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Saturday, November 3, 2012

2 Investigators: Chicago Schools Flunk Food Inspections

If I recall correctly Bennett nor Shedd has a kitchen, but it would be nice to know which schools were inspected and flunked. Whatever the school in question that flunked inspections our students deserve better!
The Chicago Public Schools are constantly being scrutinized for improving test scores and academic standards.

But who’s watching to make sure the school’s kitchens and lunchrooms are being kept up to safety standards?

CBS 2’s Pam Zekman reports.

Since 2011, 244 of Chicago’s 681 schools failed at least one inspection, according to a review of city health department inspections by the 2 Investigators. That’s 35 percent with at least one failed inspection.

The Anton Dvorak Elementary School had the worst record. Since 2011, Dvorak has failed city health inspections six times for reasons such as no hot water in bathroom sinks, food kept at unsafe temperatures and more than 200 rodent droppings found in food service areas.
I'm glad that CPS has someone working on the problem. The next step is to talk about nutrition, of course!
[Leslie Fowler, executive director of Nutritional Support Services for CPS] says she will improve school lunches system-wide by making sure proper procedures are followed, implementing changes that will prevent future lapses and increasing oversight.

Her message to staff: “Don’t let me find out that a student is harmed at your hands. This is unacceptable. Not on my watch.”

All of the schools in this report eventually passed inspections, including most recently Hirsh, where the kitchen is now open and the staff replaced.
You know, I don't like to post reports like these. Not to associate stories like these to my old elementary school. This is just my way of keeping an eye using my various news sources to keep an eye on the school system as a whole. I would prefer to post more positive stories although there are certainly some negative stories to go around!

Hat-tip District 299 blog!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Brizard: Chicago schools need radical change

Jean-Claude Brizard
Jean-Claude Brizard wrote this editorial recently. Brizard had been the former CPS Chief Executive Office for 17 months before he had resigned earlier this month. He made some good points here:
I believe that with bold change, we can create a system that provides the competitive, world-class education that our students deserve.

In 2011, fewer than 24 percent of Chicago Public Schools graduates were prepared to attend a four-year college, and only 1 in 7 African-American students tested college-ready. While we made tremendous progress in less than two years, resulting in some historic gains, transformational change will require a radical redefinition of the district.

The bureaucracy of CPS, like most urban districts, has great inertia toward the comfortable. The fact is the public school district is an outdated model that is not flexible or responsive enough to serve the needs of all students. We must abandon the notion that a central administration can do it all and instead flip the pyramid, entrusting and empowering our principals and teachers to create great schools.

In order to break up the bureaucracy that often paralyzes, confuses or distracts schools, the central office must shift from a top-down division that dictates quality and practice for schools to a team that acknowledges that quality and effective practices lie within our schools. Central office's primary role must be to set high standards, and then codify and disseminate effective practices found within schools.
He is right to say, "Education is the great equalizer". I couldn't agree more!

Hat-tip District 299 blog!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ruggles Alumni fundraiser...

Ruggles School - 7831 S Prairie Ave

Lately I've been posting about what what other elementary schools are doing. There was a post about a library makeover at Neil School in the Chatham neighborhood. Then I find out about a fundraiser for a computer lab at Chatham's Ruggles School.

Now let's not get ahead of ourselves about Ruggles. Ruggles is a school that is said to have been on academic probation for many years according to some sources that I have in my capacity as a blogger for The Sixth Ward. Still it's great to know that school has an active alumni association. The Ruggles Alumni association is hosting a bowling fundraiser at a south suburban bowling alley on November 3, 2012 - refer to flyer below.

So while I do hope Bennett-Shedd gets a true library makeover like Neil got. Hopefully we can find out how Bennett-Shedd can have an active alumni association to make sure students at the lowest levels of our education system can truly be a step ahead.

BTW, even if you do consider yourself a Badger at heart perhaps you can help Ruggles raise money for their students and hopefully learn something from what their alumni seeks to do.

ALSO, I consider myself a Badger although it seems Bennett-Shedd has changed their mascot since I've left. They're either the Royals or the Lions, not sure. Surely someone knows the school's mascot!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jane A. Neil Reveals New Library

Neil School - located at 8555 South Michigan Avenue - recently got a new library but I only wish that Bennett/Shedd had some of these things in their libraries particularly the Barbara Ellis Media Center.
Jane A. Neil Elementary, in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago, is the recipient of a new state-of-the-art library, compliments of the Target School Library Makeover program and The Heart of America Foundation. The school also received a Target Meals for Minds food pantry designed to combat hunger and its impact on learning by providing monthly distributions of fresh produce and staple foods to students and their families. The pantry was provided in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

The new library features 2,000 new books, furniture, new carpet and shelves, and a complete technology upgrade, including new iPads. In addition, the program provided seven new books for each of the school’s 313 students to take home following the unveiling of the new library on Thursday, October 11.

“The new library and food pantry are amazing gifts for our school and our students,” said Tawane Knox, principal, Jane A. Neil Elementary. “Thanks to Target and The Heart of America Foundation, our students have the resources they need to feel inspired and ready to learn when they walk through our school doors.”
ALSO on that day 6th Ward Chicago (represening 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer) checked in at Neil School on foursquare. Even provided another quick snapshot at that school's library as you see below.

I wonder what it would take to get Target or any other philantropic group to send some money for a true library makeover at Bennett/Shedd. Well assuming that both schools still have their own library as Shedd the last time I attended school there has a very small and cramp library. Bennett School has what I would consider a more traditional library with more space.

Hat-tip Concerned Citizens of Chatham!

Friday, October 12, 2012

CEO Brizard is out after 17 months!

Former CPS CEO Brizard
I wonder what happened. Was he pressured out? I'm sure talking heads and others are speculating right now.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is leaving the job "by mutual agreement" with City Hall, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Mr. Brizard has already been replaced: Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former chief of the Cleveland school system, who has been serving as the Chicago Public Schools interim chief education officer for past six months, will take the $250,000-a-year job. "It was a mutual decision by the mayor and Jean-Claude," said Sarah Hamilton, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Mr. Brizard is just coming off a bruising battle with the Chicago Teachers Union, whose members walked out in the first strike in Chicago in a quarter-century. The seven-day strike ended Sept. 19.

Mr. Emanuel told the Sun-Times Thursday that questions about Mr. Brizard had become a "distraction . . . We had a mutual agreement (that the distraction was) not helpful."

A City Hall source tells the Sun-Times, "It just didn't work out. Both felt it was not the right fit. It needed to end.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

NBC Chicago: CPS Outlines Plan to Pay for New Teacher Contract

Courtesy of Education Nation:
The plan released on Friday doesn't include classroom cuts. Instead, savings and revenue identified to fund the first year of the contract, according to the district, include:
  • Operations: Reduce lunchroom costs and general fund subsidy ($11 million); Achieve additional procurement savings ($10 million) 
  • Administration: Delay or cancel filling vacant, non-teaching positions ($8 million); Additional administrative reductions, targeting savings from printer consolidation, limiting equipment purchases, subscriptions and professional memberships ($4 million)
  • Financial: Capitalize interest on FY12 bond sale ($13 million); Sell surplus properties ($15 million); Debt restructuring ($42 million).
The contract includes a new evaluation system and an agreement that some teachers can keep their jobs if schools close. It also includes an agreement on implementing a longer school day.
Salary increases amount to $103 million of the first year of the contract.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Did you know...

That a neighborhood near where Bennett School is located is an historic area?

[VIDEO] Our local ABC affiliate dropped by recently to do a story about a Pullman neighborhood house tour. Pullman is bounded from 103rd to 115th and Cottage Grove to Langley. It was home to a planned city that was home to workers of a factory that built luxury railroad cars. Here's more information on the tour and a link to find out more about Pullman.
This year's historic Pullman House Tour, the 39th, takes place October 13 and14, and costs $20 for adults, $17 for seniors.

When the first house tour took place in 1974, admission was $3.

For more information:
Ya know I wonder if there are still history fairs. When I was still in school some students participated, never did myself although this could be a good project. Of course it should be great for young people now because everything is digital with digital cameras and all that!

ALSO check out the image below from The Chicago Neighborhoods a logo for Pullman and here's a link to a brief description.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Education Nation: How Will Chicago Pay For Strike Deal?

From the Education Nation section of our local NBC affiliate:
How much will the new contract cost? Pay raises and hiring nearly 500 new teachers to implement the longer school day has a higher price tag -- as high as $295 million -- that some say could lead to higher property taxes.

The mayor, though, avoided specifics.

"We have other tough things to do," he told reporters. "I never denied that we did have tough things to do, but I can't sit here and say within the first five minutes of this contract being negotiated, that I could tell you exactly what's going to happen four or five months from now."

Chicago Public Schools said "all options are on the table" to make up for new money being spent. Teachers won a 3 percent raise in the first year followed by 2 percent raises in years two and three. The 2015 board must let the union know if it has the money for a fourth year 4 percent raise.

Teachers lost sick day payouts, severance adjustments and reduced layoff benefits. Ten holidays were reduced to eight.

Without pension relief, CPS could be looking at a deficit of up to $1 billion.

Emanuel reportedly is considering increases to the city's 68-cent-a-pack cigarette tax and the 9 percent amusement tax as a way to make up for the budget shortfall. His office has maintained he is not considering property tax hikes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

School started back today now to make up those last 7 school days

Scene outside of Harlan last Friday
School started back today after the strike that occurred the last seven school days from last Monday to this past Tuesday. Now to make up those missed days of school back!
CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said both sides have agreed to restore the days of class lost to the strike, but they have yet to agree on when.

No ideas of whether to add them to the end of the school year or to a vacation break have been discussed, she said.

“We haven’t agreed when, but the agreement is to restore them,” Carroll said.
I hope they resolve that soon!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Greater Chatham Alliance announcment: Free Dental Screenings

Here are some brief details about this event but refer to the flyer below
    • The Chicago Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures, Traveling Dental Bus is coming to Chatham: 
      September 1, 2012
      10 am - Noon
      8245 S. King Drive
      For school age children: 5-12
      Each child will receive a take home oral health bag with educational handouts and fun tips.

      Tuesday, August 14, 2012

      What our schools need? A few good men...

      I couldn't agree more! As I saw in another 60 Minutes story years ago, "where are the men?". Some statistics:
      Despite some inroads by men, teaching remains a female-dominated profession. This is especially true for younger children. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 2% of pre-K and kindergarten teachers and 18% of elementary and middle-school teachers are men.

      The situation is more balanced, but not evenly balanced, in secondary school, where 42% of teachers are men.
      There are three points to be made here, but I think the third one is key:
      Third, we especially need black male teachers in the classroom. As Education Secretary Arne Duncan has argued, "All of our students benefit from having a black male in the classroom. But particularly our young black males." Yet black males represent a mere 2% of the K-12 teaching workforce. If this were to change, we might begin to see better educational outcomes and life outcomes for young black males.
      That point is very important. Young Black males are struggling and they get into the most trouble. If only they saw someone who looked like them in the classroom and helping to build them up!

      Read the rest!

      Via Instapundit.

      ALSO, go back and read this post. One place among many to start recruiting Black male teachers.

      Tuesday, August 7, 2012

      ICE Theaters Community Day...

      Coming later this month at their locations in Chatham and Lawndale. ICE Theaters is holding this free family festival in conjunction with Black Pages International that features education, health & wellness, fitness, financial, business & economic development, and community empowerment resources, along with workshops, entertainment and $1 movies. Check out the flyer above for more information on this event.

      Don't forget about ICE Theaters Kids RULE Summer that continues this month. The last scheduled movie is Dr. Seuss' The Lorax!

      There are two albums at Concerned Citizen's of Chatham FB page that show scenes from the first two previous Community Day at ICE Theater's Chatham location.

      Wednesday, August 1, 2012

      "The Curators of Dixon School"

      Information on this short feature film had in fact been posted to the FB page for the The Sixth Ward blog. Basically it's about how administrators at a neighborhood public elementary school had a specific vision of how their school should look on the inside of their walls. More info below provided by the Art Institute's Gene Siskel Film Center as part of their 18th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival.
      2011, Pamela Sherrod Anderson, USA, 80 min.

      Public schools don’t have to be a minefield of metal detectors, minimal expectations, and mind-numbing routine. An alternative exists right here in Chicago, at the Dixon Elementary Public School in the Chatham neighborhood, where former principal Joan Crisler and her successor Sharon Dale have implemented the idea that art should be an integral part of the learning environment, with museum-quality works openly adorning the halls. The results, in terms of student performance and morale, have been spectacular, but, as this inspiring but pragmatic documentary demonstrates, there are no miracle solutions: Crisler’s protégé Carol Briggs has an uphill battle applying the same approach at another school, and recent budget cuts have left even the most successful programs vulnerable to the axe. HDCAM video. (MR) FF

      Director Pamela Sherrod Anderson will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

      EDIT: Forgot to note that the screenings for this film will take place on August 12th at 3 PM and August 16th at 6 PM at the Siskel Film Center located at 164 N. State Street. Click this link for info on how to get there!

      Wednesday, July 25, 2012

      2012 Seaway Bank Kidsfest

      It's coming this Saturday at the main branch of Seaway Bank & Trust located at 645 E. 87th Street. Refer to the flyer above. Expect special appearances from Elmo and Big Bird during the course of the day. Also there will be book bags, food, school supplies and prizes available while supplies last. Admissions & activities are open to the public and free. Also attendees will have the opportunity to open a Young Savers account for children with only a $5 deposit.

      Most of the information is provided by a press release from Seaway Bank's marketing department.

      Tuesday, July 10, 2012

      Kids RULE Summer 2012

      I'm quite late on this but if you live near the ICE Theaters Chatham 14 location, you can take advantage of the Kids RULE summer. These movies start at 10 AM and cost $2.50 Wednesday and Thursdays'. You can see Smurfs starting tomorrow!

      Hat-tip Concerned Citizens of Chatham!

      Monday, April 16, 2012

      John G. Shedd School Instagram filtered!

      I took this pic of Shedd School during the month of April and touched it up using Instagram. What is that anyway:
      Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it's as easy as pie. It's photo sharing, reinvented.
      Another aspect of Instagram:
      A distinctive feature confines photos to a square shape, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras.
      And this is why the above photo looks like it could've been shot years ago when it was shot this year and came from a cell phone camera!

      BTW, if you have any photographs from Bennett-Shedd to offer please do share it with me. My e-mail is in the sidebar!

      Friday, February 17, 2012

      Thunder Soul and musical education...

      [VIDEO] Thursday night I went to the local movie house (ICE Theaters-Chatham 14) to see a special Black History Month presentation of a documentary Thunder Soul. It's the story of a high school stage band that were able to accomplish so many accolades with their performances not only in this nation but around the world.

      The documentary started off with the original band members who had attended a Houston high school back in the 1970s and how they came together as well as talking about the man who brought them all together. "Prof" Johnson was a music teacher who definitely made an impact on his students and was able to write music around the popular style at the time.

      They talked about the genre of stage band music. How this band - Kashmere Stage Band - had essentially outperformed all the other stage band. In the words of one Kashmere band member those other bands were technically good, however, they didn't feel the music and had no soul. They did some things as performers much different than other similar bands of their era.

      Then they talked about the breakup of the band. Questions by officials at the Houston school board about how this band could afford to tour and then they just decided it was time to break it up instead of continuing to support such a good thing in a poor neighborhood high school. Ultimately in frustration Mr. Johnson just retired because they gave him a lot of grief for doing his job.

      Typically it's safe to say this blog isn't an always activist blog, but there was a point to be said in that last paragraph. "Prof" opined in this movie that anyone who wants to take music (or art) out of our schools should be fired. His point was when would be the next time any youngster would at least get a chance to play a musical instrument of any type.

      I had to think about my music teacher at Bennett-Shedd, her name was Ms. Burnett. I remember making fun of her because she wore sneakers to school one day. I had never seen that from a teacher and rarely did I expect back then any teacher would wear casual clothing to school.

      In any event, I'm sure my classmates in that era did the typical music thing listening to key songs and what not at the time. Unfortunately there isn't much that I remember of those times where we studied music. The only memorable material was all the notes and to arrange them on a musical staff.

      The point to be made here is what if students had the ability to touch a musical instrument at the time. Just to get an opportunity to play around with an instrument just to experiment with the idea of having any type of musical talent. If there were instruments at Bennett-Shedd there was only a piano that no students (unless they already had talent) ever played.

      Granted I'm sure it's a financial issue but can one really have musical education without allowing one student to play an instrument of some sort. It's OK to study musical notes and arranging them on a music staff, but one thing I never learned in school was to at least carry a note whether with a voice or an instrument.

      I'm giving credit to "Prof" Johnson he did it with his students back in the 1970s allowing them to perform as a band. Would today's music teachers on the elementary & secondary levels allow the young people to do it now?

      BTW, if you can find it go see Thunder Soul!