PEORIA, IL -- Peoria Journal Star education reporter Pam Adams wrote a good story on the facts of the first Change150 town hall meeting, on Sept. 13. Read it first.
Here's my take.
Optics: The meeting began with a panel that looked like something out of Congress investigating women's health. It was all white male, in a school district filled with minority students, mostly black. Half are females. These groups were not represented on the panel.
Set up: Moderator Sea Stipe began by asking the panel softball questions, which wasted a half hour, or more. The panel also had the questions in advance, and had done research. So they made speeches. Little time remained for audience questions.
Revelations: Not many but a few. Here are some Adams omitted. According to retired administrator John Meissinger the few top administrators make a total of $2.5 million a year, in a district that is $12 million in the red.
Board member Rick Cloyd defended the pay by saying the "cost per student" for the superintendent is the lowest in Peoria County, at $15 per student. Other schools are at $300 per student, he said.
Say what? How is that a measure of anything? By that logic, President Obama should be paid more than any CEO in the USA. He's not paid like that. Nor should educators be paid by that standard. Ridiculous.
A parent of a student at Washington Gifted Middle School said her child is taking French from a substitute teacher who doesn't know French. He's not learning anything, she implied. The French class only watches videos in class, old movies that show Paris landmarks, she said.
Peoria Federation of Teachers president Jeff Atkins-Dutro said District 150 is "struggling to find foreign language teachers," and told the audience to contact the district if they know of anyone who can teach a foreign language.
Uh...isn't that the job of those highly paid administrators -- to find qualified teachers?
But here's an idea. How about Rosetta Stone, the software that D150 has spent $350,000 to purchase? Even that would be better than old movies.
-- Elaine Hopkins