Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blue skies or darkest day?

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Paul Kadri explained in painstaking detail the district’s PSSA scores and clarified what the term AYP meant. He celebrated our accomplishments by honoring faculty and students from the high school, and he noted that the Philadelphia Inquirer listed our progress in high school reading as being ranked 3rd in the Philadelphia area. It was truly a time for celebration as was evidenced by the faces of the three NHS student representatives in attendance to accept an award on behalf of their classmates. But those smiles wouldn’t last long.

The three Levittown school board representatives (Board President Rick Eccles, VP Frank Koziol, and Ritchie Webb) were not pleased with our scores, and they angrily voiced concern over Neshaminy’s progress and also (what they said was) Kadri’s unwillingness to turn over the raw PSSA data to them as soon as it was available. The punctuation on their attack was Eccles’ statement, “this is the darkest day in Neshaminy’s history.”

No longer wanting to be on the receiving end of their venom, Kadri challenged the Levittown representatives by countering many of their statements. At one point when Webb brought up some past history to explain his discontent with our superintendent, Kadri immediately challenged him with a scornful look followed by “do you REALLY want to do this now, Mr. Webb?” Susan Cummings, Bill Spitz and Joe Blasch all came to the defense of Kadri, and each stated how the board must do more to support his efforts. Cummings reacted strongly to Eccles’ darkest day comment by stating that the three NHS students in attendance, once full of proud smiles, now appeared to be angered.

So which is it, blue skies or darkest days? Are you pleased with Neshaminy’s progress despite the AYP flags for the IEP/Spec Ed subgroup, or do you think we have sunk to an all-time low? Please participate in the survey over to the right then add your comments to this post. I remind you to keep your comments constructive and PG-13 remembering that Neshaminy students read this blog. And if you need more background on this issue before forming an opinion, here are some sources of information which should help you:
1) Read today’s Courier Times summary of Tuesday’s meeting. It may not have captured the emotion of the evening, but it’s a balanced report which includes a summary of our AYP status.
2) Refresh your memory with some of the highlights from this year’s PSSA scores by re-reading an earlier post on this blog, “Since when does 90% equal flunking?”
3) Watch the rebroadcast of the meeting. It lasted 3-1/2 hours so it’s not exactly easy viewing, but here’s a watcher-friendly hint: Watch from the beginning of the meeting through Kadri’s Powerpoint presentation on PSSA’s (and the follow-up comments from the board), then fast forward to the end of the meeting for public comment when Chris Graham of Langhorne admonished several board members for their obvious agenda against Superintendent Kadri.

As for me, I am still haunted by Tuesday’s events, particularly the reaction of those high school students who attended the meeting. Mrs. Cummings’ comment of how the smiles were now gone from their young faces has stayed with me. I can’t shake it, can’t get it out of my head. I’m not sure I ever will.


18 comments:

I must be living in Jersey said...

That's an interesting summary of the meeting Mr. O'Connor, and it closely matches what my neighbor who attended the meeting told me. I will hold off on commenting until I have seen the broadcast for myself, but I have given our PSSA scores a passing grade in your survey. We must not overlook our IEP students, but I am pleased by the progress I have seen. Congratulations to Mr. Kadri, the staff and students.

KClarinet said...

I'm anxious to see the video of the meeting. From my previous posts, it's obvious that I think the agenda Mr. Eccles et al are pursuing is clear. The scores show praisworthy overall progress in the specific areas they measure. It may be possible to improve in the areas of reading for Special Education students, although I suspect our problems are more probably harbingers of problems that sooner or later every district will face as the percentages required for AYP continue to rise. Bravo to those board members who have begun to rally more publicly to Mr. Kadri's defense.

TFR1984 said...

Your last comments about the young students really tugged at my heart. How awful that was for them. I don't know if we see that on the tv show unless the camera was watching them. Thank you for this update. I'll watch the cable tv show to see what happened.

Pianomom said...

To echo kclarinet's sentiments, bravo to the board members who rallied behind Kadri. I am very proud to read that Sue Cummings stood up for those students, and that she along with Blasch and Spitz didn't leave the superintendent to fight for himself.

LivininLevittown said...

No it is not are darkest day but I do think are scores should be better. We pay are taxes to support the schools. Like it or not pssa is how children are being judged. You must be able to understand how taxpayers feel when they pay more than any place else in the entire state but there are cheaper districts that have much lower taxes but higher pssa scores. I know it is not only the teachers responsible for pssa scores, but they better do something quick if they want to keep being paid highest in the state.

KClarinet said...

To livininlevittown, this has come up a couple of times recently. I honestly don't know how Neshaminy's salaries or taxes compare to other area districts, but I'd be really surprised if it were true that either Neshaminy's teachers are the highest paid or that Neshaminy's property taxes are the highest in the state. What are the actual figures?

Levittowner said...

"Darkest Days"

Those in Levittown who don't agree with these words or the way our reps have been thus far "representing" us (which for me was when I started "tuning" in a couple of years ago.) :

please show up at meetings..write letters (Mr. Oconnor..can you give us the email everyone can use?) and call and let them and Mr. Kadri know you don't agree with our representatives and they aren't representing you.

And if you or someone is interested..find out about running for the next school board elections.

As for the comment about our PSSA test scores...aren't they in fact pretty darn high? It's just the AYP that is a specific issue. Other schools may have had no AYP failures, but alot of them have lower overall PSSA scores than us.

swelle said...

I finally finished watching the broadcast. All I can say is what a disgusting display of politics from our representatives in Levittown. They don't like Kadri obviously, and they're willing to do anything to take him down no matter who is hurt by it. I don't know which of them is up for election in next year's school board election, but they must be voted out. Levittown residents should be embarassed and outraged!

Erik said...

Our darkest day is when those three got elected in the first place.

sportsfan said...

I just watched the broadcast also. Like the one resident said, "The circus is back in town". A big disgrace to our community.
I guess I should take the advice of school board member Frank Kozial and move to Bristol.
He said Bristol is great and Kadri is not doing his job !
He said Bristol schools are better than Neshaminy. Bristol IS a great place, but just don't go to Abraham Lincoln Elementary School where the PSSA scores are 35% proficient for Math and 32% for English. Also, I was told to stay away from the high school. Math proficiency at Bristol was 45% and reading was 57%. I guess that is not too bad, it's only 20% points below Neshaminy, I can live with that.
Also, the best middle school at Bristol has Math and Reading scores of 76%. The worse middle school at Neshaminy has has scores of 81 and 82% proficiency. There has to be a good school somewhere in Bristol. So I compared all 13 Neshaminy schools to every school in Bristol. Neshaminy had 37 classes tested in Math and 37 in English. So that is 74 test results. I compared all 74 results to Bristol and found that Neshaminy beat Bristol in all 74 test results. 74 to 0.
What am I missing. Please let us know which schools in Bristol we should use in case we decide to move there.

Thanks.

Gabriel said...

I'm a pretty calm person but I found myself practically cursing at the tv as I watched the rebroadcast. All three Levittown board members humiliated our district, and the comment made by Mr. Eccles - our board president - was unconscionable. You gentlemen were elected to lead, to inspire. All you did was tear down an improving school district and a fine superintendent. You must be very proud of yourselves.

Steve said...

Our test scores in Math from 3 through 8th grade are at an average of 79.9% proficiency and higher. Couple this with an over 20% increase in both Reading and Math in the High School. I would take these results and praise the teachers, administrators and students for the excellent progress rather than call it the darkest day in Neshaminy history. Of course, that is only if you are interested in further advancement rather than discord.

Rebecca said...

Great job Levittown reps. You have outdone yourselves. Once again other districts laugh at us and it has nothing to do with our pssa scores. Do you guys know you are supposed to help our students not hurt them. Kozol said that nobody would want to move to Neshaminy. After their behavior on the board who would want to live here. I wish I could move to a district where all board members actually cared about the students.

Angie said...

My goodness gracious! The board members from Levittown really need to grow up. They are acting like my kindergarders. Mr. Kadri is doing a great job as a superintendent. I have had the opportunity to work with many different superintendents in my educational career. Mr. Kadri is one of the best. These gentlemen from Levittown need to start showing this man some respect.

With respect to the PSSA scores, overall the district did well. So we need a little work in some subgroups. I don't know a district that couldn't use some improvement. I trust that Mr. Kadri and the employees of the school district with come up with a proper correction plan and see that it is implemented well. Let's just hope that the gentlemen from Levittown will support Mr. Kadri with that.

The gentlemen from Levittown that complained that he only had dial up and was unable to access the larger files there are a couple of options. The first option would be to have the district compress the files and send them as a zip folder. I do that all the time for the people in my district. The other option would be to get FIOS or a cable modem.

4thekidz said...

Here we go again-another year of childish games and careless phrases that not only misinform but depress the pride of Neshaminy.
No matter how you interpert the scores we must, to use Mr. Kadri's phrase,'move foreward'.
This phrase is positive, indicating a willingness to move toward the future with strength and conviction. To look at what is and isn't working and do what is right by EVERY student. I believe Mr. Kadri has been able to achieve much with such a contentious and divided board-imagine where we would be with a united, focused plan for our students and our district!!

KClarinet said...

To Angie, I think it was Mr. Koziol who complained that he had only dial-up service. He certainly knows about faster options - he is the head of IT (Information Technology - read computer technology) in the Bristol Township School District.

I must be living in Jersey said...

Let me get this straight, the head of Bristol Schools IT department, and our board member, uses dial up? That's like finding out that the person who runs our transportation department still uses a horse and buggy.

finance-101 said...

Here is a simple question. Does anyone (including board members) know why these 3 Levittown board members do not like Kadri ?