As CPS prepares to close a record number of schools, the fate of students and communities is in question.
City Voices June 2008: Delinquent dropouts
Kids who are involved with the juvenile justice system are more likely to drop out and never make it back to school once they leave juvenile detention. A new strategy from CPS aims to give these students extra support and keep them from dropping out. Guests: Molly Burke, CPS; Edith Crigler, Chicago Area Project, a social service agency that aims to prevent delinquency.
City Voices May 2008: Social and emotional learning
For many kids, it's tough to do well in school because of problems outside school. CPS is beginning to recognize the issue, and schools have begun to incorporate what's called 'social and emotional learning' into the daily curriculum, teaching kids coping skills and how to handle family and other concerns without being overwhelmed with their difficulties. Guests: Betty Allen-Green, former principal of Herzl Elementary and founder of Chicago's first Amachi program for children whose parents are in prison; and Mary Utne O-Brien of CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning at UIC.
City Voices April 2008: Local school council elections
Local school council elections are coming up, and LSCs are under fire. Recruiting candidates is tough, financial support for recruitment from private foundations and from the district is down, and CPS makes no secret of wanting to curb LSC powers. Meanwhile, several small schools have filed a lawsuit charging that the district illegally made their councils into advisory bodies. Guests: Steve Ross, president of the board for Parents United for Responsible Education; and Rev. Charlie Walker, LSC community rep at Mose Vines on the Orr Campus.
City Voices March 2008: Curbing dropouts
To curb the dropout rate, CPS is putting "freshman on track" labs in a number of high schools. The goal is to keep 9th-graders on track to graduate, since research shows that freshmen who earn too few credits and stray from the path toward getting a diploma are more likely to quit school. What will the labs look like? Guests: Paige Ponder of the CPS Office of Dropout Prevention and Gerald Morrow, principal of Robeson High.
Allan Alson on High School Transformation
Allan Alson, head of CPS' Office of High School Transformation, talks with Catalyst Chicago reporter Sarah Karp about the district's multi-faceted approach to turning around failing high schools. In this audio clip, he discusses IDS (Instructional Development Systems), designed to help schools improve in many ways, such as raising student expectations, supporting good teachers and providing additional supports. He also mentions GEAR UP resources, dropout prevention labs and involving the community via community schools that offer extended day programs as other pieces of the puzzle for improving schools.
City Voices February 2008: School 'turnarounds'
Six schools are slated for overhauls next year, under the district's 'turnaround' strategy that will put the Academy for Urban School Leadership in charge of Orr High and two feeder elementary schools; and the district in charge of Harper High and two of its feeders. What will it take to make failing schools succeed? Guests: Donald Feinstein, executive director of the Academy; Josh Edelman, head of CPS Office of New Schools.
City Voices December 2007: Teaching in two languages
A report from a CPS-led commission says bilingual education programs are shortchanging English learners, leaving them without high-level literacy skills in either their native language or English. The commission recommends a new approach called dual language: Students would learn English while retaining their native language. Guest: Bertha Magana, Latino Education Alliance.
City Voices Oct. 28, 2007: Access to preschool
Children in African American and Latino neighborhoods are going with the benefit of preschool services, but for very different reasons. In African American communities, slots are going begging because parents don't always understand the benefits of preschool. In Latino communities, lack of space keeps kids away. Guests: Rosazlia Grillier, Community Organizing and Family Issues; Jane Garza, El Hogar del Nino Child Care Center.
City Voices Oct. 8, 2007: Curbing school violence
While Chicago's media spotlight has focused on the killings of students outside schools, less attention has been focused on what happens inside schools. Despite a districtwide decline of 10 percent, the rate of violent incidents rose last year in a third of schools. Students and advocates of alternative approaches to discipline say the district needs strategies that will do more than impose surface calm, not more metal detectors and security guards. Guests: Andres Durbak, Chief of Safety and Security, and Christine Agaiby, Alternatives Inc.
Charter schools and unions
Steve Barr is trying to instigate reform of the Los Angeles school district and teachers union with his Green Dot charter schools, which have their own teacher contract. Jo Anderson, executive director of the Illinois Education Assocation, also sees charters as an avenue to contract reform. Marilyn Stewart, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, is eyeing Chicago's charter schools. Michael Klonsky, founder of the Small Schools Workshop, moderates a discussion among the three at an Aug. 15, 2007 program co-sponsored by the Workshop, National-Louis University and Catalyst Chicago. For more information about Green Dot, go to www.greendot.org.
To listen to the conversation, click the link below. To read the transcript, go to Updates in the August 2007 web issue.