It’s been that way in the city’s schools since the state’s service learning requirement kicked in with the Class of ’97. A new set of Baltimore guidelines, however, seeks to diminish the number of 11th-hour cases. Henceforth, students will be expected to log the required 75 hours before they enter junior year, when they often become more involved in extracurricular activities or jobs.
In 1992, the state board finally made service learning a graduation requirement, beginning with the next year’s freshman class. The next year, 1993, advocates successfully defeated an effort by some state legislators to overturn the mandate. But they have yet to win the hearts and minds of all the state’s educators.
DADE COUNTY (MIAMI), FLA. The district requires all high school students to do at least one project during non-school hours that benefits the community. Projects must be pre-approved by a teacher in the Social Studies Department, which is responsible for ensuring that students fulfill the requirement. Students must turn in a form documenting what they did and write an essay analyzing the experience.
Of the 464 candidates who have submitted their credentials to the PRB over the last 10 months, 258 have completed all the requirements to become a CPS principal, according to PRB board member Albert Bennett. The PRB certifies that the requirements have been met and then forwards candidates names to the board’s Human Resources Department.
Griggs is learning once again under the wing of Jeannie Gallo, now the principal of Smyser Accelerated School and his mentor in the training program. Griggs is one of 33 aspiring principals working alongside well-respected principals or in probation schools for a one-semester internship. The group is the first to move through the three-part program of the Leadership Academy and Urban Network for Chicago (LAUNCH), which aims to equip participants with the skills effective Chicago principals use everyday.
Whitfield, who teaches at McKinley’s Lakeside campus, had prepared the seniors for the ACT and SAT college entrance exams and had arranged for them to visit at least eight colleges. “They knew there were options for them, and they knew that those options were based upon their performance, so they performed,” he says.
Opened in fall 1997, Crawford First Education is a far cry from the public schools where its students got in trouble—mainly high schools in Districts 2 and 3, like Westinghouse Vocational and Manley. Its student body is small, only 58 students. For its enrollment, it has a relatively large staff—in addition to Phillips, five teachers, two teacher’s assistants, two case workers and an office manager. Phillips says everyone but the office manager helps teach.
McKinley was ready to offer conflict resolution classes but quickly learned they wouldn’t suffice. “These kids needed one-on-one counseling,” recalls Kennedy, who directs McKinley’s therapeutic and educational services division. “Over 50 percent of them needed counseling. A number of them needed drug counseling.”
With student expulsions soaring, the number of students referred to safe schools has grown markedly. But budget cuts this year reduced the number of seats by a third—to 375, slightly more than half the total number of students expelled last school year.