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Monday, August 26, 2019

Could we see a teacher's strike this year?

[VIDEO] I've been reading the headlines about this for a while, we just elected a new mayor back in April and we might get a strike just before students go back to school. This even caught the attention of Rich Miller at Capitol Fax who posted about this on his blog. Obviously while this is mostly local this is an important situation developing in the state.
What you see above is a video from CBS 2 which shows CTU's response to an independent fact-finder report. It appears they're not happy with the report and are unhappy with what's not mentioned. It make sense to talk about social workers or even the special education teachers also.

Also we see Mayor Lightfoot's response from the Sun-Times [VIDEO]

Friday, August 23, 2019

CPS dropout rate at an all-time low....

According to this recent Sun-Times article:
A smaller percentage of Chicago high school students dropped out last year than ever before, the city announced Thursday.

The all-time low 6% dropout rate touted by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson happened during the 2018-19 school year, under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration. Students last year dropped out of school at almost half the rate they did in 2011.

“Through expanding access to rigorous academic programs, increasing staffing to support student needs and magnifying our focus on equity, social and emotional learning and restorative justice, CPS is keeping more students in the classroom year after year and creating strong, student-centered schools in every neighborhood across the city,” Jackson said in a press release.

Lightfoot attributed the lower rates — down .4% from last year’s 6.4% — to teachers and staff members “transforming the lives of our young people.”
I think the public would like to hear the examples of the exemplary work of CPS teachers and staff with regards to the young people at CPS.

On the other hand this was from back in March of this year:
But a WBEZ analysis found some troubling trends behind those improved numbers. Significantly fewer black boys — 2,600 fewer — are starting as freshmen now than five years ago. And an increasing number of graduates are getting their degrees from alternative second-chance schools, which are less demanding than traditional schools, but count toward the graduation rate.

Finally, there is an increase in the number of black boys who transfer out or die after starting as freshman in CPS. Black male high school students die at a higher rate than any other student racial and gender demographic group, according to CPS data.

After accounting for all these factors, just 48 percent boys at CPS ultimately earned a diploma from a traditional or charter Chicago high school in 2018. That’s only a six percentage point improvement from five years ago.

Experts say school district officials should be paying attention to trends behind the numbers.

Keisha Davis-Johnson is executive director of the Greater West Town Community Development Project, which runs an alternative school and a jobs training program that mostly serves men. She sees no reason to celebrate.

“We have a lot of work to do with our young people,” Davis-Johnson said.

She said she still sees many young men who have gone to under-resourced elementary schools, who struggle with the basics and feel disconnected from school.
So as far as the lower dropout rate, how many of them are Black males? 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

#tbt Decision at 83rd Street

[VIDEO] Last year at The Sixth Ward I posted this above video from a YouTube channel that refers to itself as Fuzzy Memories - which mostly posts old footage from Chicago TV stations. This documentary is 57 years old and illustrates the racial change that took place in the city during the 1960s.

On this blog and at The Sixth Ward I've showed a number of old pics of how various neighborhoods on the south side used to look like. As happens over time buildings are torn down, schools or churches close down, a streetscape looks vastly different from what it was decades ago. Or indeed looking at aspects of our transportation infrastructure which is vastly different from what we know about today.
Marynook on a map

In this case, WBBM-TV (or we can call them CBS 2 today) took a look at the racial change taking place in the Marynook area (which is the area between 87th and 83rd Streets north to south and the IC railroad tracks to Dorchester west to east. At issue here is the implications of the integration taking place and we hear a lot about things we associate with "white flight". We hear about "block busting" where unscrupulous real estate agents urge white homeowners to sell before the racial change of the neighborhood causes the value of their homes to depreciate.

These days Marynook is mostly Black, however, the character of that area is still basically middle class. It's often gotten attention for its mid-century architecture and could often be describes as a neighborhood that could resemble a suburban area.

BTW, as a side note I'm glad Fuzzy Memories is back. They were down for a while since YouTube tends to take down channels that are found to be uploading copyrighted materials. I've gotten away from following their channel in recent years, however, it's time to start back. It's fascinating what people saw on their TV years before I was even born. 

The Chicago Neighborhoods

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

WBEZ: 5 Things To Know About Chicago Public Schools’ Budget

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson heralded the new mayor’s first proposed budget for the school district earlier this month with great fanfare. But a WBEZ analysis shows the good news comes with some caveats, and it includes some bad news.

The public can weigh in on the $7.7 billion budget at two hearings — one at 4 p.m. and the other at 6:30 p.m. — on Tuesday at CPS headquarters, 42 W. Madison St.

Then, on Thursday, there will be three simultaneous hearings at 6 p.m. on the money CPS wants to use to repair schools and invest in early childhood programs. The hearings are at Morgan Park High School, 1744 W. Pryor Ave; Whitney Young High School, 211 S. Laflin St; and Amundsen High School, 5110 N. Damen Ave.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

#tbt Riding Amtrak through the south side

Back in 2014, I took a quick trip during the holiday season to Memphis, Tennessee aboard Amtrak's City of New Orleans train and shot video on my iPhone. Luckily I got footage during the morning hours as we rolled through the south side back to Union Station downtown.

I had uploaded these videos to my YouTube channel and granted it's not the most exciting footage, however, how many people have seen the Roseland and Rosemoor area from this perspective. As we head into the heat of the summer, perhaps some winter scenery will help cool you down.

Here's footage of the train rolling through Roseland starting at 115th Street. [VIDEO]
Here's another shot from going through Rosemoor going past 103rd Street and we see the campus of Chicago State University [VIDEO]
Oh yeah we talked about Amtrak earlier this month!

Monday, August 5, 2019

WBEZ: Hundreds Of Chicago Schools Go Without Teachers And Subs — Mostly In Schools Serving Black Students

For right now we hit the education beat:
This is the stark reality in Chicago Public Schools. Last school year, almost a third of 520 district-run schools — 152 — had at least one regular education or special education teacher position open all year long, a WBEZ analysis shows.

The problem is most acute at schools serving low-income and black students. They are twice as likely as all other schools to have a yearlong teacher vacancy. Chicago’s 28 schools with majority white student populations had no yearlong vacancies.

And making matters worse CPS also has a severe substitute teacher shortage, a WBEZ analysis shows. At 62 schools, half the time a teacher was absent no substitute showed up.
Chicago Public School officials acknowledge the problems filling substitute requests and teacher vacancies. They also note that just because there’s a vacancy doesn’t mean students miss instruction. Principals will usually make sure students get some work and they will do their best to work with the teachers they have, officials say.

But students, parents, teachers and community organizers tell stories of students not having math, English, gym, Spanish or special education support for months at a time, if not an entire year.

One parent, who wanted to remain anonymous, said when her child’s school couldn’t fill one of two sixth-grade teacher positions, the one teacher took on all 57 students in that grade.

Often, when there is a long-term vacancy, students get a parade of substitutes who might give them worksheets or worse — spend time sitting in an auditorium without any school work to do.
What's going on with this?
School district leaders constantly say they want to make the school district more equitable. And nothing gets to the heart of the district’s inequities more than the reality that some schools struggle securing teachers while others are fully staffed, said Matt Lyons, CPS' chief talent officer.

But he said this is an outgrowth of systemic and societal issues that can’t be fixed quickly. Over the past few years, the school district has started one program that helps 60 struggling schools hire teachers and another that pays extra money to subs willing to work in 75 hard-to-staff schools. It also plans to expand a program that offers alternative teaching degrees in areas like special education.

Lyons said these programs are starting to work, but acknowledges there is a long way to go.
This is an article that is worth your time. What can be done about this teacher shortage?

Friday, August 2, 2019

Back to school for ADULTS

You might have seen this at The Sixth Ward with the flyer below from a friend of the blog Zack Issacs. If you want to know how to start on finishing your education this is it...

We want to announce a back to school event -- but not for the kids. Rather, it is for adults who need to finish their education, whether for high school, associate's or bachelor's degree.

Meet at the Greater Grand Crossing Library, 1000 E. 73rd Street (73rd and South Chicago).

The tme and date is Saturday August 3, from2:30pm to 4:30pm.

Contact Zack with questions or to RSVP at 708-629-1933 .

More information at