Furniture, Closings, Angry [White] Parents

Furniture, Closings, Angry [White] Parents

Folks are upset about the doubled $10M CPS furniture budget — but not Emanuel. Closings worked over all, says Byrd-Bennett — the Trib editorial Board agrees (especially on school safety) but Catalyst not so much. Drummond parents and CTU expressed dismay at the ISAT opt out situation in which their children were asked about why they opted out. Only 3 of 50 closed schools are occupied, reports WTTW.  Schools nationwide are segregated racially, according to a new report whose author somehow blames charter schools.


Emanuel defends CPS decision to spend $9.5 million on furniture Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has questioned the rationale of doubling the furniture budget to outfit the new central office and eight satellite offices in a system still reeling from 50 school closings and devastating cuts to school ..

Parents Slam CPS Plans To Spend Nearly $10M On Office Furniture CBS Local: Protesters outside Wednesday’s board meeting were upset the district plans to double its furniture budget at the same time CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett has proposed a major overhaul known as a “turnaround” at three schools next year.


So far, so good Tribune editorial: A Chicago police spokesman tells us there have been “no major incidents involving students on Safe Passage routes during the program’s operational hours.” Students have reached their new schools safely, with the help of thousands of Safe Passage escorts. That’s no guarantee something won’t happen in the future — no student anywhere has such a guarantee. But so far, so good. Give credit to CPS, to Chicago police and especially to the 1,200 hardy Safe Passage escorts who shepherd students every day along 92 routes.

Byrd-Bennett declares school closing process a success Chicago Sun-Times:Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, reminded board members that the transition has not been entirely seamless. “There are still 800 students unaccounted for from the entire move last year,” she said.

CPS touts minute improvements for students from closed schools Catalyst: In her first update on what has happened to the roughly 12,000 students whose schools were closed at the end of last school year, Byrd-Bennett told board members on Wednesday that dire predictions of chaos did not come true.“We’re stronger today than we were before and better positioned than we were before,” she said. “Students impacted by the consolidations are making academic gains.”But the CEO’s preliminary report does not show substantial gains.

Closed School Buildings Chicago Tonight: The timeline also calls for walk-throughs in the closed schools.  The walk-throughs were canceled after CPS decided the request for real estate brokers to submit proposals on how they would sell the vacant buildings was not ready. “What we discovered after we put the RFP out, it didn’t really capture the unique nature of what we were asking the real estate community to do so we basically pulled it back,” Tyrrell said.


Parents blast CPS for questioning students about not taking state tests Tribune: Chicago Tribune: Some teachers also launched a boycott of the test, officials with the Chicago Teachers Union said at the time. A coalition of anti-testing advocates said parents at more than 70 district schools submitted letters telling administrators they don’t want …

ISAT boycott controversy boils over at Chicago Public Schools board meeting ABC7Chicago:  ”We are obliged to investigate allegations of staff misconduct around ISAT testing in a handful of situations,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Earlier this month, teachers at Saucedo Academy refused to administer the Illinois Standard Achievement …

ISAT Probe Prompts ‘Livid’ Parents, Teachers to Berate School Board DNAinfo: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called the ISAT a “meaningless” test, but basically threw up her hands in addressing the board on the matter, saying, “Do what you have to do.” CTU has previously made it clear it will defend any teacher …

CPS In Hot Water Over ISAT, AUSL & Plan To Spend $10M On Furniture Progress IL: “This investigation has backfired at you,” said Anne Carlson, a parent of a Thomas Drummond Montessori School student. She also teaches at the school. “Parents and teachers are livid with you … that CPS would bully 8 year-olds in a witch hunt.”


South Side Schools Thread CPS Obsessed: My name is Maureen Kelleher and I spent 10 year covering CPS for Catalyst Chicago, mostly focused on high schools. For this post I’m going to list schools by neighborhood that are (or perhaps should be) getting buzz on the blog and invite South Side readers to add, comment and share their impressions.

For more Chicago jobs, fix Chicago’s schools Chicago Tribune: In our series on a new Plan of Chicago, we’ve focused on how Chicago can spread the prosperity of wealthier precincts of the Loop and Near North Side to all neighborhoods.

Report Looks at Most Racially Segregated U.S. Schools NBC Chicago: In New York City, Orfield said, a system of unscreened “choice” schools would foster more diversity than the current New York City high school choice system, which sees entrance tests at top schools excluding most black and Latino students.


Early response to Smarter Balanced field tests encouraging LA School Report: As the Smarter Balanced field tests got underway yesterday in California and 21 other states, officials are receiving positive feedback from the schools that are participating. The testing starts in LA Unified next Tuesday. By mid-morning yesterday, 16,633 students completed the test and 19,677 students had begun but had not yet finished it.

Calif. Testing Waiver Draws Civil Rights Concerns Education Week: In remarks March 14 to the National Association of State Boards of Education at its conference in Arlington, Va., U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended the decision, saying that allowing millions of California students to participate in the .

Report: NY schools are most racially segregated AP: New York state has the most segregated public schools in the nation, with many black and Latino students attending schools with virtually no white classmates, according to a report released Wednesday….

Conflict in Laws Could Mean “Double-Testing” for Some Eighth-Graders Texas Tribune: Currently Texas school districts are left with two options for the roughly 23 percent of eighth-graders — about 86,000 students last school year — who take algebra I before they reach high school. The districts could either ignore federal law, which could subject them to penalties, or test them twice — once in algebra I to fulfill state requirements and once under the eighth-grade-level math assessment used for federal accountability purposes.

Michelle Obama visits with Chinese students in Chengdu UPI: First lady Michelle Obama spent Tuesday speaking with students about education at the No. 7 School in Chengdu, as a continuation of her education tour of China. She is accompanied by daughters Malia and Sasha and mother Marian Robinson.

Why is this Common Core math problem so hard? Supporters respond to quiz that went viral Hechinger Report: Why is the problem so difficult? The Hechinger Report asked a couple of the lead writers of the Common Core math standards, Jason Zimba and William McCallum. Their response? Don’t blame Common Core. Blame a poorly written curriculum.


With Melendez gone, Garcetti not sure about replacing her LA School Report: A week after his education liaison left to join LA Unified, Mayor Eric Garcetti is reconsidering whether he will even have an education deputy on his staff. Jeff Millman, spokesman for Garcetti, told LA School Report the mayor’s office “has not decided” if it will seek a replacement for Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, who left her post as director of education and workforce development after only seven months on the job.

Can The Success Of D.C.’s Best Middle Schools Be Replicated? WAMU: Mayoral contender and D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser said she wants to replicate the educational successes of Alice Deal Middle School. But does the school really offer a model for the whole city?

Detroit Parents Can Use New Website to Compare School Ratings, Programs EdWeek: Excellent Schools Detroit, a local coalition of philanthropic, education, and city leaders, in partnership with GreatSchools, a national nonprofit that assists parents find schools and educational resources, developed to give parents the ability to compare school ratings, services, and programs, according to a news release. Detroit Deputy Mayor Ike McKinnon helped introduce the website during a press conference Tuesday at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Study Examines How School Boards Contribute to ‘Beat the Odds’ Districts EdWeek:  A new report finds that school board elections and board member characteristics can impact student achievement within districts.

Education groups lobby against building aid for charter schools ChalkbeatNY: A coalition of the state’s seven biggest education organizations are “vigorously opposing” a proposal to provide state building aid to charter schools. “Anything that is going to detract from getting aid to the public schools is a problem for us and that certainly is the case for the building aid,” ECF Chair John Yagielski said in an interview.

The Montessori Mafia – Ideas Market – WSJ.

It may seem like a laughable “only in New York” story that Manhattan mother, Nicole Imprescia, is suing her 4-year-old daughter’s untraditional private preschool for failing to prepare her for a private school admissions exam.

But her daughter’s future and ours might be much brighter with a little less conditioning to perform well on tests and more encouragement to discover as they teach in Montessori schools. Ironically, the Montessori educational approach might be the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by the school’s alumni that one might suspect a Montessori Mafia: Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, videogame pioneer Will Wright, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, not to mention Julia Child and rapper Sean “P.Diddy” Combs.

Is there something going on here?  Is there something about the Montessori approach that nurtures creativity and inventiveness that we can all learn from?

After all, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were famous life-long tinkerers, who discovered new ways of doing things by constantly improvising, experimenting, failing, and retesting.  Above all they were voraciously inquisitive learners.

The Montessori learning method, founded by Maria Montessori, emphasizes a collaborative environment without grades or tests, multi-aged classrooms, as well as self-directed learning and discovery for long blocks of time, primarily for young children ages 2 1/2 to 7.

The Montessori Mafia showed up in an extensive, six-year study about the way creative business executives think. Professors Jeffrey Dyer of Brigham Young University and Hal Gregersen of globe-spanning business school INSEAD surveyed over 3,000 executives and interviewed 500 people who had either started innovative companies or invented new products.

“A number of the innovative entrepreneurs also went to Montessori schools, where they learned to follow their curiosity,” Mr. Gregersen said. “To paraphrase the famous Apple ad campaign, innovators not only learned early on to think different, they act different (and even talk different).”

When Barbara Walters, who interviewed Google founders Messrs. Page and Brin in 2004, asked if having parents who were college professors was a major factor behind their success, they instead credited their early Montessori education.  “We both went to Montessori school,” Mr. Page said, “and I think it was part of that training of not following rules and orders, and being self-motivated, questioning what’s going on in the world, doing things a little bit differently.”

Today at 3 E.T., Peter Sims will field questions from WSJ readers about the Montessori approach. Ask your questions, here.

Will Wright, inventor of bestselling “The Sims” videogame series, heaps similar praise.  “Montessori taught me the joy of discovery,” Mr. Wright said, “It’s all about learning on your terms, rather than a teacher explaining stuff to you.  SimCity comes right out of Montessori…”

Meanwhile, according to Jeff Bezos’s mother, young Jeff would get so engrossed in his activities as a Montessori preschooler that his teachers would literally have to pick him up out of his chair to go to the next task. “I’ve always felt that there’s a certain kind of important pioneering that goes on from an inventor like Thomas Edison,” Mr. Bezoshas said, and that discovery mentality is precisely the environment that Montessori seeks to create.

Neuroscience author Jonah Lehrer cites a 2006 study published in Science that compared the educational achievement performance of low-income Milwaukee children who attended Montessori schools versus children who attended a variety of other preschools, as determined by a lottery.

By the end of kindergarten, among 5-year-olds, “Montessori students proved to be significantly better prepared for elementary school in reading and math skills than the non-Montessori children,” according to the researchers.  “They also tested better on “executive function,” the ability to adapt to changing and more complex problems, an indicator of future school and life success.”

Of course, Montessori methods go against the grain of traditional educational methods.  We are given very little opportunity, for instance, to perform our own, original experiments, and there is also little or no margin for failure or mistakes.  We are judged primarily on getting answers right.  There is much less emphasis on developing our creative thinking abilities, our abilities to let our minds run imaginatively and to discover things on our own.

But most highly creative achievers don’t begin with brilliant ideas, they discover them.

Google, for instance, didn’t begin as a brilliant vision, but as a project to improve library searches, followed by a series of small discoveries that unlocked a revolutionary business model.  Larry Page and Sergei Brin didn’t begin with an ingenious idea.  But they certainly discovered one.

Similarly, Amazon’s culture breathes experimentation and discovery.  Mr. Bezos often compares Amazon’s strategy of developing ideas in new markets to “planting seeds” or “going down blind alleys.”  Amazon’s executives learn and uncover opportunities as they go.  Many efforts turn out to be dead ends, Mr. Bezos has said, “But every once in a while, you go down an alley and it opens up into this huge, broad avenue.”

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that Montessori alumni lead two of the world’s most innovative companies.  Or perhaps the Montessori Mafia of can provide lessons for us all even though it’s too late for most of us to attend Montessori.

We can change the way we’ve been trained to think.  That begins in small, achievable ways, with increased experimentation and inquisitiveness.  Those who work with Mr. Bezos, for example, find his ability to ask “why not?” or “what if?” as much as “why?” to be one of his most advantageous qualities.  Questions are the new answers.


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  • WBEZ How one Chicago n'hood [Beverly] avoided the white flight that affected most others @natalieymoore @sdrummondnpr


    Go Phil! The truth spoken by a true southsider!

  • "Educators play a growing role in testing opt-out efforts" - @patrick_wall ChalkbeatNY -- similar to CPS, no?

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    It is great that more comfortable conditions are created to make life safer. Frankly speaking students don’t always pay much attention on such things as the constantly think where to or something like this but, anyway, when you feel comfortable, it makes the life easier. I don’t think that it can influence someone’s decision regarding the choice of college, as there are some more important thing. However for students who are already there, it is an excellent advantage.

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