“This was an agreement developed with O C R and the administrative team. Board approval was not required.” That’s what Manchester Superintendent Debra Livingston wrote in an email responding to our inquiry on the settlement between the school district and the U S Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights on Friday when she forwarded the agreement at our request. Interestingly, we received Livingston’s reply to the inquiry we originally made on April twenty third about an hour after Girard at Large listeners posted links to it on the federal department’s Web site on the Girard at Large Facebook page. A review of the fed’s press release, the document itself and the transmittal letter calls into question the motivation behind the administration’s apparent move to de-level city classrooms. In the settlement, the feds complained that black, Hispanic and English Language Learner students were underrepresented in A P level classes. In their statement to the press, the D O E singled out leveling as a potential cause for what they termed discrimination, writing quote “investigators found that the potential barriers to greater participation in higher-level learning opportunities included the assignment of freshman high school students to academic ‘levels’ based largely on performance testing and the fact that changes out of the assigned levels are infrequently made.” End quote. The agreement entered into by the administration without prior notice to or approval from the Board of School Committee requires the district to quote“Specifically assess the impact of assigning students to academic ‘levels’ upon arrival at the high schools on their participation in higher-level learning opportunities, and consider eliminating the system of student assignment to levels or altering the current criteria or method of implementation.” End quote. No doubt, you will hear that this topic was and has been an agenda item on the Curriculum and Instruction Committee since before the settlement was announced to the school board during its April fourteenth meeting. Don’t believe for a minute the two aren’t connected, by the way. Because the board was informed of the settlement under the Superintendent’s Communications agenda item, it was not on the agenda or otherwise available to the public. We’ll have more on this during the show.
In a follow up to a story we brought you a couple of weeks ago, the State Senate killed a proposed sales tax on paint. We just thought we’d let you know that you can now rest assured the fun that is painting and watching it dry will still be tax free in N H. At least the senate got that one right.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Administrators in the Gilford School District released a statement on Friday admitting policies were violated by the teacher who required her freshman English class to read the book
Ninteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult without first gaining parental consent. Parent William Baer, who will be our guest later in this hour, accidentally discovered the book among his daughter’s school work and didn’t take too kindly to its contents after taking a look. We broke the story Friday, thanks to a listener who brought it to our attention and introduced us to Baer. In the statement, administrators defended the book’s use saying it had” thematic importance and noted it had been used for several years, despite graphic depictions of physical violence in public schools and an incident of sexual violence. They said that on Monday, which is today, notices, which had been sent home in prior years, would be sent to the parents of all children to whom the book has been assigned. We are awaiting answers to questions we sent in follow up to the announcement and we’ll share those with you later this morning.
The Founders Academy Foundation announced the purchase of their new school site at 5 Perimeter Rd. in Manchester. Construction will begin immediately on the 60,000 square foot building that will house The Founders Academy Public Charter School, a new school we featured on Girard at Large last week. The school plans to be ready to accept its first hundred students this coming September. The Foundation is a non profit organization set up to support the school, which will be the first public classical school in New Hampshire. They plan to opening with grades six, seven and eight, and add a grade each year until they reach full capacity as a grade six through twelve high school. We’ve linked to our interview and uploaded their press release so you can get all the details.
Jim Rubens, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report for April: “This unemployment number conceals the horrible state of the job market. Unemployment rate fell 0 . 4 % in April because one million people have simply given up looking for work. When these unemployed people are counted in the U-6 numbers, the real unemployment rate is 1 2 . 3%… These numbers are an indictment of the failed big-government policies of President Obama and his rubber-stamp Jeanne Shaheen.”