Public Watchdog.org

2020 Vision Doesn’t Work In The Dark

04.26.15

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.

To read or post comments, click on title.

8 comments so far

I cannot understand how D64 can keep getting away with this kind of stonewalling year after year, issue after issue, no matter whether your enemy Heyde or your buddy Borrelli is the president of the board.

Based on what I read between the lines of your posts and your endorsements, the only D64 board member who we can hope (and I underline the word “hope”) will look out for the taxpayers and be the adult in the room in Eggemann. So, at best, he’ll be one voting against 6 after four years of striving for change.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Old habits die hard, especially when a majority of the public governing body is comprised of bobble-heads whose default position is to rubber-stamp whatever the administrators want.

Excellent coverage. Too bad Sotos was ground up in the partisan knee-jerk machine. Not the first time nor the last. D64’s ignoring of its almost #1 parental concern benchmark is mind-boggling, even for those of us who see this issue as you do. Where is the outrage?

EDITOR’S NOTE: What “partisan knee-jerk machine” are you talking about? (We’re not necessarily disagreeing with you, we just want to make sure we know what particular “knee-jerk machine” you’re talking about).

The “he’s got some ties with public education or unionized labor or maybe just sympathizes with them, so he must be stopped forthwith” machine.

EDITOR’S NOTE: There is no such “machine,” just an opinion based on an observation that was corroborated by the PREA president (“Duerkop said Sotos approached PREA members about running for the Board.” H-A, 3/10/15) and by the pairing of yard signs all over town that would suggest that Bublitz and Sotos became the PREA’s Chang and Eng for this election once Gruss got thrown off the ballot.

11:24, do you really think the PREA needs even one more school board member on its side to continue having its way with Park Ridge taxpayers during next year’s contract negotiations? Whether you are referring to Bublitz or Sotos, it doesn’t matter when they were 1 and 1A. At least it looks like we got the better (or less bad) of the two, not that it will help when a majority of the board rolls over for the PREA.

We will never get to see whether Bublitz and Sotos really were “Chang and Eng” because the voters separated them. We will be left to measure Sotos against the field.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yep, and the rest of “the field” (i.e., the D-64 Board members currently in office) has performed like a clown car of midgets when it comes to transparency and accountability, so it will be interesting to see whether he – and newcomer Mark Eggemann – can become the tallest midgets and grab the steering wheel of that clown car.

Why is it that you seem to be the only person harping on “transparency”? Did it ever dawn on you that you might be spitting into the wind and nobody else cares about “transparency”?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Why is it that you seem to have missed all the “transparency” that’s been going on at City Hall since Mayor Dave took office, and that has been continuing through things like open session reviews of the City Manager? Or the Park District’s semi-open session review of its executive director?

Obviously, both D-64’s Board and D-207’s Board are still wedded to their Star Chamber mentalities that dictate treating taxpayers like mushrooms: kept in the dark and covered with manure. Whether they ever change will depend on how many of you “mushrooms” decide that you deserve to be treated as something more, and better than, fungus.

7:02 — My observation is that people don’t know about the need for transparency because they don’t have the most basic idea about how local government is administered, run or run into the ground. If people knew the specific examples, they’d definitely care because no one likes unfairness…which is what lack of transparency brings.

I think we are focusing on what is, at best, a means, not an end, when we focus so intently on “transparency.” What we really want is better test scores for our kids vis a vis those in other upper-middle-class communities in the Chicago area. A majority would get behind that kind of push, and in fact are; while you’ll be pretty lonesome yowling about the concept of “transparency,” which clearly interests very few. Why? Because it’s a means, not an end; a feature, not a benefit. Not that you want any advice on recruiting adherents, but….lol

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Transparency” transcends “better test scores,” or “flood control,” or any other of the individual issues government deals with – as recognized by people on both sides of the political spectrum:

“Openness, transparency – these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt.” Michael Moore.

“We need more transparency and accountability in government so that people know how their money is being spent.” Carly Fiorina.



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