Rahm’s Education Platform (Guest Post by HSObsessed)
Hi all, as usual I am overwhelmed with work and child-wrangling (son got sent to the principal’s office and I was such a goody goody in school I don’t even know how to process it. Luckily principals are a lot cooler these days, versus my school days when kids got paddled! To clarify, BOYS got paddled. So he just got a very well-thought-out talking to.)
HSObsessed has been nice enough to pull together some info on Rahm’s promises to us so we can dissect them. She apologizes for the lack of pithy comments but she/we can always add those in the comment section. I am going to pull together any constructive discussion and try to get it into the hands of someone on his team who might be interested.
I also saw this story today on the Huffington Post, but haven’t had time to read it all yet. From my initial skimming of it, my first pithy insight is that he is good with the sound bytes!
Mayor Emanuel’s CPS Agenda?
Rahm Emanuel will be taking over the mayor’s office on Monday the 16th. He got our votes by making lots of promises, and many of them had to do with CPS. Let’s hold him to his word, and demand that he actually make some of these education promises a reality over the next four years. Below is a summary, with quotes taken from his Education Agenda statement, published on his ChicagoForRahm.com election website.
What do you think he should make a top priority? Which one doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Lollapalooza of succeeding?
Allow good principals to replicate their successes: “Highly effective principals …[will have] the opportunity to manage additional schools, ultimately creating a network of schools that they would lead.”
Put principals’ feet to the fire: “A five-year contract — signed between the principal and CPS — will set clear expectations and accountability. Any leadership team that fails to live up … the school could then be closed, turned over to new management, or have its leadership team and staff replaced.” (The contracts would cover test scores but also standards of student and staff attendance, parent involvement, graduation rates, fiscal responsibility.)
More decision-making power for effective principals: “Increased autonomy … the ability to personalize their use of time, people and money… successful principals will receive greater authority to purchase services from inside or outside the district.”
Eliminate the Assistant Principal title: The APs’ titles would change to Director of Family and Community Engagement, and that person will “manage all extended time programming (extended day, week and year) and would be charged with parent organizing, training, and enlisting assets of parents into the school.”
Develop the next generation of teachers and principals: double the number of teacher residency programs in the city, create a similar academy that produces 50 new principals a year.
Change teacher layoff policies: “In Chicago’s schools, layoffs are typically done by seniority. Rahm will change that policy to ensure that those who are laid off are the least effective teachers, not the most junior. This will require a new teacher evaluation system based on a comprehensive assessment of instructional quality and student performance, not simply results from one annual exam.”
Create a local competition similar to the national Race to the Top: “The Chicago Education Innovation Fund would entice schools across the city to compete to achieve the most — measured by their ability to involve parents, train and support teachers, and get student results…”
School report card: Parents will be given a report card that reflects the school’s letter grades on criteria like “school improvement and organization, school safety, student attendance, staff attendance, graduation rate and entry into post-secondary education.”
Parent “trigger”: “If a majority of parents in a failing school sign a petition, they can force a transformation of the school — either by inviting a new school operator to take it over, by forcing certain administrative changes, or by shutting it down outright.”
Parent-Teacher agreements would be required to “build clear expectations for how parents should provide extended education opportunities for their children — from watching less television to reading together each night.”
Lengthen the school day and lengthen the school year. Include academic, athletic, arts, sports, and on-line programming in the lengthened school day.
Create new high school options via replicating successful neighborhood high schools, magnet high schools, and developing new schools.
Try to prevent high school dropouts, and weed out troublemakers: “Targeted investments in increased social supports for children with the greatest barriers to academic learning” but also create “a deeper network of alternative [high] schools for students who do not succeed in the mainstream.”
If you drop out, you don’t drive: “Rahm will push for a law that immediately revokes the drivers license of any student who drops out of high school.”
Adopt common core standards: Rahm proposed that Chicago adopt “new federal college- and career-ready curriculum standards.” (This appears to apply to high schools, but it’s not clear.)
Streamline central office: “Task the new CEO with shrinking the district office footprint.”