Saturday, February 7, 2015
Comment of the Day!
I agree with most of this comment. One glaring disagreement: Don White has been guzzling Schneider's Kool Aid by the gallon. No respected Superintendent would "give rope" to his administrators at the expense of district children. No way. White keeps on smiling and nodding while Schneider continues to hold his match under the feet of our dazed BOE, uniformed parents, and Don White himself. Our district is clearly burning.
- February 7, 2015 at 9:31 AM
Excellent comment of the day, but I do agree with 9:31 about White pounding the kool aid. He is very much supportive of Schneider and his integrated vision. No one should be fooled into thinking otherwise.
- February 7, 2015 at 11:47 AM
Well, 9:31, that is possible, but I am not sure. I have to admit that I am confused on that point. It is difficult for me to believe that Dr. White can't see through this. He seems intelligent.
I can see Dr. White not wanting to undermine an initiative that is already underway, being initially supportive, and waiting to see the data since it was set up before he arrived. That would just be professional.
At this point I feel like he deserves the benefit of the doubt on that. I think he may be supportive, but still open to LFA not being the right path. I understand that it may seem like it, but I just can't bring myself to believe he has really drunk the Kool-aid yet.
I am open to being wrong about that, but I think he is smarter than you think and capable of making an objective assessment at the right time, and coming to the correct conclusion.
We will see.
- February 7, 2015 at 12:03 PM
Speaking of data, when will winter MAP be presented?
- February 7, 2015 at 12:21 PM
This is 9:31. The previous comment author is much more optimitic than I. I am skeptical of Don White's ability to lead. That may sound harsh, but one of his first decisions in this district was to promote Kurt Schnedier. And we all know he was and is not qualitifed to be in charge of the entire district curriculum. He was not trained in curriulcum, only special ed no matter how he spins himself.
In his nearly nine months in 181, White has made no attempt to correct problems; he is continuing with Schuster's and Schneider's vision.
So I have little hope the education for our children will suddenly improve. We only need to look at the pathetic math document that will be presented on Monday for proof. White owns this mess now.
- February 7, 2015 at 12:35 PM
I know that there are a lot of smart people on this blog and I would like to pose a question.
Hypothetically, let's say that you had perfect foreknowledge of two facts:
1. Schneider's view that all students will actually benefit from an integrated approach actually turns out to be correct in the long-run. (I think this is unlikely, but possible)
2. Initial test results are worse
Additionally, let's say that, hypothetically, Dr. Schneider is suddenly gone, and you have responsibility to make the next presentation to the board, and want to do the right thing for the students. How would you approach this situation?
I have a few initial suggestions and would like to hear from others.
-Answer questions directly and clearly
-Admit what you do not know
-If you need experts to assess this issue, say so openly
-Realize that parents in d181 are not typical in some ways:
--They are more involved and aware than parents in most districts
--Many parents who are very knowledgeable about math, science, engineering, and education
--Many parents have degrees and advanced degrees from the world’s most prestigious Universities; you will not fool them with double talk
--They only want what is best for all of the students. Any other reason for the program (e.g., social justice) will be the end of the program
--Not explaining details to them because you should not need to because you are a “professional” or because you think they are dumb, is a big mistake
What other facts would you need to consider, or what approach would you take in that situation. How would you approach hitting the reset button while working to build the confidence of the BOE and the parents while still trying to do the right thing for the students in the long run?
- February 7, 2015 at 3:08 PM
The first thing that should happen upon the departure of any DOL staff is that we should hire an Asst. Super. Of Curriculum and Assessment who has significant experience in these areas. As this blog has pointed out many times, we are not a started district and we don't pay like one either!
- February 7, 2015 at 5:48 PM
An anonymous survey of teachers asking them what works and what doesn't and why. And what they need to do their jobs better.
- February 7, 2015 at 5:50 PM
No one should expect Dr. Schneider to be leaving any time soon. He is the "bell of the ball" in Turek, Nelson, Yaeger and White's eyes. This is a nightmare.
- February 7, 2015 at 5:56 PM
Hold a town hall meeting. One has been suggested over and over again for at least 4 years now. The Admin has been too afraid to hold one.
- February 7, 2015 at 5:58 PM
Thank you for all these comments. I think one of the biggest problems in D181 right now is that a lot of parents don't REALIZE what is going on. Specially the L4A rollout. Yes most elementary school parents were aware of the Math Pilot earlier in this academic year and they know about the Common Core being implemented. But with so many changes in the works they do not realize the implications of the L4A plan on their children. I'd really like to hear about how we can raise awareness and get more parents involved.
I know the most obvious is that Parents should attend the BOE meetings... but this is one step before, getting more parents aware so that they attend the meetings.
- February 7, 2015 at 6:51 PM
I am unclear about how Dr. Schneider had the authority to change the objective of the L4A program without the approval of the BOE?
How does that work?
- February 7, 2015 at 7:33 PM
The way I see it, Dr. Scheider did implicitly admit that the L4A program is failing the children of d181.
Dr. Schneider speaks, "You can theorize why we can blame who, so on and so forth, but the reality is that we need to strengthen this.
How that sounds to me:
Dr. Schneider is am implicitly admitting that we have completely failed to deliver results using L4A in d181.
Dr. Schneider continues, "but the reality is that we need to strengthen this. And that's the work that the system is going through."
How that sounds to me:
After implicitly admitting defeat, Dr. Schneider is pretending that we have no other choice, but to plow ahead, and try to strengthen the L4A program. He seems to hope no one is paying attention, and points out that the obvious alternative is to pull the plug on this L4A program and return to the tiered system that was achieving much better results for the students of d181. He does not seem to want to discuss the two alternatives and which approach would be best for the children.
- February 7, 2015 at 9:59 PM
Ms. Benaitis, “...I think it's important that you know when we look around here that meaningful learning is taking place..."
How that sounds to me:
Ms. Benaitis is reassuring the BOE that, although students are no where near the levels of achievement that were being realized under the tiered system, the students are still learning more than absolutely nothing with L4A.
- February 8, 2015 at 12:16 AM
Here's what we need to do. Return to the tiered system in elementary school for math and language arts beginning in 3rd grade. But, instead of using a 2nd grade score to determine a student's path for the next 6 years, place the kids where we believe they fit based on test scores and the teacher's opinion each year and then rearrange two or three times a year, if needed. Teachers will differentiate within those flexible, ability-based tiers so that all needs will be met every day without a huge struggle on the part of the teachers or any students waiting to learn. This will also ensure consistency throughout the district. Keep middle school testing and tiers as is. We have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, it is ridiculous what an over-reaction the Learning For All Plan has been. Completely irresponsible that we just didn't improve flexibility, identification, the ACE program and focus on Common Core. One year. Done. Everyone happy and all needs met. Oh, and buy new materials for Science and Math. It is ridiculous how old some of our materials are because we have been focusing on this crazy plan. And, don't blame parents for not supporting the purchase of new math materials 2 years ago. The materials that were proposed were Investigations and we knew back then how awful those were.
- February 8, 2015 at 6:45 AM
Maybe Don White put Schneider in that position because he was already doing the Asst. Super. job., so it was only right to give him the title and full responsibility. Also prevents the position from going away while he assesses things. Then give everyone a year to see how things are going. I wouldn't have wanted Don White to make immediate significant change, however bad this year has been for my child. He did try to address the obvious problems by allowing busing to the middle school and stopping compacting and acceleration for all. The BOE approved this plan, not Don White. They must take responsibility for not asking for accountability. They took their hands off the wheel and the opinion of the DOL and a few teachers is not enough to continue with this mess. We will see what happens in the Spring when contracts are up for renewal. Fingers crossed.
- February 8, 2015 at 7:09 AM
Unfortunately, the children of d181 are paying the price because the BOE did not request regular updates and formal reviews, and the administrators did not have the capabilities, to implement this program successfully.
It looks to me like Dr.Schneider now sees that the student test results are a disaster and seems to be attempting damage control. However, he has made a mistake by not telling the BOE directly that it is a disaster, putting the evidence on the table and saying honestly that we need expertise to stop the bleeding. Instead he appears to be working to try to fix it behind the scenes, and trying to buy time with the BOE.
This is likely to create an even bigger problem because instead of reassessing a crisis situation using hard evidence and experts, as the parents have repeatedly requested, Dr. Schneider explained at the last BOE that the process he is using to identify improvements is actually based on what they "feel" are the best opportunities to improve.
That is right. The education of the children of d181 is not being driven by research, evidence, and experts. According to Dr.Schneider, it is being driven by feelings.
Sadly, when it finally blows up, the administrators and BOE will shrug and walk away, the parents will be angry, all parties will blame one another, but the children of d181 will still not have an education.
Who is willing to cut through the politics, double talk, and BS and do what it takes to ensure that these kids start getting a good education?
So far, the answer is, no one.
- February 8, 2015 at 8:38 AM
7:09: Kurt Schneider was Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Services (Special Education) and he was only doing that job prior to his grand promotion by White. Kevin Russell was actually the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. Schneider was able to snow White into the promotion. Take a look at Schneider's resume that is posted on this blog. Then decide if you still think he should be running the DOL.
BTW: Busing to the middle schools was already happening under Schuster. And White did not stop the compacting - that was stopped by Schuster and Russell before they left; they finally saw what a disaster it was and couldn't defend it after spending mega dollars on teachers tutoring kids before and after school and test scores were in the toilet.
Facts are facts.
White will fight to keep Schneider and Benaitis before the election and his BOE changes. All three of these administrators are woefully inadequate for our district; it's just a matter of time before they and more parents realize it.
- February 8, 2015 at 9:53 AM
Those administrators and their work products are woefully inadequate - but their salaries are not. But to be clear, aceleration has not ended at our elementary school in language arts! All kids are being asked to do the same thing. All children who do not qualify for special education are being asked to do the SAME assigments and tests as the "gifted" kids. I know this because children who were supposedly "advanced" in ELA last year are getting the exact same things that average to low average (but no IEP kids) are getting this year. This is regardless of children's grades, test scores, or ability to do the work independently. Although it sounds fair on paper to the untrained parent (or administrator) it is not.
I have brought his to teaxher's attention and they admit it. So now, only because I ask for it, the teacher has to try to throw together something they call Rti, but it's basically helping my child do the same work as everyone else. My elementary schooler still can not do work independently and has become so dependent on his teachers that it is sad. Why can't the curriculum department just figure out a way to ability group language arts so children can either catch up, or speed up according to their own strengths?
This is awful. Not only are the quicker kids still getting bored, the lower kids who need more practice and teaching are feeing like idiots in elementary school, and complete morons by the time hey get to middle school. When are they going to fill in the gaps from the last 4 years of bad language arts instruction?
- February 8, 2015 at 2:05 PM
Dear 2:05. You have just described "raising the floor to raise the ceiling". Yes, it is a concept thought up by administrators who are not in the classroom seeing what this ill advised program is doing to children.
And yes, there were PowerPoint presentation to the staff at the Middle schools saying they were going to do the same there. This hurts ALL children, gifted, regular and IEP.
- February 8, 2015 at 5:46 PM
We really should give credit where credit is due.
Dr. Schneider does seem to be making progress on his social agenda. One of the most intractable problems in American education has been the inability of educators to find a way to eliminate the educational performance gap between high income districts like Hinsdale, and low income districts. If the standardized test results end up being as bad as it sounds, he may have managed to eliminate a significant portion of it.
- February 8, 2015 at 9:04 PM
I just sent this "CHALLENGE: Take the PARCC Assessment and post your scores" to a number of parents, admin & the BOE. I think the scores will tell a lot about the test our kids will be taking this week. WE SHOULD BE THE GUINEA PIGS!
Last year Lyndsey debated the value of standardized testing. In the process, her English 2 Honors teacher (with a Masters in education) shared that she got less than 50% on the Sophomore PARCC. So I am not afraid to share my humble scores.
Matt & I just took the 5th Grade LAE PARCC & got 33/40. We went back, checked our reasoning and stand by our answers. Then we went on to take the 5th Grade Math PARCC. Once we hit equations Matt QUIT, because he could not get the equations in without blank boxes popping up. The process is not purely intuitive - the technology is way behind - and falls short of testing knowledge. I have a 1988 BS & BA from Purdue University plus a 1991 MFA from Rutgers - and I was so FRUSTRATED that if I had been on a laptop I might have thrown it! Matt & I scored 9/9 on the math for the simple answers - but I could not enter any equations in the order I processed them. Only by writing it out, then transferring could I get the equations in.
I found "Technology is not up to the task at hand!" So I challenge all of you to take whatever grade level test you choose - and share your successes and failures. Here's the link: www.parcconline.org Sample tests can be found by clicking on the scrolling slideshow - then go down to grade level tests, pick a grade and enjoy! Let's see who takes the challenge - maybe we should post our official PARCC results.
- February 28, 2015 at 6:12 PM
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."