What should public education be?

August 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm 157 comments

Public School

Well, as we wind down the final days of summer (that was ridiculously short, no?) let’s move to a high level discussion about education and education in Chicago, before we get back to the nitty gritty of discussing the application process again.

What do YOU think is/should be the role of the U.S. education system and specifically the system in Chicago, where we have a large population of lower-income students to educate, a sizable population of English Language Learners, diminishing budgets (much like the rest of the country,) and a very large school system overall.   These all pose challenges beyond those of many other U.S. school districts.

Some people would suggest  that providing a wealth of social services in combination with education is perhaps the best way to make a difference in the life of many of the kids in CPS.

Others may feel that the role of the school is simply to provide a basic (and hopefully enjoyable and inspired) education.  The school lays out a decent curriculum and it’s there for the taking.  Families may need to put in a little effort to get the most out of it, but it’s there for those who want to make the most of it.

Does the city owe us the best possible services for all students?  Gifted, special needs, ELLs, kids with behavioral problems, kids working at a level far above or below grade level?  Is it CPS’ role to try to help integrate our city?  To provide bus service?  To provide “options” (ie charters.)  To pay enough to have the best teachers possible?

I see us (the collective “us”) asking for a lot.   What is “fair” for us to demand out of CPS?


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157 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Iheoma  |  August 21, 2013 at 6:27 am

    CPSO you really pose some interesting questions and I’m looking forward to reading the responses. I believe that CPS has the responsibility to provide a basic, standard education to all kids in their communities. In my own “perfect world” these needs would be met at local neighborhood preschools, elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. No selective enrollment or magnet programs – just community schools that met the needs of their student populations from kids in need of significant SPED services to gifted services. From technical training programs to college prep. It’s possible and schools all over the country do it. Just not in Chicago. I also believe that it’s not the schools responsibly to provide significant social services to their school populations. It’s their job to educate – period. It’s a fallacy and a cop-out to believe that the teachers and administrators should be case mangers, therapists, social workers and ministers AND provide a great education. It just doesn’t happen. We have to make a decision to invest in schools AND in social service organizations. Schools can be an central part of the community without having to bear all of this responsibility. JMHO

  • 2. Iheoma  |  August 21, 2013 at 6:28 am


  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  August 21, 2013 at 8:49 am

    @iheoma, you raise another good question about PreK and whether we expect that out of our school system.
    Should it be expected for kids who need to catch up before kindergarten while not being offered for all kids? The expectation has grown in the past couple years since preschool-for-all started that preK was another expectation of cps for all kids.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 4. RL Julia  |  August 21, 2013 at 9:45 am

    The bottom line purpose of a public education system is to provide education to its citizens. This education should teach them the history and culture of their country, state, region and city and should allow them “graduate” from the educational system capable of securing and holding employment and/or be adequately prepared to successfully pursuit additional education. This is a tall order unto itself….

  • 5. Counterpoint for discussion  |  August 21, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Q: What is the role of the public educational system?
    A: To provide basic reading/writing/math/art/history skills.
    How: With carrot and stick approaches.
    Why: To have a society that is sustainable.

  • 6. local  |  August 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    When should kids be able to quit school? Younger, older, as-is?

  • 7. Totismommi  |  August 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    The role of any societies educational system should be to prepare its youngest citizens to be productive adult citizens. If that is understood to be basic reading, writing and arithmetic, then your society will be filed with adults prepared for blue collar labor jobs. Since there are not that many of those jobs available anymore, we have to adjust the expectation of the education system or continue a cycle of desperation when its graduates are ill prepared to support themselves or their families.

  • 8. Totismommi  |  August 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I believe the chicago school system has an opportunity that most systems lack. Many buildings. If every school were a test in school, meaning all children were tested for placement, each school would teach to the student population it is designed for (sped, disciplinary, advanced, etc). This would prevent every school from having to teach to every type of student and place students in schools with children with similar needs. All children would get the specialized learning they need to be the most successful. Teachers would be able to teach the students the same way, so greater efficiency. Where is the downside?

  • 9. WRP Mom  |  August 21, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    @ Totismommi, what is the downside? My first thought is it could split up siblings into different schools, which a lot of people would be unhappy with.
    What you are proposing, reminds me of my own childhood in the 70’s where they did tracking (public school in the burbs). We were given a test in about 2nd grade which divided the grade into about 10 groups. Then you stayed with that group year after year. It was great for the advanced kids, but it was terrible for the lowest scoring kids. And if you had a bad test day, you were screwed. I knew a boy with a high IQ but he wasn’t a good test taker. He got tracked into the lowest group and ended up by 6th grade being about 2 years behind grade level. What a waste.

  • 10. RL Julia  |  August 21, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I agree- tracking kids is fine… in theory – except that most people are fluid rather than static – and too many external factors effect kid’s ability to learn – how would you separate them and would kids change schools depending on the year they were having? So if I was gifted one year but then my parents split up and I moved three times and wasn’t doing so well in school, would I stay at the gifted school or be moved to the disadvantaged school? Also – if every school was a test-in school what would you do with the kids whose families are not organized enough to show up for the test? Also so say you have one school for gifted kids and one school for socially disadvantaged kids and one school for social dis-advantanged/gifted kids are they all funded at the same level? Is this the same level as the average kid school? How about eh SPED kids? what about the doubly gifted?

  • 11. local  |  August 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    …and gifted/sped?

  • 12. CPSDadof2  |  August 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    @Totismommi: I couldn’t agree more. We need more test-in schools, but still keep the neighborhood schools. For example, turn all magnet schools into test-in schools taking in students within certain attendance boundaries (to reduce busing). All current SEES still take students city-wide. I think that will serve our kids much better than current system, in which a child who can read chapter books entering kindergarten could have to share a classroom with someone who is still learning ABCs.

    Some problems with CPS (or the U.S. education system in general) are: trying to do too much and set the bar too low. Instead of maximize everybody’s potential, we are trying “no child left behind”, which is an unrealistic goal. With all the money in the world, there will be some kids stay behind. The result is: everybody is dragged down.

  • 13. Totismommi  |  August 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    @wrp mom there are 5 elementary schools within walking distance from my home, they all rank very low on test scores. If siblings were asigned to different schools, they would be getting educated properly. I was also tested in 2nd grade in the 70s, had the same experience you did, after that testing, it was teacher evaluation as to what was best learning environment. They do interact with my child daily and know whether my child tests bad or tests above ability level. When I say test in, I really mean evaluated for placement, that could take place in any of the early childhood environments currently available. @rl julia I am referring to exactly the external factors. If a child is struggling for any reason, the educator would
    Evaluate their placement. As for socially disadvantaged, being poor doesn’t mean you are unwilling or unable to care about your childs educational success. I live in a tier 1 neighborhood and am far more concerned about the gang influence in my elementary schools then my ability to assist in my childs success. If, however, I was perhaps unable to read, should my child follow in. my footsteps or should she be given every opportunity to succeed at her own skill level.

  • 14. Totismommi  |  August 21, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    @local especially sped, gifted and disciplinary problems. From reading everything in these threads, no one seems to think these students get the right level of attention because they are in schools that are not dedicated to their learning. If the school was dedicated to sped, those students would get the learning they deserve. It would be more cost effective as well. You would not have to have every program in every school. All students would be learning at the same level.

  • 15. Cps alum  |  August 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    You can’t send all special Ed students to one school and other kids to another school. That’s against the law. Kids need ago be in the least restrictive enviornemnt and for many that simply means in a regular classroom with some special pull out services.

  • 16. Chicago Jan  |  August 21, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    1) eliminate the federal dept of education and move those funds to the states and local communities
    2) Bonus educators based on performance. Ability to fire the deadwood no matter how much seniority they have. Eliminate public sector unions.
    3) vouchers for all families. Let parents choose the best school for their kids. The “good” schools will expand. The “bad” schools with either be forced to improve or shut down.
    4). Parents must work to keep kids in school and help them learn.If kids drop out or cause trouble in school, cut family’s other government handouts. Kids don’t have to get all A’s, they just have to make an effort to do the best they can.

    Throwing more money is not the answer. Better use of existing funds is…especially since most of this state is broke…along with the feds.

  • 17. navigator  |  August 22, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I am so sorry this is off topic, but I wondered what is considered “safe” in regards to the weather temperature for schools without air conditioning? I have started praying about next week’s temps. I hope the temps go down and next week’s forecasts are wrong. They are predicting Monday’s high to be 95. The thought of students/staff trying to learn in that heat without a/c is horrible!

  • 18. HS Mom  |  August 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Totismom – interesting idea. Maybe a version modified to fit all the exceptions.

    @1 – regarding social services. We have free clinics and medicaid. Many people aren’t inclined to go to a doctor unless they are really sick. It’s important for little kids to see a dentist and a doctor at least once a year. The only way to insure that is through the school even if it’s a field trip or medical bus. Maybe it’s not part of the school but an affiliated program. Also, counselors – someone who meets with individual kids on a regular basis, mentors and follows up with their needs. Some of this is done now but could be more structured and defined as part of a school program.

    @16 – Amen to that

    @17 – according to Accuweather 88 – not ideal. Looks like heating up a bit toward the end of the week. Actual vs. real feel – I don’t know, certainly won’t be comfortable for a few days.

  • 19. local  |  August 22, 2013 at 11:59 am

    How about early tracking into careers like Germany does? Plus, two years of national service required in what is commonly 12th grade and freshman year college/post-HS graduation? Plus, educating the whole person to better cope/thrive with human existence, not just for citizenship?

  • 20. chefkim  |  August 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    @16. Chicago Jan

    your #4 is implying that only kids whose families are receiving “government hound-outs” would drop out or cause trouble in schools. I work on the north shore in the wealthiest of neighborhoods & i can tell you that there are kids who drop out or cause trouble in all socioeconomic levels. so there would need to be a more inclusive “consequence” in your system

  • 21. Counterpoint for discussion  |  August 22, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    to: 20
    #16 Chicago Jan is a hero. She writes the truth. She is writing about the norm, not the exception. If we followed Chicago Jans model we would not have the extent of the big “D” problems.

  • 22. Totismommi  |  August 22, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    @cps alum. I was not speaking of sped as a protected class. I am simply saying that services for my childs needs should be available to my child, however I should send my child to the services not demand the services come to me. Perhaps all the elementary schools in an area could be linked together to collectively offer all services without each building being required to fulfill all needs. Then children in that area would have several neighborhood schools and they would attend the one offering the educational needs of the child. That would allow for emerson as an educational tool.

  • 23. falconergrad  |  August 22, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    #21 What is the big “D”? I know what it means in my house but I don’t think that’s what you’re talking about. Fascinating how you agree so completely with a stranger on the Internet!

    Totismommi, do you have a background in education? It doesn’t sound like it, but just wondering.

    How come nobody ever cries out to shut down private sector unions? They make stuff cost more and schools have to buy stuff, so they are making education cost more. DOWN WITH PRIVATE SECTOR UNIONS!

    The comments for this thread are depressing me!

  • 24. Angie  |  August 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    @23. falconergrad: “How come nobody ever cries out to shut down private sector unions? They make stuff cost more and schools have to buy stuff, so they are making education cost more. DOWN WITH PRIVATE SECTOR UNIONS!”

    In most cases, private sector unions don’t have the opportunity to screw the general public. I feel for Twinkie fans, but people who prefer other treats hardly even noticed the disappearance of the Hostess products. And now, the Twinkies are back, and the union is gone, all because of their greed. Caterpillar did not cave to the union demands, and now Joliet workers are back on the job. Construction industry probably noticed their strike, and so did the businesses in that area, but the rest of the people? I don’t think so.

    On the other hand, teachers going on strike to extort more money from the already broke school system affected the taxpayers of the entire city, because now the cuts must be made to to pay for that. And the entire state is feeling the squeeze because of the pensions promised to the public sector unions by their puppet lawmakers. That’s the difference.

  • 25. Totismommi  |  August 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    @falconergrad. No I do not have a background in education. I do have a background in business and believe if the school system had the same level of accountability as the business world, the current system would be revamped to be more successful and more efficiant. I don’t think you can get the same results when their is no threat to the business failing and there being no job to demand. There are always solutions, everyone will not like them, but if made from the outside looking in, a new perspective can shed light. My only intrest is stopping a cycle of wasted talent that is our youth and doing everything within my power as a parent to ensure my child doesn’t waste an ounce of hers.

  • 26. cps alum  |  August 22, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Well I’ll answer the original question, but by first stating what the role should NOT be. The goal of the US education system SHOULD NOT be to make every student “college and career ready”. There I said it, I don’t believe that a high school diploma should be synonymous with college ready. I don’t think a school is a failure if all its graduates can’t cut it in college. In fact, I don’t believe there is any other country on this planet that has that goal. It just simply isn’t realistic, and I truly believe that this is the biggest mistake in the education reform movement. It is too narrow a focus; it ignores that fact that everyone is unique and has unique talents. College is just not for everyone and we need to recognize that fact.

    Too many people (especially politicians) say, “Study hard so you can go to college and get a good job.”

    Honestly I think that statement does much more harm than good.
    1) it has led too many people down the wrong path. Many young people would be better off skipping college and learning a trade or pursing other goals.
    2) It basically brings college down from its original purpose of intellectual and academic discourse into vocational training.
    3) It implies that only jobs that require a college degree are “good” and therefore devalues other careers that are just as worthy.

    Now I’ll answer the original question. The role of the US education system should be to
    1) Give all children the basic skills necessary for them to reach their full potential whether that potential is intellectual, kinetic, artistic or vocational.
    2) Teach all children the fundamentals of citizenship and how to be a functioning member of society.

  • 27. HS Mom  |  August 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    @26 I always assumed that “career ready” meant trained or prepared for a more meaningful job not necessarily college ready. This could describe culinary, hospitality, trade, automotive, computer tech, medical support….and so on. I think we need to push the envelope going beyond basic for all and help kids find their path.

  • 28. Totismommi  |  August 22, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    I agree with your answer to the original question. I don’t believe the full potential of most students is currently being reached. I would also need to define what a functioning member of society is. Our current society has lost many of the blue collar jobs that were sufficient to support a family. Even middle management jobs require a college education. That would mean that to be a member of society that does not public assistance, you need an exceptional talent, incredible luck, nepotism or some training past high school. Will all children make it to and through college, of course not, but all should have the opportunity to recognize their full potential.

  • 29. Totismommi  |  August 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I agree with your answer to the original question. I don’t believe the full potential of most students is currently being reached. I would also need to define what a functioning member of society is. Our current society has lost many of the jobs that were sufficient to support a family. Even middle management jobs require a college education. That would mean that to be a member of society that does not public assistance, you need an exceptional talent, incredible luck, nepotism or some training past high school. Will all children make it to and through college, of course not, but all should have the opportunity to recognize their full potential.

  • 30. Iheoma  |  August 23, 2013 at 6:38 am

    There are some really interesting comments here. A couple of things. I do think that public education should be available starting at preschool – in a play based format. I actually like the push for “preschool for all” but really hate the way CPS went about doing it.

    Regarding tracking- I think that it’s an inevitable part of having schools that house a variety of students in one place. The issue is how do you create a system that really allows for kids to grow and develop and “change tracks” when necessary. CPS has a horrible track record for this – once your gifted your always gifted or once your SPED your always SPED. That’s not true and needs to be reflected in a system that addresses that reality.

    Regarding social services – I respectfully disagree. I just don’t believe that a school be the source or base for these programs – before or after school. I think most recently of my DD’s high performaning and well regarded school and the “immunization” program. I’m not one of those parents who believe that there is any link between immunizations and autism but I do believe in informed consent. The letter we received stated that I must sign and present my child for shots(which she already had completed) or risk being un-enrolled in the school. Not cool. No info about the providers, info about the shots or anything else. Nothing that any parent would ask a medical provider caring for a child. Same thing with eye and dental programs. The idea that the school provides “good enough” social services is appealing to some but not what’s right-in my opinion. So, just let schools focus on education and have a strong social service and health system to provide other support.

  • 31. Counterpoint for discussion  |  August 23, 2013 at 10:33 am

    To: Falconergrad #23
    If you have to be cute and ask what the big “D” is, you are one.
    P.S. It’s not dirty, it’s just corrupt.

  • 32. LR  |  August 23, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Well, I think it is fair to demand funding for the longer “fuller” day that was promised to students last year. Is no one else enraged by this? I mean, how many sound bites do we have of Rahm Emanuel promising students a “better, fuller” day? You know, I grew up in Glenview (north suburbs). We had a 6.5 hour day. We had gym every day, art and music twice per week. Ideally, this is what I would like for my kids. I just think CPS has very misplaced priorities. I think they should be investing in human capital and smaller classes versus trying to find “state of the art” ways to make education more efficient, like online gym and online art. As far as gifted programs go, I think CPS is foolish not to invest in more. You want test scores to go up? Well, right now you have kids who aren’t living up to their potential because they qualify for accelerated programs, but you have no “space” for them. I have to wonder if a school like Trumbull would have turned the corner if you house an RGC there. I don’t look at any of these things as CPS “owing” us anything, but it seems like these are things that are mutually in their best interest and ours. It would be really refreshing to have a mayor that says, “I am going to make the day shorter, but your kids will have more art, music, and gym. And while CPS can’t be the only thing that stands between a neighborhood and total oblivion, I will invest in schools that are in thriving neighborhoods that stand a chance.” Dream on, right?

  • 33. pantherparent  |  August 23, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I think all that can be expected from any public school system is “opportunity”. I know it’s a subjective word but I don’t know any other way to put it. Does the local school give you the opportunity to learn and excel? I think even the lowest ranked schools do that. We can’t lean on macro numbers. Just because a school as a whole is doing poorly doesn’t mean nobody there is learning.

    What is a family willing to sacrifice for “opportunity” is the real question. My children attend(ed) a northwest side elementary school and I spoke to the principal about NCLB and how many students we were accepting. He said one year 7 were accepted and by the second week none were still attending.

    There were various reasons (commute, work schedule) but at what point does CPS say the fault lies with you, the family, not us the provider?

    @32 What is online gym?

  • 34. Mich  |  August 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    #26 – I very much like your view of school. But I think to do that for all kids requires wraparound services that, while offered, we don’t really effectively use any longer.
    #33 – If all the “good” neighborhood schools are on the far northwest side of the city, that require 2 Metras or leavng at 5am for an 8am start time, all the family’s burden, of course few kids from the far southeast side are able to attend. But if instead we put some real money and effort into regional gifteds or magnet neighborhoods in those areas of the city that require only one transfer and reasonable travel for 8 year olds, even if we offered bussing from the neighborhoods (I know, the anathema bussing, but we’re willing to have it for gifted….) it would be more reasonable.
    Mostly though, as with #26 – all education needs to mean something. If graduating from high school means I’m competing for the same McJob as someone who only graduated 8th grade, what’s the point? But if certain trades were reserved for high school education and they were pushed in school, that would be something. If there was academic help beyond “ask your parents” (who may not have done well themselves) for kids who needed a little boost.
    We can’t expect schools to take every child who is 5 grades behind and fling them to the elite. But if we fling them a level beyond their parents and they can fling their kids a level beyond that, really that I think is achievable promise of public education at the most basic level.

  • 35. cpsobsessed  |  August 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I’m reading a book now called “Warmth of other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” about how black citizens moved out of the south and into cities across America during the last century. As I’m reading about the vast education opportunities that existed in the South during the early part of the 20th century, it’s horribly depressing and unbelievable. A multi-million-dollar high school with state of the art everything being built and black kids couldn’t attend. Many didn’t even have a high school option at all.

    So I have a bit of a negative reaction to the idea that “not everyone should go to college and we should prepare people for other types of jobs.” It sounds fine if your child is the one being prepped for college, but would other parents feel like society is giving up on them? Not giving them a fair chance?

    On the other hand, I agree with the reality that @34 Mich points about that each generation can go a bit farther than the previous one. IF the reality of the US is that not everyone goes to college, better to help prepare for a higher-than-min-wage career.

    So I guess I’m torn between the concept of saying “college isn’t for everyone” and the reality of the situation.

  • 36. cpsobsessed  |  August 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Read this in a NYTimes article about Common Core this week. DOES it matter than US kids are bad in math? I assume the ones who go into the math-needed professions are good at it?
    The HS graduation rate is of concern. How about the college grad rate of 50%? Is that bad?

    According to the Broad Foundation, an educational reform group, “American students rank 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading compared to students in 27 industrialized countries.”

    And we have gone from No. 1 in high school graduation to 22nd among industrialized countries, according to a report last year by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    That same report found that fewer than half of our students finished college. This ranked us 14th among O.E.C.D. countries, below the O.E.C.D. average. In 1995 we were among the Top 5.

  • 37. cpsobsessed  |  August 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Also from that article. Encouraging to see that we have come to the same conclusion as educational leader. We should start a think-tank, right? 🙂

    “In all the discussions I have with educational leaders and reformers on improving our educational outcomes, there seems to be some level of agreement — though obviously not full agreement — on strategies that work: attracting, supporting and keeping the best teachers and investing in their development; providing “wrap-around” services for poor and struggling students; making schools safe, welcoming, fun places with recess and art and music and nutritious food; and strongly promoting parental engagement.”


  • 38. LR  |  August 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    @33: I heard a rumor that Lane Tech has online gym this year? Not sure if that’s true. And I can only imagine what online gym is like. Take a walk and log it?

  • 39. K Liu  |  August 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    “How come nobody ever cries out to shut down private sector unions?”

    Because the people in charge of making compensation decisions at private sector businesses are the same people who are responsible for a business’ bottom line and, ultimately, shareholder returns on investment. If a company is continuously losing money the CEO is canned (usually). Otherwise, the company heads in to bankruptcy.

    In the public section, there is no profit for the politicians to worry about. If the expenses get too high, the politicians either raise taxes in the short term or take on billions of debt that raise taxes in the long term. And that will work in the short term as long as the economy is growing gangbusters

    At a private company the shareholders need a return on their investment or the leaders are fired. In the public sector, the voters decide. Some voters pay taxes and other voters get handouts. Once the takers outnumber the producers, the politicians promising higher pay and pensions get re-elected, but eventually the money runs out. In Illinois and Chicago, the money has run out.

    And on a side note, there are plenty of people who say shut down private section unions too. I say let businesses dig their own grave if they agree to an unreasonably expensive contract. GM & Chrysler dug their own grave, unfortunately the taxpayers bailed them out as well and their are billions that were never paid back and they still have issues in the long term. No bailouts…for the private or public sector. No need to make the rich richer.

  • 40. cpsobsessed  |  August 23, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    I’m reading a press release about all the improvements done on the safe passage routes from removing graffiti, to fixing concrete, to checking reports on dogs that seem unsafe.
    Is this part of what we owe students as well?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 41. pantherparent  |  August 23, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    What if every child was guaranteed a college education? Would that somehow make the country smarter? More productive? Of course not.

    Don’t forget colleges are a business. Even public ones want/need students. It is in their best interest to convince America that if you don’t go to college, you can’t get ahead. And it’s just not true.

  • 42. cpsobsessed  |  August 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I have trouble envisioning a country where everyone is a college grad. It’s not like everyone can work in a college grad job, there aren’t enough to go around. But it would be nice if everyone had the opportunity to go if they wanted to.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 43. Totismommi  |  August 23, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    So, in the NY times article, there is an attached comment that lists samples from the common core standards for 6 year olds. I am a bit surprised. Not sure how I think about this. Anyone with a child in first grade have any input?

  • 44. cpsobsessed  |  August 23, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    @43 Totismommi, I couldn’t find that sample, but I think I recall one of the teachers on this blog mentioning that the standards for lower grades (I think K) were very highly unrealistic (like asking Kindergarteners about the big concepts of a story or some more pointed questions about characters’ intentions or something like that — that did sound kind of over-the-top (if that’s what you meant.)

    I was surprised to read last week that some of the more extreme right wing groups oppose CC because it creates a national standard for education that has been created by Obama (the evil left wing brain washer.) There is opposition not that it’s too rigorous, but that it’s a national agenda and a national agenda can’t be good.

    I never realized that a national standard could be so controversial until I read Diane Ravitch’s book last year and the history of the debate over a national standard and WHAT should be taught. Apparently different political groups have vastly different opinions on this topic. *bangs head against wall*

  • 45. anonymouse teacher  |  August 23, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    @43, The sample you saw in the comments are not Common Core standards. That looks to be a unit developed with objectives by a particular teacher or district around a piece of literature with a social studies connection. But those are definitely NOT common core standards. The person who attached that link saw that little logo saying “common core aligned” on it and thought they were CC standards. We are seeing tons of text books with “Common Core” on them that have nothing to do with CC. Its a marketing technique.
    Go to corestandards.org and you can look up English Language Arts and Math standards. Currently there aren’t any standards for Social Studies or Science through Common Core. Teachers are following the Illinois State Standards until those get developed.

  • 46. cpsobsessed  |  August 23, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    I liked this comment from the NYT which nicely sums up the issues with many students in CPS. If you’re dealing with the basic human needs, it’s hard to strive for education actualization.
    I was just discussing Maslow’s hierarchy with my son the other night after someone posted this on FB:

    Abraham Maslow, long ago introduced a concept for understanding human motivation called Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. The hierarchy is based on two groupings, deficiency needs and growth needs. It states that humans are ready to act on growth needs only when deficiency needs are met.

    Deficiency needs that come before growth needs include: 1. Physiological needs (hunger, thirst, bodily comfort). 2. Safety/Security needs (out of danger), 3. Belongingness/Love needs (achievement & recognition.)

    Once these important defiency needs are met, motivation for growth needs appear, which include many of the goals of Common Core like a general need to know, understand & explore.

  • 47. cps alum  |  August 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    @27 HS Mom—-the retoric that comes out of CPS, the mayor, and all the reformers is “College AND Career Ready.” They don’t say “College OR Career Ready.”

  • 48. cps alum  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Additionally, I don’t see CPS (or many other public schools) investing in training students for the trades. Can you really graduate from public high school today ready to start a career in automotives, plumbing, heating and air, or carpentry? The curriculum focus is mostly college prep, and many students would be MUCH better served if they had the option to take career training rather than college prep work.

  • 49. Totismommi  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    @anonymous teacher. Thank you-very informative.

  • 50. cps alum  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    @42, we are already seeing the problems with more and more people going to college. Tons of college grads working as waiters and struggling to pay of student loans. This is not only a function of the economy. What ends up happeing is that now a college degree doesn’t equal a college degree. It needs to be a college degree from a top tier school.

    Has anyone here read the book “Shop class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work,” my Matthew Crawford. It is really a very interesting book.

  • 51. Totismommi  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    @cps alum. I thought the career academies offered those options.

  • 52. cpsobsessed  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    @50 – haven’t heard of it, but I’ll take a look.

    That reminds me… I was looking at the site of one of the SEHS/ACs and noticing that from the teacher profiles that most went to what I’d consider… “2nd tier” schools (maybe like a step below big 10?) I say this non-judgementally as I went to a state school. But that same day I’d had a discussion with my mom when she brought up that Karen Lewis has 2 degrees, both I believe from Ivy League schools.

    Does CPS get many teachers from top schools? Do “top schools” even offer teacher degrees? I know the TFA people cycle through on their way to “something better.”

    I think there are still jobs for people without Ivy degrees, just not enough. And probably not enough for the Ivy people either. Just not enough for all people in every educational classification. I guess the benefit is that if you are an Ivy League grad who is unemployed, you have a good shot at a job vs non-Ivy grads, and so on down the line…
    The better the education, the better your shot at something, even if its a step lower than your ideal.

  • 53. cps alum  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Yes, but the neighborhood high schools do not. Most students do not attend a career academy; they attend regular general education high schools that increasingly focus on college prep work and not much else. The reality is that many if not most students aren’t entirely sure what they want to do when the start high school. We need to have opportunities for students to explore different areas. Students should be able to take college prep courses in the same school where they can learn the basics of culinary, automotives, and tech. In the end, everyone needs some type of post-secondary education be it college or vocational.

    This was, at one time, the beauty of the American educational system. Students weren’t tracked from a young age as university track or vocational track like in some countries. Students attended high schools that did both, and allowed even students who were academically serious to dabble in a few shop classes. Kids who ultimately wanted to go into a trade could also take higher math if that interested them.

  • 54. Dunning Mom  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Eleanor Roosevelt on public education:

    “Our first objective- informed and intelligent citizens, and, secondly, bring about the realization that we are all responsible for the trend of thought and the action of our times.”


    “A nation must have leaders, men who have the power to see a little farther, to imagine a little better life than the present. But if this vision is to be fulfilled, it must also have a vast army of men and women capable of understanding and following these leaders intelligently. These citizens must understand their government from the smallest election district to the highest administrative office. It must be no closed book to them, and each one must carry his own particular responsibility or the whole army will lag.”

    I take from this that the quality of public education we provide is a reflection of our country’s aspirations on a global scale. If we choose to let education go to the wayside, we will fall behind in the constant global struggle for economic and political power.

    On the other hand, if we invest heavily in education, it will ensure our nation’s future success.

    So, I think CPS (and every other public school in America) owes us a world-class education, as befits the citizens of a global superpower. Austerity in eduation damages America’s world standing and threatens our economy.

  • 55. cps alum  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    @Cpsobsessed— I teach in a highly regarded suburban high school. I have collegues who graduated from Yale, Princeton, Welsely, Harvard, U of Michigan, U of Chicago, Carlton, UIUC, Perdue, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Washington in St. Louis, and that’s what I can think of off the top of my head. These are not TFA folks. MANY started careers in CPS.

  • 56. cps alum  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:53 pm


  • 57. cps alum  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    @54– LIKE. I totally agree

  • 58. cpsobsessed  |  August 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    @55 cps alum: That was my hunch about the suburban schools. I just noticed an ex-coworker of mine who is a Univ of Chicago grad who just took a job as a HS teacher at New Trier. Made me wonder if that was the case.

    I assume those are the best paying positions? Or not necessarily?

  • 59. Iheoma  |  August 24, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Diane Ravitch had an interesting blog post and a lively discussion among her readers about the role of AP curriculum. Is it the role of CPS to provide a college level curriculum in high school? Lots of us on this board have or will have kids who attend ACs or SEHS or schools with “wall-to-wall” IB programs where there is immense pressure on kids to start taking multiple AP courses per year starting as early as 10th grade. A Baltimore Sun newspaper piece argues that it’s not the role of accelerated education to provide kids college credits but to prepare them for college coursework. I’m curious about what other people think in this discussion.

  • 60. HS Mom  |  August 24, 2013 at 9:11 am

    @59 – I don’t see any pressure on AP. On average kids take 2-3 AP classes throughout the course of HS. Some take 1 class some take 6, all depends on the kid and what they can handle. If the goal is college credit, you may be disappointed. The better colleges only take a high pass 4 or 5 and then depending upon the difficulty level of the class. AP is great for kids who want to get a head start on higher level learning and challenging work schedules. Colleges see that just taking the class and passing (the class grade is separate from the AP test for credit) as a positive, the student is pushing themselves.

  • 61. anonymouse teacher  |  August 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    @58, generally, yes, the very best suburban high schools are better paying. My very best friend teaches at New Trier and when she needed to for health reasons, they paid her entire salary and benefits for a year, while she stayed home. She’s been teaching for 5 years less than I have with the same educational level and makes 40K more than I do, waaaay better working conditions, significantly less “face time” with students, more perks (ie, much of her continuing education is paid for) and better pay for extra work like clubs (whereas CPS only pays for extras sometimes–not complaining, just stating the facts). But, she did go to an Ivy League school (I did not) and she’s just insanely brilliant (haha, I am not in her league intellectually and I’d guess 99.99% of the world isn’t either!). She will also be the first to tell you she couldn’t teach in a neighborhood high school in Chicago due to the difficulties with student behavior.

  • 62. anonymouse teacher  |  August 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I should add that not all good suburban schools pay significantly more and not all suburban schools have better student behavior. I’m talking about the best of the best.

  • 63. cpsobsessed  |  August 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    So it sounds like there is sort of the upper-upper tier of teachers who likely have Ivy League degrees and get the “best” jobs and perhaps the rest is a mix of the rest of the teaching pool?

    I imagine an Ivy League grad could get some of the more desirable CPS positions (my son had a teacher who is an Ivy League grad (but with close chicago/cps/neighborhood ties.)

    I SO would never want my son to go to New Trier, but sometimes I think I’m crazy to think that way. I went to college with a lot of New Trier kids so my opinions about the place are a little biased (negatively.) In terms of educational opportunity I’m sure it’s fantastic. I’d probably opt for Evanston instead. I have a friend with kids there who won’t stop selling it to me.

  • 64. HS Mom  |  August 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    CPSO – Some school websites (high school) offer bios on their teachers. I have seen Duke, Northwestern, Cornell, lots of U of I, U of Mich etc as well as teachers leaving professions such as law and Corporate positions.

  • 65. WRP Mom  |  August 24, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    @38, my daughter goes to Lane (LTAC) and I hadn’t heard anything about “online gym”. At registration this week, they were still selling gym uniforms.

  • 66. Totismommi  |  August 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I was looking up this online gym option and it doesn’t sound too bad. If the student is participating in a physical activity outside of school, they can get their gym credit. I like the idea of the ability to fulfill the credit with a choice she participates in anyway which leaves the hours in school for other education

  • 67. cpsobsessed  |  August 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm


    I see it will now be the law that kids age 6 and older (rather than age 7) must now be in school. The Trib article says that 18% of CPS K and 1st graders are chronically truant. Jeez. C’mon people. The schools can’t teach your kid if the kids don’t go.

  • 68. cpsobsessed  |  August 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    @66: Yeah, that actually is not a bad idea for kids who do sports outside of school!

  • 69. navigator  |  August 25, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    @38 My child is a high school student at Lane. My student’s schedule has PE everyday as a regular class.

  • 70. LSmom  |  August 25, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Can’t seem to find it now, but I think online gym came up in a DNAinfo article about a Chicago high school principal (not at Lane) who was considering online classes, including gym, to cope with the budget cuts.

  • 71. anonymouse teacher  |  August 25, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    @67, I had 3 students last year who for non-health related reasons missed between 40-60 days of school last year.

  • 72. anonymouse teacher  |  August 25, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    I can tell you what I think public education should NOT be. Public education should NOT be 48 in a classroom. Cassell school where my cousin attends has 48 and 49 in some of their classrooms this year. For real. This is documented through RYH. I don’t care what kind of budget crisis we are in–this should NEVER happen. Not for one day.

  • 73. local  |  August 25, 2013 at 8:31 pm


  • 74. anonymouse teacher  |  August 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Oh, and Cassell has a 7th grade with 42.

  • 75. anonymouse teacher  |  August 25, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    CPSO, can you do a thread about the boycott that is happening this Wednesday?

  • 76. cpsdadof2  |  August 25, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Please leave our kids alone! strike? boycott? That’s disgusting and irresponsible.

  • 77. anonymouse teacher  |  August 26, 2013 at 5:55 am

    @76, this is a parent and student led boycott, not a teacher led one.

  • 78. anonymouse teacher  |  August 26, 2013 at 6:12 am

    I have to leave for work now, but before anyone gets their panties in a twist, this is NOT a CTU job action. It is a parent and student led boycott of public schools around the nation, not just Chicago, to protest the lack of funding in education. Teachers will be teaching any student who comes to school that day– the great great majority of us, including me, will be in the classroom. But this is an important political and social movement that’s happening and while everyone is free to have their own opinion of it, it is definitely something to be discussed.
    Happy first day of school to all!

  • 79. Angie  |  August 26, 2013 at 7:21 am

    @77. anonymouse teacher: “@76, this is a parent and student led boycott, not a teacher led one.”

    Oh, please, like we don’t know who is behind it. Jitu Brown, who was CTU’s choice to take Penny Pritzker’s place on BOE, is on the front lines telling parents to keep their children from school.


    So, how many teachers at your school are planning a sickout on Wednesday?

  • 80. cpsobsessed  |  August 26, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Does someone have a link to the group who is advocating for the boycott? (Maybe it’s posted here but I can’t find it on my blackberry.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • […] What should public education be? CPSObsessed: What do YOU think is/should be the role of the U.S. education system and specifically the system in Chicago, where we have a large population of lower-income students to educate, a sizable population of English Language Learners, diminishing budgets (much like the rest of the country,) and a very large school system overall.   These all pose challenges beyond those of many other U.S. school districts. […]

  • 82. Veteran  |  August 26, 2013 at 9:27 am

    OMG! I had no idea this much money was being spent on “Fake Passages” The Tiny Dancer has really gone crazy. The comparision to the “Silk Roads” is an interesting but very scary analogy. Has anyone in the media actually added up the cost?

  • 83. local  |  August 26, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I’m fine with teachers, parents and students collaborating, whoever takes the lead. Just putting that out there.

  • 84. junior  |  August 26, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Generally, suburban schools pay less than CPS. Maybe the “very best” pay more, but CPS is near the top of the state pay scale.

  • 85. local  |  August 26, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Veteran: The media cannot add. Math is not a strong point among journalists, including their ability to understand budgets and expenditures. If anything, they’re word people.

  • 86. Neighborhood parent  |  August 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

    veteran – the obvious response is the safety of all those kids.
    If someone gets hurt (or worse) than Rahm/taxpayers will have to pay more than that.
    It’s insurance to making sure that all kids arrive safely.

  • 87. HSObsessed  |  August 26, 2013 at 11:31 am

    @67 CPSO – I saw that over the weekend, that it just became law that kids must be enrolled in school starting at age 6. So, in effect, parents can’t skip the kindergarten year. I think the drop-out age is still 16, so now kids must be in school from K through some time during sophomore year. Not enough!

    Which ties into the earlier discussion about whether CPS must provide a pre-college education to all. The reality is that all of what is taught in high schools is still basic enough that it should just be considered “pre-life” education for a well-rounded citizen, no matter if they end up being a tradesperson or a PhD chemist. Speaking as someone who has a master’s degree in a field that I’m using not in any way in my career, I think that education is never wasted, and it all helps to shape your way of thinking. So, we never “waste” a rigorous academic high school experience on any child. For some kids, rigorous might mean 6 AP or IB classes, while for other kids, rigorous might mean taking 4 years of math and science, even at a fairly basic level. It’s the challenge, and hopefully the success of passing the classes, that is an important component.

  • 88. RL Julia  |  August 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    @82 – The post got it wrong we have been detailed on shifts either 6-9 a.m. or 2-6:30 p.m (actually they broke this up into two shifts). We were told to expect to be doing this for three weeks (or possibly longer) – cause you know, no violence or anything happens after the first three weeks of school!

  • 89. anon  |  August 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Pretty sure that any teachers who skip Wed will be disciplined.

  • 90. Mayfair Dad  |  August 26, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    The challenge is that public education is viewed as a tool to remedy society’s ills vs. its core purpose, which is educating young people to become productive (wage earning and tax-paying, not welfare receiving) members of society. We unduly burden the education system with becoming a social services delivery system. The school provides breakfast and lunch. The school provides immunizations. The school teaches preK toddlers how to dress themselves and tie their shoelaces. The school provides eyeglasses and hearing exams. Which is all fine and good, except when budgets for art, music, sports, technology, science labs, etc. etc. are being slashed simultaneously. A disproportionate amount of education money is being spent on everything except education. Moral of the story: if you can’t afford to raise kids, don’t have kids. Wrap it before you tap it.

  • 91. mrsPnow  |  August 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    90 amen

  • 92. anonymouse teacher  |  August 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm


    Boycott information for those interested.

  • 93. HS Mom  |  August 26, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    And the missed homework? I’m sure it’s all worth a few 0’s starting out the year. Sad part is kids participating in this are likely more in need of being in school. What a bunch of propaganda.

  • 94. lurking CPS teacher  |  August 26, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    @90 Mayfair Dad – I totally agree with your core purpose of public education. In an ideal world, that would be its function. Unfortunately, many of CPS students do not live in an ideal world and their schools become the gateway to providing for their most basic needs, i.e. food, health care, social services, etc. It has become the easiest way to provide services for these kids. For many of these kids, they either get it at school, or they simply do without. It is unfortunate that is comes at the expense of the kinds of enrichment and educational programs that provide a more balanced school experience for all kids.

  • 95. Frustrated  |  August 27, 2013 at 2:03 am

    I think that public education should be about motivating and educating the youth of our society. It should provide a safe environment where all children can meet people of different skill levels, socioeconomic stauses, and cultural backgrounds. CPS should be teaching the kids that EVERYONE has something to offer and working with them to discover these gifts in themselves and to recognize gifts in their peers.
    We should be more focused on preparing some highschool students for the trades, or, for the capable and motivated, for university. There are high schools in the US graduating students with electrical certificates, automobile mechanics training, and even LPNs. We could do that here too.
    On social services for students…
    I am always shocked at the amount of people who assume that “government hand outs” are the core problem with everything in our society. And that everyone receiving any sort of government assistance is a problem. Why is it okay for upper level executives to feel entitled to classy meals and frequent travel when they have employees that work around the clock and can’t make ends meet? And what about the companies that hire twice as many part time employees to avoid paying part of their health insurance? Where will this leave us except with people who need assistance? Not everyone who gets Medicaid and food stamps is lazy and unemployed. Some work two and three jobs. Some lack education and experience enough to maintain employment. Some are educated and have experienced rough times. Some will depend upon it for life, and some will use those resources as a means to an end. These negative attitudes are punishing poor children as if these children have asked to be born into their circumstances. They need our (society, rich, poor, and everything inbetween) help. We have forgotten to love our neighbors.
    That being said, I do not believe that it is the responsibility of the educational budget to fund social services. That is the responsibility of the department of health and human services. What should be the responsibility of the school system is to provide collaborative efforts so that the DHHS can reach the kids in CPS who need it.
    However, I think our schools should be providing basic counseling services( not clinical but supportive), access to healthy meals ( not the canned, microwaved slop served at most CPS schools), and proper physical education (vigorous and daily) for all students so that they have a fighting chance at being healthy. This alone will raise their confidence and improve their self image, which I think everyone can agree is vital to success. Interagency cooperation between educational and public health institutions can acheive this.
    Furthermore, it should not require a graduate level education to teach PE. Lower paid, entry level teaching assistants could meet PE standards, or at least referee a basketball game. Increased physical activity would be fun for the children, help them interact with each other, be competitive, and learn to work as a team.

  • 96. HSObsessed  |  August 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

    “We demand a better education for our children! We demand quality time in the classroom! And we are going to show this by encouraging our kids to ditch a full school day, thereby missing hours of precious instruction, and simultaneously dissing the teacher/s who spent time preparing to teach those specific lessons on that day!! That’ll send an unambiguous message!”

  • 97. local  |  August 27, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I want high schools with this kind of opportunity:

    uesday, August 20, 2013 6 Comments
    600 Youth Bike Apprenticeships Help Spread Benefits of Divvy Citywide

    by John Greenfield


    Tonaa Jamerson, center, and a friend fix a flat as a young resident watches. Photo: John Greenfield

    [This article also ran in Checkerboard City, John’s column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.]

    As I pedaled up to the Bronzeville Community Garden, 51st and Calumet, on a Wednesday afternoon, smooth R&B drifted from a sound system and folks were gathered around a table made of colorfully painted repurposed wood, gazing intently at a chess game. Planter boxes held a variety of greenery, including tall stalks of corn, and an old bathtub covered with a swirling mosaic design sat full of soil, ready for planting.

    Soon a group of ten teenagers would show up on mountain bikes to make improvements to the garden and do free bicycle repairs for community members. They’re apprentices with the Greencorps Chicago youth program, a project closely aligned with the Chicago Department of Transportation’s Divvy bike-share system.

    The planned coverage area for Divvy’s first 400 docking stations stretches from 63rd to Devon, including a number of low-income neighborhoods like Bronzeville, and CDOT has applied for funding to further expand the system. However, many Chicago communities won’t be getting bikes during this first round of installations.


    Students repair a bike for a resident while Victor Rollins, right, supervises. Photo: John Greenfield

    To help make sure bike-share benefits all Chicagoans, not just those in the initial coverage area, there’s a job-creation element to the program. Roughly 20 percent of the Divvy work crew, about 20 people, was hired through Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a job-training program for unemployed people. Other bike-share employees are graduates of adult programs offered by Greencorps, a CDOT division that trains ex-offenders and people recovering from substance abuse in environmentally oriented fields like landscaping and urban agriculture.

    In addition, the city’s contract with Alta Bike Share, which runs Divvy, includes a requirement for the youth program, which is being run by Greencorps in cooperation with the Department of Family and Support Services. 600 teens from violence-prone neighborhoods were selected for paid apprenticeships, receiving six weeks of training in bike safety and repair, as well as horticulture.

    120 of the top-performing participants will continue to work for Greencorps for ten hours a week throughout the school year. After that, about 20 of those teens will be hired as apprentices at Divvy, helping out with assembly and maintenance of the bikes and stations, and assisting the crew with “rebalancing,” relocating cycles from one station to another. Other graduates of the program are likely to find jobs at nonprofit and for-profit bike shops, and urban farms.


    Apprentices break up the concrete to make room for a new fence. Photo: John Greenfield

    CDOT assistant commissioner Sean Wiedel and Greencorps program director Edde Jones met me at the community garden to tell me more about the apprenticeships. “There are youth in this program who are basically the type of kids who said they didn’t go to school, didn’t bother, didn’t show up,” said Wiedel. “Suddenly they’re coming to this program and they’re loving it.”

    “It’s providing a non-traditional learning environment for folks who have struggled in a traditional learning environment, and it seems to really work,” added Jones.

    Some of the tasks that the kids who work at the Bronzeville Community Garden have been doing include reclaiming wood from a nearby building teardown, pulling the nails from the planks, and building gardening beds and a fence, as well as salvaging old bricks to build cold frames—miniature greenhouses used to extend the growing season. The students will also be mulching, planting ornamentals and vines, and cultivating Echinacea plants in the bathtub to attract butterflies and bees.

    The teens rolled in, after biking three miles from their classroom at 2929 South Wabash, with their instructor Jason Sonnefeldt and “mentor” Victor Rollins. Sonnefeldt explained that about half of the teens from his class were missing that day, but they had a good excuse: they were on a field trip visiting college campuses with an “Upward Bound” program run by the Bronzeville-based nonprofit Dime Child Foundation.


    Brian Davis moves a slab of concrete to make room for the fence. Photo: John Greenfield

    The instructor tells me how he got the kids into biking shape. “We started going on casual, leisurely rides to get their muscles warmed up,” he says. “We went north to the Shedd Aquarium one day, and that was about six miles,” he said. “And then we went south to Promontory Point, which was a ten-mile ride. I’ve been pushing them pretty hard, so that way when we ride to the garden it doesn’t feel so bad.”

    “This program is teaching the kids to get actively involved in their communities and it teaches them to make creative change,” said Rollins, who has ten years of experience working with at-risk youth. “A lot of the things that they’re seeing within their neighborhoods are very negative. This helps them to empower themselves and give back to their community.”

    The teens from Sonnefeldt and Rollin’s group come to the garden every Wednesday to fix bikes. On the day I visited, a couple of adults showed up with flat tires, and the kids were ready with patch kits and pumps. One boy stood on the corner holding a sign advertising the repair services. A carpenter who’s volunteering with the program showed up to help the students break up concrete to make room for the new fence.

    Brian Davis, 18, told me that after a few weeks of training, he now feels comfortable doing bike repair. “I know how to patch inner tubes, put a new inner tube in, and put a bike together,” he said. “We go around and fix bikes, plant plants, and help the community out. The riding is fun too; it just takes a little while to get used to it.”

    After successfully tag-teaming a flat repair with another girl, Tonaa Jamerson, 17, told me she was surprised by how much she enjoys wrenching. “At first I thought only the boys need to do the mechanic work,” she says. “But Jason showed me how easy it is to fix a flat. It only takes five minutes and it makes a lot of people happy.”

  • 98. klm  |  August 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I think that we need to stop categorizing all working-class and low-income kids from the South Side and West Side as so chronically disadvantaged that it’s almost impossible to give them the kind of rigorous, excellent education that will help them succeed in today’s economy. I mean, there’s LINK, free breakfast, lunch, after school, health care, dental care.etc. Some kids may be in crisis at home and many come from households with real issues, but the idea that most kids in places like Lawndale, Roseland, etc., are going to school hungry, all have dads in prison, moms that do drugs and grandmothers that are incapable of caring for them is not true. Anybody that has ever lived in a place like that knows this. Most low-income families teach kids right from wrong, good manners, have them wear clean clothes, etc. There are horror stories galore, but it’s not the norm.

    I grew up in an inner-city housing project and yes, there was some neglect, etc., but even there most kids were fed, had clean clothes, etc. I, for one, was ready to be engaged and genuinely wanted to be educated well, but there was definitely a good number of teachers that, by middle school, seemed to simply throw up there hands, go through the motions and wait for their pensions (many started out at the school when its neighborhood was still a viable working-class community in the 1950s, but by the late 60s, it turned poor, crime-riden, full of kids on welfare, etc. Obviously, the teachers were not coached accordingly, but were left to do almost anything they wanted to educate us (which sometimes meant next to nothing. Somebody should have been there effectively coaching them to change with the times, but they were all on their own).

    I’m paraphrasing here but I love a quote a read once from a teacher in an inner-city school that was beating the odds and giving its poor minority inner-city kids an excellent education, despite the its objectively dismal socioeconomic statistics (a la Chopin or some of the against-all-odds-but-scores-like-Glencoe charters): it was something like, “I know what these kids go through outside of the school and it’s heart-breaking, but I can’t think about that too much, otherwise I’d be tempted to expect less of them.”

    I know that Karen Lewis is always going on about how there needs to be a quasi-full-time health/daycare/social services component to public schools in tough neighborhoods, otherwise kids can’t be expected to learn well and teachers accodingly can’t be expected to teach much (or at least not as much as in ‘good’ schools)..

    Remember what people used to say about urban crime in the 70s and 80s? From the Left its was: crime results from poverty, inequality, lack of opportunity, racism. etc. and until those things disappear, there’s not much we can do. From the Right crime was the result of welfare dependency, high rates of birth outside of marriage, lack of desire to work hard, the breakdown of black families, etc.

    Well, guess what happened in many places (even somewhat in Chicago, but nowhere near as down like NYC LA, Boston, etc)? Rates of crime are back to where they were in the 1950s and 60s.. But there’s still poverty, equality’s even higher, there’s even less economic opportunity for less educated people, births outside of marriage are even higher, etc., but somehow we’ve figured out that it’s criminals that cause crime and we began focusing on that to the point where a cities like NYC and LA have been transformed. Social norms and expectations have changed accordingly, despite the fact that there’s still lots of poor people and bad parents (when was that ever NOT the case?).

    Why can’t we focus, roll up our sleeves and do what needs to get done to get kids educated without waiting for Utopia?

    Public schools need to educate kids appropriately for today’s economy. Period.

  • 99. Mayfair Dad  |  August 27, 2013 at 11:52 am

    @98. Yes.

  • 100. Family Friend  |  August 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Catching up (I have been MIA): @16 – eliminating the federal Dept. of Education: The proposed U.S. Dept. of Education budget for 2014 is $1.4 billion. Assuming that’s the amount Congress appropriates, what would it mean for that money to be given to the states for education? Illinois was fifth among U.S. states and territories in the 2010 census, about 12.8 million out of just under 313 million, or about 4%. 4% of $1.4 billion is approximately $560 million, for the entire state. That’s only about half of the budget deficit CPS had to plug this year. Chicago has about 2.7 million people. Assuming proportionate allocation of the $560 million, Chicago would receive about 21%, or $117 million, or about 2% of the CPS FY 2014 budget. Even if distribution were adjusted according to perceived need, CPS would still not get all that much. My point is that doing away with the Department of Education would not bring very much to local school districts, and since the feds are the ones that have been demanding better performance lately, I would rather keep them in business.

  • 101. Family Friend  |  August 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    @35 cpso: I am also reading a book about the Great Migration, an older one (1991) called “The Great Migration.” I, too, was very upset about what I learned about education in the South — this author focuses of the Mississippi Delta. It was believed that educating blacks would make them want more from life than sharecropping, and the white plantation owners, who were in control, wanted cheap labor. There was also a lot of propaganda that blacks didn’t want anything more, because of presumed native inferiority. While I don’t think the state of our education system in Chicago’s south and west sides is the product of that kind of overt racism, I do think it is related — we blame the parents when kids don’t learn; we have sat by while education in minority neighborhoods declined to the point where, like the sharecroppers in the 30s, many of our children finish school (often with high school diplomas) with no more than a 4th-grade education.

  • 102. Family Friend  |  August 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    @46 cpso: I agree that basic human needs must be met, but, again, educators (and school districts) should not use that as an excuse for not teaching. Creating a stable, predictable environment at school can lend some order to a chaotic existence — the kids look forward to school because it won’t have any (unpleasant) surprises. Kids all over the city are showing tremendous academic growth in environments with a positive culture, high expectations, and lots of academic (and other) support.

  • 103. Family Friend  |  August 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Regarding which colleges teachers went to, and salaries: There is a massive public database (Excel format) through the Illinois teacher retirement system (TRS) that lists all of the certified personnel in the state by school, job title, salary, degree(s) and where each degree was obtained. I can’t remember whether it lists years of experience. I used to have a link on my desktop, but no more, and I don’t have time to find it. You can’t possibly download it (it’s too big), but you can manipulate it, download portions, and figure out a lot of interesting stuff. If you like, you could do something like sort by undergraduate institutions and then rank by salary within each university. I can’t promise to find it anytime soon, but if anyone knows where it is, please post the link.

  • 104. local  |  August 27, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    @ 101. Family Friend | August 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Wikipedia says:

    “The liberal arts (Latin: artes liberales) are those subjects or skills that in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free person (a citizen) to know in order to take an active part in civic life. In Ancient Greece this included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, and most importantly, military service (slaves and resident aliens were by definition excluded from the duties and responsibilities of citizenship). The aim of these studies was to produce a virtuous, knowledgeable, and articulate person. Grammar, rhetoric, and logic were the core liberal arts.”

    “In classical antiquity, the “liberal arts” denoted those subjects of study that were considered essential for a free person (Latin: liber, “free”)[5] to master in order to acquire those qualities that distinguished a free person from slaves[citation needed] – the latter of whom formed the greater number of the population in the classical world. Contrary to popular belief, freeborn girls were as likely to receive formal education as boys, especially during the Roman Empire—unlike the lack of education, or purely manual/technical skills, proper to a slave.”

    Note that slaves were not to have access to the liberal arts. They might use the power of those arts to free themselves.

  • 105. local  |  August 27, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    @ 98. klm | August 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Personally, I think ALL high schools and students should have access to this kind of education and training. Not just low-income kids!

  • 106. local  |  August 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Oops. That was not logical. #105 was referring just to the bike industry apprenticeship.

  • 107. LR  |  August 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Speaking of social services, I actually question whether CPS should pay for busing. Perhaps they should only cover busing (or a portion of busing) for low income students. I know this would not be a popular decision, but on the other hand, every dollar spent on busing is a dollar we cannot spend on something else. And busing is not cheap! Many people who live in the suburbs pay for busing (which of course allows more resources for other things). Just a thought.

    And CPSO – I went to high school in the burbs. My mom still works at Glenbrook South. I am surprised at who they hire sometimes. The words Ivy League do not come to mind. And regarding Evanston…one of our former colleagues student taught there about 4 years ago. She was happy to leave (ended up teaching at Stevenson). She felt it is a good place to be if your child is on the AP track, but didn’t have much positive to say otherwise.

  • 108. Elliott Mason  |  August 28, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Commenting to subscribe. And also to point out that the minimal-level social services Mayfair Dad was complaining about are a bare minimum to have a kid be educable — they ARE part of the mission of public education, for kids who need them.

    But one of the first things CPS needs to do to make itself minimally competent is work on what I might call its customer service — I’m a new CPS parent this year (my daughter is 4 1/2 and just started in preschool), and the entire process was so horrendously insulting and disrespectful of ANY conception of my time having worth that if we had the money we would already have put her back into private care.

    I totally understand why parents decide to flee to other school systems if they can possibly afford it — everything from CPS is “wait six weeks until we might deign to mail you a magic piece of paper, then present yourself in person on THESE TWO DAYS that we’re only going to give you 48 hours warning for. What, you had somewhere else to be that day? DO YOU NOT LOVE YOUR CHILD???”

    The teacher herself had to handle a lot of things that I (having gone to Catholic school here in Chicago, growing up) naively expected were the job of the school, or the school system — she was personally responsible for coordinating a bunch of things and doing a bunch of clerical data-collection and data-entry that is in no way a teacher’s job.

    A teacher’s job should be teaching. Administration’s (school-level or system-level) job is getting everything lined up and figured out so the teacher can teach. And it should be consistent — I have friends with kids the same age who are attending other schools, and while it was a massive PITA for all of us, what is expected of us and how we are communicated with is radically different (though all of it is the teacher’s problem, apparently). Things that should be handled with a basic mail-merge or label-generation command to a word processor are instead hand-written on 30+ sheets and envelopes by the teacher themselves — not only a massive waste of her time and energy, but a point where errors can be introduced.

    We’re in the database. Why can’t labels be printed for envelopes to communicate with us? Why can’t the school’s secretary handle that (less than 3 minute) task for the teacher? But no, two hours of her time down the tubes when she could be prepping for the year.

    Horrendous. And inefficient. And expensive, in the long run.

    We’re committed, as a family, to public education — we feel that participating in a selective charter (especially a for-profit charter) is, for us, deeply immoral and attacking the ethic that all neighborhood CPS schools deserve the right and chance to give ALL their students a good education. We moved to Albany Park to give us a fighting chance of being IN a neighborhood school we felt we could live with, but we’re not going to apply to Disney II or any of the other ‘good’ schools all the parents around here are terrified they’ll miss out on.

    We want to send our daughter to a school she can walk to, that accepts local kids, and will give her at least a half-decent solid education. We can supplement beyond that, because we’re a two-geek family and we’re engaged. And if we clock out and give up on CPS (because they treat us like uneducated non-English-speaking cattle who don’t have any non-child demands on our time and schedule), we will be part of the problem.

  • 109. HS Mom  |  August 28, 2013 at 9:52 am

    @108 – yes, I agree, teachers should not be doing data input admin duties they have their hands full teaching as it is. If your school is like many, admin positions have been eliminated in order to keep teacher jobs. I think we can all agree that admin duties are consuming and highly underrated. Many schools now rely on parent volunteers to do things like create and maintain data bases etc. Get the word out in your school community that the school needs help.

    Oh, BTW welcome, your CPS experience will be rewarding but may require a lot of hands on to ensure a quality experience

  • 110. Sped Mom  |  August 28, 2013 at 9:54 am

    @ 107. LR | August 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Busing would still be needed by many students with disabilities.

  • 111. cpsobsessed  |  August 28, 2013 at 10:02 am

    @109 HSMom, I was just telling someone this weekend that my line about CPS has always been that it’s sort of a “do it yourself” school. Granted, things like admin duties should be handled by the school in some regard, but I think the lack of customer service comes in part by the ongoing changes and last minute decisions made at the top of the chain. Again, reflective of a big, dysfunctional bureaucracy.

    I have seen a general lack of what I would call “customer service” in CPS over the years in some schools. It took my neighborhood school several years to convince anyone that an unfriendly office clerk just isn’t a good way to build enrollment. that person is the first experience many people have with the school or even CPS as a whole. But you sort of get used to it over time, and some schools seem to rise up better than others in that regard. Good educators are not good marketers necessarily (and vice versa.)

  • 112. Veteran  |  August 28, 2013 at 10:42 am

    #108 very well said and unlikely to get better…..CPS treats its employees like crap and parents are not treated much better and let’s not even expound on how CPS treats children with disabilities….but please keep pointing out the inefficiency maybe someone will listen….ever hopeful but worn out …..

  • 113. HSObsessed  |  August 28, 2013 at 10:48 am

    @108 said —

    … “wait six weeks until we might deign to mail you a magic piece of paper, then present yourself in person on THESE TWO DAYS that we’re only going to give you 48 hours warning for. What, you had somewhere else to be that day? DO YOU NOT LOVE YOUR CHILD???”…

    Ha, that made me laugh. Totally true. When an administrator called me at work last spring to offer my kid a spot at a high school program she applied to and demanded a yes/no right then and there NO, WE MUST FILL THESE SPOTS RIGHT NOW, I was reminded of my days living in China, where space and resources were tight and if you didn’t make a move, there were 1.3 billion people right behind you, waiting to take your spot in line. That’s how CPS is.

  • 114. local  |  August 28, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Pre-order, anyone?

    Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools by Diane Ravitch


  • 115. HSObsessed  |  August 29, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Interesting read on Slate today: “If you send your kid to a private school, you are a bad person: A manifesto”

    Touches on a lot of themes we’ve discussed over the years, including whether kids with involved parents can do fine in any school, the inherent value of learning in a diverse environment, whether you can really “risk” your kid’s one and only chance for an education by sending him/her to the local public school even if it’s not so great, et al.


  • 116. IBobsessed  |  August 29, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    @HSObsessed, as a CPS, private, and now again CPS parent, I read this at lunch and laughed and cringed all the way through. I returned my kid to CPS for some of the reasons he states, although not for the altruistic ones. His ethical argument is not sound. Roles, especially chosen ones like parenthood, involve special ethical responsibilities to particular people. I think I have a greater obligation to further my child’s well being than I do to further the well being of the group. Imagine life if parents did not act this way.

  • 117. LUV2europe  |  August 29, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    115 I read the article too. I’m not willing to wait generations for some public schools to improve, Sounds like the author enjoyed drinking in the trailer park more than getting and education anyway so call it slightly defensive fluff.. Private is a viable option for many people.

  • 118. HSObsessed  |  August 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Oh, I agree with you both, 116 and 117. Although I agree that everyone should send their kid to public schools, I personally wouldn’t send my kid to any one that I didn’t think was up to a certain standard, for sure, speaking both about safety as well as academic challenge. It’s always just a question of where people’s standards of “good enough” are set that’s interesting to observe. It’s been great to see the pool of Chicago schools that are “good enough” get much bigger over the 12 years I’ve been following the CPS scene.

  • 119. Peter  |  August 29, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    @118, and the numbers of good schools seems to increase every year.

  • 120. Leggy Mountbatten  |  August 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Not to sound like a total wanker here, but can’t the teacher just learn how to input addresses into a label program so that they’re done, say, the week before school and don’t have to hand address envelopes the rest of the year? Call me nutty, but I think that might just work.

    Oh, and if they don’t want to pay for said labels, ask a parent ot donate them. They ask for pretty much everything at this point anyway.

  • 121. klm  |  August 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm



    It’s one thing to send your kids to say, Ogden, instead of Latin. It’s all together different (as has been suggested above) when one chooses, say, Latin vs. Wells for high school.

    If I have to hear again about how education is so much more than actual ACADEMIC learning and “real life among the socio-economically diverse” kids is more important, I’ll scream. First, kids at academically lousy schools aren’t learning about “all kinds of people,” they’re learning about how kids go to these kinds of schools live, i.e., low-income kids from homes where parents are not aware enough or financially capable enough to give their kids other options (as in moving or going private).

    Does anybody really think.that kids that went to Latin or Lab will have missed out on a whole lot, when it comes to getting through life as a working adult living off of one’s own paycheck? Do people that graduated from Lain or Parker really not know how to deal with brown people or people with big hair that chew gum when they get into college or the workforce?

    I know plenty of people that went to New Trier. Most didn’t love it, some didn’t even really like it (how many people ever really like HS, after all?), but they’ve all said something to the effect of, “But when I went to college boy, I realized that I was totally prepared to do well in my classes.” Somehow, they’re all able to be civil towards and usually genuinely nice towards people that aren’t even upper-middle-class and/or white,…isn’t that amazing? Of course, if they’d have gone to Morgan Park or Wells, they’s be so much more wiser about the wider world around them, according to some. I mean, everybody knows that growing up in the ghetto or a trailer park or just plain segregated, low-income neighborhoods makes one so more open-minded, less prejudiced.and learned about the wider world –uh huh.

    How many people that went to Wells, Simeon or Robeson can say honestly say that when they went to U of I their freshman year they were so grateful for the excellent academic preparation they had in HS?

    Having gone to objectively lousy public schools until my SICP/Loyola/Fenwick-type HS (and Oh My God, what a difference!), I don’t think most people that grew up middle-class and went to decent public schools actually know how bad things are in some schools. If they did, this sort of discussion would be a non-issue (although I get that those that responded don’t really agree with the writer of the above article, either).

    I send my kids to CPS schools because they are good ones, academically, by anybody’s standards, which is what matters most. There are no guaranteed in life, but the academic side of education in not an area anybody should be so glib about, unless they really don’t care if their kids end up stuck in a paycheck-to-paycheck struggle with bad teeth because they could never afford dental care.

    Money does not but happiness, but being poor and uneducated enough to not get a decent job with a few benefits will almost guarantee a certain level of misery, take it from me as somebody who grew up in the projects and trailer parks.

    This article was kinda’ fun to read, but its premise is totally screwed up (hence my tirade).

  • 122. Veteran  |  August 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I think the clerks could easily do address labels. They have the access, materials and would protect student confidentiality.
    With the influx of parent volunteers, paid or unpaid and the privatized janitors we need to be vigilant about what we leave out in the open/on our desks etc.

  • 123. karet  |  August 29, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    @klm, You have a lot more faith in the Parker students than I do! A young woman recently told me how she was relentlessly teased the entire time she went to Parker, because the other kids knew she was on scholarship. Diversity is very important, IMO (both racial and socio-economic). I don’t think it matters whether you find it in a public or private school, but you’re more likely to find it in a public school.

  • 124. IB obsessed  |  August 29, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    @121 KLM, I don’t disagree with your overall point. However, don’t you think there are some worthwhile non-academic benefits to be gained from exposure to a range of economic levels, viewpoints from cultures different from your own or even just 1st hand awareness that your life is way more privileged than others. This is an experience you are unlikely to have at a private school. I’m talking private independent, not Catholic, which is a whole other animal. Catholic elementary schools are not so populated by the monied set, but are generally not very diverse. Mostly middle class whites. I’m hoping my kid will now get we are not poor, which is a hilarious notion, and will appreciate better what she has, while also getting very sound academics from her CPS magnet school (one of the actually diverse ones). I can’t believe all New Trier students just coast along in diverse environments because of the top notch academics they received in HS.

  • 125. Questioner  |  August 30, 2013 at 5:20 am

    @121. “Do people that graduated from Latin or Parker really not know how to deal with brown people or people with big hair that chew gum when they get into college or the workforce?” Yes, some really do not.

  • 126. Esmom  |  August 30, 2013 at 9:01 am

    “I can’t believe all New Trier students just coast along in diverse environments because of the top notch academics they received in HS.”

    It’s an interesting question that’s never occurred to me before but I tend to think an strong academic experience like NT’s, with its highly educated faculty, actually would be very beneficial in the “real world.” The kids aren’t just learning abstract concepts in a vacuum and are probably gaining a lot more than kids in a diverse but academically lower performing school.

    For example, at the CPS schools my kids attended, the kids tended to self segregate, and were much more likely to befriend kids who “looked” more like them, or who had similar interests. Of course there were exceptions (as I’m sure there are exceptions at New Trier) but for the most part I don’t think my kids benefitted as much from the diversity as I’d initially imagined.

  • 127. cpsdadof2  |  August 30, 2013 at 11:18 am

    @126, this diversity thing is way overrated. Haven’t the kids in Chicago already exposed to the diversity in our daily lives? Academics should always be the main focus of education. Many skills derived from academics are very important in the “real world” and help to shape character too.

    About “highly educated faculty”, in my experience, education level is not indicative of a good teacher. My math teacher in high school only had junior college degree. He is by far the best teacher I’ve had. He had ways to make complicated concept easy to understand. On the other hand, most of my graduate school professors were pretty lousy teachers, though they are PhDs from MIT, Stanford, etc., and on top of their own fields. IMHO, teaching is a gift, some born with it some don’t.

  • 128. local  |  August 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm


    VIRTUAL SCHOOL, REAL HARD TIMES: The Florida Virtual School—the largest state-sponsored online K-12 school in the country—is facing troubled times, a sign of major policy shifts now reshaping the world of online education. On the heels of new state legislation aimed at containing costs and promoting competition among providers offering individual online courses to students, Florida Virtual School officials expect to see a 20 percent drop in state revenue this school year and announced this month that they have shed one-third of their workforce. (Education Week)

  • 129. Iheoma  |  August 30, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Why is New Trier high school used frequently in this conversation as a reference point for so many things? There are other high performing suburban schools that can be used as a point of comparison with the SEHS that most people are talking about.

    Regarding diversity – I think that it’s not an argument of diversity OR academic opportunities. There is no question in my mind, that a strong school with outstanding academic, extracurricular and college (or career) planning services is 100% better than one that is diverse that is average or subpar in any or all of these areas. But education is enriched when people learn with and from a diverse group of people. When kids only learn with people just like themselves (socially or economically or academically) they have a limited view of life and limited emotional intelligence. I think that many folks will say that emotional intelligence is not important but it makes a difference when hiring managers make the difference between a brilliant mind who can only work with super smart folks vs. a smart or average person who knows how to work together with and lead a variety of people. People will hire a brilliant jerk but they won’t succeed long term.

  • 130. Peter  |  August 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    MayfairDad is correct.

  • 131. Iheoma  |  August 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I agree that the best teachers are not always the ones that have the most advanced degrees from prestige (aka Ivy League) universities. But I do think that CPS has a variety of schools that are the first choice for many folks from these schools. CPS also pays pretty well – not as high as places like Lake Forest, but much better than many suburban districts.

    @55 and @58,

    Lindblom listed short autobiographies on their new faculty this year. There was quite a mixture of schools. All had graduate degrees Here are the undergraduate schools listed:

    School of Art Institute Chicago (1)
    Sewanee: University of the South (1)
    The University of Chicago (2)
    University of Michigan(1)
    DePaul University (1)
    Loyola University Chicago – (2)
    Columbia College Chicago – (2)
    Northwestern University (2)
    University of Illinois – Champaign-Urbana (3)
    Trinity Christian College (1)
    University of Wisconsin – Parkside (1) – resident principal
    University of Minnesota – Duluth (1)
    University of Illinois – Chicago (1)
    Anna Maria College (1)

  • 132. Esmom  |  August 30, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    @129, I only used New Trier as an example because it was referenced in previous comments. I agree other schools can be used as points of reference. Glenbrook North, for example, came out ahead of NT in one of the “best high schools” lists this year. Still, I think NT has an enduring reputation (partially self perpetuated, I’m sure) as the “gold standard.”

  • 133. Veteran  |  August 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I would like to see how many of the teachers and administrators have received their grad or doctorate degrees from online universities such as ACE or Phoenix…..

  • 134. Iheoma  |  August 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    @ 133 – If you’re referring to Lindblom – none of the new teachers have degrees graduate degrees from online universities. Most are from schools similar to their undergrads. Check out the school’s website for their specifics.

  • 135. Jerry K  |  August 30, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    “@121. “Do people that graduated from Latin or Parker really not know how to deal with brown people or people with big hair that chew gum when they get into college or the workforce?” Yes, some really do not.”

    It works both ways. There are plenty of public school non-whites that don’t know how to deal with whites/asians. In fact, based on experience, I’d say its even worse going that way.

  • 136. Jerry K  |  August 30, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    @118 “Although I agree that everyone should send their kid to public schools

    There is a famous historical figure who agrees with that statement. Back in 1937 he said: “The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”

  • 137. HSObsessed  |  August 30, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    @136 – Godwin’s Law is proven correct once again.

  • 138. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  September 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    I think the purpose of public education should be help children learn the sets of skills and knowledge that will enable them to decide how to live their lives. Math, science, history, literature, composition, art, music, physical education are all part of this. Some students and their families will make good use of the opportunity; others will not.

    The schools are useful sites to achieve other ends (e.g., integration, healthcare), but the responsibility of achieving them should not rest with the school system and the school system should not be judged based on achieving those ends.

  • 139. local  |  September 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    A day in the life of a Chicago HS teacher: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/03/chicago-teacher-south-side

  • 140. Angie  |  September 4, 2013 at 7:13 am

    @139. local: Sorry, but I just have to laugh when American teachers demand to be treated like their counterparts in Finland, where only the best of the best are allowed into teaching.


    03 September 2013 5:34pm

    I had bad grades in high school, didn’t really like school. I was lazy and not super motivated in some classes. It was later in high school that I worked with little kids at a football camp that I realized teaching was an option. After getting rejected from a few colleges I wanted to attend I got accepted into one and got my grades and motivation up and really got into wanting to be a teacher.”

  • 141. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 4, 2013 at 8:00 am

    140. Angie | September 4, 2013 at 7:13 am

    It’s not uncommon for ppl in many professions not to be the best student in HS. I know ppl who coasted through HS (mostly private hs), got into great colleges bc of their parents and are doing fantastic now in their careers. It’s not always the highest achiever in hs that achieves the highest in life/career.

  • 142. Veteran  |  September 4, 2013 at 10:28 am

    # 140. I agree. I am concerned when posters spout off “the best and the brightest” I am a special education teacher and my students would not be called. “the best and the brightest” in a country such as Finland, which severely restricts those who enter the teaching profession. I have had students who had a rocky time in grammar school until they figured out (usually due to a sped program) how to work around their disability, blossomed in high school and did go on to college. A few did enter the teaching field.

    I have worked with teachers and administrators who were quite competent in spite of their disabilities. This is America. We educate everyone. In Europe, if you don’t pass a test at age 16 you don’t go to college. Think about that….

    Personal observation-the extremely bright people who enter teaching sometimes are lousy teachers because they have no clue how to “break it down”

    Unfortunately, in America, unlike Europe, respect for an occupation is based upon salary and no one goes into teaching for the money.

  • 143. Angie  |  September 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    @142. Veteran :”Unfortunately, in America, unlike Europe, respect for an occupation is based upon salary and no one goes into teaching for the money.”

    It’s not the salary, it’s how you go about getting it. Protecting the bad teachers, denying children recess to get home earlier, throwing a fit when asked to work 30 minutes longer and take lunch mid-day, closing down schools and going on strike for more money under the false pretenses are just some of the reasons I don’t respect the unionized teachers in general.

    That said, I have met some very good teachers and I most certainly respect them.

  • 144. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  September 4, 2013 at 10:25 pm


    In Europe, if you don’t pass a test at age 16 you don’t go to college. Think about that…

    This gets to the heart of this thread, acknowledging that how true this is varies by country. But certainly in France and Germany, if you muck up the equivalent of you US HS education, your future economic prospects are dimmer than those of your peers who excelled academically. But France and Germany and other EU states have taken steps to make sure that vocational paths are open to those who eschew traditional pathways.

  • 145. cpsobsessed  |  September 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Interesting piece on teachers standards on WBEZ with an intro here by Linda Lutton.

    Great reporting by my colleague Odette Yousef. Pass rates for the basic skills test you must take if you want to be a teacher in Illinois used to be 86%. Today, three years after the state raised standards in an effort to increase teacher quality, it’s 39%. African Americans and Latinos have seen their pass rates plummet by even more. If you have time, the discussion is terrific too (begins at 10:21), and includes more perspectives from teachers and also from Illinois State Superintendent of Schools Christopher Koch.


  • 146. Charla  |  September 6, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Depressing. Morgan Park High School has the following as a “10-year plan”:

    1. Apply research-based concepts such as CHAMPS to deal with discipline problems.
    2. Motivate teachers to participate more in professional development
    3. Teach reading comprehension skills
    4. Identify and perform intervention for kids who can’t read or do math.

    So, how wonderful, for 10 more years this school will not be an option for 19th Ward families. What a crock.


  • 147. Helen T  |  September 13, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    @ 137. Someone doesn’t really understand Godwin’s law or it’s worth.

  • 148. local  |  September 14, 2013 at 11:04 am

    @ 146. Charla | September 6, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Wow. That is sooo sad! It’s like the school is starting from scratch from the bottom.

  • 149. Veteran  |  September 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Please open the link below and call Gery Chico’s office at ISBE and give your input against eliminating special education cap sizes. This would affect both children with disabilities and the gen ed population-in CPS this would be a total disaster- right now a gen ed classroom cannot have more than 30% of its students with IEPs….30% is too high in most cases but to have no limit is preposterous…please call and give your name and which school district you live or work in…,,the women who take the info are extremely polite….


  • 150. Veteran  |  September 15, 2013 at 9:20 am


    This is the future of education?

  • 151. cpsobsessed  |  September 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm


    Some info from RYH on a meeting they had with CPS about the budget (discusses the SUPES principal training.) An excerpt:

    RYH: There is a $1 billion deficit and 50 schools were just closed. Is this the best time to prioritize increasing funding to charters?

    CPS: Yes. The decision has been made. We feel spending money on charters, investing in principals… these things are needed now.

    RYH: The $20 million contract with SUPES was a no-bid contract and they have connections to CEO Bennett.

    CPS: SUPES has unique capabilities to help principals. We do “sole source” [internal name for no-bid contract] on a lot of things. If we determine that a company has unique skills, they own that industry, we can do a no-bid contract. An example of another sole source is Gordion. In the view of the CPS people who help principals get better, SUPES is unique. SUPES was evaluated by that CPS Team. This $20 million investment to make principals stronger was a strategic investment.

    RYH: More important than hiring librarians for our schools?

    CPS: Yes.

  • 152. Veteran  |  September 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Wow! The arrogance is unbelievable! So CPS is paying for principals to attend this SUPES Academy and obtain coursework designed for them to receive a superintendent’s license and then they leave CPS-what a deal! Of course, I can’t really blame any principal who leaves for greener pastures. I just don’t think we have the monies for this nonsense.

  • 153. Angie  |  September 19, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Here’s an excellent review of Diane Ravitch’s new book:


    “Get ready for the world’s longest excuse note: Diane Ravitch’s new book “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to Public Schools.” Only this note is from the teachers’ unions (who have paid Ravitch for her flackery) to you.

    The dog ate your child’s education.”

  • 154. Falconergrad  |  September 19, 2013 at 11:09 am

    That’s not a book review. It’s an editorial piece. It even says OPINION at the top. It would have been a lot more interesting to me if it had citations so I could read the original materials the opinions are based on.

  • 155. Angie  |  September 19, 2013 at 11:55 am

    @154. Falconergrad: Why not download the book and make up your own mind? Only 12 bucks on Amazon.

  • 156. Veteran  |  September 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Dessert for the Republicans-rich/poor/rich schools/poor schools


  • 157. leftguy  |  September 20, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    “What is “fair” for us to demand out of CPS?”

    An education system that’s organized around introducing students to the demands of the world as it is and prepares them to take responsibility for it in a way that improves this world for the future. The details of what this entails should be hashed by the local adults.

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