Friday, April 10, 2009

We said Goodbye to a Friend Yesterday

Who could have known on that day at the pound that I would come across a cute little dog who forever changed both of our lives? From the moment I took you home, you became my special little friend, filled with quirky habits both frustrating and endearing.

Through countless life changes, in good times and in bad, you were always there. You loved your special orange ball, until you lost it in a heating duct. Friends and relatives felt joy and anguish over the prospect of babysitting my little wiener dog.

Over the years, our family grew, but you were always my wiener buddy. Daddy wondered where my mint meltaways went, until you nudged a ball into his lap. Igloo turned you into a Frankenfurter, but learned to live with your bouncing demeanor.

Anastasia booted you out of my lap, but never out of my bed.

Alexander remains your main source of extra people food to this day. Our newest family member Fletcher took to you immediately.

George, you hold a special place in my heart that none can ever replace, none can ever forget. You've brought companionship, inspired songwriting, photography, and countless hours of storytelling.

You have fulfilled and exceeded our expectations of true friendship.

We've lived a long and happy life together. Our family will never be the same because of you, our family will never be the same without you.

Goodbye George.

I hope that those of you who had a chance to know and love him think about him tonight.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Summer School At Croydon - Is it cost effective and does it improve performance?

As you have read in the Eagle Times Article Jim Peschke rejected funds for summer school. His reasons was that only 41.7% of the students performed proficient in math with 9 months of schooling, how was two hours a day, four days a week for four weeks going to improve student performance. At this point Marilyn Brannigan scolded Jim and said he needed to do research in the the subject. Jim has done plenty of research and he knows that, "in fact most research shows that summer school as typically administered has little if any impact on learning.” You can read another article on the subject here.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Croydon Residents will see a 26 Cent Drop in the School Tax Rate.

The following article is from the April 9, 2009 edition of the Eagle Times. The article is a partial summary of what happened at the Croydon School Board Meeting.

Click on the article to enlarge the article.


Jim sent the following to Archie Mountain as a correction to Jim's comments made in the article.


I just read your article about last night's Croydon school board meeting and would like to comment while the event remains fresh in my mind. I believe that you misquoted me, and more specifically mischaracterized the interaction between myself and Marilyn Brannigan regarding the role of a school board member. This article gives an erroneous impression of my stance on the role of a school board member.

Marilyn Brannigan did not merely "suggest that I read up on the subject to understand it better." She dictated that in order to be a school board member that I had an obligation to read the research. (Her words were something like "If you're going to be a school board member, you need to read the research.") This is quite different than making a suggestion. This is a command - completely inappropriate in her position.

I cannot remember my exact response, but it was something to the effect of "I already have the only requirement to be a school board member - I got elected".

The point I was trying to make is that it is inappropriate for the Superintendent to attempt to define my role as a school board member. I believe that my words succeeded in making that point at the board meeting.

In contrast, your article not only fails to convey the spirit of the exchange, but actively represents an entirely different message.

Jim Peschke

How well did Croydon School Students Really Do in Reading And Mathematics?

On Monday I reported that the Eagle Times reported Croydon "maintained its perfect slate in both reading and math, goals it also reached in 2008." I also cautioned that I needed to read the report. Well I did!

When I was going to school 66.7% was a D and 41.7% was an F or failing. It appears to me that the Croydon school is failing to educate too many of our students.

If you look at the raw data this is what a perfect slate and reading looks like to educrats.

25% or 3 of the 12 students scored substantially below proficient in reading.
8.3% or 1 of 12 students scored partially proficient in reading.
50% or 6 in 12 students scored proficient in reading.
16.7% or 2 in 12 students scored proficient with distinction in reading.

In other words 66.7% of students scored proficient or above in reading. But with "new math or educrat speak" the group performance index score is 83.3%. Not perfect in my book and not good enough considering the amount of money taxpayers spend to educate Croydon's children.

33.3% or 4 in 12 students scored substantially below proficient in mathematics.

25% or 3 in 12 students scored partially proficient in mathematics.

41.7% scored proficient in mathematics.

No child scored proficient with distinction in mathematics.

In other words only 41.7% of the students scored proficient in mathematics. But with "new math or educrat speak" the group performance score is 66.7%.

I found the above picture at

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What is Next For Croydon Schools - Jim Peschke

The Next Steps

The Croydon special budget meeting concluded at about 9:30pm with board approval of the necessary spending cuts. As in any negotiated process, none of the board members considered the end result to be perfect.

Although I believe that Croydon school is overstaffed, my budget proposal did not contain any staffing cuts. Budget areas where spending cuts were more palatable were abruptly deemed "off-limits" due to various combinations of bureaucratic regulation and "That's just the way it is" eduspeak.

We remain far from getting our money's worth from public schools; Croydon's per-pupil spending today is almost three times as much as it was only 10 years ago. Are students actually receiving three times the education, or are more funds simply being wasted due to government edicts and overzealous administrators?

The time has come to push back on unfunded mandates. Such resistance stands on firm legal ground, as the New Hampshire constitution specifically prohibits unfunded mandates. Some would try to intimidate us from standing up for ourselves, claiming the only resistance is total resistance and that total resistance would meet with disastrous consequences.

This is a false dilemma; many mandates have considerable latitude in their implementation. Scaling back mandates to bring costs out of the stratosphere doesn't rise to the level of Fort Sumpter defiance. We must also guard against becoming tools of our own demise by pressing for "more funding". All too often Big Ed's solution to unfunded mandates is funding them. That simply lets us keep $1 in our right pocket while Concord takes $2 from our left pocket. Mandates themselves are the problem.

The money we waste in mandated programs show that there's plenty of room to save taxpayer dollars. With a combination of legislative action and selective trimming, we can continue to make progress towards affordable public education.

Special interests spent decades buying laws to force us to spend more than we should. We can't undo this damage overnight, but the sooner we start, the sooner we can make "public education" truly "public" again.

Jim Peschke
Croydon School Board Member

Jim had sent the above letter to the Eagle Times. I have checked both online and several paper editions and have not been able to confirm if the Eagle Times published the letter.

There is a school board meeting tonight at the Croydon Village School.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What is more important a good education or pleasing the teachers' unions?

Yet another piece showing that it is not what's best for America's public education students, but what is best for the Teachers' Unions. A vote for a democrat is a vote against education reform, education spending reform and educational freedom. I don't see how it cannot be more clear to taxpayers and parents. Public schools are an entitlement program for those who work there and a source of campaign funds for almost all democratic candidates and some republicans. It is a vicious cycle where the teachers' union give democrats campaign contributions and the democrats pander with teacher union friendly legislation and tax dollars back to the unions. It is a cycle that never ends, where those crushed by the cycle are the taxpayers and public education students.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

The following piece appears in the Wall Street Journal.

Democrats and Poor Kids
Sitting on evidence of voucher success, and the battle of New York.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan did a public service last week when he visited New York City and spoke up for charter schools and mayoral control of education. That was the reformer talking. The status quo Mr. Duncan was on display last month when he let Congress kill a District of Columbia voucher program even as he was sitting on evidence of its success.

In New York City with its 1.1 million students, mayoral control has resulted in better test scores and graduation rates, while expanding charter schools, which means more and better education choices for low-income families. But mayoral control expires in June unless state lawmakers renew it, and the United Federation of Teachers is working with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to weaken or kill it.

President Obama's stimulus is sending some $100 billion to the nation's school districts. What will he demand in return? The state budget passed by the New York legislature last week freezes funding for charters but increases it by more that $400 million for other public schools. Perhaps a visit to a charter school in Harlem would help Mr. Obama honor his reform pledge. "I'm looking at the data here in front of me," Mr. Duncan told the New York Post. "Graduation rates are up. Test scores are up. Teacher salaries are up. Social promotion was eliminated. Dramatically increasing parental choice. That's real progress."

Mr. Duncan's help in New York is in stark contrast to his department's decision to sit on a performance review of the D.C. voucher program while Congress debated its future in March. The latest annual evaluation was finally released Friday, and it shows measurable academic gains. The Opportunity Scholarship Program provides $7,500 vouchers to 1,700 low-income families in D.C. to send their children to private schools. Ninety-nine percent of the children are black or Hispanic, and there are more than four applicants for each scholarship.

The 2008 report demonstrated progress among certain subgroups of children but not everyone. This year's report shows statistically significant academic gains for the entire voucher-receiving population. Children attending private schools with the aid of the scholarships are reading nearly a half-grade ahead of their peers who did not receive vouchers. Voucher recipients are doing no better in math but they're doing no worse. Which means that no voucher participant is in worse academic shape than before, and many students are much better off.

"There are transition difficulties, a culture shock upon entering a school where you're expected to pay attention, learn, do homework," says Jay Greene, an education scholar at the Manhattan Institute. "But these results fit a pattern that we've seen in other evaluations of vouchers. Benefits compound over time."

It's bad enough that Democrats are killing a program that parents love and is closing the achievement gap between poor minorities and whites. But as scandalous is that the Education Department almost certainly knew the results of this evaluation for months.

Voucher recipients were tested last spring. The scores were analyzed in the late summer and early fall, and in November preliminary results were presented to a team of advisers who work with the Education Department to produce the annual evaluation. Since Education officials are intimately involved in this process, they had to know what was in this evaluation even as Democrats passed (and Mr. Obama signed) language that ends the program after next year.

Opponents of school choice for poor children have long claimed they'd support vouchers if there was evidence that they work. While running for President last year, Mr. Obama told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that if he saw more proof that they were successful, he would "not allow my predisposition to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn . . . You do what works for the kids." Except, apparently, when what works is opposed by unions.

Mr. Duncan's office spurned our repeated calls and emails asking what and when he and his aides knew about these results. We do know the Administration prohibited anyone involved with the evaluation from discussing it publicly. You'd think we were talking about nuclear secrets, not about a taxpayer-funded pilot program. A reasonable conclusion is that Mr. Duncan's department didn't want proof of voucher success to interfere with Senator Dick Durbin's campaign to kill vouchers at the behest of the teachers unions.

The decision to let 1,700 poor kids get tossed from private schools is a moral disgrace. It also exposes the ugly politics that lies beneath union and liberal efforts across the country to undermine mayoral control, charter schools, vouchers or any reform that threatens their monopoly over public education dollars and jobs. The Sheldon Silver-Dick Durbin Democrats aren't worried that school choice doesn't work. They're worried that it does, and if Messrs. Obama and Duncan want to succeed as reformers they need to say so consistently.

Link to AYP Reports

For those parents and taxpayers who are interested in the AYP Reports here is the link to said reports.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

The Majority of Newport Schools Show Improvement

The following article appears in the Eagle Times. The majority of schools in Newport showed improvement over last year. The paper is reporting that Croydon "maintained its perfect slate in both reading and math, goals it also reached in 2008."

I look forward to reading the actual reports, to see the actual numbers of students meeting or exceeding goals. It was refreshing to see Newport schools improve over last year.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Some school make progress under NCLB
Claremont schools do poorly
Monday, April 06, 2009 11:24 PM

CONCORD -- Led by strong performances by Fall Mountain, Newport and Sunapee, the 2009 Adequate Yearly Progress Reports for Sullivan County schools inched up slightly over 2008.

The annual report card for all New Hampshire schools was issued Monday afternoon by the New Hampshire Department of Education.

To achieve AYP under the federal No Child Left Behind act, schools or districts must have met reading and mathematics targets. They must also have met state participation, attendance and graduation goals.

If schools don't meet adequate progress for two years in a row, they are added to a list of schools in need of improvement.

Claremont schools continued to struggle, according to the report. Only Bluff School met the 2009 reading goal while Maple Avenue School was the only school to meet the 2009 math goal. In 2008, none of the five Claremont schools met the reading goal and only Bluff School achieved that level for math.

For the middle school it marked the fourth time it has come up short in reading and the fifth time in math.

Failing to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress goals signifies that schools need to do more planning, have more accountability and more effort and receive more support and oversight from the New Hampshire Department of Education, according to Jacqueline Guillette, SAU 6 Superintendent of Schools.

In SAU 60, covering the Fall Mountain area, only the Alstead Primary School, Charlestown Primary School and Walpole Middle School failed to meet the 2009 reading goal. Five of the 11 SAU 60 schools came up short for the math goal. They were Alstead Primary School, Charlestown Middle School, Charlestown Primary School, Fall Mountain Regional High School and Walpole Middle School.

It marked the second year that Charlestown Primary School had missed the grade in both reading and math and the third year for Fall Mountain Regional High School in math.
In Newport, Richards Elementary School did not meet the reading goal. Newport Middle High School, Newport Middle School and Towle Elementary School all had a passing grade in reading. All four schools made the grade in math.

The biggest improvement was made by Newport Middle School. It failed to meet the goal in both reading and math in 2008 and prior to 2009 had a failing grade for three years in reading and four years in math. Prior to this year, Towle didn't meet the reading goal for three years.

Sunapee Central School and Sunapee Senior High School continued to meet the standards for both reading and math while Sunapee Middle High School made the grade in reading but not in math.
Cornish Elementary School got a passing grade in reading but not in math. In 2008 it came up short in both areas.

Croydon Village School maintained its perfect slate in both reading and math, goals it also reached in 2008.

Goshen-Lempster Cooperative School did not make the goal in both curriculums. A year earlier it passed in reading.

Grantham missed the mark in reading but was successful in math.

Unity made the grade in reading but not in math. It failed to reach either goal in 2008.

Plainfield Elementary School reached the passing progress level in both subjects as it did in 2008.

Rejection of More Education Tax Dollars is not a Rejection of Education.

The following LTE appeared in the Eagle Times. Another thoughtful taxpayer points out that a rejection in the increase of education spending does not mean that the taxpayer does not cherish education. The writer appears to be familiar with the educrat game "we will cut so it hurts the students, we will not cut the waste." This is a spiteful game that is played by educrats when taxpayers reject a tax increase.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Monday, April 06, 2009 10:56 AM

To the Editor:
It is amazing what comes out of our educational system when the system is faced with a reduced budget. Political blackmail. The recent article in the Eagle Times on the Springfield school board and administration cutting 60 teacher and staff positions is just such an example of, "If you don't give us what we want, we'll show you."
School improvements were sold to us as a means for enhancing the Springfield students' education.

The education still seems to be lacking, according to test score results from state standards. How is it that money spending is being equated to good education rather [than] quality teaching and educating? Maybe it is the items we have been reading in the paper? It is only costing the taxpayers of Springfield "X dollars" Someone, somewhere still has to pay the bill.
How many programs in our educational system could be cut, consolidated, taught every other year, or need to really be looked at as a benefit to our town, state and national needs?
It comes down to a simple question: Do I want or do I need? Do we need to pay $5,000 for someone to come up with a mission statement for our school? Do we need to spend $50,000 on 50 laptop computers, when laptops can be bought for under $500 and taking the funds from capital improvements? What is justifiable expense?

If I, as many other Springfield property taxpayers, sound like we are not supporting our students' education, it is far from it. We want good, sound and responsible spending of our tax dollars for the education our students should be receiving.
When your money is limited you don't eat caviar or pad your grocery bill with cheese doodles. We have been eating crow far too long from an overstuffed administration of education. With many of the latest statements in the papers it is a self-serving attempt to hold the taxpayer hostage if we do not succumb to their demands. The figures we have received just do not add up. We do not have an itemized budget of school expenditures to make sound choices. Can I support the current proposed school budget, no, and neither should you.
C. William Mattoon

Monday, April 6, 2009

Learning Time, Learning Time, Yea Learning Time.

Our precocious 4 year old loves to read and learn. The first day she received the book Chemistry Pre-Level 1 by Dr. R. W. Keller she tore through the book. We have read it with her a number of times since than as well. The material is sinking in and she loves the book. She has been easily able to grasp the concept of atoms and molecules. I highly recommend the book to other parents with precocious children.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Two New Book Recommendations

"The shocking possibility that dumb people don't exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn't real." Quote by:John Taylor Gatto (1937-) American school teacher of 29 years, author, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991 Source: The Underground History of American Education, 2001

I received the April, 2009 edition of School Reform News from the Heartland Institute yesterday. Here is the Heartland Insitute's quick read as to why we need Education Reform in our public schools.

This month's school reform news has two excellent book recommendations. The first book recommendation is Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses: Solving the Funding-Achievement Puzzle in America’s Public Schools by Eric A Hanushek and Alfred A. Lindseth Jim and I have been following Dr. Hanushek's research since we started fighting for education reform seven years ago. The book is a must read for parents, school board members, taxpayers and educators. I encourage educator to read the book to get an understanding why people reject more education spending. It will also help educators to understand that a reject of educations spending is not a rejection of education in and of itself.

The second recommendations is a book titled Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto. Also there is a series of videos by John Taylor Gatto I would recommend to my readers as well to view a link to the videos click here.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.