Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Over crowding and inequality in education - Peoria, Illinois

Where is the ACLU when you need them? They sue for over crowded prisons - they need to sue District 150 for over crowded schools.

A new school boundary map was made and schools were closed. Parents were given a handful of schools, where children are learning, that they could scramble and beg to attend. Today we read that Glen Oak Community School and Harrison Community School are filled beyond capacity.

While the schools North of Forrest Hill are not seeing classrooms bursting at the seams and children failing to learn; the schools South of Forrest Hill are. Additionally, the schools are all set up on some type of program schematic that place students on a different learning trajectory than their "peers" out North. When questioned about why the classrooms are so crowded, the Superintendent of Schools says: 

"I don't know where people are coming from...,"

How is this an acceptable response to the very real problem of classrooms packed beyond building code?

I will guarantee you, new people are not coming to Peoria feinding to attend Glen Oak or Harrison Community School. These are the same lower economic citizens that the City and the Schools have agreed it is okay to herd in this way. 

Inequality in education is a market in Peoria - it has been for generations. Folks coming from communities far and wide to make money off of the under educated parents with children who live in this town. Millions and millions of dollars in grant money has flooded into this community for the last several years, but ain't nothing changed. We continue to get what we got - maybe even worse

So what is the Board of Education going to do for all of these kids crammed into a couple of buildings? How will they remedy this heinous situation? Will they open up more schools; will they open up the boundaries and allow more students to get waivers; or will they continue to allow the most vulnerable students in the City of Peoria to be treated in this way? Unfortunately  I think I know the answer to these questions - they will do nothing. 

I am thoroughly disgusted with this situation - THIS IS WRONG!

Peoria Story has the scoop from last night's School Board Meeting.

27 comments:

Emerge Peoria said...

As soon as Irving School closes down (any day now), we will probably hear about Lincoln School being over crowded.

Dennis in Peoria said...

I agree inequality in education has occurred for years, especially before the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling by the Supreme Court. That encouraged busing of inner city kids to pre-dominately white (better?) schools to integrate them.
Except, over the decades the quality of educational materials and teachers in inner city schools have improved.
But one problem lies in that parents started getting tired of getting their child to a bus stop at 6:30 am to catch a 1 hour or more bus ride to a nort area school. Plus, it was a long bus ride home after school. Then you also have the potential bus problems that D150 has experienced in the past (not heard much about current year yet)

But the children still get a better education in schools north of Forrest Hill? Perhaps. So the pendulum may have swung back to sending children to schools closer to home, but then you have overcrowding. Which way is preferred?

I know I'm jumping the gun here, so if someone has data on what parts of Peoria the children at Harrison and Glen Oak are coming from, that might help. Are children from north of Forrest Hill being bused to these two schools? Or do all the children come from adjacent school boundaries of Harrison and Glen Oak, as well as their own areas? Answers are appreciated, if anyone knows. Thank you.

Sharon Crews said...

We would probably be amazed to see the addresses of students at any of these schools--boundaries mean nothing. I agree wholeheartedly with Emerge's assessment of this situation. I find it very difficult to understand how Dr. Lathan and board members--who should be predisposed to care about inner city kids--make decisions that so negatively impact these children.
It is amazing how Dr. Lathan tried to turn this issue around to insinuate that Terry Knapp was advocating for large class sizes. Terry was rightfully pointing out that these numbers should not have been a surprise--the only reason there are such large numbers of students at Glen Oak and Harrison is that too many schools were closed--and, as Emerge points out, here we go again with the closing of Irving. I guess it will be a surprise when Lincoln is overcrowded (probably already is).

Anonymous said...

Dennis-there are very few choices

Anonymous said...

I heard from a pretty reliable source that they didn't give out boundary waivers for grade school this year. So the students that had been getting waivers to go schools other than Glen Oak and Harrison were stuck there.

Anonymous said...

I work at one of the extremely overcrowded schools. Our administrators do nothing but put out fires all day long, regarding student behavior. Oh, did I mention that it is the SAME STUDENTS, SAME BEHAVIOR, different year. Why are these students STILL getting preferential treatment(in my humble opinion). Do their "rights" to be idiots supercede the rights of all the other children that want to learn and teachers that want to teach? I feel like a student will not be removed until they HURT either ME, another student or themselves. WHY? No building should have 900 students in it, considering it is a primary school. The utter chaos outside each day is from the bizarro world. I find myself BEGGING little children (3rd and 4th graders) not to swear while walking past my class. There isn't enough time in the day or space in this blog to truly explain how "out of control" this situation is. I just go to work, do my best for my students, and GO HOME.

Emerge Peoria said...

Yeah, those damned begging little children. How dare they when they have the best conditions in the world. They live in Peoria in abject poverty, their parents are not smart enough to rescue them from District 150, they come to school and have to sit on top of each other, teachers are pissy (as they should be), yeah, they have so much to be cheerful about.

I am thoroughly appalled at the fact that this school IS FILLED BEYOND CAPACITY - AGAINST CITY CODE - AGAINST THE LAW!

The only thing people on this thread should be complaining about are the conditions teachers have to work in and students are supposed to be learning in. IMO

Instead of opening up the weight room to pack children in, the BOE should care enough to open up boundaries and send children to other schools.

This mess is ridiculous and shows a true lack of planning. 20-30 kids more than expected is one thing - but this many children.... PLEASE.

THIS IS NOT OKAY!

Anonymous said...

The teacher wasn't calling the students beggars. She said she was begging them not to curse as they walk by her classroom.

The conditions at Glen Oak are ridiculous. It is so true that it is the same kids, same behavior day after day. Sixth grade students in a building with K students does not make sense when there are 900 kids in a building and the students are running the asylum.

As someone who has been in many different buildings teaching and observing, the difference is HUGE. Students in classrooms, teachers teaching, quiet halls, manageable numbers, a dull hum in the cafeteria at lunch--these are things you do NOT find at Glen Oak. It is TOO big, TOO many kids, TOO much chaos. EVERY child in that building is being robbed. The "good" kids are being short-changed in their education because the teacher is a referee rather than educator. The "bad" kids are learning behavior has no consequences and they are not responsible for their actions. No one should be surprised by the arrest of PSD students for crimes. It is what is in their curriculum beginning in Kindergarden.

It breaks my heart that these behaviors are not being addressed. It feels SO wrong to me to let them continue to get away with anything. Why are the expectations actually lowered for these "poor, black kids"? I want to empower them to rise up and do great things. Not run the halls, cursing, screaming, kicking, and punching and receiving NO punishment. It is so unfair and Lathan thinks I can't teach in Peoria because I'm white? I'm not the one setting the students up for failure. She is.

Emerge Peoria said...

Lathan can only do what her Board will allow.

Anonymous said...

That is so true and unfortunately, it seems the board has given her carte blanche to do whatever she sees fit.

Emerge Peoria said...

I wonder what the Fire Marshall has to say about this situation. Additionally, has 150 devised and trained employees and students on how to get out in case of fire.

There is no way parents of students in these schools should be sitting still for this nonsense.

Do you think anybody on the Board would send their child, granchild into these buildings to "learn?" Me either.

Anonymous said...

Other than the required posting of the evacuation route in each room and the twice a year fire drills, there is no special training in exiting the building during a fire. Added to that the lack of control over a large number of the students and the students' apparent inability to listen to any adult, if there were a fire to break out, the results would be devastating. I shudder to think about it.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't there more section 8 housing north of Forrest Hill? Our Mayor wanted this school in that location - where is the leadership?

Anonymous said...

District 150 and the teachers need to be rescued from the students and idiot parents. Stop blaming the system for the failures of parents who can't raise children.

Anonymous said...

their parents are not smart enough

sums it up, Emerge

Anonymous said...

"I wonder what the Fire Marshall has to say about this situation."

Why not ask? I mean, you also said "...this school IS FILLED BEYOND CAPACITY - AGAINST CITY CODE - AGAINST THE LAW!", which are pretty strong allegations.

To report a safety hazard or a fire hazard, contact Fire Prevention, 505 N. E. Monroe, (309) 494-8780.


Anonymous said...

New people are coming to Peoria. Generally from the Chicago area. The ones coming are poor, have little to no job prospects or professionally taught skills and/or advanced education. I would hypothethize that they have a number of children already and clearly in gear to produce many more. Where do such folks live. In areas they can afford, hence the explosion in Section 8 subsidies and ads from PHA looking for more Section 8 landlords.
So schools on our end of town are crowded, packed if you will. But who ultimately sets up this scenerio? The school district...no they have to do with what resources they have. The district is not rushing out to impregnate women. So what are you suggesting then as the solution, double property taxes to resolve this issue? Some on the other side would state that they pay plenty in taxes, how about grabbing a condom or two before you decide to party all weekend. There are two sides, perhaps more to this dilemna.
The school district is mandated to provide an education to residents in its district. There are huge problems with the district leadership on down, but there are also huge problems in the community they attempt to service. Most of what I hear is to attack the institution. It is far easier to be mad at a faceless insititution and hold a few people accountable than to address someone by suggesting that perhaps they not get pregnant this season, take a few months off and let your uterus rest a bit. (yes tongue in cheek)
I see this happen with the district and with some of the crime issues. In that area, the government's primary job is to "provide for the common defense". COP fails. Unfortunately our constitution doesn't have a bill of responsiblities along with the bill of rights. Like: you produced the child, it is YOUR responsibility to feed, clothe, ensure proper education, teach manners and respect, instill postive values and work ethic. And yes btw it means sacrifice and committment. Much of our society's problems would be resolved in that one proposed "article".
The solution to this issue, as with most problems, comes from changes on both sides of the table.

Anonymous said...

Woodrow Wilson and Hines (both north of For Hill) both added another section of 2nd grade after the school year started.

I know of at least one person who was granted a waiver - left Thomas Jefferson and went to Woodrow Wilson.

Anonymous said...

Sharon,
My family has lived in District 150 for 14 years. Please tell me where you would move....if you had five boys to raise and educate. My husband and I are ready to walk away from everything to find a school district to educate our boys. Thanks for all your comments on this blog!!

Sharon Crews said...

That is a very hard question for me to answer. First of all, I have no children, but I do have 5 "pretend" grandchildren who are the children of a District 150 teacher. Three of them are now at Whittier--which I would still recommend as a good school. One is at Richwoods. One will be going to Whittier in a year. I truly hate to see people moving out of District 150. I understand your frustrations.
I just wish there were more parents and/or taxpayers who would actively hold District 150's feet to the fire. District 150 should be asked to do everything in its power to keep people in the District--not much has been done to entice or keep families in.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think D150 has done a lot to try and keep families in the district, but is fighting a losing battle with changing socio-economic demographics (i.e. the population keeps getting poorer).

How about Washington Gifted? Edison? Quest? International Baccalaureate? Knoxville Center? Valeska Hinton? Chinese language? Alt/Tech School?

Anonymous said...

Community Learning Centers? Roosevelt Magnet? Johns Hopkins? Fine Arts Academy? Parent University? Reading Buddies? Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and numerous church affiliated volunteers?

Stronger teacher evaluations? Grow your own? One of the highest salary scales in the region?

Anonymous said...

Until recently...Over-diagnosis of learning disabilities in order to get more individualized attention with Title I dollars? Keeping too many schools open than was financially feasible to try and maintain neighborhood schools and low classes sizes? Or was it keeping schools like Tyng open so as to not allow certain neighborhoods into places like Whittier? A much higher than average rate of expulsions/suspensions, especially for students of color?

Sharon Crews said...

You can list all the programs and innovations added by District 150; however, discipline problems remain the deciding factor for parents leaving the district. Closing schools didn't help either. And please don't list John Hopkins is a plus--it destroyed Manual High School. The IB program is only at Richwoods and did keep those eligible for it in the District--but it serves a limited number of students.

Anonymous said...

I remember a PJStar editorial a few years back regarding D150s changing approach to discipline (School Resource Officers instead of Campus Police, e.g.) In it they described how D150 had given vastly higher % of detentions/suspensions/expulsions compared not only to the rest of the state, but to other similar districts. And later it was revealed that for years D150 had been violating federal law by suspending IEP students for more than 10 days a year. In other words, punitive consequences didn't seem to be working. So D150 took a different approach (and the PJStar editorial board agreed). So, a poor inner city school district is still struggling with discipline and retaining middle class families. Tell me what other similar city isn't experiences the same?

Johns Hopkins ruined Manual? I mean, as if Manual was doing just swell before Johns Hopkins? And the IB Diploma Programme may only be at Richwoods, but the PYP and/or MYP are in Charter Oak, Trewyn, Sterling and Mark Bills.

The point is, it's hardly been the case that "not much has been done to entice or keep families in (D150)". Frankly that statement was an insult to all of the administrators, teachers, parents, students and community members who have worked very hard to continuously improve the educational experience in D150 to retain and attract families to the district.

Anonymous said...

"Grow you Own" is a joke as I know one that did graduate from Bradley and then went outside the district to get her job when she graduated. They didn't make her stay in the district, but paid for her education. The same thing happens with many of the teachers who get further education paid for by District 150. District pays, they graduate and then go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Grow Your Own is funded at the state level and is a loan program wherein the loan is waived if the teacher works in a low income school district for at least 5 years. Peoria used to participate, but ended its affiliation because the state consistently failed to provide funding on schedule.