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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

In the News: Top ACT scores rise in Chicago area

A select group of districts across the Chicago region are producing multiple top ACT scores among their students — and certain schools in the north and near northwest suburbs are particularly prolific, the Tribune reports.

Seven of the top 10 Chicago-area high schools with the best combined test scores on the Prairie State Achievement Exam — which includes the ACT and is taken by all juniors in the state — recorded multiple 36s (a perfect score) in the class of 2013, according to the Illinois State Board of Education's recently released annual school report cards.

Supporters of an elected school board in Chicago say they have new momentum Wednesday. That’s after an advisory measure passed overwhelmingly Tuesday night to end a mayor-appointed board. Only a fraction of the city’s precincts got to weigh in, but about 85 percent of voters in those 327 precincts favored electing the city’s school board. (WBEZ)

Oak Park-River Forest Supt. Steven Isoye will remain at the high school through 2018 after receiving a five-year contract extension from the District 200 Board of Education on Tuesday. (

The District of Columbia has higher-than-desirable teacher turnover, but a report  finds that the public school system is succeeding in holding onto its best teachers at nearly twice the rate as its lowest performers. (The Washington Post)

With the passage of Proposition 30 in California, college students will be spared another round of tuition increases and younger students will avoid a shorter school year. (Los Angeles Times)

Public school teachers spend billions of their own funds on student needs. (Truthout)


Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

The elite test takers

Jonathan Bullington's article did demonstrate how important high levels of test preparation and practice are for those few students with extremely high or perfect ACT composite scores. But it doesn't stop there, not at all. My own daughter who had strong ACT composite scores coming out of Payton and went as an undergraduate to U of I Champaign again had to endure the testing regime for graduate school admission by taking the Graduate Record Exam.

The GRE is composed of a Verbal Section involves reading comprehension and multiple-choice sections based on analogies and completions. The Quantitative Section is also multiple-choice, and involves problem solving and comparison questions to test high-school level math skills. The analytical sections involves the writing of two different essays. The "issue task" essay is a 45-minute essay which allows you to choose between two topics, while the "argument task" essay gives the student 30 minutes to read an argument and critique the strengths and weaknesses in that argument. My daughter did well enough to be accepted at several Universities as a doctoral student in Agricultural Economics, she chose to stay at U of I with a full tuition wavier and research stipend .

My daughter approached taking the GRE like an athlete would train for the Olympics. Some of her fellow seniors last year tackled the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) a half-day standardized test administered four times each year at designated testing centers. The LSAT consists of five 35-minute multiple choice sections (one of which is an unscored experimental section) followed by an unscored writing sample section. The LSAT contains two logical reasoning ("LR") sections, commonly known as "arguments", designed to test the taker's ability to dissect and analyze arguments. The LSAT contains one reading comprehension ("RC") section consisting of four passages of 400–500 words, and 5–8 questions relating to each passage. The current LSAT contains one analytical reasoning section, which is referred to colloquially as the "logic games (LG)" section. One section contains four "games" falling into a number of categories including grouping, matching, and ordering of elements. Another groups of my daughter's friends took the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) which according to her was considered to be the most difficult and required absurd levels of preparation. The test takes 4.5–5 hours and is composed of four sections, listed in the order in which they are administered on the day of the exam: Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, Writing Sample, and Biological Sciences. Because of the time constraints of the test performance on it requires not just knowledge but incredible efficiency.

What is interesting about the cohort of high achieving students my daughter entered U of I with is that all of the students she was closely associated with through her undergraduate years I found out when I talked with them had composite ACT scores in the 30s. These young adults were highly prepared and most graduated college with 3.8 GPAs or better. Failure was not within their conceptual framework and they were upset with Bs on any type of exam. Bullington's article only discusses the first step for our elite students, it actually gets harder because at the graduate level they must compete with elite foreign students.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

teachers spend money out of pocket

I read the article about teachers spending money out of pocket. I don't know where they got their averages from, but $400-500 a year? That is nothing. Nothing. My total for the school year ranges from 2-3K. Each and every year. My goal for this year is to try and only spend around 1K. I think they interviewed the wrong teachers. Like many teachers, I've taught in schools with no math curriculum or texts. A class library? Are you kidding me? When I walked into my new school there were around 75 books total for the class library. A good class library needs, minimum, 1000 books. Ridiculous. I am lucky to be where I am now, but remove all the items that personally belong to me and the room would be empty. Teaching for CPS is like working in a developing country.

Northside Teacher wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago


we gotta grovel for paper at my school. my principals hands it out as if she is doing us favor! you think Rahm and BBB have to grovel for copy paper?

Arnie wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

CTU Disaster

The reason paper is rationed is because the teachers are overpaid with outrageous benefits and the CTU has bankrupted the school system. All the kids have gotten in return are terrible teachers who can't teach. The good news is eventually bankruptcy will fix this just as it is doing in Detroit. Most of the pensions will be wiped out. Then the kids can get all the paper they want and get teachers who care about teaching and not their pocketbook.

PS If you don't like the paper rationing at your school, you are free to quit your job. You can take that sweet "skill" set of your elsewhere. Good luck getting your same high pay. But your worth it right? LOL!

Never Stops wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Case Closed

The brain trust who as an adult says "take that sweet "skill" set of your elsewhere" and "your worth it" is the reason people can sanctimoniously bleat about "terrible teachers who can't teach." Wonder how many hours the "teachers who care about teaching and not their pocketbook" tried beating into his head "yours" and "you're?"

Ed Dziedzic wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago


Well Arnie, I guess we would take you a little more seriously if you knew how to spell. And what do you do for a living, pray tell?

northside wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

And Arnie

When our pensions are wiped out can you PROMISE to leave US ALONE...and go find a new vocation to blame for our country's debt problems....maybe Wall Street?

Anonymous wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Pocket book

why is it a crime for a teacher to ask for a decent wage. especially since he is forced to live in Chicago...which is very expensive for a person to raise a family. somewhere down the line some righ wing station equated teachers as "union thugs". if you read ANY story about a teacher you will see THOUSANDS of blogs calling teachers union thugs. this is very sad. especially when you think of a teacher in a place like Lyons, IL making 40-50k max. Very sad..unfortunately our beloved Mr. Obama and his hitman Rahm have only stoked the anti-teacher fire more. the right thinks we make to much..the left holds us responsible for the ills of society. i think in ten years you will find colleges begging for teachers.

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