Sunday, March 25, 2012
Students pleading with District 150 Administration to make the school safe so they can get their education find themselves censored
Saturday, March 12, 2011
I was standing there talking with Little One about Hello Kitty jewelry and the clerk comes over out of the blue and begins to talk about she didn't know that there were black people in Panama. I asked her what made her say that. She told me that the two black ladies that were just in the store were talking in a different language and she asked them where they were from and they said Panama.
I informed her that yes, people from Panama come in all colors, just like Americans. She said that they don't teach you that stuff in District 150 and she's a senior at Richwoods. I told her that as a black girl, there are some things about people of color that she will need to find out on her own.
She changed the subject and started to tell me that she was kicked out of school and that they had 14 (fourteen) fights at Richwoods last week. My ears pricked up and I said, "14 (fourteen) fights - 14 fights"? Are you sure about that number, she said yes, because her fight was number 14 (fourteen).
I asked her what was the deal with all the fighting - she said:
"When Mr. Ptacek was Principal the rule was 10 (ten) days suspension for fighting but since Mr. Grant came, girls are willing to fight because the suspension is now only 5 (five) days and they are willing to take the 5 (five) day suspension to get at who they want."
The young lady was full of conversation, she went on to tell me that she was concerned that she was going to have to go to court. I asked her why, she said she just turned eighteen and the other girl was seventeen. She told me the girl fighting her knew she would be charged if she fought her.
There have been so many conflicting reports on fights at Richwoods. This student clearly told me fourteen fights, with her's being the fourteenth. What to believe?
Saturday, August 7, 2010
"Sharon, I do read the blogs from time to time.
You have been hearing exaggerations and twists regarding my concerns with our IB program. Immediately upon entering RHS I started analyzing all available data to get a picture of the state of the school including our trends. I have questioned our decreasing numbers in both IB and AP. I have also questioned our performance.
I have questioned how we have been running our programs, not the programs themselves. This hasn't set well with some teachers and families associated with the programs. Many enjoyed the small "school within a school" condition that had been created.
People were shocked that I first questioned our high end classes. But I believe that you grow an excellent school by first ensuring that the high end is both expanding and performing. It is challenging to increase enrollment and performance in a top end program, but that is what truly great teachers do.
(Note: Our school IB coordinator has been doing a wonderful job, but her ability to expand the program has been limited. She might be the hardest working person in the district).
If we are going to create something special with the IB program, we need to commit to vertically aligning the program into the middle schools (ALL of them). Not only do we need to use the program to challenge our "traditional" top performing students, we also need to find, inspire, and motivate our untapped talent.
This year we have added the IB certificate option with the goal of increasing our junior and senior enrollment. For the last couple of years only about 20 students have taken the IB tests. Furthermore, just over half of those performed well enough to receive the diploma. With our current economic situation, I have stated that those numbers do not justify the program. But my solution is to commit to increasing the numbers. I know the talent is out there. From day one I had a problem walking down the hall and seeing 3 lower level classes with 26-29 students and several IB classes with less then 10.
I have also stated that not all of our high-end students have the same academic needs. For some, the IB program is perfect. For others, AP is a better option. Remember Sharon, prior to entering administration my background was a nuclear power plant operator and an AP Physics teacher. I firmly believe that top science/math students need to take AP Calculus along with at least one other AP science course. That is what the students take at New Trier, Barrington, Adlai Stevenson, and Naperville. Since we have only offered the diploma option, many of our students have had to decide between AP and IB. Their schedules have been full. Hopefully with the certificate option we can allow for both.
Our total number of students either testing for the IB diploma or taking AP exams over the last decade has declined. In contrast, statewide involvement has risen dramatically. (My data is mainly regarding the massive increase in state AP testing since there are only 3 districts in the state with an IB program). Low-income and minority testing has greatly increased throughout the state.
RHS once had amazing AP numbers. One of my goals is to return our school to those levels. For the past 10 years we have averaged 58 students taking an AP exam. This last year 94 students took at least one AP exam. Our overall pass rate was above 70% so I am delighted with what the staff was able to accomplish.
Also, Dr. Lathan is a huge IB supporter. Once the district is able, I am confident that the resources and support will finally be provided to create a truly successful program available for all of our students.
If anyone has any questions about the direction that I wish to take RHS.... PLEASE stop by, call, email, or send a pigeon. I gladly welcome the conversation. I have had several parents come to my office questioning me about the rumors that I want to drop the IB program. Once they leave, they have understood the truth instead of the rumors. "
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
So, today when we speak in terms of “inequality in education”, let’s make it clear what categories we are referring to: African-American, Hispanic and/or all folks below a certain income level (or street).
When I saw in the pjstar that a retired District 150 teacher was quoted as saying "not allowing Richwoods students the ability to attend [summer school] was "discriminatory" and "unfair."" I had to laugh, because Title 1 is specifically for disadvantaged children and typically when you think of your average student at Richwoods, disadvantaged does not come to mind.
The retired teacher raised a good point that the Title 1 students, who are bused from RiverWest to Richwoods, would miss out on attending summer school, because there are only 120 slots for students from Title 1 high schools. Alas, Richwoods is fortunate enough not to be a Title 1 high school.
Should the Title 1 monies be sent back and none of the children have a chance for summer school? Some may consider it a tough call, but I don’t.
On the surface, I can see how it appears to some as unfair, but from what I have been told, at the early summer school planning meetings at Richwoods, efforts to develop a plan for having summer school without any funds were futile. There were simply not any realistic options and at first it seemed that none of the Richwoods students were going to be able to take the summer school option.
There was some discussion to have students pay for summer school, but the costs to each student would have been prohibitive to a significant portion of the school’s population. Unfortunately many in that population are exactly the students that need summer school.
The focus should be on if the District can develop a plan during these tough economic times; are they going to deny the plan because the plan can not be applied for all students? I think and many would agree, that not using the funds to help whatever students we can would be a horrible thing. The funds are there. Title 1 is what it is and what it has been.
The term discrimination implies that someone has options and chooses an option that discriminates. In this situation, there are not any options. That is the crux of this dilemma. Discrimination would be to choose that only certain people get into the boat when you have a choice to pick.
I bet if you were to ask Steve Ptacek, the Richwoods Principal, what he thought, he wouldn’t see a huge issue with this. At Richwoods, they have about 30% low income students that might be listed as Title 1 students if they were at the other schools. But Richwoods being RICHwoods, their low income students are scoring better than the other schools and have a very high graduation rate.
You see, Richwoods has tried and true achievement networks that their students are privy to. As a result, even without summer school, Richwoods will be able to work with their students and develop a plan so they can overcome some lost credits. If they need to be creative with a student's schedule, I’m thinking they can make it work.
So, note to retired teacher, don’t worry about the Richwoods students – they are going to be just fine.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Woodrow Wilson Primary School, 1907 W. Forrest Hill Ave., Nov. 10
Manual High School, 811 S. Griswold St., Nov. 16
Richwoods High School, 6301 N. University St., Nov. 17
Von Steuben Middle School, 801 E. Forrest Hill Ave., Nov. 23
Two alternate locations, Franklin-Edison and Charter Oak primary schools, were also approved.