#ctrl-shift: small recap of 17-Feb gathering

This post is an attempt to summarize some of the discussions held over drinks at the Blind Pig on Tuesday evening, 17-Feb. I will only scratch the surface, so I ask that others who attended fill in the many blank spots.

 

First, the CTRL-Shift email list now has a public archive (woot!!):

https://lists.mste.illinois.edu/pipermail/ctrl-shift/

For those not familiar with the pipermail interface, I recommend you start with picking the latest month (in the second row, eg, February) and choosing the “Date” format (last option in the second column). You can play with different formats as you wish. Basically, this is an archive of all emails sent to the CTRL-Shift email list. If you hunt around, you can even find a list of all email recipients.

 

Also, for record, here is the CTRL-Shift website:

http://ctrlshift.mste.illinois.edu/

 

The first major discussion, a topic we would return to many times last night, was about the PARCC test (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). It seems the general consensus is that Common Core itself is a good thing, but PARCC is not serving our students, teachers or parents well. One person did raise the point that PARCC might actually be reinforcing the “good feelings” and confidence of those who take tests well in the first place, and for them PARCC might have some glimmer of benefit. But for everyone else, PARCC seems to do more harm than good. As tossed around in CTRL-Shift emails (for example), there is a fair amount of controversy surrounding the rapid Pearson-based implementation of PARCC, and so far we have not heard anyone who is really gung-ho for it. It is telling that so many states that initially supported the PARCC project have dropped out.

 

One of the many tangents/sidebars we explored was that of school board candidates and the leadership’s support of CTRL-Shift’s work at Kenwood. Obviously, those heavily involved in the programs at Kenwood are quite invested and want to see the fruit of their labor be sustainable going forward. There was talk of what various board candidates support, including the upcoming forums as an opportunity to learn more about the various platforms of each candidate.

 

Another related topic dealt with the work of curriculum development. As a parent and observer, I don’t really have any direct experience with such work, but one thing that was repeated is that this is very difficult, on top of the fact that there is no panacea, no “one-stop-shop”, no short-cuts to producing a curriculum; moreover, it is a process, as opposed to a product. Thus what CTRL-Shift is is not so much measured in physical output, but rather in how mindsets and learning environments are altered. Don’t be misled into thinking there is no output – check out the amazing TechTime @Kenwood blog to see what students are actually doing:

http://kenwoodtechtime.blogspot.com/

 

One very exciting report was that 15 Kenwood students are going to a SIT conference this weekend; what I personally find amazing about this whole experience is that, first, it is very project-based (which I absolutely LOVE), and second, to hear how students encounter and overcome challenges implicit in this endeavor; they have to not only come up with a topic, but figure out how to make it work and how to present it. From what I have heard, the actual presentation is just a small side-show compared to the bulk of the work these students and staff have been throwing themselves into at many after-school bi-weekly sessions.

 

Hopefully that gets your appetite going for what school can be. 🙂 It certainly made me want more.

 

I’m looking at you others that attended last night to fill in more details in the comments below.

Another email discussion thread about HS siting and the #unit4ref

I sent an initial email to the “Friends of Champaign Schools” and “Keep Central Central” committees, asking that they set up a panel/debate/forum between their two groups. The thread kind of took on a life of its own, and I feel that enough of it is relevant and contains important considerations for the wider audience to chew on, if you feel so inclined to read a little bit. I wish these email tennis matches were in a completely different medium, since email tends to be very tediuous to piece together and make into a nice page.

 

https://thecitizen4blog.wordpress.com/misc/emails-to-askchallenge-yes-vs-no-committees-on-unit-4-referendum/

 

I also hope that the folks engaged in this email exchange take it to the next level and actually have a public forum of some sort.

@KerrisLee_ @CafeKopi 11am-5pm, Monday, Jan 12th

From Kerris Lee’s tweet:

I will be at Cafe Kopi at 11am-5pm for open discussion on school board items tomorrow 1/12 for community input.

 

For those curious about the agenda for Monday night’s regular board meeting, you can find it on boarddocs:

  1. Go to http://www.boarddocs.com/il/champil/board.nsf/public
  2. Click on “Jan 12, 2015 (Mon)” (on the left)
  3. Click on the “View the agenda” button that appears in the right pane.

 

 

Jan 5 Special Board meeting

Even though it is two hours long, I encourage you to at least check out the beginning of the video of last night’s BOE meeting:

http://vimeo.com/116062752

UPDATE: Public comment starts at 23:10

 

Nicole Lafond also did an article:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-01-05/school-proposal-april-ballot-coming-monday.html

 

In talking with Kerris, it sounds like the plan that several board members had been working on was, for one reason or another, not highlighted. Chalifoux asked a question about it, but that is about all we hear. Kerris has told me he is going to do a little digging to see what the story is.

School Board Candidate filings

Per the News-Gazette and Gordy’s tweet this evening, here are all 10 candidates for the April 7th elections (the number following the name indicates either a 2-year seat or a 4-year seat):

  • Amy Armstrong (4)
  • Jamar Brown (4)
  • Azark David Cobbs (4)
  • Christopher James Kloeppel (4)
  • Kerris Lee (4)
  • Kathy Richards (4)
  • Prudence Runkle (2)
  • Kathy Shannon (4)
  • Jonathan Westfield (2)
  • Alissia Young (4)

 

I will be seeking out more information on each of these individuals; I am told that the media has already started to reach out to them as well, and I know the REWIND citizens group is contacting candidates. From memory, Cobbs, Westfield and Young have all tried for seats in the past. Brown and Lee are currently board members.

 

I am sure there will be candidate questions, forums (the PTA Council already has plans for one in April) and more media spotlights for each of them. Feel free to submit your own questions/thoughts here. I’ll publish what I have gathered soon.

Board Member Kerris Lee @ Cafe Kopi, Wednesday, December 17th, 3:30 pm to ?

Just a heads up that Kerris will be at Cafe Kopi tomorrow (Wednesday, December 17th) from 1:00 to 4:00 pm 3:30 pm to ? Hit him up with school board issues, the high school site, CTRL -Shift, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

 

If you are lucky, you may even run into another board member candidate (hat tip to Kathy Richards) as they hash out ideas.

Keep your eyes open

Just a few things to mention.

 

Monday, November 17th is a “special” board meeting, which typically means there are more opportunities for public comment. However the agenda is exceptionally small this time around, with the one and only thing really being discussed is a “public hearing” (*cough cough*) on “Physical Education Waiver Request”.

 

Last Thursday, Tim Ditman wrote an article covering how board member Kerris Lee is “exploring other Central High School sites“. Perhaps what I found most odd is that there are zero (nilch, nada, none) comments to the article. Granted, while Dodds Park and Bristol Park do offer some really interesting possibilities, they seem like extremely remote possibilities, but hey, Kerris is good at getting people to talk, so I dare not say impossible.

 

Next Thursday (November 20th), the national Learning Spaces Collaboratory will be holding a webinar on “Connecting the Dots between Planning and Assessing 21st Century Learning Spaces: Lessons Learned from the Field“. There is a $125 registration fee, so not for the faint of heart. I am hoping to hear from some local folks that attend this webinar and are willing to report out.

 

And lastly, save the dates for a few Saturdays in January; we are starting to make plans to offer design charrettes around the topic of the Unit 4 High Schools. Tentatively you can pencil in January 10th, January 17th and January 24th. I have spoken with the fine folks at the Douglass Center as well as the principal at Stratton and there is a distinct possibility we will be able to use their gyms. Pattsi, how can I help get your “charrettes 101” material online and available to all?

Collaboration and compromise

Recently, Kathy Richards presented her petition to the Board (Nov 10 BOE meeting). I have been waiting for it to pop up on Vimeo, but I might just try to record it off CGTV 5 at some point. Maggie Hockenberry of WCIA caught up with Kathy and interviewed her yesterday:

http://www.illinoishomepage.net/story/d/story/support-for-district-if-location-changes/42339/8oXxaq0_E0S1BKl9TAWIgQ

 

I think one thing Ms. Hockenberry perhaps missed is that a vast majority of us support the school district regardless of the referendum, there are just details about the referendum that we disagree about. For some it is location, others it is Dr. Howard, and a whole bunch of other reasons are thrown in the cart.

 

A recent twitter thread evolved into a sort of a challenge, calling folks to get together and hammer this thing out; Park district, city council, MTD, CCRPC, the YES Committee, those who voted “no”, UIUC students urban planning, LA, ARCH, NRES…. I am sure we could pile on more. Obviously, we should have done this two years ago. But here we are.

 

I don’t know how else to say this, but perhaps we should in a sense just shut up about it and start “doing”. For those that support the referendum but are willing to look at other options, can we open up the box and think about sites that are smaller than 47 acres? For those that opposed the referendum, find a site that works and meets all the needs of the district (sans 47 acres). Pattsi has one idea that we need to flesh out a bit more. Others have re-suggested Spalding/Judah. It is not enough to say that Interstate Drive is bad for this and that reason; we need to go beyond that and come up with a real, practical solution. And we will have to compromise – it has been said a bajillion times “there is no perfect site.” So we need to prioritize and figure out what we really need. What are the non-negotiables? We have to be willing to give up some things, on both sides of the fence, to focus on what is really important.

 

From my point of view, the biggest driver is sheer capacity. If we reduce the number of children that are jammed-packed into the current buildings, we solve a lot of problems just with that alone. I agree, there are still other ramifications that need to be addressed. So let us stop talking and start addressing. Pattsi, when is our first charrette scheduled for? 🙂

Kathy Richards presenting her petition to the Board tonight

Kathy Richards, the author of the petition that I blogged about a few days ago, is bringing her petition to the Board tonight – here is what she has to say:

Greetings, and thanks to all of you for signing and sharing my petition about the future location of Central High School.

Consider joining me in person tomorrow (Monday, November 10) at 6:00pm when I deliver this petition to the Unit 4 School Board.

I plan to speak during the Public Comment portion of the meeting, which should occur soon after 6:00pm, and I would love to have some friendly faces in the audience. Your presence will help show the board that there is broad community support for changing the proposed site for a new Central high school.

If any of you would also like to speak, you can fill out a comment card before the meeting and you will get 3 minutes of time to say your piece.

Just remember: however different our opinions might be, we all share the same goal of providing a first-class education to Unit 4 students. Let’s work together to make it happen!

Champaign Unit 4 Board of Education Regular Meeting
Mellon Administrative Center
703 S. New St. (Champaign)
6:00pm (Executive Session at 5:30pm)

 

The Board Agenda can be found on BoardDocs, but you will have to manually drill down a little to find it:

  • Go here: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/champil/board.nsf/public
  • Click on “Nov 10” in the left column
  • Click on “View agenda” that appears on the right
  • The agenda itself will appear on the left; line item details will appear on the right as you click on them. Note that this time around most line items have documents attached for further reading.

 

Also, just a reminder that Kerris Lee plans to be at Cafe Kopi this morning starting at 10:30 am; he is making himself available to talk about the referendum for anyone that is interested.

 

And finally, there is possibly a grass-roots “board candidate” group starting up this week for the purpose of finding board candidates next April (2015) and to discuss board member qualities that are desired. Anyone interested can join us at Houlihans tentatively scheduled for Thursday October November 13th at 1:15 pm. We plan to have more chats/dialogs, perhaps even online for those that cannot be physically present. Feel free to ask questions – we won’t be hiding anything under a stone. More to follow.

Kerris Lee available to hear your thoughts: Cafe Kopi, Monday November 10th, 10:30 am

Kerris says:

“I will be at cafe Kopi tomorrow if anyone wanted to meet and chat about the referendum”

.