As New Rochelle High School Graduation Day Approaches Ask “What Are We Celebrating?”

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DA913ABA-D1D2-47FD-814E-ED00226371BC.jpgOn Wednesday, June 15, 2009 over 600 New Rochelle High School students will march in a graduation ceremony and receive — an empty folder. One of the school district’s “dirty little secrets” is that none of the students marching tomorrow will actually receive a diploma because many of the students marching will not have earned a diploma but are being allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony anyway. Rather than damage their self-esteem or cause them to feel less important than those who actually earned a diploma, they are being allowed to participate based on a “promise” that at some point after June they will complete missing courses and pass required state exams. Based on the New York State Report Cards, no one is keeping track of how many students march in the graduation and then failed to make good this “promise”.

Although the final figures will not be available until September or October, from recent past experience, we know that of the approximately three fourths of New Rochelle High School’s senior class who have actually earned a diploma only about 80% of the graduating seniors will receive Regents diplomas. In other words just 60% of the senior class of NRHS will “graduate” with Regents diplomas tomorrow.

If this is what the New Rochelle Board of Education calls an excellent school I shudder to think what a failing school looks like.

Even then, it is not as if earning a Regents diploma is some significant academic achievement. Consider that academically prestigious private schools do not follow either the Regents Exam system or some form of alternative assessment because, they argue, their own diploma requirements exceed Regents standards. For example, “high schools run by the Society of Jesus; Fordham Preparatory School, Regis High School, Xavier High School, Canisius High School, McQuaid Jesuit High School, and Loyola School have not used Regents exams for decades. Additionally, schools like The Masters School, The Hackley School, and The Harvey School do not use the Regents system, but set their own (often rigorous) graduation requirements that must be fulfilled.” Both New York State and New Rochelle High School recognize that Regents standards are not especially high and so offer an Advanced Regents Diploma.

But let’s not compare New Rochelle to Regis High School or The Hackley School. A more fair comparison would be a high school of similar size, of similar demographics, and in the area. According to the New York State Education Department the nearest school system that is demographically similar to New Rochelle is White Plains. That is, the racial, ethnic and economic distribution in New Rochelle High School and in White Plains High School are very similar.

The most recent year for which we have data is 2008 since the 2009 data will not be compiled until after the Regents exams in August. In almost every category of academic performance measured White Plains High School exceeded NRHS.

To give just a few examples*:

1) Graduation rates

a) Black students (NRHS -10)
i) NRHS 71%
ii) WPHS 81%

b) Hispanic students (NRHS -5%)
i) NRHS 65%
ii) WPHS 70 %

c) White students (NRHS -9%)
i) NRHS 88%
ii) WPHS 97%

2) Percent of students scoring above 65% on Regents Exams (General Education Students)

a) Comprehensive English (-3%)
i) NRHS 86%
ii) WPHS 89%

b) Global History and Geography (-14%)
i) NRHS 68%
ii) WPHS 82%

c) Mathematics A (-16%)
i) NRHS 74%
ii) WPHS 90%

3) Percent of graduates receiving a Regents diploma (-9%)
a) NRHS 80%
b) WPHS 89%

It would be tedious and pointless to continue to multiply examples.

As noted above, not a single student tomorrow will actually receive a diploma because the graduation is not a “certified graduation” — many students have not completed the necessary work or passed enough tests to have earned any sort of diploma, many more will get a near-worthless “local diploma” and not present at all will be close to 100 students who entered New Rochelle High School as part of the Class of 2009 and dropped out sometime after turning 16 years old.

AC2A9296-C269-42FE-A66A-A8AD13FF89C4.jpgThe school budget passed by voters on May 19th indicates we spend roughly $20,000 per child to educate children in New Rochelle. For a student who completes K-12 in the New Rochelle Public School system that comes out to $360,000 per student. As students march down the aisle tomorrow it would be good to recall School Board member Deidre Polow’s campaign claims that New Rochelle was providing “more bang for the buck” than other districts. If 40% of the roughly 600 students graduating are only able to complete a “local” diploma the bucks she is talking about are more than $85 million spent on diplomas that are a step above “certificates of attendance”. If another 100 students drop out by in 10th, 11th or 12 grade, you can bump up that figure by another $24 million. The District may wish to quibble on some of the exact number of students getting the local diploma or dropping out but however you run the numbers if it clear that the graduation ceremony tomorrow represents a more than $100 million “investment” in failure.

So, what are we getting for our money? What exactly are we celebrating?

You do the math. You are going to have to since obviously many of our newly-minted “graduates” cannot.

*New York State Education Department figures.

36 thoughts on “As New Rochelle High School Graduation Day Approaches Ask “What Are We Celebrating?””

  1. NRHS Graduation
    Because this issue was brought up when 800 marched and 500 graduated a couple of years age, New Rochelle now requires students to be within 2 credits of graduation. They are slowly moving towards a certified graduation (long overdue).

  2. Isaac Young
    I just had a dismal phone conversation about how horrible it is at Isaac. How the largely Hispanic population doesn’t highly regard education and that is why there is very little homework there for the grade levels and there is no AP classes for English, etc. because there are not enough students to fill the classes. What is a parent to do that lives in the south end with the thought of Isaac Young for middle school?

    1. and who is your source?
      You people are just full a crap. Who’s this person writing this, reader number 3?

      1. Typical McCarthyite Tactics
        Unable to rebut or intelligently respond, the District dispatches its minions to “expose” parents who dare question the established order.

        If what the person here wrote is incorrect or misinformed then why not just correct them rather than insult them?

        By your words and deeds you are just serving to illustrate the attitude of many of the people in positions of authority within the school district that the public somehow owes you something. Sorry pal, it’s the other way around.

        If you do not like dealing with the public or being held accountable by the public or being the subject of public debate and discussion then you might want to rethink working for a PUBLIC school.

      2. reader number 62,919
        Okay anon, can you do math? Gee, how many times would it take for 3 readers to visit this site to accrue 62,919 visitors? This site IS being read, by the guilty, and, by people like yourself who stick their heads in the sand and stroll along pretending.IF YOU THINK THIS SITE IS CRAP, DONT POST AND DONT’T COME BACK. PERIOD!

      3. Reader Number 62,919
        I called myself ReaderNumber6 because someone said only 5 people logged on to this site. Just a little tidbit of info… Website visitor counters count the email address once… if the same email address logs on over and over and over again, it still only logs it once. That means Bob Cox and 2 others logged on 23,000 times each… Now why dont you think before you speak next time. And if you think that, I have a bridge to sell you.

      4. Addendum to Reader Number 62,919
        Oooops I meant they had to log on 21,000 times each…

      5. You took a lot of time to
        You took a lot of time to think about that response didnt you?

      6. What is a “unique visitor” and what measures “reach”/influence?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unique_visitor

        A unique visitor is a statistic describing a unit of traffic to a Web site, counting each visitor only once in the time frame of the report. This statistic is relevant to site publishers and advertisers as a measure of a site’s true audience size, equivalent to the term “Reach” used in other media.

        Each service or software that does this sort of tracking in its own way. We use three different applications to track visitors including one, Sitemeter, which has the option to make traffic data public. That is the service you can see on our site that has now tracked over 60,000 unique visitors.

        You can read the details of how SiteMeter counts “unique visitors here: http://tinyurl.com/kttauk

        The key for SiteMeter is “you are only considered a new Visit if your Last Activity was more than 30 minutes ago.”

        There is more to it than that but if visit the site at 9 am, 12 pm, 12:25pm and 4 pm you will be counted as no more than 3 unique visits. You might be counted as less than 3 depending on some other variables which you can read about on the SiteMeter web site.

        Google Analytics tracks individuals who visit the site. This number tends to be 40%-60% of the unique visitor count which suggests that if we have 600 unique visitors in SiteMeter in a given day that might be about 300 people who, on average, visited the site twice.

        The actual reach of Talk of the Sound, of course is far wider than this because our stories can, from time to time, get picked up in other blogs or on news sites like Journal News, News12 and elsewhere.

        For example, the “Girl, Interrupted” censorship story we broke late last year was picked up on many, many blogs including some of the biggest (Huffington Post, Boing Boing, Crooks and Liars, etc.) and newspapers and went on the AP wire and News12 and WNBC-TV Channel 4. In that case, that story was read or seen by millions of people.

        The recent story broken on Talk of the Sound by the NRCP blog about the gym teacher putting a 10-year old in a chokehold has been in the Journal News, AP, NY Post and on TV and radio. It has now been read or seen or heard by well over a million people.

        The quality of readership also helps. Talk of the Sound is read (or monitored by) many government officials in City Hall, the BOE, the DA’s office, NRPD, etc.

      7. AP classes
        Call Isaac Young and ask about AP classes for 6th and 7th graders and see for yourself.

      8. Why would there be ANY Advance Placement classes at IEYMS?
        Those are for college credits. Since when are 6th graders taking college level courses?

      9. Honors Classes?
        Maybe they got Advanced Placement (AP) confused with ‘Honors Classes’?

  3. How dare you diminish what these students have achieved you..
    piece of trash. You should be taken out of the garbage with your information. You should move out of New Rochelle, nobody wants you here except for the 5 people that read this stupid blog. Get out of here cox. Maybe another town wants to read your garbage. My son earned an excellent diploma and worked extremely hard. Don’t you dare try and take it away from him. How dare you!!! You never went to New Rochelle HS so cut your BS.

    1. How dare you diminish….
      If your son earned his diploma as you state in your response, then why are you so upset over Cox’s and Wagner’s comments? Whilst I do not have a superior command of the England language, I think it was pretty obvious that the comments made by Cox were regarding those who are getting to “walk the walk” even though they haven’t completed the coursework necessary to graduate. If your son has done this, then the NRHS is in fact diminishing what your son has acheived by placing him, on graduation day, with students they consider to be intellectual equals even though they havent done the same amount of work as your son. Whether or not you went to New Rochelle High School or not, the practice of allowing people to graduate in this manner is simply wrong.

      On another note… writing sentences such as “piece of trash” and “get out of here cox” rather than intelligently and maturely stating your case diminishes your argument and makes you appear as if your child is actually one of those who hasnt quite made the grade but will scream about civil rights if he doesnt get to walk with his classmates.

      Guess this makes me the 6th person that reads this blog…..

    2. So speaks another “dolt”
      Maybe you should have gone to school with your kid. Then, maybe, just maybe you woukd be able to comprehend what the post was about, and who posted it. We’re sure your son got an “excellent” diploma, whatever that is, however that has nothing to do with the points illustrated by J. Wagners comments. Since you completely missed the point, let me reiterate. It’ the board who is failing in their duty and spinning half truths into fact to bamboozle the citizens. When information is presented to support this you should embrace it and ask the board if the comments are true or not. I defy you to get a truthful, accurate answer. If you do I will give you an “excellent” diploma for you to keep. Good luck, and thank you for proving how bad the board is !

  4. These reports on the high
    These reports on the high school graduation rates certainly tells us a lot about our high school and I thank all those that contributed, especially Dr. Wagner, and Robert Cox. There are a few statistics that would be worthwhile exploring: the percent of students that graduate in four years and the drop-out rate according to NYS education department figures. In the past this rate has not been favorable and it would be interesting to compare it to White Plains. When students do not graduate in four years the cost to the taxpayers increases with each year of schooling these “left back” students require. The statistics on teachers leaving the system is worth exploring because large school systems tend to foster this result. The school administration should have some informal observations on why teachers are leaving. Are they being denied tenure? Were they fully qualfied when they were hired? There are many other possible reasons. Administrators need to be able to assist teachers to meet the needs of all their students. Apparently the students who do not graduate in four years need alternate methods of instruction. School board members should be monitoring the progress of students and asking questions about why some are not achieving at the proper levels. Our nation needs graduates who are competent and can solve the problems of society. All residents of New Rochelle should be concerned.

  5. It is fair to say that the
    It is fair to say that the majority of our teachers and administrators do a good job with our children. The issue becomes a problem when a parent or student raises questions of incompetence or mereley makes a suggestion that could result in an improvement. This is not allowed with the current school district and the board of education, with some exceptions. The school board is run by an incompetent president who masks her incopentence by shutting people up, a classical psychosocial dysfunctionality. And I assume there will be a new president in July. More of the same? The leadership in our school board is out of touch with our community. It is really a shame that martin Sanchez did not run again. He certainly rocked the boat with meanigful questions. Can Hastie match Sanchez” courage? Ceryainly no one else on the board could.

    C. Coltrane

    1. Quay Watkins will be the new BOE President
      While not as flat out dumb as Cindy, Quay Watkins IS more of the same.

      New board members are indoctrinated with the idea that all disagreements should take place behind closed doors, no one but the board president should speak out publicly on issues before the District, all votes on resolutions should be unanimous, etc. These are all considered “traditions” of the New Rochelle BOE which are, for some reason, considered good for the community.

    2. Like a precocious 3 year old Jeff…
      Jeff Hastie is not ready to come out from behind Polows skirt. He’s peeking out from behind, peek a boo style- until he has been fully indoctrinated as to the “ways” of the board. I had hope for him, but, alas I feel he is being consumed by the machine we call the board. As soon as he speaks both up and out about the truth, I will give him full support, and I will bring 100 others to his side. We’re waiting Jeff.

  6. dr wagners comment on school graduation day
    As New Rochelle High School Graduation Day Approaches Ask “What Are We Celebrating?”
    Submitted by jwagnermd on Tue, 06/16/2009 – 14:59.

    On Wednesday, June 15, 2009 over 600 New Rochelle High School students will march in a graduation ceremony and receive — an empty folder. One of the school district’s “dirty little secrets” is that none of the students marching tomorrow will actually receive a diploma because many of the students marching will not have earned a diploma but are being allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony anyway. Rather than damage their self-esteem or cause them to feel less important than those who actually earned a diploma, they are being allowed to participate based on a “promise” that at some point after June they will complete missing courses and pass required state exams. Based on the New York State Report Cards, no one is keeping track of how many students march in the graduation and then failed to make good this “promise”.

    Although the final figures will not be available until September or October, from recent past experience, we know that of the approximately three fourths of New Rochelle High School’s senior class who have actually earned a diploma only about 80% of the graduating seniors will receive Regents diplomas. In other words just 60% of the senior class of NRHS will “graduate” with Regents diplomas tomorrow.

    If this is what the New Rochelle Board of Education calls an excellent school I shudder to think what a failing school looks like.

    Even then, it is not as if earning a Regents diploma is some significant academic achievement. Consider that academically prestigious private schools do not follow either the Regents Exam system or some form of alternative assessment because, they argue, their own diploma requirements exceed Regents standards. For example, “high schools run by the Society of Jesus; Fordham Preparatory School, Regis High School, Xavier High School, Canisius High School, McQuaid Jesuit High School, and Loyola School have not used Regents exams for decades. Additionally, schools like The Masters School, The Hackley School, and The Harvey School do not use the Regents system, but set their own (often rigorous) graduation requirements that must be fulfilled.” Both New York State and New Rochelle High School recognize that Regents standards are not especially high and so offer an Advanced Regents Diploma.

    But let’s not compare New Rochelle to Regis High School or The Hackley School. A more fair comparison would be a high school of similar size, of similar demographics, and in the area. According to the New York State Education Department the nearest school system that is demographically similar to New Rochelle is White Plains. That is, the racial, ethnic and economic distribution in New Rochelle High School and in White Plains High School are very similar.

    The most recent year for which we have data is 2008 since the 2009 data will not be compiled until after the Regents exams in August. In almost every category of academic performance measured White Plains High School exceeded NRHS.

    To give just a few examples*:

    1) Graduation rates

    a) Black students (NRHS -10)
    i) NRHS 71%
    ii) WPHS 81%

    b) Hispanic students (NRHS -5%)
    i) NRHS 65%
    ii) WPHS 70 %

    c) White students (NRHS -9%)
    i) NRHS 88%
    ii) WPHS 97%

    2) Percent of students scoring above 65% on Regents Exams (General Education Students)

    a) Comprehensive English (-3%)
    i) NRHS 86%
    ii) WPHS 89%

    b) Global History and Geography (-14%)
    i) NRHS 68%
    ii) WPHS 82%

    c) Mathematics A (-16%)
    i) NRHS 74%
    ii) WPHS 90%

    3) Percent of graduates receiving a Regents diploma (-9%)
    a) NRHS 80%
    b) WPHS 89%

    It would be tedious and pointless to continue to multiply examples.

    As noted above, not a single student tomorrow will actually receive a diploma because the graduation is not a “certified graduation” — many students have not completed the necessary work or passed enough tests to have earned any sort of diploma, many more will get a near-worthless “local diploma” and not present at all will be close to 100 students who entered New Rochelle High School as part of the Class of 2009 and dropped out sometime after turning 16 years old.

    The school budget passed by voters on May 19th indicates we spend roughly $20,000 per child to educate children in New Rochelle. For a student who completes K-12 in the New Rochelle Public School system that comes out to $360,000 per student. As students march down the aisle tomorrow it would be good to recall School Board member Deidre Polow’s campaign claims that New Rochelle was providing “more bang for the buck” than other districts. If 40% of the roughly 600 students graduating are only able to complete a “local” diploma the bucks she is talking about are more than $85 million spent on diplomas that are a step above “certificates of attendance”. If another 100 students drop out by in 10th, 11th or 12 grade, you can bump up that figure by another $24 million. The District may wish to quibble on some of the exact number of students getting the local diploma or dropping out but however you run the numbers if it clear that the graduation ceremony tomorrow represents a more than $100 million “investment” in failure.

    So, what are we getting for our money? What exactly are we celebrating?

    You do the math. You are going to have to since obviously many of our newly-minted “graduates” cannot.

    *New York State Education Department figures.

    jwagnermd’s blog Add new comment ShareThis173 reads
    It is incredibly naive or
    Submitted by misterg on Tue, 06/16/2009 – 15:06.
    It is incredibly naive or worse to assume that many contributors to this blog have not present both ideas and, as often needed, valid criticisms aimed at a seriously damaged school district. It would be pointless to paraphrase these or underscore what Dr Wagner and Mr Cox have just presented to you today. We can begin to fix the system through meaningful changes in how it is supervised by the board, managed by senior management, and reported by the staff of the aforementioned. In the first case, much of the literature today speaks of the need for radical systemic reform. Our school board is really a model for a non-working system, filled with volunteers who are impossible to extracate because voters are ill informed or overly committed to any change affecting their children. But these parents are doing great harm to the children. Bob mentioned Arne Duncan and his commitment towards accountability and performance. He will tell you the same as I tell you now — the best and brightest kids in many districts are first generation kids from societies, India, China, Russia, etc come quickly to miind, that value education. Did you happen to see the nationally televised spelling bee as a case in point. What I am saying is that the demonstratively poor board performance will punish the kids you try so hard to protect when SATS and other admission criteria come around. The socially, politically correct crap about “self esteemed” is exactly what gets us in trouble as a society — pandering never works, honest evaluation, firm objectives for our kids and citizens and ensuring that they meet such, is the antidote. Like Joel Klein said “a good education gets people out of poverty, not vice versa” Our kids come from many diverse neighborhoods but what they share is a poorly managed board and IN A NON NIT-PICKING WAY

    1. the system used to elect the board is archaic and harmful and must be replaced by apppointments; these appointments must represent all electoral districts in New Rochelle and skilled business people and retired educators with track records must supplement the board to ensure competency and quality.
    2. board can no longer be permitted to lie about results or achievement whether in campaign literature or more commonly in meeting or other reports. How often have we heard mistatemens about matters such as the legality of speaking to a taxpayer query re: board negotiations, percent of kids graduating, achievement rates, etc… the list is endless and Bob Cox has done a great job in pointing out the lack of diligence on crime, disruption, and much more and Dr.Wagner has reinforced much of the data I have presented before on performance management.
    SUMMARY IDEA NO. 1 – the board must be reorganized then replaced but in the interim held accountable for transparency and honest dealings.

    Summary IDEA 2 — Richard Organisciak, his direct Curricula staff, his Attorney, and maybe others need to be fired. They are incompetent and not forthcoming; frankly often misleading. This job is much too big for Organisciak. He knows little to nothing about key matters such as capital and strategic planning, community outreach, and school management. By the latter I mean he has a number of clear examples of the wrong people heading up the wrong schools. The best we have should be transferred to our toughest challenges. Princiiples and Assistant Principles need to be critically reeavaluated by a consultant educational professional. That will eliminate Bongo and a few others. The Assistant Principle ranks are lacking skill and given the way in which people transfer to administration, it is conceivable that literally any tenured teacher can get the job. Look Ford doesn’t appoint its best assembly line worker as its next head of operations. SUGGESTION TWO: APPOINT A SKILLED EDUCATIONAL PROFESSIONAL (MAYBE SOMEONE RETIRED WHO IS EARMARKED FOR THE BOARD) AND HAVE HIM OR HER LOOK OVER THE STUATION. begin by dismissing any political appointment, ensure no official is re-elected who accepted any “consideration” for participating in this type of action, revamp how people enter administration and make them be pre-tested or qualified before they can — meanwhile look outside of district for help. Finally transfer our best and brightest to the schools of most need.
    IDEA NUMBER THREE — get it clear that the days of not strongly advocatiing for the taxpayer on union negotiations during collective bargaining is over! No more sweetheart contracts. Pencil in the need to renegotiate health and welfare contributions by rank and file, set up a tier 5 arrangement on pensions for new hires, and dismiss the house counsel (at least during negotiations) and appoint a skilled labor management legal team to represent the taxpayer who of course, voted for the board.
    IDEA NUMBER FOUR — go down to the root of the issues. I want student committees formed in each school charged with coming up with ways to improve student performance, to identify issues and roadblocks in the way, to point out classroom management issues, to write school code of conducts, to set up arbitration and hearing committees to work on setting proper peer pressure. And I want a central council set up — (1) for elementary schools and (2) for middle and high school to meet monthly under the leadership of an outside professional to talk about issues of mutual impact and concern. When they go back to their respective schools I want a larger role played by social and psychlogical workers to guide, not dictate, but guide these kids.
    ISSUE NUMBER FIVE involves putting the mayor, city manager, and council on notice that this critical to the health and welfare of the city and not only the district. The time is long past in unbundling school and civic affairs. Who will want to move here with what is going on here. If any member of city hall, any councilman washes h/her hands of this matter, they should be strongly opposed at election time. All campaign contributions should be scrutinized to see where they came from. And the city powers need to ensure the taxpayer and voter that there is a safey net of sorts in terms of what could lie ahead in the future. Look at the size of our high school population, look at the size of many of our elementary and middle schools in terms of adequacy and expansion. I care less about new occupants in AVALON, for example than I do about the outrageous size of our population, how we cleverly accommodate them now in terms of scheduling, and just how many of these students are really eligible to attend our schools. finding this out is not rocket science, it should be done and immediately and if it impacts teacher or other personnel head count, too bad — that is far less important than taxes and classroom sizes. And, I don’t care if the student population sleeps 10 in a room, are from Mars, Mexico, or Cupcake South Dakota. They are here and while they are they need and should get a quality education and we surely can figure out non politically correct ways to educate them and NOT at the expense of other students.

    I want honesty of results. This is not like the bubonic plague, it is not of epidemic proportions, but we need to change before it becomes dire and before Arne Duncan and others change it for us.

    thank you Dr Wagner for you continued good sense especially after the shabby way you were treated and to bob cox who is someone we all should be more than happy is among us

    warren d. gross

    edit reply Celebrate Talented Students and Teachers

  7. It is incredibly naive or
    It is incredibly naive or worse to assume that many contributors to this blog have not present both ideas and, as often needed, valid criticisms aimed at a seriously damaged school district. It would be pointless to paraphrase these or underscore what Dr Wagner and Mr Cox have just presented to you today. We can begin to fix the system through meaningful changes in how it is supervised by the board, managed by senior management, and reported by the staff of the aforementioned. In the first case, much of the literature today speaks of the need for radical systemic reform. Our school board is really a model for a non-working system, filled with volunteers who are impossible to extracate because voters are ill informed or overly committed to any change affecting their children. But these parents are doing great harm to the children. Bob mentioned Arne Duncan and his commitment towards accountability and performance. He will tell you the same as I tell you now — the best and brightest kids in many districts are first generation kids from societies, India, China, Russia, etc come quickly to miind, that value education. Did you happen to see the nationally televised spelling bee as a case in point. What I am saying is that the demonstratively poor board performance will punish the kids you try so hard to protect when SATS and other admission criteria come around. The socially, politically correct crap about “self esteemed” is exactly what gets us in trouble as a society — pandering never works, honest evaluation, firm objectives for our kids and citizens and ensuring that they meet such, is the antidote. Like Joel Klein said “a good education gets people out of poverty, not vice versa” Our kids come from many diverse neighborhoods but what they share is a poorly managed board and IN A NON NIT-PICKING WAY

    1. the system used to elect the board is archaic and harmful and must be replaced by apppointments; these appointments must represent all electoral districts in New Rochelle and skilled business people and retired educators with track records must supplement the board to ensure competency and quality.
    2. board can no longer be permitted to lie about results or achievement whether in campaign literature or more commonly in meeting or other reports. How often have we heard mistatemens about matters such as the legality of speaking to a taxpayer query re: board negotiations, percent of kids graduating, achievement rates, etc… the list is endless and Bob Cox has done a great job in pointing out the lack of diligence on crime, disruption, and much more and Dr.Wagner has reinforced much of the data I have presented before on performance management.
    SUMMARY IDEA NO. 1 – the board must be reorganized then replaced but in the interim held accountable for transparency and honest dealings.

    Summary IDEA 2 — Richard Organisciak, his direct Curricula staff, his Attorney, and maybe others need to be fired. They are incompetent and not forthcoming; frankly often misleading. This job is much too big for Organisciak. He knows little to nothing about key matters such as capital and strategic planning, community outreach, and school management. By the latter I mean he has a number of clear examples of the wrong people heading up the wrong schools. The best we have should be transferred to our toughest challenges. Princiiples and Assistant Principles need to be critically reeavaluated by a consultant educational professional. That will eliminate Bongo and a few others. The Assistant Principle ranks are lacking skill and given the way in which people transfer to administration, it is conceivable that literally any tenured teacher can get the job. Look Ford doesn’t appoint its best assembly line worker as its next head of operations. SUGGESTION TWO: APPOINT A SKILLED EDUCATIONAL PROFESSIONAL (MAYBE SOMEONE RETIRED WHO IS EARMARKED FOR THE BOARD) AND HAVE HIM OR HER LOOK OVER THE STUATION. begin by dismissing any political appointment, ensure no official is re-elected who accepted any “consideration” for participating in this type of action, revamp how people enter administration and make them be pre-tested or qualified before they can — meanwhile look outside of district for help. Finally transfer our best and brightest to the schools of most need.
    IDEA NUMBER THREE — get it clear that the days of not strongly advocatiing for the taxpayer on union negotiations during collective bargaining is over! No more sweetheart contracts. Pencil in the need to renegotiate health and welfare contributions by rank and file, set up a tier 5 arrangement on pensions for new hires, and dismiss the house counsel (at least during negotiations) and appoint a skilled labor management legal team to represent the taxpayer who of course, voted for the board.
    IDEA NUMBER FOUR — go down to the root of the issues. I want student committees formed in each school charged with coming up with ways to improve student performance, to identify issues and roadblocks in the way, to point out classroom management issues, to write school code of conducts, to set up arbitration and hearing committees to work on setting proper peer pressure. And I want a central council set up — (1) for elementary schools and (2) for middle and high school to meet monthly under the leadership of an outside professional to talk about issues of mutual impact and concern. When they go back to their respective schools I want a larger role played by social and psychlogical workers to guide, not dictate, but guide these kids.
    ISSUE NUMBER FIVE involves putting the mayor, city manager, and council on notice that this critical to the health and welfare of the city and not only the district. The time is long past in unbundling school and civic affairs. Who will want to move here with what is going on here. If any member of city hall, any councilman washes h/her hands of this matter, they should be strongly opposed at election time. All campaign contributions should be scrutinized to see where they came from. And the city powers need to ensure the taxpayer and voter that there is a safey net of sorts in terms of what could lie ahead in the future. Look at the size of our high school population, look at the size of many of our elementary and middle schools in terms of adequacy and expansion. I care less about new occupants in AVALON, for example than I do about the outrageous size of our population, how we cleverly accommodate them now in terms of scheduling, and just how many of these students are really eligible to attend our schools. finding this out is not rocket science, it should be done and immediately and if it impacts teacher or other personnel head count, too bad — that is far less important than taxes and classroom sizes. And, I don’t care if the student population sleeps 10 in a room, are from Mars, Mexico, or Cupcake South Dakota. They are here and while they are they need and should get a quality education and we surely can figure out non politically correct ways to educate them and NOT at the expense of other students.

    I want honesty of results. This is not like the bubonic plague, it is not of epidemic proportions, but we need to change before it becomes dire and before Arne Duncan and others change it for us.

    thank you Dr Wagner for you continued good sense especially after the shabby way you were treated and to bob cox who is someone we all should be more than happy is among us

    warren d. gross

  8. Celebrate Talented Students and Teachers
    What are we celebrating the work of great teachers and talented students. Within one hundred miles of here there is only one other school with over 3,000 students. The numbers you present are influenced by a variety of things the board of education cannot control. Gieven the socio-economic climate I would conclude NRHS is an excellent school.
    For all the knit picking and complaning what concrete solution have the contributors of this blog suggested to fixing the issues in eductaion, finger pointing alone will not help. Last I checked, you could run for office or aplly to be a teacher and get in there fix everything overnight. Someone who is so could at copying stats and re-reporting them I bet you would be a great at fixing any problem that comes up.

    1. Knit Picking?
      While I certainly agree that New Rochelle High School has many fine educators and staff and many top students, you need to take the good with the bad. The fact is that New Rochelle High School for all its academic and athletic success is also a violence-ridden, nearly-segregated school that is probably too large by half and unable to educate students most in need of help (e.g., about 50% of Latino students do not graduate after 4 years of high school). Like most schools in New Rochelle the problem is not the teachers and staff but the administration and the union.

      I hardly think the points raised by Dr. Wagner are “knit picking”. He is attempting to apply some form of a standard to evaluate the success of the New Rochelle school system in educating young people. You might disagree with choosing White Plains as a point of comparison but it seems fairly reasonable. By your criteria, since there are no high schools with 3,000 students “within one hundred miles of here” the New Rochelle high school system must be treated as an exception and evaluated in a bubble. That seems entirely unreasonable.

      That schools in New Rochelle have met rather minimal standards to be labeled as having made “adequate yearly progress” or that one school won a “blue ribbon” 15 years ago or that some other school has a special program like CILA does not address the core issue. That New York State labels teachers who have met the minimum qualifications to teach in a public school as “highly qualified” is Orwellian double-speak.

      You measure any education system based on what goes into the system and what comes out. Schools should not be judged based on self-serving awards or cherry-picked information but rather the success or failure of the students coming out of that school. Dr. Wagner is making the point that a large percentage of students in New Rochelle are not being prepared to succeed in a global economy.

      To paraphrase President Obama’s SecEd Arne Duncan, children in New Rochelle are not competing against other children from New Rochelle or White Plains or Scarsdale or Mount Vernon. They are competing against children from India and China and Japan and Europe. And they are getting their butts kicked as every International study shows. Mr. Duncan is advocating longer school days, more school days and national standards.

      Why do we have to wait?

      You want to really improve education in New Rochelle and really attract people to move here? Try unilaterally going to an 8 hour school day, adding a Saturday morning session like they do in Japan, and increasing the school year to 200-220 days. Stopping dumping money into technology for the sake of technology , decrease the emphasis on sports and extracurricular activities and pay teachers a year’s salary for a year’s work (stop this nonsense that teaching is “stressful” and that teachers NEED to only work 180 days a year and have 10 week summer vacations).

      As far as this blog’s contribution to the school system. The first step in dealing with the sorts of problems that exist in New Rochelle is to admit you have a problem. For too long this District has been run by people more concerned with feathering their own nests, expending energy on papering over embarrassing situations with PR rather than actually addressing the core problems and engaging in corrupt practices. I happen to think we have done a very good job in exposing lies, criminal behavior and various others failures by our so-called leaders.

      That’s what we’ve done. How about you?

      1. Length of School Year
        Before we go asking to increase the school year, an idea which I do not like at all, why don’t we make sure we use all the time we do have. “If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run – “.

        Has anyone noticed that school has really slowed down these last three weeks. There has been very little homework, tests, projects, etc. Already the teachers are in vacation mode, wondering about their next year assignments, and summer jobs. Having meetings about setting up classes.

        Why don’t we make the best use of the month of June at school? Teach each day, give homework, projects and tests? And, instead of watching 45 minutes of videos at lunch all winter, how about some tutoring or book clubs? Or at least educational videos?

    2. Fixing the problem
      Why do you submit your comments anonymously? Are you ashamed of who you are?
      Perhaps a clue to the problem may be found in the fact that 29% of NRHS teachers left within five years of being employed. When you can’t hold on to new teachers look to the administration for the problem.
      Pehaps a bit less money on “no show” jobs and a bit more attention to education would be in order.

      Jack Wagner, M.D.

      1. 29% of teachers left within 5 years of hire?
        Compared to what? That 29% figure might be a function of the “up and out” policy of the District at the three year point when teachers are up for tenure.

        How does 29% compare to other district’s in the area?

      2. 29%
        Compared to about 10% for other schools in the area. White Plans, for instance has an 11% turnover for teachers in the first five years, Scarsdale 6%, Eastchester 10%.

        Jack Wagner, M.D.

      3. Three possible explanations for 29%
        1. New Rochelle makes bad initial hires and then corrects their errors which suggests they should review their process for initial hires.

        2. New Rochelle makes as good hires as anyone else but the District has such high standards that many of their hires cannot attain them.

        3. New Rochelle makes as good hires as anyone else but the teachers do not like working in New Rochelle and leave for better opportunities elsewhere.

        Any other possible explanations?

    3. New Rochelle High School Population
      Just so you know, outside of NYC New Rochelle is the 4th largest school in the state.

      1. And therefore…what?
        I would like to here ALL the excuses so please explain why the high school being the “4th largest” in New YOrk State matters.

      2. And therefore it was an addition to a comment made on the blog
        The point about NRHS being the 4th largest HS oustide of NYC was in response to the post below. Facts are facts so I thought I would add something factual to this conversation.

    4. must be a talented student of a great teacher
      Its ‘nitpicking’ not ‘knit picking’.

      Nitpicking is the act of removing nits (the eggs of lice, generally head lice) from the host’s hair. As the nits are cemented to individual hairs, they cannot be removed with most lice combs and, before modern chemical methods were invented, the only options were to shave all the host’s hair or to pick them free one by one. I

      I copied this from Wikipedia and re-reported (not a word) it here.

      And I did aplly (your spelling) for an ID but didn’t want to wait any longer to point out your errors.

    5. Hey”dolter” are you a racist? “Celebrate talented students…”
      “Given the socio-economic climate”? Are you kidding me? That’s like saying “if we had a single race population, we could do a better job. Let’s purge the minorities” is THAT what you’re saying?
      Here’s an interesting thought. The sole purpose of the school board is to keep things in control. Unless you’re talking about the wheather or traffic, EVERYTHING pertaining to the education of whoever goes to school is in their control(or should be), if not , then the board is “out of control”. Isn’t that what people on this site have been saying? THE BOARD is OUT of CONTROL and you have helped to confirm it. Thank’s “anonymous person” ! Celebrate Talented Dolts.

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