The Manchester Board of School Committee’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee met last night and took in several presentations. Among them was from district official Kristine Pelletier on the merits of joining the Lesley University Literacy Collaborative. To be frank, we’re really not sure what this is, but I half expected the Risen Christ to appear during the presentation to convey His blessings in person. Whatever it is, it will, if approved, which it will be, involve half of the elementary city’s schools in some sort of pilot project and study, of course, that’s designed to collect unspecified data Pelletier says the district’s already generating from things it’s already doing. There seemed to be a real emphasis on staff development and finding quote un quote “the right people” to make it work. The presentation did represent the methods in this collaborative improved student literacy substantially and Pelletier said it would build on things the district was already doing. But critics of the program, like local education advocate Deb Olszta warn it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. A former Nashua resident, Olszta said Lesley’s program was tried with E S L students at the Amherst Street School in Nashua and was a complete disaster. They insisted on exclusive use of Whole Word Language, and said teachers would sneak phonics lessons into class to help the kids understand English and said the experiment was extremely demoralizing for teachers and did nothing to improve the children’s ability to read. She’s also concerned that the teacher training will instill Common Core, the embattled national standards to which the Literacy Collaborative’s Web site says they’re aligned. During last night’s presentation, Pelletier did say there were dedicated units on phonics, so who knows, maybe the program’s changed. In any event, we’ll keep an eye on it.
Also last night, the Hooksett School Board met and had lengthy discussions regarding high school issues. They started to discuss things they did and didn’t want to see in a contract with Pinkerton Academy and or Manchester, as they tinkered with the language of yet another one year enrollment agreement with Pinkerton before making a couple of changes and approving it. I’m thinking it now needs to go back to Pinkerton to get their okay on the changes. One thing they did, at the behest of Superintendent Charles Littlefield, was remove language that said, if approved, Pinkerton would be a satellite school for the district, not a school maintained by it. Not so, said Chucky. After approval by the Board of Education, it would be a school maintained by the district, which makes me wonder if all the other schools they have memorandums of understanding with are also maintained, but I digress. The board, on a four to three vote, finalized the lottery that would determine who gets goes to an over subscribed satellite school. Board Chair Joanne McHugh and members Mike Berry and Jim Sullivan opposed the move on the grounds that siblings of kids already in a school shouldn’t be put into the lottery. Sullivan also managed to get the board to lay the groundwork to evaluated the town building its own high school as they near the end of what they hope will be five year agreements with Pinkerton and Manchester.
On a related note, Manchester School Board Vice Chair David Wihby appointed a special committee to negotiate new terms with Hooksett. The board approved the committee at its meeting on Monday night. Members include Ward One’s Sarah Ambrogi, Ward Three’s Christopher Stewart, Ward Five’s Ted Rokas, Ward Eight’s Erika Connors, and Ward Nine’s Arthur Beaudry.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Things are getting rough in the race for U S Senate. Former Senator Bob Smith put the screws to G O P rival Scott Brown, the former Bay State Senator, during a debate on W M U R’s close up program on Sunday. Smith demanded to know if Brown colluded with state G O P Chair Jennifer Horn to produce the now infamous unity letter demanding that candidates pledge to support the eventual nominee of the party. Brown denied any collusion. In a letter Smith released yesterday, he said he put the question to Horn in a letter on June twentieth and that he was still waiting for a response. He also wrote, quote: “I am asking you a clear and direct question because I have information from sources that I consider to be impeccable and 100% reliable, that in fact, you and/or your staff did participate with Scott Brown and/or representatives of his campaign in the drafting of this letter or, that Brown or his campaign representatives encouraged or directed you to send it out to the U S Senate candidates.” End quote. We have inquired of Horn as to whether or not she has a response, though candidly we don’t expect her to admit she did it if she did.
Meanwhile, Brown announced the endorsement of former Bay State Governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Smith’s campaign issued a statement saying it’s too bad Romney, who summers here in NH, has decided to try and influence the election, saying it’s proof that Smith is galvanizing conservatives and threatening Brown’s campaign. Rival Jim Rubens issued a statement basically saying “of course he did” and “why not?” Brown supported Romney Care, which we all know was the model for Obamacare, and just one piece of proof that Brown supports a government takeover of health care. Rubens took advantage of the endorsement to fault Brown for wanting to grandfather parts of Obamacare and for supporting the expansion of Medicaid in N H.
Oh, and in a move that’s likely to raise eyebrows, Rubens signed the American’s For Prosperity pledge against supporting climate control measures that would have a net increase in taxes. Rubens admitted in an interview on Girard at Large that past proposals of his, including a carbon tax, were quote un quote non starters and that he’d moved to market oriented solutions, but we’re thinking he might have a problem with this one given his long track record on this issue.
Finally this morning, the Bedford Police Department is having an open house tonight from five to eight at the Safety Complex on Constitution Drive and the Manchester Parks and Recreation Division is in desperate need of lifeguards and is not only taking applications, they’re willing to train. They need fifteen! We posted their release on the matter several days ago, but they still need help. We’ve linked to the details for your convenience.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead.