Freeport Students Sink ē
Latino Parents Ignored
By Stewart Lilker.
what has become a recurring bad dream for the concerned
residents in the district, the latest standardized test scores
placed Freeportís 4th and 8th graders squarely in the bottom
of the barrel, once again. In 4th grade math, Freeportís
students placed fifty second out of fifty three districts
reporting in Nassau County. Freeportís 8th graders faired no
better, placing forty-third in math and a dismal forty-forth out
of forty-five districts in reading. The Roosevelt school
district, which is about to be taken over by the state,
outscored Freeport in its 4th grade scores.
In his superintendentís
report, the subject of which was kept from the public until the
meeting, district Superintendent, Dr. Eric Eversley, read from a
prepared statement. "This is not a level we feel
comfortable with," he told the Board.
Not wanting to put the blame on
anyone, Eversley claimed that the scores were "not
indicative of the quality of our students" or
"indicative of school quality."
Ever since the state began its
new standardized testing, Freeport has been making excuses, as
its students languish near or at the bottom of the heap. Former
district Superintendent, Josephine Moffett once told your
reporter, "Our students do well enough."
The Freeport Board of Education
has never acknowledged that student achievement is in any way a
result of adult performance. Over the past few years,
experienced teachers abandoned the district, as impotent teacher
union leadership did nothing to stem the tide.
The district touted its ineffectual
programs and hired spin doctors to gloss over its failures. In a
trend begun by former Board President, Dante Grover, the school
board members and members Freeport's village board removed their
children from the district and enrolled them in private schools.
The Freeport Police Department was granted an exemption from the
villageís residency law because they didnít want to send
their children to Freeportís schools.
Even though Freeportís
students have been underachieving for years, Superintendent
Eversley told the Board, "We have to build on the work of
the past that has been successful. Blaming is destructive.
Speculation has the same effect."
The scores continue to reveal
that the district has done little that has worked. Eversley told
the Board, "We need to stop doing things that donít
Initially, Eversley seemed like
he wanted to find those who were accountable for the poor
performance, telling the Board, "Accountability is part of
all this." But he went on to say, "We are not going to
spend energy trying to figure out who we are going to point
Finally, Eversley told the
Board, "The future is not at all bright."
When Eversley finished his
report, the Board sat silent, asking no questions and showing no
No Latinos Need Apply
"Itís Our Meeting."
Even though the districtís
Latino student population is approaching fifty percent, the
districtís lack of concern for its Latino parents remains
ever-present. At the September Planning meeting, the
Board was split three to two on whether or not to provide
Spanish translation at the Board meetings. Board President
Muscara, along with Coward and Raab were in favor of
translation, while past president Ellerbe and newly elected
psychologist Cattano were opposed. In order to keep their
division from the public, no mention of interpreters was ever
sent home to the Spanish speaking parents, informing them that
translation would be available at the Board meetings. The
District Clerk, left out any record of the discussion and the
vote regarding Spanish interpreters. Your reporter questioned
the Board about this.
Earlier in the evening, about forty-five minutes after the
meeting began, you mentioned that there was somebody here that
could translate into Spanish. Could you please tell me if a
letter was sent to the Spanish speaking parents of this
district advising them of the fact that an interpreter would
be at this meeting tonight?
I donít believe that a letter was sent, but I do know we
have made announcements [in English] about it.
If a parent hadnít come to these meetings, could you tell me
how they would know?
How would they know?
They would have to come to the meeting. They would come to the
meeting and they would know.
So there would be no Spanish speaking parent tonight that
would ever know, would there? (There were none at the
meeting that needed translation).
Youíre assuming that every parent cannot speak English. Thatís
No. That is not it.
OK. Then I think you need to understand that lot of them can
And a lot of them canít. Thatís why we have a translator.
The parents have never been advised, other than by your
announcements, is that correct?
As far as I know.
Would anybody else know, maybe in the administration?
But the service is available now.
(looking at the Superintendent) Would anybody else know
if the parents had been advised? This is not a trick question.
We donít know? Next question.
I am asking the administration. You canít answer the
question for them. (to the Superintendent) Does anybody
in the administration know if the parents have ever been
stared straight ahead, refusing to speak)
Point of order. Point of order, Mr. President.
(to the Board members) Itís our meeting.
After the meeting via e-mail,
newly elected Board member Cattano told FNYN, "I am not
happy with the test scores, but it is not singularly a failure
of the schools, teachers and administrators. The schools are an
extension of the community and reflective of the problems that
exist in our community. The school board cannot rectify all of
that. The issue of why a student does not thrive or learn up to
expectations is multi-determined. We need to understand the
nature of those determinants before establishing a strategy for
dealing with them. Those scores are one dimensional and do not
reflect progress that has been made."
Before being elected to the
Board, Cattano enrolled his daughter in private school for