Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Equal education for all?

The following letter is from a District 200 parent with three young children. It is quoted in its entirely:

Open letter to parents with present and future students in District 200:

I am a parent of a kindergartner entering the Fall class in District 200. I was surprised and disappointed to learn how D-200 places students in incoming classes. They have utilized a lottery system for three years.

Students who win the lottery receive a Full Day English education, a Full Day Dual Language education. The losers of the lottery receive a Half Day, less expensive, and less educational enrichment.

I can see lotteries being utilized for private schools or special competitive academic programs. However, they are being used for regular Kindergarten placement that our tax dollars are funding.

After three years of lotteries they still can not anticipate the needs of our growing community? Yet, you the taxpayer fork over approximately 60% of your property taxes toward these programs, teacher salaries, and pensions, and your child may or may not benefit from the fruits of your taxes.

It is unfair and ALL children should be offered equal educational opportunities.

There are other issues with the Dual Language program. As I said a lottery is used, however what happens when you don't have enough female "Native Spanish Speaker" applicants? D-200 has imposed a few rules:

First, the program has to be 50% Native Spanish speakers, and 50% Native English speakers. So if you don't have enough female native Spanish speakers, D-200 then places a disproportionately higher number of native Spanish speaking boys into the class. That is exactly what they have done for the 2010 Fall classes.

There are 32 boys vs. 16 girls (Spanish speaking) in order to meet that 50% criteria for this program.

Why such strict adherence to this 50/50 rule?

D-200 demographics don't support such a rule. There are other States that offer these dual language programs (like Texas) and don't impose these kinds of parameters.

Second: Once you win the lottery once, the siblings are automatically in when they start school. In other words certain families are ensured that their tax money is educating their children.

The system D-200 has set up to introduce our children to the public education system is not fair.

All of our children deserve a fair and equal education. Because our children are not lucky one day doesn't mean that they deserve to spend a year receiving a lesser education than the "lucky ones", who won the lottery for themselves and the rest of their siblings.

It baffles me that the D-200 educators find this acceptable.

I encourage all parents to become involved and write to the Superintendent, or address the School Board. If Full day programs cannot be offered to everyone, then half day for ALL.

Rosalinda Seipler

(The parent attended District 200's School Board meeting on Tuesday evening, April 13, and addressed the Board with the following statement.)

Statement to D-200 School Board and Superintendent April 13, 2010

"My name is Rosalinda Seipler and I am here today to publicly express my displeasure with the way District 200 is utilizing taxpayer funds to implement a Kindergarten program that is racially biased, socio-economically biased, gender biased, promotes educational inequality and does not uphold the guidelines set up by the Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974.

For those who may not know, the kindergarten program consists of three classroom formats, a regular English full day, a dual language full day, and half day program. The full day program and the dual language program each consist of 6 hours. The half day program only offers 2.5 hours. IT IS NOT the same educational experience. This is not my opinion, this a fact based on what I received from several Freedom of Information Act requests. I have five pages here describing the “Project Approach” offered only in the full day programs.

Like most parents, I attempted to get my daughter in a full day program. I personally preferred the Dual language program as I am fluent in Spanish and would like my children to be fluent in my native language. I found out that not all children will be accepted into full day programs let alone the Dual Language program. I attended the mandatory meeting on March 1st and what I learned concerned me. I found out a lottery system is being utilized to determine which children get the preferred, more extensive education.

Every year, 60 percent of my property taxes fund the Kindergarten programs, teacher salaries, and pensions. And every year, the District requests that I be taxed more. So I hope the board can understand that I take exception to the fact that my daughter is going to receive a lesser educational experience than some of her peers for one whole year because of the results of an antiquated lottery system and because she speaks fluent English.

On April 5th, my husband and I had a meeting with Principal Larson concerning the kindergarten programs. Principal Larson dismissed our concerns and attempted to convince us that children in the half day program receive the same education as the children in the full day programs. Either Principal Larson does not understand the differences in the programs or she assumes all parents are not as educated on the school system and the programs they offer.

Principal Larson, when asked about the issues of educational equality made it clear that Kindergarten does not have to be offered per Illinois law. However, it is offered here and should be offered fairly. If a full day class can not be offered to all students, then it should not be offered to any.

During the same meeting with Principal Larson and Ms. Krueger, the bilingual coordinator, they repeatedly blamed “lack of funding” for their inability to offer all children the preferred full day programs. There is a solution to the funding problem. Half day for everyone!

Another issue that disturbs me is the implementation of quotas used as part of the Dual Language program. The program parameters require that 50% of the class be “Native English Speakers” and 50% be “Native Spanish speakers”. A rule imposed by the district. The demographics of this district DO NOT reflect nor justify such racial quotas (Student Profile D-200 9/2008 : 66.2% Caucasian, 26.6% Hispanic). The program should be less concerned with racial makeup of the class, and more concerned with equally educating all our children.

District 200 is pandering to a minority group under the guise of “Native Spanish Speakers” in order to provide a small demographic portion of the community a better education than the rest. And while pandering to this group, D-200 has intentionally excluded English speaking female children in favor of male Spanish speaking children because of the lack of female Spanish speaking applicants. The program parameters don’t take into account children that already speak both fluent English and Spanish.

While speaking with Principal Larson, it was clear to me that she is less concerned with equal education for ALL students and more interested in maintaining arbitrary quotas that promote a system of education that favors a small segment of the population.

Why is it that the needs of our growing community have not been met? District 200 continues to rely on a lottery, racial, and gender quotas rather than researching other more equal and viable options so that all children receive the same education (Lotteries have been used in D-200 for three years in a row).

My purpose here today is to request the School Board and Superintendent Wrzeski take another look at the kindergarten programs and make changes so that all children receive an equal education.

Thank You"

Rosalinda Seipler

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