PEORIA, IL -- Public comments at the Peoria District 150 School Board meeting of Nov. 24 focused on a $290,000 consultant from North Carolina hired by the district to show teachers how to teach.
He made that astonishing sum for 177 days in Peoria, more than the superintendent is paid, board critic Sharon Crews said. She filed Freedom of Information requests to find out what he is being paid.
Her comments will be posted below.
Here is a recording of the public comments:
Critic Terry Knapp termed the $290,000 payday "unbelievable." Then he turned to Quest, the science and math academy, and a story in a recent Journal Star newspaper telling of failing grades there. Quest is negotiating with District 150 for funding, but there's been no discussion in public, Knapp said.
He mentioned the 190 pupils in the Quest high school, 35 below the recommended maximum, and asked why the dropouts had not been replaced from the waiting list.
It's because they are "troubled" students on that list, he said, quoting the news story.
Quest students have been taken to Turkey for a foreign trip for four years, he said. "I think it's dangerous," he said, mentioning US sailors recently attacked in Istanbul. Why no comments on this? he asked the board.
"What's the Turkish connection to Concept Schools?" he asked, but already knew the answer, reported on this blog and elsewhere.
He also questioned why Quest students are partnering with Peoria Heights schools for sports. They should go back to their home schools, he said.
And he questioned why the board closed Woodruff High School as too small, claiming there were not enough students for four Peoria High Schools. But Quest is running a high school, making four again, he said.
Nancy Diefenbach questioned why the district's low test scores have not been discussed by the board. "This is not close to the district I was in," she said.
She attended grandparents day at Charter Oak, she said, and while the children were thrilled to have grandparents visit, "I saw disruption in the classrooms," that did not take place before the disruption there last year, she said.
Sevino Sierra commented, "it's a shame you have let Peoria Stadium go down."
-- Elaine Hopkins
Here is the comment of Sharon Crews:
How many of you know how much you have paid James Rainer, the reading consultant from North Carolina? From September 2010 to October 19 of this year he has received $290,000 for 177 days in Peoria. That is considerably more than Dr. Lathan was paid for a contractual year on the job.
I don’t know how many hours a day he puts in for his standard fee of $1800 per day. My guess is that his day isn’t as long or as demanding as a teacher’s day—and his pay is better.
In 2012 twenty-five teachers were paid a stipend of $26 an hour for six hours of training for a total of $3900. Were teachers paid to attend other sessions held after the school day? For the many school-day sessions, subs had to be paid for teachers. The cost of food may have been involved. How can you justify this ongoing expense?
This administration spent $2,628,000 on McGraw-Hill textbooks. Considerable money was spent on teacher guides that should thoroughly explain how to teach the company’s Reading Mastery program. Rainer is a certified national trainer of this company’s direct instruction method—which means the program’s weaknesses will not be acknowledged.
Rainer received his bachelor of science degree in 1974. His resume does not mention any course work since then.
He taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades from 1975 to 1977.
He taught kindergarten from 1980 to 2001. He has not taught since.
That means he has never taught children any of the elementary reading skills about which he now claims to be an expert. Every District reading teacher has more experience in the classroom—and most have more recent and more advanced college course work. How insulting to our teachers!
His resume claims that his consulting has helped six districts raise test scores—well, we know that didn’t happen in District 150.
NCLB introduced a testing frenzy. Test preparation, consultants and programs promising miracles and the tests themselves might well be the reasons students aren’t learning. Real teaching is not even encouraged—just boring repetition required for test preparation. Teachers are the scapegoats, so no one is searching for the real obstacles to learning that keep many individual students from educational success. Hyping students up to go to college is not making them college-ready. 800 students attending a Bradley vs North Carolina game won’t help either.
Nov. 30, 2014: Here's an emailed comment from Ed Dentino:
The news about the District 150 school superintendent and her staff is just amazing.... kind of like a fiction writer would consider as being too far out to believe.
As I see this continuing saga with the school district, I can only wonder what dream they are living in: cronyism, credit card expenses, schools being run by Turkish nationals, wildly overpaid 'consultant', suspect administrative moves, etc..
Seems to me that a $2.6 million book purchase could have been inclusive of the extra benefit of the publisher's 'certified national trainer'.
A few years ago, I went to the District 150 office and filed a document to ask for a list of classmates from a 1950 grade school class. I was denied the list on the basis that it was considered to be guarded privacy content. Cannot even fathom what privacy that could be invading. Wonder if the staff are aliens from a distant planet just morphed to look like earth people.