Friday, October 17, 2003
Gleason's museum passes are a gift to the town
To the Editor:
I would like to thank the members of the Carlisle Revenue Enhancement Committee (REC) for their volunteer efforts to find new non-tax revenues for the town. Volunteers certainly make Carlisle a special town.
l would also like to address one of the suggestions presented in the Mosquito article from October 3. It was suggested, I think, that the Gleason Public Library start charging for the use of museum passes. The museum passes are not purchased with tax dollars but are donated by the Friends of the Gleason Public Library (FOGPL.) It would be inappropriate for the town to collect money for a donated "enhancement" to our public library. The Friends is a non-profit group that raises money to enrich basic services provided by the Gleason Public Library. The Friends pay for all their programs and services with private funds. No tax dollars are used to purchase museum passes: they are just one of many enhancements made available thanks to the generosity of private citizens during the Friends of the Gleason Public Library Annual Appeal (which is coming up soon).
The current list of passes sponsored by the Friends includes: Children's Museum, Concord Museum, DeCordova Museum, Discovery Museum, Drumlin Farm, Fruitlands, Gardner Museum, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Institute of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, New England Aquarium, Orchard House, Peabody Essex Museum, and Roger William Park Zoo.
Thanks again to the REC and also to those friends who generously donate to the Friends.
Paula Trebino, president, FOGPL
Blanket collection for the homeless
To the Editor:
We will be collecting new and/or used blankets again this year for Solutions-At-Work, an arm of the Cambridge Homeless Coalition. These blankets are directly distributed to the homeless. Last year, thanks to the generosity of so many Carlisleans, we collected over 60 blankets! Blankets can be dropped off at our barn at 39 Baldwin Road. We will be dropping off the blankets right before Thanksgiving and again in January. Contributions are tax deductible. Again many thanks for the generosity of so many.
The Petrie Family
About CCHS teachers' salaries
To the Editor:
A check of the Massachusetts Department of Education web site shows that CCHS salaries for FY02 average just below $56,000, about $10,000 less than a few years ago. This average is slightly higher than some benchmark towns, slightly lower than others. Concord-Carlisle teacher salaries are not highest, rather they are #20 in the state.
Carlisle salaries are #8. The Carlisle School and CCHS are among the very best schools in the state.
The Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee expected (during the last salary negotiation) that the high average salary for CCHS faculty would decline as senior staff reached retirement age. This is exactly what has happened, apparently. I was a member and participated in the negotiation.
CCHS faculty feels very strongly about the four class limit. It is not a matter of laziness, or even a pay issue. I know this because they were willing to compromise on other matters, but never on this. If it were a pay issue, they would simply demand 25% more pay for 25% more teaching hours. It is not; it is about the quality of teaching.
The faculty sincerely believes that the superb quality of education at CCHS is linked to the four-class limit. There is pretty good evidence that they are correct and I suggest their judgement should be respected.
CCHS teacher favors current four-course load
To the Editor:
As a special educator at Concord- Carlisle High School, I am lucky enough to work with the same students over their four years of high school and in turn am able to develop close, meaningful, and productive relationships with these children, their parents, and the many teachers and tutors who support them along the way. I can't imagine a career more rewarding than one which allows me to watch these students mature, develop new relationships, acquire knowledge, gain independence, and learn to advocate for themselves.
My job at CCHS has two parts: I am a classsroom teacher, as well as a case manager for students with a variety of learning, emotional, and attentional disabilities. As a teacher, I plan lessons, review student progress, and provide extra help on a daily basis; as a case manager, the majority of my time is spent communicating with regular education teachers in order to ensure that my students receive the accommodations and modifications they need to be successful.
I worked as a special educator in two other school systems before I came to CCHS three years ago. In both cases my job description was very similar, but neither system even came close to providing me with the amount of time I felt was necessary to be able to carry out my teaching and case management responsibilities to the best of my ability. Since I have been working here, the four-course teaching load has allowed me to do so. Students with learning differences require individualized instruction that capitalizes on strengths and recognizes as well as improves areas of need. I truly hope that a contract is negotiated that will continue to recognize and respect the fact that the faculty here at CCHS works extremely hard to ensure the academic success of all students, with or without disabilities.
Special education teacher,
Another's CCHS teacher's thoughts
To the Editor:
Concord is a great place both to live and work. Granted, Concordians may disagree on some issues, but we do share a common love of the town's natural beauty, history, institutions, and the many fine people who live and work here.
As a science teacher at Concord-Carlisle High School for more than ten years, I have been most impressed by the remarkable commitment to education shared by students, parents, and staff. Teachers set high expectations for their students as well as for themselves. Teachers in all disciplines work hard to help students learn in the classroom . . . and beyond. They spend countless hours developing challenging lessons and projects and assessments. Students become motivated to work hard; they spend hours participating in classes and doing work at home that demands reading, studying, writing, and developing individual and group projects. Parents support their children's learning and volunteer to foster it. As a result, CCHS is a dedicated and caring community of learners.
Among the conditions that help connect students to teachers, one that is central to learning at CCHS, is the four-class load for teachers. With four classes in science, for example, I have the time to prepare and conduct weekly laboratory investigations. The best way to learn science is to explore it hands-on; as students collect data and observe and analyze scientific principles and concepts firsthand, they become immersed in the scientific process.
The Faculty at Concord-Carlisle High School recently voted to table approval of two documents prepared by teachers for the upcoming accreditation process. In tabling the acceptance motion, their intent was certainly not to sabotage the accreditation process but to highlight concern that future working conditions are uncertain. Teachers continue this year to meet all their professional responsibilities, but they still have no contract; they want to ensure that what the report documents remains valid when the accreditation committee visits in March.
The Faculty hopes that a fair contract can be negotiated soon and that the High School community can continue its important and central mission. With continued support, our school will be able to prepare our students for bright futures.
Wright Road, Concord
Teachers need a fair contract
To the Editor:
Since I joined the faculty at CCHS as a rookie teacher, I have learned a tremendous amount from my colleagues. I have been grateful for more than a decade to have started a career in the caring and professional atmosphere at CCHS, an atmosphere directly attributable to its committed, intelligent, and supportive faculty. But now the school is facing more and more retirements from the profession; I am sorry and, yes, even fearful that when these senior teachers leave, so will much of their collective wisdom. The town must consider long-term reality: It is essential to the future of the High School that there be a fair contract that will attract and retain excellent teachers to replace those who have contributed so much in the past but who will retire over the next few years.
Cynthia Bent, CCHS teacher
Warner Street, Concord
CCHS faculty and accreditation
To the Editor:
It is important to clarify that the Concord-Carlisle Teachers' Association (CCTA) did not and is not blocking the accreditation process at Concord-Carlisle High School.
The entire faculty has worked extensively for over a full year and continues to develop, research, and gather materials for the successful accreditation of the school. Teachers are deeply invested in the accreditation process and earnestly and professionally execute their work to fulfill the requisites of accreditation. Because it is unclear whether or not the learning conditions for students will change, the faculty, not the union, at a faculty meeting, responsibly tabled the assessment of some of the learning conditions at the school. The fact is that if the contract changes, it will affect learning conditions at the High School.
Teachers are right to withhold their assessment at this time and, as Mr. Fitzgerald noted in his letter on October 16th to The Concord Journal, this action "will not negatively impact our students this year." What could negatively impact students, however, are unwarranted changes that affect the amount of time which teachers have to devote to working with students individually, preparing lessons, collaborating with other teachers, and contributing in countless ways to the excellent academic environment at CCHS.
Teachers understand that the Concord and Carlisle communities are feeling the stresses and anxieties that are a result of the state cuts in funding to schools and other town services; teachers are experiencing these stresses, too, in their own communities that include Concord and Carlisle.
Though this is a difficult time in many ways, it is important for community members to exercise patience and approach these issues in a calm and non-reactive way. As with many difficulties, they are temporary not eternal; being reactive does no one good. Instead of using divisive and antagonistic language by referring to teachers as "greedy" or "deadwood", using words like "negotiate" and "mediate" and "fairness" acknowledge and honor the current issues while not dishonoring each other.
CCHS English teacher and coach
Winslow Road, Belmont
To the Editor:
I came to CCHS last year from Acton-Boxborough. Over the past year, I have been asked about this choice many times. Many things are the same: my four-class load (as a chemistry teacher with double labs), hard-working students, involved parents, and a competitive salary to name a few. Some of the differences favor AB: including the health coverage and the condition of the physical plant.
The differences that favor CCHS are a little less obvious. Here at CCHS, I have found myself working with some of the most talented, passionate, hard-working and intellectual teachers. The four-class load allows for a common lunch period that guarantees collegiality, and allows for meaningful networking and a substantial teacher support system. The collaboration and teamwork that results from the four-class load are one of the best parts of teaching at CCHS.
Since returning to school without a contract the question of why I left Acton-Boxborough has become a little harder to answer. My former colleagues at AB are teaching in a new 50 million-dollar addition, in gorgeous labs, each with a school-supplied laptop and an In-focus projector. In addition, there is a full time lab assistant who handles most of the chemical preparation, disposal and ordering.
As we begin our search for science teachers to replace three retiring teachers, I am genuinely worried about our ability to compete with schools like AB. I still say CCHS is a fantastic school with an excellent faculty, a top-notch administration and a terrific student population. However, without a contract, more budget cuts looming, and with no building project in sight, I worry about our ability to compete for eminently qualified science teachers with surrounding schools like AB, LS and Lexington (all with new or renovated labs and a 3 or 4 class teaching load).
Concord and Carlisle need a teacher contract, not just for this current school year, but also as a commitment to maintaining the level of professional excellence for years to come.
CCHS Science Dept
To the Editor:
After I finished the October 17, 2003 edition of this newspaper, I was compelled to write to express my displeasure. Having read "ConsCom gets tough on buffer zones," I was annoyed by the obvious bias in the summaries of the various reviews of problems. To explain in the town newspaper that Mr. Baliestero responded "rather hotly," and mumbled" has nothing to do with the problem at hand. What it does do is give a one-sided account of the goings on at the meeting and paint a negative picture of Mr. Baliestero. I was also struck by the opening sentence of the next piece of the article in which the board is said to "welcome" a couple with a request and describes the meeting as starting out on "a more friendly note." While a transcript of the meeting may be appropriate to publish, editorial adjectives are inappropriate, unprofessional and unnecessary. As a friend of the Baliestero family, I find that this article unfairly represents Mr. Baliestero, whom I know to be a very helpful and nice person and whom I hold in high esteem. In my opinion, the way members of the board or reporters may feel about certain individuals should not be reflected in the writing of an article meant to be a summary of what went on. All that needs to be said in matters such as these are why the individual is appearing before the board and the result of the meeting.
In short, I wish that the Carlisle Mosquito would hold a more balanced and fair viewpoint in its publications and refrain from editorializing news articles. Such writing only alienates people, which I'm sure is not the goal of this newspaper.
Marks' response on foxhunting
To the Editor:
First our dogs were viciously attacked in the park, then we are attacked in the Mosquito. Our Leonberger suffered bites and abrasions and required treatment, pain medication and antibiotics after the attack. Our puppy was bitten over his entire body. The foxhounds tried to remove his intestines. He required 4 hours of surgery and survived only because he had a little extra fat. It took over 3 weeks for his external wounds to close. My children were horrified and traumatized by the attack. My seven-year-old refuses to walk in Great Brook for fear of encountering fox hounds. We spent several weeks making trips to the vet and taking care of our dog's and children's internal and external pain. We have close to $1,000 dollars in vet bills, (Carlisle Animal Hospital generously donated some services or this would have been higher). To our horror, we found out that a similar, severe attack on a dog occurred just a few years ago at the park. We have had dogs our entire lives and have never seen such a vicious attack. A pack of hunting dogs racing through a park on the hunt has no place in a park open to families and peaceful dog walkers. The hunters were way behind their dogs when the attacks occurred. Imagine if a toddler had been wandering through the park when this happened.
The park has too many trails entering from different neighborhoods to effectively seal it off for this kind of activity. We are currently seeking an injunction to stop this craziness before someone else is hurt.
Cathy and Randy Marks
Cutters Ridge Road
Another view on foxhunting
To the Editor:
I have had the pleasure over the past six years of leading the local chapter of the United States Pony Club and from that perspective, have watched several hundred children as they've learned the lessons of skill, discipline and responsibility that are inherent in caring for and riding horses.
"Foxhunting" has been an important component of many of our club members' equestrian experience. I've put the word in quotes because, as most probably know, today our local sport does not involve either foxes or hunting. Today, the sport involves a well-trained group of hounds testing their noses against a trail of licorice-scented oil hidden in the woods several hours earlier by a human "fox." Following the hounds, so they can watch their skill and appreciate their stirring athleticism, are equally incredible athletes, fit horses ridden by skilled riders.
Being able to ride behind the hounds requires significant competency from both the horse and rider the ability to gallop safely, jump rock walls, stop when the hunt's leader instructs all to "hold hard." Obtaining this level of equine proficiency has been a goal for many of our Pony Club members over the years.
As our young members have reached this level of skill, the adult members of Old North Bridge Hounds have welcomed them into the hunt with great warmth and courtesy. And, in addition to riding, the children have learned other lessons, as well. The hunt gives young people wonderful experiences in etiquette and responsibility.
I'm delighted that my own children and all the members of Old North Bridge Pony Club have the opportunity to participate in the wonderful rural tradition of "foxhunting." I encourage us to find ways to share Great Brook Farm State Park that will allow this sport to occur there several times each year. And I strongly hope that many members of the Carlisle community will come out when it does to watch one of the last vestiges of a grand rural tradition.
Tamara J. Erickson
Old North Bridge Pony Club
Black Brook Farm, Lowell Road
© 2003 The