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Schools: What To Do About Lavizzo... And Poe?

ScreenHunter_20 Dec. 28 10.00
"Principal Tracey Delora Stelly, who took over [Lavizzo] in July 2009, has been changing school culture, enforcing discipline and boosting student confidence. She has replaced most teachers, set up support classes for struggling students and made the school a community hub, with a parents center that helps families find housing and jobs.Her kids know all about Poe Elementary Classical School about 11/2 miles away...She constantly reminds students that they're as smart and capable as Poe students, and they can improve." (Chicago schools confront an uncertain future Tribune)

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  • The big difference between Poe and Lavizzo is the poverty rate. Lavizzo's at 98% and Poe's at just under half. What Poe shows is that if you can distribute students of poverty out such that they are not the majority in any given school, it may be possible to do a better job of educating them.

    The problem is CPS does not have enough non-poor students to do that. Also, Poe, as a magnet school, may attract a specific demographic amongst families of poverty that has a better chance of success.

    Another big problem that students of poverty face is mobility. Frequent transfers to different schools seems to hurt their education. I'm not sure what the answer is to this one? Maybe a consistent curriculum among all the schools or some kind of distance learning that could be targeted at highly mobile students.

  • Not saying your wrong, I agree that CPS could do better with its students of poverty than it does, but stats show that schools where a majority of the students are from poverty do not educate even the middle classed ones that do attend as well as non-majority poverty schools.

    I agree that there would have to be investments to run a distance learning program. I can't even imagine the logistical nightmare of trying to run it. Even if you put special rooms in libraries and the children had special cards or something, then you need to worry about supervision and a million other things. Maybe special rooms in schools where students who have moved at least twice in a given year go and they receive instruction via distance learning so that from that point on they are in sync even if they move, but again, it's going to be a nightmare. I just can't imagine a student being able to actually learn a year's worth of education while attending 6 different schools, and it seems as though that's a small problem that could be tackled if people actually thought about it and thought through all the issues that could arise.

  • You can't really compare Poe, a classical school (not a magnet) to a neighborhood school. It would be equitable to compare Poe to Decatur or Skinner North.
    Poe, and the other classical schools, attract and get the highest scoring and most advanced students in the entire city. It attracts and gets families invested and educated enough to understand and apply for testing. It attracts and gets families able to put their kids on a bus or drive them to the school. It attracts and gets higher income families.
    A neighborhood school gets, usually, a larger amount of lower income kids, sometimes severely lower income kids. A neighborhood school typically gets kids much, much, much less prepared for school. At Poe, and the other classical schools, their incoming Kindergarteners most always can read at a 1st-3rd grade level before ever walking in the door. Most can add, subtract, and some can multiply and divide. Contrast that to the neighborhood school where most kindergarten kids don't know the difference between letters and numbers and many have rarely seen a book.
    I agree that all schools have to work hard and have to have the best teachers and much, much more in the way of resources and support teachers available. But there is no way you can expect the kids in most neighborhood schools (and I am excluding the best ones like Lincoln and Waters and Nettelhorst, because those are full of wealthy kids and unimaginably involved parents) to achieve even close to the level of kids in classical schools. The only way that could happen would be if we as a city were to actually give lower income, lower performing schools what they actually need.....a 10 hour school day, Saturday school, class sizes of 10-12, intensive reading remediation daily on a one on one basis with trained reading specialists, early childhood education starting at birth, required parent ed classes, breakfast, lunch and dinner, etc.....basically the schools would become the parents.

  • CPS' constant touting of magnets and selective enrollment is, in and of itself, damaging the reputations of neighborhood schools. Are they doing it on purpose to invite more privates and charters? I don't know. But the damage is done. Involved parents who frequent the education blogs speak as though neighborhood schools were a last resort -- sometimes even when their "back-up" school is Lincoln or Blaine. (For the record, I AM a neighborhood school mom.)

    Lavizzo's principal has to tell her kids that they can achieve as much as Poe kids. Why? Because they heard the message, too. If you're not in a selective enrollment or magnet, you're getting a sub par education. But rather than trying to rectify the situation, CPS continues to hide behind its "success" stories.

    As teacherparent said, support has to come even BEFORE kids enter school. For some, it's far too late by the time they reach kindergarten. Then when they don't succeed, who gets the blame? Teachers.

    Teachers have to do SO MUCH ... too much. (Thank you, teachers!)

  • I don't believe they are getting a sub par education. My kids go to a neighborhood school. I am saying that all the focus (articles, blogs, etc.) on magnets and SEs creates an impression among some parents (myself NOT included) that you somehow "lose" if you do not get into one of those schools. After all, it is a lottery. There are "winners" and "losers." And if "losing" is equated with having to go to a neighborhood school, then I believe this is a perception that needs to be changed by CPS. To me, it seemed from the article that if the principal were telling her students they could achieve as much as Poe students, then she was reacting to that same perception and perhaps believed her students were, too. Otherwise, she would not need to make that comparison.

    I'm not sure if I'm expressing myself correctly. Nevertheless, it's simply an opinion. I do not expect everyone (or perhaps anyone) to agree. : )

  • So being poor is now a social illness? You can't be rich and have social ills? And you can't be a well-adjusted poor person?

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