Home Forums Live Blog Forum Commissioner Barry, Chairman Raffio come to the Manchester School Board

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  • #29677
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    The meeting begins at 7PM with Public Participation, then continues with the appearance of NH Commisisoner of Ed Virginia Barry and State Board of Education Chair Tom Raffio.

    #29694
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    Patrice Benard.
    Good evening. My name is Mrs. Patrice Benard and I live at 31 Aurore Ave. I am pleased that Commissioner Barry has accepted the Board’s invitation and that you, our elected officials, will be able to finally ask your questions and get the answers we need to help make the best decisions for our children’s education here in the Queen City.

    As you listen to the Commissioner this evening, I would ask all of you to please keep in mind the many characteristics and demographics that make this City and this School District one-of-a-kind. What may look or sound good in Concord, NH, or Washington, DC, may not always work here in Manchester where we live within a community that is both culturally and economically diverse.

    Manchester is a city like no other. The NH Center for Public Policy compiled data that showed us some of the staggering statistics that we must always keep in mind. While we are the largest city in the state, our median household income falls well below the state average. Most of our population does not live in single family homes. The percent of our population that is foreign born is more than double that of the entire state. Almost 18 percent of our citizens live in homes where English is not the primary language, compared to only 8 percent state-wide. Our poverty rate is much higher than the state-wide rate, even higher than the nation-wide rate. Births to unwed mothers and single women on Medicaid are at an alarming level. Although our District school enrollment in declining, the numbers of children qualifying for free or reduced lunch is climbing. Yet, here in the Queen City, we continue to offer options in education that cannot be found anywhere else in this state.

    Here you will find the home of STEAM Ahead, and it’s younger sibling, Jr. STEAM Ahead. Manchester has developed a K-12 Autism program that is like no other. The Manchester School of Technology continues to educate students to the level where many of our students are competing and winning recognition at the national level in their chosen fields. Manchester houses a noteworthy Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program that draws students from all over the state.

    Manchester is the education center for all of NH. Here in Manchester, not only are we home to over 20 public schools within the Manchester School District, we are also home to a number of private, parochial, and charter schools. Manchester is proud to say that a number of colleges and universities have chosen our city for their campus. We, as a community, have embraced education, and education initiatives and have no desire to turn our back on any child who wants to learn.
    However, in a city of this size, with the diversity which we welcome here, many federal and state programs or grants attach strings that do not take into account our unique nature. They say the ‘devil’s in the details’ and that has certainly proven true in our case. The Mayor has repeatedly asked for a waiver for our English Language Learners. He was promised a waiver if SB 48 passed. But the details proved that not only would our ELL students have to take statewide tests, our Districts would be required to fall in line with the Common Core State Standards and accompanying tests. So when you speak with the Commissioner tonight, make sure you ask about the details of programs and grants she dangles before you.

    When you speak with her about money, make sure you make it perfectly clear that Manchester is not a wasteful district, but that unfunded mandates by the Federal and State Departments of Education are bankrupting our District. The Individuals with Disabilities Act is law, but no one wants to give us back our money to fully fund our Special Needs in this District. We were threatened with the withholding of funds to our neediest students if we did not bow to the Smarter Balanced testing. It is time for bureaucrats to stop holding our own tax dollars hostage.

    Remember that no one knows Manchester’s needs better than Manchester citizens. We have elected you to oversee the education of our youngest citizens. We have not elected you to cede control to outside agencies. I ask you tonight to always remember that Local Control is the backbone of this nation and needs to become the hallmark of education in this city once again. Our teachers know our students. It is time to empower them to do what needs to be done. It is time to take back and hold fast to Local Control.

    #29695
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    BJ Perry.

    Son is student in Special Needs Program at Jewett Street School. Flourishing. Listing accomplishments since joining school in Sept. Lauding staff and program.

    Treating students like every other student is the best way for them to thrive.

    Angered and personally hurt when members of the board complain about the cost and burden of special needs students. Nobody wishes for a special needs child. They are blessings and make us all better people. they get more because they need more. Please speak respectfully of them and remember we are parents in this community and we vote.

    (good speech, but seemed a bit off topic.)

    #29696
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    Jim O’Connell.

    My views reflect a significant number of parents. Be wary of those who shout the loudest, there’s a silent majority. (Funny, actually, given he’s a shouter and the silent majority keeps voting against his point of view!)

    Giving kudos to Parker Varney. Second “SIG” school to shed that status.

    Drop out numbers dropping, despite being “under resourced.”

    Please don’t take your foot off the metal when you talk to the aldermen tomorrow night about the school district’s budget.

    #29697
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    Doris Hohensee, NH Families for Education

    Commissioner’s PACE Program is a concern. Promised Feds all districts will move into PACE. It’s not voluntary and it requires transition to Common Core.

    Not locally developed tests, regions will be established, develop and grade tests. Feds want one uniform test, thus the regions. Term regional mentioned 96 times in waiver application. Was NHSBA Ex. Dir. Ted Comstock right when he said the Commish wanted to eliminate local control.

    Testing not reduced, increased. Eliminates 4 Smarter Balanced tests, gives 30 weekly tests.

    #29698
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    Ann Marie Banfield, Cornerstone Action Education Liason.

    Dr. Gary Thompson, among more than 500 other licensed clinical psychologists, have said tests developmentally inappropriate.

    Our interview with Thompson is here: http://www.girardatlarge.com/?s=gary+thompson&submit.x=0&submit.y=0

    Also, Banfield’s testimony was a synopsis of what she’s published here: http://www.girardatlarge.com/2015/05/how-the-feds-took-over-the-manchester-public-schools/

    #29699
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    Tom Raffio: Defending Barry, praising her leadership. None of what was said was true. It’s like, in my profession, people saying fluoride is bad (he owns Delta Dental Insurance) you can get them to say anything. Respected nationwide for how wonderfully things are going here in NH.

    #29700
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    Giving Barry credit for the development of the Manchester School of Technology and all the waivers it needed to get underway.

    Now reading letter from Pat Snow, Federal Projects Coordinator, for state’s help with Innovation Zone (which was nothing more than than the state’s plan to improve schools.)

    Taking credit for STEAM Ahead, now, too.

    Knows there is controversy over meeting with board. 4 meetings with the mayor, including two with him. We’ve met (yeah, that’s the problem,)

    I’ve been in soo many places where NH is looked to for leading the way and he doesn’t want that to be erroded.

    #29701
    Patrice Benard
    Participant

    Chairman Raffio now speaking. I am listening over the internet so there will be a slight delay of about 2 minutes.

    #29702
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    Isn’t addressing the criticisms, just saying they’re inaccurate.

    His obligation is to adhere to state and federal law. Vet a lot of my material with the AG’s office.

    I’ve been saying this for 18 months, what I have to do is follow state and federal law.

    State Board wasn’t opposed to charter schools. had to stop approving them 2 years ago because the money ran out. They’ve approved every charter school that has come before them.

    #29703
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    Dismisses PACE criticism, says it will reduce testing.

    #29704
    Patrice Benard
    Participant

    Interesting how Raffio pats Supt Livingston on the back. Spends a lot of time tooting his own horn.

    #29705
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    reading from RSAs to justify the actions of the board and department. Says they “totally get local control.” Despite the mandates of state law, it’s still up to local schools to do what they believe best, as long as it meets or exceeds standards and stays within frameworks.

    Now reading assessment laws. He will not, I’m sure, mention that the Smarter Balanced Assessment doesn’t meet the mandates of the law.

    Ooo, just admitted that IF districts accept fed sped funds, they voluntarily subject themselves to the mandates.

    #29706
    Rich Girard
    Keymaster

    Saying the law does not allow parents to opt out. Probably wouldn’t have sent the letter. If 95% threshold isn’t met, test not valid, not measuring academic progress. On to PACE. Only 4 districts in the country NOT taking Smarter Balanced/PARCC test.

    Now going back to email from district saying it didn’t want to participate. This is an issue long ago settled.

    #29707
    Patrice Benard
    Participant

    Says Manchester declined opportunity to participate in PACE due to Standards.

    NH State Board has set standards since the 90’s. Always subject to local school district. RSA 193e opens with a statement about providing all students with a wonderful opportunity for life, etc. (I will post that RSA on the GAL FB page later.)

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