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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 The fact is the public school district is an outdated model that is not flexible or responsive enough to serve the needs of all students.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.