Current Issue

Drugs in schools

Most drug violations in CPS involve an ounce or less of marijuana. Schools are quick to call police, yet rarely have the resources to offer education, counseling or other non-punitive help to students.

Cover Stories

December 27, 2005

When President Bill Clinton visited Mayer Elementary School in October, he was favorably impressed. "I want what is happening in Chicago to happen all over America," he said, 10 years after then-Secretary of Education William Bennett proclaimed Chicago's school system the worst in the country.

December 27, 2005

Taking office under new financial and labor rules, Mayor Richard M. Daley's school leadership team abruptly reversed more than a decade of program cutbacks.

December 27, 2005

Local school councils have not figured prominently in the efforts of schools chief Paul Vallas to improve Chicago's public schools. He's clashed openly with a number, mainly over principal selection, and routinely belittles LSC advocacy groups.

At the January 1999 School Board meeting, he said, "Tonight, we've heard about quite a few principals that have been doing a good job, but then they are fired [by their LSCs]. We're going to take a look at that."

December 05, 2005

In December, the district will unveil a new high school "score card" that aims to give parents more information to help them pick the best high school for their teenagers.

December 05, 2005

If math teacher Delora Washington had her way, Corliss High in Pullman would be first in line to join the district's initiative to prod schools to adopt new, improved math curricula.

In fact, at the top of her wish list is one of the three mathematics curricula the board has already selected.

December 01, 2005

While the district's curricular models for math and science have won praise from teachers and experts, the models chosen for English have earned criticism.

Many students enter high school with below-average reading skills, skills that are particularly crucial when it comes to reading and analyzing nonfiction text. The current English curriculum does little to address the problem, teachers note. Yet the new curriculum models may not do much more: The district's request-for-proposals states only that new curricula should be developed "with attention to nonfiction text."

November 29, 2005

Shenice began cutting classes at Tilden High in New City shortly after Christmas break last year. She can't think of a reason other than "I just got bored." The 15-year-old failed four classes that semester, greatly boosting the chances she would not graduate on time.

November 02, 2005

Three years ago, Chicago Public Schools began to subdivide its most troubled high schools—Orr, Bowen and South Shore. The idea was that smaller learning environments would allow students to get more personal attention and closer supervision.

To a large degree, these objectives have been met: In a study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, kids in these small schools reported closer relationships with teachers, more academic help and less violence among peers.

November 02, 2005

Anita Andrews, assistant principal at Gage Park High, likes to tell this story about her boss, Principal Wilfredo Ortiz:

Driving on 55th Street to a central office meeting, Ortiz spotted a group of truant Gage Park students strolling down the sidewalk. He pulled over, collected their ID tags and ordered them back to school. He went back, too, and called their parents. When he couldn't get through, "He got back in his car, went to their houses, and brought their parents back to the school building," Andrews recalls with amazement. "I don't know where he gets all that energy."