A raft of past programs have failed to substantially improve the reading skills of middle grade and high school students. CPS is trying once again, as part of a federal project that aims to help teens learn how to analyze complex non-fiction.
City Voices April 2006: Supporting new teachers
Chicago Public Schools typically hires over 2,700 new teachers each year. Before the end of the year, nearly 200 usually quit. While attrition in teachers' second and third years has slowed somewhat, more new teachers are quitting before their first year is complete. Meanwhile, the district's main mentoring program needs more funding to live up to its potential. Alternative programs offer intensive help, such as weekly meetings and coaching, but are only available for small numbers of teachers. Guests: Amanda Rivera, head of GOLDEN mentoring program for CPS, and Lisa Vahey, co-founder of the New Teachers Network.
City Voices March 2006: School closings
In February, demonstrators showed up at City Hall to protest the closing of Collins High School, one of several public schools slated to close under the district's Renaissance 2010 plan to close low-performing schools and open new ones in their place. According to a Catalyst report, the board is not living up to its promise that displaced kids would end up in better schools. Critics cite increased violence in high schools and overall safety risks as proof that the district's strategy isn't working. Guests: Gilda Walker of the Southwest Block Club Coalition, Shannon Bennett of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and Jacqueline Leavy of the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group.
City Voices February 2006: Mayoral control
Back in 1995, state legislators gave Mayor Richard M. Daley control over the city's school system, including the power to select its leader and directly appoint members of the school board. What progress has the district made since then, and what problems remain to be solved? Guests: Valencia Rias, former member of Jones High and Washington Elementary local school councils and an organizer with Designs for Change; Elaine Allensworth, researcher with the Consortium on Chicago School Research; Nancy Aardema, executive director of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and parent of a Chicago public schools graduate.
City Voices January 2006: Reinventing high schools
In September 2005, CEO Arne Duncan told a large gathering of the city's movers and shakers that the district had a long-term plan to improve public high schools. One project, a new high school score card with more information on test scores and other indicators, debuted in December. The district also plans to improve curriculum with the help of outside contractors. Guest: Maureen Kelleher, associate editor of Catalyst and former high school teacher.
City Voices November 2005: Class cutting and truancy
The more a student misses class, the more likely he is to fail the course. The more courses she fails, the less likely she is to graduate on time. In spring 2004, half of all freshmen missed more than two weeks of class in major subject. Guests: Victor Harbison, principal intern, Jones College Prep; Bill Gerstein, principal of the School of Entrepreneurship, a small school at South Shore High.
City Voices August 2005: In the trenches
Two teachers talk about the impact of budget cuts and what it takes to educate young people. Guests: Kenneth Johnson of Mose Vines, a small school at Orr High; Sonia Barillas, Amundsen High.
City Voices July 2005: Universities in the schools
How universities can help improve K-12 education, and the University of Chicago's plans for launching new schools. Guest: Tim Knowles, Center for Urban School Improvement, University of Chicago.
City Voices June 2005: No relief in sight
Despite hundreds of millions in capital spending, the district is only treading water when it comes to solving the problem of overcrowding. Guests: Associate Editor Maureen Kelleher, Columbia Explorers School Principal Jose Barrera.
City Voices April 2005: Homeless kids
Why the number of homeless students is on the rise, the rights of homeless students and services the district provides. Guests: Rene Heybach of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Pat Rivera of CPS.