Wednesday, August 27, 2014

OPEN FORUM: D181's 2013-2014 Math Pilot Programs

Today we received several comments asking that we open a new topic for comment on the Math Pilot Program taking place throughout the district. We are happy to oblige. To kick things off, below are the comments we have received. Please keep the discussion going. As the math pilots roll out, please share your compliments and concerns about the programs and let us know any questions you send to the administration and the answers you receive.   
Anonymous said...
I'm wondering if the bloggers would be willing to open a new topic for comment on the math pilot programs that are taking place throughout the district. Except for a brief and unsubstantive mention of them at the BOE meeting on, I believe, June 9 there has been no mention of them at all to parents despite the fact that there are a large number of students participating in them throughout the district. Granted, curriculum nights are coming up over the next week but my guess is that teachers will not have the background facts about why certain programs were chosen, why Everyday Math is being replaced, how the district will choose which program to purchase, how it will make sure that students who were in the programs not chosen have learned the same information as those who were, etc... From what I have heard from other parents and teachers, the Agile Mind program at HMS is a disaster waiting to happen as it is web-based and developed for students at inner-city and low performing schools. http://www.agilemind.com/results/data-snapshots/ My grade school child was just informed today of his participation in a pilot and was told that during its implementation there will be no math "grouping". Who knows what this means but with at least 4 new math programs in use at the various schools, why haven't parents been informed about them? Who was involved with choosing a program such as Agile Mind and what was their reasoning? Perhaps a blog post for parents to post information and ask questions of other parents would be helpful.
Anonymous said...
Yes Bloggers! Please set up a math pilot topic so we can post our comments. I am a very concerned HMS parent, and I think my child is in for a rough year ahead with the new math that will be tried out in his class with no groups. All students will be given the same lessons regardess of ability. This smells of Kurt Schneider and his dream of having everyone equal within a class.
BTW: I also listened to the board meeting and sat in disbelief as I listened to Dr. White and Schneider use fancy lingo and flowerly language about this next school year. I think Dr. White will try to do his best, but based on what I heard, it will take an army of competent staff to pull off what I think is impossible with reporting, measuring, and monitoring of each and every student. It sounds nice, but reality is a different story. Instead of all the fancy language, they should have talked about stopping this ridiculous math pilot and sparing our kids and teachers from a year of frustration!
Anonymous said...
I'm so tired of the secrecy regarding curriculum.

One reason the 4th grade math mess occurred was because the administration didn't address any of the parents' challenges. They just did what they wanted without any proof that this may be more effective.

Here we are again. There are studies showing that this Agile Mind program has shown no statistically significant difference over the control program. It was a 3 year study, 9 schools participated-all underserved areas (sound like our district?-no) . I briefly read the study but just google- An innovative math program Agile Mind: Effective? and you'll find it. We need to hear why they are even considering this program.

Monday, August 25, 2014

D181 Staff Accepts ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Congratulations to the D181 Administrative staff for accepting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  We are proud of each D181 who made a personal donation to this worthy cause.

Click on the following link to watch the video:

http://youtu.be/eW2mP_fcUsg

Monday, August 11, 2014

Community Concerns 2014-2015


As we stated in the last post -- Final Curtain Call --  although we, the "bloggers," will no longer be making regular posts, we will immediately begin accepting posts and written transcripts from our readers. We will also continue to accept and post comments that are sent to this blog. This open forum will allow various topics of concern to be posted on this blog at the request of our readers.  If you wish to write on a certain topic or issue, please do so and submit your blog post or comment to THIS post. Any submitted post must be written within the same guidelines as those stipulated for comments. We would like to provide a forum for readers, parents and community members to voice their concerns, though the original bloggers will no longer be submitting posts on a regular basis.

We look forward to your continuing involvement in bringing D181 issues to the forefront.  Keep shining the light of transparency on all things that will impact D181's students and taxpayers!

The Parents

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Last Curtain Call . . . A Final Message From the Bloggers: An Invitation for Open Forum Posts From Our Readers


(Taken from Wikipedia curtain images.)

As the saying goes, all things must come to an end. We would like to share with our loyal readers that for the time being, this post will serve as the last of our own on this blog. From day one, our goal has been to inform the D181 community of the state of our district, good and bad, and provide a link to the information that should have been forthcoming from the administration and the BOE for several years. But now we believe it is time to bid farewell. We’re certain there are members of the BOE and remaining administrators who will be thrilled the posts written by us bloggers will cease, but we want to emphasize that we will cease our posts to allow the new superintendent, Dr. White, to begin his work to hopefully quickly address the numerous issues this district faces, and to do so without scrutinizing his every move. Dr. White deserves an opportunity to get to know the district – from staff to students to parents to other community advocates – and to both identify and implement needed changes that will bring D181 back to a state of excellence. We do have concerns as to how effectively he will begin to foster change and improvements given the recent changes he has made within the administrative organizational structure, but more on that in a minute.

Though the bloggers will no longer be making regular posts, we will immediately begin accepting posts and written transcripts from our readers. We will also continue to accept and post comments that are sent to this blog. This open forum will allow various topics of concern to be posted on this blog at the request of our readers. Following today’s substantive post, we will set up one up that is titled:  “Community Concerns 2014-2015.”  If you wish to write on a certain topic or issue, please do so and submit your blog post or comment to the “Community Concerns 2014-2015” post for our review. Any submitted post must be written within the same guidelines as those stipulated for comments. We would like to provide a forum for readers, parents and community members to voice their concerns, though the original bloggers will no longer be submitting posts on a regular basis.

During the past year, we have learned a great deal about District 181, the community and the Board of Education. We know that no school district or community is perfect, but we certainly had high expectations of a district that once was, as one parent put it, a “beacon of light” within the community.  Time and time again we searched for truth and common sense, even when it seemed most elusive during the Schuster reign of chaos, along with a Board of Education that basically rubber stamped anything her administration requested. As a result of our extensive fact checking and analysis, we would like to share several perspectives that we believe will be important for parents to consider during the next academic year, for it will be a year of great significance due to the change in district leadership, the board of education election in April 2015, and the many academic concerns our children will face.

Before we present our list of perspectives, we feel compelled to share with you a traditional Native American saying, to which we will then explain its significance:

“Which wolf inside us wins, Grandpa?”

(Taken from Wikipedia wolf images.)


“The one you feed, my child.” 


Oh, yes. This ancient saying gives us great relevance of the here and now. Because truth be told, there are many wolves among us. They are lurking about in the community and within the ranks of the D181 administration and BOE. We have seen countless examples of these wolf packs gone wild with hidden agendas, mantras, slogans, and delusional double talk. And while the – in our opinion -- loony toons rhetoric of Schuster is now permanently gone, we must remember that some of her highly paid protégés/foot soldiers are still employed in the D181 central office. Which leads us to the first of our perspectives:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On the Road Again...Schneider Continues His Social Justice Mantra


We have been alerted by one of our readers that Kurt Schneider, D181's Assistant Superintendent of Everything, is currently on his annual trek to Wisconsin for promotion of social justice and inclusion within educational settings. We wouldn't be surprised if Schneider is using his D181 Learning for All experiment as a self-promotional tool during his seminar sessions, especially with his trusted colleagues Frattura and Capper also listed as presenters.

Message to Dr. White: Is it acceptable that your newly minted administrator is spending an entire week away from the central office? We certainly hope that he is taking vacation time for this conference (as would be appropriate), however, we can’t imagine the work and responsibilities that are on hold just several weeks before the start of the school year.  Last year, 8 administrators and principals attended this conference and were reimbursed by the taxpayers for their expenses.

Will we be on the hook again this year? Guess we will have to wait and see . . . .

For more information about Schneider's activities this week click on the following link:


Be sure to scroll to the end of the web page to see the names and bios of all of the facilitators presenting at the conference.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Update on D86 High School Teacher Contract Negotiations -- Board President's Conduct Questionable

Moments ago, we received the comment below regarding recent activity pertaining to the D86 teacher contract negotiations. Because we believe this is critical information that calls into question the behavior and lack of transparency of certain D86 board members, we are publishing this as a free standing post.

Anonymous said:

"Is there a sister blog for District 86? If not, there really should be one considering what the 86 board just did (and feel free to make this a free standing post if you want):

http://preaprez.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/in-hinsdale-this-is-what-tea-party-democracy-looks-like/

http://hinsdale.patch.com/groups/schools/p/teachers-union-responds-to-press-conference-by-d86-officials?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Basically, two of their board members held a press conference to discuss how contract negotiations with the teachers were going. Apparently, to start off with, the federal mediator said that neither side may discuss publicly how the negotiations were going. Secondly, and much more frightening, is that they only allowed the press to be there. They did not allow teachers, parents, community members, or even OTHER BOARD MEMBERS! According the the above articles, a third board, who did not know in advance about the press conference, wanted to come and sit in the audience. This board member was asked to leave by the two other board members because then they would have a quorum and need to have the conference open to the public under the Open Meetings Act. Seriously?!? Oh, wait, I'm sorry. I thought for a second that District 86 was a PUBLIC school district. I guess not. My bad."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Special Board Meeting Announced for July 8.

A Message from Superintendent Dr. Don White

Dear District 181 Key Communicators,
Please note that we are holding a Special Board meeting on Tuesday, July 8 at Elm School (6:30pm). The meeting agenda is focused primarily on personnel, including the staff changes I outlined in my message to you, sent July 1. You can view the agenda on BoardDocs beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday. We invite you to tune in via podcast and to watch for the Board Summary to be postedon July 9. You can learn more about accessing the meeting audio on our website

I wish you and your family a happy4th of July!

Don White, Ph.D.
Superintendent

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dr. White Announces Reorganizational Changes Including Promoting Oak Principal Sean Walsh to Director of Learning

Earlier today Dr. White sent out the following email. We invite our readers to sound off on the organizational changes.

Email from Dr. White:
Dear D181 Families,

As today is July 1, let me be the first to officially welcome your family to the 2014-15 school year! We have an exciting journey ahead.

Since coming to the District in May, I have been asking many questions and absorbing a great deal of information in pursuit of learning what our parents, staff, and community members feel are the immediate needs of our organization. One key component of my work has included processing how best to move forward in filling open positions in District Office, and I want to be transparent in sharing the result of that effort.

In the book “Good to Great,” author Jim Collins talks about having the “right people on the bus” who are also “in the right seats.” Below I have outlined a plan for reorganizing the “seats” to give greater attention where I believe it is needed and to most effectively utilize the talents of our team. What I am recommending is cost neutral and does not ultimately add to the total number of staff at District Office, but rather shifts some roles to better serve our community. Following meetings this week with the administrative team, staff association leaders, and District Office staff, I am confident these shifts will be the right move for District 181.

There are two sides to our District’s organizational chart (attached): Learning and Operations. Teaching and learning are what we do each day and will always be our first priority. Human Resources is being moved to the “Learning” side of our organization because people are at the heart of a strong educational system; John Munch was recently approved by the Board to fill the Assistant Superintendent of HR position. Also in “Learning” is Dr. Kurt Schneider as the Assistant Superintendent of Learning. Supporting that work will be Dawn Benaitis as the Director of Learning, Eric Danley as the Director of Technology, and a second Director of Learning. Sean Walsh will fill the second Director position. I am thrilled that Mr. Walsh has accepted this role. He is a respected educational leader with nine years of service as the Principal of Oak School, two years as a principal in Palatine, and three years as an assistant principal in Palatine. He has elementary classroom teaching experience and a very strong knowledge base. Please join me in congratulating Mr. Walsh on his new position! I know the staff and families of Oak School will be sorry to lose such an outstanding leader in their building, but fortunately Mr. Walsh will continue to serve the students of District 181. I anticipate making a decision this week regarding how to proceed in filling the Oak principal position. More information will be shared with the Oak community as we determine the next steps.

On the “Operations” side of our organizational chart, Gary Frisch will continue to serve as an Assistant Superintendent. Joining Mr. Frisch on the Operations side will be a new role, the Assistant Superintendent of Information Systems and Operations. Attached is a job description to clarify what this role will entail. Filling this position will be Ken Surma. Ken held a similar position in my previous district, and I have recruited him specifically to fill this role, beginning July 21.His expertise will be a major asset to our team. I look forward to providing you with more information on Mr. Surma’s background later this summer. The Director of Communications and school structure will remain the same.

As we finalize the work around open positions, it is important we also acknowledge the exceptional team of staff at District Office. The professionals in our Business, Communications, Human Resources, Learning, and Superintendent’s Offices continue to provide outstanding service and support for our schools. Before school resumes, I will be providing an overview of all that we have been up to this summer, along with an update on the exceptional progress of our Buildings and Grounds staff as they work hard to ready our facilities.

The changes in staff at District Office have been a challenge and we are saying goodbye to a group of fantastic leaders, but we can turn that challenge into an opportunity for stronger alignment from Boardroom to classroom. I am enthused by the team of educators in District 181 and the journey we are taking together with our District families and community.

I again wish you welcome to this new 2014-15 school year, and I hope you have a great summer.


Sincerely,

Don White, Ph.D.




Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30: Out With the Old; July 1: New and Improved Going Forward


We parents would like to remind our readers of two important dates, one being today -- June 30, wherein several of D181 administrative contracts expire and we will permanently part with these administrators. This date is significant because it allows greater freedom for Superintendent White to now hire experienced and competent administrators to possibly fill these positions. New contracts typically begin on July 1.

Here is a updated rundown of the administrative positions to possibly be filled:

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources: Dr. White has already announced a replacement for Doug Eccarius, who will be greatly missed. We appreciate his hard work and dedication to D181 throughout the years, and we wish him the best of luck in his new district.  Perhaps one day down the road, he will return to us as an experienced Superintendent.

Director of Special Education: Now that Christine Igoe is moving on, there should be BOE discussion as to whether Ms Igoe’s position is really necessary.  She basically ran Special Education services, and as multiple parents have commented on this blog, she was challenging to deal with regarding Special Education and as a foot solider while promoting Learning for All mantras. Kurt Schneider was originally hired to run the Special Education Department before he morphed himself into a Learning-For-All-Curriculum-And-Instructional Expert. He alone can oversee Special Education services and we should use Ms Igoe’s salary to directly enhance the instruction of our children.

Assistant Superintendent of Learning: It’s no secret Kevin Russell has had aspirations of moving up the organizational chart since his first days with the district. He was a good principal of Walker, one of the smallest schools in D181. We would like to extend our best wishes to him as he departs. And Mr. er, (taxpayer-funded Dr.) Russell, as one of the architects and promoters of Learning for All, consider yourself fortunate that you now will have a fresh crop of subjects in your new district for your experiment. Those of us who sat across from you in RtI meetings where you seemed to be listening and taking notes feverishly, never saw the instructional plan our children were promised. Best of luck to you as superintendent.

We look forward to July 1 and beyond with the hope that Dr. White will seek the best candidates for the central office, and we are optimistic our district will improve and move ahead in a positive direction with a solid administrative team.

Our children deserve no less.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dr. White's Transparency a Refreshing Change

No need for us to post a summary of last night's meeting.  Dr. White quickly sent out the following email to parents and community members right after the meeting.  Thank you Dr. White.  We look foward to reading his full meeting summary, but appreciate his emailing everyone directly with news of what was approved by the board on the closed personnel consent agenda and posting a link.

6/23/14 Email from Dr. White:

"Dear District 181 Families and Staff,

I am writing to provide a brief update following this evening’s Board of Education meeting. First, I invite you to join in congratulating a number of new employees who have been hired in the District. Included in the unanimously approved personnel agenda, Mr. John Munch for the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources position and Mr. Michael Vilendrer for the Facilities Coordinator position, both effective July 1. Attached is a press release with more information about these incoming administrators. You can see the complete personnel agenda on BoardDocs. We look forward to welcoming each of the new members of our District team!

Also, I invite you to review my Superintendent’s Report and the administrative team’s 2013-14 Year-End Report, both posted on BoardDocs with tonight’s meeting. My Superintendent’s Report highlights a variety of work currently occurring in the District, while the Year-End Report is an overview of our progress toward achieving the 2013-14 LIFE Goals.

Please visit BoardDocs to access all of the meeting’s files, and watch for the Board Summary to be posted later this week.


Sincerely,

Don White, Ph.D.
Superintendent"