MontClairVoyant: Column Milestone Before Frelinghuysen Stops Being a Millstone

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DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

I know you have an anniversary to mention, but could you first react to Jan. 29’s news that Upper Montclair’s congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen will not run for reelection this year. Happy?

Sincerely,
Johnny B. Goodriddance

Thrilled! Here are three reasons why: 1) The once-“moderate” Republican has mostly supported the far-right Trump agenda — perhaps to keep his House Appropriations Committee chairmanship. 2) Rodney was almost never accessible to anyone who disagreed with him. 3) My tired fingers need a break: “Frelinghuysen” requires too many keystrokes.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Did he (“he” is quicker to type than “Frelinghuysen”) bail because he’s not much of a fighter and would’ve had to fight hard for reelection in a district where even many Republicans are now to the left of Rodney?

Sincerely,
Loss Non-Leader

I also credit the amazing/hardworking/women-powered NJ 11th for Change for exposing Rodney’s lack of spine (he refused to hold town halls) and for opposing him in other creative ways. And, getting back to keystrokes, I’m grateful the group is not called NJ 11th for Metamorphosis.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Meanwhile, this is your 52nd column for Baristanet — a year’s worth! — and your 700th column overall including the 648 you wrote for The Montclair Times starting in 2003. Any words about those millstones…um…milestones?

Sincerely,
Anna Versary

I’d like to thank my math teachers for making it all possible — i.e., being able to add 52 and 648.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Many of your early columns slammed (in vain) developer Steven Plofker’s demolition of the lovely Marlboro Inn and subsequent cramming of 10 McMansions onto the site. Now he and his wife — Bobbi Brown of cosmetics fame — are collaborating on an upscale hotel called The George. Comment?

Sincerely,
Hey There George-y Whirl

The Gentrification…um…The George looks good inside, but the proposed room prices of roughly $200-$400 a night are shocking. Heck, for that money, I could buy an appetizer at Corso 98.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

It would be nice to have a hotel in town more affordable than The George and The MC. Also, are you worried about The George’s clientele?

Sincerely,
The Seekers of the Posh

Frankly, I am. That hotel could attract riff-raff — i.e., rich people who support cruel, greedy Republican policies. I don’t want to be in a room near those one-percenters when they’re awake at 4 a.m. noisily counting their money.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
What’s with the two uses of “i.e.” so far in this column?

Sincerely,
Asking for a Fr-i.e.-nd

I’d like to thank my English teachers for introducing me to 40 percent of the five vowels.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Speaking of Plofker, I heard he scaled back his proposed project on church land near the library from four large/pricey townhouse units to two large/pricey single-family houses. Reaction?

Sincerely,
Green Eggs and Cram

I wish that developer would occasionally build something not large and pricey — i.e., affordable. Heck, he could redesign the Monopoly game’s tiny plastic houses for Montclairites who want to downsize.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
You used “i.e.” again. Why?

Sincerely,
Asking for a Former Fr-i.e.-nd

Those two letters are in the name ShopRite, which reportedly will no longer be a possible tenant in the somewhat-shrunken Lackawanna Plaza redo. But the developers there still have a moral obligation to find a smaller, much-needed supermarket. It could always stock organic variances.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
And then there’s the announcement of new traffic lights on Bloomfield Avenue. Good to hear?

Sincerely,
Sig and Signe Signal

Yes, but with several too-big projects completed or rising soon in downtown Montclair, many worry the traffic lights will flash only green to match what’s in developers’ bulging billfolds. Rodney is not the only unpopular rich guy around here.

Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.

43 COMMENTS

  1. ALL PR IS GOOD PR Part II THANK YOU again, Dave As tor, for comments such as ‘That hotel could attract riff-raff — i.e., rich people who support cruel, greedy Republican policies.’

    Rhetoric such as this has started a never-before-seen flow of donations to and new supporters of the Montclair Republican Club. Montclair Republicans have three ‘cruel, greedy’ principles: limited government, economic opportunity, and liberty. Our meetings are open to sociable people, including young adults, from across the political spectrum. The community can check us out on Feb 22 for our next program, ‘Victims of Communism.’ More information is available here: https://montclairrepublican.wordpress.com/

  2. Thank you for the comment, montclairrepublican. I didn’t realize I was a PR professional. 🙂

    It goes without saying that some Republicans are good people. But many GOP policies, at least on the national level, are indeed “cruel” and “greedy.” The new tax law that mostly benefits corporations and rich individuals who already have more than enough. The attempts to overturn Obamacare — which would’ve caused millions to lose their insurance, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Trump’s racism and sexual-predator history not criticized by most of his fellow Republicans. Trump’s mocking of the disabled not criticized by most of his fellow Republicans. Making the Earth a worse place for all by denying climate change and overturning environmental regulations. Etc.

    If that’s what “limited government, economic opportunity, and liberty” mean, I’m not a fan. 🙂

  3. Dave, The George property was becoming an eyesore so like Plofker or not you must admit he and his wife invested a ton of money to create something quite beautiful. Don’t they deserve some return on their investment. Your distain and jealousy of anyone rich and successful by judging them as “greedy” is perhaps a reflection of your own greed?? Keep in mind, those greedy rich people pay a lot in RE, state, federal taxes (not enough I am sure in your eyes) and employ many people. Did you notice how many people worked and are still working on the hotel? I am sure all those people that supported their families while working there don’t share your view of the project or your view of development in general. A witty balanced column would be a fun read….spiteful, petty, and envious….not so much. But it is revealing to see how the mindset of those on the far, far left have so much in common with the mindset of those on the far, far right.

  4. Thank you for the question, essen. I’d be happy to answer it, but I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. Are you asking if I pay my fair share of taxes? If so, the answer is yes. 🙂

  5. I am Steve
    Steve-I-am
    I have scaled back my plan
    Two large is my new plan
    Do you like my new plan?
    I like my new plan
    Steve-I-am

    Do you like a house that is big or small?
    Do you like they be not here or not there?
    I like them big
    I like them anywhere

    Do you mind where they park
    Do you care if they park in or out?
    Do you mind if they park front or back?
    I do not care where they park
    They can park anywhere
    Steve-I-am

    I like to build
    I could build small
    I could build to the zone now
    I do not like small
    I do not the zone now
    I do not like them

    The George is my inn
    My inn is not small or cheap
    I own the lots next to my inn
    I do not like that zone they are in
    I want a zone I like
    That is my plan
    I am Steve
    Steve-I-am.

  6. Thank you for the comment, flipside. My Montclair apartment is on the left when I walk to it from the street, but not on “the far, far left.” 🙂

    I did acknowledge in my column that The George looks good. But Steven Plofker and Bobbi Brown are already hugely rich. Do they really need to charge up to $400 a night? When is enough money enough money? I think most Montclairites who’d like to have visiting family and friends stay in town would prefer the option of a less-posh hotel that charges somewhere between $100 to $200 a night. And people could also be employed building and working in a less-expensive hotel.

    My column is meant to have a point of view, not be “balanced.” And I can say with all sincerity that I’m not envious of the rich. My wife and I get by financially, and I’m happy to be a writer (of this column, books, a literature blog, and more) rather than an unpopular developer crowding Montclair and making our town too “upscale.”

  7. “Rhetoric such as this has started a never-before-seen flow of donations to and new supporters of the Montclair Republican Club.”
    —-“we moved the sofa cushions and found 73 cents”

    “Montclair Republicans have three ‘cruel, greedy’ principles: limited government, economic opportunity, and liberty.”
    —-what about “Supporting Leader Putin”? How could you forget that one? Some Republicans…

    “Our meetings are open to sociable people”
    —-“as long as you can pay the green fees”…

    “our next program, ‘Victims of Communism.’ ”
    —-okay, this is a parody account, right?

    Dave Astor is wrong about this. Don’t despise these cretins because the worship money over all. Despise them because they are outright liars, despise them as the thumb their nose at the Rule Of Law they used to cradle next to their guns, despise them for their catastrophic embrace of oligarch cash, despise them for their turn to embracing Putinism, despise them for their bigotry and their lies about their bigotry, despise them for their anti-education, anti-science POV, but for gods sake don’t criticize their money or the doltish, synchphantic “I can be rich too one day” base who don’t have the proverbial pot to empty into yet worship these swine.

  8. Bravo, Frank! I LOVE your Seuss-ical poem! Nicely done. 🙂

    One of my favorite bits of trivia about the “Green Eggs and Ham” author: In the early 1940s, Dr. Seuss was a newspaper editorial cartoonist. The look of his tall/thin/hatted Uncle Sam in those cartoons inspired the look of The Cat in the Hat when he created that character in the 1950s!

  9. @flipside:

    “Your distain and jealousy of anyone rich and successful by judging them as “greedy” is perhaps a reflection of your own greed??”

    —-yeah, that’s why Jesus freaked out on the moneylenders in the temple! He was jealous!

  10. Thank you for your powerful comments, jcunningham. Several great points, and often funny!

    Yes, much to despise when many members of a major political party frequently lie or don’t criticize that lying, stay loyal to the NRA no matter how many innocent people are gunned down, constantly criticize public schools and try to privatize education, deny climate change, speak and act in racist and sexist and homophobic ways, etc.

    I do have some respect for the wealthy who are self-made rather those (like Trump) who are inheritors of family money. It’s all about what’s done with the money — such as whether or not the wealthy are helping to make life better for many people, not just their fellow rich.

  11. Dave, Because the Plofker’s are hugely rich they should build what you want them to build? Really? Judging by the capital improvements they made to the property and the people they will need to employ 400 a night might be cheap. A less expensive hotel is being built on Bloomfield Ave. Silly to compete with that.
    My hope is that all the critics step up to the plate and invest their time and money in making Montclair into the place they want it to be instead of standing idly by and taking cheap shots. When your name is on the building you can have what you want. I am not fond of some of the changes happening just as I am sure the farmers above 14th in Manhattan didn’t like it when the city started moving north. I do know that I am ok letting things play out. The upscale projects and the mansions on the hill help support the town. That is the Montclair way like it or not.

  12. Speaking of current “tempest” initiated by Republicans, I support the publishing of the WH/Ryan/Nitwit (sp?) memo. The Democrats should publish their version, too.

    I do find each side’s arguments disingenuous when both branches just extended the FISA rules – unmodified. There really can not be too much light shed here on both parties. This seems to be a CYA fight more than anything.

    I’m getting a little tired of the Executive and Legislative branches deciding what the public should privy to – especially when it seems almost every member of each branch has already had access to both documents, and “the important methods and sources” within.

  13. Thanks for the follow-up comment, flipside.

    I of course have no expectations that Steven Plofker and Bobbi Brown will build what I want them to build. It’s their money and their “vision.” But I have the right to criticize, just as they have the right to totally ignore criticism. 🙂 As long as our town officials let developers do what they want to do, those developers could care less about what the media says.

    The MC hotel being built on Bloomfield Avenue will undoubtedly be less expensive than The George, but from all indications it will still be pricier than the average hotel. The track record (The Siena, Valley & Bloom, etc.) indicates that Pinnacle usually doesn’t “do” affordable.

    Yes, the new projects bring some ratables, but at the cost of less diversity, more traffic, strains on infrastructure, etc. I’m not sure “the Montclair way” is to become more like Short Hills, Summit, and Hoboken. Maybe that’s “the new Montclair way.”

    If $400 a night might be “cheap” for the reasons you mention — yikes! 🙂 Paying that room price for a week would wipe out the life savings of many people.

  14. I hear you, Frank. Washington’s “powers that be” are all over the map when it comes to what they want secret and what they don’t. It’s all about what’s good for them, not what’s good for the average citizen.

    Speaking of secret, still waiting to see Trump’s tax returns…

  15. I have no problem with the hotel developers and what they are building. Further, they are being incentivized by the Township to bring in midlevel-high end businesses. No one complains when higher end restaurants or other businesses (e.g. lululemon) come in. Its market driven and the market will determine their staying power.

    You should recall that it was the Councils, the Planning Boards, and downtown businesses who let it be known an entry-moderate price hotel concept (e.g. a Days Inn-type) was “not desirable” as a Gateway tenant. It was the Council and Planning Board who thought building a 700+ car Magical Parking Deck was fine.

    Give credit to the developers. They are optimizing what the town wants and their responsibility is jut to make sure what they build is compatible.

  16. Thanks, Frank! I totally agree that the mayor and other town officials are complicit in this. They’ve been giving developers almost carte blanche, and the developers are of course running with that. But developers are pushing even beyond that try to maximize profits even more.

    Actually, all the higher-end restaurants and stores do bother me a bit. Having some of them is good, but not so many that they threaten to dominate Montclair’s commercial landscape. It’s kind of like a vicious circle — additional affluent people move into town (they have to be affluent to afford it) and go to upscale restaurants and stores, even as those eateries and retailers may have helped attract the affluent people to Montclair in the first place. All that helps force a number of less-affluent (and in many cases longtime) Montclairites to move away.

    Nothing wrong with a Days Inn-type hotel. I’ve stayed in many. And a non-chain, less-cookie-cutter hotel doesn’t have to be super-expensive. I’ve stayed in many of those, too.

  17. Dave, between Fed, NJ, and real estate taxes, over half of my income goes for taxes. Am I paying my fair share?

  18. We, your fellow taxpayers are complicit – we voted for this. You should be more upset with last night’s allocation of this year’s school capital budget.

    75% of our $20MM priority capital needs are for school buildings, the balance is for athletic/recreation facilities. Of this year’s appropriation is inverted – 75% is for athletic facilities. The 25% in this year’s budget, $776K, is to air condition Watchung School’s auditorium annex for the Spring (& Summer?). Better still, the 2015 projected cost for this HVAC was $490K. The project increased 60% in 2 years.

    The largest part of our tax bill is the school district. It has been increasing 3-4% annually. 3x inflation. Many people want the State school budget cap to go away. Home rule/self-determination. A disproportionate lobby as less than half the Township’s households have schools age children and I don’t think commercial property sends any children to the MPS. A ‘public good’ thing.

    Our water and sewer rates, which we have been subsidizing for decades, are going up even faster to close the increasing price gap with the real costs.

    We have been kicking these maintenance cans down the road for some time and the bill is coming due. The long-time residents, like myself, were complicit – ignorance or by choice.

    So here we are. There is never enough money. Choices. What do we really need and more importantly, should it be a priority? How we manage it is a whole other book.

  19. essen, that does seem like a lot at first glance, but I guess I would need to know the context in a case such as yours. (No, I’m not asking you to tell me your income or give any other information. 🙂 ) In general, if someone is very affluent, over 50% of their income going to various taxes seems okay to me — they still have a lot left, and society benefits with adequate funding for public education, public safety (such as police), infrastructure, a social safety net, a military (though I think military spending is too high), etc.

    Over half of my family’s income does NOT go to taxes, but, then again, I’m a freelance writer with a modest income and live in an apartment (my wife I and sold our Montclair house to afford to stay in town). My wife is a community-college professor with a good, not great income.

  20. I appreciate the follow-up, Frank!

    “…we voted for this” — you’re right that the mayor (who ran partly on a lots-of-development platform) and the rest of the Township Council were reelected in 2016. We may have discussed this before, but the mayor had no opposition in ’16, so many might have voted for him reluctantly. And they might have voted for him for continuity, the appearance of competence, and other reasons in addition to or instead of voting for his overdevelopment bent.

    I agree that the percentage of capital spending for athletics at last night’s Board of School Estimate meeting seemed high (and I say this having a daughter who’s very into sports 🙂 ). Not sure if last night was a “blip” or a pattern/trend.

    School costs do go up and up, but I don’t see how there’s much that can be done about it without harming public education in town. I’m hoping there will be more state education aid under the Murphy administration, so that paying for Montclair schools gets spread around the state a bit more — with proportionately a little less burden on those paying the high property taxes in our town. A surtax on New Jersey’s very wealthy would help toward that end.

  21. Nothing is for certain, but any tax surcharge on NJ’s very wealthy is already earmarked for paying down the pension fund debt and infrastructure.

    “School costs do go up and up, but I don’t see how there’s much that can be done about it without harming public education in town.”

    Unfortunately, this is the mindset that permeates our district. You are just the last person to repeat it. The municipal government, which also has to provide very important public goods, has cut $50MM from debt in 6 years. Development has paid for some of it, but not even close to the main drivers. The MPS fiscal culture is set in a protective amber and the BoSE has tried to chip away at what they can. The political forces at work far exceed there carefully constructed mandate.

    Even then, we are going to spend $800-900K this year to replace the track at Woodman. It was one of the approved top priorities. How it came to reach that priority status when there is a perfectly good, and highly underutilized, track at Brookdale Park that we could rent from the County until we can repair the failing roofs, mortar, classrooms, etc. Nope, we have to have our own…now. Yes, a single, selective example. But, indicative of our perennial approach. Montclair wants its entitlements. The new superintendent will experience this the first moments on the job. Good luck.

    As to residents who want to remain in town after the nest is empty, we should just tell them to face it – school costs do go up and up, but there’s not much that can be done about it without harming public education in town.”

  22. Frank, I hope some of any state tax surcharge would be used for education, but who knows?

    I hear you about high education spending, and there’s always some money that can be saved. Somewhat less spending on athletics (as you allude to), maybe somewhat less spending on Central Office, etc. But I don’t think there are too many teachers (some were laid off last spring), I don’t think they’re overpaid for what they do, and class sizes really shouldn’t get any bigger than they are now. I say this partly from almost 25 years of personal experience — with one daughter in Montclair schools from 1993 to 2007, and another from 2012 to the present.

  23. Less spending – same resources.

    I never thought MPS teachers as a group were overpaid. There are probably more salary outliers than I would like, but within industry norms. I think the paras positions should be looked at, though. I think we need to set the bar higher (maybe have 2 levels) and, for those possessing the skills/experience we want, compensate them accordingly – acknowledging the group overall is probably below average comp for the region.

    But, you had to bring up another one of our amber coated beliefs…class size. One number which everyone locks in on and is holding us back. I believe the current average district-wide is between 24-28. Call it 26. The Pavlovian barks we get when it goes below or above amazes me. Why? Because behind it is the assumption that for an average cohort, across a typical range of courses, the cost of instruction is the same.

    I’m don’t want to nickel & dime about classes in the 20-30 range. I’m talking about large group instruction as we prepare our students for college. Just 4 LGI-formatted will, even with an instructor’s assistant & added LGI technology, release $400K for other choices.

    As an aside, I have to chuckle how different it is now. Back in the mid-’60’s, a sibling was moved, mid-year, up from 5th to 6th grade, but kept the same teacher. I chuckle both because the class sizes then are exactly the same as now, but, in this instance, the same teacher taught both grades in a single classroom. Anecdotal, yes. Wouldn’t recommend it. But, maybe we can indeed challenge & commit ourselves to innovate a bit more.

    So Dave, you are 2 for 2. Care to try and hit another pet peeve of mine?

  24. Ha, Frank! I seem to have a batting average higher than Ty Cobb in hitting your pet peeves today. 🙂

    Class size is a tricky thing. In an almost perfectly behaved room of students, perhaps class size could go higher. But there are often some “difficult” students.

    Large group instruction? I remember that in college. But I think that should be done sparingly in high school, if at all.

    Our town’s very valuable paraprofessionals are indeed underpaid. It would be great if they received a higher salary for higher skills, but would the BOE allocate the money for that?

  25. Yes, sparingly. I thought 4 classes sounded like a reasonable number. That is just one idea.
    A $130MM budget offers big opportunities, but there should be far more 4 & 5-figure ones and they all add up quickly. It won’t work unless employees have a positive or negative incentive.

    If paras demonstrate they can contribute to a higher performance, I can’t see why not. Of course, if they take the approach that their performance can’t be linked to student performance, then no. Why then should the BOE pay them more?

  26. You’ve definitely thought a lot about educational issues, Frank!

    With large group instruction, it helps if the teacher is very charismatic. I remember some college profs who really put on a show in front of a room with a hundred or more students. Rock stars in a way.

    Incentives are also tricky. Are they fair? Are there as many rewards for a teacher who helps struggling students struggle a bit less as there are rewards for a teacher who helps guide high-achieving students to unsurprisingly keep high-achieving?

  27. I made Montclair Education my luminosity.com daily regimen so I picked up some things along the way.

    Actually, there are a multitude of institutional issues – not just institutional racism – that persist within the MPS. It’s reflected in the student body, the Central Office, the MEA (and whatever they call the Principals union). The black parents blame the white teachers, all teachers seem to blame the Central Office, the students – well, they have their future in front of them.

    I don’t expect these institutional issues to change much. We won’t even talk about the reality. We make excuses year after year, decade to decade for our lack of improvement. New generation, same words.

    We say educational quality is impossible to measure qualitatively. Education is not scalable. Yes, it is not scalable and you wonder why the finances don’t work and the model doesn’t yield better results. The model is not scalable, so equity is impossible. Even approaching equity is not possible if it is not scalable. I nice aspirational goal, but it hasn’t changed much since the desegregation order. Yes, we re-branded the concept. That was good. Actually a great thing. Actually,it is the MPS’s single biggest & longest running accomplishment.

  28. Frank, I’m glad Montclair has citizen-gadflys like you watching the budget. I suspect the million dollar track you mentioned, or the million dollar Edgemont parking lot redo, though dubious, are greenlit because they’re “visible” spending that parents, park goers, etc. see and talk about. It’s pork; low return, highly conspicuous stuff that confers bragging rights to mayor, council etc. Capital maintenance, your thing, is thankless.

    Dave, still waiting for issue where you’re less 100 percent progressive, 100 percent of the time. Is there a single issue-immigration, crime, incarceration, charter schools, suspension gap, achievement gap, taxes, spending, policing, environment, wall street, payday lending, affirmative action, diversity, inclusion, Montclair development, leaf blowers, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, –where your view is not completely predictable? Surprise us! But props for prompting dialogue and being unfailingly polite.

  29. Thanks for your additional education thoughts, Frank!

    I often write about education in my column, attend many BOE meetings, am friendly with a number of Montclair teachers, have been involved with the school system for many years as a parent (as I previously mentioned), and exchange information about the schools with the parents of my younger daughter’s friends. Yet, as much as I know, I don’t know anywhere near everything about the inner workings of Montclair’s system (including the institutional issues you referenced) to be remotely close to an expert on it.

    All I truly know is my personal experiences with the system, and I’ve almost always been impressed with the teachers, the paras, other school personnel, the five principals I’ve interacted with, the diversity, the wide range of subjects covered, and so on. I realize some parents (including some parents of African-American students, some parents of special-needs students, etc.) may not be as happy with all aspects of Montclair’s schools as I am, and that’s an important and sobering thing.

    My younger daughter (adopted) is of Latina descent, so I have some firsthand experience with how students of color are treated. I’ve been very satisfied with Montclair in that respect, but I realize others might have had different experiences.

  30. Thank you for your comment, lacamina! Frank’s knowledge of and interest in Montclair issues is really impressive!

    You make an excellent point about “visible” spending. And VERY well said.

    As for your second paragraph: I’m thinking and thinking, but I can’t come up with an ideological issue I’m not progressive on. I guess that makes me predictable — or maybe consistent. 🙂 I try to make that predictability go down easier in my column by using humor.

    On a personal level, I do have a number of conservative friends (in real life and on Facebook), and respect other people’s points of view even when I disagree with them. For instance, I’m on the board of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and one person I got to speak at a recent conference was Michael Ramirez — one of the most conservative editorial cartoonists in the country. He’s a friend, and had interesting things to say. Trump is harder for me to tolerate, because, ideology aside, he just seems like a terrible human being.

    Last but not least, I greatly appreciate your mention of prompting dialogue and being polite! Thank you! I take that very seriously.

  31. lacamina,

    I acknowledge/accept the gadfly label. In the vein of your critiques of Dave, I can be more balanced, too.

    I’ll make a start by commending the district for recovering $1.2MM in State SDA grant funds. It is a good start and I’m hopeful we can recover the outstanding, majority balance this year.

    I’ll also recognize the $3.4 capital allocation was a result of last year’s BoSE capital negotiation process that deferred these athletic funding items. This year’s appropriation is partially completing that request. I still question the track allocation, but the BoSE is on the right track overall in holding them to a workable number and having the MPS use their unspent capital appropriations before issuing new debt.

    Dave,

    I went back and looked at the class size counts for MHS 2013-14. The average was 21. Therefore, I suspect my current district estimate of 26 is suspect.

    Based on the district’s goals & objectives, there is a lot of room for improvement in the fundamentals of how our district is suppose to be performing. They need to go a long way to catch up on empirical data collection, data continuity – and timely analysis.

    Some of this is basic expectation setting. Just setting a reporting calendar of agreed upon measures presented in a consistent format would help greatly. The suspension data was an example of another “shocker” Also, it wasn’t even on the agenda. There have been concerns about suspension rates issues for many years, but it seems it surfaces randomly and when it does, prepared inadequately. If the suspension data showed the last 5 years or so, I think it would have been a different dialog.

    The whole Pre-K conversation would likely have been different, too. The Civil Rights Commission presented several years ago certain facts on national B/AA suspension trends. In 2016-17, we were twice the national average. This year, we are back down to the national average. The national Pre-K numbers show a worse situation. So, the causation argument is we can fix our K-12 suspension problem with Pre-K has a correlation issue.

  32. Thanks, Frank, for your wide-ranging comment!

    A Montclair High average class size of 21 sounds a bit low to me; I wonder if that number has creeped up since 2013-14. Certainly my younger daughter’s elementary school classes (she’s in fifth grade) have been more in the mid-20s range the past few years.

    I can’t argue with increasing general data collection (as opposed to collecting invasive data on individual students — something that’s been overdone by some public school districts as well as private education companies of the Pearson ilk).

  33. Maybe. We’ll certainly be discussing the subject later this month when the school budget discussions start. It would be nice if we skipped the anecdotal counts and the MPS is prepared with some empirical numbers by school.

  34. That’s right, Frank, school-budget season is near! And, yes, empirical beats anecdotal. But the New England Patriots beat both this Sunday… 🙂

  35. A Patriot’s fan?
    Well, we have discovered one belief where you are not a progressive!
    Enjoy the game.

  36. Ha! Nope, not a Patriots fan or a football fan in general, but the Brady bunch do inevitably win plenty of Super Bowls…

  37. I will go out on a limb here and say the Eagles will win by 12.

    And watch the really moronic Toyota commercial in some Humboldt-type forest road. You may know the one…the 1st time young parents speeding & distracted with their infant on-board. Deer. RV. Auto brake. Then the morons resume speeding after their close call. It truly is a funny parody.

  38. Just watched the commercial. Yes, the parents didn’t seem to learn their lesson. I hope the deer was paid decently to appear in the spot…

    The Eagles definitely could win. But the Patriots often squeak out narrow victories — as was the case with all five of their Super Bowl wins this century under Belichick and Brady. Of course, their two SB losses to the Giants were the exceptions. If the Eagles disguised themselves in Giants uniforms tonight…

  39. Sorry Dave. At least you have the Olympics to look forward to.

    When I heard Brett Favre was going to speak to the team, I knew the Eagles were going to run & gun. The Brady Mystique was not a match for two Green Bay quarterbacks.

  40. That’s OK, Frank. I was totally apathetic about who won, and my household had the interesting gender dynamic of my wife and daughter watching the game while I ignored it to do some writing work. 🙂

    Maybe the Patriots will medal in Olympics figure skating…

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