Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"We are here to help you change your mind"

Those were the words of fellow parent Bill Luthy as members of our District 150 Watch Coalition addressed the Board of Education and D150 Administration Monday night. Our goal - a complete recission of the disastrous vote of two weeks ago that took 45 minutes of instructional time per day and half the specialty teachers away from our children. Last night we formally requested that they put an action item on the June 2nd agenda for a vote to RESCIND that decision.

CJ Summers did a recap of the meeting on his blog complete with sound bytes. As I posted last week, tomorrow 4 parents representing North, South, East and West Peoria will sit down with Mr. Hinton and present to him well thought out and workable financial and educational alternatives to cutting the school day. We pray that he is serious about working with us, but I'd be lying if I said we did not have our concerns.

Ordinarily, after a controversial vote, eventually the public furor dies down and a miffed contingent slowly recedes back into the shadows. This time I assure you that will not happen. The risks of failure are too great.

The events of the last few weeks have been a learning experience for me, as well as a crash course in public education. Never again will I casually cast aside a bio of a candidate running for school board. Stupid, stupid me! In the past, I watched the Districts antics with a vague sense of amusement, falsely believing that whatever went down, it would have minimal impact on our family. Although I saw room for improvement in various areas throughout our D150 primary school, I felt our children were surrounded by loving, caring and competant faculty and staff. Little did I realize that as the honchos of D150 moved their pieces about the chess board, any financial deficit that resulted from such moves would be shouldered squarely on the backs of our children. Clearly, this has moved far beyond "amusing".

Over the past few days, I have spoken with hundreds of people - families from all walks of life, educators, media & community leaders. There has not been ONE shred of support for this decision. Pretty much everyone is scratching their heads - and its not because of the shampoo they use. I have been overwhelmed with pride as fellow parents as well as teachers have overcome personal inhibitions & fears to step in to the limelight on behalf of the children.

I find it very disturbing, however, that some are afraid to speak out publicly. Aren't these our children, and our schools? Why would we NOT have a say in the matter? I would jump in front of an oncoming car for the sake of my children so there's really not much the district could do to silence me. It kind of reminds me of the story "The emperor's new clothes".

I continue to invite all concerned parents and members to get involved. Call me at 309-645-8608 for ideas on how specifically you can help. Please be mindful, however, that although we appreciate your support, it is the members of the Board of Education who need to know how you feel!

Give it to them straight. Let them know that you see the emperor, and he is buck naked!


PeoriaIllinoisan said...

I want you to understand that it is not just the parents and teachers in D150 that care, it is also Peorians such as I whose children do not attend public schools that care, because we care about Peoria. The further 150 goes down hill, the worse off Peoria is, and that is why I and others are fervent about this issue.

Christopher said...

Have YOU no shame? You're just Another critic wanting EVERYTHING in District 150 Your way! Why don't more of You just leave the school district? I survived past (District 150) school cutbacks and closures, graduated, and went on to graduate from two colleges.

This latest opposition is nothing but that. ALL Your efforts have achieved is ruining the Peoria Public School's attempts to restore Itself. I would, totally, respect and support Your intentions if I thought it began and ended with THIS issue. Before the " shortened day " controversy, there was dispute about the upcoming school replacements; then, it was the Loucks-Edison closure. No doubt, something else after This issue will become another excuse to attack a board truly attempting to help Our children. But, the opposition never ends! YOU and others like You think You're helping Peoria's public schools?

You're NOT helping ANY kids, but continuing a vendetta (through blogs and grandstanding at the open 150 meetings) against the school board! Have You no Shame?

Diane Vespa said...

I don't know anything about the Loucks closure or the school replacements you mentioned. You see, unfortunately, this is the first time I have taken an interest in D150 politics-although I hate using the word politics when it has to do with our Kids.

I vehemently oppose this move because it shows a willingness on the part of the District to use the quality of the childrens education as a means of compensating for mismanagement (whether it be mismanagement by this or any other admin.)

This District has plenty of money. Don't let them fool you. You, yourself can visit the D150 website and look up how much they spent per student and what they spend on Administration per student. Both are well above the state average and the cost spent per student by D150 is nearly TWICE what Dunlap spends per student.

In addition, we have a report that lists all former Administration that has retired and then been rehired as "consultants", and been paid fees that equal an amount far greater than the amount of money the district would save by this latest vote. It's all about priorities. We feel the kids should come first.

There is plenty of money. It just needs to be used wisely, and not just for some kids, but for all kids.

Thanks for the comment. Feel free to use your real name next time, and perhaps two passionate people can work together on behalf of the kids instead of apart ;)

Diane Vespa said...

And on further thought, if the public sits idly by and does nothing other than watch our teachers and time in school slowly erode then where will it stop? Will the middle schools be next and then the highschools? Wouldn't disinterest be interpreted by the Admin as a green light to go further? At what point would the community suddenly wake up?

I am far more fearful of the consequences of NOT reacting as I am of reacting. You should be too.

And, by the way, my Kids will be fine one way or the other...

Anon E. Mouse said...

Well, said and well done.

SusieQ said...


"(Your) kids will be fine one way or the other . . ."
That is why I have so much respect for your involvement in this issue. Because you're a caring and involved parent, your kids WILL be fine. But I know you, and I know how much you genuinely care about children. And I can see that you're fighting the fight for ALL the kids of 150, not just your own.
Thank you for your intelligent pursuit of a solution to make ALL of Peoria better.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can see in this unresolved and very important issue, is that the school board is acting
on a "vendetta" against the teachers as well as the students! More parents should be supporting Diane in fighting to stop this change in the school day. Stand firm and don't give up the fight!

Peoria AntiPundit said...

There are two sides to every issue. Has anyone read the whole package concerning this shorten day or what is expected by this process?

Yes it does look like grandstanding. Too bad we can't involve the absentee parents. The ones that just drop their kids off and expect the school to clothe, feed, and educate their kid. That is where the real problem lies.