Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harlan Community Invite Night & LSC meeting...

NOTE: I learned just last Thursday that Harlan High School will now hold their Local School Council meetings on the first Thursday of every month. Didn't think to ask for the time, but feel free to clarify with an e-mail or a comment in this post. For the purposes of establishing a time, I just set the time at 6 PM.

Anyway, I was at Harlan last Thursday for their Community Invite Night. According to LSC Community Representative Sharon Banks one of the events to take place was a tour of the school. This didn't pass unfortunately basically in the beginning turnout wasn't that great and eventually other parents started to trickle into Harlan's social room.

There was a very talkative gentleman talking shop with Harlan's principal Reginald Evans. His name was James Patrick and he's a retired assistant principal who once worked at South Shore High School. Also he's a member of the Harlan High School Alumni Association. In talking about the issues high schools face these days he backed up Principal Evans close to 100%.

Alderman Roderick Sawyer came to Harlan on that particular evening. Spent the better part of roughly half an hour talking to the LSC about the issues facing the school. Especially the issues of crime against Harlan students. Specifically mentioned by them was the gas stations nears the corner of 95th & State which have been of concerned and allegations of illicit dealings thrown about. Also directed at Ald. Sawyer ways to continue to market the school and continuing to create positive programming for the students.

Principal Evans has been serious about wanting to find ways to market Harlan High School in the way that Urban Prep, Whitney Young Magnet High School, and others have done to recruit students. In fact before the end of this evening I took a picture of this banner that was pulled out of the closet by Harlan's Assistant Principal. It almost struck me as something that you would see on a college campus.

In any event the LSC meeting was called to order at 5:33 PM. It was scheduled to start at 6 PM, but it appears some moments had been decided on the fly.

During the course of this meeting, I learned for the first time that the area south of 95th Street is the testing ground for the new CPS reorganization scheme. Harlan is part of the Far South Side (Area 24) network.

It was noted that the network chief made an appearance at Harlan, however, it was not long after a shooting had taken place that had involved some Harlan students. In spite of that setback the network chief found that the school continued to function accordingly and he felt better about Harlan. I especially understand that the network chief is from Miami so he would have a lot to learn about our fair city.

Now back to Ald. Sawyer. Evans noted that he wanted to find ways to get parents to attend school events. It was noted that Back to School night held in September had a disappointing parental turnout. The next thing discussed might bring parents out to see what's going on at Harlan, a parental report card.

This report card would only provide a checklist for the parents as to what the parents are doing to ensure the success of their children at school. The only thing the parents would in fact would be graded on is student attendance.

Also noted was, at the time I write this post I have yet to do enough research on what this is supposed to mean. However it's connected to the eventual phase out of No Child Left Behind and this is expected to be a different set of standards for school achievement.

For an interesting change I wasn't the only person in the audience for this LSC meeting. There were other parents in attendance one had a question about how to insure that parents will know how to utilize the Parent Portal. This will enable parents to check on the progress of their children online. It was even noted that for report card pick up there were plenty of parents with questions about this program and parents were lining up to learn about it.

Finally it was noted that there are students at Harlan who are homeless. The lady - who is a Harlan parent -  who asked a question about Parent Portal also wanted to note that her organization is hosting a fundraiser in Chicago Heights so that she can help to serve homeless youth. In the near future I will be sure to post information on that in the near future.

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