April 18, 2011 at 10:12 pm 134 comments

Rahm has chosen a new leader of CEO who may make some noticeable changes in the near future, notably based on his likely clashes with the teachers’ union and his supposed support of charter schools. 

Some excerpts from the Tribune:

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel pushed ahead with his pledge to reshape Chicago Public Schools on Monday, introducing an executive team led by a reformer from Rochester, N.Y., who has been unafraid to mix it up with teachers unions and parents.

Jean-Claude Brizard’s appointment as the new CEO of CPS sets up a potentially explosive showdown with the Chicago Teachers Union, which openly opposes many of the measures Brizard has endorsed, such as expanding charter schools and linking teacher pay with performance. In February, the Rochester Teachers Association gave Brizard a vote of no-confidence.

Brizard “is not afraid of tough choices, and that is what Chicago’s students need today,” said Emanuel, who has pledged longer school days and more accountability from teachers.

But the Chicago Teachers Union, whose contract expires next year, is poised for battle. “We get it. I’m going to buy some boxing gloves now,” said union President Karen Lewis. “But did I think Rahm Emanuel was going to put some reasonable people in place? Of course not.”

During his three years as superintendent in Rochester, Brizard, 47, “has made politically difficult decisions in order to put the students of Rochester first,” Emanuel said.

A former high school physics teacher, Brizard worked for New York City‘s Department of Education for more than 20 years before taking a job as regional superintendent and then superintendent of schools in Rochester.

With both classroom and administrative experience, Brizard is seen as a departure from the business-minded approach of former CPS chief Ron Huberman and more of a reformer in the mold of former CPS boss Arne Duncan, now the U.S. secretary of education.

In his resignation letter to Rochester’s school board, Brizard touted what he said were his achievements while atop the 32,000-student district: Raising the graduation rate to 51 percent from 39 percent in three years; more than doubling the number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes; streamlining the district’s curriculum; decreasing suspensions by two-thirds since 2006; carving $51 million out of the budget through more efficient business practices; and launching a 10-year, $1.2 billion school modernization initiative.  But Rochester, like Chicago, also is facing tough decisions amid mounting debt. The school district budget Brizard laid out this month included about $80 million in cuts, 1,000 layoffs and the loss of many popular school programs.

Brizard’s short tenure in Rochester also was marked by frequent battles with the local teachers union over policies such as removing teachers from classrooms over allegations of insubordination, and by insisting that teacher pay be tied to test scores and supervisor evaluations, said Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association.  “I am disappointed that his tenure here was so turbulent,” Urbanski said. “I would have preferred a much more collaborative relationship. He essentially seemed to communicate that the main problem to be fixed is bad teachers.”  Urbanski said he hopes Brizard has learned from his quarrels in Rochester.  “I was hoping he has at least learned that you can’t (make district changes) over the opposition of teachers, you can only do it with them,” Urbanski said. “That we’re all in the same boat.”

Emanuel said Brizard already has helped shape the mayor-elect’s appointments of the district’s new top administrators and seven new members of the Board of Education.  The team includes new Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso, who comes to Chicago after overseeing the development of charter schools and innovation at the Denver Public Schools, and Chief Operating Officer Tim Cawley, who helped lead that city’s turnaround school initiative as part of the Academy for Urban School Leadership.

Locally, education officials said Emanuel sent a direct message.  “Chicago is being put on notice,” said Barbara Radner, director of DePaul University‘s Center for Urban Education. “This is a team that is coming in knowing what to do and how to do it. This is not a team that needs several months trying to figure things out. They’ll be ready to roll.”

Jon Schnur, co-founder of the New York-based school reform group New Leaders for New Schools, called Emanuel’s education team “world-class” and said Brizard’s appeal was easy to figure out.  “He’s one of the best urban school superintendents in the country. No questions,” Schnur said.

Brizard, the father of two children, immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, where, Emanuel said, his parents fled to “escape political persecution.” Brizard is the son of a teacher and principal, a fact that drove his decision to go into the profession, Emanuel said.


Ok, I have to say that I love this quote from the head of the Chicago teachers’ union:  “I expect this to be extraordinarily difficult,” Lewis said. “I’m looking not just at Brizard but at this whole new Board (of Education), and to me, it’s a nightmare on so many different levels. This is going to be a hot, buttery mess.”

A HOT BUTTERY MESS? Can’t wait to see how that unfolds….  I have no idea what that mean, but I have a feeling it’s going to be true.  This guy ithe nice smile and friendly-looking face sounds like a real shaker-upper, who will have the support of the Mayor to make things happen.   Interesting times.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Can Rahm make the longer school day happen? Speak out against school budget cuts

134 Comments Add your own

  • 1. goingtogermany0693  |  April 18, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Guess we’ll have to wait and see. I think that when people who are working in the best interest of children WORK TOGETHER instead of against each other, progress can be made. I just hope that the gap of the haves and have-nots of CPS schools does not grow wider as a result of new leadership.
    Maybe she likes to make food analogies.

  • 2. Chicago Gawker-  |  April 18, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Tying teacher evaluations to test scores is what bothers me.
    This doesn’t seem very innovative. As we all know, teachers have to work within a system that often doesn’t support them and with kids from homes who don’t support learning. They shouldn’t be the sacrificial lambs for all society’s ills. Get rid of insubordinate teachers? Heck yes, but get rid of the incompetent principals who make unreasonable demands 1st. Start with principals, not teachers.

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  April 18, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Chicago education reform group, PURE, is not as excited about Brizard (to say the least.)

    I can’t tell what their key objection is about him, but it seems like they supported Mazany and don’t like the anti-union, pro-charter stance that Brizard took in Rochester, NY.

    They say: Let’s not pretend that this choice is a surprise. Rahm was not about to appoint someone of the caliber, thoughtfulness, and professionalism of a Terry Mazany, the current Interim CEO, a Dr. Victoria Chou, Dean of Education at UIC, or a Dr. Carol Lee, education professor at Northwestern.
    No, he was going to do what he did – bring in someone whose policies and practices are in line with Rahm’s already-stated education aims – breaking the union, increasing charter schools, and using parents as a cover for both.

  • 4. Somos americanos  |  April 19, 2011 at 1:13 am

    This does not look good. Here’s select headlines from PURE:


    RCSD Board to Question Brizard’s Raise
    Brizard Hires $100,000-a-Year, Part-Time Special Assistant
    RCSD’s Central Kitchen Cited by Health Inspectors
    RCSD Spent Thousands on Restaurants, Catering
    Principals Told to Cut Art, Music, Phys Ed


    Brizard Created Cabinet Positions Without Board Approval
    RCSD Cabinet Spending at Record Levels
    Brizard Said He Didn’t Give Raises to Top Staff, but He Did
    State Test Scores Plummet, Erasing Gains
    Brizard Spinning Graduation Data
    Former Superintendent Blasts Brizard’s Interpretation of Grad Rate Data
    EEOC Finds Brizard Discriminated Against Official


    Staff Survey Finds Little Support for Brizard
    Fact-Checking Brizard on Cabinet Spending
    State: Only 5% of RCSD Grads Ready for College
    RCSD Budget Deeply Cuts Arts, Music, Foreign Language

    Visit to learn more.

  • 5. mom2  |  April 19, 2011 at 6:57 am

    I sure hope all those headlines are slanted in some way and that there is another side to all those stories. Rham is smart and I cannot believe that he didn’t also see all of this side of our new CEO’s past and looked further and saw something different. It is frustrating for the teacher’s union to start off negative before we even get started. It is funny, I love, trust and respect nearly all of my kids teachers (with a few big exceptions). They are amazing! And I certainly understand being concerned about tying salaries to test scores given much of the CPS student body and their background/home life. But I feel so much frustration with the teacher’s union – always complaining, always pointing out the negatives, always blaming others, saying we can’t do this, we can’t do that. I just don’t see teachers and the union as one in the same.

  • 6. Coonley Mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Well said Mom2. I do not know enough yet about Brizard, but how embarrassing that this is the beginning of the Union’s dialogue? I just don’t get it, and what kind of example is this for our children?

  • 7. prof.gfr  |  April 19, 2011 at 8:38 am

    I understand that, as parents, our collective sense of the Chicago Teacher’s Union has been a mixture of frustration and outright hostility. But I was at the IL Raise Your Hands meeting at Waters re: the modified open campus issue and was really impressed with the CTU representative’s position. The VP of the CTU gave his really solid, honest, albeit qualified support of the initiative to increase the recess/lunch period by 45 min. His qualifications were very reasonable and stemmed from the need to implement this on a school by school basis and to be sensitive of teachers’ workload. He is a parent of CPS kids and it shows. He promised that the new leadership in CTU wanted to work with parents and it sounded really genuine. I only hope this new CEO is similarly willing to work with the interests of all parties, starting with students then teachers then parents and finally staff/admin at CPS. I also hope the CTU VP can moderate CTU President Lewis’ “hot buttery mess” allegations, which don’t seem to be representing the CTU in the most flattering light.

  • 8. Hawthorne mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I think time will tell how the new CEO will do. But, I for one, am at least grateful that the man has spent time in the classroom. That alone is a massive improvement over the past few CEO’s.

  • 9. MarketingMom  |  April 19, 2011 at 9:38 am

    The CTU president has always complained that they wanted an educator as well as a business manager in this role. Now they’ve got it and she is still complaining. Her personality comes across as combative and non-productove. Let’s give the guy a chance. Yes, CPS needs to be shaken up for the better by an outsider. I am interested to see what positive changes will happen for our children.

  • 10. macK  |  April 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

    prof.gfr@7: Why the assumption that parents feel hostility and frustration with the teachers’ union? I don’t always agree with the union, but sometime I do. Even when I don’t agree, I understand why the union takes the position it does. Its job is to fight for its membership.

    If it weren’t for the union, I’m sure CPS would be cramming a whole lot more kids in a classroom, like they tried to last year. There would be little or no teacher development. A strong union fights for good wages, which attracts good teachers to our schools.

    While I am in favor of some sort of pay for performance system, I understand the concerns of teachers in low performing schools. Of course, there are ways to address their concerns but the debate never seems to get beyond the opening salvos.

    The tension between CPS and the union actually works to the benefit of the students and parents many times. If you think an unfettered CPS is going to do us any favors, think again.

  • 11. At least he's nice to look at!  |  April 19, 2011 at 10:00 am

    He’s a cutie!

  • 12. cps Mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 10:02 am

    @5 mom2 – I totally agree. I don’t think that teachers pay should be directly tied to test scores (although gee – the kids are sure pressured by those test scores) but I do think there needs to be some kind of measurable way to evaluate teachers. Their profession is an art and difficult to quantify. But like every other profession, results say everything.

    I have to say that I am very interested in seeing change. It’s a shame that the only way to do it is to get around unions.

  • 13. anon mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 10:06 am

    JC has more baggage than Samsonite. An EEOC suit for gender/age discrimination. A 5% college-readiness rate. A 46% (NOT 51%) graduation rate. A wife with a financial interest in charter school expansion.

    Mayoral control and the appointed school board allow for the selection of CEOs (not Superintendents) with aggressive, top-down, dictatorial styles. It’s no wonder the CTU comes out swinging–his record speaks for itself.

    My husband is an award-winning CPS teacher who is now looking for a job in the burbs. Better pay. Better resources. More respect. The CPS baloney–including the constant fear your position will be eliminated suddenly, or your school “turned around” as a means to get rid of seasoned (read:expensive) teachers–negates the satisfaction of teaching and helping kids learn.

    The CEO sets the tone for leadership, and Rahm has spoken loundly with his choice. It’s more of the same at the CPS, and teacher should just shut up, take it, and be happy they have a job.

  • 14. At least he's nice to look at!  |  April 19, 2011 at 10:10 am

    @anon mom – I’ve got several suburban school teacher friends

    – they are NOT respected at their jobs
    – two of them regularly get urinary tract infections because they have no time to pee
    – rampant age discrimination

    Best of luck to your hubby, maybe as a male in the suburbs he’ll fare better.

  • 15. Anonymous  |  April 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

    We have been the recipients of a well-orchestrated pr campaign bashing teachers, and their unions, for more than a year now. Wisconsin doesn’t buy it. We shouldn’t either. Rahm quickly and quietly accomplished 80% of what Gov. Walker did — with a powerful PAC and next-to-no news coverage of the legislation just passed in Springfield. (Coverage by Catalyst’s Jim Broadway, was good.) He will accomplish the rest soon enough.

  • 16. Mom2  |  April 19, 2011 at 11:19 am

    As a parent, I am sure that there are many things that teachers want that I also want – smaller class sizes, less time doing standardized testing and/or teaching for the test, more help in the classroom when there are students with learning disabilities or behavior issues, principals that care about the success of each of their students and their teachers and are very aware of what is happening at their school and work to make changes when necessary, time for everyone to have bathroom breaks, time to eat lunch without gulping down food, art, gym, music, technology, recess, happy students, involved and happy parents, happy teachers, etc. etc.
    Just like teachers, I don’t want corruption at the top, money being used for unimportant administrative people or trips or new office furniture, fancy parties, etc. etc.
    However, it is frustrating to hear teachers ask for more money for everything or even for nothing more when I and many friends haven’t had a raise in many years, and we have had to work longer hours and take on additional responsibilities just to keep our jobs. This is a fact right now and somehow CTU has made people feel that they don’t believe this is a fact or somehow the way things are in the rest of the country just don’t apply to them. Even if this pay raise or other benefits was part of an agreement in the past, if we all really want these other things, shouldn’t some of this be allowed to be renegotiated (along with getting rid of corruption, administrative jobs that are not necessary or could be combined, etc.)? That is where I think the CTU is doing a poor job in the PR department.

  • 17. At least he's nice to look at!  |  April 19, 2011 at 11:24 am

    @Mom2 – so well said!

    ” … it is frustrating to hear teachers ask for more money for everything or even for nothing more when I and many friends haven’t had a raise in many years, and we have had to work longer hours and take on additional responsibilities just to keep our jobs.

  • 18. mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

    IMO anything PURE is against must be okay. The teachers at our neighborhood school came in and VOLUNTARILY taught for several months before the ISATs. Tutoring was either before or after school. It was like having an additional math class everyday. they did reading too. My daughter had been struggling in math and now really likes it and is doing well. Was the intent to improve the ISAT scores–yes–but the byproduct is my daughter now likes and understands math because of her great teacher.

  • 19. Mayfair Dad  |  April 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    “Hot buttered mess” does not bode well for establishing a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect between CPS and CTU. At least Karen Lewis could have waited to meet with the guy before publicly dissing him.

    Mr. Brizard should present Ms. Lewis with a bucket of hot buttered popcorn at their first sit-down. Maybe that would soften the old battle-axe up.

  • 20. anon mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    C’mon–“hot, buttered mess” is an awesome sound bite!

    The city deliberately established a long-term contract to ensure labor stability during the ill-fated Olympics bid. For many years, Chicago teacher salaries have risen at a rate lower than that of the private sector. During the boom economy, no-one was pressuring the union to open the contract an re-negotiate. Now that private-sector wages have stagnated, the cry is “it’s not fair! I haven’t had a raise–they shouldn’t get one either!”

    When your raise was 7%, the teachers’ was still 4%.

    I’m in the private sector, in a troubled industry. Frankly, it’s the only way we can afford to have my husband teach. I am currently doing the job of 2 people and have since the beginning of the year. Yes, it sucks. But I know that when the economy picks up, and my organization stabilizes, there will be a reward. Promotions. Bonuses. Profit sharing. None of these things–NONE–is available to a teacher.

    I’m going to sound like a nutty lefty when I say this (but I’m Madison born and bred, so there’s a good reason), but how has it happened our employers have exploited us–to the point that we’re grateful to have a job–and we resent and attack anyone who has some protection against that same level of exploitation?

    CPS leadership has not acted in a trustworthy manner, and they wisely backed down from breaking the contract last summer. The CTU would have been foolhardy to open it for negotiations.

  • 21. CPSmama  |  April 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    #20- you had me until your 5th paragraph-” but how has it happened our employers have exploited us–to the point that we’re grateful to have a job–and we resent and attack anyone who has some protection against that same level of exploitation”

    Over the course of 4 + decades, I’ve been both an employee and an employer. I have never felt “exploited” by any of my employers- even those where I was a minimum wage earner as a teenager. perhaps that is because I’ve always been a competetn & ethical hard-working employee. And, I was always grateful to have a job. The alternative is certainly a lot less desirable.

    As an employer, I certainly hope that my employees don’t feel like I explot them. My expectations are: come to work, be on time, do your work competently, and be respectful to boss, co-workers & clients. I don’t think that is asking too much. Anyone who doesn’t want to do those things shouldn’t have a job-public or private sector.

    As for private sector employees being rewarded when the economy picks up- don’t forget that you can be fired for not doing your job. Union employees, in many cases, can keep their jobs forever while being completely incompetent (not just teachers, BTW)

    You may be able to surmise that I’m not super-sympathetic to the plight of the Wisconsin public unions or the CTU. I am not anti-union per se, but I think unions are less necessary than they once were. There are plenty of laws & governmental agencies that protect non-union employees these days-sometimes better than the union contracts do.

  • 22. Mom2  |  April 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    #20 – I respectfully disagree with your assumptions. When do/did people get 7% raises or promotions? Some lucky people on occasion, but not most people in the private sector even during good times in the economy. You said, “But I know that when the economy picks up, and my organization stabilizes, there will be a reward. Promotions. Bonuses. Profit sharing. ” I DON’T know that and don’t expect that. That would be nice, but not known. Maybe the people I know just work for bad companies, but for those of us that do, hearing CTU say that want more more more in terms of money and benefits without any willingness to ask for a bit less is a bit frustrating.

  • 23. CoonleyMom  |  April 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    “When your raise was 7%. the teachers’ was still 4%.” I worked in non profit for over 10 years and I never got a raise of more than 3%, even as the Executive Director. I am not saying some don’t get more, but it is not just teachers that have small raises. Many people in many professions have not seen raises in a very long time.

  • 24. Coonleymom  |  April 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Just a quick comment and I do not mean to insult or upset anyone b/c I am kind of talking out loud here. My frustration with discussing unions (I realize this is very general) is that I feel when I disagree with something, or ask questions, some people assume you must be anti-union simply for saying something. Almost like it has to be extremes, you either love/hate unions. This is not the case at all for me, but I do have some issues and concerns. I already feel better just getting that out! That is why I love this blog.

  • 25. waitingmom  |  April 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I am a mom of 4 kids in CPS and a wife of a CPS teacher. Go ahead and do merit pay for him – he works at one of the top HS in the state – but what about the hard working teachers who work in a struggling high school? That is not fair. And to all of the people that think teachers work only 6 hrs a day….WRONG. My husband puts in hours before school, after school, evenings, weekends and gasp…even summer. My husband will gladly work longer days in the classroom, but wants to be paid for them. Please tell me how that is wrong? Rahm wants them to work 14% more of a workday and pay then 4% for it….don’t think so. All the people that think anyone can do a teachers job, I dare you to go work a day in his shoes – the kids would eat most people alive! Just ask subs even in the best CPS schools how much fun their job is.

  • 26. Mayfair Dad  |  April 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    @ 20. Yes, Ms. Lewis has a way with words. I realize her public bluster plays well with her union rank and file; I trust her private conversations with CPS leadership are more thoughtful and measured.

    I am – what is the right word? – uncomfortable with the political influence public employee unions enjoy in this state and have a natural distrust for any union whose members receive a paycheck from my tax dollars. That being said, it is wrong to villify teachers, firemen, policemen, garbagemen and other hard-working civil servants for the criminal mismanagement of state resources by the bozos in Springfield.

    I don’t think you improve schools by continuing to hit teachers with a stick, and I’m afraid that’s what this new guy is all about. I hope I’m wrong about him. The majority of teachers I know are caring, devoted, passionate educators who are a credit to their profession. It should be a lot easier to get rid of bad teachers — and bad principals. Too much dead weight at central office left over from Huberman days.

    I wonder if Rahm ever seriously considered offering Terry Mazany the top job permanently? He seems to “get it.”

  • 27. cps Mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Agreed, people should be paid their worth in any profession. There are many factors that don’t allow that including recessions and deficits.

    I wonder if it helps or hinders a profession to have the same working rights as grocery clerks, factory workers, plumbers/electricians/carpenters (and only the ones who get city contracts) – no offense to hardworking labor. It seems like there is so much more to teaching than negotiating hours and benefits for pay. City, county and state professionals – engineers, architects, lawyers – are hired and paid as such.

    I would be more interested in seeing teachers treated, employed and paid as professionals. There are differences in the quality of individual teachers and also ways to evaluate them outside of ISAT testing. An annual evaluation of strengths and weaknesses according to the necessary job requirements, along with pay recommendations on an individual basis – like any other profession – makes more sense to me.
    I hope we will see education moving in this direction now.

  • 28. mom2  |  April 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    @25 – I really don’t think anyone on this blog thinks that teachers only work 6 hours a day. I know I don’t. Just like many other professions and professionals, teachers work until the job gets done. One of the discussions is whether they should get paid more like hourly workers (for every minute they work) or more like professionals (one salary that covers however many hours it takes). Since that is what they are already doing, it is odd when CTU is focusing on teachers needing to get paid for extra hours – more like hourly workers.

    Mayfair Dad, I agree with your thoughts on Terry Mazany. He did seem to get it.

  • 29. dette  |  April 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    as a first time parent of a kindergartner this fall, I hope this new CEO will succeed for our children’s sakes. As far as the merit based pay I feel ambivalent. For one thing, teachers cannot be held soley accountable for a child’s learning. Some of it is of course natural inclination, and the bulk of it has to do with parents level of involvement with their childs learning. You could have the best teacher but if a child isnt getting additional reinforcement at home, that great teachers efforts may be nullified. parents cant just send kids to school and think a teacher-a stranger-will do the job that is meant for them as parents. Parents are the first teachers and the last. Just as well, you could have a horrible teacher but if the parents are emphasizing education at home, some of that can be made up for. My point is that lets not give teachers so much power in our childrens education, it is ultimately our parental duty and we are also accountable. No matter how great my childs school is, I dont trust any teacher to do the job of teaching my child, only myself.

  • 30. dette  |  April 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    oh, by the way, Brizard is a fellow haitian like myself. haitians, like so many immigrants especially, value education deeply and tend to be very strict, no nonsense. His approach may seem callous to many but if it works, great. It may come at the expense of some but perhaps it is for the best.

  • 31. prof.gfr  |  April 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    @10: my comment in post#7 was certainly not meant to vilify the CTU or teachers. Like #26 Mayfair Dad, I certainly don’t want to vilify teachers or other public sector employees en masse. I was merely trying to explain how I’d heard largely negative things about CTU from other parents and in the local media prior to getting more deeply engaged with the CPS system. But I’ve since gotten to hear VP Jesse Sharkey speak publicly and was very impressed with his stated commitment to working *with* parents. So my views are definitely modifying based on good experiences that are trumping heresay. That said, I think parents do need to hold CTU accountable for their claim to work *with parents* rather than against parents. Likewise, the teachers deserve our respect for all their hard work.

    My hope is that the new CEO is willing to work with all these parties in an egalitarian fashion but both his background and Lewis’ retort seem like a rocky start. Let’s hope it improves! Also like Mayfair Dad, I tend to agree that a huge part of the problem is the low priority given to funding education at the state level. I think there’s something like $290 million in past due payments that the state still owes the schools!

  • 32. friend  |  April 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Dette, a very very close friend of mine was haitian and you described her exactly!

  • 33. Chicago mom of 3  |  April 19, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Fact: CPS teachers get a raise of 4% per year, in addition to a 4 – 5% raise on their anniversary for the first 15 years. Another 6% raise is awarded if they get a master’s degree, and so on and so on. Beginning teachers start out with a meager wage, but 15 year vets with advanced degrees can earn almost 100k for 9 months work. For that kind of money we should demand and expect more.

    I don’t begrudge the teachers their money – it is a difficult job. However I think that the union should work harder to come up with intelligent solutions instead of sound bites.

    Teacher’s 38 week salary schedule can be found here:

  • 34. cpsobsessed  |  April 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I would take the PURE headlines with a grain of salt. I think there are 2 sides to every story and I don’t see anything about how this guy messed up the schools in any way.
    Based on my viewing of Waiting for Superman last week, I realize now that there are 2 camps of school administrators. There are people like (I think?) Terry Mazany who seem to want to find a way to make the current system work (thus his desire to really figure out if charter schools are working before plowing forth with new ones.)
    Then there are The Reformers who want to make changes fast. That’s what MIchelle Rhee was in DC. Man, she had a brash style that I’m sure pissed people off. I certainly comes across as more of a “top down” style of management.
    So the new CEO is blatnatly labeled as A Reformer.

    So it begs the question: which type is better for CPS? Who knows? Part of me thinks we DO need someone to shake things up, as in many schools they can’t get much worse. But I can see where it’s annoying to have someone come in an demand quick changes that haven’t been proven yet.

    I think my hope is that he’ll keep what’s working and perhaps try some “reform” in areas that are blatantly failing. But clearly he’s gonna piss off people along the way. Closing schools, opening charters, firing principals. We KNOW people will be mad. I’m kind of interested to see what happens.

  • 35. Hawthorne mom  |  April 19, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I am a teacher (not currently working, but hoping to return) and I feel like our union leadership is, at best, totally embarrassing. Lewis is ridiculous. She sounds, I am sorry, but stupid. I wish we had someone leading things that could at least sound intelligent.

    The union, however, did come up with intelligent solutions recently, when we agreed to eliminate the “last hired, first fired” policy, when we agreed to a likely change to the school day adding on 45 minutes to include recess and add instructional time and when we agree to tie teacher pay to student performance. (I have concerns about tying pay to test scores, but performance can be measure in many ways, and it would only be one small part of an overall rating of teachers).

    It has actually been shown through intensive research that getting a master’s degree or a Ph.D. doesn’t improve one’s instruction. I am hopeful we will move away from awarding raises for these kinds of things and move towards raises for mentoring new teachers (and not the typical CPS mentoring program which totally sucks), for participating in intensive study groups with other teachers examining practice, observing each other teach, etc….

    I do take issue with the implication that 100K is a lot of money for “9 months of work”. One, 50% of teachers leave the field after 3 years because it is such a draining, demanding and incredibly difficult job. Two, teachers only get that money if they can survive in the system 15 years or more and have a masters plus 45 credits or a Ph.D. Most professional jobs (ie, doctors, lawyers, researchers, etc….) make much, much more than that and they don’t have to put several thousand dollars a year into their own classrooms. (this is a HUGE pet peeve for me and I think the union should be talking about this!!!!)

    Yes, we should expect more from teachers, starting with increasing the GPA needed to enter teacher education programs.(currently, most teacher candidate programs accept people with a 2.5 gpa or above…I’d increase it to 3.5) But, teachers are just one piece of the pie. We need to start expecting much, much more from parents. And much more from communities. To me, 100K should be starting salary for a teacher straight out of college with a BA. I consider teaching just as difficult a field as law or medicine.

  • 36. city girl  |  April 19, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Yep, Lewis is a total idiot. If the teachers union wants any chance, they need to lose her.
    I had a run-in with her at a board of ed meeting. I was holding a sign in the back of the room of a union press conference (the 1′ x 2 ‘ sign was for an opposing view). She was in my face swearing non-stop and threatening me if I didn’t remove the sign. She’s crazy.

  • 37. Waitingmom  |  April 19, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Chicago mom of 3: Look at the pay scale once more. Take out pension pick up and there is no $100k salary, leave it in and there is no salary of 100k. I would say very few people in CPS have PhD’s so it is a bit of a stretch to make it sound like that is their pay for 9 months work.

  • 38. mommy and teacher  |  April 19, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Everyone thinks they know what it is like to be a teacher because they sat in a classroom for 12 years. I thought so too– until I became one. It is very different from the other side.

    Sure, of course there are bad teachers out there, but I find it hard to believe that the problem with our schools is all of the teachers. Come on– teaching just happens to be the one profession that for some reason 90% of the work force is incompetent? Isn’t it more likely that there are a lot of good teachers that are underperforming and not working to their potential because of other factors such as lack of support (and I mean this in the broadest of definitions) both in and out of their classrooms.

    Unlike many jobs in the private sector, teaching at is essence is about HUMAN interaction. There is a human being in the front of the classroom (well most teachers circulate) and human beings for students. No mater how much the current trends want to quantify student performance, it is impossible. You can’t have a “control” because every student comes with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

    Good teaching is something that is experienced individually in a unique way by each student over time. This is exactly why I am against linking pay to performance. A wonderful teacher may just not get the same scores as a mediocre one because a variables beyond their control. A great teacher can have a great class one year, and a not so great class the next.

    As a teacher, I am saddened that Brizard, a former teacher himself, subscribes to this idea. As a mother, I am worried for my kids. All this emphasis on test taking is counterproductive. I work in a top suburban school. We spend 0 class time practicing for standardized tests. I mean 0 minutes in an entire year. Yet, our kids perform top in the state. In CPS, classes spend weeks practicing. This is an effort to raise scores. Consequently, how can you really compare schools. Which schools practiced, and which schools didn’t? When a school wants to raise their scores, they practice more. How is that productive? What have the kids learned? If you really want to have meaningful data, all kids should be tested having the same amount of preparation for the test.

  • 39. Christine  |  April 20, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I wanna know where the 2 Brizard kids will go to school in Chicago. I also wonder where they went in Rochester. That’ll be interesting and telling.

  • 40. Mayfair Dad  |  April 20, 2011 at 11:12 am

    @ 35 Hawthorne mom

    I used to wonder why teachers – who are well-educated white collar professionals – needed the protection of a union. Surely a national association with state affiliates and paid for by membership dues, could lobby for the profession, provide development opportunities, career counseling, networking, etc.

    Now that I have seen what teachers are subjected to by CPS administration, the press, political pressure on public employees, I understand why they need union representation.

    My problem with Karen Lewis and CTU is they have been taken over by the lunatic fringe. She can be articulate at times but I have yet to hear her speak passionately about what is best for the children and linking the goals of the union with the aspirations of parents. When teachers were under attack by Huberman, maybe protecting jobs was the correct priority. Now she has worked behind the scenes to redefine tenure, a smart and necessary step. But who stands up for the kids?

    Parents do.

  • 41. Hawthorne mom  |  April 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Yes, Mayfair dad, the CTU has been taken over by the lunatic fringe!
    I was just talking about this with my father in law (my husband and his parents are also teachers) this morning, trying to explain to him how the CTU is perceived by families and city residents. I think the union shares many of the same concerns as parents do. We teachers who make up “the union” care nearly as much about our students as their own parents do. We share the desire for smaller class sizes, because then we can actually differentiate…not just for those below the curve, but also for those above the curve. We share the concerns over safety. We’d like all kids to have access to reading materials at their grade level. And at least some of us recognize that while most teachers could be more successful at producing results if they had more support, there is a percentage (I’d put it at 10-20%) of teachers who are simply awful and need to be fired.
    I wish our union could find a way to communicate these shared concerns in an intelligent way. I don’t have much hope of that happening.
    I am actually out in the suburbs today handing out resumes in hopes of finding work out here. I was amazed at the first glance I got. Friendly office staff, principals who were available, recess, no graffiti, beautiful libraries and just a feeling of peacefulness. Very, very different than my work experiences in CPS as a whole. Granted, it was just a glance, but still. I stood there and counted the students in one Kindergarten class that passed me in the hall…..17 kids. I asked if this was a typical class size and the teacher said “well, we do have two kids absent today”!

  • 42. Mayfair Dad  |  April 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Oh, Hawthorne mom, I would love to hear all about your suburban epiphany but we don’t want to wake up Mayfair Troll!

    I hope your mission is successful. Best of luck. The world is a better place because of teachers like you.

    (Mayfair Sister is a teacher in upstate New York)

  • 43. Another Rogers Park Mama!!!  |  April 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Hoping times have changed, and I must say that Mayfair Dad as usual offers a unique and objective perspective that makes one think… but as a product of CPS for 12 years, and with one child @ Decatur and another headed to either Coonley or Peirce, I have to say there are a LOT of really crappy CPS teachers. I can remember but a handful that gave a damn at all; I was abused verbally, physically and emotionally by several (one told me daily I would never be as smart as my mother, her former student, and that if my mother had not lost in the DNA battle I’d be far better off! Way to teach Chemistry, with an added dose of ‘your mom woulda been a doctor if she’d not gotten knocked up with you’!). My son spent 2nd grade being verbally and emotionally abused at the ‘top school in the state’ because she apparently hates boys (this is ongoing this year, and Decatur will be damned to do something about her!). I am from a family of teachers and special ed teachers at that; however, it’s hard to say all care like most do or should.

    There are too many crappy teachers with NO accountability. This is a reality. Do the bad overshadow the good? Um, yes, often because they get more press so to speak.

    I am all for incentives and fair wage, believe me I know how much time and money GOOD teachers spend on their class and their kids. However, don’t ask for the world without assuring you’ll provide the best in return… make the crappy teachers accountable instead of protecting them… and then we can have a conversation on how to better compensate the EXCELLENT ones, such as the one my son has this year at Decatur (and also had in K and 1st!).

  • 44. Another Rogers Park Mama!!!  |  April 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    And let us not forget the AVERAGE wage of CPS principals. Yes, that includes our wonderful CPS neighborhood school, GALE, failing for 12+ years…

    A whopping 133k per year. Really? GMAFB. Do some earn it? Of course. Do most in CPS? Hell no!

  • 45. Grace -- random thoughts  |  April 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Has anyone read Eric Zorn’s Op-Ed on Brizzard today?
    Like? Dislike?

    Good luck on the job search, Hawthorn mom. All the best!

    Sorry about your situation, Another Rogers Park mama. If you run for Decatur’s LSC and are elected, you will have influence on the issues regarding your son. Unfortunately, the next election is one year away.

    I have no personal knowledge of CTU leadership, but I had a chance to hear Ms. Lewis speak briefly and then introduce Diane Ravitch at a talk the CTU had organized about a month ago. (Terry Mazany had come to her Ravitch speak as well. I like him, too.) Lewis was articulate. Ravitch offered a thorough explanation of nationwide corporate-style education reform efforts going on today. It was well worth attending.

    You all know her. A prof at NYU, Ravitch had served in the Dept. of Ed under the last Bush, and was once a staunch proponent of NCLB, But she isn’t any longer, and her reasons for this sea change — to me, at least — seem reasonable.

    Check her out on You Tube or borrow her latest book, if you’d like to learn more.

  • 46. Another Rogers Park Mama!!!  |  April 20, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    @Grace, I could not run prior to now, as I had a little one at home as a SAHM, with little babysitting budget or family help available. Will consider, though I am a bit LSC gun-shy. I went to MPHS during Dr. Pilditch’s last year; the year he was ousted in favor of a ‘strong, black role model for the students’. There was a landmark lawsuit that ruled in favor of Dr. Pilditch as well as the LSC as a whole, and each individual member of that LSC that voted for the racist proposal. There were a myriad of race riots in the spring of 1990 at MPHS as a result, the reality that Malcom X had just been released and students were wearing Black Power shirts/buttons/carrying/posting signs, etc did not help (you cannot expect young students to understand that context, or the reality that Black Power does not equate the the exact reverse of White Power, which was presumed). What a mess…

    So yes. LSC on my hands… just not sure. But I will consider it! 😉

  • 47. Another Rogers Park Mama!!!  |  April 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm,9171,969688,00.html?promoid=googlep

  • 48. Tattoo Mom (JM)  |  April 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    LSC’s do not have anything to do with evaluating teachers. All we can do is advise the Principal and evaluate him/her.

    So Mell, are ya taking my place in the next election? I’m retiring ya know…. LOL

  • 49. Listener  |  April 20, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    I’m not having any problem with the current CTU leadership, and I’m a CPS parent who works in education. Just saying.

  • 50. Grace  |  April 21, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I read the Time magazine story, ARPM!! Wow, a real war story. Sorry to hear you were a student there at that time. I hope that your principal will sit down with you and discuss ways to help your son’s situation.

  • 51. Grace  |  April 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

    More about chartes and Brizzard

    Alexander Russo of district 299 blog said:
    sorry if this is a repost, but curtis black at newstips has lots of links and puts it all into a certain kind of perspective.

  • 52. Grace  |  April 21, 2011 at 9:36 am

    More on CPS CEO; be sure to read the last paragraph for a good laugh. : )

  • 53. cpsobsessed  |  April 21, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Also a good post on the RYH site from Claire Wapole who writes with a great combo of fact and opinion (and humor.)

  • 54. cpsobsessed  |  April 21, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I’m finally reading through a lot of these posts about JC. Interesting.

    I know I am flawed in that I like playing devil’s advocate and i’m naively optimistic about change, but I feel like the negative comments about JC all have another side to the story. If one accepts that Chicago need “A Reformer” (not sure we do or not, but with our bad school record, one could certainly make that argument) then I’m not surprised about the things people say about a reformer.

    **He didn’t make progress quickly. – This is my concern. Reformers want to make big changes fast. Our union seems to be anti-big changes (although they seem to much more flexible lately.) I feel like they will be at an impasse forever.

    **People don’t like him. – I think that’s par for the course for a reformer, no? The vitriol I saw expressed for Michelle Rhee was intense.

    **He hires expensive top people. – Not sure I’m opposed to this is they’re really good.

    **He lied about performance stats. – Based on most school info I see, there are several ways to report/interpret. I think it’s RAHM who seems to spout off figures without having Karl the Intern investigate them first.

    I mean if anyone could make significant changes in a district in 3 years, they’d be the very rare exception. I guess the question is… in the absense of making big changes fast, are his operating decisions wise?

    In any case, this is going to be interesting…..

  • 55. cps Mom  |  April 21, 2011 at 11:37 am

    We need a reformer. Our current education system is disjointed and scattered with patchwork solutions. I am not “anti-union” but can see that the union has a stake in keeping CPS stagnate. Chicago union ties have cost us plenty and the only way that we will ever move forward on a global scale (with education only one aspect) is to look and act toward the future. The fact that we are crippled financially is fueling this old school mentality of grabbing for crumbs. We need to focus – establish meaningful education starting at the earliest age, regroup/retrain those that have slipped through the cracks, more specialized education (selective enrollment), take advantage of grants and funding that supports the tech, agricultural and business industries – without getting hung up on labels (charter/regular CPS/STEM/gifted/magnet).

    I’d like to see a plan that we can all get behind. If the only way to do that (as I see it) is to side step unions then so be it. I’m for choice as long as the options make sense and benefit the kids. I am really interested in seeing what JC can bring to the party. This is an exciting time for Chicago.

  • 56. Another Rogers Park Mama!  |  April 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Oh HELLS No!!! Jill, don’t want that much responsibility, lol! Maybe a parent rep next year, but I also may do Gale… I cannot ignore the effect our horrific neighborhood school has on our community! Are you really retiring? 😉 I’d not heard that!

  • 57. Another Rogers Park Mama!  |  April 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    @Grace, thanks for the great links, and for reading mine! I should clarify, my sons teacher at Decatur this year is, like his K and 1st teachers, an angel on earth. Several other parents have had similar issues with their sons in particular, regarding the teacher my son had for 2nd. Hopefully their collective voices will mean more than my singular voice did last year! Ds is doing really well this year, and we could not be happier with his current teacher… He loves school again! 😉

    I think this will be a very intriguing year for cps indeed, and like to give admins the benefit of the doubt… Rahm likely chose thoughtfully and I hope we see his ambitions come to fruition!

  • 58. Grace  |  April 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    JC was in Rochester for 3 years, and Rochester reporter Rachel Barnhart has compiled a list of stories to give you a good feeling for his work style. Her words of advice to Chicago reporters were — ask lots of questions, double check everything and use lots and lots of FOIAs.

    Many CPS schools are teaching the neediest students in the toughest neighborhoods. Their level of need is so high. In my mind it is not fair to hold these kids to the same ISAT standards when they have do many more obstacles to overcome, including homelessness.

    The Reformers never talk about poverty and its impact or how to address it. All has been reduce to ISAT scores. A school fails based on those scores, is closed and re-opened as a charter, and no one in Chicago has shown that charters overall perform better than traditional schools. Maybe a few do, but we haven’t seen the numbers, which is why Mazany wanted to hold off on expanding them.

  • 59. RL Julia  |  April 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Well, no one could of been less qualified for the job than Huberman…

  • 60. cps teacher  |  April 22, 2011 at 9:13 am

    He has experience, that’s for sure. But I for one am not looking forward to, what I believe, is ahead for Chicago. The Rochester news sites are interesting and, seem thrilled he is leaving.

  • 61. Grace  |  April 22, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Huberman, no. But Mazany, yes! This controversy shows how good Mayor Daley is at the game of politics in Chicago, with his selection of Terry Mazany, and how ham-handed Emmanuel is by comparison. Rahm selected Brizzard, and Rochester is ecstatic.Then he packed the Board of Ed with private sector types (an expert in logistics and another from the food business) and charter operators from out of state.

    The 3-month tenure of former schools chancellor Cathie Black in NYC should have been a lesson. Rahm doesn’t seem to care.

  • 62. Grace  |  April 22, 2011 at 10:48 am

    In case you missed this story from the NY Times, it’s a good, quick read. headline:

    In Public School Efforts, a Common Background, Private Education

  • 63. cps Mom  |  April 22, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Mazany never wanted the job – was always only interim. So why beat it to death, lets move on.

  • 64. Grace  |  April 22, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Okey doke. This story should be encouraging.

    Who sez there’s no money?
    Dropping the Renaissance brand

    Renaissance Schools Fund, which for the last six years has poured enough startup money into new charter schools to triple their number in the Chicago Public Schools system announces a new $60 million venture fund to add 50 more charter schools.

    The fund will focus on replicating successful charters in Chicago and bringing in high-performing charter schools from out of state. Additionally, the group plans to drop Mayor Richard Daley’s “Renaissance” moniker and take on a new name: New Schools for Chicago. (Tribune) — Catalyst

  • 65. Mayfair Dad  |  April 22, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    So going forward anything shiny and new in CPS will be charter, further diminishing the attractiveness of the neighborhood school. Unless your neighborhood school is shut down and re-opened as a charter school with non-union teachers.

    While all this privitization is going on, perhaps they could devote resources toward improving neighborhood schools too? Or is union-busting the plan to improve neighborhood schools. Not sure what the end game is unless the goal is to eventually privatize the entire public school system. Maybe Rahm will outsource the CPS central office to a call center in Mumbai.

    It would be interesting if a charter high school was to emerge and challenge Northside as the top high school in the state. Then the charter operators would have something to crow about.

  • 66. Mayfair Dad  |  April 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    @ 63 cps Mom:

    I agree Mazany was never in serious contention for the job permanently, maybe his decision not Rahm’s.

    But doesn’t it seem like JC Brizard was NOT the mayor elect’s first choice? His baggage and proclivity for generating controversy had to be known by the transition team, or else he was very poorly vetted.

    This situation reminds me of how Chicago ended up with Jody Weiss as top cop – he was the consolation prize after the guy Daley really wanted turned him down.

  • 67. Scary end-game  |  April 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    On another blog, Rod Estvan (who is brilliant & experienced) offered this take on what the end-game will be:

    “As CPS over the next few years transfers more and more students over to charters, contract schools, and various other forms of privatizing most of which will not be run by for profit entities a shocking reality will set in. That reality will be even without supposedly expensive unionized teachers these choice options will not solve the fiscal problems of CPS. CPS will then begin to force cost reductions on this choice sector, effectively increasing class sizes in this sector and reducing what modest achievement gains can be made for lower cost poor children in this so called choice sector.

    “Why do I say ‘lower cost poor children,’ I say it because there is really no evidence that choice options anywhere are producing results for high cost poor children in particular ones with more significant disabilities, serious psychological issues, totally dysfunctional families, wards of the state, and students with on-going criminal behavior. As these higher cost poor children are effectively herded into the ever shrinking CPS sector of non-elite , traditional schools [ i.e. not prep, magnet, or upper middle class schools] these traditional schools will look more and more abnormal and be shunned. Children sentenced to the remaining traditional schools, because the choice schools will boot them out due to the fact they cost too much, will effectively be institutionalized much like the early models of educational sorting proposed. Welcome to the nightmare.

    “I and other advocates will do our best to protect individual students with disabilities from this scenario, but I doubt we will be successful for great numbers of students.”

  • 68. BTW  |  April 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    BTW, I don’t think I’ll call S.E. schools “top schools,” but rather, I’ll call them “schools with the top students.” I do believe there is an important difference. Schools with the top students is more accurate, when you think about it. As a grad of one of those schools, it was more the students than the school (teachers, admins) that put it on the top of the pile.

  • 69. cps Mom  |  April 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I apologize #63 I did not mean to sound abrupt

  • 70. Grace  |  April 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    From district 299, a link to WTTW’s interview with CTU’s Jackson Potter, De Paul’s Kenneth Saltman, and Illinois Charter Network’s Andrew Brody.

    Pretty darn interesting, I’d say.
    Let us know what you think …
    In the last moments, Broy repeats the claim that the top 10 high schools — other than the s.e.schools — are all charters. (Rahm said this same thing during his campaign, and a group of Senn students made a cute little video nicely correcting him. You can find it on Youtube.)

  • 71. Grace  |  April 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    One more interesting tidbit, this one from Catalyst:

    “It’s hard to think of another field in which experience is considered a liability and those who know the least about the nuts and bolts of an enterprise are embraced as experts,” writes Pedro Noguera and Michelle Fine in a commentary that will appear in the May 9 edition of The Nation titled “Teachers Aren’t the Enemy.”

  • 72. cpsobsessed  |  April 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks Grace, that was really interesting! I jotted down some of the quotes the guys said: I’ll add my thoughts in the next comment.

    *Jackson Potter, CTU
    Brizard’s failed policies are what we take issue with: merit pay, proliferation of charter schools, school closings – have all been extremely controversial. Haven’t worked in Chicago.

    *Prof. Kenneth Saltman, DePaul
    Rahm wants him to shake up status quo. But he represents status quo corporate reform agenda, same as Duncan and Huberman. He’s about concentrated private power as opposed to public democratic power in education. Aggressive chartering private management of public schools, radical turnarounds, pay for performance, so called data-driven decision making. There’s no scholarly evidence that these work. Massive evidence that they don’t work from Ren 2010 plan.

    Privatization of public schools:
    Supporting charter schools = de-unionization, democratically elected LSC. Concentrated private power or public democratic power.

    Charters show on-par to worse performance than public, drastically worsen teacher turnover, lower pay which makes it lower quality teaching, makes it harder to recruit good teachers, reduces the number of years of teacher experience and worsens racial segregation.

    *Andrew Broy, Charter School guy
    He Represents a chance to hit the re-start button. Charters enroll 10%, with 15,000 on waiting lists. Offers parents an option. Charters are not the core of the reform strategy.
    7 out of 10 of the non-SE high schools are charters (met with objection from the other 2 guys.)

  • 73. cpsobsessed  |  April 23, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    One of my first thoughts is that I think it’s odd that the union guy and the professor speak openly against Merit Pay with straight faces. Ok, maybe we haven’t figured out how to make it work yet, but isn’t that just kind of the way the world operates? You do really well, you get paid more? I can’t get behind the concept of saying merit should be completely discounted. It seems counter-intuitive.

    Then the professor also speaks out against “data driven decision making.” Is he referring to judging merit on test scores? If so, I buy it. If not – what is the objection to using data to make decisions?!? I was also a bit surprised by his sound bytes against charters. I dislike Rahm’s sound bytes and I dislike this guy’s sound bytes. However I did find his points about concentrated private power taking away from democratic power in the schools kind of interestings, as I haven’t thought about it like that before. I WISH the public power of the LSC was working better, but the ongoing complaints about principals we read about on this blog make me question the effectiveness of it. Yet I still like having that power there.

    The charter school guy at least added the qualification to Rahm’s 7/10 charter byte that it is *of non-SE schools.” I think he might be correct. Or at least close. But as we’ve discussed, charters are much like magnets but with the added options of being able to weed students out over time, unlike neighborhood schools. He points out that charters are a smal part of Brizard’s plan. I’d like more details on the non-charter plans.

    Thanks again Grace – interesting stuff! I liked hearing the range of opinions.

  • 74. RL Julia  |  April 24, 2011 at 8:31 am

    #68 BTW, Thank you!! I think you are spot on about the SE’s. This isn’t to say that the teachers etc… at the SE’s aren’t wonderful and amazing – its more to say, that there are fantastic, dedicated, phenomenal teachers everywhere.

  • 75. watcher  |  April 24, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Hum. Do I see the best workers at my company being paid the most eve with our long-standing merit pay system? No.

    Also, objections to data-driven management is really an objection to ham-handed and poor uses of that managment approach.

    And, unless neighborhood and charters have the type of students, we’re ‘ comparing apples to oranges.

  • 76. Jill  |  April 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Such an unfortunate misstep that Terry Mazany wasn’t appointed. Most interims are stewards at best. Mazany transformed CPS culture that was bottoming out in just a few short months. Imagine what he could have done as CEO. Sorry to see Dr. Payne go too.

  • 77. Grace  |  April 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Hi, cps obsessed, I’m glad you look closely at the issues, and I enjoy your devil’s advocate approach. : ) Hope you enjoy mine.

    Merit pay in elementary and h.s. education, as the reformers talk about it, means using students’ test scores to judge a teacher’s performance and then to decide whether to retain or fire the teacher or pay a bonus.

    There are problems with trying to create a fair system, and the teachers union is working to add other assessments to those test scores for that reason.

    As we’ve read here — thanks to H-mom, and others — NCLB’s emphasis on high-stakes tests has led to a narrowed curriculum with a lot of teaching to the test at all schools. If a small group of children don’t make AYP, perhaps SPED or ESL children, the entire school is put on probation, keeping it from getting much-needed federal funds.

    Let’s say you had decided to become a teacher, cps obsessed, and you have been working for 5 years in middle school teaching social studies. You are, of course, a thoughtful and interesting teacher. A new principal comes in and she/ he wants to hire a former colleague she liked working with. Or the alderman has a friend who needs a job, and the new principal needs the alderman’s support. So in the fall, you find your homeroom class has a much higher number of low-scoring students than last year. The chances of your class’s test scores dropping would be very high, but through no fault of yours, and you could be fired.

    Because ISATs test only reading, math every year, and science only in 7th grade, it will be hard to devise fair remuneration for teachers of other subjects — unless you expand testing. Do we parents really want more of NCLB testing? More teaching to the bubble in more subjects? Well, the process is underway as we speak. Duncan has spent nearly half-billion so far on more tests.

    You might accept that more testing can make our curriculum even narrower. And even consider that it can add instability to the teaching profession, creating higher turnover, and fewer experienced educators for our children. But system-wide consequences include widespread cheating.

    Former chancellor Michelle Rhee instituted teacher performance pay in D.C. schools. She got millions from Arne Duncan to pay bonuses for increases in test scores.

    As USA Today articles (Jack Gillum) have recently shown, there were a highly suspicious number of erasures of test answers in many D.C. schools during Rhee’s tenure, including schools where principals and teachers “earned” bonuses.

    Rhee knew about it, but didn’t pursue a full investigation. Apparently, one will be conducted now that the USA Today story has emerged with credible evidence of test tampering.

    In addition to D.C., .there have been testing scandals in Houston, Atlanta, and Detroit. In NYC, the tests had been watered down so much that the State Board of Ed there decided to restructure the tests. After taking the new tests, the “gains” in students’ test scores disappeared.

  • 78. Mom2  |  April 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Grace, you make some very good points and you do show how paying teachers based on performance could be used against good teachers (especially good teachers with a corrupt or bad principal) and could backfire on students/parents that just want their children to learn more, achieve more, etc.

    I have no idea if this is true, but I think some of this push to look at performance as a way to judge teachers stems from teachers unions and rules making it a long and/or difficult process to let go of “bad” teachers or to not be able to hire or keep new and enthusiastic teachers when you have some mediocre teachers currently in place. Because of these sorts of issues, others have been trying to find a more objective way to measure a teacher and therefore have it not be thought of as subjective when a principal wants to let a teacher go. Maybe if there had been more willingness to alter that process in the past, instead of so much fighting every step of the way, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

  • 79. Grace  |  April 25, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Mom 2, a few years back our principal had to review and let go teachers whose performance was lacking in important ways. She followed the regulations in place. It took some time, it’s true, as the teachers were given an opportunity to improve, which the principal encouraged. But the principal was able to show by her measured and discreet handling of the teachers that she requires a certain standard of teaching and that she is fair and considerate when implementing it. That is also a good message for our children.

  • 80. Mayfair Dad  |  April 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    @ Grace and others.

    Accountability is essential to education reform, and I support paying good teachers more than mediocre teachers. Bad teachers should be encouraged to leave the profession, as quickly as practical.

    But how do you suggest CPS measure what good teaching is, if not by measuring student outcomes. Student test scores don’t tell the whole story, but its a start. Testing has been around since there have been schools.

    I think linking pay increases and career advancement to goal attainment is a good thing. Of course teachers are not in control of outside variables, just as a sales rep is not in control of the economy, the competition’s pricing structure, etc.

    What mix of measurable attributes – in addition to ISAT scores – constitutes good teaching?

  • 81. mom2  |  April 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I have a question about what they would be measuring. Would they measure test score or grade improvements or only test scores? I ask because on one hand, if they measure improvement, a teacher might not want a bunch of very bright kids in their class because they have little ground in which to improve. They would want the students that really want to learn but need extra help because they have the most range in which to improve.
    On the other hand, if they measure test scores, a teacher might not want a child that is struggling to learn because their scores will not be as high as those that are very bright and yet those children that want to learn but are struggling are the very students that need the best and most dedicated teachers.
    Can someone explain please?

  • 82. cps Mom  |  April 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Many companies have employee evaluations based upon a number of factors. Specific goals and outcomes are laid out and agreed upon up front. Some of the factors considered – did the employee master a particular skill, do they put in the required time, complete assignments, handle the customer/client in a effective/professional manner, get along with boss and co-workers. endeavor to further ones abilities and takes pride in a job well done. All these things can apply to teaching. Results are important and theoretically, if you are doing all the right things, they will come. And yes, the majority of students do have the capability to progress and it should be measurable and the responsibility of the teacher. It is their job. I think tests are a good way to do that after all, the student is evaluated based upon the tests. Testing should be considered an important part of the whole picture – not all of it – but an important part.

  • 83. Grace  |  April 26, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Mayfair Dad and others, I like this forum b/c parents can explore in depth some of the complex issues in education reform — and try to get a handle on the thinking behind the sound bites that get tossed around. I’m going to do some research on performance pay, if it has worked in other cities or not and why. I’ll put the links here, as I go, if you think it’s worth a read. Cheers!

  • 84. Grace  |  April 26, 2011 at 8:19 am

    In the meantime, courtesy of district 299’s Alexander Russo, here is a link to all the budget discussions going on largely behind the scenes, and how to weigh in for your favorite program, via jim broadway at SSNS:

    Read more:

  • 85. Hawthorne mom  |  April 26, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I have mixed feelings about tying pay or job security to test scores. I’ll give you two examples:
    One year, I taught 5th grade. While I killed myself trying to help my students, they were 2-3 years behind when I got them. My principal would not allow me to use reading materials on their level because she felt it would keep them from progressing, even though every single piece of research out there says kids MUST be able to have access to content at their reading level. I worked from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the school every day. Then I took work home. Somehow, unbelievably, my students scores, overall, dropped lower than what they scored as 4th graders. (I suspect cheating the year before, especially based on the low skills they came in with, but that is just suspicion)

    Fast forward to the next year: I taught Kindergarten. I bought and paid for all my own reading materials and decided to just stop asking permission to do what I knew was best. With 31 kids and no help, 20+ were reading at a 1st/2nd grade level, the others close behind, in a 99% poverty level school in one of the poorest, most gang infested neighborhoods in Chicago.

    It might be easy to look at that and say, okay, well, you were a terrible 5th grade teacher and a great kindergarten teacher. I am not sure it is that simple. Definitely, I am a person who belongs with younger kids. But my take on it is this: I know we all want to say that all kids can learn and they can. But not all kids can learn in 5 hours and 45 minutes in class sizes of 30+ with serious learning disabilities, poverty issues, ESL issues and administrators who don’t support best practices. And the older the student, the more difficult it is.

    Kids like that, and I’ll say it again, need massive amounts of support not currently available in schools. It is soooo easy to say, well, teachers are paid to do a job, so they need to be able to do it. That’s like telling oncologists, “you are a doctor, sometimes patients who get the best care, who are diagnosed early and who get a little bit lucky get cured. So, you should be able to cure everyone with cancer, no matter how far along they are, no matter what kind of care they’ve had up until this point.” Noone would do that, right?
    So, why do we expect teachers, in some of the worst conditions out there, to work miracles too? With no support!!!
    I am also amazed at how often I hear things like, it is time to clear out the old, jaded teachers and bring in the fresh excited teachers who have passion for their work. Believe me, I am ALL for passion! But, at the same time, you do realize, virtually ALL those older teachers who are kind of burned out, were once those excited new teachers who spent hours and hours in their classrooms, don’t you? They got burned out because they have no support. None.

    I think, when we give kids what they really need (which ironically, is the exact same things that teachers need!!!)…..more reading help, more reading specialists, a longer school day and year, smaller class sizes, more ESL help, more early preschool, more parent education, ALL of the thousands and thousands of dollars per classroom per year that are needed just to have the basic things teachers need to teach kids with, really great admins who give consistent feedback for improving instruction, and when kids who consistently disrupt are removed from the traditional schools and put into alternative schools…..then, I think it will be totally fair to judge teachers based on growth of students over time using a test devised for such a purpose (read: NOT ISATS!!! They were not intended for that purpose).

    But judging teachers on student test scores under the current conditions we and our students face is similar to asking a cop to do his or her job, with a weapon that has no bullets. Or a nurse to do his or her job, but with triple the recommended patient load and no syringes, IV’s or working computers to access files.
    Accountability for teaching staff is a good and needed thing. But that means school systems and boards of education have to be accountable to create an environment where teachers and students have at least a slim chance at success. And that means taxpayers and the board of ed and our legislators must do their part to make that happen.

    One last thing…..why do we do ISATs in February or the first week of March?????? Seriously, I do not understand why we are not doing these tests in June. I know it is because they want the tests scored within a certain time frame, but really….come on!!!

  • 86. Grace  |  April 26, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Thanks H-mom, for your insights and your love of teaching.

    Here’s a story from Catalyst on the renaming of a non-profit foundation that funded many of Chicago’s existing charters. It has been re-named, re-funded and aims to roll out another 50 charters in Chicago over the next 5 years. But first, they want to turn around the failing charters. They won’t say which charters are failing, however.

  • 87. HSObsessed  |  April 26, 2011 at 9:12 am

    @83 Grace – I hope you do research how exactly tests are used to assess teacher performance, and post info about that. It’s an interesting question that I hadn’t thought of. It can’t be just based on ISAT scores, because that’s a one-time deal, and a teacher has to work with the class of children she has been assigned, which may be very different from year to year, as others have pointed out. CPS kids get other tests periodically through the year, like DIBELS and God knows what else, and from what I understand, they are testing for knowledge level on the exact same material at different points. Perhaps that’s a fair test to use for measuring teacher effectiveness? Test the class’ knowledge in the first week of October, then again the same test first week of May, and see what progress has been made. I would hope there would be some kind of formula applied that factors in the % of poverty or ESL or IEPs in a school as well, to make sure teachers aren’t “penalized” for not making progress as quickly as others, because their students are challenged with more socioeconomic issues. Hopefully you’ll find good info.

  • 88. Grace  |  April 26, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I am looking for the best research on performance pay. But in my travels, I am running across other items of interest. Here’s another one.

    Did you know that the big food suppliers to our schools, like Chartwells, get huge rebates from the food processors like Tyson and Kellogg?

    In New York, they are supposed to return those rebates to the school system. But not in Chicago. And Chicagoans don’t even get to know how much the rebates are that Chartwells gets to keep.,0,298866.story

  • 89. Mayfair Dad  |  April 26, 2011 at 9:47 am

    “Accountability for teaching staff is a good and needed thing. But that means school systems and boards of education have to be accountable to create an environment where teachers and students have at least a slim chance at success. And that means taxpayers and the board of ed and our legislators must do their part to make that happen.”

    Amen to this, Hawthorne mom.

  • 90. mommy  |  April 26, 2011 at 10:56 am

    My mom was a teacher aide for many years at an inner city school. She helped proctor many exams over the years. She said that it was not uncommon for kids to take a standardized test, fill in bubbles randomly in about 5 minutes, and then spend the rest of the test time sitting at their desks. When asked by the teacher why they weren’t working, the kids would say “I’m done.”

    Sometimes, no matter how hard a teacher works, you can’t get over the fact that the test is taken by kids.

  • 91. cps Mom  |  April 26, 2011 at 11:07 am

    @85 HM – I don’t think teachers should “be able to work miracles” – although it seems that some do! I understand the situation you describe completely. I think that anyone would agree that there are exceptions and special conditions that need to be evaluated differently. On the surface, in this scenario, children would benefit from using below grade level materials in order to master the basics. It would seem to me that progress should be measured off a base line, hopefully starting at K.

    What I find bothersome at the best of schools is the tenured teacher that calls a kid stupid or lazy, doesn’t assign homework or writing assignments because they take too much time to grade, punishes kids by disallowing recess for weeks, demoralizes and controls students with constant yelling. One teacher would publicly humiliate kids by announcing point blank that the student would be receiving an F for their efforts. This same teacher had more than one kid break down in tears in front of the class because they missed some piece of instruction on a project presentation and were dismissed with an F. This kind of stuff is not just happening at failing schools. These teachers have no repercussions for their actions and need to be kept away from children. Instead, they receive full pension and benefits when they finally leave their post.

    Overall, our experience has been very good. But, as another poster mentioned – a bad teacher can put a child through hell for a whole year. Parents dare not complain because the only thing that will come of it is a bad grade for the kid.

  • 92. Grace  |  April 26, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    cps mom, that is a sad situation. My young child had a similar stressful experience. The principal should address the issue, but that doesn’t always occur. I got the feeling that Mazany wouldn’t have gone along with that stuff.

    BTW, here is some research that I’ve found on performance pay — it’s just a start.

  • 93. Hawthorne mom  |  April 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    @91, I TOTALLY agree!!! Yelling and humiliating and berating kids is absolutely unacceptable. That is child abuse, not teaching.

    I don’t know what will happen with the whole merit pay/scores and job security. All this has gotten me thinking, besides test scores, what are some things, measurable, observable things, we think teachers should be doing (that they may already be doing)? It might be an interesting discussion….

    For me, I look for:
    -teachers who communicate regularly (ie, send at least bi-monthly newsletters and who respond within 48 hours to calls or emails)
    -regular feedback on student progress (am I getting graded homework back and am I getting specific feedback at conferences and preferably at other times of the year too)
    -kindness and firmness towards kids (kids are orderly and there are consequences, but there is a lot of positive too)
    -is my kid making progress
    -is differentiation going on for my kid/are there small groups for reading?math? at least some of the time!
    -is there authentic work going on? (reading books, writing stories, hands on science….some worksheets are fine, but not overkill)

    What do other people look for in their kids’ teachers?

  • 94. Grace  |  April 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    My child had a delightful teacher in third grade who sent home a quick, 1-page newsletter every Monday to give us a heads up on quizzes, tests, projects, etc. that were coming due. What a big help!
    Well-rounded, she was also a great lit teacher. She didn’t stick only to the textbook, but frequently used novels. And if the kids weren’t enjoying, say, Anne of Green Gables, she’d listen to them and go to another book. Very kind, hard worker, and the class was a buzzy, happy place with the kids under control. I still think very highly of her. There were a number of excellent teachers like her. Happy days!

    BTW, here is an interesting piece! Did you know that CPS is in the final year of a 5-year merit pay initiative called the Chicago Teacher Advancement Program (CTAP)? Link is here to how the program is structured and to some early results.

  • 95. RL Julia  |  April 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I find the whole merit pay thing really difficult to figure – and I agree with you Hawthorne mom – I think it is pretty demoralizing to ask people to be miracle workers and not give them the adequate resources to do so.

    In terms of what I look for in a teacher – it depends on the age of the kid in question (and the subject I suppose) but in general, I look for some sort of mechanism for communication (I traditionally made a point of checking in with the teacher before school started for the day about once every six weeks, although e-mail works for me as well).

    I like to know if the teacher has any idea about what my kid is working on and their social interactions/development – and how are they choosing to spend their “free time” in the classroom.

    I look for student work being posted in the room- and sort of check the names to make sure it isn’t the same ten kid’s stuff that gets posted.

    I also look at the overall classroom – has the teacher created an environment where I’d want to hang out? Is it clearly organized (but not too spotless or organized) is there evidence that the teacher shares the room with 30+ other people?

    Since my kids are a little older, I mostly ask them lots of questions about their experiences and go from there.

  • 96. Grace  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:50 am

    I don’t want to detail the conversation about teachers, just add to it. : )
    If you-all are still interested in linking teacher pay to student performance, here’s the story on Chicago’s $27.5 million+ pilot program, which is underway, and its results so far.

    Micah Maidenberg
    Tuesday April 19th, 2011, 2:23pm

    The Skepticism About Teachers’ Merit Pay

    “Jean-Claude Brizard, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s choice as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, likes the idea of merit pay for teachers. But recent studies of existing pay-for-performance efforts suggest it’s no panacea.

    Many of the headlines Jean-Claude Brizard generated in Rochester, New York during his tenure leading the school system there will be all too familiar for anyone who has followed Chicago Public Schools over the last few years: controversial school closings; a rift between the administration and the teachers; angry parents; frustration with declining budgets and central office hiring decisions.

    It’s for these reasons that the day-after reports about Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s pick of Brizard to head CPS focus on battle lines and mention boxing gloves.

    For a plethora of resources about Brizard’s time in Rochester, check out the lists put together by Chicago Magazine’s Whet Moser, Gapers Block’s Ramsin Canon, and reporter Rachel Barnhart of WHAM, a television station covering upstate New York.

    There will be many more discussions in the coming days and weeks about what Brizard and the Emanuel education team will bring to CPS. But we wanted to take a look today at one of Brizard’s policy commitments Chicago Teachers Union leaders criticized at a press conference yesterday: merit pay for educators, linking teacher pay to student performance.

    Brizard likes the idea. He lauded a merit pay system at a Rochester charter school during an interview with the Rochester City Paper in January:

    People always ask me, “What do you need?” And I always tell them two things: leverage and talent. You allow me to do what needs to be done, and then hire the people I need, and you’re going to get magic. When you look at some charter schools like Rochester Prep, the principal was able to do what she needed to do, hire the talent she needed, get rid of people, pay them different amounts of money, and operate much more like a business.

    It wasn’t discussed at CTU’s press conference yesterday, but Chicago Public Schools is in the last year of a five-year merit pay initiative called the Chicago Teacher Advancement Program (CTAP).

    First rolled out at 10 schools during the 2007-2008 school year, CTAP is backed by a $27.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education plus support from CPS and funders like the Joyce Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

    The program is jointly administered by CPS, representatives from CTAP schools, CTU, the city’s principals’ association, and the Chicago Public Education Fund. Eleven CPS institutions are participating this school year.

    Teachers at CTAP schools work closely with lead or mentor instructor (who get stipends above their base compensation) to create an “Individual Growth Plan” that brings “research-based, data-driven best practices to daily classroom instruction,” according to a FAQ on a program website.

    “[C]lassroom gains are measured through ‘value-added’ growth, rather than reaching a specific attainment level. This means that regardless of where their students start the year academically, teachers are evaluated and compensated based upon how much their students improve, not by the percentage of students that ‘meet’ or ‘exceed’ on standardized tests,” the FAQ says.

    Bonuses for teachers in CTAP’s second year averaged $2,600.

    Researchers from the firm Mathematica, however, found the program had little impact in its second year. Here’s what Mathematica said in its May 2010 report (PDF) about CTAP, shortened as just TAP below:

    After the second year of CPS rolling out TAP, we found no evidence that the program raised student test scores. Student achievement growth as measured by average math and reading scores on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) did not differ significantly between TAP and comparable non-TAP schools. We also found that TAP did not have a detectable impact on rates of teacher retention in the school or district during the second year it was rolled out in the district. We did not find statistically significant differences between TAP and non-TAP retention rates for teachers overall or for subgroups defined by teaching assignment and years of service in CPS.

    To be sure, Mathematica’s researchers cautioned last year’s snapshot looked at the early phase of CTAP, and there have been important questions raised about the program’s design, which paid out bonuses to teachers “based on schoolwide-, rather than classroom-achievement growth.”

    It remains to be seen what kind of merit-pay system Emanuel and Brizard will seek to implement for Chicago Public Schools, if any. But there’s plenty of skepticism about the ability of pay-for-performance efforts to improve educational outcomes. Vanderbilt University’s three-year study of a teacher incentive program in Nashville found that merit pay alone does not raise student outcomes. Merit pay, in other words, is no panacea for CPS.

    The link —

    I’ll try to find the Vanderbilt study next.

  • 97. Grace  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Here’s a link to the Vanderbilt study on teacher pay for performance.

  • 98. Grace  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:17 am

    From the study …

    Teacher performance pay alone does not raise student test scores – New Vanderbilt study finds
    Matt Springer
    Melanie Moran, VU News

    NASHVILLE, Tenn.- September 21, 2010

    Rewarding teachers with bonus pay, in the absence of any other support programs, does not raise student test scores, according to a new study issued today by the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human develoment in partnership with the RAND Corporation.

    This and other findings from a three-year experiment – the first scientific study of performance pay ever conducted in the United States – were released at a conference on evaluating and rewarding educator effectiveness hosted by the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt.

    Paying teachers bonuses based on their performance has been a controversial issue nationwide since the 1950s, but until now the concept has never been scientifically researched.

    “We tested the most basic and foundational question related to performance incentives – Does bonus pay alone improve student outcomes? – and we found that it does not,” Matthew Springer, executive director of the National Center on Performance Incentives, said. “These findings should raise the level of the debate to test more nuanced solutions, many of which are being implemented now across the country, to reform teacher compensation and improve student achievement.”

    The Project on Incentives in Teaching, called the POINT Experiment, took place over the 2007 – 2009 school years with participation by mathematics teachers in grades 5 through 8 in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Nearly 300 teachers, approximately 70 percent of all middle-school math teachers in Nashville’s public schools, volunteered to participate. The complete study, including set up and analysis, began in 2005 and ended in 2010.”

  • 99. Performance pay...  |  April 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I would not expect to see an immediate rise in test scores from implementing performance pay, but that is not the only rationale for implementing it. I think part of the point is that you have better system in place in the long run to recruit and retain the better teachers and more incentive for the lesser-performing teachers to go elsewhere. It takes time to see that kind of change though.

  • 100. Grace  |  April 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    You’ve got a point, but read the studies a little closer; you see that the Vanderbilt study covered three years of results while the CPS study is in tits fifth year.

    For a child, three to five years is a lot of his or her elementary school years. It’s a long time to wait for an eventual improvement, wouldn’t you say?

    What do you think is a reasonable amount of time to see an improvement?

  • 101. Grace  |  April 27, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    And here’s more. For a peek at what our future may hold, read this piece on teacher performance pay. The legislation was just passed in Indiana.

  • 102. Performance pay...  |  April 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Well, it may not help our kids right now, but from a public policy standpoint, there’s nothing wrong with long-term thinking about the next generation.

    I think many of the criticisms and pitfalls can be addressed by —
    — having a well-rounded evaluation process that is not based heavily on standardized test scores.
    — for the test score component, making it takes into account both inputs and outputs, and perhaps other factors such as school environment. That addresses the complaint about teaching high achievers versus low achievers.

    How long would it take to show measurable improvement in the quality of the workforce recruited? I don’t know — 8-10 years? But, if there are no harmful effects in the interim, then why not do it?

  • 103. cps Mom  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    @93 HM things that I think are important for a teacher (in addition to communication and other factors mentioned and assuming they have the required skills)
    – Cheery classroom atmosphere with a well thought out class library
    – homework – reasonable amount, parent is expected to support and facilitate, not teach
    – assignments challenging and interesting, topics appeal to both genders, stimulating class discussions with thought provoking questions as follow up
    – feed back – important to be detailed and thorough in a positive way limiting the use of red ink. A few kind words go a long way in helping a child desire to learn and master a subject. Recently a teacher wrote “thank you for taking the time to give such a detailed response” on a paper. In nine years of elementary education I had never seen a teacher write “thank you” on a paper. I was stunned. What a boost to my child’s whole disposition.

    @99 and 102 – I like your thinking.

  • 104. Grace  |  April 28, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Maybe I missed something in my research. Perhaps someone knows of research that shows performance pay improves outcomes for children&/ or for teachers?

    The Vanderbilt study paid out nice bonuses, but the high turnover rate for teachers remained. The Chicago initiative pays out smaller bonuses, but the CTU has said that CPS loses 50% of its teachers in the first 5 years. Wonder if that has changed?

    Oh! I’ve Found one more piece of information.

    Performance pay is expensive and requires larger class sizes and higher property taxes. We have deep cuts in state funding and a huge budget hole.

    So, is this the right thing to do now when we might expect to have mproved teacher quality in 2019-2021?

    What would you do first, if you were Rahm for a day?

  • 105. Grace  |  April 28, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Just in case you want to help slow down the cuts to CPS, from district 299 blog … Illinois Raise Your Hand is starting an online campaign to save education spending in IL —

  • 106. Performance pay...  |  April 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I don’t see any conclusion in the Vanderbilt study about the effect on turnover and/or recruitment, and one might not expect an effect since this was set up as an experiment and not a contractual expectation of new hires. It does not seem that this study was set up to measure that.

    Similar concerns with the CPS design as well as the relatively small size of potential bonuses.

    Perhaps an extreme example, but let’s say your average teacher salary was $75,000. If you decided to make the base salary $50,000, but gave the top 20% of performers a $50,000 bonus, the next 60% of perfomers a $25,000 bonus (effectively keeping them at the same pay), and the bottom 20% of perfomers at $0 bonus (effective reduction of $25K), then I’d bet you’d have a ton of high-performing teachers looking to get into the district, as well as a ton of lower-performing teachers looking for jobs elsewhere. It’s not that you would change their behavior, but you would change the workforce. I’m doubtful that such a big pay discrepancy would fly in the current culture, but you get my point.

  • 107. Hawthorne mom  |  April 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    @106, That is an interesting proposal. I wonder, how would you (or they) decide who was “high performing”? Would it all be based on test scores or other factors?

  • 108. Grace  |  April 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    H-mom, God is in the details. : )

    Anon. did you read where the Vanderbilt study mentioned the number of teachers who dropped out before the study ended?

  • 109. Grace  |  April 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    A couple of education meetings open to the public.

    1.) State rep. Sara Feigenholtz’s Education Advisory Committee will meet with teachers, parents and administrators to discuss issues affecting our children and public education.

    Sat. April 30, from 10 to 11 in the 23rd district police station’s community room, 850 W., Addison.
    rsvp or 773-296-4141

    2.) Del Valle will be at this one in May.

  • 110. cps parent  |  April 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Small classroom size has not been linked to high student performance — at least according to the research that I have seen — in the way that excellent teachers have been linked to high student performance so I think that the focus should be on identifying strong teachers, not small classes.
    Second, the ranks of teachers are drawn disproportionately from the lower ranks of college students in terms of class rank and SAT or ACT score. High performing international educational systems draw their teachers from the strongest academic performers, not the weakest.
    Now to performance pay. To turn around the public education system this must change.
    My observation is that the strongest teachers are those with the deepest knowledge of the subject that they teach. Maybe this should play a role in the pay for perfomance issue.

  • 111. Grace  |  April 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Large classes don’t correllate to high student performance?
    At Latin, Parker, U. of C. Lab School, Hinsdale, Wilmette, LaGrange, Western Springs, etc.etc., the small class size matters to high student performance.

    Speaking internationally, did you know that one out of five American children live in poverty now?
    Did you also realize that if we removed the test scores of our poorest students from the international rankings, the remaining American students now score just as well as the top countries — Finland, Singapore, etc?

    BTW, the teachers in those countries are given a great deal more respect for their professional accomplishments and experience than here at home. And better training.

    Would you say that teachers with advanced degrees are most likely to have the deepest knowledge of a subject? Currently, teachers with advanced degrees are paid more than those without. The legislation in Springfield would remove the better pay for advanced degrees.

  • 112. Performance pay...  |  April 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    How would I personally measure performance? I’m not sure it matters what I think — but I’m sure there are people out there who can design an evaluation system that truly identifies and rewards greatness.

    From my own perspective, I think it should be a multi-faceted evaluation, with various perspectives/constituencies having input — something akin to a 360-degree evaluation they do in some private-sector. First, I think a “value-added” measurement based on test scores should be one component of the evaluation. (NOTE: I was shocked and impressed that CPS is now adding “value-added” data to elementary school report cards now online, though I have been unsuccessful in getting them to explain the formula used for calculating it).

    Other components should be: (1) principal evaluation, (2) teacher/peer evaluation, (3) parent/student evluation, and perhaps even a third-party expert evaluation.

    Yes, I saw that, but there was no comparison to any baseline and the study authors did not even draw any conclusions based on that.

    Correlation most definitely does not equal causation. Let’s not confuse the issue.

    Regarding the international numbers, are you also taking out an equal percentage of poor kids from the other country’s data when you make that statement? If not, I’d say you’re really reaching with the spin.

  • 113. @#111  |  April 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Here is a link to the value added calculations:

  • 114. Grace  |  April 28, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Are you saying that small class size doesn’t have anything to do with student achievement? B/c there are a lot of school districts and private schools that must think otherwise. And education reformers are only talking about larger class sizes for poor urban school districts.

    The top scoring countries in PISA have a far lower percentage of children living in poverty than the US does. That would point to socioeconomic issues as having an impact on US scores.

  • 115. Grace  |  April 28, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Hawthorne mom, if you have the time, you might want to read through the value added calculations (see link above). They are used in the current CPS initiative called the Chicago Teacher Advancement Program (CTAP) to calculate the school’s value-added score — in order to calculate pay-for-performance for teachers.

    As I read this, a class’ growth in ISAT scores from the prior year is explained by external factors. The model subtracts this growth from the school’s absolute growth. The growth remaining is the value added by the school.

    First rolled out at 10 schools during the 2007-2008 school year, CTAP is backed by a $27.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education plus support from CPS and funders like the Joyce Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. It’s now in 11 schools.

  • 116. Performance pay...  |  April 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    I’m not saying it doesn’t. I’m just sayin you haven’t provided any evidence of it.

    But if I had the choice between a great teacher in a large class or a lousy teacher in a small class, I think I’d pick the great teacher, no?

    So, show me that the small class size is the cause of academic success and not the effect of being in a school with high socioeconomic status where academic success is the norm.

  • 117. Performance pay...  |  April 28, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Yes, but if we remove the scores of our richest students from the international rankings, then the remaining American students scores equal to Cambodia?

  • 118. Grace  |  April 29, 2011 at 7:01 am

    It’s been fun chatting with you, but why won’t you use a name?

  • 119. Grace  |  April 29, 2011 at 7:19 am

    It’s not a joke to many of us that the percentage of children living in poverty is the highest it has ever been in the US since the Great Depression. Or that a country with a very high level of child poverty would have lower PISA scores than countries whose policies provide a better safety net.

    But education reformers’ ideology doesn’t consider poverty rates a factor in their calculations, or do they?

    The value-added model you gave a link to said that some growth is explained by external factors, but did not specify what those factors are or how they are weighted.?

    Would you be able to enlighten us?

  • 120. cps parent  |  April 29, 2011 at 8:51 am

    The percentage of high achieving students in the US is smaller when compared to the percentage of high achieving students in top performing countries. The issues with student performance in the US cut across socio-economic groups.

    Master degrees if they are not in a subject matter of relevance — the topic area being taught do not indicate whether a teacher is an expert in that area. Many of the master degrees being earned and compensated for are for masters of education — which have little intellectual rigor. A measure of expertise in the topic area should be considered, nothing else and appropriately compensated for. Again…………unless teachers are culled from the top ranks rather than the bottom and unless expertise in the subject area is required — NOT a masters in education — little regarding teacher performance will change. Study after study indicates that an excellent teacher in the classroom is the number one success factor. Top ranked academics and experts in their respective subject area are in the classroom internationally. That’s why teachers have respect in those countries that lead the academic rankings and that’s why those countries lead those rankings. Take care of this and much of everything else will follow.

  • 121. Grace  |  April 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I’m sure that you can point us to those studies?

  • 122. Grace  |  April 29, 2011 at 10:52 am

    About the value-added model’s external growth factors — How are they determined, and how are they subtracted from the school’s absolute growth, and why?

    I’d like to understand the model better as it is the key to the reforms you support.

  • 123. Grace  |  April 29, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    This is from the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss. , It expresses better than I can the concerns about many of the proposed education changes.

    Posted at 04:30 PM ET, 04/27/2011

    Ravitch: When reformers reject data they don’t like

    This was written by education historian Diane Ravitch for her Bridging Differences blog, which she co-authors with Deborah Meier on the Education Week website. Ravitch and Meier exchange letters about what matters most in education. Ravitch, a research professor at New York University, is the author of the bestselling “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” an important critique of the flaws in the modern school reform movement.

    Dear Deborah,

    One of the most interesting books I have read in recent months is Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions .” I was particularly interested in Chapter 5, where he explains the difference between social norms—where people act because they are motivated by a sense of idealism or purpose, and market norms—where people act because they are motivated by a desire for more money.

    As I read his words, I realized that the goal of the corporate education reform movement is to push market norms into education.

    The corporate reformers assume that teachers aren’t working hard enough and will work harder if they have the lure of more money and if they compete with one another. Ariely’s studies say this is wrong, and it won’t work.

    Last fall, the POINT study from the National Center for Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University also showed that merit pay based on test scores did not produce higher test scores. Curiously, the corporate reform movement likes to talk about data-driven decisions, but reformers ignore any data that doesn’t support what they want to do. For example, when the Vanderbilt study of merit pay was published, the U.S. Department of Education immediately released nearly $500 million for—what else—more merit-pay programs, and promised that another $500 million would be forthcoming.

    Data mean nothing when your mind is made up.

    Similarly, when data from Milwaukee showed that vouchers don’t improve test scores in either public schools or voucher schools, the corporate reformers didn’t care. When the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, data for Milwaukee showed that African-American public school students there—after 21 years of vouchers—scored below African-American students in the Deep South, the corporate reformers didn’t care.

    Our education system is relentlessly pursuing higher test scores, and everyone feels the pressure. When USA Today produced evidence of widespread cheating, the corporate reformers refused to recognize that their policies encourage the pressures that lead to cheating. When the cheating scandal focused on test scores in Washington, D.C., the corporate reformers brought out their heavy guns to argue that it wasn’t true, it couldn’t be true, and even if it were true, it didn’t matter. When the eminent National Research Council said that it was inappropriate to judge the progress of a school district by test scores, the corporate reformers scoffed.

    I get letters every day from teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents lamenting how federal policy is ruining their schools, damaging children’s lives, and demoralizing teachers. This one came today from a superintendent: “]My district] borders the Navajo Reservation. Twenty-nine percent of our students are Native American and 29 percent are Hispanic. We have high poverty, mobility, and many single-parent families, and [we] truly struggle to meet the needs of our students. [Average Yearly Progress] ratings discourage our staff. Media blames the schools, and budgets keep going down.”

    What do the corporate reformers have to say to this superintendent? Will they fire her and half her staff and send in Harvard and Princeton graduates for two years? Will they close her school or turn it over to a charter chain? Will they do this to thousands of schools? Do they have any ideas that might keep her and her staff from losing hope?

    If we drive out those who are motivated by social norms, who will teach? How can we hope to have a stable education profession if we lose those who want to make education their career knowing full well that they will never get rich?

    This superintendent and her teachers did not go into teaching to compete with the school in the next county or to fight one another for dollars. They entered what they thought was a profession where they could make a difference in the lives of children. They, and hundreds of thousands of educators like them, don’t understand how they became Public Enemy No. 1.

    Perhaps the best letter that I received about the clash between federal policy and the realities in the schools was written by California teacher Paul Karrer. (The letter first appeared in Education Week’s Commentary section.) I and many others posted it on the Internet, because it so poignantly expressed what so many teachers experience. Please read and share it.

    Many years from now, when No Child Left Behind and the Race to the Top have long been forgotten or remembered only by historians as a disgraceful chapter in the history of American education, people like the superintendent who contacted me and her staff will still be struggling to meet the multiple needs of the forgotten children of our society.

    Someday, after this dark era has fallen into the dustbin of history, into that place where ignoble ideas go, I hope we will learn from our mistakes. If we are wise, we will have better ideas about improving our schools. Instead of the risky schemes now so popular among certain economists — like firing 5 to 10 percent of the teachers every year; or the punishments associated with NCLB and the Race to the Top, like firing staff and closing schools — we will hopefully have an education system where those who give their lives to the education of children get the respect and honor they deserve. And where parents, educators, and policymakers alike understand the difference between higher test scores and genuine education.

    Diane Ravitch


  • 124. cps parent  |  April 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    From the Christian Science Monitor, March 17, 2011, The report that this article is based on is cited in the text.
    The Monitor’s View
    Next US education reform: Higher teacher quality
    A new study shows teacher quality is the most important lesson that America can learn from top-ranked education countries such as Finland and Singapore. Teacher unions and states will need to work on this together.

    1Share0 By the Monitor’s Editorial Board / March 17, 2011

    Compared with more than 70 economies worldwide, America’s high school students continue to rank only average in reading and science, and below average in math. But this sorry record for a wealthy nation can be broken if the US focuses on recruiting and keeping first-rate teachers.

    That’s the conclusion of a new paper that looks at the latest achievement tests of 15-year-olds in the 34 developed countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as many other nations.

    America has been trying to raise its academic standards for more than two decades, an effort that cannot be abandoned in tough times. But it can learn more from other countries about the difficult task of teacher training, selection, and compensation – even as cash-strapped states take on teacher unions.

    The government-union wrangling would be less if both sides focused on quality investments in better teachers. The goal is not debatable. Studies show that matching quality teachers with disadvantaged students is an effective way to close the black-white achievement gap. Good teachers are more effective than small class sizes, for instance.

    For starters, the United States needs to increase its pool of quality teachers. Almost half of its K-12 teachers come from the bottom third of college classes. Classroom leaders such as Singapore, South Korea, and Finland select from the top ranks. In Finland, only 1 in 10 applicants is accepted into teacher training.

    Part of the hurdle in the US is compensation. Teaching offers job security but not great pay compared with other professions that top college graduates might choose. As states tussle over budgets, one solution might be to lower teacher benefits and end tenure while bulking up salaries.

    And yet pay isn’t the only consideration. Last year, 11 percent of graduates from US elite colleges applied to the federally funded Teach for America program. Participants teach in low-achieving rural and urban districts for two years.

    In Finland, teachers earn only about what their American counterparts do (US teacher pay starts, on average, at $39,000). The difference is that in Finland, teaching is a high-status, well-respected job, right up there with doctoring and lawyering.

    Another US hurdle is teacher training. Many states require a master’s degree in education in order to be certified to teach. This automatically locks out a talented population such as second-career experts in a field who don’t want to invest the time or money in a graduate degree that’s often short on classroom skills and long on pedagogy.

    President Obama’s “Race to the Top” fund encourages states through competitive grants to open up alternative, effective routes to teacher certification. Hopefully, that fund will survive budget cutting (same for Teach for America).

    Public schools won’t be able to attract and keep high quality teachers if they don’t reward and develop them once they get into the classroom.

    That’s next to impossible given the standard operating procedure of teacher unions. As the nation is witnessing, a rigid rule such as last-hired, first-fired lops off enthusiastic newcomers in favor of those with seniority. Experience is important in education, but it does not always add up to quality. Performance must be the determiner.

    Unions need to accept that the main goal is high teacher performance and student outcomes, not job preservation. That’s what the teacher union did in Ontario, Canada, according to the paper based on the OECD findings.

    Teachers in Ontario are heavily organized. Yet, in 2003, the union and the premier of Ontario reached a grand bargain based on the need to elevate student achievement.

    “The educators, through their union, agreed to accept responsibility for their own learning and the learning of their students; the government agreed to supply all of the necessary support,” according to the report.

    The paper, called “What the U.S. Can Learn from the World’s Most Successful Education Reform Efforts,” says that Ontario students subsequently shot up from the bottom to the top of test scores.

    Investing in high quality teaching is necessary to boost US economic competitiveness. The study argues that the US also needs to elevate the teaching profession to one of high status and respect. But respect doesn’t come overnight. Government and educators will have to earn it by working together to improve teacher quality.

  • 125. Grace  |  April 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Can you link me to the actual study, authors, university of the paper, entitled “What the U.S. Can Learn from the World’s Most Successful Education Reform Efforts.”

    I’d like to see the actual numbers on the Ontario students who subsequently shot up from the bottom to the top of test scores.

  • 126. Grace  |  April 30, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Sun Times’ Roz Rossi talks about the last Board of Ed meeting.
    Here’s a brief excerpt …

    “Board members approved the renewal of Urban Prep-Englewood’s charter even though the school failed to meet its accountability targets, due to low test scores. Only 17 percent of Urban Prep juniors passed their state exams last year, far lower than the district average of 29 percent. On the positive side, that beats the 8.4 percent passing rate in the neighborhood schools that Urban Prep kids would normally attend.”

  • 127. Grace  |  May 1, 2011 at 9:55 am

    From: Public Education Network Weekly News Blast

    At its core, the current education reform movement believes that great teachers and improved methods are all that’s required to improve student performance, writes Joe Nocera in The New York Times. In fact, it takes a lot more. Nocera recounts the story of a Brooklyn student who, despite exceptional intelligence and a teacher willing to go above and beyond for him, still succumbs to circumstances. Nocera says we shouldn’t be surprised.

    Starting with the Coleman report in the 1960s, social scientists have proven that socioeconomic backgrounds vastly outweigh what goes on in the school as factors determining how much students learn — yet reformers act as if home life is irrelevant.

    Former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein conceded to Nocera that beyond a doubt, family engagement matters, yet according to Klein, “they seem to be saying that poverty is destiny, so let’s go home. To let us off the hook prematurely seems, to me, to play into the hands of the other side.” This last sentence is key, Nocera explains: Reformers fear that to admit the importance of a student’s background is to give ammunition to the enemy (social-scientist critics and the teachers’ unions). Without question, the latest reforms have achieved progress, Nocera says, but he would like to see acknowledgement that school reform won’t fix everything.

    Read more:

  • 128. cpsobsessed  |  May 1, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Grace, thanks for posting all this great stuff. Incredibly interesting! I’m just getting caught up now after a hectic week.

    In regards to reformers ignoring kids’ poverty backgrounds, what do you think about that? My sense was that the reformers who support these schools like Urban Prep fully embrace the idea of counterbalancing the obstacles they face with these kids. The intense mentoring programs, the strict rules, the ongoing mentioning of college as a goal, etc. are all designed to give these kids goals and extreme structure specifically to overcome their backgrounds, right?

    Man, those numbers for Urban Prep are depressing. Well, I guess impressive compared to the neighborhood but still. Yikes.

  • 129. Grace  |  May 1, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I think that is exactly right. Their efforts — mentoring, strict rules — are paying off, the progress is real, if not as great as sometimes claimed, and we all want to be positive about these children and their futures. I don’t want to exchange teacher bashing for charter bashing. We won’t if we are fair in assessing the progress of charters and avoid exaggerating the problems of traditional CPS schools and teachers. One can complement the other in certain situations.

    Until I started looking at this, I didn’t know that according to the ISBE school report card you won’t find charters among the top performing schools or among the school that have made the most progress with their students (value-added). So CPS has been doing some things right!

  • 130. Grace  |  May 1, 2011 at 11:26 am

    NPR’s most emailed sstoires, includes a Terry Gross interview with Diane Ravitch.


    Ravitch: Standardized Testing Undermines Teaching

    Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch explains why she was once an early advocate of No Child Left Behind, school vouchers and charter schools — and what changed her mind.

  • 131. Grace  |  May 1, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Diane Ravitch on teachers unions

    “They’re not the problem. The state with the highest scores on the national test, that state is Massachusetts — which is 100 percent union. The nation with the highest scores in the world is Finland, which is 100 percent union. Management and labor can always work together around the needs of children if they’re willing to. I think what’s happening in Wisconsin and Ohio and Florida and Indiana is very, very conservative right-wing governors want to break the unions because the unions provide support to the Democratic Party. But the unions really aren’t the problem in education.”

  • 132. Backyard  |  May 1, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Good stuff, Grace!

  • 133. momorama  |  May 4, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Does anyone know what company has the contract to grade all of the ISAT tests?

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