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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CPS to do an about-face

I wish that when I was in high school they allowed us a specialty at least to make most of us prepared for the work place. They generally didn't or at least didn't allow us that option or at least not at my high school. Perhaps the one size fits all model for public education doesn't work because most students aren't going to be cut out for either going to college or working in a field the education system was gearing us up for. So I'm glad there is a plan for some curriculum variety. From the Defender...
In 2001, under a multi-million dollar Chicago Public Schools redesign initiative, Orr High School was divided into three smaller schools. But high drop out rates, and low test scores have proven that the initiative did not work, and CPS CEO Arne Duncan is reversing the organization's decision.

Orr is on his list of critical “turnaround” schools. New proposals are being developed for these schools, and will be presented to The Chicago Board of Education this month. “The need for change in these schools is urgent. We can't wait to provide better education options for our children.

We have to find a way to do it now,” he said. Under Duncan's proposal, Orr will be managed by the Academy for Urban School Leadership. The AUSL led the turnaround effort at the Sherman School of Excellence in 2006 and the Harvard School of Excellence in 2007. CPS officials pointed to increased test scores at Sherman, and increased attendance at Harvard as evidence of AUSL's success and are depending on them to do it again.

Longer school days for ninth and tenth grade students, the ability for students to choose a liberal arts or technical course of study and a teacher training center are all part of the AUSL's plan.

All faculty who currently teach at Orr's three subdivisions - Mose Vines High School, Applied Arts Science and Technology Academy High School and Excel-Orr Academy - will have to reapply for their positions, CPS officials said. Yesterday, students from the three schools packed into the CPS central headquarters, 125 S. Clark, for a forum on the proposed changes.
I don't share the pessimism that there will always be gang fights. I think it can be cut down to zero if we can rid some of our schools of these kids who only go to class to stir up trouble. I wonder what the issue of disclipline is in the high schools these days. I really would like to know that today's students don't have to be screened before they go to class everyday.

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