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April 2007

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April 04, 2007

A Charter Victory -- Sort Of

what are binary options As you can see from Juan Rangel's email below, there's joy in charter-land that the bill that would have banned charter clones didn't pass the House, but I'm not sure that defeating that legislation is the same as winning on the charter front. 

As it stands, there's no room for new operators and ideas on the charter front.  Not every clone-able charter wants to replicate.  Not every  charter-curious educator wants to start a clone. Meanwhile, the charter cap in New York City was lifted by the state legislature there.   

Continue reading "A Charter Victory -- Sort Of" »

Ramos Passes Muster, Sort Of

Tom_ramos_curie_hs_lsc binary option malaysia Kudos to the Sun Times' Rosalind Rossi for getting to the news that Curie LSC chair Tom Ramos has passed one of the hurdles he faces (Controversial local school council member gets OK).  However, my understanding is that even if Ramos had been disqualified as an LSC member (or is found guilty of bribery), it wouldn't have nullified the LSC vote in February to nonrenew Principal Moore.  (And, BTW, Moore is not the only sitting principal who's not been renewed, and is appealing that decision.  Anyone know who the others are?)

Wednesday AM News: School council member OK, Jazz pianist visits CPS, Achievement scholarships, School tax increase

Controversial local school council member gets OK Sun Times
Thomas Ramos is eligible to serve as a parent member of the Curie local school council that dumped principal Jerryelyn Jones even though he doesn't have a child at Curie, officials said Tuesday.

Key to success: Practice Tribune
Acclaimed jazz pianist George Duke was barely into his first song Tuesday when the students in the Rich South High School auditorium started bopping their heads, tapping their feet and voicing approval of his sound.

Black students win Achievement scholarships Sun Times
Here is a list of area winners in the National Achievement Scholarship Program. These outstanding black American students will receive scholarships funded by more than 50 corporate organizations and professional associations, and by National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

West Aurora schools seek tax increase Tribune
Residents of West Aurora School District 129 will be asked April 17 to approve a 50 cent tax-rate increase to address student growth and struggling finances.

April 03, 2007

LSC Update: Curie, Lawrence, Etc.

Header_oscr If anyone has additional news or perspectives on the Curie and Lawrence situations, post them here.  Last I heard, there was a meeting at Curie that never happened, and maybe another one Wednesday, but the arbitration date hadn't been set.  As for Lawrence, there was something about a 911 call and a gun but then I lost track.  What's the latest?

The Gentrification Myth, Part 2

what is binary trading In January, I posted about how, contrary to conventional wisdom, neighborhood gentrification doesn't always result in an easy path towards improvement, and in fact sometimes leads to a deterioration at least in the short term.  It seems like that's what's happening in this Seattle neighborhood, too: 

"Some parents, even before their own children were old enough for Madrona, had tried to improve the school," according to this Seattle Times article (Race, class splinter Madrona School).  "That left some parents with children already at the school bristling at the suggestion that somehow it wasn't good enough."

AMPS Offers Business Consulting Services

While CPS is trying to sort out its payroll and software problems (see below), AMPS is offering financial services to eligible schools -- part-time help for newbies and others from an "experienced business manager."  I don't know if anyone's using this or if it even sounds like a good idea, but I haven't done my taxes yet so sign me up -- and keep sending me emails and memos that you get so I can share them with everyone.  (alexanderrusso at gmail.com)

Continue reading "AMPS Offers Business Consulting Services" »

City on the Make

"For all the new fans I've picked up since I started blogging about Big Picture, here's a new blog for you to hear about city and school skulduggery," writes Maritza in New Blog: City on the Make. "The second most recent post is an interesting and plausible theory about the LSC president at Curie High School, which has been in the news lately over the LSC's decision not to renew the principal's contract."

Nitty Gritty Bus Tours

Header_gradient_allOn Saturday, April 21st the Nitty Gritty Bus Tours for high school journalists will be heading out to Chicago's westside neighborhoods with journalist Kari Lydersen. There is still room for alternate participants. Those interested can contact Demetrio Maguigad at 312-344-7499 or email demetrio@newstips.org.

Nitty Gritty Bus Tour-for High School Journalists (Calendar - 2007 Nitty Gritty Bus Tours.).  Providing young reporters' background to enrich their point of view and provide story ideas from Chicago's communities.

Tuesday AM News: A parents' helping hand, Principal's leadership, Nominees sought

It can be hard to do homework on your own when parents are hovering Tribune
It's the day of the science fair, and everyone is setting up his or her display. Some kids tested acid rain by pouring vinegar on plants. Other kids grew mold on bread. And you? You built a small engine and tested whether ethanol is better than gasoline. Looks like someone had serious help. Some kids have mothers or fathers who just won't back off when it comes to homework. What's a kid to do?

Principal led school through shooting Sun TImes
Barbara Palmer had been principal of Thornridge High School in Dolton for only a few weeks in 1986 when a 14-year-old student stood up in class one day and shot his math teacher.

Nominees sought for teaching award Naperville Sun
The Illinois State Board of Education is accepting nominations for the annual Illinois History Teacher of the Year award. The award honors experienced teachers who are dedicated to sharing with students an understanding of America's past.

Posting Checks Online

According to Peyton Wolcott's  National School District Honor Roll, four Illinois school districts now post checks online to promote transparency.  They are Carpentersville CSD 300, Elgin U-46, Huntley CUSD 158, and Naperville CUSD 203.  Congrats to them, and I'm not holding my breath for CPS to do this. 

April 02, 2007

April Renaissance 2010 Report

It's time for the April Ren10 Report, including a reminder about a UNO groundbreaking on April 9th, the new schools RFP release on the 11th, a Renaissance Fund series, and updates on various legislative items (the ban on virtual charters, the charter cloning bill), and lots of individual school updates.  Go, Ren10.

Continue reading "April Renaissance 2010 Report" »

Salary Snafu At CPS

Several commenters on this site have pointed out that, in a little-needed April Fool, people may not be getting their checks (or in the right amounts) from CPS due to a change to a new software system.  Are folks not getting any checks, or not in the right amounts, or is it more about the deductions and other calculations?  Write here and tell us what you know -- how it worked before, and how it's (not) working now. I'll try and find out how widespread the problem is, and what the timeframe for solving it is.

Tax Swap Update, Plus More

Tax swap proposal is back on table Income-tax hike would fund schools Tribune
House lawmakers resurrected a plan Thursday to raise the state income tax to funnel billions of dollars into public schools and cut property taxes, offering a competing plan to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's tax hike plan.

Tax Swap Bill Goes to Illinois House WBEZ
The political maneuvering on taxes and education funding in  is getting more intense. On Thursday, an Illinois House committee approved a bill that would raise more money for schools---by promising property tax relief in exchange for higher sales and income taxes.

Body of a young man found Sun Times
The body of a young man was discovered Friday night along a stretch of the Cal-Sag Channel in Blue Island, and investigators were trying to determine whether he was the Whitney Young Magnet High School student reported missing a week ago, authorities said.

Closings, But Fewer Of Them

ClosingclosedCity will close one school, give an overhaul to second Tribune
Chicago Public Schools officials announced Friday that they will close one North Side elementary school and turn over a South Side grade school to a private management company that plans to fill it with highly qualified teachers.

Summer rebirth slated for lowest-scoring school Sun Times
Saddled with the worst four-year test score average in Chicago, Harvard Elementary will be handed over to a not-for-profit company and will reopen this fall with the same kids but a new staff under a summer "turnaround" plan announced Friday.

Chicago Scales Back School Closings WBEZ
Chicago Public Schools wants to close down only one underperforming school this June. The move is a step away from the more aggressive school closings policy pushed by the district in recent years.

April 01, 2007

Best Of The Week (March 26 - April 1)

(The Week Before) Spring Break (27 comments so far)
What are you going to do during the break (which lasts until the 9th of April and is just a week before the end of the marking period)?

One Conversion, One Closure
The Board announced that it was converting one school (like with Sherman) and closing another, as in the past. LeMoyne is the closing, Harvard is the  turnaround.  Both need to be approved.

Cloning Bill Fails, Funding Bills Compete
HB466, the bill to ban "cloning" of charter schools, has just failed. Meanwhile, Catalyst has a new story up about how there are some new wrinkles in the school funding debate.

Journalists' Roundtable: The Month In Review (13 comments so far)
Borrowing liberally from WBEZ's "Month In Review" format, here's a journalists' roundtable in audio form featuring Stephanie Banchero from the Tribune, Jay Field from WBEZ, and Veronica Anderson from Catalyst Magazine.  Check it out.

PURE Blogging (47 comments so far)
Pure_bar"Welcome to PURE’s new blog, PURE Thoughts!"   

Cloning Bill Fails, Funding Bills Compete (41 comments so far)
I'm told that HB466, the bill to ban "cloning" of charter schools, has just failed, and that you can check out how folks voted. Meanwhile, Catalyst has a new story up about how there are some new wrinkles in the school funding debate:

Who Talked At The Board Meeting (14 comments so far)
Here's the public participation list from yesterday's Board meeting, thanks to the good folks at the CPS communications department and the Board secretary's office.

New Schools Like Frazier Send Out Acceptances (5 comments so far)
Apparently some new school acceptance letters are starting to arrive, and may be creating some confusion.

Is The May 1 AYP Enrollment Cutoff Date Justifiable? (4 comments so far)
There's a short WBEZ segment on ISBE's AYP-avoiding date change (Educators Defend New Testing Policy) that includes CPS's Xavier Botana (formerly of ISBE) saying -- seriously -- that schools won't ignore kids just because their scores aren't going to be part of AYP.

Breaking News:

*Educators Defend New Testing Policy WBEZ
*Pressure on school councils hit translators, training sought for members Tribune
*CPS expects to cut 270 teachers Sun Times
*College Board toughens rules for AP, audit aims to stop course proliferation Tribune

March 30, 2007

Journalists' Roundtable: The Month In Review

Borrowing liberally from WBEZ's "Month In Review" format, here's a journalists' roundtable in audio form featuring Stephanie Banchero from the Tribune, Jay Field from WBEZ, and Veronica Anderson from Catalyst Magazine.  Check it out.  The sound quality isn't great (it's a blog, what do you expect?), and my hosting is embarrassingly amateurish, but we talk about what the biggest stories of the month were, what was over- and under-reported, winners and losers of the month, and what's next in April.  I, for one, learned some things.  But that's not unusual.  Click the "play" button below and it should start right up.

One Conversion, One Closure

Before I forget, the Board announced that it was converting one school (like with Sherman) and closing another, as in the past.  LeMoyne is the closing, Harvard is the  turnaround.  Both need to be approved.  See the CPS press clip for more details.  More to come.   

Continue reading "One Conversion, One Closure" »

Real Men Read "The Pursuit Of Happyness"

Pursuit_of_happynessFrom CPS: "Chris Gardner discusses his “Pursuit of Happyness” with 600 CPS High School Students as part of Real Men Read speaker series.

WHO: Rufus Williams, Chicago Board of Education President Chris Gardner, Author and CEO of Gardner Rich & Company 600 high school students from eight Achievement Academies
WHAT: An informal discussion about the issues young people face today WHEN: Friday, March 30 Discussion – 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Chris Gardner/Rufus Williams media availability – 2:45 p.m.
WHERE: Crane High School 2245 West Jackson Boulevard

Chris Gardner, founder of Gardner Rich, LLC, will read excerpts from his book, “The Pursuit of Happyness” and discuss a variety of topics with students from Chicago Public Schools Achievement Academies: Chicago Vocational Career Academy, Clemente, Crane, Englewood, Fenger, Robeson, Senn and Tilden High Schools.

News From Elsewhere

Twie Wondering what's going on outside Chicago?  Over at This Week In Education, there are several posts you might be interested in, including a post about how much Master's degrees cost (The $8.5 Billion Master's Degree), and a post about how Obama is taking over all the think tanks in DC (More Obama-CAP Connections).  Check it out. 

Friday AM News: Tax swap, Student loans, Township legislation, Aurora ISAT, Group discusses Curie

Tax swap proposal is back on table, income-tax hike would fund schools Tribune
House lawmakers resurrected a plan Thursday to raise the state income tax to funnel billions of dollars into public schools and cut property taxes, offering a competing plan to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's tax hike plan.

Need a student loan? State might help those who stay Sun Times
Illinois college students could save thousands of dollars in student loan costs under a program being proposed today by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

Schools can cut ties with township legislation is step toward abolishing Cicero office Tribune
The Illinois General Assembly has approved legislation allowing Berwyn and Cicero to opt out of the office of Cicero Township Trustees of Schools.

School scores ISAT success Aurora elementary credits improvement to hard work, focus Tribune
One predominantly Latino Aurora elementary school was clearly disappointed last year when only about half of its pupils received passing grades on the 2005 Illinois Standards Achievement Test.
But officials at Lincoln Elementary rallied, introducing a range of new programs the next academic year.

Group Meets To Discuss Curie H.S. LSC Southwest News Herald
Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) held a press conference Tuesday at Gage Park High School to discuss LSCs and Curie High School LSC members allegedly being harassed over the phone by Chicago Public Schools investigators.


Children of the Incarcerated Event April 13

Incarcerated_logo From CRS: "The Community Renewal Society and The Woods Fund of Chicago invites you to the launch of Community Renewal's Children of the Incarcerated campaign. Featuring Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones Jr., this event will address a critical issue affecting families and communities throughout our region. You can register at www.communityrenewalsociety.org .

"The complimentary breakfast program will be held on Friday, April 13, 2007 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Building, 12 East Erie, in Chicago.

Continue reading "Children of the Incarcerated Event April 13" »

New Schools Like Frazier Send Out Acceptances

Apparently some new school acceptance letters are starting to arrive, and may be creating some confusion.  Writes one parent: "Just got an acceptance from Frazier. Application was due a few weeks ago. But it seems that, as a non-selective enrollment school, and being in the area it's in, it's going to be a rocky road for the first few years. What's the difference between the Frazier IB and Frazier Prep?"

As you may recall from last November, the 2 new Fraziers were approved by the Board (click below for descriptions).  Can you help her out in terms of the area, the non-selective issue, and the differences?

Continue reading "New Schools Like Frazier Send Out Acceptances" »

March 29, 2007

AFT Blog Makes Fun Of Illinois AYP Cutoff

The May 1 cutoff for AYP eligibility (see below) seems so ridiculous that even the AFT blog is making fun of it:  "Assessments for transient students is a real issue," states the blog (AFT Blog), citing the fact that 100 percent of reading and math scores at 22 Illinois schools weren't counted because of the provision, "but this is not the way to fix NCLB."

Cloning Bill Fails, Funding Bills Compete

I'm told that HB466, the bill to ban "cloning" of charter schools, has just failed, and that you can check out how folks voted here (PDF).

Meanwhile, Catalyst has a new story up about how there are some new wrinkles in the school funding debate: A green light for school funding plan. "Legislators have yet to vote on the governor’s plan to raise more money for schools, but a competing proposal has taken a step forward."

"Charter Public Schools: A Chance for Success"

Link: YouTube - Charter Public Schools: A Chance for Success.

Screening Services, Egg Hunts, and Summer Camp Signup

The CPS “Child Find” developmental screening program offers free 20-minute screenings at 12 locations around the city. This is a year-round (except on CPS holidays), walk-in service for parents who have a concern about the development of their young children (up to age 5). Here is a list of locations and times in Spanish and English.

Get ready for the Chicago Park District’s Summer Camp registration. Online registration begins April 16th, but you can view programs online starting April 2nd. FAQs are here.

Also, don't forget the Wiggly Wabbit Egg Hunt at the Lincoln  Park Cultural Center. Noon-2 p.m. Saturday. Families. Free. 2045 N. Lincoln Park West. (312) 742-7726,  www.chicagoparkdistrict.com. There's also Dino Discovery Days at The Field Museum 11 a.m.-2 p.m., March 31-April 1.

Happy Spring Break!

More Thursday News & Opinion

What do parents and kids know? Tribune (editorial)
No one makes a better argument for why charter schools should exist than the very person who leads the state in opposing them.

Whitney Young student disappears Sun TImes
The youngest of six children of Guatemalan immigrants, Whitney Young Magnet High School senior Christopher Pineda was only about two months away from becoming the first person in his family to graduate.

Who Talked At The Board Meeting

Here's the public participation list from yesterday's Board meeting: Public_participation (PDF), thanks to the good folks at the CPS communications department and the Board secretary's office.  Click in the comments section in the previous post below for a rundown from George about who said what, and how long it took. 

Is The May 1 AYP Enrollment Cutoff Date Justifiable?

There's a short WBEZ segment on ISBE's AYP-avoiding date change (Educators Defend New Testing Policy) that includes CPS's Xavier Botana (formerly of ISBE) saying -- seriously -- that schools won't ignore kids just because their scores aren't going to be part of AYP.  Hmm.  If that were true, we wouldn't have to have forced schools to report subgroup achievement gaps, or made them test 95 percent of their students, or include ELL or SPED kids. 

Granted, NCLB testing creates other problems -- schools focusing on 2nd quartile (bubble) kids, for example -- but the May 1 cutoff date (which may be the earliest in the nation) seems pretty indefensible.  For his or her scores to be included in the 2008 AYP results, a kid has to be enrolled within the next month or so.

Thursday AM News: Pressure for translators, Thank a teacher, Westinghouse High, Girls arrested, Defending testing

Pressure on school councils hit translators, training sought for members Tribune
A group of community activists called Tuesday for Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago school officials to "stop the assault" on local school councils and, instead, offer the elected bodies training and support to run their schools effectively.

If you can read this, thank a teacher Tribune (voice of the people)
There is no nobler profession than teaching, nor one that is more demanding. It is often described as "the agony and the ecstasy." Why? Because there are such highs and lows. But when that one student sees the light and his or her face lights up, you know you've made a difference.

Westinghouse High to cost $103 million Sun Times
The cost of building a new Westinghouse High School has skyrocketed, to nearly $103 million, far beyond the $63 million for Little Village High, according to plans approved Wednesday by Chicago School Board members.

9 Girls Arrested After Fight At Chicago High School NBC5.com
Nine female students got into a fight at Dunbar High School on Wednesday and were arrested for misdemeanor mob action, authorities said.

Educators Defend New Testing Policy WBEZ
Fewer Illinois schools are on the federal list of failing schools. Their test scores got help from a change in state policy that allowed schools to leave out the scores of transfer students.