Teaching’s Mt. Everest: Is it worth it?

Last year, when she was principal of McCosh Elementary, Eason-Watkins supported 11 teachers through the process—more than any other CPS school. “It was a valuable experience,” she observes, “especially the part where they videotaped their classes and looked at what they had done.” National Board also promotes using teachers as instructional leaders, says Eason-Watkins, an idea she would like to see expand.

The College Challenge

Money is one of the biggest hurdles for prospective college students—particularly minority students, whose families, on average, have lower incomes and less wealth than whites. Meanwhile, increases in tuition and fees are now outpacing inflation, according to the College Board, putting the average tuition at a private university at over $16,000 per year. At public universities, the average is about $3,500. Room and board bring the total higher.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which oversees the state’s aid programs, considers rising costs one of the two biggest barriers to higher education – the other is academic preparation for college-level work. The financial burden is particularly heavy on students who don’t complete college, the commission reports, because they do not reap the benefits of higher-paying jobs that go to college graduates. And minority students are far more likely than whites not to complete college, according to commission statistics.

Coming and goings

AT CLARK STREET The School Board has named Tami Doig director of its Academic Accountability Council. She was previously a early childhood programs consultant for the Chicago Archdiocese, and has worked with mentoring and tutoring efforts in Cabrini-Green. Doig replaces Bruce Marchiafava, who is now assistant director of the Academic Accountability Council. …Beatriz Rendon, previously assistant to the board, was named director of CPS After-School Programs, a new position. Craig Solomon, formerly of the Glenview School District, replaces her as board assistant. …The board created and filled two new positions: Brandi Turco is senior assistant to the board; she was previously the mayor’s liaison to the Chicago Park District. Gregory Minniefield is assistant to the board; he was formerly a park district manager.

Helping students cope

The following are available on the Internet:

U.S. Department of Education

Suggestions for principals and teachers on how to make students feel safe at school.

www.ed.gov/inits/september11/educators.html

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

On its Disaster Mental Health Services page, there are tips on how to talk about disaster with children.

www.mentalhealth.org/cmhs/emergencyservices

Education still a priority

It is no disrespect to the thousands of people murdered in New York City, suburban Washington D.C. and rural Pennsylvania for us to acknowledge and be angry about the collateral damage on school reform. For the cause must go on, not simply because that’s the way life is but because the cause is essential for upholding this country’s professed ideals. Democracy can’t work without an educated public. There can be no freedom and justice for all when tolerance isn’t taught. Equal opportunity can’t exist when the quality of schooling is colored coded. As the President declares war on terrorists who find these ideals anathema, the rest of us must recommit to making them real in our communities.

State testing bill could eliminate ITBS in Chicago

Filling in gaps in the state testing system would allow many districts to do likewise, according to Richard Laine of the Illinois Business Education Coalition. That was one idea that motivated his group to begin drafting S.B. 667 two years ago, well ahead of President George W. Bush’s proposal to require annual state testing in those subject areas in grades 3 through 8.

Foundations play major role in small-schools initiative

While the mayor took center stage, the initiative is one that began in the private, non-profit community and, to a large extent, will be steered by that community.

A coalition of groups outside the Chicago Public Schools kick-started the effort to bring the $12 million, five-year Gates grant to Chicago, and members of the same coalition will oversee its spending.

The Creiger Multiplex on the city’s Near West Side, which houses three schools that have their own budgets, curricula and leaders, is a likely model, according to B.J. Walker, a top Daley aide and the city’s point person for this initiative.

Extra money attracts more teachers in other states

North Carolina is one of them. By offering a bonus equal to 12 percent of a teacher’s salary, it has more board-certified teachers—2,409—than any other state. Florida is a close second, with 1,267 board-certified teachers, who earn 10 percent more than their peers without the credential.

Four teachers who made the trek

“We were going through reconstitution,” she says, recalling the School Board’s 1997 crackdown on seven low-performing high schools. “It was saying, ‘You are a lousy teacher, and that’s why this school is so lousy.’ That was one of the worst years of my teaching experience.”

Quest Center is

Quest is widely regarded as the most effective local support program available for National Board Certification candidates. “They really are the Cadillac of most programs that I know of,” says Nancy Schwartz, a regional liaison for the National Board. “It’s very structured, and provides tremendous resources. It takes away the mystery of the process.”

Indeed, the time commitment alone is intense. From September through March, candidates meet three hours every week, and six hours on the first Saturday of the month. Most sessions follow a strict regimen: 60 minutes of group discussion on a set topic related to teaching, then the rest of the time for smaller working groups to prepare portfolio entries.

The trek to National Board Certification

Here is a typical schedule that candidates in Chicago’s Class
of 2002 are following to apply for National Board Certification. Test dates
and application deadlines vary by teacher specialty.

June 2001
—Submit CPS application
—Attend pre-candidate workshop

August 2001
—Attend kickoff workshop