So Far So Good

So Far So Good

Some of you might not know it (or want to admit it) but school started yesterday and it all seemed to go pretty well. There were no incidents of violence along the Safe Passages routes (that I know of). Two thirds of the laid off CPS teachers got rehired and are in new CPS classrooms.  There seemed to be lots of cautiously optimistic parents, teachers, kids, and principals.

Thanks to the Sun Times and DNAI in particular for reporting some of the initial successes and good will in the schools rather than focusing predominantly on the CTU-generated CPS-bashing that seems to attract so much media attention (so much of which lacks context or balance, in my opinion).

And special thanks to Interesting Chicago for pointing out the arguments against asking parents to hold their kids out of school tomorrow, as CTU and others have been advocating.

CPS students nervous, excited on first day at new schools Sun Times: At least 12,700 children whose schools closed for good in June started at their new schoools Monday. Thousands more met an influx of new classmates. CPS said 91 percent of children whose schools closed were already re-enrolled in the district,.

At Harvard Elementary, Friendships Blooms As Yale Students Enter School DNAI: Students said the first day of school at John Harvard Elementary School of Excellence went well.
Manierre Principal Feeling ‘Extremely Good’ on First Day Back DNAI: Principal Derrick Orr, whose school was spared from closing, wants to make the most of his second chance.

In Chicago, Campaign to Provide Safe Passage on Way to School NYT: With concern that children would have to traverse crime-ridden blocks after the closing of 47 schools, the city deployed about 1,200 workers to watch over them.

Rahm Emanuel reshapes Chicago school system MSNBC: NBC’s John Yang joins The Daily Rundown to report on the changes to the Chicago school system.

Hundreds of ‘Safe Passage’ workers guard Chicago streets NY Post: A crop of newly hired workers in yellow reflective vests, Chicago firefighters and even the security guards from local public libraries, all of them expected to stand guard to ensure kids get to and from school safely.

CPS Students Begin New School Year Chicago Tonight: We take a closer look at the new-look Chicago Public Schools with Andrea Zopp, a Chicago Board of Education member who voted to shutter 49 schools, the former interim CPS CEO Terry Mazany, as well as Wendy Katten of Raise Your Hand, and Jitu Brown of Journey for Justice.
State: CPS Has Never Filed Required Emergency Preparedness Report NBC: “The reason these plans are not accessible to the public is because they contain sensitive information,” Freedom of Information officer Cassandra Daniels said in her letter, rejecting the request. “Disclosure of these plans could jeopardize the safety of students, staff, and other members of the community, or the successful implementation of the plans.”
Chicago students begin new term with fewer teachers, schools Tribune: The system eliminated 1,581 teaching positions and 1,587 non-teaching positions this summer, but has hired back 1,000 teachers for the school year.
Live blog: First day of classes for CPS Tribune: The mayor headed instead to nearby UIC College Prep High School, where he watched a geography class for a few minutes, then shook hands with students and teachers when the school day ended.
Chicago Public School’s first day WBEZ: The Safe Passage program was already was in place at 35 high schools and four elementary schools — buildings district officials say have seen a 7 percent increase in attendance and a 20 percent decrease in crime since Safe Passage began.
Schools consider whether cell phones pose too much of distraction for students WBEZ: If you’re a Chicago Public School student, there is no one policy you must follow. A CPS spokeswoman said each principal is responsibility for setting the cell phone use policy for their school.
A walk to a new school year Tribune: Walking to O’Toole Elementary in Englewood for the first day of school, fourth-grader Asharie Wesley got the Safe Passage-plus treatment Monday as she strolled past a group of firefighters helping out on the designated route along Damen Avenue.
Tribune Voices: Education debate deserves accuracy Tribune: Memo to Fox News: If you’re going to run a piece about accuracy, make sure it’s not predicated on errors and misrepresentations.
As Chicago Public Schools open, the mayor has his own rite of passage Sun Times: The first bells rang on a new school year months after the historic closing of nearly 50 schools. If even one child is harmed on the longer walk down unfamiliar streets — sometimes through rival gang turf — Emanuel’s reputation and perhaps his political future will suffer.
How Chicago Teachers Relate To Kids These Days Chicago Magazine: As technology and communication evolve, educators have to adapt to maintain a workable student-teacher relationship in and out of the classroom.
What Should Chicago Do With All Those Empty School Buildings? Chicago Magazine: The city now has a lot of big, vacant schools. To figure out what to do with them, Rahm just appointed a committee, and a plugged-in guy to chair it.
Chicago children belong in school Interesting ChicagoThis fight is between adults. Using children as some kind of symbols or props of oppression is despicable, detestable, deplorable, and disgusting.


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  • School's Out Forever More #cpsclosing images -- these ones in that color-saturated Instagram-style

  • Near-record heat forcing some schools to close - #heatwave

  • access living critiques CPS budget: "Overall, because of data inconsistencies within the budget, the failure of CPS to integrate public input and to implement a committee approach into the budget process, Access Living does not support the budget and does not support the approval the FY 2014 CPS Budget by the Chicago School Board."

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:


  • BLOG: Elected Boards: Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them | Center on Reinventing Public Education @crpe_uw

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Blindly Pro-Charter Think Tanks: Can Live Without Them

  • Chicago schools providing fans to cool classrooms -, NewsCenter17, StormCenter17, Central Illinois News-

  • Glad the school year is started and hopeful that as we get past the first few weeks the acrimony will stop and we can move forward more productively.

    Perhaps it's a vain hope . . CTU, Raise Your Hand, Jitu Brown, Occupy etc. -- it's seems like you're hoping CPS will fail so you can win a debating point. You've denigated every CPS effort and refused to lift a hand to assist in getting the year off to a good start. Indeed you've done much harm to the effort. I can almost hear you cheering everytime there's a shooting along a safe passage route as if it's some small victory for your point of view. Pretty depressing.

    Yet I hope . . .

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Parents from RYH spent the whole summer analyzing the budget, advocating for the restoration of funds, visiting elected officials, so that our kids could have a dignified school day and not decimated school budgets. What type of assistance were you looking for in order to get the year off to a good start?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Wrong on so many levels!

    1. "Refused to lift a hand to assist"- the last I heard, twenty-thousand plus employees (all CTU members) showed up to "assist" in educating our children.
    2. RYH, Jitu and KOCO have done much to empower parents and communities, by giving them a voice at the table of education policy makers. They should be praised for doing so and advocating for their children, rather than be criticized for not walking in lockstep with CPS's PR machine and erroneous "facts".
    3. Harm? Really? You want to talk about harm? Shutting down 50 schools, moving kids through rival gang territories, slashing programs (art, music, sports, Social emotional supports), increasing class sizes, disinvesting in neighborhood harm there huh?
    4. "Hoping CPS will fail so you can win a debating point"- this is no debate. Almost 20 years of mayoral control, has profited our children next to nothing- it's fact. This is no debate, it's real-life. We live it everyday in front of the children of this city.
    5. "Cheering every time there's a shooting"- your issues have gotten the better of you. To write such a twisted comment like that reveals a lot about who you are and what you're about.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Here's my hope - drawing attention to the fact that the children in many areas of our city cannot walk to school without protection because of the violence happening all around them will bring outrage and change. By tacitly admitting that certain areas of our city are completely out of control and are war zones. it should shame and embarrass the mayor and the aldermen.

    Based on past performance, I'm pretty sure my hope is in vain as well.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    So why is this the Mayor's shame . . . we have to acknowledge that we have a bizarre, depraved subculture in this City in which young men, virtually all Black and Hispanic young men associated with gangs, think it is acceptable to randomly put innocent children, again virtually all Black and Hispanic, in the path of gun fire. You want enemies you can really hate? These are them.

    Would that Jitu and KOCO and Karen and Jesse and CTU and Wendy Katten and RYH march the streets of Englewood, Roseland and the West Side or now Uptown, and decry this sickening subculture and demand that these filthy, poor excuses for human beings, much less for men, be driven from our midst.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I do acknowledge that it is a subculture that is the root of the violence in our city. I don't know how you think that Jitu and KOCO and Karen and Jesse and CTU and Wendy Katten and RYH would be able to drive these miscreants "from our midst". I'm pretty sure that they are looking more toward a solution of providing a better education for the children of these neighborhoods so that they at least have a chance to not become a member of this subculture. It won't do much to change the current situation, but not fighting for a better education will guarantee no change in the future.

    As far as the mayor and other city officials, they need to wake up and realize that they are losing the battle. It is obvious that more police are needed. It has become open season on police - they are firing at them, beating them with bats, ramming them with their cars, and basically have no fear. Hundreds of thousands are being spent on overtime for police. Isn't that a indication that we currently do not have enough police to be effective in deterring crime? These thugs are on the move and are perpetrating crimes in areas and neighborhoods that were once considered safe. I am calling on the mayor and aldermen to do something - I'm tired of them closing their eyes. I'm tired of hearing that crime is down and new strategies that are doing nothing to stem the tide. Personally, I don't think parks and stadiums for a private school should be on the priority list at this time. Public safety is a much more important issue.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    This person seems very detached from the front line of parenting and teaching poor students in Chicago. Lack of real, direct experience.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    This person: " I can almost hear you cheering everytime there's a shooting along a safe passage route as if it's some small victory for your point of view. Pretty depressing."

  • Parents Fuming About CPS School Without Power | NBC Chicago via JKugler

  • There was a speaker at today's Board meeting who I thought made a really poignant speech in which she heaped lots of crticism on the Board and on CTU. It was very telling about the destructiveness of the manner in which the public debate on CPS is playing out.

    She began by expressing shame at the conduct of the students at last month's Board meeting and at those who use them as pawns (the guy who was on the front page of the Sun-Times after having lost his third teaching job.)

    In the middle she expressed anger about the loss of schools and black teachers and the passing down of Black cultural traditions in traditionally Black neighborhoods. She made an effective case, though I think her anger appropriate, I think it is misdirected.

    At the end, she said she would never come to another Board meeting because it was too depressing to watch adults snipe so viciously at one another while nothing good was happening for the children she cares most about.

    Board meetings and the toxic banter between and from CTU, KOCO, RYH and the cast, really makes me want to shut it all down. If we cannot work together at least some of the time, if we cannot acknowledge that there are people of good will all around the table at least some of the time, what are we doing it for?

    I am becoming a convert to vouchers.

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