Tuesday Morning News

City schools need to know ABCs of good teaching Sun-Times
So maybe the administrators at Chicago Public Schools should think about this as they try to figure out ways to hire good teachers and keep them: Listen to what children have to say about what makes a good teacher. Get them to give feedback about the teachers in their classrooms. It would be one small indicator -- certainly not the only one -- about the quality of teachers in our city's public schools.

How about that: back to basics Tribune
In recent years, any parent who has sat at the kitchen table with a child completing math homework has watched the pages grow fuzzier and fuzzier. The child busily begins to attack a math problem using a "new math" method. The parent looks on and sighs, wistful for the days when a student could arrive at an answer in a much more concrete and direct way.

Quigley families say church misses calling Tribune
Waving placards proclaiming "Good men wear black!" and fake "For Sale" signs with the address of the Chicago archbishop's Gold Coast residence, parents and alumni of Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary called on Cardinal Francis George to reverse his decision to close the school.

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  • I went to the hearing in the Federal Court Bldg. on the Special Education cuts. It was extremely hard to keep my mouth shut listening to the Board attorney's tell lie after lie.

    First, they misrepresented the total amount of the school budget. They stated that it was 4 billion when it is actually at least 3 billion more than that.

    Second, they said that the reason for the cuts was to establish equity. Somehow they seem to think that being equal is fair where any parent knows that equal does not mean treating every child the same, it means giving each child what they need based upon where they are as individuals.

    Second, they said that they are unaware of any individual child who has been impacted by the cutbacks. In both the school that I was Case Manager of last year and the school where I am on the LSC, students are being impacted negatively by the cuts. Students whose IEPs call for full-time aides are sitting in classrooms without assistance and in the case of Boone, other programs are being hurt by having to borrow staff to meet SPED needs. Boone is being cut four special education ESPs and the school is already feeling the negative impact of these cuts. The principal has told the LSC that she has been in touch with the Board of Education both downtown and on the district level but that they will not restore the positions. Last year, I did all the paperwork (including supporting letters) to get an autistic child an aide and the child is still sitting in a regular classroom full-time without support. In another case, the state said that they were going to site the Board for not

    providing an aide to a student with severe emotional problems. This student was a safety risk to himself and others (he even attacked police officers)! The student still does not have an aide. I know that the Board attorneys are aware of these cases and others throughout the city.

    Since the Board is claiming that they do not know of any students who have been impacted by the cuts. I would encourage anyone who is aware of situations in specific schools to post these cases so that they can be included next time that the case goes to court.

    You can also contact Substance newspaper or Designs for Change if you have cases that can be documented.

    It was very interesting to sit through the court hearing and listen to the Board and State act like everything was fine and there was no evidence of their being any problem. I think teachers, parents and students would all be amazed at how they can deny reality.

  • I have just finished reading a portion of the Districtwide findings for District 299 for the second time and many of the things disturb me especially in relationship to the court hearing that was held this past Wednesday.

    I would like to comment on a few and see if they disturb others as well.

    1. CPS has failed to conduct post-secondary transition planning for students beginning at Age 14 1/2.

    This disturbs me because the state finding is inconsistent with the new federal guidelines under IDEA that state transition planning does not have to be in place until the student is 16. CPS has inserviced case managers under these new guidelines and the state seems to be behind the times (Holmes School was sited for this at the end of the school year (05-06). I was the Case Manager and had been told at trainings that the transition plan would be written by the 9th grade teacher. After completing all of the 8th graders, CPS changed their mind but told us, we did not have to go back and redo the ones that were completed. I do not think it right to site a school for following instructions.

    2. Repeatedly in the report, CPS was sited for failing to provide an adequate number of individual and classroom aides to provide required support to enable students to be in the least restrictive environment. Yet, the state monitors stated in court that they see no current detrimental effects of the cutbacks. If CPS did not have a sufficient number of aides to begin with, how is cutting back on staff going to improve the situation?

    3. CPS is supposed to first address those things listed under Phase I of the findings. These include:

    LRE Placement

    Common Planning Time

    IEPs

    Required Personnel

    Integration with nondisabled peers

    Individual and Classroom aides

    LRE Transition Planning

    Comparable Classroom Material

    "More than 8 out of 10 schools failed to meet the requirement that "Students are placed within the school with sufficient supports and services to benefit from education" and, 75.4% failed to meet the requirement that "IEPs account for all staff needed to make the placement effective and that the school has complied with relevant state standards.""

    I believe that the State is failing to provide the needed supervision for CPS to ensure that IEPs are fully implemented especially in terms of ESP services.

  • I wanted to address one other concern regarding the Districtwide findings in a separate post.

    I am a former Spalding teacher (I taught at Spalding for 10 years). I am deeply concerned about the lack of services being provided to my former students (this concern was what caused many of us to protest the closing of Spalding).

    "Students with disabilities who are former Spalding students are not receiving adequate or appropriate special education services at Hope College Prep. Former Spalding students are physically segregated from their non-disabled peers and are not integrated in any academic or nonacademic activities. The Spalding students are located in a corner classroom on the first floor of the building. Staff reports that they are seldom seen outside of the classroom and are not included in any non-academic or extra-curricular activities. Attending staff reported that these students remain in their classroom on the first floor for the entire day. When asked about their inclusion in an adaptive PE program, the Principal stated that this was not possible because the school gym was need of building repairs and is currently not accessible to any of the students. She provided assurances that when building repairs were complete, adaptive PE would be incorporated as an option for the students transferred from Spalding (Hope College Preparatory High School Two-Year Report, monitoring visit Feb. 1-4 and 15, 2005, Benchmark A Finding).

    In a similiar finding at Nixon Elementary School (although these are not former Spalding students), this pattern of segregation continues.

    "All of the special education resource classroom are located in the basement of the main building. Primary level students who require resource services are brought to the main building to receive those services. Not only are they "pulled-out" of their classrooms for services, they are completely out of the primary school environment to receive services in a separate area that be identified as "special education". Two second grade classroom that contain students with disabilities are located in the main building; excluding those students from the exceptionally well-equipped and focused environment of the primary building with its new state-of-the-art library, gym, and lunchroom especially furnished for this age group."

    Segregation of any kind within the school system is wrong and needs to end for students with disabilities.

    Providing an adequate number of ESPs is one step in ending this segregation because these services are needed for our students to access the general education curriculum. I want to make one more quote from the report.

    "One third of the IEPs examined failed to address student need for support in all academic, nonacademic and extracurricular activities where eligibility determination would indicate need (e.g. individual aide or behavior modification in such nonacademic areas as PE and computer lab. (Blaine Elementary School Two-Year Report, monitoring visit February 14-17, 2005, Benchmark B Finding."

    I hope that if the issue of ESP cutback goes back before the Judge, the state will look at its own findings and truly realize the negative effect that this is having on our students.

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