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Student Protestors Meet The “Main Man”

by Melissa Bailey | Mar 30, 2011 7:17 am

(57) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools, School Reform

Melissa Bailey Photo “What do we want? Textbooks!”

“When do we want them? Now!”

Students marched that message from their high school to City Hall, as they took school reform off-script and ended up with a face-to-face meeting with the mayor.

The group assembled Tuesday afternoon to protest looming cuts to teaching and classroom resources in next year’s budget. They called for cutting administrators’ salaries instead.

The students from Wilbur Cross High School drew a battery of attention from police, media and authorities during the peaceful protest, which stretched out for five hours after school Tuesday. Their principal was not amused, and they were initially rebuffed at the mayor’s office. But they persisted and ended up getting a lesson from the “main man” they were looking for.

The protest began after the dismissal bell rang at Wilbur Cross High School. At the corner of Cold Spring and Orange streets, students were greeted by four police cruisers and two cops on motorcycles.

Sgt. Ricky Rodriguez, who’s in charge of the school-based police officers, said the cops were there for students’ safety in case the protest got big.

In the end, two dozen of the 1,200 students at Cross gathered for the march. 

Before a throng of reporters and observers, organizer Isaiah Lee, a junior at the school, outlined the group’s demands. He called for cutting “excessive spending” on administrators and making sure any budget cuts hit administrators as well as those lower down the totem pole, such as nurses and teachers. He called for “equal distribution” of cuts between administrators and teachers, and between administrators and resources like textbooks.

The protest comes in the wake of 42 layoffs in the city schools. The Board of Education may make another 70 layoffs by the end of the summer, depending on attrition, the state budget and whether the district can scape together outside funding, according to Mayor John DeStefano.

Lee said before the protest, schools Superintendent Reggie Mayo offered to schedule a meeting with the group. Members of the elected student council chose to pursue a private meeting with the superintendent instead of a public protest, he said. But Lee didn’t want to call off the event.

“These are politicians,” he explained. “They know how to brush things under the rug.”

While the students earned a respectful hearing from Mayor John DeStefano, their protest—advertised in flyers throughout the school—earned the brush-off and rebuke from their principal, Peggy Moore.

Moore, the head of the administrators’ union, at first said she didn’t want to comment.

“This is a group of students who have chosen to challenge what the Board of Ed and the superintendent is doing. And I don’t want to give credence to that,” she explained.

She then added that her students have the right to free speech, but “the students should have gone through the right channels to get the right data” on how much is spent on administrative versus other costs.

She added that she and her seven assistant principals often work 12-hour days.

“We don’t go home at 3 o’clock here,” Moore said. “Until you walk in my shoes, you can’t criticize me.”

Down the street from Moore’s office, Lee began passing out stenciled signs reading “Student Power,” provided with help from the New Haven People’s Center. That was the only help the student group got in planning the event, Lee said; the protest wasn’t affiliated with any political organization.

Jorge Seda, a junior, slipped a sign over his head, tethered with old shoe laces. He said students at Cross are not getting the resources they need. For example, he said, his American Vision textbook is out of date and the pages are scrawled with gang signs and pictures of genitalia.

The graffiti is a symbol of “lack of investment” in kids, he argued.

He followed Lee in a procession down the Orange Street sidewalk toward downtown.

Lee stepped off the curb and started chanting without first glancing at the traffic signal. A photographer urged the group to wait for the light. They did.

“When students’ rights are under attack, what do we do?” Lee shouted again as the group got safely moving.

“Stand up, fight back!” came the reply.

The two dozen students were accompanied by a half-dozen adult supporters from the activist groups Unidad Latina en Acción and Teach our Children.

As they processed down the sidewalk, four cop cars crept alongside. Two motorcycle cops stopped traffic at major intersections so the students could cross safely.

They walked at a swift clip through sunny East Rock, laying out demands.

“What do we want? Textbooks! When do we want them? Now!”

“What do we want? Social workers! When do we want them? Now!”

“They say cut back. We say fight back!” Lee called out to the group.

The chants unfolded along the way. “I’m going to keep doing this ‘til I can hear you, people!” Lee warned at one point when the response fell below expectations.

Like the chants, the exact nature and timing of the protest unfolded along the way in a haphazard fashion.

When they reached City Hall around 2:45 p.m., one group of students gathered on the Green. Lee and some others headed upstairs in search of the mayor.

At the mayor’s office, the student delegation was offered a meeting with Will Clark, the $146,016-a-year chief operating officer who wields considerable power over the school district, negotiating labor contracts and handling the budget.

The students declined the offer.

Standing on a picnic table on the Green, Lee (at left in photo) explained why.

“We want to talk to the main men,” Mayor John DeStefano and Superintendent Mayo, Lee said—not the mayor’s “lackeys.”

Lee declared he would wait until the mayor got back to his office.

As the students waited outside, Clark issued a rebuttal to reporters.

He suggested students were being misled as to the amount of money spent on school resources.

For example, the Wilbur Cross section of the new school budget proposal lists the school budget for textbooks as $60,300, slated to shrink to $26,541 next year.

Clark (pictured) said that may not reflect the real amount of money spent on books at Cross. That’s because the district is still transitioning to the new way of school-by-school budgeting, so certain expenditures are still listed in a centralized part of the budget. For example, Cross got 300 computers last year through a grant; purchases like that one may not be listed in the school-based budget.

“People are looking at that and assuming the wrong thing,” Clark said.

He added that textbooks are meant to provide the basis for a class, but teachers will supplement them with the Smartboard, printed articles or online resources. Plus, they’re not replaced on an annual basis, so the textbook expenditure isn’t annualized, Clark argued.

“I don’t think they’re appreciating the breadth of the supplies.”

The district spends $11.5 million on salaries for principals and assistant principals, according to the school budget.

Across the district, there are 37 central office staff making over $100,000. In addition to principals at 45 schools and programs, there are 49 assistant principals districtwide, all of whom make six figures.

Click here to view a list of assistant principals and central office staff in that category.

With a budget of $375 million, the number of administrators is not that high, Clark argued.

For example, he said, Cross has a $12 million budget and eight administrators, Principal Moore and seven assistant principals. Four assistant principals each run a “small learning community,” which is basically like running a school, Clark said. Another handles discipline. Another coordinates English; another is in charge of science and math.

“When you look at the number of staff, I don’t think those numbers are crazy,” Clark said.

One of Cross’s seven assistant principals, Sheila Williams, is being reassigned to John Martinez School next year, he added.

The district is still facing a $14.5 million budget gap for next year.

Clark said there would be more cuts—“and those cuts will need to be across the board.”

After Clark walked back to the Board of Education, the students made a second attempt to speak with the mayor at 5 p.m. A new group of students, some from Educational Center for the Arts, showed up and held a peaceful sit-in in the City Hall atrium.

At 5:10, Mayor DeStefano walked up the stairs to his office. He met with Lee and two fellow Cross students, sophomore Sophie Dillon and junior Jordan Moye. They sat down at the end of the mayor’s long conference table.

They sat down face to face with the mayor for almost an hour.

When he emerged around 6 p.m., Lee said he has a clear next step in the quest to cut administrators’ salaries. He’d like to push for a policy that when the city is facing budgetary troubles, administrators’ salaries would be cut. He said the DeStefano told him that the city can’t just cut administrators’ salaries; the city would have to reopen the administrators’ contract. DeStefano sent Lee to Clark for a lesson in labor law.

Lee said he intends to meet with Clark on the topic.

Then Lee talked tough: He said if the mayor fails to take any stance supporting teacher resources over administrative salaries, then “he isn’t fit to be running the city.”

Lee’s two counterparts said they disagree with that last statement. They said the mayor laid out the financial challenges the city’s facing and his argument that the cuts need to come from pension and health care plans.

Sophie Dillon called the meeting “very helpful.” “It was really great that he sat down with us.”

“He actually took the time to give us respect as young adults,” added Jordan Moye.

In a debriefing with reporters, DeStefano said he reminded the students that if they have complaints with their school, they can give their input to their elected student representatives and write on the district’s new school surveys.

But he called their questions “fair.”

“I think what they’re really interested in is how to make their schools effective learning environments” in a time of financial hardship, DeStefano said.

He said he recognizes the need to spread cuts across the board, but he has a different solution for doing that: “The way for everybody to do a little is on pensions and health care.”

DeStefano closed with a note of realism. Given the financial state of the city, “there’s going to be fewer teachers and fewer administrators” next year.

“We are not done sizing down,” he said.

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posted by: Jeffrey Kerekes on March 30, 2011  8:38am

Moore said “She then added that her students have the right to free speech, but “the students should have gone through the right channels to get the right data” on how much is spent on administrative versus other costs.”

Will Clark said “He suggested students were being misled as to the amount of money spent on school resources.”

What about the $17 Million in unapproved school construction costs discussed just the other day.  Thats on top of the 10s of millions in previously announced unapproved school construction costs.  This is money spent ABOVE AND BEYOND the school construction overrun budget.  It costs the city about $75,000 per year to finance each $1 million borrowed according to the controllers office.  That means this years budget has to spend $1.275 million this year on out of control and unapproved school construction costs—this is officially the amount of money the state said ‘hey, we didn’t agree to spend money on this’. This is beyond what the original agreement was for and the city spent it anyways.  This year’s budget would have $1.275 Million more for text books, custodians and other costs.

Our problems are well beyond the financial crisis in the news.  Its the choices our “leaders” are making that screwed things up.

posted by: They R Kidding on March 30, 2011  8:39am

What a novel idea, students needing text books. They can’t have been educated properly. What they really need are multi million dollar new schools that look like palaces. Three more on the way this year.

posted by: elmcityguy on March 30, 2011  9:02am

“While the students earned a respectful hearing from Mayor John DeStefano, their—advertised in flyers throughout the school—earned the brush-off and rebuke from their principal, Peggy Moore.

Moore, the head of the administrators’ union, at first said she ddidn’twant to comment.

“This is a group of students who have chosen to challenge what the Board of Ed and the superintendent is doing. And I don’t want to give credence to that,” she explained.”

Yep, that’s the Peggy Moore I grew to know during my daughter’s time at BRAMS. Criticism not allowed, conerns ignored, phone calls not returned, problems not dealt with, never wrong. Perhaps if she was willing to go to bat for the school, the students woudln’t have to take it into their own hands. Rather than being proud of them for wanting to improve her school, she “doesn’t give them any credence”. Nice lesson in simply shutting up and accepting mediocrity there.

I’m not a big fan of DeStefano these days, but he did the right thing in sitting down and listening to these students. People talk in these comments all the time about the problem youths in New Haven, and they are all around, but these kids are out there demanding a better education, for the tools to succeed, and he took them seriously rather than chastise them for daring to challenge the status quo as Ms. Moore did.

posted by: swatty on March 30, 2011  9:10am

here’s the fat that should be on the block:

ABATE, KATHLEEN SUPERVISOR SOCIAL WORK   $126,338
AIELLO, DONNA SUPERVISOR STAFF AND ORG DEV   $117,312
AMBROSINI, LEONA SUPERVISOR SPECIAL EDUCATION   $129,823
AUGUSTINE-JEFFERSON, PAMELA COORDINATOR EARLY CHILDHOOD   $102,953
BARRA, TEDDI , TRANSPORTATION DIRECTOR   $102,808
BEAVER, CYNTHIA SUPERVISOR GUIDANCE   $128,038
CANELLI, IMMACOLATA ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT   $142,624
CANELLI, ROBERT SUP MAGNET SCHOOLS   $134,964
CANZANELLA, JOSEPH SPVSR PHYSICAL ED/ATHLETICS   $128,823
CATES-CLARK, SANDRA SUPERVISOR OF SOCIAL STUDIES   $128,615
CLARK, WILLIAM, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER   $146,016
CONCAS, MILVIA CONCAS, MILVIA SUPERVISOR PSYCHOLOGICAL SERV   $127,338
D’AMORE, PATRICIA SUPERVISOR-READING/12   $129,823
DEFUR, KAREN SUPERVISOR FOREIGN LANGUAGES   $129,480
HARRIES, GARTH ASST.SUPT. PORT. & PERFOR.MGMT   $140,000
JACKSON, TYPHANIE DIRECTOR PUPIL PERSONNEL   $133,608
JOSEPH LUMPKIN, GEMMA EXEC. MGR OF LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT   $110,000
KINDER, CAROLYN COORDINATOR EARLY   $116,065
KING-HARRELL, GLYNIS SUPERVISOR SPEECH AND HEARING   $130,480
KING, LORETTA SUPERVISOR SPECIAL EDUCATION   $129,823
MANNARINO, TINA SUPERVISOR EARLY CHILDHOOD   $129,480
MATHEWS, KENNETH SUPERVISOR MATHEMATICS   $128,823
MAYO, REGINALD SUPERINTENDENT OF   $226,921
MCCASLIN, F. CATHERINE DIRECTOR EVAL.ASSESMENT&RESEAR; $137,049
MENDIA, PEDRO SUPERVISOR BILINGUAL   $128,823
MONTALVO, MYRNA COORDINATOR EARLY CHILDHOOD   $104,161
MOORE, PATRICIA SUPERVISOR SPECIAL EDUCATION   $129,823
MORALES, NILDA SUPERVISOR ARTS   $128,823
PACINI, LEIDA CHIEF OF STAFF 12   $143,850
PARSONS, ELAINE COORDINATOR CURRICULUM   $113,022
PROANO SCHULMAN, EMMA SUPERVISOR SPECIAL EDUCATION   $128,823
RAU, DAMARIS DIRECTOR OF INSTRUCTION   $137,829
SHERBAN-KLINE, MICHELE ASST PRINC.-TCHR EVALUATIONS   $122,590
SPEESE-LINEHAN, DEBORAH SUPERVISOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT   $118,520
THERRIEN, RICHARD SUPERVISOR OF SCIENCE   $128,823
VIGLIOTTI, JOHN PRINCIPAL SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT   $118,520
WILLIAMS, CHARLES DIRECTOR OF INSTRUCTION   $137,172

posted by: ASL on March 30, 2011  9:19am

As an educator, Moore should be ashamed to have said, “This is a group of students who have chosen to challenge what the Board of Ed and the superintendent is doing. And I don’t want to give credence to that.”  What an appalling lesson to teach young people.

posted by: 4sure on March 30, 2011  9:22am

Can someone please give me some statistics?
How many students does Wilbur Cross have?
Is it true that there are 7 assistantant principals?
What are the reasons for 7 assistant principals at 1 school?
What are there responsibilities?

Hamden High school has over 2000 students & certainly DOES NOT
Have that many assistants..
I am just trying to understand the NEED for 7 assistants.

posted by: Threefifths on March 30, 2011  9:22am

Kept the pressure on them students.This you tube is for all of you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVudDRhlexg&feature=related

posted by: New Haven Taxpayer on March 30, 2011  9:32am

Actually, 4sure, it looks like Hamden High School has quite a few administrators as well. Check out their website:  http://www.hamden.org/page.cfm?p=75&showFilter=1&keyword=administration&start=1

It looks like the school has 11 clerks/secretaries, and seven principals/assistant principals/coordinators.

posted by: dixwell livin on March 30, 2011  10:05am

peoples dont be fooled by this young man. the union is behind this march. residents are tired of being over taxed by the administration and the union know it cant send out the big labor boses to defend there pensions so they send the kids out to march and protest.

makes me disgusted when people use the kids like this be the mayor or the union. we the people are taxed to much. lay off the bad teachers and lay off some of the principals.

but please dont be fooled by this young man. he is carrying the water for the unions. doing their work. nobody believes the labor boses. they want to raise taxes and go back to hamden with the salaries we all pay. they dont care about you or me. this young man dont care about you or me. this young man has a bright future as a big labor boss.

all the big labor boses say is if you dont agree with me and what i want you are a bad person. same thing this young man is saying to. peoples dont be fooled by this young man.

posted by: SAM on March 30, 2011  10:21am

Well the Mayor certainly gave the students the standard rhetoric: “The people in charge have contracts that cannot be broken. Your teachers’ contracts do not matter and that is why they should pay for your books out of their healthcare. Plus, why do you need books, don’t you see the police state outside? (The half dozen police guarding city hall from peaceful teens)You don’t need books in prison”

“These are politicians, they know how to brush things under the rug.” GO LEE!!!!

posted by: JB on March 30, 2011  10:27am

Bottom line:
Members of the administration, the dept and board of ed should be deeply embarrassed by that student rally.  Forget high level “Change”.  Go back to basics and hit the bottom rung first. Provide every student with up to date text books free of graffiti or obscenities.

You all (including Ms. Moore and seven Assistant V.P.s who are responsible for running the school) were publicly spanked by high school students.

posted by: Observer on March 30, 2011  10:46am

It has been known forever in New Haven that school-based budgets are pretty meaningless becuase once the total BOE budget is passed, Reggie and his folks have total discretion over how that money is actually spent.  More often than not, the school budgets are fiction.  There might be $60k in the budget for books at Cross, but that money will never be spent on books at Cross.  And the reason will be, “an unanticipated, more compelling need came about what we had to respond to”.

posted by: Funky Chicken on March 30, 2011  11:05am

I find it interesting that throughout the story the declaration is made that this protest has no connection to any political group. The statement is obviously made because it would appear otherwise from the facts.

1.  The rhetoric the student organizer is using is right out of the anti DeStefano camp. Cut administrators etc.
2.  The students used the People’s Center as a base. This center has been the power base for CCNE which is the non profit arm of SEIU 1199 and UNITE HERE. (I know that that both CCNE and SEIU will claim there is no relationship but the reality is that they are run by the same people).
3.  The fact is that after the meeting with the Mayor the two other student leaders understood the Mayor’s point and were pleased that they were heard and had a voice and input into the process. The main student leader was not going to be happy with anything the Mayor had to say and after the meeting went right back to his rhetoric without any change.

In my (not so humble) opinion there is a fight going on today to see who will control the way this city heads for the next 20 years. The associated trade Unions – from SEIU & Unite Here to the city locals 530, 3144 etc are actively trying to take control of the city. First by taking a majority on the BOA and then by eventually challenging DeStefano head on.
This is just another battle in this greater war. Unfortunately some of these students don’t realize that and are allowing their agenda to be subjugated to the greater agenda of the trade Unions

posted by: funky chicken on March 30, 2011  11:31am

@Swatty, you are joking right? It appears that you took a listing of the entire administrative staff and cut and pasted it in to your post. You have some hard working people on that list that don’t deserve this kind of treatment.

posted by: 4sure on March 30, 2011  11:46am

To New Haven Taxpayer: thanks for the info. There are 5 assistant principals at Hamden High & some of the info on that site is old.
Trauner is no longer there. Many of the staff listed on that site are clerks & secretaries. The point is Hamden has many more students (2100) &
less assistant principals. The salary for assistant principal’s are pretty hefty, just wondering why so many at this school with less 1300 students.

posted by: Union on March 30, 2011  11:47am

@dixwell living>>union know it cant send out the big labor boses to defend there pensions

We are protesting today. Check us out. 5:30.

posted by: Teacher in New Haven on March 30, 2011  11:50am

mportant information when they left school on Tuesday. 

The fact is that New Haven has a lot of people at the top making a lot of money, and it is not always easy to understand what we are getting for our money. 

As someone who works in the district, I think it might be useful to ask the following questions…

1.  What are school level administrators doing for 12 hours a day?
2.  Is there a way that those tasks might be performed more economically?
3.  Are all of those tasks necessary?
4.  Could a greater role for teacher leadership help to lessen the quantity of work, and therefore the demand for expensive administration?
5.  Is there redundancy in administration?  (every teacher knows there is, having both a district level content supervisor, and a school level instructional manager…)
6.  If teachers are “highly qualified” (a requirement under NCLB) and hold multiple degrees (a state requirement), why is it necessary to pay so much money to district level content supervisors?
7.  What does a guidance supervisor do?
8.  What does a manager of leadership development do?
9.  How many supervisors of special education are necessary?
And perhaps most importantly,
10.  How do all of these supervisors/assistant superintendents/ directors spend their time every day? 

When the district is talking about cutting a school’s budget for books by more than half (regardless of whether some materials come from outside money), and up to 70 teachers are about to be laid off, it might be worthwhile for student protesters, the NHI, the Aldermen, the BOE… or just about anyone to take a serious accounting of where the money is going, and have the public make some decisions about whether we really NEED all these people.

The taxpayers of New Haven are stretched to the limit, they would deserve an accounting in a good year, they certainly deserve one now.

posted by: Uncle Egg on March 30, 2011  12:32pm

If it were my students who organized themselves (on their own time) to take on a real public concern, I’d be practically falling over myself with praise for their industriousness and civic-mindedness—even if I disagreed with their conclusions.

Heck, if more students in New Haven stood up for themselves and demanded the education that they deserve, then I suspect that Wilbur Cross Principal Peggy “You Can’t Criticize Me” Moore wouldn’t be overseeing a school where 50 percent of freshmen don’t graduate.

But I guess Moore is above criticism, so I won’t make the mistake of second-guessing Her Omniscience. Obviously, she works too hard to listen to the youthful rabble who roam her hallways.

posted by: 4sure on March 30, 2011  1:01pm

To teacher in New Haven: Well said,  I would like the answers to those questions also.

posted by: dixwell livin on March 30, 2011  1:08pm

to union:

you out there protesting today? whats the message? tax more?

posted by: Exiled Italian Shill on March 30, 2011  1:16pm

I found these blog entries about the protest on another site and found them interesting enough to share:

” The “dozens” of marchers included about 20 students and 10-20 adults. The adults look oddly similar to paid Union organizers from the Center for New Economy which is an arm of Local 34 and 35. Lee is the son of the same Rev. Lee who the Union group propped up years ago to challenge for a seat on the Yale Board of Directors.

Like father like son. Show me a camera and help fund my campaign, or yours, and I will step out in front. “
———————————————————————————
” Not very transparent but the Connecticut Center for a New Economy, aka organized labor, used these kids in a shameful display of manipulation and street drama.

Poorly organized the young Lee found himself standing alone after the Mayor blew smoke in the kids face and through them a bone of a little attention.

Armed little more than a bullhorn and a few posters and antiquated slogans, the student protesters where very short of substance. You want to be taken seriously, be mature and clear thinking.

Connecticut Center for a New Economy, front for organized labor, pays clergy, especially African American and Latino clergy, to be “organizers” so they “turn out” their congregants for their shameful displays of public drama.

Remember the great work CCNE did with another one of their spins, Communities Organized for Responsible Development? CORD held up Yale Hospital until they gave the Rev Champange money for a clinic in the Dominican Republic. Yale Hospital in the end did whatever they wanted and the fraud of CORD evaporated. With our short memory, no one remembers CORD’s connection to CCNE.

Now for the next chapter “
———————————————————————————

” Isaiah is a good kid and a smart one too. You can’t pull the wool over his eyes and he sees through the political b.s. that surrounds this whole situation. No one put him up to it, I know that for a fact. He’s a young man with a goal and a voice and a brain. “
———————————————————————————-

posted by: Been Called Worse on March 30, 2011  1:19pm

As a Cross graduate (c/o ‘94) I think this is great move by the students who organized this and brought their concerns to City Hall.  In the mix of teachers, administrators, unions, taxpayers, etc, etc, students are the stakeholders who’s voices have been missing (or under reported) from the debate. This shows a commitment to take responsibility for your own education and holding those who educate you accountable for doing so.  Keep it up.

Parting thought: ““This is a group of students who have chosen to challenge what the Board of Ed and the superintendent is doing. And I don’t want to give credence to that,” she explained.”  Right, because we wouldn’t to encourage independant thought….

posted by: Tell the truth on March 30, 2011  2:43pm

I work at cross and the truth is Peggy hides in her office all day long behind the blinds and the closed door and the other 6 take turns doing lunch duty and cleaning off lunch tables! Williams is one of the only administrators that try’s to do anything! The kids still walk the halls like they are at the mall.This entire school reform can not and will not work until the Mayor and Mayo go cause new haven is nothing more then smoking mirrors! Again how do they justify the money Mayo is being paid for a failing system after all these years?On top of this the administrators just got a new contract with pay raises in it!!

posted by: LOL on March 30, 2011  3:18pm

How about superintendent Reggie Mayo’s $226K annual salary—$226K!! Plus perks!

Also, Mayo has no problem laying off teachers and paras—which will have a DIRECT IMPACT ON STUDENT LEARNING.

Yet, he has a CEO, a chief of staff, two assistant superintendents, a reform director and a magnet schools director—all of whom make well over $100K plus benefits.

This doesn’t even count all the department heads, school administrators or math/literacy coaches (who rarely even work in classrooms).

CUT THERE FIRST. Leave teachers and paras alone.

posted by: Threefifths on March 30, 2011  3:50pm

posted by: dixwell livin on March 30, 2011 10:05am
peoples dont be fooled by this young man. the union is behind this march. residents are tired of being over taxed by the administration and the union know it cant send out the big labor boses to defend there pensions so they send the kids out to march and protest.

If this is the case.Then why are students across this country doing the same.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f01FDlg4sKQ&feature=related


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0eTbepmJ-4


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

posted by: new haven resident on March 30, 2011  4:24pm

in a recent outing with some friends who teach at cross, they described their class sizes.  one class with one student; another class with a revolving door of about three students at any given time; another class with under ten, and another one equally small.  the only classes that were close to capacity (which is about 25 kids), were the so-called ‘honors’ classes.  ‘honors’ classes, mind you, are filtered groups of children who, for some reason or another, have figured out how to demonstrate teacher-pleasing behavior, score well on tests, and/or theyre just really smart, hard-working kids. the tragedy of many honors classes is that some teachers take credit for the work the kids would do anyway. teachers who teach honors often think theyre superb, what an insult to the hardworking kids. and if those honors teachers are so superb, why dont they teach a class of mixed abilities?  doing that is the only real proof of good teaching.  so anyway…my main point was that the numbers at cross are dismally low.  i know i had a small sample, but fair is foul and foul is fair.  i also have to say that people making $150K are not the enemy.  corporations where we all shop are the problem.  taxbreaks for millionaires and billionaires are the problem.  while there is a significant amount of bloat in central office and i would love to see how these top of the pyramid bureaucrats spend their hours each week, theyre certainly not getting ridiculously rich. if the u.s. government would raise the taxes on the richest 2%, teachers might even begin to make those supposedly excessive administrator salaries you all complain about.  or would that be a problem too?

posted by: MariaN on March 30, 2011  4:34pm

to those claiming this was a puppet operation by CCNE and SEIU, go back to watching loose change and reading other conspiracy theories. the peoples center, which is also home to slam poetry, retired persons organizations, anti-police brutality organizing, and cultural events only provided a space for people to gather to make signs that said “student power, worker power’ as a non-student attendee of the march whos is not a member of CCNE or SEIU or any other union, i find it pretty arbitray that someone would claim this was being orchestrated by them.

some people can’t comprehend that when people are faced with a difficult and complicated situation, that they can organize themselves to directly change their conditions. those are people who will never understand how social movements form. it’s also the same mentality behind mccarthyism.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 30, 2011  4:35pm

If this is a legitimate student-led movement, then the students might want to begin by articulating what they ultimately want to get out of high school.  I hope it’s more than just a few textbooks.

When you look at the historic graduation rates at Wilbur Cross, the CAPT test scores, admissions to 4-year colleges, and preparation for life in the new economy, this call to action is like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel.

Instead of calling for more books, or keeping teachers of varying quality in their 6 1/2 hour 180s day a year job, how about demanding an educational experience that will allow you and your friends a chance to escape life at or near the poverty line?

Student action, if it is a real grass roots movement, is a great development.  But get more ambitious with your demands.  You all have been cheated by the entire system for more years than you know.

Take my advice:  Go visit the good folks at ConnCAN on Willow street (right around the corner from Cross) to see what you’re really missing out on and what kinds of demands would make all the difference in the world.

posted by: brutus2011 on March 30, 2011  5:44pm

The kids at Cross should be commended for exercising their duty to hold elected officials and their appointees accountable to the ultimate sovereign, US! We adults should be thinking about how our kids have shown the way to changing what everyone knows needs to be changed. I also object to the post that claims that any criticism of NHPS administration is biased, etc. NHPS gets the least from its dollar investment per student relative to student achievement in the entire state. Go the the Center for American Progress website and view the research for yourself. The research includes every state in the U.S. I know for a fact, as in I am a direct witness, to how inefficiently our schools are managed. But power and control are very powerful and we poor people have virtually no power. Our kids, however, are showing us the way.(http://www.americanprogress.org)

posted by: Allison Matura on March 30, 2011  6:18pm

I’ve been a Cross teacher for a little over a decade, and have seen our school transition through several leadership changes, multiple force-placed initiatives,and all manner of professional development models and instructional practice ideas, some brainless lunacy, some so exciting you wish you had another 100 kids to try it out with.

The only constant, and ultimately the only thing that professionally, morally and ethically matters is the kid in your classroom.
I teach the children of privilege. I teach the children of poverty and destitution. And I teach everybody in-between.

Our students, your children, my children, must understand the importance of having your voice heard, and the power of a legion of voices with one message. I think that too often the First Amendment is viewed as a protection. Fundamentally, it is not. It is a profession of our collective belief that all voices have a right to be heard, and must be heard. Even if they’re kind of nutty. Even if they’re openly ugly. Even if they’re fraught with more youthful enthusiasm than substance. Even if they’re just plain wrong.


I commend our students for speaking their minds and doing so peacefully. They may not have all of their facts and figures exactly right. Perhaps there was some adult behind-the-scenes push. I don’t know. What is far more hopeful to me is that our students, these beginner-adults, who are the most affected by cuts and de-funding, who are not yet old enough to vote, who typically have no place at the table, and who have less than zero agency, have taken up the office of Citizen and did so under the rule of law.

Awesome.


Allison Matura
Department of History
Wilbur Cross High School

posted by: to FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 30, 2011  7:27pm

Let me get this straight:  Our city’s youth are supposed to take advice from somebody who casts a false label over an entire profession?  Good one.

I certainly don’t teach my students to cast labels upon an entire set of people or professionals. ...

posted by: ElisaQ on March 30, 2011  8:17pm

@Fix:

The AP scores at Cross are impressive because the teachers hold classes after school until 7 p.m. AND every weekend. Yet you accuse those teachers of putting in the minimum?

Cross has initiatives to encourage students to take AP classes; it is a huge part of their school culture. These are not classes for an elite few.

You invite people to AF, but maybe you should visit Mr. Lee’s school and see why he is so proud of it and of his teachers. You criticize our city’s public schools, but when is the last time you spent any real time in any of them?

Maybe AF should try to learn something from Cross—they earn great AP scores, while only one AF student in two years has even passed.

There’s a lot AF could learn from the teachers at Cross about truly preparing students for the highest level of success college. If only you were willing to listen instead of simply throwing out baseless accusations.

posted by: Marty on March 31, 2011  7:52am

I am impressed with these kids, and get the impression there would have been more of them marching if the principal had been a less intimidating authority figure. I am not at all concerned that there may or may not have been input from organized labor. The whole point is that there would not have been a protest if the BOE was doing its job properly and providing adequate text books.

What I am not impressed with is what I saw on Orange Street. This small group, exercising their rights to free speech, were accompanied by 3 or 4 motorcycle cops and at least 3 police cruisers. The protesters were well behaved, and there was absolutely no need for this level of policing. My feelings were that the mayor had sent out his praetorian guard because he was petrified, and that he was trying to intimidate legitimate protest. Why, I ask myself, were all these police resources used for this, when across town, just an hour earlier, Hillhouse High School had been on lock down because of serious gun related crime in the vicinity. How can the use of depleted police resources for this be justified. There was about 1 cop for 2 protesters as far as I could see. The cops should have been across town searching for the shooters near Hillhouse.

I am also not impressed with the mayor’s handling of the meeting with the kids. He kept them waiting at city hall for at least 2 hours, if this story is correct. He would have had a least an hours warning before this they were on their way. So anybody saying the mayor handled this well has very low expectations. He first tried to buck pass the problem off to Clark, and then was caught out by the kids’ tenacity, then after 3 hours decided he should talk to them. I haven’t a clue what he told them, but it was no doubt the usual political double speak blaming everybody else. All I can see here is that the bunker mentality is now entrenched in city hall.

Finally, I see I have been unintentionally demeaning to these protesters by describing them as kids. I apologize. You are great young men and women and I applaud your civic involvement. It’s a great pity our duly elected city officials are not providing you with the keystone for a successful life, a good education

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 31, 2011  12:17pm

“FIX THE SCHOOLS” refers to the entire school SYSTEM not just the teaching profession.  But now that you put it that way, wouldn’t you agree that the profession certainly does need some revamping?  That is not to say that there are not some really great teachers in NHPS.  I am sure that the teachers that you refer to at Cross are fantastic! I’ll bet they put in LOTS of hours above and beyond - no doubt. 

But why do they then close ranks with the teachers who beat the students to the door when the bell rings? Why don’t they support casting out the ineffective teachers in their midst?  Or reject teachers that don’t share a schoolwide vision for a high achieving culture?

Lets face it, urban public education gets an across the board “F” for being unresponsive to the needs of its students and their families.  And since the effectiveness of teachers is THE most important factor in student achievement (its not socio-economic status of the student, nor class size, nor availability of technology, etc.) the profession needs to grab and gaze into a big old mirror!

But please don’t take it from me.  After all I am simply a product of NHPS so clearly I don’t know very much.  Rather, take it from Arthur Levine, former President of Teachers College at Columbia, the preminent teachers college in the country.  So what did President Levine have to say about how prepared teachers are to teach?  “The vast majority of teacher prep programs in the country are ineffective.”

Stop and think about how absurd the LIFO debate is right now. You are all in the business to teach and evaluate students and yet you resist any real attempt to evaluate your own professionals by anything other than seniority??

I’ll await Mr. Lee’s invitation.  Love to see it. And belive it or not I actually do spend some time in public schools. My impression?  Not enough has changed since when I was there as a student.

This didn’t start out as a charter school thread, so ElisaQ mercifully I’m not going to bring in AF into this conversation.

But since you bring up AP, what do you think of the following position staked out by the largest teacher union in the state of Connecticut with respect to the viability of Project Opening Doors (POD)? 

http://www.raisinghale.com/2010/11/10/union-challenges-teacher-bonuses-for-ap-scores/

I recognize that the AFT is not the CEA. But to some extent all unionized teachers are judged by the company they keep.  And this issue of POD is a blatant example of lots of TEACHERS standing in the schoolhouse door preventing child-centered programming.

Anyway to bring it back to you the students who have found your voice, the quality of the instruction matters most of all!!

posted by: GizmoGal on March 31, 2011  12:39pm

It is great to see students out there speaking their minds and fighting for their education.
To- ASL- I could not agree more.
To-Teacher in New Haven-excellent questions.

posted by: ElisaQ on March 31, 2011  1:56pm

@FTS:

Again, you need to visit some public schools to see why these students are so proud.

NHPS teachers work harder than you could imagine. The teacher who leaves at 3 p.m. and doesn’t look back is a myth. Maybe twenty years ago, someone in education could get away with that, but I doubt it. Now, definitely not. If you see a teacher leave at the bell, I guarantee that he/she is taking plenty of work home; it’s impossible to do the job any other way.

As for how we are evaluated, I believe you are familiar with the new system we are implementing. If not, please look into it. We are receiving national attention because of our pursuit of excellence.

Public school teachers invest their time and money to get degrees that allow them to enter this demanding profession. 50% leave within the first five years because it is too hard, too demanding, or just not a good fit. Anyone who stays does so for the kids.

Teachers would not protect a teacher not pulling his/her weight; a weak teacher makes more work for other teachers. Fortunately, most teachers are dedicated professionals, and we are constantly working to be the best educators possible for our students.

posted by: ElisaQ on March 31, 2011  2:19pm

@Fix:

“The city of New Haven and the American Federation of Teachers deserve high praise for the new teacher training and evaluation system they unveiled earlier this week.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/03/opinion/03mon3.html?_r=1

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 31, 2011  3:15pm

ElisaQ

Here’s the bottom line.  NHPS will start to lay teachers off this summer.  For all of the hype about the progressive New Haven contract, every single teacher who will be laid off will be judged on only one criteria: Seniority.

If your union is so progressive, why will they not agree to first removing teachers who have an abusive pattern of absences or have received multiple unsatisfactory reviews?  Given that across the country, 95% of administrators rate teachers as “satisfactory”, you would think that showing the door to the 5% who were rated poorly would just be plain common sense. 

Yes, the New Haven teacher contract IS progress - but it’s only incremental progress.  Children don’t have years to wait for the adults to work out their differences. They can’t stop their clock so that the union can fully exhaust all its appeals under “due process”.  Who is thinking about the child’s rights and due process?

If NH-AFT agreed to a non-seniority based lay-off system, even one that addressed only the most chronic under-performers before resorting to seniority, it would gain enormous public credibility. 

And you didn’t let us know what you thought about the video of John Yrchik that I posted.  Would any teacher care to comment on his stance against allowing a highly effective AP program to be in Stamford public schools?

posted by: GizmoGal on March 31, 2011  4:36pm

To-ElisaQ-
“NHPS teachers work harder than you could imagine. The teacher who leaves at 3 p.m. and doesn’t look back is a myth. Maybe twenty years ago, someone in education could get away with that, but I doubt it. Now, definitely not. If you see a teacher leave at the bell, I guarantee that he/she is taking plenty of work home; it’s impossible to do the job any other way.”

I could not agree more with this point. In order to do this job well, one must always go above and beyond the “6.5 hr” workday misconception. It simply does not exist.
This profession requires long hours, and this is definitely rewarding work. Teachers plan, implement, and reflect about instruction constantly. This is obviously in addition to grading papers, contacting parents, and attending meetings. Also, every teacher I have worked with has always stayed after school in order to help students.

There is way too much teacher bashing in this comment section. Teachers want to help, not harm students. We certainly did not get into this profession because of the “easy” hours or lack of evaluation. We are certainly evaluated by more than seniority. 

http://newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/teacher_evaluation/

Quoting from article-

“It will use a scale from one—“Needs Improvement”—to five—“Exemplary.” Teachers will receive a preliminary score by Nov. 1. If teachers at level one have not improved by the end of the year, they will likely be fired, though that’s not an automatic outcome. Teachers at level two—“Developing”—will have to make it to level three—“Effective”—within two years or they too will face termination. Teacher scores will not be available to the public.
There will be three components to teacher scoring. Two of those, “instructional practice” and “professional values” are based on observations by administrators. For the former, teachers will have to show they are prepared for class, can manage their classrooms, and adjust their teaching based on student performance. For the latter, teachers will have to demonstrate professionalism, collegiality, and high expectations for students.
The third component is student performance. That includes standardized tests, where applicable. But it also includes other measures, including whether or not students achieve goals agreed upon by teachers and administrators at the beginning of the year.”

posted by: ElisaQ on March 31, 2011  6:08pm

@Fix:

Here’s the bottom line: New Haven teachers are creating a fair evaluation system. In the meantime, we are TEACHING all the children of this city.

Let’s get back on track: the young people featured in this article respect their teachers and the work done in their school.  They are clearly bright kids and good critical thinkers, yet you entirely dismiss their view of their school!

You don’t spend time at Cross; they do.

posted by: to FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 31, 2011  6:53pm

...

I suppose it’s the teachers’ fault that youngsters are going to bed after 10 p.m., coming to school with soda and Doritos for lunch, and not being talked to or read to at home?  All of these instances not only are extremely prevalent in most urban schools, they are well documented as having a significant impact on student achievement.

There’s no doubt there are some very poor teachers who are protected by tenure. I agree 1,000 percent that those teachers should not be protected.

But you’re neive if you believe some teachers don’t receive poor evaluations due merely to personality conflicts with their administrator, or that all evaluators have the necessary knowledge and experience to fairly and accurately evaluate a teacher.

Prime example:  My pre-K to grade 8 school has a principal who taught only HS math (for less than 10 years).  All she does is enforce the rhetoric coming from downtown—period.  And she’s nasty about it, as if she knows all there is to know about the primary and middle school education.

Getting back to student achievement, every year I receive many kids in September who are way below grade level.  By year’s end, they’ve made what my bosses call “significant gains”—yet they are still below grade level.  So how much more can I do?  I can work a longer day, eat lunch with my students and use an extra prep period to fortify my lessons.  But guess what?  If the parents aren’t actively involved (or, as in some cases, aren’t even literate), then it won’t make much difference.

Plus, this reform has created another problem:  teachers teaching to the test.  Forget learning concepts, exploring, testing hypotheses and unit studies.  I know first hand of teachers who have plain stated that they skip chapters in order to target test material despite the fact each new chapter builds off the previous one.  This is what teaching in America will come down to—teaching to the test, preparing a nation of test takers.

Bottomline:  Parents need to be held accountable. You can cite all the links to Columbia professors you want.  I thought I’d share with you a dose of REALITY.

posted by: Threefifths on March 31, 2011  9:08pm

How about Charter Schools who do this to there teachers who want a union.

Chicago charter schools: stop breaking the law! Feb. 11, 20


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iBOh6k_4bY0#at=79

Merrick Academy workers get boot via FedEx amid contract dispute between school, union.


http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2010/07/21/2010-07-21_disunion_as_9_teachers_fired.html#ixzz0uXP9mCsC

 

http://www.uft.org/news/union-fights-fired-merrick-teachers


I will be going to AF to see if I can start a teachers union.

posted by: natloliopr on March 31, 2011  9:22pm

so now i believe that we should all contribute to this problem!!! who’s up for it?

posted by: Tom Burns on March 31, 2011  10:28pm

So much good in this article—Kudo’s to the student protesters for having your voice heard—kudo’s to Mayor Destefano for lending an ear to their issues and giving them the time to spend with you that no other Mayor does—-this openess and availability to all of your constituents is what endears me to you—-kudo’s to Will Clark for being available and for planning to share his expertise on these issues with the students—Kudos to Dr. Mayo and the Student Council for meeting in another venue—-and kudos to all the positive, informed posters to this article (Elisa Q, Allison Matora,Brutus 2011, Uncle Egg, Maria N,Marty)—you people are why I believe in this community—so much talent—so much heart—and so much desire to make things better—-

In New Haven Public Schools the quality of Instruction (which is one variable in how much students grow) may be interrupted by other students (not familiar to Charter Schools) who have severe behavior problems and who do not have the proper learning agenda in mind when they attend school. Numerous students enroll throughout the year at Public Schools causing dynamics to change constantly. Charter schools don’t allow for any students to enter their schools after the start of the year. (We wish we had this luxury)
But we don’t complain—we just keep on keeping on—because we went into this profession because we have a mission. (and our mission was not to enrich ourselves at the expense of the kids as the charter operators are doing now)
If you can read this—thank your public school teacher——-

In closing—our union(NHFT)—the most progressive in the nation on all fronts are looking at Seniority rights when it comes to layoffs——we need to look at more than just seniority when making decisions—

And finally what none of you excuse makers ever site is:
What about the STUDENTS accountability—-you can bring a horse to water but you cannot make him drink——yet we try—boy do we try——

Dont you dare blame someones results on someone else when the student does not take responsibility for their own learning or that they choose to be a disruption to the learning of all his/her classmates——We do need to address this issue NOW and it is on the top of our collective agenda——If we do not deal with the behavior issues in the schools we will not reach our lofty goals of making this the best CITY in the US. I know we will—
I can certainly say that we are on the right track and am proud to be a part of our second to none REFORM movement——

Who are you ElisaQ? 860-227-6668 if you would??Tom

posted by: Lincoln Robertson on April 1, 2011  7:35am

Tom Burns

This is the best snake oil I’ve read in years. Everything’s always wonderful in La La land. Just look at the graduation rates from New Haven schools.

posted by: Teacher in New Haven on April 1, 2011  9:20am

Johnathan Hopkins and others,

As usual, I find your comments accurate and reasonable.  You are telling the true history of decisions made by the white middle class, with the help of the Federal Government, but I feel as if you overlook some of the problems unique to New Haven, and some of the motivations present at the inception of the policies you note. 

You note all the incentives that the government provided to leave the city behind, but you fail to note that these policies reflected the will of the American people.  Yes, there were advantages to living in the city, but there were substantial disadvantages too.  Cramped living quarters, inadequate housing stock, failures of investment and upgrading of the housing stock arising from the Great Depression, all played in to people’s desire to leave. 

At the end of a decade and a half of war and depression, the government was left with the impossible task of transitioning the economy from a war-time to a peace-time footing, maintaining employment for millions of factory workers while employing 9+ million returning servicemen/women.  At the time, with stable oil supplies and prices, suburban development (with 2 car households, and brand new houses) seemed like a win-win, in that it fulfilled the need for an expansion of the housing stock, an employed public, and the desires of the American people (even if only whites had access).  There is little evidence that those making the policies clearly understood the long-term ramifications of those policies in the form of the destruction of urban centers.  There is however ample evidence to suggest that whites preferred policies that allowed them to live with other whites, and racist and terrible as that might be, blame should rest squarely on the backs of voters in whose interest the government was acting. 

The fall of New Haven however comes not simply from federal policies, but from CT’s incorporation of municipal boundaries.  If New Haven existed in Colorado, North Carolina, or California, neighborhoods like Spring Glen, Amity, Foxon, and Whitneyville, would still be within the city limits, augmenting the middle class tax base.  If New Haven was New York, Hamden, West Haven and East Haven would all have been incorporated into New Haven at the turn of the 20th Century. 

As it stands we have a system that is maintained through the votes of voters in the suburbs, who have made reasonable choices for their families based on the circumstances they found themselves in.  Some are unsustainable (like those in Madison, or Milford, or Guilford).  Some are no more unsustainable (Spring Glen, Amity, Foxon) than neighborhoods (Westville, Morris Cove) that are officially incorporated into New Haven.  If people in these towns are ever going to support New Haven, and accept a revised tax structure, it will require a sustained effort at engagement, rather than repeatedly suggesting that they are personally responsible for New Haven’s decline.

On a more personal note as a teacher in New Haven Public Schools, I have made numerous concessions to the city in my career here, and I have seen my wages grow at a slower pace than my suburban colleagues (and will likely make many more concessions before I retire with a STATE Funded pension).  But I feel strongly that in lean times leaders need to evaluate where every dollar is going.  When they do that, they gain credibility with the rank and file, and make them more willing to make greater concessions.  When waste is ignored however, by Aldermen, the BOE, the Mayor’s office, when appropriate and reasonable questions go un-asked year after year, even the most liberal city employee starts to think that it is better to band together and defend ourselves than to give concessions to a government with so much money to waste.  I am not sure what all my bosses do every day, and I am saddened to see how much of New Haven taxpayers money is spent with callous disregard to their plight.  Unions (even ones with mostly suburban membership) would be more likely to deal if they had faith that eliminating waste was the first priority, with the benefits that make our work attractive and valuable falling a little bit further down the list.

posted by: checkfree on April 1, 2011  11:23am

why is it that everyone says how much the janators make but noone talks about the boe maintaince dept.and that a carpenter made over 100,000 dollars and the rest of them made over 90,000 talk about never seeing any repairs being done

posted by: Educator on April 1, 2011  2:08pm

Recent postings in this thread have lost sight of what the students did, chosing to focus instead upon adults.  Let’s move it back to the interactions of these students with the adults.

The students in the story stood up and peacefully demonstrated, insisting upon expressing themselves to the most powerful people in the board of education and in city government.

posted by: susan frew on April 1, 2011  3:09pm

Active Students having a say in the management of their education has been long overdue, and I respect the students for their concern and activism. It is an example of true democracy. We should all listen to them very carefully, and they at least deserve the books and tools, There are too many administrators, and not enough books.  I think the teachers can get along with the students better without the administrators, and the teachers should be able to have budgets themselves to buy the correct books and tools.  Why do we need all these administrators- millions of dollars, and students don’t even know what a new book is. Its a sad situation, and we are lucky to have these active students, they have reason to be angry—wouldn’t you?

posted by: an educator, too on April 1, 2011  6:03pm

Thank you “Educator” for bringing us back.  Adults have wandered away from the important discussion of responsible, nonviolent student action.

The sad fact is students at Cross have zero input in the changes happening at their school.

Cross has a bully principal who called the police on her students when they did not agree to cancel their protest.

This protest was not a last minute surprise.  It had been openly planned for several weeks. 

Adults are now aware of major problems at Cross.  Will the adults stop talking long enough to hear about them?

posted by: Educator on April 1, 2011  7:19pm

Is it true that the students were threatened with arrest?  What possible charges could have been brought against them? 

Hasn’t New Haven already learned about false arrests?  There could have been some very interesting and embarrassing lawsuits had their been arrests.

A student has the same Constitutional rights as does any other American citizen, even those who don’t yet have the right to vote.  Surely they are learning this in school.

posted by: to Tom Burns on April 1, 2011  7:59pm

Spare us, will ya?

Why do DeStefano, Clark and Mayo deserve “kudos”?  They work for the public therefore are responsible for answering to the public.  Further, for $127K, $146K and $226K, respectively, they darn well better make themselves available!  And let’s use some common sense:  Imagine the poor publicity the mayor and superintendent would’ve garnered had they simply ignored these students.

Meanwhile, the NHFT is an absolute joke.

First, everything our predecessors worked for was given back.

Now, the union pats itself on the back for this “reform” effort.  Yeah, right.  Reform was coming anyway—via the federal government.  By agreeing to work with district officials, all the union did was preserve itself.  Mayo went along with it because he merely wants to create a “legacy”. For if he truly cared about kids, he wouldn’t cut paraprofessionals, teachers and support staff ... people who actually work in the schools and with the students.

Meantime, exceptional classroom practioners continue to be run out of New Haven by administrators who lack the knowledge and experience to accurately evaluate.  There are principals who have absolutely no experience whatsoever in the grades they oversee.  There are principals who tell students not to challenge Mayo.  There are principals who play favorites. allowing some teachers to leave school during instructional time to see Bill Cosby and Michael Vick.

To boot, where is the NHFT when Mayo sends teachers teachers letters chastising them for being absent more than 10 times?  The contract gives teachers 15 sick days per year.  Shouldn’t the letters start with the 16th absence?  Apparently, Mayo doesn’t realize that teachers don’t make nearly the money he does and therefore can’t afford a nurse to stay home with their sick children.

Bottom line, your post is a joke.  Pats on the back for all.  Turn a blind eye to the truth ... long live the union.  Truth be told, New Haven teachers should seriously consider what THEY AREN’T GETTING FROM THEIR UNION and save their money.

posted by: Kuddos to Isaiah Lee and his group on April 2, 2011  9:24am

I commend Isaiah and his brave group of fellow students.  They are a fine example of youth at its best.  I was in the company of Mr. Lee on March 10th at the alderman meeting.  To the person saying Isaiah and his group are poorly organized…you could not be more wrong.  These young men and women are great examples of what the New Haven youth are capable of being. 

Isaiah I hope to see you on April 5th at your high school for the next budget meeting.  I am so proud of your responsibility in your civic duty.  Keep the steam rolling and my group is grateful to have you support us as well.  We are proud of you!!  I will look for you.

posted by: Gary Highsmith on April 3, 2011  9:48am

Actually, New Haven Tax payer, Hamden High School does not have 7 administrators.  We do have more than 2,000 students, 5 assistant principals and one principal. A school with over 2,000 students will need school leaders to do a plethora things, and this small space does not permit enumeration.  I will only say that comparing the number of administrators across districts is intellectually dishonest and misleading.  In addition to being principal of Hamden High School,I am also a New Haven taxpayer, and probably have been for much longer than you have.

posted by: Allison Matura on April 3, 2011  8:55pm

Regarding the issue of the police being “called” on the students and the perception that the march had too much police presence, I am absolutely certain that neither of those views is accurate.

While it’s unfortunate that our sister comprehensive school needed to go on lockdown, the police presence was not there to intimidate students. I hope the students don’t perceive it that way.

The kids were actually kept safe by the NHPD, and for that we should be saying thank you.


Allison Matura
Cross High School

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on April 4, 2011  6:09am

Teacher in New Haven,
I think you meant to post this on the other article, but I’ll try to respond quickly to it here.

There was a very strong argument for government intervention after the war. 1)The economy was risking slipping back into another depression when the war-time manufacturing contracts had ceased, 2) the housing stock had suffered through, not only the depression and the war, but much of the city’s housing stock also went through WW1 and the 1870s recession without routine maintenance, and 3) poverty, terrible working conditions, immigration and migration were combining for some really terrible conditions in cities.
I’m not against government contracts for skilled workers - pipe fitters, brick layers, asphalt pavers, sheet rock layers, etc - to work after the War. However, it was a huge mistake to employ those people to build new housing on the periphery of the city because it resulted in the mass abandonment of cities, and the waste of enormous resources and materials in the form of abandoned houses. Those contracts should have been issued for the rehabilitation of urban housing first, then if there was still a demand for new housing (which there likely would have been) the workers could have extended transit lines and developed housing in the model of trolley line suburbs and neighborhoods. Architects, town planners, and engineers could have been hired to do the designing. Instead, we destroyed out cities, partially rebuilt them very poorly, and constructed car-dependent suburbs that were unaffordable to large portions of the population (both initially and, as we’re now learning, in the long term as well). This suburban expansion and urban renewal had an initial good impact on the economy, but our long-term problems are severe. If we had invested in cities, small towns and minimal new suburban development, there would have been the same impact on the economy in the short-term and we’d be in a much stronger position now financially, socially and ecologically.
For an example of a good urban rehabilitation projects look at the Court Street row houses. In the 1950s, they were used as boarding rooms where one bathroom would serve multiple families, there was little access to natural light and decent ventilation didn’t exist. Those row houses were rehabilitated and now have some of the highest property values in the city thanks to a little investment and reorganization of interiors. Unfortunately, this type of project was the exception and not the standard as enormous swaths of building stock were unnecessarily demolished throughout the city.

posted by: Today's NH Advocate on April 13, 2011  5:06pm

Take a look at the article on this in this week’s New Haven Advocate: 

http://www.newhavenadvocate.com/featured-news/did-wilbur-crosss-principal-retaliate-against-students-who-questioned-school-policy-067786

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