Tag Archives: Middle School

All Kingston parents should refuse Common Core state testing in 2015!

Assemblyman McLaughlin has a message for the parents of New York State!

We have a problem!  We are telling kids that the tests don’t matter.  We are going to now not count it against the teachers, which I think is the right thing to do.  If the tests are ineffective …  Why are we continuing with tests that are this problematic?  Our work here is not done.  My message to the parents of New York is simple – REFUSE!  do not let your children take these tests.  Common Core will collapse of its own weight when the parents of New York stand up and push back against this which is the wrong way to go for our education system.

Governor Cuomo, who at one point claimed to be the advocate for the children of New York, apparently can’t fix the Common Core problem for the kids since an APPR band-aid was the only solution pushed through as the legislative session ends leaving our kids to take the faulty Common Core tests this next year.  Commissioner King and at least most of the Board of Regents don’t believe there is a problem with Common Core.  Many of the legislators admit that there is a problem with Common Core and have made a few changes but can not or will not do enough to truly fix the problem for the kids so it is up to us, the parents.

So parents, we have until March 2015 (I am assuming the state tests will be administered in April as in past years) to get the word out to all the parents in the Kingston school district. We really need to have NO students grades 3-8 taking the state tests next year!

We have to figure out what to do with the high school Common Core tests which are actually part of the kids’ grades/graduation requirements.



Kingston Board of Education meeting – June 18, 2014

The Kingston Board of Education meeting is tomorrow Wednesday June 18, 2014 at Bailey Middle School.  Principal Julie Linton will do a welcome after roll call at 6pm and then the board will go into executive session.  The agenda does not list an expected time for public comment but it generally is 7pm.

The agenda is available here.

The architects are to present the final designs for the Kingston High School Capital project (the designs that will be submitted for New York State approval for the project later this summer).

I am wondering when the new Kingston High School principal will be announced?  Dr. Manuel is basically done now (working both in D.C. and here this month) and totally done in Kingston the end of June.  KHS students have left the building other than for regents and the ‘make-up’ half day of school on June 26 (assuming kids actually come in) so they will not meet the new principal until September and parents are pretty much done as well.  As president of the KHS Parents Association, I had hoped for the opportunity for some sort of transition from one principal to the next.

The superintendent’s report also includes:

  • Report Card Committee
  • Middle School Schedules
  • Real Estate Update

BOE92 to merge the Onteora and Kingston football teams for 2014/2015 caught my attention in light of a comment made by Assemblyman Kevin Cahill today at Common Sense Education Lobby Day that Onteora was going to only have 1 school/campus very soon (this was new news to the Onteora parents who were meeting with Assemblyman Cahill along with Kingston parents as part of the lobby day).

Updates to 2 policies will have their first reading:

  • Policy 5150 School Admissions
  • Policy 5420 Student Health Services

Parent meetings – week of June 9, 2014

Parents – with the end of school just around the corner, things are happening at break-neck speed.

Here are some opportunities that I have heard about to meet with other parents this week.


DWPC Middle School Restructuring Committee Meeting

Discuss the various middle school schedule changes currently under consideration – open to all parents

Monday June 9, 2014   7:00pm
Panera Bread restaurant – Ulster Avenue

Contact:  Diana Kuster (845) 943-9271 or skuster@hvc.rr.com


Kingston Special Education Parent Group

Special education and RTi families are invited to meet with other parents.  Share experiences and get questions answered.  Students that are attending their CSE meetings and learning to self-advocate are strongly encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, June 10th  6:30 – 8:00 pm
Kingston Library
Contact: Michele Hirsch Thompson michele.hirsch2009@gmail.com


Bailey Middle School PTO Meet and Greet for incoming 4th grade parents

Current 4th grade parents (parents only, no students) who will be moving up to Bailey in September are invited to meet with Bailey PTO officers in the Bailey library and tour Bailey school.

Tuesday June 10 5:00 – 6:00 pm

Bailey PTO on facebook


KCSD Autism Information and Discussion Group

Connect with other parents as we talk about what autism is, how to manage challenging behaviors, and what supports are available to you in the school and community.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014  6:00 – 7:00 pm

Chambers elementary school

RSVP to Edie Schwimmer, LCSW, school social worker at Kingston High School 845-943-3866  eschwimmer@kingstoncityschools.org



Board of Ed meeting tomorrow June 4, 2014 with report/parent concerns from May 21 meeting

The Kingston Board of Education will be meeting tomorrow June 4, 2014 at Kingston High School in the auditorium.

  • 5:45pm – public hearing for Kingston High School Jefferson Code
  • 6pm – district recognition/retirement & tenure ceremony followed by executive session
  • 7pm – public comment normally starts around 7pm (when executive session ends)

The superintendent’s report includes:  an update on the high school capital project, end-of-year activities and a middle school schedule update.

Other items of note on the agenda:

  • A classroom at GW is being leased to BOCES for next school year and Bailey is being leased to BOCES for the summer.
  • Subdivision of Sophie Finn property (from Kingston High School) so it can be sold.  Approval of sale of Sophie Finn property.
  • Some additional school volunteers are listed for approval by the board of education.
  • Adoption of Veteran’s Tax Exemption/Gold Star Parents.


I intended to distribute the following summary from the last board meeting last week but got distracted by a variety of education-related items.  I am including it for your reference since there were several items that I thought might be of interest to parents and very little of the information ended up in the newspaper.

Please pay particular attention to the concerns regarding Project Global and the move of 5th grade band/chorus/orchestra out of the regular school day and into the middle school club/activity period which is outside of what most parents/students consider to be the ‘regular school day’.


Jolyn’s summary from the May 21, 2014 Kingston Board of Education meeting

Attendance was fairly low at the first Board of Education meeting after the school budget/Board of Education vote. with about 20 people in attendance.

During public comment, I invited the Board of Education members, on behalf of Kingston Action for Education, to join local parents for Common Sense Education Lobby Day in Albany on June 17, 2014.

Art teacher for Project Global at Kingston High School, Amy VanKleeck, spoke about how thoroughly convinced the students, parents and teachers involved in Project Global are of the benefits of the program.  However “the life of the program is dependent upon you (the board) taking an interest in what we are dong”.  The students and the teachers are afraid again this year that the program will be displaced from the Carnegie Library next year.  The location is a vital part of the program.

2nd century project – steering committee met on May 21.  Will report to Master Plan Facilities committee on June 4.  All of the drawings and plans will be ready to share with the board and the community by the end of June.  Architects have been asked to provide a cost estimate for adding a/c to KHS auditorium.

Real estate updates:  Contracts have been signed for the sale of Zena and Tillson schools, closing dates will be scheduled.  Ulster county legislator has approved the sale of Sophie Finn.

Administrative staff searches:  All new positions including KHS principal were posted with closing date of May 23.  Dr. Padalino, Mr. Voerg and Mr. Olsen were going to go through applications upon closing.  KHS staff will be asked for input regarding KHS principal selection.  Job descriptions for the new administrative staff positions have still not been written.

Middle school schedule update:  8th grade advanced classes will be kept for next year, technology will be moved back to 8th grade, adding a business class in 8th grade to deal with too many study halls, enrichment/reteach periods being changed to allow teachers to figure out how to best provide (not separate period), will still have block scheduling next year – looking at reducing length of long blocks, 5th grade band/orchestra/chorus will be in 9th period

School lunch price will be increased for next year.

Resolution passed to put Cioni building up for sale.

Many school volunteers approved by the board.  One group of names was in the agenda and another group of names was “walked” into the meeting to be approved for upcoming field trips.

Coffee & Conversation is over until September.  Mrs. Bowers noted that no one has attended the last 2 events she hosted although she then clarified that one parent who did not yet have school-age children attended one event and had a lot of questions about education in Kingston.

Refusing the New York State tests and potential impact on Kingston Honors courses

Our family struggled long and hard with the decision as to whether Julia, our 7th grader, would refuse the state tests this year. Julia had kids signing a petition against the tests last year and she has been wearing green laces (Lace to the Top) for a year so she is personally concerned about issues related to testing. I have also been concerned by many issues related to high-stakes testing. Our family’s primary reluctance has been the issue of placing stress on the child to have to practice civil disobedience in refusing the tests. With the assurances from the Kingston school district the week before ELA testing was to begin that pressure would not be placed on the students to sit and stare and the expected extensions of that philosophy into treating all refusing students with consideration and respect throughout the testing time, we decided to refuse the tests.

Green Laces

I am very happy to report that other than having to spend 9 hours last week sitting in the Bailey auditorium (3 hours on each of the 3 days of testing), the testing week went smoothly for Julia.  She loves to read and passed the time with her books although having to sit in the same spot for 3 hours is hard for anyone and I feel for the staff who were overseeing the approximately 180 students on day 1 of testing in the auditorium and over 200 students on days 2 and 3.  Julia said that some students did not remember to bring books with them to read so I am not sure how they kept themselves occupied.

One question that was not answered before the testing began was what impact, if any, refusing the state tests might have on Julia’s ability to participate in honors courses next year.  I submitted the question to the district via the new Let’s Talk application when it was introduced last Tuesday April 1, 2014 and received the following answer in my e-mail today April 9, 2014.

Question: What impact will my daughter’s refusing the state tests have on her ability to participate in honors courses next year?

Students may opt of state tests and still be selected to participate in honors courses; however, sitting for state exams and achieving a high score can help students better their chances of being chosen for the honors program.
In English Language Arts, students must meet KCSD standards in 5 of 7 criterion:
1) 7th Grade ELA test score
2) 8th Grade ELA test score
3) Report Card average over 92 percent
4) STAR assessment
5) Guidance recommendation
6) Teacher recommendation
7) Honors Essay

In Math and Science, students must meet KCSD standards in 5 of 6 criterion*:
1) 7th Grade Math/Science test scores
2) 8th Grade Math/Science test score
3) Report Card average over 92 percent
4) STAR assessment
5) Guidance recommendation
6) Teacher recommendation
*Math and Science are separate courses


Music in Our Schools

With school budget season upon us, I would like to pause for a moment and reflect upon music and arts in our schools.  Many would say that when times get tough, this is an area where money should be cut but I beg to differ.

I had the privilege of listening to children grades 5-12 from throughout Ulster County sing at the All-County Choral Festival on March 1, 2014.  All three groups of singers (elementary, junior high school and senior high school) sang with enthusiasm and did an amazing job after their full day of rehearsal.  The music was varied in style and very enjoyable to listen to.  The elementary and junior high school choruses had songs in foreign languages as well as with clapping and/or other choreography to add to the excitement of the song.  It was obvious that the teachers and students had all worked hard to prepare for this concert.

In this atmosphere of enjoyment contrasted with the yearly rounds of budget cuts, I read the President’s message with a somewhat heavy heart and have received permission to share it for your contemplation.

We would like to thank you for joining us in our celebration of music in the Ulster County schools.  Parents, students and teachers have worked hard to produce the beautiful concert you will hear today.  And even as we take pride in today’s performance it is equally important that we consider the environment in which it has been created.

We are continually called upon to defend and justify the importance of music.  We are asked to provide scientific data to prove that music changes lives, shapes neuro-pathways, creates social bonds, sensitizes the emotions, and develops compassion for our fellow human beings.  Students and teachers of music have always known this.  The president of Cornell University David J. Skorton stated on June 26th, “It is through the study of art, music, literature, history and other humanities and social sciences that we gain a greater understanding of the human condition than biological or physical science alone can provide.”

The current path of education leads us away from what matters most.  As Diane Ravitch has pointed out, the concept behind a ‘race to the top’ is fundamentally flawed.  There is no race where everyone wins.  The democratic ideal is educational equality, not winners and losers.  When the value of education is reduced to a formula then the essence of education is lost.

The health of music education reflects the state of education as a whole.  How long can the canary sing in this environment?  You are about to hear a wonderful concert.  You will be inspired, moved and uplifted in spite of over-testing, cuts, and reductions of music departments county-wide.  The canary is still singing, but for how long?

We don’t have to claim that participation in the arts raises test scores.  That’s not the point.  The arts are far more valuable.  They awaken our soul and spirit and they don’t need any more justification than that.

- Dr. Barbara Wild & Mr. Randolph Loder, Co-Presidents, UCMEA

Perhaps you attended the All-County Band Festival last weekend or will be joining me in attending the All-County Orchestra Festival this weekend.  Perhaps you enjoy other musical venues put on specifically by Kingston school district students.  Maybe your focus is visual arts rather than music or maybe sports or some other aspect of the many wonderful experiences that Kingston offers to our students beyond just “reading, writing and arithmetic”.  Please be involved in the budget process and urge the Kingston Board of Education to continue their focus from past years and retain our wonderful music and arts and other programs that make KCSD such a rich experience for our students.  Also remind our board of education that as we continue to deal with the Common Core Agenda not everything can be measured by STEM and high-stakes testing.

Additional opportunities for you to get involved include an online budget survey that the district will be posting on March 24, 2014 and the third budget forum on April 7, 2014 6pm at the Cioni administration building.