Deal would improve board, CTU relations

If the Illinois General Assembly ratifies the agreement by amending state law , it will open the door for the teachers union to negotiate the impact of layoffs, class size, staffing and other workplace issues that have been off-limits for years. It also will create a labor-management council, which gives all school unions a forum to regularly voice their concerns, and a partnership agreement, which requires the two sides to work together to plan and implement school improvement initiatives.

Balancing the scales for special ed

According to the Consortium on Chicago School Research, disabled high school students have been increasingly segregated in the most academically troubled schools. Austin High School is at the top of the list. There, 40 percent of this year’s incoming freshmen are in special education.

Funding reform is next battle for equity

Between 1980 and today, the percentage of white students enrolled in the Chicago Public Schools has dropped from 20 percent to less than 10, and they’re not sprinkled evenly throughout this far-flung district, making racial integration a pipe dream. And no one—Latino, African American or white—wants forced busing.

Early education needed to close learning gap

Over a 2½-year period, researchers recorded naturally occurring conversations in the homes of families with 1- and 2-year-old children. Not surprisingly, the children whose parents talked to them more developed bigger vocabularies and were more able to think conceptually-skills that make it easier to learn how to read.

Getting personal is what it takes to help kids

In terms of numbers, guidance counselors are waging a losing battle—at the high school level, the School Board pays for only one counselor for every 360 students, a sure formula for anonymity. Five years ago, the board attempted to rectify the situation by requiring every high school to create an advisory period. There, teachers would meet regularly with 15 or so students to discuss problems and plans for the future. The thinking was, if kids felt teachers and other adults in the school knew them better and cared what happened to them, they would perform better in class.

A culture of learning for teachers

In this issue, Catalyst examines the district’s three professional development schools, a model that marries teacher preparation with practice by partnering colleges of education with individual schools. Two of the schools began training new teachers in September. The dazzling National Teachers Academy (NTA) and North Kenwood-Oakland Charter.

Business model has limits for schools

Simply put, Duncan has made it clear that he can maneuver smartly in the cast of thousands that is Chicago school reform. But maneuvering is not the same as getting things done, and Duncan’s starting lineup was weak on the administrative and political expertise necessary to take action, follow through and see that others do so as well.

Finally focus shifts to principals

A year ago, Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins rolled out a districtwide reorganization plan that, in the mold of District 2, provided support and training for principals to become leaders of instruction. Schools were grouped into 24 smaller subdistricts, each headed by an “area instructional officer” who would visit classrooms with teams of specialists and then offer advice and specialized assistance to principals and teachers. the process is called a walkthrough.

Career education one remedy for ‘boring’ high schools

Samella would advise the mayor to ensure that classes have the materials and facilities they need. Both students were enrolled in what theoretically should be some of the least boring programs in the system, yet they both ended up twiddling their thumbs. If the school system can’t make its career education classes interesting, there’s scant hope for the rest of its programs.