New school transitions

Fall 2013

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.

Table of Contents

‘Structured out’ of a job

Sarah Karp

Fifth-grade teacher Leland Sanford and Spanish teacher Christine Brown sat at his desk in the school’s library, surrounded by brown boxes and barren walls. They were not happy. 

It was the Monday of the last week of school, and Sanford and Brown had just received letters saying that they wouldn’t find out for a few weeks whether they would have  jobs next school year. Their school, Morgan Elementary, was one of 49 to be shuttered in June. Both teachers had superior or excellent ratings and were tenured, making them eligible to follow their...

Chicago Public Schools, Consortium on Chicago School Research, parent involvement, school closings, teachers

Missing connections

Sarah Karp

Lydell Harris is a tall, thin man with a short graying Afro, who students call “Coach” when they see him on his porch across the street from school.

The nickname is a hold-over from the nine years he spent coaching the boys’ basketball team at Goodlow, where Harris was a regular presence, helping in the classrooms and doing whatever jobs the staff needed.  Often, he was at Goodlow from 7 in the morning to late in the afternoon.

“I didn’t just do it for my sons, but for a lot of the boys who don’t have a father figure, and I became that to them,” says Harris, who lives in West...

Consortium on Chicago School Research, parent involvement, school closings, teachers

Waiting on STEM, IB

Sarah Karp

When district leaders laid out their plans to close a record number of elementary schools, they promised that the new schools would be better academically than the ones being shuttered and rolled out plans to launch specialty programs in many of the welcoming schools.

To that end, over the summer CPS poured money into the schools, for decked-out science labs and carts loaded with iPads and laptops. Old schools got major renovations, and even relatively new schools got paint jobs and other touch-ups.

But it will take years before the promised new educational programs fully...

Chicago Public Schools, Consortium on Chicago School Research, CPS teachers, parent involvement, school closings

Any adult who was successful in school will likely remember that their parents played a defining role in that success. What happens during the roughly six-hour school day is only part of the learning equation. Who else but a parent or guardian will make sure children attend school and complete their homework?

Any adult who was successful in school will likely remember that their parents played a defining role in that success. What happens during the roughly six-hour school day is only part of the learning...
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