Site URL: http://astro.uchicago.edu/home/web/~frisch/
Site URL: http://astro.uchicago.edu/home/web/frisch/
Chicago Public School Reform Movement of 1988 and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey
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I was actively involved in
interacting with parent, community, teacher, principal, and business groups in
our efforts to reform the Chicago Public School System (CPS) in 1988.
I helped write parts of the legislation which were
ultimately adopted. I was present in Speaker of the House Madigan's
office when the wrinkles of the legislation were ironed out,
and compromises made between the different groups who were
determined to see education offered by the CPS system improved.
Were we successful? Ten years later test scores are going up.
Academics, educational organizations, business groups, community groups, and politicians actively
support the need for good education in the CPS and other urban school
systems. I like to think we started the ball rolling and created an environment
which has refocussed public attention on the educational
needs of the kids. The post-reform CPS has allowed staff-development
organizations such as the Teachers Academy for Math and Science (see footnote (1) below)
to flourish, providing support
and professional enrichment for the classroom teachers who are the educators of our children.
Whenever I get around to writing this story down, it will be something you will not learn elsewhere.
The origin of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey collaboration between Fermilab and the University of
Chicago is an interesting sidebar of the school reform movement.
A Design Workshop (weekend retreat) to develop a proposal to form the 'Academy for Mathematics
and Science Teachers' (as it was then known) was held at Hickory Ridge Conference Centre in Lisle, IL, January 26--28, 1990. (I helped organize
this workshop as part of my activities as a founder of TAMS.) The workshop
was convened by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and was funded by the
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Research.
The workshop attendee list consisted of educators, scientists,
community members, employees of the Department of Energy,
and Dr. John Peoples (then Director of Fermi National Laboratory). At this retreat we formulated the initial
proposal, known as the "Urn Proposal", outlining the plans for the Teachers Academy for Math and Science (TAMS).
At the Sunday luncheon, John Peoples
mentioned that he was looking for new directions for Fermilab, and had
seed money for new projects in his Director's Discretionary Funds. I went home
and telephoned my colleague Prof. Don York (who was on sabbatial at Apache Point
Observatory that year), and told Don to phone John Peoples because
this would be an opportunity to get
an astrophysics project off of the ground at Fermilab. After a second (reminder) phone call from me, Don phoned
John. The collaboration between Fermilab and the University
of Chicago which resulted in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey was born from Don's phone call to John, which
in turn resulted from my networking at the Hickory Ridge retreat that
prepared the Teacher's Academy 'Urn Proposal'.
(1) Admiral Watkins, then the head of the Department of
Energy (DOE), asked Leon Lederman what the DOE could do for the Chicago Public
School System. Leon conveyed Watkins' request to my husband, knowing that my husband and I had been active in the
school reform movement. My husband came home and asked me what we should
tell Leon to tell Watkins. I responded that we needed a professional
staff development institute which would focus on developing the math
and science teaching skills of teachers. A meeting was then held between
educators, scientists and community leaders, and we settled on this concept
as the best response to Admiral Watkins' query. Loudes Monteagudo, the
current director of TAMS, was present at this meeting.
We had tried to get the State of
Illinois to fund such an institute as a part of the 1988 school
reform legislation, but the state balked at the idea of there being an additional
cost attached to the reform legislation. Under Leon's leadership, the
concept of the Teacher's Academy for Math and Science thus became
a reality. The State of Illinois now actively supports the need
for professional staff development in math and science for teachers.
To the extent allowed by its resources and funding, the Chicago Public School
system also actively supports this concept.
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Last Updated -- March 10, 1998,9/10/00