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Mixed Return To Class

Mixed Return To Class

Today's education news includes the return to school (seems like it went better in CPS than some surrounding suburbs), proposed charter expansion (despite the UNO fiasco detailed in Chicago Magazine story just out this week), and reactions to Obama administration proposals to reduce suspensions and in-school arrests. Nationally, there's Common Core movement in New York and California, and mixed signals on universal preschool in New York City.

BACK TO SCHOOL / MID-YEAR MOVES

Slow snow dig-out across city Tribune: Chicago Public Schools officials said they received complaints of uncleared sidewalks that made getting to school treacherous, while city officials and aldermen continued to hear from residents grousing about snow-covered side streets.

Back to class in Chicago after cold days WBEZ: Chicago Public Schools spokesman Joel Hood said the missed days will be made up, even though CPS extended its school year to 180 days, above the 176 required by the state. Officials are still determining when they will schedule the make-up days.

Some side streets still a problem for Chicago drivers CLTV: As temperatures begin to rise in Chicago, drivers are digging out. But they’re still spinning out and getting stuck on local side streets.

Busses for suburban school leaves students waiting in cold CLTV:  The announcement comes after angry Park Ridge-Niles school officials were scrambling this morning after learning at the last-minute that buses would not be running for about 1,800 children who rely on them.

Former Earle Elementary Principal Assigned to Crispus Attucks Elementary DNA Info: Ketesha Melendez is the new acting principal at Crispus Attucks Elementary in Bronzeville.

POLITICS

Mayor Rahm discovers winter can be cold in Chicago Reader: The contrast between New York City's newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio and our very own Mayor Emanuel was never so dramatically displayed as when winter storms recently roared into their respective cities.

Lewis Kicks Rahm's Ass Again Second City Cop: That was probably the last straw - everyone stay home....except the kids. A brilliant bit of theater that would have left egg all over Rahm, so of course, it had to be done. Nice to see someone is thinking.

Back from Indonesia, Emanuel talks weather response Tribune: District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she made recommendations to the mayor about closing the schools after monitoring the situation. “It may have seemed at the last minute, but it wasn't,” Byrd-Bennett said. “We were being pro-active all along.

CHARTERS

Debate Over New Chicago Charter School Proposals Heats Up At CPS Hearing Progress IL: Chicagoans braved the bitter cold Tuesday night to speak out at community hearings held by the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) regarding proposals for 21 new privately-run charter schools. Three simultaneous community hearings were held Tuesday at CPS’ district headquarters, each covering applications from three of the nine different charter operators.

ChicagoQuest Charter School Staff Push To Form A Union ProgressIL: Thirty-three out of the 34 staff members at the “game-like learning” junior high school, which centers its curriculum around systems-thinking and game design, announced last month that they want to unionize in order to have a legal voice and actively participate in the school community's decision-making processes.

Charter School Expansion Chicago Tonight: Carol Marin and her guests discuss Chicago Public Schools' announcement of charter school expansion.

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE

More transparency on suspensions and expulsions, but racial disparity lingers Catalyst: CPS is readying itself for a major release of detailed school-level statistics on expulsion and suspension. The upcoming data release is the result of a huge battle activists won when CPS agreed to not only post information for individual schools, but also to provide detailed breakdowns by demographics, including race, and disability. Yet there will still be a big missing piece: Information on charter schools and school arrests, which will not be included when the data is posted by the end of February.

CPS says it will consider new federal school discipline guidelines Sun Times: Although black students in 2009 made up 45 percent of CPS’ enrollment, 76 percent of all CPS students who received out-of-school suspensions were black, according to Department of Education data. When it came to expulsions, black students made up 80 percent of those who were expelled. Chart: Discipline Rates at CPS

CPS Students Charge Prejudice in Discipline, Back New Federal Guidelines DNA Info: Voices of Youth in Chicago Education staged a protest at Chicago Public Schools headquarters.

Local groups welcome federal school discipline initiative Tribune: With the Obama administration criticizing zero tolerance policies that have led schools to often turn over routine discipline issues to police, the federal government on Wednesday released new discipline guidelines for states and school districts.

U.S. Criticizes Zero-Tolerance Policies in Schools NYT: The Obama administration on Wednesday recommended that public schools emphasize positive behavior and use law enforcement only as a last resort.

Ease Up On 'No Tolerance' Policies, U.S. Agencies Tell Schools NPR: A move by the Education and Justice departments comes after years of complaints from civil rights groups and others who say the policies are ineffective and take an unfair toll on minorities.

Are some U.S. school discipline policies too punitive? PBS: The Obama administration made a big move today on the question of school discipline policies around the country. It issued new guidelines to urge school administrators to ensure they are not being overly zealous with strict punishments for students that are sometimes called zero tolerance rules.

Obama Administration Has Little Love For 'Zero Tolerance' NPR: The Obama administration wants public school officials to rethink how they discipline and punish students who misbehave. In the mid-1990s, states put in place harsh "zero-tolerance" policies in response to a rise in violence, bullying, drug use and school shootings.

COMMON CORE

New Education Standards Widen Achievement Gap For English Learners? NPR: New national education standards, known as Common Core, aim to set baseline knowledge for English and math. But some people say the standards will increase achievement gaps between English learners and native English speakers. Host Michel Martin learns more from journalist Pat Wingert.

N.Y. Assembly Speaker: 'Case Has Been Made' for Common Core Delay State Ed Watch: Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, argued that the Common Core State Standards were imposed improperly on teachers and other education officials without the proper support.

Gates Foundation considers major Common Core grant program in California EdSource Today: Having largely steered clear of making education grants in California over the last half-decade, the Gates Foundation is weighing whether to invest substantially in helping California’s teachers successfully put the Common Core standards into practice.

OTHER CITIES

Cuomo Gives Support For Pre-K, But No Dollar Figure WNYC: The governor, who is running for re-election this year, was more interested in tax cuts, proposing a $2.2 billion tax relief package for residents and businesses.De Blasio, who attended the Albany speech, insisted he wasn't disappointed.

New York City officials cool to Cuomo’s teacher merit pay proposal Chalkbeat NY: In his State of the State address today, Cuomo proposed a “Teacher Excellence Fund” that would allow districts to give $20,000 bonuses to teachers who earn the top rating on their annual evaluations. The bonus amount, which is more than a quarter of average teacher pay in the state, is enough to make teachers work

Transgender Rights Referendum Reaches Next Step Huffington Post: Opponents of a new California law that spells out the rights of transgender students in public schools have cleared the next hurdle in their effort to repeal the law at the ballot box, state elections officials said Wednesday.

8 Violations for School in Wake of Lab Fire NYT: Fire Department investigators cited Beacon High School, where one student was severely burned in a chemistry demonstration, for violations of fire and building codes.

Ohio: Principal Has Deal to Drop Charges Tied to Party NYT: A Steubenville elementary school principal will perform 40 hours of community service related to rape awareness in exchange for prosecutors’ dropping a charge that she failed to report rumors of a teenage sex and drinking party, Mike DeWine, the state attorney general.

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  • Rod Estvan: Thoughts on this?

    With the Obama administration criticizing zero tolerance policies that have led schools to often turn over routine discipline issues to police, the federal government on Wednesday released new discipline guidelines for states and school districts. Student groups and the Chicago Teachers Union, both of which have argued that Chicago Public Schools has one of the harshest and most discriminatory disciplinary policies among large urban school districts, welcomed the new guidelines and urged CPS to implement them. (Tribune) via Catalyst

  • Access Living was part of the coalition that supported the Obama administration taking a critical stance on zero tolerance policies. However, the reality is that CPS continues to increase alternative school seats which makes it more cost effective for traditional and charter schools to push troubled students out by repeated suspensions rather than creating supportive programs for these students.

    It is not called the school to prison pipeline for no reason. Any one who has taught very difficult students knows how much they can impede instruction and with the rise of measuring teachers by increases in test data teachers are also under pressure to push kids out and teach those who are more receptive. So just getting rid of zero tolerance policies is just the beginning of what needs to be done for these students.

    Rod Estvan

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