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Fact-finder for Ridgewood teacher contract talks to return in February

BOE_the ridgwoodblog


Despite recent optimism that contract discussions between the Ridgewood Board of Education (BOE) and Ridgewood Education Association (REA) could conclude in the near future, the process seems to have ground to a halt once again.

This past week’s BOE meeting featured a series of events that have become standard: opening remarks were made; a couple of presentations took place; and then public comments opened up, with various members of the REA coming to the microphone to have their say. While not all of the comments were related to the negotiations, the majority were.

After the public comments, Sheila Brogan, president of the board, read from a prepared statement, explaining that the talks between the REA and BOE had slowed once again, and that even with the state-appointed mediator, no agreement could be hammered out.

“As has been the case since the parties’ first meeting back in February 2015, when the association declared an impasse, the main issues have been negotiating the levels of employee share of health care premiums, the cost of premium and type of plan and fair salary increases while staying within what the board feels the taxpayers can support,” Brogan said.

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N.J. changes certification requirements for teachers

NOVEMBER 4, 2015, 6:49 PM    LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2015, 11:27 AM

TRENTON – Aspiring teachers will face tougher standards to enter the profession under revised rules that the state Board of Education adopted on Wednesday.

In one of the biggest changes, the board voted to require students to do 175 hours of clinical work in a classroom setting before they start their full semester of student teaching.

Education Commissioner David Hespe said the state was answering a “clear call to action” to help students by helping their teachers.

“In particular, we know that hands-on experiences are invaluable in preparing teachers, and not all candidates have been getting enough of that time in the classroom,” he said. “Providing more of these experiences will lead to better prepared teachers, which in turn leads to increased student achievement.”

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Ridgewood Schools Superintendent of Schools Comments on Police Presence at Schools

"security walk through" at Ridgewood Schools

file photo courtesy of Boyd Loving’s Facebook

October 30, 2015

Dear Ridgewood Public Schools Parent or Guardian,
This letter comes on the heels of recent media reports that Ridgewood Police presence has increased at our schools as a result of a student incident.
First and foremost, I want to assure you that our students and staff are safe. I would also like to clarify that in a school district as large as ours of nearly 6,000 students and over 800 staff members in 11 buildings, isolated student incidents occur from time to time that require our highly trained professional staff to request additional interventional support.
We are fortunate to collaborate with community partners such as the police and outside mental health professionals for their dependable expert assistance at those times. In such situations, communication with district parents and guardians requires a delicate hand.
As you can imagine, these incidents are very private events for the individuals involved. It is our goal to make every attempt to communicate appropriately while maintaining confidentiality so as to protect the health and privacy rights of the individuals. Every school incident that occurs provides the opportunity to refine our Emergency Response Plan and prevention protocols.
You are aware that in the recent past our district has experienced two safety incidents that thankfully turned out to be false alarms, a hoax swatting incident last May and a mistaken trespasser event in October. These incidents, in combination with the nationwide upturn in violence on school campuses, have helped us to determine that an increased Ridgewood Police presence in our buildings is warranted at this time, as a preventative measure.
I hope you share my perspective that an increase in police presence at our schools is a positive precaution. The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority.
Thank you for your continued understanding, support and trust.
Sincerely yours,
Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools
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Ridgewood Gymnastics scoring skyrockets to highest since 2006


OCTOBER 30, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2015, 12:31 AM

RIDGEWOOD — Mika Tamura was waiting to be surprised, and was she ever.

The Ridgewood High School junior knew she had put together a strong performance at last Friday’s Bergen County gymnastics championships. Still, she wanted to hear the official announcement of all-around scores from meet director Trisha Piotrowski.

“In third place, with a score of 37.225, from Ridgewood…”

Tamura set a career high. By a lot. And she wasn’t the only one.

Ramapo’s Emma Johnson (meet-record 38.7) and Samantha Marion (38.025) did the same to finish 1-2. Their school set a meet record by scoring 113.175 to top Ridgewood for the title, despite the fact that the Maroons (111.375) posted their highest total in nine years.

The top four teams — which also included Pascack Regional and Holy Angels — combined to tally 437.375 points, obliterating the previous mark for top-four aggregate (426.45) set in 2006.

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Ridgewood students get a glimpse of career option at Valley Hospital


OCTOBER 29, 2015    LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2015, 10:04 AM

Last week marked the beginning of the 10th year of the Ridgewood Academy for Health Professions (RAHP) program.

During the kickoff on Tuesday, 36 Ridgewood High School sophomores took a tour of Valley Hospital in order to get an idea of what goes on behind the scenes, and of what kind of work they would like to pursue as part of RAHP.

“This is their first exposure to RAHP,” said Maureen Curran, manager of media relations and communications at the hospital. “This shows them all of the different aspects of the program, which lets them choose what they want to continue with.”

The program takes RHS students interested in working in medical professions and gives them firsthand experience in that field.

“It definitely looks good on their college applications,” said Sandra Kunzle, the RHS liaison to RAHP. She added that the majority of RAHP students pursue degrees in pre-med or other healthcare-related fields.

RAHP was created in 2005 by Peter Diestel, executive vice president of Valley Hospital; Sheila Brogan of the Board of Education; and Bob Hutton, a former Board of Education member.

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Ridgewood teachers rally as contract talks continue


OCTOBER 30, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2015, 12:31 AM

A teachers’ rally took place Monday outside the Education Center.

The event occurred just before Michael Yannone, president of the Ridgewood Education Association (REA), entered the building to commence the second and potentially final negotiating session with a mediator present between the REA and the Ridgewood Board of Education.

“This is a sign of unity for the negotiating team that’s about to walk in there,” Yannone said at the event. “As a member of that team, I greatly appreciate this.”

Ridgewood Board of Education President Sheila Brogan said while a settlement wasn’t reached at the meeting, “The board understands the teachers’ wish for a settlement. We too want to settle the contract.

“We had a positive dialogue, but were unable to settle the contract,” she said. “The fact finder spent the evening talking with both sides and decided to move the process to a formal fact-finding hearing.”

According to Brogan, the fact finder is scheduled to return to Ridgewood on Feb. 3.

“At the hearing, he will listen to both sides and issue a non-binding opinion in an attempt to settle the contract, she said.

“Moving forward, the board’s negotiating team is willing to meet with the REA’s team to resolve issues and settle the contract.”

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Ridgewood High School Boys’ and Girls Soccer Teams are 2014-15 NSCAA High School Team Academic Award Recipients


RHS Boys’ and Girls Soccer Teams are 2014-15 NSCAA High School Team Academic Award Recipients

October 28,2015

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The RHS Boys’ and Girls’ varsity soccer teams were recognized by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) with the 2014-15 High School Team Academic Award.

To qualify for this award, the team must have a minimum grade point average of 3.25 for the entire academic year. The team GPA is determined by adding every player’s GPA, then dividing by the number of players.

The Maroons soccer teams were among 398 teams nationwide to be recognized for exemplary performance in the classroom as a team during the 2014-15 academic year. RHS is among 51 schools receiving honors for both their boys’ and girls’ teams. The RHS girl’s soccer team has been recognized 16 times for this achievement.

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The Ridgewood High School Marching Band has placed 1st at a competition for the 3rd straight weekend

photo courtesy of the RHS Marching Band
October 29,2015

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The RHS Marching Band has placed 1st at a competition for the 3rd straight weekend. At Ridge High School the band was awarded best music, best percussion, best color guard, best visual performance, and best overall effect. The band will compete at NJ State Championships on Saturday, October 31 at Rutgers University.

The band also won first place and captured awards for Best Music, Best Percussion, Best Visual Performance, and Best Overall Effect at the USBands competition at Pequannock High School on October 10.

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Ridgewood Schools Still Shine but Nationally Math, Reading Scores Slip for Nations’s School Kids


2015 Ridgewood District-wide Science Testing Report
Click here to read the District-wide State Testing Report for Science 2014-2015, presented to the Board of Education on October 19, 2015 by the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Cheryl Best.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Results from national math and reading tests show slipping or stagnant scores for the nation’s schoolkids.

Math scores were down for fourth and eighth graders over the last two years. And reading grades were not much better: flat for fourth graders and lower for eighth graders, according to 2015 results released Wednesday for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam.

The falling mathematics scores for fourth and eighth graders mark the first declines in math since 1990.

The results suggest students have a ways to go to demonstrate a solid grasp or mastery in reading and math.

Only about a third of the nation’s eighth-graders were at proficient or above in math and reading. Among fourth graders, the results were slightly better in reading and in math, about two in five scored proficient or above.

The report also found a continuing achievement gap between white and black students.

There were a few bright spots: the District of Columbia and Mississippi both saw substantial reading and math gains.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged parents, teachers, and others not to panic about the scores as states embrace higher academic standards, such as Common Core.

“We should expect scores in this period to bounce around some, and I think that ‘implementation dip’ is part of what we’re seeing here,” Duncan said in a phone call with reporters. “I would caution everyone to be careful about drawing conclusions.”

Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, echoed Duncan.

“One year does not make a trend,” Minnich said at a panel discussion Wednesday. “We set this new goal for the country of college and career readiness for all kids. Clearly, these results today show we’re not quite there yet and we have some work to do.”

The Common Core standards were developed by the states with the support of the administration. They spell out what students should know in English and math at each grade level, with a focus on critical thinking and less of an emphasis on memorization. But they have become a rallying point for critics who want a smaller federal role in education and some parents confounded by some of the new concepts being taught.

The NAEP tests, also known as the “nation’s report card,” don’t align completely with Common Core, but NAEP officials said there was “quite a bit” of overlap between the tests and the college-ready standards.

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Politically Correct Conditioning: It Starts Early In School

10/27/2015 06:05 PM ET

Indoctrinated: Some can recall a time when our campuses of higher education were zones where free speech thrived. That was another era, though. Today’s students want speech restricted. How did it come to this?

The results of a poll that should be shocking, but sadly aren’t, show that 51% of students favor their “college or university having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty.”

Oddly, 95% say that “the issue of free speech” is important at their college or university, while 73% believe that the First Amendment is “an important amendment that still needs to be followed and respected in today’s society.” Only 21% told the Buckley Free Speech Survey that it is “outdated” and “can no longer be applied in today’s society and should be changed.”

Maybe these findings are not so odd, after all. In today’s America, “free speech” and “First Amendment rights” tend not to include any expression that doesn’t conform to left-wing ideology.

Seven years ago, almost two entire college generations in the past, the Acton Institute observed, “Students at colleges and universities who articulate conservative and traditional views are at particular risk of bullying and indoctrination by campus administrators and faculty who are zealous ideologues.”

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