What a Weekend for CPS News

18 Feb


I’ve made a pledge not to overdo this blog by spending my whole weekend updating it, but this weekend it was tough.  There were so many big stories and even some that were hopeful rather than depressing.   I try not to dwell too much on the negative, but I also feel I have an obligation to try and get the truth out there.  If you haven’t heard the This American Life episode about Harper High School, do yourself a favor and listen.  This is part one of a two part story and the way it explains gangs in modern Chicago really hits home and shows why the current closings will spell disaster for so many of the city’s children.

I just learned of a walkout of 250,000 students in CPS over segregation and inequitable resources.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This American Life (Harper High School)

“We spent five months at Harper High School in Chicago, where last year alone 29 current and recent students were shot. 29. We went to get a sense of what it means to live in the midst of all this gun violence, how teens and adults navigate a world of funerals and Homecoming dances. We found so many incredible and surprising stories, this show is a two-parter; Part One airs this week, Part Two is next week.”

250,000 Students Boycott Chicago Schools on this Day in 1963

“The early 1960s proved to be a turbulent time for African Americans due to the racist policies that limited their potential. One collective of voices that deserves more than a casual mention is Chicago’s “Freedom Day,” a protest involving thousands of Black students who demonstrated against segregation — and a lack of resources — in 1963.”

Change Oriented Leaders Change Locations

“No sooner had Chicago learned that Jennifer Cheatham was moving to Madison, Wisconsin, where she will become superintendent there, than the news began trickling out that other CPS administrators were also on the run — or at least looking for jobs in other climates. Cheatham had briefly (five years) hung around the nation’s third largest school system in various top dog jobs (most recently as our “Chief Instruction Officer”) doing quick change acts and perfecting a Power Point dance. Her last turn on stage was at the January 23, 2013, meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, where she schooled the seven members of the Board (only six were there) about how the “school calendar” had been finalized after lots of listening and all that other good stuff CPS has trained its fancy dancers to do when on the Big Stage.”

CPS Could Be Sued for Lack of Black History

State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) is urging a community group to file a lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools for not complying with a 22-year-old state law that requires all public elementary and high schools to include black history as part of its regular curriculum.

The Exhaustion of the Longest School Day

“My students don’t spend the “Full School Day” with creative learning, enrichment, or exercise.  Instead, they spend a longer day in a classroom with substitutes, waiting in line to “play” at recess, being bombarded with data, all the while struggling to interact with their peers.  They are spending a longer day in a classroom where the windows don’t open, the heat doesn’t work, paint is falling off the ceiling in dangerous chunks, and where there is not adequate technology.  My students are exhausted, frustrated, and are having more behavior problems, because of the “Full School Day.”
“After twenty years of sending academically gifted but untrained college graduates into the nation’s toughest schools, the evidence regarding TFA corps member effectiveness is in, and it is decidedly mixed. Professors of education Julian Vasquez Heilig and Su Jin Jez, in the most thorough survey of such research yet, found that TFA corps members tend to perform equal to teachers in similar situations—that is, they do as well as new teachers lacking formal training assigned to impoverished schools. Sometimes they do better, particularly in math instruction. Yet “the students of novice TFA teachers perform significantly less well,” Vasquez Heilig and Jin Jez discovered, “than those of credentialed beginning teachers.” It seems clear that TFA’s vaunted thirty-day summer institute—TFA “boot camp”—is no replacement for the preparation given future teachers at traditional colleges of education.”
“Charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and widely promoted as open to all. But Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law.”

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