Governor Chris Christie’s Speech On The Fairness Formula As Prepared For Delivery
Hillsborough, New Jersey
June 21, 2016
I would like to thank Governor Christie for his recent recognition of our District’s achievement in surpassing the State’s graduation requirement during his school funding speech. A compliment from the Governor is truly an honor, and our community appreciates it. With flat funding for the six years I have served as the District’s superintendent, we have made difficult decisions in every budget season. We have cut, on average, three million dollars annually. Each year, our class sizes increase, we are forced to cut programs and we must find creative ways to do more with less. Many of our students come to us burdened with the problems that living in poverty engenders. Unsafe neighborhoods, unpredictable homes, hunger, physical and mental health issues are obstacles to their learning. Their parents are consumed with the challenge of survival and struggle just to provide them with the basic necessities. There may not be time or energy for read-alouds and homework help. Our schools have become safe havens for our families. We have adopted the vision to be “World Class” and our staff accepts nothing short of that for our students. Their efforts are paying off with higher graduation rates and other positive outcomes. Some results are not apparent if you only look at the data - the smiling faces of our students, a hug given in appreciation for the teacher who went above and beyond for a child, the bonds that develop between staff and families. We are not a rich community, but we are a proud community. Governor, before you make any decision to further reduce our funding, please consider your own words, “there are exceptions.” Millville is on the right track, but we can’t continue to make progress with flat or reduced funding. Thank you for recognizing our District!
David N. Gentile, Ed. D.
There is an ongoing discussion regarding summer assignments for our advanced placement students. The conversation recently was refueled during our most recent board of education meeting (9/21/15) where several parents, students, and staff members made comments during the "public comment" section of the board meeting. The comments varied, but several themes were consistent among speakers: a) the amount and b)the value of the summer assignments took center stage. All who spoke seemed to agree that summer assignments are a necessary piece of the advanced placement students' education; the discussion varied around how much work is appropriate and that each assignment must have value.
To review, last year many parents and students spoke at a board meeting expressing similar concerns. The board at that time asked me to look into the concerns. A committee was formed and meetings were held to review the summer assignment workload. Some changes were made.
The "public comment" section of the board meeting (9/21/15) indicates that while some changes were made last year, many in attendance would like to see more. Following the most recent board meeting, I met with the high school administration and district assistant superintendent for curriculum & instruction in an effort to continue the review and monitoring of our advanced placement program, specifically the summer assignments. I had the opportunity to meet with the various department chairs during their recent meeting. At that meeting, I instructed them to meet with their departments and review their summer assignments. I asked them to be able to answer two questions:
1. Is the work load too much? (*consider students who take multiple AP classes)
2. Does the work hold educational value? (and be able to explain why)
Once the department chairs and departments have completed their review I will meet with them and report back.
*I want to thank all of those who expressed their opinions during the meeting. This board truly values your input and works to maintain an open line of communication with our community.
Kids these days...are awesome! There are so many amazing happenings in the Millville Public Schools but one recently stood out to me. During my schedule review with my dedicated assistant we reviewed the week to come. I noticed a meeting set for September 17th at 2:45 pm with Mr. Kyle Permuy (@varninja on Twitter). Not recognizing the name, I inquired as to what the meeting's purpose was. My assistant stated that a Millville Public School senior respectfully came in to set up a meeting with me to discuss an idea. I was immediately excited.
He arrived 15 minutes early, (Coach Surace, my former football coach always said, if you are early you are on time, if you are on time you are late, and if you are late you are forgotten). His showing up early was only one of the many things that impressed me about Kyle. At 2:45 we sat down in my conference room and I asked him "what can I do for you?". He leaped into a well prepared and organized presentation about an event he would like to hold in Millville next May. (May 7th, 2016* tentative). The event essentially will bring high schoolers (9-12) from across South Jersey to spend a day coding their way to solving a problem, any problem of their choice. Kyle explained that this is called a 'hackathon' and there is lots out there if you are like me and plan to Google it after reading this. His excitement around a passion of his was simply contagious. I found myself smiling from ear to ear. Together, he and I spent nearly an hour brainstorming how best to make this event a success. We talked about how he could share his love for coding with our younger students by being a guest teacher...so many possibilities simply because this young man was brave enough to take a risk and ask his superintendent for a meeting.
So the next time you hear, or read, about all that is wrong with #MPSWC or kids today, think about @varninja aka Kyle. Kids these days...are awesome!
CS-ACTION is an Exploratory Research proposal to investigate the efficacy of the integration of concepts and skills in computer science (CS) and college- and career-readiness (CCR) into a Common-Core aligned Algebra I curriculum at multiple low-income schools that serve populations of students who are underrepresented in computer science.
At the center of the CS-ACTION model is a sequence of innovative, integrated, and immersive curriculum units designed to provide students with opportunities to engage concurrently in learning concepts and skills in CS, mathematics and college- and career-readiness. Aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM), the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (CSTA), and the American School Counselor Association Mindsets & Behaviors (ASCAMB), the units will be designed as replacement units for those typically taught in Algebra 1 courses.
Designed to be implemented by partnerships between and among schools and higher education (HE) institutions, the model includes multidimensional, embedded professional development (PD) for teachers and school counselors who will work with HE faculty to implement the curriculum units and facilitate informal after-school activities, challenges, and extensions. The implementation of these units requires an informed, supportive network of teachers, school counselors, and HE faculty who understand and have skills in these areas.
CS-ACTION proposes a solution to the problem of access to computer science courses and careers by integrating concepts, skills, and career-readiness in computer science into an already overfull high school mathematics curriculum. While both CCSSM and CSTA specify standards for CCR, few programs actively address them. The model includes significant PD and ongoing support for in-service teachers and counselors to ensure that they are well prepared to implement the units and informal activities. CS-ACTION builds on the PIs’ experience developing and facilitating highly successful comprehensive and developmental summer programs to assist underrepresented students in gaining understandings skills that support their pursuit of STEM majors and careers. Additionally, the PIs have 40 years’ combined experience delivering small- and large-scale PD to teachers and school counselors (both in-person and online), including (a) introductory concepts and skills in programming and computational thinking; (b) student-centered pedagogies within integrated STEM curricula; and (c) college- and career-readiness for first-generation and low-income students.
The results of this work will establish a basis for further integration of foundational CS and CCR concepts and skills throughout the K-12 math curriculum, preparing students for more advanced study and increased enrollment in computer science classes. The project goals and activities are aligned to CCSSM, CSTA, and ASCAMB, ensuring that the modules produced will be appropriate for adoption by other schools throughout the nation. Curriculum units and PD modules developed for this project will be widely disseminated so that other K12-HE partnerships can enact them. The school districts selected to partner with this study were chosen specifically because they serve underrepresented populations of students. Multiple cohorts of students from each school will be studied, including cohorts of under-performing students who have been required to attend summer-school following failing grades in Algebra 1 during the school year. Successful outcomes for these varied cohorts of students would be strong evidence to other K12 schools that such HE partnerships could prove effective.