Showing posts with label District 150. Show all posts
Showing posts with label District 150. Show all posts

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thanks for hearing me District 150!

The other day, on a post I did about the City and the School District collaborating with parents, somebody posted this in comments:

Click images to enlarge.
Today, I went to the District website to find out what the Anonymous comment was about. Imagine my surprise when I found out that District 150 now has a program that will teach parents and others about the inner workings of the School District. The program is called PALS (Parents as Leaders):

Click here to find out more about PALs
Remember this post I did...

Click here to read this entire post.
I wasn't proposing anything new, I was pitching a program that was already working in Austin, TX, called the AISD UpClose Program. A look at the Agenda on the PALs Program will show what the group will cover for each session. 

Thanks for hearing me District 150 (even though you acted like I was invisible)!

Click here to see EmergePeoria's pleas on increasing parental involvement in District 150.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Superintendent Grenita Lathan being blamed for problems in San Diego Unified's special education program

Today I heard about how it was going for teachers who are now teaching gifted classes in District 150. They are excited to have the opportunity. The only problem is, the teachers I heard about have not had any training, the principal was not given any resources, there were no materials purchased and there is no directive on what the teachers should be teaching. When the teachers registered to receive training on gifted education at a seminar in Chicago, the District Administration denied the request. This sounds a lot like the San Diego Unified issue:

 San Diego Unified's Big Special Ed Shift

It was the biggest change in the way San Diego Unified educates its students with special needs in a decade, and we wanted to know how the district had coped with the transition.

In 2008, after a report concluded that children with disabilities were too often being segregated into separate classrooms, the district began a concentrated effort to include far more children with special needs in general education classrooms in their neighborhood schools.

The shift required a complex reorganization of where kids with special needs would go to school. Rather than being grouped at relatively few sites that focused on special education, thousands of students with disabilities instead began flooding into their local schools.

Here are the conclusions we came to:
• Interviews with more than two dozen teachers, principals, experts and parents revealed a haphazard rollout of the new special education model that was plagued by a lack of vision and leadership.
• On the issue of training, specifically, there was confusion. Despite advocates pushing for mandatory training for teachers, nobody at the district ever tried to make that happen.
• There's also disagreement about how principals were trained for the big change. The top official at the district's Special Education Division says she was blocked from approaching principals to tell them about training. But that claim is refuted by her former boss, who no longer works in San Diego.
• What's clear is that individual schools were essentially left to work out how to make the move on their own, with little help from the district.
• Though many schools say they have now ironed out most of the kinks in making the transition, that's taken time and has placed undue stress on teachers while impacting the education of kids with special needs and the children they now share classrooms with.
• Some principals said three years later they're still struggling to implement the new model, as each year they must learn to teach children with disabilities they have not encountered at the school before.

Why Training Was Never Mandated
Back in October, we described how many general education teachers at the district were suddenly faced with teaching children with special needs, despite having no training on how to do so.What we didn't tell you was why the district never made that training compulsory for the thousands of teachers making the transition.

Here's why: Nobody at the district ever tried to make training mandatory, despite being urged to do so by some advocates of the change.

Arguably the district's biggest challenge in implementing the new approach was convincing skeptical teachers and principals that it was the right thing to do. An effective way to do that was to get those teachers into training sessions, to show them the benefits of inclusion, said Marvin Elementary School Principal E. Jay Derwae.

"Of course training should have been mandatory. You have to make sure everybody buys into the new paradigm shift, and you've got to be able to hold teachers' hands through the changes."
Jay Derwae

Many Principals Weren't Trained Either
While the decision that more inclusion was needed came down from the higher echelons of the district, the foot soldiers in the effort to make the change a reality were individual school principals. Like teachers, many principals at the district needed crucial training to help them assimilate their new found students with special needs into their schools. And there were practical considerations too, like how to set up "sensory rooms" where children with certain disabilities could cool down after getting upset.

Special education training was never mandated for principals either. And there's more.

Susan Martinez, executive director of the district's Special Education Division, said she was told principals were too busy to hear about additional training. She said she was told not to attend meetings with principals, and was barred from putting information about training on the district's website.

"Because of the way the system was, we were not allowed access to principals. So, the word was out there that we didn't want to work with principals," Martinez said. "We would say 'We can do training, we want to do training, but we're not allowed to.'"

Asked who barred her from approaching principals, Martinez named Grenita Lathan, who used to serve as a deputy superintendent and is now superintendent of a school district in Peoria, Ill.

Lathan said Martinez's claim is untrue. She said she'll be contacting the district. Source

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Important news story covered in hyperbole

Its the END of week six of the 2011 - 2012 school year and finally the "local" newspaper is taking a look at the fact that students and teachers in District 150 STILL DON'T HAVE TEXT BOOKS. It's unfortunate that the "news report" makes light of something as important as students not having text books. The "news report" is filled with hyperbole, so I have attempted to glean some facts: 
  • It's Week 6, and some students still don't have all of their textbooks.
  • In some cases, the books haven't even arrived yet from publishers. When will they get here?
  • The books are actually here - at the district warehouse.
  • When will the textbooks get to students? 
  • "Hopefully, they'll be on the way soon," says district spokesman Chris Coplan.
  • Administrators keep filling out requests for books.
  • As of this week, students - in history and other disciplines at Peoria High - still don't have books.
  • It's the same thing with other kids and courses at other district schools: no books. 
  • What's the hold-up? There aren't enough books because there are too many books.
  • "We just ordered so many textbooks this summer," says spokesman Coplan.
  • The district underwent a wave of curriculum changes after the last academic year.
  • The district ordered a half-million dollars worth of new textbooks, a much higher sum than usual.
  • Many of those books still haven't arrived.
  • In many cases, the books came in plenty of time.
  • They're neatly stacked at the district warehouse on Lake Street.
  • There are just two employees at the warehouse.
  • There are strict rules regarding intaking requests and unpacking supplies and tracking orders and marking books and distributing texts.
  • Teachers are trying to make do with alternative teaching methods.
  • In some cases, teachers are running off copies of book pages for students.
  • In printing off copies, the district is wasting time and money in replacing books that are already here
  • "We're working daily to get them out," Coplan says
  • The process isn't working right.
  • Those still-on-order books someday might get here from publishers.
  • When that happens, fear more delays.
  • Taxpayers pick up the tab for these materials.
  • It's a waste to see these books languish without delivery.
  • It's a waste to see students languish without books.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

OUR kids can't read: Will you help?

I was stunned to see the statistics in the November 9, 2010 New York Times article entitled "Proficiency of Black Students Is Found to Be Far Lower Than Expected". It hurt my heart to think about the magnitude of what we are dealing with.

Recently as I sat listening to students read to me, I realized I have to find a way to do more. I volunteer two days a week at a local District 150 school to read with students. This is my fifth year. I read with 4 students for 20 minutes each. Ideally, a child should probably read at least 20 minutes per night.

It started out selfishly - it was a way to be at the school; I could observe my student and I could help out. Win-Win. But I never lost sight of the fact that in many cases, the twenty minutes I was giving a student to read, may be the only time they had an adult, other than a teacher, sit with them and encourage them to read.

Read the article below and think about it...


Black kids can't read: What are you prepared to do about it?

The statistics in the November 9, 2010 New York Times article, "Black Boys Score Far Behind White Students," leave one speechless. According to the report entitled "A Call for Change" released November 8 by urban schools advocacy group the Council for Great City Schools, only 12 percent of black males are proficient reading at grade level reading while in fourth grade, compared to 38 percent of white males.

The statistics do not look much better when comparing for poverty as measured by qualifying for school lunches. Poverty does not seem to answer the question because, according to the report, poor white males do just as well as black males who are purportedly not in poverty. Looking forward, things don't get better. The article states:

President Obama stated: "One of the best anti-poverty programs is a world class education." I wholeheartedly agree. We know that people learn in different ways and many have different styles of learning, but there is no excuse on the part of our country, teachers and parents for the abysmal performance of our young men in education. The ability to read and do very basic statement analysis is crucial in just about every area of life. If one cannot read, they will not make solid, well-informed decisions. The likelihood of being deceived by contracts or any type of written agreement, multiplies when someone is a poor reader.

Armed with these new statistics, we must take action as a community and nation. We know that black male dropouts lead the country in terms of incarceration and that this trend will continue to increase. The high cost of sustaining a prison system -- in desperate need of reform -- is illogical and fiscally impossible. We need to conduct a national dialogue on how to get to the heart of criminality and truly start intervening at the first sight of risk factors. These traits unfortunately start before the child is ever born. As a strategic forecaster, I'm tempted to bury my head in the sand as I look forward.

So let's look at our options. Black males who drop out of school are likely to live in long protracted periods of poverty. They will pick up skill-sets often involving a criminal lifestyle. More than likely they will spend time in jail or prison, leading to the wrong type of schooling. We are faced with mounting crises in the black community and the days of deflecting simply will not work.

We can no longer trust in a savior that will emerge and fix our problems. The deliverers will emerge within our community. Mentors, coaches, parents, grandparents and professionals from all walks of life will say, "Enough!" The question is: How unbearable must this situation become?

We know that we should mentor young men and women in all areas of life, but we also have to send this message: "If you are unable to take care of children, it is unacceptable to have them. Stop!"

We have a plethora of "baby mamas" and daddies in all communities -- black and white -- who do not have the wherewithal to raise healthy kids. The 40 percent out of wedlock rate is a national crisis. We have to read the writing on the wall -- enough is enough. Unfortunately some can't read it. Those who are literate have to start reading it for those who can't, and teach them a better way.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Murder in the Glen Oak School Impact Zone

The Glen Oak Neighborhood Impact Zone, a two-block area in the East Bluff – the city's top target area for crime reduction, neighborhood revitalization and home improvement assistance, surrounding District 150’s new $25 million Glen Oak School.

Last night’s East Bluff murder at Peoria Food Stop Inc., took place immediately across the street from the new Glen Oak School (one block from the Boy's and Girl's Club).


The Glen Oak Neighborhood Impact Zone was identified by the City Council in May 2009 to be targeted for revitalization. The city designated millions of dollars in public investment, with more than $3 million in sidewalk and road projects already completed.

The City has already noted that there has been very few applications for down payment assistance to purchase a home near Glen Oak School. This murder in the Impact Zone certainly won’t help the situation. Unfortunate.

Related read: A Matter of Time

Thursday, April 23, 2009

District 150 - please bring back inner city basketball rims

Yesterday evening the weather was perfect for being on the courts shooting hoops.
Photo taken at Keller School on North Knoxville Avenue.


South of War Memorial Drive, District 150 has removed all basketball rims. The rims were removed several years ago. As a result, children who are not fortunate enough to be members of the RiverPlex or some other facility, are left to their own means to find a basketball rim.

Recently, four young men climbed over my gated and locked back yard fence and had themselves a little game . It was actually kind of funny because I recognized them from the school where I volunteer. I didn’t get mad, but I gave them a good talk about what trespassing is and pointed them to the sign posted on my fence. However, I did assure them that if they did it again, I would call the police. I have since seen the youngsters at school and they are all very nice and make a point to say hello, no problems.

I am not sure why the basketball rims were taken down from inner city schools, but District 150 should really consider replacing them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

School Desegregation in Peoria, Illinois


A Staff Report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, June 1977.

In 1966 when initial planning for desegregation began, minority students were concentrated in 9 of Peoria's 39 schools. Twenty of the city's schools had white enrollments of more than 98 percent, indicating the most minimal percentage of minority students in more than half the city's schools. Four schools were totally white.

The Board fully realized that the Peoria Public Schools must be integrated promptly to insure quality education and equality of educational opportunities for all children.

The plan was quickly put into effect to coincide with the fall 1968 opening of Peoria’s schools. A few incidents of limited physical violence occurred but the Peoria Journal Star, in its account of the desegregation process noted, "There were no major incidents. Busing, at least on a limited basis and as long as it did not involve advantaged whites, seemed to work well in Peoria.

In some respects, the Peoria schools during the 1970s began to look more segregated than even prior to the initiation of desegregation. In 1966 Peoria's minority students were concentrated in nine schools; eight of these schools failed to meet State guidelines because they had an over population of minority students. By the 1975-76 school year, the district had a total of nine schools which had an overpopulation of minority students by State standards.

[...]

On January 8, 1976, the Illinois Office of Education announced that Peoria District 150 was not in compliance with State desegregation guidelines. The State found 20 Peoria schools not in compliance and ordered the district to submit detailed desegregation plans. The order noted that failure to do so could result in a loss of funding and further legal action by the State. A new plan from the district has now been received by the State and is currently under review.

Superintendent Harry Whitaker agreed that Peoria's schools should be within the State guidelines, but has also argued that the district should not be made to bus white students to predominantly black schools to achieve this end:

"We believe in integration. There's no question about that," Mr. Whitaker stated, "but we don't believe in integration to the point that we have to move youngsters back and forth. We think that that is going to be detrimental....My goal is not to re-segregate District 150, but, hopefully, to maintain the community as it is now."

Read the entire report here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Parental Responsibility Ordinance

At Large Councilmen, Eric Turner and Jim Montelongo are once again hoping to parlay public fears into a parental responsibility ordinance. The recent ongoing crime wave is being used as impetuous to hurry through a ordinance that will hold parents accountable for the crimes their children commit. Just last week, the practice was deemed unconstitutional in Davenport, Iowa. However, Councilmen Turner and Montelongo are mindful, yet hopeful that their ordinance will make it here in Peoria. You know, Peoria is unique.

There are so many questions:

Will this ordinance tie into the District 150 truancy program? Will this ordinance also go after parents of children who are ticketed for underage drinking? Will this ordinance go after parents who children receive traffic tickets? Will this ordinance go after parents who children have illegal drugs at school? If the parents fail to comply in whatever way, what will be the final consequence? If fines are imposed, do we really think parents would be capable of paying hefty fines in this economy? Will the parent be required to serve community service? If so, what of the parent’s other children who may still be in the household?

What services will be available for a parent who can't control their child? If the parent is away from home paying for the problem child’s crimes, what of the problem child then? Will they become a ward of the State–an orphan, or they will be tried as adults because their parents couldn't control them.

Is the April 6th Forum just so people can come and complain, or will the Councilmen have some answers to the tough questions that surround an ordinance like this?

I am all for parents being held accountable, however, I am not so quick to believe that this is the answer. This parental responsibility ordinance is a slippery slope, that will cost the City money to enforce. Will the numbers for the cost of enforcing this ordinance be available at the Forum on April 6th.

Before Councilman Turner and Montelongo proceed down this route, they should try talking with the Police Chief, isn’t there something he could do to be more effective? How about that Race Relations Commission, couldn't they offer a suggestion on something by now?

As far as Peoria’s image that Councilman Turner is so concerned about—that image is a result of the decisions and/or indecisions of the Mayor and City Council. And while we are trying clever ways to stop the young troublemakers, let’s not forget about all of the adults who are committing crimes. Who will City Council hold accountable for that?