LINK to Learning Committee:
At the end of this post, we have copied the comments we received this weekend regarding this committee. In addition, we would like to make the following observations:
-- It is ironic that Board Member Yaeger is serving on this committee instead of Mr. Heneghan who we believe previously expressed an interest in serving on it. Mr. Yaeger currently serves on the Finance Committee and everyone is well aware of his poor attendance record in serving on that one. If Mr. Yaeger intends to attend 100% of these meetings, then by all means, he should stay on the committee. But if he is not going to make this committee a priority, then he should step off now before it begins its important work.
-- We recognize the names of several individuals who have been appointed to the committee. We want to recognize two of them and commend the administration for selecting Leslie Gray and Susan Owens, who have shown a real awareness of the curriculum issues over the last couple of years. They have been vocal advocates for all of our children and critics (at times) of the work done by the Central Administration and the Learning for All Plan. We know they will be committed to ensuring that the recommendations that the Learning Committee makes are reasoned, data driven and will not cause further harm to our students, but hope that they will not hesitate to speak out publicly in opposition if they believe the best interests of all students are not being met by the committee.
-- We also are aware of the names of over five community members (who we will not name publicly) who applied to serve on this committee in a timely manner. They submitted their application by the first deadline and are all qualified to serve on the committee. Moreover, they represented multiple schools in the district -- Walker, Prospect, Oak, Lane, Madison, CHMS. They have attended board meetings on a regular basis, have made public comments or submitted letters and research to the board and administration to back up concerns they have raised over the last two years regarding the Learning for All Plan. At least two of these parents are former or current teachers (from other school districts). They have been actively involved in PTO committees at their schools either currently or in the past and they are all highly respected. YET THEY WERE ALL REJECTED FROM SERVING ON THIS COMMITTEE.
-- We do not know how many of the "chosen" parents submitted their applications prior to the initial deadline set by Dr. Schuster, but we do know that the parents we reference above all did and would have fulfilled their obligations and duty to serve on this committee in a fair, informed and committed fashion, would have each represented a different school, and yet the administration turned them all down and kept extending the deadline until there was a larger pool of applicants.
WE CRY FOUL!
The extensions of time to submit applications were unfair to these parents who not only have proven their commitment in the past to all of the D181 students, but jumped through all of the necessary hoops to serve on this committee and did so without prodding from the administration after the initial deadline was extended. We are not criticizing any of the parents who have been selected because they too submitted applications (and some may have before the first deadline was extended), and we assume they would not have done so if they didn't have a real interest in serving. But we do criticize the administration because based upon their rejection of parents that they or certain BOE members have characterized as "naysayers," it makes us question when the applications of the appointees were received, and whether anyone from the administration contacted them and asked them to submit applications. We are sure we will never know the answer to the latter question, but if the administration wants to be transparent, it should release the names of the 28 applicants and the dates when they submitted their applications. It should also release the applications they submitted so the community will know their backgrounds and qualifications to serve on this committee. The administration should also release the names/schools of the teachers and principals who will be on the committee. It is concerning that their names have not been identified yet.
While they may not be allowed to participate in the committee meetings, any parent, including those who applied and were not selected, should also be allowed to attend and "observe" the committee meetings, in order to stay informed as to the work it is doing. Or, as an alternative, the committee meetings should be videotaped as are all committee meetings at the high school district -- D86, or audio-taped, and posted on the D181 website. If Dr. White wants to be completely transparent and regain the trust he may have already lost from some of the disappointed parents, he should allow one of these options, since after all, this is a SUPERINTENDENT'S committee and he can "make the rules."
PREVIOUSLY SUBMITTED COMMENTS RE: PARENT APPOINTMENTS TO THE LEARNING COMMITTEE:
No nod for me either.
Heard from another high informed, well qualified parent that she was not selected.
Does make one speculate as to the criteria for inclusion...
B) not showing up
C) already advocating for new facilities
Have a delightful summer...
It will be interesting to see how the district level staffing decisions to replace departed employees reflect on Dr. White's approach to finding personnel that share his views / bring a diversity of experience to their role.
It is nice that the web page for the learning committee includes the full list of parents selected; that information is not published for the other superintendent's committees (facilities, finance) maybe not a major sea change but at least a step in the right direction.