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Education

Dropping second-grade specialization to cost Glen Ellyn District 41 more than $50,000

GLEN ELLYN – It will cost Glen Ellyn School District 41 an estimated $51,424 in additional resources and professional development to discontinue second-grade teacher specialization and return to traditional classrooms at that grade level.

That estimate includes the cost of teacher resources such as writing and reading kits, as well as professional development training and classroom bookcases, according to a report Superintendent Paul Gordon shared with Board of Education members during their June 5 meeting.

The majority of board members on May 1 voted to discontinue second-grade teacher specialization. Voting "yes" were board President Stephanie Clark, Vice President Kurt Buchholz and new board members Jason Loebach, Bruce Currie and Linda D'Ambrosio. Voting "no" was new board member Robert Bruno, as well as board member Erica Nelson, who had been board president prior to Clark taking the reins at the May 1 meeting.

Teacher specialization, which is when a teacher focuses on a particular subject, began in the 2013-14 school year in second through fifth grades. Specialization will continue for third through fifth grades.

The board's decision to discontinue second-grade teacher specialization continues to draw criticism. Glen Ellyn Education Association Co-president Tracy Guerrieri criticized board members for making a "unilateral" decision to eliminate second-grade teacher specialization. The association is the teachers union for District 41.

"This decision was made solely by the school board, against the recommendation of district administration and the input of most of the professionals in the classrooms who have expertise in the topic," Guerrieri said, in addressing board members at their June 5 meeting. "In short, the board made a non-collaborative decision without transparency, without dialogue and disregarding much of the input from the professionals who have the background, education and expertise and experience with students that certainly could have helped the board make a more informed and well-reasoned decision."

Clark had voiced concerns about second-grade specialization.

"The academic data is not compelling," Clark said during the May 1 meeting. "When you look at the growth and what we expected from this, it's not performing as it was promised... If this were the best way to educate students, socially, emotionally and academically, I continue to ask myself, why aren't our benchmark districts that are outperforming us in some instances using this model? None of them do."

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