A group of Montclair parents, who are part of the group Montclair Cares About Schools, is holding a free public forum for parents, educators and community members on Sunday, October 6 titled “Which way, Montclair? A community conversation about our schools.”
The two-hour session will feature a panel discussion and question-and-answer session on issues that include: the impact of high-stakes student assessments; the need for transparency and democratic dialogue in school district decision-making; and ways to build on the traditions of excellence and equity in Montclair’s nationally recognized, integrated school system.
The event features three panelists and a moderator, all active on education issues on a state or national level. Three are longtime residents of Montclair. The panelists are:
Stan Karp, director of the Secondary Education Project for the Education Law Center, co-editor of the national school reform journal Rethinking Schools and a longtime educator and Montclair parent;
Debra Jennings, co-executive director of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, a former Montclair Board of Education member, and parent of two graduates of Montclair High;
Sharon Krengel, coordinator of Our Children/Our Schools, a statewide advocacy network and a former school board president in Highland Park, N.J.
The moderator will be Michelle Fine, who teaches at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and is parent of both a graduate of Montclair High and a current student there.
“We hear from parents who want a full and open discussion about recent troubling changes that have been imposed on our town’s schools, including the new district wide quarterly assessments and their implications for the everyday learning experiences of our children,” said Elana Halberstadt, a member of Montclair Cares About Schools. “This sort of open and informative dialogue has unfortunately been largely missing from our town’s Board of Education meetings.”
The forum will focus on the current situation in Montclair schools while also looking at the school system’s rich history and future possibilities. Panelists will also put the recent developments in Montclair into a state and national context, outlining how policies that have been pushed in New Jersey by Governor Christie and implemented in other places around the country are affecting students and schools.
“Our focus is Montclair,” said Marcella Simadiris of Montclair Cares About Schools. “But we think it is also important for people to understand how what is happening in our schools fits into a larger pattern playing out in New Jersey and elsewhere. Montclair residents should know how parents and some school boards in our state are fighting back for quality schools, student supports and an end to the dangerous overemphasis on standardized testing.”
Montclair Cares About Our Schools formed soon after Superintendent Penny MacCormack shared her Strategic Plan for the district. The group created a petition asking BoE to defer the adoption of the plan, but were unsuccessful.
Which way, Montclair? A Community Conversation About Our Schools
Who: Parents and Educators
What: A two-hour forum featuring a panel discussion and question-and-answer session on issues that include: the impact of high-stakes student assessments; the need for transparency and democratic dialogue in school district decision-making; and ways to build on the traditions of excellence and equity in Montclair’s nationally recognized, integrated school system.
Where: Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, 67 Church Street, Montclair, NJ, 07042
When: Sunday, October 6 from 3 pm – 5 pm