Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The R Word


I guess if you say it often enough it becomes true to a lot of people.  Are the venerable Amherst schools guilty of "institutional racism?"  And by extension, the entire community.   Really? 

How about the black on white racism/bullying that occurred last January?  A regrettable incident the schools completely mishandled because it did not fit their politically correct concept of racism.

To this day the bullied white youth is still not back in school, while all three of his tormentors have been back almost since day one. 

Meanwhile, the teacher of color (Carolyn Gardner) who was targeted by alleged racist "threats" left in bathrooms has a full-time guard assigned to her while carrying out her duties on school grounds. 

Mr Hood laments an overly white Town Meeting but he fails to mention an even bigger demographic rift -- the age gap.  Amherst has the lowest median age in the state (22) because of "college aged youth," while Amherst Town Meeting could easily be mistaken for a senior center social.

The Amherst School Committee, of which he is a member, is 80% white.

Branding the public schools and the entire community "racist" because of the misguided attention seeking actions of a unknown perp is exactly the kind of overreaction the troll is seeking.

And trolls come in all colors.


Dr. Ed said...

I'm sorry Larry, but if you can't teach without a security guard babysitting you, you don't deserve your salary.

Classroom management and such is part of the duties of a classroom teacher. If Carolyn Gardner can't do it, then she ought not be teaching. Would they do this for a White teacher - I think not -- and hence it becomes racism...

Anonymous said...

Gardner is a lousy teacher who is using racism to explain why she can't control a classroom. Fire this idiot. Wait, it's Amherst, she's black and we can't fire a minority. Only whites can be racist according to Amherst.

With great power comes great responsibility. That means Maria Geryk has to go too.

Oh and don't forget, in every study done of infants, including a very recent publication - put a black infant in a room with a mixture of black and white infants and it will want to be with black infants. Same goes for white infants who will all migrate to the white infants. Is that racism too?

Perhaps our higher brain is trying to explain something that is far simpler than we dare admit.

What's yours, is theirs said...

Fck Hood.

Fck him

and the rest of em.

"In this deceitful American game of power politics, the Negroes are nothing but tools, used by one group of whites called Liberals against another group of whites called Conservatives, either to get into power or to remain in power.

Among whites here in America, the political teams are no longer divided into Democrats and Republicans. The whites who are now struggling for control of the American political throne are divided into “liberal” and “conservative” camps. The white liberals from both parties cross party lines to work together toward the same goal, and white conservatives from both parties do likewise.

The white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative.

Both want power, but the white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro’s friend and benefactor; and by winning the friendship, allegiance, and support of the Negro, the white liberal is able to use the Negro as a pawn or tool in this political “football game” that is constantly raging between the white liberals and white conservatives.

Politically the American Negro is nothing but a football and the white liberals control this mentally dead ball through tricks of tokenism: false promises of integration and civil rights. In this profitable game of deceiving and exploiting the politics of the American Negro, those white liberals have the willing cooperation of the Negro civil rights leaders. These “leaders” sell out our people for just a few crumbs of token recognition and token gains. These “leaders” are satisfied with token victories and token progress because they themselves are nothing but token leaders…"

Malcolm X




Anonymous said...

I don't know what point you're making Ed, please clarify (maybe I don't know all the facts behind the scenario or what not, idk)

"Branding the public schools and the entire community "racist" because of the misguided attention seeking actions of a unknown perp is exactly the kind of overreaction the troll is seeking."

agreed. key word here is attention seeker. every middle/high school of anyone friend i've ever had has had the words "nigger, nazi, KKK, fag, queer, etc etc etc" and nazi swatchka symbols etched into every bathrrom. more likely, every bathroom in the entire country. it doesn't really mean people are racist, or the person who wrote it. they are seeking attention, and boy is it working out for them. they barely know what racism is besides what they learn in book and classrooms. the bubble that is amherst isn't showing them some real hatred for "types" of people, theres a lot of hate out there in this world by some ugly people, and these are just kids being kids trying to cause a scene and seek attention

Anonymous said...

Do people of color run for Town Meeting and lose? Do students of color apply for advanced math classes and are they turned away?

Anonymous said...

Funny how when people of color face harrassment all of a sudden it's "alleged," and whether it's racism is called into doubt. That's exactly the racism his letter is talking about. It's the default to the "it can't be" mindset.

Larry Kelley said...

I used the word alleged because we don't know exactly the content of the graffiti.

Anonymous said...

Hood's letter is a thoughtful attempt to deal with a complicated issue. You may not agree with him, but please don't sling mud. Try to thoughtfully sort it out. We can't discuss openly unless people are allowed to say what they think without being attacked. We are in this together.

Anonymous said...

What Rick fails to realize and has failed to realize is that you can't just say don't be racist. You can't nit pic the actions of people and claim they are clearly racist. It is, and has put people on edge to be politically correct to the point where it is counter productive. This is why so many whites fear the subject. No matter how any white person tried to be fair and balanced there is always somebody picking at minutia and calling it racism.

Rick said...

“Branding the public schools and the entire community ‘racist’ because of the misguided attention seeking actions of a unknown perp is exactly the kind of overreaction the troll is seeking.” On the contrary, your statement is exactly the kind of “overreaction” that you love to do to attract the trolls here. And you publishing this here on your blog is giving more attention to this “perp” who you say do not want to give attention to. Nice bit of hypocrisy there. No, not “branding” and no, not “entire community”. But does institutional racism exist in our schools, community and country? Hell yes it does. Do you think it doesn’t? Do you even know what it means? I am wondering because you put it in quotes as though it is some kind of fiction.

“The Amherst School Committee, of which he is a member, is 80% white.” Yeah, that is my point. Good job, you are being “aware” like I was asking people to be in my letter.

In another hyperbolic statement you say“Mr. Hood not long ago at a School Committee meeting demanding the schools fire any employee who fails to intervene in a ‘racist’ incident.” I did not “demand” anything, I stated my opinion. And it was not about just racism. And “fire” is your interpretation of what I said - there are others. The words “lose the privilege” is silent on how long the privilege is lost for and whether it can be earned back. Obviously it depends a lot on the exactly details of any situation, and as I said in those previous comments: “I know that School Committee members are not supposed to get directly involved in particular cases of student or staff discipline, so I won’t.”

OK trolls… Larry has invited you in again. Have fun.

For the rest of you reading this who actually think, I would ask you to consider the idea of simply being more aware. BTW the title of my letter was “Racism and Awareness” – for some unknown reason the Gazette changed the title.

Anonymous said...

I'm fourth generation Amherst and I'm not a racist, I hate everybody!

Anonymous said...

If Capt Rick really wants to reduce racism he should start by ensuring all kids have a quality education. Raise kids up educationally and regardless of race they will rise up in the ranks of our society. Those that rise up will create the balance Rick seeks. It may take generations to get it where the liberals of Amherst want it but clearly all of their past attempts of telling white kids that they are oppressors and minorities that they are victims really just does not work.

Rick bring your head out into the sunshine. It is a little bright at first but in the end you will feel and smell much better with a little disinfectant.

Rick said...

“Raise kids up educationally and regardless of race they will rise up in the ranks of our society.”

Yes that is exactly right, but institutional racism is about “regardless of race” not happening.

And is it just the “liberals of Amherst“ who want this? Really?

Yes of course “telling white kids that they are oppressors and minorities that they are victims really just does not work”. I agree that is not the right thing to be doing. One does not have to do that just to try to be aware of institutional racism that is around oneself – which was all I was asking for in the letter.

Anonymous said...

Rick, the facts and reasons you just laid out in your post are the exact reasons that Amherst voters need proportional representation on the regional school committee.

Under the current proposal, Amherst will have barely 53 percent votes on most issues. And Amherst members will not be able to out-vote the other members whenever a 2/3rd's majority vote is required on key issues like hiriing the superintendent or closing a school. Having 88% of the population or paying 85% of the $40 million+ billes will mean nothing then.

How will that voting system help minority students and voters in Amherst? This voting system will protect the interests of small, high performing, expensive schools and their students (largely white and affluent) for all time. How will that help Amherst minority children and voters? Their voices and needs will be diluted to irrelevence.

In all the regionalization meetings I've attended I have never once heard any committee members from the hill towns talk about the needs and concerns of Amherst minority students and parents. Not once.

Let's get together and talk about proportional representation and regionalization.

Janet McGowan

Anonymous said...

Where I cannot go along with you is the part where you think that all white people are racist and, additional,that only white folks can be racist. I don't agree with either belief. There have been a lot of racist acts by a certain black administrator at the high in recent months that you seem to care little about.
Also, not only is there institutional racism across the country there is also institutional sexism, classism and heterosexism. When you start being as concerned about all the isms then I might start paying attention to you.
And finally, as an Amherst taxpayer, I resent that my tax dollars are being used to pay for a personal body guard for Ms. Gardner. Other teachers and students have been bullied to the point that they don't feel safe in school and I don't see any bodyguards for them. In fact, one such white student, instead of getting a body guard he got suspended and is still not in school. I think it is absurd that we are paying for a body guard for a teacher.

Anonymous said...


"Yes of course “telling white kids that they are oppressors and minorities that they are victims really just does not work”. I agree that is not the right thing to be doing."

The problem Rick is that many of the kids who go through the Amherst school system feel exactly that way right now. Many of the grads feels that way. So it appears you agree it should not be like this. As a member of the SC could you ask the administration to re-evaluate the shove down your throat racism message they have been pushing for over a decade and do something far different. What is being done is not, and has not been working. You are in a position to do something about it. Get it done. Set a policy with real consequences, fire a superintendent, DO SOMETHING and stop talking about it.

Anonymous said...


Could you please define "Institutional Racism", just so we are on the same page. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Amen to what has been said by Anon 8:09 am. Mr. Hood has to know that, in writing this letter, he occupies the high ground (the high priesthood, if you will) and no one will take on the argument, for fear of being dumped on and ostracized.

The largest vote total for a Town Meeting candidate this year was for a person of color. How does this fit into this claim of "institutional racism"? It means nothing?

It is one thing to aspire to an ideal and keep getting closer and closer, but not quite there. We understand that. It's another thing to live in a community of perpetual grievance, in which one group in town (the whites) are not and can never be absolved.

You understand why people would react negatively, but anonymously, to that, don't you, Mr. Hood?

Rick said...

Anon 9:09
“…you think that all white people are racist and, additional,that only white folks can be racist. I don't agree with either belief.” Where did I say that? I didn’t, and do not believe it either.

Anon 9:23
I like the definition I used in my letter which I got from here:
Or this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institutional_racism

Adam Sweet said...

Rick, it's true you did not use the words "fired" in your public statement, but you did say that "...that staff member has lost the privilege of working in the school system. Period."

Clearly, many people, myself included, thought you meant that staff member should be fired.

Anonymous said...

How can we understand what has gone on by using the label "institutional racism" for the incidents at the High School as anything else than an attempt to play on people's guilt?

Anonymous said...

Racism? There are many problems in this world. In the bubble of Amherst, we thought we can solve every problem this world has? What is the main theme of k-12 school? Does our school leaders have a vision what they want to prepare our children into and how this is going to be done? A high performing school lifts all boats. Every student will be able to get a good education and go as far as his ability allows him/her, and his interests drive him/her. The current school leaders incorrectly interpret the concept of equity in education. The truth equity education concept recognize the inherent differences in interests and abilities in different subject area and skill set that children have. Some like literature, some like math, others like sports. That is the fact. Children are not born with equal interests and abilities in every subjects. Current school leaders ignore this differences, and go to the extreme on political correctness. They create this cookie-cutter approach. For one, they limit the amount of knowledge each subject is allowed to be taught or to be learned in school. Second, they are not doing enough to help the poor performing students. The result is that everybody is not happy about Amherst public schools, while the taxpayers are paying fortunes on property tax on schools. Amherst school, like a boat, is directionless, floating in the sea and is at the mercy of waves of all kinds. All sort of Genies are out of bottles and becomes issues. Racism is just one of the things coming out. There are more to come. Why? Because everybody is not happy about the school, and the Amherst school need a new Captain who can steer the school towards excellence, chart the boat to its destination. Maria Geryk should leave the school for everybody's benefits. In a few years down the road, how many of our high school graduates can go to competitive college, studying useful subject area that can secure them with good career, to start a family? How many of our students who get a Amherst school diploma but cannot go into a good college, not a good area of study, and cannot find a career, not even a job after college? Are these Amherst School Graduates will have to come back to live with their parents, not because they like it, but because they have not choice, and no surviving skills? Should these families lined up to Maria Geryk's office, if she is still around at our school, and demand property tax money back? How long will that line be everyday?

Maria Geryk, it is time for you to leave our school alone.

Anonymous said...

After reading this guys editorial, it's clear to me that he is part of the problem.

He speaks of compartmentalizing everything and everyone. He makes terrible assumptions. For instance that "Many people, mostly white - but some of color..."

And by what authority and what knowledge does he make such an ignorant statement. Is he saying this because there are more whites and so it "must" be more a white issue?

He then goes on to compartmentalize everyone and everything, basically adding to what he refers to as "institutionalized racism".

His "be aware" dribble tells folks to look at people for not who they are but for their color and if we see a difference we must act different. "Be aware when we are in a Town meeting and see a large group of white faces"? Amherst is 77% black, what do you expect?

It's exactly your attitude that is what is wrong with towns like Amherst were forcing everyone to get along, making sure everyone is included even if they don't earn that honor, where affirmative action is still every much alive, all the reason why towns like Amherst (where the population is mostly white) has more issues with race that large cities where the minority population is near equal.

You need not pull up your hood, it's already part of who you are, you just can't see it.

Anonymous said...

A mighty fortress is Mr. Hood's position on this issue.

You can listen, you can read, you can try to learn as much as you can, you can vote based on character rather than skin color, but you will still not have the necessary awareness.

Who would argue with what he has written in the Gazette? Who would want to argue and suffer the consequences?

But the letter still doesn't seem quite fair, does it?

Anonymous said...

I find Ms Custard to be very bias or should I say racist in the way she handled the January incident. Not once were the other "non white" boys called into the deans office and what about the student who left the school after assaulting a white student and possibly the teacher who intervened.

John Barron said...

It is sad and frightening to see a once promising school system regress over the years, to decay into a nearly totalitarian regime, hellbent on policing and punishing everyone who dares speak or act in an offensive manner. This is a perverted witch hunt in which everyone by nature shares the guilt, yet a few are scapegoated to please the leadership.

Anonymous said...


Please don't beat up Larry for putting institutional racism in quotation marks. He doesn't have a clue how to use them correctly.

(Note to Larry, putting a word in quotation marks implies you believe it has the opposite meaning. Also, the question mark goes inside the closing quotation mark not outside.)

--The Nun That Was Your 8th Grade Teacher

Anonymous said...

Rick Hood and Michael Burkhart belong together...they constantly see things as black/white. Rick is observing and becoming aware and Michael is observing and counting. Counting white people that is.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually Sister, sometimes a quote is just a, you know, direct quote.

I was quoting from Mr. Hood's lede in his letter to the Gazette that used the term, "institutional racism."

Anonymous said...

Thank for clarifying, and for putting the period inside the quotation mark. You don't have to stay after class today.

Larry Kelley said...

Thanks. I still have nightmares about the cloakroom.

Yokal said...

The Pioneer valley is one of the most segregated communities nationwide (has many races and they tend to live in distinct communities or neighborhoods). Despite that, I find this area to be the opposite of racist in day to day interaction.

When you go beyond that interaction and see where people choose to live (or can afford to), the underlying desire to be with people of similar cultures is still alive and always will be. We always see out those that are similar to us - in language, race, food, movies, etc.

This is certainly not a govt issue any longer, it is a cultural one.

I did read on here that Amherst School are 1/2 black, is this true, not being in the schools, I see mostly white people in the area. Most of my local customers are white too.

Fun to talk about, I see no action items here.

Anonymous said...

What would Helen Berg do?

Walter Graff said...

Glad to see that the problem of the Amherst school system is finally being seen by the masses. In a town where everyone is afraid to speak the truth, we are finally seeing just that.

Please get rid of Maria Geryk. She has single-handedly done immeasurable damage to the system and the future of our children.

How much longer will people sit around, afraid to speak the truth. The Amherst school system should be first in the state, not near the bottom. Millions of dollars in tax money is wasted with no result but a bloated top-down system that puts our children's needs and future last.

The leadership and attitude about the schools needs to change and needs to change fast as we are talking about lives here, not alliances and friendships, nor political correctness.

We need to focus on education first, not security guards, nor graffiti, nor marching children around the school, nor being nice to someone simply because he is a different color, nor being punished for being a particular color, nor any of the other useless extras and distractions that do nothing for education. The current schedule and system does not work.

Your failed "Catch the WAVE":
We Work Hard
We Act Responsibly
We are Very Respectful
We keep Everyone Safe

has turned into a tsunami of destruction and disaster. It is the opposite of what this administration has ended up with. Time to get out of the water before you hurt any more.

Maria Geryk, you are not qualified to be in the position you have. The current direction of the school system is a heading quickly towards a grade F. Please resign.

Anonymous said...

all the demographics of ARPS can be found at http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=06050000&orgtypecode=5&

about 7.6% of our HS and MS kids are african american (vs 8.7% statewide).

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the links. From the longer one doesn't it seem strong language to say that the ARPS have "institutional racism". Wouldn't institutional prejudice be the correct term.

If racism is to imply discrimination and bias in action, and / or a lack of action by others to change it based on fear, then it means the school system is racial corrupt from top to bottom.

While I am no big fan of Maria Geryk's I have never gotten the impression that she is prejudiced. For that matter if the problem was "institutionalized" that would imply the other far beyond Ms. Geryk would have to be in league together, say most of the principles, chairs of departments, etc.

I don't believe this is the case at all. I really don't believe that there is any institutional racism as defined by the article.

Now if you want to call it isolated pockets of prejudice then that would make more sense.

If it is isolated pockets than Maria Geryk should be able to clean it up very rapidly. The SC should demand that.

As that has not happened to date one would have to debate the effectiveness of the SC as a whole and specifically the competence of the superintendent.

You are the white guy in power. Do something if you really believe it is a problem. Not letters actions. Anything less is racist based on this article. That is, if you agree with the article. I know you have put yourself out there with s peaches and writing but maybe you should stop telling the rest of us to change. Stand up and make it happen. No one is going to oppose actions of quality. Be a real leader!

This is no flame to sit by, no fire for comfort said...

Claptrap Cap'n Hood said:

"OK trolls… Larry has invited you in again. Have fun."

Jesus Christ Rick.

Look at you.

ಅಡಿಕೆಗೆ ಹೋದ ಮಾನ ಆನೆ ಕೊಟ್ಟರೂ ಬರದು

"A damaged reputation is rarely repaired."

I mean, Ted works his whole friggan life making you a name

and you piss down it like a drunk pisses down his own leg?

WTF is wrong with you?

Do you even know?

Rick said...

Anon 6:12pm:

If you prefer to use institutional prejudice (or institutional discrimination) rather than institutional racism, that’s fine by me. But really institutional racism is just institutional discrimination based on race (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination).

The definition from that Daily Kos link is in my view a good one, with the portion in bold the most important: “Racism, however, describes patterns of discrimination that are institutionalized as ’normal’ throughout an entire culture. It's based on an ideological belief that one ‘race’ is somehow better than another ‘race’. It's not one person discriminating at this point, but a whole population operating in a social structure that actually makes it difficult for a person not to discriminate.

That article does a great job of defining prejudice, discrimination and racism and is really worth reading (again this is the link: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/07/15/884649/-Why-there-s-no-such-thing-as-Reverse-Racism).

You say “…if the problem was ‘institutionalized’ that would imply the others far beyond Ms. Geryk would have to be in league together, say most of the principles, chairs of departments, etc.”. That assumes that it is conscious and it is not. Like for you Ms. Geryk does not seem the least bit prejudiced to me. The same is true for the administrators I know. But I don’t think I am prejudiced either, and yet I am quite sure I can at times be unconsciously racist and feel the need to try harder to be aware of when I am being so. The acts of racism which are conscious, like those against Ms. Gardner, are perhaps “isolated pockets of prejudice”, though I know many who would argue they not so “isolated”.

I used to think racism is more or less over and if we can all just be more “colorblind” everything will be better. The problem is we are not colorblind and we never will be, so to deny that just makes it worse, not better. What changed for me is that over time I heard enough examples from people of color about the racism they encounter, and I heard how they are sick and tired of explaining this to us over and over - and us not getting it - that it finally sunk in that I need to try harder to educate myself and to try to be more aware. That was what I was trying to get across in my letter.

In your last paragraph you suggest I “do something”. This is mostly a matter of education (of myself, not just of others). So it’s not something that one can solve by just passing a motion at a school committee meeting to eliminate institutional racism. My letter is just one small thing I thought I could do to try to get people thinking about this. It requires a change of mindset not just a bunch of new rules. The “warrior week” that gets mocked on this blog was an example of an educational effort – one of the things that ARPS at least tried to make progress with and I think did to some extent.

Also, at the last school committee meeting Amilcar Shabazz made a motion to create a task force to help craft ideas and to bring recommendations to the full school committee. That motion passed unanimously. Hopefully some concrete ideas will come out of that.

Speak up, Rick said...

"My letter is just one small thing I thought I could do to try to get people thinking about this."

Ok thanks, we're thinking.

Now, let's get back to thinking

about reality.

Robert Detweiler.

Remember him, Hood?

I mean, hugely important, dead center figure in the district

simply ~evaporates~?

~Mighty~ long paid vacay that one,

dontcha' think, Rick?

Worth every penny?



Anonymous said...

So people don't think they are racist but really are. What is worse is they don't understand what about them is racist until someone tells them. This seems so subjective, so dependent on the individual passing judgement on the racist. It is an impossible situation without resolution. The perfect eternal conflict that will never have resolution. The great distraction to the real problems in our society. Like real racism as it exists in many other parts of the country. Real poverty, lack of education, and so on.

Rick I think your time would be better spent trying to fix what is wrong with the schools and not some highly subjective problem that is unmeasurable in severity or solution. Get the kids a high quality education that the crazy spending deserves.

Anonymous said...

Maria Geryk IS THE PROBLEM. Under the disguise of education equity, she is racing the Amherst School system to the bottom. Under Maria's control, Amherst school only teaches minimum standards that state requires. Beyond minimum standards, teachers are not allow to teach, and students are not allow to learn at school. If you want your children to learn more, find your children tutors, and send them to Kumon. Better, transfer out of Amherst school system. Over the years, Amherst school diploma has less and less substance. If you have children in Amherst schools, you want to act early before it is too late. As Amherst taxpayers, find your way to vote the direction of property tax allocation. Let school committee know, let Maria Geryk know: Amherst School needs new leadership. Either make the change, or we will cut your funding.

Anonymous said...

"When from the depths of his/her heart, man/woman desires something more lasting than material wealth, something more real than material power, the wave of destruction will recede."

Anonymous said...

What is the story with Robert Detweiler? Larry, investigative reporter? Rick Hood, supervisor for our superintendent? At this point, what over four months, of public money paying his "paid leave" I think the public has a right to know. Has the school committee been informed, in closed session? They have the right to demand an explanation. Ms. Geryk DOES have accountability to the SC.

Yokal said...

Sounds like it is time to privatize. At least those in Amherst are stating to realize the destruction that is associated with deciding everything my committee and financing it all with unearned money.

Just the concept that we cannot have the best of educations on $10k+ a year per student should be the first sign the system is broken. Each classroom in the pioneer valley receives more revenue in a year than most local businesses...and they still cannot get it right.

I challenge anyone to show how one class could spend $300k+ a year, even paying rent to the school for the class. Most of the money goes to useless admin and all they seem to do is facilitate these silly debates.

Racism is not a school issue, it is a community issue. If the kids are racist, that means the parents pretty much raised them poorly. The schools, which have even less skills, but more financial resources cannot fix this.

You see simply denying racism will only make it worse. Even bigger than the racism is the local classicism or politicsism. The stuff people say about people who believe different than them is just as bad or worse than a one word insult because of skin color.

Racism is not a community problem, it is a mental defect that results from poor parenting. If Amherst schools are racist, the PARENTS should be absolutely ashamed at their failure. The school cannot fix such a huge failure....just like the cops wont fix the kids that drive drunk, we can also blame those kids' parents for that one too.

Again shame on Amherst parents for this widely publicized failure. If I was a parent thinking of moving here....I would think twice concerned that the community would turn my kid into a racist, thus as a parent, my job would be to not move to Amherst.

So are you guys really racist or not? Is this really all over a couple of words scratched in a desk or something? Time to get over it if that is all it was. Publicly shame the parents of the kids that did so and move on.

Larry Kelley said...

That's one of the problems with the schools being so secretive.

We don't know what the graffiti messages were EXACTLY and it sounds like a perp was caught for at least one of the incidents, but we have no information on who that was and what their race and gender was (assuming it was a student).

Yokal said...

Don't allow the school to be so secretive. I don't understand why they have so much control. Who runs the community.

This is not a public issue. The kid who did this simply needs to be sent to detention, his parents need to be informed and if they know 100% who did it, the family should be publicly shamed.

Some public policy is not going to change this, the way it is changed is by shaming those that do it.

If they are unsure who did it, you erase it, have an assembly and move on the the math skills that the kids seem to be lacking in.

This is a school, not moral care center.

Just sounds again like the parents of Amherst failed, both at creating non-racists kids AND having control of their local govt.

Thanks for responding Larry and for facilitating public debates. With so many responses, it seems as if it is time to have a public meeting on the common to discuss this. What races should be invited and in what numbers....just kidding.

Yokal said...

Also, Larry your last post which describes the lack of information, makes me wonder if it really happened at all.

And why did the public even hear about this. Do they make all violations public.

I had a competition in 5th grade with another boy to see who could write the most bad stuff about one girl on the bathroom walls. We wrote some pretty bad stuff. We got caught, we got forced to clean off the walls after school one day. They even gave us poor equipment to do so, like a bucket of clean water and a sponge to get ink off the wall. We worked for hours and then shamefully got picked up by our angry parents and never did it again.

We wrote things like Slut, Whore (not even knowing what these thing were yet)we said she was stupid, we made sure to make use off all the great 3 and 4 letter words all kids know anyway.

Now I am a community leader and the other kid is a state trooper. Let's not make a big deal out of nothing, especially if there is not hard proof you can look at to say it even happened in the first place.

Tom Porter said...

First I have seen of this, that a perpetrator may have been caught for one of the racist graffiti incidents. True? When will those facts be reported?

Anonymous said...

Or is the 'caught perpetrator' really just 'all of us,' as an institutionally-racist community?

"And isn't that, in turn, really an indictment of our entire American society? You can say what you want about Delta house, but I'm not going to sit here... "

Anonymous said...

Back of envelop calculation of school finance: $17,000 per student cost in Amherst school system, multiple 20 students in a classroom, it is $340,000 per classroom. Amherst entrust this large sum of money for years to our school with a prayer for them to do good to our children. From school administrators perspective, it is unearned money, free to spend. Spend it or lose it. Right now, we don't have check and balance in our school system. School committee collude with the Superintendent. SC chair, Kip Fonsh, considers himself as Maria Geryk's ally. Maria Geryk considers herself should be insulated with the general public, only needs to listen to SC. General public has no saying on how to run our schools. Amherst Taxpayers just donate the money, $17,000 per student, then just sit back and watch our school performance erosion year after year.

Maria Geryk has this black hole, called central office. School administrators who gets promotion, or demotion, all sucked into this black hole and disappear from public eyes. There is revolving doors and music chairs in central office, and each chair is very expensive, at the expense of taxpayers. There is no transparency, nor accountability.

It is time to privatize Amherst public schools. If SC and SI cannot run our school efficiently, and maintain high performance ranking. As taxpayers, we should consider privatize our school. If state law permits, we should dismantle current school system. Send $17,000 per child to each family and encourage them to find better education elsewhere. At least, we should cut Amherst public school funding to our neighboring towns, like Hadley, and force Amherst school to get mean and lean and still keep good performance, like Hadley. Give the rest of the money, like $7,000 as spending allowance per child for education only to each family. The family can use this money to find tutors, Kumons, or other classes outside of Amherst public school system. If family spends it on their children's education, they will get reimbursed up to $7,000 limit a year. If they didn't spend it, the money goes back to taxpayer reserve pool, used to reduce Amherst property tax in subsequent years.

Amherst taxpayers need accountability from SC and Maria Geryk. Amherst public school needs provide transparency and accountability to its public and taxpayers. We need to reinstate a working check and balance into our school system. Public funding, and taxpayers action could be the key.

Tom Porter said...

If the lad who felt bullied and tried to get protection has been iced on indefinite suspension, if the Detweiler departure is still being kept a mystery, and if a suspected graffitist has been identified - but no action nor comment by superintendent is occurring on any of these issues - then what is the school committee waiting for?

If the Bulletin/Gazette feels none of these stories are worth following, they misjudge their readership.

Anonymous said...

So now we're talking about "unconscious racism" and "we will never be colorblind". I just don't know where this takes us as a town.

Rick, I appreciate that you've bared your soul here. But, when you attempt, as an elected official, to generalize your own regrets and misgivings to the rest of us, I feel like I've walked into something about as concrete as what was prosecuted in the Salem Witch Trials.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! What a mess this formerly progressive-thinking community turned into. Sounds a bit like we're turning into Lord of the Flies. I'm glad my kids graduated years ago. All I have to worry about now is surviving my property taxes.

Anonymous said...

Robert Detweiler, Amherst school financial officer on paid administrative leave for more than 3 month without explanation from school. Only in the republic of amherst! What happened to him? Why Maria Geryk kept a tight lip on this issue? As a financial officer, does Robert Detweiler knows too much dirty laundry, if not skeleton, in the closet? Does the guy know too much? Does he hold the balls of the school system, and can demand compensation beyond reasonable timeline? Maria Geryk could be directly responsible. What does school administrators try to hide? Amherst taxpayers demand transparency and accountability!

Anonymous said...

Oh give it a rest Anon 11:18. How many times are you going to say the same thing. We get it, you don't like Maria Geryk. You want Amherst schools to be private. Why don't you just take your kids out and go to your private high class schools already where they can take calculus in like the 4th grade or something.

Anonymous said...

Query - Does the quoted $17K figure per child include SPED costs rolled into the number? Anyone know?
The reason I ask is that some SPED students cost the district a heck of a lot more money than 17K. If they are in an out of district placement they can cost the school district tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year per student.
So, anyone know if the 17K figure includes our SPED costs?

Anonymous said...

Rick Hood talks about all the white faces in town meeting. He does know, I hope, that town meeting members basically self select whether they want to run or not...it only takes one signature to get on the ballot. If there are not more minorities on Town Meeting it is because they are not running for town meeting. Not because anyone told them they could not be on Town Meeting because of the color of their skin.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:15 pm

I think that Rick just wants us to wonder: how come there are no, or very few, people of color in Town Meeting?

Is it something I said?
Is it something I failed to say?
Is it something I said in the wrong tone?
Is it something someone else said, or failed to say?
Is it perhaps because people of color have better things to do with their time?
Is it perhaps because people of color don't know how important it is?
Is it perhaps because people of color know that it doesn't make any difference?
Is there anything we can do to make more people of color run for Town Meeting?
Are we unwelcoming to people of color?
Come to think of it, what the hell am I doing here in Town Meeting?

Anon 12:15 pm, do you see how productive this kind of thinking is?

Anonymous said...

Tuition at the Common School is $15K, $15-22 at Bement School. What is per pupil at Chinese Charter?

Anonymous said...

What's the story with the new administrative position being added at the high school?

Anonymous said...

under Article 12 of the Town Meting Warrant. Any Town Meeting Member can move to lower the amount appropriated by the dollar amount of the salary (total) of Maria Geryk (and selected other administrators). The Town Meeting Member who makes the motion can have someone else “speak to” (make the case for) the motion.

Someone needs to research what the potential salary-total appropriation reduction amount should be. (If there’s suspicion that Rob Detweiler is being paid “hush money” to keep something secret, his salary could be included in the total, so as to encourage his speaking up.)

Others who also wish to make the case for the motion could contact the Town Meeting Moderator in advance. This includes taxpayers and parents who are not Town Meeting Members.

As I recall, the higher appropriation amount is voted first (with the lower amount not getting voted on if the higher amount attains a majority). But the Moderator would likely not entertain a motion to “call the question” (end debate) if there’s a queue of people waiting to speak on the amendment.

It should be easy to find a Town Meeting Member to make a motion to amend the appropriation.

Anonymous said...

Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School is a public school that charges no tuition. It is funded by the Commonwealth just like every public school in Massachusetts.

Anonymous said...

State High School Rankings:

Hopkins Academy is 36th in the state

Amherst Regional is 51...

Mark Prince's latest employer (Framingham) is 25th


Anonymous said...

When public office cannot do a good job. Privatization follows. This happens on national level, as well as town level.

Partially privatizing the Regional school could be a push in the right direction.
1. Reduce annual school budget. Reduce the waste that goes with it.
2. Put capable people in charge of school.
3. Put some education funding to family with children and empower the family to use it to enrich, broaden their children's education.
4. Reduce the overall school budget, and release some burden from property tax payers.

Hadley school can do it, Amherst can do it, too.

Anonymous said...

Anon 931:
About 50% of the Amherst school children are on free or reduced lunch. How many in Hadley are on free or reduced lunch? These kids require more services than others. If we do as you suggest, send money to the families, how will these kids parents access the kinds of things you talk about. Many of them don't even have cars. How will they get to all these places that will broaden their education? Your posts suggest you have no clue about the reality of these kids lives. I'm willing to bet there are a large group of these kids whose parents don't even speak English.
You don't know what you are talking about. Take your kids out and send them to the private school you so obviously crave. But don't try to comment on things you clearly have no clue about.

Anonymous said...


Food for thought. So I better understand your believe on racism / prejudice now. You believe that we all collectively have some sort of prejudice even if we don't realize it and we may act accordingly without realizing it.

Take that belief, which I think is shared by others within the schools, and teach it to the children. I believe this is and has been happening. How can a grade school or middle school child hear this argument / belief and not end up with some kind of low self esteem or anxiety. You are prejudice even if your actions don't show it.

I think this is happening to many of the kids in the schools and for some it creates a sense of authoritative hypocrisy.

This system is not working as the years at Amherst have proven. The schools need to stop the touchy feely stuff and get back to honest hard work in each subject area. Let social studies teach about racism,as it did for many of us when I was in school. The kids can figure the rest out for themselves.

It seems clear to me that this agenda is more about hubris than necessity. Even if the do gooders don't realize it

Anonymous said...

I'm still wondering how dozens of school teachers and administrators feel about having their life's work impugned by a School Committee member as "institutional racism". There are teachers who have been there for decades. They undoubtedly have committed themselves to treating all children, and their parents, with respect.

Now Mr. Hood gets in the paper and says "Well, you can't help yourself." There ought to be some respectful push-back on that assertion, but he knows that's not going to happen publicly, other than on this blog.

It's a cheap shot against the dedicated work of dozens of public servants.

Anonymous said...

I guess if kids are poor or minority that the can't learn as much?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:36,

Lets run some numbers. So first the assumptions. 50% of kids are free and reduced lunch and need extra help. I figure there are some well adjusted poor kids doing well and some wealthy kids who need extra help to balance the equation.

Now the cost in round numbers (2012) to educate in AMRS is $18K and $11K in Hadley. Now if we assume of the 1545 kids in Amherst 1/2 are easy and half need help. That means that the ones who need help would be 772 (rounded down). Now if we take total number of kids 1545 times the 7K more than we spend over Hadley we get 10.8 Million dollars or $14K per student who needs special help.

So the real problem for me, and many others, is not the extra 10.8 Million or $14K more per student it is the fact that after spending that money we still fail those kids (look at subgroups in MCAS) and still have, according to Rick institution racism, adding more programs without solving problems, kids are leaving faster than the population is declining, and adding more expensive administrators.

All the while the SC is spending time debating racism that is inherent in each of us that we do not understand.

So I ask you, what should we really be focusing on?

Anonymous said...

the sad thing is anon@3:34 is that students that need extra help (that aren't SPED) can expect, and indeed do not get, ANY extra help. It just isn't there- zip, zero, shit-out-of-luck.

Anonymous said...

Because of this "R" word that won't go away, it's evident that a certain teacher (who's name I won't mention because it's already been mentioned around town ad nauseum) will never get a fair evaluation of her performance because she's allegedly such a "victim" of the "R" word. In other words, she's got it made. This may have been the best thing to happen to her professionally.

Dr. Ed said...

I still want to know why this particular teacher left what apparently was a tenured position in Northampton to become a probationary employee in Amherst.

Absent the pay loss issue, that would be like an APD Lieutenant turning in his badge so he could go be a probationary rookie patrolman for the UMPD -- a rather stupid career move, unless he had some other reasons for doing it...

Remember, it's not like higher ed where you can (and often will)get hired with tenure -- in K-12 you must start without it even if you had it somewhere else.

Why did she leave Northampton???

Nina Koch said...

It's not at all uncommon for a teacher to move to another district. There have been quite a few teachers moving among Amherst, Northampton, Easthampton and other local districts. It's simply not a big deal, and people do it for a variety of reasons. No need for boldface type, hyperpunctuation, or unsubstantiated innuendo.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:08 PM, Anon 10:36 AM

You seems to be agitated by the idea of potential reduction of school funding and taxpayers' demand of transparency and accountability from school admin.

Do you agree Amherst school is very expensive, and has performance issues? You are free to contribute ideas to fix the problems in this blog.

Anonymous said...

I am not at all agitated about any of those things you say I am. I just think you don't have a clue about what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

The ARPS administration’s recent spate of bad decisions and policies show how out of their depth they are.
One of the most glaring recent ones is the situation with Finance Director Robert Detweiler. When he was placed on leave his duties went to HR Director Kathryn Mazur's direct report, the Assistant Business Office Director. HR overseeing Finance? WTF? Did Robert Detweiler report to Mazur before he was relieved of duties? Unlikely but this is Amherst. If not, it's even worse because, for starters, Mazur isn't qualified to oversee the multi-million dollar ARPS budget for which she is now ultimately responsible. The fact that the administration waited until after he had submitted the budgets to place him on leave suggests as much.
The commingling of Finance and HR should be troubling. The administration did bring in a retired ARPS Finance Director to fill-in as needed. And who do you think oversees his work? Don’t be surprised to see this setup continue for a surprisingly long period of time or to find the administration selling it as ‘a creative cost saving measure in a time of extremely limited resources.’ Who hires the Human Resources Director? And to whom does she report? Is the answer to either of those questions is the School Committee?
The Robert Detweiler situation is one of many that needs more sunlight and FOIA attention. He was one of, if not the only, high-level administrator whose tenure began before the Maria Geryk era. Like many others he was likely bought out and signed away his ability to say anything publicly. Standard ARPS MO ensued - foot dragging and selective compliance with state ordered disclosures that Larry continues to pursue - to our collective benefit.
You can now count on one hand the number of key ARPS administrative people and principals who were hired before Maria Geryk became superintendent. And if you know those names you know they like things just the way things are.
The current School Committee is not providing the necessary oversight in the Detweiler situation. And they’re doing that same level of work on many others that need close examination. In the short term the best we can hope for is that the legal proceedings stemming from ARPS’ mismanagement of the Facebook post/bullying incident brings an independent investigator. But even that’s no guarantee of full disclosure or – be still my heart - wholesale house cleaning. The ARPS administration is well versed in covering themselves.

Anonymous said...

I needed two hands to count the current number of "key" arps administrators and principals who were hired before MG became chief. (Sorry if that fact doesn't fit your narrative!)

Anonymous said...

We have different definitions of the word 'key' ;)

Anonymous said...

Then maybe you ought to name the principals and administrators who were hired before MG became chief who you don't consider to be "key".

Anonymous said...

You’ll need better bait than that. How about some anonymous insider "narrative" on the Detweiler situation from your “key” perspective?

Anonymous said...

I had no idea there is even a Detweiler "situation" to talk about.

Anonymous said...

Make sure your dust mask is secured as you hold up your corner of the rug.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered asking or asked Detweiler himself why he was fired?