Yes, indeed. In our opinion, the winds of change during the last several years have ushered in a new era in D181 of unprecedented administrative salaries, undeserved promotions, and unfounded sweeping instructional changes gone wild that are clearly having a negative impact on our children. During this time, there has not been one shred of evidence to suggest that the Learning for All Plan has produced positive results. Period. MAP scores show little to negative growth across many grades and all schools. The ISAT results during the past three years have trended downward. Recent District 181 rankings among other school districts have been on a consistent downward slide. All of this with virtually no BOE oversight or accountability.
And to be fair, we realize that many BOE meetings this school year had sparse attendance by parents. There were several meetings, however, wherein parent comments were plentiful and served as a true testament to the frustration felt across the district. But ultimately, the community members who made such comments were labeled as “naysayers” and the “small fringe,” mainly by two board members: Gary Clarin and Marty Turek.
We have become increasingly concerned in light of recent comments made by Mr. Clarin, who seems to have his hands in many facets of the district. Not only has he served as a defacto project manager during the HMS mold crisis, he has also taken it upon himself to sit in a classroom observing teachers during a school day, meet with the administration (specifically, Dr. Schneider, as Clarin proclaimed in the last board meeting) and serve on the Facilities Committee. While Mr. Clarin has volunteered many hours of his services, he appears to be, in our opinion, set in his opinions about the direction of the district (which he deems as positive) along with the recent public statement that “Learning for All is here to stay” as if he were giving the public a heads up about where the district is headed, even before the new superintendent is announced. We would also like to remind our readers that Mr. Clarin also serves on the negotiations committee for the teachers’ contract, despite the fact his wife is a teacher at HMS. Truth be told: this might not be a direct violation of district policy, but in our opinion, it definitely creates the appearance of impropriety.
Is this conduct we are witnessing of an elected school board member acceptable? We think not. Nor do we believe it is acceptable to have several board members consistently claim that their ideology and promotion of Learning for All is working, when they have zero evidence to back up their claims. This is simply wrong, and yes, it is ultimately harming our children. Let us remind you that two majority board members, Nelson and Clarin, have no children in the district. They have no direct experience with the changes that have taken place during the past several years, nor will they ever come to know how the changes Dr. Schuster and her foot soldiers implemented will impact the lives of our children in high school and beyond. Private tutors and after school teacher tutoring are not the answers to supplement or to provide the instruction that should have been delivered on a daily basis in classrooms. The board members in the majority should be aware that there are hundreds of students waiting to learn in this district on a daily basis, despite the best efforts by our great teachers. Is this what they believe to be acceptable for our children? Is this what they apparently want to continue in our classrooms, as evidenced by their public comments?
In our opinion, they are clearly out of touch, and our children are now almost out of time.
History can teach us many things, if we are seekers of truth, knowledge, and wisdom. But in a sea of constant change and turmoil, the path to what held D181 together and made it a great high-performing district has now become clouded and murky with floating debris like spin, mantras, and misleading double talk, by both the administration and the BOE.
Let’s hope the new superintendent is able to see through the haze and guide the district to a better place.
We look forward to the announcement of our new superintendent on Friday, May 2, 5pm at Elm School.