Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A welcome diversion

In the midst of our economic woes we sometimes overlook the most important reason we're here - the education of our children. I recently saw a video clip made a few years ago featuring an annual event held at Sandburg entitled Farragut's Follies. While they no longer have FF at Sandburg, this is a wonderful display of how innovation and creativity is taught in Neshaminy.



Pianomom said...

Thank you for posting something that has nothing to do with the budget. Your blog lately has turned into the JS/ACS/KClarinet show. I don't mean to suggest their opinions aren't important or that the budget isn't an important topic. It's just that your blog has become a little one dimensional lately and is probably why some of your other regular posters haven't been around lately.

I never heard of the follies before but wish I had. That would have been an event I would have called out sick from work to see and I don't even have a child at Sandburg.

Wing Man said...

I've criticized the teachers over their contract so it's only fair I give credit to where it's due. This is/was a great way to teach the students lessons in innovation, creativity, teamwork, etc. Thank you for posting this William.

KClarinet said...

Unfortunately, innovation, creativity and teamwork aren't tested in the PSSA or counted into AYP - which is probably why this activity was stopped.

I must be living in Jersey said...

Ok, who invited Debbie Downer?

Erik said...

Very cool.

KClarinet said...

I'm sorry - it's just hard to resist. NCLB has school districts everywhere so [messed] up right now. I promise not to rain on anyone's sunny day next time.

Ivy League said...

As it is midnight, and sleep eludes me, I find myself checking the blogs and watching the rebroadcast of the 3-24-09 NSD school board meeting.

The board meeting is amusing (in a freak show kind-of-way), while the Farragut's Follies video you posted is pure enjoyment. But I do take issue with the title you choose in the posting; what you call a "diversion," I call a "distraction."

We were all hot on discussing the heroic efforts and recent partnership between the negotiators for both the board and the administrators, when... WHAMO... all of a sudden...the conversation was over and in its place was... Don Polec? Reporting on Farragut's Follies?

Make no mistake, I love this kind of stuff, but forgive me for finding the timing suspect.

You see, a couple of days ago, I asked a simple, but important question of you.

I asked you directly because I respect your honesty and promptness in communicating with your constituents. I also figured since you offered Mr. Spitz and Mr. Webb your "applause and admiration" you must know, and fully support, the specific details of the offer.

So you can imagine my dubiety when the question remained, not only unanswered, but more disturbingly... completely ignored.

I re-watched the board meeting in search of answers. Perhaps I had missed something during the original broadcast. Alas, there was no additional information which would help explain the principals' temerarious ratification.

At the end of the meeting, during public comment, some guy, (who talks a lot and hates, with a capital H, teachers...but his name escapes me at the moment) did ask to see the entire proposal only to be informed by Mr. Webb and Mr. Prophy that the board would not be making any further comment. NO COMMENT...

I am going to pause here because I want to make sure the irony/hypocrisy/whatever you want to call it, settles in.

Where is the public outcry, especially from what's-his-name?

After all, the bloggers and public go ballistic when the NFT declines to comment while they are attempting to negotiate. I guess it's okay when the board declines to comment AFTER THEY HAVE NEGOTIATED AND THE ADMINISTRATORS RATIFIED IT.

Why wouldn't the board respond? Why won't you? What is being hidden?

I think I know why. I am convinced there is some sort of escape clause or a grandfather clause which enables the principals to benefit by the teachers' and/or support staff contracts.

If this is not true, and nothing more than a half-baked conspiracy theory hatched as a result of too much time on my hands, then I apologize in advance to: you, the rest of the Board and the principals and anyone else I may have upset, except what's-his-name. I may also need to analyze some of my convictions.

But if I am right... oh my...

William I ask you once again to find out and shed light on the issue: "Is there any clause, or language that enables the principals to benefit retroactively once the teachers and/or the support staff settle?"

I will leave you with a favorite quote of grandma's: "A half truth is a whole lie."

I think we deserve whole truths.

William O'Connor said...

Ivy League, you really should try warm milk, Tylenol PM or counting sheep.

Just as Ritchie Webb limited his responses at the previous board meeting based on advice of counsel, I too am obliged not to comment further on the details of the admin contract. Personally I don't see what the big fuss is - I've seen the offer and am confident it is fair and appropriate, and I have no problem with the public seeing the details of it. But that is the advice we've been given by our solicitor, and so I can comment no further.

Regarding the timing of the FF video, now you really are letting conspiracy theory get the best of you. At last week's Technology Committee meeting, Mr. Reed showed us that video clip while talking about tech ed in the district. I'd never seen it before and asked him for a copy so I could post it on my blog. A couple days later, vuala!

I'll see your GrandMa's quote and I'll raise it with a Freud . . . sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Think4urself said...

I guess you could call me a blog stalker as I have followed your blog and the comments on phillyburbs for years without commenting.

I am a taxpayer who graduated from Neshaminy and our 3 kids currently attend Neshaminy. When my husband and I got married I told him I wanted to stay in the Neshaminy school district, he balked, but only because he went to Council Rock. I won and my husband is the first to admit our kids are receiving the best education.

I do feel the need, after many years, to finally say my piece. I am sick and tired of these retirees and naysayers standing up and demanding low taxes. The Greatest Generation sacrificed, scrimped, saved, and valued education, they did not whine, they did not complain about providing for their elders and planning for future generations to come. They suffered and survived worse economic times than we have yet to see (and hopefully won't). They are the parents of the Baby Boomers.

These Baby Boomers should be renamed the Whiniest Generation. I can't even imagine living in that Flowers Mills development where they have taken the art of complaining to a whole new level.

After analyzing their statements on the Nesh. channel I have compiled a list of their strategies.

1. Ignore the facts: they only complicate matters.
Complain about having higher taxes and forget the fact that your home is worth at least $460,000 and that you have a nice car, vacation often and are enjoying your retirement. A $500 tax raise would affect them how? One less bus trip to New York? Doesn't seem like a lot to give up, their parents gave up a lot more.

Believe me, I hope to be able to have the same experience when my hubby and I finally get to retire, or should I say "if"?

2. Always exaggerate. For example, stand up and tell the entire world that "these poor kids in school are losing respect for their teachers because of this controversy and bickering back and forth. it will take years for these kids to regain the trust in their teachers."


Forget the fact that he's talking Kids. Kids can go from BFFs to arch enemies and back to BFFs all during a 5 minute locker break. (I know because my daughter does it at least twice a week). Kids are resilient and are not at all impacted by this. My kids love their teachers and have not even mentioned it.

3. Always compare the present state of education with your past experience.

Remind everyone how when you went to school you had 85 kids in your class, one text book and A pencil that your entire family shared to do homework with. Tell them how you could recite Silas Mariner verbatim but kids today can't make change at Walgreens because of these God@!#% teachers! (notice in this example how I skillfully used tips 2 and 3!)

4. Act like you understand the jobs you know nothing about and could never, in a million years do.

Go ahead, just talk to a complainer about the job of a teacher--they know it all and could do it better, except they didn't and don't.

Please don't misunderstand, I know there are people at every stage of life in our community who are suffering, it has not been easy on us, but we value the education of our kids and all kids, so we make choices. But really, I don't want to hear anymore from retirees who are living in houses many can't afford and then complaining. I am not even going to talk about their Social Security and medicare benefits, etc.

5. Convince everyone that the union and the teachers are 2 different groups.

Act like the Nesh. teachers have discoverd a way to get Tony Soprano to be their union leader.
Stand up and beg the teachers to "talk to your union. tell your union to ...."

My friends who are Neshaminy teachers tell me, "We are the union"

I know this is a bit of a rant, and off topic, but I agree with a lot of what Ivy is saying and asking, how come we aren't hearing about the principals contract? Is there something in it for them by settling earlier than the teachers? How come it's okay for the board to take the advice of their lawyer and stay quiet but we exploit it when the teachers are.

And as far as Larry Pastor's comment: parents really wanted to sign but were afraid of retaliation? Double, triple horsepuckey. I can't help but think this guy is positioning himself to run for something, or he's collecting names because he wants to start his own cult.

Ahh.. I feel better. Thanks William!

Pianomom said...

I know how you feel Think4urself. The behavior by many seniors in our community has negatively effected the way I feel abou them. Every time I see one of them eating dinner at an expensive restaurant, it angers me they couldn't give up that one high priced meal for our kids. I have felt this way since the high school referendum.

Blume said...

I do think the board's offer to the Administrators was very fair, regardless of any grandfather clauses, and I hope the board continues down this same path with the teachers. But please William don't get influenced by all those angry taxpayers who are criticizing our teachers and are demanding pay cuts and having them pay 50% of benefits. We want a reasonable contract but one that also attracts good teachers. Thank you for posting this video too. Too many people are forgetting about our students in all this.

KClarinet said...

It's good to read the comments posted by Think4urself. I would make only one small correction. Not all Baby Boomers are among the whiners of a "Whiniest Generation." I for one, though an early Boomer (born in 1947) and retired, agree with you on every other point in your post.

I can deal with taxes now far better than I will be able to deal with the result of education "on the cheap" when this generation of students becomes the next generation of working adults. Good education doesn't come cheaply, and it isn't indicated solely by scores on a standardized test.

Those who truly can't contribute to supporting it need to be helped or outright forgiven their share. Until I can no longer both pay my school taxes and eat, I will pay my share without complaining. It's my investment in the future.

Ivy League said...

Think4... LOL... funny stuff! I would for the record like to state that my parents are seniors who basically are embarrassed by the seniors who, in my dad's words, "are focused on all the wrong things." My parents know the value of a good education and what it did for me, how could they possibly deny future generations the same?

William, first I would love to sit down and share a cigar with you sometime ... but first... I do need to point out the irony in your ante....

When Freud purportedly said, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," he was in fact contradicting himself! (you know...the whole oral fixation thing...) so I wonder if your choice of quote is "Freudian" in and of itself?

I was away for a few days with the family; my brother-in-law happens to be in a union (no not a teachers one) and he told me to ask specifically if there is any "me too" language in the principals' contract. He explained it to me, do you know what "me too" language is?

I know the lawyers are requesting you to not answer questions about the principals contract specifically, but can you at least tell me if you know what "me too" language means?

Hey... where has Nostradamus been? Maybe he knows what it means...

William O'Connor said...

Welcome back, Ivy League. Thanks for the offer but I don't smoke, however if you're in the mood to crack open a couple of Yuenglings sometime, I'm there!

I'm well aware of the Freud quote and, pretty much like everything in life, it's open to interpretation. My point for using it of course is that things aren't always what they may seem to be.

Yes, I know what a Me too clause is. It's an equity clause, also referred to as Most Favored Nation Status, which guarantees that one party shall not receive inferior terms and/or conditions to other parties under a similar contract.

Don't know where Nostradamus is - not my turn to watch him.

sk.langhorne said...

I frequent a Langhorne restaurant that is a on the pricey side. As I was waiting for an open table a few nights ago, I overheard a conversation between two couples who were all probably somewhere in their 50's. They were complaining about school taxes, the burdens they faced, and their desire to see programs cut rather than taxes raised. I got so angry and wanted to scream at them - how badly have you been effected by school taxes that you can still come out to one of the more expensive restaurants in Langhorne? If you are that broke, shouldn't you be eating at Friendly's instead, or better yet staying at home?

I'm sure they're the type who voted against the new high school years ago, and yet the price of their dessert this night probably equals what the difference in taxes annually would have been had we passed that referendum. God forbid they give up dessert for our children.

I'm all for responsible spending but tax payers today are way too greedy. They don't want their life style effected one bit and they would rather cut educational programs so they can still enjoy an expensive dinner out.

I'll always remember one school board meeting years ago during the high school referendum. One of the Flowers Mills seniors got up to the podium to complain how neither they or their neighbors could afford a tax increase. They were broke and were considering a move to Delaware. They ended their speech by stating that more of their friends from Flowers Mills would have been at the meeting except they were all on a bus trip to an Atlantic City Casino.

Think4urself is right - we've gone from the greatest generation to the greediest generation.

nostradamus said...

Slowly they slink back to the blog. First it was JS, then KClarinet, now Ivy League. Only ACS is missing from the alternate personalities rattling around the head of Mr. Rodus - a sure sign that he has, in fact, ESCAPED from the New Jersey treatment facility challenged to restore his mental health. Already the echos of "full day kindergarten! full day kindergarten!" can be heard by the helpless school board members who now know that Rodus will return - perhaps stronger, more determined than ever.

Rodus will not speak at Tuesday's meeting as it will be a time to unveil the new administrators contract. Mr. Pastor will rise to the podium, having overcome his annoying habit of spontaneously combusting at board meetings, and present the board with a giant Easter egg with 50 signatures on it from citizens demanding that teachers are fired ... or drawn and quartered, whichever is easiest ... and less expensive.

The administrators contract will contain a "me too" clause. Some in the public will condemn that clause saying it could cost taxpayers millions down the road when the teachers sign their agreement. Others will say it prevents the board from caving into the teachers' contract demands. Most of the public won't care. In the end it will be a forgotten, moot point because the teachers will not sign their agreement this year or next.

My prediction: The school board and teachers will not reach an agreement until after the dragon has extinguished its next candle.

Tim said...

Not sure when Nostradamus is being serious and when he's kidding. Maybe a little of both in this one. But what does he mean by the dragon reference? Sorry if I'm overlooking the obvious. Help anyone?

Ivy League said...

Tim, I'm not sure, but I think it means Nostradamus played A LOT of Dungeons & Dragons in middle school.

William O'Connor said...

I assumed it was a reference to the Chinese New Year. According to Wikipedia the next year of the dragon is 2012.

I know nothing of Dungeons and Dragons and have no idea if this reference makes sense in that context.

Ivy League said...

The "D&D" comment was just an attempt at a joke; I have no idea how to play it.

I interpreted the original comment to mean "contradictory and/or impossible" because it would kinda be contradictory and impossible for a fire-breathing dragon to extinguish a candle?

But, what the hell do I know?

I do think it's time to get off Rodos's back. The guy happens to care a lot about full day kindergarten. It's nice to hear from someone, especially a retiree, who actually comes to the podium to talk about real educational issues. At least he's not mean-spirited, fear monger, like what's-his-face.