Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bad Night For Incumbents



Two high profile candidates for reelection, in races where a second place finish would have been good enough, came in third, and thus out of the money.  Irv Rhodes, chair of the Amherst School Committee, fell to newcomers Lawrence O'Brien and Amilcar Shabazz--both of whom wished to be appointed two months ago to finish out the term of Steve Rivkin.

Presciently, Rhodes was at first reluctant to even fill the school committee position, worried it would give that person an advantage in this April 3 election; but then he strongly supported Shabazz.  The combined Select Board and School Committee, however, chose a high school student instead.

This stunning loss for Rhodes mirrors the school committee election of 2004 when incumbent chair Barbara Love came in third behind newcomers Andy Churchill and Thomas Flitte.  Pundits at the time lay the blame on a mediocre campaign that reeked of overconfidence and taking the voters for granted.

While Michael Aronson came in a distant fourth with 433 votes his base in all liklihood bullet voted (did not use their second vote).  If even half of Aronson's supporters had thrown their second vote to Rhodes, it would have put him in second place.

Incumbent Carol Gray also was odd person out in the three way race for two seats on the Jones Library Trustees.  She joins former chair Pat Holland who lost her seat last year as a result of leading an inquisition against 30 year Director Bonnie Isman.

Birds of a feather crash together.

##################





By The Numbers:

School Committee
Lawrence O'Brien     1526
Amilcar Shabazz     1160
Irv Rhodes               1004
Michael Aronson     433

Jones Library Trustee
Austin Sarat     1380
Tamson Ely       1245
Carol Gray         907

Voter Turnout:  15.2% (2,429 voters out of 15,991)

Statement of Michael Aronson - Candidate for the Amherst School Committee

I extend my congratulations to the winners of the school committee race in Amherst.  I enjoyed the dialog we shared. I encourage those of you stepping into public service to remember the substance and focus of the debate: determining why we spend so much more than other school districts in our area; returning resources to the classroom; and eliciting the creativity of Amherst to the benefit of the children of our community.














211 comments:

1 – 200 of 211   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Moral of this election:

When the word "dysfunctional" begins to get attached in the public mind to the operations of a board or committee, whether accurate or not, the incumbents then suffer.

Anonymous said...

The League of woman voter's needs to offer a "These are the people in your neighborhood" night.

A woman working at precinct 3 thought I didn't know there was a second side to the ballot!

Anonymous said...

A couple of comments. First likelihood, not likely hood. And it's Lawrence O'Brien, not Michael. Finally, Aronson's comment about the focus of the debate. They may have been his focus but it was not everyones focus.

Anonymous said...

What a great election. Our schools are going to improve with the balance of the committee all drinking the same cool-aid. Our property values should rise because the perception of our schools will improve as the majority of the SC slaps each other on the back. Oh the low income kids, don't worry about them. Their parents don't vote and the administration has mastered giving lip service to the issue of closing the achievement gap. The parents of means will of course continue using Kumon, Silvan, tutors, and such. Maybe I should get some of that cool-aid. Then at least I could feel better about living here.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:21, you don't have a clue. Are you at all interested in what steps maria geryk has taken to address the achievement gap? Or is it just more fun to stand on the sidelines and fling arrows. You don't know what you are talking about and you have no interest in learning more.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like sour grapes to me and not cool aid. Please don't diminish the capacity of the voters to make an informed decision about who they believe should be guiding the schools. Their votes speak volumes especially about the fourth place candidate. And, please don't make the false assumption that low income families don't vote unless you have data about this election to support your claims.

Anonymous said...

I guess the election shows just how weak the attack dog mentality that Sanderson and Rivkin uncaged is in regard to how the schools ought to be run.

The election night numbers show the reason why Sanderson left. She, too, would have been soundly defeated and she struggles when it comes to seeing how few people actually agree with her extreme views.

That said, I do think it's time Kathy Mazur took her dog and pony show down the road. Maybe the swinging door of administrators in central office would at least slow down if the czar of human resources was shown that door.

Anonymous said...

TM candidates were listed alphabetically. What was the criterion for the order of SC candidates?

Anonymous said...

anon11:50: it's not important "what steps maria geryk has taken to address the achievement gap.". it is important what has improved because of those steps. nothing has narrowed the achievement gap, despite whatever steps MG has taken. time to take new steps and change gears!! but, that hasn't happened yet either.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:50 I have heard that Kathy Mazur is a problem and that she has not supported some newly hired administrators in the past, again all rumors. Can you be more specific about the dog and pony show?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:07 has it right. It is results that matter. So far not so good but we have another round of MCAS data coming this fall. It sucks that we have to wait so long to see if anything is changing.

I was disappointed to learn that my kids teachers are not using the MAP testing results or MCAS results to better focus teaching to my kids in areas they are weak. We were led to believe 18 months again when the program was started that this would happen. Is anyone else having different experiences?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:07,

It takes time to implement the new programs and start to see results. MG began her work last year but was only interim Super for most of the school year. She did not have free reign until she was chosen our permanent superintendent. So, if she just started last year, did you really expect to see results in last year's testing? The schools have been in decline for a number of years now. You can't change the results in a number of a few months. These new programs will start to bear fruit. But the people in this town have to give them time to bring about the improvement. How can you know that nothing it working yet when we have not had any data sincee the beginning of implementation.

Richard S. Bogartz said...

How fearful we all are that so many people have to submit their remarks anonymously. --Richard S. Bogartz

Anonymous said...

anon7:51:

please name 1 program, 1 administrator hired by MG, 1 program implemented by MG that shows any resemblance to success. MG was handed a blueprint of math improvement by Dr. Chen, an outisde consultant/expert hired by the district to the tune of $40,000. She has not adopted ANY of those recommendations, did her own thing--more of the same old, same old. she's thowing more money at the problem, hiring math coaches, instead of Chen's recommendations to use inside math experts, etc.

Also, still waiting to hear what Beth Graham's "many accomplishments" to the district were, before MG let her go last week. Taxpayers: don't you want to know what the Director of Curriculum (paid $100k+) a year did for our schools?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:41.

You should send an email to Maria Geryk or the the principal of your school or Rhonda Cohen to tell them that the teachers are not using the MAP results, not complain about it on a blog.

Irv Rhodes said...

My campaign was not what it should have been. I did not do all that I should have done. It was not over confidence, but a lack of intensity in pursuit of the goal of winning. If I would have put all I had into the campaign and left nothing on the field I would truly be upset. Instead I regret that I did not do a whole lot more and I blame no one but myself. Congratulations to Amilcar and Lawrence. I especially want to congratulate Amilcar, because he brought into the campaign an underrepresented constituency. Irv Rhodes

Anonymous said...

Jeez, Roach Patrol. Is this what it's come to? Talking to yourself, hoping that someone overhears, takes interest, and joins your monologue?

Anonymous said...

Irv & Mike,

Well said. We can only hope that our two new candidates hear Mike's message and continue trying to answer the high cost and achievement gap questions Irv was working on, which is still not clear after years of discussion.

Anonymous said...

to anon 7:51

I get that results take time. I also get that Maria is not the end all be all for responsibility of the Amherst Schools system both good and bad. The frustration that many of us have is the the Amherst schools seem willing to meet and discuss issues endlessly, decade long endlessly, but our perception is that real meaningful change rarely occurs. We have far to many coaches, disappearing curriculum directions, and high spending for such an outcome. It feels as though we have no real accountability. On a plus note after hearing Rhonda Cohen it seems she understands the problems well, so maybe....

Anonymous said...

I am VERY impressed with Rhonda Cohen. One of the things I really liked about her is how results oriented she seems to be. She really GETS that we can't wait forever for things to get better. She really GETS that parents of elementary school kids want results NOW, not 5 years from now when their kids will be entering Middle School. I was very hopeful after hearing one of Rhonda's presentations. I think she alone is going to have a huge impact on our schools.

Anonymous said...

!. Geryk is wll into year 2 of implementation of her programs -- remember how she got credit a year ago for implementing MAP, RTI and other programs. So results should be coming in now and no excuses if programs fail to deliver results.
2. The selection/HR process for administrators does seem really screwed up -- but no one is accountable because no one is held accountable. This is true all through the administration.
3. People are interpreting the results in the way that supports their views; the results don't alter pre-existing views.
4. If you can't figure out why school costs are so high after 3 years on the school committee or many years as a school finance director or 2 years as superintendent, please go get another job that doesn't involve numbers.
5. Parents are unhappy with the schools for many, many valid reasons, reasons echoed by many teachers who don't talk publicly.

you know who said...

"How fearful we all are that so many people have to submit their remarks anonymously. --Richard S. Bogartz"

that's how amherst works. anonymous people make decisions so no one takes responsibility. like the 7 grand the town owes me. corrupt self servers.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:35:
What's Rhonda's plan for improving elementary math?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:47 p.m.: All poll workers were instructed to let voters know there were 2 sides to the ballot so that no voter missed voting for town meeting candidates.
Anon 7:06 a.m: Town meeting candidates were not listed alphabetically. From my understanding there is a blind drawing for placement on the ballot so that no one candidate has an edge over anyone else. As they say; "It's the luck of the draw".

Anonymous said...

I don't know that Rhonda has finished developing a plan for math yet. When I heard her speak she was working on it. What I did hear her say, though, is that she recognizes there is an urgency in developing one. That is what gave me hope.

Anonymous said...

"That said, I do think it's time Kathy Mazur took her dog and pony show down the road. Maybe the swinging door of administrators in central office would at least slow down if the czar of human resources was shown that door."


"Anon 6:50 I have heard that Kathy Mazur is a problem and that she has not supported some newly hired administrators in the past, again all rumors. Can you be more specific about the dog and pony show?"


"2. The selection/HR process for administrators does seem really screwed up -- but no one is accountable because no one is held accountable."


Can you say "puppet-master"?


I knew you could.

Ponziville's bloated roaches said...

"Jeez, Roach Patrol. Is this what it's come to? Talking to yourself, hoping that someone overhears, takes interest, and joins your monologue?"


As they say in India, a single mosquito can bring down an elephant.


FYI: They are SO on to you.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the superintendent adopt a math plan last year? What happened to that?

Anonymous said...

I too have heard good things about Rhonda Cohen and her ideas about improving the curriculum, including adopting Chen's suggestions.

I hope she can encourage good changes in the district.

I find it interesting though that she was hired back in Nov, but as of last week (the last time I checked), she was still not included on the arps.org site's contact list for the central office, and in fact the only mention of her anywhere on the district web site was in a few school committee meeting minutes where she was listed as an attendee.

I have heard that Dr. Cohen is encouraging parent feedback. It would be most helpful if the web site included her contact info to make it easier for parents to actually get in touch with her.

Anonymous said...

FYI: They are SO on to you.

Roach Patrol, I'm a little hurt. Here I was, thinking I was doing you a favor by drawing attention to your comments. You keep laying out the bait, but no one ever seems interested, not even a nibble. How many years has it been now? It must be sooo frustrating.

Anonymous said...

The district wants feedback from parents on math? I get robocalls about all sorts of minor things. How about scheduling some meetings with parents and then INVITING THE PARENTS TO THE MEETING TO ASK FOR FEEDBACK ON MATH? What the heck, send out a robocall.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the plan is to plan to have a new math plan every year.

Anonymous said...

To find Rhonda Cohen's name go to the ARPS website (arps.org). Click on the "Administration" drop down list and at the bottom of the list click on "Teaching and Learning." You will see Rhonda listed prominently there. In general, the email address for everyone assoicated with the school is last name, first initial@arps.org. So, Rhonda Cohen is CohenR@arps.org.

Anonymous said...

I went to a meeting that Rhonda Cohen conducted on elementary curriculum, focusing on math at Fort River a short time ago. I think the plan is to have a separate meeting at each elementary school. Maybe it's time to put the anger, sarcasm and antagonism aside until you know all the facts. Like I keep saying here, there is alot happening in the schools that most of the readers of this blog just are not interested in finding out.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:01 -
Thanks for the info. I was the one who wrote earlier asking about it. I really had spent some time (well over an hour) looking for signs of Ms. Cohen on the district web site without finding her, especially for in the SC minutes.

The page you referred me to was updated a few weeks ago, and the central office directory was updated (yesterday) presumably to add her name as well as remove Ms. Graham's. These updates are very helpful.

Anonymous said...

isn't it sad that even just an email address for someone in the administration needs to be posted anonymously? what is it with this town?

Anonymous said...

Rhonda Cohen's name has been on the Teaching and Learning page for months now.

Anonymous said...

larry, i've just read through the comments related to two articles you posted about the town elections. what a crazy mess. it's impossible to know who's saying what to whom, much of what is said seems highly uninformed, and the tone comes off as one giant anonymous, childish argument. any thoughts of improving your blog?

Anonymous said...

Mention the word "schools" on a blog in Amherst and it's like steaks thrown in a shark tank.

LarryK said...

I suppose I could stop allowing Anon comments (which I did for the first couple years), but then I would not have just received your question.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

I agree with Richard Bogartz - the quality of dialogue on this blog could be much higher if more people were willing to own their comments, as I always do, as Larry does, and as Irv does.

I believe that the schools work well for some kids, but I don't believe they work as well as they could for any kids (especially given what they cost), and I think they work really poorly for some kids. And although I too hear good things re. Dr. Rhonda Cohen, much of what she is saying has been said by others for years.

I became involved with the schools in 2007, when I served on a math review committee (appointed by superintendent Hochman), which was started due to problems with math in the district. We are still, in 2012, talking about virtually all of the same problems, in part because we haven't paid attention to outside experts who have given clear directions on what to do (Dr. Andrew Chen, Dr. Barry Beers).

Similarly, a committee was appointed in 2009 to look at school costs (Rick Hood was on this committee). That committee never got answers from the administration, and Maria Geryk chose to disband it in 2010 (although there was still information needed). And here we are in 2012, and now we are going to look again at this issue.

This struggle to see actual change - not just discussions or promises of change but actual change that impacts kids - is why many people have chosen to leave the public schools (e.g., principals, teachers, SC members, leaders in AEF, override leaders, 2 of the 3 leaders of Sustainable Amherst, etc.). And it is why I've now opted for private school for my oldest - he is just out of time for actual change to occur.

Roach Patrol said...

"Roach Patrol, I'm a little hurt. Here I was, thinking I was doing you a favor by drawing attention to your comments. You keep laying out the bait, but no one ever seems interested, not even a nibble. How many years has it been now? It must be sooo frustrating."


Forgive me.

ps

They know now. They know.

Anonymous said...

but if you didn't allow anons then i wouldn't have had to ask the question.

Anonymous said...

larry is the publisher, he can publish what he wants, and he wants a crazy mess.

Anonymous said...

Catherine, do you think that Superintendent Geryk does NOT want "real change"?

also... i'm not stupid enough to leave my name. your comments, letters, and statements at meetings are collected, and there is so much contradiction and innaccuracy and downright bullshit, that future generations will look back at town politics in the early 21st c. in amherst and you will appear to be a FOOL. Keep building your political legacy, catherine, and we'll keep collating.

p.s. i truly think that part of your issue has been and is that everyone likes maria and she's getting things done and no one likes you and you are having zero impact on school affairs. again, it's the obnoxious eighth grade girl face-making, the condescending snorts between you and steve, your clear inability to work well with others... shall i pull up the tape?

larry, if you decide to publish this, thanks for allowing anon comments.

Anonymous said...

anon @7:49
are you like 12 years old? "no one likes you, na na na..." What a joke? Yes, everything is perfect and EVERYTHING CS ever said is wrong. Really, you must be 12 years old (but my 12 year is more mature) to think like that...you are truly pathetic.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anon 7:49 - I very much hope you are right that Maria is getting things done that will have an impact on kids' learning. I haven't seen that yet for my own kids, but I hope you are right, as private school is VERY expensive and I have three kids.

I still am confused as to why you aren't willing to share your name, since you seem very confident that your views are shared by many in this town? But it is very easy to throw mud from a safe anonymous perch ... and it certainly frees one to make negative accusations without having to take responsibility for your words.

In contrast, I own all of my words at meetings, in the Bulletin, and on my blog (and on this blog). Knowing that I tried as hard as I could to improve the schools for all kids is what allows me to now step away - and I certainly hope that others will be able to improve the schools in ways that clearly I was unable to do.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:49

Tell us how you really feel, no just kidding I think you got right to the point well. I support those things that Catherine, Steve, Irv (sometimes), Rick Hood in theory, etc wanted to see change.

What exactly do you think was bull or contradictory. All of these candidates wanted the schools to be better. Certainly Catherine and Steve were much more vocal and critical.

Has your experience with the schools been perfect. Are your kids (I assume you have some) achieving all they can, have they truly reached their potential. Mine have not. They have rarely been challenged. They are bored. Somethings do need to change. Sorry we, those who disagree with you, can't find a way to express that that does not get under your thin skin.

For the record Catherine did stick her neck out to cut the school budget down by moving to close Mark's Meadow. yes lots of people were not happy but lots of people from the sustainable side know it made a huge difference and was the right thing to do. Do you think any of the current discussions that Rhonda Cohen is having now would have happened without her and those like her. I do not. Most importantly she opened up a dialog to have discussion. She made a lot of us realize it it ok to come and speak.

Before Catherine many people were afraid to talk. People like yourself would either crush our criticism or talk to us until we just gave up.

I am glad there was a change in dialog. I hope it keeps going but with results. As indicated earlier we are going to have to wait for those results. So hate the people who want change, but remember there are at least 433 of us in town as indicated by Michael Aronsons Vote total. Oh, and were are not going away.

For now I will remain an anon. I just don't need the kind of venom you are likely to return with.

Anonymous said...

i guess calling people "pathetic" and "a joke" and "immature" is the real grown up way to respond.

Anonymous said...

"what was bull and contradictory"?

i've got hours and hours of video and scores of blog posts (the ones she didn't take down, edit after she posted them originally, of course no one else is allowed to edit what thy said!) and letters to papers and statements on ace websites, actual letters and emails to the schools and administrators... let me have some time to organize a more prepared response, ok?

Anonymous said...

i do not hate people who want change. never said that. that's exactly the kind of general, ludicrous criticisms that opponents of the school make.

and the whole "talk to us until we just give up" thing? cs and sr tried that, it didn't work. cs and sr did more talking, blogging, letter writing, web site making than any of us combined, ( i can prove it) and we did not give up.

Anonymous said...

one thing catherine used to do during her s.c. tenure was call up other s.c. members and school administrators and yell at them, cry, then hang up on them when they tried to talk. remember that catherine? she just doesn't know how to operate in the real grown up world. my guess is she has had most things handed to her, and doesn't get that stomping your feet and throwing a fit doesn't get you what you want in this world (unless you're a spoiled brat.)

catherine, please deny you ever behaved that way, please, i want it on record.

Anonymous said...

as far as we know, the person flinging mud around at aronson and sanderson is a supporter of theirs, trying to put words in the opponent's mouth. that's what is really great about this whole posting anonymously thing. love it, larry, don't change the format!

Anonymous said...

uh-oh, all 9.5% of us, at most, "are not going away."

there will always be a small minority who will whine, and will complain, and will cast criticism no matter WHAT the circumstances. that's not news to me ANON 8:46pm.

Anonymous said...

i'm not name calling, saying na, na, na or anything, just saying, that i truly think the FACT that cs is strongly disliked by MOST and mg is liked by ost really has an effect on what cs says and does at this point. i think cs wanted to be to the town what superintendent geryk IS, and that eats at her and does not really allow her to think though things clearly and act appropriately. she can't get over it, and i think she started acting in a way, during her second and third year, which was motivated by personal motives as opposed to selfless motives on behalf of the parents of the children of this town. ok?

LarryK said...

anon 9:36
17.8% is not a "small minority".

Anonymous said...

WOW, this has taken a turn for the bizarre.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

I think it is pretty clear that one person is continuing to write inaccurate and mean posts, which really aren't furthering the dialogue. So, I'll just say, to that one anonymous person who continues to post, that my goal on SC was to improve education for all kids in Amherst - including my own - and I'm very proud of the things that I was able to work with others to accomplish (e.g., closing Marks Meadow, redistricting, completing a review of the MS, adding Spanish to the elementary schools, etc.). Yet it became increasingly clear that I was not going to be effective at creating the type of change I wanted to see, and hence I was quite relieved to step down.

If Maria Geryk and the current members of the SC can create the much-needed changes in our schools, I will be very, very thankful - so really, I hope you are right. I believe strongly in public education and would love to be able to use the public schools for my own three kids.

I also recognize that I'm in a fortunate situation of being able to opt out of the public schools, and that not all residents of Amherst have that opportunity. Thus, when the schools aren't living up to their full potential, it is those without options to exit - for homeschool, charter school, private school - who really pay the price.

Anonymous said...

i wonder whether "home school, charter school, private school" always "live up to their potential". is there someway to measure that? can anyone provide some data that suggests that home school, private school, and charter schools" "live up to their potential" more so than the public schools? especially when you're suggesting home school as an alternative... how the hell do you measure the effectiveness? what a lot of bullshit.

Anonymous said...

hi larry. do you know what percentage of all votes cast for a school committee member were for michael aronson?

Anonymous said...

Catherine, thank you for your service on the School Committee and for your continuing to be part of the dialogue about how to make our schools better.

LarryK said...

Anon 3:57 AM

Assuming his supporters took Catherine Sanderson's and my advice by "bullet" voting, Michael Aronson's 434 votes represents 17.8% of the turnout.

Not too shabby for an election virgin who did not spend a dime on campaigning, unlike the two winners who spent over $2,000 each.

Anonymous said...

Catherine Sanderson and her buddy Steve Rivkin were the biggest impediment to making our schools better that Amherst has seen in recent memory. Now that they are gone I am looking forward to some real progress being made in all areas of our schools.

Anonymous said...

let me help you out larry. 4,123 votes were cast for a school committe candidate. michael aronson received 433 votes. what percentage of the votes cast for a school committee candidate did michael aronson receive? this is an easy one, larry, 3rd grade mcas stuff.

LarryK said...

I'm just as correct in saying a candidate who gets 433 votes in an election that only had 2,429 total voters is a 17.8% share of the vote.

And my statistic is far more telling than yours, Cowardly Anon Nitwit.

Anonymous said...

anon7:53am:

you must be kidding. CS & SR created those changes that catherine mentioned above. was it okay for mark's meadows in a town public school to have the same per pupil expenditure, but a far better education than all other students--smaller classes, textbooks for all, etc. when other programs were going to get cut, to save that "small school" ? That's not the same public eduation for all.

Everyone seems to agree that switching to a later start time is good for students BUT you don't see it happening now do you, despite many years of study
here, numerous national reports supporting it, and the SC supporting it. it is hard work to enact change and
no one on the current SC has the fortitude to get it done. everyone is too busy agreeing with everyone else. i wonder what would have happened if SC was still on the board. my guess is she wouod have taken the heat (again) but done the hard work, and the switch would have beej made. SC would get no credit for helping to enact change that everyone wanted but said was best for student achievement. but, all would have benefitted from the change.

carrie

Anonymous said...

So, Carrie, where have you read that we are definitely not making a change in the start time of the secondary schools. What I have read is that it is a complicated issue and they are still trying to figure out the best way to do it without being so disruptive to elementary students and secondary sports. I stand by my comment, CS and SR were the worst things to happen to the Amherst school system in decades.

Anonymous said...

Catherine Sanderson: "I was quite relieved to step down".

Response: Then step down already.

LarryK said...

What's the matter there Anon, can't handle the truth?

Anonymous said...

What truth is that Larry?

Anonymous said...

anon 9:15:

yes, just this week MG said they will look into later start times for the 2013 school year. i see that as just another delay tactic. this issue was thoroughly studied last year, brought to the SC at the BEGINNING of the school year, now it's April too late to do anything for this year. Do you see a pattern here?

Math...ignored for years, studied in recent memory since 2010. recommendations made, group disbanded. Dr. Chen brought in at an expense of $40.000 (i believe); chen's recommendarions ignored. dr. Beth Graham hired at an expense of $125k a year (i believe). she forms new math study groups and hold parent forums. somewhere in there, a math textbook review committee made up of math professors, math teachers and parents recommend 1 text book, Dr. Chen agrees with that earlier recommendation. MG and Beth Graham ignore all that and stick with the same old same old. now 1 1/2 years later, Beth Grahm ousted. what did she accomplish anyway? And she is suing (i have heard). this goes on and on and on...test scores don't improve, math at the elementary level only serves some kids well but not "every child, every day" which is our district's motto. it seems like people here on this blog, who know better than I have high hopes for Rhonda to make good math changes. I hope so!

I believe the late start time issue will be the same as the math...it will be delayed and put off until someone can step in and be decisive, which seems to take decades around here.

carrie

LarryK said...

Anon 9:37
I think Carrie covered it.

Anonymous said...

I am consistently puzzled by the personal attacks on Catherine Sanderson. I really can't understand why the attacks are so personal and bitter. I can only guess one of two things:
1) some school teachers/administrators don't like having someone evaluate what they do and take any suggestion personally; or
2) Catherine is actually smarter and more efficient than the administrators in the schools.

My guess is 1) is true. I'm sure that 2) is true. Hard to be believe that we are actually intimidated by a super intelligent woman in this town. How advanced!


If you want a school committee that is a rubber stamp on the administration, you got it now!

Anonymous said...

anon 9:15:

where have you read that they "DEFINITELY" are making the change to a later start time? there has been no definitive vote, where SC have to vote yes or no....not just say things like...we should consider it...it is a complicated issue...it will impact a lot of families. All those things are true, and that is for a discussion. the chair of the SC should call a vote...even if it takes a year or two to implement. but then, we would have something definitive to go on, not just these wishy-washy comments.

now in the papers, MG is saying that we will look at later start times for 2013. was there a vote? NO. since when does MG lead the way on policy issues. That's the SC's charge, and then she has to enact it. why does it seem like it is the other way around here?

Anonymous said...

MG is delaying implementation of later start time becauase of input whe received at the parents' forums. Damned if you do listen to parents and damned if you don't, i guess.

You people just love to criticize and criticize. Thankfully you are in a minority here in Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Larry, here's a hypothetical. 4000 voters show up at the polls. They are allowed to "select no more than two" candidates from among candidates A, B, and C.

The final vote counts are:

A 3000
B 2999
C 2001

By your math and logic, candidate C received 50% of the vote, plus one. So how come he didn't get elected? (And don't tell me that everyone who voted for C bullet-voted him, unless you've done exit polls.)

Keith Ulrich

Anonymous said...

Just for clarity. Beth Graham made 112K. I think Chen cost 5K. I full agree with everything else said about delay delay delay. I hope Rhonda Cohen has a better strategy to make change. Hope is all I have left.

Anonymous said...

"1) some school teaeachers/administrators don't like having someone evaluate what they do and take any suggestion personally;"

Here is a major problem with CS - it was not her job to evaluate teachers or administrators, other than the superintendent. A huge reason why CS was so toxic on the school committee is that she did not know her job as a school committee member. She kept trying to micro manage the operations of the schools. Sort of like the Carol Gray of the School Committee. Catherine Sanderson and Steve Rivkin did enormous damage during their term on the School Committee.

Anonymous said...

Wow Larry, discussing the school committee sure turns some people into asses.
If I was CS I'd be concerned about the person who is obsessed with her hours of video and blog posts, letters, etc. Have some anger issues there?

Anonymous said...

Please sign your comments or I will be forced to attribute them to Kim Kardasian. The disrespectful and combative remarks towards past board members do not further discourse, they only inflame. As adults, we are supposed to model appropriate behavior for our children.

Isabel Margolin

Rick Hood's empire said...

Anyone seen Cap'n Hood???



Ahoyyy Cap'n!




Ahoyyyyyy!!!

Anonymous said...

10:56
What damage? Saving over $800,000 by closing Marks Meadow? Bring a wonderful Spanish program to the elementary schools? Daring to try to look at how to improve the math program? Daring to ask whether the IMP program at the high school yields good outcomes (given that minority students and low income students are pushed in that direction)? Trying to hire a superintendent that had regular classroom teaching experience and principal experience? Wow, that all certainly looks like damage...

Anonymous said...

"As adults, we are supposed to model appropriate behavior for our children. "

Catherine Sanderson is the perfect role model!! We should all be more like her.

LarryK said...

Top 300 College Profs...

Anonymous said...

A truly inspirational and lovely human being!


Thanks for everything you've done Catherine!

Anonymous said...

Keith,
surely, the important figure is that `18% of voters cast a vote for Aronson.

Joel said...

I, too, am amazed that people continue to attack Catherine Sanderson. Moreover, people accuse her of all sorts of horrible behavior but do so in extremely rude and inappropriate ways and as anonymous posters. They cling to claims of memos, emails, and videos of bad behavior. Yes, Catherine and Steve were monsters! This line of criticism is so nasty and unconnected to reality that it becomes a form of self parody.

But let's go beyond laying all the blame for everything wrong with the schools on two former SC members who dared to ask tough questions and make tough choices. Let's get beyond trying to blame whatever problems exist in the schools right now on two votes on the SC for about 18 months. How Sanderson and Rivkin changed everything with those two votes in such a short period of time is something that is beyond me.

Here's the issue: The cheerleaders for all things Amherst have been getting their way for years. They have the Super they want, they have the SC they want, they have the curricula they want, they have the teacher contracts they want, they have the overrides they want, and they spend more money per pupil than any other district in the region.

Given that, when can we expect improvement? Or, is the argument that elementary schools that fail MCAS is the new normal for a New England college town that lavishes money on its schools? Are declining numbers of AP classes and a unique science curriculum in the HS the new normal?

It's time for the cheerleaders to stop blaming others and time for them to own the school system, good, bad, and everything in between. It's time the cheerleaders stop vilifying Catherine and Steve and anyone else who was long ago shut out of the decision making processes and instead focus their attention on what 's actually going on in the schools right now.

BTW, I read in the Bulletin that despite having the highest per pupil spending in the region we're going to have to start selling advertising space in our schools to cover the athletic department's costs.

Imagine how much advertising we would have to sell if the cheerleaders and Amherst Center types had managed to keep Marks Meadow open.

Anonymous said...

18% of voters equals 2.7% of the population of the Town of Amherst.

Anonymous said...

anon @1237;

now, that is a meaningless number! But perhaps you are just having fun with your calculator!

LarryK said...

But we only had a pathetic 15% turnout so you have to multiply by 6.6

Anonymous said...

I already did that, Larry. That's how I came up with 2.7%

.18 x .15 = .027

LarryK said...

since you are having so much fun with your calculator now figure out the proportions for the other candidates

Joel said...

Debating the percentages of the vote is bizarre at this point. By this logic, none of our town government is legitimate given the low turnout. But, democracies without compulsory voting count the votes that are cast and leave it at that.

Just to add fuel to this silly fire, when one of the anons listed a vote total as a percentage of the town's population, how does he know the population of 18 year old residents eligible to vote?

BTW, my dog refused to vote for anyone. What percentage of the canine vote did the TM candidates win? That will help me understand leash laws going forward.

Anonymous said...

Joel,

I think Larry started this silly discussion of the percent of votes received when he continually pointed out what percent Michael Aronson received.

Anonymous said...

Anything and everything that Sanderson is getting she brought onto herself.

She is a strong person with strong views. She attacks, mercilessly when she felt the need to. So let there be no need to pity or feel for her. When you step into the fray with guns blazing, as Sanderson did, then don't be surprised when people turns their aggression on you.

If she had taken a very different tack, still wanting to create change but not with the guns blazing, then I think people would be treating her differently. But her record is easy to research.

On teh school committee, Sanderson was an attack dog, nothing less. Her professional behavior at meetings was at times abhorrent, the way she would roll her eyes, make faces, communicate with Rivkin. All very inappropriate, very unprofessional.

Now she is reaping the rewards for such behavior. What goes around comes around.

Anonymous said...

yup, you said it anon 2:58pm. and she decided to get back into the fray despite her husband and children wanting her not to (i thought she was going to be "the lady at the school bake sale"?) she decided to come out and say that shabazz, o'brien, and rhodes were candidates who would not promote change in our schools, and that she would encourage us to bullet vote for the obviously least desirable candidate.

welcome back into the crazy fray you and larry created, catherine! and you too, joel!

LarryK said...

I'm still waiting for some Anon to jump in and blame President Bush.

Anonymous said...

catherine declared "war" (she and steve rivkin literally told another school committee member to specifically tell maria geryk that "this is war!" and not in a friendly way either, then they got in a car together and sped away to plot their strategy. well documented, and they admitted to saying it.) catherine's up and shooting again. so it's still war i guess. and that's why she's getting what she's getting on this blog. so bring it on! come on joel, are you one of her little foot soldiers? then let's go!

Anonymous said...

and by the way, how many people do you folks think you're "at war" with here? where do you think they are from? are they even from amherst?

Anonymous said...

the percentage question is an important one because it reveals how much we DID NOT want catherine sanderson's candidate, michael aronson.

LarryK said...

So Joel and Catherine have no problem identifying themselves, but you want to "go" with them Anonymously?

Anonymous said...

i wonder if many of these anonymous posters do NOT have children in the schools, and watch SC meetings to get all their school information.

You should listen to what those of us say, who have kids in the school system. Many of us have experienced mediocrity there every day. If everything was so great in the schools how do do you explain:

an incoming 7th grader to ARMS being told he has gaps in his math background, when he came out of an Amherst public school in 6th grade with the highest scores in math possible there, and "advanced" math scores on the MCAS?

carrie

Anonymous said...

yes, that's right larry. catherine and joel want to fight anonymous bloggers. that's what they're doing anyway, and have been doing for years. i wonder if they are glad they decided to get back in the fray. they have no idea who is saying what, no idea where they're from... but they keep engaging and responding anyway! ha ha, this is fun!

Anonymous said...

carrie,

you say "many of us", but the post is only signed by... you.

not that a few of catherine's followers won't come crawling out of the woodwork now to say "oh, i agree, it's so mediocre!" (hey, let's count! that will be fun.)

education is a tough job and no one does it perfectly, but they have and continue to do a pretty darn good job out there in amherst, and improvements and changes are being made daily to meet new challenges.

Anonymous said...

why joel has come back to declare war against the anonymous bloggers is truly odd. something must still be eating at these folks. find some peace, will ya!

Anonymous said...

Larry, these people are getting threatening and bizarre. I hope you are able to turn over IP addresses to APD when they ask.
Someone unstable has a vendetta.

Anonymous said...

anon 4:35:

i am not anyone's follower. i support people (teachers, principals, admin, and SC candidates) when they help make the schools better, simple as that. i don't support the people who get in the way.

"improvements and changes are being made daily to meet new challenges.". please name them.

and can no one explain my 1 teeny, tiny example of gaps in the math program.

carrie

Anonymous said...

huh. which ones do you find threatening, fellow anon?

Anonymous said...

This sounds pretty threatening:
"so it's still war i guess. and that's why she's getting what she's getting on this blog. so bring it on! come on joel, are you one of her little foot soldiers? then let's go!"

I'm just praying it's not one of my kids' teachers.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
huh. which ones do you find threatening, fellow anon?"

I think 5:36 pretty much summed it up, and add in everything else you spewed about CS. And as long as I have kids in the schools and there are nutjobs like you out there, I will remain anon. and not really care if Larry calls me a coward for it ;-)

Anonymous said...

ha! don't worry fellow anon, "the war" refers to the one steve and catherine declared against the administration a couple of years ago, and which she seems to want to continue despite having (it seemed) surrendered. and MY intentions are a "war of words" hosted by larry. and keep in mind, joel and catherine re-entered the fray by their own volition. however it seems like maybe they have changed their minds...

Anonymous said...

to engage in a war of words, but also to contribute in a to this messy, confusing, inefficient manner of having a "conversation" about the schools and the committee members. hey, larry's the one who allows us to pretty much say what we want. that's one of the big problems that these blogs have been to this town... almost anyone can say anything they want anonymously, and that leads to craziness and stupidity, like the scrawls on the lavaratory wall.

LarryK said...

Said the Cowardly Anon Niiwit.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

I am willing and able to have a conversation about the substance of what is going on in the schools or has gone on the schools with anyone ... even anonymously! I am not willing to engage in a dialogue which consists entirely of personal attacks on and accusations about me, which has no benefit to anyone (and certainly doesn't improve education in Amherst).

I care passionately about public education, and hence devoted many years to improving the schools in Amherst (not only as a member of the SC, but on math review committees and principal searches and the reorganization committee before that). And despite the continued anonymous personal attacks leveled at me on this blog (potentially by a single anonymous person who just posts repeatedly), I sincerely, 100% hope that that person is right that Maria Geryk and the current SC can make important and necessary changes to our public schools so that they can indeed live up to their full potential. I'd love to be able to keep my younger two children in our public schools (particularly since paying for private school even for our oldest child will be very difficult for our family).

Anonymous said...

good one larry!

i'm curious, have you ever had a problem with someone signing someone else's name to comments you publish here? how do you know whether that happens or not with this kind of a format? and i mean when people don't log in but just sign their names at the bottom of the comment. do you feel that you personally have any responsibility to make sure people don't do that? for example, when aronson commented then just signed his name at the end... do you call those people or anything to make sure it was actually them and not an impersonator?

LarryK said...

Well not too many people, like yourself for instance, leave their names.

About a month ago some Nitwit used a UMass female name to post an attack on what turned out to be her friends (at a Party House) but she quickly responded and I deleted the comment.

And a couple weeks back a party house UMass student arrested for noise posted something with his full name and status as a veteran of Afghanistan.

I emailed him at his UMass account to ensure it was really him (it was); and I've sent a Freedom of Information request to the National Records clearing house for military records to corroborate his veteran status.

I once had a guy from Turkey post something vaguely threatening on the anniversary of 9/11 (and he had a very weird website I tracked back to). I turned that over to Federal authorities who thought it was weird but harmless (apparently he sent the same comment to an ultra-liberal blogger in Canada).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Catherine but I know people all over the place, not just in the Amherst public schools, who think you are a CRAZY BIRD and I would rather have the conversation with sane people actually involved in making the schools better, like Shabazz, Geryk, O'brien, Cohen. You're just someone who failed miserably in your attempts to ouster Geryk for personal reasons in the past, and who wanted us to bullet vote for the least popular candidate in town by far, because he too hates Superintendent Geryk. (Or was it because he's the only person in this whole town who will ask "the tough questions" of her and the S.C.?) My presence here as an anon commenter has nothing to do with wanting to have a civil conversation with you or anyone about the Amherst schools. And Larry's cool with that. I'm just here to get you silly people to respond to my nonsense. i must say i am slightly impressed that you have this time around been able to keep your cool and not get too entangled or make too much of a fool of yourself on the blogs...

as a matter of fact... adios.

Anonymous said...

that's interesting larry, thanks for the real response.

Anonymous said...

118 blog comments certainly speaks volumes about all of our happiness and contentment, an overall sense of peace, about the current performance of our public schools.

You don't get this kind of reaction when you mention libraries.

Obviously, everything is hunky-dory with the schools.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can say that all 118 commenters think there is a problem with the schools. What all these comments indicate to me is that Catherine Sanderson is a lightening rod. And she is loving every minute of it. I think the way to approach CS is to ignore her. Who cares what she thinks? She loves all this attention. Just ignore her, let her adoring fans bow down and worship her every word. But the rest of us should just ignore her.

Anonymous said...

118 comments, but how many COMMENTERS? That's the question. I count 6: Larry, Irv, Joel, Catherine, that guy who wants to get paid by the town, and an anon. 4 out of the 6 are the usual complainers, Irv just wanted to say thanks, and the anon obviously has stated that he was just here to muck things up a little. If you think there are scores of towns residents here commenting, you are way off.

LarryK said...

My sitemeters (both of them) beg to differ.

Anonymous said...

There must be 2 Catherine Sandersons in Amherst.

This is the one that teaches at Amherst College:
"Smart, witty, quick and entertaining to the last degree. ...not arrogant at all. .. Makes everything so much more accessible. Really puts the interest in interesting."
(ratemyprofessor.com)

The rest of us apparently got her doppleganger.

Anonymous said...

I think it is clear that not all the 118 commenters are in support of Catherine Sanderson and her view of the schools.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

You don't have to rely on Larry's blog to count dissatisfaction with the schools ... you can count the people who aren't using our schools, which is a pretty clear measure of dissatifaction. Those people are quiet about the reasons behind their departure, because who wants to take the kind of abuse you get from actually daring to express concerns about our public schools.

But there are many of them: two of the three leaders of Sustainable Amherst have children not attending our public schools, former PGO presidents of Marks Meadow/ARMS/Fort River/ARHS have kids not attending our public schools, principals in our schools have kids not attending our schools, current and former SC members have kids not attending our schools, board members of AEF have kids not attending our public schools.

Public schools are very, very convenient - they are free, they come with free transportation. So, when people opt out of our schools for other choices, which inherently involve difficulties (e.g., money, transportation, logistics), it means they prefer some option than our public schools for their own children. That speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for money, transportation and logistics we would leave too. Pretty sad.

Anonymous said...

My children have long left the Amherst schools.

But here is what I ran into: Disrespected with no voice as a parent by an elementary school principal who should have retired. (I asked for them to correct invented spelling if it were on a child's drawing posted in the halls. Now I have two kids who cannot spell worth beans. I ascribe it to filing past incorrect spelling daily.) When he did retire, the next guy needed to cover up for and retain a totally inept teacher who made my then 10 year old into a classroom scapegoat (when the teacher didn't know how to use camera equipment and my daughter didn't either).

At the sixth grade "exit interview," I was told, 'I just sit her in the corner with 3 other girls who are so far ahead in math, I just let them read the book in a corner.' Can you imagine how far my kid could have gotten WITH a teacher?

Meanwhile, I'm one of those who would tank the MCAS math scores -- boy, am I glad I didn't go to school in Amherst!

As far as private school vs. public school, the private school is always going to win academically. Number one, it is a self-selected group with the parents requiring achievement, and with parents who have the resources to hire a tutor if necessary. We did not have the money to go to a private school. Luckily, I had two smart cookies who could advance despite behavioral problems in the classrooms, teachers who couldn't spell or spot errors on homework, and teachers who thought it was o.k. to bully a chubby kid.

Anonymous said...

larry is no longer printing anti-Catherine posts. Probably won't post this one either. Pretty disappointing, Larry.

LarryK said...

I'm sure it is.

Anonymous said...

So what's the point, Larry? This has turned from a discussion to a cheer-leading for one side blog. When readers have you confirm that you will now only allow the comments from one side to be posted how fast do you think everyone will just stop reading? I do appreciate your honesty, however, in letting us all know that the discussion has become completely one-sided.

i would not recommend living in amherst said...

at least the so called crazy bird has the integrity and proverbial balls to post under her own name. people post anonymously since they would never want to be known for saying such asshole things, lest they themselves become the target. in this respect, i think larry's blog provides a platform for irresponsible drivel talk that does not benefit the town dialogue.

what do i know though, i am just bat shit crazy.

'bach

Anonymous said...

which side?

LarryK said...

Yes 'Bach you are (about some things anyway).

Which is why I did not bring up the detail last week on my JCPC articles that $60,000 in unspent money from various departments over the past five years was redirected to current capital item needs ($30,000 of it anyway) and the lions share of those residual monies came from the 250th Parade Committee.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:05 am,

Glad you noticed the contradiction.

Those of us who are rational don't believe in doppelgangers.

Perhaps the problem is with you and your friends, and the little exercise in character assassination that you've been involved in.

And here's where the need to be anonymous comes in: if you can do it to Catherine, you can do it to anybody in town who dares to offer less than a rosy assessment of these schools.

She worked to close down your cozy resource-devouring elementary school in town where the well-heeled in the big houses sent their kids.

Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Many folks on both ends of the polarized debate seem unable to accept that the other end sometimes has valid and reasonable issues. Those who hate CS, like the Amherst Center folks, will not tolerate anyone in their group who may share some of the same concerns that CS sought to address- 'you are either with them or against them'. Some folks on CS side are unwilling to acknowledge that some people have been very hurt by the way that CS went about her efforts (but hey, no one is perfect 100% of the time).

I am somewhere in between, why I no longer want to be in the Amherst Center club. I recognize that many (not all) of the ISSUES raised by CS are ones that I am also concerned about. Do I always agree with her- no, of course not. But we are concerned about the same things, whether or not I like her, are largely irrelevant. The issues are there, INDEPENDENT of CS.

I hope that the exit of Graham signals a new level of sophistication in Ms Geryk. I still have yet to hear anything about the plans (existing and potentially pending) to deal with our still weak math program. I will note that Ms Geryk issued her utmost confidence in the math plan submitted by Graham over a year ago...

Irv was right when he said no record is better than any record. Many folks out there won't tolerate a SC member that differs in just a single opinion/decision than their own. Best not to offer any (like Appy, for example). There is NO forgiveness or tolerance by the movers and shakers in this town- and they can be vicious (especially when crossed)

bach said...

and why mention it now? of course I am not surprised the money was there... with gatekeepers like Roberts and shafter. in retrospect, it forced me out of amherst, the best thing that could have happened to me. unfortunately I never learned the ponzitown shuffle.

bach

Anonymous said...

I have a theory: Catherine, or more likely one of her cohorts, are posting the mean, anonymous posts about her. It makes sense: it's no secret she craves attention. She has demonstrated enjoying being the "victim". She needed to insert herself into this election because it had nothing to do with her and her agenda. When nobody flocked to her when she started up her thing again while endorsing Aronson, she needed (psychologically) to insert herself further, and make the election about her. And by posting bogus negative comments about herself, it makes "the other side" look bad. Why all of a sudden now, after such a long silence from anyone about Catherine, when the focus has been on Shabazz and O'Brien, are we hearing from her/about her? It also would work to reinforce the label of cowardly anons, unlike the people with "integrity". It's an old trick, new media.

Anonymous said...

It would explain the wackiness of some of the posts about her too... make the others seem wacky and mean-spirited.

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha, Bach I don't think you've made it out of Amherst completely yet!

LarryK said...

That's because you are wacky and mean-spirited, Anon 9:53 PM.

Anonymous said...

Larry, that actually sounds plausible to me. Dirty tricks. "All is fair in love and WAR"? They did declare war, Larry, actually used the word War. They said: "Tell her this is WAR. Make sure you tell her that!" Then angrily got into a car and sped away.

LarryK said...

Yeah, and 9/11 and Pearl Harbor were inside jobs orchestrated by our government. And damn it, the Easter Bunny is real!

Anonymous said...

Ha! I love the way Larry encourages name-calling on this blog. He calls posters "nitwits" and "wacky". Hilarious! May we all partake in the name-calling, Larry?

Anonymous said...

Catherine Sanderson did more good for the Amherst Schools in her short time than Appy, Shabazz, and O'Brien will do in the next three combined. She was right to battle against Geryk being hired. As a matter of fact, I still have not seen her CV?

LarryK said...

I published it 18 months ago:

http://onlyintherepublicofamherst.blogspot.com/2010/10/whats-big-secret.html

LarryK said...

Anon 10:34 PM:

Yes you can name call, but you're just a Cowardly Anon Nitwit if you do not sign your real name to it.

Harry throbhurts said...

let's see... 60k for Emily's fence...7k of that ought to get me a nice poets gate for de jardin.

thanks Larry, let me know when my gate is restored, and I'll send my boys over.

re CS being the anons, Larry probably knows from analytics, he knows the ip addresses of the posters

Anonymous said...

I believe that an issue that many had with Chen and his recommendations is that he gave the same recommendations to another schools district, then three years later changed his tune and said that they should change again to another text book, system, or whatever you call it, that cost them another huge chunk. I'm not sure, I remember talking to someone who knew more than me and said something like that. also, i think i remember some school committee members responding in a letter(?) to the bulletin or something about thisd issue and they demonstrated how they were implementing several of his recommendations (but not a new text book and it's related expenses.)

Anonymous said...

Steve Rivkin is a... is a... damn, help me out here Larry!

Anonymous said...

In the seventies and eighties, in Germany, as television stations were signing off for the night (remember that?) they would televise footage of Nazi crimes and... well, I don't need to go into detail, we've all seen the footage... but it was televised as a "Lest We Forget" type thing, as many of the young folks then didn't experience what happened themselves.

Some commentors here have suggested that other commentors are "obsessed" with the hours and hours of footage of Catherine Sanderson's and Steve Rivkin's WAR strategies, their letters, their blog posts, their web site propoganda...

I suggest that a compilation of this activity is warranted. In ten years, if Catherine Sanderson decides to try to be a politician again, this data could be used to demonstrate for new residents the kind of trauma Catherine and Steve (and Joel, and Abby, and...) caused this town. Perhaps a 1/2 hour documentary format? (I heard Catherine is writing a book about how f'd up she thinks the schools are in Amherst.)

LarryK said...

And if she is writing a book, this post will be the perfect sell to a prospective publisher.

After a year out of office still able to generate all this, errr, enthusiasm.

This initial posting set a new record for pageviews (1,575) and of course Comments (150 and counting).

Yeah, that Catherine and Steve. Right up there with Bush/Cheney.

Or 9/11. Gotta remember. But hey, this is Amherst--we're not big on annually remembering.

So we only remember 9/11 once every five years.

But I'm sure you will long remember a couple of school committee members who tried to make a positive difference and were crucified for it.

Or your version of it.

Anonymous said...

anon@ 135:
Ms Graham was mistaken on the that, when she was given the full information, she didn't think it was important to inform the public (and neither did Ms Geryk). Hence there are lots of people out there that believe we had a valid reason to reject the text book recommendation. Not true. It was a disappointing moment that reflected poorly on her ethical judgement, I think. Ms Geryk's?

Anonymous said...

0% of Catherine Sanderson's endorsees won office last Tuesday, while something like 99% of Amherst Center's endorsees won.
I'll buy the Amherst Center book.

As they say, "we are the 99%"

---New In Town, from Wentworth Institute Technology
(NIT WIT)

LarryK said...

Wow, you really are a nitwit (or maybe just new in town). The Amherst Center lost a seat on the School Committee, a sitting Chair no less. Worst upset since 2004.

And Amherst Center's Clare Bertrand was the campaign chair!

Oh, and perhaps I should note that four years ago Amherst Center ENDORSED Catherine Sanderson for School Committee while I dubbed her a typical Ivory Tower academic who was born with a platinum spoon in her mouth.

But that was then...

harry shafter said...

"I dubbed her a typical Ivory Tower academic who was born with a platinum spoon in her mouth"

geez larry, you gotta stop pulling your punches...or karate chopz


H.S.

click the link

LarryK said...

Why start now.

an allied individual said...

a 1/2 hour documentary will not be necessary to sway antone's opinion of ms. sanderson. a small collection of written and spoken statements, and obne set of leaked documents will do. when folks see the contents of alberto rodriguez's evaluation... and then listen to catherine's statements in support of him, and her statements that she personally likes him, people will say, "whoa. okay." even her little kiss-bum students will say WTF? (that's the way the kids today would say it, not me.) and then to learn that after he was fired that she stayed in touch with him, and even wrote him a letter to submit to the bulletin criticizing the schools...

trust me folks, i've seen a leaked copy of the eval. you'll want to barf. and catherine likes him and thinks he was doing a great job.

before you ask... now would not be a strategically good time (you know, war strategy) to leak that evaluation and all of catherine's statements in support of him after she read it.

catherine: did you feel the need to take a shower or anything after you read alberto's eval? i did.

LarryK said...

And if you can't trust an Anon--especially with one such a spelling/punctuation talent--who can you trust?

Anonymous said...

Larry, you've got a lot of inside connections, did you ever get to read a copy of A-Rod's evaluation?

Anonymous said...

We should trust Catherine, because after all, she puts a picture up next to her name when she comments. That means you're right, and not lying, if you do that, whereas Anon NitWits like me are untrustworthy and wrong by virtue of the fact that we are Anon NitWits.

Oh, I forgot... COWARDLY Anon NitWits. I just love the name-calling Larry encourages on this blog!

Anonymous said...

CS could suggest to the publishers that the less than one percent of Amherst Town residents who voted for the candidate she endorsed will buy her book.

LarryK said...

Anon 8:16 PM
No, I did not get to read the evaluations. And I doubt the C.A.N at 7:42 PM did either.

Anonymous said...

this is C.A.N. at 7:42 larry. i've read the eval, for real, lots of people have. you will too, i promise, i'll make sure of it. and you may change your mind once again about your perky pal.

perhaps i could leak a few little details to you about what i read, then you could ask the perky ex-SC member if what i leak was in there, then you could know i'm for real. but i won't get it to you on here, another way? so i can stay a C.A.N.? so that way when the bomb drops, it will be "shock and awe" time.

but i'll only get you some details if you can get CS to get on here and say, "yes, C.A.N. at 7:42, give some details to larry, because i am calling bullshit on you, and besides, there was nothing in there i found objectionable, and i still admire A.R. and believe he was doing a great job as superintendent of the amherst public schools."

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is getting weird. Perhaps, anon of the lower case 'i' should contact wikileaks? Either that or 'i' is becoming seriously unhinged. We await your decision with anticipation.

If you really got the report, I wonder who (conveniently)'leaked' it? (If it really is the smoking gun you claim)....How exciting!

Anonymous said...

This is turning into Springer.
A previous anon was worried the nutjob could be their kids teacher. I'm more worried it's the parent of one of their friends.
CS is making the right decision by moving to private school.

Anonymous said...

South Florida showing up on your site meters yet Larry?

LarryK said...

Actually I have a few Floridian fans.

Anonymous said...

Larry, i think it would be great if you could get a copy of A-Rod's eval. please do that fro the rest of us

LarryK said...

Actually it's not a public document, so it would be illegal for me to publish.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

It would also be illegal for me to discuss any of the contents of the evaluation, since it is not a public document, as I assume the anonymous poster knows (a major violation of SC ethics which could be prosecuted).

But I am certainly comfortable saying that Alberto brought in three well-respected outside experts to review various aspects of our district (Dr. Irving Hamer, Dr. Barry Beers, Dr. Andrew Chen) and each of those independent consultants identified substantial concerns about aspects of our schools (which existed long before I was elected to SC). I believe Dr. Rodriguez was trying to fix some of the fundamental problems in our schools, and those efforts were certainly not appreciated by some employees in the district (ironically, many of these employees pushed very hard to hire Dr. Rodriguez over Dr. Sklarz, a superintendent finalist who had considerable experience in three different districts, presumably because they assumed Dr. Rodriguez would not focus on making such changes).

Anonymous said...

It's all true about Arod's evaluation. Everyone one the inside knows it. That and other things that anyone who's half awake can easily read between the lines.

Or did you think that resigning your job one day before your evaluation goes public was about some small, insignificant mistakes?

Wake up! He was a disastrous hire. We're much better off without him.

LarryK said...

And it worked so well for Arod, that Town Manager Larry Shaffer used the same technique a little later, suddenly "retiring" on the very night the Select Board was going to evaluate him in public.

Anonymous said...

Larry can you tell when Maria Geryk pops in from Kathy Mazur's office?

LarryK said...

Probably not, I think I'm being shunned these days.

The mighty Roach Patrol said...

Oh yes.


AMHERST - The contract for Alberto Rodriguez, chosen as the next superintendent of Amherst Regional School District, is nearly finalized, said Amherst Regional School Committee member Elaine L. Brighty.

Brighty and Kathryn J. Mazur, district human resources director, recently visited the Miami-Dade School District where Rodriguez is principal. The March 19 visit was another step toward the district signing a contract to make Rodriguez the next superintendent.


Anyone know these two women?


Anyone???

Anonymous said...

Back to the SC election for a minute here.

The status quo, pro-Maria camp won big time. There's no questioning that. The vast majority of Amherst is supporting the current administration. There's no questioning that. They have exactly what they want.

But, let's not delude ourselves into confusing what people want and what's good for them or even right. The hubris in this town is massive on this.

Poor white folk in Alabama and Mississippi and elsewhere almost always vote against their interests. It's called Ideology. They vote anti-govt. even though they depend on govt. money. They vote anti-union even though unions would elevate their wages. They vote against all forms of civil equality on race, gender, class, sexuality, even though they are clearly discriminated against. And on and on, every good liberal in Amherst knows this and just shakes their heads in amazement about those poor "rubes."

Well, look in a mirror. You're paying massive property taxes for mediocre at best schools. You have teachers who extorted raises in a recession and a Super who couldn't make the short list in any other town's superintendent search. You have experimental curricula and failing elementary schools, but -- and this is the big "but"- you scream and yell and stomp your feet if anyone shows you that it isn't all perfect and wonderful and the best in the whole country.

Yes, every other district is crazy and rightwing and anti-intellectual because they allow racist trash like "West Side Story" and teach Shakespeare and give AP Chemistry. Yes, the fools. We know best, just like our brethren in Alabama!

Anonymous said...

and you are not signing your name to this why, michael? we heard you give that little speech about mg not making it onto the list in granby. i wonder, do you know why? i do. and i'll even tell you why, and it is info that can be confirmed in granby. first, i'd like to hear your guess.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Amherst could address the achievement gap the same way one of its neighboring town's did in their High School: they helped the Latino boy who goes to school there raise his math grade from a B- to an A-. The numbers shifted DRAMATICALLY.

Anonymous said...

It seems like every time I open the Bulletin or the Gazette there is something in there about one of Amherst's children getting a Rhode's Scholarship, or a sixth grader came in second in the state in this or that, another h.s. kid is taking part in difficult to get accepted to program, kids making dean's list at this or that top college, or that several of our best athletes are going onto major schools with full scholarships based on their athletic abilities AND their grades. I hear about amazing groups and clubs and other things not available in other schools. I hear graduates come back and say that they were way ahead of their peers at their new college because of some of the amazing course offerings (and the great teachers who develop, teach them) that were available to them here. Every day, there are stories of kids really achieving. Someone should compile a list of all the ARHS kids' accomplishments in the last couple of year!

And now, for the first time in quite a while, the admin and the board is stacked with people interested in making those stories relevant to kids who have traditionally not been able to reach their full potential in the schools here and elsewhere. (As the Professor from Harvard pointed out the other day, [he was invited to Amherst because he is an expert in issues related to closing the achievement gap,] the achievement gap issue is certainly not one isolated to Amherst.)

You can choose your data source from where you'd like, I really don't care what the MCAS scores say.

LarryK said...

Well the state does care, and they give us a ton of money to run our schools--on top of the ton local taxpayers give (the heaviest in the region).

Anonymous said...

This town is filled with great and smart kids, but the schools don't always serve them well.

The idea that someone won a Rhodes (which you get your senior year in college, not HS) or that some kids won prizes or did well in college admissions isn't the point. Many of our best would do well anywhere.

Northampton pushes AP classes and pays for AP tests for kids on free and reduced lunch. We avoid APs because our teachers don't like having to use someone else's curriculum.

You can celebrate the achievements of some of our kids, but it's a mistake to generalize from the experiences of the highest achievers to the entire town.

Anonymous said...

Let's use this metric:

If Mark Jackson sends his child to the public schools then we'll know he thinks they're good.

If Mark Jackson continues to spend a ton of money on private school (given his very high salary, he isn't getting financial aid), then we know what he thinks of our public schools.

Simple. Beyond debate. Measure the schools by how the ARHS principal measures them.

Anonymous said...

and while you are compiling that list of accomplishments, please make a list of all the kids struggling, whos parents are begging for help, and the ones who, in high school, end up at the south amherst campus or drop out.
nobody denies the greatness that is achieved here, we are just tired of the rest of the issues being ignored.

Anonymous said...

JUST ANOTHER C.A.N. (maybe Larry could get shirts printed for us)

The A-rod talk made me wonder about a rumor that always smelled of conspiracy theory but who knows. It is certainly fitting with a school admin that eliminates outsiders looking for change. Were the evaluations filled out honestly and independently or was there some portion of the administration that used it as an effective tool to scare A-rod out of town. Just like this blog with people like me posting as C.A.N. and could write anything. Could A-rods evaluation be filled with crap that would have been career ending? Who knows? Whatever was in that eval truthful or NOT clearly it was some pretty bad stuff to get a man to give up 150K+ a year and pull up stakes in a matter of days.

But then hey what did we expect. He commissioned three evaluations on the Middle school, special ed, and the math program all showing weakness in our schools. We had to get rid of him.

I share the sentiments of the earlier anon who writes they don’t fully agree with either side. We have become to polarized, for change, against change. What is sad is that when you try to balance a conversation with both good and bad you get the same results as when you say things are bad. NOTHING CHANGES. The only difference is that no one crucifies you for your opinion.

I also agree seeing Mark Jackson sending his kids to the schools and the members of A.E.F., School Committee, etc doing the same would make me feel a lot better about sending my kids to the schools. I know what concerns me, I wonder what concerns them?

Anonymous said...

I think you can best judge the schools by how well the kids do who do NOT have parents with lots of resources (including TIME, money, drives to extra-curricular activities and tutors). the kids with those parents/guardians will always do well and win awards, scholarships etc. no matter where they are. they could be taught in a shoe box, and they will still succeed. It's the other kids that our schools are failing!

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:32

What is your beef with the South Amherst Campus. My child went there and will soon graduate summa cum laude from college before heading off to graduate school

Anonymous said...

The special ed and math evaluations were not done until after A-Rod left. So, they had no impact on his decision to leave. Further, the Middle School evaluation was received in a very positive way by Mr. Hayes, and he invited Mr Beers to come back a few times to keep working with the school. So, Anon 1:08, I think your reasoning around A-Rod is a tad bit flawed.

Anonymous said...

i can think of all sorts of reasons that it would suck for the dad (principal jackson), the kid, and all of his subordinates/her teachers if s/he went to the HS. all avoided by his decision. I have no idea what the principal's reasons were however. as a child i was in a very similar situation and i did not wish that i went to a different school, but that my dad would work at another school. it really, really sucked for a lot of people, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, all avoided by his decision. there can really be some conflicts of interest, believe me! i would never put my name to it because in real life i'm a real tough guy ;), but some aspects of the situation were traumatizing and made my life real hard at the time. AND the situation was probably distracting and difficult for some teachers too in retrospect. but again, I DON'T KNOW WHY he made the decision he did. sorry for getting into your business Mr. Jackson (like he's reading this!)

Anonymous said...

and i forgot to say that it is not an unusual situation for a parent to be working in the school that the parent is working in, we probably all know someone. sometimes it works ok, sometimes definitely not.

Anonymous said...

fortunately for the kids who are struggling, and their parents (and all of us,) there is a stacked deck of folks in the school administration and on the school committee who are focused on doing all they can to help each kid "live up to their full potential."

Anonymous said...

does anyone have any statistics on percentages of parents who opt out of the public schools in towns like longmeadow, cambridge, newton? i'm just starting to think that in a town like--i'm just choosing one--bondsville, the percentage opting out would be very low, for economic reasons, but that it wouldn't imply that the parents are necessarily very happy with the schools...and vice-versa. does that make sense?

a straightforward and not angry response would be very helpful!

Anonymous said...

anon 1:56:

i disagree that we are polarized between people who "want change" and people who "don't want change". first of all, the phrase is so non-specific, what are we talking about here? I would guess that you would suggest that maria geryk "does not want change". that just sounds absurd to me.

secondly, less than one percent of the population of the town voted for the so-called "change" candidate. (that candidate received less than ten percent of all votes cast for a school committee member.)

that doesn't sound like polarization to me, it sounds like we are split around 9-1, and that might be generous.

Anonymous said...

me at anon 8:47 again: i meant to say it's not unusual for a parent to be working in a school where their child goes.

Anonymous said...

carrie:

"no one can explain my teeny tiny example of gaps in the math program."

who do you think is on here to explain that to you, carrie? who do you think you're arguing with? name one person, and where they are from, that you think you are arguing with.

you're in the wrong place lady if you think this is where the real conversations about education in amherst are happening!

come join the crowd!

LarryK said...

Obviously she would have a hard time naming YOU. (I wonder why that is?)

Anonymous said...

larry, i have several different personalities, like that sybil lady, and so leaving my "name" wouldn't allow me to freely express myself. maybe i'm no one.

and regarding the record number of hits and posts... you're welcome.

LarryK said...

Well the record for pageviews was already broken a few hours ago by today's Party House article.

Although this record for Comments will probably hold up...forever.

Anonymous said...

New school committee members' 1st SC meeting is tonight. Let's see how they do. I'm not too optimistic but hoping they will prove me wrong.

Anonymous said...

Actually, their first SC a Regional meeting) meeting was last Wednesday - and they were great. Asked some good questions at a very good meeting - very imformative. If you want to know what is happening at the MS and HS lately you should watch that meeting. And, even though it was a Regional meeting, Rhonda Cohen spoke about some ES school issues, including the math program.

Anonymous said...

It took almost 200 comments and seven days before someone mentioned that an ARPS administrator (new Curriculum Director) gave a presentation about math last week? "carrie", you must have been here on the blogs, rather than taking part in the real discussion out here in the real world. As the fifth commenter on this thread said seven days ago, "You don't know what you are talking about and you have no interest in learning more."

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