Article

A HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL, FROM THE PLANET … plus … OUR CONTINUING EXPOSE OF ‘THE GAME’ BEING PLAYED IN THE NAME OF PUBLIC EDUCATION (CLUE: ‘It’s not about ‘The children’ … It’s about ‘the money’).

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING, NOV. 23, 2011) — First item of business is to wish everyone reading this website a happy, healthy Thanksgiving Day. On the air this morning at “Good Morning, Pittsfield” with my Rt. Hon. Good Friend John Krol (unanimous winner in his unopposed bid to remain Ward 6 councilor), THE PLANET said Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday, because it’s the one that the money hawks haven’t succeeded in fully commercializing.

Quit the “Eternal Hurry,” At Least for One Day

We love the notion of taking a day off from the “eternal hurry” of our lives, pausing, and “giving thanks.” An attitude of gratitude leads us into the wider perspective on and of our lives. A spirit of thanks for the events, places, people, objects, and circumstances in our lives can get us out of own heads, where the whirlwinds of difficulty often swirl with but not escape. They need an outlet. They need pause.

They need thanksgiving — not so much the formal day but the inner sense of spirit. As the late- great Peter Arlos used to say, “It’s over in a flash.” It gets no faster or slower in thanks, but it does get much more fulfilling, which is to our way of thinking, the basis for peace of mind.

Enjoy the day. Enjoy the life.

————————————————————-

What’s Wrong with ‘The Scam’ of Public Education in Pittsfield

THE PLANET struck quite a nerve with yesterday’s posting on the Pittsfield School Department. The horror stories abound — some made on this site, others shared in private. Pittsfield schools are sick, and it’s not for lack of money. One could more easily argue the opposite: They are sick because of the largesse of taxpayers, who fund a dysfunctional system to the tune of $82 million a year, which accounts for two out of every three dollars spent in the city of Pittsfield.

The great divide occurs in middle school. Pittsfield grammar schools seem to be performing reasonably well by several measures, including objective test scores and more anecdotal indicators. In middle schools, which THS principal John Vosburgh calls “out of control,” it seems that the insidious onslaught of smart phones, texting, and other technologies are doing their damage.

Kids are not “growing up” faster, they are losing their childhoods faster. Technology permits helicopter parenting techniques whose end result seems to be a generation more foul-mouthed, less disciplined, more out-of-control, less couth, dumber, more technologically savvy, and more cynical than any of its middle school predecessors.

These are the kids who are beginning to enter high school. There, the drop in performance off the face of the earth is complete. As we have seen, seven out of every 10 students in city high schools is either called a “special ed” student or from what it euphemistically called “the low income stratum.” That’s not a performance issue, you say? Wrong. The schools turn this majority sub-population into an excuse to expect less, dumb it down, and look the other way while the kids largely do what they want in a series of “F— yous” to teachers, administrators, and taxpayers.

The Gimme Group: Handouts are a Way of Life Courtesy of Taxpayers)

It used to be low-income carried a stigma. Welfare was designed to give a hand up, not a hand out. Today, “low income” has become for far too many a way of life whose disciples have an entitlement mentality and a “gimme” mindset.

These irresponsible parents breed in excessive numbers “for the money.” They love it because, for example, teen moms with kids out of wedlock climb aboard the gravy train. The schools love it, because they have another cash cow, which is how they see “special ed” pupils,” who generate state and federal money to be used to fund excessive pay/benefits packages for administration and teachers.

The state loves it, too, because in being able to shuffle off these low lifes — generalizing: the Sec. 8 crowd, the relatives of people serving time in the county jail, the drug users and sellers — the Commonwealth can practice social engineering. What, do you think the excessive number of group homes and welfare cases of one sort of another in Pittsfield happen by themselves? The state can move these populations out of more “desirable” communities into cities like Pittsfield, a move that has great political benefits. The city receives money and the GOB tried hard to hide to provisos.

This creates a culture we see on full display in the city’s middle and high schools. For example, How else could $9,000 in prom money be stolen in class night, with no accountability? How could the building be vandalized that night with alleged drinking and drug use in PHS without an administrator, teacher, or someone being held responsible?

In fact, the vice principal of PHS at the time of the theft, a man who we hear personally co-approved the opening of school doors after hours for pranks, got promoted into a $94,000 position as an assistant superintendent.

Where is Accountability in Pittsfield’s Public Schools?

Accountability involves justification for every dollar spent and every action taken or not taken on the taxpayers’ behalf involving public education. That department should have a bullseye on it for Mayor-elect Dan Bianchi and the incoming council and school committee, for the simple reason of its gigantic share (2/3) of the entire municipal budget.

THE PLANET recommends the implementation of a forensic audit of the entire department by an independent company as the first step of the new government. This will determine if the books add up, where the spending is achieving its goals, and where it is not. To refresh your memory (from the Oct. 31, 2011 PLANET):

After an internal audit at Putnam Vocational High School, Springfield school officials are taking preventative measures. Officials have ordered an audit for all high schools and middle schools because the audit from Putnam produced a paper trail no one expected. (THE PLANET’s underline).

“I want to send a message loud and clear that we have cleaned up the financial management at Putnam and there is now a very clear segregation of duties at the school with checks and balances,” says Springfield Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram.

But for about five years, there wasn’t a system of checks and balances that went through the school district’s central office. When Gil Traverso started the 2010 school year as principal at Putnam Vocational High School, he requested the audit. After 13 months of compiling figures, the findings are public.

“(The discoveries of the school audit include) the use of school funds to purchase equipment for personal use, double billing the system for reimbursements, disregarding protocol for vendor selections and using the school’s vocational resources for personal use,” Ingram say

Are these things happening in the Pittsfield public schools? No one can honestly answer the question. Supt. Jake Eberwein can’t nor can the junior-most employee. The only way taxpayers can begin pressuring public officials into results for the public education dollar is to determine the benchmark. Where do things stand now with the $82 million of yearly expense (not too long ago,$82 million would have funded the ENTIRE CITY BUDGET!)?

A Forensic Audit of the School Department: The First Step in an Action Plan of Performance

No one can reasonably object to  forensic audit (different than the simply “check the math” audit currently done by the city). If the books and practices are on the up-and-up, this will give taxpayers a sense of relief and increase their trust on a system sorely skirting thin ice in this regard — at least according to perception. If, however, we turn up problems such as Springfield’s, we will find out the where, the when, the who, and the how … and for once, insist on accountability. Reward performance, punish failure. Simple as that.

The problem with public education in Pittsfield (not exclusive to Pittsfield, to be sure) is how political “the schools” and “the children” have become. Teachers unions have all but destroyed the ability of honest administrators to run an equitable ship (the strictures imposed by tenure and seniority rules, for instance). Milquetoast administrators, on the other hand, worrying about their performance reviews, have incentive to paint unrealistically rosy pictures and, time and time again, refuse to back teachers who do insist on high performance and behavioral standards for their pupils.

The Massachusetts Democratic Party has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Massachusetts Teachers Unions in the same way that the local politicians cower before and cave in to the city teachers’ group. The playing field is “public education.” The score is “money.” The rulebook is “politics” in the worse sense of that word.

Who Will Step Forward?

Who will have the courage to buck the system? Who will have the care in public service to fight for taxpayers and tell local public education that a new system of accountability, transparency, and performance will be expected? Will it be Dan Bianchi? Terry Kinnas? Barry Clairmont? Which of the “new guys” will push the old into their true responsibilities?

Who will put the hard questions to the school administration when it tries to stampede Pittsfield into a school building construction and/or upgrade binge  when, according to the state, the Pittsfield School Department did not include the public in its plans and showed them squat before submitting documents to the state? Who will finally say, “Enough! This isn’t good enough!”

When will the hard questions be put to fear-based claims we hear during each budget cycle, designed to panic parents, students, and politicians into giving the schools more and more, though they produce less and less (unless the product is bureaucracy)? Example of a fear-based claim, to date unsupported: “Our high schools are aged and worn, risk losing accreditation, and do not support current and future educational needs of students.”

That claim was made, and accepted unquestioned, by School Superintendent Jake Eberwein. Who asked him the simple question: Why do you claim the current high schools “do not support the current and future educational needs of our students” when you know, or should know, that this is a curriculum problem, a teaching problem, and a discipline problem and not a bricks-and-mortar problem?

Eberwein told the council on Oct. 11, 2011, “The quality of public schools can make states and localities more economically competitive.” He’s right. They can. In saying this, though, one sees the ruse at work: Implied, that the schools are NOT doing this now, because there has been little to no economic growth in Pittsfield. Answer: More money. Eberwein’s Oct. 11 propaganda effort was an exercise in the “create fear so as to get more money” game.

No one called him on it.

Here’s another question: If it is true that great schools create economic growth, and if it is true that Pittsfield has seen no vibrant economic influx, then the schools must be doing a bad job. Each of these statements is true. For $82 million, for eating up two of every three dollars Mark Jane and Joe Kapanski must pay up to run the city, the Pittsfield public schools have done, are doing, and — if left alone — will continue to do a lousy job for We The People and for the community. Left alone in the bubble bath of the status quo, the school department will continue to exist as a separate kingdom, designed to enrich its administrators and vassals while using kids as political pawns.

Who will step up and say, “Fellas, the gig is over. You’re going to start singing for your supper?” Who?

—————————————————————–

HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL. THERE WILL BE NO PLANET IN HONOR OF THE DAY, BUT WE SHALL RETURN ON FRIDAY WITH MORE EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE ON THE ITEMS, EVENTS, AND PEOPLE OF THE DAY.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

65 Responses to “A HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL, FROM THE PLANET … plus … OUR CONTINUING EXPOSE OF ‘THE GAME’ BEING PLAYED IN THE NAME OF PUBLIC EDUCATION (CLUE: ‘It’s not about ‘The children’ … It’s about ‘the money’).”

  1. Ron Kitterman
    November 23, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    I was driving thru the town of Adams this morning and was held up in traffic with school getting let out for a half day for the Thanksgiving break. In the middle of the road was a school crossing guard holding a sign that signaled traffic to stop and go. What a handle these small towns have on traffic and school kids. This idea would work wonders if it was tried in front of PHS. If the students can not be controlled outside the walls, I wonder what the behavier is like inside ? Just a thought, HAPPY THANKSGIVING

    • Jeffrey Turner
      November 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

      There isn’t a high school in Adams, so I don’t know what you’re comparing PHS to.

      • Joetaxpayer
        November 24, 2011 at 7:51 am #

        The High school is in Adams until the renovations at Hoosac Valley are complete.

        • Joe Pinhead
          November 24, 2011 at 8:21 am #

          Not to mention the charter school, regardless Mr. Kitterman never mentioned a high school he clearly stated “school kids” it’s an old ploy- change the facts, the context of the discussion when you can’t advance the current discussion.

  2. Ray Ovac
    November 23, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    DV, the BB scooped you on news of the new baseball franchise coming to Wahconah. But the Park Commission’s decision begs the question why a new contract is being negotiated by outgoing Mayor Ruberto instead of waiting til incoming Mayor Bianchi takes over the office? This really stinks and makes me think that the Good Old Boys are determined to hamstring Bianchi.

    • danvalenti
      November 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

      RAY O
      Incorrect, my good friend. THE PLANET had this news weeks ago. We also had the Parks Commission decision on the night it happened (truth be told, we knew of the 5-0 vote BEFORE the vote, though we can’t say how. We had other plans for the site and the story didn’t fit in with those plans. We do agree that the timing may appear curious, rushing this through under Ruberto instead of Bianchi. However, it means a two-momnth difference, and experience tells us that a new franchise trying to establish a foothold at Wahconah Parks needs as much of the off-season as possible. From what we know, we approve the Parks Commission decision to get this in now rather than wait until later. Besides, it’s Thanksgiving. We don’t mind giving the boring Broadsheet this tidbit — again, which we had first!

      • Boom
        November 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

        Dan, did you get fired by the Eage? This whole “I knew it before them but just didn’t say anything” is very childish.

        • danvalenti
          November 23, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

          BOOM
          No. I have NEVER worked as an employee there. One year ago, after I started this blog, I informed them that I would no longer be writing columns for them (I did it on a free-lance basis). I did the same later at The Pittsfield Gazette. Just didn’t have time for print. While I may yet resume my Gazette gig, I can’t see the circumstances under which I would agree to let the Eagle publish my work. As for “I knew it before they did,” I’m just telling you the facts. I published on this site, weeks ago, my scoop of collegiate baseball being the city’ next gig. I also knew before the votes were cast Tuesday night which of the two ownership groups would win. Why is it childish to report the facts? Tell me.

          • andy
            November 24, 2011 at 11:35 am #

            the bb had that weeks ago, too, dan. then there was some movement, which is what they wrote about recently.
            anyway, boom, my newsroom sources tell me dan got cut loose from the eagle. either way, I agree with you about how dumb it is that EVERY time dan misses a big story, he either ignores it or posts a little note claiming he had it, but just didn’t feel like posting it. not very believable on a blog where every morsel of gossip that gets run by him gets typed up and printed. But Dan, we all know in our heart of hearts that you’ll always be king of the retroactive scoop.

          • danvalenti
            November 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

            ANDY
            Your newsroom sources have to be fictional. I was NEVER employed there, just as I was NEVER employed by the Gazette or WBRK. I’ve always sold my services on a contract (in layman’s terms, “freelance”) basis. I didn’t want anyone to have my services on an exclusive basis. I withdrew my services from the Eagle one year ago, in November, about six weeks after I began this blog. It’s amazing the ignorance people such as you still maintain about my career. Do you still have no idea of how I generate income? Do you still have no idea or clue as to the purpose of this blog? No, Andy, I won’t draw you the map. You’d get lost anyway. Thanks for the post, though.

      • Jeffrey Turner
        November 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

        The vote was only 5-0 because that’s how they wanted it recorded. There was more disagreement on the commission.

  3. tito
    November 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Did you see the thug with the weapon robbing the stores with a gun to the workers head. If they get caught, a mandatory twenty years in prison.

    • Scott
      November 23, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

      They did get caught last night and as it turns out it was a BB gun but he still gets charged as if it was real. They tried robbing the elm street domino’s again and got busted a guy and a girl was his get away driver,

      • danvalenti
        November 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

        SCOTT
        Love the pun here: ” … a BB gun.”
        It reads like, ” … a Boring Broadsheet gun.” Funny stuff … and witty!!

        • Scott
          November 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

          My point was a lot of the robberies lately have been with air pistols what are one of these clowns going to do when they pull one on the wrong person and they’re really packing heat? Scary…

      • Joe Pinhead
        November 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

        They didn’t appear to be the putting food on the table type of armed robbers. The video clearly shows the perp pointing a gun at the three in the pizza shop now the upstanding young man is claiming he was pistol whipped! Please

        • danvalenti
          November 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

          JOE P
          Yes, the poor young man was an innocent victim of the modern age. Also loved how the BB reporter got the name of the girl wrong in second reference, before the story jumped inside, making it confusing (were there two or three suspects? There were three last names used).

  4. The Kraken
    November 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Another myth perpetrated by the teacher’s union is the need for less students per classroom. This myth is just a ploy to have more teachers hired and to ensure the teachers have even less work to do, as if the mere 181 days of work a year wasn’t cushy enough.
    The Dems want to take hard working American’s tax money and give it to people who don’t want to work.
    The Repubs want to take hard working American’s tax money and give it to the rich.
    We are screwed.

    • danvalenti
      November 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

      TK
      Indeed. We have long argued this. Classroom size, per se, has NOTHING to do with quality of education, whose variables have nothing to do with the number of warm (or cold) bodies in the room. Fewer kids per classroom is, right-o, more jobs. It’s also a tacit admission to what we often hear from students, parents, and teachers — That kids rule today’s middle- and high-school classrooms, and the push for fewer students is a push for smaller gangs. In other words, it’s a form of crowd control. Administration and teachers’ unions will never admit this. They will tell you they have perfect control. Everything is great, except for funding. They need more money, then things will be perfect. Except that no matter how much money they steal from taxpayers, the local product still reeks redolently.

      • Jeffrey Turner
        November 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

        Over four years in the late 1980s in Tennessee, researchers assigned children in 79 schools to classrooms ranging from 13 to 25 students. They found significant academic advantages in reading and math for students in small kindergarten and first-grade classes, and the effects diminished in second and third grades.

        http://www.educatedreporter.com/2010/07/what-class-size-research-really-says.html

        That we can’t say more than that with certainty doesn’t support your notion that class size doesn’t matter. Assigning more work because it’s not an overburden to grade, and giving more personalized attention to students sure seem like small class sizes help.

        • Joe Pinhead
          November 24, 2011 at 7:09 am #

          I’m confused here; I did take the time to go to the Link Mr. Turner posted. The study did take place however the results are essentially meaningless. Moreover the resulting question isn’t really one of class size per say it has more to do with the quality of teachers to draw from should the class size be reduced. Simple math says if I reduce class size I need to add instructors, not a hard concept to follow. If the rush at McDonalds is between noon and 2 pm they add more staff, the manner in which you get your order is different however the nutrional value is the same. Simply reducing the wait time does not decrease the calories.
          In a separate post Mr. Turner says Fox news is biased; I will not argue it is or it isn’t here however I will ask Mr. Turner to explain the By Laws of the EWA. If they are not biased what does Article II Section 1.1 part B mean?…..” but whose primary purpose is advocacy for particular policy solutions, organizations, ideas, or products.” Advocacy for particular policy solutions, so if results of a test or study do not agree with my position they will not see the light of day? That’s fair it’s their study but please don’t throw out a charge of bias and then hold out this group.
          Just sayin

          http://www.ewa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=abt_bylaws

        • Joetaxpayer
          November 24, 2011 at 7:55 am #

          Like any study the numbers could be skewed,to make one point.Aka global warming/climate change.

    • Ray Ovac
      November 23, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

      The Kraken, you write, “The Repubs want to take hard working American’s tax money and give it to the rich.” Huh? Whose money is it in the first place? Why should people who’ve worked for their money have to subsidize people who pay NO taxes?

      • Jeffrey Turner
        November 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

        Nobody pays no taxes. Stop kissing up to the rich.

      • The Kraken
        November 24, 2011 at 11:28 am #

        Ray,
        The welfare payments (aka subsidies) that are given to big oil is just one example of our tax dollars being given to the already wealthy. And if you dig further you’ll find that with all the loopholes (eg. GE paid zero taxes last year) the rich actually pay a lower percentage of taxes than the middle class. If you do not believe me, ask Warren Buffet who readily admitted he is taxed at a 17% tax rate while his secretary who makes 50k a year payes 30%.
        When liars like Sean Hannity scream that the top 1% pay 40% of the taxes he is leaving out the fact that the top 1% make 90% of the money. If the top 1% are making 90% of the money, why aren’t they paying 90% of the taxes? Please go ask your Republican friends why. The Dems are no better of course. We, the hard working middle class, are screwed my friend.

        • danvalenti
          November 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

          SCOTT FITZGERALD: “The rich are different from you and me.”
          ERNEST HEMINGWAY: “Yes. They have more money.”

        • Ray Ovac
          November 25, 2011 at 8:34 am #

          TK, both you and Warren Buffett are being incredibly disingenuous by comparing apples to oranges. Buffett knows damn well that the lower tax rate he pays is only lower than the rate his secretary pays because his rate is based on capital gains on stock he’s cashing in that he’s held since the mid-1960′s, whereas his secretary is paying taxes based on her earned income of the past 12 months. You and anyone else can do the same as Buffett is doing if you own ANY asset over one year and then sell it at a profit. Buffett bought his Berkshire Hathaway shares in the 1960′s and probably paid on average between $60-$70 per share. It’s value today on NYSE is $111,000 per share (that’s NOT a typo, check for yourself, symbol: BRK-A). Why are you so quick to suggest raising taxes on capital gains and on those who create the jobs when it is far more logical to lower the capital gains rate to zero and lower the secretary’s (and everyone else’s) rate on earned income from 30% down to 15%? Why instead aren’t you suggesting the government should dramatically cut spending by 50% so it can get by on less money?

        • Ray Ovac
          November 25, 2011 at 8:39 am #

          TK, why instead aren’t you suggesting that everyone should pay something in taxes so that no one gets a free ride? Right now the situation is that there’s a whole set of people paying zero in income taxes and simultaneously getting subsidies from government and these same people are electing legislators who then increase the subsidies given to these freeloading non-taxpayers. Where’s the social justice in that?

          • The Kraken
            November 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

            Ray,
            I agree that those who aren’t paying taxes should do so. Especially corporations like GE, but yes individuals too even if they in the low income bracket.
            But why aren’t you suggesting that the capital gains tax be raised while earned income be lowered? Capitol gains are UNEARNED income. In other words, no one worked a minute (except to call their broker or click on a website) to receive that money. Paychecks are EARNED income – someone actually worked for that money. Why on earth would you punish hard working Americans while rewarding those who did not work for their capitol gains? That just doesn’t make sense.
            And let’s debunk the myth that the wealthy are ‘job creators’. That is hardly the case, unless you consider part time/no benefit jobs like pool boys, gardeners, etc. really good jobs. If you consider that job creation then I am a job creator too as I have hired plumbers, carpenters, etc. to do work on my house. So where is my huge tax break?
            The real job creators are the companies, corporations, and small businesses that create them. Not some rich a$$hole that plays the stock market all day. And you want to cut that rich a$$hole’s taxes.
            One more point, tax breaks to the wealthy do NOT create jobs. They just keep the money for themselves, that is how they got rich in the first place. It’s called greed. I am very surprised you are unaware of this. But then again, when someone who is not rich (can I assume you are not?) defends the rich why should I be surprised?

    • Scott
      November 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

      I disagree smaller classroom settings are better children actually get one on one time with the teacher.

      • danvalenti
        November 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

        If the teacher is first rate, class size does not matter. If the teacher is mediocre or worse, you could have one kid in the class and it would be a bad experience. It’s about teacher quality, not class size.

  5. Concern
    November 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL. ALSO MY CONCOLENCES TO THE FAMILY OF BERNIE POWERS. RIP BERNIE YOU WERE A GOOD MAN!!!!

  6. Joe Blow
    November 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    John Stossel had a great special on fox a month or so ago about public education in America. I was shocked at what he uncovered!

    • danvalenti
      November 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

      JOE
      Yes, the facts of the scam that masquerades as public education is shocking indeed. That’s why the U.S. ranks 18th among industrialized nations in education. That’s why America is getting beaten so badly in the global marketplace. That how the local school department in a county seat (read: Pittsfield) can on the one hand claim they are doing a great job while on the other implying that taxpayers are short-changing education and if they can only “get more money.” Also, we are turning out high school seniors who absolutely cannot complete with their international peers. Sad, sad, sad.

    • Jeffrey Turner
      November 23, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

      I’m sure it was an unbiased investigation. Ha. Just more propaganda from Fox.

      • Scott
        November 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

        ABC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx4pN-aiofw

        • Jeffrey Turner
          November 27, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

          Still, I was intrigued to read of a well-designed study released today by the Center on Education Policy that challenges decades of research on the advantages of private schools. “Contrary to popular belief, we can find no evidence that private schools actually increase student performance,” said Jack Jennings, the center’s president and a former staffer in the Democratic-controlled House, in a press release. “Instead, it appears that private schools simply have higher percentages of students who would perform well in any environment based on their previous performance and background.”

          The study suggests vouchers for private schools are unnecessary because — once you control for socioeconomic status — students at private schools aren’t performing any better than those at public schools. The study says that it is “the kinds of economic and resource advantages their parents can give [students]” — as well as the level of parental involvement in their kids’ education —that determines success or failure in high school. That’s a message the teachers’ unions and Democrats in general love: The problem isn’t in the schools; it’s with social inequality.

          Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1670063,00.html#ixzz1eyRfilHT

        • Jeffrey Turner
          November 27, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

          Oh, and all the complaints about unions? The South Carolina schools that have the worst stats? South Carolina is a “right to work” state, there aren’t teachers’ unions. There’s no consistency in the report, it’s propaganda.

      • Ray Ovac
        November 25, 2011 at 8:44 am #

        Jeffrey Turner how is the news and information from FoxNews, which you allege is propaganda, different in substance from the propaganda you get from MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, CNN, National Public Radio, New York Times, Washington Post, Berkshire Eagle, and WAMC?

        • Molly
          November 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

          “Like” — good point!

        • Scott
          November 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

          Probably not much different but I know for a fact Fox news will lie to protect advertising dollars see Jane Akre/Steve Wilson Vs fox news. but really the program was from abc so he can take his foot out of his mouth now.

  7. Scott
    November 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Welcome to the welfare police state!

  8. JUST SAYING
    November 23, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    DV-

    American society is crumbling at an exponential rate. I believe its to late to save it. The top and the bottom are joining to destroy us. Your comments reflect this. Sad state of affairs.
    As to the robber pictures, too bad one of the employees wasn’t carrying. The cops are minutes away when seconds count.
    Happy holiday to all. Enjoy.

    • Jeffrey Turner
      November 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

      Another gun nut with Serpico fantasies, eh? 30,000 dead Americans a year aren’t enough for you idiots, eh?

      • Concern
        November 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

        Better look at yourself before you call others idiots. Also check your facts

        • Jeffrey Turner
          November 27, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

          The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides,[5] with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 due to suicide, while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths.[6]

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States

      • Scott
        November 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

        Would it make you feel better if they were pushed out of windows? An armed society is a safer society. can’t wait until the 28th!

        • Jeffrey Turner
          November 27, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

          You got that bumpersticker memorized, eh? Too bad the nuimbers don’t back it up, Rambo.

      • JUST SAYING
        November 24, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

        JT-
        Gun nut? Not even close.
        How about an American citizen who knows his rights, protects his family and is aware that this nation is not a friendly place.
        You can continue to live in your little liberal world.
        Real men know that the wolves are only afraid of those who are willing to defend themselves and their families.
        Perhaps you should take off your blinders and read about what goes on in this country.
        Your simplistic views are inane. Every American should at the least be ready to defend his/her domicile/public work place with deadly force.
        Do you really think the criminals give a shit about the laws? They don’t. All the regulation only restricts law abiding citizens from defending themselves against those who operate with no regard to law.
        30,000 dead due to guns? Please post the stats as to how many of these deaths are due to legal weapons used by their owners. Compare those numbers with the events where the shooter/gun was illegal. You could open your argument with the deaths of border patrol agents murdered by guns that were sold to mexican drug cartels by gun shops forced into the transactions by agencies controlled by Holder and 0bama.
        JT are you uniformed? Or just a hater of Liberty and the defense of life?

        • Molly
          November 24, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

          Great post!

        • Jeffrey Turner
          November 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

          You’re more likely to get shot by yourself, or a family member or friend, than you are in some random shooting. So your gun isn’t protecting your family, it’s endangering them. But you’re a gun nut who will make any excuse to justify your fetish. You’ve got all the liberty you need to die from your own gun.

    • Ray Ovac
      November 25, 2011 at 9:01 am #

      JS, American society ain’t crumbling. There’s just lack of real leadership at the top (top meaning White House). Sad state of affairs? Hardly! Right now — RIGHT NOW — is the best buying opportunity of the past 80 years. If you’re interested in laying groundwork for your future and that of your children now is the time to invest in hard assets like stock in good companies and desirable real estate.

      • JUST SAYING
        November 25, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

        RO-
        We are all entitled to our opinions. I believe that yours is ignorant.
        The entire world is in a state of economic collapse. The reserve currency of the world (USD) is being destroyed. Other nations are calling for a new reserve currency. There is some potential for short term gains. However, the market is all over the place. Long term the dollar will be weak. The only places I see any profit are in silver and gold. Also some gains in cotton and wheat. I’m sure there are others, but that’s where my money is. Depends when you got in, and what your base was.
        Perhaps your investments have done well.
        Eight years my house is paid off. I think I will stay away from stocks for now. New so called free trade agreements are being singed into law. Sounds like more job loss.

  9. Browning
    November 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    This series on the school department has been one of the most important stories published anywhere in the city or the county this year. Just saying may be right, its (society)_ too late to save society going down the tubes. Love the way he puts it, the top and bottom feeders are eating away at the middle.
    Happy thanks giving to all.

  10. Jeffrey Turner
    November 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    As all the money is going to the richest 10%, there’s none left to bring the bottom out of poverty. Manufacturing jobs – unionized jobs – that used to lift people out of poverty have moved to China. People would take higher paying jobs if they were available. Did you think it was some magic in the old parochial school skirts?

    Massachusetts has some of the best schools in the country, far better than non-unionized states. You still run away from that simple fact. Where’s _your_ accountability?

    • Molly
      November 24, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

      It sure sounds like you are advocating for Communism. Or that you don’t truly understand how Capitalism works and how our Republic works. You state, “As all of the money is going to the richest 10%…” – going to the richest 10%? Do you think that there is some person that sits there and doles out money to the richest 10%, thereby not leaving enough to bring the bottom out of poverty? Hello? In this Republic of ours, everyone has the opportunity to work hard, save as much of their earnings as possible, take a huge risk and start their own business – and then work even harder to grow that business (if they choose), and if successful, also hire numerous workers which gives them the same opportunity. Sometimes (many times) the risk that they took was too great, or for any one of a number of reasons, the risk they took was the wrong one and then they start all over again – usually many times before they “make it”. OR, they choose to not take that risk at all and to work hard at someone else’s company. This is the “land of opportunity!” And of personal choices. Try living in China, or in Russia or in Iran and come back here to post to us all how you liked it and what you learned (as you likely couldn’t post what you really want to from those countries).

      This country takes care of its poor and has always been more than willing to pitch in and help out a person or family that has met with hard times. Also, our government has numerous programs to “temporarily help them out” – which is a good thing as hard times could happen to any one of us and our country has always been more than generous. The problem comes when it is not just temporary (for someone who has the ability to work and to make his/her own way) and it is now EXPECTED. Why should someone who has worked hard all of his/her life be forced to pay for someone who chooses not to and just expects to be taken care of? How is that fair? How is that company going to make money to be able to keep its employees working? The purpose of the business is to make money! Why do you think of that as a sin? Do you think that you should be able to just take their profits for your own use because you want them?

      The unionized jobs have moved to China and to Mexico, etc., because although the unions have had their place in history and were needed, they became very greedy and brought everything to the extreme. So if a company can no longer afford the unreasonably high union wages or can no longer afford having massive walk-outs because it’s the first nice day of spring, guess what? They’re going to shut down that business and open it up in China where those workers are willing to work hard, even though it is the first nice day of spring and they would prefer to be outside and enjoying it. Perfect example of this is GE.

      As for teacher’s unions, the five non-unionized states (Virginia, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina & South Carolina) actually do perform better than the unionized “collective bargaining” states when all of the facts are taken into account – do your homework!

  11. dusty
    November 24, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    Dan I can’t answer your question of who will step up to the school bigwigs and demand accountability. But it would not surprise me if there were a group of trembling souls hovering over the “books” wondering if someone will really come to look at them. I imagine wagons are being circled to circumvent such an occurrence even as we eat our Thanksgiving dinners.

  12. Pompey
    November 24, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    And dusty, not only a lot of trmebling folks in the schools worried about the books, but a lot of paper shredding going on. Can’t say for sure but the wife of my best friend works in the admin bludg for school (corner of First and Orchard). He say she told him of lots of sheredding of financials and other records. Is this legal?

    • Scott
      November 24, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

      only if the documents being shredded contain information about illegal activity. also if one out of three dollars is going towards school how much is going towards infrastructure and the jail? If you ask me the jail is a big scam too not saying it’s not needed but it could probably use an audit as well.

      • danvalenti
        November 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

        SCOTT
        I wish only one of three dollars went to the schools. In fact, it’s TWO OF EVERY THREE DOLLARS of the city’s budget goes to the school department: $82 million out of a $120 million budget. The city doesn’t pay for the jail. The state does. The School Department should be the No. 1 focus of the new mayor and council — BUT ESPECIALLY THE NEW SCHOOL COMMITTEE. There is evidence to believe there is massive waste going on within that $82 million, if not out-and-out chicanery. If the school department and the superintendent wants to say “No,” then let’s get an outside, independent, forensic audit — top to bottom — and find out. Then, the city must begin to address the problems of out-of-control spending, courtesy of ruinous contracts negotiated in the taxpayers names to make the teachers union happy.

  13. Mark Smith
    November 25, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    Let’s not forget that over $30 million of that $82 million is kicked in by the state.

    • dusty
      November 25, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

      If so are you suggesting that $30 million did not come from the taxpayers?

      • Scott
        November 26, 2011 at 7:29 am #

        I know right what difference does it make they’re scamming us on a local, state and federal level WTF.