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>BOE Vice President Responds to Residents Concerns on TERC


25 thoughts on “>BOE Vice President Responds to Residents Concerns on TERC

  1. >I think Vallerini has been misconstrued. He cares. He wants to get the bigger picture. He wants to hear from parents more, not less.

  2. >hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  3. >I am outraged that the B of Ed has ignored the needs of Travell for so long. The test scores are a disgrace and leave parents humiliated to admit that their kids attend Travell. How come the B of Ed failed to notice this and take action? Obviously, parents at Travell are afraid to speak up. Perhaps Dr. Arilotta wasn’t as “nice” as the story goes? Did he quietly intimidate people into keeping their mouths shut, many would say yes. Is the elephant in the room the socioeconomic issues? Is it o.k. for the B of Ed to ignore the Travell issue? Members of the B of Ed would you act the same way if it were Ridge School? Does the B of Ed just think that the kids at Travell are dumb? Stop saying that TERC is working at Orchard and so therefore everything is o.k. Who really knows how much supplementation has been going on at Orchard or in the homes of Orchard families? Regardless, a comparison to Orchard is insulting. Who cares about that comparison? Isn’t it enough that the scores at Travell stink when compared to the entire State of NJ, a state with crummy standards to start with? Isn’t it enough that property values are being negatively impacted by a low performing school? The bottom line is that Travell is broke and, for the love of God, would someone on the B of Ed have the courage to fix it.

    Many parents at Travell have been fighting with the administration and faculty for years – many years. This is not a new discussion. What is new is that out of incredible frustration the conversation has become more public. What is new is that this sad math approach has now broken into BF. I ask parents at Sommerville and Hawes to wake up and take a stand – If you are quietly tuning in and enjoying a sigh of relief that this is not your problem – think again – and, the stakes are even higher. Benjamin Franklin Middle School is now using Connected Math – some would call it TERC for big kids. Do you understand that the curriculum that boasts “Algebra for all” is a no child left behind version of the truth. Stop the dumbing down of the BF curriculum. Or, sit quietly by and watch how your kids measure up to the GW kids that will take three important years of traditional math. The choice is yours.

  4. >5:01 Well stated and obviously from the heart. I encourage you to share that at a BOE meeting and rally your friends at Travell who know the reality of what you’ve shared. One is coming up on June 18th. I have a feeling that there will be other parents there to support you like those courageous parents that consistently make pleas to the BOE. I know that you speak the truth. THE TRUTH CAN NEVER BE DENIED!There is a petition to remove reformed math from our schools. You can sign it and pass it along to everyone in town that you know.

  5. >”Perhaps Dr. Arilotta wasn’t as “nice” as the story goes? Did he quietly intimidate people into keeping their mouths shut, many would say yes. Is the elephant in the room the socioeconomic issues?”

    Well said. He has two sides. If you’re a parent that supports him and does his bidding, he loves you. Also he’s supportive of his teachers.

    But if you’re a parent with questions, concerns, or dare to disagree, watch out. He becomes defensive and intimidating. I”ve been cut off mid-sentence, when I was doing nothing more than politely expressing a concern.

    As a result, two people can describe him entirely differently, not unlike two adult siblings having been raised in a dysfunctional home where they were treated quite differently–they will feel as though they’re not describing the same parent or same home.

    Yes I agree that there’s a great deal of pent-up frustration at Travell. It was a dysfunctional place for many years.

    I beg all those who read and follow these blogs and the — we need new parents to speak to the Board of Ed. They get tired of hearing from the same old people.

    Please speak your mind at the microphone. It’s not that hard to do. You can read from a script.

  6. >You don’t even need a script. Everyone who thinks TERC is a problem should show up at the next meeting, stand in line, and say “TERC is bad for our kids, and bad for our schools.”

    Enough said.

  7. >It is the hardest thing for people to do, stand up and address an authoritative body.

    But the more who do so, the better for all concerned. We live in a Republic and our representatives need to hear from those who have elected them.

    I encourage all to speak up. It can be one sentence or 4 minutes. Just stand up for your children.

    Be an example of what citizenship is about. Let your children see you defend and fight for their future. It will be a gift treasured by them forever.

  8. >It’s time for someone to go to one of these meetings and speak up against you people. I will not be surprised to see people come forward to defend Travell and all it is. I know I will be at the next meeting for this reason.
    No one person can be loved by all in an administrative role. But more people loved Dr. Arilotta than did not. If he did not agree with something you said then he let you know. Always with the children in mind.

    I urge supporters of Travell to come to the mic at the next BOE meeting and speak up.

    Once again, it’s okay to not like TERC and take a stance. It’s quite another to rip apart the people. We are not ashamed to say our children go to Travell. It’s quite the contrary. We wouldn’t want our children anywhere else.

  9. >Because Arilotta resigned, there’s not much point in focusing on him.

    Vallerini is being disingenuous. I have watched parents come to BOE meeting after meeting, presenting FACTS (not just opinions), a signed petition to remove fuzzy math, and clear alternatives to fuzzy math. I listened to these parents. I checked their very informative websites (thanks). I get it, and he doesn’t?? Oh, puhleeeze.

    Mr. Vallerini, if you really don’t get it despite the very clear, respectful, and detailed presentations of these residents then DO YOUR HOMEWORK. I saw you at the 2004 BOE meeting, where the BOE discussed a vote to revise policy 1120. Though this item was on the agenda and you had the entire weekend to prepare for the discussion, it was clear you didn’t even know what the existing policy 1120 was. Clearly, you had not done your homework. You hadn’t even bothered to read the existing policy.

    So what does Vallerini do in this video? He does the inexcusable:he says he is “tired” of hearing from residents at the mike. But our elected officials are supposed to WELCOME public comments. We have a right, protected by law, to speak at these meetings. He should have THANKED these residents for bearing witness before the BOE and public. These residents had worked hard, gathering data and presenting it so that the BOE could make INFORMED decisions.

    He criticizes the residents for leaving…why should they have stayed when based on previous experience there was every reason for them to expect the BOE to say nothing?

    He also tarnishes these residents of Ridgewood by suggesting the BOE is hearing only from a vocal minority with a fixed, as he puts it, “agenda,” but nothing could be further from the truth. Parents don’t like to have to take unpopular positions and for every parent who has exhausted all other options and is finally driven to appear before the BOE, there are many more who don’t dare speak out.

    Mr. Vallerini makes it very clear he prefers math discussions to be held in a different setting, out of public view. I can understand why because, as time goes on, more and more people are tuning the TV channel to these BOE meetings. Therefore the BOE’s obdurate silence has been making it look bad…really bad. So Mark was finally driven to read a prepared statement.

    To those of you who think Vallerini is just misunderstood, let me provide you with examples of what he could have done:

    1. He could have THANKED residents for bearing witness.
    2. He could have ENCOURAGED them to continue to do so.
    3. He could have suggested the BOE hold a special PUBLIC session to discuss the math program.
    4. He could have suggested to the BOE that at this special public session the 4 minute rule be suspended to allow anyone to speak as long as they wished.
    5. He could have also suggested that the seating for this special session be arranged to ensure that BOE officials faced the public.
    6. He could have suggested that the format of the special session be flexible, enabling the public to speak at will and allowing for back and forth dialogue between the public and BOE officials. (Rather than the inflexible setting of just one or two public comment periods.)
    7. Since administrative officials like Botsford are almost always present at the BOE table, anyway, they would and should be part of this discussion. Residents should be allowed to publicly question Botsford and other administrators about the math program. The administrators should be allowed to freely respond.

    The main ground rule for this special session should be that all participants would try their best to show respect.

    Mr. Vallerini’s comments and this BOE’s headlong rush to hire a hard-line fuzzy math superintendent (whose appointment was kept under wraps until AFTER the election), reveal a profound lack of respect for Ridgewood residents.

    They think they know what is best for us. That they don’t have to listen to us. Now that some of us are getting to be pesky, they want to hold math program discussions in secret. This runs counter to the democratic process.

    What they don’t seem to realize is that ALL of us, together, are smarter than only SOME of us (them). “The Wisdom of Crowds” should be required reading for BOE officials.

    Those of you who love and believe in democracy, insist on a special public session to discuss the math program.

  10. >6:32 and everyone else… here is the statement regarding public comment from the BOE, “Comments shall be limited to issues. If personal remarks or discourteous statements are made, the presiding officer shall require the speaker to stop. No person will be recognized for a second time until all others asking to speak have been heard. So, to 6:32 and everyone else, it’s great that you wish to support your school and exercise your right to speak at a public meeting but there are limitations. No one has made any discourteous remarks about any school staff at the recent BOE meetings. People have been sticking to their agendas and trying to share info regarding the math programs in our schools. 6:32 if you are happy with your child’s math education, then go and make a public comment about it. Hopefully one that is backed by examples of why you feel the way you do.

  11. >Dr. Arilotta stood by us when the consultant and staff wanted our son put on Ritalin. He stood by us against special ed. classification. He saw the same bright bouncing boy we saw. He stod by us in times of great family crises. He walks on water in our book. The Egans

  12. >To 6:32… Travell’s math rank in NJ for 2006 was 270. Somerville, Ridge and Willard ranked in the top 50. Do the math.

  13. >When the top 200 mathematicians in the country (some Nobel Prize winners in math and others awarded the world medal of honor in math) jointly sign a letter condemning reform math programs one ought to listen. That’s just common sense.

    When Harvard and Stanford PhD’s in mathematics question the validity of these math programs one ought to value their insight. That’s just common sense.

    When the incoming Superintendent comes from a district which garnered more than 900 signatures to rid their schools of this math (which the incoming superintendent actively promotes) one ought to pay attention. That’s just common sense.

    What doesn’t the Board of Ed understand? Maybe they need a hire one more consultant – a specialist in common sense.

  14. >Stop being defensive about Travell you are not helping your kids or anybody else. My kids go to Travell too and I really liked/like Dr. Arilotta. I am not humiliated that they go to Travell but come on – if you aren’t embarassed by the crummy scores you are crazy or just in defensive denial – I love the school but – get over it – our scores stink and should be fixed – it is not the teachers – they rock – it’s not the parents – they care – it’s the curriculum – maybe it’s Regina Botsford – I don’t know – but I want it fixed. Also – whoever mentioned that Sommerville and Hawes should get on this because of the BF situation is right on – wake up neighbors before it is too late – wake up everyone else on the West Side – say “not in my school” before it is too late.

  15. >What does ritalin have to do with Math? I like Arilotta too but really?

  16. >I am curious, based on Ridgewood election rules? Can you put on the ballot a referendum to remove TERC and its associated programs from the schools? What about other changes?

  17. >The issue is Math, but when the BOE does not respond to the concerns of the parents and the taxpayers, when they, dismiss the concerns, critize and judge … they then inivte the voters to questions their ability and qualifications to execute their responsibilities! We have not only a right, but a responsibility to question our ELECTED officials!

  18. >Why is no one addressing the fact that perhaps math scores are low at Travell because of the large number of special ed children whose scores are added in with everyone else’s.

    And why has BF gotten better math scores than GW for a few years?

    Just because you think TERC is evil doesn’t mean it’s not working for a lot of kids.

    Why can’t you folks be a little more openminded?

  19. >In response to 11:13 PM:

    No one will dispute that it’s a good thing if TERC is working for some kids. Apparently it’s NOT working for a lot of kids (look at the petition) and research has shown that discovery math programs just don’t do a thorough job preparing kids for upper level math skills necessary.

    Before you blame spec ed kids for low scores, you need to analyze whether of not TERC actually works for them. Abyssmal tests scores are probably an indication that this controversial teaching method is not working.

    There is no definitive research to show TERC’s effectiveness for spec ed kids (or any other kids for that matter). Home tutoring, KUMON and other outside of classroom help needs to be factored in before TERC is given ANY credit as working.

    Why is it necessary to be openminded about kids learning a math, when there are tried and true methods that provide a solid foundation? Parents want a sure thing for their kids education, not a gamble on an educational experiment.

  20. >In response to 11:13 PM:

    Why can’t the proponents of TERC be open-minded?

    They argue “it’s math for all”. Dr. Ives presented as much at a conference.

    Yet when it is shown that it is not working “for all”, the proponents attempt to blame those children.

    Ask yourself this – what was broken way back in 2000 that caused this fuzzy math and ideology to be brought into our district in the first place?

    Travell still does not rank in the state as well as it did back in 2000. And the numbers reflect the rest of the state raising its bar but Ridgewood not raising its own bar by the same amount.

    They threw the baby out with the bath water and now they are trying to blame the baby for it.

    And if so many like TERC, then just do this — offer Saxon or Singapore Math or Houghton Mifflin in one class room per grade level at Travell and at Orchard — see where parents want to choose where their kids to go.

    It won’t be in the TERC classes.

  21. >I agree with 6:56 AM.

    Offer different math choices and open enrollment.

    I doubt the TERC classrooms will be filled.

  22. >I can’t believe someone is blaming poor math scores on the Special Ed kids…those kids scores are weighted differently in the test results.

    Good try though…

  23. >”They think they know what is best for us. That they don’t have to listen to us.
    What they don’t seem to realize is that ALL of us, together, are smarter than only SOME of us (them). “The Wisdom of Crowds” should be required reading for BOE officials”

    When the “wisdom of crowds” turns into a MOB MENTALITY it is time to separate the REAL CONCERNS of most to the HIDDEN AGENDAS of others.
    I hope we all can see through this, stick to your cause and don’t be influenced by the few trying to wage personal vendettas using your banner!

  24. >The “Wisdom of Crowds” certainly does NOT refer to a mob mentality.

    If you had read the book, you would have realized that it supports the best values of democracy; namely, encouraging the most voices, possible. It means embracing dissent as a means to working smarter.

    This is why the wisdom of all of us is greater than the wisdom of only some of us. A mob would certainly be only some of us. The TERC parents are only some of us. The BOE is only some of us. Any special interest group is only some of us. Like I said, All of us, together (BOE, TERC, non-TERC, etc., TOGETHER), are smarter than only some of us. This specifically excludes mobs.

    The BOE should be embracing dissent and trying to learn from it, rather than circling the wagons and offering only TERC II.

    “Using your banner.” This last time I checked, this blog was open to ALL voices and not the domain of any single cause or banner. It’s just a blog that doesn’t seem to be censored, favoring one voice over another. Because there are many voices, the official anti-TERC group can’t be blamed or complemented for what these voices say. If you want to know this group’s members and official positions, check out

    All in all, I find this post downright odd, suggesting “hidden agendas” (what the heck could those be??) and “personal vendettas” (again, just name calling witout specifics).

    Jane, is that you?

  25. >It is interesting to see how much Frances Edwards is resented by those who are in the shadows and always seem to take the side of the status quo and the political class of our Village.

    This begs the question, are they jealous of her effectiveness? Her willingness to stand up for children, help parents navigate in a political struggle, her ability to out smart the village idiots hanging them time after time by their own words and deeds in the media – maybe that is what is truly resented. For those who oppose her, do so out of a knee-jerk reaction. Could it be because she is black and should “know her place”? A little to uppity for some “progressive” minded people.

    She is a lot smarter than her detractors and gets a lot more done. Can anyone name a time when she has been wrong about an issue concerning the children of this village?

    I appauld her efforts in helping these parents rid this district of this crappy math program foisted upon us by the “elite.”

    You go girl. Lead your troops into battle. Your side is winning the debate. Press onward, hard.

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