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Letter: An Open Letter to President Patricia Mahon and the Members of the Island Trees Board of Ed

A recent article on the Internet, from November 1, 2011 (that can be found at www.tinyurl.com/lischoolscores) is a preliminary promulgation of NYSED Assessment score rankings pitting Island Trees against eight contiguous districts. These districts were not “cherry-picked.” There was no flawed methodology, skullduggery, or black magic used during this research.

There’s an old axiom; “numbers don’t lie, people do”. If you were to place IT in the center of a map, you could draw straight lines to Plainedge, Hicksville, Wantagh, Levittown, Bethpage, etc. If you were to drive from the IT business office, you could arrive at any of these eight other districts within 10 minutes.

I anticipate the only flawed methodology will be the districts’ next newsletter attempting to allay parents’ concerns about appalling test scores in Island Trees by attacking the messenger in a move similar to Superintendent Murphy’s Friday, April 8, 2011 letter to the Island Trees School Community in the Levittown Tribune.

I look forward to discussing these educational issues with the Island Trees Board of Ed at the next public meeting. Charles J. Murphy is now in his third year at the helm of this school district. You are now in your seventh year as a school board member and second as president. As the parent of an Island Trees grad, as an educator, and as a school board member, I hope you agree with my assessment that there is an educational crisis in the Island Trees School District.

We have become the laughingstock of this region of Nassau County and I don’t think a union president, teacher, or administrator can now honestly disagree given these results. I only have the next generation of leaders in mind when I bring these issues to the fore.

The status quo is not working. Hiring special advisors at $1,500 per day to come to Levittown and teach teachers how to teach did not work. Perhaps you now understand my public concerns about doubling the size of the Island Trees AP program given the abysmal condition of grammar school rankings. In that case, the cart was placed in front of the horse. This decision resulted in a 105 percent increase in AP exam failures in one year.

Who is responsible for Island Trees scoring below the Nassau County average in ELA scores? Is it the air? Is it the water? Is it the kids? How can Wantagh deliver a five-star education to its students for over $3,000 less per pupil compared to Island Trees? Is the board at least mildly curious as to the answer?

Perhaps you now understand my calling for the elimination of the Island Trees Department of Curriculum & Instruction as I did in our April meeting in the super’s office.

I demonstrated to you how last year one Long Island district [Mt. Sinai School District in Suffolk County, near Port Jeffereson] did this, see: http://tinyurl.com/ mtsinaiexcess for more information.

They excessed a $140,000/year administrator and delegated responsibilities to other administrators and it resulted in both a scholastic and financial benefit. These are not radical ideas. Continuing to “whistle past the graveyard” while year in and year out Island Trees languishes scholastically is a radical idea bordering on educational neglect. Garden City parents and taxpayers would not stand for this for one minute. Why should Island Trees? There’s an idea to consider. Thank you.

Brian Kelty
Island Trees resident