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.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three (Somewhat Random) Updates

I am doing a quick post tonight to just update my blog readers on three things.

First, there is a Regional School Committee meeting tonight (Tuesday, June 22nd) from 6 to 10 pm in Town Hall. However, this meeting will consist entirely of interviews with law firms -- the first time we've conducted a review of legal services and interviewed different firms (including our current firm) in 15 or 20 years. Members of the public are welcome to come and see the interviews and provide feedback to the School Committee. I believe the next Regional SC meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 29th, and that the regionalization report will be presented this evening.

Second, I'm attaching a link to a Gazette story on an increase in athletic fees at ARHS http://gazettenet.com/2010/06/19/amherst-oks-10-percent-hike-sports-fees. I abstained from this vote because I am concerned that we continue to raise athletic fees (this is the third increase in three years), and that we seem to treat athletics differently from other extracurricular activities (e.g., music, drama, afterschool clubs, etc.).

Third, my interview with the Student News is now available to see anytime on ACTV (http://204.213.244.104/Cablecast/Public/Show.aspx?ChannelID=1&ShowID=5726). I want to express my real appreciation to the producers of Student News for inviting me to interview, and for airing a very long interview with me (entirely unedited). I am always glad to talk about our schools, and the interviewer was professional, courteous, and extremely well-prepared. At the end of the interview, there is an additional piece in which two members of the Student News staff criticize a few of my statements and imply that I'm being a bit dishonest in some ways. I do wish that the producers had either asked me those questions initially, and/or invited me back to the studio to respond directly, so that I would have had an opportunity to clarify any issues with my interview. If any of my blog readers have questions about these issues that were raised, I would be glad to answer them here - so ask away!

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Student News interview was very very well done. I was very impressed with how well prepared the interviewer was and with the questions and follow-up questions that she asked.

Oh, and you did a good job too, Catherine!! :)

Anonymous said...

I wish you had voted no on the athletic fees instead of abstaining. It is hard for middle income folks to pay for the fees, buy their own equipment and then pay to watch your own child play in games!

Anonymous said...

I also heard a HS parent comment on the fact that they have to PAY to get into games -- after paying high fees, equipment costs, etc! That does seem insensitive to families on moderate incomes. Families could be given 1 free pass so that at least one parent could attend games for free.

Lauren said...

You describe music and drama as extracurricular and put them in the same category as sports and clubs. Music and drama are part of the curriculum at the high school. The performing arts department as a whole (including dance and chorus) is an invaluable part of the ARHS curriculum, community and climate. Your strong support for the music program is appreciated and I hope that you accept this clarification in the spirit in which it's made. And I hope we see you at ARHS performing arts events in the coming school year!
Thank you.

ARHS Parent said...

Paying for athletics is hard enough. What is more difficult for our family to tolerate is the fact that other kids can join the dance ensemble, best buddies, Latin club, and many other great after-school activities for FREE while ours pay full-price for athletics. Why doesn't the same fee structure apply to both?

I know we keep hearing that there is no funding for clubs and we constantly get a huge push for fundraising from parents to cover those costs. Why instead don't the parents whose kids participate in clubs pay for them? Those whose kids aren't in athletics might not realize that a huge amount of fundraising goes into athletics too and often the parents who have already paid end up buying the leftover raffle tickets, etc. I resent the constant solicitations on school-sponsored announcements to send in money to support school clubs. I would like to see a equal treatment of ALL after-school activities, whether they are athletics, dance troupes, school plays, language or cultural clubs, or music groups. It just makes sense.

Ed said...

Amherst screams social justice from the rooftops.

Why can't athletic fees be based on income? This would be socially just - and not all that hard to do. Just post a scale relative to income and anyone who wants to get the fee reduced can bring in their documentation.

Now I have a flip side view on this, my high school "sport" was extemporaneous speaking. And even though I was ranked 13th in the entire state, I didn't get a letter or anything else -- and we had to round up volunteers with cars to get to events.

My point: *if* athletics are going to be higher profile than other events, then it is fair (not equitable but "fair") to have them charged differently as well.

Anonymous said...

Amherst needs sports fees to pay the 6 figure AD salary.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Jessie Chason-Tabar, Joshua Wolfsun and Ali Cherrington did a wonderful job in presenting your interview on their "Student News" show. I also enjoyed hearing you speak at length on current issues. Your presentation was informative and persuasive. Can you respond to their two follow up points: 1. You implied very little time was being used by the Amherst and Regional Committee on the Union 26 Issue, in lieu of other issues. Earlier in the interview you indicated much time has been spent in subcommittee investigating the issue. Your blog would indicate that you are passionate and committed to this issue. Which is it? Little time, or substantial time, given the importance you feel this issue holds? 2. You implied that you want to involve students in the committee's work, but the students replied that they have had little opportunity to give input or have not been looked to as a resource. How to you plan to change this?

Nina Koch said...

The fees are scaled. Families who qualify for free or reduced lunch pay a lower fee than families who do not qualify:

athletic fees

Anonymous said...

What, oh what what what is the "AD Salary" of six figures???

Anonymous said...

Ed,
Amherst does have athletic fees based on income. The reduced lunch fee is a little less than half of the original fee, and the free lunch fee is half of the reduced fee.

The scale is a link on this page:
http://www.arps.org/hs/
Sports/Registration/

Baer Tierkel said...

Here's a blog post by the Student News producers regarding the episode with Catherine:
http://riverwolfproductions.org/studentnews/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=33:journalism-facts-and-duty

Anonymous said...

That discussion after the interview looks like an attempt to take what Catherine has said out of context, and to take cheap shots at her. I don't care what you say Baer, it looks biased. Why am I not surprised?
akab

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you abstained on the athletic fee increase if you are concerned about the increase in and its impact on students? Why not vote against? You seem to abstain on many votes that you're opposed to, and I'm not sure if it's a political strategy or something else. Thanks for giving us clarification.

Anonymous said...

You haven't posted any comments about the Special Education Review presented at June 16th meeting or anything that occurred at that meeting. It gives the impression that you have no interest in Special Education since you've made several posts about the Union 28 agreement, your interview and other updates. I would like to see some of your attention and energy focused on the most vulnerable children. Now that would be social justice.

Anonymous said...

I understand how deeply Wolfsun and Company want to make the adults, and specifically my choice of words as in the admonition to "grow a set". (My guess is that this is not the worst to pass by Mr. Wolfsun's tender ears.) But their fairness and, yes, their courage in pursuing it face-to-face with the "politician", as he artfully designates Ms. Sanderson, is the issue.

I ask anyone to look at the Follow-up and decide whether that was "fact checking". You will notice the imaginative leap that Mr. Wolfsun does at the end in which he associates certain remarks made by Dr. Beers (and the laughing response to it in the meeting room) SOMEHOW to Ms. Sanderson. Try to figure that one out.

Let's remember how Ms. Sanderson's interview actually got on the air: through a certain amount of public pressure. Those of us applying the pressure were taking these young people seriously AS ADULTS and AS JOURNALISTS.

So, if Mr. Wolfsun has a complaint with adults in the community not taking students seriously, it's not with people like me and Ms. Eden and Ms. Sanderson. But what they are calling "facts", I am seeing as "opinions", and their inability to recognize the difference, even at their young age, is disturbing.

And, Mr. Wolfsun, I understand that you get a lot of mileage out of labelling people and thereby diminishing what they have to say. So the fact, sir, that I am a "Springfield attorney" is irrelevant to this discussion. I am a consumer of news in Amherst, where you and your colleagues are playing a very large role. In my living room.

It's time to play fair with the subjects you cover.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

Proofreading error: Make that "I understand how deeply Wolfsun and Company want to make certain adults the issue."

Sometimes I type too fast.

The argument is about fairness. That's it. And kids or, if you will, young adults, don't get a waiver.

I plead guilty to taking them seriously.

Rich Morse

Ed said...

The reduced lunch fee is a little less than half of the original fee, and the free lunch fee is half of the reduced fee.

First, for purpose of reference, free lunch is no income at all to 130% of the poverty level, reduced is 130% to 180% of the poverty level. And while this is from MassHealth, it gives an idea what the poverty level is: http://www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs/masshealth/deskguides/fpl_deskguide.pdf

Second, if you look at the HUD data on Amherst, there are a lot of children at 20% and 50% of the poverty level -- if they are over age 5 and under age 18, and living in Amherst, they are likely in the Amherst schools...

And third, it is the middle class that are being squeezed. That is where the tea party movement came from, that is where Obama's 2008 victory came from, that is the real issue here.

So - if one believes in social justice - I see something far more progressive than the existing fee schedule. I see a fee starting at ONE dollar (not zero and there are reasons for that) and then going much higher at the other end.

Bear in mind that some of the kids with free lunches are at 129% of the Poverty Level, and some are at 29% of it -- and there is a very big difference here....

And also bear in mind that the Mass Health Connector subsidizes the health insurance of people up to 300% of the poverty level -- the kids at 181% of the poverty level are neither rich nor showing up on anyone's radar.

Hence the current arrangement is overly simplistic, using determination levels that were neither intended nor appropriate for it.

Anonymous said...

We do have a sliding scale for athletics fees which I think is great. Why do we not have the same fee scales for other extracurricular activities? They require materials, a paid adult supervisor, space, and sometimes even transportation. Plus, athletics seasons are only for 1/3 of the year while many extracurricular activities last for the entire school year. Has there been any discussion about charging fees for these activities? If not, what is the justification for charging for athletics? Is it really the AD's salary?? If so, how do other, similar-sized schools charge for athletics and/or their AD?

Ed said...

One other thing on athletics -- from the "Chemical Health Policy Agreement" is this gem ...students shall not use, consume, possess, buy or give away any alcoholic beverage, steroids, marijuana or any other controlled substances.

http://www.arps.org/hs/Sports/Registration/ChemicalHealthPolicy.doc

Now I know what it is intended to mean, and I agree with its intent, but that is not what it says -- and that is problematic because a "controlled substance" includes everything for which a doctor writes a prescription. Wiki says: "A controlled substance is generally a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession, and use are regulated by a government."

For example, antibiotics. There hasn't been the "Great Amoxicillin Bust" because law enforcement has its priorities, but anything for which a prescription is required is, by definition, a "controlled substance" -- even if it isn't a "Scheduled" substance.

We aren't even talking about things like psych meds here, most of which are Schedule II or Schedule III, we are talking about things that parents nonchalantly give their children for physician-approved therapeutic reasons.

Suzie's cat scratches her and her doctor prescribes a week of penicillin to clean up what is starting to look like a nasty infection. We are going to call her a druggie and kick her off the team?!?!?

No, I am not going to trust the judgment of the school department, you don't have policies that say stupid things like this. Instead you put in a dependent clause "excepting those prescribed by a medical professional and taken as directed."

And the other reason why you put that in there is ADA -- Suzie's infected arm makes her a person with a temporary disability and she has the right not to be discriminated against in anything that she is otherwise qualified for. And this also includes the kids with the psych drugs (which, when appropriate, we do want the kids to be taking if for no other reason than to avoid SPED expenses), and the few kids bravely confronting serious illnesses.

And if you do boot Suzie off the team, and I have seen administrators do stupider things (I have seen UMass administrators do far stupider things, you are defending an OCR complaint (something UMass does with frequency) and that costs you a lot of time and money.

http://ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html

I think this policy is important, I just think it needs to be written correctly. Would we prefer to see Suzie's arm amputated because she refused to take the prescribed antibiotics because the ARSD rule said she had to????

lise said...

Clubs generally use empty classroom space, few if any materials, and a single adult supervisor. Sports often, but not always, require special facilities, expensive equipment, multiple adult supervisors and expensive transportation to away games. As a result I would assume that the cost per participant is much higher for athletics than for other activities. I am not saying it needs to be charged that way - but there is probably a significant cost differential.

Ed said...

Sports often, but not always, require special facilities, expensive equipment, multiple adult supervisors and expensive transportation to away games.

Lets add in a few other things: the football team has far more injuries than the chess team - there is exposure to liability (and need of insurance), there are training needs, there are medical needs (they don't have ambulances on standby at the state forensic championships, but usually do at major athletic events).

Second, you have Title IX compliance issues that you don't have with co-ed clubs. OCR policy is that you have to have a female athlete for every male athlete (at least in higher ed and I don't see how K-12 would be any different) and thus the cost of the football team is not just everyone on it, but the additional cost of somehow getting a girl playing some other sport to meet your quota.

(I have always wondered why OCR ignores the fact that (nationwide) many of the clubs are predominantly female and not raise the equal Title IX issue of lack of club opportunities for boys...)

Third, to what extent do the sports drain the general PE curriculum budget? It is not like the debate club is draining the English budget, not like those who aren't involved aren't going to be given books to read and such. But sports often does this to the PE budget, the new basketballs going to the team, the old ones to the classes, etc.

And fourth, what gets "the glory & the girls?" The simple fact is that you can charge for sports and not for clubs because of people wanting to make the sports teams, while the clubs always doing their recruiting.

And fifth -- and Catherine, this would be nice to post -- what is the compensation to the coaches and club advisors? Compensation consisting of (a) pay, (b) release time from teaching/admin duties, (c) perks such as nice meals at banquets, travel to conferences & such, and (d) protection from RIF/layoff.

Sports as we currently have them are really expensive -- they constitute giving a few kids a really good physical education at the expense of the majority. Clubs aren't that way and I don't have a problem treating them differently (unless clubs are that expensive, hence my request for an analysis of compensation to coaches and advisers).

Anonymous said...

Ed,
Just so you don't accuse Amherst of writing the controlled substance statement, it's taken almost word for word from the MIAA handbook, page 55, which says

"a student shall not, regardless of the quantity, use, consume, possess, buy/sell, or give away any beverage containing alcohol; any tobacco product; marijuana; steroids; or any controlled substance"

So I think you should complain to the MIAA on their poor wording, as I'm sure Amherst just used their handbook as the guideline. Or tell them that Amherst committed plagerism by copying their handbook without citation.

Nina Koch said...

The athletic director does not make six figures, although she does make over $90,000. She is an administrator in the school, so her salary is similar to that of an assistant principal. She has a significant amount of responsibility in her job, including the health and safety of a large number of kids.

Running an interscholastic sports team is considerably more expensive than running a club, as Lise pointed out. The stipends for coaches are much higher than they are for club advisors and there are more adults involved with a team, along with all of the non-salary expenses. A club may consist of one adult paid $500 for the year. The school pays no other costs. As most of you know, the Parent Center raised the money this year to pay the club advisor stipends.

I think it is reasonable to ask if there should be some kind of participation fee for clubs and let the school justify why there should or should not be such a fee. This would be a good question to bring up at School Council.

Nina Koch said...

sorry I forgot to include the link to compensation information:

Employee Contract

The club advisors and coaches are around page 30 of the Unit A contract.

Ed said...

The athletic director does not make six figures, although she does make over $90,000.

And when you include the benefits that the district pays for, which well could be $10,000 when you include state retirement and family health plan, this does become a 6-figure salary.

Nina, facts matter. And it is not what she "makes" as much as what she "costs us" -- I met a guy from Georgia who appears to have a great idea, pay police officers a straight salary with no retirement or health benefits - also paying them about half of what you would be paying for that - and, apparently, the cops *love* this deal.

Notwithstanding this, it is what the AD costs the ARSD that is her salary, not what she makes before taxes, nor what she makes after taxes...

Ed said...

Just so you don't accuse Amherst of writing the controlled substance statement, it's taken almost word for word from the MIAA handbook

That defense was attempted at Nuremberg some 65 years ago, it didn't work then and won't work now! The fact that "everyone else is doing it" is not only a cowardly defense but irrelevant - if we aren't going to accept it from drunken UMass undergrads, why should we accept it from anyone else?

I really don't care if the Jolly Green Giant wrote the policy. The simple fact remains that (a) Amherst has an illegal policy that socially-just persons should be objecting to because it is illegal, (b) a policy that enables bullies (both students and teacher/admins) to exploit kids, (c) there is the very real possibility that kids (and/or their parents) will avoid needed medical therapy because of this policy which then is statistically likely to have double-un-plus-good consequences and (d) it will be the Amherst RSD and NOT the MIAA that gets sued for this policy.

Bluntly, you could have a girl who really needs to be on the anti-depressants and she (and her mother) could well wind up deciding to not to go that route because of this policy. And when she then kills herself, do you want to have her blood on your hands?

The MIAA (or the Principal's Association) isn't going to step in to accept blame and you are thus going to be in the same situation as the folk in South Hadley, with the tragic death of a young girl and no good explanation as to why she is in a body bag.

And the question I bluntly ask is "is it worth it?" I will make no secret as to my position - if it can possibly save a kid's life, I am all for writing an extra dozen words into a policy... Bluntly, can you live with the potential consequences of not doing this???

Is Amherst a "socially just community" or isn't it?!?!?!?!?!

I am probably to the political right of just about everyone else in this town, but *I* don't want to see some high school kid dead because of a stupid and poorly worded policy. A policy that doesn't also clearly state that "if your doctor says you need to do something, you best be doing it, and we aren't going to punish you for doing so."

I have helped lug body baskets, it is not on my list of all-time fun things that I have done, and if we revise this policy and the girl (or boy) still winds up dead, we can say that we did everything we could have. And unless you have been in a situation of physically lugging body baskets, you aren't going to appreciate what it means to *you* to be able to honestly say that you did everything you possibly could to prevent this tragedy.

I am not saying that we are going to wind up with a dead kid if we don't fix this. What I can say is that I have consistently told undergraduates that going out into a snowstorm, with a vehicle that has bald tires, while drunk out of your mind, is not a good idea. And when I have had to go to a student funeral, it hasn't bothered me because *I* knew that I had done everything I possibly could....

Folks, like they say to police officers relative to high-speed pursuits, "this isn't worth it."

And why *not* "fix" it??????

WHY????

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Morse was way out of line using such language - with adults or teens in our community. His defense of his behavior as "fair" because he was just "treating them like an adult" strangely proves the point. I wonder how he would feel if an adult in this community used that language with his own daughter?

I watched the show for the first time when Catherine's interview was on. The interview was thorough and as with other interview shows, the editors had the last word. You might not like their last word but they get to have it. That's the way media works. Just like this blog. It's their news show, they get final say. I don't think the teens of Student News are the ones that need to "grow a pair".

And Catherine, I thought you were very good!

Anonymous said...

Nina,

I believe the ADs salary will go to 103K with the COLA in less than 7 days. You would think that the School would be able to provide exact numbers on their employees’ salaries.

The discussion many times revolves around equality in Amherst. It would be interesting to see the "responsibility" (measured based on budget, work hours, complexity of job and personnel supervised) vs pay for School and Town officials. Although some will say that teaching the next generation is priceless.

Alison Donta-Venman said...

Out of curiosity, I looked up the athletic fees of surrounding towns for which I could find information on their web sites. This is what I found:

Amherst: $231 or $193 depending on the sport; same charge for subsequent sports with an individual cap of $522 and a family cap of $1,100. Reduced lunch costs are $92 and $77 and free lunch costs are $46 and $41

Northampton: $150 for the first sport, $120 for the second and $90 for the third with a $600 family cap. This is the only other district that seems to charge for those with financial constraints. the cost for those on reduced lunch are $30, $20, and $10 and there is no cost for those on free lunch. (Interestingly, this is the district we are most often compared to. We have a higher per-pupil cost than Northampton but also higher athletic fees.)

Hadley: no athletics fees

Frontier: $100 for the first sport, $80 for the second, and $70 for the third. Fee waiver available for those with financial hardship.

Hampshire Regional: $90, $90, and $45 with no cost listed for reduced/free lunch.

Belchertown: $100 for each sport; fee waiver available for those with financial hardship.

As a family, we personally pay a lot for athletics in our system and I do think the fees are high. Especially since there is also a lot of mandatory fund-raising that also goes on. What is even more striking to me, however, is how much it costs our kids on free/reduced lunch to play sports compared to surrounding districts.

Catherine, do you have any information on the demographic breakdown of athletes (in terms of race, ELL, free/reduced lunch) compared to the demographics of the student body as a whole? Our athletics program is fabulous and it would be unfortunate if some kids are not able to play because of finances.

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Morse was way out of line using such language - with adults or teens in our community.

I disagree. I just re-read it and find nothing wrong with it. And, frankly, one is more out of line being patronizing and dismissing them because of their youth.

His defense of his behavior as "fair" because he was just "treating them like an adult" strangely proves the point. I wonder how he would feel if an adult in this community used that language with his own daughter?

When children do adult things, they get held to adult standards. Case in point involves the operation of motor vehicles.

the editors had the last word. You might not like their last word but they get to have it. That's the way media works.

No, the audience gets the last word. And if the editors go too far, they find themselves editing something that no one watches anymore.

And I agree with Mr. Morse about it being scary how even Gen Y (let alone whatever we are going to call this generation) can't make the distinction between opinion and fact.

Nina Koch said...

Actually, the athletic director has been cut back from full year to school year, so her salary will be going down. I think that the responsibilities here might be different than in other towns, because our A.D. is an administrator involved in the supervision and evaluation of teachers in certain departments.

The athletics program made significant cuts for FY11 and if I remember correctly, they have been charged with trying to come up with something like $100K through fundraising. I'm not sure how they plan to do the fundraising, but it is going to be a big job. I understand that often the fundraising becomes another expense for parents, in addition to what they pay in fees and what they pay to attend events. I agree it can get pretty costly, as with so many other aspects of raising a child.

I guess it's debatable as to whether schools should offer interscholastic sports programs and I suppose there may come a day when we don't do that any more. I will be sad to see that day come. Every season we have something like three or four hundred kids playing on teams. I'm really happy they have that opportunity.

Ed said...

1 of 2

"I am... for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents." --Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. ME 10:78

First, remember who Elbridge Gerry was - elected MA Governor in 1810, he lost his 1812 re-election bid due to this cartoon:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Gerry-Mander_Edit.png But that would be 12 years in the future...

Second, remember that Washington's warning about "factionalism" was directed at a real issue: Adams and Jefferson were splitting with Adams taking control of the Federalist Party with Jefferson forming the Democratic/Republican party (of which Gerry became a member).

Third, remember that the Election of 1800 (often called "The Revolution of 1800") was when Jefferson defeated Adams - with Adams then appointing Marshall to SCOTUS and everyone he could think of to anywhere he could.

In 1803, this schism would get to the point where SCOTUS Justice Samuel Chase would be impeached (but not convicted) for what he said to the Baltimore Grand Jury.

Fourth, remember that talk of secession first started in Massachusetts, not South Carolina, and got to the point in 1803 where Massachusetts almost did secede, where but for the negotiations of Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and then-President Jefferson, this state would have left the union.

And fifth, remember the infamous (and quite unConstitutional) Alien & Sedition Acts were in effect at the time - the Federalists were arresting anyone who wrote anything they didn't like, and the trials were openly partisan farces in front of Federalist judges. (This was part of why Chase got impeached 4 years later.)

(Not that Jefferson was innocent in all of this - alleging libel, he would later throw the editor of the Hartford Courant into jail.)

(continued)

Ed said...

(2 of 2)

Now Ed does have a point here - and it is very much relevant to the Amherst Schools: Jefferson's point here is that people are going to criticize the government, sometimes unjustly, and that you don't just throw them into jail to silence them. Instead, you respond to them with "Reason" - in the 19th Century, Enlightenment Era meaning of the word.

You don't just throw them in jail like Adams was doing - Ben Franklin's grandson died in jail.

And to all the employees of the various Amherst school configurations I say one thing: Listen to what Jefferson is saying here! You do not use "force" to silence unjust criticism of you. You don't throw your critics into jail, you don't shout them down, you don't violate their civil rights (i.e. violations of the Constitution).

Even when responding to truly illegitimate criticism, this won't work -- all you do is create legitimate criticism in the process. In trying to silence his critics, Adams lost the election (and while the Hartford Convention helped, also destroyed the Federalist Party).

And folks, in trying to silence the criticism of the Amherst Schools, you are destroying the legitimacy you have. In trying to silence review of the Amherst/Pelham Union, you are convincing people that it needs to go.

What you have to do - and what Jefferson is really telling Gerry here - is respond with logic and facts. If the athletic director's total cost isn't 6 figures, then point out exactly how much we are paying for her (not how much she is getting paid) - respond with reason. Respond with facts.

I was disgusted with what I saw a UMass administrator and a UMass professor do at a recent meeting of the Amherst School Committee. UMass students are routinely sent to the (UM's Behavioral Intervention Team) for far less!

If you think that Amherst should remain in the union, you RESPOND WITH REASON. You don't attempt to disrupt a public meeting by shouting insults, you don't just go off on off-topic attacks on people's character, you don't engage in "behavior that distinctly and directly affects the University community".

And that last clause - it is from the UMass Undergraduate Code of Student Conduct. Yes, the students get into trouble for doing exactly what you did.

And how, exactly, are the attempts to silence Catherine's blog any different than what the Federalists were doing two centuries ago?

Not that education isn't important, but Jefferson was writing to someone who was dealing with things like a very real secession movement and a political movement that was literally throwing the bloggers of that era into jail.

If his advice was valid at that level, it clearly is valid at this. Respond with REASON!!!

Anonymous said...

anon @ 11:28 AM - You make some good points about fees for sports and other extracurricular activities. I think it would be appropriate to focus on direct costs only such as transportation and not fixed costs like rooms, lighting, wrestling mats, coaches, athletic director.

The school starting charging fees for sports as the school budget was first under pressure in order to allocate some costs to participants in fairness to non-participants.

If you looked at the numbers, I think you'd see that transportation, equipment, ice time and lift tickets are the big costs and much bigger than the costs associated with many of the non-athletic extra-curricula. Nonetheless, the idea of charging a participation fee would help finance costs associated with participation and allocate costs to those who participate. I think these fees would be much smaller compared to level one sports.