Monday, August 11, 2014

Community Concerns 2014-2015


As we stated in the last post -- Final Curtain Call --  although we, the "bloggers," will no longer be making regular posts, we will immediately begin accepting posts and written transcripts from our readers. We will also continue to accept and post comments that are sent to this blog. This open forum will allow various topics of concern to be posted on this blog at the request of our readers.  If you wish to write on a certain topic or issue, please do so and submit your blog post or comment to THIS post. Any submitted post must be written within the same guidelines as those stipulated for comments. We would like to provide a forum for readers, parents and community members to voice their concerns, though the original bloggers will no longer be submitting posts on a regular basis.

We look forward to your continuing involvement in bringing D181 issues to the forefront.  Keep shining the light of transparency on all things that will impact D181's students and taxpayers!

The Parents

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a parent in this district I cannot fathom why Kurt Schneider has been given positions to oversee curriculum and special ed. The master mind behind Learning For All who didn't care a thing in this world about the students in this district gets rewarded for the harm he helped facilitate. It makes absolutely no sense.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Thank you Dr. White for making D181 more transparent. Your creation of the FOIA log and FOIA Response links on the D181 website is something that should have been done a long time ago. Here is the link to the D181 FOIA responses:
http://www.d181.org/board-of-education/foia/foia-log/index.aspx

Anonymous said...

Interesting boe meeting last night. Worth listening to podcast. White and his guys are more proactive and thoughtful. Looking at the proposed budget it is pretty clear we need to rein in admin salaries and consolidate positions. The weak links Schneider and Benaitis need to go.

Interesting discussion on full day kindergarten. One point the was not brought up is that it will be hard to align to common core in a half day. I'm glad white is thinking ahead and looking at options for kindergarten, foreign language and keeping an eye on class size. What a breath of fresh air the new administrators are.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 1: This is a follow up to the blogger's post:
http://www.hold181accountable.com/2013/09/lack-of-transparency-forces-community.html

Yesterday, the AG ruled that the BOE violated FOIA. Below is an email I sent to the BOE:

Dear D181 BOE Members and Dr. White:

Attached please find the decision letter I received in yesterday's mail from the Attorney General regarding my Request for Review -- 2013 PAC 26001. The Attorney General has ruled that the "response by the Community Consolidated School District 181 Board of Education (Board) to Ms. Yvonne Mayer's August 30, 2013, request violated the requirements of FOIA." You have been directed to "disclose" to me the "audiotape of the August 21, 2013, committee meeting.

You may recall that the "committee meeting audiotape" referenced is the tape of August 21, 2013 Goals committee meeting, that was established in the summer of 2013. D181 Parent Matt Bousquette was on this committee. When Dr. Schuster and others in the administration presented the Board with the "goals" that had been developed by the committee during a regular board meeting, Mr. Bousquette objected during public comment and stated that the goals presented did not match what had taken place during the committee meeting. Subsequently, I filed a FOIA request seeking production of the audiotape of the 8/21 committee meeting. Despite the fact that the committee meeting had been posted as a public meeting and was open to anyone from the public to attend, you and the administration denied my request. Sraga Hauser reviewed the request and fought me every step of the way, generating legal fees that at the end of the day only benefited them, not the district or Board.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 2:

I am writing today with 3 requests:

1. Please produce a copy of the audiotape to me promptly. In addition, because Dr. White has now created a FOIA portal, please post this most recent decision and audiotape on the portal in order for the entire community to be able to listen to the audiotape, if they so choose. This will be a big step toward continuing the transparency that Dr. White has brought back to D181.

2. Please consider asking the Attorney General's office to attend a public board meeting this fall and conduct a public training session on the requirements of FOIA and the Open Meetings Act. Everyone, from the Board, to the administration to the community could benefit from a public training, as it is clear that despite the online training that you have all participated in, violations continue. I believe that under Dr. White's administration there will be more integrity in the way FOIA's are handled, however, I believe all seven of you should agree to participate in more training.

3. Please discuss hiring a different law firm, other than Sraga Hauser, to represent the Board of Education. It is quite clear that they have not served in the Board's best interest or that of the D181 taxpayers. The legal advice that they have provided you over the last few years, especially in the area of open governance requirements, has been flawed and repeatedly found to violate the FOIA and OMA laws. I will be filing a FOIA request today to determine how much legal fees were spent on the two Requests for Review that the Attorney General's office has recently ruled in my favor on. In my opinion as a D181 taxpayer, the legal fees spent fighting me on these two Requests for Review were a waste of money. In each of the 2 Requests for Review that have been decided to date, the Attorney General has ruled that the basic definitions and rules of FOIA and/or OMA were disregarded. Sraga Hauser should have advised you and the administration from the onset that there was no point contesting my requests, instead of churning the legal files to line their own pocket books. The D181 taxpayers deserve better.

Thank you in advance for a timely response to my 3 requests. Finally, you will note that in interest of full transparency, I have copied Mr. Bousquette and the local news reporters.

Respectfully submitted,

Yvonne Mayer

Anonymous said...

Can we have a conversation about the selection of Dr. Hendrickson as the new Oak principal? How was she at HMS? Walker experience as an interim principal because of Cagney's "leave" in 2013 was sub-optimal and she didn't get the full time job the next year.

Yvonne Mayer said...

I think Dr. Hendrickson will do a fine job as the new principal at Oak School. She is a wonderful administrator, had fantastic organizational skills at HMS and is an extremely dedicated professional. If she's good enough to pass muster with Dr. White, who seems to be doing a great job so far, and was selected from over 50 applicants and finalists, the community should give her a chance to prove she can do the job and shine as Oak School's principal.

Anonymous said...

It is never the case that 100% of parents like a principal. I think her not getting the Walker principal job after being the interim had more to do with administrative politics than any other reason. Nothing Schuster did should be trusted, including passing Dr. Hendrickson over.

Anonymous said...

Ms Mayer.....get over yourself. It's time to put the past mistakes of the BOE behind us and to move forward behind Dr. White.

Anonymous said...

There is no need for Ms Mayer to "get over herself." She has exposed this board for what it is: reckless and disrespectful. Over and over again. Remember, Don White is a district employee who works directly for this board and is paid by the taxpayers. Until the election of 2015, we are stuck with the shallow, weaksauce drivel that Turek, Nelson, Yaeger and Clarin spew out during every board meeting. I'm grateful Ms Mayer has devoted the time and energy into calling out these fools. Apparently, the Attorney General agrees.

Anonymous said...

Hey 11:30. Looks like you have sour grapes, whoever you are. Kudos to Ms. Mayer for seeking full transparency and open government in D181. And kudos to her for her clear support of Dr. White as he starts his job in our district. She is giving him a chance to do his job, just as we all should. As for the board, the majority are lost causes and the next election can't come soon enough. Providing the community with ongoing information about rulings by the AG that the board has once again violated a law is good information to have, just in case Turek, Nelson or Yaeger run for re-election.

Walker Parent said...

Dr.Hendrickson was wonderful at Walker. I was disappointed that Dr. Schuster did not give her the permanent position at Walker. (Chisausky has been fine so don't read into that.) As a Walker parent I think this was an administrative issue rather than a capability issue. Oak is extremely fortunate to have her.

Anonymous said...

Check out the Welcome Back Letter Dr. White has sent out to D181 parents at
http://www.d181.org/news/item/index.aspx?LinkId=1863&ModuleId=37

At the end he makes an analogy to the Wizard of Oz when he says:

"In my Opening Day presentations to staff, I will be sharing a message that focuses on the opportunity we have this year to refine our common vision, clarify the path to get our District there, and more fully define the role each of us will play in making that vision a reality.

Knowing that 2014-15 is going to be centered on clarity of vision, I see a parallel to the Wizard of Oz and the path to the Emerald City. If we all know where the yellow brick road is leading, and we have each other to share the journey, nothing can impede our success. We have challenges to overcome, but with knowledge, heart, and courage, we can do it! I look forward to walking this journey with you."

I hope he realizes that there are two wicked witches lurking on the yellow brick road -- who are now in charge of the Department of Learning -- who will impede the journey. Perhaps he is referring to them as the "challenges" but that is definitely an understatement! I hope he shows "courage" and fires them as soon as possible!

D181 Parent said...

Welcome back to school D181 Teachers! Thank you for all of your hard work last year. I look forward to another year of excellence by all of you. As the year progresses, please be sure to let Dr. White know if you are dissatisfied with the Department of Learning leadership. It is time for all of you to tell a superintendent, who will not retaliate against you for your honesty, exactly what you think.

Yvonne Mayer said...

This is a follow up to my comment last week. Thank you Dr. White for continuing to show transparency. Today he posted on the D181 FOIA portal the audio tape of the Goals Subcommittee meeting I FOIA's in September 2013, but which Dr. Schuster, the BOE and the law firm Sraga Hauser refused to produce. The AG's ruling last week called for its release and I am pleased to say that Dr. White promptly complied. I have now listened to the one hour committee meeting and compared it to the Report Dr. Schuster presented last year to the BOE at the 8/26/13 BOE meeting in which she summarized the committee's recommendations. Her memo can be found at http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/9ATSEZ702A0D/$file/BOE%20Report_2013-2014%20Strategic%20Goals_8_26_13.pdf

In my opinion, as Mr. Bousquette stated during the 8/26/13 BOE meeting, her report does not match what the committee decided. Very disappointing, but perhaps this explains why the district did not want to release the audio-tape.

As for my critics who tell me to "get over myself," my response is NO WAY will I back down from my pursuit of open governance, especially when our children are impacted by the wrongful decisions made by the public entity that is supposed to comply with the laws.

Anonymous said...

If Schuster passed over Dr. Hendrickson for other D181 principalships, in my opinion, that would be Dr. H's strongest recommendation for the Oak position. I agree that if Dr. H passes Dr White's selection criteria that is good enough for me. Oak is lucky to have Dr. H as their new principal. I'll tell you the person who is really sad Dr. H is leaving HMS is Ruben Pena. He is actually going to have to attempt to do his job!!!! My understanding is that Dr. H's position at HMS has been eliminated and now Ruben and Rocky are going to have to run things at HMS. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

FOIA saga continues:

http://hinsdale.suntimes.com/2014/08/18/schools-attorney-generals-office-says-district-181-violated-foia-law/

How "non-transparent" that suddenly Turek has "no comment."

Anonymous said...

Check out this article:

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/cindy-crawford-pulls-children-malibu-high-school-pcbs-found-article-1.1909057

HMS opened in 1976, the year congress outlawed this chemical. Makes you wonder.....

Anonymous said...

According to this week's HInsdalean, here's what's on the agenda for next Monday's board meeting:

"Community Consolidated Elementary Dist. 181 Board
7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25 Elm School 15W201 60th St., Burr Ridge
On the draft agenda: family education series for 2014-15, MRC furniture approval, community engagement and research RFP, spring survey analysis, 2014-15 district goals, continuous improvement cycle, summer learning program update."

Can't wait to see the "Spring Survey Analysis" and the plans for this year's Community Engagement opportunities. Will the ever elusive "Town Hall Meeting" be an avenue that is finally taken?

Anonymous said...

Agenda for Monday's BOE meeting is posted on Board Docs. Here is the link for the report on the Spring Survey analysis report: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/9N7VA975925E/$file/BOE%20Report%20-%20Spring%20Survey%20Analysis_8_25_14pdf.pdf

It lacks content and substance and indicates that McGuiggan will present the analysis during Monday's meeting. The community has been waiting all summer to see the analysis. Why isn't it ready to be posted ahead of Monday's meeting so parents can decide whether they should come to the meeting and ask questions? Same with the board. Why not give them the analysis ahead of time? Not very transparent, if you ask me....

Anonymous said...

I just read the agenda. While I too would have appreciated the spring survey report, I was deeply impressed by the following:

1. All of the presentations were thoughtful and full of information - not just glossy slides devoid of substance with corporate speak.

2. All of our administrators were given clear job duties and tasks to be completed by specified dates.

3. Our budget increased by $150,000 due to an increase in enrollment since the last BOE meeting. Kudos to White for going through the budget and cutting $150,000 of expenses so we net out.

4.There is a ton of great information on data analysis, assessments, learning for all, common core, buildings and so much more. Thank you for holding all of our schools to the same standards. I was so mad last year when some schools were held to higher standards than other schools.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher and had a fantastic first week back. I am so impressed with Dr. White and his leadership. This was the first well planned, thoughtful, organized first week that we've had in years! I know Dawn and Kurt don't have many fans on this blog, but I think Dr. White has reorganized in a way that will give the Department of Learning a chance to shine. Things look very promising, and I'm really excited for this school year!

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear the teachers are impressed with Dr. White. But as much as I want to hope that Schneider and Benaitis will magically morph into better administrators, I am not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

I think we should give things a chance under the new leadership. So far I am impressed and optimistic.

Anonymous said...

It is hard for me to be optimistic as a parent of a child whose self-esteem was crushed under Dr. Schneider's Learning for all plan last year. I hope tonight Dr. White addresses what he has determined needs to be fixed in that program. I don't believe Dr. Schneider should be tasked with righting this sinking ship from last year. I want him gone and I hope Dr. White realizes soon that even under his watchful eye and obviously strong leadership skills, he will need to bring a new person in as soon as possible to oversee curriculum.

Anonymous said...

I have no respect for Dawn Benaitis after the way she treated students, parents and staff at Monroe. I hope Dr. White will bring in someone with a strong curriculum background next year and reorganize the learning department. Isn't Learning for all implied and expected when you send your kids to school.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr. White for visiting Monroe this morning. It was appreciated!

jay_wick said...

For folks you rather get their info about environmental concerns from scientists rather than a "supermodel" --

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15388267

"...studies of workers exposed to high doses of PCBs have not demonstrated an increased cancer risk. ... There is no reliable evidence that PCBs in the environment result in either "endocrine disruption" or intellectual deterioration in children exposed in utero. Because PCB exposures from environmental sources do not pose a significant health risk, little benefit to public health can result from continued remediation of PCB sources."



http://www.acsh.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/20050103_PCBs2005.pdf

"Based on available scientific data and evidence, PCB exposures from environmental sources today do not pose significant health risks."

Anonymous said...

Take note: The first Superintendent's Advisory Learning Committee Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 28 at Elm School Gymnasium from 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM. This meeting is open to the public so anyone interested can attend and hear the discussion. Thank you Dr. White for another transparency step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if the bloggers would be willing to open a new topic for comment on the math pilot programs that are taking place throughout the district. Except for a brief and unsubstantive mention of them at the BOE meeting on, I believe, June 9 there has been no mention of them at all to parents despite the fact that there are a large number of students participating in them throughout the district. Granted, curriculum nights are coming up over the next week but my guess is that teachers will not have the background facts about why certain programs were chosen, why Everyday Math is being replaced, how the district will choose which program to purchase, how it will make sure that students who were in the programs not chosen have learned the same information as those who were, etc... From what I have heard from other parents and teachers, the Agile Mind program at HMS is a disaster waiting to happen as it is web-based and developed for students at inner-city and low performing schools. http://www.agilemind.com/results/data-snapshots/ My grade school child was just informed today of his participation in a pilot and was told that during its implementation there will be no math "grouping". Who knows what this means but with at least 4 new math programs in use at the various schools, why haven't parents been informed about them? Who was involved with choosing a program such as Agile Mind and what was their reasoning? Perhaps a blog post for parents to post information and ask questions of other parents would be helpful.

Anonymous said...

Yes Bloggers! Please set up a math pilot topic so we can post our comments. I am a very concerned HMS parent, and I think my child is in for a rough year ahead with the new math that will be tried out in his class with no groups. All students will be given the same lessons regardess of ability. This smells of Kurt Schneider and his dream of having everyone equal within a class.
BTW: I also listened to the board meeting and sat in disbelief as I listened to Dr. White and Schneider use fancy lingo and flowerly language about this next school year. I think Dr. White will try to do his best, but based on what I heard, it will take an army of competent staff to pull off what I think is impossible with reporting, measuring, and monitoring of each and every student. It sounds nice, but reality is a different story. Instead of all the fancy language, they should have talked about stopping this ridiculous math pilot and sparing our kids and teachers from a year of frustration!

Anonymous said...

I'm so tired of the secrecy regarding curriculum.

One reason the 4th grade math mess occurred was because the administration didn't address any of the parents' challenges. They just did what they wanted without any proof that this may be more effective.

Here we are again. There are studies showing that this Agile Mind program has shown no statistically significant difference over the control program. It was a 3 year study, 9 schools participated-all underserved areas (sound like our district?-no) . I briefly read the study but just google- An innovative math program Agile Mind: Effective? and you'll find it. We need to hear why they are even considering this program.

Anonymous said...

At curriculum night at Monroe last night, the kindergarten teacher said they would pilot "Singapore Math" until Dec. She said they would also have to "learn/keep up with" Everyday Math. She told us that in Dec they were going to decide which program would be used for the remainder of the school year. I didn't really understand how they were going to do both programs at once. Is that how a pilot is supposed to work?

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm very impressed Monroe is piloting Singapore Math. Your child should have no problem keeping up with Everyday Math since Singapore is suppose to be a stronger program. Wish my children where taught this instead of Everyday.

jay_wick said...

Seems like there might have been changes to the Committees pages --

http://www.d181.org/resources/committees/index.aspx

There is a slight change in wording for some --

" The Superintendent’s Finance Committee adheres to the rules of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, with agendas and minutes available to the public. Meeting participation is limited to members and invited guests."

Finance Committee Agenda for Thursday September 3rd, 4:00PM

http://www.d181.org/data/files/gallery/ContentGallery/SALC_Agenda_8_28_14.pdf

Anonymous said...

Jay Wick: The irony is that the phrase OPEN MEETING assumes exactly that -- it should be OPEN to the public. It is hypocritical to say you are complying with the technicalities of the OMA while only allowing committee members and "invited guests" to attend. Why not everyone? If D181 really wants to be transparent, then audio and video tape these meetings so the public that is unable to personally attend can view/hear them later. As for those who can attend, it is not transparent to kick them out of the meeting.

D86 Parent said...

While D181 may (or may not) be on a course for success this year, all mayhem has broken out in D86. The board majority -- Skoda, Corcoran, Manley and Cassini have, in my opinion, been misbehaving at board meetings and treating the D86 teachers with disrespect during the teacher contract negotiations. To stay informed about what is fact versus fiction, check out the following facebook page created by Supporters of D86:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Supporters-of-D86/1465158340406853

Anonymous said...

Board docs for Monday's (9/8) board meeting has been posted.

Compliments:
1. Check out the informational report/brochure that has been created on meeting the district Residency requirements: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/9NMM4C55AC4E/$file/Determining%20the%20Residency%20of%20a%20Student_9_8_14.pdf
I am so impressed that finally all residency questions, including information on what non-residents must pay to send their kids to our schools while they are building a home in the district -- are answered. Why wasn't a document like this created in the past? Thank you Dr. White!

2. Kudos to the new HR Asst. Superintendent for the 6 day enrollment report that can be accessed at:
http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/9NMTP2762722/$file/Sixth%20Day%20Enrollment%20History_9_8_14.pdf
In particular, the graphs that show student enrollment over the last 12 years provide an easy visual aid to show where the growth in our district is taking place. No surprise that people are fleeing the Monroe area. After Benaitis reign of terror and poor student performance on state tests and MAP, parents are afraid to stay or move in. More importantly, Elm's population has been on a steady upswing for several years. Time for the administration to move out of Elm School and let the teachers and students reclaim the much needed classroom space!

Concerns:
1. Just how much money are we paying the "SELAS consultant?" I've watched SELAS morph from program to program over the last 14 years and I must question the fact that the same person who implemented it many years ago is now a paid consultant? Why so many changes over time by the same person?

2. HMS Administrative responsibilities: I am very concerned that HMS will now be replacing the Assistant Principal position and has now divided up the responsibilities amongst Pena, May and "Susan", the PPS administrator. The watering down of SPED services in our district seems to be continuing. We no longer have a dedicated SPED asst. superintendent as exist in almost all of our neighboring and comparable school districts and now a building PPS administrator is taking on Non-SPED duties? This is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! What qualifications does she have to handle all the new responsibilities. What curriculum expertise does she have to "advance" the learning for all plan?

Anonymous said...

The lack of a dedicated Special Ed staff member at HMS follows in line with the apparent philosophy of Dr. White in that he obviously doesn't believe there needs to be full time services. As a parent of children wtih special needs, this really concerns me. I already have concerns for this school year that have gone unadressed. No surprse there with Schneider in charge.
As for SELAS, my kids think it's a joke. The content is crtammed into the "curriculum" and some assemblies and activities. Ms Osgood has been paid thousands of dollars over the years to "consult" on SELAS. What has it given us? Not much.

Anonymous said...

Parents and Community Members just received the following email from Bridget McGuiggan. It is totally unacceptable that our schools are without internet.

"The Technology Department has been working with our internet provider, Windstream, since Saturday to resolve an outage affecting our internet access. Windstream has confirmed that the outage is due to broken AT&T fiber cables. They have not yet been able to provide an ETA for service restoration; it is anticipated the outage will continue into Tuesday. If you need to contact a staff member, please call his/her building as email access will be very limited. We will not be able to live stream this evening's Board meeting (The Lane School, 7pm), but we will be live tweeting @CCSD181 and we will post a Board Summary no later than Tuesday afternoon.

In other news, you are invited to view a Back-to-School webinar on Tuesday, September 9 (7pm) with the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois PTA. The webinar will include discussion regarding statewide education initiatives, the importance of family engagement, the new and more rigorous learning standards in English language arts and math, and the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment. Interested attendees are asked to register at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/185876249.


Sincerely,

Bridget McGuiggan
Director of Communications"

Anonymous said...

If someone attends the boe meeting tonight please post a summary. There will be no live stream tonight and the district summaries are very one sided.

Anonymous said...

I just read the board questions on board docs. It turns out that this years first grade Monroe had the lowest F&P reading scores in the district last year when they were in Kindergarten. That is why a fourth section was added. Also, last years second grade Monroe had the lowest reading MAP scores by a wide margin. The reading scores in the other grades were not stellar. This is a trend at Monroe that has cycled a few years. The school is in a downward spiral. What is going on and what is being done to fix it? Any why is none of this being communicated to parents?

Anonymous said...

Looks like our former resigner-in-chief/superintendent has recently begun a new job in her old stomping ground of St. Louis - teaching educational leadership, of all subjects! You can see her among the faculty here:
www.maryville.edu/ed/faculty-listing

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear some feedback on the Agile Mind program. My daughter is using it for 6th grade Accelerated Math and it is awful. There is absolutely no rigor to the materials so far at all. My older children were on the accelerated track and it was much more challenging and ability appropriate. And, no, the students are not going "deeper", it is just easy enough for a 2nd grader. And it is supposed to be 8th grade Algebra!!

Anonymous said...

Would someone please explain how Kurt Schneider has enough time on his hands to continue his lecture circuit on social justice and full inclusion for all students? Doesn't he have a curriculum/special education department to run?
Get a load of this:

DuPage Regional Office of Education
Dr. Darlene J. Ruscitti, Regional Superintendent of Schools
Reframing Mindsets for Student Achievement –
A Catalyst for Change
October 15, 2014
8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Medinah Shriners
550 North Shriners Drive, Addison, Illinois
This event is designed to challenge participants to reflect on the current role and delivery
system of education. The event will:
• Engage you in transformational thinking about the future delivery of education models
• Provoke critical thinking regarding the current status of our academic outcomes
• Reflect on what institutional and political changes need to occur to change our current
thinking about academic success for all students
• Examine how schools can approach discipline to encourage students in becoming more
engaged with learning
• Focus on what inclusive classrooms look like when meeting the needs of all students
Keynote Presenter - Dr. Steve Perry, MSW
• Founder and principal of what U.S. News and World Report has cited as one of
the top schools in the country which has sent 100% of its predominantly lowincome,
minority, first generation high school graduates to four-year colleges
• Education Contributor for CNN and MSNBC
• Essence Magazine columnist
• Host of the #1 docudrama for TVONE Save My Son
Additional presentations by:
• Dr. Kurt Schneider, Assistant Superintendent of Learning for School District
181, will address the inclusion of all students in high achieving classrooms
• Dr. Decoteau Irby, Assistant Professor in the Department of Administrative Leadership at the University of
Wisconsin at Milwaukee, will address how discipline affects student achievement
DuPage County - $120 per person • Outside DuPage County - $140 per person • Credit - 5 CPDUs
Includes continental breakfast and lunch
Registration closes - SEPTEMBER 24, 2014

Anonymous said...

I know this blog is dedicated to D181 issues, but I also have kids at D86 and an horrified about the behavior of four of their board members -- Skoda, Manley, Cassini and Corcoran -- during their teachers' contract negotiations. The latest involves them intimidating 17 teachers for "liking" a facebook post that appeared on the teachers' facebook page. Read more at the association's webpage (scroll down to read the 9/13 post about the facebook like investigation) at:

http://www.hhsta.org/



Anonymous said...

Why are we paying Dr. Kurt Schneider a generous, full time salary to be a Director of Curriculum, when he has not provided parents (or curriculum committee members) any nationally recognized evidence of WHY he and our district are piloting/experimenting a wide variety of new textbooks? This info should have all been posted on the district website prior to the pilot beginning.

Where are the documented opinions from STEM experts? And the DuPage Regional Office of Education consultants that we paid tens of thousands of dollars? Where is the research from the math committee members (to whom we are paying overtime salary to stay after school) ? Where is the data that Mrs. Mindy McMahon (on math committee) claims to have? She mentioned it at last years pilot math meeting with Kurt Russell, yet it has never materialized. It is absurd that we are paying high administrator salaries to Dr. Schneider and Ms. Benaitis, when we have to rely upon sketchy pilots, paid consultants, teachers, principals, and curriculum committees filled with laypeople to try and sort it all out.

I appreciate the district's recent email to share my thoughts with my principal and teachers, but why did they not share any facts with me before the pilot began and before the books were purchased?
What if I do not want my child to be in my school's pilot?

We all know the new common core is not the sole reason for the pilot. ALL of D181's current math textbooks, those in the elementary school and the middle school, now have correlated supplements. Where is the evidence that supports that any of the new pilot materials are any better than what we had in elementary and middle schools?
This district does not need to run another expensive, unprofessional, and detrimental experiment/pilot. Real researchers have already done the work for us and the answers are as close as the nearest educational journals. Dr. Schneider needs to go to the nearest computer and start reading the evidence that already exists. Tell us what the schools that perform better than D181 are using. Or, ask the teachers at Hinsdale Central which feeder schools are preparing their students better, and use what they are using.

Instead, however, Dr. Schneider attends conferences to hear about "transformational thinking" in "low income schools" to discuss education in the "future"? Please, Dr. White, our children are in a high income district, in the present. Why is Dr. Schneider attending conferences to learn about low income districts? Why aren't WE emulating other high income, high performing schools like those in Massachusetts? Why is D181 ignoring our children and the unique challenges children in this community have? It is a slap in the face to taxpayers and to our children to think that Dr. Schneider is not interested in learning about effective books and teaching methods for his own students. He should be studying journal articles that relate to D181, not attending conferences with questionable "experts" discussing "low income, minority, first generation high school graduates to four-year colleges".

Our community expects our property tax dollars to be spent on administrators who bring back relevant knowledge to our community and to thoughtfully and carefully implement it.

Anonymous said...

I know the Bloggers have decided to give Dr. White a chance to settle into his job and make necessary changes without scrutinizing his every move via this blog, but if Dr. White has bought into the _ _ _ _ that Dr. Schneider is selling, and is letting him continue on the dog and pony show circuit, then this district is in grave trouble. Data is needed to support what was done in the past and what is being done now. When, if ever, will we see the data?

Anonymous said...

When are they going to analyze spring MAP and isAT data? Both have usually been done by now. Will they email both reports out to the community or keep usual practice and bury it on board docs?

Anonymous said...

It's clear White has bought Schneider's spin hook, line, and sinker. No data, no evidence to back up Schneider's L4A experiment, but our kids continue in our fully inclusive classrooms. And now Schneider will speak about his experiment and 181 in his upcoming stand up. Nothing like getting a fat paycheck to ramble on about social justice in a high achieving district! Thanks for buying into this nonsense, Dr White.

Anonymous said...

Readers: PLEASE e-mail your childrens' teachers, principals, administration and BOE with your concerns and questions. Especially you 11:22 and 8:27, if you haven't done so already. D181 employees say that they don't read the blog and many uninformed parents don't even know that it or these issues exist. Posting on the blog is not enough and will not spur change. Only a significant number of e-mails and phone calls will get their attention, unfortunately. I believe that these pilots are an effort to further the idea of inclusive classrooms and that they are doing it now at the middle schools. The teachers disagree with it and, despite his name on the math committee member list, I don't believe that the HC Math Department chair was involved in the decision. Speak up now or live with the results!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment that emails directly to Dr. White and the BOE are necessary, although I don't for a minute believe that the administration and board members are not reading this blog. Public comments can also be made at board meetings. Do not be complacent. You must be assertive to get your points across. If this board won't insist on data and changes such as Schneider's firing, then next Spring, elect board member candidates who will. The clock is ticking on Dr. White's honeymoon period...

Anonymous said...

One wonders if perhaps a variation on the retort offered to those who oppose the current policies of our Nation's Chief Executive are not similar to the reason for so little criticism being aired about District's Assistant Superintendent of Learning -- "only bigots would oppose...".

The sad truth is that regardless of whatever lifestyle choices our district staff makes or whatever minority group they choose to align themselves with, anything that takes time away from the demanding requirements that come with the important the functions of improving curriculum, assessment, instruction, and services for our children cannot be tolerated; of all administrative roles surely this deserves to have a full-time dedicated staff member. If their passions lie elsewhere or the lure of outside funds / fame are greater than their dedication to the children and taxpayers of the district the honorable course of action is resignation.

If the current Assistant Superintendent of Learning cannot abide by those terms of employment it is imperative that a replacement be found ASAP.

Anonymous said...

The conference that our district's Assistant Superintendent of Learning is scheduled to attend has a curious inclusion of a colleague from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

The lack of judgement shown by the DuPage Office of RSS in promoting professors whose experience seems to offer little useful insights into what challenges teachers typically face in this area is troubling --

http://uwm.academia.edu/DecoteauIrby

"Decoteau J. Irby is a community educator, hip-hop enthusiast, and doctoral student in Urban Education at Temple University. He holds a B.S. in Economics and M.A. in Geography and Urban Studies from the College of Charleston and Temple University, respectively. His interests are wide-ranging and include community development, black political, economic and social thought, culturally relevant educational practices, school safety and zero tolerance policies, and the labor and schooling experience of Black males."

"Strategy Development for Urban Dropout Prevention: Partnering with Formerly Incarcerated Adult Non-completers"

"Hip Hop, Urban Labor Markets, and the 'American Dream': A Study of Young Black Men in Philadelphia"

While I have no doubt that many of Dr. Irby's insights would be useful to practitioners in urban settings, I cannot help but worry that such "neo-liberal" positions will only serve the ends of radicals at both ends of the spectrum that in their own peculiar ways seek to abolish the educational institutions and policies that have done much to help generations of average children with good work ethics successfully move up the traditional ladders of success...

Anonymous said...

Kurt Schneider is presenting at this seminar next month, not just attending. This really angers me as both of my kids are being subjected to the math pilot. Why does the experimentation continue in this district? This is not why we moved here.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Although this is a D181 blog, what happens in D86 will eventually impact all taxpayers and parents of elementary and middle school students. Parents need to start watching and calling out the misbehavior of the D86 Board Majority members -- Skoda, Manley, Corcoran and Casini. Follow what the teachers' association is saying at www.hhsta.org. Follow on Facebook a parent group called Supporters of D86. These community members are working diligently to get the "facts" on negotiations and other board actions out to the community. Watch the videos of the board meetings that are available at the D86 website under the BOE link. You will be horrified by the way the board majority behaves and treats community members and fellow board members.

Get involved. Complacency will only help destroy the D86 excellence we all moved here for.

Yvonne Mayer said...

The following is an email I sent the D86 Board this morning. For those of you who don't know about the Facebook "Likes" investigation against 17 high school teachers, google it. Both the Doings and Patch have run articles on it. Thankfully Dr. Law, a superintendent of the highest integrity, put a stop to it last night.

Letter to the BOE:

Dear Board of Education and Dr. Law:

I am writing this morning to thank Dr. Law for putting a stop last night to the illegal and unconstitutional Facebook "Likes" investigation. I am writing to thank you all for allowing Dr. Law to do his job and make the building level, personnel decisions that you have no authority to micromanage from the "balcony." Dr. Law did the right thing last night by ending this witch-hunt and the community fully supports his action.

I am also writing to admonish Board Members Manley and Casini for the absolutely unacceptable rudeness they displayed last night by refusing to stay for the public comments. It was bad enough that Ms. Manley refused to even return to open session, but for Mr. Casini to walk out in the middle of a public comment was so disrespectful to the speaker that everyone was left speechless and disgusted.

Part of your job as our elected officials is to LISTEN. If you are unwilling to do that, please resign immediately.

Respectfully submitted,

Yvonne Mayer

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you Yvonne! Thank you for your attention to this issue and for raising it with D181 families.

Yvonne is absolutely correct. All D181 families should tune in and pay attention to the actions of the D86 board majority. Their actions will dismantle a highly successful organization and leave it in ruins. They ran on being fiscally conservative and transparency but they have been anything but either of those things. WAKE UP and PAY ATTENTION. Educate yourself on the real FACTS on this situation - not the PR crap that the BOE has spent considerable taxpayer dollars to produce with "facts" that have been proven wrong.

The www.HHSTA.org has an excellent summary of events. Educate yourself. Do it now. Do it for your children.

Anonymous said...

Moderator - can you move the previous 3 posts to a new topic. This is an urgent issue that might get lost buried under a general heading of community concerns.

Anonymous said...

Where Ms. Mayer says "learn about the damage that the D86 BOE majority seems intent upon inflicting upon the district and do it for your children" I would say it is equally important for ALL COMMUNITY MEMBERS to understand the great harm that such actions will bring to the property values of home owners.

This is not idle speculation.

Once, not that long ago, York Community High School, which serves Elmhurst, was the peer of Hinsdale Central. Through wrong-headed policies and foolish early retirement incentives the quality of the staff at York was greatly diluted. This diminished the value of the high school and severely constrained housing prices.

If you are so foolish to not understand the value of superior schools in D86 merely compare the massive loss in value one suffers literally across the street in Westmont when comparing otherwise identical homes.

The madness of Skoda, Corcoran, Cassini and Manley will see values rapidly tumble.

They must be stopped by all available means.

Anonymous said...

The following article that appeared in the online Hinsdale Doings yesterday reminds us all that the D181 BOE election is right around the corner.

http://hinsdale.suntimes.com/2014/09/22/hinsdale-clarendon-hills-elementary-district-181-april-2015-board-election/

Time for Nelson, Yaeger and Turek to exit. For the sake of all D181 students, let's hope none of them choose to run for a second term. Only Heneghan should seek reelection.

This is no time for our community to be complacent. We can't allow happened on the D86 BOE -- where radical right wing tea party extremists are bringing that district down-- to happen in D181!

We need moderate, reasonable taxpayers to run for the D181 board. Time for some new voices to be heard and to represent all taxpayers, students and parents in our fine district.

Anonymous said...

ISAT's came home today. Thoughts from anyone?

Anonymous said...

CHMS and HMS scores are about the same if I'm reading the district comparison correctly. Significantly higher than state performance, of course. Not sure if they dropped from last year. The most interesting thing to me is that, despite the administration's warnings last year that individual scores would drop as a result of the implementation of the common core focused questions, my son's scores stayed the same. Is that the case with elementary scores? If not, and elementary scores dropped even after all of this discussion of "going deeper", does that mean that the direction we are heading may not be effective and the middle school, which hasn't been a significant part of the Learning for All plan is on the right track for the most part?

Anonymous said...

I'm furious about my child's scores. Moving down from exceeds means she did not learn the material, especially for the Common Core. I'm sure Kurt Schneider and Dr White will have explanations ready for why the scores are what they are. The home tutoring helps to prop up ISAT scores. Going Deeper is not working.

Anonymous said...

Inclusion is not working either. It means about 3/4 less time with the teacher for the student because the teacher needs to rotate groups. Less time means less learned which means less meets and exceeds. Also common core should be a baseline for our students, but we should not be lowering all of our standards to cater to it. Someone needs to be accountable for this mess. White - you are fast losing my support and you should realize promoting Schneider was a huge mistake - he does not have the general ed experience to fix this and our children are suffering. I'm furious and so are many other parents.

Anonymous said...

I'm another angry parent. White will calmly tell us these results reflect last year's performance, which was under Schuster. But now he's accountable, and the person promoting inclusion is the same one White PROMOTED THIS YEAR. Schneider. I am also fast losing support.

Anonymous said...

I am also an angry parent of an HMS 6th grader who is in the math pilot. White has to stop whitewashing the curriculum issues facing D181. I have listened to the podcast of the math pilot presentation at last week's board meeting and spoken to people who attended last week's Learning Committee meeting-- they described the committee meeting as a complete waste of time. Both presentations were run by Schneider who does not have a background in curriculum or math. What qualifies him to run this department? It is crazy that anyone would give him such great responsibility in a district of our caliber.

Anonymous said...

I heard Madison had a math meeting and that there were many parents furious about inclusion and the lack of rigor their kids were getting with the new pilot.

Anonymous said...

Insanity-doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

For 2 years the administration used an inclusive philosophy to compact/accelerate students a grade level ahead in math. It was a complete failure for our now 5th graders. Students were kept at the same pace-one grade level ahead. Beginning in 3rd grade (for our now 5th graders) every 3rd grader was taught 2 years of math in 1 calendar year. The term “taught” is used loosely b/c newsflash, most children are not capable of this in the first place, but I digress..... Teachers struggled to meet the needs of learners who were grade level and below. Teachers struggled to meet the needs of students who needed to move faster. Students in the middle didn’t get what they deserved because the teachers were pulled in too many different directions. Students suffered from a self-esteem standpoint. Parents were livid. The district ended up paying teachers to tutor students ON GRADE LEVEL after school so they could learn a grade level ahead during school.

5th grade across the district is now tiered with grade level math, and 2 classes of 6th grade math-one with bubble students just on the cusp of making the cut-off and one class moving at a faster pace. There are also students going to the middle school for math class. And guess what? It’s working. Everything about this works. The district, however, needs a policy to support double acceleration so that schools are applying it consistently across the board (but if the Admin has its way, it looks like this won’t be the case).

This brings us to the INSANITY part.....why is the district trying to implement Common Core with an inclusive philosophy? Common Core is just a set of standards. There is nothing that tells states/districts how to teach it. There is no mandate on how these standards are implemented. Common Core is controversial enough. Why implement it in inclusive classrooms? What in the past, having done this already in this district for 2 years where it failed, makes the Administration think that a teacher can differentiate to 20+ kids in a classroom of students with varying intellectual abilities in math? It doesn’t matter if you’re on grade level or a grade level ahead, an inclusive model will not be successful. Our current 5th grade is proof!

Parents spent 2 years fighting the BOE and Administration to end the now 5th grader’s compacting/accelerated/inclusive nightmare. And now the Administration wants to do it again with Common Core? White, what are you thinking? BOE, what are you thinking? Why are you letting Kurt Schneider once again drive this ship? What’s happening in 5th grade right now is working!! This class should be used as the model for implementing the new curriculum/standards. The Common Core pilot classrooms should have tiers so that teachers can learn how each group of students responds to the new materials.

Is this Administration insane? Insanity-doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. I think we can conclude that yes, indeed, they are.