Sunday, August 11, 2013

A New "Series" Introduction -- A Critical Analysis of the Superintendent and Administrators at the Helm of D181 -- Their Questionable Qualifications

As we prepare for the upcoming school year, we thought we would consider the following question: Why do we have very highly paid administrators making decisions that directly affect our children who lack sufficient qualifications to do so?  Today, we begin a Series of posts that looks at the qualifications (or lack thereof) of a number of D181’s Central Administrators. 

Why Parents, Teachers and Community Members Should be Concerned:

1. As you read this Series, remember that these district leaders -- who are making critical decisions about the culture of our district, philosophy and curriculum programs and teacher hires -- do not directly interact with the students.  They are not on the front lines; yet for the work they perform while sitting in their “protected” (by the majority of the Board of Education) ivory tower, they receive excessive compensation and benefit packages, especially when compared to the teachers and principals who have direct and immediate contact with the children; furthermore, the principals and teachers are being forced to implement the directives issued by administrators with questionable qualifications. 

2.  As will be discussed in "Part 1" of this Series, Dr. Schuster's work experience and obvious retirement plans (she double dips from her retirement in Missouri along with her more than $220,747.00 base compensation in D181) leave us with serious concerns about her ability to lead and to focus her complete attention on D181.  The Series will continue by
looking at the Central Administrators she has put in place. Other than Eric Danley, who runs the Technology Department, all of the Central Administrators were hired by Dr. Schuster since she took over three years ago. All but one of them (the Asst. Superintendent for Business) lack prior experience in the positions into which she hired or promoted them and yet they are implementing radical changes in our district.

3. Schuster has embarked on a quest (and the BOE "majority" has allowed her) to radically change the culture of D181 with no proven track record of whether the changes will be successful. She has never created, implemented, nor monitored the success of an "Advanced Learning Plan" or "Learning for All" concept within any other district in which she has worked, and neither have any of the administrators she has put in charge.

4. Schuster has removed the tiered instructional levels and now believes a classroom teacher, with minimal support from the school Differentiation Specialist and MRC teachers (who will be running around the schools from classroom to classroom), can effectively service our children. Again, she has not accomplished this anywhere else and it didn't work in D181 last year. We only need to look at the 3rd grade math and reading MAP scores as proof (See the 6/10/13 post title:  2012-2013 Year in Review:  Performance Data for the Third Grade Math "Compacting" Experiment, Click to open: 3rd Grade 2013 Spring MAP data.)  And this is still the core of Schuster's philosophy/model of instructional delivery. How long does this philosophy and experimentation on our children have to fail before someone says, "stop?"

5. Schuster believes the best use of classroom time is to pre and post test students for every lesson. As a result of the homogeneous model of learning she is promoting (which was popular back in the 1970s and 1980s) there are now more children waiting to learn across our district (even with ability groupings) because it is impossible for a classroom teacher to meet the needs of all instructional levels within a classroom. This model will continue to fail as students are not provided sufficient differentiation according to their level of need. Last year homework, for example, was not issued based on differentiated levels: all students within one class were given the same homework assignments.

6. Schuster believes in the RtI (Response to Intervention) for "all," which was absolutely meaningless and a waste of time for many parents, teachers, principals and staff last year. There is absolutely no proof that it worked, nor does the administration have any ideas or proven competency on how to make it work.

If the old saying goes, "You are only as good as your weakest link," then D181 is hanging on by a thread. Make no mistake about the leadership in our district: there are serious issues regarding the competency of our superintendent and administration. The critical analysis in this Series will uncover these issues and more. Stay tuned. . . . 

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