Public Watchdog.org

Will Latest School Rankings Produce More Sound Of Silence At D-207?

04.22.16

U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking of Illinois high schools have just been released and they aren’t likely to be music to the ears of the Board and Administration of Maine Township High School Dist. 207.

Not that those folks will admit it. Or even acknowledge it.

In these 2016 rankings the flagship of D-207’s fleet, Maine South, clocks in at an unimpressive 45th place. And Maine East fills the 63d slot. Maine West? Um…don’t ask.

For Maine South, that’s a drop of 16 slots from its 2012 ranking. But that slide in the rankings is compounded by more ominous signs, such as a 40.8% “College Readiness” figure and some of the schools Maine South is trailing.

Stevenson, New Trier, the Glenbrooks North and South, Deerfield, Highland Park, the Hinsdales Central and South are givens. But Wheeling (41)? And Elk Grove (28)??

Seriously?

With the high teacher and administrator salaries, high cost per pupil, and 16-1 student-to-teacher ratio, shouldn’t Maine South almost have to be doing better than that?

Maybe there’s an explanation for this continuing slide despite D-207’s spending more and more money. But we’re unlikely to hear it from the D-207 Board and Administration. Like their counterparts at Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, any time ranking or scores come out that allow taxpayers to make comparisons between our schools and those of other communities, those officials get all sphinx-like.

So we’ll offer a few possible explanations just to break the ice, or the dead air.

1. Maine South teachers and administrators are doing a poorer job than in the past?

1a. Maine South teachers and administrators are doing a poorer job than their counterparts in other districts?

2. D-64 is doing a poorer job than in the past, thereby feeding less-educated kids into Maine South?

2a. D-64 is doing a poorer job than its counterpart districts in feeding better-educated kids into high school?

3. Park Ridge is attracting dumber residents who produce dumber offspring?

Park Ridge is a great town. It’s got a great mature character and a prime inner-ring location roughly 20 minutes (off-peak) from the Loop and even less to O’Hare. But it also has some drawbacks, such as airplane noise/pollution and flooding. And the taxes ain’t cheap.

So when non-residents look at Park Ridge as a possible relocation destination, sliding school rankings don’t make the welcome mat any more inviting. Neither does that 40.8% “College Readiness” figure for a community this affluent and that spends so much on its schools.

Let’s face it: Local Realtors can only get so far with their spiels about “our outstanding schools” when a couple of mouse-clicks make liars out of them – unless the prospective re-locators are trading up from unranked schools like East Leyden, Ridgewood, or Taft.

But don’t expect the D-207 folks to own up to this most recent ranking decline, or even to acknowledge it. They’re still selling the sizzle instead of the steak. Or the hamburger.

The only thing we’re likely to get from them is the sound of silence.

To read or post comments, click on title.

13 comments so far

Just curious about how many non English speaking students the schools you mentioned have. At Maine South, that population seems to have increased significantly. And I assume when you don’t have command of the language, your standardized test scores may suffer.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Okay, that could be another explanation. But if that’s what the School Board members and administrators want to hang their hats on, it’s up to them to say so: “The reason Maine South’s rankings are plummeting and our kids aren’t college-ready is because we have too many Polish-speaking students.”

Yeah, can’t wait to hear them say that.

How long will it be until a commenter in this space tries to explain that we’d better increase D207 and/or D64 budgets because “our high property values depend on having high-performing schools”?

EDITOR’S NOTE: It all depends whether Silly Drivel has been run off and whether any other apologist for irresponsible school board members and administrators replace him/her.

They have a great scam going. If you say anything unfavorable about the schools or their spending you are branded anti-child so everybody is intimidated. That is why they just keep ignoring these rankings and demand more money.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And the slogan “for the kids” – or Heinz’s “for your children” – has worked spectacularly.

Responding to 7:08 p.m. – EVERY school district in the area has more non-English speaking students, so we can’t single out Maine South for having been disproportionately affected.

Immigration is a good thing; we’re a stronger country for it. Let’s not devolve into Trumpian blame of immigrants when the real problem is profligate spending by irresponsible school boards.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “[P]rofligate spending by irresponsible school boards” who have no sense of actual ACCOUNTABILITY to the taxpayers and who, consequently, demand no accountability from the administrators.

“They have a great scam going”.

5:36:

Here is a suggestion….show up at a meeting! My God! Every time PD posts something about the school all you people chime in to agree buy you never show up. Put up or shut up as they say.

By the way here is an interesting stat. According to PD’s own blog category counter, he has written 704 posts about city government and only 204 about D64 and D207 combined!!

Hell, he has written almost double the number of posts about the Parks than D207 (100 versus 53).

So while he bitches about not paying attention to the biggest chunk of our taxes his own blog does the same thing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The reason we have a republic rather than a pure democracy is so the voters don’t have to attend meetings themselves but, instead, elect REPRESENTATIVES who (according to Madison in Federalist No. 10) are supposed to possess such wisdom, patriotism and love of justice “that the public voice, pronounced by [those] representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose.”

Unfortunately, by that measure, both of our school boards currently prove, and have for quite some time proved, the accuracy of Mark Twain’s description of school boards generally. And so long as

As of your “interesting stat,” we try to comment on topics that are currently before the public’s attention as measured by our local press. And our local press appears far less interested (or competent) in reporting on D-64 and D-207 than on the City, as exemplified by this morning’s H-A home page’s top 10 stories – 6 of which are about City issues, 2 of which are about Park District issues, 1 of which is about D-207’s color-spreading runners at Maine South, and 0 are about D-64. Even the Republican Women of Park Ridge’s annual meeting got more coverage than D-64.

But maybe that’s because both School Boards seem to do their most significant and controversial work while hiding in closed sessions, emerging only for their “official” Kabuki-style “discussions” and votes.

“…..as measured by our local press”…….ahhhhhh!! It’s your blog and you can write about what ever the hell you want! You have written about many things the press has not covered. You lambaste the terrible quality of the media and people here give you praise for your coverage versus the papers but what do you do?? Blame the “lamestream” media for what you decide to post on YOUR blog. How Palinesque of you!!

You can write about whatever you want and, while I am not going to go back and count, it is entirely possible you chose to post more about TPR than about D207. The comparison of PADS or library tutoring versus D207 would not be great either.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Most likley the “people here give [us] praise for [our] coverage versus the papers” because the papers’ coverage is often so poor that our posts – even though they are commentary and not reportage – contain more information. Not our fault.

As best we recall, 95% of the PADS debate and 100% of the Library tutoring debate took place in OPEN SESSIONS on which the “lamestream” media could report and on which we could comment. As best as we can tell, 90% of the important stuff that goes on at D-64 and D-207 is in CLOSED SESSION because thoee Boards want to hide what they’re doing from the taxpayers. Also not our fault.

7:00 am, I have no problem with immigrants and I have no idea if the increase in English language learners is proportional across all high schools. How do you know that? I just pointed out that the community’s demographics have changed since MS was a top ranked school decades ago. I just thought it might be a factor.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Indeed it might, which is why it would be useful if our “professioal” educators and our elected School Board memmbers actually gave us their explanation(s). But apparently they have no plausible explanation so the stay mute.

I get your point about secrecy and the school districts ignoring these rankings, ratings, test scores, and other metrics that show they are not as successful as they would want us to believe they are. But why will they change when they have gotten away with this for so long.

Start paying attention to these rankings and test scores, people, because it won’t be long before they start sinking our property values when people coming here “for the schools” stat realizing the schools aren’t worth coming here unless you’re from Franklin Park and those other communities with crap schools. And even then, those people can go to Elmhurst or Glenview, pay the same (or less) taxes, and get better schools.

anon on 04.23.16 11:29 am

Want to bet if and/or when the local “lamestream” media will report about the U.S. News rankings?

I’ll take “never.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Never” is the safe bet.

Anon 4/23 at 4:57 – No disrespect intended; thanks for clarifying. I do happen to know that immigration has historically centered on major urban areas like Chicagoland, and that Hispanic immigration has been much more widespread, even into rural areas. I doubt it’s a factor in the performance of Maine South vs. nearby districts.

Anon 4/24 at 9:14 – yes, although beware that school officials and their accomplices among local realtors will twist this into a case for actually RAISING taxes even more, in search of better schools….wait for it…”for the children”. Don’t be bamboozled.

Question you forgot to ask yourself and your sheep.
Why are there so many schools near the top of the rankings this year that never ranked that high before and why are some usually high ranking schools bumped significantly down?
Did some schools get a sudden influx of smart kids and others influx of dummies?

Or was the shenanigans and mishaps and schools allowing kids to boycott testing this year throw everything for a loop?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Those questions should be asked of – and answered by – the D-207 School Board and Administration.

http://newtriernews.org/examiner/2014/10/03/ranking-new-trier-the-magazines-are-doing-it-wrong/

EDITOR’S NOTE: To borrow a line from “The Wizard of Oz”: Pay no attention to the rankings behind the curtain.



Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>