PEORIA, IL -- I was unable to attend the Dec. 15 meeting of the Peoria District 150 school board. Terry Knapp's comments during the public comment period on the district's tax levy were recorded and are posted here.
He noted that too many students are being bussed, and that the district has not yet recovered from the closing of Woodruff High School, which has resulted on chronic truancy.
Bussing causes other problems as well, he said, mentioning recent attacts on the district's staff.
He also mentioned the expensive consultant from North Carolina who apparently is producing "poor results" since the students rank below those in Chicago and East St. Louis.
Sharon Crews also commented, and here are her remarks:
NCLB has declared many inner city public schools to be failures. For the first time, schools and teachers were ranked according to their students’ test scores on just one yearly test. Group success or failure was considered more important than individual success or failure.
Evaluating teachers by student test scores on standardized tests is an easy but very unfair way of judging the competence of a teacher. A test evaluates a student’s ability to comprehend and remember what a teacher has taught. Evaluators have to find a way to determine if teachers are presenting appropriate material and using methods conducive to learning.
Teachers can only teach—they can’t learn for the student. Unfortunately, an individual student’s ability to learn is often impeded by internal and external roadblocks to learning. The low ranking of many of our schools shows that District 150 is failing miserably in its efforts to identify and rectify the learning difficulties of many of its students.
Your much bragged about balanced literacy program and your $300,000 consultant have done nothing to prove your claims that the program contains all of the components necessary for students to master written and oral communication.
Teachers are sometimes miracle workers who can figure out some of the impediments students bring to the classroom—but that clairvoyance cannot be demanded. Many administrators have forgotten the sadness they felt when they realized that a particular student just didn’t understand what they tried so hard to teach.
When there are individual successes, they should be celebrated. Every school should present the kind of data I have presented you tonight—Charter Oak data proves that students can and are succeeding in District 150. Fourteen of 92 third graders exceeded NCLB standards in reading and 37 met standards. Of the 35 who tested below standards, eleven tested from only one to 10 points below standards. Only 6 of 92 were given the “warning” label and they didn’t hit rock bottom. The distribution of scores, I believe, very much follows the bell curve configuration --a concept that would be rejected by those who believe that all students should perform at optimum levels.
I believe that more Charter Oak students would have exceeded or met standards if fifteen had not left at the end of their second grade year. Eight of the fifteen left District 150. At a time when the board is asking taxpayers for more money, Dr. Lathan, together with the faulty perception that no child can succeed in District 150, is chasing families away. Remember Lathan in 2012 took out a PJS ad, stating that 150 was a failing, dysfunctional district. -30-