AM News: Return Of Recess (Sorta)

image from webmedia.newseum.orgCPS releases new guide to bring back recess Sun Times: Most Chicago schools have been without recess since the 1970s... CPS backs recess
WBEZ: The decision of whether to add 45 minutes to the school day and
restore recess will be made at each individual elementary school by a
committee of the principal, parents... Jean-Claude Brizard working without a contract
Tribune:  The outgoing school board is to approve Brizard's
appointment at Wednesday's board meeting, but not his contract... Jean-Claude Brizard to be appointed Wednesday as Schools CEO
Sun Times:  Brizard, former superintendent in Rochester, N.Y., has
currently been working pro bono at CPS, getting "the lay of the land,"
according to Carroll... New CPS leadership team faces budget, student performance challenges 
Tribune:  Some say the district should have taken a more conservative
route with its money and found ways to scale back costs in 2006, 2007
and 2008, when it was bringing in more money than it was spending ...MORE ITEMS BELOW... WHAT'D I MISS?

Project Aims to Help Roseland, With an Assist From Washington CNC:  SGA officials estimated that $7.5 million will be needed to fund the initiative's first five years of operation... Improving math education for the littlest learners WBEZ: Linda Lutton reports on one effort to improve math instruction for Chicago's littlest learners... Chicago State's graduates honored for persistence
Tribune:  The university is reporting that of the 405 freshmen who
started in 2005, 94 had graduated by Thursday, which would put the
graduation rate at 23 percent. But school officials are calculating
the graduation rate differently than in the past. Using the prior
method, the rate is 20.3 percent.

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  • I just downloaded "Developing a School Recess Plan," and I wondered why it was completed by CPS and issued at this time? The reason I wondered why this was the case was because SB7 makes much of the plan moot. CPS was fully aware that the bill was proceeding much of the time it was writing this document. All existing CTU contractual provisions relating to the length of the school day will be in the language of the bill "rendered null and void because it involved a prohibited subject of collective bargaining," due to section 10 of SB 7 as amended once it is signed by the Governor. Article 4-13 of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) collective bargaining agreement that creates the Closed Campus Review Committee will be void and that is the focus of much of the CPS plan.

    This of course assumes that CPS will exercise its rights under new subjection (b) of the revised 115 ILCS 5/4.5 to not allow bargaining over the length of the school/ work day, class size, class staffing and assignment, class schedules, or hours and places of instruction. Based on everything that Mayor Emanuel has said CPS intends to exercise that option.

    There is no reason to have the big meetings with teachers, parents, or votes, administratively CPS can order these changes at any school it chooses too once SB 7 is signed. Many of the planning issues discussed in the CPS document are relevant but they can be implemented administratively in consultation with a school's LSC, it if has one. Therefore, the real question is not the procedure in this document, but rather what the new CPS administration plans on doing with school based time. Mayor Emanuel in his transition plan states: ". . . the longer day will first be piloted and subsequently rolled out across all Chicago Public Schools by the 2012/13 school year, allowing students more time in the classroom and giving teachers more time to prepare and plan."

    Really it depends on what the pilot options for elementary schools are going to be and how the entire structure of the school day will be delineated. Mayor Emanuel has not definitively indicated how much longer a longer school day would be. I have seen discussions in the media ranging from one hour to two hours longer per day. It seems to make little sense for schools to go through the process established in Article 4-13 when it is going to be moot and the exact length of the working day for teachers has yet to be established.

    SB7 explicitly allows the CTU to bargain over how much if anything teachers would be paid for working a longer school day, but it allows CPS to implement the longer day unilaterally any time after the bill is signed even if there is no agreement on how much if anything teachers would be paid for this time. The bill states: "During this bargaining, the educational employer shall not be precluded from implementing its decision."

    So given all of this I am not sure exactly what this new plan means or actual authority it has in relation to the restructuring of the elementary school day that will take place.

    Rod Estvan

  • Our school does not have recess built into the day. While the younger grades take recess out of instructional time which is already too short, the older kids- 5th-8th do not. This document apparently needed to be put out there so schools like ours could have a chance to get the instructional time and recess. Glad you are fortunate enough to have it built into your day.

  • This sounds like yet another ridiculously ill-conceived plan hatched by CPS to "solve all of the problems" with Chicago Public Schools. Put recess back in place. Brilliant. Sounds like a great cover to make parents happy, when really there is a much more sinister motive. As Rod Estvan points out, the real issue here is how this bill will affect the decision making power of the teachers and LCSs at these schools, and whether our say will even be considered. This is the big solution-- restore recess??
    In the meantime, there are way more pressing topics that CPS doesn't seem to want to shine a light on at all, let alone put some serious consideration into, like the fact that our Preschools For All Programs are about to be wiped out, including one such program at Frederick Stock School, which is one of the few blended preschool programs in the city. Send kids to school at age three and four and five? Apparently that is no longer important. But recess? That's what we need!! Preschool, apparently, does not matter so much. (Maybe because there are no test scores linked to it.) So this blended program at Stock, for example, and all of the expertise that has gone into making this exemplary model of inclusion for over the past ten years, will be wiped clean from the face of the city. How will decisions like this help the crisis that our most vulnerable students in CPS face? Will the closing of preschools help kids like my daughter who are developmentally delayed and are already entering the system lagging behind their typically developing peers? Will it help the kids whose neighborhood school is in no way equipped to serve the special needs of those students, and their new classroom is (surprise, surprise) a closet because that's the only space available to them, and there is a half of a physical therapist assigned to that school instead of ten, and where there is no adaptive equipment, and no full-time Special education teacher assigned to team-teach in the classroom with the preschool teacher? Will this help the kids without special needs who are sitting in a classroom for the first time at five and six years old, instead of three and four? Will it help increase the yearly achievements of our students? I think we all know the answer to this.
    I am disgusted with CPS-- I'd like to see a focus on what matters the most in the future education of our students in CPS, not back-door methods of controlling teachers and the further eroding of our ability to bargain. If kids really are what we all supposedly care most about, when will CPS policy changes reflect this?

  • I agree that there are many logistical issues to be worked out with recess. Supervision, outdoor safety in high crime areas and what to do in inclement weather are all real problems. But kids DO need recess. It is vital and as both a teacher and a parent, I believe we will see more learning going on even if no actual minutes are added onto the day. (though, I think we all know there will be ON TOP of the recess mandate due to new control over school hours by the state)
    I am concerned over the probable elimination of preschool programs but I don't think this needs to be an internal fight over what is better. Kids need preschool AND recess. Of course, we also need smaller class sizes, more ESL and Reading specialists, supplies, etc....There are a whole boatload of things CPS needs.
    It is these things that makes the desperate attempts by parents to get into a good school via lottery or otherwise make sense. A well run school by a principal who is in charge but not crazy controlling, with a dedicated staff and a dedicated parent body can sort of cut through most of the systemic crap.

  • Anonymous, you bring up a very good point. In cases like yours, and I know there are many similar areas in the city, something else has to be worked out. I am sure you have many smart people in your building and will be able to brainstorm multiple possibilities. And it could end up where your students simply cannot have recess. However, my own children attend school in a safe area and need recess and our PTA will do whatever it takes to get it for our kids. I would hope that something can be worked out for schools in dangerous areas. And I hope you are advocating in a constructive way with your principal, CAO, your legislators and the NEA about the particular needs of your school.

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