Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Occupy School Committee


40-50 people attended tonight's Regional School Committee meeting 

So just to give you a brief idea of how tonight Regional School Committee meeting went I give you the start of the "public comment" period where newly elected RSC Chair Lawrence O'Brien went back to a policy of only 15 minutes total with 3 minutes assigned to each of five speakers.

 Two very large doomsday clocks counted down the three minutes

That did not go over very well.  At all. 

video

The Public  Comment period started at 7:20 PM and the "15 minutes" ended at 8:00 PM, when the Committee retreated into Executive Session but will come out in the next hour or so.  Maybe.

video


video

S
Vera Douangmany with 20 supporters addresses committee for 3 minutes

Sonji Johnson-Anderson:  "One of our own suffered great harm this year ..."

9:30 PM Activists got tired of waiting for the School Committee to come out of Executive Session so they arranged chairs in a circle and started their own "Democratic Community Gathering" in the back of the room.


38 comments:

Anonymous said...

The problem, Larry, is that all those wanting to speak for the "democratic system" are the same folks that are fine with the suspension and firing of members of the Akalis family.

And, there's the rub...

You've got people like yourself and your followers decrying the overly "politically correct" nature of our school system, and these folks--who will never, ever, under any administration, attain the level of political correctness they're striving for.

So how is the administration supposed to strike a meaningful and effective balance?

Seems impossible to me.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Obrien where have you been. He will save Amherst and the other towns from further decay. This guy is awesome. First he creates a situation that reduces the voice of the people who elected the SC and then sends a great FU by going into executive session at the beginning of a meeting so all those pesky residents give up and go home.

O'brien, my new savor for all the finest qualities of Amherst, hypocrisy and the transparency of an unlit cave. Way to go. (note lots of sarcasm intended)

Anonymous said...

Ok. These folks are just plain disrespectful and disruptive. Singing at the end of the meeting and disrupting it. As a community member I have had it. I want my SC to be doing the work I elected them to do. And that does not include spending an hour or more listening to community members that were not elected. I want the SC members to be doing the work of the committee to better our schools. Next time folks disrupt the meeting they should be escorted out by the police. People in this town have a right to have a SC who can do their work.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone run for office in Amherst?

By virtue of simply being elected, one immediately becomes the enemy to some people.

Who needs that?

Knock knock? said...

Man,

I wish I could'a been there!


Hey wait,

that gives me an idea.




-Squeaky Squeaks

Dr. Ed said...

I say again -- ten signatures, special town meeting, threaten to cut off ALL funding -- there is a way to deal with this...

Anonymous said...

Larry,

What were all the activist in the room there to discuss with the SC? That is a large group to attend an SC meeting.

Anonymous said...

Not a surprise that the SC went into an Executive Session. That is what they do when they can't handle the comments. That is what they do when they know they can't answer questions and when they are scared. They hide behind closed doors and make deals that no one will ever really know about. They use it way too much when they aren't getting their own way.

Anonymous said...

Anon 541. The Executive session was scheduled way before the SC meeting started. They are not running from anything. I thought Mr. O'Brien did a superb job running the meeting last night. These meetings are working meetings and not public forums. The SC has an incredible amount of work to accomplish at each and every meeting. It is not reasonable to ask our expect that public comment go on for over an hour at each and every meeting. I have observed SC meetings on a regular basis for many decades and 15 minutes has been the norm during that time. These people acted like spoiled little children when they were told they could not have their way - they threw a tantrum. And the SC should do what parents the world over do when children throw tantrums - ignore them until they can behave in a a civil way.

Anonymous said...

Near the very end of the meeting Kathleen Anderson can be heard interrupting speakers on the board in mid-sentence by yelling "white power" from the audience.

Another stood up during public comment and said that their group plans to address perceived issues of inequity "by any means necessary"...I guess the means they've come up with so far is behaving like insolent children at public meetings.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why Vera Douangmany was crying when she approached the board to speak during public comment?

Anonymous said...

She was crying only for the effect.

Anonymous said...

Larry, these videos are gold. Any way you can post all the comments?

Larry Kelley said...

Still sorting through them.

Working on a couple updates from that meeting.

Anonymous said...

This makes those pesky ACE people who wanted better schools seem reasonable. Anyone miss the good old days when people wanted better math curriculum or biology back in the 9th grade? To think so many were all up in arms about that. To hear the current speakers the schools are run by a bunch of racist thugs.

As for Anon 10:32, The school committee has not really done anything but rubber stamp for years. Anyone who doesn't fall in line was discredited, bullied, and left. The administration and the SC does not represent the people well. The town is fractured into different groups. Both the administration and the SC are reaping what they have sown. Create an atmosphere of disrespect, hypocrisy and distrust and sooner or later a vocal minority will stand up against you. This just happens to be one of those vocal minorities, deserved or not. This one unlike ACE appears to be mad as hell and they are not going to take it anymore. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Just shows they couldn't get organized enough to have 5 people each use 3 minutes efficiently. Figure out what your point is, then make it instead of wasting everyones time ranting about whats already been said.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lunatic Ed,
Threaten to cut off all funding? For what? The schools? Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

Hey, look, Masslive just posted an article, "Amherst in need of people to fill vacancies on myriad boards, committees"

I WONDER WHY.

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/amherst_in_need_of_people_to_f.html#incart_river_default

Anonymous said...

Weren't several of these SC members elected to disinfect the School Committee from the incivility caused by prior members? So do we think that Sanderson, Rivkin et al would have been rude to these parents? Current SC members have been running against prior Amherst School Committees for years. When will that end?

Be careful what you wish for. When that parent spoke about all the sub-groups that did not "meet target", my guess is that prior members would not have brushed her off. That complaint was right in the Sanderson wheelhouse.

What did the former superintendent say about complacency about education in Amherst?

It's a great school system, but not great enough to get better and to respond to complaints about its performance.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was interesting that the woman who read off those MCAS subgroup numbers last night was railing against MCAS at the last meeting. Either MCAS is legitimate tool or it isn't. You can't have it both ways. Low subgroup numbers don't necessarily mean those groups know less. It probably means the test has a built in bias. And lastly, everyone knows there is and has been an achievement gap. Ms Geryk has instituted many programs to tackle the problem but you are not going to see results overnight.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed was almost right when he wrote
>>Well, you could always play hardball. Call a special town meeting and amend Team Maria's allocation to "zero dollars>"
>>I *believe* that would put the district into DECE receivership -- there would still be schools as it is a state mandate, all this would really do is get rid of Team Maria.
>>What the schmucks don't realize is that you have the power of the purse and even THREATENING TO yank the funding would be a forum much bigger than the one they denied you tonight.
http://onlyintherepublicofamherst.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-singular-achievement.html?showComment=1403655429578#c7018033973507263251

Ten is the number of signatures needed to bring a Petition Article to Annual Town Meeting (in the spring).
The number of signatures needed to bring a Petition Article to Special Town Meetings at other times is at least a hundred.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone thought about what would happen if Maria left? Can you imagine the quality of the candidates we would get to replace her? No one would want this job. The schools would be set adrift with a long period of interim superintendents. Who in their right mind would want to be superintendent of the Amherst schools?

Anonymous said...

There is a failure of leadership from Ms. Geryk, and a School Committee that protects her instead of admitting their mistakes. Everything from the so-called "nut ban" to dealing with issues of racism in the High School have been flubbed by the administration this year. It's time for a change.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with you Anon 926.

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced that there is a lot of racism in the high school. Just because some very angry people says there is does not make it so. There are 2 sides to every story.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 7:43,

You sound like you are spreading fear, oh, imagine is Maria Geryk left us. We would be lost. The reality is in both of the last rounds of searches for superintendents we have had some amazing candidates.

The guy from Connecticut (Sklarz?) who lost to ARod was heavily favored by the parents but feared by the teachers and staff. He had good proven ideas on how to reduce cost and educate low income kids. The likes of Mazur knew she would potentially be tossed out. SC members were influenced by staff to drop him and pic the unqualified minority.

Even ARod saw what was going on in Amherst and was looking to cut staff so he got pushed out.

Without any public input or warning the SC lead by Farshid put Maria in place knowing full well she would put in for the position.

The consultants told us that you never, never, never put a person in that job as an interim, if they are going to seek the job. It reduces the pool and the insider always gets the job, regardless of qualifications. Maria was clearly the least qualified but the most popular with lots of local contacts.

Maybe those crazy people are right and white power is keeping control for itself. All I know is the system is currently rigged and costs are going out of control. Tax bills are really going to suck in 10 years.

Anonymous said...

The ACE folks are looking mighty constructive right about now. They wrote substantive columns for the Bulletin detailing what they thought. They cared about the schools and explained how they thought they could be better. One member had a popular blog that allowed people to speak out.

Instead you chose to trash them as badly behaved in a dysfunctional system of governance. Several of you ran against them (and continue to run against them) claiming that you would do a better job.

So the stopper has come off the bottle again and now you face a new wave of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. And you're on your own.

Dr. Ed said...

Kathleen Anderson can be heard interrupting speakers on the board in mid-sentence by yelling "white power" from the audience.

Kathleen Anderson has joined the Klan? Stranger things have happened....

Anonymous said...

Is that Kip "I know better than you & you don't understand" Fonsch sitting in the audience looking rather humble. I wonder if he is enjoying the beast he help bring to life. It is clear he cares about the schools, but does not listen well. Enjoy the peace an tranquility you have brought upon the administration and your SC.

Anonymous said...

Laughingstock school committee, incompetent and corrupt school administration, non-performing teachers, and students pitted against each other over race. Is there a community organizer in the house ?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the school committee should set up some discussions with the many parents upset over issues of disparate discipline, the peristent achievement gap and racial and class discrimination. People are upset and don't feel listened to. These parents are not the only parents that have felt this way -- or the only ones angry when they are not listened to.

The set up of public comment at school committees, and a lot of committees, is not a set up to promote dialogue or exchange of information. It's inherently frustrating for everyone.

Anonymous said...

The set up of public comment at school committees, and a lot of committees, is not a set up to promote dialogue or exchange of information.

Exactly! You're starting to get it. School Committee meetings are working business meetings and the intent is not to engage in dialogue with constituents.

Sure, that would be convenient for people who have something they want to squawk about, and who want to be on the TV... and it is silly and fun to watch the few angry, disorganized, politically un-savvy residents who think it is their right to speak at sc meetings, who think it's their right to have everything they want given to them without having to work for it...

but that's not what the meeting is for.

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to read the editorial in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette about the public comment period, including the following: "School Committee members have ... taken steps, including forming a special task force to examine equity issues in the schools. On Tuesday, they should have embraced that conversation, rather than bullying it into silence."

Anonymous said...

The Gazette was WAY off base!

Anonymous said...

It is much easier for the bloggers here to criticize with degrading names and terms, the activists who spoke out at this meeting, then to face what is really happening in our schools. Children are not treated the same. The white, upper class, child has 100 per cent more of a chance to succeed with flying colors (no pun intended) than his nonwhite peer. It has been this way for many years now, too many years, and it needs to be addressed and stopped. The activists certainly are
"mad as hell and not going to take
it anymore." We need to not lose sight of respecting each other. And the comparison of this group and ACE is ridiculous. It's the same as comparing plums and
prunes! At any rate there are most certainly racist teachers--they exist--they're real. Only thing is now they cannot keep hiding behind a corrupt administration--a self-serving-self-promoting, administration. Maria's choice of Morris to become second in command is a gd joke! He was a first grade teacher years back, and he should have stayed in the classroom! He reminds me of a puppet with Maria being his puppeteer. It is a sham--and only just now--with our beloved activists' voices--all coming to light.

Anonymous said...

None of these activists have done a thing to help our schools. Quite the contrary. They are a very damaging force. The exodus from our schools will accelerate if this nonsense keeps up.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:13 pm Yes the activists have done plenty. They've sat with families being weighed down with 30 page packets describing in very minute details, using 15 syllable words to describe what is 'wrong' with their child during meetings with the top head administrators. They've gone to sc meetings to shed light on how one sided the curricula really is. It is, after all, almost propaganda to write only about the whites, mostly males, in our history, making them all out to be some sort of saviors--Howard Zinn tells us otherwise. They've gotten the middle school to stop using lunch time and food (delayed access of) in their punishments. How is this damaging?

Anonymous said...

Someone should explain to that first speaker that you don't need to employ "mic check" strategies when you are in a small room with about 30 people and you are the one holding the microphone and no one else is speaking.