Saturday, October 25, 2014

Don't Treat Us Like We're Stupid, Dr. White. Math Pilot Presentation is the Latest Joke in the "Schneider Era."

Today we break our silence.

Dr. White's honeymoon is over.  What must now come to an end is the "Schneider Era." If Dr. White is unwilling or unable to realize this, then perhaps his marriage with District 181 should end in a swift divorce.  We urge Dr. White to read our concerns and act on them.

As our readers know, parents have been patiently waiting for the Department of Learning, now led by Assistant Superintendent Kurt Schneider, to present a report to the Board of Education on this Fall's roll out of the 4 math pilot programs -- Agile Minds, Big Ideas, Investigations and Math in Focus.

Almost immediately after the Math Pilots started, we began hearing serious concerns parents and teachers have, in particular with two of them -- Agile Minds (HMS) and Investigations (Madison and Elm).  Concerns included:

  • disappointment in the administration for not better advertising the board meeting last Spring at which the Math Committee told the BOE what pilots had been selected, 
  • lack of information to the parents of students participating in the pilots (some parents didn't even know until yesterday that their children were involved in a math pilot), 
  • lack of data analysis to support any of the math programs (not just the pilots), 
  • a lack of differentiated instruction within the "inclusive classrooms" using the pilots, 
  • poor performance by students in pilots who last year did not have math performance issues, 
  • technical issues with computer based Agile Minds
  • non-alignment with Common Core standards, 
  • insufficient teacher training, and the list goes on.  

Parents have repeatedly complained to teachers and administrators that the math needs of students are not being met, regardless of whether they are in the pilots or programs that continued from last year.  In addition, information was provided to the Board last month that indicated that the Learning for All Plan's math component of acceleration for all is no longer going to be the norm, yet no data analysis has been presented to the board members explaining the rationale behind this change (which the BOE did not even approve). The administration's response to the parents' concerns and unanswered board member questions was to promise that a full report on the Math Pilot program would be presented to the board during the October 27 board meeting.

Imagine then, the growing concerns parents had yesterday, especially those at HMS, when they received a letter from Superintendent White -- not Dr. Schneider -- attaching a "Math Pilot Memo" that informed them them that a decision will most likely be made at the 10/27 board meeting to immediately discontinue Agile Minds at HMS, and that a similar decision might be made in the future regarding Investigations.  No specific reasons were given for these proposed changes, nor was there any discussion on the possible negative impact on our students from these pilot(s) or the specific steps the administration will take to remediate the failure of the pilot(s).  Instead parents were just told that a "materials transition plan" will be developed in the next "week or so" and discussed at the 10/27 Board meeting.  (See copy of Dr. White's letter published at the end of this post, excludes the charts.)

We were hoping that the materials posted on Board Docs for Monday's meeting would provide more information, however, we were sorely disappointed.  We have now reviewed the Board Docs materials.   The presentation materials are completely INADEQUATE.  Our expectation was that the Math Pilot presentation on Board Docs would not only provide specific details on the reasons Agile Minds, and possibly Investigations, will be discontinued, but also include details of the data analysis that was conducted to reach these conclusions, along with the proposed detailed plan on the replacement curriculum and materials that will be used going forward.

NONE of this information is provided and NO DATA ANALYSIS is included in the 2 documents published under the agenda item called "Math Pilot Update": a "Board Report"  (click to open link) on the Math Pilot authored by Dr. Schneider and a 43 slide power point presentation titled "Learning for All and the Math Pilot Componentclick to open link).

The "Board Report" is nothing more than an almost verbatim copy of Dr. White's letter. There are minor stylistic differences, made either by Dr. Schneider or Dr. White, but the core content is virtually identical, so it is now unclear who actually prepared the report.  The authorship of the report is significant, however, and the BOE members should ask who is responsible for it, since they are tasked with holding either Dr. White accountable for curriculum failures, or looking to him to hold his underlings accountable for their failures, especially those that have had a negative impact on student instruction and hurt our children academically.  Either way, the Board Report provides no additional information.

Neither does the 43 slide power point, which is the worst "cut and paste job" we have seen emerge from Dr. Schneider's Department of Learning.

The first 31 pages have absolutely nothing to do with the Math Pilots.  Rather we are once again deluged with slides dealing with the history of gifted education in D181, Dr. Moon's report, the development of the district's philosophy of learning, the development and implementation of the Learning for All Plan and the Acceleration for All model that Dr. Schneider brought to our district, the History of American Schools, "Previous Conversations," and Common Core standards and related issues.  After 31 slides of information we have seen repeated time and again by Dr. Schneider and his past Co-Assistant Superintendent of Learning, Dr. Kevin Russell, most readers would probably give up and assume there was no new content.

Yet, we kept flipping through all of the "bubble" graphics, bullet points and charts that didn't even use the phrase Math Pilot (many of which we have previously seen or are very similar versions to slides that Dr. Schneider or Dr. Russell used in old power point presentations to the board) and soon we too were wondering if we had misunderstood that the Math Pilot was the actual agenda item that was to be discussed with the BOE!

At last we turned to slide 32 that actually refers to the Math Pilot, but rather than provide new information and data analysis on the implementation and outcomes of the four distinct math pilots, and an explanation of the conclusions the Department of Learning has reached since September, slides 32 through 40 are nothing more than historical slides dealing with the Math Committee's selection of the 4 pilots, information that the board was already given last Spring.

So what is missing from the power point?  What information did the Department of Learning choose to exclude?

  • NO information is given regarding the concerns that have led to the administration's conclusion that Agile Minds must be immediately discontinued, or that address the issues that surround Investigations.  
  • No information is given about the actual "transitional plan" that impacted students will be switching to, let alone a long term, permanent plan on dealing with the potential harm that Agile Minds has caused. 
  • There are no slides that address the inability to effectively differentiate with Agile Minds, or that explain (as we have heard from parents and teachers who have pushed for more information) that the inability to effectively differentiate is the primary reason why Agile Minds will be discontinued, since it obviously doesn't work in the Inclusive Classroom model Dr. Schneider has been pushing for in the Learning for All Plan.  
  • No explanation is given as to how the Math Committee could have selected a program to pilot without realizing that the teachers would be unable to effectively differentiate instruction with it.  How could this have been overlooked by the Math Committee or Dr. Schneider?  
  • Moreover,  no performance data is presented at all that shows that anyone in the Department of Learning has conducted any type of performance data collection and analysis as part of their assessment of any of the four pilots.  
  • Most importantly, there is no acknowledgement or assumption of responsibility by Dr. Schneider or any of the administrators that he oversees, that the selection and implementation of Agile Minds, and perhaps Investigations, was a mistake that should have and could have been avoided.  

No, instead of presenting a slide that shows who should be held accountable for the current math debacle, we are presented with Slide 41, a slide whose clear purpose is to deflect responsibility for this latest curriculum debacle away from Dr. Schneider and place all of the blame on past administrative turnover. What other purpose could possibly be intended by a slide that reminds the community that in the last 10 years,  D181 has had 5 superintendents, 5 assistant superintendents of curriculum and 23 principals.

What the slide neglects to remind the community is that the current curriculum mess is the direct consequence of the last three Assistant Superintendents of Curriculum/Learning, all of whom had never held that title before in any other district, were untrained and unqualified to assume all of the roles and responsibilities that go along with that job title and who used D181 to learn "on the job."

As we have said in earlier posts, D181 has become a starter district for administrators, rather than a coveted, well earned step up from less prestigious and lower performing school districts.  And such hires/promotions, the last two (Russell and Schneider) made by former Superintendent Schuster, have hurt our children.  Not to mention, as we have said before, that meaningful data analysis has been nonexistent due to the last two Assessment Directors' lack of training, experience and qualifications to do that job.  Again, those two directors (Dr. Russell, before his promotion to Assistant Superintendent, and Ms. Benaitis) were promoted by Dr. Schuster.

But that is NO EXCUSE for the math and curriculum mess the district now finds itself in. Even if there has been turnover, the current Assistant Superintendent of Learning, Dr. Schneider,  is in fact the person who brought the Learning for All Plan model to the district. He has been here over two years and cannot hide behind the coat tails of his predecessors. Nor should Dr. White allow it.

So we go back to the title of this post and say the following:


So we end by referencing the bubble chart (above) that we have created on the "Schneider Era."  As you read through the Math Pilot power point, consider adding our bubble chart as page 44, since the  bubbles we include are all part of this "Era" and we are still waiting for the administration to answer the following questions:

  • The Learning for All Plan:  What does it even mean anymore? How has it morphed  since the BOE approved it in 2012-2013?  Why didn't the administration seek Board approval of the most recent changes?  Why hasn't the BOE asked the administration for an explanation?
  • The Disasters:  Acceleration for All, Third and Fourth Grade Math Compacting, Math Pilots: According to the administration's last presentation to the BOE in September, Acceleration for All is no longer the norm model of instruction, even though this was the ultimate goal of the Learning for All Plan.  Why not? Was it because this model had disastrous results for the third and fourth grade classes that were forced to learn compacted math in an Inclusive Classroom?  What about the disastrous results of at least one, maybe two or more of the Math Pilots?  What data analysis has the administration conducted or discussed with the Board and Community to explain these disasters?
  • Raise the Floor to Raise the Ceiling.  Has this mantra that Dr. Schneider repeatedly preached to the D181 community actually happened?  The data we have looked at does not support this conclusion.  What of the administration's data analysis?  Oh yeah, there isn't one.  We are still waiting for it.
  • Going Deeper:  This is one of the Common Core Standards that all Illinois Districts must implement.  With so many disasters burying our children's curriculum, how can anyone trust that the Department of Learning has any understanding or ability to get this one right?

All D181 students, teachers, parents and community members have a right to expect a bang for every tax dollar spent on our student's curriculum and instruction.  We are all intelligent and know that we should see positive returns on our investments.  If we are paying top dollar to administrators and giving them generous raises (as our earlier posts have established), we expect them to choose, implement and monitor successful curriculum programs. We expect them to conduct continuous analysis of performance data to show whether the programs they are implementing are ensuring that every one of our children meets their academic growth targets and not stagnate.  Any administrator who refuses, is unable or fails to successfully implement curriculum programs or present meaningful, data driven reports to the BOE, must be held accountable.  The community has been more than patient waiting for the Department of Learning to get it right.  We have heard enough excuses and are fed up with the continuous obfuscation tactics.  We have had enough history lessons.  We have had enough delay in collecting, analyzing the data needed to answer all of the questions that board members and concerned parents have been asking.

It is time for answers and accountability. Will the board members demand it, especially those, such as Mr. Turek, who we believe plan to seek reelection next Spring?  Will Dr. White agree to hold someone accountable? Or will the D181 administration and BOE continue to play us all for fools?

Please attend the Board meeting on October 27 and demand answers.  The meeting will be held at Elm School starting at 7 pm.  The Math Pilot is scheduled for discussion at the beginning of the meeting right after Public Comment.  If you have concerns about your child's current or future math education, this is the meeting to attend.

Dr. White's Letter to Parents:

"Dear D181 Families,

In the fall of 2013, District 181 embarked on a five-year curriculum renewal cycle for mathematics. In year one(2013-14 school year), the Math Committee worked to research best practices, gain a deep understanding of the Common Core, develop a philosophy statement, and write curriculum aligned to the new standards. In the spring of 2014, the Math Committee completed the last phase of year one by recommending materials to be piloted for the first semester of the 2014-15 school year. Since the start of this year, most schools and most grade levels have been participating in the math materials pilot, as noted in the charts below. I want to express gratitude to the Math Committee, pilot teachers, the Department of Learning, principals, and our District families – we are all partners in making this important process a success for students.

As our team of administrators has shared at recent Board meetings, we are seeking a resource that provides a strong foundation in fluency, conceptual understanding, procedural knowledge, and application, while also providing an instructional base that is grounded in the Eight Mathematical Practices. In addition, the chosen resource must provide tools for teachers to differentiate based on the needs of students, provide rigor in both instruction and homework, and allow teachers to follow the District’s implementation of the Common Core Standards.

Pilot Update

Since the start of the pilot, the Department of Learning has been in contact with members of the Math Committee and participating pilot teachers. The input from teachers has been that they have learned a lot from their participation in the pilot and, in general, they believe that this process has afforded them the opportunity to learn new ideas and methods for providing rigorous instruction. These conversations have also included the identification of strengths and weaknesses for each of the resources being piloted. This is no surprise as we have always known and communicated that there is no perfect resource on the market and that we may need to use supplemental resources to best meet the needs of all learners. In particular, concerns have risen about two of the four material sets – Investigations (K-5) and Agile Mind (6-8). Some anecdotal feedback received from parents has indicated concern with these two material sets, as well.

The problems that are surfacing relate to our need for the materials to support both conceptual understanding and procedural knowledge throughout all grades (K-5 and 6-8). The concern is very clear for Agile Mind, but it is not as clear for Investigations and additional input from teachers is necessary. In the end, we may conclude that one or more of the current pilot resources may work as a supplemental resource, but we may not select them as an appropriate primary resource moving forward.

As we have always said, it is important that we give materials enough time to be thoughtfully considered and at the same time be willing to shift our initial plan if materials are clearly not meeting expectations. Over the last two weeks, the Department of Learning has been meeting with administrators, committee members, and the pilot teachers to discuss their concerns and consider a plan of action moving forward. These conversations have allowed us to conclude that we will stop the Agile Mind pilot, and we see a need to give Investigations more time before concluding that it can serve as a primary resource for our district.

Next Steps
At this time, we are tentatively planning to continue the pilot of Math in Focus (K-5), Investigations (K-5), and Big Ideas (6-8) for the schools and grade levels that have been using those materials. Given the current input from the professionals who designed the process and selected the materials for the pilot, it would be premature to stop the pilot of these materials. In addition, stopping the pilot for the three previously mentioned resources does not demonstrate respect for the learning, committee work, and student growth the teachers feel is being made at this time.

For the HMS classes that have been using Agile Mind, we will be developing a materials transition plan that may include a hybrid of Glencoe materials, the pilot materials, and other resources. This decision will be made in the coming week or so and will be based on the standards scope and sequence. For those HMS families with a child in a class participating in the pilot, please stay tuned for further information from Mr. Peña and/or your child’s teacher about the materials transition.

All students, regardless of materials, need to continue on a learning path that includes exposure to the same topics as all other grade level peers. We want all students to have equitable learning opportunities over the course of the school year.

Our team will continue their discussion and finalize the HMS materials transition plan to be presented as part of a Department of Learning report during the October 27, 2014 Board meeting. Please note that we are still planning to conduct teacher and parent surveys at the end of the pilot for the materials that will continue.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher if you have any questions or concerns.


Don White, Ph.D."


Anonymous said...

Completely agree, bloggers! I was hoping (naively) for a substantive presentation on the math pilot. Instead, the administration posts an insulting and completely irrelevant presentation. I am so tired of these presentations. I thought everyone told Dr. White to knock it off with these types of presentations.

If our children prepared one of these presentations for their Language Arts or Social Studies class, they would receive a miserable grade and yet we have highly compensated administrators preparing this garbage for the BOE and community?

I don't need them to reiterate the history of the Learning for All Plan (my children have experienced that stupid plan first hand). I think it's completely ridiculous that they are trying to blame it all on Schuster, Moon, and BOE approval of said stupid plan.

Right now, I want transparency about the math pilot. No more smoke and mirrors. What are we doing at HMS about Agile Minds, how will Big Ideas be evaluated at CHMS, what will happen at the elementary schools, etc. How did Agile Minds get chosen when it doesn't fit our district's student demographic? And I want to know what is going to happen in January and I don't want to hear the word "collaborative" any more. Pilot supposedly ends in December. Does that mean my child will not have a math resource to use until the Department of Learning and Math Committee collaboratively meet in January, prepare some ridiculous presentation and then present it to the BOE at some point for a "collaborative" decision?

Enough is enough! I was so hopeful when Schuster resigned, but now I think our district and most importantly, our children's education is still in trouble.

Anonymous said...

Were is the science isat data we were promised? Were is the comprehensive learning vision regarding math that was promised? No questions relating to acceleration or differentiation were answered. But I bet the good old boys on the boe will pat admin on the back. They do this because there is no accountability.

Anonymous said...

Where is the inclusive philosophy presentation as promised by White? Where is the proof it is working? Answer: there is no proof, and Schneider doesn't want to put himself on the line to explain why his full inclusion model has been a disaster.
I have seen enough to know neither one of these guys should be working in D181. But come Monday, Turek (who wants to run again for the board), Clueless Clarin, and Nodding Off Nelson will commend their kingmakers White and Schneider just as they did with Queen Schuster.

Anonymous said...

Who is going to come up with the HMS Agile Mind "transition plan" and how did this plan ever pass scrutiny by the math committee. Even the research on the D181 website makes clear that it was never appropriate for our district. Are the same people who allowed this program in our schools also going to be creating the transition plan?

Anonymous said...

Inclusion means less time for all students with teachers. It has never been shown to be successful in any district like 181. Quintile data shows that the top group of students have grown the least out of all groups in almost all grades and in both reading and math, That's because no one in the administration has considered their learning needs for 3 years.

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard one parent ask the adminstration and BOE for inclusive classrooms.

Don't the taxpayers get any say in this?

The adminstration has clearly insulted us with the lack of data presented regarding the math pilots and many, many of the other programs. Basically, they do whatever they want.

Anonymous said...

I want my child to receive the same excellent math curriclum that his older sister received.

Start teaching Glencoe math as if it was the first day of the school year! How difficult is that?

Don't waste another month with "transistion materials, pilot materials, and other resources". Are you kidding me? I'm so glad the teachers feel the pilot was beneficial for them-IT WASN"T FOR MY CHILD!

We demand more than..."stay tuned..."

Adminstration-we don't trust you. sad.

jay_wick said...

Hey folks, COULD YOU PLEASE do something to try and differentiate yourselves?

How hard would it be to use a unique signature line or sign-up for a account with a "throw away" email address or SOMETHING?

If any parents really want to effect change you are going to have to take some cues from the relative success of parents in preventing a strike in D86. The sad fact is the "squeaky wheel" method is still the most effective way to get BOE members to act. When those "squeaky wheels" include DADS that don't generally show up the record of change is far greater than when it is just the same old concerned parents & community members.

It does not take a whole lot of insight to realize that incompetent BOE members and district staff thrive in the environment of apathy & complacency that is all too common in both D181 & D86. How different things might be if more folks invested time on a regular basis to understand what sorts of buffoonery has become standard operating procedures...

The long history of our district's disjointed approach to mathematics instruction can be blamed on turnover of staff OR it can be blamed on BOE members more concerned with moms relating stories of kids weeping over being in "dumb math" than articulating any coherent philosophical underpinnings to guide curricular choice.

Worse, under the current district staff, if the data were to show that tiers were more effective in appropriately assisting all students to achieve growth and mastery their is little reason to trust that administrators with an alternative political agenda would do other than obscure such information in an attempt to keep their own lucrative road-show of consulting appearances alive.

This lack of trust is especially troubling for a content area in which objective data is generally so readily available.

Given that Dr. White has been instructed to contract for a comprehensive facilities report, where subjective assessments of "functional obsolesce" will no doubt be open for debate, it is especially troubling to see district staff obscuring information to suit their own aims. The ensuing fracas when hugely expensive and green-space destroying building plans are proposed will not be pleasant...

In some ways these events could not be happening at a worse point in time -- parents and community members that have seen the deception of the D86 BOE are primed to sniff out similar prevarication being allowed under D181's BOE lack of attentiveness.

My sense is that community members and parents that have been freed-up from witnessing the circus being orchestrated by "ring masters" Ed, Rick, Claudia et al will now be more able to pick apart the sham that Marty allows Kurt to get away with...

HMS Parent said...

What is particularly disappointing about the 43 slide power point is that it's vagaries stand in stark contrast to the very detailed, narrative form reports for Monday's board meeting submitted to by other D181 administrators, in particular Dr. White's hires from his old district. It is clear that Dr. White has set high expectations and standards for his former and now current employees. Why isn't he applying those same standards and expectations to Schuster's hires? The power point is down right embarrassing. Dr. White should be embarrassed. The board should be embarrassed. If Smarty Marty says "I commend the administration" or "This is a great report" I am going to throw up.

HMS Parent said...

I meant vagueness, not vagaries in my last comment.

Anonymous said...

Now it is completely obvious why the Math Committee never posts their names. If I was responsible for that type of work product, I would hide my name too.

I can't stand hearing the word "collaborative" either! Parents were supposed to be included in the PROCESS - not simply hear the RESULTS. We have made our opinions and desires known for the last 3 years at meetings. We have talked to teachers and principals. Yet THIS is their idea of correcting the problems? Ridiculous books, combined with Schneider's one size fits all teaching methods = disaster in D181. And let's get this straight - elementary school children ARE NOT mentally or developmentally mature enough to suddenly be BURDENED with teaching the slower learners in the class. They are there to learn, not to pretend to be teachers aides. Whose idea of cost cutting is this? I am horrified that this is occurring. "Slower learners" in this pilot at Madison are already lashing out at their "tutors"- probably in embarrassment. Can you blame them? Put yourself in the place of person who needs help in a core subject. Peer teaching may be OK in college, or with very mature high school seniors, but it is not OK in elementary or middle school.

Instead of getting appropriately leveled materials, or receiving the help of an experienced adult, our children are told by their teachers to listen to their 9 year old classmates boss them around!! No matter how much SELAS you do - this age group of children are simply not capable of doing this. It is hard enough for most TEACHERS to teach effectively, so why do some 4th grade teachers expecting our children to? What's next, professional development days for K-5th graders to learn how to teach better? Do they get Professional Development Units to apply to their college transcripts for this? Just because clueless Schneider and Benaitis told teachers to do this in Math is not reason enough to make it work. Shame on the administration and Math Committee for allowing this.

What an embarrassing and atrocious waste of time, money, and resources.

D181 Taxpayer said...

I would like to defend the teachers who worked on the math committee. No doubt they had the best intentions when they participated in the curriculum renewal process. The problem isn't with the teachers. The problem is with the administrators who were and continue to be unqualified to lead the teachers or direct a curriculum renewal process. Let's not forget, when the committee first started, they were led by Ms. Igoe, a SPED administrator. Where was the administrative expertise in curriculum or math? There was no one in the administration qualified to run the curriculum department. There still isn't. Please Dr. White, for the sake of our children, clean house! If you are going to spend my hard earned tax dollars, hire someone who has proven that he/she has the expertise and experience to run curriculum and guide teachers who serve on these important committees. If you won't do that, then please explain to all D181 taxpayers why you think that Dr. Schneider is qualified to run the curriculum department, why his promotion and consolidation of SPED with CURRICULUM wasn't just the easy and cheapest avenue to allow you to create new non-curriculum administrative positions and bring your former district administrators to D181.

Anonymous said...

8:01 - SAY WHAT? You mean D181 doesn't have an Asst. Superintendent of Special Education dedicated exclusively to oversee SPED anymore? D181 must be the only district in the area dumb enough to consolidate SPED and Curriculum. There isn't an administrator out there who has enough time to run both departments. What was Dr. White thinking? Did he really consolidate those departments to free up tax dollars to hire administrators from his old district? And the BOE went along with this? Was Turek board president when this decision was made? And he wants to run for a second term? Well, I may not be able to control what Dr. White does, but I sure can control my vote and it will not be a vote cast for that idiot.

Anonymous said...

To 8:09: yes, White combined Kevin Russell's former position with Kurt Schneider's position so Schneider's in charge of both curriculum AND SpEd. This happened at the July 8th board meeting. The new organization chart can be seen here:$file/2014_07_08_D181_Org_Chart.pdf

Just look on BoardDocs for the July 8th meeting, under Personnel.

Anonymous said...

My only question for tonight's meeting is: Will Smarty Marty be a "dummy" again?

Anonymous said...

Is Dr. White really going to let Dr. Schneider waste everyone's time tonight explaining 30 "historical slides" before he even says the words "Math Pilot?" That better not happen or the audience may revolt.

The Parents said...

We thought we'd remind our readers of earlier posts dealing with the "On the Job Trainees" who were on the Math Committee and ran/are running the Department of Learning......

Anonymous said...

Looking at slide 4 or 5 (can't remember)-titled Timeline of D181 Rankings by subject-why would our administators take a gamble and choose something other than Glencoe? First, they haven't purchased any of Glencoe's new materials, and secondly-this curriculum has served our district very, very well. If they make a change, our BOE and parents need to demand some REAL data-for instance-what top tier schools are using X? how long? what is the difference in performance comparing the new math and the old curriculum. Sure EDM has issues, but no program is complete. We should have been given a list of what math curriculum resources the top districts are using (and how long-very important). Once again-we aren't stupid-but the administration etc. continues to treat us as such.

Anonymous said...

The administration and BOE treats parents like we're stupid all the while they pronote and praise Kurt Schneider, the whipping boy of LFA and this ridiculous math pilot. This is an administratior who now earns big bucks who has NEVER taught elementary kids, let alone select curriculum. And what does Don White do within his first month as a superintendent? Promote Schneider and give him even more responsibility? Who's nuts here?
Within thes presentation slides are the seeds Schneider is tempting to plant to frame and put the blame on Schuster for this mess. But who is on the lecture circuit? Schneider.
Sorry, your smokescreen won't work with us, Schneider.

Anonymous said...

To 8:01, I agree that it isn't entirely the fault of teachers, and I understand that they fear for their jobs, but teachers need to understand that they played a role in this disaster, too. They are complicit. While the children of this district suffered as a result of their plan, and non math committee teachers were FORCED to implement the crazy ideas, the math committee earned extra money!

If anything, whoever was in charge of this committee should have had enough common sense to put the pilot on hold.

Poor decisions like this have happened so many times in the last few years, that I can't forgive it any more. I am fed up!

Did any of the teachers step forward to Dr. White with their concerns? Did they tell the BOE? They could have even written an ANONYMOUS post, the way the rest of us are. But none did. If they had, parents could have spoken up for them. No matter how guilty they feel, our kids have been hurt by their actions. We forgive you and know that they didn't want to have such a disaster, but what are teachers doing to NOW to correct it?

They need to fix it now. The BOE meeting deals with the Math Pilot tonight. Will ANY of them step up and apologize? Will they be honest with White and let him know who made them do this? They need to realize that good INTENTIONS are not good enough! Results count. And you only get good results when you are thorough and prepared!
If they truly had good intentions, now is the time to self reflect on how and why things went so poorly.

Anonymous said...

PowerPoint presentations are a crutch for the incompetent.

Regrettably, the only way the District chooses to communicate major decisions is through the use bullet points, sentence fragments and incomprehensible graphics.

I'd like to remind everyone that the Learning For All plan is nothing more than a set of PowerPoint slides! That is, the central document which outlines the District's philosophy and mode of teaching is nothing more than a series of disjointed phrases. You could probably count on one hand the number of actual complete sentences in the entire document.

The Learning For All Plan doesn't even have a single paragraph explaining why differentiation is preferred and no data to support its argument. No data!

I defy anyone to read that tripe and explain what it means or what will actually happen in the classroom on a day to day basis. The math pilot presentation is similarly deficient in its vagueness.

Why can't the District defend its decisions with a cogent argument supported by actual data? Most of us wouldn't even change our cell phone plans without proof that we were getting a better deal. Why, then, are we putting up with the unsupported pipe dreams of incompetent administrators who couldn't convince anyone that snow is white when it comes to the education of our children?

It's time to drop the pin sweeper and clean house. These fools have be let go.

jay_wick said...

I have to agree that presentations done with PowerPoint / Keynote are the last refuge of dolts and goldbrickers --

The truly magnificent masters of time wasting drivel will embed a video right into their demon-cursed stack of slides. Kudos to Board member Garg on stating her boredom at being forced to stay awake through something as devoid of hard data as your average political campaign advertisement! (Anybody else think that Helen Mirren sounds far smarter than Jane Fonda just because of the British accent? Think about it, if Brittany Spears read the same script as Professor Boaler it would sound a whole lot less authoritative... )

All that said, it seems very likely that Dr. White understands that when even Marty Turek wants to hold a staff member accountable for delivering "creative solutions" the BOE is unlikely to accept anymore efforts to kick this can down the road. My sense is that Dr. White wisely left just enough room for the "feedback from the teachers" to allow him to plan out something that won't leave too much egg on the face of any staff members -- like it or not the contracts that Schneider & Benaitis have won't open the "cancellation window" for many months and embarrassing these absentminded dullards would really do no good until they can be politely shown the door. Despite Kurt's feeble efforts to tie lack of administrative stability to incoherence in the curriculum, my gut still says Dr. White can see that some liabilities are best dealt with quietly...

Hard to fathom how BOE members and district staff that all seemed to be awake did not realize that back when Clarin and Vorobiev allegedly worked on getting the teachers to agree to in-service training that would NOT require late starts / early dismissal those of us that pay attention to such things thought the "problem" of insufficient hours to get staff up to speed was behind us -- D181 BOE & Teachers agree to contract |

When I checked, this was still LIVE on the District's web site -- District 181 and HCHTA Approve New Two-Year Contract| HEY PARENTS -- download and archive this thing BEFORE Kurt gets to the delete button!!

While I can't say that this was the worst BOE meeting I have attended, since I have had to endure a few doozies presided over by doctor "once again" Skoda, but in terms of substantive results I doubt any of the justifiably upset Madison parents felt good about the lack of resolution to their ongoing problems. That unsettled horde might just yield one or two folks concerned enough to take up the Caucus on their invitation that "we'll be interviewing prospective candidates through early November"...

Anonymous said...

Are we still in D181? Since when did all of our students become remedial? We seem to be continuing on the track to social justice. "Teaching mathematics and social justice: multidimensionality and responsibility". By Karin Brodie, Emily Shahan, Jo Boaler

From the link below:

"The teachers at Railside have developed an introductory algebra curriculum in order to
meet the needs of their students, many of whom had not been successful with more traditional
approaches in the past, and who enter the school with weak mathematical knowledge."

Also discovered the following about TERC Investigations:

"Peas and carrots, people. They are for eating. They -- and their cousins, feathers, feet, cookies, pizzas, marbles, buttons and boxes -- are lovely alongside a number sentence, but they should not be the primary means used to teach a child math."


On ability grouping and differentiation:

Setting the record straight on ability grouping:

"Unfortunately, despite overwhelming evidence that the flexible and appropriate use of this intervention benefits learners at all levels, some have opted to smear it as an evil twin of tracking and to lament its resurgence in the nation’s classrooms."

Maybe we need someone who is more open minded and actually knows what they are dealing with...

Anonymous said...

Please check out some of the 3rd party research for the math pilots on the D181 site. Especially AgileMind. I listed a few details on the most current blog topic. Completely makes me ask -

Is this still D181? Are 90% of our students qualifying for free reduced lunch? Are we a highly transitory group? -those are the types of schools that were listed as 3rd party research.

Anonymous said...

There needs to be accountability

jay_wick said...

The problem is worse than just comparing our district to an area where students "enter the school with weak mathematical knowledge" ...

There is a bit of ugly controversy around Professor Boaler's work at Railside and her disagreement with Professor Milgram.

The thing that makes this important in the context of Mathematics Education is that Professor Milgram was on the committee for Common Core Mathematics. He refused to sign off on the standards -- the letter is hosted on a site maintained by former Asst. Secretary of Education Ravitch who once supported Common Core but now warns of others of its failings James Milgram on Common Core Math

Professor Milgram has been outspoken about the error of setting too low a bar -- Can This Country Survive Common Core and Final Validation Report

The more troubling fact is Milgram has uncovered large inconsistencies in the data that Boaler relies upon and there are many controversies around the responses --

Boaler has her side of the story too --

How to weigh these claims?

Well, for Milgram, the bulk of his work is centered technical fields like topology and other cutting edge knowledge --

While Boaler relies a great deal on her academic work giving credence to her general parent-oriented publications --

Really I wish we would have never waded into this, and had our district staff done even a little bit of work to find less controversial figures to highlight in a video perhaps we could be more focused on things that have a higher likelihood of helping kids in our district...