It seems that the D86 BOE meetings are even crazier than D181 meetings. In the midst of a meeting that was attended by over 1000 people, at which over 3 hours of public comments were allowed, the beginning of the meeting captured a perfect example of the arrogance and disrespect shown by certain board members, in this case, "Dr." Skoda, to the community and fellow board members.
For those of you who were unable to personally attend the meeting, the following are links to the video of the meeting.
The first link is to the video posted on the D86 website of what the "entire meeting." Click on the link and then click on the video for the 10/6/14 meeting. Interestingly, the first 12 minutes of the meeting were not included. Were they edited out? And if so, by whom and at whose direction?
The next link is a video of the first 12 minutes of the meeting that has now been posted on YouTube. Thankfully, someone else in the audience was filming the same meeting.
The final link is a clip from the first 12 minutes that shows "Dr." Skoda in action.
This final clip is significant because rumor has it that Dr. Skoda plans to run for re-election to the D86 BOE next April.
We leave you with one simple question. Is this the the type of person who should be re-elected?
Thanks to the bloggers for providing the youtube video for the first 12 minutes. I can say that I was truly disgusted by board member skoda. Not being a D86 parent yet, I was not impressed by the canned speech really intended to admonish the adults for getting their high school students involved versus letting them play outside or watch a football game. All that talk of college readiness starting in elementary but lets not treat our young adults as mature citizens. Secondly it was pompous of him to bring up the fact that Ms. Gallo referred to him as Mr. Skoda and not as Doctor. Respect is earned and he certainly lost more in front of 1000+ people by focusing on it instead of the issue at hand. That ego is too big and does not belong to an elected official. I am concerned that the burden to pick caucus endorsed candidates for the D181 board has been placed on a very small group this year. I hope they will keep in mind that there needs to be more accountability and fiscal responsibility this time around and that includes curricular decisions since we seem to keep asking the teachers to be super humans and our students to be guinea pigs. Money is spent on programs that are incomplete. Please make sure you keep our students in mind and pick candidates that care about all students. Not rubber stampers like a couple that have rolled off the board and not people who don't have time or don't have children in the district. Please don't run if you are not interested in education. You can run for a different office and help lower our property taxes. We will all be thankful...
I agree with 7:22. I will not vote for Skoda if he runs for reelection. I will also not vote for Turek if rumors that he is also running for reelection are true. What is it with board presidents who think they can be arrogant, rude and in Turek's case come unprepared to meetings? The electorate deserves better.
Still no ongoing information about the Math Pilot. I did happen to check the district website since there is no official update and the third party research has been added finally.
The research for Agile mind speaks for itself and makes one wonder why we picked this as an alternative to pilot. I would like to point out that not all of our children as destined for careers in STEM. Not all children need to complete Algebra 1 to go on to a successful non-stem career. Lets not sell other career choices short. The pressure to succeed in Math and keep up is going to negatively impact many students.
For Big Ideas, the design of study was two teachers at one school! One teacher taught three 7th grade classes with Big Ideas and another teacher taught three 7th grade classes with the control material which was the math program used for the past several years. The good thing is they understood the importance of a control group using the old program and the time of study was a full year. Looks like a rural district and demographics again not like ours. If you read the study it is pretty clear that the control group did not use a common core version of the existing program again making the whole study questionable. The data shows no clear higher performance with Big Ideas. Very disappointing research and unconvincing. They have stretched the analysis to conclude that the classes with Big Ideas had a larger effect size.
Looks like Math in Focus has more information although not an official study but more of a brochure feel. Looks like they have materials for middle schools. There is definitely more support for Math in Focus than Investigations if you do some independent research. This is the type of information our district should have reviewed for Every Day Math and the middle school programs. Who has been leading the Math Committee? Not sure what to make of the research performed in picking materials for the pilot.
Seriously, I would like to have a lot more information about the Math Committee, how it's run, who the members are and what the process was for choosing these programs. I know that teachers volunteer to be on the committee and I appreciate the effort, but I think that parents need some information from the district about how these programs were chosen and why. Not to second guess the teachers, but to understand the decision making process. There is just way too much negative information on the internet about Investigations and AgileMind for parents to have any degree of comfort about these programs without additional information from the math committee or admin. We want to trust the process but feel there are a lot of hidden agendas. Full transparency about the process would help a lot. We've looked at the amorphous rubric (that doesn't seem to be tied to real learning in math at all)but that still doesn't address all of the (significant) negative internet chatter about these programs. Our BOE majority says that they trust the admin. and don't feel the need to oversee them. As the parent of a 5th grader who was irreparably harmed by their last experiment, I beg to differ. It's time to ask for detailed answers folks.
I fully expect Don White and Kurt Schneider to present a bunch of fluff on 10/27 regarding the math pilot and full inclusion. That's all they have given us so far.
It is growing increasingly clear that Dr. White had better distance himself from Schneider and Benaitis - and fast. His decision to promote Schneider and expand Benaitis' job responsibilities makes no sense. Now that I have listened to some of the meeting podcast and heard Schneider's presentations, I cannot believe that anyone thinks he has the expertise in curriculum to run the department of learning. And as for Benaitis, well, all I can say is that she knows nothing about assessments. If Dr. White thinks they are qualified to run the department of learning, then we should all be very concerned.
4:15 Thank you for your post. It does make you wonder why Agile Mind was chosen and why the district didn't purchase the Glencoe Common Core Supplements to pilot against Big Ideas. All I have heard is that the middle school is fantastic. Now the Administration wants to destroy that, too. Parents with children in the pilot should speak up. Stop worrying about what other people are going to think of you. I would rather be called a naysaying squeaky wheel and other 5 letter words (as Clarin says) than sit back and let my children be used as pons in Schneider's games.
4:15 Bring this to the Board's attention and urge other parents to address to come forward!! We may not have a say in the adoption of CC but parents should have a say in the curriculum that is chosen to teach it!!
Take a look at Monroe's performance during Benaitis' tenure and the fact that parents, not she, had to advocate for an additional differentiation specialist for their students.
From How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms, 2nd Edition
by Carol Ann Tomlinson
The Final Thought from Chapter 2:
"In the end, all learners need your energy, your heart, and your mind. They have that in common because they are young humans. How they need you, however, differs. Unless we understand and respond to those differences, we fail many learners.
Some of us are drawn to teach struggling learners, some are natural champions of advanced learners, and some have an affinity for the sort of “standard” student who matches our image of the 4th or 8th or 11th grader we thought we'd be teaching. That we have preferences is, again, human. The most effective teachers spend a career meticulously cultivating their appreciation for children not so easy for them to automatically embrace, while continuing to draw energy from those students whom they more automatically find delightful."
"How People Best Learn: The Engine that Drives Effective Differentiation
We actually know a great deal about how people learn. For example, we know that each learner must make meaning of what teachers seek to teach. We know that the meaning-making process is influenced by the student's prior understandings, interests, beliefs, how the student learns best, and the student's attitudes about self and school (National Research Council, 1990).
We also know that learning takes place most effectively in classrooms where knowledge is clearly and powerfully organized, students are highly active in the learning process, assessments are rich and varied, and students feel a sense of safety and connection (National Research Council, 1990; Wiggins & McTighe, 1998).
We know that learning happens best when a learning experience pushes the learner a bit beyond his or her independence level. When a student continues to work on understandings and skills already mastered, little if any new learning takes place. On the other hand, if tasks are far ahead of a student's current point of mastery, frustration results and learning does not (Howard, 1994; Vygotsky, 1962).
In addition, we know that motivation to learn increases when we feel a kinship with, interest in, or passion for what we are attempting to learn (Piaget, 1978). Further, we go about learning in a wide variety of ways, influenced by how our individual brains are wired, our culture, and our gender (Delpit, 1995; Gardner, 1983; Heath, 1983; Sternberg, 1985; Sullivan, 1993).
From How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms, 2nd Edition
by Carol Ann Tomlinson
"The focus of this book is on the refinement of high-quality, alluring instruction that we call “differentiation.” This book, however, calls for clarity and quality in what we differentiate. It is an exercise in futility to try to meet the needs of learners by low quality, incoherent approaches to differentiation. They provide learners with several varieties of gruel. They will fall short for virtually all students.
Because the primary intent of differentiated instruction is to maximize student capacity, when you can see (or you have a hunch) that a student can learn more deeply, move at a brisker pace, or make more connections than instructional blueprints might suggest, that's a good time to offer advanced learning opportunities.
But advanced learners, like other learners, need help in developing their abilities. Without teachers that coach for growth and curriculums that are appropriately challenging, these learners may fail to achieve their potential. For example, when a recent study compared Advanced Placement Exam results of the top 1 percent of U.S. students with top students in 13 other countries, U.S. students scored last in biology, 11th in chemistry, and 9th in physics (Ross, 1993). There are many reasons why advanced learners don't achieve their full potential.
Advanced learners can become mentally lazy, even though they do well in school. We have evidence (Clark, 1992; Ornstein & Thompson, 1984; Wittrock, 1977) that a brain loses capacity and “tone” without vigorous use, in much the same way that a little-used muscle does. If a student produces “success” without effort, potential brainpower can be lost."
Recommend reading the full article about Chapter 2 to understand the needs of all learners and expectations from the teachers.
Wouldn't it be great if we could employ all of the good things about differentiation in ability tiered classrooms? Just imagine the focus our teachers could have on learning styles, creating passion, and the like, if they didn't have to do that for so many kids who are all over the map ability-wise. And, if the teachers really got to know the students (instead of switching classrooms each unit), maybe we could even eliminate some of the pretesting and devote that time to increased instruction.
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