Category: Blog

At Kellogg Elementary, ‘Wolfpack Time’ Lets Kids Pursue Their Passions

Photo: IB Coordinator Diane Pajkos (right) helps Kellogg middle schoolers solve a programming problem during Wolfpack Time, an hour of elective courses every Friday. From the second I walked in the door, I could feel Kellogg Elementary’s happy, well-organized vibe. It’s a small, Level 1+ school in Beverly. About two years ago, the school successfully halted a plan to merge…

Racial Equity in School Curriculum Takes Work Beyond February

This piece was originally published on Education Post as “It’s Going to Take More Than a Black History Month Report to See Racial Equity in Our Schools.” Co-author Kathleen Hayes has been around the k-12 education block, first as a Chicago high school English teacher and later in Chicago Public Schools central office and several education nonprofits and research organizations,…

Election Special: Let’s Not Forget the Story of Vallas, Chico and CPS Teacher Pensions

Election Day is Tuesday and many people will likely get out and vote this weekend. So it seems like a good time to remind Chicago Unheard readers of the history behind the CPS teacher pension crisis and the role two current mayoral candidates had in what happened: Paul Vallas and Gery Chico. In his response to a Sun-Times candidate questionnaire,…

Here’s What Happens When Early Childhood Teachers Go Deep Connecting with Families

When I first started teaching early childhood special education four years ago, I was confident in my teaching ability and behavior management skills. I was quickly confronted with the realization that I was working not only with my students, but with their families. During my first round of parent-teacher conferences and the first few IEP meetings, I wasn’t sure what…

Chicago’s Freshman OnTrack Effort Shows Why Playing the Long Game Makes Real Change

Much of the Chicago narrative in Emily Krone Phillips’ new book, The Make-or-Break Year, parallels the national arc of school reform. Early, stringent emphasis on accountability pried open classroom doors and created urgency around the need to change adult beliefs and practices that weren’t helping students graduate, especially those facing disadvantage due to race or economic status. But Chicago’s unique success…

How Freshman OnTrack Transformed Hancock High School

Earlier this week, we took a look at some big-picture lessons from Emily Krone Phillips’ new book, The Make-or-Break Year. To see the work from a school-level lens, Krone Phillips recounts Hancock High’s remarkable turnaround using Freshman OnTrack. At first, the Hancock story reads a bit like a traditional ed-reform narrative—idealistic principal Pam Glynn pushes her team of skeptical, mostly-White teachers…

‘The Make-or-Break Year” Offers Ed Reformers Sobering Lessons in Real School Change

“If we have to remove dead weight, we will remove dead weight.” That’s what the assistant principal of Chicago’s Orr High School told me in 1998, when I asked him how he dealt with no-show students. What he meant was, they’d be dropped from the school rolls and handed a list of alternative schools to call. As both an education…