Wednesday Journal was wrong on Gevinson

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I think Wednesday Journal got it wrong last week when they dismissed Steve Gevinson as a candidate for the OPRFHS school board.

As a former 5th grade teacher, I cringe whenever it's insinuated that administrators know more about the educational needs of students than their classroom teachers. Any quality educator will tell you that the best administrators are the ones who empower teachers to reach their students in meaningful ways.

As a parent of a second and fifth grader at Longfellow school, I know that this perspective pales in comparison to the real world insight that my children's classroom teachers acquire every school day.

So the Journal would have us believe that a "career educator who spent decades in vital posts at OPRF," an educator who's had two children graduate from OPRF and another who's currently a junior, a teacher who's consistently praised by his former students, a professional who currently teaches at two of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country—that this is someone who would sacrifice the purported recent progress at OPRF because he has too high a regard for educators? Are we talking about the same person?

And he'll do this at the expense of furthering the education of our students and the future success of our high school? Does that make sense? It doesn't. That's why I hope this village comes out and supports passionate educators like Steve Gevinson by electing him to the OPRFHS board next week.

Eric Bryning

Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Real World Insight  

Posted: April 10th, 2013 11:26 AM

John Abbott from Oak Park, how is quoting Gevinson's own words regarding teacher workload and taxes in this very paper last October a strawman? I realize this is a rhetorical question for lots of reasons. In any case, if you feel attaching a name to a comment gives you license for namecalling and evasion, then I don't' see that it really does much to improve the quality of the discourse.

Unfortunately  

Posted: April 10th, 2013 11:23 AM

For those wondering about those "pension bumps" for the OPRF teachers: http://www.oprfhs.org/human-resources/documents/Faculty-Senate.pdf Turn to page 26. Page 11 shows that the teacher work-year is 183 days. 183/5 = 37 weeks. Which means that they have 15 weeks off. Not bad. Also true for the nurses and librarians? The pension is not enough? They also have a 403B - with 100% match of first 4%. OPRF was great for my non-gap kids, but the pay/benefits are astronomical & unaffordable for many.

Real World Insight  

Posted: April 10th, 2013 10:58 AM

Thks Bjlanning. Until the state made it illegal a few years ago, the OPRF preretirement "bump" amount was an unconscionable 25% annually. Compounded over 3 years that's nearly a doubling (195%) of the basis salary for pensions. 6% over 6 years regardless of performance or economy amounts to a "mere" 42%. The express purpose of this clause is to inflate retiring teachers' pension basis. Quite an ingenious way the teachers found to accelerate the siphon from the pension fund into their pockets.

OP Rez  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 8:28 PM

I agree with you, Jack. As has been referenced quite a bit here recently on these forums about OPRF, part of closing the gap will involve the issue of students being place in honors/AP classes and can only succeed with the help of private tutors. That's a distinct unfair advantage for those students and generally that falls with upper class white families. We must get that under control to make progress in the gap. Teachers need to TEACH the material rather than expect tutors to teach.

Jack Chalabian from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 8:19 PM

OP Rez, I did not vote for Mr. Gevinson. I think we don't need former educators on the board. What is needed and I expect this from the new incoming board is to get the budget in line with reality, close the achievement gap and provide a safe environment for the students. I have an outgoing Senior, and I think he received a very good education from OPRF!

OP Rez  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 8:16 PM

Mr. Chalabian, you have the right to NOT believe my opinions and experiences but there are many of us who know the truth about Mr. Gevinson. Obviously you are a supporter and I am sure he has worked well for your family. It's the families that he turned his back on or ignored completely that will bear the brunt of his membership on the Board. I just hope that the rest of the Board can keep his arrogance at bay and maybe move ahead, around him.

Jack Chalabian from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 8:06 PM

OP Rez, you are right, your comments are no less valuable than John's or mine. However, the "True" part, NOW that's a stretch. Either way, Oak Park shows its true colors again by not showing up in BIG numbers to vote during an off-peak election. These are the ones that count and SHOULD mean something for every taxpayer. Oh, by the way, OP Rez, I don't really care whether or not you use your real name or not. I just expect these type of things in the WJ blogs!!!

OP Rez  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 8:01 PM

Oh and don't worry. Gevinson will win. It's the students, well some of the students, who will lose.

OP Rez  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 7:38 PM

The Wednesday Journal has to decide if it wants anonymity on these forums or not. No one's opinions should be diminished because someone else chooses to use their name. Just because some of us are not comfortable (for whatever reasons) doing so does in no way make our opinions any less valid or true. If WJ wants to verify all comments, that's fine but until they do, I still feel my opinion is as valuable as "Jack Chalabian" or "John Abbott."

Jack Chalabian from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 7:16 PM

Well, we will find out real soon if Mr. Gevinson will be voted in........John, don't sweat it! I know you are a HIGH quality person who's going to address the public with tough questions. Thank you for do so!

Strawman  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 5:34 PM

John, I've posted in the past under my real name. The result was an Internet "stalker" who took a differing view to my own and used my name to research and post private information in this forum. This isn't the 1950's. Not everyone here is friendly or civil. The Internet is not a safe or secure forum. I rarely post here due to the mentioned incident but I will stick to a screen name when I do, thanks.

Bjlanning  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 5:30 PM

Article 27a OPRF agreement "If an eligible teacher provides irrevocable, advance written notice of an intent to retire by March 1 of any school year up to six (6) years prior to the retirement year and is approved by the Board of Education, the teacher shall receive base salary increases of six percent (6%) annually until retirement. The first increase shall apply in the year following the notice year and shall increase the teacher's base salary six percent (6%) over the notice year's salary."

OPRF Resident  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 4:53 PM

Mr. Abbott, you are entitled to your opinions but there are plenty of us who have differing opinions about Mr. Gevinson. We have experience with him through the high school and it as not pleasant. There are many of us who feel this way. These forums provide a way for people to express their opinions. If you are not comfortable with this practice, you should either abstain from reading here or contact WJ about their practices.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 4:44 PM

that's a strawman argument and you know it. You don't identify yourself because it's easy & cheap to hide behind anonymity -- and I rate the value of your statements accordingly. I remember, not long ago, that when someone submitted a letter to the WJ, they called to verify your identity. Now, any idiot can say whatever s/he likes, and our public life is much the poorer for it. If you can't be bothered to identify yourself, I have no interest in discussing this further with you.

Real World Insight  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 4:39 PM

John Abbott, perhaps you didn't follow the link I posted to Mr. Gevinson's own words before you resorted to your own petty bathroom wall insults. Mr. Levinson advocates for halving the workload for already wellpaid OPRF teachers. And you don't have to read too far between lines are where he stands on the financing needed to support the vastly expanded teaching staff needed to support his aspirations: "No one wants higher taxes.... But..."

OP Resident #623  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 4:33 PM

And does posting as "John Abbott from Oak Park" do anything to verify your ID? Couldn't you really be Jane Smith from Glenview? Discuss at a Board Meeting or political debate at Buzz Cafe if you are uncomfortable with the anonymity associated with online comments. Screen names are a 21st century standard on the Internet. The fact that I don't choose to ID myself should have little bearing on whether valid points are made in a posting. No one is forcing you to participate in this media.

OPRF Resident  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 4:29 PM

*selective (instead of selected). Also these are not personal attacks on him, these are actual experiences people have had and serious concerns that a huge portion of the community have about his ability to stand for ALL students. It's unfair to save we are attacking him. We are criticizing how he handled situations and how he treats certain students.

OPRF Resident  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 4:27 PM

There is a legitimate reason most of us won't publicly voice our opinions about Gevinson & that should be respected. There are ratonal concerns about how he handled situations at OPRF while he was division chair. Having a teacher on the Board is a great idea, just not this one. Comparing OPRF to a highly selected, expensive school is ludicrous. He acknowledged that he kowtowed to white parents who wanted their kids moved up and never explained what he did to increase minorities in honors/AP.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 3:38 PM

Real World Insight: you may have a point, but since you won't take ownership of your statements by identifying yourself, I can only assume that what you're saying has all the credibility of bathroom wall scribbling. In other words, zilch.

Voter  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 3:36 PM

Fair enough, Real World. But to an otherwise neutral voter these little things have sounded like...what is it the kids say? "Hatin." I voted for the man for the ideas he articulated and his history and experience as a teacher. Period. What does his salary, pension, or elite tuition have to do with his ability to sit on the D-200 board? Let's elevate above the lack of civility going around, shall we?

Real World Insight  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 3:26 PM

My remarks are based on fact. Mr. Gevison's pension was indeed greatly inflated by the enormous preretirement salary "bumps" demanded by the teachers union he seeks to represent on the board. I will correct my statement that the ultra elite private school he seeks to emulate at OPRF has an ultra elite tuition of $26,500, not $45,000. Source: www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/10-16-2012/Comparing-U-High-Lab-School-and-OPRF/

Voter  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 3:00 PM

Gevinson got my vote. For the reason John stated about the need for educators involved on the school board. Personal attacks aren't necessary Real World. Hopefully voters are thinking more big-picture than these petty insults that Mr. Gevinson seems to keep getting. I've never met the man...but I find his critics to be deplorable.

Real World Insight  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 2:45 PM

Isn't Gevinson the guy who thought OPRF should emulate the $45,000/yr private school with super-exclusive admissions policies where he is working in his "retirement" ? He struck me more as someone who lives in an elitist bubble rather than one with "real world insight". And if people see teachers as the enemy these days, it's because of triple dippers like Gevinson, who apparently rakes in income from two teaching jobs in his retirement in addition to his "bump" inflated teachers pension.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 1:59 PM

I should have said "educators" -- not OPRF teachers -- the point was more about the experience and perspective that such people bring to the table.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 1:43 PM

I agree with these comments 100%. There's a crazy notion out there that "educational reform" mainly means treating our teachers as though they are the enemy. The WJ editorial board seems to have also drunk this kool-aid. At the very least OPRF teachers should have adequate representation on the board, and it's that simple notion -- along with Gevinson's obvious virtues as educator -- that convinced me to vote for him.

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