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Community engagementThe following was sent to Scarsdale10583 by the Scarsdale League of Women Voters:

League Board Comment on Board of Education Community Engagement

The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, Board of Directors (the “League Board”), appreciates this opportunity to offer input and comment on the Board of Education’s Community Engagement Process. The League Board believes that proactive community engagement is of vital importance to Board of Education members (the “Board”). The following thoughts and recommendations have been coalesced from past League consensus statements.

General Recommendations

As the League promotes the active participation of citizens in government; we encourage the Board:

to be proactive and wide-reaching in soliciting input and feedback;
to engage in dialogue with community members and groups to better and more fully understand constituent views and broader community priorities.

Some ways to achieve this would be Board coffees, focus groups and formal invitations to specific neighborhoods for Board meetings.

The League believes that a more complete picture of community feedback, combined with relevant expert opinions and research, will serve to enhance Board decisions on complex issues as well as facilitate community understanding and appreciation of the schools.

We encourage the Board to engage in a methodical public process to ensure that resulting Board policies and decisions accurately reflect Scarsdale community values.

The League recommends that the Board:

-engage early interest in District issues;
-actively seek input from residents to identify the range of community sentiment;
-engage in clear and timely communication methods;
-create spaces for dialogue.

Budget Process

In terms of the annual Budget process, the League recommends that the Board:

provide the community sufficient information and time necessary to view any Administration or Board member Budget recommendation within the larger
context of District educational goals, a master facilities’ plan, and through the lens of Scarsdale’s role as an educational leader.

The League believes that in order to understand what is at stake for our children and our community in the budget process and to make informed choices, voters need transparency on all value considerations including the needs that are not being addressed in any given proposed budget, in order to better understand the wider breadth of future District needs and plans.

Advocacy

The League recommends that the Administration and Board reinstate a Legislative Advisory Committee comprised of broad community representation, in order to:

-monitor relevant legislative issues;
-increase the number of community members educated on current issues;
-expand the community’s engagement;
-and to raise an awareness of the often-complicated legislative issues that may impact the district.

The League Board looks forward to further engagement with School Board members on process and policies to best support and enhance Scarsdale Schools and the community at large.

kindergarten“I decided when she was in-utero to keep her in preschool for an extra year.” 

“I’m sending him to kindergarten even though he’s not five until November because all of his preschool teachers say he is ready.”

“I know someone who held her July baby back from kindergarten because she wanted him to be the first to drive and I know someone who held her November baby back because she was concerned that his friends would be tired of going to Bar Mitzvahs by his Bar Mitzvah time.”  

“My daughter sent her 4-year-old son to kindergarten ‘on time’ because she really couldn’t justify paying for another year of preschool for her third child.” 

“Redshirting” is term used in college athletics to describe an athlete benched for a year so they will be bigger and stronger when they actually play. Malcom Gladwell’s 2008 book “Outliers” claims that a person’s age, relative to his/her peers, is a key predictor of success.  Gladwell helped expand the definition of “redshirting” to describe the parent-driven decision to hold their child back from a natural entry into kindergarten based on birth date and district cutoff. Initially, parents redshirted to gain a predicted “early boost” for their child based on the real or perceived notion that older children outperform their peers early on academically, socially and athletically. However, some studies have shown that the initial academic advantage older students have over younger students decreases over time. In fact, 2009 data from Scarsdale shows that younger students have a higher GPA at graduation than older students.

GPAvs.Age

According to Edgar McIntosh, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment, re-analysis in 2019 showed no correlation between age at kindergarten start and GPA at graduation. A 2011 New York Times opinion piece suggests that more mature kids may actually be negatively affected by less mature peers at the grade school level. None of this takes into account social, emotional or developmental data points which some parents use to help make their decision.

Anyone who has had a boy in preschool with a birthday in the second half of the year has likely been asked whether they plan to hold their child back for an extra year before beginning kindergarten.  

A local program for five year olds promotes the year saying, “Give your child the gift of an extra year” as a marketing tool. What is this gift?  More sleep and play for one additional year? Going to kindergarten a stronger reader? Not being the smallest on the soccer team? The idea that the child will have a lifelong advantage over others? 

And how many parents are willing to pay the extra tuition? In our survey, only 8% of respondents said cost was a factor in deciding whether to delay kindergarten for their child. The majority (60%) said money was not a factor at all. However several parents commented that redshirting is “a gift” that some can’t afford.

redshirtcost

Parents who decide not to redshirt their child now find that their kids can be 15, 18 or even 20 months younger than kids who have been redshirted. Kindergarten teachers report that teaching four through six-year-olds together can be challenging.

As per New York State law, school districts retain the right to decide in which grade to place a child in school, but Scarsdale and most other school districts allow the parents to ultimately make the call. (New York City, however, has a strict cut-off of December 31st for kindergarten in order “to make education more equitable”). When a parent registers a child for Kindergarten at one of the five public elementary schools, each individual child will undergo an assessment. The school will make a recommendation for placement and if a parent questions this, they are encouraged to reach out to their local school or Eric Rauschenback, Director of Special Education and Special Services. In fact, Mr. Rauschenback published the school’s position on redshirting last year in the Dale Dispatch:  

Scarsdale10583.com sent out a redshirting survey to the community and got a tremendous response rate. Schools in Westchester and elsewhere allow parents to make the decision to delay kindergarten while in New York City, there is a strict cut-off of December 31st for kindergarten in order “to make education more equitable”.  

Many parents wrote in saying that they felt stressed about having the responsibility to decide whether or not their child is socially, physically, emotionally and developmentally ready for kindergarten citing conflicting data regarding the pros and cons. Our local survey results, on the other hand, reveal that most parents don’t want to allow the schools to decide for them. A solid 57% of parents wanted control over kindergarten entry time versus 35% who said they think the schools should make the call.

redshirtdecision

The rest wrote in to say they would prefer for it to be a collaborative decision or that it shouldn’t be done at all. “Everyone should go to kindergarten according to their birthday,” wrote one respondent. “This would put everyone on a more level playing field, not having 4 and 6-year-olds in the same class. If they’re not ready for first grade, have them repeat kindergarten; if they’re not ready for college, have them take a gap year.” 

Back in 2013, we asked parents how they would describe their decision to redshirt their child and classified the decisions into three categories called “the three C’s”: compassionate, competitive or coerced.

Compassionate - This parent is genuinely concerned about their individual child’s kindergarten readiness and has sometimes been advised by a professional (e.g. pediatrician or preschool teacher) to redshirt based on the child’s developmental needs.   Some experts believe that children of this type may benefit from special services offered in public schools more so than a kindergarten delay. 

Competitive - This parent has generally reviewed the data that supports redshirting and believes that their child will have a competitive edge over his classmates if redshirted.  This purported “edge” can be academic, social, and/or athletic. 

Coerced - This parent feels pressured to redshirt their child because so many others are doing so and can see that they are skewing the kindergarten entry age. This parent is less likely to take their individual child into consideration when making the decision to redshirt and may be concerned that allowing their child a natural entry into kindergarten means that their child isn’t just 11 months younger than another child, but maybe even a year and a half younger.  

Our 2019 survey results revealed that about 40% describe their decision as compassionate, 14 % felt coerced, 5% felt competitive and 41% did not or would not redshirt their child. Several people commented that they really felt it was a combination of being coerced and competitive, or compassionate yet ultimately coerced.
RedshirtF

When asked about why they decided to redshirt their child, the majority of people did so simply because of the child’s birthdate. The secondary reason was social followed closely by readiness. Physical attributes such as short stature ranked last as parents impetus for delaying kindergarten (Image G). One mom said, “My son gets tired early afternoon and still naps. Full-day kindergarten would be too hard on him.” A few other parents cited speech and motor delay issues as their reason to redshirt as well as being born prematurely. A mom commented, “I didn’t hold back our very young but big and bright son; it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do.” Yet another mom didn’t hold her daughter back, “…but now she’s 18 months younger than a couple other kids in her class which just seems unfair to me.” One dad admitted he did it because of how competitive other parents are and another parent said they redshirted because they thought there was a discrepancy between the child’s biological age and developmental age.

A Scarsdale preschool director and “3’s” teacher informed me that in her experience, most parents who solicit help in making the kindergarten decision feel like they fall into the “coerced” category.  “Kindergarten should be ready for children whether or not all children are ready for Kindergarten,” she said. For this site’s 2013 redshirting piece, Lynn Shain, who was serving as Scarsdale’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum pointed out, “…there are developmental differences between kids born on the same day and kids born 17 months apart.” 

So, what’s the answer? Because that’s why you’re reading this to the end, right? 

Jen Meerow Berniker published a letter to her son last year on the Scary Mommy blog, apologizing for being “so foolish” as to conceive him at a time that would result in her having to face the dilemma “…about whether or not to delay kindergarten…the parenting micro-crisis of the moment for parents of 4-year-olds with late birthdays.”   

She summarizes the entire idea of redshirting by saying, “At the time you are going through it, it seems like the most important decision ever, like you are holding your child’s fate in your hands, as if that arbitrary month in which they were born has something to do with who they will become, rather than just a data point in the larger picture of a life.” And with that, Jen sent her 4-year-old boy to kindergarten.

SvedPhoto(This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Arnaud Bezard-Falgas)
Searching the web on people who counted in my career, I feel so sorry to come across this announcement

I got to know Bev back in 1985 in Paris. Finishing my business school, I worked as a trainee in the Market Intelligence department (of the IBM European headquarters), she was leading. Thus, I spent 6 months benefiting from her bright intelligence, business acumen and sharp and open mind. 

At the end, she strongly supported my application to a permanent job within IBM and the beginning of an 18-year career path that headed to a sales and marketing manager role through enjoyable intermediate positions. I measure to what extent I owe this to her and am still feel so grateful. I will not forget.

If you could pass on to her relatives my warm thoughts, I would really appreciate.

Many thanks in advance.
Arnaud Bezard-Falgas

LeilaLeila Gordon Davis was born to 2006 SHS graduates, Lily Gordon and Zach Davis,  on 12/31/19, weighing 8lbs 11 oz. and 20.5” long.  Leila’s grandparents are Erica Horwitz and David Gordon of Scarsadle and Rona and Brandon Davis, formerly of Scarsdale.  New Year’s Eve will always be extra special for the family.

Do you have a birth, engagement, wedding, obituary or other family news to share? Email us at scarsdalecomments@gmail.com.

UnderweiserDan Hochvert remembered Former Deputy Mayor Beatrice Underweiser at the Scarsdale Forum meeting on Thursday December 12. Underwesier passed away last week at the age of 85. Hochvert noted Underweiser’s long and distinguished career of volunteerism on behalf of the Scarsdale community, serving on many village boards and councils. She served on the Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees from 1980- 84 and was the Police Commissioner and the Village’s Deputy Mayor.

Underweiser had a long and successful career as an attorney for Underweiser & Underweiser LLP, specializing in trusts and estates law, planning and administration, tax, and general business law. She graduated from Vassar College and the Columbia University School of Law. She was also a Trustee of the City University Construction Fund from 1978-80. She was a member of the Beach Point Club.

According to Hochvert, Underweiser was one of the first woman in the Village Club, which merged with the Town Club to become the TVCC and ultimately the Scarsdale Forum. Her son and daughter also served on the TVCC and the Forum

Her funeral was held on Friday, December 13 at 11:30 am at Westchester Reform Temple, 255 Mamaroneck Road, with an internment at Sharon Gardens.

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