My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Importance of Long-Term Planning

One thing I've heard a lot about over the last few weeks is the importance of long-term planning for our schools. And I whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment -- because frankly, making decisions based only on the short-term too often leads to wasted resources. I've thought about this issue of long-term planning with respect to many issues that have come up over the last few weeks, and in all of these cases, I see a tendency to focus on the short-term, and not on the long-term. Let me give you a few examples.

First, there is the issue of the magical Obama stimulus plan ... and the hope that this money (maybe as much as a million dollars for the Amherst schools) will solve our budget problems. This is a very tempting view, because it would allow us to avoid making some of the cuts on our list. But the reality is, this money, even if it comes (and I've heard that this money may go less to Amherst than other towns in Massachusetts, that it may be divided into two different budget years, that it is already taken into account in terms of expected state aid, etc.) is NOT going to solve the very real problem we have in Amherst -- that our costs exceed our revenues. I'm not going to go into the "why" of this reality, but you can see the FCCC report ( which describes this long-term problem -- a problem which will NOT be solved by an override or a one-time fix from the federal govenment (which both seem like lovely, simple short-term solutions, but only serve to delay solving this very real problem). And I want to see us really solve, or at least get closer to solving, this very real budget deficit that we are facing yearly.

Here's another example of a short-term solution that I believe was ultimately very costly. In 2007, the School Committee asked the town to purchase two portable classrooms for use at Marks Meadow (to avoid having to have mixed grade classrooms). This was a pretty expensive purchase ($380,000 ultimately was spent by the town, although as much as $400,000 was originally budgeted for this purchase). The School Committee clearly felt pressure to add classrooms to this building, because of problems Marks Meadow parents and the Marks Meadow principal expressed at School Committee meetings (including overcrowding in classes with only one grade, and difficulties with the mixed-grade classrooms). These problems were probably particularly salient since two of the five members of the Amherst School Committee from 2004 to 2007 (when this decision to purchase portables was made) were parents at Marks Meadow (Alisa Brewer, Andy Churchill). In fact, there was even discussion at a School Committee meeting about buying FOUR portables!

So, let's see the current state of the portables: they are NOT in use right now as Marks Meadow classrooms at all, and for the next school year, the projected number of classrooms needed at Marks Meadow is 9 (and there are 10 classrooms already -- meaning the two portables PLUS an additional classroom are not needed for next year at all). OK, but does this mean that the enrollments these two years were simply low, and thus we actually will need those portable classrooms in the future? Unfortunately, I don't think so based on enrollment projections.

In 2006, the School Committee paid for a report (issued April 2007) by the New England School Development Council (NESDEC) which provided demographic and enrollment projections for our elementary schools (which seems like very useful information to have). Here are the projections given in that report for K to 6 enrollment:

2006-2007: 1396
2007-2008: 1390
2008-2009: 1400
2009-2010: 1417
2010-2011: 1396
2011-2012: 1395
2012-2013: 1407
2013-2014: 1406
2014-2015: 1391
2015-2016: 1383
2016-2017: 1368

I take three things from these numbers. First, the single largest number of kids expected in our elementary schools for the next 8 years is 1417 -- and that is the expected number for the upcoming year (meaning next year's enrollments are the HIGHEST they should be for the next 8 years). Second, these numbers suggest a downward slope -- the last two years projected have enrollments that are the lowest of all the years projected, indicating that it is unlikely that in the two years immediately following these projections, we will suddenly see increases of 100 or so kids per year. Third, these numbers seem to be WRONG ... in that they are high! These projections from just two years ago (April 2007) suggest we will have 1417 kids next year ... but our own projections now show 1324 kids expected (so, we are off, by close to 100 kids). Now, does this just show our numbers are unreliable? I don't think so. I think you can see exactly why our numbers are off -- when this report was issued, there was no Chinese Charter School, and this school now takes about 10 kids per grade. Thus, I think it is not surprising that our projected enrollments are high, and I think it is pretty clear that we can take these projections and subtract 100 to get a good sense of what our numbers will be going forward.

So, what does all this mean? I think they suggest that we really need to consider the long-term consequences of our decision-making. First, I think a long-term perspective would NOT have led to the purchasing in 2007 of two portables for Marks Meadow (we aren't using them this year, we won't use them next year --even if the school stays open, and we likely won't ever need them again given that our enrollment projections next year are the highest we'll see in the next 8 years). We've also now learned that these portables are VERY expensive to move, which is also not ideal (again, another example of short-term decision-making -- had we known they would cost $70,000 each to move, perhaps we would have thought more carefully about where they should go). Second, a long-term perspective would say we are NOT going to have a problem fitting our current elementary school population in three buildings -- not next year, and not for the next 8 years. So, we could continue to keep Marks Meadow open as we debate how best to spend our limited school dollars (at an annual cost of approximately $687,000 a year after the cost of making the transition), but I don't think this approach focuses on the long-term consequences of this decision. There are simply too many other things we need and want to fund in our elementary schools -- including small class sizes, instrumental music, and intervention support for kids who need it.

Taking the long-term perspective in this case is hard ... because closing a school is emotional for families, teachers/staff, and the community (as we saw at the last two School Committee meetings). And so it is easier for us to just wait to make this decision -- wait until we have a new superintendent, wait until the new School Committee is elected, wait until we see how much the stimulus package will bring us, wait until the recession turns around and we have more state aid, wait until we see if an override passes, wait until we see if enrollment figures climb (which sure, could happen in 10+ years). But waiting also has consequences -- and when we are trying to spend our limited school dollars in order to provide the best education we can for ALL kids, it is very hard for me to see that spending an extra $687,000 a year while we wait is the right way to go.


Anonymous said...

Do you have the number of children who have school choiced to Pelham and other towns?

Anonymous said...

Please get your facts straight. The portables at Marks Meadow ARE in use for Title I students.

Anonymous said...

What ARE Title I students? I hear the term mentioned but have never seen a definition.

Anonymous said...

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Hi, to all,

1. As of March 2008, 15 elementary school kids and 11 regional kids were school choicing to other towns. I believe there are an additional 11 Amherst students choosing to attend Pelham.

2. The portables were intended to serve as classrooms to allow splitting of grades. They are NOT being used for that purpose, nor will they be used for that purpose next year. So, the best case that can be made here is that the portables are being used for a non-intended purpose? I stand by the point of my post -- the portables were NOT a necessary expense.

Ed said...

Title I was the first Title (Chapter) of the Federal Education law of 1965 and has since been "reauthorized" (which essentially means new money allocated for future years) most recently by the No Child Left Behind act (NCLB).

See the US DoE for the statute:

Essentially, it is money to supplement the education of poor and disadvantaged children. See the statement of purpose - but it involves migrant children, English Language Learner (ELL) children, (which used to be known as ESL), low income children, those at risk for various reasons.

It is Federal money so there are Federal regulations, the states administer it so there are state regs too and it gets really complicated and this classroom teacher just said "that's nice" and let others deal with the specifics.

Now the one question that I do have is why are the Title I children outside the regular classroom at MM? Policy is for inclusion and one needs to wonder.

Ed said...

You need to be careful with any demographic projection in a college town.

In a traditional town, you can use the census returns and presume that the infants at home will be going into your schools when they get older - you can only go five years out because children beyond that haven't been born yet, but you can do this. And you can also take the kids you already have and presume that most of them will be moving up the grade ladder from year to year.

Amherst is different because of the colleges and the high mobility caused by them. There will be fewer graduate TAs next year at UMass which means fewer graduate students and thus fewer children for Marks Meadow.

I believe that all three colleges now have a hiring freeze which means young families aren't moving into Amherst which means fewer children. You also have people whose children have already graduated remaining in Amherst so the younger families have been moving into Belchertown, So Hadley and Shutesbury.

The real wild card is undergraduate enrollment at UMass, if that was to drop (as it did in the early 1990s) then you could have student rental housing switching over to Section 8 rentals as happened with the old Brittany Manor (now Boulders & Southpoint).

And I am quietly hearing concerns about undergrad enrollment next year at UMass - although that is not the official university line. Remember that next fall is the first year that the baby boomlet is NOT applying for college and nationwide there will be a glut of college seats (even without our economic issues).

Making it even more complicated, birth rates have gone up quite a bit in the past couple years.

So I am saying be cautious with figures. The normal rules don't apply to Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of taking money out of our budget. Can you please comment about this article or explain more about how the Charter schools take money away from us and how we could reverse that?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ed...why are Title I kids being educated outside the school building itself?! Money aside (although I do agree with Catherine that the money could have been better spent elsewhere), that doesn't seem fair or equitable. Those kids are already at a disadvantage and now you stick them in portable classrooms?! Someone should look into this. If nothing else, the district could have spent those hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire more teachers for Title I kids rather than building them separate (and isolated) classrooms!

Anonymous said...

If you feel like it may be doing a disservice to these kids, you should go and visit BEFORE making that judgment.

Alison said...

When I was on the FCCC, a number of people commented to me that Amherst "could sell some its assets" to close the budget gaps. Among those mentioned were the south Amherst campus and the East Street Annex. Not being overly familiar with the current usage of those campuses, I cannot offer my opinion on those particular suggestions but your blog did remind me of the comments in general.

When making the long-term plan for our schools from this point on, I urge the School Committee to take a hard look as to whether or not the portables are really necessary in the next five to ten years. Before they are potentially moved anywhere, costing the town even more money. I think you have made the case for them not being needed at Marks Meadows. If they are truly needed somewhere(say, if high school enrollments were increasing and there was going to be increased need for classrooms there), formulate a plan to move them. If they won't be needed anywhere to provided necessary classroom space, I recommend that you consider selling them. Undoubtedly, the town won't recoup all of the money it has already spent on them, but it could help save a few teachers' positions!

Anonymous said...

Please reserve judgement before you have all the facts. The portables were not ready for occupancy until late December this year - long after planning for classroom size was made - and long after it was feasible to move a classroom into there this year. It is being well used and benefiting many kids this year considering it was completed later than expected. These rushes to judgement aren't helping anyone. Numbers aren't the only facts.

Anonymous said...

If the South Amherst campus building and East Street Annex building were sold, where would the kids who are served by those programs go? Another case of making suggestions before thinking through the ramifications.

Alison said...

Anon 8:57AM:

I agree...where would they go? I only mentioned those examples as ones that were suggested to me as a member of a town-wide financial planning committee. I don't know much about either campus (except that the East Street Annex was formerly used for classrooms at Fort River when my oldest was there) and am not personally suggesting that they get sold.

The point of my post was to encourage our School Committee to think long and hard about the strategic future of our entire school system. What are the long-term projections? If our enrollments are truly shrinking, will there be any opportunities for consolidation among our eight (I think) campuses? How can we best use these portables we now own? Would we be best-served to keep them at MM, pay to move them, or to sell them?

Just one example of the type of long-range thinking that should be ongoing. Just as others have suggested adding school choice to our elementary schools to increase revenue. Constantly evaluating and re-evaluating these types of ideas might help solve Amherst's long-term structural deficit.

Neil said...

One-time expenses or income received from one-time sales do not play a big role in long term budget planning.

While the money spent on temporary classrooms was a big one-time hit ($380K or 38K per year over ten years plus financing cost), it's impact on the on-going cost structure, which is the same a annual budget, is 38K+ per year. Selling assets does not fix the long-term cost structure except to the extent it reduces long-term costs.

Recurring costs are the costs we must prioritize.

If we have buildings that we chose to not use for schools, it would be to our advantage to find a purpose that shifts the utilities and maintenance costs to the purpose and allows the school board to reclaim the asset later if its needed.

Anonymous said...

The portables at Mark's Meadow are being well used. Classrooms are used for a variety of reasons at all of the schools: for Special Education, Title I, ELE, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Music, Art, and Intervention (and I'm sure I'm forgetting something). When you look at the number of classrooms being used in a building, that does not mean you are looking at the number of grade-level classes in the school. Where else would these students work? Certainly you wouldn't want them to work in the hallway or a closet? Well, guess what? In many schools, that's where they are forced to work, due to lack of space. I assure you, all classroom space is being put to good use at all of the schools, whether it is for a grade-level class or for other types of teaching. As for the negative comment about using the portables for Title I students - Title I is a general education service and there is no law saying that services cannot be delivered there. In fact, having a quieter environment in which to work is helpful for many students.

Ed said...

Three concerns:

First, as part of EdReform, we went from ESL to ELL. We essentially went from conducting instruction in non-English languages to expecting them to learn English and to receive their instruction in English.

This is a dramatic oversimplification, but segregating students by language (and "segregate" is what is happening) made sense in the days of ESL but I am not so sure it does in the modern world of ELL.

(*IF* we actually even have ELL and not just ESL being fraudently called ELL....)

Second, while I am not aware of any specific Title I requirements, I am aware that the overarching principle of education for the past 35 years (or more) has been the inclusive classroom. Gone are the days of the "Boom Boom Room" where the special needs kids were ghettoized, gone are the days of Belchertown State and whereever it was that the pregnant girls were sent.

Soooooo, I do wonder about what appears to be a Title I ghetto.

Third, to my good friend Neil, one time expenses DO pay a significant part in long-term expenses or income. While you can pay the entire cost or enjoy the entire sale's receipt in one year, in reality this doesn't happen.

Furthermore, surplus school buildings that are disposed of can either serve other useful public services -- the Bang's Center is an old school and arguably serving an important function in town -- or developed commercially and added to the tax base, thus generating taxes to pay for the schools.

Fourth, as to those "ignore the numbers, come see what is happening folk", that is perhaps the lamest excuse for incompetence that I have seen yet. There are objective means of measuring student progress.

I have a friend who runs an alternative educational program for a medium sized city. He can give a very clear example of how he does - number of students arrested downtown, scores on exams, and most importantly, number of students with jobs when they graduate.

There are ways to evaluate these things.

Fifth, exactly how many out-of-classroom programs do we have and how many are redundant?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Have the two alternative schools (so. amherst and east street) really been studied/examined?

I have wondered why Amherst has many do similar (population-wise) school districts have?

Also, has the census of these two alternative schools grown significantly since the town went stopped offering basic and standard classes as a reaction to accusation of "tracking"? I would suspect "yes" since East St. wasn't even an alternative school at that point.

I still have lingering doubts that our school's reaction to that accusation was at all necessary. We essentially got rid of grouping for students in need (basic and standard) kept grouping for excellent students (honors and advanced) and if, as I suspect, the "alternative" schools' populations have the appearance that we replaced the basic group in the high school with segregation of students in need of remedial help to other school buildings.


Ed said...


There are two legitimate problems with it. First, it essentially gives the fourth grade teacher the ability to predetermine where the child will be at age 20 - and not always by any objective means. Second, it becomes a self-limiting prophecy with upper track students never really challenged and the lower track convinced they can't do the work.

I once was told by a class that "This is "'US History D' - D for Dummies." If you have low expectations of children, they will meet these expectations every time...

There are also very real racial and SES aspects to tracking, but there are underlying issues causing this and eliminating tracking doesn't solve it. The fact that the average black male teenager is watching something like 100 hours a WEEK of television (Thernstrom) or that the average tenure of a single mother's live-in boyfriend is 17 months (Pioneer Institute) has a lot more to do with educational outcome than tracking.

(NB: check the origional sources, the facts are from memory and the exact numbers may be slightly off.) And those of you who are parents think about this: your child watching 100 hours of TV a week and having a "new" father every 18 months (and no contact ever again with the old ones) - what would be the consequences to the child?

In any case, if you put a child into a classroom where the material is above his ability level, he (and it largely is boys) will do one of three things -- tune out and fail, drop out, or disrupt the classroom as a very rational means to slow the class down to the point where he can understand it. These children are by no means stupid -- being able to reset the curriculum to your ability level -- just unprepared and/or uninterested.

Having said this, I firmly believe that tracking is essential. You simply can not teach material at the vastly different levels needed and the concept of having the higher ability students tutor the slower ones is a form of slavery. (If we are going to have them as teachers, we should put them on the payroll.)

The solution to the fourth grade teacher issue is to let any student take any level class - winters like this one work wonders to convince high schoolers that they might not want to be out on the back of a garbage truck for a living.

But tracking is racist so we can't have it, even if we essentially are forced to recreate it under different names and at much greater expense....

Neil said...

Third, to my good friend Neil, one time expenses DO pay a significant part in long-term expenses or income. While you can pay the entire cost or enjoy the entire sale's receipt in one year, in reality this doesn't happen.

In my example two temporary classrooms with a ticket price of $380,000 financed over ten years, cost 38K per year plus interest. If you could reference this example to make your point, I would understand it better.

My point was this: If one has a 1,000,000 structural deficit to fix, which is to say we need to eliminate 1,000,000 in annual recurring costs to balance the budget, eliminating a plethora of one-time costs will not address it because it would fix the deficit for one year only.

Costs that must be eliminated to address it must be annual recurring ones amounting to 1,000,000 in total.

I thought my example illustrated this nicely becuase $380,000 is a big one-time cost number but it becomes a much smaller and exists only in a limited time period when its financed over ten years. 38K plus interest, let's call it 40K amounts to 4% of the 1,000,000 shortfall that could be recovered IF the expense could be eliminated, which is not being contemplated here.

I don't know and did not offer an opinion on whether buying the classrooms was a needed expense, my point was about one-time and recurring costs.

Principle and interest payments on temporary classrooms are annual costs (and 38K plus interest in my example is 38K+ in annual recurring costs for a fixed period) but the point is, it is not 380,000 per year.

Ed, I don't think we've every met and so I don't know how we could be friends never mind 'good friends.' Are you being sarcastic?

We could be friendly. Let's start there and see how it goes. One thing you could toward that end is keep your comments on point and phrase them so that when you are in agreement with a point made earlier in the comments, it sounds like you are in agreement as opposed to sounding like you disagree:

Furthermore, surplus school buildings that are disposed of can either serve other useful public services -- the Bang's Center is an old school and arguably serving an important function in town ...

Ed said...

First my apologies to this Neil, I thought it was a different Neil.

Second eliminating a plethora of one-time costs will not address it because it would fix the deficit for one year only.

By my math, and taking the Muni yield of 3.19% from Bloomberg (I doubt that Amherst got that good a rate) it comes to just under $40K/year. That is an aide, almost a teacher, for the next eight years or so.

Yes, it is only 4% of the structural deficit, but this stuff adds up! It is the same thing as anyone who is in trouble with credit card bills, all the little stuff makes some very big bills.

The other thing not mentioned is the operational expenses of the portable classrooms. They have, if I am not mistaken, electric heat and that is *very* expensive, moreso in portables because they aren't built to the same insulation codes, can't be in terms of insulated foundations.

So unless UMass is picking up the electric bill, there could be $10/$15K in electric bills. And cleaning bills and maintenance bills and maybe even an extra insurance rider costing money.

And this is just one visible example. Find 20-25 more and you *have* your $100K....

Rick said...

Ed is right that assets sold buys annual saving via less interest costs. But Neil is right too in that 80% of school costs are people, not interest, or other non-people-related costs. So somehow doing more (or the same) with less people is the answer, given that the right answer of raising taxes to get the money we need apparently isn’t going to happen until people start seeing bad things happen (kind of like the banking meltdown is making people wake up to the idea that maybe some regulation is a good thing).

So how can you do the same with less people:

a. Cut teachers and have a higher student/teacher ratio – nope that doesn’t work because teaching quality goes down.
b. Cut SPED staff to have a higher SPED student/staff ratio – nope that doesn’t work because quality of SPED goes down.
c. Cut administrators – sounds good, but guess who does the work that they are doing – teachers. Or quality of services (like guidance) goes down.
d. Merge schools to use people more efficiently. Maybe. That’s the MM debate.
e. Other?

Not a whole lot of options unless you think there are a lot of people standing around doing nothing in the schools. I don’t think so – go have a look.

Take a look at the Amherst Elementary Budget:

Total Budget 2006: $18,455,714
Total Budget 2009: $20,689,430 +12% (about 4%/year)

Health Insurance Cost 2006: $2,214,506
Health Insurance Cost 2009: $3,263,377 +47% (about 15%/year)

Almost half of the total budget increase from 2006 to 2009 was due to health insurance cost increase; not that this is news.

So what balances that off?

Total Salaries 2006: $13,803,355
Total Salaries 2009: $13,716,462


Ed said...

a. Cut teachers and have a higher student/teacher ratio – nope that doesn’t work because teaching quality goes down.

I am not so sure. Teaching quality didn't go UP when we reduced class sizes in the '80s (I am talking statewide) and it took EdReform and accountability -- not smaller classes -- to improve teaching quality.

I am not aware of a single study that shows that smaller class size leads to better educational outcome WHEN YOU ACCOUNT FOR OTHER VARIABLES. It is like the classic example of how most (all) of the people killed in car crashes are licensed drivers driving registered cars, so the unlicensed driver with an unregistered car is safer.

And what, exactly, is the ideal class size? We keep saying smaller is better but if we had some real resaerch we could have a specific number nationwide. I don't think we do...

b. Cut SPED staff to have a higher SPED student/staff ratio – nope that doesn’t work because quality of SPED goes down.

Outcome assessment and responsiblity is BADLY needed in SPED. Further, at some point we are going to have to balance the needs of the one against the needs of the many and realize that we simply can't spend the entire school budget on one kid.

Perhaps an evaluation of SPED is needed - even without a budget crisis. But with the budget shortfall, and with the dramatic runup of SPED costs over the past 2 decades, well perhaps this needs doing.

My gut feeling - and this is just from what I know of other districts, nothing particular to Amherst - it likely would be cost effective to audit EVERY out-of-district placement every year. In most districts, those are the true budget busters.

Anonymous said...

I think I got lost in the shuffle a bit but wanted to bring up something that had not been discussed in anything I've seen.

I'm curious about the questions I raised regarding the two alternative high schools (see previous post)

And at risk of getting a lengthy response from Ed--Amherst did not have the tracking you describe. We had ability grouping in high school and students and parents were free to choose (just as now) which classes to sign up for.

In my experience with the high school we only got rid of basic and standard designations which means we plopped all those kids together into the non advanced and non honors courses. We kept honors and advanced.

And somehow now have two alternative schools--how much does that cost. (see original post)


Ed said...

See NYT OpEd, supra. In order for the NAACP to sue over tracking, it had to exist, in order to "recommended expanding heterogeneous classes" homogeneous (tracked) ones had to exist.

I thought the NAACP well intended but misguided then, and I think it now. Bill Cosby has the answer...

August 30, 1994
Court Found Tracking In Schools Did Harm
To the Editor:

Unlike Montclair, N.J., schools, those in Amherst, Mass., have been sued with some success for tracking, or grouping students by ability. In both systems, how racism is confronted will control whether or not there will be equal-access educational opportunity for minority students.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sued Amherst over the 2-to-1 racial disparity in both the advanced and least advanced groupings. Since whites are not twice as smart as minority students, the disparity reflects legally impermissible in-school segregation. Under a court settlement, a joint committee recommended expanding heterogeneous classes.

In light of data showing racial disparities both within and without special education programs, it seems overdefensive for anyone in Montclair or Amherst to claim this is not a racial issue. WILLIAM A. NORRIS Northampton, Mass., Aug. 23, 1994 The writer, a lawyer, represented the N.A.A.C.P. in the Amherst case.

ed said...

Clarification - that letter was written 15 years ago, the suit the year before (if memory serves). I am *not* talking about last year or even this century....

The question as to why TWO alternative schools is a very valid one.

Ed said...

Two books sections on Amherst school tracking:,M1

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where Ed got his info re: the Bangs Center, was never used as a school building. There were indeed three different schools at/near that site at one time (Kellogg East, Kellogg West, and the old Junior High) but they were all demolished - along with the old Boys' Club - prior to the building of the Bangs Center, whose purpose has always been as a municipal building.

Neil said...

I believe the old Jr. high was the old High School before that. PIC

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Ed seems to think all blogs need his lengthy replies.

My questions were bonafide and I really wanted to bring the my concerns to Dr. Sanderson's attention. I trust that she can determine whether my questions warrant any SC analysis since she is one of our elected officials.


Anonymous said...

This blog needs its own Ed Reform or, in other words, some reforming of Ed. He has a higher word count than Catherine herself.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, Ed. If you have this much to say, start your own blog and if people want to find it and read it, great. Your numerous, lengthy comments to every single posting by Catherine are annoying.

Anonymous said...

Forget blog, Ed now has a newspaper....

Anonymous said...

Ed on tracking....

I enjoyed your blog up until you mentioned the high schoolers not wanting to be riding 'on the back of a garbage truck for a living.'
My father was a 'garbage' truck hauler and then driver. He was a sanitation engineer performing a much needed service for his community. He worked round the clock and raised his family happily and well fed. I am greatly offended by your implication in this statement. I must say it is a typical sentiment of a classist.
'Tracking' found in the Amherst schools most certainly is racial as well as class discrimination under a different name. The middle school still practices it, and whether or not it should continue, a disproportionate number of 'nonwhite' children continue to suffer its consquences. This is fact. This can be debated until the cows come home, but the harm is being done. Tracking begins in pre-school where, as you say, the fourth grade teacher makes decisions just where the child will be be at age 20, s/he begins this path at age 4 and sometimes younger. This is fact. I worked at Head Start where a teacher told me, "All the kids here enter the public schools with an IEP." Individualized Educational Plan. Special Ed bound toddlers...
If all the energy and intelligence in writing these blogs could be directed in saving our at risk youth, our future, it would be a great day to celebrate.
Thank you Ed, but what is wrong with riding/driving a 'garbage' truck anyway??

Ed said...

Bluntly, my parents didn't want me to be a lobsterman. A job colder, dirtier and far more dangerous than that of a garbageman.

This is the point I was trying to make. Maybe I didn't use enough words to make it, but it was the point....