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:

(Source:  Slide 40,

Proposed 2015-2016 Criteria:  

Under the 2013 Board Approved Advanced Learning/Learning For All Plan, one avenue for an incoming 6th grader to automatically place into Advanced math was by scoring a 234 MAP math RIT score, or 241 to place into Accelerated Math (note: student could choose to OPT UP into these tiers regardless of scores).   Under the proposed new criteria, Advanced students only need to score a 227 MAP math RIT {7 fewer points) while Accelerated students only have to score a 236 {5 fewer points).  

What did the administration base the reduced score criteria on?  There is absolutely no data presented, no analysis discussed on the new combination of scores the administration is proposing for automatic placement or why a lower RIT score is appropriate. How did they determine that 227 for Advanced math or 236 for Accelerated math should be the new cut-offs for automatic placement into these tiers?  Did they simply pluck the new cut-offs out of thin air?  Did they bother to analyze the 2 years of quiz and test performance data of students who OPTED up into Advanced or Accelerated Math  with MAP math RIT scores lower than 234/241 to determine if they were able to maintain 80% or higher in their math classes?  Why isn't there any narrative discussion on the selection of the new placement criteria?

Similarly, the administration is proposing reducing the current 3 math tiers -- Standard, Advanced and Accelerated -- into 2 tiers, with the continuing goal of having all 8th graders complete at least Algebra, if not geometry. Rather than present any narrative explaining the proposed elimination of the lowest math tier, once again the administration simply resorts to dense and confusing charts (one from 2013 and a new one).   (Click to open the charts in the 2/9/15 Board Report.) As with the new cut-offs, there is absolutely no discussion of why the administration believes that it is appropriate to eliminate Grade Level Standard math tier for incoming 6th graders in a couple of years. What data, if any, has the administration analyzed to determine that all students will be able to successfully accelerate one full year starting in 6th grade?

The experiences of our current 5th graders, who were forced into compacting 3rd and 4th grade math two years ago, should have taught everyone that not every student is ready for acceleration, and there is nothing wrong with a student learning at GRADE LEVEL!  Moreover, should the proposed grade level math level be eliminated, does this mean that no objective math criteria will be used to place students into the Advanced tier?  Will all students qualify for Advanced math regardless of their scores?  Does this mean that the administration believes that placement scores serve no purpose?  If they won't serve a purpose in two years, why bother with them at all now?

And if all students are placed into Advanced math or Accelerated math, will teachers instructing the Advanced math tier flexibly group the students by ability?  Or will the faster learners be bored while taught at a slower level paced for the lowest learners (including those who perhaps should be in a grade level math class)?  Parents believe that the OPT up option has already resulted in watering down the curriculum in the higher math tiers.  Why doesn't the Board Report address this concern. Why doesn't the administration advise the BOE whether or not teachers have reported to their principals that they have had to water down the curriculum? And if it is true that teachers have watered down the curriculum in order that all students in the advanced/accelerated tiers can keep up and be successful, won't this happen again if the Grade Level tier is eliminated and most students are placed into the Advanced Tier?

The Board Report also fails to address which other top-tier districts are using this approach.  What evidence does the administration have that would allow for the dilution of the middle school tiers from 3 to 2?  As has become the norm, none is being presented.

And what about Elementary Math?  Board members such as Heneghan and Garg have already pointed out that the 2013 Board Approved Plan has changed from its original plan without Board Approval, yet the Board Report for Monday's meeting is utterly devoid of any discussion of this.  The Report fails to explain how the plan has changed since it was first approved, how math is currently being taught at each elementary school and in each grade (since everyone knows that it is being taught differently depending on which school your child is in or who his/her teacher is).  There is no discussion about the inconsistency that currently pervades the district, from the use of pull-outs in some schools, acceleration for some students and different approaches to flexibly grouping students within the heterogeneous classroom model.  Wasn't the administration tasked with presenting all of this information to the BOE during these 3 Learning for All meetings?  Even Board Member Vorobiev asked for this type of information back in December 2014.  Is the administration going to ignore her queries now, in addition to refusing to answer Mr. Heneghan's and Ms. Garg's legitimate questions?


Ah, yes, the fierceness of ignorance is upon us. It is now painfully evident within all ranks of the administration from the superintendent on down. This second installment of the Learning for All presentation confirms the following: there is nothing more destructive to a school district than having people in charge who don’t know what they should know, but think they know. You get our drift.

The recent outbreak of measles teaches us we can be in harms way and not even realize it until it's too late.  That actions can have significant consequences.  And if, for example, significant changes to the district's math program are implemented without discussion and confirmation from the BOE, there most certainly will be a negative impact on our children.

Readers, we clearly have weaseleze, infiltrating the administrative ranks. A cover up is forming, and the roof will blow off after the storm of the April 7 election has passed. We can only hope.

See you on Monday, 2/9 at Oak School, 7:30pm.


Anonymous said...

As a parent of a fifth grader, I am outraged that my child will be part of yet another experiment in this district. What is wrong with these people in charge of our district? How can they justify these changes? I used to hear other parents saying that the changes would only apply to elementary grades and that the middle schools would stay as is. That is no longer the case. My child has had a sub standard education since third grade and it looks like it will continue next year. Time to move.

Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you 8:54! I'm calling my realtor today. So sad that we will be moving after 9 years in the district but it is the only way I can protect my 2 children from the ignorance of the idiots running this dsitrict.

Anonymous said...

WTF (sorry, but I'm really mad) is going on???? Are most of the board members blind as bats? How can they not see what is going on? This craziness is out of control. Please Dr. White, make some changes to the administration. What is wrong with you?

Anonymous said...

I believe that this year's 9th grade class and prior had to meet the increased MAP RIT scores AND 2 out of the 3 test criteria in order to be in the middle school advanced or accelerated math classes. The MAP scores were actually lowered for this year's 8th grade class AND at some point, the criteria changed to allow students who meet the cut-off score on one test, not 2 of the 3 to get in. The "AND" in the criteria which required 2 tests changed to "OR" with no concrete data presented to or asked for by the BOE to support these lowered standards. Nor were the advanced or accelerated middle school teachers consulted. And then the opt-in option was added which further lowered the scores of students allowed in these classes and increased the range of student ability in these classes. The kicker? No one at the administrative level has bothered (is capable?) of tracking how these changes have impacted D181 students in the long run and only 2 BOE members have asked for this information. Everyone seems to blame "administrative turnover" for this significant lapse but, really, is that the reason? Or, is it poor hiring decisions that have brought unqualified people in to lead our district? Poor hiring decisions that have been rubber-stamped by a BOE that doesn't seem to ask for one iota of data or fact to support any of these sweeping changes. They are satisfied with the opinions of a few and continue to rely on administrators who have demonstrated a serious pattern of big mistakes - math compacting, acceleration for all, lowering of identification criteria for middle school classes, a flawed math pilot, the list goes on. Why would anyone continue to put blind faith in these decisionmakers?

Similar changes were made 2 1/2 years ago to the middle school ELA and ACE identification criteria and the number of kids in those classes (many of whom are struggling) increased significantly. Why was this done? To pave the way for inclusive classes in the middle schools as they have implemented in the grade schools where testing and identification have been eliminated entirely in a knee jerk reaction to inflexiblity that some parents experienced. All part of Dr. Schneider's plan to "raise the floor" and make everyone equal which has failed abysmally for so many D181 students. Every child should have the same opportunities for equally rigorous curriculum and for growth, but not every child is advanced or accelerated in every subject. We need to stop pretending they are just because it is politically correct to do so.

Anonymous said...

I can't stand the negative attitude of everyone on this blog. Why is everyone is being so cynical? Trust Dr. Schneider, Dr. White and the d181 board. They know what is good for your children. They are trying to help you. Isn't that obvious?

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.

Parents keep asking for data, data, data, but it just isn't that simple. Data does not tell the whole story. It is dumb to think that you can just reduce people to numbers. Data does not identify the important qualitative benefits. Those benefits that can only be identified and clearly understood by experts with lots of education and experience.

We need to give these knowledgeable experts time and space to work their magic. They went to college to learn how to do these things and most of us did not. I am confident that you will see results you never dreamed of in your kids. These professionals are working hard to improve the district, but they can not do it overnight. Trust them. This is not some evil plot against the children of d181. That is just ridiculous.

The d181 Board is comprised of caring individuals who would never do anything to hurt the kids. They are good, honest people who live in our community. If they were not completely sure that these men they hired were not helping the district, they would not be approving these programs.

Have faith in people. I don't understand the changes they are making, but I have faith in these men. They are good people and I am confident that they are doing the right thing.

Additionally, I was not good at math in school and have never really understood it very well. Maybe these changes they are making are perfect to help students who are like me. Plus a lot of you parents need to get over yourselves and stop thinking all of your kids are little math geniuses. Everyone is not a math kid. Lot of us do very well without math at all. It really is not that important, and it is not worth attacking these nice people over. Everything happens for a reason, and this is all going to be fine. Start trying to help the administration instead of just being negative and complaining all the time. That would be more helpful.

Anonymous said...

8:54 and 9:28,
Do you realize what a PAIN moving is and how many houses are up for sale in our district? I have thought about it a lot because I am on the same page as you, but I refuse to allow incompetent Dr. Schneider and Ms. Benaitis force us to uproot our children from their home. The thought of packing up boxes, and keeping the house clean for open houses and Looky-Lou's is enought to make me convince all of my neighbors that Dr. White and the BOE need to make some serious, overdue changes.

D181 has turned into the laughing stock of Chicago and the suburbs at the expense of our children. Those people are all gratified that Schneider is destroying our schools and that our property values are dropping. I will stay and fight as long as it takes to turn our district back into the excellent district that it used to be.

The Parents said...

11:03: For the sake of our children We hope you're being sarcastic and do not mean half of what you said in your comment. As for comparing the administrators to medical doctors, let us respond as follows: If our doctor tells us we are healthy and thriving but but our annual blood test shows data that indicates we are actually sick, but our doctor keeps telling us we are healthy, do you really think We are going to accepthis opinion? No, We will seek a second and maybe third opinion. We will go out and hire the best Doctor imaginable. We will do research and not hire less than the best. We will expect the doctor we hire to look at our test results and maybe if necessary order more tests in order to be able to get a complete picture of whether we are healthy or sick. This is no different. The Administration continues to insist our kids are healthy and thriving but yet they won't look at or analyze the data. They just keep insisting that the Emperor is wearing clothes. The Emperor is wearing clothes. The Emperor is wearing clothes. Sorry, we're not that stupid.

Anonymous said...

Our administrators messed up big time compacting our fifth graders even though appendix a to the common core clearly said not to. Then they ignored the pleas of parents for two years. Many children were harmed. There has been no accountability no apology. I trust no more.

Anonymous said...

Bloggers: thank you for responding to the prior comment attacking you. Thank you for pointing out the obvious. But I'll go one step further. It's not even about our medical doctors misreading our test results. I don't even think that the district administrators are even looking at test results. I challenge the critic to say whether or not they would keep a doctor who orders annual blood tests but never looks at them before telling him/her that they are healthy. Parents in our community are not idiots. Parents in our community are not stupid. Parents in our community are professionals and know what to expect from other professionals. Sadly, the professionals running D181 seem more incompetent than qualified, regardless of their title. In my opinion, until the administrative "doctors" start reporting on what the data actually says, what it means, and diagnose whether or not our kids are truly thriving under the crazy, ever-changing, learning for all plan, I wouldn't be surprised if they are committing malpractice, if not at least educational negligence.

Anonymous said...

11:03: ha ha Ha ha ha Ha ha ha! Now that I have stopped laughing at the "ignorance" of your comment, let me say this: if quantitative data is so unimportant, why are our students being subjected to days and days of multiple different types of tests, year after year of collecting data showing how they have performed in different subject areas? If it's not important, the district should immediately suspend all quantitative data and simply look to the qualitative data you suggest is so much more important. But let me ask you this: the experts that you say we should trust because if their are experienced with children do not include Dr. Schneider, do they? Has he ever taught in an elementary or middle school classroom? Has he ever been on the frontline the way our teachers in D181 have been? Teaching a short stint in a high school doesn't cut the mustard for me. Go do research on that and then get back to me.

Anonymous said...

Trust needs to be earned, especially in the face of one bad decision after another.

jay_wick said...

Part 1 of 2
I cannot disagree that there is too often an abundance of negativity on this blog and combined with the confusion that comes from too many people refusing to use any kind of identifier the effectiveness of this style of communication is far less than it could be.

Our previous Superintendent tried to host a blog on the main district web site but it proved unwieldy; I personally still hold out hope that something a little more interactive than a static "FAQ" but not as demanding as fully moderated "forum" can eventually be part of the district's official communications channels -- that could potentially serve as a way to get a more representative set of views about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the district seen by more people...

The fact is there are LOTS of parents and community members that do have deep knowledge of the current thought leaders in education, the direction of our most comparable districts and the shortcomings of current BOE's approach to their duty to oversea the district.

The role of the district level staff absolutely must be balanced between serving as a resource to the building level staff and classroom teachers as well as being responsive to the overall community. The skills one needs to learn this balance does not come from pursuing an Ed.D. or Ph.D. but from understanding how school communities function. Failure to provide ample interactions risks the devastating loss of community support.

I might even agree that objective data by itself is not enough to judge the success of our district's current direction but there are two problems with such an excuse. First the simple fact is, like it or not, there are objective standards used to evaluate the performance of students, teachers, schools and the district as a whole. These come from both internal and external sources -- there is a legal obligation to administer objective tests like PARCC and the teachers see increasing value in objective tests like MAP. The second problem is that even areas like art and music, where once qualitative measures were "good enough" are increasingly seeing that objective data about student outcomes can be used to guide important decisions about what is taught and how these important but hard to quantify areas benefits students. Surely if even these areas are moving toward objective measurement than areas like math and reading / language arts should not shy away from objective data.

Personally, as a former classroom teacher, I do see quite a bit of value in including some qualitative feedback to parents about the performance of their children -- ideally a parent could be proud of feedback that indicates their child is "an inquisitive self-starter that makes the classroom a more pleasant place through positive demeanor and interactions with others despite unimpressive test scores". Of course a concerned parent might help think of strategies for a student that "despite apparent high ability as demonstrated on some tests and homework, remains inconsistent in their approach to some required tasks"... Such qualitative feedback is already part of some teachers efforts to communicate with parents and it would be good to standardize more of this and aggregate it to determine how much "positive change" has come from L4A.

Anonymous said...

This is 11:03.

I have faith in my doctors. I trust them to help me. I don't want to see all of the test results. That is the doctors job. They look at the results and give me what I need to get better. That is what we need to do here.

The facts are that if these people were really doing something bad, the d181 board and teachers and parents would all take action. In reality there is no conspiracy and no one is taking action.

People are even complaining on here about Mr. Turek. He is a nice man. He is smart man. He lives here in our district and he offers his time to help us all. I trust him to lead the Board. You should trust him too. If he was not doing just an amazing job, he would not be running unopposed for a new term. Unopposed! There is a reason for that. Everything happens for a reason. The facts are that parents are happy. The teachers I meet with at conferences are very positive too. There is nothing to see here.

It isn't helpful to act like there is some conspiracy against our kids. Have some faith in these experts. They are going to come through for all of us. People here are complaining about test results that they haven't seen. Be patient. Relax.

People are claiming that real evidence is so important, but they don't have any real evidence that anything is wrong.

Parents need to learn to be more trusting of our elected leaders and the experts that our Board has hired to benefit all of us.

If your student isn't doing as well in school as you think they should be doing, that is no reason to blame the Dr. Schneider and Dr. White. Parents need to take responsibility for their own kids and stop the blaming everyone else. All of these kids are not as smart as their parents seem to think they are. Maybe they do not get math. That is fine. Each student is different.

jay_wick said...

Part 2 of 2
Similarly I might agree that some parents do seem anxious to see improvements in a short time-frame but contrasted to that there have been edicts from prior administrators and even some members of the current BOE that changes had to happen rapidly.

The balance of how effective these changes have been must be measured by some kind of yardstick, objective or qualitative. A BOE that lacks clarity of what really constitutes positive changes cannot fulfill its duty to guide the district.
As this link from Harvard Business Review makes clear, even a Corporate Board that is unable to really operate with transparency and accountability will lead to ruin -- A More Effective Board of Directors Foundational — survival — boards focus on compliance; they play it safe. These are the weak performers in the corporate food chain, with directors who are unwilling to take strong positions, make tough decisions, or play proactive ...roles ...
Poor strategic alignment also hampers a board’s ability to prioritize issues and set their near-term agendas.

[In contrast] Strategic directors also commit to performing at their full potential and have the courage and self-confidence to raise and address any personal developmental needs. They also must be able to give constructive feedback to other directors to enhance the personal effectiveness of their board colleagues.

To anyone that has attended / listened to our BOE under its current titular head it should be clear which end of the spectrum it is closest to...

Finally to those that feel "they have never really understood [math] very well" I would caution that such a view is out of step with the mainstream goals of the National Council of Teachers of Mathmatics that have existed for at least 25 years. NCTM Principles to Action The goal is clear -- What is the same today is the need to understand that standards do not teach; teachers teach. New standards provide guidance and direction, and help focus and clarify common outcomes. They motivate the development of new instructional resources and assessments. But these standards do not tell teachers, coaches, administrators, parents,or policy-makers what to do at the classroom, school, or district level or how to begin making essential changes to implement the standards. Moreover, they do not describe or prescribe the essential conditions required to ensure mathematical success for all students. Thus, the primary purpose of Principles to Actions is to fill this gap between the development and adoption of CCSSM and other standards and the enactment of practices, policies, programs, and actions required for their widespread and successful implementation. Its overarching message is that effective teaching is the non-negotiable core that ensures that all students learn mathematics at high levels and that such teaching requires a range of actions at the state or provincial, district, school, and classroom levels.

The Parents said...

12:22: Marty Turek running unopposed? Do you even live in our district? Have you even picked up any of the newspapers? There are four seats up for election. There are six candidates running. That sounds like he's opposed.

Anonymous said...

Trust and Dr. Schneider in the same sentence just doesn't work. Dr. White is guilty by association since he decided to put him in charge of all of our kids. That's educational malpractice in my opinion. I am also disappointed that community members think all of this is okay just because their kids turned out fine. If you haven't noticed the world is a different place many times more than when your own parents and you went to school. Politics in education has gone up, not down. The fact that parents think this is all great because their kids are doing better at the expense of other kids is also disturbing. It's a dog eat dog world but shouldn't we try to do better just because we have so much at our disposal within this community not to mention the highly educated and successful population. Dr. White - Not putting your best foot forward in a new district. If 11:03 attended any meetings after the gifted evaluation, you would have seen then board president Mike Nelson laughing/belittling community members who made public comment and supporting such behavior by fellow board members. They waited the community out and approved what the majority on the board, not the community and teachers, wanted.

Anonymous said...

Um, last I checked it is a hotly contested election because many people are unhappy with the direction of the district. Turek most certainly is being opposed in the election. Get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked D181 had a contested election. Mr. Turek has gone from being Dr. Schuster's and Dr. Russell's best friend to Dr. White and Dr. Schneider's best friend. Now the prior administration did a terrible job preparing our teachers and students for learning for ??? That has nothing to do with being nice, but being "GULLIBLE". Is this who we want in charge of making sure our tax money is spent responsibly?

Also 11:03 not sure what your point is about the kids. Some kids just aren't good at Math? This plan says all kids can do Algebra 1 by 8th grade. There are plenty of quacks in the medical profession as well. I don't agree with the mentality that don't worry your kids will be fine because mine are. You have no idea what my kids are getting or not.

Anonymous said...

11:03, you are either new to our schools, new to these discussions or your children are young elementary students. If you had 2 or more years experience these programs, including some at the middle schools, there is no way you would be so trusting of these administrators unless you are one of the many parents who are not paying attention to what is happening. I am one who does not believe that anyone involved is trying to harm my child. I believe that the administrators are doing what they think is best. However, I also believe that they are wrong and, despite what you say, several of them are not qualified or experienced in the areas of curriculum and assessment and, thus, are not qualified to be making these recommendations and decisions. There is not one administrator on staff who has held a position even close to the one that they hold now except Dr. White. That's a problem. The BOE should not be relying on them as blindly as they are. Some of them have never even taught in a classroom. Even if they were qualified and experienced in their current positions, past decisions and statements that they have made should cause everyone involved to have serious questions about their judgement. As stated by comment 10:07, some of the same people who made these poor decisions are still making decisions today. How much longer do our children need to wait until this district figures this out? For some students is has been 3 years. How would you feel if that was your child? Are you aware that this district had to provide tutoring for 25% of this year's 5th graders last year because they didn't learn what they were supposed to learn in school? Do you care that taxpayers paid for that tutoring and that students who received it were very upset about it? How would you feel if your students were not receiving what you know they should be in school for 3 years? These are qualitative facts that should matter to every parent, teacher and administrator in this district.

11:03 it's great that you and your kids are happy, maybe we can learn something from your experience, but our kids and our schools matter too. To imply otherwise is really selfish. The posters on this blog are negative because we have seen the effects of this plan for 3 years and with multiple schools and students. We have teachers coming out of the woodwork to express their dissatisfaction with these decisions and it is not just because they are also complainers. They are the true experts here, not administrators and certainly not the BOE, no matter how well-intentioned they may be. Until these teachers tell me that they are happy and that this plan enables them to give my children what they need every day, I have no choice but to be involved. Trust me, I wish I didn't.

You state in your comment that you don't understand the changes that are being made. I would recommend that you inform yourself about what the administration has done and are doing by doing what many of the bloggers have done: attend/listen to years of BOE meetings, talk to parents who have high school students at all levels of the academic spectrum, talk to teachers at all grades and in different schools, listen to old podcasts and read through old presentations and research sources on BoardDocs, look to other comparable districts, do your own research and talk to the administrators in depth about their plans. And, yes, look at the data, because it does matter. Without it, all we have are opinions, that's not enough. Like it or not, it is almost all that the middle school and high school looks at to place your children in classes. It is also all that colleges use. D181 administrators don't know how to look at and assess the data, other district's do. This puts our students at a significant disadvantage. And, no, we don't all think our students are math geniuses, we just want them to receive the education we moved to this district for. You may not think it is important but we disagree.

Anonymous said...

11:03: Bravo. You sure had us all fooled. When I read your first comment I actually thought you were serious. But then you posted your second comment and suggested that Marty Turek is running unopposed. I did a double take because I thought, how could anyone be so stupid to think that? But then I smiled. Of course you are not stupid. You are just mocking the current administration by suggesting through your satirical comments that they actually are doing a good job. And you are mocking Marty by suggesting that no one would run against him since he is doing such a good job. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. While people may have opinions about the administration, the FACT is that the election is contested. Marty is being opposed by Giltner, Gray, Burns, Czerwiec and that woman McCurry who is a paid D181 employee and I heard reports to Schneider. So there are 6 people running for 4 openings. Unopposed would mean 4 people running for 4 spots. Silly that anyone actually believed you were serious........Thanks for providing us all with a good belly laugh!

Cautiously hopeful said...

Based on what possible evidence?

"He is a nice man. He is smart man. He lives here in our district and he offers his time to help us all. I trust him to lead the Board. You should trust him too. If he was not doing just an amazing job, he would not be running unopposed for a new term. Unopposed! "

I have never met Mr. Turek but I have listened to the Board of Education podcasts and there is no question that anyone that does the same cannot believe he is the brightest person on the BOE. He was not selected by the Hinsdale Caucus last cycle because there were folks FAR MORE qualified to serve the district. His decision to run deprived the Board of a slate that included the exceptionally well qualified ER physician / business leader, Susan Nedza MD, MBA --

Please get your facts straight! Mr. Turek's term on the Board of Education has been well documented by the folks that run this site, it is nothing to be proud of unless you are perhaps a pal or fellow country club member.

The presence of hard-core anti-tax types among this cycle's Caucus D181 nominating committee and Mr. Turek's avowed interest in using their backing to gain higher office. is the most likely explanation of why he was even nominated.

Frankly Mr. Turek position on the ballot wants me to change my moniker to something a whole lot gloomier.

Anonymous said...

Here is what I see.

1. The documents for tonight's meeting show that they are continuing to move toward getting all students through algebra in middle school as the standard. That is good.

2. A handful of parents are seeing their kids not initially achieving at the level of prior kids in math, and are reasonably concerned. However, the vast majority are satisfied, oblivious or trusting. If they weren't there would have been more than about a dozen parents at the last meeting.

3. Dr. White and Dr. Schneider are ignoring the comments from parents and continuing to implement what they believe is the best plan. There is no reason for them to do anything else. The BOE has not required explanations, accountability or results.

4. The majority of the BOE is somewhat political. They are not very concerned about 5 or 6 parents coming to complain at a meeting. This low of a number is not concerning to the BOE. They trust Dr. White and Dr. Schneider.

5. Both sides seem to be sure they are right, and that the people on the other side are idiots. One side is wrong, but neither side is good at considering that possibility. I suspect that both sides are partially wrong.

6. Even if the administration is moving in the right direction, the BOE is failing to establish any clear understanding/alignment with the parents in the community. The majority has decided that with so few parents complaining, it is easier to be buddies with the administrators. While easier in the short run, it is a costly strategy. When you get parents on board with what you are doing, they will help you. When you lose their trust they a suspicious and biding their time.

7. I suspect that Dr. Schneider and Dr. White are correct, at least in concept, that it is possible for more students to do well in the long-run with integrated classrooms and learning that is focused on understanding math. However, it is reasonable for parents to be included, and they have not been getting much explanation. Of course they are frustrated.

Furthermore, I am skeptical of the administrations ability to implement this complex change successfully. Without involving outside experts, who have done it, without the support and involvement of parents, and without establishing a clear and regular feedback process, there is a high risk of failure. This is a complex change and failing to see that they need parents to understand and support what is being done is a critical error.

The failure to approach the problem properly is the fault of the BOE majority. It is clear that they are not interested in providing transparency to the parents and getting their support.

It is also clear that they are not interested in intelligent questions from parents or minority BOE members at meetings. The questions being raised are obvious and reasonable, but until more than 10 people care to show up, only two of the BOE members care what you are saying. The other five are more interested in politics, not smart enough to understand your concerns, or just trust the administrators, so don't bother. You are wasting your breath.

In the end, if we want things to change, we need to either get a lot more people to come to the BOE meetings, or change the BOE at the next election.

Sooner or later, the parents will regain control. However, when it happens, I am concerned that the frustration level will have gotten so high that the baby may be thrown out with the bath water.

When we finally get enough people stirred up and get control, we need to control our frustration. Involve the best and brightest parents and establish a dialogue with the administration. Parents should expect clear answers, but be willing to listen, be objective, think critically, and consider the possibility that, at least in part, they may be doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

The way I see it is most parents are blissfully ignorant of the proposed changes. And who can blame them with all the pendulum shifts! But come fall when we have inclusive classrooms and the reality sets in, the board meetings will be packed with angry parents. The same thing happened with the math pilot. Last spring a group of parents voiced concerns but they were told that since no one else showed up they were a fringe minority. Then the pilot hit in the fall and all you know what broke loose. We need to stop being reactionary and the success of a program cannot be measured by attendance at BOE meetings.

Anonymous said...

When you talk to district parents it becomes obvious very quickly that they are both oblivious and trusting. That's unfortunate for everyone.

And, yes, there are studies of inner city schools that show that integrated classrooms can help under-performing students do better. But, in a district such as ours, where all students have a strong curriculum, great teachers and support at home, these gains happen only at the expense of the advanced students. And the parents of students who struggle don't want their children to be taught by their peers and agree that is not right to use other students and hold them back so that their children MIGHT have a slightly better experience. The social and emotional toll on these struggling students in the classroom with advanced students is significant. The long term consequences of holding back the strongest students should be unacceptable to each administrator, teacher and parent in this district. One size most definitely does not fit all. And there isn't a study out there of a district such as ours that shows that a plan like this has been successful.

Anonymous said...

Was it my imagination, or did Board of Ed member Mike Nelson's comments in the beginning of the meeting tonight sound identical to the person who posted today at 11:04?!

Anonymous said...

Is that how he treated his clients when he worked in corporate America? No wonder manufacturing in Illinois is flocking to China. They believe in math and education there.

Anonymous said...

Hi 5:57

Exactly. Most parents are oblivious and/or don't understand the importance of math, just like 11:03. Unfortunately four of the BOE members have no more critical thinking skills than 11:03, that is the real problem. That lack of ability is causing them to back the administration and allowing Dr. White and Dr. Schneider to not explain their plan clearly, to not be accountable for delivering on promises, and will not even require them to answer basic questions without double talk. Only Hennigan and Garg see what is happening and are willing to actively represent the parents with intelligent questions, and Heneghan is stepping down. Unfortunately, of the remaining five board members, I think the only one with enough critical thinking skills to see the problem is Jill Vorobiev. The other four are really just 11:03s. They aren't malicious, but aren't up to the task.

Unfortunately, only a few observant, education-focussed families realize that the BOE and administration have ceased to represent the families of d181. The few that do see it are doing two things:

1. They waste time preparing intelligent questions and attending the BOE meetings.

This is pointless when it is clear that Dr. Schneider and Dr. White understand what you said before and are ignoring you. They intentionally talk in circles and pretend they answered. If you don't believe that reread the last BOE meeting transcript. I haven't seen tonight's transcript yet but I am sure it is more of the same. They basically gave all intelligent questions the finger. They are then supported by a BOE member who will give the "have faith" "trust the professionals" or "trust the doctors" empty cliche comments. Who will have the honor tonight? Will it be Turek, Nelson, Yaeger, or Clarin? You can save a few hours and just read the 11:03 post basically it is the same line of thinking.

2. They talk to each other on this blog.

This is all a waste of time too. Dr. Schneider and Dr. White made it clear in the last meeting that they will not have an intelligent honest discussion until you have power over them. There is no point to any more discussion. There is no more ambiguity. No need to continue to point out what ridiculous things they do next. It is time to do something about it or just bend over and take it. The only remaining option is make a coordinated/concerted effort to get more parents informed and get control via the vote in April, but right now there are not enough parents who care or understand the issue, so there is a good chance that it won't happen. I will be there to vote, so we are off to a good start, but I think we will need a few more.

For my family, we monitor our kids math and supplement what the school does so even if d181 drops math, our kids are learning what they need to learn and will know at least A/B calculus before they finish high school. My heart goes out to the rest of the families who don't have the awareness, know how, or skills to do that for their kids and prepare them for college, but I can't save them all.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

This is a shout out to parents Susan Owens, Yvonne Mayer and Nadine Gilbert for their public comments during last night's board meeting. Thank you ladies for saying what many of us listening from home were screaming at the audio feed. The administration is reprehensible for suggesting that they are only going to target the vast majority of students leaving out the unique learners, formerly known as gifted and advanced learners, from the current plans that they rolled up for the board. The suggestion that these unique learners, 30% of our students as Ms. Owens pointed out, will have to wait while the administration figures out what to do with them is utterly ludicrous and in my opinion shows that D181's educational leaders are committing educational malpractice. Thank you to Ms. Mayer for pointing out that even Dr. White has been told by middle school teachers that they have watered down the math curriculum as a result of implementation of the opt in at will procedure that was part of the original advanced learning plan approved by the board in 2013. It is unacceptable that no one on the administrative panel that presented to the board last night owned up to this fact. Why weren't all the board members told this during a public meeting? Thank you to Ms. Gilbert for pointing out that special needs children are also getting short changed by the current plan. Thank you for pointing out that this plan of dumping all special needs kids back into the Gen. Ed classroom is not what was meant by inclusive learning under federal law. Thank you for telling your story as an example of how the "professionals" running special ed in our district should be called out and questioned because they do not necessarily do or know what is right for our kids. Some may, but some do not. Finally, here is a shout out to Mike Nelson, and not a positive shout out, but a "shut your mouth" shout out that I and the five moms who were listening to the meeting with me were screaming as you made your "public comment" in which you essentially told all of us to shut the F up in our criticisms of the "professionals" who are running the department of learning. If you weren't commentor 11:03 from yesterday, you could've been. Your ignorance is telling. Thank God you're stepping off of this Board of Education in less than 3 months.

Susan Blumberg-Kason said...

Let's not forget the others who had the guts to stand up last night. I know of many others at the meeting who wanted to say something but were too worried about implications.

The Parents said...

7:02: We completely agree with you. There were more than three speakers last night who stepped up and explained their concerns with the new proposal on how to revamp the L4A plan. It is a shame that more community members were not in attendance, but we are hoping they were listening from home. The changes being proposed are significant and even the administrators admitted that the current plan doesn't address the needs of all of our learners, only the largest group. We guess the "learning for all plan" no longer means what it says, does it?

Anonymous said...

Did that teacher on the committee actually say that she thinks it is good for accelerated students to serve as academic mentors for the grade level students and that these accelerated students were able to motivate the grade level students when the teachers were unable to? I could swear that is what I heard but I need to go back and listen for the exact language.

Anonymous said...

Susan Blumberg-Kason you also did a great job speaking and thank you for your comments and willingness to make the extra effort for our students.

Susan Blumberg-Kason said...

I don't need any special mention, but just wanted to point out that more than half a dozen parents spoke up. My younger kids are grade level, but I'm very concerned about all our children. It's called civil society. And I don't appreciate being told by an elected official that my voice doesn't count.

Anonymous said...

"And I don't appreciate being told by an elected official that my voice doesn't count."

That is what they think. Except for the day we vote in April, our voices don't count. I am going to be there to make mine heard.

Anonymous said...

@Jay_Wick "combined with the confusion that comes from too many people refusing to use any kind of identifier the effectiveness of this style of communication is far less than it could be."

True, the more open dialogue would be better. However, I do appreciate the parents who have given us a place to exchange ideas and realize that we are not alone in what we see. It is better than most districts have.

I also appreciate those of you who are comfortable / able to identify yourselves. It is helpful.

Many of us are not comfortable because of our children, or our roles within d181, or our spouses role within d181, or our roles in the community. This blog provides us with the only safe place to express our views openly, and honestly.

Anonymous said...

Memorable moment
Mr. Turek was called out for lying to another BOE member to gain a vote for L4A.

His silence in response to the accusation: Priceless

Anonymous said...

7:37 yes, at 1:18:00 into the meeting, the CHMS math teacher did say that by the time 8th grade standard math students get to her math class they are very unmotivated, don't care about math anymore and there is no "peer mentoring" in the class. She then went on to say that she can't wait until all students are in the same differentiated classroom so that the accelerated students can help to motivate these grade level students. Is she saying that accelerated students are better at motivating/teaching grade level math students than teachers? And who will be the peer mentors and teachers for the accelerated students? Do their needs even matter any more in this district? One of the parent speakers pointed out that there are currently over 400 accelerated math middle school students. And probably even more in our elementary schools. Where are the teachers and administrators who are looking out and advocating for their needs? Dr. White said beginning at minute 48:00 that these 400 (really at least 800 district-wide) students were "unique" and that the plan presented last night only addressed the needs of our "greatest group of learners" and that after that plan was completed and those decisions made, they would come back to figuring out how to meet the needs of these 800 "unique" accelerated learners. I have listened to this section of the podcast 3 times and I still can't believe that I am hearing these statements from our teachers and administrators. This plan was supposed to address "Learning For All" but what it should really be called is "Learning For the Greatest Group and the other third will get whatever is left as long as it doesn't interfere with the learning of the greatest group."

jay_wick said...

I know there are those that will never, for whatever reasons, reveal their real identity. I also understand that because of that there are many that will never give much more than a passing interest in the blog. Those are the kind of trade-offs the folks that host the blog apparently are willing to accept.

I do hope that more people do take part in the things like the Caucus' upcoming event to meet / ask questions of the candidates in person. Similarly the local press will soon be running their features that hopefully provide info about the candidates. The Hinsdalean will also be hosting a candidates night.

When folks like Mike Nelson were running for office he touted his ability to make financial adjustments to help address concerns of high spending; the record shows any modest slowing of spending in his first year or two on the BOE has more than been made up for with the recent teacher's contract, growth in other district salaries and overall spending. It is rhetoric like that destroys trust in our governmental institutions.

Further, when Mr. Nelson uses the public comment portion of the BOE meeting to share some belief that the parents and the broader community should rely on experts it reveals much of what needs to change with the attitude of too many on the BOE. Acquiescence will not come theough stonewalling or claiming data is not available. If there is good news about the success of L4A (and I do beleive the teachers that say they have benefited from a renewed focus on improvements in the classrooms) that message has not been appropriately told. We do have MAP scores and ISAT data about the performance of all; share it and don't pretend it is either the only things that matters or totally irrelevant. Just be honest.

Further the parents that have encountered a disconnect between the edicts of L4A and the real needs of their children cannot be brushed aside. The stories they relete are credible and often do include not just frustration but eventual improvement. The whole story is worth getting out to the whole community.

Anonymous said...

Dr White said that the data won't really show you anything. Then he asked Ms. Garg what she wanted to see from the data.

Dr. White. I am a lowly parent, but this is what I want and expect from you when you present the winter MAP data:

In the easy to digest chart format (the one presented by the NWEA) please display the growth (separated by grade and school - no aggregates) of each quintile. No standard deviations!! That is slimy. Report the data the same way as the NWEA. Then actually ANALYZE the data. Are some school preforming better? Some grades? Some quintiles?

That is what I want. No - that it what I demand as a taxpayer and owner of this community. Enough of the double talk. Show me the numbers. And make it in easy to digest charts not 200 plus pages.

Anonymous said...

The parent comment about the 400 accelerated students is at around 2:17. Very informative and enlightening.

I have one small disagreement with this parent, though, Dr. White and his staff do indeed consider these accelerated students mere afterthoughts. If they didn't, their needs would be part of this plan. As it is, the administration is now just pretending that these accelerated kids don't exist until they reach middle school and what is best for them will only happen when and if other student needs are met first. Sad.

Anonymous said...

As I listened to the fiasco last night, I counted no fewer than 3 times Don White was asked questions that he did not or could not answer. There was stone silence after Mr Heneghan and Ms Garg asked several questions. And this is acceptable to us as parents? If White can't answer and we are paying this man more than $230k, what's the point of keeping him on the payroll?
I sure hope when the new board is seated in April, they take a good long look at who these weasels are who are in charge of our district. White, Schneider, Benaitis, Walsh and any teacher who believes advanced students should spend their class time mentoring or supporting standard students should all be shown the door. They can go work elsewhere with a different population where their beliefs are better suited.
These people are harming our kids and they need to go.

Anonymous said...

Dr White what do YOU want to see from the data?
Do YOU know?

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the person who posted at 10:45. Although our administrators and some board members act as though parents who ask for data are being disrepectful, this is part of any administrator's job. In fact, this is part of anyone's job who hopes to make good decisions. Whether you are an M.D., trash collector or a venture capitalist, people make decisions based on efficiency, costs, client satisfaction, and positve results. Board meeting after board meeting, parents have gotten up and spoken about poor results and dissatisfaction. The only people who have ever gotten up to applaud the actions of Dr. White and Dr. Schneider are those EMPLOYED by the district! (Teachers, administrators, out of touch board members, or part time d181 consultants!) This is ridiculous. When you work for the government, you also have to consider the opinions of your constituency. No one in D181 is doing this.

Parents all paid for a head hunter to find us an administrator who would meet the vital qualifications that our community demanded in an administrator. The focus groups and surveys indicated that we needed a superintendent who WOULD provide data analysis. One who would communicate, not just listen, with us. That is why the board selected Dr. White - because he met parent requirements. NOW, for Dr. White to behave as though providing test results for parents and BOE members is too burdensome or confusing is just shocking. During the interview process and initial interviews he claimed to be very analytical and evidence based. Where are the analyses, based on data, that he promised!

In good faith, our board selected this man, over other applicants, based on what he TOLD us. Now, for him to play dumb, and act as though he doesn't understand that his reports require data is despicable. He is violating the terms of his employment and should be terminated immediately. And Jay Wick, please refrain from posting verbose explanations of why we need to give White more time! Parents have spoken to him, written him letters, and made it abundantly clear about our expectations for over a year, yet he continues to disregard us. Although White claims to be hearing our voices, he has made NO EFFORT to act. Game over.
Time for the new board to find a superintendent who can follow through with his promises.

Anonymous said...

At a bare minimum, Dr. White should provide the MAP data analysis he did in Troy. After all, we are paying him a lot more to be here. He certainly is taking advantage of us.

It was quite embarrassing to listen to him hem and haw and deflect questions to Schneider and Walsh.

The question this community wants answered is "are our students performing better today vs. the students who were at their grade level three years ago before this god awful mess called Learning for All?" Please do not tell us that the MAP assessment data can't answer this question for us because it's not conceptual.

The administration is going to try to hide behind the PARCC assessment which is an unknown quantity and they don't even know when we will have the PARCC results or if they will tell us anything.

The BOE should not accept this response. His behavior really amounts to insubordination.

Susan Blumberg-Kason said...

When I interviewed with the D181 caucus, one of the first questions was whether or not I could handle public criticism. For anyone in high profile position, that comes along with the job. It's reality. Accept it. (Just look at my 1- and 2-star Amazon reviews and see what criticism really looks like. You deal with it.) And if we're talking about treating people in high profile positions like we treat doctors, I really think we don't want to go there. My husband is a physician and has been physically assaulted, threatened, ridiculed, made fun of for his choice of footwear, etc. And he continues to return to work day and day to get the job done. His math skills rock, too.

Anonymous said...

In part 1 of the seminal document it was stated that our administrators believe that the goal of education is to equalize the educational outcomes of all students. Pause for a second and let the implications of that statement sink in.

Last night we learned how the administration intends to accomplish this. They are going to ignore the needs of our advanced learners (now "unique learners" - BTW, still a label!), let them languish, and use them as peer mediators to motivate and bring up the bottom.

I have no problem paying $25k in taxes, but I do have a problem paying that much to have my child's needs ignored and used as the hired help. I might as well move to Troy, pay less, and get more.

The presenter last night said that the community is the owner of the schools. This is not what we want. This is not a high achieving school district. This will negatively impact all of our property values. Enough is enough!

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. White and Dr. Schneider:

Please consider the following:

Much of the mess that has been created by implementing L4A without an established plan, metrics, and feedback loop is really not your fault. Many parents understand that.

Presently, however, you appear to believe that controlling information and excluding parents from the process as you work to improve the situation is fine because you have the backing of the BOE. That is a mistake. Even if all of your actions are correct, by not involving parents, you are losing credibility, and once that is gone, you can no longer be effective in this district.

The pushback from the community is building rapidly. In all likelihood, the Board that will be voted in this April will expect a higher level of openness with the community. Making it clear to parents that they are not included in making critical decisions for their children unless they replace the Board, is bad for everyone.

The d181 community is not a typical district. On average, parents here have very high expectations of their children and the district. More parents here expect to have transparency into what is happening and why, and they want to have the opportunity to discuss it and get comfortable that the district is really doing what is best for the kids. This is not just a sales job, but an interactive dialogue. Plans that work in other districts may not work so well here and may need to be modified.

Please consider shifting your position before you are forced to. It will be better for everyone involved. Listen to what they are telling you and try being less defensive. It is fine to admit that there was no real plan in place and you have been scrambling to try to fix it. It is fine to admit failures. It is not fine to try to hide them.

It is even fine to tell them that the test results do not show the hoped for improvement. The truth is that they all know that did not happen already. They keep asking you as a test to see whether you are willing to be honest and level with them and stop being defensive. So far, you continue to fail that test.

I realize that in every community there are crazy people who come to BOE meetings and complain. What is different here is that the people who expressing concerns are some of the most knowledgable, educated, and involved parents in the community.

One way or another, they will be heard and have their opinions considered. There is nothing more important to them than their children.

Anonymous said...

My child is in a D 181 elem school. I attend all of the meetings and have as of yet to speak up and be heard mostly because I truly fear retaliation at my school from teachers and principal. My child's MAP score identified her as an outlier and well above grade level. She was, up till the point of taking the MAP, in a pull out weekly that sometimes happened and sometimes did not. There was no rhyme or reason as to what was done in class vs what was done in the pull out before she took the MAP. After she took the MAP and scored as well as she did, we were told her pull out would become some sort of intervention daily. Now, it is instead another invention of the same story-more differentiated worksheets and assignments that have no curriculum, no basis, no relation to what is covered in grade level or above grade level work and no resource. Her pull out is a mixed bag of kids of varied abilities. Some teachers send kids with academic promise; some have test scores; some can do the work; some copy the work off of their peers when the instructor isn't looking; some kids have no clue but their moms and dads begged for them to be pulled out. I'm told repeatedly that she did okay--despite demonstrating a MAP score one year above grade level at the highest percentile and a RIT score that puts her two grade levels ahead for math. When asked to understand how these results would affect learning and future learning, I was told that my child's MAP score is just one score and not really that important. Teacher observation is key. Let me ask--is it really that teachers are so fail safe and so admirable that they ultimately decide which kids advance and which kids accelerate without data, without objective assessment? When did teacher observation be the be all and end all and when did our children's performance, their achievement, their progress value so little? My kid is a smart student like so many in this district. If she had had the advantage of being at another school where her teacher thought highly of her, where her principal supported her, or where her assessment and MAP score mattered, then perhaps she would be accelerated or given above grade level opportunities, etc. But the subjectivity and the selective preferential treatment and the lack of consistency in our feeder schools is creating an environment where I (and so many others) wish they went to the "right" school. Who cares if my daughter attends a blue ribbon school? I want her to attend the school that accelerates kids, where data matters as well as teacher input, where parents are respected and valued and where leadership validates concerns and teachers encourage students rather than slap them down. My daughter asked me when she would get the results of her MAP test. I told her she did great. She asked me if her teacher said so. I lied and told her yes, your teacher knows what a talented student you are. She went off to bed and I told my wife, we moved here for the schools. We are moving away from the schools. There is no consistency. There are no rules. What's good at Madison, isn't good at The Lane. What works at Elm doesn't work at Oak. The kid at Monroe gets the same score as the kid at Prospect but the kid at Monroe is accelerated and the kid at Prospect sits at grade level. We are a disappointment.

Anonymous said...

I may request a school transfer to the Lane for my son so that he can get the attention he deserves. Kudos to principal Godfrey for having the courage to stand up and do right by the kids. I predict forum shopping of schools and a huge attendance spike at the Lane.

And I agree with the above comment. Teachers and principals have too much discretion in terms of grouping as well as materials. We are one district and you cant have some grouping by ability and accelerating and others having integrated classes and going deeper. It is pure chaos.

Anonymous said...

I just checked the fifth grade placement guidelines on board docs.

Based on my daughter's RIT if she was in fifth grade she would qualify for 7th grade math next year. Unlucky for her she is in 3rd grade and therefore she is only allowed to "go deeper" into third grade materials. But I am supposed to trust these "professionals"?????

Anonymous said...

For the poster you talked about moving neighborhoods and joining The Lane...
don't always assume that differentiation happens equally or without prejudice at any school. The same issues of no guidelines; no objective criteria; inability to communicate standards, observations and concrete data; a lack of fairness; lack of consistency; and an overall general air of miscommunication and prejudice can be applied to all schools who differentiate inequitably and without purpose and guideline. This includes The Lane. We have to have consistency within our own school system in order to be a strong educational base for our children. I don't understand how schools can have different criteria for advancement and acceleration when they are all in the same district feeding into the same school. Is one child less deserving one one side of the tracks than the other? Is one child at a more competitive school going to receive less opportunities because another child is a shining star at a lower performing school? I'm fed up, disgusted and contemplating legal action.

Anonymous said...

count me in! We are full circle from the first lawsuit

Anonymous said...

It won't be long before Principal Godfrey is told by White and Schneider to end the ability groups at The Lane and adopt full inclusion in all grades. Not sure I would request a transfer to this school just yet.

Anonymous said...

Agree but then what happens to the kids at the Lane. Large portions of that school have been double accelerated already. They can't return to grade level.

Anonymous said...

Of course the double excellerated students at The Lane can be returned to grade level. Isn't that the 'socially just' way of education?

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 philosphy 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 lightweigh 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, similarl 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 bacl to the USSR.

Anonymous said...

Well said! But the difference between an Ed. Phd. and the M.D. is that the M.D. would immediately be sued for malpractice by his patients. The hospital at which the faulty research was being conducted would ALSO be sued. Lucky for M.D.'s, at least their insurance companies would pay the legal fees. (ever check how much mds pay for medical insurance? A lot!) But if WE try to sue our Ed. PhDs in D181, taxpayers themselves have to pay ALL the legal fees. Their own attorneys personally, and via our property taxes, ALSO pay for the defense attorneys employed by the district!! Doesn't sound very socially just to me. If we really want to be just, I suggest that the Board of Ed., in light of the very real parent dissatisfaction, consider docking the pay of this administration so that THEIR money can pay for their own malpracrice defense fund. The community should NOT have to pay for the poor decisions and law suit worthy behavior of "doctors" Schneider and White.

Anonymous said...

If anyone wants a chuckle, go read one of the Ph.D. theses of our good "Doctors." Then, and only then, come back and say that you are willing to let them operate with unfettered discretion.

Anonymous said...

If anyone wants to let the good "doctors" of d 181 operate without oversight or critique, they should be first forced to sit through a powerpoint presentation by each of the doctors, presentations that were declared torture by the military tribunal overseeing Gitmo. Then and only then, after proving that they stated awake during the tedious presentations, can they promote their view point. Certainly, Mr. Nelson is unwilling to do so.

Anonymous said...

2:41: Here is the doctoral thesis topic of one of our esteemed administrators: "Barriers and Supports to Providing Non-School Vocational and Related Instruction as an Alternative to School Failure for Youth in Foster Care in an Urban District." (K. Schneider, 5/14/04) Source:

How did this possibly prepare him to run our entire Dept. of Learning? It didn't even deal with elementary or middle school students.

Anonymous said...

I just looked at Kurt Schneider's dissertation. Dr. White absolutely needs to start counseling Dr. Schneider to find another position somewhere other than D181. In fact, the entire Dept. of Learning needs to go. It is NOT Dr. White's fault that these people hold these positions in D181. I take that back, I guess Dr. White did put Sean Walsh in the Dept. of Learning. Unfortunately, that just made it a super inept trifecta. D181 needs to have PROPERLY DEGREED, EXPERIENCED curriculum administrators!!! And, a trained, experienced assessment person. If these changes do not occur asap, then I may be forced to change my opinion of Dr. White's leadership. I am still willing to give him the chance to "right the D181 ship." It has taken at least 7 years for D181 to fall apart. However, things must change NOW!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree that we need QUALIFIED people. IMO, DOL people need more than just the administrator/superintendent endorsement: they need a Curriculum & Instruction endorsement as well. With the Assistant Superintendent level (e.g. Schneider), that should be doctorate level work. With director level (e.g. Walsh & Benaitis), I might be willing to go Masters degree level.

However, endorsements aren't enough; we need people who actually look at the data and listen to the staff & parents. We take MAP 3 times a year, we took ISAT once a year and now PARCC twice a year. We hear staff & parents commenting on the curriculum. Yet the DOL says that we have no data, or that these things are only a single data point. Hello, we've been doing this stuff for YEARS now. How much data, and what kind of data, do you need?

Plus, I'm personally a "Goldilocks-ey" kind of person. I don't want some who kowtows to every single complainer out there, but I also don't want someone who never listens to what people say. We need someone who listens to the staff, parents, and data, analyzes it (without the help of outside consultants), and implement any appropriate changes. Plus, make the decision making process transparent, and accept change when needed. That way, if the DOL has incorrect information or not all pertinent information, can can be addressed.

Anonymous said...

As much as I would like to give Don White a chance to clear out the Department of Learning, I just don't think he is up to the task. He is the one who promoted Kurt Schneider to run the entire department, and he continues to throw his support behind him, Benaitis and Walsh.
In my book, everyone of them should go.