Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Graduation Day

When I read the article below I knew that Rahm Emanuel has now continued to prove that he is one AA - as in Amazing Asshole. His divisiveness and arrogance was well documented in the Clinton years and when he went to the Obama Administration I also knew that Obama had no idea how to bring hope or change to a culture embedded with the idea that neither is a good thing. And this is no more validated by the current dynasty in charge.

Chicago has been under the glare of media attention this past year with a special series in the New York Times documenting the shooting deaths of the residents in the "poorer" neighborhoods, spoken about in the Presidential Campaign as akin to a war zone, had a movie made about it called Chiraq, a massive Teaching Strike and the reality that the Obama's  plans to open his Presidential Library that will be less on legacy and more on community which he will never return to.

So instead he gave his adopted City his former Chief in Staff who bullied in the White House and is now doing so in Chicago.  In reality this is another underfunded and understaffed concept that will like all reforms get an F and you put in the word that fits.

Living in Nashville, where it is ground zero for  School choice and VAM testing  (that was actually invented and advocated here first.. Nashville loves being #1 on lists) and has had a massive book by a respected member of a respected Teaching College discussing the overwhelming failure to desegregate and in turn improve its schools,  then truly no one should ever ask me why I am packing in my ruler.  I knew weeks in that I would never Teach here and then I realized that I don't want to teach at all.

I am told repeatedly that it is just Davidson County and that if I taught elsewhere that I would feel different. Really? Well then explain to me that how one county over the decades has contributed to the State being at the last of the list of states with academic achievement?  For years Tennessee was #47 out of American States level of achievement but has now risen to 45 thanks to a Governor who has pushed ed growth.  What that has meant was money and in turn attention to the problem.   His program, Drive for 55, which was to push the state to have 55% of the population attain higher education largely due to the Tennessee Promise program for both Students and Adults.  The idea was to pursue 2 years of Community College for free if they follow a few minor requirements.  The program only a few years old has shown that it attracts largely white students and the attainment rate (those who finish) fall into the 40% mark. The Adult program is new and has not drawn that much attraction but largely I suspect as few seem to know of it.  But in all honesty the reality is a generational philosophy or belief that higher education is for fancy pants or liberals.  I truly don't know other than they are rubes and rubes are happy with ignorance, it's bliss remember?

Teaching shortages are so severe that not only the TFA and Fellows programs to push people into Teaching for at least two years post graduation are now seeking alternative means to find those re-entering the workplace, who have retired or switching careers as they are trying in Arizona.  

To add counseling, life guidance, test prep, curriculum writer, social worker, mental health counselor, baker, banker and chief to their already overwhelming day for underwhelming wages in horrific working conditions (go to a Public School and see that the Smart Board is the most modern thing they have) and say sure sign me up!

So every prospective or current Teacher should/could go to a wealthy suburb to well funded schools thanks to the PTA and the community and the families that can afford living there would be great.  Only rich kids deserve good education.  If you can't teach there then go to Private Schools where you have zero religious freedom as they are largely non-secular. Or how about Charters where they cherry pick the students and serve a select few and in turn micro manage both Staff and Students to follow the script.  Sounds great.

I have no desire to Teach anymore.   I would at a Community College where I am with Adults and have more personal and professional freedom to do this thing called TEACHING.  That is all I want to do. I don't want to be a defacto parent.  Sorry I don't.  I don't want pity or blame laying anymore for a job that was never great before all this reform bullshit but that I did not mind doing if I could do it and do it well.   Good luck with that as that is not something that lasts for long.  I never worked for any school nor Administrator that allowed that.   Churn and Burn is a theme in Education that those in it will recognize immediately.   There is a reason that 40% of new Teachers leave in the first 4 years and I know that personally.  I thought age and time would change that and even a change of scenery has not changed my view of the profession one iota.  I still, however, like kids and actually like engaging with them but I need to be with older ones clearly.

But this misguided plan to make Students possess a job or an acceptance letter is appalling. It reinforces income inequity, racism and foisted Governmental control over children whose own families are lacking the resources and skills themselves to provide support regardless of the outcome.

What I don't understand is that there are no jobs for kids to have in the summer  as that was how one attained exposure and experience needed.  However if there are no such gigs and in turn a way learn said skills then what?  As for the school they cite as a success story has only 118 kids.  What other schools have such a small enrollment to enable that?  How is this funded? How is the managed?  What businesses are engaged and post-secondary schools are involved to also support this measure? This is the village raising the child here.  Most schools like this are.  So what about the kids that can't find/get into such schools.    Why aren't kids ensured that whatever school they go to regardless, that they have the requisite skills needed to go into the workforce or higher learning?  How is that determined?  Testing?  Clearly we know that is not the sole measure as Employers and Colleges are finding most recent Graduates are in need of remedial training so once again who is ensuring that is no longer the case?  And that would mean more Teachers, better Curriculum and this thing called Education.  And that thing called Education costs money.  All in a City that is struggling financially.   Even in Washington State and Seattle, a very wealthy city, is finding that a challenge. 

I can't think of better way to say Happy 4th of July by celebrating with explosives and booze.  Chicago I am sure will have a bang up time. 

Chicago won’t allow high school students to graduate without a plan for the future
By Emma Brown The Washington Post  July 3 2017

CHICAGO — To graduate from a public high school in Chicago, students will soon have to meet a new and unusual requirement: They must show that they’ve secured a job or received a letter of acceptance to college, a trade apprenticeship, a gap year program or the military.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said he wants to make clear that the nation’s third-largest school system is not just responsible for shepherding teenagers to the end of their senior year, but also for setting them on a path to a productive future.

“We are going to help kids have a plan, because they’re going to need it to succeed,” he said. “You cannot have kids think that 12th grade is done.”

Few would dispute that kids often need more than a high school diploma to thrive in today’s economy, but there is a simmering debate about the extent to which schools should be — and realistically can be — expected to ensure their graduates receive further training.

Emanuel’s plan, approved by the Board of Education in late May, has planted Chicago at the center of that debate.

Experts say Chicago Public Schools is the first big-city system to make post-graduation plans a graduation requirement. But the question is whether the cash-strapped district can provide enough mentoring and counseling to help its neediest students succeed when the rule takes effect in 2020.

Jermiya Mitchell, 17, a rising senior at Morgan Park High School on the South Side, said she has had few interactions with her guidance counselor. “We never had that conversation about life after high school,” she said. “I would like to have a counselor that really wanted to know what I wanted to do after high school and would help me get there.”

Some students, parents and teachers have embraced the move as a way to level the playing field for teens whose parents aren’t equipped to help them envision where they want to go after high school — or figure out how to get there.

“It means they have a plan instead of graduating and not knowing what they want to do,” said DeAvion Gillarm, 18, who just graduated from Morgan Park.

Critics say Emanuel’s idea is an empty gesture that does nothing to address the fact that many teenagers are graduating in ­impoverished, violence-racked neighborhoods with few jobs, or that the most readily accessible community colleges are ill-prepared to meet the needs of first-generation students from low-income families. They also point out that the 381,000-student district laid off more than 1,000 teachers and staff members in 2016, and it is in such difficult financial straits that it struggled to keep its doors open for the final weeks of the school year.

“It sounds good on paper, but the problem is that when you’ve cut the number of counselors in schools, when you’ve cut the kind of services that kids need, who is going to do this work?” said Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union and Emanuel’s longtime political opponent. “If you’ve done the work to earn a diploma, then you should get a diploma. Because if you don’t, you are forcing kids into more poverty.”

Victor Ochoa, a counselor at Carl Schurz High School in northwest Chicago, where students are overwhelmingly Hispanic and poor, said he has a caseload of 400 students and a grab bag of other duties: recruiting eighth-graders to enroll, registering students for classes and summer school, monitoring attendance, administering standardized tests, and helping students deal with crises from homelessness to street violence. Many counselors also serve as special-education coordinators, he said.

“To have a good conversation about college, that takes a one-on-one conversation,” he said. “We end up band-aiding it by giving them something written or telling them to get on Naviance,” a software program meant to help students plan for college.

School and city officials are impatient with the notion that the new requirement — originally suggested to Emanuel by Arne Duncan, the former Chicago schools chief who was education secretary under President Barack Obama — asks too much of students or schools.

Emanuel announced the initiative in April. Officials describe it as the logical next step in Chicago’s efforts to improve public education. Despite the school system’s financial woes, nearly 74 percent of students now graduate within four years — 16 points higher than the rate five years ago, although that’s lower than the national average of 83 percent.

Nationally, there is a move afoot to hold schools accountable for what high school students do after graduation. Out of 17 states that have laid out plans for rating school performance under a new federal law, at least four plan to incorporate the percentage of graduates who enroll in college or another postsecondary option.

Chicago rates its high schools’ performances based partly on the number of graduates who go to college and stay at least a year. High school graduates are guaranteed admission to one of the city’s community colleges, if they apply, and about 40 percent of the Class of 2015 enrolled in a four-year college, approaching the national average (44 percent) that year.

The first students affected by the new requirement are rising sophomores in the Class of 2020. Emanuel argues that gives schools enough time to make sure students are ready, even without additional resources.

“I know what’s not good for kids is allowing them to go into a job market and the rest of their lives with a high school diploma when everything tells you that they need more than that,” Emanuel said.

Families have had mixed reactions. “Maybe it would make parents get invested in their kids’ education,” said Carrie Patterson, whose son Caron is a rising sophomore at Morgan Park.

“You should just get a diploma for what you do in high school,” said Zahria Parks, another student at the school.

Some schools have already undergone a transformation. One low-performing neighborhood school reopened in 2013 as Crane Medical Preparatory High School, a magnet school focused on preparing students for jobs in health-care industries. It connects students to summer internships, organizes college visits and hosts parent meetings about college planning and financial aid.

All of Crane’s 118 graduates this year know what they are doing next, according to Principal Fareeda Shabazz. One is headed to Dartmouth College, another to Skidmore College. Five young women are planning to work their way through college as phlebotomists, drawing blood with the skills they learned through a school-sponsored certification program.

“We really want to be a part of shaping and molding kids’ futures,” Shabazz said.

Amethyst Romo, 18, who just graduated from Chicago’s Marine Leadership Academy, credited her counselors and teachers and a senior college seminar with helping her see that higher education was a possibility — something her parents, who didn’t go to college, could not do.

In the fall, she plans to attend Goshen College — an Indiana school she visited on a trip that her counselor planned. “You just need a counselor that is dedicated enough,” she said.

But at many Chicago schools, the counseling staff is stretched thin.

Morgan Park has three guidance counselors and a college and career coach for about 1,300 students in grades seven through 12. Principal Carolyn Epps said counselors generally ask students about planning for the future in the summer before their senior year and that seniors get plenty of help navigating the college-application process.

Given the new graduation requirement, seniors beginning this fall will take a year-long seminar on planning for life after high school. Epps said she hopes to reach younger students through assemblies, parent meetings and instruction in home-room classes.

Janice Jackson, the school system’s chief education officer, said that is how the new requirement is supposed to work — pushing principals to improve efforts to help students prepare for the future. About 60 percent of district students have postsecondary plans when they graduate, she said, and she doesn’t think the schools should wait for more money to set an expectation that the remaining 40 percent follow suit.

Would Chicago really withhold diplomas from students who meet every requirement except the new one? Jackson says it won’t come to that, because principals, counselors and teachers won’t let it. They’ll go to students in that situation and press them to make sure they have a plan.

“There’s a big group in there who aren’t doing a whole lot after they leave high school,” she said. “It’s our responsibility to . . . guide them in the right direction.”

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