Now that my semester is over (well, at least the teaching part of it -- not yet the grading part of it), I'm catching up on assorted articles that I believe will be of interest to my readers. Enjoy!
Here's a late one from the Amherst Bulletin (November 19th) on the Amherst School Committee's discussion about the math report (http://amherstbulletin.com/story/id/189682/). Data presented by Steve Rivkin at this meeting noted in particular the problems low income children in our schools are having with math compared to low income children in other districts. For those interested in elementary math, please come (or watch) the Amherst School Committee meeting this Tuesday (12-21, 7 pm, Amherst Town Hall), in which math is once again on the agenda!
I'm also attaching a more recent piece from the Amherst Bulletin (also featuring a discussion at an Amherst School Committee meeting) in which Steve presented data on the relative salaries paid to administrators in Amherst versus Northampton (http://www.amherstbulletin.com/story/id/190998/). As noted in this piece, Amherst has more administrators (e.g., we have assistant principals at the elementary level whereas Northampton does not), and we pay our administrators substantially more. Although interim superintendent Geryk notes that these differences are hard to compare because we are a regional district, I'm not clear why this is relevant (e.g., do our principals in MS and HS have different responsibilities because these schools include kids from 4 towns?).
The most recent Amherst Bulletin also included an examination of the issue of whether study halls in our high school should count as instruction time (http://www.amherstbulletin.com/story/id/192070/). I've certainly heard concerns from parents about having their children spend time in study halls, and I'm very glad that a majority of the Regional School Committee voted to recommend the elimination of mandatory study halls last spring. I continue to be concerned that other high schools haven't had such a requirement, whereas our students have had to take one or two study halls each year (a point Rob Spence made at the last meeting).
Finally, there was a brief story about the leave of absence taken by Fort River principal Ray Sharick (http://www.gazettenet.com/2010/12/15/fort-river-principal-indefinite-leave). As I stated in the article, I hope all is well with Ray and his family and believe that privacy is deserved. Fortunately, there are now definite plans for his return in January (http://www.gazettenet.com/2010/12/17/return-date-set-amherst-principal).
One more note: I plan to post my December Education Matters column and two different views (one by middle school teacher Jamison Isler, one by Jim Oldham) in the next day or two. Since these three are all opinion pieces, I wanted to discuss these in a different post than the news stories.
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.