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Middletown parents upset over surprise summer-school news

Note According to his LinkedIn profile, Superintendent Ken Eastwood has been recognized as one of the country's "Top Ten Tech Savvy Superintendents" in 2003.
Middletown is a small city (population 28,000). On the last day of school, they made summer school mandatory for 25% of kids in K-2.

Superintendent Eastwood's reasoning is: "We've never had standards like we do now."

The parent of a kindergartner received a letter saying his daughter's "academic portfolio" and "multiple assessment measures" indicated the need for the intervention.

82% of the 1,175 children at Maple Hill Elementary and 72% of 1,047 students at William A. Carter Elementary are eligible for free and reduced lunch. (Great Schools)

Has anybody tried giving the kids 15 books (of their choice) to read over the summer? 15 books to keep would be a lot cheaper than the $500 apiece to require kids go to summer school skills "intervention." There's solid research supporting this (and none supporting summer school intervention). Start with Stephen Krashen and Richard Allington.

I sent a letter to this effect, and the newspaper informs me they will publish it.

Here's a great parent response:

Mr. Bayne, you didn't get all the facts!
Parents are angry (not upset) because we found out on the day before the last day of school that:

*Kindergarteners were assessed using Benchmark and MAP assessments.

*MAP assessment was used as the sole factor in deciding grade placement; the district discarded teacher's assessments, report cards and teacher/parent conferences. If parents were notified about this, parents would have sent refusal letters.

*We were mislead and lied to because the letters we received indicated retention or placement into transitional grades (new). During every parent/teacher conference, the teacher always assured me that my kids were not a case for retention hence, my surprise when I received the retention letter.

*Implementation of 2 new programs that supposedly will be used to help students achieve Common Core standards.

*In order for our kids to be able to be considered for grade promotion, our kids must attend Summer School. We already paid for summer camps, travel expenses, change of work schedule.

I don't want my children to be mentally exploited by any Common Core or any standardized tests associated with Common Core.

I don't want my children to be assessed for grade placement by a computer test. I want to have full and advanced communication with the school district about my child's future. I don't want my child to be used as a guinea pig on brand new programs without my consent; I'm the parent! I have parental rights and the U.S. Supreme Court has "repeatedly held that parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children free from unreasonable state interferences"

Last but not least, I want my 6 year old kindergartner to enjoy going to school!

There were a lot of angry responses, all of them advising parents in a resounding "Just say no!" to keep their kids out of this summer intervention.

By Richard J. Bayne

MIDDLETOWN -- Thursday was the last day of class for elementary school children in the Middletown School District, but some primary-grade parents are reeling from a last-minute surprise -- their kids will have to attend a mandatory summer school intervention to go on to the next grade.

Many parents whose kids were identified for the summer intervention didn't get notification until Wednesday.

"How come parents weren't informed? How come teachers weren't informed?" asked Maple Hill Elementary parent Stephanie Roman, who got a letter Wednesday. Roman, whose 6-year-old daughter, Mia, finished kindergarten Thursday, said a line of parents was gathered at school Thursday to press teachers and administrators about the letters. Roman said her daughter's teacher never indicated any problems. "Her teacher has had nothing but great things to say about her," Roman said.

Superintendent Ken Eastwood apologized for the late notification, saying the notices should have gone out at least a month ago, but he defended the necessity of the program.

"I'm not happy with that (the late notification)," Eastwood said, "but the long and short of it is, we have to make sure that these kids are successful over the long term. We have to do whatever intervention is needed to get it done."

The children in the summer program are identified based on local math and English language assessment tests administered three times a year, Eastwood said. He said the district is committed to addressing academic insufficiencies in grades K-2 to head off academic failure, and that's where summer school money will be allocated.

About 600 students

This year, he said, there will be about 600 students in the K-2 intervention program. It will run for five weeks, Monday through Thursday, starting July 7. At the end, students will be re-evaluated to determine if they are ready to move on to the next grade level. The program will cost the district about $300,000, he said.

Eastwood said the district has done similar intervention programs before, but what's different this year is the number of participants is much higher -- by about 25 percent. And the late notification issue has many parents upset.

Eastwood said beefed-up standards are putting pressure on the district and the kids.

"We've never had standards like we do now," he said. "We have to get these kids ready for academic challenges, we have to do something significant."

The letter Roman received said a "comprehensive review" of Mia's "academic portfolio" and "multiple assessment measures" indicated the need for the intervention.

"Since when in kindergarten do they have an academic portfolio?" Roman said. "Are they kidding me?"


— Richard J. Bayne
Times Herald Record





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