There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

Mark Twain

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Cold Civil War

On June 16, 1858, over 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln spoke on the division in our country over the issue of slavery. That speech established his credentials in the political debate of the time, even though he lost that particular election. In the speech, he quoted the biblical statements of Jesus, "A house divided against itself cannot stand”. And so the speech takes that name. In particular, in Matthew 12:25, Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Notice the inclusion of the state.

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To Block Or Not To Block

Finally, after much unnecessary rumble, the schedule for classes at Housatonic Valley Regional High School has been decided by Principal Jose Martinez. He acted in concert with a parent committee who were adamant about improving the education for their children. The new schedule, a compromise, will be a six day rotation schedule over five weeks. The first two days will have four 75 minute blocks so that experience with personalized learning can get started. The next four days will have six 50 minute blocks with less variability for each subject leading to less confusion for the students. The parents were informed of the decision yesterday by Assistant Superintendent Pam Vogel; the teachers were informed by Martinez.

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A Fond Farewell

Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain

In honor of Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain’s many years of dedicated service to Regional School District #1, a reception will be held on Monday, June 5, 2017, at 6:00 pm in room 133 at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. All are invited to attend.

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All Show, No Tell

Recently, a union grievance was filed against Assistant Superintendent Pam Vogel. The complainant, a teacher, anonymously alleged that Vogel openly discussed the teacher’s medical history in public. The Region 1 Board of Education heard the grievance this week. The representative for the teacher’s union, Bob Namnoum, refused to allow the grievance to be held in executive session to maintain privacy of the teacher. No evidence whatsoever was presented to support the claim. No one testified to the alleged action. The board found that the grievance was without merit and denied the grievance. In summary, an unknown employee, using the union as cover, has made a serious claim against Vogel, but has not stepped forward with evidence. As it currently stands, this is pure, unadulterated union harassment.

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The Students Win

Today, the budget for Region 1 was approved by a vote of 488-450.  While Kent voted against the budget by 106-50, Salisbury countered with a positive vote, 196-60.  A vote against this budget would have meant cuts to staff, so the students are better off.

Town Yes No Total
Canaan 33 51 84
Cornwall 81 47 128
Kent 50 106 156
North Canaan 60 94 154
Salisbury 196 60 256
Sharon 68 92 160
Total 488 450 938
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Parent Committee

Dear Parents, Students, and Community Members in the Region One:

On March 22nd, at a meeting with parents regarding the 2017-18 HVRHS schedule, Dr. Vogel proposed a process that would include teachers, parents, and students to develop a new schedule for the High School.

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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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