In any given week, James Zeckhauser juggles myriad tasks—hustling to find candidates to fill job orders, doggedly following up on applications his students have submitted, helping students practice for job interviews, and coaching them as they fill out online applications and call prospective employers. His main task is to help students find work, but the ultimate goal is broader: to get students to connect with something—anything—that will put them on a path toward post-secondary education or a career.
Fifth-grade teacher Leland Sanford and Spanish teacher Christine Brown sat at his desk in the library, surrounded by brown boxes and barren walls. They were not happy. It was the Monday of the last week of school, and Sanford and Brown had just received letters saying that they wouldn’t find out for a few weeks whether they would have jobs in the fall.
Research has shown that parent engagement is an essential component of school improvement. The schools that welcomed students displaced by dozens of closings have an especially tough task on this front: More than a third of them have weak parent involvement, according to a 2012 Consortium on Chicago School Research survey.
When district leaders laid out their plans to close a record number of elementary schools, they promised that the new schools would be better academically than the ones being shuttered and rolled out plans to launch specialty programs in many of the welcoming schools.
A growing number of private buildings subsidized by the Chicago Housing Authority are struggling to pass inspections. Landlords have collected millions while tenants are stuck with substandard conditions.
CPS is part of a federal project to help teens better understand and discuss nonfiction in core subjects. Using an approach called “disciplinary literacy,” teachers aim to help students read history texts the way historians do, and science texts like scientists.
While most high school freshmen read at or just slightly below grade level, there’s another aspect of the teen literacy challenge: students who reach high school but read several years below grade level.
Wells High School freshman reading teacher Jillian Connolly is one of a minority of teachers in CPS high schools with a reading specialist endorsement. Even so, Connolly says she wasn’t fully prepared to work with teen readers.