Tag Archives: Penny MacCormack resignation

Parent Power Pushing Against the PARCC

Dear Readers,

Thank you and a warm welcome to our new subscribers!

The PARCC is coming up fast. Parents all over New Jersey are speaking up.

Parent activist and artist Elana Halberstadt created this drawing, “Parent Power!”

"Parent Power!" by Elana Halberstadt, 2015

“Parent Power!” by Elana Halberstadt, 2015

 

This image has been shared widely online, especially via Save Our Schools New Jersey Facebook post last week. As of this writing, it has been “liked” 183 times and shared 60 times. If you haven’t been to the SOSNJ website or Facebook page yet, go there! Excellent information updated daily, and some seriously awesome advocacy work by all volunteer members that will inspire you, give you hope, and move you to action.

Here’s a compelling letter in The Montclair Times, 2/19/2015, from Montclair parent and resident, Martha Evans:

The Montclair Times letter, by Martha Evans: “Parents: exercise right to refuse PARCC”

FEBRUARY 19, 2015    LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2015, 12:31 AM

Parents: exercise right to refuse PARCC

Controversy continues to escalate around the PARCC tests replacing NJASK — and for good reason.

People should pay close attention to why the vast majority of states planning to administer the PARCC have ultimately rejected it. Their reasons are the same ones we should all consider in deciding whether to subject our own children and teachers to these experimental new tests that lack credibility and unfairly discriminate.

The PARCC is designed to fail 60-70 percent of students — this has been borne out around the country, including among high achievers. While the scores won’t affect placement this year, make no mistake; that data will forever remain on the record of every child who takes the PARCC. Their scores will factor into teacher and school evaluations this year.

Superintendent Penny MacCormack has continued to repeat our state’s empty mantra — that the PARCC will provide more data than the NJASK ever did. This is simply not true. Teachers will never see the convoluted, developmentally inappropriate questions on the PARCC, let alone what students answered right or wrong.

With no diagnostic value, the PARCC will disrupt 12-14 days versus two for NJASK. At an estimated cost of $80 per student, Montclair will shell out roughly $350,000-$400,000. That’s excluding the district’s massive $2.1 million tech upgrades that went way over budget — and were made with no tech plan in place.

Despite MacCormack’s ongoing insistence to the contrary, last week’s report at the BOE meeting made it clear that Montclair schools are not tech-ready for the PARCC.

At the same meeting, our Board of Education put to rest Superintendent MacCormack’s persistent denial that families have the right to refuse the PARCC. Montclair joined 134 other districts and unanimously passed an official refusal policy. Every family should seriously consider using it.

Martha Evans

Montclair


noparccbutton

New Jersey parents and residents are waking up and pushing back against the PARCC in droves! Grassroots  Cares About Schools groups are continuing to form all over the state. And last week in neighboring Clifton, NJ, via the Clifton Journal,  families stood up to protest the PARCC at their local Board meeting.

clifton3 clifton2 Clifton1

And, if you’re new to this conversation, or trying to get a deeper understanding of what’s going on, or just want to read a really excellent piece, Jersey Jazzman’s post offers an enlightening and comprehensive, spot-on overview of the state of public education affairs.

And what can you do?

The next Montclair BOE meeting is tomorrow, Monday, February 23, 2015. It promises to be a very interesting one in light of recent developments as reported in The Montclair Times  and Tap Into Montclair in the past few days:

Superintendent MacCormack resigned, and her Assistant, Matthew Frankel, has also resigned.

The MPS budget is showing a shortfall of $6M!

The MPS principals sent a letter /statement to the MBOE.

PrincipalsLetterPrincipalsLetter2

The public portion of the meeting is expected to begin at 7:30pm. Please check the MCAS fb page for updates. Come to speak or come to listen and show your support for our community. We are in this together. PARENT POWER! 

We hope to see many of you there!

Warmest wishes,

Montclair Voices

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the superintendent’s resignation and the budget in Montclair

Dear Readers,

We’re sharing with you the latest MCAS Newsletter which went out this morning, 2/20/2015. Please take note of the section on the budget, as it is especially urgent. We hope to see you at the BOE meeting on Monday evening.


MCAS Newsletter – February 20, 2015

Dear friends,

As we expect you know, Superintendent MacCormack has submitted her resignation.

This news came days before the board of education will present a draft budget that by many accounts will show a deficit of several million dollars.

Several of us from MCAS sent a statement to the board members Thursday asking that in light of the difficult budget process that is about to start, they accept the superintendent’s resignation effective immediately. We share that statement with you below.

We also want to alert you about the serious budget issues the district may face this coming year.

Please try to come to the board meeting Monday, Feb. 23.

Make your voice heard. It is crucial at this time for all of us to to ensure that any budget cuts do not hurt our classrooms and schools.

_________

Here’s the statement we sent: 

Dear Board of Education members:

With the news of the resignation of Superintendent MacCormack, we as members of Montclair Cares About Schools are writing to respectfully request that the Board of Education accept her resignation effective immediately and appoint an interim superintendent to steer our community through the difficult school budget process that is about to begin.

The announcement of the superintendent’s resignation comes less than a week before the board is expected to release a draft budget that, by many accounts, includes a shortfall of several million dollars.

This deficit comes on the heels of a 4.1 percent tax increase this year coupled with the spending down of millions of dollars in surplus.

It is critical that our community be able to address the issues surrounding this deficit – including how it happened and how to address it – with an open, honest and respectful dialogue.

As the Rev. William Barber, head of the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina, has said: A budget is a moral document.

We need a budget in Montclair that reflects our community’s values by supporting children, educators and our children’s classrooms over all else.

Unfortunately, the current district leadership has very often caused parents, educators and other community members to feel unheard and disregarded. The current leadership has also failed to provide straight answers or accurate and timely information, all of which are crucial to an open and productive budget process.

An interim superintendent who is respectful of Montclair’s values and history of integrated schools and who has a demonstrated commitment to progressive public education could help to change this dynamic now at this crucial time when our board is about to make spending decisions that may affect our district for years to come.

We and many other parents and community members hope that this change in leadership will mark a positive turning point, leading to a decision-making process in our district that is more inclusive and genuinely welcoming of the views of parents, educators and other residents.

In light of the budget decisions before us, we believe it is critical that the district begin that new more open and inclusive approach now with new, interim leadership.

Thank you very much for your attention and consideration of this matter.

_______________________

Budget alert!

The board is expected to release a draft budget Monday that will require cuts, a tax increase or both.

We’re writing to ask each of you to try to attend the meeting this Monday, to pay close attention to the school budget this year and to make your voice heard.

Where: MHS auditorium on Park Street

When: Monday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m., with signup for public comments usually beginning around 6:30

The district is by many accounts projecting a shortfall of several million dollars.

We want to remind you that this shortfall comes after the district raised taxes 4.1 percent this year and spent millions of dollars in surplus funds. This raises key questions:

  • Where did the money go?
  • Will budget cuts hit our children’s classrooms and schools? Or will they be kept far from the classroom?

Over the last few years, we have seen troubling trends in how the district has spent our tax dollars:

  • Central Services has bulked up, adding so many new administrators and other staff that the total number of staff has grown by 50 percentsince 2008-09, from 33.4 to 51, as of last fall. This increase came over a period when district enrollment stayed about the same.
  • Legal fees have skyrocketed from $167,000 in 2011-12 to more than $500,000 last year and $350,000 budgeted this year.
  • Technology spending has soared, totaling about $2 million or more this year alone – much of it to prepare for the PARCC – and without the district’s bothering to create a technology plan to ensure that the new technology enhances learning.
  • Communications costs more than doubled in the first nine months of this year over what was budgeted, $125,000 budgeted vs. $288,000 actual. Most of this is for new communications staff to handle what is essentially public relations for the superintendent.

As the district has gone on this spending spree with money outside the classroom, our paraprofessionals – the teachers’ aides who serve as a lifeline to our most vulnerable children – are increasingly hired only as substitutes with no benefits and no job security.

______________________________

Our school budget should reflect our values and vision for our schools. The budget plays a large part in determining what happens in our schools and classrooms each day:

  • When paraprofessionals are brought on as substitutes with no benefits and low pay, that hurts the morale and reduces the stability of the workforce of educators whom our children depend on.
  • When programs are cut and never restored – such as elementary school instrumental music and Writer’s Room – that reduces the learning opportunities open to our children.

As parents and community members, we can make sure that our district’s budget reflects our community’s values and our education goals for our children.

Thank you.

Please check out our Facebook page for updates.


If you’d like to receive MCAS newsletters directly to your email
in-box, please send a note to montclaircaresaboutschools@gmail.com
with “SUBSCRIBE TO NL” in the subject line.

If you’d like to submit stories or any other material for consideration and posting on Montclair Voices, please email us at:
montclairvoices@gmail.com
with the subject line: “SUBMIT TO BLOG”

Thank you and stay warm!

All of us at Montclair Voices