03/13/15 6:00am

To the editor:

In last week’s “The flaws with scores, evaluations” opinion piece, Southold and Greenport Superintendent David Gamberg uses a false analogy (a parody?) to argue against objective measurement. He proposed physicians of all specialties be judged by community weight loss, even though most don’t treat obesity! In reality, physicians with board certification in a specialty must pass lengthy written tests every 10 years for re-certification. Teachers don’t!  (more…)

05/08/14 6:00am
Southold School District Superintendent David Gamberg .

Southold School District Superintendent David Gamberg. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson, file)

To the editor:

Southold School District Superintendent David Gamberg has been an outspoken critic of the Common Core Learning Standards implementation and its testing requirements. So his expressed desire to apply “common sense” to education is not surprising.

But hey, it’s common sense to put things back where you found them. But why, then, are shopping carts all over the parking lot at the end of a market day?  (more…)

03/13/14 5:00am

Southold Town police

To the editor:

The Feb. 10 Suffolk Times reported that police arrested a Peconic man whose license had been suspended 29 times previously, and now accused him of again driving without a license or car registration. The March 6 issue reported on a Bellport man with 100 active suspensions who was arrested for speeding in an unregistered vehicle, with no insurance, no inspection and “switched” license plates. (more…)

03/15/12 8:00pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Students at last year's Southold High graduation.

Judging is an art and judging is part experience and part knowledge. Judging may express preference or prejudice, but judge we must. Is this fruit ripe? Did I get full value? Who should be president? Most of us would rather judge than be judged. Evaluation is judging and being evaluated can be painful.

The reactions to proposals to evaluate our public school teachers from leaders including Southold School Superintendent David Gamberg, teachers’ unions and educators at all levels are mostly emotional and display a deep-seated fear of being judged.

Remember, only 20 percent of the evaluation is to be based on objective student test scores. Another 60 percent is subjective peer evaluation. But that 20 percent is deemed unreliable and inappropriate by critics, who demand that we abandon the process.

Yet these are the same people we depend upon to inform us about our students’ progress and deficits, and to judge who shall get honors and scholarships and who will get what kind of recommendation for college admission. Isn’t that ironic?

In the many responses to Gov. Cuomo’s efforts to introduce formal and public teacher evaluation, teachers, union leaders and educational leaders have offered little but delaying tactics, such as more study is needed or how about conducting small trials. We should ask what the schools and colleges of education have been researching and studying, if not how to evaluate learning and teaching?

How do they evaluate their students, teaching interns, teachers and colleague professors? Is their only solution to say, “Trust us, we know learning and good teaching when we see it”? If so, they’ve failed miserably in their professional duties.

A major tenet of professionalism is established self-evaluation. How do I know I am doing the best that I can? Another distinguishing feature of professionals is the search for evidence that they may be wrong as opposed to searching for facts that reassure they are correct. This process of self-evaluation is how the practice of a profession, and each of us, improves.

Teachers and their leaders seem to be like the young kids who play soccer at a level where scores are not kept and exceptionally good players are removed from the field because they are making the opposing team feel bad.

We, the public, need to be the parents who say it’s time to begin keeping score. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but keeping the score is how you know you’re playing better.

Why should we? Because we’re paying a heavy price for a service that fails to produce what we need: well-educated citizens and young adults fully ready for college or whatever life path is appropriate.

Mr. Geiss is a retired professor who taught for 25 years at the doctoral and undergraduate level at Adelphi University. He lives in Southold.

03/02/11 9:33pm

We watched the Feb. 15 Town Board meeting, again and again. Unbelievable! Neighbors, including Town Board members, tried to discuss the required competition to seek an operator for the town animal shelter. It turned into a witch hunt.

Fear ruled. Fears singled out “outsiders” and fear said animals would be killed. All feared change. A witch was found: my wife, Carole. She wrote a letter, she had sued the North Fork Animal Welfare League. She interfered in town business, she wanted to rule. Chant, “kill the witch!”

Life is change, change is growth. Personal loss ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­— a pet, a spouse, your health, a job or business — forces us to adapt. Competition demands change. It’s what built America. Some insist on keeping the old ways. Both can exist, but in our current economic stress change will win out. Don’t you want the best for your children and their children? Learning changes us.

The Town Board said it wants the best for taxpayers and the animals it shelters. The angry citizens first want no change. The belief is that the North Fork Animal Welfare League does a great job, it has for 40 years, even our supervisor said so.

To change, to improve, we need to abandon belief and learn truths. One speaker said we need openness, transparency, we need to examine. We need that both for government and the shelter operator. Competition for the best service, the best care, requires seeing what is real and what is false. We need to work together, to cooperate, to understand reality and abandon fantasy. There is no witch.

How did the new shelter get built? Then-councilman William Moore and I made a presentation to the Town Board in July 2002. The board committed to building. The league found fault and obstructed each step ahead. Finally, building began in 2008.
Blankets make the dogs comfortable, but the Lighthouse for the Blind in Smithtown does not use blankets for its 80 dogs in training. They need to be ready for pavement, shop floors, any environment a service dog works on. Lint clogs washing machines and dryers and ventilation filters. Stop using blankets. Canvas slings on plastic frames are easily hosed off. No lint, no clogs, less work — but it requires change.

The “witch” sued. Why? To get the right for four other longtime Southolders and herself, all League members, to compete in an election for NFAWL directors. The real question is why did league officers spend around $150,000 to prevent that? The Town Clerk has their financials; the organizations’s 2010 assets total $861,889.46. Why did they change from a membership to a non-membership corporation?

Euthanasia evokes fear. The league operates a no-kill shelter. But check the shelter reports to the Town. Dogs and cats are euthanized. In 2000 it was 22 dogs out of about 58 sheltered. Murderous? Depends. False? No. Outsiders? No. Gillian Wood-Pultz was executive director, Therese McGuiness was vice president. Look at the census reports.

Is there a humane no-kill shelter? There are less-than-humane shelters that incarcerate animals for years.

The league needs to change. To respond to the town’s request, respond constructively and do the best they can.

Let’s work together. Let’s be more charitable to each other. Let’s cooperate, let’s be open, let’s talk. Let’s be creative, let’s find ways to make the care, training and service better. Let’s agree there is no witch and fear is unwarranted. Let’s shun the people spreading false rumors.

I’ve got 10 years invested in a better shelter. Now let’s get the animals adopted into good homes and the taxpayers served better.

Mr. Geiss is a Southold resident and former member of the town’s animal shelter committee.