MontClairVoyant: Tests and Busing Are Worth Discussing

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DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
What were your three main takeaways from this past Monday’s Board of Education meeting?

Sincerely,
Thrice and Beans

The disturbing acceptance of (too much) standardized testing, the pleas for South End-based Montclair High students to get school-district busing, and my phone. You didn’t expect me to leave it there, did you?

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
At the November 18 meeting, our district’s Interim Superintendent, Director of STEM, and Director of Humanities all seemed pleased about overall NJSLA participation rates rising past 90% in Montclair. Comment?

Sincerely,
Happy, Together

A shame given that those exams waste so much time with preparation and actual test-taking, meaning fewer hours for creative learning — the best learning of all! (The worst learning of all? “Dick and Jane Watch Fox News.”)

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
And, “thanks” to the profit-craving corporate behemoth Pearson, the NJSLAs are foisted on students every year from 3rd to 11th grade!

Sincerely,
Meting Out Misery

If foisting has to happen, why not just once in elementary school and once in middle school (before the SATs in high school)? But I commend the Chromebook for making bisexuality more accepted — that machine is part-laptop/part-tablet, you know.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
And students already get evaluated plenty via local tests given by teachers who know their students best. But why were there fewer opt-outs this past spring?

Sincerely,
Rhea Fusals

Perhaps the lingering threat of PARCC graduation exams, the cynical name switch from the loathed PARCCs to the basically identical NJSLAs, fatigue on the part of ignored anti-overtesting parents, and the rise in goat yoga.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Moving to the topic of school-district busing, shouldn’t South End students have that option?

Sincerely,
Roads Scholars

Yes! It’s a LONG walk to the high school, parents aren’t always available to drive, daily rides on NJ Transit’s 34 bus can get expensive, and the buses are often late. So, additional school-district transportation is a real need and a wheel need but not a teal need (the buses are yellow).

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
The BOE said it was looking into the busing matter. Meanwhile, students at the November 18 meeting asked about having representation on the BOE. What do you think?

Sincerely,
Input in the Future

A great idea. Like teachers, students are “in the trenches” at our schools. Given the age of the main Montclair High building, I think that World War I phrase is appropriate.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
The detailed November 18 agenda I saw online before the meeting said the BOE would consider a contract with the SchoolWorks company for an $825-a-day staff coach. Thoughts?

Sincerely,
Broaching Coaching

Rather pricey, and SchoolWorks’ clientele sadly has included various charter schools — which siphon much-needed money from public schools. Heck, Montclair dodged a charter application just a few years ago; thank goodness our town is athletic.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Was the SchoolWorks staff coach hired?

Sincerely,
Query-Go-Round

I had to leave the BOE meeting at around 10 p.m., but later watched the video and the item I think referred to that hire (no. 4 under “Business Office” on the printed agenda) was approved. I decided against paying anyone $825 to find out for sure.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Also meeting on November 18 was the Township Council — which, like many residents, favors a ban on plastic bags in larger Montclair stores. Okay with you?

Sincerely,
Jersey Hold ‘Em

Another takeaway (the taking away of plastic bags) is fine! There are always paper bags, reusable bags, Bilbo Baggins, and Frodo Baggins.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Hobbits?

Sincerely,
Tolkien of Our Esteem

Yes, many shoppers will develop new Hobbits…um…habits.

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.

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