Parents, some forced to stand, filled the library at Hadley Junior High Monday night as the Glen Ellyn School District 41 Board of Education received the final Think Tank initiative recommendation from district officials.
The recommendation was made during the board’s business meeting Monday and the presentation, question and answer period, along with public comment lasted roughly three hours.
The presentation included a high-level overview of the plans for implementation as well as feedback from the elementary school principals, who explained how the program would be implemented in the schools.
Karen Carlson, assistant superintendent for teaching, learning & accountability made the presentation to the board. The presentation included the reasons for change, rationale and plans for implementation at the district. That information can be found here.
The elementary schools all plan to implement the initiative differently based on readiness and staffing, which raised concerns among some of the school board members. (Details available here.)
The district is planning partial implementation at most of the schools, with Abraham Lincoln the only school that felt ready to move forward with full implementation.
Board Member Sam Black said that he was concerned that with partial implementation students in one school would be receiving certain instruction, while children in other schools would not. At some point, he said he was concerned they wouldn’t be at the same place later in their education.
“From an instructional perspective, all kids will get the same thing, the modules will be the same,” Carlson said. “The structure gives us a great ability to meet those needs. We believe by teacher specialization and multiage we can achieve better results with that.”
In a follow up question Carlson was asked if students are getting the same instruction without specialization, why is the district grouping students.
“The hope is by increasing the number of teachers teaching or grouping them [students] in such a way, that we will be able to make it more tailored to each child’s individual needs,” Carlson said.
Several board members said they hoped all of the teachers were prepared for specialization and questioned why some felt ready and others didn’t.
Carlson said the teachers were working very hard to move forward toward specialization.
Black was also concerned that parents weren’t brought into the process sooner.
“We have looked at things for the last 18 months,” Carlson said. “If we put everything to a vote, I am not sure we would have made any progress over the last 30 years or would make any progress.”
Board Member Terra Costa Howard said she felt one group of parents was holding the district hostage, “because one group doesn’t like what is being done. … And, the world doesn’t work like that.”
Parents were given the opportunity to comment and those comments reiterated points made at prior meetings including: the district was moving forward too quickly; it should consider that teachers aren’t comfortable with what is being suggested based on teacher survey results; teachers don’t have enough time to prepare before implementation and that without any measurable data or a pilot it’s unknown whether the initiative would really be beneficial to students.
The board did hear from a parent, Kelly Hane, who was in favor of the implementing Think Tank. She said she didn’t think that traditional elementary school education is going to be enough to prepare children for their futures.
“I feel very strongly that this initiative will only enhance the good solid education our students are receiving,” she said. “I am surprised at the lack of trust in the district and administrators to do what is right for students. I don’t think they are doing this on a whim.”
Parents with students in Glen Ellyn School District 41 will have a few more opportunities to learn more about and provide feedback on the district’s Think Tank initiative before the board of education votes on the matter on March 11.
The District 41 Board of Education will host a community forum on the Think Tank proposals on Saturday, March 9 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. The forum will be held at the Hadley Junior High library, 240 Hawthorne Blvd. Each elementary school will hold a parent session between the dates of Feb. 25 and March 8.
Read more about the Think Tank
D41 Receiving Think Tank Recommendation Monday Night
District 41 Parents Petition Against Think Tank Initiative
D41 Think Tank Discussions Continue; More Meetings Expected
Parents Take Issue with 'When' Not 'If' Plans for District 41 Classroom Changes