Taft HS planning for all juniors to take IB English composition, which could lead to college credit
by BRIAN NADIG
Over the next few years Taft High School plans to implement a curriculum change that will require all juniors to take an International Baccalaureate English composition course.
The requirement is an extension of the school’s wall-to-wall IB curriculum, which stresses critical thinking in a global context, Taft principal Mark Grishaber said. He announced the new class requirement at the May 10 meeting of the Taft Local School Council.
“We’re making them eat their educational vegetables,” Grishaber said, adding that the students are up to the challenge of this magnet-level course. Currently the class is offered to upperclass students in the school’s IB diploma program, which requires a special admissions process.
“It will take a few years (to implement the change for all juniors),” Girshaber said after the meeting. “We need to train the teachers first. You need to have IB training in order to teach IB diploma classes and that takes time and money.”
At the end of the course the juniors will take take an IB exam in which they can earn college credit.
The cost for the exams could be about $30,000 to $40,000 a year, and the school is raising the annual instructional student fee from $450 to $495 in part to help cover the expense.
“We have not raised (the fee) in five years,” Grishaber told the LSC. “(The increase) comes down to $1.25 every week.”
It also was reported at meeting that the LSC may take a vote on whether Taft should retain its school resource officers at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at the Taft Freshman Academy, 4071 N. Oak Park Ave.
The Chicago Public Schools asks councils to approve an annual safety plan, which should indicate if the school wants on-campus police officers for the upcoming school year. Currently Taft has officers assigned to its freshman and varsity campuses.
Also at the May 10 meeting, a freshman parent said that the school needs to do a better job of addressing disciplinary issues, including fights that are being posted on social media and acts of disrespect toward teachers in classrooms.
Grishaber said that the school is aware of the problems but that with social media and cell phones, students “can be three steps ahead of us,” explaining that a video of a fight can pop up on phones within seconds of it occurring. These problems are at schools across the country, he said.
Girshaber said that “98 percent of our kids are wonderful kids” but that some students are dealing with social-emotional development issues that can lead to behavioral problems and that school is working with these students.
Students play a role in helping to keep Taft safe, Grishaber said. “We ask kids when they see something, say something,” he said.