Showdown at Curie High School

The April 2007 meeting of the Curie High School local school council began, as always, with Secretary Norma Valle taking attendance. It didn’t take long. Only six members were present—parents and community representatives, all of them Hispanic. No teachers, no students, no whites, no African-Americans, no principal.

But the lack of a quorum and the absence of Principal Jerryelyn Jones wasn’t much of a surprise. Calling the meeting and highlighting Jones’ absence was the whole point.

Pilsen & Little Village: Community organizing pays off

Five years ago, Little Village was confident of getting a new school because the Board of Education had bought the land and earmarked $30 million for construction. However, political leaders in neighboring Pilsen felt their community deserved a new school, too, and objected to the distant site. Meanwhile, the money got swept away in the rush to build two college prep high schools on the North Side.

Pilsen & Little Village: Constructing a new school

CDC involvement in schools is a trend that began roughly a decade ago and is likely to continue to grow, according to Andrew Mooney, senior program director for LISC in Chicago. “It is part of a CDC’s interest to ensure that community schools are doing well,” says Mooney, who cites a couple of Chicago examples, including involvement of the North River Commission in Northside College Prep.

Pilsen & Little Village: A primer

Older and closer to the Loop, Pilsen is better known to outsiders. Young artists and non-Hispanic whites have been moving to the neighborhood for well over 20 years. The highly regarded Mexican Fine Arts Museum, built in 1987, and an annual Art Walk festival of galleries and showrooms draw people from throughout the city.

Pilsen & Little Village: It’s not your father’s Farragut

In years past, students used to run the halls in groups, attacking each other, according to a 31-year veteran at the school. Fire alarms were pulled nearly every day. On Nov. 6, 1991, 13 students and a teacher were injured, and more than 40 students were arrested in what the Chicago Tribune described as a “daylong series of gang-related skirmishes.”

Improving teaching is a low priority at small high schools

Creating small public high schools was supposed to cure much of what ailed Chicago’s large, failing ones. Breaking through the isolation and anonymity common in large buildings, small schools staff would band together around an essential mission: improving classroom instruction. But reality fell short of expectations, a new study finds.

Research summary

Researchers evaluated the quality of professional development at seven of 23 small high schools that are part of the Chicago High School Redesign Initiative. During 2004-2005, they interviewed 59 principals and teachers, observed 47 staff meetings and conducted case studies at three schools.

Learning First part of the district’s new strategy to improve teaching

Last summer, when Chicago Public Schools staffer Patrick Haugh told a group of administrators that the district planned to launch a new test, administer it three times a year, and get scores back to schools within two weeks, they laughed. Rarely has the district demonstrated such quick turnaround. But CPS has lived up to its promise with the new Learning First tests, part of a sweeping change in how the district measures student and school progress.