Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New Enfield Column Draws Heat



A Note From The Columnist:


Larry Smith's story, "Teachers, Others Reproach Officials: Newspaper Column, Letter to Editor Criticized ", published on 02/13/2008, describes me as a member of the Audit Committee of the Enfield Board of Education. This is factually incorrect.

During the Board Comments section of the meeting, Judy Apruzzese-Desroches clarified that James T. "Jim" Brislin (D) is a member of audit committee, but I, James Bailey Brislin (R), am not.

As is indicated in The Enfield Press, I am a member of the Republican Town Committee.

I would appreciate appropriate correction of this error in the print and electronic editions of the newspaper. Thank you.

Sincerely,
James Bailey Brislin

--

Today's Courant:

courant.com/news/local/nc/hc-enfboard0213.artfeb13,0,1811020.story
Teachers, Others Reproach Officials

Newspaper Column, Letter To Editor Criticized

By LARRY SMITH
Courant Staff Writer
February 13, 2008

ENFIELD —

Teachers and residents told the board of education Tuesday that the budget deliberations are creating a sense of fear and distrust in the school community.

About 16 people spoke during the communications portion of the board's regular meeting. Most of the speakers said they were upset by a column that schools audit committee member James Bailey Brislin wrote and a letter to the editor from Republican town committee chairwoman Mary Ann Turner, both in a local newspaper. The speakers said the column and the letter unfairly bashed teachers.

Linda Dalpe, chairwoman of Enfield High School world language department, said the articles were inflammatory. She said what is unseen by the public is the 60 hours a week teachers work in class and grading and reviewing papers at home.

"We're not the enemy," Dalpe said. "We're the guys out in the trenches making do with what we have to give students a good education."

Maureen Brennan, of Sandpiper Road, said the articles in the local paper didn't have board members' names on them, but the board should repudiate what was said in them.

The board of education is working on a budget plan to present to the town manager, who will include the spending plan in his overall budget proposal to the town council. Board members said they are reviewing proposed reductions and additions to the budget.

Some of Tuesday's speakers said the board seems to be focused on cuts and not on the quality of education.

Brian Garvey, an English teacher at John F. KennedyMiddle School, said the some board members have given the false impression that the Enfield Teachers Association forced its members to give the same answers on a budget survey.

Garvey said the Republican town committee and some members of the board of education are promoting a bunker mentality that will hurt communication between the school system and its teachers.

Robert Tkacz, a former board member and a member of the audit committee, said he has never seen a board member bash teachers. He said the board is trying to come up with an efficient budget and fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities.

Contact Larry Smith at lsmith@courant.com


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  • 12 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    When Enfield voters "voted" out the Democrats, they were making a loud and clear statement. They wanted "change". Now that the Republicans hold majority in Council and BOE, and "changes" are being suggested & made, some in the minority are screaming "the sky is fallin', the sky is fallin'".

    According to JI article,
    http://www.journalinquirer.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=19287393&BRD=985&PAG=461&dept_id=569380&rfi=8
    some teachers and Dem BOE members are critical of a former
    superintendent being brought in to
    help educate BOE members. What are these opponents so afraid of?

    Life is all about "change". Teachers are suppose to be instilling this in their students. However, some in Enfield are so terrified of change, and want things to stay as is. Do to so means waste, higher taxes for residents, and the "same old, same old" for Enfield students.

    Unions shouldn't be dictating what happens to our children's education. Common sense and sound fiscal management should be. The facts are CT teachers are some of the best paid in the country. And Enfield's teachers are some of the best paid in state.

    Anonymous said...

    "Teachers and residents told the board of education Tuesday that the budget deliberations are creating a sense of fear and distrust in the school community."

    For those who can't attend meetings in-person, I'd highly suggest watching the Enfield BOE meetings (and Town Council) on the Enfield's local access station, Cox 16.

    After watching, it fairly clear that the Republican's are looking for ways to make better use of the
    funds available. After years of
    "Spend-o-crat" majority, that's a welcome & necessary change.

    Obviously "status quo" isn't working - things have to be examined and changed! That's why the Democrats were voted out of Council and BOE majority. So its little wonder that they're doing so much squawking @ any proposed changes.

    Anonymous said...

    Is anyone surprised by the ETA's mafia style intimidation tactics?

    If you are, you haven't been reading enough Cool Justice.

    Enfield is a mob town… for years they controlled everything through the democrats and the teachers' union.

    A republican victory wasn't supposed to be in the cards… two weeks before the election, the democrats were arguing about who the next mayor would be.

    Enfield voters elected a slate of republicans who were independent of the status quo and ran on a platform of cleaning house and shaking things up.

    The ETA is used to the Board of Ed. being a rubber stamp for whatever they and the administration put in front of them.

    Now after years of cushy collusion, the Board is demanding accountability from them and the administration.

    The union's message should be clear: Don't mess with us. This is our reaction to a newspaper column and a letter to the editor… imagine what it will be for something more drastic. Watch out… if you don't do what we tell you, we'll do everything in our power to ruin you.

    And since November 6, that's what they've been doing.

    Even before the republicans took office they were already spreading rumors about how the republicans were going to destroy education. Make no mistake about it-- this is an organized whisper campaign designed to discredit the republicans before they even have a chance to do any work.

    Anonymous said...

    What do the teachers fear? Why did they pull a "poll" at the Tuesday meeting, asking BOE members if they agreed with letters written by two republicans who aren't even on the board.

    The dems 'heeled' like obedient lap dogs, but fortunately only one republican Greg Stokes, was intimidated by their tactics. Maybe Stokes should have a glass of courage before each meeting.

    It is clear that the teachers are trying to creat an atmosphere of fear, and to derail the citizens audit committtee. What are they hiding?

    If things are so bad here, they can apply to work in Hartford. Enfield will be happy to write a nice recommenation for anyone who wants to flee south to friendlier climates.

    Anonymous said...

    "Enfield is a mob town… for years they controlled everything through the democrats and the teachers' union."

    Mob town??
    Enfield is nothin' more than a small puddle, with a couple of big guppies, who thought they ruled the world.

    But take a good hard look, cuz if things don't radically change, and quickly, the lil'Enfield puddle will dry up, and those who can escape, will do so by moving to surrounding towns like Somers, Suffield, Ellinton and East Windsor (towns where the populations are increasing, and taxes are less than Enfield).

    Anonymous said...

    > The dems 'heeled' like obedient lap dogs, but fortunately only one republican Greg Stokes, was intimidated by their tactics. Maybe Stokes should have a glass of courage before each meeting.

    Sounds like some of Enfield's current BOE members need to grow a backbone, and fast. Because this is gonna be one long and dirty uphill battle, and if they're not up for the challenge, they shouldn't have run for office!

    Its about time that something's been done to shed some light on past budget practices, and why it is Enfield claims to never have enough money regardless of how much taxes are increased. Enfield taxpayers deserve to know where their tax dollars are going.

    Why does that inquiry make some so nervous?

    Anonymous said...

    "Linda Dalpe, chairwoman of Enfield High School world language department, said the articles were inflammatory. She said what is unseen by the public is the 60 hours a week teachers work in class and grading and reviewing papers at home."

    Don't believe that any intelligent person would dispute that some teachers are extremely dedicated and hard working.

    But the State of CT continually has some of the highest paid teachers in the entire country.

    Check out web sites such as
    http://www.teacher-world.com/teacher-salary/connecticut.html or
    http://www.employmentspot.com/employment-articles/teacher-salaries-by-state/

    One can quickly see that most Enfield teachers are likely earning far more than the "average" Enfield resident. So why does it surprise some, that residents are upset and asking for a budget review?

    >The most recent report included a list of teacher salaries by state. The state with the highest average teacher salary was Connecticut, at $57,760.

    And as one "teacher" web site points out, "these are salaries based on a 190-day or 10-month work year"

    Anonymous said...

    Teachers, administrators and union officials need to realize that if something isn't done in Enfield, more and more taxpayers will likely be forced from their homes (how many foreclosures are there in Enfield now?), and elect to move to less expensive towns. If this exodus continues, Enfield simply won't need as many teachers, or schools.

    Everyone in Enfield has a stake in this. No "side" wins, when one "side" loses. & right now, the taxpayers are losin'.

    Anonymous said...

    "Teachers, administrators and union officials need to realize that if something isn't done in Enfield, more and more taxpayers will likely be forced from their homes (how many foreclosures are there in Enfield now?), and elect to move to less expensive towns. If this exodus continues, Enfield simply won't need as many teachers, or schools."

    It should be observed that the population most vulnerable to foreclosure is the one most likely to be customers of the public schools. The old people mostly own their homes… they bought them 40 years ago when Ledger Starr was selling them for $12,000. The whales who bought these Starr homes for $250 or $300k aren't gonna want to stay in them if their property values go down… and that's exactly what happens when you have too many houses on the market at the same time.

    So Enfield teachers, be careful what you wish for… your high pay might result in decreasing union membership = le$$ due$ = le$$ ability to buy off the democrats.

    Anonymous said...

    "The old people mostly own their homes… they bought them 40 years ago when Ledger Starr was selling them for $12,000."

    While this is true for many Enfield seniors, there are plenty who can no longer afford Enfield's rising property taxes on their initial $12K investment. Not with the rising cost of food, heating, lighting, medical and gasoline - not on their fixed budgets.

    If more seniors exit Enfield for
    less expensive "digs", the Town of Enfield loses tax revenues reaped from folks who don't even have school age children. Enfield's senior homeowners "fund" a lot of Enfield's current education needs.
    And have for years!

    Keep in mind too, that although a
    couple of the private catholic elementary schools have closed, there are still a number of Enfield residents who prefer to send their children to Montessori, St Bernard's or St Martha's for their K-8th education, or East Catholic for high school.

    Those teachers aren't covered by these unions, nor do these teachers make $50K a year. But the education received by children at these schools is stellar!

    Anonymous said...

    Not everyone in the teachers' union is happy with how they handled Brislin's column.

    I've heard nothing but negative comments about it from people.

    The protests at the BOE meeting were embarrassing.

    Anyone who saw that meeting on TV could tell you that it was big-time overkill.

    When people ask me about the protests, I tell them that I don't like them. I try to explain that not all the teachers agree with how the union is handling things.

    Mary Lombardo has a lot of explaining to do. She's blowing away all the good will that we've worked years to earn.

    Carl Slicer said...

    The Enfield Citizens Audit Committee has finished the report.

    Let's see if CABE has the *all's to show up on Monday, June 30,2008, 7PM, JFK School, 155 Rafia Rd, Enfield, CT.

    Carl Slicer, blog editor, WWW.VernonGop.com, "It's only your money !"