Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Daily Reason #18" Why Marty Turek Should NOT be Re-elected to the D181 BOE

#18: On January 21, 2014, after HMS was closed due to pipes bursting and the 20 year mold infestation being discovered, the BOE voted 6-2 on an emergency plan to get HMS students back to school at CHMS with both schools implementing a split schedule in a shared building. Despite a 1 hour 48 minute administrative presentation, board discussion, parent comments, teacher and principal comments all supporting the idea of a split schedule, Marty Turek cast the sole "No" vote.  (Podcast of 1/21/14 BOE meeting, Counter: 1:47:35.)  His stated reason was that he was voting no "due to the complexities and logistics of moving."  (1/21/14 Meeting Minutes.) The minutes of the meeting, however, reflect that while complex, all parties wanted our students to get back to learning, and even the CHMS principal "noted the need for the community and schools to support one another during these difficult times."  It was shocking that the BOE president would not support the desire of the parents, teachers, principals and fellow board members to take immediate, albeit complex, steps to open a school for the benefit of the HMS students and teachers.  

Running List of the Daily Reasons:

Reason #1:  Four years ago the Hinsdale Caucus got it right when they did not endorse Mr. Turek.  

Reason #2:  As the board president for the last 2 years, Mr. Turek's job has been to preside over the board meetings, however, his actual authority during said meetings is no greater than the other six board members.  (Board Policy 2:110.) Rather than facilitate discussions during the meetings, listen to and take his fellow board members' opinions on issues into consideration, he has attacked them and tried to shut them down. Case in point, suggesting during the 12/9/13 board meeting that well respected Board Member Brendan Heneghan was going down a "rat hole" when he suggested there should be a curriculum committee similar to the finance committee. Less than one year later, a curriculum committee called the Learning Committee has been formed.  We guess Mr. Turek got it wrong when he called Mr. Heneghan out.

Reason #3: Mr. Turek failed to oppose Dr. White's promotion of Kurt Schneider into the position of SOLE Assistant Superintendent of Learning, on July 8, 2014 (or at any meeting since then). (Link to 7/8/14 Superintendent's report.)  Schneider is now responsible for both the curriculum and special education departments. In our opinion, D181's curriculum chaos is the direct result of the lack of true leadership in the Department of Learning and Mr. Turek's support of poor leadership decisions evidences his inability to act in the best interests of D181's students.  We would be remiss in failing to point out that one reason Mr. Turek failed to publicly oppose Dr. White's critical organizational change in the Learning Department was because he did not even attend the 7/8/14 board meeting, the only board meeting scheduled last July.  

Reason #4: During his tenure on the BOE,  Mr. Turek approved Dawn Benaitis' promotion from principal of Monroe School to Director of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction in the Department of Learning.  He also approved her raises. As we previously reported, in less than three years (from 2012-2013 to the 2014-2015 school year), Benaitis' base salary increased 18.8% from $109,660 to $130,250. Further, despite community concerns regarding Ms. Benaitis, on May 29, 2014, Turek voted to approve a multi-year contract for her. (Sources: 3/18/13 Consent Agenda5/6/13 Consent Agenda3/24/14 Personnel consent agendaBenaitis Multi-year contract)  In our 6/4/14 Post we raised serious concerns about the multi-year contracts, including Benaitis', that Turek voted to approve on 5/29/14.  More on that tomorrow......Until then, in our opinion, Mr. Turek's votes to approve outrageous raises and promotions for Benaitis are further examples of poor leadership decisions that establish Turek's inability to act in the best interests of D181's students. 

Reason #5: In our opinion, Mr. Turek showed a lack of fiduciary duty and disregard of D181 taxpayers, when he voted (on 5/29/14) to approve multi-year contracts for 6 administrators that had effective dates of 5/30/14 (during the 2013-2014 school year). See 6/4/14 PostAs we explained in that post, the beginning date of the multi-year contracts was May 30, 2014, just one day after they were approved and overlapped with those administrators' 2013-2014 contracts approved on 3/18/13. Benaitis, for example, was given a multi-year contract that had a term of 3 years and 1 month, with an end date of 6/30/17. Click to open 5/29/14 agenda item with links to each contract. In our opinion, by approving multi-year contracts that overlapped with existing contracts, Mr. Turek (and the BOE majority) circumvented the intent of the Illinois Pension Reform Act for existing staff, negatively Impacting D181 taxpayers.  How? Under the Illinois pension reform act, pensionable salary is capped at $110,000 OR the highest salary specified at the end of an administrator's contract in effect on May 31, 2014. By starting the new multi-year contracts  prior to 5/31, the administrators' pensionable salary will be based on the highest salary specified in the last year of each of their contracts. By entering into multi-year contracts with a start date of 5/30/14, rather than 7/1/14, the administrators avoided having their pensionable salaries be their lower 2013-2014 salaries, as would otherwise have been required under the pension reform law. Instead, their pensions will be based upon their highest salary contracted during the term of the contract. This will directly impact D181 and all Illinois taxpayers whose taxpayer dollars fund the pensions. This will cost everyone more money to fund the existing administrators' pensions in direct contravention of the intent of Illinois legislators whose intent was to "stop the bleeding" by capping pensionable salaries. Is this really what our taxpayers want?(Note: On 11/21/14, an Illinois court struck down the pension reform act.  It is unclear at this time what impact the ruling will have, if any, on the existing administrators' pensionable salary calculation when they eventually retire.  However, when Mr. Turek voted on the overlapping contracts, the negative impact to the taxpayers was clear and he approved them anyway.) (Click to open Chicago Suntimes article.)

Reason #6: As we reported in an earlier post, we are concerned that Mr. Turek does not adequately prepare for meetings or spend the necessary time reviewing and reflecting on board materials in order to be able to participate in a meaningful way. During the 9/9/13 meeting, Turek, referring to his review of the annual ISAT data presentation included in the Board docs for that meeting, stated “I hope my boss isn’t listening because I read it today at work.”   His “admission” was greeted with laughter by some of his fellow board members and administrators.  Board members receive their meeting materials via Board Docs at least the weekend before a Monday meeting so they have time to review and prepare. We know from past board discussions that members are urged to submit questions they have to the superintendent by Monday morning.  How reflective can Turek be, especially in his role as the board president, when he waits until the day of a meeting to review board materials, and then does so while he is supposed to be working? The community should elect members who are willing to adequately prepare for meetings, not do so at the last minute and not shirk their other responsibilities in the process.

Reason #7: Mr. Turek has violated the board agreement that all board members are to have the same information from the Superintendent.  One example we discussed in an earlier post was that during the 8/26/13 board meeting, Turek acknowledged that he had known ahead of time that during the summer, 7 administrators had attended an all expense paid trip to a Social Justice Institute in Milwaukee at which Dr. Schneider was a presenter, and which at least one board member asserted could have been given internally, saving the district and D181 taxpayers thousands of dollars. (See: Meeting minutes.)  In spite of the board agreement that the seven board members agreed to follow, Turek did not share the information he received from Dr. Schuster.  By not correcting Dr. Schuster's violation of not providing all board members the same information, Turek also violated the agreement and showed a lack of respect towards his fellow board members.  

Reason #8: Mr. Turek has been absent from critical board meetings.  For example, he missed the November 24, 2014 Board Meeting at which the board discussed Dr. White's 2013-2014 Achievement and Goals Review Presentation. As we explained in our 11/25 post, last year the board approved 3 performance goals that it directed the administration to track and assess at the start of this school year. At the 11/24 board meeting, the administration finally presented the board with its formal report on the indicators tracked and measured to determine if the 3 goals were met.  In addition, the administration presented this year's individual School Improvement Plans.  As the Board president, Turek works directly with Dr. White to set the meeting agendas.  Turek scheduled these two important matters on a date that created a conflict for principals and parents who might want to attend, but could not due to parent teacher conferences or Thanksgiving travel plans.  Even worse, in our opinion by failing to attend and particpate in the meeting, Turek showed a complete disregard to his board member duties spelled out in Board Policy 2:020 and in particular Subsection 10 that requires a board member to "[e]valuat[e] the educational program and approv[e] School Improvement and District Improvement Plans. Presenting the District report card and School report card(s) to parents/guardians and the community; these documents report District, School and student performance." Why was Turek absent? Was he on vacation? Was he attending evening parent teacher conferences, rather than schedule his for the next day?  Turek could have directed Dr. White to schedule these agenda items for another date much earlier in the school year, rather than the last meeting in November during a week that guaranteed poor attendance by the community and apparently by him. The board needs members and a president who will comply with the board policies and schedule agenda items in a manner that will promote transparency and community, staff and board member participation.
Reason #9:  Mr. Turek is rude to community members who attempt to participate at board meetings as committee members or who wish to make public comments.  He conveniently "forgets" that board meeting procedure allows for public comment at the end of each board meeting. One example was during the 8/26/13 Board Meeting at which the Board attempted to set the performance goals it wanted the administration to track and measure.  As we previously reported, a committee had been formed to develop the goals and included a community member, Matt Bousquette, who is highly respected in our community and currently serves as the D181 Foundation President.  Despite his service on the committee, and Member Heneghan's and Garg's requests that he be allowed to address the full board regarding the administration's recommended goals, which Mr. Bousquette believed were inconsistent with those developed by the committee. The administration and Turek (who as president runs the meetings), denied him permission to address the full board during the goals discussion. Not only did Turek refuse to acknowledge Mr. Bousquette and give him a forum to speak, at the end of the meeting, Turek attempted to adjourn the meeting without allowing public comment.  Fortunately, this did not happen and Mr. Bousquette finally had an opportunity to express his concerns, albeit, not in a timely manner that allowed the board to his issues during their goal's discussion. Mr. Bouquette pointed out that refusing to allow him to participate during the discussion,  and question the administration's recommendations that did not match those developed by the committee, proved that the committee a "sham." Appointing a parent to a committee, only to prevent his full participation and then to treat him with disrespect at the public meeting at which the committee's work is discussed, is the polar opposite of involvement, does not create an environment of trust and is precisely what Mr. Bousquette called it -- a "sham." The community deserves to have board members who respect all community members, especially those who provide a public service by participating on  committees, take  time to attend board meetings and desire to make public comments.  In our opinion, Turek's action show his disdain for community member input and establish yet another reason why he should not be reelected.

Reason #10: In our opinion, Turek has made no effort to accommodate community members' requests to participate meaningfully in community engagement opportunities; in the process he has violated board policy by failing to ask his fellow board members what their positions are before he announces "board" decisions. One example was at the 10/17/13 board meeting which was run as a round table "Visioning Workshop." Participation during the "workshop" was by administrative invitation only, although public comments were allowed at the beginning of the meeting. (See Post on the 10/17/13 board meeting.) During public comment, one parent asked the board to allow community members who were in attendance to join a workshop table.  Another community and former school board member, Ann Mueller, asked to be allowed to join a round table as a member of the Facilities Committee, pointing out that there would be room at one of the tables, since Board Member Michael Nelson, who was also on the Facilities Committee, was absent again.  At the conclusion of all comments, without seeking input from any of the other board members, Turek simply denied the requests, saying it would not be possible to add additional chairs to the round tables. His rationale for denying the request was proven false by community members who stayed at the meeting and reported that there were empty seats at some of the tables. Turek's failure to accommodate any of the non-invitees and allow them to fill empty seats at the workshop tables, along with his complete lack of engagement with his fellow board members to seek their opinion on the public's requests, show that Turek has assumed powers and authority not allowed by Board Policy 2:110. That policy states that while the president "presides" over the meetings, "[t]he President is permitted to participate in all Board meetings in a manner equal to all other Board members" and does not afford him the right to make individual decisions. The community deserves a board of SEVEN EQUAL members, all with the same decision making authority, not a board member that behaves as if he has more authority than the rest.

Reason #11:  At the same time that Mr. Turek has limited the public's ability to participate in a meaningful way during board meetings (see #9 and #10) and shown that he waits till the last minute to prepare for meetings (see #6), he has also downplayed the importance of people's actual participation in meetings.  Case in point, at the same 10/17/13 board meeting referenced in #10, he made the following (in our opinion) inappropriate statement:  "I am confident that everybody had something better to do tonight than to come here but I do appreciate it." We couldn't believe the board president would actually make such a ridiculous statement.  Is it too much to believe that all of the community members, teachers, PTO presidents, Finance Committee members, administrators and other hand picked invitees actually wanted to be at the meeting and viewed it as a priority?  We do believe that everyone who participated in the round table discussions took their job seriously and if they showed up, they wanted to be there.  Perhaps the disrespect Mr. Turek showed them in his comment was reflective of his own lackadaisical attitude towards participating as a board member, an attitude that no board member should have if they really want to be reelected.

Reason #12:  Mr. Turek does not believe in open governance for “others” as mandated by Illinois law. As we discussed in our November 3, 2013 post (click to open post), one of the"absurdities" that took place during the October 28, 2013 board meeting was Turek pontificating on his plans to meet with Illinois Representative Patricia Bellock to ask for reform of the Freedom of Information Act in order to limit the public’s right to access public records. If you haven't listened to the Podcast of the meeting, we encourage you all to listen to the FOIA discussion that took place. It begins at 2:15:20 (or with 8:05 left) on the time counter. It is important to hear how ignorant Turek is about the realities of the Freedom of Information Act and the reforms that the Illinois legislators implemented in 2010 to EXPAND, not LIMIT, the public's right to access public records. Illinois legislators realized that there was a need for more "sunshine"laws (as FOIA laws are commonly called), not darkness! Mr. Turek said: "I, as a board member, and possibly as a individual am going to be contacting Representative Patti Bellock who has historically spearheaded FOIA reform to get us out of this business of FOIA reports that take up our staff 60+ hours and over $4,000." In our opinion, Turek is exactly the kind of public official that FOIA reform was intended to protect the public from, rather than see re-elected into office.

Reason #13:  Mr. Turek is a FOIA hypocrite. While he publicly calls for Freedom of Information Act reform to limit the public's access to public records (Reason #12), as we reported in our 1/30/14 Post it seems that since Spring 2013, Mr. Turek has filed multiple, broad requests dealing with the technology infrastructure in Districts 86, 90, 13, 4 (and possibly more). And he has done so on behalf of the technology business he works for:  Vision Solutions. Considering that he has been so critical of others who have filed FOIA requests in D181, in our opinion, he has no right to be a self-righteous hypocrite. 

Reason #14:  One year ago, as a result of cold air from the Polar Vortex filling the poorly insulated walls at Hinsdale Middle School, 2 pipes burst on January 4 and January 8.  The flooding and clean up of the building resulting from the burst pipe ultimately led to the discovery of the 20 year mold infestation in the building, the closure of the middle school and split schedules for all students at HMS and CHMS.  It cost $2 million of tax payer money to strip and replace most of the dry wall in HMS and clean up the mold. In our opinion, from the onset of the HMS crisis, as the board president, Mr. Turek mishandled the situation.  As president, he had (or should have had) direct contact with the superintendent, who as we all learned later, was "on vacation" even while students were returning to school after winter break.  (See 1/12/14 Post.) Not only was she on vacation at the onset of the crisis, but communications that were sent to parents did not explain the seriousness or gravity of the situation. Board meeting agendas (set by the board president -- Mr. Turek -- and the superintendent) did not include information regarding the crisis.   It took two teachers exposing the true nature of the situation at the January 13, 2014 board meeting before the community was finally made aware that more was going on than a burst pipe and that teachers believed there was a mold issue.  At the January 13 meeting, Mr. Turek was quick to scramble and claim that a discussion of the HMS environmental concerns was on the agenda for board discussion, but as we pointed out in our 1/15/14 Post, anyone who reviewed the Board Meeting agenda would have been unable to find a discussion item regarding these concerns.  Mr. Turek tried to suggest that the Facilities Committee report that was on the agenda was intended to cover this topic, but the materials posted on Board docs proved otherwise.  D181 deserves board members who will be fully transparent with information, especially during a health and building crisis, will proactively provide information and ensure that the full board discusses the issues at the first opportunity.  D181 does not need a board member/president who avoids setting important health and safety issues on board meeting agendas and when "outed" about the gravity of the situation, will twist, spin and misrepresent the true nature of the agenda items.  As the board president, Mr. Turek should have used his common sense and understood the importance of putting the HMS crisis on the 1/13 board meeting agenda -- front and center.  His failure to do so is yet another example of his poor leadership and reason why he must not be reelected.

Reason #15:  During the last board meeting, Mr. Turek supported the Administration's plan to explain the Learning For All Plan at board meetings over the next three months, starting with yet another Macro level presentation on January 26.  Mr. Turek said these meetings will "socialize" the community on the Learning for All Plan.  This statement sounded odd and so we asked ourselves, what exactly could Mr. Turek mean?  According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, "socialize" means "to teach (someone) to behave in a way that is acceptable in society."    According to "The Free Dictionary"  (available online), "socialize" means "to cause to accept or behave in accordance with social norms or expectations." Once we read these definitions, Mr. Turek's meaning in making his statement became clear to us.  It is our opinion that Mr. Turek expects that the LFA presentations will teach all of us -- parents, community members, teachers, and most importantly our children -- to accept and follow all the educational mantras that the administration has been espousing for over three years.  It is our opinion that he believes the "socially acceptable" way we must behave is by following and blindly accepting the LFA plan.  

Well, sorry, Mr. Turek. We are not that stupid. After watching our kids be subjected to and harmed by the constantly morphing educational plan that Dr. Schneider and his predecessors have forced upon our children, no amount of "presentations" will "socialize" us to behave in a manner that is acceptable to the administration. We will not blindly accept the plan as "best practice." We will not sit silently and ignore the damage to our children's education this ever changing plan has caused. And we will not RE-ELECT any current board member foolish enough to claim he sees the "emperor's clothes" and wants all of us to say we see them too! If Mr. Turek really believes that what our community needs is to be socialized to the LFA Plan, and he doesn't see that what is needed is a presentation to the board and community that includes COLD HARD DATA on whether or not this plan works, grade by grade, subject by subject, school by school, then he has no right to ask the voting public to support him for another 4 years. 

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

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

(Source:  2/19/15 Hinsdalean, also accessible at
You can draw your own conclusions regarding Turek's candidacy and his record on the school board.  Just compare his answers to those of the other candidates:
(Source:  2/19/15 The Hinsdalean, also accessible at
All we bloggers know is it takes longer to place a custom coffee order at Starbucks than it does to state Reason 17 why Turek should NOT be in the BOE race.  


Yvonne Mayer said...

In the April 7th D181 BOE Election, I will be voting for John Czerwiec, Jennifer Burns, Leslie Gray and Richard Giltner. I have gotten to know the first 3 over the last five years and believe they will serve our children and D181's taxpayers well. I support Richard Giltner because I attended last week's Hinsdalean Debate and was impressed with the answers he gave that show he will exercise fiscal restraint. Czerwiec, Burns and Gray will do the same, while also maintaining the academic excellence in our schools. As most of you know, I cannot support Marty Turek for reelection. I served on the BOE with him for 2 years and when I was physically assaulted by a fellow board member during an executive session, he minimized the seriousness of the situation and attempted to deep six the investigation. If D181 voters want to elect a person who condones violence against any woman (even one who is strong minded and doesn't back down from principals she believes in) then he is your man. But he is definitely not mine.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading board docs and listening to the podcast of Monday's meeting. I also happened to look at facebook this morning and saw that Candidate McCurry posted on her page that she has officially resigned her position as paid D181 parent liaison.

She states: "I have an update regarding my current status. I've accelerated my time table a bit and submitted my resignation yesterday as an employee of D181 (Parent Liaison for the Family Resource Network). Obviously, when I decided to run for the District 181 board of Education, I knew I would not continue my paid position. In order to honor, however, the parent education work and my co-workers, I was committed to see out my responsibilities as best as possible. I am now confident that my duties for the remaining school year will be fully supported and carried out by my competent colleague(s). My resignation needed to be approved by the school board at last night's meeting since it was the last remaining meeting before the April 7th election. It is now time for me to focus my energies on this election and serving my community as a potential board member!"

Why then isn't her resignation posted on board docs on the personnel consent agenda or an addendum to the personnel consent agenda that were approved by the BOE on Monday?

See:$file/Personnel%20Agenda_3_9_15.pdf and$file/Personnel%20Agenda_Addendum_3_9_15.pdf

Also, if it was her plan all along to resign before the election, why didn't she say this during her opening statement of last week's Hinsdalean debate or when she told a Doing's reporter after filing her petitions last December that she might resign? Did she ever actually state publicly to the press that she was definitely going to resign before the election?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Mayer, you say that Mr. Turek condones violence against women, which is quite an accusation. Since you are speaking about the water bottle incident, perhaps you could tell the readers if Mr. Turek was the only board member trying to "deep six" the investigation? Did any board members ask for further investigation, and if so, what were the reasons stated for not following through? I am not asking to be snarky, I am asking to fully understand the situation. Can you honestly say that only Mr. Turek minimized the situation?

Yvonne Mayer said...

12:48: The only board member who defended me after the assault, and after Dr. Schuster accused me of marking up my own arm, was Mr. Heneghan. In the months that followed, after I learned that Dr. Schuster was threatening parents who spoke out against the administration via email or during board meetings with a board policy that deals with "inappropriate conduct" while on school property, I lodged a formal complaint using this same policy. Only after Dr. Schuster tried to use this policy against district parents did I become aware that such a policy existed. You can learn more about that by reading

Mr. Turek was the board president at the time. Other board members, such as Nelson, Yaeger, Clarin and Vorobiev had no interest in allowing me any kind of hearing on my complaint. Only Heneghan and Garg did. The district spent thousands of dollars on lawyers who wrote a report that found the assault inconclusive and then did not allow me a formal hearing. It was nothing but a glorified kangaroo court.

I raise this issue now on this blog because ONLY MR. TUREK is running for reelection. Nelson and Yaeger have chosen not to seek a second term. Had they done so, I would have included them in my current criticism.

At no time did Mr. Turek EVER ask me if I was o.k.
THAT is not O.K. (same for everyone else who was on the BOE when I was assaulted, EXCEPT for Mr. Heneghan, who went out of his way to make sure I was fine.) The community deserves to have BOE members who show some recognition of basic SELAS values. Some recognition that it is NEVER ok to physically assault another person, male or female. Unfortunately, his personal dislike for me as a person and board member exposed his true character during this unfortunate situation. I cannot and will not ever support him for any elective office.

Anonymous said...

I am a parent who opted her children out of the ISAT testing last year in this district, and who will opt one of my children out of the last few days of the PARCC test this year. Since I went through this last year, I can personally tell you that although the district lied and threatened that I was breaking the law, legally and ethcally they had no right to say those things. Nothing bad every happened to me or my children. The school did not lose any money. The only thing that is required by law is that the school OFFER the test to my child. My child does NOT have to take it. A school cannot FORCE a child to do anything.

My children proudly say the Pledge of Allegiance with their hands on their hearts, and celebrate St. Valentine's and St. Patrick's day. They celebrate WWII day while learning about history. Thousands of D181 Christian children participate in Halloween, St. Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's day activities at school, though, even though the law says you are not supposed to celebrate religious holidays. We all make exceptions because to me, and many others, its not THAT big of a deal. I understand that parents don't want to make their children uncomfortable by standing up for their own religous convictions, so parents let it slide. My children are Christian and participate because they need a break every now and then even though our church tells us not to celebrate Halloween. Do I think its weird that our High School is named after the devil and there are depictions of satan everywhere? Yes. Its creepy, but that is a battle I don't feel like taking on in this town. And if I were HIndu, Jewish, Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, or Muslim, I would wonder why the schools don't celebrate any of those holidays. However, I understand and sympathize that these are events that provide fun and motivation for kids.

But with PARCC testing, the schools are clearly distorting the law and are trying to pressure our kids to do things that are educationally very controversial and criticized. We parents have every right to stand up for these facts. Forcing all children to take an experimental test that our superintendent still has no idea of when or what kind of data will be collected from the PARCC is silly and not beneficial in any way for our kids or our teachers. I make my children take the MAP tests, school tests, try to get them to do all of thier homework, and participate in after school activies. The MAP tests are enough. This last month, after the Map, my child took the Algebra readiness test and 2 other tests that I didn't even know existed. That's fine. They are well respected tests that provide excellent results - granted someone in the district looks at them. But this is why I refuse to let my child waste 5 days of practice testing, and then testing for the questionable PARCC test. Illinois is only onoe of the last 10 states still using this test - and we know where Illinois ranks in school achievemment. Below average.

I am all for follwing the law, and for encouraging my children to folllow the rules, but when the law is misunderstood, and children are losing out on valuable instruction time that they are owed, that's when it is time for parents to advocate for their children.
If some parents like their children sitting in a chair for 5 days practicing how to use headphones and and how to answer practice questions on a laptop, it makes me wonder why. Our children have been using headphones and laptops since they were 3 years old. It is a terribly redundant and wasteful way to make our children spend their time in school. I resent the fact that I went through this last year, even though I provided all the necessary facts and data, yet they still disrespect the law and my wishes. Standing up for our country's laws is our civic duty. If our schools are now teaching our children that it is wrong to follow the law, and does not really support democracy, then why are we teaching history and social studies?

Anonymous said...

Legal references showing that opt out of PARCC is legal:

November 10, 2014

Deptford Township School District
2022 Good Intent Road
Deptford, NJ 08096

Attention: Paul Spaventa – Interim Superintendent

Reference: xxxxx and xxxxx Carr - Refusal of all State Standardized Tests

Dear Mr. Spaventa:

We have read your response letter, numerous times in fact, and we are a little taken aback by it. We are in no way asking for your permission to REFUSE these standardized tests, assessments, questionnaires and surveys for our children. The Constitution and Supreme Court rulings supersede any authority you think you may have over our decision as taxpaying parents within this district. It is our right as parents to refuse to allow our children to take the state standardized tests because our parental rights are broadly protected by United States Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children” and the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten "liberties" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).

Please see additional rulings:

It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. . . . It is in recognition of this that these decisions have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.
- Prince v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944)

This Court has long recognized that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974)

In a long line of cases, we have held that, in addition to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the "liberty" specially protected by the Due Process Clause includes the rights . . . to direct the education and upbringing of one's children.
The Fourteenth Amendment "forbids the government to infringe ... 'fundamental' liberty interests of all, no matter what process is provided, unless the infringement is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest."
- Washington v. Glucksburg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997)

The liberty interest at issue in this case-the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children-is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.
In light of this extensive precedent, it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.
The problem here is not that the Washington Superior Court intervened, but that when it did so, it gave no special weight at all to Granville's determination of her daughters' best interests. More importantly, it appears that the Superior Court applied exactly the opposite presumption.


Anonymous said...

Part 2 - Legal Citations in Spaventa Opt Out Letter:

The Due Process Clause does not permit a State to infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make childrearing decisions simply because a state judge believes a 'better' decision could be made.
- Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000)
Furthermore, there is no “federal law” that requires the state or district to “implement” anything you referred to, or you would have included that paperwork as well. The state implemented common core standards and standardized tests voluntarily, to obtain Race to the Top federal funds. Period. It’s bad enough that the Federal Government has resorted to blackmailing the states to receive their own money, we will not allow the District to visit the States’ burden of obligation on our children. Your own paperwork on Title 6A:8-4.1 states that the District “SHALL” administer the tests; it does not say that our children have to TAKE these tests. We understand that neither of our children are of the age to be subjected to the PARCC test yet, but we REFUSE any and all state assessments that are common core aligned, up to and including it and the MAP tests.

You did not have to make this adversarial; you could have just accepted our refusal as many reasonable districts around the state and country have done. As we’ve stated in our original letter, we have the utmost confidence in the teaching skills of our son’s teachers and their ability to determine and calculate their grades from daily class participation, class work, home work, quizzes and tests. We believe these standardized tests to be developmentally inappropriate and contain questionable and often inaccurate material, and will not subject xxxxx and xxxxx to the inevitable anxiety and stress that children all over the country are feeling.

We are prepared to go to the media, the ACLU and to obtain legal counsel if you do not comply, and our parental rights or the rights of our children are violated. That includes carrying out the “sit and stare” policy that some districts are enforcing, as this is psychological child abuse and will not be tolerated. We do not expect our children to be retaliated against or treated any differently due to our position on this subject. It is by no fault of their own that they are in this situation. Nor do we expect to have to repeat this every time a standardized test is administered. This refusal should go into both of our children’s files.

To reiterate: Deptford School District does not have our permission to compel our children to take any state / district standardized test or assessment. Under our guardianship, our minor children will refuse same. In addition, various tests / assessments will be properly scored as a “refusal,” will be considered “invalid,” and will not be included in the participation rate. Any attempt by your school district to otherwise code, score, or deviate from these instructions would constitute a due process violation of governmental procedure. Furthermore, during the administration of any and all make-up tests, my child will continue to receive a free and appropriate public education in his regular classroom environment, alongside the rest of his classmates. You are hereby on notice that any state agent who ignores my parental instruction, and/or who compels, harasses, intimidates, or otherwise forces my minor child, or attempts same, in any way, to participate in any standardized test or assessment, and/or who takes any action that causes my child emotional, psychological, and/or physical harm against these express instructions, will be in violation of federal and state constitutional law, statutory law, and common law.

I trust there will be no further need for clarification.


Kevin W. Carr

Stacy L. Carr

cc: Mr. David Hespe, Acting Commissioner of the NJDOE
Ms. xxxxx, President, Deptford BOE
Mrs. xxxxx, Principal
Mr. xxxxx, Principal
Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher
Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher
Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher

The Parents said...

Thank you Ms. Mayer for your candor. We find the way you were treated by Schuster, Turek, Nelson, Yaeger, and the perpetrator during the "bottle incident," to be abhorrent and the double standard the administration used in deciding when to threaten or use the board policy to be absolutely hypocritical. The fact that Mr. Turek did nothing to stop this hypocrisy is another reason why he shouldn't be reelected. We are grateful that Nelson and Yaeger have chosen not to run for reelection. It is very unfortunate that Mr. Heneghan is not running again because he is a board member of the highest integrity and will be missed.

Anonymous said...

What do the children do when you opt them out? Can they read at their desks or do they just have to sit there? I am thinking of opting out in May. If our administration won't stand up for us maybe parents need to take things in our own hands to make a statement. Next year we are scheduled to take the PARCC test 3 times. That is just too much.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Mayer, thank you for explaining your comments, it was quite helpful in getting a better understanding of things.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand what the benefit is to opting out of the PAARC. The PAARC is aligned to the Common Core, and the Common Core is going to be aligned with the ACT and SAT.

I do not think the test needs to be as long as it is, but since I can't change that, it seems to be worthwhile to have them take the test and learn what we can from it.

Anonymous said...

Children grades 3-5 do not need to be thinking about the ACT, they need the additional instruction time. A message needs to be sent to the powers that be that this type of extreme testing isn't appropriate. Everyone agrees that standardized testing is necessary for many reasons, but our children and teachers deserve better than the PARCC test.

Anonymous said...

I am not saying the kids need to be thinking about the ACT. I am saying that it is good for parents and administrators to see how they are progressing in the learning the information that eventually leads to the ACT.

My kid did not think the test was unreasonable last week. It is my understanding that when they take the Parcc "again" in a month or two, that it is actually another section, and not a retake.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that people have issues with the content of PARCC or standardized testing and they understand that it is aligned to the CC which will be helpful. The issue is that students are losing an extreme amount of instruction time to take it. And, yes, there will be more in May. And the plan is to have them take it 3 times next year and thereafter. Unless parents, teachers and administrators speak up and demand something more reasonable. I am very happy that I do not have a 5th grader, they have been testing and preparing to test almost non-stop this year. Someone needs to step up as the Winnetka and other superintendents have and put a stop to it. Not CC testing that will hopefully drive classroom instruction, but the excessive amount of time devoted to it.

Anonymous said...

They take one test that is broken up into multiple parts, annually. The three parts are not the same test being retaken and just wasting time.

Opting out will not help your kids. The far right and far left are opposed for different reasons.

What will help kids in this district is to expect transparency and to get rid of L4A and "social justice" b.s.

I know parents are frustrated and all of this has not been explained well, but opting out of the PAARC will not help your kids.

I suggest allowing the to take it and ask them how it went every day.

I think the general frustration is causing people to push back on everything, and that is not good.