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It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!

Upton Sinclair

the height of irony

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Memory Leaks

All of us have had the same problem; we can’t recall a memory that we know we have. Sometimes we have an image of a thing, but can’t put a word to it. Sometimes the memory feels like an echo in our mind but the connection is lost. In the programming of computer software, that’s called a memory leak. Typically, in order to store information, a programmer creates a glob of memory to insert the requisite data and then creates a pointer to allow retrieval. If the pointer is lost, the memory doesn’t go away, just the ability to retrieve it. Memory fills up, while usefulness decays away. If that sounds like old age, join the group. The real question in education is how to enhance retrieval in order to promote mastery. And a different look at subject in a paper by Karpicke and Roediger1 offers a clue.

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Happy Easter

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Gaming and Measurement

One aspect of viewing the education of students is the measurement of educational results. Frequently, the results are measured by standardized tests. Yet, if those results used to measure teachers, then the teachers are likely to “teach to the test”. In other words, the teachers game the system by limiting their teaching to the expected test questions, or at least the expected areas of relevance to the test standards.

This type of action can be described as Goodhardt’s Law, to wit, “Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes.” The expected measure of performance ceases to function once it is used to evaluate the social actions of real people. So why, at Housatonic Valley Regional High School, are the administrators measuring the failure of students?

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Schedule and Accreditation

Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez

By Principal Jose Martinez

I want to give you a brief update about the progress with developing a new schedule for Housatonic next year. Also a quick overview of the NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) process.

Last Tuesday (April 4th) a parent group meeting was held. This was the second such meeting. The group has 10 members. Much of the meeting was about different ways schools can organize the teaching day to maximize instructional time for students. The group discussed the four stated goals to consider when thinking about a new schedule. These goals were shared parents, faculty, and many students. These goals are:

  1. Intervention time for all students,
  2. Time in the school day for teachers from community and area colleges to teach dual credit classes,
  3. Allow students to be released at the same time every day for internships/work experiences, and
  4. Allow common planning time for teachers.

The parents also spent some time discussing grading practices at the high school. The group has one more meeting planned for April 17th.

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State Revenue Loses Hit Budget

The 2017-2018 budget for Region 1 was put to bed last night following a quiet public hearing. The net overall budget was up by 1.83% including Housatonic Valley Regional High School, Special Education in all seven school districts, and the central office. Of particular note was the decline in state revenue by approximately $294,000, some from Ag-Ed but most from the expected changes to Special Education. The towns may, or may not, receive some of these Special Education funds directly. The towns may, or may not, have to pay a third of the teacher retirement assessment. However, town revenues and costs are not and cannot be reflected in this budget.

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Whither The Children

Sometimes, we all lose sight of the most important part of public education: the children. Housatonic Valley Regional High School is not there to provide jobs to the community. The school’s only function is the public education of children. If it was closed at the end of the year, the children could be bussed to other nearby schools, and get a better education. The towns in Region 1 would reap a financial benefit of over $1,000,000 even with the increased bussing costs. And the administrators could concentrate on improving the education in the elementary schools. Of course, many children would spend longer on a bus, except for Kent where the ride would be shorter. And some alumni would mourn its loss. But Housatonic is our school, even with all the failure.

Yet seemingly every proposed change to improve the education is met with resistance. With that in mind, please listen to the following conversation with a concerned parent on the problem of scheduling of classes. And thanks to the parent, Dennis Fallon, for reaching out with his student centered concerns.

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Enter The Burrow

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them…he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

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The Round Robin

Spring is here and so are the harbingers of fall, the new schedules for the next school year. And this year, Housatonic Valley Regional High School is changing its schedule to accommodate the implementation of personalized learning. However, it is always good practice to look at what exists now. The current schedule at Housatonic is a four day cyclical schedule with special periods specially inserted on Monday and Wednesday. The extra periods are used for activities or monthly for the meeting of learning teams, or socialization. The subjects in each class move about during the week. Good learning is habit forming and nothing could be so far from good habits than this schedule.

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The Benefits of CO2

Craig Idso, Arizona State University

by Craig Idso

We on Earth benefit from the rise of atmospheric CO2. But we seldom hear this important fact and its critical implications. Studying the biological impacts of rising atmospheric CO2 has occupied my professional life for nearly three decades now. Time and again, governments, non- governmental organizations, international agencies, societal think tanks, and even respectable scientific organizations undertake to spend multiple millions of dollars writing and promoting large reports about climate change. Yet in nearly all of these endeavors they have failed by not properly evaluating, or even acknowledging, the manifold real and measurable benefits of the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content. As a result, the positive impacts of atmospheric CO2 enrichment remain largely ignored.

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The Broken Rung

During the last month, the administration at Housatonic has moved to revamp the class schedule to implement personalized learning. The new schedule must necessarily be an extended period schedule (block schedule) in order to provide time for extended instruction. Parent complaints about this change are mounting. I believe that the community should be aware of some aspects of the situation that may not be obvious, to the parents or to the boards of education.

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