ON THE EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD

December 29, 2012

January 1, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.  First and foremost, I need to thank those who have continued to provide support and encouragement during this past year.  As many of you are aware, the newsletter was launched last year and addressed issues involving Hofstra basketball, the unfolding disaster associated with Barack Hussein Obama, and the continued deterioration of the quality of the East Williston School District (EWSD).

We now return to the EWSD, which was the major driving force in my attempt to provide our community with a voice regarding District matters.  This and the next four articles (with accompanying scheduled dates of posting) will address the following issues:

February 1:       Superintendent Dr. Kanas

March 1:           The Parent Teacher Organization

April 1:             The Teachers and Their Union

May 1:              The Budget Vote

However, an additional article (or two) may appear along the way.

No discussion of the EWSD would be complete without mention of the School Board and its members.  What follows is an edited and updated version of the article written approximately one year ago.

The EWSD is presently in decline with its national ranking having plummeted, rampant teacher absenteeism, a present superintendent that is both unqualified and incompetent plus an embarrassment to the District, difficulty in placing Wheatley seniors in the school of their choice, $150,000+  annual teacher salaries plus massive additional benefits, $30,000+ annual cost per student, a 9.75 student to teacher ratio that continues to decline, a refusal to eliminate waste, a refusal to eliminate self-serving polices of Israel (earlier) for himself and (presently) his wife Bartscherer, etc., etc. The end result is that EWSD residents pay the highest average school taxes in Nassau County (because of the massive waste), the economic effect of which has been to unnecessarily depress property value.   In order to explain this shocking predicament, one needs to examine both the past and present members of the EWSD Board.

Well, what about the past.  Here’s my take on what came down earlier.  It was Entine who started the massive giveaway program.  She was followed by Bergtraum who was possessed by a quest for power despite her incompetence.  It was Bergtraum, more than anyone else, who is responsible for the District’s present problems by allowing the self-serving policies of former teacher and Union President David Israel to run the EWSD; further, she refused to act on any recommendation that did not agree with her misguided agenda.  Then there was school board members Karol, Wasserman, Roher, Kaplan (a total incompetent), Ritz (a Delilah), etc.  This was the group that supported the teachers and their union as well as most of the measures discussed above that fostered the District’s present situation.  It was this same group who were campaigning/pushing for a fourth building (Bergtraum/Entine were on the board; Wasserman/Kaplan co-chairs of the campaign).  Where would our District (and taxes) be now with a 4th building?!?!  Other districts are closing schools, i.e. Mineola.  Thankfully, they lost that election—and no 4th building.   Along the way, the District was fortunate to have the services of Eleanor Zatlin, Robert Kushner, Sigi Huhn, and John O’Kelly who attempted—but unfortunately were unable—to mend a broken school district.

The present Board?  I shudder every time I think of them.  Once again, here is my take (on the four from last year).

  1. Kamberg:  He is President of the Board.  Some of us justifiably refer to him as Konberg since he is an untrustworthy, sweet-talking, self-serving con man.  My file on him is almost as thick as those for Superintendent Lewis and former President Ritz.

These cases come to mind regarding Konberg:

  1. He used any and all tactics to get elected to the      Board.  Some of us consider his tactics to be borderline      fanatical.  He and his supports spread vicious and (false)      anti-Semitic rumors attributed to Huhn.
  2. This desperado, in his frantic attempt to get      elected, also courted the senior vote with a free luncheon at      Jonathans.  I wonder what those seniors who got conned and voted for      Konberg think now.
  3. Following Wasserman’s removal from the Board, he      refused to allow an election.  Instead, he and his cohorts      “interviewed” prospective and interested individuals.  He/they chose      Freier, Konberg’s yes man.  Despite the Board lacking any financial      background/ experience/ expertise, Huhn was bypassed.  I also      interviewed for the job and outlined how they could better assist our high      school seniors in gaining admission to the school of their choice.       They frantically took notes, but in the end, they apparently did nothing      since it involved work on the part of some of the Administrators (guidance      counselors, associates, etc.), a part of the fat on the staff who are      there to simply cash their checks.
  4. Refused to ask teachers for any givebacks in      2010-11.  Provided, former Superintendant Lewis with a 5-year      extension, thus tying the hands of the District (Fortunately Lewis is gone      with the jury still out on Dr. Kanas.       The School Boards did not do their due diligence for either Lewis      or Kanas).  Also provided the teachers this year with a senseless sweetheart      contract extension.
  5. Lied to the community about the real salary      increases the teachers received and will be receiving in the future.
  6. Refused to comment when Lewis publicly drew an      analogy between me and the Gestapo.

Of course, there’s more. At my end, there are some of my academic and business ethics lectures (based on my book) where I have used Konberg—along with Israel, Bergtraum and Ritz—in case-study analyses.  But as far as I am concerned, Konberg should presently be barred from the school grounds.

  1. Freier:  Strictly Konberg’s stooge.  No experience with education or finance.  Where did Konberg find this guy (Fortunately, he is gone.   Why?  I’ve been informed that he no longer has children in the school system)?
  2. Keefe:  Keefe was “elected” when he ran unopposed.  He is a former teachers’ union president who is obviously a teachers’ union man.  Make no mistake.  He is there to represent the teachers—not the taxpayers, senior citizens, and, most importantly, the schoolchildren.
  3. Fallarino:  As a former Board member put it, “he has tried desperately to play both ends against the middle, and failed miserably.”  A major disappointment and an individual not to be trusted.
  4. Slone:  “Elected” when she ran unopposed.  An absolute zero, totally devoid of the minimum necessary qualifications, who simply should not be on the Board.  If she had any pride, she would resign.

Why do these people serve on the Board?  Reasons have already been documented but I believe they are there to primarily gain an advantage for their kids or grandkids at the expense (as noted in an earlier article) of the kids of other members of our community.  If you don’t believe that statement, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  What parent believes that if their youngster and the child of a Board member were being considered for valedictorian, that—given how the District operates—their kid would be selected (I’m still trying to locate The New York Times when this happened at another District).    For example, Keefe’s daughter was recently hired for a EWSD position.  Innocent?  Was the hiring process truly objective?  You make the call.

I close by issuing a call to members of our district who are concerned about taxes, seniors, and (most importantly) schoolchildren to consider running for the Board this May.  I hate to put it this way, but almost anybody would be better than what we have now.

The EWSD annual budget/levy has INCREASED 24.7% over the past 6-year period, while enrollment has DECREASED by 112 students.  Many teachers’ unions, in cooperation with their boards, have agreed to freeze salaries and waive the step increase.  The district needs to ask Kamberg why it hasn’t happened here.  Waste, absenteeism, etc., is unfortunately the norm in the
EWSD, which in turn has reduced both the quality of education and the District’s ranking.  Since the value of our houses is inversely proportioned to school taxes, the impossible-to-justify tax INCREASES have also resulted in DECREASED house values.  Did we need any other justification to vote NO on the budget last year?

No doubt many of you read an article in Newsday last year reporting that our District’s ranking continues to freefall and is currently 246, down again from 55 the previous year.  In addition, the student:teacher ratio in the top four schools on Long Island is 12, 13, 14 and 16 – as compared to our 9.75.  Stuyvesant (my alma mater) is at 21.  21!!!  The figures simply don’t lie:  Kamberg and his crew, along with the teachers and their union, are destroying our District with the present waste plus their incompetence and indifference.   We are now officially an also-ran.   Even Governor Cuomo has described the school systems as “ineffective, wasteful, and bureaucratic.”  Folks, you had an opportunity to put a stop to this School Board’s conduct regarding financial matters by voting NO on the budget last May.  Unfortunately, it passed with flying colors – a tribute to the intelligence of some of the members of our community, particularly most of the parents who are gluttons for punishment and have been successfully brainwashed by the PTO.

Next Posting:  February 1, Dr. Elaine Kanas, EWSD, Superintendent

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Once Again, It’s Hofstra Time . . . Unfortunately

December 6, 2012

 

 

December 7, 2012

 

Each of the last eight years, I have had the pleasure and good fortune to attend and write about the men’s basketball team of Hofstra.  I have also claimed that attending these games at Mack Arena is the best sports buy in the metropolitan area.  But this one’s different, and it wasn’t an easy one to write.

 

Two weeks ago, the Hofstra community and part of the basketball world were rocked with the revelation that four Hofstra men’s basketball student-athletes (S-A) were involved (allegedly?) with stealing electronic equipment, including laptops, cell phones, iPods, etc.

 

My take follows.

 

I’m in the process of writing a book on college basketball.  In the last chapter, which is concerned with the future of the game, I predict another major scandal involving shaving points and fixing the outcome of games.  Why?  Because the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has put in place one of the all-time great scams on the public.  The S-As provide the entertainment that generates billions of dollars for the NCAA, and yet, they never see a piece of this monstrous, gigantic financial pie.  T-shirts and sweatshirts are marketed with their names and numbers on them, and yet, the NCAA makes certain they don’t get any royalties.

 

The NCAA has perpetrated this fantasy myth of a S-A that includes the requirement that the S-A live a life of poverty during their scholarship years.  Many of the S-As playing basketball (as well as football) in the major schools are not only poor but also anything but students.  Hell, some of them can’t even spell “student” after graduation.  For example, some time back, one S-A spelled student “stutan”; another worded the answer “yes’ on his application to the question on “sex.”  All of the above is compounded by the fact that they come from low-income families – in effect, they’re broke; which is why 3 of the 4 were not able to post a measly bail.

 

 

So back to the Hofstra players.   We are all a product of our society and environment.   These four certainly didn’t know the difference between right and wrong.  Who’s to blame?  Their parents?  Their church?  Their school?  The NCAA?  No doubt, a combination of all four.  And, no doubt, they will be made an example by District Attorney Rice and some school administrators, with all but the four kids essentially being absolved on any wrongdoings.

 

I am ashamed to admit that a well-to-do close friend of mine occasionally steals money from someone dear to him who is rich beyond words.  When I prod him on what his God would think and/or how he handles confessions, his response is that the person could definitely afford it and would not miss it.  How’s that for logic from a college-educated adult?  Can one draw an analogy between my friend and these four?  And how about the white-collar crimes committed on a daily basis on Wall Street, business,
and government?  And what about those who cheat on their income taxes? I kept this in mind when thinking of these four, realizing that although their crime was more personal in nature, none of the others described above would be punished, or even reprimanded.

 

It is also important to note that these kids did not commit a violent crime.  No rape.  No muggings.  No beatings.  No murder.  Should they be penalized?  Of course, but we should keep in mind that there are rapists and murderers walking around scot-free.  I do hope the four are penalized, but I also hope they will be given a second chance.  That is something we all deserve for our indiscretions, particularly those of a first-time nature.

 

I was asked how do I really feel.  There was essentially no surprise, but there was disappointment and sadness.  Sadness more than disappointment.  Sadness because of the impact the conduct of these four young men will have on not only those who love them, but also their coaches, teammates, friends and classmates, as well as all the legitimate S-As who do the right thing.  I also feel for these four youngsters (three are 18 years old) and hope they realize that their world has not come to an end; they still have a lifetime to live.

 

Here are comments from two colleagues/friends:

Jack Powers,former Executive Director of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), picks it up from there.  “You have to feel sorry for everyone involved.  This was different from some of the recent battery and rape cases involving some basketball programs.  What they did was wrong but no one should jump to conclusions regarding punishment.  I would need to know more about each kid.  Perhaps a year’s suspension would be appropriate.  But they shouldn’t totally shut the door on some of these kids.  We all did crazy things when we were young.  I’m reminded of the saying ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.’”

Dr. John Wilcox, former Director of the Center for Professional Ethics and my ethics book coauthor, continues the outside narrative.  “It’s important to understand that these four are not hardened criminals.  Putting them in jail really won’t serve any useful purpose.  Some form of rehabilitation is in order and one can only hope that they will become a useful and integral part of society.”

 

In the final analysis, it’s safe to say that this is a sad commentary for the four boys, their families, and the NCAA.  One can only hope that this will play out in a fair, just and compassionate manner, and others will learn from what occurred at Hofstra.

 

Visit the author at http://www.theodorenewsletter.com


Once Again, It’s Hofstra Time

December 6, 2012

November 23, 2012

It is mid-November.  That can only mean one thing:  it’s time for Hofstra’s men’s basketball.

Athletic Director Jack Hayes told me that this is supposed to be a rebuilding year for Hofstra.  Gone is their once-in-a-lifetime superstar Charles Jenkins.  I can still hear the student body’s haunting chant of “Char – les Jen – kins.”  The relentless passage of time has unfortunately altered Hofstra’s comfort zone.  Everybody thrilled to Charles’ last-minute heroics as he, time and time again, extricated the team from certain defeat.

But he is now gone.  Well, not really, He was in attendance at the season opener this past Friday.  (The NBA is still in lockout mode at the time of the submission of this article.)  He signed autographs, including one on our grandson’s #22 jersey—the number was retired at the end of last season.  I commented at the press conference that senior guard Michael Moore was the heir apparent.  Me and my big mouth.  I was effectively told:  there is no heir to Charles.

Back to the present team.  It may indeed be a rebuilding year.  But Moore—a terrific player is his own right—and Nathaniel Lester—an excellent underrated small forward—are back.  The big question is whether they can make up for the team’s lack of height.

Prior to last Friday’s home opener, Coach Mo Cassera told me they were undefeated.  Well, Hofstra beat Long IslandUniversity (who made the NCAA playoffs last season) by 20 points after leading by 30 points late in the game.  So Mo, you’re still undefeated.

Mike and Nat?  They scored 23 and 33 points, respectively.  The Team?  They played great, with a level of intensity I haven’t seen in a while.

The team is off to a good start with a 1-0 record at this time.  Their next game is this Saturday afternoon at 4:00 P.M. Folks do yourselves a favor and attend one of their games. The enthusiastic support of the Hofstra student body at the games is contagious. For me, attending Hofstra games still remains the best sports buy in the New York Metropolitan area; it’s even cheaper than going to the movies.  There is ample free parking, easy access in and out of the Sports Complex, the concession stands are not a rip-off ($3.25 for a dog, $1.40 for a soda, etc.), and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  Did I mention that its $5 for seniors and children, and the whole exciting atmosphere is conducive to family attendance?  I don’t think this is an exaggeration, but every home game last year turned out to be a thriller.  It was raw excitement.  Share it with someone you care about.  I guarantee you won’t regret it.