More Closed-Door School Board Appointments Leave Taxpayers Out In The Cold


In our 07.07.14 post we criticized the completely gratuitous secrecy with which the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 School Board shrouded its deliberations that resulted in the appointment of Robert Johnson to fill the chair Terry Cameron gave up when he moved out of state.

To be clear, our criticism was directed solely at the Board and its unacceptable process, not at Johnson.

At that time we called D-64 “the closest thing to a secret society among any of our four local governmental bodies.” We discredited D-64 propaganda minister Bernadette Tramm for clamping a lid down on the identities of the 12 applicants for the vacancy, and even keeping the names of the 8 finalists secret until six hours before the “public hearing” at which those finalists were to be interviewed by the Board – which she did with either the express direction or tacit approval of the D-64 Board.

Not surprisingly, Tramm provided no biographical information about those 8 finalists.  Worse yet, the D-64 Board apparently didn’t care whether any members of the public showed up to bear witness to those interviews, much less contribute meaningful information or ask questions that might aid in the vetting process.

But this week we learned that Ms. Tramm’s secrecy has been eclipsed by her counterpart at Maine Twp. School Dist. 207, David Beery, who ratcheted up Tramm-style concealment by hiding the identities of the reported 7 applicants for the seat of departing School Board member Eric Leys, who also is moving out of state, until AFTER the Board made its decision.

Hmmm…is local school board members moving out of state a trend we should start tracking?

Beery and the D-207 Board, doing its best Star Chamber impersonation, kept the names of those 7 applicants completely under wraps through the special meeting held last Sunday (August 24) at 2:15 p.m. (gee, was the 2:15 a.m. slot already filled?) that, according to the meeting agenda, featured a closed-session during which that Board deliberated the appointment which culminated in the announcement of Park Ridge resident Pablo Morales to fill Leys’ seat.  And even now that the announcement has been made, the identities of the 6 other applicants still appears to be a closely-guarded secret.

Unlike D-64, even the D-207 Board’s applicant interviews must have been conducted in closed session – based on that August 27 agenda and a Chicago Tribune article (“District 207 seeks to fill board vacancy,” 08.07.14) in which Beery was quoted as being “almost certain” that both the interviews and Board deliberations would be conducted in closed session. So, even more than with D-64, the D-207 taxpayers were deprived of any meaningful ability to judge the qualifications of the applicants for themselves, and to contribute to the selection process of either Mr. Morales or his anonymous competition for that vacancy.

For a School Board fixated on minimizing scrutiny and avoiding accountability for such dubious “achievements” as the continuing decline in the academic rankings of D-207 and Maine South, sharing the identities (and, heaven forbid, the applications and resumes) of applicants for such an important position in advance of the selection just wouldn’t be prudent.  Consequently, unless a D-207 version of Edward Snowden leaks that information, D-207 taxpayers will have to blindly accept the glowing assurances of Board president Margaret McGrath (in the announcement of Morales’ appointment) that D-207 “had seven outstanding candidates from which to choose”; and that Morales was the best of the bunch.

Just like D-207 taxpayers had to blindly accept McGrath’s glowing assurances that D-207 “had nine outstanding candidates from which to choose” the replacement for a departing Donna Pellar (who only moved outside the district) in announcing the appointment of Paula Besler after a similarly stealthy selection process that culminated in another Sunday afternoon closed-session interview process and deliberation last April – according to the agenda for that meeting.

Whether Morales and Besler truly were the best choices among the applicants is a question that likely will never be answered because, now that both of those kangaroo courts have rendered their verdicts, even a FOIA request for those names-that-must-not-be-spoken and their applications/resumes doesn’t appear to be worth the effort.

But we believe it’s worth mentioning that Morales currently has two sons attending Maine South. And Besler has two children at Maine South, with another one likely to go there upon graduation from D-64. If that causes D-207 taxpayers to wonder just how aggressive Morales and Besler might be in holding Maine South teachers and administrators accountable for their performance, or in overseeing negotiations of the next teachers’ contract, or in considering raises and benefits for administrators, it should.

Over the years we have repeatedly heard parents of Maine South and D-64 students express anxiety aplenty about whether and how to voice complaints about curriculum, books, materials and personnel for fear of retaliation or other repercussions against their school children. And we’ve heard anecdotes about such retaliation and repercussions actually occurring.

Whether those anecdotes are legit or pure hooey is effectively meaningless, however, because the prospective chilling effect on parents appears to be real.

Accordingly, filling the School Boards of both D-207 and D-64 with arguably “vulnerable” members whose duty to look out for the taxpayers’ interests might very well be compromised (if not outright conflicted) by their desire to look out for the interests of their own children, creates a risk – and maybe even a likelihood – that such vulnerable Board members will just be more bobble-head rubber stampers for whatever the teachers and administrators want.  It also raises a legitimate question of whether these opaque selection processes are being orchestrated by D-207’s and D-64’s Board presidents, each of whom have children in schools within their respective bailiwicks.

Meanwhile, these Star Chamber selection processes are big-time whacks on the derrieres of the taxpayers by their elected and appointed officials whose governmental bodies consume, collectively, over TWO-THIRDS of our property taxes.

Thank you, Boards…may we have another?

To read or post comments, click on title.

45 comments so far

You obviously are on top of things and have been in PR longer than I have. I have never had any intimidation by any D64 or D207 teacher or admin and have never heard anything about such an event from a very large group of fellow parents that I know.

In the history of these districts, or at least in your time here, has there ever been any public reference to what you are referring to about retaliation??……ever?? In a paper?? Any legal action?? Lot’s of lawyers in PR and plenty of folks with good lawyers. If this has occurred there has to have been some legal action. You seem to be implying that this is a regular occurrence and even just the idea of it is disgusting.

The only thing more disgusting is the idea that you would mentioning it at all, only a few lines later to say, “Whether those anecdotes are legit or pure hooey is effectively meaningless”…….what???

So you essentially accuse our schools of being like the freakin’ mafia intimidating fellow citizens AND elected officials (with no proof by the way) but it does not matter if it is true of not?? Funny how you love to rail against anon posters when it suits your needs but you have no problem using completely unsubstantiated data (you yourself allow that it may be complete hooey) when it suits your needs.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Quite the nifty trick of building and knocking down a non-existent straw man – in this case gilded with over-the-top references to teacher/administrator “intimidation,” provable “retaliation,” and the “mafia.” Well played.

But if you would re-read (or re-re-read, if necessary) the post, you would find no “data” – unsubstantiated or otherwise – about actual provable retaliation or repercussions, which is why we referred to the parental expressions as anecdotal and possibly “pure hooey” that nevertheless may explain why people who might actually be paying attention and are concerned about educational underachievement remain silent.

Wikipedia describes “chilling effect” as “the inhibition or discouragement of the legitimate exercise of natural and legal rights by the threat of legal sanction. The right that is most often described as being suppressed by a chilling effect is the US constitutional right to free speech” – and, in the situations we’re talking about, the 1st Amendment right to petition the government (by, e.g., complaining about a teacher or the curriculum). In such situations, fear and perception can take on the power of reality – especially when these School Boards boldly and arrogantly operate in secret Star Chamber fashion.

So you are arguing against people with kids in the districts being on the board because of an unprovable anecdote that may be pure hooey but defintely has a chilling affect.

Of corse for anyone to see things differently than PD there must be some intimidation, if not actual than perceived. There must be some forces for a person to see things differently than PD.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have no one explanation – neither “intimidation” nor “forces,” nor even aggravated mopery with intent to gawk – for why some people sound and act as if secrecy and lack of accountability by our public officials and the institutions they serve are virtues rather than vices. That’s because we take potential conflicts of interest and the appearance of impropriety by public officials as seriously as a heart attack.

So in response to your attempted trivialization of the conflict of interest potential for school board members with kids in schools within their districts, we offer the following:

1. Last Monday night Ald. Marc Mazzuca was advised by City Atty. “Buzz” Hill that he had a conflict of interest in connection with the Council’s consideration of providing City services to Bristol Court and other similar condo and townhome associations because Mazzuca lives in Bristol Court and might benefit financially from such City action. No actual dollar benefit to Mazzuca was calculated.

2. A D-64 Board member with 2 children who have attended D-64 schools from pre-K through 8 (10 years) will have received approximately $220K worth of D-64 education. If said Board member pays $6K/year in taxes to D-64 for each of those 10 years (from a total annual RE tax bill of $18K), he/she will have paid $60K for that $220K of education, for a net profit of $160K.

3. A D-207 Board member paying the same $6K/year in taxes to D-207 and with 2 children attending D-207 schools will have received approximately $136K of D-207 education for his/her $24K in total taxes, for a net profit of $112K.

Yes let’s make sure no one with any children in the schools is appointed or elected to the board for those schools. Let’s appoint or elected people with no kids in the school who won’t follow what is occurring in the school and who will have an interest in merely ensuring that less tax dollars go to the school so they can keep that money to help fund a blog to complain about paying too much in taxes to support our schools. Seems to me people like that have a conflict of interest too (they want less money going to the schools). Look at any community that is considered affluent and desirable with low crime rate and desirable housing and you will see a community with a good school district. Let the schools suffer and so will the community. Just suck it up pay your taxes and when your kids graduate continue to pay your taxes and be grateful that you live in a town worth living in. If you think parents around here skirt their responsibilities to ensuring things are run correctly bc they are worried that teachers will retaliate against their kids you obviously have no kids and no experience observing parents interacting with teachers and administrators. This town is full if parents who stand up to teachers and administrators often. Attend any school function pto meeting or he’ll walk in and ask the principals.
Wow you only have an interest in tearing down our schools to keep your taxes low. Such self interest (or more accurately greed) goes against the social contract you enter into when you decide to live in a community. Sounds like you would be better off in the woods somewhere Build your cabin far away from a community that collects taxes for (heaven forbid) having a safe and good school ) and dork on your manifesto in peace while you stuff your dollars in your mattress. Pubdog you need to lay off the schools aka pillar of any good safe community.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you were to read all of our posts on D-64 or D-207 schools, we believe you would not find even one in which we advocated simply CUTTING funds for schools. Our consistent theme has been giving taxpayers and students VALUE for all the money that already is being spent, and justifying any increases in spending with measurable performance.

Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. For the past 20 years we’ve watched the quality of D-64 schools appear to decline compared to the schools in other communities with whom we often compare Park Ridge; and it would appear that the D-64 decline is contributing to the decline in Maine South’s ranking when compared to those comparable communities’ high schools. Meanwhile, our teachers and administrators continue to be among the highest paid.

And all this has occurred while our school boards are dominated by parents with kids in those under-performing schools.

Just re read your post and cannot get over how you as a childless individual keep trying to argue for less money for our schools. You realize that people specifically move here for the schools right? And those people have kids right? So if people with kids should not be in the school boards because they directly benefit by (omg) having a kid attend school then should we prohibit those that directly benefit from using our public library bc they actually use it from being on its board. Let’s turn the library over to those that never use it bc those that so use it might get intimidated by the librarian threatening them when they come to use the school.
What other brilliant ideas do you have? Maybe our alderman should be limited to the homeless bc them voting on issues that affect property values or condition would create a hopeless conflict like the poor defenseless parents getting intimidated by teachers and administrators . Same for the park district. By your argument we should exclude anyone from serving on the board that uses our parks.
So far the childless individual on d64 has proven to be off the wall and out of touch with what is going on or what is needed in our schools
Also to compare this situation to the condo owning alderman is just wrong. If you are relying on a poorly drafted ethics ordinance relating to our elected officials and a pretty bone headed legal opinion (I heard the city is looking to bid out the legal services contract and apparently for a good reason) you apparently went to a school that failed in its duties to its students.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editor has four children, two of whom attended D-64 schools, 1 of whom attended Maine South.

Now that we got that part of your ad hominem out of the way, read the note to your previous post.

Maybe if you explained your statement it wouldn’t seem so absurd. You state.

“Over the years we have repeatedly heard parents of Maine South and D-64 students express anxiety aplenty about whether and how to voice complaints about curriculum, books, materials and personnel for fear of retaliation or other repercussions against their school children. ”

“Repeatedly heard” “over the years”. Can you quantify that for us? A childless guy like you spends a lot if time listening to the complaints of parents about “anxiety” to voice complaints of school issues?! Really?! Were these individuals wanting to run for school boards bc I would think such insecure people wouldn’t want to subject themselves to pubdogs criticism once elected – apparently they fear you not but fear the teachers and administrators.
Almost Every parent I know speaks out to their kids teacher principal and anyone that will listen when they feel something is going wrong at the school. Email chains petitions and sometimes talk of pitchforks and torches. What people are talking to for these “repeated concerns over voicing criticism”?
Just wondering if these people you have heard this from are real or live in the dark greedy confines of your brain along with the other voices you hear in there?
I love your blog but you really are too hyped up about decreasing tax dollars from our schools and doing so would cause the whole community to decline.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please refer to the notes to your previous two comments. What will cause the economy to decline are increasing taxes for stagnant or declining performance – as we’ve described in other posts.

Your post talks about the duty if a d64 or d207 board member being to safeguard taxpayers? Don’t those board members have a duty to safeguard the interests of the children who attend the schools in the district and by extension their parents who entrust both the safety and education of their most important aspect of their life to these schools?
If the goal was merely safeguarding tax dollars then just buy the cheapest books pay the cheapest salaries and liquidate school property and assets to the bare minimum and invest in charter schools.
If your goal is to ensure the students get a safe environment and a full array of sports extracurricular and educational curriculum you need to think about more than just the bottom line and I would argue that parents with children attending those schools will be THE MOST motivated to ensure that safety extracurricular and academic issues are safeguarded and improved.

EDITOR’S NOTE: See our Editor’s Notes to your previous comments.

The sad part about this and your previous comments is that either you don’t see or, more likely, won’t admit how the students of these schools are being shortchanged by education that doesn’t appear to be matching up to the increasing sums of money being spent on it.

You state that the board of education members duty is to look out for taxpayers but the district websites says the purpose is:

Duties of the Board & Committee Work

With the interests of students in mind, the board represents the views of the community in matters affecting education. It also determines educational standards, adopts policies for the administration of the school system, employs a superintendent, authorizes the appointment of staff members, approves curriculum, adopts a budget to maintain and operate the schools, and levies taxes to support the budget. Although the board has final control over many local school matters, it is also subject to state and federal laws. Six committees accomplish much of the necessary work before the board arrives at final decisions. Like regular board meetings, committee meetings are meetings held in public, but are not public meetings. Interested citizens may better understand the background of board decisions by observing these meetings. The committees are: Buildings and Grounds; Community Relations; Education; Employee Relations; Finance; and Policy. Current committee assignments are listed here.

Statement of Purpose
Together we provide a safe environment and challenging educational experiences for students to become informed, inqusitive, responsible, creative, and reasoning individuals.

Parents are certainly equipped and motivated to help with this states purpose so excluding parents from school boards is just plain – dumb

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have not argued for “excluding parents from school boards.” We do believe, however, that the community and the students would benefit from more school board members who don’t have a direct, personal economic interest in spending more and more taxpayer money on schools that aren’t providing more and more value for that money in the mere hope that their kids might still get something, anything, out of all that extra expense.

I was at the football game last night. Man what a game!! In the early stages when things looked bad and at the half, I had a chance to bring up this subject with about 15 parents having a chat. All of them have had kids in D64 and now D207. Ya know what the response was?? LAUGHTER.

Not one has experienced, seen, heard or even thought about the potential for teacher retaliation…..not one!! All (including me) have had some rather tense discussions with teachers and admin over the years as any parent who advocates for their child would experience and never had back lash. They thought even the suggestion of it was a complete joke.

I realize this is not a scientific study but it has all the validity of you saying “you have heard over the years”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is why anecdotal “evidence” is next to worthless, and why we keep focusing on objective performance measurements such as standarized tests. And why D-64 and D-207 prefer to “measure” by anecdotes.

You never answered the question of how many people and over how many years “you heard from over the years voicing anxiety to speak out in a school issue”?

How does maine south and our d64 schools rank if you factor out selective enrollment a schools from the rankings? After factoring out selective enrollment school how do salaries compare to ranking?

What type of colleges do our maine south graduates attend and what percentage go on to college? You seem way too hung up on test scores and not looking at what is being offered. Are students that are behind helped? Are students that are ahead challenged? Do our schools offer programs many of the higher ranked schools (especially Chicago ones) don’t? Take it from someone who knows CPS that many of those higher ranked schools are not “better” or do more for their students than d64 or d207 academically in extracurricular activities and even in sports.

EDITOR’s NOTE: Over the past 20 years we’ve heard it, in various styles, dozens of times. But the numbers don’t matter because we can’t document it any better than you can document the contrary. Which, again, is why we focus on measurable data instead of anecdotes.

We have only used the U.S. News & World ratings once – to challenge former D-207 Board member Eldon Burk’s contention that D-207 was “one of the greatest school districts in the country” – when those ratings put Maine South as the 691st-ranked high school in the country, and the 29th-ranked high school in Illinois; and the Chicago Sun-Times’ rankings of Chicago-area high schools based on ISAT scores put Maine South at 24th.

As for all those other questions you ask, try answering them and let’s see if your answers are more persuasive than the rankings and ISAT-based comparisons.

This ranking has maine south as 6th best high school in the cook county suburbs. Are our d207 teachers paid in the top 5 of all suburban cook county schools? Your argument doesn’t seen to hold water.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This ranking has Maine South 23d in Chicago area, 24th in the state:

And in this one, for 2013, has Maine South down to 28th, while showing a continuatual decline from 24th in 2011 down to 26th in 2012:

Have Maine South’s teachers and administrators had a comparable decline in pay? No, they have received INCREASED pay for declining comparative student performance.

Oh, and BTW, in this same Sun-Times 2013 analysis no D-64 elementary or middle school is ranked among the top 50.


PD’s reply to you is a perfect example of what you are dealing with. Ya see, anyone who disagrees with PD on any given issue (in this case school board members) must have some special interest. Rather that allowing that some of these folks might have different positions, it must be because they have ” personal economic interest in spending more and more taxpayer money on schools that aren’t providing more and more value for that money in the mere hope that their kids might still get something, anything, out of all that extra expense”.

That or they feel threatened by theachers and admin and it is having a chilling affect!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: What do you see as the merit of the D-207 School Board concealing the names of the unsuccessful applicants, or of holding its interviews and deliberations in closed-session?

And while you’re at it, take a stab at explaining D-207 performance leader Maine South’s declining achievement rankings.

I can answer them all in favor of maine south and against schools I have had experience with that “rank” higher by us news.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course you can, and you’ve got the backing of two staffs of highly-paid teachers and adminstrators – and two rubber-stamping school boards – that will back you up with more warm-and-fuzzy anecdotes than we could print here in the next two weeks.

To the Anon, Anon Parts, and Anonymous poster –

What part of “some of the highest paid teashers in the state” and Maine So dropping from 5th (when my kids went there) to 26th and the elementary schools not even in the top 50 don’t YOU get?

And no, the opinions 15 parents whose kids are on the football team (or cheerleader ot poms squads) are hardly a “scientific study”, but probably a self-interest group at best, whose opinions mean squat.

What part of magnet and selective enrollment schools don’t you understand? Those didn’t exist in the number they do today and change the rankings which are not a good indicator anyways?
Maybe you being stuck in the past is the problem. You don’t have children now in school so you don’t give a rats behind about continuing to fund our schools in this every competitive environment. You used the schools when you needed then now you just want more tax dollars in your pocket than in our schools. How convenient for you!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editor’s 4 children cumulatively attended 52 years of K-12 school, only 12 of which were funded by D-64 or D-207 taxpayers despite this editor’s paying property taxes to both bodies – about which he has never complained because it was a voluntary education decision.

Historically, most people that have moved to Park Ridge have come from the City of Chicago or lower-class suburbs – and they have come here despite higher taxes primarily BECAUSE OF THE SCHOOLS. But if they can stay in Chicago and send their kids to better schools, be they magnet or selective enrollment, than they can get here, that’s one less significant reason for them to move to Park Ridge – and one more reason for Park Ridge property values to stagnate or decline rather than increase.

But what does this have to do with the subject of the post: the D-207 Board’s Star Chamber interview and selection process for the new Board member?

So only your anecdotes are valid? Wow. Like I said you no longer care about schools since your kids no longer use them. At least support the schools for those that still need them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Who said our anecdotes are any more valid than yours? THAT’s why we focus on facts, ISATs and rankings based on the ISATs.

There’s no good reason for any taxpayer to pay more for less unless he/she is stupid or reckless.

You pubdog are part of a special interest group too. The freeloader that used the schools years ago no longer has kids to use the school so has an interest to stop sending tax dollars or increased tax dollars to schools. So your special interest opinion should be discounted – using your own twisted greedy logic

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we previously pointed out, this editor voluntarily chose to use Park Ridge public schools for only 12 of his 4 children’s 52 years of K-12 education while paying full-boat taxes to D-64 and D-207. So if being a net user or a net donor is the criterion you want to employ, this editor will put his record up against yours. Oh, wait, your record isn’t available because you hide in anonymity.

Never mind.

Dear ANON ON 08.30.14 5:52 AM:

Laughter? They were laughing all the way to the bank. They pay less than half the cost of their children’s educations, and we pay the other half.

The school board should be equally composed of parents and/or taxpayers with children in the schools, and others with children in other schools or no school at all.

We pay for your kids’ educations and have a right to say how — or how much of — that money should be spent.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’ve underestimated the subsidies by close to 100% for D-64 Board members with 1 kid in D-64 schools (@ $13K/year) paying $5K/year (1/3 of a $15K tax bill), and by close to 200% for D-207 Board members with 1 kid in D-207 schools (@ $17K/year).

For the D-64 School Board member with 2 kids in D-64 schools, the subsidy is closer to 400%; and for the D-207 School Board member with 2 kids in D-207 schools, the subsidy is close to 600%. Annually.

So the incentive for those School Board members to demand FULL VALUE and increased performance for any increases in teacher and administrator salaries, and the increased taxes needed to pay for them, is what exactly?

PW, thanks for all the information. But why indulge these digressions from the subject of the post which is D-207 school board hiding the selection process from the taxpayers AND parents like me.

I thinks it’s ridiculous and insulting that Ms. McGrath and her fellow board members would run this process in this way, which is the same way they did it for Paula Besler.

This is what I have come to expect from Madigan and the state Democrats, and the RINOS who roll with them. And this is what I should have expected from Democrats on the D-207 board (McGrath, Owen, Lee, Besler) and the RINOS (Leys, Sullivan and Childers).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because every commentator who refuses to address the dishonest selection process serves as further proof that there IS no defense for what the D-207 Board has done, or the only slightly more transparent process the D-64 employed.

“Oh, wait, your record isn’t available because you hide in anonymity”. The ole’ PD stock answer when someone disagrees.

When someone supports his position and are anonymous he never seems to have a problem with the anonymous part and often plays off of their “support”. It is only those who question his position where he plays the anon card.

In this thread, guess how many posts would be here if actual valid names were required???……ZERO!!!! Not a single supporter or detractor chose to use their actual name. Zippo….zilch….nada……nary a one. His opinion on anon posters changes by the situation that suits him. If they support him…..yeah!!!! If they do not support him there is something suspicious about being anonymous.

Kind of like his belief that anecdotal information is not valid, unless of course HE decides to use it in a post to support his theory about board members……then it is perfectly valid information.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anecdotal information is never “valid” – except to demonstrate the invalidity of other anecdotal information.

Re anonymity, we will challenge it anytime a commentator hides behind it to ignore the issues and make unfounded, or outright false, ad hominem charges against anyone – public officials, residents, or this editor – in this case, the charge that this editor is a freeloader who “used the schools years ago” but now wants to stiff current users.

So we reiterate our challenge to 9:43 a.m., or yourself, to identify him/her/yourself and match your record of local public school use with this editor’s: and the number to beat is using the taxpayers for less than 23% of your children’s K-12 educations.

Or you could try something really different and actually address the cowardly way the D-207 Board concealed the names of the applicants for the Board vacancy, and hid both the interview and deliberation process from the taxpayers.

What was the tax rate 20 years ago when you used the school for your children? And why during those years of using the schools did you not speak up about keeping tax dollars for uses other than teacher raises or funding all the other programs that many higher “ranked” Chicago schools lack and which keeps those with children coming to park ridge?
Let’s compose the library board with citizens that don’t use the library bc of the anecdotal fear of self interested votes if you happen to be (god forbid) both on the board and a user of the system.
Boneheaded idea? Or self interested person who no longer uses the school bc children are older or person wants to partake of private education. You live in the town whose schools continue (homes still selling and prices creeping up) to attract taxpayers who will use the schools for a whole and then continue to pay taxes when kids move on to college. You display a self interest in keeping more tax dollars in your greedy hands and away from our schools while you freeload and accept the benefit of increased property value when the McMansion builders come to town – and with the economy improving they are starting again.

Just as you believe parents currently with kids in public schools are “conflicted” so to are those who seek to keep funding lower to our schools so that they can pay lower taxes yet accept the benefit of having an attractive community.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We support an “enlightened” self-interest that demands better educational performance in return for increased taxpayer dollars. If you prefer stagnant or declining student achievement while that taxpayers pay more so that teachers and administrators are paid more, just say so.

So of the only 12 years of 52 your kids were in k-12 schools 20years ago you are able to say and try to use as fact:

“Over the years we have repeatedly heard parents of Maine South and D-64 students express anxiety aplenty about whether and how to voice complaints about curriculum, books, materials and personnel for fear of retaliation or other repercussions against their school children. And we’ve heard anecdotes about such retaliation and repercussions actually occurring.”

Wow. Maybe you are confusing those parents with the ones you spoke to at the non-public school. Parents nowadays are not afraid to speak up ask any teacher or administrator. It’s just that if they are not ranting your rants they are deemed unimportant misguided or deceived. Thank goodness you are here with your combined 12 of 52 years of public education experience from 20 years ago to tell us what our schools need to improve in 2014 and beyond.

Maybe you can also instruct us how to make travel by horse more efficient too?

EDITOR’S NOTE: You already seem to have mastered the back end of the horse, so we’ll leave you to figure out how to make the front end work, too.

“EDITOR’S NOTE: This editor’s 4 children cumulatively attended 52 years of K-12 school, only 12 of which were funded by D-64 or D-207 taxpayers despite this editor’s paying property taxes to both bodies – about which he has never complained because it was a voluntary education decision.”

Really pubdog? You never complain about paying taxes to the two park ridge school districts?! Really?
How many of your posts about “stop giving teacher raises” “stop buying chrome books” are about complaining about paying your taxes instead of your alleged concern about transparency or that the boards are an intimidated rubber stamping crowd. You try to manipulate the conversation to give you an advantage of paying less tax dollars to our schools – oh yeah and our parks “waa waa waa stop building new pools or buying new land my tax bill is too high and my kids are grown…waaa waaa waaa”

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, we never complain about the mere act of paying taxes to those two school districts – just paying more taxes for less performance and declining academic rankings. But from all of your comments on this point, it appears paying more for less is your idea of good government. Different strokes, apparently.



” and the number to beat is using the taxpayers for less than 23% of your children’s K-12 educations.”
So you were a freeloader for only 12 years 20 years ago when the cost of education and everything else including our property taxes were lower? (That is under your use of OPM theory). Congratulations. You are the best. Did the catholic schools charge tuition equal to the cost of educating a child? Or are those that pay private school tuition freeloaders too if they only pay tuition and not fund the fundraising that closes the gap in cost of educating a child?
Your greedy arguments can be twisted to even make you out to be a freeloader OR maybe none of us are freeloaders just paying our taxes to find all things public under our social contract?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nope, during the 20 years this editor had K-12 aged children, he paid approximately $95K in taxes to D-64 for approximately $80K in educational benefits, and another $95K to D-207 for $16K in educational benefits.

And nope, too, re private schools – although those costs are irrelevant to this discussion because private school owners aren’t taxing bodies.

So according to you I am a freeloader if I send my kids to public school bc my property tax contribution is less than the cost of educating my kid per year?
But if I send one kid for 12 years and send my other kids to private or stop using the schools bc my kids go on to college I am not a freeloader so long as I whine about your perceived (based on 20 year old conversations with parents) inefficiencies and lack of value. Yeah I really feel out if the kindness of your heart you long to make sure our students get value for the money put into the schools! Or do you just want to try and get everyone up in arms about how much money is going to teacher raises and our schools in hopes of getting a tax break for yourself and others similarly situated that no longer use our schools. Nice of you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we pointed out in response to one of your other 18 comments, we support an “enlightened” self-interest that demands better educational performance in return for increased taxpayer dollars. So, once again, if you prefer stagnant or declining student achievement while that taxpayers pay more so that teachers and administrators are paid more, just say so.

And you really should identify yourself (other than by “anon part ii,” “anon part iv,” “snob,” “sad,” “tax dollars are good,” etc.) so our readers can know the school board member has these great ideas; or, if you aren’t already a school board member, who they can draft to run for one of the school boards.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’ve underestimated the subsidies by close to 100% for D-64 Board members with 1 kid in D-64 schools (@ $13K/year) paying $5K/year (1/3 of a $15K tax bill), and by close to 200% for D-207 Board members with 1 kid in D-207 schools (@ $17K/year).

So if I stay in town beyond the years of my child attending public schools and continue to pay taxes on my ever increasing property taxes home do I make up for the years others helped subsidize?

Guess we should determine how much of the library police fire etc we all actually use and adjust our tax bills to make it more fair for those of you without kids currently in school. Most of us will eventually not have kids in school to – laws of nature- but we will not whine about it but allow those with young kids to benefit and be able to rely on their neighborhood school. Creates a stable and desirable town for us to live and keep our home in during retirement or allows our grand kids to move into town for same reasons we did years ago.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It all depends on how large a subsidy you will have pocketed, but probably not – because you sound like someone who makes sure they take more out of the pot than they put in. Which is why they have nothing to “whine about” when it comes to government taxing, borrowing and spending…until they move to another community with lower taxes when the math no longer works in their favor.

And the longer Park Ridge taxpayers continue to pay more for less – as we’ve been doing for D-64 and D-207 educations that gouge taxpayers while shortchanging students – the less attractive Park Ridge will be to kids, grandkids, and outsiders looking for the best value for their housing dollars.

Here is a quote that shows you don’t give a rats behind about the CURRENT students or current parents now that you are a student-less man living in park ridge:

“EDITOR’S NOTE: Based on the numbers we’ve seen and heard, of the approximately 14,000 households in D-64 less than 3,000 have children enrolled in D-64 schools. How long do you think those other 9,000 housholds will keep on tolerating escalating taxes providing increasingly sweetheart compensation and benefits for teachers and administrators in the face of stagnant or declining performance?”

You are concerned with the 9,000 households (aka your special interest conflicted group who if appointed or elected to a school board will not tolerate escalating taxes used for our schools).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Other than correcting the math error and increasing the households without D-64 students from 9,000 to 11,000, yes, we are always more concerned with the payers than with the users – especially when those users are getting major subsidies from the payers.

I hate to interrupt all these irrelevant comments but unlike the critics of this blog editor who keep avoiding the issue of this post, my confidence in the competence and honesty of the D-207 board (and any other local governing body) diminishes every time it pulls shots like this secret appointment process.

EDITOR’S NOTE: They can’t defend the D-207 school board’s Star Chamber conduct, so they need to play “Look, there goes Elvis!” Unfortunately for taxpayers, the D-207 Board doesn’t care what people like you think about secret appointment processes – so long as they can keep squeezing more cash out of you for declining achievement.

“So if being a net user or a net donor is the criterion you want to employ, this editor will put his record up against yours.”

So if one person has one child (uses the school for only k through 8) and owns a McMansion and pays higher “full boat” taxes than say…I don’t know…someone in a small condo that pays lower taxes and used public schools in park ridge for 12 years…and if the McMansion owner stays in park ridge and continues to pay full boat taxes after his kid moves out and you continue to pay your lower taxes – whose record is better? Especially if one of those respectfully continues to pay taxes without trying to cut of teacher pay raises or other increased funding to schools to make sure another generation of kids (not just his own) get to attend schools with great facilities all kinds of sports and academic classes that cater to those falling behind and those who are advanced. Oh yeah and continue to produce students that get in to colleges they want to attend? If the students advanced to colleges and careers of their choice isn’t that a better indicator of the value they received (if you try cared about that as opposed to just keeping tax dollars to yourself) as opposed to rank based on criteria that factors in test scores from schools that get to pick and choose the best students to the exclusion of other worthy students who are forced to trek miles away from their neighborhoods to get a decent education with less of the extracurriculara technology sports than do our schools? Really it’s been 20 years since your kids attended a school. Please go visit a few and talk to some graduates and current parents

EDITOR’S NOTE: The problem with people like you who grab the benefits of their “social contract” up front, and then claim they’ll catch up if they stay around for 20 or so years after they stop taking benefits, is that they often don’t – and are even less likely to do so as the taxes go even higher for lower-ranked schools that make those schools less attractive to the people who historically have moved to Park Ridge and lifted property values.

Maybe the board members with kids in the school system also have “enlightened self interest” or do you have exclusive use of such self interest which is why it was ok for you to be a net user of the schools for 12 years 20 years ago but now that you are student less let the current d64 and d207 students eat cake so your “enlightened” self interest can translate into more dollars in your pocket. Nice of you – shows you really care about the students as opposed to caring about lining your pockets (maybe instead of pubdog you should be “mr potter” and the students of park ridge are the lazy villagers of pottersville). Faking concern for our students receiving value is not very appealing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The only folks “[f]aking concern for our students” are the school board members who have presided over the decline in academic performance and rankings while they continue to raise taxes and increase spending – and their apologists like yourself, assuming you’re not a board member – while operating like Star Chambers.

Though we believe pubdogs motives for criticizing the process is not so parents or students get better value but so he and his special interest group can keep more tax dollars in his pocket (don’t blame you just be honest about your motives in speaking against the process) there are done legitimate reasons for executive session that can be found in numerous guides (mostly by state attorney generals and various non for profit groups that speak to the issue). Included among those reasons for executive session for interviews of candidates to fill board vacancies is that the board does not want to give the interviewees who interview last having an advantage- that is if the interviews are public the board can ask interviewees to leave the room before they sit for their interview BUT the law would say it is a public meeting and all of the public can stay and watch including the next interviewees Hardly “starchamber” motives. Take a breathe and ask why before you crucify the board and instill fear and hatred unnecessarily.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have always spoken against local government secrecy, including for issues that have no monetary aspect – like interviews of board applicants and the deliberations by arrogant yet cowardly board members about the selection of the “winning” applicant, none of which are required by state law, or “state attorney generals.”

Sadly, the D-207 Board didn’t even have the integrity to publicly announce the lame explanation you came up with – assuming the Board shares that explanation.

“The only folks “[f]aking concern for our students” are the school board members who have presided over the decline in academic performance and rankings while they continue to raise taxes and increase spending –”

What is the motive you believe that board members (especially those with children in schools) would fake concern for students? Or raise taxes if they don’t think it would help the students – including their own children?

Are the students not getting into the colleges of their choice? Isn’t that the ultimate indicator of a high school in a town of the demographics of park ridge?

EDITOR’S NOTE: How about they realize they are way over their skis and have no solutions to stop the slide in educational quality but are too embarrassed to admit it. So they fake concern and just throw more money at the problem in the hope that something might happen to make things better.

Where’s your proof that students ARE getting into the colleges of their choice? And who said that’s “the ultimate indicator” of anything?

“Where’s your proof that students ARE getting into the colleges of their choice? And who said that’s “the ultimate indicator” of anything?”

Anecdotal evidence : I “have heard it dozens of times over the past several years” and attended many graduation parties with some pretty impressive college acceptance letters in display. Didn’t you say anecdotal evidence can’t be disproven. I have evolved into pubdog arguments. – how you like it?

Pud dog jr

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, we said anecdotal evidence is next to worthless.

Try again.

“EDITOR’S NOTE: Anecdotal information is never “valid” – except to demonstrate the invalidity of other anecdotal information.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: And your point is?

My anecdotal evidence demonstrates the invalidity of yours.
I didn’t think you were that old? Guess I was wrong in that too. 🙂

EDITOR’S NOTE: You should be proud, as that’s the closest you’ve come to demonstrating anything.

You should be used to being wrong by now.

“George Bailey” and those other commentators who call the taxpayers “greedy” have it backwards, as shown by things like D-64’s “free” Chromebooks and D-207’s increasing taxes while its rankings drop. And those commentators who don’t want to include Chicago magnet and selective enrollment schools in the rankings miss the fact that Maine South is a selective enrollment school because its students are the children of people economically successful enough to live here, just like New Trier, Glenbrook South,and similar schools are selective enrollment for the same reasons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “George” and that commentator’s other multiple personalities are trying to label the net payers as “greedy” – and the net takers/users as something else – because he/she/they can defend D-207’s and D-64’s tradition of sucking more and more cash out of the taxpayers while providing less in terms of measurable performance. But if people actually fall for that “There goes Elvis!” tactic, they deserve to have their pockets picked.

It looks like a number of commentators sure want to take the spotlight off the D-207 Board’s secret “Star Chamber” (good one, PW) selection of its second non-elected board member. This kind of secrecy is unacceptable, and the reason given by “Just The Facts” is stupid.

These board members could not even come up with any surprise stumper questions. But even if they could, they could solve any preview advantage by requiring all the applicants, as a condition of their candidacy, to wait in a “Green Room” waiting area until they were summoned for their interview.

Both of our school boards are filled with Kool-Aid chuggers, which I am glad PW has pointed out. After having endorsed McGrath and Childers for 207, and Borrelli and Paterno for 64, you owe us.

Personally, I wish the creationists, climate change deniers and anti-sex-ed parents would be more nervous about complaining re the curriculum than they are. When I went to D64 schools, “the movie” left the young ladies knowing why they have to be careful now. When my daughter saw it in the early 2000’s, it was confined to talking about how not to make a mess for the custodian by planning ahead. I am not making this up. You don’t have to live in Texas for the anti-reality folks to control a lot of the agenda. As to nervousness about confronting an unfair or inadequate teacher, PubDog has a point. Kids who fit in and/or can skillfully work the system may not need it, but exceptional kids of all kinds, including the overly bright for our purposes, have a tougher time, and some do indeed beg their ‘rents not to intervene for fear of reprisal. Hell, we know it happens frequently in the workplace, in domestic life and any other situation where there is unequal power (perceived or actual) and misdeeds have to practically be felonious to rise to the level of attention. Why not in schools? Now, that’s when it comes in handy to have a lawyer who can call the school office! I’d also like to mention that even a parent who sends his or her child to parochial or private school may be a “taker” of the public school system for the extras not provided at the former, including the labor-intensive, not-always-ranking-raising work with special needs kids who only the public schools have an obligation to take. His kids may be fine, but what if his grand-kids are among the ever-escalating number of children with autism? He will be very glad the public schools are there for his child, who is not fabulous, merely a citizen.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The “creationists, climate change deniers and anti-sex-ed parents” are virtually irrelevant, except as another convenient red herring to distract the terminally gullible and stupid from the decline in student achievement that has led to declining school rankings despite higher taxes.

You are right, however, about the parent of a parochial school kid who gets special ed services paid for out of the public purse, but the parents of those kids may not be taking out as much in services as they are paying in taxes even while their kid is receiving those services.

As for a current taxpayer’s autistic grandkid getting special ed from the public school, that only matters if the current taxpayer’s kid can afford Park Ridge home prices and taxes.

To anonymous 3:40am if you think the type of “selective enrollment” you are defining when people move to suburbs to rely on their neighborhood school doesn’t occur in Chicago with the wealthy ask the republican gubernatorial candidate who had a high schooler in a Chicago magnet school while living in one of the northshore suburbs that pubdog always states attracts better people than the Chicago and lower middle class suburbanites that move to park ridge. If maine south could accept only certain kids that it tested before admittance rankings would be higher. That is what the north side prep and Peyton etc Chicago schools do.

EDITOR’S NOTE: So Rauner clouted his kid into No. 2 ranked Whitney Young so that she didn’t have to go to No. 4 ranked New Trier which, like Maine South, has to accept everybody within its boundaries? That doesn’t explain away Maine South getting schooled by all those other suburban schools that also have to accept everybody, like No. 5 Hinsdale Central, No. 6 Deerfield, No. 7 Stevenson, No. 8 Glenbrook North, No. 10 Lake Forest, No. 11 Vernon Hills, No. 12 Naperville Central, No. 13 Nequa Valley, No. 14 Libertyville, No. 15 Highland Park, No. 16 Barrington, No. 17 Prospect, No. 18 Naperville North, No. 20 Downers Grove North, No. 21 Fremd and No. 22 Hersey.

The lower my taxes special interest group has just as much of a “conflict” (as pubdog defined) as the parents using the schools.
If not giving raises was a certain way to incentivize teachers (you really don’t think much of teachers if you feel they will only do what they have to do to get kids testing higher if they are incentivize with monetary gain or loss) why hasn’t that proven to be the case with other schools or even with private schools.
You offer no scholastic remedies -nor do your special interst group followers – but merely a remedy that benefits your pocket book. Hard not to park that greed over caring what benefit the students (the focus if any school board) receive.
What you really would enjoy is getting rid of public education all together and minimizing taxes. If that is the case we can also go back to the days of private fire departments where firefighting companies often fought over who got there first as the house burns down. Police can be privatized too – charge a fee for those that use the police- to avoid net users.
Let’s sell our library to Barnes and noble so that only those that use the book depot actually get charges for it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nice try, but this post isn’t about privatizing fire departments, police, libraries, or even schools.

It’s about how a bunch of cowardly and apparently inept school board members rubber-stamping the continuing decline in the performance ranking of its flagship school, Maine South, hid behind closed doors to interview and choose the latest appointee to that Board, after doing the same thing with the previous appointee just a few months ago.

Those D-207 Board members were the ones elected to provide “scholastic remedies” – or at least oversee the provision of such remedies by the District’s highly-paid teachers and administrators – a task at which all concerned have have failed miserably despite annual non-performance based raises that not-surprisingly have rewarded non-performance.

Those other school districts don’t have a special interest group blogger filling the heads of his followers with claims of “just hold back raises and you our students scores will soar like an eagle” or maybe, just maybe factors and solutions beyond just amount of money are at play. You know factors and solutions that you never address because your interest in keeping taxes low creates a conflict you cannot seem to get over – you know the type of overwhelming conflict that you argue inflicts our board members who have children attending public schools creating them into rubber stamps.
Your followers too have been created into a rubber stamping group of any opinion of pub dog that seeks lower taxes.
Assumptions of bad motives abound without even asking the board in the first place what the motive for the action was. Such knee jerk reaction to anything that you perceive doesn’t save you tax dollars is not productive. Maybe you are the cause of this?

See unbridled paranoia doesn’t just come from you and your blog

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have never written that holding back raises will improve student scores or rankings, but we have observed that giving out non-merit based raises has been accompanied by declining performance and rankings. As Einstein wrote about insanity, that’s doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

There are no “factors and solutions” – however you choose not to define or explain them – that excuse school board members who are elected to look out for ALL the people of the community but, instead, stick it to the taxpayers while ineptly presiding over downward-sliding student performance and rankings that feather the teachers’ and administrators’ nests. Irrespective of whether those board members are the sub-idiots Mark Twain labeled school board members more than 100 years ago, or whether they are acting (albeit ineptly) for their own/their children’s special interests, the bottom line is that they are failing badly.

Which might explain why they want to conceal from the taxpayers the way they go about appointing these last two board members, presumably to join them in rubber-stamping more business as usual.

To see the real motivation simply look at these facts. The editor of this blog and his followers love to go on about the evils of underperforming teachers, bureaucrats and special interests. Yet who exactly is involved in these tests that rate schools?? Teachers, bureaucrats and special interests. He/they go on about the incompetence of government and yet rely on test scores generated by that same government as their evidence.

By the way, read the sun times article about the charter schools are doing as compared to the old CPS schools.

Charter schools….now talk about special interests!!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please provide chapter and verse of the post that advocates for charter schools over traditional public schools.

And while you’re at it, where’s your proof that “[t]eachers, bureaucrats and special interests” do the rankings?

The ISBE are not bureaucrats?? The teachers whose competence you question are not involved in administering the test? Were there not consultants who got paid tax payer dollars to “write” the test or participate in writing the test??

I never stated you were for Charter schools, did I?? I simply pointed them out as a special interest and provided an article for your readers information.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sure the ISBE is populated by “bureaucrats,” but not LOCAL educational bureaucrats trying to fleece LOCAL taxpayers of more pay for less performance. And those ISBE bureaucrats measure performance by using OBJECTIVE test results on STANDARDIZED test rather than warm-and-fuzzy SUBJECTIVE grading by teachers who may try to hide their incompetence by inflating grades to Lake Woebegone “above-average” standards.

Now, if you’re questioning those test results because LOCAL teachers are too inept to administer those tests, then they also must be too inept to teach – which would explain the declining performance. And whether the tests were written by consultants or the Keebler Elves doesn’t do anything to lessen the problem of Maine South’s declining performance rankings when viewed in the light of the performance by what should be comparable districts.

Since there are no “charter” schools in Park Ridge, your reference to them is irrelevant and stupid. Keep up the good work.

Tell me one “decider” who, when given the chance, does not appoint people who will reliably further his own objectives. Oh, I forgot; it’s only wrong, corrupt, stupid, etc. when someone who does not share your values does it. When your compadres do it, it’s A-OK and in everyone’s best interests.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, it’s “wrong, corrupt, stupid, etc.” when it’s done in the secrecy of closed sessions – as perpetrated by D-207 Board president Margaret McGrath and her bobble-heads for BOTH the interview precess AND the deliberations resulting in the recent appointments of Paula Besler and Pablo Morales. Even the D-64 Board held its applicant interviews in open session before running and hiding in closed session to deliberate secretly over its choice of new appointee Bob Johnson.

From what we know of the School Board members involved, we conclude that they prefer these secret interviews and deliberations because (a) they don’t want any public input that they would prefer not to hear; and (b) they don’t want anybody seeing and hearing (or reading about in published minutes) their deliberations which might suggest they failed to choose the most qualified applicant. In other words, no transparency or accountability is the way they roll.

Contrast that with the interviews of applicants for City appointments, which are done by the Mayor’s Advisory Board – comprised of the aldermen chairing each of the City Council’s four standing committees – in meetings open to the public and attended this summer by the H-A’s intrepid City beat reporter Jennifer Johnson. And just for good measure, the applications and applicant resumes are posted on the City’s website (see, e.g., IN ADVANCE of the interviews so the public can view them and comment on the applicants and/or their qualifications.

The Advisory Board’s deliberations about the applicants also are held in sessions open to the public, and the minutes of those deliberations are published on the City’s website. The Board’s recommendations are then deliberated by the full Council in open session prior to the vote.

If what you say is true, we are in even worse trouble than I thought.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Truth” applies to information, not to opinion.” Since these posts and Editor’s Notes are mixed information/fact and opinion, you’ll need to identify “what” it is that causes you to think “we are in even worse trouble” than you thought. Although, either way, you’re probably right.

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