"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?

Percolating thoughts

The Board believes the District will be most successful when the community is aware of and understands the District’s efforts and goals.

Source: December 01, 2011 EEE Committee Meeting minutes

I would take this further; the word picture I use is like a marriage – the general health and excellence of the relationship is (I believe) optimal when all parties share the same goals within the context of each individual’s whole self. Yes, the District will be better off when the community is aware of and understands the District’s efforts and goals, but I wish to clarify that and hope that the goals are shaped and the efforts are guided by a strong community collaborative partnership. I say that very deliberately – I do not think the goals and efforts should be determined by the state, nor the government (as it exists now). Unfortunately, it is my observation that our schools are currently, largely, a reflection of  legislation.

Allow me to take you a short tour of stories that have impressed me this past week (or so).

  • Vandana Shiva (hat tip to Pattsi Petri): Ms. Shiva is not stupid – she has studied nuclear physics and has researched Quantum mechanics. As one commentor said “I would have hoped that studying physics and quantum theory would lead most students to similar conclusions of social and environmental equality but it cannot be. It must require a love of people first.” Her ideas of interconnectedness are fascinating, to say the least, but it totally makes sense. I could not help but see this report through the lens of education, especially Read the rest of this entry »