Sunday, June 1, 2008

Stop the Gravy Train - Its time to get off!

Last week members of our District 150 Watch Coalition intensified their efforts to influence the Board of Education to rescind their misguided vote of May 5 - a vote that reduced the primary school day and Specialty teachers for most Peoria Schools.

It appears that despite our efforts, the Board intends to dig in its heels, as an action item for a re-vote is not on the meeting agenda for June 2.

Their lack of action perfectly demonstrates how removed this district is from the community. Despite relentless pressure, they clearly feel that their collective wisdom is infallible.

As I delve in to the inner-workings of the District, a picture emerges that is not pleasant. It appears that the District's power and influence has been largely cultivated by themselves, as they hire, retire and re-hire staff that will be loyal to them and any of the principles they want to advance. Below is an excerpt from a letter our district watch group received from a principal currently in the District
"I'll be joining the ranks of the working retired a year from now. Then, maybe, I'll return as a consultant to straighten everyone out!!"
It seems that the policies and hiring practices are designed more for the preservation of the entity of the Administration than towards the delivery of a sound educational model for the children of Peoria.

The current Administration is already top heavy, but word on the street is that it will only get heavier, as the District seeks to keep in place only those that will remain loyal to their commitment of perpetuating their limitless existence. The following quote is from a post from www.peoriachronicle.com . The particular thread that I link to perfectly illustrates the level of mistrust and lack of confidence the public has in the District.

District 150 has hired the principal from Lindbergh for another admin job at Central office to take over middle schools and high schools from Sanfilip. Sanfilip will only have grade schools now. They are also bringing back Simpson and Fisher and of course, hiring a new principal for Lindbergh. Since they want Simpson to stay so badly, why can’t he be in charge of the grade schools since it was his idea to shorten their day, and then Sanfilip could do middle and high schools. You thought they were ADMIN heavy before, well folks, it just got worse. This must be going to come up at the next board meeting.

The District insists that the changes they wish to instate through the reduction of the school day and the cut of specialty teachers has its supporters. However, they rely exclusively on the opinions of their own minions. Additionally, if you look at the "research" they cite, upon closer examination, it just doesn't add up. We have not heard from a single community leader or educator outside the administration that supports this proposal. As one leader of the business community put it:
It just doesn't "feel" good, it doesn't "look" good, and had it had any educational merit, they would not have felt the need to rush it through. Even if their proposal did have some educational merit, at this point it is doomed
I will not identify the individuals who are vehemently opposed to this idea, but suffice it to say they are plentiful, and they have the right to speak for themselves. I believe that if the Board continues down this belligerent path, we will hear from them soon enough. In the meantime, out of professional courtesy, they are trying to give the board the opportunity to right the wrong they inflicted on the children of Peoria in their own due time.

On the other hand, I am not without my critics. One or more individuals who pose as "anonymous" or some loosely made up user name have accused me of wanting longer free babysitting for my children. I will let the anonymous nature of their comments speak for themselves, and the fact that as Anons, readers with any common sense know that one person can create multiple user ID's and appear to be a symphony of opposition as opposed to one person that is likely intimately linked to the harm that was inflicted upon our children with the vote of May 5. There is also the voice of a well-known and well documented chronic Internet bully, one whom the least of her worries is the children she serves, but that will be saved for another day.

My father is a great man. He is a product of the depression but unlike many of our present generation, based his life on a sound work ethic, a clearly defined sense of right and wrong and personal responsibility. He is a fearless man. I'll never forget the day he physically wrestled to the ground and pinned a vicious German Shepherd who had just mauled my face. My Dad never overlooked corruption or greed but would loudly expose it and stand firmly against it. As I relayed to him the details of our current struggle with the school board I saw once again a glimpse of his glory days. "Don't you let them get away with that, Diane. Stand firm". For all of his exterior toughness, he had a very soft side. Through the years I watched and assisted them with the care and placement of over 30 foster children from the inner cities of Chicago. Most of the children came with medical issues attached, as my parents both have medical background. Many were drug-addicted at birth, some had been abused and neglected. Most all were African-American. One in particular had been a 32 week old preemie. He was returned to the hospital for a domestically inflicted injury shortly after his release from the NICU. He was released again into the care of my parents who fought against the system and were successful in having the abusive parents parental rights terminated. That little boy is now my 17 year old brother who has just learned to drive. YIKES!

It is these experiences as well as the adoption of our daughter that, like many, cause me to feel a responsibility to protect the interests of all children. If this was only a fight for MY children, I would pull my boundary waiver from the district and simply place my children back in the Northmoor Edison school of which we are part of. Their school day is over 7 hours. That would be a LOT of free babysitting.

Just when I feel like I could be losing some steam, I get a phone call, or an e-mail, or the cashier at Krogers will recognize me in the grocery store. Thank you, thank you for the stand you are taking for our Kids. Another time I was securing the signature of my boss, John Ginder, the owner of RE/MAX Unlimited- one of the most successful Real Estate offices in the nation. As I broke in to my spiel he interrupted me and proclaimed - "Diane, you don't need to explain. Why wouldn't a school board know that you don't balance a budget by taking away from the Kids?" I always have and will continue to admire this amazing man.

If THAT isn't enough, I turn to the blogs, and read something like this. It seems that the amount of money that the District hopes to save by cutting back on the school day is exactly equal to the money they must pay back as a result of the frivolous use of funds earmarked for helping our most at-risk and disadvantaged children. Seriously, where does it end?

I look forward to seeing all of you at the protest tomorrow at the District 150 Admin office, 3622 N. Wisconsin Avenue, Monday, June 2, at 5:00 p.m..

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bravo Diane! You have every right to fight for what you believe in--especially when the school board is being as bullish as they are. Well written and definitely not at all cobbish. ;)

-lily

Raising my kids RIGHT said...

Way to go Diane! Keep giving 'em hell.

ImaSwede said...

Great post, Diane! Glad you could you my quote!! :)

I am aghast they have not put this on the agenda for this week's meeting. This tells me they are totally on a power trip. Did you read PJS's comment by Glen Barton on the opinion page? He is advocating charter schools and I added a post from the INCS website: Illinois Network of Charter Schools:

"Giving Students More Learning Time and More Focused Classes

Charter schools can offer longer school days and a longer academic year in order to get the most out of the educational calendar. Charter schools also set their own class size and teacher ratios, so teachers can give more one-on-one attention to each student."

Thank you, Glen Barton!!!

It says on his letter he represents District 150 Foundation. So which is it? Quality education or not?? Make up your minds!

Theresa McKeown said...

"As I delve in to the inner-workings of the District, a picture emerges that is not pleasant. It appears that the District's power and influence has been largely cultivated by themselves, as they hire, retire and re-hire staff that will be loyal to them and any of the principles they want to advance. Below is an excerpt from a letter our district watch group received from a principal currently in the District

"I'll be joining the ranks of the working retired a year from now. Then, maybe, I'll return as a consultant to straighten everyone out!!"
It seems that the policies and hiring practices are designed more for the preservation of the entity of the Administration than towards the delivery of a sound educational model for the children of Peoria."

BINGO DIANE! You nailed it on the head! Hopefully, everyone will make an effort to show up at the meeting Monday, June 2 @ 5:00. anyone who really "CARES" has a right to show up and attend this important meeting! Please give the parents a "voice" that is well deserved!

TEACH said...

Question:On the east coast,schools have their own websites for 20 years,now.Parents have had access to all information including daily homework and events at the school. Also, Districts have had these 45 minute prep periods for at least 25 years, now! However, the school day never was cut off for any time(the 45 minute prep is included in the regular school day. Why can’t the district include that 45 minutes without eliminating any time from the school day?