Few random things… Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On
Couple random things to post about shake-ups happening. I need to read more about more of these topics to make coherent comments. I *feel* like it’s ok for changes to be made if they’re for the better, but how much “experimenting” can we keep doing? Is it really all so trial and error?
MESSAGE BOARD (from me) And yes, this *will* be trial and error.
I’m on the verge of having a message board to launch (with the help of a reader/parent who has generously paid for and is programming the board. Yay!) I’m not sure if it will catch on, but I think the city needs one central education message board to help people share questions and mobilize for so many things. I’d like to keep the blog going as a place to focus on one topic at a time where we can all come together to discuss. I know I would really miss this ongoing discussion/debate we have here. But as you all know, it’s increasingly difficult to find previous posts, even for me. I’ll probably need some help and suggestions on how to best organize the different topics. People will be able to start their own threads, which will be great. The one downside (or upside) is that anyone will need to register to post on it. So hopefully that’ll be up soon.
I’ve got a couple things from Seth Lavin’s awesome Chicago Schools Wonks email newsletter. To subscribe click here: http://bit.ly/uvk1dy. These shakeup rumors are interesting because they come on the back of Seth’s report that CICS is parting ways with one of the education companies who they employ to teach in some of their schools. So there’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on.
SHAKE-UP RUMORS (by Seth)
When does staff change become a shake-up? Brizard entered as CPS’ new leader a little under a year ago. Here’s the original org chart for his leadership team, showing his eight direct reports (click, then scroll down).
Just nine months later two of the people brought in for those roles are already out. There’ve been intense rumors lately that more will soon be—or already are—gone. So what’s the shake-up threshold? Is 2 of 8 a shake-up? 3 of 8? Half? What would crossing that line say about the success of our new mayor on schools? And as internal confidence in CPS leadership plummets what are the rest of us supposed to think and feel?
I see all this as an acknowledgment from Team Rahm that they’ve messed some things up on schools and are attempting to hit the reset button. That could end up being a really good thing. If they replace the original folks with the right new team there’s still plenty of time to create long-term school improvement wins for Rahm and for kids. My prediction (as it has been) is that Donoso ultimately goes. Brizard stays, but only because it’d be too public an admission of defeat for Rahm to switch him out. Look for Robert Boik, new CPS Chief of Staff, to fill some of the leadership vacuum. Anyone have a better sense of what’s happened/going to happen?
$130M MORE FOR PRINCIPALS’ DISCRETION (from Seth)
There are a couple things you’re supposed to do if you’re running a reform school district these days. For a moment let’s put aside portfolio realignment (closings, turnarounds, charter expansions). You’re supposed to push common core adoption, increase rigor of student tests and increase availability/importance of accompanying student achievement data. Create clear student achievement metrics and make that data a big part of how you evaluate instructors and schools. Meanwhile, give principals and teachers as much autonomy as possible in hitting those achievement goals. Throw resources at whoever’s generating student achievement, according to the data; get rid of whoever isn’t.
Whatever their problems current CPS leadership has been consistent in promising more principal autonomy and more central office money redirected to schools. They announced this week they’re pushing $130M in new money into principals’ discretionary funds—about $250K more on average for each school.
The big wonky issue here isn’t how much money’s being spent in schools. It’s who’s deciding how money’s being spent in schools. Does district central office decide? Or do those decisions get made at the school level? Currently principals get a certain amount of discretionary money and a lot of money that comes pre-earmarked by CPS for spending on certain teachers, textbooks, staff and programming. Practically, increased principal autonomy means less earmarked money and more discretionary money.
CPS says $50M of the $130M is existing central office spending (earmarked money) that’ll now be discretionary. The rest comes form $100M in unidentified central office cuts. Plenty of people are skeptical, particularly about those ambiguous cuts.
Sarah Karp’s Catalyst story has the best detail on what this all means.
NEW PRINCIPALS – where will they come from?
From a reader:
I am concerned because there aren’t enough potential candidates on the eligibility list to fill all the vacancies. Sadly, the principal at my children’s school is retiring and I heard the estimate puts the number at 140. There will be a lot of instability in our entire school system. The Chief Ed Officer (Donoso) is resigning and she makes the 4th resignation at central office of key employees. We may be looking at an unfunded longer day and a teacher’s strike. Elementary principal’s don’t have their budgets and it looks like from the story above that the principals don’t get to decide the start/end times for the schools and CPS will TELL them when the start/edn times will be. They are calling this “Chaos on Clark Street” and it sure looks like it!!!
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