December 2nd board meeting: here comes the referendum

At the Nov 18th BOE meeting, we were told that the Board would meet on December 2nd to narrow the list of six potential sites down to three, and then possibly on December 7th to narrow it even further. Looking at the agenda for the December 2nd board meeting, it’s all about setting into motion things for the future, specifically the new high school site, funding (via a property tax referendum) and increasing the number of kindergarten classrooms.

I have several grave issues with way the Unit 4 future is being planned. I will grant, right up front, that probably most of my concerns center around the fact that there has been little to no realistic planning for the past 40 years, and the current cast of players have inherited both that fact and the mindset that goes along with it. I choose the word “inherited” very intentionally – I think there are a lot of good intentions at many different levels, yet we still have many really big obstacles to work through.

Where to start….. Read the rest of this entry »

What one Central teacher needs

In my last post, we talked about the lack of air-conditioning at Central, and via the comments we went over the windows, airflow, and whether it is worth it to drop $800k for 10 days out of the year.

 

Recently, I heard back from one of the teachers who was nice enough to answer my question “What do you need?” Below are the responses – I think these three items are significant for various reasons, but before I dive into my thoughts, here they are for your reading pleasure:

1) Cleaner, better quality air. My students and I (and my colleagues), especially those of us affected by allergies and/or asthma, are quite miserable every day of the year due to the dust, mold, and dirty air in this school

2) A larger, more accessible classroom. As you saw, I have my students seated in groups of 4, to foster collaborative group work. However, I can barely get in between the groups to observe them more closely, and the kids don’t have any room to move.

3) A classroom that isn’t used every period of the day, so that I can be in my room during my lunch and planning time to more effectively, well, plan my lessons and grade papers! It’s very difficult to do when changing locations every couple of hours. I know travelling teachers have it way worse than me!

 

From where I sit, these are big (I would even say, “bigger”) issues. Based on what little I know of modern window-mounted AC units, they wouldn’t do squat for higher quality air. Would they? The other two issues speak to the physically cramped space within the building. Just a wild thought here, but if the building had fewer students (and fewer students per class), these last two objectives could be met quite easily, no?

 

I would be very curious to hear from more teachers. And more students. If, for instance, that these three issues were not isolated to one teacher but were in fact common for a vast majority of the people in the building, what do we do about that?

 

Another big question, to what degree is “education” and “teaching” directly affected by these obstacles? The taxpayers and voters want to know what the “bang for the buck” is in terms of passing referenda. A $300 million bond that results directly in shiny new buildings can certainly give certain members that warm fuzzy feeling, but how do we measure the real impact in educational terms?

 

As a closing note, my heart and endless thanks go out to our teachers. With sincerity, I say a big huge “THANK YOU” to all of you who teach our children, yet again without a contract (at this point in time), day in and day out, some in worse conditions than others.

Educational Philosophy

I wonder what would happen if school board policies were mandatory reading for taxpayers? My first hope is that a massive revolt would force an entire rewrite to get rid of the crap and transcribe it to something we can all easily understand. My second hope would be that we stop arguing over the small stuff and focus, as a larger community, on the bigger stuff. Until that day happens….

 

Just highlighting a little gem I think we all often forget. Be careful to note the details to which the policy attempts to embrace the students, the staff, the teachers, the parents and the community; note the need for collaboration at many different levels, both within and without the schools; note that which you think is totally awesome and that which you think we are failing at:

http://policy.microscribepub.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=1388632&depth=2&infobase=champaign.nfo&record={29}&softpage=PL_frame

120 EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY

The Board of Education of Champaign Community Unit School District No. 4, as legal officials of the state of Illinois and duly elected by the people of the District, feel obligated to the students of the District to see that their educational needs are met in the best possible manner. The Board, the administration, and the staff of the District will exhibit leadership in all endeavors toward the improvement of our educational program and facilities.
The Board of Education believes that the educational program should provide each student with the opportunity to develop to his/her fullest capacity in the areas of academic, physical, and emotional needs, regardless of race, sex, handicapping condition, socioeconomic status, or academic aptitude.
The Board of Education endorses the following goal statements for the District:

1. To develop an educational program that provides as solid a foundation of both academic and career knowledge and skills as the abilities of each individual will permit, which aims toward the development of each student’s potential with respect to college admission or vocational competence, and unmistakably reflects sincere concern for the human qualities of the individual;

2. To establish a physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually healthy environment for teaching and learning;

3. To effectively communicate and have a mutual understanding among staff, students, parents, and community so that all may work in concert to achieve an outstanding educational program;

4. To make appropriate recognition of and efficient use of community resources;

5. To continue efforts to recruit and retain a highly skilled and committed staff and to promote the professional growth of this staff;

6. To provide a sound, long-range plan designed to meet future needs;

7. To make the best use of the District’s physical plant;

8. To advise and inform the public of district activities and seek their advice;

9. To provide the highest moral and professional leadership; and

10. To maintain priorities consistent with the educational goals and philosophy of the District.
Approved July 11, 1988