At schools, an upsurge in mental health crises

Calls to the state’s mental health crisis hotline for children have soared in recent years, an increase fueled largely by schools that are seeing more children who exhibit signs of severe mental health problems. Experts point to cuts in community mental health services and more children experiencing the after-effects of violence and trauma as factors prompting more hotline calls from schools. “We know the number of children exposed to violence has increased and that can take its toll,” says one expert.

New school reports show stark gaps in achievement

The marquee outside of Beidler Elementary School in West Garfield Park makes the bold statement: We are off of probation.

But when parents trucked into the school last week to pick up first-quarter report cards, they got some sobering news from the district’s colorful new school progress report: Beidler is categorized as a mid-level school in terms of performance on state tests, but less than a quarter of students scored at or above grade level on a different, more rigorous test and only 7.5 percent of 8th-graders met college readiness benchmarks.

For the Record: Full-day kindergarten

Despite a huge budget deficit, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CEO Jean-Claude Brizard have boasted of committing $15 million to expand full-day kindergarten.

Emanuel emphasized the point at a recent press conference, noting that while other cities are cutting their programs, “in Chicago, 6,000 more children will be in full-day kindergarten.”

CPS releases new guide to bring back recess

For six years, Lynn Morton and her parent activist group POWER-PAC have fought for recess in Chicago’s elementary schools. With the release Monday of a new Chicago Public Schools guide to
implementing recess, it looks like the work is finally paying off.