Don’t Be Distracted
Last week’s edition of The Express contained a front-page story, an editorial and four letters-to-the-editor about the recent resignation of a member of the board of education.
As a former Sag Harbor Board of Ed member and president of the board, I am concerned by the nature of your reporting and the possible effect it may have on the important May 2013 school budget vote.
When given the statement of the board member who resigned, the newspaper had an obligation to its readers to ask elementary reporting questions to clarify the truth and validity of the resigning member’s statement. For instance, one of the main reasons he gave for resigning was that the board of ed was discussing in private executive session subject matters which should have been discussed before the public in the general session. In fact, the resigning member stated that “75% of the items on Executive Session agendas” should have been on the public meeting agendas. Since each member of the board of education has the right to make a motion when he/she has the floor in either general or executive sessions, the obvious questions that he should have been asked are: “Did you move to bring that subject to the general agenda for debate before the public?” or “Did you move in the public meeting to discuss that subject?”
The importance to the public of knowing this information is that it enables the public to better evaluate the accuracy of his resignation statement. There is reason to believe that the resignee never made a motion to bring such matters for debate before the public in any of the “75% items.”
By giving the resignation such an unquestioned and inflammatory presentation in The Express, there is a danger that the general public will be led to question the quality of the school board and the school district.
I believe that every school board should be fundamentally judged by the quality it maintains in the schools under its control. By this measure the present school board and those Sag Harbor school boards in the recent past have created and maintained a school system widely recognized as one of the most outstanding on the eastern end of Long Island. It is a district which from pre-K to grade 12 maintains reasonably small class sizes on all levels, a quality teaching staff, a rich choice of academic options including AP courses and a new International Baccalaureate program. It has produced outstanding art, music and drama programs and presentations and a wide number of sports opportunities. It is a tribute to the quality of our district that over recent years a number of out-of-district parents have opted to pay tuition so that their children could attend Sag Harbor schools.
It is this reality concerning the quality of the Sag Harbor schools and the board of education that the community and the newspaper covering our community should keep at the forefront. We should not be distracted from what’s important by persons raising what, at best, is a comparatively minor issue. As we approach the budget vote time of year, the community should come together in support of our excellent schools and our school board.
The Police Debate
To the Editor,
I read about Bill Jones’ public forum in the Sag Harbor Express with some interest after being a member of the New York City Department for 30 years. Little does he know about risking one’s life every day you leave your family. There are more guns in our society than ever before, cops are shot every day on Long Island and in New York City much more frequently. Most of us are spectators watching television.
However you have noticed his angry rhetoric “its rigged,” “insidious, cancerous viewpoint,” “tyranny” and much more? Has Jones found a scapegoat for every ill in Sag Harbor and beyond? A bit emotional and extreme to me.
I wonder if Jones remembers my phone call a year ago inviting him to be a guest on the East End Vets show on LTV because of his strong support of war veterans. I too was on active duty for two years in the Korean War. As soon as he answered the phone he must have used the “F” word a dozen times and went into a rage. There may be a connection with rhetoric mentioned above. I never met the guy but I sign my letter to the editor…
PS Hopefully his enraged police debate will also end peacefully.
A Step Backwards
After reviewing all the information at the recent freshmen and IB orientation night at Pierson High school I’ve come to the conclusion that the new IB program is an educational Ponzi scheme. The more you put in the less you get out of it. Below I’ve outlined some facts that parents need to know about the abandonment of the AP over IB and what parents will now encounter going forward.
During the process of establishing the IB program the administration promised us that the AP would continue to exist. In fact, many parents thought at freshmen orientation that they would have the opportunity to choose either program. Clearly communication has been fragmented involving all aspects of the new IB process. AP is already in place at Pierson and has been highly successful. According to the administration for the year 2011 / 2012 over 90 students participated in the AP program, that’s a potential of at least 270 credits towards college. Or, in dollar terms, approximately $800,000.00 in college tuition savings. Based on the confusing IB “higher learning” vs. “standard learning” scenario future students will not enjoy the same college credit consideration going forward. An IB certificate has no bearing towards college credit. AP has been the gold standard in the United States for years. Even though this administration and current board has touted the IB program for several years, it still has not gained considerable popularity with Sag Harbor residents. With that said we now have it. I think parents and students should be aware that as the AP is gradually phased out so, too, will be college credits toward course work that students would have received through the AP program.
As of now the College Board does not recognize IB as a significant standard of teaching to give college credit. Yes, certain schools do evaluate an individual’s IB learning experience and general course studies; but, presently there is no standard that is accepted by the College Board. One has to ask if IB is so good why it is not recognized by the College Board. Instead of improving the current AP program they have adopted a new entity that is inferior in every aspect towards a valued education.
Here are some facts that administrators and board members did not share with parents. AP is accepted at three times as many colleges and universities than IB. AP is recognized by the College Board, not IB. IB credits do not equate to the same value as AP credits. IB tests cost more then AP. IB transcripts have to be sent to each school separately and parents must pay for each transcript to be sent. AP transcripts are sent free of charge up to five schools. IB fees are more expensive then AP. So far the Sag Harbor board has not released how much IB fees have cost the district nor do they have anticipated fees going forward.
There are currently 34 AP courses available for college credit. Why didn’t they make more courses available? IB does not have nearly that many. Instead of discarding AP we should have worked closer with local universities and colleges to secure additional college credit via college transcripts. How much more value is AP vs. IB? Consider this, the average private university tuition is over $28,000 a year so that means that a highly motivated student may save themselves and their families potentially more then a full year of college tuition. At 30 credits that is a considerable amount of savings. I encourage parents to research how many colleges and universities accept AP vs. IB credits and if you do so you will see that AP is the clear choice. In fact go to your local library and look at “Petersons Four Year Colleges” book. You will see it mentions AP but, not IB as a standard of acceptance. In addition check with schools, most have a print out of AP courses that they accept and what college credits your students will receive. A good way for you to pre-calculate what the student will get in terms of college credits at that institution. No such standard exists for IB. I also encourage you to navigate both the AP and the IB web site and compare what you think is the more transparent.
My concern is for the future of Sag Harbor. You have built a sound foundation and are now abandoning AP for IB. Parents and students thought we would have a choice of both programs but now in just a few short years we will have only one. The real question is how many children will you have hurt by adopting a program that will cheat them out of the value that they would have gained if you continued to improve on your current AP program. Public education is for all; but, now you have in place where very few will actually graduate with an IB diploma and most students will not even receive the college credit that was available under the AP program. Taking more away and giving less in return is not progress it’s a step backward.
Thomas M. Jones