Hands down, one of my favorite movies of all time is Forrest Gump and it popularized what I believe to be one of the most concise nuggets of wisdom ever: “Stupid is as stupid does.” It basically means that people’s actions are a pretty good measure of their intelligence. Even when there are those widely considered to be intelligent, if they regularly do stupid things, it’s better than even money that they’re not that bright.
I thought this insight on perfect display this past week as I read about the high school English teacher in Albany who asked his students to pretend they were Jew-hating Nazis for a writing assignment. His foolishness may only be matched this year by the Manhattan teacher who gave fourth-graders math problems based on how many daily whippings a slave received or the Georgia educators who were teaching elementary school division using the number of beatings per day abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass received.
So here we are again. You may recall that when I ran for the senate nearly three years ago, I, like many of you, was angry at our government in Albany. As a local mayor for eight years, I knew with frustrating clarity just how out-of-touch Albany had become to the plight of everyday people. And I wasn’t alone. Republicans and Democrats alike, young and old, were demanding change and I wanted to be a part of it. We’d had enough of bad decisions impacting our communities, of back-room deals, of legislators spending more time in the courthouse than the statehouse. We were done watching Nero fiddle while Rome burned.
There was a true sense of urgency in that group that marched into Albany together three years ago, made all the more concrete by the election of a new Governor who shared our commitment. And even if no one else could feel it, sitting in those chambers, there was a sense of hope among us.
In our continuing efforts to have the best communication possible between our school district and our community, we are in the process of updating and making changes to the district website. Since the website is meant to be a communication tool between you, our community members, and the district, your input is very valuable. If you have any suggestions, examples of things you find difficult to navigate on our present website, examples of things you like about our present website and/or any other input, please email or call me. Thank you!
Thank you to all for staying informed, for your feedback, comments and participation at the Board meetings and Budget Workshops.
At the April 3 Budget Workshop, the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) presented a list of building facility needs to be addressed over the next five years. The Financial Advisory Committee’s (FAC) report included such topics as the continued financial implications of the tax levy cap, key budget growth drivers and funding options for facilities’ needs.
Copies of the trace document listing such additional budget assumptions, as well as the power point presentation from the FAC will be posted on our website. [Go to District website > NewsBox > 13-14 Budget Info > click on Budget link > scroll down to budget presentations.]
As you will recall, at our January Work Session, the high school guidance department and administration provided information and had discussion with the public regarding our college admissions process. Several suggestions and plans to grow our college admissions program were discussed.
When our sophomores and juniors recently registered for next year’s courses, they discovered two new courses for the 2013-14 school year - a Junior Year and Senior Year College Seminar Course, including SAT preparation as well as support in navigating college choices and writing college essays. On Wednesday, April 10 there was a delayed opening at Wheatley for students. Before the students arrived, our teachers and AFG planning committee members had an opportunity to learn the latest information about the college admissions process as they participated in workshops led directly by a panel of admissions officers from Harvard, Yale and Binghamton. Our staff and planning committee members will also hear first-hand what key details and information are needed to create a stand out teacher recommendation.
As we commend our students and staff on Wheatley’s strong record of college admission successes, we are all equally excited to continue to find new ways to grow and build on these successes.
The Math assessments will take place on April 24, 25 and 26. This year is the first year of the New York State Common Core aligned assessments. Though the state over the past two years began sharing information regarding the transition to Common Core, it is just this school year, 2012-13 that New York State has begun implementation in grades 3-8, with curriculum modules still not available for the full school year.
Additionally, the state has not been able to provide school districts with assessment samplers as they have in previous transitions to new standards, so it will not be until the first administration this month of these assessments, that teachers, administrators, and students will be able to get a hands-on experience in fully understanding the new requirements. As such, state education officials, including our Commissioner John King, have expressed an understanding and anticipation that student scores may dip considerably this year, as school districts begin the transition to the Common Core.
For a full memo from the New York State Deputy Education Commissioner Ken Slentz regarding transition to the Common Core, go to http://www.engageny.org/resource/field-memo-transition-to-common-core-assessments. To watch a video from our Commissioner, John King on the new Grade 3-8 assessments go to http://www.engageny.org/resource/commissioner-king-welcome-to-engageny.
In the various forums and feedback opportunities leading up to the Strategic Planning priority survey, interest in District science programs has been noted. The District has been making a concerted effort to continue to grow our Science Research Program, under the direction of the Wheatley administration, Director of Science and Technology David Casamento and Science Research Teacher Thomas Van Bell. Previous issues of this newsletter have highlighted many of our students’ successes in various science competitions this year. Add to that list … congratulations to Rebecca Molinsky, a Wheatley Science Research student, who participated in the Partners for the Future research program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory over the course of this school year and was selected by Cold Spring Harbor research program to present her findings this past week at the Partners for the Future symposium.
As I believe I shared with you when I first began my East Williston Superintendency, one of the special attributes I noticed about the District, was the wide range of experiences and areas of focus available to the students, often a challenge for small high schools. At the same time that our students have the opportunity to participate in high level science competitions and programs, there is equal commitment and opportunity for demonstrating skill and rigor in the humanities. Congratulations to Wheatley juniors, Jacob Freund who won the Senior Individual Paper Award and Jaclyn Mellone who won a special award from the Long Island Holocaust Museum, at the recent History Day Competition at Hofstra University.
Don’t forget our rescheduled Parent University will be held on April 25. Register for specific Workshops online. Go to the district website NewsBox.
Reservations are being taken for Wheatley’s annual Puttin’ on the Ritz – a big band night. An evening of music, dinner and dancing, featuring Wheatley’s Jazz Band, hosted by Tri-M. Tri-M is reaching out to our senior citizens and parents of alumni. Admission is free. Friday, April 26 at 7 p.m. Call the music department at 333-7316 to make your reservations!
Editor’s Note: Lou Sanders, who has his journalism degree from NYU, and his wife, Grace, founded the Mineola American in 1952, giving the village its first successful newspaper. Lou and Grace have lived in Mineola for 59 years, and his popular column is a signature feature of this paper.
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Portuguese people really know how to put out a great breakfast. Their annual breakfast of the Lions Club attracted almost 500 people. Fine ham, eggs, pancakes, French toast, bagels, donuts, orange juice, coffee and great conversations made it a wonderful morning before going to the Palm Sunday Mass.
Home prices fluctuate annually throughout Nassau County due to market conditions. In some cases, the price fluctuations may be uneven within the same area or amongst individual homes. The annual property re-assessment process, from the creation of the tentative roll to the end of the grievance process, is intended to deliver a final roll, which is as fair as possible, and free of errors. The grievance part of the process is intended to give homeowners the opportunity to point out and correct any errors in their individual assessment.
I want to thank the Mineola American for printing Jack Garland’s wonderful column, “Mineola Memories – This Song’s For Mr. Gannon” about Chris Gannon, who recently passed away. As the former editor of the Mineola American, I had the opportunity to know Mr. Gannon, who would come to the office of Anton Community Newspapers from time to time to drop of photos from the Albertson VFW Post #5253.
He is likely the oldest working reporter on Long Island, a bit slower in gait than he once was, a bit more stooped than in the past, but nearing 90 - his birthday is July 22 – Lou Sanders is still on the beat, making contacts, and keeping abreast of the most local of local news.
Sanders and his wife, Grace, founded the Mineola American in 1952, and although they sold the paper in 1992 to Karl Anton, owner of Anton Community Newspapers, and although Grace retired to their Mineola home years ago, Lou Sanders still reports for work at Anton headquarters in Mineola every morning.
As some of you know, I’ve picked up a petition to run in the upcoming Mineola School District Board of Education election.
While many of you have asked about my interest over the years, it was a small group of mothers from the Jackson Avenue School neighborhood who convinced me, since we spend so much time together talking about ELA and how to balance technology, literacy, and critical thinking.
There’s an old joke about God commanding a modern-day Noah to build an ark, warning him that the earth would be flooded in a year. Twelve months later, all Noah had was a pile of logs. He said, “God, forgive me but there were big problems. “Like what?” God asked.
I wish I could remind all the folks in Washington D.C. and Albany that if they look beyond the special interest agendas that consume them, they would find most of us still waiting on what counts: the economy. For all the media hoopla that highlights and exploits our disagreements, most people want exactly the same things: they want to work and make a decent living at a job that’s secure; they want to raise their families in peace; they want a good education for their kids and maybe a few of the finer things in life like a vacation or a new car once in a while. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. At one time all of these were taken as a given.
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