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  1. A response to Scooter Tedder’s comments at the Salisbury Board of Education

    Here is a transcript of the relevant part of Scooter Tedder’s report:
    “We also had our, um, um, . . . we had to, I guess, give Patricia her um . . . I don’t know what I have to say [evaluation] evaluation and it was brought up that the administration isn’t doing their job and I just think instead of being negative that I would like to do and I’m going to try to initiate more of the positive things like bringing like the students that did the music, that did all these things, to light so everybody can see it so that we can show how good of a job that the administration is actually doing. I sit right next to Matt [Principal Matt Harnett] all the time and I just don’t see it. They say that the test scores are not going up that much but they are going up and they want to see big revelations in the test scores, but Matt’s only been there a couple of years, I think this is his third year [it’s his second year], I’ve only been there a little over a year and what I see I really like and I want to take steps to get some positive things going on our board because there really isn’t a lot of that. To see that students and how he [Matt] interacts with them, I just think it’s great and to have the naysayers I just don’t agree with it and I would like to see more positive things come from what we’re doing down there because I know it’s positive.”

    Scooter Tedder misrepresented what was said at the Region 1 Board of Education’s evaluation of the superintendent, which took place Feb. 4 in what the superintendent refers to as “the sanctity” of executive session. Since Scooter chose to reveal what was said in executive session, but gave the wrong information, I feel compelled to correct it.

    By defending Housy Principal Matt Harnett, Scooter gives the impression that the principal was criticized. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was no criticism whatsoever of the principal, not a single word. In fact I think it’s safe to say that there’s a consensus that Matt has been doing a good job in the short time that he’s been our principal and the expectation is he will continue to grow into a strong educational leader for our students — if he is given the autonomy and opportunity to do so without the interference that was so clearly detailed both in the New England Association of Schools and Colleges report and in the $10,000 Pingpank Report that was released just over two years ago and has yet to be addressed. The criticism was directed largely toward the superintendent for her lack of educational leadership. I’ll go into detail about what this means at a later date, but for now I’ll address Scooter’s claim about grades.

    Here are the facts about student achievement since 2007 on the Connecticut Academic Achievement Test – the percentage of Housy students at or above state goal in the four categories of mathematics, science, reading and writing:

    2007 53.8
    2008 55.6
    2009 59.0
    2010 61.3
    2011 55.8
    2012 61.6

    2007 48.2
    2008 48.7
    2009 46.8
    2010 46.6
    2011 47.5
    2012 52.6

    2007 45.9
    2008 45.9
    2009 51.1
    2010 51.5
    2011 51.8
    2012 56.3

    2007 57.6
    2008 66.1
    2009 67.2
    2010 64.8
    2011 72.3
    2012 74.6


    With the exception of writing scores, in which a respectable 72.3 and 74.6 percent of students reached or exceeded state goals the past two years, roughly 39 percent, 48 and 44 percent of students failed to meet or exceed state goals in math, science and reading last year.

    I don’t put a ton of weight on standardized test scores, but with our teacher-student ratio, a fairly highly educated and supportive community and a proposed $24,000 per pupil cost, I don’t understand why 80 percent and more of our students aren’t acing the CAPT. It’s not about “big revelations”; it’s about educational leadership, creativity, authenticity, the ability to inspire others. Scooter seems to be saying that it’s okay to have 39 to 48 percent of students not reaching or exceeding state goals in math, science and reading. That it’s “being negative” or being a “naysayer” to have high expectations of our students and to want them to excel. While Scooter may view dissatisfaction with mediocrity as “being negative,” others might see praise of mediocrity as complacency, laziness, going along to get along, or simply not recognizing mediocrity when they see it.

    Finally, Scooter implies that the excellent presentation by the music students “show[s] how really good of a job the administration is doing.” I don’t understand why he and other board members insist on crediting the superintendent for others’ achievements. The only people who deserve credit for the wonderful presentation are the students themselves and their teacher.
    —Gale Courey Toensing

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