Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

I would like to respond to last week’s Letter to the Editor by Anne Phillips, “School Board Meetings Appear Disjointed.” In her letter I was prominently mentioned for a rebuttal to her and the BTA I wrote nearly two years ago (Feb. 7, 2014) in the Beachcomber News. At that time I challenged the Brigantine Taxpayers Association's president Phillips’ assertion when she questioned "Are Brigantine Brigantine Schools Failing Their Students?" as inaccurate and the same old political posturing. That letter obviously has had some incredible impact in many circles, so much so that it is still being referred to 20 months after it was first published. In that letter I challenged the myopic view by the Mrs. Phillips that everything is about test scores when it comes to student success. Mrs. Phillips and the BTA had been saying the same thing for 10 previous years, but in that same time many hundreds of Brigantine students have gone on to much notable success. I wrote that test scores are just one piece of the big puzzle, not the "be all, end all." Today more than ever, I stand by my original letter and my firm belief has only been reinforced by the research that I continually seek out, put forward by nationally renowned educators and experts in the field of learning and childhood development, and more importantly, from my own children as I watch them learn and grow. Does Mrs. Phillips and the BTA feel uncomfortable to look into anything but numbers? Children are more than numbers. I dare to say that I have a giant stake in what goes on in our schools, as well as the other many hundreds of Brigantine families. My husband and I have four of our children that are presently in the Brigantine Schools and have two others that have gone off to successful high school and university accomplishments. Are there issues? There will always be issues and room for improvement in any institution or organization and we should always strive for excellence, not perfection. According to many experts including Edward Haertel, emeritus professor, Stanford University, who states "It is not hard to understand why accountability testing is popular with policy makers. Testing enjoys broad popular support. Calling for more higher-stakes testing is a visible, dramatic response to public concerns about education. Moreover, the idea that demanding higher test scores will improve schooling carries with it the not-too-subtle implications that students, teachers and administrators just aren't trying hard enough" that from performance assessment and education reform. Haertel also goes on to state that many "student differences are out of the teachers’ control. They include individual aptitudes, prior educational history, after school experiences (museums, libraries), peer influences and individual summer loss and parental support."

Finally, Mrs. Phillips and others present have been obsessed and fixated that I happened to have used my legal name on the original letter to the Beachcomber, and made the assertion at the last board meeting that I was hiding behind my maiden name, and that it was not my real name. For the record, I did not take my husband’s last name when we married. I am a professional, strong and independent women with my own ideas, values and opinions, who happens to married to a school board member and the present president of the Brigantine Republican Club Jim Mackey. Mrs. Phillips and others have tried to turn this connection into some sort of sinister plot or diabolic evil conspiracy. I applaud Mayor Guenther for appointing someone like my husband as a member of the Brigantine Board of Education. Who better than a qualified parent to look out for the interests of all the children of Brigantine than someone who has several children presently in the school system, and who is also a taxpayer, of which I am, as is my husband. It is an unpaid position, but one that is very important for the community and Brigantine's future. In my world it is called civic duty and volunteer public service.

Newsflash: The era of "Leave it to Beaver" has long been over. Mrs. Clever has now left the kitchen.

Veronica McEvoy

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