Friday, January 10, 2014

Well Bully For The Blog!

I have to wonder if Amherst School Superintendent Maria Geryk said she was going to jump off the Calvin Coolidge Bridge at the end of this month, would the Gazette and Bulletin put that on the front page? 

At the very least, since it taps into this powerful newfangled Internet, Ms. Geryk probably should have asked her fake Twitter doppelgangerr to first break the news about her, as yet, unnamed blog.


Anonymous said...

I use the Gazette as liner in my bird cage.

Tom McBride said...

There's something you don't like about Geryk Larry, or the Bulletin?

Anonymous said...

Larry's story is that the Bulletin published a news report on the front page of their print newspaper. Larry, you are definitely the journalist who broke this story, no one else has even picked up on it yet. Good work.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, and as a result I will a Pulitzer.

Maybe the Bully will put that prediction on the front page.

Anonymous said...

There was an article about this in the gazette before Larry mentioned it here. Not much of a scoop for Larry.

Larry Kelley said...

That's okay. At the moment it's not much of a story.

Anonymous said...

She has visibly aged.

Anonymous said...

You can say that again.

Anonymous said...

I was responding to anon 1016 who was crowing about your"scoop. "

Anonymous said...

Maria Geryk is the most skilled political operator in town.

You can see that as either a strength, a weakness, or a little of both.

That may be where Larry gets his edge about her.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually the Town Manager is more skilled.

And I have an "edge" for all the "Powers That Be".

Anonymous said...

Maria Geryk has once again caught up to the rest of the world — and it only took a person with a phony # to teach her something. Actually Larry, you should get the credit. Your blog showed her the power a website has to communicate. Unfortunately she'll once again pick a way to communicate that keeps her in her little tower and keeps folks at a distance. Then again, she set that tone so most folks want to be at a distance from her anyway. It's probably her best choice at this juncture. Just as in the legal industry, where the less industrious attorneys work in the public sector, the best educational administrators work for private institutions and the rest work for public schools. Miss Geryk lucked out as the town is foolish enough to pay her a ridiculous salary. The town realizes it's the only way to keep anyone here. Even with the enticement, as history shows, no one with any sense stays on for any appreciable time once they see the dysfunctional system. You'll see Ms. Geryk sitting on her golden egg for some time.

Anonymous said...

You know, at some point in your life you've got to stop and look and see that maybe you're not fighting the power anymore, but that you are the power that be, that you're not a rat in a cage, but you are indeed a member of a privileged class in this world, with influence and power.

or, if you prefer, spend your life playing the victim.

elected politicians like shabazz would also do well to take note of that.

Larry Kelley said...

"Resistance is futile, you will be absorbed."

When I want advice from a CAN I'll stand in town center naked with a query tattooed to my ass.

Anonymous said...

Maria Geryk does not keep people at a distance. You have something you want to talk to her about? Call and make an appointment and you can talk to her. ANYONE!

Larry Kelley said...

But you have to give up your anonymity.

Anonymous said...

Sort of like saying people with body odor don't keep people at a distance. No, just walk up to them and talk to them. ANYONE!

Larry Kelley said...

I'm not even gonna try to figure that one out.

It will be interesting to see if Maria takes Anonymous comments on her as yet unnamed blog.

Anonymous said...


you are so funny, Maria taking anon comments on her blog. Fat chance. I am sure her cronies from Shutesbury and Leverett who hated the Sanderson blog for its anon comments will advice her against it. Since she lives to keep the hill towns happy she will comply.

Anon 12:46,

You are right, Maria will meet with anyone, she really will. The problem is she has no intention nor the ability to solve anyone's real problems. She is highly overpaid, working her political will off of the white guilt liberals of Amherst, who just want equality for the world. She is in for life and will slowly erode what is left of the value of an Amherst Public School education. Don't believe me, then ask why so many keep leaving for private, charter, and home schools. It is a slow but steady slope down the hill. Strap in Amherst and enjoy the ride.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Maria will post a list of how to dos for her disciples on her blog:

1. How to overpay staff and bankrupt a town
2. How to ensure mediocre education for all children
3. How to waste others time in meetings
4. How to make someone feel good while doing nothing to help them
5. How to get a job you are highly under qualified for
6. How to answer questions while saying absolutely nothing
7. how to ensure that minorities and low income kids don't get ahead but feel good about themselves

The list of blog topics is just endless. I really can't wait.

A rat named Squeaky Squeaks said...

Oh come now, Maria will have ~so~ many positive things to say at her new outlet.

I personally cannot wait, as I hear she's a ~huuuuuge~ fan of dark roasts.

"I know that many community members and teachers have very positive feelings about Maria Geryk, and I hear this passion. And I really wish I could feel good about supporting her candidacy, because in many ways, that would be the easiest choice since she is already here and known by our community. But voting for superintendent isn’t supposed to be the easiest choice – it is supposed to be the choice that is best for our community moving forward, and as much as I appreciate the work she has done on creating instructional rounds and being visible in the community, I also have real concerns about her ability to handle the very real problems we face.

We have a big achievement gap, and students who were failing MCAS were identified in September, yet the Achievement Academy didn’t start until January (half-way through the school year), which seems less than ideal.

We have one school (Fort River) that is showing declines in both math and ELA MCAS and she hasn’t developed a plan to address this.

We have real concerns from some parents in special education, and she hasn’t attended SEPAC

We have major budget challenges, and it is February and we’ve not seen a budget at Amherst or Regional (and she has already cancelled the budget presentation set for Tuesday). This is two months later than what we had with Alberto.

We have had a report on math in our district from an outside expert in October, and it is February and we have had no action plan on dealing with this recommendation, despite the fact that we have a major achievement gap and lower MCAS math scores in 3rd grade than the state average. I haven’t seen any sense of urgency from her in addressing these long-standing concerns.

We had, at the time of her appointment, a very divided SC, and I have seen no interest or willingness on her part of trying to bring the SC together, which is really sad to me. I didn’t vote for Alberto Rodriguez, yet when he arrived, he reached out to me and met with each SC member individually each month, and really worked to understand all of our concerns. I haven’t seen this type of interest in getting to understand those who disagree with her from Maria. Relatedly, I know that Maria has reached out to some community members, but I feel that reaching out has been to those who support her – and there hasn’t been a willingness to do the same for those who have real concerns – about math, about special education, etc. - and I find that really unfortunate.

So, when I look at Ms. Geryk’s performance over the last year, a year in which she was clearly trying to put her “best foot forward” in terms of getting the superintendent’s job, I have serious concerns. And those concerns unfortunately make it impossible for me to take a leap of faith and vote to make her the permanent superintendent."

This, is going to be




Yours, theirs and ours,

Squeaky Squeaks

Walter Graff said...

Ha. Guess I don't need to chime in. Seems the rest of Amherst already knows the truth or are too guilty to admit it.

I will relate one funny story. While at a recent event in Amherst I was conversing with some parents about the myriad of problems with the school system. One respected college professor related a story. He said when he was interested in moving here, so many people said how great the public school system was. He chose to move here, but then was perplexed because every one of the people who said how great the school system was had their kids in everything BUT the Amherst school system.

One poster is correct, Amherst is seeing a slow, deliberate and disturbing loss of students to better schools outside of Amherst public school system on a continuing basis.

And I think another poster said it best. They pay a huge salary to whomever they hire these days to run the school system because they hope to to find someone qualified and the pay perk is the only way they know how to keep anyone here. Problem is, it hasn't work as anyone qualified soon leaves. Today we are left with what we have now, definitely overpaid and under-qualified.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Squeaky squeaks,

Thanks for posting my remarks on my vote for another candidate at the time Ms. Geryk was selected. I can't say I ever felt my judgment was wrong - although I wished very much to be wrong since at the time three of my children were in the schools. The Amherst schools have always had great potential .... But kids just can't wait forever for change, and true change is really hard - and I believe requires experienced and proven leadership.

Anonymous said...

If the Amherst schools are so bad in Catherine Sanderson's eyes why is she CHOOSING to send her two children to Amherst through school choice?

Walter Graff said...

Thank you Ms. Sanderson for not only posting what you did but for putting your name behind it. There are many anonymous cowards here who will support this superintendent regardless of the fact that her short term has been lackluster at best, and the past is a signal as to what is to come. We don't need a novice to continue the status qou. We need our children to excel as they do in many districts in other parts of the state where a quarter of the money is spent and the results are twice as good. We need to be far better than we are and every school year is multiplied exponentially when it comes to our children's future. The time to act is now. Many are working hard behind to scenes to get rid of Ms. Geryk and make Amherst what it deserves to be, a well educated town with a well educated and efficient school system. Right now it fails miserably on so many fronts. There are so many great teachers in the system that are not being allowed to experience their full potential. We need to get rid of the popularity contests. Our children future is far more important than someones resume.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Mr. Graff, thank you for your comments and for having the courage to sign your own name!

Anonymous 5:29, the decisions my husband and I make for our children's education take into account many factors, including our finances, long- time friendships our children have made, and logistics. We have chosen for this year - our first not in amherst - to keep two of our children in the only system they have ever been in. But we, like many families, do not believe the amherst schools are living up to their full potential - although fortunately we are no longer paying amherst taxes!

Anonymous said...

I like how Walter sees it as "the rest of Amherst has chimed in". No, just you and Catherine Sanderson, Walter, two people who don't even live in Amherst. It's Catherine Sanderson and Walter Graff. Oh, and Squeaky Squeak. Such an impressive trio.

Anonymous said...

Graff said There are many anonymous cowards here who will support this superintendent...

Really? Where? Not a one, just the haters.

Larry Kelley said...

Um, look in the mirror much?

Anonymous said...

6:34..... There are many out there.

The wheels are coming off the bus. First angry Kurt starts posting and now Maria will have a blog she can control.

I also agree, she is very approachable.... Like a politician who says what whomever they are talking to wants to hear. It is actions and results that matter.

Anonymous said...

Umh, see any comments in support from me? No. It's more from the usual haters who think they have wide-spread support, but everyone in the real world who lives in Amherst knows they are the outliers and are embarrassed by and for them.

Larry Kelley said...

Kins of hard to tell. All Anons look alike.

Anonymous said...

I have not seen any angry blog posts from Kurt. More silly drivel from the hate filled minions that frequent this blog.

Anonymous said...

There are possibly 13 people, possibly 11 from Amherst who have commented on this post. We know who Catherine and Walter are and what they represent. Chances are some of the anon comments are multiples by the same person. Assuming not, however, of the 38,000 people who reside in Amherst, 37,990 have definitely not commented here, and probably 5 have. It's a few of the same old people using this blog to vent their anger and frustration, and to spread their ugly, vitriolic rhetoric, they are .0003% of the population of Amherst, and they clearly don't represent the attitudes and opinions of the other 99.9997%.

Do you people see that? Do you see how marginalized and alone you are?

Larry Kelley said...

Well the University and Colleges are not in session, so you have to adjust the population down a tad.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 8:25

There may not be that many haters posting to this blog but there are a hell of a lot of unsatisfied parents in the community.

For lots of reasons they don't speak up. If you want proof go look at the election polls. Sanderson got over 2700, Rivkin, Rhodes, Spence also got over 1500. Even Michael Aronson who did not even push besides word of mouth got 400 votes.

Just because you don't hear much discourse besides this blog these days does not mean people are satisfied. Those unhappy with education in Amherst may or may not be the majority but they certainly are not the insignificant number you want to claim.

It is clear you are part of the machine that likes to discredit people. You don't bother listening and realizing that there are real problems. You just shut them out and try to shut them down. You should be ashamed.

This is the typical behavior of several of the hill town SC members past and present.

Amherst needs a clean sweep of the upper level administration and the entire SC to have a chance. So sad.

Dr. Ed said...

I'll say something about Maria G -- back when she had her community interviews, I asked her about a then-new and quite controversial OCR policy.

I don't mind explaining it here -- but was surprised I had to explain it to her: "OCR" is the US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights -- don't do what they say and not only do you loose all federal funding, but (as I understand it) all four towns would as well -- including all Federal funds routed through the state.

It's a big deal.

She clearly had never even heard of the policy -- even though every superintendent in the country had been sent a copy of it -- but she said she'd get back to me.

She never did.

And I genuinely wanted to know what a left-of-center community (i.e. Amherst) thought of the policy and how they implemented it, and/or managed not to. I'd already heard what the right thought of it (trust me, I'd heard in intricate detail what they didn't like about it) but I genuinely wanted to know what she thought.

And not even knowing what the OCR was really did surprise me...

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

First angry Kurt starts posting and now Maria will have a blog she can control.

I have long felt that she is going to flame out in the most spectacular manner imaginable -- and it's going to be her own doing as well, she isn't going to need help, either.

And as to that so-called anonymous fake twitter account -- if you presume it is either being done on a school computer and/or on a home one that at some time has connected to the school network, exactly how difficult do you think it would be to find out who is doing it if you really wanted to?

My guess is that Maria already knows who's doing it -- that it has her implicit (if not explicit) encouragement.

Kurt Geryk said...

Anonymous at 7:22 PM, thank you, but it is not inaccurate to say I have posted angry comments online. it is true that recently some of the negative online commentators have been getting to me a little bit. It IS challenging to witness the kind of negativity that gets inflicted upon leaders and their loved ones in this town, especially if you are an educational leader, and i think most educators in this town could testify to that. It's of course understandable that school personnel receive the brunt of some people's anger, after all, we are talking about our kids and their future, and that is what they have dedicated their lives to.

Over the years I have tried several strategies to deal with what goes on in this town around the blogs and hateful online commentary about my wife, (and I'm not talking about reasonable disagreements with school administration!) from ignoring it to more recently calling out the perpetrators of the divisive activities and culture in our town. The best I have been able to accomplish recently is to expose some lies, some ethical breaches, and some who blame others for their problems. But, that did not make anything better, for the schools and the kids, the town, or for my family. And it's also quite clear to me that the few who have commented on here for years, or who have used Catherine Sanderson's blog in the past, produce the opposite outcome of what they hope for; THIS DOES NOT WORK! The commentary that goes on here and elsewhere in anonymous forums is not healthy and does not produce the desired outcome, for anyone who uses the forum. I am not so different than some of the online commentators who point out how ridiculous things can be in this town; there ARE many places that exist that don't engage in the sort of petty, everyday COMPLAINING AND sucker punching that goes on here, or that experience the sort of deep dissatisfaction with their leaders despite (to me and most I've talked to) obvious talent and qualifications and progress and change. The thing I, and other families in this town who experience the poison that a FEW intentionally inflict on us, need to remember is that the regular and overwhelming support, from local residents to educational and political leaders near and far, and the nearly constant, face to face, genuine, and positive feedback we receive on behalf of family members who are doing amazing work, far outweighs the efforts of the very, very few who use this sort of forum to undermine the integrity and hard work they are doing.

Kurt Geryk

Anonymous said...

Yes. Maria Geryk will let people make appointments with her to express their concerns, but does she listen, really listen to what they have to say? That has not been my experience.

and I think it might be the same with her new blog too. Ms. Geryk often does not seem very open to criticism or even suggestions, and even the SC members are discouraged from saying anything that in any way questions her, her leadership, or her plans for the district.

Anonymous said...

One doesn't have to look far to find commentary from Kurt G. He often makes comments on this blog and on Larry K's facebook page. See Kurt's comments to Larry's facebook post on 12/24/13 about a recent drug search at the ARHS for one prime example. He comments on others' facebook pages and blogs as well. ....

When there were recently competing petitions at about the nut ban in the schools (one for the ban; and one against it), Kurt signed both petitions. He also voiced some strong opinions about one of the speakers at the WHMP forum earlier this week on the nut ban.

Anonymous said...

The new Superintendent Advisory Committee proposed by Maria Geryk seems similar to me to the Communications Task Force that the district established back in the spring of 2010.

That task force had the following 4 charges:
"1. To investigate forms of communication to determine the effectiveness of those currently in use and determine if other methods should be added/used.
"2. To help identify, gather and create content of importance to the entire school community. This would include everything from information that may be missing from the web site, to news stories and events from all schools.
"3. To help solicit feedback from parents, teachers, students and the community at-large.
"4. To engage in “marketing activities” to promote the good work of our public schools."

Another day, another committee/task force. How much ever really changes?

Kurt Geryk said...

I do call 'em like I see 'em, that's for sure. I'm not hiding from the fact that I have been commenting. Someone's been paying close attention!

I'm not intimidated by anonymous commentators, and I've been commenting where I see hypocrisy or dishonesty (or flat out lies,) or when people just get online to dis Amherst, (like one of the City Counselors from Chicopee does often online,) and when I see commentators arguing from false authority, and also when people use a false narrative to paint some of our school, business, and government leader's actions and decisions in a false and disingenuous way. It is a somewhat uncivilized strategy, but it is always in response to uncivil and mean and otherwise negative behavior. And like I said, it's a strategy that has not worked to thwart the negative anonymous commentators, they thrive on the conflict and tension. Some people in this town are not going to stop being dissatisfied with just about anything and everything, and disagree with every decision that gets made...welcome to Amherst. And I'm being forthright when I say that my actions have not necessarily improved the climate much. But, the people who say "thank you for saying that" or "to responding to that in such an up-front way, you said what I've been wanting to say for a long time" do so privately, and it's a lot more people than object online to it, and it's never anonymously.

Kurt Geryk

Anonymous said...

That taskforce met twice, then stopped meeting.

Anonymous said...

You really can't win with some people when it comes to their attitudes toward the school administration. people say they want communication to improve, they say "we'll start a blog", the anons say "it's going to be lousy".

Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for being involved. With no disrespect for you or your wife I was wondering if you can help better define the "great work" you speak of in defense of the district. Many people write about great work or amazing thing going on at the schools but none of them ever give concrete examples. Nor do they give facts to back up who the work was meant to help and how the district knows these people were helped.

With costs continuing to rise at a very fast rate, more people leaving the district (not in waves but in a fast trickle), and the achievement gap that maintains itself many people in Amherst would like to understand what is really being done.

Maybe when Maria starts the blog she can give irrefutable proof of the value of some of the new programs. For what it is worth I don't expect every new program to be a huge success. Some will fail and that is ok. It is putting it all out there the good and the bad that will make the district more transparent and make it easier to silence the critics.

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

Kurt, it is chivalrous of you to defend your wife -- it's also sexist as hell.

If the woman (or man) is going to hold the highest-paid public administrative post in a college town, she/he/it had damn well better be able to deal with the criticism and have the transparency that such a position in such a venue demands.

Catherine Sanderson has a husband too, she was treated a whole lot worse than your wife has been, she was going alone into situations where your wife has a staff to accompany & support her, and Sanderson's husband only came to her assistance once -- when she was all but physically assaulted.

I accept the fact you love your wife -- but accept the fact that Catherine's husband loves her too -- and he didn't do what you're doing. And you shouldn't either.

I describe it as sexist for a reason -- as much as you may wish to run to the rescue of the damsel in distress (possibly pounding on your chest, Tarzan-style, as you run) -- as much as you want to be the testosterone-crazed red-blooded male defending the little girl, this is a context in which you shouldn't do it.

I'm saying you shouldn't (that does not mean "can't") and you shouldn't for two reasons.

First, you are implying (if not essentially saying) that she is a "little girl" who can't defend herself. That she isn't as smart as a man, isn't as articulate as a man, isn't as able/capable of answering her critics as a man and thus needs her husband to do this for her.

Professional women -- and I mean competent professionals who happen to be female -- have long had a hard time being taken seriously. People like Margaret Chase Smith and Clair Luce Booth had to work twice as hard as a man and be twice as good at their jobs -- there is a classic quote from Booth to that effect.

Second, and even more important, is the long-standing rule that the spouse & children are noncombatants. Even the Mafia leaves the wife & kids alone -- and they do because they want theirs left alone. Until she went public and wrote a book, how many of us knew of the mental health issues of Kitty Dukakis -- the wife of a 3-term Governor & Presidential nominee? Other than the fact that he has been found, is OK and in the custody of the NYPD, we haven't heard anything about Jeff Jacoby's son who was missing for four days -- nor should we.

And the flip side of this is that the families have to stay out of it as well. Kurt, you are not the person who was hired to run the schools -- unless the two of you were hired as a team, you really shouldn't be speaking for Maria.

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

One other thing -- I noticed commentary about where Catherine Sanderson's children are attending school -- and that shouldn't be anyone's business but theirs.

The children should be left out of it -- everyone benefits if we all agree that we leave the children out of it.

I don't know if Maria G has children or not -- and I don't want to know. Unless a child is seriously ill, injured, and/or missing -- at which point any decent person should extend sympathy -- we have no business dealing with people's children nor even knowing if they exist.

Ideally, we should avoid ad hominums and concentrate on the issues -- but at the very least, we ought to leave the families out of it!

Anonymous said...

So Ed. Would it be sexist for a wife to defend her husband? Was is sexist for Catherine Sanderson's husband to defend her? And finally, when a person constantly complains about the quality of the Amherst schools it absolutely is relevant to the conversation that they are choicing their own kids in. I seem to remember several occasions when you chastised Mark Jackson and others in the school administration for sending their kids to either private or charter schools. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Larry Kelley said...

Best I can tell Catherine Sanderson doesn't "constantly complain" about the quality of the schools, she comes on here to pretty much defend herself when her name is taken in vain by Cowardly Anon Nitwits.

Kurt Geryk said...

I don't believe I've spoken for Maria once. She's the bread-winner in my family, she financially supports us, she's the more skilled parent, we all depend on her emotional intelligence and guidance. If anything she has come to my rescue.

And by the way, Ed, this is the one time I will respond or otherwise interact with you. Your negative fixation on Maria and on another administrator at the University is simply creepy. Why you maintain an interest, that exceeds most parents and tax-paying residents here, in what goes on in Amherst and the schools concerns me: you do not have children, you do not live in Amherst, you have zero connection to the public schools in Amherst. Seriously, you give me the creeps. I wish you would direct your attention to one of the myriad other issues or things to contemplate in the world, or even just the state of public education in whatever town you live in, but regretfully I have a feeling that this sincere request will just spur you on more: please leave me alone, I think you're really weird.

Kurt Geryk

Anonymous said...

Catherine Sanderson has an entire blog devoted to how bad the Amherst schools are. To say otherwise is just plain disingenuous.

Larry Kelley said...

That she has not posted a single update to in almost THREE YEARS.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anonymous 12:22: Your comment precisely illustrates why things can't get better in the Amherst schools. My blog was devoted to examining educational issues in Amherst and beyond, including research on the merits of redistricting and different math curriculum, explaining major policy discussions occurring on the SC, and answering community questions. Were criticisms raised (by me and by others) about the schools? Absolutely. But the blog was by no means devoted to "how bad the Amherst schools were" (a blog done at a time in which I had three kids in the Amherst schools and was spending 20+ hours a week volunteering to improve the schools). But many members in our community and many members of the ARPS administration were unable to hear or acknowledge any criticism of our schools - which is why my blog was so threatening - and unfortunately, the first step in fixing a problem is admitting a problem exists.

There are deep and long-standing concerns that many members of the community hold about the Amherst schools. These people will no longer sign their names to blog posts or write letters to the paper, given the attacks those of us who have dared to sign our names have received and continue to receive. But that doesn't make the problems go away.

And on some level, I believe you know that these problems exist and are seen by many members of our community as very concerning. After all, why not sign your name to your post attacking my blog, if you believe that your beliefs are widely shared by the community? Do you not want to publicly identify yourself as attacking me, which seems silly when you know that so many people share your view about me and "my blog devoted to saying how bad the Amherst schools are."

This, is the finger of a tiger said...

"If anything she has come to my rescue."

She has come to the rescue of so many.

Hasn't she, Kurt?

Hasn't she?

Yours and hers, fatefully,

Squeaky Squeaks

Kurt Geryk said...

I think many people believed Catherine's blog created a negative and divisive environment in town during the time she maintained it. The content of many comments, especially anonymous ones, reached well beyond what she says her intentions in creating the blog were. Comments, on both sides, often became personal and were clearly intended to insult and antagonize. Many believed that the blog undermined any possibility of cooperative, productive progress. Many residents said as much when they prioritized her blog and the toxic, negative environment they believed it created, when consultants were hired during a national search for a new superintendent and asked for parent input. The environment that the blogs created was the number one concern many parents and other concerned residents reported to the consultants. This fact was widely reported. I personally know of two potential candidates who sought and accepted Superintendent jobs elsewhere, choosing not to consider Amherst, because of the negative environment in town, and both of them included Catherine's blog and the tone of some of her supporters in citing reasons why. I am not saying Catherine intended to create the environment that resulted, but the clear detrimental effects it had are what they are.

Kurt Geryk

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

I don't believe I've spoken for Maria once.


... blogs and hateful online commentary about my wife, (and I'm not talking about reasonable disagreements with school administration!) from ignoring it to more recently calling out the perpetrators of the divisive activities and culture in our town. The best I have been able to accomplish recently is to expose some lies, some ethical breaches, and some who blame others for their problems...

Kurt, exactly what would you call the above?

It actually is considerably less ethical than even just defending her -- in labor relations, this is considered "bad faith" -- what you are doing is simply delegitimizing those who criticize her without even acknowledging that they are raising legitimate policy issues let alone responding to them because you aren't her spokesman.

It's a classic - and rather infuriating - defense strategy of the scoundrel (both Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were masters of it) -- and the classic example is how everyone who even questioned (let alone opposed) the VietNam War was dismissed in the very same manner you seek to dismiss the critics of your wife's policies.

There were some very patriotic Americans who had some very legitimate issues with that war and/or how we were fighting it. This included some very conservative Americans (e.g. Barry Goldwater) -- and Nixon & Co dismissed all of them as hateful disruptive voices (and the rest).

I initially thought I was looking at misguided chivilery -- I now am thinking it is something quite more sinister and a whole lot less ethical.

Larry Kelley said...

The First Amendment can be messy.

You have to take the good with the bad.

The answer to bad speech is MORE good speech.

Sunlight is the best antiseptic.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience. But where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

News is what somebody does not want you to print. All the rest is advertising.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Larry, love the quote by MLK Jr. And agree re. more speech versus less.

Kurt, I imagine we see the world in general and Amherst in particular in very different ways and hear support for our own perspective from very different people. I heard from multiple sources that a deliberate attempt was made to create the image of Amherst as a terribly divisive community in order to discourage qualified superintendent candidates, by those who supported your wife. Those who spoke to the consultants about my blog were not chosen at random - those were precisely the supporters of your wife, who created their own blog to promote your wife and provide only positive information about the schools (oddly enough, that blog is no longer functioning), and criticized all other candidates. Those same people wrote a letter to the Attorney General trying to get my blog shut down (which was ineffective).

My blog was created out of a desire to share information about our schools and education policy and research with the community, and I believe it was highly successful in that effort. Were at times some comments (towards me and others) negative? Absolutely. But I don't believe the blog created the divisive feeling ... it just allowed people with such views to express their feelings, which they had long expressed in private with absolutely no change. You believe the solution to negative feelings about the schools is to shut down a blog so that these feelings can't be heard. I believe that the solution was to fix the problems that led to such feelings. I hope you are right, since that is the solution we are left with.

Larry Kelley said...

And how could I forget:

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

Your negative fixation on Maria and on another administrator at the University is simply creepy.

administrator? Only one administrator, Kurt?

No, there are over a dozen that I have/had serious issues with.

I've managed to get two of them fired (so far), in a CYA move, UMass itself essentially fired another two before I'd even really found out what they'd done, and there are some more that I do intend to see gone.

I'm a legacy of the Cold War -- MAD means something other than just plain angry, and I didn't start this. But I digress....

Why you maintain an interest

If you are referencing the administrator whom I think you are, it is quite simple.

I paid my dues, and neither of them did.

I earned the MEd that she doesn't have and the EdD that your wife doesn't have -- and either I was lied to as to the value of these degrees, or they shouldn't have their jobs without them. In either case, various aspects of the education industry has a lot to answer for, and I want those answers.

I'll add Kurt that as a certified classroom teacher, I'm offended that your wife doesn't have such a certificate.

I'm offended the way that a lawyer friend is by the unlicensed practice of law -- and while she may have a valid Supt's Certificate (which I still can't quite understand how she got), I want to know how someone who has never herself taught in a classroom is qualified to supervise & evaluate (and perhaps deny tenure to) those who do.

Seriously, you give me the creeps.

Heaven forbid that someone whose area of expertise is teacher education and school improvement be interested in public education.

Kurt, because Amherst is the Commonwealth's only true "college town, and because (historically) improvements in education came out of the colleges and thus first appeared in the college towns, the ARSD has a disproportionate influence in the state of the Commonwealth's K-12 education, and if it improves or declines.

More importantly, Amherst often is an extreme example of what is wrong. The demographic issues of Amherst, the economic demographics which aren't just the free/subsidized lunch statistics but the HUD ones I know how to use (e.g. the less than 20% of the poverty level statistic) make it a useful model -- as does the interplay between the White hilltowns and the increasingly non-White Amherst.

But Kurt, I'm under no obligation to defend my interest. A good chunk of the money your wife is spending in State & Federal money -- everyone's money -- and by definition "public" means anyone -- absolutely anyone.

I think you're really weird.

People who live in glass houses ought not throw rocks.

I don't like the underlying implied tone of your posting and that is why I am going to say this -- I've heard the rumor as to how your wife initially came to be employed by the ARSD and I told the person who told it to me that we ought not say such things about people.

I'm of the same opinion still.

I don't make unfounded attacks on the moral character of others, and I don't particularly appreciate it being done to me, either.

My issues with your wife are that she (a) lacks the prerequisite qualifications for that job and (b) how she is doing the job. The latter consists of (1) policy decisions she has made, (2) her implementation of her policy decisions, and (3) her management decisions.

She is a public administrator -- this isn't Cambridge Ridge & Latin or B B & N.

Anonymous said...

btw other school committee members in other places have blogs. the ag thing was crazy and sad.

Larry Kelley said...

Intimidation. Pure and simple.

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience. But where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

I've pointed out somewhere recently that King was both a Protestant Minister and named, well after his father, who had been named after Martin Luther of the Protestant Reformation.

It was Martin Luther who said something to the effect of "I stand here because I can stand nowhere else." Taking on the Catholic church was the only thing he could ethically do -- remember that they were selling "indulgences" -- pre-purchased forgiveness for sins not yet committed.

And Catherine, I don't know where you were finding some of the research you were posting but much of it was stuff that I hadn't seen elsewhere -- in Education journals and such -- and I don't think people quite appreciated that.

Kurt Geryk said...

Catherine, with all due respect, you are putting words in my mouth and attributing opinions to me that I have never, ever expressed. I have never expressed the opinion that I "believe the solution to negative feelings is to shut down a blog" so "feelings can't be heard."

It's not what I believed then or believe now. You can't possibly back that up, because I've never said it or felt it. If you read what I said, I said that I don't think you intended to create a divisive environment; I said that "many parents" believed your blog created a negative and divisive environment that discouraged candidates from applying (that was from data collected by the consultants from hundreds of parents and it was reported by the Gazette, it's not my opinion); I simply stated what many parents expressed, I was trying to express what the climate of the town was and many people's opinions of the effects your blog was having. I never heard from parents that they thought it ought to be shut down, I certainly never believed or expressed that. If the consultants did, so be it, but what does that have to do with me? And I did hear, first hand, from two potential candidates that the tone set by your blog and also their own research into the climate of the School Committee over the last couple of years prior (not through any other blog created by consultants) were major factors in their not deciding to apply or move beyond an initial interview.

Frankly, that was one problem with your blog: you attributed beliefs and statements to administrators that never were expressed. I specifically remember one thread in particular when you said that "leadership" said something in particular that expressed a specific attitude, a faculty member pressed you on it repeatedly, and you could not back it up. No one ever said what you said they did. Just like you just attributed specific beliefs to me that I do not possess. There's sharing information from research, and then there's disseminating false statements and attributing them to people you oppose.

And you might be surprised to find out that we may not see the world and Amherst in very different ways, and that we likely both possess a similar rebellious spirit.

But again, this format does not work, there's too many strange things being said by shadowy people, and that doesn't contribute to a productive discussion.


Anonymous said...


Still waiting for some concrete examples of the amazing work being done at our schools. There must be something you are proud that your wife has pushed forward or supported her staff in making meaningful changes?

Anonymous said...

What town does ED live in if not Amherst? How many posting to this blog don't live there or at least in the 3 others town in the region if discussing school issues?

Kurt Geryk said...

anonymous 5:22... Sorry, I'm not going to have conversations with invisible people.


Anonymous said...


I really try hard not to reply to things on this blog but your revisionist history of the Community Supported Education blog is just too much to not respond to. I was one of the people behind that blog. There are a number of corrections to make to your statement about the blog:

1. We did not support any candidate for Superintendent. We did not write any thing about any candidate for Superintendent, either positive or negative.
2. WE did not write only positive things about the schools - we only reported on what was happening in the schools. We wrote summaries of SC meetings, we wrote about Dr. Chen's report, we wrote about Common Core math standards (because Dr. Chen specifically mentioned them in his report). We did write about a few positive things that the kids were doing in the schools. It was a place to learn about what was going on in the schools. We made a VERY conscious decision not to back anyone for Superintendent and not to say anything good or bad about any candidate.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anonymous 6:27, I'm surprised you are choosing not to sign your name, since you are so intent on correcting the record. And unfortunately, the blog you created (hopefully using your own name and not "anonymous") had now been taken down, so what your blog did or did not do can't be confirmed. I stand by my comments about the intent of that blog, and indeed, why did that blog stop as soon as my blog did, since the "services" you provided by summarizing meetings would still be useful, right? I chose to continue to have my blog posted, as it is right now, so that I would continue to stand by my words, just like I stand by my words on this blog by using my actual name. As does Kurt, for that matter.

Kurt Geryk said...

The few small interactions and disagreements of "facts" and opinions, the attribution of statements and beliefs to another in the discussion that they never expressed, on this thread between Catherine and myself, and now someone who seems to have been directly involved with the blog she referenced, and then add in all the peculiar anonymous and signed interjections, might reflect what parents overwhelmingly perceived to be divisive and negative about Catherine's blog when given an opportunity to complete a survey about positive and negative aspects of our town during the superintendent search. This thread has really lead nowhere and has resulted in little more than increased tension and conflict and now "he said/she said", and a lot of attention payed to who signed their name and who didn't. We could do this for another 3 years and we'd still be nowhere. The format really does not lend itself to a fruitful discussion of important issues. I think maybe this a little example of what people got really fed up with. And once again, I don't think it was Catherine's intention to create a negative and divisive environment.


The Evil Dr. Ed the Grammar Nazi said...

Kurt, please, please, tell me that you at last realize that what you wrote is not a grammatically correct sentence.

I'm not even getting fussy about things like how you can't start a sentence with a conjunction (which you subsequently do), I'm just talking about this gem which is one of the worst I've seen in recent memory....

The few small interactions and disagreements of "facts" and opinions, the attribution of statements and beliefs to another in the discussion that they never expressed, on this thread between Catherine and myself, and now someone who seems to have been directly involved with the blog she referenced, and then add in all the peculiar anonymous and signed interjections, might reflect what parents overwhelmingly perceived to be divisive and negative about Catherine's blog when given an opportunity to complete a survey about positive and negative aspects of our town during the superintendent search.

You have got to be kidding....

Kurt, I'm not going to make fun of you -- I could, I could tear that whole "sentence" apart and make you look like a complete idiot -- but I won't. I'm just saying that you really have got to be kidding.

Kurt: Subject-Verb-Object and use active voice. "The firefighter extinguished the fire." Keep it simple and don't get into the dependent clauses, passive voice and the rest -- *I* don't even do it -- of course the only problem with writing clearly is that people can actually able to understand what you are saying.

If you aren't trying to hide anything, you ought to write it in clear and transparent English. ON the the other hand, well, ummm.....

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

I personally know of two potential candidates who sought and accepted Superintendent jobs elsewhere, choosing not to consider Amherst, because of the negative environment in town, and both of them included Catherine's blog and the tone of some of her supporters in citing reasons why.

I have to ask if this is/was public information. If so, where was it published, how could other random members of the public have had the ability to know of it?

If it wasn't, then it's "insider information", "confidential information" and/or a whole bunch of other things. That raises a whole bunch of issues -- so, Kurt, how did you come to know this?

Kurt, do you not understand the issues you have raised here????

Kurt Geryk defending the family said...




1. High compensation structure for area.

2. Generous benefits structure for area.

3. Comparatively high operations and maintenance.

"...full regionalization or spreading your administrative costs over more students, is going to reduce the appearance of that number..."

The fun begins at 10:00.

With lot's of ~am-MAZING~ SC questions at the end of the presentation.


Like taking candy

from ~your~ baby!

CHA ---> $$$ <--- CHING!

Kurt and Maria's loving pet,

Squeaky Squeaks

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

I don't know about now, but a while back, Belchertown had both one of the lowest per-pupil school costs and one of the highest MCAS scores in the state.

In fairness, I can think of a variety of variables which would be relevant to at least consider, starting with the large number of young, well-educated professionals moving out of Amherst and into Belchertown at the time due to housing costs.

Still, is there an actual measurable relationship between amount of money spent and quality of education provided -- that is independent of other factors?

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

Oh Larry -- there is something that Maria G probably doesn't know (in part because she isn't Dr. Maria -- as she is a public employee and would be acting in her official capacity, her blog would be considered a public forum and thus be bound by the concept of content neutrality.

Remember a few years back when there used to be banners over South Pleasant Street?

People used to advocate for all good things until the ProLife group wanted to do it too, and the powers-that-be realized that, umm, they had to display the Anti-Abortion banner for a week as well. Much to the chagrin of many.

Then it became a forum limited to announcing events only -=- that's Constitutional in that it was a "time, place & manner" issue and not a content one.

But then the Christian group wanted to announce Easter, again much to the chagrin of many, and that sorta was the end of the banners, wasn't it?

If Maria establishes a blog, not only is she required to have the comments open, but actually have to permit any member of the public to post anything.

She arguably could restrict it to issues relating to the schools, but that would be as in the opinion of the poster (not she) and hence if, say,someone wanted to write a scathing critique of Mitchell Chester, which would be relating to the schools as he is the head of DESE, that would put her into an incredibly difficult position.

If she posts it, the Supt of Schools is officially dissing the state. And if she doesn't -- well that's an almost pro-forma First Amendment lawsuit that she's gonna loose in a heartbeat.

I've pretty much given up on the ACLU but there are other organizations that are stepping into the vacuum and I can think of at least three that would love to pursue something like this.

Did I mention that Maria (actually the Amherst taxpayers) would have to pay "reasonable attorney's fees" as well -- and that alone would encourage someone to bring such a suit against the district?

So either she posts stuff she doesn't want to -- or she gets sued, looses, and whatever it was she didn't want people to see gets seen by even more people.

It's kinda like the very bright young ladies at Framingham State who wrote something on their bare bellies, of which the student newspaper took a picture. Thinking that the picture made them "look fat", they stole all the papers in hopes no one would see the picture.

This, of course, became a story in and of itself and was covered by (amongst others) the Boston Globe -- which, of course, reprinted the picture they were objecting to in the first place. So instead of a couple hundred college kids seeing the picture, everyone did.

And if you want to pay the archive fees, you can too... See

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

You know Larry, I've been saying for several years now that Team Maria is going to flame out spectacularly. The blog she's creating may well do it.

Remember in the movie The Wizard of Oz there was a man behind the curtain who was just pulling levers and the rest, and once the little dog pulled back the curtain, it was all over?

It's all smoke & mirrors. She controls the message, she controls what's said (and what's not) -- if she looses control over that, it's all over for her.

Someone like Gerald Mooning may not always appreciate public critique but he really doesn't have anything to fear from it. His documents are out there, at least if you ask him for them, even something controversial like his statement that the old dump was able to support the solar farm array -- he'd probably been able to defend that if given a chance.

Maria G, on the other hand, doesn't stand a chance.

She an excellent public speaker. Billy Bulger is the best I've ever seen -- and she's second, she's that good. She's better than Bill Weld -- and he's good, but she's better at controlling a discussion.

But the problem is that she has to control the discussion and once she looses control of that, once she no longer has the ability to control the questions she is (and thus isn't) asked, the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

And then it comes down to character. She's never been treated badly or faced open hostility in public (that I'm aware of). I don't think she has the ability to deal with it -- if the little bits & pieces we've seen so far are reflective of how how thin "her skin" really is -- well, like I said, she's gonna flame out in quite spectacular fashion.

She is creating a public forum that she legally can not control -- no more than a bulletin board -- and this is going to be fun to watch.

And no, I'm not going to push her over the edge -- I probably could but I won't, I'm really just going to watch the show...

Anonymous said...

This is more fun than a wagon train ride through Donner Pass.

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

You know, as we honor Dr. King, let us not forget that he was an outsider -- as were the "Freedom Riders" who went into the South to fight segregation.

And to a lesser extent, that's what I'm doing here. Just sayin...

Anonymous said...


Thanks for clarifying why you come to this blog. At least we can understand your motives even if we don't fully agree with them.

Anonymous said...

Did Ed really just equate himself with the Freedom Riders? Really?

Dr Ed said...

"Thanks for clarifying why you come to this blog. At least we can understand your motives even if we don't fully agree with them."

Thank you for your understanding.

Much as 90% of an iceberg is below the surface, much as there are always three rainbows although you usually can only see one, maybe two of them, a lot of the things I write are on multiple levels.

There very much is a "backstory" -- a lot of stuff that is motivating me to write some of the things I do, and the way I do.

There are things which I have astern of me now, but won't ever forget -- and that I don't want another UMass student to ever be subjected to.

And in case anyone wonders -- or cares -- the second rainbow is fainter and reversed, appearing above the first. In theory, there is an even fainter third one, reversed yet again, above both of those although I've never seen it.

It has to do with the laws of physics and how white light is refracted in raindrops, with the different wavelengths (i.e. colors) bending at slightly different angles.

The Evil Dr. Ed said...

Did Ed really just equate himself with the Freedom Riders? Really?

Yes he did.

And Ed also knows about the meeting in Whitmore and the "I'm not going to prison for your stupidity" outburst from a senior administrator who was more than a little upset with assorted subordinates.

Like I said, there is a backstory on this....

Anonymous said...

Speaking of reaching out to the public, sort of…by inviting only 7th grade parents……

Date and Time
Jan 15 2014 7:00 PM -- 8:15 PM
Location MS Library
7th Grade Math Conversation: 8th Grade Math Program Ideas
Date: Wednesday, January 15th
Time: 7:00PM - 8:15PM
Location: Middle School Library

Seventh Grade Parents/Guardians are invited to attend an evening session with:
Director of Teaching and Learning, Rhonda Cohen, Phd
Math/Science Coordinator K-8, Ian Stith, Phd
High School Math Department Chair, Jane Mudie

We will discuss and receive feedback about (proposed) ideas for the new 8th Grade Math Program. Following the event, all handouts will be posted on the district website.

Anonymous said...

I am an elementary parent and I plan on attending. I saw the announcement of this gathering on the ARPS website.

Larry Kelley said...

Feel free to post a critique.

Anonymous said...

Where is it on the ARPS site? Why didn't they notify more parents? I am sure many would want to participate.

Dr. Ed said...

Folks, they don't Want to notify the parents --- particularly the parent's whose children aren't being held hostage by the already-made decision.

It's like this:

They'll say they want to hear what people think -- as long as you agree with them.

If you don't, they'll say you aren't qualified to speak about education.

If you are like me -- and ARE qualified, then they'll attack your character.

(When *did* I use the "cute" word relative to Maria G?) All I can think of is that I was trying not to be quite as blunt in my critique of a woman that I wold be of a man -- but I will now -- she is bad news. She needs to GO.

And then they will exploit every possible technicality to try to explain why you shouldn't be commenting.

Whatever Kurt, ED IS MAD and I intend to comment. And Maria Gotta Go...

Anonymous said...

It was on the first page of the website in the second on the left where announcements of things going on are posted. Was not hard to find. There was a good number of people there last night.

Anonymous said...

All I saw for the 15th was a policy subcommittee mtg on arps website page. Don't see it.