Wednesday, February 25, 2015

We Almost Decided to "Fold," but Your Comments Stopped Us.

Since Monday night's BOE meeting (2/23/15), we have been contemplating ending this blog. 

In our opinion, Monday's meeting presented examples of the worst the administration and board have to offer: 1) Drs. White and Schneider were unable to answer basic questions posed by Member Heneghan regarding what they had promised in January to present to the community by February 23 on the Learning for All Plan.  We were deeply disturbed by Dr. White's lack of knowledge and Dr. Schneider's dismissive attitude when asked legitimate questions by Board Member Heneghan.  2) There was blatant disrespect shown by Board Member Glen Yaeger to his fellow board members -- first in attempting to shut down Ms. Garg when she referenced the Winter MAP data and then with his nasty sniping at Board Member Heneghan. 3) Apathy and a refusal to ask any meaningful questions were shown by Board Members Turek, Clarin and Vorobiev. 4) Board Member Nelson was absent -- again.  We are not going to give you a blow by blow summary of the empty winds that coursed through Elm School's multi-purpose room on Monday night.  You all need to listen for yourselves.  Click to open Podcast of 2/23/15 BOE meeting.

We were so disgusted and disappointed in what transpired -- or rather didn't transpire -- during the meeting, that we almost decided to "fold our cards." But then we began receiving many comments from parents expressing anger, frustration and shock at the inconsistency that exists between the schools in how the Learning for ALL (some) plan is being implemented and the dismal 5th grade MAP scores that were added to Board Docs on Monday afternoon. 

So rather than end this blog, we are going to share with you portions of the post we were planning to run, as well as several "Comments of the Day" that we want to highlight. These, as well as the 55+ comments our readers submitted to our last post, are exactly the kinds of comments the BOE needs to hear. We hope they light a fire in all of you to spread the word that you must make your voices heard, not just on this blog, but by writing letters to the BOE, writing letters to Dr. White, writing letters to your principals, writing letters to your teachers, attending and speaking out at Board meetings, and most importantly, voting on April 7 for Board members who will bring accountability, data driven decisions and REAL learning for ALL back to D181.  


The following is a portion of the post we had planned would be our last, before all the readers' comments convinced us not to fold our cards:

A Wise Old Owl Knows When to Fold --

(Source:  Wikipedia.)
There is a an old saying in educational circles and it goes something like this: you have to teach the child in front of you; wanting or wishing total perfection from a human is a waste of time and energy. 
It is this tried and true message that has let us bloggers to this point, our last post (ALMOST)

After countless posts and time lost from our jobs and families, we have come to the conclusion that our time is better spent literally monitoring the progress and filling in the gaps for our own kids. D181 sure as heck isn't up to the task.

We say this with disgust and disappointment as our kids have gone through the limp-wristed pseudo RTI process for advanced instruction that was "established" several years ago under Schuster's reign. What resulted from hours of meetings with school principals, administrators and teachers? Zip. No instructional plan. No alternative, challenging curriculum. Nothing. We have heard similar stories from other parents who voiced concerns and have since faded away. We guess they saw the handwriting on the wall of ignorance before we did and decided not to waste anymore time fighting a losing battle. 

Here is the reality: The gifted program was removed, and nothing was put in its place for 30-40% of D181 students.

And today, several years later, nothing has changed. In fact, from our perspective, it has only gotten worse because of the most recent tenets conveyed in the now two Learning For All (some) presentation, which includes heterogeneous classrooms, full inclusion, and no curriculum acceleration. Dr. White can now email fancily worded justifications about how classrooms are fluid and can adapt to any and every student, but we wise ones know differently. We parents who have older kids can attest to the education our kids received in years past. Newer district parents who are still starry eyed and believing that our teachers can create a Utopian learning environment for an average of 25 kids are in for a stark reality. 

We only need to review the most recent Winter MAP scores for proof of our claims (Click to open district wide WINTER MAP scores, Click to open Individual School WINTER MAP scores.). Keep in mind that Dr. White and the Department of Learning sat on these scores until Board Member Garg requested them for the 2/23 meeting. Why? Because the scores, especially 5th grade, are woefully inadequate for a district of our means. Fifth grade is very troublesome; remember, these students were subjects in the math compacting experiment, which means their MAP scores should be through the roof because they were exposed to twice the content within a school year. Supposedly. Do their scores reflect this? No way. The scores are abysmal.  

We have tried, along with a group of parents who have spoken out, to demand accountability. But we can't, and we won't, go it alone. We are dismayed and puzzled as to why so many other district parents complain privately about what's going on in classrooms, but will not take the time to attend board meetings, make public comments, or write letters to the BOE. We suspect these parents believe they have solved the deficiencies in their children's educations by providing tutoring several times per week. We hear Kumon has a thriving business, as do many other private tutors who have been employed for three years running and having to turn away parents due to their packed schedules. 

Parents, you should know that tutoring might help your kids with some basic rudimentary skills, but the experiences and skill sets that should be focused on within the classroom day in and day out, especially with the Common Core standards, cannot be replicated by tutoring in preparation for your children to meet the demands of a Hinsdale Central curriculum and expectations. And remember: Hinsdale Central maintains and promotes ability grouping from the moment our kids set foot on campus. There are tracks (a dirty word in D181) of Honors and AP. Kids are singled out for sports and advanced opportunities in  band, orchestra, theater, academic teams, etc. Central is not, nor will it ever be, a heterogeneous-based educational experience. 

So, this brings us to a major concern about parents remaining silent while the district plods along at an underperforming pace. This seems to be acceptable as many parents have thrown in the towel. In essence, we are all paying high taxes and housing premiums for a very average to below average educational experience for out kids. And that we believe this is not the fault of our teachers, who we believe are trying to do the best they can with the extreme expectations they have been given by the administration. But, as it stands now, the teacher's union has yet to come forward to voice their concerns about the Learning for All (some) program. This is a powerful voice that has been silent. And we can only assume they are concerned about retaliation from the district administration. In our opinion, the six-ten teachers who routinely speak up for the administration are being used as pawns in the administration's chess game, knowing full well the BOE wouldn't dare not support whatever these teachers claim they want or need. This is how the game is played, folks. Unfortunately, it is at the expense of our kids.  

And speaking of expense, now that Mr Jukes has been given the green light by all BOE members to conduct his "analysis" of digital needs within the district, we will bet our last chips that he will recommend a 1:1 learning platform. No doubt about it. An Ipad for every student is coming so they can use it in the classroom when children get bored or antsy with all those abilities, with typically one teacher and maybe an aide or MRC director. Remember, Central does NOT have a 1:1 platform, nor do they encourage bringing your own device. But hey, it's not like our kids are already using devices at home, right? Riiiiiigggghhhhtttt.

Perhaps one of our biggest reasons for ceasing (REMEMBER THIS WAS OUR PLAN) our posts is due to the leadership (or lack thereof) exhibited by Don White. We have known for years the current BOE majority is inept. We originally had high hopes for Dr. White, but the minute he promoted Kurt Schneider to oversee the entire Department of Learning, we lost faith in his ability to make decisions in the best interest of district children. In our opinion, Dr. White has bought into L4A with reckless abandon without carefully analyzing test results and student performance. And we will predict he will eventually suggest discontinuing MAP testing because it is showing growth, or little to no growth in D181. 

We bloggers are voicing a vote of "no confidence" in Dr. White because he withheld winter MAP scores, and in our opinion attempted to fudge results with the fall scores by using the standard error or measurement to sugar coat results (Click to open 11/25/14 post that discussed his tactic). And he, in our opinion, is continuing to add administrators (Click to open agenda item for 2/23 meeting ORG CHART) and not eliminating Dawn Benaitis, who seemingly does not provide value to the Department of Learning. Instead, he is proposing to add an assessment director (that Benaitis was originally promoted to do) now, this late in the school year. And we know assessment directors are highly skilled and difficult to find, so good luck on that one. 


That's as far as we got in drafting what was to be our last post, but then the flood of comments from our readers began.  And the comments were powerful.  They were masterful!  They were so well written, thorough, thoughtful and on point that we realized that we need to continue to provide this forum -- at least for now -- for parents, teachers and community members to speak out.  So, what follows next are just a few comments that we are highlighting as the "Comments of the Day."  Please take the time to read all the others posted to the 2/22/15 Post and please keep them coming!

Anonymous said...
In my opinion, it is time to end Learning for All (L4A) Part 1 In the last two years, the d181 administration has replaced tiered student grouping for math with an integrated approach the call "Learning for all."  This approach was sold to the community based on the promise that it would deliver better result for students and came with a clever slogan, promising to "Raising the floor to raise the ceiling" of d181 achievement / test results. The administration squelched parent objections and won BOE approval by promising that L4A would improve math performance of students at all levels. Who could oppose that?  The reality is that L4A approach is untested in a district like d181, and it appears that the administration pushed this because it is a part of the social justice agenda that is a favorite of Dr. Schneider. Unfortunately, the BOE majority allowed blind faith in the administration to replace critical thinking skills and approved this nonsense.  Fortunately, there has been a small, but determined, band of highly educated parents who have

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hogwash! BOE Agenda Filled With It For Monday, 2/23 Meeting at 7pm, Elm School

(Source:  Wikipedia)
After reading the agenda information on BoardDocs for Monday's meeting, we bloggers were struck by the double-talk, incoherent justifications, and plain ole' hogwash that was documented. (Click to open BoardDocs.) Don White and his administration are the gifts that keep on giving - only in terms of providing loosely contrived excuses and edu-speak for reasons why he/they can't seem to present facts to provide data-driven decisions. Case in point: let's look at White's explanation in his Superintendent's report (click to open Report) as to why the Winter MAP scores will NOT be presented on 2/23:

"Winter MAP Report
The original goal was to have the Winter MAP report prepared for presentation at the February
23 meeting. Unfortunately, this is not complete and will be delayed until the March 9 meeting.
The report will include District- and school-level results with an emphasis on results for fall to
winter testing cycles. Like previous years, the report will not include any analyses related to
programming or grouping of students, as student level data is required for this to be
completed and the District has never had that level of data when working to compare how
many students met their projected growth as identified on the "Student Growth Summary
Report." Student level data has been ordered for the first time from NWEA, but they have
informed the District of a potential delivery during the week of March 27."

C'mon, Don. Surely you don't expect our community of highly educated parents to believe this report couldn't have been ordered back in mid January after students completed MAP testing, right? Teachers have told parents that MAP test results are returned to the district within 48 hours from NWEA, the testing company. Do you expect us to believe it takes more than a month to receive the report you requested? Sorry, we're not buying it. Could you possibly be stalling so your presentation falls around Spring Break time where parents might be less engaged? We suspect this is the case because the predicted slop scores will require a lot of cleanup and no one, including you, know what to do or say to justify the continuation of Kurt Schneider's pipe dream, Learning for All (some). You should be presenting the MAP results BEFORE a new costly math series is suggested and possibly approved. 

Take a look at the one chart Don White provided in his report that actually refers to MAP RIT growth and the sentence that precedes it:

(Source: Source: Dept. of Learning Math Adoption Report.)
Don't you find it interesting that supposed RIT gains are listed without the actual RIT scores?  How is it Don White's administrators can produce a simplistic chart with gains just for the pilot groups, but he can't seem to produce MAP results for other specific groups of students, like advanced, special education, etc.  Sorry, Don.  You can't have it both ways. Which leads us to the following regarding the Math Adoption:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Confirmed: Marty Turek is Short, On Words and Substance -- "Daily Reason #17" Why He Should NOT be Re-elected.

#17: It shouldn't have surprised us, but it did. 
Yes, the brevity of BOE Candidate Marty Turek's statement that appeared in the Hinsdalean this week was one for the record books. Here we have the BOE President who had one sentence to contribute regarding his purpose for his candidacy. See it for yourself here:

(Source:  2/19/15 Hinsdalean, also accessible at
You can draw your own conclusions regarding Turek's candidacy and his record on the school board.  Just compare his answers to those of the other candidates:

(Source:  2/19/15 The Hinsdalean, also accessible at
All we bloggers know is it takes longer to place a custom coffee order at Starbucks than it does to state Reason 17 why Turek should NOT be in the BOE race.  

Running List of the Daily Reasons:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

UPDATE to 2/18/15 Post on Amy McCurry: Her Lack of Transparency Continues

Yesterday we ran a post on two issues that in our opinion require BOE Candidate Amy McCurry to withdraw from the election.  Today, our concerns were solidified when we read the BIO Ms. McCurry submitted for publication in the Hinsdalean. (Copied below.)

Ms. McCurry failed AGAIN to identify that she is CURRENTLY a PAID D181 Employee in the Department of Learning.  She is not just a "stay at home mom" as she states her "Occupation" to be.  Instead, under "Community Service" she lists "Parent Liaison for District 181 Family Resource Network - Walker School."

We are outraged at the deceptive nature of her representations.  Being a PAID EMPLOYEE is NOT considered community service!  Community Service means you are an unpaid VOLUNTEER.

Ms. McCurry obviously doesn't want the community at large to realize that she has a Conflict of Interest.  Not very transparent for a person who wants to be elected to public office.

Again, we urge her to withdraw her candidacy.

(Source:  2/19/15 Hinsdalean newspaper.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

D181 BOE Candidate McCurry: A Flurry of Conflicts and Comments That are Too Big To Ignore

Today we are writing about BOE Candidate Amy McCurry.  We bloggers believe it is our civic duty to share knowledge about Ms. McCurry, who was almost "late to the party," so to speak.  It seems that she decided at the last minute to run for the school board and did not file her petitions until the last day of the filing window.  But now she is a candidate and the question on all of our minds is WHY is she running and will she make a good board member? This post is intended to present facts.  It is your job to decide if you want to elect her to represent all taxpayers, whether she will respect the rights of all students and work to ensure the highest quality education for ALL of them.  In our opinion, Ms McCurry's candidacy raises two big issues:  1) she has a financial conflict of interest and 2) she has shown a careless disregard for student confidentiality.

Ms. McCurry is a D181 paid employee.  Her departmental boss is Dr. Kurt Schneider.  She was hired on January 13, 2014 as a Parent Liaison for the Department of Learning.  She is paid $13.75 per hour and works 20 hours per week.  The BOE was required to approve her hiring as a district employee.  (Click to open 1/13/14 Personnel Consent Agenda.)  She was rehired for the 2014-2015 school year on September 22, 2014.  (Click to open 9/22/14 Personnel Consent Agenda.

At the January 26, 2015 BOE meeting, the meeting at which Dr. Schneider began his three part presentation on the Learning for All Plan, multiple parents spoke out in opposition and with serious concerns about the plan (including the plan to eliminate accelerated math for elementary students) and its negative impact on students.  (Click to open 1/31/15 Post on 1/26 meeting.)  Ms. McCurry, however, spoke out in support of the plan and elimination of math acceleration.  She stated:

"For the record, I do support the Learning for ALL Plan. Have had success with my kiddos in the school."  Then she went on to slam the idea of pulling students out of their regular grade level math class and sending them to the middle school for accelerated math.  (Go to Counter 00:35:54 of the 1/26/15 Podcast.)

At no time during her public comment did she identify herself as a D181 paid employee, let alone one who reports to Schneider. Instead, Ms. McCurry identified herself simply as a parent of 4 children at one of the 7 elementary schools in the district.   While she stated that "I personally have stake in the differentiation model" (Counter 00:37:04), the closest she came to admitting that she worked for D181 is when she said "I have a bit of a different vantage point. ....I've been pleased with what I've experienced" (Counter 00:38:07).

Why didn't she identify herself as a paid D181 employee? Why didn't she explain that her "different vantage point" meant that she works in the Department of Learning under Dr. Schneider's supervision? Why the lack of transparency? Didn't she think it mattered to the voters?

Moreover, as a D181 employee in the Department of Learning, not only did we expect that she would disclose her employment status during the first public comment she made since announcing her candidacy, but we also expected that she would comply with privacy laws that all D181 employees are expected to follow.  Instead, during her public comment she criticized the idea of 5th grade math students being sent to the middle school for accelerated math and then she specifically referenced two fifth grade boys who are sent to one of the middle schools to take 6th grade math, providing enough identifying information about them that community members could figure out who they are.  (Counter 00:37:12.) 

While it is unacceptable for any parent to reference other people's children during a public comment without first obtaining their permission, such a disclosure of private information by a D181 employee is completely inappropriate!  Students have privacy rights;  all information in their student record, including their academic placements, is confidential from the general public. (See Board Policy 5:130 on "Responsibilities Concerning Internal Information.") It is a violation of the students' privacy rights for a D181 employee to discuss or disclose the academic placement of other people's children to the general public. Her decision to discuss her own child was a personal one and she had every right to do so, but Ms. McCurry had no right to  discuss any other person's child!  How dare she?  

Why is all of this troubling?  

Friday, February 13, 2015

From Whence They Came: D181 Parents and Students Dealt a Bad Hand; Do We Fold or Play to Win?

As the saying goes, you can't win if you don't play the game. We bloggers have been reeling since last Monday's BOE meeting (2/9/15), from the antics and double talk we heard play out. The pendulum swung completely from the prior meeting's long winded, unscripted speeches that failed to adequately address what the 2013 BOE approved Advanced Learning/Learning for All Plan actually meant, what the performance data has shown since Fall 2013, how the plan changed (without BOE approval) and on what grounds it was changed.  Monday's meeting was strikingly different in one respect.  The administrators chose brevity over verbosity, scripted (yes, we have been told that some of the presenters were reading prepared statements) words over free verse and yet, even this new approach could not save them from "stepping into it."  They showed their cards, and we do not like what they revealed.  

From the top down -- Superintendent to Assistant Superintendent to Directors of Learning to Teachers on the Math Committee -- we learned that the Learning For All Plan's Math component has now morphed into a plan to only meet the needs of "the greatest group of learners" and that the administration doesn't even have a plan ready that will address the needs of the "UNIQUE" students (a.k.a. gifted, advanced, high achievers). Yes, that's right folks. Dr. White was the first administrator to make this big reveal on Monday night, and his brief statement used a new label to describe students that the BOE voted in 2013 should no longer be "labeled" as gifted under the Advanced Learning Plan/Learning for All Plan. But apparently the Department of Learning has gone totally rogue and plucked a new name to call these students -- UNIQUE.  

According to the online Webster's dictionary, UNIQUE is an adjective "used to say that something or someone is unlike anything or anyone else; very special or unusual; belonging or connected with only one particular thing, place or person."  (Source:

Despite 30% of our district having previously qualified for advanced and accelerated classes, the plan rolled out in a 1 page chart on Monday night does not address their needs. As the Department of Learning informed the BOE, it will have to come back to the board at a later date with plans for those students.  In our opinion, that is reprehensible and irresponsible, and shall we suggest a big fat case of EDUCATIONAL MALPRACTICE.  

But it is true, the plan that Dr. Schneider, Sean Walsh, Dawn Benaitis and a panel of teachers described does everything BUT meet the needs of nearly 1/3 of our student population. Worse yet, the newly morphed version of the Learning for All plan is setting up many of the average and below average students for failure when they reach middle school and are forced to jump from learning Common Core grade level math to be accelerated either one or two years.  Without any data driven explanation or really any explanation at all on how this will actually work or how they "know" that this plan is the right plan, the administration slapped a new math chart up on the overhead for the BOE to see and simply expected them to buy into it.  This included a CHMS middle school math teacher's suggestion that the new plan will enable higher achieving students to serve as mentors and assist struggling students who have lost their motivation by the time they get to middle school. More on the role of the UNIQUE students as this teacher proclaimed later in this post.
We are not going to describe more details of this travesty of a meeting, because frankly, our spelling it out for you isn't going to wake up the rest of the community to what the h--- is happening in D181.  Parents of all students need to take the time to educate themselves and the first step is to actually listen to Monday's meeting.  Ignorance is bliss, but there will be no bliss for our students if this plan is allowed to roll out.  So WAKE UP PARENTS!  Start listening to the meetings, better yet, start attending them.  Start speaking up along with the other brave parents who have done so.  Up until now, the majority of the BOE has ignored these parents who they assume are just a loud minority.  But we know better.  They are not a minority of students, and perhaps not even a minority of teachers -- but we will never know because the BOE and the administration don't want to take the time or make the effort to truly ask teachers and parents what they want or what is and isn't working with the current or proposed future plan.  Instead the onus is on all parents to make their concerns known and soon, before it's too late to stop the administration from betting that their "hand" is a winning one.  We can ill afford to let the administration "bet" it all on their current hand and have our children -- OUR CHILDREN -- lose and lose big time! 

Here's the link to the last meeting:
We hope you take the time to listen to it and share your concerns.  Speak up!  Write to Dr. White.  Write to the BOE.  Make public comments during the BOE meetings.  Attend the Learning Committee Meetings and make your presence known to the parents and teachers serving on that committee.  Your silence will not help.  It will only hurt your children. And this also goes to the D181 teachers.  We have a question we would like answered:  Are the 6 -10 teachers who routinely show up and are seated as a shield to protect the administration speaking on behalf of all district teachers?  If not, why are the union officers silent on these huge sweeping changes that will have a dramatic effect in all classrooms?  We are curious as to whether the vast majority of teachers and the union president are on board with the proposed Learning for All program and changes; we have heard rumblings of discontent that have been communicated to the administration, but these frustrations have yet to be stated at a BOE meeting.  We hope this will soon change for the sake of the children and parents.

In the meantime, we were curious about what the former districts of Don White and Kurt Schneider are looking like today. After all, both of these administrators were employees of these districts for several years. 
Are their former districts now in the throws of full inclusion? Do their former districts contain more information on the Common Core implementation? What types of assessments are being used? And now that we parents have been put on notice that D181 is officially a social justice churning, "unique" learner burning, Learning for Some district, we wanted to know if this same edu-speak was evident within the websites of Troy 30C in the cornfields of Plainfield and Stoughton School District in the Wisconsin cheese land. 

For answers to our questions, we began our brief review of Stoughton School District. Click on this link and take a look at the information listed under a sub-link for its Teaching and Learning Department. One slide, in particular, was of great interest. It is a link and diagram of what differentiation is and isn't, in essence. (Click to open differentiation slide.) We have copied it below:

Review the lists and recall that a CHMS teacher actually said on Monday night that the

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Comment of the Day: "Go Back to the USSR"

Yes, we are working on a post addressing Monday's disgraceful board meeting. Real life -- or should we say, life outside of the D181 board meetings/classrooms -- intervened this week and we haven't had a chance to finish it. But fear not, a post is underway and should be up by Saturday. In the meantime, we have a couple of shorter posts we will be running today and tomorrow.  The first is our "Comment of the Day" submitted by one of our readers. It speaks for itself, and all we want to say is BRAVO and we couldn't agree more. (For those of you who want to read the comment the reader is responding to, we have copied it immediately after the "Comment of the Day.") We have already published responsive comments to 11:03 earlier this week (Click to open "Measles and Weasels" post.), including one that suggested that 11:03 is actually "satirical" and a slam against the administration. We had hoped so as well, until we listened to Monday's board meeting and heard Board Member Nelson's "public comment" that sounded eerily similar to 11:03's comment. If Mr. Nelson believes (or perhaps is) 11:03, we are all in trouble. Perhaps he should move to the USSR?

As always, SOUND OFF!


Anonymous said...

I just read the post from 11:03, which perhaps is one of the board members. A couple of points. First of all, the primary motivation behind the learning for all is "social justice" which is not expertise but political. The whole idea that we can abandon our educational philosophy to the "experts" is crazy. To address the examples of the poster, doctors may tell us what surgery to have, but we are certainly allowed to consider what surgery is appropriate and how to weigh the risks. Second, and pardon the bluntness, are you really comparing the lightweight Ph.D's held by the d 181 posse to doctors, and lawyers, and ceo's. Do you really believe that the graduate work done by these folks constitutes original ground breaking research. Also, do you really believe that the constant fad research and flip flopping and internal disagreement in the educational community means that peer reviewed and universally agree standards exist, similarly to standards for laproscopic surgery. would "doctors" ever show up at a medical conference after three years of surgery and say "we have no data" sorry. would they refuse to explain themselves and constantly change their theories. Even more bluntly, as a general matter, the accomplished community members are so much smarter than these administrators. Do you really think that the local residents, type A high achievers, lack the intellectual gifts to understand and analyze the pablum that comes out of schneider and company. Please. And, finally, you sound like you just were teleported from the old Soviet Union. Trust your leader. Don't question your leader. Be quiet. Shut up. follow the pack. Sorry pal, this is America, we have a role in government and are allowed to question our leaders. Go back to the USSR.
They should not need to explain every last detail to a bunch of parents who really know nothing about education. That would be a waste of time. They are experienced professionals. They know how to do what is best, and are working to give your kids the best education they can! Give them a break. They don't come to your office and try to tell you how to do your job. These men are doctors, for goodness sake, and they know what they are doing. If they spend all of their time explaining things to parents, then that is time that they are not spending on helping children. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Daily Reason #16" Why Marty Turek Should NOT be Re-elected to the D181 BOE

Last night's board meeting -- 2/9/15 -- at which Part 2 of the Learning For All Report -- Math -- was presented, was even more disgraceful than the January meeting.  We are busy working on a full blog post, so please stay tuned.  In the meantime, we felt compelled to post Reason 16 not to reelect Mr. Turek.......

#16: Mr. Turek's behavior towards a community member during last night's board meeting (2/9/15) is proof enough that he has to go.  During opening public comments, he disrespected a parent who had the courage to step up and express her concerns with the lack of a standardized process for recording the cause and outcomes of student accidents that occur on school property.  Apparently, she has met with Dr. White to discuss her safety concerns and despite her inquiries on what best practices the school district follows to ensure student safety, she hasn't gotten a response.  So she felt compelled to seek the help of the BOE.  Sadly, rather than express genuine concern, Mr. Turek attempted to cut her off telling her that public comment wasn't the place for a back and forth exchange.  While he may be right procedurally, rather than turn to his ONE employee, Dr. White, and direct him to please provide the parent with a timely response, he simply minimized her concerns by saying that he was sure Dr. White would get back to her.  Really Mr. Turek?  What formed the basis for your conclusion that Dr. White would do so?  Didn't you listen to the parent say that she had already been waiting for over 3 weeks?  It doesn't sound like she was asking the administration to collect or analyze data, because if she had done that, we would all understand why she was still waiting for an answer to her question since data is perceived as "irrelevant" in D181 by the administration. No, in fact all she asked for was to learn what best practices the district is following to ensure student safety.  Once again, rather than advocate for your constituents, you ignored a legitimate concern and instead expressed confidence in the administration's ability to timely respond.  Thanks for nothing Mr. Turek.  

And so the list grows longer...

Running List of the Daily Reasons:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Measles and Weasels, The D181 Edition: There is No Vaccine To Protect Us From Ignorance

(Source:  Wikipedia.)
: a small animal that has a thin body and brown fur and that eats small birds and other animals.
: a dishonest person who cannot be trusted
: a sneaky, untrustworthy, or insincere person
(Source:  Miriam Webster online Dictionary)


They say that things eventually come full circle. That what goes around comes around. Yes, yes, we bloggers believe in these tried and true sayings. After our kids have been put through the wringers (for several years) of silos, slogans, mantras, edu-speak, dogma, and now a half-baked, feeble attempt at a “seminal” documented approach to changing an entire math curriculum and philosophy, we need something to hold onto. Something to give us a lifeline, for we have grown weary and angry. It’s like an illness has taken hold of each of us and won’t release us to a better and brighter tomorrow. No matter how much we state the obvious, no matter how much parents voice concerns; no matter how much deception and mis-truths are conveyed from the D181 administration; we, and most importantly, our kids continue to receive the short end of the stick.

What is this force that continues to be validated by the majority on the BOE and by the Superintendent?

In a word, ignorance.

But more on that in a minute.

As we reviewed the very brief documentation of the Learning for All Math program that will be presented on Monday, February 9, 7:30 at Oak School, we were struck with how little information was actually conveyed to parents. This flimsy, superficial “report” has no data analysis, no historical student performance, no discussion of current MAP results to help guide the future direction of the program. No data. Nada. Nothing.  (Click to open the 2/9/15 Board Report.)

How Don White can allow this flimsy document to serve as the foundation for huge changes in the math program is beyond our comprehension. And why has he put his stamp of approval on this pseudo math program and the inclusive philosophy mandate that Kurt Schneider has pumped with steroids?

Answer: There must be some smooth talking going on behind the scenes, because this level of deception doesn’t occur without some serious skill in deceitful tactics and doubletalk.

Given the brevity of the Learning For All Math presentation, we can’t help but wonder how our highly paid administrators have managed to weasel out of their responsibilities.

Specifically, we want to address 2 significant changes that the administration is proposing for middle school math, both which are presented without any narrative explanation of the justification for change, or any data driven basis to support them. First, the administration proposes lowering the identification criteria for placement into the Advanced and Accelerated math tiers.  The report fails to directly address that the administration intends to LOWER the MAP Math RIT criteria required for automatic placement into either the advanced or accelerated math tiers from the MAP Math RIT cut-offs the Board approved in 2013.  We discovered this change by simply comparing the 2013 chart to the new placement criteria chart included as part of the 2/9/15 Board Report.

2013 Criteria:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Comment of the Day!

Sometimes comments are so powerful that we feel compelled to pull them out as a free standing post. Below is one such comment. Speak out!

"Anonymous said:
  1. 1. The kids are the victims in this tragedy. Especially the high performing ones.

    2. Dr. Schneider is an intellectual pretender. He fools less educated people, but is being called out repeatedly in d181 for his obvious answer avoidance, double speak, and lack of data. He continues to believe that he can fool people or buy time with misdirection, hiding behind his degree, and playing the victim card, and acting offended. In the short run, it is working, but In the long run, he is wrong. Parents will not stop coming back because their children's education is at stake. They have no choice.

    3. Unfortunately, I think that Dr. Schneider has convinced himself that he is doing the right thing. He drank the kool-aid.

    4. In the end, there is only one thing on every parents mind. Prove you are succeeding or admit failure. Stop the excuses, misdirection, and double speak. You are fooling no one. .

    5. Dr. Schneider will come to the next scheduled LFA board meeting and take one of two approaches.

    A. He will once again attempt to convince everyone that the Emperor has the finest apparel imaginable.

    B. He will admit that the Emperor has no clothes, but will have excuses, or blame the roll out, or the teachers, and explain a need for "modifications" and staying the course.

    6. How long the district will allow Dr. Schneider continue to experiment with our children is inversely proportional to the intelligence of the people who are making the decisions.

    7. In addition to parents, and staff, a couple of board members have also sniffed out the turd in the punch bowl. That is encouraging.

    8. Turek seems well-intended and trusting, but he is not the sharpest tack, and is allowing Dr. Schneider to play him for a fool. When he finally realizes that, he is going to be pissed.

    9. Dr. White seems to be supporting Dr. Schneider so far, but he is too smart to be fooled by the double speak. Does he feel he is too committed to LFA? Does he feel the need to back his team? Is he just giving Dr. Schneider enough rope to hang himself?

    Stayed tuned for the next exciting episode."
    February 6, 2015 10:36 pm

Friday, February 6, 2015

Round 2: Learning for All Presentation Continues on Monday, Feb 9 at Oak School, 7:30 p.m.

Like sands through an hourglass, The Learning For All saga continues with another presentation listed for the Committee of the Whole meeting next Monday. Undoubtedly, there will be more chuckles, giggles, sighs, and nonsensical double talk from our Department of Learning and Dr White than there was at the last meeting because, dear friends, the focus this time will be on math. Prepare yourselves for a non-explanation of why our kids suffered through an entire year of compacting, only to have it discontinued and discarded quietly like an old tube of lipstick gone bad. 
We bloggers will be waiting for the BOE agenda to be posted on Board Docs early Saturday morning in advance of the next meeting. 
Stay tuned....