Friday, September 5, 2008

Keystone School Committee (Only in Amherst)

Stiletto-like fingernails slowly descending a large old style blackboard, a formal Catholic “High Mass” all in Latin, or a speech by Al Gore on Global Warming. Hmmm, I’m trying to think of what could be worse than attending a “retreat” of the Amherst Regional School Committee???

It would of course be 'Saturday Night Live' skit material if not for the fact that these duly elected regional officials consume the vast majority of Amherst’s $60+ million budget.

But not a single one of them came to office in an election that drew over 50% of the voters (at least in the case of Amherst School Committee members).

Kathleen Anderson definitely has a racial Great Oak log on her shoulder--but she wears it ever so prominently. So it was not big surprise she would boycott a retreat run by a white male. Of course you have to wonder if she ever requires emergency medical care or the services of the police does the responding public servant have to be a black female?

Dr. Merzbach, the most famous baby doctor in Amherst, delivered most of the townies I know. He was a white male--and I’m sure he gave boys, girls, Jews, Gentiles and People of Color the same equal, professional care.

When I call 911 with an emergency I don’t want the dispatcher to ask what race, creed, or color I am. Just do your damn job.

Even the crusty Gazette published an editorial today suggesting the retreat was a bad idea. Maybe they recognized themselves where a committee member said the local media looked the other way regarding retreats even though they are a clear violation of the Open Meeting Law.

So yeah, if they have this "retreat" I will be there. And I only hope the facility has wireless Internet and plenty of aspirin.

The Bully does its job


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me that Kathleen is just angry about the direction that the school board is heading in. Remember that there are new members on the board and the pot is being stirred. Instead of a pot it is turning out to be a bees nest.

What Kathleen might fail to realize that her comment has done much to discredit her in future meetings, people know where she stands, the line has been drawn. If it was a white person stating that she would not attend because it was being run by a African American male she would be out of a job.

My two cents
-Ryan Willey

O'Reilly said...

This is a dysfunctional and disorganized board, and therefore ineffective. I would think every Amherst parent and taxpayer would want this group to get to the point where their focus was their work and not all the crazy talk.

One board member tells another board member that her proposals have to wait because that's how it works on the school board, she's learned. Another board member inserts "cross-cultural" issues into the discussion at every turn.

E D U C A T I O N.

Did you get that?

E D U C A T I O N.

Keep your eye on the ball, please.

Their chair must prioritize the issues with input from the team.

The chair must establish rules for discussion and deliberation with buy-in from the team.

I hope reporter Mary Carey attends every meeting and writes an article on every meeting. Sunshine baby. Sunshine.

LarryK4 said...

Hey Ryan,

Good point.

And it should also be pointed out that Kathleen Anderson serves on the Planning Board.

And they too have a tremendous amount of power (some of it beyond Town Meeting, Select Board, or Town Manager control) in our quaint little town.

LarryK4 said...

Hey o'reilly (you owe me a beer as we posted at the exact same moment)

Yeah, agreed--they really, really need to get their act together. And I'm not sure the current Chair can handle that.

Anonymous said...

> And it should also be pointed
> out that Kathleen Anderson
> serves on the Planning Board.

I seem to remember something in the state ethics commission rules about how one can only have one job with the commonwealth (or subdivision) at any given time -- and these elected/appointed positiosn are considered "jobs."

Remember how Elissa Brewer had to resign from the school board when she was elected to the selectboard?

Perhaps someone with some time can check this one out, I am only citing from memory.


maryd said...

Well, at least the meetings are no longer boring! I have to admit I was a bit skeptical of the whole "ACE" thing at first but I'm glad Ms. Sanderson is raising the bar, or trying to.

Any idea when the next election will be and who's time will be up?

O'Reilly said...

Sure Ed, I'll get on that right away. I bet you're too busy fighting some injustice somewhere not far from UMASS.

O'Reilly said...

I'm glad Ms. Sanderson is raising the bar, or trying to.


I think she knows quite a bit about education and social psychology. Outside the school board, I've wonderful things about her. On the school board, it seems like there is a cacophony of blather and some significant obstacles to having her ideas heard and acted upon. I hope she knows there are a whole of people who support what she's doing. I hope the other people serving on the board know that too. They could follow a leader or they sqaubble. We'll see. Heck, its only our kids educations at stake.

Anonymous said...


The next election with School Committee seats is the next town election in Spring 2009. Elaine Brighty and Sonia Correa-Pope are the two members up for re-election.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please post the meeting schedule? I really do want to go.

Also about the statistics -- I do believe they exist and have been reported to Malden. Prying them loose might be some work, but I do think they are there.

Ed Cutting

LarryK4 said...

Catherine Sanderson does not update very often but she does have the list of upcoming School Committee meetings

Anonymous said...

Tues @19:00....

I do remember that with just two people speaking against it (me & Larry) and maybe a half dozen other folks quietly supporting, we *did* shake them up and make them actually defend the Vagina Monologue - and got rid of Barbara Love the next election. Anderson seems to be from the Love school.

Sanderson might be onto something. And as much as some may hate NCLB, there are statistics generated by that toward the type of questions she appears to be asking.

Damn, I wish their names weren't so similar...

Remember one other thing - the field of education (my field) is really a hybrid, that is why it is an EdD versus a PhD that one gets. There are three common overlaps -- one can overlap into social justice, one can overlap into statistics, or one can overlap into psychology. And the philosophical disagreements that this creates makes the whole language v. phonics debate seem civil.

So knowing nothing about the parties involved, just the status of my discipline, with one person coming from the social justice side and another from the psychology side, you well could have some very significant differences on the most basic underpinnings of educational philosophy.

Who makes a better truck: Ford or Chevy? Which is a better police car, the Ford Crown Vic (that explodes when hit from behind) or the Chevy Impalla (that is front wheel drive and very light). Enough said?

Conflict, in such circumstances, is actually good and productive, much as a good K-6 teacher uses BOTH whole language and phonics, but is smart enough to claim to only use the one approach favored by the principal...

Ed Cutting

Anonymous said...

was wondering if anyone noticed the behavior of both sandersopn and anderson at town meeting.
1) anderson on joint capital planning missed the meeting she was suppose to present

2) night of school budget when school committee sat up front
----sanderson was correcting papers
----anderson came in late and had to told by the moderator
these 2 people have their own agendas and neither of them care about anything else but their stuff

Anonymous said...

> sanderson was correcting papers

Be glad she showed up. If you insist on having town meeting during the truly crazy period for academics (last week & finals week) then you are going to have the same issues that, say, farmers would have with town meeting during planting season.

And there is such a thing as multitasking, particularly when correcting papers does sometimes become mindless rote work.

Anonymous said...

As a member of town meeting, I can say that a lot of people do other things like reading, knitting, grading papers, etc. during discussions. Why? Well because of certain members insisting that every single person has their say, a lot of the information is restated over and over and over and over again.

O'Reilly said...

I'm surprised to read comments here questioning Sanderson's commitment and participation in process.

I don't know what was being discussed, by whom and how relevent it is to the school board's mission, but I have no doubt about her commitment, capability and dedication to realizing an improved school system.

Keep your eye on the ball.

LarryK4 said...

And she teaches Aerobics (at the wrong gym of course)

Anonymous said...

Try being black, and going to school, in Lilly White Amherst, where the rules are totally different for caucasions, than they are for Afro Americans. White people really need to be educated on what it is like to be of a different color and ethnic background. What is good for them, is not necessarily good for the other races. I should know. I graduated in 1960, and the Afro Ams had their clique and were not included in the elites of the school. Education went by caucasions ability, not blacks ability. Anderson has a good point. Try seeing it from her point of view.

LarryK4 said...

Hey I'm Irish. I know very well what it is like

Anonymous said...

First off Anon, things have changed in Amherst schools since you went. As a graduate of Amherst and a caucasian, I had multi-culturalism, white privledge and equality issues shoved down my throat by a lot of people in school. There was an attitude given by some teachers and administrators there that white males started off as racists and sexists, and it was their job to change us. No one bothered to ask what our actual views were, they just assumed, basing their assumptions on the color of our skin. This is the town that constantly pressured the Music Department to play more multi-cultural music, and yet certain music like the song "Sleigh Ride" was off limits because it was associated with Christmas, not caring that we Christians might feel offended by this. This is the town that complained to the school that musicals with more racially diverse roles needed to be chosen as school musicals, and yet when West Side Story is chosen, and designed to create discussion of race relations, people scream bloody murder about a few lines of diolauge, which could have been taken out. So before anyone goes and throws around statements like "Try being black", realize that there are two sides to every story and think about how the methods that the school uses might be turning more people off because of the hardcore attitude shown by current teachers, administrators and school committee members.

Anonymous said...

Things have changed alot since the 60's! Amherst kids are submerged in diversity starting in preschool and ARE "educated on what it is like to be of a different color and ethnic background." Take a walk down the halls of ARHS and you will see many different backgrounds represented. There are clubs for all kind of ethnic groups, sorry Larry, none are Irish! Now the place that IS still mostly white are the PGO's and open house nights. I have sat in meetings with others trying to figure out how to improve parent participation. Maybe THAT is what Anderson needs to brainstorm on.

ARHS '76 said...

Blacks, Latinos, Asians and Jews were relatively small racial and religious minorities in Amherst.

Cliques were a significant part of the social structure and race was a significant part of clique formation.

I developed friendships on teams - football, wrestling and lacrosse - with black and white kids. Extra-curricular activities provided a way to develop friendship beyond school day cliques.

The guys on the team were the guys on the team. Some were pretty cool and others were full of themselves but not along race lines... although some of the talk by some the big talkers about who was cool and who was full of themselves was about race.

It doesn't take a keen eye to see what burden an outsider must endure (whether an outsider because of race or some other factor).

The school didn't take a big part in taking about race, inclusion or social justice but we were introduced to political correctness. Cross-cultural awareness? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

> Try being black, and going to
> school, in Lilly White Amherst

Try being white in politically correct Amherst. Wanna trade?

> What is good for them, is not
> necessarily good for the other
> races.

What part of King's "I have a dream" do you not understand?????

> should know. I graduated in 1960

Four years before Title VI.
Society has changed...

> Anderson has a good point. Try
> seeing it from her point of
> view.

The only difference between Anderson and other racists is whom she hates.

I much prefer to hate people for real things like what they do/say and not just skin color...


ARHS '76 said...

While some people on this thread are sharing their experiences about race in Amherst, probably in the hope of developing a better understanding, others, namely Ed, are judging and giving weight to the relative amount of subjective pain and righteous indignation endured in their own experience versus what others endure. Ok ed, you win, the injustice meted out to you was the most egregious. Now please stop.

Why do frame it as a situation in which the injustice you feel you endure is not adequately appreciated by others and the injustice others may endure is over emphasized? If this is your point of view, you are a petty person who has lost your compassion and empathy.

You cannot always be the most deserving victim, Ed. Life is unfair in that way.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have noticed a change, but was never satisfied with everyone cramming us down the throats of others. Thought we should earn that, on our own. Don't be fooled, though, as racisim still rears its' ugly head, in Amherst, both in education, and in housing.

Sorry Ed, if you are a hurting unit. Sounds lie you need a reality check.

Until later....................

Anonymous said...

I have a serious ethical problem pre-judging people on the basis of their skin color. I have absolutely no problem making a judgment that this is wrong. I condemn it.

I equally condemn those who do so, those who are prejudicial bigots.

Persons biased for or against anyone on anything other than the content of the person's character. And yes, I do know where that line came from -- which surprises me why it is so reviled today.

And it is not I who needs the reality check. Get out into the reality that surrounds the 25.27 square miles of the People's Republic of Amherst and you will find that the vast majority of people don't identify everyone first by race.


Anonymous said...

Ed, like I said, there is still racism going on in the school system and in housing. I did not say it was you. Is your conscience botheering you, or something? I am living in the real world, and I have friends and acquaintances of all ethnic backgrounds, and I feel as though I earned those relationships. Was married to a caucasian man, for 18 years, and was accepted by all of his friends, and family. I do know that not all are racist, but subliminally, the racism exist, here in The Republic of Amherst.

Until later................

Anonymous said...

My conscience is quite fine, thank you very much.


Anonymous said...

Sept. 18 - Featured speaker: Star Parker, former mother on welfare but now advocate of self-reliance and responsibility; author, most recently, of "White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay." 7pm Bowker Auditorium

Yep, what you gonna say when it is a black woman saying it????

Anonymous said...

Wanna see Ghetto? Go to Mill Valley Estates, on E. Hadley Road. Perfect example, in The
Republic of AMherst.

Unti later..............

Anonymous said...

HUD has a rule about the number of Section 8 Vouchers that can be issued in the same census district, i.e. Mill Valley/Boulders/Southpoint.

However when you have about a dozen different LHAs administering vouchers there, you can have damn near the whole thing on a Section 8 voucher and get away with it.

And were there not the ever-present cry of racism, lots of things that happen down there would not be tolerated. APD does a drug bust in Mill Valley and is called racist for not having a diverse pool of arrestees -- silly cops, they only arrested those whom they caught dealing drugs....

Anonymous said...

yea, but they do not hook them up in buildings with other tenants that are middle class, etc, they shove them down back in the "Ghetto", all together, making it rather discriminatory, wouldn't ya say? Is that what those people deserve? Agasin, it is all ethnic backgrounds, but put them all together is the motto of those apartment complexes. No wonder they feel as though they are stuck in a rut.