On Monday, February 12, over eighty people braved the cold to attend a public forum about school ratings in Chicago, titled “What Makes a School Great?” at Kenwood Academy High School. The event was the last of three forums about assessment put on by the coalition Parents and Teachers Driving Testing Policy; the first two focused on special education students and early childhood education, respectively. This forum was sponsored by seven local and national education advocacy groups. The audience included teachers, administrators, afterschool program providers, local school council members, and public education advocates.
Isaiah Day, a sophomore at the Chicago Academy for the Arts, has found his purpose.
The day before the opening night of Hancock College Preparatory High School’s theater showcase “Content Warning: Real Life,” the students in Sarah Baranoff’s Drama II and Drama III classes are thrumming with nervous excitement. In the darkened performance hall within the West Elsdon selective enrollment high school, students walk in and out with costumes in hand, leap on and off the stage, and chatter in the audience seats.
When Illinois House Bill 5530 was passed in July 2016 and became a Public Act, many educators and cafeteria workers were unaware that excess cafeteria food could legally be donated to food pantries and homeless shelters.
Last June, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced their plan to construct a new high school in Englewood, slated to be built on the grounds of what is currently Robeson High School. The new school is yet another component of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “holistic” strategy to reduce crime in Englewood by investing in the neighborhood’s businesses and schools. “Investing in our education, our after-school and summer jobs…is important to our safety and [the] vibrancy of the community,” Emanuel said.
As a high school English teacher, I know that one of the biggest challenges for my students at the beginning of the school year is being sure about an answer to a question. Sometimes students meander and then finally get to an answer; at other times, they only answer one part of the question. Lately, in reviewing my district’s answers to clear-cut questions about how our schools function, I realize that my students are not alone in struggling to come up with good answers.
On a rainy and unseasonably cold October day, Sam Koentopp and others from the national nonprofit organization The Kitchen Community (TKC) was leading the kickoff for the Woodlawn Charter School’s new Learning Garden. Every twenty-minute class began in the cafeteria, with a discussion about gardening and the importance of winter crops—crops that are planted not to be harvested, but to keep the soil filled with nutrients over the winter—and continued out in the garden.
The 1963 Boycott of Chicago Public Schools was a pivotal moment in the history of education and racial justice, not only in Chicago, but in the whole country…I’ll repeat that again.” Then even more slowly and emphatically, Jay Travis, former Executive Director of Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, repeated the statement.
I spent 2016 researching Chicago’s police-in-schools program. I sought to understand the accountability system that allowed a police officer serving in a high school to return to his post only days after fatally shooting an unarmed teenager.