Back To ... Recess

Recess is back.  Track E is back.  CVCS is back.  EpiPens are back.  Plus Brizard's optimism about a contract agreement, and the interviews he and Karen Lewis did on WTTW last night (see previous post).  That's it.

Recess is back at Chicago Public Schools WBEZ: Monday marked the first day of school for about a third of Chicago public school children. It also was the first time many of them experienced recess.

Third of CPS schools roll out longer days Tribune: Students were back at their desks in more than a third of Chicago's public schools Monday, taking on additional classes scheduled to fill the longer school day that created so much tension in teacher contract talks over the summer.

Chicago Virtual Charter School gives students a chance to succeed
However, the court issued a summary judgment in CVCS's favor, dismissing the lawsuit brought by the union that claimed the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) charter was illegal.

Illinois schools get green light to stock EpiPens Tribune: As Chicago Public Schools students return this fall, each building will be outfitted with EpiPens that a nurse can use even if a student doesn't have a previously diagnosed allergy. CPS purchased more than 3700 EpiPens, said Dr. Stephanie Whyte.

Jeremiah Wright: Blacks must stop violence Sun-Times: The audience erupted in applause several times during Wright's speech. The crowd of about 75 people included representatives of the Nation of Islam and Micheal E. Brunson, recording secretary of the Chicago Teachers Union.

'296 Minutes of Work' Doesn't Sum Up Chicago's Teachers EducationNews: Xian Barrett is a teacher of law and Chicago history at Gage Park High School, in Chicago, Illinois, and has a front row seat to the ongoing conflict between the Chicago Public Schools leaders and the Chicago Teachers Union.

Brizard 'optimistic' on deal with teachers 'before Labor Day' Sun-Times: “I don't have that kind of crystal ball,'' countered Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who urged members last week to continue to prepare for a September walkout. “We just have a lot of work to do.''

Four Reasons to Like Occupy Chicago (And Four Reasons to Dislike Them) ChicagoNow:
They became involved in the school closure debate, and are expected to become involved in the Chicago Teachers' Union possible strike this coming year. Flexible Meeting Times- Looking at the twitter feed, Occupy Chicago meets many times after 5 p.m. ..

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  • from a reader, via email: "Just a bit of information on how our school is utilizing the extra time in school for our kids. The media portrays that we are giving more instruction to our students, but what they don't know is that every school is doing their own thing. There is absolutely no structure to the additional minutes on the day. Our school has added a 44 minute morning "advisory" period at the beginning of the day (a.k.a. study hall) and a 5 minute "advisory" period at the end of the day; on top of the 25 minute recess. Let me tell you this, there is no formal instruction that is taking place at all. What a waste of time it is for our students. Plus they have our 8th grade students with the latest lunch possible at 1:19pm. So they go from 8:15am-1:19pm with a break at all. It's terrible."

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    This is what is going on at my school! Completely ridiculous! Along with the 44 minute advisory and the late lunch for 8th grade students, the first class after advisory is a resource class (library, art, music…) so that means that content classes do not start until 10:10 for 8th grade!

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    As a teacher, make the advisory time of value for your students. Be a leader and collaborate with your fellow co-workers to figure out what to do with the time. Teach study skills, organization skills, goal setting, reflection on work, research skills, career and college exploration, art integration, music appreciation, geography, volunteer, I can go on and on.

    Did the reader/writer sit on a team to assist with the planning? Did they volunteer to help with the schedule? Did they make an effort to go above and beyond? not ask mediocrity for your students or a leader and step up....

  • In reply to thinkbeforeacting:

    I would have loved to sit on the committee that was planning for our longer day, but it was by principal invitation only, and I wasn't invited. It's really too bad that they had no interest from the specialty teachers, as my schedule for this new school year is completely unworkable...

  • In reply to thinkbeforeacting:

    Wouldn't it be great if teachers at every school were allowed to "step up and be leaders?" Unfortunately that is not the case at my school. Do you think we actually sat back and didn't try to negotiate with this schedule? Of course we did, but our opinions are not valued at our school. Please skip the lecture on how I can be a better teacher, I'm a great one. This issue is not about me being proactive.

  • In reply to SMO77:

    Same our school it's pretty much "shut up and do as you're told". It doesn't matter if we are the ones in the classrooms and know what works for our kids...they always know best.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    y: Bob Busch
    August 17, 2012

    The shell bill

    The sneaky bastards have showed their hand.
    On Feb 1 2012 rep. Terry Link introduced Senate Bill 3168.It is about 3 pages And sets some guidelines about how much money a retired teacher can make Without penalty, it also prevents school districts from filling teaching positions with subs, on a permanent basis. A couple of minor changes later it passedThe Illinois Senate on March 28,2012 and sent to the house. where Two readings later
    On May 31, 2012 it was sent to die in the House Rules committee.
    Yesterday Barbara Flynn Currie introduced the 136 page House Amendment 002And passed it during a meeting of the Rules committee, now it is off to the :
    Personnel and Pensions Committee

    Hearing Aug 17 2012 9:30AM Capitol Building Room 114 Springfield, IL - House Floor Amendment 2.

    This needs a real lawyer to study its provisions but I went through it andTo me it looks like Gov. Quinn’s pension plan. Without the pension swaplook out Friday .

  • Thanks for posting this Alexander, I am sure its true for this school. I hope its not true for other schools too. There is no consistent relationship between the amount of time allocated for instruction and the amount of time that students spend actively engaged in learning activities according to many studies going back to the 1980s.

    Rod Estvan

  • Alexander, HUGE day for thousands of undocumented youth tomorrow. Obama's Deferred Action applications become available. Check out latest post on The White Rhino. A big event at Navy Pier is planned to help Chicago youth.

  • fascinating exchange with a tribune crime reporter -- Chicago's Shootings Didn't Happen In a Movie Theater, But It's Still the World's Deadliest City

  • Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: A strike is avoidable if Rahm "finds" the money

  • Just wondering what CPS will do when the insurance/loss claims start to come in as a result of injuries that occurred during recess. Did they account for this cost related to recess. Through day 2 we have had 3 injuries already. Any other casualties out there?

  • Be proactive about recess. Set boundaries, teach students how to play, where to play, acceptable and unacceptable play, etc. Homeroom teachers can have students assist in creating rules for outdoor play while making classroom rules. The recess supervisors should know these rules, too. Make sure equipment is safe. Create different types of play zones with appropriate play equipment (soft balls vs hard), cones to mark off areas for different types of play- running races, kickball, 4 square, chalk drawings. Recess supervisors need to have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and their action plan in case of emergency or injury. All supervisors should always have a cell phone or walkie talkie to communicate with the main office. There may be minor injuries due to a trip or fall, but with proper planning and supervision there shouldn't be major events. Recruit student teachers, admin, and parents to assist in supervision when possible. Be proactive, not reactive.

  • I appreciate your thinking and kind advice. However, it is naive to think that in a system with over 450,000 students that the number of injuries is not going to be substantial. Children are children, they get hurt. I am just wondering if the geniuses in Clark took into consideration the increase in liability costs that this will incurr. Let the first student file the lawsuit because the "recess supervisor" was not properly trained or accredited, (or other legal loophole that an injury attorney is willing to jump through) then lets see what CPS does. You want recess, be ready for injuries. It's gonna happen.

  • In reply to Maestro:

    true.... what "recess supervisor"?? Not to mention the neighborhood gang that will come up to the playground during recess in the (heart of Englewood). Usually we have a squad car posted during dismissal, I doubt if they will station a car for recess. This will be interesting

  • In reply to unknown teacher:

    Schools in high crime areas can block off the streets and sidewalks near their playgrounds during recess. This means no cars can drive by the playground, and with the sidewalk closed no one may approach on foot. I think you just have to clear it with your alderman.

  • Maestro why do you assume that CPS is legally responsible for every injury that takes place on school property? My experience dealing with these type of issues is that under current law which provides all school districts in Illinois with tort immunity children have no legal entitlement to insurance coverage for non-organized non-sport related injuries unless there is out right educational malpractice.

    I had a case relating to a child with autism who got hurt during lunch because the aide assigned to the child was absent and coverage was not in place. None of that child's medical expenses were covered by CPS, when the family went to one of the top personal injury firms in Chicago they said forget litigating because of state laws protecting the school district and the fact the costs of the case would likely be more than the injury.

    Maestro maybe you have seen PI cases for school yard type injuries where CPS picked up the costs, I haven't seen any. The only PI cases against CPS that are settled are those deal with medical costs and trauma are really horrible, like a child being sexually attacked in a school, getting killed, etc where there was no clear supervision from CPS staff and there should have been. CPS as a practice litigates these type of PI cases and does not hand out money. Sport injuries, PE injuries, are often covered by an insurance policy CPS has.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Have you heard anything regarding the use of special education teachers for recess supervision? In some schools with full inclusion the special education teachers are nothing more than glorifed aides(some by choice, some not) and can easily be pulled from the gen ed classrooms. How will this impact the IEP? Minutes can not be met but the principals in some schools do not have anyone else for supervision.There were school schedules given to CTU which showed that the special education teachers would be supervising fro 45 minutes a day. The CTU web site says no certificated personnel are to supervise recess, etc. I am assuming this will be part of the bargaining. If not, I do hope the parents start filing due process against CPS or will CPS do what it has done in the past-just simply rewrite, en masse, the IEPS to fit the needs of the system not the child?


  • In reply to district299reader:

    It's funny that you should raise this issue Annie, because a principal told me today that in order to avoid using teachers for any type for recess duty she and her AP were part of the recess supervison team.

    Clearly, in terms of time allocation some schools are having great difficulty figuring out how to free staff for such duties. At least this principal is attempting to honor the letter of the deal.

    Annie my concerns with services for students with IEPs are not limited to restructuring the school day, I am very concerned by the number of unfilled special education positions. The last count I got was 310 full unfilled special education teaching positions. There were last week 15 unfilled special education teacher positions for autism programs at the high school and elementary school levels which is about 2.6% of all the budgeted positions for full autism programs in CPS. I saw several schools that had mulitple unfilled special education positions for both cross catagorical and resource programs.

    As a matter of practice I do not recommend parents file for due process in the first month of school because of the general mass confusion that can exist in CPS. I can't begin to tell you all how many parents want to file over transportation issues each year that end up being settled.

    To be honest these days it takes close to a month to set up an IEP meeting at many schools and I always recommend that before a parent even considers filing for due process they go to the table to formally lay out the IEP violation they see.

    Principals are being placed in a very difficult situation in particular in the year round programs. While additional positions may have been opened in many cases they have not been filled. Some may indeed be making bad choices in terms of setting up schedules. Using a certified special education teacher for recess duty is probably one of those bad choices regardless of the deal cut by the union.

    Annie as you may know I have come to believe that the co-teaching model is both too expensive and complex to implement for moderately disabled students who require direct support within regular education classrooms. Having core groups of fully cross certified teachers with limited numbers of students with IEPs to service students is more rational. But ISBE rules currently prohibit it and it would require we believe paying teachers who would argee to such double duty for the effort. Up to now I don't think the CTU would agree to creating a more complex pay scale for such intense work either.

    We all know that right now, using a co-teaching model not all children who require direct support can get it within regular rooms based on the 20-1 ratio in the resource model at either the high school or elementary school levels. We also know that pull out programs are not particularly effective for students who have mild to moderate disabilities because of the need to tie into the general curriculum. It's not impossible is the regular teachers and resource teacher meet regularly, but generally working together in two seperate rooms is very difficult. So we have a problem, actually a big one I think.

    Using cross certifited teachers for some students is one option. The co-taught model works where teams can stay together for several years and teachers can work together. But at the 20-1 ratio its a long shot that the needs of most students can be met, that ratio isn't going to lowered. I tried to get it lowered by going to the General Assembly and ISBE in the past. The Association of School Boards opposed it without additional state funding, which is not on the table right now.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Do you know if their is any push to have substitutes for absent parapros? I work at a school with a large special education population, many with autism or other severe and profound disabilities, several with one on one assistants. It is challenging when one or two assistants are out. But we have had times when several have been out, and I know the education of the students is compromised. This has been an issue ever since I have worked for CPS..

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Thanks Rod for your informative reply.
    I am glad you brought up the shortage of special education teachers. This is an ongoing problem in CPS especially in the self-contained classrooms. CPS does not follow any kind of caseload/class size formula and classrooms of children with multiple disabilities and no one to one aides have increased the shortage. I have often wondered how CPS uses the monies it saves by hiring subs to fill these positions. I know the state will not reimburse for the position unless the teacher is certified but maybe CPS saves money because these subs really do not know the legalities and most do not complain about lack of services for the children.

    Cross training of teachers is a novel concept but I do not know enough about it to comment. Where is this being used? We have an inclusion program where the sped teachers are in the gen ed rooms for a portion of the day and then we pull-out into small groups in a separate setting. The teachers work hard to make this work-lots of collaboration. The sped teachers spend alot of time at home planning out their pull-out lessons. Yes, it would be so much easier on the teachers not to pull the students out but this is the best situation for these students at this school. We made AYP. It works and works well or we would have changed it. Our students generally do very well in high school. This is a high performing school and our students need a lot of help just to keep up with a population that is above level.

    At the school I retired from in June, the principal and assistant principal do lunch duty. Our AP will sub all day in a gen ed room to make sure the sped teachers don't have to sub. They do their best to ensure student safety at lunch but this is a school with very little behavioral issues so this works at this school. Most administrators spend a lot of time on student discipline, teacher evaluations and parent meetings. There are no aides to cover and only one security guard. Most of the parents work so really who is going to cover the 45 minute recess?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I too have seen co-teaching models work, but in my opinion looked at from the macro level it is so expensive that an urban district can't really pull it off in mass. Cross trained teachers are being used in a few states, but actually paying their salaries out of special ed funds has been an issue.

    The issue of one on one aides has become a mess in CPS, because there was little planning for fading one on one supports to promote independence. So CPS as a district is arguing now that to promote greater independence all aides should be shared. That in my opinion was a cost saving measure not an educational decision. Then there is the issue of special education teachers actual authority over aides, which formally is zero. Then there is the big question of training for aides. I could go on and on. The sub issue is huge and the central office sped office knows it, CPS as a district has destroyed the administrative center for special education by cuts and it will not fund a core group of trained subs to be used for more complex children such as you discuss.

    CPS uses the money it saves on unfilled positions to cover budget shortfalls and it does keep tract of this. But I have seen no evidence that the district has ever ordered a principal not to fill a position in order to save money. The shortage will get worse because the flow of younger certified teachers trained in sped is declining because of the increase in the cut scores on the basic skills test that allows entry into colleges of education in our state.

    Your comments were thoughtful and thanks for posting them.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Thanks Rod.

    What I should have added was that CPS has not addressed this shortage of special education teachers yet CPS offers signing bonuses for administrators, pays moving expenses and even recruits nationally for math and science teachers. Special education is the step-child of CPS and this is why many of my friends who have special education certificates will not leave general education to teach special education. When you have top OSES administrators telling a room of case managers that a child in a wheelchair can have a shared aide something is seriously wrong in CPS. When a question is asked about how will the aide get back to the child in the wheelchair ( through fire doors) in the event of a fire and the question is ignored, there is no hope.


  • In reply to district299reader:

    How is it expected that the replacement for Dick Smith will impact OSES and sped in CPS?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I want to know this too. I heard she was someone recruited from outside the city. Totally ridiculous and insulting!! The thought that you have to go outside of the city for city positions really angers me. There were numerous people who worked under Rene Grant Mitchell and had Sped expertise, Duskey, Hairston, etc.... where did they go? They knew the system, came through the system, but you bring in a transplant and offer a bonus?
    What a shameful sham!

  • Most if not all of the confusion resulting in Track E schools and the longer school day Could Have been avoided had the board agreed to this proposal made by CTU months and months ago. I for one do not envy the principals who had little to no time to rewrite schedules, hire from the displaced teacher pool and ensure prep and duty free lunch periods. Recall, it was only after the fact finder argued longer day = increased pay did this interim agreement happen. Had they listened...

  • Regarding the new special education director her name is Markey Winston and she was director of special education in Cincinnati Public Schools. Before that, she was a school psychologist and a mental health consultant in Cincinnati. She has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton, the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University.

    I have not yet had a chance to talk with her, but CPS did offer myself and Access Living's CEO a chance to talk with her prior to her appointment. Unfortunately we were both out of the state on the day the discussion was set for.

    Rod Estvan

  • Markey Winston would be very wise to sit down with Access Living. Has Brizard showed any interest in sped and students with disabilities?

  • Chicago has 675 schools...
    ...Cincinnati has 58.
    That says a lot to me about their choice.

  • When Mr. Brizard was hired he said he would help the students with disabilities. Under his watch our wonderfully inept law department filed so that CPS could dismissed from the dictates of the Corey H. case. The judge was so incensed that CPS/OSES wasted monies which could have been spent on the children with disabilities he denied the suit. I am not sure why CPS filed this as I do not have legal expertise but obviously neither does our law department. This is another example of why teachers of students with disabilities need to be very aware of the legalities of special education because OSES has many oral mandates involving students with disabilities which are dangerous and probably illegal. Ms Winston will have her hands full.


  • In reply to district299reader:

    Are you serious?!! Is this why Pat Rocks retired?
    It was my understanding that the Cory H mandate was coming to an end soon w/o interference from the CPS law dept. That's good, I wish there were more ISBE monitors who could stop in unannounced and see the Sp. Ed conditions now!!

  • I think that nearly all of all of us who were field administrators during Sue Gamm and Renee Grant Mitchell's time are now retired. When we were in the field, sped was implemented correctly and followed the intent of the law.
    Having the Corey H Settlement Agreement was a plus as it gave all of us leverage for change along with the monies to implement change. I am saddened by these posted comments as it seems that conditions have slipped backwards to pre-Corey H and that everyone is so frustrated with serving the special needs population. OSES should create a "think tank" and bring back any retiree who had the field experience I mentioned who wants to return for a limited period of time in order to help to solve the current mess. But, then again, there is no one left who remembers who all of us are!

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