Education & School News, Notes- and thoughts about improvement

News, Opportunities, Deadlines, Trends of the Schools and of Education in the Hyde Park-Kenwood Area and Chicago

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

Main page contents To Schools Committee home Index to schools/education subject pages is in Schools Comm.

About the Schools Committee.

August 23, Wednesday, 6 pm. HPK CAC (community action council for schools) meets adt Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell. Election of officers, Jane Averill Reading Day, consideration of draft letter on the Single Application.

Resumes im fall 4th Thursday, 5:30 pm. HPKCC Schools Committee at Kenwood Academy Media Center, 5015 S. Blackstone. Use parking lot door, right 2 corridors, left, Meia center is left in middle of corridor.

STATE OF HPK SCHOOLS DECEMBER 2014 CPS PRES. TO THE CAC. (It is 8 MB and one slide may have error)

Read letter approved at the HPKCC board meeting. The letter is set to be published in the March 12 Hyde Park Herald and sent to CPS and officials.
September 19 (happened 18th?) The Coalition announced that the 30 have ended their hunger strike. They continue to insist on their demands. (ed. One hopes that with the hot-button suspended CPS and Ald. Burns, who asserted in his newsletter and the Herald that basically the problem is that KOCO wants to control the school and get contract work there), will engage in a dialogue for the best and truly open-enrollment neighborhood school. Also that CPS can somehow roll back the arrogant way it threw out the proposals and imposed a plan, perhaps now that Tim Cawley has resigned?) See background and updates in the main Schools page.
DYETT (which HPKCC sought to keep open as an open enrollment neighborhood school with high quality programs: October 24 2014 CPS announced it would put out in December a RFP for community proposals for Dyett High School as an open enrollment neighborhood school. The program will be finalized in fall 2015 and the new school open for the year 2016-17. This represents a substanial community victory and reversal of the decision four years ago to phase out the school, but several comunity groups insist on more voice in decisions and curriculum.


Chicago Academic Games League (CAGL). CAGL (Chicago Academic Games League) is back (2014-15 school year) as an online afterschool program. The first CPS school in the program is Robert A. Black in South Shore. A teacher in the school must sponsor and lead this unusual, FREE program of game-based math learning and application. They are actively recruiting schools. The program is no longer a program of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference or its Schools Committee. (See what it was in the past.)
We would really encourage other schools to join us in pioneering the resurrection of CAGL online. The program is free to the schools. Anyone interested should contact me at the number below (or reply to this email.) Thanks for your interest.
Buzz Allen, President, Accelerated Learning Foundation, 641-919-2466

CPS has changed ranking of schools from 1-3 (1 being top) to 1+, 1, 2+, 2, and 3 (1+ being best).
Murray from 2 to 1+
Bret Harte- goes from 2 to 1
Kenwood Academy High from 2 to 1
Canter (closed spring 2014) from 3 to 1
Shoesmith from 2 to 1
Ray from 2 to 2+
Kozminski from 3 to 2
Reavis from 3 to 2

So now one 1+, four 1, one 2+, and two 2.

There is an "opt out" of PARCC test working its way through the legislature. HB306.

DYETT (which HPKCC sought to keep open as an open enrollment neighborhood school with high quality programs: October 24 2014 CPS announced it would put out in December a RFP for community proposals for Dyett High School as an open enrollment neighborhood school. The program will be finalized in fall 2015 and the new school open for the year 2016-17. This represents a substanial community victory and reversal of the decision four years ago to phase out the school.

CPS Releases RFP For Current Dyett High School Site [December 19, 2014]

March 2015: The Schools Committee has recommended to the HPKCC board a letter to teh CPS RFP committee supporting the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett and pointing out our long support for district-run open enrollment neighborhood schools.

New Program Sought for Open Enrollment, Neighborhood High School

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today issued its Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new open enrollment, neighborhood high school at the current site of Dyett High School to be operated by the District or as a contract school, but not a charter operator, in School Year 2016-17.

“Members of the community have expressed a strong interest in a new school at the Dyett site and we look forward to working with the community to develop a new high-quality option for students living in the neighborhood,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “We are committed to ensuring the new neighborhood school at Dyett meets the community’s needs and will evaluate proposals from all interested parties.”

The RFP for the new school model seeks to identify an education option that offers an innovative program which engages its students and also meets the needs of the local community. This new open enrollment neighborhood high school should also embody the five pillars that CPS believes help increase graduation rates, academic preparedness for college, career and life.

As part of the process, CPS will assess each proposal on the merits of its educational plan, community involvement, leadership and operational capacity, finances and facilities plan.

Any interested parties will be able to submit proposals, and CPS will evaluate all proposals that meet the established criteria. This RFP is open to those submitting a concept for a District-operated school and new or existing partners who wish to open and manage a high-quality contract school in the facility. To be considered in this selection process, respondents are encouraged to file a notification of intent by January 28, 2015 and all materials must be submitted by the proposals deadline of April 6, 2015.

In 2012, the Chicago Board of Education voted to phase out Dyett High School following years of poor performance and declining enrollment. Dyett High School is currently in its final year of operation and will close following SY 14-15. Pending approval from the Board of Education in fall 2015, a new open enrollment neighborhood high school would open at the Dyett High School site in time for SY 16-17.

The RFP is available at For more information [or to comment] on the Dyett RFP process, please contact Nina Abbey by phone at 773-553-1625 or by email at


University Consortium research shows that CPS students went up only from 8 percent in 2006 likely to get a college degree in 6 years to 14 today, still below national average and with great discrepancies between ethnic groups. Worse, there ate certain colleges in Illinois often selected by CPS students that have a dismal graduation rate that also applies to CPS grads enrolled there, but some that have much higher graduation rates where CPS students do well.

Pilot Light (Ongoing) A UC Neighborhood Schools Program initiative or affiliate.
Pilot Light is recruiting local elementary schools to begin programming in Spring 2015. With the goal of empowering children to develop healthy relationships with food, Pilot Light’s team of chefs and educators partner with your school to deliver high quality, hands-on classroom lessons that harness food as a vehicle to teach students the topics they are already learning in the classroom, across all subject areas. The program is free. For more details, click here or email

Kenwood Jazz Band and its collaboration with composer-pianist Jason Moran leading to performance of Moran's "Looks of a Lot"at the CSO is subject of a documentary by John Owess for the Tribune, with Howard Reich and photographer Zbigniew Bzdak. The doc was first shown on Channel 20 WYCC Friday Oct. 3. This was subject of a 2-page article by Reich in the October 1, 2014 Chicago Tribune Arts and Entertainment section.
Kenwood Journeys. According to the November 9 2015 Chicago Tribune, the Tribune won a Midwest Emmy at last Saturday's 57th annual presentation for "Kenwood Journeys." This documentary by John Owens, Zbigniew Bzdak and Howard Reich grew out of Reich and Bzdak's 2014 series on the preparation of the Kenwood Academy Jazz Band for its appearance at Symphony Center with jazz great Jason Moran and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a world premiere work.Two weeks before the appearance, Band guitarist Aaron Rushing, aged 15, was killed near his home in South Chicago. The documentary's video release was the occasion of a school-wide celebration and is well worth the watch. It can be found at PS, our local schools and their students need all the support they can get at this time of crisis, and recognition of their achievements.

Read HPKCC and Schools Committee letter to Alderman Burns August 2014 concerning lack of input in the decision on reopening Canter for Kenwood Academic Center, supporting the move and offering to work with the prinicipal and alderman to make this work for directly-affected students and for the middle grades of all the HPK schools.
c. July 21 according to media announcement, Ald. Burns, Supt. BBBennett and Mayor Emanuel met and agreed to move Kenwood Academic Center (selective enrollment) into the closed Canter building (this will take a year). BofEd will have to approve but that's expected.
By Gary Ossewaarde
June 16 Alderman Burns devoted the entire monthly ward meeting at Kenwood Academy to the long-promised community meeting on re-purposing Canter (as delegated by CPS and the city to aldermen to hold such meetings.) (The alderman provided a handout setting forth his position and what he has done on Dyett. He would not answer criticisms of this or discuss alternative ideas (whether the would support them or not) such as Global and Environmental Neighborhood about Dyett discussed from the floor-- back and forth was at time very heated.)

Burns, Kenwood Prinicpal Dr. Gregory Jones, Network Chief Peters, and a spokesman for CPS Facilities offered (to this writer) a well-reasoned plan to transition the Kenwood Academic Center (KAC) for 7th and 8th graders into Canter in fall 2015 if possible and if approved by CPS. It will take at least a year of both remediation to the building and transition planning at the school and with the Network to make sure this will work. The principal promised there will be at least as many electives and opportunities at the academic center, and if possible growth in numbers, including plenty of opportunities for the students to do work in the main high school building and get used to the high school experience. Jones emphasized that his role is implementation-- the best education possible for the children admitted to the school, not policy. Emphasized among benefits was relief of crowding at Kenwood with opportunity for growth, and that the KAC can grow in the Canter building and perhaps more offered there also. And it saves the Canter building as a fully- utilized (speakers seemed to promise) structure that is a regular CPS school (negating in some degree the closure by a trade off allowing growth, Burns and the other speakers said-- see below on selective vs open enrollment). The audience generally agreed that the move clearly made the most sense, but thought it in some ways goes backward and that more needs to be included in the outcome (see below).

In answers to strong concerns, the Facilities representative said that if CPS approves the move, CPS is committed to finding the funding to remediate or upgrade the building, and to prevent its deterioration and to keep up the grounds (pointed out in bad shape) in the meantime. He did not promise improvements. Jones and the Network responded positively but without specifics or promises (at least partially because of scheduling and programming constraints and needs/desires of the elementary schools) to urging by many from the audience (appearing to represent consensus) that in-building KAC and middle-school opportunities be available to 7th and 8th graders in other HPK schools, particularly in the receiving (Harte, Ray) but (audience members asked) cluster/Network schools (Shoesmith, Murray but some pointed also to Kozminski and beyond) and also that teachers in these other schools receive at KAC demonstration and planning in best practices.

An apparent majority wanted the KAC to become an open enrollment school at least for the cluster or/and in other ways provide equal educational opportunity for the middle grades- indeed all the kids across the K-12 continuum, in comport with open enrollment in most of the elementary schools and in the high school. This seemed not to exclude the view of CPS that the various schools should be able offer options by way of what CPS called flavors-- such as language academy, math & science, et al-- but there was widespread expression that the children, or many of them, and the community has lost by the exchange of a selective enrollment middle grade program for the former Canter Middle School's open enrollment, and that this loss needs some kind of remediation.

Burns was strongly criticized for presenting the plan as seemingly "that's it" after only talking to some stakeholders, unidentified except for "CAC members". This was called not in the spirit of the CPS/Repurposing Commission publicly announced process and should have started with some kind of RFP earlier. He seemed to promise, without specifics, community input going forward. The school's transition planning process was also vague as to broader process or input beyond faculty, "parents" and the CAC.

Principal Jones spelled out what appeared to be a compelling plan for transition that takes into account most community concerns, at the June 25 CAC meeting.

ANNOUNCING A COMMUNITY ACTION COUNCIL FOR HPK SCHOOLS. It has been formed, elected interim officers, is submitting a short-term action plan, and set 4th Wednesdays 6 pm as its meeting time. Location of Kenwood Academy King room is tentative. Next meeting January 28, at tba. Website: -


CACs work to empower the community they serve to lead the improvement of local quality education. A CAC consists of 25-30 voting members who are directly involved in developing a strategic plan for educational success within their community. CAC members can include all interested parties such as: parents; elected officials; faith-based institutions; health care and community-based organizations; Local School Council members; business leaders; educators and school administrators; staff members from Chicago's Sister Agencies; community residents; and students.

There will be two tiers: those who wish to fill out applications for serving on a 22-25 member steering council, and those who wish in other ways to be involved and informed. (Council members will have to submit to a CPS background check).
And start on setting priorities for our schools.

People who feel they can make the commitment are encouraged to attend. We strongly encourage parents of children in the schools to come, since they are the primary stakeholders.

June 25, 2014 th CAC completed its organization with approval of bylaws and election of permanent officers for the next year. The meeting also had a full talk and discussion on Kenwood Academic Center transition into Canter- taking into account members concern for serving more than just the selective enrollment students of KAC-- with Kenwood Principal Greg Jones. This followed upon a previous meeting's presentation and discussion with a middle school expert. The CAC began its stategic plan with a three-part outline of priorities toward strengthening the K-12 continuum throughout the HPK schools through builiding the preschool and middle school experience and strenghtenin emotional and social supports through K-12.

Elected for June 2014-June 2015:Co-chairs Denise Hill and LaKeisha Hamilton. Secretary Jeffrey Alstadt. The June meeting approved bylaws, elected officers, and had an extensive discussion with Kenwood Principal Dr. Gregory Jones about transitioning the middle grade selective Kenwood Academic Center into the Canter building and possible enhanced options for other middle graders.

In July the CAC approved an action statement/inquiry to CPS on supports needed for middle grades.

CPS information on CAC's -

10-year facilities plan:
If you would like to read some of the draft document, the section about Hyde Park schools starts on p. 194-
For more information: Adrienne Garner at CPS: or


DATE: JULY 24, 2013
At today's Chicago Board of Education meeting Reavis Math Science and Academy and Robinson Elementary School were selected to participate in a three year program of intense supports and services. The Chicago Public Schools Office of Strategic School Support Services (OS4) will provide academic support, professional development for school leaders, teachers, LSC members, and parents. Reavis and Robinson will receive extended day programming and non-academic student supports including social-emotional, medical, and attendance.
Alderman Will Burns said, "High quality public schools are critical to building the kind of community we want in the Fourth Ward. These new investments in Reavis and Robinson will help to improve student performance and community confidence in these schools. I am committed to bringing additional resources to our neighborhood schools so that all children have access to a quality education."

A major backlash against "High Stakes Testing" is emerging. February 2014 the Murray Academy LSC passed a resolution backing a nationwide movement Time Out From Testing (here known as More Than A Score) for standardized tests not to be at least the main determinant in promotions and teacher evaluation. They see an opening this year in encouraging parents to opt-out of ISAT since it is being replaced by another test in Illinois-- why should children take both, they say. The Murray resolution passed Feb. 19 calls on all city and state parties to reexamine how test results are used and rely on tests less and "multiple forms of assessments which... more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is luse dto support stenents..." as well as an overhaul of rigidities in the Federal No Child Left Behind (languishing in Congress).

Some news bits

Ray school LSC chose interim AP Megan Thole as Principal September 18, 2014. Ms. Thole was praised as a communicator, team builder, and leader strongly supported by the teachers and after a lengthy public vetting of the many candidates, according to the Herald. She was introduced to the school community September 23 at a special LSC meeting.

Reavis Elementary Math & Science Special School (834 E. 50th St) and Jackie Robinson Elementary School (4225 S. Lake Park Ave.) were selected to participate in a three year program of intense supports and services. The Chicago Public Schools Office of Strategic School Support Services (OS4) will provide academic support, professional development for school leaders, teachers, LSC members, and parents.

Reavis Elementary Math & Science Special School and Jackie Robinson Elementary School will receive extended day programming and non-academic student supports including social-emotional, medical, and attendance.

The February 12 2013 Tribune carried a major feature on the coming impacts of raised state standards for test scores in anticpation of Common Core.
October 30 the state results were released. Among the more dismal is a correlation perceived by the Tribune between the amount of drop in a school its proportion of low-income students. Kenwood 7th-8th grade Academic Center ranked 12th statewide, clinging to 95% or better meeting state standards. No other local school stood out either for excellence or for steep or relatively little drop. Visit and search for all kinds of data (not just est scores) by school or district. Also

And in November 2014 the Consortium on Chicago School Research of UEI UC issued a report showing the the two strongest indicators of a student being on track to graduate high school and succeed later are grades and attendance, not standardized test scores.


IN LATE OCTOBER, HPKCC SCHOOLS COMMITTEE REPS SPOKE BEFORE THE BOE- CHAIR DAVID VITALE SUGGESTED FORMING A COMMUNITY ACTION COUNCIL (CAC) FOR AREA SCHOOLS PLANNING AND STRATEGIC PLAN. Perhaps this might be a way of saving Canter. A public meeting was held October 30 and organizational meeting for a CAC is tentatively set for December 4 2013.

Link to the CPS 10-year facilities plan issued May 1 2013.

General Assembly resolution May 31, 2013

Interested in reading to school kids or otherwise volunteering in Ray and other schools enrichment progams? contact Laura Shaeffer-

CPS has released an interactive budget tool on their website
Here is the chart with every school:

In the plan to close or consolidate 54 schools (school board vote May 22), CANTER MIDDLE SCHOOL WOULD CLOSE and has. Reavis and Kozminski will stay open and currently have 7th and 8th. Ray and Harte will be receiving schools-- will add 7/8 grades and keep their 7th and 8th graders and receive the students from Shoesmith and Canter. To complete list of school closings.
News about.

May 6 CPS posted reports from hearing officers- there were 14 recommendations against closings , mostly asserting that the receivng school is just as bad or for safety reasons. CTU sued over the closing of 10 schools- the ones the hearing officers opposed.
The hearing officer, Judge Gilbert J. Grossi, ret., for Canter recommended to close, although he also said he was not in a position assess whether Shoesmith's 6th grade should/could go to Canter, as the Alderman had suggsted. H prised the passionate presntation of teh caseds of th to sides. He said the board was in compliance with its own criteria.
Recommendations Links: And, Go to the CPS Quality Schools webpage and look up an individual school to see if the hearing officer's report is posted. All of the public documents regarding each school action are posted, listed next to the box which has the calendar of meetings for each school- To see what each closing is supposed to save: and look at the chart at the bottom.

So what does this mean for "welcoming" schools? Ray and Harte will get the upgrades CPS offered even though only 7th graders will come in lieu of going to Canter. This includes air conditioning, tuck pointing, and whiteboards in every classroom. Ray's principal has asked for library/media upgrades. The work means NO SUMMMER SCHOOL IN RAY OR HARTE THIS YEAR. Meanwhile, the schools are looking at middle-school curricular and culture models, including Kenwood Academic Center's, and use of a pod approach or program like "The Leader in Me" or "CHAMPS." One problem is that few of the current elementary teachers have credentials for middle school, and with Canter staying open few of those teachers will be moving. CPS will now budget schools a set amount of money er student for core instruction v. present positions based on enrollment. Harte will prepare for 8th graders for kids that from out of area who may not be allowed to return to Canter. Shoesmith does not yet have a transition plan (as of end of May).

Links to letter on effects of closures and other changes by 100+ experts to Mayor Emanuel

There is a video about Canter posted in UTube



Further findings from the HPKCC Schools committee

Facts and concerns:
Canter is considered underutilized. Some of the criteria for such a determination are questionable.

Canter is the only school which will be disbursing its current and what would have been its future students into at least two different schools.

There is a transition plan for Canter and its 3 feeder schools available at Canter, but it seems late, and sketchy as known so far.
Plans seems to especially leave what would be next year's Canter 8th graders in a situation where their learning (such as algebra) and accustoming to the high school routine are ambiguous or aborted and they will have been in 4 different schools from sixth and 9th grades.

Shoesmith's graduating 6 graders will continue to go to other schools (Harte and Ray) and a bus will stop at Shoesmith to provide transport.

How much space is available for repositioning classrooms for 7th and 8th grades in Harte and Ray, especially with the large component from Shoesmith now added, and how will this affect room, space, and resource allocation to other needs such as special needs students, other programs, labs, counseling space et al?

Exactly what support will be provided the 7th and 8th graders, and how much will 7th and 8th graders be prepared for high schools-- will they stay all day in one classroom or move around as in Canter and high schools?

What about bigger kids with little kids during recess and before and after school-- and will recess even be possible? How will the potential for gang recruitment or behavioral issues be handled?

And is there significant score disparity between the schools (they are at different levels), and how will that be addressed? Will parents of younger students look for other schools because of this disparity?

What happens to Canter's function of feeding into Kenwood's Academic Center?

What provisions will be made for Canter students from out-of-area (some of whom were allowed in years ago under Options for Knowledge programs?-- some of these are likely among the high performers at Canter-- where will they go and with what resources? Will they (whether high performing students or not) go to the "better schools" that CPS says is the destination of students displaced by closings.

1. Phase Canter out one grade at a time (keep 8th at Canter for another year)

2. Given the considerations outlined above, we believe KEEPING CANTER OPEN IS STILL THE BEST OPTION:
Keep Canter going. It seems to be working well- like a well-oiled machine that has proven successful at transitioning students from grade school to high school and addressing the special needs of students at a critical age. A lot of community of planning and local tax money went into the creation of Canter. It is a safe school. Space is allocated well. It serves especially well students who cannot get into gifted programs.
There is a problem getting parents to send to the school and or having preference for one school K-8 or that many families have by now made their choice assuming Canter is being closed- these would need to be addressed.
On the other hand, most current students strongly prefer to stay at Canter.

3. Ramp up Kenwood's Early Involvement program to serve kids at Harte, Shoesmith, and Ray to provide real, local options for children who might not get into gifted programs/Options for Knowledge, and/or
expand or change the Kenwood Academic Center to include a component of 7th-8th grade children who otherwise might not get but could be helped to catch up and be ready for high school -- partially using the present Canter building.

If Canter is to be closed: how can the present building be best used for educational and community purposes? What community-based process can be put into place to plan this?

What a community neighbor said about Canter: "Canter's ISAT scores for reading and math are consistently in the upper 70s, low 80s in terms of proficiency. This is not a failing school. Step inside the building and you will see quality student work on the walls, beautiful mosaics, and well behaved, happy, and respectful middle school students on the path to college. I believe that this school is a good school and does not deserve to be closed. Not when there are other schools who have far lower proficiency scores and poor quality learning environments. Canter is a school that deserves to be lifted up and embraced by our neighborhood."

Rep Currie on the delay of closure of Canter. May 24, 2013

I am pleased that the members of the Chicago Board of Education agreed with our community and with me that it makes no sense to deny Canter Middle School seventh graders the chance to finish their eighth-grade year in place. Closing the school now would have meant major dislocations for the current seventh-grade class. They left their home schools in September and will change schools again next year when they finish eighth grade and move on to high school. Most of the current crop of seventh graders would not even have had the option of returning to their home schools next fall had Canter closed this year.

I'm grateful, too, for the energy and the hard work our local school advocates, HPCares, displayed on behalf of the Canter children and on behalf of children across the city. I hope that during this phase-out year the Board will continue discussions with the community. I've joined both HPCares and the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference in suggesting that Canter stay open permanently. Perhaps we should set our sights on Canter as a full middle school, covering students in grades six through eight, rather than just grades seven and eight. It's fair to say that, in the beginning, enrollment at Canter was slow to pick up steam. But today, by all accounts, the school is an academic success and a credit to the community.

Wednesday was a sad day for the 50 schools on the CPS closing list and for the communities those schools serve. I am glad that common sense prevailed for Canter, and that this year's seventh graders will be able to finish middle school without facing the specter of yet another new school next fall. Four schools in four years is not a prescription for stability, and it's not a prescription for academic success.

(This is from Rep. Currie's statement in April)

I share the concern voiced by many in the community about the Chicago Board of Education’s preliminary decision to close Canter Middle School. In terms of becoming the first choice for area middle-schoolers, Canter did not completely live up to its hope and its promise. But by all accounts the school is vibrant, academically sound and a credit to the community.

The eighth-graders at Canter will finish school in June and then make their individual ways to high school. But what about the seventh-graders? The current Chicago Public Schools philosophy stresses continuity and likes schools that cover the entire elementary school waterfront, from kindergarten through eighth grade. Middle schools are no longer the preferred model. In looking at the list of Canter seventh-graders, however, it’s clear that closing the school before they enter eighth grade is to consign most of them to a complete lack of continuity. They left their home schools in September. Most will not be returning to those schools for eighth grade. Harte and Ray are the receiving schools for the Canter youngsters, but only 19 of the 105 Canter seventh-graders started out at either Harte or Ray.

The largest number of students — 38 — came to Canter from Shoesmith. Under the current CPS plan, they can’t go back to Shoesmith. Nearly 30 of the youngsters came from schools in Woodlawn, South Shore and other parts of the city. All of these students have one more year of elementary school. They left their home school for a year, they’ve had one year at Canter, most will find themselves in yet a third school before they embark upon a fourth school, the high school they will enter after the next academic year.

This isn’t good for continuity. And I can’t believe that this much disruption will provide these youngsters with the best education our public schools have to offer. I have urged the Chicago Board of Education to keep Canter open at least for the next academic year — and to reconsider the decision to close Canter at all.

Editor’s note: This column appeared in the April 10 edition of the Hyde Park Herald and Rep. Currie has since sent it out via email.

Statement of the Paul Douglas Alliance on School Closings (PDA is a group of Aldermen including Will Burns (4th) that has spit off from the Progressive Alliance and is more aligned with the Mayor). (also, see Ald. Burns and Dowell on this Chicago Tonight feed (gives a much clearer picture of where they stand and what they have been doing in the crisis- )

Last week the Chicago Public Schools announced its plans to close or consolidate 54 elementary schools.

While not all members of teh Alliance face the issue of school closings in their individual wards, several members do. Moreover, we understand the importance of public education in a democratic society, for equality, and Chicago's economic competitiveness.We have witnessed parent and community residents describe their fears of the impact of the Chicago Board of Education's planned closings. We want high quality public schools for every child in the City of Chicago. We are also painfully aware that the Chicago Public Schools faces a budget deficit of $1 billion, no reserves, and continued reductions in state adn federal funding.

We strongly encourage the Chicago Board of Education to carefully sift through evidence provided by community residents and leaders for removing schools from the proposed closure list.

We strongly encourage the Chicago Board of Education to work with the community to plan either the adaptive reuse or redevelopment of closed school buildings and to execute those options as soon as possible.

We strongly entourage to Board of Education to ensure that welcoming schools have the resources necessary to improve educational performance and create strong school cultures critical to learning.

We strongly encourage the Board of education to listen to community concerns regarding public safety, an to create school attendance boundaries and safe passage programs to mitigate the spector of gang violence.

Given that the Chicago Public Schools' fiscal challenge are a driver to close elementary schools, we strongly encourage the Chicago Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union to build a statewide campaign to state support for public education. Article X of the Illinois Constitution states that the state has the primary responsibility of financing education, yet state funding of public schools has continued to decline . And also encourage the governor ant the legislature to find a sustainable and realistic approach to increasing state funding for public education.

We strongly encourage the United States Congress and th President of the United States to fully fund any and all federal education mandates.

Finally, we are committed to supporting great neighborhood schools in every community of our city.

State Sen. Kwame Raoul's statement to Hyde Park Herald April 10, 2013

Apr 10, 2013
Canter deserves another look
hph2012 / Guest Columns, Political Reports / 0 Comment


As a lifelong Hyde Park resident and parent, I am keenly concerned by the decision to close Canter Middle School, the product of a community vision for our neighborhood’s middle school students.

It is not my place as a state legislator to micromanage the affairs of any school district, even our state’s largest. I understand the challenges the Chicago Public Schools face today. Demographic shifts have left some school buildings half-empty, while diminished state funding and hard economic times continue to take a toll on the district’s budget.

Meanwhile, the stakes couldn’t be higher for our city’s students, who will soon be forced to compete in an increasingly demanding job market. I appreciate the need to make tough decisions in order to maximize the dollars available to educate each student.

But it is my role as a community member and leader to advocate for the local institutions that serve our young people. I believe CPS should look at Canter’s trajectory and potential, not just a snapshot of its utilization. Throughout the process of making Canter a school focused on the unique educational needs of seventh and eighth grade students, the Hyde Park community pulled together with a bold vision. The program has been growing steadily, and CPS should give the Canter experiment time to bear fruit. At a time when CPS increasingly looks to options such as magnet and charter schools, closing innovative community schools with strong local backing can only take the district in the wrong direction.

In 2009, the General Assembly created the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force to recommend best practices for gathering public input and applying clear, consistent criteria to closure and turnaround decisions. Albeit with continual pressure from state and local sources, opportunities for public comment have increased and improved, though there is still much work to be done. Yet the rationale driving the final closure list released in March is still unclear. With my fellow lawmakers, I will continue pushing CPS to undertake school actions fairly, openly and in a way that minimizes disruptions to students, families and neighborhoods.

The law creating the task force states that the General Assembly’s intent is to “make the individual school in the City of Chicago the essential unit for educational governance and improvement and to place the primary responsibility … in the hands of parents, teachers and community residents at each school.”

It is this school-level and neighborhood-level perspective that was missing from the decision to close Canter. I’m encouraged that our Hyde Park community is pulling together, once again, for Canter Middle School. Civic engagement will always be a necessary ingredient in quality education. May our children learn citizenship and leadership from our fight for their future.

Will Burns to the Herald, April 17, 2013

We Should Delay Canter Closure

I attended the public meeting held Monday, April 8, 2013 to listen to the concerns of the Canter School community. I wanted to hear from the community so that I could, as alderman, amplify those concerns to the Chicago Board of Education. I have worked to save many of the schools, eight in total, that have been listed as underutilized and underperforming by the Chicago Public schools. These include grammar schools that serve Hyde Park, Kenwood, Grand Boulevard and North Kenwood/Oakland. I will continue to work with the community and CPS to improve the quality of neighborhood schools in the Fourth Ward.

In the best of all possible worlds, no Chicago Public Schools would close. Schools closings are difficult for administrators, staff and teachers but more importantly, children. But we must also be cognizant of the challenging financial situation facing public education in Chicago and throughout the state. CPS spent down all of its reserves to balance the budget. It now faces a $1 billion budget deficit. Additionally, CPS confronts these budgetary constraints a time when both the federal and state government have reduced funding for public schools, and the short term forecast for additional federal and state funding for public schools is extraordinarily bleak.

It is clear, however, that we do not live in the best of possible worlds. Given Canter's population trends an long-term performance I do not oppose the closing of Canter School. I do believe and have strongly encouraged CPS to phase Canter out over time so that the seventh graders have the option to complete their eight grade year ar the school. The phase out will also provide additional time for planning the return of seventh and eighth grades at the receiving schools.

Herald editorial March 27- `

Herald editorial March 27, 2013

If Chicago Public Schools administrators have their way, t his will be the last school year Canter Middle school remains open. It was listed as one of more than 50 schools CPS announced would close last week because of underutilization. CPS is broke, we are told, and maintaining underused buildings will mean fewer programs for the students in them.

There may be school buildings in the CPS portfolio that are nearly empty, but Canter, 4[9]59 S. Blackstone Ave., is not one of them.

Several years ago, Canter was turned into a middle school into which all elementary schools in the neighborhood would feed. In making the case for this dramatic change (7th and 8th grade programs that were popular with many parents had to be closed in these schools), we were regaled with study after study explaining the specail needs of middle school-aged students and the value of an environment tailor-made for them. Local political leadership and public schools officials urged us to trust them.

Some six or seven years later, these students wil now be shuttled to Ray and Bret Harte elementary schools. Apparently, how middle school-aged children learn matters less to the current leadership, or the folks who were making the case when Canter was developed were wrong. Either way, it's a game of musical chairs these students cannot afford to play.

The negative effects of being moved to a new school on learning are so well-documented at this point that it should be a decision of absolute last resort. The network of support that parents, teachers and --most importantly --students develop in their school community is irreplaceable. Over time, new ties will be established, but inevitably teh damage has been done.

Sadly, the priorities of the decision-makers who oversee our public schools are more bottom-line-oriented than education-oriented. At the very least, we would hope that a "do no harm" to students ethos would be a reasonable expectation from education officials. Obviously, that is not the case.

Canter is a school alive with learning, with a dedicated staff of educators committed to making every day rich and rewarding for the children in their charge. We have an obligation as a community to support these teachers, who include our own neighbors and folks who have been teaching in our schools for years and even decades. In short we must fight for Canter.

Plans are presented as a "done deal" so routinely in our city that some residents have come to despair of having any input on important decisions. But careful students of how politics really happen here realize that with enough pressure, noise and press, many decisions are eventually -- often quietly -- reversed that are initially presented as inevitable. Let's make their decision to close Canter one of those decisions.

Then, once we reverse that decision, let's take a good, hard look at a few of our own. This school is slated for closure because its student population of 228 is well below the 390 that CPS thinks should be enrolled there. Setting aside for a moment the contentious issue of class size, we ned to confront the open secret in our neighborhood that m any parents do not see Canter as a viable option for their middle school-aged children. Why is that? And what can we do to rectify it?

We are stewards of the public schools in our community. Our responsibility to them and the children that learn in them is redoubled when CPS administrators try to take an axe to them. Let's treat this as a wake-up call.

Let's fight for Canter.

A local teacher in an accompanying letter said tha the school as not underutilized and had a good program. There were bad breaks, CPS limited resources and reneging on promises, insufficient support from (in effect the TIF), prejudiced and uniformed parents- plenty of shame to go around. And the kids may not get the special attention they need in their receiving schools. April 2, 2013


Staff Writer

Hyde Park parents, teachers, students and community members gathered Monday at the first of two Chicago Public Schools (CPS) community meetings to urge the district to keep Canter Middle School open.

On March 21, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced that several schools across the city, including Canter, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave., would be closed next school year due, in most part, to underutilization and balancing the CPS budget. More than 100 community members showed up to the meeting, which was held Monday evening at Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., to protest the proposed school closing.

Colleen Conlan, principal at Canter, said the school is currently working with a coordinator appointed by CPS to create a transition plan should the board decide to close the school and move the students to Ray Elementary School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., and Bret Harte Elementary School, 1556 E. 56th St. She said there was mention that the Canter building would be used as a parent university center but she has not heard anything else about the future plans for the building.

Community members spoke to a 3-person CPS advisory panel during the meeting. They said that they were sticking with CPS’s first plan that Hyde Park needs a middle school.

“10 years ago the board of education paid experts and administrators to come in and tell us about the importance of having a middle school,” said Camille Hamilton-Doyle, co-chairwoman of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Schools Committee and Canter local school council (LSC) member. “They sold us on middle school and we went for it – now your saying we don’t need it?”

Lena Fritz, Shoesmith LSC member, said the hearings are an insult to the community.

“Community members have been working hard to lift up our schools,” Fritz said. “This is a hearing without exchange or dialogue about questions we have. We should be the ones listening to your pitch not the other way around.”

Hannah Hayes, parent of a Ray Elementary and Canter Middle School alum, said, for its purpose, Canter is not underutilized.

“When my son was in 6th grade at Ray we found out the school was losing 7th and 8th grade, we were told middle school would be better,” Hayes said. “Four CEOs later we’re being told K through 8 is better. I wish the board would use its own rhetoric. Canter is right-sized.”

Patrick Papczun, a new teacher at Canter who was an architect before coming to the school, said Canter did not get a fair examination.

“[Canter] is a great place that is doing so many things right but no one has come to see what we do, their opinion of us is based on what they hear,” Papczun said. “There is now someone coming out three times a week to make sure we don’t steal stuff and we still teach. How insulting. No one was coming before.”

Teachers, administrators and parents said the special needs of middle school students during the young adolescent phase could be detrimental to learning if overlooked.

“Middle school was a right of passage,” said Chantell Allen, a Ray Elementary School parent who teaches at a different middle school. “Exposing kids to a 7th and 8th school culture and then sending them back to the babies is not right.”

Bessie Tsitsopoules, school social worker at Canter, said she is concerned about the academic and social emotional state of the students who may be moved out of Canter.

“When you take school relationships away from them grades go down because of instability,” Tsitsopoules said. “Without relationships, education doesn’t work.”
Walter Winsor, math teacher and 8th grade homeroom teacher, said many K-8 schools ask teachers to teach several different subjects whether they are strong in them or not.

The next CPS community meeting to discuss the proposed closing of Canter will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 12 at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. “The Canter staff is stronger than it has ever been – they are experts in their fields,” Winsor said. “When I applied to other schools they wanted me to teach math and language arts. I know nothing about language arts. I am a math teacher. That is what [Canter students] are going to have at other schools.”

Canter students also spoke to the CPS panelists on behalf of keeping their schools open.

Nelson Williams, 7th grader at Canter, said he is a straight A student who is doing well in school because Canter is a middle school and it should be “kept alive.”
“At first I wasn’t excited about going to Canter until they said it was only a 7th and 8th grade school,” Williams said. “I liked the building, the lunches and teachers … my best friend is there. If Canter closes I won’t be able to take algebra.”

Conlan said academic supports – especially for math – are extremely important at the middle school level.

“Algebra is the gatekeeper class in high school,” Conlan said after the meeting. “Most students fail and if you fail algebra in high school you will most likely go on to fail other math courses. If you pass in middle school you tend to do better in high school.”

Reagan Allen, 8th grader at Canter, said he received the support he needed to become a better student at Canter.

“When I fist came to Canter I was a lost soul. It turned my education around when my teachers started to believe in me,” Allen said. “If you close Canter so many other souls won’t be able to be helped.”

Samara Spencer, 8th grader at Canter, said she receives the care and attention she needs at Canter.

“The teacher are loving, caring [and] helpful with troubles,” Spencer said. “They even take time after school to make sure we understand what we are learning so we can pass the class.”

Dianna Richardson, 8th grader at Canter, said Canter is like a second home to her.

“My sister and aunt also went there. It was like home,” Richardson said. “The teachers are like a second set of parents. They push me to do better. Canter is a community that sticks together; it is a place to learn and feel loved.”

Pamela Williams, parent of children at Canter and Bret Harte, said a change in schools could mean a change in citizen dynamics in the community.

Williams said her children and many of the other families in the neighborhood volunteer at the school, take advantage of free family programs and lectures at the University of Chicago and join local athletic teams because they are all nearby.

Dylan Cole, community member, said she decided to come to the meeting because she’s tired of hearing about all the changes CPS is putting neighborhood schools through.

“What you do with public schools has an effect on my house,” Cole said. “I’ve been hearing all this stuff on the news and researching for myself. I pay five figures in taxes on my home. Stop playing with theories and go back to full education.”

Donna Hart, Canter parent, said the closing of Canter might mean her family will have to leave Chicago.

“I moved to Chicago two years ago from Minnesota,” Hart said. “If Canter closes I have no other option but to uproot and go back to Minnesota. I don’t want my daughter on the frontline of transition issues.”

Leslie Travis, librarian at Ray who lives near Canter, said she is concerned about how an unused building would affect the community.

“The school does a good job patrolling outside before and after school,” Travis said. “I am concerned about an empty building near Kenwood High School and Blackstone Library. We need to keep the space alive and vibrant so the community can send their kids to school here.”

Angela Paranjape, community member, said Mayor Rahm Emanuel is misusing his authority over the public education system.

“Where are Shoesmith 7th and 8th graders going to go, how many teaching positions will be available, how do I know [Canter students] are going to take algebra when only two kids are moved to Bret Harte or Ray when we have a full class here at Canter?” Paranjape said. “Emanuel is not using his public responsibility to make it what [University of Chicago] Lab School is. He is squashing down public school kids so his kids have no competition.”

Community member Victoria Long said none of the public schools in Chicago should be closing.

“This whole process is flawed. There is no dialogue but none of us have the power to really change things,” Long said. “I hope Rahm knows that the voters of this city are going to remember this.”

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said she was never consulted when CPS recommended that Canter be closed and the children be sent to schools in her ward. She said she just met with Thursday Burnham Park area school chief John Price and Byrd-Bennett Thursday and was not informed that the Ray principal and vice principal would be escorted out of the school, for reasons Price will not comment on.

“I was elected to represent people who live in the 5th ward,” Hairston said. “We will not allow you to disrespect us. We will speak with our voice and our votes.”
After thunderous applause the crowd began to chant and urge Ald. Will Burns (4th) to speak but he declined. About 20 to 30 minutes later the chants for Burns to speak arose again but he had already left the meeting.

A few parents offered alternative solutions to closing Canter.

Gordon Mayer, Ray parent and Ray LSC chairman, said he’d prefer that Canter not be closed but if it must be then CPS should phase out 7th and 8th grades at Canter while phasing in 7th and 8th grades at Ray.

Ray parent Laura Shaeffer said there might be a way that CPS’s new plans for Canter can coexist with the existing plan.

“Keep Canter open and the parent university could be open in the evenings,” Shaeffer said. “All underutilized schools could be more creative in how space is used and share with community organizations.”

The support for Canter moved Conlan to tears.

“I appreciate the community parents and feeder schools for their support,” Conlan said. “Middle school is so important socially and emotionally at this age. They need special attention for different issues.”

The panel will take notes from the hearing back to Byrd-Bennett and the board will vote on whether Canter should be closed at their May 22 meeting.

The next CPS community meeting to discuss the proposed closing of Canter will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 12 at Kenwood High School. A final public hearing will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17 at CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark St.

Make your case for keeping Canter open, email

This draws from HERALD FEATURE historical analysis by Daschell Phillips April 10- Will Canter's past guide future? CPS puts Hyde Park's middle school experiment under the gun.

January 23 it was announced CPS approved establishment of the new middle school and its "global Village". It was changed from being for students bussed in to taking for several feeders adn in turn being a feeder into Kenwood. The name was changed from Wirth to Canter (Miriam had fought to keep the school open in the past). One purpose was to alleviate over crowding at the feeders. Another was to create a continuity K-12 option and so keep kids in the neighborhood while serving the special needs of middle school agers, provide more rigor, and reduce conflicts between age groups. But serious setbacks at the school and refusal of many parents to send kids to Canter (culminating in magnet school Murray restarting its 7th and 8th grades) and delay or failure in CPS investing in capital and programs there sabotaged the hopes for several years. They did get several CPS and eventually TIF-funded upgrades. A high proportion of students continued to come from outside (CPS said not enough). Scores lagged and the the school was put on probation. Eventually a new principal reorganized the school day and regimen and curriculum more on high school lines hired a top-notch faculty and things and scores improved.

What is promised if the closure goes through? Each receiving school will have a coordinator. Teachers in tier 2 or higher of qualification can move from Canter to the new schools (though they can't be in both and may also have to teach specialties they are not trained for). There will be algebra, though the ability for it to be comprehensive has been questioned. The kids may be stuck all day in one classroom per grade at the new school. ipad's and air conditioning are offered as inducements.

Another Herald piece, online:

The Herald commended a letter from Timuel Black supporting Canter and giving long-range historical context. This will probably appear in the April 24 Herald.

Curtis Black's blog NewsTips- start of a 3-part series:


The Case for Keeping Canter Middle School Open

Executive Summary

A thorough examination has been undertaken by the Hyde Park/Kenwood community. Based on the best and fullest quantitative and qualitative data available, a strong case for keeping Canter Middle School open has emerged. Based on this analysis, the recommendation is not only to allow Canter to remain open, but also to fully support this building, which is uniquely poised to take on the mission laid out by the mayor and the CPS CEO. The following nineteen-page document lays out that case in great detail; the most salient points are highlighted immediately below.

Non-Compliance with State Law
State law (105 ILCS 5/34232 new) requires that notice of all school actions be given to affected schools and families by March 31, 2013. Well after this absolute deadline, all notifications about the Canter-Ray-Bret Harte action failed to make any mention of the current sixth grade students at Shoesmith Elementary. If Canter is closed, these students will need to find another place to attend school. No plan was put in place by the required deadline. If CPS moves forward with this action, CPS will place itself in legal jeopardy. For this reason alone, it is strongly recommended that CPS cease and desist with this proposed action.

Poised for the Future (Common Core)
According to the CPS Board and Mayor Emanuel, the primary goal of CPS is to prepare our students for college and careers. Canter is one of a handful of schools that was chosen to be an early adopter of the Common Core State Standards, which CPS is using as its main lever to promote college and career readiness. Canter has done much work in this area and is better situated than most schools to move forward with this agenda. In fact, for years Canter has sent its graduates to selective enrollment high schools and, from thence, to institutions of higher education. Canter appears to be highly competitive in regards to this primary mission; indeed, CPS may be closing one of its most effective schools. Unfortunately, CPS has not provided the relevant data to fully judge this claim. In the absence of this data, it is strongly recommended that the Board err on the side of caution when considering these school actions.

Miscounted Utilization
One of the primary arguments for closing Canter is underutilization. CPS’ formula puts Canter at 58% ideal utilization. That assumes 30 students per classroom and 13 available classrooms. However, if we closely follow federal law in regards to special education and counseling services, then there are only 12 such classrooms. Furthermore, only 25 middle school students (bigger bodies!) can safely fit in such rooms. The proper calculation, then, is 25 times 12, yielding an expected population of 300 students. With 228 students, Canter is currently 76% utilized—only 4% below the safe-harbor target of 80%. Moreover, Canter’s population has been growing over the past two years. Based on current trends, Canter would reach safe harbor in two years.


Making the case for keeping Canter Middle School open

Canter Middle School is a key school in this community and one among 54 proposed to be closed with very serious consequences for our children. It is clear from teh testimony over the last few weeks that Canter is a school that works--for the students and the other schools in the area. Members of Hyde Park Community Area Residents Empowering Schools (HPCARES) have been working to right CPS's mistake.

Prior to announcing the school closings, members of HPCARES attended the utilization commission hearings, the network meetings, the legally mandated meetings and the final hearing at CPS. No dialogue took place at any of those meetings. In fact, the process seemed designed to discourage rather than encourage input. Questions go unanswered and remain unanswered.

In August, in an effort to have more input, we asked for a Community Action Council (CAC) for our area. We were told that the CAC was no longer a model CPS supports.

Since the announcement, the community--teachers, current students, parents, alumni of Canter and members of the Hyde Park/Kenwood community who care about strong neighborhood schools -- have come together to support Canter and the other schools directly impacted by Canter's proposed closing: Ray, Bret Harte and Shoesmith.

At the CPS hearing, HPCARES put forth a strong case for Canter, addressing the misperceptions concerning utilization and performance. Further testimony spoke to the lack of transparency in the process and the utter lack of a cohesive plan--particularly for Shoesmith, the unnamed school in the action--and the importance of middle schools. We submitted written evidence covering multiple reasons Canter should stay open.

HPCARES proposed a concrete plan to ensure Canter is fully utilized: make Shoesmith a K through 5 school and Canter a 6, 7, 8 middle school. This would allow Shoesmith to have two kindergarten clauses instead of just one kindergarten class and two classes at all other grade levels. (This year, Shoesmith had more than 40 kindergartners enroll at the school, which forced the school to have one kindergarten class and two split K-1 classes to accommodate for the large number.) If Shoesmith could become a K though 5 school, it would become a more balanced school with the same number of classes in each grade level.

Canter's enrollment would increase. Families would have access to schools for children at every grade level within a three-block academic campus. Children could continue to benefit from teh Shoesmith/Canter/Kenwood continuum that has served the community well for generations.

We have m et with our elected officials a number of times. But the one elected official who truly holds the power here is Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has not attended any community meetings. Disappointed, indeed outraged by thee inaction of our elected leaders*, and above all, the deafness of our mayor, we will continue to act on behalf of our neighborhood schools.

The closing of Canter would be an injustice to students, families and to Chicago's communities. With a family atmosphere, a strong educational experience, solid pedagogy nd a committed team of administrators and teachers, Canter is helping its students achieve great things. Canter is a safe school in a safe neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Canter should remain open.

*See the statements by officials above. All but Ald. Burns (the alderman of Canter) too strong positions against closing Canter.

News about the closing proposals

May 6 CPS posted reports from hearing officers- there were 10-14 recommendations against closings , mostly asserting that the receivng school is just as bad or for safety reasons.
The hearing officer for Canter recommended acceptance or rec. to close, although he also rec'd acceptance of moving Shoesmith 6th grade to Canter, said the Alderman opposed closing and praised the arguments given for Canter. Link:
Shoesmith will offer 7th grade this fall, not just Harte and Ray.

Both dailies express skeptism on closures, esp. the "13", savings and other related matters.

The state legislators may be asking CPS officials to testify May 20 in Springfield. There is also a campaign to call one's legislator.

Marches are planned- see and

Will resources by lost by schools due to closings- and what about non-receiving schools?

Reflections on closings by a HP mother, Hannah Hayes:

Want to talk to someone at CPS? The Burnham network is holding open hours Tues 9-10 and Fri 4-6 when they don't have hearings- should confirm with office (find in CPS website).
To schedule a meeting with a member of the Board- call CPS Deputy Chief of Staff Cara Kranz 773 553-5732.

While activist groups continue to seek at least a moratorium on the school closure plan, locals are focused on keeping Canter open (or, following Rep. Currie's suggestion of at minimum keeping the current 7th graders there another year) and on impacts on Harte and Ray. (THE MATTER WAS COMPLICATED BY REMOVAL AND REASSIGNMENT OF RAY'S PRINCIPAL AND ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL, with former Ray principal Cydney Fields taking over as chief administrator.)
A LARGE CROWD ATTENDED THE FIRST PUBLIC COMMUNITY MEETING ON THE CLOSURE OF CANTER. These included a large part of the student body (some in tears) and parents. A large suite was given of cogent reasons for keeping this school (and a option for continuity of education in the neighborhood open for Hyde Park ) and it was unanimous.
NOTABLE WAS ALDERMAN HAIRSTON'S STATEMENT: She said she had not been consulted about nor did she approve the school closures. She did meet the previous Thursday with Dr. Byrd-Bennett and Burnham Collaborative Network chief Tom Price, but they had not informed her of the imminent removal of the Ray principal, and held an information and introduction meeting at Ray without the presence of the Alderman, the elected official. She said she and the residence would remember the disrespect she said she was shown and voices would be heard including at the polls.
Alderman Burns came into the gym for a while but did not speak.

As of April 16, although matters are in flux, we have reliable word that CPS is giving serious consideration to phasing in the closing of Canter and establishment of 7th and 8th grades at Harte and Ray. It is quite likely that Ray will open only 7th grade for the year 2013-14.


Education Scholars Agree Chicago School Closures Are Ill-Advised and Unsupported by Data An Open Letter of Concern to
Mayor Rahm Emanuel,
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett
and the Chicago School Board

We, the undersigned, call upon the Chicago Board of Education to reject the closing of 54 schools at
their May meeting, and instead, to implement reforms that are guided by solid research and by a
vision of public education that offers every child the very best that our city has to offer. We also urge
consulting with the professors in CReATE, who bring both scholarly and practical expertise on these
Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education (CReATE), a network of over
100 professors from numerous Chicago-area universities who specialize in educational research, has
reviewed the literature on school closures and conducted an analysis of newly released data to
critically assess Chicago Public Schools arguments to justify school closures and to gain a better
understanding of what Chicago residents can expect from massive school closures. The history of
previous school closures and school actions reveal that closures negatively impact academic
performance and create more hardship for communities already suffering from social
abandonment. Our findings do not support CPS’ arguments for closing schools and we conclude that
school closures will contribute to a separate and unequal educational system in Chicago. To access
the research brief, go to: Loading...

1. (Primary Contact) Stephanie Farmer, Roosevelt University, 312-341-3746
2. Ann Aviles de Bradley, Northeastern Illinois University
3. William Ayers, University of Illinois at Chicago
4. Timuel Black, City Colleges of Chicago
5. Leslie Bloom, Roosevelt University
6. Lynn Boyle, Loyola University Chicago
7. Sumi Cho, DePaul University
8. Nell Cobb, DePaul University
9. Ashley Covington, Western Illinois University
10. Winifred Curran, DePaul University
11. Vince Cyboran, Roosevelt University
12. Kathleen DeCourcey, Oakton College
13. Gloria Delaney- Barmann, Western Illinois University
14. Alton Dubois, Concordia University Chicago
15. John Duffy, National Louis University
16. Aisha El-Amin, University of Illinois at Chicago
17. Karin Evans, College of DuPage
18. Miguel Fernández, Chicago State University
19. Erik S. Gellman, Roosevelt University
20. Christine George, Loyola Uniersity Chicago
21. Christina Gomez, Northeastern Illinois University
22. Judith Gouwens, Roosevelt University
23. Susan Grossman, Loyola University Chicago
24. Michelle Guittar, Northeastern Illinois University
25. Horace Hall, DePaul University
26. Martinique Haller, Roosevelt University
27. Leslye Hess, Harper College
28. Marta Hidegkuti, Truman College
29. Susan Hildebrandt, Illinois State University
30. Marvin Hoffman, University of Chicago
31. Brian Horn, Illinois State University
32. Diane Horwitz, DePaul University
33. Andrea Hyde, Western Illinois University
34. Virginia Jagla, National Louis University
35. Patricia Jarvis, Illinois State University
36. Valerie Johnson, DePaul University
37. Aisha Karim, St. Xavier University
38. Susan Katz, Roosevelt University
39. Bill Kennedy, University of Chicago
40. Michael Klonsky, DePaul University
41. Pamela Konkol, Concordia University Chicago
42. Aimee Krall-Lanoue, Concordia University Chicago
43. Kevin Kumashiro, University of Illinois at Chicago
44. Jeffrey Kuzmic, DePaul University
45. Emily Labarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
46. Tim Lacy, Loyola University Chicago
47. Anthony Laden, University of Illinois at Chicago
48. Mark Larson, National Louis University
49. Crystal Laura, Chicago State University
50. Robert Lee, Illinois State University
51. Miranda Lin, Illinois State University
52. Pauline Lipman, University of Illinois at Chicago
53. Kara Lycke, Illinois State University Loading...54. Christine Malcom, Roosevelt University
55. Kimberly McCord, Illinois State University
56. Kathleen McInerney, St. Xavier University
57. Michael McIntyre, DePaul University
58. Elizabeth Meadows, Roosevelt University
59. Erica Meiners, Northeastern Illinois University
60. Jack Metzgar, Roosevelt University
61. Gregory Michie, Concordia University Chicago
62. Amy Millikan, University of Chicago
63. Laura Mills, Roosevelt University
64. Deb Miretsky, Western Illinois University
65. Jackie Mott, Harper College
66. Mark Nagasawa, Erikson Institute
67. Judi Nitsch, Harper College
68. Sean Noonan, Harper College
69. Isabel Nuñez, Concordia University Chicago
70. Tammy Oberg de la Garza, Roosevelt University
71. Ellen O’Brien, Roosevelt University
72. Tema Okun, National Louis University
73. Paulette Pennington-Jones, City Colleges of Chicago
74. Kate Phillippo, Loyola University Chicago
75. William Pierros, Concordia University Chicago
76. Laura Pollom, Concordia University Chicago
77. Todd Alan Price, National Louis University
78. Amira Proweller, DePaul University
79. Isaura Pulido, Northeastern Illinois University
80. Deborah L. Puntenney, Northwestern University
81. Therese Quinn, University of Illinois at Chicago
82. Dale Stephanie Ray, University of Chicago
83. Hector Reyes, Harold Washington College
84. Veronica M. Richard, Concordia University Chicago
85. Maryse Richards, Loyola University Chicago
86. Harry Ross, National Louis University
87. Brian Schultz, Northeastern Illinois University
88. Eric Schuster, Loyola University Chicago
89. Skylah Sensahrae, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
90. Amy Shuffleton, Loyola University Chicago
91. William Sites, University of Chicago
92. Elizabeth Skinner, Illinois State University
93. Christopher Skrable, Loyola University Chicago
94. Noah W. Sobe, Loyola University Chicago
95. Sonia Soltero, DePaul University 96. David Stovall, University of Illinois at Chicago
97. John Evar Strid, Northern Illinois University
98. Simeon Stumme, Concordia University Chicago
99. Gabrielle Toth, Chicago State University
100. Jacqueline Trademan, Northeastern Illinois University
101. Victoria Trinder, University of Illinois at Chicago
102. Rebecca Trueman, Concordia University Chicago
103. Richard Uttich, Roosevelt University
104. Federico Waitoller, University of Illinois at Chicago
105. Heidi Weiman, John Hancock University
106. Norman Weston, National Louis University
107. Judith Wittner, Loyola University Chicago

The next regular Schools Committee meeting is tba 7 pm,1448 E. 53rd St. Blackstone entry.

Visit an op-ed on Kenwood as a model by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle in the Kenwood Academy page.

Hyde Park Schools: Herald convenes schools help and involvement mtg -read about and links. MATERIAL IS NOW IN ITS OWN PAGE, HYDE PARK SCHOOLS.
Race to Nowhere was screened March 10.

To page contents Currie/Raoul letter to Huberman on selective admissions rules Bulletins: school cuts, marches

College scholarships are available- see in Educational Resources.

Related site pages
Note: News of/from individual schools: News of Schools, Kenwood, Canter.
Discussions of relations of students and business and gulf between youth and adults in Hyde Park are in Community/Business and Students/Youth, Kenwood, and News of Schools/Kenwood pages. Discussion of students and the 2005 robberies/batteries is in the Robberies and Community Safety pages. Charter school discussion is in UC and Schools.

To Schools Hot Topics
To Hyde Park Schools Initiative
To Schools Committee and schools home page. Visit page about Feb. 23 2010 Awards Cer. and Forum
To Education Resources
To access After school and other Kids offering and HPKCC Youth Programs Database in PDF A major project of the Schools Committee
To a more complete description of the CPS After School/Office of Extended Learning Opportunities programs (separate page).
To Promise Zones, Proposal for Dev'tal Assets-building in our schools, Community Schools, Defining Excellence
To Schools Directory with missions, descriptions, vitae;
Hyde Park Area Schools Contacts
(in its own page)
To LSC meeting schedule, council rosters, elections
To Some School and Student Award and Recognitions
To Renaissance 2010 and now-abandoned Mid South plans description, discussions, controversy. CPS 2010 website:
To Schools Tests and Rankings- citywide 2005 results, scores/ analysis. What does the 2006 surge mean?
To News of and from various schools
To Canter page
To Kenwood Academy page
To Murray-Nichols additions Dedication.

To University of Chicago school initiatives, teacher opportunities, charter schools (navigate to subpages there on charters, research results.)
To Chicago Metro History Fair page
To Chicago Academic Games League Program of HPKCC
To Tracking Community Trends I
(-Schools. What the schools face and need for improvement)

Registrations, classes, and open houses, benefits scholarships; magnet schools. Scholarships available

and shorts: Kenwood principal selection School day
Herald, others push for schools help, improvement after turnaround lecture- See in its own page, Hyde Park Schools Initiative
Severe cuts, no state budget-kids march in HP
Changes passed to makeup of lscs
Kenwood- dealing with budget blues: views
7th, 8th grades back at Murray, and what about Canter? (see more in Canter page)
More fight than reform
? 2008 wrap up.
Of local probation,
certain schools seemingly stuck on hold, and attendance and what schools are doing about it:
Do new magnet rules make the situation worse?
State makes deep slashes in early, mental, afterschool education and not paying bills since July 2009
PACs- encouraged but constrained?
Should Murray re-establish a middle school? Done
Stimulus funds reported. More. Kenwood Brotherhood publishes
Why Freshmen on Track matters
UC April 2009 forum and schools
Legislators blast CPS on new non-race standards, new magnet rules
Rep. Meeks initiatives- that to end LSC powers bombs
Some thoughts on achieving improvement and the hassle of getting kids into good schools.
The debates continue... including those who advocate enrichment and creative over unbalanced reliance on high-stakes testing and teacher pay for high scores (and good teachers fleeing the poor schools?)


Being involved in our schools and taking advantage of resources out there (See After School page) It's called the "Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the arts."


Hyde Park Community Action Council for Schools. 4th Wednesdays 6 pm. Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone. But Juen 25 at Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell.

Next HPKCC Schools Committee meeting June 19, Thursday, 5:30 pm at 5221 S. Blackstone.


List and Burns statement


Burns' statement on 4th Ward closings March 22 2013

Today the Chicago Public Schools announced its planned school actions. For several weeks the Bronzeville Community Action Council (BCAC), Alderman Pat Dowell, and I have engaged CPS in a negotiations regarding these planned school actions. Our purpose for negotiating with CPS was to mitigate damage from planned school actions on the community and to preserve and enhance critical neighborhood schools on the mid-South Side. We believe that we have achieved that goal. Of the eleven (11) schools in the ward included on the underutilized list, actions are only occurring at three (3) of those of schools - Canter, Pershing East, and Drake.

Seventh and eighth graders who would have attended Canter will return to their feeder schools - Shoesmith, Harte, and Ray. CPS will convert Canter into a "parent university" to assist parents in participating in their children's education. Drake staff and students will merge with Williams elementary school. Pershing East will merge into Pershing West. The plan will allow for deeper investment at William Reavis and Jackie Robinson elementary schools in the Kenwood and Oakland communities. The BCAC and my office will continue to work with CPS and the community to ensure the best possible transition for children and families to new school communities." -Alderman William D. Burns

"The BCAC had serious concerns about the proposed school actions and we believe that CPS leadership was responsive to our concerns. We will remain diligent and will continue to hold CPS accountable to the community." – Angelique Harris, Bronzeville CAC Co-Chairman


The 61- many are consolidating with buildings closed rather than totally ending.

List of schools closing. url to Google map-,-87.676392&spn=0.358131,0.583649&z=10&source=embed

John P. Altgeld Elementary School
Louis Armstrong Math & Science Elementary School
Attucks Elementary School
Banneker Elementary School
Bethune Elementary School
Arna W. Bontemps Public School
Calhoun North Elementary School
Canter Middle School
Roque De Duprey School
Von Humboldt Elementary School
Delano Elementary School
Dumas Technology Academy
Emmet Elementary School
Emmet Elementary School
Fermi Elementary School
John W. Garvy School
Goldblatt Elementary School
Goodlow Elementary Magnet School
Goodlow Elementary Magnet School
Henson Elementary School
Victor Herbert Elementary School
Mahalia Jackson Elementary School
Key Elementary School
William H King Elementary School
Kohn Elementary School
Lafayette Elementary School
Lawrence Elementary School
Manierre Elementary School
Marconi Elementary Community Academy
Mayo Elementary School
Morgan Elementary School
Overton Elementary School
Owens Elementary Community Academy
Paderewski Elementary Learning Academy
Parkman Elementary School
Elizabeth Peabody Elementary School
John J. Pershing West Middle School
Nathaniel Pope elementary school
Ross Elementary School
Ryerson Elementary School
Sexton Elementary School
Songhai Elementary Learning Institute
Stewart Elementary School
Stockton Elementary School
Trumbull Elementary School
West Pullman Elementary School
Williams Multiplex Elementary School
Woods Academy
Yale Elementary School
Garfield Park Elementary
Roswell B Mason Elementary School
Kate S Buckingham Special Education CenterChicago, IL 60617Chicago, IL 60617
Near North Elementary SchoolChicago, IL 60642Chicago, IL 60642
Leif Ericson Elementary Scholastic Academy Chicago, IL 60624


With tighter budgets than ever, many local public schools will be starting the school year with little or no money in their budgets for school supplies. Since many of our schools serve students who are homeless or low income, this places an even greater burden on their families. OVER $2200 GIVEN SO FAR.

To help meet this need, the HPKCC Schools Committee is organizing a Back To School supply drive. For a $10 donation you can provide pencils, pens, markers, crayons, spiral notebook and filler paper for one child.

The committee will accept monetary donations throughout the year. Supporters can donate online at DONATE button or mail a check made out to the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference-Supply Drive to the Conference office at 1525 East 53rd Street, #907, Chicago, IL 60615. All donations will be used to purchase supplies which will be distributed to the participating Hyde Park/Kenwood public schools. Questions? Contact Nancy Baum at


Don't miss your local school council meeting- revised schedules. See the LSCs page incl. LSC election results.

Board of Education normally meets 4th Wednesdays, 10:30 am, 5th floor 125 N. Clark St.


Link to Sun-Times map of candidate schools for closing.

Ray and why schools have to race like mad to make make enough progress to not fall "behind." Based on a Ray state of the school presentation and feedback in January 2013.

Knowledgeable people at the meeting speculate that the easy out to "refill" schools will be to close Canter and other middle schools so that elem. schools without 7th-8th grades will re-create those grades. And possibly closing Reavis. They agreed that all the schools unless really full will have to prepare for changed boundaries and to receive students from closed schools.

The principal's report was very good and gives a very broad look at the rules the schools have to work around and the degree of everyone working together needed to move ahead on lots of fronts. One of Ray's problems (besides pressure on staff size such as cuts in language teachers) are that performance is a moving target-- scores (percentage of students that meet or exceed have to go up by about 5% over last year's in each category, plus the already high attendance rate get higher, in order to restore Ray's Level 1 rating-- CPS took it away this year because improvement wasn't "enough". Also, ahead of implementation of the Illinois Core Curriculum and a new state test in a couple of years, the state is upping the bar of what it means to be meeting or exceeding standards-- for example, if on 20 questions getting 15 answers is now "meeting" and 18 or more "exceeding", these will change to say 16 or 17 and 19 respectively-- the schools have not been told what it will be yet and the ISAT test is in April. Also, because of late school start this year and the strike, there have only been 80 days in school in 2012-13 so far vs a lot more in the rest of the state, so the schools have to reexamine what is taught in the stretch now to the test so the kids are will have covered what is on the test.

Another problem for Ray is that were problems developing and implementing the Ray University, and they are in effect rethinking it.

People felt good order and discipline have markedly improved in the school, and lots of innovations have been implemented in line with the school's improvement plan.

The February 12 Tribune carries a major feature on the coming impacts or raised state standards for test scores.

The Chicago Board of Education in November 2012 approved the CPS Arts Education Plan. http://cpsartsplan2012/
This supplements the Chicago Cultural Plan.

Highlights of the resolution:

- "the Board believes that every student deserves to receive a comprehensive and sequential study of every art form, including visual art, music, dance, and drama from pre-K through 12th grade"

- "the Board values the critical role that certified arts teachers play as the anchors for robust arts programs and creating strong arts partnerships in schools"

- "the Board recognizes the arts--visual arts, music, dance, and drama--as a core content area."

Additionally, the CPS Arts Education Plan immediately achieved its first new policy win for CPS students when the Board also approved the expansion of high school graduation requirements in the arts to allow for dance and drama in addition to visual arts and music.

Moving forward, beginning next semester, CPS high schoolers must still complete the same two credits in two separate arts forms, but now dance and drama are also recognized courses that can be applied towards graduation.


CTU and CPS reached agreement to rehire teachers to staff the longer day. The fight over an unfunded 7.5 hour day vs. a quality day (with some wanting as short as 6.5 vs. present 5.45) has now morphed into a 7 hour day for elementary and 7 1/2 for high schools (with 75 min early release for hs once a week) supported by the Mayor (April 10)-- but what can be done about the funding and quality with huge deficits looming. Here is what the city release says about details of increases in both school day and instruction year:

Elementary Full School Day:

•Students will receive 52 additional minutes of instructional time each day.
•Students will receive 6 hours of instruction and 45 minutes for recess and lunch.
•Students will be in school for 7 hours each day, an increase of 75 minutes.
•Teachers will be in school for 7 hours and 40 minutes, an increase of 85 minutes.
High School Full School Day:

•Students will receive 46 additional instructional minutes four days a week.
•Students will receive 6 hours and 8 minutes of instructional time four days a week.
•Students will be in school for 7 1/2 hours a day, an increase of 36 minutes four days a week.
•One day per week the day will end 75 minutes early.
•Teachers will be in school for 7 hours and 40 minutes, an increase of 39 minutes.
The Full School Day will provide significant benefits to all students across the district, including:

•Elementary students will receive an additional 207 hours of instruction each year, and high school students will receive an additional 116 hours of instruction. Principals will no longer have to choose between reading, math or science because of limited time in the day.
•Additional time will create opportunity to add more intervention to ensure students who are falling behind in math and reading can get up to speed with their peers.
•Elementary students will have time for lunch and recess every day to relax, re-boot and return to the classroom ready to learn.
The Full School Day was structured with an eye toward providing teachers with adequate professional development and prep time to support their practice. Benefits of the Full Day include:

•Elementary teachers will have almost two additional hours of prep time each week.
•Elementary teachers will have self-directed prep time in the mornings, as well as additional prep time throughout the day to meet with parents informally, prepare for their lessons and supervise students who arrive at school early.
•Both elementary and high school teachers will receive an average of 75 minutes for professional development each week.

The fight between CTU and allies with the Board and its allies continues to escalate and become personal. At the center is closures- CPS seeks to postpone til spring listing the schools, wants to postpone any except for underutilization, and is considering closing also nonperforming charter schools.


Get involved in the meetings of the HPKCC Schools Committee! Chair Camille Hamilton-Doyle, Co-Chair Nancy Baum.
Next meeting tba.

There was a wonderful appreciation dinner by HPKCC for outgoing and incoming LSC, PTA, PAC, principals on May 3 2012 at Kozminski School. Dr. Charles Payne of U of C was a terrific speaker, new and outgoing principals shared their vision. All LSC members and PTA/PAC chairs were given certificates.


"A Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America's Achievement Culture," with principal's forum. Over 300 attended. ABOUT.

Green Prize in Public Education


Getting ready for school: health forms

October 15 is the yearly deadline for all students to be up-to-date on their health forms (vision, dental, physical, immunizations.) Proof must be provided or they face exclusion. Printable forms are online from CPS. Exam is required for entering grades K, 6, 9 prior to October 15.
Vision- K and any student enrolling for the first time in CPS.
Dental exams by a licensed dentist - if in K, 2, 6 - prior to May 15 of current school year.

So, schedule visits now to physician or clinic, or at a school health center. Call Coordinated School Health at 773 553-1830.

CPS 2009-2010 Calendar

Aug. 21 school board meets


Registrations, enrollment informationals and Open Houses

September 1, Saturday, 10 am line up. Black Star Project's Million Fathers Back to School March. 4400 S. Cottage Grove. 773.285.9600


Scholarships, Workshops, enrollments, contests, concerts, dramas, fairs etc.

Getting ready for school: health forms
October 15 is the deadline for all students to be up-to-date on their health forms (vision,dental, physical, immunizations.) Proof must be provided or they face exclusion. Printable forms are online from CPS. Exam is required for entering grades K, 6, 9 prior to October 15.
Vision- K and any student enrolling for the first time in CPS.
Dental exams by a licensed dentist - if in K, 2, 6 - prior to May 15 of current school year.

So, schedule visits now to physician or clinic, or at a school health center. Call Coordinated School Health at 773 553-1830.

Get started now for high school and college/post college kids to get in gear for scholarships and internships. Examples: University of Chicago full-tuition scholarships for 20 CPS students. City of Chicago internships, high school through college grads- contact ward offices for information as the alderman have a certain number of nominations. (Include resume of studies and interests.) Did you know that a third of CPS college scholarships go begging?- Generous Chicagoans contribute to these scholarships, some in seven figures. A recommended search and info engine: Non-CPS 8th grade applicants to CPS schools having lotteries must take a test, usually in March. Call 773 553-2150 for information.
Get ready for next year's CPS high school magnet programs and magnet schools.
Apply by c December 17 yearly for both elementary and high schools. Get the "Education Opportunities" Directory (at schools, libraries, park district offices, aldermanic offices), call 773 553-2060 or go to The high school applications are at high schools, elementary via the previous website.

Middle/Jr. High kids: Start thinking now about college; if you're in CPS enroll in the GEARUP program (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs). In its six years (just renewed) it has been shown to make a real difference. Your cluster of schools will be teamed with a college or university (U of C is one). The program includes tutoring, trips to college campus, adventure education, training in resume-application-financial aid, and career exposure.

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy has a monthly quiz contest for kids- win IPod or computer. CyberQuiz4Kids. Quizzes online at

AT&T children's art programs "Creative Kids". Under 12. See your art in the 2007 Yellow Pages.


CPS is proposing a common calendar with all schools starting August 26. this was tried over a decade ago.

The Sun-Times published on Sunday Jan. 20 2013 and augmented list of schools that might be considered for closing (excluding those ruled out in accord with commission recommendation)- 193, heavily weighted to the South Side. In this neighborhood they include Canter Middle, Kozminski, Ray, and Reavis. No one is suggesting anywhere near 193 schools will be closed, even using only the underutilized and too inefficient/expensive-to-operate criteria. All of these local schools have been thriving, and Ray excels.
There is an interactive map at and the main article is at The main article requires free registration; not sure if the map does.
List due by March 31.

Maroon ties some school underutilization (specifically Kozminski) to rent-burdening in HPK- See Part I in Feb 26 2013 Maroon.

In December 2012 the student body of King College Prep exploded against new principal Shontae Higginbottom. Many asserted at rallies and sit ins that the principal has not adjusted, in addressing the students and the rules she has imposed, from her career as principal at an elementary school. CPS officials are looking into the matter and seeking a resolution.

School Progress Reports were sent home with students in early December 2012. Area results are posted in the Hyde Park Herald website,
The format is new. This one covers 2011 into 2012. A few:
Kenwood Academy: Level 2- average student growth, below average performance, partially organized school culture and climate, freshmen on track rose from 70.2 to 71. 5 (district 75.3).
Shoesmith is a Level 2 and off probation , above average student growth, below average performance, partially organized school culture and climate.
Ray is a level 2 with average student growth, average student performance, data missing for rest.
Murray is a magnet Level 1 school with above average student growth, above average student performance and partially organized school culture and climate.

The HPKCC Schools Committee hosted a largely attended ABCs for CPS for parents November 15 2012.

Of interest-- media, people and officials are finally waking up to the horrendous truancy problem in Chicago Public Schools.

Closures is the looming and highly divisive issue. CPS successfully rounded up support in the legislature to postpone issuing a list of underutilized schools that are candidates for closure (and sale/lease or bringing in others to use in part- or money would not be saved) The putting off of the list while a new commission headed by Frank Clark is sought, CPS says, to allow more study and to engage with potentially affected communities. Many oppose the postponement (some seek a long moratorium) , from advocacy groups to the Tribune, which says to announce now and start engaging now, and don't make iffy "promises" such as no more closures for 5 years after this round. Experts worry that the size of the closures is unprecedented in the country and could make for chaos. The 5-year moratorium would not affect closures for performance.

The Clark committee holds public hearings including December 10 (time?) at Apostolic Church, with a diverse panel moderated by Bishop Brazier.

Whole scattered census tracts in swaths of neighborhoods had adjustments to the weighting "tiers" that determine which kids can get into selective enrollment schools. Two census tracks in HP were downgraded relative to the city average, which does make it a little easier for lower scoring students to qualify to get into s-e schools.

City-wide scores rose modestly or plateaued, depending on point of view. In 2012 elementary percentage meeting or exceeding on state tests was 74.2 v. 74.3 in 2011 (2002 it was 44.1, 2006 61.8). The pioneer longer day schools did better only because of one soaring school. AUSL turnaround schools improved by 2.5% (3 times district average) but only to 63.9%. Charters did a bit better than the average at 76.6 and non-charters a half-point lower. Charters are slated to get more money per as well as more students next year. Increased school day did not work miracles, and what was in the added minutes has not yet been analyzed. Check your school online in and

A major conclave of area-wide principals, teachers, parents, and others was convened at Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn in May 2012. The agenda was extensive and included what is being done to provide information and resources to parents and to schools (including 90% of budgeting in the schools), outside help to train principals and lsc members, work including on security of the Woodlawn Promise Community. Many Hyde Parkers were in attendance. There was a citywide on arts culture plan in the curriculum (in light of the longer day) and one on common Core Curriculum in late July-August.

Friends of Shoesmith: The 2nd and 4th graders working with Juan Carlos Perez have begun to create a "healthy eating" mural for the cafeteria. The wall's background is done. Looks fabulous. They will spend the next three Saturdays from 10 until 2 completing this project. There are two sessions each Saturday. Thanks to everyone who has helped so far--parents, U of C students, and, of course, the students and our leader, Juan Carlos. If you would like to help, let me know. If it is a great way to start the weekend. (wear "painting clothes).
Dec. 1 10 to noon; noon to 2
Dec. 8 10 to noon; noon to 2
Dec. 15 10 to noon; noon to 2

To get involved, join Friends of Shoesmith or their googlegroup:

Carolyn Pereira
Chair, Friends of Shoesmith
773 304 8506
773 536 6242

In late March 2012, Friends of Hyde Park Kenwood Public Schools invited Raise Your Hand, Parents for Teachers and others to hold a discussion on the school day (being dramatically lengthened) with about 60 parents at First Unitarian. Only a few cursory meetings were held before, at Ray, Murray, and Bret Harte. Parents here were upset at the sparce discussion, divided on how much the school day should be lengthened, upset at lack of direction (including to principals and teachers, who don't even have a budget yet) for how to use the extra time and organize the day, and the lack of funding both for quality programs and to pay the teachers for the extra time-- will teachers be cut/class size increased, or what? Some thought it's better the kids are in school longer where parents know where they are, others wanted more time with their children and were concerned about child and teacher burnout. Many raised larger issues of what we want our children to learn and what the outcome of schooling should be-- citing too much high-stakes testing and asking for "a quality day that is well funded." A survey described by Raise Your Hand showed a majority preferring less than 7.5 hours, such as proposed by the group "6.5 to Thrive." Raise your hand also described bleak statistics on funding, including an up to an over $800 million shortfall in 2014-- school officials told them there will be no funding. The board will not even fund a state-mandated PE class for high school juniors and seniors. The labor situation was also spelled out. Ideas for a voice included local parent advocacy groups, speaking at CPS board meetings, and "Tell, Talk and Type Tuesdays" to elected officials. Rallies are also planned downtown.

April 9 Chicago Parents for Quality Education coalition (Raise Your Hand and 15 community organizations) issued a white paper and a petition they intend presenting to Mayor Emanuel April 13 4pm. The White Paper, petition-
Here is what they want:

1) A curriculum for all in addition to reading, math and science that includes regular physical education, arts (visual, drama, dance), music, recess, language acquisition, social studies and civics, and integrated technology led by a teacher.

2) Better supports in the schools from social workers, psychologists, nurses and other developmental supports that address the needs of the whole child.

3) Early childhood education and class sizes in primary grades that are manageable and allow kids to get the attention they need to learn and grow.

4) Facilities upgrades. Many of our schools are in dire need of repair and upgrading.

5) Our children have been stuck in a punitive culture of test prep and over-testing. They are being measured and assessed constantly at the elementary level, cutting into valuable learning time.

Elev8 is a program that puts middle school students under mentorship. The Illinois Violence Prevention Authority is working to create a grand collaborative for the large mid-South area.

A serious matter has arisen at Murray Language Academy and entered the mainstream media and blogosphere February 17, 2012. It appears that in a student dispute a racial epithet (the worst one) came up, and one of the teachers attempted to turn it into a learning experience, including on life. Part of the apparently awkward classroom exchange was witnessed by the principal, who subsequently suspended the teacher, the suspension being upheld after hearings by CPS. The teacher is now suing, and there is a growing row over political correctness vs hurtfulness. Various parties are circulating petitions on the matter- here is access to one:
Other disagreements occurred. Greg Mason c March 2012 was granted a new 4-year contract.

December 2011 Illinois was among 7 states to win federal Race to the Top funds- $42.8 million. Not known is whether Illinois won early learning funds also. Included is upgrading evaluations and the math-science instruction.

CPS spells out criteria for new funds of capital and soft improvements, Murray among recipients. (Note, PURE had a different take, saying "CPS won't invest in struggling schools.")

What is the best length and use of the school day, and how much flexibility should there be-- that's as much a fight as school closings.

The Board approved $391M capital spending funded by state capital funds, Chicago TIF "surplus", bonds, and other funds, plus an added $269 M only partially appropriated previously and from other state, federal funds. The total is over $259M. Targeted are school safety, early childhood ed for underserved communities, 21st century technology in schools, and relief of overcrowding. Supt. Brizzard said the purpose is "to provide students with the tools and environments they need to be successful. Access to new technology, safe learning environments, nutritional supports, and structurally sound schools are all important ingredients.. to be prepared for college and career." There is supposed to be (under state law) a multi-year strategy that relies on rigorous project selection with new kinds of transparency. Decisions are made on the building's capacity and program use and priorities over the next five years, alignment with community input, and equal investment throughout the city.

There is a sidebar: CPS has adopted to fulfill state and federal requirements a formula to determine school usage. Those considered underutilized can be candidates for closure, consolidation, or transformation including being given to or sharing space with a charter. Although the main standard this first year was underperformance, most of the schools targeted were also "underutilized" according to the formula. Over half of Chicago schools were ranked underutilized, and only a few overcrowded and about a third used efficiently. Advocacy organizations cautioned that many called underutilized are using some of their rooms for enrichment, tutoring, libraries, and labs, such as the ancillary classes in magnet schools. Some said it's lipstick on a pig, justifying they have built enough schools--or did CPS build facilities not needed while the pupil population went down? The prototype school "should" have 77 percent of space as general education classrooms with 30 students each. There is a 20-percent leeway. The benchmark for overcrowded is enrollment exceeds 80 percent of classrooms x 30 pupils. School districts around the country use different criteria. "Classrooms" was called a minimum threshold by a Washington foundation.

Murray gets $5.5 million for masonry repairs, ADA upgrades, and new windows, roof unit ventilators, and interior finishes.

Hales Franciscan is seeking a new principal.

Kenwood Principal Selection- it matters to the neighborhood.

Forum was held Feb. 29, LSC voted on Thursday, March 8.

Principal selection 2012-Gregory Jones (Asst Princ. George Westinghouse) was selected.

Sept. 2011 the Consortium issued a report saying that all the reforms of the past 25 years didn't do much for elementary school students reading and math. Cites high school improvements esp. in graduation rates. Charters schools shared the wildly disparate results.

Disagreement over charters continues to grow, especially as in-depth study indicates they are have as much of a mixed record as regular schools, and charges fly that closures are being used to benefit political allies and funders of top officials.

In late November 2011 the board announced that several schools will be closed, phased out or turned around. The key changes near Hyde Park-Kenwood are that Dyett High will be phased out over two years with its students being"invited" to go to Phillips, and low-enrollment Price Elementary will be closed and its students bused to the National Teachers Academy, charter school 4 miles north of Price. (One wonders why at least a grade or two could not go to its partner Robinson School.) In addition, High School for the Arts, and expanding charter, will have several classrooms in Doolittle East. Citywide, most of the students will go to campuses (including Phillips and National Teachers) of a charter system, Urban School Leadership which the Tribune reports is a favorite of the Mayor and from which came the President of the Board of Ed and the new Chief Operating Officer of CPS. (6 other schools were recently handed over to USL.)
With regard to Dyett, a grant this year from the South East Chicago Commission enabled the 100 Suns Native Flower Garden and Mosaic Artworks that was created by the students and Washington Park Conservancy plus another urban farm garden from which the students process and sell the produce to several area stores and farmers markets. What will happen to these gardens and programs with the school to be phased out, just as the 100 Suns garden and artwork is to have a big community and stakeholder dedication December 9 at 4:30?
from which the students process and sell the produce to several area stores and farmers markets. What will happen to these gardens and programs, with the school to be phased out, just as the garden is to have a big community and stakeholder dedication December 9, 4:30 pm?

And what will happen to Price-- chronically underfunded by the District for decades, with constant staff and administrative turnover, and having lost many pupils with the teardown of public housing. Advocates, including KOCO, are supporting the plan of the principal and others to remake the school as a STEM(M) (Math, Technology, Engineering, Math and maybe Medicine academy, partly neighborhood and partly by lottery.
KOCO has participated in rallies that took over a Board of Ed meeting and seeks a meeting with the Mayor and sit ins.

The ripple effect of these closures is enormous-- Hyde Park parents with kids in North Side schools like LaSalle Language Academy in Old Town (slated to be downgraded to Neighborhood to relieve crowding in Lincoln Elementary) are caught up either in the uproar or pondering where to put their children.

December, 2011. Hyde Park Day School and the Orthogenic School, apparently under request to better have or justify a relationship to the University, are moving to new quarters in Woodlawn. They will build a 72,000 sf facility on 13 parcels the city si selling on the 900 block of East 63rd street. The city will give back $500,000. Both the day school and the residential facility can now grow to serve more children-- and staff, which has to be almost at a 1:1 ratio. Total cost is $28 million. Indications are that the University will let the current facilities sit until another use is found -- to reuse or tear down.

CPS budget finally came out in early August 2011. It has a tax increase and cuts to afterschool an more, and others say not enough cuts to fat. The Supt. seeks to avoid impacts in the classroom and to save safe-schools and preschool to the extent possible.

The University of Chicago Consortium for School Research came out September 12 2011 with results of a survey ranking the over 600 CPS schools (145,000+ students and 13,000+ teachers) on perceptions of their school re the "5 Essential elements" that matter most-
Instructional leadership, how teachers work together, support from families and community, learning climate, and challenging curriculum. Success in at least 3 correlates with schools being 10 times more likely to make progress over time. The report is in http://www.ccsrsurvey.uchicago. edu. To find out about the Elements and the research behind them, visit Organizing Schools for Excellence and UC Education/Schools Research Findings.

PURE reports on an Illinois appellate court decision that considerably weakens the legal standing of LSCs. A coalition will go to Springfield for changes to the law.

Brotherhood mentoring project turns students into published authors of manual, gets national attention and emulation. Holds a forum at DePaul in October 2011 (Gina Sanchez at 312 325-8375)

CPS rescinded this year's pay raise (although 75% of teachers will still get step etc. raises of up to 3%. The cancellation has led to actions by the union and local and citywide advocacy groups, who seek changes in priorities (including stress on neighborhood schools) as well as keeping the raises (in light of likely longer day?). If negotiations fail, the union can reopen the contract, which in turn would allow CPS to institute many changes it wants and or the union to strike-- if almost all teachers agree.

CPS and CTU agreed on adoption of the more rigorous Common Core State Standards curriculum (adopted by 44 states including Illinois). And CTU has a grant from Am. Fed. of Teachers to develop lesson plans.
On other issues the two parties remain far apart.
Eric Zorn's study of how classroom time (down to minutes) is actually measured showed it's very complicated, as is the benefit of added time to the school day- but it seems the amount of time Chicago public schools is shorter than the average is about half claimed by CPS and between claims of CPS and CTU--perhaps leaving room for compromise on 2% raise for increase in school day.

A study of comparison of GPA in Illinois high schools and Illinois public universities and 2-year colleges shows a big drop off beyond normal transitioning that needs to be addressed (some are). To compare your school go to

The legislature passed a mostly strong bill of oversight and public input on capital and related school construction and spending that was sought by reformers. It also puts conditions on CPS school closures and transformations. Included is a 10-year facilities master plan that is supposed to be fair, clear, accountable and fiscally responsible long-range plan with priorities. Parental involvement is required.
But the state budget low-balled education among other lines.

In February a strong school reform bill was passed. It requires 75 percent of members voting for a strike, modifications on firing and tenure, and other changes.

$75 million was cut by CPS in early June from school transportation, cleaning, construction projects (delayed), and central staff. The shortfall remains about $7-- m but that includes $300m the state is behind on. Meanwhile the legislature cut $77 million from what CPS will get. New Supt. Brizzard and Emanuel say everyone is going to have to give some skin.

CPS Education Plan now available. Will be "discussed" (it's over 400 pages) at April 27, 2011 BOE meeting.
It's also available from Sheila Wesonga in pdf.


Ray School has selected a new principal. Ditto Shoesmith, and Kozminski. The principal selection process has started for Kenwood Academy.

The November 23 2011 Herald carries a disturbing letter about Murray - how accurate and perspective it is is to be determined. Two lengthy rebuttals are in the November 30 Herald.

Herald, Neighborhood Club others call for schools help, improvements after talk by Jacqueline Edelberg (Nettelhorst turnaround book How to Walk to Schools)
Schools providing wish lists, some (such as Shoesmith) holding open houses for community residents. VISIT ITS OWN PAGE, hydeparkschoolsinitiative.
To raw ideas from the November 7 community workshop Anybody wishing to join that conversation can e-mail to be added to the list. Also

(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 adds 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 teh 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

Ray Principal Bernadette. Butler says Ald. Hairston stepped up to stop their cuts (but why were Harte and Shoesmith not restored?) [Ray's language programs were later again taken away fall 2011.]

Herald, January 19. This letter is in response to the article describing the issues Hyde Park schools faced in 2010. It is true that administration, teachers, students and parents marched... in the wake of unfathomable budget cuts. What was not mentioned was the active role Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) played in ensuring the impact those cuts had on our schools was minimized. The alderman invited principals from her ward to a round table discussion to talk about the cuts and the effects that they would have upon each school. Following this meeting, Hairston went to the City Council and demanded to know from CPS CEO Ron Huberman why language programs were being eliminated in Hyde Park but not in other parts of the city. With her bold and tenacious efforts, along with her dedication and support to her community, she was able to take our voices to the people who could make it happen. As a result, our Spanish language program was saved.

Through the sustained efforts of all of the stakeholders at Ray School, including Hairston, our students continue to be afforded as excellent an education as schools in other parts of the city. In recognition of her commitment, the alderman was invited to our Spanish Heritage assembly, where our students honored her for her unflinching support.

This type of support is not unusual for our alderman. She and our staff have helped in many other ways. For example when our summer program needed assistance, she was able to partner the school with community resources, allowing our children to receive free lunches. I feel helping children is a strong part of who she is and what she does. We are very fortunate to have Hairston as a advocate in our community.

Canter is launching a new Leadership Academy approach and curriculum. See Canter page.

In late November 2011 the board announced that several schools will be closed, phased out or turned around. The key changes near Hyde Park-Kenwood are that Dyett High will be phased out over two years with its students being"invited" to go to Phillips, and low-enrollment Price Elementary will be closed and its students bused to the National Teachers Academy, charter school 4 miles north of Price. (One wonders why at least a grade or two could not go to its partner Robinson School.) In addition, High School for the Arts, and expanding charter, will have several classrooms in Doolittle East. Citywide, most of the students will go to campuses (including Phillips and National Teachers) of a charter system, Urban School Leadership which the Tribune reports is a favorite of the Mayor and from which came the President of the Board of Ed and the new Chief Operating Officer of CPS. (6 other schools were recently handed over to USL.)
With regard to Dyett, a grant this year from the South East Chicago Commission enabled a large urban garden that was created by the students and Washington Park Conservancy and from which the students process and sell the produce to several area stores and farmers markets. What will happen to this garden and program with the school to be phased out, just as the garden is to have a big community and stakeholder dedication December 9?

Chicago 4 Promise Zone applicants failed to receive grants in the 2010 round.

Judge Palmer granted motion to dismiss PURE's LSC suit re closing and reopening schools-- apparently there is nothing CPS can't do whenever it wants. Appeal is filed.

Mayor Daley has introduced a controversial program to add 90 minutes to the school day in some schools (Chicago schools have one of the shortest days)-- but to be computer learning and other programs run by non-teachers-- which some call mere babysitting. However, UC Woodlawn Charter High is determined to make it something special.

Hyde Park Neighborhood Club is remodeling to intensify its programs from daycare through tutoring and other after school programs through the mid teens. The club will from now be a center only for children and youth. HPKCC helped underwrite a summer program for teens. Details in News from Collaborers in Building Our Community.

Black Pearl/Prologue's plan for a charter dedicated to using the arts and arts entrepreneurial training as centerpiece for at-risk students aged 16-21 created some disappointed parents, who hoped it would essentially be an alternative school including for dropped out youth. Some of the confusion was due to Prologue running some alternative schools.

Shoesmith successfully tried control of traffic on 50th St. at school drop off and pickup time. They are working on refinements for the fall.

Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center has reached out mightily into the schools with its public arts, entrepreneurial, and arts as a deterrent to dropping out hands-on models. It has also partnered with Prologue to set up (fall 2010) an alternative charter school for ages 16-21 in line with its specialties, the Joshua Johnston Charter School. The CPS Dropout Recovery Arts Program has recommended the school and the Board of Ed has approved. About 150 students will attend in fall 2010, at LBP while is search is made for a suitable building.
The differences and diverse uses made it not possible for the school and the center to reach an agreement. One will seek a different space (though having activities in the center) while the center will seek a different school.

Urban Education Institute and Ebony Magazine convened a roundtable with MSNBC on schools August 11 at International House. Members: Shayne Evans UC Charter High, Julianne Malveaux Bennett College pres., Elaine M. Allensworth dir for stat anal Consortium Ch Sch Res, Tim King urban Prep, Russlyn Ali US Office of Civil Rights in USDE, Mary B. Richardson-Lowry pres. CPS. Problems cited include budget deficits, outdated curriculum and high dropout rates. It was felt that inner city neighborhood schools have not been improved in over 30 years and the students are written off-- some schools are drop out factories; good ideas are not getting down to the district and school level. Dedication to resources, modern curriculum, best teachers and practices aren't there.
Emphasis, it was said, should be on paying attention to students, allowing teacher autonomy and finding innovative ways to engage parents in the learning process, using up to date technologies. Unusual learning projects should be year round, not just in summer. Having model schools is fine, but best practices and a sound environment have to be translated into the neighborhood schools. Ms. Richardson-Lowry talked about practical innovations being made in schools while Allensworth said "If parents and teachers work collectively it would build a community of trust for children."
Find more in

CPS has joined with 14 learning programs, including Little Black Pearl and Black Star Project to provide school community watch services. These will enhance their already active programs to protect students determined to be at high risk for becoming victims of violent incidents. They will place staff members on school routes, contact families with students with five plus absences and connect out-of-school students to services and programs. Safety and attendance go together and this requires action outside the schoolhouse, it's been determined.

Strong arming continues between CPS and the Union over layoffs and a negotiated raise.

On July 20, 2010, preliminary results were released for 2010-2011 admissions to
the district’s selective enrollment and magnet school programs. The one-year
policy, which uses socio-economic variables instead of race as a factor in
admissions, was established after a federal court judge lifted a longstanding
desegregation consent decree last fall.

More information about preliminary results from the new admissions process can be found at

For more information about the district’s selective enrollment and magnet school programs, visit the Office of Academic Enhancement’s web page, at

August 3 and 10 forums were convened by the CPS Blue Ribbon Commission that oversees magnet and selective enrollment schools and their rules for admission. Some were disturbed as some shifting away from African American admissions occurred, or that gentrification has skewed the emphasis on economic diversity, or asked "why can't all schools have the best resources?"

July 1 the House of Reps. substituted a bill to save 140,000 teacher jobs for Race to the Top. Bruising battles over ESSA (replacement for expiring No Child Left Behind) ensued. Eventually the Senate voted for a scaled back version without removing funds from RTTP, the House concurred August 10 2010.

Two interesting programs occurred in August 2010. Afterschool Matters, Loyola University and teen groups (StandUP-HelpOut and C.R.I.M.E) presented findings on their survey of youth and adult Bronzeville neighborhood and school views and needs at Robinson School. Very rewarding. The students have been going around to various schools to explain their work and the kids book on violence and conflict resolution featuring a 3-headed dragon. The book is called C.R.I.M.E., Compassion, Respect, Inspiration, Motivation, and Empathy.
And International House hosted a Urban Education Institute, MSNBC and Ebony panel roundtable on our schools and what they needs with national and Chicago area experts. Also highly rewarding.

Little Black Pearl and Design Center
1060 E. 47th St. 773 285-1211.

Black Pearl ramps up to meet needs in and out of schools, partner with a special charter
Hyde Park Herald, July 28, 2010. By Daschell Phillips
After a yearlong review, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) held a public hearing last Monday for the Joshua Johnston Charter School, which was proposed by Little Black Pearl Art Center and Prologue Alternative School. CPS officials said the school's unique student target and CPS's budget are what kept the proposal in pending status for so long. Joshua Johnston, which would be named after the first African American slave to become an artist, would be an open enrollment program that serves youth between the ages of 16 and 21 who are at risk of dropping out of school. The school would focus on fine arts and design, academics and entrepreneurial education.

At Monday's hearing, which was attended solely Prologue staff, parents and students and Little Black Pearl staff, testimony was given about how Prologue has helped students of dropping out make it to college. Shertina Boykin, who graduated from Prologue this year, said "I've been to four different schools, and Prologue was the last stop for me. Schools like [Joshua Johnston] are needed to help stop the dropout rate," she said.

Regina Jones, whose son Patrick White is a graduate of Prologue, said the school's programs are an important part of what makes the school successful with at-risk youth. "Parents don't rely on students needing extra services, but when my son was given services outside of school I found they were very much needed," Jones said. The art and entrepreneurial, classes at Little Black Pearl are a part of those supplemental services offered to the students at Prologue.

Since 1999, Little Black Pearl has been providing art programs to schools with high numbers of at-risk students and in 2008 Little Black Pearl partnered with the CPS Department of Dropout Prevention and Recovery Arts Program. So when Prologue teamed up with arts center to create an official charter school to target this group of students they knew it would be beneficial to the school system. Although CPS was acquainted with Little Black Pearls' work, the Joshua Johnston Charter SChool did not make Ron Huberman's list of new charter school recommendations in November 2009 because officials wanted to make sure that CPS had the proper tools to evaluate the proposed school model, said Rachel Ksenyak, interim director of recruitment and selection in the CPS Office of New Schools. Ksenyak said once the idea was further evaluated by CPS third-party provider School Works and experts from other charters across the country that use a similar model, the Joshua Johnston proposal was left pending a little longer because CPS's budget wasn't finalized.

The school, which is expected to open in the fall, will start out with 150 students and bed housed in the Little Black Pearl studio at 1060 E. 47th St. while the search for a larger space int Kenwood area takes place, said Monica Haslip, executive director of the Little Black Pearl. Now that the hearing has taken place, Huberman's recommendations will be discussed at the next CPS board meeting on July 28.

A state partial budget only and only gimmicks are being thought of. Our schools are in deep crisis, with budget cuts threatening to undo all the efforts of the past several years and weakening Hyde Park's draw and cachet as a community. Students and teachers have been marching from the schools to the offices of elected officials. Ray on May 11, Harte May 18. Murray has also suffered deep cuts including to its library and arts staff and is up in arms.

June 17, Thursday, am. School and teacher advocates incl. from Hyde Park rallied against increasing class size and for more funds including from the city marches from the Thompson Center to City Hall. More info

June 28: CPS AT THE END OF JUNE BACKED OFF 35/37 CLASS SIZE AND WENT BACK TO 2010 although high schools will still have to go from 31 to 33. Separately, Supt. Huberman wants the teachers to surrender this year's 4% raise (a third of the value of remaining deficit if the following happens). Huberman indicated CPS MIGHT get enough from the state board of ed "categorical" funding (such as special ed) to return to 28 per class for K-3, 4-8th to 31, and high school to go up "only" from 31 to 33 and full day Kindergarten may be restored. This would be from an additional $57 million plus $18 million in new cuts. For things to really get better, Gov. Quinn would have to sign a bill to pay the $352 it owes CPS and pay future bills on time.

Bitter words are being exchanged over CPS proposal to CTU to forgoe its 4% raise in 2010 Cost of that,$135m, would close 1/3 of th e remaining deficit, CPS said. The union's answer was that they would then ask for more and more until the system is in ruins and the children suffer deadly results.

July 1, Governor Quinn signed the partial budget and moved quickly to cut esp. mental health and developmental services while protecting only some school and preschool funding. According to the Sun-Times web version,

Gov. Quinn today approved a partial budget that slashes state spending by $1.4 billion.

Quinn, in signing portions of the budget for the 2011 fiscal year that begins today, cut spending on schools by $241 million. But he maintained current funding levels for general state aid, early childhood programs and special education. [That may allow the reversions in class size in Chicago to stand- see above.]

The state’s Department of Human Services experienced the largest cuts of any state agency. In all, DHS will see a $312.6 million cut from the just ended 2010 fiscal year.

The bulk of those funds, $262.8 million, will come through the reduction or elimination of mental health and developmental disability programs that aren’t tied to Medicaid.

Hyde Parkers join rally against school cuts. Herald, June 2, 2010. Daschell M. Phillips.

Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Marilyn Stewart organized a rally last Tuesday to march against increases in class sizes and other budget cuts proposed by Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and Hyde Park parents, teachers and students came out in large numbers to swell size of the march.

About 4,000 students, faculty and staff from schools across the city and members of education advocacy organizations including Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), marched from the Board of Education Building to City Hall and back again to protest against raising class sizes to 35 students and teacher cuts proposed by CPS due to its $600 million budget deficit.

A press conference scheduled to take place in City Hall at 5:15 p.m. that day, but the Chicago Police Department locked all the doors to the building. Hyde Park native Karen Lewis, King High School teacher and Stewart's opponent for CTU president, said its good for CPS and City Hal to see how many people are affected by the cuts. "This isn't about anything but the kids," Lewis said. "We don't want 35 kids in a classroom. We worked so hard for many years to get smaller class sizes. Now we're going backwards."

Stewart said she was thankful that the union came together is strong numbers for this demonstration. "Regardless of the caucus and regardless of those things that sometimes divide us, you stood up for each other and for the children we teach," said Stewart in a thank you note to protestors. Stewart said she and other long-time educators are proud of the "new generation of union members [who are] ready to rally and fight for what is right."

(Meanwhile there will be a runoff June 11 in the CTU election. Votes were stewart (United Progressive, incumbent) 6,853, Lewis (CORE) 6,336, Deb Lynch (ProActive)3,500, Porter (Coal strong dem. Union) 1,370, Ted Hajihairs (Sch Empl Alliance) 1,205

Herald urges fight against just replacing experienced teachers with new. "Here in Hyde Park, we have fought hard against the trend toward disinvestment in public schools. In recent years, we have created a robust network of elementary schools, high-performing middle and high schools, and most recently, we have seen parents, teachers and students marching in protest of threats by Chicago Public School's (CPS) CEO Ron Huberman to expand class size to 35 students to close a budget deficit. Lewis [newly elected CTU president] is certainly coming from the right environment to take on the empty choices being peddled by the current CPS administration.....

"...we urge the community to take a stand with her when it comes to funding for public schools. We are being told that the education of all public school students shouldn't be a top priority by the very people hired to promote the interests of those children. Something is very wrong with the political climate in this city and state when a mismanaged budget is balanced on the backs of children. we hope lewis can help hold CPS to a Hyde Park-level of standards. to do so, she'll need all of our help. Public school teachers do critical work and deserve the support of their neighbors. Now is an essential time to demonstrate that support."

Here's what the Herald said May 19, 2010 (below on what said on Kenwood)

By Daschell M. Phillips

Ray Elementary School is one of 27 schools to lose its "world languages" program, according to a recent announcement by Chicago Public Schools (CPS). This lost, along with a cut in its kindergarten and technology programs, caused teachers, students and community members to march in protest last Tuesday.

Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., will lose seven teachers next school year causing it to lose its World Language Magnet Cluster School status. In teh 2008-2009 school year, CPS cut the schools language courses by two teachers, blaming policy and budget constraints. Now the remaining teachers will be terminated due to the $600 million CPS deficit, causing Ray to become a neighborhood school.

Ray, which is where U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's kids attended classes, once offered Spanish classes to pre-k through 6th grade students every day. It cut back to teaching the pre-k through 3rd grade students two to three time a week while keeping the daily language courses for 4th through 6th grade in order to keep them competitive with other schools.

The school, which often has students whose parents come to work at the University of Chicago from other countries, will also lose its English as second language teacher. The School's kindergarten classes wil be part-time, losses several of its special education aides -- that allowed students with special needs to be integrated into standard classes-- and lose the technology teacher that the school had a beginning-of-the-year fundraiser to hire.

"These program cuts are under construction," said CPS spokesman Bobby Otter, who said the district had to make some tough decisions to addr4ess the $600 million budget deficit. "We remain optimistic that lawmakers in Springfield will take appropriate action so that many of our school programs can be reinstated."

During the march Tuesday [May 11], the group of protesters held up signs that read, "Where did the money go?" and "Idiomas en Espanol es importante. Si!" and chanted "Save our schools, no more cuts" in English and Spanish as they went to the offices of state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) and state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) to seek support for their school. "We are hoping to raise awareness and pressure them to speak up in support of our schools," said John Cusick, 6th grade teacher at Ray.

Jackie Cannon, community member and member of the parent action [advisory?] council at Ray said that it is "shameful" how the state is playing political games with education. "We are one of the most progressive states, but we are 49 out of 50 [states] when it comes to providing school funding," Cannon said. "If we want to compete on a global level, we can't take language away from our ids, and if we hope to get rid of violence, we can't take away education."

Alinda Smith, who has a daughter in kindergarten at Ray, said that part-time kindergarten would make it very difficult for parents who work. "With only three hours of school each day, they won't be ready for first grade," said Smith, who is a kindergarten teacher at Walsh Elementary School. Her school is also facing cuts.

Ted Fetters, chief of staff at Currie's office, said both Currie and Raoul have taken active measures in support of education funding adn that the crowd should "talk to your friends across the state and tell them to let their legislators know it's important to support education."

Added in another article, same issue and author: More H.P. schools to march

As of Herald press time, Shoesmith and Bret Harte Elementary Schools were scheduled to join forces Tuesday to protest against cuts of school programs. Parents plan personal meetings with legislators Wednesday.

Shoesmith will lose seven teachers and will no longer have its math, science and language magnet cluster status. Bret harte will lose five teachers and its Spanish, reading and accelerated math and science programs.

The group expects to march to the 53rd Street offices of state Rep. Barbara Flynn currie (D-25) and state Sen Kwame Raoul (D-13) to seek support fo their schools. "We know that [Currie] has been good to us, but if [sh] could just continue to speak on behalf of our side that would be helpful," said Sheree Donalds, chairwoman of the local school council (LSC) at Shoesmith.

In addition to the march on Tuesday, parent representatives from both schools' LSCs adn parent action council (PC) groups will visit state Sen. James Meeks' (I-15) office and Gov. Pat Quinn's office to submit petitions signed by parents and community m embers asking for more education funding. "We understand the state is in debt, but taking education away from our kids will make the future worse," said Daryll Williams, who is a m ember of Bret Harte's LSC. "Without an education they can't get jobs, without jobs they can't make money and the economy continues to get worse."


The parents, students, teachers and administrators of our local public schools are struggling with a severe blow being dealt to them by th leadership of Chicago Public schools --- the folks that are supposed to be the stewards of this system. The schools are being instructed to cut teachers, end valuable programs and generally diminish the quality of the education they provide. From our point of view, the acrid scent of politics reeks through these demands.

While all of our schools are being affected, we will focus on Ray Elementary to illustrate how dire these changes are. The school's designation as a language-oriented magnet school is being eliminated. Important technology-related instruction is also being cut. Class sizes, as for all other schools, are being swelled to a virtually ungovernable 35 students per class. These are some of the worst of the decisions coming from downtown. The net effect of these changes is a fundamental undermining of all the efforts of the Ray School community to provide a high-quality education with the already limited resources they had. All of our schools are being similarly undermined.

In questioning downtown CPS bureaucrats about their motives, we are told frankly that the look to Springfield to provide monies to restore the conditions they are dismantling. We find this disgusting. Teh simple fact is that Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman is playing politics with the future of our children. Rather than publicly advocating for greater resources, Huberman is imperiling the educational outcome of students, apparently in the hopes that hoards of frightened Chicagoans will somehow move the downstate legislators, who have such a practiced indifference to our children, to change their ways.

We cannot see how such behavior is consistent with Huberman's task to responsibly administer our public school system. If individual schools have to make changes to their budgets, that should be a local decision -- and it should be across the board, with renegotiated terms with charter schools as well. We certainly wouldn't expect to see pay raises for executive staff, as has been widely reported recently...

We do not, however, believe this is serious budgeting. We think it is a ploy, and if we are correct, shame on you...

...When march participants reached State Rep. Barbara Flynn Curies (D-25) 53rd Street Office, they were greeted by Currie's chief of staff, Ted Fetters, who praised their actions and encouraged them to keep fighting. That's exactly the right thing to have done. The marchers left feeling encouraged and listened to by Fetters. He also gave them a bit of explanation about the legislative process -- another good move...

Note. The article criticized Sen. Raoul's commitment to schools because he wasn't there. (A statement had been delivered to the schools. When Bret Harte's contingent reached the Senator's office during a march the next week, the statement was distributed by staff.) In the issue of May 26, Sen. Raoul presented a long letter explaining his commitment and goals. These include: chief sponsorship of HB 174 for income tax increase, still being capable of being acted upon in the House. Many supplementary bills to safeguard school funding were also passed by the Senate.

And Murray: May 26 Herald, by Daschell M. Phillips

...parents and students of Murray Elementary School [Language Academy] spoke out against losing teachers due to Chicago Public School (CPS) budget cuts at the local school council last Wednesday. Parents are especially upset at the possibility of losing long time Hyde Park resident and librarian Eileen Holzhauer. Due to the $3 billion CPS school budget deficit, Murray.. lost four teaching positions, and the art teacher and librarian positions will be part time. Although the school's budget has been cut it will still add seventh grade classes next year.

"we value all the teachers here at Murray and it is upsetting to us all to lose any one of them," said Gerri Redd, president of the parent teacher organization (PTO). "Parents came to voice their support of [Holzhauer] because she's been there for many years and she goes over and above her duties to get kids to embrace reading." A group of students also spoke about how Holzhauer greats them when they come into the library and suggests books for them to read and motivates them to read books that challenge them. ... [she also was a founder of the 57th St. Children's Book Fair.]

Holzhauer also said that adding 60 more students at 7th grade when research takes on greater importance while cutting the library hours in half is not an educationally sound decision.

Murray parents are thinking of reviving the Friends of Murray to raise needed funds.


CORE and native Hyde Parker/current King High teacher Karen Lewis won the June 11 2010 runoff for CTU president. It will work with GEM (Grassroots Education Movement) which seeks more stability in school changes.

Duel Richardson, director of the University of Chicago Neighborhood Schools, is retiring June 2010. Duel sought out promising or producing South Side schools and principals and encouraged them to develop their own priorities, then saw that they got resources including for technology-- rather than depend on funders that are often inadequate and have their own agendas.

Alderman Preckwinkle wrote in a recent editorial that schools like Kenwood and Lincoln Park are flexible in being both selective enrollment and neighborhood, with strong classes available for youth who are moved beyond what was apparent when they entered. They graduate more high performers than they enroll as freshmen.

Passed in Springfield- bill adding a non-staffer to LSCs and putting parents out of majority. Defeated- Sen. Meeks' 30,000 vouchers to private schools for students in non performing or overcrowded schools.

Kenwood Academy is holding a golf outing to Save Our Sports June 12. Contact C.J. Rodgers at 773 220-9238 or

Kenwood Assistant Principal Michael Boraz has been selected Principal of Lincoln Park High School.

Over the Kenwood SIPAAA, there were slightly different visions for dealing with the distressful budget circumstances, one stressing saving as many teacher positions as can be saved, the other saving essential support for students. With student support for the latter, the tilt is in favor of the latter, and in trusting the school administration. The SIPAAA, passed by the LSC, becomes a living document July 1, from that time adjustments are possible.

Herald coverage of the May 1 meeting and more, May 5, 2010. By Daschell M. Phillips

Funding allocation for teaching versus non-teaching positions was discussed Saturday during the Kenwood Academy High School local school council's School Improvement Plan for Advancing Academic Achievement (SIPAAA) budget town hall meeting last weekend.

Due to state budget cuts and Chicago Public Schools' $1 billion deficit, public schools must cut funding from $770 to $735 per child and boost class sizes to 35 students per class. CPS has also mandated Kenwood, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., to close 11 teaching positions. The school is expecting to lose three teachers to retirement but must chose which remaining positions it will close.

Elizabeth Kirby, principal at Kenwood, said no decisions have been made on which teachers will be cut. "The fact that we have to cut four or five is going to be hard for us next year," said Kirby, who said she highly anticipates that the state will give teh schools more money and the positions will be back open.

Community members were concerned with the local school council's or LSC, budgeting of a high number of security guards and other student support staff and wondered if that was at the expense of keeping teachers.

The SIPAAA budget, roughly $1.5 million of the school's $13 million budget, is set by the LSC each year. According to Kenwood's projected budget, $71,000 is spent per teacher, one in math and a new position this year for science; tow On-Track support staff members are paid $74,000 each a year and the security budget includes $288,0000 in salaries for six guards and a additional $83,000 for overtime and special events.

Cynthia Leung, a teacher at Kenwood, said, "It's important to protect and support teachers because if there are no teachers, there is no school. Kirby said that the cutting of the teaching positions were an order from Chicago Board of Education and "if we don't choose which positions get cut, the board will come in and choose who goes."

Aileen Gamez, assistant principal at Kenwood, said she is thankful that CPS called for teacher cuts and not for security cuts because that would not benefit the school's climate. Each year there are a multitude of reports of school violence, many resulting in the death of CPS students. So far, none of these incidents have involved Kenwood students. Kirby said the school wants to continue to take preventive measures.

Students and parents spoke out in support of the freshman and sophomore On-Track coordinators and Michelle Jackson, Inez Jones and teh postsecondary coach Julie Stanton to assure the community that these student services are as equally important as having teachers in the classrooms.In response to the high dropout rate among CPS students, the Freshman On-Track program was developed to provide tutoring and study support and to help students understand the quarterly and class credit systems. The Sophomore On-Track program was recently added as a continued support targeting second year students, and the coach helps students with the college enrollment process.

Ashaki Howard, junior class president at Kenwood, said losing the On-Track coordinators goes against the school's goals, described in the motto "Our Mission is College." "If we don't have them, we don't have college," Howard said. So losing them is not an option."

Rakia Davis, sophomore at Kenwood, said she was a good student in the 7th and 8th grade at Kenwood Academy, but once she came to the high school, Jackson helped her to become an excellent student by motivating her to improve her attendance and turn in her homework, and Jones helped her by challenging her to take advance placement classes. Since working with them Davis said, "my GPA increased from a 3.0 to a 4.24."

Shannon Gray, parent of a sophomore and senior at Kenwood, said losing the On-Track programs would be a huge disservice to the school because many of the students wouldn't know about the post secondary opportunities available to them if it weren't for the On-track programs. Gray reminded the community that recent Kenwood graduate Derrius Quarles, who received national press recognition for being awarded over $1 million in college scholarships, wouldn't have done it without the help of the On-Track coordinators.

Sheila Wesonga, president of the parent advisory council (PAC) at Kenwood, said teh debate between supporting teachers versus non-teaching staff may be averted if teh LSC goes after the Title I funding they were supposed to receive from the state earlier this year. "I'm surprised to find that Kenwood did not get funding for teacher," Wesonga said. "The PAC received its funding, so it is my understanding that teh school wil get it for teachers." In April 2009, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Illinois would receive $1.4 billion as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Kenwood was awarded Title I stabilization funding in which 95 percent would go to the school for teachers adn 1 would go to the PAC for parent involvement projects. PAC received its funding in February but, according to the LSC, Kenwood has not received its part of the funding. LSC President Ismail Turay said the LSC was not aware that they were supposed to receive the funding and would investigate.

Herald editorial may 5 2010- Sorting the facts at Kenwood. Rumors were flying across the neighborhood last week about Kenwood Academy's budget for teh upcoming year. Kenwood's principal, Elizabeth Kirby, had planned a Saturday town hall meeting to coincide with the local school council's completion of its portion of the school's budget last week. Talk on the street was of a swollen administrative budget and teacher layoffs.

The reality, it turns out, as is so often the case, is not quite in line with the gossip surrounding it. Two unrelated events coincided to create the appearance of a problem. CPS CEO Ron Huberman has instructed all Chicago public school principals to write budgets for the next year that assume 35 students per classroom in them, just like every other public school in Chicago. Meanwhile, the staff supported by the budget is clearly perceived by the dozens of students who attended Kirby's Saturday morning meeting as invaluable to their development. really, that should end the matter -- anyone working in the schools who is beloved by students deserves the support of the community.

Kirby suspects Huberman's directive is political, that making the threat of packed classrooms will inspire parents and others to contact their political representatives and pressure them to get COS teh money it needs to close its budget gap. We are inclined to agree with her. The intersection of public education and politics is an ugly one. We might wish that using our young people to score political points would be beneath our elected and appointed officials, but that's just not the reality.

We applaud the parents and community members that are beating the drum to get their neighbors to support local public schools. These schools are a critical resource in our community, and everyone is affected when they are victimized by politicians and bureaucrats. Let's keep our eye on them.

Kirby has proven an effective principal in all sorts of ways. She's asking us to accept her judgment about how best to budget for the school and handle CPS politics. We have every reason to trust her. We should.

Alderman Preckwinkle says budget crisis not a reason to cut support at Kenwood (although others say keeping teachers first it the top priority and consolidating tasks should be tried, like fewer asst. principals not teaching could buy more teachers fort the buck).

Hyde Park Herald May 12 2010- by Ald. Preckwinkle

Everyone who is concerned about public education has watched the current round of budget cuts at the Chicago Public Schools with deep frustration. I share th is concern not just as an elected official but also as a former teacher and the grandmother of current CPS students.

Kenwood Academy is a particular focus of concern for me because of what the school has been able to accomplish for a large and diverse student population. Kenwood provides a fast track to academic excellence for students entering its Academic Center program. The test scores posted by the 'preppies', seventh and eighth graders, could not get any higher. (All of the Academic Center students meet or exceed state standards.) Students entering through this program go on to excel at Kenwood. Other students enter though the school magnet program that requires strong test scores. Still other students enter because they have graduated from the eighth grade and reside in teh attendance area.

Some students enter Kenwood insufficiently prepared for high school. But they still have a meaningful opportunity to succeed. Kenwood has put programs in place to retain male students, to encourage mid-tier students to tackle harder classes and to keep students on track to graduate.

Many of us have been disappointed by CPS' failure to lower class size. Many Hyde Parkers who choose private schools cite class size as a major factor in their decision. Ironically, class size is higher at some of our best performing elementary schools than it is at some of the lower performing. Traditionally, schools such a Ray and Murray do not qualify for the funding streams that have been used to lower class size in other schools. The large classes have not limited student achievement, but they are still a legitimate concern.

Looking at the high schools, we see that the teacher/student ratio is important and deeply affects teh quality of life for staff and students but it is not the only factor influencing student success. Regardless of class size we need effective teachers and effective support. Supports include professional development , clerks adn miscellaneous staff to help around the building with things like copying, help control students during periods and in the lunch room, extra security guards, freshman an sophomore on-track coordinators, computer leases, a post-secondary coach and college test consulting.

Using discretionary funding to retain teachers could improve the ratio by one or two. But would also wipe out all funding for the desperately needed supports for students and teachers. Completely removing all supports would do far more damage than allowing the ratio to increase slightly.

The current administration at Kenwood is committed to making the effects of the cuts as small as possible. Elizabeth Kirby is the principal of Kenwood Academy. Kenwood has more than 1,600 students. Nevertheless Ms. Kirby teaches African history. Mr. Boraz, an assistant principal, teaches an AVID section. I deeply respect the AVID program which, if properly implemented, provides mid-tier students with a clear path to academic achievement, the honor roll and college. The other assistant principals and certified staff are also prepared to pick up classes next year if need be.

Chicago is full of high schools with less than three hundred students whose administrators would never consider teaching a class. Kenwood's administration actually believes that teaching is the most important activity at a school and acts on that belief. They expect to be teaching more classes this fall if more funding does not come through.

Let's work together to support student achievement. You can help by supporting Kenwood's 1st Annual "Save Our Sports" Golf Outing at Joe Louis Golf Course in riverdale on June 12. For more information contact C.J. Rodgers at 7873 220-0238.



Student teacher Kevin Renderman praises experience gained at Kenwood through Chicago Center.

The goal of Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture for 40 years has been to expose prospective teachers and social workers doing practicum from colleges all over the country to life throughout Chicago and to world cultures first person. A native Chicagoan from the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood, he decided after Milliken College, to practice at Kenwood under Chicago Center. He taught 7th and 8th grade PE, two health classes, and served as assistant freshman basketball coach.

He said Kenwood teachers were great mentors and that he learned a lot from Principal Kirby and AP david Narian.


The CPS school budget for 2010-2011 is out and it is not a pretty one. Most schools face substantial cuts, and there are battles, likely in each school over the SIPAAA (which they are all racing to finish by May 7) all over Chicago and sometimes pitting teachers vs community, over using as much discretionary school money as possible to minimize loss of teachers and hence unmanageable class sizes. This played out at Kenwood Academy, with a likely compromised being commitment to review after the SIPAAA becomes a living document July 1.

In 2010, Senator Meeks introduced 4 education reform bills. One, to eliminate powers of local school councils, is thought to be not such a good idea by many schools advocacy groups. For instance Kenwood Oakland community Organization/Mid south Education Association met with grassroots organizations and service providers (New Horizons, Rainbow PUSH, Clergy for Community, LSCs including Bret Harte) to create a strategy to fight the bill, because may lscs are effective, provide a che,c and account for a very diverse education system.We are informed there is no support for the Meeks bill and it will die in committee. Other of his bills include to allow students of the 10 lowest performing schools to opt to charter or private at CPS expense, make the school board elective, and provide a host of charter vouchers. Sen. Meeks decided not to call his bill.

A bill is advancing in the Senate, HB6017, that seeks to add a dependent staff person on all lscs, wiping out the parent majority. This has not had public vetting.

Consortium says aspire to the school worthy of and appropriate for you, then get the funds and supports so you will graduate from a 4-year. - Think "pipeline" from jr. high through "grade 16." CPS is starting to take this seriously.
As in The Economist April 2010: Though some students are ill-prepared for university, many go to colleges that are not demanding enough. This makes them more likely to drop out, explains William Bowen, a former president of Princeton, who co-wrote a book on completion rates. Black boys who go to rigorous colleges graduate at higher rates than do similar peers at easier ones.

In Chicago only a third of local students who aspire to college enroll in ones that match their skills. Parents worry about cost, but know little about loans. Clever students often fail even to apply to four-year universities.

The city, responding to data from the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago, is tackling this problem. Measures include workshops for parents, better counseling and a system to make sure students meet loan deadlines. The University of Chicago is supporting a network of principals and counselors, including those at Hancock. A new “pipeline” project links good students with private Midwestern colleges. Osbaldo’s Monmouth College is one of these. And what is good for Osbaldo is good for America, too.

A large contingent of Fulbright students from many countries visited Chicago and Murray, in conjunction with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Chicago, lobbied for awareness and increase in foreign languages in schools. Murray offers French, Spanish and Japanese and hopes to add German- All right!!

PURE comments on Stephen Chapman's Tribune caution April 15 that none of the political ideas for fixing schools is a cure all:

he admits that we don't know enough about what works in education and why, and cautions that imposing one-size-fits-all solutions "such as those offered by the Obama administration" is the wrong approach.

But we do know some things. There are models of success in our own back yard, such as the local school council-based reforms of the 1990's detailed in Designs for Change's The Big Picture, the wholistic approach described in the Consortium on Chicago School Research's new study, Organizing Schools for Improvement, and the parent- and teacher-centered programs of Strtegic Learning Initiatives.

And we need to stop wasting time on all the mandates and top-down "fixes" that don't work and get busy doing a better job expanding some of the things that do work.

More fight than reform in 2009?

Parents for Responsible Education (PURE) won standing for its case that CPS is eliminating in its reopened schools LSCs that are elected and or more than advisory contrary to state law. The case dragged on, but a new state law seemed to give more leeway to CPS.

A Coalition that includes PURE and Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) Mid South School group (Grassroots Education Movement or GEM) held demonstrations and took other actions on school closures and movement of students between schools (asserted by them to be an aggravator of teen violence as a Fenger) and to ask for return to neighborhood schools in some places. Several public officials expressed similar concerns and/or opposed appointment of Ron Huberman as head of CPS alleging lack of experience.

The Consortium on Chicago School Research at UC issued several reports (as did Chapin Hall). Getting most attention was that students moved to other schools in closures showed no improvement, in large part because they were sent to schools performing as badly.

There was a race on between school cutbacks due recession-driven fall in local and state revenues and infusions from the federal stimulus programs and the new state capital budget.

2008 wrap up. From a year-end wrap up by Gary Ossewaarde, whose views it expresses.

Arne Duncan, CPS CEO was chosen for Education Secretary by President-Elect Barack Obama. Duncan is a life-long Hyde Parker and long active in both public and private education. The response was enthusiastic although with reservations about the policies of CPS toward support or closings of schools, especially in low-income neighborhoods and hostility toward Local School Councils and other forms of local input or control.
Concern was expressed about local schools lagging in repairs and upkeep. The 53rd TIF joined with CPS in funding major repairs to Canter Middle School, although the needed expansion is still not in sight. Kenwood Academy received a very extensive Disabilities upgrade. Award-winning Ray School remained uncertain as to when repairs will be made. CPS is sending teams around to all the schools.
UC Laboratory Schools launched major planning and fundraising for the schools and their expansion, nursery to high.
Kenwood Academy: lunch privileges now depend on performance, about 350 of 1700 can go off campus. There is still controversy as to whether Kenwood is turning around and the strong parts maintaining position or improving.
Akiba-Schechter dedicated a new playground sponsored by Bill Coleman and Carol Groover and Jewish Funders.
Principal changes: Gregory Mason succeeded Michael Keno as Principal at Murray Language Academy.
Ongoing concerns for schools and their supporters are continued devolution of responsibilities upon them by CPS to raise funds for everything from supplies, to after school programs, to training, to repairs.

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Schools Committee put on line a comprehensive listing of after school and related activity providers. The Committee also held banquets with speakers for outgoing and incoming local school councils and their principals. Among information furnished was that on grant writing and finding funds and donations and how to improve further as LSCs.

Stimulus funning: Illinois will get about $3 billion for schools and other educational funding out of $100 billion for the same. The state has appropriated in order to get this $9 million for tacking all Illinois students through their school years.


At the end of 2009, three local elementary schools (Shoesmith, Reavis, Kozminski) were put on probation. Responsible are combination of falling or non-advancing scores and failure to meet on-time and attendance (95%) standards.
While the scores certainly were not advancing (and mostly dropping for 2009), thus not meeting the objective of the school "growing" with real impact on student growth year to year. The new practice of comparing two current years with the two before that to get trends and of insisting all scores advance, as well as using the work "probation" which used to mean next step to closing or cleaning house were by some called a disservice (the Herald said "staining" schools that are trying mightily with limited resources.

So, what were the scores?
Shoesmith: ISAT reading: 2006 68.6%, 2007 59, 2008 73, 2009 63 (quite a see-saw)
Exceeding ISAT: 2006-07 11%, 2008 12.8, 2009 8.7 (is this a bump or a setback?)
ISAT exceed state stand. highest grade: 2007 10.3%, 2008 9.3, 2009 8 (consistent drop)
Attendance : 94.3 vs req'd 95%

Canter: ISAT reading: 2006 78.2, 2007 81.1, 2008 84.2, but in 2009 80.4 (does this mean stagnant?)
ISAT Math: 2006-07 73%, 2008 77.7, but 2009 a modest drop to 75.6
Science: 2006 81.6, 2007-08 73, 2009 66.4 (looks like an ongoing slide)

Reavis: ISAS Math 2006 43.3, 2007 51.7, 2008 57.4, 2009 53.5 (is this 1-year slide meaningful?)
Science: 2006 46.2, 2007 44.4, 2008 41.1, 2009 35.3 (steadily from bad to worse)
Attendance: 94.8 (nearly at the minimum).

So what are some of the schools doing about this?

Shoesmith: evaluating, finding ways to inform and impress on parents how important it is to get their kids to school, and on time (the two are related, they find), no excuses. The PAC has a "coffee and..." program for parents who watch over kids in the morning and talk to parents about attendance and upcoming activities and the school. The staff says it is aggressive with chronically absent students. There is tutoring morning and evening in math and reading.
Ismail Turay of the LSC and HPKCC Schools Committee was quoted in the Herald that there should be a collaborative to get all schools to be performing and that principals of the schools should confer on the probation challenge since the schools funnel into Canter, then Kenwood. The Kenwood Principal is seeking such meetings with the principals, suggesting on attendance what they do--have an audit committee over attendance looking every day and to address straying as soon as it starts.
The Canter principal has held planes on ways to increase preparedness for Kenwood.

CPS has issued new race-criteria free guidelines for non-selective and selective magnet schools. Here is what PURE says they are:

CPS has announced the new criteria for selecting students for magnet schools-is it really straightforward and transparent? And where does it leave neighborhood schools?

For non-selective magnets, they are going to fill 50% of all seats first with siblings of current students, and then with "proximity" students (those living within 1.5 miles of the school).

The other 50% will be filled by dividing the rest of the application pool into four groups based on census information (mostly income level) of the student's neighborhood and select students equally from each of the four groups.For selective enrollment schools, they will fill 50% of the seats on pure test score rank order and the other 50% by test score rank order equally from the four socioeconomic groups.

Rep. Currie and Sen. Raoul sent a stern letter to CPS opposing the replacement policy.

A Consortium study released October 27, 2009 said that the policy in effect through 2006 of just closing non performing schools hurt student performance, then did not help it except for those switched to high performing schools and others in which there was a high level of teacher-student trust and personal attention. But only 6% of students from closed schools were sent to such schools (reasons were not discerned).
( It remains controversial whether the successor policy of turnaround, including totally new staffs, worked better. CPS is now starting to address on a spot basis where closures and boundary changes may have promoted conflict and violence between groups of students from different areas and demographics, partic. across gang boundaries. Also, CPS seeks a balance with the criminal justice system between branding kids and telling schools "what they need to know" about individual students.- GO)

Representative Currie reported on stimulus action in Illinois in September 2009.

Race To The Top [which is controversial in some aspects] offers competitive grant to a few states, and Illinois is competing-- initial applications are due between the veto session and next year's convening. Progress must be shown in student assessment, data systems backing up instruction, quality teachers and school leaders, and effective intervention in failing schools. Illinois standards are good, Currie says, and a data system tracking students is signed and has a federal grant. Principal evaluation has been beefed up and national orgs are working to help on teacher preparation and evaluation and mentoring new teachers. Illinois does not have mechanisms to match or share best teachers with low-performing schools or provide alternate means of teacher certification. There are many programs for failing school sand for providing and checking on charter schools and a new intervention task force is in place-- but not enough, and conference calls are being set up statewide to come up with further measures for the Veto Session.

What Rep. Currie says about where the state is:

As part of the federal economic stimulus package, Congress approved the creation of a new program in the U. S. Department of Education. Race to the Top will offer $4.5 billion in competitive grants, and it's expected that fewer than 15 states will share in the winnings.

While not all the states are rising to the challenge, Governor Quinn has said that Illinois will compete and the state Superintendent of Education seconds the motion. Successful states will have to show progress in four areas: 1) strong student assessments and standards; 2) data systems that back up instruction; 3) quality teachers and school leaders; and 4) effective intervention in failing schools.

Illinois is on track in some of these areas. In others, most agree, some additional work could significantly improve our competitive ranking.

Illinois standards stack up well against those of our sister states. We're a leader in a consortium developing assessments and standards that professionals regard as reliable and effective.

This session the legislature passed and the governor signed a measure that will collect student data over time. What better way to find out how effective our instructional programs are than to find out how well our students are learning one year after another? The state legislature appropriated funds to implement data collection, and we've won a $9 million federal grant that will also help.

On quality issues, we're making progress. We've strengthened principal evaluation programs. We're working with several well-regarded national organizations to revamp teacher preparation and evaluation programs and to develop effective ways to mentor new teachers. But we have no mechanisms in place to make sure that the very best teachers are shared with low-performing schools and we fall short in providing alternate mechanisms for teacher certification.

Illinois has several programs in place to help failing schools. We offer comprehensive improvement planning to low-performing schools. We've increased the number of charter schools that may do business in the state, and we do a pretty good job of checking the effectiveness of the charters we have. One of my bills this session created the Innovation, Intervention and Restructuring Task Force to work with educators, parents, civic, business and child advocacy organizations in the effort to find ways to turn our failing schools around. But we should further strengthen the state's ability to intervene in low-performing schools and beef up the support we provide them.

So what exactly should Illinois do? And when shall we do it? The state Superintendent, Chris Koch, is setting up several conference calls this month with all the interested parties--lawmakers, teachers, advocates, parents. I'll be on the line.

Perhaps in these discussions we can forge consensus about the steps we should take. The legislature returns to Springfield in October for the fall veto session. If we can decide on the steps, October is not a moment too soon to take the first of them. The initial application deadline for Race to the Top funding arrives before the beginning of next year--and our kids have a lot at stake.

Illinois gets its first big installment from stimulus (ARRA), Duncan spells out what state must track, do. But it's not enough to save most programs for the state budget axe.

Parents of special needs kids will now have the right to observe their child's present or perspective classroom, under passed HB628.

CPS is dropping the "pay for grades" program. But still, kids were promised and will be disappointed.

A new study out says, documents that the majority of charter schools are underperforming cf traditional. Visit

Find the new Urban Education Institute book on Organizing Schools for Reform-Lessons from Chicago.

Fall 2009: Kenwood Academy Brotherhood mentoring project turns students into published authors of manual, gets national attention and emulation

From the Hyde Park Herald December 2 2009. By Daschell M. Phillips

Supporters and members of Kenwood Academy High School's male mentor program, the Brotherhood, gathered to celebrate its newly published book, "The Brotherhood," a mentoring manual, last Tuesday at a book signing at the school.

The Brotherhood is an intensive school-based male mentoring program created at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone ave., in 2004. Its purpose is to increase the graduation rate of African and Latino males. The group has grown from 25 members at Kenwood in 2004 to more than 300 members as the program has established Brotherhood groups at several schools in the Chicago Public School system, including Phillips High, 244 E. Pershing Road.

The idea for the group, which was once called Knights of the Round Table, was formed by students Kyle McGhee and Howard Stokes, who wanted "to help freshmen stay out of trouble and focused on education," McGhee said. McGhee and Stokes took the idea to Dr. Shelby Wyatt, counselor at Kenwood, and he agreed to be the advisor for the group.

The Brotherhood meets weekly after school for group discussions and activities include leadership retreats and college tours. All of the boys who have participated in the Brotherhood so far have graduated from high school, according to CPS.

The Brotherhood class of 2005 wrote "The Brother's Key" from a student's perspective, according to Wyatt. Wyatt said his proposal to teh group in 2005 to write "The Brother's Key," which was part of an assignment to receive a grant, wasn't well received in the beginning because it took the boys away from their regular activities. he said after awhile the boys dedicated themselves to the assignment, and,once they were done, he took it to one of the English teachers to have it edited, and she returned it with a note saying, "The boys corrected it themselves, adn it didn't need editing."

The American School of Counselors Association, or ASCA, asked the Brotherhood to expound on "The Brother's Key," which was a mentoring manual tailored to the Kenwood group, and write a book that explains how to create a school-based male mentoring program using the ASCA model of academic, social and career development. ASCA published the book this year [2009] so that counselors across the Untied States could implement similar programs.

Derrick Smith, teacher at the Northern Illinois University, Center for Black Studies, said when Wyatt called him several years ago looking for a place for the Brotherhood's leadership retreat, he predicted that the group would make a great impact on school systems across the country. At the book signing, Smith told Shelby that the group would now impact another population of boys. "This is going to the juvenile system," Smith said.

Smith said that lack of guidance for African American and Latino boys "is not just a problem in schools, it's also in the streets, so we're going to have to take this to the streets.."

The Brotherhood is not new to outreach work. At the book signing they showed a video clip from Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif. The school asked for help from the Brotherhood with building unity and increasing the graduation rates of its African American and Latino boys.

The Brotherhood has also presented at the ASCA conference each year since 2006 attending meetings in Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and Dallas, and has been asked by the group to present a 3-hour workshop in Boston in 2010.

Juan Flores, freshman at Kenwood, said that by being a part of the Brotherhood he has already learned a lot about becoming a responsible man. "I was interested in the group because of its diversity," Flores said. "I've learned to respect my elders and show courtesy no matter what the circumstances."

For more information about the Brotherhood at Kenwood, visit

PACs, parent advisory councils seem to be becoming gaining in importance, but CPS seems to be trying to make them uniform and under a very tight leash. Herald report May 6, 2009 by Daschell M. Phillips. Parents want say in creation of formal PAC bylaws.

To improve its compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), Chicago Public Schools is taking steps to create formalized bylaws for parent advisory councils. The first part of the NCLB local educational agency policy states: A local educati9onal agency may receive funds under this part only if such agency implements programs, activities, and procedures for the involvement of parents in programs assisted under this part consistent with this section. Such programs, activities, and procedures shall be planned and implemented with meaningful consultation with parents of participating children."

Jose Alvarez, executive director at the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Local School Council and Community Relations, said CPS is formalizing the parent advisory council (PAC) bylaws so there will be uniformity in the rules and regulations in the case of an audit. He said a 13-member parent advisory board was formed to visit PAC meetings, gather information and get parents feedback as they create the formal bylaws.

Local PAC members who have attended these meetings said CPS has not done a good job involving parents in the process. Alice Hill, parent of a Fenger High School student, vice chair to the national PAC and a member of the Kenwood-based Peer Parent Education Network, or PPEN, said CPS is trying to undermine parents' abilities to manage themselves.

In the first draft of the bylaws Hill said CPS changed the terms of office from two years to one and removed the opportunity for community members to join the PAC board. "CPS came to the PAC meetings with ideas to see how they felt - that's not getting parents involved," said Hill. "We are to be in on decision-making process, not vote on what they decide to bring before us."

Sheila Wesonga, parent of a Kenwood Academy student and PAC member, said if CPS wouldn't have left parents out of the decision making process they would have realized a more tailored approach to creating the bylaws is needed. She said that by creating a parent advisory board, CPS eradicated local involvement.

"One size fits all is not something I agree with," said Wesonga. "What works at one school may not work at another school. I'd rather give each school a template to look at and each can apply their own bylaws." Although they are not pleased with the process so far, the parents said they understand that this is just the beginning. "We're still working - we know the process isn't over," said Wesonga.

Back on front burner: restoring 7th and 8th grades at Murray- effect on Canter? More in Canter page.

There was a rebellion a few years ago when many parents and LSC members objected to sending students from magnet-school Murray to then-new Canter Middle School. Canter had many problems then, but has been moving up. In early 2010 a huge rally was held in the school promoting bringing back 7th and 8th grades.

Issues include, when should the needs of parents in a school--esp. when the school has a high proportion from outside the neighborhood--be allowed to trump neighborhood strategy and/or potentially undermine two existing schools nearby, the already-magnet Kenwood Acad. Ctr. and the neighborhood Canter? Whose neighborhood strategy-- does this relate somehow to increasing particularly the number of well-off families in the neighborhood and increasing housing and density in their behalf (several buildings are indeed being upscaled)? Does Hyde Park already have enough middle school capacity-- Kenwood Acad. Center gifted heavily from outside the neighborhood, UC Lab School drawing from inside and out, Canter a neighborhood.... ?

Here is the Herald's report January 27, 2010. By Daschell M. Phillips

The Murray Elementary Local School Council, or LSC, held a community forum Thursday to present a request to Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, to return Murray to a K-8 school.

On November 30, the Murray LSC sent a request to CPS requesting the reinstatement of its 7th grade class in fall 2010. Murray, which is a selective enrollment magnet school, would fill the seats with its current student population and then have a city-wide lottery to fill the remaining seats.

In the school's large gym, parents and children that attend Murray, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave., crowded onto the bleachers and surrounding foldout chairs waving signs and chanting signs in favor of adding the grades -- making the meeting more of a pep rally than a CPS forum.

"As an LSC member, I get lots of questions from parents who find it stressful to have to find another school for their child," said Rhonda Hawkins-Like, president of the Murray LSC. "As a parent, I also held out hope for a 7th and 8th grade."

Greg Mason, principal of Murray, said that year after year he has to counsel parents once the reality of their child's need to transfer sets in. "Parents ar so happy once their children are accepted to Murray for kindergarten," Mason said. "Then the faces of the parents start to change after two or three years and they begin to stress about where to send their kids for 7th and 8th grade."

At the forum, parents were asked to write their questions on index cards that would be read to the panel that included Mason and acting CPS board chairman Clare Mufiana, CPS Board member Alberto Carrero, CPS CIO Bob Runcie, CPS Chief of Staff David Pickens, CPS Autonomous Management and Performance schools, or AMPS, representative Anthony Dominick and Abigail Joseph from the CPS Office of Academic Enrichment. Mae Wilson, chief of staff of Ald. Toni Preckwinkle's (4th) office was also a part of the panel.

One of the main questions was why Murray discontinued their 7th and 8th graded program in the first place. The idea to turn Murray into a K-6 school was made at teh community level, Mason said. in 2020 the LSCs of Murray, Ray.., Shoesmith.. and Bret Harte... elementary schools felt it would be nice to have each school feed into Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave., which in turn would be a feeder school for Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone.

"This is a magnet school, and our kids are from all over the city, so Canter was not a natural next step for them," Mason said.

Mason said the 7th and 8th grade classes would be up to par with the current academic standard of Murray. Additional staff and teachers would be hired and gifted and honors programs would be offered. He's already targeted classrooms that wil be cleared out to make room for the upperclassmen should the school receive CPS approval.

Runcie said, based on preliminary observation, Murray has the capacity to return to a K-8 school. Parents were encouraged to send letters in support of the school's request to CPS CEO Ron Huberman.

Murray regains 7th and 8th grades. Hyde Park Herald March 31, 2010. By Daschell M. Phillips

Murray Elementary School parents will no longer have to worry about where to place their children after 6th grade because at it March 24 meeting, the Chicago Board of Education approved the school's request to return 7th and 8th grades to the school.

In 2002, the local school councils, or LSCs, of Murray... Ray... Shoesmith... and Bret Harte.. decided that the elementary schools should stop at 6th grade so they could serve as feeder schools for Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave.

Murray, being the only magnet school in the Hyde Park neighborhood, found that this was not to the school's advantage. Students allover the city could attend Murray, so Canter was not a natural next step for those families, and anxious parents were pulling their children out as early as 4th grade in order to get them in a high-performing school that went up to 8th grade. Because of these trends, the Murray LSC sent a request to Chicago Public Schools to allow the reinstatement of its 7th and 8th grade classes.

In fall 2010, 7th grade classes will be added and 8th grade classes will be added the following year. Murray, which is a selective enrolment magnet school, would fill the seats with its current student population and then have a citywide lottery to fill the remaining seats.

"We are very excited and grateful to the board of education for listening to the parents of Murray," said Rhonda Hawkins-Like, president of the Murray LSC. Hawkins-Like, who has a daughter, Arya, in 4th grade and a son, Austin, in kindergarten in Murray, said the committees are being formed to work with schools with a similar language-oriented curriculum to develop the upper grades.

Maria Jossey-Owen, parent teacher organization president and parent of Otel, a kindergartner at Murray, said she is ecstatic about the decision because now she can stop her search for a new school. "Being a language school, it's hard to find a school like this at a 6th grade level." Jossey-Owen said. "Otel is learning French now. If I had to transfer him after 6th grade, he wouldn't have it again until he was in high school."

Herald says "We need to stand behind Canter" (same issue as above article)

The decision by Murray Language Academy's principal and local school council to return 7th an 8th grades to the school should cause local schools boosters to reflect on the state of Canter Middle School and support for it. When the plan was originally presented to turn Canter into a middle school for other elementary schools in the neighborhood, it generated quite a bit of enthusiasm. Is local support for the school dwindling?

By all indications, the school's principal, Colleen Conlan, is doing a find job with the resources she has to spruce the place up -- even replacing the forbidding, industrial doors that once confronted students with warmer, more appropriate portals. Inside and out, the school looks well-maintained -- and is. Parents seem satisfied with their children's performance there. So why would Murray parents turn their back on the school?

For one thing, many of them are from outside the neighborhood, so our idea to use Canter as a feeder school to Kenwood Academy may not appeal to them, regardless of the quality of either school. Also, it seems some are just not sold on the middle school philosophy. That's probably their loss, as studies do seem to reinforce the idea that students in these grades do require a different sort of approach than they did when they were younger and wil when they are older.

When Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) convinced the neighborhood that a tax increment financing district was needed to rejuvenate Hyde Park, a major promise was made to funnel money into Canter -- in particular, an addition was promised for the school. Well, roughly a decade has gone by, and Preckwinkle is likely leaving to be Cook County Board president, and that promise has gone unfulfilled. More than $2 million sits idle in the TIF fund, and a high-quality elementary school has turned away from the project. Would a larger, better-equipped Canter have appealed to more Murray parents? At this point, it appears we wil never know.

Hyde Parkers, we need to rededicate ourselves to supporting Canter as a central part of our education plan, and we need to make sure we are explaining to the parents of children taught here how serious we are about their children's education. Canter and Kenwood stand among the finest public education opportunities in the city. Let's make sure that continues to be the case -- and that we reward that excellence.



Why the Freshman On Track program at Kenwood is so important

Students love Kenwood program. April 29 2009 Herald. By Daschell M. Phillips.

The Freshman On-Track program at Kenwood Academy held its second and third quarter achievement breakfast last Tuesday, awarding more than 100 students. Parents sat proudly... in the school's King room... Thanks to the ... program, their children beat the odds and made the honor roll for the second and/or third quarter this year.

As Freshman On-Track Coordinator Michelle Jackson called out the name of each student and passed them a certificate, parents clapped, took pictures and recorded the special moment. Students also cheered each other on during the ceremony. Although this is not graduation day, the parents whose children have met or exceeded standards for their grade level feel thankful.

"I have an older daughter who came here in 7th grade and each year her friends dropped out one by one and she also didn't graduate," said Adrienne Pinkney, who attended the honors breakfast with her youngest daughter Kamille. "If this program was here back then they probably wouldn't have dropped out. I applaud Principal [Elizabeth] Kirby for bringing this program in because if you don't reach them as freshmen then you lose them."

according to a five-year collaborative research project with the Chicago Public schools (CPS) Graduation Pathways Office and the Consortium on Chicago School Research, which was released last yer, half the students who enter a CPS high school don't graduate. "There are 100,000 -- a small city -- of students who have dropped out," said Carmita Vaughan, chief of staff of the Office of High Schools and High School Programs. "If we can intervene early in the process's, then we can get them back."

After monitoring the outcome, the team recognized ... patterns that revealed which students were at-risk of dropping out: Students who are over age when they enter high school, students who miss more than 20 days of school their freshman year, students who fail two or more core classes in their freshman year adn student who have fewer than five credits by the end of their freshman year.

Based on their finding the team recommended that the school board adopt several retention programs including the Freshman On-Track program -- formally the Step Up program -- which includes a four week summer program for students between 8th an 9th grade and credit recovery programs.

All incoming freshmen at Kenwood, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., are a part of the Freshman On-Track program, which is led by Jackson and Freshman On-Track Facilitator Inez Jones. There are currently 444 freshmen in the program. Jackson said the three components of the program are prevention, intervention and credit recovery.

The honors ceremony is a part of the prevention process for freshmen, whose first experience with their new high school began with Freshman Connection, an 8-week program that prepares incoming freshmen for high school. "The program helps them become familiar with their teachers and the high school schedule," said Jackson.

She said the freshmen also have a three-day event during the school year when they go to on a tour of colleges in the city such as University of Chicago, Northeastern University, University of Illinois and Roosevelt University "so they can begin to get a taste of what college is like." "we are the first school to take our freshmen on college tours, Jackson said. "The exposure makes them begin to think maybe I can go to college."

Jackson said she and Davis blanket the freshmen with support as soon as they come in the door. She said the program provides the students with tutoring, study support, help students understand the quarterly and class credit systems and instructions on how to check the online grade book.

There is also a 10-week program where teachers meet with small groups after school to teach study skills. The Freshman On-Track program also recruits several teachers to come in during winter and spring break to help students who are behind on their work complete make up assignments.

According to teh most recent numbers given tot he Herald by press time, the percentage of freshmen that have not failed more than one core class has risen steadily through the Freshman On-Track program. The percentage has risen from 60.6 percent in 2004 to 75.6 percent in 2007. Many of the students at the honors event said it was not a chore to visit the Freshman On-Track office to see how they are progressing. Marrisail Bailey said that he stops by the office every day during his lunch break. "They keep me on track by letting me know what classes I am not doing well in and what I need to do to bring my grades up," said Bailey, wlho attends the TLC after school tutoring prog dram to help keep his math grades up.

Desean Lee said that his grades are good but he likes to visit Jackson because she's nice and cool and he can relate to her because "she keeps it real." Jamara Bell said in addition to visiting the Freshman On-Track office, she constantly hears the school's motto "Our Mission is College" being announced on the intercom and that motivates her to continue to work hard. "Ms. Jackson helps me keep my grades up and is helping me make plans for next year," said Bell, who is thinking about joining the volleyball or softball team.

Kamille Pinkney said it's easy to talk to Jackson and Davis because it's not like talking to a teacher. "They help me keep my grades up and stay focused," said Pinkney, who quit the basketball team so that she could keep her grades up.

Jackson was surprise to hear that the students appreciate her tough love, but she, the students and several parents noticed that this quarter's honors event was not as full as the last one.

"The students are work with the most are not in this room," Jackson said. "Although they are not doing their best, they are doing okay because they are still here."

_____2009 Kenwood graduate Derrius Quarles was offered over a million dollars in scholarships. He will attend Morehouse College in pre-med.

The CPS has been shown to be poor and vague in its reporting-- see PURE and foia on CPS in Schools home.

Date: Monday, April 20, 2009, 11:21 AM

As detailed below, Illinois is among the 1st of three states to have its application approved for the first portion of State Fiscal Stabilization Funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications & Outreach, Press Office400 Maryland Ave., S.W. Washington,
D.C. 20202FOR RELEASE: Monday, April 20, 2009CONTACT: Sandra Abrevaya, (202) 401-1576sandra.abrevaya@ed.govNEARLY $1.4 BILLION IN RECOVERY FUNDS NOW AVAILABLE FOR ILLINOIS TO SAVE JOBSAND DRIVE REFORMApplication for Part 1 of Illinois' State Stabilization Funds Approved Today U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that nearly$1.4 billion is now available for Illinois under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. This funding will lay the foundation for a generation of education reform and help save thousands of teaching jobs at risk of state and local budget cuts. "The real impact of the nearly $2 billion Illinois has received so far will be determined not at the federal level, but at the local level in districts across the state," Duncan said. "We will be watching to see if Illinois state leaders, superintendents, principals and teachers seize this critical opportunity to turn around whole systems and schools." Illinois is receiving $1.4 billion today per the State's successful completion of Part 1 of the State Stabilization Application, which was made available April 1. Eighty two percent of these funds are to be distributed to public elementary, secondary, and higher education institutions, with the remaining 18 percent to be available for education, school modernization, public safety, or other government services. Illinois, California and South Dakota are the first three states to successfully complete applications and be approved for the first round of state stabilization funding. Illinois will be eligible to apply for another $678 million in state stabilization funds this fall. To date, Illinois has received nearly $500 million in education stimulus funds-- representing a combination of funding for Title I, IDEA,Vocational Rehabilitation grants, Independent Living grants, Impact Aid dollar sand Homeless Education grants. On April 1, Illinois received more than $210million in Title I funding and more than $270 million in IDEA funding. This amount represents 50 percent of the total Title I and IDEA funding for which Illinois is eligible. On April 1, Illinois also received more than $10 million in Vocational Rehab funds and nearly $2 million in Independent Living funds. On April 10, the state received more than $624,000 in Impact Aid Funding and $2.6million in Homeless Education grants. In order to receive today's funds, Illinois provided assurances that they will collect, publish, analyze and act on basic information regarding the quality of classroom teachers, annual student improvements, college readiness, the effectiveness of state standards and assessments, progress
on removing charter caps, and interventions in turning around underperforming schools. Illinois is also required by the U.S. Department of Education to report the number of jobs saved through Recovery Act funding, the amount of state and local tax increases averted, and how funds are used.

At a UC Outreach forum April 2009, two principals highlighted the university's efforts to improve education in the community. Success at a four-year college is th main goal of the university's four charter schools, said Shayne Evans, director of the University of Chicago Charter School - Woodlawn Campus. The charters are outperforming other local schools in scores adn placement in selective-enrollment high schools, he said, but he warned against complacency. "We have god schools so far.. but good is the enemy of great," he said.

Elizabeth Kirby, principal of Kenwood Academy, said the university has been a close collaborator, sponsoring special programs in the school and sending in tutors to help students adn teachers. Rev. Marrice Coverson, who heads the Institute for Positive Living, an after-school literacy program in Bronzeville,said she felt the university could do more to engage students outside its charter system. Kirby said a university tutor was a personal lifeline to her when she was beginning her teaching career at Kenwood. Duel Richardson, director of neighborhood relations and education in the Office of Civic Engagement said that the university also reaches out to youth through the Office of Special Programs adn College Preparation, founded by the late coach and teacher Larry Hawkins. Top

In a December 2009 forum, most of the table exploration related to schools was on promise zones.


Rep. Currie, Sen. Currie rebuke schools chief Huberman on new substitute rules for select and magnet schools, without a race consideration

Background, September 25, 2009. Judge Kokoris ends Chicago Desegregation Consent Decree after 29 years. A federal judge has ended the desegregation consent decree for Chicago's Public Schools, 29 years to the day after the federal government sued the district for discriminating against black and Hispanic students. Under the decree, white students were allowed a maximum of 35 percent of seats at the city's top schools. The elimination of the decree also frees the district from requirements regarding bilingual students.CPS had argued the district should no longer be bound by the order. The district says it no longer operates a system that favors white students, who now make up only 8 percent of the system.

An open letter to CPS head Ron Huberman

We want quality and equal-educational opportunities for all Chicago Public School (CPS) students. The federal court has ended the consent decree under which CPS was required to guarantee specific racial and ethnic enrollment goals for magnet and selective enrollment schools. And a recent United States Supreme Court.

We have grave concerns that your new admissions policy will undercut minority enrollment in our high-performing magnet and selective enrollment schools.

You read the Supreme Court 2007 decision as if it denies a school system the ability to use race at all as a factor in the admissions process. Justice Kennedy's controlling opinion, however, makes clear that while race cannot be used as the sole factor, race can be used in a nuanced way to promote racial and ethnic diversity. As Justice Kennedy wrote, "the decision today should not prevent school districts from continuing the important work of bringing together students of different racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds."

The Louisville school system took Kennedy's words to heart and continues to use race as one factor in the admissions process. We would suggest CPS embrace this approach rather than relying only, as you propose to do, on factors related to socio-economic status (SES). Racial diversity dropped significantly in the San Francisco, Charlotte and cambridge public schools when student assignment plans were based solely on SES.

Ours is a diverse city. To ensure our continued viability and vibrancy we must continue our commitment to inclusion and equal opportunity. We urge you to reconsider your proposed admissions policy. Without using race as a factor, we fear that our magnet and selective enrollment schools will no longer reflect the diversity that makes our city great.

Senator James Meeks (I-15) introduces bills for more vouchers, charters, end to LSC powers- latter bombs.

The fate of those first is uncertain and is an attempt to pressure the legislature to do better by children, efforts to increase taxes and fund education seemingly going nowhere (Voices for Illinois Children, Coalition for Responsible Education apparently disagreeing). It should be noted that Rev./Sen. Meeks's church has a school that could be a beneficiary of vouchers.

His latest effort, SB 6063, to scrap powers of the Local School Councils, partly in an effort to make CPS more responsible and remove powers from the Mayor (opponents including KOCO, Clergy for Change, Bronzeville Education Advocacy Movement/BEAM, Designs for Change, and PURE) say it does the opposite and removes a key check) appears to be going nowhere with no supporters, and will likely die in committee.

Some thoughts on the improvement mountain and how hard it is to get kids into good schools in the city

(See formal research in the UC schools research page. See report on How to Walk to School prescription.)

Julie Woestehoff of Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) writes in March 2010:

Dad of two CPS seventh-graders Eric Zorn shares a common experience in his column this morning: how to deal with the extraordinary pressures the CPS selective enrollment system puts on 12 year old children. He describes his conflicted feelings about "helping" one of them get a better grade in a couple of recent assignments.

Zorn had called me to talk about the situation, and we had a long conversation about the current system and what might be a better alternative to the increasingly two-tiered CPS school system. I'd offered some thoughts on this subject before in response to an earlier Zorn column on vouchers. (Here's the gist of what I wrote.) In his annotated column, Zorn states that he disagrees with my "optimism" that all schools could be improved, though he leaves out my condition that all schools be given the same level of support that, say, R2010 schools receive.

But reading the various responses to Zorn's column makes it clear that few folks are really interested in thinking realistically about improving all schools. Those that think they have the answer to failing schools offer vouchers, home schooling, or fairy tales like Urban Prep -- which "lost" 50 students in order to "win" a reputation for sending 100% of its graduates to college.

Those of us who believe in school reform instead of "magic bullets" have our work cut out for us.

Debates continue.. (more in Promises, Community Schools, UC Research, Defining Excellence pages)

Debates continue over whether, what reform works, vouchers, charters...

An alternative to the division of schools into age appropriate grades and schools (including separate for middle school -agers) that also seeks to be holistic, enriched and full service is the Little Village CPS "little red schoolhouse" K-12 Spry Community School with Community Links High School. There is complete intermingling and tutoring/mentoring of older and younger pupils in sections (such as the lunch room) and time slots.

From the Tribune's Opinion page, April 29

The value of education competition

Tribune columnist Steve Chapman dismisses the past 20 years of school-voucher competition in Milwaukee as ineffective because children in voucher schools currently don't do any better than children in Milwaukee's public schools ("Education reforms get a failing grade," Commentary, April 15). That's like dismissing the past 20 years of telecommunication deregulation as ineffective because AT&T's competitors currently don't provide any better service than AT&T, ignoring the fact that everyone today has lots of other options to choose from that weren't even imagined before deregulation. Sure telephone services today are all about on the same level, but that level keeps on rising because of competition. Competition really is a tide that lifts all boats.

The same is true with voucher competition in Milwaukee, which has raised the overall level of education so that all students in the city, in both public schools and voucher schools, are doing better than without vouchers. This was reported last year by the same University of Arkansas research group that published the results cited by Chapman. Other research shows voucher students have significantly higher graduation rates than their peers in Milwaukee's public schools. And all this is achieved by voucher schools at roughly half the $14,000 per student spent in the city's public schools.

Why haven't vouchers produced the educational equivalent of the iPhone in Milwaukee? Because those vouchers are what Milton Friedman called "charity" vouchers, pale reflections of the universal vouchers he proposed in 1955. You can't expect to get the results Friedman predicted if you water down his recipe.

— George A. Clowes, senior fellow for education policy, The Heartland Institute, Chicago

Effective school reform

Tribune editorial board member Steve Chapman took an important step away from the paper's traditional drum-beating for charters, vouchers and other forms of school privatization by openly acknowledging the solid evidence that these strategies aren't working. We strongly agree that imposing one-size-fits-all solutions such as those mandated by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's Race to the Top program is the wrong approach. We hope that Chapman's thoughtful analysis will migrate across the page and that the full editorial board will retract its support for the pending state voucher bill, unlimited charter schools and test-driven teacher evaluation. It would be even better if the Tribune put its weight behind education reforms with real track records of success.

Effective school reform is tedious, time-consuming and rarely "newsy." Are you ready to get behind it?

— Julie Woestehoff, executive director, Parents United for Responsible Education, Chicago

Improvement is possible

We and our colleagues at the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago read with interest Steve Chapman's April 15 column. While we share Chapman's skepticism toward broad one-size-fits-all fixes, we respectfully disagree with his conclusion that "the main thing we know about improving schools is that we don't know very much."

In fact we know a great deal about school improvement, particularly in our own back yard. We know, for example, that many Chicago schools in very disadvantaged neighborhoods have made significant, sustained achievement gains during the past two decades of reform. More important, we know why.

Consortium researchers have spent more than 20 years analyzing school, student and census data from the Chicago Public Schools. These analyses have revealed that while there is no "silver bullet" for school reform, there is a reliable recipe.

Improving schools look alike: They have strong principals who reach out to teachers and parents as partners in school improvement; close working relationships with parents and other community institutions; committed staff members eager to collaborate and innovate; safe, orderly and nurturing environments; and well-structured curriculums.

We call these key ingredients the "essential supports for school improvement." Schools that measure strong in all five essential supports are at least 10 times as likely as schools with just one or two strengths to achieve substantial gains in reading and math.

A sustained weakness in just one essential support undermines virtually all attempts at improving learning.

To be sure achieving strength in all five essential supports is a daunting task, and much more difficult in some schools than others. But our analysis shows that improvement is possible, even in schools surrounded by crushing levels of poverty and violence.

— Penny Bender Sebring and Elaine Allensworth, interim co-executive directors, Consortium on Chicago School Research, University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute

In a teacher's shoes

I profoundly disagree with the Tribune's misguided calls to turn primary and secondary education into a private business. Rather than engaging in a war of words, however, I would like to propose a challenge instead: Try it.

If you are so sure that tenured, unionized teachers are the root cause of all the problems with education, I invite the members of your editorial board to make themselves available as substitute teachers in a local school district for a few weeks or even a month.

Surely they will have no problem finding many opportunities to observe real teachers in action or to teach students at all levels.

Perhaps their time as substitutes will confirm their arguments, but I suspect instead that it will show them all of the challenges that teachers in a public school system face that make their work so demanding and thankless, tenure or no tenure.

In addition I also trust that it would allow them to see how teachers can help and improve the lives of students from difficult backgrounds in ways that no standardized test can possibly ever show.

Two years ago I served as a substitute teacher for four months in the Waukegan public school district, and this experience, not my time as a student, showed me what the education system was truly like, warts and all.

I encourage the editorial board members to pursue a similar experience, as perhaps then they may produce a useful opinion on education reform that is grounded in reality.

The board may cite as many statistics, blue-ribbon panels and stump speeches as it likes, but until it has actually walked a mile in a teacher's shoes, its vision of education reform remains little more than a naive fantasy.

— Christopher Fletcher, Chicago


PURE writes Michele Obama asking for a learning diet of enrichment and creativity rather than teaching to high-stakes tests. May 2010

LET'S MOVE away from high-stakes testing!

You are a strong advocate for our children's physical health, and for that we thank you. Today we are asking you to be a strong advocate for their mental, emotional and intellectual health, too – to promote the fitness of their minds as well as their bodies.

You planted a garden at the White House to give children a hands-on experience that would help them begin to think about nutrition. Our children need a garden of learning, too, where we plant great ideas, get children excited about education, and harvest academic success for every student. You've asked children to get active, to move, play, and get involved in sports. Children also need to be freed from bubble sheet learning-- to get up off of their desk chairs in class to create, demonstrate, and integrate!

We'd like you to join us in a new campaign – “Let's Move Away from High-Stakes Testing.” The goal of this campaign is to make sure that children grow up with healthy minds, learning a full, enriched curriculum nurtured by a variety of healthy, active, hands-on instructional and assessment methods.

It's important that the whole country get behind healthy learning, and this includes everyone understanding more about what can happen when schools depend too much on standardized tests.

Because, unfortunately, high-stakes testing is an invasive weed in our healthy garden of learning. Teaching to the test has choked out critical areas like the arts, science, history and civics along with physical activity and sports.

Like fast food, high-stakes tests are easy, cheap, quick – and potentially unsafe when overused. Yet they have become the main dish of schooling despite the warnings of scientists that they should be used only sparingly, in a balanced "assessment diet."

High-stakes testing seems to have a disproportionately negative impact on low-income children whose schools can be the educational equivalent of the urban “food desert.” Unlike more upscale areas, these neighborhoods don't offer a lot of fresh produce or wide varieties of foods, and their schools tend to focus more on the empty calories of test drill than on an enriched, varied curriculum.

It's not by choice that this situation has developed. Schools across the U. S. have been force-fed this testing regime under the harsh test-and-punish policies of the No Child Left Behind Act.

As Congress begins to rewrite this law, we are asking for your help to phase out the bad, unhealthy aspects of testing in our schools and help us replace them with an educational diet and exercise program of enriched curricula, diverse instruction, and appropriate, high-quality assessments.

Woodlawn Promise and Hyde Park Academy updates

March 26, 2011 update.

Woodlawn Summit March 26 2011. Education Break Out Session
A short video was shown. The theme was everyone taking ownership of the problems of schools and children and the importance of dealing with the whole child including physical activity and development. This somewhat merges with the theme of Race to Nowhere.
A lady from the West Side Collaborative for Civic Engagement spoke. She gave a website called What they do is bring parents and community residents into the schools (monitors, corridors, aides and lots more) and outside (safe passage, playground... and dealing with the hurdles kids face to even get to school). They found they can do a lot without money, but you have to make a “village” of the community before the village can raise the children.

Thomas Trotter, Principal of Hyde Park Career Academy, took up the majority of the time. One of the school’s big problem is that it has to take lots of kids from schools that have been closed—across multiple gang boundaries and 35 and more minutes just to get there—and Hyde Park High looks enough better than the alternatives to the parents who care about where their kids go that they sent them to HP. That doesn’t mean all the kids coming are prepared, or performers, or care. Kids have to practice strategies every day, whether going down a gang path or resisting it--- “I can’t take x bus because members of such and such gang are on it, or it will encounter a rival gang and be shot at.”
He said what made a difference for him growing up is that through encouragement he took alternatives to “hanging out” on corners with gangs that seem to many kids to offer safety—instead he went to fieldhouses and playgrounds, where there were adults who mentored and kept them in line, and especially if they had sports aptitude funneled them to the school coaches. The adults also made sure it was safe to kids to get their park.

He recited things that schools do provide: it’s generally safe compared to the outside. And it has adults. He touted athletics and other structured activity that teaches the interpersonal and, he said, entrepreneurial skills, including managing people and situations, that the kids need.

It’s essential for community people to be with the kids after 3 pm. The high school has set up such a program and will have a full summer camp staffed largely by parents.

He has put each assistant principal in charge of one of the grades, with specific goals they and the teacher are to achieve. A partnership is being developed with the Woodlawn Promise Community. He said scores and much else are turning around and this or the next should be the take-off year.

Dr. Charles Payne, sociologist and author, Director of the Woodlawn Promise Community, and Interim Chief Education Officer of CPS spoke as much as was possible in remaining time. He praised the strong principals for buying into the program and working to develop and refine the model. He said the biggest problems so far (other than ramping up staff without reducing the commitment to doing program) are getting enough parents and other adults into the in and outside school program and reducing student mobility and stopping the moving of kids continually from one school down the block to the next.

One strategy that is really working is going back to something they did in the 19th century—kids teaching kids. The 8th graders can’t get enough of mentoring and tutoring the kindergartners-1st graders. The older kids learn they can teach, which becomes a viable option for them. They start to compare notes and take collaborative ownership. And it starts the job of elementary kids acquiring readiness.
For academics he warned that the number one thing is that schools have to increase the number of students EXCEEDING rather than “meeting” standards—the meets category is a joke in CPS and won’t prepare kids for college or much else, and if they do get to college they will waste time on remedial and get further behind.

The second thing is that it’s much more than academics. “THE PROMISE CHILD IS ONE WHO IS ABLE TO BE AN ADVOCATE, ACTIVIST, AND ACCOUNTABLE PERSON, A LEADER WHO IS A CONTRIBUTOR TO THEIR COMMMUNITY—in the school years, not just after, A PERSON WHO ASKS ‘WHAT CAN I DO.” They not only get along with each other but are responsible for each other. Without that we cannot counter one of the worst problems in youth today—VIOLENCE and a general failure of interpersonal relations in which people work against rather than with each other. And being responsible to and for others is the start of being able to function in the workplace and business. A motto being used in the promise schools is “teach- lead-nurture.” And it’s making a difference especially with the boys. Of course, you have to have faith in the kids in the first place rather than considering kids to be “problems” to be managed or solved.
Some of the elements introduced in the schools are

Algebra labs. High school kids are paid not just to tutor but to teach the junior higher under certified teachers who manage but don’t do the teaching. The junior higher in turn tutor the younger.

The parent program. 10 to 15 a year are trained and put in the schools—now each cohort takes ownership of their task—“this is our 3rd grade” or lunchroom, or… PS, most parents do care, but you have to provide supports to help them get around the barriers. The parents also do the safety patrols to school and in school, tutor, act as greeters (THAT HAS MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN BUILDING A SENSE THAT THIS SCHOOL IS PARENT-FRIENDLY) and form mothers and dads clubs.

Social workers in schools (takes outside funding). Something called IDPA-free from the state under a Dr. George Smith of MPI and Associates. This includes trauma counseling and 10-week sessions with groups of students.
Safe transportation to schools and recreation centers. A Faith partnership, in which the church vans take the kids to school and home in small batches—it’s helping with the ongoing absence and tardiness problems both Payne and Trotter noted. It’s under the clergy committee, with leveraging resources an centers collaboratively, creating a neighborhood directory of safe centers and services, and adopt-a-school. Note- the big problem for kids remains that the streets are not safe for them after 5 pm in Woodlawn and the feeder neighborhoods.
Reentry program for people who have returned from prison ages 16-24 but don’t have schooling and skills- Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp. sponsors 60 at ex offenders.

Health Committee—immunizations are now up 15% so fewer kids are being sent home in January.

Hope is to have a social service center at 65th and Kenwood.

There is a new collaboration with the Chicago Children’s Museum.

Chapin Hall is starting a Needs Assessment Survey (what families and children need for support)- 1600 will be interviewed, with 200 in-depths.

There is also a collaboration with Ounce of Prevention anti-violence program now also serving birth to age 8.
Freedom Schools will take place in summer. (This and the previous 5 items and the clergy committee work are also in conjunction with Hyde Park Career Academy)

Request that Woodlawn form a CPS Area—under consideration by CPS. And it is a Illinois Safety Area funded under IDPA Neighborhood Recovery Initiatives, which brings 80-100 jobs for youth and others for adults. Much of this is under Magic and something called MAP housed at 1st Presbyterian. There is policing team diagnostics, a parent component with stipends. Purpose is to rebuild the “village” block by block [which was the subtitle of today’s summit].

A new executive director of the Promise Community is about to be announced.
Major efforts need to be made on attendance, student mobility (which is 35%) and teacher mobility (60% have been leaving these schools within 4 years), building partnership with the high school, and realizing a new team of principals and police leadership.
To summarize the Promise model as articulated by the principals:
Involving and being responsible to knowledgeable, responsible parents;
Bringing in and training new and buy-in educators;
Principal and administrators being coaches and evaluators—principal spends half the day in classrooms;
Helping families and communities and their groups adopt the schools.

An article from slate says education reform has been hijacked to an agenda of wealthy and corporate segments to rule America and siphon everything to themselves. This website cannot endorse this article, but presents it as food for thought.

The bait and switch of school "reform"
Behind the new corporate agenda for education lurks the old politics of profit and self-interest

Salon 09/12,/2011
In recent weeks the debate over the future of public education in America has flared up again, this time with the publication of the new book "Class Warfare," by Steven Brill, the founder of American Lawyer magazine. Brill's advocacy of "reform" has sparked different strands of criticism from the New York Times, New York University's Diane Ravitch and the Nation's Dana Goldstein.

But behind the high-profile back and forth over specific policies and prescriptions lies a story that has less to do with ideas than with money, less to do with facts than with an ideological subtext that has been quietly baked into the very terms of the national education discussion.

Like most education reporters today, Brill frames the issue in simplistic, binary terms. On one side are self-interested teachers unions who supposedly oppose fundamental changes to schools, not because they care about students, but because they fear for their own job security and wages, irrespective of kids. In this mythology, they are pitted against an alliance of extraordinarily wealthy corporate elites who, unlike the allegedly greedy unions, are said to act solely out of the goodness of their hearts. We are told that this "reform" alliance of everyone from Rupert Murdoch to the Walton family to leading hedge funders spends huge amounts of money pushing for radical changes to public schools because they suddenly decided that they care about destitute children, and now want to see all kids get a great education.

The dominant narrative, in other words, explains the fight for the future of education as a battle between the evil forces of myopic selfishness (teachers) and the altruistic benevolence of noblesse oblige (Wall Street). Such subjective framing has resulted in reporters, pundits and politicians typically casting the "reformers'" arguments as free of self-interest, and therefore more objective and credible than teachers' counter arguments.

This skewed viewpoint becomes clear in this excerpt of a C-Span interview with Brill about "Class Warfare," in which Brill is talking about a group called "Democrats for Education Reform" -- a group financed by major hedge fund managers:

"[The group] was created by a small group of frustrated education reformers ... They happen to be well-to-do frustrated education reformers who were Democrats and they had an epiphany ... And the epiphany they had was that the Democrats, their party, their party that they thought stood for civil rights, were the political party that was most in the way. And what frustrated them was they consider education reform to be the civil rights issue of this era. And they really couldn't believe it was their party that was blocking their idea of reforms that are necessary. So they describe it repeatedly ... as a sort of Nixon-to-China gambit in which Democrats are going to reform the Democratic Party and they've made lots of progress." (emphasis added)

Though self-billed as a work of objective journalism, Brill's book reads like an overwrought ideological manifesto because -- like much of the coverage of education -- it frames the debate in precisely these propagandistic terms.

As Brill and most other education correspondents tell it, those most aggressively trying to privatize public schools and focus education around standardized tests just "happen to be" Wall Streeters -- as if that's merely a random, inconsequential coincidence. Somehow, we are to assume that these same Wall Streeters who make millions off of "parasitic" investment schemes to leech public institutions for private profit couldn't have ulterior motives when it comes to public schools.

No, in the standard fairy tale sold as education journalism, these "reformers" are presented as having had an honest, entirely altruistic "epiphany" that led them to discover that "the reforms that are necessary" (ie., only the policies Wall Street deems acceptable) comprise "the civil rights issue of this era."

In this framing, millionaires and billionaires trying to eviscerate traditional public education from their Manhattan office suites are the new Martin Luther Kings -- even though the empirical data tell us that their schemes to charter-ize and privatize schools have been a systemic failure, often further disadvantaging the most economically challenged students of all (one example: see Stanford's landmark study showing more than a third of kids whom reformers ushered into charter schools were educationally harmed by the move).

The truth, of course, is that for all the denialist agitprop to the contrary, corporate education "reformers" are motivated by self-interest, too. In a sense, these "reformers" are akin to the Bush administration neoconservatives when it came to Iraq. Some of them wanted to invade for oil, some wanted to invade to create a new sphere of influence, some wanted to invade to further isolate Iran, and still others wanted to invade to "spread democracy." But as Paul Wolfowitz famously said, they "settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction" as the public rationale for war.

Same thing for those who fund corporate education "reform": they have a lot of different self-interests, but they've settled on schools as a political target that unifies them all.

So, then, what are those self-interests? Here are three of the biggest ones that go almost entirely unmentioned in the ongoing coverage of the education "reform" debate.

Self-Interest No. 1: Pure Profit

First and foremost, there's a ton of money to be made in the education "reforms" that Big Money interests are advocating.

As the Texas Observer recently reported in its exposé of one school-focused mega-corporation, "in the past two decades, an education-reform movement has swept the country, pushing for more standardized testing and accountability and for more alternatives to the traditional classroom -- most of it supplied by private companies."

A straightforward example of how this part of the profit-making scheme works arose just a few months ago in New York City. There, Rupert Murdoch dumped $1 million into a corporate "reform" movement pushing to both implement more standardized testing and divert money for education fundamentals (hiring teachers, buying textbooks, maintaining school buildings, etc.) into testing-assessment technology. At the same time, Murdoch was buying an educational technology company called Wireless Generation, which had just signed a lucrative contract with New York City's school system (a sweetheart deal inked by New York City school official Joel Klein, who immediately went to work for Murdoch.

Such shenanigans are increasingly commonplace throughout America, resulting in a revenue jackpot for testing companies and high tech firms, even though many of their products have not objectively improved student achievement.

At the same time, major banks are reaping a windfall from "reformers'" successful efforts to take public money out of public schools and put it into privately administered charter schools. As the New York Daily News recently reported:

Wealthy investors and major banks have been making windfall profits by using a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction. The program, the New Markets Tax Credit, is so lucrative that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years...

The credit can even be piggybacked on other tax breaks for historic preservation or job creation. By combining the various credits with the interest from the loan itself, a lender can almost double his investment over the seven-year period.

No wonder JPMorgan Chase announced this week it was creating a new $325 million pool to invest in charter schools and take advantage of the New Markets Tax Credit.

On top of this, "reformers'" initiatives to divert public school money into voucher schemes -- which data show have failed to produce better student achievement -- means potentially huge revenues for the burgeoning for-profit private school industry, an industry that "has fascinated Wall Street for more than a decade," reports PBS Frontline.

The bottom line is clear: In attempting to change the mission of public education from one focused on educating kids to one focused on generating private profit, corporate leaders in the "reform" movement are pursuing a shrewd investment strategy. Millions of dollars go into campaign contributions and propaganda outfits that push "reform," and, if successful, those "reforms" guarantee Wall Street and their investment vehicles much bigger returns for the long haul.

In light of all the money that's already being made off such "reforms" (and that could be made in the future), pretending that businesspeople who make their living on such transactions are not applying their business strategies to education is to promote the fallacy that the entire financial industry is merely a charitable endeavor.

Self-Interest No. 2: Changing the Subject From Poverty and Inequality

Inconvenient as it is to corporate education "reformers," the well-proven fact is that poverty -- not teacher quality, union density or school structure -- is the primary driver of student achievement. We can see this most easily in two sets of data.

First, as the Nation magazine reports, "The research consensus has been clear and unchanging for more than a decade: at most, teaching accounts for about 15 percent of student achievement outcomes, while socioeconomic factors account for about 60 percent." Second, as Dissent magazine notes in its examination of U.S. Department of Education data, American students at low poverty schools consistently score near the top on international tests. Indeed, U.S. students in public schools with a poverty rate of less than 10 percent "outperformed students in all eight participating nations whose reported poverty rates fall below 10 percent."

The reason America's overall scores on such tests are far lower is because high poverty schools produce far worse results -- and as the most economically unequal society in the industrialized world, we have far more poverty than our competitors, bringing down our overall scores accordingly. Predictably, as economic inequality and poverty have spiked in America during the Great Recession, those poverty-fueled education problems have gotten even worse.

This reality obviously represents a problem for the growing ranks of economically struggling Americans. More and more citizens simply cannot afford to live in rich neighborhoods that benefit from a property-tax-based education financing system which has created gated communities out of school districts. As documented in a new study by the University of Kansas,this system allows wealthy enclaves to disproportionately target their tax revenue to their own public schools and "hoard" public monies -- all while other schools in low-income areas are starved for resources.

This structure is hugely beneficial to the super-rich -- but the poverty question poses a potential political problem for them. As the New York Times recently put it, if America realizes that "a substantial part of the problem (is) poverty and not bad teachers, the question would be why people like (Wall Streeters) are allowed to make so much when others have so little."

That question, if it became central in our political discourse, would potentially lead the growing ranks of economically struggling Americans to start demanding governmental policies that address wealth inequality and its consequences -- policies such as re-regulating Wall Street, raising taxes on millionaires, eliminating tax policies that allow revenue hoarding, and targeting disproportionately more public funds at schools in high-poverty areas rather than at schools in wealthy neighborhoods.

But, then, those policies are precisely the ones that offend and threaten rich people. So the wealthiest and most politically astute among them have constructed front groups like "Democrats for Education Reform" to press a message of education "reform" that seeks to change the subject from poverty altogether. Their message basically says that the major problem in America is not the fact that our public policies are helping make more citizens poor, nor the fact that the same economic structure that allows the Walton family to own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the whole nation has one in five kids living in poverty.

No, reformers give us what I've previously called the "Great Education Myth," telling America that the real problem is supposedly the schools -- and that if we just make radical and empirically unproven school changes then everything will supposedly be great. And, tellingly, the "reformers'" specific policy prescriptions tend only to be those changes that don't ask rich people to share in any sacrifice.

Thus, for instance, the "reformers" push to tear up teachers union contracts and demonize the structure of public schools, rather than, say, initiating a discussion about raising more revenue for schools most in need. Seeking to avoid any larger debate about raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for such new education investment, they float their favorite one liner about how we "can't throw money at the problem," even though many of the schools with the biggest challenges need more resources to combat poverty.

You don't have to believe me to know that the need is there; just listen to the corporate education "reformers'" own much-celebrated hero, Harlem Children’s Zone's Geoffrey Canada, who insists schools in high-poverty areas "can’t succeed ... without substantially increased investments in wraparound social services," reports the New York Times. But since those are investments that probably require tax increases, they aren't the thrust of the corporate "reform" movement's agenda.

In the bait-and-switch of the "Great Education Myth," then, the corporate "reformers" get to pretend that they care about poor people and brag that they are benevolently leading "the civil rights issue of this era," when what they are really doing is making sure America doesn't talk about the macroeconomic policies that make Wall Streeters so much money, and impoverish so many others in the process.

Self-interest No. 3: New Front in the War on Unions

Today, unions are one of the last -- and, unfortunately, weakening -- obstacles to corporations' having complete control of the American political system. Whenever there is a fight over economics in particular -- whenever a Wall Street-backed tax, deregulation, Social Security privatization or trade bill comes down the pike -- it is the labor movement that comprises the bulk of the political opposition. Therefore, crushing unions in general has been an overarching goal of the corporate elite, and one way to crush unions is through education policy that undermines one of the largest subsets of the labor movement: teachers unions.

Looked at through this prism, we see a key reason that education "reformers" are not satisfied with merely finding common policy ground with unions on points of potential consensus. They don't want any agreement with unions because the underlying goal is to destroy those unions entirely. Hence, "reformers" are increasingly focused on promoting union-free charter schools and diverting public school money into union-free private schools as a means of crippling the labor movement as a whole.

To know this truth is to know that the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame is now one of the biggest financial forces in the education "reform" movement. As the single most anti-union force in contemporary American society, the family now annually holds out a huge wad of Wal-Mart cash as a hard-to-resist enticement for cities to divert public school money exclusively into union-free charter schools or union-free "innovation" schools. Essentially, the money is offered, but on the condition that policymakers put it into education initiatives that undermine teachers unions.

While the foundation publicly insists it is looking only to help kids excel, union busting -- not student achievement -- is clearly what drives the Walton family's education activism. As but one example proving that motive, consider that just five days after news broke that Los Angeles' traditional public schools are outperforming charter schools, the Walton family announced it is dumping a massive new tranche of Wal-Mart cash into a plan to expand the city's charter schools. If the family was truly focused on helping kids, it would have put that money into traditional public schools that were showing success. Instead, the money went to the union busters, student achievement be damned.

Brill epitomizes how that motive has been ignored by establishment reporters covering education. After spending years reporting a massive tome on the education debate, he told the New York Times with a straight face that "I didn’t see it as the rich versus the union guys," as if schools' being an arena for the age-old battle between capital and labor is so preposterous, it didn't even cross his mind.

Brill may be telling the truth here, because corporate education "reformers" are so ubiquitously branded as disinterested altruists, that any other motive probably never did cross his mind, just like it never crosses most other reporters' mind. But just because the union-busting part of the story isn't being told, doesn't mean it isn't a key objective of the "reform" movement.

None of this is to argue that teachers unions don't act out of self-interest. They do. The point, though, is that they do not have a monopoly on self-interest in the education debate. As the modern-day version of what Franklin Roosevelt would call "organized money," the underwriters of the corporate education "reform" movement are just as motivated by their own self-interest. It's just a different portfolio of self-interest.

For Americans looking for credible voices in the confusing education debate, the question, then, is simple: Which self-interest is more aligned with improving schools for our kids?

Teachers unions' self-interest means advocating for better teacher salaries and job security -- an agenda item that would, among other things, allow the teaching profession (as in other nations) to financially compete for society's "best and brightest" and in the process help kids. The unions' self-interest also means advocating for decent workplace facilities, which undeniably benefits not only the teacher, but also students. And it means pressing for curricular latitude that doesn't force educators to teach to a standardized test, a notion that would help actually educate students to think critically, rather than train them to be test-taking robots.

Corporate education "reformers'" self-interest, by contrast, means advocating for policies that help private corporations profit off of public schools, diverting public attention from an anti-poverty economic agenda, and busting unions that prevent total oligarchical control of America's political system. In short, it's about the profit, stupid.

Neither side's self-interest is perfectly aligned with the goal of bettering our education system. But one side is clearly far more aligned with that goal than the other.

David Sirota is a best-selling author of the new book "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado. E-mail him at, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at More: David Sirota


A service of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (email).
Help support our work: Join the Conference!