Two additional documents have been added to Board Docs for tonight's meeting: an HMS Sprinkler Head Malfunction Incident Power Point Presentation and Board Member Questions.
We have a few observations to make regarding each document.
HMS Sprinkler Head Malfunction Incident Power Point Presentation:
Thank you to Board Member Heneghan for asking a question about the cause of the Sprinkler Head Malfunction in the Board Member Questions. We are glad that his question pushed the administration to prepare a glossy visual report on what happened last week at HMS. The report will be presented during Monday's meeting. While we commend all of the actions the administration took to immediately dry the affected rooms and test the air quality, unfortunately, there is still no determined cause as to why the sprinkler went off, despite 3 possible scenarios being presented. Bottom line for us parents -- we don't want sprinklers going off during school, potentially soaking our children with freezing cold water. We don't want sprinklers going off at night, causing any more water damage to our classrooms. We want the cause of the sprinkler malfunction identified and fixed. End of story. And oh yeah, we are crossing our fingers that the air quality test results, which according to the power point are due later this week, will not show a resurgence of mold. Stay tuned.
Board Member Questions:
In typical fashion, the only two board members to ask any questions this week were Mr. Heneghan and Ms. Garg. A continued thanks to both of these board members for asking the tough questions many of us have also identified. It is our opinion, that the administration would rather ignore and disrespect the substance of many of the questions, rather than make a real effort to answer them. Here are but a few examples:
Mr. Heneghan asked the following question regarding the Seminal Document on the Learning for All Plan:
"Your superintendent report says the board requested "learning around the topic of the Learning for All Plan to take place over a series of Committee of the Whole meetings, with the first such session on January 23.' My recollection is that the board requested a documented written report describing the plan and specifically rejected the need for three meetings for learning about the plan. When can we expect that written report?"
The Administration's answer:
"The administration is in the midst of crafting a document that provides an overview of the Learning for All Plan. This document will include a high level summary, relevant background, terms, information on each of the six key components of the plan....a subjective/grade overview, and future considerations, among other sections. For January 26, we anticipate the focus will be on the summary, background, terms and the six components as shared in the written document. We will highlight math in the Learning for All Plan on February 9, and the remaining information will be highlighted on March 9."
Once again, let us simply say: FLUFF AND DRIVEL!!!!!
Mr. Heneghan's question is simply not answered, is it? WHY NOT? And to suggest the administration is CRAFTING a document is probably an accurate descriptor. Rather than WRITE the seminal document, something that should have been done THREE years ago, now someone, most likely Dr. Schneider, is CRAFTING a document. And of course, there is still no mention of any QUANTITATIVE information being included in the report, rather words such as "subjective grade/overview" are used.
We would predict that Dr. White did not write this answer. No doubt, he receives board member questions and then circulates them to the relevant administrative department for a response. This question probably went to the Department of Learning and the answer was CRAFTED by Dr. Schneider, Ms. Benaitis or Mr. Walsh. Will any of them OWN this answer during tonight's board meeting? Will any board member other than Mr. Heneghan point out the obvious -- the administration is clearly not equipped with personnel capable of providing straight forward answers, information and data on curriculum matters.
A blind man can see that Dr. White needs to make a change in the Department of Learning leadership!
Another example of a non-answer comes to one of Ms. Garg's questions:
"How was Ian Jukes selected? Who are the other experts for digital learning, especially for school districts? Any that have been used by school districts in the Chicago Area?"
The Administration's answer: "During the brainstorming process for an outside facilitator to assist in the educational technology process, Ian Jukes was suggested due to his extensive experience in the field, and my expertise in this area."
Notice how the answer does NOT identify WHO in the administration suggested Mr. Jukes? Was it Dr. Schneider or someone else? Why isn't the person identified? But more importantly, why weren't ANY OTHER technology experts even considered? Sorry, but this is not the way a $67,000 "expert" should be selected by ANY district!
On the technology front, Mr. Heneghan asked:
"The report says that 'increased technology access is required to implement the New Illinois Learning Standards Incorporating the Common Core. Is it the administration's position that D181 does not have the technology resources that are required to implement the Illinois Learning Standards? If so what technology purchases are required to implement these standards?"
Mr. Heneghan's first question should have been answered with a YES or NO. Instead, a long winded response is given about the history to the new Learning Standards and then the statement is made:
"As we move through the various curriculum renewal processes that will align us with these new standards, we expect to continue seeing increased demand for technology access and related professional development. We believe the Digital Learning Initiative will bring together all stakeholders under a uniform vision that establishes guidelines which will inform our curriculum renewal and technology purchasing decision making, and expect to make recommendations for purchases at the completion of the initiative."
So Mr. Heneghan's question was NOT answered at all. Rather, justification for hiring Mr. Jukes is all the response appears to address. Well, as D181 parents and taxpayers, we say NO WAY!
Enough is enough. We believe this is nothing more than another attempt by the administration to try and convince the board to implement one-to-one technology. Those attempts have failed in the past and so far the administration has been unsuccessful in providing any meaningful or "best practice" data to justify this. But how much you want to bet that if Mr. Jukes is hired, one of his recommendations will be implementing one-to-one technology!
We certainly hope the BOE -- the current one, but more importantly the future one -- does not fall for this drivel. We know we sound harsh, but frankly, we are fed up with the non-answers, non-data, non-substance that keeps coming out of the mouths of the administrators attempting to respond to board member curriculum or technology related questions.
In addition, to suggest that we -- a lucrative, high achieving district -- must revamp our technology in order to successfully implement the new standards, makes us wonder what the less lucrative, less fortunate, lower achieving districts must be facing. How will THEY EVER successfully implement the new learning standards? We are not fooled. We believe -- and perhaps the administration can prove us wrong -- that the technology initiative is unnecessary at this time, the hiring of Mr. Jukes will be a waste of taxpayer money and it is time for the HIGHLY PAID Central Office administrators to each work a little harder, do a little research of their own and stop hiring OUTSIDE consultants to do their work!