Anyone who attended or listened to Monday's (2/24/14) board meeting hoping to hear Dr. Moon present a progress monitoring report on the implementation of HER 2012 Report recommendations was sorely disappointed. We are not going to describe every single thing that was said, rather this post is mostly our commentary, and we hope that our readers will weigh in with their opinions. It is important for each parent and teacher to listen to the whole discussion (including parent comments) and come to their own conclusions. This portion of the meeting can be accessed at the D181 website, by going to the Board of Education "meetings' tab and then downloading the 2/24/14 podcast. The agenda item dealing with Moon begins at Time Counter 1:01:34.
The agenda item titled "Guest Presentation"was quite enlightening to us for many reasons.
First, opening public comments were not allowed. Apparently now whenever the BOE wants to exclude opening public comments that its own board policy requires be allowed immediately following the pledge of allegiance at each business meeting (click to open Policy 2:230), it simply needs to call something a "guest presentation" and schedule it ahead of any input from the community. Of course the policy doesn't allow for this, but the board doesn't seem to care that it is violating yet another one of its policies.* Public comments were only allowed following Dr. Moon's "presentation," which was clearly frustrating to all parents who had hoped Dr. Moon would be able to acknowledge or address some of their questions and concerns. She could not during her presentation, but worst yet, did not comment on any of the the parents' comments or questions raised following her "presentation."
Second, Dr. Moon did not actually give a "presentation" at all despite the administration repeatedly stating over the last year that Dr. Moon would return -- as required by her contract -- to evaluate and report to the board on the implementation of her recommendations. Dr. Moon's "presentation" actually began with a prepared speech read by Dr. Schneider. He went through an 8 slide power point trying to remind everyone of why Dr. Moon had been hired, what her recommendations were and how they are being implemented. He then turned the microphone over to Dr. Moon, and much to our dismay, she did not present a report at all. Instead, she merely explained that she was in the middle of a two day visit during which she would observe classrooms, review documents received from the administration to determine if what's in place is "aligned" to the practices called for in the Board's plan. She said she had received documents to review from the administration regarding the Board's plan, but that she was still reviewing them. She said that she was really only in attendance on Monday in order to answer questions the board members might have about the Board's plan. She stated that on Tuesday she would complete her tour of the schools and then prepare a report for the Board that would include "commendations" and "considerations"regarding the Board's plan. She stated that this report would be different than last time when she had been asked to evaluate existing programs and provide HER recommendations on changes that were needed, but this time her only job was to determine if the Board's plan was being successfully implemented, not whether her recommendations were being implemented. Dr. Moon made some brief observations regarding seeing some differentiation in the classrooms, saying she had seen tremendous amount of growth during her classroom observations, but did really elaborate. She did not specify what any of her final conclusions --- positive or negative might be. She did not say when her written report would be ready and submitted to the BOE.
What was disclosed during the meeting was that after Monday night, the progress monitoring would transition from Dr. Moon to Dr. Reva Friedman, a colleague of Dr. Schneider hired in 2013 to serve as a gifted consultant to D181, but who apparently had never visited D181 until Monday. Dr. Friedman is not a colleague of Dr. Moon's from the University of Virginia. She works at the University of Kansas. She was not part of the team that submitted a Request for Proposal to the BOE in 2011 and who were selected after careful consideration of their credentials and proposal when compared to proposals submitted by other educators. Dr Friedman did not accompany Dr. Moon in 2012 when Dr. Moon spent several days in the district observing classrooms and preparing a written report for the Board. She was not present when Dr. Moon gave her report to the Board in January 2012. Instead, Dr. Friedman was handpicked by Dr. Schneider to collaborate -- apparently "for free" - -during the time period when the administration was developing the Advanced Learning Plan/Learning for All Plan. Dr Friedman was subsequently hired in 2013 to serve as a "gifted consultant" to D181 but despite her contract specifying past dates in 2013 and 2014 when she should have been on site, Monday's was her first visit to D181. She accompanied Dr. Moon to the classroom observations on Monday, but was silent during the entire "presentation" to the BOE on Monday night.
So we find it very curious to learn during the meeting that following Dr. Moon's 2/24 "presentation" and written report, all work related to monitoring and advising on the implementation of the Learning for All Plan is going to be "transitioned" to Dr. Friedman. It appears that D181 will never hear from Dr. Moon again. In response to Board Member Heneghan's question as to why this was happening, Dr. Schuster quickly jumped in and represented that Dr. Moon would no longer be available.
We just don't get it. After paying Dr. Moon nearly $56,000, suddenly the well has run dry? Suddenly she is no longer available, but Dr. Schneider's handpicked choice is? How can that be? Well the answer may lie in what we learned from the her responses to board member questions. These answers made it abundantly clear that she is washing her hands of D181. And the reason may be because the Board's plan, as she kept referring to it, did not implement her recommendations and is not a plan she can support. We will have to wait and read what her "commendations" and "considerations" are when she finally submits the written report to the board, but one thing is for sure, no one will be able to ask her questions about what she puts in the report because SHE IS NOT COMING BACK. Not one board member suggested that she be paid to return to present her findings and conclusions to the board and to be available to answer their questions in a public setting where the parents and teachers whose students are being impacted by the Board's plan can hear the discussion. In our opinion, this just doesn't make sense, and it doesn't seem logical or right!
So let's look at exactly what we did learn from Dr. Moon on Monday night. She really did not make any substantive comments before addressing the board's questions, but even when those began, Dr. Moon said that there were some she could not answer because they were outside her area of expertise. Some she said she could not answer because her observations were not yet concluded. Some she answered in a very generic, non-D181 specific way. However, several themes or pieces of information did emerge from the Q&A session with the Board.
1. Her role in returning to the district was NOT to determine if the district was successfully implementing the recommendations she made in her 2012 report. Her role was to observe classrooms, review data (which she admitted she had not yet reviewed) and determine if what is currently in place in D181 "aligns" with the practices that the Board's plan called for.
2. The Advanced Learning Plan/Learning for All Plan is the "Board's Plan," NOT HERS.
3. She did not state that the Board's plan was implementing her recommendations; in fact in our opinion, her answers made it clear that the Board's plan had cherry picked which of her recommendations to incorporate.
4. It also became clear that she had NOT recommended that D181 implement a math acceleration for ALL program, nor did she necessarily think it is appropriate for ALL students.
5. The Board's plan has never been implemented in any other district.
6. She did point out that in order for the radical changes the Board's plan -- including math acceleration for all -- is trying to implement to be successful, the teachers should have and must continue to receive appropriate professional development.
7. The Board's plan may take 7 years to implement successfully.
We will say that we were quite pleased that all 7 board members asked thoughtful questions. Several of them acknowledged parent concerns regarding possible harm to students as a result of the math acceleration for all model. Board member Nelson -- WHO ACTUALLY WAS PHYSICALLY PRESENT -- pointed out that he wants to know if the plan currently in place is "ultimately hurting" any of our students and did it "go too far."
Those were GREAT questions Mr. Nelson, and we sincerely hope that Dr. Moon's final report will directly answer them and provide the basis for her answer.
Following the Board's questions, public comment was allowed. As the comments posted since Monday night show, many parents spoke and all comments made regarding the plan were NEGATIVE. No one stepped up and said the Learning for All Plan was working. Parents reminded the Board and explained to Dr. Moon how their children are being harmed. Again, you should all listen to the parents' comments, as they were very difficult to hear, realizing that the Board's Plan, which was not Dr. Moon's plan, has had direct negative effects on students, regardless of the administration's continued insistence that its data -- mostly NWEA MAP data -- shows otherwise.
Parent Matt Bousquette's public comment was in line with our reflections of what we learned from Dr. Moon. In his words, she's tossed the ball back over to the Board and now it will be the Board's responsibility to figure out if the Learning for All Plan can continue in its current form without modification. He pointed out that it is not Dr. Moon's responsibility to fix the problems, it is the Board's responsibility. He emphasized that the current plan IS hurting students.
So several questions remain. WHAT IS THE BOARD going to do to address the concerns and problems that have resulted from implementation of the Board's plan? As another parent asked during public comment, WHEN is the board going to address these issues publicly and engage with each other to decide how to deal with them? HOW, if at all, will the Learning for All Plan be modified?
Time is of the essence. Children are hurting. Everyone see it. Board members finally acknowledged that this concern exists. The issue cannot be ignored and must be dealt with immediately. Each day that passes without board action is another day that the board is ignoring it's obligations and responsibilities to provide the best learning environment to ALL children and ensure that NO CHILD is left behind or hurt!
We hope to see a Board discussion and action plan addressed at the next board meeting.
* Remember, the board is currently in violation of Policy 5:222 titled Tutors, which prohibits teachers from receiving compensation for tutoring their own students in the subject in which they examine them.
The policy states: "