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.
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In the News: CTU finds fault with '12-'13 calendar
Chicago Public Schools on Friday released its 2012-13 calendar, which adds 10 days to next year's schedule and increases the number of five-day school weeks to 29. Columbus Day and Pulaski Day will be eliminated in order to achieve that. Two report card pickup days have also been converted into attendance days for students.
Students will be dismissed from school three hours early on those report card pickup days, which means parents will have a shorter window of opportunity to pick up their children's report cards and talk with teachers.
The Chicago Teachers Union on Friday evening issued a press release in response to CPS' 2012-13 calendar. The statement said the calendar “will produce student burnout and lacks appropriate professional development time for staff.” The union also cited several problems with the new calendar. Among them:
· Report card pickups will now conflict with work hours for parents and will leave only three hours for teachers to meet with up to 200 sets of parents.
· The calendar provides for no Professional Development days between the first day of student attendance in September and the last day on June 17. This is particularly egregious at a time when new district initiatives including the Common Core State Standards, a new evaluation system and a longer day will require planning and collaboration.
· By eliminating the federal holiday, Columbus Day, the school year begins with nine uninterrupted weeks of school.
· Track E-comprised of at least 240 schools-will lose a week of spring break and still gets no relief from sweltering school conditions in August.
The union said the “calendar represents an example of what the Chicago school board will do when it doesn't listen to the voices of the teachers, parents, and others who will be directly affected by their policies.”
Polish and Italian civic leaders say the proposed change in the CPS school calendar to end Columbus and Pulaski holidays, which is backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is “a slap in the face.” (Sun-Times)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard are calling for the school district's food services director to be fired, after an inspector general's report last week accused Louise Esaian of accepting thousands of dollars in improper gifts from CPS' two largest food vendors. (Tribune)
Also: Esaian and two members of her staff are accused of accepting at least $86,000 in gifts from Chartwells and another vendor, Preferred Meals Systems, that have combined food contracts at CPS in excess of $75 million, the Tribune reported.
IN THE NATION
Education historian Diane Ravitch calls the phrase "parent trigger," which allows 51 percent of parents in any school to close it or hand it over to private management, "inherently menacing." She says parents in Florida got it right earlier this month by organizing to defeat a parent trigger bill.
The D.C. Public Education Finance Reform Commission says charter school enrollment, already 41 percent of the public school population, is expected to increase by 10 percent in 2013. Beyond that, it will likely slow to about six percent annually through 2015 then drop to two percent gains in 2016 and 2017. (The Washington Post)
Teach for America has announced a new partnership with the Imagine charter school network, the country’s largest for-profit charter chain, which has been controversial for several reasons, The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss reports. The for-profit charter operator has been investigated in some states for the way it exercises control over the schools it manages, essentially ignoring the boards of trustees that are supposed to really run the schools.
Across the states that have adopted the Common Core State standards, 78 percent of public school teachers say they've heard about the standards, based on the results of a survey conducted last summer. Only 22 percent of teachers said they were "very prepared" to teach the new standards, while 51 percent said they were "somewhat prepared," and 27 percent were "somewhat/very unprepared."(Education Week)