A group of CPS high school students who participated in the Mikva Challenge this summer has come up with 30 recommendations to make CPS high schools better. Fifteen students tackled the project, which was sparked by CPS chief Ron Huberman. At one point, the students had 200 ideas. The Mikva Challenge is a nonprofit group that focuses on youth leadership.
The suggestions for Huberman fit in broad categories like graduation requirements, discipline, curriculum and social-emotional support. Number one on the list: Smaller classes, ideally with less than 20 students.
Other recommendations include:
- Require students to participate in an extracurricular activity or part-time job.
- Make students apply to college or vocational programs as seniors.
- Meet with students and parents over minor discipline issues rather than handing out suspensions.
- Provide teachers with more in-service training and require that they hold office hours outside class times.
- Offer sponsorships to companies that provide computers and other technology equipment for classrooms.
The students presented about a third of the recommendations to Huberman on Monday, and they have another meeting with him in two weeks.
“Ron Huberman liked all our ideas,” says Azairian Cartman, 16, a student at Dusable Charter High School. “He told us some of them would be easy to implement and some of them would be hard.”
One of the easy ones: The students called for Huberman to bring back the College Bridge program, which got axed last month after state funds were cut. Huberman already is working to bring back a revamped program that would serve several thousand students, says Brian Brady, the executive director of the Mikva Challenge.
“I think he felt like a lot of these recommendations were affirming things he was thinking and wanted to do,” Brady says.