A glimpse at schools in the outside world

July 27, 2009 at 10:52 pm 3 comments

I was visiting my sister this weekend in a nice Minnesota town.  She has a child who will be in 2nd grade and one starting Kindergarten.  Of course I had to get the lowdown on their local school to see what goes on outside of CPS (and outside of under-funded Illinois.)  From the stories I’ve heard so far, they’ve been very pleased with the school.

A few things I’ve noticed:

Parents have their choice of half- or full-day Kindergarten.  Full day costs $350 per month.  Parents were split half and half in their choices (but in the past more chose full-day… this year is likely a result of the economy.)

Kindergarten classes have about 20 kids per class (well, most of know the reality of this from friends in the suburbs.)

Parents are given a school calendar that has literally every upcoming date that they’ll need to know for the year — from days off to PTA meetings to family reading nights to fundraising events and fun fairs.   These are events that I’ve typically found out about around 48 hours before they occur (or as a friend of mine pointed out, if we even DO find out ahead of time.)  I expressed my awe of the calendar and my sister asked how I could even function without one.  Somehow we learn to adapt in CPS I suppose.

Schools have big, nice (tuition-based) before- and after-school programs, summer camps, and care on days off school.

Well, the really sad one: We drove by a big school and she pointed out that it’s where her kids will be going to high school one day.  It took my a few minutes to realize how nice it must be to know that when your child isn’t even in Kindergarten yet.  For pretty much all of us, that will be a complete unknown for years to come and a source of anxiety that most people in the outside world don’t need to worry about.

The one thing I’ll say in our favor is the school buildings.  I love the big old CPS school building with all their character and charm.  I love that many were built over 100 year ago and I like to think about what the schools must have been like back then (before electricity?)  I love the hardwood floors and the high ceilings and big windows and big staircases.  And school offices with big wooden counters and hallways with strange doors that are located 6 feet off the ground.  Huge boiler rooms that could be the setting of a horror film.

Many schools around the country were built during the Baby Boom when the style seemed to resemble a prison – big cement blocks, blandness everywhere.

So with our big classes, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants scheduling, high school insanity, and cool old buildings, I’d say that CPS wins hands-down in the “character” department.  I hope we can all continue to embrace it.

Entry filed under: Random topics.

Selective Enrollment High School Scandal? You knew this one was coming…. GEAP / Magnet Fair

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kdg is coming up  |  July 28, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Hmmm. asbestos. lead. mold. Character Schmaracter… I’m glad to have my son in a new bldg.

  • 2. Y  |  July 31, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Last year, Alcott in Lincoln Park asks KG families to contribute $1,800 to extend from half-day to full-day KG, which now sounds like a bargain compared to $3,150 to $3500.

    There are CPS schools with the resources to put together after-school and summer camp programs. Unfortunately, it isn’t available system-wide.

    New facilities are useful for labs and technology integration but I believe the bulk of the learning can be accomplished in a new or old building. I think the bigger key is having motivated and inspiring teachers and students who aren’t disruptive.

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  July 31, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    True about the toxic nature of those buildings. Kind of like my house. When we left our private preschool, I did shed some inner tears about leaving the fabulous new building. Truth is, I don’t think kids even notice that stuff.

    Re: Kindergarten pay, I was once up in Lake Forest and they charge something like $6K for their full day Kinder! The problem here is that some of the parents paying for the full-day in places like Alcott and Blaine are covering the costs of the families who can’t/won’t pay. They can’t MAKE you pay. In the suburban schools, they can offer both options to one grade of kids.

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