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Not a howe dad



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PostSubject: Gazette Articles   Sun 15 Feb 2009, 11:38 pm

Just a post to recent Schenectady Gazette articles in case you missed them.

Editorial: Ely shouldn't try to silence pesky gadfly
Sunday, February 15, 2009



If it weren’t for the fact that Schenectady School Superintendent Eric Ely has been pushing the somewhat controversial move of a popular elementary magnet school to a troubled middle school building next year, one might be more understanding of his decision to ban a harsh critic of the move from the school district’s electronic bulletin board. But given his conflict of interest, Ely’s move has more than a whiff of censorship.

Ely says he banned John Penetra for violating terms of the discussion board, which all participants must agree to before posting. Specifically, he said, Penetra’s posts — in which he referred to school board members who support the move of Howe International Magnet School into Central Park Middle School as “bums” — violated rules prohibiting personal insults, vulgarity and aggressive or slanderous comments. It’s certainly insulting to call someone a bum (or “idiot,” which is what Penetra told a reporter he’d said). Likewise, imploring district residents to “vote the bums off” the school board in multiple postings sent almost simultaneously would surely qualify as aggressive behavior, and saying they’re “lining their pockets” is slanderous.

But it’s one thing for the superintendent to say he won’t allow such comments and another to ban the person who makes them from ever posting again. In the age of shock jocks and trash talk radio, one person’s idea of “acceptable” public discourse varies greatly from another’s.

Most of the standards for the district’s forum are, at least to some degree, subjective. So Ely probably would have been on firmer ground had he (or his spokeswoman) simply edited the name-calling (as the editors of this page occasionally do to letters to the editors), explained to the writer his reasons, and told him what would be acceptable. Instead, he looks like a tyrant trying to silence a harsh critic.


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Not a howe dad



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PostSubject: Gazette Articles   Sun 15 Feb 2009, 11:47 pm

And another one. There is a comment about this being a bone-headed plan. It wasn't written by me, but perhaps banned member, John Penetra, can make his voice heard through the Gazette editorials and we can post them here. I would love for the board to take on the Gazette's freedom of speech.

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 15
Sunday, February 15, 2009


Plan to move Howe School bad for everyone in Sch’dy
The Schenectady City School District once again is trying to ram through a restructuring proposal that threatens the viability of the city’s neighborhoods and is unlikely to address the problems that plague the district [Feb. 5 Gazette]. Schenectady residents — both those who have children in the schools and those who do not — should let policy makers know they’re outraged at this shortsighted proposal.

Incredibly, the district proposes closing Howe [International Magnet] Elementary School, one of the best-performing schools in the city. Part of a plan to move middle-school children in with younger kids, the proposal won’t reduce class sizes or improve test scores, but will almost certainly drive parents from the district.

Howe is one of those few schools where an active core of parents stays involved, and closing it in favor of the much-larger Central Park school, which is located in a poor, high-crime area, can’t do much to attract young parents faced with a decision of where to buy a first home, or whether to send their children to public schools at all.

What can the board and administration be thinking? Schools don’t exist in a vacuum. Neighborhood schools are the heart of a thriving community. The Upper Union [Street] area is one of the last stable real estate markets in the city. This move will only feed the downward spiral of a shrinking tax base, accelerated by a school system that frightens even the most hardy and idealistic parent.

And what about all the investment in Howe over the past few years? A new bus turnaround was built, and extensive renovations made, all at public expense. Will we taxpayers have to just eat those costs?

This proposal was presented to the public as a done deal. Public input was solicited only to legitimize actions the superintendent and board already intend to take. The academic and budgetary justifications that are provided on the district’s Web site are weak and must be subjected to extensive public scrutiny. Nothing in this proposal will improve student performance. We need smaller class sizes and more of a focus on curriculum that’s tailored to the needs of our students. We also need a school board that considers the impact of its policies on the larger community, not one that arrogantly charges forward, with little respect for real debate or input from voters.

Concerned citizens should call the superintendent’s office to voice their outrage at this bone-headed plan, and should also attend the next school board meeting to let the policy makers know that they can’t just push this through.

Mayor Stratton and the City Council should also show leadership on this issue, since school district actions have such powerful effect on the city’s fiscal and community health.

Thomas O. Carey

Schenectady
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Mary Kay Fenner



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PostSubject: Re: Gazette Articles   Mon 16 Feb 2009, 8:09 am

In regards to the Article by Mr. Thomas O Carey- I feel the need to clear up a few things that you may not understand in regards to this proposal, most specifically the Howe move. First the Howe Building is not slated to close- it is my understanding that it is to become a early childhood- continuing education school. So the idea that the bulding will be closed is false and mis -leading. Howe is a International Magnet School- It is not a neighborhood school- I believe that very few children are pulled from the surrounding neighborhoods. The Magnet program pull from around the city, families from all different ethnic backgrounds, different economic backgrounds. That is the reason that we as a family applied for a Magnet School. I want my children to realize that there are many different families from ours and they all make it work and there is very rarely a right or wrong way. When you state that the Central Prk area is a poor high crime area you are insulting many of the families not only at Howe who live in the Central park area but the Woodlawn families who currently attend Central park are you suggesting that it is o.k. for those families but not for the Howe families? . To the merchants on Upper Union- this is a elementary schoool- and as stated the families are from all around the city- There is no reason to think that any of the families who take advantage of your services now would not continue to. It is just a few streets over the staff at Howe School who may support your businesses would still be able to. The families who currently support your business after school hours- would still continue to do so as my feeling is they live close by.
However one of the biggest problems is this why is any one of us, in our very diverse school district support a meeting which has been quite pubilicly advertised as "All those Opposing" On postings and the newspaper. Why would a County facility support a meeting advertised as all those opposing? Talk about civil rights!

Through all of this win at all cost the bigger picture is being lost- We as a school district are continuing to send our children into failing middle school systems. Many Many people have forgotten that this is about education of all children within the district. I want my children and all children to succeed because of school not in spite of school.
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butterball



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PostSubject: Re: Gazette Articles   Mon 16 Feb 2009, 10:48 am

Mary Kay Fenner wrote:
The Magnet programs pull from around the city, families from all different ethnic backgrounds, different economic backgrounds. That is the reason that we as a family applied for a Magnet School. I want my children to realize that there are many different families from ours and they all make it work and there is very rarely a right or wrong way.

This is true all over the district. The very many languages that are spoken at Paige and cultures that are represented make it a fabulously diverse environment. We have families from diverse econmic backgrounds as well. I agree, that is why I choose to send my children to Schenectady - they will be so much more prepared for life in the "real world" having grown up being exposed to the fabulous diversity that is life - not seeing people of different color as being scary or people who dress differently as being weird.

When you state that the Central Park area is a poor high crime area you are insulting many of the families not only at Howe who live in the Central park area but the Woodlawn families who currently attend Central park.

I agree with this as well. We as a district need to stop the us/them thing about the Central Park area - or any of the neighborhoods of our great city.

To the merchants on Upper Union- this is a elementary schoool- and as stated the families are from all around the city- There is no reason to think that any of the families who take advantage of your services now would not continue to. It is just a few streets over the staff at Howe School who may support your businesses would still be able to. The families who currently support your business after school hours- would still continue to do so as my feeling is they live close by.

I'm with you here as well. The Upper Union Street merchants are one of the gems of the city. People will not stop supporting them regardless of where their kids go to school.

However one of the biggest problems is this why is any one of us, in our very diverse school district support a meeting which has been quite pubilicly advertised as "All those Opposing" On postings and the newspaper. Why would a County facility support a meeting advertised as all those opposing? Talk about civil rights!

This is where we differ. People have a variety of reasons to oppose this plan. If they want to voice their opposition, they are free to do so. As long as it's done respectfully, it can be a civics lesson for our kids. Freedom of Speech is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. You have had your say. Allow others to have theirs.

Through all of this win at all cost the bigger picture is being lost- We as a school district are continuing to send our children into failing middle school systems.

I disagree here too. The middle schools in our city are great. I have gotten to know the staff at CPMS very well. They are the most knowledgable, caring and dedicated people you'll want to meet. The population that is failing is the children already identified as being in special education. 6th ,7th and 8th grades are the sink or swim years for these kids. The NCLB tests get harder in magnitude each year and kids who already have a difficult time learning the information and/or comprehending what the questions are asking will have a very difficult time passing these tests, despite their hard working teachers and very involved parents. I know. I have a child who finds learning of core cirriculum difficult. The great thing about Schenectady is that there is a place for each of these kids too. The different houses of SHS allow them to find an area of expertise and flourish there. My son can't wait until he can go to the John Sayes School of Fine Arts. That's when he will shine. (If we had a Pat Riley School of Kinisthetic Learners, he'd do even better!)

Many Many people have forgotten that this is about education of all children within the district. I want my children and all children to succeed because of school not in spite of school.

Nobody has forgotten this, Mary Kay. We all feel that way. We just differ about the best way for all our kids to succeed.
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teachermom



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PostSubject: Re: Gazette Articles   Mon 16 Feb 2009, 7:39 pm

Many Many people have forgotten that this is about education of all children within the district. I want my children and all children to succeed because of school not in spite of school.

Nobody has forgotten this, Mary Kay. We all feel that way. We just differ about the best way for all our kids to succeed.

butterball- I also agree if MKF is that concerned with ALL of the children in the district then she should be more outraged at the proposed model of ultimately making Oneida and Mount Pleasant 7-8 buildings when ALL of the educational research clearly states that is the WORST model for middle level students, but at that point who cares because obviously her children would be in a K-8 at CP. I have stated this on past posts but no one seems to want to address it.
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Get Involved



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PostSubject: Re: Gazette Articles   Mon 16 Feb 2009, 8:36 pm

(If we had a Pat Riley School of Kinisthetic Learners, he'd do even better!)


I am not advocating for another house at Schenectady High School. However, I really like this idea (as suggested by Butterball). The Pat Riley School of Kinisthetic Learners. What an appeal that would have to so many of our students who currently feel isolated from the concept offered by other houses and do not feel any affiliation to the other houses. Can you imagine how attractive that would sound to so many of our students who are all about sports. If this concept was presented appropriately (the right type of elective classes, field trips, guest speackers etc) I believe that we could possible keep a few more students in school and lower the drop out rate.
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lafeal



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PostSubject: Re: Gazette Articles   Mon 16 Feb 2009, 9:47 pm

Be careful what House your child chooses in High School. I heard it as hard to get out of a house if you didn't like it. But that just hear say. I also heard the programs at the High School are great.
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jazz4474



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PostSubject: Re: Gazette Articles   Mon 16 Feb 2009, 10:10 pm

I am in tears right now over what has happened to our Howe community. As a homeowner and taxpayer who lives on top of the hill by CPMS I am truly insulted by the words of some of the people on this board. Maybe I should just pull both of my children from Howe right now because this is not the community that I signed them up for. It is obvious from some of the postings that some of you seem to think that my children are not worthy to attend Howe with your wonderful children. When we moved back to NY from Florida, my husband and I could have bought a house anywhere in the area, we chose to move back to Schenectady. We believed in this city and the school system. We wanted diversity and for them to be tolerant of others. I have never encountered a more intolerant group than what I have seen here.

Just so the doubters who believe that where the school is is a low class, high crime area know, I have a BS degree and work for an health insurance company, my hubby is a truck driver, 3 neighbors work for the state, 2 are RN's and a couple are in the military. That is just a few of my neighbors who live in this area. We are hard working, middle class people trying to raise our families and make our little area of Schenectady great. Not that I or my neighbors should have to justify anything to anyone.

Is my neighborhood perfect? No, but guess what all: neither is yours. I have lived in Mont Pleasant, Woodlawn and now here. I had some issues in all places. It goes with life in the city. I grew up in farm town; we had issues there too. Went to college at St Rose: issues there ( the young man that got shot a couple of months ago).
Unfortunately, that is the world that we currently live in. Let our children be together and learn together for as long as they possibly can before they reach the high school and ultimately the big cruel world out there.
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Mary Kay Fenner



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PostSubject: Re: Gazette Articles   Tue 17 Feb 2009, 9:11 am

I need to clear up a mis-understanding I stated that it was a article that I was addressing it was not it was a letter to the Editor in the Gazette.
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