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Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

This Blog will not fall to outside hacks from anyone, especially insecure public officials afraid of their constituents criticism.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Timberlane is on an academic slide......


Timberlane is going down the tubes, when will the school board stop it?

In 1975 the Timberlane Junior High School opened to much fanfare. I was in the eighth grade at the time. We had been attending double sessions at the high school for three years, while construction was going on. It, like the high school when it opened, was a model school, in layout, curriculum, and achievement. In the 70's Timberlane, believe it or not, was one of the highest academically rated school districts in NH. At a time when schools were something both much greater, and much less than they are today.

It was not a "middle school". There was no "Team Teaching". There was an English dept., a social studies dept., a science dept., a math dept., and so on. There was no "peer mediation", "grade inflation", "mandatory promotion", "SAC", "in-school suspension", or any of the other namby-pamby, wishy-washy, feel good, new age crap, that is currently choking this once fine institution.

I say it was one something more, because it was once a place where learning happened. Where Learning was EXPECTED to happen. Where Students were EXPECTED to do their work, maintain discipline, and accomplish a body of work in order to graduate on to the High School.

I say it was also much less than it is today because it was, at that time, more focused on the children learning than making the parents feel good about their child's performance, or lack thereof, as it is today. It didn't perform social work, as it does today. It didn't make excuses about children's laziness in failing to do homework as it does today. Contrary to the opinions of principal Hogan a child's natural laziness is not that child "doing their best" or "working at their pace" and the latter is never "ok"!

I am writing this because I recently had confirmation of something I had only heard about, and had not believed. I know of a child who graduated the eighth grade this year, and is going into the high school in the fall. A normal occurrence, I know, except that this child's graduated with 3 "F"'s and 1 "D-" all in core subjects. Unfortunately, the one subject that this child passed, with a "C", was language arts, and this child has not the ability to coherently write a report. No sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling skills commensurate with an eighth grade education.

When the parent spoke to Mr. Hogan about this atrocity, the parent was told that their child had not graduated but had merely gotten a "promotion certificate". When the parent asked if the child had to go to summer school, Mr. Hogan replied that the child should. The parent, picking up on the "should", asked if the child's "promotion" was contingent upon successfully completing summer school? Mr. Hogan then replied that summer school was not mandatory, but should be attended by this child. The parent then asked "if the child was not sent to summer school, would the child still go into the ninth grade in the fall? Mr. Hogan said YES! He went on that "studies have shown that it would hurt(the child) developmentally more for (the child) to stay back than to go on" He said "(the child) would catch up in high school"! THIS FROM A PRINCIPAL!!!

Mr. Hogan then explained that High school is a credit based institution and some kids will get their 20 credits in 3.5 years, some will get them in 4 years, and some will have to take that extra class, or semester to graduate, and that's ok. Well, I say, NO that is not ok! This is the attitude that has created the situation where 21% of high schoolers can not read or write well enough to fill out their own job application. This is why 74% of College freshman have to take remedial math or English, their parents effectively paying college rates to teach their kids what should have been taught in high school. Education is the single greatest defining attribute of life. People are judged by how they speak and what they know. Professional doors will open or close based upon a person's education, and we are leaving it in the hands of those who are more concerned with the children's self esteem than what they actually know. It is a telling fact that on International tests where America once reigned supreme, we now finish below third world countries, while the one area in which we excel is self esteem! The failing students felt really good about their performance!

Here are some facts for the parents reading this, that they may be unaware of. Students are allowed to take re-tests. If a student wishes to bring up their grade, regardless of that grade they may take the same test again, and take the average of the two grades. When they have to write a report, they are given a list of websites from which to gather their info., in most cases they merely cut and paste from those websites to form the report. They learn nothing! I know of four eighth grade girls who had to do reports on historical figures, Vincent Van Gogh, Harriet Tubman, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and the reports they handed in were cut and pasted from websites. No original content! I thought they would learn a lesson from this and said nothing. They did learn a valuable lesson, they got "B"'s!

There is so much more to learn than there was when we went to school, and the district, particularly the middle school is doing a horrible job of teaching it., The curriculum is weak. And even that is not taught to full effectiveness. There seems to be little if any oversight.

Now here is my question to the school board;

What are you going to do to bring this school district back to its glory days?

We, as parents pay Timberlane over $12,000/student per year! Timberlane has a $59Million budget and roughly 4700 kids district wide.

The Timberlane district currently boasts a 58% Proficiency level in grade 10 math.
The Timberlane district currently boasts a 76% Proficiency level in grade 10 reading.

This is what we consider acceptable? In 25 years this district which was 1st in the county, and 6th in the state, now places 15th in the COUNTY in reading, and 18th in the COUNTY in math!

We only have 8 more slots to fall before WE HIT ROCK BOTTOM!!! AND NO ONE IS DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!!

I ask the school board these questions because they are not supposed to sit there and act as bobble-heads whenever superintendent LaSalle says something. The school board is SUPPOSED to be running the district! They are the people we elected to look into these things, and see that we are getting the most for our money. We are not!

Does the school board look into, and question curriculum and practices? Do they discuss educational philosophy with Dr. LaSalle, and inform him of the direction the district is to take in bringing up test scores and achievement?

This is the basic problem with public education, it is not responsive to the needs of its customers. It gets its money no matter what, whereas in the private sector, if a school had the deplorable standards of TRMS, it would go out of business, because its customers, the parents, would not pay $12,000/yr. for their kids to be shuffled along whether they did the work or not.

It doesn't work this way in the real world. When you have a job(in the private sector, this doesn't hold true for a government job) you have to perform to a certain level. You have to accomplish certain tasks, or you will be fired. Schools rarely make these demands anymore.

I want my school board to answer one question for me;

Why cant Timberlane have the academic achievement of Phillips Academy in Exeter, or even Boston Latin in Roxbury( a public school with significant minority enrollment), or even Central Catholic in Lawrence?

Or how about this question;

Why is it that I can pay $8,000 tuition to send my kid to Pinkerton, one of the best schools in the state, or $3,500 to St. Joes and Timberlane costs almost $13,000 to do an inferior job?


Anonymous said...

Yes and Maybe the School Board can wave their magic wand and fix all problems by tomorrow morning. When you wake up it will be a perfect world with all perfect people in it.
(oh... that was sarcasm)

Anonymous said...

You can't fix problems overnight but you can work to finding solutions to the problem. By the way, the solution is not to build new buildings or waste lots and lots of money for studies to build new buildings. The school board can make a difference. The school board should be demanding a better curriculum. If the members of the school board can't do their job, they should step down so that someone else can do it. It's time to challenge administration to be the best in the state in academics not in how beautiful our buildings look. Beauty is only surface deep, go for inner beauty like a great academic program.

Anonymous said...

RE: February 2, 2009 7:09 PM

Your response was condescending and uncalled for, and this is not sarcasm.

It is the School Board's responsibility to set the requirements for the school administration, and to monitor the schools achievements in meeting those expectations. The School Board sets the requirements, the superintendent is expected to meet them.

We pay the taxes, we elect the school board. Time for the school board to do their job. But, also keep in mind, you get what you elected. The chairman of the school board doesn't even have a college degree (he's been working on it for ages now). Not a good starting point for change.

Anonymous said...

This statement is made by the same person who feels he would not make a qualified Police chief. So I ask you does this person have a personal vendetta against Bill Baldwin. I would say yes..does it make you feel more of a man to always make stupid snide remarks about Bill?.well I have a feeling I know who wrote this and The Lt. is more of a man then you will ever be..Hmmm.

The chairman of the school board doesn't even have a college degree (he's been working on it for ages now). Not a good starting point for change.

Anonymous said...

The blog is getting so redundant now. PC sucks. Timberlane sucks! My taxes! MY taxes! Blah, blah, blah...Quack, quack!

Anonymous said...

OH MY God! I just saw the video on Atkinson Factor on this site of moderator Francis Polito chewing out Mr. Brownfield. Oh My God. It is frightening. I saw it on youtube too under FRANK POLITO BREAKS THE LAW.

Copy and paste THIS into your browser!

Anonymous said...

II. Subject to the provisions of RSA 91-A:3, all meetings, whether held in person, by means of telephone or electronic communication, or in any other manner, shall be open to the public. Except for town meetings, school district meetings, and elections, no vote while in open session may be taken by secret ballot. Any person shall be permitted to use recording devices, including, but not limited to, tape recorders, cameras, and videotape equipment, at such meetings

OK then, then tell me, what was going through Franks head on this "Photo" issue? Just days after being notified on a Civil Lawsuit, Frank just opened his mouth and inserted his BigFoot. Stopping photo's from being taken by a citizen, but letting a Eagle Tribune reporter take pictures? Man, or should i say Geese,this is a ridiculous example of bully behavior of a (one way) political machine in Atkinson. This is just a piece of the video to come.

Anonymous said...

Soooo. Is Frank going to get this snippet of his mistake at deliberative session also deleted? Gosh, and it got broadcast on TV. Its gonna take some big time editing to get rid of it all. Isn't that illegal? A lot of arm twisting to remove evidence today? I wonder.

Anonymous said...

RE: make stupid snide remarks about Bill?.well I have a feeling I know who wrote this and The Lt. is more of a man then you will ever be.

You may think you know who wrote this, but I can assure you, you do not know me. I'm one of those "deer tracks" we hear so much about. And, it is not a stupid and snide remark when the truth is being stated. See, again, it is those darn facts that get in the way. So, to counter, you go after the messenger and try to discredit him/her. So far, it has been the only way that those threaten by this forum have to counter what is public record.

Am I wrong? Does the head of the school board hold a college degree? If I does, I'll apologize.

And to "The blog is getting so redundant now. PC sucks. Timberlane sucks! My taxes! MY taxes! Blah, blah, blah...Quack, quack!"

It only strengthens my argument. When the facts are not convenient, dismiss them as irrelevant.

I welcome a good argument and discussion. But, when you are presented with something that is true and your response is equivalent to "spitting raspberries", well, it is not much a discussion then, is it?

You want to be taken seriously, give us facts to support your position. If a person stating what he/she thinks is a fact, and proven wrong, then they can admit it and move on. But berating them does you no service sir.

Anonymous said...

The law in the United States of America is pretty simple. You are allowed to photograph anything with the following exceptions:

• Certain military installations or operations.

• People who have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That is, people who are some place that's not easily visible to the general public, e.g., if you shoot through someone's window with a telephoto lens.

That's it.

You can shoot pictures of children; your rights don't change because of their age or where they are, as long as they're visible from a place that's open to the public. (So no sneaking into schools or climbing fences.)

Video taping has some more gray areas because of copyright issues, but in general the same rules apply. If anyone can see it, you can shoot it.

And yes, you can shoot on private property if it's open to the public. That includes malls, retails stores, Starbucks, banks, and office-building lobbies. If you're asked to stop and refuse, you run the risk of being charged with trespassing, but your pictures are yours. No one can legally take your camera or your memory card without a court order.

You can also shoot in subways and at airports. Check your local laws about the subway, but in New York, Washington, and San Francisco it's perfectly legal. Airport security is regulated by the Transportation Security Administration, and it's quite clear: Photography is A-OK at any commercial airport in the U.S. as long as you're in an area open to the public.

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Anonymous said...

YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AS A PHOTOGRAPHER IF HARASSED. If Someone has threatened, intimidated, or detained you because you were taking photographs, they are liable for crimes such as coercion or theft. In such cases, you should report them to the police. You may also have civil remedies against such persons and their employers. The torts for which you may be entitled to compensation include assault, conversion, false imprisonment, and violation of your constitutional rights.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that the Eagle Tribune reporter and photographer were present at Deliberative Session and they did not have the common sense to speak out or heaven forbid -- advise Mr. Polito or another town official of their liability? Were they deaf and dumb to the conversations about photography rights, civil rights, freedom of speech and intimidation going on right in front of them? Was it just ignorance? And will they report correctly and legally the events that occurred that day in their newspaper? Is the press responsible to protect our rights and freedoms? Why did they not speak out? It is shameful. The Eagle Tribune reporter can do a far better job of representing his profession and his newspaper. The photographer could have shut off the camera in protest, but did not.

Anonymous said...

Ref last para: There is no public school in Roxbury (MA) called Boston Latin. Boston Latin, a public exam school for 7-12th grade, is in Boston proper, near Longwood Ave in the medical area. There is often confusion between it and The Roxbury Latin School, an independent boys' school in West Roxbury. Both schools are racially and economically diverse—in the case of Boston Latin, because it is public; and in the case of Roxbury Latin, because it keeps its tuition at roughly 60% of its peer independent schools, and has a need-blind admission policy and no shortage of financial aid.

Anonymous said...

So I ask you does this person have a personal vendetta against Bill Baldwin. I would say yes..does it make you feel more of a man to always make stupid snide remarks about Bill?.well I have a feeling I know who wrote this and The Lt. is more of a man then you will ever be..Hmmm


And how do you know?

And is the person wrong?

Anonymous said...

look at there parent,s they can,t even hold an election without fighting and running ther mouth,s off

Anonymous said...

"The Lt. is more of a man then you will ever be"

Being a woman, then this is a fact I'm in total agreement with.

Still waiting. Were my facts incorrect?

Fishgutz said...

Y'all need to send you administrators down here to Greensboro NC. The public high school my son will enter next year has as the "basic" level, College Prep. Honors is the mid level, and AP courses are the advanced.
The staff assumes all students will go to college. Granted not all do. The 4 year graduation rate is 94%.
79% go on to 4 year another 12% go on to 2 year college.
Additionally, there are multiple "early college" programs where high school students attend class on local college campuses and can earn up to 2 years of college credit when they finish high school. Programs from pre-medical and pharmaceutical science to engineering and other hard science.
All 8th graders take algebra 1 as their normal math course.
The high school is ranked in the top 1% nationally compared to all high schools including elite private school. 3000 students.
The teachers are not unionized. They are rewarded for things like achieving national certification. Bad teachers do not last.
And if you are tired of New England Winters, there is plenty of room down here.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand why anyone defends the school committee, the teachers, the PD.

Oh, that's it, you have low standards.