Friday, February 19, 2016

Preview of Board Meeting 2/22/16 and Social Justice Update

The Board is taking its show on the road again on February 22, 2016, to another location in the Unit 4 district.

We will meet at the Savoy Recreation Center (402 W. Graham Dr. in Savoy) at 5:00pm, with the Open Session beginning at our customary time of 6:00pm. Members of the public are welcome to observe, and to address the Board (for up to 3 minutes) during the designated public comment period. You can find the meeting agenda here. (Be sure to click on each agenda item to bring up additional information or description, including any attached documents.) As with all Board meetings, a video will be posted here afterwards.

Highlights of Monday's agenda include an update on planned growth in the Village of Savoy; the second installment of the administration's report on curriculum, instruction, and assessment (begun on 2/8/16), focusing this time on the middle school level; and an update on plans for a new Unit 4 Transportation Facility. Please join us!

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Did you know that the nearly 10,000 students of Unit 4 were born in 78 different countries? And speak 59 languages at home? Or that 13% of our students speak 1 of the following 6 languages: Spanish, French, Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, or Mandarin Chinese?

Thanks to Ms. Maria Alanis (Unit 4's Director of ESL/Bilingual Education) and the English Learners Immigrant Task Force, fellow board member Kathy Shannon and I were introduced to these facts at yesterday's Social Justice Seminar, titled "L3: Language, Learning & Living." We learned about the programs and heard from some of the staff here at Unit 4 who help students become a successful part of our multilingual and multicultural community. More importantly, we had the privilege of meeting some of the English-learning students and parents of Unit 4.

We heard from a parent who explained through an interpreter that his family had only been able to afford three years of formal schooling for him. He reminded us of our responsibility to educate children about education itself, not just provide translations.

We met students who come to Unit 4 from Central America speaking an indigenous Mayan language; they are busy learning Spanish to succeed culturally as well as English to succeed academically.

We spoke with a mother of five who was a judge in her African country of origin, and is now taking English classes at Parkland so she can study American criminal justice.

We heard from recent Unit 4 graduates who return to our schools as volunteers to help younger English-learning students navigate the confusing experience of American education.

All of these interactions helped us put faces to the 795 Unit 4 students who are currently classified as English Learners, whether they are transitioning to English instruction, receiving bilingual education, or catching up with formal education in any language.

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The English Learners Immigrant Task Force is one of several topic-specific task forces that operate under the auspices of Unit 4's Social Justice Initiative. Other currently active groups center around topics such as Special Education, LGBTQ, Homelessness, Social Justice Educators, RISE (Racial Identity Student Experience), and Choose Kindness. These are all grass-roots groups that exist because of the drive and desire of current Unit 4 administrators, teachers, and students. The Social Justice Initiative provides professional development and project opportunities, but the topics and ideas come from anyone in Unit 4 with a particular interest in social justice and the energy to work for change.

Social Justice Seminars, the next of which is scheduled for May 4 at 5:00pm at the Mellon Building, occur several times per year and are open to anyone in the community. They represent a way to bring people together to learn from each other. In the words of those who launched these efforts during 2012-13:
Unit 4 understands social justice as a continual commitment to thoughtfully consider and actively challenge societal norms that privilege some and not others.


8 comments:

  1. Will there be a video/audio recording, posted on Vimeo later in the week? The reason I ask is that the last Goal and Indicators presentation was packed full of useful thoughts from Dr. Taylor and Dr. Wiegand that were not in the pdf available on boarddocs, it would be a shame for another information-packed night not be recorded.

    Along that line, how does the administration and BOE intend to educate the community about the many excellent things shared in this Goals and Indicator reports? I am going to try to do my part, but it takes a while for me to unpack it all (well, given the medium, it actually takes a long while).

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    1. Which meeting are you asking about being posted on Vimeo, Charles?

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    2. I am asking about tonight's meeting at the Savoy Rec Center.

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  2. Questions about page 9 of the Goals and Indicators "Student Achievement" pdf listed on boarddocs for the Feb 22nd BOE meeting; how can we the community help with the challenges?

    Also (same page), what exactly is the disconnect between K-8 and 9-12? What competing community values have been identified, and how does Unit 4 address them?

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  3. Sorry, yet another question about page 9 ("Challenges"). SB-7 is listed as a challenge, but I did not know anything (NOTHING) about SB-7. Google helped me to find a little. Why is this a challenge? (I ask to learn, not to say "what are you thinking?" *grin*) Also, I see that if it passes, SB-7 will require more "mandatory" training for school board members, including about "collective bargaining". SB-7 is obviously union-friendly. What are the pros and cons?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your questions, Charles. I will make sure to pass them along.

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  4. As to recording, Stephanie says there will be a Periscope.TV stream, as well as a Vimeo recording:
    https://twitter.com/Unit4Schools/status/701871946816954368

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Just FYI: the extra work required to put together footage from multiple cameras may delay posting the meeting on Vimeo.

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