Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dr. White's Transparency a Refreshing Change

No need for us to post a summary of last night's meeting.  Dr. White quickly sent out the following email to parents and community members right after the meeting.  Thank you Dr. White.  We look foward to reading his full meeting summary, but appreciate his emailing everyone directly with news of what was approved by the board on the closed personnel consent agenda and posting a link.

6/23/14 Email from Dr. White:

"Dear District 181 Families and Staff,

I am writing to provide a brief update following this evening’s Board of Education meeting. First, I invite you to join in congratulating a number of new employees who have been hired in the District. Included in the unanimously approved personnel agenda, Mr. John Munch for the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources position and Mr. Michael Vilendrer for the Facilities Coordinator position, both effective July 1. Attached is a press release with more information about these incoming administrators. You can see the complete personnel agenda on BoardDocs. We look forward to welcoming each of the new members of our District team!

Also, I invite you to review my Superintendent’s Report and the administrative team’s 2013-14 Year-End Report, both posted on BoardDocs with tonight’s meeting. My Superintendent’s Report highlights a variety of work currently occurring in the District, while the Year-End Report is an overview of our progress toward achieving the 2013-14 LIFE Goals.

Please visit BoardDocs to access all of the meeting’s files, and watch for the Board Summary to be posted later this week.


Don White, Ph.D.


jay_wick said...

The letter updating the community following the BOE actions is much appreciated; it remains a mystery why no mention of the people actually hired was included in the "consent agenda". I believe such holdovers from wrong-headed practices should stop.

The titular head of the BOE freely admits he has no special qualifications to set the agenda and if Dr. White is going to reveal things about who was hired the next morning there is no reason for such silly procedural maneuvers.

I have long watched the various governmental bodies adopt ways of running meetings that do not enhance the public's awareness of what actions elected members are approving in a "consent agenda". It would seem to be in the best interest of Dr. White and other district staff that want to win back the trust of the community to make every effort to expand the openness that can be afforded by revealing as much detail as possible to those who do read the agenda as published on BoardDocs...

HMS Parent said...

I believe prior to the Armonda BOE, the D181 board meeting agendas did list all specific matters in the hard copy board book that was available at a table in the back of the room where the board meeting was taking place. That way, anyone who wanted to review it prior to or during the meeting could do so. That practice was discontinued and now the community must wait until after the board votes and then the personnel consent agenda is published. I believe in Dr. White's former district, the agenda's and his you tube previews of what was going to be addressed during meetings included the names of personnel that were up for an action item. That is true transparency and I hope is a practice he will bring back to D181.

HMS Parent said...

Here is a link to an example of Dr. White's you tube pre-meeting videos in which he previewed for the public the agenda items, and yes, the agendas do list the names of all personnel and what is being voted on by the BOE.


That kind of transparency would be awesome if brought back to D181. Go Dr. White!

jay_wick said...

I agree that Dr. White seems to have used a very detailed format for the agenda he prepared in his prior district and an appropriately concise video overview of matters that the BOE was considering.

Perhaps we can look forward to such things in the future.

I have to say that it was interesting that the overview posted above included Dr. White's previous district evaluating and recommending against outsourcing custodial duties. In reviewing the highly detailed documentation that was posted to BoardDocs one cannot help but notice how modest the wages are for many of the custodial staff currently employed in our district -- Personnel Agenda_6_23_14.pdf Even if there are other benefits for these employees the compensation seems remarkably low. I guess tax payers can be grateful that such hiring is not influenced by the same forces that dictate other wages...

jay_wick said...

Another post linked to an article from the Tampa Bay Post about a parent and teacher that is so frustrated with the standardized testing in Florida she has decided that home-schooling her children is her best alternative.
Tampa Bay Times
While I completely sympathize with the sentiments expressed and share many of the fears that too strict adherence to the mindset of standardized testing is likely to be harmful to kids, I have no illusion that our district or any other in Illinois will be able to "break away" from Common Core; standardized tests are similarly not going away. One could say that they have become a non-negotiable part of education in this country with no real input from anyone...

I sincerely hope that members of the BOE, district staff, and the especially parents chosen to help with the future direction of curriculum in the district approach these matters with skepticism and caution. Of course should Dr. White acknowledge the importance of allowing such discussion to happen in an atmosphere of openness that might go a long towards helping the largest number of parents and community members understand how our district intends to navigate these changes...

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to post this rather basic question, but I can't find the answer anywhere.

Where can I see the Learning for All Plan? The District has made videos, powerpoints and held meetings about the Plan. But where is the actual plan? Who is the author and where can I read it?

And if it hasn't been reduced to writing, one must then ask, "what is the Learning for All Plan, anyway?"

For instance, Dr. White's Superintendent's Report of June 23, 2014 states, "The Learning for All Plan calls for buildings to embrace a continuous cycle of professional development and school improvement." Really? I mean, it's a nice sentiment, but where does the Learning for All plan "call" for this? On what page is it called for?

Is the Learning for All Plan just anything a given administrator may attribute to it at any given moment?

To my way of thinking, a plan for something this important is not a powerpoint. A plan is not a video of a meeting held in a gymnasium.

Rather, a plan is a detailed set of actions that have been thought of as a way to do or achieve something. To date, I haven't seen the plan. So if anyone can point me in the right direction, I sure would appreciate it.

Yours truly,
Dumb Question

Anonymous said...

Dumb Question - http://www.d181.org/learning/index.aspx
hopefully this helps a little bit

Anonymous said...

Dear 11:48,

Thank you for the link. I've seen that before, however. And that's not the plan. That is a single paragraph followed by 5 questions (which are unanswered, by the way.)

If there is, in fact, a Learning for All Plan, I think the District is obligated to show it to us. No?


Anonymous said...

The district's explanation of the Learning for All Plan is disgraceful. I completely agree with D.Q. There has to be more behind a learning theory than a catchy title. It is simply not enough.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jill,

Thank you for the links. I wish I could say they were helpful, though I understand you are not to blame.

I've reviewed the 52 page Powerpoint which is billed as the Learning for All Plan. If I had to describe it in just one word, I'd choose "incomprehensible." Though "unintelligible" also comes to mind.

I note the phrase "Learning for All" appears nowhere in the "plan." It is also striking that the overwhelming majority of the 52 slides don't even contain complete sentences! The plan is nothing more than a collage of bullet points and Orwellian doublespeak. It reeks of propaganda and utterly lacks substance.

It's no wonder all my kids spend so much time making dioramas in school. The D181 Task Force thinks the key to college admission and being ready for a career requires nothing more than making your message pretty. And while the plan is pretty with all the photos of cute and industrious children, it is not remotely effective.

Here are a few more dumb questions:

How much did we pay for this tripe?

Why is this so hard to find on the D181 website? Moreover, why wasn't it sent to all parents?

How on earth did the BOE approve something it couldn't possibly understand? Why didn't they demand an actual plan instead of settling for a Powerpoint?

If there is a Learning for All plan, it's well past the time for the District to put some meat on the bones and tell us what it is and how they are going to accomplish these goals.

Yours truly,