Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Warrior Week at ARHS

Mark Jackson ARHS Principal,  Maria Geryk Amherst Regional School Superintendent

As part of "Warrior Week" in the Amherst Regional Public Schools, students heard (and presumably discussed) the awful story of a teacher of color who was on the receiving end of threats and racial bigotry last fall.  

So why are we only now hearing her story?




71 comments:

Anonymous said...

I worked in the Amherst schools for over 30 years. There were always plenty of people of color.

This is total bs most likely done by herself/acquaintance to get attention to her agenda: whites are racists.

Put all the black students in honors math, give them all As...anything to shut her up.

Larry Kelley said...

The Schools do not have all that many minority employees -- not nearly as many as the percentage of students who are minority.

Anonymous said...

Amherst has talked itself into such high, utopic standards that when it is confronted with happenings found in every community in this country, it has to hide them. It's awful.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what Anon 3:13 PM is thinking. My kids (who are white as am I) were talking about the racism toward their non-white friends when they were in school 20 years ago. From many conversations I've had over the years with other parents (both white and non-white), racism has been and continues to be an issue. I"m glad, somebody is finally taking some action.

The fact is, Anon 3:13 PM, I hear and see casual, unthinking, racist behavior in this town without even looking for it. That doesn't make Amherst any different than most of the rest of this country.

Nina Koch said...

Wow, 3:13. You think Ms. Gardner made this up? That's ridiculous. You only compound the pain by making such an unfounded accusation. And of course, you do it anonymously--perhaps because you know how indefensible it is.

I am truly sorry that you didn't learn more by working in the Amherst schools. You certainly misunderstood the intent of her statement.

We are really fortunate to have a teacher of Ms. Gardner's caliber in the mat department and I only hope that we can keep her. Larry is correct that the percentages are not representative of the student population.

We have a lot of work to do. I would hope that we have the support of the community in doing this work.

Anonymous said...

not nearly as many as the percentage of students who are minority.

I can't believe you wrote a comment like that. I'm sure you don't support quotas.

I'm sick of everyone crying racism. Blaming others for your own personal maladies is counterproductive.

We've raised a generation of blacks consumed by anger foistered by liberals for their own dubious ends.

Larry Kelley said...

No, I don't support "quotas". In the Schools, Police or Fire Departments.

May the best skilled person be hired no matter race, creed or color.

But it certainly doesn't hurt to actively recruit minority candidates who are highly skilled.

Nina Koch said...

I assume that Anon 6:04 is the same person as Anon 3:13.

Curiously, your posts suggest that you are the person with the anger. You are the person blaming others.

This is Warrior Week and I am standing up to you.

Larry Kelley said...

Not exactly sure where one stands in cyberspace when "standing up" to an Anon.

Nevertheless, good for you.

Anonymous said...

What really blows me away about this, not including the fact that it happened, is that Amherst spends an incredible amount of time teaching the kids about social justice, racism, and equity in general. They have been teaching this for well over 10 years. How is it not working. It seems like the problems in Amherst just keep worse.

Should the schools step back and question their curriculum in these areas. Either their methods are not working or the thing they are working against is only getting worse. Certainly I see some of the more subtle unintentional racism people often speak of, but so rarely have I see such brazen cowardice racism mentioned in the letter.

Why can't the schools / town seem to make it better after so much effort?

Dr. Ed (who has disarmed students) said...

Christopher Overtree, director of the Psychological Services Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

I encourage any and all to read his doctoral dissertation. He did his research in the "City of North Dorchester, Massachusetts."

Well, there is no such city. Dorchester started becoming part of Boston in 1804 and it ceased to exist as a *town* (not city) in something like 1870. Facts do matter folks....

a teacher of color who was the object of a threatening note and a racist slur

Golly gee, boys 'n; girls. If that is the worst crap taht a teacher has ever had to put up with, he/she/it is damn lucky.

Every teacher I know, including myself, has had to deal with worse. Far FAR worse...

I had freaking GUNS in my classroom. A racial slur may harm one, but a .357 Magnum tends to kill people...

Dr. Ed (who wants Alen West to be POTUS) said...

You think Ms. Gardner made this up? That's ridiculous. You only compound the pain by making such an unfounded accusation. And of course, you do it anonymously--perhaps because you know how indefensible it is.

Well Nina, if she isn't fabricating it, it will be the first time it wasn't fabricated

Let's go down the list.

The Klan Cross burned in front of the Black Amherst College Fraternity -- young men who somehow didn't think that the FBI would take such things seriously (which they do) and the FBI proved that the wood came from the same tree as lumber in the frathouse basement....

And then when AC President Ward tried to do the right thing, which is hold the frat responsible, he was literally driven to a suicide.

And then there was the young lady at ARHS who somehow didn't knwo that if you write racist hate notes in your own notebook and rip them out, the page underneath has an impression from the pen -- and that's pretty damning when it is your notebook....

And then the Jason Vassel mess, and the supposedly "racist" UMPD officer who said "it looks like a drug deal" -- is not only Black himself but a UM graduate who majored in Afro Am Theater -- (ID 16). HE's racist???

And Nina, we both know that there has been a whole bunch more of this stuff. And Amherst isn't the only place it has happened -- was it the Lemonster or Fitchburg football team that got shut down because of a hoax?

Nina, I want to believe that this teacher isn't making it up -- but so many people have done so that it becomes like the old story of the "boy who cried wolf."

Perhaps you will join with me in urging prosecution of the hoaxers so that the non-hoaxes can be taken seriously? I'm not holding my breath...

Walter Graff said...

I agree with what Clarence Thomas just said:

“My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up. Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out. That’s a part of the deal."

Nina Koch said...

Ed, I thought you prided yourself on using logic. While there may be a set of fabricated incidents which are a subset of all incidents, that doesn't mean all incidents are fabricated.

I am aware of the situation of the fabricated note many years ago (which happened at the middle school, not the high school). I would point out first that it was a teenager who engaged in this act, not an educated, professional adult. The middle school student may not have considered all of the consequences of her actions. We should also ask why she felt a need to do that.

That previous incident, years ago, has no bearing on the current incident. It is really irresponsible of you to make this accusation against Ms. Gardner. You have no basis whatsoever for doing it and you need to knock it off. If facts matter so much to you, then why don't you just stick to the facts?

And please don't tell me what we "both know" -- not ever. You have never said anything that I agree with.

Anonymous said...

ARHS is extremely segregated. When I pick-up my child, I see whites walking with whites, blacks walking with blacks, hispanics walking with hispanics, and asians with asians. When I was in HS 30 years ago, not in Amherst, it was not like that. We all hung out with each other.

I blame the extreme academic environment. Too much afro-centrism - separatism. Too much pride turns into hate for all others. My HS kid has tried to talk to black students. Yet she has been told that, since she's not black, they won't hang out with her.

It's sad because I did not raise my kid that way. Amherst is just very snobbish - in every way. Very elitist. I guess that's what happens when elitists raise kids.

An insane masquerade for the self absorbed said...

Mark Jackson, the hardest working man in show business.


Work it, baby.


WWWWWWWWWWWork it!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXE_n2q08Yw


Rick said...

@Anon 2/12 6:00PM “I hear and see casual, unthinking, racist behavior in this town without even looking for it. That doesn't make Amherst any different than most of the rest of this country.”
Could not agree more.

@Nina 2/12 6:04PM “We have a lot of work to do. I would hope that we have the support of the community in doing this work.”
Amen to that.

@Clarence Thomas “Rarely did the issue of race come up [in the 1960s]”. If you say so. Seems to me George Wallace did a pretty good job of brining it up: “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”.

@Dr Ed “… if she isn't fabricating it, it will be the first time it wasn't fabricated…” Huh? So these things are always fabrications are they? Do you have that opinion about rape also? And you knew you had “freaking GUNS” in your classroom and let them stay there? What school was that you were teaching at? They should probably be made aware of this.


In this town a black man can get told “get lost” (from a pool table at a bar) by a white college kid because he said he was “friends with George Zimmerman”. And a black man can be sitting in a theater and hear a white person yell up to a friend “hey what are you doing way up in the N-word seats”? And that black man was the only one in the theatre to speak up about that to the person who said it.

White people don’t have to deal with this. Black people are thinking about it and dealing with it all the time. When white people really understand this, when really try to step into the shoes of blacks (and other people of color), then we will begin the end racism.

This can be confusing along the way, especially for kids. For example, the N-word with an “a” instead of “er”. Much about that here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigga Apparently that confusion, or mis-use, is a part of what happened with the incident at ARHS.

The overall teaching that is needed for racism, bullying and so many other things is for people to learn to really step into the shoes of others. Empathize, not sympathize.

Within ARPS there are better efforts than ever working at this, and despite the incident of 2 weeks ago, the people within the system are more eager to deal with this than I have seen for many years. But counteracting that, in my view, is a society that has moved more to denial than to recognition, such as the comment made above “We've raised a generation of blacks consumed by anger foistered by liberals for their own dubious ends”. To say that “a generation of blacks” is “consumed by anger” is not true, But where there is anger, which there certainly is, it was not put there by “the liberals”, it was put there by whites who have no clue, and who do not make the effort to understand.

Blacks are more than sick and tired of trying to explain this to whites. It’s time for whites to do some work, to gain some understanding, to take responsibility for something they they certainly did not start, but certainly have benefited from.

Let’s all do a better job of understanding, not assume we already know the answers or already know how others see things.

Dr. Ed said...

There is also something like statistical probability. I look out the window and I see white stuff falling from the sky. Every other time I saw that and went outside, it was snowing. Now maybe it isn't-- but statistical probability says it is.

While there may be a set of fabricated incidents which are a subset of all incidents, that doesn't mean all incidents are fabricated.

And on occasion, there will be hail in July. But not usually -- frozen stuff falling from the sky is usually a winter thing.

Nina, there's a subset of incidents which are actually true, and it's only slightly larger than the subset of victims who have been struck by lightning while riding a bicycle on a national holiday.

I am aware of the situation of the fabricated note many years ago (which happened at the middle school, not the high school).

Nina, my certificate says "Grades 7-12" -- professional educators tend to think in terms of "Elementary" and "Secondary" Education (the "ESE" in "DESE").

I would point out first that it was a teenager who engaged in this act, not an educated, professional adult.

Nina, I've seen fifth graders who are more mature than many teachers.

We should also ask why she felt a need to do that.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...

What's next Nina? Asking rapists why they felt a need to harm women? Or tossing the schmucks in jail? (I really don't care why they did it, I want them in jail so they don't do it AGAIN....)

That previous incident, years ago, has no bearing on the current incident as we won't pesky little things like facts confuse our ideological biases.

Nina, can you think of just ONE time when this stuff wasn't a hoax?

It is really irresponsible of you to make this accusation against Ms. Gardner.

Bullshite! I said that if she is telling the truth, she will be the first person who was -- nothing more or less.

You have no basis whatsoever for doing it

Ever hear of something called statistics?

and you need to knock it off.

Make me.

Nina, I left K-12 because I didn't want to associate with bullies and I didn't want to be a part of bullying. You may treat your male students this way but you ain't gonna do it to me.

If facts matter so much to you, then why don't you just stick to the facts?

OK, EVERY OTHER ONE OF THESE INCIDENTS HAS BEEN FABRICATED. THAT, DAMN IT, IS A *FACT*!!!!

And please don't tell me what we "both know" -- not ever because, like most members of the Never Educate Anyone brigade, Nina only knows things that support her preconceived conclusions.

Nina, it's people like you who are creating the charter school movement, the home school movement, and -- coming soon -- the second disestablishment movement as well.

Dr. Ed said...

We are really fortunate to have a teacher of Ms. Gardner's caliber in the mat department

Hey Nina, she should know what statistics are and maybe will be kind enough to explain them to you.

and I only hope that we can keep her.

The plot thickens. Math teachers are in short supply and she can do far better than ARHS...

Unless, of course, she were to get a nice little extra stipend for, well, "being Black.".

It's only taxpayer money -- and what's an extra $10K here, an extra $25K there.....

Nina Koch said...

I know there are a lot of reasonable people who read this blog and do not step forward to comment. I am sure there are a variety of reasons for that, but I would ask you folks to make an exception during Warrior Week.

I am assuming/hoping that Ms. Gardner does not read the blog. I would be horrified if she did. We can dilute the effects of the outliers, however, by adding many voices to show the true tenor of the community here. Wouldn't it be great if there were a hundred comments on here and 75 of them said something like this to Ms. Gardner:

1) I believe you.

2) I am really sorry that this happened to you.

3) I pledge to work with others to help us move forward.

Please step forward and leave a comment with your name. Be a Warrior.

Dr. Ed said...

Nina said:
We are really fortunate to have a teacher of Ms. Gardner's caliber in the mat department and I only hope that we can keep her.

Hmmmm....

Unlike most jobs where you can quit with 2 weeks notice, teachers are contracted for a complete school year, and with some exceptions, are required to finish the year unless the district releases them from the contract.

You can't just go to another district mid-year if you get a better deal, or if it's a place where you'd rather be. Not unless your current district permits you to break the contract that binds you to remain where you are through June.

You can leave the profession at any time -- babies get born, husbands get transferred to Saudi Arabia, Math teachers get hired by industry -- there are jobs opening up that won't be open next fall, it's just that those teachers contracted elsewhere can't start in the new job soon enough to get it.

And Hawaii is not only hiring but recognizes out-of-state certificates, and it doesn't snow in Hawaii....

A Black math teacher who is any good is going to be actively recruited by a lot of districts that can offer her a lot more than Amherst ever could. Nina indicates that there is concern she may be leaving....

IF (and Nina, "if") she has a better offer elsewhere, IF she's looking to break her contract, the district isn't really going to be able to stop her if she makes allegations along the lines of the ones she is making.

I'm only saying "if" -- but still...

Anonymous said...

I guess that's what happens when elitists raise kids.

No, it's what happens when RACISTS raise children -- and when racism is taught in the schools.

When Christians raise children, teaching the kids that everyone "is created in God's image" and the rest, this stuff doesn't happen.

Dr. Ed (Who actually took a bolt away from a kid) said...

@Dr Ed “… if she isn't fabricating it, it will be the first time it wasn't fabricated…” Huh? So these things are always fabrications are they?

Can you name one that wasn't?

Seriously, name just one...

Do you have that opinion about rape also?

In the infamous case of the so-called "Scottsboro boys", yes. When a MD testifies that the victim is still a virgin, that sorta raises some questions, doesn't it????

And you knew you had “freaking GUNS” in your classroom and let them stay there?
I ensured the safety of the other children to the best of my ability -- and did so successfully. In one case, I nonchalantly grabbed a critical component of the weapon and put it into my pocket -- end of problem. In the other, I would have done whatever was necessary and it wasn't.

They should probably be made aware of this.

Whom do you think it was who told me that it was a .357 magnum and that it was loaded? All I knew is that he wasn't going to reach into his backpack, not in my classroom...

Dr. Ed said...

Nina, above and beyond the inherent violent nature of the term "warrior", do you blindly believe everything that anyone tells you?

If one of your students were to say that a Martian ate her homework, would you believe her too????

Just wondering.........

Anonymous said...

Anon 2/12 at 3:13

You are unbelievable and need some education yourself. I hope you are no longer in a position to influence children and when you worked for the schools, you had minimal contact.

Dr. Ed

Ugh...what a waste of digital space and verbiage from you ... that is, at best, offensive....

Dr. Ed said...

You are unbelievable and need some education yourself. I hope you are no longer in a position to influence children and when you worked for the schools, you had minimal contact.

Spoken like a tenured teacher. And people wonder why Zimbabwe outscores us on every standardized exam, (NB: that is sarcastic -- although it wouldn't surprise me if Zimbabwe did...)

There was a time when the word "education" and "indoctrination" were not interchangeable. And there are people like me trying to bring that time back.

And I'm quite serious about how my dream ticket would be Alan West for President & Sarah Palin for VeeP -- this isn't about race, boys 'n' girls....

Anonymous said...

People really really need to learn to ignore Ed. He is mentally ill. The more people respond to him the more drivel he posts. We are all Ed enablers and we all need to ignore him and stop enabling him.

Anonymous said...

After reading all these comments It only solidifies my decision I made to pull my kids out of the Amherst school system. Keep them comments coming folks! I already have one out and the second will be feed of this hypocrisy in 1 year 2 months 12 days 6 hours and 23 minutes!

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:40, why wait? There are school choice options available now.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 8:40

Why wait a year. Find an alternative. We did and it has made all the difference in the world. The kids see the hypocrisy of the school system better than we the parents understand it. They tune out over bearing social justice message. They roll their eyes at the mention of it by High School.

The methods used in Amherst are a disaster with long term consequences. When minority groups cling to each other as others have stated they see, then the schools are failing completely.

Nothing left of Rick Hood's pride said...

"Rick said..."


Aw, Cap'n Hood's here just in time

to go down with his ship.

God damn imagine that.

Poor Ted's prolly turning over in his friggan grave.


Chrrrrist, Rick...

Anonymous said...

I would love to know what the teacher thought of Northampton. She worked there for 10 years and did not have these problems. Northampton is more white than Amherst. You would think statistically that there could be more racists. Clearly Northampton is doing something better than Amherst.

Oh, I'm sorry, that can't be true. Amherst knows best on every subject. Just ask anyone.

Dr. Ed said...

"...prejudice [against] self harm, disabilities, mental health, and this school is not addressing this."

I hope the administration does listen to this, because that girl'll be dead soon if you don't. I have no doubt of it.

Someone needs to listen to her.

SOONEST!

Dr. Ed said...

He is mentally ill.

That is a really brave thing for an anonymous schmuck to say. Might I inquire as to what mental illness I am supposed to have -- and the basis of your assertion that I have it?

Heck, I think you're a Diabetic. There's no more medical basis for that assertion but hey, who cares?

But if you are going to fabricate stuff, you gotta fabricate the details, so what are they????

Folks, I'm going to say this once, just once, there is absolutely no way I could have survived the crap that UMass threw at me were I not fully and completely sane. Very few people know what really happened, that's why I'm writing a book about it.

Now as to these annoying and derogatory insults from the modern-day McCarthyites -- I think you're showing more about yourselves than you could ever show about me. And folks, you are every bit as despicable as Joe McCarthy and his sidekick, Richard Nixon.

Dr. Ed said...

No, I'm going to say this too -- I'm now convinced that Carolyn Gardner is NOT a victim of racism.

Why? If she truly was, it wouldn't be necessary for her colleagues to be taking such a scorched earth approach to everyone who doesn't instantly accept her allegations as gospel truth -- the apparent total lack of evidence notwithstanding.

Yes Nina, that means you.

Nina Koch said...

Larry, along with the ARHS Confessions posting that you are displaying, you might want to include the comments that other students have made in response. I think it would give a fuller picture of the situation.

Warrior Week is about the courage to act, standing up for justice. It's about justice for everyone. In fact, in 10th grade advisory, students participated in a clothesline project where they made small posters about some action they have taken to stand up. In the instructions for the poster, it was explicitly stated that this could be standing up to bullying, sexism, homophobia, prejudice against people with disabilities and so forth.

I have sent Larry a video showing students in the cafeteria last year doing a step dance as they shout out what they will stand up for. They were demonstrating courage to act and I'm proud of them.

Larry Kelley said...

So would you like me to publish said video?

Anonymous said...

Warrior week is another failed example of what the administration is doing to solve problems. Problems that were not nearly this bad until someone said, there is a problem. Then nit picked to death the minutia of what each person said to show it in some way offensive.

The people who keep pushing this garbage need to go out and get real jobs. If they want to help bring people together help the poor get real skills and real income. Through real education not this feel good crap you will find true equity.

Anonymous said...

Stop filling the kids heads with these ridiculous ideas.

Teach them some math, science, and writing skills. Offer more AP course, Northampton is way ahead of Amherst in AP offerings and it cost a lot less.

A much larger percentage of Northampton kids take the AP test. In Amherst it looks like only the educated elite take the test. Amherst talks the talk but does little to walk the walk and create true equality. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Nina Koch said...

Well, the video is more information and I understood you were in favor of more information.

It was on our old web site, but that server is now down.

Larry Kelley said...

Okay I'm working on yet another story about this entirely sad episode, so I will include it.

Anonymous said...

I feel sad for Ms. Gardner for having to deal with this difficult situation. It looks like 1 or 2 disturbed people at the high school are really messed up. Please don't think that 1200 other students support this and keep an open mind. The active bystanders we need are the adults. The administration and staff all must work together to create a supportive workplace and classroom for people of any color. Watching adults address this problem will help students more than asking them to speak up. The adults must speak up first, instead of laying it on the students all the time. Be open and honest and work it through. Good luck to Miss Gardner.

Anonymous said...

Not one person in this thread has considered what I, and probably many others, felt as a white child when race came up.

I felt blamed. And as a child and as an adult, I fear that every time that conversation comes up I am blamed for it whether directly or indirectly. "White priviledge" this or that.

Attacking that evokes a defensive response from children. Can you imagine, as a child, being blamed for something you don't even know yet.

Instead an emphasis on sharing culture, working together, and eradicating achievement gaps by better elementary school funding one can erase the differences. This will erase the hate. Then everyone will view their race as second to their culture, and we can truly be one.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:18

Sorry you felt that way. My kids did too. That is why I had to get them out of these schools. I know it is not the intent of the teachers but I know a lot of kids who feel like 1:18. Someone should really think about that.

Anonymous said...

Nina;

From one of your previous post "Warrior Week is about the courage to act, standing up for justice. It's about justice for everyone."

That is exactly the message that Both Sanderson and Rivkin were trying to make, FOR THREE YEARS. Standing up for everyone. Maybe some people didn't like there tone but they worked very hard. In fact I think they worked to hard and exposed the machine for what it is.

So this hypocritical group you are working for, worked harder to discredit them and run them out of town. Thanks for ensuring mediocrity in our schools when you too could have stood up for true warriors, not just for a week, but for a lifetime of change, for the students of Amherst.

(what would a school post be without invoking the names of Sanderson and Rivkin)

Anonymous said...

My kids felt the same way as Anon 1:18. They had friends of all different backgrounds and colors, yet the schools always made them feel bad and worried that something they said would be taken the wrong way. There was plenty of reverse discrimination.

Rick said...

For a little “fair and balanced” perspective, 11 of 12 comments on the ARHS Confessions Facebook post that Larry posted above were positive about Warrior Week, and one was a non sequitur. For example, two comments below:

“Warrior Week is an example of how focused our school is on improvement. It's one of the things that makes me proud to be a part of this school. If you think about it, several of the issues our community faces were addressed. However, it is understandable to say that not all of them were, but in what Realistic world can we address, and solve each issue? Each day had a word regarding race, but much more than race was addressed. If you want everything addressed, or something that is truly important to you, it's YOUR time to lead people into striving towards improvement upon that matter. Like you said, being a warrior is way more than standing up against racism, so be a warrior.”

“Warrior week is about standing up against ignorance and prejudice in general. Maybe if you opened your ears you would have heard. Or maybe if you opened you mind you could see that prejudice is real and is racism, homophobia, sexism, and etc. We did 5 skits in the cafeteria about 5 different types of prejudice! So before you start bad mouthing things, how about you see what's actually going on. Thanks babe”

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, but I notice the original Anon post garnered 31 "likes," second only to one of the comments with 41.

This of course underscores exactly why I (and Catherine Sanderson when she was blogging) allow Anon comments.

If you are going to challenge authority you may wish to remain Anonymous to avoid, err, repercussions.

But if you are gonna be a little suck up, then you definitely want the Powers That Be to know you.

Rick said...

Didn’t say that no one agreed with the post, just adding some balance, since you did not.

“If you are going to challenge authority you may wish to remain Anonymous…” Not if you really want too change something. And I thought that was the cowardly thing to do? Exactly what Warrior Week is trying to teach kids not to do. Don't be anonymous and don't be cowardly.

Larry Kelley said...

Well if you peruse any of my comments over the past seven years you would know I'm not fond of Cowardly Anon Nitwits, and would much prefer folks own up to their opinions.

But I also know damn well certain people absolutely cannot use their names because they would be fired.

For instance the (school employee) Anon who recently posted the tip about ARPS suddenly firing Rob Detweiler later told me (I do get to meet my sources once in a while) that he would have been canned in a heartbeat if he had left his name.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Rick, our kids have learned what happens if you voice a minority opinion.

Anonymous said...

Rick you have been volunteering your time, for what, five years now. You know exactly what happens when you have issues with the schools system.

They talk nice at first, have meetings, and completely ignore you. Then you give up.

Now if like Sanderson and Rivkin who did not stop, you keep pushing the issue, you see what happens. Discredit the person and distract the public. Rivkin's work in economics is about leveling the playing field for all socio-economic groups. Others in the state sought him out for his opinion. In Amherst however he was the devil and his opinions were crap.

You know you have been disappointed by the administration on several occasions. You have quietly pushed ideas that came from the parents, just to have them ignored. Instead of standing up for those parents you side with the administrations excuses. You act like their parrot.

You really could make a difference, but you choose to try and help everyone get along instead of pushing for real change. You could have supported Sanderson, Rivkin, Rhodes, and Spence and made much bigger changes. You could have voted for an outside superintendent and gotten in a set of fresh eyes for the district to clean up the problems. Instead you caved into the status qua.

You are still siding with the admin. with the posts you have made on this blog. You are supposed to represent the voters, not the administration. The voters have no voice without their representatives pushing for what they need. You are failing the children of Amherst. Stand up for what I know you believe in and make a difference. What do you really have to loose.

If half of what is printed here is accurate then there are some real problems in the schools, and they just keep getting worse.

Stand up the for voters, they need you more and more every day.

Rick said...

I hear what you are saying, and I don’t disagree that it can take too long to get things changed, but I have not found “completely ignore you” to be the situation at all. I can meet with the Superintendent at any time, pick up a ball that has been dropped and keep trying to move it forward. That does not mean it will magically happen because I do that. It takes persistence and it takes more than one term on the SC to have enough time to help improvement happen.

One issue that has improved over time is the ARMS math program. This is an issue certainly pushed by Catherine Sanderson and others. Changes have been made since then and the at Tuesday’s SC meeting we had a presentation on the latest, which seems to really cover all the bases and gives everyone what they wanted. Yes this took a total of roughly 3 years since Sanderson was pushing it, but it happened, over time and in stages.

Similarly, people were pushing for a change to the elementary math curriculum. That changed happened also.

“If half of what is printed here is accurate then there are some real problems in the schools, and they just keep getting worse.” No things are not just getting worse. For example, clearly people feel that there have been improvements at ARMS. People seem to think SPED administration has improved as well. I am not “siding with the admin” by saying that, it’s just true. It’s equally true that others things have not improved. Let’s just not be so one-sided when presenting the situation. It’s not all bad, and its not all good.

“You could have voted for an outside superintendent and gotten in a set of fresh eyes for the district to clean up the problems. Instead you caved into the status quo.”

No. I thought really, really hard about this decision. If you think I was “vote for Maria” from the beginning, I was not at all, ask Ellen Story if you don’t believe me. At the start I favored another candidate. I dug really hard into finding out about all the candidates. I called lots of people who were not on the candidate references list to really find out what they were like. The search consultants are OK as far as bringing you candidates, but they are lousy at vetting them.

In the end I voted for who I thought was he best candidate, period. I did not cave to anyone, and really it would have been easier for me as chair of that process to have “caved” and not voted for Geryk. I remain neither “for” nor “against” the current Superintendent. If it seems like I am “siding with the admin” with my posts here, that is not my intent, it is simply to balance the view here.

I voted for a CEO and now I am trying to help that CEO get the job done in any way I can.

If there are issues that you feel are not being worked on, you know where to find me and the rest of the SC members.

Larry Kelley said...

Well gee there Rick, if you really want "to balance the view" you can always start your own blog.

Oh, right. You tried that. #Fail.

Anonymous said...

I just don't get why you, Larry, and everyone else who posts on this blog has to be so negative. Here is Rick, trying to present a more balanced view of things and all you can do is respond in a snarky, negative way? Why? He is adding to the conversation here in a productive way. What the hell is so wrong with that? Do you really want it all so one-sided all the time here? What is interesting about that? Why are you so threatened by what Rick had to say? I just don't get it.

Larry Kelley said...

Not "threatened" in the least. If I was I would simply not publish his comment.

I just don't like seeing a guy and his family get shafted because of the color of his skin -- in his case, white.

Although he did text me and asked I stop referring to him and his family as "white."

He prefers "American."

Larry Kelley said...

Not talking about Rick, I should add.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Rick, I am certain that you believe that things are better ... but I need to correct a few things in your summary. First, when you write "it took a total of roughly 3 years since Sanderson was pushing it," that is extremely wrong. I served on the SC from 2008 to 2011, and was "pushing" math in ARMS the whole time. That would be 6 years from now, not 3 years. In addition, I was on a math curriculum committee appointed by Jere Hochman as of 2007, because of my concerns about math. So, this is 7 years of pushing, not 3, and 7 years is a very, very long time in the life of math education for a child. The child I was hoping to impact with my pushing in 2007 was then in 4th grade; he is now a sophomore in high school.

Second, you write that the ARMS math program is now in great shape ("gives everyone what they wanted."). That would be FAR from the truth. A recent math meeting at ARMS revealed great concern on the part of many parents about the current math program. Children were selected into flex math this year in 7th grade without any input from parents, and some children who could do the math flex work and were recommended by their 6th grade teachers weren't placed into math flex. Other students are now getting A+ in regular math and aren't being moved into math flex. It would be very hard to describe the current system as a success in the eyes of many parents. In addition, there is NO plan as of now for what is going to happen in the high school in terms of math other than that "there will be one plan" instead of the current IMP versus traditional math options. Instead of deciding on a plan for 12th graders and working backwards, the district is making a new plan each year as the current 7th grade group (which includes my 2nd child) moves along. This cohort is in fact the "guinea pig" year and will be from 7th through 12th grade. This isn't "everything parents want."

I believe you are well-intentioned, but I share Anonymous 2:38's view that you have supported the administration repeatedly over the parents and students who SC members are elected to represent. But that isn't unusual among SC members past, present, or I'm sure future, since the town has made it very clear that people who speak out openly for change while on the SC will pay a substantial price.

Anonymous said...

Then please explain your knee jerk need to be so snarky and negative toward Rick. What does your belittling of Rick have to do with a white family being shafted. (And I agree that family was shafted and I hope they sue the school).

Anonymous said...

Rick, there have been many, many changes over the years with the math program but NO improvement. My oldest kids are in their 20s and I have been paying attention. If you take a look back on the history, this latest change is just more of the same. Why have we paid big money on consultants that were ignored?

Anonymous said...

What are the math offerings in Hadley? Northampton? Better than Amherst? Anyone know?

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anonymous 9:03 pm - that was precisely the type of information I regularly gathered and reported on my blog (myschoolcommitteeblog) when I was on the SC. Information on math at all levels in those districts and other districts in MA and the US was gathered by me and reported on my blog - that was part of the education process I did for myself and the community as a member of the SC. I have not continued to gather such updates but you could certainly refer to my blog (which is still available) for any of this information - which was accurate as of 2011.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Geryk head the SPED program that is now being described as "improved?" Improved from the time when she was the head? What does that say?

Didn't Geryk not just ignore but shut down Dr. Chen's report? Didn't she support continuing Investigations?

Change only came with new hires in SPED and the second curriculum directors--not with Geryk. She supported a new SPED director that didbn't meet the qualifications but was loyal to her.

Aren't these details part of the story?

These changes are too late for many kids. And there's no proof that these changes are working yet. Hopefully they will but too late for my kids.

Rearranging deck chairs on Cap'n Hood's Titanic said...

" If you think I was “vote for Maria” from the beginning, I was not at all, ask Ellen Story if you don’t believe me."


Warriors are allowed to back peddle.


Right, Hood?



Yours affectionately,

-Squeaky Squeaks


p.s. You ~really~ fcked things up this time, Rick.

But whatever, you've got nothing better to do (if you catch my drift).

Tom Porter said...

I'm glad this conversation is unfolding here, because it is an important one and touches a number of facts of related, underlying issues that we all hope this high-potential but troubled school system can resolve one day soon.

Especially appreciate hearing from the voices who identify themselves - Ed, Nina, Rick and Catherine (and you too, Larry) - because you're all consistent and honest about your positions, and it is informative. I often disagree with Rick, but thanks Rick for your posts here and I'm sorry you are being sniped at. Not appreciative of the anonymous snarky or ad hominem attacks, on either side, but many other anon comments are constructive - on both sides - and I agree with what Larry and others have asserted that there are reasons people may fear repercussion. Thanks for keeping the comment stream open Larry.

My view: I hope that the full story of this incident is ultimately revealed, either by the school or in the press, and that true justice is served. And I hope that ARPS will one day live up to the promise and capacity it has to educate every student to his or her fullest potential. I happen to believe that, to accomplish the second goal, ARPS needs to re-prioritize its academic efforts; I'm sure that others will disagree on the approach, but I believe we all hope for the same outcome.

Anonymous said...

Not "threatened" in the least. If I was I would simply not publish his comment.

So we can assume that whenever you fail to publish a comment directed at you, it's because you feel threatened?

Nina Koch said...

Tom,

Thanks for your thoughtful comment and for attaching your name to what you believe.

Larry Kelley said...

Tom is a warrior from way back.

One amazing mosquito said...

"Especially appreciate hearing from the voices who identify themselves..."


Yeah, I identified myself

once.

An insect, I put myself so far out there for fellow co-workers and students, that it cost me my job.

Jere Hochman once told me,

"My door is always open",

until he was convinced by that ~vicious~ mob

to slam it shut.

I really hope you don't think my sniping a game.

Because I have never been more serious about anything

my entire life.



As real as it possibly gets,

-Squeaky Squeaks

Anonymous said...

See, I don't understand the Amherst school system. They have this huge anti-bullying thing going on, but honestly, it never. works. I once went to a teacher to report that I felt bullied, and she told me not to worry about it, that the kids didn't mean it, blah blah blah. Then when it didn't stop and my parents decided to get involved, they were immediately up-in-arms. Then they just forget about it. The same thing happened to my friend.

I feel like so much has gotten worse since the whole racism thing. It is making everybody scared and paranoid, especially the administration. It's really interesting how they are going so far to "prevent" racism, that they end up attacking the other side. And in the midst of all this drama, nothing is getting solved.

And in the meantime - what about the homophobia? The anti-semitism? I used to some students say that they thought students with disabilities shouldn't be in classes with students without disabilities. What's being done about that? And how about a single, unisex bathroom for students who identify as trans?

I just think there are a lot of ways Amherst could better handle their time that would actually make a difference. I'm really glad I switched schools. The school I attend now is even more racially mixed than ARHS, yet, there aren't nearly as many race problems. It's time Amherst figured out what they're doing wrong.

Anonymous said...

Well everyone is talking about getting rid of quotas what about legacy in college admissions. Why don't we start with that first? Quotas don't just help minorities the wealthy benefit just as much if not more so. True racism is everywhere but education should be the cure, it’s just unfortunate that we have so many uneducated people in this country.