"Our voices are being heard, but we have a long way to go!"

Today I watched a fascinating scenario unfold, all second-hand mind you, but still extremely intriguing. So your first assignment is to go read what’s publicly available.

From my private emails and phone conversations, I am hearing that are several different perspectives on this situation; it is clear to me that there is significant confusion about what exactly is true. And let me say something that I feel very strongly about – it doesn’t really matter whose fault it is, what is most significant is how folks are hashing out their thoughts, their concerns, gripes and convictions. To me, I see it as a good thing that a relative swarm of Kenwood parents and staff attended the PTA Council meeting tonight. I see it as a good thing that Board Members have their ears to the ground (one way or another) and are attending meetings where bees are buzzing. I do not necessarily agree with what everyone is saying, or even how they are expressing themselves, but in the grand scheme of things, it is important that we are making headway. Which is why I really love the comment about our voices being heard! That is very significant. Yes, we do have a long way to go. Again, not that any one person is to blame, it’s just the nature of the beast we are dealing with right now.

Through this, I was reminded of Dr. Wiegand’s goals for the 2013-2014 school year, in particular:

GOAL #4: The Superintendent will effectively and efficiently engage parents and other community stakeholders resulting in strong partnerships.

A community’s economic growth and stability are dependent upon having a school system responsive to that community’s needs. To accomplish this, we must have a strong school-community partnership. It is critical that we improve the understanding of the school assignment process at the elementary level to our community. We also seek continuous improvement in our communication and in the customer service we deliver to our diverse community. In short, we must strive to become a more student and family-centered organization.

It is obvious that parents and staff had a certain expectation, and their perception of how recent news was delivered becomes their reality. The emotional responses are the quickest and strongest, as shown by the facebook post, the subsequent flurry of emails, phone calls and private messages, and culminating at tonight’s PTA Council meeting (or so I hear). These folks have a very real concern and they want to make sure their concerns are addressed. Hence “our voices are being heard”. Also, it is very interesting that the CFT (Champaign Federation of Teachers, aka “Teacher’s Union”) is seen as stepping in. It does seem a little odd that a balanced calendar school would be reverted to a standard calendar just to make it easier on those doing the construction. Surely there are other factors at play here. What exactly are the facts? How best do we take what we have so far and smash it together in a collaborative effort? The Superintendent is saying the school district wants to work with the community, and the community is saying they want a voice at the table. How do we bring these two things together?

As I have said before, I welcome differences of opinion on this blog. Why? I will tell you, and I hope it is obvious why this is relevant to the situation with Kenwood. Contrary perspectives, and even adversity, help us see things in a totally different light. He who thinks he has the answers stops learning; may we not fall into that trap.

How do you react to this?

"Community voices"

I would be hard pressed to say it better than this article, so I am going to send you to a Daily Illini editorial:



My google crawlers picked it up because the editor mentions the Unit 4 Summer Employment Program, and what a good thing that is in potentially decreasing violence in our community.


I’ll ask if I can quote the article verbatim here. In the meantime, I encourage you to go read it.