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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:25pm
Tue Nov 5, 2013

Ames Middle School Officials, Parents Demand Meeting With CPS Over Military School Plan

Logan Square parents, residents and the Local School Council (LSC) at Ames Middle School say they want Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials to meet with them about the district's plan to affiliate their neighborhood school with the Marine Corps next year. 

Ames LSC members stressed at their meeting Tuesday morning that those from nearby feeder schools should also have an opportunity to weigh in about the decision to convert Ames, located at 1920 N. Hamlin Ave., into a military academy. Those feeder schools include John Barry Elementary, Laughlin Falconer Elementary, Kelvyn Park High School, Sharon Christa McAuliffe Elementary and William P. Nixon Elementary.

No CPS officials attended Ames' morning LSC meeting, although several school district representatives were reportedly invited to attend.

"Nobody has had the courtesy to come to us, the parents, constituents and, most importantly, the students that will be most affected [by this decision]," said Ames LSC member Jose Jaramillo. "We are tired of trying to fight a battle of people making decisions for our school when we are the ones that are vested and give all our time for the excellence of our community and school."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:59pm
Mon Nov 4, 2013

Report: Investments In Education During A Child's First 8 Years Of Life Crucial To Academic, Overall Success

A new national report argues that high-quality, early childhood programs that target the first eight years of a child's life, and include supports for parents lead to better success in school and adulthood. 

To help make its case, the report issued Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation highlighted a recent analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal study, which found just 36 percent of third graders had developed age-appropriate cognitive knowledge and skills. The longitudinal study started tracking 13,000 children who were enrolled in kindergarten during the 1998-1999 school year.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
3:32pm
Mon Nov 4, 2013

CPS Students Dress Like Zombies, Protest The 'Death Of Public Education' (VIDEO)

Excessive testing is taking the life out of education, according to a group of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students who dressed like zombies and marched from the district’s headquarters in Chicago to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office at city hall Friday evening.

Calling themselves “the learning dead,” the students, organized by the Chicago Student Union (CSO), protested the “death of Chicago’s public education system.”

While proponents of standardized testing say it helps to close the achievement gap, roughly a dozen students claimed on Friday that high-stakes testing takes up valuable instruction time and negatively impacts student learning.

“I love to learn, but because education officials put so much emphasis on standardized testing — they use it to measure school success, measure teacher success, measure student success — teachers are forced to teach to the test and that really limits what we can do in the classroom,” said Charlie Murphy, 16, a junior at Lane Technical College Prep High School and member of the CSO.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:17am
Thu Oct 31, 2013

Chicagoans Talk 2014 Budget With Progressive Reform Caucus At Town Hall Meeting (UPDATED)

Public schools, mental health services and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to phaseout the city's health care subsidy for a number of retired municipal workers were some of the concerns Chicagoans raised at a budget town hall meeting Wednesday night.

The city council's Progressive Reform Caucus held the packed town hall meeting at United Electrical Workers Hall and heard comments from dozens of residents about the mayor's proposed 2014 budget, which was unveiled last week.

The mayor's $8.7 billion 2014 budget does not increase property, sales or gas taxes, but Progressive Reform Caucus members expressed worry that the spending plan relies mainly on other increased taxes and fees that would impact everyone from drivers to cigarette smokers to cable TV customers as a means to help close the city's $339 million deficit.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:38pm
Wed Oct 30, 2013

Chicagoans Demand Aldermen Release Crucial Legislation From Rules Committee (VIDEO)

Chicagoans took to City Hall Tuesday afternoon to demand that aldermen resurrect critical ordinances from the Rules Committee, also known to some as the place "where good legislation goes to die."

About 50 organizers with the Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of labor and community groups, staged a "burial protest" highlighting the various measures stalled in the rules committee, putting a specific focus on a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Surplus Ordinance Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) introduced back in July.

The ordinance calls for any TIF surplus funds to be sent back to government agencies, including the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district, which would help ease recent school budget cuts. The measured garnered support from 32 out of the  council's 50 aldermen, but it's been pending in the Rules Committee since it was introduced.

TIF funds come from a portion of collected property tax dollars from those living inside a TIF district. TIF dollars are typically used for economic development projects in the city. The activists, however, said the "buried" TIF Surplus Ordinance would release millions of additional dollars that could be used for the struggling public schools system as well as expanded community services, including the reopening of six city mental health clinics that closed last year.

"But instead of being debated and voted on, this ordinance is stuck in [the] Rules Committee," stressed Grassroots Collaborative Executive Director Amisha Patel. "There it's buried along with many other good ordinances."

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