Former D181 Admin on Transition Year: 'Our Children Deserve Better Than This'
Warren Shillingburg, a Hinsdale resident and former District 181 administrator, expressed reservations about the district's curriculum overhaul in a letter sent to the District 181 Board of Education.
Editor's note: The following is a letter that was sent to the District 181 Board of Education by Hinsdale resident and LaGrange School District 102 Superintendent Warren Shillingburg earlier this fall. Shillingburg, the parent of an Oak School fourth-grader, was the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in District 181 from 2005 to 2008. Patch is publishing the letter with Shillingburg's permission.
Dear Board of Education,
As a parent and taxpayer in District 181, I am writing to bring to your attention to what is not happening in the district for our children that we were promised would be ready for this fall. My wife and I had our first RtI meeting for our son who was identified as needing advanced language arts and math services. We were greatly disappointed to realize nothing has been formally put in place and each building seems to be putting this together the best they can. The transition plan the board approved took away the advanced language arts program to be replaced with an RtI process to meet the needs of all children, as expressed by Dr. Schuster.
Having been the administrator who put the original RtI process in place in 181, I am very familiar with the process and all of the details involved in making it successful, much of which I might add have been changed since I left. We were told by [Superintendent Renee] Schuster that everything would be in place this fall and training would be provided over the summer. Instead, we find teachers doing the best they can to put together some semblance of a program or process. I applaud the teachers and building principals for being totally professional and trying hard to give the appearance of having something to give, but I understand this process well enough to see behind the surface statements to know no one is quite certain what they should be doing or saying.
I am really saddened the district has put our schools in this position and put out a plan without any standardized processes or programs for the schools to work from. I am angry that my child is part of a "transition year" or " a work in progress." Our children deserve better than this, and we can never get this year or time back. There should not be a transition year of instruction, but a transition year of planning behind the scenes before it is rolled out to the schools. I am really concerned about what could possibly be done at this late date now to provide a quality program model in December, especially anything that would come from our current transition plan.
The board must expect any future plans to include a detailed process for communications and rollout, including what measures will be in place to determine success. This lack of any standardized process or structure across the district should not be acceptable. Since nothing concrete is in place, it is the teachers and building principals who are carry this heavy burden without the proper planning and supports provided by the central office. This has to stop, and someone has to finally stand up and say, "How are you going to do all of these things you say you are going to do and show us reliable data it can and will work?"
Finally, the board should not be approving a plan; the board should be approving a program or curriculum. As it now stands, the board has only approved a "work in progress," and ALL of our children deserve better.
Warren Shillingburg, Ph.D.