In recent weeks Saugerties Times has been a perversely entertaining bulletin board for the lunacy of certain School Board trustees, as well as a record of our superintendent’s “oops-I’m-on-the-wrong-side-of-history” flip-flop of his anti-test refusal stance. It’s been so wacky that I hardly know where to begin…
Read all of this week’s school-election-related letters in the print edition, on newsstands May 7-13.
I was bummed that I had missed the last BOE meeting, because I heard that Angie Minew went off her rocker and blamed teachers for fomenting the parent-driven test refusal movement. But lest her ignorant and offensive remarks be misquoted in this paper, Minew actually published her (oft incoherent and misspelled) tirade verbatim in a letter to the editor! And in last week’s edition she intimated that her teacher-bashing comments resulted in her Cadillac being keyed by a vengeful Saugerties teacher or parent. The problem with her suspicion is that Minew’s car was out of state at the time of the incident! It’s preposterous. And shame on the Times for printing this highly un-newsworthy event (complete with photos).
Flo Hyatt’s letter last week (co-signed by BOE President George Heidcamp) was a mean-spirited jab at the members of parent-based PACE (People Actively Committed to Education) and an inaccurate sucker-punch to Jennifer Mangione, who was all but mentioned by name. Hyatt is apparently unfamiliar with social media sites like the PACE Facebook page, where anyone can comment on issues relative to the organization. She read a number of (justified IMO) vitriolic comments critical of Heidcamp’s and Superintendent Turner’s positions on test refusals and the “sit and stare” controversy and wrongfully attributes them to Mangione. Yet in effect Hyatt’s letter just emphasizes the need for a “special interest” group like PACE in Saugerties. Here we have a BOE that holds the voices of parents in contempt; discourages public comment by relegating it to the end of its hours-long meetings; and does not typically answer or address public comments in their meetings at all. PACE was created as a forum for parents’ concerns.
Seth Turner went out of his way in the run-up to the state tests to write how wrong and risky it was for parents to refuse the tests. His opinions were printed on two occasions in the Times; parents were misguided to consider test refusal as a means to express their discontent with school and teacher evaluations. The week following the tests, and contrary to most other districts in the state, Turner refused to make the Saugerties refusal numbers public. In his odd opinion the statistics were a matter somehow akin to confidentiality between parents and teachers. But to Turner’s credit he reversed that position the following week, and we have now seen that the refusal rates in Saugerties reflect much more than the rogue “special interests” of a handful of rabble-rousing parents (as Heidcamp and others had portrayed the issue prior to the tests). Yet in the last sentence of the Times article with the refusal figures, Turner offhandedly abandoned his earlier qualms regarding test refusals. He wrote that he hoped Albany would now get the message that parents are upset about current policies. Thanks a lot, Seth. Where were you when we needed you?