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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

October 05, 2005

This summer, Principal Patricia McCann was in a quandary over the state pre-kindergarten program at Mays Elementary.

In June, Chicago Public Schools sent principals a memo announcing that full-day state pre-kindergarten programs would be converted to half-day in the fall. The move would serve more children and save money, district officials said at the time. Back then, Mays operated two full-day classrooms that served 40 low-income children, and had a waiting list of another 30 parents clamoring to get in.

October 04, 2005

Testing young children is a dicey proposition. On one hand, educators and policy-makers agree that finding out what preschoolers know and building on those skills is important. It is also essential, they say, to determine whether preschool programs are delivering the goods and sufficiently preparing youngsters for grade school.

Yet, early childhood experts warn that much is unknown about how best to teach reading and early math to 3- and 4-year-olds, and that too much emphasis on these academic skills could be detrimental.

October 04, 2005

This fall, CPS unveiled at South Loop Elementary a new all-day preschool program for poor and middle-class children—a three-part mix of Head Start, state pre-kindergarten and the district's own tuition-based preschool. Before the opening, however, CPS Early Childhood Education Officer Barbara Bowman had eliminated all full-day state pre-K programs, a move that affected some 900 children.

October 04, 2005

Nationwide testing of pre-kindergarteners is intended to gauge how well Head Start agencies are preparing youngsters to begin school, but the tool currently being used is far from being ready for such a high-stakes purpose, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

Developed two years ago, the National Reporting System (NRS) aims to measure literacy, language and early math skills of 4- and 5-year-old children who are headed into kindergarten. It is administered in English and Spanish.

October 04, 2005

Four-year-olds at Midway Head Start are sitting in a circle singing a song about five green, speckled frogs that are disappearing one by one. Following the teacher's lead, the children use hand motions and their fingers to count down until no speckled frogs are left.

Flashcards and worksheets are nowhere in sight. "That's not developmentally appropriate," says Ruth Prescott, who oversees Head Start programs for Metropolitan Family Services.

October 04, 2005

In the current state budget, Gov. Rod Blagojevich paid the final installment of a pledge to invest $90 million over three years to increase the number of children in preschool.

September 16, 2005

SPRINGFIELD - Like Cubs fans holding out hope at the end of a heartbreaking season, advocates for school funding reform are focusing on "next year" after a once-promising spring session at the Illinois Capitol ultimately left them empty-handed.

"Next year" in the political realm is an election year, when the governor's office, two-thirds of the Illinois Senate and the entire Illinois House are up for grabs. Champions of a tax swap proposal designed to bring in more money for schools plan to use that to their advantage.

September 02, 2005

In February, the U.S. Department of Education released a report on the educational careers of traditional-age college students who enter community colleges. Author Clifford Adelman, a top researcher at the department, spoke with Catalyst Chicago about the course-taking habits of students who were likely to earn an associate's degree or transfer to a university, and offered the following advice to students.

Don't wait to enroll

"Enter directly from high school, please. You improve the chances you're going to get an associate's degree by 12 percent."

September 02, 2005

Students who must take remedial courses in college are less likely to earn a degree than their peers, national data show. But efforts to improve the way colleges teach these courses are "spotty" at best, says Matt Gandal, executive vice president of Achieve, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group founded by governors and business leaders to raise high school standards and better prepare students for post-secondary education.