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.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Updated Summary: Regional Meeting 10-12-10

Here is my longer summary of the 4 hour meeting from Tuesday night (as I described briefly in the prior post).

The meeting started with a two-hour meeting with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (the search firm hired to assist with the superintendent search). Two men from HYA presented considerable information about the search process, including time line, potential questions for candidates, and strategies for gathering feedback. This is clearly a very experienced firm (they handled the Newton superintendent search last year), and I was extremely impressed with the amount of information they provided. I encourage people to watch the meeting when they can (it is already being shown on ACTV), but here is a brief summary of the steps:

First, HYA will be in Amherst on October 27th and 28th to meet with various stakeholder groups (e.g., principals, teachers, PGO and School Council members, town government officials, etc.) and individually with each SC member, and to hold a public forum. The goal of this visit is to get information from our community about what we are looking for in terms of characteristics important in a new leader. They will also create a survey that people can complete on line describing such characteristics. This strikes me as really helpful in terms of gathering information from many community members to guide what they are looking for in terms of recruiting a superintendent.

Second, they have recommended that a search committee be created, and the Regional SC approved this idea at the meeting. This committee will consist (per their recommendation) of 8 members: 3 SC members (one chosen by the Pelham SC, one by the Amherst SC, one by the Regional SC), 2 teachers/staff/administrators (1 elementary, one MS/HS), 2 parents (1 elementary, 1 MS/HS), and a town government official. The MS/HS parents and town government officials could be from any of the towns, whereas the elementary parents need to be in either Amherst or Pelham (since the superintendent doesn't supervise the Leverett and Shutesbury elementary schools). This search committee will have a pretty limited role - narrowing the 5 semi-finalists selected by the search firm (based on their belief about who would best fit our needs) to 3 finalists (e.g., eliminating, following interviews, the two candidates that are a less good fit). The SC would then meet with all 3 finalists in public, and ultimately choose the person who was the best fit from these. Information on submitting your name for consideration for inclusion will be posted on the ARPS website soon -- and I encourage all interested parents/teachers/government officials to apply (the SC members chosen to serve on this search committee with chose the specific people for this committee from those who submit their names).

Third, the Search Committee will meet in early January for 2 days to conduct the interviews with the five semi-finalists, and to narrow that down to 3 finalists. The SC will then meet with the three finalists in public (and give them tours, set up meetings with teachers/parents/staff/community members) in mid-January, with the goal of finalizing the selection by January 20th or so.

I am now the only person on the Regional SC or Amherst SC who participated in the last search to hire Dr. Rodriguez (and for the record, I voted for Dr. David Sklarz in that vote), and it is very interesting to me that this search differs so much from the search we did two years ago. One key difference is that last time the SC met in executive session with all 8 semi-finalists (it appears this is certainly illegal to do now, and may well have been illegal to do at the time). Another key difference is that the SC last time reviewed all the applications, and then chose the 8 semi-finalists, whereas now, the search firm is doing the work of narrowing the pool. This strikes me as frankly a very good idea, since this search firm actually had considerable expertise in finding good superintendents and presumably they know what they are looking for.

Next, we turned to the regular Regional School Committee meeting. This meeting started with public comment from several parents and community members: Michael DeChiara (head of Shutesbury SC) opposed the idea of the search firm narrowing the list of semi-finalists to 5, Julia Rueschemeyer presented a petition signed by 97 parents/community members supporting a fair and open superintendent search process for internal and external candidates, Michael Aronson presented a list of qualifications required by the Granby SC in their superintendent search, and Marylou Theilman (former Regional SC chair) supported the use of a fair and open superintendent search in terms of the affirmative action policy and the six-figure salary.

Superintendent Maria Geryk then provided her update on various upcoming events in the district. I'd particularly like to point out the math survey, which families of current students are invited to fill out a brief survey as part of the comprehensive K-12 Math Review (go to, and you will see the link under latest news). Parents are asked to complete the survey by Wednesday, October 27, so please try to make time to do so. They are still working on a date for Andrew Chen to visit Amherst and present his findings, so stay tuned for that -- probably November.

We then turned to new business. This included a brief re-vote of last year's budget (based on the change in how some things are calculated, NOT a change in the overall number), a discussion of school committee norms (including trying not to introduce surprise motions and trying to treat all members with respect), and an update on the transition to the new law firm selected for special education (Amherst and Regional SCs have voted to select a new law firm but Pelham has not done so yet). There was also a discussion regarding budget priorities (largely to avoid having the administrators created budgets that the SC then rejected, as happened last year with the proposal from Mark Jackson to require 3 study halls in the HS), and a discussion of district goals (which should be presented and voted on in the near future). The Regional SC prioritized implementing the recommendations from the special education report, improving teaching effectiveness/instruction/evaluation, and reducing the achievement gap (though Steve noted that really should be raising achievement for all kids, not just reducing the gap). More discussion of these district goals will follow at the next Regional SC meeting, which is next THURSDAY, October 21st.

We then had a few brief updates from various subcommittees, including the policy subcommittee (policies will be presented soon for voting) and the budget subcommittee (a line item budget is being created).

Finally, we had a brief discussion about items for upcoming meetings, which requests to send our ranked list of items to Rick for potential inclusion at a subsequent meeting.


Michael Jacques said...

I certainly was becoming apprehensive about how this whole process of hiring a superintendent was going to shake out. After having watched the first hour of the meeting I am delighted that we hired this search firm. I am impressed by the fact that they recruit as well as advertise. They have the process completely laid out in detail. They answer concerns before they are asked about them, like losing a finalist before we make an offer.

They really guide us through the process from getting community input. Reaching out to candidates, minimizing the search committee's pool (with explanation), orchestrating a finalist interview to a hire without losing candidates, and staying focused on getting the right candidate for the district. They seem very genuinely concerned with not only finding the right person for us but their integrity to carry that out. They are very committed to success. I was very impressed.

Ed said...

May I suggest that the UMass Graduate Student Senate be considered a stakeholder in this -- a significant number of graduate students have children in the schools (the vast majority do *NOT* live in North Village, although all the NVA children would be included in this cadre), the majority of the families speak English as a second language, and their municipal focus is to UMass and not the town's groups.

I think that past failures to do this - in part - is why the Mark's Meadow closure got so nasty.

Anonymous said...

Many teachers in the audience at the meeting were wearing "Ask a Teacher" buttons. Is there a teacher reading this blog who can explain the meaning of these buttons? Was this a union action or a coordinated showing of support for Maria or simply a demonstration of teacher unity?

Anonymous said...

to 9:54 am,

If you were wondering about why teachers were wearing buttons that said "Ask A Teacher", why didn't you...

ask a teacher?

Anonymous said...

"One key difference is that last time the SC met in executive session with all 8 semi-finalists (it appears this is certainly illegal to do now, and may well have been illegal to do at the time)."

Regular Meeting of the Regional School Committee
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 7:00 p.m.
Amherst Regional High School

Present: Michael Hussin, Chair
Elaine Brighty
Catherine Sanderson (left @ 8:32)
Andy Churchill
Kathleen Anderson (arrived @ 7:11)
Michael Katz
Marianne Jorgensen
Thu Do, Student Representative

Al Sprague, Co-Superintendent
Helen Vivian, Co-Superintendent
Diane Chamberlain, MS Assistant Principal
Glenda Cresto, MS Principal
Libby Hurley, MS Assistant Principal
Rob Detweiler, Director of Finance and Operations


Debbie Westmoreland, Recorder

A. Superintendent Search Update—Ms. Mazur reported that there are 22 completed applications for the position of superintendent, including 16 male candidates and 6 female candidates. She noted that she will receive three complete binders of applications from the consultant this Friday, and school committee members can come to the office to review them. Ms. Mazur proposed that an executive session be scheduled for the January 6th Regional School Committee meeting, at which the committee will identify semi-finalists. Confidential semi-finalist interviews can then be scheduled on a Saturday and Sunday in January, preferably either January 17 & 18 or 24 & 25. Ms. Mazur noted that the School Committee will need to stay in executive session until all semi-finalist interviews are completed and finalists are identified. Ms. Jorgensen made a motion to appoint the entire membership of the Regional School Committee and the Pelham School Committee member not assigned to the Region (Kathy Weilerstein) as the screening committee for the position of Superintendent of Schools. Each member (10) of the committee will have one vote. Ms. Brighty seconded and the motion passed unanimously. Mr. Hussin asked Ms. Mazur to email the interview questions from the last superintendent search to members of the committee. Ms. Westmoreland will email a reminder to the committee of the potential dates for the semi-finalist executive session.

Abbie said...

I do find it odd that the only people to see all the applications are NOT the search committee but rather a hired firm. Is this something to do with the requirements of open meeting law?

Would it be possible to proceed as planned, the firm short lists 5, then the search committee examines all the files and then likely concurs with the chosen 5. The firm said it expects around 20 applicants, right? Probably at least 10 of those won't even merit discussion (like most searches). It just feels wrong to have much of the process so hidden and left almost entirely to a firm (ie. the shortlisting). I didn't really understand the justification for this process proposed by the firm (and I did watch most of the mtg via live streaming).

Anonymous said...

I also saw the meeting. The process for getting community input into what we are looking for in a Supt seemed very inclusive. And then, the search firm said, even before receiving ANY community input, that they had already reached out to at least 15 possible candidates!!!! I was very taken aback by this comment and was stunned that no one from the SC even questioned this move by the search firm.

How seriously will the search firm take the community input when they seem ready to move forward with recruiting possible candidates before receiving even ONE piece of community input. I strongly urge the SC to take back some control of this search process and to put the winnowing of applicants to the 5 semi-finalists in the hands of the "Search" Cmte. As a parent of a child in the Amherst schools I am very uncomfortable with an outside firm who appears to have such little regard for public input all but choosing our next Supt. At this point I have no confidence in the process as laid out Tuesday night.

Anonymous said...

"One key difference is that last time the SC met in executive session with all 8 semi-finalists (it appears this is certainly illegal to do now, and may well have been illegal to do at the time)."

"Ms. Mazur proposed that an executive session be scheduled for the January 6th Regional School Committee meeting, at which the committee will identify semi-finalists. Confidential semi-finalist interviews can then be scheduled on a Saturday and Sunday in January, preferably either January 17 & 18 or 24 & 25. Ms. Mazur noted that the School Committee will need to stay in executive session until all semi-finalist interviews are completed and finalists are identified."

What was the logic (it would be inappropriate to use the word "agenda" at this point) behind Ms. Mazur's "proposal", Catherine?

Do you know?

Anonymous said...

I think it's terrible that a well-regarded national search firm well-connected in the educational community is using a selection process that has worked well in other towns and cities. What are they thinking! Worse yet, they already have a list of 15 well-qualified, experienced candidates to lead our schools. What if they actually attract more superintendents and those people apply! What if the search firm uses its knowledge and experience to winnow the pool to the best candidates!!! Then we may face the unthinkable -- having our school committee members hire an experienced superintendent with a successful track record that leads our schools!

Is there any way to stop this normal process!!!

Anonymous said...

hey all citizens with or without children in the schools are stakeholders,.......people without children want a good school system....higher property values.....

Anonymous said...

Normal process in Amherst? NEVER. We're "Unique" don't ya know.

Anonymous said...

Is there any way that we can wire this process so that, no matter how qualified these applicants are, we can get to the predetermined result we're looking for?

You know, the one that is in keeping with how terribly negative you've been and will continue to be no matter what you do or say, and how wonderfully positive we are?

You know the result I'm talking about. Hint: its initial are s.q.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean to tell me the fact that the Supt search firm has already identified 15 candidates for the job before even one piece of community input has been gathered doesn't bother anyone in this blog audience??? If the search firm picks the 5 semifinalists this will be the most closed search for a Supt in over 60 years!!! All of you who are clamoring for a fair and OPEN search are satisfied with this state of affairs?????

Why bother with the facade of seeking community input into who we, as residents of the 4 towns, want in a Supt? Why are we wasting time on a public forum? Why bother with the "search" cmte. (its not really a search cmte, its a winnowing cmte). Why bother with any of this? HYA has already reached out to 15 "candidates", which they will now winnow to 5 to present to us.

If this process is allowed to move forward in this way I will pull all of my kids out of the ARPS. I say again, if the process is allowed to move forward as outlined, this will be the MOST CLOSED Supt search with the least amount of public input in over 60 years.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Mike - I agree the search firm was GREAT. They are so much better than the firm we used last time, and I feel much more comfortable with the process (and thus much calmer about the outcome).

Ed - thanks for the good suggestion. I will suggest ways of doing that type of outreach -- probably Wildwood would be the logical place to start, since that is now where those living in U Mass housing are districted.

Anonymous 9:54 - good question!

Anonymous 6:41 - I think the person who posted that just wanted to know what it meant, and hoped a teacher might respond on my blog. I'm not sure if the person who asked could identify a teacher (e.g., from the audience) to ask.

Anonymous 8:28 - not totally sure why you posted those minutes ... is there a question?

Abbie - the search firm said that candidates are concerned about confidentiality, so knowing that ONLY the 5 finalists are given to the search committee is reassuring to those who don't get chosen. My opinion is that we have a search firm who has a national reputation and has done this a ton, so I don't see any reason not to trust that their 5 choices aren't the best fit for us. From one who was on the search committee two years ago, I would say there really were only 5 or maybe 6 qualified candidates, so I don't think it is the case (sadly) that you get 10 to 15 candidates that are truly qualified AND interested.

Anonymous 10:37 - I guess I really don't understand your point. The search firm is doing massive amounts of recruiting now to make sure there is a sizeable enough pool of people to pre-screen. Then, once they've gathered the names of those who are interested, they will match those qualifications with what comes out of the community forums, and presumably continue gathering more names so that the five they give us are the best match for our needs. But starting now seems like a very, very good way to start building interest in the position and getting as broad a set of applicants as possible.

Anonymous 12:15 - the last time the SC searched for a superintendent (and to the best of my knowledge the times before that), the entire SC served as "the search committee." My understanding is that that is now illegal under MA law (might have also been illegal in 2008). But the last time we did it, the entire SC (or at least those members who chose to participate) spent basically all day Saturday and Sunday meeting with semi-finalists and then chosing the finalists. This time we are using a search committee to do that initial winnowing down.

Anonymous 4:27 - that is pretty much my reaction to the concern some have expressed about taking the advice of a very respected superintendent search firm with considerable experience. Why would we not trust a few people with no experience making these selections instead of this firm with considerable experience?

Anonymous 7:51 - absolutely, good point. I'll be clearer in the future. My mistake.

Anonymous 10:59 - that strikes me as sad, but perhaps true.

Anonymous 12:15 - I actually have no idea what your post means ... but perhaps others well.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anonymous 12:21 - I have no idea why you are concerned that the search firm is already trying to build up interest and increase the applicants for our position ... that is precisely why you hire such a firm. We all benefit if they get as many applicants as possible (200!), so that they can then match these applicants with the qualities identified in the community forums. It is an absolutely misread to say that these are the only 10 to 15 they are going to find (they've had the contract less than 2 weeks!) and they are going to winnow from there.

I also don't see how you can say this is the most closed search ... first, the search committee FOR THE FIRST TIME will not just include SC members. That seems like something you should favor, right? Second, the time the community has input is in choosing from the 3 finalists ... and that is precisely the same number of finalists always seen.

I believe that no one on the SC has any experience in choosing a superintendent, and it is unlikely we will choose parents/teachers who have experience in doing so. The last time the SC picked a superintendent (who, for the record, I did NOT vote for), the person lasted 8 months. That suggests to me that this process really hasn't worked so well.

So, yes, it sounds really good to me to have a national firm recruit MANY qualified candidates, and then select the 5 from that list who are the best fit for our community (based on their years and years of experience), and THEN have community input (including teachers and parents and SC members) in selecting the best 3 from this already very qualified group of 5, and THEN allowing the whole community to have input into which of these three is the best fit for our schools. If this process has worked in many, many other communities, why do we believe that it can't work in Amherst?

Ed said...

The "Ask A Teacher" buttons -- I can't speak to specific motives, but for many the slogan means that only teachers should be permitted to discuss educational policies.

There is an almost religious sense of authority -- that only those running the schools now have the authority to make decisions relative to *policy* (not the implementation thereof) and that everyone else should just shut up.

This is the exact same attitude that George W Bush had -- and exactly what Thomas Jefferson meant when he said that "no government should be without censors and where the press is free, none ever will be."

And there is an attitude amongst some that the community has no other obligation than to simply write blank checks. Well, this is a democratic republic and not Plato's Republic -- and the teachers need to convince us that they are right, not just demand that we humbly worship them.

Logic, not worship...

I intend to think for myself, I have no intent of "asking a teacher" what my thoughts ought to be. We are a community of free people, this isn't a cult where we worship the chosen few...

Anonymous said...

Ed you are so right on the money sometimes...

You have my respect.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! I do believe that Ed is on it about those "Ask a Teacher" buttons.

They are the priesthood in this town. We are merely sheep.

Anonymous said...


Ed jumps (not an unusual event)to a conclusion "for many people ..."
that impugns the motives of the teachers in our schools. Others immediately pile on.
You maintain strict rules about not permitting negative comments on your blog about a named staff member, but you permit comments that indict ALL of them.
It's not clear to me how any of this contributes to a collaborative effort to improve our schools.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My response:

Anonymous 7:55 - Ed expressed his view regarding the motives of teachers, and I didn't read any specific criticism of any teacher (nor did I actually read his comments as particularly critical). I believe Ed is expressing a viewpoint that is held by some in this town -- teachers and others -- that the people currently working on our schools (teachers and administrators) should make all of the educational decisions (not parents, not SC members, not outside experts). Now, you may or may not agree with Ed's view, but I think it does express pretty coherently a view, and I think he raises an interesting idea that actually does contribute to the discussion.

Sam I Am said...


Catherine I am very disappointed in your response to 7:55. Your calling what he wrote a "pretty coherent response" and that you did not read his comments as "particularly critical" really made a negative impression on me.

I know you say "tone does not matter" (although that seems to refer to your tone does not matter, but those with different views are supposed to watch their tone, lest they be deemed attackers).

But for Ed to go off on that type of tangent and paint all of the teachers in this town with such a accusingly negative brush and for you to to defend it as an "interesting point that contributes to the discussion" really shocked and saddened me.

I know you say that you are not in this to make friends, and I generally agree with much of the policy that you support, but reading your response on this one just convinces me that you clearly do not get it.

Sorry, but you lost my vote with this one.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anon 5:54, for saying so clearly what I was thinking. It's been clear to me that Catherine (and I think many of her supporters) just don't get alot of things.

Anonymous said...

So instead of attacking Ed for expressing his opinion and Catherine for not criticizing Ed's and his opinion (who both have the courage to ID themselves) -- why don't you just dispute Ed's position with some reasoning and evidence? This is a perfect example of how people use personal attacks to promote their side rather than sticking to ISSUES.

Anonymous said...

What exactly should I ask a teacher?

Should I ask them why they held the town hostage for their raises last year when so many people were losing their jobs or taking pay cuts. (Remember, UMass employees had contracts with raises in them too, but they lost them.)

Should I ask a teacher why they insist on have a trimester system even though it clearly hurts learning, esp. in foreign languages?

Should I ask a teacher why, in a year they got major raises, they also complain that they need coaches and intervention and professional development money to be able to teach math well?

Should I ask a teacher why asking completely legitimate questions about their job performance is demeaned and dismissed as "teacher bashing"? Should I ask them why they, apparently alone in our society, are above criticism?

I have a lot of questions for teachers, but if I dare ask them I fear my kids will suffer. So, maybe I should remain anonymous and keep my mouth shut, rather than, you know, ask a teacher.

Anonymous said...

"Should I ask a teacher why, in a year they got major raises, they also COMPLAIN (emphasis addeded by this blog poster) that they need coaches and intervention and professional development money to be able to teach math well?"

Complain???? Complain??? Teachers are complaining when they say they need more professinal development, intervention and coaches???? You quite clearly do not have a clue. Yes, the Amherst schools do need to spend more money on these things...the best schools do.

And by the way, all Ed did was attack all teachers in Amherst. Yes, he used his first name, but his post was not based in fact but in suppositions, his suppositions. His post did nothing to further the conversation.

Anonymous said...

I've encountered numerous teachers who were very willing to change their curriculum and/or practices, in small ways and large, based on conversations with me or other parents. I would understand if they felt discouraged, and worse, by Ed's comments and by the comments of those who are quick to defend him.

Anonymous said...

So the Amherst teachers are so wonderful that they should be paid among the highest salaries in the region and should receive substantial raises in a crushing recession (raises that cost homeowners a lot in higher property taxes), but they are not so wonderful as to be capable of learning the math curriculum without costly outside help?

They cannot simultaneously be worth their salaries and raises and not be good enough to know how to teach the subjects we're already paying them good salaries to teach.

Oh, and I will begin to listen to the "the best schools do" argument when we do anything beyond pay our teachers the same as "the best schools do"

The best high schools have semesters.

The best high schools have Physics First or Biology in 9th grade.

The best high schools have more AP classes than ARHS has.

The best elementary schools have MUCH better MCAS scores than ours -- even many with the same class/race/ethnic background as our schools.

The best middle schools don't have independent evaluations like the Beers Report.

The best school systems don't have independent evaluations like the Hammer Report.

The best schools' SPED programs aren't sued as often as ours is.

The best schools are so much better than our schools that you should be embarrassed to invoke them.

We pay the best salaries and benefits, but we are far from having the best schools.

Oh, and I guess my tone is too harsh. Stop reading. Too harsh, too harsh.

Sometimes reality is very harsh.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:59

You seem interested in evidence.

Could you offer your evidence that Anon 7:55 engaged in a "personal attack" on Ed?

Anonymous said...

This is what Ed said: "but for many the slogan means that only teachers should be permitted to discuss educational policies"

So, for stating that he observes that in our system there is a belief held by many [NOT ALL] that only insiders are allowed to have an opinion on what should be done in our schools, he was accused of:

1) frequently jumping to conclusions - "Ed jumps (not an unusual event)to a conclusion"
2) bashing all teachers (by 2 different posts): "that impugns the motives of the teachers in our schools" AND "comments that indict ALL of them"; "But for Ed to go off on that type of tangent and paint all of the teachers in this town with such a accusingly negative brush"

Don't you think it is an attack to accuse someone of being anti-teacher because he stated that there are personnel in our schools who believe that outside people should not be allowed to voice their opinion on what is happening in our schools?

Anonymous said...

When will you learn?

Amherst schools: love 'em or leave 'em.

Ask a teacher.

Anonymous said...

"This is what Ed said: "but for many the slogan means that only teachers should be permitted to discuss educational policies""

And Ed knows this is fact how????? This is the problem I have with his post and many posts here on this blog. People put things out there as fact when they are only, really, their opinion of what the fact is. Or their guess of what is really true.

I hope our schools are teaching critical reading skills better than the education many on this blog seemed to have gotten.

Anonymous said...

"When will you learn?

Amherst schools: love 'em or leave 'em.

Ask a teacher."

Ask administration.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:43

I believe you may be making the same kind of leap that Ed made.

You state the "there are personnel in our schools who believe that outside people SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED (emphasis mine) to voice their opinions on what is happening in our schools".

I think there's a difference between disagreeing with your opinions and denying your free speech rights to them.

Anonymous said...

"This is what Ed said: "but for many the slogan means that only teachers should be permitted to discuss educational policies""

Well, as a parent who has been involved in this district for 9 years, what Ed says does in fact resonate with my observations.

So, why aren't his comments valid? Because he's not an insider?

And, what happened with his comment is typical of what often happens when people register a criticism with the schools. His actual comment gets disregarded, gets twisted into an anti-teacher slogan, and he gets labeled as a "teacher-hater."

And there we are in another "us vs them" battle where nothing gets resolved.

Anonymous said...

What I find amazing is that after Ed's comment on what HE thinks the buttons mean there isn't anything from teachers saying what THEY really mean! Folks are arguing back and forth without getting the actual meaning. Where's Nina? Anyone? Not a single teacher comment?

Anonymous said...

What I would love to ask each and every administrator working for our schools is why aren't you here ~openly~ engaging the public?

I mean, don't you want to be a part of this highly constructive dialogue? Don't you want the public to get to know you by name?
Don't you want the public to get to know what it is you've been doing the last X number of years?
Don't you want the public to know where you stand on the issues?

Or are you being directed not to?

Anonymous said...

Why does anyone on this blog thing that any teachers actually read this blog anymore????? And if they do, why do you think they would waste the time posting anything here? So their posts can be slammed and attackd ad nauseum?

Anonymous said...

Again I ask, why would any administrator use this blog to get to know people???? This is a highly slanted blog, not that there's anything wrong with that. But why would an administrator use such a highly slanted blog to talk to anyone? I know I wouldn't if I was either a teacher or an administrator.
Speaking of administrators reaching out to get to know the public, I think Maria Geryk is doing a great job doing just her own way and without needing to use anyone's blog to do it.

Anonymous said...

The silence is deafening.

Anonymous said...

If Obama can go on Fox News, and he has, our teachers and administrators can go on this blog, which really isn't slanted.

To be fair, Catherine is much more balanced in what she writes than her opponents believe. They have a pretty tough time finding the actual bad tone she's so often accused of having.

Still, the point is that our very highly paid HS principal and superintendent have an obligation to speak publicly to everyone -- including those with whom they disagree.

Anonymous said...

And there we are in another "us vs. them" battle where nothing gets resolved."

Where, exactly, is one of the primary battlefields where nothing gets resolved?

And some wonder why some voices have withdrawn from that unproductive battlefield!

Anonymous said...

In light of the last few posts, I would suggest that Ask A Teacher might mean more Talk to a Teacher. In other words, talk to someone in person rather than expecting them to blog with you, especially on this site.

There is so much talk here about what goes on in the schools, but I am not sure how much of it is by people who actually are currently involved in the schools, and who take advantage of the opportunity to go see what is going on. (Parents are quite welcome at our schools)

For example, I certainly know many current parents that are quite happy with the middle school. They (and the teachers there) are probably way too busy to waste their time and energy on this blog.

Someone wrote "the silence is deafening" I believe to refer to teachers and administrators not taking the time to write here. Personally I am glad my kids teachers are not spending their time spinning their wheels here, but are focusing on teaching my kids.

Just saying....

Anonymous said...

"Still, the point is that our very highly paid HS principal and superintendent have an obligation to speak publicly to everyone -- including those with whom they disagree."

I don't know what the HS principal but I do know that the Supt has coffees at all the schools where she is happy to meet with ALL parents. One can also make an appt to meet individually with her. Our Supt has never intimated that she does not want to meet either publicly or in private with those who disagree with her. She is just not going to do it on this blog. And again I say, why do you think she will or should? This is not a place to have any kind of legitimate discussion or conversation about anything.

Tom Porter said...

I attended the parent Open House nights at both ARHS and Fort River. At both events, Teachers were easy to identify because they all wore these buttons.

I assumed that it was a simple, friendly and "customer service" type of common-sense idea, so that confused parents might quickly get an answer: "Has the deadlin to drop a class passed?" _"Where's classroom C-26?" "Where's the ladies' room?"

Could it be - COULD IT BE?? - that there's nothing more to it than this?

I want to know you said...

"This is not a place to have any kind of legitimate discussion or conversation about anything."

Actually, it is and has been EXACTLY the place for it.

Come, meet the people who fund your salaries.

Come, where everything is in the open.

It's your very obligation to let us know you.

Anonymous said...

No one is under any obligation to do or say anything on this blog or any blog or to engage with anyone on this or any blog. Even teachers and administrators are exempt from any obligation to engage on this blog.

Anonymous said...

It strikes me as odd that someone would refer to this blog as slanted. It seems to me that all views are welcome here - and I have read many different viewpoints on many different topics. Does the fact that negative viewpoints are expressed here make this blog slanted? If not, what is it that makes this blog so slanted? Why can't the people who know the REAL answers set everyone straight on this slanted blog?

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My response:

The point of this blog is three-fold: I share my views/present information, I respond to questions/comments/suggestions from anyone who posts, and I allow others to post whatever they want (as long as they don't criticize by name a district employee). If people find it useful to learn what I think, or discuss things with me, or discuss things with others, that's great. If this type of information/dialogue isn't useful to you, obviously you don't have to read my blog.

My goal is to be transparent and communicative about what I'm thinking and why. This blog allows me to do that, and whether you agree or disagree with my positions, I guarantee that you know more about me (what I think and why, what I'm going to do or did and why) than anyone else on the SC right now. It seems to me that this information should be really useful to people in the community, and I'm glad that at least some people have found my blog to be a useful place to engage in this type of dialogue/interaction.

Ed said...

Good Lord! Sometimes you just have to shake your head in utter amazement.

First, this is what I wrote: "I can't speak to specific motives, but for many the slogan means that only teachers should be permitted to discuss educational policies."

In other words, I haven't a clue as to why these particular teachers were wearing them, but for many in the educaiton profession (which I am in, and a fourth generation member of), they tend to mean (in the larger generic concept that goes far beyond this little town) that only teachers should be discussing education policies.

Not practices, not implementation of policy, but policy itself. And there is a big difference between that and teaching. And I am talking profession, nationally, not ARSD.

What really surprised me is that no one said why he/she/it was wearing a button, what it actually meant to that person. Instead, we all attack Ed.

It is like the Question Authority bumper stickers -- there is a general understanding as to what it means, but if you mean something else, you kinda gotta be up front and tell people that, lest they think you mean what it usually means...

It would be like wearing a Swastika on your clothing -- you well may be wearing it because of Buddhist or Native American religious reasons, but unless you explain that, folk are gonna think you are a Nazi...