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Monday, March 21, 2011

Harlan Family Conference & Resource Fair

Harlan High School is having a resource fair on March 26 from 9 AM to 1 PM. I have posted more details over at The Sixth Ward. One of the workshop topics at this event is the successful transition from elementary school to high school. I wish I could go just so that I can see what that means. Harlan is located at 9652 S. Michiagn Ave.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chicagoist: Emanuel Looking Outside Chicago for CPS CEO

So we know who the Mayor-elect wants to lead CPS:
Emanuel is looking to bring stability to a position that has seen three men fill the role in the past three years, who can address the major issues facing the school system - balancing a $750 million budget deficit; improving test scores; improve its own morale problems and be able to deftly negotiate a new contract with a teachers union that didn't back any mayoral candidate in the February general election. Emanuel prefers someone with experience in handling any or all of these issues and high on his list is Baltimore City schools CEO Andrés Alonso.

Alonso and Emanuel have similar ideas about reforming troubled school systems. Before Alonso's 2007 arrival in Baltimore, that city's school system was in a state of decay so bad the state of Maryland was poised to take over parts of it. Alonso diverted millions of dollars in education funds from the system's administration offices directly to the schools, slashed the central office staff by a third, closed schools that were failing and replaced ineffective principals, gave principals at other schools more fiscal autonomy, and the dropout rate decreased by fifty percent. Alonso's sweeping reforms for a school district that was graduating less than half of its students was the subject of a detailed New York Times article last December.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Next LSC meeting is March 23

Differs from the LSC meeting schedule a little bit. Looks like a No Child Left Behind meeting will occur after the LSC. Might be interesting and hopefully no confusion. Also their advertising food, or well refreshments. For the Bennett-Shedd LSC meeting there are usually refreshments.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It’s Breakfast Time, and Education Will Pay

This article from the Chicago News Coop details how at elementary schools throughout CPS, children can now eat breakfast right in the classroom. What was once a voluntary program of breakfast in the classroom is now mandatory. Even worse they say because of this what is already the shortest school day among elementary school districts in America's largest cities have gotten a lot shorter.

A typical day for elementary school students in Chicago is five and a half hours. Comparable to when I went to school years ago from 9 AM to 2:30 PM. Of course I have noticed that students at Shedd go to school at least 15 minutes longer than I used to. Thus it seems their day ends not at 2:30 but at 2:45.

According to this article officials at CPS says that breakfast should take no more than 10 minutes, unfortunately:
It gets worse. Schools like my son’s may stagger lunch due to inadequate space. At his school, kindergartners go at 10:30 — a little more than an hour after they’ve had breakfast. Isn’t that nutritionally sensible!

Colleen McVeigh is a teacher who was a consultant to the AUSL network, a group turning around some very tough schools. She taught at 14 of the most challenging elementary schools. Each started the voluntary program and, she informed me, “the notion of taking 10, even 15 minutes, is total garbage.”

Ms. McVeigh said that 25 to 30 minutes of instructional time went poof. Younger kids are, well, younger kids. They need help to open cartons or peel oranges, spill milk, etc. When she caught the drift, she wound up not arriving at her assigned school until 9:20, as was true with many students, she says, because of the breakfast delay.
So what might the students be losing during the course of their school day?
So chew on this: children are losing, perhaps, 20 minutes each day. That’s 57 hours over 170 school days, or more than 10 days — of instructional time.
OK, here's an idea give an extra half-hour at least to the school day. That is start school at 8:30 AM instead of 9 AM. For those student who want breakfast they should arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of classes for the day. Make notification to parents to let them know that breakfast food is available to them.

This may not be the best solution but I've put mine out there at least. There are some who could use a good meal before they start the day. Especially for the sake of their own nutrition.

 BTW, check out the Capitol Fax. In addition to a discussion about campaign finance in Illinois, they also posted this very article near the bottom of the post there. Check out the comments made on this very issue although you would have to thoroughly read the comments to find the ones about breakfast in schools.

CapFax is an adult blog, but don't expect anything vulgar there.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Interim CPS CEO on Chicago Tonight March 8th

[VIDEO] He talks about testing. That was an issue at the LSC meetings I attended at Bennett as it was believed it was an overemphasis. Of course there are other "metrics" that could be used to measure student success such as the grades a student makes. I may disagree with that however a standardized test alone shouldn't determine whether or not a student should be promoted to the next grade. That isn't what Terry Mazany was referring to however.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Help CPS: External Affairs & Partnerships

Discovered this website that provides information for individuals and groups to support Chicago's public schools. I was interested in information for starting an alumni/friends of organization for individual schools. Alas the link on that website was broken and instead I had to rely on to give me a glimpse.
If you are interested in creating an Alumni Association or “Friends Of” group to support a CPS school, we can give you some ideas that will help you lay the foundation for a successful start. If you already have a group, we would love to know about your activities and help you promote your events when possible.

A great resource for Alumni Associations and “Friends Of” groups is, where you can post information about events and fund raisers, and use the online donation page to accept credit card donations.
Needless to say there's not much, however, this is something that may be beneficial an alumni or friends of organization. Let's hope that CPS is interested in encouraging the growth of such groups.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mayor-elect selects education transition teams

Crain's has a list of names for Rahm Emanuel as he appoints a 14 member team consisting of business, community, & non-profit leaders for making recommendations for improving education:
  • Ellen Alberding, President of the Joyce Foundation.
  • Rev. Byron Brazier of the Apostolic Church of God.
  • Don Feinstein, Executive Director, Academy for Urban School Leadership.
  • Sharrod Gordon of the Target Area Development Corp.
  • Zipporah Hightower, Principal of Bethune School of Excellence.
  • Liz Kirby, Principal, Kenwood Academy High School.
  • Tim Knowles, Director, University of Chicago Urban Education Institute.
  • Mike Milkie, Superintendent and CEO, Noble Street Charter School.
  • Natalie Neris-Guereca, teacher, Dr. Jorge Prieto Elementary School.
  • John Price, Principal, John J. Audubon Elementary School.
  • Diana Rauner, President, Ounce of Prevention Fund.
  • Celena Roldan, Executive Director, Erie Neighborhood House.
  • Monica Sims, teacher, John J. Pershing West Middle School.
  • Elizabeth Swanson, Executive Director, Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation.
Safe to assume this team will concern themselves with the Chicago Public Schools. This is what a mayor transition does and it's been 22 years almost since Chicago has inaugurated a new mayor. Imagine that!

Also noted is a 17-member transition team for improving the city's financial plan (budget).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Shedd School on election day...

Shedd School was a polling place during the mayoral election last month. I would've taken more pictures outside but there were people standing around, prolly campaign volunteers to maintained a distance marked by some blue cones. Inside the blue cones campaign activity was prohibited.

As I walked around on that Tuesday I decided to go by Bennett School and possibly take some pictures. There were people standing around oustide of that school and I also didn't feel bold enough to take a picture.

BTW, Shedd School is located in Chicago's 6th Ward (Ald. Freddrenna Lyle who's in a run off) while Bennett School is located in Chicago's 9th Ward (Ald. Anthony Beale who prevailed over his opponents). Believe it or not Shedd and Bennett aren't that far away from each other. What separates the 6th and 9th Wards is the Calumet (Bishop Ford) Expressway. Even then both schools are a block off the expressway.

The campaign signs outside of Shedd
Signs in front of Shedd's playset
Signs on a neighboring block outside of Shedd