2020 Vision Doesn’t Work In The Dark


We recently published a post about that night’s Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 “preview” of its new “2020 Vision Strategic Plan.”

“2020 Vision”…get it?

Because a “We’re Finally Going To Try To Get It Right Strategic Plan” just doesn’t have the proper ring to it. Especially when you need a snazzy moniker with which to bamboozle the parents and taxpayers aout what’s supposed to be the guidelines for D-64’s priorities and goals over the next five years.

Besides, when you’re paying consultants based in New Orleans (JJ and Associates) to put together a dog-and-pony show for the locals, “shrimp etouffée” sounds a whole lot better than “smothered shrimp.”

According to the April 21 Park Ridge Herald-Advocate report about that April 15th event (“District 64 previews new strategic plans”), something that passed for a “draft” of the strategic plan was “presented” during the two one-hour meetings. But we haven’t come across anyone who got a copy of that draft, or who even knows anybody who got a copy.

And try as we might, we can’t find a copy on the D-64 website going on two weeks after the event.

As we’ve noted in previous posts, the bureaucrats and School Board members that run D-64 don’t want the average taxpayer to know what they’re up to. That could create difficulties in their herding all those taxpayers whom they see as merely a bag of money to be emptied without annoying questions or complaints.

The H-A article doesn’t report how many residents actually showed up at either session of last week’s dog-and-pony show.  And given those pre-7:00 p.m. time slots and D-64’s penchant for secrecy, it’s also no surprise we can’t find any video of either performance on the District’s website, or a roster of attendees. Based on what the H-A reported, the only two attendees were former D-64 Board member Herb Zuegel and Board member-elect Tom Sotos.

Zuegel’s contributions were half-baked observations like: “If parents don’t want kids to learn, they are not going to learn.” In other words, if kids aren’t learning it’s the parents’ fault, not the District’s. That’s such a convenient excuse for a District that never accepts responsibility or accountability for anything, that we wonder whether Zuegel was the District’s designated shill.

Zuegel’s other most significant observation was how achieving a strategic plan is threatened “[w]hen the adults are squabbling over political views and financial views…[and] when their needs become more important that the children’s needs….” Translation: taxpayers who dare to question what D-64 is doing with all their tax dollars should just shut up and let the professional educators do whatever they please.

Fortunately, Sotos’ comments showed real merit and suggest that he could become something other than the PREA’s Plan B candidate he appeared to be during the just-concluded campaign.

He rightly challenged the new five year plan’s lack of any District commitment to raise its academic ranking among districts in comparable communities – which is the only objectively-measurable way for residents and non-residents alike to compare school districts, such as when considering Park Ridge or some other north/northwest suburb for their future residence.

And when hired-gun consultant Robert Ewy tried to give Sotos the bum’s rush by saying the District’s survey results didn’t place improved rankings among major concerns, Sotos called out Ewy by not only expressing skepticism about those survey results but, also, by noting all the residents who told him about their rating concerns.

Had D-64 done the right and honorably thing by releasing those survey results prior to that event, Sotos would have had the ammunition he needed to brand Ewy an outright liar – assuming Sotos actually has what it takes to call a spade a spade.

That’s because those survey results reveal – in the only survey question which even attempts to inquire about the importance of “[c]omparisons to the results of other high achieving school districts, locally and nationally” (Question No. 4) – that those comparisons came in a razor-thin second behind “Measures of student growth over time as students’ [sic] progress through grade levels,” 56.01% to 56.62%, as the evidence most often used to evaluate the quality of D-64 education.

So much for Ewy’s credibility…and the credibility of the D-64 Board and Administration that cooked up this whole charade of a strategic plan process.

Ewy clearlly was brought in solely to create an aura of legitimacy for those strategic plan conclusions which we are pretty darn sure the D-64 administration already had locked and loaded well before the survey was issued and the committee formed.  Because when Supt. Heinz says that D-64 is “doing outreach all the time” and is “talking to parents and community members,” she means it is reaching out to only those certain parents and community members from whom it expects to hear what it wants to hear.

As “Inspector Renault” in the movie Casablanca would say: “Round up the usual suspects!”

And then spoon feed them a bowl of Survey Monkey chow.

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