Dr. Wiegand on "Penny for your Thoughts"

Hat tip to Lynn Peisker for announcing that Dr. Wiegand was going to be joining Jim Turbin on “Penny for your thoughts” this morning.


I did a little head scratching and came up with 4 questions I wanted to pose:

  1. Update on Public Engagement Firm concerning the high school options
  2. Update on RFP for School Assignment
  3. Reflections/thoughts about Leadership Book Study
  4. Top issues of the day


Jim essentially asked two of my questions for me (#1 indirectly, and #4). Dr. Wiegand conversed with one caller who was commenting on the “distinguished” high school graduation ceremonies last night. Jim and Dr. Wiegand chatted about the big changes going on with Carrie Busey, Westview, with a minor and very slight tangent about the name(s) of the schools (what to call the building on Kirby in 3 years when it is done being a revolving door?). Dr. Wiegand shared how 5 new classes are being added to accomodate the record-setting incoming students. When asked about the high school options, Dr. Wiegand mentioned that things are still rather up in the air (my words), that the single mongo high school option is still on the table (2 middle schools 6-7, a prep school for 8-9 and a high school for 10-12). She mentioned that Holly Nelson, the graduate student who has taken on Unit 4 as a research project, will be reporting at the June 11th Board Meeting. She concluded by stating that the District is still very much interested in hearing what parents and community members think, and they are possibly engaging a PE firm in the Fall. When asked about some of the big things going on, Dr. Wiegand mentioned that she is looking forward to meeting the new Administrative Staff (ie, Dr. Laura Taylor, Dr. Susan Zola, Ms. Angela Smith).


I called in. I hate it when I fumble my words, but I am getting better at it. I think. Anyway, I asked about the book study (#3). Dr. Wiegand did an excellent job of describing what the book study was all about. However, I felt she did not answer my question about how the staff was reacting to it, or any of her personal thoughts on how it was going. I was impressed to learn that the CFT President, Deb Foertsch, had asked building representatives to attend the book club. I like that because it tells me there is a sort of mutual respect for this excellent opportunity, and I hope that this is one of those “safe environments” Dr. Mark Aber talks about. If you are a teacher who is attending the book study and you think this is not the case, please let me know.



I called back later in the hour to ask Jim what he thought about the desire of the community to be involved in discussions, specifically in the context of the high school options. He observed that most people are going to wait until too late (my words) and then voice their loud, passionate opinions. In other words, he did not see that many people interested in having a community forum as a proactive, planning type of strategy. Interesting.


This is the first time I have called into Penny for your thoughts. I have to confess, the commercials are a killer for me. I hate commercials. I have a TiVo and it is a blessing. This live stuff bothers me. ๐Ÿ™‚ However, another rough thing for me to handle is how Jim disconnects callers. I was not prepared for that at all. I asked my question, Judy responded and Jim moved on. In fact, I had to tune back into the radio to hear the “Thank you” and whatever he said next. I understand he has to keep it moving, it was just a bit jarring for me.


I have sent an email to Dr. Wiegand with my question about Alves and to follow-up on the book study.

5 Responses to “Dr. Wiegand on "Penny for your Thoughts"”

  1. robertdeatley Says:


    I did not here the conversation this morning, but, sadly, my experience tells me that your summary of Jim’s comments is spot on. Public bodies at all levels are terrible at informing the public of things that might concern them. Media doesn’t always help (it can be difficult to explain Unit 4s position on working cash bonds, for example, in a 30 sec. news clip or 3 short sentences in a brief newspaper article). And even when news media does make it clear, few people in the community seem to care until after a decision has been made. So yes, I think Jim is correct.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    Why is that? What have we lost as a society such that there is huge, common-place and egregious disconnects? There is something wrong here.

    And you know what, on the other hand I am quite convinced that the public is not supposed to know everything. Let me place extra special emphasis on that last word, EVERYTHING. It is impossible. It is overwhelming and exhausting. That is not our role.

    But I am still developing this idea in my head about what we are supposed to know and do. Call me silly, but I am wondering if we truly work best when we focus on smaller networks, smaller communities. I am just quite glad I don’t live in Chicago. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Chuck Jackson Says:

    To some degree I think there just isn’t enough to react to. There is no question put out to the public. The issue is not framed or put in context.

    To use an educational concept, there has to be scaffolding for the public to be able to contribute meaningful ideas. If I asked Dr. Weigand (or any school administrator) what she thought of the controversy about PTI closing or the Institute of Aviation going away I suspect that she’d be aware of the issue, perhaps even know some of the issues but could she answer such a banal question as, “What do you think of the PTI controversy?”

    This is where we see the difference between window dressing attempts at communication where there is something like plausible deniability, “What are you tailing about, we DID ask the public and they didn’t have any meaningful contribution.” Versus real attempts at communication where there is context, there is framing the issue and there is a willingness to educate in a dialog rather than simply looking for conclusions. Ideas are great, but when they are challenged, they have the chance to become extraordinary. This cannot be accomplished with casual efforts.

  4. Jackie Says:

    I get irritated when some feel that there is some conspiracy or that the public is being “kept out” of decisions. Organizations like schools need to have autonomy to respond quickly and flexibly to changing demands but also maintain accountability to the public on key issues. I believe that not every issue is my business, even as a taxpayer and parent. Charles’s earlier point about which decisions are “public debate” and which are day-to-day operational decisions that we must empower administrators to make given their expertise and deep knowledge is a very, very important one. The amount of time and energy it would involve to make every decision a “publicly discussed” decision is significant. Which tasks that administrators are currently doing should we have them discontinue so that they have time to sufficiently frame, scaffold, and teach the public to meaningfully engage them in a discussion of every option and decision?.

  5. charlesdschultz Says:

    I’ll speak for myself, since I tend to be the most qualified (and less qualified to speak for others). I could probably self-diagnose myself with a mild case of “Information Addiction” (1, 2). People like me want and and expect to be able to find information online. Sometimes to the extent of expecting anything to be available via the mighty google. This is obviously highly unrealistic (hence the slight factor of psychosis).

    It is easy for folks like me to get confused about the role information plays. For that matter, the role of individuals and the role of society. I look around me and it is easy to take note of broken role models, examples that are clearly not working. However, it is also relatively easy to find role models that are indeed working; there are hundreds of individuals and small groups of people serving others in our community; there are many many healthy families and wise friends who know when to push and when to embrace; there is obviously something that does indeed “work” about the current educational system. Yes, things are not perfect – the corollary is that things are not perfectly broken, either. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Here is what I know and have observed personally. You can form your own opinions. When I email Dr. Wiegand, Gene Logas or any of the Board Members, I very typically receive a response the same day. Not always. Sometimes I never get a response. When I call, I almost always either get voice mail or talk to assistant, and a majority of the time I get a call back from the person I was hoping to talk to that same day. Not always. Just most of the time. If I want to set up a meeting with an Administrator, building level staff or Board Member, they are extremely open to doing so. I might have to wait a week or two. Sometimes I can get an appointment the same day. On a rare occasion, I have dropped by unannounced and just sat down and talked.

    When I observe our community and society, I see a lot of brokenness. I see a lot of lonely people who try to satiate the desire for connectedness in various ways, sometimes successfully. Sometimes not. Facebook, going to meetings, trolling online blogs (*wink*) and online media, joining a committee, going to church, forming sub-communities. We are exploring our corporate identity, I think. Even our own individual identity to a degree. I know for myself that I have not yet fully figure me out.

    It is not exactly clear to me what the real purpose of Education is. I have ideas. I believe it empowers a person to participate in the democracy of life. We are overwhelmed with a message from DC pushing to be academically “competitive” but that doesn’t mean anything to me. When our community is struggling to discover themselves and the purpose of education is not clear, I expect bumps on the road we travel together. ๐Ÿ™‚ I very much believe “we make the road by walking”.

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