Teachers, Residents Talk Back to Board of Ed

The South Orange - Maplewood Board of Education met Monday. A throng of educators addressed pointed questions to the board.


More than 60 South Orange-Maplewood teachers and members of the public turned up to Monday night’s Board of Education meeting to ask questions of the board and voice concerns over the state-implemented Focus program and International Baccalaureate program.

Melissa Butler, sixth grade teacher at South Orange Middle School and head SOMEA representative, spoke first on behalf of her association. Butler said she was concerned that the Focus program, designed to improve schools with a low performance and graduation rates from special education students, was being managed too much by the state and not enough by the SOMA teachers and families.

“I attribute a lot of the success in my life to my education,” said Joe Malespina, a lifelong South Orange resident. “And the [International Baccalaureate] is a great concept, but from where I sit, it is expensive… and our teachers haven’t been properly trained… We’re looking at a sky high school budget and [IB] certainly doesn’t do anything to decrease the cost of our children’s education.

“Next to the students themselves,” Malespina added, “the professional members of this district’s staff are more equipped to create a curriculum for our children than anyone else.”

Several teachers addressed the board, posing questions about improper use of special education teachers as substitutes, out-of-date technology and curriculum materials in the foreign language departments.

Ana Reyes, a fifth grade teacher at Tuscan School, asked the board, “Are you aware that we have an infestation of mice in our building, and many around the district? They run around the classrooms during instruction.”

The Board members do not generally reply to members of the public who speak: Monday night was no exception.

Patch will have additional coverage of the Monday meeting throughout the week. 

Kailin Martin April 25, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Maybe it's time for board members to start speaking to the people it supposedly represents and drop the arrogance of dictating from on high
Ken Houghton April 25, 2013 at 12:58 PM
If that piece of bollocks is representative of IB, there is no punishment sufficient for the people who caused its adoption.
Joe Malespina April 25, 2013 at 05:39 PM
I need to comment in two parts because there are too many important issues to hit.  So here's part one... For me, the key is to give the community as much information as possible and I don't feel like that's happening.  I do not support the idea that a bottom line should be the deciding factor in how we choose to educate our children -- to the contrary.   What I will say is that adding cost by adopting an expensive program that may or may not do anything to move the needle on shrinking the multiple achievement gaps our district and others like ours face could be a foolish move that could end up costing all of us money but more importantly could hurt our students as the district fumbles to bring the program online. One has to look at the fact that there is little traction for this program in the US and frankly worldwide.
Joe Malespina April 25, 2013 at 05:40 PM
Now for part 2... I could go on for days with statistics, but here's the one that sticks out for me -- applying IB's own numbers, less than 4% of middle schools in the US currently implement IBMYP.  This number drops down to .14% in our home state with only one middle school using IBMYP.  To be clear I'm not attacking the program. If you had the opportunity to hear my whole statement at the board meeting you would have heard that I like a lot of the concepts included in IBMYP, but these concepts aren't and shouldnt be exclusive to complete buy in to becoming an "IB school."  I'd rather see our district blaze its own path by combining common core standards, elements of IB and its knowledge and unique understanding of its own student population and what that population's needs are.  We shouldn't need to spend more money to say that our schools are IB -- we might be smart to focus our thoughts on fostering and growing our OWN model.  
shewithnoname May 08, 2013 at 01:59 PM
How long were you employed by IBO, Marina Budhos? :-)


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