We are pleased to support the appointment of Dr. Sharon Kherat as Interim Superintendent for Peoria School District 150. Dr. Kherat, former principal of Whittier Primary School and Manual High School, brings to the district proven collaborative leadership; successful experience in K-12 curriculum; respect for students, parents and staff; and familiarity with both the school district and the city of Peoria. We welcome Dr. Kherat back to the district and look forward to celebrating the good as we advocate for change within Peoria School District 150.
Now that Dr. Lathan has resigned and we have two new board members, the obvious question is, “What’s next?” While there are many possibilities, here are the top five priorities for Change150:
Wait on a decision regarding the interim superintendent.
We are optimistic that the present school board will select someone who has connections to Peoria and who will be able to get cooperation from the employees, engage parents, and build partnerships in collaboration with the community as a whole.
Insist on a third party review.
We believe this is essential to define the reality of our district and to clarify what the real problems and challenges are. Until we are able to confidently understand what we have—what is working and what is not—we cannot articulate a vision and offer solutions that will have a lasting effect.
Over the past few years, there has been a climate of denial and unawareness among certain board members regarding the culture in our schools. The only way to determine if the culture of fear, intimidation, and micro-management is myth or reality is to have someone from the outside give an independent review.
Our desire for this kind of review does not mean we are willing to give control of our district to a third party. On the contrary, we do not believe the independent review should dictate the direction or policies of the district. Instead, we hope it will help uncover core problems and generate helpful recommendations on how to fix those problems—recommendations which the superintendent and school board should feel free to accept or reject. It is just always helpful to have a fresh, objective perspective in any problem-solving situation, and we are willing to help raise the funds necessary for such a review. We believe that any funding sources for such a review should be transparent to the public.
Address boundaries, terms, and timing for elected officials.
Peoria is one of the only districts in the state to have five-year terms for board members. This not only allows board members to become numb to the opinions of their constituents but also prevents some quality candidates from running because they do not want to make a five-year commitment. The four-year term is a much healthier model, which is why virtually every district in the state has four-year terms.
In addition, the boundaries within District 150 make little sense. District One has approximately one-third of the students, yet it only has one representative. We should re-evaluate the boundaries and the number of representatives from each district.
Furthermore, having an election the first week in April without seating the newly elected officials for almost three months allows exiting board members to have a significant amount of power and influence over the upcoming school years, even though they have been voted out of office. For the past three months, our school board has been addressing a $13 million deficit, and, even though they are going to be required to deal with the fallout, our two newly elected board members have had no voice whatsoever in the process. The window of time between the election and the seating of new board members must change!
Prepare for the next election cycle.
We do not expect all school board members to agree with every issue that we present, but we do expect them to be engaged, aware, and open to community input. Some of the attitudes and comments made by existing school board members have appeared defensive and callused, even condescending, at times.
We are committed to continuing to elect school board members who are going to represent the students and the district as a whole, and we will oppose those who are only there to be apologists for the superintendent and to rubber stamp his or her agenda. Callused school board members will experience the same results similar members have had in the past two elections.
Once we get the right people elected to the school board, the right superintendent hired, and healthy policies in place, we believe Change150 will no longer be necessary. If Change150 is still here in three years, we have not done our job. If we do our job, our district should be able to move forward with a clear vision and healthy practices that enable it to meet the inevitable and continual challenges school districts face.
We are not idealistic, and we do not believe a panacea exists. This district has and always will have problems, but we believe the leadership of the past few years has driven our district to a new low. We must elect officials who represent a philosophy and attitude that engages our children, motivates our employees, partners with the community, and excites everyone for the future. The days of arrogant, callused, naïve board members are over.
Build bridges between PSD150 and the community. Over the past year and a half, Change150 has had the privilege of working with a diverse group of individuals and organizations. During this time, we have met numerous people who have resources, abilities, and passions that can be leveraged to improve the health of our district. One of the consistent themes we have heard from these people is that the previous administration was generally opposed to outside input. If it wasn’t the administration’s idea, it was probably not going to be addressed.
We are hopeful that the new school board and the new superintendent will take on a posture of openness that indicates they understand the value of partnerships and empowerment. We hope to be a liaison—one that is able to help build bridges connecting the needs of our district with competent people in our community who want to be part of the solution. While we are not suggesting that the board and superintendent give away their agenda, we do believe that we have a unique opportunity to start over again, building partnerships between the administration, the employees, the parents, and the community at large.
District 150 is a big ship, and it will take time and effort to turn it around. The waters are turbulent, and the weather is always unpredictable. It is a big job that will involve many people working together. While we have always believed a change in leadership was essential, we are equally aware that this alone will not bring lasting change. However, we are optimistic that over the next couple of years we can continue to use our influence to help PSD150 become healthier and more successful in its mission of educating and empowering the next generation.
We wish Dr. Lathan well in her next venture, where ever it may take her. We are thankful for the opportunity for our District 150 community to heal and have a fresh start. Dr. Lathan realized that the Board was listening to the voters who spoke out loudly for change during the last two elections, and she chose to resign, rather than face the termination of her contract.
We would like to thank board members Martha Ross and Lynn Costic for their willingness to discuss Dr. Lathan’s employment. Ms. Ross and Ms. Costic saw the need for a different approach, and we applaud them for listening to the sentiments of the voting public.
We also ask the Board to consider the appointment of an acting superintendent who is familiar with the District. We ask for an individual who is respected, leads with integrity, has vision and foresight, who loves our city and its children, families and teachers, and who will work collaboratively and in partnership with organizations to achieve the best for the students in our district. We are excited about the future of District 150 and look forward to working with the Board to build the District our community deserves.
The public is invited to a Change150 open house on Thursday, April 30th at 6:30 pm at Richwoods Christian Church (8115 N. Knoxville Ave.)
You will have the opportunity to meet Peoria’s new School Board members, Dan Adler and Ernestine Jackson, to ask questions, and to hear about our vision and plans for this next year.
We look forward to seeing you there!
In a race for the two open 3rd District School Board race, there is no lacking of candidates. The two candidates that Change150 has endorsed however have racked up an impressive list of other individuals and organizations who, like us, believe that Dan Adler (5 year seat) and Ernestine Jackson (4 year seat) represent the city’s best chance at making real, positive change happen from the District 150 horseshoe. Dan and Ernestine each have diverse credentials in leadership and community involvement, good working relationships with city and organizational leaders, the business community and other district stakeholders.
If you’d like to hear directly from Dan and Ernestine on a variety of topics, check out our YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn3faAwyhGmlNCb9zo27_Hw
Here is a round-up of people from Peoria who have had some very kind things to say about our favorite school board candidates;
Former Board Member Jan Deissler
Former Charter Oak School principal and District 150 Administrator, Thom Simpson
Activist & Blogger, Elaine Hopkins
Peoria citizen Daniel Moore
Peoria Journal Star endorsement for Dan Adler
Business PAC of Central Illinois endorses Dan Adler
Peoria Teacher’s Union endorses Dan Adler
Peoria City Council members Beth Akeson, Beth Jensen, and Timothy Riggenbach also stand with our endorsees. As does Dr. Rita Ali, Vice President of Diversity, International and Adult Education at Central Illinois College and State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth. (Check our our Facebook page for pictures!)
And finally, Change150 President, Jim Powell outlines how getting to 4 is crucially important.
Early voting is open now at places like ICC North, and election day is just around the corner on April 7th. Please join us in voting for Dan Adler and Ernestine Jackson for Peoria District 150 School Board. Our city, our communities, and most importantly, our children’s future depend on making better choices based on leadership experience and sound judgement for our public schools.
– The Change150 Team
How Were Dan Adler & Ernestine Jackson Selected As Change150’s Candidates?
Let’s look in depth at the process that produced Change150’s two candidates.
The Change150 vetting committee was made up of:
- 2 members of the NAACP
- 2 currently employed teachers from the IFT
- 2 currently employed school support personnel from the IFT
- 1 parent
- 1 former District 150 school board member
- 2 former District 150 school administrators, one of who served as
a Change150 representative
This team of 10 concerned stakeholders interviewed the 6 (out of 9) school board candidates who chose to go through the vetting process on January 17, 2015.
It was communicated that Change150 would endorse 1 candidate running for the 4-year term and 1 candidate running for the 5-year term.
The primary criteria for the selection included:
- motivation for running for the school board
- previous and/or current involvement/experience with District 150
- understanding of the challenges facing District 150
- concern for all students in the District (i.e. District-wide
- having realistic and workable strategies for addressing challenges
- ability to communicate effectively
- personal character
- leadership style and ability to lead
- alignment with Change150 values and issues
A standard set of questions and appropriate follow-up questions were asked, including:
- What is your motivation for being a school board member and what
has been your experience with Peoria Public Schools?
- What do you think are the biggest challenges/issues facing the
district, as well as a couple of things that could be celebrated?
- How do you deal with conflict? Could you give us an example of a
conflict situation you have experienced and what you did?
- What is your position on charter schools?
- How do you lead? (What is your leadership style?)
- What are the issues upon you running What would you like to see
The vetting committee was impressed by all the candidates and believes that several would make outstanding board members. Based on the candidates’ answers during the interview process, the representative coalition of 10 that made up the Change150 Vetting Team determined that DAN ADLER and ERNESTINE JACKSON were the best candidates to run for School Board this April 7th.
Change150 was honored to have 6 of the 9 candidates for the District 150 seats up for election on April 7th participate in our vetting process.
A committee comprised of current district teachers and support staff, NAACP members, former administrators, a former District 150 School Board member, a District 150 parent and a representative from Change150 interviewed candidates to determine who would be the best choice to bring much-needed change to the District 150 School Board. It is important to note that while we had representatives from these groups some of them, including the unions, are going to conduct their own independent vetting process’s.
Our vetting committee was impressed with all of the candidates and Change150 believes that each of the six would be an improvement over the current leadership in District 150, however Change150 can only endorse one candidate for each open seat. After extensive interviews the vetting committee reached an overwhelming consensus.
Change150 is endorsing Dan Adler for the 5 year term seat and Ernestine Jackson for the 4 year remaining term seat.
Change150 is convinced that Mr. Adler and Mrs. Jackson provide the best opportunity for the much needed change and improvement in District 150 and will be superior representatives of the community as Board Members.
Change150 will throw the weight of our coalition behind these two candidates and looks forward to working with them and the community to win this election and to enhance the leadership of District 150.
January 25, 2015
Media Contact: Sea Stipe, Change150 Spokesperson
Change150 TO ANNOUNCE SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENTS
PEORIA, IL January 25, 2015 – Change150 will host a press conference on Monday, January 26th at the Peoria Public Library – North Branch to announce their endorsements for the 2 open District 150 School Board seats for the upcoming April election.
When: Monday, January 26, 2015 at 4:00 p.m.
Where: Peoria Public Library – North Branch
What: A committee comprised of current district teachers and support staff, NAACP members, former administrators, a former District 150 School Board member, a District 150 parent and a representative from Change150 recently interviewed six of the nine school board candidates to determine who would be the best choice to bring much-needed change to the District 150 School Board. At Monday’s press conference, members of Change150 will announce the committee’s choice and Change150’s endorsement of two school board candidates – one for the open 4-year seat and one for the 5-year seat. Members of Change150 and both endorsed candidates will be available for questions.
For more information on Change150, our initiatives and our mission, please go to our website: www.Change150.org.
Last week, the radio show, Breakfast with Royce and Rogers (90.7 FM WAZU), interviewed Quan Chaney, the basketball referee who encountered Dr. Lathan on the court at Mark Bills, prior to the game at which Harrison arrived late. Please listen as Mr. Chaney gives his account of the incident.
Change150 received the following email describing the experience a referee had with Superintendent Lathan at a recent basketball game.
I have been reffing basketball for over 20 years. Never have I had the problem I had on 12/11/14.
All year, Harrison school has been over 15 minutes late for every game. There had been an email sent to refs saying let Harrison know games start at 3:30.
This day they were over 35 minutes late.
On 12/11/14 Harrison finally got to school, walking in very slow. They were not dressed to play or showing any urgency. I let coach know his team has 1 minute to get ready and that we are doing a running clock first half. Everyone was already there, waiting and ready to play.
From nowhere some lady comes up to me telling me that I can’t do that and what was I going to do.
I told her just what I told the coach. They have 1 minute to get ready and we are doing a running clock first half.
Now mind you, this person never said who she was or why she was even on the court talking to me.
So after she asked what I was going to do, I turned my back on her.
She raised her voice, telling me don’t turn my back on her.
As an official we don’t argue with anyone.
She yells her title.
It really meant nothing to me, so I walk away to start game.
I do the first half of game. Mid-3rd quarter, at a timeout, some guy comes to tell me I have to leave until I talk to her and say I’m sorry for turning my back on her.
This person has no right to be on court nor to tell me what I am going to do as an official. Everyone knows that. She should be respecting the rules and policies of the game she is coming to.
This is the type of action of someone pushing their title around, and I will not be one to not stand and let my voice be heard.
By right, I could have forfeited the game.
That night, I get a call saying if I say I’m sorry for turning my back on her, I can go back and ref the rest of the year.
I laugh at that. I will not say I’m sorry to someone that uses her title and pushes folks around, so I stand tall against this lady and hope this will start the removal of her from our schools and city.
Save the kids and our schools.
Peoria, stand up for the kids.