District 225 terminates parent-teacher conference night

Maggie Baumstark, staff reporter

Negotiations last year between the Glenbrook Education Association (GEA) and the District 225 School Board led to the decision to discontinue parent-teacher conference night, due to contractual discrepancies and questions of necessity, according to Matthew Whipple, President of the Glenbrook Education Association.

The GEA, the district’s teacher union, represents all certified District 225 staff, Whipple said. According to Principal Dr. Lauren Fagel, there was an inequality between North and South, as North did not have parent-teacher conference night, but South did. According to Fagel, the main discrepancy existed within the required time each school’s teachers had to be at school under the same contract.

“It was just messy,” Fagel said. “From a union perspective, you want all of your teachers to have the same required time.”

There were also concerns amongst teachers about whether the conferences were reaching the parents who actually needed them, Whipple said. English teacher Annie Kim, feels that in the past, the parents who attended conferences were those of students doing well in the class.

“I think that most of the conferences that I had were not as meaningful as they should have been,” Kim said. “The parents [who signed up for conferences] were usually with kids who were excelling in classes.”

The amount of time alloted for each conference was also an issue, Kim says. Each conference was five minutes long, which Kim believed did not constitute enough time to discuss issues in depth. South parent Vickie Maris felt that despite the short length, conferences were a way for parents to gain crucial insight on their child that may not have been reported by the child themselves.

“I think they were short and I would’ve preferred ten [minute conferences],” Maris said. “But, even if your kid is doing really well, you’re not sure what’s going on socially. With all the mental illnesses out there, the teachers might notice something that you don’t notice at home.”

Sophomore Justin Sienes believes that conferences gave parents a more personal insight into how their child acted in school, rather than just the numerical grades.

“[My parents] were updated, and felt more confident in me,” Sienes said. “Parent-teacher conferences were a way to see how I was acting in school, not just grade-wise, but how I was doing with other students.”

Discussions about whether or not to bring conferences back will be held if parts of the South community feel necessary, Whipple said. Whipple believes that the absence of conferences presses teachers to bridge any communication gaps that may arise between teachers and families.

“One of the contentions that we made when we said, ‘We’re not going to do these anymore,’ was that we’re gonna fill those gaps by meeting where necessary with families,” Whipple said.