UPDATED: Star Ledger Writes Editorial Saying Montclair Assessment Leak is Sabotage. Montclair Times Chimes in Too

BY  |  Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 8:19am  |  COMMENTS (50)

MontclairUpdate: Read below for information on a Montclair Times editorial today.

In an Editorial by The Star Ledger this morning, the paper calls the Montclair assessments leak an act of “sabotage” and tells the responsible party:

You aren’t taking it to the man. You’re taking it to the students. This reform is coming to Montclair no matter what. So how does your act of sabotage help kids?

The editorial goes on to say how the district teachers worked hard through the summer to create the assessments and the sabotage is a blow to the district. It ends admonishing the responsible party:

It’s one thing to publicly criticize new educational standards. It’s another to purposefully undermine them. To those cheering on the supposed defeat of Common Core in Montclair: Get over yourselves, and think of the kids.

The Montclair Times wrote its own Editorial today about Montclair assessments. Titled “Seeking answers to the strategic plan’s assessment,” the writer states that many of the questions on an obtained “mathematics “interim assessment” for fourth-graders are identical to questions created by the state.”

Barista Kids reached out to Superintendent of Schools Dr. MacCormack to address where the questions on the assessments came from.

“The questions came from multiple sources, including the NJDOE model curriculum site, in house text books, the PARCC web site etc. – all questions were reviewed and vetted by the teachers writing the curriculum.  There is no need to start from scratch for every question- teachers always use a variety of resources when developing assessments,” Dr. MacCormack replied.

She added, “Curriculum development required our teachers to review large numbers of standards and determine how to define specific learning objectives from those standards.  They placed those into units of study and prioritized the most important learning objectives.  At that point they reviewed textbooks, websites and other resources for well aligned assessment questions.  This is all hard work and should be celebrated not questioned because varied resources were used.”

50 Comments

  1. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  November 14, 2013 @ 9:18 am

    The Star Ledger has done itself, as well as the people of Montclair, a gross disservice. It is unfortunate that this once respected news outlet has sunk so low as to ignore the facts and try to further the division among the town’s people fostered by Mayor Jackson, the Board of Education and Superintendent MacCormack.

    The Star Ledger headlines its editorial with “Montclair leak of Common Core tests is sabotage.” Further down the editorial states: “We still don’t know who did this or why.” It goes on to suggest it was an act of sabotage by a teacher or staff.

    It is irresponsible journalism to publish something so uninformed and deliberately aimed at undermining the confidence Montclair parents have in those who teach their children.

    Those who have followed Assessment Gate know, contrary to what Mayor Jackson-BoE-Superintendent MacCormack and now The Star Ledger insinuate, this was a security breach most likely caused by incompetence at the highest level in Central Services.

    Halloween is over. It is time to end the witch hunts, time for the leaders in the Montclair School District to be forthright and honest about the “security breach”/”assessment leaks” and talk of investigations.

    More to the point, it is inappropriate for The Star Ledger to presume to tell the people of Montclair how to educate their children.

    No one in Montclair is celebrating the defeat of the Common Core Curriculum and the needless assessments. Many are loathing the uncritical and ill-prepared implementation of this government bureaucracy in education, ignoring all discussion with the teachers, the parents, the children and the community.

    Perhaps Montclair’s appropriate response to The Star Ledger staff is “Get over yourselves, and think of the kids.”

    (The Star Ledger has been failing for years. It lost 19.8 million dollars last year and forecasts to lose the same this year. It has been selling off assets and reducing staff and their pay. The Star Ledger has now failed the Montclair community. This does not bode well for its future. The staff should seriously consider a retraction and an apology.)

  2. POSTED BY smithee  |  November 14, 2013 @ 9:19 am

    But what about the burning residency issue?

  3. POSTED BY meccamagic  |  November 14, 2013 @ 9:31 am

    Seriously? The Star Ledger wrote this accusation of parents and staff? Do they have proof of sabotage, or are they repeating BOE innuendo? The Common Core is inevitable? Maybe the Star Ledger needs to talk to parents/teachers in NYC, Bloomfield, Long Island, Catholic Schools, The Principals of NY State, the Parents leading the opt-out movement, and the Montclair Times. Our teachers did not work hard to cut and paste tests from NJDOE, and have them passed off as teacher made; maybe the Star Ledger needs to investigate that. We will not “get over ourselves”, our children’s educational future is at stake, and we will fight the incompetence of this current superintendent and BOE.

  4. POSTED BY lennybrave  |  November 14, 2013 @ 9:33 am

    So, the Star Ledger editorial is suggesting that they know with absolute certainty that this was sabotage? Has the BoE concluded its investigation? Is the Montclair Police involved any arrests?

    Georgette – would you happen to know when the announcement will be made that the perp was caught?

    For a slightly more balanced view (beyond the claim of ‘sabotage’) see Montclair Times editorial today:
    http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/231852901_The_Montclair_Times_editorial__Seeking_answers_to_the_strategic_plan_s_assessment_questions.html

  5. POSTED BY rachaelegan  |  November 14, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    Love this quote from the Montclair Times- “If the Board of Education authorized paying district employees to create Montclair-specific test questions, and yet many of these questions are identical to the questions found on the DOE’s assessments, then the board members should direct their attorney to investigate exactly how this money has been spent”. – See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/231852901_The_Montclair_Times_editorial__Seeking_answers_to_the_strategic_plan_s_assessment_questions.html?c=y&page=2#sthash.VG76ygk6.dpuf

  6. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  November 14, 2013 @ 10:40 am

    Superintendent MacCormack states: “This is all hard work and should be celebrated not questioned . . . .” This is precisely what the town’s school superintendent wants: her very own Centro Verde moment, and please no questions.

    Her cover up, assisted by the Board of Education and Mayor Jackson, is going from bad to worse. One of the largest criticisms of these assessments is that they were completed before work on the learning objectives even began, and that work is still not completed. (How can teachers be expected to write assessments when the learning objectives have not been fully defined?)

    She has admitted to coping and pasting questions, which many of us learned early on in life is plagiarism.

    It is time for these assessments, already made public and in the possession of quite a number of people, to be made publicly accessible so the town’s people can indeed see just how bad they are. We also need to see just how much of the pencil-in-the-dot assessments were simply copied and pasted – at the tune of a half million dollars.

    Superintendent MacCormack has tried hard to scapegoat the teachers for the security breach. It would be highly inappropriate for her now to begin blaming the teachers for the poor quality of the assessments.

    By the way, repeating in print that the security leak was “sabotage” simply because this is what Superintendent MacCormack, the BoE, and Mayor Jackson (now supported by a ridiculous Star Ledger editorial) want us to believe, is entirely inappropriate. There is no evidence at all that this was sabotage, and it is really wrong to further a witch hunt that sets neighbor against neighbor.

    The most reasonable inference at this point is that this was gross incompetence followed by gross negligence. No matter what the outcome, Superintendent MacCormack was responsible for the security of the assessments and she failed in that responsibility. How many other people continue in their job as if nothing happened when their irresponsibility results in the loss of a half million dollars?

    By the way, there is no indication in the school budget that this half million dollars was authorized to write assessments.

    @smithee You make a good point. Why has The Star Ledger never asked about Superintendent MacCormack’s credentials? her admitted breaking of the law? or whether she meets the laws requirements for residency? In other words, has Superintendent MacCormack ever been legally employed? Does The Star Ledger care? (Where did The Star Ledger get its assistance in writing this editorial?)

    The Montclair Times did, much to their credit, ask Superintendent MacCormack where she lived and they seemed to accept, unquestionably, “I live in New Jersey” as a response to the legal requirements for New Jersey.

    The Montclair Times also asked about her failure to follow state law on principal assessments, and they seemed to accept Superintendent MacCormack’s friends in Trenton response that “this is a private matter.” Wow, following the law is now a private matter in New Jersey. Tell that to the judge next time you get a parking ticket in Montclair.

  7. POSTED BY lennybrave  |  November 14, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    The superintendent promised our community Montclair-type assessments – not the secretive high-stakes multiple-choice stuff but teacher generated tests assessing what students are actually doing in class. Instead, we got poorly created and canned assessments. Apparently, the so-called ‘sabotaged’ assessments have given some in our community a glimpse of the disaster unfolding before us. At this point we need to question everything.

    Ask teachers if they were really allowed to create the tests they wanted to create. I wish I could name names, but I would only be jeopardizing the jobs of some of Montclair’s most beloved educators.

    I know one thing, teachers and a growing number of parents do not seem to be in a celebratory mood.

  8. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  November 14, 2013 @ 11:53 am

    Does someone on the Ledger editorial board have a horse in this race? Why would they put themselves in the middle of this with such a poorly done piece?

    To parrot the last lines, it’s one thing to report on the release of the assessments and the possibility of sabotage, it’s another thing to basically accuse parents or teachers of a crime with no evidence.

  9. POSTED BY assessmentgate  |  November 14, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

    In preparation for the next BOE meeting on Monday, 11/18 @ 7:30 in the MHS auditorium, here’s a fantastic way to confront the Superintendent and the BOE bullies.

    Note to Penny: your lack of results, wasteful spending, non-transparency, secrecy, arrogance, and ineptitude will definitely NOT be celebrated, but will ABSOLUTELY be questioned!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQbjvy1iSH0

  10. POSTED BY complainerpuss  |  November 14, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

    “Does someone on the Ledger editorial board have a horse in this race? Why would they put themselves in the middle of this with such a poorly done piece?”

    The Star-Ledger editorial page editor does indeed live in Montclair. I’ll be sending him a note shortly. I found today’s Star-Ledger editorial terribly irresponsible. It is surreal how so many people still think someone purposefully “leaked” the assessments. Even the most perfunctory examination of the website where the assessments were found would show that this is not an act of sabotage.

  11. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  November 14, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

    Indeed ‘puss, that’s very concerning. This reaks of someone with an agenda.

    I’ve been very critical of the Super, but I’ve been hesitant to buy into the idea that there is a grand conspiracy going on to impose a certain political/educational agenda in Montclair. I’m certainly not a supporter of the kind of reform being pushed by Broad and others in that movement, but since the Super had years of experience before her time at Broad I hoped, and continue to hope, that she is motivated by the same desire we all have to raise up the educational level for all our kids.

    However, with each of these events, and with each questionable action by the Super, it’s getting very hard to fight the feeling that Montclair is now considered the battleground for this new reform movement and that some powerful people are now taking part in this local battle as if it were for the future of all US education.

    As I’ve said, I don’t live in Montclair now, but I’m a product of the Montclair schools and I’m very concerned about the future of education in Montclair.

  12. POSTED BY smithee  |  November 14, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

    Put aside however ill-advised the editorial might be.
    There is zero basis to believe that the assessments turning up on gobookee was not the result of some sort of “leak” – the question is what sort of leak. There are roughly three categories of how it could have happened: (1) a completely innocent mistake – which would include, for example, someone with password access inadvertently leaving an access point open that which provided access to someone else who then abused that knowledge; (2) a nefarious act. e.g., someone with access intentionally downloaded and distributed and/or provided access to someone else, knowing of that person’s intent to do so; or (3) all other – the grey area. But the constant repetition, in baristanet comments and elsewhere, that because the assessments turned up on gobookee somehow demonstrates that gobookee has trawling capabilities far beyond mere mortal websites, and somehow gained password-protected access on its own – and that a nefarious act therefore could not have been involved – is silly. Have you seen the site? It’s a mish-mash trawling site; it’s not wikileaks. If there is a need to determine what happened, the only way to do that is to actually investigate and transparently report the results of that investigation.
    Relatedly, the idea that the process of when and how the police became involved (when they were advised within three days) is evidence of some, other, nefarious intent is equally silly. It’s not as if someone smashed a window and walked off with a computer. What occurred was essentially a hacking incident, whether assisted or not by someone with password access. Businesses and governmental entities get hacked a lot without the police taking any active roll in the investigation, even if it is reported to the police and they take a monitoring roll. Businesses and governments investigate hacking all the time with or without there being a defined crime at the outset. Is there even a scintilla of a suggestion that the Montclair police have an issue with how the Board has handled this matter? I, for one, don’t want the Montclair police to waste resources on this – I want them stopping violent crime. But I am happy if they have a monitoring roll in what is done. So why not let the investigation proceed without the sniping about it? Unless we don’t want an investigation. Which is, of course, another question all together.

  13. POSTED BY montclairpublic  |  November 14, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

    If it is Mark Porter writing the MT’s editorials, he should be embarrassed. He (or someone) writes: “Did faculty members merely download questions created by the DOE — and then get paid by Montclair taxpayers for copying and pasting?”
    Does this man read his own news stories? on page 1 of the same edition, the superintendent is quoted as saying the teachers were instructed to not “reinvent the wheel.” when your superior — and one who has created an atmosphere of fear — provides that directive, what should anyone, including Porter, expect? and if for argument’s sake that’s not what she meant, why, then, would those cut-and-paste tests be accepted by her after the teachers were paid, or promised pay?
    the answer would seem to be obvious: it was a setup to provide a talking point for the superintendent: how can she be accused of shoving state-generated standardized tests down our students’ throats when our very own teachers created the tests? at best, it’s duplicitous. at worst, it’s a misappropriation of taxpayer money. the author of that editorial is incapable of connecting dots the size of Jupiter. or is in the pocket of the super/BOE.

  14. POSTED BY glenfielddad  |  November 14, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    My view is that if there was a deliberate leak of the assessments, the individual(s) responsible should be held absolutely accountable. I would hope that we all feel the same way about any such malicious acts. However, I believe that this could also be a case of hacking. For anyone to suggest that this breach is an act of sabotage by a district teacher or a CS staff member before the investigation is completed is highly irresponsible (unless someone had a preview of the results of the investigation). There are servers with arguably much better security protocols that are hacked on a regular basis.

    The editorial by the Star Ledger surprised me quite a bit. How could you accuse teachers and CS staff of sabotage before the investigation is completed (unless you’ve been already informed of the investigation’s results)? Come on!!

  15. POSTED BY glenfielddad  |  November 14, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

    My real question for the Super, the BOE and the Mayor is why is it that the Algebra I High Honors students at the MHS are still without math text books??? How could these students study mathematics without text books? To be proficient in mathematics, a student needs a text book to study and practice. Today is November 14, and there is still a severe shortage of text books for the Algebra I HH class?? And this is not the only class that is experiencing a problem with a text book shortage. This is absolutely ridiculous. Teachers and students are expressing frustration about this, and as a parent I am mad as hell!!! Get these students text books. No one from the BOE or CS has offered a good explanation as to why these students don’t have text books. This is a real problem, and the whole town knows that students don’t have text books. We are talking about doing things in the best interest of the kids in the district. What can be more important that making sure that these kids have the resources to do well? This is absolutely nuts!!! They should fix this now!!! With everything else going on, this should be a top priority.

  16. POSTED BY mtclrsown  |  November 14, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

    glendfielddad,
    You want to know why you haven’t heard anything? Because CO doesn’t care what you have to say. They don’t care what the teachers have had to say (the past 2 BOE meetings and requests dating back to last year for books have been made). They don’t care. What they want is the narrative of failure. Students can’t succeed without the proper materials (amongst other things), thereby assuring the failure narrative. The failure narrative is something we will be hearing a lot of in the coming months and that massive “reforms” are needed, a top-down approach (being sold as teacher-created).

  17. POSTED BY mtclrsown  |  November 14, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

    And the mayor…please…I’d like my vote back. If I wanted someone to sit on the sidelines and destroy the public schools, I would have at least voted for Karen Turner who was at least aligned with the likes of this nonsense.

  18. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  November 14, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

    “But the constant repetition, in baristanet comments and elsewhere, that because the assessments turned up on gobookee somehow demonstrates that gobookee has trawling capabilities far beyond mere mortal websites, and somehow gained password-protected access on its own – and that a nefarious act therefore could not have been involved – is silly.”

    smithee, can you point me to where someone has said that the fact that a site like gobookee is involved means no nefarious acts were involved? How about where people are saying that gobookee gained password-protected access on its own? If those statements were subject to constant repetition, as you say, I haven’t seen them here or elsewhere.

    “Have you seen the site? It’s a mish-mash trawling site; it’s not wikileaks.”
    Gobookee is certainly not Wikileaks, and it’s certainly not the first place a hacker would go to upload content for the world to see. There are many file sharing websites out there, why would someone use this one? It’s not made for that. gobookee is a shammy content site. Nothing magical. They make money from bait and switch, and overcharging people’s credit cards. They also seem to be associated with reports of content theft from user’s machines and networks. If you consider that teachers and other school staff might interact with such a site to obtain educational materials it doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibilities that their machines would be infected with malware that would take any document it could find. Others here have said that more BOE documents are posted on the website, which further suggests that the assessments were just part of what may have been taken. If district staff was viewing documents locally or downloading assessments off the server in the days before the assessments, and the computer used was infected with malware, this might explain the timing of the documents’ appearance on the website.

    I’d agree that there’s a good chance that someone took specific action to intentionally release the assessments, and the timing of the release would bolster that. But, when viewing the circumstances and the ins and outs of the website that had the documents, there’s also a good chance that the release was unintentional and the result of a lapse in security.

    In light of all that, making claims of sabotage or theft is premature, and for public officials to make such claims so casually makes me question their judgment (or their transparency if they indeed know more than they are saying).

    The more the Super, the mayor, and now local news, make the claim of sabotage, the more and more important the investigation becomes and the more important it is to have the evidence gathered and investigative conclusions made public. As we move along with this I have serious doubts that the BOE investigation will give us full and complete answers, especially if the results don’t comport with the current official narrative that it must be sabotage.

  19. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  November 14, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

    “This is all hard work and should be celebrated not questioned because varied resources were used.”
    For someone who is fighting the public perception that they are not listening to the concerns of parents, what an absolutely poor choice of words.

  20. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  November 14, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

    The BoE has no legal mandate to initiate such an investigation. Mark Tabakin is a school board, political lawyer. He says things that people want to hear. He has indicated the wrong law to the BoE for this “investigation.”

    There will be no subpoena’s, no hearings and no public report or conclusions from this sham investigation. It is a cover up intended only to buy time and hide the irresponsibility of Superintendent MacCormack. It is a witch hunt.

    Tom Moran, the editorial page editor of The Star Ledger and a resident of Montclair, has done himself a great disservice by publishing this terrible “editorial” in The Star Ledger. He has misused his credentials as a journalist to help a friend. He is playing the Superintendent’s game in a sneaky and mean fashion that intends to divide the town into neighbor against neighbor. This is politics at the lowest level.

    No matter what happened, if the assessments were leaked, stolen or uploaded to the site itself by Superintendent MacCormack when uploading her “Straight from the Superintendent” newsletter (still on the site along with hundreds of other Montclair documents) – no matter how the “security breach” occurred, Superintendent MacCormack is responsible. She was responsible to ensure that the tests were not leaked, stolen or uploaded and she was responsible to ensure that the measures were in place to ensure this before spending a half million dollars of the Montclair taxpayers on her cut and past, pencil-in-the-dot tests.

    It is time that someone who earns a quarter of a million dollars a year and a health pension after she leaves in a short period takes responsibility for her job. She has a horrible track record that precedes her: all short appointments, all places that found out they were taken for a ride, had data manipulated, after she left. She has never been a school superintendent before and she has neither the experience, the know-how or the good sense to achieve anything but disarray in the Montclair School District. The entire state is already laughing at Montclair. Soon the nation will have this as a fine example of a good school system run into the ground in the short course of a year because really no one did care about education or the children.

  21. POSTED BY jeanluc  |  November 14, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

    Lighten up, Francis.

  22. POSTED BY walleroo  |  November 14, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

    If it wasn’t sabotage, what was it? If there’s an alternative explanation, let’s hear it.

  23. POSTED BY luvrgurl  |  November 14, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

    Glenfieldad: If anything good has come out of this whole fiasco it has been that fact that parents like me no longer have their heads in the sand. After a few months of struggling with my 3rd grader’s homework on xeroxed ‘sheets’ and finally a failing test, I asked him to please bring the book home so we could go over the chapter together. The book never came home……
    Because there ARE NO BOOKS!!! I was appalled when I found out from his teacher that all three 3rd grade teachers SHARE ONE BOOK!!!! The students do not use books, and the teachers basically copy pages and send these ‘packets’ them home with the kids. There is no instruction, no study guides, no idea what they are studying in school…..When I approached the teacher about this she said: “I know it is terrible, please help us”. I found out another teacher ‘makes’ her own books with notebooks and cutting and pasting. Serious waste of teaching time, but creative don’t ya think? Apparently the only grade in our school with math textbooks is the 5th grade. Mistakes have been made. Money has been spent (on Skyward which doesn’t work, technology with gaping holes in security, and now, lawyering up for litigation, investigation etc on who breached what…..Someone please come to their senses. OUR KIDS DON’T HAVE BOOKS!!!!!! I for one am outraged and believe me this is not a witch hunt. I just want to make sure that our taxpayers dollars are spent wisely….sensibly. Is that too much to ask?? When will we get our priorities straight? When will some sensible person just say, we screwed up. Let’s get some books. And if this town cannot step up to the plate and spend our money wisely, we should be in the streets protesting. It should be on every channel’s evening news. And then, (Robin Schlager, are you listening??) if the Board of Ed still doesn’t listen, MFEE (and all the PTA’s) should be using OUR fundraising money to buy the books (cause our kids need textbooks, not because it is the right thing to do).

  24. POSTED BY walleroo  |  November 14, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

    Books are heavy and damage the spine when carried from class to class. The kids don’t get them until the 5th grade because that’s when their spines begin to thicken and solidify.

  25. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  November 14, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

    @waterloo If it wasn’t sabotage, what was it? Gross incompetence? Which do you think was most likely?

  26. POSTED BY smithee  |  November 14, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

    “No matter what happened, if the assessments were leaked, stolen or uploaded to the site itself by Superintendent MacCormack when uploading her “Straight from the Superintendent” newsletter (still on the site along with hundreds of other Montclair documents) – no matter how the “security breach” occurred, Superintendent MacCormack is responsible.”

    Well, I think that kind of says it all.

  27. POSTED BY glenfielddad  |  November 14, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

    @Waterloo “Books are heavy and damage the spine when carried from class to class.” Seriously???? That is your reason for justifying the students in this town not having text books? Wow!!!

  28. POSTED BY mtcliving  |  November 14, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

    Glenfieldad – I can’t believe the high school algebra kids don’t have text books? I thought it was disgraceful that the elementary schools don’t have math books, but I am shocked that this is the case for high school as well!

    Also – gobookee has Gail Clarke’s documents as well as many others on the site so it would seem that the system is easily “hackable”. Perhaps Baristakids could look into the site themselves and report on what’s there.

  29. POSTED BY smithee  |  November 15, 2013 @ 7:36 am

    “smithee, can you point me to where someone has said that the fact that a site like gobookee is involved means no nefarious acts were involved? How about where people are saying that gobookee gained password-protected access on its own?”

    Pete, come on. If you look up at 10:40, idratherbeat wrote: “The most reasonable inference at this point is that this was gross incompetence followed by gross negligence.” – That point has been repeatedly made, i.e., that this is result of incompetence/negligence, and not someone out do the wrong thing. That theory presupposes that no one intentionally passed material to gobookee, which means gobookee had to somehow be looking to put this up on its own. You can’t have it both ways.

    and mtclrliving, what does “Gail Clarke’s documents” even mean? Are you saying you have knowledge of password-protected materials posted on gobookee besides the assessments? If so, you’d better call the police, or else idratherbeat will be all over you!

  30. POSTED BY iteachthereforeiam  |  November 15, 2013 @ 9:19 am

    @walleroo – it is becoming increasingly clear to me that this was simply a matter of gobookee’s scraping software, not an upload (many reasons for thinking this – for example, why upload only 14 and why those 14?)…now how the scraping got access to the documents (i.e. how were those 14 vulnerable) is a question best answered by tech experts, not tabakin and the crusade/inqisiiton…

    btw it looks like jonathan alter, jerry freid, katz, and the rest of the nefarious reformy cabal clutered in montclair have gotten to the ledger – a paper which loses credibility by the second whenever they report on education-related topics (and endorse gubernatorial candidates)…

  31. POSTED BY smithee  |  November 15, 2013 @ 9:39 am

    iteach, I have to ask, why is it “becoming increasingly clear to” you “that this was simply a matter of gobookee’s scraping software, not an upload.” There is zero factual support for that statement, including the purported reason you cite. Either one wants to find out what happened or one doesn’t. And if you want to find out, the investigation has to have authority behind it. And of course the “crusade” will have to use technical consultants to get to the root of the matter. Vastly preferable to some internal tech employee telling us about a “glitch.”

  32. POSTED BY fishoutofvodka  |  November 15, 2013 @ 9:53 am

    smithee–I’m not sure I see your point. Go look at Gobookee.com for a few minutes. See if you honestly think that it is a website that the Montclair Public Schools would purposefully upload school documents on (I don’t. I think it’s a scam site).

    Now notice that it is full of documents from the Montclair Public Schools–most of which are mundane. Do you honestly think that there is someone is really investing his/her time and effort into uploading school documents to Gobookee.com? What’s the point? Now look at how much crap gobookee offers a user to download. It’s a relatively new website. How did it get so much content so quickly? How did it convince people all over the world to upload documents from their places of work just so that this website could shadily ask users for credit card information from users who want to download free documents?

    If you can’t figure it out, here’s a protip for you. Google “web scraping”. It might help you sound like you know what you’re talking about. Here’s another protip. Google “web scraping secure documents” or “illegal web scraping” to see how easy it is to get to documents on a secured computer.

    I love a good scandal as much as anyone, but I’m not holding my breath that we discover that an actual teacher/parent/human is responsible for the breach of the assessments. The most parsimonious explanation is that this was all a stupid accident due to the fact the tests were not sufficiently secured from scraping. It happens.

  33. POSTED BY fishoutofvodka  |  November 15, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    smithee–I’m not sure I see your point. You’re saying there is factual support for the idea that it was a teacher/parent/human being? Go look at Gobookee.com for a few minutes. See if you honestly think that it is a website that the Montclair Public Schools would purposefully upload school documents on (I don’t. I think it’s a scam site).

    Now notice that it is full of documents from the Montclair Public Schools–most of which are mundane. Do you honestly think that there is someone is really investing his/her time and effort into uploading dull school documents to Gobookee.com? What’s the point? Now look at how much crap gobookee offers a user to download. It’s a relatively new website. How did it get so much content so quickly? How did it convince people all over the world to upload documents from their places of work just so that this website could shadily ask users for credit card information from users who want to download free documents?

    If you can’t figure it out, here’s a protip for you. Google “web scraping”. It might help you sound like you know what you’re talking about. Here’s another protip. Google “web scraping secure documents” or “illegal web scraping” to see how easy it is to get to documents on a secured computer.

    I love a good scandal as much as anyone, but I’m not holding my breath that we discover that an actual teacher/parent/human is responsible for the breach of the assessments. The most parsimonious explanation is that this was all a stupid accident due to the fact the tests were not sufficiently secured from scraping. It happens.

    I guess I’m curious as to why this is something you refuse to consider? Do you have shreds of evidence that prove it was a human? If so, maybe you should contact the police.

  34. POSTED BY lennybrave  |  November 15, 2013 @ 10:20 am

    Smithee:

    Doesn’t it seem odd to you that the BoE would bypass their internal tech employees who happen to be tech experts themselves? Why would highly paid technical consultants be the first people to approach? The town’s tech employees are well paid to answer technical questions. “Either one wants to find out what happened or one doesn’t.”

    I increasingly get the feeling that the simple truth is too damaging. The better approach is to create a brouhaha about parents and teachers desperate to get their hands on the super dooper secret canned assessments. Once the town has spent tens of thousands of dollars conducting an ‘investigation’ and once the town’s folks have worn each other out squabbling about the so-called ‘reforms’ the truth will come out – not with bang but a whimper.

    There may also be the possibility of creating scapegoats. Mr. Cummings may still be thrown under a bus by his colleagues, and there may be some active parents, teachers, and/or concerned Montclair citizens targeted for openly opposing the superintendent and the BoE. A big part of me really wishes the town’s tech employees had been consulted. Think of the money we might have saved for the purposes of educating kids. Too late – we are going to go broke. What next? How about two dues ex machina charter schools in the 4th Ward?

  35. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  November 15, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    @smithee Indeed, gross incompetence followed by gross (and ongoing) negligence is the most reasonable inference for how the assessment pencil-in-the-dot tests made their way to gobookee.

    Now it might be difficult for you to understand, but nearly any 12 year old child in the school district would be able to find plenty of school district documents on gobookee in less than 3 minutes. They may not be able to find their math books when then go to class, but they can find what Superintendent MacCormack (and her assistant Gail Clarke) would have found in let’s say (they are slow, we know) the first 2 hours of their “full legal investigation” on October 25th.

    Perhaps you missed the news, but the police have already been informed (three days late, mind you) and two weeks later the documents are still there.

    As you reiterated, Superintendent MacCormack is responsible for this security breach, whether it be high treason on the seas or simple everyday bureaucratic incompetence. The former would have been a one-off, the latter we have grown accustomed to.

    Of course, you are wrong to suggest that this says it all. But it does say what is most significant.

    By the way, are the assessments still there? http://www.gobookee.org/montclair-assessments/ Does anyone want to offer up her credit card to find out?

    Everyone agrees. Everyone wants to know. Everyone agrees the investigation needs to have authority behind it, needs to be carried out independently and needs to be performed by a competent person.

    So why was this investigation instigated by the Board of Education, which has no legal authority to authorize this investigation, carried out by their own attorney (who has poorly advised them on the law and clearly has an enormous, even financial, conflict of interest), and by someone who has no expertise whatsoever in these matters? Why?

    No, not everyone agrees. No, not everyone wants (the teachers and parents and community) to know.

    @iteachthereforeiam Tom Moran, The Star Ledger Editorial Editor is a Montclair resident and he was one of the special celebrities spotted by the paparazzi at the “wisdom sharing on the strategic plan” private parties.

    @jennybrave You really do not believe that Mark Tabakin is going to do this super-duper, cast a wide net, write out thousand of subpoena’s, catch all the villains that “harm the BoE” fake investigation for anything less than 6 figures? I think you underestimate the man.

  36. POSTED BY iteachthereforeiam  |  November 15, 2013 @ 11:39 am

    @smithee: 1. yes, it’s worth investigating; my reference to the crusadeyness was a reference to the tone emanating from darth tabakin and the death star at 22 valley

    2. as far as my opinion on the nature of the leak – not sure what you mean by my reference to only 14 being leaked/why only 14 is wrong (it’s not), but i add to that the fact that no teacher who gives any of the leaked tests has been subpoenaed, to my knowledge (and these things have a way of getting around), including me who fits that category AND is a vcoal opponent of just about everything coming out of 22 valley; the unfolding information on how gobookee’s technology works and on the nature of the site since the investigation started; that if someone really wanted to leak tests, there are much better ways to do it than some obscure scam-ridden document aggregation site; that if students did it, those things have a way of getting out quick – kids talk – kids behind every big senior prank, and other stories of “extracurricular activities” throughout my career as a teacher get revealed sooner rather than later; that if the investigation was really making any substantive headway, i think we’d hear about it – montclair and montclair schools have a robust grapevine…i could go on…

    sure, these are educated guesses, informed conclusions in the absence of final evidence, but, when put together in a constellation, they convey to me that this was gobookee scraping and neither total incompetence (perhaps a small human security error) nor sabotage – and if i’m wrong i’ll be the first to say so… i think the amount and frequency of the sabotage talk, and how quickly it entered the discourse, only highlights how controversial and divisive dr. m and her regime are/have been – i.e. people only jumped to sabotage conclusions because she/BOE have a lot of enemies… and if one’s policies are so clearly educationally sound and research-based, one doesn’t get half the town, a vast majority of the teachers in the trenches, and the many education scholars who live in town all resoundingly disagreeing with them… if everybody who really knows about a topic is against you and only you, the neophytes and synchophants who hired you, and those whom you seduce with spin are with you, you are wrong…ed reform corporate style/broad style is the new global warming – the experts say one thing, an ideological and self-interested minority says another (and is wrong)…

  37. POSTED BY smithee  |  November 15, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    Idrather, although non sequiturs and red herrings seem to be your specialty, try to focus for a minute.
    First, while determining whether password-protected documents are still on gobookee might be interesting, just knowing that doesn’t tell us anything about how they got there. Why, any 11 year old could tell you that.

    Second, you make two inconsistent statements of fact. First, you state: “Perhaps you missed the news, but the police have already been informed (three days late, mind you) and two weeks later the documents are still there.”
    Then you state: “By the way, are the assessments still there? http://www.gobookee.org/montclair-assessments/ Does anyone want to offer up her credit card to find out?”
    Which is it? Are they there or not? Does it matter? Why would you want an investigation? In your mind you already know who is to blame. For everything.

  38. POSTED BY complainerpuss  |  November 15, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

    “First, while determining whether password-protected documents are still on gobookee might be interesting, just knowing that doesn’t tell us anything about how they got there.”

    Here’s a simple theory: after accessing the password protected assessments, someone (either from Central Office or a teacher) saved them as pdf files to their computer desktop or perhaps saved them to a flash drive and then downloaded them to a home computer. I’ve done this myself many times before–it gets very tiresome having to use a password every time you want to look at a document. The security was compromised, but whoever did this unknowingly allowed gobookee.com to pilfer the pdf’s from their computer. In fact, I would not be surprised if dozens of people with access to these assessments did this. That’s why we ended up with “14 or more.” And yes, there are still assessments on the website. There are also lots of documents originating from Penny MacCormick on the site–and you don’t have to use a credit card to access them. Go to http://www.gobookee.org/penny-maccormack/ and you can click on any of those red pdf files and see for yourself.

  39. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  November 15, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

    @iteachthereforeiam If “a small human security error” is permitted to destroy a half million dollars of taxpayer money and compromise all the district’s children’s education, then this would indeed appear to be gross incompetence. Surely the follow-up has been nothing but.

    @smithee Did you just get back from moose hunting with agideon? You do not know that a police report was filed three days late by Superintendent MacCormack, BoE President Kulwin and attorney Mark Tabakin regarding a security breach?

    (Gail Clarke’s documents are still there two weeks after filing a police report indicating a security breach. Reading comprehension, smithee. This is not an assessment test. You can slow down and take your time. Sound out the difficult words if it helps.)

    How the assessments got to a public website would be good to know in order to prevent this happening again. Until this is known, we cannot be confident that any district document or information (including personal information of the children) is secure. How long are you willing to wait to know this?

    If the half million dollar assessments are still available on gobookee . . . now won’t that be exciting.

    Having these interests, however, is also why the “fear investigation” brewed up by the BoE is not something any reasonable person wants. It will tell us nothing. So, yes, certainly it would be better to have no investigation than this waste of taxpayers dollars and, as you call it, another red herring.

    No matter what, Superintendent MacCormack is paid a quarter of a million dollars to act responsibly. It is time that she is held accountable for her failures.

    Two weeks since the security breach and no (zero) news. One week on since this casting of a wide net and no villains caught.

    Friday noon and still no agenda for Monday evening’s BoE Meeting. It must be there is not much to discuss this time.

    Any bets on whether the BoE begins Monday in closed session? I am betting they will be transparent and honest and follow the law, holding the entire meeting in public. Anyone else want to back this bet?

  40. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  November 15, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

    @complainerpuss What a great site this is turning out to be. Check this out http://www.gobookee.org/get_book.php?u=aHR0cDovL2VkdWNhdGlvbi5zdGF0ZS5uai51cy9icm9hZGNhc3RzLzIwMTEvREVDLzE5LzUyODMvTW9kZWwlMjBDdXJyaWN1bHVtLnBkZgpUTzogRGlzdHJpY3QgU3VwZXJpbnRlbmRlbnRzIEZST006IFBlbm55IE1hY0Nvcm1hY2s=

    Ms. Penny MacCormack in December 2011 (she did not have her doctorate then) was working from Trenton with School Superintendents and “Charter School Leaders”

    “In order to have the curriculum available for the 2012-2013 school year, we will need to begin work as soon as possible. Therefore, we are asking for your assistance in helping us to identify our best and brightest curriculum/assessment developers across the state to create teams for building this curriculum.”

    The documents on the link you sent deserve some attention by Montclair parents. Ms. Penny MacCormack seems to have been sent to Montclair with a clear Trenton mission.

    How did Ms. Penny MacCormack become Chief Academic Officer at the NJ Department of Education with no experience as a school superintendent, no doctorate, no publications and never having worked in New Jersey? What connections did she have?

  41. POSTED BY assessmentgate  |  November 15, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    Is anyone here aware of the fact that the confidential information of all Montclair public school children may possibly be accessible on Gobookee? It seems that at least some of the district’s Skyward files have been uploaded.

    http://www.gobookee.org/search.php?q=montclair+skyward

  42. POSTED BY smithee  |  November 15, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

    -gate, um, there is nothing in what you just posted even remotely suggesting that “the confidential information of all Montclair public school children may possibly be accessible on Gobookee.” Now excuse me while I go to the movies and yell “fire.”

  43. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  November 15, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

    @smithee If you really want to have fun, save it for Monday evening at the BoE Meeting and yell “witch.”

  44. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  November 15, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

    “That theory presupposes that no one intentionally passed material to gobookee, which means gobookee had to somehow be looking to put this up on its own. You can’t have it both ways”

    Nice misdirect. If I believe A then I must believe B, because that how you view it. If by “gobookee had to somehow be looking to put this up on its own” you mean that trojans and malware launched on unsuspecting users of the gobookee website gobbled up whatever content it could find to steal and repost to sell, then yes, gobookee did it “on it’s own” once the machine was compromised. That’s part of their business model.

    As I’ve said, logic tells me that there are many ways this could have gone down. I’m certainly open to the idea that it was sabotage because of the situation and the timing. However, there is also evidence, more as the days pass, that raises the very real possibility that this was an unintentional release of information caused by a security issue. To me, to deny or pretend that the second possibility does not exist is illogical.

  45. POSTED BY stu  |  November 15, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

    I was at the Brookdale Shoprite yesterday. The person in front of me handed her coupons to the cashier AFTER her products were scanned. Obviously, she is a reformer and should not be able to shop in a public store. Everyone knows that you must hand in your coupons before your groceries are scanned! The cashier and the owner of Shoprite are ultimately responsible for the demise of our once proud shopping experience and should both be immediately terminated for allowing such an atrocity to occur. I also heard from a friend that the owner of Shoprite drives a Hummer and does not live in Essex County. How did the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce allow this in the first place? Obviously, this supermarket owner is out to destroy the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Next time I go to the appy counter, I’m going to take an extra number or two just to show them who is in charge.

  46. POSTED BY smithee  |  November 15, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

    Pete, we got off on the wrong foot. I don’t think we disagree much on this issue. I don’t deny or pretend that any possibility is not possible. I want an investigation, and a public report documenting that investigation, and I don’t mind that the Board’s attorney is in charge of that (that probably gets me in trouble here). If the report is garbage, we will all know it and can react accordingly.

  47. POSTED BY jcunningham  |  November 15, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    “If you really want to have fun, save it for Monday evening at the BoE Meeting and yell “witch.” ”

    —continually amazed by folks who think personal invective helps recruit anyone to a cause—unless, of course, it is other small minded folks…

  48. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  November 15, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

    Fair enough smithee. We both want facts. The board attorney might well be knowledgable and trustworthy, but to those who are critical the appearance is that the board is investigating itself. That doesn;t inspire confidence. On the flip side, while it might be more appropriate for the MPD to investigate, they certainly have other priorities.

  49. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  November 15, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

    @stu You worry too much. The future of your child’s education will be determined by a group of DC politicians (never based on a vote or a law) and supported by the richest corporate godfathers in the country; Shoprite can’t hold a candle to them.

    Your child will be guaranteed the highest priced canned assessments every other child in the country gets (just a bit more expensive in Montclair). The best part is that, as a parent, you can cash in your house anytime you want to get out of the town debt this creates.

    What is so nifty is that this Common Core Curriculum “raises the bar for everyone.” So your child, along with every other child in the country, can choose between Harvard, Yale and Princeton when graduating Montclair High School.

    Here is a great quotation from Superintendent MacCormack’s parents workshop last night: “I guess it’s kind of ironic that [parents] have to go back to school to find out what their children need to learn.” This is communism even Lenin could not have dreamed of.

    Aren’t we lucky to Central Office there to teach us how to think and how to be parents.

    @smithee “If the report is garbage, we will all know it and can react accordingly.” What would be an appropriate reaction at that time? How long are you willing to wait to know just how this security leak took place? A week? A month? A year? A hundred years?

    @jcunningham Your application was denied a long time ago and the recruitment office is now closed.

  50. POSTED BY skeptical  |  November 15, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

    Careful idratherbeat (and others)!

    complainerpuss @ 12:22 pm explains the possible dangers of downloading materials from gobookee.

    Then again, if those who do or have downloaded from the site go back a few days later and find the contents of their hard drives there they will have provided a valuable (and free!) crowd-sourcing service to the district by demonstrating the feasibility of having one’s files unintentionally “scraped.” (I do like that term–almost as abrasive as the invectives cascading down this comment section. )

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