The first question asked at the Citizen Advisory Committee information sharing meeting tonight was not asked by me, but was the same question I had. "How does this process differ from the Strategic Planning Committee of 3 years ago?" Jerry's answer was unclear to me. It was useful for me to go just to verify for myself that I am surrounded by the good company of folks who get the distinct impression that the district doesn't use the information it already has. And it's always the same folks who show up to help on these projects, so I'm guessing they are just done with the district shelving all the initiatives. Either quit paying all those big consultant dollars OR LISTEN TO THEM! Create the plans as the act of follow through necessary in every business that is serious about being successful. I followed up the first question with "Much work was done on the Strategic Planning Committee by many of the very same people sitting here tonight. Are you planning to incorporate that data in this committee?" Answer, "it could be included." Other questions asked included "there have been a lot of initiatives and no follow up. Why should we reinvent the wheel?" And on and on and on.
There was the technology survey which resulted in no plan. There was the safety survey just completed last week. There is a plan to have a facilities survey, which I thought we had done in house on a five year rotation. Every one of these things costs a fee for the consultant. Now they want to hire a consultant to run another survey to capture the perceptions of the community. "What if the people want to have certain initiatives but are not willing to go to referendum? What do you expect the committee to do then?" Jerry simply spoke the usual "prioritize and work it out" baloney. If there were a strategic plan, this would be much simpler. And, oh, by the way, I'm not interested in doing the job of the very well compensated District Administrator for free. He wants 15-18 community members representing 10 separate groups from the community (parents, elders, staff, etc), but didn't include city officials in the groups represented. I figure I represent any number of groups and really don't want this to turn into another monumental clusterf&*k, which it will be if nothing is done with the data. Oh, and they haven't even got board approval for the consultant yet, but because we have another rubber stamp board in place, Roth doesn't even pretend to be waiting on board approval. And yet he noted the CAC will be accountable to the board. Really? Hmm.
So the question to me is, will I be more effective on the CAC or the 4K committee? I'm sure I have done more research than the rest of the proponents put together about 4K in Wisconsin and the origins of the concept. I have closely followed all the longitudinal studies that followed up from the High Scopes Perry preschool project in Kalamazoo Michigan in 1961-1963. I know the criteria required to see the benefits seen in that study and no public school in America meets the 5-6 to 1 student teacher ratio. No public school in America provides universal preschool beginning at age 3. The touted societal benefits will be diluted because the program is diluted. So stop quoting the data from a study you cannot hope to emulate in practice. Do it for the kids who need it and quit trying to placate the people who just want free preschool, because who doesn't like free stuff? Except it's not free and your property tax bill should be an annual reminder of that. Which would you rather have, 4K or a competitive curriculum that prepares students for work and college participation? Because that is the question at this point. Ain't no such thing as a free lunch folks. If the CAC helps the district enumerate community priorities and thereby help decide which initiatives to endorse with taxdollars, I'm willing to help out with that. But we should capture all the data from 2-3 years ago and supplement it, not redo it all.
Let the district office know if you want to participate on the CAC within the next week. There is a link on the district website for a form to fill out and return to the office if you're interested. Deadline is next week, I think. Click on the link below to access it.