Opinions on five-year high school

The idea of building an optional fifth year into high school, which Chicago plans to do next school year, got a national airing this summer. Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers, advocated it at the union’s July convention as a way to stem dropouts. One other city where the AFT represents teachers, Rochester, N.Y., already was planning a five- year program that would allow students to take fewer classes for longer periods of time. The Rochester school system enrolls about 37,500 students and has a 45 percent dropout.

Opinions on five-year high school

The idea of building an optional fifth year into high school, which Chicago plans to do next school year, got a national airing this summer. Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers, advocated it at the union’s July convention as a way to stem dropouts. One other city where the AFT represents teachers, Rochester, N.Y., already was planning a five- year program that would allow students to take fewer classes for longer periods of time. The Rochester school system enrolls about 37,500 students and has a 45 percent dropout.

Opinions on five-year high school

The idea of building an optional fifth year into high school, which Chicago plans to do next school year, got a national airing this summer. Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers, advocated it at the union’s July convention as a way to stem dropouts. One other city where the AFT represents teachers, Rochester, N.Y., already was planning a five- year program that would allow students to take fewer classes for longer periods of time. The Rochester school system enrolls about 37,500 students and has a 45 percent dropout.

A parent who keeps pushing

Lots of things troubled Pamela Price during the first blush of school reform. The first chairman of the local school council (LSC) at what is now Piccolo Specialty School, Price was concerned about low-performing students, the decrepit building and the rancor that existed between Principal Linda Sienkiewicz and James Stewart, head of the newly split-off middle school.

Reform Opened A New World for Dee Smith

Dee Smith lifts her slight frame onto a high, blue-padded stool and addresses her 5th-graders at Piccolo Specialty School in West Humboldt Park. Holding a dog-eared copy of C. S. Lewis’s “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” Smith asks her students to compare two characters in the book—Aslan, the lion-protagonist, and the witch.

Both characters engage in magic, several youngsters offer, and both want to lead the mythical kingdom of Narnia. “But what are they to each other?” inquires Smith, peering over the rims of her purple half-glasses. “Enemies!” shouts the class in unison.

“So they don’t want the same goals?” wonders Smith on this December morning. A girl pipes up: “Aslan wants to have goodness, and the witch wants evil, and the two qualities don’t go together.” Smith compliments the girl on her word choice (“Qualities—I like that”) and then asks the class to describe the points of view of two other characters.

Corporate-style board backs the CEO

The new board was formulated in the late spring of 1995 after the Illinois legislature handed Mayor Daley the right to name a chief executive officer (CEO) for the public schools and a fresh board, called the School Reform Board of Trustees. The trustees were appointed directly, without the need for City Council approval, to fill four-year terms. Chico, then Daley’s chief of staff, turned down the job of CEO because he wanted to return to practicing law, but he agreed to become board chairman, in part for the chance to work with Vallas. “I appreciated Paul’s skills,” recalls Chico. “We had good chemistry.”

179 partnerships bid for first-round Annenberg funds

To qualify for the grants, networks of schools must pair up with outside institutions as partners. Planning grants of up to $25,000 will be given to networks comprised of at least two schools and a partner. Larger grants to implement programs will be given to networks comprised of at least three schools and a partner.

Council picks a principal,

At a subsequent meeting, the selection committee narrowed its criteria for a new leader, deciding to look for someone with a college degree in the liberal arts, computer literacy, the ability to collaborate, a connection to outside organizations, and knowledge of school reform, school-based budgeting and curriculum.

A tour of duties

Opened in 1896, McCosh was named for the 11th president of Princeton University, a Scotch-born philosopher, back when Woodlawn was up-and-coming, white and prosperous. Woodlawn is now a poor black neighborhood infested with gangs. “Anyone who says otherwise isn’t telling the truth,” says Watkins. “Why, some of our parents are gang members.” One evening a couple years ago, an 8th-grader was killed on the playground in a gang-related shooting.

Learning the ropes

Principals must be rigorously trained initially and on an on-going basis in administration, budget management, effective leadership, staff development, human relations and effective communication.