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  1. This letter is so indirect as to be opaque. I had a writing teacher who once read one of my essays, put it down, looked me in the eye and said, “What is it you’re trying to say?” It was a revolutionary moment in my writing education. Brevity is not only the soul of wit, it is the soul of clarity. I’d like to ask that exact question here. What is it he’s trying to say?

    I have long disliked what I call Pontificus Communicus. People use this windy style of bs when they aren’t confident about what they are saying. I suspect this letter masks an admission of the district’s failure to balance staff and student safety with its mandated responsibility to serve all students as they come, including those who have a legal right to an education despite their ticking time bomb personalities.

    As much as my heart goes out to those kids (I worked with that population in a different district), some of them are just unsafe in public school settings, with deviant personalities and emotional disorders that severely impede learning and put other people at risk. I don’t have all the answers here; many districts struggle with this intractable problem. I’d rather hear that, honestly and plainly, than this disingenuous word salad.

    For one thing, children are more than data points. And don’t talk down to us in professional jargon either.

    If if were a Haven parent, I’d be very skeptical about this letter, and would certainly be pushing for more specifics and concrete explanations.

    1. While I agree that there is obfuscation going on, I think the more plausible explanation is the most simple one: the superintendent is a poor writer and communicator.

      See the comment below on the multiple grammatical mistakes in this letter.

      There are many examples of poor wording, excessive use of jargon, and grammatical errors in many of his communications going back to his earliest days in the district.

      Heck, just look at his resume! It is replete with weird capitalizations, a clear lack of proofreading, etc…
      https://www.district65.net/cms/lib/IL01906289/Centricity/Domain/60/Horton%20resume.pdf

      I know that this is elitist, but our last two superintendents had doctorates from Stanford and University of Texas, Austin. Horton’s is from Chicago State.

      This is nothing personal against him. As residents we should be more upset with the Board that hired him. If you remember, it was a process that was closed to the public. Final candidates names were not released to the public and in the initial round of interviews two of the three candidates dropped out.

      Even though by all accounts this would be considered a “failed search”, the board persisted and hired Horton without ANY open public meetings. Taxpayers and residents were not able to give feedback. His identity was not known until he was hired.

      This is extremely problematic since there was plenty of public information about his background that would raise cause for concern. In fact in 2018 & 2019 he was brought in to at least three other communities for public interviews (Rochester NY, Patterson NJ, Grand Rapids MI) and was rejected by all of them.

      It would have been useful to allow residents to learn about his background before he was actually given the job.

      The whole search is evidence of a board that is out of control. Hopefully we will get a sensible slate of candidates next year who will go up against the current folks so we can start to clean house.

  2. I stopped substitute teaching at Haven years ago because I did not feel safe in the hallways nor in the classrooms. There was virtually no support for substitute teachers, much more so than at most District 65 schools.

  3. “Supporting physical altercations” -come again? Whatever happened to detention and expulsion as disciplinary tools? A little discipline would be a lot easier on us taxpayers than padding the staff with extra hall monitors and principals. And how is D65 going to attract or keep good teachers if they need to minor in martial arts? No wonder enrollment is down.

  4. The superintendent’s letter provides a good example of blame deflection and responsibility avoidance while providing very little insight into what the actual problems at Haven are.

  5. An intense blend of blaming others (including kids and teachers!), passing-the-buck and promising resources that the district actually can’t afford.

    Why was his contract extended?

  6. Is it too much to ask for the Superintendent to use proper grammar in his missives?

    FYI, Dr. Horton: “data” is the plural form of datum. He makes the mistake of using improper subject-verb agreement multiple times throughout the essay.

    You would think that Chicago State’s august Educational Leadership program would train its students to write properly.

    I am not trying to be nit-picky. But this guy is a highly-paid administrator of an organization that is meant to teach our kids to read and write–assuming that is still part of the curriculum.

    It is a bit of an embarrassment when you see this type of statement being circulated by the head of the District.

    1. Dr Horton and those who hired him should consider enrolling in a college freshman writing program. Then they should all resign. Pay off his entire contract even if it bleeds district 65 budget. It will be worth it in the long run.