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It is said that one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing again and again hoping for a different outcome. Joel Katz is still complaining about the same issues that were rejected by the rest of the community in a 2:1 ratio at the last school budget vote (Port Washington News Sept. 7)). I would like to comment on his criticisms of our school system. He is not happy that our teachers are being rewarded for postgraduate training. He thinks they are taking courses like "Basket Weaving" and "Mud Pie Making." This is just frankly rude and ignorant. It is insulting and far from a compelling critique. He is still tilting at the windmill of Schreiber's "modified block" schedule and the mythology of the "17-hour week." Everyone by now should understand that modified blocks are superior to straightforward scheduling and that midday individualized instruction is far, far superior to a traditional model. He claims Port Washington is the only district on Long Island utilizing this method. According to a report by Eric Rofes in the year 2000, it is employed by more than half of the secondary schools in the United States! (source: http://www.ericrofes.com/research/Block_Scheduling.pdf accessed 9/11/2006) He keeps insisting that under-enrolled classes be consolidated or eliminated. As if you can consolidate advanced language courses with advanced science courses and as if we would ever agree to eliminate the very courses that are making our kids stand out on college applications and in general. He claims that the teachers' raises were in excess of the rise in the cost of living. Last year the overall consumer price index went up 3.4 percent. (source: http://www.bls.gov/ accessed 9/11/2006) The teachers' raise was 2 percent. Is Mr. Katz kidding?

In his letter, Katz seems to be upset that internal audits discovered the illegal activity of one of our teachers resulting in the theft of $2,800. He compares this activity to the recently publicized embezzlement of millions in Roslyn and other districts. He seems unaware that independent audits confirmed that no such activity occurred in our district and that finding this abuse is a plus for our schools and our community. He calls the superintendent "heavy handed" in creating a "zero tolerance culture" regarding fraud and abuse and proceeds to defraud the readers of the Port Washington News by questioning our schools' educational practices and policies calling them abusive. Now really Mr. Katz, can't you do any better than to continuously complain about the same things even after being told you are wrong by two-thirds of our community and the vast majority of professional educators.

It's up to all of us to call these "irrelevents" in our midst when they publish silly claims in the newspaper. Consider this the first returned serve of the school year.

Ethan Fried


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