Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Call to Action -- D86 Community Members Concerned with Next Year's Science Curriculum Changes, the time to Speak Out is Now!

We have been asked to publish the following comment submitted on our last post.  Please read and take action!

"D86 Community - especially Hinsdale Central parents and parents of 8th graders:

There are some very significant changes that are being put into place next year that would completely change the Science curriculum at Hinsdale Central. Many popular classes are being eliminated and the Biology - Chemistry - Physics track that has worked successfully for our students for decades is being completely thrown out in favor of a model that more closely resembles what Hinsdale South offers its students. The community was just notified about these changes 2 weeks ago at a Board meeting and in the Board meeting e-mail summary which most people missed. There was very little discussion at the meeting and very few questions from the Board about the proposal. One of the BOE members who has students at Central was not even present to hear the presentation or ask questions. This kind of change without analysis by the Board and input from the community is unprecedented in our district.

The parents and community members who are aware of these changes are concerned about them for the following reasons, among others:

  • None of our peer districts offer a Science program similar to what has been proposed
  • Hinsdale Central's Science Department, while not perfect, delivers some of the highest Science scores in the State and Nationally at both grade level and the Honors level
  • There has been no data presented that supports completely changing the Central Science Department in the way that has been decided
  • There was no discussion about how this new program will be monitored and how we will determine its success or failure in the future
  • Parents have also been told that "G level" classes (IEP and 504 plan students) in Science will be going away at the same time, pushing those students into general Science classes which will now be 'co-taught" by teachers 
  • Popular science classes such as Mr. McCloud's Earth Science class and AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 will be eliminated, among others
  • Traditional Chemistry and Physics classes will be replaced with "Geo-Physics" and "Geo-Chemistry" classes.
  • All entering Freshman who complete Algebra as 8th graders will be placed in an Honors Physics class.
  • Upperclass Physics teachers will be teaching freshman Physics classes while and until new teachers are licensed to teach Physics
  • Parents have heard from some Central teachers that they have concerns about these changes
  • Parents have heard that changes to the Math department have also already been made or that they will be soon.
  • If you are a parent who is concerned about these changes, or would like more information to be shared with the community before these changes are implemented in a permanent way, please e-mail the Board of Education and ask them to put the topic of Science on their Agenda for the next Board meeting which is on November 14. It may already be too late but we won't know unless we try to slow this down and get more information."

1 comment:

The Palantír said...

Dear District Residents:

D181 and D86 are incredible school districts that provide life-changing opportunities for our students.

I thought I had seen the ultimate display of idiocy in the self-inflicted disaster that was Dr. White’s D181 math curriculum. How could the D181 Board believe the claim that the administrators are experts and that if you teach students less math, they will magically know more math? Ooohhh, Aaahhh.

Now a challenger to that ignominious throne has emerged: the new D86 science curriculum. Like the D181 math curriculum, this was approved with fantastical claims that the administrators are experts, and that if you teach students less science, they will somehow know more science. The administration promised to improve science AP scores by eliminating the top science track and making the remaining classes easier, and the BOE believed it. Superintendent Prentiss and BOE President Pollak have claimed in an email that “what truly disappoints us is the insinuation that we would suggest a change or make a decision that is not in the best interest of all District 86 students.” Why would anyone not believe that the best way to benefit all students is to eliminate the district’s top science track and dumb down the other science classes? Guess how many BOE members recognized this utter stupidity when it looked them in the face and said, “No?” None. How many even tried to ask intelligent questions? Only one. Why didn’t the BOE get it? Because the administration promised that they are experts who can both increase engagement in science and raise scores, with no risk. They can’t achieve this, and they know it, but they don’t care. It got them the chance to dumb down your kids and make you pay for the privilege. Just like they did in D181.

If you have a student in D86 or own property in D86, the administration’s stupidity is going to cost you dearly. Like math in D181, this isn’t just about science. It’s fundamentally about the kind of school district residents want and expect. Currently, D86 supports a full range of students at a level that only New Trier and Stevenson can match. It is a destination district for education-focused families who are moving to the Chicago area because, from the lowliest student to the best, it is a priority to support all students fully. The administration wants to stop that practice. Many families who come here have students who dream of being a scientist, a doctor, or an astronaut. These families want the best possible preparation for their students, and they are willing to pay to get it. Families like that spend a lot of money on homes and pay taxes that provide the resources to maintain a top district and also bring serious students who can capture the benefits of a top district. That virtuous cycle is coming to an end now because families are not going to pay $1 million for a home in this district when they can buy a home in Huntley for $300,000 and get the same dumbed-down science education for their students.

What can we do? Well, once again, the residents are the last line of defense. Residents have to spread the word, send letters to the BOE, attend Board meetings, and speak up. Tell the BOE that you will not tolerate dumbing down the current depth of education in English, math, and science in this district. Residents need to demand accountability and replace the Superintendent with someone who knows how to manage a top district. If the current BOE doesn’t want to do their job, they should resign now. Don’t drop this academic giant turd in the D86 punchbowl on their way out the door. Remind the BOE that D86 is a top district nationally that achieves extraordinary results, and residents expect that to continue.

Now that everyone knows about the giant turd in the D86 punch bowl, the only question remaining is the same as it was in D181. Are busy residents willing to act now before the dishonest D86 administration forces our students to drink from that punch bowl, or do they need to see the damage first?

It’s your school district. You decide.