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Friday, January 31, 2014

Concerned Citizens of Chatham - Novel Idea: Let's Give Charters To Parochial Schools

Since I've already stated that education would still be a focus on this blog, here's a piece to read. Worlee Glover also writes for my other blog - The Sixth Ward. In addition he also maintains his own blog - Concerned Citizens of Chatham.

He mainly opines about the recent approval of 7 new charters schools. Then additionally offers his idea to offer charter school status to parochial schools.
The parochial or catholic school system has operated in the city of Chicago for more than a 100 years. It has been the only option in some communities and was the only alternative for some families who had poor performing Chicago Public Schools. Over the last several years with some Chicago Public Schools offering high performing schools such as Young, Payton, Jones, Brooks, etc it has made some catholic high schools pay model obsolete. Also, when Mr. Tim King, who attended the all boys school Mendel Catholic and was later the principal at the all boys school Hales Franciscan, opened Urban Prep it basically doomed the all boys school pay model.

The remaining schools high schools such as Leo, Mt. Carmel, Hales Franciscan and Gordon Tech , etc and the host of elementary schools should be offered the option to become charter schools. It makes sense because most of these schools out perform Chicago Public Schools and operate schools in areas where CPS has closed schools and in some cases could take over buildings that have been left vacant by the last round of school closures.

Ultimately, the master plan is to have a master education system administered through CPS and since we are almost halfway there why not finally put "children first" and provide proven, stable environments operated by proven operators versus having operators with questionable backgrounds come out of no where and payoff politicians to get taxpayers money,waste it and not serve our young people.
This makes sense I suppose, but this was said knowing that many are opposed to charter schools. Probably many are opposed to charter schools because of the organizations who got the charter and their ties to certain politicians.

For example, amongst those seven charters approved is a Concept Charter school to be located at 8522 S Lafayette has ties to Rev. Charles Jenkins who is the pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church owns the property where the school will be located. He also has ties to the Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel. The property Rev. Jenkins owns is referred to as The Legacy Project click the link for more information.

All the same I recognize that this idea could truly raise eyebrows amongst those who support public education. Besides Mayor Emanuel may be a proponent of charter schools, however, there are plenty of opponents of charters as well.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

School is back in session on Wednesday and weather updates

This is starting to feel like a ritual. We just did that the first full-week in January and just like at that time classes resume on Wednesday. The extended forecast still has cold temps through rest of the week but only in the teens and unfortunately more snow is expected.

Remember spring is just around the corner!

Monday, January 27, 2014

CPS schools will remain closed on Tuesday

Schools remain closed on Tuesday. You can recieve further updates via either CPS' FB page or CPS' Twitter account. In addition, you can call the 773.553.1000 for any further updates from CPS via recorded message.

As always there is an Accuweather widget at the top of the sidebar for your convenience. Feel free to use it to check out current conditions or visit the Accuweather website for weather forecasts.

Now just for the sake of talking some CPS closures news, I would like to share this Sun-Times article which discusses not only city Alderman who are unhappy with CPS plans to close schools in light of the weather emergency. They also discuss how people around the city are coping with the cold weather.

How are you coping with the cold weather so far?

Also 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale cancelled the community meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday night. Also Ald. Beale sent out an e-mail on warming centers througout the city. As always call 311 for information on warming centers!

Finally the Tribune has news on alternative programming for children while schools are closed during this "polar vortex".
The YMCA of Metro Chicago is providing “School’s Out Day’’ activities at five Chicago facilities today and Tuesday, according to spokeswoman Michelle Damico.

Kids will be doing interactive crafts, active physical group games, skits and drama and other fun activities from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the following locations:

McCormick Tribune: 1834 North Lawndale Ave.

High Ridge: 2424 W. Touhy Ave.

South Side: 6330 S. Stony Island Ave.

South Chicago: 3039 East 91st St.

Rauner Family: 2700 S. Western Ave.

Check back for updates.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

CPS schools are closed on Monday

The notice above was posted to the CPS FB page today. CPS schools will be closed on Monday due to the expected weather for tomorrow. Schools had been closed on January 6th & 7th due to the extreme cold weather.

If you seek any further updates you can use the number above 773.553.1000 or call CPS hotline at 773.553.3100. You can also follow CPS on FB and on Twitter to seek further updates!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Since the "polar vortex" weather is back

I originally posted this information over at The Sixth Ward on January 6, 2013 during the first "polar vortex" episode. So this information remains important. Please remember if you need transportation to or information on the nearest warming center call 311.

State Rep. Elgie Sims (District 34) provides some more resources with regards to the weather in a recent email
Please use the following resources to keep you safe and warm:
  • Keep warm Illinois
    • A website aimed at identifying warming centers around the state and other information necessary to assist with keeping warm during the cold months of the year.
  • Getting around Illinois
    • The website will provide residents and motorists with information regarding the status of our roads. 
  • ComED energy assistance
    • Customers are encouraged to notify ComED as quickly as possible if they experience an outage. 
    • Customers can text OUT to 26633 to report any outages and receive restoration information, or they can contact ComED by calling 1-800-EDISON-1.
And as always this:
Please check on elderly neighbors and make sure that you and any children under your care are sufficiently bundled up if you must go outside.  Please do not forget pets and keep them indoors during these extreme conditions.
Be careful out there everyone! Stay safe and warm!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tribune: Hyperlocal website EveryBlock to be resurrected
This was crossposted to The Sixth Ward late Wednesday night. Then as we go into early Thursday morning EveryBlock is now live! As a result there will be some changes to this place!

We wrote about them last month and as it turns out its return will come much sooner than at least I had thought. They were coming just had little idea when.
EveryBlock, the hyperlocal website shut down last February amid financial losses, is returning from internet limbo.

Comcast, which had seemingly pulled the plug on the neighborhood news site for good, is relaunching it Thursday in Chicago, hoping to reconnect with its users and revive its fortunes in the challenging hyperlocal space.

For nearly a year, the Chicago-based site has offered a static apology/eulogy to former users and the curious alike: “We’re sorry to report that EveryBlock has closed its doors.” Soon it will be crackling with blurbs about restaurant closings, building break-ins and community events, sating the need to know on a block-by-block basis, ending what executives are now calling a “hiatus.”

“It was extremely popular,” said Comcast spokesman Jack Segal.

“Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and each neighborhood is unique, and people want to know what is happening down the street.”

The site’s resurrection comes six years to the date of EveryBlock’s original launch, a propitious coincidence, according to Comcast executives.

Naperville native Adrian Holovaty founded EveryBlock in 2007 with the help of a $1.1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation designed to encourage the development of digital news. The website went live in January 2008 in Chicago, San Francisco and New York, eventually expanding to 19 markets.
Interesting ownership history in this article. EveryBlock was a startup and began I believe as the website In 2009 the site was acquired by NBC Universal and overseen by their property and then ultimately until finally that division shut EveryBlock down last February. Now Comcast - who owns all NBC properties - will now operate the site.

BTW, click the link to their website under the EveryBlock logo now it's to a teaser page. The last time I visited that site when it was initially announced that the site will be revived, there was still the noticed that the site was shut down.

In any event I look forward to bring back the Blotter page to this blog which contained the nifty EveryBlock widget. Hopefully they will consider bringing that tool back and it was much better than having a simple feed in the sidebar. In a post on their official blog where they initially introduced the widget there is a page for widget control which doesn't appear much different than the tease page, but hopefully that means the widget is back!

Hat-tip Curbed Chicago!

Monday, January 20, 2014

EVENT: Invitation to share input on Harlan High School

Disclosure I'm an alum of Harlan Community Academy and we've talked about this school a lot in the past. I've even attended some LSC meetings in the past and this update is a bit shocking, but then we want to consider the academic status of all of our local schools. It's hard to believe that Harlan has been on probation for 18 years though! I hope that Mrs. Banks-Pincham who wrote the information below and sent it to the community doesn't mind if I share her e-mail address at least.


"Harlan's Probationary Status"
Meeting January 22, 2014, at 5:30 PM
Office of Representative Elgie Sims
8658 S. Cottage Grove, Suite 404
(On the Cottage Grove side of the strip mall at 87th Street).
Make a commitment to bring Harlan out of this dilemma
Join Us!!!

Hello Everyone,

In an effort to place all of the surrounding community on the same page, you are invited to attend a meeting at the office of Representative Elgie Sims on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 5:30 PM, 8658 S. Cottage Grove, Suite 404. (On the Cottage Grove side of the strip mall at 87th Street).

There is great concern about the academic status of Harlan, having been on probationary status by CPS standards for eighteen (18) years. This has an enormous effect on our community's property values. There has been an "Interim Principal" at Harlan for the last eight (8) years. Harlan and the community deserve for our neighborhood school to have a regular, contract principal supported by CPS.

Because of Harlan's probationary status, the elected Local School Council only serves in an advisory capacity and has no authority over things that effect the school.

It is obvious that for 18 years Chicago Public Schools has not shown the commitment to bring Harlan out of this dilemma.

Other invitees to this meeting will be the administration for Harlan; Network Chief LaTonya McDade and Principal Reginald Evans. Aldermen who serve the catchment area (Wards 6, 9 and 21) within Harlan's boundaries are also invited.

Please RSVP as soon as possible by e-mail or phone. We look forward to your input.


Sharon Banks-Pincham
LSC Community Representative
Member, 34th Legislative District Education Committee
sherry8750 @

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chatham 14 is now Studio Movie Grill

Crossposted to The Sixth Ward on January 10, 2014

It's been an interesting period of transition for the Chatham 14. In October 2012, the original operating company ICE Theaters had been evicted and the location was closed for a week before a new company - F & F Management - was brought in by new owner Michael Silver to operate the Chatham. Then all screens were upgraded for digital and 3D exhibition during the Spring of 2013 and now another piece of news.

According to DNA Info Chatham 14 now has new owners - Studio Movie Grill or SMG. While some of the many changes to the Chatham were noted in the DNA Info article here are some more details on the changes to come and how the many employees of the Chatham will be affected:
  1. Chatham 14 theaters are 100% owned by SMG with Mr. Michael Silver having no ownership interest in this entity.
  2. S&S Management is running the theaters day to day operations until 2/2/14 when their contract expires.
  3. All janitorial, snow removal, HVAC contracts currently maintained by African American vendors will stay in tact.
  4. African American vendors are being identified for the renovation work.
  5. There WILL NOT be a Sports Bar located within the theater but a bar area that will be a part of the fast casual restaurant that will be located in the lobby.
  6. All employees have jobs until the proposed renovations are completed and the new business officially opens. They will have the opportunity to apply for the new jobs as their roles will change under the new concept.
Also, You may have heard about them before. They were the subject of ABC 7's program 190 North and you can see the video below. SMG is based out of Dallas, Texas and the closest location to us is in Wheaton, Illinois.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Shedd School a satellite location for Chicago State...

Shedd School in Spring 2012
Back in September I wrote about my ideas about what to do with the closed Shedd School building. As of the current school year Shedd branch was closed and all students will be attending class at Bennett School.

A persistent report from the Roseland Heights Community Association (RHCA) was that Shedd School could ultimately become an annex for the nearby Chicago State University. So at least plans are being made to utilize this building, but I do need to ask some questions so I may have to get back to the RHCA about them.

For example will Chicago State own the building or will it remain a CPS owned property?

A question that no one could possibly answer is whether or not in the near future could Shedd School be used for the neighborhood children if enrollment changes for the better. That is if Bennett School exceeds their expected enrollment (and as stated in that earlier post Bennett School had been experiencing enrollment declines) could it re-open for students.

All the same stay tuned for any updates on this development.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

CPS schools back in session on Wednesday

Well, it appears the two day extended vacation is over for CPS students. And perhaps the weather is starting to get better!

Message again via the CPS FB page where if you connect with them there will be updates on what's going on at CPS.

Monday, January 6, 2014

CPS school will be closed on Tuesday also...

Click for better resolution
You may have seen this posted at Chicago Public School FB page. It looks like CPS students get a two day extension of their Christmas holidays this year. And as always stay safe and warm. Be sure to check the information posted earlier with regards to those services available to you during this cold snap!

It's wintertime on the south side...

Cross-posted from The Sixth Ward and hopefully if you read this blog this information will be valuable to you as well!

Well we knew the winter weather was coming and hopefully many of us prepared for it. We got our salt and shovels ready for example in addition to putting fuel in our vehicles and buying extra food.

We also hope you fare well in your homes because if you're not there's a city warming center where you can stay warm until the cold snap ends. Please call 311, and we're sure they'll provide a ride if you're not able to get to one very easily.

Also, in light of the low temperatures expected on both Monday and Tuesday it appears CPS students will have their holiday break extended by one day. CPS has cancelled classes on Monday in light of the weather. On Saturday a report from the Tribune indicated that CPS were asking parents to use their discretion as to whether or not they want to send their children to school which were expected to be in session on Monday and Tuesday.

AGAIN call the CPS hotline if you have any questions (773) 553-3100

All the same here's hoping you stay safe and warm these next few days. Let's remember that Spring is almost two months away!

ALSO, we do have a weather widget in the sidebar so whenever you check this blog you will have an idea of the weather. For the time being it will be placed into the sidebar!

9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale has sent an email about city warming centers in the city.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tribune: Chicago schools to stay open during cold snap

UPDATE 1/5/2013 5:40 PM According a report by the Chicago Sun-Times media wire the Chicago Public Schools has cancelled classes on Monday. Please continue reading this post for the CPS Hotline at the end.

UPDATE 12:25 AM Forgot to post a link. My apologies!

What you see above I have on my ABC7 app for my mobile device. The temps you see for Monday & Tuesday are expected to get that low and CPS made the following advisory according to the Chicago Tribune:
Chicago Public Schools are leaving it up to parents to decide whether their children should go to school when wind chills drop to 50 degrees below zero or colder next week. Meanwhile, some suburban school districts expect to decide Sunday whether to stay open.

All Chicago Board of Education schools are scheduled to be open Monday and Tuesday, when highs are barely expected to reach zero degrees, according to a release from CPS.

"While all District schools are slated to be open on Monday, I strongly encourage parents to use their own discretion in deciding whether to send their children to school," schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in the release. "We will be working throughout the weekend to ensure that our buildings and school officiails are ready to receive students on Monday."

Building engineers were to head into city schools on Sunday to turn up heat to standard classroom temperatures in preparation for children going to school Monday, according to CPS. If heating systems are malfunctioning, CPS will take students to alternate sites.

The contractors who run the CPS bus system are checking their vehicles to make certain they will be ready to arrive on-time Monday.
Parents can call CPS hotline if they have any questions: (773) 553-3100.

BTW, there is an accuweather widget on this blog if you want to keep getting updates on weather, especially updates for the weather on the days in question.