Back to School: Fall 2015


Hi, I am emerging again.  Kind of in denial that school is starting and that I will have a (sniff sniff) 7th grader this year.  So it’s a pivotal year.  We had a talk today about how I will be more on top of school stuff this year since it’s a pivotal pre-high school year.

I’ve framed it in terms of “doing better so you can have more options available” rather than any kind of Make it or Break it kind of pressure. We are in easy transport distance to Amundsen, Lakeview and Senn High schools so I hope that SEHS feels like one option of many.

I’m also starting to think about whether to try to work in some school tours this year and if so, which ones.  I’ve never been in Von Steuben and have been curious about that school as an option as well.   I’m hoping to ramp up more on Amundsen since it’s so close to our house (renovations and STEM stuff happening there now.)  LVHS still has great momentum.  Senn.. I’m very very sad about what went down with the principal and hope they continue on the same great path.

I’ve also realized that having a pre-teen means the kid does not want to be talked about online, so when you see me making vague references to “a family I know,” you’ll understand it as codeword.

In terms of thinking about test prep, I had hoped I could locate some MAP practice workbooks and be done with it, but they don’t seem to exist from my initial Googling.  Anyone else find them?

In random news, if you didn’t catch this, it’s a hilarious article about some erotica centered around the CPS strike.  Very weird story topic in my opinion.  They even mention the school closings and refer to the city’s mayor as the “mayor of the 1%” without naming any names.


There tends to be a lot of last minute phone calls about schools and openings this week.  Have you been contacted?  Feel free to share here.

And here is to a great school year with no strikes, manageable homework, and no cold-days off!

August 30, 2015 at 10:41 pm 1 comment

College Thread – Tuition and Essays

Cat writing college essay

Cat writing college essay

I travelled this past weekend, to a wonderful music festival in Athens, Ohio, home of Ohio University.  The festival was great – smallish, laid back, no drunken Lollapolloza-style idiots, lots of different music.

The town is a great college town: picturesque scenery, small downtownish college town (like a small scale Madison) and modern educational facilities.  Apparently the school has bee

n known for a long time as a top party school, with maybe a mid-tier academic reputation (certain majors are more respected, as with every school.)   I’ve read that the acceptance rate is 73% so I figured it could make a good backup school for my son someday as I really liked the vibe of the town.

Out of state tuition with room an board:  $32K

In-state: $23K

Ouch!  I honestly don’t understand the pricing structure of

colleges these days.  It feels so out of control.  U of I isn’t much more than this school but it’s much more difficult to get into and the reputation is fairly better I believe.   Of course it’s also depressing to think about how much we have to save for this, assuming we pay for my son’s entire undergrad efforts.

On another college topic, I saw this NYT article last week about top essays for college, a topic we’ve discussed before.  I haven’t read them yet, but this article publishes some essays that really caught the eye of the admissions folks.

If you don’t read the article, here is an insightful excerpt:

June 2, 2015 at 10:24 pm 211 comments

What’s New – Me and BBB

Hi there.  Just a few updates on me and CPS.

Thanks to everyone who asked about my mom or shared their own experiences.  She is back home (after experiencing a cerebral abscess (aka brain infection)) that left her with limited mobility and some limit to mental functioning.  She’s coming back slowing.  I guess older brains take longer to heal, but there are some good signs.  I have a caretaker nearly all the time, and luckily happened upon a good lady who takes care of her during the day, who also is a manic cleaning lady, so my house has never been more immaculate or my bedding as frequently washed.

In tech news, you will no longer see “sent from my Blackberry” at the end of all my comments, as I have now officially switched to an iPhone.  I also officially hate typing on it so I’m trying to get back into the swing of things with commenting and figuring out how best to use WordPress on the iPhone.  I now understand why you have complained about the posts with 1000+ comments.  The scrolling is a major drag, so I will take that into account.   I had been responding to comments via email which was pretty easy.

Some Chicago news, if you didn’t notice, the CPS District 299 blog has been retired, as the host, Alex, has been living outside the city for many years now.

And finally, speaking of “living outside the city,” I figured we can discuss Barbara Byrd Bennet for a bit.

I see in a Trib editorial that the mayor gave only a 2 sentence announcement on Sunday night about her resignation.  The Trib is calling on more accountability on the part of Rahm as to how the SUPES no-bid contract got approved.


“The mayor owes everyone a beginning-to-end explanation of how this contract was cooked up and passed. Because it was his CEO. It is his school board. And it is his scandal.”

Any thoughts?

June 1, 2015 at 8:54 pm 42 comments

2015 SEES GIFTED and CLASSICAL Elem Thread


Share scores, questions, and knowledge here about gifted and classical programs.

And remember, the process takes some time to work through the lists.


Please post:




Favorite childhood pet (just kidding, I hate those security questions)

March 19, 2015 at 8:34 am 1,275 comments



Post news about entry into AC and International Gifted Program here.

Please include:




For those who aren’t familiar with the Intl gifted programs, some info from CPS:

International Gifted Program
International Gifted Programs are offered at the following schools:
615 W. Kemper Pl.
24 W. Walton St.

The International Gifted Program is designed for students in grades 6-8. The program includes intensive study of English, French, social studies, laboratory science, mathematics, technology, arts, physical education, library science, and advanced research. The International Gifted Program is designed to allow intellectually able students to be schooled in their least restrictive environment and to mature at an accelerated pace.

The International Gifted Program is committed to cultivating independent and competent students who are well prepared for the most intensive high schools and IB Diploma Programs.

March 19, 2015 at 8:25 am 425 comments

2015 NEIGHBORHOOD and MAGNET Elementary School Thread

A shout out to Nettelshorst who got a lot of the neighborhool school stuff rolling

A shout out to Nettelshorst who got a lot of the neighborhool school stuff rolling

Post your news, questions, opinions here about Neighborhood and Magnet elementary schools.

If you post about your letter/status, please include:


Waiting list #

Tier (if applicable)

And remember, this process goes on for a lonnnng time as schools move down the wait list.  Patience is a virtue, as hard as it may be.

March 19, 2015 at 8:09 am 1,231 comments

CPS School Board: To elect or appoint?


A quick search this morning on our school board led me to this article which I think summarizes the situation nicely and in an unbiased way and includes some quotes from some professors at DePaul.  Share your opinion in the comments section.

by The DePaulia


The DePaulia writes:

“The board is responsible for the finances, governing, and organization of CPS. So, the members of the board of education have profound impact on the policies and direction of CPS.

William Sampson, DePaul Chairman of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences said electing board members does not guarantee that the public’s values will be represented accurately.

“There is no assurance that board members will know anything about education or finance,” Sampson said. “Since the mayor will be held accountable for school performance, he or she will want to control the education process for which he or she is held accountable.””

““Elected boards, just as appointed boards, require a broad range of skilled individuals to be successful,” Horace Hall, a DePaul Educational Policy and Research Studies professor, said. “

The PROS of an elected school board:

“Elected school boards have their advantages.

“One of the major advantages of an elected school board is that it can bring all citizens closer to issues surrounding public education and criticality voice our needs and concerns,” Hall said. “This ideally breeds civic engagement and support.” “


“The main issue seems to be the balance between keeping the community’s concerns and involvement at the forefront of educational policy while simultaneously ensuring that the board has diverse and qualified members.”

March 6, 2015 at 9:43 am 98 comments

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