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Thursday, April 23, 2009

1 in 4 grade schools going year-round

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Sun-Times:
...the Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to put more than a quarter of public elementary schools on a year-round schedule.

That adds up to 132 of 483 elementary schools that have traded the traditional summer vacation to start classes a month earlier, with several two- to three-week breaks staggered throughout the year. The board approved requests from 67 schools to switch to the Track E calendar, adding to 65 schools already on that schedule.

"As Mayor Daley has said time and time again, we must use every tool at our disposal to better educate our students," Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman said at a news conference at Smyth Elementary in the South Loop, one of the schools that will make the switch.

"This strategy . . . would keep more than a quarter of all of our elementary schools open for most of the year. In other words, our students are on a continuous learning cycle," he said.
What's does this mean exactly?
Students at year-round schools spend 170 days in the classroom and end school in mid-June -- the same as their peers on a traditional schedule. But they get a shorter summer vacation, returning the first week of August rather than after Labor Day, and they have frequent short breaks during the year.
I'm undecided, but that might only be because I don't have children in the school system yet. I certainly wouldn't like this if I was a student, but unfortunately I wouldn't have had the right or the ability to speak out against it.

I'd say if this were only about keeping our children out of harm's way then we could just as easily find some extra-curriculars to do. Not all of our children want to be in a classroom all year, but we do have to develop some programs that will keep them engaged in the learning process in addition to keep them from loitering themselves into trouble.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

CPS offering financial literacy in curriculum

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Sun-Times:
Passing algebra, geometry and calculus is one thing. Mastering the skills needed to pay bills, balance a checkbook, make car and mortgage payments is quite another.

Chicago's 113,166 public high school students may soon get a steady diet of both.

Schools CEO Ron Huberman disclosed Tuesday that "financial literacy" would be worked into the curriculum at Chicago's 116 public high schools in time for the start of school next fall.

Huberman made the announcement after joining City Treasurer Stephanie Neely to highlight the 45 minutes of financial education instruction being given this week to 71,000 students in 2,500 Chicago classrooms.
Before I left the 8th Grade we took a minimum skills proficiency test. If I recall correctly this test was to see if we could make change, read a map, or balance a checkbook. That's to name a few things I can recall.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Small-Talk: Mayor control vs. public engagement

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Mike Klonsky believes that mayoral control of the public schools haven't been very successful and has lead to little accountablity. Read on!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Illinois schools: Controversial grant program cut

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A just posted a more condensed version of this over at The 6th. Here's the full article from the Tribune:
It took a mammoth budget crisis and the arrest of Rod Blagojevich, but state leaders are shelving a dubious after-school grant program that a Tribune investigation found included many handouts that rewarded one lawmaker's political supporters.

The Illinois State Board of Education deleted $9.7 million for the controversial program from next year's budget proposal, and new Gov. Pat Quinn backed up that decision.

The decision comes after the Tribune reported last year that state Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago) helped at least 21 campaign workers and donors get the grants, some totaling $20,000.

Nearly half of the 48 grant recipients the Tribune investigated were found to be running dubious programs or declined to show how the money was spent.

In one case, a church sat darkened and padlocked during after-school hours even though it was presented as a tutoring center. In another, a woman used her grant for billboard ads to encourage teens to attend community college but pocketed nearly half the money.

All of the questionable projects shared the same sponsor: Hendon.

The veteran lawmaker recently said that not every organization he helped abused the grants. "Even though everybody might not get it right, that's no reason to kill a program that we have to have," he said.
It's not actually posted at The 6th yet, but it will be. Some how after school programs should find some money from somewhere.