Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Emperor's New Clothes" Round Two. Once again, Parents and Taxpayers are Being Played as Fools.

It is time for some reflections.  First, we are thankful.  We are thankful to our readers who over the last two years have made this blog viable and encouraged us to continue our quest for transparency in D181.  Last week we achieved a landmark when we exceeded 500,000 hits on this blog.  It may not seem like a lot of hits to other bloggers, but to us it was validation that what we have been doing -- creating a forum of true transparency and discussion -- has been worth it.

Having said that, our second reflection is not so positive.  Despite over two years of presenting and discussing facts and data, "unswirling" fiction about programs such as Advanced Learning/Learning for All/Learning for None, and exposing the "Emperors New Clothes" for what they were -- rather what they were not -- we have come to the sad realization that not much has changed in the "Castle" -- the D181 Central Office Administration.  Despite a change in the "ruler," there continues to be spin, lack of transparency, and in our opinion more invisible clothing being manufactured and paraded about town for "all to see."  Sadly, the monarchy still believes that D181 parents, taxpayers and residents are idiots who will not see the latest administrative antics for what they are and how they may continue to hurt our children's education.

The latest "fiction" (in our opinion) comes in the form of the recent announcement that the Central Office is going to once again be reorganized, the Department of Learning split back into two distinct sub-departments -- 1. Curriculum and Instruction and 2) Pupil Personnel Services (predominantly Special education, plus ELL).  We believe that despite the "announcement," D181's ruler is not taking the necessary steps to effect meaningful and much needed change in the Department of Learning.  To fully understand how we have come to this conclusion, let us review some history.

A Historical Primer -- The Department of "Learning" -- The Last Seven Years

  • The last time D181 had a dedicated, experienced expert in the field of curriculum and instruction to serve as the Assistant Superintendent of Learning was seven years ago, under former Superintendent Tenbusch.  
  • Tenbusch's brief, eleven month tenure in our district was wrought with administrative turnover, as the majority of administrators hired by former Superintendent Mary Curley were essentially shown the door by a BOE that many community members believe desired to get rid of all central administrators she had hired.  
  • When Tenbusch also "suddenly" resigned, Dr. Janet Stutz was hired to run the Department of Learning (but not the Department of Special Education) by Associate Superintendent Mary Ticknor. (The BOE had promoted Ms. Ticknor from Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, to essentially run the district that summer during the search for an interim superintendent.)  Dr. Stutz did not have a background or experience as a Curriculum Administrator, rather came to D181 as a former principal and background in facilities. 
  • Despite much public criticism about the curriculum, testing and placement criteria changes Dr, Stutz implemented, she managed to serve as the Assistant Superintendent for nearly five years, before leaving two years ago to become a superintendent elsewhere, (Preceding her departure was Ms. Ticknor, who also left to become a superintendent in another district after continuing in her role as Associate Superintendent during the two years that Dr. Robert Sabatino was hired to serve as Interim Superintendent. Five years ago, Dr. Schuster was hired as Superintendent. She left in May 2014 and Dr. White was hired.)
  • Replacing Stutz was Kevin Russell, who within one year was double promoted by Schuster, first from Walker School principal to Director of Assessment during Stutz's last year, and then to Assistant Superintendent of Learning. Russell departed one year ago to also become a superintendent in another district,  When he left, his position as Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) was merged with Dr. Schneider's position of Assistant Superintendent of Learning (PPS), who became the sole Assistant Superintendent of Learning.
  •  Recall that Dr. Schneider was originally hired in July 2012 to serve as the Assistant Superintendent of PPS (Special Education) after former Assistant Superintendent of PPS, Pam Kazee, was hired by a high school district.  As we have written about extensively on this blog, Dr. Schneider's role as the head Special Education administrator quickly morphed into an expanded role where he (in our opinion) was allowed to implement his social justice theories and create the Advanced Learning/Learning For All/Acceleration for all then acceleration for none/One Size Fits All instructional model. When Russell left, Scheider was officially given ALL of the curriculum oversight responsibilities byWhite who came on board right after Russell left.  
  • During the last year, we the bloggers and many brave parents and even some teachers, have called out the Department of Learning, exposing quite a few problems including  lack of administrative experience and training in the various Department of Learning positions, lack of data analysis and implementation of experimental programs that were driven by a social justice agenda that has no place in our district and has not been proven to serve high achieving, gifted, advanced, "unique" or talented students.

Dr. White's Announcement to Reorganize the Central Administrative Office, Specifically the Department of Learning -- Fact or Fiction?

Our last three posts have focused on the Dr. White's announcement that he has decided to split the Department of Learning back into two distinct sections, 1.  Curriculum and Instruction and 2. PPS (special education focused services) and move Dr. Schneider back into only serving as the Assistant Superintendent of Learning (PPS), rather than overseeing the entire department.

While we have commended Dr. White's decision to do this, we must now question how sincere he actually is going to be in implementing this much needed curriculum leadership change.

We, along with many of our readers who have submitted comments, have already questioned the almost covert manner in which this announcement was made -- in the dead of summer, first going only to teachers and not parents or community members, then only getting a short blurb by Dr. White during the July 13th "special board meeting" and having his announcement suggest that Scheider will still be involved in non-SPED related curriculum and instruction decisions.  One informed parent has already written to White reminding him that the district requires the head of Special Education services to be 100% dedicated to that position, yet White refuses to acknowledge this requirement.  Why?  

But as with the past experiences with the "Emperor's new clothes" we now believe that the claim that White is seeking to hire someone to serve as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction because he has "listen[ed][ to our community's needs and desires for our schools and implement[ed] the changes that will most effectively help us achieve our mission of providing an environment of educational excellence for each student," may be more spin and fiction.  Why do we say this?

Clearly, after years of having non-qualified, experienced, trained curriculum administrators running the Department of Learning with the end result being that our children have lost years of getting to participate and experience a proven, highest quality instructional model that truly meets the needs of each learner, it should be obvious that what the district needs is a full time, experienced, qualified, proven curriculum administrator with an expertise in the field.  D181 does not need a part time, retired, generic administrator to step into this role, or an untested, inexperienced, first timer, learn on the job employee.  Nor does D181 need a person with a desire to experiment on our children to "vet" unproven educational theories.  A recognition of what is needed would result in the crafting of a JOB DESCRIPTION with stated criteria of education, work experience and the specifics of the day to day responsibilities that the new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) will be responsible for.

Ahem.  Double ahem.  So why do we only have White's empty words and representations and NOTHING else to prove that D181 is actually undertaking a legitimate search for the best qualified curriculum administrator our tax dollars can afford?  There is NOTHING of substance to prove that a legitimate job search is underway to identify, vet, interview and consider a pool of qualified candidates with curriculum expertise.  There is NOTHING to prove that White's plans to hire someone new are nothing more than a fiction that will end in some internal promotion or external hire of another of White's former employees or connections (who may or may not be qualified for the role).

Why do we say this?  We have done some research on the process D181 is following to hire a new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction).  The results are most disturbing and make us really wonder just what the heck is going on in White's head?

First we checked the D181 website to see if a Job Vacancy had been posted.  On first glance we found nothing.  We looked under the D181 Department of Human Resources Job Vacancy link:  https://www.generalasp.com/D181/OnlineApp/jobpostings/view.asp. Expecting that an Assistant Superintendent position would be listed under "Administration" we were surprised to find that only ONE vacancy was listed and that was for a Pupil Services Administrator (at the building level).  That position was complete with a detailed job description -- click to open.

But then we noticed the second category of job vacancies called "Administrative District Office," and we thought "Ahah! That is where the Assistant Superintendent position will be listed."  So we clicked to open the ONE vacancy listed and were once again surprised that it wasn't there, rather the only Central Administrative position listed was that of "Director of Pupil Services," a position that has been posted since 4/23/2105.  That position was complete with a detailed job description -- click to open.

No other job vacancy is posted under this category.  Now we don't know about you, but common sense dictates that if we were a Curriculum Administrator hunting for a new job and came upon the D181 website, we wouldn't go any further than looking at these two categories to see if a Central Administrative position was available.  Nope, we would move on to another district's website.
We most certainly wouldn't keep clicking beyond the next category listed -- "Elementary School Teaching" (which obviously wouldn't apply to an experienced curriculum administrator's job search for a new administrative position) -- and then click on a "new category (which we have NEVER before seen on the Job Vacancy link) called "Interim."

But because we the bloggers were hunting for the job vacancy posting, we did click on "Interim" and low and behold, we found it!  Sort of....

If you click on the following link -- https://www.generalasp.com/D181/OnlineApp/jobpostings/view.asp?category=Interim -- you will open a job description for a position called "Interim Assistant Superintendent of Learning." 

We have copied the text of this job posting below:

Interim Assistant Superintendent of LearningJobID: 924 
Position Type:

Email To A Friend
Print Version 
Closing Date:

Until filled
  Interim/Assistant Superintendent
Date Posted:
  7/13/2015
Location:
  District Office
Date Available:
  Immediately
For information about this job, please visit http://www.bwpassociates.com

We found this job posting to be quite fascinating in what it doesn't
 say.  Sure, it is called Assistant Superintendent of Learning, but it also has "Interim" as part of the title, suggesting that no attempt is being made right now to hire a PERMANENT administrator.  Further, there is absolutely NO JOB DESCRIPTION attached, so even if found by a Curriculum Administrator searching for a new job, there would be nothing to indicate that this is a position focused on Curriculum and Instruction, or give any clue as to the educational or experience requirements or what the job responsibilities entail. All that is referenced is to visit the website of an Educational Search Firm called BWP Associates, but no active link is included.

So we continued out search for more information on this MOST IMPORTANT JOB VACANCY in D181 by going to BWP's website, which we are providing to you as an active link:  http://www.bwpassociates.com.

When you click on that link, you don't pull up the job description, rather you only open their website. To find the D181 Job description you have to go hunting, first by clicking on their link

called Searches in Progress (which we are also providing to you as a live link).  That opens up a list of job searches they are currently running and the 6th of 7 searches listed is for D181:  We have copied the text of their listing below:

Hinsdale School District 181 - Illinois

Seeking an Interim Assistant Superintendent for Learning - 2015-16 School Year
View information on community and position
Status:  In Progress


Embedded in this brief blurb was an active link called "View Information on Community and Position."  So we naturally assumed by clicking on the link we would FINALLY see a detailed job description.  Alas, we did not.  Click on it for yourself and you will see that all it shows is the following information:

Hinsdale School District 181 

Illinois 

Announcement 

of 
Interim Assistant Superintendent Vacancy 
2015-16 School Year 

Hinsdale School District 181 is seeking an interim Assistant Superintendent for Learning for the 2015-16 school year. This position is available immediately and is open to someone interested in full time or a retired administrator working under the 100-day TRS cap. Resumes will be reviewed upon receipt by Dr. Anne Noland and Dr. Mark Friedman. 
BWP and Associates, Ltd.
 872 South Milwaukee Avenue, #221 
Libertyville, Illinois 60048 
Please send a current resume and letter of interest to: 
Dr. Mark Friedman friedman.markr@gmail.com 847-975-8393 
Dr. Anne Noland mhnoland@comcast.net 630-624-3336 
An Equal Opportunity Employer

NO JOB DESCRIPTION!!!  Nothing, nada, zippo!  O.k.  Now we were mad!  How can it be BOTH the district and the search firm have nothing of substance posted on their websites? For each of the other six open searches it is conducting, BWP  has live links to very detailed job descriptions:  Click to open detailed job descriptions for Search 1Search 2Search 3Search 4Search 5 and Search 7.

So why doesn't BWP have a description that fully explains the job and its qualifications?  What 
little is posted establishes that Dr. White is willing to hire a retired administrator who can only work a maximum of 100 days under the TRS cap.  Really?  Is this what our children really need to fill the "void" Dr. White has thankfully created by cutting Schneider's job in half?  Or is this whole "job search" nothing more than fiction, allowing White to claim later that no one was interested in the job, therefore Schneider needs to re-assume his former job title?  Or will this fiction allow White to bring his own "candidate" (internal or external) forward after claiming that the BWP search failed to yield any other candidates?

Is the process that is currently underway to hire a new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) really the best effort by a district of our caliber or a search firm of BWP's caliber?  We think not, especially with the high salaries our administrators are paid or the high fees that we expect BWP is collecting to conduct this "search."

Readers, there is something seriously fishy about what is going down.  We can go on and on about the ramifications of what we have uncovered, but frankly, we are tired.  Tired of all the spin, tired of all the games, tired of the assumption by the current central office administrator in charge that we are ignorant, naive parents and taxpayers who are willing to play dumb, pretend to see things that do not really exist, and are idiots.  We most certainly are not, but after two years of exposing the problems and harm being caused to our children, we are just about ready to walk away and throw in the towel. It really is up to the new School Board to fix this mess, because it is plain as day that we cannot trust our administrative leaders to do it.

So SOUND OFF!






Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dr. White's Silence to the General Public -- Parents and Taxpayers -- Continues Regarding His Plans to Reorganize the Central Office Administrative Staff

Board Docs for Monday's "Special Board Meeting" are now available online, including the agenda and related documents.  Click to open Meeting Agenda.  As of 1:00 p.m. Monday afternoon, there is absolutely nothing on the agenda that reflects the information Dr. White sent to the D181 staff last Thursday regarding his plans to split the Assistant Superintendent of Learning position Dr. Schneider currently holds into two positions, moving Schneider into 1/2 of the role with the new title of Assistant Superintendent of Learning (PPS) and beginning the search for a new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction).  (Be sure to read our last two posts:  Click to open July 9, 2015 Post and click to open July 10, 2015 Post.)

No Superintendent's report.

No Department of Human Resources report informing the community what steps will be taken and what timeline will be followed to hire a new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction).

No Job Description for the Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction).

Nothing + Nada + Zippo = ZERO TRANSPARENCY.

Again.

Parents and all Taxpayers have a right to know what will be discussed at board meetings. Creation of a new administrative position (reasons why it is necessary, what it will cost taxpayers, etc) are not matters that can be discussed only by the BOE in executive session. These matters are all open meeting agenda items. If the BOE is only discussing them behind closed doors, they are violating the Open Meetingts Act. Parents and all Taxpayers WHO PAY ALL ADMINISTRATIVE SALARIES have a right to know when yet another round of Central Office Administrator reorganization is about to take place. Parents and all Taxpayers have a right to know why suddenly someone who is losing 1/2 of their job responsibilities just got another RAISE, rather than a pay cut.

All this information requires a superintendent who is transparent. At this point in time, it looks like D181 no longer has one of those.

What a disappointment.





Friday, July 10, 2015

More to the "Story"? We Think So.

UPDATE TO 7/9/15 Blog Post:

Since publishing the anonymous comments we received yesterday from a D181 staff member, who was brave (and transparent) enough to disclose 2 communications she/he received from Dr. White and the Communication's Director announcing another Central Office Administrative reorganization and information on the new Assessment Director, we have gotten a flurry of comments.  We have decided to publish them below in their entirety, as a free-standing post, because they are packed full of additional information that our readers have been able to find on the Internet.  We believe this information sheds a light of transparency on the "story" that  Dr. White has told the staff.  

Looks like it's more important than ever to listen to or attend next Monday's "Special" BOE meeting.  It will be held on July 13,  7 p.m. at Walker School.

SOUND OFF!

Comments with Additional Information:

Jill Quinones said...
Sorry, Parents - I'm not as optimistic as you are. I had to shake my head when I read Dr. White's spin in this letter to staff on why he was kind of moving Dr. Schneider back to special ed land. He writes that he: "restructured the organizational chart to make workloads more manageable and to make sure that we have the right balance of focus on all learners. "

REALLY?

Below is a recent letter I sent to Dr. White and the BOE - I am thinking it is perhaps Dr. Schneider's lack of continuing commitment to D181 that prompted the change:

"Dear Board of Education,
Now that I am working from home for the summer, I took a little time to see if I could find any current research supporting Dr. Schneider's theories as applied to educating advanced learners/gifted students. While I found no research, I did discover that Dr. Schneider recently applied for a Superintendent position at a school district in Wisconsin. I am assuming you were aware of this at the time you recently approved his salary increase.

While I have nothing against an administrator seeking a promotion in his career, I am troubled that our current head of the Department of Learning has made it clear that he believes now is the time for him to start looking for that promotion, suggesting that he is not committed long-term to the job we have hired him to do.
If our Department of Learning and the implementation of the Board's mission/vision were stable, this would probably not be such an issue for me. But what is going on in that Department is not stable, particularly as it relates to the weakest and strongest learners as evidenced by the recent data presentation you received.

I will reiterate what I wrote to you before, we are no further along as to those learners than we were when Dr. Moon presented her report over three years ago. This District needs to see someone put in charge of the Department of Learning who wants to put in place research based programming and instructional models that will help each and every child make growth - truly Learning for All - and wants to hang around long enough to fine tune this programming until the data supports what we all want to see happen for our children.
Thank you for your time. Have an enjoyable summer.

Jill Quinones"

The fact that Dr. White is still planning on having Dr. Schneider keep a hand in curriculum and instruction matters and not focus solely on special education is even more outrageous and has no merit considering Dr. Schneider's lack of training and experience in this area (see his resume elsewhere on the blog). Moreover, Illinois law requires that the head of Special Education be a full time position. See 23 Ill. Admin.Code 226.800: Each school district, or the cooperative entity of which it is a member, shall employ a full-time director of special education, who shall be the chief administrative officer of the special education programs and services of the district or cooperative entity.

I'm sure D181 got some kind of waiver - but is that really what is in the best interests of our students?
Jill Quinones said...
And while I would like nothing more than to see stability with Administrators, I just don't see that happening until D181 starts realizing that the demographics of this community in terms of students, parents, and property taxes paid require that Central Office Administrators need to have prior training and experience in the position for which they are hired– not just some related expertise. Every time D181 has promoted or hired someone who has needed to be trained it has been a disasterous waste of taxpayer dollars and has negatively impacted student growth.

Now I read what he wrote about the new Director of Assessments & Effectiveness: "XX has expertise in many areas."

Yes, she does. Too bad her expertise is NOT in the area of elementary education or any of the current assessments being used by D181 or elsewhere (let alone Common Core). She may have somestatistics ability, but she has no background suggesting she knows anything about what she will be analyzing. I guess the D181 taxpayer can just pay to send her to be trained in addition to her salary. Don’t just take my word for it. I took some time to look at her credentials on the D181 FOIA log and compare them to the Administration-written, Board-approved job description (and sent this to the Board as well). Draw your own conclusions (see next post).

I also noticed that she indicated on her Application that she was at NYU 8/94-5/96 working on her MA, yet her resume states she worked at Dewey School in Evanston from 1991-1999 and that she got her MA in 1995 (not 1996). Just a pet peeve of mine, but particularly for someone we are asking to focus on numbers, one would hope she would be consistent and accurate with the information she provided D181.

Commenter at 5:22 – I have high hopes for the new board, but I am not so sure the ship has begun to turn yet. I do hope Dr White and the new hire prove me wrong.....
Jill Quinones said...
Part 1 D181 Job Description – Director of Assessments & Effectiveness

Qualifications – Experience and Education

• State of Illinois Professional Educator License with General Administrative endorsement – XX has this.

• Master’s degree required – XX has this, but it is not current relevant to what is happening in education today. This would not matter as much if she was currently in the field of elementary education, but she is not. MA in Elementary Ed from 1995 (20 years ago); current PHD (2012) in Ed Psych – not Elementary Ed, Research, Statistics or Math

• Experience in public school administration preferred – None. A practicum is not experience. It is equivalent to being a student teacher.

• Minimum 3 years teaching experience preferred – Last taught at the Elementary level in 2000 (15 years ago). Currently teaching online part time at the college level unrelated to elementary education or assessment or statistics.

• Experience with processes of continuous improvement – Did some SIP as part of Admin Practicum and some as part of teaching in 1991-1999

• Comprehensive knowledge of curriculum, assessment, and instruction – XXX's knowledge is not comprehensive as relative to elementary and middle school curriculum, assessment, and instruction. What little experience she has is only 2nd and 4th grade – no middle school, and is from 15 years ago when education in terms of curriculum, assessment, and instruction were significantly different from today. The words “Common Core State Standards, MAP, PARCC, RtI, Formative Assessments, Summative Assessments” appear nowhere on her application or resume. Moreover, she has NO experience in the area of Gifted education, the White Elephant that has been in the room of this District for so many years.

• Extensive experience in program and systems analysis – XXX shows minimal experience in program and system analysis. 1st year Statistics students run the Variable Analyses in PASW that she lists as experience.

• Experience or Training in statistical analysis of standardized and locally developed formative and summative assessments – There is nothing in her resume or application indicating she has this experience or training relative to the type of assessments used in D181

• Experience with database functions, including spreadsheet creation, importing and exporting data, creating reports and verifying accuracy, graphically displaying data, and data analysis using statistical measures – XXX has this in terms of PowerPoint and other presentations she has done.

• Demonstrated ability to work with and facilitate professional development for certified staff in the development of formative and summative assessments – While she has implemented some PD, it has not been in the area of elementary assessments.

• Knowledge of school district operations, national and state educational legislation, and Illinois School Code – There is nothing in her application or resume that suggest this knowledge other than her earlier work in Evanston.
Jill Quinones said...
Part 2

Job Description, cont.

Qualifications– Skill Set

• Excellent leadership skills – XX's answer to a question about this on the application is good. I am sure her references would vouch for her having these skills.

• Excellent technological skills – XX's online teaching plus other software with which she indicates she is proficient suggest she has this.

• Ability to research, organize, develop, and implement long-range projects – XX's resume and application reflect this experience.

• Ability to communicate with all segments of the school and community – As a former elementary teacher, I am sure she has this skill set.

• Demonstrated leadership skills and ability to collaborate effectively - XX's answer to a question about this on the application is good. I am sure her references would vouch for her having these skills.

Responsibilities

• Supervises and monitors the district assessment program and state mandated student assessments and provides statistical analysis of the results – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.

• Implements training for certified staff to utilize assessment data for instructional purposes – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.

• Develops and maintain data systems in order to provide a comprehensive, efficient, accurate and current record of all important matters pertinent to the operations of the District – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.

• Analyzes current assessment frameworks and makes recommendations on the creation of a balanced assessment system – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.

• Oversees the preparation of mandated federal and state reports and ensures accuracy – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.

• Creates a system for the development or selection of valid and reliable local assessments as directed by the Assistant Superintendent of Learning – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.

• Works collaboratively with other area districts to determine how D181 students are performing upon exiting the system and/or in comparison of other select elementary districts – While I am sure XX can work collaboratively, there is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.
Jill Quinones said...
Part 3 Job Description - cont.

• Serves as primary contact for relevant third party assessment and program analysis consultants - There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this in a meaningful way, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.

• Communicates effectively with parents regarding all aspects of student assessment – While I am sure she can communicate effectively with parents generally, there is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in D181 today.

• Provides leadership assistance in support of the Superintendent for the development, promotion and implementation of the District’s priorities and objectives – Given her lack of current elementary education experience/knowledge/training, she herself is going to require a lot of assistance.

• Prepares and recommends additions and revisions to existing policies, procedures, and regulations relative to district data systems and program effectiveness – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.

• Aids in reviewing, analyzing and evaluating pending legislation, legal mandates, regulations, and guidelines that may affect District programs, functions and activities. Given her lack of current elementary education experience/knowledge/training, she herself is going to require a lot of assistance.

• Attends all regularly scheduled meetings of the Board of Education and such staff meetings and committees as assigned. XX has experience doing this.

• As requested by the Superintendent, serves as a member of the District’s negotiating team for all collective bargaining agreements – XX has no experience doing this.

• Works collaboratively to support district goals and learning initiatives. XX has experience doing this.

• Participates in the strategic planning process and direct efforts as assigned - Given her lack of current elementary education experience/knowledge/training, she herself is going to require a lot of assistance

• Supervises and evaluate staff as assigned. – What little evaluation experience/training she has is dated – even from her Type 75 training in 2002. She will need to be trained to be able to do this.

• Completes other assignments and/or special projects as requested by the Superintendent. This will depend on the experience and knowledge needed for what she is asked to do
Anonymous said...
Kudos to Ms Quinones for taking the time to educate our population more than the "educators" in our district, who are handsomely paid. I agree with her: I am skeptical and I smell megaspin. Let's remember how we got here in the first place with having to now shuffle the administrative deck, once again. It was Don White himself who placed Kurt "the trusted colleague" in charge of curriculum and the Department of Learning. This proved to be a bad decision that affected all of our kids during another frustrating school year. And now we have a supposed "Assessments" expert who has not actually worked with current assessments? What's going on here?
As long as the same hands are still in the cookie jar, nothing will change.
Anonymous said...
I am happy about the Schneider move which is long overdue but agree that the qualifications of the new hire do not seem to be in line with the job description or as substantive as I would expect in our district - or at least the district we used to be. Her lack of elementary education experience is a bit frightening and quite puzzling. Didn't the recent staff and parent surveys indicate that they felt that previous experience was the the number one most important qualification for the people filling these administrative positions to have? Why doesn't Dr. White agree? She seems to have significant experience in technology.
D181 Parent said...
Thanks to Ms. Quinones for providing the community with additional information about Schneider. I just did an online search (his name and the phrase "superintendent search") to find where he had applied to be a superintendent. The first two results were quite eye opening: http://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/page.cfm?p=2618&newsid=1417 and http://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/page.cfm?p=3323. Looks like he didn't just apply, but he was actually a finalist for a K-12 district close to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a district that has approximately 2000 students, 2 elementary schools (K-6), one intermediate school (7-8), one regular high school (9-12) and one charter school for high school students (9-12). http://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/page.cfm?p=5.

According to the June 1 post on the school district's very own blog, his name, along with two other finalist's names, were published. I scrolled through more recent blog posts and read that on June 8, the blog reported on day long second interviews that each finalist, had during the first week in June, and indicated that a decision would be made on or before June 16, 2015.

The blog, which I must say was a real display of a school district being fully transparent, also published Schneider's resume: http://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/uploaded/Blog/Kurt_Schneider.pdf

It sure looks impressive! Scroll to the bottom to see his references, which, not surprisingly, include some familiar names.

In my biased opinion (because my kids have been screwed by D181's LFA experimentation), it is too bad for us that he wasn't hired. But in my opinion, it also speaks volumes about his commitment (or lack thereof) to our district.

According to the Wisconsin school district's blog, the new superintendent was scheduled to start his job at the end of July/beginning of August. Nice. Potentially leaving D181 in the lurch in the middle of the summer. That wouldn't have given D181 much time to fill the vacancy his departure would have created before OUR students returned this fall. I can't for a second believe that White wasn't keenly aware of what was potentially going to happen to OUR distict (or what still might happen, because it seems likely that this isn't the only superintendent position that Schneider has applied to), and the fact that White has waited until mid July to even begin searching for someone to fill 1/2 of the shoes Schneider was wearing last year, makes me question whether White is really looking out for our children's best interests. One thing's for sure, White better scramble to hire a qualified and experienced Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. I'd suggest hiring a national search firm and not insisting that all candidates only believe in the inclusive model that has screwed up our curriculum. And most importantly, no more starter administrators or administrators who are going to have to learn on the job. If White doesn't get this one right, it may be time for the BOE to hold him accountable, and there's only one way for them to really do that......

P.S. Bloggers -- Can you create a free standing post with all of this information?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

GOOD BREAKING NEWS! Dr. White Does Right By D181 With New Plans to Reorganize the Central Office Administration, Moving Dr. Schneider out of his Joint Role as Assistant Superintendent of the Department of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) and Limiting it to Assistant Superintendent of Learning (PPS).

We interrupt our Summer Hiatus with GOOD breaking news!

Earlier today, we received 4 anonymous comments from, it appears, a D181 staff member. The comments copied  two communications he/she received today. We have copied the four comments (merging them into one) below. The first communication referenced was a letter to the D181 staff from Dr. White in which he announced plans to once again reorganize the Central Office Administration  by moving Dr. Schneider down to only oversee the PPS Department. As we all know, last year, after Kevin Russell's departure, Dr. White promoted Schneider to run the entire Department of Learning -- regular education, gifted education and special education curriculum and instruction services.  Schneider was originally hired in July 2012 to oversee PPS (special education services) but then almost overnight (in our opinion) became the mastermind behind the Advanced Learning/Learning For All/Learning for None plan, leapfrogging his way to running the entire department.

The second communication referenced was a follow up letter from the D181 Communication's Director providing additional information on the recent hire of an Assessment Director.

After these comments were published by us this afternoon, we received one comment praising Dr. White but pointing out the irreparable harm that has already hurt many of D181's students.  We have also published this comment below.

Rather than issue a full commentary on the two communications the D181 staff today received today -- since Dr. White has not yet provided parents and community members any information regarding the central office reorganization -- we want to hear what our readers have to say. We will briefly point out that we agree with the last commenter who called Dr. White's announcement "good news."
We commend Dr. White for making this organizational change.   We also commend the BOE for working with Dr. White to initiate this important change.

We may weigh in further later, but for now, please Sound Off!

Comment from Anonymous Staff:

Anonymous said...



Just got this e-mail from Dr. White. Looks like he's changing up the organizational chart again by adding a new Asst. Supt. of Learning (curriculum) and Schneider's back to PPS. So instead of a director level position for PPS, we get an Asst. Superintendent level for it, costing us even more $$$.

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are enjoying this atypical July weather and finding time to refresh your mind and body!

As I am sure you know, District 181 has been and will always be a dynamic place where we can count on one constant - change. Even though we may not always anticipate or even welcome change, I know that change allows us to reflect on what works and what we might do to improve the learning opportunities we provide our students. It is with this in mind that I am writing to share some administrative changes that have occurred or will occur this summer.

In addition to the already announced administrative changes, I am pleased to share that Dr. Carol Larson's employment recommendation as the Director of Assessments & Effectiveness was recently approved by the Board. Dr. Larson has expertise in many areas and I am confident she will be a great addition to our administrative team and the Department of Learning. I am also confident that you will enjoy working with her when she officially starts on August 10. I have attached a copy of the job description to help you better understand the intended focus of Dr. Larson's work.

Staying within the Department of Learning, I have been working with the Board of Education and Dr. Schneider on how to best meet the needs of our students, how we can better serve our teachers, and how we can best accomplish all of the work needing to be done.

With that in mind, I have restructured the organizational chart to make workloads more manageable and to make sure that we have the right balance of focus on all learners. Dr. Kurt Schneider will be the Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Pupil Services) and we will welcome a yet-to-be named Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum & Instruction). Dr. Schneider has performed his work at a very high level and is a trusted colleague but I feel the need to give him some assistance so that we can make the workload more manageable. If you have had a chance to work with him, you know he listens very well, has a deep understanding of instructional practices and cares deeply about serving the needs of all students, teachers and administrators. He and I spent many hours discussing this topic over this year and have concluded that we need to make this type of change for the upcoming school year so that we have the personnel necessary to most effectively meet the needs of our students and staff.

Dr. Schneider will continue to supervise the Directors within the Department of Learning and may share this responsibility once the yet-to-be-named Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum & Instruction) is selected. Given the timing of this change, I have not yet made a final decision on whether to seek a permanent candidate for this position or to make an employment recommendation that an interim be hired.

As you may recall from this past year, Dr. Schneider and I have attempted to be sensitive to the demands which are placed on classroom teachers and administrators. This resulted in the slowing down of some work we had originally planned for this past year (e.g., the review of our science curriculum and middle school exploratories to name just a few). However, some of this work must progress this year. As such, it is my expectation that Dr. Schneider and the future Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum & Instruction) will collaborate on all issues related to the Department of Learning. This is important so that we continue the District's path of focusing on the needs of all learners. We will next determine how to best move forward with the topic of instructional technology (e.g., filling the Director of Instructional Technology position).

In addition to putting these changes into action, our District Office staff have a busy summer planned! We are almost fully recovered from a mini "water intrusion event" in the new Administrative Center after only being in the office for one week - just to make the move more interesting :-). We are working to fill several building level positions. We started the strategic planning process. We are continuing to develop the ten-year Facilities Master Plan and prepare for Board action on the future of HMS. We are also finalizing the calendar of professional development offerings for our return in August. All of this work and much more will continue over the next several weeks and into the 2015-16 school year. For sure, it will be a year filled with fun!

As we all understand, we work very hard to get things right, changes are a constant and we must adapt to meet the needs of our students given the information we have at the time we need to make decisions. This is the essence of continuous improvement and will always be embedded in our work. I appreciate your support and encourage you to continue engaging our team at the District Office to assist with your efforts to provide the very best learning opportunities to our students.

In the meantime, please know that I will do my best to share news and information about other changes that may occur throughout the summer.

In closing, thank you for what you may be doing this summer to better yourself as a person and professional. Making sure we get time to reconnect with family and friends while also finding time to expand our practice makes us better colleagues to one another and serves our students well!

Sincerely,

Don
Also, I got this e-mail from Bridget McGuiggan. Note that there's going to be a board meeting this coming Monday, July 13th.

Good morning!
In addition to the information Dr. White provided this morning, below are a few other news items that are also being shared with D181 parents and Key Communicators.
Monday Board Meeting
Facilities News: Podcast Available; August Community Events
Learning Committee Members Wanted; Applications Due July 24
2015-16 Calendar
Registration Ongoing; Fee Collection Postponed
Draft Tentative Budget Available to View
Monday Board Meeting
The Board of Education has called a Special meeting for Monday, July 13 at Walker School starting at 7pm. The tentative agenda includes the following items: a staffing update, a strategic planning update, personnel, Gifts and Contributions, Elm School furniture purchases, and payments of bills and reimbursements. Among the personnel items being presented is a recommendation for The Lane School principal. If the finalist is approved, the message we send after the meeting will include information about that individual, along with highlights of other Board meeting discussion and action. Visit the Board Meetings webpage (www.d181.org > Board > Meetings) to access a link to BoardDocs and meeting audio recordings. Thank you to The Lane parents and staff who participated in the interview process and completed our principal search survey!

Facilities News: Podcast Available; August Community Events
Facilities has been a major focus of our efforts over the past year, particularly as we determine the long-term future of Hinsdale Middle School. On our website (www.d181.org > Our District > Facilities Master Plan), we have posted a 30-minute podcast that provides a helpful re-cap of where we have been and where we are going in this process. On the same webpage is an online comment form to share your feedback and questions on facilities issues. In related news, Dr. White will be attending three local events this August to help bring the facilities discussion to more community members. He and other District staff will be on hand to answer questions and listen to residents' ideas and concerns on facilities planning. We hope you can stop by!
Hinsdale Farmer's Market on Monday, August 3 (11am-1pm)
Burr Ridge Farmer's Market on Tuesday, August 4 (5:30-7pm)
Clarendon Hills Library Ice Cream Social on Thursday, August 13 (6-7pm)
Learning Committee Members Wanted; Applications Due July 24
We are seeking new parent and community members for our Learning Committee, which provides input and feedback on curriculum, assessment, instruction, student services, and professional development. The application for committee membership is available on our website (www.d181.org > Resources > Committees), at the Administration Center (115 West 55th Street, Clarendon Hills), and it is attached here. Completed applications are due no later than 4pm on Friday, July 24. Dr. White will be working with HCHTA and HESS in staff Committee members. Learning Committee meetings are tentatively scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month beginning at 6pm, with the first meeting on Wednesday, August 5.

2015-16 Calendar
The complete yearlong calendar for 2015-16 is attached to this message and posted on our website (www.d181.org > Calendar). The first day of school is Wednesday, August 26; it will be a full day with regular dismissal. Both CHMS and HMS have their Back to School Day events on Wednesday, August 19. Please check the web calendar for Curriculum Night schedules and other fall event dates.

Registration Ongoing; Fee Collection Postponed
Student registration is continuing to take place at the Administration Center. We appreciate your help in encouraging new families in the area to register their children as soon as possible if entering preschool, kindergarten or Grades 1-8 this year. Please note that District fee collection for all 2015-16 students has been postponed while we revamp our online payment system. More information will be shared in the coming weeks and posted on our website (www.d181.org > Resources > Registration).

Draft Tentative Budget Available to View
At their last meeting, the Board of Education reviewed a draft of the Tentative Budget for 2015-16. Visit our Financial Reports webpage to view that document along with several years of prior budgets, audit reports, and other related materials that are posted for stakeholders to access at anytime (www.d181.org > Departments > Business). The Tentative Budget will be placed on public display for 30 days prior to being presented for approval in September.

###

Have a nice day!

Bridget McGuiggan, APR
Anonymous said...
The information contained in Dr. White's e-mail is good news. It is obvious that, for a variety of reasons, Dr. Schneider is being eased away from having the responsibility inherent in leading the Department of Learning. This is what should have happened when Dr. White joined the district last year. Hopefully this "reorganization" will allow Dr. Schneider to focus on all of the pupil services issues that are currently plaguing the district and makes sense as this is where his experience lies.

Now we just need to hire a strong candidate for the Learning and Curriculum position. Someone with extensive experience in performing this job and who has the educational background to support it. The downside to all of this change? So many students who have been negatively impacted for so long, it's too late for many of them. I'm glad to see the new Board finally beginning to turn this ship around. It took us 4 years to get here, I am pleased to see what we've accomplished in just 4 months with new, committed BOE members.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Summer Hiatus is Upon Us: Bloggers to Take A Break

Yes, readers, it's that time of year when your bloggers take the summer off to recharge from a busy year thus far. Last summer we gave Dr. White a chance to settle into his new job and this summer we want to extend the same opportunity to the new Board of Education.  With the students and teachers off for the summer, it is time for us to also spend quality time with our children and place our trust in our elected school board officials to hopefully lead our district back into the light (of transparency) and work collaboratively with Dr. White to return the district to one where students are taught at their ability levels, in order to ensure that they all have the opportunity to maximize their academic potential.   

Perhaps by the end of the summer we will be able to declare that this blog is no longer the only avenue community members, parents and taxpayers have to express their opinions and engage in meaningful dialogue with the adults who play such an important role in overseeing the education of our children.  This summer, we will continue to post comments as we see fit, and we welcome any articles or written posts from readers who take the time to write thoughtful correspondence.  Should there be any breaking news stories, we will certainly interrupt our summer hiatus to report on them because we believe it's important for the community to be aware of important events. 

In the meantime, a recent FOIA request suggests a lack of research was used to develop a strong foundation for the current instructional model and practices within our district.  As a result, it has become clear to us that many D181 parents are probably dealing with a drought of information regarding school placements and ability grouping. Take a look at the following when you get a chance; we thought we would leave our readers with an excellent article dealing with gifted (now a dirty word in D181!) students from the respected Center for Gifted Education at the University of Iowa. The full article is titled:  "Study: Gifted Students still at risk of being left behind."

http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/k-12/2015/04/07/belin-blank-study-gifted-students/25430639/

We believe that after you read this one article you will agree that the research is clear on the efficacy of ability grouping with acceleration.  And if there are any administrators within D181 who believe otherwise, then they need to leave the district as soon as possible.

Enjoy the beginning of summer break until the next BOE meeting on June 22 at 7 p.m. (according to Dr. White's last Superintendent's report from the June 8th meeting). 




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Comment of the Day: Parent Jill Quinones Sounds Off on the June 8th MAP Data Presentation and What it Should Mean to the BOE.

Last night we received a series of comments from D181 Parent and Taxpayer Jill Quinones copying a letter she sent to the BOE  on June 10, 2015.  She has asked us to post the letter as a free standing post.  When we read her letter, we were blown away by the information on the recent MAP math data presentation Dr. White gave the BOE at the June 8 board meeting, HER professional presentation and the insights she provided to the BOE.  The letter is exactly the kind of communication that the board should not only acknowledge, but thank her for.  In our opinion, she has done the work of a REAL assessment director -- and at no charge to the taxpayer!  So, of course, we have agreed to post it as the Comment of the Day.  We can only hope that the BOE heeds her suggestions.  Perhaps Ms. Quinones should be hired as a D181 Administrator...


Ms. Quinones' Letter to the BOE:


"Dear Board of Education Members,
I have reviewed the MAP Presentation documents on Board Docs for the June 8, 2015 BOE meeting and listened to part of the Board discussion via podcast (although admittedly not the whole discussion).  When I heard Dr. White mentioning that a more detailed analysis would have to be part of an explanation as to why students didn’t meet their growth targets, an analysis that looked, for example, at performance on Operations and Algebra questions versus Geometry, it struck me that while this is a very important exercise for teachers and administrators, it is well below the high level that you as a Board look at things and on which you should be basing decisions.  As someone who has been working with and analyzing MAP scores for more years than I want to think about, I thought I would take the time to provide you with some foundational information that you may or may not already know to assist you with your analysis of our students’ performance.  I am not by any means an expert statistician or data analyzer.  I cannot urge you enough to find ways to tighten up current administrative roles and hire such a person without increasing total cost of administrating this District. 

First, while those MAP presentations by District, by grade, by school certainly tell a story, a more accurate story would be told if we were comparing the same set of students every year.  While the number may be small, there is a certain level of students who move in and move out of our District.  I had advocated for years (back under Janet Stutz) to get data crunched using the same exact cohort of students from Year 1 to Year 2 for example in Grade 3 in Year 1 and Grade 4 in Year 2 and compare it to using all students in those grades each year to see if there was a difference.  This has never happened.  Just something to keep in mind when you look at a report that compares grades over years – these are not necessarily all the same kids and a handful of move ins or outs at the top or bottom within one grade could certainly change the data when you are only talking about several hundred students. 

Next, while “quintile” data is interesting, I hope we can agree that a student consistently scoring at the 1st% ile has some different needs than a student consistently scoring at the 40th %ile (yet both are in the bottom 2 quintiles).  Similarly, a student consistently scoring at the 98th %ile has some different needs than the one consistently scoring at the 61st %ile (yet both are in the top 2 quintiles).    Also, as you know, the MAP norms are based on a National sampling of students.  I found it interesting that we often assume in D181 that we should have a higher percentage of our students scoring in the top 2 quintiles than the nation as a whole, and therefore our bell curve should be a bit skewed to the right.  In actuality, our numbers appear to be flat lined – no bell curve at all!  For example, 4th grade math by quintile low to high (number of students): 85, 85, 84, 84, 84.  You see this pretty much across all grades and all subjects on what was reported. (Throughout this letter I randomly use 4th grade math results as an example, no particular reason).

Looking at the quintile data for growth trends, please remember that making growth = maintaining achievement versus your grade level peers It does not mean you improved more than those peers. That is, if a student scores in the 50th %ile in the fall on 4th grade math (RIT 204), that student must show 8 points growth (RIT 212) to maintainthat 50th %ile. (I am using RIT/Growth data from NWEA as to Fall & Spring Math.  It comes from a lengthy Norms Report, but I would be happy to send you the PDF if you want to see it).  A student who exceeds growth target has improved his/her percentile versus his norm group peers and a student who does not meet growth target has dropped.

So, using what was presented to you Monday night, looking at our bottom quintile in 4th grade math, 69 % of 85 students who started below the 21st %ile in math (approximately 59 students) met or exceeded their growth target.  We don’t know how many met versus how many exceeded, but one category reflects maintenance and the other closing the gap, so it certainly would be nice to know.  We do know 26 students in this group ended the year at a lower  %ile ranking than they started.  I am assuming that many of the District’s Special Education students comprise this lower quintile.  If that were the case, I would certainly expect that there might be some who do not have the cognitive ability or emotional stability to show growth on this test.  Maybe that is 59 students, but I doubt it.  As a BOE I would hope the questions you are asking of your Administration is that for kids who DO have the ability to make growth, is there a process to increase the intensity of the intervention for this group because unless the growth target was EXCEEDED, the gap is not closing for these kiddos.  Whether that was because of how they scored on certain types of questions or what is going on in other Districts is totally irrelevant.    Even more so for the ones who may not have IEPs; something is missing in the educational programming for these students.

Looking at the next quintile (21st-40th %ile) 62% of the 85 students who started here made (or exceeded) growth (53 students).  The other 32 students did not maintain their %ile versus their Nationally normed peers.  I am sure this group includes many of the D181 RTI kiddos.  Hopefully something is being done to help them close the gap.  Unlike the PARCC test, the MAP is self adjusting – that is, when a student gets too many questions wrong the test starts getting easier so the final RIT score can be compared across grade levels to see at what level the student is functioning.  For example, the 4th grader at the 21st %ile with a RIT of 201 is answering questions correctly similar to those answered correctly by the average (50th %ile) 3rd grader (RIT 203), a full grade level below on skills.  Does their programming reflect this need?  Is it intensive enough to help them close that gap?  For at least 32 of them this year the answer is, “no.”

Looking at the next quintile (41st-60th %ile), these are your solidly average kids based on National norms and 63% of the 84 students who started here made (or exceeded) growth (53 students).  The other 31 students did not maintain their %ile versus their Nationally normed peers.   Again, at a BOE level, I believe that it is not only that over a third of our 4th graders did not achieve as well as the average in the nation as a whole that should be your focus, but without seeing a breakdown of meets versus exceeds it is hard to know how many actually improved their %ile.  Of those 31 who did not make growth, a telling statistic would also be how many fell into a lower quintile than they started the year with.

Looking at the next quintile (61st-80th %ile), these are high achieving kids based on National norms and of the 84 students who started here 60% made (or exceeded) growth (50 students).  The other 34 students did not maintain their %ile versus their Nationally normed peers.   The question you should be asking is why are 2/5 of some of our highest achieving kids falling behind their peers nationally?  The answer does not lie in further detailed analysis of their MAP test scores – it lies in their educational program.

Finally, looking at the top quintile (81st %ile and above).  These are our advanced learners, most of who should easily be able to not only meet growth targets, but also exceed them.  I say most because when looking at these results, bear in mind that the 99th %ile in the Fall for 4th grade math was 237 and in the Spring was 248.  The test the 4th graders took, however, has a RIT that goes up to at least 259.  This is a huge band.   I am not sure whether the 4th grader who scored a 250 in the Fall would have had a growth target of “0” because they could actually have a lower RIT in the Spring and still score in the 99th %ile.  How these students are accounted for in the reporting would be an interesting piece of information to track down.  Putting those students aside, it seems clear that when only 44% of 84 students or 37 students met growth targets allowing them to maintain standing versus their nationally normed peers that their educational needs are probably NOT being met.

Of course, MAP growth is just one data point based on two test periods.  While highly reliable and valid, particularly as we get multiple scores on the same children over the years, there will always be outliers who for some reason on that day just didn’t test up to their ability.  I personally saw this a lot this spring where I teach.  While many students take every single assessment seriously and do their best, by the time they were done with the first round of PARCC testing and just several weeks later had to take Spring MAP, there was certainly a level of lower motivation and burn out I had not seen before.  It is my opinion (no research to support this, just observation) that Fall scores for this year were more accurate because the students are “fresher.”  This is not to say I would advocate Fall to Fall growth comparisons because I think these results would be full of “noise.”  For instance, did the child spend the summer watching reruns or going to summer school?  There may have been growth/lack of growth but was it due to District Curriculum/teaching or something else?  I am glad to see there is just one round of PARCC being proposed for the end of next year, so hopefully any lack of motivation that may have been involved this year from over-assessing would not impact MAP testing next year.

Lack of motivation or not, these scores suggest that “raising the floor to raise the ceiling” isn’t working particularly well for either those at the bottom or the top.  Perhaps the saddest part of all for the top quintile students is that it has been over three years since Dr. Moon presented her findings about the weaknesses in our programming for these kids.  We have graduated three classes of 8thgraders who will not get another chance at an appropriate elementary school education, and yet still there is no defensible educational program in place for the advanced learner, gifted, or whatever you want to call them.  Dr. Stutz couldn’t do it, Dr. Russell couldn’t do it, and Dr. Schneider hasn’t done it.  I would argue that we are further failing these students than we were before the money was spent on Dr. Moon.  At least then they had a “part time solution to a full time issue.”  Now, there is no solution.  It is every school for themselves (just look at The Lane math acceleration numbers for next year versus the other schools) with no evidence that any particular approach is backed by data showing its ability to produce results.

Former BOE President Mr. Turek recently acknowledged we are still not meeting the higher performing students’ needs.  I am sure current BOE President Mrs. Garg would acknowledge this as well.   But, at the end of the day, what I think and you think and other parents think is not as important as what the data is telling us.  The data is telling us what is in place now is not working.  Of course, this is no surprise to many of us who knew there was NO research to back the current educational model for a demographic like that at D181, particularly the higher achieving students.  This should have been a red flag to the BOE a long time ago.   How much longer do these students need to wait before D 181 hires someone who has the background knowledge and experience to formulate appropriate educational programming for all students (appropriate being defined as research-supported to provide challenge and growth no matter what the student’s ability level)?

The time to hire such a person is now.  And looking at the lack of real progress with the majority of our lower quintile students in terms of closing the gap with their peers, it appears the lack of a full time dedicated head of Special Education has also had a negative impact. 
I thank you for your time and attention to this matter.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what I have written.
Jill Quinones"