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District 41 Parents Petition Against Think Tank Initiative

Parents have started a petition asking Glen Ellyn District 41 to hold off on implementing Think Tank initiative changes in the 2013-14 school year.

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:

To: 
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."

To share information, parents have also created a Facebook group with more than 200 members and a blog, which asks 20 questions why the district is taking its action now.

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. 

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Parent / taxpayer in D41 December 10, 2012 at 06:35 PM
There are many D41 parents in favor of the Think Tank recommendations. As the administration has presented, the school day would start with heterogeneous classes with a mix of academic levels, but then allow more time for students to get instruction tailored to their specific academic needs -- an expansion of our current TLT concept. This combination is fair to all students, and will allow for some students to get the challenge they need, and others to get the help they need. Integrated STEM education, "just right" instruction time, and an increased emphasis on problem-based learning will better prepare our students to compete in college and the job market. Change can be a shock, but there are real benefits here and I hope parents will keep an open mind as the recommendations are refined.
Kevin December 10, 2012 at 06:55 PM
This article could use some updates before the meeting tonight. Six hours after the story was posted the number of signatures on the petition has grown to over 150. IF you have done any type of research on the subject you would know that nothing that has been proposed is innovative or proactive much less cutting edge. This group appears to have done their homework and has years of experience in the classroom to back up what they say. While I applaud the time and effort of the people involved in the Think Tank process what bothers me the most is that valid research and pedagogy was completely ignored or downplayed and anyone who might challenge the Think Tank initiative has been made to feel inferior or not believing in the process. Decide for yourself: ATTEND the board meeting tonight at Hadley at 7:15 p.m.
Mary December 10, 2012 at 09:23 PM
I do not think anyone has an issue with Integrated STEM education or an increased emphasis on problem-based learning. The issue most people have is relating to the ability based grouping that is proposed. After attending the two parent sessions led by Ann Reibock and Karen Carlson, it is clear to me both the Literacy block and the Math/STEM block will be ability based group. They can spin it however they like but that is what they are going to do. They have provided no support, such as studies, supporting what they want to do. It is not new. There are multiple studies that have proven ability based grouping for the majority of core instruction time is not beneficial to the majority of students. Students grouped by ability never aspire to their full potential. I cannot believe all the studies I have read are incorrect.
JB December 13, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I've seen in other states where the district took 1 of the grammar schools and implemteneted the new learning model for STEM and the other schools followed the existing model. The boundaries would have to be realigned but that could be worked out. The parents that wanted the new method applied for that school and then after its been in place for a period of time the board could vote on whether the entire district should change to the new model or just keep one STEM school in the district. The application process could start early to know if there was enough interest within the district to fill the school. Just a thought for such a divided group.

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