Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Middletown NOT One Of The Top 100 Best School Districts In NJ

I don't usually do this, but I've been asked if it would be possible to repost this article on the main page of the blog (it was first posted on January 5th). Some feel it is important and there is more that can be said. So here it is, comment away - MM 1/14/15

Over the weekend I came across a post on Facebook "Top 100 School Districts In NJ" from the website "Niche".  I was intrigued and had to take a look to see where Middletown ranked, needless to say Middletown didn't rank in the top 100 school districts. But before getting into rankings let me tell you a little bit about Niche.

Niche was founded in 2002 by Carnegie Mellon University students as and  provides reviews and insight from experts that help families determine the best  neighborhoods to live or relocate to and the best colleges or K-12 schools to attend in a given area as transparently as possible.

Niche ranked 8,738 school districts throughout the country based on dozens of key statistics and 4.6 million opinions from 280,000 students and parents. Niche allows you to then search for individual school districts or schools within a district to see how they stand up compared to other schools in the a specific region. You can read about their methodology... Here

Now, getting back to Middletown.

According to Niche, Middletown is ranked 156 out of 590 school districts in New Jersey, with an overall grade for the district of  B+. That's not very good if you ask me. If you compare Middletown to other school districts from Monmouth County that ranked higher such as Rumson-Fair Haven (21), Holmdel (30), Red Bank Regional (31), Ocean Township (83) or Monmouth  Regional (90) to name a few, it almost seems worse. If you look at school districts outside of Monmouth County that were ranked higher than Middletown by Niche; Millburn Township (1), Cresskill School District (14), South Brunswick School District (20), Old Bridge Township (96) and Jackson Township (99) with many others scattered in between, you're left scratching your head, wondering what the heck is going on.

According to the statistics listed by Niche, Middletown school district has 17 schools and 10,110 students enrolled. Middletown spends $14,692 per student and has a student to teacher ratio of 14:1. Those are middling numbers when compared to the other school districts on the Top 100 list but much better than the national average. So I don't truly comprehend what's going on, Middletown should be doing a lot better.

The graduation rate for Middletown high schoolers is only 93%. That's pretty good when compared to the national average of 81% but it falls short of many other schools on the Top 100 list. Student proficiencies in math and reading are also lagging many of the other school districts on the list.

When you look at and read some of the 234 reviews (comments) left by recent alumni and current student dated back to March 2013 to as recently as 3 days ago, you get the sense that there are issues that need to be addressed and that there are 2 distinct and somewhat unequal High Schools in town, with Middletown South being far superior in culture and academics than Middletown North.

School spirit seems to rank high with many of the reviewers along with a general feeling of contentment and approval for teachers and other faculty members but there seems to be an issue with the over emphasis on football and sports in general, for many. Bulling, drinking and drug usage also seems to be a concern of many:

  • Sports & Fitness at Middletown High School South: All athletic facilities are made to the benefit of the football team. The school tends to favor football over everything else.
  • Sports & Fitness at Middletown High School South: There are several sports to choose from, and a decent amount of students play sports. South's teams generally do very well, especially the football team. School spirit is pretty high.
  • Health & Safety at Middletown High School South: This school is in a typical suburban area. The town itself is generally a safe area with mishaps here and there, but not often. There is always people drinking on the weekends, not necessarily huge parties, but the option is always there. There are plenty of other things to do near by that people take part in rather than parties. In terms of discipline, there are always those kids who constantly are being suspended and causing trouble, it's everywhere. As a whole, most people do not cause trouble and there is not too many disturbances. Bullying was never an issue either, which is comforting. People will have mishaps, but not everyone is going to get along. There is enough people where each person can find a group of friends or chose to be left alone. It is mostly dominated by sports and the "popular" kids. To be popular, from my point of view, is to be as basic as every girl on Instagram. It is hard to explain unless you experience it firsthand, but from my point of view the ones who end up dominating the class are by no means down to earth and need a reality check. But, that is my personal opinion.
  • Educational Outcomes at Middletown High School North: This school is average and pretty easy to graduate but not good at preparing you for the real world.
  • Health & Safety at Middletown High School North: Bullies are everywhere and this school is no different. Drugs are very common.
  • Administration & Policies at Middletown High School North: Favoritism is very prevalent. Some administration are very dedicated while others should not be allowed to teach. Bullying is a horrible problem here, as well as drugs and fighting.
  • Administration &Policies at Middletown High School South: They care and are disciplinary of the wrong things and there is no focus on bullying

There were many comment other than what I posted above. A vast majority of them are positive  so you should read them for yourself to form your own opinions. I think however, the Middletown Board of Education and School Superintendent should look at this report by Niche and take seriously some of the things students are writing about. They should then reach out to parents in the district, to see what they feel should be done to improve the school district.

Middletown and it's students deserve better.


Anonymous said...

Guess this blows Money Magazine's ranking of Middletown out of the water, doesn't it ???

Anonymous said...

Well just look at how awful the schools are run and how bad our board of education is. I guess we can count on no more tax increases for education since it's clearly not the money. Vote every board of ed member out as they have failed in their mission.

Anonymous said...

"They should then reach out to parents in the district, to see what they feel should be done to improve the school district.

Middletown and it's students deserve better."

Great idea Mike. Maybe they should have a public meeting, say once a month, and they should give residents an opportunity to speak directly to the administrators and the superintendent.

Oh wait, they do have a public Board of Education meeting once a month and they do give residents an opportunity to voice their concerns. But virtually no one shows up.

And the for the parents that do show up, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Seems like your suggestion for improving the school district calls for the district to do exactly what it is already doing.

How many BOE meetings have you attended since your kids have been in the district Mike?
What suggestions have you made to improve the district?
Don't the students living in your home deserve better from you?

Remember Mike, when you point a finger at someone else, you have three more pointing at you.

You are like the guy who doesn't vote and then complains about the government.

Did you bother to compare districts with similar amounts of students?

Do you think it's fair to compare Middletown to Fair Haven or to Milburn which is a small district and one of the wealthiest towns in the entire country?

Mike, I know that you are not a journalist, you don't claim to be, but that was a hack job, and you are performing a disservice to this town. Someone else could have dug a little below the surface and written an article with a positive spin.

But I guess that person would have to know a little bit about what is going on in the school district.

Like maybe that we have already have monthly meetings where residents are encouraged to speak directly to the administration.

Anonymous said...

When politicians get mixed up in the BOE, what do you expect?

Just look back on the BAM slate and the interference from the then TC members. End result chaos and the kids suffer because of the integrity challenged and morally compromised and
supposed adults in this town.

Follow the money and you have a great deal of the problems staring you right in the face !!!

These characters all need a swift kick in their posteriors....maybe more than one !!

Michael Morris said...

Anon 3:34,

You make valid criticisms, I was going to update the post with a few after thoughts but I haven't had the time to do so. Let me answer a few of your criticisms:

I've been to several BOE meetings since the time my kids have been attending school in Middletown (13-14 years). I admit it isn't a lot but its more than many. I would attend more if I didn't work most nights that BOE meetings are held. Both my sons had/have IEP's and my wife and I are always in contact with various administrators locally. I also scroll through the School District's website regularly and read or watch many of the notices and videos posted. I also read the BOE agendas and meeting minutes most months.

There were several school districts in the top 100 that were comparable to Middletown in size and I included some of them in the post; Old Bridge, Jackson and South Brunswick. Others I leave to you to find.

Unless people/parents are uniquely involved in what's going on or urgently encouraged to attend a meeting due to some urgent issue affecting them or their kids, it is nearly impossible to get them out to any type of township meeting whether it be a BOE, Township Committee, Sewerage Authority, Planning or Zoning Board or Freeholder meeting. All these boards and committees have a direct impact on residents pocket books and quality of life. They need a reason to to leave the house after getting home after leaving the house at 4-5 in the morning and not getting home until 6-7 at night. If the school Administration/BOE truly engaged parents with a problem that impacts their families like some of the things that the Niche survey points out, I think people would come out and participate.

I try not to criticize the Middletown BOE, Superintendent or other administration because I feel that they generally try to do what's right and what's best for our kids. Sometimes that isn't the case and I speak out about it. The job of a BOE member is to ensure that our kids are being given the resources needed for success, not nickle and dime the budget in order to keep taxes down, build artificial fields or appease members of the Township Committee.

How a school district compares with other districts in the same county or state is very import to the local municipality and it's residents. The better the school system they better the tax base is and home values.

What students say and feel about their school experience is just as valid as any other measuring matrix and should be heeded.

Anonymous said...

anon, no agenda there

Anonymous said...

'I try not to criticize the Middletown BOE, Superintendent or other administration because I feel that they generally try to do what's right and what's best for our kids. Sometimes that isn't the case and I speak out about it. The job of a BOE member is to ensure that our kids are being given the resources needed for success, not nickle and dime the budget in order to keep taxes down, build artificial fields or appease members of the Township Committee.'

wow! do you really believe all of this? Clearly you have not been to a meeting or have any idea what happens at these meetings

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be nice if we had an educational foundation like Milburn does?

They raise money and issue grants to help with education in the district.

Maybe something like the Middletown Township Education Foundation. That would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Middletown's BOE do the job it's supposed to do to educate our kids.

Leave building turf fields to Middletown Township and the 5 buffoons and spend the money in the class rooms where it is really needed.

Another one of our lowly politician looking to pass the buck, anon 6:34 p.m. ??

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:41, no, I'm not a politician, I'm just a mom who wants the best for her kids and who did a few Google searches about the Middletown Township Educational Foundation(MTTEF).

The MTTEF is a 501 3c tax exempt charitable organization that accepts donations from individuals and local businesses. They also organize and receive the proceeds from The Great Race. The Great Race and the MTTEF are not affiliated with the board of education or the school district in any way. They raise tens of thousands of dollars every year for the purpose of helping teachers in our district with grants for "innovative pilot programs in the classroom". In 2002, there were 13 members on the board of trustees for the MTTEF, according to their latest tax return available online there are currently 3 members, they are:

Joan Minnuies, co-president (Joan is a current member on the Middletown Township Board of Education)

Maria Wheaton, Co-president

Linda Cedagorta, Treasurer

The MTTEF no longer issues grants to teachers as they once did and their tax returns indicates they do. Instead the MTTEF gives checks to parent organizations for them to use as they please. Checks to parent organizations do not qualify as grants, they are hand-outs.

This is from a 2012 Middletown Patch article on how The Great Race proceeds for that year were distributed:

Joan Minnuies:"They (the PTA'S) can put it towards anything they feel that will benefit the kids and their school.”

The article goes on to say:

"River Plaza Elementary’s Parent Faculty Association program received over $3,000, they used the funds to organize special events like Dr. Seuss day, science and cultural enrichment, Halloween night and a movie night, said Marinich. "

Halloween parties and movie nights are great activities for our kids. But they should be funded by the local parent organizations, not an organization that claims it is issuing grants to our teachers. I don't fault the parent organizations for accepting the money, but that $3,000 didn't belong to them. That money, along with the rest of the $41,000 given out that year, rightfully belonged to the teachers in the district to help them discover new ways to better educate our kids. Our teachers no longer see a penny from the MTTEF.

The MTTEF has over $34,000 sitting in their reserves as we speak. Why don't they write at least one grant for the teachers to help better our children's education? Because unfortunately the MTTEF does not even have a website or a program in place for teachers to apply for a grant. They no longer have any intention of writing grants for our teachers.

Is that because a grant to a teacher handed out by a sitting board of education member doesn't get as much publicity as many checks handed out to lots of different voters?

I wonder how many lawn signs would be required to achieve the advertising benefit of that article for a board of education candidate?

The MTTEF was founded by people who were genuinely interested in the education of our kids. I hope The Great Race continues and I hope that the MTTEF can return to its roots and once again provide opportunities for our teachers to innovate.

For those of us that volunteer our time to The Great Race and for all the participants and local business' that donate money and resources, we need to know that our hard work and the money raised is being used the way it was intended to be used, to help our teachers make Middletown a better place to educate our kids.

It's time for someone to take a closer look at the inner workings of the Middletown Township Educational Foundation and determine who is in control and what their agenda is because the organization has clearly has lost its way under its current leadership.

Anonymous said...

One of your problems may be one of the people you named as a co-president and her political connections and just what her agenda really is......

Once you get politics involved in this town, nothing is what it should be, in fact you can be sure it is not what you thought it was.

It is shame there are many integrity challenged individuals involved in organizations like the one you are speaking of.

There must be regulations that govern how these "charitable organizations" are administrated and they must be accountable for how they spend money,especially if they are tax exempt.

Anonymous said...

The MTTEF should open their books so everyone can see just who they are contributing funds to. If it is on the up and up, they will gladly invite the public to have a look.

Anonymous said...

In 2006, they were still giving grants to teachers. Maria Wheaton was a trustee then.

I think Joan Minnuies joined the MTTEF in '08. I understand why Joan decided to gift the money to the parents instead writing grants to the teachers, it's like free boe campaign money for her.

But why did Maria Wheaton decide to stop writing grants to the teachers? Her name is on the tax returns. What's in it for her?

Anonymous said...

We know it's not on the up and up. They aren't issuing grants to teachers as their tax returns say they are.

Anonymous said...

The teachers only have concern for doing what's best for the kids. Not so sure that is the primary concern of the others involved in decisions

Are the tax returns accurate or do they contain false information ?
An audit of the finances of the MTTEF might be in order to establish that information.

Anonymous said...

You don't need an audit,the tax returns are not accurate. Just look at them.

They haven't issued any grants in years. Grants must be applied for and approved by the board of trustees for a specific purpose consistent with the organization's stated purpose.

The tax returns say they are giving the money to teachers for pilot programs, they aren't.

I haven't seen a copy of their bylaws but I can't imagine that the current leadership of the Middletown Township Educational Foundation is following them. It's been hijacked.

Why are all the people who have been involved in the MTTEF over the years letting them get away with this? Why aren't they speaking up?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the answer to these problems is because the MTTEF has been hijacked by the political forces in this town . Follow the money......always follow the money !

If there are clear violations, report them to the authorities and clear up the mess.

Anonymous said...

Mike, if:

"There were many comment other than what I posted above. A vast majority of them are positive"

Why did you decide to cherry pick and print the minority pessimistic reviews and write a negative article about our school system?

Why wasn't the headline:

"The Vast Majority Of Ex-Students Very Pleased With Middletown Schools"

I understand why you are at odds with the politicians in town but why are you going out of your way to make enemies with our teachers and administrators?

Perception is reality. Why are you trying to give the impression that things in our schools are not as good as they are?

Anonymous said...

the board of education needs to be audited, What we need are some true business leaders to volunteer and run. We need to get rid of 'expertise' represented on the board and it starts this year. Vote out anyone sitting on that board

Anonymous said...

Especially the individual who sits on the BOE and the MTTEF.

Anonymous said...

"Especially the individual who sits on the BOE and the MTTEF."

What about the individual who sits on the BOE, the MTTEF and also runs Project Prom for the High School North seniors?

And who was the single largest contributor to the 2012 Project Prom?

That would be the Middletown teacher's union, the MTEA, at an eye popping $4,500.

Why is the Middletown teachers union giving thousands of dollars of our teacher's union dues to a pet project of one of our sitting Board of Education members, Joan Minnuies?

I wonder what they got for that $4,500?

Follow the money indeed.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the MTEA helped sponsor a prom for the students of High School North.

If that's not correct, please clarify ,anon 12:32 P.M..

The MTEA didn't disguise their contribution as anything other than a donation or sponsorship, did they ?? They have rules to abide by also !

Anonymous said...

No, they didn't sponsor the prom. They sponsored the after party which was separate and apparently run by Joan Minnuies.

What did they do for High School South? What are the rules the MTEA abides by? Can they show favoritism towards one of our high school like Joan apparently does?

Look at the list of donors from 2012 a little closer. Brown and Brown Advisors donated $1,500 to Joan's Project Prom.

Brown and Brown was approved by the Board of Education to handle the insurance for the district to the tune of $75,000 and 1% of the prescription plans for the district in 2011.

Is it appropriate for a business that was the beneficiary of the BOE to donate to one of the board member's projects?

What about the New Monmouth PTA? They donated $200 to Project Prom. You've got to sell a lot of cookies to raise $200. Since when does a school's PTA raise money to give to different school? None of the other district's parent organizations did that. What makes the New Monmouth PTA different?

Who is Project Prom? According to the school district agendas they recognize an approved parent organization called the "After Prom Party Organization". Who are the officers of the After Prom Party Organization? I can't find anything online about them. Maybe there are twenty people on the After Prom committee, I don't know. The only contact information I can find for Project Prom is Joan Minnuies' phone number.

Even if you take all these things at face value, the question for me is why is Joan Minnuies involved with the after party for high school North students at all? Isn't it the kind of thing that parents get involved with because they have a kid in the school? And doesn't the leadership typically step down as their kids leave the district like any other parent organization?

I honestly don't know the answers to these questions but given what has happened with the MTTEF since Joan joined that organization and given the fact that she is an elected official, I would like to know the answers.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it needs to be established just what Joan Minnuies's agenda really is in these circumstances.

As an elected official it certainly does not speak well for her integrity if these facts are accurate. No BOE member should ever show partiality to either high school and a lack of judgement seems to be indicated,if the facts are correct as reported.

Anonymous said...

What is Joan's agenda? I think the short answer is that she wants to be superintendent. But since she can't be a superintendent she manipulates our BOE in order to act like one.

Her agenda is to get rid of any administrator who doesn't go along with her. She stays in power by satisfying and expanding her support base, namely the teachers and the parent groups.

Up until now she has been very successful. Look at all the supers who left town because of her tactics.

Why don't they say anything publicly? Self preservation. They all want to work somewhere else. They know they must be approved by a new school board when they apply for a job. They can't bad mouth the school board that they left and expect another school board to hire them. If they burn the bridge behind them, there won't be any bridges left in front of them.

It's been the same pattern ever since she has been on the BOE. The moment a superintendent does something she doesn't like, she starts a campaign to make his life in the district miserable. Maybe he tried to get more out of the teachers union or maybe he hired someone who wasn't her first choice. Then it's war. She has never been able to work with a single superintendent over the years and she never will. She has been trying to get rid of Dr. George almost from the moment he was hired.

Her close involvement with our PTA's is inappropriate. She has no business dealing with them. She is not a parent and she is not a teacher. In fact as a board member she is not permitted to enter our schools without the express permission of the superintendent. A fact which she routinely ignores. The transference of The Great Race funds from grants to our teachers to gifts to the parents and her bias towards one of our high schools over the other with her Project Prom all point towards, if nothing else, the appearance of impropriety.

Anonymous said...

Well Mike, looks like you made the right call moving this topic back to the front page.

The plot thickens. Some of the posts here have been posted on the NJO Middletown forum by Susan Bright. This poster on the NJO forum claims to be one of the key players, Maria Wheaton:

Great Race Error/ Maria Wheaton
by mwheaton, 01/15/15 6:48 AM
Re: Who benifits from The Great Race? by susan_bright, 01/15/15 6:48 AM

"Susan, Yes my name (Maria Wheaton) is listed as Co-President on the MTEF 2012/2013 tax return however I resigned from that position in 2012. Linda Cendagorta/treasurer and Joan Minnuies/President have filed with the state of NJ through their CPA an amended tax return for 2012/2013. According to Mrs. Cendagorta the Great Race treasurer the amended return was received by the State of NJ department of taxation on 11/28/14."

"Let me be very clear I am no longer in any form affiliated with Joan Minnuies and or the Great Race. Maria Wheaton"

That's the end of the post by Maria.

Did Joan knowingly file a tax return with Maria's name on it after Maria left the MTTEF?
There were only three people in the organization, it's not like she had to do a role call.

If what Maria says is true, what happened? She said that the two remaining trustees on the MTTEF, Joan Minnuies and Linda Cendagorta filed an amended return at the end of November that no longer includes Maria as a trustee.

According to law there must be a minimum of three members on the board of trustees for a charitable organization. Did Joan and Linda file the return by themselves or did they find someone else to join the Foundation? Did they operate the charitable organization with just two members? Or did they get someone to say they were a member in 2012 to avoid losing their tax exempt status?

I find it interesting that Maria not only made a point of saying that she is no longer affiliated with The Great Race, but she also said she is no longer affiliated with Joan Minnuies "in any form".

Smart move Maria.

Anonymous said...

very eye opening

All I will say is this, our super is awful and was caught misleading us. He does need to go!

Anonymous said...

Seems Joan lacks more than integrity , she also lacks a lot in the education qualifications she should have. Seems she may even need a high school diploma if rumor is correct. Got more nerve than brains.

Our kids deserve better than lousy BOE members, and they also need astute, qualified administrators running our school system.

Politics has no place in our schools and in recent years some of the antics of the BOE and the TC are a disgrace. It's all about control of the money. Make no mistake about that.

Money buys power of one kind or another. It also buys control....

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:54, Thanks for the non sequitur. Nothing in this article or the ensuing posts has anything even remotely related to any suggestion of wrongdoing by the superintendent. You need to grind your axe somewhere else.

But here is something that may be relevant. In trying to find out who, besides Joan Minnuies, is involved in Project Prom I came across this from one of your articles Mike, from 2011:

"It’s been nearly a week now since Middletown Deputy Mayor Pam Brightbill announced that she wouldn’t seek another term on the Middletown Township Committee."

"The news came as a shock to many, including Board of Education member Joan Minnues, who has worked closely with Brightbill over the years putting together events such as the Great Race and Project Prom."

"She (Joan Minnuies) had told me that she speaks to Pam Brightbill often and had just spoken to her the day before……."

So there is another piece of the pie for consideration. I don't know if Pam Brightbill is still involved with Project Prom and The Great Race or not, but she apparently has worked closely with Joan on them in the not too distant past. In fact Pamela was a trustee for the Middletown Township Education Foundation at one point, 2002, long before Joan joined the organization. They didn't serve at the same time. Pam resigned before Joan took over.

(scroll about half way down)

Anonymous said...

"Seems Joan lacks more than integrity , she also lacks a lot in the education qualifications she should have. Seems she may even need a high school diploma if rumor is correct. Got more nerve than brains."

I have it on pretty good authority that she says she obtained her General Equivalency Diploma (GED).
She may or may not have a GED but one thing is surprisingly clear that she does not have. That would be anyone in the eleven days since this article first ran that is willing to come here and defend her. So far all we have is Maria Wheaton distancing herself from Joan in no uncertain terms.

For someone who wins re-election easily and has so many friends do her bidding at the public comment portion of the BOE meetings, her supporters here are conspicuous by their absence.

Anonymous said...

axe to grind? My problem is with the board as a whole and the super. You cannot pin all the blame on the board and NOT include the super. They all need to go

Anonymous said...

You guys crack me up!

Why doesn't anyone defend Ms. Minnues here? Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

On Mike's blog? Very few people come here at all, and most of those who do wouldn't know he truth about what goes on in Middletown if it hit them right between the eyes!

And as for "favoring" one high school over another, let's be honest here, would any of the kids from High School South bother to attend an after party organized by a charitable organization? Please.

That would mean they'd have to skip the resort hotel suite in Atlantic City where all of their friends were having a gourmet catered after party.

Kids who attend North need support for after the prom - kids from South do not. Bravo to Ms. Minnues for helping them out!

Michael Morris said...

Anon 7:34,

That is precisely why the Middletown school district will never match-up with the better school districts in the state. Our schools are separate and unequal.

Anonymous said...

And perhaps Anon 7:34 is defending a family member who serves on that BOE that treats the kids differently and unequally.

Some attitudes never change in this town.

We would all be better off if you and your kind took your arrogant and sorry butts elsewhere ....

This post was about the quality of our school system and who may be responsible for it's problems.

All of Middletown's kids deserve better than number 156 in this state.

Anonymous said...

The nature of some of these posts may intimidate any well intentioned parent who just wants to do their best to volunteer for the the benefit of the children and the district. Perhaps that is why some schools say it is difficult to find volunteeers to run programs. Certainly an obstacle that will continue to keep Middletown off the top list of schools. The community including leaders, staff, BOE, parents and students need to build, not tear down. The only real way to solve the problems is by coming up with solutions and taking real steps to achieve them.

Anonymous said...

Mike, here are some comments that you missed:

"the bathrooms are in disrepair"

"There's supposedly an anti-bullying program but bullying continues."

"Bullying can be an issue, but it's not the guns-and-threats variety. It's the mean girls and sexting stuff."

"The dress code is rarely enforced"

"The school is very one sided. Not much diversity."

"Very little diversity. The school doesn't offer after school clubs"

"There is little to none of school spirit. Most students do not care enough."

"They stick regular kids with Accelerated kids in the same class when they don't have enough teachers."

"If your child is a fit-in-a-square-peg kind of kid, he might be fine here, but this is a very tough, unforgiving social environment for kids"

"there is little thought to issues like homework, stress and differentiated learning."

"parents are involved, but they tend to care only about getting what their kid needs."

"Not ethnically, economically or religiously diverse."

"I also found the students to be a bit unwelcoming , and definitely intolerant at times."

"I did not like the social atmosphere"

Every one of those comments are from the same study that you quoted.

They are from the #1 ranked school district in the state, the Millburn School District which includes Short Hills which was recently recognized as the wealthiest town per capital in the USA.

I wonder if they have a blogger up there like you who wrote an article entitled:

"Millburn Is NOT The Best School District In The Country, Our Kids Deserve Better"

I hope this puts your article in perspective.

Anonymous said...

Mike, here are some comments that you missed from the Niche report:

"the bathrooms are in disrepair"
"There's supposedly an anti-bullying program but bullying continues."

"Bullying can be an issue....."

"The dress code is rarely enforced"

"The school is very one sided. Not much diversity."

"Very little diversity. The school doesn't offer after school clubs"

"There is little to none of school spirit. Most students do not care enough."

"They stick regular kids with Accelerated kids in the same class when they don't have enough teachers."

"If your child is a fit-in-a-square-peg kind of kid, he might be fine here, but this is a very tough, unforgiving social environment for kids"

"there is little thought to issues like homework, stress and differentiated learning."

"parents are involved, but they tend to care only about getting what their kid needs."

"Not ethnically, economically or religiously diverse."

"I also found the students to be a bit unwelcoming , and definitely intolerant at times."

"I did not like the social atmosphere"

Every one of those comments are from the same study that you quoted.

They are about the #1 ranked school district in the state, the Millburn School District.

I wonder if they have a blogger up there like you who wrote an article entitled:

"Millburn Is NOT The Best School In The Known Universe, Our Kids Deserve Better"

Again Mike, Middletown had a B+ rating according to the Niche study you cited. That's pretty damn good. Why did you choose to go out of your way to write a negative article about our schools? You weren't reporting the facts, you were picking and choosing the facts to suit your preconceived ideas.

Anonymous said...

Oops. I should know better than to do a pre-coffee post. Didn't mean to send it twice.

But having said that Mike, please comment on it. Why didn't you write a positive article? There were plenty of things in the Niche study to crow about. By your own admission the vast majority of the comments were positive.

The only area where the district got below a B- was diversity. And it was judged mostly by the degree of diversity in the town. There is nothing the school district can do to change the makeup of the town. So the only area that the district did not do well in is an area they have no control over. And frankly, it has no place in rating the job a school district is doing in the first place.

Did you write a negative article just to raise eyebrows and get a reaction? One thing is for sure, you didn't look at the Niche report objectively.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the parents, the administration,the teachers,and the BOE should recognize there are many problems that need fixing to elevate the quality of education the kids in Middletown ( all of this town ) are getting !!

Trouble is there's a lot of expressed sentiment that alludes to the "have's versus the have not's. This is a culture that is sick and destructive. About time that everyone thought about what is best for every Middletown student (all inclusive). We have an obligation to every one of them!!

Until then nothing changes and never will. Some of the comments here sound like "47 percent" sound bites from a Mitt Romney speech.

God help us all.

Anonymous said...

I would definitely take no diversity and best in state

Anonymous said...

I'm not necessarily defending anybody, I'm just not attacking blindly like mot of the posters here.

What would make our school system better would be blending the enrollment at the middle and high school level and ensuring an equality of resources north and south.

Anonymous said...

Mike, There are approximately 1,000 employees in the Middletown school district. And while I am not one of them, I know quite of few of them. They hard working dedicated employees trying to make the Middletown school system the best it can be. After years of chaos and a mass exodus from central office we now have stable leadership and the district is steadily improving.

I have asked you numerous times to explain why you went out of your way to paint this school district in a negative light. You refuse to answer. I have demonstrated that anyone could have written a negative article about even the best school district in the state using the comments from the Niche study as evidence.

Since you went out of your way to misrepresent the study and you will not explain yourself, although I can't speak for the 1,000, personally I can only conclude you did it because you are a jerk.

You think our kids deserve a better school system?

I think this town, our kids and especially the school district employees deserves better than you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:30 a.m. on 1/19/2014,

Don't believe Mike was criticizing 1000 of the school district's workers. Possibly some administrators,some teachers and the BOE. That criticism is valid..

This township can do better and for many years it did. That has not been so since one member in particular has run rampant over everyone else on the board and sine the TC has interfered in our BOE elections!

Mike is no jerk and his endeavors to keep his followers informed is appreciated, do not call him names. Just shows your ignorance and lack of class. Don't like being disagreed with do you ??

There are many things in this town that need improvement and the school system is just one of them. The political climate in this town sucks, if you will please excuse the use of that word. No one seems to realize there are 67,000 people in this town of diversified affiliations,diversified economic statuses and diversified other human conditions.

Until that awakening happens, nothing changes and quality of life can and does suffers in Middletown !!

One only needs to watch the petty antics at TC meetings to see lack of respect referred to and the BOE is no better.

Time they all came to grips with the fact they represent every citizen of this town,not just their own political allies.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:30

When Mike comments on the goings on of the township committee he does so from a position of knowledge. When he criticizes the school district, he does it from a position of ignorance.

The Niche study that he used to trash the school district gave Middletown a B+ rating.

The methodology that they used to arrrive at the B+ rating used 90 per cent empirical evidence and just 10 per cent anecdotal evidence, the survey responses. Mike ignored all the empirical data and, by his own admission, the vast majority of the anecdotal data.He chose to search through the "vast majority" of positive responses to misrepresent what the study concluded so that he could criticize the school district.

He is not "informing" the people of Middletown, he is misinforming them.

Does that make Mike a jerk? That's debatable. That's not why I called him a jerk.

When I pointed out that he could have cherry picked comments from even the best school district in the state and written the same negative article, he didn't respond.

He needs to either defend his words or admit that it was a gratuitous hatchet job. When he failed to do either I concluded he must be a jerk who cannot defend what he did.

That article was an example of journalistic dishonesty.

He took the positive results of the Niche study and twisted them to suit his preconceived ideas.

I'd like to give Mike the benefit of the doubt and assume that he doesn't realize what he did because he isn't that bright, but if he won't defend his words, after I pointed out what he did,I'll assume he's being a jerk.

You think some people "suck", I think Mike is a jerk. Maybe we're both right.

Anon 12:22p.m. said...

Anon 8:28 a.m. 1/20/2014,

For your information I said the political climate in Middletown "sucks". I did not say anyone in particular sucks.That encompasses a whole lot besides any one person.

Now I will tell you your attitude sucks and if you take offense to that...too bad ! You are being an overbearing jerk as well.

Anonymous said...

Whatever, neither you or Mike can dispute anything I said about the article he wrote.

If you still think that it was informative and accurate then you are exactly the type of person that Mike is trying to appeal to.

And I maintain the right to believe that someone who does that to our public employees is a jerk.

Anonymous said...

Maintain all you want but you also are a "so blind you cannot see" jerk !!

The school system in this town needs improvement and a whole lot less politics!!!!

Anonymous said...

A wise poster once told me that I shouldn't call Mike a jerk because it:

"Just shows your ignorance and lack of class."

Isn't it funny when people try to insult someone else and end up having their own words used against them?

Anonymous said...

Appears you must get the last word,anon 11:53.

Remember "it takes one to call one" !!

Anonymous said...

As for the last word, that was a self defeating statement, wouldn't you say?

Let me get this straight, you call me a jerk and in your next post you say:

"Remember "it takes one to call one" !!"

That cements the deal. You definitely display the level of intelligence that Mike appeals to.

Now, you may have the last word.