I'm so Dizzy, My Class Is Spinning

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xf14ae's picture
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Wow. Let me tell you, all your doubts about the wisdom of the Administration and their prudent use of tax dollars to fund outstanding education and the real needs for expanded space have just been put to rest.

Because, thanks to those $100M + dollars spent on the new Harriton High School building, not only do we have a potting room with 18 wheels, a greenhouse, a cooking classroom with Wolf professional stoves, a theater and a black box theater, and large instructional space for college-like classes. We also have an entire classroom dedicated to spinning.

http://www.lmsd.org/sections/about/default.php?t=board&p=board_meetings_view&menu=board&vid=LMSB_100111_VP6_256K

Review of Harriton's new facilities begins @ 32:43.

Stick that in your ear, Episcopal Academy.

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LexoTime5's picture
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This is stunning. Stunning. This is where main line parents want to send their kids to school? This sort of opulence is not called for. It is embarrassing to watch. We've spent so much on that building while so much else goes lacking in the district. While some kids' basic needs are not being met.

You know what the saddest part of this video is? It's at about 51:00 where that teacher gets up and says he used to think that "a great teacher could teach on a river bank..." but goes on to expound on the super cushy features of the new building. It's like he's saying that we used to value good education and instruction in this district but now we value wealth. It strikes me that this is indicative of a very dangerous turn in mindset the school district is undertaking, and a large shift of the culture of education they are making on our behalf.

It's also ironic that at this moment the school district is negotiating the dreaded teacher contract, purportedly something that is very difficult this year, and it remains to be seen how fairly and generously the teachers will be treated. Add to that the very dire budget situation for the school district and one wonders at the wisdom of putting so huge a pile of money into a building.

Bob Guzzardi is fond of raising the question [paraphrased] "Will our children learn more in this expensive building?" and never have I felt that question more strongly than today, watching this video. I think the answer is clearly no.

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outtathere's picture
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I am not surprised. It seems to be a mentality that has become commonplace in both the eductional and healthcare industries. The focus is on the facilities in school districts, universities, and healthcare 'systems'. Expand, expand, and do so elaborately. Spending with virtually no restraint. As to whether or not students learn more or patients get better treatment, I think the answer is no.

As to the teachers' contract, just how much including benefits does a teacher in Lower Merion earn these days for the under 10 months that they work annually?

As to the students, the basic needs of the ones to be bused away from their neighborhood high school in Ardmore are not being met. How "green" is it for the LMSD to be operating yet more buses to accomplish this fruitless exercise?

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"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.":Gil Scott-Heron 1970 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGaRtqrlGy8

LexoTime5's picture
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I don't know about teacher salaries. But I do know there are good teachers, bad teachers, and mediocre teachers here in LM. I wonder if this Democratic dominated school board is taking president Obama's vision for public schools to heart, which includes some version of merit pay.

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LMT Observer's picture
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Agree LexoTime5:

This is stunning. Stunning.

Also agree: The opulence is unseemly. Do competitions exists among school districts that might fuel such seeming excesses?

We've spent so much on that building while so much else goes lacking in the district. While some kids' basic needs are not being met.

Do many of those in charge lack the talent, knowledge, and will needed to solve fundamental problems of the type that LexoTime5 notes? If so, that could make it more likely that attention and $$ will go to fancy paraphernalia that mostly require "only" taxpayer money.

(Apologies to all those who have the power and responsibility to make the decisions if this observer's opinions are unfair. They well might be due to limited information. However, others who post at SAC on this topic, like xf14ae, seem to be very well informed.)

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outtathere's picture
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reat analysis. Now bear in mind that the opulence of which you speak is not unique to LMSD nor is it restricted to public schools in general. The same mindset is in charge at universities and healthcare systems. They all operate under a policy of constant expansion and everything must be state-of-the-art regardless of the cost. Thus we see property taxes, college tuitions and health care prices escalating into the stratosphere. Granted, there are other factors driving this hyperinflation as well but amortization of these elaborate facilities makes up a huge part.

I see little hope of reigning in this out of control spending unless, unlike was the case with healthcare 'reform', we demand an answer not to HOW we pay for it but WHETHER OR NOT we pay for it. Public schools, the burden of which is forced upon all property owners, should be restricted to an institutional design model for their facilities. For those who find these too spartan and require opulence, there are private schools. Those with any sense will focus on what it taking place within the walls and not on whether the walls are made of marble or stucco.

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"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.":Gil Scott-Heron 1970 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGaRtqrlGy8

xf14ae's picture
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I wonder if what we're really seeing here is the pendulum swinging. What do I mean by that? Consider this:

Prior to this effort, the District's last major capital improvements cycle ended in the 1960's with the demolishment & new building of LMHS. Beginning in the early 1970's a strong anti-tax movement built in the township. This movement, in essence, shut off the tap completely. Schools - whose capacity was not needed then but would be again once the echo-boom arrived - were shuttered and sold to reduce property taxes (note: taxes didn't drop). Investment in infrastructure ground to a halt.

Meanwhile, the world continued to innovate and update. LM did not keep up with this in even rudimentary ways. Equipment became more and more outdated, only being replaced when it was necessary and non functional. Roofs began to leak, buildings began to crumble. Only a minimum was spent on 'maintenance' with nothing for any real wholesale improvement.

Finally, this reached a critical point, power changed, and the tap got turned on. So now we've got a feeding frenzy - to get the most capacity, the cutting-edgiest, the most advanced infrastructure possible, perhaps realizing the anti-tax folks will once again gain enough power to shut the tap off, which they already are thanks to Act 1. The goal here may be go get as much as can be gotten in the hopes that it will be enough to last through another long winter with no water.

I have written before that I was stunned to return to the Township after 20 years to find LMHS almost exactly as it was when I left, with virtually no improvements beyond the razing of AJS for parking and new curtains in the auditorium. It was getting a little randy 20 years ago. Today, it's definitely beyond that.

It would seem to anyone rational that incremental,thoughtful, and holistic improvements are the wisest investments, but then again when ever are politics rational? Then again, it seems this Township itself is bi-polar, seemingly never able to find middle grounds and reasonable solutions to anything. It's an all-or-nothing environment, and LMSD seems to be making the best of the "all" period before 'nothing' sets in again.

*sigh*

It's things like spinning classrooms built by the 'alls' that set the 'nothing' folks on fire.

"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

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"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

politeia's picture
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I wonder how many giant flat screen, high definition televisions are in that "spinning" room?

Being an EA graduate, I also got a kick out of the "Stick that in your ear, Episcopal Academy" comment - and I don't think it was meant as a slap at EA. Makes me wonder if the new EA campus has a "spinning" room, but I doubt it. There are plenty of exercise bikes, weight machines, etc. in workout facilities, but that goes hand-in-hand with EA's focus on "mind, body and spirit", and the fact that students are required to plays sports. Used to be you were required to be on a sports team all three seasons when I was there, but now I think it is two seasons with students still being required to do some after-school physical activity the third season - all on top of state required gym classes.

Still, if some wealthy donor wanted to give EA (or Harriton) money for a "spinning" room, fine by me - though I don't see the need. Using my tax dollars for a "spinning" room in a public school is out of control. Just have a class where the kids run around a track or use the weight room - which I am sure has exercise bikes.

Unbelievable.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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xf14ae's picture
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Don't misread me - I am not at all anti-spinning/exercise/equipment. I just wonder why it is that we have an entire 'classroom' dedicated to spinning? Is this LA Fitness?

We should have an adequately equipped gym for activities and a fitness room that has stuff like weights, treadmills, steppers, and exercise bikes. That's what I'd expect as a reasonable and functional physical education space.

JMHO.

"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

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politeia's picture
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Didn't misread you at all and I think my post goes to your points.

This "spinning" room is an off-the-wall example of all the spending problems with LMSD.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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outtathere's picture
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Silly old me: I saw the term 'spinning' and wondered if they are teaching Harriton students to make yarn when all it really amounts to is a new 'spin' put on an old idea: EX-ER-CY-CLES.
Got it, now.

Not a bad idea so that students can burn off all the flab they accumulate by spending most of their time texting.

A very worthwhile investment would be installation of cellphone jammers. Naturally, the immediate question this would raise is liability in the event of a family emergency. The simple answer: The parent can call the office just as they would have in the pre-cellphone era.

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"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.":Gil Scott-Heron 1970 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGaRtqrlGy8

LexoTime5's picture
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The LMSD seems to have locked itself into a requirement of ever increasing taxes to fund bad decisions made years ago; and a focus on treating kids to a Disney-style high school life; and of immersing children in opulent values that many families do not share.

It's getting to the point in Lower Merion that parents may start actively seeking out simplicity. Education in an adequate building by dedicated, talented teachers, focusing on the betterment of children's minds and character. The 21st century needs people who will serve their local community and be examples of service, thrift, and civic & neighborly engagement. This is sorely lacking in the school district and we get further and further away from it every day, at 100 mph.

One thing which every single LM resident should alert themselves to is that the more sky-high that per-pupil spending climbs, the more viable becomes the prospect of charter schools in Lower Merion. Schools that really will serve the local communities, with sustainable community values. They are funded on par dollar for dollar by the school district and not answerable to the school board or school district. Any group that may have been thinking about running a private school may instead think about running a charter.

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xf14ae's picture
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Lexo,

It's funny you say "Disney" because just a bit earlier (like 2 - 3 minutes before) in the meeting Harriton's principal Kline makes a comment about HHS being compared favorably to High School Musical.

"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

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"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

LexoTime5's picture
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Yeah, that's where I got that. And he seems proud of it too. What a weird disconnect.

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outtathere's picture
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Could it be all about self-aggrandizement?

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"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.":Gil Scott-Heron 1970 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGaRtqrlGy8

Kokomo Joe's picture
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I've been to a few basketball games there. The door to the gym (29) is as far away from the parking lot as is physically possible. Lots of fun on freezing cold nights. However, you do get to see all the nice, idle fitness equipment inside, as you walk that mile.

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dmuth's picture
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Could it be all about self-aggrandizement?

You mean that people who control millions of dollars of money would send it on shiny things?

Nah, can't possibly happen. Eye-wink

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carla's picture
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I received an anonymous e-mail containing these videos:

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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LexoTime5's picture
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Those are just excerpts from the last school board meeting presentation. Publicly available here:

http://www.lmsd.org/sections/about/default.php?t=board&p=board_meetings&menu=board

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outtathere's picture
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The publicly available one isn't nearly as much fun to watch as the 'clandestine' excerpts. I wonder how much the school board spent on this promo and if they hired a PR firm design and film it.

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"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.":Gil Scott-Heron 1970 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGaRtqrlGy8

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