ON THE 2018 EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL BUDGET VOTE

May 1, 2018

 

May 1, 2018

It’s amazing what can happen when incompetent people with self-serving interests and a near total lack of what quality education is all about running a School Board. We are all aware that the EWSD is now just another school district, no longer one of the quality premier ones in the country. I’ve already detailed in the past how this came about: Entine’s massive and senseless giveaway programs, the ridiculously incompetent Bergtraum (remember the 4th building?*!?) and self-serving unethical policies of union leader, Israel. And, let’s not forget the pitiful, embarrassing and comical PTO that has been successfully duped by the teachers and their union. The bottom line is that the EWSD is no longer a school district that we can all be proud of.

 

I believe the Board and Superintendent are beginning to get desperate and have pressed the panic button. Why this belief? Last month, the Superintendent sent out a questionnaire requesting input from residents to provide their top academic related priorities for the next 5 years. Is it possible this brain-trust (?) doesn’t know what they should know? Certainly, the residents don’t know. Thus, in the final analysis, the residents could be held to blame for the district’s precipitous drop in its reputation. I taught engineering, served as academic advisor, participated in admission decisions for 50 years…and can honestly say that I don’t know what the priorities should be at this level. (Note: I’d love to find out about their Project Lead the Way, a 4-year engineering program. It might be enlightening, but I doubt it). And, does anyone think that they are really interested in your thoughts? I had two solid recommendations last year that were totally ignored; no one got back to me — No One! Anyone want to try to convince me that they really care about our thoughts/concerns/recommendations? In any event, if they don’t know, and we don’t know, what does that say about the people running the asylum…I mean school.

 

The Board and superintendent Kanas recently claimed that “…continue the tradition of fiscal responsibility…”. Surely, they were joking. I know no one (maybe I know the wrong people) who ever claimed that the EWSD was fiscally responsible. All residents have to come to grips with the fact that the EWSD has never really concerned themselves with the best interests of the students, the parents, the seniors, and all other members of our community.

 

Here again are some general thoughts. The EWSD continues to do damage to our community with both excessive waste (particularly at the administration level) and indifference toward the taxpayer (particularly with seniors). Increasing numbers of incoming high school students are opting out of Wheatley in favor of private schools. This “migration” has gone uncontested by the Board-perhaps for good reason. In addition, the mode of delivery of education is changing, and changing at a near exponential rate, at all levels – and the EWSD has not attempted to adopt to these changes. I have been involved with several programs that have reduced or essentially eliminated the need for teachers. There is a need for accountability for not only these upstart programs but also for traditional programs. Unfortunately, there is little to no accountability at Wheatley. To further exacerbate this point, the EWSD teachers count has increased despite the drop in enrollment. On the positive side, I believe absenteeism has decreased; although there are more cars in the North Side parking lot, and there is less of a reduction of cars on Monday and Friday. Finally, I stand by my earlier statements that at least two members of the Board simply cannot be trusted; the community should not expect them to act in the best interests of the students and taxpayers.

 

The salary of teachers has skyrocketed and the quality of education has plummeted. What would a reasonably intelligent individual conclude from these 2 FACTS? What about the college level? When I went to school, tuition was below $2000 per year, a sum a student could earn over the summer and Christmas recess. I don’t think a student could come close to earning dollars $60K plus during the same period today. What do I conclude? The teachers’ union is in the process of destroying quality education at levels.

 

Remember, it OK to vote NO on the budget on May 15. A NO vote represents a call for better education for our students, fair and responsible treatment of seniors, a call for new leadership for both the Board and the District, and a rejection of the corrupt self-serving policies currently in place.

 

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

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

JUNE 1:          On Great Eats III: Greek – Edition

JULY 1:          On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXVI

 

 

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ON THE EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET VOTE

May 1, 2017

May 1, 2017

Here is my opening paragraph from last year’s newsletter on the budget vote:

“East Williston School District (EWSD) residents are annually requested to vote on a school budget and this year is no exception. Each voting member of the community will have an opportunity to either vote for or against the budget. Every parent, every senior, every taxpayer, and every youngster of voting age should consider voting NO on the budget. Why? Two reasons come to mind:  (A) Waste and (B) Senior Citizen Exploitation.”

 

I then proceeded to provide detailed comments on both above reasons which was followed by detailed proposed solutions to both problems. Guess what?  I not only didn’t hear from anyone but I also received no acknowledgements of my proposal. Isn’t this just great? I’m a taxpayer with no voice. You can thank Kamberg and his brood, Kanas, the teachers, the teachers’ union, and, of course, the pitiful PTO, for this sorry state of affairs. And, let’s not forget that it was the Bergtraum (incompetence)/Israel (greed) era that started the EWSD’s decline.

 

In any event, here’s what’s coming down. Per capita student cost is up (>$36,000). Enrollment is down. Hiring is up. School ranking is down. Student performance is down. College choice for students almost certainly is down. Waste has increased. Senior exploitation has increased. Student/parent exploitation has increased. You want proof? Try to FOIL these parasites in control for information. You’ll get what I got…NOTHING! What a wonderful state of affairs.

 

The community should be aware of the EW Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) 3/22/17 report to the EWSD Board of Trustees. I’ll spare you the details but here are the six FAC’s specific spending recommendations.

 

  1. Adapt recommendations to fund Program, Administration & Capital efficiencies
  2. Develop a framework to measure student achievement/investment
  3. Wages: take steps to continue to limit wage growth
  4. Healthcare: Increase employee contributions/eliminate opt-out
  5. Place a moratorium on contractual lifetime healthcare benefits
  6. Review opportunities to increase non-tax revenue

 

But, here’s the key.  Buried early in the report is “The Board has the responsibility and discretion to implement the FAC’s recommendations.”  Translated into simple English: they can, and will, ignore the recommendations as they have done in the past (I’ll comment on their action next year).

 

Regarding (1), the word efficiency is not in the Board’s vocabulary.  The teachers and their union have always opposed (2). The teachers and their union, the PTA, the Board, and Superintendent Kanas oppose (3). Obviously, the teachers and their union plus their stooges oppose (4) and (5).  Point (6) is a great recommendation that could be implemented by the brain trust in the FAC, but with teachers and their union, the PTA, Superintendent Kanas, and (in particular) the Board, there resides a group that is clueless on business/financial matters. Obviously, not a good situation since the FAC has wasted its time.

 

Here are my comments on reading the FAC report for the year 2017.

 

  • The District’s reputation is understandably on the decline (see later paragraph).
  • Tenure has created many of the problems. These positions should only last 5-years but can be extended if the individual has continued to demonstrate the freshness and enthusiasm of the early years of teaching. You know the teachers would never embrace this recommendation.
  • Need to spend time on converting thoughtless children to caring and thinking individuals.
  • Generate better relationships with students in order for them to maintain lifelong ties to the EWSD.
  • Teacher/community relations are at an all-time low.
  • I believe the rumors that all school boards have adopted illegal practices to undermine the school tax cap.
  • For goodness sake, do something positive about the WASTE.

 

The landscape has changed. My experience suggests that today’s students leave high school more aware of what they want to do and what they hope to accomplish in the future. Nobody I know feels the EWSD is doing enough to adjust to this change.

 

I’ll close with some general thoughts. The EWSD continues to do damage to our community with both excessive waste (particularly at the administration level) and indifference toward the taxpayer (particularly with seniors). Increasing numbers of incoming high school students are opting out of Wheatley in favor of private schools. This “migration” has gone uncontested by the Board-perhaps for good reason. The mode of delivery of education is changing, and changing at a near exponential rate, at all levels – and the EWSD has not attempted to adopt to these changes. I have been involved with several programs that have reduced or essentially eliminated the need for teachers. There is a need for accountability for not only these upstart programs but also for traditional programs such as at Wheatley. Unfortunately, there is little to no accountability at Wheatley. To further exacerbate this point, the EWSD teachers count has increased despite the drop in enrollment. On the positive side, I believe absenteeism has decreased; although there are more cars in the North Side parking lot, there is less of a reduction of cars on Monday and Friday. Finally, I stand by my earlier statements that at least two members of the Board simply cannot be trusted; the Community should not expect them to act in the best interests of the students and taxpayers.

 

You don’t have to believe me regarding much of the above material.  Here is the 4/25/2017 Newsday headline:  “7 LI Schools in the Top 200.”  Guess who didn’t make the top 200 nationally.  Guess who also didn’t make the top 50 statewide (there were 14 LI schools who did).  We also didn’t make the top 100 STEM schools in the state.  These are the FACTS, and the numbers don’t lie.  And yet, many of the uniformed parents refuse to accept that the self-serving EWSD Board, the teachers, the PTA, etc., have failed and betrayed both the students and the community.

 

 

Remember, it’s OK to vote NO on the budget. A NO vote represents a call for better education for our students, fair and responsible treatment of seniors, a call for new leadership for both the Board and the District, and a rejection of the corrupt self-serving policies currently in place.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

JUNE 1:                      On Great Eats II

JULY 1:                      On Six Months Later

AUGUST 1:                On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXV

 


ON THE EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET VOTE

April 30, 2016

 

East Williston School District (EWSD) residents are annually requested to vote on a school budget and this year is no exception.  Each voting member of the community will have an opportunity to either vote for or against the budget.  Every parent, every senior, every taxpayer, and every youngster of voting age should consider voting NO on the budget.  Why?  Two reasons come to mind:  (A) Waste and (B) Senior Citizen Exploitation.

 

A comment for each of the above two concerns.

  1. Waste.  Here are the facts as best as I can ascertain.  (The District has a long-standing policy of ignoring FOIL requests.)  The annual per capita student cost is approaching $35,000.  The student teacher ratio is below 10:1.  There are over 21 secretaries!!  Teacher absenteeism remains a problem.  Add to this waste the failure of some students to attend the college/university of their choice, the lack of preparedness of some of the students for post-high school education, and the continued decline of the District’s national and local ranking.  Why has the waste situation worsened?  Once again, here are the facts.  When enrollment increased, the teachers and their union convinced their puppet Board and indifferent Superintendent that there was a need to hire more teachers and administrators (guidance counselors—they are still a joke, an assistant principal, etc.).  Now that enrollment has decreased, the add-on positions have either been retained or replaced . . . not eliminated.  No doubt some of you remember when Gordon argued for a 3rd secretary . . . and got one !*!?!
  2.  Senior Citizen Exploitation. Once again, here are the facts.  Senior citizens are required to pay for the education of students of other District members.  They are also required to pay for all additional accommodations provided these students.  In effect, they are paying for services they do not receive and have no say in the matter.  I believe this is borderline criminal.  Remember that despite the voting process seniors are in the minority and thus have no say in this matter.  Add to this is that the beneficiaries of this exploitation have refused to correct the injustice.

 

One could expand on both the above two issues but it would be a “waste” of time.  However, since I am often accused of complaining and not offering any remedies, I will now propose a solution to both problems.  So here goes.

 

  1. Waste.  Provide outside companies/individuals/consultants the opportunity to review the overall operation of the District from both an academic and financial perspective, and then provide recommendations on how to reduce/eliminate the waste.  The suggestions would be acted on only if approved by an omniscient individual/group (or the equivalent).  Half the savings of the first year would be provided to the reviewing entity.  Can you imagine the field day some of these efficiency experts would have?  Keep in mind that this was recommended earlier during the Kushner/Zatlin/Fiorello era (when the Board was really concerned about waste) and was naturally flatly rejected by the union.  Why?  They knew better than anyone about the rampant waste.  After all, eliminating waste is a win-win situation for parents, school children, and seniors.  Remember that the elimination of waste will improve the QUALITY OF EDUCATION and increase PROPERTY VALUES.
  2. Senior Citizen Exploitation: My recommendation here is not only relatively simple but also relatively harmless.  Reduce the school tax of all eligible senior citizens (≥65 years of age) by 10% the first year, 20% the second year, to 50% of the tax the fifth year.  Potential further reductions could be discussed following the 5th year of reductions.  I checked with the Village office and was informed that 15.5% of the taxpayers are senior citizens.  Thus, my proposed action on senior tax reduction would increase the school tax burden on “non-seniors” by approximately 1.5% each year.  Now, that doesn’t sound that unreasonable to me.  The problem is that it is sure to be unreasonable to “the exploiters.”

 

I also feel it necessary to provide the reader with an abbreviated review of the present state of the EWSD.

 

Elaine Kanas, Superintendent of Schools:  Successfully misrepresented herself during the interview process for the job of Superintendent.  Kamberg and his crew chose not to vet Kanas; however, four of us did their job.

 

Mark Kamberg, Board President:  I trust him as far as I could throw him.  Really.  This guy is not to be trusted.

 

Robert Fallarino, Board Vice President:  Betrayed some of his followers earlier when there was an attempt to correct the EWSD abuses/waste.

 

David Keefe, Board Trustee:  A career union hack who is there to only serve the union and his family.  Continues to represent the retired teachers and their union at the state level . . . an inexcusable conflict of interest that has been ignored.  According to my files on Keefe, I once confronted him about the duplicity . . . and he laughed at me.  Face it.  He is not concerned about the best interests of our community.

 

Barbara Stone, Board Trustee:  An absolute nonentity who knows about as much about education as my left toenail.

 

Leonard Hirsch, Board Trustee:  Where did he come from?  I’ve got nothing in my files on him.  Another Kamberg stooge?  Has he done anything to correct the abuses and reduce/eliminate the waste?

 

Sean Feeney, Wheatley Principal:  I believe he is one of the “principle” causes for the post-high school woes of some of our graduates and the District’s decline.

 

PTO:  An absolutely comical organization that has been successfully duped by the teachers and their union.  It continues to serve the best interests of the teachers’ union at the expense of both the school children and taxpayers.  I’m not aware of the PTO every questioning the waste and senior school tax exploitation . . . and I doubt they ever will.

 

 

What about the budget?  Here is my take on it.  I found myself aggravated and annoyed during a review of the budget.  They didn’t make it easy to find, there are numerous omissions, and it often didn’t make sense.  They would be run out of town if they were out in the business world.  In effect, I couldn’t figure out what they were doing and you can be certain that is the way they want it.  There was nothing on balances and reserve funds.  High school information (and for good reason) was particularly confusing.  Enrollment information was missing.  It appears 3 million dollars were not spent this year, leaving one to wonder why there is a tax increase.  There is a family and counseling science (!?I!) high school teacher being paid 91K; what the hell does this person do?  The aforementioned North Side Assistant Principal has been replaced by an Interim Assistant Principal.  There are now three (no longer one) psychologists—one at every school—costing 134K, 102K and 138K; one can only wonder what they do all day.  There is a substitute clerk (20K) for secretaries (I suppose); would you call for a substitute if your secretary was out?  If I could dig in more, there would certainly be more flagrant waste.

 

Is this not a sorry state of affairs?

 

No doubt many of the parents are aware that there is near universal agreement that the teachers’ unions are destroying education in our country.  Although it is worse elsewhere, Long Island school children have also suffered with the selfish abuses perpetrated by the unions.  Nowhere is that more true than in the EWSD where many of the school children have been deprived of the opportunity to achieve their true potential, primarily due to the programs at Wheatley.  The parents have Kanas, the Board, the union, the Wheatley principal, many of the teachers and (of course) the pitiful PTO to thank for this unfortunate state of affairs.

 

Here is a belated New Year’s resolution:  My hope is that responsible individuals in the education community will band together and start an organized campaign to awaken America to the abuses being perpetrated by the teachers’ unions and many of their members.  It would certainly help in the EWSD if parents/taxpayers wised up to the negative changes that have occurred in recent years; it was the Bergtraum/Israel era that started the EWSD’s decline.  And unfortunately, the present School Board/Administration/PTA troika are content to allow the exploitation of both the taxpayers and schoolchildren to continue; in effect, the EWSD is being run for the teachers, not anyone else.

 

Back to the above two recommendations:  Any chance either of the above two suggestions will be taken seriously and acted upon?  I guess you know the answer to this question.  That’s why it’s okay to vote NO on the budget on May 17th.  I would also issue a call to members of our District who are concerned about taxes, seniors, and (most importantly) schoolchildren to consider running for the Board in the future.  I hate to put it this way, but almost anybody would be better than what we have now.  And maybe—just maybe—the Board will stop ignoring complaints and listen to all members of our community; their confuse and/or ignore policies need to end.

 

P.S.      For Wheatley High School readers:  I attended a party this week for my student’s 25th anniversary of teaching at Manhattan College.  I kissed her on the cheek.  TWICE.  Now I’m waiting to see if any fines, penalties, or charges are going to be brought against me.

 

Visit the author on Facebook  at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:  (tentative):

 

JUNE 1:                      On Barack Hussein Obama V

JULY 1:                      On Financial Inequity


ON HOFSTRA MEN’S BASKETBALL 2015-16 SEASON: HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

November 29, 2015

December 1, 2015

Thanksgiving is now a near distant memory.  It is now December.  Christmas and the New Year are around the corner.  What’s the significance?  It primarily means one thing for basketball buffs in the Nassau County area:  the 2015-16 Hofstra basketball season has arrived.

Every year, at about this time (December 1), I introduce the reader to Hofstra’s Men’s Basketball Team and start the prediction process for the coming season.  This year is no different – so here goes…

I begin with some comments about last year’s team.  There were concerns, hopes, and expectations; second year Coach Joe Mihalich (he has my vote for second-best coach in the NCAA) had inherited a team in disarray the previous season, but the 2014-15 season team featured Juan ‘ya Green and Ameen Tanksley – the two Niagara University transfers and Brian Bernardi, plus returnees Jamail Robinson/Malik Nichols and two first-year centers.  So what happened?  They had a good season finishing 5th in the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) with a decent record of 20-14, 10-8.  The group started off strong, went into a tailspin after Tanksley scored 30+ points at the Barkley Center, and came back strong at the end of the season.  The CAA tournament was up for grabs and I felt they had a chance to win it and earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.

It would be appropriate to also mention last year’s Hofstra/William & Mary (H/W&M) CAA Tournament semi-final game.  This may sound like sour grapes but Hofstra was the best team in the tournament and the best team lost because of poor officiating (a CAA official effectively said the same thing to me).  The H/W&M foul ratio was an unbelievable 2/1.  The refs called “touch” or “phantom” fouls near the end of the game that put W&M in a position to win.  As a former basketball ref, and the reader can check this with any other ref, you simply don’t make this class of call at the end of a game.  These three officials shouldn’t get another playoff game in the future.  If you think I’m nuts, check the near perfect quality of the officiating the next night in the finals. (P.S. I mailed these thoughts to my friend, CAA Commissioner Tom Yaeger.)

Here’s what I’ve got on this year’s team.  Hofstra has extended Coach Mihalick’s contract.  Most of the players are returning; key losses include center Kone and off-guard Nesmith.  There’s a few additions, the most noteworthy of which is 6-8 Denton Koon, a Princeton graduate student transfer with one year of eligibility and freshman guards Justin Wrights-Foreman and Desure Buie.

Here’s my analysis:  The team looks pretty solid.  Are there any concerns?  Of course.  The loss of Kone may be problematic if the two centers – Gustys and Walker – do not improve.  The departure of Nesmith is a bigger concern since the club’s roster seems to be light on one (point) guards with experience.  I have repeatedly claimed that it is great guards that get a team to a championship games, but it is great defensive guards that get you to the Promised Land; i.e., win a championship.  Nesmith filled that role and I’m not sure that Mihalick has a satisfactory replacement.  Green is a solid scorer and a great passer but he has yet to convince me that he is a great defensive player, which he will have to demonstrate in order to move on to the next level.

This may be Hofstra’s year.  Then again, it may turn out not to be for a host of reasons.  At the top of the list is a porous defense, followed by the lack of a backup center, the lack of a shot blocker, and the lack of a great defensive guard.  Furthermore, Coach Mihalich appears committed to six-man rotation which could expand to seven with the addition of Buie; this might spell disaster in a potential four-day/four-game tournament in March.  I maintain that 35+ minutes players in a high powered offense will unquestionably cheat on defense—and this problem needs to be addressed if the club is to go all the way.

A note on the aforementioned Freshman guard Desure Buie.  He may turn out to be the heir to a long list of great guards who have performed at Mack Arena.  I think this baby-faced under six foot 120 pounder (he can’t be six feet tall and weigh 150 pounds as reported) will bring fame and fortune to the program after Green and Tanksley leave at the end of the season.  He’s the real deal in my estimation.

The team’s record at the time of the posting of this article was 3-2.  Three home games remain in December, including their league opener against Delaware at 1:00 PM on the day of New Year’s Eve.  There are also 9 home league games during January and February.  The CAA Tournament is scheduled for March 4 – 7 at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore.

As noted on numerous times in the past, attending Hofstra games still remains the best sports buy in the New York Metropolitan area.  There is ample free parking, the concession stands are not a rip-off, there isn’t a bad seat in the house and its $6 for seniors and children.

*************************************************************************

In the meantime, my Basketball Coaching 101 (436-page) book is still out in the marketplace at either amazon.com or createspace.com for $17.95.  I gave it my best shot and know the book will win no prizes.  Despite rave reviews, sales are sluggish; it is not available in stores and there has been no signings in bookshops.  The explanation provided to me is that it is now a word-of-mouth book, i.e., via personal recommendation of one reader to another, the media, press, many authorities, etc., have essentially overlooked the book.

I thank those of you who have read it cover-to-cover and have had nothing but positive things to say about it.  It’s been great for my ego.  So … the readers’ help is required if meaningful sales are to materialize.  Nonetheless, thanks to those who are pushing the book.  I ask others to consider contacting their circle of friends and inform them of the book, and further recommend they contact their circle of friends, etc.  Details on the book are available on my Facebook page: Basketball Coaching 101.

Consider buying the book – I really do need the royalty money to help subsidize my gambling habits.

NEXT POSTINGS  (tentative):

 

JANUARY 1:             On Climate Change II

FEBRUARY 1:          On How to Write a Book

MARCH 1:                 On Random Thoughts XXIII

APRIL 1:                    On Financial Inequity

MAY 1:                       On the 2016 East Williston School District Budget Vote


On East Williston School District Taxes

April 30, 2015

It’s not like me to report material from previous years, but the next several paragraphs appeared in 2014. I suggest the reader carefully note the contents before moving to more recent happenings. Here is what came down last May.

East Williston School District (EWSD) residents are annually requested to vote on a school budget and this year is no exception. Each voting member of the community will have an opportunity to either vote for or against the budget. Every parent, every senior, every taxpayer, and every youngster of voting age should consider what limited facts have been made available to them.

As many of you already know, I will vote NO on the budget. Why? I simply need to, once again, provide the readers with an earlier (2012) note delivered to Superintendent Kanas following a 1-hour meeting that year. Here is that unedited note:

Dear Dr. Kanas,

I believe that the following current problems are adversely affecting the East Williston School District (EWSD).

1. The per capita student cost is $30,000+/yr.
2. The student/teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0
3. The EWSD employs 21 secretaries.
4. There is rampant teacher absenteeism.
5. There is a failure of some students to attend the college/university of their choice.
6. The EWSD national ranking is in free-fall.
7. The school tax burden continues to increase despite reduced enrollment.
8. There is a lack of preparedness of some of the students for their post high school education.
9. There is a failure of the previous administration to, in accordance with the law, act on FOIL requests.

As a taxpayer and member of the EWSD community, I am requesting your assessment of the above nine problems, plus what steps you intend to take to either remove or reduce these problems. If a response is not received by October 1, 2012, I shall assume that you have concluded that there is no reason for concern. If you do respond, I would then appreciate a follow-up notification on the success/failure of your actions on or before December 31, 2012.

I await your response.

Guess what? Three years have passed, and I’m still waiting for a response. One simple question: Do I deserve a response? Both Kanas and the present Board have chosen to ignore my request. Yet, unlike Kanas and the Board members, I’ve dedicated my life to education, serving as not only a professor and administrator at the College level but also as a member of the Admissions Committee. I also continue to provide free advice to those senior students requesting guidance (apparently there is little to no meaningful guidance presently available at Wheatley) on university and career choices.

That was last year. Another year has passed and things really haven’t changed In fact, they’ve gotten worse. You want proof? Here is what the School Board’s appointed Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) reported in late March on the Board’s request that they provide an objective view on issues facing the District. Suprisingly(?), the FAC did an excellent job. Note, however, that the FAC acts only in an advisory capacity to the Board. In effect, the Board has the discretion to either implement or ignore the FAC’s recommendations. Please keep the word ignore in mind as you delve deeper into this article.

To no one’s surprise, the FAC concluded that there were two obstacles obstructing the EWSD’s path to success: wage and benefits growth.

Here are some specific conclusions from the FAC:

1. Funding for student programs and staff development initiatives continue to increase.
2. The budget and cost per student continues to increase.
3. The Board should explore if there is a positive correlation between spending and student achievement (of course, everyone already knows that there is no correlation).
4. Contractual costs continue to exceed the tax cap growth limits.
5. The budget growth exceeds both the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) index.
6. The EWSD budget is growing faster than CPI & GDP due to the rate of increase of wage and benefit expenses.
7. EWSD wages and benefit costs are growing faster than the private sector (any reader think otherwise?).
8. Enrollment has declined approximately 7% from its peak and has been relatively flat recently (actually, it has decreased nearly 10% over the past 9 years).
9. Per student annual costs (approximately $33,000) have increased faster than the budget … and they have never decreased. This has to be shocking when compared to the average annual student cost for County public schools of $25,000 and County private schools of $15,000. Do parents and taxpayers truly understand this disparity?
10. Item (9) explains why the average (note the word average) teachers annual compensation is approaching $175,000.
11. Items (9) and (10) have produced a growth in compensation that is at least twice that of the private sector.

The above disturbing statistics are due to healthcare costs and retirement costs. The teachers only pay 20% of healthcare costs. Healthcare has caused a dramatic increase in the Post Employment Obligation Benefit (PEOB); this is an estimate of the cost to provide post-employment healthcare. This explosive growth would likely bankrupt a private company – and it did for General Motors. The only way to control this is to have employees pay a significantly higher portion of the healthcare costs. Retirement costs have risen from 0.0036% of salaries to approximately 13% of salaries. Thus, for an employee making $100K, these annual costs have risen from $360 to over $13,000. This is simply not sustainable. In the private sector where employees work for a living, the likely result would have been a reduction in salaries.

The FAC also provided a host of recommendations. However, here are two that are worthy of mention.

1. Limit wage growth and increase healthcare contributions.
2. Develop a framework to measure student achievement relative to costs.

Any chance the Board will take action on either of these two meaningful and critical recommendations? “Not hardly,” as John Wayne would put it. Let us not forget that the Board and Kanas are there to represent the teachers, not the taxpayers, seniors and children.

And where does the PTO fit into all of this? Forgive me, but it would be more appropriate to refer to them as TO since they do not represent the parents and their children. As I’ve said in the past, this is unfortunately an organization whose members are just uninformed, or lacking intelligence, or educator/teacher ideologs, or some combination of the three. Not a healthy situation

The teachers’ upcoming contract (salaries and benefits) is the next order of business. The mettle of the FAC will be tested at that time. I predict that the Board will, once again, disregard the reasonable recommendations of the FAC and “accommodate” the teachers at the expense of the parents, seniors and children. If they don’t, many of those who refer to themselves as teachers will go on the warpath as they did 25 years ago. They will, once again, be wearing black armbands, intimidating parents and students, claiming poverty, accusing the community of not caring about education, etc. In fact, they might even parade down to the EW train station at 3:00PM to demonstrate to those parents returning home from work. Last time, the teachers (many of whom are not that bright) were not aware that those who actually work for a living (5-days per week, 50 weeks per year) put in a full day (plus travel) – not a half day like teachers. A truly sad commentary on both past and present EWSD teachers considering the important influence they have on kids.

I conclude with three earlier comments, repeated for the reader’s benefit.

1. Dr. Kanas misrepresented herself when she applied for the position of Superintendent of the EWSD. I repeatedly brought this FACT to the attention of both the Board and PTO. And, guess what? Both ignored the comments regarding Kanas. You’d think that if Kanas had my professional pride, she would offer some response. But I know she can’t defend her earlier behavior. Others in sports, education, business, technology, etc., are automatically dismissed for this sort of conduct.
2. CONNED!!! That’s what has happened to the EWSD parents and taxpayers. They have been sold a bridge on the quality of education and the dedication of the teachers. They have simply been duped.
3. The turnaround will come when the community comes to realize that Board members – in almost every instance – are there for self-serving purposes. If they really cared about the kids, they would not move on once they have graduated. Think about past Board members who were so vociferous and outspoken about defending the status quo … a status quo that has resulted in higher taxes and a decrease in the quality of education.

The bottom line: It’s OK to vote NO on the budget. Don’t be a glutton for punishment. Stop being taken for a fool. Stop being an enabler for the EXPLOITERS on the Board and some PTO officers.

Lou Theodore

NEXT POSTINGS: (tentative)
JUNE 1: On Memorial Day VII
JULY 1: On My Book
AUGUST 1: On Environmental Matters
SEPTEMBER 1: On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXII
OCTOBER 1: On Barack Hussein Obama Update V
NOVEMBER 1: On Paying Student-Athletes III
DECEMBER 1: On Hofstra Men’s Basketball: 2015-16 Season


On the SATs II

February 28, 2015

March 1, 2015

The past months brought two things to mind for many of our local high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. It is/was a time for those considering college to either take the SATs for the first time or improve earlier SAT scores.

Well, what does the SAT stand for? It is an acronym for Scholastic Aptitude Test. The SAT prior to 2005 was based on a maximum score of 1600. The current SAT scores can range from 600 – 2400; the score is based on three 800 point sections:

1. Mathematics
2. Critical reading
3. Writing

However, the College Board – who owns and operates the SAT – announced last year that it would revert back to the earlier 1600 maximum grade scale. Unfortunately, there is little sample material available for the new SAT that will debut in early 2016.

The previous paragraph provided a short history of the SAT. But the SAT, like environmental regulations and the Professional Engineering (PE) test, is a moving target. Thus, this article is primarily concerned with the new SAT, the SAT that will be employed starting in early 2016. Hopefully, this article should be primarily of interest to high school sophomore students and their parents. It should also be of some value to juniors and seniors.

There are seven key changes to the new SAT. The new test includes the following topics:

1. Relevant words
2. Applying available evidence
3. Analyzing an essay
4. Problem solving and data analysis (math)
5. Real world applications in science
6. History/social studies analysis
7. Formulating documents discussion/analysis

In addition, the wrong answer penalty has been removed.

Although I believe the above are positive changes, there are two topics that should be introduced and expanded upon – communication skills and solving/addressing open-ended problems. Details on both these subject matters follow.

Communication skills need no introduction. More than anything else, both technical and business personnel in the future will have to be able to communicate both orally and in writing. There is an old saying that a graduate from an Ivy League university can’t count and an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) graduate can’t read or write. But today, successful individuals must be able to express themselves in both oral and written communication. Technical and business ability is of little use if one cannot transmit ideas to others. In addition, the major contact one has with other administrators of an organization who can determine raises and promotions is through written communication. Oral and written communications are therefore important in all fields. Well, what about the word communication? Communication has been defined by some as an act of expressing ideas, especially in speech and writing, by others as an act of transmitting ideas or information, and still others, as an exchange of information or messages by speech, writing, and so on. The word oral implies something uttered by mouth, spoken, or involving the use of speech, while the word written is defined as an expression recorded in a readable format, such as books or other literary material, or an idea that is “put into writing or written form.” What does the above mean? Communication is important, particularly in today’s high-technology and Internet environment.

In terms of introducing open-ended problems, the cliché of the creative individual has unfortunately been aptly described throughout history – the Einsteinian wild hair, being locked in a room for days at a time, mumbling to oneself, eating sporadically, being lost in a fog of conflicting thoughts, not paying attention to one’s hygiene, working diligently until those times when the “light goes on” moment of discovery, etc. It is no secret that technical and business personnel in the future will have to be innovative and creative in order to succeed in the corporate world. In effect, the leaders of tomorrow must be problem-solvers as they face critical decisions in solving complex problems. The education process should provide assistance in making better decisions using analytical skills. One approach to developing one’s ability to solve unique problems is by employing “open-ended” approaches. Although the term “open-ended” has come to mean different things to different people, it basically describes an approach to the solution of a problem/situation for which there is usually not a unique solution and/or where there is little to no information available to assist in the solution.

Back to the new SAT. Will the new changes make positive difference even without communication and creative material? I believe it will, but the jury is still out. Here are some negative and positive features.

What’s the downside on the SATs?
1. The exam is primarily important to a small number of top students and overachievers who are attempting to gain entrance to a particular school, usually a prestigious one.
2. The SATs can demoralize those students who might be described as marginal.
3. The SATs essentially forced many institutions early on to accept affirmative action rather than equal opportunity when many minorities could not “cut the mustard.”
4. Many students have become so frightened of the tests that they cannot perform up to their true potential.
5. Students of wealthy parents consistently outperform their counterparts. This may be due to the fact that they have the financial means to take expensive SAT prep courses.
6. Scores on the SATs also vary with ethnic background. And, the variation is statistically significant.
7. Many high school students live in a world in which they distrust the education system; they essentially have no confidence in the procedures that are in place.
8. There has been an overemphasis to teach not for the purpose of learning but rather to score well on the SAT.
9. The speed-oriented nature of the test adversely affects “slow” exam takers.
10. Finally, there is the claim that the exams do not truly test a student’s ability to succeed in either life or business.

What’s the upside of the SATs?
1. Most educators feel that the tests are necessary.
2. Some students also feel the tests are necessary.
3. There is a need to properly interpret and evaluate a student’s ability to handle traditional course work at the college and/or university level.
4. At exam time, everyone has the same shot, particularly because of the multiple-choice nature of the exams. The grading is truly objective.
5. With reference to (4), since most of the scoring is drawn from multiple choice questions, subjective grading is minimized.

I feel the SAT serves as a common denominator for all students and should be retained as a requirement. My advice to parents and students at or below the eleventh grade is to review as many earlier (sample) tests as possible. As Bob Morgan Jr. wrote in his February 23, 2001 (fourteen years ago) Litmor column: “The SAT is at best an imperfect measuring stick, and it seems likely that test scores can be improved by coaching. Nevertheless, the SAT does have the very important virtue of being an objective and uniform measure, with substantive correlation to college achievement that is uninfluenced by admissions politics and other extraneous considerations.” My only comment here, after fifty earlier years in the academic arena, is that the SAT and grade point averages (GPAs) at the college level serve as a weak correlation with the degree to which a student will succeed later in life.

So, if not the SATs, what then? A tough question to answer. It appears that they are the best indicators we have to determine whether students have the necessary foundation of skills to compete at the next level. Thus, until something better comes along, the SATs continue to deserve their day in court.

Finally comes the course of study. I would suggest either an engineering (preferably) or science program if one is to integrate oral and written communication, so-called critical thinking, and analytical reasoning in order to acquire the complex skills to succeed in the future. In effect, students need to become problem solvers . . . but, I don’t think too many schools deliver on their website promise to “foster creative thinking.”

Lou Theodore

NEXT POSTINGS: (tentative)

APRIL 1: On Paying Student – Athletes III
MAY 1: On School Taxes
JUNE 1: On Barack Hussein Obama IV


On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXI

August 31, 2014

September 1, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve lost track of what is the actual issue of this “On Purely Chast, Pristine and Random Thoughts” article. It may be the XXth issue, but then again, it might be the XXI; I’m settled on XXI. Here are 25 Thoughts:

* Flying has become a chore. My recent return flight from Long Beach, CA took 11 hours – not including a 1-hour wait for baggage.
* Currently writing my 102nd book entitled “Basketball Coaching 101.” Anyone interested in contributing can contact me at loutheodore1@verizon.net; I’m looking for individuals who know something about the game.
* This will be my 59th straight year of visiting Saratoga for the racing meet. It has become a bad habit and we now limit the trip to an Albany stopover.
* My most recent book was concerned with the need to develop a meaningful national energy policy; (see August Newsletter article) the book was dedicated to Governor Mike Huckabee.
* This is a true story. It took me nearly 3 days to complete and submit my taxes. Guess what? Last month, New York State requested I submit payment for the taxes owed. Since I have a cancelled check that the NYS cashed, I called to complain, but it is impossible to get through to them.
* Sometime back, Barack Hussein Obama (BHO) was attempting to release those in jail who were planning to kill me; and instead, he was attempting to put in jail Americans who put those in jail who were attempting to kill me.
* I do my best, but still get confused on a regular basis.
* I’m still trying to figure out what purpose the USDOE (Department of Energy) serves. Dissolving this useless organization might help balance the budget.
* I have often been required to provide security checks for my students applying for “sensitive” government jobs. Based on these interviews, I don’t believe BHO would be hired since he would not receive security clearance. And, this is our Commander-in-Chief*?!
* I’m a student of history. Socialism failed under FDR (it was WWII that got us out of the depression). Socialism failed under Johnson. Socialism failed under Carter Socialism failed in California. Socialism has failed in several European countries. Socialism has failed in several African countries. Many of these countries have gone (or are going) bankrupt. Can anyone tell me when high taxes, big government, massive spending, income/wealth distribution, and committing people to a lifetime of dependency through entitlement has worked?
* My parents worked hard for their money. I worked hard (well, sort of… remember, I was a teacher) for my money. No one gave us anything. Why am I now being asked to provide healthcare and education for people who do not want to work and/or have no legal right to be here?
* I sell and bill myself as the foremost environmental authority in the world (modesty isn’t my middle name).
* When are we going to get school tax relief?
* Just finished reading “Wilson” by Scott Berg. Although the quintessential liberal and pacifist, we need more leaders like him.
* Seems to me that BHO has forgotten his pledge to uphold the Constitution.
* If there isn’t a “smidgen” of evidence of any IRS wrongdoing, why did Lois Lerner take the fifth?
* The three most corrupt organizations in the U.S. are the government, the NCAA and NYRA.
* The three most corrupt individuals in the U.S. are BHO, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.
* The three dumbest individuals in the U.S. (in responsible positions) are BHO, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi.
* Climate change is one of the all-time great scams perpetrated on the public.
* I grew up with Gabriel Heater and The Lone Ranger on radio, and rooting for the Yankees and Knicks. Now, the first two are gone and I root against the latter two.
* It may be because my ancestors were Greek but lamb is, by far and away, the best meat.
* I still have trouble sleeping every night. Can anyone help?
* Jones Beach (#6) was recently closed; ouch!! I believe it is the most beautiful beach in the world.
* Seems to me that young people are still having a tough time getting jobs.

On Purely … Thoughts will return in early 2015 with issue XXII. In the meantime, enjoy what’s left of this year.

Lou Theodore

NEXT POSTINGS: (tentative)

OCTOBER 1: On Barack Hussein Obama Update IV
NOVEMBER 1: On Paying Student-Athletes II
DECEMBER 1: On Hofstra Men’s Basketball: 2014-15 Season
JANUARY 1: On Football Boxes
FEBRUARY 1: On Great Eats