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Hyde Park Schools: a community wide initiative and group

A service of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference's Schools Committee and the Conference website,
Help support our work: Join the Conference!
Join the Schools Committee-Co chairs Camille Hamilton-Doyle and Nancy Baum.

Currently in hiatus- needs to be revived.

Leaders are Gabriel Piemonte, Editor of the Hyde Park Herald, Abigail Hymen; Director of Youth Programs, Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, and Eva Nielson, Shoesmith LSC member. The leaders have issued subject reports to which members are now responding and winnowing useful directions.

Listserve interactive group is To reach:

We are happy to announce the creation of, a companion to our google group. We anticipate using the group as a planning tool but understand that folks have lots of ideas about education generally and might want to share information that could help drive that planning. We encourage everyone to comment on the material that will be published on the blog. Anyone wanting to post material, commentary, news about your schools - really, anything education-related - should email us at and we will post your information.
There are already a couple of items on the blog that may interest you, so feel free to take a peek!

The topics the Group is focusing on are arts, fundraising, special needs and techology, curriculum, physical ed/health/wellness, and potentially others.

The group was a co-convener of screening of A Race to Nowhere March 10 2011; Gabriel Piemonte was panel moderator.


How the group got started, fall 2010

Herald, Neighborhood Club others call for schools help, improvements after talk by Jacqueline Edelberg (Nettelhorst School turnaround book, How to Walk to School)

(The talk was at a Southside Parents Network event at Shoesmith. Ms. Edelberg talked last February at the HPKCC Schools Awards Dinner. Her model was drawn partially from her experiences with Ray School and applied to Nettelhorst on the North Side. After the October talk, the Herald took it upon itself to invite everyone and organizations to a convocation at the Neighborhood Club November 7, 3 pm. Here is the Herald's follow up October 27. For wish lists sent by schools, see News of Schools.)

"Rallying for schools a job for everyone.
Our announcement last week of a forum to discuss the state of our public schools -- an our public elementary schools in particular -- sparked a number of calls to the Herald offices expressing support for the idea. Our assertion that the community should step up in our efforts to support public education in Hyde Park seems to have resonated with parents, local education advocates and other members of the community. We expected no less from a community that so values its cohesiveness.

On the other hand, Hyde Park being Hyde Park, we were not surprised to hear some grumblings. Why now? Why haven't community meetings been held in preparation for the event? Has this been cleared with the various organizations in the community that work with the public schools?

We don't want to overstate the significance of these grumblings; we do not want to ignore any community members who feel they have a stake in the schools already. The fact is that this is part of a conversation that has been going on at least since our parents, teachers and administrators marched last spring in protest of proposed drastic expansions of class size and budget cuts at schools. Even though -- and in a sense, precisely because -- those cuts proved to be a political ploy [Herald interpretation], the buzz among parents and many community members has been around protecting our schools to the best of our ability from having such uncertainty arise in the future.

At the forum, to be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7, at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood ave., we will make concrete suggestions as to how the community might gird our public neighborhood schools. We will announce a preliminary list of those suggestions -- influenced, in part, by wish lists we are soliciting from local schools and publishing as space permits. (Last week, we published a list from Shoesmith; this wee, Bret harte has submitted a list to be found on page 8. E-mail or to have your school's wish list published next week; deadline is this Friday, noon.) We are also seeking suggestions from the community -- write in and have your say. All suggestions will be published here in advance of the forum. Our suggestions will also be the outgrowth of conversations we are having throughout the community regarding ideas to strengthen our schools.

Meanwhile, the momentum for the event continues to build. The South Side education advocacy group Southsiders United [Organized?] fo Unity and Liberation stopped by the Herald offices last week to discuss involvement in the forum, and the event is officially on the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club's Facebook page. As mentioned last week on this page, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference's Schools Committee is interested in participating in the event and the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce has expressed support as well. We encourage additional groups and individuals to sign on.

Given the vast potential resources our community has if we come together as local store owners, other professionals with areas of expertise, community organizers, concerned citizens, parents, teachers, members of community institutions an really all Hyde Parkers with our diverse array of backgrounds and abilities, our public schools -- all of our public schools -- should not want for local support as they struggle to provide the best possible education for our children.

Let's get together Nov. 7 and hash our how we translate this abstraction into action.

And additional in editorial of November 3, Take time this Sunday to talk about education

As the weekend of th e Hyde Park Education Forum approaches, we are publishing the third wish list we've received from a Hyde Park elementary school -- this one from Murray Language Academy. The recurrence of certain items from these lists suggests to us that there are clearly needs that our elementary schools have in common. For example, Bret Harte, Shoesmith and Murray all have tutors on their wish list. The also share need for some basic office supplies.

We can certainly help to address these basic needs as a community. With the rich, diverse background of Hyde Parkers young and old, we can surely meet tutoring needs for neighborhood kids. Meanwhile, teh neighborhood's stories organizing and fundraising prowess is certainly up to securing some crayons and staplers.

Once we receive all of the wish lists we are seeking, we will publish them all together, indicating where there are common needs among the schools. In these areas, we can begin immediately as a community to improve conditions at our schools. We should also listen carefully to our neighbors with current or prospective students in our schools -- they have the most at stake in these institutions and have certainly thought long and hard about both the good and the could-be-better qualities of Hyde Park Schools.

We encourage the entire neighborhood to come out... to address the state of our local elementary schools. We will have parents and community leaders starting the day off with a panel discussion, followed by breakout sessions where we wil gather the ideas of the community together, finally presenting all those ideas as the audinece reconvenes as a whole and considers a plan for action. These ideas will also then appear in the Herald, where we will continue the conversation.

Public schools can be a defining element in a community. They can be the critical factor that draws parents to -- or from -- a neighborhood. If we can agree that our schools should be a top priority of Hyde Park, we can bolster an already special and beloved community.

Added in November 10 Herald

Great talk -- now let's get to work on schools

We are delighted to report the Community Forum on Public Education in Hyde Park hosted by the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club Sunday drew an enthusiastic audience that filled the tables set up for the event. Roughly 35 people participated in a broad-ranging conversation that centered not on the problems facing our public schools -- but how we might address those challenges. Participants offered a variety of suggestions, all of which were set down during the conversation.

The Herald will be publicizing those suggestions by category - including ideas about art, curriculum, fundraising and more -- and weighing in on what we consider to be the strongest of the suggestions. We encourage all of our readers to do the same- write in to us and tell us what you think about the ideas we present and add more of your own. What was clear on Sunday was a real sense of commitment in the neighborhood to support our public schools from a wide-ranging group of community members, spanning age, profession and ethnicity.

There is a real opportunity here for meaningful improvement in our neighborhood schools. Sunday's turnout demonstrated a desire exists in the community to make that improvement happen and it exists across our community's diverse population.

So what's next? We believe some of the ideas suggested on Sunday can be translated into action in a relatively short span of time. For example, on Sunday people discussed the importance of fundraising to support the general coffers of our neighborhood schools. Could Hyde Parkers plan an event around the holidays that would do just that, setting a modest goal of a few hundred dollars raised per elementary school?

We believe something along these lines is feasible and encourage our neighbors to continue this important conversation and make plans to turn those conversations into action. Sunday's participants will be continuing to organize at Anybody wishing to join that conversation can e-mail to be added to the list. Get involved. We can achieve excellence in all of our public schools if we get together and commit to them.

To raw ideas from the Nov. 7 workshop

School Wish Lists

Bret Harte's wish list:
General supplies (copy paper, pens, pencils, crayons, scissors, staples, electric sharpeners)
Books for library (science, biographies)
Enrichment for math and science- manipulatives
Spanish program
Materials for English language learners (ELL)
Laptops for each teacher and laptop carts
Interactive white boards for primary depts
iPad for learning centers
Ink cartridges/toner
Copy machine
Laminator film (cold and hot)
Cp;pr poster printer and paper
Sponsor professional development for teachers
Sponsor field trips (transp., admissions
Incentive prizes for Pos. Behavioral Intervention and Supports)
Funding for before school and additional after school programs
Playground equipment

Murray's wish list

Human capital
Science Fair judges (Dec. 9 and 10)
Guest speakers to do lecture series for parents and staff on current research concerning health, well-being, and growth and development of school-age children:
Parents with school-age children to apply by December 17, 2010;
Cash to purchase classroom assistants;
Volunteers to tutor, mentor, or coach students in the after-school program;
Partnerships with local businesses;
Community support with our school-wide fundraisers; and
Community members to attend our Local School Council and PTO meetings

Technology Needs
Smartboards for classrooms, Language Rooms and library;
Laptops with Cart for primary students;
Random access memory (DRAM) chips to speed computers;
Apple ipad cart for upper grade students;
Technology Professional Development on topics such as proper maintenance, networking, diagnosing, servers, and distant learning;
Student-based software for after school program; and
Cash to purchase 6 sets of 2 speakers for smartboards to add quality sound to lessons;
Webmaster for website

Paper; HP Printer Toner; 6 sets of 20 books (about $1700) for our Battle of the Books Competition starting in November 2010;
Cash for teacher travel to Professional Development

Facility Needs
New classroom windows;
New classroom carpets:
Modern furniture of teacher and parent lounges:
New or refurbished copiers; and
Artwork and artifacts for the buil