Friday, February 21, 2014

We Are So Over the Moon (Report); What is the Real Status of D181 Two Years Later? (Part 1)

(Taken from Wikipedia Moon images.)

In anticipation of Dr. Tonya Moon's return to D181 next Monday, February 24, 7pm at Elm School, today we begin a new series.  Part 1 will provide links to earlier posts from last year in which we discussed when and for what purpose Dr. Moon was initially hired and the district wide curriculum changes that morphed from her original report.  We encourage our readers to read these earlier posts, as well as the additional commentary below, prior to Monday's meeting.  Part 2 of this series will be published prior to Monday's meeting and will provide our readers with insight as to backgrounds, relevant research in the field of gifted and talented education, and the impact of hired consultants Drs. Moon and Friedman on D181. We suggest setting some time aside prior to Monday’s meeting as there is a great deal of information for you to review. You will want to become especially versed in the terminology and semantics that will be on display during Monday’s meeting. Let’s begin by referencing several of our previous posts:

Our 6/5/13 post titled "2012-2013 Year in Review: How did the curriculum change process evolve?" described the chronology of events leading up to and following the hiring of Dr. Moon, who was tasked with evaluating the gifted program during the 2011-2012 school year.  (Click to open 6/5/13 post.

In January 2012, Dr. Moon presented a report of her findings to the BOE. Her report went further than simply evaluating the gifted program.  (Click to open Dr. Moon's Report.)  As we previously summarized in our 6/5/13 post, Moon concluded that there was insufficient differentiation across the classrooms in D181, and that there was inadequate identification of students for admission into the gifted, advanced or accelerated math and language arts programs.  She advised that unless there was evidence to show that a student would not be successful in such programs, the opportunity for students to enroll in them should be created. Anything short of this was, in her words, “educational malpractice.” She also recommended that the district create a Philosophy of Learning for all students.  She did not advise that there should not be any gifted programming, but that the door needed to be opened for more students into the advanced programs D181 offered.  Of significance is a statement Dr. Moon made on page 27 of her report regarding math acceleration. Contrary to the administration's continued insistence that they have implemented Dr. Moon's recommendation of math acceleration for "all students," what she actually said was that "the diverse group of stakeholders tackling the district's philosophy and definition be charged with investigating the feasibility of accelerating the district wide-mathematics program by one grade level."  

Following Dr. Moon's report, the district developed a Philosophy of Learning, transition plans, and ultimately what was first called the "Advanced Learning Plan," but was later renamed to be the "Learning for All Plan."  What was intended to be an evaluation and improvement of the gifted programs in D181, morphed into a decision to dismantle the gifted program, implement an inclusive model whereby each homeroom teacher would differentiate instruction to each student's individual level, accelerate all students by one full year above grade level in math, transition to all students taking "ACE" social studies at the middle school level, and allow students to opt into higher level math and language arts classes than those they had placed into a the middle school level.  The following posts reviewed data and observations regarding the curriculum changes in 2012-2013, which the administration called the "transition year":

Each of these posts raised parent and teacher concerns and asked many questions about what would happen as the ALP/Learning for All Plan continued to roll forward, grade by grade.  Interestingly, this year -- Year 1 of the ALP/Learning for All Plan -- despite repeated requests from a couple of board members to Dr. Schuster, asking her to please present student performance data for the 2013-2014, no such presentation has been given, nor has the BOE publicly discussed parent concerns that have been raised regarding math acceleration.  The administration has now identified as many as 25% of this year's 4th grader's who need after school tutoring in order be able to tackle the 5th grade math instruction they must learn. When asked at the February 10 board meeting when data on elementary and middle school performance would be presented, Dr. Schuster referenced the upcoming meeting at which Dr. Moon will be presenting a follow up report.  More than half way through this school year, the parents and community continue to wait to see data that last year was released on a relatively regular basis.

It appears that Dr. Schuster and the entire Department of Learning are putting all of their eggs into Moon's basket.  What will she say?  Will she agree with what has been implemented in D181 since she called for better identification of students for tiered programs and more effective differentiation in the classroom?  Will SHE have been provided the performance data for the first half of the 2013-2014 school year and will she have analyzed it as part of her follow up report?   Dr. Moon will visit the district the same day she presents to the board.  How many classrooms will she visit?  How long will she spend in each classroom?  Will she speak to any teachers?  Will she speak to any students?  Will she speak to any parents before she presents to the BOE?

Our posts over the last 10 months have raised many questions and concerns about the curriculum and program changes/eliminations that began after Dr. Moon's report.  The D181 administration has not answered or addressed them. The majority of the BOE has not requested data and analysis from Dr. Schuster and the Department of Learning to determine the effectiveness of the massive changes that have taken place since Dr. Moon’s last visit.

Gravity, stars, and the Earth’s rotation are sure bets. Moon’s upcoming visit and what we predict will be a grand meteor shower of spin, should be cause for pause for all of us.


jay_wick said...

Your links are not clickable...

I have found that if you switch from the "compose" mode to the "HTML" mode you can usually get a cleaner post.

The blogger software is fairly limited.

You need to have the things strictly formatted --

Start with the greater than sign then the a tag, then the href=, then the double quote ", then the url, then a closing double quote ", then a closing less than sign, then the text description and finally the gt sign, forward slash /, closing a, and the less than sign.

Here is a Simple Sample of href within anchor tag

Good luck...

The Parents said...

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We will fix immediately.

The Parents said...

The links are now active. Thank you for your patience.

Anonymous said...

As a Monroe parent, I am concerned that our school board and administrators will continue on the L4All path and ignore the wishes of parents. I plan to show up on Monday and I hope other parents do as well. After reading through the reports on this post, I just can't believe what has happened to our district. I am angry!
BTW: Both of my children (one is a fourth grader) had declines in their MAP winter scores in reading and math. I suspect they are not the only ones.

Anonymous said...

Re: Parent / community comments...

For folks considering attending the upcoming BOE meeting it has been brought up that there is often a decidely lopsided presence of moms vs dads.

When it comes to male community members there is something of a history or more of them commenting on tax rates / expenditure vs curricular concerns.

The curious fact is that there has long been an imbalance of male BOE members compared to female BOE members.

I don't know how much to make of this and for me personally this is an utter non-issue but given the relative high disatisfaction that many families have expressed it may be worth making an effort to perhaps think about a sitter so the maximun number of parents are present or perhaps having a contingent of well informed dads...

Anonymous said...

Aren't they presenting MAP results on Monday? It will be good to be there for public comment after the administration shows the abysmal 4th grade math scores. We can't let the Board continue to give them a pass for failing our children!

Anonymous said...

I understand the MAP presentation last night was quite the joke. Questions weren't being answered and Dawn Benaitis apparently kept trying to chime in (probably because her contract is up for renewal and she is trying to justify her position.

Anonymous said...

I thought Kevin Russell's presentation was fine. He answered all of the questions that were asked and gave some basic information on reading the report. I appreciate the time he took to hold the meeting and explain MAP results in light of all of the questions that have been asked about them. There were at most 50 parents in attendance so not a lot of interest. Hopefully attendance at Monday's meeting will be better.

Leslie Gray said...

This is a letter I just sent to the BOE. Everyone needs to send letters ASAP!!!

Dear Board Members,

I just read the upcoming meeting agenda and I am extremely disappointed that you put public comments AFTER the Dr. Moon presentation. Dr. Moon is coming to this district for a short period of time and there is NO opportunity for her to meet with parents. Public comments are the public's only opportunity to communicate with Dr. Moon. Yet, her presentation is BEFORE public comments. She will most likely leave before parents have the opportunity to speak. Many people are coming to the board meeting and many people have speeches prepared solely for Dr. Moon. It is important for her to hear our voices. We are the stakeholders of the community. The order of the agenda is simply unconscionable. As a taxpayer, community member and parent I urge you to put public comments first where they belong. Do you really want to risk further alienating the community?

Leslie Gray

Anonymous said...

Board Members,
After reviewing the agenda for Monday's meeting, We are disappointed that public comments have been placed after Dr. Moon's presentation. There are many parents who are planning to attend for the sole purpose of addressing Dr Moon. It is our concern that she will leave the meeting prior to hearing parent's concerns. We urge you to place public comments before her presentation. It is only ethical that parents have the opportunity to speak to her regarding the sweeping changes that have taken place in this district due to her gifted analysis.
Amy and Dave Alex

Anonymous said...

I sent the note below to the BOE and strongly encourage others to send emails as well.

Dear Board of Education Members,

I have reviewed the agenda for the BOE meeting scheduled for Monday, February 24th and I am extremely disappointed to see that Public Comments have been placed after Dr. Moon’s presentation. The community has been waiting for Dr. Moon to return to our district for over a year now. In light of sweeping changes (supposedly based on her recommendations) made through our district, I think it is appropriate for parents to have the opportunity to address her with questions and concerns.

I respectfully request that the agenda be modified to allow for Public Comments before Dr. Moon’s presentation and that the BOE ensure that Dr. Moon is present to listen to those Public Comments. Thank you for your consideration.


Joanna Brinckerhoff
Monroe and CHMS Parent

Anonymous said...

Abysmal 4th grade MAP scores? I just looked at the BoardDocs and they certainly don't looks "abysmal" to me? Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you are missing something.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it important to know what percentage of children are meeting growth targets?

Anonymous said...

100 fourth graders were identified as needing after school tutoring twice a week for the rest of the school year to solidify 4th grade foundation skills and master 5th grade content successfully. This group of 4th graders has been put in a one size fits all model. No one is allowed to remain at 4th grade level. No one can move ahead but exceptions are being made inequitably with unknown guidelines. It's all based on a system of trust. The parents are tired of seeing the district fail their children and are tutoring their children. Unfortunately it all helps keep this crazy plan alive. Let's all declare success with mediocrity in the MAP test results and "A+" for parent effort. There is always an excuse to go on.

Anonymous said...

42 percent of the fourth grade class in not on track to meet their growth targets in math. This number will likely be higher because many students in this class lost growth from winter to spring last year. Also which quartiles are we seeing growth in? We seem to be teaching to the middle because last year there was low growth in the upper and lower quartiles.

Jill Quinones said...

Here is the letter I sent the BOE:

Dear Board of Education,

For a governing body, together with an Administration, oft criticized for being unwilling to engage in any real discourse with parents, I probably should not be surprised that for the first time in 11 years at a Business Meeting you have decided to move public comments from the beginning of the meeting to after the presentation by Drs. Moon and Friedman. Your attempt at censorship couldn't be any more obvious (perhaps we should give points for transparency here - another area in which you are oft criticized). Are you so unsure of what she will think about what you have done to our students that you need to insulate Dr. Moon in particular from hearing what parents think about how her recommendations have (or more appropriately have not) been implemented since she was last here? Now perhaps if you wanted to give her time to respond to any parent comments made after her presentation, then the movement of when you will take public comment would not be so disconcerting. That does not appear to be the case, however.

This action on your part reminds me a bit of China trying to limit its people from Google and other internet sites lest they actually be exposed to a complete picture of the state of things. If you are truly interested in an honest appraisal by Dr. Moon then you will either move public comment back before her presentation so she can hear from parents about what they are experiencing or you will allow her to hear these comments after her presentation and give her time to respond.

Thank you for your time.

Jill Quinones
Parent, Walker School

Anonymous said...

Very well said, Jill. In anticipation of the BOE doing something so slimy, I already sent a letter to Dr. Moon last week. It is not too late for everyone else to do the same.

The board president should IMMEDIATLEY be demoted, if not expelled, for such undemocratic, unethical actions. I hope ABC news goes to this upcoming meeting so that the rest of Illinois can see that, regardless of our educations and incomes, Hinsdale is really not that different from Cicero, or from the gangs of the West Side.

Maybe Dr. Schneider is doing a better job of equalizing the communities in the Chicago Area than we thought! Thanks, Kurt. Why would anyone want to move to Hinsdale, if they could pay less taxes and be treated equally badly in a more affordable area?

Village Mom

Anonymous said...

I too sent a letter to Dr. Moon last week. It is not too late for others to do the same. The BOE should be ashamed of themselves!

Jill Quinones said...

In response to my letter, the Board president called me this evening to assure me that it was never his or the Administration's intent to prevent Dr. Moon from hearing from parents. Rather, according to him, the intent was to allow her to speak and perhaps address some of the concerns and, therefore, some parents might no longer find it necessary to speak.

He also assured me that Dr. Moon would be staying at the meeting to hear the public comment after her presentation and to respond to questions. I urged him to make this information public either before, if possible, or at the start of the meeting so parents would know this as there was no way of concluding this from what is posted on the Agenda. He said that he would do so.

He also told me that not only had Dr. Moon been receiving emails and letters from parents, but calls as well. Apparently she contacted him or someone at the District to determine whether she could bill her time to answer them and was told she could not. Interesting…….

Hopefully at least by reading/hearing parent concerns she will have these things in mind during her visit. If not, at least she will be staying around to hear them again - and hopefully address them.

Anonymous said...

MULTIPLE people have attempted to email the BOE tonight to object to the order of public comments, but their emails are not going through - they are getting an error message that reads "website is temporarily offline for scheduled maintenance." VERY CONVENIENT TIMING!

Anonymous said...

Wonder if Marty Turek called any of the other parents who contacted the BOE?

Anonymous said...

Mr Turek did not contact any of the other parents that I'm aware of who wrote letters to the Board regarding their concerns about the agenda for the meeting this evening. The emails went unanswered.
Amy Alex

Anonymous said...

How rude of Mr. Turek to be selective in his choice of who to contact and who to ignore.

Anonymous said...

I agree - I have not heard from any BOE member regarding the email I sent Saturday morning.

Leslie Gray

Anonymous said...

Everyone, but especially Turek and the rest of the board, should review Board Policy 2:230: Public Participation at Board of Education Meetings and Petitions to the Board. A quick read shows that Public Comment should come right after the Pledge of Allegiance at tonight's BUSINESS meeting. Section 2 of the policy specifically provides that:

"2. Address the Board only at the following appropriate times as indicated on the agenda and when recognized by the Board President:

a. At each Regular Business meeting, public comment will be allowed following the Pledge of Allegiance and at the end of the meeting.

b. At each Committee of the Whole Meeting, general public comment will be allowed following the Pledge of Allegiance. In addition, after each Presentation/Discussion item, public comments relative to that agenda item will be allowed. A person commenting on a Presentation/Discussion item shall not address the board during the general public comment, but shall wait until the comment period for that item."

Why do Turek, Schuster or any other board member think its ok to violate their own policies and procedures?