Letters to the Editor

The letters below are in response to “Building a Teacher Task Force to Change the Way Teaching is Done” by Avi Baran Munro in Jewish Educational Leadership Fall 2007 (6:1) – Building Professional Learning Communities. The article can be accessed here.

To the Editor:

An article in your journal by Mrs. Avi Munro was recently called to my attention. As her predecessor at Community Day School, I feel compelled to respond to some of the assertions she made in the introductory paragraphs.

  • She wrote: “I knew that I was coming to a school that was divided over the previous administration’s approach to instruction.” In fact: Our faculty surveys indicated that over 90% favored our instructional policy of grouping.
  • She wrote: “Most parents of the advanced students were happy with this arrangement; most parents of students in the middle and low groups were upset it.” In fact: The last parent survey done during my tenure indicated very favorable ratings of above 85% in almost all categories in terms of parent satisfaction.
  • She wrote: Students who were in low classes for math, language arts, and Hebrew traveled together throughout the day and were known to all, and referred by all, as the low group.” In fact: The groups, advanced grade-level, above grade-level and at grade-level were seldom identified by name. Students were in different groupings throughout the day including a couple of periods with their homeroom base. A student could be in the at grade-level group for Hebrew, the above grade level for math and the advanced grade-level for language arts. The groups were flexible and the at grade-level classes were always very small in size and the advanced-level classes always had the most students.
  • She wrote: “When I began as head of school, our seventh graders had been grouped since first grade.” In fact: That class did not begin grouping until fourth grade when grouping usually began. However, at the request of teachers, grouping worked it way down to the lower grades because of the advantages seen by the teachers.
  • She wrote: “The board of directors, many of the parents and some of the teachers wanted to see things change.” In fact: The board of directors, including professors of education, unanimously agreed with the changes I instituted.

Sincerely,

Frank Smizik

Avi Baran Munro responds:

With regard to Mr. Smizik’s objections to my article in the Fall 2007 edition of Jewish Educational Leadership, I regret any implied disrespect to Mr. Smizik from my introductory comments. No such disrespect was intended, and I am sorry that he felt the need to respond. As someone with a long involvement in the school, both as a parent and a professional leader, I respect Mr. Smizik’s many positive contributions made to the school during his tenure as Head of School, despite my disagreement with him on core matters of instructional philosophy and practice.

Regarding the facts he contests, I stand by my article as it was written.

Avi Baran Munro
Head of School

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