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220 Books

Just last week in Barrington, the school board voted to keep “Flame” and “This Book Is Gay,” two books about gender and sexuality. In a 4-3 vote, the board ultimately accepted a recommendation by a school advisory committee of experts to keep the books after determining they didn’t meet the standard for obscenity and pornography.

A glass shelf displaying some of the most notable challenged books in the country adorns the entryway of the Chicago Public Library’s Lincoln Belmont branch. The books are surrounded by yellow tape and red signs that inevitably steer the attention of those who walk inside to the titles that have been banned, or attempted to be banned, in other libraries across the country.

But instead of taking the books off the shelves, visitors at the library were invited — in celebration of Banned Book Week 2022 — to learn about each one of them and encourage discussions about the topics for which they were banned. City Lit Theater Company joined the efforts by presenting a theatrical display of iconic banned and challenged books, allowing people to make their own decision on whether to read them.

Last week, city and Chicago Public Library officials declared Chicago a sanctuary city for those stories, by establishing “Book Sanctuaries” across the city’s 77 distinct community areas and 81 library branches. That entails a commitment to expand local access to banned or challenged books through library programming.

Meanwhile, attempts to ban books across the country — including in suburban Illinois — are escalating at a rate never seen since the American Library Association began tracking data more than 20 years ago, according its most recent report.

Just last week in Barrington, the school board voted to keep “Flame” and “This Book Is Gay,” two books about gender and sexuality.

In a 4-3 vote, the board ultimately accepted a recommendation by a school advisory committee of experts to keep the books after determining they didn’t meet the standard for obscenity and pornography.

Erin Chan Ding, a board member, said the removal of the books could potentially impact young people that could identify as LGBTQ students. And though the books may have strong imagery and words, it should be up to parents if their children read them.

In August, Barrington school board members also voted to keep “Gender Queer” in the Barrington High School library.

“We’re making these books available, but we’re not actively incorporating the books that were challenged into the curriculum,” said Chan Ding, a mother to an eight and a fourth grader.

As a mother, she said, she understands that some parents question the books and want to prevent access to them. “I have empathy for parents who disagree with our decision and I acknowledge and fully recognize that there’s a full spectrum of opinions. … It is a parent’s responsibility and role to do what is best for their own child but that doesn’t mean restricting access to other people.”

Read more here.

Related: District 220 posts April 2023 Election Candidate’s Guide,District 220 Board of Education meets tonight

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2023 Seats Up For Reelection

Angela Wilcox, Leah Collister-Lazzari and Barry Altshuler

District 220 has posted an Election Guide on their website for those considering running for three seats on the Board of Education in April, 2023.  Current board members whose terms end in April are Angela Wilcox, Leah Collister-Lazzari and Barry Altshuler.

Angela Wilcox was elected to the Board of Education in 2015, and has provided exemplary service to the 220 community.  Should she run for a third term, there is absolutely no question she would have our endorsement.  However, as a Barrington Hills resident, we would like her to consider running for our Board of Trustees instead.

Wilcox has always provided well considered reasoning and discourse in her role on the Board of Education, which would be a welcome addition to the BOT. Further, it’s always been helpful to have an actively practicing attorney on the Board of Trustees.

Leah Collister-Lazzari and Barry Altshuler were elected in 2019.

The 2023 Election Guide can be viewed and downloaded here.

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220 Books

The 220 Board of Education will consider upholding the recommendation of these two books tonight.

The District 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 7:00 PM at the District Administration Center, 515 W. Main Street. Topics for discussion in their agenda include:

  • Consideration to Approve the Adoption of the 2022-23 Budget
  • Consideration to Uphold the Recommendation of the District Level Review of Materials – Flamer
  • Consideration to Uphold the Recommendation of the District Level Review of Materials – This Book Is Gay

A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

The meeting will be livestreamed on the district YouTube channel.

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RepMclaughlin

State Representative Martin McLaughlin

While Illinois Democrats successfully passed legislation that updated sex education standards in schools, state test scores show that less than half of students can read at grade level.

Under Senate Bill 818, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law in August 2021, K-12 schools that teach sex education must meet National Sex Education standards, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“Modernizing our sex education standards will help keep our children safe and ensure important lessons, like consent and internet safety, are taught in classrooms,” Pritzker said in the release.

But, GOP lawmakers have mostly opposed the law. State Rep. Martin McLaughlin, R-Barrington Hills, recentky spoke out about what he believes needs to happen.

“When I drop my child off at the front door of her school, my parental rights don’t end there, it’s where they just begin,” McLaughlin said in an Aug. 31 Facebook post. “School boards need to exert control and local authority representing their communities and the local property taxpayers who they serve, not capitulating to national ‘standards.'”

Under modernized standards, students in grades K-2 will learn about how to define gender, gender identity, gender-role stereotypes and medically accurate names for body parts, according to a report from Break Through. Third through fifth graders will learn about masturbation, hormone blockers, and the differences between cisgender, transgender and nonbinary. Sixth through eighth graders will learn to define oral, anal and vaginal sex, and non-prescription contraception.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the most recent Illinois Assessment of Readiness test scores show that less than 20% of Chicago third graders could read or do math at grade level.

About 38% of students statewide can read at grade level, according to Wirepoints.

Source

Related:Resident tells 220 Board of Education what they needed to hear (but did they listen?)

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220mm

Martin McLaughlin’s public comments to the District 220 Board of Education Tuesday night were followed by applause from attendees.

Speaking as a parent of five children, Martin McLaughlin voiced the following Tuesday evening during public comment at the District 220 Board of Education meeting:

“My name is Martin McLaughlin

I am here tonight as a parent. I live in Barrington Hills. I have had four children go through District 220 school system I have a current sophomore in high school. My family has a 50 year history with this school district.

We have chosen to live here because the District has been a leader in academic excellence for many years.

In the past four to six years, I have been astonished at the level of outside influence that has been allowed to infiltrate our local school district and have impact on policies and curricula, all with the blessing and tacit approval of the majority of this and prior school boards.  And the results have not been good. 

Letters and requests by local blogs and special interest groups arrive every day to each of you, pushing their narrow agendas.  And believe me I get it.  I’ve been in your position, serving as an unpaid elected official for 8 years. I can’t tell you how many special interest groups I have had to say no to.

Allowing Non-Profits out of New York and DC lobbyists and unelected social justice and cultural change agents have an impact on our children’s education and development is what we expect you to protect against, not to embrace.

As a community member, I’d like to see the old 3Rs come back— Reading Writing and Arithmetic. Today unfortunately, our children are being taught a New 3Rs – Radicalization, Revisionist history and Racial divides and IT NEEDS TO STOP.

As far as the academic performance at District 220 in mathematics and reading, the failure rate has increased over 20% since 2019 —a direct result of the policies that kept our children remote and kept them out of the classrooms.

The use of our public education system or Misuse to forward and mandate moral and sociological standards is just wrong. How about we get proficient in math, reading and writing first?

There are places for these discussions to occur, but it’s not in chemistry, math or during PE. And it certainly shouldn’t be presented to minor children, particularly those in the lower grade levels.

We all agree it is not appropriate in public schools to discuss or push religious beliefs upon others, so why should it not be as equally inappropriate to discuss political leanings and further, to discuss age-inappropriate related materials to minor children?

Finally, as it relates to public safety and the public good, in my day public school safety meant putting mulch under the monkey bars in the playground, adding padded seats on the bus and making sure that bullying and physical harm did not occur to any students. 

Never in our wildest imaginations did we believe under the guise of public safety that our parental rights and obligations would be taken away by elected or appointed officials when it comes to the best decisions on children’s behalf regarding personal health decisions, cultural or social guidance, morality, traditional curricula or age-inappropriate content.

As a parent I ask that we please begin to focus once again on what’s most important for our community. Traditional academic-based performance standards which is why we all moved here in the first place and is why we all pay incredibly high taxes to support.

Thank you for your dedicated service.”

The video of McLaughlin’s comments can be found here. You decide which Board members listened.

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school tax levy

“At the Sept. 6 Board meeting, the Board held a public hearing on the proposed FY23 budget. The Board is giving preliminary review to a tentative budget that is balanced for the 26th consecutive year.

Approximately 86% of the district’s revenue comes from local property taxes. The balance comes from state and federal funding, and other local revenues such as registration fees and donations. The final budget is anticipated to be approved on Sept. 20. Click here to view the tentative budget packet.”

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220 BOE Photo copy

The District 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 7:00 PM at the District Administration Center, 515 W. Main Street. Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • Consideration to Approve TRS SSP Employer Participation Agreement
  • Consideration to Approve the Intergovernmental Agreement for Shared Instructional Services with Township High School District 214
  • Consideration to Approve 2022-23 Board Priorities

A copy of the agenda can be viewed here. The meeting will be live streamed on the district YouTube channel.

Related:Controversial ‘Gender Queer’ will remain on the shelf at Barrington High, school board decides

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Gender Queer

A copy of “Gender Queer,” a graphic novel about a nonbinary teen, sits on a table during the Barrington District 220 school board meeting on Aug. 16, 2022, in Barrington. (H. Rick Bamman / Pioneer Press)

As the mother of five children, Barrington resident Marsha McClary approved of her hometown school district teaching students about the birds and the bees with what she described as a traditional, biology-based sex education program.

So when McClary heard Illinois lawmakers had passed legislation mandating that school districts teaching comprehensive sex education follow new standards created by a New York City-based nonprofit, McClary decided to do her homework.

“I read through the whole thing and in general, I thought, a lot of these things in the standards are wonderful, but then I got to page 21, and for me, that’s where the rubber meets the road,” said McClary, whose children are enrolled in Barrington School District 220.

In particular, McClary was troubled that the standards required that by the end of fifth grade, Illinois students should be able to “describe the role hormones play in the physical, social, cognitive, and emotional changes during adolescence and the potential role of hormone blockers on young people who identify as transgender.”

McClary was also alarmed to see a requirement that by the end of fifth grade students should be able to “distinguish between sex assigned at birth and gender identity and explain how they may or may not differ,” as well as “define and explain differences between cisgender, transgender, gender nonbinary, gender expansive, and gender identity” and understand that “gender expression and gender identity exist along a spectrum.”

“For an 11-year-old person, I’m just not OK with that,” McClary said.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act into law in August 2021, making Illinois the first state in the U.S. to formally pass legislation codifying new national sex education standards developed by SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change.

According to the SIECUS website, the nonprofit advances sex education as a means to create a “long-term culture shift that will positively impact all levels of society, particularly issues of gender and racial equity, sexuality, sexual and reproductive health, consent, personal safety, and autonomy.”

Read more here.

Related: “Controversial ‘Gender Queer’ will remain on the shelf at Barrington High, school board decides

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AR-220819373The controversial graphic memoir “Gender Queer” will remain on the shelf at the Barrington High School library, the Barrington Community Unit School District 220 school board has decided.

The board’s vote late Tuesday came after school- and district-level reviews of author Maia Kobabe’s account of exploring gender identity and sexuality. The district-level committee recommended keeping the book in the library, Superintendent Robert Hunt said

The Barrington district is at least the third suburban school system board to keep “Gender Queer” available in high school libraries despite strong opposition from some parents. Antioch Community High School District 117 officials opted to retain the book in April, and the Downers Grove High School District 99 board did the same in June.

District 220 board member Erin Chan Ding, who voted to keep the book, said the district must serve each one of its more than 8,000 students.

“And that includes making sure that our students can access stories that could reflect their experience, their friends’ experiences, and could help them build empathy in ways that are appropriate,” she said.

Joining her in voting to retain the book were board President Sandra Bradford, Vice President Leah Collister-Lazzari and Secretary Barry Altshuler. Board members Katie Karam and Steve Wang cast no votes (Thus continuing the 220 Board partisan voting track history since the 2021 election).

Read more here.

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220 BOE Photo copy

The District 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 7:00 PM at the District Administration Center, 515 W. Main Street. Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • Consideration to Approve the Rejection of the Woodland Demolition Bid
  • Consideration to Approve License Agreement to Install and Maintain Bollards at Hough Elementary School
  • Consideration to Uphold the Recommendation of the District Level Review of Materials

A copy of the agenda can be viewed here. The meeting will be livestreamed on the district YouTube channel.

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