Since publishing the anonymous comments we received yesterday from a D181 staff member, who was brave (and transparent) enough to disclose 2 communications she/he received from Dr. White and the Communication's Director announcing another Central Office Administrative reorganization and information on the new Assessment Director, we have gotten a flurry of comments. We have decided to publish them below in their entirety, as a free-standing post, because they are packed full of additional information that our readers have been able to find on the Internet. We believe this information sheds a light of transparency on the "story" that Dr. White has told the staff.
Looks like it's more important than ever to listen to or attend next Monday's "Special" BOE meeting. It will be held on July 13, 7 p.m. at Walker School.
Comments with Additional Information:
Jill Quinones said...
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.
• 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
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?