A Disturbing Visit to Isaac E. Young

Written By: Deprecated User

    A short while ago two of us went to visit Isaac E. Young middle school.  Our purpose was to find out about the instruction in the classroom.  The guard told us the principal was “in a meeting,” but when presented with the fact that George Imburgia had been given permission to visit the schools by Superintendent of Schools, Richard Organisciak, we were escorted by a guard to the Principal, Anthony Bongo. 
   We inquired about Isaac’s test scores which are lower than Albert Leonard’s.  When Mr. Bongo denied these differences in the scores, we asserted they had been presented by Robert Cox at the last school board meeting.  Bongo then called Organisciak and the lower scores were verified.  I was then directed to Laura Marinara, chairperson of Humanities.   She pulled up the language arts scores on her computer and then discussed instructional improvements that have been made at the school, emphasizing teaching strategies and techniques used to raise reading scores.  I told her my personal view that for students to understand what they are reading that knowing the content and vocabulary was important and should be emphasized along with techniques.  She was receptive to my conversation.  
   Subsequent to that meeting I sent several articles to a school board member.  Diane Ravitch had said the No Child Left Behind “law had failed because it had dumbed down children by focusing solely on reading and mathematics.” …”Many states have lowered their standards.”  New York (since 206) has “lowered the bar to reach proficiency in every grade” (3-8).  She adds we have been “lying to our children.”  
   Soon after that the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) claimed fourth grade mathematics scores have stagnated, eighth grade English language learners dropped a significant two points.  This was true in New York State.  Therefore, all the gains that our New Rochelle public school children have gained are now subject to interpretation and may not truly be gains.
  My question is still: How can we honestly assess the instruction at Isaac and in all our public schools?     

One thought on “A Disturbing Visit to Isaac E. Young”

  1. your visit
    Ms Godfrey and Mr Imburgia have a long history of dedicated civic service to New Rochelle and it is good that they see a glimpse of what Bob Cox has seen for the past few years and which I have seen both from the perspective of subbing in the District and from my professional association with educational organizations such as the Center for Responsibile Public Education (CRPE) of the University of Washington Graduate School, the Manhattan Institute, Teachers College, Columbia, etc. In fact I did a complementary analysis of NYS Data on ELA and Math test scores concenrating on some additional areas and I would offer my findings to Peggy, George or anyone else interested. Simply respond to this posting and tell me where to send it and I will do that.

    It is sad that Bongo would lie to you about the score diffential. It speaks volumes concerning his character. As I told Bob Cox over a recent breakfast meeting, the issue transcends a defective board and broken system. What I am hoping is that civic voices can speak up for a change in how a school board is constituted so that (1) people of quality represent each council area in the City, (2) the Mayor takes responsibility for the District via his appointments and what should be a clear understanding of the effects of a poorly managed District lacking transparency and oversight. It is almost paradigmatically similar to what we are seeing in Washington re: TARP and other matters. What I can tell you from my sources in DC is that Arne Duncan, the Secretary for Education is strongly in favor of mayoral control. I can also tell you that both the Regents Head (Ms. Tisch) and NYS Department of Education Head (Mr Steiner) have seen the myriad of issues with recent ELA and Math state tests and will fix the issue which likely will mean (1) a return to lower scores that more likely will match the national assessment tests and (2) a debunking of the claim that Isaac Young and Albert Leonard are at “parity.”

    Frankly, I have no respect for a City Council that mails to see their responsibility to the children in their districts. This is no longer a safe route as our electorate is beginning to see the many holes in the District’s business management and trustee oversight. Noam Bramson and Chuck Strome need to step up as well is they value a political future — if for no other reason the educational business proposition in any City is a major selling point for new residential buillding and occupancy. Ours is slipping badly and Organisciak’s low hurdles and laissez faire attitudes may play well in Suffolk County, but not in the most expensive county in the country.

    I know Lori Marinaro. She is a very capable young woman from an excellent family who understands the needs for a basic grounding in reading and vocabulary. She is not a “gimmick” person; I am sure she is instructed to follow some paths in terms of techniques she would much rather subordinate to the classic tried and true methods,

    Peggy and George, many thanks for seeing for yourself how things are, even if only a snapshot of a wide and growing issue. I wish that gallant old gentleman, Anthony Sutton, was with you; this man has almost single-handedly fought the school tax issue for years. Good to know some sanity and common sense remains in the city we all love.

    with respect and friendship

    warren gross

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