Wednesday, January 27, 2010

District 150 has their eye on a particular candidate


District 150 is prepared to announce that Dr. Grenita Lathan is their preferred candidate for the position of Peoria Public Schools Superintendent. Although no official appointment will be made until all due diligence is completed, she will be coming to Peoria soon for an official introduction.

Dr. Lathan is currently the Interim Deputy Superintendent for the San Diego Unified School District.

In 2007, a staff member at Guilford County Schools, in North Carolina, where Dr. Lathan was a Principal at the time described Dr. Lathan as follows: An individual who leads with,”…vigor and compassion, strength and courage, humility and respect – beckoning all the while for all of us to come alongside and share in the grand adventure of educating children and shaping the future”.

Yeah, we are gonna need ALL of that for District 150. Bring it Dr. Lathan.
Tough Test Beginning for Magnet Programs - if she can bring a Montessori Program to District 150 - we just might be on to something...


31 comments:

Emerge Peoria said...

Unfortunately the criticism of Dr. Lathan has already started over on Peoria Chronicle.

Can the bitter teachers and their supporters fall back just for a minute and consider that something just might be a positive. Damn.

Frankly, I think Dr. Lathan is out of her mind to leave San Diego to come to this hateful little cold a** town.

If she happens to decide to stay here. I wish her all the luck in the world with the locals - your best will never be enough.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully she will get a chance to have a private conversation with the new city manager.

JC Friberg said...

Dr. Lathan's listed as the "interim deputy superintendent" for San Diego Schools and before that "chief elementary school improvement officer," so she does have administrative experience above the level of principal.

The SD school district is a HUGE one...very diverse, very similar to Peoria's in many respects, if not size. It will be very interesting to hear her take on Peoria and listen to her plans for the district.

I'm just as shocked as you are, Emerge, that folks are already rabble-rousing. Could we wait to hear from Dr. Lathan first? I like her approach to changing behavior/academic achievement at her former school in NC:

http://www.digtriad.com/news/local_state/article.aspx?storyid=89375


As for your last line...I agree. I hope that Dr. Lathan has or develops a thick skin. She'll be the subject of much criticism and critique before she ever sets foot into her office at 3202 N. Wisconsin!

Anonymous said...

Would you even bother to write an article about a new D150 superintendent if the new person weren't an AF-AM? Just curious. I'm sure you would have your own fair share of criticism if that were the case, wouldn't you. Why is it that you feel free to "dish it out" but scream racism when someone says ONE thing about someone of your color?

Anonymous said...

I hope she starts by getting rid of the horrible group of racist teachers that are trying to run Trewyn.

Middle Aged Woman Blogging said...

Why anyone would want to leave San Diego to come live in this God forsaken weather is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Because Terry Grier took her with him from North Carolina then flew the coop the minute he could get out (he went to Houston), now she wants out.....the district is 69 million in the hole. Oh, she was not considered for the permanent supertendency.....why not?
PS: the teachers at Trewyn are not racist, if they were, they certainly would not have spent 25 years down there. Didn't anyone teach you to THINK before speaking. That is typical, and pathetic.

Sharon Crews said...

Emerge, at least, the other time we had the opportunity to draw our conclusions first. We all knew who the three finalists were--and many of us favored Dr. Royster. Therefore, we didn't complain until things started to go wrong. In fact, that time we had already Googled her name and saw all the red flags, but we ignored them, also. I know I gave Royster more than the benefit of the doubt (I don't recall having any doubts)--I was excited about everything she said. The elementary experience is what bothers me the most. Sorry but I see a correlation between Kherat and Lathan on that score (in fact, I believe Kherat was in the running, too). Kherat was so good at the primary level but is now in over her head. I hope you understand that experience has to count heavily in choosing a superintendent. One year here and one year there reminds all of us too much of Royster. You know "fool me once, etc). In fact, it is probably to Lathan's advantage to be forewarned of the cynicism that awaits her. We're just hearing too many things that remind us of the past. I think it will be great if we all have to eat our words--I'll be happy to do so. I'm even trying to adjust my attitude right now--to wait to hear something directly from Dr. Lathan. Once again the board handled things improperly--they should not have played this one so close to the vest--they didn't do this young lady any favors but springing it on us after the final decision is all but made. I know we don't have a say--but better communication might have helped.

Anonymous said...

Sharon: better communication? transparency? Please! this board does what it wants regardles of what their constituents want. Remember this whenever they come up for re=election...
They are all following the Pied Piper.......why?

Frustrated said...

Looks like a beautiful, intelligent woman to me. I think we should give her a chance.

jim stowell said...

Sharon - Please ask the Community Advisory Board members about the process they went through and whose input was sought. They brought us three outstanding finalists. It was very inclusive, but then you were among the first on these blogs to announce your skepticism and wouldn't be happy regardless. Sad. I think it is an exciting time, a time to pull together, provide structure, discipline, expectations, and opportunities. I sat with Jeff and Heddy yesterday and talked about the need to work collaboratively to make Peoria HS a medical, math, science pathway that outshines the charter initiative. We have 2.5 years to plan for what that "learning campus" could become to the benefit of many more than the charter. While not all students will go on to a 4-year, ALL of our students should be groomed to aspire to some level of post-secondary education that prepares them for livable wage jobs. The Peoria Promise is real and needs to be supported. I ask that you withhold judgement until you meet and hear from her. We are fortunate to have brought in Ms. Schau and Mrs. Demke, who, along with Norm, will provide excellent support. Be prepared to join in as she is disciplined, focused, and big on "plans" and has demonstrated success in bringing diverse groups together to support student achievement.

Sharon Crews said...

Frustrated: Dr. Royster was an attractive, intelligent woman. Those aren't qualifications for superintendent, are they? I'm more interested in her mindset with regard to discipline problems. Is she going to resolve the problems that make schools such as Trewyn and Manual unsafe for students and for employees? The board has solved the problem of the charter school and Edison--undoubtedly both will continue to have their blessing. Now as Dr. Durflinger expressed this week--what's going to happen to the rest of the schools?
J.C.--if you're still reading. I have a AYP NCLB question. Is there a composite score that determines AYP? I find reading, math, and ISAT scores--but is there a number that indicates the composite score. I have looked at every possible number on the Illinois Report Card site--and do not find an "average" number. My guess is that calculating AYP involved more than just the average of the test scores, right (graduation rate, subgroups, etc.)? And, therefore, there is no number designation for determining "Yes" or "No" for AYP. I know that you have previously stated that the ISAT score is more important than the reading and math scores--why is that so? Are the reading and math scores two components of the ISAT, which also includes other components?

Sharon Crews said...

Jim--glad to hear from you--I ezpect I would sooner or later. Yes, I'd love to believe the hype, but remember you told me that Johns Hopkins was a new way for a new day--so I'm waiting for reality with a healthy degree of caution. I've just heard all kinds of community leaders hype a charter school--so I'm not impressed with such committees (ESPECIALLY those that do not include teachers). My only concern right now is whether or not the discipline problems at so many of our schools will be addressed--and the alternative school. I was prepared to have a more positive attitude about the new superintendent--I was taken aback by the "students should be in school, not suspended" (sounded like a mindset that we already are experiencing) and then the elementary experience. I'll try to adjust my thinking--of course, she really doesn't have to contend with me. You and I both know that I don't even pretend to have any influence on the system--just notorious. Ha! I haven't talked to Hedy or Jeff since Monday--I'll check out the ideas you discussed.
Yes, I believe Schau, Dimke, and Durflinger were good choices.

Jon said...

Umm, I think "intelligence" would be a quality I want in a superintendent :)

Sharon Crews said...

Jon, sure--but intelligence alone can even be dangerous.

jim stowell said...

Sharon - you demonstrate again why I get frustrated responding to comments - I voted against Johns Hopkins. Twice. Jon - Very intelligent.

Frustrated said...

I was just being smart Sharon. Just by looking at her -- she looks o.k. to me -- and that is about all we have to judge her on right now. I have no reason to believe at this point that she will not be a capable leader. Just give her a chance. The Board had many parties involved in the screening process to select this individual so I am hopefully they selected the person with the best qualifications from the candidates that were available to them.

Jon said...

Congratulations, Jim. From what I've read, it looks like the Board hit a home run. As a sports fan, it's like you just hired Theo Epstein - and hopefully ending a long period of misery is just around the corner :)

Sharon Crews said...

Jim, please don't rewrite history--didn't you tell me over and over again to give Johns Hopkins a chance and that it was a new way for a new day--I didn't make that up. Frustrated, it appears that we have some other information to consider--elementary experience only, moving from job to job before the results of her performance we in. I don't like prejudging her or anyone else, but we have been burned before. Also, I blame the board for the secrecy. Before Royster was chosen, there were three candidates and their identities were revealed so that Peoria could form some opinions, etc. There was no surprise. Honestly, it isn't so much about distrusting Lathan, whom I don't know--it's about not trusting this board to make a wise decision. I hope they did--but she may as well know that this community doesn't trust 150 decisions. I take that back--two groups do trust 150: the Edison and the charter school proponents--because the board has given them everything they want with no regard for the rest of 150 schools. I truly appreciated Durflinger's comments, warning 150 not to put all its eggs in those two baskets.

jim stowell said...

Sharon - FOIA the record - create more needless work for staff. Conceptually, some aspects of JH do have merit. Contractually - never approved. Truth vs perception. It is what the district will battle for a long time. And based on what I shared aboout my own personal observations and experiences @ Trewyn, what do you think to be the truth?

Anonymous said...

Well Jim, there was a fire at Trewyn yesterday, is that my perception OR the truth?

Sharon Crews said...

Emerge, please tell me why I can't consider discipline problems running rampant as a deterent to educating children? You have just proven my point--there are more kids graduating stupid than there are discipline problems. And who do you think is keeping the majority from learning--is it possible that it is the few who destroy every classroom they enter? Yes, they do harm all the other children--the District concentrates on saving the wrong group. Save them all if possible but not the few at the expense of all the others. What I do want to know, Jim, is: What questions were the candidates asked with regard to discipline. District 150 board members are the bosses--what demands will they make to turn the district around with regard to these discipline problems. New buildings and new programs do not guarantee anything. Jim, you told me about one incident (comment) regarding Trewyn. The lawyer has pages of examples. There is always truth (and fiction)on both sides--it's a matter of weighing it in the balances. Again, however, I would prefer that it were an administrator vs. teacher suit rather than a white vs black. I think the charges would still be the same--minus skin color.

Emerge Peoria said...

Sharon said:

"I take that back--two groups do trust 150: the Edison and the charter school proponents--because the board has given them everything they want with no regard for the rest of 150 schools."

For as long as I have been in Peoria (which is damn near all my life) - the "Board" has given the folks North of War Memorial everything their hearts desired at the expense of any child South of War Memorial AND that includes Edison - YES - Edison was at the expense of inner city schools.

Now, that we are on the cusp of building new schools for inner city children and exploring programs to FINALLY educate inner city children you people are beside yourself. AND I am talking to you Sharon.

With all due respect Ms. Crews - it is past time for you to step back and reevaluate what you are really fighting for. There are more children graduating STUPID than there are children with discipline problems.

Sharon also said:

"I truly appreciated Durflinger's comments, warning 150 not to put all its eggs in those two baskets."

That comment is nothing more than a politically correct platitude that Norm can put in his pocket and take back to Morton.

Getting a protege of Dr. Terry Grier in Peoria is a coup; or perhaps we should pass on this opportunity and retain Durflinger over Dr. Lathan while we parade every candidate in front of the teachers union for approval? What of Durflinger's lack of experience dealing with an urban school district of this size?

A MESSAGE FOR ANONYMOUS:

I write about District 150 all the time. And what the hell is an AF-AM?

Why, just why all the venom? You are the only thing that mentioned race/racism. What is wrong with signing in under your name on this blog - everybody else already know you from Peoria Chronicle. I don't care who you are personally, but your continued use of Anonymous just to be bitter is childish and really reflects badly on teachers. If you can do better, please try. Really, you need to stop it.

PeoriaGuy said...

"sure--but intelligence alone can even be dangerous"

This statement from a former D150 teacher kind of sums up what is wrong with the district in the first place, doesn't it?

Emerge Peoria said...

By the way - here is what I really think about that Trewyn lawsuit:

Just one more group of white teachers looking to get paid off the backs of the black children in Peoria. Real slick playing the race card you guys are so smart, you should be really really proud.

You all sit around scheming to stuff the box at the Charter School with all Trewyn students. Are Trewyn students and their families such a running joke with the teacher's union that you all consider them a gotcha on the Charter School Initiative?

Let the voices on the Peoria Chronicle tell it - everything wrong with District 150 is the parents fault - NEWSFLASH - these parents were educated in DISTRICT 150. Many of them were Ms. Crew's students as she is so quick to acknowledge.

There are tenured and new teachers in District 150 that detest parents that show up and black people AND please don't let the two be the same - they just don't know what to do.

I'm in the school, I see the treatment of children, and I am living the tricks played on black parents about where their child is placed and what grade that shows up on a report card.

Teachers in District 150 are not saints - they are not doing our children a favor by showing up everyday to fail them and look down their noses at them.

If Peoria and District 150 are so awful - why don't you all step. Go somewhere else and find a job. I'm sick of your whining. Every single school is failing and you all are fighting as hard as you can for the status quo, all the while condemning the status quo. Amazing.

You all don't trust the Administrators - ask parents if they trust the teachers. If it wasn't for Administrators, MY A++ student would be sitting in a room with a bunch of under achievers, running errands for a lazy a**, tenured teacher, in a school run by an incompetent principal who let PTO parents and their friends place their students where they want and all the other students fall where they may.

Get over yourselves - it ain't all about you! I have had it with teachers who don't know basic math or have basic social skills.

I hope to train as many black and pushed aside parents as I can to advocate for their student as vigorously as I do. Because as things currently stand (i.e., the status quo), if you don't personally hold each and every teacher personally accountable - your child will not be receiving an education in District 150.

Emerge Peoria said...

Sharon:

I can't speak for all black parents, people or women. However, I can speak to my own experiences as a graduate of District 150. Just like I have a student in school now, I am of the era of "those kids over there". I know these teachers - I see these teachers - they are still there. I can face them – I made it out. Many black parents can’t stand to step foot inside of a District 150 school because of bad memories. Ever consider that?

I took my children out of private school for more diversity. I left work to oversee their education in District 150. IT IS A FULL TIME JOB. I find that getting your child educated in District 150 is a series of mine fields and people are not throwing out answers.

Please don't act as if going to school in District 150 20-30 years ago was a wonderful experience for black children - it wasn't and what you see today is what Peoria has to show for it. Perhaps your classrooms were magical, but most were not. Black children were not learning – teachers were not teaching. Tracking by address and WAREHOUSING accordingly was RAMPANT and the NORM. Unfortunate - but true.

I remember being in a classroom one day, it was crowded and dreary, I couldn't even concentrate. The bell rang, I jumped up ran out into the hall way and at just that time, I saw the door of the classroom down the hall open. The kids were walking out laughing, clutching books and I saw the sun shine coming through the window in their room. It me hard that day. It was at that point I realized my classroom was different - THAT was high school.

Is discipline an issue? Of course discipline is an issue. It's been an issue since District 150 decided to send Irving kids to Greeley and Greeley kids to Longfellow. Oh yeah, discipline is an issue. It’s just that it’s getting closer to home now, that our City and our schools are erupting. Discipline is an issue, because the City and the school let it ride and kept a certain population in chaos while the rest of the City grew and prospered around them.

So forgive me, today I am just fed up with teachers whining and pushing the status quo. It's past time to move forward. I’m done.

Sharon Crews said...

Emerge, now I'm beginning to understand. I totally agree with your last two paragraphs, in particular. Terry Knapp says about the same thing often in BOE meetings--you are right the inner city population has been kept in chaos while the rest grew and prospered. I may not have said it well--but it's what I've tried to say with discussions between Frustrated and me--eventually what happens in the inner city will spread and then everyone will be affected. Also, I know very well that 30+ years ago that black children and their parents didn't feel welcome in schools that were newly integrated. Tracking by address--now I have to admit that I frequently made statements to the effect that Manual's enriched classes were full of West Peoria students--that enrichment seemed to be geographic. I was a critic of such obvious selectivity--but fortunately so were other faculty members who saw to it that things did change, at least, to some degree. But then I had many basic (not enriched) white students in my classes. My experience has always been on Peoria's southside--we weren't affected by integration. I chose to teach at Roosevelt (an 95% black junior high). I loved going to Manual, where students of both races were finally in classes together--I think we did it better than most schools--but there were rough spots. Teachers in some schools were teaching in all white schools one minute and then integration began. I was just discussing this issue with a friend a few days ago. She remembers the first time black children came into her classroom in the 1960s. She said she was nervous at first (because she didn't know what to expect) but that she soon found out that they were just children like all the other children she had taught before. I think that era was a period of adjustment--I had honestly hoped it was over, but that isn't what you are telling me. I don't mean to mitigate your experiences. I hope once more that the blogs can be one more way of closing the divide. My classroom wasn't magical and I didn't perform miracles that I know about--but I was happy in my classroom; therefore, I believe that most of my students were, also (I certainly hope so). I do know other 150 teachers who love their students (black and white)--I think that is one of the reasons that I have chosen them to be my friends. Anyway I have had my day of expressing misgivings about the new superintendent (maybe she's just too young and too pretty! HA!) Laura Petelle just e-mailed me to point out the board's side of things--I guess she's been following the blogs. I'm now going to do my best to anticipate good things for 150--I certainly hope this is the beginning of a new era. I can't imagine why anyone would want the job--but I hope Lathan is ready. Please don't expect a dramatic change--I will still probably want to peek under the silver lining. My main focus will probably continue to be Manual. By the way, I almost always flunk the "word verification" test at least once. This one appears to be "unfarta"--makes for an interesting nonword. Ha! I flunked again--will try again.

Emerge Peoria said...

Sorry Sharon - I accidentally deleted this message - I appreciate the dialogue...

Wow, Emerge, you have been holding back, haven't you? Since you have singled me out (since I choose not to be anonymous), I do feel that I want to respond. Maybe I just don't know enough about 150 teachers--or maybe I have chosen a very select group to be my friends. Manual teachers weren't perfect (nor was I), but I don't recognize my colleagues in any of your descriptions. Of course, I am quick to acknowledge (as you state) many of the parents as my former students because they have enriched my life--and I certainly never hated to see them show up (they were always welcome to visit me or to call me at home--I gave out my phone number on a grade sheet that I sent home with every student every week). I can't prove it, but I never felt superior to the parents of my students--quite the contrary. I was treated so very, very well by parents that I would never, never want to leave the impression that I "looked down my nose" at them or their children. Also, many of my former Manual students are spread throughout the city (they wouldn't be just at Trewyn). Do you believe that the charter school people will be working hard to get applicants from Trewyn? Why shouldn't someone encourage inner city kids to apply? You remain anonymous to most of us, so we have no idea where your child goes to school. If things are as bad as you state, then most assuredly you should be reporting such egregious conduct by teachers. I believe I'm correct in stating that you can FOIA the credentials of any of your child's teachers--to back up your claim that they don't know basic math. I asked you via e-mail if you understood my feelings about discipline as an issue--that it is always my concern that the majority of students are cheated of education opportunities because a minority of students disrupt every classroom they enter. You wrote back that you agreed--am I now to assume that you were not being sincere. I have valued your opinions and have always been willing to adjust my own thinking when presented with convincing arguments. You have leveled some very serious accusations against 150 teachers. You are obviously a very educated and knowledgeable woman? Have you ever considered teaching as a career? By the way, if things continue as they are in 150--with discipline and academic progress so difficult to achieve, I have no doubt that the quality of teachers will diminish. Well-qualified teachers probably will seek employment in environments with less stress. I am sorry that you have had such bad experiences with teachers--and do all black parents of your acquaintance feel as you do?

Sharon Crews said...

Emerge--thanks--I thought I'd lost my mind since I thought I hadn't written them in this order.

Frustrated said...

Emerge – Your passion is commendable and your anger understandable. When my children attended District 150 I was generally satisfied with the teachers (sounds like you have unfortunately not been) but I was constantly “frustrated” and upset about the inept management and general malaise of the place and how that spilled over and affected the attitudes and motivation of the teachers and set a tone for the schools. There never seemed to be a clear vision, no sense of urgency, and no desire to raise the bar. When you profiled the Harlem school, that leader was amazing. It has to be inspiring to work at a school like that and it has to cause teachers and administrators to step up to plate, because it seemed either you were on the bus with him or you were going to be run over by it – as in gone from the school. That is the tone the District Board and new Superintendent MUST set. A tone that says the old standard is simply not good enough and there must be progress, even if it is only incremental at first. And then the administration must communicate and support the teaching staff better and work in partnership with them to change the learning environment of the schools.

District 150, and even more so the City of Peoria, turned a blind eye to what was happening for some 20 plus years and as a result, learning and social problems plague much of the student population of the District, which will not easily be remedied. That is why I believe that Charter Schools, Washington Gifted, the Edison Program and other special offerings yet to come are so important to keep the District afloat as they work towards a better solution for the many students with learning challenges that they must deal with.

Your child is black, correct? And you are not the heir of a Rockefeller or Vanderbilt, right? And your child is ready to learn, is doing well in school, and has plugged in parents that expect more than the District is currently delivering in some of its’ schools. I can’t see how development of a Charter School or any other special educational opportunity is pandering to the “haves” and leaving the “have nots” behind. Your daughter has already won the lotto of life by having you as a parent so I guess that must mean your family is a “have.” But that kind of thinking is very limiting and is part of what has gotten the District into the trouble it is in today. Embracing differences does not mean ignoring them. What the District needs to do to successfully educate your daughter is dramatically different from what it must offer a child that is not reading at grade level when he or she reaches middle school and is displaying behaviors that are more than just being naughty, but are a result of a deprived background that is bound to affect academic performance and conduct.

This new superintendent, no matter how talented she may or may not be, is not going to be able to turn the District around over night. To me the District has to accommodate you and others like you or they will lose you. In fact, from previous posts it seems you are hanging by a thread right now.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to Dr. Lathan and her leadership. I hope she brings her "entourage" too. That way, she can clean out all the "do nothings" on Wisconsin Ave. I also hope she gets rid of the school administrators who rule by intimidation and threats to the staff and students. The teachers of this district can only be as great as their leaders and there are some horrible leaders in our schools. Word up!