Q: Why did you start writing your blog?
My goal when I started to blog about Unit 4 schools was rather small – I wanted a publicly accessible repository for documentation, links and thoughts I had been gathering as I researched the Consent Decree. As I slowly allowed others to comment and eventually opened the blog to the general public, my ambition has evolved slightly as well. I see that there are many parents (and others) who ask the same kinds of questions I ask, so I hope the blog is not only a way to give voice to these common queries, but also a stimulus to find answers. And to be honest, I do find it exciting. Usually. *grin*
Q: You have gone well above the call of an average citizen, submitting Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests, creating databases and now a new survey to gauge parents’ feelings toward the process. What motivates you in this endeavor?
Q: Do you have any suggestions for how parents can “survive” the schools of choice program?
- Statistically, parents usually choose schools according to how the school does on AYP (Academic Yearly Progress). Or to put it another way, there is a high level of correlation between the AYP rating of a Unit 4 school and the number of parents that choose said school.
- Schools have a finite number of seats, which is well known in advance of any choice period. It is simply impossible to seat every child who wants to go to School A if there are not enough seats.
- “Schools of Choice” (aka School Lottery, Kindergarten Lottery) attempts to answer “what is fair?” Lots of people (administrators, consultants, parents, “average citizens”) attempt to answer that question differently. What is absolute? What ultimately is fair for everyone?
- Be realistic; do not choose the top 3 chosen schools as your top three choices. I realize this seems counterintuitive, which is why I make this point first.
- Take the time to look at schools that are not in the top 3 (or 5). You can view my database to see which schools were overchosen in 2010 (I intend to add 2009 when I get a chance, and 2011 by May). Take note of the magnet programs.
- Ask questions! I can give you several names at the Family Information Center and the Mellon Center who would be happy to help.
As a parent, the most important aspect of a school is that they teach my child how to live. Not merely reading letters, words and sentences, but using various media to communicate effectively. Not merely knowing the multiplication table and regurgitating various theorems to manipulate equations, but using those skills to make good economic and financial choices. And the “meta-learning” I think is very important, learning about learning; being able to introspect and analyze mistakes such that future missteps are avoided, resolving conflict, thinking about others. I realize these are Utopian and idealistic, but this is what is important to me. There is no good reason why we cannot strive for these things.
Q: You live in Savoy near where the new Savoy school will be built, and you were active in ensuring that would happen. How significant is it that this school will finally come to Savoy (in 2012)?
- A huge boost to the faculty and staff of Carrie Busey
- A confidence builder to some (most?) residents in Prairie Fields and Savoy in general
- A source of envy and resentment on the part of some Champaign residents
- Will also help Unit 4 by allowing the current building to be used as a revolving door for other area schools as they are upgraded
- Is it fair?
I have indeed considered running for the Unit 4 School Board. I believe that getting involved in local politics like a school board is a very practical and I hear a very effective way going beyond “complaining” and “doing something about it”. What holds me back is simply time; I do not believe in being a puppet board member, nor being on the board and not attending meetings, but personally I cannot fit that into my schedule right now. I get a lot of satisfaction from interacting with current board members and I feel I have an adequate voice that way, thus I do not feel the pressure to be committed to attending every single board meeting and officially on the roll call. Perhaps when I retire. 🙂 I must confess, the task before board members seems rather daunting. Just take a look at the massive volumes known collectively as the Policies that govern the Unit 4 School Board – I believe it is literally over 10 pounds of paper. That’s heavier than a gallon of milk. My utmost respect goes out to those that serve faithfully and successfully as board members.
Do you know a Chambana mom or dad to know? We love nominations. Let us know your pick.