During a recent public meeting, one parent called Glen Ellyn District 41’s plans to implement a "Think Tank" initiative a communication nightmare since many parents knew little about the process and were opposed to the district’s plans to move quickly to implement plans.
While a growing number of parents have come out in favor of educational changes, the opposition against plans to implement changes in the 2013-14 school year does not appear to be subsiding, and now parents have started an online petition seeking to stop the D41 Think Tank initiative.
As of Dec. 9, the group appeared to have gathered 50 online signatures to its petition. (The number of signatures has increased since this story's publication) The online petition specifically states:
Glen Ellyn D41 administration & board members
As a taxpaying citizen of Glen Ellyn School District 41, I am petitioning to stop the district-wide implementation of the proposed Think Tank initiative for the 2013-2014 school year.
Supporting information on the petition page explains to other parents the reasoning for asking the district and board to hold off on pursuing the Think Tank initiative in 2013-14.
We are petitioning the Glen Ellyn District 41 administration and board members to stop the district-wide implementation of the proposed Think Tank initiative to our elementary schools for the 2013-2014 school year. At this time, the D41 administration has not officially communicated a detailed timeline, only that the implementation phase will begin with the 2013 school year. However, several presentations to teachers and parents have indicated the intention of a district-wide rollout of the initiative for the 2013-2014 school year. This is of great concern to many parents and members of the community.
In addition, the explanatory material states that while some parents may not be entirely opposed to the initiative, the group believes most parents would agree that taking more time before implementing changes would be appropriate.
Another issue expressed by the group, which was also raised at a public meeting held last week on the matter, was that Superintendent Ann Riebock is retiring at the end of the year. One parent questioned at the public meeting whether it was prudent to implement changes at a time when a new superintendent would be incoming. At the meeting, Riebock said that the district and Think Tank felt there was no reason not to move forward.
Supporters on the petition page offered a variety of comments on the issue, including:
- Jessica Moran: “I am by no means against change nor am I afraid of it, but I do feel it needs to be done smartly and carefully and all involved have to be on board. I don't feel the district has the best track record with choosing the best alternative learning programs for our children (ie., everyday math, words your way), so I feel it is extremely important that the district has all their "T's" crossed before implementing any new program involving our children.”
- Amy Hasso: “I don't agree with the concept and think they are rushing into it without thinking.”
- Tina Brefeld: “This model has yet to be proven as to be in the best interest of our children and bringing them into "21st century learning."
At a public forum held on Dec. 4, Riebock said the district hopes to have a plan in place to be presented to the board in the spring. It remains to be seen whether the Board of Education would take a formal action and vote on the changes or only affirm the Think Tank decision, Riebock said, adding that the district would not want to move forward with something without board support.
The Think Tank was convened about 18 months ago and is comprised of teachers and some parents. The focus of the group was to begin researching and planning how the district would address educating its students to meet the increased focus on 21st-century learning or science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, which will be emphasized in common core standards.
The District 41 Board of Education will meet at 7:15 p.m. Monday at Hadley Junior High School in the library learning center. The meeting was originally scheduled to be held at the district offices, but was moved to accommodate more members of the public. The Think Tank initiative is slated as a board discussion item.