Back to School Observations Sept 2012

September 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm 132 comments

I kinda miss picking out a lunchbox each year.

How did the first day of school go? Fun? Sweet? Chaotic? Bittersweet?

My son is NOT happy about his new FULLER day. Can’t say I’m thrilled about the earlier start time as we are not morning people. I told him to be thankful it wasn’t 7.5 hours, but that didn’t appease him.

Our school will be adding Drama (yay!) and extending the time of our specials a bit. I’d still like a little more time on The Basics – making sure every kid knows their math facts and other things like that. But we will see.

The bus routes at our school were such a mess that to call them a mess insults things that truly are a mess. One girl in my son’s class was on a bus for 2 hours. None of the buses arrived at the school on time and a parent has spent hours on the phone with the bus companies and CPS trying to work it out. It looks like the new start times and bus consolidation could mean some very long commutes for bus-riding kids.

I passed by Amundsen high school and saw a lot of freshmen kids – standing with their parents (gotta feel a little dork about that) and looking all clean and nice in their white shirts and blue pants, as directed. The older kids looked like they’d lost concern about the dress code. Did NOT make me look forward to that first day of high school in (gulp) 5 years.

Speaking of high school, check out ChicagoGPS’ Hidden Gems High School Fair on 9/16:

The Mommy Math Camp I planned to have for my son did not fully come to fruition. We did maybe an hour a week of practicing some basic skills so he’ll feel more ready for this year, but I know it’s still gonna be a struggle. I shoulda made him do more. Next summer, I swear!!

Please share any interesting observations or experiences.

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132 Comments Add your own

  • 1. SutherlandParent  |  September 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Seems to have gone well today, but the kids reported a very short recess, which they were NOT happy about–they feel quite strongly that recess is about the only upside to this whole 7 hour day! But an aide was hired late last week primarily to oversee recess, so I’m hopeful that will improve. We also have a music teacher for the first time in four years, which I am very excited about.

    Hoping they will have more time for lunch as well. Although my kids have finally figured out most other kids have a cafeteria and don’t have to eat at their desks every day, which isn’t helping the parental guilt I feel some days…

  • 2. mcbg  |  September 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    As of 6pm I’m still waiting on bus to bring my child home.dismissal was at 3, but its a new bus company plus they are sharing routes with another school.We live far south and it doesn’t help.Sometimes I wonder if getting my child into a great tycoon at such a commute was worth it, he is only a first grader.The schools in my area are pitiful.

  • 3. EdgewaterMom  |  September 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    @SutherlandParent If it helps, we don’t have a cafeteria either (even though we have a great school). Having to eat at their desks is not ideal, but is not the end of the world. 🙂

    We were lucky in that we already had music and art. It looks like most of our extra time is going to core subjects – and recess. So far, so good.

  • 4. mcbg  |  September 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Oops typo , I meant great rgc not tycoon

  • 5. Cat  |  September 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Our earlier start time was a blessing, but we are morning people, and our start time was painfully late for us before. We’ve moved from 9:20 to 8:45. My daughter would be happier with 8:00 or 8:15!
    A chunk of the extra time at our school is going to be used for reading/math, based on kids’ needs. They are taking assessment/placement tests this week. Apparently they will then divide the kids based on needs to go into math or reading — either to help them get up to the right level or to provide advanced work. My daughter was told by her math teacher at the end of last year that she would be doing first year HS algebra this year in addition to 8th grade math… The teacher today told her that’s what she’ll be doing during that extra period, instead of doubling up during the regular class.
    All classes have an extra 5 min, language arts an extra 10, plus a little extra at lunch/recess.

  • 6. chicagodad  |  September 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Our kids ride the yellow buses. Thanks to CPS’s incompetent budget cuts and redistribution of funds, the extended day is now
    9 1/2 hours long. And they wonder why I support the teachers 1000%

  • 7. northwest side mom  |  September 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Bussing was a mess for us also. 1 hour 45 minutes and we live less than 2 miles from the school. I cannot believe they changed the bussing so much without thinking this through or alerting parents so we could make choices. Also could not get in touch with anyone at the bus company so had no idea where my 10 year old was. I know budgets are tough- so why not reduce the number of pick-up/drop offs and let us choose a location, or ask non-school lunch eligible parents to contribute toward the cost to subsidize.

  • 8. cps alum  |  September 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    @cpsobsessd– I know that this is a little off topic, but since you mentioned it in your blog I thought I would comment.

    No matter how long the school day is extended, no matter how many hours in the day schools devote to math, they just aren’t going to be spending that time on “math facts.” It just isn’t the way things are taught anymore. The rote learning that we had in school (and even more so our parents and grandparents) isn’t the focus today. Whether parents agree or disagree, good or bad, it is just the way teachers are trained, the way the text books are written, and they way the national organizations (NCTM etc) stress best practice. Even the Common Core does not stress the old familiar “memorize” rote form of learning. Kids are going to do a lot more modeling (i.e word problems, explain your thinking etc.).

  • 9. Bella  |  September 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    I would say that most (if not all) of these schools would benefit from some AC!! Lane Tech is a FURNACE!!!! And I’m sure it’s not the only school, either. But other than that, all is well right now…I mean, y’know, for the first day and everything.

  • 10. Mom  |  September 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    We never received a letter from the bus company and it sounds like many routes have changed. Dismissal was a mess and apparently recess and lunch were chaotic too. Hopefully things will start getting better, but I imagine it will take some time given the new administrators and many new teachers at our school.

  • 11. SutherlandParent  |  September 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks, @3 EdgewaterMom! I know lack of a lunchroom really isn’t a big deal–kinda like not having space for a library isn’t the end of the world, either 🙂 I felt the kids were extremely rushed and basically stuck in their classroom all day under the old schedule. So I’ve really got my fingers crossed that the longer day will work out. I think it will for us, but I realize we’re the exception in a lot of ways.

    And since we’re a neighborhood school, bussing is minimal for us. Sounds like some people had a nightmare situation!

  • 12. what a dy  |  September 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Our 1st grade kid was on the bus for 2 hours in the morning, missing the breakfast and 45 minutes of the class. The trip home was also two hours. Her day door to door was over 10 hours!!!
    She only had a 20 minute meal between 6 30a.m. and 5 15p.m. At his point I pack extra food and instruct her to eat on the bus, even thought it is not allowed. Her “moral compass” keeps struggling with breaking the rules, but I think the hunger will win. And calling the board of ed tomorrow to complain.

  • 13. Angie  |  September 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Both kids came home happy today. Their schools already had recess, so the day was only 30 minutes longer. I don’t think they even noticed.

    It’s the third year of busing for the little one, so I know to expect delays for the first week or two while they figure out the routes, explain to new parents that pickup time means that their child needs to be downstairs waiting for the bus, and not just starting to put on their clothes when they see the bus in front of their building, and so on. It will get better in a few days.

  • 14. anonymouse teacher  |  September 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    I am sorry to hear about all the issues that came up today. It has been my experience with CPS and bussing that it gets better in about a week or two and by the third week, things even out for the year. I really hope no child is on the bus for more than an hour.

    I have to say, I am really appreciating my principal today. She made what could have been a nightmare day into a very smooth transition for all of us. I had my lunch break on time, my students had lunch and recess, and she hired a sub to cover for the “specials” teacher that we haven’t been able to hire yet. We didn’t have the issues with staff getting no lunch break and no prep like so many other schools. I have to remember to write my principal a thank you. Today felt really calm.

  • 15. mom2  |  September 4, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    My oldest at Lane likes the extra minute for passing between classes. They really needed that in such a huge school.

    My youngest loved the longer day and couldn’t stop smiling about school. So relieved! They didn’t have to gulp their food down and they had recess right after lunch – a total of 45 minutes. That was nice. The overall schedule looks very well planned at our school, with more time for core subjects and planning for succeeding in school, but we don’t ride the bus. I know every year there are tons of issues with the bus and it seems to take several weeks to work out all the kinks. Something should be done to improve that. We never had extreme issues like these with the bus for day camp. If other places can plan and do it right, why not CPS?

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  September 4, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    There must be something about school busses and cps because every year and now with a new bus company there are the same pains for a few weeks every year.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 17. 60660  |  September 4, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    My kids commute was well over an hour both ways – I know it will get better once the drivers get to know their new routes. Has anyone, CPS?, Traffic Dept?, taken the initiative to extend the no parking hours around schools to reflect the longer day so parents can park for drop off, buses can pull in for picks etc?

  • 18. 1stGradeMom  |  September 4, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    For our Math & Science focused school, the extra time will be great. Kids now have recess, which I truly believe is needed. They also have designated time for computers (1st grade) and a designated day for language. We’re also lucky to be able to walk to school, so no busing issues. My daughter has a 8-year veteran “new” teacher and everything was very exciting and positive. A great 1st day.

  • 19. LDRmom  |  September 4, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    We are at a Pioneer School so the day is actually shorter than it was last year. My kids and I like the shorter (longer) day. My boys complained about being hungry in the morning, but they just need to suck it up. They eat at 12:00 which I think is perfectly normal. Their stomachs just need to adjust from a summer of midmorning snacks.

    They are crazy-in-love with their (conveniently very pretty) teachers. Tonight’s dinner was a competition of whose teacher was more fun and more hilarious. Reminds me of this blog post a friend sent me…

  • 20. dadblogger  |  September 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Same here with the bussing. Our school starts 15min earlier but the bus pickup is now 40min(!) later. Go figure. I talked to the driver and he said he has to run another route before ours now. It will mean my kid now get to school just barely on time and miss out on breakfast. The asst principal also said they are using 2 different bus companies this year, which can only add to the confusion. I’d sure like to know why none of this bus company consolidation/cutback / route-sharing was made clear to parents over the summer. But of course, you’re talking about CPS here.

  • 21. cpsobsessed  |  September 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    While were on the subject of disorganization, was anyone else told that the after-school program contracts were all up in the air as of last friday and had to be legally written or something like that. I guess cps worked during the weekend and it was resolved, but again….last minute.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 22. North Side Mom  |  September 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    This is the first year my kid started kindergarten at a classical school. I do not understand why the school need to be so secretive. There is no communication with school because there is apparently no time. Every time I make a call I feel that they just want to bang the telephone on my face. I can not call to find out if my child received lunch, if they got the lunch money and if they understoodl that it was for the entire week. The school/teacher need exact change, they need seperate notes for everything! God forbid if we decide to drive one day and take the bus next day, the whole system will collaps. God forbid if I give the lunch money for 2 days, that will break their system.They need this and that, and they make it plenty clear but nobody really bothers what I need. I need to know where my child is, I need to know if she has eaten, I need to know if I need to do anything else to make this transition smooth, all I have been told to shut up. The number bus company gave was always engaged and again I can not call the school, they are very very busy. My child was on the bus for 2-hr and finally when it came the driver looked confused and very young. Instructions come later, this is the safety and for the 2 whole hours I did not know where my child is? Is that how it is suppose to be? Yes I am overreacting a bit because I fail to understand how CPS run like this. I am not overbearing mom, I try to make transitions smooth but really I can’t even call to know if she got lunch on her first day in this giant system? If the teachers in CPS don’t even have time to communicate on the first day of school for Kindergarters to ease parent’s anxiety then there is somethign terribly wrong with the system. It will be good that they go for a strike or whatever they wish. Something’s got to give. It is a failed system. I am a legal citizen and I pay my property taxes and all the other taxes. My kid tested and got admission, I am not asking for charity here. I pay my taxes and I am legal citizen here. Something has to change.

  • 23. Paul  |  September 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Things went great. Kids loved the longer day, loved their teachers, and loved their longer enrichment class. I talked to a teacher and some parents. All spoke positively about their day, except for one parent who had a bus nightmare like the ones above.

  • 24. WYoungMom  |  September 4, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Anyone else have rescheduling problems? My sophomore received her schedule on registration day in late August only to be handed a new one today with one of her dearly desired classes dropped. I was told that most of the school had been “reprogrammed” over the last four days because of the longer hours (and the assistant principal told me the addition of 60 kids).
    The programmer was working an inhuman schedule the past few days and was super about being able to clear this all up by the end of the day for my child (luckily for us, there were some late drops from the school).
    The assistant principal, though, told me that 6 classes were what they would schedule normally and that the 7th was not guaranteed, even though the August schedule had her programmed for them. It was very disappointing that the initiative to provide more time in school for kids almost cost my child the class she would have had if this initiative had not been put in.
    Again – the programmer did an incredible job of helping us – but I was dismayed at the Asst. Principal’s statement and the cavalier way we learned of the (for my daughter) major change. I guess I’m really unclear what this is achieving for my child’s school.

  • 25. Silent SouthSider  |  September 4, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    My kindergartner was on his way to the bus when we got to school today. (the bus kids leave 5 minutes before parent pick up – thankfully, we were early!!) And he WILL NOT be taking the bus!!! Somehow, his name was “on the list” I don’t know why because we didn’t sign him up. We would have been besides ourselves if he was stuck on a bus for 2 hours!! (yes, we are overprotective) My son had a great frost day – but he was disappointed not to be getting on thebus…”I’ve never been on a bus before…I want to go on a field trip” we explained tat when the bus is going on a field trip he can ride it, but not today!!!

  • 26. mamajama  |  September 4, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    So far so good for us, more time for core subjects but now my kids get art, music and dance instead of only art OR music so it seems positive so far!

  • 27. Not surprised at anything in CPS  |  September 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Make sure your bus driver has been fingerprinted……a background check is important….don’t rely on the company’s word….CPS DOES NOT do background checks because the drivers are not CPS employees…..

  • 28. EdgewaterMom  |  September 4, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    @22 North Side Mom

    I am really sorry that you had such a frustrating day. However, I can imagine that it would be really difficult for the teacher to call parents during the day to let them know what happened at lunch. At our school, there are about 30 kids in each class and there is no way that a teacher would have time to do that!

    Did something happen that made you think that your child did not get lunch? Hopefully your child did get lunch and things will go more smoothly tomorrow!

  • 29. coonleymom  |  September 4, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I heard another horror story about a mom who went to the bus stop to pick up her child in the afternoon and he was not on the bus. Apparently, he wasn’t on “the list,” and although they realized the mistake back at the school when no one picked him up, the parent was not called. I didn’t send my kids on the bus today, and won’t until the bus company can provide a reasonable commute time–say under one-and-a-half hours. I keep calling the bus company and CPS, hoping they will report a sensible pick-up time or at least a commitment to fixing this problem. We need to keep pressing CPS to take these bussing issues seriously or they won’t.

    On the up side, I love the t

  • 30. chitownmama  |  September 4, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    I don’t understand why in a 7 hour day for elementary school, there still is only time for 20 minutes of recess. We had two recesses and went outside to play at lunch time as well. Why is it possible in suburban schools to have gym, art, music, and recess in a 6.5 (or even 6.25) hour day?

    I feel really bad for any children starting full-day kindergarten this year. It was a really tough transition from PreK to K with a just-less-than 6 hour day; 7 must be brutal.

    I’m so depressed that this is the amazing educational “improvement” that the CPS administration got behind instead of something that is of known benefit.

  • 31. cps alum  |  September 4, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    @30– I talked to my cousin yesterday whose son is a 5th grader in Glenview. He has a 6 hr 35 minute day. 1 hour for lunch/recess daily and PE every day. He has music and art every week.

  • 32. inedgewater  |  September 5, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Both the 1st and the 4th grader had good days. The little one was luckier as her southern facing classroom had two AC units installed a few weeks ago. The older one complained that all they had was one ‘stupid fan’ in his room. Maybe this year we can raise more $$ for new wiring and more ACs. Our school’s extra time is going to reading/math as we are at an arts magnet school. My son even had piano class today. They both said that the day went quickly.

  • 33. new magnet mom  |  September 5, 2012 at 5:35 am

    My son started kindergarten yesterday and the only positive thing I could coax out of him was that he liked his lunch. 😦 I feel so worried and sad because I made a hard decision to choose this school for him because I thought the teaching style and subjects were going to fit him so well. Thought he’d love the first day, maybe first week, then go through a bumpy period as the long day caught up with him. Now I’m wondering, was I wrong? How will we get through the “bumpy period” if he doesn’t even like going when he’s well rested in the beginning? Am I overreacting amidst all the stories of how much all the other kids loved their day/teacher/class?

  • 34. brenda  |  September 5, 2012 at 5:41 am

    We had a great first day (back) at an RGC, although I have never been so happy to be a “walker” in my life. The buses were a mess as is usual in the fall. That will probably all get straightened out, but it’s nice not to have to deal with it.

  • 35. anonymouse teacher  |  September 5, 2012 at 6:07 am

    @33, I teach kindergarten and both my own kids have gone to K. Hang in there. Kindergarten can be a difficult transition. Just because the first few weeks were hard, doesn’t mean he won’t end up loving it. My daughter came home pretty grumpy about 3/5 days a week the entire year, even though she liked school. My current classroom asks pretty much the entire day “what time is lunch?” or “when can I go home?” This is normal for kindergarten. If you can avoid the whole bus thing for a few weeks (not sure if you bus) try to do that. It can be hard to watch your child struggle, but wait a month and see if things get better. Chances are, his teachers see it too and are doing their best to help him through it.

  • 36. northwest side mom  |  September 5, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Regarding the bussing- my concern is that it won’t get worked out. My 2 kids have taken the bus for a total 12 years between the 2 of them – so we have had plenty of “first day” chaos. I think there is some of this reflected in the times mentioned, but that most of this is related to the new combined routes, which we (and the the schools) were not informed of until last week. I don’t have huge hope that times will change radically. My 10 year old who spent 1 hour 45 minutes on the bus (we live 1.6 miles from our school) and was the second child dropped off on his route – the first stop was going to a second school to pick up a second set of kids. I know we are lucky to get bussing- but to change the system like this right before school when parents have few choices is unfair. We will likely teach him to walk home (2 working parents)- but he will then walk alone and be crossing multiple very busy streets w/ no crossing gaurd. These are not fair choices to have to make after school has started.

    On a brighter note- LSD went well- school was organized, lots of specials this year (art, music, computer, language, logic, gym, library, and character ed!). Disappointed that the bussing issue put a cloud over what would have been a good day.

  • 37. Teacher4321  |  September 5, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Other than the oppressive heat, our day went pretty well. Looks like there is a large storm on the horizon, that could change things.

  • 38. StoneMom  |  September 5, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Stone was organized chaos. Kids very excited. Lot of parents waiting outside with kids, seemed to be excited, too. Teachers friendly and welcoming.

    K – 2 will receive the following more minutes with the longer day:
    Reading: 0
    Math: 60
    Science: 75
    Social Studies: 75
    Fine Arts: 45
    Spanish: 45
    Recess: 75 (huge smile!)

    Grades 3 – 8 are all different.

  • […] TO SCHOOL / STRIKE Back to School Observations Sept 2012 cpsobsessed: My son is NOT happy about his new FULLER day. Can’t say I’m thrilled about the […]

  • 40. Mich  |  September 5, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I don’t think my daughter even noticed that the day was longer but there were kindergartners lying on the floor in aftercare. These are kids who were tuition-based pre-K so they’re used to being at the building this length of time but not in class that length of time.
    We noticed the homework right away, and they’re doing assessments immediately. Haven’t heard what extra class we’re getting, hoping perhaps something tech-based as we have a full complement of arts already.

  • 41. Peter  |  September 5, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Our kids enjoyed their first day, k and 2nd graders. School was organized and ready to go. Kids and parents milling about with excitement.

  • 42. Northside Mom  |  September 5, 2012 at 8:48 am

    @ 28 EdgewaterMom

    Thank you for listening.

    Yes, I understand that it is tough to do it for ALL kids, that would not be right. I am only talking about the kids starting KG and the very first day of new school, new teacher, new everything. I won’t be interested in calling 1 week down the line. I am not expecting them to call everybody but at the least they can answer to the moms of the kindergarteners who are calling in. KG has typically 30 students so on an average each school gets 30 new kids so 30 calls may be.

    To all the parents worried about longer day – I just don’t seem to get it.. My child was going to daycare for about 8-9 hrs each day. What is the big deal with full-day school? They are with other kids, doing fun things together. What is the big deal? In fact, I am happy because I need to work 8 hours and this is just right, I don’t have to enroll in after school and she is back home when I am. She gets enough time to do homework, play a little, read a little and go to bed.

    I don’t get it.

  • 43. brenda  |  September 5, 2012 at 9:05 am

    But did you call daycare and ask if your kid had lunch? I guess I just don’t get the calling.

  • 44. CPS Parent  |  September 5, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Our first day for our new classical school (2nd grade) went well. He had recess and two specials. My child is NOT bussed and after reading, I am very happy with that decision.

  • 45. Chris  |  September 5, 2012 at 9:44 am

    “I am not expecting them to call everybody but at the least they can answer to the moms of the kindergarteners who are calling in. KG has typically 30 students so on an average each school gets 30 new kids so 30 calls may be.”

    But you do understand that you were calling the office, which deals with the whole school, and asking about a child in a classroom someplace else in the building? And that there isn’t a reasonable staffing situation where someone checks off whether the K kids ate their lunch or not?

    I’m not saying it wasnt a reasonable concern, but I just don’t think that being upset that the school couldn’t accomodate responding to your concnern is reasonable.

  • 46. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 5, 2012 at 10:13 am

    #24~WyoungMom~I heard that many of the selective HS had problems w/programming. I know at WY some kids had completely diff schedules than from when they registered and some classes were dropped. The registrar did a wonderful job accommodating all the students and I believe some kids won’t get their actual schedule until Thursday~having 2 do w/seminars and the longer day. I don’t think the longer day is achieving anything but being in school longer for SEHS.

  • 47. RL Julia  |  September 5, 2012 at 10:18 am

    To all the Kindergarten parents, I remember it is super stressful on the parent but most schools have a system for kindergarten which sort of is based on excluding the parents at least for the first two weeks or so which allows the majority of the kids to make the transition. In my neighborhood school in addition to the 30 kindergarten parents (x2.5 because that’s how many classrooms they have so really more like 75) they also had to process 15 new students who just showed up and a couple more who were transferring elsewhere. I know it is a hard time for you but try and be patient with the school. Your child will be fine – even if they cried all day and were completely miserable or didn’t eat their lunch or were worried or hated it – they are (most likely) in the hands of a compassionate, capable educator who has seen it all before and will be able to handle it. Spend your energy on the bus schedule (which does take weeks of calling and yelling).

  • 48. RL Julia  |  September 5, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Two kids in two new schools so the longer day didn’t really register. Didn’t even bother with the bus for my daughter (it was just going to stress/infuriate me) she took the CTA with her father. Rode bikes with my son. My daughter loved school. Made 3,000 new best friends and loved, loved, loved all her classes (a little worried that the only classes she mentioned were dance, home ec. (which is somehow noted on her schedule as Urban Studies) and math – I mean, I know she went to others but apparently they were just filler as far as she is concerned) and spent the evening finding, organizing, naming, labeling, coloring the all-important binders and then trying to jam them into ONE bag.
    Son was non-committal about school which I think means he liked it (I am far from fluent in 14 year old boy language). I was just happy because he remembered to re-friend an autistic classmate (who was terrified about going to a new school) and eat lunch with him. He didn’t need binders. He needed folders.
    (Ex-?) Neighborhood school had a great first day – all the new lunch monitors showed up and the teachers were really happy to have 45 minutes to themselves in the middle of the day (at least that was the report) to actually have a minute to regroup.

  • 49. Paul  |  September 5, 2012 at 10:34 am

    The transition to school for the first time is a tough one, and it seems harder for the parents than the kids, in most cases. Transitioning from a day care or small preschool where parents get a lot of attention to a large school where there just isn’t time for the teachers and staff to provide that attention is difficult. Unfortunately, you have to just get with the program and adjust to the way things work. It’s a little overwhelming, but things do work out in the end, and the kids are fine.

    Generally speaking, I think it’s healthy for kids to learn how to adjust to a large class and school environment. I’m concerned about the kids who are homeschooled, unschooled, or in very small class settings and provided nearly unlimited amounts of personal attention. They may have a hard time when they grow up and haven’t learned to adapt and operate in typical environments. That’s not to say that smaller classes and more peronal attention isn’t needed for many kids, but I don’t think it’s necessary for most.

  • 50. cpsobsessed  |  September 5, 2012 at 11:18 am

    The parents from my son’s school who have been talking to the bus people at cps have been told that 80-90 minutes each way for Options routes should not be unexpected this year because of consolidation of routes.


    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 51. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  September 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Wow! These busing stories sound like a nightmare. I would be cursing like a demon if my kid was on a bus for 2 hours before school starts.

    @42 There is no way the school clerk or the teacher can call 30 parents just to tell them whether their kid had lunch. The assumption must be that the child was fed and that the school would call you if there was a problem. That said, I understand the concern that the child might not be fed due to confusion over whether the lunch money had been received.

    To all the parents worried about longer day – I just don’t seem to get it.. My child was going to daycare for about 8-9 hrs each day. What is the big deal with full-day school?

    So was my child, but only 3-4 hours of that was instructional. The children had two recesses and plenty of unstructured playtime in a Montessori preschool. Roughly 6 of the 7 hours is meant to be instructional at CPS elementary now.

    As for first day at our school (Mayer), things appeared to go well. We have AC in all classrooms now (thanks to parent donations and state requirements for preK-K rooms). What is happening with our “full” day remains unclear: one of our Spanish teachers decided to start her own business, so our plan to have more Spanish apparently got nixed. I’m not sure what is going to happen now.

  • 52. SR  |  September 5, 2012 at 11:51 am

    @33 – I had the same fear last year (put kid in RGC, he didn’t seem to enjoy school, wondered if another school would have been better) but I’ve realized that he’s just one of those kids who isn’t going to be enthusiastic about school for now. My son also seemed to warm up to things slowly throughout the year, including the other kids, and by the end of the year he was relatively happy. I hope your son has an even better experience.

    I’m so glad I decided not to follow up on busing after we didn’t get our yellow postcard. We can swing drop offs and pick ups for another year, and maybe next year it will be less chaotic.

  • 53. sen  |  September 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Our morning pick up time is 103 minutes prior to the school start time. Then a 7 hour day. Then if we are lucky an hour ride home. This is a ten hour day for children who did not need a longer day. CPS motto seems to be TOO BAD, deal with it. Now I know how the teachers feel and why they are so angry, why include parents and teachers in the discussion? Kids first my a**!!! For some parents driving every day is not an option. I took off this week because I knew the bus would be a joke. I did not think the joke would be on me.

  • 54. cpsobsessed  |  September 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    My son is the same as SR’s… definitely took a while to warm up to school. My triumph on day 1 was that he didn’t beg me to go back to his private preK (where his friends remained for kindergarten.) His teacher was a dream, luckily, which helped a lot. Kind and funny and accepting. great classroom management too.

    I think the first week is tough (especially at 7 hours.) Second week will be better. I think by week 3 they feel at home there and by late Fall they’ll be “experts” on the school.

    Paranoia speaking here, but make sure that if your kid ever gets locked out of the building, they know where to go and what button to press. I’ve heard stories of it happening once or twice among the “organized chaos.” Classroom goes in from recess, one kid was off in the bush…

    You DO need to accept a certain amount of chaos in CPS. But I think if you choose your school carefully (to the extent possible) you will feel comfortable trusting your kids in the hands of the staff. I felt very lucky Tuesday morning as I saw all the staff eagerly welcoming the kids, knowing that the school is full of good, smart, caring adults.

  • 55. falconergrad  |  September 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    North Side Mom
    Our school usually has at least 100 students, not 30. I think your expectations are unreasonable.

    Longer day was okay by us. We have 1000+ enrollment so outside before and after school is always chaos. My 1st grade daughter thought the day went fast and she said it did not seem longer than last year. She did complain about a very short recess and lunch. She seemed pleased, as are we, that she had Drama class. They have also added art.

    A while back I wondered if they would change the street signs to extend parking restrictions. I am not sure it would matter by us as parents park all along those areas anyway. I am going to try to remember to check the signs later.

  • 56. cpsobsessed  |  September 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I believe the no-parking signs go until 4:30 pm. Not sure about start time.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 57. new magnet mom  |  September 5, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you @35 anonymouse, @52 SR, cpsobsessed and others for chiming in on your experiences with kids who had slow or rocky starts. Today he did not want me to leave him there (like when he began preK!) but I am confident as time goes by he will adjust and be happy there. All the stories and advice really helped assuage my worries.

  • 58. truly an extended day  |  September 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Now this is truly an extended day! 4 hours on the bus. Kudos to you, CPS. Maybe CPS can start calling that “before and after care”. Or put teachers on the buses and make that a part of the school day.

  • 59. RL Julia  |  September 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    My son cried or moped every morning of Kindergarten until February. One day in kindergarten when he knew there was going to be a sub, he got so upset he broke out in hives (that was fun, I still made him go to school). Be strong!

  • 60. Paul  |  September 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    And don’t you just love all the back to school paperwork? I thought it was hilarious when my son, a second-grader, insisted on reading the Student Code of Conduct and behavior expectations before he signed. Like father like son. I remember the horror on the faces of the realtors and lawyers when I insisted on reading the paperwork before I signed the documents at my condo’s closing.

  • 61. amazed  |  September 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I just cannot imagine letting my children spend hours on a bus each day. Is it really worth it to you? If you’re that dependent on cps, what will you do in a strike situation?

  • 62. cpsmama  |  September 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    @22- It sounds like your daughter is at Decatur (secretive was the clue). Rest assured, she will be fed regardless of the lunch money issue. And many students pay for school lunch some days but not others – and the teachers know how to handle it.

    I understand that you want to know how your child’s first day went, but it really isn’t realistic to expect a call from the teacher during the school day. And the office staff really has no idea whether your child ate or not. I suggest that you call & leave a message for the teacher to call you when he/she has time. Or send an email. Response will probably take 24 hrs. The school or teacher will call you if there is a problem- so no news is good news.

    I remember feeling completely out of the loop when my oldest child was a kindergartener at Decatur. Partly due to needing to cut the proverbial cord and partly due to the gosh-darn secrecy of the place. Everything became much more clear after the parent night so, hang in there 🙂

    Tip: if you can stay at the playground after drop off, you will be able to chit chat with other parents which will, hopefully, lessen your worries. Good luck

  • 63. Patricia  |  September 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    All my kids school days went well. The schools seem to be using the extra time well. Two of the schools are using for intervention/acceleration and grouping across grades by levels based on needs that they will monitor over the year. Really smart way to add time to schools that already had well rounded enrichment. The other—I do not know exactly how the time is used yet, but of course that is from my child who is notorious for having very few words about his school day.

    One bus like clockwork, the other never showed up. I know it will smooth out after the first week, but most parents (including me) need therapy sessions for the initial bus strife. I am not a fan of long bus rides, but my kids are. They socialize and a comraderie gets established over the school year with kids from different grade levels. One of my kids described it as, “I have a playdate with my bus friends every day on the bus.” Oh… be young and go with the flow!

    Interesting comments from above with the kids saying recess was short. “Time flies when you are having fun.”

    @Paul, LOL about your “eagle eye” 2nd grader. Well, we now know that at least ONE child has read the CPS Code of Conduct 😉

  • 64. falconergrad  |  September 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    bad typo – our school usually has at least 100 students entering kindergarten every year.

  • 65. cpsmama  |  September 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Yikes!- the lengths of some of these bus rides are insane!

    Here are a couple of old bus horror stories to pass the time…..

    (1) Many years ago a friend’s 6 yr old daughter fell asleep on a bus and ended up in the busyard where she awoke in a locked bus around 5:30 pm (School ended at 2:00). She was OK, but her parents were (rightfully) insane with worry and, then anger.

    (2) As a 7th grade at WYAC, my child had the first pick up at 6:00 am from far NW side. School started at 7:15 & they would normally arrive by 7:00. My child fell asleep on bus and when awoke at 7:30, they hadn’t picked up any other children and were not yet at WY! They were somewhere on the west side with a new bus driver who had no idea where she was or how to get to WY. My child & the other kids who were picked up at the first stop eventually got to WY at around 8:30 am. (I assume the kids at the other stops got there too, but I don’t know how), It was a nightmare! I was so glad my child had a cell phone. Needless to say, it was a day of angry calls and emails to school and bus company for me!

    In my 12+ yrs of CPS bus experience, the bus routes and times are usually ironed out after a week or 2. Good luck to all who need bus service to make their kids education work. It will get better.

  • 66. SEN  |  September 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    @61 Yes the bus is worth the school they go to. My point was that CPS does not think things through before they institute change that can have such a big impact on the children. 103 minutes is not reasonable. If they strike(which I would support) I would do what I did in the summer. I am not dependent on CPS, I expect more and will advocate for things that need to be changed. Thank you for your concern.

  • 67. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  September 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Two points to keep in mind about the 7-hour day and academic offerings are that the schools have most of the time pre-set by CPS and the teachers in the school must work their full hours. For example, let’s say that a school would prefer to offer music twice a week. But, if that would leave a librarian with 45 minutes untaught for the week, then music twice a week would not be possible. Teachers must have 4 hrs 36 mins of instruction. The mechanics of the schedule sets the offerings that are possible.

    The schools only have 110 (1st & 2nd grade) or 90 (3-8) minutes per day to allocate subjects other than literacy, math, science, and social science. So for most students, 90 minutes is all there is to cover art, music, drama, foreign language, library, gym, and health as well as “academic intervention” and “social emotional learning & behavioral interventions.”

  • 68. db  |  September 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    First day back went great yesterday, she came home happy and excited. Her school had already moved to the 6 1/2 hour day last year so the time adjustment this year was minimal. Loves her 1st grade teacher and talked at length about the new dance teacher. She already had library, music, art, multicultural studies and gym but now a lot more frequently. Drop off seemed smooth and controlled. I’m happy so far.

  • 69. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  September 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    @62 Yes, secretive indeed. When I was on a tour, I asked the principal for a sample of a night’s 2nd grade homework. I was told that it would not be possible to obtain — not even by leaving my email or returning at some other time. There was no way for me to get it. I can only assume that 2nd grade homework contains classified national security information.

  • 70. Mayfair Dad  |  September 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Based on our experience with Mayfair Son, the bus service totally blows for the first two weeks, then is only mildly annoying for the balance of the school year. This is an annual affair. We were able to have his pick-up/drop off location changed to the neighborhood school 200 yards away – we just ground down on the principal and bus company with emails and phone calls until they relented. It turned out to be a much better solution for several kids on the route. Our son was also involved in a car/bus collision and went to the ER; we didn’t hear about it until he called us from the hospital. Mayfair Mom went batshit, I’m sure they are still talking about her at the bus company.

  • 71. rp mom  |  September 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    My daughter’s first of first grade day went as well as we could have hoped. She attends a neighborhood school from which we live a bit too far to walk so I drive her, but am so sorry for everyone dealing with the bussing debacle! Drop off was chaotic with all the kid/parent goodbyes and school supply drop offs, but the teachers were calm and coordinated, so that set me at ease. She quickly found her line and was off on her new adventure (it certainly helps that she had a fantastic K year at this school to build upon). I am not actually clear on how her school will use the longer day, either they haven’t communicated or I was supposed to have attended a LSC, “Friends Of” or other similar committee meeting that I managed to miss. I did get the sense that the day didn’t go perfectly smoothly – apparently there was no special (gym, art, music, library, can’t remember the 5th) and the teacher wasn’t sure there would be one today either – my assumption is that they are trying to schedule it all out still.

    For those of you that had some struggles – I hope things improve in the coming weeks!

  • 72. cpsmama  |  September 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Email rec’d from JCB:

    Dear CPS Parents, Guardians and Caregivers:

    Please join me and members of my team tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 6, at 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., for a discussion about the details of “Children First,” a plan that will provide the essential services your children need in the event of a Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike. Call 888-886-6602, and then input 19760 followed by the # (pound) sign when prompted.

    While this plan is merely a precaution, we will be prepared to provide your children with food, a safe environment and positive activities to keep them engaged, should the CTU choose to strike.

    We hope you can join us for our discussion on Thursday where we can answer questions you might have about this plan. Additionally, continue to check our website, or call our hotline at 773-553-1000 for the latest news and updates.

  • 73. NBCT Vet  |  September 5, 2012 at 7:41 pm


    I found out today that though the Board agrees in the current contract that they will *try* to make textbooks and curricular materials available in the first week of school I won’t actually receive them until week 3 at the earliest.

    Well, I guess they made an effort. That probably counts for something. I think.

  • 74. cpsobsessed  |  September 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I’m sorry, what is so friggin hard about getting books there on time?? I mean other than bureacracy and doing things at the last minute…

    (I’m grumpy this evening if that isn’t apparent.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 75. NBCT Vet  |  September 5, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    And, not to be a downer, but it’s been a rough start so far.

    One of my students was raped on her way to school, one was beaten badly after school, and one attempted suicide over the weekend.

    It’s safe to say my classes are a little on edge.

  • 76. NBCT Vet  |  September 5, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Oh, and one was dropped off at the fire department by his mother who decided she didn’t want him any more.

    And these students are all in the same class.

    They come to me when the you-know-what hits the fan because this over compensated, under worked hack and Union thug provides the only stability they have in their lives.

    I guess I’m feeling a little grumpy, too, CPSO.

  • 77. EdgewaterMom  |  September 5, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    @NVCT Vet. That is ridiculous that they cannot manage to get you the books on time. I think that they people responsible for purchasing the text books need to be held accountable. It is not like they are getting a discount for buying them late! Is there 1 department responsible for purchasing text books, or is it up to somebody at each school? Somebody is not doing their job!

    I am so sorry to hear about everything else that your students are dealing with! What a rough week! I am glad that you are there for them – but I really wish they also had other resources.

  • 78. NBCT Vet  |  September 5, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Thanks for the kind words EdgewaterMom. We don’t have a full time social worker or psychologist so it’s pretty tough to get these kids the services they need.

    I think, as with most problems in CPS, there are local challenges, often but not always the result of poor leadership, that are exacerbated or even caused by higher level policy and administrative obstacles.

    [Probably more appropriate for the contract thread]
    In my experience CPS doesn’t really do much unless they are forced to – by politicians, parents, or the Union. There really isn’t anything besides the CTU, pushing the Board to provide textbooks (or reasonable staffing, for that matter) in a timely fashion. Though the Union is the best informed on the most important issues and therefore able to advocate fiercely based on the realities in the schools, they are also the party least likely to influence CPS policy.

  • 79. Northside Mom  |  September 5, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    @45 Chris, Brenda and everybody who were kind enough to comment on my comment.

    I never said that school need to ‘call the parents’, I only expect the school to ‘answer’ a call when a concerned parent makes the call. I expect this because I feel I should at least know this on the very first day of the class. If as a parent I am not suppose to know this, then I won’t bother making the call. If I would have send the lunch myself, I would not have bothered. And Brenda, in the daycare, I could call any time of the day and could call directly to teacher in the room the child is in. So, yes it is a big change when the only place I can call now is the office and they can’t tell me about my child. They only deal with administrative stuff and I can get that info on the outdated website which does not get updated until the last minute. I am in customer service field where in I talk to angry students and believe me I can take 60 calls a day if efficiently done. When something goes live ( which would be similar to the first day of school) we expect LOT of calls and we prepare for that. Again I am thinking that is not the scope of work of the administrative staff. I wonder what is the scope of work?

    Well, what is reasonable in your opinion Chris? I should just wait for my kid to come home and then ask her if she ate, the purpose is defeated at that point. It is not only about lunch I guess. There is no uniformity across the public school. Different school, different rules. Each school do things their own way. As a parent, I am scared of the school environment, not sure what to ask, what not to ask. Who will snub me, who will give me the answer. Should I even be asking the questions? If I ask something they don’t like, will they take it out on my kid? Is this how we should function?

    Is there is some clear assignment of duties and responsibilities? What the teachers and the administrative staff getting paid for, what they should and should not do because I just want them to do what they are getting paid for. If I know that they are not suppose to answer any question about the child I won’t! I will just wait for their call.

  • 80. Beth Ann  |  September 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Dear NorthSide Mom,

    Welcome to the Chicago Public Schools!

    I am responding to your comment based on my experience as a CPS parent for the last 12 years.

    I, too, think that your expectations are unreasonable. I find it unreasonable to ask the office staff to check on whether or not 30-100 kindergarteners have had lunch or not on the busiest day of the school year. If the staff has to run to the classrooms to check on the students, how will they answer all the phone calls? Also, they are not customer service representatives. They are administrative clerks who have an incredible amount of computer data processing to do on a daily basis. I can see parents calling about problems with student transportation, but “did my child eat lunch” is a bit much. Also, I do not think that the fact that the teachers did not communicate this information leads to the conclusion that the school or the teachers are being secretive. Teachers are so busy that they often do not have time to go to the bathroom. They have to keep their eyes on their students; they likely do not have time to report to the office staff about the details of the day as it is occurring in real time. Many positions have been cut in schools across the city, doubling some teachers’ responsibilities.

    Also, you make that point that you are a legal citizen, you pay property taxes, etc., etc. Even if parents are not legal citizens and do not own property, children are still entitled to quality public education. I don’t see the connection between your concern and your citizenship or tax-paying status.

    Please give the school a break and some time to iron out the rough edges of the beginning of the school year. I am sure you will find many reasons to praise your child’s school and teachers in the coming years. Good luck to you and your child.

  • 81. Northside Mom  |  September 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    @ Beth Ann

    Since you have a lot of experience perhaps you should list the legitimate questions to ask on the first day of school. That would really help me.

    What not to ask by Beth Ann – experienced CPS mom.

  • 82. Patricia  |  September 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    @ NBCT vet. The book thing is concerning. Of course, the plight of your students is so troubling and I agree they are so lucky to have you but wish there were other adults engaged.

    Is the book delay an annual event? I think I remember it is. I would understand if the book/curriculum delay was due to the new common core recently adopted by 48 states. i read an article about how the HS senior year HS text books DO NOT align with 1st year college texts. They have become 2 years apart due to NCLB dummying down of the curriculum. So this has caused colleges (espeically community colleges) to spend the first year or two trying to get the students to “college level”.

    Back to the point of this thread. Day 2, much better. BOTH bus routes showed up. The route times decreased dramatically on the ride home. One pick up will be pushed back 20 minutes (YEAH!). My one child said the day flew by………..the other was upset that her 10:30 lunch last year was moved to 11:15. Oh the horror! (of a lunch instead of 2nd breakfast 😉 What will she be like as a teenager!!!!!!!!!

  • 83. LR  |  September 6, 2012 at 12:16 am

    My daughter’s day is only 30 minutes longer this year. She is not normally a complainer, but today, when I picked her up she asked if she could watch a movie. I told her she had to do her homework first and she said, “Mom, I’m just really tired.” And she did look tired. I asked if she thought she might be getting ill. She said, “No, I just want to lay down.” This is really out of character for her and I’m hoping it goes away once we get back into the rhythm of being in school again. But, we’ll see. Thankfully, my son has had no issues adjusting to a 7:45 start and new school. My husband has been taking him on the CTA bus in the morning. I kind of freaked when I heard it is 40 minutes (the drive is normally 20 minutes from our house), but comparatively, it sounds like we are doing ok. The 2.5 hour one-way commute horror stories I have heard from his classmates have solidified my decision to drive in the afternoon.

  • 84. anonymouse teacher  |  September 6, 2012 at 12:17 am

    @NBCT Vet, Just a thank you for the steady presence you provide for your students. Many teachers end up with compassion fatigue and PTSD so please take care of yourself too.

  • 85. west rogers park mom  |  September 6, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Things are going well for my 8th grader Taftie so far. She is a bit bummed that her school switched bus companies and the beloved driver who gave them candy, had ‘quiet mornings’, engaged with the kids and let them listen to B96 is gone due to a new bus company. But the good news is the bus comes later this year so she can get a bit more sleep. Every little bit counts !

    She’s also a bit disappointed that her elective class is small this year- but who can complain about a CPS class with 8 kids in it? ISAT scores are obtained and respectable. We are not completely out of the box for selective enrollment.

    She is getting home around 30 min later because of the extended day. That’s more of an adjustment for me who is used to the afternoon call from her saying she’s home safe and sound and getting a run down of her day.

    4th grader on the other hand- – – different post and different story

  • 86. mommyrants  |  September 6, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I’m cutrious what your kids class sizes are. My daughter’s 3rd grade is 36 kids. (She had under 25 the last 2 years.) We are 0 for 2 on the bus showing up.

  • 87. west rogers park mom  |  September 6, 2012 at 9:06 am

    My 4th grader is having a breakdown over the bussing situation, some crazy rules that new to school teacher is imposing, and general exhaustion. Her bus ride this morning was reduced to 1 hr 40 minutes today so I guess we can call that progress?

    The jury is still out for her new homeroom teacher based on my limited contact so far. My kid was upset that she had to eat lunch at her classroom table and not with her friends on the first day. Apparently the teacher is conducting drills so they will go from classroom to classroom quietly, which seems crazy to me for 4th grade kids who have been in school for 5 years now. We did enjoy reading the teacher’s welcome home letter last night and identifying the numerous typos and grammatical errors.

    No homework or anything like that yet. I really do love her school and hope that once the bus times are reduced and the teacher gets in the swing of things all will be well.

  • 88. RL Julia  |  September 6, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Northside Mom:
    This is what I would ask/say:
    Hi, I am x’s mom. We are both so excited and nervous about kindergarten. How can I help you? Also, I am really concerned about my daughter eating her lunch. Who is the best person for me to talk to about this – and what time is the best time for me to contact them? Mostly, because this transition is so important to everyone, please let me know the best way to help and support you. I know you must be really busy now, how about I check in with you every Wednesday?

  • 89. inedgewater  |  September 6, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Horror story from K from a few years ago regarding the bus ride from a RGC on the side side to the north side: took 2+ hours to get home for a week and then I drove. I drove in the am as it was a straight shot down LSD then the Ryan. I tried it again a few weeks later and it was still 2 hours. I quit the bus. I rearranged my schedule and I drove back and forth. This was the reason we pulled my kid OUT of RGC. Initially we had hoped to move closer but then the housing market crashed and well, you know the rest…..

  • 90. db  |  September 6, 2012 at 9:31 am

    @86 mommyrants – My dd’s 1st grade class is 22 kids.

  • 91. SutherlandParent  |  September 6, 2012 at 9:39 am

    The kids have had music (woo hoo!) and recess seems to be going well (another woo hoo!). I’ve heard frustration around the fact that our kids go from 8:45-3:45. I guess our principal chose not to appeal that time and is insisting there is nothing she could have done about it. I’m not as bothered by it, but that late ending time is really putting a crimp on afterschool activities for some kids.

    And just some more thanks to @NBCT vet!

  • 92. cpsmama  |  September 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    NBCT Vet- it is heartbreaking to hear of your students’ violence & abandonment issues. 😦 It is hard for people (myself included) to comprehend the vastly different lives of some kids who, often live only a few miles away. You witness it every day. My thanks to you and other CPS teachers like you who are there for your students 🙂

  • 93. Peter  |  September 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    NBCT Vet, I am so sorry to hear of those stories. Those are not problems for teachers to deal with to any great extent. That’s a break down of society.

  • 94. Northside Mom  |  September 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    @ RL Julia

    Thanks much. It is not even a concern anymore now that I was able to speak to my daughter. It was just the first day, I don’t want to bother the office anymore. All I wanted the first day is to know the process. I don’t want them to check on my kid everyday, I am not that kind of mom. I am learning about the CPS and was not sure how the lunch will be handled.Just the first day, first lunch.

    Anyways, your post is nice but I am sure that they won’t have the time to listen to that as well :-).. from the way I have had some conversation earlier this summer, 1 liner is max that they have time to hear.

    I have already taken a lot of time and I think I should just be quiet and be done with the school year.

  • 95. monica  |  September 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    northside mom, I feel your pain about the huge transition between daycare and school. It was hard for me, too, to have no one to ask, no one to answer my questions, and just get zero back in terms of ‘how the day went’. It got easier as my chlld got older, and i think the same will be true for you, too. Don’t be hard on yourself for being a caring mom; if anything your child is one of the lucky ones to have a loving mom.

  • 96. falconergrad  |  September 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    just a tip for first timers – if possible send them with a lunch on the first day. one less thing to worry about and then they have something to eat on a long bus ride if necessary. so pack extra!

  • 97. If you are still looking for 1st grade seat  |  September 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Prescott called yesterday with a 1st grade spot. Said that there were multiple spots.

  • 98. Coonley 1st grade Options opening  |  September 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    We just declined an offer for Coonley’s 1st grade Options program. Board of Education called us yesterday and we had 24 hours to decide. I thought they were calling to talk to us about our busing complaint. The offer was a complete shocker. We toured it this morning, we really liked it but we are staying at Skinner N.

  • 99. HotMomma  |  September 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Northside Mom: I suspect that we have Ks at the same “secretive” school. I usually try to avoid posting much, but I feel your pain- I’m jumping in here so that perhaps everyone will give you a break. I’ve had four less-than-stellar experiences with administration myself, & three occurred just this week. Other CPS schools that I’ve experienced with my brood have been so much more welcoming.

    The parents have been great, however. Stick with them, and certainly talk to your assigned mentor. I’m told it gets easier!

  • 100. Chris  |  September 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    @86 mommyrants – 3d grade with 26.

  • 101. db  |  September 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    @97 – I got a call from Prescott on Friday saying that they’re Burley’s sister school and they have a spot for my 1st grader. I couldn’t contain my laughter but politely declined the spot. They must think parents are so stupid.

  • 102. If you are still looking for 1st grade seat  |  September 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Why is Prescott having a hard time filling spaces? Realize their scores aren’t great. But would think neighborhood kids would fill it to bursting.

  • 103. rp mom  |  September 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    We received a call from Prescott for 1st grade today. We declined as well as we are happy at our current neighborhood school.

    @101 – now I know where they got our name/number as we never actually applied there! 🙂

  • 104. If you are still looking for 1st grade seat  |  September 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    @103 – we did not apply there either!

  • 105. LR  |  September 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    @98: That is interesting. I had no idea the Board of Ed was involved after the 1st day of school. I thought at this point the spot either goes unfilled, or the school scrambles to fill it on their own. Or, so I was told.

  • 106. anonymouse teacher  |  September 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    @86, the classroom I teach in has 25, but likely to rise as more kids come in. I have four friends at other schools teaching in rooms between 36-41, so I feel very, very lucky. A good teacher can work magic with only 25.

  • 107. City Mom  |  September 6, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    @105.LR~ It used to be that the spot went unfilled. When CPS switched to the tier system two years ago, the Office of Academic Enhancement petitioned so they could fill any seats that were unfilled at the beginning of the year. The Legal Department eventually approved the petition. The first calls went out that year immediately upon the Legal Department’s approval, whiich was at the beginning of November. We know this because that’s what we were told when OAS called to offer my son a seat.

  • 108. MamaK  |  September 6, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Northside mom-we are in a Track E school so we’ve been in school a month. The 1st 2 weeks were a bit blind and it’s hard not to worry , but you will start to get more info from your school and your kid. My kid is really not eating too much lunch and the one day he wanted to buy lunch I have no idea what happened. But he’s fine and likes school. I didn’t really think about or realize the way I would be relinquishing control and it is scary, but I guess that’s what letting them grow up is about 🙂

  • 109. Daddy of Zane  |  September 6, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    First few days of K at McPherson have been OK. We found out at orientation last week that Z was not in the class we were originally told; they actually created a 4th class and had to hire another teacher (and all this was only put into motion in mid-August) so Z was put in the new class, which is not by all the other K classrooms – it’s near the office and used to be a teacher lounge/workroom. As of last Thursday the room was empty and undecorated save for the teacher’s desk and 3 student tables with chairs (there are now 4 tables). We were told that their cadre sub would be teaching the class until the newly hired teacher is cleared by central office.

    On Tuesday morning, the sub had put up bulletin boards and some other decorations (on pretty short notice), and from the way he is talking it sounds like he may actually be the new hire (he has all kinds of plans for painting and decorating). But we can’t get a straight answer on that.

    Today Z opted for just a drop-off at the curb so he seems to be settling in just fine, but I swear it’s like he’s a POW when we try to find out what they’ve been doing during the day. He may have had recess or he may have not, depending on how many times you ask.

    And the paperwork is kind of nuts. We decided it was easier to turn in things like the oral health program and the free/reduced lunch application with his name and a big slash with “DECLINED” across the page rather than deal with the consequences of not returning the forms at all because we weren’t interested. We got the breakfast menu in his folder today but it was in Spanish, fortunately there’s a link to the web site. And we wouldn’t have gotten the school newsletter if my spouse hadn’t have dropped off our volunteer applications at the office when she happened to see them.

  • 110. anonymouse teacher  |  September 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    @109, My friend teaches K at McPherson and she is crazily good. I am sure she will help whoever the new hire is to get settled.

  • 111. Daddy of Zane  |  September 7, 2012 at 6:38 am

    @110, we like all of the K teachers at McPherson, including our temporary one. Really, we have no true complaints about McPherson at all, I think we’re just having to deal with our changing role in Z’s daily life, and the fact that for at least the first month or so the school has to train the parents as well as the kids. I feel confident in saying that my spouse is struggling a bit more with the change than me.

  • […] be provided, but no transportation. “The logistics are way too complicated,” he said. (Indeed, parents lit up message boards with reports of busing nightmares the first week of class.) Costs incurred by special education students normally bused to schools would be reimbursed, […]

  • 113. Gunnery Sgt Hartman  |  September 7, 2012 at 10:40 am

    #101 – Actually, they kind of are Burley’s sister school, as Burley sends all the kids for their “preschool for all” classes to Prescott, since they have space and Burley doesn’t. Just so you know.

  • 114. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  September 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    We got a hell of an email at Mayer this morning. The Fullerton Network has decided, or so we are told, that our assistant principal cannot serve as acting principal during our contract principal’s maternity leave — a plan that has been in place since last year and that was used before — because the assistant principal is not currently in the principal candidate eligibility pool. Never mind that no board rule or CPS policy requires acting principals to be in the pool (v. contract and interim principals), that she was in it over three years ago, and that she’s served as acting principal in last two years.

    So a week into school, CPS wants to give us a new acting principal that the LSC and the parents have never met.

  • 115. Clueless90  |  September 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    114 it’s for the kids……

  • 116. SaK  |  September 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    While I await strike news, I’m happy to report that our 1st grade start at Peirce has been good.
    We rec’d an explanatory letter from the principal detailing the Full School Day (FSD) addit’l minutes usage.

    For the K-5 set it includes the addition of 50 minutes/wk of World Lang. (Spanish), extended time (min.) of core subjects, dedicated recess. {note: a full offering of “specials” – art, music, technology, library, gym was already part of the day & Spanish is already offered 6-8 as part of the MYP IB program}

    Additionally, the school is implementing a Goal-Based Learning Community which seems to address math/reading goals with teacher intervention in a small group setting. Not sure what this looks like for a 1st grader, so will report back.

    Comment: as a supporter of neighborhood schools I await the day that the above “bus stories” don’t exist because we support and trust our neighborhood options.

  • 117. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  September 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    …I swear it’s like he’s a POW when we try to find out what they’ve been doing during the day.

    My kid was the same way. What happens at school, stays at school.

    Not like a POW, more like the CIA. After I asked more pointed questions one day, she tells me: “Daddy, you don’t need to know that.” So, info is on a need-to-know basis.

  • 118. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    #114~Christopher Ball~that would be maddening. Why is CPS doing that….

  • 119. Taser Dad  |  September 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    To North Side Mom, Good God you need to relax, your young child will survive. And the school is working as hard as they can to take care of ur child. Most schools are under staffed, so they can not talk on the phone for great lengths. And we all pay are taxes, so that has no bearing. Good luck with the rest of the year.

  • 120. kfb  |  September 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I just had a call from Hawthorne for a spot that apparently just opened up and was given 15 minutes to decide. Is it even possible to make that kind of decision in 15 minutes??

  • 121. cpsobsessed  |  September 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    15 minutes??? What did you do??

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 122. teachergal  |  September 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Actually no, Prescott is not Burley’s sister school. The Pre-K for all staff is Burley staff. That program was only moved over to Prescott due to lack of space in the Burley building. Prescott and Burley have zero affiliation.

  • 123. db  |  September 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    @113 – They were calling about 1st grade, that has no relevance to prek classrooms. The sister school thing is very odd. It looks to me like they’re trying to leech off of Burley’s success, which in turn will turn off parents.

    Also, if I wanted to apply to Prescott I would have. I don’t like that Burley shared their waitlist with another school.

  • 124. teachergal  |  September 7, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    @123 Burley doesn’t share their wait list with anyone. They don’t have the time or the inclination. That must have been CPS or a clerk abusing their power to look in the system.

  • 125. falconergrad  |  September 7, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    116 – SaK: Totally agree about the neighborhood thing. I wonder if there is a strike what difference there might be in traffic, especially on city streets. Besides the buses, I feel like so many people I know are driving kids to school (all kinds of schools- charter, private, magnet) . There is a health toll taken there for all, I think. The buses and cars driving to city schools bugs me on an environmental level more than anything. Are we choosing education over cleaner air for all? I get why people do it, just still bugs me… what is the point of living in the city if we are driving everywhere.

    As for the support and trust, I was so irritated recently to see an online review of our neighborhood school by someone who never sent any kids there!

  • 126. Esmom  |  September 8, 2012 at 7:28 am

    @102, Prescott is not bursting with neighborhood kids. I know two families who live a stone’s throw away from there and they said they’d never send their kids there, nor would their neighbors. It seems fishy and desperate that they are billing themselves as Burley’s “sister school.” I wonder if Burley knows they are doing that?

  • 127. Tchr  |  September 8, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Not being snarky, but curious what is wrong with Prescott?

    (I do agree saying you are a sister school when you are not is wrong.)

  • 128. Bookworm  |  September 8, 2012 at 11:11 am

    @Christopher Bell-
    As Mayer is a Montessori school your AP may be able to be appointed though not on the list due to her Montessori AP experience. It is difficult to have any other kind of admin in place in a Montessori program. How frustrating for your students , parents and principal as well.. Why is CPS so relaxed about destabilizing school communities- especially one so successful?

  • 129. teachergal  |  September 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    @127 Not sure there is anything wrong with Prescott. In fact, with the growth of the area they are primed for a strong explosion if they do it right and if they have the rich curriculum to back it up. I can’t speak about it specifically as I haven’t been in the building in several years. The last time I was, I got the impression that there were a few gems working there and a lot of teachers that could use a few courses in current practice as well as a visionary leader to bring the whole thing together. But again, a lot can happen in a few years. There may be wonderful things happening behind their doors. However, trying to affiliate themselves with another school just to get some butts in the seats is probably not the best way to convince neighborhood parents that they are the right choice.

  • 130. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  September 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    @128 The fellow they’ve appointed — a retired Lincoln elementary principal — seems like a smart and engaging fellow. As an “administrator in charge” he has no more authority than an “acting principal” would, so he is unlikely to do any harm. I think Blaine people liked him where he worked in July-Sep. 2011, so he clearly has administrative acumen. He spoke with my daughter and a few others kids on the playground after school one day to talk about the garden that the older students plant, and they seemed to like him.

    What irks me is that CPS 1) makes no effort to notify the parents about what is going on or our LSC 2) has created a “policy” that is not promulgated anywhere. This took our principal and asst. principal by surprise, and seems to be entirely made up. The principal job opening list that CPS puts out refers to the 2008 hiring policy, which does not require acting principals to be on the list. So I don’t know what “recent” change CPS is referring to.

    I guess the title “administrator in charge” derives from his retired status. Of course, since he retired in 2007 I don’t see how he could be on the principal candidate pool except by fiat as a retired principal. The very reasons CPS gives for not assigning the assist. principal as acting would seem to apply to him — over 3 years since being on the candidate list. And our assit. principal was acting principal two years ago.

    It’s the last-minute, uninformative, and specious interference that has me and others angry. Had CPS instead said, “Hey Mayer, would you like to have an experienced principal come as a consultant to handle the main administrative duties and help out and coach your acting principal,” I’m sure Mayer would have welcomed the idea.

    This is not the first time CPS has misread its own rules. They improperly wait-listed some of the siblings of current students (they should have been admitted) last spring. The principal and several parents independently caught the error, and the CPS Law Dept. backed our position.

  • 131. Harrison  |  September 20, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Wow, I miss Chicago a lot. If you are trying to get some math time in I recommend Math Smart card sets which they have for addition, subtration, Multiplication, and division. If not then just google some math dominoes set and look at them. Here in Japan when I was teaching in the elementary school they had the Math Smart set which the kids loved. I also recommend enrolling your child in an Abacus class it helps out with mental calculations. The net itself has many good free software to help out with maht skills.

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