Montclair Education Association Re-elects President to Second Term

BY  |  Monday, May 12, 2014 5:56pm  |  COMMENTS (77)

Montclair Education AssociationThe membership of the Montclair Education Association (MEA) re-elected its president, Gayl Shepard, to a second three-year term by an overwhelming majority. Shepard’s second term begins July 1, 2014 and runs through June 30, 2017.

“I am proud to represent the Montclair Education Association for another term,” commented Shepard.  “I will lead this union of dedicated educators as we work collaboratively with the Montclair School District and Montclair Community to provide the best education for every public school student.”

In its press release, the MEA lists Shepard’s accomplishments during her first three-year term (2011-2014) as:

  • Successful negotiation of the 2013-2015 contract between the MEA and the Montclair School District; the contract included no loss of MEA positions and the reinstatement of health benefits for most paraprofessionals;
  • Appointment to the National Education Association (NEA) Governance Review Committee; and 2014 NEA Northeast Institute
  • Appointment to the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Human Rights Committee;
  • Honored as a 2014 Ambassador by the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation;
  • Recipient of a 2014 Shirley Chisolm Award for her work in education.

In the same election, Montclair High School teacher Petal Robertson was elected to the position of Vice President of the Montclair Education Association.  Robertson also will serve a three-year term.

The Montclair Education Association is comprised of more than 1,000 educators (ninety-two percent of the Montclair School District’s employees), including teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, secretaries, custodians, technicians, buildings and grounds personnel, and security personnel.





  1. POSTED BY montclairschoolswatch  |  May 13, 2014 @ 10:27 am

    Congratulations to Gayl on her re-election. We are are glad she is pledging a new collaborative approach, but we have reservations (and reasons for them) on whether she will follow through.

    Read more over at the blog:

  2. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  May 13, 2014 @ 11:40 am

    “So while we’re clearly very skeptical, we do really hope that she’ll change her ways.”

    So montclairschoolswatch, who is “we”? Your website is very mysterious. Under your link “About Montclair Schools Watch” there’s actually no mention of what “Montclair Schools Watch” is about, and no mention of who the “we” might be that you refer to. In fact there’s no mention of any affiliation on the website at all, though you are very “agressive” with your tone in attacking anyone who speaks out about education who is not supportive of the Super and the Board.

  3. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  May 13, 2014 @ 11:47 am

    montclairschoolswatch, I especially love your post about how we that are skeptical about the Common Core must be homophobic lovers of the Koch brothers. I mean that’s a real gem. Right out of the Karl Rove songbook.

  4. POSTED BY samwich  |  May 13, 2014 @ 11:53 am

    Well getting back to the point of the post, there are legit concerns about how “collaborative” Shepard is gonna be. If she is going to transition from these pitched battles to kumbayas, great, but skeptical is a good word to use while waiting for proof.

  5. POSTED BY samwich  |  May 13, 2014 @ 11:56 am

    Past is prologue, as they say.

  6. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 13, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

    The ends justify the means, Pete. Get with the program!

  7. POSTED BY Gretcheninthekitchen  |  May 13, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

    Not to mention the contract $$ boost. If I remember there was a lot of hubbub when the blog dropped that Gayl missed her own tax payments but was still hitting us up for more money, nevertheless the press release gives her props for maneuvering to secure a nice financial package for MEA members.

  8. POSTED BY sandybeach  |  May 13, 2014 @ 12:21 pm

    There is SO MUCH animosity here while the facts twist in the wind. Karl Rove comparisons are a good way to demonstrate your seriousness.

    In the mean time, Shepard HAS been at the center of many fights, wherever there was bickering and controversy, you will probably find Gayl. That’s just the plain truth whether you like it or not.

    So it’s hard to fault skeptics when they raise their hand and say “hey, that’s all well and good, but we’ll go ahead and brace for more fights until we see real changes.”

  9. POSTED BY cspn55  |  May 13, 2014 @ 12:27 pm

    Pete -to be fair, nobody knows who “assessmentgate” is either and both sides are using the same annonymous attacker play book.

  10. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 13, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

    No one knows who Assessmentgate is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not Gayle Shepard, so I don’t see why people are using Assessmentgate’s anonymity as justification for an anonymous, mean spirited blog attacking Ms. Sheppard. I have never heard her insult Ms. MacCormack or anyone else. She certainly hasn’t gone digging into their past to sling mud at them. I find it very interesting that people would focus on a 20 year old tax issue but not care at all about what may have actually occurred. It is a personal issue, but has anyone attacking Ms. Sheppard bothered to ask her for her side of this story? Have they considered that there may well have been extenuating circumstances for any problems she may have had? Or are we all now guilty till proven innocent? People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. I’m sure the wonderful people behind montclairschoolswatch are all perfect people who have never done anything wrong, made a mistake or who had a life problem prevent them from doing something on time. Nice to know that if you make a mistake, people will hold it against you the rest of your life.

    It seems to me that if the people behind this blog really believed in their cause, they would focus on presenting solid arguments showing why we should all love MacCormack and her strategic plan and the Common Core, rather than demeaning those who disagree with them. That is the tactic of the weak.

  11. POSTED BY cspn55  |  May 13, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

    NYC i am not at all commenting on the validity of the Schoolwatch website or who is right or who is wrong in this internet debate. That wasn’t the point at all.

    I was pointing out that annonymous commentators on Baristakids or Patch or anywhere else online are using the same tactics whether they hate the super/common core/BOE or support the the super/common core/BOE. On the anti-side there have been numerous comments about how MacCormack doesn’t live in NJ, illegially fired the Glenfield Principal, took a trip to DC during the test theft debacle along with Kulwin to watch Cory Booker being sworn in on the taxpayers dime and other malfeasance……without much to substantiate it. Now the pro-BOE side has their own bottom of the barrel attack dog out there using much the same tactics. We should not be surprised.

    I have no problem with Shepard having a tax issue, it happens and hopefully people learn from being in financial trouble (though I advise anyone to scrape up the dough from somewhere legally, sacrifice elsewhere in spending and pay the gov since that judgement stays with you). However, I am not surprised that once the other side got some dirt,they used it. This is apparently how Montclair works. As the 2012 election showed us, our neighbors can be sleezy regardless of their side of the debate.

  12. POSTED BY assessmentgate  |  May 13, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

    Comparing my anonymous posts to the anonymous posts of the MTCSchoolsWatch crew is a very sloppy and inaccurate argument. Here’s why:

    In all of my posts on BaristaKids, Patch, and Facebook, I’ve never attacked anyone’s personal life: I’ve only criticized their professional behavior, comments, and decisions.

    The post about Gayl Shepard on the MTCSchoolsWatch blog is a sign of desperation from the supporters of MacCormack, Kulwin, and the BOE. They know that they’re losing the battle of public opinion, and that their positions are weak. They have no facts to present which validate MacCormack’s policies, so instead, they launched a personal attack on the president of the MEA in an attempt to shift attention from their own failures.

    The character flaw among the BOE’s supporters who are rationalizing the attack against Gayl Shepard is the same character flaw among the BOE’s president and members who rationalized the idea of unethically subpoenaing their critics in November 2013.

  13. POSTED BY kjaxs  |  May 13, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

    NYCmontclair, she was guilty. Unless you have a verdict from the court that shows that she was not guilty. It’s also interesting that the top bullet point of the press release touted her ability to negotiate higher wages for the employees. Of course the union is going to re-elect her when she’s able to get a raise for all of them.

  14. POSTED BY musingsbymull  |  May 13, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

    Anonymous is anonymous. The opponents of the board can’t criticize anonymous posts when they engage in the same tactics. What I find disingenuous is that some of the criticisms of montclairschoolswatch report said it wasn’t relevant because she didn’t have anything to do with tax dollars. However the main reason she was elected again was due to her ability to negotiate higher salaries for her members. The last time I checked, my tax dollars pay for those raises.

    Here’s the report I mentioned above:

  15. POSTED BY cspn55  |  May 13, 2014 @ 2:41 pm

    Sorry assessmentgate, but I am lumping you in the with all of the attackers on the anti-BOE/super side to make a broader point (could easily have used Idratherbeat63 who disappeared apparently). Many of the attacks are professionally-related (Broad background, MacCormack’s tenure in Hartford, handling the Glendfield principal) and may have validity but some are personal (doesn’t live here, used public funds for a trip to DC, speculating on what she did over the weekend before announcing that the assessments were stolen) and it has come from many who disliked MacCormack from the moment she was hired when they saw the word “Broad” associated with her training. Since that time, there have been many people relentlessly attacking the woman both personally and professionally on these boards, you included. So now that the other side is doing it, it’s all of a sudden a cheap shot and we need to know their motivations? I would like to know all of your motivations since the debate has been filled with cheap shots from the start.

  16. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  May 13, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

    (prof, from his HUGE, glass filled Estate, freely tossing rocks…)

    @ cspn55 “[I]llegially fired the Glenfield Principal”? Huh?

    If so, I am STILL waiting for the lawsuit.

    But you are correct, “Broad,” like “Rove” or “Koch Brothers” are code to me that the writer is lazy, and knows not what he or she speaks.

  17. POSTED BY lalamom  |  May 13, 2014 @ 3:03 pm

    They could have just elected David Cummings. He’s already doing plenty to attack the administration, and apparently from what I heard he’s a teacher union member himself? Joking, of course.

  18. POSTED BY assessmentgate  |  May 13, 2014 @ 3:53 pm

    MacCormack’s tenure in Hartford is fair game, specifically her deceptive standardized test results:

    Also fair game are her complete lack of results after a year and a half on the job.

    (FYI, on numerous occasions, I’ve invited MacCormack’s supporters to share something, anything, that she’s achieved to move our schools, kids, and teachers forward since she began here in 11/12. So far, there haven’t been any takers – aside from the boilerplate “stay the course!” and “she has a plan!” type nonsense. If you can identify any, can you please share them?)

    In terms of my posts, if you take the time to review them, you’ll see that there have never been any lowdown slurs along the lines of what was posted about Gayl Shepard by MTCSchoolsWatch. Now, if I dig deep enough, I’m sure that I could find lots of rumors about the personal lives of key figures in Central Office, but I won’t touch them because they have nothing to do with these individuals’ professional performances.

    As far as my motivations go, I’m sickened by the the destructive decisions, dishonest/unethical behavior, and hidden agenda of MacCormack, Kulwin, and certain members of the BOE. I believe that need to be held accountable for their behavior in the same way that they’re trying to hold teachers accountable for their work in the classroom.

    They’ve wasted insane amounts of money; are unresponsive to the community’s concerns; are ignoring the failure, expense, and pointlessness of the quarterly assessments; and have brought scads of really bad publicity to our district and town.

  19. POSTED BY cspn55  |  May 13, 2014 @ 4:26 pm

    assessmentgate – you make fine points but you lose it on your rant about, “dishonest/unethical behavior, and hidden agenda….”.

    Accusing the BOE and superintendent of having a hidden agenda, being liars and lacking ethics is a “lowdown slur” as well. Maybe you think that a personal attack is something that has no connection whatsoever to one’s professional situation but to me those attacks are pretty personal; being a liar is being a liar and calling someone is a liar is a personal attack. Also accusing someone of havinga hidden agenda is also a personal attack.

    If you just say you disagree with the direction we are moving because ________ and state your case, that would be better. I’m sure those individuals (and others) believe that they are doing what’s best for schools in town. You (and others) think they are wrong and you have stated your case as to why. Fine, good debate, but unless you have specific facts supporting “MacCormack, Kulwin, and certain members of the BOE” knowingly lying (meaning they have been caught in the lie) or having the hidden agenda (and you having the smoking gun), then you’re no better than the dope who posted that the MEA president didn’t pay her taxes. That was at least factual and proven (though immaterial to this conversation in my opinion) while your statements appear based on your opinions – which you have every right to have. They are still personal attacks on the people you have specifically named. At least to me, calling someone a liar with a hidden agenda meant to ruin us is a pretty personal attack.

  20. POSTED BY montclairpublic  |  May 13, 2014 @ 5:41 pm

    i see that what is thinly veiled racism or just plain stupidity (probably both) has cranked up again. what don’t you pitiful people understand about a union leader’s job? it’s to work on behalf of her, you know, members? are you all so blinded by your biases that you can’t add 2 and 2? wouldn’t an even remotely fair-minded discussion raise the same questions about a super who has, in fact, demanded more of your tax dollars this very year? and, my lord, Ms. Shepard was elected to a position for which she will be……paid!?!** are you kidding me?
    Georgette, your site is turning into a repository for people who bitterly bitched to each other about the fourth ward running this town after the last mayoral election — as if those votes (without them Jackson would still have won) should not have counted. and as if the last god knows how many mayors weren’t from upper montclair.
    as if this mayor is such a radical….

  21. POSTED BY complainerpuss  |  May 13, 2014 @ 6:30 pm

    I’m hopeful that the discourse will become much more civil when Kulwin steps down and the new BOE President takes over.

  22. POSTED BY Frank Rubacky  |  May 13, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

    I’m confused montclairpublic…are you saying Upper Montclair is racist?
    If so, I’m pretty sure you that will not help to keep thing civil.

  23. POSTED BY flynnie  |  May 13, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

    Congratulations to Gayl. She won re-election by a wide majority, which means she has the confidence of those she represents. I wish her, and all who were elected, well in her next term. Additionally, while it is lovely to ask her to compromise, let’s ask that of the BOE and central services, too; she cannot compromise by herself, after all. This, of course, implies that the superintendent and those at central services need to actually listen to what the teachers have been very publicly saying about what’s not working with the schools.

  24. POSTED BY musingsbymull  |  May 13, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

    You can find answers to the questions about her accomplishments and the attacks against the BOE on this blog that I has been mentioned here before:

    I tried posting the two specific links that addressed the questions but they weren’t posted for one reason or another. The proof is out there. However if it doesn’t fit the agenda of the anti administration crowd, they just ignore it and clamor for other proof.

  25. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  May 13, 2014 @ 8:32 pm

    Did she run unopposed?

  26. POSTED BY qby33  |  May 13, 2014 @ 10:01 pm

    Prof…..why do you keep waiting for a lawsuit? Didn’t that Principal go next door and found a new, bigger and better job? LOL

  27. POSTED BY montclairpublic  |  May 13, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

    long before this testing debate began in earnest, then BOE president Lombard walked out on Gayl Shepard when she rose to speak at a meeting. BOE member Coke publicly berated her alongside BOE member Deutsch at another meeting. then she was banished from the MEA’s longstanding speaking position. is it any mystery that these nitwits feel free to target this woman in such a disgraceful way? so don’t lecture me or anyone about civility because, frankly, it has been those with the power in this struggle of competing objectives who abandoned civility a long time ago not with language, but with actions — a far truer metric on civility.

  28. POSTED BY martylorne  |  May 14, 2014 @ 12:20 am

    Does anyone know what the deal is with her as president? It is a pretty small union, so does she still serve as a teacher or is her position paid for by the district?

  29. POSTED BY carlas  |  May 14, 2014 @ 12:40 am

    “They could have just elected David Cummings.” You know, good jokes have a nugget of truth in them. But the MEA seems to be extracting healthy amounts of tax money without Cummings’ (rumored) AFT conflicts putting a finger on the scale.

  30. POSTED BY qby33  |  May 14, 2014 @ 7:23 am

    The people that comment on here are starting to sound jealous of Gayl. She is very well liked by the union that elected her, and you are sounding like bitter jealous teenagers. Why else would you be so critical of someone who has done a great job for her union and done it with amazing grace? Btw….I was sitting two rows from the incident between Ms. Coke, David Deutsch and her. Had I been smart enought to whip out my iPhone and record what I saw, you all would have quite a different view. My lesson learned….

  31. POSTED BY assessmentgate  |  May 14, 2014 @ 8:04 am

    Musingsbymull – So you’re pointing to MTCSchoolWatch’s post about MacCormack’s “results” as evidence of the wondrous things that she’s achieved here? You’re kidding, right? That’s your proof???

    (sigh) Oh well, time for a reality check. Here’s the real deal on the wondrous outcomes that our Superintendent has delivered to the district:

    STATE TESTING REPORTS: The district’s gains began in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, two years before MacCormack came to Montclair. She officially became our Superintendent in November ’12, and she didn’t launch her Strategic Plan until April ‘13. For MTC Schools Watch to identify these testing gains as an outgrowth of her “vision” means that they didn’t read their charts carefully, or they didn’t understand them, or they didn’t do their due diligence. It could also mean that they’re purposely being deceptive (which, given their association with MacCormack and Kulwin, makes total sense).

    RESTORING WORLD LANGUAGES: This didn’t happen because Penny has a love for languages or wants to do right by our kids. It happened because Montclair was not in compliance with the law, and was forced to bring back world language instruction. A foreign language advocacy group in Montclair had worked for over a year to get world languages reinstated, and there are now questions about the viability/value of the program that Penny has chosen to implement. A win for Penny and an example of her skills? Hardly…

    CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP: Penny and the BOE believe that the way to do this is by testing, testing, testing – not by addressing the true causes of the achievement gap, such as complex socioeconomic issues. However, bowing to public pressure, she formed a community group to discuss solutions to achieve academic parity. In the mind of MTC Schools Watch, the formation of this group is tantamount to solving the problem – which is REALLY naïve/gullible/inane and an example of their simplistic thinking.

    Here’s another example of MTC School Watch’s truly weak research skills: referring to me as the MEA’s “sock puppet online account.” If they checked with their overlords at the BOE, Kulwin & company would confirm that this isn’t true: in my settlement with the Board – after they unethically subpoenaed me for posting critical comments about their destructive, sneaky antics – I swore under oath that I’m not a teacher in the Montclair School District (I’m actually a parent). This misstep is one more fail in MTC Schools Watch’s long list of hackery and unreliability.

    To wrap this up: MTC Schools Watch’s position of “Penny said it, I believe it, and that settles it!” is simply regurgitating her easily documentable lies and propaganda.

  32. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  May 14, 2014 @ 9:33 am

    @ qby33, I’m waiting for the lawsuit because so many throw around the “fired illegally” line, that I would expect, if true, one would sue. Or as I suggested from the start, he bowed out before a spotlight could focus further on his behavior.

    Regardless, by his behavior, he didn’t belong here. Good Luck Verona!!

    Any word on whether the Union President’s grand victory was because she ran unopposed?

    Finally, no. No jealousy here. Sorry. And please don’t make the mistake that IF folks are critical of other, then they must be jealous. A dumb mistake.

  33. POSTED BY gippers72  |  May 14, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

    I read this same article over on the Montclair Patch. Someone there had an interesting comment about her role with the union and also being a teacher. Does she still serve as a teacher or is her position paid for by the district? I couldn’t seem to find an answer online.

  34. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  May 14, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

    I imagine, like most Union officials, her pay is from the dues the members pay, there may also be some sort of “release” time from part of her teaching duties (or whatever staff positions she has).

    This is normal in a Union contract. I can’t imagine the contract has the district paying her. If the district were to pay the union President, that would be a SWEET contract.

    Rather, union members pay big dues, from that pot of money officials, expenses, legal, etc. fees are paid.

    Any word on whether she ran unopposed?

  35. POSTED BY nomo  |  May 14, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

    Calm down everyone, especially Assessmentgate. You are upset that Shepard was maligned (me too) yet you consistently and nastily malign members of the Board (volunteers) and staff (paid). Take a step back. As cspn55 suggested, your potentially valid concerns are completely lost behind your anger and venom. Talk about issues, not personalities. I have no idea what you think might help – I only know what you don’t like, which seems to be anything actually happening.
    I am a parent, too, (High School only at this point) and I am pleased by the changes I see taking place:
    * I see exams given at the close of each marking period that have something to do with topics covered in class, while in the past mid-terms and finals were absurdly irrelevant. I don’t understand why people persist in calling them high stakes when the old exams had much higher stakes.
    * I see technology befitting a 21st century school finally being implemented
    * I see reporting systems that, while not without glitches along the way, are useful and informative
    * I see plans moving forward for a new website that might actually be useful
    * I see plans moving forward for needed physical improvements – and not on an ad hoc basis, but as a result of careful planning and analysis
    * I see teachers representing themselves at Board Meetings, being listened to by Board members and the Central Office, and changes resulting form their presentations. (this seems far more effective than the union meetings Ms. Shepard used to host at Board meetings)

    Lets talk about the important stuff, please!

  36. POSTED BY montclairschoolswatch  |  May 14, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

    Good to see Assessmentgate weighing in. Speaking of undisclosed identities, we’ve written a new post over at the blog about how the unions are inserting their flacks into the conversation, but under the “resident” label.

    Maia Davis is a good example. Read the rest over at the blog.

  37. POSTED BY qby33  |  May 14, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

    Nomo, please DO share how you think “I see teachers representing themselves at Board Meetings, being listened to by Board members and the Central Office, and changes resulting form their presentations.” What have they heard and changed?

  38. POSTED BY qby33  |  May 14, 2014 @ 5:46 pm

    Bottom line is there is a HUGE divide in this town. I don’t how anyone who cares about this town could think that is good! I know that listening to teachers meeting after meeting has me very concerned about my child’s education.

  39. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 14, 2014 @ 7:02 pm

    I fail to understand why montclairschoolswatch is allowed to promote their propaganda blog on Baristakids. Slandering individuals is not exactly the same as promoting your view point. To demean the opposition rather than explain your view points is just playing dirty and says you have nothing. Of substance to say. I really don’t see why a resident should not be able to express a view point regardless of what their profession is. How am I to take take this blog seriously if all they are doing is exposing personal issues about their opposition that is not at all elegant to the strategic plan or the Common Core. When I read these comments I am hoping to get information and engage in a debate. I never criticize individuals . I am critical of the strategic plan but have never said anything unkind about MacCormack for instance. Does my criticism of the plan make me a target of criticism by montclairschoolswatch? Seriously, this is getting really ugly. This is not the town I thought to was if we are now resorting to name calling.

  40. POSTED BY nomo  |  May 14, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

    I don’t know, nycmontclair, but it does seem pertinent that she has never disclosed her union affiliation. On the flip side I remember a charter school guy who spoke at a board meeting and was roundly criticized for his affiliation on these pages. And I also seem to remember a lot of people who supported the Board of Ed being criticized on these same pages. Nobody is behaving well. Let’s, as I said, take a step back and stop accusing each other. Let’s talk about Montclair schools, and the issues that pertain.

  41. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 14, 2014 @ 9:08 pm

    You can’t slander someone by making a true statement about them, nycmontclair. Are you saying Maia Davis does not work for the teacher’s union by day? If she does, saying so is a statement of fact and fair game.

    Montclair Cares About Schools has been “promoting its propaganda” on this site for ages, but you don’t hear you objecting to that. Why shouldn’t some other bullsh*t organization be “allowed to” as well?

    Either you’re incredibly naive, or disingenuous. I can’t decide which.

  42. POSTED BY cspn55  |  May 14, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

    I actually AM a parent and resident with a couple of kids in elementary school and I am not working in the educational industry in any way, shape or form. I have really liked each teacher my kids have had and do not begrudge the teachers their union, understand that Ms. Shepard has to fight for her membership (and can be adversarial in her dealings with the town as part of what she is elected to do) and completely understand that the teachers want to be paid, with good benefits and some level of job protection. This all makes sense to me and I know that the BOE will have to do battle with a teacher’s union every so often. It’s the way it is.

    But I have to thank Montclair School Watch in pointing out that at least a couple of “concerned residents” pushing so hard against the BOE are paid by a teachers union. It’s pretty apparent that “High Stakes” is ALL about the teacher evaluations. And that is an understandable concern for the teachers. Maybe if they would just be completely honest about this being the one huge sticking point and cut the rest of the crap we could get somewhere. I wouldn’t want my job evaluation linked to some kid’s test score (and we have a bunch of poor kids that will probably struggle with these tests – and the reform group wants to know that to help them). So be honest about your true motives – both sides – and then talk to one another instead of lobbing personal attacks. And if you hat the super – tough sh*t – we all hate our bosses sometimes, deal with it.

    To think we have people up-in-arms when they speculate on the “true intentions” of anyone who has ever been, in any way affiliated with a for-profit or educational reform foundation being involved in the district, speaking up at a BOE meeting or hosting some educational seminar. Yet no issue with the paid union rep fighting in their role as only “parents and residents” against the BOE without letting us all know what they do for a living? Why is that okay? Sean Spiller doesn’t hide from his role as a teachers union rep, we know who he is outside of here and somehow he was elected anyway.

    This is fitting for such an activist town like Montclair – shout down those you don’t agree with, play dirty politics however you can, sling the mud and preach to all that your point of view is the only correct one for the masses. Then conveniently forget to ID yourself as a paid union rep!

  43. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 14, 2014 @ 10:00 pm

    Actually, I am frustrated. I would agree with Nomo that I would of rather discuss the schools and education policies rather than pick on individuals. I do think there is a difference between criticizing policy or choices than criticizing someone for personal reasons. But whatever. If people feel it goes both ways then let’s stop it, not escalate it. Frankly, what I care about is my children’s education. My husband and I chose to raise our children in Montclair for the progressive schools and diversity. I do not see testing as progressive. None of what I have seen is new or progressive. I have seen programs that were helping kids be taken away. I have heard from several friends at Rennasaince they took away most of the electives to do test prep. How is that a good thing?

    What I would like and what I have repeatedly asked for on these threads, is for someone to legitimately give me reasons as to why these reforms are good and should be put in place as opposed to evidence based practices. I want to know how educational outcomes will improve and the achievement gap is meant to close based off of testing and the Common Core. I want someone to explain why the Common Core is so great when expert after expert has said it is developmentally inappropriate for k-3 and Jason Zimba, one of the creators of the Math standards admitted, on camera, that they will not enable a child to pursue a STEM career and why promoting informational texts over literature is a positive thing. These are my concerns. I am not getting any real answers and that is what I would like to discuss. And people who have read my comments know this is what I bring up, regardless of how you feel about my links. So, if the authors of mtcschooswatch would like to answer these questions, keeping individuals out of it, that I think is a blog worth reading.

  44. POSTED BY concernedmontclairparent  |  May 14, 2014 @ 11:51 pm

    Well, Walleroo, it is slanderous to refer to Ms. Davis as a “flack”. I haven’t seen any evidence to support that characterization. It’s a serious accusation to level, especially without anything to support it. And It does seems unfair to me that Ms. Davis has been labeled a “resident”, as if that is bad, or she is being dishonest. She is a resident, and is a parent, and has only represented herself as such.

    Frankly, I think all these off-topic posts should be deleted. But before they are, I would like to congratulate Ms. Shepard on her re-election.

  45. POSTED BY mpsparent  |  May 15, 2014 @ 8:08 am

    Congratulations Ms. Shepard!

  46. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  May 15, 2014 @ 9:43 am

    Just how do you “discuss the schools and education policies” without discussing the people who articulate a specific point of view?

    Because as soon as I disagree with you, I’ll be called a bully that “picks on” people.

    Rather, those who take positions are fair game. If you, like our President, tells us how important public schools are, yet you send your little darlings to a private school, I get to call you a hypocrite without you crying that I’m “picking on” you.

    Sometimes, we can just disagree. Hell, we can even be friends and disagree.

    Imagine that.

  47. POSTED BY education4all  |  May 15, 2014 @ 9:51 am

    nomo, you said:

    “I see teachers representing themselves at Board Meetings, being listened to by Board members and the Central Office, and changes resulting form their presentations. (this seems far more effective than the union meetings Ms. Shepard used to host at Board meetings)”

    1. Where is your proof that teachers are being listened to? From what I’ve seen, the BOE and Superintendent are ignoring teacher pleas from every school in the district to stop the quarterly assessments. Can you please provide some evidence that this listening is taking place?

    2. What are you using the support your contention that the current teacher presentations are more effective than the “union meetings Ms. Shepard used to host at Board meetings”?

    You claim to want to speak about important stuff – fair enough. But some important facts would be helpful to back up your assertions.

  48. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 15, 2014 @ 9:52 am

    So you really believe that a high-level official of an organization with a direct stake in the issue at hand need not identify herself as such? That’s a pretty cynical outlook.

    I admit “flack” isn’t helpful, but slander? Geesh, since when are you guys so thin skinned? God forbid he should call her a poopyhead. “Your honor, as you can see my client has no poop at all in her head, nor anywhere in an adjacent region…”

  49. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 15, 2014 @ 10:05 am

    1. Where is your proof that teachers are being listened to?

    “While teachers were speaking, fMRI scans of people in the room showed pronounced activity in their superior temporal gyrus of the dominant hemisphere and in some branches extending around the posterior section of the lateral sulcus in the parietal lobe, which is strongly consistent with listening. Also, they were nodding their heads, furrowing their brows and cupping their hands to their ears.” — Johnson et al., “fMIR Analysis of Board of Education Meetings in Montclair Township, NJ,” Journal of Cognition, June 2014, p 243.

    2. What are you using the support your contention that the current teacher presentations are more effective than the “union meetings Ms. Shepard used to host at Board meetings”?

    I refer you to “Teacher Presentations and Union Meetings chaired by Ms. Shepard in the Township of Montclair: a Comparative Analysis,” by McGillicutty et al., Univ. Chicago, Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, May 21, 2014, p. 2542.

  50. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 15, 2014 @ 11:42 am

    Maia Davis works for a Teachers Union in NYC. They have absolutely no stake in what is happening in Montclair. Ms. Davis is a concerned parent and tax payer who along with other concerned parents and tax payers decided to speak out against reforms they believe are harmful and not progressive. If she were trying to hide her job, she would not be speaking out publicly and identifying herself. Clearly, she knows it is not hard to find out what someone does for a living. Yet, the people behind Mtcschoolswatch haven’t identified themselves. Why is that okay? Again, Maia Davis isn’t anonymous. She openly speaks up. What are they hiding? If they are so concerned with complete transparency, let them be transparent. I am challenging them to identify themselves and to open a real dialogue.

  51. POSTED BY education4all  |  May 15, 2014 @ 12:06 pm

    It’s deja vu all over again: if this post is to be believed, Mtcschoolswatch is collecting personal data on people who look at their site.

  52. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 15, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

    No, no stake at all. She’s a completely disinterested party, I’m sure. Clearly she made up her mind about that and decided to spare us the confusion. How thoughtful of her.

    When you call for people to be transparent, nycmontclair, you do realize that you’re doing so from behind your own mask, right?

  53. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 15, 2014 @ 12:31 pm

    Mtcschoolswatch is collecting personal data on people who look at their site.

    Nasty! Gotta hand it to Assessmentgate, he’s pretty savvy. Donno why I think he’s a he. Unconscious bias probably.

  54. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 15, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

    Wallerro, I very clearly stated the Teacher’s union Maia Davis works for has no stake in what happens in Montclair as they are located in NYC. Maia Davis certainly as a stake in what happens here as she has children in the schools and she pays taxes to Monclair. The same stake I hold as well. No great than mine. Both important.

    Yes, I use an anonymous pen name as you do Walleroo. I represent only myself however and I am not calling out individuals. I always talk to the issues as you can see by my past comments. I don’t agree with standardized testing, quarterly assessments or the common core, etc. I never say anything personal about McCormack or the BOE members and I am not writing a blog. My comments represent my opinion only. If I were to suddenly go after individuals instead of the issues, you would have every right to ask for my identity. And as I pointed out this is an issue between Maia Davis and the anonymous blogger(s). If they are suggesting she has done something wrong by not announcing her profession, then she has a right to know who her accuser is. Again, I believe what someone who is open and has not hideher identity clearly was not hiding anything, but Mtcschoolswatch seems to disagree. But if we don’t know who they are or who their affiliations are with, why should they be taken seriously?

  55. POSTED BY gippers72  |  May 15, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

    I think it’s strange that Maia’s affiliation with the teachers union was not revealed until now. This is a conflict of interest that should have been mentioned in the news articles.

  56. POSTED BY Frank Rubacky  |  May 15, 2014 @ 1:01 pm


    I wasn’t taking either side on the CC/Super/BOE/MEA. I was simply trying to confirm if you were connecting your opening comment about racist & stupid people to this paragraph of yours from above:

    “Georgette, your site is turning into a repository for people who bitterly bitched to each other about the fourth ward running this town after the last mayoral election — as if those votes (without them Jackson would still have won) should not have counted. and as if the last god knows how many mayors weren’t from upper montclair.”

    You seemed to have made a leap by combining your opposition to them with a generalization that lump all of the residents of Upper Montclair into some unclear conspiracy that, if I’m reading your correctly, has a basis in racism and/or stupidity. I’m unsure where you stand on those 2nd & 3rd Warders not covered in your remarks.

    I recall previous comments over the year about democracy being a messy business. If nothing else, Montclair education is an ongoing example of this.

  57. POSTED BY lalamom  |  May 15, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

    Wow. Another revelation that an opponent to the administration is either a member or an employee of a teachers union. First, David Cummings. Now, Maia Davis. Is there anyone opposed to the administration that’s NOT affiliated with the union?

  58. POSTED BY latebloomer  |  May 15, 2014 @ 1:28 pm


  59. POSTED BY lalamom  |  May 15, 2014 @ 1:59 pm

    Ya, ya, I know. It was more of a rhetorical question. I’m just pretty surprised that someone who’s working as a spokeswoman for the teachers union on the other side of the river was never identified as such when she was taking the union side in the press here.

  60. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 15, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

    Please explain to me how a parent who lives in Montclair and sends their kids to Montclair Schools has a conflict of interest because they work for a teachers union in a whole other state. First, MCAS is a group of volunteers who are parents and a parent has every right to speak out. Second, this union she works for has nothing to do with Montclair Teacher unions. So are you suggesting a parent should not be allowed to speak because of a job she holds in another state? Please explain the conflict. Just claiming there is a confit is not an exolaination.

  61. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 15, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

    I don’t care a hoot who you are, nycmontlciar. I actually don’t want to know. Nothing personal, you seem pleasant enough, though arguing with you is often like wrestling a cloud, it’s just that all this “open dialog” is exhausting.

  62. POSTED BY gippers72  |  May 15, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

    Identifying yourself as an activist parent to the press when you’re also a communications professional for the teachers union is misleading. That’s the conflict.

  63. POSTED BY alic314  |  May 15, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

    “Maia Davis works for a Teachers Union in NYC. They have absolutely no stake in what is happening in Montclair.”

    While I don’t want to make Montclair out to be more than what it really is (it is truly a great place to live!)…

    Correct, the UFT has no “stake” on what is happening here – but in a sizable part, what is going on with Montclair is probably of great interest. How many of us still say “I live in NJ, I love my town and I’m happy I choose to raise my family here instead of NYC, but really I’m a New Yorker”
    Practically half the town! I mean, your username here should be evidence enough of that (No judgement, it’s all good. Just making a point.)

    Here’s the point that I think matters the most, this is a national debate that is being had. While we are much smaller fish than NYC, I think whatever happens here will be used as a touchstone. And is being watched by both sides of the debate, pretty closely. Along with some other key areas in the country.

    It’s a national debate, and Ms. Davis is involved in it in a very big way through the UFT & in what she does here in Montclair.

    And it is also something that she has every right to do-I don’t deny that piece of it at all.

    Just the argument point you used, nycmontclair.

  64. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 15, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

    Gippers 72, Ms. Davis is an activist parent. She works for a teachers union in NYC and advocates in Montclair. You still fail to explain how that is a conflict. Even if you feel Ms. Davis should have identified her profession, you still have not identified why it is a conflict. Plus, she receives no funds for advocating so exactly what would the conflict be?

    Alic 314, you are right in that this is a broader issue than just Montclair . Today, the Assembly committee approved a bill that would delay key parts of education reform

  65. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  May 15, 2014 @ 3:53 pm

    “Mtcschoolswatch is collecting personal data on people who look at their site.”

    That’s a little creepy. Gee, I wonder why they would do that?

    Anonymous is anonymous, huh?

  66. POSTED BY gippers72  |  May 15, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

    *Should have*?!?

    I think her position as communications director for an organization that is leading the charge against what’s happening in Montclair and across the region is something that should be disclosed. Don’t get me wrong, she has every right to be involved in her kids education. However, it’s important that people that read the news story know that they are reading a comment from a paid staffer of the teachers union.

  67. POSTED BY lalamom  |  May 15, 2014 @ 4:10 pm

    I’m going to have to agree with Gippers here. I get most of my news online and from friends. It’s hard to get to all of the meetings. It’s important to know who the source is when they interview someone for the article.

    I have a feeling if there was a big construction project being approved by the town and the leader of the “Montclair Cares About Our Roads” was the CEO of the company that’s going to get a big piece of the profit. You’d want to know about that.

  68. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  May 15, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

    lalamom, she’s a parent of child, her interest in Montclair education is not financial, as a CEO’s would be, her interest is the future of her child. I would not consider yours a valid comparison.

  69. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  May 15, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

    Sure are a lot of new folks showing up to support the district’s educational policies all of a sudden. I’m hoping they’ll chime in elsewhere around here as well.

  70. POSTED BY concernedmontclairparent  |  May 15, 2014 @ 5:21 pm


    AFAIK, the union that Ms. Davis works for has not been “leading the charge against what’s happening in Montclair”, or had any direct involvement at all with the Montclair school district.

    For the same reason, lalamom’s analogy doesn’t apply. Whatever direction the Montclair school districtm ultiamtely takes, Ms. Davis’ employer will not be “getting a big piece of the profit”, or, frankly, be impacted in any direct way.

    It would certainly be relevant if Ms. Davis worked for the MEA, or an organization that has any direct delaings with the Montclair school district. But she does not.

  71. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 15, 2014 @ 5:55 pm

    We may not be able to consider the blog slanderous, but I certainly think some of these comments are bordering on slander. Lalamom, Montclair Cares about Schools is a group of parents who are concerned about the direction our schools are taking. They are not a business or even a non-profit. What profits are you talking about? They are fighting against over testing and reforms that they see as harmful to our students. If anyone is profiting, it’s the testing companies. Pearson for one is profiting hugely. They were just awarded the PAARCS contract and at the same time providing curriculum to the very same school districts who will be taking those tests. Districts like Montclair, that just purchased their envision math program for all of our schools. If you are gong to make accusations than you need to explain exactly what you mean. As concernedmontclairparent pointed out the union Ms. Davis works for is not leading the charge against what is happening in Monrclair. These comments seem to be directed towards unions and the implication being they are the ones opposing these reforms. Well, as the link I posted shows, there are lots of people opposing these reforms and they are parents, students, teachers, politicians, republicans and democrats.


  72. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 15, 2014 @ 8:38 pm

    Georgette, since this bill is relevant to the reforms we are seeing in Montclair and in fact addresses the very same concerns parents have been speaking to at BOE meetings and we have been discussing in these threads, perhaps you can post it.

    Again, the link is:
    Assembly committee approves bill that would delay key parts of education reform

  73. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  May 16, 2014 @ 9:49 am

    (You guys are now so far down a rabbit hole, you should just go get a cup of coffee and talk it out- face-to-face. I’ll pay.)

  74. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 16, 2014 @ 11:25 am

    Professor, throw in a chocolate pastry and I am there.

  75. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 16, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

    I’ll bring the donuts.

  76. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  May 29, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

    Still waiting for all the new commenters who showed up with the links to montclairschoolswatch to actually participate on the site somewhere else. lalamom, musingsbymull, gippers72, baytee, anything to contribute besides the cheerleading here? The sudden silence and lack of other comments tells me your interest in the education of Montclair’s children is passing to say the least (and astroturf to be more precise).

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