Thursday, November 14, 2013

And So It Begins ... Again


I don't pretend to understand all the intricacies of "Common Core," but I do know there are a goodly number of parents greatly concerned about its implementation in the Amherst Regional Public Schools.  

Anyone interested in staying informed on a grass roots roots level can send an email to:


I just wanted to say sorry for the delay in getting everyone’s email together.  I offered to put this together as it seemed there were many parents who needed help getting organized with other parents.

For those of you who don’t now me, I have served on two School Councils, helped various SC members run for election, volunteered on Playground rebuilds, was a member of the K-16 math council, served on a few teacher hiring committees, and various other informal groups working for better schools.

My kids are no longer in the Amherst school system but from my experience in working for change I learned a few things and from others who came before me working for change.

All that being said, I hope at a minimum, I am able to get like minded parents contact information to each other.   I hope this helps each of you reach a broader community concerned with education in general and specifically today, the MS math curriculum.

To start I will be sending out a group email so each of you can contact each other.  Depending on what the group wants I can set up a list serve (which is an email that goes out to the group each time it is responded to), possibly a web site or blog depending on time and group desires.

Many people have asked if there is a meeting with Rhonda Cohen.  To my knowledge no one has come forth telling me of a group meeting.  From my experience with Rhonda she has no problem meeting with parents in groups or one on one.  If someone on this list is so inclined they could set up that first initial meeting and share it with the group.

I would recommend that each person who is posting realize that with the number of people in this group you consider all documents public documents.  Emails are easily shared.  If you would not say it in public you probably don’t want to write it here.

Also I know several of you well or fairly well and there are is a wide range of satisfaction with the schools system.  Keeping comments respectful as well as having a thick skin to harsher comments that may happen from time to time is important when working with a group.  You all want the option for strong math curriculum and likely strong curriculum in general for those kids who need or desire it.  I am sure many of the people on this list feel the need for good education on social justice issues and quality special needs education as well.  If you feel the need to vent (and we all do at times) in a way that may that may offend others in the group please try to send you communication to those very aligned with your mind set.

This being said, let me know what I can do (from experience or technical aspects) to support you and we will go from there.

Good luck
Michael Jacques


Anonymous said...

What is the point of your post?

Larry Kelley said...

You must be new.

Anonymous said...

Maybe your could be clearer. It's a re-post of a long memo. The memo doesn't say much, so I'm not sure what your point is.

Larry Kelley said...

The memo doesn't strike me as "long". And it's also perfectly clear.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps some of the usual paranoids can explain what the concern is.

Anonymous said...

The post is about what many parents are concerned, the quality of our local K-12 public education.

Anonymous said...

In general I am happy with the quality of the Amherst K-12 education. I only have concerns about the ability of kids to continue to be able to take algebra in the 8th grade and then the usual math courses after that in high school.

Anonymous said...

I think that the comments of anon@309 captures the concerns of those involved in the email posted.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:09, how much did Maria Geryk pay you to post your comment?

Anonymous said...

SC only praise school admins. Then Algebra and Geometry are taken away from 7th graders quietly. Common core curriculum is the minimum standard. School admins quietly change our goal to be a minimum standard school. Parents and students are in the dark. We only find this out in this blog. This cannot go on!

K-12 education in ARPS are.all in danger. Maria Geryk, Rhonda Cohen, and Ian stitch are all responsible to this travesty to the parents and families.

Many of our students want and need alternative curriculum pathway for acceleration and choices.

School admins, listen to this. Fix your problems. Delay it, ignore it, you will see uprisings!

Anonymous said...

"Common core curriculum is the minimum standard. School admins quietly change our goal to be a minimum standard school."

This is just complete nonsense. No such thing is happening.

Anonymous said...

to anon 9:26AM

Either you are new to the blog, or you refuse to acknowledge the fact. Here is some information from previous post.

1 Why Common core is minimum standard?

From the paper, Can This Country Survive Common Core’s College Readiness Level? by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky. September 2013

The following was quoted from Dr. Jason Zimba, the lead Common Core Math Writer on Common Core Math's College-readiness level:

“Mr. Zimba said that the concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges."

“We have agreement to the extent that it’s a fuzzy definition, that the minimally college-ready student is a student who passed Algebra II.” (background knowledge: Most middle school and high school offer Math curriculum above algebra II, i.e. Trigonometry, pre-calculus, calculus AB, calculum BC, AP Physics (rigorous version require calculum BC).

Stotsky (a member of the state board at the time) later asked him to clarify what he meant. Zimba stated: “In my original remarks, I didn't make that point strongly enough or signal the agreement that we have on this—the definition of college readiness. I think it's a fair critique that it's a minimal definition of college readiness.”

Stotsky remarked at this point “for some clleges,” and Zimba responded by stating: “Well, for the colleges most kids go to, but not for the colleges most parents aspire to.”

Stotsky then asked “Not for STEM? Not for international competitiveness?” Zimba responded “Not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges. For example, for UC Berkeley, whether you are going to be an engineer or not, you'd better have precalculus to get into UC Berkeley.”

Stotsky then said: “Right, but we have to think of the engineering colleges and the scientific pathway.” Zimba added “That's true, I think the third pathway goes a lot towards that. But your issue is broader than that.”

In white paper, "Controlling Education from the top", Stotsky further argue the common core standard defines “college-readiness” as ready for a nonselective community college, not a four-year university.

2. Why Current School admin is running our school to a minimum standard school?

As we all know now, Algebra and geometry is taken away from current 7th graders and all lower graders that comes to middle school in the future.

School admin doesn't not plan to preserve existing alternative curriculum pathway, as agreed and even recommended by Common Core Math Designer, Jason Zimba. Current School Admin thought the common core is one size to fit all students needs. No Curriculum choice, or curriculum acceleration is necessary. They actually cut the existing alternative curriculum pathway from 7th graders on in middle school.

Instead, the school admins will use the Common Core, the minimum curriculum pathway, to replace existing flexible, multiple curriculum pathway. School Admins will use Common Core as SINGLE curriculum pathway.

From this, we conclude the school admin is going to run the school as minimum standard school.

Anonymous said...

To anon 9:26AM and other newcomers,

Here are some links from previous posts,

Source #1: Controlling Education from the top: (problems & deficiencies of Common Core Math and English Language Art)

source #2: Can This Country Survive Common Core’s College Readiness Level? by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky. September 2013

source #3: Two Moms vs. Common Core: Indiana is the first state to retreat from Common Core.

Anonymous said...

I am hoping that school admistrators will contact all parents and tell them about the changes in math in all schools. What evidence supports the changes?

Anonymous said...

Let the circling of the wagons by school administrators begin. Let the marginalizing of parents who question the plans of school administrators begin.

This uprising is going to go right where all the others have gone: right back underground.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever feel that they are simply doing trial-and-error experiments with your child?

Ripping you off one dollar at a time said...

Trial and error?

Nah, they're simply maintaining appearances.

Know what I mean?

Anonymous said...

Rhonda Cohen, the director of teaching learning in Amherst Regional Schools came from Winchester, MA public school system. She stayed there for about an year. She killed some of the academic program in Winchester, MA public school. but she doesn't have time to kill all of them. As of today, the Winchester school has preserved some of the good the tradition of Math curriculum.

At grade 7, Winchester school offers Pre-Algebra, Algebra 7, Advanced Algebra 7.

At Grade 8, Winchester School offers Pre-Albegra 8, Algebra 8, Algebra II, Advanced Algebra II.

Here is Winchester McCall Middle school web site for curriculum offerings.

Winchester public school offers a broad spectrum Math curriculum in grade 7 and grade 8 to suite students of ALL abilities and needs. They offer pre-algebra, algebra I and algebra II in both grade 7 and grade 8, meaning similiar course is available and ready in different grades. whenever a student is ready, he/she can start to learn.

Why Winchester public school can preserve the good tradition of alternative curriculum pathways and flexibilities, and Amherst Regional school cannot.

Is it because Amherst Regional school has low school budget and cannot afford to provide challenging and excellent education to ALL its students when each of them is ready? No!

We have $18,000 education cost per student in our districts. That is very high in Massachusetts and across the nation. Where does the money go?

The School administrators split the money among themselves at the top of the pyramid before passing them down to the teachers.

Superintendent, Maria Geryk, has annual salary close to $150,000 a year.

Rhonda Cohen, director of teaching and learning, has an annual salary of $100,000 a year.

Ian Stith, K-8 coordinator of Math and Science, has an annual salary of $100,000 a year.

These three people sucks $350,000 a year from Amherst Regional School System. While these people are on Amherst Regional School's Taxpayer's payroll, they are planning to cut our curriculum to the bone of minimum curriculum pathway, deprive the curriculum choice and curriculum acceleration from our students, kill the alternative curriculum pathway that many school district (not just high performing school district) preserve.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Amherst. The gift that keeps on giving, where the people at the top are all hot air and ego. Just try watching a school committee meeting on ACTV. Unbelievable garbage. Who the hell are these people anyway?