City wants blacks back. In February, a federal judge rejected a bid by the Indianapolis public schools to reclaim 5,500 black students who are currently bused to suburban schools under a 16-year-old court order, according to the March 12 issue of Education Week.
All children now wear uniforms, a practice favored by the School Reform Board. The average class size is smaller, the result of a redistribution of federal funds at both the city and school levels. And reading instruction has been overhauled to reflect the board’s back-to-basics approach and emphasis on standardized tests.
Gage Park’s local school council ordered Principal Audrey Donaldson to root through the school’s budget to fund an extra bus for the regular summer school students. She did, but it turned out not to be necessary. Enrollment was lower than usual this year, and Donaldson says that most students who enrolled got to Lindblom on their own. Between the buses and some coordinated planning by both schools, the summer at Lindblom went by without a hitch.
Meanwhile, Gage Park is planning to boost both education and discipline with added computer power next year; the school plans to spend over $160,000 on computer hardware and software. Most classrooms will get “mini-labs” with six computers each; these machines, Donaldson hopes, will be networked schoolwide and may let students access the Internet.
Many African-American and Latino parents joined forces last summer to protest the school’s move to a split-shift schedule—since abandoned. However, divisions between leaders in these two communities culminated in a bitter campaign for Gale’s local school council, with Latinos scoring an upset victory. (Gale’s enrollment is roughly one-third Latino and two-thirds African American.)
JAN 19 Nice idea, lousy name Gage Park teacher Arlene Crandall likes the idea of a state-funded program the School Reform Board is offering Gage Park, but she hates the name. The idea: free after-school classes for kids who’ve flunked a course, so they can catch up and graduate on time. The name: The Hispanic Dropout Program. “That’s politically insensitive,” Crandall scoffs.
This month, Gage Park High School on the Southwest Side joins Gale Community Academy on the Far North Side in our series on the the school system’s new leadership and policies, viewed from the bottom up.
The lottery’s twin goals demand a balance of sacrifices from both the school and local families. Each year, hundreds of students are sent miles away to less crowded schools like Tilden and Harlan. To both ease and share the pain, Gage accepts more students than its building is supposed to serve. Built for about 1,250, Gage enrolls almost 1,450 students this year. Teachers shoulder much of the burden by accepting classes that are packed a little fuller than their union contract allows.
A principal’s job is simply too hard without a system that supports her efforts, she said, wondering how long she’d stay.
Snyder was skeptical that the new regime would make any substantial changes. “The School Reform Law has not been enough to change the system,” she said. “And the new law, as written, well. . . .”
Two months later, Snyder is singing a different tune. The new administration “may actually make the principalship a workable job,” she says. In their first weeks, the new chiefs have given her school more help and attention than any of their predecessors.
Principal Snyder offers an update on the projects where Gale is getting School Board help:
The extension of after-school Park District programming. (Frazier is sending a letter today, asking board staff to follow up.)
The space the school is planning to rent from Good News Church. (It won’t be ready as soon as the school had hoped, so there will be more classroom juggling in the next month.)
The plans for Gale’s annex, which at the moment has no architect. About the architect, says Snyder, “It’s gonna be fine. Ben Reyes’s top assistant will get back to me. We’re gonna get there. We’re at the top of that list!” She then reviews the construction plans so far: one building across Marshfield Street, to the west of the school; a covered bridge over the street; and a second building, right next to the school on the Marshfield side.