Education

Friday, July 25, 2014

FitzPatrick, Karp, and Lutton talking schools at the Hideout!

Posted By on 07.25.14 at 04:04 PM

Linda Lutton of WBEZ will join Mick and Ben at the Hideout on August 5, along with fellow ace reporters Lauren FitzPatrick of the Sun-Times and Sarah Karp of Catalyst.
  • John Sturdy
  • Linda Lutton of WBEZ will join Mick and Ben at the Hideout on August 5, along with fellow ace reporters Lauren FitzPatrick of the Sun-Times and Sarah Karp of Catalyst.
With the start of a new school year just around the corner, Mick Dumke and I will be hosting three of the big guns of education reporting on our August 5 show at the Hideout.

That would be the incomparable Lauren FitzPatrick of the Sun-Times, Sarah Karp of Catalyst, and Linda Lutton of WBEZ.

Take a bow, ladies!

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An interview with Richard Linklater and Northwest Chicago Film Society on film programming (part two)

Posted By on 07.25.14 at 03:00 PM

This spring Linklater programmed a revival of Veronika Voss by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, one of his cinematic heroes.
  • This spring Linklater programmed a revival of Veronika Voss by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, one of his cinematic heroes.
Read part one of this interview.

Kyle Westphal: A lot of filmmakers describe themselves as artists working in opposition to "the industry" or to some monolithic mainstream audience, but as an exhibitor you were part of that industry before you started making movies. Do you ever think of yourself as an exhibitor when you're working on your films?

Richard Linklater: Yeah. Showing movies has been a big part of my life. Sometimes the audiences haven't been big—that's the fate of a lot of films. I've made a lot myself that no one has gone to, but hey, at least they exist.

It's easy to complain about Hollywood. I found some quote by Pauline Kael, something like the industry's now run by businesspeople and artists are overrun by bottom-line thinking and all this stuff. It sounds like she's talking about the industry today, but she wrote that around 1970. It's always been like this. Go back to the movies of the 40s and 50s—take Sullivan's Travels and Sunset Boulevard, two insider visions of Hollywood. Sullivan's Travels is about this successful film director who's having trouble getting his movie made about "something real." Sunset Boulevard is about this hack screenwriter on the margins of Hollywood, and everything's a struggle for him.

So, that's the industry. You can create your own world outside that too. That's what I always wanted to do, just live in my own cinema universe and not think about shit like that. And to a large degree, that's become true. I'm always kind of unnerved when my cinematic universe collides with the reality of the business side, but I just have to deal with it.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

An interview with Richard Linklater and Northwest Chicago Film Society on film programming

Posted By on 07.24.14 at 12:43 PM

Both Linklater and Northwest Chicago Film Society have revived Warren Beattys Reds in the past two years.
  • Both Linklater and Northwest Chicago Film Society have revived Warren Beatty's Reds in the past two years.
Richard Linklater is not only one of this country's most versatile working film directors, he's also an accomplished film exhibitor. Linklater started the Austin Film Society in 1985 to bring hard-to-see movies to his hometown and to stoke his own nascent cinephilia. What began as a ragtag (and often one-man) outfit has grown to a million-dollar organization that awards grants to new filmmakers, offers youth education programs, and operates a 100,000 square foot production facility. Last week I spoke with Linklater about his life in programming when he came to town to promote his new movie Boyhood. To help me conduct the interview, I recruited Julian Antos, Rebecca Hall, and Kyle Westphal, the brains behind local programming organization the Northwest Chicago Film Society. (J.R. Jones recently profiled the group's 35-millimeter restoration of the rare industrial film Corn's-a-Poppin'.) Our half-hour conversation centered on how repertory film programming has evolved over the last 30 years, though as in his latest film, Linklater was quick to note that some things—like the joy of rediscovering neglected areas of film history—remain consistent over time. The first part of our conversation follows the jump; check back tomorrow for the conclusion.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mayor Rahm doles out some goodies to Hyde Park and Kenwood

Posted By on 07.23.14 at 03:30 PM

Alderman Will Burns convinced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to back a strangely logical plan to ease overcrowding at Kenwood Academy.
  • Brian Jackson/Sun-Times Media
  • Alderman Will Burns convinced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to back a strangely logical plan to ease overcrowding at Kenwood Academy.
I used to hear west-side politicians tell stories about how the winos on skid row would take booze from precinct captains in exchange for a promise to vote the Democratic line. Then, once safely in the polling booth, they voted for whomever they wanted.

The recent announcement that Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to move the Kenwood Academic Center into Canter—a middle school he just closed—got me thinking of that tale.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

CPS has libraries—but where are the librarians?

Posted By on 07.12.14 at 09:01 AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett havent found a way to hire school librarians.
  • Fran Spielman/Sun-Times Media
  • Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett haven't found a way to hire school librarians.
I was reading a collection of Kurt Vonnegut's letters—great book, by the way—when I came across a missive from February of 1983 that sort of sums up Mayor Rahm Emanuel's curious attitude toward libraries.

No, Uncle Kurt wasn't writing to Rahm, who was all of 23 back then and just getting started in the political business. His letter was to Charles Ray Ewick, an official with the Indiana State Library.

Apparently the state of Indiana was so broke it couldn't afford to buy books for its libraries, so Ewick had one of his staffers write a letter to Vonnegut—who grew up in Indianapolis—asking if he'd be so kind as to donate a copy of Deadeye Dick, his latest novel.

To which Vonnegut replied:

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Friday, July 4, 2014

What does it mean to be a top-ranked high school according to U.S. News?

Posted By on 07.04.14 at 08:32 AM

Northside College Prep, at 5500 N. Kedzie, shown in February. In April, U.S. News online ranked Northside the No. 1 public high school in Illinois.
  • Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media
  • Northside College Prep, at 5500 N. Kedzie, shown in February. In April, U.S. News online ranked Northside the No. 1 public high school in Illinois.
Some of the highest-ranked public high schools in Illinois are Chicago schools. I've mentioned this from time to time, as have other local education writers. This year, U.S. News online, which ranks the public schools, deemed Chicago's Northside College Prep the state's top-ranked high school. Payton Prep, Jones Prep, and Whitney Young Magnet, all CPS schools, came in second, third, and fourth, and Lane Tech was eighth.

Jones Prep notes its U.S. News ranking prominently on its website. Payton Prep's website says bashfully that "Some are impressed by the accolades" the school has received, and lists its U.S. News ranking among them.

But what exactly do the rankings mean?

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Chicago's entire school desegregation strategy needs a turnaround

Posted By on 06.23.14 at 01:00 PM

More whites and fewer blacks are getting into Chicagos elite public high schools, including Payton College Prep.
  • Chris Sweda/Sun-Times
  • More whites and fewer blacks are getting into Chicago's elite public high schools, including Payton College Prep.
When the City Council holds hearings on Chicago's selective enrollment high schools this summer, I hope aldermen consider the larger questions about racial and economic segregation as well as the particular ones that prompted their interest in the subject.

Aldermen Pat Dowell (Third) and Will Burns (Fourth) called for the hearings in late April after a Sun-Times report showed declines in the number of black students and increases in the number of white students since 2009 at the city's top four selective enrollment high schools.

Students who graduate from those four schools—Payton, Jones, Northside, and Whitney Young—are "pretty much guaranteed a seat at a good college anywhere in this country," Dowell told the Sun-Times . "We need to make sure our children, African-American children, have access to that pipeline." The formula governing admission to the selective high schools might need to be modified, she said.

Burns, who like Dowell is African-American, grew up near Cleveland and attended an elite public school in seventh and eighth grade. That school made it possible for him to attend a private high school, which in turn helped him get into the University of Chicago, he told me Friday. "There are a lot of talented black kids out there, and if they're given an opportunity, they'll shine," he said.

Equal access to the "pipeline" is a worthy concern. But the selective enrollment schools are intended to do more than help high achievers. They're supposed to be part of a larger strategy aimed at reducing the socioeconomic and racial isolation that has beset the Chicago Public Schools for decades. That strategy—a near total failure for more than 30 years—is what most desperately needs a hearing.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Chicago-style democracy endures under Mayor Emanuel

Posted By on 06.13.14 at 05:05 PM

Mayor Emanuel announces plans for Obama College Prep. The mayors office has declined to answer questions about the selection of the Near North Side as the site for the school.
  • Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media
  • Mayor Emanuel announces plans for Obama College Prep. The mayor's office has declined to answer questions about the selection of the Near North Side as the site for the school.
"Rahm Emanuel is no friend of democracy," historian Rick Perlstein wrote in Rolling Stone in 2012. The mayor was "obsessed with finding ways to expand his executive power" and worked "underhandedly and opaquely," Perlstein charged.

Well, what does he expect of a Chicago mayor? I recall thinking when I read that.

I was an eight-month-old south-sider when Richard J. Daley was elected mayor in 1955, and a 22-year-old north-sider, fresh out of college, when he died in office in 1976. He wasn't called Boss for nothing: he was obsessed with power, and he worked opaquely—that is, he felt little need to explain himself or to allow for a free flow of information about city business. Reporters were to be avoided and ignored, like any pests. His successor, Michael Bilandic, felt similarly.

There was more communication from City Hall briefly, in the mid-1980s, when Harold Washington was mayor. But Washington was felled by a heart attack in 1987, and two years later the Daley family reclaimed its fifth-floor throne. The new Boss, Richard M., had the same sentiment about democracy and the press as his father, and he kept those views during his 22 years in office.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Principal LaRaviere for mayor?

Posted By on 06.11.14 at 02:45 PM

Blaine Elementary principal Troy LaRaviere
The case against the reelection of Rahm Emanuel next spring is more than one issue long, but the one that's stirred up all the passion is education. The hostility of educators who oppose him seems anchored by the belief that he regards them with contempt, and public education as a beast to be subdued. Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, more than held her own against Emanuel in the 2012 teachers' strike, and she's the obvious candidate of enemies who believe education is Emanuel's Achilles' heel. But Lewis drips with electoral negatives, and besides, she's said she doesn't want to make the race.

A month ago Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary in Lakeview, published an op-ed in the Sun-Times that called out Emanuel, accusing him of running an administration that has "ignored and even suppressed principals' voices in order to push City Hall's political agenda for Chicago's schools." Principals rarely speak up at all, and a public statement so pugnacious was astonishing. Sure enough—a few days later I heard LaRaviere was being encouraged to run for mayor.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Is the Near North Side the right neighborhood for Obama College Prep?

Posted By on 06.09.14 at 02:30 PM

  • Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media
  • "Literally less than a handful" of neighborhoods were right for Obama College Prep, Mayor Emanuel told reporters when he announced plans for it on April 24.
For a school that won't begin rejecting students until 2017, Obama College Prep has already ticked off a lot of people. Why? Location, location, location.

At an April 24 press conference, Mayor Emanuel announced that the city would build a selective enrollment high school on the Near North Side and name it for President Obama. He said he picked the Near North neighborhood because it was accessible by bus and train and had open land, and because $60 million in tax increment financing was available to build it in the area. There were "literally less than a handful" of neighborhoods in which the school could be built, he said.

The mayor said Obama Prep would go up in Stanton Park, which is a block north of Division and a block east of Halsted. This irked area residents, who didn't want to lose the park. Indeed, a Chicago Housing Authority draft redevelopment plan for the neighborhood, published in February, says the area needs more park space. Obama Prep would consume most of Stanton Park's five acres.

The mayor's announcement also bothered Alderman Walter Burnett Jr., whose ward, the 27th, includes Stanton Park. Burnett later said he welcomed the idea of building the school in his ward, but he maintained that Emanuel didn't tell him the exact site until the day of the press conference.

In order to save Stanton Park, the city is now considering other sites in the neighborhood, Burnett told me ten days ago. Presumably he'll learn which one was chosen before ground is broken.

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