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Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls (Read 13645 times)
carla
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #15 - Mar 12th, 2008 at 9:07am
 
As Principal Cowling sees it, the risk paid off. Until Harvard Elementary went through turnaround, the school was like "Beirut," he says – 50 kids running through the halls at any time, holes in the floors and peeling paint on the walls, fights on or near campus, no order in the classrooms.

"Now, you can tell it's a school," Cowling says.

For an encore, the city is proposing simultaneous turnarounds at eight Chicago schools in the fall: four high schools and four elementary schools that feed into them. Even for a city that already leads the nation in school-reform ideas, the proposal is unusually bold and sweeping. Districts across the US – many with schools facing reconstitution requirements under the No Child Left Behind law – are watching with interest.

"We want to give families the opportunity to have a high-performing option in the neighborhood throughout [a student's] entire education," says Alan Anderson, director of the Office of School Turnaround for Chicago public schools. "There are a handful of schools that just aren't progressing at the rate we'd like them to," he says. "We know we need drastic change. It's not a decision we take lightly."

The eight schools slated for turnaround are among the worst performers in the district: At the high schools, an average student misses at least 35 days of school a year, dropout rates are above 10 percent, and the passing rate on state tests hovers at about 10 percent.

Still, some families wonder whether this will be just another reform that disrupts their kids' lives and replaces teachers they've grown close to, but yields no change in the quality of the education.

Teachers, of course, are upset about a reform that requires a school's entire staff to be let go, even if teachers can reapply.

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carla
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #16 - Mar 12th, 2008 at 9:08am
 
"What kind of instability are you creating for children coming from environments that are challenging and already have instability?" asks Marilyn Stewart, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. "You're having to recruit and train teachers, and then have another turnover. No industry can survive that kind of turnover of personnel."

Ms. Stewart suggests a less drastic reform, already undertaken in several Chicago schools with some promising results, in which the principal is replaced, but not the teachers.

"We're not resistant to change," she says. "But we're resistant to this kind of upheaval where you're throwing out the baby with the bath water."

Administrators acknowledge the challenge of finding enough high-quality teachers willing to work with poor children in low-performing schools. But recruiting is easier if there's a dynamic principal who can get people to buy into a new mission for a school, they say. It's also one reason Chicago chose a nonprofit, the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), to manage the turnarounds at several of the schools: the Orr High School campus, made up of three small schools, and two elementary schools that feed into them.

AUSL, which also manages the turnaround at Harvard Elementary, trains and recruits teachers for urban classrooms. Its proposal for Orr, in fact, includes setting up the new high school as a teacher training academy, where mentor teachers would be matched with those just learning.

"Effective teachers want supportive leadership, positive working conditions, adequate resources, and positive interactions with students and parents," says Donald Feinstein, AUSL's executive director. "When you embed that in a school culture and climate, you can attract more effective teachers."

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carla
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #17 - Mar 12th, 2008 at 9:09am
 
That wholesale staff turnover – giving a new principal the ability to shape who's working for him or her – is the most crucial element to a turnaround's success, says Mr. Calkins of Mass Insight, but it's not the only one. Other key elements are added time for teachers to plan and collaborate, longer school days or school years, clustering turnaround schools so they can learn from one another, local authority over budget and curricula, and support for teachers and administrators from outside the school, such as the district or an outside group like AUSL.

At Harvard Elementary, Cowling had the whole school repainted, moved his office so he was more visible to the older kids, separated the seventh and eighth grades into single-gender classes, and has the teachers work together for five weeks in the summer to map out the school year and start on the same page.

He ended up rehiring just three of the school's original teachers and hired 17 AUSL-trained teachers.

"This wouldn't be possible with the same teachers," he says. "The kids would have come back with new paint, and the pedagogical insufficiencies would still be there."

Cowling, who traded a $130,000 corporate job for a $40,000 teacher's salary several years ago and who knows every child in his school by name, says his students' parents are now many of the biggest supporters of the changes at Harvard. But he acknowledges it was controversial at first.

At a hearing last week on the turnaround proposal for Orr, the district office was packed with teachers, parents, and students, many arguing against the change.

"We are not science experiments," Bianca Davis, a junior at one of the small Orr schools, told the hearing officer.

"On the television, it seemed like you slandered the teachers," added Melissa Winston, a parent, in impassioned testimony. "Society has failed these kids, not the teachers."

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carla
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #18 - Mar 12th, 2008 at 9:10am
 
That plea to consider the harm to teachers carries little weight with Cowling. The real focus, he says, needs to be on students.

"I hired who I thought would be the very best for our kids," Cowling says. "We have a moral obligation. It took some drastic measures to get this building turned around the way we did."

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carla
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #19 - Mar 12th, 2008 at 9:14am
 
I don't agree with replacing the entire staff. Seems like the good teachers were thrown out with the bad. I doubt all the teachers were bad & if even one good teacher lost their job because of this approach, they should have found another way. Most likely the higher ups didn't have a clue what was occuring day-to-day at the schools, so they threw 'em all out & started from scratch.
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #20 - Mar 12th, 2008 at 1:42pm
 
Carla, thanks for posting this. Looks like a blueprint for Cairo. I agree with them that you need to clean house. Who would you want to decide which teachers are "good"? Friends and relatives would be retained, good or bad!

Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

The question is whether or not any of our school board members want to see our schools improve and have the intestinal fortitude to do what it takes to make it happen.

Still_Here suggested separating boys from girls and one board member shot his idea down without any research into the effectiveness of the idea. Whether a board member personally likes an idea or not, if it works, it needs to be adopted! Otherwise, nothing positive will ever happen.
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carla
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #21 - Mar 12th, 2008 at 8:28pm
 
>>>>"Still_Here suggested separating boys from girls and one board member shot his idea down without any research into the effectiveness of the idea."

I can see how it could help the kids. Cairo High School is too small to do that, if the kids are kept in their own grades. It could be done if they combined the grades. Have 7th & 8th grade girls together, for instance. And maybe just for the classes the kids are weakest in overall.
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #22 - Mar 12th, 2008 at 8:46pm
 
How many students are in the high school? Any idea? With a student/teacher ration of 12:1, it looks like it could be done there, too.

My thing is that we have to do something!
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carla
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #23 - Mar 13th, 2008 at 12:02am
 
Teaching Boys and Girls Separately

By ELIZABETH WEIL
New York Times

On an unseasonably cold day last November in Foley, Ala., Colby Royster and Michael Peterson, two students in William Bender’s fourth-grade public-school class, informed me that the class corn snake could eat a rat faster than the class boa constrictor. Bender teaches 26 fourth graders, all boys. Down the hall and around the corner, Michelle Gay teaches 26 fourth-grade girls. The boys like being on their own, they say, because girls don’t appreciate their jokes and think boys are too messy, and are also scared of snakes. The walls of the boys’ classroom are painted blue, the light bulbs emit a cool white light and the thermostat is set to 69 degrees. In the girls’ room, by contrast, the walls are yellow, the light bulbs emit a warm yellow light and the temperature is kept six degrees warmer, as per the instructions of Leonard Sax, a family physician turned author and advocate who this May will quit his medical practice to devote himself full time to promoting single-sex public education.

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still_here
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #24 - Mar 13th, 2008 at 4:01am
 
I'm for giving it a try to help the disadvantaged students.  Look at the school Oprah started in Africa, all girl.  Wink
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #25 - Mar 13th, 2008 at 11:19am
 
If we made copies of these articles and others and took them door to door, could we drum up support from parents?

Are we allowed to go door to door in Cairo? I read that article where Danny Brown filed criminal trespass charges against someone for a political flyer left on his door.

Will any of you stand up for me if I get arrested? Thanks!
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still_here
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #26 - Mar 13th, 2008 at 12:40pm
 
New Cairoite wrote on Mar 13th, 2008 at 11:19am:
If we made copies of these articles and others and took them door to door, could we drum up support from parents?

Are we allowed to go door to door in Cairo? I read that article where Danny Brown filed criminal trespass charges against someone for a political flyer left on his door.

Will any of you stand up for me if I get arrested? Thanks!


Yes you can go door to door, but do not leave anything in someones mailbox.

I'll send you card while you're in jail.   Smiley

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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #27 - Mar 13th, 2008 at 1:31pm
 
Hey, thanks, in advance, for your support! I would at least bake you a "cake"!

No, seriously, the charge was "criminal trespass", not federal mailbox charges.
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still_here
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #28 - Mar 14th, 2008 at 11:28pm
 
New Cairoite wrote on Mar 13th, 2008 at 1:31pm:
Hey, thanks, in advance, for your support! I would at least bake you a "cake"!

No, seriously, the charge was "criminal trespass", not federal mailbox charges.

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Hope this is what you had in mind!  Grin
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Re: Gender Matters: Dividing Boys & Girls
Reply #29 - Mar 15th, 2008 at 9:48am
 
If only you knew how appropriate that is! I really miss Cairo. I am sitting here in the middle of shamrock he**. At least Cairo has diversity; it offers equal opportunity for all crooked politicians. Here, all the crooks are Irish. Another reason to push for strong public schools. All the crooks here went to Catholic Central.

Are there many Irish in Cairo? Does Cairo celebrate, as a community, any ethnic events, like St Pattys, Cinco de Mayo, Juneteenth? Wouldn't it be helpful to have more community celebrations? I bet you had them in the old days. Do you ever have parades?


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