Immigrant student faces language, social hurdles

On the surface, Jafet Melendez looks pretty much like any other 8th-grader at Pulaski Elementary in Bucktown. But in reality, he is still closely tied to the place he called home until 18 months ago: a neighborhood just outside Mexico City. Jafet’s experiences over the past 18 months illustrate some the challenges facing the 57,700 students in Chicago Public Schools whose native language is not English.

CPS joins national trend in polling the public

While market research firms are getting more business from school districts, polling experts urge caution in the interpretation and use of the results. Questions on any survey can contain hints that push respondents toward a particular response. The sequence of questions can have the same affect. And the size and composition of the sample can have an impact.

Q&A with Jonathan Kozol

In his best-selling book “The Shame of the Nation: The Return of Apartheid Schooling in America,” Jonathan Kozol argues that public schools are further away than ever from the goal of equal, integrated education set in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.

Top brass on the line in Philadelphia, Miami

Chicago’s response to NCLB restructuring is modest compared to what’s in store for persistently low-performing schools in Philadelphia and Miami. Superintendents in both cities are putting themselves on the line by taking direct control of a small group of schools, a personal guarantee that those schools would do better.

Board to call shots on new federal money

Title I funding for CPS will rise to $216 million, according to Budget Director John Maiorca. Of that amount, $125 million will be distributed to 481 schools through a formula that reflects the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price student lunches and federal family assistance. The per-pupil amount ranges from $281 to $995, depending on the concentration of poverty.

CPS reluctantly offers parents tutoring choices under federal law

Just as Chicago provided school choice to students at only a portion of the eligible schools last fall, CPS now proposes to provide parental-choice tutoring this year to children at only 13 of the 25 eligible schools, leaving 12 high schools out of the loop. Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins cites unspecified “questions” about serving the high schools this year.