Unit 4 on the radio

Dr. Wiegand was featured on both WIXY (with Steve Holstein “HoCo”) and WDWS (Jim Turpin “Penny for your thoughts”). Sounds like they had a ton of fun on HoCo, and Steve asked some really good questions – I highly recommend you check it out. Many of the same things are repeated on the Penny show, but Dr. Wiegand had Marc Changnon and Stephanie Stuart with her, to help answer a range of questions/comments from callers (some obviously opposed to the referendum, some clearly in favor).

 

Along with Jess’s comment last night, I feel these are great conversations to be having, if only a year ago. 🙂 There was a comment on one of the shows about how Dr. Wiegand’s campaign is doing really well. It is not quite her campaign, but I do give big kudos to the “Friends of Champaign Schools” for running such a well-organized and well-done effort.

 

On the radio show, Dr. Wiegand highlight two of the main priorities they are addressing via the referendum; capacity and programming. When I heard the explanation, I could not help but boil it down purely to capacity issues; it seems to me that the current problems with programming (as mentioned on the show) could be vastly alleviated if capacity were not an issue at all. Marc Changnon also spoke at lenght during the Penny show about the Trades. I found it interesting that one caller submitted that the Agricultural Trades are actually exeperiencing a drastic decline in employment because of the rise of mega- and corporate forms, which comes with large farming vehicles and significant amounts of automation. Another discussion point was that of how much is being spent per square foot and per student. Dr. Wiegand says that we would be right in the middle for schools in the area (Unit 4 has had several slides to this effect). One caller made the comparison to Texas, which (if I recall correctly) ranged from $76 to $180 per student, quite a bit less than what we are planning on.

 

I encourage you to listen to both as you have time.

Wiegand will be on Penny for your thoughts tomorrow

From Stephanie Stuart:

Tune into tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. as Superintendent Wiegand talks w/ Jim Turpin on A Penny For Your Thoughts!

 

Also, Stephanie was recently on with Brian Moline:

http://www.wdws.com/audio/2014-05-13/stephanie-stuart-unit-4-schools-5-13-14.html

The Purpose of the School Board

This post started out as a deeper review and research of the recent Urbana School Board Policy 2:82 that got Jim Dey’s and Jim Turpin’s attention. But as I dug, I started asking bigger questions. Questions about the purpose of the school board and political engagement. But let me start from the beginning…

A few days ago, NG Editor Jim Dey wrote an editorial that stung the Urbana School District Board of Education and I started exploring his article in a post. Over lunch today, I took some time to dive into this whole thing with both feet.

First I contacted USD 116; I emailed the Board, Superintended Dr. Preston Williams and Assistant Superintendent Don Owen (and various administrative aides), asking where Policy 2:82 was published on the USD website. I must have missed it the first time looking through the Board Agenda, but the policy is indeed on the Board’s Agenda website:

http://www.usd116.org/files/boardmin1112/Board-Agreement-282-120605.pdf

As I was reading through it, I tried to ignore Dey’s perspective and form my own (which is rather difficult, actually). In reading through it, I can definitely see a sense of control being exerted. Control, in and of itself, is not inherently bad; I say that explicitly because even though it is obvious, we seem to want to escalate any desire for control into the realms of “bad” and “evil”. Certainly it can be used for bad. Is it? Also, I had to remember that these are expectations – when I read this, I did not see any ramifications stated if expectations are not met. Some call that kind of thinking devious, others call it thinking outside the box. (*evil grin*)

I also Read the rest of this entry »

Urbana School District Board puts themselves under an "interesting" PR policy

Jim Dey of the News-Gazette takes a very interesting (and somewhat harsh) spin on new policies adopted in Unit 116:

http://www.news-gazette.com/opinions/editorials/2012-07-02/urbana-board-rules-insult-public.html

 

Jim Turpin talks with Jim Dey on “Penny for your thoughts”: http://assets.news-gazette.com/sites/all/files/audio/2012/07/02/penny_7-2-12.mp3

 

The general stance from both Mr. Dey and Mr. Turpin seems to be that this is really bad news, and a bad precedent for School Boards to be taking. Both gentlemen seem surprised that the Urbana School Board had the guts to put it in black-and-white – there is speculation that a lot of Boards seek this kind of “controlling the message” in an effort to unite the voice of the body.

 

More later.

For myself, I would want to read the said policies for myself before I form my own opinion. I have often wondered how best for a body to fulfill their purpose as a middle-man between the body of registered taxpayers that votes them into the position and the administration for whom they are ultimately responsible. Having one, unified voice (I hear “Lord of the Rings” in the background) certainly makes sense in one direction; but how does it help engage the public and “do discussion”? Obviously, in practice we have a hard time finding a balance.