Friday, January 15, 2016

Comment of the Day: Is Anyone Else Sick of the Administrative Spin?

Moments ago, we received the following comment which we are posting as our Comment of the Day.  Below it we have pasted text from the D181 Board meeting summary to save our readers time in accessing the portions that are referenced in the comment.  While in fairness to the administration, the summary does use the word "concerns" that Board members expressed on the Math plans, nothing in the summary indicates the strong level of discontent the majority expressed, a level that has not been exhibited before by this board. We also agree that there is no reference to the actual information -- Student Names, Grade they are in, School they attend, Parent's Name, Address, Home phone number, Cell phone number, Email Address -- that was released to the political group before the board intervened and demanded a reversal by the administration on the amount/type of information that should have possibly been released (if any) -- limiting it to email addresses.

Our only comment after reading this summary is that we are really sick of all the administrative spin.  Are you?  Sound Off!

Comment of the Day:

"Anonymous said...
The Administrative summary of Monday's meeting has been emailed to parents.

As expected, it is a total sham. While there is brief reference to the board's discussion on the the Release of Information issue and the Math Trajectory discussion, there is absolutely no indication that any board member criticized the administration on either important topic. When a MAJORITY of the BOE slams the administration and demands that they follow board directives (on math) and reverse course on a sloppy/shoddy decision to release student information en mass to a political organization, this should appear in the summary. In my opinion, the fact that it is glaringly absent proves once and for all that the Administration wants to keep the community in the dark. For goodness sakes, this was a five hour meeting. Parents might actually go to the podcast and listen if they learned that there were actual concerns raised by their elected officials. Keeping us all in the dark continues to be par for the course.....
January 15, 2016 at 11:16 AM "

Quotes from the Administrative Summary:

"Members Share Concerns Related to Advanced Learning Opportunities in Mathematics 
Podcast Recording: Approximately 03:22:55 
As part of the Board Learning Committee Report, Board members discussed concerns with information prepared for the January 6, 2016 Learning Committee meeting that outlined a trajectory of math courses and options by grade level. Board members discussed previous Board direction with regard to advanced learning opportunities, flexible ability grouping, and criteria for placement. Board members discussed that historically as many as 1/3 of District 181 students were receiving advanced or accelerated math instruction and want consistency across the District, particularly as it relates to middle school course placement and the chance to complete Algebra or Geometry as 8th graders. Board members requested that Superintendent Dr. Don White work with the Department of Learning to revise the plan further."

Podcast Recording: Approximately 02:12:45 
As part of his Superintendent's Report, Dr. White and Board members discussed a recent request for "Directory 
Information" from a citizens group that formed to support the referendum for construction of a new middle school. Board members shared concerns with the data that was provided by the District and the manner in which approval to provide the information was granted. They agreed on a number of action steps to consider revisions of the District's procedures, including a possible change to Board policy, updated handbook language, and revised registration materials. The Board also agreed to advise any individuals or groups who already received the data file to destroy the information, and to seek the committee's confirmation that only the email addresses provided by the District would be used."


Anonymous said...

As far as I am concerned, administrative spin in a public elementary school district should not be tolerated by anyone. I would guess that most people would agree with me when they consider that D181 supposed to only be a place to educate our children. if you feel differently, please let me know how you feel it benefits our children, parents, and teachers? The PR release sent out to parents the regarding what was discussed at the meeting was painfully biased and in my opinion, clearly a misrepresentation of what actually happened in the 5 hour meeting. This type of spin's only purpose, as previously stated last year, is to obfuscate the truth. The reality is that many parents spoke strongly about their disappointment in their children's educations, and not a single person spoke in favor about the way the district has eliminated gifted education AND forced all children, into cookie cutter molds. At that meeting, we all heard Dr. White try and justify releasing student names, grades, addresses and parent contact information to a political organization, and it was only after he was pushed hard by board members that he admitted that after the fact he had learned that FERPA would have allowed him to deny the release of the information. Yet the administrative summary didn't even specify the detailed information that he released.. Hiding all the facts only serves to confuse people and is not acceptable when it comes to local, state, or federal employees, but it is even worse when this obfuscation negatively affects the lives of children in the schools their own parents fund.

The BOE members who expressed concern and demanded that the contact information be recalled from the political organization need to be sure the entire community is aware of what happened. The meeting summary should have been far more detailed. The board needs to hold any and all administrators who were involved in the release of this information accountable and kick them to the curb.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this administrative spin has been going on for several years. It has gotten worse since Dr. White arrived. Dr. White has been thumbing his nose at the board and at parents since he got here. As long as the board allows it, he'll continue to push and push. These little slaps on his hands are doing nothing to curb his arrogance. He does what he wants. It couldn't be more obvious.

Why is here still here and why is this allowed to continue?

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months as the Department of Learning updates and follows through (Hopefully) on the BOE emphasized request to return to a system that allowed for a greater number of students -top 1/3 roughly-of every grade level getting into above grade level content. The challenge of course is that what will happen to those outlier students who remain in the top 2 to 3 percent of each grade level or above grade level? how will their needs be met?

Additionally-what happens when a student presents just missing that "cut off" for the top 1/3? what will happen to them? and what of the vast disparities among students in the top 1/3? There will be differences. No doubt.

Ultimately, it is very difficult to meet the needs of each individual learner. I believe what has to happen is a multi layered trajectory track with the emphasis that every year children are tested and given opportunities to get on or off the track as needed. There shouldn't be this feeling-this current climate if you will-that once my child gets on the track they do not have to perform. Similarly, there should be accountability to those students who are not performing in their accelerated class. If they are struggling or too much time is taken to keep them at pace with the rest of the group, then they need to be branched off, remediated or a step back has to be taken.

Those students who are excelling and continue to excel as top performers-the top 2 ro 3 percent-should be given other opportunities. Students meeting the 2 Standard Deviation criteria of this year should be looked at. Are they in the right place? Do they need to be accelerated further? As many spoke at the last BOE and as one mother eloquently spoke (whose child is not in the top 2 to 3 percent or even on the accelerated track & my one child in D 181 is not on the accelerated track YET anyway)the top performing 2 Standard Deviation students are the elite group of students-outliers-who do not fit the mold and who really should be given opportunity to place 2 or 3 grade levels ahead given what is needed for a 2 Standard Deviation above grade level performance. Simply accelerating them one grade level or even two is not enough.

Then there is the track for grade level students who may not be accelerated but who can move at a quicker pace and those students who need to move at a slower pace.

This would be the closest to meeting the needs of every student AND every student should be considered fair game for future years through testing and evaluation. Objective measures should be employed always.

I will be surprised if this happens. I'll also be surprised how low the threshold falls from 2 Standard DEviations to what? What is the new criteria? 1 Standard seems too low if you ask me. 1.5 Standard Deviations perhaps. But that again, remains tricky. Percentiles should not be considered. What will be the new norm? It should be high enough to create a criteria that is consistent and to provide above grade level acceleration to those truly in need and capable with little support. It should weed out if you will.

The last meeting was 4 hours too long. We need to move on from the math issue. Let's get this together BOE. Time to move on to other problems and paths. My first grade student is in need of something too. But what? When will the DOL realize that keeping learners stagnating in grade level classrooms with differentiated brain pop and IXL isn't meeting their needs.

Time to move on and catch up District 181.

Time to catch up to other high performing districts who start placement and tracking in earlier years. Time for all day Kindergarten. Time to get our students back to the high performing education we deserve.

Anonymous said...

I would like to believe Don White and his DOL will act on the Board's directive, I have a feeling he will thumb his nose at the board and play dumb again, just as he did last spring and fall with no action on math or other subjects. He did nothing and now half the school year is over. I'm glad several board members stepped up and told White he must install the math tracks, but I don't have hope he will follow through, and the DOL does not approve of tracks and will stall. We don't need these administrators around one more year.
Several teachers I know would do a better job of running the district than White and his staff.

jay_wick said...

I don't like to have to defend the administration; when they do really foolish things I won't. The decision to give information to the group of residents eager to pass the referendum looked very much like an endorsement of that group's aims and was boneheaded in the extreme. I am more than a little angry that folks associated with the group to promote the passage of the $65,000,000.00 referendum would even ASK the administration for such contact info; anyone with the resources that this group has at their disposal ought to pay the election commission for the data as other groups routinely have done. There is no defense for this.

In contrast, as much as I would like to see the district have a coherent offering of true acceleration for students that would benefit from such a curriculum, the BOE was previously headed by a person that was diametrically opposed to such offerings. That BOE member was re-elected by painting those of us that understand such options as necessary as though we were somehow elitists. Quite the opposite, research supported the excellent offerings the district once proudly offered. The fact is that the prior BOE also concocted false costs associated with offering appropriately accelerated classes and has thus set a precedent that makes it too easy for fiscally minded officials to "we can't afford to change things".

Nonsense though this may be, it gives cover to the district's business manager to try to maintain a budget that does not spend down reserves when small minded BOE members falsely tout their "freind of the taxpayer" stance on their incorrect understanding of how newly constructed homes expand the tax base of the district and similar untruths.

Instead of standing up to the pithy but factually incorrect statements of the longest serving BOE member, the rest of the BOE seems to try to present a face of unified support for positive change when it is increasingly clear that one contentious member of the BOE has essentially booby-trapped the ability of the BOE to move in the direction that truly reflects the wishes of the majority. This is not to say that the administration has not also stymied efforts to move in such directions, with some administrators citing clearly biased studies that are counter to the evidence that supports acceleration, yet it is hard to really call this 'insubordination' so much as response to the kind of contention that could, if truly hashed in an appropriate forum, result in the district actually setting new standards in delivering exceptional curricular for all.

One would need an administration that is far more committed to the success of students of every background / ability instead of an administration heavy with those intent on making their own life easier. To be sure, I bear no ill will toward those who want to be fairly rewarded for honest work, but when folks demonstrate a continued inability to contribute toward the aims that the district demands one must question the value of stability over replacement. Sadly the community is populated with an strange mix of residents, there are vocal groups that do make it very hard to work together, yet the thread that one would hope any skilled leader could see to serve as an overarching common goal is greater success. I have never encountered any organization or enterprise that can achieve greater success while not honestly addressing its biases and shortcomings.

I would urge all the administrators and the BOE to embrace the strategic planning process and openly attest to their biases and failings. The more quickly such things are laid bare the more likely the district will avoid the pitfalls of hidden agendas and infighting.

Anonymous said...

Jay Wick: While I have always appreciated your comments, sometimes they are so dense as to leave one's head spinning. Here's my interpretation of what you wrote:

1. No excuse for the administration handing over student contact info to the political group. I agree with you.
2. Marty Turek, a.k.a. the board member with longest time on BOE, has been against acceleration models since the Advanced Learning Plan morphed into the Learning for All plan. He has become the defender of the administration -- no matter how questionable their conduct.
3. The administrators have "stymied efforts" to correct the curriculum problems. I agree with you, but disagree with your conclusion that this conduct isn't insubordinate. In fact, it is. One of the definitions of insubordinate is to be defiant. The administrators who refused to implement the BOE's spring directive to reinstate tiers in math and return to a model where up to 1/3 of students would advance one or more years in math by 6th grade, was, in my opinion, done in absolute defiance of what the BOE majority told the administration to get done this year.
4. Asking the administrators and BOE to embrace strategic planning process and admit to their biases and failings is not going to get the job done. What needs to happen is for the BOE to hold the defiant administrators accountable for all of their missteps and refuse to give them any more "passes." Gray, Burns, Giltner, Garg and Vorobiev seem to be on the precipice of doing just that.

The community is watching to see if they will follow through. As for Turek and Clarin, in my opinion, there is no chance they will do right by the students in the district. But we can always hope for a miracle.

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is why the teachers haven't come out in defense of our advanced learners? Why aren't they advocating at all for their needs? We have conclusive data showing that the top quintile has fallen behind on growth as compared to national norms. We have a 6th grade class that is a mess from a math perspective for 4 years now. We have no gifted program for students who need it. No advanced learning and barely any differentiation for language arts. Our 5th grade classes will not be ready for middle school math because they are only going to finish half of the 5th grade MIF materials and last year's 8th graders have better PARCC test scores - supposedly the holy grail of conceptual math education - than most of the younger grades who have been exposed to far more Common Core and procedural math.

So, where are the teachers? Why aren't they speaking out and asking the administration what all of the above means? Do they care what the data says? Do they know about the letters that Mr. Sonntag and Mr. Pena sent to parents? Are they totally checked out? Do they just believe what the administration tells them verbatim (that parents and the BOE are the problems?) Do they look at the data and reports independently - not just the filtered and cherry-picked version from the administration? Do they care about what is happening to the top students and many 6th graders? Frankly, I don't see it. Sure they do their best in the classroom, but shouldn't we expect more given what is going on? I get the self-preservation argument, but these kids need someone to go to bat for them and no one but a few informed parents are doing it. And, before anyone says that teachers are busy with full-time jobs, so am I, and I make the time to look at the data. And, it's not even my job or profession. There is no way you can look at it all and not realize that many of our students are in trouble. So, I repeat, where are our students' advocates the teachers?

Anonymous said...

If the teachers aren't advocating for the district's special needs students, I doubt they will advocate for our advanced learners.

There are laws that protect special education students but the administration thumb their noses at the laws and do the minimum for these children.

The teachers take their direction from the administration. When you make more than most of your colleagues in similar positions, self-preservation becomes the main priority. (Compare our teacher and administrator salaries to their colleagues.)

Even when the board questions the administration, nothing changes. Most of us recognize the negative impact those 2 board members have had on the district but there are 5 other board members.

We need to get the other 5 BOE members to understand that if our children are to have any chance of being educated, Dr. White and his cronies need to go.

Anonymous said...

As a parent with two children in 181, here is my opinion on why teachers haven't stepped up for the roughly 30% of children in this district who are considered advanced. The teachers I know well tell me they have had so many changes thrown at them in the last few years that now they are just trying to do the best they can. They seem to have little trust in the administration and the board of education and fear that speaking out will come back in the form of retaliation of some sort. I can only conclude that if teachers speak out and advocate for the advanced students, it will create a greater divide among parents and more frustration. Right now, teachers are trying to keep a lid on a boiling pot. According to one teacher who shall remain nameless, the referendum is serving as a distraction so teachers feel less heat from the administration. The focus is now on HMS instead of the classroom. A sad reality.

Anonymous said...

The 2 comments above are spot on. But parents need to realize that this is why the administration overplays the teachers and aides. Some (not all) staff here know they have a good thing going on and do whatever it takes to protect their livelihoods - regardless of the cost to our kids.

D181 staff would never be able to get paid as much for doing so little anywhere else in the country, or world, for that matter. There is no other district which pays almost $17/hr to teachers aides. Especially when these RTI aides are not even trained or supervised. Western Springs pays $10/hr. La Grange pays around $11. Even Oak Brook, which has tons of tax dollars at its disposal does not pay its employees as well as we do.

Yes, our administrators are very overpaid. There are way too many of them. But don't forget how highly teachers are paid here. Compare the pay scales of our teachers to those in other neighboring districts. Have you ever seen what teachers at Avery Coonley or St. Iassacs get paid. Much less. Also look at their hours and benefits. Compare them to the teachers in CPS or Western Springs. D181 teachers receive ridiculously high salaries for what they do. CPS teachers are salivating at the chance to work in Hinsdale so they can make a good, safe living.

Don't believe the spin when admin says teachers and administrators don't want to move here because of the turnover. That is a lie. This district could hire hard working, ethical people in a heartbeat. They just don't want to. Employees with integrity would report the misconduct and poor leadership they see. Why would the administratio want to expose themselves to that threat? Plus, qualified, competent people could get promoted and threaten the job security of the current administrators. That's why so many good people are leaving this district. Those who can't stomach the lies and corruption leave. Or stay and are miserable. Those who can thrive in this environment flourish. Do you really want your child raised in an environment like this?

What D181 needs to realize is that this atmosphere they are creating will soon scare away the few good teachers that are left. It isn't fair for teachers to have to carry the burden of a faulty curriculum, poor leadership, and LFA. I have a feeling that the few remaining teachers with dignity would gladly be paid less money in order to receive the right kind of support and leadership that is so sorely lacking now. Those without integrity will fight tooth and nail to protect their sinking ship.

Anonymous said...

I I think many of the staff have talked to the board & administration, sent several e-mails, etc., and yet they ignore us. HMS staff (the principal, teachers, custodians) had told the administration for YEARS about the mold issue at HMS. They were ignored until the polar vortex happened. Many of my friends on staff there repeatedly said, "Thank God for the polar vortex!" They've also expressed our concerns about curriculum, too. They were ignored, told that it would cost too much money to implement, or just brushed off. Some teachers consider a certain person in the DOL is a joke, and in my experience, that opinion is somewhat justified. Plus, I've heard that too often, when in a meeting with administration, teachers have prefaced what they said with, "I'll probably get sh** for this, but…" So I don't think that teachers haven't expressed concern, it's that none of the powers that be actually listen and act on the teachers' input

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 1: I am sharing an email I sent to the D181 Superintendent this morning (and copied the BOE on). I continue to be disappointed with the lack of information and timely decision making as it relates to the upcoming $65 million referendum. While I plan to vote NO, all voters have a right to know what their individual tax burden will be should the referendum pass. Further, it is really disturbing that the administration failed to get proper legal advice and legal analysis before its mass release of student contact information to the pro-referendum committee.
Letter to Dr. White:
Dear Dr. White: I am writing to you to address two topics.
1. I saw your letter to the Patch dealing with the upcoming February 17 informational meeting on the referendum question. I was surprised that rather than provide the voters with an amount that the referendum will cost a taxpayer for each $500,000 in assessed property value (as has been historically done with prior D181 referenda questions), you simply reference a detailed cost-impact analysis that is available on the D181 website. The reality is that the taxpayers deserve to have a NUMBER. The taxpayers should not have to go hunting on a district website only to find a 19 page powerpoint that provides numerous scenarios, none of which have been BOE approved as of today. The taxpayers deserve to know whether the bonds (should the referendum be approved) will be financed over 10, 15, 20 years, etc. and what the dollar amount of the tax burden will be per $500,000 in assessed value. You may think that the voters do not care, but you are wrong. Voters will factor into their decision such facts as whether or not a homeowner who may plan to move in 10 or 15 years will have fully financed a school for children (other than theirs) rather than have the cost spread out to be shared with future home owners.
I therefore have several questions:
a. When will the Administration be making a recommendation to the BOE on which bond financing option it should approve and when will it vote on this? Why hasn't this been done so far, since the election is less than 2 months from today?
b. At the February 17 meeting, will you be providing attendees an opportunity to ask questions or make comments?

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 2:

2. Follow up on the Mass Release of Student Contact Information: I saw on the online FOIA log that you have provided the Doings Reporter with emails that dealing with the mass release of student information to the pro-referendum committee. I am writing to express my continuing shock and disappointment at how you and the administration handled the initial request from the pro-referendum committee. You have stated that the committee made a "proper request" for this information. The emails reveal that the request was never in writing (because if it had been, it should have been released in response to Mr. Fieldman's FOIA) and was made to the D181 Director of Communications, not to you. She brought it to your attention and then you called the attorney to ask if you could release the information. He told you you could (not that you had to) as long as parents were provided an opt-out option. Following this, you informed Ms. McGuiggan of Mr. Boyle's legal advice, and she then wrote to you and told you that she had found opt-out language in the elementary parent handbooks. She stated that the middle school handbook had "similar language."
As I pointed out in my earlier emails to you, the language in the middle school handbook is DIFFERENT, in fact, it doesn't provide parents with the same information as the elementary handbooks. That fact, in conjunction with the Online Registration form NOT providing parents with a box to check to opt out of release of information to third parties, while only providing them with an option to opt out of giving information to school PTO's and the D181 Foundation, make it quite evident that D181 did not provide ALL parents with a valid opt out option as required by law.
I would strongly urge you to immediately inform ALL parents of this situation -- not just have them possibly read the cursory and incomplete summary of the board discussion at the last meeting. Parents have a right to know exactly how their rights have been violated.
I would further point out that despite all of your proclamations that you obtained proper legal advice, the reality (as documented in the emails produced to Mr. Fieldman) is that it appears that you relied on Ms. McGuiggan to analyze D181 documents, the code provision, the differences between a PTO directory and how the word directory is used in the code and to draw legal conclusions, rather than YOU personally reviewing the Code provisions and the directory/opt out language in all school handbooks and then YOU BRINGING IT BACK TO MR. BOYLE for a proper legal analysis. During the last board meeting, when pressed by board members, you admitted that you had learned prior to the meeting that FERPA would have allowed you to deny the request in whole or in part. Nowhere in the emails is FERPA mentioned. So I ask you, when did you learn about the FERPA restrictions that would have protected the release of information? Are there emails that reference it that you did not produce? Why did you rely on your Director of Communications to do legal analysis rather than on the BOE's D181's attorney?
The way this mass release of information was mishandled from Day 1 is extremely troubling and inexcusable. I would suggest that you come clean to the entire D181 community of parents and students as to what has happened and how you plan to make sure this never happens again.
I will await your response, which apparently you must get from your attorney (again, per information in the emails released to Mr. Fieldman).
Respectfully submitted,
Yvonne Mayer

jay_wick said...

As a former teacher I have insight into what sorts of factors prevent positive changes in public schools. Though most teachers do want to do the right thing for students, they are strongly influenced by the direction set forth by the "building administrator" or principal. The principals, largely coming from the ranks of the teachers, are similarly well attuned to the hierarchy and will mostly follow the dictates of the central office administration. When the central office administration use the appropriate lingo that is reinforced by the courses that teachers take toward advanced degrees from education schools there is little reason for dissent. Education schools are excellent in spreading buzzwords and those that master such presentation styles move to the top of hierarchies.

Further solidifying the preference against "rocking the boat" is the mindset fostered by the adoption of a collective bargaining agreement -- the sorts of labor relations in such environments strongly favors stability in every sense of the word. To be sure, there are many teachers that have a desire to be creative, but they learn to channel that creativity into designing a classroom experience that still adheres to the edicts from those with the power to make their lives less pleasant.

It is not so much "retaliation" of the sort that could lead to a teacher filing a grievance that the Union would then mediate with the administration and BOE but the sorts of things that don't even rise to the level of "Who Moved My Cheese?" in the private sector. Make no mistake, with or without collective bargaining there is no reason to believe that folks employed by governmental bodies really believe that there is any reason to carve "If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct" on the wall of Cheese Station C... In a perverse way teachers in public schools become conditioned to pay lip-service to all administrative edicts and thus become more and more resistant to any honest effort to truly improve education. For the most part districts like ours, that have ample applicants and generally do a good job of evaluating teachers in the pre-tenure phase, get enough staff that is conscientious enough to ensure most students are well prepared, but in districts with a less scrupulous central administration the momentum that results in a such schools heading down a path of inexorable decline.

The teachers that have been re-labeled as "differentiation specialists" almost certainly do feel that they are having contact with more students, but the degree to which that contact is either reflected in broader mastery or even more positive affective outcomes is not at all clear. The horrendous degree to which PARCC can only be politely called "disastrously mishandled" certainly give no insight into any success. Assessments of affective outcomes are notoriously unreliable and may reinforce the sorts of personality driven ratings that can be reduced to how "likable" some teachers may be.

When one looks at how the efforts of well intentioned BOE members that have tried to move the district back toward a curriculum that truly serves the needs of all the students in the districts have been stymied one must also look at the lack of outraged parents or community members -- that silence is telling.

The conclusion one must face is that the majority of the community simply does prefer the sorts of traits that are incompatible with a truly rigorous academic environment. One cannot help but come to the conclusion that for every resident of the district that truly has arrived at their success through mastery of their discipline there are far more that has skillfully leveraged their social connections to cement their standing. Our schools reflect our community.

Anonymous said...

10:11, I'll have to disagree. Some staff/administration at the higher levels, may protect their livelihoods at the cost of our students, but I haven't met a single teacher or aide in our district who's that petty. Every one that I know cares a lot for our children. Don't confuse silence with contentment. I was thinking about the mold problem at HMS over the weekend, and came across a news story about it. In it, they said that they had 1500 pages worth of e-mails going back years saying that HMS had a problem. The administration did little to nothing until the polar vortex. Plus, some of the teachers that I'm friends with have complained about being ignored by the administration, told that something necessary for their job is too expensive, and just shot down. Before we blame teachers and aides for taking it too easy, let's clean up the mess that is the administration first. I wouldn't be surprised if that fixes 90+% of the problems you see.

It is also not that easy for teachers to find jobs in different districts, especially when they have several years of experience and/or more than a Bachelor's degree. Many districts have a salary schedule, which tells what the minimum salary for a teacher is depending on years of experience and level of education. While many, if not all, districts care about getting quality teachers, many are more concerned about getting low cost teachers. This is basically to keep taxes low. So when a district looks for new teachers, they tend to favor people fresh from college with no experience over the more experienced teacher who has a proven track record. This actually happened a few years ago at Hinsdale Central. There was an aide looking for a teaching position there. She knew the kids, the school, the curriculum, the people liked her. So when a teaching job opened, she applied for it. She lost out to a new teacher from Harvard (mainly so they could have someone from Harvard on staff). To add insult to injury, this Harvard guy was gone in something like 3 years.

Also, I sincerely hope you're not one of those people who complain about teacher and aide salaries at the same time complain that they don't live in the community. I just looked at Trulia, and most houses in Hinsdale for sale are over $650,000 (with 110 of 245 listings over $1 million). With teacher salaries capping out at around $110,000 (and that's with a Master's+45/Doctorate and decades of experience), I seriously doubt teachers, much less support staff, can even afford to live here. Plus, many of the support staff, even the ones with 20+ years in the district, don't even make $35,000 a year. I realize it's a bit of a Catch-22: how can they live here without raising their salaries, thus raising taxes? I admit, I don't want to pay high taxes, especially for services that I don't get. However, if I have to pay taxes, I'm glad it's for education, especially when I see that the teachers and staff care and work so much for our students. Many teachers here love teaching, however, I've heard from many teachers that if they found another with similar pay or won the lottery, they'd be out of here. In my experience, if teachers & staff take it a little easy, it's because of the administrators, not the teachers.

Anonymous said...

Jay Wick, you have hit the nail on the head. Eloquently, as usual.
"Our schools reflect our community" should be a mantra for many of the parents who have been sitting on the sidelines while some of us continue to fight for improvement within our district from the administration to the curriculum. We have gone from rigor and gifted services to a one size fits all philosophy within a few years. Every child now supposedly has his/her needs met in a single classroom. Teachers turn into miracle workers. No labels required. Yet, when I look around our communities all I see are mostly high end labels on cars, coats, sports equipment, you name it. Parents apparently recognize that complaining to the board, Doc White, or other inept administrators is a waste of time, so they tutor their kids several days a week and all summer long because they have the means to do so. Several parents I know (who use tutors) now believe sending their kids to school is mostly for "social" purposes rather than academic. As long as this is accepted, the board and the administration will continue to do what they do best to change the district of the better: nothing.

Anonymous said...

I think that there's a lot of incentive for teachers to not "rock the boat". First off, it's hard enough to find another job, but I think a big reason is it serves no purpose? How often does the board and administration actually listen to the staff or community. Unless it goes with their agenda, not very much.

Anonymous said...

So true. When your some on your own school board, curriculum committee members, and paid administrators think school is only for social purposes, then we are in trouble. If that really is the case, then immediatley cut our administrators salaries to "social" or volunteer pay rates. Why are we paying professional, highly competitive salaries for administrators to tell teachers to act like babysitters? If school isn't for preparing our children for high school and college, then why doesn't D181 simply build a commune and ask our kids to pitch in with some of the public works around here?

Anonymous said...

I'm looking at BoardDocs, and there's a special board meeting on Saturday at the administrative center at 8:00 AM. Looks like it will focus on the Strategic plan. ECRA has survey feedback, which is interesting:$file/CCSD%20181%20Board%20PowerPoint%20Jan%2011th.pdf

Under "Key Findings," it says "CCSD 181 graduates are well prepared for high school and outperform both the nation and students from surrounding districts." Umm, what? Who have you been talking to?

Later in on, it has survey results on different questions, One is the community's opinion on "Administration makes decisions in the best interest of students." Favorable responses: 26%. "The District provides community members ample opportunities to get involved" came in at 38%. "District 181 prepares students to succeed in high school" 63%. "Teachers provide quality instruction to students" 80%.

One interesting thing: "The quality of the District’s program for advanced learners." Employees had 75% favorability (I wonder how many were administrators?). All respondents had 69% and parents had 62%.

Another interesting piece: on page 33 of the report, one of the survey questions for district employees was "There was a strong sense of trust in the district." Results were broken down by the group the employee belonged to (administration, teachers and support staff). Administration had the highest level of favorable responses at a whopping 45%. The average for all employees was 32%.

On page 39, "I am appropriately involved in decisions that affect my work." 100% of administrators agreed. Hmm, I wonder why? Teachers were at 60% and support staff at 50% with all employees at 59%.

Page 43, "How likely are you to support a referendum to rebuild Hinsdale Middle School?" Parents responded 78% yes or probably yes. Employees who are residents of the community were at 84% yes/probably yes. Community members were 44% yes, 56% no.

I really hope the administration and board take this seriously. I hope, but don't expect much.

Anonymous said...

Parents, can you make a free standing post about the special board meeting on Saturday? Looking at 1:02's comment, and the agenda on BoardDocs, I think the community should know the findings and what happens at the board meeting. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if 2 SD criteria will be discussed at any time? Is this going to go away? And if it goes away what will be the new criteria for acceleration? At one Board Meeting 1 standard deviation was tossed around as a possibility as was 1.5. In fairness, I think 1 SD might be too low. How does that account for a rigorous program? There are vast differences between kids who are top 2 percent and top 30 percent as well. We need two or three tracks for the higher learners and I am completely confident that our Department of Learning cannot offer that.

So what does that leave us with?

Anonymous said...

I heard a rumor that Kurt Schneider has accepted a Superintendent position in a different district. Can anyone confirm? If correct, I feel sorry for his new district, but happy that D181 will finally be free of him. I just hope they don't promote Dawn Benaitis.

Anonymous said...

Like most other topics related to curriculum or learning, the 2SD criteria was discussed and dismissed by White and the board. No leadership on either side. No pressure to institute change immediately, mainly because no one knows what to do or how to do it. Doc White's strategy is to listen, nod his head in agreement, go on a "journey" to discover what he should already know, have some "conversations" with his staff and the Learning Committee, and then do nothing. The 2SD is too high, but the knowledge of White and the DOL is too low to fix their own mess. Once again, too many parents sat back and allowed this to happen while frantically paying tutors to try to plug the holes.

Anonymous said...

What I find so fascinating is that all the BOE is asking the administration to do is go back to the way math was delivered before, with a few improvements regarding identification and flexibility. Why is this so difficult for everyone when the teachers did this for 10 years???
We are not re-inventing the wheel here and we have already wasted 4 years on all of this other nonsense. My guess is that Hinsdale Central has no idea what will be walking through their doors in 3 years and that when that happens, it won't be pretty for the students.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Kurt Schneider, check out page 7 this presentation that mentions Hinsdale's new gifted philosophy.,_march_2,_2015_final_version.pdf

Anonymous said...

One down, several to go.

Would it be too much to hope that Doc White will leave on his own anytime soon or can we rely on the BOE to do the right thing and dump him? I would hate to place a bet on the BOE waking up. I can hear it now; the BOE will act like everything will be wonderful with Schneider gone.

Anonymous said...

Please do not give Doc White an exit package. His contract should simply not be renewed. He does not deserve any more than that. This district has gone backwards under his "leadership". A smart board would do this now and start finding his replacement. We don't need another year of an interim super that basically does nothing but baby sit the teachers, staff, and kids.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with 11:!1

White has one more year on his contract, but he can be terminated for just cause.
What more cause does the board need?

Anonymous said...

10:01: With Schneider leaving, and still having to find a permanent Assistant Superintendent of Learning, I seriously doubt they'll want to get rid of any more central office administrators, regardless of how bad they are.

Anonymous said...

If the board takes some control and tells Doc White he's done, they would have a golden opportunity to jump start the district with a slate of qualified administrators. it can be done!

Anonymous said...

The latest quote from Doc White, the man in charge of our district:

“Dr. Schneider is an outstanding person who has worked to always put the needs of students first."

Let that sink in.