One track mind?

No, I don't have a one track mind. My mind is often on 10 things at the same time. Right now, for example, I am making dinner, helping N with homework, chatting with a friend on FB and blogging. I am also thinking about where I will put all the crap on the kitchen table when it's time to eat, wondering about the dog's not-so-good tummy and thinking about a former co-worker. I'm also planning timing so we make it to Tae Kwan Do tonight - hopefully on time.

At times I am also thinking about the school's upcoming budget vote. I'm on the Superintendent's "key communicators" list - which is just a fancy name for an e-mailing list. Usually it is useful information. Lately I feel like these mails have come straight from "Spin City".  Here is an example from this week:

April 12, 2010



Dear Key Communicators,



Budget Topic of the Day:  Is Reading Recovery being eliminated and if so, how will the needs of struggling readers be met?

This may be the topic that is most misunderstood right now.  People seem to think that the district is eliminating or severely reducing its ability to help struggling learners.  This is not true.



The bottom line is that the district currently has 48.5 teachers, K-12, employed to work with students struggling in reading and/or math – in many districts this is known as their Basic Skills program, and is required by State Code.  Our program is called, Response to Intervention, and it is comprised of Reading Recovery teachers and Intervention Specialists.  There are 17.5 Reading Recovery teachers and they follow a proprietary, trademarked model out of NYU that has strict guidelines for training, staffing, and method of instruction, and requires a one-to-one teacher to student ratio.  It’s a good program and gets good results.  But because of the one-to-one tutoring ratio, it is expensive.  So, the district decided to cut 6.5 Reading Recovery teachers and convert the remaining RR teachers to Intervention Specialists (IS).  Many of them will continue to provide reading and writing intervention, as well as math, to struggling learners in the district.  They will be able to utilize their Reading Recovery training, and they will have the flexibility to use other strategies such as multi-sensory teaching strategies (Orton-Gilingham techniques, Sonday System, Wilson Reading strategies) and other alternative teaching strategies.  Therefore, we will still have 46 IS teachers, and since they only adhere to district standards and procedures, they will be able to work with the same total number of  struggling learners, but instead, in small group (1:5 ratio) settings. 



So the misconception that all Reading Recovery teachers and all services for struggling learners are being eliminated is just not true.  We believe that with this new model, we will be able to service the same number of students as previously taught.  This is another example of the district doing more with less.



A full FAQ document can be found in the district website under Budget.  Thank you for your support and please remember to vote on April 20th.



Sincerely,

Michael Schilder

Superintendent


Don't you find this very one-sided? If anything I would have wanted to EXPAND this program since it works so very well. He also didn't mention something that a teacher confirmed at a recent BOE meeting: that Reading Recovery is a REVENUE source for the district since we get paid to mentor/train other teachers. We always said "if only N could read a bit worse he would qualify". Just as people sometimes have AI-envy, I used to have Reading Recovery envy. Cutting Reading Recovery is extremely short sighted!

A few years ago I was at the BOE meeting where the current Intervention Specialist program was presented as a program to target kids who were "at risk" but now quite the weakest learners who could qualify for other assistance. What about the lost opportunity for these kids now that the IS teachers will have to help those kids who would have been in Reading Recovery? Why is it always the lowest end of the middle of the bell curve that always gets the shaft?

This series of e-mails has been very one-sided. Nowhere does the Superintendent mention any other opinion than his own. Unless you can read between the lines in his "questions" you really have to guess what the other options/options are. While I get he is trying to promote certain things in order to support the budget, he isn't a leading a district of 9 BOE members but all the entire district, and its imployees. He isn't a politically elected official! He is the Superintendent of the schools and as such he should, in my humble opinion (and it's MY blog) at a minimum acknowledge that his "budget information" isn't just fact, or if they are, they can be incomplete!

There are a lot of people like me out there. People who can see both sides of the story and still come to an opinion after looking at all the facts. So far, he's written about the following:
  • tax levy and tax impact (followed by a 2nd e-blast addressing follow-up questions)
  • what's in the budget and what's been cut
  • the role and number of administrators 
  • the cost of AI (I'm so sick of hearing about the debate on AI - I didn't bother to read it)
  • reading recovery
  • Why haven’t middle school and high school athletics, band, orchestra, and other co-curricular activities been cut or reduced?  And why can’t we launch a Pay-to-Play program?
 I thought that the BOE had decided to implement Pay-to-Play! I feel out of the loop!

Anyway, this song keeps going through my mind. I always like to include a blogtrack!

OK, Mike - take it from my favorite PBS kids! There are always two sides of the story! Losing Reading Recovery is bad for the district...you can be honest with us! We're adults. We can take it!

***
This is an updated version of today's posting. Did you hear me gasp when I saw that I published the post before I finished editing?  I hope the bugs are out of the system. Along with being able to say that there are various sides to an issue, I also can admit when I've made a mistake!

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