Big Cuts Proposed For CPS

Proposed budget cuts are the big education news story of the day.  Check out coverage from the Tribune, Sun Times, and ... more to come:

CPS officials want to spend less money on building improvements Sun Times:   Officials of the deficit-ridden Chicago Public Schools Wednesday released plans to spend $110 million on building improvements next school year — six times less than this year. Amid a “difficult fiscal climate,’’ the system’s capital budget for next school year focuses on “critical and immediate needs facing our schools as well as student learning,’’

CPS cuts spending in 'difficult fiscal climate' Tribune: Faced with a nearly $700 million budget deficit, Chicago Public Schools has proposed a capital spending budget for the coming year of $110 million, a sharp drop from this year's $660 million.

Aldermen tell CPS to reduce suspensions and expulsions Tribune:  City Council resolution passes committee Spurred by student and community groups demanding a less punitive student discipline system, a City Council committee on Wednesday passed a resolution calling on Chicago Public Schools to reduce suspensions and expulsions by 40 percent.

As state mulls child care cuts, advocates head to Springfield Catalyst:   Under the proposed cuts, only those families earning 150 percent of the federal poverty level would be eligible for subsidies that are now available to families earning up to 185 percent of poverty level.  The difference for a family of 4: an income of $34,575 versus $42,643. (Families now in the child care program who are above the new eligibility limit would be grandfathered in.)

Controversial legislative scholarships could be ending soon Sun Times: Illinois’ top Senate Democrat dropped his resistance Wednesday to abolishing the state’s scandal-tainted legislative scholarship program and advanced a measure that would kill the waivers this fall. The legislation carried by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) moved out of a Senate subcommittee Wednesday. Cullerton called the scholarships an obvious “distraction.”

11-year-old boy injured during drive-by shooting Sun Times:  An 11-year-old boy was injured during a drive-by shooting early Thursday in the West Side Garfield Park neighborhood. About 2 a.m., someone in a passing maroon minivan fired shots at a crowd of people standing in front of the St. Stephens Terrace apartment complex near Jackson Boulevard and Western Avenue, police said. Some of the rounds went through the window of a first-floor apartment where an 11-year-old boy, his mother and other children were sleeping, police said. Glass from the shattered window cut the 11-year-old boy, and he was treated on the scene, police said. Police originally said the boy …

'Untimely' LSC election info questioned Austin Weekly News: Of the 11 Local School Council elections Don Moore has been involved in, he says he's never waited so long to receive candidate information from the Chicago Public Schools.

Facebook turned girls' rivalry into hallway brawl  Sun Times:  Matt Hancock, the school's executive director, would not discuss details of the incident, but confirmed that all of the students involved, including Williams, have been disciplined according to the Chicago Public Schools Code of Conduct.

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  • On the building improvements, I commented elsewhere that taxes and fees were raised in PA96-34 for a capital bill, part of which was supposed to go to the schools.

    If you remember, W. Rockwell "Rocky" Wirtz and Wirtz Distributing lost their lawsuit over the taxes imposed by PA96-34, and those taxes and fees have been collected for 3-1/2 years, although no video poker yet.

    Also, at one time Huberman said he wasn't concerned about most of Chicago being TIFed because some schools were being built with TIF money.

    Now they say there is no money except for the Infrastructure Trust to buy some light bulbs?

    Whether it is CPS, CTA, or the state as a whole, some shell game is being played on Illinois taxpayers. I'm sure, though, that plenty of legislators have sent out mailings saying that they voted for school construction money.

    And as far as "alderman call," do they have any direct jurisdiction over CPS, or are they just bloviating to cover up that they are otherwise just useless rubber stamps?

    No matter what happens, life continues to be the same in Chicago school politics.

  • There will still be a ton of money on top of the $110 spent on captial from projects already in the pipeline. Time for the public and BGA watchdogs to monitor the projects online. There is so much padding of these projects by corrupt contractors it is a crime----sometimes literally.

  • Headache299
    Looks like teachers just got screwed again…after all that hype on the punitive Noble Street Charter discipline policy, Chicago alderman are calling for a 40% reduction of suspensions and detentions for traditional public schools.

  • And they keep sending teachers to seminars on positive behavior interventions that cost who knows how much money, and expect that in our spare time we will implement these programs in our schools and that magically all children will suddenly be ready to learn. Perhaps we all need to be visiting our aldermen to tell them about some of the things that are going on in our schools.

  • The suspension issue is crazy. I think that every Alderman needs to spend just one day in a high school. I guarantee, they will understand that the suspensions are warranted. These children are not being raised and they have awful home lives. They come to school very angry and they misbehave. What does it say to the kids that they injure or the teachers they insult, injure and disrespect when you try to reduce their punishment? I don't think there very many completely innocent children being suspended from school. Parents and students need to take responsibility for their actions!

  • In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    Strategies like restorative justice and peer jury can be quite effective in reducing suspensions and, perhaps more importantly, repeat offenses. These types of programs help build community and modify student behavioral decisions and responses.

    "These children are not being raised and they have awful home lives." This is true. But suspensions do nothing to improve these conditions. Restorative justice and peer jury engage students in the community, in a valuable social learning process, and in the development and maintenance of human relationships.

    On the other hand, these programs do not work for everyone and they are expensive and time and labor intensive. But they have been shown to work very, very well even in difficult urban settings.

  • http://acestoohigh.com/2012/04/23/lincoln-high-school-in-walla-walla-wa-tries-new-approach-to-school-discipline-expulsions-drop-85/

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Did you actually read the article? Did you do any research to see if this was reasonable in District 299?

    So when do we get another teacher to do this? Can CPS build us another room because we're full. There is no unused space. Can CPS make this room "comforting?"

    There are 17 teachers and 160 kids. And they still expelled 30 kids? I can't tell for sure with only a few minutes of research, but this seems to be an alternative school.

    If you think teachers and admins aren't already trying to divert kids from suspensions you're out of your gourd. I do everything I can to keep incidents off verify.net.

    Principal says to student, “Let’s meet tomorrow morning. You’re going to take the rest of the day and night to process this.” Ummm, that sounds like a suspension to me.....

    Actually it sounds EXACTLY like the Rahm Emmanuel re-branding campaign. Plus the idea is from the West Coast. That means it's awesome (ala the Infrastructure Trust).

    This plan is going to fix EVERYTHING!!! Yay! I'm super excited about it!

    BTW: Russo, that's how you make it clear that you're being sarcastic on the Internet.

  • In reply to BillyTurtle:

    So much for my sarcasm tags. I guess you can't show sarcasm properly on Chicago Now. My apologies AR. Call up tech support and get them on that.

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    I would agree with Tracy that the Aldermen and elected officials need to spend more time in the schools that they are establishing policy for.

    That being said, children are innocent. They are perfect learners. They have learned lessons in their home and past school experience that causes them to be disruptive forces in the classroom. So they need empathy, but something must also be done to stop them from demolishing the classroom environment.

    I'm not interested in whether the suspensions are warranted. I'm interested in whether or not they are effective. In the vast majority of cases they are not. The students come back more angry, more gang invested, more substance dependent and more ready to disrupt school. Then we as teachers get asked to build the anecdotal case for the death sentence to the students high school career. There's a real, "I don't know where is a good fit, but not here", and then the students are kicked out, usually to a long waitlist for an alternative school.

    That's unacceptable. Every student deserves to be met where they are at, and supported. Part of that support is not allowing students to hurt themselves and others. But there are plenty fo interventions between expulsion and doing nothing.

    What I think the above posters have hit on correctly is that the assumption is that the responsibility for the reduction on suspensions should be on the teachers.

    That's nuts, and will be devastating. The number of people who could magically get all the students in a challenging school to behave through some mystical "classroom management" is close to zero.

    This is a systemic issue. A one-day PD is not going to help much at all.

    The solution? Funding diverted from the criminalization of youth through police overpresence, security cameras, and other punitive measures and put into restorative justice actions. The students need to learn that their actions have impact and they need to repair damage they create. They do not need to be taught that they are bad and need to listen to authority or else.

    These are not programs that a single teacher could implement. There needs to be a network of community organizers, administrators, teachers, students and if possible, parents to make these programs a success. There needs to be places in the school to remove students who are just not feeling the classroom environment at the moment where they can go and feel cared for and get some work done. You can call it "in-school" or "happy fun place" or whatever you want, as long as the student is a) not destroying class and b) feeling better rather than worse.

    We are implementing these programs at Gage Park with the freshmen to tremendous success. The outcomes are not perfect--there's no way they could be--but we are seeing a real reduction not only in suspensions, but also in behavior incidents and not the normal reduction in reporting where teachers are afraid to report as it will be turned back on them.

    I would encourage everyone to learn more about these programs and observe them if you have the chance. They make teachers lives much easier and also pull dozens of students back from the brink. The simple fact is this: the kids are good people. They don't always do what I want them to do, but if supported, they can learn to make good independent, responsible decisions.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    Umm, I totally understand where you are coming from, but I have to disagree wholeheartedly on your comment on children being innocent. Yes, there are alot of kids that are coming from messed up homes with unstable family lives that act out in the class, yes that is true. But this is not true in alot of the cases. Kids will be kids and some of them just misbehave because they want to or think it is funny, they do not all come from broken homes. And yes, they need to face the consequences for their actions, otherwise how will they ever learn??

    As far as the suspensions go, well the only reason there are so many suspensions being given out is because they took all the teachers disciplinary rights away. Teachers can longer make the kids write lines, stand in the corner etc... The only thing the teacher can do is to give detentions, call parents, or suspension depending on what the child has done.

    I agree, I do not like the whole suspension thing. When my son was in High School he got caught with his cell phone out and was suspended for one day. I was not happy at all with that. I wanted them to make him scrub clean the bathrooms or do something productive! Maybe even give him extra homework to do! I took his phone away for that and he was grounded. I just think a suspension or detention is to easy. The kids need to learn lessons, not get a free day off from school. When I went to pick up my son from school that day, suprisingly there were like over 45 kids in the deans office getting written up for suspesions.

    We need to stop babying these kids and help them to learn how to become productive adults. If there are issues in the home that are casuing a child to act out, then that needs to be addressed, which is why there needs to be more couselors and social workers in the school system to help these kids.

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