Thursday, January 15, 2015

D181 Board is Buffaloed and Bamboozled By White/Schneider's Babbling Bull-pocky on the Learning For All Plan

(Image copied from Wikipedia.)
Monday's board meeting was a complete disgrace. It made us think that we were living in an episode of the Twilight Zone. We begin this post by publishing a comment we received yesterday from a community member who listened to the meeting.  It accurately describes the discussion surrounding when the administration will provide the board with the "Seminal Document" on the Learning for All Plan.

‪"Anonymous said...
‬I encourage all stakeholders - including the administration and BOE - to read this powerful and important article that was recently published in education week.

It is especially important to read this article after the fiasco of last night's board meeting. At the previous BOE meeting we made real progress. The BOE directed the administration to create a seminal document stating what L4A is, what it means at each grade level, and get down to specifics at the micro level. Mr. Nelson eloquently said "shame on us" for not getting past the macro level in 3 years time. There was agreement to make the L4A exercise 2 steps - not 3 - because we did not need another macro level presentation on learning for all.

Well, it seems like that meeting never happened. Suddenly, there is no need to create a seminal document. According to Mr. Clarin and Dr. Schneider, it already exists. Also, the L4A review will be 3 steps with the first one being a macro overview. Mr. Turek thinks that is important because the public needs to be "socialized" to the plan. We do not need to be "socialized" Mr. Turek! We have lived this plan for 3 years and it is a failure. Show us quantitative proof that it is working! And for that matter - what is it? It used to be grade compacting and acceleration. Now is it "going deeper"? Inclusion? Push ins only? Differentiation via technology? Everything under the sky you want to justify?

I was so disappointed last night. Dr. White and Dr. Schneider, along with the BOE majority, have once again failed this community. April cannot come fast enough. Time to spring clean this house.
January 13, 2015 at 8:46 AM"

We also listened to the board meeting on Monday, and then again yesterday via podcast, because we were quite shocked to hear the discussion on the "Seminal Document" and wanted to make sure we hadn't misheard anything. As we pointed out in our last post, in Monday's board questions, Mr. Heneghan asked the administration when the "Seminal Document" would be ready and reminded the administration that the board's December directive did not align with the 3 months of meetings Dr. White's report was suggesting take place. Dr. White's response did not provide Mr. Heneghan with a date certain when the document would be ready, however, nowhere in his answer, did he suggest that a document already exists. In fact, as Dr. White's (or more likely, Dr. Schneider's) written answer stated: "The administration is in the process of crafting a document....." (See Board Member Questions.)

So what exactly were Mr. Clarin and Dr. Schneider referring to during the meeting, when suddenly Mr. Clarin insisted that a document exists and he has seen it during a meeting he had at some point in time with Dr. Schneider? Mr. Clarin was quite insistent that the "Seminal Document" already exists, unless -- as he suggested -- he has been "buffaloed."  

Well, Mr. Clarin, may we suggest that is exactly what has happened. In our opinion, you and every single board member, community member, teacher, student and taxpayer have been -- and continue to be -- buffaloed and bamboozled by Dr. Schneider's Learning for All Plan. 

There is NO SINGLE "SEMINAL DOCUMENT" that sets out what LFA means. There never was, and all of the individual power points, charts, "action plans" etc that the administration has churned out in the last three years do not constitute a "SEMINAL DOCUMENT." All of those individual documents are moot now anyway, since over the last 3 years, the LFA has not only morphed repeatedly in name, but also in content. It doesn't even remotely look like  the original "vision" Dr. Schneider and company sold to the board several years ago. There is no more compacting of math. There is no real differentiation in the classrooms so that each child learns at his/her level. There is no more math acceleration for all. And that is just the math program. There is no road map -- as Mr. Nelson has pointed out at meetings last year -- meetings that he managed to attend on rare occasion.  

Instead, the LFA Plan has turned out to be nothing but a house of cards. Over the last three year, one card after another has been pulled out of the house,  leaving at best a faltering framework for inclusive classrooms. Time and again, Mr. Heneghan and Ms. Garg have asked for clarification, information and quantitative data on the state of the LFA plan.  Time and again, they have been ignored or essentially accused of being trouble makers.  Finally last month, they did not stand alone.  They were supported in their demands for information by Mr. Clarin, Ms. Vorobiev and Mr. Nelson.  

SO WHAT HAPPENED between last month and the January 12 meeting?

We noticed a lack of response from Ms. Vorobiev on the issue of the "Seminal Document."  Why?  

Mr. Nelson was absent, again.  We won't even ask why.

And Mr. Clarin babbled on about seeing THE DOCUMENT.  

Dr. Schneider who sat mute at the December meeting, found his voice and agreed with Mr. Clarin .

SO WE ASK -- what document are they talking about?  And if there is a "Seminal Document" then why did Dr. White say one is being "crafted."  Why hasn't it been turned over to Mr. Heneghan?  Why hasn't it been spotlighted on the District website as the "Seminal Document?"

Why?  Because it doesn't exist and it doesn't matter how many times Dr. Schneider and Mr. Clarin suggest that it does.  It is imaginary!  Just like the Emperor's New Clothes!

Dr. White is the district's New Emperor.  Has he really bought into this drivel? Does he really think the clothes exist?  Well, we are not falling for this bull-pocky.  We are fed up with all of the bull-pocky that the administration has been slinging at our children for the last three years.  

We will say it again and again and again: April 7th can't come soon enough. Time for the community to vote out those who are not engaged the way they should be and elect a new board majority that will demand answers and accountability.


Anonymous said...

Well said bloggers. I wish we never brought our children to this community.

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! Everyone needs to read the Education Week article!!!!

Loved this part:

"It seems to me that the only educators who assert that differentiation is doable are those who have never tried to implement it themselves: university professors, curriculum coordinators, and school principals. It's the in-the-trenches educators who know the stark reality: Differentiation is a cheap way out for school districts to pay lip service to those who demand that each child be educated to his or her fullest potential."

Sound familiar......

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Why such a cover up on the part of the administration? Can't they see that they are contributing to their own demise? So disappointing to see school officials lie and act unethically.

Anonymous said...

I just read the education weekly article and I agree that it is a must read.

This part resonated with me: "The sad truth is this: By having dismantled many of the provisions we used to offer to kids on the edges of learning (classes for gifted kids, classes for kids who struggle to learn, and classes for those whose behaviors are disruptive to the learning process of others), we have sacrificed the learning of virtually every student. In the same Fordham Institute report cited earlier, 71 percent of teachers reported that they would like to see our nation rely more heavily on homogeneous grouping of advanced students, while a resounding 77 percent of teachers said that, when advanced students are paired with lower-achieving students for group assignments, it's the smart kids who do the bulk of the work ......Differentiation might have a chance to work if we are willing, as a nation, to return to the days when students of similar abilities were placed in classes with other students whose learning needs paralleled their own. Until that time, differentiation will continue to be what it has become: a losing proposition for both students and teachers, and yet one more panacea that did not pan out."

HMS Parent said...

What does seminal mean anyway? Looked it up and it has 2 meanings: 1. adjective -- containing seeds of later development, 2. adjective pertaining to or containing or consisting of semen.

Obviously, the first definition is the one used to describe the "Seminal" Learning for All document Dr. White referenced in December and that was further discussed at Monday's meeting. The definition alone proves that it can't refer to any EXISTING document that Clarin or Schneider insisted already exists since no documents have been developed since all of the changes to the LFA were made over the last couple of years. Just further proof that Clarin was buffaloed and Schneider continues to try and bamboozle the community.

Anonymous said...

Since our childrens' educations have been screwed, perhaps it does refer to the second definition. But seriously, in reference to a written document of what the Learning for All plan was, the BOE didn't ask for the "seeds of later development". They, teachers and parents, asked for explicit descriptions and specific guidelines about exactly what services will be offered to ALL children in a fair and consistent manner across all schools in this plan. What ARE the cut off points and rationales for some students receiving differentiation? And WHAT exactly are these services? It seems as though kids from certain schools have easier access to services, while others are kept completely in the dark. Without fair cut offs and assessments, everything is left to the subjective and often biased opinion of teachers or perhaps parents.

Why can parents opt their children into any middle school class they chose, yet they cannot opt in to the advanced classes offered to select students in 1st grade? If subjective data from nationaly recognized assessments are not used to help determine placement, this process will always be unprofessional and biased.

I am sick of this Learning for None program and am convinced the district is promoting it as a way to cut services for our children.

The Parents said...

It is our understanding that Individual parents met with Dr. White last summer after he started his job. These parents expressed their concerns with the L4A plan. He told at least one that the first thing he needed to do was understand what it all meant, and unfortunately there was no single document that explained it. Did Dr. White ask Dr. Schneider or anyone in the Dept. of Learning to prepare a summary report for him? Shouldn't he have done that as a first step? Dr. White has been here 7 1/2 months. By now he should personally understand all components of the L4A plan, and any assignments he gave the curriculum administrators to help him understand it should have been completed. If not, these Dept. of Learning administrators should all be fired. If he doesn't do that, the board should ask Dr. White why he is not holding his administrators accountable. How much more time will be wasted during our children's precious 9 years in the district? For some children, more than one third of their elementary and middle school education has been squandered as they wait for the Dept. of Learning to get their act together and as they suffer through the consequences of the ever changing L4A model. How can Dr. White allow this to drag on for another three months or longer?

12 year D181 parent said...

Here's another word to throw into the mix: mind-boggling. It is mind-boggling how our entire community has been buffaloed and bamboozled by the L4A plan and the Dept. of Learning administrators. We are a community of highly intelligent and high achieving parents. How could this have happened? Most parents moved here for "the schools." We all were told by our friends, neighbors, realtors that D181 was an outstanding school district, equal to or better than the north shore schools. We bought these representations and then bought our homes, moved in, and just assumed we'd found nirvana for our kids' education. Complacency set in. We are as much at fault for letting this happen as the administrators who have pursued their own agendas and have made our kids guinea pigs for social and educational experimentation on their quest for personal national recognition. But it is not too late to dig out from the giant pile of bull-pocky (love that word bloggers!) that they have shoveled, burying our kid in toxic waste. First, we need to change the makeup of the board. I 100% support the bloggers push to broom Turek out of office. He must not be reelected. I plan to vote for Gray, Burns, Czerwiec and Giltner on April 7. I encourage everyone to vote for them as well. Then once they are elected, we can only hope they will demand accountability and direct Dr. White to change the Dept. of Learning leadership or hit the road himself. We need to rescue our kids and the first step starts on April 7.