Kindergarten – Half vs Full Day at our school

June 13, 2010 at 5:17 pm 68 comments

Just so people can see what’s going on in the world of CPS, the school my son attends is offering half-day Kindergarten for free and asking parents to pay for full day.  There are 2 neighborhood classes and one gifted class and the half day is offered as an all-or-nothing deal, which I think makes sense.  Yes, I know that CPS *may* be paying for full day K for the gifted program (and who really knows for sure?)  But I think it’s only fair to make it equal.  Both programs bring resources to the school that benefit each other.

Unfortunately, the timeframe in which to raise the money for full day was reallly short.  In the past, CPS would sometimes let the parents pledge the money and they could raise it by the Fall.  If they didn’t get it, CPS would take the position away.  But in the current economy, it appears that CPS wants that cold cash in hand.  Now.  You want full day Kindergarten, you pay now people!

Our school needed to raise $125K within a few weeks.  By June 15th.  As of now, they still need $45K.  I ain’t lookin pretty.  I don’t know if some people are holding out to see if the money is really needed?  If they can get away without paying?  If 45 families will be willing to put in an extra $1000 each to make it happen?

Obviously the difficulty is that now everyone can or will or wants to pay, so the bill can end up being pretty high.  This also makes it weird for letting in people from outside the neighborhood.  You can’t REQUIRE them to pay, but who wants to let in outside freeloaders?  (Eek, I sound like the state of Arizona — but it seems to make sense here!)  I’m thinking 3 classes would be about 80 kids so if everyone paid, that would be about $1600 per family.  I think they asked for $2000 per family, which means that only about half the families have paid.  Or some paid less.

Such a weird situation.  I’m curious to see what happens.

UPDATE: They’ve done it!  Hit the deadline just $2K short of the required.  Hopefully some out-of-district family can buy their way in and make up the difference (just kidding.)  But the school has approved full day K.  That was an impressive effort.  That will need to be repeated again next year.  Sigh.

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Entry filed under: Kindergarten.

The Tiers and Lotteries Got a school problem? Call the Problem Solver!

68 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Local Mom  |  June 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Wow. $2000 is a LOT of money to ask a family for up front! I hope you get it, but I also hope families will not be turned away for not being able to pay. Isn’t there some way for families to pay by the week?

  • 2. Hawthorne mom  |  June 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I think it is totally unfair for CPS, who KNEW this was coming months and months ago, to now put a 3-4 week time crunch on parents. I mean seriously, who just has 2K laying around? I understand that they are afraid parents will pledge the money and then won’t actually give it, putting the teaching position in jeopardy mid-year. But really, everyone could see last fall this was going to be an issue. Why CPS can’t figure out what it is doing a few months in advance is beyond me.

    Wouldn’t 3 K classes be more like 105 kids? (35 per room)

  • 3. Coonley mom  |  June 14, 2010 at 7:35 am

    The thing that gets me is I see no possible way how they can teach the Options Kids 1st grade work in 2 1/2 hours. I know I’m in the minority b/c I think that at least they should have full day kindergarten. Also, isn’t kindergarten more important that Spanish or new equipment for the science lab? ? I’m hoping they get the missing funds somewhere-

  • 4. Another mommy  |  June 14, 2010 at 8:15 am

    What if your school doesn’t raise the 45K? Will the school refund the money back to the families who contributed? CPS is so sneaky, I bet they find a way to keep your money.

    @Hawthorne mom- My son attends Hawthorne, too (going to 1st grade). What is the situation at our school in regards to full day kindergarten? Just asking because I have a almost 3yr old who (hopefully) be attending in 2 yrs. I might have to start saving my money now! lol

  • 5. Hawthorne mom  |  June 14, 2010 at 9:54 am

    @another mommy,
    As far as I know, we are set for full day for the fall, with no contributions required from K parents. The principal has not made a direct announcement about it, but that is the rumor I have heard from more than one parent. Plus, since it is already mid-June, it is too late to ask for contributions now. (though I wouldn’t be totally shocked)
    From what I have heard, the idea was that whatever money we are short, the PTA will just add another fundraiser.
    I have also heard rumors, and granted, they are just rumors, that some schools are being treated differently than others (read *better*) and not experiencing the cuts to the same proportion. The rumors are that hawthorne, along with some other magnets, are not going to feel cuts as deeply. Who knows how true those rumors are. If they are true, it is really unfair to the schools who are losing so many staff. But since I have seen with my own eyes the unfair treatment of schools in the system for years, it wouldn’t be beyond possibility that some schools are seeing deep cuts while others see only superficial ones.
    All that to say, who knows what will happen next year or the year after. I don’t expect the state’s financial situation to get better anytime in the next 3-5 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if we all have to kick in some serious money over the next few years.

  • 6. classical mom  |  June 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

    As I understand it, technically paying $2G for full-day K is a choice, right? So if you opt not to pay, your child could still get the service? If so parents should revolt, and refuse to pay. If we start paying for full-day K, we’re never going to have it for free again in the city, which sets a terrible precedent.
    Also, while I’m of the mindset that Ron Huberman earns every penny he’s paid, I know from personal experience that the mayor sends six-figure-earning hacks with clout to CPS when they can no longer work at the city. And there’s fat in the police and firefighters budget the mayor won’t cut, because he’s likely running for re election.

  • 7. Missing the real point  |  June 14, 2010 at 10:58 am

    From district299.com:
    Chicago Board of Education Calls Special Board Meeting Regarding Budget Deficit Resulting From State Cuts in Education Funding and Delayed Payments

    Chicago Board of Education members at a special board meeting Tuesday will consider several resolutions aimed at confronting the District’s fiscal crisis that has resulted from significant cuts in state funding and delayed payments of more than $400 million in state aid.

    Board members will meet at 9:30 a.m. in their fifth floor chambers, 125 S. Clark. Public participation will be at approximately 10 a.m. for 30 minutes with comments restricted to matters on the agenda.

    Board members will consider the following:

    n A resolution delegating authority to the Chief Executive Officer to honorably terminate/discharge tenured and probationary appointed teachers who are displaced as a result of cost-saving measures being implemented to address financial necessities for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. The resolution includes terminations/dismissals that result from increases in class size.

    n A Board report giving the Chief Executive Officer the authority to increase class sizes up to 35 students per class if necessary.

    n Resolutions concerning the Board’s ability to fund contractual wage and salary increases with CPS union members in fiscal year 2011.

    n A resolution authorizing establishment of a line of credit of up to $800 million due to uncertainty in state funding as well as current and potential further delays in state payments.

  • 8. Christine  |  June 14, 2010 at 11:19 am

    We had a playdate with my son’s friend from preschool over the weekend. Their neighborhood school is Bell. We were talking to other Bell parents on the playground and were told they are being asked to pay $3200. They need to raise about $162K in total or so I believe she said. We live in the south loop neighborhood and I’m hearing from some they want 2500 others said they want 2000. CPSobsessed mentioned her school wants 2000.

    Basically what I’m taking from all of this is there’s a wide swing in what schools are requiring. I think regardless of what they want this year, the number will be even more next year as they figure out that the funds they raised weren’t really enough to combat the other areas in which they lost funding to support a K program because:
    – they don’t have as many low income kids attending their school anymore because the tiering wasn’t as effective as they thought it would so that extra money they usually get
    – parental and corporate contributions are down this year

    The 2 items above also impact funding at every grade. Which also I’m also starting to think we’ll probably be forking over significant monies for each of the years our kids are in public school, not as much as private school tuition but it certainly won’t be free.

  • 9. Christine  |  June 14, 2010 at 11:22 am

    @Classical Mom,
    People can have free “kindergarten” by not sending their child to school. Kindergarten, whether half day or full day isn’t a state requirement. School isn’t mandated until First Grade. While I’m not happy to be paying for it when my son does finally begin K in 2 years, I’m certainly not going to be paying what I currently pay for his PreK program.

  • 10. post above  |  June 14, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I posted the above agenda from a CBOE meeting to take place tomorrow. I believe the bigger issue here is class size more than half day K. Imagine half day K with either 35 kids or splits. When CPS means increase class size they mean do split classes. For my child’s smal school of 197 that means if you divide that number by 35 it means we are only suppose to have 5.6 teachers. Hopefully, CPS rounds up to 6. We have 7 classroom teachers (we only go to 6th grade) meaning we lose one of those teachers, which means there will be two splits at our school. More than likely it will be in the upper grades where the class sizes are smaller due to attrition and no one wanting to transfer there in the upper grades because we only go to 6th grade. We have stellar, rock star teachers but I don’t know if they will be able to overcome this travesty.

    Also, the resolution for teachers pay raises can be interpreted two ways. A) the board intends to fund the raises or B) this resolution will not be adopted then this will open the contract and allow for the possibility of a strike. We won’t know until after Tuesday’s emergency/special call meeting.

    This meeting is way bigger than tiers, acceptances and half day kindergarten. There is no way any CPS school, gifted, classical, magnet, neighborhood will be able to function properly. This is extremely scary and we ALL need to focus on this issue right now.

  • 11. NW Side Mom  |  June 14, 2010 at 11:49 am

    My understanding through the series of emails from the school PTO and LSC was that families of current students were also contributing, so there really is no way to tell how many of the incoming families have given their money. I know our class (Options K) has many families that have already given toward the $125,000 goal.

    On a separate note, I read that Edison’s funding was restored and the principal gave parents their money back. Anyone know how that happened?

  • 12. Christine  |  June 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    @Missing the real point, Class size can’t cure all. And studies point out that Japan and Korea havehttp://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/class-size-around-the-world/
    The above article points nicely summarizes the study by OECD. I think the real point is once class sizes go up, what is CPS going to do to help and educate the teachers and administrators on effective methods for teaching and controlling classes larger than what they may be accustomed. How will they help parents prepare their children for classes that size. Sure I’d like to see classes smaller but I’m not willing to outright declare that larger classes won’t work for my child or anyon elses, teachers,parents, administrators. I’m willing to try it and work to prepare my child for it.

  • 13. Christine  |  June 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    @Missing the real point, Class size can’t cure all. And studies point out that Japan and Korea have larger class sizes and outperform the US and other countries with smaller sizes. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/class-size-around-the-world/
    The above article points nicely summarizes the study by OECD. I think the real point is once class sizes go up, what is CPS going to do to help and educate the teachers and administrators on effective methods for teaching and controlling classes larger than what they may be accustomed. How will they help parents prepare their children for classes that size. Sure I’d like to see classes smaller but I’m not willing to outright declare that larger classes won’t work for my child or anyon elses, teachers,parents, administrators. I’m willing to try it and work to prepare my child for it.

  • 14. to Christine  |  June 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I too am willing and ready to work with my child if class sizes go to 35, however I would rather see 35 second graders in a room, NOT a 1st/2nd split or 2nd/3rd split with 35 students in the splits. Not only does a teacher have to manage a large class size, she/he may be teaching two grade levels. CPS already has one of the shortest school days, now if a teacher has to teach 2 grade levels that’s going to make the situation worse!

  • 15. RL Julia  |  June 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Given what I have heard from this blog, it does seem like some schools seem to be taking less of a cut than others in the budget game. I’d love to hear from people not associated with a GEAP school about the cuts their schools are talking about.

  • 16. twocents  |  June 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Regarding split classes: I grew up with them I loved it. The school would put the fast learning/accellerated students in with on level kids from the next grade. It was essentially like a classical program for the kids from the younger grade. One of my kids would love it being the younger kid in a class with older kids. The other one would love being the mentor for the younger kids. So, I guess I’m okay with splits if they are ‘split’ appropriately.

  • 17. to two cents  |  June 14, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    So are you saying you are OK with 35-37 children being in a room? I am not! Teachers will spend most of their day managing their classrooms instead of teaching. Theoretically, if it were 28 or less it could work, but have you talked to any teachers about your opinion?

  • 18. CPS teacher  |  June 14, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I work at a neighborhood school and six teachers were cut this year. On the other hand, my kids go to a magnet school and the only cuts they are facing are .5 art and library positions. It’s kind of hard to listen to them complain about it knowing what my school is facing.

  • 19. SEN  |  June 14, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    to RL Julia

    Our neighborhood school got 4 hour kindergarten last year for the first time. Next year it will go back to 2 1/2 hours and I have not heard otherwise (my 5 year old is registered there). She did 5 day a week 3 hour preschool last year and 2 1/2 hours will not be enough for her. She has a December birthday. I have a general question. I went to an LSC meeting at my neighborhood school and found some of the members nasty towards one another. Is this the norm? I could not stay or comment as my 1 1/2 year old was acting up.

  • 20. magnet school mom  |  June 14, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    My kid’s magnet school lost 3.5 positions. The K class for the fall will stay fulltime because last month we raised the most money ever at a fundraiser and the powers decided it was best for full day as opposed to half. They would have to deal with the consequences in 1st grade so why not fix it now. Now, the ones to take a hit are computer, library and a math tutor I believe. All the arts are staying intact (art, dance, music, drama).

  • 21. klem  |  June 14, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    @13 Christine: Your NYT graph indicates that no country averages 35 students a class, which is what CPS is facing. So I am not sure the reference to Korea and Japan is applicable here because neither country comes anywhere close to 35 as an average.

  • 22. Happy to be a non freeloading outsider  |  June 14, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Speaking as a parent of a sibling going into k I would be more than happy to pay the $2000 to have my child go to k where my daughter goes (she’s in your son’s class). We have even contributed $200 to the k fund just out of generosity without being accepted. My check is there if they accept my kid even if they’ve reached the goal.

  • 23. twocents  |  June 14, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Absolutely not okay with 35 per class…..that wasn’t part of my point. Don’t think it will happen. If it does, one of my kids will probably go back to private school. They other will stay in his guarded, limited class size SE school.

  • 24. polly c  |  June 14, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I’m wondering about the Montessori schools (Drummond, Suder, Mayer)….
    How does this affect them? I was shocked when a friend told me that there are not going to be ANY cuts at Mayer. I know they are pumping tons of money into Montessori classrooms. If other gifted/magnet schools are going to half-day, why are the Montessori schools able to get by without cutting any teachers? They have EIGHT early childhood classrooms with 3 to 5 year olds. Not that I’d wish cuts on any school, but what about equity? Why do I need to fork out 2000 plus for kindergarten and the Lincoln Parkers do not?

  • 25. to 2cents#23  |  June 14, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Huberman intends to adopt the 35 class size in all schools. It means all of us: AC, SE, gifted, classical, magnet and neighborhood schools! This is no joke and it is scary. Let’s hope he intends for the teachers to get their raises so there isn’t a strike! We will know after tomorrow’s board meeting if mainsteam news chooses to report it. There is no such thing as “guarded, limted class size”; it means classroom splits!

  • 26. Hawthorne mom  |  June 15, 2010 at 7:24 am

    @25, don’t be so sure. What Huberman says and what he does seem to be two totally different things. Some schools are not experiencing cuts, like Mayer mentioned above. If you read the recent Reader articles, Huberman says he is cutting central office staff to the bone, when in reality, he has replaced (this is factual and evidenced in the board’s own written records) those he let go with his own people. So, the hundreds of central office people laid off? Yes, but he then turned around and hired hundreds more.

    Personally, I don’t believe he is being honest about a whole boatload of items.

  • 27. Chicago Teacher  |  June 15, 2010 at 8:02 am

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to set a precedent and fund the full day of kindergarten. Check out the CPS Bulletin from last week and you will see that Huberman is still hiring administrative staff with salaries all in the six figures. The money is there people…it’s just not going to the schools. Millions of dollars are going to programs that don’t work, labs that are not used, equipment that is sitting in closets, etc. I, as I am sure many, many CPS teachers could tell you, see waste every day.

  • 28. Dad  |  June 15, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Don’t raise taxes to fund the schools, because what that really does is fund administrative waste and fraud. Contribute to your schools directly and hold them accountable.

  • 29. klem  |  June 15, 2010 at 10:37 am

    @24: I think at least some of those Montessori programs are granted funded–not by CPS.

    @26: Many schools have been able to raise money to offset the cuts. So while many schools appear not to have major cuts, the truth is that their CPS budget was cut too.

    I am not sure that all schools faced the same amount of cuts, but that may be partly because funding comes from different pots. Some of that money comes from the federal gov’t and is just distributed via CPS. But I do know that all schools have a lower budget to work with–some may be cutting assistants instead of teachers. But everyone is making cuts (or else they are getting a ton of outside funding.)

  • 30. coonleymom  |  June 15, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Helping to pay for K is very tricky, I understand why parents are willing to do it, but I do believe it will mean that from now on, CPS will ask parents to pay for this. Once they know parents will pay, what motivation do they have to cover the expense. My husband and I would pay for it, if we felt it was best for our son-but it is hard to do, knowing it can hurt many families down the road.
    Just some info to think about for parents that will have kids in K next year, remember to take a look at CICS.
    We have one son currently in the Coonley gifted program and we were going to try and get our other son into the neighborhood K program (we would contribute the 2k). However, we were lucky enough to get into the CICS program and after much research, visits and talks with friends who children go there-we are going to go ahead and put our 5 year old in CICS and deal with having two kids at two different schools. Some of this choice is very personal (his neighborhood friends will be going, which in Chicago can be pretty unique:) but most of it is the fact that they are offering what most gifted programs offer. The children are grouped into their skill level, so if they are accelerated in one or all subjects, they will learn at a higher level. If they need help in one or more subjects, they will get that help. These groups are constantly assessed and changed as needed-just like my son’s gifted program. Like gifted, all the teachers have masters. What is not going on at CICS is budget cuts! The teachers are non-union, different budget, so they are not increasing class size, or cutting classes. My son is getting assessed tomorrow, so they will start with groups the first day of school! We have neighbors that turned down Pritzker, Coonley, even Edison to make this school our neighborhood school. The parents already have children attending CICS and they believe that CICS is offering what these other programs offer, plus siblings get in! It is pretty exciting, so I encourage parents to look at this school next year!

  • 31. LR  |  June 15, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Hmmm….I don’t know what to say. My son has one more year of pre-k and then we were going to send him to Coonley for K. I don’t know now. At least at our private school I can finance the tuition. It’s double the cost of Coonley (about 4600 per year), but it’s full day, 7:50am to 2:50pm. And he will definitely have art, music, gym and all that stuff. And the class size caps at 25.

    I understand why some have not contributed. First and foremost, many people can’t afford it. Second, as some pointed out above, it sets a bad precedent. Third, asking people to contribute assumes everyone cares about full day K. Personally, if I am prioritizing, keeping class sizes low is way more important. And for me, keeping art, gym, music, and foreign language is also more important because it affects EVERYONE in the school, and will have way more of a long-term effect on my child than whether he goes to half or full day Kindergarten. If all of the above programs are saved first, then I guess it’s ok; but, I thought many of them were cut at Coonley, right???

  • 32. anonymous  |  June 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Two things bother me most. First of all — everything being up to the last minute. I mean, if they could ask parents to pay quarterly or monthly, then things would be MUCH easier for parents to handle than giving $2,000 outright at the last minute. We certainly couldn’t do that. But their lack of planning puts parents in a bind — especially working parents who need to find childcare options that most schools don’t offer.

    The second is AGAIN, lack of transparency. I do NOT think things are at all equal, and I think all parents would be angry (even those with all the “extras” at magnet/SE schools) if we were to truly see all the discrepancies. AFter all, our money all goes to the same place.

    However, our neighborhood school only has half-day, anyway, and I’m coming to be okay with it, honestly. I have seen the full-day schedule at a local magnet during the tour. Half the day was lining up for bathroom breaks, recess, and snack time. So, I really don’t think my non-GEAP child will be missing anything.

    And with the extra $$, I’m enrolling my child in other programs during the rest of the day — including foreign language, science, music lessons and other things he loves.

    Maybe I’m trying to make the best out of a bad situation? I don’t know. But I only had half-day kindergarten growing up. I think I turned out okay. The difference is my mom didn’t work, so she could be home with us. A lot of parents don’t have that kind of luxury.

  • 33. also obsessed  |  June 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    @#30
    what does CICS stand for, and is it private or charter?

  • 34. Another Coonley Parent  |  June 15, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Hmmm, interesting discussions. I am also a Coonley parent and have been following this very closely. To me, this is a completely different issue than class size but I think they’re getting intertwined (obviously also a huge concern for me and everyone else). My family chose to contribute very generously to this even though I do not have an incoming Kgartener for next year only because I feel so strongly that these children deserve the opportunity to have a full day experience. 2 1/2 hours just isn’t adequate and I can’t imagine the different experience and growth my child would have had without the full day. This is something I wish for every child in our Coonley community so chose to contribute. I understand the various positions as it relates to CPS inefficiencies, precedents, other program cuts, etc. but ultimately for me, it came down to those incoming children and to no small extent not wanting to lose talented teachers. I contributed for those families that would not be able to financially. I did not contribute for those families who have chosen not to on principle or chose to wait to see if others would pony up first. I am curious to know if those families who did not contribute on principle will refrain from sending their children to the full day if we’re lucky enough to secure the funds, for which their kids will be able to benefit? I hate to be so cynical with that question but have been really been disappointed with how this has played out since I don’t get the sense they’re not contributing because of the financial burden alone.

    No, the timing is/was not easy, and yes the potential class sizes are outrageous, but I believe our school has been very open and honest about how we have come to find ourselves in this position, as well as the timing, class sizes, how they prioritize other funding decisions, etc. and are doing the absolute best in these horribly challenging times. I do not blindly agree with everything they do but in this case, I support their decisions, applaud their efforts and feel fortunate we even have the opportunity to at least try and determine our own fate on the half vs full day issue (as painful as it is to swallow that we’re even faced with this).

    So, I donated for the kids and just tell myself these are taxes that actually go where I for once want them to directly go. I’ll worry about the precedent this sets next year after I secure back some aspect of the education that these kids deserve. And I’ll do it even for those families that don’t want to contribute on principle or that are hoping others will first so they don’t have to.

  • 35. coonleymom  |  June 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    #33
    CICS- Chicago International Charter School. My 5 year old will attend the Irving Park Campus. It is a long day 8-3:30, (longer than my 6 year old), but I am glad to know he is going to get a full day of school;) We went in today to register and so they went ahead and did his assessment-it was great to meet staff and teachers. The assistant director sat with him afterward and talked about school, teachers, etc. She probably spent 20 minutes with us. It was a wonderful transition for him as he was nervous to go to his new school. So far, I am very impressed! Although it will not be easy to have two kids at two different schools, I feel very lucky that we like both schools and think each one is a good match for two sons. Good luck everyone that is still out there deciding!

  • 36. rvmom  |  June 15, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Went to the Coonley LSC meeting tonight and they are just short of the $125,000 goal, but are so optimistic that they will raise the last $2,500 that they are declaring full-day K for all classes for next year. Yeah!

    Though I agree that once parents start paying for K, CPS has little incentive to pony up the money in the future, I’m not sure it changes much because they have little incentive now. As other posters have mentioned, the state of Illinois does not require K. Most northshore districts including Winnetka, Northbrook, Lake Forest, and Kenilworth only offer 1/2 day programs. The suburban district I teach in does have full-day K, but only because voters passed a property tax increase a few years ago. That seems pretty unlikely in the city.

    The benefits of a full-day program seem clear to me and as a new family to Coonley, we were really excited to see how quickly the community rallied to meet this need. One woman even held up an envelope stuffed with change that a child earned from a lemonade stand.

    However, these kinds of efforts are just bandaids to cover the bigger problem of school funding throughout the city and state. Visit http://ilraiseyourhand.org/ to read about a petition and upcoming rally in case you’re interested.

  • 37. parent  |  June 15, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    @25 Have you read budgets, looked at the teacher organization lists for next year and School Improvement Plans for the various schools you mention? (Magnet, Montessori, Gifted, and Classical) If so I think you would see not all schools will have 35 in a classroom, half day kinder, and loss of teaching assistants. Also you will see other programming funded through the Office of Academic Enhancement that neighborhood schools do not have. Yes some of these school have raised funds however it is not enough to limit class size and provide full day pre-k and kinder.

    There are obvious differences in funding, does anyone know where to find up to date school improvement plans and budgets for next year? Having this information would help clear up some of the “rumors” people think are going around.

    There has been a lot of discussion about teacher raises and teachers being cut. There has also been much discussion about parents paying for full day kinder and raising money for their schools. Is the answer to the budgetary problems to ask parents to fundraise and/or pay for programming and ask teachers to give up a raise to save other teachers? CPS is huge and inefficiently run, and somehow now it becomes the responsibility of parents and teachers to correct the issues! The more that is given the more that will be taken and ultimately WASTED!!

  • 38. Hawthorne mom  |  June 15, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Huberman has publicly stated (today I think) that he will not ask teachers to give up their raises. This means that class sizes are slated to definitely go up and many teaching positions to be lost. Apparently the thought process is this: if the city says it can’t pay the raises, then teachers can strike over a broken contract. If the city raises class sizes, teachers cannot strike over class size. So then, teachers look bad and the city can use a PR campaign against us. This is an election year and a teacher strike would be the death blow to an already hurting Daley.

  • 39. teacher  |  June 15, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    If the city says it can’t pay the raises shouldn’t they have to show this? Show the budget and the payroll.

    I am confused that the contract can be broken over raises but not 30 day notice to losing job, teacher reassignment pool, and class size. Why can parts of the contract be broken and not others when determining what officially opens the contract?

    Yes city is already using PR campaign against teachers. Tons of press about class size and raise nothing about laying off of teachers with tenure and not having reassigned teacher pool, now that is in the open so will probably use the raise as bargaining tool.

  • 40. 2ndtimearound  |  June 16, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Coonley raised enough money for full day kindergarten for next year.

  • 41. Ugh!  |  June 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    First of all, congrats to Coonley! That’s awesome that your families were able to fill the CPS funding void for full day K.

    At our school, we were also trying to raise a substantial amount of money to avert cost cutting measures, Last I heard, we had only raised 1/3 of the needed $. What’s particularly disappointing to me is that I know that I personally donated over 10% of total we have collected to date. There are close to 200 families in the school. I can’t help but feel discouraged that other parents aren’t willing (or perhaps, able) to help.

    Which brings me to my question, does anyone know what the average response rate is for these types of CPS school fundraisers? Our principal was hoping for a 90% response rate, which I realize is ridiculously high. When we plan for these requests in the future, would we be better using a 50% response rate? Or lower? Thanks!

  • 42. cpsobsessed  |  June 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I still can’t believe they raised the money. I have no idea how many contributed, but hopefully even people who didn’t have the 2K were able to pitch in something.
    I get annoyed by people who can afford it but say “well we pay our taxes so we’re not gonna pay!” (not that I heard that, just have heard it in the past.) Well, in Illinois, those taxes you pay just aren’t covering it and ultimately get more than a barebones education, we’re going to have to reach into our pocketbooks.

    Keep in mind, plenty of people with kids entering K next year had the chance for free PreK for the past year or two. I don’t think it’s that much to ask for the donation one time.

    @Ugh, as for the average response rate, just based on my marketing background, I’m going to say that the response rate is NEVER 90% for anything in a public school. Especially when money is involved. When my neighborhood school was trying to plan for a school fee, I estimated maybe 50% would pay and I felt that was ambitious. You DO need to take into account the neighborhood demos, of course. Coonley is surrounded by million dollar homes (well, they were ONCE million dollar homes.) Schools like Alcott and Blaine with similarly good demos seem to have had good response rates. But I know some of the neighborhood schools with more mixed demos have a much harder time. It just varies a lot. Some are better at rallying for money, others better at rallying for volunteers or support or general enthusiasm.
    I like the approach at our neighborhood school which (I think) was to offer a couple levels of support based on free or reduced lunch and people could pay monthly (which isn’t happening any more.) Paying $100 a month isn’t as bad as shelling out $900 at once.

  • 43. kg  |  June 17, 2010 at 10:55 am

    In general, I’m in favor of whole-day K, if for no other reason than I think if some CPS kids have access, then all kids should have this same “advantage”. On the other hand, half-day K was NEVER the norm everywhere when I started K (way back in ’72) and I don’t recall feeling like we were “deprived” or held back in any way. Lincoln Elementary, one of the best CPS elementary schools (and one of the best in the STATE) has never had whole-day K. because of space issues and the kids there do great on ISAT tests (15th in the state accoding to the Sun Times’ or Trib’s ‘Top 100 Elementary Schools’ list). I know from experience living in France and having a close relative from Finland (where the K-12 education system is widely believed by many to be a model for the rest of the world) that full day classes for for 5-year-old is not necessary for kids to end up doing well. In fact, kids in Finland usually don’t even start school full-time until they’re 6 or 7, but still manage to outscore the rest of the world on skills tests, according to the OECD (google Finland and education and you’ll see articles about this). In fact lots of kids in Finland (if not most) don’t even go to K (plus, they watch a lot of TV, spend lots of time playing on computers, don’t get much if any homework –things that seem counter to what any ‘good parent’ wants to hear) but their classroom teaching methods are so effective (people come from all over the world to observe and learn) that Finnish kids end up being really smart. My point is, don’t panic over half-day K in terms of kids’ academic development, but I understand how much it helps out working parents and how “inadequate” an education can feel when other kids are going to K full-time.

  • 44. Hawthorne mom  |  June 17, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I think for most middle and upper income families who have books in the home and other factors will do absolutely FINE without full day kindergarten. My concern is for the kids who are living below the poverty line, with no books in the home, 8 family members living in a one bedroom or studio apartment, living on public aid, some whose second language is English. Those children not only need full day kindergarten, they need an 8 hour a day school day with small class sizes, preschool through 8th grade. The amount of vocabulary a middle income child enters K with is something like 4-5x the amount of a lower income child. This alone is a huge factor in the lack of reading comprehension skills in lower income kids.
    I am not worried about my kids academically or socially if we were to go to half day K. (though I do worry about the logistics of it) But reality is that only a tiny, tiny percentage of kids in the city system live above the poverty line. I am thinking of the 80-90% of CPS who will suffer from this. This and the very large class sizes that may or may not actually happen.
    I taught in a west side Kindergarten class and the gaps in knowledge were massive. (kids who didn’t know their FIRST NAME when called upon, kids who didn’t know shapes, colors, who had never held a book before and on and on) I can tell you for those kids, even with full day K, it was a struggle to prepare them for 1st grade.

  • 45. SouthLoopMom  |  June 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    We just finished all-day KDG at the South Loop School with 37 children in our class — no student teacher, and aide for 1.5 hrs.

    We arrived not reading (2 yrs play-based PKDG – total waste). And, after all of my worrying, this child is coming out reading beautifully and spelling like a champ. They also moved well beyond the math program taught in past years.

    Yes, the room was hectic, but he thrived and is excited for first grade. “Please don’t change my school, I love it here.”

  • 46. klem  |  June 17, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    @41: We are seeing the same thing at our school. About 25 to 30 percent of the families are active at the school–this is in terms of fundraising, events, volunteering, etc. We see the same people over and over again. The rest? Not sure what is going with them.

  • 47. Hawthorne mom  |  June 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    South Loop mom,
    I am curious why you think PK was a waste because it was play based? Is it your belief that children must be reading before Kindergarten?

  • 48. Christine  |  June 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    In defense of play-based preschools, I doubt it was a total waste. Even if your child wasn’t reading fluently by the end, I bet he mastered lots of important literacy skills. Not to mention the social-emotional learning that happens in PreK which is almost more important than any measurable academic skill.

  • 49. South Side  |  June 18, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    I can see that the north side parents have the means to pay for full day kdg. What is unfair and should be looked at as a form of discrimination- what about the south side full day kgd programs that were cut and populations of 50+% on free-reduced lunch. Who is raising 60K for these schools and students? These are public schools. This type of disparity in CPS Kdg classrooms across the city should have parents up in arms . I think that the lawyers should have a look at this. All of this happening one year after the Deseg oversight is gone. Is there anyone who would rally to take this issue to the courts?

  • 50. Paul  |  June 19, 2010 at 7:33 am

    For schools with high levels of poverty, I’m not sure I understand how their full-day Kindergarten will get cut. My understanding is that every school gets about $770 per child in supplemental state funding, and from $400 to $1,000 per child in supplemental federal funding. The higher the concentration of poverty at the school, the higher per-child amount in federal funding. So, if a school has nearly 100% poverty at the school, they should receive something close to $1,700 per child in supplemental funding. That should provide another teacher for every 35 kids or so at the school on top of the quota teacher the school would receive for those 35 students. The northside schools with relatively low concentrations of poverty don’t receive this level of supplemental funding and so they must fundraise to pay for it. But, I’m not sure why the school couldn’t use their supplemental funding to pay for full-day Kindergarten.

  • 51. to Paul  |  June 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    The southside schools may not have been able to fund the .5 K position because they were busy using their funds to pay for the teachers who were cut. I know of a southside school that the principal paid for two teacher positions so she would only lose one teacher. She was out of money and was not able to fund the other half of K. If she would have also funded the other half of the K position she would not have had money for other programs, books, etc. that are vital to the school.

  • 52. interestedparent  |  June 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Schools qualify for Title 1 federal funding based on the income levels of students. A school with a high percent of low income students results in federal money that flows to CPS. This money goes to the Board of Ed and they decide where to spend it. It does not automatically go to the school. I work in a school with many low income students. CPS does not give us a penny of the federal dollars that they receive for our kids (the amount they get is $400,000 for my school); they tell us we do too well and don’t need it. This is a really frustrating reality in CPS and yet another example of funding inequities/irregularities. The need for transparency in all aspects of the budget is HUGE!

  • 53. Hawthorne mom  |  June 19, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    #52,
    I am not surprised by what you said since I have seen stuff like this happen in schools many, many times and at the same time, omg! Isn’t that a violation of federal law? In fact, practically every single thing I have read about how title 1 funds are required to be used and how they actually get used are in violation of federal law.
    It is almost unbelievable how lower income schools on the south and west sides get screwed in ways that would appall most people if they really knew what was happening on multiple layers.

  • 54. mtg with mr Huberman  |  June 19, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    HEY, anybody else at the Nettlehorst fundraising meeting for all cps schools today? Mr. Huberman stopped in and addressed the group and answered questions. Essentially, the 1/2 day kdg and large class size is in the worst-case-scenario picture (which is unlikely). I felt he was somewhat positive and not so doomsday. It was a fabulous event. Hope others got to be there.

  • 55. SouthLoopMom  |  June 20, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Hi Hawthorne Mom,
    No the program was changed to play-based as we entered the school and I never considered it wouldn’t be wonderful – lol. As it turned out, it was simply not a great match for my active, competitive child. This particular play-based class was fabulous for girls. For example, if there were 4 center tables, 3 were fine motor crafts and only #4 appealed to the boys. The 10 boys would be finished in about 7 mins w/the single table and opt for racing cars, etc. They rarely held a pencil, never worked on sight words, etc. When we hit SLS for KDG, I was shocked to find all the neighborhood kids from their PKG program could read. After a few weeks we were up and running. He LOVED reading, LOVED math, LOVED staying “on green,” LOVED bringing home his published stories. Had the PKDG program offered him the chance to shine, we would have continued at that school. ***Now — unofficially, I have been told that the play-based curriculum has been criticized (including grades 1-3) by Northwestern Univ. as not being rigorous enought. That the students sent for a gifted evaluation were not even close to the participants from other schools. Shocking when you consider the tuition is approaching $15k.***

  • 56. SouthLoopMom  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Christine – “In theory” I’m a huge fan of play-based PKDG. But in reality, it did not fit this child’s personality or learning style.

    “Even if your child wasn’t reading fluently by the end, I bet he mastered lots of important literacy skills.”

    There was NO reading at the end of 2 yrs of play-based PKDG at ___. Zip. Zero. Of course, if you are in a room with 20 kids for the entire day you learn to get along, transition, share, etc. There was also no writing — only their names on craft projects. No practicing letters, no journaling, nada.

  • 57. Dad  |  June 22, 2010 at 9:01 am

    @SouthLoopMom: I was wondering who at Northwestern is criticizing play-based curricula. Was it someone at the Center for Talent Development? Was the criticism based on his/her experience testing kids for the CTD programs?
    I didn’t even know that play-based curricula were used beyond kindergarten!

  • 58. a dad  |  June 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    My son went to play-based PreK for 2 years and has attended CTD since he was 4. Honestly I don’t know how play-based would affect the test results since they test them on aptitude for reasoning, etc. at that age. Not something you prep for. I guess it could make a difference for older grades.

  • 59. KCK  |  June 22, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Agree with @58. My DC also went to a 1/2 day play-based Pre-K for 2 years and he got accepted to a classical school in the 1st round.

  • 60. SouthLoopMom  |  June 22, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    #57-59 – From the off-the-record conversation with an excellent source), I don’t think it was a criticism of all play-based programs — it was directed at this particular school — whose students in the lower grades were not testing for a gifted program(looks ilke the CTD description) at NU anywhere near where their peers from other schools across the area.

  • 61. Hawthorne mom  |  June 22, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I honestly don’t really see how a school affects how a very young child tests on the gifted test at CTD or anywhere else. Kids are either gifted or they are not. Perhaps that particular school just had an unusually large group of kids, randomly, who weren’t testing as gifted.
    I do know on the CTD test, they do two separate tests. One is for achievement (like a classical test, they test for reading and math) the other is for IQ, which is more like the cps gifted test. I can see how a child might score lower on the achievement portion (which is straight reading and math) and how that might be affected by a school, but IQ can’t really be taught.
    Also, as someone who works at CTD, I am really annoyed that any staff member there would be sharing how kids from different schools are doing, even if it is in a general kind of way. That is so unprofessional and I am not sure if I think that is something that should be repeated, even on a semi-anonymous blog. It is breaking confidentiality.

  • 62. Hawthorne mom  |  June 22, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    So, thinking through this a little more, I guess there isn’t really any problem with South Loop mom repeating what she was told especially since the name of the school wasn’t given. Still, I don’t think anyone at CTD should be saying what they said. For me, the biggest issue is confidentiality and no staff member of an educational institution should be giving parents ANY information on how a student does unless he/she is the parent of that student–and should not be giving any information on how a school’s students perform. To me, that is a fire-able offense.

  • 63. SouthLoopMom  |  June 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Okay, I need to back it up – I can’t even definitively say it was the CTD. I doubt that any confiidentiality rules were broken. It seemed a compilation of events or possibly citing a professional, fee-based review of the curriculum? (Also, comparison of achievement scores among friends at other schools is very common.)

    Sorry – I regret posting that comment, I was caught up in the play-based discussion.

  • 64. gmom  |  June 23, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    We just declined a spot at a magnet that was requesting $1500 for k familiies, $200 or something for non-k families in order to raise $150k.

    I honestly don’t think they are going to raise the money, but even so, we decided the potential (I think it’s a real one – the budget doesn’t seem to be getting better) of 35 kids is not acceptable. We don’t agree with the precedent of paying for full-day k, but we also didn’t want to get in the school’s way as they look for potential parents willing to pay.

    It’s been a really sad spring as we think about CPS and what we can stomach in terms of declining resources (and quality?) in public schools.

    Kiddo is going to a NW side parochial school in the fall.

  • 65. nrrwestmom  |  June 23, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    “Listening” to all the different posts in this thread I couldn’t help but think of two very different comments.
    On the play based prek front… my oldest son attended a very sweet Waldork pre-k. Kids from the school easily got into Lennart, Skinner( the original), Lab etc..My second guy has been in an all day Montessori pk. He’s reading etc. but if I had the chance to do it again I’d rather have had a half day for him too.
    On another note. Our public school just finished a fundraiser to cover shortfalls in our funding. Thanks to the chairs it was a rousing success and we met our goal and then some. I think the participation numbers showed clearly a very mixed school economically which is one of the best things about the place. This mix means plenty of people just cannot contribute even in the hundreds of dollars. Their fifty buck donation is hard won.
    I hope the raise your hand coalition succeeds in turning the tide of tif funds back to every school in the city. I’m sure that many parents on cps obsessed share the sickening feeling I get that the schools we don’t hear about are being crippled by the CPS shortfall.
    I wish we could share our strength as CPS parents and raise all boats. That said I also don’t want to give up any of the great things as my son’s school in the process.

  • 66. nrrwestmom  |  June 23, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    oops that’s Waldorf.

  • 67. Emom  |  June 28, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    @nrrwestmom,
    Can you elaborate on how getting into Lab was “easy’? Are they parents affiliated? Thank you.

  • 68. nrwestmon  |  July 7, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    The parents of the kids that went to lab worked for the U of C but the kids did need to test to get in and had no problem keeping up once they were there.
    I think every city family has a struggle about how to get into a school that works for them. It just did not seem to be a negative for kids at the Waldorf prek to have ben in the slow lane.
    I’m not saying that play based programs work for everyone and since the one we went to closed it’s almost impossible to get into one of the two remaining Waldorf programs now. I guess the ante keeps going up for everyone!

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