Thanks to everyone who reads, comments, and sends things to this site -- I appreciate your input even when I don't agree with a word you're saying. Thanks also to my fellow bloggers and blowhards, who provide me with material to recommend (or mock) every day. And of course none of this would happen without the education journalists who make the calls and read the reports and deal with the stupid editors' memories about what happened to THEM when they were in 5th grade. And to the nice folks at ChicagoNow who sponsor this site. Last but not least, thanks to the teachers and administrators and parents who are out there in schools every day, doing their best (most of the time) at what everyone agrees is a very challenging job to do well. You don't need my thanks, of course, but I'm giving it anyway. See everyone on Monday.
UPDATE: Here's the full text of Chicago Schools Wonks in case you are curious from what some of the commenters have had to say:
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! A few orders of business and then some things I'm thankful for..
CPS has to release the school closings list by December 1, which is Thursday. That means by next time I write you we’ll know a lot more about three important things:
- What schools the administration decides to close
- How they roll out their plan
- How it’s received by parents, teachers, CTU and press
Should teach us a lot about this still-very-young administration.
Related: Becky Vevea profiles Oliver Sicat, the new CPS portfolio chief I keep talking about: “Emanuel’s Point Man on School Closings.” Add this to your collection of Vevea Brizard-admin profiles (Brizard in June, Donoso in July).
LONGER DAY MONEY FOR CHARTERS
CPS will give $75K longer school day grants to 36 charter schools. If you follow Linda Lutton on twitter you know Rahm/Brizard didn’t announce the funding at the most high-impact time…
@lindalutton: CPS sent a press release about the 36 charters at 6:40am Sunday.
RAHM, KIDS AND HUMILITY
My mom texted me earlier this week to say “Rahm’s on TV talking about kids with dead eyes.” She was referring to an NBC video, linked in this Huffpo piece, which says:
“Emanuel also told Smith about the city's deeper challenges that will be much more difficult to address: children growing up with "emptiness in their eyes" in some parts of the city.”
“Reaching a child who has the flicker of life snuffed out? That’s daunting. These other things, we can handle,” Emanuel said. "That to me is what gives you pause…and I think I can say this since it’s not one of my strong suits, that’s what humbles you.”
On the one hand… I like hearing Rahm acknowledge something isn’t a “strong suit” and I’m glad he’s admitting what a lot of us figured out pretty quick—the children who live in high-need parts of our city are foreign to our new Mayor.
On the other hand... it’s almost physically painful for me to read: “a child who has the flicker of life snuffed out.” That’s just not how kids work, Mr. Mayor. The kids he’s referring to—the ones who live in high-crime areas, attend failing schools and deal with all sorts of things children should never have to deal with—they’re just as much people as everyone else is, just as vividly alive as the rest of us. Anyone who knows kids like the kids he’s talking about knows that (and I mean knows them as people, not data sets or photo props).
True, there are kids out there in our city bearing the burden of hardships I cannot imagine—but they’re still kids. They read books. They collect Tech Decks. They buy candy. They do their homework. They’re proud when they solve problems. They’re happy when their schools are safe, teachers are nice and when they know their schoolwork’s meaningful and relevant to their futures. Their eyes are full of life. They are full of life. That’s a big part of why we’re all working so hard to make schools better, right?
It’s the fact that Chicago’s children deal with what they deal with without the flicker of life being snuffed out that makes a Mayor’s schools agenda so important. Rahm has to know that. If he doesn’t why should teachers trust or follow him? Why should parents? Why should kids?
Get to know some of children you're talking about, Mr. Mayor. It’ll make this all a lot easier for all of us.
THANKSGIVING PAUSE FOR SCHOOLS WONKS HISTORY
I started this thing exactly 6 months ago on May 26, 2011 with a note to a few dozen friends. In the time since I’ve learned so much more about Chicago’s schools and the people working to make them work better. I’ve been invited to schools I may have never seen otherwise and met thoughtful, interested leaders who 7 months ago wouldn’t have given me the time of day. I’ve been honored by the hundreds of conversations I’ve shared with parents, teachers, school founders, funders, elected officials and others—all sparked by what I’ve written here. You’ve helped me, taught me, challenged me and in every way enriched me. I’m thankful to you all.
I’m thankful also to the people who encouraged me to start this and who’ve encouraged me to keep it going. I’m thankful to Noreen Ahmed-Ullah, Rosalind Rossi, Joel Hood, Alexander Russo, Sarah Karp, Rebecca Harris, Becky Vevea, Hunter Clauss, Linda Lutton and other intrepid journalists whose work I turn to constantly. I’m thankful as well to all the non-reporter reporters who’ve become the eyes and ears that help me see and know what I might otherwise miss. Thanks to Andy and Alexander for posting this in places that helped grow the conversation (John Paton's right about content as API). Thanks to everyone who has used what they’ve read here to help them make more positive change for children in ways big and small.
And thank you especially to all the readers who every week share with me their precious Friday time. It’s enormous fun building this community. Please, keep reading. Keep writing me. Keep asking questions. Keep sharing resources. Keep us all learning.
And let me know what ideas you have for growing this thing up. We may have just about gotten too big for this format. Lots of interesting options to consider. [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Until next week,