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The Examiner U-46 News Feed

Split votes approve pair of U-46 proposal items


By Seth Hancock
  Several proposals were approved with some dissent and debates at the Board of Education meeting in School District U-46 on Monday, June 4.
  Board member Jeanette Ward voted against an Advanced Placement (AP) environmental science resource proposal as well as a professional development proposal with Golden Apple citing one-sided views regarding the theory of man-made climate change. Ward and board member Phil Costello also voted no on the renewal of membership with the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB).
  The board voted 5-1 in favor of both the AP environmental science and Golden Apple proposals and 4-2 on the IASB membership. Board member Veronica Noland, who voted in favor of each item, voted via phone as she was not in attendance at the meeting.
  On social media, Ward posted examples of the one-sided nature regarding the AP course and Golden Apple’s professional development.
  The total presented cost of the AP environmental science proposal was $57,420. The resources include Cunningham’s “Environmental Science: A Global Concern,” McGraw-Hill’s “Connect: Online Instructor Edition with Instructor Resources” and e-textbooks through ScoreBoard and LearnSmart.
  “The AP environmental science resources present anthropogenic global warming with no opposing view,” Ward said.
  That course was among five curriculum items to be approved that evening, the other four all receiving unanimous support. They included a resource proposal for Escalate English ($213,489 total presented cost), the implementation of two AP courses at Larkin High School’s visual and performing arts academy including music theory ($8,808) and studio arts program ($66,681) and a high school physical education proposal ($76,402 for resources, $9,860 for professional development).
  The total cost of the Golden Apple professional development is $166,500 and will be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through Title I funding. Last year the district spent $112,500 for the same training, Ward also voting no for the same reasons.
  Ward, who noted there’s a “climate change day” during the professional development, said the purpose of the training is to “support inquiry-based pedagogy” and a handout from Golden Apple regarding the training says there’s a “great deal of misinformation available online and in the media.”
  “With that, I wholeheartedly agree,” Ward said. “Unfortunately, this material perpetuates misinformation and presents only one-sided arguments by presenting anthropogenic global warming as the only view. How does it support inquiry based pedagogy to teach teachers to present only one viewpoint to students?”
  Regarding the IASB membership (costing $40,000 from the education fund), both Costello and Ward have voted against membership with the lobbyist group the last two years.
  “I voted no on IASB membership last year, and I don’t see a lot of value in their services,” Ward said. “It seems counterproductive to back an organization that supports laws that cost taxpayers generally who also fund their lobbying efforts.”
  The IASB has lobbied for the recent change in education funding at the state level which required a raise in both personal income and business tax rates meaning the taxpayers paid to lobby against their own interests.
  “In addition to what Mrs. Ward said, I feel that these assets could be better used in the classroom for teachers or other resources,” Costello said. “I’m always going to be for areas where we can invest resources into the school units and not external forces.”
  Board members Sue Kerr, Melissa Owens and Donna Smith all supported the IASB saying it does more than lobbying citing the information it sends to board members. There was also a tacit admission that there is no local control of schools.
  Kerr said that the board needs to be told what to do by the IASB because “board members are not trained. We can be anyone off the streets.” She also cited a drop in the price from $41,339 for her support.
  “I also support them because of the policy work that they do…. That’s a lot of legal work,” Owens said.
  Smith said she was “disappointed” that an article, in another newspaper, had pointed out the ISAB’s lobbyist efforts because “that is such a minor part of what they do for us.”

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