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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In CPS, library void goes beyond one sit-in

The subtitle: Lack of money, space leaves more than 160 schools inadequately equipped.

Almost makes me glad both Bennett-Shedd schools have decent libraries once upon a time. I wonder if some of these schools could work with the public library system to give CPS students access!

If they want to explore a wider world of books or get help with research from a trained librarian, children in Chicago often have to look beyond their school.

Many of the city's public schools lack libraries, a situation that made a group of mothers in Pilsen so angry they commandeered the ramshackle field house at Whittier Elementary School for more than a month.

The mothers won, and the Chicago school board is set to vote Wednesday on measures including a library for Whittier that should end the protest.

But the situation at Whittier is hardly unique. Citywide, 164 public schools — nearly 1 in 4 elementary schools and 51 high schools — do not have standalone libraries staffed by a trained librarian.

A lack of money and space and the competing need for new technology mean libraries are often left out of school plans even as students in Chicago Public Schools struggle to meet national standards in reading.

Even at those schools that do have a library, which by CPS' definition means at least one part-time teacher-librarian is on staff, the situation is sometimes far from ideal.
This is worth reading the whole thing!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Observations before visiting that Bennett-Shedd LSC meeting

Well instead of writing about the meeting I'll just discuss the sights and sounds of that day.

First I was very disappointed to find that as I walk into the school there were metal detectors right at the entrance. It never made sense to me that before you go to school for the day you had to be searched as if you were entering a courthouse. Unfortunately we do know why they have metal detectors at our schools these days. We all too often hear about violent incidents at our schools, especially high schools, where a weapon (such as a gun) was involved.

I saw that the auditorium was open and then beyond the metal detector was a desk where security was posted. Very different from the last time I was there. Unfortunately safety around these schools are important and that means a presence of security cameras and before I left I caught a glimpse of what they see.

I was confused as to where to go for the meeting and at least there was a security guard who saw me and asked if I needed help. He told me where to go for the LSC meeting.

The school does look different but not as different as I saw Harlan last year. The school still looks like it was built in the late 1920s. There were signs for science project winners with very familiar names unfortunately the banners stopped around 1998 or so. There was a trophy case as well with a big softball in it.

Some of the classrooms look no different than the last time I attended a class there although I didn't enter a classroom. But I did get a glimpse of those murals I wish I could share with you in the school's cafeteria. Well there is a room where the students eat, and another room where the food is actually served during the lunch periods.

Oh yeah this school actually has two front entrances. I entered in the main entrance on the north side of the school near 101st. The other entrance is on the south end closer to 102nd Street. When students enter the school there they also have to walk through a metal detector posted outside that entrance.

If there was anything I could do I would get rid of these metal detectors unless they were absolutely needed.

I turned the corner and headed towards the school library where the meeting would take place. The open door was what would greet me to this meeting. A huge Chicago Public Library card would greet my outside the door. And I saw a decade plus amount of change just that quick.

Nine Dell computers, some large shelves of books were gone! There was more room in the library. Well the shelves used be on the floor, but in their place instead was smaller shelves. A table with chair designed for young children.

This library was decorated with a lot of decoration. Lot of stuff you would buy at an education themed store. I noticed on a closet that there were boards for Mayor Daley Book Club, announcements and others than I can't remember. There were on top of a bookshelf AV machines where displayed between displays noting the Bennett-Shedd Junior Beta club. One was dated for 1998.

Well the old school library has made way for the 21st century which was certainly a good thing. :)

I'll write about the actual LSC meeting later on. It started half an hour late and I wasn't out of there until at least 6:30.

Next time I arrive I want to take some pictures of the insides. Got to find a way to swing that!

Monday, October 18, 2010

New ISAT lets kids pass with more wrong answers

This is the oddest story I have seen out there. What is this about?
Illinois has been cutting the number of points required to pass annual achievement exams, allowing children to flub more questions but still be deemed "proficient."
Back in 2006, it took 36 of 56 points — about 64 percent — to pass the fifth-grade reading test. Now, it's 31 points, or 55 percent.
The third- and fourth-grade reading tests used to require 61 percent of possible points. This year, it's 54 percent.
Compared with 2006, fewer correct answers are required to pass 11 of 12 Illinois Standards Achievement Tests in reading and math, state data show, raising questions about how much students really have to know.
Meanwhile, passing rates on the exams have risen, assuring parents and the public that schoolchildren are making gains.
This article is worth your time. Almost seems like cooking the books here.

Via Capitol Fax!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CPS tenured teachers

First story is from CPR about what to do after a federal judge ordered that layoffs of tenured teachers must be rescinded after the Chicago Teacher's Union (CTU) sued.
Alicia Winckler is the chief human capital officer for the district.

WINCKLER: We'd have to find the money. We don't have any additional money to utilize for something like this, so we'd have to find that money within our budget.

Another district official says rehiring all tenured teachers could cost CPS about $30 million. In order to free up that money, the official says pink slips would have to be sent out to about 500 non-tenured teachers.
CPS plans to appeal this ruling however:
Earlier this year, the Chicago Board of Education gave Huberman the power to lay off tenured teachers to help close a multi-million dollar budget gap. When he exercised that authority, the Chicago Teachers Union sued the district, saying the layoffs were carried out with disregard to seniority or tenure.

A federal judge on Monday ruled that the district must work with the teachers union within the next 30 days to hammer out a plan to recall tenured teachers.

Huberman says state law does not require the district to rehire teachers based on seniority.

HUBERMAN: What’s right for kids and what’s right for performance—when we do recall—is the very best teachers who are most highly rated are the first ones who should be able to come back.
CTU Pres. Karen Lewis says that CPS can't merely pick and choose which parts of the law to follow.

Also Mayor Daley who plans to retire after the Mayoral election next year is still coming up with plans for the teachers in the school system that is under his control:
Mayor Richard Daley today touted a $34 million federal grant to increase pay for the best teachers at 25 "high-need" Chicago public schools as a good way to provide teachers and principals the support and feedback they need to succeed.

Under the five-year Teacher Incentive Fund grant, about 1,100 teachers will be able to receive merit bumps in pay of up to 15 percent for exceeding classroom standards.

"These are elementary schools with a high percentage of low income students, which have historically struggled with high teacher turnover," Daley said during a news conference at Ravenswood Elementary School on the North Side.
"We'll use the money to develop a system that will include meaningful evaluation criteria, supportive professional development for teachers, which will reward teacher performance for meeting or exceeding classroom goals," he said.
And speaking of Mayor Daley, Ron Huberman - his current appointment to lead the city schools - will not continue to serve under a new mayor. Head towards The Sixth Ward to find out more about that.

Monday, October 4, 2010

LSC meeting at Bennett on October 20th

I only know because well I took this picture of this sign at Shedd School. Since as stated many times here Shedd is a branch of Bennett to the south I suppose they combine the LSCs.

I want to go to this meeting but that depends on work and the fact that this is the same week as homecoming at Morehouse. Hmmm I need some more information like what other LSC meeting dates there are. I need some more information.

Friday, October 1, 2010

CPS Obsessed

A blog I found via District 299 blog. A parent wants to help other parents navigate the ins-and-outs of sending their children to the city's public schools system. Added to the blogroll!

BTW, quick trivia Chicago Public Schools is officially classified as City of Chicago School District #299, according to Wikipedia.