Guest Column: Waiting for Superman in District 205?

By Douglas Clayburg

Recently, the NBC Today Show, Oprah, and others have begun echoing the sentiment of the creators of the movie Waiting for Superman, claiming teachers are the cause of the woes of public education…without speaking of the abundance of highly-qualified, passionate teachers who are committed to providing our children with a quality education.

It was frustrating to read that Dr. LaVonne Sheffield [District 205 superintendent] signed a manifesto ( drawn up by Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee that is based on the same philosophy. While I agree with several things in the manifesto, it provides an overly simplistic solution without considering the complexities of socio-economics, individual learning abilities, and the diversity of our public school students. Most concerning is that the agenda for RPS205 education should be driven up from the community to the school board, and our superintendent should take the vision of the board and run with it. Instead, Dr. Sheffield signed off on a manifesto I question that the board or many in our community agree with. This is NOT something we should be learning about after the fact.

In response to the manifesto, several stakeholders in the RPS205 community have created a petition that contrasts significantly with the manifesto. If you are interested in exploring the petition, it can be viewed and signed electronically at:

While as in any business, teachers are not perfect, and surely some need to be replaced, but focusing on the group as a whole seems absurd. Instead of waiting for Superman, we would be better served to consider many of our teachers as Clark Kent. Like Clark Kent, many are Superman, but do not seek fame or try to demonstrate they know what is best for all; instead, they work in the trenches without glory, and only want to educate our children and make them better citizens.

I hope readers of The Rock River Times will take the time to read this petition and consider signing it to show their support for the teachers of our district and home.

Doug Clayburg is a resident of Cherry Valley and the father of two children in Rockford Public Schools.

From the Oct. 20-26, 2010 issue

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