My recent remarks to the Board of Education
Before I begin tonight with my prepared remarks on the importance of educators in New Rochelle to serve as role models for children I wanted to mention that the City of New Rochelle intends to begin televising meetings of the IDA, Planning Board and Zoning Appeals Board in the same way as the City Council - live and archived on the web.
When first raised some on the City Council expressed concern as to the cost of wiring the meeting room at Beaufort or the cost of televising each meeting. As it turned the entire annual cost turned out to be about $8,000. A small price to deliver transparency and fulfill the promise of our democracy.
I know some on this board take a perverse pride in preventing live televised coverage of Board of Education meetings (hint: Deidre Polow) but for those who reject this Anti-American and even Stalinist mentality, I would encourage you to deliver on Mr. Hastie's campaign promise last year and act tonight to join the City government in preparing for live broadcasts of BoE meetings at City Hall starting this fall.
Live broadcasts of Board of Education meetings is a just one example of how you, as board members, can demonstrate your commitment to a core American value, the right enshrined in our Constitution for every citizen -- even the elderly, the physically-challenged, the infirm to know how their government works and to see it in action.
Picking up on the mention of the letter to my "good friend" David Abrams, a man with whom I have been regular communication since December, I would remind the board I raised the issue of the ELA tests after receiving complaints from parents only so that in the future the district might not dismiss concerns I raise here without investigation,
Now to the remarks I have prepared for tonight.
It is important that educators -- teachers, staff, administrators and school board members -- always remember that they serve as role models for our children.
Perhaps that most basis, most important value educators can teach to children is the importance of personal integrity starting with telling the truth.
What then does it say to our children that administrators and board members and PTA presidents in New Rochelle routinely claim that 95% of NRHS Graduates go onto college?
According to the graduation rate data reported to the City just 66% of New Rochelle High School students graduate on time.
In deflecting this pitiful performance -- the third lowest in Westchester County -- the district likes to site the 5 year graduation rate and the 6 year graduation rate.
Yet this 95% figure continues to be cited.
What does it say that rather than confront this issue head on, this board has kicked this discussion from March to May and then May to July, a summer month when few will be paying attention.
No matter how tightly this board shuts it's eyes and plugs it's ears, those 5 and 6 year graduation rates are still in the 80% range.
If 85% of students are said to graduate within 6 years, how does the district arrive at the claim that 95% of students go to college?
What is the basis for this 95% figure? Who is tracking this information? Where does it comes from?
No one ever seems to know yet it is repeated year after year.
At first glance, it appears to be a mathematical impossibility but given the district has claimed that they have three teachers and an administrators who were unable to correctly add together 4 two digit numbers on my son's test scores, I suppose I should not have high expectations for the math skills of our district's educational leaders.
I was amazed to read and hear during the run up to recent budget vote that the district's rank in the annual Newsweek magazine high school survey was being cited by supporters as a reason to vote for the budget when ever member of this board except for Mr. Hastie voted a year ago to refuse to cooperate with Jay Matthews in compiling the Newsweek survey. As I recall it was Mr. Organisciak who spoke eloquently on why the Newsweek survey was unfair, that it was "just one number" that it was not a fair measure of the district's performance. Yet when it serves a purpose this survey suddenly becomes the gold standard for evaluating New Rochelle schools.
At the upcoming New Rochelle High School graduation, former school board member Martin Sanchez says about 100 or so of those walking in the ceremony have not earned enough credits to gradate -- and that some of those students will NEVER graduate.
What does it say when this district turns a graduation ceremony into a meaningless, uncertified charade?
What does it say when the district repeatedly denies that there are large numbers of wrongly enrolled students in New Rochelle and then later admits to having removed or blocked over 250 such students?
What does it say that Mr. Organisciak has claimed that the district sends investigators onto BeeLine buses and Metro-North trains coming into New Rochelle and then we read on Twitter about a student named Jamal riding the 30 Bus from his home in Yonkers to attend New Rochelle High School.
What does it say when Mr. Organisciak stands in front of a gathering of District 6 neighborhood residents and denies his own reports on blocking and removing hundreds of students, calling the issue one of the great myths of New Rochelle.
Or stands in front of Trinity School parents and repeatedly denies there are students in Avalon 2 and Trump Tower, that there are only two dozen student when there are nearly four times that amount.
Lastly what does it say when school administrators -- two of whom were here tonight -- meet with SED investigators and then repeatedly lie to the investigator, claiming to have no knowledge of a document which has one of those administrators hand-writing all over the front and back of the document.
In closing let me take a moment to say goodbye and good riddance to Jerome Smith and Cindy Babcock-Deutsch. I take it as a point of pride to consider any role I might have played in hastening your departure from this board. Don't let the door hit you in the behind on the way out.
I hope soon I will be able to likewise bid adieu to other board members like Ms. Polow, Ms. Reddington and Mr. Lacher who have long overstayed their time on this board and come to represent the desiccation of the public education system in New Rochelle. Whether you believe they have done a great job or a terrible job there is no conceivable reason why anyone needs to be on a local school board for two or three decades. What sort of ego does it take to believe that without "ME!" the school district will cease to function. If they will not step down they need to be pushed out at the voting booth at the earliest opportunity.
Have a nice night.