During the press conference on school closings and turnarounds today, the reporters there were handed a single sheet of paper with the names of the 38 schools that will get a “culture of calm” grant.


During the press conference on school closings and turnarounds today, the reporters there were handed a single sheet of paper with the names of the 38 schools that will get a “culture of calm” grant.

The schools will get some portion of $18 million to fund plans the principals submitted to the district. CPS has yet to reveal exactly what each principal asked for and will receive. But last week, I detailed Robeson’s plan, which includes money to hire more counselors and truancy officers, and to provide a lesson plan around restorative justice (which focuses on making amends for wrong doing) for students serving in-school suspensions.

CEO Ron Huberman has emphasized that each plan is different and that the cash will not be divided equally among schools.

The only non-neighborhood school is Michele Clark Magnet School on the West Side. While students are chosen by random lottery for admission, generally, magnets fare better than neighborhood schools.

 Below are the names of the schools:

   Bowen—B.E.S.T., Chicago Discovery, Global Visions and New Millenium 
   Chicago Vocational 
   Gage Park 
  Hyde Park 
Kelvyn Park 
  Little Village—Infinity, Multicultural Arts, Social Justice and World Language 
  South Shore—School of Arts, School of Entrepreneurship, School of Leadership, School of                              Technology 
  TEAM Englewood 

From Thursday, Jan. 12–CEO Ron Huberman announced Tuesday the first real details of his
two-year $60 million safety and security initiative, saying that more than half
will go to the 38 schools deemed most dangerous to fund their “culture
of calm” plans—principal wish lists for truancy officers, additional
counselors and the like.

The other big chunk of money—some $10 million—will go to mentoring, some of which will be done by community
organizations and some by workers hired by the Philadelphia-based Youth Advocate Programs. The community organizations will be responsible for working with 2,000 students who are likely to be victims of violence, and YAP is
charged with mentoring and providing jobs to the 250 most at-risk

Of the $30 million to be spent this year—paid for with federal stimulus funds–$2 million
will be spent to ensure students can get safely from home to school and
back by providing community patrols.

Next week the district will announce a Blue Ribbon Commission of parents,
community members and religious leaders who will provide feedback to
Huberman on the plan.

Today’s details come five months after Huberman outlined the general sketches of the plan.

Huberman used five years of demographic data on violent incidents involving CPS students to predict which young people had a high
likelihood of being shot; 10,000 students were identified, with 250
considered most at-risk category. Eighty percent of these students come
from the 38 schools.

Revealing the plan

Before today, Huberman has been reluctant to provide much more
information, including the names of the schools eligible for the
additional money, the source of the money and what the schools
planned to do with it. I submitted a Freedom of Information Act asking
for the particulars.

Several high school principals I talked to last week told me they were
meeting about the plans and expecting money soon. But this past Friday,
CPS officials responded via e-mail to my FOIA request and stated that
“there are no finalized safety and security plans by a particular 38
schools. The anti-violence initiative is still being formulated and a
list of schools that may participate has not been finalized.” 

When I asked today what had happened since Friday, Huberman said that
“perhaps the plan was still being finalized.” He did commit to
revealing the names of the 38 schools, which I am awaiting.

Previously, Huberman said he didn’t want to reveal the schools’ names
to protect them from being stigmatized. Today’s announcement was made
at Robeson High School, thereby identifying that Englewood school as
one of the most dangerous. Robeson is set to receive $1 million under
the initiative.

Huberman praised Robeson Principal Gerald Morrow, commenting that he was doing great things at the school.

Morrow responded by heaping praise on Huberman and Mayor Richard Daley, who was unable to attend today’s press conference.

Morrow called the infusion of money to Robeson and other
poorly-performing high schools in low-income neighborhoods

“A lot of our schools were emotionally unsafe,” Morrow said. “We have
to address the needs of students to find out why they are deficient. We
don’t need to add another security guard. We need to find out what is
going on at home.”

Each school’s plan is unique. Huberman would not commit to providing details on all of them.

Robeson’s plan includes money for truant officers, which in a highly
criticized move were eliminated system-wide in 1995. It is unclear
whether the truant officers will work for CPS or come from community
organizations hired to do the work.

Robeson will also hire more counselors and social workers, as well as a coordinator for the initiative.

Fewer out-of-school suspensions

Robeson administrators will try to avoid giving students an
out-of-school suspension, sending them instead to an in-school
suspension program that will have counselors and provide
lessons on social and emotional issues.

The shift away from out-of-school suspension is something the CEO wants to see happen system-wide. “The common theme is that we want to change how
discipline is done,” Huberman said.

Catalyst’s June 2009 In Depth report revealed that the number of
students suspended in CPS doubled from 2003 to 2008
.  In 2007-2008,
more than 50,000 students were suspended–often more than once. For black males, the suspension rate was double the district average. CPS has the one of the highest rate of suspensions in any
large urban school district, according to our analysis.

While these programs are just getting off the ground, Huberman said his
“predictive model” is already proving reliable. Forty percent of the 102 CPS
students who have been victims of violence this school year were among the 10,000 identified as vulnerable. All of the 18
students who were killed were part of that group.


Sarah is the deputy editor of Catalyst Chicago.

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