Reflection upon the Jan 10th "Choice" Community Forum

I am glad I rearranged my schedule to make it to this forum; as with all meetings I find myself in, I personally place a much higher value on the one-to-one conversations I have, over and above the information that is disseminated and dumped upon attendants. So here are the pros and cons, from my point of view:

Cons

  • The old-school power-point presentation (and the subsequent reading of those slides) just doesn’t cut it. Lots and lots of people had questions of all types that were obviously not answered during the “short” presentation.
  • I like Doretha Simmons, but a more charismatic speaker would go a long way in making the session palatable.
  • The TV guy tonight was a bit obnoxious – never seen anything like that before. He stood 2 feet in front of Ms. Simmons while she was talking, blocking most of the room.
  • The definitions and descriptions of the “choice process” I think only made things worse.
  • I still dispute the use of the claim that Controlled Choice reduces involuntary busing. It is better than without the adjective, but I think they should take it off altogether.

Pros

  • The presentation was  a tad shorter, and there was a little more time for Q&A.
  • Michele Brown was on-hand to provide some in-depth expertise.
  • Again, good to be introduced to school principals and district administration.
  • Doretha Simmons did a good job of making it clear that they have heard dissatisfaction with the Choice process and they are doing something about it. (but what exactly?!?)

Some suggestions

  • Get rid of the power point, use real-life examples (I hear this in the works for Jan 26th).
  • Tonight there were a lot of questions about proximity, priority, curriculum and magnet programs, with emphasis on the first two (IMO). I think the presenters get caught up in the moment of trying to answer the questions to the best of their abilities, but it might help to take a step back and say “Hey, a lot of you are asking similar questions. Did you know that we have some improvements for Jan 26th? Here is what we will do differently….”
  • Use charts, pictures and demonstrations
  • Use real data from previous years; make said data available to everyone. I’ll keep hosting it if they link to it. Or they can host it.
  • I am torn about the time spent introducing principals and staff; on the one hand, it is great to make those connections with parents, but on the other, it also delays the presentation.

I connected a lot of faces with names, which for me is one of the best reasons to go to meetings. 🙂 I finally met Judy Wiegand and Doretha Simmons, as well as some blog trollers. *grin* I also met Trevor Nadronzy and had a most excellent talk with him. Things I personally found quite noteworthy:

  • Dr. Wiegand and Trevor are looking carefully at the “We the People” White House example, and seeing if they can do something like that in Unit 4. Woot!
  • Is setting up a time with Dr. Lizanne DeStefano (one of the Choice Evaluators from the University’s I-STEM branch), and we hope to be able to sit down and have some serious talks about what can be done about perception and the “Lottery”.
  • Mentioned that he is working with a guy from the bus garage to see if they can do something online with the Proximity data. Maybe even replace EduLog (my words, not his). I contend that the front-end application (EduLog) is not the important part, it is the proximity data that is provided by the bus garage. And we can make the web the front-end. 🙂

I like Trevor; he seems earnest and sincere about connecting with parents and addressing whatever issues they have. He is technically the Head of Curriculum, but he is tackling a number of what I would consider “out of scope” topics, and I appreciate his current modus operandi.

I have to mention something about Dr. Wiegand as well. She called me before the meeting to follow-up with the suggestions that I made at the Board Meeting last night. This is something that Dr. Malito made a habit of doing, and I am tickled pink that Dr. Wiegand is picking up on these little nuances. This is a huge factor in bringing folks back to the table. It’s almost as if Unit 4 is actually listening to people! (btw, that is a good thing)

Finally a closing thought about websites and web design. Lynn Peisker hired a Missouri consultant to whip up a couple websites for registration. I have already mentioned the Magnet school site; the other brand-new site (which is not even ready, yet) is http://unit4registration.org/. I am excited that these changes are coming down the pike. Awesome! However, I am saddened that we did not use local talent.  I just started a night class at Parkland (tonight, in fact) that teaches the basics of Graphic Design. The instructor told me that Parkland is saturating the local market with quality web and graphic designers. Hmm… what to do with people who are anxious to put several semesters of hard work and training to practice? For example, at least one of the main guys over at surface51.com is a Parkland graduate. Seen their signs and billboards around town?

2 Responses to “Reflection upon the Jan 10th "Choice" Community Forum”

  1. “What is Controlled Choice?” « A citizen’s blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] have blogged about these Choice Community Forums several times in past years (2010,  Jan 10 2012, Jan 26 2012). I am glad to see some small improvements like the FAQ (“What is Controlled […]


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