Education for all
Working with community leaders in North Kenwood, the University is establishing a new charter school at the St. James United Methodist Church. This fall, the school will open its doors to 115 students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first and fifth grades. By 2001, organizers plan to expand the school to 240 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The organizers are drawing on eight years of successful efforts by the U of C's Center for School Improvement to strengthen seven public elementary schools.
The new school will emphasize literacy instruction, the arts, and computer use, says Anthony Bryk, a U of C education professor and director of the Center for School Improvement.
As a professional-development center, Bryk adds, the charter school will "play a role in education like the teaching hospital plays in medical training." Master teachers at each grade level will work with visiting teachers to improve the visitors" skills in a residency-style program. In addition, U of C students will volunteer as tutors at the school.
Design of the century
The image of Robie House has graced the covers of art books, the fronts of postcards, and the pages of calendars. Now available at a post office near you: the Robie House stamp.
Featuring a painting of Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House with a young couple in period dress standing before it, the stamp debuted January 12 at a ceremony held, of course, in the house itself. As part of the U.S. Postal Serviceís Celebrate the Century program, the Robie House was one of 15 people, places, events, and trends chosen to represent the first decade of the 20th century in a commemorative booklet. Other stamps depict Ellis Island, W. E. B. Du Bois, the Model T, and a Gibson Girl.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Foundation, which has run the Robie House since February 1997, sponsored a related contest at Hyde Park schools to design a corresponding Robie House cancellation stamp. Three judges, including local alderman Toni Preckwinkle, AB'69, MAT'77, picked two top entries, one by Lab Schools student Anne Wildman, a third-grader, and another by fellow Labbie Walker Thisted, an eighth-grader. The special cancellation stamp can only be obtained by taking your mail to Robie House or sending it through the main Chicago post office.
The future of the faculty
At a November conference that asked "Does the Ph.D. Have a Future?", faculty from Rutgers University, the University of Illinois, and the U of C bemoaned the state of their profession: tenured positions giving way to part-time and adjunct labor, growing numbers of for-profit universities, and reductions in federal support for the humanities.
After a coolly analytical introduction, the conference, held at the U of C, warmed to a heated afternoon exchange between U of C Germanic studies chair Sander Gilman and U of I English professor Cary Nelson. Nelson, a longtime activist, offered a strident critique of the current academic quagmire, describing his graduate students as exploited by a system that underpays them for their teaching, then turns them loose in a market that does the same. The point is not whether jobs are available, said Nelson, but what sorts of jobs: ìA job that doesnít pay a living wage is a form of slavery," he argued. Pointing to the union-busting activities of Yale faculty members during a student strike there, Nelson berated some of his peers for having "disciplinary knowledge and broad cultural ignorance." He also criticized such organizations as the Modern Language Association for their lack of action.
Gilman, a past president of the MLA, appeared to have sympathy for Nelsonís position but derided his tactics. The target of past attacks by Nelson, Gilman countered: "Because [Nelson] has cast his view on these issues in a rhetoric that has been divisive and counterproductive, he has, over the last years, been poisoning the well." By the debateís end, the future looked bleak indeed.
-Jenny Adams, AM'94