MontClairVoyant: School Planning for the Fall Is Part of This Column’s Sprawl

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
The Montclair school district’s current possible plan for this fall is to offer the options of both remote and in-classroom instruction. What do you think?

Sincerely,
Pair of Pedagogical Picks

I think remote students will have short bus rides.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Seriously, having two options sounds reasonable for students and parents during the pandemic. But will teachers and other staff also be able to choose whether to work from home or at school?

Sincerely,
Ella Mentary

They should have that choice, but I’m not yet clear if they will. Given the places that COVID-19 cases are spiking in the U.S., I’m just glad Montclair has Northeast School rather than Southeast School or Southwest School.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Montclair used to have Southwest School. Meanwhile, Trump has threatened to make federal funding for public schools contingent on those schools dangerously offering only in-classroom instruction. What’s his motive?

Sincerely,
Endless MAGA Saga

To help the economy as his reelection chances fade, even though fully opening schools too soon would worsen the pandemic and economy. When many more people tragically die, Trump will be sad…that Facebook lacks a “don’t care” emoji.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Meanwhile, the Township of Montclair is partnering with the Montclair Center Business Improvement District to help pandemic-struggling businesses via such means as closing parts of downtown streets to cars on weekends. Reaction?

Sincerely,
Joined Forces, Dinner Courses

Good to see. Montclair has been slower and less comprehensive with this type of effort than some other area towns, but it obviously benefits businesses when they can expand their outdoor footprints. Hoping Fleet Feet has big-enough sneakers to fit those footprints.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Could the Township of Montclair be more helpful to our burg’s other business districts?

Sincerely,
There Are Places Not Remembered…

Yes. Petula Clark not only sang “Downtown” but also “South End Serenade,” “Watchung Plaza Wonderland,” “Upper Montclair Business District Disco,” and “Please Stop Making Up Song Titles That I Never Sang.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
You mentioned Facebook earlier. How did you feel when the 9,000-plus-member Share Montclair group closed down and moved into archive-only mode earlier this week after more than five years?

Sincerely,
Allusion to a Conclusion

Sad. Founder/administrator Colleen Daly Martinez did a terrific job with Share, and new posts will be missed. Share was like a town square, even though laptop and smartphone screens are rectangular. Okay, Share was a town rectangle.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Why did Share close? Is it because being an unpaid Facebook group administrator is difficult and time-consuming?

Sincerely,
Pervasion of Aggravation

Surely among the reasons. Plus it had to be frustrating dealing with some posts that STILL supported Trump even as he has worsened the pandemic, been more racist than ever, sicced federal “law enforcement” on peaceful protesters, etc. From “oy gevalt” to “oy the cult.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
So inspiring to see Portland, Oregon, moms form human shields around protesters. Back in our town, Jose German-Gomez fortunately stepped up this week by founding another local Facebook group: Montclair Community, which is looking good. Comment?

Sincerely,
MC Square

Yes, a Facebook group is a place to comment.

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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23 COMMENTS

  1. “I think remote students will have short bus rides.”
    Actually, pretty funny – we will continue busing to achieve integration during a pandemic. Oh, we are Big Thinkers.

    “Montclair used to have Southwest School.”
    The High School used to have an LGI. I always wondered what LGI stood for. The Welmont Theater, empty during the day, reconfigurable main level, staircases abound. Maybe that is an LGI for some 11th & 12 grade CGI’ers…who then can buy their lunch in the BID? Acronymentia.

  2. Thank you, Frank! Busing indeed temporarily looks different when some or all students are being taught remotely.

    LGI: Large Group Instruction hall? And that’s an interesting idea to use the Wellmont and other non-school venues as classrooms to help in the social-distancing of students.

    You ended with a barrage of acronyms (BOA). Funny!

  3. wish those moms Were ordering those kids home instead. How is another desecrated federal courthouse serving justice?

  4. Thank you for the comment, lacamina. I realize your comment might be partly tongue-in-cheek, but, from what I can see, most of the Portland, Oregon, protesters are adults — so they won’t be taking orders from parents. 🙂

    Also, the vast majority of the protesters have been peaceful, so why should all suffer at the hands of federal police for the less-peaceful actions of a few?

    Finally, conservatives often talk about “states’ rights,” so why are Trump and his supporters so into using FEDERAL police? (Especially when local and state officials have clearly and repeatedly stated that they don’t want them there.) Let local police — who can at times be violent themselves against protesters in various cities and towns 🙁 — handle things. Actually, re “states’ rights,” many conservatives favor “states’ rights” when it’s for racist ends and are against “states’ rights” when trying to stick it to antiracists.

  5. Dave,,

    I’m afraid you are missing my point. This happens all the time with me. I will say it another way; the way I said it in April.

    We need to suspend the school-level magnet system for the 2020-21 school year and use a neighborhood school model for a majority of the face-to-face learning.

    I fully expect to be a party of 1 on this. But, just give a couple of days thought to the ‘what if’.

    For pure kicks and giggles, gather a principle, a language teacher a finance person, an infectious disease person, a psychologist, get a phys-ed person, a working parent (or two), an older adult with no children, a historian, and a rebel antagonist. Have them plus & minus the idea and make a recommendation how it could work. Note, they can’t come back and say it doesn’t work nor can they compare to existing ways. We will already have 10,000 of these people.

    As I said, kicks & giggles.

  6. Thank you, Frank, for fleshing out your July 23 comment.

    I theoretically understand the logic of not having the magnet system for a year (fewer bus rides needed), but it clearly wouldn’t be desirable. Many students would end up going to different schools, having different teachers, etc. — all incredibly disruptive. I’d rather see online-only learning for students (in their usual schools with their usual teachers) than what you suggest. Actually, I think the hybrid option announced by the superintendent yesterday might be the best solution under the circumstances. If that option happens, it will be nice for students to have some in-person school time with their classmates and teachers, hopefully in as safe a way as possible — helped by there being fewer people in school buildings at any one time.

  7. It’s the minority of destructive protests aimed at Federal buildings that Fed security are arresting.

  8. lacamina, everything I’ve read indicates that not just “guilty” people have been attacked and/or snatched off the street by federal police (wearing no visible ID and using unmarked vehicles). And there was that Navy veteran who committed no crime yet had his hand smashed and broken by baton-wielding federal police. Plus many people who’ve done nothing but peacefully protest have been tear-gassed — one of them Portland’s mayor.

  9. Frank, I should add: Given that the magnet system was set up to integrate Montclair’s schools, it would send a bad message to halt that system even temporarily. (I realize the magnet system has integrated Montclair schools imperfectly, but it still has helped a lot.)

  10. Yes, I realize there are 10,000 parents and their 10,000 reasons to try and recreate the school model we had. As a voting bloc, you guys will prevail on the plan. TX, FL, & AZ didn’t follow the science. I do, so I likely will prevail on what actually happens.

    I’m not interested in appeasing people with appearances. Take the pandemic science, strategies & approaches out of my argument. Montclair spends $600K on busing. The buses roll whether they have 7 students or 20. Do you know how many students (new to the reduced/free meal plan) that money will feed? Because I’m looking at a Federal Washington, D.C. that took the weekend off. And the people that do manage to get a job, do you think they will replace the wages they had pre-pandemic. I’m educated in Economics of the last century, but I think there might be a drop-off.

    This year has been a shock to everyone. It is hard to digest, much less plan clearly. But, really, it is coming up to 6 months now and we need to really bear down and focus. Really. seriously focus and lose the rose-colored glasses.

  11. Frank, I realize that busing during the 2020-21 school year (if busing happens) will be very inefficient. I realize the pandemic is causing all kinds of huge problems — health-wise, education-wise, funding-wise, etc. But lower-income students will still be fed (a big shout-out to Toni’s Kitchen, among other entities and people, for that). The only thing that’s going to really solve this mess in Montclair and elsewhere will be a vaccine, widely administered.

  12. Even head of Portland NAACP is distancing from Portland protests (“a white spectacle””). These are the goofs that Portlandia parodied. a sub-sub culture having fun and loving the attention. We have a pandemic to worry about and they’re an annoying distraction (Even to NAACP!). They’re entitled to protest of course but stop with destruction (or face arrest)

  13. Frank, parents were surveyed on what they’d like to see the school district do this fall during the pandemic. Many parents (African-American, white, etc.) responded. If there were a lot (or any) sentiment to temporarily do away with the magnet system and busing, I think we would have heard about it.

  14. lacamina, some NAACP branch leaders and members lean centrist or conservative. Heck, many NAACP leaders and members tend to be the older black voters who mostly supported the centrist Biden rather than the younger black voters who mostly supported the progressive Bernie. The 1909-founded NAACP is in many ways an establishment organization.

    I think it’s great that a lot of white people in Portland and elsewhere are taking part in the Black Lives Matter movement and protesting against racism. Racial solidarity is the worst nightmare of conservative Republicans who want to see/sow racial division — feeling that might be a winning electoral strategy. Their hating to see racial solidarity might even at least partly explain why Trump chose Portland as the first place to send federal police.

  15. Just some technical points:

    * Metro Portland is 76% white. All of their spectacles are typically white dominated.
    * The Federal tactical forces are not using arrest powers. They are using rendition powers.

  16. Thank you, Frank. See my 6:13 a.m. reply to lacamina for some of my thoughts on the Portland area’s “whiteness.” As for rendition, it is of course worse than arrest — though the federal forces should be doing neither and not be in Portland at all, especially given that local and state leaders didn’t invite them and don’t want them there. But a desperate Trump feels “law and order” might be his only route to winning the election (other than rigging it). And Trump is obviously reveling in all this police violence, but would never have the guts to personally put himself in harm’s way. His history is fleeing to the White House bunker, “bone spurs” to avoid fighting during the Vietnam War, etc.

  17. Dave,

    Good point about all parents & caregivers had given frequent, formal input… and the district is tailoring its offering in direct response to that input. Therefore, I agree the idea likely never came up, was an outlier, or a non-starter.

    I didn’t understand the teacher disruption comment. When I went through Montclair’s elementary schools more than fifty years ago, we used to have a new teacher & classroom every year. In middle school we moved between classrooms/subject teachers. I guess it is a little different now.

    If memory serves me right, each family submits their magnet school building preferences…like 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices?

  18. Thank you, Frank. The district does seem to be taking various people’s opinions into account re how pandemic-time learning will happen this fall.

    I understand the changing of teachers and classrooms each year; there’s certainly still plenty of that in Montclair schools. The disruption I was referring to was related to the idea of students suddenly/temporarily going to entirely different schools (neighborhood schools) rather than the magnet schools in which they are currently enrolled. That of course would also mean teachers, if they stayed with their schools, teaching many students they’ve never seen before.

    Yes, definitely magnet-school preferences — if I’m recalling correctly, parents submit their 1st through 6th choices for elementary schools.

  19. But not starting a new school. 🙂 (Unless going into 6th grade, going into 9th grade, being a transfer student, or moving into town.)

  20. True! Moving from the George Inness Annex to Montclair High’s main building is sort of/kind of like starting a new school…