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Let’s have a Public Forum on Rockford Schools

I apologize for the length of this post, but I felt compelled to include the entire comment of a teacher who is clearly frustrated in RSD205!

I was moved by the comment from the teacher who obviously cares very much about the students in the classroom who want to learn and the effects of disruptive students on them.  I commend this teacher for his or her courage in coming forward and commenting on something that they could no longer tolerate. I have included the teacher’s comment and my response regarding the issues of discipline and parental involvement.

‘Leaving’: “I am currently a teacher in a high school in RPS 205. I have thought long and hard about leaving a comment because I feel intimidated by the current administration, but someone has to let the world know what is going on in our schools. I feel parent involvement is the root of the problem. If the parents took the time to talk to their kids they wouldn’t stand for what is going on.

I have been a teacher for over 20 years and I have never seen such rudeness and crudeness from students. Every year we have an open house two or three weeks into the school year. This year I had an average of one parent per class period. We have 4 parent-teacher conference nights where parents can come and talk with their student’s teachers. Out of 135 students, I sat in the cafeteria for 3 hours each night and had a total of 5 to 6 parents each night.

Students know that their parents have no idea what is going on and know that the parents don’t care. School for many of the students means coming to class (most come on time now that the administration has been doing hall sweeps) sitting and talking throughout the class period about things happening in their lives with no regard to other students trying to learn, copying other students assignments, cheating on tests (It’s ok as long as you don’t get caught), expecting teachers to give them a second chance to take the test they just got caught cheating on, and expecting time before the test to study since they don’t study at home.

These are the disruptive students that cause all students to fail. If I write referrals the students are counseled and sent back to class. I am then told not to write referrals, but to handle this in the classroom, and if I continue to write referrals I get a letter put in my file. This is the reason referrals are “down” this year.

I have one student that continues to walk around the room to talk with his friends during the lesson shouting and cussing across the room, copying work, throwing away any papers that aren’t multiple choice all while I am trying to teach that I have written at least 8 or 9 referrals on this year. As of the last referral, he has accumulated a total of 10 points and has had ALE once. Calls home are attempted, but his phone is usually disconnected or no one is at home except a younger sibling. Next year will be worse since I am expected to call home every time he is disruptive. I spend every evening now trying to call parents that don’t care or are too busy trying to house and feed their children.”

And my response was,

‘Leaving’: Thank you for the courage of your convictions. Even though you felt intimidated, you stepped forward and maybe others will do the same because of you.

One of my concerns regarding the amended discipline code is an assault on teachers being classified, as to the severity of the injury. I can’t believe that the extent of a teacher’s injuries would make any difference in the discipline of the student involved in the assault.”

I think it’s time to have a public forum on some of the issues concerning Rockford schools, not rumors, but actual events of which you have direct knowledge. I especially want teachers to step forward because even when I was serving on the Board of Education, I would hear of incidents long after the fact, because the teachers told me on the phone or in letters that they felt intimidated or threatened and most remained anonymous.

I didn’t understand then, and I don’t understand now - why?  You have the teachers association to defend grievances, tenure, and an exhaustive termination process negotiated through the contract.  The forum could discuss this issue also.  Your ID on the blog will be the only name that will be used.

The topics I have posted during the last three weeks concerning RSD205 are linked as Dr. Sheffield, discipline and assault instruction, lack of parental involvement in Rockford, minority recruitment, student assignment, and merit pay.  The forum could start with these issues or whatever you wish to discuss.

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9 Comments

  1. GOWADER

    There is no point in arguing your position. I have said this before and I will again. There is a hidden agenda within the school board and their new golden girl. They are not going to listen to anyone because they have already made up their minds. All decisions are based on power and greed. They could care less about the kids, even though they always say it is. Do the words social justice ring any bells. I will bet it does with our new lady in charge.

  2. mom-k

    I agree with this teacher. I have a child in RPS 205 high school and from what she tells me it is ridiculous in the classrooms. I hear every day about fights in the class and in the halls, also about students that severely disrupt the class. She has trouble hearing the teachers at times and trouble staying focused on the lessons when this occurs. I am a parent that cares but, I call tell you that it is extremely hard to care sometimes. I get calls all the time about my child missing classes and when we follow up on them they are incorrect. This process takes us about a week to resolve each time and I am getting tired of the errors. When things like this happen then you have parents ignoring these calls and then sometime they are correct. I do not believe in keeping students who do not want to learn or be in classes in the school, they should be suspended. If we went back to the old fashioned way of disciplining students instead of trying to make everything racially correct we would have better schools. I also agree that we need to get rid of the new Queen, she is only fueling the fire. I do not blame teachers for leaving this district-it is my daughters last year and if it were not i would put her in a private school.

  3. xteach

    “Leaving” describes the situation very good. I was too a public high school teacher in RPS 205 and I was very vocal about the problems. I think the fundamental problem really stems from mandatory education laws and entitlements.

    Ted, I think it would be an excellent idea to have a public forum with legislators in attendance. The whole public school system really needs to change on just about every level.

  4. Doug Clayburg

    Colleen Cyrus is not being clear using her elementary student swiss army knife scenario. http://www.wrex.com/Global/story.asp?S=12504958

    Rules are set up for elementary, middle and high school separately, so you CAN have a less severe penalty for the same offense for elementary students and more severe or mandatory expulsion for high school students.

    The new discipline rules being proposed allow a student to possess a knife or other dangerous weapon (other than firearms, explosives) and it will NOT be mandatory for the board to review, Elementary, Middle, or High School. Unacceptable.

    The new rules being considered make points optional. Points are currently tabulated to identify repeat offenders so they can receive counseling to change their behavior, and if too many points are accumulated. Repeat offenders are moved from the traditional class room to an alternative education site. This change new allows for teachers, principals, and administration to provide preference to violators, and will allow repeat offenders to remain in the classroom with students who WANT to learn.

    Colleen Cyrus claimed at the April 25th board meeting she did everything possible to get parental involvement in revising the discipline code INCLUDING requesting every principal to get ONE parent from their school to attend. WOW, one parent…what high expectations.

    Next school board meeting: Tuesday June 8th 7:00-10:00 PM
    201 S. Madison St.
    Rockford, IL 61104

    Be there!

  5. Ted Biondo

    xteach: I meant to have the forum online. But you have a great idea. The board used to have a legislative committee that met with legislators at least two times per year to discuss these types of issues and what they could do from Springfield to help the process.

  6. Ted Biondo

    Doug: Great comment. Welcome to the blog. Your comment was right on target, especially with the link to WREX. Very informative and even brings up weapons changes in discipline, in addition to assault on teachers with distinctions made to injuries and under what conditions the injuries occur.

    Thanks again for participating and the link.

  7. You want teachers to step forward? Unfortunately a new teacher with no tenure is not going to risk stepping forward and then being blackballed and not get a job back or a tenured teacher that wants to change schools all of a sudden can not move as they are listed as someone who steps forward and speaks the truth. We have blamed teachers for all the woes and now they have an extra burden of not being able to say anything without fallout from above. There is a lot of tip toeing around by teachers and principals not willing to come forth with problems have you asked why? Maybe it is because there is a board and a superintendent in place who are making the work place anything but open. Public forums work well if people feel they can speak freely and openly. Surely you do not think that is the current situation. District officials have been less than candid and certainly the management style is not one that encourages open dialog.

  8. Labmonkey

    Actually Doug, Ms. Cyrus did sent out a mass e-mail to principals requesting names/emails of parents who could attend. The principals forwarded the emails to parents requesting their attendance. How do I know this? I was one of the parents who received the email but unfortunately was unable to attend as I was out of town.

    As much as I disagree with what the District Admin’s are doing at times, they are being honest about their attempts to get parents involved. Let’s revisit the TASAP meetings attendance.

  9. Ted Biondo

    Labmonkey, thanks for joining the discussion.

    Where are the teacher’s input, especially about the assault and injury portions of the amended discipline code? I understand nontenured teachers might have a problem with speaking so openly. That leaves only about 65-70% that are tenured to speak to their issues with the code.

    Doesn’t the REA back you up, so you at least have 1st Amendment rights? I know there are some individual teachers left in the district with the courage of their convictions. They used to at least have the courage to call me sometimes.

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