As everyone should (but may not) know, Part 1 of the Department of Learning's attempt to "socialize" (Mr. Turek's words, not ours) the community on the Learning for All Plan takes place tonight at the BOE meeting. The meeting will be held at Elm School immediately after an Ambassadors of Excellence Awards presentation at 6:45 a.m. We hope that parents who attend the awards assembly will come in pairs and that at least one parent will stay to hear the Learning For All presentation. Vigilance and attention are needed now more than ever, since it is our opinion that the presentation and questions (or lack thereof) by certain board members will be quite revealing into the current state of our children's curriculum model.
Board docs posted on Saturday morning (Click to open link). The agenda includes a partial document called "The Learning for All Plan." (Click to open the document.) It is 32 pages long and we encourage every single parent in D181 to read it. We did and were very disappointed its brevity, content and what it reveals about the continuing direction Dr. Schneider is leading the district.
The purpose of this post is not to summarize the report, since we don't want to do Mr. Turek's homework for him (in case he waits until today at work to read the report). We will wait to hear the formal administrative presentation tonight and listen to the spin we expect from certain board members. Instead, the purpose of this post is to point out what appears to be missing from the report. We hope that more than two board members -- Heneghan and Garg -- express their dismay and concern with the content of the report. They should, but we doubt that they will. Our expectation (and we hope we are proven wrong) is that Mr. Turek and his minions (Yaeger, Clarin, Nelson and perhaps Vorobiev) will simply glorify and praise the report, doing the Happy Happy Joy dance at the expense (once again) of our children.
What is missing:
1. Professional documents that cite to authority should actually cite to sources by name, author and page number. They don't just slap a list of authorities at the end of the document. If our students did that in a school report (certainly by the time they get to high school) they would receive a poor, if not failing, grade. So why didn't the administrators who wrote the report on board docs take the time to do this? It was our understanding that the document presented tonight would include definitions on key terms used over the last few years in connection with the Advanced Learning Plan/Learning for All Plan, terms which should reflect best practices, since Dr. Schneider and the other Dept. of Learning administrators have repeatedly stated that everything they have done to the curriculum model follows best practices. In our opinion, the report should have cited a specific authority for each key term and concept the administration claims has or will be implemented in our district. Even the quotes from sources they do copy into the report (see, for example, the quotes that appear on pp. 13 and 14 dealing with Collaboration Time) have no citations to which of the specific authorities listed at the end of the document they come from. Such sloppiness should not be tolerated by the BOE. The full board should direct Dr. Schneider to revise the report.
2. The list of definitions in the report should have been fully "inclusive." No pun intended, but since the words "inclusive" and "inclusion" have been used by the administration time and again over the last three years to describe parts of the ever-morphing Learning for All Plan, it was quite surprising that this word does not appear in the list and definitions of "Terms"(see pages 7-9). Why were these terms excluded?
3. Similarly, the word "heterogeneous" is not on the list. That is another term that has been used over and over again by the Dept. of Learning over the last few years -- including in the first PowerPoint they presented to the board in December 2012 called "The Vision for Advanced Learning." (See pp. 23-24 of the December 2012 Vision Powerpoint.) Why is it missing?
4. "Raise the floor to raise the ceiling" was the mantra Dr. Schneider used from the outset during his presentations on his vision of what the Advanced Learning/Learning for All Plan would achieve. Yet this phrase is absent from the new document. Why? We deserve an explanation.
5. When details of the proposed plan were first presented by Dr. Schneider to the BOE on January 28, 2013, his bubble infested power point included slides outlining a seven year roll out of the new math, language arts and social studies programs that would accelerate math for all students, and result in ACE social studies and ELA being taught to all middle school students starting in 6th grade. (Click to open 1/28/13 PowerPoint presentation.) The 7 year roll out is not referenced in the new document the Department of Learning is presenting to the BOE. Why not?
6. The report very briefly summarizes what has transpired over the last three years, but what is absent is a genuine recognition or discussion of the intensity of parent concerns with the Advanced Learning/Learning for All Plan as it rolled out. Why this omission?
It will be interesting to listen to the BOE discussion of Part 1 of this report during tonight's meeting. In fact, it will be interesting to see which board members asked any questions before tonight's meeting (which should be posted on Board Docs later today). How much time will the BOE be given to discuss and ask questions? Who will participate in a meaningful way in the discussion? Will the administration dodge and dance around the tough questions the BOE should be asking tonight?