Teacher’s video ‘crossed the line,’ District 112 superintendent says
BY KAREN BERKOWITZ firstname.lastname@example.org May 24, 2013 10:23AM
“It has been a persistent issue at Lincoln Elementary School and we are now in the process of implementing a plan to address it,” District 112 superintendent David Behlow said about a poor climate at Lincoln School. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 1, 2013 6:45AM
HIGHLAND PARK — The superintendent of North Shore School District 112 on Thursday characterized Lincoln School teacher Ellie Rubenstein’s resignation video as “entirely unprofessional,” saying it crossed the line and contained comments that were “unfair, misleading and factually incorrect.”
“As adults, it is our job to model for our children how to conduct civil discourse,” he said. “Because (the video) is circulating widely in the community, and because some people are taking the comments at face value, I feel a response is in order,” said Dr. David Behlow, in a prepared statement read at the conclusion of Thursday night’s School Board meeting.
Behlow’s comments were in response to a YouTube video posted late Tuesday by Rubenstein, a fourth grade teacher at Lincoln School, explaining her decision to leave her position.
In the video, Rubenstein laments what she calls the test-driven state of the profession that demands conformity and uniformity at the expense of creativity and innovation. She also addresses the abrupt transfer of herself and three other teachers at Lincoln school and the implication that she and the other transferred teachers are to blame for a “poor climate” at the school.
Behlow acknowledged that the job of classroom teaching has grown ever-more difficult with expanding federal and state mandates and higher bars for student achievement.
“But I take issue with the assertion that the district has emphasized test scores to the point where creativity and innovation have been discouraged,” he said. “To the contrary, our teachers are encouraged to exercise their own craft and magic in their classroom every day. We expect our teachers to develop their own unique style and we celebrate teaching excellence.”
Behlow highlighted school resources, including PTO funds and grants from the 112 Educational Foundation, that are dedicated to supporting innovative projects.
However, Behlow stressed that teachers are expected to adhere to standards and ensure their students have attained core knowledge and essential skills at each grade level and can demonstrate what they have learned.
“We would be failing our children if no systems were in place to ascertain that they make progress and gain knowledge and skills necessary to become well-rounded individuals and contributing members of society,” Behlow said. “The argument that creative and engaging education cannot be accomplished in an environment that also holds teachers and administrators accountable by attempting to objectively measure student growth falls flat.”