Letter: A need for accountability in District 181
Updated: May 20, 2012 8:26AM
A need for accountability
I recently attended my first District 181 Board meeting, and witnessed utter disregard for the concept of accountability to the community by Superintendent Renee Schuster and the board, with Yvonne Mayer and Brendan Heneghan notable exceptions.
Discussion centered on changes to the district’s gifted programming. The existing system has well documented flaws, and many invested parents are open to alternatives. However, what began as a limited scope review of current programs has morphed into a sweeping overhaul in approach and curriculum encompassing all students, with limited specific consideration for the academically talented.
Secrecy has marked the process. The primary work product to date is a six-page draft “Philosophy Statement” that seems intentionally vague despite its length. No data or precedents have been provided to validate the new approach’s key concepts, and there is no evidence that proposed changes were reviewed — or other alternatives considered — with any rigor.
Despite admitting that the vision for her overhaul was far from complete, Schuster is entirely comfortable plowing ahead with a complex transition and implementation plan, all to be accomplished over the next four months. Only in academia would this not be considered reckless and irresponsible.
Changes proposed may well have substantial merit. But the absence of rigor, coupled with a heedless timetable and neglectful board, suggest a disaster in the making. This community deserves better and expects more. A more open and thorough process, erring on the side of caution, would be a great start.