WBEZ | Catalyst Chicago http://www.wbez.org/tags/catalyst-chicago Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en CPS limits coverage from closing schools http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-limits-coverage-closing-schools-107275 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CPS Access(1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>On Wednesday, the Chicago Board of Education will decide whether to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202" target="_blank">close 54 schools</a> it says are failing or underutilized.</p><p>Since the recommended list of closures was announced in March, the city has been in a heated debate about whether some schools should be taken off the list. Media access to these buildings has been almost impossible, and some worry decisions will be made without a thorough inspection.</p><p>Arturs Weible is a music teacher at Lafayette Elementary School in Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood. He directs the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/lafayette-elementary-string-orchestra-tunes-despite-uncertain-future-107255" target="_blank">only string orchestra</a> at a CPS elementary school.</p><p>&ldquo;We have 85 kids participating in the program. And these kids have higher expectations to keep their grades up. They have to keep their behavior in order,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And so these kids are basically doing above and beyond pretty much anything that&rsquo;s being asked of an elementary school child.&rdquo;</p><p>Lafayette is slated to close because CPS considers it an underutilized building. Weible disagrees, and says all parts of the building are in use, but maybe not at all times of the day.</p><p>He says he wants the public to see the school before a decision is made.</p><p>&ldquo;To not allow media coverage within school hours is not fair to these parents. They don&rsquo;t have a voice otherwise. The media is the voice of the community,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Before CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett announced the closings list, Weible said journalists got into Lafayette easily. Now, it&rsquo;s like a black out with the exception of heavily restricted visits.</p><p>The district said since late March, every media outlet has had access to a proposed closing school and/or receiving school.</p><p>CPS says with less than a week until the board vote, it&rsquo;s denying media access to the closing schools because it would be too disruptive. But a number of news organizations including WBEZ and Catalyst magazine say they&rsquo;ve been denied access to closing schools since the list was made public.</p><p>Some reporters have successfully entered closing schools through other means.</p><p>&ldquo;I was invited to come to Garvey by a parent,&rdquo; said Kate Grossman, deputy editorial page editor for the Chicago Sun-Times.</p><p>She toured Garvey Elementary on the city&rsquo;s South Side earlier this spring. It&rsquo;s another school proposed to be closed because of underutilization.</p><p>She said there are numbers to back up CPS&rsquo;s closing recommendations, but there&rsquo;s also the reality of what&rsquo;s happening inside.</p><p>&ldquo;You can see that by going to these schools and seeing that they have quite a lot to offer kids even though on paper they&rsquo;re underused,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So I think it&rsquo;s a crucial part of the decision making when you&rsquo;re deciding to close a school and consolidate it with another to know what you might be losing.&rdquo;</p><p>Grossman said her visit to Garvey was very different from when she was invited by CPS to tour a receiving school with CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett.</p><p>&ldquo;It was lots of people, and you can&rsquo;t really do a lot of in-depth reporting when you&rsquo;re following a school CEO around. And the principal might not be comfortable speaking her mind,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>A student at Northwestern&rsquo;s Medill School of Journalism also tried to gain access to schools without permission. CPS threatened to sever ties with Medill if it happened again.</p><p>Professor Marcel Pacatte agreed the student was wrong, but said the district&rsquo;s response was extreme.</p><p>&ldquo;A student was told yesterday there would be no more audio recording at closing schools. So that&rsquo;s a fairly draconian issue,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Pacatte said now he&rsquo;s making sure students are going through the proper channels to ensure Medill can continue covering the schools.</p><p>&ldquo;I get where they&rsquo;re coming from but I still don&rsquo;t understand how they think it&rsquo;s beneficial for the citizens of Chicago or the students in the schools of the district in the city itself to prevent stories from being told,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Media restrictions aren&rsquo;t uncommon for urban school districts.</p><p>But Emily Richmond with the National Education Writers Association says too many restrictions can force reporters to find another way into the schools.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s really no substitute for being able to just step back and watch what&rsquo;s happening around you and have that first hand observation. And who knows what stories they would find in there,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Richmond says with an historic number of schools that could be affected, news coverage needs to go beyond statistics and present a clearer view of what&rsquo;s happening.</p><p><em>Susie An covers business for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/soosieon" target="_blank">@soosieon</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 20 May 2013 12:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-limits-coverage-closing-schools-107275 50,421 Chicago kids in homerooms over the class size limit http://www.wbez.org/news/education/50421-chicago-kids-homerooms-over-class-size-limit-107196 <p><p>More than 1,560 homerooms in Chicago public elementary schools are over the school district&rsquo;s class size limits, according to numbers obtained by WBEZ and <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2013/05/15/21058/record-class-sizes-closing-schools" target="_blank"><em>Catalyst Chicago</em> Magazine</a> from Chicago Public Schools. The revelation comes as Chicago is proposing to shut down a historic 53 grammar schools. Activists have raised repeated concerns that the massive restructuring will result in more overcrowded classrooms.</p><p>According to records, 50,421 children are in homerooms that are over the suggested class size limits. The numbers show 26,545 of Chicago&rsquo;s littlest learners&mdash;in kindergarten, first or second grades&mdash; are in classrooms with 29 or more students. The district&rsquo;s own guidelines say classes should be capped at 28 kids for younger students, 31 for third graders and up.</p><p>Eight thousand elementary school children are in classes with 35 or more students. Some are in homerooms of 40, even 45.</p><p>Wendy Katten, CPS parent and director of the nonprofit Raise Your Hand, says the numbers heighten her group&rsquo;s concerns about the impact of closing schools. &ldquo;Parents want class size addressed by the district,&rdquo; says Katten. &nbsp;&ldquo;And instead we&rsquo;re moving to consolidate schools. 129 schools are going to be impacted with these closings. And what we&rsquo;ll have is overcrowding and higher class sizes.&rdquo;</p><p>The schools targeted to close or receive students tend to have lower class sizes than the rest of the district&rsquo;s schools, the numbers show. On the low end, many classes have just a dozen or so students.</p><p>School officials have admitted privately that class sizes will increase for students in closing and receiving schools. They do not believe classes will hit 36, as activists have charged.</p><p>But the numbers obtained from the school district show that 18 percent of all elementary school homerooms have quietly crept over the recommended class size limits written into the teachers contract and school board policy.</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/class%20size%20distribution%20chart_1.JPG" style="width: 618px; height: 448px;" title="Class sizes in closing (red) and receiving (blue) schools tend to be lower than class sizes in schools unaffected by the upcoming school board vote (green). Parents and activists have raised concerns that class sizes will increase. With a structural deficit, school officials say they must consolidate resources." /></div><p>&ldquo;I hear members constantly letting me know that their class sizes are over what&rsquo;s recommended in the contract,&rdquo; says Chicago Teachers Union financial secretary Kristine Mayle. &ldquo;This has been going on for years, it&rsquo;s getting worse each year, and with this round of closures I think it&rsquo;s going to make it even worse.&rdquo;</p><p><strong style="font-size: 18px;">Little recourse for large classes</strong><br />Technically, neither teachers nor parents have any real recourse if they are assigned to teach or their children assigned to learn in a class above the limit. A joint union-district committee tries to look into the most egregious violations, Mayle says. But the committee has no real teeth and is overwhelmed by the scale of the problem.</p><p>The numbers indicate that even the district&rsquo;s top grammar schools regularly overenroll students.</p><p>Asked why the district allows so many classes to go above limits, Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Becky Carroll wrote in an email, &ldquo;The &lsquo;District&rsquo; doesn&#39;t allow for this. These are decisions made by principals.&rdquo;</p><p>Carroll says the board policy provides principals with &ldquo;guidelines.&rdquo; She says the district won&rsquo;t know what class sizes will be like in receiving schools until enrollment is completed and principals have decided &ldquo;how to structure their classrooms.&rdquo; But, she added, &ldquo;combining resources at underutilized schools will enable school leaders to access the supports needed to give these children a quality education, which many are not getting at this time.&rdquo;</p><p>Research has shown that class size reductions help in younger grades, especially when it comes to low-income children. The research is less conclusive for older kids. But lowering class sizes is popular among parents and teachers. And it&rsquo;s expensive. Chicago school officials have said it would cost $26 million to lower class size by a single student. And while the district has not provided details about how exactly it plans to save $43 million annually by closing 54 schools, some of that cost savings could come from taking two classrooms of 15&mdash;in two underutilized schools&mdash;and creating a single 30-student class.&nbsp;</p><p>The school district has pointed out that most classes that are over are over by 1, 2, or 3 students. But The Chicago Teachers Union contends that&nbsp; Chicago&rsquo;s class size guidelines are already high, even when schools don&rsquo;t go over them.</p><p>&ldquo;A teacher can&rsquo;t get to that first grader who&rsquo;s trying to sound out words. You need individualized instruction at that age,&rdquo; says union officer Kristine Mayle. &ldquo;If you look at most of the suburbs around us , if you look at the Lab School for instance, they&rsquo;re closer to 20, 22, 24 kids, at the very top of it is 24.&rdquo;</p><p>Mayle said principals are given a &ldquo;false choice&rdquo; when it comes to class size&mdash;since buying extra teachers to keep class sizes low often means giving up something else, like an art teacher or a security guard.</p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>44 third-graders</strong></span><br />WBEZ and <em>Catalyst </em>have been seeking the class size numbers since December.</p><p>The data&nbsp; is a snapshot of enrollment taken the 20th day of this school year, the district&rsquo;s traditional date for official enrollment counts. It&rsquo;s a date schools often wait impatiently for; if more students than expected enroll, they can request additional teachers after the 20th day. The eight-month-old numbers are no longer completely accurate, since students come and go from schools. In some cases the district has authorized additional hiring, reducing class size. Phone calls to schools reveal that in other cases, classes have gotten bigger.</p><p>Principals at schools with large class sizes say they do what they can. Some hire substitutes until they are given the okay to hire another teacher. Some combine grades and run split classrooms. One South Side classroom had 44 third-graders until late April. According to staff there, that&#39;s when the authorization to hire an additional teacher came through. Next year, the district is switching to per-pupil budgeting, meaning principals will no longer have to wait for downtown authorization to hire a teacher; but they will have to weigh the importance of class size each time an additional student enrolls.</p><p><em>This story was co-reported with Sarah Karp of </em>Catalyst Chicago <em>Magazine. </em></p><p><strong><a name="data"></a>ABOUT THE DATA:</strong> The class size file obtained by WBEZ from Chicago Public Schools is attached below. The excel file is a report showing the number of students assigned to homerooms in district-run Chicago elementary schools on the 20th Day of the 2012-13 school year, by school. Self-contained special education homerooms are not included. Pre-K classrooms are not included (except in limited cases where a school has a split pre-K/kindergarten class).&nbsp; Class sizes may have shifted (up or down) since the 20th Day due to student mobility, additional staffing from central office, or actions taken by the principal (such as combining two small classes into one or splitting a large class between other classes). Data source: Chicago Public Schools</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table { border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: <?php echo $tableFont ?>; font-size: 12px; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }</style> <table class="tableizer-table" height="1103" width="500"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>CLASS SIZE</th><th>Number of homerooms this size in CLOSING schools</th><th>Number of homerooms this size in designated RECEIVING schools</th><th>Number of homerooms this size in UNAFFECTED schools</th><th>Grand Total</th></tr><tr><td>7</td><td>1</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>1</td></tr><tr><td>9</td><td>1</td><td>1</td><td>0</td><td>2</td></tr><tr><td>10</td><td>2</td><td>1</td><td>3</td><td>6</td></tr><tr><td>11</td><td>1</td><td>1</td><td>3</td><td>5</td></tr><tr><td>12</td><td>4</td><td>1</td><td>10</td><td>15</td></tr><tr><td>13</td><td>7</td><td>9</td><td>15</td><td>31</td></tr><tr><td>14</td><td>2</td><td>7</td><td>14</td><td>23</td></tr><tr><td>15</td><td>9</td><td>15</td><td>21</td><td>45</td></tr><tr><td>16</td><td>17</td><td>11</td><td>41</td><td>69</td></tr><tr><td>17</td><td>26</td><td>23</td><td>84</td><td>133</td></tr><tr><td>18</td><td>24</td><td>25</td><td>104</td><td>153</td></tr><tr><td>19</td><td>27</td><td>29</td><td>174</td><td>230</td></tr><tr><td>20</td><td>32</td><td>31</td><td>213</td><td>276</td></tr><tr><td>21</td><td>20</td><td>29</td><td>281</td><td>330</td></tr><tr><td>22</td><td>27</td><td>54</td><td>384</td><td>465</td></tr><tr><td>23</td><td>31</td><td>62</td><td>456</td><td>549</td></tr><tr><td>24</td><td>36</td><td>54</td><td>516</td><td>606</td></tr><tr><td>25</td><td>29</td><td>50</td><td>632</td><td>711</td></tr><tr><td>26</td><td>39</td><td>50</td><td>634</td><td>723</td></tr><tr><td>27</td><td>38</td><td>41</td><td>723</td><td>802</td></tr><tr><td>28</td><td>35</td><td>41</td><td>699</td><td>775</td></tr><tr><td>29</td><td>20</td><td>38</td><td>619</td><td>677</td></tr><tr><td>30</td><td>28</td><td>31</td><td>579</td><td>638</td></tr><tr><td>31</td><td>20</td><td>23</td><td>461</td><td>504</td></tr><tr><td>32</td><td>10</td><td>18</td><td>345</td><td>373</td></tr><tr><td>33</td><td>10</td><td>19</td><td>232</td><td>261</td></tr><tr><td>34</td><td>10</td><td>10</td><td>139</td><td>159</td></tr><tr><td>35</td><td>6</td><td>6</td><td>88</td><td>100</td></tr><tr><td>36</td><td>1</td><td>3</td><td>39</td><td>43</td></tr><tr><td>37</td><td>0</td><td>2</td><td>29</td><td>31</td></tr><tr><td>38</td><td>3</td><td>2</td><td>15</td><td>20</td></tr><tr><td>39</td><td>0</td><td>1</td><td>11</td><td>12</td></tr><tr><td>40</td><td>2</td><td>1</td><td>4</td><td>7</td></tr><tr><td>41</td><td>0</td><td>1</td><td>2</td><td>3</td></tr><tr><td>42</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>2</td><td>2</td></tr><tr><td>43</td><td>2</td><td>0</td><td>1</td><td>3</td></tr><tr><td>44</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>2</td><td>2</td></tr><tr><td>47</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>2</td><td>2</td></tr><tr><td>Grand Total</td><td>520</td><td>690</td><td>7577</td><td>8787</td></tr></tbody></table><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 16 May 2013 01:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/50421-chicago-kids-homerooms-over-class-size-limit-107196 Protesters and pastors weigh in on proposed CPS closings http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-23/protesters-and-pastors-weigh-proposed-cps-closings-95743 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-24/school photo.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools will hold hearings just about every night this week on a slate of schools the district wants to close or phase out. School closings are controversial every year. And this year has been no different--but there have been some new twists to the controversy. WBEZ’s education reporter<a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/linda-lutton" target="_blank"> Linda Lutton</a> and Sarah Karp—deputy editor of <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/" target="_blank"><em>Catalyst</em></a> Chicago joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to fill listeners in on recent developments.&nbsp; And Pastor <a href="http://www.brightstarchurchchicago.com/about-bright-star/chris-harris" target="_blank">Christopher Harris</a>, chairman of the Bronzeville Community Action Coucil, told <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> why he believes there should be a moratorium on school closings.</p></p> Mon, 23 Jan 2012 14:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-23/protesters-and-pastors-weigh-proposed-cps-closings-95743 Eight Forty-Eight 1.23.12 http://www.wbez.org/episode/eight-forty-eight-12312 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2012-january/2012-01-24/crane-phase-out-hearing-120120.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools is holding a series of community meetings to hear public input on proposed closings, consolidations and turnarounds. WBEZ education reporter <a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/linda-lutton" target="_blank">Linda Lutton</a> and <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/" target="_blank"><em>Catalyst</em></a> Chicago deputy editor Sarah Karp joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss what happened at Friday night’s meetings. And Pastor<a href="http://www.brightstarchurchchicago.com/about-bright-star/chris-harris" target="_blank"> Chris Harris</a>, chairman of the Bronzeville Community Action Council, explained why they’re calling for a moratorium on turnarounds in Bronzeville. Also, former Penn State football coach <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/penn-states-joe-paterno-dies-85-after-scandal-95732" target="_blank">Joe Paterno died Sunday</a>. But some media outlets misreported Paterno’s death the night before. How did it happen and what does this say about the pressures of breaking news first? <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>talked with reporters from the old--and new--media worlds to learn more about the rules getting the story first--and getting it right. Then, candidates for political office in Illinois have the option of filing paperwork pledging to run a fair campaign...and that they are not communists. WBEZ’s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/sam-hudzik" target="_blank">Sam Hudzik</a> breaks down the history of the oaths, and tells the show which 2012 candidates signed them. And will shows like <em>The Moth</em>, <em>Funny Ha-Ha</em> and <em>Paper Machete</em> make Chicago the literary humor capital of the country? WBEZ blogger and writer <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey" target="_blank">Claire Zulkey</a> hosts<a href="http://www.zulkey.com/funnyhaha.php" target="_blank"> <em>Funny Ha-Ha</em></a>, and she other local writers join the show to talk about the art of combining performance with the written word.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 23 Jan 2012 14:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode/eight-forty-eight-12312 CPS announces schools to be closed, phased out http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-01/cps-announces-schools-be-closed-and-phased-out-94496 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-01/John Murden.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://www.cps.edu/Pages/home.aspx" target="_blank">Chicago Public Schools</a> unveiled a list of so-called school actions this week, including 10 school turnarounds, replacing the entire staff with new faces.</p><p>Some schools will be closed outright and others will be what CPS calls "phased out," which means no new students will be accepted; as current students graduate, the school will slowly empty and then shut down.&nbsp; (See below for a list of the 10 schools affected)</p><p>CPS leadership has taken steps to address underperforming schools for some time.</p><p>WBEZ’s Jennifer Brandel spoke with someone directly affected by the decision: Robert McMiller, principal of Dyett High School in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood.</p><p>And Eight Forty-Eight was joined by Catalyst Chicago’s Sarah Karp to discuss the consequences of the recent moves.</p><p>Sarah Karp, deputy editor at Catalyst-Chicago, will <a href="http://www.wbez.org/schoolsontheline">host a live cha</a>t on WBEZ’s website Thursday night during <a href="http://www.wbez.org/schoolsontheline">Schools on the Line</a>— WBEZ’s monthly call-in show with Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard at 7:00 p.m.</p><p>Below is a map of the 10 schools slated for closure, phase out or co-location, as announced on Thursday:<br> &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;<iframe marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://www.umapper.com/maps/google/id/116910" width="500" frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Music Button: Jason Stein Quartet, "Badlands", from the album The Story This Time, (Delmark)</em></p></p> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 14:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-01/cps-announces-schools-be-closed-and-phased-out-94496 Recapping Marshall Metro High School's first year in turnaround program http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/recapping-marshall-metro-high-schools-first-year-turnaround-program-9312 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-13/cityroom_20081031_llutton_1732218_Meet_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Seventeen<a href="http://www.cps.edu/Pages/home.aspx" target="_blank"> Chicago Public Schools</a> are undergoing a special kind of transformation known as a turnaround. The turnaround program is an effort to fix schools that have chronically low performance levels and show insufficient improvement through other means. The process involves serious changes such as firing the staff, forcing them to reapply for their jobs and installing new administrative leadership. Journalist <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/author/sarah-karp" target="_blank">Sarah Karp</a>, deputy editor of the education news magazine <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/"><em>Catalyst Chicago</em></a>, followed <a href="http://www.marshallmetrohighschool.org/" target="_blank">Marshall Metro High School</a>, on the city’s West Side, through its first year in the turnaround program. She discussed her findings with <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>. They can also be found in the latest edition of <em>Catalyst In Depth</em>.</p><p><em>Music Button: Chris Joss, "He Got The Shakes", from the album No Play No Work, (ESL)</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Oct 2011 17:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/recapping-marshall-metro-high-schools-first-year-turnaround-program-9312 New board could mean new direction for Chicago Public Schools http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-19/new-board-could-mean-new-direction-chicago-public-schools-85382 <p><p>Jean-Claude Brizard is just one of many new Chicago Public Schools officials Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel named on Monday. The district now has a permanent Chief Education Officer, after a long period without one. And there will be a new President and Vice President at the Chicago Board of Education, which provides oversight for CPS.<br> <br> To find out more about these new appointees and what could be expected from them, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> turned to Linda Lenz from <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/" target="_blank"><em>Catalyst Chicago</em></a>.</p><p><em>Music Button: Shotnez, "Swag", from the CD Shotnez, (J Dub Records) </em></p></p> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 13:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-19/new-board-could-mean-new-direction-chicago-public-schools-85382