Anyone attend the Rose & Taylor education forum?

I am curious to hear from those that attended the education forum at the Rose & Taylor last night (Sunday, October 26th). In reading Tim Mitchell’s NG article, I do not see anything that represents the voice of the 40 attendees. Did only white people talk?

 

I mentioned the following in response to Rebecca Patterson, but that might be buried in comments so I am bringing it front and center – here are the presentation materials used at several of the last few meetings:

Dropbox Prezi (you have to go to Dropbox, download the zip file, unzip the zip file, click on Prezi.exe)
– The slide on academic achievement at BTW and Carrie Busey
Social Justice “Restorative Justice” powerpoint deck

 

The Prezi is not too shabby, actually. 🙂 I like Prezi over and above PowerPoint, and the motif in this one is helpful. However, it might be a bit awkward if you want to try to view it. I have some simple instructions above, but if they do not work, let me know and I can try to help.

 

Since the slide about academic achievement focuses on only two schools, I have asked about other schools. I am hoping to find out, perhaps via the Illinois Report Card, how other schools have done, especially those that have been remodeled (Garden Hills) or newly built (Stratton, Barkstall). I am also curious if academic achievent, as measured by ISAT, has a positive correlation with the age of the building, including the middle and high schools. That is on my “To do” list for later.

 

But in the meantime, is there anyone else that would like to speak up about the Rose & Taylor forum?

Still missing the point

There have been a number of NG articles about Unit 4 lately; I am glad to see them and that Unit 4 is getting such coverage. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that roughly 80 community members attended the Board of Education meeting last night at Mellon Center, including prominent figures.

 

There are a number of things that caught my attention.

 

1. School Resource Officers (SROs, or the pejorative “cops in schools”)

Based on what Tim Mitchell reported in the NG, it seems like a bulk of the those attending last night’s BOE meeting were there for this topic; whether the board should keep the SRO program going or pursue an alternative (someone suggested some kind of security guard for example). There are good arguments on both sides of the fence, and obviously some very passionate folks who support either side of the argument.

But it seems we are being distracted from some of the root problems. Why is it that 19 out of 21 children arrested last year were black? This tells me that something in our society and even in our schools is utterly failing. I would even go so far to ask why is even one child being arrested? Where have we (collectively, you and I) screwed up? I have often quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Edna Olive on their views of the purpose of education; it is our moral and societal obligation to do all we can to make sure each child is successful and supported.

So we want to spend $291k/year on two(*) well-meaning and well-trained officers. How much are we spending on prevention, and truly educating and providing for the success of these children?

* We pay for two, but we actually get 5 SROs, as the Champaign Police Department pays for the other three

 

When I talked to a barber at Rose & Taylor, he readily echoed what Jamar Brown has been telling us about the “north end”; they are much less concerned about the location of the high school, but rather they are very concerned about discipline equity issues. I feel we need to take a long, hard look at the “whole enchilada” and figure out how to dig at the root of this vexing issue.

 

2. High School capacity needs

DLR painted a pretty grim picture last night – we are led to believe that by 2022 (eight years from now) we will be short by 33 classrooms, 4 small classrooms, 15 science labs and 7 PE stations. I do not necessarily agree with the “need” for all that, but let us assume they are all legitimate for the time being. This is going to be one of the pivotal arguments in building a brand-new Central and remodeling Centennial. It is winding up to be a huge tax referendum, one that is complicated by many factors such as the fact that we are two months out from needing a firm number and language for the November ballot, but we have neither. A number of folks have expressed dismay about the north Neil site suggested to the BOE, which has caused the BOE to double-back and spend extra effort and attention (and surveys and open forums, etc) to tackle whether or not the Spalding area would help the referendum pass.

But again, it seems to me that their are some serious distractions going on. If capacity is such a huge issue (and I believe it will be somewhat soon), and a monstrous tax referendum has very little chance to pass, why don’t we address the capacity issue in a more simplistic and less expensive manner – what about a third high school? It can be smaller, and gives the district the necessary agility to better respond to future oscillations in enrollment. In my opinion, large high schools lock us into a certain size mindset and further set a precedent that I think is unhealthy.

From what I can tell, the surveys and all the hundreds of thousands of dollars we are pouring into “experts” and “consultants” are all narrowing our perspective instead of broadening the horizons. Hence all the strong passions, both for and against. There is a unfortunate lack of other alternatives.

Lastly, we must be careful about how much we tax the lower income brackets. I have slowly come to realize that the poor among us are desperately in need of understanding and compassion. Not pity. Not empty sentiments. The Urbana school board has taken the stance of not raising property taxes at all but rather to fund their capital expenditures as money becomes available via the 1% sales tax (“Renovation without taxation“, also 2). Hmm…. that seems to be what most Champaign residents were led to believe as well.

 

3. Yet another administrative position

After seeing 5 new appointments (as reported in the NG and broadcast by Stephanie Stuart), I was curious about this “Director of Elementary Teaching & Learning” position. So I have asked Stephanie Stuart a couple questions and am waiting to hear back. I am unable to find it in any of the org charts or responsibility matrices, which makes me think it is a new position.

 

UPDATE from Stephanie:

This was Trevor Nadrozny’s position. The title changed from curriculum to Teaching & Learning during this school year.

 

Review of the Oct 8th Board Retreat: the conundrum of public education

Tonight’s post is partially inspired by an Old Spice commercial featuring Bruce Campbell and an intriguing statement by Henry Ford. You can google the commercial if you like – I am not going to link youTube because that can lead to all sorts of unknown troubles, but it starts of “If you have it you don’t need it. If you need it, you don’t have it.” The quote from Henry Ford I am going to steal is “If you need a machine and don’t buy it, then you will ultimately find that you have paid for it and don’t have it.”

First off, a couple of announcements came out of the retreat:

  • The state of Illinois is going to mandate a state-wide climate survey. This year! (I presume this school year, not this calendar year) Upon asking Dr. Wiegand for more details, she indicated that she is going to pass the buck to the Executive Director of LUDA and hopefully get back to me.
  • The Board and the Administration will hold another retreat in the Spring (TBA)
  • Unit 4 is forming two ad hoc teams/committees, one for Parent Advocacy and another for Transitions (ie, entry into Kindergarten, 5th to 6th, 8th to 9th). I ask for and received assurances that each committee would have its own dedicated webpage on the school website and that the chairs would be asked to keep the web spaces well maintained.

Dr. Laura Taylor got us started off with her “Social Justice Wheel“. This is the same wheel that was used for the Social Justice Committee (Sept 27th); in fact, Dr. Taylor even divided the room between those who already started that conversation so they could jump to the next application – what keeps parents and children out (in the context of the night’s focus on “Services for Parents and Students”)? We discussed this at each table – I ended up at a table with administrators since there were like…. zero other “parents” there (and by “parents” I mean someone who was not either a Unit 4 employee, Board Member or Media). In fact, I highlighted this point, sweeping the room and saying “look who is not here  – why are they not here?” For truly Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

OT: Register to Vote

Carla Jones, co-owner of the Rose & Taylor Barbershop, is distributing a flyer to invite folks to register to vote; Rose & Taylor will be holding a registration session

COME REGISTER TO VOTE!!
Saturday, September 29, 2012, 10am-1pm

Items to bring with you (2 forms of l.D.)
1) drivers license, state issued l.D. or school l.D., AND
2) a current piece of mail with your present address

FYI: If you are turning 18 years old before November 6, 2012 YOU CAN REGISTER TO VOTE!

124 N. First st
Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 398-9689 Barber Shop
(217) 355-9689 Beauty shop
www.roseandtaylor.com

Additionally, Gordy Hulten has been working to get early voting stations set up in several places around town starting October 22nd:

http://www.champaigncountyclerk.com/elections/early_voting.html

Unit 4 posts a weekly newsletter

In the past, Unit 4 put out a district-wide newsletter about once every 2 months or so. It looks like they might be stepping up to once a week now:

http://www.champaignschools.org/news/news_files/2012-09-13_WeeklyNewsletter.pdf

 

In this first issue, Dr. Wiegand emphasizes the need to connect with the community, and how this newsletter is hoping to “open the door even wider”. The bulk of her update deals with facilities; how exploding growth in enrollment is rapidly driving a need for more and better equiped buildings. She recognizes how the community needs to be a part of this process and expresses a desire to be transparent in the process, explaining that this is the root reason they have hired DeJong-Richter (URL to the RFP Proposal included). One of the nice things about the proposal which I missed before is that it includes a rough time-line. Now I only hope they provide a well-maintained dedicated webpage to this project.

 

One of the events listed at the bottom of the newsletter is the Social Justice Committee on Sept 27. Chuck Jackson and I spoke with Dr. Laura Taylor this morning, and we are all very much excited about her plans. She indicated that she will be posting minutes and such, but I hope she is a bit more ambitious and posts her plans, notes and thoughts, etc. 🙂 Dr. Taylor has been busy making personal invitations to various groups and churches and passing out flyers. They are expected a very large turnout. Dr. Taylor also expressed the hope that perhaps satellite groups would host future Social Committee meetings. Along the vein, I spoke with William Jones (co-owner of the Rose & Taylor Barbershop) and he is very interested in hosting a satellite meeting. Keep your eyes open. I am also asking Board Member Ileana Saveley about the possibility of bringing a satellite meeting out to Shadow Wood.

 

PS – Karen, you have raised some points in previous comments. I still intend to get to them, but I am really hoping that Dr. Taylor will respond in one way or another.

April 1st Barbershop forum has been postponed

Just heard from Carla Jones – the forum that was tentatively planned for this Sunday (April 1st) at Rose & Taylor has unfortunately been postponed.