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U-46 Board approves expenses of $4.3 million

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved $4.3 million in expenditure proposals, a few receiving decent on Monday, Aug. 14.
  Most of the proposals were approved by unanimous 6-0 votes, board member Traci Ellis was not in attendance, and the board also unanimously approved $10.6 million in itemized bills as well as a resolution adopting the Northern Kane County Regional Vocational System budget, which has $1.7 million in revenues and expenditures all from federal taxpayer dollars.
  However, board member Jeanette Ward objected to a few proposals for presenting one-sided information in regards to climate change to the government schools overstepping its bounds into the realm of parenting.
  One of the items Ward voted no on was a professional development proposal with Golden Apple Stem Institute costing $37,500 which will be paid by the nation’s taxpayers through Federal IDEA Grant funds. That proposal was approved by a 5-1 vote.
  It was a continuation of professional development approved back in June, which cost $112,500. Ward voted against that proposal as well.
  Ward said that included in the professional development is a “Climate Change Day” that presents only one viewpoint.
  “The purpose of this professional development is to train teachers how to teach students and ‘to support inquiry-based pedagogy,’” Ward said. “One of the handouts states that there is a ‘great deal of misinformation available online and in the media’ about climate change. With that I agree. Unfortunately, this material perpetuates misinformation and presents only one-sided arguments by presenting anthropogenic global warming as the only view.”
  Ward asked: “How does it support ‘inquiry-based pedagogy’ to teach teachers to present only one viewpoint to students?”
  That question did not receive a response from either the board members supporting the proposal or the administration.
  On social media, Ward posted screenshots from the “Climate Change Day” presentation which included the desire to have teachers train students on being “political activists” while claiming that it is not political. Ward posted resources from other viewpoints.
  Ward also voted no on a $53,807 expenditure, coming out of the education fund, with the Committee for Children to purchase Second Step materials which deals with “social-emotional skills” training which “will support all first grade students” according to the proposal. The proposal was approved 5-1.
  The proposal states: “This classroom based program is designed to teach children how to understand and manage their emotions, control their reactions, be aware of others’ feelings, and have the skills to problem-solve and make responsible decisions.”
  Ward said that this program shows an overstepping of authority from the school district onto parental territory.
  “I have experience with the Second Step Program Social and Emotional learning program as a mom of two elementary school students,” Ward said. “I had my first encounter with this program several years ago. I believed then, as I do now, that teaching students how to respond emotionally and socially is the realm of parents.”
  The program even attempts to tell parents how to parent, another overstepping of authority, as Ward said it  “includes worksheets that require parents to fill out how they teach their child socially and emotionally and also instructs parents in training their children socially and emotionally.”
  Ward added: “I believe that schools should focus on academics, and I strongly encourage parents to opt out of this program. It’s easy to do. Just send a letter to your school’s principal informing them that you are opting your child out.”
  Board members Sue Kerr and Melissa Owens said they like the lessons in the program.
  Kerr said “any parent has the right to opt out” and she respects that, but “it has a lot of skills that most teachers… would want kids to have: learning to listen, learning to pay attention, learning to get along with others, trying to control your emotions.”
  Owens said: “When I think about the skills that our students are going to need as they go forward in their educational career and as they go into the workforce… I really like the framework and the lesson plans.”



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