Category Archives: Public schools

At Julian Oct. 9, Part One — Superintendent, citizens with questions, four lawmakers

At Julian middle school on Oct. 9, the district superintendent greeted the assembled “citizenry,” come for “tonight’s festivities,” which was putting too fine a glow to it in my book. But this was nothing compared to his effusive welcome “to our legislators,” two state senators and two state representatives, who had come to be grilled, more or less, by three schools-connected ladies, probably each a mother of a district student.

There’s “gridlock in Washington,” he noted, as if to contrast distant Washington with less-distant Springfield, where legislators have been locked in combat about pension reform for many months and only recently received their pay checks after the court ruled the governor out of order for punishing them for being locked in combat for so long.

Additionally, the citizenry had not materialized as expected, to judge by the empty chairs filling half the space in a small meeting room, for a total of 40 or so citizens seated, including two village board members and presumably the school board also. Indeed, on entering this room — from the mall-like entry way to the school — one felt it was like church, with all seated as far back as they could. What’s more, the entire front two rows were reserved and so marked — for whom it was never clear, because they remained unoccupied throughout the 90-minute meeting.

Undaunted, the superintendent proceeded with the proceedings, reading a lengthy “strategic plan” statement, head down, standing at a lectern to the far left of two tables, one for the school mothers, another for the senators and representatives. He did so, he said, so that the senators etc. would know “where our board is coming from.”

This statement included such staples of education-boosters as “challenge” and “risk-takers.”

Having read it, he then read his welcome message, including several paragraphs on “why we are here” and congratulating the organizers of “this forum” of citizen (mother)-questioners and the four legislators on hand. It “took a lot of work,” he said. “It took a year,” spent presumably in prepping the questioners, formulating questions, and (probably most time-consuming) in scheduling the all-star cast of senators and representatives.

He introduced these one by one, asking and getting “a hand” for them, and did the same for the three CLAIM members (Committee for Legislative Action, Intervention and Monitoring) who would do the questioning, and we were off to the races. Let the questioning begin, the superintendent might have said.

– more more more to come of this Oct. 9 Julian middle school gathering of eagles –



Common Core is coming. What is it?

Oak Park District 97 parents, others hear about Common Core standards – Oak Leaves.

First, less remediation:

First, we want to see less remediation happening,” [consultant] said, referring to students who end up having to take remedial courses after high school graduation.

More nonfiction:

Lisa Schwartz, director of teaching and learning for District 97, said educators are talking about changes like having students read more nonfiction, and incorporating reading that ties into other subjects, Schwartz said.

What’s not to like in these samples, as good as any offered in the article? There’s much, much more to the program, of course.

via Oak Park District 97 parents, others hear about Common Core standards – Oak Leaves.

Meanwhile, Common Core State Standards are under attack for a # of reasons, including their potential for federal (vs. state and local) control. Read about it here if you wish.

OP schools alert: state subsidies too much, says Chi Trib article

OP district 97 over-subsidized, says front-pager in lede to story [subscription only] about how tax caps lead to special help, leaving district’s first-responders with lotsa work to do.

Oak Park’s pricey homes, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and array of shops and restaurants generate billions in property wealth, funneling a bounty of tax dollars to its elementary school district.

That kind of local affluence usually means fewer dollars from the state to help cover school bills. But Oak Park Elementary School District 97 also receives millions through a little-known state subsidy aimed at fattening its budget.

OP not the only such district:

Oak Park was among those on the receiving end as Illinois quietly doled out some $6 billion since 2000 to boost state aid for select school districts — many in the Chicago region — that couldn’t get more money from property owners because of laws that limit tax collections, the Tribune has learned.

Rolled into the usual state aid sent to districts, the subsidies are all but hidden and have been skyrocketing, starting at $46 million and increasing more than 1,000 percent in the years since lawmakers approved them, state data show. At its peak in 2008, the program cost taxpayers $805 million, with the majority of school districts not getting a penny.

“It is ridiculous,” said State Superintendent Christopher Koch. “We can’t afford it; it doesn’t make sense, and it’s not fair to everyone else.”

How much does OP get and what does losing it mean?

Oak Park 97 got the fifth-highest subsidy in the state this year — calculated at $7 million.

“That $7 million is a huge percentage of our budget,” said Robert Spatz, vice president of the school board, which oversees a budget of nearly $70 million. “Seven million is 100 staff members.”

Without the subsidy, Oak Park’s basic state aid would have been $1.8 million instead of nearly $9 million.

Hello, Dem committeeman, influential state Senator Don Harmon. Hello, Springfield.

In Oak Park, as anywhere else, what farts around comes around

I love the comments engendered by almost any Wed. Journal story of weight.  These from one about two new middle-school principals strengthen my feelings:

TJ from OP:

Too much money for these guys. I could get the same “talent” for much less.

Wondering asked:

Why are these two new guys making more than just about all the other principals in the district?

To which Sheesh, pointedly:

Why does the guy down the hall make more than me? Maybe because he’s working and I am farting around here.

[Sarcastically, with reason:] These overpaid admininstrators, we need to low ball them, after all, its only our kids that they are responsble for. Let’s get some nannnies or someone we can get for $30K.

There were other defenses of the salaries.  But there’s something about pithy, right? 

Note also, these are one-year contracts.