McPherson- Greater Transparency Needed

April 12, 2012
McPherson School is in the oldest building in the neighborhood. It has a long history, going back to being a branch of Ravenswood School when that school was known as Sulzer School in the 19th Century. The building is beautiful inside and outside. The Friends of McPherson group has been working to protect the school and to build a new McPherson for the 21st Century. More money is due to flow to McPherson as Ald Ameya Pawar has targeted the school to receive infrastructural improvements. The LSC will be a key in disbursement of those millions. Did I say millions? Yes. Millions of dollars are coming to McPherson, according to sources who spoke to The Bulldog. That includes the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year that the LSC controls. Our biggest complaint about McPherson is there is a corporate culture apparent that wants secrecy. The price for those public dollars should be greater transparency at McPherson. Alone, of the LSCs examined by The Bulldog, McPherson has no records available to the public. It puts hurdles up to public access and it may be responsible, in part, for the decision by CPS to restrict public access to LSC election information. That culture of mistrust must change. McPherson apologists will reply that The Bulldog's confrontations imply nothing of the sort. Let's move on to exhibit three, the second exhibit being no LSC records. The response of McPherson teachers was too low to be reported by the Chicago Consortium. The direct result is that the public, the LSC, and Principal Carmen Mendoza lack an independent third-party evaluation of McPherson's strengths and weaknesses. We call on the new LSC to use its bully pulpit to demand changes:
  • LSC minutes, agendas and the membership must be clearly posted on the school website
  • The teachers should be encouraged to submit to the Chicago Consortium survey
  • A system that allows and encourages public participation, through the use of extensive Spanish for example, should be used at meetings of the LSC and Friends meetings.
We believe the culture of secrecy at McPherson is harming efforts at the school to involve parents. The School Performance Policy Report shows general weakness in several areas. But we are confident in the efforts of Mendoza. Pointing the way to change should be programs that emphasize student reading and also adult programs for the parents to have a better grasp of English.   Read the Illinois School Report Card for McPherson Read the CPS Performance Policy Report for McPherson Read the School Progress Report for en español w języku polskim in Chinese The No Child Left Behind (AYP) Report Read the McPherson SIPAA report Explore the Chicago Consortium/ University of Chicago/ Urban Education Institute report on McPherson Go to the McPherson School Web Site Go to the Friends of McPherson Web Site View the School North Attendance Area Map Read McPherson Coverage in The Bulldog:

Guest Post: Being an LSC Member- Mar 7, 2012

LSC Review Gets Bulldog in Conflict With Schools (long)- Mar 1, 2012

CPS to Restrict Access to LSC Election Records (short)- Mar 1, 2012


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3 Responses to McPherson- Greater Transparency Needed

  1. A Community Member on April 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    While your article does indeed make a wonderful recreational read, I would recommend that your next article include your disposition within school premises when conducting these affairs, such as making numerous (and distracting)commotions near classrooms when instruction is occurring, entering the building and demanding “answers” from random personnel you come across, and yelling an obscene alternative for fecal matter in front of 5th grade children because of a dropped cell phone. As a community member, strong supporter of McPherson School, and a proud parent, it is my belief that individuals who show civility will in turn receive it as such. This should also be applied as best practice when representing a press organization as prestigious as the Welles Park BullDog. It is difficult to establish the fidelity of these findings, as well as the integrity of the researcher, due to these observed methods of information retrieval. Please utilize this feedback as a measure to improve upon areas of interaction that can increase your effectiveness as a journalist in the future.

    • Patrick Boylan on April 14, 2012 at 9:29 am

      Thank you anonymous. Your comments are a wonderful ‘recreational’ read too.

      Most of your assertions are false. We allow anonymous comments due to the nature of this city, with plutocrats punishing citizens for demanding their rights. We’re glad to extend it to anonymous misinformed community members too.

      The Asst. Principal of McPherson was the first to try to pin these charges to us on the day we demanded the records of the school. First, he claimed we made a fuss when we were there previously.

      That would have been day one of the confrontation.

      As we noted to him we were sitting quietly waiting. We waited for at least 20 minutes on our first visit and left quickly when told we wouldn’t receive the records that day. He didn’t note our presence that day. That is despite his being in and out of the office a number of times. That is good proof we were not making a fuss and demanding attention. On the second day, after our discussion with the AP we found a quiet seat to wait, eventually moved to a place that wasn’t used at all by the children and waited.

      We waited nearly five hours.

      There were no ‘random’ personnel stopped in the hall. There were no numerous and distracting commotions near classrooms. Your information is simply wrong.

      We waited.

      If we had disrupted classes or the children I assume the school would have told us to leave. We found a place to sit down and wait and we wanted some privacy to make calls to our attorney and discuss the situation. You have poor information about what happened.

      It was important to remain within the envelope of civility for us to succeed.

      In part, that civility was saying that the school didn’t understand the law and we were not moving till they complied with the law. The law and the CPS policy were clear. Several media outlets, especially Austin Talks, have explained the how a sudden change in CPS policy is disrupting this election.

      Telling someone in power they are wrong is a confrontation. But it wasn’t loud. It definitely wasn’t physical. And no, they did not like it and they still disagree with us.

      The school claimed it wasn’t required to make the material available without an appointment. The person responsible for making the appointment had duties that were considered more important. No one was deputized to deal with this issue in her absence. Waiting seemed like a passive way of getting the material.

      Two days later CPS changed its policy to prevent anyone from obtaining the records under any circumstance. That was a change in policy.

      While in the building we dropped a camera and it broke. We used an unfortunate expletive. We apologized to anyone within earshot. It was one child, we were later told, not a classroom. It wasn’t yelled. It was uttered. Are you trying to rewrite the incident to score points?

      Here is some feedback to you. Take what you hear with a grain of salt. Out of all the schools, McPherson stands out for its secret culture. It is the only school to have never submitted the materials needed to make up the DocumentCloud site. That should say more than the lunchroom hearsay you apparently are willing to regurgitate. The teachers had a low response rate to the Chicago Consortium survey. And there was this incident, which lasted over several days.

      The common theme is secrecy, protecting something, from the ‘outsiders.’

      Further, we do not apologize for our civil disobedience. This was a well thought out and well planned campaign to inform the public.

  2. […] The McPherson School building is an old Illinois building  with an incredibly rich history. The building will be on the receiving end of a million dollar infrastructure improvement project. The funds will be dispersed by the Illinois Local School Council (LSC).  According to Patrick Boylan, “Our biggest complaint about McPherson is there is a corporate culture apparent that wants secrecy.” He maintains, “The price for those public dollars should be greater transparency at McPherson. Alone, of the LSCs examined by The Bulldog, McPherson has no records available to the public. It puts hurdles up to public access and it may be responsible, in part, for the decision by CPS to restrict public access to LSC election information. That culture of mistrust must change.” He calls on the Local School Council to make their process more transparent by disclosing meeting minutes and agendas online and making meetings more inclusive to the public. For his take, check out his post on the Wells Park Bulldog.  […]