Friday, September 10, 2004

Peoria School District #150

In response to a second guesser, Abraham Lincoln said “Be assured, dear sir, there are men who think you are performing your part as poorly as you think I am performing mine”. Today he would have said “men and women and others” to be politically correct.

CY, the Cynic, was asked, “Does it bother you to be called a cynic”? “No way,” CY replied. “The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by people who lack it.” Anyway, I’m an Optimist. I even belong to the Noon Optimist Club that meets every Tuesday around 11:30 at Barracks Catering located on Pioneer Parkway. Our motto is “Friends of Youth”, and as program chair this month, I invited Peoria School District 150 newest seated board member, Mary Spangler, to be our speaker. Her subject was “Moving Forward.” Bob Carruthers, was Mary’s guest. Bob has returned to Dist 150 as Head of Student Affairs and he also addressed us. Both speakers sincerity left us optimistic about the future of our cities public schools. On Tuesday, September 28, “Chuck” Fabish, Interim Superintendent will be our speaker and his topic will be “Education First in District 150.” Our meetings are open to the public and potential members have their delicious buffet paid for by the club on their initial visit.

A lot of decision makers at District 150 appear to be “working on the same page.” This is refreshing. My experience with Chuck & Ken and the majority of the Board members, makes me believe that Principals will be given more authority and the voices of good teachers will be heard. Better discipline and more parental involvement are some of their major goals. They believe that all kids should be given the same opportunity, and the tools they need to achieve, but acknowledge that not all kids are going to go to college and hold white collar jobs. I believe that they will be putting a greater emphasis on developing skills that will make more kids hirable and, when ready for parenthood, better parents

Quoting from an article written by Rod Paige, Secretary of Education and appearing in the 7/15/04 edition of the Wall Street Journal, “Millions of children have been pushed through the school system in years past with little regard as to whether they have learned.” None of my friends believe in social promotion. I believe most board members and Regional Superintendent Dr. Jerry Brookhart, do not agree with “social promotion”. Secretary Paige, a lifelong member of the NAACP further states “Sadly, the current NAACP leadership has managed to take a proud, effective organization in a totally new direction: naked partisan politics, pure and simple.” He could be speaking about the direction of the local organization leadership. Fortunately, my African-American friends say that the local NAACP seldom speaks from their viewpoint.

Maybe under new leadership and more diversity training, everyone responsible will get on the same page and the perception of Peoria Public Schools will be such that newcomers will want to reside in urban Peoria.

I leave this site with this thought – “self esteem isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, as a brief recounting of Ex-Senator Bob Torricelli’s career would usefully illustrate, it can be a huge part of the problem.” “Time Magazine 10/14/02.)” I mention this because the “modern educator” went overboard on this subject, setting Peoria and the whole country a large step backwards. I was always taught “self esteem” was something you earned and not just given. I hope the new and old District 150 School System administration agrees!!


Anonymous said...

As a 5 year new-comer to Peoria, I have observed Dist. 150 discipline problem fron the inside. As a former Greeley Alternative School employee, in charge of discipline (student improvement)I seem to remember predicting a rash of future discipline problems to Mr. Greer, the day that I resigned from said position in 2001. It is my belief that discipline, or lack thereof, doesn't really start at home, it starts in the village from which the child hails. I further believe that the children of any successful village must see examples of success in their village, acheived by members of their respective village & classrooms.
The historic employment and recruitment practices of Dist. 150 has created a situation that has in part caused the discipline problem that the Task Force has been convened to address. Who's idea was it anyway, to employ those teachers that do not represent those that they teach. Beyond that why has it taken so long for the villagers to complain about a system consisting of 68% villagers being taught by a 91% non-villager population. Which leads me to ponder this:
What would the City of Dunlap do, if the children of their village was being taught by non-villagers? I submit that not only would the children present discipline problems, their parents would probably support them in their actions. It is my contention that the entire Central Illinois way of life is not conducive to 68% of the villagers that the district currently serve. I do beleive that parents should be responsible for the proper behavior of their children. However, as an African-American man, with two of the smartest AA students in the state being of my seed, I am uniquely qualified to make the following observation: The city, county and/or district do not want for our little villagers to be the best, they just want them to be quiet.
What the region seems not to realize is that while the underacheiving parents struggle to eek out a living, usually below the War Memorial and poverty line, their children are being raised by icons of the Hip Hop generation.
I recently had an opportunity to listen to a piece of music that I am assigning as a homework assignment for those serving on the district's disciplinary task force: JESUS WALKS by poet and my hommie Kanye West. The video of the same name shows the little villagers whats really goin on in Peoria and the nation. I also offers a subliminal solution to address the forces that oppose them.
It has long been a view of mine that if you use the same people and practices to address an age-old problem, you will come up with the same solution, resulting in the same problem. Although the faces have been changed and the deck reshuffled, I predict that the hands to be dealt will be the same as the last hand. To make it plain; If past teaching practices would have been successful in educating the parents, then the children would generally follow. I am proof of that. Beyond that, if the parents of so called "bad" students haven't been tapped for their input, the task force doesn't have any real chance of success, unless success is going to be measured by whether a district product can successfully gain ice cream money, without having an accident. And as the task force goes forward, if you don't remember anything else in this response, rember this JESUS WAKS WITH THOSE LITTLE VILLAGERS, and they don't fear you or the authorities. It is also important to remember that one day those little villagers will be big villagers. GOOD LUCK. IXX

wepac1 said...

This is not a political fireback, just a comment, a point of information and a closing remark.
COMMENT: I was just recently commenting to a friend that the cleche and selected topic of "Moving Forward" should be abandoned for "Resolving the Situation". What I mean by that is, if you listen to media, you will hear a lot of people talk about M.F. Any leader can be a M.F. advocate, but it takes a rare breed to resolve the situation. If we resolved the situation, we wouldn't have to move anywhere.
POINT OF INFORMATION: If you believe that not all kids are going to college & hold white collar jobs, what skills can you possibly develop that will make more "kids" hirable. Beyond that, parenthood and better parents in Peoria, seem to have something to do with: college, Forrest Hill, and whether or not you identified with your teachers & vise versa.
Closing Remark: Reference to th NAACP comments, "I feel you". But I haven't seen a real leader around these parts, aside from when I'm shaving. I have come to realize that this soil is not suitable for growing strong African-American leaders, NAACP or otherwise. However, the smaller, more dependent variety are seen periodically.
I will try and catch a meeting, I think it qualifies towards my court ordered community service requirement. Do I understand that lunch is on you?

Bill Dennis said...

Blaming lack of discipline and the racial make-up of the teaching staff makes even less sense than blaming a high number of suspensions, expulsions, etc. on the racial make-up of the teaching staff.

Merle Widmer said...

The Optimist Club is not a closed society, but you do fill out an application for membership. Join for the price of $60 a year. For someone really interested in joining, come on over and be my guest. One at a time please!!

As to what we can teach these kids that don't go to college? None of my brothers and sisters (8) never went to college, never spent any time incarcerated, never were on welfare, we were all born poor in material things, rich in a dad and mom who showed their love by teaching us how to behave and respect. More important a work ethic. I hear people say there are no jobs. Horse manure!! Eight pages of want ads in Sundays paper. But none of those kids that sit with their books closed, their head on the desk, who disrespect all authority including their,teachers will probably ever qualify for anything more than menial labor. But what is wrong with that? Or will all those jobs be filled by illegal immigrants, who really want to work and were'nt born in a welfare environment.