The historic closing of 49 elementary schools in Chicago left many parents bitter and feeling left out as they try to get involved in new schools. Yet parent engagement is essential for school improvement, and principals are faced with the challenge of building trust at schools that scored poorly on surveys of parent involvement.
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Laptops would help with typing skills. The problem always seemed to be the poor wireless connections.
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In the News: The tale of a laid-off CPS teacher
CPS teacher Xian Barrett was laid off last week and the story of how it all went down ended up in the Sun-Times. On Sunday, Barrett penned a blog post to share his side. Here's an excerpt: "If I had taught what I taught in Mayor Emanuel’s hometown, I would still be employed. If the children I taught had been rich enough and white enough, I would have continued to collect my paycheck and accolades and they would have been affirmed in all of their accomplishments."
Barrett goes on to write, "I am unemployed and my students are without their teacher today because I chose to teach students of highest need. I chose to actually address the opportunity gaps in our society, and not in theory but in reality supporting impoverished young people of color to fight to improve their own lives and demand to be treated as equals." (Teacher X blog)
PLACING BLAME: Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Sunday pointed a finger at the state's pension crisis in two recent doses of bad financial news: 2,000 Chicago Public Schools layoffs and a decline in the city's bond rating. "This is avoidable in a sense," Emanuel said during an unrelated news conference in response to a question about last week's CPS layoffs, more than 1,000 of which involved teachers. (Chicago Tribune)
NO RETREAT: The Rev. Jesse Jackson and a Chicago Teachers Union representative said on Saturday that work will be done to fight back against the recent layoffs of more than 2,100 Chicago Public Schools employees. (CBS Chicago)
TEACHER STRESS: Teachers have become the punching bags for elites, parents and all who lament the state of American education, writes Jim Nowlan, a member of the Executive Ethics Commission in Illinois, who recently interviewed six Downstate teachers. Asked would they encourage their children to go into teaching, one replied, "Generally, yes, but in Illinois, no." (The News-Gazette)
IN THE NATION
DITCHING THE CANDY SALES: School fundraising is getting more creative, with some schools selling trash bags, just one alternative to the candy-and-gift wrap sales that so many communities hold when school fundraising efforts resume each fall. Some PTAs are going high-tech, using online platforms to solicit and process donations, selling digital images of kids' artwork on coffee mugs or magnets, and hosting scavenger hunts where clues are collected with cellphone photos. And a few school groups have stopped selling products altogether, instead encouraging parents to simply write checks. (Education Week)