's get back to teaching our kids.

Teacher rating plan draws fire in Lynn, Revere

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Logo?

My daughter drew this on my phone.

Lynn's Got Talent!

Joe Picano, Fine Arts Director set Dr. Latham a letter or e mail back on March 9th (my birthday if you want to mark your calenders) with two  items of good news. First LPS had its fist Middle School Student accepted into the MMENC district orchestra. Quite an honor for that student and his or her school. I'd love to tell you who and what school but that info was not given. I don't believe even that crack investigative journalism team at the Item uncovered it. In fact, did they mention it at all? I credit them whenever I use them. Do they ever credit the "Watch". I believe there was the Deputy and Asbestos stories just recently that appeared here FIRST. I know, I'm just a poor, disabled poet.

Also unbeknownst to most MA voters Congressman Tierney was promoted to Senator Tierney (that electoral college stuff is so confusing). His office recently sponsored a juried Arts competition at Montserrat College Ext in Beverly. Students from both Classical and English competed.. (Source: LSC published agenda for 3/24/11)

A Classical View

This a great story illustrating a successful and important partnership with the schools and the business community. These Classical students are learning the power of the media to disseminate information that is important to them and to try others that that same information should be important to everyone. Kind of like we do here a the "Watch".

Just as a sidebar, I believe Pickering Middle School was doing the same thing last fall but ran into technical difficulties. The "Watch" tried to hook them up with Lynn's own media guru, Seth, but I never heard if they called him back.

Classical students produce daily newscast

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The "Watch" Was Wrong!

A reader was right and I was wrong. I didn't think our devoted Business Manager, Kevin McHugh, was a former member of the Lowell School Committee, I just thought he had his eye on another job. As this site clearly states the "not so clear "state of politics in Lowell.

How does all of this affect his focus on and dedication to fixing all the failing schools in Lynn?

"Another Baehr supporter, Kevin McHugh, failed to win re-election after ten years on the committee."

Back At PAC

Well it's that time again. Looks like this Mon. night is the first Monday of the month and that means a PAC meeting at 7 pm at the Lynn Housing Authority on 10 Church Street. I plan to be there, that is if my BFF can give me a ride.

I like to listen and talk to people, It informs me, teaches me, and let's not forget gives me something to write about. It will be interesting to see if the SPED people are back from the dog house where they got spanked for not attending the last PAC meeting.

Well smack my knuckles with a ruler, I forgot we don't use no corporeal punishment. They should be back from a "time-out" in the superintendent's office. I bet it's getting pretty crowded in there and that's why we need a new deputy.

Is It Any Wonder?

Look at the news lately around the students attending Lynn Public Schools The latest was a kid with a hypodermic. A student hit a teacher at Tech. Drugs were found at Marshall, the same day that a student was arrested in conjunction with a vandalism incident at Tech. Another student punch an assistant principal at English. Earlier in the year, teachers were posted on the corners on the pathways to Marshall to maintain order and prevent fights.

Pretty sad. What's wrong, who's to blame? Is it just that we had bad kids, rotten apples? Maybe, but let's try looking at an alternative explanation. Everyone would agree, you go to school to learn. The questions then become what are you learning and who is doing the teaching.

Well let's see. We have left the vital position of Parent Liaison unfilled for nearly two years. We fired an experienced Special Ed.. teacher. The person responsible for devising and implementing our anti-bullying policy has put his house up for sale and is rumored to be moving to Georgetown. We created a six-figure Deputy Superintendent's position, Our business manager is rumored to be looking for greener pastures in Lowell.

How can we expect our kids to maintain order when our school department is in such disorder. Stability is needed to establish security. Do you see any order here? Should we be surprised at our kid's behavior? I'm just saying.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Say It Ain't So Kevin!

Looks like I am not the only blogger out there keeping an eye on their local school committee.Some other mad genius is out there holding the Lowell SC member's feet to the fire. I was perusing the competition and look what I found at

A busy Sunday Sun Political column with the lead story speculating that if Jay Lang gets the Supt. job he could hire former Lowell School Committee member Kevin McHugh (who is currently the Business Manager for the Lynn Public Schools) to fill his former role as Asst. Supt. for finance.

People can write anything in these rags. I'm sure Mr. McHugh's loyalties are unwavering. Just wondering, unwavering to whom?

It Ain't No Joke!

The "Watch" may have to shut down. Why you may ask? Is it because a few people don't like what I'm talking about? Well I have pretty thick skin. I have been mistaken for being drunk, on drugs, or being mentally retarded. I have experience prejudice and discrimination for the nearly thirty years since my automobile accident that lead to my brain damage. Throughout my working career I have worked on the front lines of social service provision witnessing a wide variety of adverse behavior.

Could it be that I am finally intimidated by the allegedly superior intellects? All of those credentials can be overpowering to a little ole country boy. When you are served up information from a menu full of the alphabet soup of varying degrees it can be very intimidating. But I've done things in my life, I've met people, important people. Not that superintendents aren't important but they are not U.S. senators.

Well then it must be because of my worsening health? It could be, I'm not able to get around like I used to. Probably not, because I've had a history of overcoming obstacles related to my health. Nothing can be as bad or humiliating as when you're nineteen years old and you have your Mom wipe your bum.

So I'm battle tested. What then could put the continuation of the "Watch" in jeopardy? Well I'm not sure they have Internet access at the homeless shelter. Blogging is fun but it don't pay that well. In fact for me, it doesn't pay at all. There is not much a market for poor disabled poets.

Who's The Fools Now?

I got information from my confidential BFF deep from the bowels of PAC that they received a call from someone in the SPED department about missing the last meeting. They didn't they were expected at every meeting. Seriously?