The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 12, 2009

Troubled by teacher marks

To the Editor:

I found the June 5 article, “Teacher marks dip on Carlisle’s NCLB report card,” unsettling for a variety of reasons. Let me say at the outset that worry about the true competence of our teachers in the Carlisle School does not make the list. Rather, I believe that the DOE’s definition of a “highly qualified teacher” is based on a standard that screens out some gifted, hardworking and effective teachers, while embracing other teachers who may be less able and willing to educate and inspire their students.

Several years ago, the Concord -Carlisle High School Orchestra was briefly led by an amazing director who, from his very first concert with the students, produced music of breathtaking excitement and musicality. The materials he chose were colorful, varied, and demanding, and the students rose to the challenge eagerly. Though his native language was Russian, the results this teacher achieved left no doubt that he was communicating with his students effectively. Yet CCHS had to let him go, because he was unable to pass the teacher certification test in English. To say that his immediate replacement could not match his competence and ability to motivate would be an understatement, though she was fully certified. Fortunately she, too, was soon replaced.

William Butler Yeats is famously quoted as saying that “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”. Standardized testing, whether of students or of teachers, emphasizes the filled pail. I feel its advantage as an easy way to evaluate masses of people is far outweighed by its many disadvantages. It is particularly unfair to those teachers whose native language is very different from our own. It is our loss if we are forced to accept mediocrity when we have brilliant and inspiring teachers being cast out by an inflexible “one size fits all” standard.

Margaret Darling

West Street

Empathy needed

To the Editor:

In regards to Ms. Pauplis’ letter last week (Don’t Penalize Regular Education), how sad that the only solution she proposes to such a complex issue is to remove funds from the most vulnerable segment of our population.

Special education funding is a complex issue and cannot be adequately addressed in this short letter. Suffice it to say that schools cannot simply move funds from special education to general education, even if they were so inclined.

Ms. Pauplis questions why there are not reductions to out-of-district placements. When a school makes the decision to educate a child outside of the district, it is because the district cannot accommodate that child’s needs. If that child were to return to the district simply because of budget reductions, Ms. Pauplis would probably then complain that the child was taking up too much of the teacher’s time or the child’s behavior was distracting the class.

Contrary to popular belief, children with special needs do not have their education handed to them on a silver platter. Most parents have to fight to get their children what they need to learn. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that schools are not required to provide the best possible education to special needs children. Parents of special needs children do not have the luxury of worrying about their child being shut out of an AP class. They are too busy worrying that their child will never learn to read or be able to live independently.

Neither parents nor children ask to be members of the “special needs club”. Does membership have its privileges? Absolutely: joy and love from our children. These “privileges” do not include a first-class education that Ms. Pauplis claims are draining resources from general education students.

So, when Ms. Pauplis and others like her blame special needs children for taking resources from their children, I “beseech” them to show compassion and empathy. Rather than point a finger at an already isolated, vulnerable population, suggest a viable alternative. This “special needs club” grows larger every day. You never know if someone you love will gain membership.

Lori Tucker, Co-Chair Carlisle SEPAC

East Riding Drive

Thanks to the Concord Carlisle Community Chest

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Carlisle Kids’ House family, I would like to thank the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest for their continued generous support of our programs. On June 11, 2009 we accepted our sixth consecutive grant from the Chest to aid us in our ability to offer families financial assistance. In this economy, where our requests for financial assistance have far outweighed the monies available, we are grateful to again be able to provide financial assistance to our members. The children, families of Carlisle Kids’ House, and Carlisle community are lucky to have a strong and supportive organization in town that is committed to meeting the needs of as many members of the community as possible.

Karen Tang, Director of School-Age Programs, Carlisle Kids’ House

Union Hall Coffeehouse says thanks

To the Editor:

As the curtain closed last night, on yet another smashing coffeehouse season, I began to reflect on how it all came to be. With my feet planted squarely on the earth, my head in the clouds, as usual, and the tremendous support of the First Religious Society, I ran with my dream of bringing together this small, fairly isolated community through the power of music. And, what a powerful presence it has turned out to be.

For those of you out there who have been part of this since the beginning, two years ago, and for those of you who have yet to discover this vibrant venue, right here in the center of town, where some of the world’s finest talent can be seen live on our very stage, for just a pittance of what it would cost in Boston, or elsewhere, don’t be shy. Many coffeehouses are run in church halls and basements all across this wonderful country, and they are all secular. Because it’s really all about the music, isn’t it? One’s particular faith never enters into it.

There may be little more to say, but there’s never a shortage of ways to say it, and that’s what music is all about. As the music soars throughout Union Hall, and I see the smiling faces in the audience, mouthing the words to familiar songs, there is a pervading sense of great happiness that I can feel in myself and see in others. It is inside us, in our minds and in our hearts.

Please stop by our booth at Old Home Day, and pick up a complete program of what we are offering for our 2009 - 2010 concert series season. So, toss aside your Blackberries and TVs for a couple of hours, and come out and get a little taste of reality. After all, reality is what you make believe of it. See you in September!

Dian Francesca Cuccinello, Producer

Union Hall Coffeehouse

The ins and outs of turtle crossing

To the Editor:

This is the time of year female turtles are on the move in search of nest sites. They prefer nesting in sandy soils with lots of sun exposure, usually near the wetlands where they spend most of their lives. Unfortunately for turtles, residential development and roads have reduced and fragmented their habitats, and many turtles are killed by vehicles. You can help turtles by slowing down in areas where turtles cross roads, usually near marshes and stream crossings.

If you see a turtle crossing the road, and it is safe to pull off the side of the road, move the turtle off the road, but keep it pointed in the same direction it was originally headed. Do not take the turtle home or to a different location for release. For more information, see “Turtle Information and Conservation Tips” on the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) website,

Most turtles you will see in Carlisle are Painted, Snapping, and Musk turtles, but rare species such as Blanding’s, Eastern Box, and Wood turtle have been reported. These species, and also Spotted turtle, should be reported to NHESP, using forms available on the NHESP website. Rare species should also be reported to Sylvia Willard, Conservation Commission Administrator. Photographs of native Massachusetts turtles can be found at

We have put turtle crossing signs at several locations in Carlisle where turtles are known to cross roads: Brook Street at Pages Brook, Maple Street at Pages Brook, School Street at Spencer Brook, and Church Street near Spalding Field. Concerned residents have also put up signs at other locations; see the June 5 Biodiversity Corner column by Claire Brandhorst. Our sign has a turtle-like illustration with “X-ing” below. If you want one for use on your property, contact D’Ann Brownrigg, at 1-978-369-5609 or She will be happy to send you the design in electronic format.

D’Ann & Tom Brownrigg

Leslie Thomas

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito