Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has successfully used the turnaround strategy with two historically struggling schools, Sherman and Harvard elementary schools. The turnaround approach has brought about an entirely new culture and climate to schools, with higher expectations for academic performance.  These schools are managed for CPS by the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL). Now AUSL and the CPS Office of School Turnaround are partnering to replicate that success in two high-poverty neighborhoods. Turning around two chronically underperforming elementary schools and one high school in each neighborhood, CPS seeks to ensure that these preK-12 children are surrounded with opportunities to succeed.

Teach Chicago Turnarounds calls on Chicago’s most talented educators to put their skills and experience to use for students who need great teachers most. Teach Chicago Turnarounds is a recruitment initiative that matches high-caliber teachers to positions in six historically low-performing schools. In the turnaround model, the school has a new team; every position in the school is opened up to be newly staffed with teachers specifically selected to work as a team to meet the turnaround challenge. Turnaround teachers will collaborate on the improvement of schools that have long struggled to offer students more than the bare minimum. Starting over with new leaders, new faculty and a new vision, the Turnaround Schools offer accomplished veteran teachers and passionate novices an opportunity to take the next steps in their careers while giving students the opportunity to succeed.

Knowing that every teacher brings a unique skill set to the classroom, Teach Chicago Turnarounds aims to facilitate strong matches between teachers and schools. Talented teachers are needed in all grade levels and subject areas, particularly in math, science, special education and bilingual education. Following a smooth and efficient hiring process, all Turnaround teachers will receive a regular Chicago Public Schools salary and benefits, a greater voice in shaping the culture of the school, a range of professional development options, and the opportunity to be part of a dynamic instructional team. Help reverse a history of failure:

Change schools. Change lives. Teach Chicago Turnarounds.

The turnaround model for public education reform has gained national attention and support as a potential approach to improve performance rapidly in underperforming schools in high-poverty neighborhoods. For more detailed information on the turnaround model and the growing national movement, see research by The Mass Insight Education & Research Institute.

Morton School of Excellence

Terrance Little, Principal

Morton School of Excellence is committed to ensuring high academic achievement for every student by delivering the highest quality education that prepares students for the full range of opportunities in their future.  The focus is on the whole child:  academic, social, and emotional development.

Principal Terrance Little is cultivating a learning community of teachers who strive to improve their instruction through reflection, collaboration, and innovation, with the goal of increased student achievement.  Beginning with 5 weeks of professional development prior to the start of school, teachers work as a team, not only to push Morton’s students, but to drive their own continuous development as educators.

As a Morton teacher, you will:

  • Have the opportunity to focus on standards, not on test prep
  • Gain access to relevant and timely data to tailor instruction to student needs
  • Work with a variety of educators and resources to incorporate both academic and social/emotional learning standards into your curriculum
  • Be part of a supportive school family that is working hard together.

Morton School of Excellence is at the forefront of the new civil rights movement – the right of every student to receive the highest quality education, despite the challenges they may face in life.  Everyone at Morton – educators, students, and families alike – will be challenged to become the best they can be in an environment that sets high expectations and values personal growth.  If you are an exceptional teacher, focused on student achievement and committed to creating new futures for urban students, explore the possibilities and Morton.  Be part of the solution.

Morton School of Excellence is managed by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), a nonprofit organization selected by CPS.  All teachers and staff at AUSL-managed schools are employees of the Chicago Public Schools and paid on the salary schedule of the Chicago Teachers Union collective bargaining agreement.  For more information about AUSL, see www.ausl-chicago.org


Is there a special contract for teachers at Turnaround Schools?
No. All teachers at Turnaround Schools are employees of CPS and the terms of the CBOE/CTU collective bargaining agreement shall apply.

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What are the benefits of teaching at a Turnaround School?
Turnaround teachers will benefit from enhanced professional development opportunities, additional mentoring for teachers, and the chance to influence a school’s culture, climate and academic excellence. Turnaround teachers will work with a team of like-minded colleagues who share the goal of delivering the best education possible to every student.

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Is it safe to work at a Turnaround School?
CPS is committed to having all schools be safe places for children to learn and for teachers to work. Every school has plans in place to help ensure a safe environment, and teachers will be part of the planning, development, and implementation of these plans in their schools.

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Will there be an induction or orientation?
Yes. Turnaround Schools will have paid professional development time prior to the opening of school in order to train and develop their new staff members. This time will focus on building school unity and beginning to develop the culture of success that will be crucial for Turnaround Schools.

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What kinds of professional development will be offered?
Turnaround School teachers will benefit from special professional development and support which will vary based on the curriculum adopted at each school. Examples of the resources and partnerships that will be made available are the Chicago New Teacher Center and the Erikson Institute.

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Will I be hired by the principal or by some other entity?
The principals make the decision whether or not to extend an offer for a position.

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Where can I find more information about CPS?
For general information regarding the Chicago Public Schools district, visit: www.cps.k12.il.us

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Where can I find more information about the Turnaround Schools?
Click on a specific school on the list to the left to learn more about individual schools. Information is also available at www.cps.k12.il.us.

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What is an AUSL school? How are AUSL schools different from Turnaround Schools managed directly by CPS?
CPS has selected the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) to manage three of the six 2008-09 Turnaround Schools: Howe School of Excellence, Morton School of Excellence, and Orr Academy High School. AUSL is a nonprofit organization with a two-part mission: to improve student achievement in Chicago Public Schools by preparing and retaining Chicago’s next generation of exceptionally effective teachers and school leaders; and to transform chronically failing schools into schools of excellence by opening and managing Turnaround Schools, capitalizing on the strengths of its pipeline of AUSL-trained teachers.

AUSL already has led the turnaround of two Chicago Elementary schools. The Sherman School of Excellence opened in Englewood in 2006, and the Harvard School of Excellence opened in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood in September 2007. In addition, AUSL manages six other CPS schools (two high schools and four elementary schools) as training sites for its Urban Teacher Residency program. Over the past six years, AUSL has trained nearly 250 teachers who serve more than 5000 Chicago Public School children from low-income backgrounds.

All teachers and staff at AUSL-managed schools are employees of the Chicago Public Schools, hired by the AUSL school leadership team, and paid on the salary schedule of the Chicago Teachers Union collective bargaining agreement.

For more information about AUSL, see www.ausl-chicago.org.

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Has the Turnaround model been successful in the past?
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has used the turnaround strategy with two historically struggling schools, Sherman and Harvard elementary schools. This approach brought about an entirely new academic culture and climate. These Turnaround Schools are managed by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL). Now AUSL and CPS’ Office of School Turnaround are partnering to replicate that model in six more schools.

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Does CPS have a residency requirement?
Full-time Chicago Public Schools employees are required to be actual residents of the City of Chicago within six months from the day their employment begins. This requirement includes principals. Each prospective employee must complete a Sworn Residency Statement by the time his/her employment begins.

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Are exceptions made for teachers in high-need subject areas?
Yes. Exemptions from the residency requirement must be applied for at the time of hire. Subjects that the district deems “high-need” can change, but most often include special education, math, science, bilingual education and physical education.

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Does CPS provide housing assistance?
Yes. CPS teachers can receive up to $7,500 towards housing costs if used within the city. This includes money for purchasing a home and discounted rates on apartments throughout the city. For more information visit CPS’ Teacher Housing website at:

The Sex Starved Wife

I have to be honest the above pic (of Christina Hendricks, who plays Joan Holloway from the AMC channel show Mad Men) bears only the most obscure relationship to today’s post, which is all about The Sex Starved Wife, by Michele Weiner Davis.

Here’s the connection: Joan Holloway isn’t sex-starved, and she isn’t a wife, so…

I know, I know, it’s a terrible stretch. I don’t know why: the words “sex starved” and “wife” came up and Christina Hendricks popped into my mind.

O.K. let’s just drop the whole thing and take a look at the book, shall we?

Mack was very excited to have this book come across his transom. About a year ago I actually interviewed Ms. Weiner-Davis, a sex therapist and author also of several other books including The Sex-Starved Marriage and Divorce Busting: A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again— and a woman so successful and busy I had to book an appointment with her secretary a week in advance just to talk with her for half an hour on the phone.

And she told me she was working on this book and we had a lovely chat.

Like her book, my article had to do with the unknown and largely unrepresented part of the married female population who gets sex less often than they want it.

The stereotype for some time has been: the Eveready husband constantly up for it, the wife neverendingly turning him down.

But Ms. Weiner and I discussed what is apparently a growing phenomenon: Women whose husbands are always saying: “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache.”

The causes of this problem are so many and varied it would be impossible for me to go into them in any kind of detail in this post (maybe next post we can run through a few of them, for those disinclined to shell out $28.99 for Ms. Weiner’s book). But allow me to say if this is your case, in interviewing her and reading her book, I find Ms. Weiner to be not only imbued with “expertise” (and really experts are as common as weeds these days, aren’t they?) but also what used to be called “good old-fashioned horse-sense” (much rarer) and that lends her books and all her advice an extra edge of usefulness, if I may be allowed to put it that way.

A lot of women out there aren’t getting enough from their husbandsand as anyone who has ever been married for more than, say, a year, knows, sex in a long-term relationship ebbs and flows. So how does one make sure the flow-periods outweigh the ebb-eras?

Ah, there’s the rub. Ms. Weiner-Davis adumbrates a number of possible causes and solutions, many of them very horse-sensical: For one, women should bear in mind that it is the same for men as it is for women: that for a man to feel sexual he has to feel sexy. In other words, in order to feel horny, he has to feel like he’s a pretty sexy and attractive guy.

Therefore, odd and counterintuitive as it may seem, in some cases if your husband isn’t seeming hot for you, the solution could be for him, not you, to hit the gym.

Pursuant to that well, I’ve been instructed by Ms. Daddy to cease and desist all references to our sex life in my writing, but I hope it’s vague enough if I say: If someone doesn’t seem as interested in someone, sexually, as he/she maybe did at first; then the best course of action is for that second someone to say, and show and demonstrate, for as long as it takes: I love you anyway; I want you anyway; I want you but I don’t need you; and on the day you come around, I’ll be here waiting and raring to go.

And you can actually turn it around! I’m forbidden from providing details, but ladies and gentlemen I want you to know that if you are in Ebb Territory, all is not lost. You can ride it out, so to speak. You can get back in the saddle, so to speak.

Even if (metaphorically) you’ve fallen off the horse and the horse seems to have galloped off into the distance, never to return.

Dust yourself off. Stand and wait, patiently, in your jodhpurs and riding crop. Sometimes, to your surprise, it is possible that the horse will come back. And you can hop back on and gallop off together into the sunset.

So to speak.

Good-bye my friend

Today we had to say good-bye to a long time soccer friend, Derek Bodenbender. As long as i have played soccer (a good 15 years) i have known the Bodenbender family, playing soccer with all four kids at some point and having the oldest Mr. B coach my women’s team. Mrs. B was ever present at games in the the rain, heat and cold. They are a family that is obviously full of love, compassion and humor. A unit that all people enjoyed being around. It is not surprising that they produced a very special son. Derek was the type of guy that always had time for everyone.

He made you feel special and always remembered what you had talked about. He never had a negative thing to say about anyone or anything. He never seemed to be bothered by the fact that i was bald, had dark swollen eyes or that my young son wanted to talk with him or play dinosaurs when Derek would sub off the field physically exhausted. Derek would always pass me the ball even though he knew it was very unlikely i would connect and finish the play. He always welcomed back noticing i had not made it to a game or two. He is very unselfish, always the team-player. Today we said celebrated an end to Derek’s earthly life and a beginning of his eternal life of the “everlasting soccer game in Heaven.” Our friend was a victim of an unfortunate shooting incident.

We just got home from the funeral and JE and Tait just returned from the reception. We feel close to God in this household and we often see events as signs from God. Tonight Derek sent us a sign… JE was putting Tait to bed as asked him to pick out two books to read. Now please remember that Tait has more books than i have hair on my head. (That is really a close race these days as my hair is filling in quite nicely) He made his choice and climbed into bed. JE looked at the book in wonder. Tait had picked out a book given to him from Derek and his wife, Cheryl. We had not seen that book in months yet on this night, of all nights, it stood out to Tait. Ok Derek, we got the message! Give our regards to the head coach in the sky. We saw the beautiful sunset that you designed for us tonight. Thank you. Until we meet again. We love you and miss your laugh and your smile.

Plant Sterols: Not So Good for the Heart

Phytosterols are naturally occurring compounds in plants that are found in a lot of vegetable oils, like corn or soybean. They’re used in plant cell membranes the same way cholesterol is used in animal cell membranes (like our own cells) to provide structure.

It wasn’t too long ago that it was discovered that phytosterols (also referred to as plant sterols or sometimes shortened to just sterols), when consumed, can impair the absorption of cholesterol from the gut, thereby lowering cholesterol in the bloodstream. Given the way cholesterol is viewed these days, this was immediately assumed to be a good thing.

Studies have shown plant sterols can reduce cholesterol in human subjects by 10 to 15 per cent. This, of course, caused a wave of new food products — like margarines, spreads and even breakfast cereals — enriched with phytosterols, marketed as health foods, to hit store shelves. (Nevermind the fact studies have shown those with the highest cholesterol levels actually live the longest — check out Uffe Ravnskov’s book “Ignore the Awkward” for more on that).

As Dr. Briffa points out: “The reality is the impact a drug or foodstuff has on cholesterol levels is quite irrelevant — it’s its impact on health that is important. This distinction is critically important: Arsenic and cyanide might reduce cholesterol levels, but that does not make them healthy things to consume.”

This is important to keep in mind with plant sterols. A new study in the British Journal of Nutrition assessed the affect plant sterols have on the cardiac cells of rats. Researchers found phytosterols replaced cholesterol (good and bad) in the cells and lead to a reduction in metabolic activity, thereby reducing cell growth. In other words, the cells were poisoned by the phytosterols.

The authors state the study, although no firm conclusions can be drawn from it, does raise concerns about the safety of long-term plant sterol consumption. And, indeed, other studies have indicated phytosterols are hard on the heart, arteries and blood-vessels. A 2009 meta-study published in the European Heart Journal reported, “Currently there are no data available indicating that functional foods supplemented with plant sterol esters reduce cardiovascular events,” and that “data suggests plant sterols potentially induce negative cardiovascular effects.”

Overall, phytosterols may do more damage to the heart and circulatory system than they actually help, so you may want to question whether that “heart-healthy” tub of margarine is worth it. My suggestion? Lay off the vegetable oils and stick with real butter.