02/04/2014 9:27 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen.

UPDATE

The Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education unanimously approved the new contract for superintendent Steven Cohen.

ORIGINAL STORY

Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen is expected to be appointed to a new three-year term at tonight’s Board of Education meeting.  (more…)

12/10/13 12:00pm

The Shoreham-Wading River Central School District is releasing its students from class 90 minutes earlier today due to inclement weather, Superintendent Steven Cohen said Tuesday.

Both Shoreham-Wading River Central School District and Riverhead Central School District have cancelled all after-school activities today due to the dangerous conditions.

The Riverhead School Board is still scheduled to meet tonight at 7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

11/27/13 9:00am
11/27/2013 9:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen.

RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen.

The New York State Board of Regents insists the state’s public school students are not “College and Career Ready.” They claim that public school students are not prepared for the rigors of college reading or mathematics. And, since these skills are thought somehow to be crucial to getting a good-paying job, New York’s public school students who do poorly in mathematics and reading are believed to be in danger of becoming unemployable (or at least underemployed).

However, what seems like a simple, straightforward notion — that high school graduates ought to be ready for college and the world of work — turns out to be something quite different. And by that, I mean the announced public school goal of graduating students “College and Career Ready” is yet another sleight of hand from the Board of Regents.

First, consider exactly how the Board of Regents defines “College and Career Ready.”

If a student passes an algebra test in 8th or 9th grade at a level that correlates to a C in freshman mathematics in college, and if that same student passes an English test in 11th grade at a level correlated with a C in freshman English in college, along with earning 22 credits in high school and passing three other Regents exams, then she or he is set and ready to go to college and into the world of work.

No music, art, advanced study in much of anything; no community service, no sports, no occupational training; no independent work in any academic or other creative field is required. In addition, to do well on these tests, it is not necessary to read entire novels or histories or write papers of any length or complexity. It is not necessary to develop a love of anything or demonstrate an ability to think on one’s own feet.

Second, note that 16 of the 17 Board of Regents members, in addition to the commissioner of education himself, send their children to private schools — ones that have not embraced the reforms the Board of Regents and the commissioner claim are needed to make students “College and Career Ready.” I mention this fact because its relevance becomes obvious once one understands what “College and Career Ready” means for the children of our educational leaders. You see, the colleges that the children of Regents and commissioners of education are expected to attend, places like Harvard University, define “College and Career Ready” differently.

To be “College Ready” at Harvard (and at other selective private universities to which Regents send their children) an 18-year old must have a “good high school education,” one that “do[es] more than prepare you for the next level of  education.” A “good” high school education “should prepare you to take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.” Specifically, graduating high school “college ready” to enter Harvard requires “close and extensive reading of the classics of world literature,” four years of a single foreign language, three years of American history, European history and one other advanced history course, four years of mathematics including at least pre-calculus or statistics, advanced physics, chemistry and biology and one other science at an advanced level and “frequent practice in the writing of expository prose.” Art and music, though not mentioned specifically, are not to be understood as incidental to proper preparation for college.

So it turns out that “College and Career Ready” means two different things depending on whether you are a public school student in New York or a student at an expensive private school. “College and Career Ready” for public school kids means achieving at a decidedly mediocre level when compared to the expectations the Regents have for their own children. Perhaps that’s one reason they would never send them to schools that are benefiting from their wonderful reforms.

For “College and Career Ready,” once one digs a bit below the surface, suggests readying public school students for work that does not demand advanced learning in anything and is not oriented toward preparing students to “take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.” No, these loftier expectations, and the courses and other resources needed to achieve them, are to be reserved for students not subject to the glories of the Regents Reform Agenda, students whose parents have the money and connections to keep them out of the public school system.

Most new jobs created in our economy are low-paying service jobs. We should be concerned that “College and Career Ready” actually refers to a curriculum that guides public school students to these jobs, leaving the few good jobs to students who receive a private high school education that prepares them to “take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.”

Make no mistake about it, “College and Career Ready” is code for education apartheid. Do not let your children breathe the stale air of low expectations, reduced exposure to the arts and music, limited engagement with sophisticated science and little, if any, prolonged, deep and thoughtful contact with great literature.

“College and Career Ready” is a trap. Don’t fall for it. Your kids deserve better. Just like theirs.

Steven R. Cohen, Ph.D., is superintendent of schools for Shoreham-Wading River School District.

09/24/2013 12:02 PM

JOE WERKMEISTER FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River High School.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board will vote on a resolution calling on state and federal officials to end the over-reliance on standardized testing at tonight’s Board of Education meeting. The board is also expected to vote on a resolution asking state and federal officials to re-examine New York state’s accountability systems.

Recently, both the Riverhead and Southold school boards took similar action.

The Shoreham school board is also expected to discuss a security improvement proposal at tonight’s meeting. In January, the district hired two security guards after a SWR parent raised concerns at an open forum on district security, Superintendent Steven Cohen said at the time. A head security guard was also chosen this winter to review the district’s security policies and improve them.

Tonight’s board meeting takes place at 8 p.m. in the high school library.

ryoung@timesreview.com

SWR School Board Agenda 09/24/13

09/24/13 10:50am
COURTESY PHOTO | Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić speaks on Monday at Wardenclyffe.

COURTESY PHOTO | Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić speaks on Monday at Wardenclyffe.

After purchasing the site of Nikola Tesla’s final laboratory in May following a viral online fundraiser, a Shoreham nonprofit welcomed the President of Serbia to unveil a statue dedicated to the Serbian scientist on Monday.

President Tomislav Nikolić – in the country as the United Nations General Assembly met on Monday – offered the statue as a gift from his country. The bronze sculpture which stands on a granite base, crafted by Serbian artist Nikola Jankovic, faces Route 25A at the lab’s site in Shoreham, known as Wardenclyffe, depicting Tesla looking down at his hands.

Jane Alcorn, president of the nonprofit which owns the land, said on Tuesday that the event was “astounding,” drawing close to 300 people including local – and with Nikolic on site, international – politicians alike. Music was played during the ceremony by members of Shoreham-Wading River High School, a Serbian violinist, as well.

“They are very proud of their most famous son,” Alcorn said.

Leading up to the May purchase of Wardenclyffe, web comic Matt Inman, who was also present at Monday’s ceremony, spearheaded a campaign to help the nonprofit raise the funds necessary to purchase the 15.6-acre site. Nearly $1.4 million was raised, and in May, Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe bought the land for $850,000, nearly half of the original asking price.

Alcorn said today that moving forward, the nonprofit is working on rehabbing the buildings and long-term, they hope to partner with Stony Brook University to offer science courses on site. The organization has said in the past that in order to achieve its long-term goals, as much as $10 million could need to be raised.

jpinciaro@timesreview.com

Watch a video of Monday’s event, courtesy of RememberTesla.com, below

Video streaming by Ustream

08/20/13 12:00pm
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO  |  Jack Costas (Center) discusses the new requirements to have proposition construction worked approved by the state at Tuesday night's meeting.

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River school board is expected to discuss a proposed reorganization plan Tuesday night.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board is expected to continue its discussion tonight of  a plan to reorganize the district’s elementary schools.

The proposal would divide students, with all kindergarteners going to Briarcliff school, grades 1-3 attending school at Miller Avenue and grades 4 and 5 moving to the Wading River school. The proposal is known as the “Princeton Plan.”

In addition, the school board is expected to replace William Bushman, assistant superintendent for human resources, with current assistant superintendent Lou Curra on an interim basis.

Last Tuesday, the Smithtown school board appointed Mr. Bushman as the district’s new assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services.

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Check back later for an update.

Shoreham-Wading River school board meeting agenda, Aug. 20, 2013

08/18/13 4:15pm
COURTESY FILE PHOTO | Students from Shoreham-Wading River’s Global Awareness Club in Meru, Kenya, in 2011.

COURTESY FILE PHOTO | Students from Shoreham-Wading River’s Global Awareness Club in Meru, Kenya, in 2011.

A Shoreham-Wading River High School student won a $10,000 grant last month and plans to donate the money to help an orphanage in Kenya.

Julie Lindell, 17, volunteers in the school’s Global Awareness Club and is involved with Hope Children’s Fund, a nonprofit organization that operates an orphanage in Meru, Kenya.

Amway, a worldwide distribution company, awarded 10 grants last month in its annual Amway’s Who Cares Challenge: Youth Leadership Contest. Each winner received $10,000 to give to the nonprofit organization of their choice, according to Amway’s website.

“The children already have the motivation and foundation for success and with a solid education they will have the ability to go out into the world, support themselves and give back to their community,” Julie wrote in her entry essay, called “A Helping Hand for Hope. “The children have hearts of gold and with an education they will be able to combine the two to do incredible things and change the future of Kenya and their communities.”

jennifer@timesreview.com

07/24/13 9:15am
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | SWR Superintendent Steven Cohen explains some of the changes the district is considering.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | SWR Superintendent Steven Cohen explains some of the changes the district is considering.

Briarcliff Elementary School as a kindergarten-only building. Online courses in the middle and high schools. Sorting students through the district’s elementary schools by grade, not location.

It may be the early planning stages, but these were some of the ideas the Shoreham-Wading River school board floated to the public at an open forum held at the board’s meeting Tuesday night.

The mid-summer discussion was designed to get parents and community members talking about ways to “preserve district programs” while also cutting back on costs and keeping the district under the state’s tax levy cap.

The plans, if approved by the board, would not be implemented until at least the 2015-16 school year.

Board members cautioned that districts across Long Island were at a “tipping point” and were having to make decisions about where to cut spending.

Because the district has roughly $9 million remaining in reserve funds and another $9 million due from prior un-awarded state aid, school officials said the district has another two or three years left before those funds run out and the district must begin cutting programs.

School board trustees said they hope to have a plan in place by then that would limit the damage.

“Any change requires sacrifice from the community,” said school board vice president John Zukowski “The community has to decide what it’s willing to sacrifice to keep our programs and whether or not it’s worth it.”

One of the proposals discussed at the forum was the “Princeton Plan,” a system that would divide students up between the district’s elementary schools by grade. All kindergarteners would attend Briarcliff, while all grades 1-3 would attend Miller Avenue school with all of grades 4 and 5 in Wading River Elementary.

Superintendent Steven Cohen said the plan would keep average class sizes the same, but would allow the district to eliminate clerical and teaching positions that would be deemed as excess after the switch.

However, some district parents at the meeting said they were wary of such a plan because of increased times on bus schedules and asked for the board to consider other options.

Mr. Cohen said the district had not yet determined how much would be saved under such a plan, adding that the idea was “not set in stone, or even ink.”

The superintendent also raised the idea of collaborating with local school districts to use online learning to save electives that might have otherwise been dropped due to lack of enrollment.

District officials said even if online courses were approved, teachers would be used in the classroom to re-enforce the material.

Discussions about the district’s plans, as well as a potential school bond to pay for repairs at the district’s buildings, will continue into the fall, school officials said.

“We have to keep in mind the melancholy reality that the changes are going to happen,” Mr. Cohen said. “Our choice is for us to be in control of that process or for us to be passive and be forced to do something that we’re not going to like.”

psquire@timesreview.com