Resident pleads for ‘Yes’ vote

This email & an addendum came in to me today. They seem worth sharing: 

I doubt there is anyone left who is unaware of this, but we are going
to referendum on Tuesday to support or send back the town budget.
Whatever your opinion, you should make it to the polls, so that we
really know what the majority of WH wants.  If you listen to the West
Hartford Tax Payer’s Association, then we are all unhappy with the
budget and are demanding more cuts.  They got the signatures to force
the referendum.  However, after speaking to some people who DID sign
the petitions, they were not necessarily fully aware of the situation.
I also don’t know how many of them realized that the highest officers
of the WHTA are home-schooling and/or sending their kids to private
schools.  It would seem to me that the stakes are not as high for them
in terms of cut-backs in education.

I am not afraid to stand up and tell you I am voting YES to support the
budget.  Like many of you, I am unhappy with the current state of the
cuts made by the BOE, but a NO vote will NOT get those back – it will
only force more cuts.  If you live in WH for the quality of the West
Hartford Public Schools and the other municipal services that we are
offered, then you should join me in voting YES.

I am, like many, confused by the article in Friday’s Courant about the
“lies” and both sides are now calling the others liars.  I can
understand that we need to fight more for our share of ECS funds.
Perhaps there could be some changes made that don’t effect the
programs.  But stuck in the middle of it all is our children, and if we
don’t support the budget now, that is where the cuts will be made – to
our classrooms and to our kids.  If you want to see a restructuring
that will change things in the coming years, then I urge you to get
involved earlier in the process next year.  The schools start preparing
the budget in the fall and by March the administration is presenting it
to the BOE.

When we got the letter from Jim Francis explaining the coming
year’s taxes, we realized it will not be nearly as bad as we expected.
Yes it’s going up, but not dramatically.  I believe them when they say
that as revaluation is phased in, the mill rate will go down.  Maybe it
will never reach the 29 mill rate the mayor has indicated, but I’d like
to believe it will indeed go down, and will balance off the increases
proportionately.  If we continue to make cuts to our services, we may
have lower taxes but what will happen to our property values?

Yes – I am a WHPS teacher, but I’m also a graduate, as was my dad, and
we intend our children to be, as well.  I can tell you from the inside
that many decisions are on hold until this budget is solidified.  New
teachers (like my daughter’s teacher who was a long-term sub this year
and has been offered a position for next year) are not able to sign
contracts until they find out if there are going to be shifts due to
classroom sizes being increased, or Quest being cut, or Kindergarten
going to 1/2 day.  In all cases, tenured teachers will bump out the
newer ones.  That means grade level changes, school changes, and new
curriculums to be learned – which is not necessarily awful but it does
effect our kids on a daily basis.  As any teacher can tell you, the
first year in a new position is a learning year.

If you are interested, there is a West Hartford blog in which you can
see, and participate, in discussions about our town.  It’s being
managed by a WH dad and some of our town officials are even adding to
the discourse.  Unfortunately, some people have resorted to
name-calling and are a bit overly dramatic, but if you skim through
some of those and find the good stuff, you can learn a lot about what
is going on:   https://whdad.wordpress.com/

As stated by Kiernan Majerus-Collins, a 6th grade Quest student, at the
May 29th public hearing, “People don’t move to West Hartford for the
tax breaks, they move to West Hartford for the education.”   (Watch for
Kiernan in future political races 15-20 years from now!)

Feel free to pass this message along, (or shorten it if you wish… but
please don’t misquote me.)  I am hopeful that there won’t be any
ramifications to me – as I’ve seen some not-so-nice stuff on that
blog… I’m just another concerned tax-payer and mom who wants to urge
you to vote on Tuesday, and hope that you vote YES.

Hello again…
I do apologize for bothering you again, but I have to set one thing
straight.  I was just looking at the ad taken out by the WHTA on the
front of the Trade Winds today.  I don’t know about the rest of the
numbers, but I can tell you with certainty that WH teachers do not have
$3.00 co-payments on healthcare.  I’ve been here for 5 years and
they’ve never been that low.  The below excerpt is on the WH Blog, from
a memo written by Jim Francis to the Town Council, and has been there
since June 9th – so I suppose they would have already submitted their
ad.  The memo was submitted to the blog by Chuck Coursey.  The memo
itself is dated June 5th.
https://whdad.wordpress.com/2007/06/09/vote-yes-on-the-budget/

       • The Taxpayers say the average co-payments are $3.00. I do not know
where this comes from but the co-pays for teachers,     administrators,
professionals, and nurses are: office visit -$20; emergency room – $75;
Inpatient hospital – $75; Prescription drug – $5 for    generic, $20 for
brand formulary, and $35 for brand non-formulary.

I’m not calling anyone a liar – but they should really get their facts
straight before they take out ads on the front of a paper.  I wouldn’t
let my students put that kind of misinformation in a school research
project, and they’d have to cite their sources, to boot.

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18 Comments

Filed under education, News, referendum, Taxes, town council, West Hartford Taxpayers Association

18 responses to “Resident pleads for ‘Yes’ vote

  1. Quest4More

    That’s right turtle–keep the redistricting gun pointed at everyone’s head to make sure you get what you want. “Give us the money, or will be bussing your kids into your schools, making life miserable for you.” But why not—it’s worked pretty well for the Sheff plaintiffs, hasn’t it? (…30 million dollar renovations here, 30 million dollar renovations there…)

    The story line that has been perpetrated by the Charter Oak and Smith communities regarding the racial imbalance laws (and their race-mongering allies at the Courant and State) is the biggest con game perpetrated against West Hartford taxpayers since Enron and their shills at the CRRA.

    As I see addressed in a comment to the “School budget slicing and dicing” post that has only been rebutted by you by pleading ignorance and stating “…you would have to ask the ed administration’s lawyers about that one…,” the State’s racial imbalance laws don’t require this Town to allocate a disproportionate amount of this Town’s finite resources to just two of its eleven elementary schools. So stop using the threat of redistricting as an argument for getting what you want.

    As to your more seemingly legitimate arguments for expanding the funding benefiting just these two schools, I agree that this Town hasn’t maintained a significant distinction between what’s offered in these two schools and the remaining nine neighborhood elementary schools. But why is that such a bad thing? Are the children attending Webster Hill, Whiting Lane, and Wolcott—all schools with 30% plus minority populations—any less deserving of an equal education than the children at Charter Oak and Smith?

    (By the way, the U.S. Supreme Court will be weighing in shortly on that issue. So you can probably mark this discussion as the high-water mark for those who perpetuate the myth that the best way to address the inconsequential level of racial isolation that exists in this Town is to discriminate against children who also happen to have 14th Amendment rights to an equal education.)

    Lastly, the commonly held belief that it is the income disparities in this Town that account for the academic achievement gap—an issue I agree needs to be addressed for the long-term benefit of all of us—ignores the sad truth to shield those most responsible for the poor academic performance of their kids from being held accountable for their crime—the parent(s).

    There isn’t a single parent in this Town that can deny that no matter how much money they have earned or inherited if they don’t (1) consistently stay on top of their kids to turn off the TV and get their homework done, (2) insist that their kids make the most out of whatever educational opportunities are offered to them, and (3) stop blaming others for circumstances in life over which they have no control (so they can fully embrace all that has already been bestowed upon them) that their kids’ academic performance will suffer dramatically. I know, because I was near the bottom of the economic rung when I was in elementary school, and after successfully fighting my way into a higher economic group, I now have my own kids who would be happy to be doing just about anything else than focusing on school.

    But instead of addressing the real problem, this Town keeps blindly throwing more and more money at the problem hoping something sticks. And all the while, academic performance isn’t improving—or even more disturbing, getting worse. See

    Enough is enough. Charter Oak and Smith already have more than enough, and until the school budget reflects a more equitable allocation of resources to its neighborhood elementary schools and restores middle-school Quest, I urge all those who share these views to vote “NO” (in protest) on tomorrow’s budget referendum.

  2. What a selfish view that is. Charter Oak and Smith have students who need special help. We need to provide it.

  3. Quest4More

    Hey whdad, I agree that Charter Oak and Smith have special needs that should be addressed. But not at the expense of failing to adress the special needs that exist elsewhere in our Town, nor in a manner that won’t lead to success.

    So while you are free to label my views “selfish,” I prefer labeling them as “enlightened;” i.e., looking beyond politically-correct conventional wisdom for a solution that actually works.

  4. turtle

    Quest4more,

    I would appreciate if you would have the intellectual honesty to reply to my posts in the same thread in which they appear. You misrepresent me out of context.

    “Give us the money, or will [sic] be bussing your kids into your schools, making life miserable for you.”

    This spin is particularly sleazy. I will respond to your points in time, but for the moment I’d appreciate if you did not characterize me and parents from Smith and Charter Oak as, in effect, extortionists (to use a term beloved of the WHTA). I mention redistricting because it is the obvious alternative to increased integration through the magnet schools. Smith and Charter Oak did not invent the racial imbalance regulations. The State of Connecticut did. You don’t like it? Write your representative instead of demonizing the parents of the south end.

  5. turtle

    The story line that has been perpetrated by the Charter Oak and Smith communities regarding the racial imbalance laws (and their race-mongering allies at the Courant and State) is the biggest con game perpetrated against West Hartford taxpayers since Enron and their shills at the CRRA.

    How can anyone possibly take this rant seriously. You’re comparing our little elementary schools to Enron? Get out of town!

    …the State’s racial imbalance laws don’t require this Town to allocate a disproportionate amount of this Town’s finite resources to just two of its eleven elementary schools.

    Where did I or anyone ever make this claim? According to the state, racial imbalance exists when the proportion of minority students for any school is 25 percentage points above or below the townwide average – which in West Hartford is 33 percent. Smith and Charter Oak are out of compliance. The administration and Board of ed’s solution is to revitalize the magnet schools to facilitate integration. Do you have a better solution?

  6. Quest4More

    Hey turtle, I am disappointed that my reply to your posts did not end up in the right place or in a grammatically complete state. But I honestly tried several times to submit this comment earlier today, and met with no success. I honestly don’t know how it ended up here or in its current state. (It certainly wasn’t intended; perhaps whdad should consider upgrading the service provider that hosts this blog.)

    Speaking of whdad, I have now been labeled “selfish,” “dishonest,” and “sleazy” while expressing my honest views about this important topic. What happened to your earlier admonishment to refrain from name-calling and slurs? Does this rule only apply to views that don’t square with your personal view of the topic at hand?

  7. The spam control on this service is usually pretty good — you don’t see any ads for penis enlargement, right? – but it pegs too many real posts. I’m exploring options.
    But this is but a small pasttime for me and progress is slow….

  8. EJ

    Very cute WHDAD- P Enlargement – pegs – posts
    great choice of words.

  9. WH Alum

    Quest4More –
    They are NOT going to restore middle school Quest if we vote the budget down tomorrow. In fact, it is very likely we will lose the entire program. If you are on the side of Quest – you need to vote YES. Then if you want, send a letter to the BOE and ask them to reinstate the Quest position in favor of something else being cut.

    I do not in anyway agree with your statements about Charter Oak and Smith. However, I have been for a long time trying to figure out how they will be encouraging those parents to send their children across town if they make more improvements to those 2 schools. I wouldn’t want to – they’ll have the best of everything. Face it, most of us are here because we like the “neighborhood schools” — whichever neighborhood we may be in. I want my kids to be able to walk to school and play in the afternoon outside with their friends from school, no matter what color, race, religion, or socio-economic status. When I’m making 2 or 3 or even 4 trips to the school to drop off, pick up, or volunteer, I myself can walk or at least make the trip quickly. The improvements won’t make me want to send them across town, and I bet most of those parents feel the same way. Turtle? Am I off base here?

    I know there are some parents who have enjoyed the magnet option and I’m glad it works out for them. But it seems to me that there is a very practical reason why it hasn’t been chosen by the vast majority – and it’s not a financial one or a racial one.

  10. TWC

    I don’t know about Quest4More–who I agree could tone down his potentially inflammatory rhetoric just a tad–but I have a “better solution” for you turtle:

    (1) Demand that the BOE stand up the State and tell them to respectfully “take a hike,” since their own regulations specifically provide that if a school is a school of choice, it’s supposed to be classified as a “unique school” and isn’t subject to the State’s racial imbalance provisions.

    (2) If the State refuses to back off in pressing WH on this issue, either demand a formal opinion on this issue from the Attorney General or litigate this issue in court.

    (3) Once the two Supreme Court decisions have been announced (probably later this month), thoughtfully re-construct the budget to comply with what I and many others are anticipating will be a rejection of the currently accepted view that the 14th Amendment’s right to an equal education doesn’t apply to ALL children, just those lucky enough to win a magnet lottery (or willing to suffer through the many negatives associated with a cross-town bus ride).

    (4) Keep the focus on enhancing the educational opportunities for all students in WH by reducing class sizes and maintaining the professionalism and dedication of our excellent cadre of teachers. (I’m a technologist by trade, but also have a hard time understanding how a dramatic enhancement in technology at Charter Oak and Smith is going to improve anyone’s reading comprehension.)

    (5) Pay close attention to the special needs of all kids in this Town–including gifted kids or students at the lowest rung of the economic spectrum–but only commit to implementing solutions that have a high probability of delivering the intended results for the beneficiaries of such forms of disparate funding.

    Is this asking too much of our BOE?

  11. turtle

    OK, Quest4More, sorry I assumed that your move was calculated. whdad’s spamcatcher has no love for me, either.

    You know, there seems to be a misconception about some of the monies being allocated to Smith (I don’t know about Charter Oak). A chunk of it is dedicated to upgrading Smith’s aging network infrastructure. Although Smith is the technology school, its infrastructure is the most outdated in the system. Had this initiative been packaged as capital improvements instead of “enhancements” would we be having this conversation? It will not mean that Smith has “the best of everything” (although that would be nice). All the schools will eventually plug into the wireless network that the town plans to create, anyway. The science lab is Smith’s advantage over other schools in the system, not the tech upgrade.

    That said, I understand WH Alum’s fondness for neighborhood schools. I feel exactly the same way. However, the magnet schools initially succeeded in attracting families from all over town. They can work.

  12. Joe Visconti

    This is unbelievable, did anyone think that one day we would all be communicating like Alice in Wonderland? I mean I am talking to a turtle and an anonymous dad and an anonymous alumni and even those I agree with a King and an EJ. What the heck is going on in our country??? Who are you people? Fred come back I miss you, at least you and some others have the courage/ to stand up for your nutty views, just like me. Help Mr Wizard, and tommorrow everyone becomes anonymous when they Vote!!!!!!!!! arghhhhhhhhhhhh

  13. turtle

    TWC,

    (1) I think the BOE has, in effect, done just that. Also, I vaguely remember that the state commissioner was threatening to revoke Smith and Charter Oak’s unique status if it meant that racial imbalance at these schools became too pronounced. I am not certain about that, however, which is why I suggested Quest4More ask the town’s lawyers, for which Quest4More poured scorn on me.

    (2) Yes.

    (3) I don’t accept your premise that magnet schools create inequality, since they are, of course, open to out-of-district students. (Are you as exercized by Bristow as you are by Smith and Charter Oak?) Anyway, to complain of inequality with regard to Smith and Charter Oak in a town as rich as West Hartford is a bit disingenuous.

    (4) I agree with the first part of this statement, but as I explained above, the technology allocation is mainly targeted for an overdue upgrade. Some of it is for smartboards and laptops. I agree that it is important to develop ways of using technology that promote various forms of literacy.

    (5) I am with you there.

  14. Quest4More

    I accept the collective criticism that perhaps my choice of words could have been less inflammatory. It must be that correspondence course on public discourse I took from Ann Coulter. (I think Joe Visconti might be a fellow alum?)

    I agree with all that TWC proposes, but would add these four items to his post-referendum plan:

    (6) Re-confirm the primacy of neighborhood elementary schools as the backbone of our communities, and never allow the equally legitimate needs of our neighborhood schools to be neglected and ignored for the benefit of racially motivated magnet programs (as is currently the case in Hartford).

    (7) Publicly initiate contact with our WH state legislators to get them to step up to the plate and begin addressing all the WH public school issues they have been silent about so far. They can start by intervening with the State of Board of Education and insisting that the State issue a formal opinion regarding the interpretation of their own racial imbalance regulations (i.e., do Charter Oak and Smith “…provide for the voluntary enrollment of [their] students…” or don’t they), and then move on to doing a better job of securing this Town’s fair share of educational state funding.

    (8) Actively engage the parents of kids whose academic performance is below generally accepted standards to raise their awareness of the importance of education in the future well-being of their children and our society. (If you don’t find this proposal credible coming from a flame-throwing rugged-individualist like me, how about W.H.I.R.E.D. (West Hartford Initiative on Racial and Ethnic Diversity), a well-intentioned group that examined racism in WH and concluded that it was an act of “institutional racism” for the BOE not to engage minority parents in such discussions.)

    (9) Lastly–because I know it will be the most controversial–I sincerely believe the day of using a magnet program to address concerns regarding racial imbalance or isolation is over. This approach is so 20th century. Thus, I would propose that the BOE abandon these programs, and invest the savings in Charter Oak and Smith to provide a more direct and immediate impact on the educational achievement of these children.

    The proposal to abandon the magnet school program at Nordfeldt has already been put on the table. Since I have heard that several parents disgruntled with the prior round of redistricting sent their kids to Nordfeldt to avoid having to send them to one of the more integrated schools in the south, I see that as a no-brainer. Why should this Town be funding white-flight from our neighborhood schools for these bigots? (Sorry–sometimes I can’t help myself.)

    But just as having a magnet program at Nordfeldt no longer makes any sense, I would argue that all the well-intentioned reasons previously advanced for having magnet programs at Charter Oak and Smith no longer apply. They have not been proven by the test of real-world experience or time, and due to the upcoming Supreme Court decisions, they need to be seriously reconsidered anyway.

  15. turtle

    Quest4More,

    (6) Re-confirm the primacy of neighborhood elementary schools as the backbone of our communities, and never allow the equally legitimate needs of our neighborhood schools to be neglected and ignored for the benefit of racially motivated magnet programs (as is currently the case in Hartford).

    The primacy of neighborhood elementary schools is re-confirmed on a regular basis. But OK, play it again, Sam. I am intrigued, however, by the deprivations suffered by the elementary schools elsewhere in West Hartford. Yes, I have reviewed the final BOE budget cuts. Perhaps you could elaborate? (I am aware of overcrowding at Duffy, for example.) Also, does anybody know how much money has been devoted to Webster Hill’s security enhancements?

    (7) Agreed.

    (8) Actively engage the parents of kids whose academic performance is below generally accepted standards to raise their awareness of the importance of education in the future well-being of their children and our society.

    How much government intervention are you willing to tolerate to achieve this objective? How much money are you willing to pony up? You’re aware, of course, that the “Smith Parent Educator”, who was to fulfill a related role of early childhood education for parents of at-risk children, was made half-time to save the town $10,000. Would you be in favor of restoring those funds?

    (9) This point confuses the issue. If you think magnet programs are obsolete, fine. But magnet programs are not primarily designed to address the education of underperforming children, although that is a part of it, of course. They are meant to promote racial and socioeconomic integration. Especially during this Gilded Age Redux in which we live, when class divisions are ever more acute, I think integration remains an ideal worth pursuing.

    Earlier in this thread you wrote:

    Lastly, the commonly held belief that it is the income disparities in this Town that account for the academic achievement gap…

    It’s a “commonly-held belief” because it’s a fact, nationwide, that low-income children do not perform as well in school as their richer counterparts. I agree that it is important to foster a culture in which education is highly valued. If you figure out how do accomplish this without cost you could be King.

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