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POLL: Is Saltonstall Beneficial or Detrimental to the District?

What are your thoughts on the Saltonstall debate? Let us know in the comments.

Saltonstall's extended day and year programming will continue next year,

It was not, however, without a debate, which the mayor described as divisive.

Some contend that the extended programming is costly. Others said the extended calendar gives Saltonstall an unfair advantage, especially during a time when some schools have been designated as at risk of slipping to or already at Level 4 status.

Supporters of Saltonstall's extended programming contend that the schol is succeeding and should be used as a model for the rest of the district.

We want to know where you stand on this debate. Take our poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

john May 23, 2012 at 04:03 PM
All of these concerns about our schools and what was the first thing they decicded to consider? Uniforms,what does that tell you?
Erica May 23, 2012 at 05:04 PM
No brainer. The rest of the district should be working to raise themselves to the bar being set by Saltonstall. Not vice-versa
ds May 23, 2012 at 05:24 PM
The Salts is successful because of so much more than extended day/extended year. I mean we are really fighting over 10 days!! What about their educational philosophy, dedicated parents and teachers, multi-age classrooms, etc. Trust me, you could take away the 10 days and the school would still out-perform the others. Then what would people have to say? This is just an excuse by the school board to side track us from the real issues. If the Salts and Charter school are working why don't we incorporate all the other things they do that don't cost money and see what happens. I bet there would be an increase in scores all around. But lets just focus on the $100,000 so that we don't have to do all the other REAL work that is involved in turning the schools around.
KlassySalem May 23, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Amen John!
DBL May 23, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I am so tired of the party line of Salts working because of "dedicated parents". There are lots of dedicated parents in the other schools too. Your kids got into Saltonstall by "luck of the draw" and because other kids didn't they shouldn't suffer with a sub par education. If you can't offer it to all then it should be offered to none. They should be meeting the demand for those programs not setting up the "haves" and "have nots".
KlassySalem May 23, 2012 at 07:48 PM
So, let's say that Salts is changed. How does that help help students in other schools?
ds May 23, 2012 at 07:57 PM
My kid actually got into Salts because I live in the district. I have said before that my child would thrive in any school in Salem because I am dedicated and I believe that learning begins at home. If one program is working then we should take that example and extend it throughout the city instead of cutting it. And as I said it is not the 10 extra days at Salts that makes the program successful, it is the curriculum, the dedicated parents/teachers, multi-age classrooms, etc. I am sick of angry parents fighting over minute issues when the real issue at the table is hard work that is needed to turn these schools around, not money! Oh and by the way, I have a daughter at SHS that is at the top of her class and that is a level 3 school. It's all in how you view learning. It is not just the teacher's issue but your issue.
windpower May 23, 2012 at 08:29 PM
The real question is ,are all public schools equal ? Equal in time ,funding ,and parental involvement . Just one more question . Have any of the above poster spent a day at any of the schools ? Try spending some time as a sub . Your eyes will be wide open ,and a tear will show .
DBL May 23, 2012 at 08:32 PM
The effectiveness of the Saltonstall model does not translate to test scores significantly above other schools and in fact are in line with district scores in several areas in different grade levels. I would think instead of digging heels in and resisting any change those "dedicated" parents would be open to exploring ALL options.......
ds May 23, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Salts is not one of the schools in trouble right now, it is other schools. Why take something away if it is working. There is a 5 million dollar budget! By taking $100,000 out of Salts how will that solve the problems of the other schools? And the budget per pupil at Salts is actually lower than other schools in Salem. No one is bringing up the real issues because no one wants to do the tough work that would be involved to turn the schools around. This would mean educating teachers and parents about what really works, but people do not want to put in the effort. Get to the route of the problem and stop taking it out on Salts. And trust me, you do not see a school with more dedicated parents and I am proud of that!
DBL May 23, 2012 at 10:51 PM
And that elitist attitude is what pits Saltonstall against everyone else. There are dedicated parents in all schools dealing with the REAL issues. Saltonstall is in its nice little bubble. Put the same socioeconomic mix into Salts and let's see how successful the program is then.
Cindy Johnson May 23, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Luck of the draw? My kid goes to Salts because I waited on the wait list almost two years. I don't live in the neighborhood and my family didn't fall into the preferences for balancing the school (though the administration wasn't enforcing them and those getting preferences clearly weren't applying to the program). Am I a resource to the school now? Heck yeah. I volunteer two days a week by offering Friday Clubs and providing in-classroom support as an unpaid volunteer. I'm also there whenever anyone asks for help or resources. I'd say I'm pretty dedicated and I know many more proud parents just like myself.
ds May 23, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Hmmm, being enthusiastic about my child's school is hardly having an elitist attitude. I happen to live in the Salts district and that is why I choose the school. If you are that concerned, come and move into our neighborhood, or is it too close to the point for you? Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. You are just another angry parent that is mad their kid did not get into the school that they wanted. This is where change must happen, if you don't like something in your district then go to your elected official. We all have choices. Just like I am not too happy with the high school so I am now working extra and sending my oldest to private school. You are angry with the condition of your child's school so you are now taking it out on the school you wished your child was in. Makes sense.
DBL May 23, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I'm not angry. I believe in equal opportunities for all of the kids in Salem not just my own and the opinion that the parents in Salts are better than everyone else is the root of the problem. Unfortunately I cannot continue to engage with someone who does not have the courage to put their real name behind their comments.
Josh Turiel May 23, 2012 at 11:23 PM
My kid got into Saltonstall because we live two blocks away and we got our forms filled out and submitted on Day 1. Horace Mann was our second choice, and Bowditch our third. And yes, parents are one of the reasons Saltonstall works well. They have a very active and committed parent base (my wife is on the PTO and very active - I see this first-hand). Fundraising events are always well-attended. Parents are at the school helping in classrooms, running Friday Clubs (it's the 2-hour Friday morning activity they do by interests), and chaperoning outings. The 10 extra days actually lets them go to school for an additional month - while other kids are out playing or going to summer camp, our kid is still in school, doing his homework, and working on year-end projects. I'd be lying if I tried to tell you there aren't times where it'd be a lot easier to me if we had a 180-day calendar. But the extended year shows clear benefits to me at the beginning of each school year when the kids all pretty much pick right up where they left off and don't miss a beat. I'd be happiest if every school in Salem had a 190-day year, but unless parents have the will for that to happen there's no chance. On the other hand, think of the cost. We spend $100k for the extended year (extended day brings another $200k). What if another $1m would get us extended year in all of Salem? Would you spend it? Don't you want that for your kids, too?
ds May 23, 2012 at 11:37 PM
You most certainly are angry. As I said, it is up to you to get want you want for your school. You should be arguing with your officials, not me. I never once said that I was better than anyone. I actually said that my child would thrive in any of the Salem schools, Salts just happen to be the most convenient for our family. I registered on this site like a year ago and had no clue my name would show up as this. My full name is posted at the Salem Evening News comments. My name is Deborah Suleyman. And I am sure your last name is Lee??? I also believe in equal opportunity for all the children in Salem but would not take away from any program that is currently working but would want to emulate that program in my school. You pay taxes as well as I do and you are getting angry at the wrong people. Maybe if you put this much effort into contacting your officials you might make some progress.
DBL May 23, 2012 at 11:49 PM
I am entitled to my opinion that the Salts type program should be offered to all. My children are doing great in school. They will continue to be successful no matter where they are. That doesn't mean we should be willing to stay with the status quo if things are not equal, proven to be effective etc. As I said before comparing Salts to other schools is comparing apples to oranges. Your program should be open to debate, scrutiny and change just as any other in the city. If it is proven to be a program that produces superior results than so be it, but I have not seen the concrete proof thus far. In fact we did not choose Salts and I am glad we didn't. I am not so lost in my own world that I don't see the impact the system and its policies has on all the children.
ds May 24, 2012 at 12:04 AM
You most certainly are entitled to your opinion but you have no right to be angry or throw generalizations about Salts parents. In my post parent dedication was just one of the reasons listed as to why the program works. I also listed many others, none of which you choose to comment on probably because you do know really know the Salts program. I am really glad that you didn't choose Salts too. And trust me, I am not lost in my own world, I just want to get to the root of the problem, and it is not the Salts school or their parents.
DBL May 24, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Again your opinion. And yes I am very versed on the Salts program. I don't believe you have proved that your school produces superior results. If mediocrity and resistance to change is where its at then by all means keep advocating for your program to stay the same....Evidence based practice is where it needs to be. Show some statistically significant results not anectdotal results and perhaps more people will stand behind you.
Elizabeth Mizioch-Crawford May 24, 2012 at 12:32 AM
The comments I have read both hear and in the Salem News seem to be on the side of a model similiar to Salts. I think many agree that pitting schools against one another is not the answer and neither are personal attacks. I would hope that as adults the issue could be to share what parents think is beneficial and find a way to ensure that all children get those benefits. I think the resistence to change is because it works. I dont have stats but can taking away classtime be of any benefit? I stand behind any parent that wants the best for their child but feel we need to set examples of behavior. Choosing to attack a parent group is not productive. Look to your elected officials and fellow parents to make the changes needed within your school if you are unhappy.
john May 24, 2012 at 12:35 AM
It seems one of the big problems is the first come first serve factor. Maybe all taxpayers should have the right to equal education.We all pay the same but only some get what they want. Its an unfair way of providing public education.
Cindy Johnson May 24, 2012 at 01:08 AM
The debate that’s happening right now rests squarely on the shoulders of Walsh and Crane who made this about “equality” and pitted parents against one another to fuel their own agenda (which existed before Bentley's Level 4 status). Instead, we need to work together to solve this problem. Walsh and Crane can’t even manage to collaborate with fellow members of the school committee. Demand more from your school committee members.
Catb May 24, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I agree the Salts type program should be offered to all but I don't understand how cutting this program accomplishes this goal?? Shouldn't we be working together and holding our elected officials accountable to improveall schools. If the Salts program works then lets find a way to offer or emulate it throughout Salem if that's what other school populations desire. Yes we need to focus on improving test scores across the district because that is what the state requires but test scores alone do not make a great school. Every school has been tasked with writing a school improvement plan; lets make sure these plans take our schools where we want them to go and that we get full support from the school committee. One more comment, I'm sure there are plenty of ways that the school system could find to be more efficient that would save far more than the '$100,00' that would supposedly be saved by cutting the Saltonstall extended year. Instead of arguing amongst ourselves we should be working together for the benefit of all of our children.
Ed Payne May 24, 2012 at 02:01 AM
As a parent of a kid in Salts Kindergarten, I get to see Bently every day. Since the Salts K classes are held there, I can attest that the kids would benefit from a longer school day. Salts is a more successful model than Bently - (if test scores are the measurement). So I don't understand how shifting a more successful school in the direction of a school that does not work is going to help either. Wouldn't it make more sense to stop doing what has not worked in the past and model something that has? Also, perhaps if other schools mirrored the Salts model maybe there would not be a waiting list at Salts? Is there a waiting list for other schools?
ds May 24, 2012 at 09:42 AM
Cindy, I could not agree more! Everyone remember this when it comes time for elections. We need a school committee that will listen to the community. Right now the community is asking for there to be a program that emulates Salts in their school! There is 5 million dollars! There are many parents that would be willing to donate to have this in their schools. Walsh and Crane are pitting parents against one another and this needs to be stopped!
KlassySalem May 24, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Now I'm really confused. You've said that it hasn't been proven to work, but you want it offered to all? How does that make any sense at all? I'd like to point out that we're all falling into exactly the trap that the school committee has hoped for. They are tossing the shiny bauble at us, distracting us from the fact that our schools have fallen off the table due to their lack of oversight. The DESE has faulted us for an insane lack of oversight and central administration, just a few months after they heaped praise on the outgoing superintendent. Yet we're not talking about that. First we were talking about distraction #1, school uniforms, and now, shiny bauble #2, to distract us from our huge systemic problems. Bravo, school committee!
KlassySalem May 24, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Under the new school assignment plan, 55ish % of the seats at Saltonstall will go to parents who don't even pay for lunch, nevermind taxes.
Cindy Johnson May 24, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Klassy, I had the same thoughts, but you framed them much better. Tell someone they aren't getting something that others are. Search for flaws as to why it doesn't work. Then, argue about why you aren't getting the thing that you want that you say doesn't work. It makes no sense.
Rick Johnson May 24, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Well put, Klassy. Drs. Walsh and Crane instigated this debate (via an unexpected amendment) (1) to take some unknown amount of funding from Saltonstall for some unidentified purpose, (2) out of a legitimate sense of "fairness" without regard to whether it would inflame and polarize the community, or (3) to claim the moral high ground and repair their political reputations. Call me cynical, but I suspect they are motivated by #3. During times of trouble, dividing the community is not good leadership, but it sometimes can be good politics. I hope it doesn’t work.
ds May 24, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Well said KlassSalem!

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