Gatsas:  Private funds flow for signature education initiative

Gatsas: Private funds flow for signature education initiative

Several major companies and foundations have, so far, contributed one hundred sixty four thousand dollars to Manchester’s FIRST® Junior STEAM Ahead program.  The Argosy Foundation, Autodesk, Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation and Texas Instruments have contributed funds to bring the popular FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) program into fourth grade classrooms.  Fourth graders will not only practice skills such as computer programming, team-building and effective communication, but also start to understand the scientific process and creative problem-solving to find innovative solutions to real-world issues.  As part of the program, members of the business community are also giving their time and technical expertise every week.  Mentors from SilverTech, Wasabi Ventures, Autodesk, DEKA, FIRST, NH High Tech Council, Fuentek, Robbins Farley, and Salesforce/Cloud for Good provide hands-on guidance to students in the classroom.  We’ve published and linked to the Manchester School District’s release on the matter from this newscast at Girard at Large dot com.

Merrimack PD coffee with a copThe Merrimack Police Department will host “Coffee With a Cop” this morning at Hot Rize, located at six thirty four Daniel Webtster Highway, not far from our friends at Auto Care Plus, from nine thirty to eleven.    The department is inviting those who work and live in town to join members of the Department to chat about any and all concerns or just pop in and say hi to introduce yourself.  Coffee with a Cop is a community policing initiative now deployed by several departments in the region to provide a casual, relaxed atmosphere where citizens and police officers can get to know each other and learn what’s going on in the hope of strengthening communications and cooperative bonds.  Merrimack was recently recognized as the nineteenth safest small community in the whole country!

Ready to enforce road weight limits

Ready to enforce road weight limits

Officials in Goffstown are warning they will soon post load and weight restrictions on town roads during the spring thaw period. Can’t wait for that to arrive.  They’ve issued notice per R S A 2 3 1 : 1 9 1, that the town’s load limit policy will become effective in early March for posted roads. This is done to prevent roadway damage and to protect the large infrastructure investment the town has made.  The Department of Public Works is asking that residents make every effort to coordinate deliveries such as fuel and building supplies before the posting date occurs or wait until the road postings are lifted.  Typically the posting starts the 1st or 2nd week of March and last approximately 4-6 weeks from the initial posting date. Waivers will be issued by the D P W on an emergency basis only as conditions allow.  Inasmuch as this is state law, visit the Our Backyard page of Girard at Large dot com and click on your town to discover when restrictions will go into effect.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

A call to action

A call to action

Is the Manchester Education Association going to take a more active and visible role in the coming city elections?  Their two most recent newsletters to members suggests it might be.  In January, the M E A wrote quote “It is important to focus on the long-range goals of collective action to support and promote public education.  We are still under attack at all levels of policy-making…The more voices, the more red shirts, the more signs, the more conversations-that is our strength!”

More "collective action" urged

More “collective action” urged

In February, the newsletter urged quote “Education is our calling and while students may not understand that electing the wrong candidate could mean fewer programs, larger classrooms, and less access to technology, WE DO.  We have a responsibility to our students to keep protecting their interests…Advocating for education does not stop when the polls close…we have to hold elected officials accountable for their promises…It is our job to ensure our collective voice continues to drive the conversation, in every election cycle, at every level.  Manchester is the largest NEA local in New Hampshire with close to 1,000 members.  We CAN use our collective voice to impact the conversation and policy for our students and education in Manchester!”

The newsletters urge members to show up at meetings of the Board of School Committee, participate in “Red Fridays,” which is when they are asked to wear red clothing to school in a show of solidarity and always wear, proudly, their M E A pins each and everyday.

Gage:  Parents cant opt out

Gage: Parents cant opt out

Finally this morning, it looks like the State Department of Education is doubling down on its position that parent’s can’t, outside the exemptions provided for in law, opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  In testimony given to the legislature on House Bill 6 0 3 on Friday, the bill that would enshrine in law a parent’s existing right to refuse their children’s participation in statewide standardized tests, NH Department of Education Chief of Staff Heather Gage said the law requires all children to take the test proscribed by the state and that parents don’t have the option of opting their children out.  Of course, that sidesteps the issue of whether or not parents can simply refuse to have their children take the test,which, of course, they can; something DOE admitted in saying there is not penalty imposed on students who don’t take the test or parents who refuse to let them.

Barry:  Local control reduced to addressing absences.

Barry: Local control reduced to addressing absences.

In a technical advisory issued by the D O E, Education Commissioner Virginia Barry directed districts to handle student absences from the test as they would handle any other absence.  In case you missed it, that’s their definition of local control.

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!