CPS is worse in 2015 than it was in 2009

this was my rant 6 years ago today…. so little has changed

Dee Dixon
October 8, 2009 at 10:49pm ·

SOME THOUGHTS ON Chicago Public Schools
Please be advised that the public school system in the city of Chicago has been broken for sometime. No on in a position of power has taken any real steps to implement real productive, proactive change, and I am now jaded enough to believe that they never will.

The elements required to most effectively educate children are not a mystery. 24 students per class- max, certified teachers with planning, thematic and cooperative cross grade/curricula opportunity, professional development opportunity, more than functional buildings and classroom with the requisite equipment, text and resources, high student performance expectations from teachers and parents, constructive, supportive parental involvement. keep in mind that there are schools in the system that meet these requirements, put they are not in the communities where students are literally warehoused until they can be passed onto the criminal justice and penal systems.

During my tenure as a CPS parent I have had kids at Lenart, Skinner, Harlan and Kenwood. Of my three children, only one is currently enrolled in a CPS school. As a child I attended Reavis, Wirth (now Cantor) and Lindblom. I will suggest strongly that CPS didn’t prepare me for college, my family did. further that at that time CPS didn’t actively work against that program that my parents implemented. that is no longer true and will state emphatically that CPS teachers, administrators and paper-pushers, now actively work against the positive academic ambitions of the family, particularly when the child is black and/or the school is located in a predominately black community.

This has been problematic for me, but is profane and obscene in communities where that average age of a first-time mother is 15 years. If the community is plagued by the absence of economic and educational opportunities, the schools have to fill in the gap. Add to this the destruction of federally funded programs designed to close the achievement gap during the Reagan, Bush and Bush administrations. On a local level, CPS has decimated early childhood education programs with proven track records. Currently there are few full day preschool programs, unless tuition based.

The 2010 programs, have forced students out of neighborhood schools, across gang lines, increasing the possibility of violence without improving test scores and graduation rates. New school are built only in areas that are experiencing eurpoean american gentrification, usually with TIFF funds. Transportation has been cut, limiting access to specialty school and programs. The list of roadblocks to education grows everyday to the extent that I consider “LEARNING WHILE BLACK”to be both and actionable offense by some and to be an appropriate rallying cry for others.

By way of refence I offer http://ccsr.uchicago.edu/content/publications.php?pub_id=86 – The Essential Supports for School Improvement
September 2006. Penny Bender Sebring, Elaine Allensworth, Anthony S. Bryk, John Q. Easton, and Stuart Luppescu
This and other articles at Consortium on Chicago Schools Research, identify trends, policies and requirements for academic success and document how CPS rarely acts proactively.

Finally, the matter is more disagreeable for me when the decision makers know better – former CPS CEO Secretary of Education Arne Duncan attended the Laboratory Schools at Uof C. Duncan sent his daughter to kindergarten at Ray in Hyde Park, but Mrs. Duncan spearheaded a collection for a teacher aide, to reduce the student to adult ratio. President Obama attended Punahou School, a private college preparatory school, from the fifth grade until his graduation from high school in 1979. His daughters attended Lab until moving to Sidwell Friends. mayor Richard Daley attended DeLaSalle. They all know about what makes a school work, how little of it has to do with finance and they allow this situation to persist.

Mortimer Adler – founder of the Great Books Program, spoke of the educational elite. This powerful group believes that if everyone receives the same quality education that they did and their children do… there will be no one to clean toilets and mow lawns. This premise is consistent that public schools where never intended to educate, but to train workers, initially from farm to factory. now from project to prison.

As I systematically move my children out of the system, i am sobered by the thought that no man is an island. What good is saving my kids when others fail? who will my sons ball and golf with?who will my daughter date? what woman will raise my grandchildren? who will be my daughters lifelong friends. This is not an altruistic moment, it is a selfish understanding that how I impact the life of any child, determines if she becomes my Doctor or the reason I need one!


So it is the first week or so of school…apple

And you are looking forward to, praying for a smooth and productive year.

When my kids were in elementary school, I liked to start the year off with a note and gift to their teachers.

Now, I have three kids and when they were all in middle school with 6 teachers a piece the gift was very simple and inexpensive.

It is not about the cost of the gift, the gift is a token of your acknowledgment of the important role that teachers play in my children’s lives.

The note was to remind myself, my student and their teacher that we were all working together to make the academic process as effective as possible.

So imagine during the start of the school year, Ms Math Teacher receives a box of sharpened pencils with a note that reads.

box of pencils

Dear Ms. Teacher,


Happy Back to School and welcome to TeamMyLastName

Our student and team captain, Childs first name is excited and happy to be in your class

As a part of the coaching staff I want you to feel free to contact me for any reason

My name home/ work/ cell #

Husbands name home/ work/ cell #

Child’s name has an allegy to peanuts and an IEP to use graph paper for all work in Math.

Thank you again

Here is to a  GREAT Year




Gift ideas

Coffee mug

Post-it notes

Box of chalk, pencils, markers,

best teacher

It is important that students have ownership of the educational process.

One way we as parents can help that develop is to start to model it when they are younger.

And then keep it up as they get older.

Teachers and Parents are not enemies.

I as a parent am concerned about the education of one student and the teacher for all students.

As a parent I am concerned about all of my children

And the teacher is concerned about all of her class

The overlap is my child in her classroom

Everything that she does that helps the students in her charge helps my child

And let’s face it Teaching is an underpaid and unappreciated profession.

Starting the year off with informed cooperation may make the year better for everyone involved.



So yesterday,  a friend reminded me that as a parent you have to stay involved. Be engaged.

It isn’t always that easy.409390_2805758636169_649842007_n

There are teachers and administrators who believe it is there job to separate you from your children, because you are holding them back.

There are perfectly normal developmental phases where children clam up to individualize.

So here is my tip.

Ask your kids to tell you about their day.

I am sure that you, like me, ask “how is your day?” and your kids says “fine” and you say “good”.

This was my story until I heard a man on TV tell a story about getting busted by his dad, a teacher, for skipping school.

His father would ask this man and siblings about each class.  So on this occasion the father asked how was English Lit, and the man related a variation of what had happened the day before.  What he didn’t know was that the English Lit teacher who was pregnant,  was planning to be away and had given the “substitute” all her lesson plans. The father was to be substitute teaching the class.

Now, I haven’t substituted in nearly 3 decades, so I don’t  have that kind of info, but I do know how to read a syllabus and reading list.

Everyday, I asked my kids… how was your day? What happened in Homeroom? How is Mr. Davis, is he still limping?

Class by class,

subject by subject,

teacher by teacher,

friend by friend

At first it was painful, but then I learned the names and stories and personalities of the people involved.

It became a conversation.

And as my children got older, the conversation became more and more two-way.

They would ask and hear about my day.

My goal as a parent is to put myself out of a job.

To raise people into adults that I would want to be friends with. Adults you love and respect me but don’t need me.