Sunday, September 28, 2014

Has Insanity Returned to D181?

As the blogger administrators, we have been following the comments posted by community members over the last two weeks regarding the math pilots, learning committee, the apparent dismantlement of the Learning for All Plan "acceleration for all" model and the "raise the floor to raise the ceiling" mantra that was previously preached by Dr. Schneider,  and his promotion to run the Department of Learning.

We will continue posting comments, but we are sufficiently concerned with the state of affairs in D181 that we feel compelled to publish, as a free standing post, the following comment we received this afternoon.  Please sound off if you agree or disagree with the content.  We are very troubled by the implications of this comment and fear that D181 has not "turned the corner" from the darkness that blanketed it under the Schuster/Schneider administration.......


"Insanity-doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

For 2 years the administration used an inclusive philosophy to compact/accelerate students a grade level ahead in math. It was a complete failure for our now 5th graders. Students were kept at the same pace-one grade level ahead. Beginning in 3rd grade (for our now 5th graders) every 3rd grader was taught 2 years of math in 1 calendar year. The term “taught” is used loosely b/c newsflash, most children are not capable of this in the first place, but I digress..... Teachers struggled to meet the needs of learners who were grade level and below. Teachers struggled to meet the needs of students who needed to move faster. Students in the middle didn’t get what they deserved because the teachers were pulled in too many different directions. Students suffered from a self-esteem standpoint. Parents were livid. The district ended up paying teachers to tutor students ON GRADE LEVEL after school so they could learn a grade level ahead during school.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

High School District 86 Concerns

We have been asked to begin a post on what is happening at the high school district, D86. As you may be aware, the teachers' contract expired on June 30, 2014 and the school board has not settled a new contract with the HHSTA -- teachers' association. Parents, students, teachers and community members are very concerned about the current situation and the behavior of the Board majority.

We have begun receiving comments on what is happening in D86 and have been asked to set up this free-standing post. Because what happens in D86 impacts all of our property values and will impact current D181/future D86 students, we agree that a free standing post on this is appropriate.

Below are the first four comments we have received on this topic. We invite our readers to sound off on D86.

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

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:

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):

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.

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.


Don White, Ph.D.