ELA Fail….

I was browsing the individiual elementary school webpages trying to get a better feel for the schools, and I noticed that one of them has a newspaper, wirtten by the students. My first though was that this was a lovely idea, what a great way to encourage literacy skills. Then I started to read more about it including the little biographies written by the “cub” reporters. The first thing that struck me was the awful grammar such as “I talk Spanish and English” (this occured more than once), surely before publishing this a teacher should have sat down and worked with the children to make sure that their English was actually correct.

This letter which is posted on the Salem Public Schools web page has been bothering me for many months. It is littered with very basic grammatical errors, and to be honest is just very badly written. My question is this, how can we expect our students to excell English when our school superintendent obviously does not? I have bolded the grammatical errors that I noticed plus a couple of just horrifically written sentences.

A reason to believe ..,,

 Why should you send your child or children to Salem Public Schools?

 During the past several weeks, I have been asked this question by our City Councilor’s during their review of the FY 14 budget and again by a parent concerned over what kind of a future their child would have if she attends Collins Middle School. My response, “let me tell you the Salem story.”

 I tell them about …

 The diverse and dynamic nature of this city. I tell them about the 39 different languages spoken in our schools. I tell them about the Mayor and Council’s leadership, the new courthouse, the planned T-station, the arrival of Footprint Power, plans for a deep water port, Salem Prides’ downtown beautification efforts, the city’s rich history, our National Park, the Ferry to Boston, the 20 year involvement of the READ Trust in promoting science education in our schools, the Salem Rotary Clubs’ scholarship and literacy support and I tell them about the many other wonderful attributes that Salem offers.

 I tell them a out the partnerships that we’ve established with Cyberspace, the Business Partners Group, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Salem Education Foundation,and Salem State University, to name a few.

 I tell them about the coordinated efforts underway to support students through the Latino Outreach Initiative, the work of the YMCA, the Girls & Boys Club, the House of Seven Gables, the Parks and Recreation Department’s Programs and youth & athletic activities.

 I tell them about Salems’ natural beauty, our neighborhood parks, the Commons, the Willows, the Point Neighborhood’s murals and the many opportunities to engage in a wide variety of activities available in the city and throughout Essex County.

 I tell them about what a great place this is to live and bring up children.

 And I ask them…,

 How many city’s do you know of that set a full day aside to celebrate a “Hats off to Education” day involving over 100 venues located throughout the city ? How many citys’ have recently hosted Governor Patrick in a visit to the Carlton School Innovation Program, the Early Childhood Education Center, the celebration of Bullying Prevention with students at our middle school or participated in a high school town meeting? How many school systems have had the new MA Secretary of Education Matt Malone visit the Bowditch and Bentley Schools during his first several months on the job or high schools play host to State Treasurer Steven Grossman in awarding one of only eleven statewide Financial Literacy Grants to Salem High School’s staff and students?

 I ask them how many school systems offer school choice from among their elementary and middle schools? How many have comprehensive high schools engaged in expanding their vocational programs to include “Green” facilities management, medical assistant and early childhood training planned to compliment their existing automotive and culinary arts programs? I ask them how many school committee’s partner with the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in committing to participate in an accelerated improvement process to improve their schools or successfully obtain $1.5 million dollars in 3 school redesign grants? How many school systems support an independent Horace Mann Charter School, the successful Bridge Program or Salem Prep alternative high school for non-traditional (and successful) learners?

 And I tell them about our future …,

 I tell them about our application to the national Center for Time & Learning grant proposal designed to proactively tackling the challenges of increased learning time. I tell them about the implementation of a grade 2-8 system of regular assessments designed to improve instruction with plans to extend it to grades 10-12 during the upcoming school year. I tell them about the efforts underway to pilot a summer program designed to address student’s summer learning loss and I tell them about our plans to assess the grade configuration of our schools as a means of making the best use of available tax dollars and program consistency. I tell them about the work still to be done in raising the academic bar, in helping all of our students to experience success and I tell them about the commitment that we all share in helping them get there.

 I tell them the Salem story


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