Sunday, June 11, 2006

June 8th IL District 214 School Board Meeting

Five adult citizens eloquently and boldly addressed the District 214 school board on Thursday evening in support of Leslie Pinney's concerns.

  • A Father of 5 from Elk Grove Village - Attended May 25 meeting and observed "a well organized filibuster" by students rather than a debate among adult taxpayers. Concluded that the resulting decision is "grievous": Graphic materials were sanctioned as appropriate. Regrets his own lack of attention to the rapidly changing culture in our public schools and fears what has made its way into homes and schools.
  • A Father from Itasca - The decision was a "travesty." Implored that schools not try to open kids' minds with bestiality and torture.
  • A Mother and Teacher from Arlington Heights - Attended the meeting but received a number in the 300's and was unable to participate because students dominated the microphone. Manipulation of students was shameless, with one student stating that his teacher offered extra credit to students for showing up. Referenced Mimi Cooper who was quoted as saying that these books were necessary to prepare students for life, but the speaker rebuffed that idea and said "I do not encounter this" in my adult life. The materials are "not honorable nor uplifting." We pay the salaries of teachers and the board is elected to represent our will.
  • A Father from Arlington Heights - Requested a copy of the opt-out policy. Wallflower is written at a 4th grade reading level, Fallen Angels at 4th grade, others at 6th grade. Asked for a written response from Dr Schuler as to why teachers are selecting books that are not challenging to college bound students.
  • A Mother from Mt Prospect - Was at May 25 meeting until the end. The idea that "we must trust our teachers" contradicts "critical thinking." Asked for a copy of the criteria by which the books were selected. Noted that students were coached, recalling that one student said that a teacher spent 90 min of class time advocating for the books. This woman's son came home from such a discussion uncharacteristically upset with his parents because his teacher told him that his parents don't trust him and are trying to control his life.

A reporter apparently told the parents that it was her understanding that some of the salacious books are used to entice poorer performers to read. (Contrast this with the argument made on May 25 that the books are necessary preparation for AP and ACT tests...inconsistent.)

Other board members gave reports on what events and ceremonies they attended and joked about whether their gowns were pressed for them. Leslie Pinney spoke of attending a ceremony, saying that graduation is the most gratifying aspect of school board service.

Leslie went on to share her reflections on the previous meeting…

She urged teachers and administrators to adhere to the controversial issues policy which requires teachers to consider whether less controversial materials could still achieve the class objectives.

She highlighted the problems with the opt-out program which were cited by parents, students, and recent graduates and suggested that parents be included in developing a new policy which would ensure that families are able to opt out without embarrassment, discrimination, punitive assignments, etc. She asked that the new policy be ready for implementation at the beginning of the new school year.

Leslie expressed genuine appreciation and enjoyment of each one of her colleagues and their unique perspectives, saying she believes all want what is best for students and families, but added that she continues to be troubled that her colleagues believe these books have literary value so high as to supersede the controversy they cause.

When Leslie concluded her statement, Bill Dussling appeared visibly angry and said, "I don't know if that was a board report or a condemnation of our service..." and went on to say that he didn't know how to take it, that criticism of his fellow board members upsets him. "That's my reaction."