Education and Public School Issues for the Public

Ifay F. Chang*, Ph.D. Trustee of Somers Central School District*

* Any Statement(s) or Publication(s) By Ifay F. Chang Are His Personal Opinion Not Necessarily Endorsed by SCSD Unless Specifically Indicated

Education & School Boards

SUNY Buffalo involved in teaching Chinese language in schools(5/.7/13)

How can data help us shape our discussions and decision making when it comes to student achievement? (4/20/13 #121)

Michaud: Common Core tests have gotten a bad rap (4/18/13 A Mom)

Sandy Hook kids face first day since shooting (1/4/13)

Sen. Schumer urges 2 new science, technical diplomas to prepare high-schoolers for jobs (11/15/12)

What Democratic platform says on education (9/7/12)

What GOP platform says on education - The Answer Sheet - The ... (8/28/12)

Average teacher makes $44G while their top union bosses pull in nearly $500G 7/15/2012

Editorial: How salary caps can backfire 7/15/2012

Education officials say the new teacher evaluation system is a necessity and can’t wait (11/13/12)

Southern Westchester BOCES chief earns $243,403, exceeding salary cap by 46 percent because instead of holding the title of superintendent, she is COO and deputy superintendent

Teachers should be evaluated like athlets: Here is Why. 7/11/2012

America has too many teachers? 7/11/2012

Assembly saying 'no' to Tier VI (3/9/12)
Cuomo asks parents to track teacher ratings
Bye-bye, pension reform?
Mayors, county executives urge pension reform in Albany
The teachers union and the NAACP make war on the kids when they sue to keep failing schools open
New York voters pass 93 percent of school budgets in state
Union sues to stop school closings
Editorial: Tighten NY's pension rules
Center for Education Reform's Media Bullpen blog
Teacher tenure under fire from statehouses
Teacher layoff bill clears Pa. Senate
New look after gifted-kids makeover
Raises in average pay for school administrators outpaces teachers'
Rethinking evaluations when almost every teacher gets an ?/span>A?/span>
Is Rhee's key D.C. reform being tossed?
Blog: Justices decline to hear challenge to curriculum guide
Christie seeks end of teacher tenure
Judge rules NYC can disclose names in teacher rankings; union plans to appeal
Cuomo would tie school funds to performance
School districts seek relief from mandates
NJ Gov. seeks to relax rules on who can lead schools
Teachers sacrifice while union spends big on itself
 (1/5/11 See Dr. Chang's Comment)
Despite image, Union Leader Backs School Change (10/16/2010)
NSBA's School Board News blog
The case for $320,000 kindergarten teachers
New York among 19 finalists for Race to the Top
Department of Education announces 19 RTTT finalists for second round
School chief dismisses 241 teachers in Washington
Editorial: D.C. schools lead by example in axing bad teachers (7/26/10)

Teacher centers at risk of closure
Op-Ed: Technology and learning
Op-Ed: Questions about new standardized test reforms
Educators share ideas to improve districts
New York will make standardized exams tougher
School board blasted over superintendent debacle (7/20/10)

Op-Ed: Let students in on education reform conversations (7/19/10) (See Dr. Chang's blog on education reform)
Gates Foundation betting business approach can work wonders in the classroom
(7/15/10) (see Dr. Chang's comments)
Teacher fired over field-trip drowning of girl
Editorial: School boards should groom potential superintendents
Superintendent choice says no thanks to South Glens Falls
Editorial: More honest student tests coming up
No Child Left Behind upheld by appeals court
Panel moves toward 'next generation' science standards
The Democrats' education debacle
NYC Education Department hired 70% more employees since 2003 amid school budget cuts
International program catches on in U.S. schools (7/2/10)

Study reveals factors in ed-tech success (6/28/10)
Schools react to textbook trends
Contracts in line for all nine school superintendents for 2010-11
Major foundation gets set to open a charter school
Newsweek ranks eight Central New York high schools among the best in the nation
Paterson: Taxes are better than borrowing (6/16/10)
Column: Myths about teacher cuts (6/16/10)
Handicapping New York’s RTTT app: Good and medium news (6/15/10)

D.C. teachers' union ratifies contract, basing pay on results, not seniority
Column: Race to sanity
Final version of common standards unveiled
States receive a reading list: New standards for education
Banking giant offers financing for charter schools
NYS makes second, stronger push for Race to the Top funds
The Fight to Defend Public Education Is Heating Up by Tom Crean NYC Chapter Leader in Federal Teachers Union in personal capacity (4/20/10)
(5/28/10 deadline for school boards to sign NY application for RTTP)
Op-Ed: Regarding accountability, NYSUT needs a mirror
New Jersey plan calls for bonuses for effective teachers and schools
City to dump 6,400 teachers unless Albany pays
Race to Top hopefuls seek to crack 'buy-in' puzzle
Somers school budget calls for nearly 3 percent tax hike
State Senate approves bill to increase charter schools
Education chief vies to expand U.S. role as partner on local schools
Rhinebeck school budget proposal has staff, program cuts
Student test score data proposed to evaluate L.A. teachers
Ravitch: Race to the Top, NCLB worse for students than bad teachers
 (4/27/10, plus reader comments)
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act Passed Senate (3/25/2010)
Chappaqua schools chief headed home to Boston
Eight States considering program to let HS qualified students to graduate 2 years early
Blog: Conflicts of interest and the Race to the Top
(2/16/2010, food for thought)
Why firing failed teachers is all but impossible
Governor seeks to ease rules on firing weak teachers
 (1/10/2010 CA)
Parents given more power to transfer children out of poorly performing schools
'Race to Top' viewed as template for a new ESEA
New jobs bill offers $23B for education
Teachers approve contract that pays less, eases rules for firing them
Legislators crafting bill changing how teachers, principals evaluated
Studies explore secrets of principals' success
LI teen wins top science prize for bio breakthrough
Op-Ed: Race to the top in education
McMahon: Teachers clean up on 'pension reform'
Obama pushes to turn around failing schools
RFA students reach finals of national computer competition
Teachers union, Middletown board settle dispute
Dropout costs priced for 50 major U.S. cities
PTA launches campaign backing common standards
Economy forces some Long Island teachers to accept smaller raises
Duncan aims to make incentives key element of ESEA
Op-Ed: Value-added education in the race to the top
Union seeks to change law keeping test scores out of evaluations
District investigating more than a dozen employees.
Staffers at struggling schools reap rewards
Gates Foundation gives $290M to help transform teacher evaluations, tenure
Editorial: The Edsel of education reform
Education Department to demand school pay data
Stimulus to reward states that overhaul school systems
School stimulus cash comes with some limits
Lawmakers OK mandate-relief bill for local governments
Editorial: HS equivalency exam pass rate is shameful last in nation
Column: Suozzi on to something with schools idea
Editorial: School reform vital so kids can compete
National panel urges upgrades to teacher workforce
Obama calls for end of 'firewall' rules that shield teachers
Election offers varied impact for education
Op-Ed: A model contract for teachers
Editorial: Consider education reforms
RI education chief: Abolish teacher assigning by seniority
Duncan to ed schools: End 'mediocre' training
We can't afford 4% raise for teachers, says mayoral candidate Thompson
Column: Economic decline caused by failing schools
Students' flat scores on national math tests cast doubt on reported gains on state tests
R.I. education chief seeks higher standards for prospective teachers
Editorial: A lesson for New York: D.C. schools have the right idea about how to evaluate teachers
Steiner sworn in as NY education commissioner
State audit suggests BOCES bookkeeping changes
New Rochelle schools get $900,000 to expand Mandarin program
Obama is calling for longer hours and more days at school
Editorial: Charter school students outperform peers by a mile in a fair test
NYC high school graduates not ready for success in college: Report
Education experts propose skills set for students nationwide
Charter students fare better academically than noncharter pupils: study
Flu strategists see schools on front line
Teachers union faults Obama plan
District residents debate gay teen's lawsuit
The battle between unions and young teachers
National standards, a common curriculum: The debate starts to heat up
Editorial: Washington steps up on schools
Regents appoints Hunter College dean as new education commissioner
Study pinpoints programs that set some of state's high schools apart
Bloomberg, Senate Democrats reach accord on mayoral control
Editorial: Obama on right education track
Editorial: Keep mayoral control
City signs up for teacher rating system
Diploma bill aimed at reducing high school dropout rates now headed to governor
Union signs contract with charter school that eliminates job protection
Education secretary offers cash incentives to develop common standards
Education Secretary: Judge teachers on how students do
High school graduation rate improves over past decade
Q&A: How to raise 'global students'‎ (6/8/09)

Report: Superintendent salaries inflated
46 States, D.C. plan to draft common education standards
Study: Girls do understand math, but we don't want them to
Group posts list of 3,000 retired teachers with pensions of $100,000 or more
Bill aimed at trimming the power of local school boards soundly defeated
Op-Ed: Kill mayoral control of the schools and watch CUNY suffer (5/31/09)

Gates Foundation: Teachers trump class size
Senate bill supports 21st-century skills (5/29/09)

Radical idea: Charge vendors for software deployed in schools (5/29/09)
Student records finally available to parents online
State considers cutting third-grade exam  (5/28/09)

Editorial: Silver's plan offers hope for city schools
Op-Ed: Kill mayoral control of the schools and watch CUNY suffer (5/27/09)

Teachers share recession’s pain (5/26/09)
Education Department shutting out parents, Thompson says
Column: How better teachers and technology can save our schools
Nearly 20 schools now closed over swine flu scare
Education gaps in US little changed since 2003, study finds
300 schools in 11 states close over swine flu scare (4/30/09)
Duncan: Let's take all children forward
Supreme Court takes up special education case
Suspected number of swine flu cases in region grows
Suspected swine flu shutters two schools (4/29/09)

Obama redoubles push to improve science education
8th-grade test scores rise
NYSUT: Member advocacy saved teacher centers, other critical programs
Union now backing the use of student test scores in tenure decisions (4/23/09)
Column: Rising tide of educational mediocrity drowning the nation (4/23/09)

Long Island educators weigh in on new math Regents scores
Paterson, Intel officials to honor NY schools
Defeat and some success for evolution foes
Lessons from the most successful schools abroad
What do students want from their schools?
ED: Prepare for 'new era' in science teaching
Music education can help children improve reading skills
Schools put 'Big Brother' cameras in classrooms to monitor teachers' performance
Calif. Supreme Court weighs same-sex marriage ban (3/5/09)
Editorial: Reckless spending of the past forces districts to finally make hard decisions
High school prepares for anti-gay demonstrators
Gay teacher paying little attention to demonstrators
Principal of failing HS resigned, but city keeps him on payroll - with a 10G raise
Will Obama stand up for these kids?
Democrats limit future financing for Washington voucher program
State PTA conference focuses on helping parents influence school spending plans
School Board election will determine Williams?effectiveness to lead
Student dies on athletic field
Op-Ed: Teachers want board to give superintendent a new contract (2/25/09)

Obama wants stimulus to transform schools
Editorial: Controversy over teacher pay steps
School district finds cost saving measures
Editorial: The case for national standards (2/16/09)
Bill would allow students to join boards of education (2/16/09)
Florida Legislature will look at plan to end teacher tenure (2/14/09)
Eighty-nine Harrison High School students are AP Scholars
Big cuts loom for education: 574,000 jobs at risk
Kids make gains on AP tests
Teachers just say no to drug tests
(2/5/09) Costly solution to a non-Problem
Parents fined for truant kids
Duncan: Stimulus aid could give schools help
School district saves by buying diesel from town
Duncan details 150 billion education stimulus (1/30/09)
Characteristics of effective school board members
Case shows difficulty of firing incompetent teachers
Stimulus Bill Funding to Education Should Be Tied to Reform (1/29/09)
Superintendent steps up push to selectively fire teachers
Administrators share vision to change schools
Legislators plan to overhaul charter school system
Schools find money, save money
Principals say skip raises to save jobs
Eliminating 'gifted' label stirs a heated debate
(1/21/09 Your opinion?)
Students watch as Obama makes history
School district warns of possible layoffs (1/21/09)
No argument: High school debate is popular once again
N.J. education chiefs calls for spending freeze by school districts
Federal stimulus gives schools $142B -- with strings
School sports now a luxury?
BOCES workers freeze own pay in tough economic times(1/20/09)
Governor proposes school board reforms
Op-Ed: More advice for Arne Duncan from Margaret Spellings
Lack of funds spells end to AP Italian program
(1/8/09, may impact Somers which has more interest in Italian)
Georgia asks for class-size waivers for all districts
Moving from team sport to lifelong fitness
Obama pledges schools upgrade in stimulus plan
Parent forum set on full-day kindergarten
Home schooling grows
More city kids are schooled at home
Schwarzenegger seeks education cuts
Outside groups may face fee for use of school facilities
Students able to pick which SAT scores colleges see under new policy
School reform in Chicago could be national model
Finger scanning to be lunch card of the future
Kids not ready for kindergarten cost Minnesota $113 million per year
(12/29/08, more reason for early educational games)
Bill puts limit on superintendents contract length
On education, a test for Obama
Business group pushes for pre-K spending
A decade later, charter schools are proving critics wrong
Chicago Schools Chief Is Obama’s Education Pick
Is it right for America? Column: Society more interested in athletics than academics
Teacher cuts approved (12/12/08)
Editorial: Obama's choice on education (12/12/08)

New York one of 49 states panned on college costs
What happens when states have genuine alternative certification?
Schools chief wants higher bar for high school graduates (11/21/08)
Teaching students 21st century skills (11/20/08)

Retired teachers' COLA raises on the table
Officials scrap plan for gay-friendly high school
School district asks parents for input on potential cuts (11/18/08)
Running school district a job to rival pay for the governor, new website reveals
School leaders: Focus on new-age skills (11/5/08)
Fourth-grade scores in New York City compared to other nations
Teachers take test scores to the bank as bonuses
More than 1,650 students paid for good grades
Judge says no to teachers' campaign buttons, but yes to certain politicking (10/23/08)
Safety concerns eclipse civic lessons as schools cancel classes on Election Day (10/21/08)
Teachers, superintendent disagree on suspension rule in Rochester schools (10/21/08)
Schools as birthday-cake-free zones (10/3/08)
Students suggestions for superintendents (Open-minded superintendent at Rochester, 10/2/08)
Classroom breakfast a hit with pupils (9/29/08)
The CDC goes viral to stop the spread of influenza (9/28/08)
Study of standardized admissions tests is big draw at conference (9/28/08)
An F school? Depends on how it's judged (9/27/08)
On-line Learnung for High School Success (9/25/08)
New Efforts to Test theories of Education (9/25/08)
Tech giants invest in global ed reform (9/24/08)
Tying teacher's licensing to classroom performance (9/8/08)
Column: Taking the gifted down (thought provoking article, 9/8/08)
Column: Fees shouldn't keep kids from sports, activities (9/8/08)
24/7 school reform (9/8/08)
Blog: McCain right about school vouchers (NY Times 9/8/08)
Editorial: Hybrid school buses help to model environmental stewardship to kids (9/8/08)
Editorial: Debunking an autism theory (9/7/08)
Billionaire's son opens charter school, is he qualified? (9/7/08)
Editorial: Parents are the real teachers (9/5/08)
Study urges flipping teacher pay (9/4/08)
The mistrusted male teacher (9/4/08)
Raising the bar: How parents can fix education (What a simple idea we all should embrace, 9/3/08)
Follow the money: An alternate route to better teaching Performance not credential (8/29/08)
Why schools are failing to improve teacher quality (8/29/08)
Teacher bonus shock Merit Pay Prevails (8/29/08)
Katonah-Lewisboro's adds time for language studies (8/29/08)
$13 million instead of an apple (8/28/08)
Column: Dads step up to show value of education (8/28/08)
Class of 2008 matches ?7 on the SAT SAT scores decline slightly in New York (8/27/08)
Editorial: Why do unions oppose more pay for good teachers? (8/26/08)
Kindergarteners start off learning two languages (8/26/08)
School's test scores reported incorrectly (8/26/08)
Intel chair calls for ed reform, STEM innovation (8/26/08)
Mystery Emerges on Where Obama Stands in the Education Wars (8/22/08)
How McCain, Obama differ on education (8/18/08)
Editorial: Statewide graduation rates aren't the whole story
Students learn hard lessons in school budgets (8/14/08)
Teachers' union fights elimination of deans (8/14/08)
Teachers get schooled on technology (8/12/08)
College Board to debut an 8th grade PSAT exam (8/8/08)
Kids today? They're not that different from kids of yesterday (7/24/08) Over 30 years, the cost of K-12 is many times more but yield no better!
Column: Ignorance is bliss on the state Regents history exam
New York law makes it easier to fire teachers convicted of sex crimes (7/23/08)
Ithaca board rejects reorganization (7/23/08)
Report: U.S. behind in doubling science grads (7/22/08)
Editorial: Investigate students' preview of test questions (7/22/08)
Bill bets prizes would get kids to pass tests (7/22/08)
Savage Won't Apologize, Defends Autism Comments (7/21/08)
Report: Number of teachers denied tenure has doubled under new system (7/21/08)
Teachers to learn signs of suicide (7/21/08)
Push to double U.S. science grads is lagging(7/18/08)
Reading, math scores rise sharply across New York (6/24/08)
English, math test scores up across state (6/24/08)
School boards get lesson on new pension fraud measure (6/24/08)
Massachusetts governor plans new kind of public school (6/17/08)
High school recognized as School of Distinction (6/17/08)
Voucher proposal passes in Senate (6/13/08 Louisiana)
Bush loyalist fights to save ‘No Child?law (6/12/08)
McCain, Obama reps discuss education (6/6/08)
Genders split up at more schools (6/6/08)
State's graduation criteria called 'wave of the future' (6/3/08)
Whitesboro school board to interview superintendent candidates in private (6/3/08)
More school districts look to hire teachers of Chinese (6/1/08)
State asks to review contracts from some school district superintendents (5/29/08)
State task force works on standardized teacher evaluations (5/28/08)
Cuomo, legislators seek to cut abuse of state's retirement systems (5/23/08)
Newly seated Port school board to 'listen to the people' (5/23/08)
Journal News on School Board Candidates (5/19/08)
High school grad who can't read diploma is suing school district
Are gifted students getting left out? (5/15/08)
Middle school warns parents about energy drinks (5/15/08)
Virtual schools see strong growth, calls for more oversight (5/15/08)
Evolution's critics shift tactics with schools (5/5/08)
Tech Gizmos Increasingly Target Toddlers (5/5/08)
Study: Creativity is important but neglected (5/2/08)
Bus Accident and Safety Issue (4/30/08)
Bus contractors asking city schools to cut out field trips because of fuel costs (4/28/08)
David Rockefeller pledges 100 million dollars to Harvard (4/25/08)
Catholic school enrollment falls 20 percent (4/25/08)
Education secretary offers changes to ‘No Child?law (4/23/08)
Court approves city schools cell phone ban (4/23/08)
Putnam, northern Westchester school board candidates (4/22/08)
AT&T launches $100M effort to stem dropouts
Students want more use of gaming technology (4/21/08)
Videotaped beating sparks national outrage (4/21/08)
Somers makes cuts to get $77.2 million school budget (4/20/08)
Chappaqua budget adds technology, Chinese studies (4/20/08)
Wick's Law restraints to be eased
Teacher tenure plan's 'just an outrage,' fumes Bloomberg (4/7/08)
U.S. students achieve mixed results on writing test (4/4/08)
Students' writing scores show marked improvement (4/4/08)
Op-Ed: Parents must unite to demand better school choices (4/3/08)
State troopers will stay in schools
Editorial: Standard on tenure would help students (3/28/08)
PCB Issue in School (3/28/08)
State attempt to lessen role of school districts in tenure stirs debate
Several Westchester schools and districts fall short of targets on state tests (3/26/08)
Editorial: Something out of whack with superintendent salaries (3/25/08)
In response to critical audit, Hamburg school board president resigns
Tonawanda school board considers cutting 22 positions to hold down property tax increase (3/19/08)
Bill would bar linking test scores to teacher tenure (3/18/08)
Passing eighth grade in New York just became a little harder (3/18/08)
Senate looks to establish a state 'Teachers Day' (3/18/08)
Report urges changes in teaching math (3/17/08)
State puts Web-only schools on short cord (3/17/08 Oregon)
Program will pay AP students $100 to pass (3/13/08)
Westchester Superintendents' Salary (sent by reader)
Lawmaker wants scent-free schools (3/12/08)
Two Long Island students place in top 10 at Intel contest (3/12/08)
Many Texas school districts reject merit pay for teachers (3/12/08)
Lawmaker proposes school crisis plan (3/6/08)
Poughkeepsie school budget retains staff, adds learning opportunities
Port Jervis school district proposes 4 percent tax hike (2/28/08)
Cost of special education highlighted
Experts Investigate Fatal Minnesota School Bus Crash (2/22/08)
Poll: Residents would rather higher taxes than cuts to education (2/21/08)
Mahopac school trustee quits after arrest (2/21/08)
More schools involved in lawyer, pension scandal (2/21/08)
Monroe-Woodbury school board votes to fire deputy school superintendent (2/21/08)
Students in N.Y. acing AP exams
Yorktown principal suspended, causing controversy (2/19/08)
Experts debate the definition of critical thinking (2/18/08)
New York tops AP Exam ranks (2/14/08)
How to make great teachers (Time Magazine)(2/13/08)
Mahopac voters OK spending $5.8M on school upgrades (2/13/08)
Greece school board's oversight questioned (2/10/08)
How much does your school district pay its superintendent? (2/10/08) Links to published contracts
Six city schools designated by the state as failing (2/7/08)
Mixed results for New Jersey students on statewide tests (2/7/08)
New York once again the leader in Intel Science contest (1/31/08)
Byram Hills senior named Intel finalist (1/31/08)
Editorial: Problem isn't assessments, it's the cost of education (1/22/08)
Part Three: Economy, quality drive school budgets (1/15-22/08)
Schools pay price for giving kids more time to graduate (1/22/08)
Eight better buys for your school tax dollars (1/16/08)
Somers: Close community helps forge trust (1/16/08)(One of the Eight Better Buys)
New York tops nation in annual education report (1/11/08)
Losing an edge, Japanese envy India’s schools (1/08)
Simple school resolutions for a great 2008
Success stories: Celebrating progress in public education. (9/28/07)
Voters approve a record 95.5 percent of school budgets. (5/16/07)

School Tax Related Issues

3rd School Property Tax Reform Forum, June 5, 7PM, Location 845--5301 Ifay Chang's Proxy Statement
School Property Tax Reform Forum Feb 2, 2008 (Organized by Assemblyman Greg Ball, Dr. Ifay Chang's Charts)
School Property Tax Reform Forum (Oct 20, 07) Notes
Web Site Created As Forum for School Tax Issues (Ifay Chang, presented at October 20, 2007, School Tax Reform forum)

N.Y. pension fund nets 10.38% return (5/13/13)

New York State Teachers' Union Sues Over Tax Cap - (2/18/13)

A citizen's guide to the property tax cap ... - New York State (2012)

Albany moves toward a tax cap deal (5/20/2011)
Districts: Keeping an eye on spending was key to budget success
Most school plans pass
(Budgets 5/18/2011)
School District Budgets and Tax Levy for WPSBA School Districts
Website offers tax burden comparisons (5/12/2011)

Op-Ed: Poison pills for the gov's tax-cap (5/13/2011)
Website offers tax burden comparisons (5/12/2011)
Local governments overwhelmed by a record-setting number of property tax challenges
Poll: N.Y. voters support cap and millionaire's tax
Is tax cap a school budget buster?
Letter: Property tax cap will aid education (1/13/11)

Poll: Tax cap, lower government spending supported by New Yorkers
Cuomo establishes team to cut unfunded mandates imposed on schools
Op-Ed: Property tax cap will hurt more than help
Property tax relief proposals wither in Albany
Businesses say illegal immigrants increase taxes, work hard-to-fill jobs
Somers school budget calls for nearly 3 percent tax hike
Comparisons of School Budgets - a survey (5/1/10)
Tax Revolt Rally!!!  (3/27/2010)
NY Senate Candidate Greg Ball Current Assemblyman organizes a Tax Revolt Rally on April 15th, 2010 at The Historic Putnam County Courthouse 20 County Center | Carmel, NY 10512. (Another one on 7/24/10 at Paterson, NY.)
His view on Capping Property Taxes
N.Y. Senate OKs cap on school taxes
A primer on school aid delays
(12/16/09, Can Governor delay school aid n mid year?)
Op-Ed: How we saved New York $35 billion
(12/11/09 - Paterson)
Onteora school board approves teachers?contract
District reaches contract agreement with workers
(Schenectady 12/9/09)
Katonah-Lewisboro spending resolution passes
Warwick voters OK $2.6M school renovations
Report: Schools, local government should look at shared services, consolidation
School bond defeated in North Salem
Paterson plans to delay payments to schools, local governments
Editorial: Taxpayers wake up
Paterson seeks to link property taxes to incomes
New York losing population to other states, report says
Gov. David Paterson to outline $3 billion in spending cuts today
Voters reject Byram Hills project
State announces new budget gap of $2.1B
Renegade Democrats help GOP retake State Senate
Senate revolt could lead to legislative gridlock (6/8/09)
Westchester a case study for consolidation
Paterson calls on lawmakers to ease property tax burden
Editorial: Local government should learn from school boards' newfound thrift
Editorial: If schools thought budgeting this year was tough, wait until next year
Record number of school budgets passed statewide
Somers School District passed its budget on 5/19/09
Somers School Budget Vote on 5/19/09:
1. Budget tax increase of 2.9% below contingency budget
2. Referendum 2 saves voters money by return $1M reserve back to voters to offset tax increase. 
Paterson Urges Legislature to Pass Quick Fix M.T.A. (5/3/09 It might impact Schools)
School board president targets 'no tax increase' in cuts
Bemus Point approves school budget with no change in taxes
Opponents of education bills fear loss of local control
A stimulus package for schools?
'Frightening' budget outlook laid out in Lakeland
Budget gap may widen by $1B: gov
Suozzi: Consolidation won't be end of good schools, traditions
Westfield, Ripley residents asking for merger
Editorial: Paterson plan should have gone further
Paterson's plan asks for sacrifices
Paterson proposes austere budget to close deficit
Governor proposes to cut Teacher Center Program (12/16/08)
Paterson calls for spending cuts in budget (12/16/08)
Deep cuts coming in New York budget proposal
Taxes and fees to rise $4 billion in New York budget
Editorial: Taxes and education
Editorial: Property tax cap or bust (12/3/08)
Editorial: School reforms could save taxpayers billions
Rising Foreclosures pose long-term fiscal problem for local governments
Gov backs down on push for budget vote today (11/18/08)
Paterson Op-Ed: New York needs to bite the bullet (11/17/08)
'Deep hole' may bring school-aid cuts (11/5/08)
Buffalo homeowners ignoring state STAR
School board ponders economy (10/21/08)
Editorial: Attack unfunded mandates (9/28/08)
Op-Ed: Tax cap forces governments to think about spending (9/8/08)
Letter: Taxpayers can’t afford huge teacher pensions (9/8/08)
Editorial: Restructure state pension system
State hearings to study school taxes
School boards worried about economic downturn (8/28/08)
Teachers union withholds support from 38 senators over property tax cap (8/14/08)
Senate OKs property tax cap (38:20 vote, 8/12/08)
Editorial: Property tax cap 101 (8/8/08)
Suozzi pushes for cap on property tax increases (7/25/08)
Op-Ed: Circuit breaker the best way to limit property tax impact
School boards: Tax cap must come with mandate relief (7/22/08)
Op-Ed: Tax cap pressures government, not residents, to perform (7/22/08)
Governor, GOP closer on deal to cap school taxes (6/22/08)
Republicans deciding whether to support Paterson's tax cap proposal (6/21/08)
Public wants cap on school taxes (6/17/08)
Column: Gov's tax cap puts Bruno in a box
Schools that incorporate 'green' technology in construction might receive federal money
NY Senate Democratic leader seeks property tax cap (6/13/08)
Bruno blasts Paterson's proposed school tax cap (6/13/08)
Letter: Lawmakers ignoring voters' desire for a tax cap (6/12/08)
Panel urges 4 percent tax cap on property in New York (6/3/08)
State report calls for capping school-tax hikes at 4 percent (6/3/08)
School tax remedies met with mixed reactions (6/3/08)
New York's property tax rebates largely unmonitored (6/3/08)
Questions and answers from the New Yorker trying to cut your taxes (5/28/08)
Silver nixes tax circuit-breaker idea(5/28/08)
Op-Ed: Tax relief: Property taxes can be reined in without hurting schools (5/23/08)

Report: New York shouldn't look to Massachusetts as a model for property tax reform (5/23/08)
Op-Ed: Builders and contractors group calls for Wicks Law reform (5/23/08)
State Aid Information per school (5/19/08)
State panel moving to cap increases in property taxes (5/15/08)
Property tax cap in doubt (4/28/08)
New York school unions lobby against property tax cap (4/28/08)
Plan to cap school taxes based on income praised
Briarcliff school officials say $52.9 million budget is tight (4/25/08)
Paterson to reconsider property tax rebates
STAR tax rebates may see changes (4/22/08)
County Legislature supports state proposal to cap school district levies (4/17/08)
Op-Ed: Property tax reform is your big chance, Mr. Suozzi (Mr. Marlin's article, 4/15/08 Also Readers' Comments)
(Reader comments on Mr. Marlin's article, 4/17/08)
Public schools spent an average of $9,138 per student in 2006 (4/4/08)
No Wicks Law reform just yet (4/4/08)
No school budget cuts for first time in 20 years
Kingston school budget levy hike 3.8 percent (3/27/08)
School board holds the line on taxes (3/27/08)
Greece budget drops by $1 million (3/27/08)
Lansing cuts $1.3M from school budget
Suozzi's school-streamlining plan gains support
Florida commission proposes replacing property tax with sales tax increase (3/19/08 Florida)
Property-tax reforms make homeowners big winners (3/18/08 Indiana)
Op-Ed: Tax cap would harm schoolkids (3/18/08)
Op-Ed: Tim Kremer: There's a simple fix for high property taxes  (3/3/08)
Regional meetings held on curbing property taxes
Court hears schools' appeal on county tax plan
Illinois state Senate tries again for 'tax swap' to raise income taxes (2/29/08)
Property taxes in New York among the highest in the nation (2/25/08)
Editorial: Shrinking enrollment and higher school taxes don't add up (2/25/08)
Letter: Link property tax relief to income (%income=Property tax) (2/19/08)
Rockland school board association armed with hard data asks for more state aid (2/19/08)
School tax scofflaws get rebates, too (2/17/08)
New York State Tax Payer Protection Act, Legislative Bill (2/16/08) Important Bill with details.
Op-Ed: Property tax cap would exact high toll on schools(2/13/08)
New kind of property tax cap suggested (Feb 12, 08)
Property tax caps would limit educational investment (Feb 12, 08)
School budget holds line on taxes (2/7/08)
Editorial: Watch those state mandates (2/7/08)
NYC education officials under orders to cut $180 million (2/7/08)
State lawmakers plan to link property tax breaks to income (2/5/08)
Lawmakers seek to tweak property-tax relief program (2/5/08)
Florida legislators propose property tax reform (2/1/2008)
Why jeopardize New York's progress in public education with arbitrary tax caps? (NYSUT 1/31/08)
Pa. legislature rejects elimination of property taxes (Associated Press) (1/31/08)
School property tax reform proposed by Utah legislature  (Deseret Morning News 1/31/08))
Executive Budget: Addressing local property taxes (1/23/08)
Executive Budget: School aid tied to accountability (1/23/08)
Spitzer to urge smaller hike of school-tax rebate (1/23/08)
Analysis of the 2008 Executive Budget Proposal (1/22-08)
Spitzer budget would curb property tax rebates (1/22/08)
Spitzer budget raises spending, aid to schools
Taxpayers gain courage to say 'no' (1/15/08)

School officials question Spitzer's tax cap plan (1/15/08)
Report: The problems with property tax revenue caps (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)(1/15/08)
Assemblyman: We need property tax cap and we need it now (Legislative Gazette)(1/15/08)
Our Schools Our Money (1/13-17/08)
Editorial: Property tax cap has worked wonders elsewhere (1/11/08)
Senate Republicans offer to triple STAR rebate, end school property taxes (1/4/08)
Schools oppose mandated use of money (1/08)
Poughkeepsie Journal report on Tax Reduction Conference (1/24/07)
The Problems with Property Tax Revenue Caps (Center on Budget and Policy Priority, 6/21/07)

Ifay Chang for/on Education

Response to The Questions from The Journal News about School Board Election(4/07)
School Board Statements (IFC)(4/07)
Press Release
Public Forum Related to School Board

Candidate Statement for May 21st Election ?Dr. Ifay Chang, Candidate for SCSD

I have dedicated my energy, time and wisdom to education in the past dozen years including serving as Somers school board trustee for the last six years. (I am also serving on the executive board of Westchester and Putnam School Board Association engaged in legislative actions for the benefit of public school districts and the Northern Westchester and Putnam Teacher Center Policy Board engaged in teacher development issues ) I wish to continue to serve on the Somers Central School District Board with the support of Somers residents.

Children are the future of our Nation, I care for all the children not just my own in the Somers schools. My wife, Teresa and I have four children, two graduated and two currently in Somers Public schools. If elected, I will continue to demand our school system to raise the bar to meet all the challenges that our children must have in order to become a productive citizen from learning ready to college ready to career ready to success ready. I will bring my experience as a scientist, a professor, an entrepreneur and a volunteer teacher into the trusteeship to work with the Board, a rather new board, and the young administration to make our schools the best schools they deserve to be - high expectation and high achievement with every dollar smartly spent for education! Ifay chang

Test Scores and Additional Challenges (4/24/13)

NY State Regents Exams have been used as a bench mark for student performance indication. Naturally having majority of students passing the Regents exam with distinction is a good thing. Higher test scores are always a lift for school ranking. For high school students, often taking AP or college level courses will add more to their credential in addition to their grade average as a measure of their readiness for college, although not all colleges will accept AP credits when admitting students. Nevertheless, all high school students should be encouraged to take AP or college level courses while in high school simply because that give students more challenge; the students will learn more and when they get to college they will have more confidence and will perform better. Sometimes, students could even graduate in less than 4 years because they have taken earlier extra challenges. Success in these earlier challenges also give the students a leg up in getting into their desired colleges.

What Is a Meeting ?School Board Transparency Issue

The following article is a good reading:

School board transparency a challenge in digital age (4/16/13)

Unfunded and Underfunded Mandates (3/9/12)

By the terms "unfunded and underfunded", anyone with a brain would know that it is not a fair mandate. It is equivalent to impose taxes on citizens without the citizens' consent. Citizens have an obligation to pay taxes but also have a right to approve or disapprove the taxes through their legislative representatives. When the legislative representatives fail to listen to the voting citizens, it is time to vote them out. For struggling public school systems, many unfunded and underfunded mandates, such as pension contribution, transportation obligation and many regulation for special ed exceeding the Federal Law requirement must be relieved for the public schools to be sustainable financially. The legislators must assist in this effort which should be measured as their effectiveness.  

LHCSS Documents on UUM
WPSBA's Focus on UUM

Pension Reform Is A Fairness Issue

It is only natural that everyone would like to have a great pension when one retires. However, it is only fair that everyone makes fair contribution to one's pension so the pension system is sustainable for current employees and future employees. If the employer could not sustain such a pension burden, the end result would have to be job cuts or bankruptcy. Then the pension formula is clearly not a workable one. The NY State Assembly's failure to initiate a Tier VI pension system is essentially writing a death warrant for the NY State pension system and the public servants in the system.  

The Impact of 2% Tax Cap on Schools

Governor Cuomo finally got his tax cap passed as law. Doubtless, this will have tremendous impact on schools as well as local governments. Just focusing on the public schools, it is creating a financial crisis for many districts, some in the near future some immediate. Governor Cuomo must be given credit for generating this crisis which will force the public and schools to deal with it, hopefully with reforms and solutions that will improve our public school systems.

As the budget planning for 2012-13 is coming around the corner, the question is whether a school district can live under the 2% tax cap or not? In the days ahead, all school boards (and the public) must face this issue and seek solutions.

Teacher and Principal Evaluation (5/14/2011)

New York State is developing a teacher and principal evaluation method and process, APPR. This link is the task force report.

Center for Education Reform's Media Bullpen blog (5/13/2011)

Controversy in Education Reform (3/21/2011)

The education reform issue has been grabbing headlines along with financial crisis and budget deficits. True, our education system needs reform from students outcome point of view and also true our public school systems have become financially not sustainable. Fortunately, in our democratic country, people are free to organize and deal with crises and issues. In this website, I have been making links to education related articles and news. Here in this column, I will highlight the most important and influential articles to call your attention. In the following, there is a video addressing the LIFO (last in first out teacher layoff) issue and there is a lengthy article about Michelle Rhee's reform effort or crusade. Both are worthy your time to view them.

 The impact of LIFO (2 min video)

New York Magazine Article on ReformEffort

The Teacher Union Staff Averages More than 50% higher Pay Than Classroom Teachers

According to an official report from US Department of Labor, the over 500 staff employees in NY Teachers Union get average pay of $103, 966 versus average classroom teacher pay of $66,760 (9/09-8/10). The union collected $218 million in revenue ($$113M directly from Teachers payroll) whereas The teachers development funding from the State via teacher centers program is barely a $100M. Do the math, it seems to suggest that the teachers may not be worse off if treated and rewarded as a professional like any other profession (accountants, lawyers, etc) without a union. By and large the communities would like to reward their teachers especially good teachers with a decent salary for the sake of their children. The inflexible pension contribution, the Last-in-first-out layoff rule, the unfair contract negotiation process and strict working hours are union's accomplishments not so much as true benefits for teachers but diminution of the value and respect of the teaching profession and worst of it damaging the usual good relationship between teachers and parents when everyone is faced with a financial crisis.

See report on lavish teachers union  

SCSD Hired Dr. Ray Blanch as Its New Superintendent (7/30/10)

Over four months intensive search effort, the Somers Central School District offered Dr. Raymond Blanch the superintendent position to be effective as of August 25th in time to open the new school year. The employment of Dr. Blanch is the result of launching a nationwide search, screening 55 applicants and conducting multiple interview processes involving the full board and the school as well as the community constituents. Dr. Blanch is formerly superintendent of Lewis Palmer School District of Colorado with a BS degree from SUNY Buffalo majoring in elementary education and concentration in Psychology, a M.Ed. in Education Administration from Colorado State University and a Ph.D. in Education Leadership from University of Denver. With experiences as superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal and elementary teacher, Dr. Blanch is returning to his home state to lead Somers Central School District to greatness and excellence as expected by the board and the community.    

Should School Board Groom Potential Superintendent? (7/18/10)

The question is a legitimate one. The most important responsibility of the school board is to hire a qualified rightly matched superintendent for their district. What would be a better way than to groom a future superintendent with the current superintendent? Of course this calls for a forward looking board and a secure and cooperating superintendent. This is not a difficult task for the board to put in a contract with a superintend to make sure the board and the superintendent will develop a succession plan jointly.

Editorial: School boards should groom potential superintendents (7/15/10)

Something Bill & Melinda Foundation Can Help to Effect Meaningful Education Reform (7/15/10)

After reading the article, 'Teachers' Pest', by Daniel Golden, in Bloomberg Business Week, (issue of 7/19-25),  I sympathize and admire more the Gates Foundation's effort. Millions of dollars spent revealed that class size is not really a significant factor for better education and quality teaching is. Hence the foundation is turning its focus, aligning with NCLB and RTTT and the current education administration, to address the student performance issue by advocating removing bad teachers and rewarding or incenting good teachers. I fully agree with this concept or initiative, however, I am concerned that the test score, used alone as the main data to drive the implementation of achieving quality teaching, is lacking scientific basis. The causality principle for quality teaching leading to great student performance has many causes and the test score may be a manifestation of the effect of the many causes but by itself yields no explicit correlation to a single cause leading to quality teaching.

I have chosen education as my retirement focus (albeit with no foundation) because I believe education is the most fundamental issue over healthcare, poverty, global economy, environment... even world peace; education is the ultimate solution to all the other issues. Our challenge is to provide all children with quality education so they will have knowledge, skills and desire to deal with all life issues after being educated. Like Gates and many others concerned with education, I struggled with this challenge. Many times I thought about writing a proposal to the Gates Foundation but was discouraged by its policy it would not accept proposals from individuals. The business week article referenced below prompted me to write this blog to propose a solution to effect quality teaching which I believe will be fruitful if it is implemented by an independent, self-funded organization such as the Bill & Melinda Foundation. I will outline the main points of this proposal in this blog hopefully it will induce some organizations to bring to and work with the Gates Foundation.

The concept of the solution is quite simple, call it 'Dear Teacher Card' (DTC program). A card filled out by each student for his or her teacher each semester. The card will have simple questions to reveal and encourage quality teaching, did I learn 'the subject'?, do I like to learn more? Can I learn more or do better? How can teacher help me to learn more? What did I like or dislike the subject class? Who is the best teacher I liked before?  I think I can learn more if ......... The student report card that teachers write for each student serve as an effective  communication tool to a student and his or her supporting parents about their learning process and progress. Similarly, the 'Dear Teacher Card' is a communication tool for students to build a bond with their teachers and their supporting school administrators about learning and quality teaching. The information obtained from DTC can be very helpful in improving teaching and teacher development.

Why is 'Dear Teacher Card' useful? Students are the center of education. They are all innocent to begin with, their feelings are genuine and their observations are personal with little bias. The good students will produce perhaps more feedback about how good teachers teach and how they may teach more and the problem students will reveal problems in ineffective teaching and how to deal with the problems. Tracking DTCs over grade progression and over time will help teachers (and administrators) to be more effective. The new teachers can learn through those direct feedback. All teachers will find satisfaction when students express their appreciation and made reference to their tender loving teachers.  

Why do we need an independent organization like Gates foundation to promote and implement and track this program? I am sure you can easily find the answers. The school administration even motivated is not likely to have resources to implement this program to track the 'Dear Teacher Card' over K-12 as a continuum. Even though the  feedback from DTC are valuable for quality teaching, the teachers and the unions behind are likely to oppose it. The parents and students are not likely to give frank comments about teachers for fear of consequences if DTCs are not handled by an independent organization.

An independent foundation can underwrite the 'Dear Teacher Card' program by (i) offering grants to willing/participating schools to cover their material and clerical cost and (ii) employing an independent consulting company to work with the schools to accomplish the objectives. The program tasks that the consultant company and the school district should perform can be outlined as follows: 

1. Hold focus sessions with teachers and administrators to understand their unique issues related to improving quality teaching.

2. Develop a common set of 'Dear Teacher Card' questions for each grade which will capture the feedback from students for teachers. A few specific questions pertaining to the specific participating school should be added to the card, including questions allowing students to give anonymous answers.

3. Analyze the 'Dear Teacher Card' and correlate and track K-12 over a a number of years to yield results (and improvements) for elementary school, middle school and high school on quality teaching.

4. Publish analysis, recommendations and achievements derived from the 'DTC' program to improve quality teaching.

5. Disseminate 'DTC' cards and analysis back to students so they can continue to participate in DTC program and get better year after year.

6. Distribute DTC analysis back to teachers and hold staff development meetings with teachers and administrators when specific improvement issues warrant such meetings.

With a willing participating school's cooperation, the program can be administered with a reasonable cost. The DTC cards are collected twice a year (online submission may be a desirable way of doing this) and bulk of the analysis work will be done during school recesses by consultants with voluntary administrators. For a typical school district of a few thousand students, this program may cost about $1.5M for a period of 13 years. The initial planning and first year implementation may be budgeted for $250,000 then subsequent years down to $100,000 per year (the administrative cost should go down sufficiently to cover inflation) A one-time incentive to induce schools to participate may be a teacher development grant of $500,000 to be used by schools for staff development in conjunction with the DTC program over the life of the program. If the foundation allocates $200M and selects 100 school districts in the country to participate in this program, I believe, a new culture and new bonding between teachers and students will be created leading to quality teaching/learning in a very fundamental manner visible in a few years time.

Ifay Chang

(This is my personal opinion not necessarily endorsed by any school or the school board and Teacher Center I serve)

Gates Foundation betting business approach can work wonders in the classroom (7/15/10)

Ravitch's 'modest' vision for school reform (7/6/10)  

Somers Central School District Hires Dr. Stephen Leitman as Interim Superintendent (6/16/10)

Dr. Leitman formerly Superintendent of Garden City School District, a graduate from New York University and Fordham University with a PhD in curriculum and teaching, has accepted an appointment as the interim superintendent for SCSD effective July 1st, 2010 while the school board is focusing on recruiting a permanent superintendent. Dr. Leitman is a resident of Somers. He is formally introduced to the community at the June 15 school board meeting at Primrose Elementary School. 

Serving the Executive Board of the Westchester Putnam School Board Association (WPSBA) (6/4/10)

After being elected on May 18 to serve three more years as the trustee for the Somers Central School District, Dr. Chang was sought out by WPSBA to serve on its executive board. After consulting with his district, he accepted WPSBA's nomination. On June 3rd, he was elected to that board. Already serving as the representative from Somers Central School District to the Legal Actions Committee of WPSBA, his new role will get him more involved in school board and school issues such as unfunded mandates, school aids, pension reform, ...Dr. Chang urges you to visit the new WPSBA website and get involved if you can raise awareness of any school board issue or support any WPSBA's action plan   

Ifay Chang Decides to seek re-election to the SCSD school board (4/19/10)

With family's support, Dr. Chang will seek re-election to serve the SCSD school board in the coming election on May 18th. Dr. Chang urges voters to cast their vote of confidence for the candidates and pass the school budget which is thoughtfully constructed with economic situation and NY State financial crisis in consideration. The Westchester Putnam School Board Association has made a survey on school budgets which is shown below for your review:

Comparisons of School Budgets - a survey (updated 5/1/10)

Challenges of Finding Education Leadership for Somers Central School District - Public Survey (3/27/2010)

Due to retirements, SCSD now has three key positions (Superintendent, Primary School Principal and Middle School Principal) to be filled for the coming academic year. While the able current superintendent is working diligently to get the recruiting process for principals launched, the board is challenged to search for an new superintendent to fill a very big pair of shoes. In the interest of conducting an efficient and productive search process, the board is working with a search consultant and soliciting public support in terms of ideas and suggestions. Hence, there is a public survey for Somers school district residents and school personnel online. I urge you to take a look and send in your opinion.

Somers School District Public Survey  

Assessment of Westchester High School

The April issue of Westchester Magazine have a nice article assessing the performance of our county's high schools. Statistical numbers can only be used as a general reference, they can hardly give an in-depth representation of specifics that are unique and important to our high schools. However, the magazine also has a few nice articles written by Dave Donelson on teacher quality, programs for stellar students and the principals' pick of best teachers. These would be worthy reading material if you did care about our kids' education. The interviews with the best teachers is also available on-line at  

A Presentation Related to Pedagogy

I had the pleasure conducting an experimental teaching of Mandarin in a Cablecast environment. The results were astonishing. The following link is a paper written about this experiment.

Slide Presentation at with YouTube
Full Paper at

What Does Max Out Mean in A Career?

This seems to be a question for public careers such as public servants like educators in the public schools. It is a question best answered in financial terms. Max out generally means the financial reward for continue working is diminishing to almost zero compared to the financial reward by  taking the retirement. Unfortunately, many retirement systems (such as teachers, police etc) have been set to have a max out 'age' too young. Such a retirement system gives a negative incentive to capable and experienced professionals to continue on a career to benefit the public or children in the teacher's case. In a society, life span is increasing and working age is being extended beyond 65, any early max out retirement system is definitely counter productive and it may not even guarantee a happy retired life watching peers of the same age being productively working.   

Tracking Student Progress and Linking to Public School Performance

The ultimate goal and measure of public school is their students performance, not only in school years but beyond. Hence tracking student progress and making such statistical data available to guide public school reform and evaluation of pedagogical results seems to make a lot of sense. A number of states are attempting to do just that. It seems to be a reasonable goal for every school board to set; the public schools should begin to take advantage of the digital technologies invested in public schools to track student progress from K to 12 and with students (families) cooperation going beyond graduation. The following linked article should stimulate some thinking. Some are concerned about the Federal's role in controlling education and some are concerned about invasion of privacy. To the former, the Federal education department can simply encourage the local schools and States to move in the right direction. To the latter, we can point to the experience of school systems dealing with Special Education. With today's information technologies, the privacy concern on student data seems to be just an excuse for inaction in view of the fact that vast data systems have been built in medial (healthcare and insurance) and financial (banks and credit cards) industries for operational and efficiency purposes. Can we live without those data systems? 

Student data systems, unite! ( 2/16/2010)

Once-In-A-Life-Time Art Performance

Somers Central School District (SCSD) had the fortune to host the Special Experimental High School (SDSZ, of Beijing Normal University) to visit and perform their arts program (dance, chorus and music instrument) at the Somers Middle School on January 29, 2010. As an exciting global exchange event, the SCSD mdidle school and high school students performed for the visitors and the visiting SDSZ group held a public performance at the SMS auditorium. The auditorium was filled to capacity with many dignitaries and school supporters attended including State Senator, Assemblyman, County Government and Somers Town Supervisor. SDSZ is not only a famous school with achievements, it is chartered to be a model school for China's public school systems in terms of pedagogy and education reform.
Beijing SDSZ Arts Performance
SDSZ Program Photo Gallery   (2/1/2010)

Be The Change for Kids

We are all concerned about the education for kids. "Be the Change for Kids" is the slogan of the New York State School Board Association. While NYSSBA is an organization supporting school boards and their members, its ultimate purpose is focused on kids' education. There are many issues facing our public schools and education in general. These issues are not just the school boards' concerns, they are really yours, parents and community residents. The school board need your inputs and support to weigh in on the issues and to find the right solutions. As the representative of Somers Central School District to the WPSBA (Westchester & Putnam County School Board Association) Legislative Action Committee, I urge you to pay attention, to get involved and to Be the Change for Kids. Please take four minutes to watch the following video and take an action.    

New Year Resolution - Race To The Top

The Federal Government proposed a federal program - Race To The Top with four billion dollars funding to help States to raise school standards, train effective teachers, build instruction data system and turn around low achieving schools. New York responded with an application for the RTTT funding seeking all schools to endorse and participate by signing a MOU by January 8th, 2010. We should all view this as a new year resolution for our public schools. Let's all work to race to the top! Somers Central School District for one will sign the MOU!

Do You Know Why Contract Negotiation with Teacher's Union Is So Difficult?

Any one who is concerned about school contract negotiation (ultimately impact your school tax) should read the article, BTA Negotiating Impasse Statement. It is a very well written document which lead you to understand how the process works and what are the crucial issues involved.  

Are Journalists Helping Education Enough?

The Brookings Report obviously believes that Journalism is not doing a fair share when comes to education both within K-12 and outside of K-12. I tend to agree with the assessment. The recent passage of Tier V Pension Law (vigorously lobbied by NYSUT) draws complaint hindsight may be attributed to the lack of effort on Journalists' part in dissecting the bill and making adequate reporting on the issue to the public to influence the legislators.  
A push for education journalism to think outside the K-12 box
McMahon: Teachers clean up on 'pension reform'

Should Our Law (Court) Always Side with Minority Interest Even at the Expense of the Majority's Rights?

The news below strikes me as another case a minority group or even a few individuals can make the law to deprive the rights of the majority in a public school system just to "uphold" a minority view which does not even benefit the minority necessarily. What harm might singing celebratory religious songs at Christmas time in a school concert do to the young minds? versus What harm might preaching acceptance (tolerance seems not enough) of false sex identity, unnatural sexual behavior and same sex 'marriage model' practiced by a minority do to the physical and mental development of all children? It is unbelievable how our law and constitution can be twisted by a few activists. 

NJ school's ban on religious songs upheld  (11/25/2009)

Beware of Misleading Data on School Spending

Though school spending per pupil in Westchester County are very high in general, the comparison between school districts in the county must be examined more carefully. For instance, the Somers Central School District's expense per pupil number calculated and reported included the entire capital expenditure (bond for construction) in 07-08 budget year which obviously skewed the data incorrectly. The following article pointed out such incorrect assessment.

Database lists local schools' spending (11/19/09)

Dropouts Are Serious Issues in Education

31% of students who didn't graduate in 2009 will cost the United States $335 billion -- as dropouts continue to earn less and face higher unemployment rates over their 50+ years of life span -- on top of the tax dollars wasted in schools. $260,000 is the estimated lifetime earnings difference between a high school dropout and a high school graduate. It is important for school administration to track students from elementary school to high school graduation to account for the effectiveness of our public education system.
Dropouts to cost state billions

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension depends on having prior knowledge of the subjects in the reading material. The only way of building prior knowledge on any subject is to read more on that subject. Hence a simple strategy of enhancing reading skill in students is to stimulate interests (curiosity or thirst of knowledge) in students in as many subjects as possible. Expose students to all sorts of interesting reading materials on a broad category of subjects from  newspapers, magazines and books will lead to good readers. That is good readers are well-read readers! I recommend all English teachers read Prof. Williamham's article.  

Healthcare Cost in School Systems

This Consrotium report contains some factual information.

More on "True Tolerance"

When children are still in physical and mental development stage, it is logical and safe for schools to take neutral and non-aggressive position in informing children about complex sex-identity issues. The following link, in my opinion, offers a simple, fair statement and a good advice to parents and children without being aggressive and narrow-minded.  

"Tolerence", "Mandatory", and "Democracy"
When a 3-2 vote of a school board elected by a small number of voters to 'mandate' a 'LBGT Lesson #9' to all kinder gardeners in public school under the banner of learning "Tolerance" along with the other behavior issues such as 'Bullying', it seems that we have a problem with our democracy. Often activists can mandate a minority will onto a silent majority through a "democracy". Is that the fault of our democracy? No, it is the fault of being silent. The following news in California perhaps can be a wake-up bell to the silent majority. The public education system needs a true majority to support it, to get involved with it and to express the majority voice about issues.
Mandatory 'Gay Day' for K-5 Students

Congratulations to all in the Somers School District for passing the school budget with >2:1 votes.

Rachel's Challenge - An Excellent School Seminar presented at Somers High School on 3/25/09. I enjoyed very much this Key Note on SHS seminar day. The messages were powerful. After listening to the presentation, we (my family) and many of the audience  all signed the banner to accept Rachel's five challenges: 1. find the best in others, 2. dare to dream, 3. choose positive influences - what goes in comes out, 4. Kind Words and 5. Start a Chain reaction - express compassion. If you missed this talk, you may visit the website at

Paterson proposes cutting state's teacher center; supporters to lobby March 24 in Albany (3/2/09)
The Teacher Center is a good concept, but its administration is failing it. Its strong tie with teacher's union discolors the objective of providing teacher's training and development. Like any other profession, teachers need training and skill upgrade to remain competent and competitive. Cutting the program is an irresponsible act of dodging the real issue - How can the State support an effective teachers' development program?  Can the State provide a single virtual Teacher Center for the entire State offering training programs, guided online study courses, and workshops and seminars in collaboration with the State University system, for instance?
Trimmed bill still offers vast sums for education (2/9/09) The stimulus plan passed by Senate contains a significant amount of funds for education, $83B for child care, public schools and universities. let's hope the funds will be spent wisely. All public schools should look out for any new federal program for education.  
Personal income decreased $25.3 billion, or 0.2 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) decreased $25.1 billion, or 0.2 percent, in December, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) decreased $102.4 billion, or 1.0 percent. The trend is worsening..... It is time for everyone to consider voluntary reduction of annual raises, benefits hike, discretionary increases and any bonuses. Let's give and share a little to ease the pain of job losses and financial troubles of many others. Let's start in schools, teach humanity and social conscience with examples.  
The full text of the release on BEA  
Global Barter Stimulus Program - An Idea Just May Work - by IFC
Quote from Dr. Wills, Superintendent of Briarcliff School District
"On Saturday, January 18, I spent some time in the morning in the middle school’s multi-purpose room, enjoying the celebration of Chinese New Year and graduation with the Chinese School that leases our facility. As I noted in my remarks to the celebrants on that day, the opportunity to maintain and celebrate individual culture and language is a wonderful and uniquely American vision of diversity and freedom. Meanwhile, at that same moment, in the middle school gym, youth basketball was in full swing, with fathers gathered to watch their sons play. In the high school, Varsity practice was in progress. Our schools are Briarcliff’s community center of activity and social networking, providing opportunities for friendship, comfortable familiarity and connection nourished in Briarcliff’s special small-town environment. These are the special qualities that we strive to sustain in a most challenging 2009-10 budget planning process."
-------------------------------Public Debate on the school facility usage fee
For the first time since a long while, there was a open debate in Somers Central School District School Board Meeting; the subject issue was debated on 1/13/09. The board is apparently not unanimous on the issue whether community non-profit organizations should be charged for their usage of school facilities. At the meeting, representatives of boy scouts and girl scouts have expressed their opinions eloquently.
"Someone said: Fiscal crisis is a terrible thing to waste"
"What New Yorkers should insist on is that the pain be shared fairly.
What they shouldn't tolerate is politics as usual ?even if they think it might help them in the short run. This crisis is a chance for the state to change its bad fiscal habits, which it has to, even as it distinguishes itself as a place that still cares, which it must."
Summary of Local Government Efficiency (LGE) Workshop (10/14/08)
LGE is a New York State Grant Program evolved from SMSI (Shared Municipal Services Incentive Program) designed to encourage operational efficiency and savings through consolidated and shared services.......
The grant has 4 categories: .........
As for what areas may be of interest to Town of Somers and Somers Central School District, ..............
This summary is published in; for more information about LGE visit  
Freedom of Expression
(Dow Jones Newswires 05:41 AM ET 01/05/2009)
Google Inc'A' (GOOG) (328.05 +6.73)
SHANGHAI (AFP)--China announced Monday it was cracking down on major Web sites, including search engine giants Google and Baidu,over the spread of pornography and other material that could corrupt young people. China's Ministry of Public Security and six other government agencies announced the crackdown at a meeting Monday, the official China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre said in a statement. "For those Web sites that repeatedly ignore warnings, we will publicize a few, punish a few and even close down a few," Cai Mingzhao, deputy chief of the cabinet's Information Office, said in the statement. Cai said some Web sites had taken advantage of government policies and loopholes to publish "low-class, crude and even vulgar contents, which severely corrupted the public mentality." "The vulgar trend has deeply harmed the mental and physical health of young generation...Many parents are calling out: 'Save our children'
More (1/6/09)
COPA dies quietly in Supreme Court
(1/22/09, A federal law intended to restrict children's access to internet pornography died quietly Jan. 21 at the U.S. Supreme Court, more than 10 years after Congress overwhelmingly approved it.)
Should Teachers Be Permitted to Wear Political Buttons in Schools
Teachers Union can endorse a political candidate but is wrong to urge teachers to wear a political button which supports a political candidate. Schools are for learning, not a political forum; teaching American political process and democracy must refrain from preaching or giving any partisan statement. Wearing a candidate's button is making a biased political statement which is clearly violating the law. It is amazing that Randi Weingarten is fighting a DOE decision on this issue.  
Education officials clamp down on teachers' political buttons
A Splendid PTA Idea - Soup Day
A bunch of parents (Helen et al) organized a wonderful event at Somers Intermediate School, called Soup Day. The PTA volunteers cooked several kinds of delicious soup using the vegetables planted and harvested at SIS by its students. The soups with a variety of breads are served on 9/26 to the entire student body from 3rd to 5th grade. Telling the children about eating healthy and conscious of environment preservation, the soups were served with bowls made of sugar cane, spoons made of potato and napkins made of recycled paper. Witnessing the kids and the Moms (also Dads) having a great time and a learning experience at this event, I must say out loud, caring and volunteering (parents) are the best medicine for our schools and our kids. 
SIS Principal, Mr. Griffiths took a few photos for this event.  
Classroom breakfast a hit with pupils (A news article of interest)
A free volunteer afterschool program for developing children's learning habits through game playing will be offered at the Somers Intermediate School this coming Fall (2008). The focus will be introducing SIS students the Award-Winning National School Scrabble Annual Tournament for 5-8th graders. Children will be encouraged to play Scrabble and develop vocabulary learning skills (which are also critical in winning Scrabble Games and  Tournaments). The children-oriented Scrammble Tic-tac-toe, Scrammble Go-Fish, Scrammble Mastermind and Scrammble Word games invented by Somers Resident Dr. Wordman will be used to help children develop vocabulary learning and spelling skills. Starting from 3-5th grade, children can develop a life-long critical learning skill through these games,  which also can help them win the National School Scrabble Tournament if they wanted to participate when they reach 5-8th grade. In Middle school they can continue to form a NSS club to continue the games. (8/28/08)
-------------------------------------------- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2005 and 2006, five New Jersey teenagers were killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents in prom and graduation season; in Connecticut, one teenager was killed in 2006, down from two in 2005. The Century Council in Washington said that in 2006, 714 youths under 21 died nationally in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in April, May and June.
-------------------------------------------- Advanced Placement, Computer- based teaching and learning, encouraging kids to learn in different and more effective ways...Harvard professors' article resonates with Ifay Chang's views while he was developing I-CARE (Internet Cyberspace Assisted Responsive Education). There are issues, however, one most critical is how to motivate teachers to embrace computer and technologies so they can motivate their students to learn more and better. This is an Issue NY State Teacher Centers ought to focus on in close collaboration with school districts. 
Is it a joke or truth? The secret of Bernanke’s success: School board service (8/18/08)
Intel et al awarded six best schools in math and science instruction:
Schools that received math recognition were Sojourner School in Milwaukee, Ore.; DeLay Middle School in Lewisville, Texas; and Sabino High School in Tucson, Ariz.
Schools that received science recognition were Laguna Elementary School in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Key Peninsula Middle School in Lakebay, Wash.; and Townsend Harris High School in Flushing, N.Y.
The winners received their larger-than-life checks of $10,000 from the Intel Foundation and an award package that includes curriculum materials, professional development resources, hardware, and software valued at more than $160,000.

About IFC's Educational Interest

Word Puzzles for SIS Students
After School Word Games geared for National School Scrabble Competition See above and  call SIS office
Supplemental Teaching Material Prepared for SIS 4th Grade Science
Community Education - Scrammble Word Game Tournament and TV Show
IFC's Bio's
IFC's Publications
Short story - Blue Golf Ball for Christmas
Short story - Outopians
Teaching Web Site for Northern Westchester Chinese Language School
Ifay Chang's Work at TLC Information Services and Its Public Web Sites

Federal Resources for Education - Lesson Plans on Various Subjects


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