PEORIA, IL -- Faced with many children who experience extreme poverty and its ills, the Peoria Public Schools are embarking on an ESL -- emotional and social learning -- program designed to help them.
The Peoria District 150 board heard a presentation on the ESL program, then listened to more than an hour of comments by activists and teachers. This was followed by long, rambling statements from board members.
Here is a recording of the comments and responses:
The Peoria Journal Star's story is here.
One teacher told the board "the stress we talk about is real. It's in every building. She said a child in her classroom was murdered, one was assaulted, there are instances of homelessness, extreme poverty and mental illness with no access to care.
Today children were moved to another teacher, she said. They need "significant relationships" for learning," and that's disruptive. "We're expected to deal with this with no training."
Another said stress and trauma of the children affects their teachers, causing a high teacher attrition rate.
Activist Sharon Crews used statistics to argue that summer school for high school students should be revived.Her report is posted below.
Activist Terry Knapp urged the board to close Quest charter school and stop paying the attorney for negotiating union contract when the unions use their own members instead of expensive lawyers. Knapp also said students often falsely accuse teachers of molesting or attacking them, hoping to get a payoff.
NAACP members told the board that an appropriate number of minority workers are not being hired for building work based on the sales tax revenue that voters approved last year. The NAACP supported the building trades union in backing the referendum, but now the unions have failed to sign an agreement to hire minorities, the PLA. Minorities also need training programs, they said. Minority unemployment is 50 percent, "way too high," one said.
There were also comments at the budget hearing.
-- Elaine Hopkins
From Sharon Crews:
For the first semester of 2017-18 Manual High students failed 124 of 894 English courses. and second semester they failed 103 of 920 English courses. I don’t know how you can avoid realizing that summer school is needed.
Instead of letter grades a weird number code was used for grades, with a 13 being F. I was told that the state demands that all grade reports use these numbers. The number 17 is the code to show a student withdrew from the course. For first semester the code was used to show that 53 students withdrew from an English class on December 21, 2017, which was the last day of first semester. Likewise 52 students withdrew from an English class on May 24, 2018, which was the last day of second semester.
How am I supposed to believe that 227 students withdrew from an English class on the last day of a semester? I purposely waited until the start of this school year so that last year’s final grades would be completed and recorded. How am I supposed to believe that students can withdraw from a class and that the grade would not be converted to an F by the beginning of the next year? Moreover, how am I supposed to believe that seniors who graduated in May would withdraw from an English class on May 24—hadn’t they graduated by then?
I must admit that a crazy idea has crossed my mind—did you have reason to disguise the real grades with these 17’s just for my report? Seriously, I would very much appreciate an explanation; furthermore, I would appreciate receiving a FOIA response apprising me of the real grades earned by these 227 students.
Last week after Jeff’s TV interview stating that teachers are stressed to the max, that discipline is not under control, and that communication with teachers is lacking, I heard that another miracle cure was on the way. On the agenda, I saw that a culture of caring for staff and students was to be implemented. Tonight I learned that the statement was confusing. Caring “for” teachers wasn’t to be implemented; teachers were to be the givers, not the recipients. of caring—so nothing has changed.
I am very disheartened that over $393,000 which should be going to hire teachers, will be spent to set up virtual instruction at four schools (and I fear that more will follow). What makes you think that students will be less likely to create discipline problems while sitting in front of a TV? Can you find subs that know the subject matter well enough to answer students’ questions? What if the material is too difficult for the students—who will break it down for them?
Obviously, if the subs are well-versed in the subject matter, wouldn’t they be applying for full-time jobs? What makes you think that students will willingly sit in front of a TV to be held accountable for subject matter? Have you polled teachers to ask them their opinions about implementing virtual learning? Shouldn’t the new “caring for the staff” initiative require asking for teachers’ opinions?
By the way, your website has posted this new discipline plan for Manual. Students are stepping up and getting to classes on time; 363 pickles were served to students with 92% or better attendance, speaking politely in the hallways and working to create a positive environment for Manual. Now that is thinking outside the jar, but fighters and disrupters don’t respond to pickles.
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