WBEZ | schools http://www.wbez.org/tags/schools Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois lawmaker wants health dept. to clarify its vaccination rules http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-lawmaker-wants-health-dept-clarify-its-vaccination-rules-111538 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/measles.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; An Illinois lawmaker has filed legislation asking the Illinois Department of Public Health to clarify state regulations on whether children must be vaccinated.</p><p>Democratic Rep. Mike Zalewski&#39;s resolution follows a widely reported measles infection at a suburban Chicago day care center. The cases are among more than 100 nationwide this year.</p><p>Zalewski is the father of three small children. He says the department needs the opportunity to tighten criteria for why kids can opt out of vaccinations by next school year. He also says Illinois&#39; regulations could be clearer.</p><p>State regulations generally require vaccinations for older children in day care centers, but measles shots are not recommended for children under age 1.</p><p>Any rule issued by the department must be approved by legislators.</p></p> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 13:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-lawmaker-wants-health-dept-clarify-its-vaccination-rules-111538 Who needs an adult measles booster shot? http://www.wbez.org/news/who-needs-adult-measles-booster-shot-111524 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP233664971953_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If you&rsquo;re an adult of a certain age, the measles vaccine you received as a child might not be enough.</p><p>In the wake of the spreading measles outbreak that hit a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/five-children-palatine-day-care-diagnosed-measles-111503">local day care center</a> last week, officials say some adults may need to get measles boosters or be re-vaccinated.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a class="underlined" href="http://www.wbez.org/news/city-chicago-falls-below-safe-levels-measles-vaccination-111512">Chicago falls below safe levels for measles vaccination</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the only people who can be presumed immune are the following:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>Those with &ldquo;documentation&rdquo; of receiving a &ldquo;live measles virus containing vaccine&rdquo;</li><li>Those with &ldquo;laboratory evidence of immunity&rdquo; (determined through a test doctors can administer called a titer)</li><li>Those with &ldquo;laboratory confirmation of [having survived the] disease&rdquo; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</li><li>Those born before 1957</li></ul><p>&ldquo;Persons who do not have documentation of adequate vaccination or other acceptable evidence of immunity should be vaccinated,&rdquo; the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said in its <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6204a1.htm">2013 report. </a></p><p>Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Tina Tan said it&rsquo;s also important for adults, especially those in contact with children, to know if they got two doses of the vaccine. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If you have an adult person who is worried about measles and doesn&rsquo;t know whether or not they&rsquo;ve received two doses of the vaccine, they should see their physician,&rdquo; Tan said. &ldquo;If for some reason they are not able to find out if they got two doses it&#39;s not going to hurt them to get a booster dose to protect themselves.&rdquo;</p><p>Between 1963 and 1967, U.S. doctors were administering both &ldquo;killed&rdquo; and &ldquo;live&rdquo; measles vaccines to their patients. Later, it was discovered that the &ldquo;killed&rdquo; vaccine was not effective. So, the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/measles/faqs-dis-vac-risks.htm">CDC suggests</a> that &ldquo;People who were vaccinated prior to 1968 with either inactivated (killed) measles vaccine or measles vaccine of unknown type should be re-vaccinated with at least one dose of live attenuated measles vaccine.&rdquo;</p><p>Tan says this is important not just for an adult&rsquo;s health.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons for adults to get vaccinated is basically to prevent them from getting the disease,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But also to protect young infants that may be around who are too young to be vaccinated.&rdquo;</p><p>The double dosage of measles vaccine is especially important, the CDC report states, &ldquo;for students attending colleges or other post-high school education institutions, health care personnel and international travelers.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> @monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 15:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/who-needs-adult-measles-booster-shot-111524 Inspector General finds questionable conduct in CPS http://www.wbez.org/news/inspector-general-finds-questionable-conduct-cps-111338 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CPS IG LUNCH PHOTO.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-d231fa94-bb41-12b8-a409-b2b852f480ad">Parents who try to sneak their kids into Chicago&rsquo;s selective schools through address fraud have been put on notice.</p><p dir="ltr">A new report by Chicago Public Schools inspector general, Nicholas Schuler, details several cases of admissions fraud investigated by his office over the last year. And his recommendations range from kicking the students out to firing the CPS staff who abetted it.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I hope this sends a message that people need to follow the rules and the rules apply to everybody,&rdquo; Schuler said. &ldquo;And when fraud is discovered there is going to be responsibility for that and the result might be that their child might be disenrolled from the school.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/OIG_FY_2014_AnnualReport.pdf">This year&rsquo;s report</a>, which went live Monday morning, includes the usual array of residency violations, kickback schemes, fake purchases and tuition fraud. But it also documents the desperate acts of parents trying to get their kids into selective schools, administrators trying to fudge their dropout rates and vendors trying to get the inside track on city contracts.</p><p dir="ltr">On Sunday night, CPS released a statement to WBEZ, saying &quot;Chicago Public Schools is committed to working with the Office of the Inspector General to eliminate corruption, fraud and waste across the District. &nbsp;The annual OIG report is a testament of our cooperation and demonstrates we do not tolerate any wrongdoing, and CPS has either addressed or is addressing all the issues in the report.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Although the report cannot name names, WBEZ has been able to fill in some identities through media reports, public documents and confirmations by sources. The purview of the OIG is mainly restricted to CPS employees and so does not represent all violations that occur in the system.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2011, the district replaced race with socio-economics status (by address) as a factor for admission to selective enrollment high schools. This year&rsquo;s report is the first to investigate abuse of this factor by more than a dozen students at six selective enrollment high schools. Another six cases involved CPS employees who had falsified their addresses to appear less affluent and gain their children easier admission. Most of the children identified in the report have been kicked out of the schools, and most of the CPS employees have faced or will face dismissals.</p><p dir="ltr">Monday, CPS said it would consider audits of selective enrollment students in the future.</p><p dir="ltr">The report further detailed $657,000 in back tuition owed by suburban residents who were illegally sending their kids to CPS schools.</p><p dir="ltr">Another prominent case in this year&rsquo;s document involves former Gwendolyn Brooks Preparatory High School principal Dushon Brown. According to the report, on the eve of the 2010-11 school year, she asked a CPS administrator to allow a student who&rsquo;d neither applied for nor taken the selective enrollment exam, to enroll in her school. When the administrator refused, Brown, reportedly &ldquo;phoned a state legislator&rdquo; who phoned the administrator again asking for an exception. The attempts were not successful. The OIG recommended discipline for the principal in its 2012 report.</p><p dir="ltr">In its 2013 report, the OIG detailed a case in which Principal Brown and a Gwendolyn Brooks school operations manager found a bank account opened by the parent booster club of the building&rsquo;s previous occupant, a Catholic school. The report says a &ldquo;local bank inexplicably allowed&rdquo; Brown and the operations manager to take control of the $186,235 of funds and spend $116,974, but never included it in the &ldquo;school&rsquo;s internal accounts ledger.&rdquo; The OIG recommended discipline for the principal, which was still pending at the time of the last report. In today&rsquo;s report the OIG reports that Brown was terminated in 2014 and classified as a &ldquo;Do Not Hire.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The report follows up on another 2012 case in which the OIG found a former chief area officer took nearly $17,000 in travel and gifts (including a $10,000 scholarship) from textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In exchange, according to the report, the CPS officer steered the publisher to nearly $300,000 in business &ldquo;through no-bid, sole source deals.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Last July the CPS Board entered into a settlement with the publisher requiring it to pay a $250,000 fine and to fund an independent monitor to oversee these issues. In addition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt had to train its employees to comply with board ethics policies.</p><p dir="ltr">Another outstanding ethics issue tackled in this year&rsquo;s report involves a dispute between two of the nation&rsquo;s largest food service providers, who were competing for the 2013 school food contract, valued at nearly $100 million a year. Food giant Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality charged that CPS school food chief (and former Aramark manager) Leslie Fowler showed favoritism to her former employer in the contract bidding process. The district asked the OIG to rule on the issue at the time, and it concluded that Fowler&rsquo;s actions &ldquo;did not violate applicable ethics policies.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In its new report, however, the OIG says Fowler &ldquo;engaged in questionable conduct throughout the award process.&rdquo; This included dining twice with the president of Aramark during the process and telling fellow bid committee members that her boss did not want Chartwells to win the contract. The report further says that Fowler told &ldquo;staff members that she did not need to review (Aramark&rsquo;s bid) because she had written proposals for&rdquo; the company herself and Aramark knew what she wanted. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In the process of the Fowler investigation, &ldquo;the OIG also learned that the administrator prodded subordinates to participate in a party game that made people feel uncomfortable.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Attempts to reach Fowler for comment through CPS were unsuccessful.</p><p dir="ltr">In the wake of the case, the OIG has recommended that CPS review the investigation to see &ldquo;if any further action regarding the administrator is warranted.&rdquo; It also recommended that the district &ldquo;review its RFP [contract bidding] policy and ensure adequate training for those involved in the process.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Aramark also<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767"> received one of the nation&rsquo;s largest school custodial contracts </a>last year from CPS when the district privatized its cleaning crews. The Aramark takeover of the program has been met with &nbsp;district-wide complaints of dirty classrooms, theft, damaged materials and bad communication. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Another novel case in this year&rsquo;s report investigated a CPS high school that classified 296 students &nbsp;who dropped out (since 2009) as &ldquo;transfers,&rdquo; allegedly in order to improve its dropout numbers. The school said that the students were headed for GED programs, but Illinois law makes it clear that these students are to be counted as dropouts. Another 121 students at the school were classified as transfers, but the OIG says less than 5 percent of the cases was backed up with &ldquo;adequate written proof.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In another case, the OIG says a high school principal was sending an average of 55 students a day to a kind of first period detention if they were more than 15 minutes tardy. The practice was done to discourage tardiness but the OIG said it occurred more than 10,000 times (recorded as &ldquo;school function&rdquo;) in the 2012-13 school year, resulting in hundreds of thousands of missed instruction minutes. Although principals have leeway to be creative with attendance programs the OIG recommended CPS implement more consistent practices.</p><p dir="ltr">Other cases, among the OIG&rsquo;s 280 this year, dealt with full time CPS teachers who were also employed as full time Chicago Police Department officers; a phony billing scheme at Michele Clark High School that resulted in $870,000 in fraud and principals who fraudulently enrolled their family members as students for a few key weeks to boost attendance numbers.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 11:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/inspector-general-finds-questionable-conduct-cps-111338 Why so few white kids land in CPS — and why it matters http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-so-few-white-kids-land-cps-%E2%80%94-and-why-it-matters-111094 <p><p>Legal segregation may be over in Chicago, but <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/segregated-education-k-12-100456" target="_blank">racial isolation is well documented</a> in Chicago Public Schools.&nbsp;</p><p>CPS can <a href="http://www.cps.edu/Pages/MagnetSchoolsConsentDecree.aspx" target="_blank">no longer use race</a> as an admittance factor and more and more students are <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/more-chicago-kids-say-no-their-neighborhood-grammar-school-110604" target="_blank">eschewing their neighborhood schools</a> for other options. Education watchers argue there&rsquo;s a two-tier system in the district, and that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight/2012-04-25/chicagos-middle-class-not-interested-hidden-gem-high-schools-98519" target="_blank">attracting middle-class families</a> is a Sisyphean task.</p><p>Our segregated school system compelled the following Curious City question from a woman who wanted to remain anonymous:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What percentage of white Chicago school age children attend public school?</em></p><p>Well, the short answer is 51 percent... according to the Census.</p><p>So roughly half of all white children who <em>could </em>go to CPS do, while the other half gets their education somewhere else. By comparison, the number of African-American school-age children who attend CPS is higher than 80 percent.&nbsp;</p><p>Part of this can be explained by a huge gap in the total number of eligible students based on race. More on that later, but first, let&rsquo;s take a closer look at how white parents decide where to send their kids to school.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Where should our kids go to school?</span></p><p>Of course, choosing where to enroll your child in school is an intense and private family decision. Some parents want their children to get a religious education, others want better resources, and sometimes where to go to school is simply a matter of logistics.</p><p>Alice DuBose lives in Andersonville and says she never had a problem with the neighborhood public school. But she did have a problem with its location relative to her job.</p><p>When her children were in elementary school, DuBose worked at the University of Chicago. She enrolled her three children in the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools on campus.</p><p>&ldquo;I could drop the kids off in the morning and go on to work and it was really great when I was working here because then I could just go over and see my daughters, participate in classroom activities to it was absolutely fantastic in that way,&quot; DuBose said.&nbsp;&quot;It was more convenient. If we had gone to a neighborhood school, I could&rsquo;ve never participated in classroom activities.&quot;</p><p>It also didn&rsquo;t hurt that Laboratory is a well-regarded private school with lots of resources. Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s children go there.</p><p>&ldquo;Lab&rsquo;s terrific,&rdquo; DuBose continued. &ldquo;Great teaching, smaller classrooms. All the things that we all want for our children.&rdquo;</p><p>DuBose&rsquo;s daughters attended there until 8th grade and then went on to attend Whitney Young &ndash; a CPS selective enrollment school. Now DuBose hopes her son follows in their footsteps.</p><p>The reality is many middle-class parents, including those not initially in CPS, jockey to get their children in selective public high schools like Whitney Young.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;Support Neighborhood Public Schools&rsquo;</span></p><p>Not far from Lab in Hyde Park, is a white family who was committed to CPS from the very beginning.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/joy%20clendenning%20michael%20scott%20hyde%20park.jpg" title="Joy Clendenning, left, and Michael Scott, right, live in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. All four of their children have enrolled or graduated from a Chicago public school. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" /></div><p>Joy Clendenning and Michael Scott live in Hyde Park. They didn&rsquo;t choose the neighborhood because of the schools. Scott grew up there and has strong family ties and Clendenning loves the quirky intellectualism of the area. The couple say they believe in public education and always knew their children would attend CPS. A sign in their window says &lsquo;Support Neighborhood Public Schools.&rsquo;</p><p>All four of their children attended Ray Elementary through sixth grade. The oldest went to Kenwood Academy&rsquo;s 7th and 8th grade academic center and stayed for high school. He&rsquo;s now a freshman at Occidental College. The second oldest is a sophomore at Whitney Young and started in its academic center. Their twins are currently in 8th grade at Kenwood. &nbsp;</p><p>Ray is a neighborhood school that also accepts students outside its attendance boundary through a lottery. 20 percent of its students are white and 55 percent black. Kenwood is the neighborhood high school and is 86 percent black. Their son was one of only a couple of white students in his graduating class.</p><p>&ldquo;Kenwood was a very good place for Sam and we never thought &#39;this was too black,&#39;&rdquo; Scott said.</p><p>Clendenning says they&#39;re concerned about how many schools and neighborhoods are segregated.</p><p>&quot;And we definitely think it&rsquo;s a problem that people in our neighborhood don&rsquo;t give the public schools a serious try,&quot; she added.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/yearbookphoto1.png" title="Sam Clendenning was one of only a handful of white students in his graduating class at Kenwood Academy. (Photo courtesy of Joy Clendenning) " /></div><p>Our Curious City question asker &ndash; who again wants to remain anonymous &ndash; raised a similar point in a follow-up email:</p><blockquote><p><em>I asked this question because I&#39;ve noticed in my small sampling of visiting public schools, other than a few of the magnet schools, it seems that we have a segregated school system along race lines.</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Few school-age white children in the city</span></p><p>We know Chicago is almost equal parts black, Latino and white, but that&rsquo;s not the case when it comes to the city&rsquo;s youth. So while roughly a third of Chicago&rsquo;s total population is white, most of those numbers skew older. That means there aren&rsquo;t that many white school-age children to begin with.</p><p>Of the some 400,000 students enrolled in CPS K-12, 180,274 are Hispanic, 163,595 are black and just 33,659 are white. Even if all 65,259 eligible white students in the city went to CPS, they&rsquo;d still be far outnumbered by students who are black and brown.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/school%20age%20eligibility1.png" title="Data measures K-12 enrollment. Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago Public Schools " /></div><p>Why does any of this matter?</p><p>&ldquo;Honestly, when you look at the data, it&rsquo;s very disturbing,&rdquo; Elaine Allensworth told WBEZ. Allensworth is the director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;Because I do think we think of ourselves as a multi-ethnic city, a city of racial diversity. But then when you look at the numbers and you see how many schools are one-race schools and how segregated schools are based on race, I don&rsquo;t think that&rsquo;s where we want to be as a society,&quot; she said.</p><p>Segregation is made worse by the low number of white students overall.</p><p>&ldquo;We have a lot of neighborhoods in the city that are 90 percent or more African American or less than 10 percent African American. In fact, the vast majority of the city has that degree of racial segregation,&rdquo; Allensworth said.</p><p>In other words, if we don&rsquo;t live together, we don&rsquo;t tend to learn together.</p><p><a href="http://ec2-23-22-21-132.compute-1.amazonaws.com/chicagoschools" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SchoolsPromo1_0_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Click to launch 2010 map. " /></a><span style="font-size:22px;">Segregated neighborhoods, segregated schools</span></p><p>Take Mt. Greenwood, for example, on the Southwest Side. 82 percent of the student body is white &ndash;&nbsp;the highest percentage in all of CPS. And that makes sense. Mt. Greenwood, the neighborhood, is a majority white community.</p><p>The same holds true for many majority black communities.</p><p>As a result, the schools that serve the neighborhoods are also highly segregated based on race,&rdquo; Allensworth continued. &ldquo;So we have many many schools in the district that are close to 100 percent African American.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Finteractive.wbez.org%2Fschools%2Fthe-big-sort.html&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEk2nK5oAwUsugvrZs7E0f7b8ZPzQ" target="_blank">Those poor-performing schools are typically in poor, black communities</a>&nbsp;that are suffering from substantial unemployment and lack of resources.</p><p>&ldquo;When we look at which schools are struggling the most, they are in the absolutely poorest neighborhoods in the city. &nbsp;We&rsquo;re talking about economic segregation,&rdquo; Allensworth said.&ldquo;There are other schools in affluent African-American communities that do not face the same kind of problems.&rdquo;</p><p>Segregated schools have always been an issue in Chicago, but it <em>looked </em>different back in the day.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1964%20to%202013%20draft3.png" title="Sources: Chicago Public Schools Racial Ethnic Surveys and Stats and Facts" /></div></div><p>In the 1960s, CPS&rsquo;s student body was roughly 50 percent white and 50 percent black. Over time white students in the district steadily disappeared. Many neighborhoods transitioned from white to black. Depopulation also played a role.</p><p><span style="text-align: center;">In 1975, whites made up about 25 percent of the student body. By 2013 only 9 percent of CPS students were white.</span></p><p>WBEZ asked CPS officials to weigh in on these numbers. They failed to address the segregation issue and emailed some boilerplate language about &ldquo;serving a diverse population.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CPS 2013 pie chart3.png" style="height: 361px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Source: Chicago Public Schools Race/Ethnic Report School Year 2013-2014" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Where are the white students in CPS?</span></p><p>Again, we know half of white school-age children in Chicago attend CPS. But the question of where they go in CPS is also something that piqued the curiosity of our question asker.</p><p>She wondered if they are disproportionately attending magnet and other selective enrollment schools.</p><p>The answer appears to be, yes.</p><p>Overall, 9 percent of the CPS student population is white. But it&rsquo;s more than double that at magnet, gifted and classical elementary schools. And in the eight selective enrollment high schools &ndash; like Whitney Young &ndash; nearly a quarter of students are white.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very small number of students though because those schools don&rsquo;t serve a large number of students,&rdquo; according to Elaine Allensworth. &ldquo;We really haven&rsquo;t seen that much of a shift in terms of attracting more white students [overall].&rdquo;</p><p>Although our question asker focused on white students, there&rsquo;s another racial shift worth mentioning.</p><p>Beyond black and white, the real story of CPS today may be that it&rsquo;s becoming more Latino.&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author" target="_blank">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me" target="_blank">Google+</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</em></p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the requirements for attending Ray Elementary. It is a neighborhood school that accepts students outside its attendance boundaries through a lottery, not testing.</em></p></p> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 15:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-so-few-white-kids-land-cps-%E2%80%94-and-why-it-matters-111094 High school students play Election Day role http://www.wbez.org/news/high-school-students-play-election-day-role-111059 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Andy Connen schools.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>In second period AP Government at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, there are just four students eligible to vote today.</p><p>Daniel Mortge is one of them.</p><p>&ldquo;My dad wants to take a picture of me, but I told him, &lsquo;No, you can&rsquo;t do that,&rsquo;&rdquo; Mortge says.</p><p>But the rest of the students in this class defy just about every stereotype you&rsquo;ve likely heard about teenagers and politics.</p><p>The class is taught by Andy Conneen and Dan Larsen, who are somewhat famous locally for getting high school kids involved in the political process. The two worked with past groups of students to get Illinois&rsquo; &ldquo;Suffrage at 17&rdquo; law passed. It allows 17-year-olds to vote in the primaries if they&rsquo;ll be 18 by Election Day.</p><p>On the day I visit, the day before Election Day, one student is sharing a stack of political mail with the other students at his table, three others are preparing for their live election night broadcast, others are debriefing with the teachers about the last-minute push for the campaigns they&rsquo;ve been working on.</p><p>And a handful are getting ready to work in jobs that are pivotal on the first Tuesday in November.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to be an election judge tomorrow in Lake Zurich,&rdquo; says Fathma Rahman, a 17-year-old student.</p><p>Rahman is one of about 50 Stevenson students serving as an election judge this year. Across the Chicago region, about 2,000 students are working as election judges. In Chicago, the Chicago Board of Elections and Mikva Challenge have teamed up for the past 15 years to get students working as judges.This year, nearly 1,500 students will work at city precincts.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/175370854&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>All received the necessary training, but Rahman said she&rsquo;s still nervous.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just kind of a big deal, you&rsquo;re helping people, you&rsquo;re putting through their votes,&rdquo; Rahman says. &ldquo;For them, they&rsquo;re just filling it out and giving it to you. But then for you, it&rsquo;s like &lsquo;What if I mess up?&rsquo;&rdquo;<br /><br />Students do have an academic incentive to get involved: five hours of what Conneen calls &ldquo;political service&rdquo; in exchange for a take-home essay for a portion of the final exam.</p><p>But Conneen says the class is more than just a class.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We try to make Civics a lifestyle,&rdquo; he says.<br /><br />He says many young people dismiss political participation altogether because they don&rsquo;t see a party that they&rsquo;d fit into.<br /><br />&ldquo;Both parties have become so polarized because those independents and moderates have left the parties, because they&rsquo;re upset with how polarized the parties have become,&rdquo; Conneen explains. &ldquo;So it actually makes the problem worse.&rdquo;</p><p>He says he thinks the solution to that polarization lies with young people, who tend to be moderates.</p><p>&ldquo;We feel strongly about connecting students with the political parties,&rdquo; Conneen says. &ldquo;They tend to have a lot of common sense solutions to policy conflicts. We hear it all the time when we&rsquo;re talking policy in class. And those voices should be heard by the parties.&rdquo;<br /><br />Conneen says students volunteer for both Republicans and Democrats, and the teachers try to keep a pretty even split. It isn&rsquo;t too hard in Lake County, he says.<br /><br />&ldquo;Lake County voters will be pivotal in deciding who wins Governor,&rdquo; Conneen says. &ldquo;Lake County voters will be pivotal in deciding who wins the 10th Congressional District, and so these are two of the most watched, highly contested contests in the country.&rdquo;<br /><br />Most of these Stevenson students may not get to cast a ballot in those contests, but living in an area with races that are a toss-up can be a good backdrop for teaching democracy.</p><p>Before the bell rings, Conneen reminds students who are election judging to bring both food and extra work.<br /><br />&ldquo;Hey Election Judges! For the first time ever in Lake County, they actually expect that more voters will vote early (rather) than on election day, which means there might be some down time tomorrow. Bring a little homework. Bring a little homework,&rdquo; Conneen tells them.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-de9644bd-7c90-a7f4-a511-d796c83d826a"><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 14:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/high-school-students-play-election-day-role-111059 State releases school test scores, other new data http://www.wbez.org/news/state-releases-school-test-scores-other-new-data-111029 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/7674804806_7bd5ff8688_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s 2014&mdash;the year when No Child Left Behind stated 100 percent of public school children in America were to be proficient in math and reading.</p><p>Spoiler alert: that didn&rsquo;t happen. Not here and not in any other state.</p><p>Scores released today by the Illinois State Board of Education show the percentage of grammar school children considered proficient in reading dipped to 56.8 percent from 58.5 percent, while the percentage of students meeting state standards in math inched up to 58.9 percent from 57.9 percent.</p><p>The percentage of high school juniors meeting standards in reading and math rose from 53.3 percent to 54.3 percent. The average ACT score increased slightly, from 20.3 to 20.4.</p><p>Next year, Illinois will replace the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, or ISAT, for grammar school children and the Prairie State Achievement Exam, or PSAE, for high school juniors with the PARCC exam, a computer-based test aligned to the Common Core.</p><p>But in a conference call with reporters, State Superintendent Christopher Koch said looking at only reading and math scores to measure a school&rsquo;s success isn&rsquo;t really healthy.</p><p>&ldquo;That was far too crude,&rdquo; Koch said. &ldquo;We shouldn&rsquo;t have been doing that as a measure to indicate whether a school was good or bad. It&rsquo;s just not that simple or straightforward.&rdquo;</p><p>Koch pointed to the new data added to the report card this year&mdash;like how many students are enrolling in college within a year of graduation and how many teachers stay at a school each year. Statewide, 66.3 percent of high school graduates are enrolled in college within 12 months of graduation and overall, 85.6 percent of teachers stayed teaching in the same school they taught in last year. A school-by-school breakdown is available at <a href="http://illinoisreportcard.com">illinoisreportcard.com</a>.</p><p>That information&mdash;and a lot more&mdash;was added this year after the federal government granted Illinois, and many other states, flexibility from the federal No Child Left Behind law, which focused almost entirely on test scores.</p><p>In order to get flexibility, states had to outline a specific plan for measuring school performance that would replace the requirements of No Child Left Behind. The federal government granted waivers to 41 states and the District of Columbia.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-releases-school-test-scores-other-new-data-111029 Daley Academy students illustrate effects of gun violence http://www.wbez.org/news/daley-academy-students-illustrate-effects-gun-violence-109013 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 5.29.18 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>On September 19th, 2013, 13 people were wounded in a shooting at Cornell Square Park in Chicago&#39;s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Directly across from that park is Richard J. Daley Elementary Academy &mdash; a school that&#39;s been affected by gun violence not just in the park, but all over the neighborhood.</p><p>This week, Daley Academy hosted a special art show in partnership with the Illinois Coalition against Handgun Violence. WBEZ Reporter Lauren Chooljian visited the one-day-only exhibit, where a group of 25 seventh graders stood proudly behind their works, done in marker and ink, and all inspired by gun violence.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/lchooljian-0">Lauren Chooljian</a> is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</p></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 17:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/daley-academy-students-illustrate-effects-gun-violence-109013 Global Activism: The gap year that turned out to be a bend in the road http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-gap-year-turned-out-be-bend-road-108895 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Kevin Oh (2).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Drew Edwards was planning on majoring in education at the University of Toledo, but decided to defer college for a year in favor of a service mission to Uganda. His experiences there inspired him to change paths, heading toward a new university and a different kind of life as a co-founder of <a href="http://www.pangeaeducation.org/">Pangea Educational Development</a> (PED). Now a graduate of DePaul, Drew is the Director of International Relations PED and splits his time between advocacy and fundraising in Chicago and building schools in Uganda. He stops by to talk with&nbsp;<em>Worldview.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F114741978&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 10 Oct 2013 14:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-gap-year-turned-out-be-bend-road-108895 Illinois schools' test scores dip under new scale http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-schools-test-scores-dip-under-new-scale-108649 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_test.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Test scores for Illinois elementary students dipped significantly in 2013 in both reading and math. But the state board of education says the changes are due to tougher scoring criteria, and students are still making gains.</p><p>State education officials announced the results on Tuesday. The overall percentage of students meeting and exceeding standards in 2013 dropped to 61.9 percent in 2013, down from 82.1 percent in 2012.</p><p>The Illinois Standards Achievement Test is given to third through eighth graders in public schools. The board of education last year raised requirements for better alignment with tests given to high school students for college and career readiness.</p><p>The changes also come as Illinois and 44 states across the country prepares adopt Common Core standards in 2014, a more rigorous test for students.</p></p> Tue, 10 Sep 2013 15:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-schools-test-scores-dip-under-new-scale-108649 Schools give mixed signals on cell phone use http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-give-mixed-signals-cell-phone-use-108509 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cell phone ban.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As students around Chicago go back to school, many have to leave their mobile phones at home. That&rsquo;s because many districts are restricting the use of cell phones during school hours.</p><p>Take southwest suburban Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202. Its school board this week stuck to a policy that requires students to turn off cell phones and store them in lockers.</p><p>Some administrators and principals had lobbied this week to at least allow high school students to be able to use the phones between classes.</p><p>The school board, though, didn&rsquo;t budge.</p><p>&ldquo;The policy has been for several years that students are not allowed to have cell phones during the academic day,&rdquo; said District 202 spokesman Tom Hernandez. &ldquo;They are supposed to turn them off and put them away in their lockers.&rdquo; Hernandez said phones can become a distraction, adding that students can learn a lesson when they leave their phones off for a day.</p><p>&ldquo;What the principals suggested was this might be a way to teach kids accountability or responsibility. You don&rsquo;t need to use that phone during the classroom time. You shouldn&rsquo;t have that phone, because in two minutes you&rsquo;re going to be in the hallway,&rdquo; Hernandez said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;ll have an opportunity to send your parents a text or to let them know that you are doing this or that after school. To send those kinds of messages, you don&rsquo;t have to do that kind of stuff during the classroom.&rdquo;</p><p>Hernandez said there was also a concern about cheating with the use smart phones.</p><p>&ldquo;Security issues are a natural concern now because the phones do everything, they take the pictures and all that kind of stuff,&rdquo; Hernandez said.</p><p>District 202 board members were also unmoved by cell phones&rsquo; potential use during emergencies.</p><p>&ldquo;Obviously that is a reality and quite frankly, having kids texting and so forth during emergency situations really doesn&rsquo;t help,&rdquo; Hernandez said.</p><p>The board has backers for its policy, including from parents such as Debbie Maydak.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re at school to learn. You&rsquo;re not there to text your friends and stuff like that,&rdquo; Maydak said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think you should have your phone with you when you&rsquo;re at school and a lot of businesses don&rsquo;t even allow it when you&rsquo;re at work.&rdquo;</p><p>Maydak has two children in the schools; one attends an elementary school, while the other is in middle school.</p><p>She said there are opportunities for her kids or the school to call her if they need something.</p><p>&ldquo;With the district having so many ways to communicate with the parent these days, to get the word out if there is any type of incident or anything like that,&rdquo; Maydak said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t see the need for [cell phones]. Some parents might, but I do not.&rdquo;</p><p>But parent Joann Badali wrote on the Plainfield Patch Facebook page that the district&rsquo;s cell phone policy restricts learning of new technology.</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;m not advocating cell phone use for things like updating your Facebook status, making calls to friends, but what about using cell phones for inputting homework assignments and setting reminders for project deadlines? Do these Board members really think that our students are going out to buy planners to keep their appointments and deadlines on track after they graduate,&rdquo; Badali wrote. &ldquo;Why not truly &lsquo;prepare learners for the future&rsquo; by allowing them , or even assisting them, in learning how to use the technology available to them?&rdquo;</p><p>Bob Flores, whose daughter Rachel is a senior at Plainfield North High School, said cell phones are a distraction during school and need to be restricted, but an exception can be made.</p><p>&ldquo;It should be up to the teachers to allow cell phone use in their classrooms if it is to be used for class purposes,&rdquo; Flores said. &ldquo;There are times that tech needs to be used and the teachers will need to monitor.&rdquo;</p><p>Some Chicago-area school districts have taken a different, more lenient approach on student cell phones.</p><p>Ryan Bretag, director of Instructional Technology at Glenbrook North and South high schools, said cell phones were restricted just four years ago. But attitudes started to change in 2010.</p><p>&ldquo;We look at this as an opportunity to empower students and create a culture that&rsquo;s positive,&rdquo; Bretag said. &ldquo;We really started talking from two different angles. We really have these powerful devices in the hands of students. What was the impact on the learning environment by not having them out?&rdquo;</p><p>If you&rsquo;re a Chicago Public School student, there is no one policy you must follow. A CPS spokeswoman said each principal is responsibility for setting the cell phone use policy for their school.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente on Twitter @<a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 23 Aug 2013 14:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-give-mixed-signals-cell-phone-use-108509