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Saturday, December 17, 2011

LSC meeting on my birthday...

This month's LSC meeting was held at Bennett School's auditorium. Hence the picture of this mural near the doors of the auditorium. This mural is one of several. One day I need to ask permission to photograph them. They should be treated as treasures.

Anyway, the issue of an extended school day came up. I believe it was mentioned in the media where the transition to an extended school day would occur in 2012-2013, the next school year. Concerned revolves around safety as students may be forced to travel to and from school during times when it's dark. Students would be expected to spend 7.5 hours at school under an extended school day.

Since it's going to happen next year, individual schools are expected to come up with a plan for how to conduct their extended school day. Of course CPS HQ can either adjust, advice, or reject the plans by the schools.

Also three parents stepped forward to express interest in an opening for LSC parent representative. One of them was a male and currently two males serve on the LSC. They all gave statements to those in attendance and then the LSC went into a closed session to consider the candidates.

I wish that they had their meetings in the auditorium but booo to no refreshments being served. They need to work on that. ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Cartel

[VIDEO] Close to a year ago I wrote about the documentary about public education entitled The Cartel. Now you can watch this film in its entirety on Hulu! Just click the word video within the brackets at the start of this paragraph and you will be able to watch all of the roughly one and a half hours of it. Although there will be several brief breaks for advertisements.

Hat-tip Newsalert!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Meeting schedule for the Bennett Shedd LSC

Just got a copy at the latest meeting but if anything should change refer to the about page and get in touch with the school. For Bennett School the phone no. is (773) 535.5460.

As per the most recent LSC meeting on Oct. 12, there is now a Parent Representative vacancy on the LSC. If you're the parent of a Bennett-Shedd student this is one way to get involved!
Bennett Shedd LSC 2011-12 Schedule

Monday, September 19, 2011

LSC report: Bennett-Shedd is on probation...

I learned this at yesterday's LSC meeting. The new principal - Ms. Roberta Fields - is making it her goal to get the school off of probation. For the most part it's based on the school's ISAT scores and CPS expect 100% improvement by 2014. She did note the school board merely raises the ante on what they expect and 100% improvement does seem quite unreasonable to me.

It was also noted that some of the students who took the test were special need. In earlier LSC meetings it was noted that they test the special needs students at the same level as their peers at their proper grade level. Unfortunately how can you compete with say seventh graders if you're mental capacity is only on say the 2nd grade level. It is hoped that now that the special needs students are exposed to the materials of general education students they may do better on the test the next time around.

Also enrollment has dropped this year. Bennett-Shedd has 482 students for this year while last year they had 560 students. Principal Fields noted that the decline in enrollment was due to charter schools although CPS is experiencing a decline in enrollment citywide. At Shedd School there are only 15 kindergartners.

Also the LSC talked about the issue of a longer school day. The individual members didn't appear to take a stand on this issue one way or another but a reasonable concern is over child safety especially when the students don't get out of school until it's dark. It's not just about the classes but the extra-curriculars and also concern about those whose parents aren't able to pick them up from school.

Also I got a new handbook at the meeting. It's not important to me necessarily since I'm neither a student nor am I a parent of a Bennett-Shedd student. However I would like to share some scans of this handbook in the near future.

Future reference if you ever want to attend a Bennett-Shedd LSC meeting they will be held on the 2nd Wednesday at 4:30 every month. Unless otherwise noted and they will announce future meeting dates at the meetings. May want to give the school itself a call if you want to find out when the next LSC is. Refer to the About page here on this blog

Thursday, August 25, 2011

CPS Now Wants Longer School Day in January - Chicago News Cooperative

CPS Now Wants Longer School Day in January - Chicago News Cooperative
Less than two days after negotiations between the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union stalled, a new offer is on the table presenting the possibility of a teacher raise and a longer school day as early as January.

Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard first offered to pay elementary school teachers 2 percent more to work an additional 90 minutes each day in September when he appeared on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” Tuesday night. During Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting, CPS officials said the changes could be made as soon as January, 2012.

The offer came as a surprise to CTU president Karen Lewis. “It would’ve been nice if we had that proposal while we were actually in negotiations,” Lewis said Wednesday after the board meeting. “For some reason they decided to do it on Channel 11.”

The two parties began negotiating over wages after the board voted to deny teachers their 4 percent contractual raises in June, citing a $712 million deficit.
Yeah making a proposal on TV show when it could've been made behind closed doors in labor negotiations is not exactly a good look. I'm just going to side with Karen Lewis on this one!

I do however like the fact that they're talking about a longer school day especially on the elementary school level. Let's hope that the school board and the teachers can come to terms with that.

ALSO you can watch CEO Brizard's appearance on Chicago Tonight below [VIDEO]

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Use of iPads is increasing in CPS classrooms - Chicago Sun-Times

Use of iPads is increasing in CPS classrooms - Chicago Sun-Times
An initial federal grant last year put 750 iPads in CPS classrooms ranging from kindergarten through high school. The new grant will supply elementary classrooms with 4,500 iPads, the last of which should arrive by the end of the week.

“I like playing math baseball,” said National Teachers Elementary Academy fourth grader Mavric Johnson, as he dragged a finger across the screen of an iPad — the almighty, and only, instrument in teacher Jennie Cho Magiera’s classroom. Writing utensils and paper are out of sight.

“It’s cool, we don’t like leaving this class,” Johnson said.

It’s allure may seem gimmicky, but Cho Magiera insists substance outweighs novelty.

Data from the ninja and baseball games, as well as a math test Johnson just completed, is sent back to Cho Magiera’s iPad, where she tracks each students’ progress, enabling her to pinpoint problems and tailor the lesson plan each student will face on their iPad.

This is how Cho Magiera was able to simultaneously teach 20 students 20 different lesson plans as a violin version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody played Monday morning in the background of her classroom in the South Loop.
 Using technology to enhance the learning environment. Whatever tools can help our young people understand what they're supposed to understand. Perhaps in the future they won't need actual textbooks, just read their iPad or whatever tablet device is available to them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bennett-Shedd is back in session Sept. 6th

Now with a new principal in longtime faculty member and assistant principal Roberta Fields.

Bennett-Shedd is not a track E school at least and as such those schools will start instead on August 8th.

Are you - parents & students - ready for the upcoming school year?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This is a month old pic..

But Bennett-Shedd at least has a new principal just in time for the start of the new school year. And it took less time than I thought it would to choose her!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What about the 8th graders you may want to know???

Well I wasn't in time to talk about my experience graduating from the 8th grade as I was for my experience in talking about graduation from kindergarten (kgs) yesterday. Yesterday the 8th graders had their commencment and on this day kgs have theirs both Bennett & Shedd at Bennett's auditorium.

Strangely enough my folks didn't have many pictures of the ceremonies. There was a ribbon pinning ceremony where the parents would walk onto the stage to pin a ribbon on me. Then after that the actual graduation which took place just about the last week of June the year I graduated.

In any case one of the many tassles hanging on a pin in my room included one from my 8th Grade commencement. I still have a few artifacts from that time even though I'm closing in on almost two decades since that time. As part of my grad regalia in addition to a cap and gown with an unattached tassle, there was also a kente scarf and a medal.

Not sure where my actual cap and gown is but I still have the medal and it's not particularly fancy but something I still treasure enough to get the medal itself attached to the ribbon again. The ribbon is red, black, and green and most likely to emphasize our African roots. I couldn't possess my kentae scarf because my mom would appropriate it whenever possible.

Somewhere around the house are the tickets from the graduation. I also ran across a program and my certificate. Also I do have a class picture which is really just all the portraits of not only my graduating class, but also the teachers, counselors, and administration at Bennett School.

Unfortunately if I wanted to share that I would have a tough time. The class picture is a little too large to just put on my HP scanner at home. :(

Unfortunately we had to sing at our graduation and when I rehearsed the ceremony some teachers discouraged it. My 8th grade teacher since I didn't get the step right to his satifaction said I had to march by myself when others marched in pair. Unfortunately we also had to sing some knock off songs such as "Kiss 8th Grade Goodbye" based upon the song "What I did for love". That in addition Bennett's school song.

Anyway at some point I was glad it was over and off to bigger and better things. On some level however I'm excited in more ways than one of the current crop of 8th graders.

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's graduation season at Bennett-Shedd...

Today Bennett's 8th graders had their commencement. Tommorrow - June 14th - there will be a ceremony for Bennet-Shedd's Kindergartners (KGs). It was announced at the last LSC meeting that they wanted to bring the KGs from Shedd so that they can also use Bennett's auditorium.

When I graduated from Shedd's KG program years ago, there was a ceremony held at the Shedd's auditorium/gymnasium. We used a stage or platform that could be pulled out for specially occasions such as awards ceremonies.

I unfortunately do not have many reminders of this ceremony except more than likely a cap & gown where the tassle was attached to the cap. Probably because young children tend to lose things. I have no certificate from back then and I no longer have my KG class pic. Also I recall finding a program from that day and didn't have the foresight to hold onto one of those.

There are pics that are in an album around the house with pictures of my and my family on the day of the KG ceremony. Around the time of my KG ceremony my bother graduated from Harlan High School. So there are some pictures in that album of him doing commencement at Third Baptist Church near 95th & Ashland.

Either way Shedd's auditorium/gymnasium also became the schools' lunchroom and computer lab before I moved onto Bennett School for 7th & 8th grade. For the purposes of a computer lab the school librarian - Mr. Hackenbrock - would roll the computers on trolleys in order for us to mainly play various computer games. Some of us would play a version of Prince of Persia but also Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, or even Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?

After many years of either allowing students to leave home to eat lunch or most students bringing a lunch to school with them, Shedd brought in the lunch program. Thus the gym also became a lunchroom and when there was gym classes usually on Thursdays classes would be held with folded lunchtables and platforms for assemblies off to the side. Rarely as obstacles but they were there.

Well this year KGs won't have the experience I had close to a quarter of a century ago. Can't believe it's been that long ago, but this post was allowed to go a little too long this evening. :P

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dr. Barbara J. Ellis Media Center

Or the Bennett School library with a banner and a portrait of the late Principal Barbara Ellis. There was a dedication ceremony for the library last month as the library was closed for renovation in time for the May LSC meeting. This was taken before the June LSC meeting convened on Wednesday! In fact one issue they discussed was the Principal vacancy and how to conduct it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Class pictures of Bennett School back in the day...

[VIDEO] This was posted at YouTube by RoselandTom just last year. He probably remembers the Roseland of years past. There is a community of such people who has good memories of the neighborhood. Technically Bennett School and even Shedd School is located in the Roseland community area on the south side of Chicago.

Anyway the pictures seen here with more recent shots of Bennett School features pictures of past students of the school going back to between 60+ to 50 years ago. Bennett is a very old school believe it or not.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Nickelodeon classic: Make the Grade

[VIDEO] When my folks first got cable it was the first time I saw Chicago Blackhawks hockey. Quickly I also became interested in this network called Nickelodeon. Alas I have more adult tastes than this network provides these days.

Still, Make the Grade is an example of one show I would like to see produced again today. The vid above is from 1989 hosted by Lew Schneider. Unfortunately seeing the broadcast history of this and other game shows produced for children, they seem to have a very short life.

I was a fan of Double Dare (DD) back in the day. It's safe to say that DD was the most popular of all those children's game shows. But Make the Grade is one should that hopefully would encourage our young people to do well in school. At least so I'd hope!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Got a glimpse of those old WPA Murals

I don't know if this lunchroom contained all the WPA murals at Bennett School that I had found out about close to two years ago. There are more pictures that I had taken at this month's LSC meeting which was held in the school's student lunchroom. This picture I posted because of the American flag. :P

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Through exotic produce, Chicago schoolkids learn to eat healthy - Chicago Sun-Times

Through exotic produce, Chicago schoolkids learn to eat healthy - Chicago Sun-Times

I still believe our young people should be exposed to those foods that are healthier for them. Of course that doesn't mean that we keep our young people from bringing a lunch from home.
Rutabaga. Star fruit. Jicama. Uglifruit. A lot of adults would have a hard time even identifying any of these in a fruit-and-vegetable lineup.

But not Louis Martinez, even though the first time he held a star fruit, he didn’t know what to make of it.

“It made me laugh,” said Louis, a 10-year-old third-grader at John Hay Elementary Community Academy, a Chicago public school in Austin, a neighborhood not known for having exotic supermarket produce sections. “It’s shaped like a star.”

Laughing’s OK with Wayne Williams, the principal at John Hay. It’s one of 14 Chicago schools where a federal grant is bringing produce to the kids. But at John Hay, the principal and third-grade teacher Jorie Schneider amped things up a bit. They’re mixing the mysterious with the mundane.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Looking for artifacts from the year I graduated from Bennett School.

Been digging some items out. Even found one artifact, a receipt from my school librarian for some graduation fees. Was really looking for some graduation tickets from the year I graduated. Will look for more and then scan the results for posting onto this blog. Alas, the artifacts will show my age. :(

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chicago elementary principal Reason's "Nanny of the Month"

[VIDEO] The Principal at Chicago's Little Village Academy is Reason's Nanny of the Month. The critique is over her attempt to protect students from unhealthy food choices. Mainly banning lunches brought to school from home and forcing students to eat food provided by the cafeteria. Of course that does no good if students refuse to eat the food provided by the school's lunchroom anyway. :/

Monday, April 11, 2011

Public School Bans Homemade Lunches

[VIDEO] This video is out of Chicago's Little Village Academy where the principal wants to protect her students from unhealthy food choices. Doing so means preventing children from bringing to school their own lunch and forcing them to eat whatever is in the school's cafeteria. Even though as reported in this video from FOX News, the students may well not like the food and choose to throw it in the trash.

At least it's not CPS policy to do so and that the Principal made the call on this. I would be highly upset about this especially if I know to give my child a healthy sandwich, a juice, or even a piece of fruit. Who is this person to say that I as a parent (not a parent yet, personally) don't know how to make healthy food choices?

UPDATED 6:00 PM District 299 has other related links to this story.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

CPS proposes school consolidation...

This post from Chicagoist talks about how CPS wants to deal with a $270 million deficit this year. Two ways amongst others to deal with deficit, tackle labor costs especially teacher pay or consolidate those schools with low enrollment.

Consolidation was mentioned at the last Bennett-Shedd LSC meeting. A teacher was concerned about Bennett-Shedd being consolidated thankfully someone at the meeting noted that they're not on the consolidation list. I had found a list from Chicago Public Radio of those schools who may be consolidated. Have to find it.

Found a list!

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

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chicago 8th-graders score near bottom in national science tests

Chicago 8th-graders score near bottom in national science tests - Chicago Sun-Times
The city’s African-American eighth-grade performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress was particularly disturbing.

CPS black eighth-graders tied their Baltimore counterparts in producing the worst African-American eighth-grade science scores among the nation’s large urban districts.

“The big effect is that these kids may have limited futures,’’ said Barbara Radner, head of DePaul University’s Center for Urban Education. “We need science for kids to go to college.’’
In eighth grade, a stunning 71 percent of CPS students scored below the most basic science level. Chicago’s eighth-grade results were subpar across virtually all racial and economic groups, except for Hispanics, whose scores were similar to those of Hispanics in other big cities.

Overall, CPS eighth-graders outscored Detroit, tied Cleveland, but fell behind peers in New York, Miami, Houston and Boston. But among African-American eighth-graders, Chicago’s science scores tied for the worst.

“As an African-American male, that make me sad and angry,’’ said Walter Taylor, a former CPS eighth-grade science teacher who now serves as a Chicago Teachers Union teacher facilitator.

Taylor noted that many heavily African-American CPS schools are on academic probation, so teachers there are pushed to emphasize reading and math over science and social studies because of the huge factor reading and math test results play in whether a school is closed. Even in science class, students may be reading about Madame Curie rather than doing experiments, Taylor said.
In elementary school I have always found science to be intimidating. While Mrs. Ellis presided over an LSC meeting they talked about creating a science resource room. Hopefully it'll be a lot more hands on than I had the luxury of during my time there.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The door to the Bennett School library

Went to the Bennett-Shedd LSC meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Only got this pic when I felt bold enough to snap a shot!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cramming for kindergarten tests

I know the trend these days are to have our young people sent to pre-school in order to prepare them for school. Still is Kingergarten really that serious where you have to test them. So what is this Tribune article all about?
To test into some of Chicago's top schools, incoming kindergartners must be able to do more than just count to 10 or rattle off the alphabet.

They could be asked to identify trapezoids, figure out how many cookies they'd have if Mom put two more on their plate, demonstrate advanced literacy skills and, for gifted programs, be able to infer relationships, recognize patterns and predict what comes next.

You can probably predict what comes next yourself: With 3,337 applications filed for about 500 seats in Chicago Public Schools' classical and gifted kindergarten programs next fall, parents are helping their preschoolers cram for the tests.

"It's just yet another example that the country has gone test crazy," said Robert Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest, a national nonprofit that advocates for other methods of assessing young children. "This sort of insanity testing produces test coaching for little kids and gaming of the system by parents and others to figure out what's on the test and get their kid a leg up. We're not letting kids be kids, and we're making them into little Einsteins."

But with low-performing neighborhood schools an unattractive option and the cost of some private schools out of reach, many parents see CPS' selective enrollment programs as the best public education option in the city. As kindergarten is an entry year for most of those programs, many parents are hiring private tutors, researching tests used in other large urban school systems, finding age-appropriate questions online and doing whatever else it takes to get their kids on the right track early.
Read the whole thing!

I do believe McDade is one of those classical elementary schools on the south side.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Was going to that Bennett-Shedd LSC meeting but...

Today's scheduled meeting was cancelled and moved back to exactly next week on the 23rd at 3:30 PM. There was another one according to this board at Bennett on the 7th of this month. Saw the agenda before I left the building to clarify that there is another meeting coming up and the one that was supposed to have been on the 16th had been pushed back a week.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shedd School in mourning a month after death of Principal

This black bunting was over the windows to the gym at Shedd School last week. The night before the message for Mrs. Ellis was still up and the American flag was still at half staff. By the end of the week the bunting had been removed the sign had recorded future events at Shedd & Bennett. It appears the mourning is officially over as Shedd.

If you've been following this blog since early last January, Mrs. Ellis was the principal at Bennett-Shedd until her untimely demise last month.

This week on Wednesday at 3:30 PM at Bennett School will be an LSC meeting. The next one without Mrs. Ellis.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Plowing along after storm

I can only imagine what happened at both Shedd and Bennett Schools when students returned to class yesterday. Since this blog isn't frequented by parents from either school all I can do is find one example from another neighborhood school:
And even though the Chicago Public Schools reopened Friday, scores of kids remained home. The roughly 24,000 students who normally ride school buses had to find their own way to school. As a result, attendance plummeted at some schools.

At Burnside Scholastic Magnet, where about two-thirds of kids are usually bused, only 209 of 760 students showed up. Streets were so treacherous around Burnside, 650 E. 91st Place, that even some parents who usually drive their kids to school kept them home.
Another worthwhile for the parents of CPS students from the ChicagoNOW blog, Ay Mama, about the Snow Days of 2011:
Now, from a mother's perspective it is very hard to entertain children on snow days.  I know Tuesday, I was excited for all of us to be home and just chill or veg all day.  I even told Gaby that we should do everything that evening as if we were going to go to school/work the next day.  So on Wednesday we can just watch TV and movies, play games (UNO and Wii), etc.  Well, Tuesday evening we prepared to veg on Wednesday.  About 8 everyone was in the living room watching TV and snow, excited to see what this storm would bring.

Wednesday morning, we looked out the window to see what mother nature had brought us.  It was unbelievable.  My daughters were in awe.  We were also watching the news to see how the rest of the city was faring during this time.  Then we had breakfast, cleaned up, played UNO, watched more TV and more looking out the window.  By the afternoon it was a little on the boring side.  The girls could have more of this but I couldn't  I also realized, that given the condition of the city we would have another snow day on Thursday.  By 3:00 it was announced, another snow day.

Thursday was the same as Wednesday.  This lounging was starting to get old.  Plus, a mother's job is never done.  There was still the accumulating dishes and clothes, beds to be made, and toys needed to be picked up.  The girls had enough movies, TV and games.  Running around became the new thing to do.  Then it was hide and seek.  They were having a lot of fun.  We went outside for a few minutes for pictures and some snow playing.  Gaby and Karla only managed about 15 minutes, while Andrea could only take 5 minutes.  They enjoyed what they could. 

I'm sure many mothers were happy to hear classes resumed Friday for CPS,  But I feel for the mothers whose children go to private school or suburban schools.  Many of them were going to have a 5 day weekend.  This includes my daughters.  While I'm at work, they are by my sister-in-law's house with their 3 cousins since last night.  I hope my sister-in-law is sane and in one piece when I get home this afternoon.  Thank you Manuela.  We'll see what the next storm brings us.  Ay mama!
Anyone else has some stories to tell about spending snow days with their children?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Back to class on Friday students...

Classes will resume Friday for more than 400,000 Chicago Public School students, Mayor Daley said Thursday.

But no school buses will run until Monday, officials said.

“It’s important we have clear and safe passage for them,’’ Interim CPS Schools CEO Terry Mazany said, noting that about 5 percent of students are bussed to school.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter wonderland outside of Shedd School

The side streets are really a mess outside of the school's lot. It'll be very difficult to drive around on the side streets and Shedd isn't on a major street at all. Good thing school is out both today and tomorrow.

Second CPS snow day Thursday

Oh wow! Two days in row, great for CPS students. Well OK let me be adult here it's unfortunate that students take two days from their studies, however, it's very important for students to be safe instead of being unable to travel safely to school.

That being said story from the Sun-Times:

Kids, rejoice: Chicago Public Schools officials have announced a second snow day for Thursday.

Officials said schools will remain closed as the city continues to dig out from one of the worst blizzards in history.

CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond said the system decided to close for a second day out of concern about “accessibility.”

Many CPS schools are located on side streets, which could be affected by dropping temperatures and icing overnight, Bond said. Plus, more than 24,000 students take buses to school and bus transportation was not 100 percent certain, Bond said.

“We can’t compromise safety,” Bond said.
Have fun children. Just know your teachers will see you back in class in no time. :)

Chicago Schools Cancel Classes For First Time Since 1999

This is really old news anyway, but worth posting here. You know when I was still at Bennett the only time schools were closed was not for the snow, but for the extreme temperatures. It got so cold that they closed the schools because of it. It happened again when I went to high school.
Chicago Public Schools classes have been canceled for Wednesday–for the first time since 1999–as the Blizzard of 2011 blows into Chicago.

Mayor Richard Daley made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon. More than 400,000 students are enrolled in the system.

Given the sheer size of this storm, Daley and CPS Chief Executive Officer Terry Mazany cited the safety of students as the key reason for the rare decision to shut the school system.
You know it's probably time I added a weather widget here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Education Secretary Urges Morehouse Students to Serve Their Country By Becoming Teachers

Click for the official website
Last month I snowed posted a blurb about Morehouse College President Robert Franklin talking about a town hall meeting with Education Secretary and former CPS CEO Arne Duncan and Morehouse alum and filmmaker Spike Lee to encourage more Black men to be teachers. That town hall was conducted yesterday and Morehouse provides us a story:

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rock for Reading Celebrates 500,000 donated books

Look at what I've found here. Another video about Bennett School and from the same organization that I blogged about earlier. Description:
Rock for Reading celebrates giving away it's 500,000 book at Bennett Elementary School in Chicago, IL.
Almost 20 seconds into this video (posted on February 1, 2010) you will see the late Principal Barbara Ellis talking about her love for reading and the books provided to Bennett students were what she used to read once upon a time. The duration of this video is about 3 minutes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

1954 8th Grade Civics Test

I posted this on another blog almost three years ago but figure it'll be relevant here as well. In the 8th Grade my class had to take an exam for not only the US Constitution but the Illinois Constitution as well. My scores were 106 for the federal constitution and 98 for the state. My then 8th Grade teacher really drilled us on this back then.

I found an example of a 1950s Civics Test this morning. Almost looks like the test I took back in the 8th grade many moons ago. I don't know what the Preamble to the Constitution was worth, but when I took the constitution exam I had to memorize and recite the Preamble for extra-credit and with practice I was able to do it flawlessly.

Anyway, this test was used to illustrate the difference in the school system of today vs. the school system of the 1950s. Look at this description...
What more proof do we need that our children are being deliberately dumbed down than this standard 1954 civics test on the U.S. Constitution on which Kenny Hignite received a 98 1/2, Excellent, indeed!
I have no way of knowing what the schools teach in the classroom these days. Especially as it comes to learning the Constitution. I would be disappointed that our schools doesn't give tests like this anymore.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Farewell to Handwriting?

This story from CBS Sunday Morning reminds me of my handwriting lessons from back in the day. I still have examples at home of my handwriting in Kindgarten, but unfortunately not much of my cursive work. And I can certainly believe that handwriting has given way to typing on a computer these days.

It might've been 3rd grade when I started using cursive. I simply don't remember anymore. :(

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Morehouse College wants more Black male teachers in American classrooms

Click for Morehouse website
Morehouse College is one of the most prestigious of our nation's Historically Black Colleges/Universities, but it's safe to say it's one of the prestigious of our nations colleges. Morehouse is not only historically Black, but also the only college that educates Black males.

It's interesting to see an update from Morehouse College President Robert Franklin, where he is talking about the weather situation in Atlanta:
Before I conclude, I’d like you all to be aware of an exciting event which you will hear more about in the days ahead. The U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will conduct a town hall meeting on the Morehouse campus along with alumnus, trustee and award winning filmmaker Spike Lee. The town hall will promote President Obama’s Teach Campaign aimed at dramatically increasing the number of African American male teachers in the nation’s classrooms.

Currently, the U.S. hires over 180,000 teachers a year. Only 4,500 of them are African American men. Although the Black student population is 17%, only 7% of all teachers are African American. Morehouse is in a position to impact this national phenomenon for the good. Stay tuned.
BTW, I believe Dr. Franklin is himself a product of the Chicago Public Schools as I read somewhere that he was a graduate of Morgan Park High School. He did give a commencement speech to (Empehi) back in 2009. Oddly enough I graduated from Morehouse that same year and he shook my hand as I strolled the stage.

Also, the bottom of this blog contains the symbols for both Harlan Community Academy and Morehouse College.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Grassroots effort to restore recess

The Shedd School backlot
 In the nearly five years since Lynn Morton helped begin an effort to restore recess to Chicago elementary schools, she says, she has never come across anyone who doesn't like the idea.

From parents to principals, teachers, Chicago Public Schools leaders and lawmakers, everyone seems to agree that the city's youngest students need time in the school day to play, exercise and socialize.

"In its essence there is no one who is opposed to recess," said Morton, 41, one of an estimated 300 parents organized to work on the issue by Chicago's Community Organizing and Family Issues, or COFI.

When it comes to turning it into policy however, recess in Chicago is more of an obstacle course than a playground. Once a routine part of the school day, it has been squeezed out by curriculum demands, crowding and safety concerns. And what seemed like a step toward restoring the practice — a recent decision by the General Assembly to appoint a task force to look into it — was the victim of what state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago, called legislative red tape.

Over the years, Morton and fellow parents, mostly from the city's Austin, Englewood, West Town, Humboldt Park and North Lawndale neighborhoods, have lobbied principals, CPS officials and legislators for the restoration of recess. Their campaign mirrors a national push led by groups ranging from the National PTA to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The movement has gained additional currency in recent years from the focus on childhood obesity.
 Read the whole thing!

If I recall correctly, recess was fazed out before I left for Bennett after the 6th Grade. I thought part of it was the fact that during the year before I left Shedd, we started having a breakfast/lunch program. Before that students were usually expected to bring a lunch from home.

We'd have recess at 10:30 AM and then we'd eat lunch at 12 Noon. Also at 12 Noon once upon a time we were able to leave school and go home to eat lunch. Eventually that policy would change and we would have to eat lunch at school.

Either way in that picture above, a lot of time was spent in the backlot at Shedd School during recess, once upon a time. :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Scene outside of Shedd School after school Friday

Click the photos for a better resolution.
 The flag was at half-staff on the flag pole outside of Shedd School.
Then the tribune to Mrs. Ellis on the outside marquee. Bennett didn't sport this on their board outside of that school on Wednesay.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Difficult LSC meeting on January 12th...

I wrote in my notebook twice about people getting emotional :'(, it was a really sad meeting under the circumstances. I was actually looking forward to seeing Mrs. Ellis again, but I had no idea December was going to be it. Some of the staff said that she was actually on vacation and she even came in at some point before she passed on.

There was some business discusses such as new computers and the new copier at Shedd School that was agreed on the previous month. This was the first time I didn't speak at the meeting. It was easier to do being the only one there, but there were more people there. Not sure how many parents but none spoke or identified themselves as such. One man said he was president of the No Child Left Behind program at Bennett.

In public participation the ones who participated was a 5th Grade teacher at Shedd and the President of NCLB who discussed ways to reach out to the community. An issue I am concerned about, but on this occasion I chose to hold my fire at that time. Actually I wanted to tell Mrs. Ellis about this blog, and sadly I waited too long.

Any event the meeting was called to order at 3:55 PM and I left when the LSC went into closed session at 4:42 PM. Here's the acutal agenda.

The previous post has info on funeral services.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A current Bennett student found this blog...

Comment published in the Bennett/Shedd Elementary Wesbite post. BTW, the official Bennett-Shedd website link is now broken. It's the second comment in there:
I attend bennett elementary. I am glad to say that the class of 2011, always puts their best foot foward. Some people may think that what we do is not so great. But I disagree, as long as we try our hardest, and shoot for the stars we will always be great. And thats something I think everyone should no about my school.=D!!! And R.I.P to our principal MRS.Ellis she will always be apart of the class of 2011. Do to the fact that we are her last 8th grade class. love much ~Ms.Brown

Thank you for visiting Ms. Brown. By calling yourself that you should consider being a teacher. :P

Also know that Mrs. Ellis was my third grade teacher once upon a time before eventually becoming Bennett-Shedd's Principal. And I think she's earned the tribute your class will give her when you graduate.

UPDATE: I saw at a FB group Bennett-Shedd Elementary School that Mrs. Ellis, funeral will be on January 15, 2010 this saturday at Antioch Church on 6300 S. Stewart.

UPDATE 7:36 PM -  Went to the LSC meeting today here's a flyer for Mrs. Ellis' funeral services

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sad news!!!

Well this morning I found out that my former 3rd grade teacher and the current Principal at Bennett-Shedd Elementary School Barbara J. Ellis had passed away yesterday. I don't have anymore information than that, however, I called Bennett School today to ask about the LSC meeting tomorrow. Current information is that it will still be held tomorrow. I expect to be there tomorrow afternoon.

That being said, it's really unfortunate that she WILL not be there tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I went to the New Regal Theater once on a field trip...

One memory I have attending elementary school was my one and only field trip to the "New" Regal Theater to catch a production of The Queen of Sheba when I was in the 7th Grade. I don't know how I missed this story of this theater from FOX Chicago back in November.

What opened as the Avalon in the late 1920s became a mainstay for years, but business waned.
The old place closed down, reopened, closed again and now is back with a new vibe with an appreciation of history.

It is today, looking toward tomorrow, with a nod toward yesteryear.

"Historically the Regal Theater represents quality and in the heart of their community. We want to offer entertainment you could find downtown Chicago, but here on the South Side as well," McCoy said.

Today you can find all sorts of acts and entertainment there.

While the competition is tough, the New Regal Theater offers something to please almost everyone, including a jazz on Wednesday series that is unbeatable.

"This place is great, and we really appreciate what they have done with it," Florence Honey said. She has returned to the New Regal Theater, a place she often came to as a little girl. Now, older, she loves it even more and plans to come back again and again.
The old Avalon Theater was renamed for the Regal Theater in the late 1980s. The original Regal Theater was located in the Bronzeville neighborhood where the Harold Washington Cultural Center now stands.