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Preview: Disqus - Latest Comments for teacher1

Disqus - Latest Comments for teacher1

Last Build Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2011 12:54:50 -0000


Re: Nashua school officials concerned about truancy

Sun, 20 Nov 2011 12:54:50 -0000

Oh, and the absences being counted are only the full-day absences...they do not track (or report) the absences of single classes or half days.

Re: Nashua school officials concerned about truancy

Sun, 20 Nov 2011 12:44:48 -0000

If they were really concerned about truancy/absences, there would be an attendance policy with a little teeth ("pretty please come to school" does not count). If they were really concerned they would hire more than ONE truancy officer to deal with the entire district (to my understanding, the officer focuses on younger children, hoping to stop the problem before it gets too big. Rarely does he have the time to deal with the high schoolers). If they were really concerned, ALL absences would be at issue, not just the "unexcused" ones (would love to get numbers on how many absences--for any reason--the average students have). I wish the public would realize the last several years, any time anyone came close to talking about a real attendance policy, parents called in outraged that we might be affecting their vacations. Attendance is a HUGE problem and needs to be dealth with. The fines are a good start, but who really believes they'll happen? And who will enforce the fine in the rare instance that a kid is fined?

Re: Truants can now be fined

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 20:09:16 -0000

No, I don't agree. I think that forcing students to go to school when they have clearly demonstrated that they don't want to be there interferes with the educations of those who do...every child has a right to an education, but I believe that at some point the rights of that one do not supercede the rights of their classmates. I am fully in favor of encouraging alternate education possibilities for those students...internships and such where they can gain experience that will help them in the future. I'm also in favor of making it easy for them to come back when they realize that education will help them. But I personally do not see that raising the dropout age has helped anyone.

Re: Truants can now be fined

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 18:07:43 -0000

20 unexcused absences is roughly 1/4 of the semester under block scheduling. Why not use the numbers that the STATE has declared for truancy--I believe 5 full days or 10 half days meet the state definition. And why only target the juniors and seniors? As has been pointed out, truancy is an issue that starts much earlier than the last two years of high school. While I agree that there is very little a parent can do to ensure that a student stay in school, they can be very involved in those students getting to school...I have had students in the past allowed to stay home for all sorts of reasons (including, but not limited to puppy-sitting a new pet and "just because;" let's not forget the family vacations that are taken before/after scheduled school vacations or whenever plane tickets were cheap)...most of which would be marked as 'excused' and not even apply to the 20 unexcused absences. Let's face it, by the time most kids have achieved 20 absences, we don't want them back in class...the likelihood of them completing makeup work and passing the class is very slim. And realistically, the students who are out that much are not likely to pay (or be able to afford to pay) any fines against them. Who will be the enforcers? Our one, single truancy officer in Nashua?
This is a start, but it's pretty much lip service so that the BOE can feel like it's doing something to fix a major problem in Nashua. In reality, I predict that this will have very little, if any affect on attendance.

Re: Report shows Phoenix Program students struggled after closure

Wed, 26 Oct 2011 10:57:29 -0000

"Last year, 24 percent of middle school students were absent more than 20 days, while 70 percent of high school students were absent more than 20 days. In the last year of the Phoenix Program, 80 percent of students missed more than 20 days."

In what world are these kinds of attendance figures acceptable? And yet, in Nashua, there is NO attendance policy!!! Basically the state truancy definitions suffice...but with only one truancy officer for the whole district, we are very limited in what we can do (an "attendance contrat? Seriously? You think these kids will listen to that sort of thing?).

My wish is that instead of talking about charter schools for specific areas is that we would focus on an alternative school--run like a boot camp--for just these students listed here. Kind of like our own Clearwater program--instead of sending them out-of-district, we keep them here and send them to a strict discipline environment. Unfortunately, there is a dire need for this sort of thing for a number of our population. And by removing these disruptive kids from the regular classrooms, we open up opportunities for our lower-achieving but deserving kids to actually get something done instead of keeping them in circus-style classrooms where no one can learn. When the students demonstrate that they're ready to go back to a regular classroom, they move back (at a quarter or semester breaking point).

There are so many kids who would benefit by having the disruptive ones removed, and I see the strict environment as a way of showing the troubled kids that there are both rewards and consequences for their actions.

Re: Irene preparation: Merrimack River level lowered in anticipation of flooding

Fri, 26 Aug 2011 08:53:45 -0000

Isn't the river already really low? I can't remember how long it's been since we could actually boat on it--every year it gets lowered for some kind of maitenance!! Now they're going even lower? Must be one heck of a flood headed our way!

Re: Make apology part of school fire terms

Tue, 26 Jul 2011 08:51:12 -0000

As a former teacher of one of the boys involved, I can tell you that at least one of the boys wouldn't care, and if forced to apologize wouldn't mean it. Today's teens are excellent at looking people directly in the eye and lying to them simply to get out of trouble. A more appropriate way to deal with them would be to involve them in the clean-up and repairs...I still don't think he would care in the least, would complain about being forced to do the work, but at a minimum would be forced to see the consequences of his actions and deal with them. Lip service (the apology) simply isn't enough.

Re: Tenure law fine as far as it goes

Fri, 22 Jul 2011 09:53:59 -0000

There are already processes in place to deal with bad teachers...if the districts choose not to use them, it isn't the fault of the teachers.  What tends to happen is that administrators are tasked with dealing with all teachers in their area (high school teachers, anyway).  In my area, that means one administrator is responsible for covering/observing/dealing with about 40 teachers. This, in addition to handling the disciplinary issues of an additional 500-600 students, including but not limited to classroom issues, IEPs, 504s, parent contacts, attendance issues...and let's not forget the administrative meetings held at both the school and district level. The process we had in place would have been much more effective if administrators had time to do their jobs, but budgetary issues keeps adding to their responsibilities.

The new policy does very little to change doesn't appear to help teachers improve (heck, it doesn't even give them notice that they need to!!),  and keeps them waiting for "fault" firings much longer. I don't see this as helping to improve anything; instead it will make things more problematic in the long run.

Re: Scheduling changes may be coming to Nashua high schools

Tue, 19 Jul 2011 14:00:48 -0000

A good portion of the problem right now is classes where students are low level, uninterested and non-motivated. Spending 90 minutes with students who are basically determined to fail is enough to test the patience of even the very best teachers. Classes that are broken up into shorter, daily classes have (in my opinion), a better chance of reaching those students who need to be reached. Let's face it--high level kids are going to do well no matter what kinds of classes they are taking. There are also classes that "fit" better into the block, including the vocational and lab-based classes; an unfortunate number of classes right now allow students a good amount of time to complete homework, then complain that they can't finish the curriculum. There is only so much we can expect of students on a daily basis in any class.  The best schedule will involve a mix of both short and long classes so that students can receive the best education possible.

Re: Teachers tenure debate revived

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 10:33:56 -0000

This change doesn't help anyone, really. Most teachers can tell if a new teacher (to the district, not necessarily a new teacher overall) is going to make it by the end of the first semester. For those facing super-challenging classes/situations, perhaps a full year. Five years is waaaaaay more time than needed--to my mind it allows Nashua to suck teachers dry, then just as they're getting to those higher steps on the pay scale let them go without any reason.

Evaluations in Nashua, at least at the high school level, are done twice a year, if that. They usually involve harried administrators coming into the classroom for a scheduled observation, staying approximately 20-45 minutes (usually on the shorter side), then leaving. Follow-up meetings are held anywhere from 1-4 weeks after the observations (if they are held at all). This isn't the fault of the administrators, necessarily, but because they are over-scheduled into meetings, covering 500+ kids' disciplinary issues, dealing with parents and attendance issues, they simply don't have time to do more than check off items on a list for new teachers' observations. We do offer coaching and mentoring programs, and they are helpful, but most teachers see asking for help from the mentors as drawing attention to problems (that may be out of their control) and try to handle it on their own.

If administrators took advantage of the system already in place, this policy would be useless. Simply taking five years instead of three won't change anything in a positive way.

Re: Parents schooled on letter of laws

Fri, 24 Jun 2011 08:03:42 -0000

They don't. And the tests themselves don't affect students in the least (in terms of advancing grades, graduation...even having their scores reported to anyone but the school). Some tests have sections on information students haven't even covered yet (math usually) and others have sections that students covered 3-4 years ago and never again (science does this a lot). The English section has different tasks on different one kid might have to analyze the structure of a poem and the other may have to simply write an opinion on something, and a third migh be commenting on symbolism of a passage from an antiquated article. Combined with the fact that the results don't affect them, is it any surprise that kids don't always do well?

When results are reported, they do indicated how much improvement has been made/lost in a certain category, but keep in mind that the results are those of two different groups of tested kids.

Re: Teacher contract proposal to be taken to aldermen for approval

Fri, 17 Jun 2011 17:05:14 -0000

I just have to take issue with Mr.Clemons statement “It shows that when you get together early, sit down at the table, and actually compromise, good things can happen.” Negotiations started well over a year ago (closer to a year and a half); talks had broken down and gone to fact-finding. There was nothing about this situation that happened quickly, and from what I can tell, very little was actually given back to teachers (i.e. "compromise") by the BOE or the city. No additional (no-cost) benefits were offered, very few changes overall. The best that can be said is that not much changed (language-wise) from the current contract.  

Re: Charter school idea put to board

Mon, 13 Jun 2011 21:12:09 -0000

As a teacher working within the Nashua school district, I would like to see us go against the grain...sure, it would be nice to have a magnet school for the arts or a bilingual school or a technical learning school...but everyone is already doing that. I would like to see us create a school for the disenfranchised, the kids with poor family situations and bad attendance issues, due to personal choices, lack of parental involvement, or jail time. I don't want a feel-good program like Phoenix was (sorry, but I don't think a school with no homework that encourages calling teachers by first names and allowing profanity as if teachers and students are good friends is the way to go). I want a boot-camp style program that focuses on the basics like reading and writing, and maybe even a little 'rithmatic here and there. Job skills programs already exist in the high schools...but they're useless to kids without basic skills.

The school I'd like to see developed would have strict attendance policies, unlike any other school in Nashua outside night school, and would enforce strict consequences for poor choices/behaviors (however, getting kicked out could not be one of the consequences or it would be doomed before starting--kids won't want to go to a school like this because it forces them to take responsibility for themselves and their actions). It would be dedicated to catching kids up to where they should be, if not before the high school level then starting freshman year. It would have ways for pregnant teens and delinquent teens to work on basic life skills as well as work towards at least a core diploma or GED option. Counseling would be a required element. It would be a place where kids who have been passed along (social promotion) finally get the time and attention they need. Classes would be super-small. Scheduling might be irregular, perhaps late day or even early evening. Teachers would be addressed as "yes, sir" and "no ma'am." It would be strict, and it would be tough, and it would require these kids to actually learn and be responsible members of society.

I realize that the latest and greatest thoughts about charter schools are all about taking the best of the best and making them better...but Nashua doesn't have a place or an effective means of dealing with the kids who are getting left behind. The policies that do exist are simply words, rarely enforced for a number of reasons (budget included). Where we have a need is where the kids who, for whatever reason, are getting left behind and need some help catching up. That's where I'd like to see our attention go if Nashua decides to pursure a charter.

Re: Salary for new hires ires Nashua school board member

Sat, 21 May 2011 21:19:23 -0000

So Ms. Ziehm's  issue with the starting salary for the tech position is not that the position itself is too highly paid (since she doesn't have a problem with Ms. Dustin's raise), it's that the other candidate will be making too much of a salary jump? We're asking the other person to re-locate to an area with a higher cost of living. If I were to move from NH to NY or NY, I would be making double digit raises too, but that's due to the higher cost of living. The candiate applied for the position knowing the salary range...if the BOE didn't want to use that range, they shouldn't have posted it as such. And it seems, from the write-up, that the candidate is certainly qualified...25 years experiences and a masters? Sounds qualified. 

Re: Nashua mayor’s budget calls for cuts, level spending and sacrifice

Wed, 18 May 2011 20:24:30 -0000

Reductions in staff and servicing in education have already created the sort of damage that will take years to rebuild. Class sizes are expected to go up, numerous teachers have lost their positions, students now pay a fee to play sports...I also find it troubling that she presents her budget, then essentially is trying to blackmail city unions into accepting non-negotiated health care concessions. Negotiations are always contentious, and we're still trying to rebuild trust after the last brouhaha...this isn't the way to go about that.  

Re: Concord student wishes bin Laden had killed her teacher, gets suspended

Wed, 18 May 2011 19:30:00 -0000

I think most of the commenters here are neglecting to realize how times have changed...most schools now have (as a result of state bullying laws) policies that cover internet useage at home AND at school. ANY threatening comment needs to (legally) be investigated by the school and dealt with. In my personal opinion, the amount of time out of school was too much, but I have no problem at all with her having been suspended. If she had made that comment to/about another student, do you think the other student's parents would have been within their rights to complain?!? (Again, most school policies now say "yes" and require investigation). What if that teacher  had been injured or felt threatened? Clearly, the likelihood of Bin Laden doing it is zero, but with teachers literally being attacked in the classroom (remember the sub at North who was hospitalized as a result of a student attacking him over an ipod/cell phone?!?), I would much rather err on the side of safety.

Also, students think their accounts are private and invisible to everyone...they need to realize that what they say can be seen by others and used against them. Anything online is public, regardless of settings.

The idea of being afraid to face the teacher is ridiculous...go back to class. If it's really an issue, allow the student to take the class with a different teacher. But a private tutor?? That's ridiculous!!

Re: Two reasons for community pride

Tue, 26 Apr 2011 10:07:04 -0000

Wouldn't it be nice if more people admired, or at least respected teachers, instead of blaming them for pretty much everything wrong these days?? Even Shawno's comments wonder many newer teachers don't stay very long. That is, if the budget even allowed them to...

Re: Comings, possible district goings

Tue, 26 Apr 2011 09:59:52 -0000

The mayor keeps asking for more and more cuts to the education budget...but at what cost to the students? Realisticall, teachers who can retire this year are doing so because of changes to the retirement and pension systems. Many teachers who could retire did so last year as well, for the same reason. The majority of teachers in my building could be there for many more years, and are well-respected by both colleagues and students...yet the mayor says "cut more." There's nowhere left to cut that won't affect students even more than the current cuts...the loss of extracurriculars and sports would be disastrous (and yet are among the potential losses with the 3 and 5% reductions)! I believe the loss of the Spanish teachers will be felt in larger class sizes and fewer options for students who failed to make scheduling decisions on time. I understand that the mayor is trying to work within the constraints given to her, but at some point, we have to look beyond the budget caps, beyond the political in-fighting, and towards the future of our students in the long run, not just budget 2011-2012 school year.


Sat, 23 Apr 2011 19:24:30 -0000

To meet the mayor's request of 3 and 5% reductions, schools will basically have to eliminate ALL extracurriculars (including sports at all levels), and perhaps several elective classes as well (including perhaps the arts, world languages, physical education classes...anything deemed "non-essential." There simply isn't that much more that can be reduced). I don't think the mayor is realistic in her expectations that more can be cut without drastically affecting the education of students in Nashua. Also class sizes will surely increase, even at level funding.

Re: Teacher contract good for Merrimack

Thu, 07 Apr 2011 13:41:28 -0000

Right now we're best described as "apprehensive." A lot of people are
worried about jobs. Contracts are up August 31st, and we're watching
what is going on at the state level and trying to make contingency
plans in terms of both contracts and retirement. All the beautiful
techonlogy we bought when we opened the new high schools is slowly
breaking down, and fixing it tends to be "not my job" depending on the
fix required. Online gradebooks/parent portal has raised some concerns.
We're supposed to get some new laptops next year to help us out, so
there's a little light on the horizon. Planning to attend tonight's
forum to see where we're headed according to Mr. Conrad. Hard to stay
positive and enthusiastic when there are so many detractors and
negative comments against teachers across the nation (not to mention
here in Nashua) but we're trying.

Quoting Disqus <>:

Re: Teacher contract good for Merrimack

Wed, 06 Apr 2011 13:59:08 -0000

Just so I'm clear here, requiring higher co-pays, contributions (health and pension), and deductibles plus limiting raises to less than 1% is a net reduction in salary. Further, remaining "at or even below New Hampshire teacher salary averages" is NOT a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. Salaries should be at or above averages in order to attract good teachers to the district It may be good for the taxpayer (maybe), but is it good for education, our kids, and our future?

Re: Battle builds over budget

Wed, 30 Mar 2011 09:55:13 -0000

Does Rep. Weyler not understand the amendment itself, is he actively lying to the public, or is he just that dumb? Of course this amendment changes (effectively ends) collective bargaining for public unions!!! One of the first things to happen in the current session was the repeal of the Evergreen clause. Not to mention the multiple bargaining units whose contracts wouldn't be grandfathered in even if the evergreen clause were allowed to stand ,because they were signed before it took place and expire now that it has been repealed (including, by the way, most if not all bargaining units in Nashua). With a number of contracts expiring this summer, I'm curious as to the mayor's reaction to the possibility that she/the town might have to individually bargain with the thousands of city employees--it simply isn't reasonable nor timely to expect this to happen between contract expiration and, say, the beginning of the school year (then again, if successful, there's also a bill to end compulsory education. "Just fire all the teachers altogether--who needs 'em?!?" seems to be the feeling of certain representatives in Concord).

What is most disturbing to me is how quickly the current legislature is pushing through far-reaching bills and amendments with seemingly little thought to the long-term consequences, not to mention that most are done so fast as to avoid public comment/questions. I also question the legality of some of their actions, which will almost certainly lead to drawn-out legal battles (for example, what right does the state have to interfere with city/town negotiations?) and costly legal bills for all parties involved.

We're all supposed to just roll over and accept that this is for "the best. " I reject that argument outright. Getting rid of programs and services and telling people "you'll be fine" is another lie that is being told at the state level. If the current politicians believe that the amendment to end collective bargaining is helping the state in the long run, they are the ones lying to the public. They need to slow down and examine the long-term ramifications of what they're doing (and costing) the public, not just now, but years from now.

Re: School attendance policy gets makeover

Sun, 20 Mar 2011 20:24:16 -0000

I wish I understood what the superintendent has against punitive consequences for poor behavior. If I stopped showing up for work, I'd be fired. We should be teaching our students that when they don't fulfill their obligations (like showing up for school) that certain things will happen. An attendance contract is a joke (and again, has nothing to prevent anyone from breaking it). Adding the athletes to it will do very little, given that by the time an athlete has amassed 20 unexcused absences their season is likely over (not to mention that their parents have paid fees for them to participate). The tardy addition has some promise, but again there's no bite. The interesting thing to me is that Mr. Conrad is basing his lack of support on an attendance policy that was NEVER enforced, as it depended on teacher record-keeping of (at that time) upwards of 130 student+. Perhaps if her were to go back in time about 20 years, when a REAL policy existed, he might find different data. Lastly, I'd like to see the attendance rules based on a class-by-class basis...there are students showing up for first period (breakfast before school), hanging out in the hallways until lunch, and then leaving. Even the kids will tell you that "no one cares" if they're in class or not, and the current policy isn't much more than the previous "students should be in school" policy.

Re: More budget cuts may cost teacher jobs

Thu, 03 Mar 2011 09:07:09 -0000

The irony...yesterday was all about how well Merrimack has done in testing, so now we're going to cut teaching positions.

Re: Hollis teachers contract among those in dispute

Sun, 27 Feb 2011 19:20:17 -0000

I've worked in my district for over ten years...I can't think of one single time the principal in my building was in my room for more than 5 minutes. I'm also not against some kind of merit pay system, but what they're talking about isn't thought through clearly at all.