Chicago Public Schools has long offered free preschool to many of the city’s low-income children. This month, the district will launch a preschool program for parents who can pay.
The model revolves around four basic goals: Increase parent and community involvement in the school. Train teachers to use new teaching methods and work collaboratively. Allow students to learn at their own pace in a nurturing environment. Increase the amount of time devoted to classroom instruction. Based on these principles, teachers develop their own lesson plans. Special education students are included in mainstream classes.
MOVING IN/ON Sarah-Kathryn McDonald has been named associate director for policy research at the Consortium of Chicago School Research; she will work to increase awareness of the Consortium’s research findings and direct its communication programs. She has taught marketing, management, research methods and international business at several universities, most recently the University of London. She also has served as a government and public affairs consultant.
Chicago Public Schools has concentrated its efforts at improving problem high schools on teacher performance, but so far to little avail. In 1997, CPS subjected seven failing high schools to reconstitution, a get-tough measure that allowed the board to evaluate and dismiss teachers. A year later, the board rolled out re-engineering, a kinder, gentler version of reconstitution that holds teachers accountable through peer reviews. This year, CPS hit five schools with what might be called the iron fist of accountability—intervention.
The December 2000 issue of Catalyst featured an article that, in the Chicago Public Schools’ view, placed racial overtones on our efforts to expand magnet high school programs. In the article titled, “South Side playing catch-up; Board gives North Side preps lavish facilities, ample time,” Debra Williams implied that the CPS’ college preparatory high schools are supported and publicized primarily based on their location and the ethnicity of their student population. The article highlighted the publicity surrounding the Walter Payton College Preparatory while alleging that of the six new regional college preparatory high schools, Lindblom College Preparatory was not given enough time to develop a new curriculum, identify quality teachers, enhance school facilities and recruit high-achieving students.
It’s a new millennium. It’s been almost six years since Mayor Richard M. Daley’s school leadership team unveiled its plan to improve Chicago’s public schools. And Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas, seen by some pundits as a candidate-in-waiting for governor, isn’t saying how long he will stay around
Paul Vallas says he’s not going anywhere. At least not until June.