Friday, December 28, 2012

Position Announcement: Engineering Education (Open Rank- University of Texas at Austin's College of Education)

The following position is available at The University of Texas at Austin. This is an open rank position in Engineering Education and the position is offered from the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Any specific questions on the position to be directed to Dr. Jill Marshall ( who is the co-Chair of the faculty search along with Dr. Susan Empson ( Other information for applicants can be viewed at the end of the ad. To be clear, I am NOT on the Search Committee for this position. -Dr. Petrosino

Job Type: Tenured/Tenure Track
Job Rank: Rank Open
Job ID: (0) 10010400001
College: Education
Department/Unit: Curriculum and Instruction
Department/Unit URL:
Closing Date: Until Filled
Field of Specialization: Engineering Education

Job Description:
The Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Texas at Austin invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position, or a tenured Associate or Full Professor position with a specialization in Engineering Education (K-16) beginning in Fall 2013. The rank depends upon the candidate's qualifications. REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS: • A doctorate in Engineering Education, Learning Sciences, or related field • Demonstrated excellence or potential for excellence in research and teaching DESIRABLE QUALIFICATIONS: • Funded or externally fundable research program • Teaching Experience (K-12) Any programmatic research agenda in STEM education will be considered but preference will be given to those that complement and extend existing faculty's expertise and focus on access to quality STEM curriculum and instruction for populations historically underserved by the education system. Successful candidates will be expected to teach undergraduate courses in our teacher certification programs and graduate courses in our STEM Education graduate programs (including research methods courses in the department of Curriculum and Instruction). Above all, we seek a talented, productive scholar to join a faculty committed to innovative and socially responsive research and teaching in graduate and undergraduate programs in STEM Education with strong ties to the College of Natural Sciences and the Cockrell School of Engineering, over 50 full-time graduate students, two nationally recognized teacher certification programs, including UTeach (7-12) and the Laptop Initiative for Future Educators (K-6), and a location in a diverse, rapidly growing, urban setting. This position offers a unique combination of opportunities for interdisciplinary inquiry, design-based research, program development, and impact on schools. The department of Curriculum and Instruction has a strong commitment to issues of equity in education, effective and innovative learning technology, and field-based teacher education.

Applicant Instructions:
Please submit a cover letter addressing the required and preferred qualifications, a curriculum vitae, a statement of teaching philosophy and research interests, and three letters of recommendation to: ATTN: STEM EDUCATION SEARCH/Engineering Education 1912 Speedway, Stop D5700 The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1293 USA. Electronic submissions should be sent c/o Ann Ford []. Review of applications will begin November 15, 2012. Applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Position Announcement: Associate/Full Professor of Engineering Education

What follows is a senior position in Engineering Education that is being offered at The University of Texas at Austin via the Cockrell School of Engineering. I am on the search committee and am looking forward to an exciting search this Spring. If you are interested, please apply. Also, please forward to people you think may have an interest in such a position. -Dr. Petrosino 

Associate/Full Professor of Engineering Education
The Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin is seeking highly qualified applicants for a faculty position in Engineering Education. A visionary leader in the field of engineering education is sought to initiate new programs and strengthen existing initiatives.  A PhD in engineering, engineering education, or related discipline is required, with a record qualifying for tenure in the Cockrell School of Engineering.   Applicants must have an outstanding record of research accomplishments, a strong interest in graduate teaching, undergraduate teaching, and engineering education outreach, and a vision for the growth of the field of engineering education.  A successful candidate is expected to perform research and develop sponsored programs that promote discovery, learning and engagement in engineering education and is expected to promote the development of engineering education programs.  Candidates must also be involved in service to the university and the profession.  Interested persons should submit, in electronic form, a detailed curriculum vitae including academic and professional experience, statements regarding their teaching philosophy and research plans, a list of peer reviewed publications and other professional contributions, and the names and contact information for five or more references to: Professor David Allen, Gertz Regents Professor in Chemical Engineering; Chair, Engineering Education Faculty Search Committee; Cockrell School of Engineering; University of Texas at Austin (

The University of Texas is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.  This position has been designated as security-sensitive, and a criminal background check will be conducted on the applicants selected.

Friday, November 30, 2012

An Urgent Call to Action from Michigan Superintendent Rob Glass

If you or anyone you know and care about live in Michigan, or if you care whatsoever about the public school system in this country--or, for that matter, education of our children in general--I urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to read up on Michigan State House Bills 6004 & 5923, and State Senate Bills 1358 & 620. 

If you think I'm over-hyping this issue, read the following letter, posted earlier today on the Bloomfield Hills School District website by superintendent Rob Glass. I repeat: This was posted by the superintendent of the BLOOMFIELD HILLS SCHOOL DISTRICT.

Superintendent Rob Glass is NOT known for panicking or over-hyping issues, and I guarantee you that he's gonna catch a lot of flack for speaking out so strongly on a political issue--especially speaking out against a series of bills being pushed--HARD--by Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican-held state legislature and other constituents on the right. Certainly worth a read---  -Dr. Petrosino 

An urgent call to action from Superintendent Rob Glass

Posted: November 28, 2012

Dear Parents and Citizens: This is an urgent call to action affecting your Bloomfield Hills Schools and public education in Michigan. A package of bills designed to corporatize and dismantle public education is being hastily pushed through this current ‘lame duck’ legislative session. If we do not take immediate action, I believe great damage will be done to public education, including our school system. We have just three weeks to take action before it’s too late. The bills are:
  • House Bill 6004 and Senate Bill 1358- Would expand a separate and statewide school district (the EAA) overseen by a governor-appointed chancellor and functioning outside the authority of the State Board of Education or state school superintendent. These schools are exempt from the same laws and quality measures of community-governed public schools. The EAA can seize unused school buildings (built and financed by local taxpayers) and force sale or lease to charter, non-public or EAA schools.
  • House Bill 5923- Creates several new forms of charter and online schools with no limit on the number. Bundled with HB 6004/SB1358, many of these schools could be created by the EAA. Public schools are not allowed to create these new schools unless they charter them. Selective enrollment/dis-enrollment policies will likely lead to greater segregation in our public schools. This bill creates new schools without changing the overall funding available, further diluting resources for community-governed public schools.
  • Senate Bill 620- Known as the ‘Parent Trigger’ bill, this would allow the lowest achieving 5% of schools to be converted to a charter school while allowing parents or teachers to petition for the desired reform model. This bill will not directly affect our district, but disenfranchises voters, ends their local control, and unconstitutionally hands taxpayer-owned property over to for-profit companies. Characterized as parent-empowerment, this bill does little to develop deep, community-wide parent engagement and organization.
I’ve never considered myself a conspiracy theorist—until now. This package of bills is the latest in a yearlong barrage of ideologically-driven bills designed to weaken and defund locally-controlled public education, handing scarce taxpayer dollars over to for-profit entities operating under a different set of rules. I believe this is fundamentally wrong. State School Superintendent Mike Flanagan and State Board of Education President John Austin and others have also expressed various concerns, as has the Detroit Free Press.
We embrace change, innovation and personalization. We’re passionate about providing choices and options for students. We compete strongly in the educational marketplace. We must never stop improving. This is not a laissez faire plea to defend the status quo. This is about making sure this tidal wave of untested legislation does not sweep away the valued programs our local community has proudly built into its cherished school system. If you are concerned about these bills, please do the following:
  1. Attend one of the following grassroots legislative meetings.
  2. Stay informed by registering for updates through ‘Capwiz.’
  3. Call and e-mail your legislator and respectfully ask them to OPPOSE these bills (see contact information below).
  4. Enlist ten others to do the same, and please remain active.
Public education in Michigan can and must remain strong, but it will only happen if we act NOW.
Legislative Contact information
Governor Rick Snyder P. O. Box 30013 Lansing, MI 48909 Email Address: 517.335.7858 (Constituent Services)
41st State Rep District (Troy) Representative Marty Knollenberg (R) N0890 House Office Building P. O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909 E-mail Address:  517.373.1783
13th State Senate District (City BH) Senator John Pappageorge (R) 1020 Farnum Building PO Box 30036 Lansing, MI 48909-7536 E-mail Address:  517.373.2523
40th State Rep District (Blmf Twp/City) Representative Chuck Moss ( R) S0889 House Office Building PO Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909 Email Address:  517.373.8670
15th State Senate District (West Bloomfield) Senator Mike Kowall 305 Farnum Building P. O. Box 30036 Lansing, MI 48909 E-mail Address:  517.373.1758
39th State Rep District (West Bloomfield) Representative Lisa Brown (D) S0888 House Office Building P. O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909-7514 E-mail Address:  517.373.1799
Picture: Hoboken Train Station during "Sandy" 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

AERA Session Accepted: Conditions for Establishing and Promoting Collaborative Research in STEM Learning Ecologies

Site of AERA 2013
Below is the official email confirming that a session I am part of got accepted to the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) which will be held in San Francisco in the spring of 2013. -Dr. Petrosino 

Dear Dr. Anthony Petrosino,

I am pleased to inform you that the session submission, "Conditions for Establishing and Promoting Collaborative Research in STEM Learning Ecologies," submitted for consideration for the 2013 AERA Annual Meeting has been accepted, as a roundtable session. Congratulations on this accomplishment. AERA received more than 13,000 submissions this year. To ensure the highest quality sessions at the Annual Meeting, your submission was reviewed by highly qualified reviewers serving on a review panel constituted by the Division C - Learning and Instruction/Section 1d: Science. Reviewers' comments are now available on the All Academic System for your use.  

All participants in your session will be copied on this notification. However, I encourage you, as session organizer, to share this exciting news with your colleagues. The online searchable program, which will include information on the date, time, and location of your session, will be available in early February.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that all participants in an accepted session (excluding the chair and any discussants) are required to submit a paper or commentary paper by April 5, 2013, the deadline for uploading final papers.  Papers or commentary papers for symposia are not limited in length but may be shorter than final full papers.  Commentary papers need to address all of the elements required for paper submissions. The All Academic System will  reopen in February so that presenters at your session may upload a copy of their paper or commentary paper. Access to uploaded papers is available to all session participants. 

AERA in addition encourages presenters of papers or commentary papers to participate voluntarily in the AERA Online Paper Repository. You and all presenters in your session will receive detailed information about the Online Repository when you receive notification that the All Academic System is open to upload final papers.

Copies of all 2013 Annual Meeting program related e-mail correspondence sent from the All Academic System are available online in your personal "Message Center." This link is available below the Submitter menu of the All Academic System once you have signed in. 

The Early Bird Pre-registration and hotel reservation for the 2013 Annual Meeting will open in mid-December. Please plan on registering early to take advantage of the early bird rate and select the hotel of your choice. 

If you have any questions, please contact the AERA Meetings Team at or 202-238-3200.  We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.


Kristen Renn
AERA General Program Chair

Monday, November 26, 2012

Some Tips for Writing an NSF Grant Proposal

The following are some key points and tips for submitting successful National Science Foundation grant proposals. I've created this site for some of my graduate students as well as early career people in the field. I hope to add more to it in the weeks to follow. Note- do to some restrictions, I cannot post actual NSF proposals.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) does not require principal investigators to have doctorates. Some grantees are adjunct faculty members or individuals with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Whatever an applicant’s academic credentials, he or she should clearly explain what qualifies them to lead the proposed initiative.
In addition, the NSF does not have specific diversity requirements. Its broad definition of diversity goes beyond ethnicity and race to encompass low-income students, individuals with disabilities, and women in fields where they have been historically underrepresented. 
The NSF does fund equipment purchases when applicants can justify the expenditures as critical to overall project success.

To prepare exemplary NSF grant applications, one should follow these recommendations 

I am also including this excellent summary on writing an NSF proposal from Dr. Cindy Grimm that is very thoughtful and accurate and well worth your time and effort reviewing. 

How to write an NSF proposal by Cindy Grimm

Or more accurately, how not to write one...The following is my take on what makes a successful NSF proposal. Or rather, a list of things all successful proposals seem to have, and a list of things that killed proposals. I've sat on numerous NSF panels, and for the last couple of panels I've been trying to "step outside" the process and see what made reviewers rank proposals highly, and what irritated them and resulted in lower scores.

Obviously, if you don't have a good research idea, you are very unlikely to get funded. However, having a good idea is not a guarantee of funding - you have to sell that idea, and your ability to do it, to the reviewers. Unfortunately, you can't just put up a sign that says "Will do Good Research for funding". So. Assuming that you have a good idea, this document is designed to help you put it on paper in a form that will minimize the chance of it getting rejected for some of the more easily avoidable reasons.

Writing grants is frustrating. There are a lot of good ideas that don't get funded. I'd say, that of the grants I've read, a good 1/2 of them should have been funded, when only 1/8 or 1/10 were actually funded (take it up with the Senate Appropriations Committee). What ended up separating the top 10% from the top 30% was the clarity and completeness of the proposal more than the research ideas themselves.

Be critical of your ideas, and only write up ideas you're passionate about. It takes a lot of time and effort to write up a good proposal; don't waste your time (and the reviewer's time) with a sloppy, thrown together proposal just because it might get funded.
If you have any suggestions of your own, please feel free to email me and I'll add them to the list!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 2012 Hoboken Board Agenda - Tuesday November 12

The following is the Agenda for the November 2012 Hoboken Board of Education Meeting. The Meeting will occur at 7PM at the Board Meeting Room located at 1115 Clinton Street, Hoboken.

November 2012 Meeting

Sunday, November 11, 2012

No one ‘cheated’ on state test scores - Letter to the Editor, Hoboken Reporter

The following Letter to the Editor appeared in the November 10th edition of the Hudson Reporter. It is a response to the baseless accusations of a number of Kids First candidates and supporters surrounding the administration of state testing in the Hoboken Public Schools. Of course, the real purpose of their accusations were to take focus and attention away from the rather lackluster performance of student test scores during the 4 years of their leadership of the Hoboken Public Schools. No surprise there. In a debate for the Hoboken Board of Education, candidate Jean Marie Mitchell was quoted as saying: 
"The previous administration cheated on the scores," Mitchell alleged. "They only cherry picked the children tested." - Jean Marie Mitchell 
The following is a detailed explanation about state testing. Its unlikely Jean Marie Mitchell or the other Kids First candidates or supporters will spend much time trying to explain themselves. In the current political climate we live, it far easier to simply lie and make character assassinations than to fact check and find out what actually took place. That's unfortunate. However, Dr. Cella and myself felt the record needed to be made clear. -Dr. Petrosino 

Dear Editor:

We write this letter to put an end to speculation, character attacks, and misinformation. Over the past few months an old issue concerning mandated state testing (HSPA- New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment) in Hoboken High School has been brought to our attention. Apparently, the recent ranking of Hoboken High School among New Jersey High Schools in New Jersey Monthly prompted a forensic explanation and rationalization for various political groups-- each placing blame and taking credit for exposing and ending certain remediation practices and policies at Hoboken High. Late in the 2007-2008 school year, our first year in the district, we became aware of a practice in which students were identified for intense remediation and identified to receive extra instruction in order to help improve performance on the HSPA test. Data indicated that sometimes this intense remediation and course taking resulted in students not attaining the proper number of Carnegie units in a particular subject (usually in Mathematics or English as these were the subjects often in need of improvement) leading to being officially classified as a freshman or sophomore for two successive years—yet remaining with their initial cohort for all their other classes. In other words, no one was "left back" and all were eligible to graduate after 4 years and all either eventually took the HSPA test or the Special Review Assessment (SRA) now known as the Alternative High School Assessment required by the State of New Jersey.

What differed is when the test was taken, not if or whether the test was taken. This program existed only in the high school. Upon being made aware of this practice- and wanting to implement a new approach to remediation, we began a 12 month process to phase this practice out. Therefore, in March 2008 the top 50 percent of the identified remedial students were tested along with their junior year cohort and by the March 2009 test administration a year later, the so called "10r" remediation program was eliminated entirely. Like any remediation program, the policy had its advocates and critics as well as its successes and its challenges. Our decision to explain, discuss and ultimately end the remediation program and replace it with a more comprehensive full faculty instructional practices approach- including collaborative study groups and professional learning communities- was supported by the Board of Education and the district administration in March 2009. No one on the Board complained of the remediation program in place nor of the faculty program to replace it. That this remediation program apparently is being used as a political football (irresponsibly referred to as "cheating" at a recent public debate), years after its termination is unfortunate. It is our opinion that the children of the district would be best served by effectively and systemically addressing the current and ongoing challenges of high stakes testing, rankings, graduation rates, and critiques from state and federal reports in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner rather than combing the past for scapegoats and excuses. To that end, we wish them all the best.

Dr. Lorraine Cella
Hoboken High School Principal 2007-2010
Dr. Anthony Petrosino
Assistant to the Superintendent 2007-2009

Picture: Hoboken Volunteers - assisting people impacted by Sandy. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Assessing the Educational Claims of Kids First- Parsing Rhetoric and Hyperbole From Leadership and Reform

Barely True
The following is taken directly from the Facebook page of a political group in Hoboken known as Kids First. Kids First is an active political group that have gained control over the public schools of Hoboken. First rising to some note in 2007, Kids First gained full majority control of the Hoboken Board of Education in the spring of 2009 and have remained in majority control since that time. In February of 2012 the Kids First majority voted to move Board of Education elections to November instead of having them in May. This was a controversial decision. On the same night, Kids First also voted to not have the yearly budget of the Hoboken Public Schools come up for public vote if the budget for the forthcoming year was less than 2% of the previous year. This was another controversial decision. With this as a pre-text, Kids First is now running for 3 seats in the upcoming Hoboken Board of Education elections. The following statements are part of their political platform. Campaign literature always tries to paint candidates in the best light. The current candidates are all fine people who I am sure want to do well for the community. However, it is important sometimes to look beyond the rhetoric and spin and look for the substance. I have tried to some detailed information and to verify that information as independently as possible. Best of luck to everyone. 


Providing for our Children

Creating life-long learners by providing a broad variety of programs suited to each child
Barely True
This lacks any specificity and in general is very common "education speak"- providing little details. There's no evidence presented that the programs offered now are any more varied than before Kids First took control of the Hoboken Public Schools. In addition, it is just unrealistic to even claim you have programs suited for EACH child. No evidence is presented that indicates any conscious attempt to create "life-long learners" has taken place any more over the past few years with Kids First in control of the Board of Education than before. 

Raising the bar and challenging top students with an expanded Gifted & Talented program, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, dual college-credit classes and a rapidly expanding AP program
Barely True
In 2010 Kids First eliminated the notable Saturday U program which offered a varied and expansive curriculum and was expanded to mid week activities for gifted and talented students (READ MORE). Later that same year, they began to limit the number of NEW students to the Johns Hopkins Program for Talented Youth. In June of 2011, Kids FIrst voted to terminate the Gifted and Talented Coordinator and Johns Hopkins Director, Ms. Cheng Yen Hillenbrand in a very contentious Board of Education Meeting (READ MORE). While it is true that Kids First that in June 2010 Kids First ceased adding any new students to the International Baccalaureate in favor of the Advanced Placement program-- Research that was available at the time of the decision published by Harvard Education Press (2010) was very critical of the AP Program. A report by the NY Times summed up the difference between IB and AP best, "AP is great for content-based traditional's great for kids who like to memorize. But for more creative kids, who want to make those connections, there's nothing like the IB." You can read more HERE. The additional of dual college credit classes is new to the district and was approved of by the entire Hoboken Board of Education. 

Establishing a dedicated Special Education and Autism Center
Mostly True
There is a dedicated Special Education and Autism Center that was supported by the entire Hoboken Board of Education. There is no evidence that this was an initiative solely of the Kids First Board members but rather a decision of district administration. 

Offering exciting new vocational options including Culinary Arts with a student run commercial café, a new C Tech Program along with a TV- Media Production Studio and a full construction workshop
Barely True
A Culinary Arts Program, curriculum, teacher and facility was in place in the Demarest Alternative School as early as September 2007. In addition, the TV-Media Production Studio was well in place as well before Kids First was in the majority of the Hoboken Board of Education. So, neither of these programs fits the definition of "new" and appear to be stretching the truth. What is true is there has been new construction on some related facilities and the adoption of a new C Tech Program in the public schools. 

Providing a new healthy and fresh, breakfast and lunch program with updated menus and user friendly online payment system
Barely True
In December of 2011 an independent audit by Lerch, Vinci and Higgins indicated that the Hoboken Board of Education owed $783,000 to its then food services provider Chartwells (at least $369,000 from the 2010-11 school year alone--similar figures the previous year). The auditing firm spoke at the December 2011 Board of Education meeting stating that the findings required the school district to take action on the item. Most of the debt was caused by the board not collecting the money owed to it. Kids First was in full control of the finances of the district via the Business Administrator's office for a number of years before the audit finding. There is no evidence that the new food provider offers any more healthy or fresh breakfast or lunch programs as Chartwells. There is an online payment system currently in place. Kids First have also ceased adding new students to the Johns Hopkins Program for Talented Youth

Nurturing the whole child with strengthened academics and expanded arts- visual, theater and music 
 Barely True
It is certainly a worthwhile and applaudable goal to want to nurture the whole child. There is no argument with that aspect of this claim. But, have academics been strengthened? And have the arts been expanded? No specifics are offered. What we do know is that it appears this team feels as if offering Advanced Placement work is more academically rigorous than the existing International Baccalaureate program but articles in the New York Times and books by the Harvard University Press disagree with that assumption. It is also with noting that under Kids First the Johns Hopkins Program for Talented Youth have ceased accepting new students for the past 2 years. At ne time the Hoboken district had one of the largest programs in the country for this program. Recall in July of 2011 the Kids First majority voted to deny tenure to gifted program coordinator Ms. Cheng Yen Hillenbrand. A very controversial decision at the time: 

The vocal crowd was mostly disappointed when five of the nine board members – often referred to as the “Kids First” majority – supported the decision. -Ray Smith 
A decision was also made by Kids First to eliminate the very popular Saturday U Program for gifted and talented youth. A program that was recently expanded to include new curriculum and an expanded reach for student participation. 
As for the claim about the arts, many people still remember the very controversial and unpopular decision to not grant tenure to Ms. Paula Ohaus, an award winning, theater arts program director. A great many people came out to support both Ms. Hillenbrand and Ms. Ohaus but Kids First stuck by their decision. Some may want to read this very detailed description of the meeting and the circumstances surrounding the non-renewal of both Ohaus and Hillenbrand by Hoboken Patch
The elimination of the IB Program, the delay in effective AP implementation, the ending of the John Hopkins Program and Saturday U and the non renewal of nationally known teachers Ms. Hillenbrand and Ms. Ohaus do not seem to support the general contention of the political literature for Kids First. 

Investing in Education

Expanding STEM offerings including hands-on Full Option Science System (FOSS) and Singapore Math
Half True
FOSS (Full Option Science System) is a research-based science curriculum for grades K—8 developed at the Lawrence Hall of ScienceUniversity of California at BerkeleyThe program was originally developed and trial tested in urban and suburban San Francisco Bay Area school districts and field-tested and implemented nationally in ten sites. Twenty-six modules were developed for K–6, and nine courses for middle school. The FOSS program uses several instructional pedagogies: inquiry-based learning (each investigation is guided by questions), hands-on learning and active investigation (students work with materials and conduct investigations to attempt to answer questions), student-to-student interaction, writing (students keep careful notes in science notebooks), and research/reading (readings are included to enhance or underscore active investigation—students work with materials prior to doing any reading). Here is a FOSS FAQ

Singapore Math is a teaching method based on the primary textbooks and syllabus from the national curriculum of Singapore. These textbooks have a consistent and strong emphasis on problem solving and model drawing, with a focus on in-depth understanding of the essential math skills recommended in the NCTM Curriculum Focal Points (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics),the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, and the proposed Common Core State Standards. The method has become more popular since the release of scores from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study in 2003 showed Singapore at the top of the world in 4th and 8th grade mathematics. This was the third study by the NCES, and the 2007 TIMSS was released in December 2008.

FOSS is a supplement to existing science curriculum. Singapore Math was only approved in the late Spring and has not had time to be implemented. It involves a change of textbooks and will involve a significant teaching training/professional development component. Results have not been reported for either program to date. 

Providing 21st Century Technology: SMART Boards, Laptops, Apple and PC labs
Half True
1) Smartboards don’t change the model that’s broken. They just make that model way more expensive. With a Smartboard, the teacher usually still controls the content, stands in front of a classroom, and has to manage a bunch of children through a lesson plan they’d rather not be managed through. It doesn’t give children an adaptive learning environment, doesn’t differentiate instruction (though it does make it a little more media savvy), doesn’t enable social feedback, doesn’t reduce teacher workload, doesn’t make lesson planning more efficient, yada yada. It just makes the whiteboard a little more attractive.
2) Smartboards are an administrative cop out. Administrators like Smartboards because when they spend money on technology they need to spend a lot of it and it needs to be on things they can point to and count. Instead of re-imagining what school/classrooms/learning looks like/the student-teacher relationship, they write proposals with line-items, they spend money and buy things. Administrators get evaluated on test outcomes, true, (not learning outcomes), but they also get evaluated on anything else that can fit into spreadsheets and reports. A senior administrator can ask: “Why do you need more money?” and a junior administrator can say “Because we want to buy Smartboards.” This is convenient, because if you want to ask for additional resources, you need to specify how you are going to spend the money. Saying “I would like an extra 200K to experiment with ways to improve learning outcomes” just doesn’t cut the cheese. It’s also doubly convenient because an administrator can look moderately successful just by spending that money on what they said they would spend it on. ”Test scores are up 1%! And, we bought as many as 30 Smartboards!!!!” It’s less risky to buy objects you can count than spend money on more ambitious initiatives – like, let’s say, reading and math remediation for students supposedly at grade level.

Laptops vs iPads/Tablets
Laptop computer technology is just like any other tool: it can be abused and used poorly or it can be leveraged powerfully to engage students. One interesting decision was why decide on laptops when iPads and tablets offer some interesting advantages? For instance, many elementary and middle schools are gravitating more towards iPads than laptops.  iPads (or tablets) are lighter, easier to transport, take up less space, boot up quicker, and will do almost anything a laptop can do.  There are enough integrated apps to solve some of the early issues we were having.  The best part is, you can get 2iPads/tablets for the price of 1 laptop on our state bid list. Many school district now use iPads in all of their classrooms.  They see it as a device with multiple uses.  They can do most everything they can do on a laptop and more with the apps and portability.  They even moved iPads above Smartboards on their priority list because with Apps like Splashtop, they can get some of the same functionality.  Here is a quote from a teacher, 
"I like the tablet in place of laptops.  Reasons for are the weight, size and cost...tablets are much easier to care for, weight less and can be put in a small back pack or in its own carrier.  Battery life can be short but for the amount of good it provides I'll stick with it.  Cost is far less than many laptops."
Smartboards break down often and are not functioning very well and laptops are clearly not a clear cut decision to be made over iPads/Tablets. 

Fully funding long overdue capital improvement plan including new science labs, playgrounds, gyms, and brighter classrooms with cost saving ”green” lighting
Barely True
Certainly there have been a number of planned improvements to the physical facilities over the past months. Whether they were "long overdue" is somewhat questionable and gives the impression that facilities were not in proper working order previously....nothing could be further from the truth. A review of the last QSAC Report gave Facilities a very positive and passing review of 95%! So,m trying to characterize the facilities as needing "long overdue" improvements appears to be a political description rather than an accurate description. 

Providing a comprehensive educational field trip program for all district students
Half True
The Hoboken School District has always funded field trips for its students. The establishment of a program may be new but it is not clear it has led to more or better field trip experiences for the school children. 

Ensuring up-to-date textbooks and class room materials in every school
Barely True
Again, the implicit assumption is that textbooks were not up to date before or that there were not classroom materials in every school. In fact, there are questions about textbooks. For instance, textbooks do not work well. Research shows that with rare exceptions they do not help improve student achievement much. They are not effective because effectiveness doesn’t sell. Publishers are incentivized to create materials that appeal to educators who don’t want to change, so curriculum materials that could have a significant impact on education reform are less profitable. For instance, when I was in the district, there was a conscious effort to focus more on primary source materials than the rather traditional textbook approach to subject matter. Again, that is not to imply one approach is correct and the other approach is not-- but having "up to date textbooks" does not necessarily assure anything productive in terms of student learning or teacher preparation. 

Working cooperatively with teachers to provide a longer school day and a longer school year and expanding professional development
Barely True
The new teacher contract does provide for a longer school day and longer school year. However the teacher contract was negotiated by an outside law firm and ultimately the contract was approved by the majority of the Board of Education so it is not clear the Board minority or majority can claim any particular accomplishment with the contract since the Board relinquished negotiating responsibility to an outside entity. Can't have it both ways. 

Summer Academic and Enrichment Program and a wide variety of co-curricular activities for all students
 Half True
There have been summer academic and enrichment summer programs before and they were for all students. Not sure how unique this claim actually it so I will give the benefit of a doubt and say mostly true. However, it should be noted that ONLY Hoboken district students were allowed to attend the most recent summer programs held in the district. 

Demanding Accountability

District received an award of excellence for financial reporting and accountability
Mostly True
In March of 2012 the Association of School Business Official International awarded a prize to the Hoboken Board of Education. The school district received a financial reporting award for having met or exceeded the program's high standards for financial reporting and accountability. The award was for the fiscal year ending 2011. 
However, in August of 2012 the Hoboken Board of Education Business Administrator and Assistant Business Administrator were terminated less than 2 weeks before the start of the 2012-2013 school year. To date, no reason has been offered or given for the sudden termination. 

Using innovative assessment tools to create an honest baseline to track individual student performance and needs to increase success overall
Barely True
If the "innovative assessment tools" are the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory), I brought that into the district back in 2008. You can read all about it here (Spring 2008 workshop) as well as here (2009 Professional Development Day). More disturbing were the errors in reporting of student baseline data during the summer of 2012 that was never retracted or corrected using the Scholastic Reading Inventory and Mathematics Inventory

Contracting expert counsel to successfully represent the district
Whether KIDS FIRST has contracted expert counsel to successfully represent the district or not is not a source of debate or comment for me. What has been a point of some contention in the amount of money spent on legal fees during the tenure of KIDS FIRST. For instance, a December 2011 audit by Lerch, Vinci & Higgins found the Hoboken School Board spends significantly more per pupil in legal costs than New Jersey's average, which is $47 and in a recent Letter to the Editor, a minority board member questions the legal expenses that KIDS FIRST have overseen and appear to derive great pride. 

Increasing communication and transparency with a redesigned website, online parent support, and District Progress Reports and Newsletters
Pants On Fire
When a Board majority institutes "LIVE AGENDA ITEMS" as a means for voting on items not on the published agenda -- like the hiring of a superintendent, it is difficult to make a persuasive claim of transparency and increasing communication. As Board Trustee Maureen Sullivan explained: 

The only thing thrown under the bus was the promise of openness and transparency made by the KF team. Can it possibly matter what they said back in September? On Feb. 6 they said the superintendent hire was not on the agenda for Feb. 9. It did not appear on the agenda posted to the district website or handed out on the night of the meeting. It was not put in writing at the last minute as a "live" item. The details of the contract were hammered out between 7 and 9 p.m. in closed session, as members of the public disappeared. Again, the audience was given no official word that the superintendent would be hired that night. Heck, I wasn't aware it was going to happen. Theresa M. read the resolution to the remnants of the crowd. Read it, because even the members of the board did not have a written copy of the resolution
Implemented transparent online hiring system and new staff evaluation to ensure the best for our kids
Barely True
You may be able to apply online (true) but there is nothing about the process of getting hired that is anymore or less transparent than in the past. Except for maybe a certain preference for being a friend of former Interim Superintendent Peter Carter or perhaps now having some connection to Bayport or the Newark Public Schools. More importantly, given the recent test scores and school violence reports, it is challenging at best to see how this "new" hiring system ensures "the best or our kids." Rather, seems like run in the mill political rhetoric.

Spending wisely and keeping the tax levy flat for three years in a row
Barely True
KIDS FIRST would like you to think that keeping the tax levy flat is similar to keeping costs constant. However, that is not true. In the Spring of 2009, the KIDS FIRST majority could not bring themselves to vote for the excessive $59.1 million dollar budget that was proposed. For instance, the Hoboken Reporter was quoted: 

(KIDS FIRST) Board member Carrie Gilliard joined Theresa Minutillo and Rose Markle in opposition to the spending document. “$59 million is troubling me. We need to revisit this. I cannot support it,”
Yet, three years later, the same members who voted no in 2009 to $59 million had no trouble voting YES to a $63.2 million budget 3 years later....and with less Hoboken resident students in the district. An increase of over $4 million dollars. 
Furthermore, the KIDS FIRST claim on keeping the tax levy flat is a little overplayed as this analysis shows of previous budgets over time--- where the municipal tax levy was kept very consistent (in inflation adjusted dollars)

Hiring and fully supporting Superintendent Mark Toback as he leads our district forward
Half True
Superintendent Mark Toback has been overwhelming supported by the entire Hoboken Board of Education and we all wish him the best in moving the district forward. 
Its nice to see the Board support the superintendent as opposed to then Board President and current Kids First member Theresa Minutillo who wrote letters to the Hoboken Reporter and Hoboken Now against the then superintendent barely 1 year into his tenure as superintendent
Picture: Some members of the political group known as Kids First - Hoboken, NJ.