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Friday, December 31, 2010

Winter time at Shedd School

I took this picture in front of Shedd School not long before the snow melted later in the week.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Childhood nutrition legislation

This segment aired on C-Span's Washington Journal this morning:
Tracy Fox talked about childhood nutrition legislation and its impact on schools, and she responded to telephone calls and electronic communications. This program was part of a week-long "Washington Journal" series on food policy in the U.S.
I would like to refer you to another segment from C-Span talking about childhood hunger here on this blog. Perhaps different subjects but similar tracks as we talk about what children are fed in our schools.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Coalition calls for an elected school board

The video above is from Chicago Tonight which talks about calls for an elected Chicago School Board.

Below an article from the Chicago Tribune:
Chicago's next mayor shouldn't control the city's public school system, a coalition of teachers, community leaders, parents and students said Wednesday, raising an idea that quickly splintered the major contenders for the office.

The group called for an elected school board that would geographically represent the city instead of the current panel the mayor appoints. The proposed board would dedicate seven of the 13 seats for parents and community members. Two would go to teachers and one each to an administrator, education researcher, paraprofessional and business person.

The push is in its early stages; advocates will need to persuade state legislators to overhaul the landmark 1995 law that put control of Chicago Public Schools into Mayor Richard Daley's hands. To that end, the group is lobbying "key legislators," said Jitu Brown of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, who declined to say which lawmakers the group is targeting as sponsors.
In an open letter to the "citizens of Chicago," the coalition also recommended the board stagger its meetings between weekday mornings in district headquarters and evening sessions in area schools. A student advisory board also would be convened and report to district leaders.

The proposed changes would upend the system that allows Daley to appoint a school CEO and board members. The school board now includes seven members drawn from several top financial and consulting firms in the city.

But Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said that's no substitute for the voices of parents, teachers and students who are in the city's schools every day. The union is one of the main architects of the proposal.

What's more, the union wants the return of an educator to lead the Chicago education system. Daley has favored the CEO model of leadership, picking four school chiefs in 15 years who were not career educators.

"The top-down decisions made by non-educators have not shown the improvement," Lewis said.
Before Mayor Daley took control of CPS back in 1995, I have no idea how one became a member of the School Board. In addition to that, I have no idea who appointed the School's superintendent. Today the schools have a Chief Executive Officer, the last superintendent of the public schools was Argie Johnson.

BTW, I have little problem with a CEO running the schools. Running a major school system will involve more skills than being an educator, especially if one needs to worry about making sure the school get all the necessary resources. But it's not unreasonable to call for an elected school board even if CPS remains a department of the City of Chicago where the Mayor still has a hand in who actually runs the system.

BTW, what about the Mayoral candidates on this issue you saw that in the Chicago Tonight video, but what about reading that article that I had excerpted.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

C-SPAN StudentCam 2010 Honorable Mention - 'Education for All'

Being that this is now an education blog this StudentCam entry from this past year is more than appropriate. Made by Carlos Mattos, Marc Cahill, & Cameron Crockett who were in the 12th grade at Lowell High School in Massachusetts.

Check their Tumblr site!

Monday, December 27, 2010

UPDATED: The agenda for the Dec. 8, 2010 Bennett-Shedd LSC meeting

EDIT: Hehehe forgot to post the actual agenda! It is posted below

I mentioned the T-Mobile check on this blog earlier. Thanks to T-Mobile putting a cell-phone tower on the school's property. Oh yeah they did hand out a booklet with regards to CPS' budget. I might blog about that in the near future.

Bennett-Shedd LSC Meeting Agenda

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Civics project teaches youths they can do big things

A project that not only informs of Dr. Martin Luther King's movement in Chicago especially in Marquette Park on the south side, but also how it encourages students to be leaders:
Students at Gage Park High School who had been unaware of their community's part in the civil rights movement — that Martin Luther King Jr. led marches through the then-all-white neighborhoods surrounding Gage Park and Marquette Park — wanted to build a tribute to the civil rights leader, hoping to enlighten others.

But students from a civics class at the Southwest Side high school — where nearly half don't make it to graduation — didn't want just a stone monument or a brick in the ground. They envisioned WiFi hotspots throughout the neighborhood where people could download audio and video about significant sites to their phones.

The result is a touch-activated interactive history kiosk that stands at the Marquette Park field house. The idea of hotspots didn't work out, but in January, students will get further recognition when the kiosk goes on display at the DuSable Museum of African American History for Martin Luther King Day.

The story of the Marquette Park memorial is not just about a class's journey to complete an innovative civics project. It's also about how a project can inspire students.
Read the whole thing it's a very good article!

Here's a link to the DuSable Museum.

Hey Shedd School blog is now mobile

This is how I can access this blog on my BlackBerry. Of course if you use a "WebKit-based mobile browsers" (as indicated by the Blogger in Draft blog) or an iPhone all you have to do is enter in the blog's address minus the ?m=1 and you will be redirected to a mobile version of this blog.

I had to directly use the url above because my BlackBerry isn't supported. Hopefully that will change soon and unfortunately using only that url well the header that was created for this blog doesn't fit on my 'Berry's screen. At least however I can follow this blog if I so chose on the go!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Have a happy safe holidays. Perhaps it's time to take a break from this blog just as easily as many young students are currently on holiday break. :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

C-Span StudentCam 2010 3rd Place winner

Donte Dinish was a 10th Grader at Jenks High School in Oklahoma when he won 3rd Place in the 2010 StudentCam documentary competition. His work is called Land of Opportunity and he made it with Sharlene Desima his classmate.  This interview aired on Washington Journal on April 1, 2010.

You can watch their work if you click this link!

You may want to know my point. Well I not only wanted to find some black faces in the competition, but I also wanted to see a black male face in this competiton. Besides, Bennett-Shedd Elementary Schools are largely populated by those black faces I want to see more of in this competition.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If only Bennett-Shedd students knew about this contest

The C-Span StudentCam Contest. For those of you from 6th to 12th grades (middle school to high school) you have until January 20, 2011 to enter. Winners will be announced March 9, 2011. The video above let's you know that there's only a month remaining in this competition.

Here's more:
C-SPAN's StudentCam is an annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think seriously about issues that affect our communities and our nation. Students are asked to create a short (5-8 minute) video documentary on a topic related to the competition theme listed below.
The topic:
Tell us about an issue, event, or topic that helped you better understand the role of the federal government in your life or community.
Man, I do wish I could enter this contest and perhaps I still could make a documentary on this very subject and I already have cameras too.

It reminds me when I was in the 7th Grade I was a huge enough Star Trek fan where I was very interested in re-filming episodes. Of course I had no idea where to start or began but I did start thinking about which classmates I would cast. :P

And by the time I hit 8th Grade - just in time to take the US and state constitution examinations - surely the subjects would've changed. If I had a video camera my interest surely would've turned to politics and just perfect for this contest depending upon the theme. It does change from year to year and I have no idea if this contest goes that far back.

If only I had a way to show what I could've done back them. Hopefully the project would've gotten off the ground then. ;)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Could this be your child?

Who makes you a proud parent of an Honors Student at Bennett-Shedd School? This picture was taken in the summer of 2009, I believe.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I know there was a lot of buzz about "Waiting for Superman"...

But have you ever heard of this film The Cartel, a friend told me about it.
The Cartel shows us our educational system like we've never seen it before. Behind every dropout factory, we discover, lurks a powerful, entrenched, and self-serving cartel. But The Cartel doesn't just describe the problem. Balancing local storylines against interviews with education experts such as Clint Bolick (former president of Alliance for School Choice), Gerard Robinson (president of Black Alliance for Educational Options), and Chester Finn (president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute), The Cartel explores what dedicated parents, committed teachers, clear-eyed officials, and tireless reformers are doing to make our schools better for our kids.

This movie will force the scales to fall from the eyes of policymakers, education officials, reformers, intellectuals, teachers, and taxpayers. Putting a human face on the harm done by the educational cartel, The Cartel takes us beyond the statistics, generalizations, and abstractions that typically frame our debates about education—and draws an unequivocal bottom line: If we care about our children's futures, we must insist upon far-reaching and immediate reform. And we must do it now.
If you know very little about Waiting for Superman, here is a brief description:
For a nation that proudly declared it would leave no child behind, America continues to do so at alarming rates. Despite increased spending and politicians’ promises, our buckling public-education system, once the best in the world, routinely forsakes the education of millions of children. Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim reminds us that education “statistics” have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, whose stories make up the engrossing foundation of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. As he follows a handful of promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth, Guggenheim undertakes an exhaustive review of public education, surveying “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes,” methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems. However, embracing the belief that good teachers make good schools, and ultimately questioning the role of unions in maintaining the status quo, Guggenheim offers hope by exploring innovative approaches taken by education reformers and charter schools that have—in reshaping the culture—refused to leave their students behind.
You know The Cartel ought to play at my local movie house. It does exhibit movies to a largely Black audience. Late last month it played host to Waiting for Superman and there was even a panel discussion for this film.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bennett/Shedd schools truly "Rocks for Reading!"

Was Googling information on the Bennett/Shedd Junior Beta club but found this instead although I couldn't establish when exactly this was written. Of course there were other messages from other city elementary schools from this organization:
Greetings ROCK FOR READING FAMILY, I would just like to say THANK YOU one million times for the worderful books and for us making HISTORY together. It was an honor to be the customer that sent RFR over the 500,000 in donations mark. You are doing a great service to the students in the CPS community. It is because of you our schools and our students have GREAT BOOKS! Words cannot express the gratitude and appreciation that Bennett/Shedd Elementary School has for you and ROCK FOR READING!


Should the schools prevent teachers from striking?

The Capitol Fax Question of the Day:
A new school reform proposal working its way through the Illinois House has a section which would severely limit teachers’ right to strike. If there’s an impasse, the state’s Education Labor Relations Board could appoint a fact finding panel which would then come up with a solution. If that’s rejected by both parties, the panel’s proposals are published in local newspapers and the sides then have 10 days to settle. If there is no settlement, the two sides exchange their proposals and then the school boards, by a two-thirds vote, can impose a solution on the unions. If the school boards cannot muster a two-thirds vote, then and only then the union has the right to strike.

However, according to an internal analysis I’ve obtained created by the Illinois State Board of Education, it appears that Chicago’s education board could simply impose their own terms on the teachers union and prevent it from striking. And lots of people believe that this bill is designed to prevent a teachers strike when the current contract expires in 2012.

The legislation would also prevent teachers from including school-year length in their union contracts. Again, this appears aimed at the city, where the school year is one of the shortest in the nation.
You should check out some comments. Here's one in that post:
Not only should the locality be able to set its workplace rules, it should be allowed to decertify any public employee union. One other element in this proposal is tenure reform. I can almost understand tenure in universities. Almost. But tenure in K-12 is beyond me. It handcuffs the school administration from making personnel decisions that improve student performance, school budgeting, and ultimately school effectiveness and viability.

And before anyone says I don’t know what it’s like to be a teacher, I held a Type 09 certification in Illinois and taught at disadvantage schools.
I wonder if this proposal will be defeated however. School vouchers as mentioned in a previous post was defeated in the state legislature earlier this year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Meeks for Mayor on school vouchers

Arguing that Chicago Public Schools are “broken’’ and that parents deserve a “choice,’’ mayoral challenger James Meeks said Wednesday he would offer $4,500-a-year vouchers to 50,000 low-and-middle-income Chicago families to use toward private school tuition. 

If he is elected mayor, Meeks said he would also offer full-day kindergarten and character education in all Chicago Public Schools and double the time spent on reading and math in first through third grades. Full-day kindergarten would be financed in part by cutting bonus pay for teachers with master’s degrees.

The 90 minutes of daily reading time — up from 45 minutes currently — is designed to make certain that students read at a third-grade level by the time they finish third-grade.

The Chicago Teachers Union would be given one year to develop a policy “with teeth” to “identify and dismiss” teachers who are not performing. If the union cannot or refuses to meet that deadline, Meeks said he would ask the Illinois General Assembly to mandate a policy to weed out bad teachers.
Sounds good.

I don't have the numbers to back up outright vouchers, but I've just as easily decided that I can't have a position on that. I believe in school choice and that parents should have the ability to "vote with their feet". I can support the idea of parents moving their tax dollars from school to school or district to district. Nothing says that you should remain at a failing neighborhood school.

As for getting tough with the Teacher's Unions, I can definitely support that. I also know that this could take years and years of fighting to win.

Via Newsalert!

Another Facebook group for Shedd School

Did you attend Shedd School during the years 1976 to 1984. Then this is the Facebook group for you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cell tower at Bennett

The LSC meeting in October and the recent one I attended this month both made mention of checks provided by T-Mobile. The optimist in me wanted to believe this money was out of the goodness of their hearts and to be good corporate citizens.

It turns out that my old school was merely a place to put down a cell phone tower. For their trouble Bennett School gets a few dollars for whatever they may want to use it for. At the December LSC meeting the one that wasn't on a schedule presented to me they tapped this fund for T-Mobile to get Shedd School another copy machine.

So why am I bringing this up. Worlee Glover at his Concerned Citizens of Chatham blog has raised an objection to these cell phone towers. The main question is whether or not this is beneficial to the schools who have these cell phone towers or it's more harmful that we may realize.

Besides there are many who are concerned that constant use of the cell phone may prove more harmful than not. So what about these cell phone transmissions?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Grading scales at Chicago public elementary schools

A chart by the Chicago Sun-Times as it relates to city elementary schools. Bennett is included but now I need to offer some context:
At Chicago's Northside College Prep, the top-scoring public high school in the state, a student who scores a 90 on a test gets an A.

But at another elite college prep, Whitney Young Magnet, that same score merits just a B.

It's also a B at Robeson Achievement Academy -- a school for kids who couldn't pass eighth grade.

Number cutoffs for grades across Chicago public schools are all over the map, a first-of-its-kind Chicago Sun-Times computer analysis shows.

That's because schools are routinely snubbing the grading scales that district officials recommended in 2008 when they introduced a new electronic grading program called Gradebook, the Sun-Times found. In unleashing Gradebook, district officials inadvertently exposed a crazy quilt of grading policies.
According to the Sun-Times chart above at Bennett School 93 is an A, 87 is a B, 78 is a C, and 70 is a D. Look at most of the scales on that very chart, there really isn't a wild variation amongst the elementary schools. Then again I could just go through it with a fine toothcomb.