Literacy as writing

In her latest newsletter, Dr. Wiegand focuses on (what I see as) one leg of Literacy known as “writing”. She uses the story of a high school out on Staten Island that underwent dramatic reform as a backdrop to the need to focus on writing skills. And not just the ability to press a pencil on paper, but translating the rapidly firing neurons in our grey matter into “coherent, well-argued sentences”.

 

The article she references is a bit lengthy; what I have read so far seems to resonate. What strikes me from the article is the picture that is painted of the teachers and how they seem to think their teaching cannot possibly be a part of the problem. That is perhaps a trap any of us have to watch out for – it almost necessitates that we not only allow but also invite critical, honest and constructive analysis of ourselves and our work. That is very humbling and thus very difficult to swallow. I truly believe that if a relationship of trust is fostered, than those much-needed truthful and well-intentioned corrections can be made by others. Without that trust, we are like turtles hiding inside our shells.

Reflection of the Sept 27th Social Justice Committee meeting

I think we barely scratched the surface. But we did scratch.

Dr. Taylor, who says she was called Laura or ‘LT’ while at Urbana, followed her publicized agenda very thoroughly. I totally failed on naming the musical selections – I might have recognized one of them. One of the ladies at our table couldn’t stop dancing to most of them. 🙂

On “The Purpose of the Committee”, I am pretty sure Laura said that this will NOT be a committee. I had to grin at that. She talked briefly about some of her visions for this group, about how we are going to try engaging in “Courageous Conversations” (hat tip to Karen) and how we have to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations. I very much appreciate her passion and vision for this.

We were divided into about 8 tables averaging about 4 or 5 each and Laura did not take long to give us our first group task; discuss the ground rules. For instance, our table talked about things like respecting each other, employing active listening, don’t take things personally, don’t dominate the conversation, have a thick skin and just be honest. Each table had an opportunity to relate to the whole some of these ground rules, which were complied by Angi Franklin (the designated notetaker). I am anxious to see that list posted on the website.

Although Laura never really attempted to define “Social Justice”, she did have us collaboratively come up with thoughts about the term “Ideology”. Several folks shared common ideas about belief systems; I wrote down “A framework for belief or world views”. She used this as a springboard to launch into the Big QuestionⓇ – Who defines what is ‘normal’? She passed out her “Circle of Ideology” (will link when I find it) and we spent a bit of time Read the rest of this entry »

The evolving story of the CFT/Board negotiations

Keep checking back on this: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2012-09-27/updated-champaign-teachers-union-take-strike-vote.html

I asked (in the comment section):

What role does the public play in all this? The CFT held an “informational picket” before the regular board meeting at the beginning of the month, but it was not clear to me then (and nor is it now) what the public is actually supposed to do. I get that the event supposedly applies pressure on the Board, but to do what exactly? All we know are very general things. And maybe that is the way it is supposed to be – I just don’t get what part we play in this little saga. It is our tax money afterall, right?

I have also asked the PTA Council if they have any plans to hold a panel/discussion with CFT and Unit 4 reps – I know I would appreciate knowing more about what’s going on. But moreover, I really want to figure out what my own role is. Am I supposed to be just a bystander? I don’t think so.

UPDATE: Meg updated her article at 4:07 pm – I think some of the new text (in addition to an important change in the title) is as follows:

The school district issued a statement saying the school board was “surprised and disappointed” to hear of the vote while the district and union are still negotiating.

A strike authorization vote is when the union’s negotiating team goes back to its membership to report on how negotiations are going, said Illinois Federation of Teachers Spokesman David Comerford.

The union members then give the team feedback and takes a vote to give the bargaining team authorization to call a strike if necessary, Comerford said. The vote has to do with the union’s constitution and is different than the intent-to-strike vote the union would have to file with the state Educational Labor Relations Board at least 10 days before striking.

Comerford said a new state law has changed the timeline on which downstate teachers strike.

 

Additionally, I spotted Cathy Mannen, Sue Grey and Tom Lockman at the Mellon Center after 5:pm – I did not see them meeting or talking, so I cannot relay any facts other than that I saw them.

Supper with the Superintendent: October 11th

[Edit – adding text version which is SEO-friendly]

Carrie Busey Dedication & Supper with the Superintendent

Please join the Champaign Community Unit 4 School District #4 Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Judy Wiegand for the formal dedication of

Carrie Busey Elementary School

304 Prairie Rose Ln. Savoy, IL  61874

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dedication Ceremony 5:30 pm

Tours and Supper with the Superintendent 6:00 pm

PS – I don’t see the flyer up on the Unit 4 website, yet, but I am sure it won’t be long.