Saturday, May 27, 2017

Please post on MH Blog

Amanda Frank

The following fact sheets help provide accurate information on both Black River and Mill River. All sources of information are provided on the individual sheets.

Fact Sheet #1 - Black River & Mill River Athletic Information

Fact Sheet #2 - Ludlow & Mount Holly Tax Projections

Fact Sheet #3 - Transportation Times & Distances

Fact Sheet #4 - Middle School Math & English Proficiency*

Fact Sheet #5 - High School Math & English Proficiency*

*As a teacher, I am well aware of the issues surrounding standardized tests like the SBACs. Despite those issues and my own personal opinion, I've included fact sheets showing SBAC scores because they are--whether we like it or not--one data piece used by our government and school administration to assess schools.
Additionally, people have asked to have the "poverty rate" posted with the Mill River & Black River SBAC scores in order to explain the discrepancy between scores. Living in poverty can significantly impact a student's ability to learn, especially if the poverty is chronic and causes the student to live with toxic stress that alters brain structure & function. However, it is not okay to use poverty as an excuse for low academic achievement. When we write off low academic achievement as a result of high poverty rates, we do those students living in poverty a huge disservice; we're fundamentally saying, "Oh, you're poor, we can't expect any more of you." As educators will tell you, low expectations lead to low results. That's not to say that the answer to low test scores & subpar academic achievement in schools with high poverty rates is simply to increase expectations. Doing that, with nothing else, would likely result in even lower results. Instead, educational institutions need to implement system-wide approaches, from specific instructional strategies to use of common language & lesson structure to brain-based & emotional learning practices, that have been shown to improve educational outcomes for all students, including those living in poverty. Schools need to effectuate systemic change that successfully addresses the challenges of educating students from all social & economic backgrounds.
Yes, the percentage of students eligible for free & reduced lunch (the measure of socioeconomic status most frequently used by schools) differs between the two schools with Black River at approximately 50% and Mill River at 35%. However, poverty is not an acceptable explanation for low academic achievement.
Finally, if Ludlow and Mount Holly do not merge with Mill River, projections by both TRSU and MRUUSD business offices show that our taxes will continue to rise at a substantial rate. Merging is projected to keep our taxes at a much more sustainable level. (Some have claimed the tax projections are trumped up, but have not offered any explanation as to how they know this. It seems strange that TRSU would trump up such high tax rates.) How would increasing taxes help the economically disadvantaged students & families in our communities?

Amanda Frank

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