Thursday, February 6, 2014

She Knows Not What Her Nose Doesn’t Know; The Peril of Schuster’s “Leadership” on Our Children and Teachers, and the Prowess Needed by the Community

If the information we have been provided is accurate, that Superintendent Renee Schuster sat on a plane in route to Chicago from her retirement home in Arizona on Monday, January 20, we wonder what was going through her mind? After all, Hinsdale Middle School was now in the throws of massive disarray and cleanup from a busted pipe that resulted in extensive damage and flooding and the school closing on January 17, after the discovery of mold. To discuss the status action plan, the Board of Education was holding an emergency meeting that evening, which meant Schuster would have to head to HMS prior to the meeting to inspect the damage herself. 

According to multiple sources that have contacted the bloggers, Schuster did show up at HMS briefly during the afternoon, long enough to make a quick inspection before heading to the administrative offices at Elm School just several hours before the board meeting. Surprisingly, this is not the only time Schuster had been absent from the district, as it is well known by teachers and staff that she frequently enjoys long weekends, which results in an actual three-four day work week at the D181 central office. This was especially the case last December. In fact, after taking two weeks of vacation during the holiday break, she then left town again during the exact days the pipe had burst at HMS and several thereafter. This is simply not acceptable to parents, teachers and children of this district; we expect more from the individual in charge of D181 and more of a commitment than just phoning it in or emailing updates from a distance as a semi-retired employee.

Yes, unfortunately, the fact that Schuster can rest her laurels on her current Missouri pension affords her, in our opinion, a feeling of fierce empowerment, which has been displayed and used in settings/meetings with various district parents who have complained about the effects of the Learning for All Plan (renamed from the Advanced Learning Plan) on their children. In addition, we have now witnessed first hand her “leadership” skills in the time of crisis, that being the HMS flooding and mold situation, wherein she largely depended on her administrators Kevin Russell, Doug Eccarius, 
Gary Frisch, and Principal Pena. Questions that were asked of Schuster during board meetings were deflected from her to her staff because it was obvious she did not have the answers. Even more startling to us is the fact that Gary Clarin, according to our sources, spent many more hours at HMS during the clean up phase than Dr. Schuster, and was instrumental in providing more information and status summaries at the board meetings, than she was. While we applaud his efforts in trying to assist with the clean up, we have to ask why Mr. Clarin thought that Schuster should spend so much time away from HMS, as it was widely known she spent little time observing the work and participating in walk throughs with staff and board members. Why is this acceptable to him? We believe being visible and active monitoring of an emergency situation is the role of a superintendent when a building is in crisis. She is accountable, ultimately, for the safety and well being of the teachers and children of this district. And this responsibility, for which she is highly paid (see sidebar Page of the administrative salary chart), she cannot phone in or email from afar. Period. Where is the accountability promised by President Marty Turek?

So, given that students have finally returned 
to HMS this week and the crisis will eventually subside, we thought we would offer a brief summary of, in our opinion, the blatant weak-kneed/ineffective leadership we have witnessed by Renee Schuster and members of the BOE regarding the HMS crisis and curriculum/administrative issues:

  1. "I have a sensitive nose and can smell mold." These are the words of Dr. Schuster upon her visit to an HMS classroom prior to mold actually being detected. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but our BOE is aware of this statement, as are HMS teachers, and we have yet to hear of any doors being closed permanently behind Schuster as she exists her office for the last time. Are these elected officials serious? How can Turek, Nelson, and Clarin continue to blindly support an employee who actually believes her nose can detect mold? Something is truly wrong here. By the way, we had a previous superintendent (Tenbush) who lasted all of 10 months and we believe he was shown the door after he was overheard making a statement that was inappropriate and an embarrassment to the district. Schuster’s statement falls into this category.
  2. The HMS updates from Schuster have been a lesson in cryptic writing. On the days updates were provided, the information was sanitized with moving target dates. Remember, Board Member Clarin directed Schuster to provide daily updates because she had not done so on her own. Most recently, parents were told HMS would be back in session on Monday, Feb 3, which was changed to Tuesday, Feb 4. Even more suspect was her communication on Monday night regarding the re-opening of HMS and the discovery of mold that was still present within certain classrooms and supposedly cleaned just before the open house. This is acceptable to the majority of the board?
  3. It is now widely known that teachers, students and parents had been complaining about HMS being a sick building for years. Since Schuster’s contract with D181 started in 2010, why didn’t she show some proactive leadership by evaluating the status of the building (and the portables outside, which were meant to be temporary) and determine there were major building issues that should be addressed? She did no such thing. Teachers and students complained and their calls went unanswered. This is effective leadership, Mr. Turek?
  4. The Departments of Learning and Pupil Services have been silent for months. Where are the public updates at board meetings? Shouldn’t the Schuster hand-picked, highly paid administrative foot soldiers (Russell, Schneider, Benaitis and Igoe) be on their feet giving presentations with data to support the massive programming changes for Learning for All? Mr. Turek, where are the accountability measures by the BOE
  5. The Winter MAP test was given to students in January. Were scores and updates communicated to parents? According to our multiple sources, this information was not explained to parents, nor were data summaries provided at board meetings. 
  6. Perhaps the most profound example of Schuster’s lack of leadership is reflected in the massive cultural shift from identification and ability grouping to the one-size-fits-all philosophy of Learning for All. And just so we are all on the same page, we bloggers would like to provide the summary below so we all recognize the under performance of our district when compared to affluent North Shore District 112 (data was submitted anonymously by a community member). Remember, the Learning for All Social Justice Experiment began more than one year ago in all grades, but especially third grade with math compacting and acceleration, during the Fall of 2012:  
THIRD GRADE: Growth refers to percentage of students that "met" their growth targets.
2012-2013 Math growth:  48.8
2011-2012 Math growth:  55.0

2012-2013 Reading growth:  54.8
2011-2012 Reading growth:  65.0

2012-2013 Math growth:  80.0 -- (the gifted/differentiation specialist co-taught math for the third grade and was constantly in the classroom; shouldn’t this additional cost be provided to all schools, even though Schuster clearly told the board this philosophy change would not cost any more dollars?)
2011-2012 Math growth:  69.6

2012-2013 Reading growth:  75.6 (We are aware that many students are now tutored privately at home.)
2011-2012 Reading growth:  58.7

2012-2013 Math growth:  38.6
2011-2012 Math growth:  44.3

2012-2013 Reading growth:  44.6
2011-2012 Reading growth:  41.0

2012-2013 Math growth:  33.8
2011-2012 Math growth: 57.5

2012-2013 Reading growth:  37.5
2011-2012 Reading growth:  45.9

2012-2013 Math growth: 49.4
2011-2012 Math growth:  63.2

2012-2013 Reading growth:  55.8
2011-2012 Reading growth:  64.7

2012-2013 Math growth:  60.0
2011-2012 Math growth:  46.8

2012-2013 Reading growth: 45.7
2011-2012 Reading growth: 44.7

2012-2013 Math growth:  40.0
2011-2012 Math growth:  53.8

2012-2013 Reading growth: 45.0
2011-2012 Reading growth: 43.1

MAP Results for Third Grade in Several North Shore District 112 schools:
(2011-2012 unavailable)

Oak Terrace:
 2012-2013 Math growth: 86.1
 2012-2013 Reading growth: 76.1

 2012-2013 Math growth: 75.7
 2012-2013 Reading growth: 81.1

Red Oak:
 2012-2013 Math growth: 73.5
 2012-2013 Reading growth: 62.9

Ok, folks; it’s painfully obvious to see that even with one of North Shore  District 112 lower performing schools, their percentage of students meeting growth targets on MAP are higher than those of all of our schools with the exception of Oak. So the question is: What are Schuster and her underlings doing to enhance the learning for our children? Our answer: not much, if anything, as we don’t see evidence of improved curriculum or an improved learning experience for our own children in the district. Even more startling is the fact that Schuster was reluctant to agree that our children should meet a growth index of just 50, as was demonstrated in one of last year’s board discussions. This is accountability, Mr. Turek? Are you satisfied with these numbers? You shouldn’t be.

It has become clear to us after witnessing Schuster’s absenteeism and her careless disregard for the health, well-being, and educational experience for our children, that we have a serious problem. The BOE should be addressing these concerns. They owe it to the teachers, children and parents. The community must be vigilant and actively voice their concerns by writing or speaking to the BOE before the rest of the school year sails by and the results don’t measure up, as we predict will be the case.

Bottom line: Schuster believes she knows what is best for our district, but the HMS mold crisis and student performance data suggest otherwise. There is nothing more dangerous than a person in charge of our children who thinks she knows all and what is best, when in reality she clearly knows, not.


jay_wick said...

Yet another trifling attempt to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

Newsflash -- people can and do run global enterprises without ever leaving their bedroom. You don't have to be Howard Hughes to realize that a well staffed organization can function extremely well with little hands on direction from its top executive officer. In this age of 24x7 connectivity one can "see" the same things over a web camera as they can by being present at a facility.

Let me be clear -- I mock the ridiculous reactionary nonsense of the mysterious host of this blog and wish that they would cease their shameful smear tactics! Nothing positive can be achieved for student achievement, health and well being of students or staff, or overall community enhancement when starting from this hostile position of yellow journalism.

When it comes to comparisons with other school district I have said before and I will reiterate that by any objective measure there is not another district that has so many students in so many schools performing as well as D181.

Find the schools from Highland Park D112 on this list and then compare the the presence of D181 schools -- Illinois Honor Roll Academic Excellence Awards Notice what is missing from Highland Park? Their middle schools. I would suggest that any parent that understands the importance of success at that level would easily choose HMS or CHMS over Edgewood MS or Northwoods
MS... (lest the hosts of this blog or other smarty pants point out the tenure of D181 current administration here is other grist to chew regarding D112 --

Now whose facts point to the district you want to live in?)

Finally, based not just on Dr. Ginsburg's excellent presentation last night but also general wisdom, I can firmly state that any parent that can only see the negatives in a situation is the last person that I would want providing input to those who direct my childrens' learning.

The Parents said...

We have said it before and we will say it again, everyone who reads this blog -- all 100,000 of them as of this morning -- are entitled to their personal opinion. Anyone who doesn't like our blog is certainly entitled to write their own blog, Including Mr. Wick. Based upon "clues" he has left on his posts, we are confidant that we know his real name, but unless he wants to disclose it to everyone, his secret identity is safe with us. We agree that he has spoken out before, but are quite surprised that he now feels Dr. Schuster can behave like a corporate CEO who works via the web and delegates everything. This is not a private organization, nor is the top well staffed with expert, experienced professionals. With the exception of Mr. Frisch, they are all first timers to their positions, learning on the job. Even Dr.Schneider who is well experienced in Special Ed, is now the mastermind behind the general curriculum, co-leading the Dept. Of Learning. This concerns us because of what we have witnessed to be the negative impact on many of theD181students, especially those in 3rd and 4th grades. Mr. Wick can continue to bash us, as have, as we suspect, some of the anonymous "board member" and "administrator" commentors, but we will continue asserting our freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with the first post. You mentioned that "so many students peforming well..
My child is performing barely at grade level for reading. I've seen no evidence of any work that would help him improve. This curriculum is now the same for everyone-wouldn'tt it make sense that the poorest reader, the struggling ones should actually have more homework/different homework? Not the case here.

Our teachers and staff I believe are paid higher than many, many districts because they were delivering a better product. Not now. So maybe those salaries need to be adjusted because this curriculum is changing our district, making us more similiar to the other not so great districts.

jay_wick said...

My critiiscm will not cease while your trivial and unproductive attacks upon D181 end..

I have no desire to try to overcome your "first mover" advantage in the blog space.

While freedom of the press is something that all people should cherish so too should we expect honesty and forthrightness from those who claim to want increased awareness of legitimate issues.

Petty and vindictive accusations thrown out from behind a hiding place will not encourage the kinds of discussions that should be guiding the direction of the district.

Again my objections to the tone and manner by which this blog seeks to build readership (oh btw the page view counter is just that, a counter, it is not recording unique users and anytime the same user refreshes the page that increments the counter so don't kid yourself, very few people really visit this rag...) is the reason I post. I have no special admiration of our current superintendent. That said I know that a nationwide search was undertaken to fill that important position and short of any wondrous revelations I do not believe any other candidate would have much shown more talent in dealing with either any crisis the facilities faced nor is herding the wild cats that simultaneously want their offspring to be praises, challenged and coddled against all contradictory evidence of their needs / strengths.

The biggest impediment to moving the district forward in a positive direction is the constant whining that squeaky wheels continue to make.

The best way to get the district back on track is not to dump the current adminstrators. Such a move would only cause more rudderlessness at a time when the pressures of not just mandated changes like Common Core but locally initiated changes like math acceleration and heterogenous groupings are causing even the most caring parents to express frustration. Those who would cut off their nose to spite their face surely will be screaming the loudest when some ancient interim superintendent comes out of retirement and tries to muddle his way through meetings while collecting $30k a week...

I would ask that the those who really care about the education of their children and the direction of the district judge the heinously picayune attacks this blog levels against the administration -- are these things that really will help improve performance?

Please, show that we can work together with teachers and district staff and make sound recommendations that will slowly address the shortcoming in where we are.

Anonymous said...

So far the only person I see full of negatives is jay wick. He can not stop bashing the blog. And is is all based on opinion, not fact. He has not responded to any of the valid points we have asked him, just as the administration does. Why should we read what he has to say we he is not listening to or understanding what we have all said?

He sounds like a ranting lunatic. And by the way, the population of Highland Park is much more economically and linguistically diverse than that of D181. Check out the Illinois School Report Cards from 2013. It has real data in in and is not an award based only on subjective data like the awards you are mentioning.

Obviously he did not understand mostof the take home messages from Dr. Ginsberg yesterday. The speaker encouraged us to raise children who question the status quo. We wants us to raise confident children are not afraid to ask questions and stand up for themselves when they are not being treated fairly. And to reject people who manipulate or use them.

He pointed out how self centered, egotistical thinkers, such as yourself, are not sensitive to the needs of children. Those of us who are sensitive to the needs of children and are trying to help our schools step up and speak up. Not simply to bash and ridicule, but to create a positve change. People, like D181 and jay wick, who cannot tolerate constructive criticism, are not the type of children that Dr. Ginsberg wants us to raise.

Jay wick is full of criticism, but none of it is constructive. He ridicules, but has nothing positve to say about anyone or anything on this site other than his friend Mr. Joyce. The only idea jay wick suggests is that we all be quiet and stop speaking up against what is clearly wrong in our schools, and, that we should run for the board. Yet, he then tells us that the board is the sole cause of all of the problems.

Jay wick is not very helpful or logical, and , as expected, took home his own faulty version what Dr. Ginsberg was saying.

Frustrated Parent said...

I think it is important to keep the focus on the issues and not on those who are expressing their opinions. The real question is what is the reason our district has such high performance? Is it due to exceptional leadership, highly experienced administrators, dedicated teachers? I believe the reality is we give this district an amazing resource to work with by providing children who live very enriched lives and come to school eager to learn and already ahead of the curve. For my tax dollars, I want to understand what the district is giving my child above what I am already doing. The test scores are high because my child comes to school already knowing much of what she is being taught. I would like to see the district share what they are doing to challenge all children and how they are truly measuring this effort. So far I have seen little evidence that they are providing my child with anything more than a social experiment. We all need to be asking what value the district is adding to our child's education. The highly-paid district administrators should be sharing these data with all of us. This would make us more confident in the changes they are supporting, and it could defuse much of the concerns expressed on this blog. Public officials should be expected to use my tax dollars wisely and make sure I understand and can support what they are doing. I am afraid as things are now, I only see confusion with my child, and a lot of time I need to put in to fill the holes and make sure she is progressing as I know she should be. That responsibility should not be falling to me, but like most parents in this community, I will not let my child get behind. Life is too competitive to not keep pace. And believe me, I can support the ideas behind "Race to Nowhere," but I would at least like to see a brisk walk to somewhere....

Anonymous said...

So someone with a blog handle of jay wick is not "mysterious" but the bloggers are? How hypocritical. How funny that he doesn't even read the data clearly presented, and instead, posts his own data and wants us to read his.

Jay wick, if you are so against mysterious things, why don't you post your real name? We don't want any more scavenger hunt clues. These are our children's lives and our wasted property taxes you are playing with. You are protecting paid, ineffective administrators at the expense of our children. This is not a game for us.

jay_wick said...

Firstly lets all point at the big ol' dunderhead that does not know that the Illinois State Board of Education site that I linked to is using the objective data that they are fussing about because that is how the Honor Roll is calculated. Nothing subjective about the ISATs! If I was Nelson Muntz I would point at you and laugh but instead I will just use this as yet another example of the low quality that anonymous posts foster...

Secondly I don't think Dr. GInsburg really "wants" us to raise ouir kids any particular way, he is physician and scholar with insights that many caring parents find useful.

This blog clearly is not about inquiry or learning.
It is about pettiness, axe-grinding and venting and whole lot of negativitiy. Classics of the junk one find on the web and very much the kind of bullying that happens when folks can hide their identity. That is not what interests most folks in town but is surely does rack up the page views.

If folks want to find out who runs this blog post your ideas here: Unmask We can take that game to a platfrom that requires real idenities...

I don't care to "protect" anyone but I strongly believe that when attacks are leveled against a public body the attackers ought to be clear about what they hope to achieve. In my view, continued efforts to exaggerate the shortcomings of district staff will lead to a more chaotic environment in the district schools, uncertainity among potential residents and continued declines in the success of our communities.

Those who care to note the pattern of my posts should see that is not only Mr. Joyce whose posts I responded to respectfully, but also those o Mr/Ms Cajun,f Dr. Norton and Ms. Mayer. To be clear, I don't need to agree with every one of their points but I do respect their honestly and courage, something that I cannot say for the hosts of this blog and its many anonymous posters...

So far the only thing I see in posts by this blog's owner are attempts to focus on minutia.

Anonymous and proud of it said...

Mr. Wick:

We all get it - you do not like that the posters post anonymously. You have said this many times, even though you yourself are anonymous because we do not know who you are only your blog id. What you lose sight of is that this blog is not about the posters or the bloggers - it is about the issues that affect the education and health of our children. You may not agree with the opinions of those that post on this blog. That is fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. You have stated yours loud and clear. We all know where you stand. But at a certain point you need to stop reading this blog if you are so adamant against it. Or start your own blog. I am not against alternative view points, but your only purpose seems to be to bash and detract from the issues. It is not productive.

You seem upset that people do not post their names. There is a reason for this. This administration is vindictive. You may think we are paranoid - that's fine - but the rest of us have seen it first hand. Those of us who speak up are subjected to public ridicule, our kids do not get the star teacher, services are a little harder to come by, ect. Our children are the ones who suffer - not us - so we do not post our name. You may think we are paranoid, and you are entitled to that opinion.

You many think subcommittees are the answer. However, if you have a self serving, ineffective leadership like we have, they are useless. I suggest you listen to the fall podcasts of BOE meetings that dealt with a subcommittee that was established to come up with school standards. The parent on that committee was publicly ridiculed and his input was ignored and misrepresented.

You think change in leadership is not the answer. It sounds like you fear change. At Monroe, there have been 4 principals in 7 years. However, we are so much better off with Mr. Horne than with Ms. Benaitis. The disruption in leadership was worth it because our previous leader was not capable of leading effectively. And that is the problem with this district. Our current leaders are self serving, secretive, and not effective. So yes, they must go. And, in my humble opinion, so must you.

Anonymous said...

Frustrated Parent-I thought your post was excellent.
We should focus on the issues and let the BOE know what questions we want answered. Specifically, what is D181 doing above and beyond curriculum wise to help, grow, stretch our children's minds. Also, what data supports the choices that have been made. We are hungry for this information and want to hear the thought processes, and proof for the choices.

Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree that the current administration is not the problem. The current leadership is the source of the problem and unless changed will continue down this turbulent path. There is enough turbulence in the country with Common Core but they have not allowed the teachers to focus on Common Core. Yes we have many high ability students but it's not all of them. Our children are not meant to do tricks to help them prove inclusive education or the next research project works in our district. Since we don't want our kids to loose another year, we are helping them at home, tutoring them, etc. But in the end the administration will use our efforts to celebrate their success. It is quite disheartening. I agree that the past board and some of the existing board members turn a blind eye to the problems and want us to wait this mess out. Yes it is a mess. You can sugar coat it and make it seem that it's still okay since our kids are still doing well. We didn't put our children in the district just to help the schools do well. We put them in there to be challenged at the appropriate level. I appreciate the fact that I can decide if I want to comment on the "rag".

Anonymous said...

Just like you were confused," Dunderhead/jay wick", about how much of our property taxes went to D181, again, you are confused about the selection criteria for those awards you mentioned. Thank goodness people are sending in the real facts.

I copied these directly from the ISBE LINK that you posted. Too bad you did not look at the selection criteria posted and understand the implications of it. You can see that the selection criteria is SO LOW, that any school with a similar student population as ours - meaning kids from our socio economic level and kids who have been tutored since elementary school by the parents that you criticize - WOULD QUALIFY! It is not an exclusive award!

The blog and parents have already pointed out the our district has lowered the standards, yet has the nerve to brag about themselves. Scoring in the sc 5-10% percent of schools in Illinois (especially ILLINOIS), really isn't much to brag about! Look at the higher ranking states, like Massachusetts for example.

Take your own advice and READ the actual ISAT scores themselves from OAK BROOK DIST. 53 and WESTERN SPRINGS. Don't let someone ELSE interpret them for you, because that is how false information is perpetuated. Oak Brook and Western Springs are districts most like us. Because I know you won't bother to look at them, I will tell you. They showed much more growth this year, common core and all, than our district did.


Selection Criteria for 2012 Awards
To earn an Academic Excellence Award, a school must meet the following criteria:

Schools must have made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011 and 2012 as required by No Child Left Behind.

In schools serving grades 8 and below, 90 percent of students must have met or exceeded state standards in both reading and mathematics for the three most recent school years.

In high schools, 80 percent of students must have met or exceeded state standards in both reading and mathematics for the three most recent school years.

GET IT? An example: just because one is not technically obese, and does not fall into the "warning" percentages, doesn't mean that it wouldn't be good for that person to exercise or loose a few pounds.

And just because you are not "technically obese", you really don't deserve the right to run around saying how superbly healthy and superior you are. Just because the other, better schools are not sending out PR like letters perpetuating this data, doesn't' mean that it is the absolute truth. We just want our schools to be moving in the right direction, and be realistic. If your standards are so low, good for you, but please don't spread misinformation and expect us all to support YOUR low standards, too. Furthermore, these scores are older than what our current scores are.

jay wick, I feel that your name calling and tone is really offensive. Even though you really do not deserve to be on this blog, the bloggers allow you to post because you are giving us all an opportunity to show you, and other confused or uninformed people, how you can't always believe what the district says.

Thank you so much for the opportunity you have given us here to help correct some of the misinformation given to parents by D181. It really helps us when we can specifically address examples like yours and present the truth, instead of just the spin. You really are serving this community and we all appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Jaywick believes that the only impedient to success is the blog. Only he has the requisite super duper communication style to move things along. And we are with problems. If only Jaywick's smooth talk and ability to distinguish between picayune problems and real problems had been used before, we would not even need a blog. Oh wait, the problems pre-existed the blog, even jaywick admits that.

In fact,jaywick's own participation here disproves his point. He never used his smooth talking, socially superior, less excitable method of presentation and communication that only he has before to prevent these problems. But now we have his attention and he is participating and apparently going to meetings and unleashing his special powers of communication. So, the blog has mobilized jaywick as it has others.

Eddie Cajun

jay_wick said...

Really? I engage in name calling? When in the Roman Coliseum of "sticks & stones" hosted here by "The Parents"... Come now, can't you see that I am merely ribbing the timid souls that post without so much as a hint as to why they are so angry, that is the way of the anonymous blogs in the inter webs... One reason that the anonymous posting is not helpful for folks that really do want honest answers is that it does not allow folks to easily keep things straight. Case in point, check the threads -- I never said anything about percentage of property taxes; if others did I offered no opinion on that.
I can set up another mud pit if you are so inclined to join in more slinging on things like physical characteristics, a favorite domain of bullies Anonymous posting is welcome!

In regards to misleading information about growth in student performance I would refer folks to the documents published by the ISBE -- Achieving and Maintaining Academic Improvement Get back to me when you get through that tome. And then you can start in on this one Impact of the Measures of Academic Progress on Differentiated Instruction |Regional Education Labs . It should be noted that neither instrument is designed to assess things that are actually important to sane parents in D181 -- Assessment in mastery learning or What is Mathematical Proficiency ...

Paranoia about your child not being assigned to the coolest teacher is not evidence of vindictiveness, however it very well may be a delusion . And really if that is the extent of the alleged vindictiveness one really has to laugh, come on, a "cool teacher" vs one that might actually be helpful to a child's development...

Rumor was that Ms. Benaitis had been subjected to a campaign of hatred by a parent while she was principal of Monroe but that seems to have been highly ineffective Dawn Benaitis promoted to Director of Learning (Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction). Smear campaigns don't seem to work here.

Sadly I fear that the squeaky wheel types have so hardened even some of the well meaning newer BOE members that no progress toward have a more interactive path forward is possible.

I will continue to use this blog to battle against the small-mindedness and half truths that seem to be some folks stock-in-trade.

Anonymous said...

Jaywick, fighting for the children by fighting the blog!

Jaywick, don't you see that "I am merely ribbing the timid soul[s] that post without so much as a hint as to why they are so angry, that is the way of the anonymous blogs in the inter webs." I love your response that you are not involved in name calling.

Keep posting and explaining that the entire school district policy is hindered by public debate.

Eddie Cajun

Yvonne Mayer said...

Mr."Wick": Nothing I have ever submitted to the bloggers for posting or commented on has been small minded or a half truth. I can attest to having experienced many examples of what the bloggers have asserted. Moreover, in the four years I was on the board, teachers, staff, and parents asked me to advocate for them. Time and again, the "administration" just buried its head in the sand. I raised many concerns, not just parent, but teacher concerns, before the administration plowed ahead with the Advanced Learning Plan, which then morphed into the learning for all plan. Mr.Turek promised-- in public-- accountability as the plan rolled out. No such thing has happened and despite parents presenting their stories to the board in public regarding the negative impact being felt by their children -- the board has refused to push for the presentation of data and the admin has not brought it forward on its own. Since I stepped off the board, multiple teachers at all grade levels have reached out to me, telling me the plan is not working. They have told me that they are too afraid of Dr. Schuster to go public and that they don't believe the board will ever fix this mess because the majority of them have fallen under her educational spell. I have told them they must go public, and I hope they do, because there is nothing I, individually, or other groups of parents, can do since the board majority will not ever discuss any of these concerns in public meetings. They sit and "listen" and then just move along with the night's agenda. I can completely understand the frustrations expressed on this blog, frustrations which you are making worse with your mockery. So, I would ask you to stand down and instead, I would like to meet with you personally to discuss many of the issues raised in this blog, but only if you will read it from it's first post on. If you are so inclined and want to set up a meeting, my phone number is readily available. I extend the same offer to anyone else reading this blog. Hope to hear from the real you, Mr. "Wick."

Anonymous said...

Inter webs!

Eddie Cajun likes that phrase, it reeks of dark conspiracy, like in a Dan Brown novel. Deep in the "inter web", a deadly cabal of west suburban parents seeks to prevent school reform, by complaining about the state of the schools. Only true opponents of school reform call for reform. So, who are the persons most opposed to school reform...., wait a minute, that person is Dr. Schuster, so she must be the Parents and the attacks on her leadership leave her free to chart her own course. Its so illogical, it must be true. Jaywick, cracking the secrets of the "inter web" wide open and never ever calling anyone names.

Eddie Cajun

jay_wick said...

Dear Mr. Ms. Cajun:
What happens here is not "public debate". It is not even a screed. It is a willful abuse of the blogging medium. This is not a "bully pulpit" exhorting anyone into a production direction so much as place for folks to throw bombs at the administration for perceived slights.

The only folks with the power to dump the administration would be a majority of the BOE and even the most sympathetic members of the current board seem exceedingly unlikely to muster such a majority even if they did agree that such a move was needed...

The manner in which the owner of this blog and the anonymous posters attack those they disagree should make it clear that they care more about petty matters than any real improvement. As Mr. Joyce said " Quit whining and dragging us all through the mud.
Matt Joyce January 31, 2014 at 8:46 AM"

If the only "solution" that "The Parents" and the anonymous posters have is to dump all the district staff I would urge them to wear tee shirts (or perhaps sandwich boards) to the next regularly scheduled BOE meeting clearly spelling that out.

Anonymous said...


If you believe that the facts relating to resumes, curriculum, board meetings all easilya accesible by ling, are a "screed' than you are lost in the "interweb." While it is certainly true that the mold debate has people riled up, and generated more heat than before, you in fact made your appearance during this debate showing that you are no different than the others, most of the posts on this blog are tough even boring sledding and did not generate as much as interest precisely because they framed the type of debate that you are desperate, for some reason to avoid. Fungusgate is the most readily understandable failure of the administrators, even if they have done some things rights, and issues of child safety, even if overblown (hey, I agree with you on something), get parents upset.

This blog is, by far, the most effective and readily available source of information about our schools of any other source. You get all riled up about posters and commentators but remain strangely silent about the facts set forth, with links, for all to read.

As you yourself said, the board meetings can be interminable, the committees absent, the boe members hard to reach. What should community members do if they want information or to express opinions? Put the facts up on the internet and let the community weigh in.

Oh yeah, I know you love your own hatred of the "inter web", and have a passionate love of your own manner of expression, but I do seem to recall that anonymous pamphets were used to express opinons when our country was founded. So, interweb or not, anonymous political commentary is been around a while. I seem to recall that some "screeds" were an important part of the American Revolution.

I still get a kick out of your theory that the boe and the administration would reform, but for the blog. It just goes to show, that people can convince themselves of virtually anyting they want, and seem to think it makes sense. You really think that if the blog shut down, we would have D 181 perestroika?

Eddie Cajun--not signing off as I am sure you need the last word.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wick I urge you to take a hard look at yourself and stop. I am not sure what your motives are - and frankly I do not care - but you need to know that you are making an emotional situation turn toxic. You are fanning the flames. Please stop. And if you don't, I urge the bloggers to stop posting your posts. You are not helping your position - whatever it may be. This is not funny. This is our children we are talking about.

I see that you started your own blog - x-raymoms. Go post on that. Everyone is free to comment there, although I see that you wrote that obese people are not welcome.

Anonymous said...

What this blog makes me think of

Anonymous said...

Hi jay wick,

I understand that you are feeling frustrated. No one likes to be proven wrong with facts, but no need to revert to name calling yet again. Your intolerance of constructive criticism shows that Dr. Ginsberg has much more to teach you. I hope you picked up the book at the lecture yesterday! But seriously, directing your uncontrollable anger at parents and children is really uncalled for.

The facts on this blog are so well organized, that I encourage you to read them. Your suggestion to read the documents posted on the ISBE website regarding assessments and mastery of mathematical concepts are a great idea. I hope that Dr. Russell, Ms. Benaitis, and Dr. Schneider take you up on your suggestion. Maybe you could lead them in a book club?

If you do start a book club. though, be sure to invite someone from Oak Brook 53 or Western Springs to explain everything to you all. It would be so neighborly of them to share how their schools' assessments all went up this year, while ours went down.

And thank you for pointing out how illogical some of the how the hiring decisions at D181 have been these last few years. Any parent from Monroe will tell you their disappointing, frustrating experiences with Ms. Benaitis. Her promotion came to all as a shock. However, I will be the first to admit that choosing Mr. Horne was a great decision. People all over the district love him. And everyone seems to love the new principals at Oak and The Lane. Oak's test scores really set that school apart. Maybe you could invite him to the book club, too? See, Jay, I admit that there are a LOT of great things going on in our District!

We have amazing principals, and awesome teachers. Our parents are the best, and work tirelessly for our children. But the administration, well, not so good. The bright side is, we have been presented with a wonderful opportunity to unite the community and work towards the common goal of improvement. Getting a new superintendent is inevitable. People are not blind. But let's not ruin our opportunity to attract new, qualified administrators who know how to lead our schools. They deserve administrators who have the knowledge, experience, and ability to lead with transparency and honesty.

It is good to keep our eyes toward the future, but you can't move forward if you do not effectively deal with the present.

Anonymous said...

Below is an excerpt from the D181 communication. Yes the parents and children stepped up as well as the building staff - to pick up the slack elsewhere. We are all vested here. We live in the area. We are not part-timers.

News from SELAS: Blessings of a Water-Damaged Building
We often talk about unintended consequences as undesirable and detrimental, but just as common are the unexpected benefits from situations that we do not ask for. This is the case with the recent sharing of CHMS by all of our middle school students as a result of water damage at HMS this winter.

While the leaky roof and burst pipes were not wanted, the solutions found allowed school to continue for everyone and resulted in an extended teachable moment. Every middle school student and his or her family members were necessary players in the solution that for six days moved students from across the District to CHMS. These students learned the importance of flexibility, cooperation, and problem solving throughout their days, and together they showed community spirit in their efforts to make a less-than-perfect situation better for everyone.

As the initial challenges of this episode come to an end, we are asking CHMS and HMS parents to remind their children that they were an integral part of the solution. Everyone was a member of the team that rose to the challenge, focused on the positive, and gained experience in dealing with adversity. Our schools could not have planned a better way to foster resilience without the help of a tough situation.

“Children are born with strengths and abilities to cope with adversity, learn from their mistakes, and mature into responsible, competent adults. Yet they cannot develop and energize their inner resources unless we allow them opportunities to do so.” - Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, in Building Resilience in Children and Teens

Anonymous said...

So the new word is "blessings" rather than "celebrations." Of course we are proud of the D181 students and CHMS and HMS teachers, staff and principals for working cooperatively through "mold gate." But it certainly is NOT a blessing or celebration that staff and students had health concerns that were ignored for years and whose claims of mold in the building were ignored by the master sniff tester. No, certainly not a blessing -- more like a curse.

Anonymous said...

Our administrators don't have the ability "to learn from their mistakes". They do not even admit them. That is how they prove their incompetence.

Leslie Gray said...

The agenda for Monday's BOE meeting is posted on Board Docs. I encourage everyone to read the agenda items and also to attend the meeting in person. Change can only happen if people show up and speak up.

I am encouraged that a curriculum committee is on the agenda. This is a great step in the right direction. I am pleased with this, and I hope Mr. Wick is as well. The atmosphere in this district has turned toxic. I encourage us all to show up on Monday night and work together. We are more effective working together than working apart.