Having said that, our second reflection is not so positive. Despite over two years of presenting and discussing facts and data, "unswirling" fiction about programs such as Advanced Learning/Learning for All/Learning for None, and exposing the "Emperors New Clothes" for what they were -- rather what they were not -- we have come to the sad realization that not much has changed in the "Castle" -- the D181 Central Office Administration. Despite a change in the "ruler," there continues to be spin, lack of transparency, and in our opinion more invisible clothing being manufactured and paraded about town for "all to see." Sadly, the monarchy still believes that D181 parents, taxpayers and residents are idiots who will not see the latest administrative antics for what they are and how they may continue to hurt our children's education.
The latest "fiction" (in our opinion) comes in the form of the recent announcement that the Central Office is going to once again be reorganized, the Department of Learning split back into two distinct sub-departments -- 1. Curriculum and Instruction and 2) Pupil Personnel Services (predominantly Special education, plus ELL). We believe that despite the "announcement," D181's ruler is not taking the necessary steps to effect meaningful and much needed change in the Department of Learning. To fully understand how we have come to this conclusion, let us review some history.
A Historical Primer -- The Department of "Learning" -- The Last Seven Years
- The last time D181 had a dedicated, experienced expert in the field of curriculum and instruction to serve as the Assistant Superintendent of Learning was seven years ago, under former Superintendent Tenbusch.
- Tenbusch's brief, eleven month tenure in our district was wrought with administrative turnover, as the majority of administrators hired by former Superintendent Mary Curley were essentially shown the door by a BOE that many community members believe desired to get rid of all central administrators she had hired.
- When Tenbusch also "suddenly" resigned, Dr. Janet Stutz was hired to run the Department of Learning (but not the Department of Special Education) by Associate Superintendent Mary Ticknor. (The BOE had promoted Ms. Ticknor from Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, to essentially run the district that summer during the search for an interim superintendent.) Dr. Stutz did not have a background or experience as a Curriculum Administrator, rather came to D181 as a former principal and background in facilities.
- Despite much public criticism about the curriculum, testing and placement criteria changes Dr, Stutz implemented, she managed to serve as the Assistant Superintendent for nearly five years, before leaving two years ago to become a superintendent elsewhere, (Preceding her departure was Ms. Ticknor, who also left to become a superintendent in another district after continuing in her role as Associate Superintendent during the two years that Dr. Robert Sabatino was hired to serve as Interim Superintendent. Five years ago, Dr. Schuster was hired as Superintendent. She left in May 2014 and Dr. White was hired.)
- Replacing Stutz was Kevin Russell, who within one year was double promoted by Schuster, first from Walker School principal to Director of Assessment during Stutz's last year, and then to Assistant Superintendent of Learning. Russell departed one year ago to also become a superintendent in another district, When he left, his position as Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) was merged with Dr. Schneider's position of Assistant Superintendent of Learning (PPS), who became the sole Assistant Superintendent of Learning.
- Recall that Dr. Schneider was originally hired in July 2012 to serve as the Assistant Superintendent of PPS (Special Education) after former Assistant Superintendent of PPS, Pam Kazee, was hired by a high school district. As we have written about extensively on this blog, Dr. Schneider's role as the head Special Education administrator quickly morphed into an expanded role where he (in our opinion) was allowed to implement his social justice theories and create the Advanced Learning/Learning For All/Acceleration for all then acceleration for none/One Size Fits All instructional model. When Russell left, Scheider was officially given ALL of the curriculum oversight responsibilities byWhite who came on board right after Russell left.
- During the last year, we the bloggers and many brave parents and even some teachers, have called out the Department of Learning, exposing quite a few problems including lack of administrative experience and training in the various Department of Learning positions, lack of data analysis and implementation of experimental programs that were driven by a social justice agenda that has no place in our district and has not been proven to serve high achieving, gifted, advanced, "unique" or talented students.
Dr. White's Announcement to Reorganize the Central Administrative Office, Specifically the Department of Learning -- Fact or Fiction?
Our last three posts have focused on the Dr. White's announcement that he has decided to split the Department of Learning back into two distinct sections, 1. Curriculum and Instruction and 2. PPS (special education focused services) and move Dr. Schneider back into only serving as the Assistant Superintendent of Learning (PPS), rather than overseeing the entire department.
While we have commended Dr. White's decision to do this, we must now question how sincere he actually is going to be in implementing this much needed curriculum leadership change.
We, along with many of our readers who have submitted comments, have already questioned the almost covert manner in which this announcement was made -- in the dead of summer, first going only to teachers and not parents or community members, then only getting a short blurb by Dr. White during the July 13th "special board meeting" and having his announcement suggest that Scheider will still be involved in non-SPED related curriculum and instruction decisions. One informed parent has already written to White reminding him that the district requires the head of Special Education services to be 100% dedicated to that position, yet White refuses to acknowledge this requirement. Why?
But as with the past experiences with the "Emperor's new clothes" we now believe that the claim that White is seeking to hire someone to serve as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction because he has "listen[ed][ to our community's needs and desires for our schools and implement[ed] the changes that will most effectively help us achieve our mission of providing an environment of educational excellence for each student," may be more spin and fiction. Why do we say this?
Clearly, after years of having non-qualified, experienced, trained curriculum administrators running the Department of Learning with the end result being that our children have lost years of getting to participate and experience a proven, highest quality instructional model that truly meets the needs of each learner, it should be obvious that what the district needs is a full time, experienced, qualified, proven curriculum administrator with an expertise in the field. D181 does not need a part time, retired, generic administrator to step into this role, or an untested, inexperienced, first timer, learn on the job employee. Nor does D181 need a person with a desire to experiment on our children to "vet" unproven educational theories. A recognition of what is needed would result in the crafting of a JOB DESCRIPTION with stated criteria of education, work experience and the specifics of the day to day responsibilities that the new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) will be responsible for.
Ahem. Double ahem. So why do we only have White's empty words and representations and NOTHING else to prove that D181 is actually undertaking a legitimate search for the best qualified curriculum administrator our tax dollars can afford? There is NOTHING of substance to prove that a legitimate job search is underway to identify, vet, interview and consider a pool of qualified candidates with curriculum expertise. There is NOTHING to prove that White's plans to hire someone new are nothing more than a fiction that will end in some internal promotion or external hire of another of White's former employees or connections (who may or may not be qualified for the role).
Why do we say this? We have done some research on the process D181 is following to hire a new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction). The results are most disturbing and make us really wonder just what the heck is going on in White's head?
First we checked the D181 website to see if a Job Vacancy had been posted. On first glance we found nothing. We looked under the D181 Department of Human Resources Job Vacancy link: https://www.generalasp.com/D181/OnlineApp/jobpostings/view.asp. Expecting that an Assistant Superintendent position would be listed under "Administration" we were surprised to find that only ONE vacancy was listed and that was for a Pupil Services Administrator (at the building level). That position was complete with a detailed job description -- click to open.
But then we noticed the second category of job vacancies called "Administrative District Office," and we thought "Ahah! That is where the Assistant Superintendent position will be listed." So we clicked to open the ONE vacancy listed and were once again surprised that it wasn't there, rather the only Central Administrative position listed was that of "Director of Pupil Services," a position that has been posted since 4/23/2105. That position was complete with a detailed job description -- click to open.
No other job vacancy is posted under this category. Now we don't know about you, but common sense dictates that if we were a Curriculum Administrator hunting for a new job and came upon the D181 website, we wouldn't go any further than looking at these two categories to see if a Central Administrative position was available. Nope, we would move on to another district's website.
We most certainly wouldn't keep clicking beyond the next category listed -- "Elementary School Teaching" (which obviously wouldn't apply to an experienced curriculum administrator's job search for a new administrative position) -- and then click on a "new category (which we have NEVER before seen on the Job Vacancy link) called "Interim."
But because we the bloggers were hunting for the job vacancy posting, we did click on "Interim" and low and behold, we found it! Sort of....
If you click on the following link -- https://www.generalasp.com/D181/OnlineApp/jobpostings/view.asp?category=Interim -- you will open a job description for a position called "Interim Assistant Superintendent of Learning."
We have copied the text of this job posting below:
|Interim Assistant Superintendent of Learning||JobID: 924|
Email To A Friend
Print Version Closing Date:
|For information about this job, please visit http://www.bwpassociates.com|
We found this job posting to be quite fascinating in what it doesn't say. Sure, it is called Assistant Superintendent of Learning, but it also has "Interim" as part of the title, suggesting that no attempt is being made right now to hire a PERMANENT administrator. Further, there is absolutely NO JOB DESCRIPTION attached, so even if found by a Curriculum Administrator searching for a new job, there would be nothing to indicate that this is a position focused on Curriculum and Instruction, or give any clue as to the educational or experience requirements or what the job responsibilities entail. All that is referenced is to visit the website of an Educational Search Firm called BWP Associates, but no active link is included.
So we continued out search for more information on this MOST IMPORTANT JOB VACANCY in D181 by going to BWP's website, which we are providing to you as an active link: http://www.bwpassociates.com.
When you click on that link, you don't pull up the job description, rather you only open their website. To find the D181 Job description you have to go hunting, first by clicking on their link
called Searches in Progress (which we are also providing to you as a live link). That opens up a list of job searches they are currently running and the 6th of 7 searches listed is for D181: We have copied the text of their listing below:
Hinsdale School District 181 - Illinois
Seeking an Interim Assistant Superintendent for Learning - 2015-16 School Year
View information on community and position
Status: In Progress
Embedded in this brief blurb was an active link called "View Information on Community and Position." So we naturally assumed by clicking on the link we would FINALLY see a detailed job description. Alas, we did not. Click on it for yourself and you will see that all it shows is the following information:
Hinsdale School District 181
Interim Assistant Superintendent Vacancy
2015-16 School Year
Hinsdale School District 181 is seeking an interim Assistant Superintendent for Learning for the 2015-16 school year. This position is available immediately and is open to someone interested in full time or a retired administrator working under the 100-day TRS cap. Resumes will be reviewed upon receipt by Dr. Anne Noland and Dr. Mark Friedman.
BWP and Associates, Ltd.
872 South Milwaukee Avenue, #221
Libertyville, Illinois 60048
Please send a current resume and letter of interest to:
Dr. Mark Friedman firstname.lastname@example.org 847-975-8393
Dr. Anne Noland email@example.com 630-624-3336
An Equal Opportunity Employer
NO JOB DESCRIPTION!!! Nothing, nada, zippo! O.k. Now we were mad! How can it be BOTH the district and the search firm have nothing of substance posted on their websites? For each of the other six open searches it is conducting, BWP has live links to very detailed job descriptions: Click to open detailed job descriptions for Search 1, Search 2, Search 3, Search 4, Search 5 and Search 7.
So why doesn't BWP have a description that fully explains the job and its qualifications? What
little is posted establishes that Dr. White is willing to hire a retired administrator who can only work a maximum of 100 days under the TRS cap. Really? Is this what our children really need to fill the "void" Dr. White has thankfully created by cutting Schneider's job in half? Or is this whole "job search" nothing more than fiction, allowing White to claim later that no one was interested in the job, therefore Schneider needs to re-assume his former job title? Or will this fiction allow White to bring his own "candidate" (internal or external) forward after claiming that the BWP search failed to yield any other candidates?
Is the process that is currently underway to hire a new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) really the best effort by a district of our caliber or a search firm of BWP's caliber? We think not, especially with the high salaries our administrators are paid or the high fees that we expect BWP is collecting to conduct this "search."
Readers, there is something seriously fishy about what is going down. We can go on and on about the ramifications of what we have uncovered, but frankly, we are tired. Tired of all the spin, tired of all the games, tired of the assumption by the current central office administrator in charge that we are ignorant, naive parents and taxpayers who are willing to play dumb, pretend to see things that do not really exist, and are idiots. We most certainly are not, but after two years of exposing the problems and harm being caused to our children, we are just about ready to walk away and throw in the towel. It really is up to the new School Board to fix this mess, because it is plain as day that we cannot trust our administrative leaders to do it.
So SOUND OFF!
Below is a recent letter I sent to Dr. White and the BOE - I am thinking it is perhaps Dr. Schneider's lack of continuing commitment to D181 that prompted the change:
"Dear Board of Education,
Now that I am working from home for the summer, I took a little time to see if I could find any current research supporting Dr. Schneider's theories as applied to educating advanced learners/gifted students. While I found no research, I did discover that Dr. Schneider recently applied for a Superintendent position at a school district in Wisconsin. I am assuming you were aware of this at the time you recently approved his salary increase.
While I have nothing against an administrator seeking a promotion in his career, I am troubled that our current head of the Department of Learning has made it clear that he believes now is the time for him to start looking for that promotion, suggesting that he is not committed long-term to the job we have hired him to do.
If our Department of Learning and the implementation of the Board's mission/vision were stable, this would probably not be such an issue for me. But what is going on in that Department is not stable, particularly as it relates to the weakest and strongest learners as evidenced by the recent data presentation you received.
I will reiterate what I wrote to you before, we are no further along as to those learners than we were when Dr. Moon presented her report over three years ago. This District needs to see someone put in charge of the Department of Learning who wants to put in place research based programming and instructional models that will help each and every child make growth - truly Learning for All - and wants to hang around long enough to fine tune this programming until the data supports what we all want to see happen for our children.
Thank you for your time. Have an enjoyable summer.
The fact that Dr. White is still planning on having Dr. Schneider keep a hand in curriculum and instruction matters and not focus solely on special education is even more outrageous and has no merit considering Dr. Schneider's lack of training and experience in this area (see his resume elsewhere on the blog). Moreover, Illinois law requires that the head of Special Education be a full time position. See 23 Ill. Admin.Code 226.800: Each school district, or the cooperative entity of which it is a member, shall employ a full-time director of special education, who shall be the chief administrative officer of the special education programs and services of the district or cooperative entity.
I'm sure D181 got some kind of waiver - but is that really what is in the best interests of our students?
Now I read what he wrote about the new Director of Assessments & Effectiveness: "XX has expertise in many areas."
Yes, she does. Too bad her expertise is NOT in the area of elementary education or any of the current assessments being used by D181 or elsewhere (let alone Common Core). She may have somestatistics ability, but she has no background suggesting she knows anything about what she will be analyzing. I guess the D181 taxpayer can just pay to send her to be trained in addition to her salary. Don’t just take my word for it. I took some time to look at her credentials on the D181 FOIA log and compare them to the Administration-written, Board-approved job description (and sent this to the Board as well). Draw your own conclusions (see next post).
I also noticed that she indicated on her Application that she was at NYU 8/94-5/96 working on her MA, yet her resume states she worked at Dewey School in Evanston from 1991-1999 and that she got her MA in 1995 (not 1996). Just a pet peeve of mine, but particularly for someone we are asking to focus on numbers, one would hope she would be consistent and accurate with the information she provided D181.
Commenter at 5:22 – I have high hopes for the new board, but I am not so sure the ship has begun to turn yet. I do hope Dr White and the new hire prove me wrong.....
Qualifications – Experience and Education
• State of Illinois Professional Educator License with General Administrative endorsement – XX has this.
• Master’s degree required – XX has this, but it is not current relevant to what is happening in education today. This would not matter as much if she was currently in the field of elementary education, but she is not. MA in Elementary Ed from 1995 (20 years ago); current PHD (2012) in Ed Psych – not Elementary Ed, Research, Statistics or Math
• Experience in public school administration preferred – None. A practicum is not experience. It is equivalent to being a student teacher.
• Minimum 3 years teaching experience preferred – Last taught at the Elementary level in 2000 (15 years ago). Currently teaching online part time at the college level unrelated to elementary education or assessment or statistics.
• Experience with processes of continuous improvement – Did some SIP as part of Admin Practicum and some as part of teaching in 1991-1999
• Comprehensive knowledge of curriculum, assessment, and instruction – XXX's knowledge is not comprehensive as relative to elementary and middle school curriculum, assessment, and instruction. What little experience she has is only 2nd and 4th grade – no middle school, and is from 15 years ago when education in terms of curriculum, assessment, and instruction were significantly different from today. The words “Common Core State Standards, MAP, PARCC, RtI, Formative Assessments, Summative Assessments” appear nowhere on her application or resume. Moreover, she has NO experience in the area of Gifted education, the White Elephant that has been in the room of this District for so many years.
• Extensive experience in program and systems analysis – XXX shows minimal experience in program and system analysis. 1st year Statistics students run the Variable Analyses in PASW that she lists as experience.
• Experience or Training in statistical analysis of standardized and locally developed formative and summative assessments – There is nothing in her resume or application indicating she has this experience or training relative to the type of assessments used in D181
• Experience with database functions, including spreadsheet creation, importing and exporting data, creating reports and verifying accuracy, graphically displaying data, and data analysis using statistical measures – XXX has this in terms of PowerPoint and other presentations she has done.
• Demonstrated ability to work with and facilitate professional development for certified staff in the development of formative and summative assessments – While she has implemented some PD, it has not been in the area of elementary assessments.
• Knowledge of school district operations, national and state educational legislation, and Illinois School Code – There is nothing in her application or resume that suggest this knowledge other than her earlier work in Evanston.
Job Description, cont.
Qualifications– Skill Set
• Excellent leadership skills – XX's answer to a question about this on the application is good. I am sure her references would vouch for her having these skills.
• Excellent technological skills – XX's online teaching plus other software with which she indicates she is proficient suggest she has this.
• Ability to research, organize, develop, and implement long-range projects – XX's resume and application reflect this experience.
• Ability to communicate with all segments of the school and community – As a former elementary teacher, I am sure she has this skill set.
• Demonstrated leadership skills and ability to collaborate effectively - XX's answer to a question about this on the application is good. I am sure her references would vouch for her having these skills.
• Supervises and monitors the district assessment program and state mandated student assessments and provides statistical analysis of the results – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.
• Implements training for certified staff to utilize assessment data for instructional purposes – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.
• Develops and maintain data systems in order to provide a comprehensive, efficient, accurate and current record of all important matters pertinent to the operations of the District – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.
• Analyzes current assessment frameworks and makes recommendations on the creation of a balanced assessment system – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.
• Oversees the preparation of mandated federal and state reports and ensures accuracy – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.
• Creates a system for the development or selection of valid and reliable local assessments as directed by the Assistant Superintendent of Learning – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.
• Works collaboratively with other area districts to determine how D181 students are performing upon exiting the system and/or in comparison of other select elementary districts – While I am sure XX can work collaboratively, there is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.
• Serves as primary contact for relevant third party assessment and program analysis consultants - There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this in a meaningful way, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.
• Communicates effectively with parents regarding all aspects of student assessment – While I am sure she can communicate effectively with parents generally, there is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in D181 today.
• Provides leadership assistance in support of the Superintendent for the development, promotion and implementation of the District’s priorities and objectives – Given her lack of current elementary education experience/knowledge/training, she herself is going to require a lot of assistance.
• Prepares and recommends additions and revisions to existing policies, procedures, and regulations relative to district data systems and program effectiveness – There is nothing in her resume or application showing she has the knowledge, experience, training or ability to do this, particularly with the assessments currently in use in the world of elementary education today.
• Aids in reviewing, analyzing and evaluating pending legislation, legal mandates, regulations, and guidelines that may affect District programs, functions and activities. Given her lack of current elementary education experience/knowledge/training, she herself is going to require a lot of assistance.
• Attends all regularly scheduled meetings of the Board of Education and such staff meetings and committees as assigned. XX has experience doing this.
• As requested by the Superintendent, serves as a member of the District’s negotiating team for all collective bargaining agreements – XX has no experience doing this.
• Works collaboratively to support district goals and learning initiatives. XX has experience doing this.
• Participates in the strategic planning process and direct efforts as assigned - Given her lack of current elementary education experience/knowledge/training, she herself is going to require a lot of assistance
• Supervises and evaluate staff as assigned. – What little evaluation experience/training she has is dated – even from her Type 75 training in 2002. She will need to be trained to be able to do this.
• Completes other assignments and/or special projects as requested by the Superintendent. This will depend on the experience and knowledge needed for what she is asked to do
As long as the same hands are still in the cookie jar, nothing will change.
According to the June 1 post on the school district's very own blog, his name, along with two other finalist's names, were published. I scrolled through more recent blog posts and read that on June 8, the blog reported on day long second interviews that each finalist, had during the first week in June, and indicated that a decision would be made on or before June 16, 2015.
The blog, which I must say was a real display of a school district being fully transparent, also published Schneider's resume: http://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/uploaded/Blog/Kurt_Schneider.pdf
It sure looks impressive! Scroll to the bottom to see his references, which, not surprisingly, include some familiar names.
In my biased opinion (because my kids have been screwed by D181's LFA experimentation), it is too bad for us that he wasn't hired. But in my opinion, it also speaks volumes about his commitment (or lack thereof) to our district.
According to the Wisconsin school district's blog, the new superintendent was scheduled to start his job at the end of July/beginning of August. Nice. Potentially leaving D181 in the lurch in the middle of the summer. That wouldn't have given D181 much time to fill the vacancy his departure would have created before OUR students returned this fall. I can't for a second believe that White wasn't keenly aware of what was potentially going to happen to OUR distict (or what still might happen, because it seems likely that this isn't the only superintendent position that Schneider has applied to), and the fact that White has waited until mid July to even begin searching for someone to fill 1/2 of the shoes Schneider was wearing last year, makes me question whether White is really looking out for our children's best interests. One thing's for sure, White better scramble to hire a qualified and experienced Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. I'd suggest hiring a national search firm and not insisting that all candidates only believe in the inclusive model that has screwed up our curriculum. And most importantly, no more starter administrators or administrators who are going to have to learn on the job. If White doesn't get this one right, it may be time for the BOE to hold him accountable, and there's only one way for them to really do that......
P.S. Bloggers -- Can you create a free standing post with all of this information?