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State report card stigmatizes district

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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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    Posted: Feb 26 2016 at 1:12pm

Posted: 1:00 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

COMMENTARY

Middletown school leaders: State report card stigmatizes district

By Chris Urso,Michelle Novak

Guest Columnists

It would be an understatement to say that we are disappointed with the recent “F” Middletown City School District (MCSD) received on the state report card, but not for the reasons you might suspect. As people focus their attention on the so-called failing schools, failing teachers, and failing students, we can’t help but look at our state and federal legislators and feel that they are failing Middletown.

We wear the hats of both school board members and also those of parents of children in MCSD. Our choice to live in Middletown and send our children to the public school is grounded in our firm belief that the perception cast by a test score fails to align with our everyday experiences. Do our schools and our community have real concerns that need to be addressed? Absolutely. However, for us, these issues are not unique to our town nor do they tarnish the great attributes of our schools and of the City of Middletown.

Our children are able to grow and learn in a school environment that reflects the larger society. Middletown Schools has an incredible array of resources and programs that serve the needs of our students with disabilities, our students who speak different languages, who come to school with little exposure to language rich environments, students who have full family support, students who don’t, students who are gifted, those who are Ivy League university bound, and those who are career bound. Because of our size and structure, we have the unique advantage to offer more services and programs that most smaller suburban districts do not offer.

We are proud of our students because of who they are and where they come from. Our children are smart, they are motivated, they push their limits, and they want to be successful. We want them to be successful. We know we can do more and we are looking at how we can continually improve. We want to improve our graduation rates, our literacy rates, access to college and other training opportunities. We are working to make this happen.

Throughout the community, city leaders, Middletown alumni, business professionals, church leaders, and neighborhood volunteers ask us what they can do to help our children. As a board, we are currently undertaking the beginning stages of developing a strategic plan. With the participation and inclusive voice of Middletown residents, we intend to craft a vision for our schools that is reflective of the uniqueness of our city. From this point, we can implement a reasoned plan to address our challenges.

Of equal importance is the need to look at this grade for what it is: only one piece of the evaluation of a school district. Unfortunately, so many people rely on the state report card system to make life choices about where to live and where to raise their children. While we don’t think that these are the state’s intended consequences, the report stigmatizes school districts. This propagates a cycle of dividing communities and schools into those with wealth and those without. The state tries to account for this growing discrepancy in funding, but unfortunately a funding cap limits the balance while the grade card system continues to promote this cycle. We hope that our state and federal officials will continue to work to improve this process so that schools can get the benefits of a statewide evaluation system without incurring these additional challenges.

We feel that it is of the utmost importance to define educational success more comprehensively and measure what really matters. Through community participation and support we intend to prepare all of our children in Middletown for a successful future despite the obstacles in our path. And that is the Middie way.

 

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VietVet View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 26 2016 at 8:51pm
"As people focus their attention on the so-called failing schools, failing teachers, and failing students, we can’t help but look at our state and federal legislators and feel that they are failing Middletown"

Two on the school board who refuse to take responsibility, instead, blaming the legislators and the state for the poor performance. COP OUT. The game is what it is. Adapt, overcome and make changes to accomodate the required rules for success. Stop making excuses and do your job that you volunteered for, school board people.

Answer this....why are there school districts with the same demographics and similar situations Middletown has, yet, perform within acceptable levels and are at least average on test scores and certainly have more indicators met than 6 of 24 after a decade. They must do things differently than Middletown AND/OR their school personnel/school board members are more skilled than those in Middletown.

"We are proud of our students because of who they are and where they come from. Our children are smart, they are motivated, they push their limits, and they want to be successful."

If true, then why is the end result always this abysmal and this district is ALWAYS on the bottom of the list? If the limits are pushed, they are smart and motivated, then why does something like this happen? Something doesn't make sense here school board people. It has to be in the way the information is presented to them if it isn't the students. If it ain't the kids, it must be the school people who are failing.

"We are working to make this happen"

We, the taxpayer, have heard this line for decades. It is an old saying that has no clout anymore. Many before you have been "working to make this happen" for over a decade yet the numbers are the same, the indicators haven't gone up and the district is still a bottom feeder compared to even the lowest of the low around this area. Your line is wearing thin.

"Throughout the community, city leaders, Middletown alumni, business professionals, church leaders, and neighborhood volunteers ask us what they can do to help our children. As a board, we are currently undertaking the beginning stages of developing a strategic plan. With the participation and inclusive voice of Middletown residents, we intend to craft a vision for our schools that is reflective of the uniqueness of our city. From this point, we can implement a reasoned plan to address our challenges."

But we have heard this all before from many superintendents and past school boards. They have all failed to move the bar upward. The bar is stuck at complacent/stagnant and trending downward at best. By now. all avenues have been examined. What makes you think your group can find the answers? You are more inclined to re-invent the wheel of failure again than find a new approach.

"With the participation and inclusive voice of Middletown residents, we intend to craft a vision for our schools that is reflective of the uniqueness of our city. From this point, we can implement a reasoned plan to address our challenges."

More than likely, a waste of time and effort. Been there, done that. It failed.

"the report stigmatizes school districts"

Not an issue if you get your act together and try new concepts rather than calling old ideas new and repeating failed history and practices time and time again. Other districts, rich and poor, aren't "stigmatized".

"This propagates a cycle of dividing communities and schools into those with wealth and those without"

Can't use this as an excuse as long as there are poor districts meeting the criteria.

Be like Nike. Just do it. Stop making excuses and playing the passification game to get out of the line of fire. It is a waste of time on your part and ours. Emulate success. Go to a school district who is considered one of the poorer ones yet has a history of acceptable performance under the state's educational rules and compare notes to see what you can adapt to your program. It is not a sin to seek people who are smarter than you are.










I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Dean View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 27 2016 at 3:07pm
A request to City Manager Doug Adkins.

Don't invite Forbes Magazine back to Middletown. The city was already embarrassed by the 2008 article. Don't have the negative visibility again.

The city is an F, the school district is an F. The leadership throughout, are failures. Make all the excuses you desire, articulate about poor students, mentally ill students, drug addict parents, but the measure and results indicate finality. Nothing the leadership in the city of Middletown does ever ends on a positive note, with a result anyone can be proud and say, job well done. Washington is being destroyed by outsiders, as the wise see through empty suits and corruption. Middletown needs to wide up and take note of the same.

The more the response by the school board members is read and digested, the greater the internal rage. Wouldn't it be fairer if all districts had the same allotment of students, based upon income, based upon intelligence, based upon the type of career a parent held down. It never ends. The school board holds everyone deserves a trophy. Well, you got one. Its marked F. 
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Bocephus View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bocephus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 29 2016 at 12:08pm
Sound like a couple obama voters drunk on the kool aide, just throw more money at it and it will be lovely.
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