Budlong Principal critical of CPS, Lack of Support for Longer Day

Principal Al Solomon used his Principal’s Report to the Budlong Local School Council Tuesday to criticize the Chicago Public Schools push for a longer school day telling the council there was a lack of coordination and information coming from the central office about the topic.

Most CPS schools will add 90 minutes to their schedule starting with the 2012-3 school year. The plan for an extended school day was a central feature of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s education plan and also of CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.

“The Longer School Day Pioneer Program is built on a simple fact – Chicago Public School students spend 15% less time in the classroom than the average American public school student,” according to the CPS web site It is a fact that is disputed.

Solomon started by noting the school had a refugee position that is filled. But the school has not received funding for the position for six weeks, he noted.

Then he noted that Budlong has been reporting truancy of five days and ten days as required, but has discovered that there isn’t a truancy office at the CPS central office.

“Support departments such as Truancy and Refugee are not being funded,” he noted.

Which brought him to the extended school day.

“The plan for the extended day is to use if for recess and lunch,” Solomon said.

“Where is more educational time?” Solomon asked.

Solomon pointed to webinars presented by CPS that extolled the extended day in other districts without giving guidance on how to use the new time in CPS. The webinars lack specifics he said.

What is the plan for the older CPS building, such as Budlong, that lack adequate indoor facilities for recess during inclement weather, Solomon asked.

Budlong was originally constructed in 1907, with additions in 1913, 1955 and 1996, according to the Chicago Public Schools. Its age actually puts it on the younger half of the scale of age for area public school buildings. McPherson, built in 1888, is considered the oldest school building in the area. However it has had a substantial addition to its facilities.

The most recent building in the neighborhood is Courtenay, built in 1949.

Adequate indoor facilities to accomodate recess requirements is a concern for many area schools. However Solomon is the first to address the issue in a public manner.

Solomon said the extended day will have the following effects:

  • Student day extended by 90 minutes.
  • School year extended by 10 additional days (two weeks).
  • Students will receive a 45 minute lunch/ recess each day.
  • Teachers will receive longer lunch periods.
  • Teachers will work 60 additional minutes on class preparation each day (this will take the place of early morning preparation).


Examine the CPS site promoting the extended school day.

The Chicago Teachers union Addresses the push for an Extended Day.

Catalyst says extended school hours have a casual relationship with improved test scores.

Read a just released report by teachers on how to use the extended hours.

Read Eric Zorn’s Webliography of resources on the debate about the extended school day.

Read Whet Moser’s analysis of the argument.

Read about the pettiness of CPS and the Union.

The North Side High School Initiative FaceBook Page.

Raise Your Hand for Illinois Education web site.

Grow 47 Web site.

PURE Parents Blog on the longer school day.


Transparency Note: Jane Rickard, a Welles Park Bulldog founder, is a CPS employee and member of the Chicago Teachers Union. She works at Budlong and other schools. Rickard is married to the writer, Patrick Boylan.


CPS map: errors, errors and more errors UPDATED

An interactive map of Chicago Public Schools touted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard this morning is full of errors a study by The Bulldog has found.

The map, announced with new school progress measurements parents will receive with report cards by the end of the week, “tell the story of a school’s performance by providing information about academic performance, teachers and staffing, school culture and climate and parent satisfaction,” a news release from the city said this morning.

Yet, as seen in our screen grab image, errors abound on the map, with schools mislabeled, misplaced and difficult to find.

“Through the school progress report cards, we can provide access to data on performance in a clear and understandable way,” Brizzard said in the release. The release goes on to note “the public will have access to all school progress report cards through a comprehensive online map.”

In its study of about 26 North Attendance Area elementary schools and 28 North Attendance Area high schools The Bulldog located 18 errors.

The Bulldog reached out to the Chicago Public Schools and was asked to call back in the morning. The mayor’s office did not reply to a tight deadline call for comment.

*** UPDATED Nov. 15, 2011 @ 12.25P

The Mayor’s Press Office noted that charter schools, which make up some of the issues we noted, are not included in the data base. The office said the map didn’t include charters because the charters “have a different set of standards.”

The office noted that The Bulldog was not at the press conference announcing the map. It said the charter issue was addressed at that time.

The mayor’s spokeswoman said charter information would be added next year.

The office asked The Bulldog to take the story down due to this “error.”

Below, in the list of schools found in our limited survey of the North Attendance Area we added a note if the school is a charter. The Bulldog also refers reader to the press releases from the city where the charter issue is not addressed and Brizzard’s description of the map as being “comprehensive.”

Return to Brizzard’s description of the “comprehensive” map.

Read the Mayor’s press release. 

Read the release from Chicago Public Schools.

Go to The Bulldog’s interactive maps that includes charter schools and information on the schools.


List of locations with errors:

  • Taft AC isn’t noted
  • Chicago Academy isn’t noted (Charter)
  • Aspira-Haugan isn’t noted (Charter)
  • Chicago Math & Science isn’t noted (Charter)
  • Passages isn’t noted (Charter)
  • Trumbull isn’t noted
  • Florence Nightingale is located in Budlong Woods
  • Thomas Kelly High School is located in Irving Park (Horner Park West)
  • William H Seward Communications Arts Academy ES located in Old Ravenswood
  • McPherson isn’t noted
  • Velma F Thomas Early Childhood Center in North Center
  • Evergreen Academy MS in South East Ravenswood
  • Aspira-Ramirez Computer Science isn’t noted (Charter)
  • Noble Street not noted on map (Charter)
  • Noble Pritzker not noted on map (Charter)
  • Noble- Rauner not noted on map (Charter)
  • Noble- Golder not noted on map (Charter)
  • CICS Northtown not noted (Charter)
A study by The Bulldog found 18 errors in the CPS map intended to help parents make education decisions.

A study by The Bulldog found 18 errors in the CPS map intended to help parents make education decisions. Nine are listed on the illustration. Credit: CPS.EDU

Trumbull LSC a no-show; budgets in question, students suffering

The Trumbull Local School Council has been a no-show in October, missing the deadline for posting its agenda for a meeting expected on Oct. 12 and failing to adjourn a quorum for a ‘special’ meeting held Oct. 18.

The failure of the LSC to meet led to a presentation by Principal Venus Shannon to about 25 parents and community members.

Although the crowd expressed anger and disappointment that parent and community members of the LSC did not show, there was also a long discussion regarding a communication by the LSC to School Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard.

That letter, dated Sept. 27, stated grievances of the seven no-show LSC members against Shannon.

Shannon told the audience that the failure of the LSC to meet was causing problems at the school. Telling the parents that the LSC has not approved minutes since a meeting in July, Shannon said she called the meeting herself.

Backed by three staff LSC members, Shannon told the mostly Latino crowd that the school was in a state of probation. The probation was caused by a report that indicated only 69.7 percent of Trumbull students meet or exceed state standards.

“Trumbull just missed meeting standards,” Shannon said. “We need to focus on Hispanics. We need to move about 40 students to meet standards to get off probation.”

Shannon’s remarks were punctuated by a comprehensive translation into Spanish for the crowd.

Shannon told the crowd she needed the LSC to approve funds for a bilingual teacher, after school programs and even fund-raising efforts. Her report asked the LSC for $91,352, more than half of which was to fund a bilingual position.

Trumbull, which the Chicago Public Schools site says has 396 students, is about 60.1 percent Hispanic. Shannon said she is going to focus on the Hispanic students because the tests show that other groups were meeting the state standards.

“We’re in the seventh week of school and we don’t have after school” programs Shannon said. “I’ve never had this happen” before Shannon said.

Jose Reyes, the head of the school’s Bilingual Advisory Council told the group he was saddened that his child wanted to avoid school. He asked why the LSC had avoided the meeting.

James Morgan of the Parents Advisory Council expressed support for Shannon.

Shannon addressed allegations in the letter to Brizard. The letter says Shannon was involved in illegal hiring, misuse of funds, delay in hiring staff and starting programs. “She has not kept the promises she made to communicate and collaborate with the LSC,” the letter says. The letter says Shannon offered a relative a job in exchange for support on the LSC.

With none of the parent or community LSC members present, the chore of carrying the argument in the letter fell to Edwin Toledo, a parent and the spouse of the LSC Chair Frances Martinez. However Toledo was limited to just a 30 second statement by the LSC and was unable to effectively state the issues put forward in the letter.

“You’re trying to shut me down,” Toledo told the LSC in frustration.

Toledo indicated he did not want to talk to The Bulldog during the meeting and left at the end of the meeting without further comment.

Toledo and another parent denied that a petition signed by about 100 Trumbull parents was not explained to parents as a petition to remove Shannon. However, other parents said the petition was blank when they signed it and they did not know what they were signing.

The petition was delivered to the head of the Ravenswood-Ridge Network in Chicago Public Schools, Craig Benes.

The questions regarding the petition and the allegations in the letter were addressed by Shannon. She denied each of the charges in the letter. “This has to stop,” she said. “I never tried to bribe anyone.”

[Editor note: The Bulldog will be seeking comment from the LSC members, we urge readers to read the letter, below, stating their views]


Read the Performance Report for Trumbull School

Read the English version of the letter to Brizard

Read the Spanish version of the letter to Brizard

Read the proposed agenda of the LSC for the meeting of Oct. 18

Read the Principal’s Report to the LSC dated Oct. 12