CONSENT DECREE CPS and the federal government reached a tentative agreement to update the 26-year-old desegregation consent decree. Under the modified decree, the district will be able to decide, without federal oversight, how much money and what resources will go toward integration. U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras cancelled the public hearings scheduled for May 15, angering parents and community leaders. Kocoras delayed approving the modified decree until groups acting as “friends of the court”—the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law—have time to review it and submit their critiques.

CPS GRADS More CPS graduates who go to college are choosing four-year schools, according to a study done by the district’s Department of Postsecondary Education. Sixty-four percent of college-bound graduates enrolled in four-year colleges and universities, up from 60 percent in 2004. The study comes after the release of a new report by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago that showed dismal college graduation rates among CPS graduates, especially African-American and Latino males. The district’s study found a 2.5 percent increase in overall college enrollment and 3.9 percent and 1.3 percent increases in the number of African-American and Latino students enrolling in college.

MOVING IN/ON Deborah Harrington, former vice president of the Woods Fund of Chicago, was named president. She replaces Ricardo Millet, who resigned in March. … Allen Bearden, previously assistant director of teacher quality at University of Illinois at Chicago, now works for the Chicago High School Redesign Initiative coaching five small high schools on school management and professional development. … Siddharth N. Mehta, CEO of HSBC North America Holdings Inc. has been elected to a new seat on The Chicago Public Education Fund’s board of directors.

AT CLARK STREET Dixon Elementary Principal Joan Dameron Crisler was named managing director of LAUNCH, a principal development program. Assistant Principal Sharon A. Dale is acting as principal.

CHARTERS, CONTRACTS The Charter School of the Chicago Children’s Choir will reopen in the fall with a slightly different name and newly organized board of directors. Effective July 1, the school will be known as Choir Academy Charter School of Chicago; Kersen de Jong is board president. … CPS’s two Big Picture high schools, one in Back of the Yards; the other on the Near South Side, have been ordered not to accept freshmen next year. Both schools currently have students in grades 9 through 11, who will be allowed to stay and graduate. CPS is working with both schools to revise curriculum and has not yet made a decision on whether to close the them.

NEW PROGRAM This fall, 10 elementary schools will pilot Focused Instruction, a program that is gaining popularity in urban school districts striving to make adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind. Teachers plan lessons based on student test data, group children by ability for small group instruction, and then regroup them across classrooms every five weeks depending on their progress. Participating schools are: Cardenas, Cather, Faraday, Finkl, Gary, Goldblatt, Kanoon Magnet, Morton, Tilton and Castellanos. All applied to participate and were required to get 80 percent faculty support.

FUNDED State lawmakers approved a $3 million grant for Grow Your Own Illinois, a program that helps residents in poor communities become teachers at their local schools. The organization’s plan calls for training 1,000 teachers over the next 10 years.

SCHOLARS Eighteen CPS seniors have been named Gates Millennium Scholars. They are: Jacquetta Nealon from DuSable; Amanda Jones and Kristen Swims from Hope; Shree Frazier, Timotheus Gordon and Victor Jones from Hyde Park Academy; Bridgette Smith from Kenwood; Michael Jackson and Calvin Smith from King; Isaias Espinoza from Jones; Calicia Smith and Jakita Walter from Lake View; Marshall Hatch from Lincoln Park; Tunisa Rush from Manley; Monica Avalos from Noble Street Charter, Tuyet Ngo from Northside Prep; Claudia Telles from Schurz; Bethany Pacheco from Washington. Scholars will receive full-ride scholarships worth up to $100,000 a year for four years. … Jared Twiss-Brooks from Whitney Young received a corporate-sponsored Merit Scholar from Shell Oil Company. Merit Scholars are chosen based on their academic achievements, SAT scores, recommendations from their principals and written essays. … Five CPS students received National Merit Scholarships. They are: Sarah R. Bayer and Joseph B. Matuch from Lincoln Park High; Iiya Chalik and Maximilian Swiatlowski from Northside College Prep; and Wenna Jia from Whitney Young. Winners will receive $2,500 scholarships.

AWARD WINNERS Six high school teachers, nominated by their students, received Suave Performance Plus Awards. They are: Danielle Delimata, Lane Tech; Khara Criswell, Juarez; Karen Calloway, Kenwood; James Fitzgerald, Hubbard; Brooke Gaynor, Applied Arts, Science and Techonology Academy; Katherine Whitington, Las Casas Occupational. Winners received $3,000; their schools received $1,500.

FUTURE ENTREPRENEURS Nineteen students who participate in their high schools’ National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship program will present their original business plans at the NFTE’s Chicago/CHASE 2006 Teen Business Plan Competition. They will compete for two spots at the national competition in New York and for grants to cover start-up costs for their businesses. They are: Mariam Alaka and Mario Gage from Ariel; Amon Walker, Britni Simmons, Laurel Wilson, Lawrence Yamoah and Samer Haddad from Brooks; Alejandro DeJesus, Christine DeCoudreaux and Moises Navarro from Chicago High School for Agricultural Science; Chandler Davis, Lonnie Hodges and Vincent Williams from Chicago Vocational Career Academy; Kennedy Roberts from Harper; Kiara Harris, Lonimarie Futrell and Shola Lawal from South Shore; Jaleesa Smith from Sullivan and Amy Balasz from Wells.

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