Catalyst finds neighborhood high schools losing neighborhood kids

Catalyst, in a report issued earlier this week, noted that neighborhood high schools have fewer and fewer students from within their attendance area.

“Five years ago, no high school enrolled fewer than 20 percent of the students in its attendance area,” Catalyst notes. However “the flight from neighborhood school is the result of the district’s orchestrated policy to give students more choices.”

The interactive map shows declines in neighborhood enrollment in every Ravenswood school, and also those serving parts of the neighborhood.

  • Mather currently enrolls 48 percent, down from 54 percent in 2006-7
  • Sullivan currently enrolls 29 percent, down from 39 percent in 2006-7
  • Senn currently enrolls 28 percent, down from 36 percent in 2006-7
  • Roosevelt currently enrolls 43 percent, down from 51 percent in 2006-7
  • Lake View currently enrolls 30 percent, down from 36 percent in 2006-7
  • Amundsen currently enrolls 39 percent, down from 46 percent in 2006-7


Amundsen Varsity crushes Lake View 55-30

We’d like to give you more details, but the picture below is all the information we have on the Lake View players! Come on Lake View, who are your players? Pictures are nice, but we need names.

We’ve moved the game photos to The Welles park Bulldog FaceBook page.

Lake View did not complete its roster and hasn't sent information requested. How can you write without names?

The roster for the Amundsen team is complete.

American Theater Co bridge program serving 150 Amundsen students

The American Theater Co is working with 150 Amundsen students in a Bridge Program that is promoting reading, writing, analysis and speaking, the Amundsen Local School Council was told December 13.

The ATC program provides the students with a play being performed by the North Center-based theater company. The students analyze the play, then meet with actors from the company to discuss the play Michael Driscoll of ATC told the council.

They also put on their own performance of the work before seeing the performance of the ATC, the LSC was told.

Finally the students use their knowledge to try to write their own plays according to Amundsen English teacher Nicole Matassa.

The program is available to freshman at Amundsen, Matassa told The Bulldog.

The LSC approved earmarking $5,730 already approved for the Bridge program to be carried over to the 2012-13 school year.

The funds will not be used in the current school year due to the program receiving additional outside funding and a smaller than expected class size, the LSC was told.

Bell and Lane top Sun-Times school report card

Two area public schools were named among the top 50 in the state in the annual Chicago Sun-Times ranking of Illinois schools.

Bell School was one of 13 Chicago Public Schools that met the standards for the top 50 elementary schools. The neighborhood school was one of just six District 299 schools that did not have eligibility requirements for enrollment and still was ranked by the newspaper.

Bell ranked 29th among CPS schools and 33rd in the state, the report says. The middle school classes ranked 19th in the state.

At a recent meeting of the Bell Local School Council concern was expressed that parents were pulling students from the school for the middle school Academic Center at nearby Lane Tech.

That might cause the school to experience a lower score in the future.

Although Bell was highly ranked, the school still failed to meet the requirements for the No Child Left Behind Act due to lower than accepatable reading scores among its disabled population.

Lane Tech was ranked 20th among all Illinois schools in the ranking. The large school boasts having a larger minority and low income proportion of its student body than many smaller magnet schools.

Six of those smaller schools, including nearby Northside College Prep, were ranked above Lane. The newspaper said the top three public schools in the state were all in Chicago: Northside, Whitney Young and Walter Payton.

Lake View High School was ranked 470th among 638 high schools. Amundsen ranked 536th on the same scale. Both schools were identified by the newspaper as in need of improvement for the ninth year in a row.

Lake View, the report says, is struggling with low math and reading scores among its entire population, with low scores for Hispanics and low-income students.

The problems the report highlights at Amundsen are similar, but more pronounced with lower composite scores.

Among the neighborhood elementary schools Blaine followed behind Bell, being ranked 103rd statewide and 52nd among middle schools.

Audubon and Coonley followed Blaine. Audubon was ranked 308th for elementary grades and 204th for middle schools. Coonley was ranked 388th for elementary and 391st for middle school.

Other schools and the ranks for elementary and middle school composite tests in the Sun-Times ranking:

    • Audubon ranked 308 and 204.
    • Bell ranked 29 and 19. The school did not meet AYP due to low reading scores among its disabled students.
    • Blaine ranked 103 and 52.
    • Budlong ranked 999 and 834. The Budlong composite was hurt by low reading scores. The composite fell to 80.9 percent from 81.4 the previous year.
    • Bell ranked 103 and 52.
    • Chappell ranked 1198 and 691. The composite score rose to 82.3 percent from 75.3 percent.
    • Coonley ranked 388 and 391. The school composite score fell to 90.8 from 92.0 the previous year.
    • Courtenay ranked 991 and 346. The school met the AYP, but had falling scores of 90.8 percent v 94.5 last year.
    • Hamilton scored 1422 and 880. Hamilton did not meet AYP due to reading scores. Composite has increased to 78.2 from 69.0.
    • McPherson ranked 1444 and 920. The school did not meet AYP due to reading scores and Hispanic reading scores (which actually exceeded that of the general school population) but had rising composite of 78.5 v 75.7. McPherson has been identified as in need of improvement by the newspaper for the 10th year in a row.
    • Ravenswood ranked 1698 and 1395. The school had a composite rank of 71.8 percent, up from 67.3 percent. It did not meet AYP due to math and reading scores. It has been identified as in need of improvement for the third year in a row.
    • Trumbull was ranked 1843 and 1035. The school did not meet AYP due to both math and reading scores. Trumbull has a falling composite score of 68.4 percent v 77.2. The school has been identified as in need of improvement for the first year.
    • Waters was ranked 1218 and 528. It did not meet AYP due to math scores. The school had rising composite scores of 81.1 percent versus 78.9 the previous year. Waters has been identified as in need of improvement for the 10thyear in a row.

Chicago Consortium results for schools; Mixed results

A study by the University of Chicago released this week is highlighting strengths and weaknesses in Chicago Public Schools. The study is based on results of surveys of students, faculty and parents at each of the more than 600 CPS schools, including charter schools.

The Chicago Consortium study, which asks questions pertaining to five “essential” areas summarizes the survey results as they pertain to those five areas of culture and climate.

The publication of the results is being criticized as now, according to critics on the District 299 site, schools will try to game the system.

But the results offer a detailed look at the system by researchers independent of the schools and the union.

In Ravenswood there were a number of surprises. There were schools that are well perceived by the public that had weaknesses exhibited, and some strengths too.

In general, community support for the schools is strong. That is reflected by students noting the variety of services and support in places like Lane, Blaine and Lake View.

The provision of basic classes in math and English are keys to a fulfilling adult life. Yet, some schools are disappointing, with students noting they have not experienced types of instruction needed to grow these skills.

The study puts the issue into perspective: Principals should prioritize the school’s improvement efforts; teachers should reflect on needs in and beyond the classroom; and the public should engage and support the efforts of the schools.

Below is our summary and links to finding greater detail for each of our neighborhood public schools.




Lane Tech, considered a jewel in the CPS system, received a low score for math instruction. The result, based on student surveys, dragged down the overall student approval of a higher than average course clarity and English instruction giving Lane a yellow.

A low response rate among teachers limited the scoring at Lane. However students identified the Human and Social Resources in the Community as strong. The result indicates students believe they come from communities where there are adults whom they trust and who provide a save environment.

This was echoed by students saying they feel safe in and around the school building and in their travels to school.


Read the summary of the Lane Tech report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Lane’s results.




Teacher response to the survey at Lake View was so low that none of the measures of their impression of performance were published.

However, the students were enthusiastic about the Human and Social Resources in the community, scored as slightly below that of Lane students on the same resources.


Read the summary of the Lake View report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Lake View’s results.




Students at Amundsen criticized the math courses. The survey measured student interaction with course material to build and apply knowledge.

Teachers at Amundsen identified issues with the principal. The principal was criticized in the survey by teachers for failing to provide instructional leadership. The survey also pointed to issues with teacher and principal trust. Together, and with below average scores in other measures, the survey indicated weaknesses in instructional leadership at Amundsen.


 Read the summary of the Amundsen report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Amundsen’s results.




The only charter school in the area, DeVry Advantage, did not have a high enough response in any area to be noted on the survey.


What does it indicate if there is a low response rate (from the study site)


What was the response rate for DeVry?






Students gave Blaine a score of 99 out of 100 on Human and Social Resources in the Community and in school safety. Blaine students also scored their trust of teachers very high. Together they pushed Blaine into a strong area on the score of Ambitious Instruction and Learning Climate.

The Blaine students also scored the math instruction as strong and noted the course clarity provided clear learning goals.


Read the summary of the Blaine report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Blaine’s results.




Students were disappointed by the course clarity, math instruction, academic personalization, the ‘academic press’ or expectations from teachers.

Other weak scores were found among teachers who noted a low measure of a collective responsibility in such areas as student development, school improvement and professional growth. That was mirrored by a lack of teacher to teacher trust in the school.

As a result the school scored two areas of concern without any clear bright spots.


Read the summary of the Budlong report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Budlong’s results.




Chappell performed well for its family and community ties. This result was not due to doing an outstanding job in any one area, but instead of being having overall strong survey results across a broad area of concern.


Read the summary of the Chappell report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Chappell’s results.




Coonley scored very well in a number of areas related to family and community ties including 95 out of 100 points in human and social resources in the community, a student result, and teacher-parent trust, which was a teacher survey. Teachers also noted the school has strong outreach efforts to parents.

The final result was that Coonley scored one of the few ‘dark green’ among Ravenswood school in this area of concern. Dark green indicates Coonley is very strong in this general area.

Students noted they feel safe at the school, contributing to a healthy learning environment, according to the survey.

The only weakness, according to the survey of students, was that math instruction was weak. The students scored math so low that it dragged down other scores among the ambitious instruction area.


Read the summary of the Chappell report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Chappell’s results.




Courtenay scored 99 out of 100 among its students for course clarity. It had other areas of strength among students in the area of ambitious instruction and scored a dark green in this area.

Students also noted two other areas where they scored the school as 99 out of 100: student-teacher trust and school safety. A very strong score in academic personalization and above average scores in other survey results indicated students felt the learning environment was dark green.

Overall, Courtenay received two scores of exceptional strength. It was the only Ravenswood-area school to do so.


Read the summary of the Courtenay report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Courtenay’s results.




A strong English program, scored 99 out of 100 by students, led the Hamilton report. However, a low level of ‘quality of student discussion’ dragged the potential for Hamilton to score well in ambitious instruction down to an average overall score.

Teachers noted the school has a low level of collective responsibility. That seemed to stem from a lack of professional trust among teachers as they scored low in that area also.


Read the summary of the Hamilton report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Hamilton’s results.




Although McPherson scored well among students for its human and social resources, it suffered from a below average scores in a number of measures of creating an ambitious academic instruction leading to a red mark in that area.


Read the summary of the McPherson report.


Go to the original report to explore further into McPherson’s results.




Math instruction was very poorly ranked by students, receiving just 10 of 100 points.

In general, average scores in other areas did not allow Ravenswood to stand out.


Read the summary of the Ravenswood report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Ravenswood’s results.




A red note on creating an ambitious academic environment was lead by students scoring only 13 of 100 points for English instruction at Trumbull. Math instruction was also scored low, with students giving the school just 22 of 100 points.


Read the summary of the Trumbull report.


Go to the original report to explore further into Trumbull’s results.

Bond set in West Side memorial shooting

Bond of $500,000 has been set for Michael Martinez. Prosecutors say Martinez opened fire with a gun during the memorial service for Jovany Diaz.

Diaz, 15 and a student at Amundsen High School, was killed celebrating his 15th birthday near his home in West Humboldt Park.

Martinez, according to prosecutors, was free on a pending narcotics charge when he went to the Diaz memorial. The Chicago Tribune reports further that Martinez has a tattoo on his right arm saying “In loving memory- Jovany Diaz.”

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

Amundsen student killed in Humboldt Pk shooting

Jovany Diaz, 15, a sophomore at Amundsen High School, was shot June 13 in a front yard of a residence in the 4300 block of West Hirsch. Diaz was celebrating his 15th birthday.

News reports say Diaz was in the front yard of a residence on Hirsch when a gunman crossed the street at about 10P, and started firing. Diaz was struck in the chest and a 19 year old cousin was struck in the hand. Diaz was rushed to the Mount Sinai Hospital. He was pronounced dead, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

A memorial service for Diaz on June 13 was disrupted, according to a reporter witnessing the scene for the Chicago Sun-Times, when a mourner began firing shots. “At about 2.20P, staff reporter Kim Janssen was covering the slaying of Jovany Diaz when he heard a man shouting at the corner of Kildare and Hirsch,” the Sun-Times reported. “The man- who was among the mourners at Diaz’s memorial just moments earlier- fired two shots.”

The Sun-Times goes on to report a 24 year old man was wounded, apparently by the gun fire.

The death of Diaz makes the second Amundsen High School student this year to die of gun violence.

Earlier in the year a Nigerian soccer player, Kabiru Adesunmi, 16, a sophomore, was killed in the 800 block of East 82nd Street. Adesunmi was shot on his way to a convenience store following a Chicago Bulls victory.

Neither boy is reported to have any gang affiliation.

Read about the murder of Kabiru Adesunmi on WLS TV.

Read about the murder of Jovany Diaz in the Chicago Tribune.

Read about the shooting at the memorial service in the Chicago Sun-Times.


Amundsen High Tri-M goal to raise $5K for cancer

The Amundsen High School Tri-M team, an honor society that recognizes outstanding students for their outstanding contributions to their communities and their school’s music programs, has set a goal to raise $5k for the American Cancer Society.

The Amundsen Tri-M team has participated four times in five consecutive years in the ACS fundraising, according to its web site. In that time it has raised $9,500.

The team notes that two teachers and a class member are currently battling cancer.

To help with the team’s fundraising and learn more.


Citizen Pawar looks ahead to the challenges of Alderman Pawar

Ameya Pawar is facing the challenges of being an alderman in an era of austerity. Credit: Jane Rickard

In a final interview as an ordinary Citizen, Ameya Pawar, the new alderman for the 47th Ward, talked to The Bulldog about running for office, the mysteries of getting a pay cut and the challenges of keeping a campaign promise.

“Everything changed after Daley left the race,” Pawar said in an interview late last week. “The city became concerned about where it was headed.” Pawar credits his campaign for maintaining a positive focus and staying on message for his victory.

Now, things have changed again. As alderman, a title Pawar was struggling with even last week, he has become a symbol of success and power for leaders in the South Asian community. He takes calls from the mayor and meets leaders in the state.

“I’m reaching out to every alderman. I’m letting them know where I stand,” Pawar said.

A city in crisis

Pawar said the term will be challenging as the city is in crisis. “It is headed for bankruptcy if we don’t do something,” he said.

“If you look at the (new) mayor’s 72 page report he outlines cuts. They will be painful.”

“We need to look at city services and determine if they are needed,” Pawar said.

Pawar said he intends to look deeply at cut proposals. There is waste that can be cut. But “we don’t need cuts that scare people,” he said. Plus Pawar said cuts can have unintended consequences that make things worse.

Pawar said his first priority was to pass a budget that wouldn’t require property tax increases. Speaking in financial terms he said the budget had to be sustainable. Then he outlined his legislative wish list:

  • Fix TIF. “It’s broken,” he said.

Education First

Pawar’s second item was to deal with academic achievement at Amundsen and Lake View high schools. It is a major concern, he said.

Chicago education should work to elevate the neighborhood schools.

“The work involved to raise the level of the high schools requires looking at paybacks that are beyond two terms of office,” he said.

Pawar discussed the disconnect between the political class in Chicago and the schools. It is a disconnect that allows politicians to cut ribbons opening new school buildings but not take responsibility for poor performance.

Q: Would that happen in the suburbs? It seems as though if the suburbs saw their schools in decline, it would hit their property values and the politicians would be removed.

A: Chicago does have it wrong. Suburban property owners are rewarded for the quality of their schools.

In the city, Pawar said, poorly performing schools act to drive a class of property owner, those with young children, to either seek a performing district outside the city or to place their children in private school.

If the parents stay in the city, they seek enrollment for their children in better schools. Children become stressed as adults pressure them to perform so they can enter magnet schools, or parents are stressed by the money required to put their children in a private school Pawar noted.

But schools can increase property values, he noted. Coonley and Bell in the Ravenswood neighborhood are good examples of neighborhood schools that have worked to increase the value of homes in their attendance area he said.

Democracy in the Ward

Pawar then outlined his third item, the plan to deploy citizen engagement tools discussed in the campaign.

  • The participatory budget process is used in the 49th Ward to allocated the $1.3 million of “menu” items there. Pawar’s introduction would be the first such use in the 47th Ward.
  • Pawar said he hoped to have the ward council active by the end of the year and the participatory budgeting process working next year.

“Ed Burke told me politics is a game of addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division.” Pawar said. He accepts Alderman Burke’s advice. Pawar, who was talking about his relations with the rest of City Council, could have been talking about the process he sees in the ward council.

“We’re not always going to agree, but we should be able to have an adult conversation,” he said.

How to turn down $40K

Turning to his pay, Pawar noted he was struggling to keep his promise to take a pay cut. His intent had been to use the roughly $40,000 difference to fund the ward service office. He discovered that either he could attempt to change the city ordinance to cut his pay or he could voluntarily take a pay cut, but he couldn’t use the difference to fund office operations.

The city offered to pay the entire salary to Pawar, then he could use it to fund the ward service office- after paying taxes on it. Pawar, who has three masters degrees and is completing a fourth masters, has substantial student debt to pay.

Q: How much student debt are you carrying?

A: It is as much as a typical mortgage. My student debt repayment is on a sliding scale. If I accepted the $110,000 alderman’s salary I wouldn’t be able to fund any of the ward office from my salary and pay my debt. Typically, I’ve learned aldermen spend about $10,000 out of their pocket for expenses.

“I think people are disappointed,” he admitted. “But I’m in a system where I need to raise money or else I fail.”

“We received two computers dedicated to the 3-1-1 system,” he said. The office needs computers, art, furniture, office equipment, everything. Pawar hopes to make it a third place where people will stop in, have a coffee and talk.

“It makes me sick to my stomach that I’m doing a fundraiser shortly after being sworn in,” he said.

Pawar said he was raising funds because the city ward office is expected to handle many community issues. But new aldermen receive small staffs. The larger staffs come from aldermen receiving assignments as a committee chair on the council.

“Not a penny will go to political activity,” Pawar said. “The staff will handle children’s programs and the participatory budgeting.”