Casimir Pulaski, Columbus Days on CPS Chopping Block - NBC Chicago

Casimir Pulaski, Columbus Days on CPS Chopping Block

Chicago Board Of Education approves 180-day calendar for 2012-2013 school year



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    On the chopping block at CPS headquarters Wednesday were days off for two holidays students have come to know and love: Columbus Day and Casimir Pulaski Day.

    "One critical component of the new proposed calendar is the use of two holidays as student attendance days," said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard during a board meeting.

    Students would go to school on those days, with curriculum focused on the impact of both historical figures.

    "We commit to ensuring schools recognize the contribution of Columbus and Pulaski through instructional activities on those days," said CPS Chief Instruction Officer Jennifer Cheatham. Changes to Track R and Track E calendars

    But the Chicago Teachers Union hates the idea of losing the time away from the classroom, on Columbus Day, in particular.

    "To go nine weeks without a break, these schools are going to be disrupted, you're going to cause a school to explode," CTU's Kathleen Murray told the school board.

    "That's not good for kids and that's not good for teachers," said Jackson Potter with CTU. "Teachers need additional time during the school year to really think about their practice and reflect on what's working and what isn't."

    School Board: Elected or Appointed?

    Outside the meeting, a coalition of different community groups took up another issue: electing school board members instead of the mayor appointing them. Demonstrators said they're sick and tired of the appointed school board members they accuse of being Rahm Emanuel's "puppets."

    "Their opinions were made for them when they were placed in their seats by one man, the mayor," said Becky Malone of 19th Ward Parents.

    The coalition announced a campaign to install a representative-elected school board.

    "We need a dramatic change," said Erica Clark with community group Parents for Teachers. "We're not being listened to here at the board."

    "Every other school district in the state has an elected school board," Potter said. "Why is Chicago the exception?"

    The coalition is still rallying support around its cause, but eventually plans to take legal and legislative action allowing the public to vote in school board members.