This is Binney Park one hour before midnight. I can’t imagine what the toll this flood must be exacting on everything south of the village.
Archive for the ‘General’ Category
Tremendous devastation in OG.
Big tree down on Lockwood Road, between Hearthstone and Winthrop. Lockwood is barely passable.
Another tree down at Summit blocking the road to Riverside school.
Tree down on Lower Hendrie Avenue. Several houses, including mine, lost power.
A neighbor called and told me to look out my window (I live within full view of Binney Park). I could not believe it. Even before a single drop of rain late this morning, Binney Park was already flooded, Arch Street underpass was closed … yikes.
Porricelli’s Market sold its last quart of milk in Old Greenwich today after 60 years. Greenwich Tavern served its last martini last night and will re-open in two weeks as a latino bistro.
I am looking forward to King’s, which has a great reputation in New Jersey as a modern grocer. And the owners of Greenwich Tavern are defaulting to their inner calling as successful purveyors of latin cuisine, such as Sonora in Port Chester and Pacifico in New Haven. Hooray! The new restaurant on the Post Road opposite the Mobil station will open Saturday Sept. 29. I’ll be the first in line. King’s will open on Friday Sept. 28.
Meanwhile, Lisa Eisenman has been busy re-making her half of the former Kerr’s Pharmacy on Sound beach Avenue into a flower shop which also will open in late September. That was also the location of a store called Fred, which enjoyed its 15 minutes of fame in the village before calling it quits. A much-needed bakery is slated to take the other half later this year. OG hasn’t been the same since the closing of Beyond Bread. Looking forward to what the new bakery can offer.
The frozen yogurt shop on lower Sound Beach finally opened. Just in time for winter. Timing is everything. Oh well. We now have three frozen yogurt/ice cream joints, five dry cleaners and the ever superfluous Dunkin Donuts which I have never set foot in … and never will.
We have 10 banks in Cos Cob, five dry cleaners in OG. Does this town have a planning department?
Meanwhile, the colossal, half-built edifice next to Feinsod’s shows no activity; the putrid yellow Tybek insulation blinds me every time I drive by. I tried calling the number posted on the fence, but no one ever answers.
Lastly, Arcadia Cafe appears to be in irons, waiting for the right investors who will buy into its vision. I heard a plan to include a game room in the new restaurant. A game room? No wonder they can’t get investors.
So we beat on …
The worst performing schools in Greenwich are getting even worse. And while it would be convenient to blame it on the “Achievement Gap,” schools in Bridgeport that are poorer with a larger minority population are out scoring several Greenwich schools in a comparison of statewide test scores just released.
New Lebanon School is now ranked 295 out of 523 elementary schools in Connecticut, according to a computerized comparison of the most recent state test scores. That is 31 positions worse than last year. Hamilton Avenue is ranked 273, dropping 16 positions, and Julian Curtiss stayed in 184th place.
Bridgeport’s magnet elementary school ranked 241, more than 50 places better than New Lebanon. The prevailing definition of “achievement gap” assumes that poorer and more ethnically mixed schools perform worse academically. So this is why the following statistics are so shocking.
- Bridgeport’s magnet students are so poor that an astonishing 99 percent of them qualify for free or discounted lunches, while only 48.9 percent of the students at New Leb do.
- Bridgeport Magnet’s African American population is 24.6 percent, while New Leb is 3.7 percent.
- Bridgeport school’s hispanic population? 59.4 percent. New Lebanan? 50.2 percent.
- New Leb’s percentage of whites? 42.5 percent. Bridgeport? 14.1 percent.
- Bridgeport’s teacher-student ratio? 14 to 1. New Leb’s? 10 to 1.
Now consider Western Middle School.
Western is ranked 131 out of 266 middle schools in the state, testing lower than schools in Norwalk, Stamford and at least one in Bridgeport. High Horizons School in Bridgeport is one of the poorest middle schools in Connecticut, with 88 percent of its students qualified for free or discounted lunches. And yet it was able to out perform Western Middle School in both math and reading.
There is absolutely no defense for this. Consider:
- Western has only 30 percent of its students on a free or discounted lunch program.
- Western has a hispanic student population of 29 percent, but the Bridgeport school has 38 percent hispanics.
- Western has an African American population of 5.9 percent while High Horizons has 44 percent African Americans.
- Western has a teacher-student ratio of 12-1; Bridgeport is 18-1.
- Both schools are about same size: Western 490, and High Horizons 432.
You simply can’t explain the problem away in Greenwich by blaming it on ethnicity or on the influx of non-English speaking students, which is what the current superintendent and his predecessor were happy to whisper to any of the mostly sympathetic PTA types. Only 14.6 percent of High Horizons students are white, while Western has a white population of 57.1 percent.
The Havemeyer crowd plays the achievement gap card with a svengalian repose: “Yes, it’s terrible that the minority students in Byram are so under-performing. Yes, of course, we will do our best to reverse that trend. But understand that the rest of the district is doing just fine … and oh, that is not saying we will not do our best to reverse the gap. But it’s a tough one, all right. But rest assured, most of the Greenwich schools are still top notch.”
News flash to the school board: whether you like it or not, Byram is a part of Greenwich.
Western was the subject of news articles last month when interim superintendent Roger Lulow disclosed to the Greenwich Time that erstwhile superintendent Sidney Freund had deliberately rejected federal Title I funds so that parents could not transfer their children out of Western as would have been allowed under the “No Child Left Behind” mandate when a school fails. This was a classic Freund maneuver. Once he understood the challenge, instead of attacking it head on, he pulled a flanking maneuver. He managed expectations rather than performance.
Lulow served Greenwich well. He was an honest broker. We are forever indebted to him for his important year of service. He brought dignity back to the institution known as public eduction. When he uncovered Freund’s undisclosed maneuver – another in a long line of such – he went public. He could have easily overlooked it. He had the word “interim” in front of his title and retirement beckoned. But with only days before leaving, he went public. Amazing.
Now we will see if William S. McKersie is an honest broker.
So far, his public, Freund-esque statements have not been encouraging, especially when he was clearly being managed by the canned Havemeyer PR machine. He put his name on a July press release which was spin-cast at best and outright fabrication at worst. Greenwich public schools are not getting better. They are getting worse.
The teachers who get the best salaries in Connecticut must be held accountable. The school board must be held accountable. And McKersie had better get started on the task at hand – to arrest the free fall in the quality of the schools in Byram and adjacent neighborhoods.
Last year, the state Board of Education took the Bridgeport public schools into receivership. Now that an entire section of Greenwich is under-performing even Bridgeport, could the state come in and take over those schools from our incompetent school board?
It’s an interesting question isn’t it?
Last week was yet another low for the Greenwich Public Schools.
On Friday, Greenwich Time columnist Bob Horton disclosed that Greenwich was targeting renters for “illegal” residency. Bob made a strong case for why this was a fool’s errand. The cost of the investigations far out-weighed the actual benefit.
But from my POV, Greenwich is a lawsuit away from another national embarrassment — the richest community on the planet profiling its most vulnerable residents. This time it won’t be about just beach rights.
By targeting renters, Greenwich is also targeting minorities and low income families. This is the brainchild of Steve Anderson, the deposed chair of the Board of Education who continues to wreak havoc on our reputation, our sensibility as a community and our schools. (Why is he still on the board?)
Speaking of our schools, this is the season of discontent and of manipulation of the facts.
Here is the ritual:
Every year in July, the state government releases the statewide test scores. But they give the school districts an early look. That way, districts like Greenwich, which actually employs a public relations person on staff, has the time to spin the story.
Every year they come out with a glossy press release patting themselves on the back for achievements in standardized test scores. Except that it’s a lie. It takes journalists and other watchdogs a few days to figure out the facts.
It took the Greenwich Time three days to do the analysis. It was pretty ugly. Greenwich continues to rank at the bottom of its peer group.
What was shocking was that he had an opinion at all. Five days into the job, he already had an opinion about the test scores which he had nothing to do with and which he had no authority to offer any kind of informed view.
I have seen this picture before. I spent 17 years in Boston and witnessed first hand the tribal politics of a dysfunctional city. The new superintendent from the archdiocese of Boston gave me pause. One month into the job and he has confirmed my worst fears – that the BOE has once again hired a mouthpiece instead of a serious educator. I hope I am wrong. I am not encouraged by his early comments. The only thing at stake is our children’s future and our nation’s future.
I got the call from Peter Tesei tonight at 7:38 to warn me about the dangerous storms headed my way.
At 7:39 p.m., the National Weather Service called off the severe weather warnings!
But hey, thanks for the heads-up, Peter.
Glad you’re on the case!