Month: February 2017

March-April, 2017 Newsletter

View DMA-Newsletter-March-April-2017.pdf PDF File

March 1, 2017
W. Michael Crouch: psychotherapist
Treating depression, anxiety and trauma

W. Michael Crouch, psychotherapist: Treating depression, anxiety and trauma

W. Michael Crouch, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University and certifications in eye movement, desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and dialectical behavioral therapy.

In private practice in Stamford for 25 years, he treats adults, couples and families who suffer from depression, anxiety and trauma.

Michael is co-coordinator of the Fairfield County Trauma Recovery Network (FCTRN), a community of EMDR-trained therapists who focus on the treatment and education of first responders in Fairfield County.

The FCTRN was founded in response to the tragedies of the 2011 Christmas Day fire in Stamford and the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown. In its six years, the FCTRN has educated and treated more than 1,500 individuals in the state of Connecticut.

Previously, Michael served on the board of the Fairfield County Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which offers support and mental health services to those suffering from the loss of a loved one through suicide.

He lives in Norwalk with his wife, who together have a blended family of four children and three grandchildren.

Arranged by Wilder Baker

John Ross Hamilton
passes away

John Ross Hamilton, 92, a resident of Darien, CT passed away February 15, 2017 after a short illness in Bennington, Vermont.

Born October 3, 1924 in Winchendon, MA, John was the youngest child of May Davina Ross Hamilton and The Reverend Rollo Albert Hamilton. An active member of Boy Scout Troop One in Flushing, NY, founded in 1910 by Daniel Beard and the Rev. Hamilton, John earned the rank of Eagle Scout and attended college with the support of an Eagle Scout Scholarship. His enthusiasm for scouting never abated and in later life he was both a Cub and Boy Scout Troop leader in Darien, CT.

He earned his BS in Physics in 1946 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Princeton University and graduated as an Ensign from Columbia Midshipman’s School serving in Guam during World War II. After the war, he completed his MBA at Harvard University.

John pursued a career in corporate finance, joining Procter and Gamble in 1949. He subsequently worked for Colgate Palmolive, Lever Brothers, The Bulova Watch Company, Crowell & Collier MacMillan and US Industries.

Leaving the corporate world in 1974, John pursued a PhD in Accounting at Boston University while teaching accounting and business finance at the collegiate level. He began his academic career at the University of Hartford, later joining the faculty at Western Connecticut State University, and retiring as an Associate Professor of Accounting from Fordham University in 1988.

His community interests included serving as a member of the Board of Finance for the town of Darien, Connecticut and a member of the Board of Directors of the Darien Nature Center in the 1980s.

He is survived by his companion, Harriette C. Thorne of Darien; his children, Heather C. Hamilton, and husband, Edd G. Lyon, MD, of Bennington, VT; John Ross Hamilton, Jr. and wife, Cynthia J. Babler, of Chicago, IL; Robert A. Hamilton and wife, Jackie Chu, of New Haven, CT; Hilary B. Hamilton and husband, D. Maurice Kreis of Hartland, VT; his granddaughters Anyata May and Isabel Helen Hamilton, 5 nieces and nephews, 13 great nieces and nephews and 14 great great nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his first wife, Roberta L. Hamilton, his second wife Barbara T. Hamilton, and his siblings, Dr. Donald Ross Hamilton, Elizabeth Hamilton Firehock, and Gordon Ross Hamilton.

John had a great love of nature and the outdoors. Gifts in his memory may be sent to either;
The Darien Nature Center, 120 Brookside Road, Darien, CT 06820 or Bearsville‐Fairview Cemetery, Inc., C/O Joe Thomas, 188 Cabin Run Rd., Middlebourne, WV 26149

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Hanson Walbridge & Shea Funeral Home in Bennington, VT. To send personal condolences, visit
— by the Family

A memorial service for John Ross Hamilton has been scheduled for May 6th at 2:00PM in the Noroton Presbyterian Church Chapel.

May 10, 2017
Book Discussion:
Hero of the Empire
Candice Millard

From New York Times bestselling author of Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt, a thrilling narrative of Winston Churchill’s extraordinary and little-known exploits during the Boer War.

At age twenty-four, Winston Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England one day, despite the fact he had just lost his first election campaign for Parliament. He believed that to achieve his goal he must do something spectacular on the battlefield. Despite deliberately putting himself in extreme danger as a British Army officer in colonial wars in India and Sudan, and as a journalist covering a Cuban uprising against the Spanish, glory and fame had eluded him.

Churchill arrived in South Africa in 1899, valet and crates of vintage wine in tow, there to cover the brutal colonial war the British were fighting with Boer rebels. But just two weeks after his arrival, the soldiers he was accompanying on an armored train were ambushed, and Churchill was taken prisoner. Remarkably, he pulled off a daring escape–but then had to traverse hundreds of miles of enemy territory, alone, with nothing but a crumpled wad of cash, four slabs of chocolate, and his wits to guide him.

The story of his escape is incredible enough, but then Churchill enlisted, returned to South Africa, fought in several battles, and ultimately liberated the men with whom he had been imprisoned. Churchill would later remark that this period, “could I have seen my future, was to lay the foundations of my later life.”

Millard spins an epic story of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters—including Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener, and Mohandas Gandhi—with whom he would later share the world stage. But Hero of the Empire is more than an adventure story, for the lessons Churchill took from the Boer War would profoundly affect 20th century history.

Discussion leader: Chris Filmer

April 20, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion:
Charter Schools

Charter Schools: Pros & Cons

Discussion leader: David Mace

Discussion Questions:
Our discussion on Charter schools will begin with a brief understanding of what is a charter school.
Who attends charter schools?
Who pays for charter schools?
Why do some charter schools succeed and others fail?
What is the impetus behind wanting to give children more school choices?

We will discuss the impact on the public school systems when local taxpayer dollars are redirected to support charter schools.

Do we think it is wise to direct more federal funding for education toward charter schools?

Should charter school teachers have to pass the same qualification exams as public school teachers or should we treat charter school teachers more like a private schools where teacher qualification is established by each school?

Is it appropriate for profit making corporations to manage and benefit financially from charter schools?

Finally, should we be lobbying the Department of Education in Washington to create more charter schools or should we be pushing back on this effort which Betsy DeVos says she wants to pursue?


Paper by Beverly Miyares, the Director of Education Policy for the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
Click here: Beverly Miyares

Charter Schools In Perspective: A Guide to the Research



This provides good, current data on enrollment trends. I would not focus on the outcomes section of this report, as it is biased.

This is from the Intelligence squared debates – topic “Charter Schools Are Overrated” Yes or No?.

Are Charter Schools Making a Difference: A Study of Student Outcomes in Eight States.
This small piece summarizes RAND’s 2009 study of charter schools. It’s dated, but gives a good perspective.

A twisted interpretation of historically black colleges paves the way for a failed market-driven education policy.

Here’s a late entry. (It is 10:20PM and I am cramming for the discussion.)

NYTimes: Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?

The arguments over the confirmation of the new secretary of education were about something bigger: which government institutions benefit which citizens.

The new studies come at an interesting moment, with a proponent of vouchers newly in charge of the Education Department.

Charter Schools in Connecticut

Basic FAQ’s from the state.

Charter schools in CT:

Achievement First is a high performing charter high school in Hartford. AF Hartford High School students outperformed the state average on the SAT, as well as earned the highest average SAT scores among low-income students in the state. On the 2015 Connecticut state SBAC exam, students achievement scores surpassed those of neighboring West Hartford. Watch the video.

From: “Miyares, Beverly”
Subject: RE: Charter Schools
Date: April 10, 2017 at 11:50:36 PM EDT
To: David Mace

Sorry again to take so long to reply. Here are my thoughts on your questions:

A. Why would the MA State Board of Education disallow a superintendent or school board from expressing an opinion on the establishment of a particular charter school? Whose interest is being served by this posture?
The MA Board of Education has always interpreted MA statues re: charter school approvals as prohibiting them from taking community opinion on the establishment of the charter school into consideration. The Board’s understanding is that they can consider only the merits of the charter application and not the impact on the traditional public schools. Many members have expressed frustration with that interpretation but it has not ever been challenged.

I am not exactly sure where this understanding comes from. I believe the Board can establish the criteria for approving a charter application. The regulations governing this process, in my view, do not clearly exclude consideration of community impact. However, it is the principle on which the Board operates. I will need to research this point further.

As to whose interests it serves, it serves the interests of charter school advocates. Given the funding mechanism, it is almost always going to be the case that the traditional public school will oppose the charter school. Prohibiting the decision makers from taking the funding loss into consideration is an advantage for the applicant.

For most of the charter school era, MA has had a governor who supported charter schools. The MA Board of Education has been much more conservative than the state as a whole given that the governor appoints the Board members. The Democratic dominance of the state legislature provides a veto-proof majority; and, in my opinion, a Republican governor leaves the legislature with more power than if there were a Democratic governor. The legislature has typically put the limitations on charter schools; left to its own devices, the Board would likely approve many more charters.

B. My impression is that a large part of the support for charter schools is to get the teachers unions off their back. Is this a fair statement? For example, some I have spoken with say it is very difficult (not impossible) to remove a teacher from a public school. Like the medical profession where doctors protect their own, teachers come to the support of teachers even when it is not warranted. I am asking my question this way purposely to anticipate those in our group who will support charters in all events. Your comment please.
Unions are required to enforce the contract and represent teachers when there is a question of whether the contract has been violated – they have no choice. Unions do not make the decision to hire a teacher; they do not make the decision to give them job protection rights – called Professional Teacher Status in MA; tenure in other states – and they do not evaluate them. Management does. When management has gone through all those steps – hired, awarded tenure and evaluated an person, it should have to follow the agreed upon process when a person who was once good enough to be hired, given tenure and received good evaluations no longer meets the standard of performance. Unions defend the process; not the person. In MA, management has a three year probation period before a teacher earns professional teacher status. During that time, there are very few requirement a district needs to follow in order to non-renew a teacher. Three years should be enough.

The term, “union contract” is a misnomer; a contract is agreed upon by both parties and, hence, is called a collective bargaining agreement. Both parties agree to follow the rules specified in the agreement. If the rules are too difficult, then management should bargain about changing those rules when the agreement expires. Typically they do not. And, often, management has not followed the agreed upon process in an instance when a teacher should no longer be employed.

I don’t believe it is a case of “teachers protecting their own.” No teacher wants to teach next door to someone who is not able to do their job; nor does any teacher want to receive students from a teacher who has not taught children adequately. However, the agreed upon process must be followed. Historically, bargaining over dismissal processes comes from an era when patronage was an issue or discrimination on the basis of race and gender was common in employment practices.

C. Would you agree that some charter schools are exceptional because they have an outstanding principal and a strong board. If that is the case, then the strengthening of public schools can be achieved by having better principals and stronger school boards.

I am always in favor of good principals and I wish there were more concern about the quality of principals in our schools. We hear much about the “bad teacher” and not much about the “bad principal.” We have an extreme shortage of quality principals; teachers are not interested in the job even when they have the credential. In MA, we have thousands of teachers with principal licenses, but a shortage of candidates for principal positions. In MA, principals cannot be union members; they have a difficult job, often asked to be change agents and have no job protection. In fact, federal policy required that principals be replaced for low performing schools to receive federal school improvement funds- regardless of whether anyone thought the principal needed to be replaced.

I do not know of any research that finds that charter schools have better principals as a group. Research does show that charter principals have a higher turnover rate than do principals in traditional public schools. As I have described, the working conditions in charter schools are not sustainable over time; people with families and other demands cannot sustain what charter schools typically require of its staff members, including principals.

I would agree that many schools, not just charters, are exceptional because they have an outstanding principal and staff. Staff likes to work for an outstanding principal; they do not like to work for a poor principal. There is clear research that supportive leadership is more important than compensation when a teacher makes a decision about whether to work in a particular school.

D. My impression is that public schools are the responsibility of local cities and towns, not the Federal government. If so, how much influence can Betsy DeVos have in pushing for more charter schools at the expense of public schools? How much damage can she do?

What Betsy has an influence on is the federal funding specified in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the successor legislation to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, more recently known as the No Child Left Behind Act. This federal law covers a large number of federal funding programs, the largest of which is Title 1 that provides funding for low income students. MA receives about $250 million in Title 1 each year; most schools receive some Title 1 funds, but the bulk of it goes to large urban districts where a high percentage of low income students reside.

The US Education Department can set conditions on receiving this grant money through regulations and guidance. In the Obama administration, states were allowed to waive particular requirements of the federal law, but had to agree to other requirements, for example, regarding how teachers were evaluated. These “waiver” requirements were much more specific than federal programs had ever included.

Congress has now rescinded regulations for some of the programs included in ESSA; it is not clear at all how Betsy may advance a charter/choice/religious school agenda through requirements around eligibility for federal programs or perhaps through revisions in federal tax policy. Much more to come.

Hope this is helpful. Sorry to take so long – lots going on here. Feel free to send along any more questions – I am enjoying having to put my charter thoughts together!

Beverly Miyares
Massachusetts Teachers Association
Center for Education Policy + Practice
2 Heritage Drive, 8th Floor
Quincy, MA 02171-2119


This is from the CT Mirror. It highlights proposed change to the education funding formula. I is complicated to figure out if Charters are a bargain or a drain.

School choice

Even more controversial is Duff and Rojas’s proposal for funding charter and magnet schools and other choice programs. Currently, separate funding formulas or set amounts written into state law govern funding for various school choice programs.

Duff and Rojas want to end that and instead have all schools funded under the same formula used for traditional neighborhood schools.

However, there is one exception — and that’s where the controversy is rooted.

Since charter, magnet and other choice schools don’t have a local tax base and are primarily supported by state funding, Duff and Rojas propose the state calculate how much each local district spends to educate a student on average and then withhold one-quarter of that amount for each student who leaves for a magnet or charter school. The withheld funding would be sent to the school the child actually attends.

Currently districts do not get funding for students who leave for charter schools. However, districts still get state funding for students who leave for magnet schools, which is somewhat offset by tuition that magnets charge the sending districts.

The changes that Duff and Rojas propose would drive huge funding increases for several charter schools — including about $1,800 more per student for Achievement First Hartford Academy and $1,700 for Stamford Academy, according to a preliminary run done by the School Finance Project. Four of the state’s 22 charter schools would lose funding, with the largest being Explorations Academy, which would lose $475 per student.

The network of regional magnet schools opened in the Hartford region in an effort to comply with a Connecticut Supreme Court order to desegregate Hartford schools would be hit hard by the changes, with a loss of $3,569 per student.

Rojas and Duff said more money should leave than currently does when a student leaves to attend a charter or magnet school — but others see this as an effort to drain more money that would have gone to neighborhood schools.

“It’s a public school voucher plan. This is the Michigan model,” said Waxenberg, referring to the controversial approach Betsy DeVos successfully got into place in Michigan before becoming the U.S. education secretary.

Duff denies it’s a voucher plan.

“That’s not true at all. That’s over-the-top rhetoric that’s trying to fan the flames of fear rather than what this bill actually does,” he said, pointing out that no state funding will go to private schools. “For some reason opponents are hanging their hat on that instead of focusing on the fact that 550,000 public school students would be better served by this new funding formula. I would rather focus on those public school students.”

April 12, 2017
Book Discussion:
A Hero of France
Alan Furst

Alan Furst goeherofrances to war: Occupied Paris for the first time since Red Gold (1999 pub), Furst has set this novel during the war itself, instead of on the eve of the war. Members of the French Resistance network young and old, aristocrats and schoolteachers, defiant heroes and ordinary people all engaged in clandestine actions in the cause of freedom. From the secret hotels and Nazi-infested nightclubs of Paris to the villages of Rouen and Orleans. An action-packed story of romance, intrigue, spies, bravery, and air battles.

Discussion leader: Bert von Stuelpnagle

DMA Trip: Ellis Island National Park
Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ellis Island National Park
Lunch on site

Board bus 7:15 a.m. at DCA

Bring a picnic basket or purchase lunch at the Ellis Island cafeteria.

To sign up, contact:
Chris Snyder at (203) 858-7232
or email

Here is a video about Ellis Island:


DMA Trip: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
April 20, 2017

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum: Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sign Up Now. Call or email Bill Winship: (203) 655-3530 or

$85 per person. Bus boards 7:45 a.m. at Darien Community Association. Departure 8 a.m.
For an introduction to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, go here.
Intrepid Museum

Lunch at Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse: Uncle Jack’s

DMA Trip “The Bikinis”
Thursday March 9, 2017

Westchester Broadway Theater
Lunch and Performance

The Iran Wars : Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals That Reshaped the Middle East
Jay Solomon

This is the deeply reported, riveting account of a war waged on many levels–military, financial, covert–that most don’t realize America has been engaged in for years. For over a decade, against the backdrop of the Middle East, Central Asia and the Far East, the United States and Iran have been engaged in a conflict as significant as it is hidden from view. Using a combination of economic sanctions, assassinations, global diplomacy and intelligence work, the United States has struggled to stabilize and contain what it sees as the most alarming foreign policy threat we face, while at the same time Iran has used the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and their own formidable intelligence networks and proxies to undermine the United States’ foothold in the Middle East. Through missed opportunities, miscommunication, and mistrust the two nations periodically moved toward and backed away from moments of understanding and compromise. Even as Iran built up their nuclear technologies, they were eventually brought to the negotiation table under crushing sanctions. Jay Solomon provides an unprecedented glimpse into the power struggle that the United States and Iran are locked into and the machinations that led to a historic agreement

Recommended by Frank Johnson

February 22, 2017
Susan Granger, film critic
150 Timeless Movies

Susan Granger, film critic, will talk about her new book, 150 Timeless Movies. She last talked with us about the Oscar awards.

Susan was born into a film-business family and was raised in Hollywood. She appeared as a child actress in movies with Abbott and Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball and Lassie. For more than 25 years, she has been an on-air television and radio critic, bringing an experienced and unique perspective to the movie business.

Her commentaries are distributed around the world by SSG Syndicate. In addition, her work has been published in The New York Times, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Working Woman, Family Circle, Cosmopolitan and numerous other publications.

Susan also is the feature film critic for Video Librarian magazine, distributed to libraries throughout the country.

Arranged by Scott Hutchason