March 23, 2013
We would like to register our disagreement as well as displeasure concerning the consideration by the Northampton County Board of Supervisors with the elimination of the two at-large members of the school board, thereby reducing the number of members from seven to five.
Removing the two at-large positions for this first election will possibly eliminate candidates who happen to live in the same district. Currently, if as many as three citizens worthy of being elected live in the same district, they nevertheless are able to run for election (two at-large and one in the district) with the possibility of being elected.
With the elimination of the two at-large positions only one of those three candidates can be elected. The chance for diversity of all kinds so necessary in our community will be lessened. We need more voices rather than less at this very important time. [Read more...]
By TED WARNER
February 13, 2013
Recently a survey was circulated though email by an unnamed “local community group” in an attempt to explore “perceptions of the local school options” and “local Eastern Shore schools.” It was reported by the Cape Charles Wave. The survey was not appreciated and accomplished nothing. Its organizers should be ashamed.
And who are the organizers? They are anonymous; anonymity has no place in the public discourse.
At a basic level, we must exchange ideas in order to make any progress. That’s why testimony has value in a democracy. That’s how minds are changed. And, because we sign our names to our ideas, democracy is done in the light of day and personal accountability.
It matters that I sign my name to this letter; it means that tomorrow, someone can approach me on Mason Avenue and speak to me about it. My boss will see it. I can’t hide from what I’m saying here, but I’m going to say it anyway. Because it matters.
But this anonymous group has deliberately chosen to excuse themselves from that system of accountability. They are hiding. They are cowards.
There is also something psychologically violent about this anonymous survey. It is not, as it claims, an exploration. Its suspicious and shoddy methodology reveals its own bias. [Read more...]
CAPE CHARLES WAVE
February 4, 2013
An anonymous, self-described “local community group” has launched an online survey “to explore perceptions of the local school options.”
According to emails circulating among parents and others interested in Eastern Shore schools, the data collected in the survey will be used to “analyze the perceptions of our local schools by staff, parents, and community members.”
The group stresses that the survey is not being conducted by any local school system.
“We want to gather the honest perceptions of anyone with a stake in education on the Eastern Shore,” the email states.
The survey is not confined to public schools, but extends to private schools including Broadwater Academy, Cape Charles Christian School, and Shore Christian Academy.
The survey also asks questions of parents who are home-schooling their children. [Read more...]
By SARAH BARBAN
Cape Charles Wave
November 21, 2012
Northampton School Board chambers were unusually full for the November 13 meeting. Augmenting the ranks of board members and administrators were concerned parents and community members who came to air their grievances.
The audience waited through routine reports from principals, board members, and department heads. Then came the time for public comments — and parents assumed control of the floor.
The first issue was test scores at Kiptopeke Elementary. The school was conditionally accredited last year, and recently received conditional accreditation for this year as well. According to Northampton School Superintendent Walter Clemons, one percent of Kiptopeke students are dragging down test scores.
Cathy Burn is the mother of four boys, three of whom attend Kiptopeke. For her, test score data means more than just numbers on a page — it’s about real kids.
“I have great concerns — we’re not having discussions about real data,” she told the School Board meeting. “Fifty percent of our third-grade boys failed the reading test last year. Third-grade reading is a direct predictor of graduation. We are losing more than a handful of kids — it’s buckets of kids.” [Read more...]
Arguments have been presented as to the reasons why an appointed school board is superior to an elected one. We wish to rebut those arguments and to ask the voters to consider these facts:
Over 250 years ago the king of England and his advisers determined that they could better “vet” and determine which candidates would best govern the colonies in America. That process worked about as well then as the present system works today in Northampton County.
The argument is made that the same politicians who are responsible for the $38 million county debt for new courthouses, offices for the bureaucrats, and everything else as well the closing of our middle school are better able to “vet” and choose the most “qualified” candidates.
To advocate the selection of the school board by five members of our community as opposed to an open election decided by 1,700 voters demonstrates the same arrogance shown by the king of England.
If that logic is applied to the Board of Supervisors, then perhaps the “most qualified candidates” should be vetted by the General Assembly and the Supervisors should also be appointed. [Read more...]
By SARAH BARBAN
Cape Charles Wave
October 26, 2012
Northampton County Schools have been facing their fair share of troubles — from accreditation, to staffing, to test scores. The county school board even had to call in an outside company, Edison Learning, to try and help sort out the issues.
At the Northampton County School Board meeting October 24, it appeared that rough seas are still ahead.
Due to last year’s unsatisfactory math scores at Kiptopeke Elementary, the school cannot be deemed fully accredited.
The three classifications for accreditation are: fully accredited, accredited with a warning, and seeking additional accreditation.
Kiptopeke falls under the latter.
“We have to make a request to the [state] Board of Education for their consideration to see if they will give Kiptopeke that rating of additional accreditation,” reported Superintendent Walter Clemons.
With the exception of math, Kiptopeke’s scores went up in all other areas, including reading, language arts, science, and social studies.
The State Board of Education met October 25 to decide whether to grant Kiptopeke a status of additional accreditation needed. The school awaits the decision.
Clemens lamented that in these difficult times, Northampton County schools, along with the entire United States, face federal budget cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011, known as sequestration.
The cuts could affect Federal programs such as Title One, Head Start, English Language Acquisition, IDEA, and Career and Technical Education. [Read more...]
October 18, 2012
Many years ago our founding fathers were faced with the choice of acceding to the demands of those persons who insisted that they knew better who should govern them and therefore be appointed to positions of power as opposed to making those decisions themselves through elections.
I’m certain they were somewhat fearful themselves of their decision to make a revolution against those powers and create the first nation on Earth in which the people would be given the opportunity to choose for themselves their representatives.
This year the people of Northampton County will be faced with a similar decision as to whether we will have some control of those persons who will represent us, the citizens, as well as our children on the Northampton County School Board.
Will we leave the appointment of those persons to our Board of Supervisors or will we decide for ourselves through elections, who will represent us?
People have asked why this change should be made, which is indeed a legitimate question. For a myriad of reasons I believe this change will create a better situation for our county, but two in particular stand out.
First — although mistakes by voters can indeed elect someone to the school board who simply should not be entrusted to this important position, there is a remedy: Four years later, that person can be defeated in the next election.
In other words, unlike the present situation, a bad choice can be removed through the election of a better candidate.
In today’s world, members of the school board have little reason or inclination to maintain a close connection to the people, as they simply are not our representatives, but rather the representatives of those people who appointed them.
Second — people who are appointed in today’s world may or may not have an agenda in which the children are their primary concern and focus as opposed to the desires of those to whom they owe the debt of their appointment.
Does anyone truly believe that today’s members will push a policy which is better for our children and community but is not in line with the desires of the members of the Board of Supervisors? [Read more...]
By KAREN JOLLY DAVIS
Cape Charles Wave
August 15, 2012
Northampton County Schools are starting the new school year with three new principals — one for each school in the County.
The new principals attended yesterday’s Northampton Board of Supervisors meeting, where they were introduced by Northampton Schools Superintendent Dr. Walter Clemons.
Alvin Coleman is the new principal at Northampton High. Previously he was a principal in the Hampton City school system.
Elizabeth Fennell is taking over at Kiptopeke Elementary. She comes from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, where she was an assistant principal.
The new principal of Occohannock Elementary is Ron Yorko, moving from Northampton High, where he was assistant principal.
“I’m excited about what we’re about to do in the 2012/13 school year,” said Clemons. His new hires come after a year of turmoil in the school system, and two of the three schools are not expected to obtain full state accreditation.
Clemons told the Northampton supervisors that Occohannock Elementary will probably earn accreditation this year, but Kiptopeke Elementary does not meet state standards for its math scores, and may not be accredited. [Read more...]