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Proviso Probe

Monday, January 16, 2006

ED, what should Proviso T. do about education?

I’m interested in having an education policy discussion. The idea that I have (subject to modification) is to invite people to submit writings about what should be done to improve education in Proviso Township.

I want to discuss policies, not personalities. Also, I’d like to discuss stuff that can be implemented in the future, not rehash bad decisions that have been made in the past.

40 Comments:

  • ms. coffee says: consult with teachers as to what needs to be changed. Some items that pop to mind: do away with the current grade averaging. Go back to percentage averging. Do away with the current attendance system and night school. If a child misses more than x amount of days, he should receive no credit for the class as other schools do. Put back cross cat., special ed classes. Do away with summer school paid for by the district. Leyden has a policy that a student can only repeat a class twice. Then they HAVE to pay for it in summer school. This would make parents and students accountable. Keep mandatory Weds./Sat. school, but improve it so that it is more of a tutoring to help students pass the classes they are failing.Finally, expel constant trouble makers. The majority of the kids at Proviso want to learn, but they are interrupted by kids who don't care. Remove the kids who have virtually no credits and are constantly in trouble.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:27 PM, January 16, 2006  

  • I think that would be a great idea, Carl. If we could have a cross section of parents, community members, teachers, and local business owners, we could generate a fresh set of views and ideas to help the high schools become a productive community. As a teacher, I would love to participate. My only request would be to not allow anyone with a negative voice to contribute. Absolutely nothing has been accomplished around here as a result of the mud slinging I have read. In fact, it has sickened me.

    By Blogger thisisahoot, at 8:17 PM, January 16, 2006  

  • Sippin on Jack says....

    I also agree with Ms. Coffee, but there is an urgent need to improve conditions for student whom are borderline or midstream. students The following items need to added also:

    1. Create a Parents Academy not intended for Political gain

    2. Upgrade the Computer Systems in our school and curriculum around it

    3. Place emphasis on more vocational based program that incorporate college prep ideas. some student are'nt going primaryly into liberal arts based programs.

    4. Involve more outside sources like unions and retired executives from fortune 500 companies to consult on motivating our children' intrests. Show them different lifestyles and choices..

    5. Provide intervention teams for the problem kids

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:12 PM, January 16, 2006  

  • ms. coffee says I totally agree with thiisahoot. We can't change politics at Proviso, but perhaps we can work within it. As to sippin on jack...I have often thought that Proviso should be split into two schools within a school. One for vocational and one for academic. We know that not every kid has the ability to go to college. Give those children something, a marketable skill, that they can use to make a good salary. Teach math in the context of auto repair(metric system), teach English so that kids can write what they need to. Produce some great chefs, or computer geeks, or childcare workers. Hook up more with Triton. Proviso has some of these programs, but they need to be strengthened.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:39 AM, January 17, 2006  

  • District 209 is beyond redemption. It has a slim shot at salvation.
    It ceased being an educational institution and exists as a political feeding machine.
    It is a poisoned well from which few parents willingly let their children drink.
    It cannot suddenly decide it will once again be a beacon of education.

    If District 209 were dissolved it would allow the 10 communities to play an active role in
    the future rather than waiting for the board and administrators to find a solution.
    The schools could continue to operate under State guidance and administration while each community
    determined the best course of action.
    The likely outcome would be community based with three or more attendance centers, but without the politcal
    baggage.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 3:04 PM, January 17, 2006  

  • Oh, rehctaw:

    You are kidding yourself if you think that State Board of Ed. will allow the Proviso community to determine the best course of action. The communities will have absolutely no say in what happens. Go read about East St. Louis school systems and what the ISBE "allowed" them.

    ms.coffee and jack, I'd like to sit down and buy you a cup of coffee. Wonderful ideas. By the way, South Shore Community High School has a wonderful school within a school program that would work wonderfully at Proviso.

    By Blogger thisisahoot, at 9:05 PM, January 17, 2006  

  • It starts at the top with the Supt.
    Libka is incompetent...board members are incompent and they only have jobs and contracts on their mind. Proviso needs an excellent supt. free from the political BS. The majority board (Welch and his Clan) needs to let supts. be supts. and not control them, for example Welch and Libkas love affair. When Proviso brings in a qualified leader (supt.) then everything else will trickle down to the principals, teachers, and students. As long as Proviso has lawyers, high school dropouts, and incompetent people in positions running the shcool it will be doomed.

    PROVISO NEEDS A LEADER EXEMPT FROM POLITICAL TIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    By Blogger Crome_Dome, at 10:13 PM, January 17, 2006  

  • ms. coffee says First of all, this thread is supposed to be positive crome dome. Second, think back. Has Proviso ever been apolitical? When Provenzano ran the board was Proviso without politics? We will never change the politics. What we needed to do was change the administration. Don't kid yourself, Jackson and Gilchrist catered to the Board. Everything they did came from Ms. Kelley or Welch. Jackson's problem was that he was always right. Gilchrist came up with all these ideas and then never followed through with them. Any school going through reorganization needs to hook in everybody. The teachers, security, parapros and secretaries all have to have input to improve the place. We don't want the State to come in and take over. We want to be able to tailor our school to the community's needs.Finally Crome dome, you have one thing in mind, to crucify Welch and Libka. Why don't you think positively and come up with some good ideas to improve things instead of harping on the same old subject.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:42 AM, January 18, 2006  

  • What does East St. Louis have to do with District 209? The ISBE allowed Fairmont City to detach from E.St. Louis Schools and attach to Collinsville. 80 students were involved. East St. Louis is a bizarre place, but I don't see how it rates comparison to 209. It's not politics, but poverty that plagues them.

    District 209 is hardly poverty stricken. Without rehashing the mistakes of the past, the current situation is that most students in the 10 communities go elsewhere for high school. Not some, MOST. The district is responsible for the mobility rate. It is a FAILED institution. Not failing; FAILED. It lost the support and confidence of parents and responded by ignoring the situation. While that has allowed them to postpone accountability, it should not be acceptable to any voter/taxpayer in the district.

    If the voters of District 209 voted to dissolve the district, the ISBE would have little to say in the matter. Their function would be to operate the schools until the communities were ready to move forward with whatever plans they arrive at to provide high school ecucation for their students. I can't say what form those plans would take. What I can say is that dissolution is the best hope for the future of all 10 communities to retain their citizens, relieve their elementary systems, and restore high school education to its rightful place in their community.

    Perhaps you can explain how E. St. Louis is relevant to this discussion?

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 8:14 AM, January 19, 2006  

  • rehctaw:

    You misunderstood me: this has absolutely nothing to do with poverty, but performance in the schools. The ISBE has been warning schools about the consequences of low-performance schools. They are absolutely waiting for an opportunity to come into a district and show they mean business. Proviso, being so close to Chicago, is an excellent example to put out there for other districts to see.

    When the ISBE came into East St. Louis, they got rid of the administration. They also established what would be taught and how it would be taught. Teachers had absolutely NO control over how their classrooms functioned. In effect, they ended up punishing those who had no part in the operations of the district.

    Is that what you think should happen in District 209? Punish the teachers - those who work tirelessly with students whose skills do not measure up to the state's definition of 9th/10th/11th/12th abilities? You appear to be all-too assuming that every part of the school district is a failure. What do you attribute to our teachers who win national awards - pure dumb luck? C'mon, take a deep breath and ask yourself instead of throwing everything in the trash, why not just throw away the garbage - the old, worn-out items - and keep and celebrate the new, fresh, never goes out of style items?

    By Blogger thisisahoot, at 2:06 PM, January 19, 2006  

  • If 209 retained a preponderance of students, measuring up would not be an issue. They don't. Parents have voted with their feet and will continue to do so.
    Ask 209 what percentage of their student body is a product of the feeder systems. They don't know, or won't tell. They keep yammering about kids with 4th-6th grade reading levels. Ask them how many high school students live in the district. They will cite current enrollment and not account for the thousands attending private schools. A normal distribution of students is roughly 80-20% public/private. With those numbers, from our feeder systems, 209 would be an average to above average district test-wise.

    So the question becomes; How do you get the students back? There is no incarnation of the current institution that would not repel parents/students.
    Hanging up banners, re-arranging the deck chairs, changing the slogan or even opening an magnet school will not wave a magic wand and put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It's possible, in conjuction with the elementary districts and communities, that a new district (or districts) would enable a non-repulsive high school landscape to emerge.

    There is no impetus for 209 to address its failure. They continue to receive 100% of tax dollars for less than half the kids. They can't be expected to exceed standards overall with sub-standard students. Yes, there is cream within 209 and they manage to succeed. Teachers in 209 DO manage to make huge gains with the students they get. There are good teachers in the district, doing good things for students, but the sad truth is that regardless of the bright spots, the schools fail to provide an acceptable product for public consumption and are not worthy of continued support under the current structure.

    209 is an ongoing insult to taxpayers, parents, students and communities. I commend those trying to make the best of a bad situation, but that does not justify continuation of the bad situation when fixing it should be the number 1 priority.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 3:22 PM, January 19, 2006  

  • Look, I've given this some thought and I do believe that we need to do what Richie Daley did--take over the District 209. throw the bums out (elected board) and regroup. All of the money in world would not help this district. Let's take a tip from Chicago and get it right. This ain't working.

    By Anonymous ab of bellwood, at 11:52 PM, January 19, 2006  

  • ab,
    There's the rub. We don't have a Richie Daley. For your plan, you would have to slate candidates for the school board either in an election year that has a majority of seats up for grabs or spread out over two or more election cycles and "take control" that way.

    Dissolution would require either the elected school board placing the proposal on the ballot or petitions from a majority of the registered voters of the district.

    It's a daunting task to think about. Getting over 36,000 signatures. Then again, that's only 3600 from each of the 10 communities. It would take organization and coordination, but the end result would be to finally have the question before the voters.

    Let it continue to disserve the district or pull the plug.

    Until that question is asked and answered, the schools will be plagued by a lack of support.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 7:53 AM, January 20, 2006  

  • a great idea and a huge effort. the problems for proviso are so many and so great that their solutions will likely be more bit by bit than will be easy to tolerate. it would be good if at least one speaker came from a background where progress from low levels occurred.

    By Anonymous caresabouteducation, at 8:38 AM, January 20, 2006  

  • Ms. Coffee (apparently you are not black coffee) your comment on my statement about the school district seems very hypocritical. Are you the one who stated really negative statements about Gilchrist and insulted him because he was once was a shop teacher. Would you insult a PE teacher or a Home Economics teacher? I believe Gilchrist has a doctorate in education. What do you have? Do you have a PHD in education. Oh, and also haven't you stated other really negative comments about administrators at Proviso, especially Jackson and Gilchrist. It seems that you also harp on people, especially Black educated men. You seem to know alot about Proviso. Are you a retired angry teacher? Are you a current lazy just getting a check teacher? Maybe apart of their loosy teachers union? Are you in Welchs fan club? If so good for you, you have a right to cheer for whom ever you want and I have a right to HARP ON A DUMB CEO, Libka!

    Everyone that knows about education knows that it starts at the top. When Proviso brings in a real leader things will get better. As long as they have JOE ROCK HEAD LIBKA and CAN I GET A CONTRACT AND JOB WELCH it will not get better. The teachers know that accountability does not matter because the board sent that message my hiring a nonqualified CEO! He can't even answer question for reporters. HE IS AN IDIOT! Why does Proviso have a MORON running the school? What has he done to motivate teachers or students?

    You stated that Jackson did everything Welch and Kelly wanted, then answer why did the Coward Welch vote to fire Jackson HUH? CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE. Before you talk about negatives, you need to check your record on what you have said. I have no shame in my game stating that LIBKA AND WELCH ARE BOTH IDIOTS and they do not have their best interest in PROVISO.

    What seems interesting is that you have know of history about Proviso, Provenzano. You seem like an his-storian with alot of bias information.

    I can harp until the fat lady sings, and Welch has not sung yet! LIBKA AND WELCH MUST GO! I think that it is a legitimate solution to cleaning up Proviso. IT MUST START AT THE TOP! WE NEED BETTER LEADERS!

    Also, your solution on consulting with teachers is ridiculous. The population of teachers do not reflect the population of students. We need emergency help form the outside! Hey, why don't your run for school board, Oh I forgot you don't live in the district.
    Also, some of the tired, lazy teachers need to get their asses out of PRoviso also. Do you fit in that category Ms. Coffee? If so, get to packing! Maybe, you need to stop drinking coffee your teeth are begining to rot and your breath smells. Try drinking from the fountain of youth! You need to drink a cup of reality!

    By Blogger Crome_Dome, at 4:41 PM, January 20, 2006  

  • Crome Dome: Why do you have a problem with consulting the teachers for ideas or to assist in compiling a list of priorities? No, the teachers do not reflect the students in the district...I really don't know if you are talking race, socioeconomic or family structure. That is the hard truth in our occupation today, but I do believe that we display attributes and characteristics for students to model. And I wish you would rethink your comment about lazy teachers - they're not limited to 209. Don't write such blanket statements because of your frustration for a few.

    By Blogger thisisahoot, at 9:13 PM, January 20, 2006  

  • Thisisahoot I have a couple of questions for you. Why is it that Board members don't even send their children to Proviso? Why is it that Proviso gets the teachers that were not able to get hired at the high achieving schools? Why is it when I walk in Proviso to check up on my kids I see teachers reading the paper, children running around, teachers not teaching and guess what this happened on take your parents to school day.
    Okay maybe I was not fair in saying teachers, but I did not mean ALL teachers. There are some good teachers at Proviso. But the standards have been lowered at PRoviso and that includes even in the hiring process of teachers! Proviso has a Human Resource Manager that does not even have an educatioal background or a degree. How can she be over hiring teachers? She was a damn secretary. But at Proviso no one is held accountable, not even the teachers. I am sure the community did not know about the unqualified Human Resource Manager. Mostly all school districts have a former teacher or someone with an educational background in charge of the hiring process.

    Also, I assuming Thisisahoot is a teacher beacause you state "we" in your comment. If you do not fit the category of being a lazy teacher don't take it personal. But in Proviso the quality of teachers that they have is a problem. How many qualified or over qualified teachers are in the district 209? Oak Park River Forest list their teacher stats on their website. Find Proviso stats. Why do the teachers that teach at the Magnet schoool must have a Masters to teach at the Magnet School? Proviso has teachers that need tutors to pass their content area State Test.

    I will scream this until the cows come running...IT STARTS AT THE TOP WITH THE SUPT. When he is made accountable and the Board finds a qualified PROVEN LEADER (Not WELCH)
    Then they will get better!

    By Blogger Crome_Dome, at 9:29 PM, January 20, 2006  

  • Crome Dome:

    Thank you for the confirmation that some of us do a good job (I was ready to give you directions to come see ME doing my job.) I agree with you wholeheartedly, and believe me, there have been many times I've pulled out the resume to send out to disticts. What has stopped me is one of the problems that Proviso has. Proviso is a revolving door for teachers - they stay until they get a better job somewhere else. We have lost MANY good teachers because they didn't know what to expect the next year about their job, the leadership in the schools, etc. In addition to your list of changes that need to be made to the district, you should add one - to give teachers a reason to stay.

    By Blogger thisisahoot, at 8:58 PM, January 21, 2006  

  • Quick recap:
    thisisahoot:
    My only request would be to not allow anyone with a negative voice to contribute. Absolutely nothing has been accomplished around here as a result of the mud slinging I have read. In fact, it has sickened me.
    MsCoffee:
    We can't change politics at Proviso, but perhaps we can work within it.
    CromeDome:
    PROVISO NEEDS A LEADER EXEMPT FROM POLITICAL TIES!
    I said:
    If District 209 were dissolved it would allow the 10 communities to play an active role in
    the future rather than waiting for the board and administrators to find a solution.
    thisisahoot:
    They (The ISBE) are absolutely waiting for an opportunity to come into a district and show they mean business. Proviso, being so close to Chicago, is an excellent example to put out there for other districts to see. You appear to be all-too assuming that every part of the school district is a failure. What do you attribute to our teachers who win national awards - pure dumb luck? C'mon, take a deep breath and ask yourself instead of throwing everything in the trash, why not just throw away the garbage - the old, worn-out items - and keep and celebrate the new, fresh, never goes out of style items?

    Why do you have a problem with consulting the teachers for ideas or to assist in compiling a list of priorities? No, the teachers do not reflect the students in the district...I really don't know if you are talking race, socioeconomic or family structure. That is the hard truth in our occupation today, but I do believe that we display attributes and characteristics for students to model. And I wish you would rethink your comment about lazy teachers - they're not limited to 209. Don't write such blanket statements because of your frustration for a few.

    Thank you for the confirmation that some of us do a good job (I was ready to give you directions to come see ME doing my job.) I agree with you wholeheartedly, and believe me, there have been many times I've pulled out the resume to send out to disticts. What has stopped me is one of the problems that Proviso has. Proviso is a revolving door for teachers - they stay until they get a better job somewhere else. We have lost MANY good teachers because they didn't know what to expect the next year about their job, the leadership in the schools, etc. In addition to your list of changes that need to be made to the district, you should add one - to give teachers a reason to stay.

    MsCoffee:
    We don't want the State to come in and take over. We want to be able to tailor our school to the community's need.


    If the state were to come in as result of a dissolution vote, the would not be taking over, they would be administering the transition.
    Dissolution would not result in teachers or programs being shit-canned indiscriminately. The two schools, (well three technically), would continue to operate.
    When schools are turned back over to the new structure, they will likely need more rather than fewer teachers due to increased enrollment by bringing students back to public education and attracting students to a district or districts without the baggage of 209.
    It would temporarily remove the existing politics of running the schools, which would allow selection of leaders who are exempt from political ties, and WOULD instantly change the politics at Proviso, since District 209 would no longer exist.

    How better to foster and invigorate a sense of hope among the communities than declare that from this point forward, we can toss out the garbage and accept only what it is the school community's best interest? How better to cleanse the taint, remove the clouds of petty corruption and vindictiveness and remove the stigma of failure that plague the current district? Or more to the point HOW ELSE to accomplish what needs to be done?

    There isn't much credible debate that large, impersonal "big box" mega-schools are the best educational environment. The movement to "schools within schools" are a clumbsy substitute for correctly thought out and conceived school buildings and the enrollments they can reasonably accomodate. If 209 were properly and wisely administered, there would need to be at least 4 to 6 campii in the district offering the kind of A-Z curriculae which I believe we all agree would be a wonderful opportunity for all concerned.

    Dissolution would require a complete audit and evaluation of the district's assets and liabilities, both tangible and non-tangible. The eventual "solutions" would be the result of hard work put in by people who believe in both the value of public education and the need to provide the best our money can provide. (Two sentiments woefully lacking in the current power structure).

    I am not coming up with this stuff out of my ass or without long study and thought. I've done the homework, I would suggest that prior to dismissing it out-of-hand, you, too, do a little homework
    and consider the potential benefits. It's tough to be a teacher within a failed institution unless you accept that the failure has been out of your control. Imagine being part of an actual process that seeks to set out the principles that led you into public education to begin with and takes the steps necessary to accomplish those goals.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 9:20 AM, January 22, 2006  

  • erhctaw: I think we share a common philosophy and want the same for the district. I appreciate that you are one of a few that actually has done their homework and contributes to this blog with facts (not talking out of their...) When I talk of the what the ISBE may do, I have also done my homework.

    It goes beyond this school district or that one. Illinois is lousy with education. They rank at the bottom in so many areas and don't seem to care. Sure, they have programs that are supposed to keep the districts in line, but do they? It is just one failed program after another that doesn't help anyone. If they came in, we can't guarantee they would assist the communities in developing sound practices and programs to better the students. They may come in and direct, or not allow the communities much say in selecting their school leaders.

    Gee, I realized I could have been talking about Proviso right now!

    I appreciate your comments.

    By Blogger thisisahoot, at 3:39 PM, January 22, 2006  

  • 209 is a big ship. Too big to turn and respond to educational needs. This is further exacerbated by the political tug-of-war and the divergent needs of 10 semi-unique communities.

    They rightfully must deal with the students who come through the doors, but that doesn't erase responsibility for those who don't.

    209's 14-18 demographics are out of line with the norm, and they refuse to account or take responsibility for the discrepancy.
    Any district resident could explain the skewed numbers. The watch their friends and neighbors pack and move out of the district as their kids get close to high-school age.

    The feeder districts deal with the effects of 209 on their enrollments as well, experiencing a constant reloading of JK-6th grade classes and the multi-faceted stresses that not having an acceptable public high school option put on their school communities.

    Some like to frame the high school as seperate from other community level problems, but its effects are felt at all levels of life.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 7:19 AM, January 23, 2006  

  • hoot-
    The ISBE function, by design, looks for one-size-fits-all solutions. Who or what holds sway at a given point in time becomes the standard that all districts must strive to achieve. Districts that consistently exceed standards do not have to fight the same battles as those who do not. The ISBE also builds in an abundance of fudge factors in response to political pressures. So yes, it is a flawed process. That is not the same as a failed institution.
    Dissolution would not require the ISBE’s assistance, only their oversight and eventual approval for the community’s solutions. Their function in the re-organization of District 209, failed programs notwithstanding, would allow, for example, the unification of Northlake and Stone Park into one high school. (Assuming that is what is determined to be in the community’s best educational interests)
    It would put communities on equal footing to a large extent. They would not necessarily have to “go along” with what the big dog towns of Maywood, Melrose and Bellwood decide to do.
    There are some practical and logistical considerations regarding the current holdings, in that, the district has three standing schools that may or may not become the centers around which the new district or districts take form. Though it’s probably safe to assume that, at least, East and West will become attendance centers.
    Any number of “solutions” can be explored. Any one of which seems preferable to simply continuing 209’s life-support so that it can disserve the citizens of the district for another 30 years.
    We shouldn’t be afraid to explore better answers than that.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 10:36 AM, January 23, 2006  

  • I guess we've reached the end of this discussion?

    I contacted Carl to see if it would be possible to make this topic more visible, keep it around past January 31st, or otherwise make it accessible to a wider audience.

    We're two lines away from obscurity now, so it's unlikely this will survive.

    I'd just like to say it's been interesting and illustrative of the problem with 209 in general. There is no forum for correction or improvement except within the accepted power structure. Ordinary citizens, who should have a vested interest in the ongoing failure, are left to only hope for solutions.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 5:22 PM, January 25, 2006  

  • Where'd everybody go?

    What improvements to the current structure can be made to remove the stigma and repellant nature of Proviso East and West on community residents?

    To dip into the tainted/poison well analogy once more, what would motivate parents and students to expend their one opportunity for high school on a system that has failed to improve regardless of the attempted changes?

    How does maintaining their ACT average of 16.? while expanding the number of students taking the ACT test reflect on progress being made or not made in the schools?

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 12:11 PM, January 28, 2006  

  • It's good to know that all problems have been solved, all students are meeting standards, all finances are in order and there is no need for an education discussion topic.

    Why is it that when elections loom, the impact of 209 on the area becomes a taboo subject?

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 5:02 PM, January 31, 2006  

  • I think in order to improve the school system - D209 -the elimination of elected school board members need to occur. I think we need to turn to a format which is used by the city (Chicago). The school district should be under the leadership of the mayor. I believe politics will always be a part of the educational system, but this model ( the city) would streamline the power source. Instead of having 7 school board members fighting amongst themselves every two years ( election), the school superintendent would be the point person or Department head and report directly to the Mayor. One of the reasons things do not get done in Proviso because every two years a new majority might occur - coming in with so-call new ideals and directions - which led to folks getting fired , hired, new vendors. By the time things seems to be moving in the "right direction" it is time for another election. NO CONSISTENCY. Alot of folks - especially blacks who have come from the westside or southside of Chicago, move into Proviso automatically thinking that the school is under the leadership of the Mayor. Just like the park district. Do the Park District need an elected board, no. If the park is in bellwood it should be under the Bellwood Mayor. Do memorial park district need a police force, naw. The mayor could take that money and hire more real police officers. Hell, Memorial Park Police Department is the only park district police force in the State of Illinois. There is way too many taxing bodies - Everybody wants to be the chief. In order to acheive my ideal, towns like Bellwood who do not have a high school would have to create its own or work out an agreement with other surrounding towns or be allowed by the state to create their own.( Hey readers I am thinking outside of the box). The School District, Park District, Library board, should all fall under the mayor and s/he in turn appoints qualified department heads/superintendent to manage the department. This would eliminate some of the mess we are dealing with, especially with our school system. However, the best way to improve our school system is to get in the ASS of some of these lazy parents/guardians of the students and hold them more accountable for their child's success in school.

    By Anonymous in the midst of the storm, at 8:56 PM, February 20, 2006  

  • Midst,

    You're on the right heading, but your "solution" has serious defects. Are you suggesting that the Maywood Mayor should control P. East and Hillside's Mayor should control P. West? That would leave 8 communities with absolutely no say in decisions affecting schools their taxes built and pay for? How do you reconcile accounts with the towns who currently own the districts assets? Will Maywood and Hillside simply each assume half of the district's debt load?

    It's also not possible under current state law. A municipality must have a population over 500,000 to operate like Chicago does. Since Chicago is the ONLY municipality in Illinois in that census band, clearly the law was written FOR Chicago; ONLY. That does suggest that a law could be written that would be unique to Proviso's circumstances, but the odds of that happening are slim. There's no impetus for legislators to act.

    There are only two possible avenues for a resolution; Internal and External. Internal has failed to achieve an acceptable product, so it would seem to fall on external forces to bring about needed changes.
    How can 10 communities -whose ONLY connection is their common disconnection from the public high schools their taxes pay for- get together at a community level to force the issue? Would it require "committees of ten" from each? If so, how could such an effort be coordinated when the only platform operating in common is the existing structure?

    But it's always a good first step to admit that there is a serious problem that needs fixing.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 7:13 AM, February 24, 2006  

  • rehctaw, how would disolution of the board work for a smaller district- say SD89 or SD88? What criteria would be required to include on the November ballot to rid a school district of corrupt board members - board members who do not have the children in mind.

    By Anonymous 11 days to go, at 10:35 PM, March 09, 2006  

  • 11 days,
    In theory it would work the same way.
    Illinois School Code:
    Sec. 11E-35. Petition filing.
    *The rules were changed in December*
    (a) Petitioners. A petition shall be filed with the regional superintendent of schools of the educational service region in which the territory described in the petition or that part of the territory with the greater percentage of equalized assessed valuation is situated. The petition must:
    (1)Be signed by at least 50 legal resident voters or 10% of the legal resident voters, whichever is lesser, residing within each affected district; or
    (2) Be approved by the boards of education in each affected district.

    I haven't had the changes translated into layman's terms, but from the above, on face, the process has been simplified.

    2006 could be an interesting year.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 7:37 AM, March 13, 2006  

  • Wow rehctaw:

    I just saw the continuation of the comments we posted on the side of the from page of Proviso Probe...I, too, was saddened that our discussions couldn't continue. Though I am not from the area, I am keeping a watchful (and fearful) eye on the election and what effect the outcome will have on District 209.

    To kind of go down a different avenue of what Proviso should do about education, why not talk about the fights and the loss of valuable time in the classroom teaching and learning? Nine fights in the last two days...What are the powers that be doing to address this? What message is being sent to students who fight - get a ten-day "break", come back and pick up where you left off? I know it sounds harsh, but maybe expelling about 25 or 50 of them for a year might send a message to the kids and parents. It might also reassure some teachers that the schools are about learning.

    By Blogger thisisahoot, at 7:49 PM, March 15, 2006  

  • I think 209 tosses more than 25 or 30 students every year as it is. In addition they lose another 100+ either because the parents don't want them tossed or because the parents realize 209 is not an environment in which they want their teenager. Having the actual numbers would be beneficial to these discussions.

    Yearly attrition rates in 209 are staggering. Drop-outs, transfers, chronic truants, expulsions and others who fall off the rolls should be a major area of concern.
    I suspect there is a healthy attrition rate among teachers as well.

    The preponderance of activity at East and West is ostensibly about learning. Fighting is just one of the many side-shows. That goes for students AND staff.
    Any distractions from learning should be identified and addressed. They tend to feed off each other and snowball. It would also help if "learning" was something you could apply universally, but sadly....

    Proviso schools start every year in a hole. They carry decades old baggage and both past and present failures into each new day. They begin each year missing close to half the students who could/should
    be attending. This is another area in which actual numbers would help. Does anybody really know how many high schools students live in District 209? From my perspective, this factoid is of vital importance to any discussion of Proviso.

    But I digress... back to the fighting... It should be said that every high school has it's fights. I could probably make a case that Proviso's problems in this area are mitigated by the absence of the students mentioned above. I would think the racial components present in most typical high schools are near absent or, at minimum, greatly diminished.

    Still teens will be teens and some feel it necessary to be morons. I think options are a more effective deterrent than punishment. One, two or even three centers that do pretty much the same things, in the same ways does not strike me as the best bang for the very big bucks we "invest" in education.

    As a parent whose last child will graduate in a few months from a school other than Proviso, my opinion is that we made the right decision. We had options and exercised them. My fight with 209 can begin again in earnest. This was never really about my kids anyway. I made sure they'd be okay. Isn't that what every parent wants? Not to hope for the best, but to make sure of it?

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 5:09 PM, March 17, 2006  

  • rehctaw:

    I still believe that 25 or 30 kids booted out isn't enough. You know why 100 kids transfer at the end of each year? You said yourself because the parents want better opportunities for their kids. Its kind of sad when the opportunities are at Proviso but the nonsense overrides it all.

    When I am spending part of my class time to calm kids after seeing a fight in the cafeteria or in the hall, our time is wasted. When I have kids suspended 10 days at a time, and then they come back and expect me to bend over backwards to get them caught up, only for them to be suspended again, our time is wasted. When I have four or five students that deserve more than I can give because I'm dealing with the nonsense in the room, then our time is wasted.

    Does it sound a little harsh? Yeah. Do I care? Yeah, I care about preparing my students to be productive adults. It would be nice if the administation did too. There have been some welcome changes, but there are also some things that have just stayed the same. Having some morning set aside to prep with fellow teacher is nice, but having a few less troublemakers in the hallways is...priceless.

    By Blogger thisisahoot, at 2:39 PM, March 28, 2006  

  • Hoot,

    I appreciate your efforts, I truly do. I consider the educators in Dist. 209's work to be an overachievement not only for the reasons you cite, but for the lack of uncivility that dominates the district.
    Considering the anger, resentment and hostility that must be supressed, just to make it through the day, this is a monumental accomplishment. To be part of a failed institution, whether as a teacher, student or apologist, to try to build pride with very little building material is a herculean task. If someone could build a virtual Proviso high school that showed what the school would be if the majority of kids didn't go somewhere else, it might open some eyes. Instead, we keep rearranging the dickheads, I mean deckchairs, and try to paint Proviso as normal.

    Imagine teaching in a classroom dominated by average to above average students. Imagine teaching when the kids, through happenstance of geographical-political borders, aren't carrying a very large chip on their shoulder just from being in such a dismal educational environment. Imagine teaching in an environment in which being smart is not something kids have to hide under a bushel basket to fit in. Where average is not curved, well... bent to accomodate the reality of the situation. Can you see it? Can you see 209 reaching that place? EVER?

    To be a beacon for all concerned, I don't see any changes that can be accomplished internally. In any regard, restoration is not a viable option. It requires something new, or at minimum reconstituted and connected to the stakeholders. The board and administration can try to externalize things. They can blame the "community" and call those who don't support the schools racists, but they can't change anything without the community behind them and calling us names does not strike me as part of the building process.

    Now, since we're in imagination mode, contemplate the potential input and support for true-community based reform. Voters willing to support a fresh start. Removing the stigma, both earned and projected, from the facilities, staff and reputation. Do you think there would be community level interest in something like that?

    PMSA was an "answer" to a problem the district DID NOT have. The district's above average students were/are doing just fine both in 209 or wherever they landed after elementary school. But to be an average student in 209 is a no-win situation. The school is depending on you to carry the academic load, with minimal assistance due to the time demands you sketched out. The rest of the student body busts you out for being a serious student. You begin to wait for the rest of the class to catch up, while you watch your average peers in "normal" schools surge ahead. By semester's end you've had to work twice as hard to get half as far. How long before you give up? Or at minimum reduce your effort to continually over-achieve?

    Then you manage to graduate and enroll in college level courses but you're short on proficiency, confidence and are conditioned to "education" Proviso style in an environment that contains the whole class that Proviso didn't. Now rather than being an average student in a school dominated by below average students, you're even more squeezed from both sides. The slack you "earned" from teachers because you weren't a troublemaker doesn't exist. You don't get points just for showing up. I give the teachers at Proviso credit for all they accomplish. I give the students who manage to overcome the difficulties even more credit, but it shouldn't be that way. Especially on the taxpayers dime.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 1:40 PM, March 30, 2006  

  • nirvana-seeking teacher says:

    rehctaw: I wouldn't care what the ability of the students, as long as I could teach. I think the ISBE needs to come in and clean house. Get rid of every administrator in the whole district. If they have teaching certificates, they can come back into the classroom. If not, goodbye. The ISBE would dictate who is hired for what and they wouldn't listen to anyone from surrounding communities (and their relatives). Help! Save us!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:05 PM, April 25, 2006  

  • nirvana-seeking teacher, et al.

    Two sides of the same problem, in which the resolution to one provides solution to many. The challenge is getting that first domino to fall.
    I do appreciate your devotion to your avocation. Teaching truly is a calling. I also know that your task prevents you from the kind of articulation and interaction
    with PT's feeder districts that would show the true potential at stake.

    The present situation is one in which almost everybody loses. Teachers, students and communities are saddled with a continuing failure over which they have no control.
    On this I think we can all agree; the sliver who presently win in this equation and who fight tooth and nail to hang on to their winning formula, must be banished.
    No amount of tinkering or adjustment will fix what is wrong with the district. It's well past time that the teachers, students and communities demand REAL solutions.
    There is no magic wand, no "Miracle Max" who can bring 209 back to life. It's time for a radical altering of thinking for the sake of the stakeholders.

    My questions to you (or anyone with an answer) is how can the stakeholders be brought together so that the board and it's "shot-callers" can no longer play us against each other?
    How can a political solution be attained without politicians willing to take a stand for their constituents rather than their monied interests?
    Resolving the district's problems isn't a threat to teachers. It stands to reason that more students would require even more teachers. What is best for Westchester, Maywood, Hillside, Forest Park, Broadview,
    Berkeley, Bellwood, Melrose Park, Stone Park or Northlake is not mutually exclusive. Creating a district or districts CONNECTED to the community in ways deeper than sending the band to march and play at community events cannot help but make us better neighbors? Creating schools that are supported by the taxpayers in ways far more important than the dollars they send? Creating schools in which time is not wasted trying to justify its existence? Where every day isn't spent carting 40 years of unresolved issues and distrust while trying to put a positive spin on things?

    At the end of the day, you wipe the blackboard clean. It would be silly to just write on top of yesterday's lesson. It would quickly becomes illegible, incomprehensible and impossible to understand.
    The issue has been falsely labeled as racial. Why can't people see that the only students hurt by perpetuation of a failed institution are those with no other options? You can bet the students understand this lesson.
    NOBODY deserves less than what is possible.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 4:23 PM, April 27, 2006  

  • We can blame our crappy schools on alot of things, but the children who are doing good in school I will bet are at home nights doing homework and being supervised by a parent. I also know that alot of the kids in the 209 district do not live in the district. I know alot of people who pay alot of taxes for this district and would never in a million years send their kid to one of the schools, I for one opt for private. I think proviso is a lost cause, and it is a shame, but a lost cause it is.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:24 PM, April 30, 2006  

  • I think first and foremost there should be people that know the job weather it be in the school with our children or in the offices were the so called teachers are being hired. The so called higher up(you know them, the people in charge). There are not very good leaders themselves, there passing the buck and not fulfilling their oath. I fill we need to find out what's really going on, we need to become more involved with the decision makeing process, and I feel that if your right and on the up and up, you won't mind me being involved. Unless you have something to hide.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:48 PM, May 12, 2006  

  • anonymous 1:48:

    Please proofread(or have someone else proofread) before you even dare write something down about so-called teachers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:25 PM, May 13, 2006  

  • Ahhh Commencement!

    I watched with pride as my son accepted his diploma, knowing he is fully prepared for the next step.

    He graduated with nine others with whom he has attended school since Junior Kindergarden. Other area commencements were held that reflected the same lopsided disheartening numbers. Of a class of nearly 200 first graders, only 10 remained together to the end.

    FIVE PERCENT!?!?! This is the best we can do? I'm afraid it is so long as District 209 stands in the way.

    If a pandemic were taking 18 out of 20 kids, you can bet people would be screaming for answers.

    So my son's commencement heralds my own renewed commencement of hostilities with District 209.

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 7:02 AM, May 30, 2006  

  • SD88 has a new Super - word has it she don't take no stuff!!!

    By Anonymous A New Day Has Come..., at 9:05 PM, June 22, 2006  

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