Completing the Turnaround — 4/2/2010

April 2, 2010:

May i politely and without prejudice emphasize at this point that some of the RB-related points appearing here at are — in my opinion — earnest and well-intended but wrongly posed?

Here is what i mean. We have a management issue. Specifically, as this thread has said since its inception last fall, a turnaround is needed to right the RB enterprise so it may progress to higher distinction as Illinois’ pre-eminent public high school of its size.

Many of my reasons for saying this are recited above, there are of course many others that could lengthen the list considerably.

There are two types of posters in these recent conversations. Parent / resident / taxpaying concerned citizens and parent / resident / taxpaying citizens whose household incomes benefit significantly from RB. That’s great! I have called for disclosure, so that readers may evaluate for themselves each post in light of its writers’ connection to the RB income stream. So far, we have seen either none or sly diversion. Not good.

Regardless, all of the questions to which i refer, such as “does Illinois improperly fund education,” “what is sound pension policy for public employees,” or “to what indicia of success should teacher compensation be linked?” are in themselves hugely significant, but at this moment they tend to divert attention from our most basic — and immediate — challenge, which is giving voice to a constituency that supports a new majority on the board in requiring competence in all aspects of RB’s administration.

A leap in the right direction was taken when Dr. David Bonnette signed on. But one person is not enough. Pam Bylsma is on her way, which is another good step. But anyone familiar with the school knows that a reform-minded female principal was undercut and eventually tossed overboard (at a cost to us well into six figures) by the very crew that legally oversaw RB’s descent into institutional chaos. Too many of those actors remain in place, even now, with several in fact on the Board of Education itself. (Again, please check above posts.)

Each of us in this comunity should be fully invested in Dr. Bonnette and Pam Bylsma having a free hand to rebuild RB on July 1. That means ending one chapter in the school’s history and starting another. The very last thing either Dr. Bonnette or Ms. Bylsma should confront are tired remanants of the reign of error subverting their mandate through sub-goal pursuits such as, just to pick an example from the air, controlling RB Athletic Department stipends and coaching assignments.

Instead, a new majority on the Board must summon the courage to finish the staff housecleaning clearly, irrevocably and completly. Voters will deal with the rest of the Board one year hence.

The Landmark opines this week that we should embrace the challenges of restoring confidence and credibility to RB.


Propelling this community past the “turmoil,” Landmark’s word, to the “firm, responsible and forward-looking leadership it’s going to take to win back voters” means definitvely ending the era that implicated RB’s credibility. Half-measures and re-treads will not get us there.

It will take another set of transformational choices by the Board, in the same vein as recruiting Dr. Bonnette and Ms. Bylsma. Challenges aside, it means having enough confidence in the school Bonnette and Bylsma can create to tell certain key remaining enablers of, participants in and indeed public cheerleaders for the last period, “thank you and good bye.”

Or, as National Monument Riley B. “B.B.” King sings it in “The Thrill Is Gone,” all we “can do is wish you well…”

…and then the more global issues of Illinois’ school funding mechanisms, pension policy, property tax disaster, etc. etc. will be much better posed than they are now.

Thanks and best, c.

POSTED FRIDAY APR 2, 2010 10:59 #
Explore posts in the same categories: Riverside Brookfield High School -- Turnaround

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