Earlier today, we received 4 anonymous comments from, it appears, a D181 staff member. The comments copied two communications he/she received today. We have copied the four comments (merging them into one) below. The first communication referenced was a letter to the D181 staff from Dr. White in which he announced plans to once again reorganize the Central Office Administration by moving Dr. Schneider down to only oversee the PPS Department. As we all know, last year, after Kevin Russell's departure, Dr. White promoted Schneider to run the entire Department of Learning -- regular education, gifted education and special education curriculum and instruction services. Schneider was originally hired in July 2012 to oversee PPS (special education services) but then almost overnight (in our opinion) became the mastermind behind the Advanced Learning/Learning For All/Learning for None plan, leapfrogging his way to running the entire department.
The second communication referenced was a follow up letter from the D181 Communication's Director providing additional information on the recent hire of an Assessment Director.
After these comments were published by us this afternoon, we received one comment praising Dr. White but pointing out the irreparable harm that has already hurt many of D181's students. We have also published this comment below.
Rather than issue a full commentary on the two communications the D181 staff today received today -- since Dr. White has not yet provided parents and community members any information regarding the central office reorganization -- we want to hear what our readers have to say. We will briefly point out that we agree with the last commenter who called Dr. White's announcement "good news."
We commend Dr. White for making this organizational change. We also commend the BOE for working with Dr. White to initiate this important change.
We may weigh in further later, but for now, please Sound Off!
Comment from Anonymous Staff:
Just got this e-mail from Dr. White. Looks like he's changing up the organizational chart again by adding a new Asst. Supt. of Learning (curriculum) and Schneider's back to PPS. So instead of a director level position for PPS, we get an Asst. Superintendent level for it, costing us even more $$$.
I hope you are enjoying this atypical July weather and finding time to refresh your mind and body!
As I am sure you know, District 181 has been and will always be a dynamic place where we can count on one constant - change. Even though we may not always anticipate or even welcome change, I know that change allows us to reflect on what works and what we might do to improve the learning opportunities we provide our students. It is with this in mind that I am writing to share some administrative changes that have occurred or will occur this summer.
In addition to the already announced administrative changes, I am pleased to share that Dr. Carol Larson's employment recommendation as the Director of Assessments & Effectiveness was recently approved by the Board. Dr. Larson has expertise in many areas and I am confident she will be a great addition to our administrative team and the Department of Learning. I am also confident that you will enjoy working with her when she officially starts on August 10. I have attached a copy of the job description to help you better understand the intended focus of Dr. Larson's work.
Staying within the Department of Learning, I have been working with the Board of Education and Dr. Schneider on how to best meet the needs of our students, how we can better serve our teachers, and how we can best accomplish all of the work needing to be done.
With that in mind, I have restructured the organizational chart to make workloads more manageable and to make sure that we have the right balance of focus on all learners. Dr. Kurt Schneider will be the Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Pupil Services) and we will welcome a yet-to-be named Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum & Instruction). Dr. Schneider has performed his work at a very high level and is a trusted colleague but I feel the need to give him some assistance so that we can make the workload more manageable. If you have had a chance to work with him, you know he listens very well, has a deep understanding of instructional practices and cares deeply about serving the needs of all students, teachers and administrators. He and I spent many hours discussing this topic over this year and have concluded that we need to make this type of change for the upcoming school year so that we have the personnel necessary to most effectively meet the needs of our students and staff.
Dr. Schneider will continue to supervise the Directors within the Department of Learning and may share this responsibility once the yet-to-be-named Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum & Instruction) is selected. Given the timing of this change, I have not yet made a final decision on whether to seek a permanent candidate for this position or to make an employment recommendation that an interim be hired.
As you may recall from this past year, Dr. Schneider and I have attempted to be sensitive to the demands which are placed on classroom teachers and administrators. This resulted in the slowing down of some work we had originally planned for this past year (e.g., the review of our science curriculum and middle school exploratories to name just a few). However, some of this work must progress this year. As such, it is my expectation that Dr. Schneider and the future Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum & Instruction) will collaborate on all issues related to the Department of Learning. This is important so that we continue the District's path of focusing on the needs of all learners. We will next determine how to best move forward with the topic of instructional technology (e.g., filling the Director of Instructional Technology position).
In addition to putting these changes into action, our District Office staff have a busy summer planned! We are almost fully recovered from a mini "water intrusion event" in the new Administrative Center after only being in the office for one week - just to make the move more interesting :-). We are working to fill several building level positions. We started the strategic planning process. We are continuing to develop the ten-year Facilities Master Plan and prepare for Board action on the future of HMS. We are also finalizing the calendar of professional development offerings for our return in August. All of this work and much more will continue over the next several weeks and into the 2015-16 school year. For sure, it will be a year filled with fun!
As we all understand, we work very hard to get things right, changes are a constant and we must adapt to meet the needs of our students given the information we have at the time we need to make decisions. This is the essence of continuous improvement and will always be embedded in our work. I appreciate your support and encourage you to continue engaging our team at the District Office to assist with your efforts to provide the very best learning opportunities to our students.
In the meantime, please know that I will do my best to share news and information about other changes that may occur throughout the summer.
In closing, thank you for what you may be doing this summer to better yourself as a person and professional. Making sure we get time to reconnect with family and friends while also finding time to expand our practice makes us better colleagues to one another and serves our students well!
In addition to the information Dr. White provided this morning, below are a few other news items that are also being shared with D181 parents and Key Communicators.
Monday Board Meeting
Facilities News: Podcast Available; August Community Events
Learning Committee Members Wanted; Applications Due July 24
Registration Ongoing; Fee Collection Postponed
Draft Tentative Budget Available to View
Monday Board Meeting
The Board of Education has called a Special meeting for Monday, July 13 at Walker School starting at 7pm. The tentative agenda includes the following items: a staffing update, a strategic planning update, personnel, Gifts and Contributions, Elm School furniture purchases, and payments of bills and reimbursements. Among the personnel items being presented is a recommendation for The Lane School principal. If the finalist is approved, the message we send after the meeting will include information about that individual, along with highlights of other Board meeting discussion and action. Visit the Board Meetings webpage (www.d181.org > Board > Meetings) to access a link to BoardDocs and meeting audio recordings. Thank you to The Lane parents and staff who participated in the interview process and completed our principal search survey!
Facilities News: Podcast Available; August Community Events
Facilities has been a major focus of our efforts over the past year, particularly as we determine the long-term future of Hinsdale Middle School. On our website (www.d181.org > Our District > Facilities Master Plan), we have posted a 30-minute podcast that provides a helpful re-cap of where we have been and where we are going in this process. On the same webpage is an online comment form to share your feedback and questions on facilities issues. In related news, Dr. White will be attending three local events this August to help bring the facilities discussion to more community members. He and other District staff will be on hand to answer questions and listen to residents' ideas and concerns on facilities planning. We hope you can stop by!
Burr Ridge Farmer's Market on Tuesday, August 4 (5:30-7pm)
Clarendon Hills Library Ice Cream Social on Thursday, August 13 (6-7pm)
Learning Committee Members Wanted; Applications Due July 24
We are seeking new parent and community members for our Learning Committee, which provides input and feedback on curriculum, assessment, instruction, student services, and professional development. The application for committee membership is available on our website (www.d181.org > Resources > Committees), at the Administration Center (115 West 55th Street, Clarendon Hills), and it is attached here. Completed applications are due no later than 4pm on Friday, July 24. Dr. White will be working with HCHTA and HESS in staff Committee members. Learning Committee meetings are tentatively scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month beginning at 6pm, with the first meeting on Wednesday, August 5.
The complete yearlong calendar for 2015-16 is attached to this message and posted on our website (www.d181.org > Calendar). The first day of school is Wednesday, August 26; it will be a full day with regular dismissal. Both CHMS and HMS have their Back to School Day events on Wednesday, August 19. Please check the web calendar for Curriculum Night schedules and other fall event dates.
Registration Ongoing; Fee Collection Postponed
Student registration is continuing to take place at the Administration Center. We appreciate your help in encouraging new families in the area to register their children as soon as possible if entering preschool, kindergarten or Grades 1-8 this year. Please note that District fee collection for all 2015-16 students has been postponed while we revamp our online payment system. More information will be shared in the coming weeks and posted on our website (www.d181.org > Resources > Registration).
Draft Tentative Budget Available to View
At their last meeting, the Board of Education reviewed a draft of the Tentative Budget for 2015-16. Visit our Financial Reports webpage to view that document along with several years of prior budgets, audit reports, and other related materials that are posted for stakeholders to access at anytime (www.d181.org > Departments > Business). The Tentative Budget will be placed on public display for 30 days prior to being presented for approval in September.
Have a nice day!
Bridget McGuiggan, APR
Now we just need to hire a strong candidate for the Learning and Curriculum position. Someone with extensive experience in performing this job and who has the educational background to support it. The downside to all of this change? So many students who have been negatively impacted for so long, it's too late for many of them. I'm glad to see the new Board finally beginning to turn this ship around. It took us 4 years to get here, I am pleased to see what we've accomplished in just 4 months with new, committed BOE members.
Sorry, Parents - I'm not as optimistic as you are. I had to shake my head when I read Dr. White's spin in this letter to staff on why he was kind of moving Dr. Schneider back to special ed land. He writes that he: "restructured the organizational chart to make workloads more manageable and to make sure that we have the right balance of focus on all learners. "
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?
And while I would like nothing more than to see stability with Administrators, I just don't see that happening until D181 starts realizing that the demographics of this community in terms of students, parents, and property taxes paid require that Central Office Administrators need to have prior training and experience in the position for which they are hired– not just some related expertise. Every time D181 has promoted or hired someone who has needed to be trained it has been a disasterous waste of taxpayer dollars and has negatively impacted student growth.
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.....
Part 1 D181 Job Description – Director of Assessments & Effectiveness
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.
Part 3 Job Description - cont.
• 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
Kudos to Ms Quinones for taking the time to educate our population more than the "educators" in our district, who are handsomely paid. I agree with her: I am skeptical and I smell megaspin. Let's remember how we got here in the first place with having to now shuffle the administrative deck, once again. It was Don White himself who placed Kurt "the trusted colleague" in charge of curriculum and the Department of Learning. This proved to be a bad decision that affected all of our kids during another frustrating school year. And now we have a supposed "Assessments" expert who has not actually worked with current assessments? What's going on here?
As long as the same hands are still in the cookie jar, nothing will change.
I am happy about the Schneider move which is long overdue but agree that the qualifications of the new hire do not seem to be in line with the job description or as substantive as I would expect in our district - or at least the district we used to be. Her lack of elementary education experience is a bit frightening and quite puzzling. Didn't the recent staff and parent surveys indicate that they felt that previous experience was the the number one most important qualification for the people filling these administrative positions to have? Why doesn't Dr. White agree? She seems to have significant experience in technology.
Thanks to Ms. Quinones for providing the community with additional information about Schneider. I just did an online search (his name and the phrase "superintendent search") to find where he had applied to be a superintendent. The first two results were quite eye opening: http://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/page.cfm?p=2618&newsid=1417 and http://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/page.cfm?p=3323. Looks like he didn't just apply, but he was actually a finalist for a K-12 district close to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a district that has approximately 2000 students, 2 elementary schools (K-6), one intermediate school (7-8), one regular high school (9-12) and one charter school for high school students (9-12). http://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/page.cfm?p=5.
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?
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