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D41 Board Hears Think Tank Recommendation; Forum Planned Prior to March 11 Vote

A public forum on District 41's Think Tank initiative will be held March 9, prior to the board voting on the measure.

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.

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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

gerri sopyla February 27, 2013 at 03:51 PM
D41patents have done their homework and speak to my concerns much better than I did. Please, Think Tank complete your assignment and show patrons the same dilegence by addressing the d41 parents 4change research.
Mary February 27, 2013 at 08:01 PM
The comments made by Ms. Howard that she felt one group of parents was holding the district hostage were insulting. Just because we disagree with proposed changes and their implementation plans does not mean we are holding anyone hostage. D41 Board members and administrators should care about what the parents think and have the majority of their support before moving forward. A survey should be conducted to determine what the community truely thinks about the proposed changes. That is the only way to know if the majority of parents support the changes, do not support the changes or think a pilot is necessary. Ms. Carlson is correct that not everything the Administration does should be put to a vote or education would go no where. However, the major changes that are being proposed are the type parents should have a say in. If these changes fail, it is our children who will suffer.
David February 27, 2013 at 09:35 PM
I do believe this is being implemented on a whim. There is no measureable benefit or accountability with the new school board leadership or the existing teachers. As far as being held hostage, I feel my dyslexic child will be lost with this change as well as other at risk learners. Now there is a platform for change or specilization. Why not create a dyslexic curriculm?
gerri sopyla March 01, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Would the new superintendent of schools publicly list his prior experience with the sort of changes that are being planned?
Lisa March 02, 2013 at 06:18 PM
I applaud Kelly Hane for comments. I agree that it is baffling that people act as if this initiative is a whim. Our teachers and administrators have a lot of "skin in the game". Their careers are dependent on the efficacy of this initiative. I trust that the highly qualified team of professionals on the think tank have children's best interest in mind. I certainly trust the district's recommendations over a group of parents who primarily consist of non- educators. I would think everyone would welcome a more individualized approach to their children's education. Our schools are under tremendous pressure to document progress (RTI anyone??). This plan appears to address the diverse needs of our students. It allows for intervention when necessary and enrichment activities for all children.

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