Thursday April 4, 2013

Bring on the noise

Editor of the Reformer:

What happened to Brattleboro’s noise ordinance for vehicle radios (stereo systems)? I was in my living room on Saturday, March 30, and my windows started rattling to the thumping of a very loud stereo in a car driving by my home. Do you people need to have the radio that loud? Are you all deaf?

The vehicle in question, was driving slow and steady with all the windows down, I guess to make sure everybody heard it. Judging from the racket that he was dispensing from the inside of his ride, the entire block, maybe two blocks heard him.

I love my music, but I see no reason on this earth to have my music so loud it disturbs people. I can actually hear stereos in cars while I’m waiting at the traffic lights in town, yet don’t see the vehicle for a few moments. I think Brattleboro’s town manager should re-enact the noise ordinance if it has been abolished, and have the police department start fining these people for disturbing the peace. Maybe that will help pay for the new police/fire department.

Roger Andrews,

Brattleboro, March 31

On independent schools ...

Editor of the Reformer:

As a Dummerston School parent and an experienced educator, I was surprised by "Independent schools to host open house," (March 23), which was actually a press release presented as an "article.


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" The presentation of this release, casting an opinion as news, makes me take issue with the "facts."

The article implies private schools produce the finest teaching methods (and therefore results) which, when shared, improve public school efficiency. While this happens sometimes, there is no evidence to support the notion that private schools lead the way in educational effectiveness. Recent large scale research comparing public and private schools indicate public schools are equally or more effective at producing academic achievement than private schools. Simply put, all parents whether they can afford private education or not, should consider that a child’s academic achievement in public school will be just as good as or better than private school. These nationwide studies bode well for Vermont schools, consistently ranked among the highest nationally. These data even compelled former Bush education under-Secretary Diane Ravtich to change her school reform position. She now believes the voucher programs she initiated to move more children to charter/private schools are "disrupting our communities, dumbing down our schools and undermining our public schools."

Paraphrased, the March 23 article says that asking public schools to serve every child can cause educators to be ineffective because public schools offer a "uniform curriculum" and teaching methods. Actually, it is the public school mission to serve every child. To do this, public educators are trained in, and use, varied teaching methods. For example, my daughter joins the school’s before-school math program for fourth graders interested in pre-algebra, while my son participates in a small group using a specialized research-proven reading curriculum. I have asked much of my public school and found effective educators happy to meet my children’s individual needs.

Readers worried that only independent school educators "stretch and deepen the curriculum" should know that public school educators also do this. This year, my daughter’s fourth grade class will take five field trips including a day observing bird migration on Putney Mountain and a day in Montpelier learning about government. My daughter lunches weekly with the guidance counselor and principal learning conflict resolution as part of the "peace-patrol" group. None of this would happen if her school was limited to "teaching to the test."

There are many wonderful local schools, public and private, and we are blessed to have these choices. Dear friends have availed themselves of these choices when their schools were not a good match, switching from private to public as well as public to private. However, the article’s implication that public education is less effective, or unable to meet individual student’s needs is simply not borne out by my experience or current research. The Reformer’s presentation of the independent school’s press release as news is simply misleading.

Kristina Naylor,

Dummerston, March 29

Editor’s note: This press release was presented as such -- if it were an article we would have put "Reformer Staff" or a reporter’s name at the beginning. However, your point is well-received and we apologize for any misunderstanding this may have caused. The editorial board will examine this practice moving forward.