Friday, November 21, 2014

"Daily Reason #4" Why Marty Turek Should NOT be Re-elected to the D181 BOE

#4: During his tenure on the BOE,  Mr. Turek approved Dawn Benaitis' promotion from principal of Monroe School to Director of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction in the Department of Learning.  He also approved her raises. As we previously reported, in less than three years (from 2012-2013 to the 2014-2015 school year), Benaitis' base salary increased 18.8% from $109,660 to $130,250. Further, despite community concerns regarding Ms. Benaitis, on May 29, 2014, Turek voted to approve a multi-year contract for her. (Sources: 3/18/13 Consent Agenda5/6/13 Consent Agenda3/24/14 Personnel consent agendaBenaitis Multi-year contract)  In our 6/4/14 Post we raised serious concerns about the multi-year contracts, including Benaitis', that Turek voted to approve on 5/29/14.  More on that tomorrow......Until then, in our opinion, Mr. Turek's votes to approve outrageous raises and promotions for Benaitis are further examples of poor leadership decisions that establish Turek's inability to act in the best interests of D181's students. 

Running List of the Daily Reasons:

Reason #1:  Four years ago the Hinsdale Caucus got it right when they did not endorse Mr. Turek.  

Reason #2:  As the board president for the last 2 years, Mr. Turek's job has been to preside over the board meetings, however, his actual authority during said meetings is no greater than the other six board members.  (Board Policy 2:110.) Rather than facilitate discussions during the meetings, listen to and take his fellow board members' opinions on issues into consideration, he has attacked them and tried to shut them down. Case in point, suggesting during the 12/9/13 board meeting that well respected Board Member Brendan Heneghan was going down a "rat hole" when he suggested there should be a curriculum committee similar to the finance committee. Less than one year later, a curriculum committee called the Learning Committee has been formed.  We guess Mr. Turek got it wrong when he called Mr. Heneghan out.

Reason #3: Mr. Turek failed to oppose Dr. White's promotion of Kurt Schneider into the position of SOLE Assistant Superintendent of Learning, on July 8, 2014 (or at any meeting since then). (Link to 7/8/14 Superintendent's report.)  Schneider is now responsible for both the curriculum and special education departments. In our opinion, D181's curriculum chaos is the direct result of the lack of true leadership in the Department of Learning and Mr. Turek's support of poor leadership decisions evidences his inability to act in the best interests of D181's students.  We would be remiss in failing to point out that one reason Mr. Turek failed to publicly oppose Dr. White's critical organizational change in the Learning Department was because he did not even attend the 7/8/14 board meeting, the only board meeting scheduled last July.  


Anonymous said...

Just a question - I understand your concerns, but wonder why you are singling out Mr. Turek for decisions made by a board of seven people? The consent agendas that you referenced show that these items were approved, not that he specifically voted for them while others voted against them. Similarly, with respect to Dr. Schneider's promotion - this was approved by the entire board. I guess I am not understanding why you don't hold the entire board accountable for these decisions, or do you have specific proof that Mr. Turek made these decisions by himself?

The Parents said...

11:29 We are singling Mr.Turek out because he is the board member seeking re-election and we take issue with decisions, votes and positions he has taken in his first term. If you have read our blog, you will see that in the past, we have called out individual, group or all board members depending on the issue. Had the caucus endorsed any other sitting board member for reelection, they too might have been included in the recent posts, if they too voted as Mr.Turek had or been absent from critical meetings as Mr.Turek had. We oppose Mr. Turek for reelection and are providing our readers with a list of reasons.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the bloggers. The whole blog calls out the entire board or parts of the board at times. But their new series is about one candidate. This is Just like commercials that run on television that oppose candidates running for office. If it's an incumbent for senate, for example, he/she doesn't pass laws by themselves, but are part of the larger group. But when he/she runs for reelection, it is fair game to point out how he/she voted on issues, etc. I, for one, am glad the bloggers are reminding the community of actions Turek took in the last 4 years. They are not calling him names; each one of their reasons is supported with a factual basis and then they are opining. He is running for elected office. Voters have a right to review his record before they simply give him the nod back into his board seat. I also hope Ms. Blumberg-Kason runs for the board. I feel terrible that she has demeaned herself by suggesting she isn't qualified. Says who? A caucus of 8 people? A caucus that should have had 14 members? So somehow just because you have 8 people saying you are qualified, those they don't select for endorsement are not qualified? THAT is nuts! And so untrue. If any of the people who went through the caucus and weren't endorsed are reading this, please decide to run as independents. The district needs you to make this a fair and informed election. Without a contested election, there will be little coverage, if any, on the positions of the candidates, there will be no debates and there will be inherent validation that the caucus continues to work, when it obviously no longer does when it endorses an incumbent in the face of his poor record. I know 2 of the other 3 candidates the caucus endorsed. They are extremely qualified and I hope they win, but I still want to hear what they say on the issues and compare them to the other candidates. That is how politics work, even if the politicians are volunteers.

Anonymous said...

I understand 11:29's point. As a parent who has seen the level of professionalism and quality of programs and materials diminish significantly over the last 5 years, it has been disturbing to see so many unanimous votes supporting our administrators. Although the BOE may think it is reassuring to the community to see such shows of unanimous faith in our administration, it is actually very frightening. Frightening in that serious problems, like poorly conceived expensive math pilots, poor preparation and implementation of materials for the common core, wasteful subs expenses, etc...are not being addressed. Why?

The fact that only one or two board members ever have questions also tells me that most of them are unprepared. Some members' blithe, dismissive attitudes tell me that they really are not there to improve the district. They are only serving on the board to maintain an appearance of stability and, perhaps, add a feather to their cap. Some are only there to further their political careers or keep taxes down. They are all there for different reasons, so why are their votes always the same? Are differences of opinions not tolerated?

What I have noticed, time after time from Turek and Clarin, is that their questions are usually retorts to real parent concerns, phrased in question form. For example: "Dr. White, our administrators are doing well, right?" " No children are being hurt, are they?", or " Parents questions have been addressed, right?". This type of question is laughable! It simply shows their superficial level of understanding of the issues. Besides Turek, I find Clarin to be the most blatantly anti-child member of the board. Remember last year, when he said he went on a tour of one of our elementary schools and said something to the effect of, " I could see that all children were learning." Without any education training or assessment afterwards, it is impossible to gauge this. It is about as logical as me going to a construction site and saying, "It is apparent that this structure has been built to the highest standards." If I have no construction experience or training, how in the world world would I know!!!

Since his wife is a teacher in our district, he clearly is pro teacher. His statements advising parents to "Leave the teaching to the professionals" support this. I am sure his vote for the teachers contract supported them, too. I don't believe I have ever heard him question anything the administration has ever done, except for at the last board meeting when he admitted that the district's costs for subs were too high. Although he had a good point, it was probably because his wife is not a sub.

As president of the BOE, Marty sets the tone and dominates the way the meeting is run. He never points out that many of other board member's questions have not been appropriately answered, or asks more probing questions. At the last meeting, we all heard him warn a parent to not go over the 3 minute time allotment before the man even started speaking! How rude and arrogant! He gets to chat meaninglessly throughout the whole meeting, yet parents cannot be given the common courtesy of a few seconds. Hilarious that he so adamantly protects the time limit policy, yet has no problem violating many other board polices!

So while it isn't all completely Turek's fault that things are heading downhill this last 5 years, as president, he should bear the brunt of the blame.

Middle School Parent