Can Carla Owen Stop The Slide At D-207?


Carla Owen recently was elected as the new School Board president at Maine Township H.S. District 207.

Owen takes over from Margaret McGrath, who held that office for the past three years during which Maine South High School, the flagship of the D-207 fleet and once one of the top handful of Illinois high schools, has fallen to a most recent 45th in U.S. News & World’s annual rankings – behind even the likes of Elk Grove Village and Wheeling.

As we pointed out in our 04.22.16 post, that’s down 16 notches from its 2012 ranking, right before Ms. McGrath got the big chair on the D-207 Board. And she and this Board reacted to that news with deafening silence.

But even more troubling than the decline in rankings is the assertion, also by U.S. News, is Maine South’s 40.8% “College Readiness” figure.

Let’s be clear, however: That slide in the rankings should not be blamed entirely on Ms. McGrath’s leadership or her board’s stewardship.

Academic achievement and rankings involve many factors, with teaching quality and administrative competence first and foremost. After all, if teachers and administrators are being paid – quite handsomely at D-207, especially when salary and pension are added together (and even when they’re not) – to provide quality education, these declining rankings and college readiness figures suggest that those “educators” aren’t getting the job done.

And let’s not forget the students and their parents. If a majority of a student body is a confederacy of dunces, it’s unlikely to yield top academic performance – especially if their parents also are dunces and/or undemanding and under-engaged.

But we’re not ready to blame rampant dunce-ness, either of students or parents.

Which is why we must look to the teachers and administrators who never acknowledge that everything is ever less than than seashells and balloons at Maine South, if not at the District’s other schools.

When educational performance keeps sliding while the cost of that education keeps rising, however, it’s up to the School Board – the taxpayers’ elected representatives – n0t just to ask the teachers and administrators “Why?” but also to demand honest, understandable and unequivocal answers to that question. And to hold those teachers and administrators accountable for their failures.

That’s where Ms. McGrath and her boards, including the current one, failed.

Hopefully, Ms. Owen – an attorney who should know how to ask tough questions and how to see through evasive answers – will have more success than her predecessor, also an attorney but who, along with her fellow board members over the past three years, seemed more concerned with going along to get along with both the teachers and the administrators.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

As reported in the May 4 edition of the Park Ridge Journal & Topics (“Owen Succeeds McGrath As Maine Township High School Dist. 207 Board President”), at least two Board members seem focused on more frolic and diversions than on the basic learning that might realistically bump-up that 40.8% college readiness figure.

Per the Journal story, Board member Jin Lee and and Supt. Ken Wallace are working on an initiative to match up one or more D-207 schools with a school in Korea “to learn to share experiences, to learn cultures” which, if successful – by whatever measure they might make up – could be expanded to Europe, Africa, or South America. And Board member Mary Childers thinks that’s swell because of the District’s multicultural student body.

How typical of educators – and rubber-stamp Board members – to ignore ranking slide and the fact that more than half of their students/clients/customers aren’t college-ready when they graduate

But, hey, look on the bright side.

Rankings and college readiness might not improve, but at least D-207 students could learn how to make kimchi .

To read or post comments, click on title.

3 comments so far

Only 40% college ready: So what? Ranking going down: So what?

There do not appear to be any performance standards that either D-64 or D-207 recognize.

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s all kinds of anecdotal ones, just ask the D-64 Board and Admin.

I think this is one of the most ridiculous ideas I’ve heard in a long time. I don’t pay high taxes for this type of foolishness. What have the D207 Board and Administration been smoking?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Can we assume you mean the Kimchi Konnection?

5/22 @ 11:12

Yes, the Kimchi Konnection.


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