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League of Women Voters to host charter school debate

From my inbox:

League of Women Voters Invites the Public to hear about the Charter Schools Proposal in Peoria – Will this “fix” District 150 or cost money & hurt other schools?

Peoria – Should Peoria School District 150 approve a math, science and technology charter school, a middle school to be expanded into a high school? How will this impact other schools and students? How will it be financed?

Cindy Fisher and Vicky Stewart will explain the plans of the Peoria Charter School Initiative to open a math, science and technology charter school in District 150 by August, 2010, beginning with grades 5 – 7 then expanding yearly into high school. The plan contemplates a school with 600 students, with the students chosen by lottery.

Gerry Brookhart, the Regional Supt of Schools, will explain what charter schools are and the restrictions the state of Illinois places on them.

Tom McLauglin and Sharon Teefey from the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) will present their alternative view on charter schools.

The presentations will be followed by a question and answer session.

When: 9-11am Saturday, November 21, (free) Program (8:30am optional light breakfast $8)
Where: Peoria Castle Lodge (formerly Jumers) 117 N Western Ave.

Having heard the charter school proponents’ view quite a bit as of late, it should be interesting to hear the union’s take on the issue.

123 comments to League of Women Voters to host charter school debate

  • Colleen

    You are missing an integral part of the whole middle school/high school dilemma: in middle school(MS) a student can fail reading and math all four years 5th-8th grade and still be passed on to high school(HS) as long as they pass everything else…I know this is not necessarily socially acceptable, but it is fact! Now if we send this child to HS they, more than likely, will fail even more…the “catch” is that in HS, there are “teeth” in the consequences: you must have a certain number of credits to graduate. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if it takes you until you are 21. Fail as many classes as you want, the diploma is only given for meeting the requirements.

    My point, HS has meaningful consequences, MS does not!

  • cttsp5: If what you say is true, I can only conclude that finally someone on Wisconsin Avenue is doing their job.

  • cttsp5

    I don’t quite think it is the case of someone “doing their job”. Wojcikewych would not have played favorites in who was chosen to attend Washington. We shall see!

  • RU Kidding

    Kids can be…and are…retained in eighth grade. I work doubly hard with my students who need extra help to ensure they are ready for high school. They have to have passing grades for core subjects.

    The students who have attendance problems are the ones who do not have sufficient core grades to move them into ninth grade. I work with families to get the attendance under control. It is up to the student to then be at school on a regular basis and learn the concepts they have missed.

    It is not a simple resolution.

  • Sharon Crews

    Jon, I asked the question:
    The policy states, “The decision to promote a student to the next grade level shall be based on successful completion of the curriculum, attendance, performance based on Illinois Standards Achievement Tests, or other testing.

    Must all three requirements be met for a student to be promoted? The “or” seems to imply that students have a choice as to which requirement to meet. My question again is: Do students have to meet curriculum and attendance requirements and pass Illinois Standards Achievement Tests in order to be promoted to the next grade? That certainly seems to be the current practice. Or can students meet only one of these requirements to be promoted? Some seem to believe that is a board sanctioned possibility.

    Dr. Lathan responded to questions from some speakers, but she did ignore mine.

  • Lea

    @Sharon This is what I could find in my school code books:

    “105 ILCS 5/14-6.01

    Effective July 1, 1966, high school districts are financially responsible for the education of pupils with disabilities who are residents in their districts when such pupils have reached age 15 but may admit children with disabilities into special educational facilities without regard to graduation from the eighth grade after such pupils have reached the age of 14 1/2 years. Upon a disabled pupil’s attaining the age of 14 1/2 years, it shall be the duty of the elementary school district in which the pupil resides to notify the high school district in which the pupil resides of the pupil’s current eligibility for special education services, of the pupil’s current program, and of all evaluation data upon which the current program is based. After an examination of that information the high school district may accept the current placement and all subsequent timelines shall be governed by the current individualized educational program; or the high school district may elect to conduct its own evaluation and multidisciplinary staff conference and formulate its own individualized educational program, in which case the procedures and timelines contained in Section 14-8.02 shall apply.

    The following should occur for those students, who are 15 years old, in 8th grade, attend an elementary district and have an IEP:

    The high school becomes the student’s home school.
    The student should be enrolled as a 9th grader with the serving school as the 8th grade placement.
    Ninth graders do not test. Therefore these students do not test with ISAT, IAA or IMAGE.

    15 year old student with disabilities who is in grade 7 – these students are also the responsibility of the high school and should be moved to the 9th grade designation.”

    I’m not sure how this pertains to Peoria 150 or the students at Lincoln but students with disabilities can be promoted to 9th grade. I’m not a lawyer but I have a school code book 🙂

  • Sharon Crews

    I didn’t know about this law (I assume it’s still in effect), but the high school has to have provide special education services. I don’t know if the students at Lincoln need special ed services–but if the above code is in effect, special ed students probably wouldn’t be required to pass the state test before being placed in high school.

  • honestworker

    Any news from the school board meeting tonight?

  • Jon

    Sharon, here’s what the Illinois School Code states:

    105 ILCS 5/10?20.9a

    “Decisions to promote or retain students in any classes shall be based on successful completion of the curriculum, attendance, performance based on Illinois Goals and Assessment Program tests, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, or other testing or any other criteria established by the school board.”

    As a former English teacher, how would you interpret THAT sentence?

  • Taxpayer

    From WEEK: “Board members Monday were also set to vote on the dismissal of Associate Superintendent Michelle Ungerait due to ‘personnel’ issues. That vote was post-poned.”

    What is going on with this?

  • honestworker

    Wow, did she get reassigned to a teaching position? Also heard that Mrs Jenkins was getting reassigned tonight for next school year…. any news of that from the board meeting?

  • Sharon Crews

    As an English teacher there are many grammatical errors about which I would quibble; however, most other people (including people who write District 150 and Illinois codes) do not see the problem. I believe that the last three are the “or” (optional) items because these tests are offered at different grade levels–but the code is written for all grade levels.

    Clearly, there should be an “and” after attendance because the three tests that follow “performance based” all modify “based” (based on what? based on one of the three tests)–so it is “performance” that is parallel to completion and attendance. In other words, “completion,” “attendance,” and “performance are the three items in a series–and the three requirements for graduation.

    The “or” just isn’t correct because the first series consists of three items. The word “based” introduces the next series of four items (the three tests and other criteria).

    Jon, try diagramming the sentence–then you will see that my analysis is correct.

    At least, now I know that District 150 was copying its policy from the Illinois code. If you would read some of the FOIA replies that I receive from the Attorney General’s office, you would wonder if the state has any standards at all for its clerical staff.

  • cttsp

    I heard that Mrs. Jenkins is going to be principal at Trewyn. Don’t know if there is any truth in that. From what I hear they need to send two Manual female academy leaders back to the classroom. Are there still more reassignments to come?

  • Jon

    The words “based ON” introduces the next THREE items – not four. That is why it states “or other testing” instead of just “other testing”. That leaves the “or” before “any other criteria” as the key word – meaning that ANY ONE of the items listed is sufficient – it does not require all. The criteria are:

    any other criteria

    Adding the word AND completely changes the meaning – to what you want it to be – rather than what it currently states.

    Again, assuming that there is a grammatical error – this time in an Illinois Statute – is the only way for your view to reconcile with the law/policy.

  • Anon

    Emerge is negative about everything, except the black community.

  • I have to concur with Jon — that’s the way I read it, too. Decisions shall be based on:

    (1) Successful completion of the curriculum
    (2) Attendance
    (3) Performance based on:

    1. (a) Illinois Goals and Assessment Program tests,
    2. (b) the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, or
    3. (c) other testing


    (4) any other criteria established by the school board

  • Jon

    Thanks, CJ. I’ll add that I am not arguing that 8th grade isn’t important or that we should promote students whether they are deemed ready or not. However, there should be flexibility and some discretion, which the law and district policies allow. Thus, I don’t see how the Lincoln principal has violated any policies, based on what has been described with respect to these students.

    Lea, I don’t think that the statute you referenced is applicable in this case. That statute determines responsibility between a high school district (9-12) and an elementary district (K-8), whereas D150 is a unit district (K-12). In Washington, for example, there are 3 elementary districts (each taxing properties in their own attendance areas) that all send to 1 high school district (which taxes all 3 areas). It settles any potential disputes over which district should provide, and thus pay for, the services. As a unit district, that issue doesn’t exist for D150.

  • Sharon Crews

    C.J., I agree with your analysis of the state code sentence. My analysis of the sentence structure is correct only if the word “and” is added. I do believe my interpretation more clearly defines what are the actual requirements as practiced in District 150.

    However, the District 150 sentence is not the same as the state’s–because the last item is “other testing,” not “any other criteria.” I don’t think the analysis works as well with the District 150 sentence. Other testing and other criteria are not the same thing, at all.

    I love the grammatical challenge, but I don’t think we have yet arrived at the answer as to what are the intended requirements for passing from one grade level to another. I can’t imagine that the district would tell parents and students that failure to complete the requirements of the curriculum and attendance do not count as long as the students pass the government tests given in 7th and 8th grades.

    Of course, the problem that I have presented has nothing to do with the requirements for 8th graders to pass to high school. I do not doubt, at all, that some 8th graders are passed even if they do not fulfill all the course requirements and have less than stellar attendance records. However, here we are discussing if 7th graders can completely bypass all 8th grade requirements except a test–a test that I understand is not all that difficult for most students to pass.

  • Sharon Crews

    I believe the vote on Ungurait’s dismissal was tabled because the court has not yet ruled on whether or not she has a case–I guess the District is being cautious.

  • Sharon Crews

    Jon, I don’t diagree that much with your last statement. As I’ve said before though, if this “escape” is being offered to Lincoln 7th graders, the same opportunity should be given to all 7th graders in similar circumstances. At least, I believe parents at other 150 schools have a right to demand fair treatment. Also, I believe the board should vote on what I believe is a violation of the policy that states students cannot be because of age or for social reasons. There is no doubt that this situation csn be considered social promotion.

  • Sharon — Here’s the way I look at it: The school code basically says not to do social promotion, then gives examples of the types of things on which promotion should be based. But it doesn’t put them in stone because it wants to give local school boards control of the criteria, so it adds the final statement, “or any other criteria established by the school board.” The District 150 school board decides to adopt the criteria laid out in the state’s school code instead of establishing their own alternative criteria. So their school policy includes everything in the state code except the “or any other criteria” statement because they chose not to establish any other criteria. If they had established some other criteria, they would simply include that specific criteria in their manual, not a vague statement of “any other criteria.”

    So, perhaps more to the point, it sounds to me like the question is whether the district is violating its own established policy. However, we can’t know that until we have more facts in evidence about the particular case in question.

  • Sharon Crews

    C.J., I agree. However, I am not sure whether or not the Illinois code even mentions age or social reasons. District 150 has a long history of disagreement with regard to social promotion. In my memory, the argument goes back to the 1960s. Therefore, I believe the sentence about social reasons was put there for good reason.

  • Sharon Crews

    C.J., someone took us back to this site–I did find proof (with a nudge from the Attorney General) that 17 Lincoln 7th graders skipped 8th grade and are now in high school. In addition to asking if they considered this to be a violation of board policy, I, also, asked BOE members why 15 of these students who are only one grade behind should have been chosen when District 150 probably has many more students that have failed only one grade. (No response from board or administration). It is my understanding (sort of rumor) that other 7th graders from Lincoln were sent to Manual during last school year.