Back in the 90’s the academies at 150 were the way to strengthen a students chances to secure a well paying job upon graduation from high school or college. Now the #150 board has voted to phase out these academies (read yesterdays JS on the subject) with the possible replacement by some yet unannounced and un-described better programs. A long while back I pointed out that these academies were not accomplishing what they were intended to do. As late as four years ago they were only reaching approximately 280 students out of a high school population of 4000. And very little was being done for those kids who were dropping out of school before they graduated from 8th grade or before they became dropouts. I said that many kids were entering these academies away from their community school to do just that, get away to what they perceived as a better school such as Richwoods. Some wanted to join their friends including boyfriends or girlfriends. It was apparent these academies were not serving enough of the student population. When I broached this subject with past school board presidents, none of them including now State Representative Aaron Schock appeared to be very concerned. Well, I am and have been concerned from the days when I ran a business and struggled to find competent employees. I did and many of them still work at the company I founded, Widmer Interiors.
Much lip service has been given to Vo-Tech schooling such as the successful program being run at Pekin High which I have visited and reputed successful systems at Bartonville, Chillicothe and Dunlap which I have not visited. Other than a Caterpillar sponsored TI at Manual with approximately 30 internees (if that is the proper term) promising the possibility of future jobs at this major community supporter, and the continuation of scaled down programs at Peoria High and Woodruff, little progress seems to have been made in approaching what most in this community believe to be a major failing of #150. ( Beneficial Adopt-A-Schools Art classes and other after school programs run by social agencies I do not overlook.)
I know that some school board members read my blogs when they have time and I would like them to show the community the progress I am overlooking and do so on this site or in a letter to the editors of our local newspapers. Several of the board members are at least acquaintances of mine and some I helped get elected. Some I know are good people and perhaps some I don’t know are good people also and perhaps some have not had time to get the failing system they inherited up and running. But some have been on board for quite awhile and are looking more and more like they are part of the problem; both board members and administration.
Nicole Wood, Principal at Northmoor Edison was our speaker today at Noon Optimist. Nicole and she and her staff rank as one of the best run schools in #150. I suggest you Edison doubters visit her school classrooms and the same with Principal Valda Shipp at Franklin Edison
As Lincoln is quoted and now his statue and statement area now displayed on the Peoria Court House Square, that their comes a time to “draw a line in the sand”, I continue to challenge District #150 employees and board members to emulate Lincoln in the stance he took.. Just combining schools, building new buildings and abandoning old buildings and creating curriculum steering committees (this is year 2006; why are boards creating steering committees at this late date??) is not going to guarantee that our kids regardless of color background or ability are going to challenged enough to want to learn to at least read, write and do basic math. I suggest this new steering committee designs programs; programs in which kids will actually be sold on the idea that they must learn some skills to make it in the real world. That means programs that require learning how to work and to work with their hands and minds. Otherwise all jobs requiring a work ethic and basic skills in Peoria will be taken up eventually by new immigrants of all kinds and of all statuses. Or expect more outsourcing to countries where workers will do these kinds of jobs for less wages and benefits. Enough “chiefs” will come out of the many schools that are succeeding in #150 and student leaders who will succeed in college.
I believe it is time for more administration officials to retire and take their exorbitant pensions and health benefits and have the board hire new younger talent promoted or hired form the outside. Administration should not spend too much time bragging to the community of the many things you are accomplishing. You have 140 million dollars to work with and salaries starting as high as over $200,000.00 a year with pensions based on the average of their last four years earnings thanks to a greedy majority of legislatures down in Springfield. We expect you to do these things you brag about and to do a lot more than many of us think you do. What progress that is obvious to name a few like Franklin, Northmoor, Whittier, Kellar, Roosevelt Columbia, Lindbergh and Washington Gifted is good but not enough other schools are having the same successes.
I expect some criticism from this article but my shoulders are broad. You can also comment on the shortcoming of the Peoria County Board as we too are not beyond reproach. I really wish my blogs would create more dialogue on my comment site. Just keep is civil and thanks in advance.