The “Do It Yourself” Post

February 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm 192 comments

Guys, I am drowning in a sea of work, house selling/buying, and a school project that makes me want to pull my hair out.  Bright side is that my son read Harriet the Spy and really liked it.  Interestingly, I discovered the use of the word “snarky” in the 1964 book.  So it doesn’t just apply to Internet comments, I guess.

A lot of people have written to the address asking me to post things.  I am leaving town tomorrow afternoon for the weekend to clear my head.  So PLEASE feel free to post anything you want (a school/neighborhood group, a service parents might be interested in, an event) in the comments section for others to see.

Please fear not – once the letters mail out we will get back to our regularly scheduled obsessing about things like the admissions system.   And less Rahm and Union talk which admittedly wear me down but let’s face it – are topical right now.  I prefer the geeky data stuff myself.

The Tier thing seems to be bubbling up in the media so I may post more on that before I leave.  I’m sure it will be a hot discussion topic once the High School letter mail out.  I’ve been told that education reporter Noreen Ahmed-Ullah at the Trib is looking to talk to parents who are applying to high school this year and have experienced a Tier change.  Not sure if that story is done yet, but you may want to contact her at:

Thanks to everyone who subscribed to Seth’s Wonk newsletter.  The more informed we all are, the better.

I appreciate all the feedback.  The snarky (circa 1964) comments keep me up at night.  Please be nice.

If you don’t hear from me over the weekend, I’ll be back, well-rested and ready to resume business as the COO (Chief Obsessing Officer) around here.

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192 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Don't Panic  |  February 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I was wondering if anyone knew the answer to this question: When multiple students have the same total points score for high school admission, how do they decide which student they look at first for slotting? If 2 kids have 885 out of 900 and choose the same school as their #1 choice, who do they select first? With so many taking the entrance exam, this must come up alot. Thanks to anyone who knows the answer.

  • 2. Emily Haite  |  February 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Rest well this weekend! For those of us that don’t have a 3 day weekend (even though the kids do….AGAIN!) Sharp As A Tack (a before/after school company that is in many Chicago area schools) recently opened a storefront. They are hosting a young authors (9-12) and young inventors (1-4) workshop. They will also be hosting Pulaski day and spring break events. For more information visit

  • 3. Anonymous  |  February 15, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    @ 1 — I was told that in case o a tie they look at the math score and see whose is higher.

  • 4. Mia  |  February 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Can someone remind me when the letters are supposed to be mailed? And is it just one letter, or, if you are admitted, do you also get one from the high school? And (finally) are both letters mailed at roughly the same time??? I can’t believe the wait is nearly over!

  • 5. anon  |  February 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    This might have changed because every so often at CPS things do,but my experience was, we received an acceptance letter first than a couple of days later a package from the high school my child was accepted into.I am not sure when the letters are supposed to be out this year but for the graduation class of 2010 they were late at least a week or maybe even two.

  • 6. Stephanie DeCaluwe  |  February 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    In the other post regarding tiers, it was mentioned that certain individuals were looking to improve Lakeview, Amundsen and Mather High Schools. I was wondering whether there are groups already organized to improve these neighborhood high schools (specifically Mather)and how would you go about contacting them.

  • 7. @1-don't panic  |  February 15, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Kids who get the same score are assigned random lottery numbers. So, for example if there are three 885s then those three names are placed in a lottery and there would be 885-1 then 885-2 and 885-3. So say the bottom cut off was 885 and they have only one slot then the 885-1 gets the spot. Not sure where I read about this though…

  • 8. HSObsessed  |  February 15, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    @6 – I don’t know about organized groups, but I would think one way to start might be to contact the PTO or “Friends of” group at the feeder elementary schools for each of the high schools to ask. I did an overlay map of some of the north side high schools over the elementary school boundaries, and the feeder neighborhood elementaries to Mather are: Rogers, Boone, Clinton, Jamieson, Peterson and Solomon.

    If anyone else is interested, the feeders for Amundsen are: Budlong, Chappell, McPherson, Waters, most of Coonley, and part of Ravenswood.

    For Lake View: Bell, Audubon, Hamilton, Blaine, Greeley, Jahn, Schneider (being phased out), Nettelhorst, most of Ravenswood, and part of Coonley.

  • 9. kate  |  February 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    stephanie – you might be interested in this group : Northside HS Initiative

    I’d be surprised if Mather had any organized group. I haven’t heard about Amundsen either. You might want to inquire with Senn HS’s IB program.

  • 10. Wondering  |  February 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Does anyone have an update on what is going on at South Loop Elementary RGC?

  • 11. James  |  February 16, 2012 at 12:01 am

    #1 —

    This is from the FAQ on the Office of Academic Enhancement’s web site. It is CPS-vague, but it makes clear that there isn’t a mini-lottery (as #7 claimed) and suggests that the general math score isn’t used as the sole tiebreaker (as #3 suggested). Exactly what is used isn’t clear, but it looks like portions of the test are designated as tiebreaker sections.

    “If two students end up with exactly the same total point score, how do you decide who gets an offer?

    As you might imagine, when testing so many students, we have many who achieve the same number of total points. To differentiate between students with these students, tiebreakers are used. These include areas such as the core percentile on the entrance exam, and the individual sections of the exam. This allows us to develop a rank order of students who wind up with the same number of total points.”

  • 12. cpsobsessed  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:23 am

    Just wanted to let people know about a tele-town call tonight (why can’t I get teletubbies out of my head after reading that?) Also, some info from CPS on why they (Rahm) want the longer day. I am told that CPS is providing a lot of support to schools who want help planning their longer days so I imagine that will be discussed a bit in the call for anyone calling with questions on how this will work.

    Dear CPS Parents/Guardians:

    Please join me for our next “tele-town hall” teleconference call scheduled for next Thursday, Feb. 16, 6:10 p.m. These tele-town halls are designed to help you, our CPS parents and guardians, understand the various initiatives that are taking place in your children’s schools and provide you the opportunity to ask questions of members of my staff and me. To access the call next Thursday, please call 1-877-229-8493 toll-free from any phone, and, when prompted, enter the access code 18528.

    The topic for Thursday’s tele-town hall is the Full School Day. Next fall all schools will have a 7.5 hour day with an additional 90 minutes of instruction at elementary schools and 46 minutes more of instruction at high schools, moving students from the shortest school day among the nation’s largest cities to bringing it on par with the national average for instructional time in both elementary school and high school.

    The rationale behind moving CPS schools to a full school day is clear.

    · Our elementary school students are receiving 22 percent less instructional time than their peers across the country – they have been shortchanged by our system for too many years and they are falling behind in core subjects like reading, math and science. We can’t expect the status quo to give them what they need.

    · With a high school graduation rate of only 57 percent and 7.9 percent of 11th graders testing college ready, our children cannot afford to wait another day to get the time they need to boost their achievement.

    · With all schools adopting the Common Core State Standards next year, all students – whether low or high performing – will be able to use the full day to better prepare for this rigorous new curriculum.

    And while some schools are higher performing than others there are NO schools in the district where more than 90 percent of 8th graders are meeting college readiness standards. We can’t wait another day to give our students the tools they need to succeed in the classroom.

    What that means:

    · Principals will no longer have to choose between reading, math or science because of limited time in the day to adequately teach each subject.

    · Additional time will create the opportunity to add more intervention to ensure students who are falling behind in math and reading get up to speed

    · Students will have time for lunch and recess every day to relax, re-boot and return to the classroom prepared to learn

    And for the first time ever, we’re providing elementary school principals with benchmarks on the amount of instructional time students should receive for core subjects like reading, math and science.

    As an example, beginning next year, every student in 3rd-5th grade will receive at least 120 minutes in reading and writing, 80 minutes in math, 60 minutes in science and 40 minutes in social studies. These guidelines are based on the expertise and experience of district content experts, an analysis of guidelines adopted by other districts, as well as the time needed for educational models that have a proven impact on student achievement.

    While the full 7.5 hour day will give schools the full time they need to boost student achievement, we know it is not a one-size-fits-all model. That’s why schools will have flexibility to redesign their day to meet the unique needs of their student body with input from community, parents, students, and school staff.

    The time itself is critical, but we know it’s how we use the additional time that will impact the success of all students – additional time must also be quality time.

    I hope you will be able to join me and other members of my team next week. Again, thank you in advance for engaging in this discussion and for the invaluable role you play in boosting the academic success of your children.


    JC Brizard
    Chicago Public Schools I CEO

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:31 am

    HSO, thanks for the info on the feeder schools. I think ideally, each school would have a group set up and then they can work together as part of the North Side High School initiative, sharing ideas and power and connections with CPS.

    One of the questions I have is the extent to which these schools want a Friends Of group to come in and save/flip/help/turnaround them. From what we hear, Amundsen is over capacity. LVHS seems to be full from out of neighborhood kids. I think there is a fine line to walk with a group of parents coming in with the “hi, we’re here!” line or even the “we’ll send out kids here if you make these changes.” both of which imply the school is not currently good enough. I know Dr. Werner at LVHS seems welcoming to the idea. No idea yet about Amundsen or Mather.

    At my neighborhood elem school about 5 years ago the principal sort of took us on begrudingly because enrollment was dwindling as the neighborhood gentrified. But honestly, he didn’t want us there and wanted the school to continue to focus on meeting the need of immigrant populations. The principal who replaced him was infinitely more welcoming and eager to balance out both goals of the school.

    But a first step is certainly to see what’s in place now. Once I move I’ll wander over to Amundsen to check it out, just out of curiosity.

  • 14. JKR  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:26 am

    FYI: The tier updates starting to be covered by news:

  • 15. another cps mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Rod Estvan comments again (over at Catalyst):

  • 16. OMG is Track E coming???  |  February 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    This article makes me wish I had private school money!
    First longer school day now Track E–I can’t take it!!!! Aaargh!!!

  • 17. Gwen  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Ugh – early in August? No!!!! Give me my August with my kids – you can have June – all of it !

  • 18. Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Gwen — I have younger kids, so obviously haven’t that much experience with “real” summers. Why do you care if it is June or August when the break occurs? Personally, I like the weather better in June. But apart from that, what is the difference you see?

  • 19. Lakeview Dad  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    FYI for anyone obsessing about catholic HS letters also; St. Ignatius letters are landing in mailboxes today.

  • 20. Gwen  |  February 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    (1) August tends to be the hottest month, and being in a school with inadequate air conditioning is not what I want for my child.
    (2) I say June instead of August, because one is the beginning of the school year and one the end. The end of the school year (June) is less stressful, field days, etc. and the kids are looking forward to the break, so the weather getting nicer as their school time is winding down just seems like a good fit to me, just as i think going back as those first cooler days hit in September seems right to me.

  • 21. Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Hear you, @20, just to counter — why not eliminate the month at the end, when kids are more likely not paying attention, than the month at the beginning when everyone is fresh? Seems like the kids would be more likely to learn. Especially in light of when the ISATs and other tests are conducted. Isn’t it all downhill after that? Gosh, hate to fesh up, but I kind of sucked as a teenager in terms of focus after so many semesters of concentration. 😉 I hear you about the A/C, but honestly, i haven’t noted that much of a difference, personally, between June 19 and July 19 vs. August 1 vs. Sept. 1. The weather in Chicago always turns sunny by the last couple weeks of June. I just think that everyone will have a different view about this, so best if CPS just sets one course or another, and the rest of us will deal.. 😉

  • 22. anonymous  |  February 17, 2012 at 2:26 am

    The kids call November — no school November and the same with February b/c there are so many days off.

    It would be much better to add 5 days from those months and not extend into summer at all.

    Some kids need to work. Others have summer camps. Family vacations.

    More and more this looks just like warehousing kids for as long as possible.

  • 23. anonymous  |  February 17, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Have no interest is letting the mayor set the course and going along with his wishes.

  • 24. Yeah track E  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:17 am

    I’m actually for track E if it is system-wide. Ill take that over 45 minutes of study hall laneled “enrichment” any day . Just tell me now please so I can plan my fall vacation!!!!

    My biggest objection with 2 kids in 2 schools was logistics. It will make for an incredibly short summer though –

  • 25. Gwen  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:28 am

    @22: Agreed. My daughter said the same thing about November – what was it like 10 days of instruction? I know a lot of teachers that feel the same way too – get rid of those days . . .

  • 26. Mom of boys  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:41 am

    I think there is a large difference between the heat in those classrooms in late June vs late August. I couldn’t expect any child to concentrate on the third floor of my kids old un-airconditioned school building with its huge black asphalt & concrete surroundings. I agree with @22 that November and Jan/Feb could add in all the extra days we might need, as well as give the kids consistency in the rhythm of their school weeks.

  • 27. Gwen  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:14 am

    @26, amen.

  • 28. Mayfair Dad where are you  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Since this is a free-for-all thread: what happened to Mayfair Dad? And also his antagonist “Gayfair Dad”?

  • 29. anon99999999999999999  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:38 am,0,6829485.story?page=2

    Karen Lewis. . .funny, funny . 30% increase.

  • 30. Gwen  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I think teachers should be paid more, especially for a longer school day. But most importantly because we should be trying to attract, and maintain, the best and brightest as teachers. Our priorities as a society are seriously skewed.

  • 31. CPSDepressed  |  February 17, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I got a good laugh this morning when I picked up the paper.

  • 32. mom2  |  February 17, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I saw that article, too. Aren’t CPS teachers already paid better than most other teachers in the general area? I didn’t think they were underpaid.

    However, I do like some of their other points such as wanting smaller class sizes and PE, Music and Art teachers.

    I swear I was told on this forum by someone “in the know” from CTU that they were not allowed to ask for smaller class sizes. Something about union rules/laws. I’m glad to see that person was wrong. Smaller class sizes, and other things that also benefit the kids, are certainly things that will win parent support.

  • 33. Mayfair Dad  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Mayfair Dad has been shocked, angered and heartbroken over recent news reports re: Lincoln Park High School. While certainly not reflective of the climate/culture of the entire LPHS community, it exposes a serious breakdown of security and suggests a “menacing element” still persists among the kids who are there to learn. One is tempted to chalk this incident up to an urban experience but sadly we know this happens in the suburbs too.

    On a brighter note, take a close look at the entire CTU report (link below) instead of responding to the typically negative Tribune headlines. As someone who has blasted CTU in the past for failing to articulate a vision of how they would fix Chicago’s schools, this document is potentially a game-changer for winning the hearts of CPS parents.

    I imagine Gayfair Dad is too busy watching American Idol to blog anymore. Zing!

  • 34. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:38 am

    @33. I agree. There’s a lot of great stuff in their proposal.

  • 35. The Writing Doctor  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Great blog! I look forward to following it from now on. – Paul Foxworth, who also has a blog:

  • 36. @#32  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

    In some ways yes & in some ways no & it depends on how you look at it:
    According to 2010-2011 data compiled by the National Council on Teacher Quality, CPS teachers are, in fact, the overall highest paid among teachers in the 10 largest school districts in the country. In only one category does CPS fall behind: first-year teacher with a master’s degree in New York City Public Schools earn approximately $1,000 more annually.

    Among the 50 largest districts, CPS teachers fall behind in two instances: to California Long Beach Unified School District, where a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree earns $48,444 compared to $47,268 in CPS; and to New York City Public Schools and Montgomery County, Maryland Public Schools, where first-year teachers with a master’s degree earn $51, 425 and $51, 128 respectively, compared to $50,542 in CPS.

    However, data from the Illinois State Board of Education show that CPS salaries are far from highest among Illinois schools, especially when compared to those in suburban districts. The city ranks 13th in salaries for beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 25th in pay for beginning teachers with a master’s.

    U.S. Teacher Salaries by District

    IL Teacher Salaries by District

  • 37. Joel  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:59 am

    @22 “More and more this looks just like warehousing kids for as long as possible.”

    Things like “free” breakfast, lunch, and in some cases dinner, as well as opening up the schools in the summer (like ours) to give free meals, it should come as no surprise that CPS is very much into keeping kids at school. They can justify it in any way they want (for instance, in my neighborhood HS it is for the safety of students and because we are a “poor” neighborhood); notice when every school district in the state has a snow day, CPS won’t, because as they say in the press releases, “For many of our students, it is the only place they can go for heat and a hot meal.”

    @32 “I saw that article, too. Aren’t CPS teachers already paid better than most other teachers in the general area? I didn’t think they were underpaid.”

    CPS teachers are in NO way underpaid; I always tell people that the myth of the “poor” CPS teacher is a joke. We are quite well-paid. That being said, we do not get to the high reaches of pay that occur in the suburbs, but for someone like me who is taking off after 7 years, I’ve done quite well. And this is exactly CPS’s strategy; keep them around for 5-7 years, then send them on. As a HS teacher with 7 years and 2 Master’s degrees, working summer school and Saturday school, I cleared about $70,000. If I would’ve taken my preferred job in ND, I would have been paid about $43,000 last year (with a bit extra for summer/Saturday schools). Of course, cost of living and all that, but in no way are teachers underpaid anymore. I think that many CPS teachers would be happy for a pay cut or some compensation restructuring if they lifted the stupid residence requirement.

    Also, based on what I heard at our CTU informational meeting yesterday afternoon, the general consensus is that CTU and CPS are VERY far apart in contract negotiations. CPS wants to go nuclear on the negotiations, and completely blow apart the union. I’m not entirely against blowing out the union as I have preferred to remain independent (libertarian and all), but it needs to be done incrementally. Of course, I don’t think the Mayor has “compromise” tagged in his dictionary, so I’d say right now, there’s a decent likelihood of a strike. Teachers will be vilified, more good teachers will leave the system, the SE schools and charters will remain, and the “neighborhood” CPS and the union, in my opinion, will die out in about 4-5 years.

    Lastly, after reading many comments about various interlopers and “big picture” posts and how it has broken up the clubhouse feel, I apologize for anything that I may have contributed in that way. I know that for each person here it is about yourself and your kids first, as it is for me as well. I’m happily content to now sit on the sidelines and enjoy watching people stress out about SE tests, letters, schools, etc.

  • 38. Future CPS Kinder Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

    So, if all CPS schools go to an early August start, do you think they will change the cut-off date for kindergarten entrance? If they make this change, my son will start kindergarten as a four year old this fall. While I am not really against the idea of the new calendar (if they first address environmental comfort issues in all schools – obviously that would take a while to do) I am against the idea of my son starting kindergarten at age four.

  • 39. junior  |  February 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm


    Curious — there are 879 school districts in Illinois. How can anyone possibly use the argument that ranking 13th or 25th demonstrates that Chicago teachers are not well compensated? Am I missing something here?

  • 40. Future CPS Kinder Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    junior – one could argue that Chicago has a much higher cost of living than the rest of the state and since teachers are required to live withing city limits and thus, required to shoulder that higher cost of living, they should be compensated appropriately, which would be at a higher rate than teachers pretty much everywhere else in the state. Also, let’s admit it, teachers at many Chicago schools have a much higher stress and challenge factor (dealing with gang members, trying to help a large number of children who live in at risk situations etc…) than teachers in suburban and smaller city/town schools. They should be compensated for that. This would also draw the best teachers to where they are needed the most. We need the best teachers possible here in our city. Let’s do something to make teaching at CPS appealing to them.

  • 41. Mayfair Dad  |  February 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Its interesting the salary increase demand is the sound byte everyone is focusing on.

    To do the 7.5 hour day properly, CPS will need to hire more teachers: PE teachers, art teachers, music teachers, foreign language teachers, technology teachers. Also more para-professionals, i.e. teachers aides, security guards, etc.

    As a parent, I’m looking for CPS to commit to these hires (also smaller class size). Granted, CTU doesn’t want to cave on salary increases promised by the previous administration, but isn’t a guarantee of more jobs and securing existing jobs a win for CTU too? Evolve or perish.

  • 42. mom2  |  February 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Mayfair Dad – “Granted, CTU doesn’t want to cave on salary increases promised by the previous administration, but isn’t a guarantee of more jobs and securing existing jobs a win for CTU too? Evolve or perish.” That is exactly correct and I think why people ARE focused on their salary increase demands. If they really wanted all these other things and would be happy with those things, they should focus totally on those things. The salary fight gets in they way and causes them to lose tons of support from the community.

    CPS keeps saying it is broke and the city is broke and the state is broke. If they find extra money, let’s use it for the smaller classes, more teachers and teacher aids and better school facilities. Let’s not use it to pay higher salaries for teachers that already earn dollars similar or better than other big cities. (Cost of living is higher in New York City and much of California).

  • 43. @#39  |  February 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I wasn’t agreeing or disagreeing with the post. I was just providing some information about teacher salaries that I had just read. Just sharing the article so others would have more information to draw conclusions. But post 40 has a lot of great points and I agree with him/her.

  • 44. HS Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Joel, thanks for telling it like it is. I often fantasize about that Kenilworth municipal job too (second to the one about my son stepping up to the podium as Valedictorian at Harvard or Yale, OK third to George Clooney). As far as I’m concerned you’re in the club, but not sure that I am.

    Mayfair Dad – I’m with you.

    @38 – Don’t start Kindergarten at 4. You can start school at when it’s right for you and your child. We were always counseled to hold back for a summer birthday, even if that means starting at age 6. Rightfully so – starting age can a big difference academically. I have seen kids with February birthdates start at age 6.

  • 45. db  |  February 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I guess it’s a serious possibility that there might be one schedule in the Fall and all schools mights be starting before Labor Day.

    I wish they would decide now… so I could determine if I need to worry about coverage in August.

  • 46. NW Parent.  |  February 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I think New York and LA do not require their teachers to live in the city limits.

  • 47. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    My son had a student teacher last year from DePaul who was really great – very engaged, very smart. When I asked her where she hoped to work next year she said NOT CPS because with her student loan repayments she would not be able to afford to live in the city, she was looking in the burbs.

  • 48. cpsmama  |  February 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    @44 As far as I know, CPS doesn’t allow starting kindergarten at 6. If you start at 6 yrs old, your child will be placed into 1st grade- completely defeating the purpose of holding back for summer b-day.(at least thats what I was told years ago when I tried to hold my kids back)

    So….my Aug bday child started kindergarten as a 5 yrs & less than 1 month. Several kids in the class turned 6 the first wk of school.

    I know of several families who falsified birth cert to delay starting their kids.

  • 49. CPS K mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    @38: I am in desperate need of a nap, so I realize I could be misunderstanding, but I don’t understand how the new schedule would make that big of a difference. Does your child turn 5 in late August (so under current rules, he’d start at age 5 in September)? If that’s the case, then he’d technically be 4 if they start in August but don’t change the cutoff, but he’s really only a few weeks younger, right? Or am I not understanding correctly?

    Assuming that happens (your child would be told to start K at almost-5): I’m pretty sure you can skip K (not required), as HS Mom pointed out….but since CPS doesn’t allow red-shirting, my understanding is that your child would start the following year as a 1st grader (assuming they don’t tweak the cutoff dates for the following year).

  • 50. anan87777  |  February 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    47 – you realize that plenty of CPS teachers live in the suburbs, whether they can or not. Afford living in the city — not everyone needs to live in Lincoln Park. There are decent, moderate Chicago neighborhoods. I don’t think CPS should abolish the residency requirement unless the Police and Fire eliminate it too. It would be really interesting to watch all those employees flee for the suburbs if that was eliminated.

    I know this doesn’t really belong in this blog, but I’m tired of the nonsense.

  • 51. anon99  |  February 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    48 – how do you falsify a birth certificate?

  • 52. CPSDepressed  |  February 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Some schools will red-shirt if you talk to the principal. It may not be official policy, but it can be done. It is especially effective in schools where the principal is obsessed with getting higher scores.

    Another strategy that I’ve seen families use is send their kids to kindergarten and first grade at Catholic school a year late, then transfer to CPS. CPS won’t make a kid skip second grade in order to comply with birthdate cutoffs.

    Finally, I’m not sure the CPS residency restrictions are all that strict. There have been plenty of CPS teachers who come on this board and talk about how supportive their children’s suburban school boards are, and it’s a shame CPS isn’t as nice. The funny thing is that they never talk about how they are campaigning their children’s suburban district for a shorter school day and a shorter school year.

  • 53. anon mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    CPS residency rates are very strict. There was a principal stripped of his job a couple of years ago–he got caught living in Oak Park.

    However, there are teachers whose tenure preceedes that of the residency requirement, who may live wherever they want. And there are some teachers who work in areas of high need (SpEd, science, math) who can get exemptions.

    I want to know where these “decent, moderate” neighborhoods are in which CPS teachers and their families should live. Would YOU live there? And how many of these neighborhoods are on the North Side (in recognition of the many hundreds of teaching jobs that are not)? Our teacher family lives in a Tier 1 neighborhood, because that’s all we could afford within a comfortable commute to downtown (where the financially dominant non-teacher half works).

    While Chicago teachers may not be grossly underpaid (although they are paid less than many suburbs, which would be a better reflection of the local market than would a school in ND), the decision to cut the 4% raise they were supposed to receive this year was Rahm’s shot across the bow for darn sure. And the longer school day/year deserves compensation. Police and firemen receive overtime (and holiday pay)–why shouldn’t teachers receive more money for longer hours (especially as they hours for which they’re paid–they have to clock in and out–don’t necessarily correlate with the number of hours they work)?

    If your employer asked you to increase your workload substantially, wouldn’t you ask for or expect a promotion or some sort of compensation? I know I would.

  • 54. mom2  |  February 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    “If your employer asked you to increase your workload substantially, wouldn’t you ask for or expect a promotion or some sort of compensation? I know I would.”
    I don’t want to get into this too much, but my answer would be that, yes, I’d want that but no, I wouldn’t get it.

    In fact, for most people I know in the private sector over the last multiple years, this exact thing has happened and we did not receive a promotion or extra compensation. In fact, many people I know that weren’t laid off have received no raise in many years. They must do more work than before (because others were let go or not replaced) or they must work longer hours or both, However they/we are just happy to have a job at all.

  • 55. NoMore  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    54 – Yes, and that’s is exactly what the teachers don’t see. Many of them have been in the comfortable, CPS non firing atmosphere for so long it is nuts. I don’t agree with everything Rahm is doing, but most of the CPS stuff should have been done long ago. I hope he cleans up the schools, adds longer days / year, can find money for additonal building space where needed, enrichment classes and happy to see the fixing of sick days / vacation day accumulation. I would like to see a fair way to review teachers to get rid of the lazy noncaring ones.

  • 56. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    @53. Well said.

    @54. I want teachers to be fairly paid, which I view to be well paid. They put in long, long hours (well beyond just the hours they log in the classroom) and often pay out of their own pocket for “extras” for the classroom, especially in schools where the parents aren’t raising $$$ for these things. I can think of few professions that will have as significant an impact on our next generation as our teachers, and I so yes, I do want them to get the raise they didn’t get last year, and to be compensated well. I want to attract and maintain excellent teachers and encourage the best and the brightest to seek out a career in education, and attractive compensation is a step in the right direction to accomplishing that goal. This is a bigger issue than just your or my experience in the private sector, this to me is about the future of education and the teaching profession in this country.

  • 57. anon77  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    mia – You can pay teachers well as long as they are really teaching. What is really needed is a way to review and compensate those “good” teachers and not everyone across the board. Yes, this does happen in the private sector.

  • 58. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    @55. He should also deal with the lazy non-caring NON-UNION employees at the central office which is as bloated with ineffective mid-level, high-paid management as it ever was. And I know several people who work there who can barely stand going into work in the morning because they are hard working and capable and work with 3 bad people for every 1 good one. And you know what? They haven’t had a performance review in 3 years. They don’t even conduct them downtown. They don’t do peer reviews or 180s. Nothing. So the good ones can’t even provide feedback on their ineffective managers and peers.

    That being said, my main sticking point with the union has always been tenure and pay based solely on that and not on merit. I hated looking up my children’s teachers salaries and seeing that some of the worst ones were the highest paid and the fabuloous ones the lowest. There has to be a way to get rid of teachers that, as you said, is fair and also a way to have pay be based on some combination of both tenure and performance (merit). I think the CTU should address that and publicly acknowledge the problems their current policies cause, I think that would go a long way toward improving public perception of them.

  • 59. mom2  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    @56 – Very specifically, I would like CPS to pay for the “extras” in the classroom. Teachers shouldn’t have to use their own money for that. Again, this is something that benefits the kids, too, and therefore, the money would be going to the schools and the kids – not into the teachers pocket. Parents agree with CTU on this point.

    I do understand wanting the teaching profession in the United States to pay better than it does. That would be great if you think about it in terms of our children deciding to be teachers because it pays just like doctors and lawyers, for example. That is quite a dream and would certainly end up having better teachers to choose from in the future.

    However, I don’t look at the CTU demand of 30% more pay as any move towards your goal. I see them very separate from each other. One is a demand of give me more money because I am working more hours or my job is harder than your job. Exempt Salaried employees don’t get overtime and have to just work until the job is done – however long that takes and they bring work home, too. They don’t get to keep their job if they don’t meet the expectations of their boss and they don’t get necessarily get raises just because they work at their company longer than someone else.

    Working to make the teaching profession more respected with better pay sounds more big picture than this and it requires a drastic change in terms of how they are paid and compensated now.

  • 60. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    @59 – I want CPS to pay for it, too, but they don’t, and I know of teachers who regularlay pay $$ for these extras.

    Re. 30%, well, it’s the start of negotiations, I suppose it’s better to start high – maybe if Obama had started with Single Payer we might have ended up with a REAL public option . . .

    I know it’s big picture, and maybe even pie-in-the-sky, but it has to start somewhere, and I would just like the discourse, on both sides, to be more civil and respectful, I’m very tired of the teacher bashing i keep hearing, yes there are rotten teachers, really, really bad ones (my daughter has had several) and there is no reason they should still be teaching – none at all – but the profession itself should be treated with respect, the teachers should have a voice in shaping our educational system, not just the bureaucrats at the central office, and i fear that this national climate of teacher vilification (and it does exist, and Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind just exacerbate it) is doing a lot of harm.

    Just my two cents – (didn’t I say i was going to stay out of these discussions and stick to SEHS obessing?)

  • 61. mom2  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Mia, just so we are clear, I also believe that the majority of our teachers are wonderful and they should have a voice in shaping our educational system and they should be treated with respect. Many of them know better than any of us about what would be best for our kids. But, I think the “bureaucrats” are not just at the central office. My gut whenever I read things from CTU is that their leadership is just as bureaucratic. I don’t trust their leadership, even when I do trust our individual teachers.

    Sometimes people confuse CTU “bashing” with teacher bashing. Sometimes one person saying that there are bad teachers (just like you did above) makes others think that all teachers are being “bashed”. Again, as you even said, if there was some way to more easily evaluate, and possibly remove some of those bad teachers (we also have had a few, but not anywhere near the majority), maybe the bashed feelings of all the others would go away.

  • 62. Chris  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    “I don’t trust their leadership, even when I do trust our individual teachers.”

    Big 2!

    It’s the culture of protecting the bad guys (that also happens in the CPS central office, various police departments, and most unionized work forces, to lesser or greater extents) that goes over like a lead balloon.

    I strongly suspect that the majority (probably the vast majority) of CPS teahcers would like to see a realiable method or getting rid of the bad teachers, but (1) the union doesn’t want it, and (2) very few teacher trust (with good reason) that the “bad teacher” standard will be applied to get rid of *only* the bad teachers. There’s a more than reasonable fear that any given teacher can get railroaded, and that stops progress on getting a reasonable system in place. Because–how do you determine who is “bad” (other than a “i know it when i see it” standard) and then who adminsiters that determination–can’t be the central admin, can’t be the principals, can’t be the other teachers, can’t be the parents–all for related, but different reasons.

    So, what do you do? Anybody got a bright idea?

  • 63. College-Bound Kiddos  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    As a parent of the college-bound, and speaking of salaries, what do you expect for your kids to earn (in today’s $) right out of undergrad? After researching this, it’s seeming that a new grad needs $50K in a big city to afford rent, transportation, school debt, savings, etc., and needs to make sure they have employer-sponsored medical insurance. Agree or disagree? Or, maybe they should get that only once they’ve done grad school?

  • 64. tyty  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    In answering Mia’s question, Whatever school you get accepted into , you will receive a acceptance letter in the mail and probably information for you to send back to them to secure your spot at that school. I say this because you may not get accepted into the first school you applied. If you wish not to accept this school and take your chance on Principal Discretion, You have that right.

  • 65. anonymouseteacher  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    @62, There is already a new law in place called SB7. Starting this fall, based on whatever rating system is put in place (probably Charlotte Danielson) ANY teacher with two bad ratings within a 7 year period (that can happen as quickly as one year because we are observed 3 times per year) can be fired without any nonsense. There is no more “remediation” process for staff, no more union negotiating, and labor laws are forever changed. Getting rid of teachers that are determined by whoever is in charge as “bad” becomes incredibly easy. There is no need to debate this issue or figure out ideas anymore. Its a done deal.
    I both like and dislike this part of the law. I hate it that unions have protected due process to the point that a teacher pretty much has to assault a kid to be removed (and sometimes not even then). I also worry that some really awesome teachers will be removed for unjust reasons, essentially being blacklisted from the profession forever. It isn’t like you can get fired from one school district and just go to another. It doesn’t work like that. You’d have to know someone to get in another district after being fired.

    @63, Why do you ask?

  • 66. anonymouseteacher  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    @32, the CTU is absolutely forbidden to bargain over class sizes and this is Illinois law. Fwiw, we are the ONLY district in the state that is denied this. Every other school union in the state is allowed to raise class size as a bargaining issue.

  • 67. anonymouseteacher  |  February 17, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    I read the article. Lewis stated that it was CTU’s “vision” to have smaller class sizes. It was a comment meant to shame the district over its very large class sizes. The CTU cannot bargain over this issue. They can discuss it all they want, but they cannot bargain over it.

  • 68. Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    @65 – I understand the fear that good teachers will be “blacklisted” if it is easier to fire teachers. But this is true in every profession that is not unionized. There is always a risk your boss won’t like you and will treat you unjustly, but mostly, that never happens if you are doing your job well. Can’t imagine it’s so different in education that special rules to protect the incompetent are required so that the not incompetent won’t risk being fired unjustly.

  • 69. anonymouseteacher  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    @68, I understand your point.
    I think part of my concern is starting this fall, teacher ratings will be tied to test scores, at least in part. Again, I have mixed feelings about this. (I like it and hate it. I like it because after all, if we can’t increase achievement, why bother?) As long as the tests used show growth over time and are not a standardized test holding every single child to the same standard regardless of where they started out, I can support it.
    Take school A: high parent income, all kids attended at least one year of quality preschool, all have a high literacy background, very few have sped issues or language issues or home insecurity issues. Those kids take Test X in September. 55% are already meeting the district’s “end of the year” benchmark.
    Take school B: low income, no preschool at all for most, low literacy background, ESL and poverty issues, homelessness, high percentage of sped issues. Those kids take Test X in September. 0% are meeting the district’s “end of year” benchmark.

    Look at both schools at the end of the year. Let’s say School A has 80% meeting “end of year” benchmarks. So School A went from 55% meeting standards to 80% meeting.
    School B, let’s say, goes from 0% meeting the benchmark to 60% meeting the benchmark at the end of the year.
    Just looking at end of year results, one could conclude school A has a teacher who should be retained and school B’s teacher should be fired for “low test scores”. But if you observe where both are starting from, then really, School B’s teacher is much higher performing, especially when you factor in the things that affect the student performance.

    I am waiting to see just how CPS implements tying ratings to performance. I personally am not worried for my own job security. My “growth over time” rates are excellent even with low starting scores and I teach in a well run school with a nice student population. Our students don’t run around flashing gang signs nor are they violent, emotionally disturbed nor do they act out sexually. This fact allows me to actually teach most of the day. I am worried for friends in schools with wacko principals and incredibly difficult student populations.
    I also worry that a school district in such horrible financial condition might conveniently find its older, more highly paid teachers to be “poor teachers” on a false basis simply so it can rid itself of the cost of those teachers. I can fully imagine the district balancing its budget this way. But then, I guess, isn’t that what everyone keeps saying about how all employers work? Balance the budget no matter how.

  • 70. Gwen  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Okay, I know i’m going off topic, but do we think we’ll be getting notifications on high schools next week?

  • 71. MayfairAM  |  February 17, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    My WY ackie got a rejection from Ignatius. It is not her first choice for HS, but we wanted her to have options.

  • 72. Gwen  |  February 18, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Sorry to hear this. My friend’s son also got a rejection from Ignatius, and he had scored very high on his ISATs but had difficulty on the entrance exam.

    As a student in the academic center, isn’t she guaranteed a spot in the high school?

  • 73. Lindblom Princpal  |  February 18, 2012 at 8:45 am

    It appears that SE letters will go out next week. None of us is sure which day next week, but that’s the best info we have!

  • 74. MayfairAM  |  February 18, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Yes she has a guaranteed spot, and she loves WY very very much.
    We just wanted her to explore her options. Her scores were high on the test. Not Catholic, so that may have something to do with it. She is going for a call-back today at Chi-Arts. We are big into exploring options over here.

  • 75. Mayfair Dad where are you  |  February 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Mayfair Dad, I didn’t know about the attack on the Lincoln Park High girl until you mentioned it. Just read about it – were the 19 year old men students? How awful.

  • 76. Gwen  |  February 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I’ve heard wonderful things about WY’s AC. I think it’s great that you’re exploring the options, and it’s good to have learned about just how many options there are.

    Thanks to Lindblom Principal for the post. Let’s hope it’s earlier in the week rather than later.

  • 77. HS Mom  |  February 18, 2012 at 11:01 am

    @58 Mia- your second paragraph is something that we can agree on (probably 1st too, but I am not in the know on this). Thanks

    @65 even with SB7 there is resistance to letting teachers go. I still see nontenured teachers let go when it comes to budget cuts and a general lack of action or shifting of positions when it comes to tenured teachers. I can only guess that there is still a fear of union reprisal.

  • 78. anonymouseteacher  |  February 18, 2012 at 11:03 am

    The SB7 changes don’t kick in until this fall, so that is why you haven’t seen it happen yet. Principals are going to have to “man up” so to speak and follow the law when it comes to retaining or firing come this fall.

  • 79. College-Bound Kiddos  |  February 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    65. anonymouseteacher | February 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm
    @63, Why do you ask?

    I ask because I’m trying to do a reality check on what a college grad these days needs in annual income for life in a big city to be able to stand on his own two feet as an independent adult upon graduation. My calculations and what I’ve heard from others lands at $50,000.

    I connect education to income, in this instance.

  • 80. CPSDepressed  |  February 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Here’s data on starting salaries for the class of 2011:

    The average is $50,034. Engineering majors have the highest salaries. Liberal arts majors were offered $35,633.

    Salaries, of course, are not based on what people need, but what the market will bear.

  • 81. anonymouseteacher  |  February 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    It all depends on the person. Did the student rack up a lot of college debt by choosing an expensive school, not working enough during college and not getting enough scholarships? Does the student feel they need to live in Lincoln Park or Lakeview where rent is twice the cost of some other neighborhoods? Does the student feel they should have their own apartment and not share it? Do they feel they must have a car? If so, then yes, for that standard of living, they’ll need at least 50K.
    If they are willing to live a more realistic lifestyle then one can live decently on significantly less as long as there is no children to support.

  • 82. momof3boys  |  February 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    letters always go out on a friday. at least they did for my two boys. i wonder if has to do with the fact that they wont have to deal with the calls til monday.

  • 83. HS Mom  |  February 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    @80 – if they could find a job in their field of study out of school 😦

  • 84. anonymous  |  February 18, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    A Quick Pop Quiz on CPS ( Test your Knowledge. Learn fun facts! )

    1. ) According to the U.S. Dept. of Education, the average length of the elementary school day in the U.S. is

    7.5 hours
    6.6 hours
    6.5 hours
    6.0 hours

    2.) According to Roz Rossi of the Chicago Sun Times Oct. 31, 2011 story, the average school year for the top ten Chicago suburban neighborhood elementary schools is

    185 days
    180 days
    175 days
    170 days

    3.) The Mayor says that the CPS high school graduation rate is horrendous. According to Ed Week, the percentage of CPS students who graduated in 2008 is


    4. ) Which major city has the highest high school graduation rate, according to Ed Week? (

    New York City
    Los Angeles
    Miami Dade

    EPE Research Center Maps: School District Graduation Report
    The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center uses the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) method to calculate graduation rates. …

  • 85. TwinMom  |  February 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    wow – assuming that ed week data is correct, I found the most interesting thing to be “where [I think they really mean ‘when’] are students lost?” … nationwide, it’s not nearly as concentrated on one year (10th grade) as it is in Chicago. Why such a high percentage of dropouts during the sophomore year (and the answer would have to explain why it isn’t the same nationwide)?

  • 86. anonymous  |  February 18, 2012 at 9:59 pm


    1.) 6.6 hours U.S. average school day
    2.) 175 days for top 10 suburban schools
    3.) 70% is the CPS graduation rate
    4.) Chicago has the highest grad rate of the 5 cities

  • 87. CPSmama  |  February 18, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Since Monday is a Federal, State, County & City holiday, I highly doubt that letters will go out on Monday. That leaves Tues-Fri I expect ltrs will go out on Friday (at the earliest).

    Back in the day when SEES sent their own ltrs -they would send them on the Fri before Spring break so schools wouldn’t get calls for a whole WEEK! I assume someof the angry/upset parents calmed down in that week. LOL

  • 88. anonymous  |  February 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    “The funny thing is that they never talk about how they are campaigning their children’s suburban district for a shorter school day and a shorter school year.”

    Average school day is 6.5 hours and school year is 175 days in top 10 Chicago suburban neighborhood elementary schools.

  • 89. Greg Sarchet  |  February 19, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Students with an arts rich education:
    Have better grade point averages
    Score better on standardized tests in reading and math
    Have lower dropout rates

    A true SuperPAC:

  • 90. CPSDepressed  |  February 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Who knew CPS has an Office of Parent Engagement?

  • 91. karet  |  February 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    @53: How about Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Oriole Park, Edison Park? I live in Jefferson Park, and our neighborhood is full of teachers and other city workers. It’s safe and, compared to much of Chicago, affordable. (it’s still tier 4, since it’s mostly single family homes, even though the houses are modest).

  • 92. Gayfair Dad  |  February 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    What is this I hear about a class action lawsuit regarding the Tier system and switchups?

  • 93. anonymouseteacher  |  February 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    @91, Do you happen to know, do those neighborhoods have 2 bed/1 bath condos for sale in the 150K price range? I honestly don’t know. That is about what this two-teacher family could afford. (We are not willing to take on more than about 1K a month in mortgage and taxes and homeowners insurance. This is what we currently pay in our condo in what most people would consider an “undesirable” neighborhood. We feel paranoid about the pension system, which we believe will collapse by the time we retire, so we save a lot and we also want to help our kids pay for college. Based on that, this is what we can afford–and we are fine with that)

  • 94. Mayfair Dad where are you  |  February 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm


    More ideas on where you can live in lovely homes in safe areas for a reasonable price:

    – West Ridge
    – Peterson Park
    – Peterson Woods
    – North Mayfair
    – Norwood Park

  • 95. HSObsessed  |  February 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Just re-posting to spread to word about some education-related events that I got in Ald. Waguespack’s newsletter. I didn’t know there was a movement afoot at Jahn; it will be great to see that evolve.

    Vision for better schools

    Raise Your Hand is a growing coalition of Chicago and Illinois public parents, teachers and concerned citizens advocating for equitable and sustainable education funding, quality programs and instruction for all students and an increased parents voice in policy making around education. Join Raise Your Hand by attending the first Party/Fundraiser. It’s a great networking opportunity for those passionate about education!
    Tuesday, February 21st
    7:00 P.M- 9:00 P.M
    Revolution Brewing
    2323 N Milwaukee Ave
    Click here for more information.

    Audubon Principal Selection Committee (PSC)
    Audubon’s PSC will be hosting a Candidate Forum for the school community to meet the finalists for Audubon’s principal position. Six questions from the community will be selected, and a moderator will give each finalist the opportunity to respond. Following the forum, community members will be invited to meet and greet each of the candidates as well as to submit written comments about the candidates to the PSC.
    Please email any questions you would like to be asked to the candidates to no later than Wednesday, February 22nd.
    Monday, February 27th , 2012
    Audubon Elementray – Auditorium
    3500 N Hoyne
    6:30 P.M

    Vision for Jahn School World Language
    A presentation about the vision for Jahn World Language School will be conducted to the Hamlin Park Neighbor Association and guests at New Life Lakeview . Those interested in hearing an explanation of new and exciting programs and partnerships at Jahn as well as general information are encouraged to attend. All are welcome.

    Monday, February 27th, 2012
    New Life
    2958 N Damen Ave
    7:00 P.M

  • 96. karet  |  February 19, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    @93: In fact, many less than that. I just did a quick search and found a 2 br 2 bath condo for 109K: a 2 br 1 bath also for 109K; a 2 br, 1 bath house for 159K; a 2 br, 1 bath house for 154K … and many more. Lots of houses between 150-250K.

  • 97. Jen  |  February 19, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    A friend of mine is about to close on a 2/1 in Wicker Park that he paid $125k for. They’re out there.

  • 98. falconergrad  |  February 19, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Is anyone else concerned about these possible ramifications of 7.5 hour day:

    -a significant number of parents pull kids from non-neighborhood options and send them to the neighborhood school because they do not want their child gone that long (commute + 7.5 day), or if they are transporting their kids themselves, they do not want to be suffering in even worse traffic than they already are. they might even transfer after the school year starts. how fun would that be for all concerned?

    -a lot of good teachers decide to leave the system because while they are not opposed to a longer day, they think 7.5 is too long

    -the implementation will be a disaster since it is being done so quickly and without buy in from majority of stakeholders

    -I am sure I can come up with some more given time…

    I just don’t like the ram-roddy, slip-shoddy way this is looking to me. I actually don’t mind waiting a little for true and lasting improvement. I feel like every day there is some new big thing CPS wants to do in the paper. My head is spinning just seeing the posts above re Track E. We can’t change everything at once! How would we know what is working then?

    Also, re COL in the city, totally agree that the city can be extremely affordable and safe if you are not looking to be spoiled.

  • 99. gary  |  February 20, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Free Northwestern University Brain Fair, hosted by Nettelhorst School!

    Northwestern University is bringing their wonderful experiments and knowledge to the second annual Brain Fair, Saturday March 3 2012. It’s free for all families, but registration is limited — and this event filled up completely in just three days last year!

    It’s the totally mind-expanding, so-cool-I-can’t-believe-it, hands-on learning parent/child experience of the year, as the Neurobiology brains from Northwestern Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program deliver their massive show to Nettelhorst, for a free citywide festival to celebrate Brain Awareness Week.

    So go register NOW, and enjoy even more cool demonstrations and hands-on activities than last year, including:

    – Control a Lego Mindstorm with electrical impulses from YOUR body!

    – Watch the scientists play snakecharmer on your parent, making them sway and lean as if under a trance!

    – Forget how cool you thought zombies were, as you watch cockroach legs dance down the hall!

    – See if you’ve got what it takes to hold a REAL brain in your hands!

    Register for either the morning (10 am to noon) or afternoon (1:30 – 3:30) session, but hurry! Parent must accompany child, no drop-offs.

    The Nettelhorst School, 3252 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657. Please note: at least one parent must accompany children; and you may register for EITHER the morning (10 am – 12 noon) or afternoon (1:30-3:30 pm) session, not both.

    Registration is at​brainfair

  • 100. Mayfair Dad where are you  |  February 20, 2012 at 8:47 am

    98 Falconergrad, if “a significant number of parents pull kids from non-neighborhood options and send them to the neighborhood school because they do not want their child gone that long (commute + 7.5 day)” that would be fantastic! Involved families backing neighborhood schools is what many people want.

  • 101. Pam  |  February 20, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I should have elaborated. I would love it if my neighborhood school truly felt like a neighborhood school. Right now there is no room at my child’s school for a lot of additional kids from the neighborhood. That is a topic for another post, as I have a vague feeling that we have a lot of kids from outside the attendance area. This year my child’s school had to open a FIFTH 1st grade classroom when they wound up with FORTY more 1st graders than we had K students last year. We do not have full day K, but all of those kids could not have come from private schools offering full day K. In fact, a fifth classroom had to opened for K, too. The new classroom opened one week after school started, so not a great start for the entire 1st grade! I believe the new K classroom started even later.

  • 102. falconergrad  |  February 20, 2012 at 9:16 am

    UGH. I am falconergrad. Not sure how I screwed that up.


  • 103. 13 principals say longer school day works  |  February 20, 2012 at 9:16 am

    What do fellow cpsobsessors think about this?

    As principals of the 13 pioneer schools that adopted a longer school day this school year, we’ve had the opportunity to see what more time in the classroom means for students and teachers. The “Full School Day” — the apt phrase CPS has chosen to describe the longer day — has allowed us to dedicate the time needed to adequately teach core subjects like reading, math and science.

    The schools that launched a Full School Day in September have provided students with 110 hours of additional class time, equivalent to 22 more instructional days. As educators we cannot stress enough the positive impact that this extra time has had for both students and teachers. With all Chicago Public Schools scheduled to move to a Full School Day this fall, we hope others learn from our experiences and support Mayor Emanuel’s initiative to give Chicago’s students a full day that equals their full potential.

    The Full School Day has allowed us to add 90 minutes of instruction daily. Seventy-one percent of that time has been spent on core subjects. However, no two Pioneer School schedules look the same, as we have the flexibility to structure our schedules to meet the needs of our students. Students also have 45 minutes dedicated to recess and lunch. Recess is a first for most of our students, and they love it.

    We know first-hand that if children can’t read or write at their grade level, not only will they fall behind their peers, but they are more likely to drop out of high school. The achievement gap for many students in CPS doesn’t start in high school but in kindergarten. Far too many students are below their proficiency level when they enter our school system. That means they start at a disadvantage and face greater challenges in catching up. A Full School Day can help us close the achievement gap by providing children with the learning time they need to lay a foundation for academic success.

    There is no doubt that the Full School Day will continue to help our students grow. Beginning next year, CPS will be moving toward a new curriculum aligned with the Common Core State Standards to more accurately reflect the knowledge and skills our students need in order to succeed in college and careers. All students will be challenged by this new and rigorous curriculum and will find that the additional time is necessary to ensure their continued success.

    Most of our parents love the full day, too. They tell us that their children are more energized and engaged in their school work. We see this enthusiasm in the faces of our students daily. They are excited about school and embrace the additional learning time. They love recess and they don’t feel rushed in the classroom like they once did.

    We started the Full School Day optimistic about the impact the additional time would have on our students, and the benefits we’ve seen throughout the past few months have far exceeded our expectations. We’re proud to serve as pioneer schools as CPS moves towards adopting the Full School Day, and are excited that all CPS students will receive the benefits the additional time brings.

    Pioneer Schools:

    Ethan Netterstrom, Skinner North

    Maria McManus, STEM Magnet Academy

    Nancy Hanks, Melody Elementary

    Angel Turner, Morton School of Excellence

    Bogdana Chkoumbova, Disney II Magnet School

    Zipporah Hightower, Bethune School of Excellence

    Cynthia Miller, Fiske Elementary

    Ginger Bryant, Sexton Elementary

    Keisha Campbell, Howe School of Excellence

    Tresa Dunbar, Nash Elementary

    Julious Lawson, Montefiore Special Elementary

    Patricia McCann, Mays Elementary

    Kenya Sadler, Brown Elementary

  • 104. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I am also concerned that so many of Emanuel’s policies will cause middle class people to flee the city schools. It seems he is determined to dismantle the entire system.

    The re-arranging of the tiers in the middle of selection; the long day and year; cutting bi-lingual education, cutting Young Authors and Spelling Bee and Real Men Read programs, and cutting after school programs like Maggie Daley’s After School Matters.

    His actions would imply that CPS has never done anything right.

    But did you know that Chicago has the highest h.s. grad rate of the big cities?

    In 2008, it was70.2% in Chicago, with a high poverty rate — 31% of children — significantly above the national average of 20%.

    It was 62.1% in Miami; 57.3% in NYC; 53.5% in Houston; 48.7% in Los Angeles; and 43.1% in Las Vegas.

  • 105. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 10:24 am

    There is no school district in the U.S. where the average elementary school day is 7.5 hours.

    Not one. This is too extreme.

  • 106. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

    In the past 3 years there have been confirmed cases of cheating in D.C. and 30 states, because of the pressure of NCLB high-stakes tests.

  • 107. 13 principals say longer school day works  |  February 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

    103, 104 & 105 – can you opine on why the 13 pioneer principals say that the longer day has been a success?

  • 108. NW parent  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

    @ 106

    The truth is…money, money moneeeey!

  • 109. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:11 am


    Politics as usual?

    Bethune is an AUSL school.
    Skinner is a pet project of the Pritzkers.

  • 110. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Morton is another AUSL school, and those low income parents appreciate their after school program, accodring to this press release.

    U.S. Secretary of Education to Visit Morton School of Excellence in Chicago, Discuss Importance of Afterschool Programs

    Jo Ann Webb, (202) 401-1576,

    Event Date 1: October 20, 2011 04:45 pm – 06:45 pm

    U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit Chicago’s Morton School of Excellence and observe its various afterschool programs as part of the Afterschool Alliance’s 12th annual “Lights On Afterschool” initiative taking place around the country on Thursday, Oct. 20. During brief remarks, Duncan will recognize the importance of afterschool programs and acknowledge organizations that support them. Chicago Public Schools CEO J.C. Brizard, Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale, Academy for Urban School Leadership Executive Director Donald Feinstein, Morton Principal Angel Turner, and various community partners are among the many participants joining the Secretary.

    Organized by the Afterschool Alliance, “Lights On Afterschool” is the only nationwide rally for afterschool programs. It calls attention to the importance of afterschool programs and the resources required to keep them running. A significant body of research demonstrates that students who attend afterschool programs regularly are more likely to improve their grades, tests scores and overall academic behavior.

  • 111. Mom  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:25 am

    How do you get a school to put into place an after school program? A school with a principal that has told parents “over my dead body” will they ever get an after school program. A school where teachers and administration screech out of the parking lot at 1:45 p.m.

  • 112. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:31 am

    The usual way.

    Get a group of 10 to 15 parents. Talk it over with the LSC chair. Make a formal request at the LSC meeting. Ask to be on an LSC subcommittee on the after school program.

    Contact Jamiko Rose,CPS Family & School Engagement, and ask her advice on specific programs and funds.

    Come back and report ot LSC.

  • 113. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:32 am

    And, btw, run for LSC yourself on this platform.

  • 114. fact check  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Jury is out on graduation rates. We’ll see what happens when the new formulas are applied, as this article suggests Illinois school grad rates will plummet based on new formula…

  • 115. junior  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:43 am

    @110 said:

    “How do you get a school to put into place an after school program? A school with a principal that has told parents “over my dead body” will they ever get an after school program.”

    Kill the principal. No, seriously — get a bunch of like-minded parents to run for LSC as a slate. Cooperate on campaigning to get all people elected. When the principal’s contract comes up for renewal and they ask to be re-hired, you say “over my dead body”. Hire a good principal. You will need strong, committed parents who are willing to take some heat to do this.

    If you do not do this, trust me, you will run into a brick wall on so many other important issues, too.

  • 116. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Please describe the new formulas.

    The 2008 grad. data mentioned earlier can be found at

    From the Trib, here’s how the old forumla worked.

    “In 2005, the governors association for the first time came up with a common way to calculate graduation rates across states, leading the federal government to draw from that work and draft rules in 2008 on a new graduation formula.

    Since then, states like Illinois have been building data systems to track individual students from the time they enter high school to when they get their diplomas. The tracking is key to the new formula because it enables states to follow a specific group of kids rather than relying on general groups to make calculations.

    Under Illinois’ old formula, for example, the state divided the number of high school graduates in a given year by the number of first-time ninth-graders four years earlier, also taking into consideration student transfers. But the graduates in the equation weren’t necessarily in that ninth-grade class four years earlier — they could have been in high school for five or more years.

  • 117. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Btw, last year Chicago’s h. s. grad rate was 73.8%

  • 118. anonymouseteacher  |  February 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    I wonder how the schools listed in post 102 will feel next year when they do not get any extra $$ like they did this year to run their programs?

  • 119. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Good question. 117.

    We hear from parents at Skinner about how difficult the 7.5 hour day is on the youngest children.

    Parents are thinking of leaving the city.

    I think many will over the next 2 to 3 years.

  • 120. Angie  |  February 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    @118. anonymous: Can they please hurry up and leave now, before this year’s SE selections are finalized? And can they take the unhappy Northside and WY families with them? kthxbye

  • 121. CPSDepressed  |  February 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    A real fast way to force families out of the city would be for CTU to go on strike.

    I know some families that have left the city, but it’s not because the school day is too long at Skinner. I’ve heard four reasons: a) their kid doesn’t have the scores for an SEHS or didn’t get into a gifted/magnet program; 2) their kid needs special ed; 3) they don’t like the diversity. (And yes, I’ve heard this, usually couched in some euphemisms about wanting their children to go to school with other children from families that value education, or something like that.)

    Given that suburban school districts have longer school days and longer school years than CPS, I don’t that’s the deal-breaker.

  • 122. CPSDepressed  |  February 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    The fourth reason, which I left off, is the convoluted one about being a huge supporter of public education and a huge supporter of diversity and a huge supporter of teachers unions and gosh, Oak Park has it all! They love CPS, but they won’t send their kids there.

  • 123. Gwen  |  February 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I thought someone said most suburban schools do NOT have longer school days or years . . .

  • 124. CPSDepressed  |  February 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    @122, from data in @86:

    1.) 6.6 hours U.S. average school day
    2.) 175 days for top 10 suburban schools

  • 125. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    The top 10 Chicago suburban elementary neighborhood schools have a 6.5 hour day and a 175-day school year. (Sun Times Oct. 31, 2011)

    Their day includes a full lunch and daily recess, but in middle school, recess becomes daily gym.

    It includes two special classes each day: Spanish (usually), computers, art, music

    Optional: An hour-long after school program that provides further enrichment: math club, chess, fitness, track, debate, etc.

    Many CPS parents have said they would like a longer day, just not a 7.5 hour day. That is too extreme. CPS has said repeatedly that it is unfunded, so where would enrichment programs come from? Implementation of a one-size-fits-all mandate district-wide would not work well across 675 schools and 405,000 students. After school programs help parents who need childcare.

    This really is the ideal day. And you don’t have to test to get in.

  • 126. Barb  |  February 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Re: “Bethune is an AUSL school.” – I believe the woman who’s the turnaround principal at Bethune, Zipporah Hightower, left her previous school when she developed a reputation for poor performance among involved parents there (Kellogg Elementary, a neighborhood school in Beverly).

  • 127. Angie  |  February 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Let’s have the names of these schools, so we can check their low income percentages and test scores. And I would take the data posted on a teacher-oriented website like Edweek with a grain of salt, unless it can be verified by an independent source.

  • 128. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    The deal-breaker is that CPS is mandating both for a not very high quality day and for a day that is the longest by far in the country.

    This hurts the youngest children and children with special needs the most. We have roughly 53,000 special needs children out of 405,000 CPS students.

    It really is a case of one size not fitting all. Parents won’t try to put down roots in the city, and other will flee.

  • 129. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    The 7.5 hour school day is, ultimately, about equity for all school children.

    A high-quality school day should be good for all children, not just those who live in the suburbs or those in CPS with high test scores.

    Ed Week is a highly reputable source of information — but don’t take my word for it, you’ve got the link. You can check out the grad rates yourself. Chicago leads by a sizable percentage.

    Diversity is important. And keeping the middle class involved with CPS schools is important, too. But inflexible policies won’t do that.

  • 130. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know the diverse parents and children at the schools my kids have attended. It has been an excellent experience and we have a better understanding of the city and our neighbors.

    But is that enough to keep families in a school system that mandates without parents involvement an unfunded 7.5 hour day?

  • 131. CPSDepressed  |  February 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I should add, that of the families I know who left, the vast majority left over high school admissions and special ed. My friends and neighbors are hardly a scientific sample, but the point is that many of the people who leave for the suburbs are people who have tried to make CPS work for them but who have not been able to. These are active, involved parents who have college aspirations for their children in almost all cases, the exceptions being those with children who have serious disabilities.

  • 132. Angie  |  February 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    128. anonymous: I would like to know how many children who entered CPS high schools in 1996 graduated 4 years later, not some creative accounting based on expected graduation rates. Is that data available anywhere?

  • 133. anon  |  February 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Was Zipporah Hightower Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign co-chair???

  • 134. junior  |  February 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Why do “anonymous” posts touting the evils of a longer day flourish on days when CPS teachers are off work?

  • 135. junior  |  February 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    What’s your point about graduation rates? Personally, I think it’s one of the more meaningless stats in a sea of meaningless stats. You can graduate 100% of students and it says nothing about the quality of education they have received. There are many rubber-stamped diplomas in CPS (as indicated by college-readiness stats), but you can’t compare it to NYC, where all students are required to pass a very rigorous state Regents exam to get a high-school diploma. So, city-to-city comparisons are even more meaningless.

    On top of that, when you see year-to-year jumps of 15% in the data, clearly there are some games being played with the formulas.

  • 136. karet  |  February 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    @118: Parents at Skinner North like the longer day. According to an editorial in the Tribune, only 6.7% oppose it. My son is at SN and the feeling there is very positive.

  • 137. mom2  |  February 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    @Karet – thanks for jumping in here and telling it like it is. I assume the younger kids get more recess and creative/play based time than the older kids and that isn’t necessarily hard on them.
    I, too, have only heard about parents leaving CPS or the city due to the crazy magnet and SE processes, tiers and safety issues.
    I think these anonymous posters are just making up “We’ve heard” statements to try to scare people out of thinking the longer day might be more beneficial than our current day.
    I’ve heard that teachers at Nettlehorst, Burley, Hawthorne, Newberry and Blaine are planning to leave the union because they all strongly believe that the longer day is a great idea and don’t feel that the union represents their feelings – LOL.

  • 138. HS Mom  |  February 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    @102 What do fellow cpsobsessors think about this?

    I think the letter is pretty self explanatory.

  • 139. local  |  February 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    @133. junior

    “NYC, where all students are required to pass a very rigorous state Regents exam to get a high-school diploma”

    I’d like CPS to shift the burden onto the student to reach standards to earn a diploma. Why does it have to always be the teachers’ who need to “produce” educated students. What about the students’ responsibility?

  • 140. junior  |  February 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    @138 local

    Uh, where did I say anything about teachers in discussing graduation rates? A little defensive are we?

  • 141. Barb  |  February 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Yes, Zipporah Hightower was Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign co-chair and on his Education Transition team, among other things connected to him.

  • 142. kmurphychi  |  February 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    @TwinMom, you asked “assuming that ed week data is correct, I found the most interesting thing to be “where [I think they really mean ‘when’] are students lost?” … nationwide, it’s not nearly as concentrated on one year (10th grade) as it is in Chicago. Why such a high percentage of dropouts during the sophomore year (and the answer would have to explain why it isn’t the same nationwide)”

    This is the answer. The age of compulsory school attendance in IL is 16, which would fall right in most kid’s sophomore year. NY students have to attend school until they are 17, and in California, they must attend school until the age of 18. Pair that with pushing back the kindergarten entry age so a lot of kids are 6 or almost 6 when they enter kindergarten, and you have an even bigger problem in IL.

  • 143. CPSmommy  |  February 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    @137 – I went to Parent Appreciation night at Nettelhorst last Wednesday. The teachers made a potluck dinner for the parents and had Karen Lewis as the guest speaker. Most teachers were there. I don’t think your statement is true…at least not for Nettelhorst.

  • 144. CPSmommy  |  February 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Sorry, my above comment was directed at comment #136.

  • 145. local  |  February 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Oh, junior, you must think I’m a teacher, no?

    I pointed out the fact of the exit exam in NY that you reported.
    Said I liked that idea.
    Noted that the disussion of hs graduation doesn’t place much responsibility on the student. Places is all on the teacher, from what I hear.
    Sorry6 you read that as “defensive.”

    But I could see why you might read it that way.

  • 146. anonymouseteacher  |  February 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    @135, I wonder, do you happen to know what data was used to determine that number? I’d love to see exactly how the survey was worded, how many parents out of the total responded and if they were given a choice of ONLY a 5 hour and 45 minute day and a 7.5 hour day. I also wonder, and I think this is being glossed over, how those same parents will feel when their schools do not get extra funding to make that long day work. Perhaps they won’t care or their particular school will be able to fundraise that extra 100K they are losing. They are very, very lucky to be able to raise large sums on their own to cover those teaching positions.

  • 147. Angie  |  February 20, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    142. CPSmommy: Can you share with us what was said, and more importantly, what they wanted? Are we going to see the Nettelhorst parent petition next?

  • 148. skinner  |  February 20, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    here are the results of the fall survey at Skinner North in regards to how parents perceive the longer day:

    36% very happy
    31% okay
    24% concerned
    8% very unhappy

    since that time, more parents have crossed the line into the “concerned” category, because they have been seeing the cumulative effect on their kids, grades slipping, increased crabbiness in the early evenings, less time for after school activities…BUT most of the parents do not publicly admit the effect it has had on their kids because it is convenient for their full time work schedule.

  • 149. CPSmommy  |  February 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    To Angie:

    There was not anything said about signing a petition against the longer school day. Just lots of feel good talk about what a great turnaround Nettelhorst has been and how great it is that the community, teachers, parents and administrative team really work together.

  • 150. cps alum  |  February 20, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Did anyone hear the interview with Karen Lewis on WBEZ this afternoon. It was during the 2nd hour of the program at around 38:00min.
    I’m wondering what people thought.

  • 151. Burleyparent  |  February 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    @136- You’ve heard that teachers at Burley think the 7.5 hour day is a great idea? I have no idea who you’ve been talking to but this is incorrect.

  • 152. mom2  |  February 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    @142 CPSMommy, I was kidding about the teachers leaving the union. I was just trying to show how someone can say, “We’ve heard…” about anything, but it doesn’t make it true. Sorry you took it seriously. I put LOL at the end to show it was tongue in cheek 🙂

  • 153. karet  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    @145, 147: We have filled out numerous surveys. I am guessing that the one the Tribune cites is different than the one 147 mentions, which was taken soon after the full day began in the fall. It was an adjustment, but the parents I speak with are not unhappy (and they do not all work full time). Of course, there will be differences of opinion.
    As for the money: it was not used to fund ongoing services. It was split up between the teachers and, as I understand it, primarily used for equipment.

  • 154. anonymouseteacher  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    @149, I listened to it. I liked pretty much everything she had to say and feel like most of it reflects what I believe as a parent and a teacher. I like the focus on the desire for smaller class sizes, more art, music, and gym. I like the focus on children as whole people and not just as test scores. I liked her comments on tests and how they do not measure the ability to problem solve or cooperate with others, key things that employers say our school system doesn’t teach.
    What I didn’t like is I felt she brushed off test scores. She has a point in that I believe we so often mis-use tests, particularly standardized tests. But she made it sound as if kids don’t pass tests mainly because they aren’t good test takers. My experience is the hundreds of students I have had over the years is that kids who know how to read well and do math well, generally test well. It is the kids who don’t know how to read or do math well that score poorly.

    I would liked to hear her talk more about smaller tests that are given on very frequent intervals that are used to both drive instruction and to provide specific remediation, like Dibels. These tests, as annoying as they are because of the one-to-one administration, are helpful.

    The ones that are given once a year, I find, are not helpful (like ISATs) in guiding or driving instruction. In any case, I did feel like she glossed over how poorly CPS students perform. I think until we as a profession, as a system, as teachers and parents can be real about this, we won’t have much credibility. We have to be able to really say, “our kids are not doing well”. There are genuine societal reasons for that and we as a city have to address those issues, which Karen referred to earlier in the interview. But I think without admitting we have a serious problem, we don’t have credibility.

    At the same time, I recognize I have many colleagues in schools where it is pretty much impossible to teach because of the behaviors that our system tolerates. My school isn’t on anyone’s top ten list but our students are generally cooperative and work hard. Our parents will not put up with their kids acting badly and that is the key. They have our backs. I honestly can’t imagine how a primary teacher can pull small groups to work with her on the rug if the rest of the group won’t sit and read or work quietly for 5 minutes, let alone if they are busy trying to destroy items in the classroom or beat the crap out of eachother. In those cases, she can’t. She can’t work with small groups and provide interventions because no one will say to the students, “nope, you are not going to be allowed to stay here if you act like that”. One teacher can only do so much and only has so much power without outside support. And if students won’t cooperate, learning cannot happen.

  • 155. anonymouseteacher  |  February 21, 2012 at 12:01 am

    @152, so I see what you are saying, that money was not used to purchase a TA to supervise recess, etc. I understand that parent volunteers have been doing a lot of that, am I correct or did I hear wrong? Are parents willing and able to do extensive volunteering at SN over the long haul? (and I do wonder, how will staff feel if they don’t get extra pay next year and there isn’t money for cool equipment?)
    I know my kids’ school has a lot of parents who volunteer and that makes the difference there. The school I work in does not have a lot of volunteers and without additional funds to “buy” more staff, in the words of my principal, “we are screwed”. (we also have quadruple the number of students at SN and some other facility issues that aren’t an issue at SN) The whole thing makes me kind of crazy. I mean, can anyone imagine telling the Chicago Police Department or the Fire Department that they need to ensure their responsibilities are partly met through volunteers? Thank goodness some parents will help, but is this a good long term solution? And, is it equitable?

  • 156. junior  |  February 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Well, we do have volunteer fire departments all over the country, as well as volunteers who are deputized for law enforcement. We have volunteers throughout the Park District to provide programs for kids, so I’m not particularly offended that CPS would suggest volunteer-supervised recess as a way to stretch resources.

    The equity question is a valid one. There are schools that can fundraise for extras and those that can’t. I always thought that there should be a small CPS “tax” on school fundraising revenues that would go into a general fund to help schools that are more economically challenged.

  • 157. anonymous  |  February 21, 2012 at 11:40 am

    The budget for CPS is around $5 billion. If a forensic audit were done, we might then agree to a fundraising tax.

  • 158. anonymous  |  February 21, 2012 at 11:42 am

    131 — that is the formula the Dept. of Ed has decided to use. It’s a chore, it takes some digging.

  • 159. Mia  |  February 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Okay – not that all of this discussion isn’t interesting (and I’m more than happy to participate in it) but can I just say that I’m REALLY looking forward to what feels like a 2 year process to be over when we finally get SE letters this week!!!!!!

  • 160. cpsobsessed  |  February 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Mia, I may have missed it among the many posts – you are waiting for high school news? I can’t imagine how nervewracking that must be. Please keep us posted!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 161. Mia  |  February 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    That’s how I happened upon your blog in the first place, i was searching for news on the SE timing and then just felt compelled to throw in my 2 cents (more like a quarter, i guess) on unions/charters/turnarounds etc. But yes, waiting for news, as i’m sure are many other parents posting here.

  • 162. NW Parent.  |  February 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Anyone know how to go about home schooling your children? I am fed up with CPS. My husband is a cop so we must live in the city. I refuse to send my child to Foreman and would rather my kids be home schooled with all that is going on.

  • 163. junior  |  February 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    @161 NW Parent

    I believe the procedure is: (1) relinquish your television set, (2) dress the kids like Amish, and (3) require them to read books by Alan Keyes.

    Glad to be of assistance.

  • 164. Mayfair Dad  |  February 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    @110: How to get an after school program

    1. Run for the LSC. Convince other like-minded parents to do the same.
    2. Build a coalition voting block to introduce and approve initiatives to improve your school, within the context of the SIPAAA
    3. Volunteer to serve on the committee to write the SIPAAAA
    4. Volunteer to serve on the committee to evaluate the principal’s job performance. Decline to extend a new four year contract unless he/she actively assists in the creation of a robust after school program.
    5. If necessary, fire the principal and hire somebody who “gets it.”

  • 165. anon  |  February 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    CPS has homeschooling info on their website..

  • 166. Last year at this time I was an obsessed 8th grade parent...  |  February 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Mia – you make me nostalgic for a year ago (when I found this site the same way.) Archives from last year’s 560 “stalking the mailman” comments at may provide some entertainment!

    I don’t remember what CPS promised last year as the “week letters will go out” but I’d wager that means they will be “mailed” out this Friday – i.e., dumped in the bins after hours so they won’t even be picked up by Mr. Postman until Saturday or Monday and arriving at various doorsteps throughout next week. Just sayin’.

    And yes, as you’ll see in the archive, we already wondered why in the Sam Hill they couldn’t blast emails (as well as confirmatory letters.)

  • 167. mom  |  February 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Any information on the year round talk? Nothing on the Board agenda for tomorrow.

  • 168. TwinMom  |  February 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    @141. kmurphychi : I thought the compulsory attendance age was 17 in Illinois??? 7 – 17, if I recall correctly.

    Yes, I did a quick search while typing this post, and found 105 ILCS 5/26-1 — it’s 17 years. So I’m not convinced that’s the reason for the “dropout bubble” during the sophomore year. Hmmm…..

  • 169. Christine  |  February 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    @161 in addition to the Virtual Charter School there are a lot of homeschool and unschooler groups here in the Chicago area. I have been tempted myself to jump the CPS ship and home school so I’ve done a lot of reading about it.

    Amish clothing optional.

  • 170. 7thgradesurvivor  |  February 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Per @166, I’ve only heard that the proposal is for a hybrid of regular and Track E. Would love to hear what others have heard. No surprise, once again, that CPS is doing this under darkness of cover, will they ever learn?

  • 171. anonymous  |  February 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    167 — What do you think?
    If a kids fails a subject, say Algebra or Chemistry, do they have to re-take it in summer?

    Is that when kids just say forget it? maybe b/c they have to work summers, too?

    A high school teacher would give us more insight.

  • 172. CPSDepressed  |  February 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    @161: I know several families involved with Northside Unschoolers,

  • 173. anonymouseteacher  |  February 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    @155, yes,I guess you are right about that with the firefighters.
    But especially on such a large scale as what CPS will need if it doesn’t pony up for more staff–my school will need at least 1 additional full time teacher and 3 additional part time aides, the entire year–that’s a LOT of volunteering, and really, while we might get volunteer aides, I can’t see someone volunteering full time for no pay as a teacher, who is certified and licensed with the state to boot. What happens when the volunteers don’t show up, get sick, forget, decide they don’t want to help afterall?

    To me, the dependency on volunteers for anything other than the nice “extras” just says we are not willing to pay for a good education. Sort of like that old bumper sticker about “It will be a great day when the defense department has to hold a bake sale and our schools get all the money they need”.

    But maybe the economy is really that bad that instead of people being able to “pay” for schools with money, we’ll all have to “pay” with time. I do worry about my school that has about 10% of the volunteering capacity of my kids’ school. I worry too about my old school which had pretty much zero volunteers. The BOE pretty much ignored their every need, big and small, and I am sure they’ll continue to ignore them.

  • 174. rubie  |  February 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    @ 172. anonymouseteacher

    You wrote: To me, the dependency on volunteers for anything other than the nice “extras” just says we are not willing to pay for a good education. Sort of like that old bumper sticker about “It will be a great day when the defense department has to hold a bake sale and our schools get all the money they need”.

    That’s a good bumper sticker. I like this one too:

    “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”

  • 175. rubie  |  February 21, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    168. Christine

    Not all the homeschoolers, and especially not all the unschoolers, are heavy religious fundamentalists. If I had the economic freedom and the personal fortitude (and personality), I would so totally homeschool. You can get so much more done — and in better methods — without all the waiting in line and other aspects of institutional schooling.

    There’s an interesting movement now toward forgoing the traditional undergrad degree, too. Very interesting (tiny) trend.

    But, alas, it is not to be for my family. 😉

  • 176. rubie  |  February 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    161. NW Parent.

    BTW, if you’re serious about homeschooling, check out the advice books now for college admissions for the homeschooled “high school” student. Create a plan now for the transition into college (or whatever is next).

    Also, check out the scholarship reserved for CPD cops’ kids as Univ of Chicago. Sweet deal.

  • 177. Teacher  |  February 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    In response to the above poster. I believe it was comment 136, about the teachers at Bell, Blaine, Burley etcetera wanting to leave the union. You are absolutely incorrect. I know, I’m one of them. Pro union sentiment has never been stronger. That being said, we also see our freedom to provide amazing educational experiences to students melting away. It’s about the students and what’s best for them. I could care less about a longer day or year. The worst is yet to come. Watered down curriculum couched as Common Core will be the start. You just better hope that the teachers at your school have enough balls to “Keep Calm and Carry On” through the storm.

  • 178. rubie  |  February 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Don’t some of those AUSL schools (or whatever the abbreviation is) have lots of adultish volunteers from CityYear and other types of formal, financially supported programs. Having another adult or two in a classroom would be a game-changer in most Chicago schools. (But I’m not talking about using the special education teacher for this because as it plays out in CPS,it results in neglected services for the students with disabilities.)

  • 179. Christine  |  February 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    The CPS FACE Team (Family and Community Engagement) has only 10 of 18 persons hired. Want a job with CPS? Send in your resume!

  • 180. SHUT UP ALREADY  |  February 22, 2012 at 11:02 am

    For the love of God, SHUT UP about the longer school day! Just SHUT UP! Your kid can handle 7.5 hours! It doesn’t matter if part of that time is not used wisely. The longer day is coming. Shut up or, better yet, move out of the city! We don’t need you here. Our schools are too crowded already. Now go. Quickly.

  • 181. Joel  |  February 22, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Could you please tell us how you really feel? I’m a bit dense.

  • 182. falconergrad  |  February 22, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Hi Rahm. Nice to see you here even though I did not vote for you. You can’t bully me. Why don’t you go back to Arby’s and try and turn it around?

  • 183. MamaK  |  February 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I grew up in burbs, school year went from end of August to the beginning of June. I dont undertsand why CPS has to be so extreme about things such as the longer school day or adding instructional days to the year?
    I am all for an extended school day, but why does it have to get extended to be one of the longest in the country? Just seems so weird that there is no middle ground on any of the recent decisions CPS has made or will be making.

    I am waiting on my K acceptances in the next month and am so terrified they will make a bunch of changes after the fact or even next year.

    Not only do I have the anxiety of not knowing where my child will go to school, but the changes they make are so unpredictable. Just seems like such a poor inefficient way to operate.

    I love the city and never thought I would leave, but I feel like CPS is really throwing me for a loop. I can be supportive of change but pick a lane and stick with it. Maybe CPS has always been this way and I just never noticed in the past 3 years I have been researching the school process..ha ha.

    I know I know…move to the burbs or send my kid to my neighborhood school, which is not an option unfortunately.

  • 184. Maze Daze  |  February 23, 2012 at 9:26 am

    How likely do you all see a strike happening?

  • 185. Katie  |  February 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

    has anyone got a letter yet?

  • 186. kate  |  February 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    hey, CPS-O…. just realized that you’ve surpassed 1Million hits (probably a while ago) That’s gotta count for somethin’…. thank you providing this blog! We are all better off for it.

  • 187. cpsobsessed  |  February 24, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I know! I wanted to count down the one million hits with great fanfare but I was so bogged down with the house selling that it came and went without my even noticing.

    Anyhow, thanks to all of you for obsessing along with me. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 188. south loop  |  February 25, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I wonder, cpsobsessed, if you could find (in your luxurious amount of spare time – right?) an equally obsessed southside cps mom or dad to help broaden the scope of this important niche blog. Maybe some activist from the 19th ward school-day-length efforts? Then, you could combine the magnificent obsessions of yourself, HScpsobsessed (?), and a southsider-focused parent. The city’s public education obsessed parents need this. I bet you could do it!

  • 189. foureyes  |  February 27, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    There is a problem when CPS will admit that they starve schools of resources (not the SE schools…my school has not much want for much…) but I have seen schools that don’t have books and chalk.
    Can the starved schools do well?

    This is just ‘hot’ off the press… and should be cause for us to think
    (and I imagine question) Would any parent want to be on the ‘wrong side’ of the percent equation.

  • 190. Lincoln overcrowding  |  March 1, 2012 at 8:52 am

    [I apologize for the double post, mis-posted the first time]

    For anyone who is affected:

    A public forum is scheduled this Friday at Alcott Elementary 6pm. The purpose of the forum is for our community to share information and opinions regarding a proposal by CPS (one of many proposals being considered) to merge Alcott and Lincoln Schools for the purpose of solving Lincoln’s over-crowding problem.

    We understand this is a last minute meeting however as a community we wanted to address this issue immediately. Look forward to seeing you there.

  • 191. Concerned Pioneer Parent  |  March 2, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Fellow CPSObsessedians, a new community group has started for parents of Pioneer Schools to share their experiences with the extended day. Please visit our website ( and Facebook page (, and if you’re at a Pioneer School, consider sharing your experiences with us (good/bad/ugly/indifferent). The longer-school-day conversation needs to include voices from across the spectrum, and we need to share our valuable experiences with the broader CPS community. Thanks for your time.

  • 192. HSObsessed  |  March 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Five new “wall to wall” IB high schools announced today

    During a lunch time announcement at Curie, Rahm Emanuel announced that CPS will expand its high school IB program from serving 3,500 currently to serving 6,000 to 7,000 students, including five “wall-to-wall” IB high schools, and five new programs within other schools as well, all by “early 2013”. Emanuel said this is the first expansion of IB in Chicago in 15 years. He spoke about how parents are taking their families to the suburbs instead of staying in the city for high school due to the perceived lack of options, and that this will serve that need. He spoke about how the new all-IB high schools will be another option in addition to charters, the STEM programs, and the SE high schools.

    Lots of questions remain: They didn’t say where the high schools will be, and it may not be determined yet, because they said they would work with aldermen and principals to see where the need is greatest. Not sure if they will phase out the neighborhood programs and phase in all-IB. Not sure if entry will be all-competitive, or if neighborhood kids have automatic entry but must be in the IB program. Not sure if these 10 initiatives are in addition to or instead of the existing programs.

    Hopefully CPS will post documents with details soon.

    Video of the news conference is here.

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