Sunday, April 20, 2014

NY TIMES ON SOUTH MOUNTAIN DAM

If you missed it last week, The New York Times did a good write-up on the effort to stop the damming of the Rahway River in South Mountain Reservation.

It said, in part:

Striding through the South Mountain Reservation, a patch of wilderness in an otherwise highly developed corner of New Jersey, Fred R. Profeta Jr. does not see the stands of oaks and maples or the shimmering streams so much as their absence.
A lifelong hiker and former mayor of nearby Maplewood, Mr. Profeta is in the vanguard of a movement to stop what he says is the planned destruction of the heart of the reservation, a county park more than a century old through which the west branch of the Rahway River flows.

During Tropical Storm Irene and other major storms, the Rahway, usually more of a creek, caused severe flooding in communities downstream like Millburn and Cranford.

Ever since, local officials have appealed to the United States Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a way to stop the floods, especially in an era of climate change when extreme weather is expected to become more common.

This spring, as part of its study of solutions, the Army Corps released a preliminary analysis of the cost-benefit ratios of seven flood-mitigation alternatives for the Rahway River Basin.

See the rest HERE.

Also stay up with the cause at http://sornj.org/

HAPPY TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE EASTER

An oldie but a goodie


EASTER DOES NOT STOP TWO OPEN HOUSES TODAY

You can see both open houses and still get to the Easter Egg hunt and/or church.

The holiday list HERE.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

SO-MA SCHOOL RACIAL DISPARITY CLAIM HITS STAR-LEDGER

Walter Fields, a Maplewood parent, penned this harsh column for The Star-Ledger on Friday that claimed a racial inequity in our schools.

Is this a fair claim?

In his column, Mr. Fields, a former NAACP leader, cited an ACLU report earlier this month that claimed the South Orange-Maplewood School District was one of 136 districts statewide that had "discriminatory identification problems." And threatened legal action.
 

The column states, in part:

Today, as a parent and resident of Maplewood, I am confronting diversity mythology in my community and discovering the modern-day version of Jim Crow in the corridors of our school buildings. Our town boasts of its diversity and claims to have achieved a relative post-racial nirvana that does not hold up under close inspection. 

What I have discovered in almost two decades as a resident of Maplewood, and observed in neighboring South Orange, is that race relations is "performance art," in which we engage in symbolic exercises of diversity in public settings that belie the true status of black children relative to their white peers.

This is clearly evident in the shared public school district of South Orange and Maplewood. Six decades after Brown, we maintain a school system where the racial disparities are breathtaking and black students are disadvantaged in numerous categories. Recently, the school district was a party to a state court consent decree for its treatment of black special-needs students and was cited as one of the state’s 10 worst districts for segregation of these students by race. 

The district also has been cited by the American Civil Liberties Union for discriminatory practices in student enrollment that harm immigrants and, in the case of our schools, mostly Haitian students. These are just two examples of the betrayal of the principles of Brown evident in our public schools.

As early as elementary school, we begin to hear anecdotes and see patterns emerging of disparate treatment of black children — and black boys in particular. This is consistent with recently released U.S. Department of Education data that reveal the degree to which black preschool age children are disciplined relative to their white peers.

Read the entire piece HERE.

GREAT PHOTO EXHIBIT TODAY

MEET THE TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE TODAY

The Maplewood Township Committee will meet today for its "Talk to the Township Committee" program, which gives the public the opportunity to meet with the Township Committee informally to discuss ideas and concerns. 
Outside Walgreens, 1633 Springfield Ave., 9 a.m. to Noon.

Friday, April 18, 2014

TUSCAN LETTER DISCOURAGING CLASS PLACEMENT CHANGE REQUESTS

Tuscan Principal Malikah Majeed, whose practices we have not always agreed with, is setting a May 9 deadline for parents to submit their requests for student placement for the 2014-2015 school year.

We have always been fairly vocal against parents seeking to change class assignments so we have to agree on this one.

The entire letter issued Thursday is below:

Dear Parents/Guardians:
Happy Spring!


Spring Recess is Friday, April 18th – Thursday, 24th. Please remember, Tuscan School will be open on Friday, April 25th.


We have already begun planning for a wonderful, positive and productive 2014 - 2015 school year for Tuscan’s students, faculty and staff. Our goal is to continue our focus on meeting the needs of all of our students through high expectations and exemplary instructional practices. We believe that the learning process evolves uniquely for each child and take great pride in recognizing our students as individuals.


To create the best learning environment possible for each and every student, soon we will be establishing classes for the coming school year. The goal of this vital professional task is to ensure that all classes will support productive and joyful learning experiences for all of Tuscan’s students.


In order to create optimal classes for teaching and learning, numerous factors must be considered by teachers when they convene in grade level meetings to equitably create heterogeneously grouped classes. Student placement is based on each student’s academic strengths, work habits, areas in need of growth and development, social and emotional skills, as well as, students’ temperaments, interpersonal relationships and interactions with peers. Gender and ethnicity must also be considered.


We know that individual children require certain kinds of classroom environments or teachers with particular teaching styles. Teachers are aware that certain children need to be - or need not to be with certain other children. We must consider all of these factors in order to create the best possible combination of classes for teaching and learning.


While a parent’s desire to see their child placed with a specific teacher is singular, our efforts are based on multiple factors and considerations; therefore parental requests are strongly discouraged.


Should you have a compelling concern that you wish to share, a letter must be submitted to the principal only and not to your child’s classroom teacher no later than Friday, May 9, 2014. Your understanding and cooperation is greatly appreciated.


We appreciate your active involvement and we thank you for your continued support. The staff and I hope that the Spring Recess will be an enjoyable and rejuvenating time for you and your family.


With warm regards,
Malikah Tamar Majeed
Principal

GOOD FRIDAY OPEN AND CLOSED

Have a blessed Good Friday and remember that Town Hall is open, but the libraries and schools are closed.


SPRING BREAK BEGINS, BUT WITH THE STUPID ONE-DAY RETURN

So today begins spring break for our students with yet another stupid move to counter the overuse of snow days by making students come back next Friday for class even though school is closed the remainder of the week.

Maplewoodian.com has reported in the past that as many as 30% of teachers and 40% of students do not attend class on that day.

We realize this is done via a state law regarding when graduation can be held, but it remains a poor policy.

From the district this week:

District & Schools Open on Friday, April 25, 2014
Reminder:  Schools will reopen on Friday, April 25, 2014.  This is a make-up day, since the District used 4 emergency closing days, rather than the 3 days provided for in the 2013-2014 School Year Calendar amended by the Board of Education on September 16, 2013.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

TUSCAN SCHOOL KINDERGRTEN REGISTRATION CLOSED

So, apparently, if you did not register your child for kindergarten at Tuscan before now, you are out of luck.

This from the school district:

2014-2015 Kindergarten Registration Update

Please be aware that Kindergarten registration for Tuscan Elementary School for the 2014-15 School Year is currently closed. Any new Kindergarten registrants residing in the Tuscan attendance area will be assigned to an alternate District elementary school.


The Board of Education directs the assignment of pupils to the schools, programs, and classes of this district consistent with the best educational interests of pupils and the best uses of the resources of this district. (Board Policy 5120).


Board policy 8110 requires the Superintendent to review the existing attendance areas annually and to recommend to the Board of Education regarding any changes.
Pupils shall generally attend the school located in the attendance area of their residence. 


However, the Superintendent may assign a pupil to a school other than that designated by the attendance area when such an exception is justified by circumstances, including the balancing of enrollments at specific grade levels between schools as necessary. 

While pupil assignment to a school other than their zoned school is infrequent, it does occur and is supported by Board policy. Pupils are not guaranteed a specific school based on location of their residence.

All such decisions of the Superintendent shall be final. Every reasonable effort shall be made to permit pupils so assigned by the Superintendent to be continuously enrolled in the same school.

HILTON NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION MEETS TONIGHT

The Hilton Neighborhood Association will hold its meeting tonight at the Hilton Branch Library, 1688 Springfield Avenue, at 7:30 PM. 

Meet Jen Burkholder the new manager of the Hilton branch, and Amanda Eigen the senior librarian. 

Learn more about all the services the branch provides, the useful databases and websites, Mango, the foreign language program for adults and children, the new books, the variety of CD's and DVD's and BCCLS, the new consortium that provides access to the materials of over seventy-five other libraries. 

If you want to get a library card, make sure you bring a driver's license, utility bill, rental agreement, etc. to show proof of residence.

Everyone is welcome to come. The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, contact cabms@aol.com or 973-761-4672. Refreshments will be served.

TEEN TECH ZONE AT THE LIBRARY

3:30 pm - 6:00 pm
 
Main Library -  We now have an XBOX 360!!
 
Teens, join us in Memorial Hall to play Wii, Playstation 2, use laptops or just hang out.  Tech Zone is run through a partnership between YouthNet and the Maplewood Library.