Archives for the month of: September, 2015

From a former board member re: the legal use of executive session:

Allow me a quick comment based on my school board experience here in Columbia County and many conversations over the years with legal counsel at the NYS School Boards Association and with Robert Freeman of the State’s Committee on Open Government.

For starter’s most people don’t know — or care to know — that an Executive Session meeting protects only those matters which are confidential; to wit,

a. matters which will imperil the public safety if disclosed;

b. any matter which may disclose the identity of a law enforcement agent or informer;

c. information relating to current or future investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense which would imperil effective law enforcement if disclosed;

d. discussions regarding proposed, pending or current litigation;

e. collective negotiations pursuant to article fourteen of the civil service law;

f. the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation;

g. the preparation, grading or administration of examinations; and

h. the proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition of securities, or sale or exchange of securities held by such public body, but only when publicity would substantially affect the value thereof.

ref: §105. Conduct of executive sessions.

I doubt very much an audit would be covered by any ES confidentiality privilege, much less be allowed to be withheld from the public until the Board approves it. Here is a good primer on the Open Meetings law.

It surprises a lot of people.

Good luck.

Agenda for 9/29/2015 BOE:
Meeting Sep 29, 2015 – Audit Committee of the Irvington Union Free School District Subject 2014-15 Audit Report Type Discussion

The Board will meet in Executive Session with the District’s External Auditors to review the 2014-15 Report and findings. The Report will be formally presented at the public meeting which begins at 7:30pm.

N.Y. EDN. LAW § 2116-c : NY Code – Section 2116-C: Audit committees

Requirements set forth by the Smart Schools Bond Act Guidance 04.27.15:

…the district must certify in its Smart Schools Investment Plan submission that the following required steps have taken place:

  • A Preliminary Plan has been posted on the district website for at least 30 days. The district must include an address to which any written comments on the Plan should be sent. [No….The link to the plan takes you to a meeting notification with no further information.]
  • Board has conducted a hearing that will enable stakeholders to respond to the Preliminary Plan. This hearing may occur as part of a normal Board meeting, but adequate notice of the event must be provided through local media and the district website for at least two weeks prior to the meeting. [Adequate notice via local media has not been provided.]
  • The district included an address to which any written comments on the plan should be sent. [No: since the plan was not available on the website, no public comments could be made.]
  • Review will examine evidence provided in the Smart Schools Investment Plan that the devices/platforms chosen will be linked to a coherent instructional plan and will enhance teaching and learning on a sustainable basis. [No mention of academic or learning goals in IUFSD Smart Schools Investment Plan]

An additional issue: the state requires that district technology purchases be “sustainable.”

To date, mobile devices have been donated, but the existence of these donated devices is cited by IUFSD as the rationale for installing wireless connectivity in Dows Lane and Main Street School.

Have the donating organizations contracted to fund all purchases of mobile devices going forward? (see: Why Hoboken is Throwing Away All of Its Laptops)

Irvington UFSD Preliminary Smart Schools Investment Plan

Currently, we have several types of mobile access devices in our district including Chromebooks, iPads, and laptops. Once Wifi access is put into place at our elementary buildings, we will have the opportunity to collect information on what types of mobile devices work best for our teachers and students. Based on those findings, we will be able to use Smart Schools funds to acquire additional devices for our students to use.

Wireless in Dows Lane and the Main Street School will be used to replace traditional textbooks and programs with materials students find on Google the the process of “exploring” and “pondering” “essential questions.” 

Materials found on Google are the opposite of a coherent, sequenced curriculum, which is what children need to understand content and store it in long-term memory.

Installing wireless facilitates the move to “thinking” and away from learning that is the hallmark of Kris & Raina’s many changes.

Irvington UFSD Preliminary Smart Schools Investment Plan 2015

This student (video: Flipped classrooms aren’t teaching) makes an important point about the damage flipped classrooms do to the teacher-student relationship.

Progressive educators believe in “horizontal” classes as opposed to “vertical,” hierarchical classes. Inside a horizontal class, everyone is a “learner,” and the teacher is just a guide on the side. As a result, the teacher-student relationship is weakened while the peer relationship is strengthened.

It’s ironic because districts like ours spend a small fortune to reduce class size, but our administrators, aided and abetted by parents on the board, use reduced class size to grow the distance between teacher & student instead of shrinking it.

The smaller the class, the easier it is to put all students in groups. Inside larger classes, the noise level alone makes small-group work untenable.

So we pay for small class size, but we get peer editing, learning stations, & flipped classrooms.

Flipped classrooms are especially beloved by progressive educators/constructivists because they move the teacher to video, and you can’t form a relationship with a video. Inside a flipped classroom, eye contact happens primarily between students, not between teacher & students. 

And see:
Teachers singing about becoming guides on the side
The choice

BEGIN: 1:50
“One method that is used in Common Core teaching is called the flipped classroom, where the students are given work that they don’t know how to do and given blanks or other worksheets and told to come back with the work done. I’ve experienced this more this year and it is incredibly confusing and a monotonous way to learn what I’m supposed to bring to the table. We’re expected to teach ourselves using a video. That’s not teaching. I’ve said this before in other speeches and I’ll say it again because it’s imperative to the survival of education. Teachers are irreplaceable. Irreplaceable. The bond they create, the knowledge they have, the opportunities a student has to ask questions and see multiple examples from a caring, knowledgeable person and not a computer screen is so valuable. One thing I’ve enjoyed most about school as I’ve gotten older is the bond I’ve been able to form with almost all of my teachers, past and present. This is what has let me enjoy school so fully until now. Take this away and you will have a irreparably damaged education forever.”
END: 2:55

Flipped classrooms aren’t teaching

10.10.2015 Teacher-centered v. learner-centered

In a learner-centered classroom, 7th graders “focus” on adjectives.


In a teacher-centered classroom, 7th graders learn the grammar of English composition:

7 CORE KNOWLEDGE – Gr7 – CKFSequence_Rev-4

And see:
6th grade English at Brearley
Teacher-centered v. student-centered

7th grade in a learner-centered school.

This is what constructivism looks like. Students study themselves, in groups; the teacher is a guide on the side.


Compare to 6th grade at Brearley, where students grapple with an “intellectually rigorous and coherent literature curriculum”:

Grade 6

  • Folk Tales (summer reading continued into the fall): A large number are read and a few are selected for class discussion. They include: “The Valiant Chattee-Maker” (Indian), “The Young Head of the Family” (Chinese), and “The Wonderful Tar-Baby” (African-American).
  • Ballads: Five Scottish ballads—“Sir Patrick Spens,” “Edward, Edward,” “Mary Hamilton,” “The Twa Corbies,” and “Barbra Allen,” the last two having available English counterparts.
  • Book of Genesis, King James Version, with some abridgement.
  • Greek mythology, based on selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, The Iliad, and The Homeric Hymns.
  • The Odyssey

Or compare our 7th-grade classrooms to 7th grade in Core Knowledge.

If administrators and board members listened to parents and taxpayers, this is the education IUFSD children could have: CORE KNOWLEDGE – Gr7 – CKFSequence_Rev-4

And see:
6th grade English at Brearley
Teacher-centered v. learner-centered

Technology in Classrooms Doesn’t Always Boost Education Results, OECD Says

. . . students who spend an above-average amount of time in front of a computer at school performed worse than other students, including those who might not use them at all.

In mathematics tests, the survey found that almost any time spent on the computer led to poorer performance on both written and digital tests.

Researchers found much the same results when students used computers for homework. They also found that students who used computers excessively were more likely to feel isolated or alone.

9-7-2015 KMH Employment agreement

14-15 Code of Conduct

What we have:

3/5/2013 – Definitions of Success  
9/24/2013 – “Focus and success”
9/24/2013 – “Rigor Redefined” by Tony Wagner  
1/28/2014 – Creating an IUFSD Vision for Technology 
1/2014 – “I am a child-centered professional” (Flipped classrooms)
6/15/2015 – Adopted – District Technology Plan 2014 – 2018

Teacher-centered v. learner-centered 10.10.2015

What we don’t have:

Core Knowledge: A liberal education for K-8

School board:

Whitney, President
(914) 591-9175

Catherine Palmieri, Vice President
914) 693-6896

John Montgomery
(914) 591-9352

Bob Grados
(914) 231-6365

Michael Hanna
(917) 750-8790


A Game-Changing Education Book from England
by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
July 2nd, 2013

Order Seven Myths about Education

And see:
Do we want to be a constructivist district?
Curriculum and property values