Public Watchdog.org

Here’s Hoping New Supt.’s Performance Matches Big Contract

02.07.14

Last week the Board of Education of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 made it official: Laurie Heinz is the District’s next superintendent and will be taking the reins from Philip Bender in June.

Ms. Heinz, currently an assistant superintendent with Skokie School District 68, was the last candidate standing – through no fault of her own – when the other finalist, Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124 superintendent Robert Machak, abruptly withdrew his name from consideration after his day-long visit to D-64.  Whether he was scared away by what he saw during that visit, or whether he just had second thoughts about leaving his current position, or whether District 124 made him an offer he couldn’t refuse (with or without horse’s head), is not known.

But, frankly, that’s water under the bridge, as is the flakey hiring process that started with a terribly flawed, if not outright silly, “Leadership Profile” survey dreamed up by the high-priced consultants over at BWP & Associates, and ended with the School Board hiding in closed session meeting after closed session meeting , even as its members were bragging about this being the most transparent process ever.

Compared to the Vatican’s papal selection process, maybe.  But calling it “transparent” clearly redefines that term, even in the parallel universe of local government.

Like an untested athlete picked in the first round of the draft, Heinz reportedly got a three-year deal with a starting salary of $201,000 and a total compensation package valued at $243,010.  There has been no mention of any incentive bonuses for achievements – like making the all-administrator team, winning the Most Valuable Superintendent award, or landing even one D-64 school in the Chicagoland Top 50 rankings based on standardized test scores.

Since the “transparent” D-64 still hasn’t posted Heinz’s contract on its website – at least not where we can find it – we’ll have to rely on the District’s 01.31.14 Press Release for those details for now.

School Board president Tony Borrelli called Heinz “someone who will provide direction, find answers, give input and, most importantly, pull the various elements of our district together so that all oars are pulling together for the common goal of developing this district to be one of the highest performing districts in the state of Illinois.”

If she can do that, she will be worth every penny the D-64 taxpayers are paying her.

But we’ve heard that kind of happy heifer dust before…whenever D-64 hires another superintendent.  Or when it comes up with some new “silver bullet” scheme heralding sea-change improvement in academic performance, like when it embraced the “middle school” concept in order to manufacture the need for the new Emerson school building back in 1997.  All that produced was a mini-financial crisis 8 years later and another tax hike referendum in 2007, with no objectively-measurable improvement in educational performance or rankings.

The District’s 01.29.14 Press Release is loaded with all sorts of school-oriented public relations jargon like “work seemlessly,” “best maximize,” “collaborative groups,” “seek an endpoint,” “earmarked,” “vibrant yet controlled” and “push personal boundaries.”  While these are attributed to president Borrelli, they sound a lot more like D-64 spin-meister Bernadette Tramm’s handiwork.

For her part, Ms. Heinz is saying and doing all the right things (although terms like “continued success,” “fresh perspective” and “leveraging community and Board of Education involvement” also sound like 100% pure Tramm) and we sincerely wish her well.  If she succeeds, her success will redound to the benefit not only of the children in her charge, but also to the benefit of the D-64 taxpayers who have suffered from the upward spiraling D-64 tax burden while objectively-measurable student performance has stagnated or declined – and may be taking Maine South’s ranking down with it.

But make no mistake about it: Ms. Heinz is a mercenary.  She does not hail from Park Ridge, nor does she live and pay taxes here.  The superintendent’s position is simply a career move for her, not a long-term commitment to this community.

Her “investment” here will be limited to her time and effort – for which she will be handsomely compensated, not only while she is working but also by a guaranteed pension that could pay her an additional $3-4 million after she retires from public education.  And if things don’t work out for her at D-64 after 3 years, she can move on – almost three quarters of a million dollars richer – without any disruption to her and her family’s life.

That’s not her fault, either, but just another aspect of the absurdity that infects public employment in Illinois.

We do, however, find it odd that Ms. Heinz, a newly-minted superintendent, will apparently be paid the same as a seasoned superintendent like Bender.  Why that is the case is unclear, although we find it interesting that Board member Dan Collins, in casting the only “no” vote for Heinz’s compensation package, referred to how his fellow Board members already knew all his reasons for that vote – presumably because they heard them in all those closed sessions.

Chalk that up as another information casualty from this faux-transparent Board.

But from what we’ve seen and heard so far, we have to trust that Ms. Heinz can do the job.  Whether the Board can do its job, however, remains the real unanswered question.

To read or post comments, click on title.   

39 comments so far

What did it cost D64 Taxpayer for this hiring/consulting firm? Whatever it is, it seems like too much.

Here’s what I see: The D64 board found the MOST-LIKELY candidate and overpaid her. Most-likely, meaning someone who works in a surrounding area that wanted to take the next step. Did we need a firm for that? Isn’t it public knowledge who holds all these positions?

They probably overpaid her because they negotiated like government people negotiate….stupidly. No incentives and a premium salary, that sounds very typical.

We can turn it into a slang:
They really “D64’d” this process or should we say they really “D207’d” it didn’t they?

Either number, same meaning.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Let’s just leave it at “too much.”

Formulating the offer in the “secrecy” of closed sessions pretty much guaranteed a stupid result. But so long as the same Board members and/or the same mentality dominate, this is what we’ll keep getting.

For brevity, how about just saying they “64d” it?

“Whether the Board can do its job, however, remains the real unanswered question”.

I do not think the question is unanswered at all. It may change down the road. More likely it will be evaluated on a case by case basis. But as of right now (with the information we have today), if the question is can the board do its job the answer is………NO.

My kids went through District 64 under the Fred Schroeder and Sally Pryor years. It seemed like almost ever year there was a new “pilot program” or curriculum change to great fanfare but little perceived result. The education was good, but I ran into very few teachers (in over 13 years) who I considered better than average. Just an observation.

So you think that your kids got a “good education” but you also think that the vast majority of their teachers (the teachers you ran into) were average (or worse).

May I respectfully suggest one of these thoughts has to be wrong.

7:22 am, you’re right. the education was average. Thanks for causing me to look at things once again, and more realistically.

So if I might ask what makes an education “good” vs “average”? How do you judge that? By what grades they got? By how well the child did in high school? The quality of the college and or/career path he or she ended up choosing? The income level he/she eventually commands?

I’d really like to know more about the criteria people are using to make these statements about their kids’ educations, especially in retrospect.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sounds like a good question. What are yours?

So all these years you thought your kids got a good education but the vast majority if the teachers were average at best. Now, on a Saturday morning, in 4 hours and 39 minutes, it has suddenly dawned on you that those 13 years of education for your children that you thought were good were actually only average. Amazing!!! I am honored that I was able to play a role in this epiphany!

It is a shame the light bulb did not go on while your kids were in school when you could have done something about it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Done what about it? Send the kids to a parochial school?

I consider many factors to be indicators of the quality of the education my kids are getting in D64, none of which would likely be meaningful or credible to you because they’re subjective.

You’ve indicated that test scores are the sole measure of a school’s quality. So how do you account for the disparity in scores among the student population? Is a student with above average scores “succeeding” because of or despite their school experience? I’m guessing you would say “despite.” Yet on the other hand if a student’s scores were below average I’m guessing you’d blame the school for his or her shortcomings. It’s kind of a “damned if you do damned if you don’t” question.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve never said that test scores “are the sole measure of a school’s quality” but those sure are a good measure. And as D-64’s test scores have descended into mediocrity, guess what? So have Maine South’s. Coincidence?

Yet when MS scores are higher you always hint that it is the middle school students from private schools that bring up the score.

EDITOR’S NOTE: By “when MS scores are higher,” you must be referring to the fact that MS, even with its 26th place ranking among Chicagoland high schools, is ranked far higher than any of its D-64 feeder schools. So, yes, it MIGHT (not must, just MIGHT) be that the reason Maine South ranks higher than any of its D-64 feeder schools is because of the parochial school kids.

Do what about it??? How about be a parent? You meet with, have a dialogue with and be a general pain in the ass with teachers, admin and counselors. You work on a plan for your child and measure against it. You follow up. You advocate for your child and you work like hell with them at home. You have them go to summer school.

What you do not do is be so freakin’ isolated that for 13 years you thought it was good and yet you change your entire opinion over coffee on a Saturday morning.

Based on the posters own words, it appears they spent the entire time their kids were at D64 (and apparently years after) having a completely “unrealistic” view of their kids education. It is impossible to advocate for your kids and avail them of every resource available to them at our schools if you in a fog about how and what they are really doing.

EDITOR’S NOTE:So are you saying that in order for a parent to get a good education for his/her kid, he/she has to “be a general pain in the ass with teachers, admin and counselors” and “work like hell with [the kids] at home”? Gee, that’s what we’d expect from parents of students in inner city schools, not good, high-priced Park Ridge schools.

Anon 7:25am…..must be a real joy as a kid in your home…….lol.

What I mean is that in past discussions on this blog related to D64 test performance it has been pointed out (at times) that these same students go on to MS and MS test scores are much higher. Your answer has always been to point to private schools as the reason. Anything to deflect away from any kind of credit or connection to D64 and also from the uncertainty of the tests.

Now that MS scores are dropping, of course, you suddenly see the connection with D64. It becomes crystal clear. Coincidence?

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we said in response to a previous post, Maine South’s 26th place ranking among Chicagoland high schools, far higher than any of its D-64 feeder schools, would appear to mean that Maine South does a great job of making up for the mediocrity D-64 sends it, and/or parochial kids help Maine South raise its ranking.

Good teachers are like good professionals of any kind. If they genuinely love and are inspired by both their subject matter and their customers (i.e. the kids they teach), they’ll be those rare treasures a kid never forgets. Unfortunately, there’s still a big vestige of “well, you can always teach” folks on the payroll, and given the comparatively lousy state of pay and benefits in most jobs for most people who are not uber-percenters, we are unlikely to see mediocre folks quitting their public school teaching jobs any time soon. I started attending D64 when the dinos roamed the earth and, then as now, great teachers who worked hard with all the kids and inspired their students were about one in 10. Standards in general since then have gone down a bit; in my day, 94% was an A and now 90% is. But great teachers and committed parents are still turning out kids who love to learn. Some will be zillionaires; most will just be part of the overall solution. But all will add value because their teachers and parents did.
We need to stop thinking advanced degrees and seniority have anything to do with good teaching, however. Research, including some espoused by D207s current management, shows these are used only because they are easy to verify. Test results are a better index, as you point out; but so are other kinds of contributions to society. Great teachers help kids live up to their potential, whatever that is. The challenge is to quantify that.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “The challenge…to quantify that” has been met for years by things like the SAT, the ACT, AP exams, the IGAPS and the ISATs. Unfortunately, D-64’s response to year after year of mediocre ISATs has been to dismiss those tests, and badmouth the other districts who do better on such tests as “teaching to the tests.”

“So are you saying that in order for a parent to get a good education for his/her kid, he/she has to “be a general pain in the ass with teachers, admin and counselors” and “work like hell with [the kids] at home”?

What on earth would lead you to believe I said that?? Did you not follow the dialogue? I never said EVERY PARENT HAD to do those things in order to get a good education for their kid(s). I said a parent who thought there kid(s) was receiving only an average education or was not satisfied with their education should do those things. You asked me “done what about it?” and I answered.

That said, ANY parent needs to have a dialogue and a relationship with the schools and counselors at their kids school. They need to work with their kids on studies at home.

Put another way, they have to be involved enough to be able to really know whether their kid is getting an average or good education…..not have it suddenly dawn on them years after their kids have left the school.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the past 10-20 years, “dialogue” and “relationships” have become almost an obsession with D-64, as has the shifting of responsibility to parents to “work with their kids on studies at home.” And look what’s happened to the objectively-measurable performance of D-64 students AND Maine South?

Just out of curiosity, wonder what scores the teachers would get on those same ISATs that the students take. Might be interesting.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We would assume a math teacher could do very well on the math portion of the ISAT. If not, he/she shouldn’t be teaching. But as to other portions of the ISATs, we’re not sure what it would prove.

I put my kids through Catholic schools, so I have no firsthand experience with District 64 schools. But as a taxpayer who understands that school quality is a major contributor to our property values I would like to know if this new superintendent is committed to raising the test scores by which our district is measured by prospective home purchasers. And I haven’t heard that yet.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We haven’t heard that yet, either – from the new supt. or from the Board.

5:44 makes a good point. For those of us whose kids already have gone through the system or went through another system (parochial or private) and are just taxpayers looking for value for our tsxes, a continuing decline in rankings of both the District 64 schools and Maine South is a real problem that nobody on the school board seems to want to address other than by whistling past the graveyard. That’s disappointing, especially from members like Borrelli and Paterno who we voted for in large part based on their endorsement by PW.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re flattered that you relied “in large part” on our endorsement of candidates. But your disappointment with some of the conduct by people whom we endorsed demonstrates the uncertainty of the process even here in our relatively small, relatively homogenous, ralatively educated and affluent community.

This is a very interesting conversation about who is responsible for a child’s education. It does seem strange that one of the commenters has just realized after many years that, yes, perhaps the education provided by D64 was merely average.

The best response was from Anon at 7:25 a.m. yesterday, who suggested that parents get involved. I am stunned that the publisher’s response was dismissive, implying that only parents who send their children to substandard schools need to get involved. And the next commenter, at 9:07 a.m., was childish to imply that parental involvement was, well, “LOL” funny.

Some Illinois state legislator a couple of years ago said that “children’s education is the responsibility of the state.” I could not disagree more. Children’s education is the responsibility of the parents. For better or for worse, the parents hire the school district to teach the children, but at the end of the day (literally) parents must check in to see how that’s working out.

Test scores are one measure of this progress, and we should demand improvement rather than just fiddle around with the budget or “protest” by refusing to pay user fees. If we’re hiring the school district, especially at the cost of ever-increasing property tax bills, we should expect good job performance.

But parenting is our job. And ensuring our children’s education is part of that job.

Anon. 7:25 a.m.? Keep up the good work.

Mr. Publisher? Keep holding the school district accountable.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We did not intend to imply “that only parents who send their children to substandard schools need to get involved.” To the contrary, we believe that ALL parents AND ALL TAXPAYERS should be “involved” in demanding a top-flight education for ALL kids, even the kids of parents who AREN’T as “involved” as they should be.

But when we talk about being “involved,” we don’t mean just in their own kid’s education, or by providing supplemental (or substitute) education to make up for the quality education NOT being delivered by the teachers and adminstrators who are so handsomely compensated for educating our community’s children. If THOSE parents and taxpayers held the school district accountable, we wouldn’t have to; and that would be just duckie for us.

Frankly, we don’t enjoy writing these kinds of posts because 95% of the parents and 99% of the taxpayers wouldn’t think of going to a D-64 Board meeting to demand better obtectively-measurable performance by the students and better value for their tax dollars. But what we enjoy even less are those “freeloader” parents who impersonate mushrooms (content to let D-64 keep them in the dark and covered with manure) while their kids get $13,000/year taxpayer-funded educations, only to spring into action the moment they’re asked to pay a few hundred dollars more for lunchtime or after-school babysitting, or for student fees.

But as we’ve previously observed: give a mouse a cookie and he’ll want a glass of milk. On the taxpayers, of course.

Speaking of parental involvement, one thing I’ve noticed is that many parents in general here in PR seem pretty hands off regarding the schools, seemingly assuming that everything’s just fine. We moved here several years ago from an elementary school that was much higher scoring than any of D64’s and the main difference I’ve noticed is not regarding the quality of the teachers or the resources (both of which we have been extremely happy with) but that parents are not nearly as inquisitive about exactly what’s happening in school from a curriculum perspective. Many parents that I’ve chatted with on the playground or at school events have seemed downright clueless and/or complacent.

It’s a tricky balance, I think. High quality often comes with a high price for the kids — unrelenting stress and pressure to achieve at the highest levels can take its toll on kids and rob them of their childhoods, which is one of the reasons why I wasn’t devastated to leave our old school behind. Test prep on weekends, for example, was really pushing things.

I don’t think we have that problem here in PR (clearly), and I’m fine with that. But a bit more emphasis on achievement in something other than sports would be nice. And that really does have to come from the parents because the teachers and the schools are already trying to do that day in and day out — they can only do so much when their pleas seem to be met largely with indifference.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since we don’t know from what school system you came, it’s hard for us to address your arguments with comparative data. But we must take issue with your contention that “achievement…really does have to come from the parents because the teachers and the schools are already trying to do that day in and day out — they can only do so much when their pleas seem to be met largely with indifference.”

Parents SHOULD be responsible for turning off the t.v., video games, etc. and making sure their kids do the homework, study, etc. But the idea that a parent has to sit down with his/her kid and attempt to teach him/her things that haven’t been taught during the school day doesn’t cut it – anymore than a parent having to sit down and answer their kid’s medical or legal questions because the doctor or lawyer didn’t explain things adequately doesn’t cut it.

If teachers want to be considered “professionals,” are they willing to take on the obligations of professionals, such as solving problems like figuring out how each kid learns and then teaching in a way that addresses their various learning styles? And while we’re at it, are they willing to jettison the teachers’ unions, collective bargaining, across-the-board raises, guaranteed defined benefit pensions and all those other things that “professionals” like doctors, lawyers, et al. don’t get – and replace them with the legal liability for malpractice which true “professionals” have to face?

“But the idea that a parent has to sit down with his/her kid and attempt to teach him/her things that haven’t been taught during the school day doesn’t cut it”

That’s not what I meant at all, and resorting to that has not been necessary at all for us in D64. What I meant was that parents could do a better job of emphasizing that success in school is more important than, say, success on the football or soccer field. Maybe encourage them to pursue more scholarly extracurriculars, for example I noticed D64 schools don’t have competitive chess teams like many schools — many of the high scoring ones, in fact — do. Maybe check in with teachers to see if there are activities families can do to supplement what’s being taught in the classroom.

I’m not saying no one does these things, but as I said I think too many people rely solely on the school to do the hard work of teaching, even the parenting sometimes, when in fact there are other factors in life that families can embrace that can influence a child’s success in school.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Parents and taxpayers SHOULD be able to “rely solely on the school to do the hard work of teaching” – at least in most instances – because THAT’S why people send their kids to schools rather than home-school them, and why D-64 teachers and adminstrators are compensated so handsomely for 8-9 months of work.

Conversely, nobody at D-64 should provide “parenting” or accept such responsibility.

Don’t you think there is a reason why public schools even in relatively stable and affluent areas fall short?

It’s because there is no formula for success in a Public School model. It’s one that is set-up around the workers and not the consumers.

Until there is a market based system, there will NEVER be accountability or satisfaction with schools. What’s our recourse for unsatisfactory schools?

To move or go to parochial schools.

When a Restaurant sucks, they can fire the chef, wait staff or simply they go out of business. Here, a head chef quits (supt.) and they hire someone who never has been a head chef and pay her the same as if she had been. I have no idea why, and we probably will never know the real reason why school districts always seem to pay over market value, or why they don’t pay with incentives.

It’s just not a model that will ever work without a clear choice for consumers. Unfortunately, we pay for prime steaks and we get USDA certified ground chuck.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “What’s our recourse for unsatisfactory schools?”

If you’re a parent, you can start by organizing similar-thinking parents and non-parent taxpayers to show up at D-64 Board meetings and demand better education AND better test scores, or lower taxes, or both. Let Board members know that they aren’t doing THEIR jobs of representing parents, children and taxpayers when they conduct business as usual year after year. And if you don’t get satisfactory responses from the folks sitting in the big seats, run candidates for the school board whom you can trust to actually do something more than make empty promises, scratch the teachers’ and administrators’ backs, or rearrange deck chairs.

If you believe you are paying prime beef prices for ground chuck, then stop accepting ground chuck – and the butchers’ thumbs on the scale.

“But the idea that a parent has to sit down with his/her kid and attempt to teach him/her things that haven’t been taught during the school day doesn’t cut it.”

Who on this thread said this?? Who said anything like this or close to this??

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anonymous at 1:06 (“achievement…really does have to come from the parents because the teachers and the schools are already trying to do that day in and day out…”) and 2:41 p.m. (“too many people rely solely on the school to do the hard work of teaching”), for starters; and anonymous on 02/09 @ 11:07 am. (parents “need to work with their kids on studies at home.”)

Anon 1:06 pm, thanks for the comment. I can add that when I went to a school board meeting last year to ask about the annual budget process — two key votes on the subject scheduled for that evening — I was the ONLY resident the least bit curious.

Yet, there were dozens of parents there to complain about some change to the after school program — and the complaints appeared to be legitimate — but only because of the logistical hassles it would create. One parent, saying she was a Ph.D., complained that the after-school program did not include people who could help her child with homework, because the child was too tired to do homework with the parent later, after dinner.

Or was it the parent who was too tired?

EDITOR’S NOTE: And we’d be willing to bet that the Ph.D wasn’t offering to pay a premium over and above the babysitting rate in order to get that extra help with homework.

“Parents and taxpayers SHOULD be able to “rely solely on the school to do the hard work of teaching”

Really?? You are serious?? What planet are you from?? This is D64, not Stanford. This is K through 5th grade. Your parents never read to you or had you read to them? They never sounded out words with you? They never quizzed you on spelling words? They never did flash cards with you?? They never quizzed your on social studies questions for a test or discussed history with you?? These are the things people on this thread are talking about……not teaching them brand new subjects never covered by a teacher. Do you think a 1st or 2nd grader picks up math with out repetition or coaching at home??

This who topic started when I called a poster on having thought that his kids were getting a good education (for 13 years of them being in school) and suddenly realizing it was only average. Do you think not even being close enough to the situation to know if it is good or average when it is occurring right under your nose is OK???

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t consider parents reading to their kids (before the kids can read to themselves) or quizzing their kids on spelling words, or doing flash cards, etc. as being “the hard work of teaching.” And if a 1st or 2nd grader NEEDS “coaching at home” to pick up addition, subtraction, etc., is there EVER a point at which it can be said that the SCHOOLS – rather than the parents – are failing the kids and the taxpayers?

Anonymous at 1:06 (“achievement…really does have to come from the parents because the teachers and the schools are already trying to do that day in and day out…”)

You’re taking my words out of context. I said parents need to reinforce the culture of high achievement that the schools and teachers promote.

Encourage excellence, support a culture of academic achievement that doesn’t seem to exist outside of school. I said nothing about filling in gaps or supplementing with work at home, because I don’t think the schools and teachers are the problem.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Based on objective test results – which are the only objective measures of which we are aware – there doesn’t appear to be “excellence” or a “culture of academic achievement” INSIDE the D-64 schools.

If the schools and teachers aren’t “the problem,” then by default the problem has to be the children and the parents. But if that’s the case, why do we keep paying more and more for teachers when they can’t seem to overcome parental indifference and/or stupid/unmotivated children?

Not one of those quotes you provided say that a parent has to “teach him/her things that haven’t been taught during the school day”.

You find the comment “parents need t work with their kids on studies at home” to some how be offensive?? Some kind of a plot by D64?? Are you saying that the parents of, let’s say the 2nd grade classes at D64, should not have to work with kids on studies at home?? Are you kidding me??

EDITOR’S NOTE: We wish we were “kidding” you, but we’re serious as a heart attack. But since you see a “need” for parents to work with their kids at home, riddle us this: At what point does the teacher’s responsibility for teaching the child end and the parent assumes full responsibility for the difference between educational success and failure of his/her child?

6:09, I’m with you, shaking my head. PWD is arguing that parents should not lift a finger to help their kids succeed at school. Must have been fun to be his kid(s) growing up, unless they never, ever struggled with a single assignment or concept.

By that same token, parents of Little Leaguers should never toss a ball with their kid in the yard, since Coach is responsible for teaching that. And heaven forbid a child in the process of learning to swim ask mom or dad to join him or her in the pool. It’s apparently sink or swim in PWD’s universe.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We never said parents “should not lift a finger,” but how bad does a teacher have to be before he/she – and not the parents – are blamed for student underperformance/failure? Anybody. Bueller?

Are you comparing unpaid, volunteer coaches to highly-paid, highly-benefited teachers and administrators? Seriously?

Sorry, but there is no magic line where one ends and another begins. I never once in this entire dialogue have used this topic to defend 64 or teachers in general. I was (and remain) amazed that a person could have kids in D64 schools for 13 years all the while thinking they were getting a good education and suddenly, after the fact, decide it was only average. I am not saying that teachers get a pass but to be in such a daze for 13 years where you did not even clearly know the quality of the education you kids receiving is just absurd (although it seems to be ok with you).

The only thing nuttier is that you seriously think (serious as a heart attack) that 2nd grade parents should not have to work with their kids on studies at home. I mean I know many folks think that teachers are overpaid and others question the quality of a teacher or teachers. I know that many want serious reforms but I cannot think of anyone who believes what you stated.

Do you think that parents at private schools do not work with their second graders.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t know and don’t care whether parents of kids in private/parochial schools work with their second graders – if for no other reasons than: (a) because the teachers at SPC, MSW, etc. aren’t being overpaid from the public trough; and (b) if the parents didn’t think they were getting value for the tuition they were paying, they could simply move their kids to D-64.

Okay, so if there’s “no magic line,” is there ANY “line”? Because without some kind of recognizable “line” teachers and administrators will continue to shift the responsibility for underperforming kids to the parents for not doing enough at home – which seems to be working, given D-64’s recent history of student underachievement while salaries and benefits continue to climb; and teachers, administrators and school board members remain unaccountable.

Have you ever considered a position with the PREA or the IEA?

7:02:

Ya see this working with your 2nd graders on studies is this brand new plot cooked up by D64. Parents at SPC and MSW do not have to work with their 2nd graders. None of our parents worked with us when we were 2nd graders. Nuts!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Actually, it could just as easily be a “plot” to make the parents of kids doing “well” at D-64 (once you ignore the ISAT scores) pat themselves on the back for all the fine teaching they are doing at home, while at the same time making the parents of underperforming kids feel like failures who should blame themselves rather than the teachers and administrators for their kids’ underperformance.

And from the comments to this post – and years of underperformance that may now even be undermining Maine South’s ranking – it’s working like a charm.

Ah, I get it. First you want to give the schools all the credit for producing “mediocre results.” Now you want to give parents all the credit if somehow a child manages to rise above the mediocrity that is D64. Your utter disdain for D64 teachers is breathtaking.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, you don’t “get it.” It’s not “utter disdain” to want teachers and administrators held accountable for competently doing the jobs for which they are so handsomely compensated by the District’s taxpayers. We realize that may sound like a radical concept to you and your fellow apologists for the mediocrity that seems to have become institutionalized at D-64 and is now trickling up to Maine South, but that’s the way we roll.

But if you want to get more smoke blown up your kilt, you can go to the D-64 website and wallow in all the seashells and balloons there.

You hit the nail on the head, Dog. Accountability doesn’t exist at D-64 (or D-207, either).

Years ago I asked a D-64 board member how many teachers D-64 lost to another district at the hiring stage, or after being employed by D-64, and she couldn’t tell me. So she said she would look into it. After a month I called her and she said she’d follow up on it. Two weeks later I called her again and she said D-64 didn’t keep such records. When I asked her if she knew of even one teacher who left D-64 to go teach at another district, she said “no.”

From that I conclude that D-64 is among the sweetest teaching deals going, and lack of accountability seems to be one of the reasons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We can’t disagree.

I am all for accountability but what is amazing to me is that somehow you seem to think that a parent working with their child at home (like a second grader) on studies, something that I would state with confidence is done, and has been done by the vast majority of families of kids who have gone to have successful careers, is somehow anti accountability. You seem to be stating that for me to even acknowledge that as a parent I have ANY responsibilities for participating in my kids education (other than telling them to turn off the TV and do their homework) is giving D64 a pass. In your mind the person at the beginning of this thread who was sleep walking through 13 years of their kids at D64 thinking they were getting a good education was doing what we all should do. That way our kids will all be on an even playing field and we can judge teacher performance on pure data.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Now YOU’RE talking nonsense.

Working with one’s kid on ANYTHING worthwhile – math, reading, drawing, soccer, wood-carving, chess – is always a good thing. We’ve never said otherwise. What we object to is the idea that such work is NEEDED to supplement the teaching process; i.e., an excuse for teachers and administrators not doing their jobs.

Our kids will never all “be on an even playing field” based on what will always be very diverse assistance that different parents will provide to their kids. So your premise is erroneous, delusional, or intentionally dishonest.

I think what 6:56 am is saying is that until all parents give their kids all the out-of-class attention they need, there won’t be a “level playing field” and we won’t be able to hold teachers and administrators accountable. So you are right, PW, 6:56 am was being “intentionally dishonest.”

What the commenters are saying above reinforces the point that the taxpayers (and therefore children) are getting hosed. So, these teachers are average? Why are we paying them like they are miracle workers?

I’m sure this new Supt. will be fine with the $100k+ benefit Art Teacher, Music Teacher or Gym teacher, right?

There is plenty of money per child in this district (14k/child right?) that is spent. Couldn’t we pull from these magical artists teaching finger painting, or wondrous gym teachers teaching duck duck goose, and fortify our core with extra teachers or smaller class sizes?

Or, crap, take the money back to the taxpayers if not!

Of course parents should support their children at home, but the 5th grader should leave school with working knowledge to be able to do their homework most of the time. Sure, they may need help in a subject, but that should be a rarity in most cases.

But, parent drones keep supporting 3rd grade art teachers making over 100k for a 9 month job with benefits. Is this Supt. going to support re-allocating resources and fundamentally changing the structure of D64 education? Of course not. She’ll appease parents, maintain the status quo and enjoy the salary with benefits that is 3 X that of the average household in Park Ridge.

PD and 8:43:

I was not erroneous or intentionally dishonest. I was an exaggeration. It was an intentionally silly statement in an attempt to demonstrate how silly your whole line of thought is. You keep asking where the line is as if there is some perfect answer or way to judge……as if we can ever judge on pure data. Od course that is never going to happen.

By the way, I have never said it should be used as an excuse for teachers not doing there job.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nobody ever says parent assistance “should be used as an excuse for teachers not doing their job” – because that’s so absurd that even anonymous commentators like yourself dare not say it.

We’re not asking for “some perfect answer,” just A reasonable way to hold teachers and administrators accountable for doing their jobs in a way that actually improves education and measurable student performance rather than erodes it.

This conversation has become hard to follow because everyone calls themselves “anonymous” and we are arguing two-and-a-half issues at once. This is just my own attempt to sort it out.

The main issue seems to be school performance. I think we all agree, actually, that for the superior prices we pay there should be superior performance.

Thus the first issue: What do we mean by “performance”? Test scores achieved by the students? Competency from teachers teaching to the test? Both? Students raised with an ability to think critically?

Then, who is responsible for “performance” — who is responsible for the results? The publisher (rightly) demands that we get a first-rate effort from teachers in exchange for the ample property tax revenue we all send in twice a year.

A discussion broke out around the role of parents in their children’s education. Hopefully everyone here agrees that parents should be involved in their children’s education, whether it be reading to them at night, helping with their homework, etc. To clarify, a child’s education is their parents’ responsibility — not the state’s responsibility.

The state’s responsibility — in this discussion, D64’s responsibility — is to provide a first-rate effort from teachers. If they indeed provide this first-rate effort, parents should still be involved because, well, it’s their child.

If D64 doesn’t provide that first-rate effort, then the parents’ responsibility extends to demanding why not.

By the way, kudos to a UK schoolmaster who noticed the influence on his students of the video game Grand Theft Auto, and made sure the parents were aware of it:

http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/11001937.Warning_after_Valleys_pupils_as_young_as_six_act_out_rape_scenes_from_Grand_Theft_Auto/?ref=var_0

EDITOR’S NOTE: Well said, Mr. Schildwachter. Our only point of clarification would be that IF the schools do their teaching job commensurate with the money they are getting from the taxpayers, whatever parents might choose to do would be more in the nature of unnecessary-but-beneficial enrichment rather than necessary remediation.

Thank you, Mr. Trizna. My only point of clarification is that it’s up to the *parent* to decide how well their child should be educated, equal to or greater than what D64 provides, whether they choose to call it “enrichment”, “remediation” or just “a complete education”.

Mr. Schildwachter,

I’m not sure that a first-rate effort from the teachers is the primary thing that we need to get excellent education. Example – I can give a first-rate effort for years and still won’t win a medal in Sochi because my talents and skills do not allow me to compete with those athletes. The same is true in educating our kids. I believe that we need first-rate teachers giving a first-rate effort to give our kids a first-rate education. A first-rate teacher giving mediocre effort may be more effective than a second-rate teacher giving first-rate effort. So here’s my question: Why do we not rate the teachers and remove those who are incompetent or merely adequate? With superior salaries we should be able to get superior teachers. Therein lies my objection to public sector unions and the protection that they provide to sub-standard employees.

I have seen a lot of superior teachers when my kids attended D64 but I have also seen some incompetent teachers, complained about them to the administration, gave specific examples of their incompetence, and was told by the administration that everything was fine. Meanwhile, one of my kids lost a complete year of education because his teacher was so bad. Another of my kids had a science teacher who did not understand the concepts and was teaching scientific principles incorrectly. My son had to knowingly provide incorrect answers on the test to get a good grade even after I had a discussion with the teacher. (My undergrad degree is in Chemical Engineering, so after a short discussion, I’m confident that the teacher did not understand elementary school science.) I don’t care if these teachers are giving a first-rate effort if they don’t understand the material.

Please don’t anyone flame me for being anti-teacher. I am exactly the opposite. I believe that we should select teachers carefully and then pay them very well for this important job. I also believe that the profession is too important to allow the union to protect incompetent teachers who damage our kids’ education. Great teachers should be rewarded handsomely and poor teachers should be terminated. A teacher who can’t show that he/she has mastered elementary school science should not be allowed to teach it regardless of the amount of effort that person is giving.

EDITOR’S NOTE: THAT’s why we focus on standardized test scores, which are objective measures that don’t require us to figure out how many angels are dancing on the heads of a dozen or more different pins.

And why we are dissatisfied with mediocre performance on those tests when our teachers and administrators already are so highly compensated.

Dear Anonymous at 10:27 a.m.

Actually, I totally agree with you. Rating teachers is a sound idea. For some reason it never seems to go anywhere.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s because the PREA – a/k/a, the teachers union – opposes teacher ratings other than (as we recall from several years ago) some form of I’m-OK-you’re-OK “peer review.” Or “objective” measure by hours toward advanced degrees, hence the “lane” pay increases built into the contracts.



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