Friday, May 12, 2006
Give fresh ideas a chance
To the Editor:
I am writing to encourage all who support the expertise brought to the Carlisle Schools by Superintendent Marie Doyle to attend School Committee meetings held on the first and third Wednesday of every month. (The next one is on May 17 at 7 p.m. in the Carlisle School Library.)
As a parent of two children educated in Carlisle, a resident for 12 years, and an educator, I am hugely impressed and inspired by the initiatives Marie has brought to our school. In just two years, her leadership has realized the desperately-needed restructuring of the middle school to accommodate the bubbles of larger classes, the long time district goal of integrating world language into the curriculum, and the process of developing benchmarks and assessments at grade level, the latter of which most districts accomplished nearly ten years ago with the advent of school reform and educational frameworks
Unfortunately, it seems we usually only speak up when something is of concern to us, as I observed at the School Committee meeting last week. While I understand that the concerns shared by some parents and teachers are real for those who have them, I am troubled that Marie and the School Committee will think this is representative of the entire community, when I know otherwise. We are a public school and all voices should be heard and considered.
I believe Marie Doyle is a consummate professional who is deserving of our respect and appreciation. The high level of emotion and reactionary nature of criticism that I heard at the last meeting is unfair and counterproductive to making our school an excellent place for learning. While change is often difficult, I believe it critical to give new proposals and those who initiate them an objective chance to succeed. Otherwise, I fear, we will collectively miss out on fresh ideas and the expertise new leadership has to offer.
I believe we teach our children to handle change constructively; I'd like to think we could do the same.
Spencer Brook Lane
How CEF supports teachers' professional development
To the Editor:
As four more Carlisle teachers have returned from an unforgettable trip to China, I would like to share the Carlisle Education Foundation's (CEF's) philosophy on funding professional development for our teachers.
Carlisle has a small but excellent school system in part because the school encourages teachers to seek growth opportunities. CEF believes it is important to support that mission. Teachers are energized through outside sources such as Primary Source (www.primarysource.org), conferences like the one on Literature Circles as well as trips such as the China trip. To date, 25 courses have been taken by teachers at Primary Source and they return with high praise of the curriculum and the interest from teachers to attend more courses continues to grow. All eight teachers who have gone to China have said the experience was life changing and brought new perspectives and course content back to their students.
Giving teachers the opportunity to network with other colleagues and to be exposed to new ideas and practices helps their morale, keeps these dedicated teachers in our school system and allows them to maintain high standards of excellence. For example, the teachers who attended the Literature Circles conference returned to teach a Carlisle College course to 14 other teachers and now the material has been integrated into the repertoire of teachers in grades two through eight.
Some parents are concerned that these activities are taking too much time from teachers' class time. However, teachers must be recertified every five years in Massachusetts and are required to take a certain number of professional development hours. The professional development funded by CEF occurs during teacher-contract-mandated professional development time as well as on the teachers' personal time — weekends, vacations and holidays. But the teachers are still overwhelmingly enthusiastic. One teacher described his experience at the Literature Circles conference as "learning, growing and getting better at teaching the children."
CEF wishes to thank all of our generous donors for enabling our Foundation to work with the administration and staff to support professional development for our Carlisle Public Schools.
Laura Snowdon, President,
Carlisle Education Foundation
Bellows Hill Road
Are lilacs blooming sooner?
To the Editor:
Today (May 6) I saw lilacs starting to bloom in Carlisle. When I first came to the Boston area 35 years ago, the conventional wisdom was that gardeners should wait till Memorial Day to be sure there would be no more frost. Another, more geographically specific theory held that when lilacs bloomed in an area it was safe to plant there. Back then they were arguing about a week, two at the most. Now it's three-and-a-half weeks?
But of course I know that global warming is a pernicious myth peddled by tree-hugging, spotted-owl-loving, Big Carbon-hating radical environmentalists. Why? Because my President says so, that's why!
Is Town Meeting still viable?
To the Editor:
After attending Town Meeting last week, I began to wonder whether this form of government has outlived its usefulness. A $20+ million budget was presented as were several override Warrants, all of which were recommended by the Selectmen, FinCom, and Long Range Capital Planning Committees, with the prevailing attitude that a 2-1/2% increase is the minimum increase rather than the maximum reasonable increase envisioned when Prop. 2-1/2 was created. The budget was presented in such a way that no one could understand how much of an increase each of the town departments requested as debt service and insurance and benefits were excluded from each department. One had to read the Mosquito to understand that the Carlisle Public School override equated to 5.8% and the CCHS override equated to 6.9%. Hardly "cost of living" increases. Other issues passed dealing with affordable housing, new equipment for the Fire Department, and easing restrictions on cell towers. Every Warrant Article passed with barely a whimper from the citizenry. In addition to tax increases for operating budget overrides, capital spending will add over $2.5 million in new debt, without any new building projects, and the interest we will be paying on our total borrowings will be over $1.4 million annually. Those few people who dared to raise issues were told, "You should have attended this or that hearingthis is not the venue for such questions." In other words; "Sit down and shut up!" My taxes have increased 16% in the past five years and 33% in the past ten. Sadly, many of our senior citizen friends have left Carlisle for lower cost areas in New Hampshire and Maine. By the time you read this, the vote on this increased spending will have been completed. It will be interesting to see whether the silence that prevailed at a well-orchestrated Town Meeting has translated into apathy at the polls.
Kerry W. Kissinger
Elizabeth Ridge Road
Thanks to all who helped with the Senior Band trip
To the Editor:
Our sixth grader, Peter, got off the bus on Sunday evening with the rest of Carlisle's Senior Band a little tired, a little dirty but absolutely thrilled with the events of the past four days. Over 70 students under the leadership of Tom O'Halloran and 14 wonderful parents acting as chaperones, traveled to Pennsylvania where they participated in a music festival (winning an award for best all-around band!), to Gettysburg Battlefield, toured an Amish farmhouse, took in a baseball game and enjoyed the rides at Hershey Park. It's hard to imagine the job of the volunteers who agreed to chaperone and direct all those students!
Peter had a great time being with his friends, participating in all the fun activities but more than anything, enjoying the freedom and independence away from family and all that is familiar to him. He was very proud of the fact that the band had earned much of the money needed for the trip from the Citrus Sale proceeds.
We would like to thank Tom O'Halloran, Stephanie Smith, Paula von Kleydorff and Liz Spatola for organizing this incredible event for the band. It is a trip Peter will always remember and one which would not have been possible without the time, energy and dedication of the parents who, working with Tom O'Halloran, made it all possible. We would also like to express our incredible gratitude to all the other parents who took time out of their busy weeks to accompany the band as chaperones. You gave our children an incredible gift and we thank you!
Dale and Don Ryder
© 2006 The