Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Daily Reasons #19, 20, 21 and 22" Why Marty Turek Should NOT be Re-elected to the D181 BOE

Today we are adding 4 new reasons why Mr. Turek should not be reelected.  During the Clarendon Courier debate, he claimed not to read the blog, but acknowledged the existence of this list. There was laughter from members of the audience, but we do not find this list to be a laughing matter.  The reelection of an incumbent is a serious matter, and voters should not just automatically assume that 4 years on the board gives a candidate an automatic right to serve another 4 years.  The incumbent's actions during his term should be properly vetted and evaluated by each voter.  We, therefore, take this list very seriously, and we hope you do too.

#19: "Bottlegate," as we are calling the unfortunate assault committed by one board member against another, followed by the attempts of Dr. Schuster and many of the BOE members to at best minimize it, and at worst deep-six it, brought out the worst qualities in certain board members, including Mr. Turek.  Violence should never be condoned, ignored or allowed to occur without any consequence to the perpetrator.  Board policies that prohibit such conduct, even by board members, on school property should be enforced.  As the Board President during the "Bottlegate" investigation, Mr. Turek let the victim down and let all women who have ever been victims of violence down.  The voters in D181 deserve better and should elect a candidate who will enforce board policy and take no action that can be construed to support violence against any person on school property.  (Click to open Board Policy 8:030Click to open 11/19/13 Post.)

#20:  Mr. Turek has played fast and loose with the Administrators' contracts, in our opinion, interpreting them for the benefit of the Administrator, rather than the taxpayers. When Dr. Schuster announced her resignation in February 2014, despite Mr.Turek's public explanation that she was leaving after year 1 of a 2 year contract extension to return to St. Louis to be closer to her parents, and her public statement that it was a difficult decision for her but that "family is always first," the BOE, under Turek's leadership, allowed her to leave pursuant to the "mutual agreement" provision in her contract, and avoid paying the district $20,000 to be used to pay a search firm to find her replacement.  (Click to open Schuster's contractClick to open 2/10/14 BOE minutes; Click to open 2/10/14 Podcast, go to Counter 1:33:38 and 2:23:21.)  While we respect Schuster's decision to opt out of the second year of her contract extension, it was clear that it was her decision to leave, and by breaking the contract early, she should have paid for the search firm that was contracted to find her replacement.  In our opinion, Mr. Turek did not put the interests of the taxpayers first, and in this case, he should have.

#21:  Similarly, as a reader has pointed out, Mr. Turek, who sets the board agendas with Dr. White (see Policy 2:220), did not schedule a board discussion or board vote on the Administrators' contract renewals on or before April 1, 2015.  Pursuant to language in the the 1 year administrators' contracts, which include Mr. Schneider, unless the BOE informs the administrator prior to April 1 that his/her contract will not be renewed, or takes a formal vote to execute a new contract or revise the contract, the contract automatically is extended for one year, without necessitating a board vote in public (since all board votes must be done in open session).  Similarly, administrators with multi-year contracts can have their contract terminated at the end of any given year of the contract for no cause, at the discretion of the BOE and at no cost to the district (in the form of a buy-out), if done prior to April 1. (Click to open reader comment with links to the contracts.The only BOE meeting scheduled in March was already held on March 9.  The personnel consent agenda the BOE approved did not contain any actions involving the administrators' contracts.  As a result of Mr. Turek's convenient avoidance of putting administrative contract renewals on the March 9th meeting agenda, it appears that all of the 1 year contracts will automatically be extended without the BOE members being given the opportunity to cast a vote in public on each of the administrators.  Similarly, he has avoided the possibility that any board member bring a motion to terminate any of the multi-year contracts without financial penalty to the district. Again, Turek has cut his fellow board members out of discussions and decisions they should have been allowed to participate in.  He has done a disservice to his fellow board members and, in our opinion, to the D181 parents, students and taxpayers.

#22:  As Board President, Mr. Turek should have a working knowledge and understanding of his past board actions, and be able to accurately describe such actions during the public debates for re-election.  It appears that this is not the case.  During the 3/12/14 public debate, in response to a comment made by another candidate, Mr. Turek made a statement that we do not think was accurate.  First, he stated that the reason that the teachers were given salary increases in their most recent contract that were greater than CPI, was because they their prior contract had no raises.  This is simply not true. The teacher's contract executed in 2011 had a salary freeze only in year 1.  The teachers did get raises in years 2 and 3 (click to open HCHTA 2011-2014 contractClick to open Press Release on D181 WebsiteClick to open Financial Analysis of the 2011-2014 HCHTA Contract). Another questionable statement was when Turek stated that the budget is balanced.  While the working budget may appear to be balanced, what Turek neglected to point out was that the same was true of the working budget for the 2013-2014 school year, but when the year ended, the budget actually ended in a $1.28 million deficit (See 6/23/14 Amended Budget Report).  In our opinion, such sloppy recall and either incorrect, or incomplete information, provided to the voters during a campaign is unacceptable and shows why Turek should not be reelected.

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.  

Reason #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.  


Not a kool aid drinker said...

1. Freedom of speech should resonate with everyone in this community otherwise there would be no difference between us and other countries where media access and free speech are censored. Comments should however be constructive since we are attempting to improve a school system and negative personal comments don't help address the issues.

2. I do want to give a shout out to Dr. White. Dr. White Please wake up and smell the kool aid. Mr. Walsh is probably leaving because of this crazy plan and lack of expertise within the department and realizes this could never work in our schools based on his years of experience as a principal.

3. Dr. White please see the kool aid on the wall. Learning for all as being socialized by Dr. Schneider is an example of Utopian Socialism. From Wikipedia "Utopian socialism is a label used to define the first currents of modern socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen.[1] Utopian socialism is often described as the presentation of visions and outlines for imaginary or futuristic ideal societies, with positive ideals being the main reason for moving society in such a direction. Later socialists and critics of utopian socialism viewed "utopian socialism" as not being grounded in actual material conditions of existing society, and in some cases, as reactionary.These visions of ideal societies competed with Marxist-inspired revolutionary social democratic movements.[2]

The term is most often applied to those socialists who lived in the first quarter of the 19th century who were ascribed the label "utopian" by later socialists as a pejorative in order to imply naiveté and to dismiss their ideas as fanciful and unrealistic.[3] A similar school of thought that emerged in the early 20th century is ethical socialism, which makes the case for socialism on moral grounds.

One key difference between "utopian socialists" and other socialists (including most anarchists) is that utopian socialists generally don't believe any form of class struggle or political revolution is necessary for socialism to emerge. Utopians believe that people of all classes can voluntarily adopt their plan for society if it is presented convincingly.[2] They feel their form of cooperative socialism can be established among like-minded people within the existing society, and that their small communities can demonstrate the feasibility of their plan for society.[2]"

Well we are obviously not all like-minded which is what diversity is about and what makes our country so great. We do have a say in what happens since these are our children and we pay the taxes!

Anonymous said...

Does Mr. Turek realize that maybe all of the administrative turnover would not have occurred if they had been more flexible about ability grouping and removed one administrator who's ideas have generated all of this concern? If he is open to spending more and more dollars on an unproven plan and supporting administrators who clearly lack expertise, he is not being objective. After watching the video I was really impressed with Burns, Gray, Giltner and Czerwiec and the openness they would bring to a new board. It was also heartening that five of the candidates supported free speech, Turek included with concerns about negative comments.

Anonymous said...

One of the candidates mentioned Winnetka in the debate. Bloggers, do you have information on the article referenced and the issues in that district?

The Parents said...

8:43: A google search found the following:

Anonymous said...

I think I might be missing something. I thought the candidate was referring to inclusive classrooms as a reason for the lower test scores in Winnetka. This articles seems to place the blame on TERC Investigations. In the article it says that parents would like the district to replace TERC Investigations with Math in Focus. Is there another article that discusses inclusive classrooms in Winnetka?

Anonymous said...

well looks like Winnetka used Investigations. Then parents get accused of questioning the teachers and admin. These decisions are made in a vacuum instead of doing some good ol data analysis of what is actually working in other districts versus just listing districts that are using a program. Thank you for providing the link. Any new administration would evaluate programs after they join to reduce the impact on students of experiencing unnecessary changes during the school year. Investigations and Agile Mind should never have been piloted. What made sense was to pilot the incumbent program, everyday math. Hope we have better results next year. We need someone who knows what they are doing with the curriculum and who takes responsibility for what is happening.

Anonymous said...

The issue of the Winnetka/Wilmette school districts has been brought up at several recent board of education meetings by Dr. Schneider, Mr. Turek and several parents who have family that live in the district.

During public comments I believe a parent referred to the below slide show and I would imagine that the candidate was referring to the general dissatisfaction of what is happening at the Winnetka school district and that includes Investigations, as well as the removal of tiers and advanced learning opportunities in that district.

This slide show is very interesting, especially slides 22-27.

Anonymous said...

Winnetka arose b/c at a recent board meeting, Schneider said that the Northshore school districts were doing what we were doing-this inclusive model/removing tiers/ability groups/etc, specifically referencing Avoca. Turek even stated that he looked at Winnetka’s learning plan on their website and said that ours looked way better than there’s.

One very informed parent found the above referenced slide share which contradicted everything Schneider said, and another very well informed parent refuted Schneider’s claims about Winnetka. She made a public comment stating that either her brother or brother-in-law has children in Winnetka and totally contradicted Schneider and Turek. You can hear this public comment on the podcast. Not sure which boe meeting but it was recent.

Anonymous said...

Didn't we try to pilot Investigations not once but twice? The initial math pilot 2 years ago was also for Investigations I believe.

Anonymous said...

I have also heard the Wilmette/Winnetka discussion via a large group e-mail conversation. The biggest problem with this issue? Why are parents the ones who are finding this type of information? Why are parents the ones finding the inaccuracies in the DOL's information? I certainly don't expect our BOE to google search everything presented by our administration - there should be some level of trust there and it's not their job to do that continuously - but it seems to me that at least they would be asking for documentation related to which other high-performing districts are using inclusive classrooms, which districts have eliminated tiers, programs for advanced learners, etc... and what the results have been. No other like district is doing it? Then why are we? Because we want to be on the "cutting edge" of education? You mean like with the open classroom mess at HMS? No thank you. Parents have been asking for district comparisons for several years now. The administration has yet to provide it so parents have sought it out on their own. Why are they doing the administration's job? Because, after all of the bad decisions, they have completely lost faith in the process and results. I can't imagine that any parent would want to spend their time researching these things. They do it because they feel they have no choice.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I am 1:11 pm. I mixed up Wilmette and Winnetka in my post. This is what I meant to say:

Winnetka and Willmette arose b/c at a recent board meeting, Schneider said that the Northshore school districts were doing what we were doing-this inclusive model/removing tiers/ability groups/etc, specifically referencing Avoca and Wilmette. He said that is was "best practices." Turek even stated that he looked at Wilmette’s learning plan on their website and said that ours looked way better than there’s.

One very informed parent found the above referenced slide share which contradicted everything Schneider said, and another very well informed parent refuted Schneider’s claims about Wilmette. She made a public comment stating that either her brother or brother-in-law has children in Wilmette that they have tiers and advanced learning and grade level acceleration. As you can see from the slide share Wilmette is performing really well. Winnetka, on the other hand is not. The slide share, and the parent, referenced how Winnetka has an integrated service model and no above grade level opportunities. Not sure which boe meeting but it was recent.

Anonymous said...

It is clear what is happening in inclusive classrooms. They teach to the middle, and there is a negative impact on the top and bottom.

They lower the floor and lower the ceiling. That is the opposite of what we were promised. They already see it in the data, which is why they will not discuss how the one-size-fits-all program has delivered on its promised results. That is because they are deceptive and dishonest. You can bet if there was any success at all, you would have seen the data. It is okay to fail, but trying to hide the turd behind the sofa is not okay.

They made a promise, and now they refuse to discuss it. They should admit their failure honestly.

Turek said at the debate that the top students aren't challenged and we should do something about it in the next 2 to 4 years. Are you _____ Kidding Me. You are unconcerned about _____ over that many kids for 2 to 4 years, because you can't get your _____ together? And you can get Schneider and White to get their _______ together for the sake of the children in this district?

How can you sleep at night, Mr. Turek? You are an embarrassment to the people of this district. You should be ashamed of yourself allowing this to go on when you know what is happening and you sit by and not only do nothing, but also block people who express concern about it.

Anonymous said...

We need to move to a system where we challenge students appropriately. Whether this looks at tiering by grade level; whether students are "tracked" with twice yearly evaluations that monitor growth and progress and measure abilities; or a combination of differentiation both in the classroom but also outside the classroom with opportunities created for those unique learners in other classrooms not restricted byg grade level. I believe flexible ability based grouping has to be in place in order for our children to really grow, remain competitive and focused. I see my two children in elem school already facing the struggles that happen when they are not challenged or given enough work to create new learning opportunities. They get sloppy, lazy and bored. They take it for granted that everything is easy and thus end up making careless mistakes. An inclusive classroom just doesn't make sense. We need to uniform as a district and as a school. We have to have guidelines and lines in the sand for what is done at certain test scores, certain classroom performance measures, etc. What'shappening now is a dear friend moving from the city asked me where to buy in Hinsdale. I told her it depends what you want. At one school they ability group across the board but there are no clear cut guidelines as to how it is done. At another school they don't ability group but children are getting placed IN classrooms above grade level on a select basis with opportunities to learn from peers learning materials developmentally appropriate for them. Which do you want? I'd move there then. When I tell friends about what is proposed and half implemented in D 181, they don't understand it. Why would you want to make everyone learn at the same level? What purpose does that serve? Whose needs are you meeting?
Especially when you consider that some classes will have 25 students or 24 students to one teacher in a 2nd or 3rd grade classroom. There is no only ONE choice at the polls this spring. The choice that allows for choice and flexibility in our classrooms.

Anonymous said...

I hope that everyone posting here is also writing the BOE and administration. Preaching to the choir does not effect change.

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree. if we can afford reading specialists and aides in the classroom, we can afford to keep our top performing kids challenged. Otherwise, we are using them for what they bring to the average scores, keeping D181 on top lists and maintaining real estate prices. We can move to Darien or Downers and go to great learning for all Catholic schools. I'd invest the rest of the money saved in the stock market. We cannot afford to be a community that turns it's back on advanced learners or uses them as peer mentors. We cannot afford to be a community who hires tutors to get students to college. And if you look at college matriculation lists for HCHS, York and's an economic difference with more affording private colleges at HCHS. Our children will not just be competing with local districts but children across the nation. Just as great universities do, we cannot turn our back on excellence.

Anonymous said...

FYI Our reading specialists and aides - are minimally trained and from my experience not closing the gap with different learners.

I was told it takes 2 years to see progress with Wilson when other districts see progress - or change the intervention in a couple of weeks.

Learning for all should mean kids are taught the way they learn... not everyone learns the same way...

Jill Quinones said...

Dear 5:12 PM:

The aides may be minimally trained, but currently to get a Reading Specialist certification requires a Master's Degree in Reading. It didn't always, so more senior reading specialists may not have such a degree, but it always required advanced training.

As to intervention switches, I can only speak as to the District in which I work (102), but although we review data on a regular basis, I cannot think of an academic intervention, especially a programmatic one, that we would change in a few weeks. Most interventions are in place for at least 6-12 weeks. If any kind of progress is seen they are continued and perhaps modified. If no progress is seen we seek to determine why and what changes need to be made.

Programs like Wilson and DI do take more time for substantial progress to be noted, but some progress should be captured through required Progress Monitoring after 6-12 weeks, depending on the severity of the weakness.

Jill Quinones said...

Part 2

Unless there are extenuating factors like absenteeism, irregular teaching minutes because of holidays, things like MAP, PARCC, assemblies, holiday parties, ELL issues, etc. When things like this occur it is harder to monitor progress. That's the problem with all of assessing going on today. Kids with special needs need regular, structured teaching minutes and routine for solid progress to take place.