Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Terrorists Win

Targeted teacher of color Carolyn Gardner -- the victim of numerous anonymous racial incidents since last October -- will not return to teach in the Amherst Regional Public School system for the rest of the school year Principal Mark Jackson announced to the entire High School student body over the public address system on Friday.

The last straw appears to have been the incident on Wednesday, when yet another anonymous note was discovered in the library with a threat about bringing a weapon into school, and the perp signed the note "Carolyn Gardner."  Amherst police determined the threat not to be "credible."

Since the anonymous notes and graffiti have been discovered in rest rooms of both genders it would appear there are multiple offenders, possibly copy cats simply wishing to get a day off from school -- especially now that the weather is nice.

I'm told students reaction was not one of anger or even excitement, but more of a somber "disappointment and shame."  Because the school system -- and the entire town -- had lost.

To a Cowardly Anon Nitwit, otherwise known as a Troll.

Only makes you wonder, who's next?


Tom Porter said...

What a sad and very troubling development.

Prior to this news, the local paper's most recent coverage refers to an investigation that goes on, and is now focusing an a subset of students.

Who is conducting that investigation (school, APD?) and will facts and outcomes be shared, or sealed as in the case of the bullying of Dylan Akalis?

Larry Kelley said...

When it comes to the Amherst schools little to nothing is shared (at least not voluntarily).

Anonymous said...

In the 90s ARHS endured a long string of bomb threats that got kids out school. When they finally caught the little shite head who was causing this trouble the authorities came down hard on him and guess what, the bomb threats stopped.

The other little darlings saw that the big people got real tired of it and some of them had the courage to hold the kid accountable.

Now we all know that if they catch some middle to upper middle class white girl for threatening Ms. G, that a simple please dontdo that again will be all she gets. After all aren't we supposed to be teaching the children?

I'd line to suggest a severe penalty to show all the highly intelligent children of Amherst Pelham Leverett
and shutesbury that the big people need to get back to educating the next generation.

And then we give everyone a trophy!

Anonymous said...

What's the $$$ arrangement with the teacher? Still on payroll? Who's teaching those students now?

Nina Koch said...

It's a significant loss for us. Last Thursday, the math department was meeting to look at new curricular materials and we really missed Ms. Gardner's contributions to our discussion.

You chose to be their victims said...


Not so fast.

"If your membership began on or after January 1, 1978 and you are a member of Group 1 or Group 2, you must have at least ten years of creditable service, and be
age 55 or older to be eligible to receive a retirement allowance. If such a member terminates their employment prior to completing ten years of creditable service,
eligibility for benefits is limited to a refund of accumulated deductions. A superan­
nuation retirement allowance would not be payable."

Sorry Bobby, war is hell.

(enjoy your vacation)

-Squeaky Squeaks

Anonymous said...

What about another alternative: taking slight security precautions without announcing them to the public and the school? If there is no ripple from these notes, no perceptible alteration in school routine, no lock-down, no cancellation of school, then the thrill is gone, maybe?

This was a kid, or group of kids, with very little to lose, apparently.

Anonymous said...

Not clear: has the teacher resigned door good, or simply not returning this year (inferred from Jackson's statement)?

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, there are three reasons why I think it is premature for you to say that "the terrorists won."

First, they don't win if they wind up going to jail. I also suspect that any college admissions officer or potential employer wouldn't think too highly of something like this, and neither FERPA nor their age would protect them here.

They will want to "show off" -- they will brag about it, such people inherently do, and someone is going to brag to the wrong person. Then it will be a question of what, if anything, the "grownups" are willing to do about it -- particularly depending on whose children the perps turn out to be.

The MTA never ceases to disappoint me, but this is where a union traditionally offers a reward and $5-$10K is an awful lot of money to a high school student.

Second, and Larry you need to ask this, what are the financial arrangements relative to her departure? Is she (a) just quitting with all pay/benefits terminating now, (b) being paid through the end of her contract (i.e. year), (c) getting some cash settlement or (d) is it a matter "in litigation"?

Team Maria might not like it, but this is a matter of public record and depending on what the facts are, might prove insightful.

Third, this is Amherst circa 2014 and not Selma circa 1964 -- was Gardner REALLY the only non-White teacher in the building? Is Oh-So-Politically-Correct Amherst REALLY a bastion of openly-expressed racial hatred? If it is, then the word is "hypocrisy", and if it isn't, then why just her?

The intellectually honest person must thus investigate all possibilities -- and two that I don't want to think of are that (a) Carolyn Gardner may have been used a a pawn by those who benefit from the perception that racism exists in the ARHS, or (b) that Gardner perpetrated the whole thing herself - for whatever reason(s).

(As an aside, I remember reading once that the vast majority of employees who extinguish burning trash barrels are the very same employees who lit them on fire in the first place -- often employees whose jobs are in jeopardy for other reasons and who wish to appear to be a hero in the eyes of management.)

In the first situation, Gardner very much is a victim -- but not of the people she thinks she is. UMass did something quite similar to me, and yes Nina, I'm quite angry about it -- you would be too if it had happened to you.

The details will be in my book and hence not here. Let me just say that some of the very people whom I believed to be helping me were actually sabotaging me at every turn. Only by impeding my academic success and otherwise making my life difficult did I need the assistance that they then provided (such as it was) -- and in doing so they thus justified their offices, budgets & jobs.

They had to create the need in order to meet it -- and hence did.

They didn't want me to actually get my doctorate (that is why I use the "Dr." title) instead it was hoped that I not only would fail but fail so spectacularly that their budgets would be increased as a result.

One has to ask if that is what really happened to Carolyn Gardner -- and one must ask "who benefits" and "how" -- and will there not be a call to address the racism in the school after this?

Larry, I think it is a bit premature to say that the terrorists won when we neither know exactly who they were nor that they have actually gotten away with this.

Larry Kelley said...

As of now: Not returning THIS year.

Status for September: unknown.

Anonymous said...

If your membership began on or after January 1, 1978 and you are a member of Group 1 or Group 2, you must have at least ten years of creditable service,

I believe you are "something" after five years -- and it is the one day in the calendar year deal -- so she has two years from Amherst and whatever she has from Hamp.

Anonymous said...

Ed, thank you for once again this whole thing is really about you. Don't be fooled, Ed. All news is really about you if you figu,re out the secret code.

Anonymous said...

The useful point Ed raises is that, in this whole deplorable tale that we all feel betrayed and upset by, there are actually a few actors who benefit by the conflagration. Mary Custard and the race hustlers come to mind.

Dr. Ed said...

"... there are actually a few actors who benefit by the conflagration. Mary Custard and the race hustlers come to mind."

It sorta makes it difficult to hold Custard (and others) accountable for what happened to Dylan, doesn't it? Both Custard and I believe a certain Guidance Counselor could have potentially been looking at some professional misconduct issues, things which will never ever be raised now.

The other thing I'm wondering is to what extent did those who very much benefit from the outcome, and whose other potentially career-ending problems have just vanished, sought exacerbate the situation or at least not help it.

I gave a personal example to legitimize the possibility that they may have maliciously caused Gardner's grief as a possibility. But there is also the lesser extreme of not interfering with fortuitous circumstances, of not helping Gardner as much as they could have, knowing that her departure would greatly benefit them personally.

And it's a hell of a lot easier to decry racism than to teach subject matter -- that is reality.

Gardner's concerns included her colleagues -- not the students but the staff -- and that's what really has me wondering....

Anonymous said...

No one's going to jail for this.....ever.

Anonymous said...

Are any other local area schools filled with as much drama as Amherst?

The end of the empire said...

Don't be so sure.

Now, if Robby is allowed to get to 10 years of service, Robby rakes in around 20K/yr.

Not too shabby. Especially if he lives another 20 years.

A few things:

"Members-in-service become members-inactive when they:

•retire and receive a retirement allowance; or
•when their employment has been terminated and they are entitled to any present
or potential retirement allowance or a return of accumulated deductions; or
•when they are on an authorized leave of absence without pay for a reason other than retirement board duties which extends for more than a year; or
•upon the expiration of their term if they are elected officials who are not reelected."

"If you are actively employed or on leave of absence, you can apply to your retirement
board no earlier than 4 months before your intended date of retirement. Members
of Groups 1, 2, and 4 must file a written retirement application with their respective
employer, in addition to the form filed with their retirement board."

Most importantly:

"You will forfeit your retirement allowance if your retirement board, after a hearing,
finds that you have misappropriated funds or property of the governmental unit by
which you are or were employed. Your right and your beneficiary’s right to receive
monthly benefits, or simply a refund of your accumulated deductions, is forfeited to
the extent of the amount so misappropriated and to the extent of the costs of investi­gation, if any, as found by the board."


1. Why are they compensating him this way?

2. What percentage of 20K comes directly out of the pockets of tax-payers?

3. Are they in flagrant violation of the law (i.e conspiracy etc)?

-Squeaky Squeaks

Anonymous said...

Other school systems with as much drama?

How soon they forget......South Hadley? Think back.

Anonymous said...

A useful question now is:

Just how much did all this drama detract, if at all, from the High School's mission to educate kids this year?

Nina's a reliable source on this point.

Nina Koch said...

I can't speak for the school as a whole. Speaking for myself, I feel a strong sense of disappointment, especially when I think back to how optimistic I felt back in September. I don't know if I am carrying that into the classroom or not. I think it may come up more in meetings with adults. When I walk into E period class, I still feel excited about computer programming. I love watching the kids figuring things out and coming up with new ideas. That hasn't changed.

When Mark Jackson was talking to us last week, he encouraged us not to forget about some of the good things that are happening. He pointed out an exhibit on body image that is currently posted outside the auditorium. I took his advice and I was glad I did. The exhibit shows kids being thoughtful and creative about an important issue. To me, that's part of our core.

So, that's what I have to offer on this question.

Anonymous said...

Nina's a reliable source on this point.


The relevant question is not what she thinks the students are learning, nor what the students themselves think they are learning, but what they actually are learning.

Tom Porter said...

Nina, I appreciate your point of view. It is one view and subjective of course, still valuable and all the more so because there is such meager flow of information from the school administration. Thank you for sharing your honest opinion with us. I appreciate and am not surprised by Principal Jackson's needing to give faculty a pep talk, and by his stepping forward to do so. I imagine most of the adults in the building are likewise doing all they can to keep the focus where it should be for the students' benefit.

Anonymous said...

I heard that last week, Mark Jackson and crew walked into Ms. Gardner's math class (Honors Alg 2) and told them that the staff/admin realize that this class needs to take a different final than the others (because of all the disruptions with their teacher gone, and them having a student teacher and subs). This means that they have not covered all the topics they should cover - and will be moving on into the rest of HS math with gaps in their learning. Sure, a different final will make it so that their grade isn't too bad this trimester - but how do you make up a gap in math? Once these kids move on, will the admin/math staff be tracking who had a gap and of specifically what topics?

Anonymous said...

Watch Amherst School drama unfold one after another. Remember not long ago, Maria Geryk declared discipline has no place in our school and She will work to eliminate it in the future? That probably has a feel-good effect at the time. When incidents happens one after another, the public has the perception that the administrators have treated school bullies, and racial tensions unfairly, or inconsistently. Policy drives behavior. Think back. Are we totally surprised by this drama? Has Maria Geryk's policy failed our students?

Anonymous said...

Anon: 11:01

I missed that, when did Maria Geryk declare discipline has not place in our schools?

Anonymous said...

Larry, why equate this situation with terrorism? Doesn't even seem close.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:31pm
I missed that, when did Maria Geryk has not (sic) place in our schools?


Anonymous said...

Wow! So suspensions and discipline are now on a "quota" basis?. When do we get the report on how the administration is "closing the discipline gap"? Three minority students bullied a white student and one suspension was given - to the white student. Did this even it up?

Probably heresy to ask, but this discipline gap in the Amherst schools: how closely does it track with any corresponding behavior gap?

Anonymous said...

I think the idea is that the punishments meted out to kids of color are so out of whack (just like sentencing) that they want to go by the numbers to stop unconscious bias. The numbers are out of whack everywhere, even in preschools.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:11, then your premise is all students misbehave equally. If you're right, then clearly we have some really racist teachers and administrators making those judgments.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:11, then your premise is all students misbehave equally. If you're right, then clearly we have some really racist teachers and administrators making those judgments.

Anonymous said...

Even the achievement gap are NARROWED in the wrong way.

At the beginning of the fall 2013, Rhonda Cohen, Director of teaching and learning, Ian Stith, K-8 Math/Science Coordinator, are promoting that fake education equity model.

When parents complained that 7th graders are doing 4th Math every day. 7th graders told their parents that, one day, Ian Stith went into their math classroom, and told middle school kids something like this,

I know you guys are bored, and not learning new things you want to learn. BUT, there are other kids who doesn't even know this stuff. We have to wait until everybody is ready, then move forward.

Wola, by selective suppression, "achievement gap" problem is solved!

We have heard many middle school kids are discouraged in learning Math in Amherst Middle School. Some started to feel guilty of having learned something more than other kids.

Learning is no longer is simple, joyful, lighthearted, and fun thing to do, but saddled with political correctness, guilty, heavy, and burdensome psychological complications.

The dark age of k-12 education in Amherst under Team Maria.

Anonymous said...

-Squeaky Squeaks

May 18, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Wow, reading that comment and seeing the info/facts provided is mind blowing to say the least!
It would indeed be the biggest sack of BS to allow R. Detweiler to rake in this dough (ahem, corrupt payout).. if only all us could find jobs working there and wait for the golden worm to dangle in front of us bc we don't fit in their tight circle of secrets!

Nina Koch said...

, Maria Geryk declared discipline has no place in our school

This statement is false. She never said that. Maybe you are equating discipline with suspension. Suspension is simply one possible tool of discipline.

According to the Amherst Bulletin article linked above:

"she hopes to nearly eliminate students' suspension as a punishment in favor of more effective methods of classroom control. "

Here is the correct equation:
effective methods of classroom control = discipline

Nina Koch said...

to 11:01--

I believe your report is also false. To my knowledge, all of the Honors Algebra 2 classes are learning the same topics and taking the same tests. I just heard the department head say that today at lunch. There is a standard packet of materials, and all classes use the same packets. I didn't hear anything about the final exam specifically, but I would assume it's the same if all of the unit tests are the same.

It's possible that the student who reported that to you misunderstood something of what was said. All parents of students in the course should have received an email from the department head about what's happening.

Anonymous said...

"she hopes to nearly eliminate students' suspension as a punishment in favor of more effective methods of classroom control. "

After saying this -a bullied student gets 12 days of suspension (and his Dad gets punished too!)

ARHS is a punishing environment

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Mark Jackson didn't get the memo.

Dr. Ed said...

Maybe you are equating discipline with suspension. Suspension is simply one possible tool of discipline.

Yes, Nina, but it's also a damn important one. At least if you are trying to teach...

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the suspension was for publishing a dangerous threat on FB that was backed up by easy access to a weapon.

Responding to:
> May 19, 2014 at 8:58 PM
> After saying this -a bullied student gets 12 days of suspension (and his Dad gets punished too!)

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the suspension was for publishing a dangerous threat on FB that was backed up by easy access to a weapon.

"Threat" has a specific legal definition in such circumstances, and I notice that the authorities did NOT prosecute it as such. Hence, ummm, I'm guessing that....

And "easy access" to a properly secured weapon? What's he gonna do, take the entire gun case to school and scare people by -- by threatening to throw it at them?

A properly secured weapon can not be fired until un-secured (unlocked) and unless you are alleging he had a key to do this with (which I doubt) then, how the hell did he have "easy access to a weapon"?!?

Nina Koch said...

Just to follow up on yesterday's statement about the Algebra 2 Honors class: Ms. Gardner's class is in fact taking the same final exam as the other students in Algebra 2 Honors. When Mr. Jackson and Ms. Mudie visited the class last week, they were referring to the final exam for the one senior in the class. Seniors finish early and their exams occur next week.

This is a good example of how communication problems can occur.

Dr. Ed said...

Algebra 2 Honors class

Since when does a first-year teacher get to teach the honors classes? That's like a rookie cop starting on the day shift, it doesn't happen.

First year teachers get the remedial classes. That's how it works -- at least that's how it works when all the teachers are treated equally...