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  1. We elect the school board members to represent our interests in major policy decisions and in the hiring process of certain key employees. They are not distant Washington bureaucrats, they are our friends and neighbors that are donating their time and talents to the school district because they care about our community. I have a fair amount of confidence in the current board’s ability to address the interests of the students, faculty, administration and community. I assume the rest of the community also has a fair amount of trust in the board members, or dissatisfied individuals would have put themselves forward as alternative candidates for the four uncontested board vacancies in last month’s elections, and the board composition would be different. Like Beth Coughlin, I would like the board and the superintendent to continue the process which they have started, the process we elected them to do. I believe that the board has had access to more complex and complete information than the conjecture from a few screen shots that people are submitting here. I am certain that the board has conducted lengthy interviews not only with candidates, but with current and past employers, colleagues, etc. Education professionals that have worked with Dr Holland have submitted glowing, effusive letters of praise to this forum, while none of the critical letters have cited any direct contact with the candidate. How can individuals that have not participated in the selection process, and not previously worked or studied with the candidate, presume to know more about Dr Holland’s abilities and philosophies than those that have had substantial interactions? It makes no sense to me to be so critical of a candidate at this stage of the process, when comprehensive results have not yet been released.

    On a slightly different note, I would like to express my disappointment that the private employment screening process was violated and a candidate’s name was leaked to members of the public who felt compelled to launch such a negative, pre-emptive and public campaign against a potential employee, who is after all, a private citizen. I agree with Amy’s conclusion that it is embarrassing that others outside the community will read these letters and think that it is representative of our collective view. Letter writers claim that LF/LB is inclusive, welcoming and open-minded, yet very little of this conversation has demonstrated any of those values. The booing (or as some insist, cries of “NO!” as if the distinction matters) at the meeting yesterday was an appalling example of disrespect of those values. I would also like to assure Amy that (unlike Ms Newbauer’s assertion that Amy’s views are in the minority)there are many, many people that agree with Amy, but are choosing not to enter this debate due to the incomplete facts, amount of speculation and assumption, and the generally divisive tone.

    Finally, I hope the students following this issue don’t embrace the vitriol of some of these letters, and think that disagreement over issues should always include disrespect and disdain. If the district extends an offer to Dr Holland, and she decides to accept it, it is my hope that both the student body and the community welcome her and diligently work with her to make LFHS the best it can be.

    • http://dailynorthshore.com/2015/05/21/letter-raises-questions-about-lake-forest-high-school-principal-candidate/
      Scroll to the bottom for confirmation from Ms. Fawcett of what web archiving services revealed: that Holland’s online record was scrubbed after her name was leaked for the principal post.

      The only apologies owed are hers and Simeck’s to the community for attempting to cover up her views on tracking as a “beacon” of “white privilege and institutionalized racism” and her expressed affection for Malcolm X’s comment: “Only a FOOL would let his enemy teach his children.” (And whites, in Malcolm’s world, were the “enemy.” Go study your history).

      Perhaps you were not at the May 26th, standing room only meeting and felt the palpable disgust and outrage about both her opinions and Simeck’s “hiding the ball” from the Board and the Community. And the “booing” you allege is exaggerated: the LFHS stakeholders who showed up at the hastily called 7 a.m. meeting after the Memorial Day holiday expressed frustration that the Board allowed non-LFHS stakeholders to take the microphone to tell us, in one way or the other, that we were wrong and that “Chala is great”. These folks also conveniently failed to comment on the cover-up and Holland’s divisive views. One of the commenters, an African-American woman from LF with children in the system who finally got to the microphone at the end of the public comments section called Holland’s views “divisive” and noted LFHS didn’t need Malcolm X or the KKK in the school. Agreed.

      What moral authority could Simeck and Holland ever retain to lead LFHS now that we know of the cover-up of her online presence and the hideous, racist nature of her views towards “whites” (and tracking as their tool). How anyone can believe these are fit leaders of faculty, staff or children is simply beyond belief. We now know that both of them will go to great lengths to hide the truth to advance their own agenda. And that’s your idea of leadership?

      Finally your comment about running candidates against the Caucus has been duly noted by scores of people flooding my inbox with exactly the same sentiments. They have noted how years’ worth of Caucus picked boards have presided over scandal after scandal (some public, some not), all to the detriment of students and faculty/staff morale at LFHS. This last scandal is truly the last straw.

  2. The issue is less about the candidate’s offensive and uninformed opinions, but whether this candidate can be open minded enough to learn and grow – which she clearly has so much growing yet to do… The larger issue is whether the process of vetting was truly adequate and commensurate with community expectations.

    The dismissive arrogance of the open letter just recently sent by Michael V. Simeck, Superintendent of Schools for Lake Forest, compels me to respond. Superintendent Simeck’s over-wrought letter is nothing but an appeal to authority. That’s usually a rather weak debate tactic, but when it’s a self-referential appeal to authority, then it’s particularly insulting.

    Mr. Simeck prattles on about a vetting process that’s supposedly so thorough and detailed that it is essentially failsafe, and thus it’s almost unpatriotic to question it let alone ask for details of it. Since when is it unpatriotic or disrespectful of authority to simply ask questions – especially when evidence emerges to the contrary of this supposedly foolproof process?

    The community at large doesn’t need access to every detail of such a vetting process by default. However, when a candidate in that vetting process makes public statements (through internet media) that are incendiary and offensive to the community, the outcry of a concerned community should be expected and acknowledged. In this case, understandably upset community members have every right to have simply said “Hey, are you (people in authority) aware of this important information?” Mr. Simeck’s response, while articulate, essentially just says “Hey, shut up; our process is smarter than you.”

    Fortunately, free speech trumps authority. Unfortunately for Mr. Simeck, so does common sense. A better response would have been along the lines of “Thank you for sharing your concerns, and I assure you that they will be responded to and given due consideration before a decision is made.” I can’t see why that would have been too difficult to do, but as it is, now there are also questions about Mr. Simeck’s leadership in addition to concerns about a leading candidate.

    Mr. Simeck, authority and deference don’t come from the title of one’s position, rather they come from the stakeholders who created that position, and placed you in it. As stakeholders, we are to be heard before a decision is made, not after. In closing, please bear in mind that the community you are supposed to serve also has a vetting process – one through which you yourself are continuously evaluated. Good luck with that…

  3. If you log on to Ms. Holland’s web page, which she recently took down (how convenient) the first thing you see is a Malcom X poster quoting that “ONLY A FOOL WOULD ALLOW HIS ENEMY TO EDUCATE HIS KIDS”
    Who is the enemy? Certainly not the wealthy predominantly white community of Lake Forest- Right Ms. Holland?
    Seriously, this is the best our superintendent can do? He honestly believes that this woman reflects the values and ideals of our community? She doesn’t have a Phd, she has never raised any children of her own, she is against labels and tracking and projects liberal socialist ideals and is supposed to be a good fit for one of the most conservative capitalistic communities in the Country?
    It’s probably time we turn all of our attention on our superintendent who asks us to ‘”trust in the process”, the same process that got us all Rene Devore, the mandarin debacle and the end of the Quest program in the middle schools. He needs to understand that in the real world everything is not fair, equal and blind to merit and he was not put into this position to transfer his political and social views onto our children and our community.
    He’s trying to ram this through as evidenced by his call for a 7am meeting over the Holiday weekend. Seriously, how bad does that look?
    Time to start over.

    • Your superintendent doesn’t have a Phd either. Although my understanding was that he told the BOE during his interview/hiring that he was in the process of attaining it. Later, it was suggested that this was misleading in the sense that the time period for attaining the Phd had already passed, before he was interviewed for the position of superintendent.

  4. To all of those lambasting the community for being up in arms about a questionably qualified candidate, how does it look when the Superintendent has a rush 7AM meeting announced on a holiday weekend?

    This seems like a push to have a meeting with limited parental involvement.

    Also, I find it hard to believe that things are so tough in Lake Forest that we cannot get a candidate that has had at least SOME experience as a principal…

    • Couldn’t it also be because everyone is freaking out about this woman? I don’t think it is fair for people to just assume that Mr. Simeck is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. This whole thing has been blown out of proportion by community members making harsh accusations and assumptions that aren’t fair or backed by real information.

  5. Beth and Grace, thank you for articulating what I’ve been too upset to communicate myself after reading comments that reek of condescension (toward those who offer another perspective or “mediocre” schools whose “ACT scores are undoubtedly dragged down by their lower-income students”), fear (of an assumed agenda), and ignorance (to the realities of systemic racism). This is what I find offensive and embarrassing for others outside the community to read of as representative of our collective perspective. A former LFHS student who is raising her family elsewhere said of Neubauer’s thread of comments: “My jaw is on the floor. This is partly why I am so ashamed to admit where I am from when folks ask.” Sadly, it’s often the most misguided voice that is the loudest and I thank you both (as well as Axl, Laura, Rick, and Dee) for offering perspectives of reason and awareness.

    • Thankfully your views are a minority. Folks in Lake Forest/Lake Bluff are some of the kindest, most charitable and truly good people I’ve ever known, who reach out through their churches and other organizations to constantly help those in need, regardless of race, color or creed. To accuse them of fostering a “white meritocracy” or possessing “internalized racism” (which Ms. Holland’s writings certainly appear to do) is the tragedy here.
      P.s. Maybe the shame your friend feels telling friends where she is from is a signal she should get better friends.

      • Yes, but today the little people got to speak truth to power and the vote was postponed. A great day for Lake Forest/Lake Bluff/Knollwood little guys.

  6. Ms. Lang,
    There are just as many studies that show tracking IS, in fact, effective for both low and high performing students.
    One very interesting study came out of Kenya and many scholars today are using that study to support the use of tracking.

    http://greatergreatereducation.org/post/18221/tracking-is-unpopular-but-is-it-good-for-our-children/
    http://educationnext.org/tracking-improve-learning/
    http://www.ctd.northwestern.edu/blog/new-research-supports-above-level-testing-and-gifted-programmin
    http://edex.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/publication/pdfs/Common%20Core%20and%20America%27s%20High-Achieving%20Students_FINAL.pdf

  7. Well stated, Ms. Coughlin and Ms. Wang. Thank you for your well reasoned, thoughtful perspectives.

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