Obama, Poverty, & The HCZ

I’m away until Thursday — feel free to post news links and comments for your fellow readers in my absence — but will leave you with a couple of things to read and lots of opportunities to comment. First and foremost, you should check out Paul Tough’s NYT Sunday Magazine look at Roseland and at young Barack Obama’s notion that he could do more to alleviate poverty as a politician than as a community organizer  — which at least so far hasn’t happened. Also not to be missed — and directly related — is a recent Atlantic Cities blog post about why the Harlem Children’s Zone, Geoff Canada’s much-vaunted effort to provide wraparound services (including education), hasn’t been replicated.  Tough wrote about the Harlem Children’s Zone in several magazine articles and his 2008 book, Whatever It Takes.  The Obama administration — and the school reform community — invited Canada to all its conferences but supported expansion of the initiative only minimally.   Helen Zelon and I wrote about some of the gaps in the HCZ’s accomplishments that were usually missed by the press.  Last but not least, Tough is appearing at the first of Catalyst’s policy luncheons, on 9/27 — see schedule below.

September 27: New Path to Close the Achievement Gap

Speaker: Paul Tough, author of the forthcoming “How Children Succeed” and of “Whatever It Takes,” his 2008 examination of the Harlem Children’s Zone.
Respondent: Barbara Bowman, co-founder and former president of the Erikson Institute.

October 30: What Schools Can Do
Speaker: Camille Farrington, Research Associate (Assistant Professor), University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Mary Ann Pitcher, co-director, Network for College Success.
Elizabeth Dozier, principal, Fenger High School, a turn-around school in the Roseland neighborhood.
Sean Stalling, chief of schools, South Side Network, Chicago Public Schools.


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  • 26 Corporations (some of which are headquartered in Chicago) That Paid Their CEOs More Than Uncle Sam
    August 16, 2012


  • What's up with the CPS Teach for America contract this year? Wondered. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48688907/ns/us_news-life/#.UC5Ae0R9lKU

  • "Eager to bring in more low-income and minority candidates, TFA no longer sticks to elite colleges; recruiters also urge veterans and mid-career professionals to apply. TFA retains its competitive prestige by rejecting 90 percent of applicants." Where does TFA recruit in the Chicago area? What colleges and universities?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    My alma mater, Columbia College Chicago, for one - an open admissions university which requires only a high school diploma or GED to gain admission. Some "top tier" university!

  • In reply to Anon:

    You probably have to pass classes and have a 4.0 to be TFA.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I am unsure of that. All I know is Columbia College Chicago is a bottom feeding school. Really no better than University of Phoenix.

  • In reply to Anon:

    You sound very arrogant condemning the students of those schools. Who are you to judge them? What ivory tower did you attend?

  • In reply to wtf:

    Columbia is notorious for letting everyone in, taking their money, and dumping those students who never should have been there in the first place. Of course, they are not refunding those students' monies. I wonder what percentage of entering students actually leave Columbia with a degree after 4 or even 5 years.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    It seems like people are trying to disparage TFA by linking it's teachers to Columbia College. I could care less about TFA. I think they are doing more harm than good. They are like shock troops out to prove that the problem with failing schools is the caliber of teachers teaching in those schools (an assumption I completely reject). The majority of individuals in TFA have no intention of making a long-term commitment to the lives of inner-city children or teaching for that matter. It seems designed to bolster one's resume more than anything else. At worst, some might be driven to play the paternalistic role of "suburbanite to the rescue" out of guilt/pity. Chicago students don't need this. They need quality teachers -YES. But also teachers who are vested in the long term health of the community /school system.
    Neverthless, I was responding only to the arrogant tone of the comments regarding Columbia College. Keep in mind not every high school graduate is going to go to Harvard or some other top tier school; especially in the inner-city. Some don't have the economic support or the GPA to go anywhere else. I think the former is responsible for the low number of CPS high school graduates, who don't graduate in four years. There is a need schools like NEIU, City Colleges, and Columbia. They provide a second chance for students who didn't perform well in highschool and often have lower tuition. (I don't know about Columbia). Still, you should be congratulating people who are trying to get a degree not looking down on them.

  • In reply to wtf:

    It's not the students who go to Columbia that are at fault -- it's Columbia, and like-minded schools, for selling those kids snakeoil, enticing them to rack up ridiculous amounts of student loans, and them dumping them.

    It's also the CPS's fault for telling everyone they should go to college, when college is not the route to success that everyone should take. Ask the hundreds of thousands of college-degreed young adults who are stuck with unfathomable loans who are now waiting tables. Society lied to them, and they are the ones who suffer.

  • In reply to wtf:

    I attended Columbia College Chicago. So I know EXACTLY what I am talking about. Biggest mistake of my life!

  • In reply to Anon:

    I do know a lot of Columbia graduates and professors, and many are smart, fabulous, successful people in the arts and media. Those that don't graduate --- or don't figure out how to learn while there --- at least had a chance, but did not make the grade, it seems to me. HYP are elite, Columbia in Chicago is not. It's what you make of it, from what I've seen. I've also know some real evil asses coming out of the Ivies and other hyper-selective colleges. Sorry to hear about folks who've wasted their higher ed investment.

  • Headache299
    Is TFA A Waste of Money? by Gary Rubinstein.

  • Brizard announces plans to open Scab Schools in August 20 letter to parents and teachers

  • Good video, posted on July 6 and worth watching again at Teachers for Social Justice

  • CPS budgeting plans to make Unite-HERE, SEIU, and Operating Engineers members scab on teacher work when strike begins! 'Recess Facilitation Services' to increase to $24 million as 'Broke' Board doubles union-busting 'recess' programs by John Kugler

  • “By asking CPS principals to spy on their own teachers and report "lawful" union activity back to the central office, Rahm and Brizard have taken their anti-teacher, anti-union crusade to a whole to level”


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    In a another sneak move that the Chicago Board of Education probably hopes nobody notices, the Board will make an attempt at its August 22, 2012 meeting to increase by 100% spending on Union busting programs — including the outsourcing of recess — that clearly violate all parts of collective bargaining agreement with Chicago Teachers Union.

  • I read the article at Substance. It didn't say anything about opening scab schools, simply providing a safe option for parents who have to work during school hours. I would consider that the least that the administration could do to help parents get through any possible strike. I would think the CTU would support that, too. After all, if any kids get killed that would't have gotten killed had they been in school, that will not look good for CTU and the CTU's complaint is with the administration, not the parents.

  • In reply to cermakRd:


    I proposed this very question several months ago on this board. You stated that if the tragic death of a CPS student would occur during a strike-during normal school hours- that the blame (my interjection) would fall on the CTU. Can you explain your rationale behind that thought?

  • In reply to cermakRd:

    Discussing the death of children with such statements as "it will not look good" is at the basic core... disturbing.

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    In reply to cermakRd:

    OMG!!!! Here we go again....somehow connecting horrible crimes that people commit within their own communities to TEACHERS?! That just shows that what some of you only care about is a daytime prision mentality. Just get 'em off the streets. Let's hold those communities responsible for thier own actions....espcialyl the parents of those kids. Teachers are not the police.

  • In reply to cermakRd:

    All the more reason for Rahm and the board to stop playing games. IF they truly want school to open on time the path is clear. Additionally, given Rahm's policing strategy has failed to stem the tide of violence that plagues Chicago, it would serve as a tragic reminder of his administrations impotent policies.

  • Theresa Placencia, who dresses like she should be dancing on a pole, did a walk through at our school. She criticized teachers for wearing jeans. That was her big critique of us. What a maroon.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I want to be sure I understand - you find dressing in jeans to be "ok" for a teacher? I understand it for a farmer - but if teachers want to be treated as professionals, they should dress like one.
    Dressing like a "hooker" also would be inappropriate and not set a good example.

  • In reply to Fuddruckers:

    You don't understand the conditions some schools are in obviously. Early in my career I dressed well. After damaging or ripping numerous pant legs and shirts on auditorium chairs (twice), screws sticking out of walls, dry erase board trays (three times) and various other objects, I switched to jeans. Did I mention the immeasurable filth that accumulates on clothing in dusty and dirty schools? Did I mention that I break up around 10 knock down drag out brawls a year? Did I mention that I have had to sit on the floor to grade papers due to a lack of desks and space on testing days? I worked at Payton or New Trier I would have no problem dressing up. I work in a school that, like Tim Cawley has said, has been neglected for years. I damage more clothes at school than the few years I worked in a warehouse. A nice pair of jeans and a button up shirt is what I generally wear. When the temperature in the room reaches 85 or 90 I wear a t-shirt.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I agree, we work with young children and we wear jeans at my school. We are there to work with the children, to run, jump, explore, play, discover, and get down on their level. I can't do this in dress clothes and heels!

  • In reply to Fuddruckers:

    Rahm dresses "appropriate"...does he set a good example?

  • She did that to us, too. And she complained some of our teachers were too immodest, even though Placencia was wearing hooker heals!

  • thanks for all the comments while i was away

    someone please send a picture of placencia -- she sounds like someone the rest of us need to see.

    meantime, about columbia college and TFA -- how strange to hear CPS folks complaining about a school that doesn't deliver on its promises to kids.... isn't that what CPS has been doing for years?

    yes, i'm the son of a longtime columbia college teacher, but still... a little acknowledgement by the pot before you call the kettle black is in order here.

    also.... strike authorization vote tonight?

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Delegates Vote Overwhelming For Union to Issue 10-Day Strike Notice; No Strike Date Set


  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    I am a Columbia College grad and I can honestly say I learned absolutely nothing in the five years it took me to earn my degree. However they were happy to pocket about sixty grand of my money in exchange. And this was twenty years ago. Tuition now is closer to 100K for the BA.

  • In reply to Anon:

    dear Anon

    If you feel that way send your degree back.

  • In reply to Anon:

    Headache 299
    Columbia College is an arts college…if you were expecting to learn how to be a business hack, a finance crook or insurance whore you should have applied somewhere else.

  • Headache299
    Chicago Tonight
    August 22, 2012 – CPS Board Meeting


  • Euphemisms like 'Recess Facilitation Services' cannot camouflage Board's union-busting work as Rahm Emanuel's Board of Education approves spending tens of millions of dollars to break the upcoming Chicago Teachers Union strike


  • Social Justice Rap group released new song about Chicago Teacher's Union


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