NIMSY headquarters

For years I've thought Bridgewater was the NIMBY headquarters of the world. (In case my dad reads this: NIMBY stands for "Not in My Backyard").

Sometimes I've been aligned with the groups declaring NIMBY, more often I've disagreed and felt that people were being too elitist. Here are recent issues you could argue were "NIMBY-ish" in no particular order:
  • The "Mosque" (and before that, the Indian temple)
  • Various placement for Cell Phone towers
  • Suggestions for turning "green spaces" into sports fields/dog walks, parks etc.
  • Expansion of a fire station to add a meeting space
  • Placement/movement of special programs in schools (ESL, AI, Special Ed)
  • COAH housing proposals
Not sure about NIMBY? My Central Jersey dot com blogger Dick Bergeron debates 18 Homes as a NIMBY-issue here. Well worth a read. 

Isn't it strange how we all see these items first how they would impact our lives, and how differently we see them when they don't? Take Green Acres: When I first saw "No Green Acres" signs I had children attending Van Holten School. Van Holten Road is already overused as a cut-through between Country Club and Meadow roads, and large portions of it has no sidewalks. It is a recipe for disaster, and actually I'm surprised how few accidents happen. So when these fields were suggested, I thought it was insane to increase traffic on Van Holten Road.  Sound familiar? If I had looked at the Bird's Eye View from a map, I would have said it was the perfect spot.

But then when I was a soccer Mom (still with kids at VH), more fields seemed like a good idea. Now that we have a dog, a dog park also is tempting... but as a runner I prefer fewer cars (like mine) speeding between Meadow and Country Club. More traffic would be a big problem.

Classic NIMBY - not in my backyard.

So what do we call NIMBY when it effects our schools? NIMSY? (Not in my SCHOOL yard?)

My daughter is considering applying for a summer program that requires three letters of recommendation... and as I considered which teachers would be appropriate, I remembered a threat I'd heard in passing in June. If there isn't a new contract in place, teachers won't write letters of recommendation.

When I first heard about this I didn't think that teachers would really go along with it and jeopardize their students in such a direct way. In fact while lots of parents take pride in what their kids do, this refusal hurts the kids directly.  It may bounce back and hurt the teachers too.

One of the main things that get looked at when parents are talking about quality in a district is where their graduates head to after they finish high school. The best and the brightest can get into top schools, but students don't get into college without letters of recommendation from teachers! Since counselors are also under the same contract, can I assume they will follow suit and refuse to write them? With the possibility of the class of 2013 not getting accepted into any colleges (except some that don't require recommendations), BRRSD's standings will drop - even if not in numbers on listings - in reputation. Could there be a "Black market" of sorts - teachers who write them on the sly for their favorites? ("Don't tell anyone, but here you go" - I guess since there are common applications now, this might not be possible).  If I had a junior or a senior and I heard that my college-bound kids couldn't get recommendations, I'd look at the private schools which promote their teachers/guidance counselors as mentors and advocates for their kids in the college process. 

When I heard about this, I considered it a threat akin to those I make to my kids regularly. "If you do XYZ No TV for a month! I'm going to take your cell phone for a week." and within 24 hours they have both TV and cell and the argument is forgotten".

It's an effective argument - several BOE members have college-bound high school students.

Granted, C's desire for a camp counselor in training position pales in comparison with kids trying to get into college. And, she has non-BRRSD people in her life who (I believe) would be happy to write one for her. It's just a program for camp.... but the principle is the same: I didn't pay careful attention until it would impact what is most important to me and now that it is, I'm watching more carefully.

Even if my daughter didn't need one, refusal to write recommendations as a way to force the BOE into an agreement is a risky position for teachers to take. I think the B-REA assumes parents will ask for capitulation "do anything, just make sure they get an F'ing contract" when really, it may turn an already contentious situation into direct hostility. If the union is concerned that the community doesn't support its teachers, I doubt this will help them!

And it makes me want to tell the negotiation committee that any contract needs to include language stating that teachers etc. will agree to make written evaluations or recommendations as part of their contract.

I don't like blackmail. Especially Not In My School Yard.

Do I have a case of full-blown NIMSY? I don't know, but I may be coming down with it.


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