After reading the following article (posted below), I began to think about the discussion around the contract vs the philosophical mission in our school. I don't think they necessarily come into conflict; however I do believe it's time to stop beating around the bush and find out who is unhappy and what they're unhappy about.
I find it very odd when people say the "administration" is stuck to his vision when that's really such a good thing! It seems obvious from previous posts, and problems in our school's current structure, that the real problems arise when people become wishy washy about the vision and compromise it bit by bit.
We all work very hard here at QHST and the philosophy of teaming dedicated teachers to small learning communities with structural common planning times, although not conducive some of the benefits of larger schools, is well within the bounds of the contract and consistent with the national a trend in education.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
By TIMOTHY INKLEBARGER, Staff Writer
Wednesday,November 08, 2006
Small learning communities, commonly referred to as schools within a school, will sprout at Wells Community Academy and Crane Tech next year, as part of a $4.2 million grant recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Small learning communities aim to personalize students' education in large high schools of 1,000 or more students. The programs work differently depending on the school, but they typically entail teachers following the same set of students as they advance from grade to grade in a strategy known as "looping." Students also are given the option in small learning communities of choosing from specialized programs that range from liberal arts to science and technology, according to Ed Spikes, a small schools program manager with Chicago Public Schools.
Spikes said the federal grant will help start five new small learning communities in Chicago high schools, two of which will go in at Wells Community Academy at 936 N. Ashland and Crane Tech Prep Common School at 2245 W. Jackson.
Crane Tech Vice Principal Patricia DeLoney said the school is establishing a plan for how to set up the program, which would start next year, but its still in the early planning stages.
"We're developing it as we go," she said. "We just have a skeleton right now."
Alanna Chuprevich, a library media specialist at Wells, said the school already is operating a freshman academy this year under a program designed by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
She said the freshman academy operates similar to a small schools program, with teachers moving along with students as they proceed to the next grade. The freshman academy program focuses on providing students with better time management, note-taking and organizational skills, Chuprevich said. She said the program allows teachers to coordinate better in crafting an educational strategy.
"In a smaller, more cohesive community, it's more personalized," she said. "What's nice is these teachers have a common planning time and can share with each other about the successes, failures and needs of the students and effectively communicate."
Like Crane, though, Wells still is crafting a plan for establishing themes for its small learning communities program, which is set to start next year, Chuprevich said.
Roberto Clemente High School in West Town is not a recipient of the grant money this year, but the school has operated a small learning community program since 1997.
Nguyen-Trung Heiu, small schools director at Clemente, said the school started a small learning community pilot program in 1997 and expanded it in 2001 to include six separate small schools programs.
"The attendance was up and the achievement was up and the number of students getting into college was up; therefore, the administration here decided to go for it," he said.
He said this year all of the school's roughly 2,500 students are enrolled in one of the small learning community programs. Each program includes roughly 400 students, which breaks down to about 20 to 25 students per classroom.
The programs at Clemente, which administrators refer to as "small schools," include: math, science and technology; journalism, communication and law; fine and performing arts; world languages; dual language bilingual; and a military academy.
Ken Rose, who works at the school through a partnership with Northwestern University, said the students enter the small school of their choice, adding that very few request transfers to other programs at the end of the year. He said the curriculum for each program is essentially the same, but the examples and themes are different.
"This is all about personalization," Rose said. "It's about getting to know teachers and students really well for the four years and being caught in a safety net, so they don't drop out.
"In the old model of high school, you could go through four years of high school and not make a real tight connection with either a teacher or another student."
He said that since Clemente formed its small learning community program, the attendance rate has gone up from 77 percent in 1996 to 88 percent in 2004. And between 1998 and 2005 the graduation rate increased from 60 percent to 71 percent.
He said the school is still not satisfied with the current graduation and attendance rates, but it hopes the rising trend will continue.
"When you look around Chicago there are more and more small learning community schools, and I think more high schools will go this way," he said.