Sunday, January 12, 2014

Next BOE Meeting Agenda Light on Details, Heavy on Spin

After reviewing the upcoming Board of Education Agenda for the January 13th Committee of the Whole Meeting to be held at Monroe School at 7pm, we were struck by the obvious simplicity of the meeting agenda. We are concerned; this meeting is important because of the Facilities Presentation and what it means for our district moving forward with issues like curriculum direction, technology, enrollment and space considerations, etc. Given the issues our district is facing, we are wondering why the following items did not appear on the agenda?
  1. Given the sweeping changes the Learning for All Plan has had on the district since fall 2012, where is the status report showing how the administration is monitoring differentiation and the effectiveness of instructional programs like Reading Fundamentals and Words Their Way?
  2. Dr. Moon’s return visit to observe suggested and administrative directed district changes is not mentioned. Why? When is she returning to follow up on her report? Dr. Schuster mentioned Dr. Moon would be returning at the end of January; why is there no mention of her and her role in presenting her findings to the board?
  3. How is the math curriculum progressing in the middle and elementary schools? Where is a comprehensive mid-year report showing how the changes to the math program are working?
There are other issues to consider, of course, but we thought we would raise these for our readers at this time. As we have stated previously; we just don’t understand how BOE members can sit back and not push the administration for more detailed information. Why do they appear to be afraid to hold Schuster accountable?


Anonymous said...

These are extremely valid points and should be addressed, but nothing will change unless parents demand it. So if you're a parent who wants answers to these questions, as well as others, then attend the board meeting tomorrow night. Make your concerns known to the board members. Stop being afraid and take a stand. Your children learn by example. If your child is struggling b/c of the sweeping changes in the curriculum, if your child is not being challenged now b/c the gifted program is nonexistent, if you simply want grade level instruction, or whatever it is that is affecting your child, GET IN FRONT OF THE BOARD!! You pay taxes to support these schools, you elected this board, this board answers to you. If you aren't going to do anything about the situation to help your child, then don't complain about it.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the previous post. I have been to almost every board meeting this year, but I can count on one hand the number of other parents who bother to show up. I have been told that my voice is a fringe one, because no one else shows up. I wouldn't mind a little company tonight (7pm Monroe School).

Anonymous said...

The Board meetings used to be better attended. Parents have figured out that their presence makes no difference to the BOE or the administration. It's difficult to be away from your family on school nights and many parents believe it's pointless to make the effort unless they know it is really important and that their presence will make a difference. Truly, the majority of BOE members aren't interested in facts about the classroom experience or what parents have to say. It's obvious that only 2 members even come prepared for the meetings and make the effort (yes, it's significant)to ask substantive questions. Most of the members haven't bothered to research the issues enough even to be able to ask the non-softball questions. That's why they don't. They are afraid of looking uninformed (which they are) or being unable to deal with follow-up questions or comments (which they can't). As many commenters have said before, parents are finding it easier to supplement/help at home than to beat their heads against the brick wall that is our Board of Education. It's unfortunate but true. I'm counting the years until my children get to the high school.

Anonymous said...

Last night, after hearing the mold issues that the teachers and children are facing at HMS, it is a wonder that even the most complacent parents are not angry. My 5th grader has asthma. Exposing him to mold will be medically dangerous to him, as well as other children with medical problems. What is the school going to DO about this, and how will the parents know it has actually been done? We obviously can not trust Nelson, Schuster, and Turek to tell the truth. The fact that yet another parent pointed out Dr. Schuster's was than truthful behavior last night (regarding the math program) leads us to the logical conclusion that she is not to be trusted.
Even though Dr. Schuster didn't "smell anything", we parents can smell her BS from a mile away.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone listen to last night's board meeting and Dr. Schuster trying to explain why the taxpayers are paying teachers to tutor 4th graders on 4th grade curriculum they should be learning in school but instead are struggling to learn 5th grade material in school and not realize something is very wrong with this picture. Marty was right when he said teachers should be doing this as part of their job. We don't hear them complaining about this plan, so we must assume they support it. Then it is their job to teach the children, and if that means staying after school to help them, they should be doing that without additional taxpayer dollars. I also appreciated Jill's comments that this practice is totally against policy. Doesn't anyone see how unethical it is to pay teachers after school to teach what they should be teaching during school?

Between this math disaster and now the disaster at HMS that has been completely ignored by this administration, I can only smile that my child attends CHMS. Good luck if you think any of us are going to support a referendum to clean up this mess. I don't see our tax dollars being used wisely now. The last thing I would do is give this administration more money to waste.

Speaking of our tax dollars, has anyone paid attention to how much more this Learning for All plan has cost us? How many staff have been added above the differentiation specialist we already had? Didn't Dr. Schuster tell the board before all this began it would not cost any more money? People were complaining about the dollars spent on gifted programs. Now we are spending even more on additional staff with no idea if it is helping. Shouldn't good educational leaders and business professionals demand and expect some evidence of results for all this money? I hope this board follows the high school board's lead and next year votes for a flat levy. This district has too much money and no one is minding the store.

Anonymous said...

Along the lines of not using our tax dollars wisely, I was appalled to learn that this district has not contacted the contractor who performed the roof work at HMS this summer to determine if the recent roof leaks are covered under warranty. A board member had to ask the administration to do this, and cautioned that if they did not do it ASAP the warranties may lapse. There is something seriously wrong with the judgement of this administration, but we are not supposed to question them because they are the "experts."

We found out during public comments that staff and students are suffering serious health problems at HMS, and these health concerns are not new. Mold and moisture is rampant in the building. A high level administrator, however, entered the building and proclaimed that there was not mold because they would have smelled it.

I was also shocked to learn that at the recent TASH social justice conference our administrators got up and proclaimed that this district's Learning for All plan is based on the non negotiable principals of inclusive schooling from Capper & Frattura. What!??! Seriously!??! Schenider needs to take his social justice load of you know what and exit the building STAT.

We also learned that this district has a new gifted consultant - one that the board never approved - and one that was a presenter at the recent TASH social justice conference.

Finally, we are paying teachers to tutor fourth grade students who are performing at grade level in math but who are failing at the 5th grade acceleration - instead of just allowing them to learn fourth grade math (the grade they are in).

Parents - wake up and get mad. I know it can be frustrating, but the stakes are too high to sit back and do nothing.

Dr. Moon will be at the next board meeting. EVERYONE needs to show up, and EVERYONE needs to speak up during public comments.

Anonymous said...

In addition to all the previous comments, which I do agree with except the CHMS parent who seems to take pleasure in the disaster at HMS, please also note that Dr. Schuster was not even in the District last week when the crisis occurred at HMS, noted by this blog. She was "stranded" Monday and Tuesday by the "polar vortex" and unable to be here to make the call to call off school. She showed up Wednesday and then left on vacation again until Monday am, after two weeks of holiday vacation. What CEO of ANY OPERATION takes two weeks of vacation and THEN takes more vacation time the week after???? Even if vacation is planned, when there is a crisis situation, as there was at HMS, what CEO wouldn't NOT GO ON VACATION and instead stay and manage the crisis and NOT leave it to second tier managers to react to the emergency????? And, this is not the first time Dr. Schuster has taken more vacation time immediately after the two week holiday vacation!!!
THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! On top of all the issues listed, to have a superintendent that demonstrates this lack of responsibility in a crisis situation is grounds for termination!!! Please ALL PARENTS and COMMUNITY MEMBERS demand that Dr. Schuster's contract NOT BE EXTENDED!!! Also, get to the BOE meetings and show your outrage over all these circumstances NOW!! Everyone comes to this community to educate their children. Do not just sit there and expect things to be perfect. THEY AREN"T! Demonstrate to your children that when hired administrators and elected officials DO NOT do the right thing and follow what the community desires that you as their parent and a member of the community will take action! My children went through D181 back in the day when the district was truly "a lighthouse district." That was decades ago. Please parents and community members get your acts together and start looking for individuals to run in the future BOE election who are dedicated, responsible, intelligent people who care about our students. There is a huge need for someone knowledgable in the area of education to be on the BOE. That person could then call out the administrators on this bs of "Learning for All" and so much more. Please go to the BOE meeting when Dr. Moon will be in attendance. Please also note that Dr. Moon will NOT be available to speak with parents when she is in the district…only administrators, BOE members and possibly teachers when she is observing in the district. This is outrageous!!! Who is paying Dr. Moon for her "expert knowledge"…YOU ARE! Plus, there is another "gifted specialist" coming…but, D181 doesn't have a gifted program anymore…it's Learning for All!!!! Please, don't just sit back and think your students are getting the education they should. Attend the BOE meeting! Also, don't be surprised when the lawsuits start rolling in over the HMS crisis. Believe me, Dr. Schuster will be long gone when those settlements occur.

Anonymous said...

Yes - Schuster and Schneider will be long gone, but we will be paying higher taxes to correct their errors (and pay for their vacation/conference time) for years to come. Now we will get to pay for rehab for HMS twice, too. If she wasn't even monitoring the curriculum, why would Dr. Schuster be monitoring the rehab work at HMS?