Budget time — where is the money coming from?

June 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm 188 comments

So I think most CPS parents got a memo last week from Brizard about how they have “crafts school budgets that greatly minimize negative impacts on our classrooms and protect investments in the most critical program areas.”  These included:

-No reductions to early childhood education (despite state cuts to the program) which supports 37,000 kids from birth to age 8.

-Maintaining investments in Kindergarten allowing 131 schools to provide full day K for 11,000 students (mostly in low-income neighborhoods) **as a note, this is over 1/3 of CPS Kindergarteners.**

-Maintain magnet school programming at 264 schools, preserving opportunities for fine arts, Montessori, and math and science enrichment for 150,000 students.

-Core class size will remain the same

-Maintain World Language programs, preserving the teaching of 12 languages to more than 87,000 students at 237 schools

-Maintain funding for 40,000 students served by the Culture of Calm initiative, which focuses on improving attendance, behavior, and academic outcomes at 38 schools with high safety needs.

Because of the severity of the budget deficit, we can’t maintain every program at the same funding level as this fiscal year.  Some schools will see a reduction in funding for supplemental teaching positions and other staff.  Many schools may be able to keep these positions on staff through the use of their discretionary dollars, which we are also funding at the same level of the upcoming school year.

******

So my son’s school reports that we will retain:

We are pleased to announce that the following Neighborhood, Options, and Special Education programs and classrooms will continue for the 2011-2012 school year:

  • All classroom positions (PreK to 8th grade)
  • Art
  • Science
  • Gym
  • Computer Science
  • Library
  • Counselor
  • Assistant Principal
  • Language

So my impression is that our school (which is not highly low income – maybe 50% at this point?) is retaining full day K and 6 free preK classes, which is a bit surprising.  We don’t have music and I *think* that language is funded via the Friends of tand Options program.  But I feel lucky to keep art and library.

For those who need a 1-minute primer on school funding, schools get Board money based on the number of students they have.  Money is allotted for teaching positions and some “extras” based on enrollment.  Discretionary funds is the extra money a school gets based on the number of lower income students they have.  This money can be used for things like full day K and extra teachers to reduce class size.  Obviously this makes sense conceptually, but it’s difficult when you’re part of a school that is gentrifying and losing it’s lower income students to see budgets slashed severely year after year, so library, music, art, gym, etc is cut.  It’s a fact of life in CPS and results in the need for fundraisers to try to make up for some of the lost money.

In previous years, we sweated it out until literally the week before school started on some of this stuff (ie PreK funding) so I respect Brizard for committing to a lot of this early on (and I suppose sweating out other non-classrooom budget cuts in August.)  Definitely a nice touch.  I just can’t help but wonder WHAT will be cut?  Has to happen somewhere, right?

Report in on what you’re hearing at your own schools.
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Lake View High School to select a new principal Some intital input from Brizard

188 Comments Add your own

  • 1. 2ndtimearound  |  June 11, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    I think I read about reductions in Support Staff.Also, somewhere else, I thought I read about cuts in the Central Office.

  • 2. Wondering  |  June 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Cps obsessed, did your son’s school send a letter to parents reporting what would be maintained under the new budget, or did you have to ask?

  • 3. Hawthorne mom  |  June 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    CPS obsessed, you asked what would be cut. The new board of ed is sworn in and meets, I believe on the 14th. There was one very glaring thing missing from those budgets. Teacher raises. Most of us teachers believe that when the board meets on the 14th, it will declare a fiscal emergency, thus allowing the city to back out of the teacher contract and to say it cannot afford the raises. The raises account for about 10% of the current budget deficit (80 out of nearly 800 million). The board of ed has until the 15th of June, by law, to declare the fiscal emergency. I am fully expecting we’ll wake up on the 15th (or perhaps hear about it on the 10 o’clock news on the 14th) to that being announced.
    Brizard has cut about 75 million from central office.
    Essentially, the state will have to get loans for the rest or simply write checks that there really isn’t money in the bank to back up.
    We have to wait and see.
    I could support the freeze in pay if and only if Brizard gives back the 20K raise he got over his predecessor (as well as his city car and driver….I mean, if teachers have to provide the basics for their rooms, our CEO can figure out how to drive to his meetings) and if our mayor and other city paid leaders all give up any and all raises they have or will get.

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  June 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    @2 Wondering: We got an email from the LSC. (sent, I think, from one central group who also sends the PTO and other important emails.) The school itself is probably on par with CPS schools in terms of communication, but the parents and LSC are quite organized and fairly communicative, which is nice. I don’t see a ton of LSC news, but I guess since this was good news and they knew people were wondering about PreK and K they figured it was worth a timely announcement.

    Also, forgot to mention that the school is deciding on open campus (extended recess) very soon. I’m pleased to hear that some other schools are implementing this. It’s great to see the momentum building. Yet I’m sure there are logistical hassles, so I’m curious to see how it all happens.

    It’s funny about the name “open campus.” My mother in law has told me that when her oldest child was in CPS, she would come home every day for lunch. It’s just how it was done back then. Such a different time (probably circa 1964 or so.)

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  June 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    @3 Hawthorne mom: wow, very interesting. From a “strategic” point of view, I have to say, it’s a smart plan. Give the news early that will please the parents, then give the news later that the teachers are the ones getting screwed this year (in a year when teachers’ unions are not quite so popular.) Versus last year just leaving everyone hanging until late August, right? Will certainly be interesting to see how it plays out.

    I found out that InterAmerican’s school auction will include a meeting with Brizard as one of its auction items. I was thinking that if I had money to burn, I’d go for it, but I’m not even sure what I’d say at this point…. probably more curious to hear what he has planned (which I’m sure he’s not about to divulge in a random auction lunch. Especially to some CPS blogger! I would tell him it was all “off the record.” 🙂

  • 6. Cheryl  |  June 11, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    I agree with Hawthrone mom. If the rank and file have to take a cut (and it will be a cut when you factor in the raise of health care and taxes as well as any future dealings with pension deductions) all the administration heads from the Mayor down should take a cut as well. Heck, why hasn’t Quinn taken a cut seeing that the state is bankrupt?

    My school saw a decrease in funding because of the student population numbers. The State and Federal discretionary funds are also determined by student population numbers and that funding went down as well. Hence we will lose teachers. It doesn’t matter that the intermediate grades will have up to 35 students in a room because it is figured by total population.

    The extended time is just to add recess and not instruction. How does a school watch over these kids during that ‘free’ time and make sure they don’t walk off the school grounds? Closed campus means the kids do not go home. We can’t have open campus as parents are working and not at home to monitor the kids. What does a school do when there is inclement weather? And the CPS suggestion is to have teachers give up 15 minutes to monitor the students. The logistics need to be worked out before implementing it. The failure of the universal breakfast is an example. It does not take 10 minutes away, it takes more like 25 – 30 minutes. Suddenly we are going through more garbage bags and the garbage pick up has been doubled to handle the overload. Since the rooms do not get mopped every day, the bugs have started to find the crumbs and spilt milk. Schools pick up this cost not Central Office.

  • 7. magnet mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I think the open vs. closed changes really depend on the different needs of each school. What works for one doesn’t fit another in terms of managing staffing and supervision of the kids. If the state adds a mandatory longer day what happens to the length of the day at schools that have already extended their day? Does anyone know if they simply shorten it again? Just curious.

  • 8. cps Mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Hawthorn mom – I read that Brizard is not taking a bonus or the car, which his predecessors did take and his salary is lower than his former position. He seems reasonable about taking the hit on his end.

    Did anyone see the Suntimes article about teachers salaries? It contained a listing of all CPS teachers and their salaries for 2010 (I’m finding out that the numbers listed are low). When I check out the names I know I have to say that in my opinion they are adequately to over paid. I know that annual raises are part and parcel with most professions but in this regard, newbies out of college work at slave labor prices and experienced workers top out in salary if they continue to do the same job year after year. I see teachers right out of school making over $50,000 and an elementary school librarian making $85,000. I would wholeheartedly support a complete revamp of the salary structure not just blanket raises.

    Some schools are losing teachers or making them part time. They are budgeting creatively by not replacing teachers that leave and giving an allotted admin position to a teacher. Some high schools are adding students in order to keep teachers. School activities are taking a hit unless you can fund raise for it.

  • 9. Concerned Mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    @#3 Hawthorne Mom: If CPS declares a fiscal emergency the state WILL NOT bail CPS out. I am a state employee and I can tell you we are broke. What ever ISBE has designated is CPS’ share of the funding of education is all that CPS will get.

    My understanding is that if or when CPS declares a fiscal emergency THEN the teachers contract can be opened and ALL parts can be renegotiated. IF or when the governor signs SB7 then it will make it harder if not impossible for the teachers to strike. However, it is very likely that a trailer bill will be signed which will make it a little easier to strike. Right now SB7 includes language that 75% of the membership which includes members who ARE NOT eligible to vote, i.e retired teachers. The trailer bill will change that language to 75% of members WHO ARE eligible to vote. But, 75% is still a lofty number. I think teachers are fed up and once that trailer bill is signed may all unite to strike.

    In addition to teacher raises not being included in the school budgets—the principals raises were also not included. I also have not seen any information as to whether principals, central office staff & area staff will continue to be required to take furlough days.

    Now on to recess—in the current contract if recess is moved to the middle of the day the current contract states that it is to be “duty free.” Therefore, teachers aren’t required to supervise children on the playground. Schools have until the 2011-2012 school year to vet this issue with parents & staff. Then with the majority vote of a committee (3 LSC parent, union rep, principal and one teacher from the 3 grade level cycles) recess will be implemented the following school year.

    Now, here is my guess the union will not agree to an extension of the school day without more pay for the teachers. I hypothesize as a happy medium the teachers will get the 4% raise ONLY if they agree to extend the school year (and if all other negotiated items in the contract stay the same). However, where the money will come from is unknown. Although, it will take a while (if the trailer bill is passed) I think we are looking at a strike this year. It would be sad but there is a lot of mismanagement of school money out there at all levels—central office, area offices & at the school level and although I am not a teacher, I don’t believe they should not receive their raises. They pay too much out of their pockets for things the board should fund and most of them work in conditions that we could never imagine, i.e hot classrooms, parents who don’t care, mouthy/disrespectful teens, etc.

  • 10. classical mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Our school (Skinner North) just approved the open campus model for 2011-2012. The school day will be from 9 am – 3:30 pm. All grades will have a 15 min recess following their 30 min lunch (instead of the 30 min lunch/recess they currently have now). The other 30 extra minutes will lengthen instructional time. Our principal actually wanted to implement the open campus model 2 years ago, when the school opened, but because of busing, he was told he could not. Because of this year’s big push to add recess to the school day, he was able to make the change for 2011-12.

    I am absolutely thrilled with the change! If you calculate out the increased instructional time, my kids will have 3 extra weeks of school next year. That’s huge. What a benefit!

  • 11. Concerned Mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    @#7 Magnet Mom: There are two issues that you may be confused about. The recess extension of the day is really the teachers having lunch in the middle of the day instead of at the end of the day. Most school staff voted probably before we had any kids to have lunch at the end of the day. The teachers put their two 10 minute breaks together and have lunch in order to leave (or end the school) day earlier. Having lunch in the middle or at the end of the day WILL NOT add instructional minutes to the school day. Any school can vote at any time to put lunch for teachers back in the middle of the day.

    SB7 is vehicle that Rahm is using to extend the school day by ADDING instructional minutes. I have not read the bill in its entirety and I’m not sure if he can just force it upon teachers or if it has to be negotiated. Now, you’ve got me interested and I plan to read the entire bill. Others can go to ilga.gov and use the search engine to find the full version of the bill.

  • 12. To Classical Mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    I don’t understand how you calculate 30 extra minutes of instructional time. If cps.edu is correct Skinner North’s school hours are 9:15-3pm, which is the standard 5 hour and 45 minute day. The original way Skinner was having recess/lunch for 30 minutes actually took away 10 minutes of instruction time away daily. If school will now let out at 3:30, which if they added the 45 minutes then school should let out at 3:45pm not 3:30pm. I don’t believe Skinner is gaining any instructional minutes and it sounds like the teachers didn’t want to add the full 45 minutes and instead did 30 minutes to compromise. Please explain where the extra 3 weeks of school comes from unless you are counting it in the non-instructional minutes and it now sounds like Skinner’s students will lose an additonal fifteen minutes of instructional time–but hey I was never good at math 😉

  • 13. classical mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    @12- No, my calculations are correct. As I mentioned in my post, Skinner North’s school hours will now be 9 am to 3:30 pm. So there is an additional 45 minutes added to their day (15 mins in the morning and 30 at the end of the day), of which 30 minutes will be increased instructional time.

    My calculations are 30 minutes per day x 5 days per week = 2.5 extra hours per week. I believe there are 9 weeks in each marking period. So 2.5 hours x 36 weeks = 90 extra hours per year. That’s where I got my extra 3 weeks.

  • 14. cps Mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    @9 – not all teachers have to deal with mouthy teenagers, hot classrooms or parents that don’t care. A librarian doesn’t have to spend time outside of school grading papers. A writing teacher that takes a lot of pride in actually reading and commenting on students work is going to spend a great deal of personal time grading vs. a 1st grade teacher that has students fill in blanks or even another writing teacher that doesn’t read the work they assign. Some teachers make themselves available outside of school hours to help kids and others don’t. I think all these factors should be considered individually. Dealing with mouthy teenagers, parents that don’t care and teaching kids that can’t afford supplies is all part of the challenge that some deal with better than others – also a consideration for teacher performance.

  • 15. To Classical Mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    So you aren’t talking about additional instructional minutres. You are talking about extending the day for recess & lunch then you will have more time in school.I forgot the original start time was 9:15. So the teachers or committee did add the full 45 minutes. It’s good because before they were taking away instructional minutes. I also agree with magnet moms. Some schools may not be in a position to have recess because of crime in the area. I think each school community will have to figure this out.

    Different things I’ve been reading about SB7 makes it seem like the mayor can make the teachers work longer to add instructional minutes to the day but a document on the CTU website states that teachers still retain to right to bargain over pay for the additonal time. If the mayor extends the day does that mean he MUST pay the teachers? Where will he get the money? Can the teachers just walk out of the schools at the regular time if they are not going to get paid?!? Does anyone know?

  • 16. To#14  |  June 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I get what you are saying some of the ancillary teachers or teachers who do a poor job do not deserve their raises. There isn’t anything that can be quickly done about it or fair/impartial evaluation to decide who should get raises. But being a public employee myself I will say this…when times are great and the economy is booming no one ever says hey let’s open the contract to give the teachers more money, especially when private sector employees get bonuses and salary increases way above 4%. I’m just sayin’

  • 17. Hawthorne mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    From what I understand, and I could be wrong, is that the state can now put forward any kind of school day/year, and yes, teachers can bargain, but now, they (we) have very little power to put teeth into our bargaining. (unless we strike) Kind of like class size limits in CPS. 28 is the limit. But schools can make class sizes larger as they need to. Teachers can formally grieve the class size, but 99% of the time nothing happens.
    I do agree with #9. There will be no rescue from the state. I know that when I run out of money in my bank account, and I write checks, the checks bounce. This is the position the state is in. I wonder what happens when this all finally catches up with us? Will teachers get checks that bounce?

    #8, your comments about teacher pay are confusing to me. You talked about kids out of college getting slave labor wages and veterans making 85K (which sounded like you think that is too much?) Can you explain further? You do realize that the librarian making 85K probably has 20+ years in the system and a graduate degree and actually teaches language arts 5/7 periods a day with no shelving help (which means two full time jobs for that librarian….teaching lang. arts and being the librarian). CPS notoriously misuses their librarians as additional language arts teachers. (I am married to a HS librarian in the burbs who makes nowhere near 85k, and he wouldn’t touch CPS with a ten foot pole–smart man) Perhaps I misunderstood you? It is hard to read tone on a blog. You came across as saying that 50K is slave wages and that 85K is too much. Is that what you meant?

  • 18. cps Mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I was comparing in general teachers vs other professions. For example, when a student graduates and starts working in the business sector they make somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000 (feel free to correct me on this number) and need to work evenings and weekends to make deadlines. Many college grads are moving in with their parents or taking on temp work. Annual raises are not automatic, they are issued by performance and no matter how many years of service you have in, the job tops out at a specific number.

    The librarian mentioned above does not teach language arts, has shelving help in the form of parent volunteers (giving up mornings on their way to work at their lower paying jobs) and upper grade students. Does have a masters and 20+ experience.

    Yes – when things are booming and the big bonuses and increases are there, deserving teachers should certainly be rewarded more than 4% and bonus for going above and beyond.

  • 19. classical mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    @15 No, the extra 30 mins (or 20 mins, as you suggest because they have a 30 min lunch/recess now) is instructional time. It is split between the specials classes (music, gym, spanish) and regular class time. I believe the teachers signed union waivers.

  • 20. Hawthorne mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Ah, #18, that makes more sense, sort of at least. I will point out that beginning teachers (especially beginners) typically work from the time they get up until the time they go to bed and all weekend. Really. Any teacher will tell you the first year of teaching is solely and purely about survival. It gets better after that first year, and by the 3rd or 4th year, teachers can often get by with 60 hours a week, if it is an easy week. At least that was my experience and the experience of every other teacher I know. I’d also point out that no office worker or business person I know has to pay for their own office supplies. Teachers have to plan on 5-10% of their pay going to the classroom, and that is a big chunk.
    I think this is less about teachers being paid too much and more of some other professions being paid too little. It is no wonder people unionize! You can’t live in the city on 30K a year, or not well at least! That is what Catholic schools pay!
    I remember seeing an article in the Trib a few years ago that stated a person needs to make at least 45K a year to be able to afford a 2 bedroom apartment in a median priced area.
    CPS has to offer a higher wage to attract teachers to a district that is, generally, so much more demanding than most suburbs (not all). Why would anyone take a job with 32+ in a room, typically no parental support, no administrative support, not enough supplies, sometimes an unsafe building with sometimes violent students, and at the very least, some of the most difficult to work with students for 35K? When one can go to say, LaGrange (not that there are any jobs to be had at this point but that is another story) and make 35K a year as a starting salary, and have support all around and a class of 20 kids who mostly come ready to learn? If we want teachers to come to a system as bad as CPS, we have to pay them more.

  • 21. A teacher  |  June 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Many new grads in a variety of professions make something in the ball park of $50,000, not so much with teachers. I started teaching 10 years ago, and started at around $28,000 a year, now with a masters and a decade in my profession…I’m making little more than most new grads do. I love my work and don’t complain about what I make, I take issue with other people having an issue with my hard earned salary. My point is that my “raises” barely cover the cost of living and the requirement of living in city as expensive as Chicago is. I grade papers, call parents, conference, lesson plan etc. on my own time and I don’t nickel and dime the system for it. Just my 2 cents…

  • 22. Hawthorne mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    @14. I’m the husband of Hawthorne Mom and I am a librarian. I can’t speak for other librarians but I can say that I do have grading. I may not grade every night but we have projects in which I am part of the grading process. We also have to read constantly to stay on top of young adult AND adult literature (teenagers read a wide range of books). I spend AT LEAST 15 hours a week reading (my commute is 3 hours a day by train and I always read on the train). We also are on a number of committees as well as plan various events for the school throughout the year. There is also ongoing professional development (I love webinars) as well as keeping up to date with current technology. At my school we work with the teachers to develop curriculum and have an integral role in the social studies and English departments (we’re trying to get math and science in more). Unfortunately there are a number of librarians out there that don’t do any of these things, they basically just buy and check out books. Those few librarians give the rest of us a bad name, but make no mistake, there are a number of us that absolutely earn our pay. We call ourselves Teacher/Librarians because we are Teachers.

    At the end of our year we saw around 180 freshman for social studies classes on global issues. We spent a week with these students. We taught them lessons on research (using databases), reading for information, and citations. We assessed them and gave them feedback. This is not just a one time thing, we do this throughout the entire year.

  • 23. Wanderer  |  June 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    When calculating additional instructional minutes in the schoolyear, how are Professional Development and report card pick-up days factored in? Anyone know?

  • 24. Librarians  |  June 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    CPS Mom, one of my children’s schools doesn’t even have a librarian and the librarian at my other son’s school works her but off. She pulls out groups of students who need help, has classes with 11 rooms, leads/organizes various activities for the school. I am not sure that most librarians have droves of parents offering to help shelve books and maybe some schools use students if they can.

    I’m not sure what schools your children attend because you sound a bit jaded about teachers. I will say this…at one of my children’s school I think all of the teachers/staff deserve a raise. Some of the teachers are MORE excellent than others but all of the teachers/staff are excellent and deserve their pay and more. At my other child’s school 99% of the teachers/staff deserve the pay & the 1% that deosn’t won’t be back next school year.

    Teachers put in a lot of hours that they don’t even get paid for and buy so much for their classrooms and students. It is not an easy job whether you work at classical/gifted/magnet schools or neighborhood schools. The difficulties and dynamics are a bit different but many of the teachers deserve their raises. I know CPS has some rotten apples that spoil it for all but I have seen some amazing teaching and efforts at both of my children’s school. Although, I would hate a strike, the teachers have my full support if they do!

  • 25. Paul  |  June 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    To Wanderer at #23, my understanding is that professional development days and report card pickup days do not count in instructional minutes. CPS requires that all schools add 8 minutes of instruction time to each school day in order to bank time and make up for additional professional development days where no student instruction occurs.

  • 26. magnet mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I’d just like to say the specials teachers at my child’s school work beyond hard. Our librarian is an integral part of our curriculum and the development of special activities and projects year round. She opens the library for research assistance whenever she is not teaching a class in the library. We have a constant stream of new books in all ages and genres- the best new books always. Shelved and taken care of on top of everything else.
    I couldn’t even describe our art teacher and her impact on every single student school wide. She probably buys a sickening total of supplies beyond what we try to assist with.
    Can we try to give teachers the respect they deserve. After seven years of CPS I have to say I have not come a cross one teacher that my children have had at their school that isn’t working incredibly hard. Lucky probably but I feel very frustrated when they bear the brunt of our city’s disfunction.

  • 27. magnet mom  |  June 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    oops that’s dysfunction

  • 28. CPS grad  |  June 12, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    No one should say a teacher is overpaid until they have spent a year running a classroom.

  • 29. working mom  |  June 13, 2011 at 6:46 am

    …not only do the teachers spend their own money for supplies for their classrooms, I overheard a teacher at my child’s school this year telling the principal that “we raised the $50 or $100 to buy STUDENT A some clothes.” On top of that, the both of them arranged who would go to the store that evening to buy the clothes! Maybe this is common in CPS esp since I am new to the system with my kindergartener, but I had never seen anything like this before. I wanted to cry bc it was during the winter when I witnessed this ” dedication to education !” *sniff – sniff*

  • 30. Hawthorne mom  |  June 13, 2011 at 6:52 am

    @29, Buying food, clothes, glasses, paying for medical care, etc, by school staff is fairly common in schools all over. Maybe not so much in the schools with low rates of poverty kids, but everywhere else, it is. (meaning 90% of CPS) Some staff have been known to go as far as adopting or fostering their students if needed.

  • 31. copyeditor  |  June 13, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Whether or not teachers “deserve” more pay is a moot point; we don’t have infinite amounts of money to pay. I think teachers do a lot of damage with the “I work 90 hours a week and I make less money than everyone in America and I hate my job because your kids are so horrible!”

    Well, then, quit. Go back to college to take one of those jobs that has a starting salary that is twice your current salary.

    I’m not trying to get mean, I just get tired of the endless whining that so many teachers do. And it is not doing them any good. We’re in a long recession, and I’ll wager that most CPS parents have been dealing with pay cuts, benefit cuts, and layoffs. They probably don’t have a lot a of sympathy.

    I am all for paying good teachers more money. But how will we get the money? How much are we all willing to pay in property taxes? How much should teachers be paid given that the supply of new graduates from education programs is greater than the number of new openings?

  • 32. cps Mom  |  June 13, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Thanks copyeditor, you have captured the frustration.

    Jaded towards teachers – that’s a good one. I have been extremely active and supportive of teachers as best as I can. I have freely contributed my time and money when I am one of those whose household income is less than that of a teacher. In doing so, I know there are many teachers doing all the great things that you’re talking about. There are also many who aren’t. My point is the need for restructure of salaries. There is no money – people cannot pay their real estate taxes and are walking away from their properties. I am not in favor of doing something “quick” as someone suggested above.

    Those $50,000 out of school jobs are pretty difficult to come by these days. I just read an article about kids graduating from schools like Cornell and Harvard not being able to find employment because they are overpriced. The article said that more than 50% of college grads are moving back in with their parents.

  • 33. alcottkids@gmail.com  |  June 13, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Alcott parents tried to get the open campus program passed. A committee, as prescribed, was set up of three parents (all LSC members) and four CPS people.

    Parents, via a yahoo group, supported it in a huge way. Further, a mom who created the “how to” on opening CPS campuses is a parents. Hope were high that our kids would get the 15 extra lunch minutes/30 extra instructional minutes that Skinner North got (see post #10 above for details)

    The committee however, claimed they had only a couple of weeks to study it (yet minutes of past meetings show they had several months to consider it) and voted it down. They won’t say why they voted it down; won’t so much as provide reasons – rather, they are telling parents to “TRUST US” and “We’re not finished with our work we’ll look at it for the 2012-13 school year.”

    The open campus committee literally told parents on the yahoo group to stop discussing it on the yahoo group — rather, they should come one-by-one to the members and discuss it out on the playground! Clearly they want nothing in writing.

  • 34. alcottkids@gmail.com  |  June 13, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Also – Alcott still hasn’t collected funds for full day K – need $80,000 and have collected less than $60,000.

    Does Alcott really think they’ll get a dime more now? The Open Campus Committee has done such a disservice to entering and current students.

  • 35. Mom2  |  June 13, 2011 at 8:45 am

    As I said in a prior post, I wonder if some schools are waiting on the open campus idea this year because they know that Rahm is pushing for a longer school day and they want to see what will come of that first. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to try to implement a new schedule and process this year before you know how CPS will change things for all schools soon. Just a guess, but maybe that is why Alcott and some other schools didn’t approve this change right now.

  • 36. alcottkids@gmail.com  |  June 13, 2011 at 8:52 am

    #35 Mom2 — if that were the reason, we’d love to hear it. The Open Campus Committee refuses to give a reason and refuses to address questions unless you approach them one-on-one in some mythical playground where they’ll be hanging out this summer just waiting to talk to each of 400+ parents.

    Can you explain why wouldn’t it be a good idea to have open campus in 2011-12 and then possibly change again in 2012-13?

  • 37. klem  |  June 13, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I am also confused by how CPS is going to cover its budget holes. Our principal indicated that we would take a hit to our discretionary funds, but he expected our school’s fundraising effort to cover that.

    As for the open campus/recess proposal, we were told that this was not part of the plan to extend CPS instructional time that the mayor has been touting. The teachers don’t get paid more for this and they don’t work more. It basically shifts when they take their lunch.

  • 38. alcottkids@gmail.com  |  June 13, 2011 at 9:49 am

    #37 klem –

    I ask the same question. Where will the money come from to lengthen the day when we are already losing teaching positions?

    Why not lengthen the day the FREE (at least with regard to teachers’ salaries) way by taking advantage of the Open Campus policy – even the union is for it.

  • 39. MarketingMom  |  June 13, 2011 at 10:38 am

    News flash: we are in a recession and what appears to be a double-dip recession is lurking. I work in private sector and have not received a raise in the last 3 years. What is wrong with asking teachers to share in the sacrifice? I believe many teacher’s work hard and are truly deserving. Many bad teachers which are protected by the union has given the good ones a bad rap. I don’t want to bash teachers. However, I like Brizard’s approach so far. I think he is setting things up in an interesting way as to force the union’s hand. There is just no other way to make this happen without teacher sacrifice one way or another. The state can’t pay the bills it has already racked up and the money is just not there.

  • 40. RL Julia  |  June 13, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Interesting comments. Here are my thoughts (for whatever they are worth).

    1. Everyone works hard but only those in public service (like teachers) are constantly judged as doing their jobs inadquately and are constantly assumed to be lazy, incompetent, not worth WHATEVER money they are making. I work for the city, haven’t have a raise in about three years, have actually (thanks to furlough days and now unpaid holidays) taken about a 10% pay cut but I am still making too much money according to most people – because I am paid out of their tax dollars. The fact that I have a Master’s degree and that a commesurate job in the private sector would pay me about $20- $30K more doesn’t matter. I am a stupid, lazy parasite.

    2. Most teachers that I know, would LOVE a longer school day. However, like every other human being on the planet, they would like to be compensated for loss of autonomy of those few minutes if possible. I think Brizard should try and scrap together the raises and extend the day or just drop it. Nothing’s for nothing. Nobody in the world wants to be told that they now have to work longer for nothing. Trust me, my workplace was/is plenty upset/depressed when the furlough days started and many of my collegues had to get second jobs to make their rent/mortgage. Don’t begrudge teacher’s their right to want compensation for more hours worked -even if they don’t get it.

    3. Schools could go to the open campus model -bascially all you need to for the teachers to vote for it – which probably most or many would because it would make their days less harried. I think

  • 41. anon mom  |  June 13, 2011 at 11:39 am

    News flash: we are no longer (and haven’t been for a while) in a recession. In fact, MarketingMom, the recruiters have been calling me pretty steadily for the past 6 months (I am also in marketing).

    Teachers HAVE sacrificed. During the boom, they got meagre raises because of the contract that existed then. They’ve lost their shirt on real estate, as CPS teachers are mandated to live within the city limits (and no, I’m not saying that this was limited to teachers, but rather to show tha they’ve shared the economic scarifices that everyone has endured). Gas prices, property taxes–all these things affect teachers.

    If anything, I have sacrificed LESS than most teachers during this time (yes, this is anecdotal, but to demonstrate that not everyone in the private sector is struggling).

    Perhaps teachers sound defensive because they are. Every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he can be a teacher because he went to school. Media reports constantly bombard them with messages about their ineptness, placing blame for the poor state of education (which, let’s face it, is really about the education of America’s poor) at their feet.. Comments in the Trib spew vitriol about their “cushy job” that they only work 9 months out of the year. If you were constantly being told that you were lazy and incompetent,. wouldn’t you be defensive?

    I just looked online at my husband’s supposed salary. That figure represents salary and all benefits, as the amount he took home was much, much lower than the listed amount. And much, much lower than what someone with his level of experience would be earning at my company, even accounting for the schedule difference.

  • 42. Mom2  |  June 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    @36 – I truly think the open campus is the way to go for all schools. I want to make sure you didn’t think I was against it. It makes no sense to me NOT to have it. It has bothered me since the first day my youngest was in kindergarten. Having 10 minutes for lunch is ridiculous. I was just thinking that it is a big change for a school to go from the closed model to this model and they may have to change busing plans, find staff to watch kids during recess/teacher’s lunch, figure out what to do with kids during this time when the weather is bad, change schedules, etc. That takes planning and if CPS is going to change the day on them again and they then have to re-plan, that is work that could have been spent on other important things related to curriculum, etc. Just trying to give schools the benefit of the doubt. It helps me cope with schools saying no to something that makes total sense to me. Without this juicy rationalization, I can only think that a school is just lazy and doesn’t want what is best for the kids. It can’t be that. Right?

  • 43. copyeditor  |  June 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I don’t want to make this District 299. But I want to make one point: the parents here are the most likely to be sympathetic. We are the ones with at least some commitment to CPS. We are the ones who volunteer at school, who write checks for fundraisers, who make sure our kids do their homework. On the Lake View thread, we were told that the school can’t turn around without parents like us. We’re about as supportive as you’re going to get.

    And yet, we’re not all rushing out to defend raises for teachers in an era of huge budget cuts. If we aren’t sold, how are you going to sell the rest of the parents in CPS? Think about that, rather than whining. Teachers have been whining for years, and it’s not helping them make their case.

  • 44. Anonymous  |  June 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    #41 — I totally agree with what you’re saying. I wish more people DID read District 299 or Substance News or Catalyst to understand that you cannot look at teachers’ salaries in the same way as most people’s salaries. There are the benefits, the lack of Social Security, but yet everyone wanting to pull the plug on pensions, the fact that the CITY takes the teachers’ money and then complains that the city is broke and can’t pay the teachers.

    It’s just way too complicated for most people (including myself) to understand.

    And, #43, “whining”? Really. Please respect our teachers a little more than to call them whiners. Wow.

    I wonder how we’d all like it if every time we had a salary or performance review it was up for public debate?

    Think about that.

    Thank you, teachers!! I, for one, am behind you 100%.

  • 45. copyeditor  |  June 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    My salary and performance are subject to review by the people who pay me. Teachers and other public employees are paid by taxpayers. Therefore, it is a matter for public debate. Those who do not like that should not work in the public sector.

    That’s all.

  • 46. MarketingMom  |  June 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    @anon mom
    Good for you that you are getting calls from recruiters! Do you want a cookie?

    Here’s another news flash: the unemployment rate continues to rise and although it is over 9% on average, the figure is really in the double-digits when it comes to minority populations and counting those who have been out of work for so long they are not on the books anymore. You can say we’re not in a recession based on the economic definition, but with housing prices countinuing to drop, foreclosures and gas prices continuing to rise, many households are feeling the pressures. The reality is that we have not hit bottom and many of us who are working are looking over our shoulders hoping the other shoe does not drop.

    Another news flash: Teachers are not the only ones who have sacrificed. Many of us in the private sector have been asked to take on additional workload with no extra pay/no bonus in the name of job security. What do you think a furlough day is? A day off from work or a reduction in salary? Many of us live in homes that are worth less today than 5 years ago. Teachers aren’t the only ones who pay property taxes and do not get social security. We are all forced to play with the cards that are dealt to us in this tough economy. You should feel fortunate that you are doing so well in your career, but you are in the minority.

  • 47. Mayfair Dad  |  June 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I admire and respect hard-working and talented teachers – the majority of teachers I know belong to this category.

    I have no use for lazy and incompetent teachers, nor do I have any use for a teachers union that protects them instead of leading the charge for school reform.

    Great teachers are fairly paid and get the summer off. Admit it. I’m willing to admit that professionals with a college degree and often a Masters degree deserve to get paid competitively. So cop to the summers off already. The rest of us work 50 weeks a year if we’re lucky and still have a job, with two weeks vacation.

    What really frustrates many parents is the way teachers salaries and pension shortfall is always tangled up with education reform. Our kids deserve music, art, recess, computer lab, foreign language and a longer school day but we can’t seem to fund these things because…teachers raises and teachers pension shortfall. Shouldn’t be part of the equation – its a separate conversation and frankly we don’t give a damn about your union benefits, we just want a quality education for our children.

    On a happier note, Quinn just signed the bill.

  • 48. Hawthorne mom  |  June 13, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Funny, I have no use for lazy or incompetent teachers either and I am one. And often times, I don’t like the union. What I’d like to see, in terms of reform is this: let’s redefine reform. Reform is not solely freezing pay or lowering pay or ending pensions.
    Reform to me means:
    * the schools in the lowest 25% scoring schools get DOUBLE the staff
    *add, don’t take away psychologists and social workers in the schools (maybe 100 schools?) where murders and violent crimes happen constantly in the local neighborhoods
    *add serious numbers of ESL and Reading teachers…..I’d say, minimum of a thousand of each city wide to differentiate for the 50% of kids in our system who are at least 2 years behind and the few hundred who are at least 2 years ahead and not in gifted or classical schools. Yes that is 2000 additional teachers.
    *teachers and school staff get every single supply they need. Every single one.
    *lengthen the school day and school year (and put in working AC that is actually maintained in every single building)
    *get rid of what I estimate to be 10-20% of teaching and school staff who are not able or willing to do their jobs
    *up the requirements to be a teacher. Minimum 3.0 GPA. (this is a pet peeve of mine that most teachers come from the bottom third of their class…..not okay with me!)
    *remove violent children from schools. To me, education is only a right until a student seriously hurts or threatens to hurt someone else. Teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn if they are afraid. Put armed police officers in high schools that need it. Not kidding.
    *I don’t know how, but we seriously need to address parental responsibility too.
    *Dramatically increase the time spent in actual reading in school and have, you know, actual books available in every classroom written at reading levels and interest levels matched to each student.
    *provide an “opt out” option in terms of pensions for teachers. Let ME take the money that would go ordinarily into my pension and let ME invest it. Because I do not believe the state will have a pension for me by the time I retire. I believe they will squander it away. I can be responsible for my own retirement. This is being discussed as an option, and my husband and I have said for his TRS system, if offered the chance, we’ll take it in a second!

    From my perspective, I’d take a 10K pay CUT if all these things happened. The problem, in my mind, is this: Even if every CPS teacher took a 10K pay cut, in order to really reform our system, the cost to hire the teachers who are needed to really help the kids who need it, and all the other cots, it would end up costing the system so much incredibly MORE. And quite honestly, I think most taxpayers are very willing to ask teachers to sacrifice (which, given the economy, is reasonable), but I don’t believe taxpayers are willing to sacrifice anything more themselves to make sure the billions needed to make those things I listed above happen. And honestly, I don’t believe that people would be willing to contribute what is needed to make true reform happen in education even in a booming economy.
    I think a pay freeze is reasonable. Given that there is no money to pay anyone, it is reasonable. I am willing to share that much sacrifice but no more.
    I will say, summers off are awesome. Yes, back when I was teaching for CPS, I did work on my classroom curriculum at least part of the summer, but I did and do appreciate the time to do that and the weeks where I have nothing.

  • 49. HSObsessed  |  June 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    “Funny, I have no use for lazy or incompetent teachers either and I am one.”

    Hawthorne mom, I’m sure you didn’t mean it the way it came out?

  • 50. Hawthorne mom  |  June 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Oh geez! No, haha, did not mean that the way it sounded! I meant…..I have no use for lazy or incompetent teachers and I am a teacher. (meaning, even teachers get fed up with the teachers who don’t do their jobs!) I spent an hour, hot-faced and intense, typing and re-typing that post, trying to figure out what I wanted to say without being obnoxious and somehow missed that first part! 🙂

  • 51. HSObsessed  |  June 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I know, I figured. I appreciate your insight in the rest of the post, as always.

  • 52. Mod Proposal  |  June 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Gosh. With so many recent college grads needing jobs and applying for a Teach for America stint, we could just hire these oh-so-accomplished “best of the best,’ pay ’em cheap, and our kids could reap the benefits while CPS and charters get rid of all those lazy, Bad Teachers and their Bad Union.

  • 53. Mod Proposal  |  June 13, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    and…I’ll take what Hawthorn Mom is having.

  • 54. To CPS Obsessed Parents  |  June 14, 2011 at 12:59 am

    I expected better behavior from the people on this blog regarding our attitudes towards teachers. MANY of you have your children in the sought after schools–the crowning glory of CPS (classical/gifted/magnet)/SEHS/academic centers) yet you still begrudge the teachers a raise AND are glad SB7 was signed into law by the governor! Well I am appalled and I think the teachers/staff in both my children’s school deserve better!! I hope they strike and while as I stated above that I will hate it BUT if people think it is so easy to be a teacher and teachers have ALL of these perks THEN by all means go to school and do it!

  • 55. copyeditor  |  June 14, 2011 at 6:54 am

    I’m not saying that teaching is easy. But a lot of other jobs aren’t easy, either.

    However, I resent the idea that I am supposed to send my child to Lake View so that I can write a big check to buy lab equipment and so that I can get involved in the PTA to develop activities that attract middle class families because there is no money otherwise. I resent the idea that my child’s school day has been shortened in order to serve breakfast because it’s a fundraiser for the district, and I resent the fact that neither my husband nor I have had raises in two years and, in fact, have had de-facto pay cuts because we have to absorb the increases in our health insurance premium.

    And so, instead of schools having money for equipment (which I guess parents are supposed to pay for) or to maintain instructional time (which parents are expected to supplement), and instead of teachers living in the same economic world the rest of us live in, the limited CPS budget is supposed to go to give ALL teachers, regardless of merit, an above-market raise.

    Like I said, this is your most sympathetic audience. If we’re not convinced that the best thing for CPS to do is give teacher raises, good luck convincing all the people in Chicago who are sacrificing to send their kids to private school. Good luck convincing those people who don’t have children.

  • 56. copyeditor  |  June 14, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I have one other thought here, and it’s important: at many of the “best” CPS schools, parents have raised money – their own money, over and above what they already pay in taxes – to fund additional positions and pay for half-day kindergarten. Does the union appreciate this? Or is the attitude that a bunch of anonymous rich bureaucrats down at Central Office distribute the pool of money?

    Can those teachers receiving parent funding look those parents in the eye and tell them that they deserve raises so much that the parents should find a way to raise a few thousand more dollars?

    I contribute to these fundraisers. I am glad that it has helped our school maintain its arts programs, and the teachers in it are excellent. I don’t want them to lose their jobs, but I don’t have extra money to give.

  • 57. tapped out  |  June 14, 2011 at 8:12 am

    @56 copyeditor – well said! We had to borrow money to come up with our $2K “donation” for full day K.

    “parents have raised money – their own money, over and above what they already pay in taxes – to fund additional positions and pay for half-day kindergarten. Does the union appreciate this?”

  • 58. cps Mom  |  June 14, 2011 at 9:06 am

    @54 note to all – according to @41 the recession is over. That is sure a relief. Now people will go back to buying homes, getting mortgages and lines of credits, remodel the kitchen or other home improvements, get health insurance, and what about those veneers that they’ve been stalling on. Most importantly for CPS, they will be able to pay those increased real estate taxes on their devalued homes.

    No one here begrudges any deserving teacher their value and we all wish that things were different. I, like others, see a problem rewarding bad teachers (and agree that they are a minority) equally with the truly excellent teachers that have made a difference in a child’s life.

    SB7 is all about education reform and all about the child. According to the news the union is on board. I can only guess that they have had some pretty hard facts laid out to them. The board of ed will vote on whether a 4% increase across the board can be funded. Does anyone think that it can?

    As for the rest of, I couldn’t agree more with copyeditor. Thanks for your input.

  • 59. Mayfair Dad  |  June 14, 2011 at 9:12 am

    @ 54. Really? You hope teachers will strike? Yeesh.

    Consider this: less than 10% of the US work force (i.e. people who still have jobs) belong to a union. Of that 10%, the vast majority hold public service jobs paid for by tax dollars.

    The other 90% of us? We’re called taxpayers. So when teachers – or any other public employee union – start bellyaching about their union rights, pensions and privileges – we are sympathetic only up to a point.

    CTU and Karen Lewis have lost the battle of public opinion. By listening to the lunatic fringe (CORE) she has lost the support of parents. Tell me what you are going to do for my kids, and not what you are going to do to protect the jobs of substandard teachers. And please don’t regurgitate the fairy tale that its easy to get rid of bad teachers.

  • 60. RL Julia  |  June 14, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Hawthorne Mom – thanks for the post and for taking the time to write it. I completely agree. I would love to figure out ways for parents to be more involved – in the end, the CPS system as a whole, teachers, principals, other parents and kids all suffer when parents don’t bring a kids to school ready to learn, preapared for school or even properly fed and clothed. I think that these problems are compounded more my economic diversity – if one could at least assume that everyone was arriving at school at one shape, the system could at least be effcient about treating it.

    Copy Editor – I get it. The problem with CPS is that it is a school system with a lot of poor kids in it – which means that those are not poor or as poor are going to be asked to give and give and give and then give some more – or your time, your money and who knows what else. I understand your resentment at having to build every school your kids go to instead of not having to think about it and just sending them to the neighborhood school. I get tired too. However, that being said, that is the hand we have been dealt. That being said, universal breakfast is not a fundraiser – it is a way to ensure that in this recession that kids who need it (and we don’t know who those kids are necessarily-there might be more than you think) get two meals a day.

    Mod Proposal – I have higher standards for my kid’s teachers than some Teach for America kid. Being smart is helpful and like Hawthorne mom, I wish more teachers were better students themselves but I’d chose a less brilliant experienced teacher (or even one who just graduated but who had a teachign degree) over a Teach for America teacher -most of whom have no long term interest in education and have received barely adequate classroom training any day/ I realize that this is my own (insane?) bias but just wanting to make a difference isn’t enough – you need some credentials and relevant experience.

  • 61. anon  |  June 14, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I am not for adding more than 30-45 minutes to the school day. Afterall, I would like time to be a parent to my child and I would like my child to have time to develop talents outside of school. Also, my little one is pretty beat after at the end of the day – not sure how much longer they could go.
    Plus, with SB 7 the emphasis on test prep is going to increase. Putting teacher pay and test results together is going to have a terrible impact on student learning. Can’t blame the teachers for preparing for the 1 test that determines their pay. Really dumb idea with lots of other negative unintended consequences.
    I have worked with people who left teaching because they said it was such a difficult and demanding job and working in an office is sooooo much easier. If teaching was such an easy job why do so many people leave? If it’s such a cushy job why do 50% leave within 5 years.

  • 62. Sideline  |  June 14, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Just BTW, I’m a parent of a CPS kid and I work in the higher ed field. I also deeply support unions, which does not mean I have a simplistic understanding of union, labor and economic issues. Might be a minority. But those who care about CPS are not all anti-union, Mayfair Dad.

  • 63. Grace  |  June 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Copyeditor, cps mom and Mayfair Dad — do you realize that teachers and some principals have had to take mandatory furlough days for two years now? That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have taken time off, but their pay certainly has been docked by a significant amount, like many other public sector workers in Chicago. I’d say that this is good faith effort to help with the CPS budget deficit, wouldn’t you?

    I also have to say that I have had been very fortunate to have my kids in excellent CPS schools with very good-to-great teachers. A couple of exceptions were dealt with sensitively and fairly by an excellent principal, and in a timely manner, which caused minimal disruption for the kids.

    Times our tough, but school fundraising is optional and a private decision we make to directly support our children’s education. Or don’t. But I believe that teachers have been based in the media for so long that we are beginning to accept the premise that most of the problem with our schools isn’t poverty but poor teachers.

    Can CPS afford the teachers’ raise?

    Check out a new report by Rebecca Vevea, reporter for Chicago News Coop. She looks at the CPS budget deficit and finds that it is primarily based on expiring federal funds sent our way to help with our city’s economic recovery ($364 million), plus the cost of a 4% teacher raise, and health and pension benefits ($170 million).

    The federal funds, however, are far from all spent. More than half, about $175 million, remains: of this sum, $100 million out of $260 million in ARRA funds are left, as are $75 million out of $104 million in Ed Jobs funds.

    Per Danny Davis, Congress earmarked the Ed Jobs funds specifically to save teacher jobs. CPS seems not to have wanted to do that(?).

    CPS spokeswoman Carroll says that the remaining $100 million in ARRA funds will be spent before the fiscal year is over. However, she doesn’t know which programs the money will support. For all we know, the money is still sitting in a bank account.

    This is what CPS owes, but who owes CPS?
    1. The state, which owes $300 million.
    2. Mayor Daley’s/now Rahm’s TIF fund, which owes $250 million a year.
    3. Top Wall Street banks, which have taken $35 million a year for 4 years in interest payments from CPS, because, apparently, there is no clause stating that terms are to be re-negotiated if market conditions change dramatically, as they have during this great recession. (This last story was investigate and publicized by the Chicago Teachers Union.)

    So, if Rahm could get CPS the money it is owed today, we would have a budget surplus of nearly $500 million.

    How about an audit of the budget before we hang all the teachers out to dry?

  • 64. Grace  |  June 14, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Copyeditor, sorry for my typos. : )

  • 65. Grace  |  June 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    In case anyone here wants to see CPS’ Central Office from another perspective, WBEZ has an interesting piece on a letter which 3rd ward Alderman Pat Dowell wrote to CEO Brizzard about the problems of locating many high schools all in the same area.
    It gives us an idea of how CO sometimes doesn’t work for students and communities, when it is working for other interests.

    Here’s the link.
    dowellfor3rdward.com/letter-to-Brizard-10.pdf

  • 66. Grace  |  June 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Here, from district 299 blog, are comments by Rod Estvan, which might well shed some light on the murky CPS budget. It’s long, but don’t miss the ending! The Bloomington representative has something interesting to say.

    I would say I agree that CNC did a good job on this article “Making Sense of the CPS Deficit.” Readers of this blog may recall that Alexander on June 9 raised the issue of how CNC was doing on reporting on schools. In a post I noted that I thought CNC was not following up on an earlier story it had done on the CPS deficit and it needed to. I think that it is great that CNC followed up on the story, hopefully this will become standard practice at CNC.
    Following up and examining inconsistencies in presentations made by CPS is important and when we are talking about close to $100 million it is particularly significant. This is something that both the Tribune and Sun Times consistently does not do.
    Now to something that I thought was stunning in the article, CPS could not explain why its current budget estimate was $100 million less than the one that CEO Mazany estimated back in April. The problem is in part CPS will not allow reporters to talk to actual budget officials who created the Mazany estimate, they clearly must know why the numbers are different by such a huge amount. Budget deficit estimates are built on various presumptions and CNC actually began to look at those assumptions. This is something the Tribune and Sun Times has historically simply not done, they take numbers and spit them back to the public without any analysis of how they were derived.
    I agree completely with Rebecca Vevea and Crystal Yednak when they write: “There is no question CPS is in a large financial hole. The extent of the deficit, however, depends primarily on how much federal stimulus money the district has available and whether late payments from the state are taken into account.” I can say something that these reporters cannot. CPS lessens its own creditability by being confused about its own deficit numbers. It lessens its creditability with parents, teachers, and most of all the Illinois General Assembly’s non-Chicago members who are very tired of CPS stories of being on the edge of disaster.
    Down state legislators, both democrats and republicans, say simply suck it up and make the cuts our districts are down here. There will be no more passing the hat in Springfield for CPS and even less money if CPS does not present transparent deficit estimates.
    One reason the General Assembly totally supported the cost containment provisions in SB 7 for Chicago only is that the members want CPS to deal with its own problems.
    One Representative from the Bloomington area told me this in passing this session: “Daley gave the house away to the CTU with a long term contract, I will not ask the people of my district to pay for that. No way. CPS spends money like water on endless new programs to fix schools, create charters, programs to get kids to stop killing each other, on and on. We won’t pay for that either we have got real problems too but nobody up in Chicago seems to care.” I was so stunned I actually sat down and wrote out what he said so I would remember it.

    How CPS should do this is actually simple. Present various budget deficit estimates using different assumptions and explain to the public why they believe one of the particular estimate they support is the best one to operate from. That would be the honest way to do it, it would be the best way to do it for the benefit of children and the public as a whole.

    Rod Estvan
    Posted on June 14, 2011 11:59 AM

  • 67. Grace  |  June 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    And here, from the Capitol Fax blog, part one of the “Pay-to-Play Chicago Politics.”

    * Speaking of campaign contributions, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange gave big bucks last year to politicians who turned around and raised the company’s taxes – a move that Merc’s parent company says could force it to leave Illinois…

    The exchange has donated $1.27 million to Illinois politicians in the last two decades, with almost $500,000 of those campaign contributions coming in the last 1-1/2 years, including: […]

    * Two contributions together worth $150,000 to state Democratic Party leader Michael Madigan’s efforts to continue as speaker of the Illinois House.

    * A $50,000 donation to Quinn’s general election run last year, after the exchange gave $40,000 to the governor during the Democratic primary campaign.

    * CME’s estimates of its state tax liability means it will pay about 5 percent of all new corporate income taxes generated by January’s tax hike. The company certainly has a point about the unfairness of the corporate tax structure here…

    But in the April interview, Duffy said the tax hike felt like a slap coming right after the company’s investment in Aurora, which created a lot of jobs in the state.

    He also noted the state’s tax structure hits some companies harder than others.

    A restructuring of the state’s tax law restricted the tax to profit on in-state sales and eliminated property value and payroll size from the formula. The change benefited multinational manufacturers with sales all over the world.

    In fact, two-thirds of corporations filing Illinois returns owed no taxes in 2008.

    “I’m not suggesting I have the answers,” Duffy said in April. But, he said, it would be better if everybody paid a little.

    * And here’s what the company wants…

    CME Group may not only seek an incentive package. According to sources, the company is considering a request for a change to its industry’s corporate income tax formula. […]

    Revising “apportionment rules” in this way would require the approval of the General Assembly. Already, some industries have different rules. For instance, airlines operate under a different tax formula than other transportation companies.

    If the changes being considered by CME Group are approved, Illinois’ overall corporate income tax rate of 9.5 percent would remain the same for Chicago’s exchanges. What is subject to that rate would change, in order to lower the company’s tax burden. […]

    CME Group is expected to argue that because of the way its business is structured and conducted, the company had the highest effective state and local corporate income tax rate among the top 50 Illinois public companies that paid those taxes in 2010. […]

    According to an analysis of public filings obtained by the Tribune, CME Group’s state and local income tax rate was 8.9 percent in 2010. It was the only company in the 8-9 percent range; four companies had a rate between 7 and 8 percent.

    * And while we’re on the subject of taxes, Mayor Emanuel says he wants to roll back the city’s head tax…

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel said today he remains committed to phasing out a corporate employee “head tax” that brings in about $19 million annually to the city.

    “I believe it’s a disincentive for companies,” Emanuel said at a news conference to announce United Airlines will be bringing 1,300 more jobs to Chicago. “My goal is — and it will reflect it when I do my budget — that we will roll back a buck a year, so that over my term, it will be the $19 million that is quote unquote raised, will be eliminated.”

  • 68. Grace  |  June 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    It seems to me that we little people on this blog are disagreeing among ourselves about basics like adequate pay and classrooms that aren’t stifling, while our city’s wealthy power brokers are so far above the fray that we must appear to be ants to them.

    Pay for Play, Part two: from the CTU’s blog, Bake Sale for the Merc

    “Organizations representing working people—led by the Grassroots Collaborative with the Chicago Teachers Union, Service Employees International Union, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and others—held a “bake sale” for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). The CME recently threatened to leave Chicago because they were not making enough profit due to a “bad business climate” in Chicago.

    Chicago has given some $32 million to the CME. That includes $15 million in TIF money (although the CME is hardly “blighted” as TIF districts are supposed to be). An estimated $7.6 million of that TIF money comes from Chicago Public Schools. In receiving this TIF subsidy, CME promised they would stay until 2017, not only keeping the current level of employees, but adding 638 more positions.

    Chicago also gave CME a special Property Tax break of $17 million in 2004. That year the City Council lowered CBOT’s property taxes “by a total of approximately $17 million over 12 years beginning in 2006.”

    Chairman of CME Group, Terrence Duffy, made a profit of $4.6 million and says that CME is considering a move, completely disregarding the subsidies and tax breaks that we, The People of Chicago, gave to them. According to the CME’s annual report, last year they made a profit of $951 million dollars, a 15% increase above the previous year.

    CME is the world’s largest futures trader. When corporations talk about a bad business climate and needing more taxpayer money, we get left with nothing but a bad climate for working families. Corporations and banks must pay their fair share, for good jobs, quality public schools, and affordable housing for all.”

    That’s all, folks.

  • 69. HSObsessed  |  June 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Breaking news for Hawthorne Mom and your hubby! There’s a huge article in Today’s Huffington Post Education News all about how important school librarians are to students. The headline is “Communities Stand Behind Librarians Facing Layoffs”.

    I will try posting the link in a separate comment. (Sometimes a link within a comment slows down the posting process.)

  • 70. HSObsessed  |  June 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Here the link:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/13/librarians-fighting-layof_n_865939.html

  • 71. cps Mom  |  June 14, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    For the record – I am not trying spark any debate about the school librarian job. I can see that I’m getting myself into trouble here. Certainly, no disrespect to Hawthorn Dad. Thanks for posting the information.

    I like the merit raise provision in the new reform act. I would think that others would too. Its a start.

  • 72. Mod Proposal  |  June 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    So true, Grace, so true: “It seems to me that we little people on this blog are disagreeing among ourselves about basics like adequate pay and classrooms that aren’t stifling (hot), while our city’s wealthy power brokers are so far above the fray that we must appear to be ants to them.”

    I think we need to look at the man/men behind the curtain.

  • 73. Gayfair Dad  |  June 14, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Cut art and music, who cares about that stuff anyway? Our society has been cutting the arts first for two generations now, and investing in them last. A society of automatons. Good luck to us all.

  • 74. Mod Proposal  |  June 14, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    With the national whipping, will teachers develop Stockholm syndrome? I wonder. Perhaps they already have.

  • 75. tiredcpsparent  |  June 15, 2011 at 8:00 am

    According to news from an LSC meeting last night at Northside College Prep, the school is losing 6 teaching positions and an additional 4 support positions. I am hoping this is just preliminary and the news gets better in a few weeks.

  • 76. Grace  |  June 15, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Sorry to hear that NSCP. Looks like even without the 4% raise, teachers will be cut.

    Anyone read today’s Trib? There is a new Op-Ed page called Perspectives. Reporter Greg Burns interviews 3 major Illinois executives on what they want Navistar really didn’t want that $65 million hand-out.
    Then there is a full-page ad for Charter schools, listing the names of kids graduating and going to college. The group behind the ad is New Schools for Chicago. Wonder if any reporters can tell us who they are funded by?

  • 77. Grace  |  June 15, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Catalyst seems to have the best story on the CPS budget deficit so far, expanding on Chicago News Coop’s Rebecca Vevea’s story of a coule of days ago. Here’s the link.

    http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/index.php/entry/1151/For_the_Record%3A_A_primer_on_the_budget_deficit

  • 78. Grace  |  June 15, 2011 at 9:08 am

    some good comments at Catalyst. Here’s one.

    By: CPS spends money like water

    For the Record: A primer on the budget deficit Lets take a look:

    1. Massive expansion of the breakfast program even though there already was a breakfast program in place early in the morning.
    2. Expansion of the Area offices and their staff. I don’t know of any district in the nation that created a bureaucracy (Area officers) to watch what another school bureaucracy (Principals) does.
    3. Expansion of scantron and other forms of assessments (Overlays).
    4. Expansion of contracts with various universities, law firms, and real estate.
    5. It would seem every year some new program is created or sponsored by CPS than replaced with another.
    6.Former President/CEO (Scott) of CPS spending thousands of tax payer dollars on personal items or charities.
    7. And there is more…

    There is no real accountability within the system itself. The mayor needs to create an elected “Office of Treasury” for CPS along with an elected school board. In this way, real accountability will be at hand and then and only then would we be able to get at the financial truth of CPS finances.
    I predict CPS will agree on the 4% raises just to avoid everyone questioning it’s own financial house.

  • 79. Anonymous  |  June 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    The 4% teacher raise was voted down.
    http://www.wbez.org/story/new-chicago-school-board-rescinds-teacher-pay-raises-87892

  • 80. newcpsdad  |  June 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Too bad it came to this, but in tough times everyone has to make sacrifices. Teachers too. Personal experience tells me that in three weeks, when the urge to grab headlines has died out, people on all sides of this issue will be back working for the good of the children they promised to serve. That is, unless a certain someone keeps lobbing verbal grenades to keep the spotlight pointed at that person. (Please, stop insulting everyone’s intelligence by saying that supporting a pay freeze is bad for the students. It has nothing to do with the students.)

  • 81. anon mom  |  June 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    What bothers me is that 125 S. Clark has set it up as a zero-sum game: teachers lose or the students lose (which is a political move to make teachers look bad). In the meantime, it’s business as usual downtown, with JC getting a raise (and I don’t believe the final terms of his contract ahve ever been announced) and the appointed fat cats who serve on the school board (many of whom have a vested interest in the privitazation of CPS) vote in line with their private interest. Except Common’s mom, who didn’t sound like she knew what was going on at all, as quoted in the Trib.

    The call it reform, but it’s the same tactics they’ve been using over the past however many years it’s been since mayoral control started. Tried and failed tactics with no demonstrated gains for anyone but the companies that run charter schools. Smoke and mirrors, cooked stats and good money thrown after bad. All while blaming the teachers.

    Maybe it’s time to have someone else take a look at the books. A real look. And try some actual reform–out-of-the-box thinking with the goal of a win/win situation. Thinking done by someone other than a bunch of Broadies or MBAs, who always fall back on the same tools (understandably, I suppose. If all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail). Maybe individuals from a creative field. Maybe a combination of creatives and educators. I don’t know, but something ELSE.

    Because this just looks like more of the same.

  • 82. copyeditor  |  June 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Karen Lewis shows just how the CTU keeps hurting its cause instead of gaining sympathizers, given that it’s a recession for everyone except those in
    marketing:

    http://capitolfax.com/2011/06/15/chicago-teachers-union-prez-claimed-that-denying-raises-is-slavery/

  • 83. mom talk  |  June 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    So it is true? I had heard Brizard received a pay raise, but I didn’t find a record in a news article.

  • 84. MarketingMom  |  June 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I am so tired of hearing that a teacher raise will be in the best interest of students. Really…how does giving teachers more money benefit students? A good teacher is still going to be a good teacher with or without 4%. A bad teacher will continue to be a bad teacher with or without the 4%.

  • 85. Mayfair Dad  |  June 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    @ 83: Brizard is making more than his predecessor Huberman but less than other major city education heads. He has agreed to forego his bonus money, a symbolic gesture I suppose but also real cash his family won’t be spending on vacations to Aruba.

  • 86. Anonymous  |  June 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Check this out. Follow the money.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/06/15/985273/-Thousands-Rally-in-Chicago:-Give-it-Back!-?via=siderec

  • 87. cpsobsessed  |  June 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    This might be a dumb question — so in CPS do all teachers get the same raise every year? Is it 4% for all or none? Is there any level of merit raises at all? Or is that above and beyond the annual raise (or lack of.)

    Truly objectively, while a raise doesn’t make a teacher better, I have to think that basic psychology would say that letting people work without fair increases (at the very least due to cost of living) would start to demotivate someone.

    On the other hand, I think psychology would also say that when your raise is just automatic every year, that’s not a great way to motivate people to do their best.

    I think I see it all as a squarely gray issue….

  • 88. Mayfair Dad  |  June 15, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    “CPS officials say that even if the 4 percent hike is denied, 75% of teachers will still get a pay increase next year. They will qualify for step increases of 3 to 5 % granted for more years of service – at a cost to the district of $35M (even if the board refused to cover the 4% raises — which cost $80M.)”

    Nope, not feeling sorry for CPS teachers today, although it is raining on the first day of their summer vacation, so that kinda sucks.

  • 89. copyeditor  |  June 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    CPSObsessed, teachers do not get merit raises. They do get raises based on seniority and on new credentials – so a teacher who earns a master’s degree will get a raise after graduation. This is going on right now, and the 4% raise would be on top of that.

    The collective bargaining agreement, in all its glory, can be found here:

    http://www.ctunet.com/grievances/text/2007-2012-CPS-CTU-Collective-Bargaining-Agreement.pdf?1294199486

    The salary information starts on page 125.

    I think it’s unfair, and actually wrong, to say that teachers are working without raises. Even if the 4% raise does not happen, they will still get raises for experience and for earning degrees and certifications.

  • 90. newcpsdad  |  June 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    The politicking is being done by the union reps (not by the board or by JC). They are the ones peddling this “zero-sum game” nonsense. The board just wants to keep schools open and hopes others are willing to share in the reality of our current economic climate.

  • 91. To #88 Mayfair Dad  |  June 15, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    The teachers are not on summer break. The last day of school is Tuesday. Students go to school on Friday for about an hour.

  • 92. cps Mom  |  June 15, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Mayfair Dad – would it be naive of me to think that this 75% also has some sort of merit value? Yeah – still taking the hit on the budget.

  • 93. Hawthorne mom  |  June 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Regarding what happened today with the contract: What happened, happened. I have super strong, pro-teacher sentiment. That said, I am completely against a strike. I believe at this point, the best thing to do is to move on. The economy sucks, let’s all deal, especially since there are step and lane increases coming for many.
    However, that all said, regardless of the budgets given to principals a week or so ago,I believe we will see big layoffs of teaching positions this summer. The pay freeze only accounts for 10% of the budget shortfall. Where will the other 700 million dollars come from? There won’t be a tax increase. But the BOE could save a lot of money by cutting 1500 teaching positions as is being rumored. I don’t think for a second that the budget they gave to principals will stand. I fully expect those budgets to change quite a bit over the summer.

  • 94. Hey cpsobsessed!  |  June 15, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Why are you surpressing my post? The one entitled teacherfan…

  • 95. a teacher  |  June 16, 2011 at 7:25 am

    I’m both a teacher and a parent of a high school student in the CPS system. I’ve been both for the past 11 years. I work in a magnet program and my son attends a SE high school. When I started, I didn’t come for the money and was uninterested in union activity. I was recruited to my current position and accepted (somewhat reluctantly) what I thought would be a professional challenge. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would witness, first hand, the downfall of a school system. I spend every day watching and participating (by default) in the downward spiral that is my job. The difference of ten years is astonishing. The quality of administrators, student ability and parental support has declined tremendously. The (verbal ) attacks on teachers by administrators, parents and students are unprecedented. I find myself feeling that I am a baby sitter more than an educator a larger proportion of the time each school year. Professional development is a joke. Parents and students expect high marks for little work and come to me unprepared for the curriculum that I teach. I find myself doing more and more remedial work in the basics of math, reading and writing than more advanced work in the content areas. I am frustrated beyond belief and keep thinking that none of this is what I signed up for when I first came. For the first time in my adult working life, I am thinking about becoming active in my union to fight for my rights as a teacher and a worker. I can no longer stand by silently and watch incompetence win over excellence.

  • 96. A parent  |  June 16, 2011 at 8:08 am

    That’s all great, but I have never seen the union take a stand for excellence over incompetence. The union goes to lengths to protect incompetent teachers from losing their jobs. In other instances, like in many closed/open campus votes, teachers choose their own convenience over the what’s best for the kids. I support the rights of unions across the country, but if your goal is to encourage excellence in education, your first stop should not be at the union office — try collaborating with administrators and parents. Most teachers strive to do well at their jobs, but this is not a function of the union. The union’s role is solely to protect their interests.

  • 97. Mayfair Dad  |  June 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

    @ 96: Bingo!

  • 98. Mayfair Dad  |  June 16, 2011 at 8:30 am

    @ 91: Duly noted. My son’s school (Ogden) has been closed since last Friday. I was taking a little poetic license to make my snarky point.

    @ 92: Sarcasm noted. That’s the crux of the whole thing, isn’t it? Great teachers deserve incentives and bonuses, but how do you measure what great teaching is? The union resists using student outcomes as a metric – fine, tell us what makes sense then. I’m happy to see great teachers monetarily rewarded, this is a wise use of my tax dollars which benefits society.

  • 99. Grace  |  June 16, 2011 at 8:45 am

    After Rahm is through, the teaching profession will not provide adequate pay or benefits to support a family in a modest lifestyle.

    Our political leadership has created an enormous problem of unfunded pension obligations for public sector employees in Illinois — $80 billion.

    This drives legislation like SB 7, which severely limits the union’s ability to strike and bargain collectively, which discounts teachers’ experience, and which imposes new teacher evaluations based in part on students’ test scores. All of which is designed to make it easy to fire teachers wholesale and without due process.And that is coming because it is a sure way to solve the pension problem our political leaders created.

    But does anyone think that citizens deserve an audit of the CPS budget?
    Just to see what is real, what is a gimmick, what is gross mismanagement and what is fraud? We will never know exactly how much money Board President Michael Scott stole and all that he spent it on. But ther rumors are out there.

    At the same time, the new mayor is aggressively pushing to turn traditional public schools into charters via expensive marketing of a new “Parent Trigger” rule, which has already caused much turmoil in California.

    Charters pay their teachers much less than CPS does, while the charter operators themselves are often very well-paid and do not need to be certified in Illinois. And 83% of the time, test scores for charters are no better and very often lower than for traditional public schools, according to the Stanford CREDO study of 2009.

    The attack on teachers in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio is happening here in Chicago. This plan’s ultimate effect will be similar to Clinton’s NAFTA, which sent millions of good jobs overseas to help the corporate bottom line, and helped to re-elect Clinton.

    Our political leaders have raised the state income tax, and they could ask our wealthy corporate community to pay their fair share of taxes. Instead Governor Quinn is handing out tax incentives in the millions of dollars: Navistar, $65 million, CME, $35 million, etc., etc. Our corporations’ notion of civic pride and leadership has changed. Our notion that teachers are a well-regarded member of our communities has been attacked for so long by Gates’ funded pr firms and PACS that we no longer respect their efforts.

  • 100. Grace  |  June 16, 2011 at 8:52 am

    A very successful private equity manager said to his relatives in early Spring who are in teaching, “If you can, get out now.”

  • 101. Grace  |  June 16, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Wow! Well worth 2 minutes and 15 seconds, Robert Reich, with clever drawings, explains why we have an anemic recovery, and the effects on our society.

    http://front.moveon.org/scribbling-sharpie-illustrates-the-truth-about-our-economy/?id=28079-18840244-HbiP4nx

  • 102. copyeditor  |  June 16, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I’d love an audit of central office. Love it. If the union had taken that tack, they’d probably have huge support from parents and taxpayers.

    Instead, Karen Lewis implied that taxpayers are no better than slaveholders. Well, then. That’s going to make for a real productive bargaining session, with everyone looking out for the best interests of the children.

    I should change my name to CPSDepressed.

  • 103. Mayfair Dad  |  June 16, 2011 at 9:47 am

    @ 99 Grace: I agree with everything you say here, and I would guess most posters on this thread do too. In addition to SB7 and bringing fiscal reality to teacher salaries, I would welcome a forensic audit of CPS, I am sick and tired of corporate welfare, I think corporate special interests AND union lobbyists have WAY too much influence on our electoral system. We need campaign finance reform. We need pension reform for all employees who work for the city and state. We spend way more than we take in. We need to shrink government spending and eliminate waste and graft. We need to pay more taxes to sustain the quality of life we want, but not before government cleans up their act. We need to do it all. Overpaying underperforming teachers is a really bad idea. Rewarding great teachers with bonuses and incentives makes sense to me.

  • 104. Hawthorne mom  |  June 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I can’t speak for Karen Lewis, nor for the union as a whole. But I do know that teachers ALL over the place have been asking for a line by line audit of the budget and central office. Please do not think Lewis speaks for many of us.

    I also wonder, since the purpose of unions ARE to protect the financial interests of their workers, I wonder who or what group exists that is actually doing or thoughtfully discussing educational reform. People label what is happening across our country now (with pensions and the like) as educational reform. Regardless of one’s support or not or that kind of fiscal reorganization, that is not the same as educational reform. The two have some kind of loose connection, but real educational reform, at least to me, means what is happening day in and day out in classrooms. I think it is important not to confuse the two.

    In terms of merit pay, I know it has been tried in CPS and other places. The ways it has been done has largely been found to be unsuccessful in producing better student outcomes. But, I think that isn’t a reason to stop trying. I, too, as a teacher and a parent, want to see our best teachers rewarded and our worst given the boot. I can think of one teacher I know who deserves merit pay. (not referring to myself!) She teaches a lot of AP courses. While nationally, most kids taking AP courses pass those courses at about a 50% rate, her students pass at a 70-80% rate. She is a teacher who should be getting merit pay.

  • 105. cps Mom  |  June 16, 2011 at 10:00 am

    @95 Thank you for all you’ve done as a highly qualified teacher. I understand what you are saying yet would like to point out a couple things that may drive the emotions of the parents that you are having difficulties with. There has been much talk about “bad” teachers – 10 to 20% Maybe?? All it takes is ONE at 3rd or 4th or 5th grade to generate a serious learning gap – especially at a magnet, RGC or higher performing school. Nothing irks a parent more than having to get a child tutored because they get a seasoned teacher who thinks they teach math for the first time, a teacher that spends the entire class going over homework so that they are barely moving forward – just to name a couple real issues as an example, there are more. That is one whole year that they experience 0 progress. Everyone knows what I’m talking about here. If this happens at a private school or even a charter that teacher can be called to the carpet on the lack of progress. Doesn’t this make your position as an outstanding teacher more difficult?

    As far as parents wanting grades for inadequate performance – well isn’t that exactly what this system has generated. High school “choice” is predicated on grades and tests or lotteries (which also seem to have an advantage for students with good grades). Financial aid for private schools is based upon grades and tests. Of course parents desperate to keep their child out of a neighborhood school will be in your face about grades. You’re right – this has changed considerably over the last 10 years because with all the talk of going private or moving to the suburbs people can’t do it financially.

    Agree with @96 the unions are not going to help if anything make it worse.

  • 106. Mayfair Dad  |  June 16, 2011 at 10:06 am

    @ 104 Hawthorne Mom re: education reform

    Check this article out. Although it reads as a love letter to Richie Daley, if these statistics hold water then I guess the path CPS has taken is the right direction.

    You read so often that charter numbers are bogus, CPS cooks the books, etc. But what if these initiatives are actually working?

    http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-muckrakers/2011/06/public-education-improved-during-the-daley-era-especially-in-the-eyes-of-white-parents.html

  • 107. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 16, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Karen Lewis was elected by the membership of CTU, and represents them at the bargaining table, so she speaks for all teachers. That’s what being in a union means. And if she has decided that working an extra 10 minutes without extra pay is slavery, well, then, I guess it is.

    I know not all teachers voted for her or agree with her. But Lewis wants a showdown, and she doesn’t seem to care how it affects kids.

  • 108. Grace  |  June 16, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Hi MF-Dad, H-mom, there is a rigorous, fairly long-term study by the U. of Virginia on merit pay — also called pay for performance. There is another recently completed 5-year study done in Chicago by well-respected U. of Wisconsin-Madison types called CTAP.

    You can find them if you are interested, but in short, unfortunately, proponents of merit pay can’t find support in these studies. Duncan has recently committed millions for more studies to find the right program.

    Hi cps mom, parents of 7th graders everywhere hear you loud and clear! What a system we have, that pits us all against each other for about 3,500 freshman seats, year after year, and contributes to the decline by neglect of our neighborhood schools.

  • 109. BuenaParkMom  |  June 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

    94 – Your comments were not suppressed. You posted them in the How to Attract Students to Your Neighborhood School post.

  • 110. cpsobsessed  |  June 16, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Thanks Buena Mom! I didn’t have a chance to figure that out yet.
    Nor do I have time to suppress comments. 🙂
    WordPress holds a comment for approval if it has a link in it sometimes.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 111. Grace  |  June 16, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Also btw, H-mom, the debate on real, thoughtful education reform, not fiscal housecleaning, seems to me to be centered in 72-year-old NYU education professor Diane Ravitch, and Linda Darling Hammond of Stanford U, although there are others.

    Everyone else — politicians and special interest groups like UNO — who is in the charter movement has a career to promote. Considering the years of mismanagement at CO, I have no confidence that giving millions of tax dollars to charters with next to no oversight is a smart move.

    Also cps mom, sometimes a teacher can’t realistically be expected to always meet the academic needs of each of 28 to 30 children in her class, try as she might. The principal, a.p., school counselor, and even librarian, at times, certainly can provide some support, and a good manager works with a concerned parent to address issues. But large class sizes may simply mean that if a parent can’t help out at home, then a tutor is a reasonable idea. And Title 1 schools get tutoring programs in school, but RGCs, etc. don’t have those funds.

  • 112. Grace  |  June 16, 2011 at 11:03 am

    The privatization of our tax-payer supported educational system extends to post-secondary schooling.

    For-profit colleges get a majority of their profits from federal student aid, and their students get a less than impressive degree and enormous student loan debt. This has been the subject of a Frontline investigation, and Duncan promised to curb abuses there.

    Now a story from Huff Po says

    “Obama Administration Caved On For-Profit College Regulations, Insiders Say”

    A year ago, the Obama administration crafted a set of proposed regulations aimed at limiting abuses by the swiftly growing for-profit college industry.

    The initial draft threatened severe consequences for institutions that churned out large numbers of graduates with outsized debts and meager job prospects: Schools would quickly lose access to the multi-billion dollar pool of federal student aid dollars that supplies the vast majority of their profits.

    But when the Department of Education delivered the final rules earlier this month, they were substantially weakened from the initial draft, adding a three-year grace period before severe sanctions will kick in — a major triumph for the industry’s lobbyists and their relentless pressure campaign on the Obama administration.

    There is more on Huff Po.

    Posted: 06/16/11 08:50 AM ET

  • 113. Thanks buenopark mom  |  June 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I am at work and an iPhone is to hard to cut and paste so will do it when I get home from work. I have Bern taking notes for a friend of mine on the other thread who is working on improving neighborhood school. Thank you for finding it!

  • 114. Grace  |  June 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet

    Aaron Pallas, professor of sociology and education at Teacher College, Columbia University, offers a quick analysis of the “school reform” movement, as promoted by Joel Klein, former school chancellor of NYC, now working for Murdoch’s new education division.

  • 115. Teacher Fan  |  June 16, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Ok–I’m the one whose been penning some of the super sympathetic teacher posts above. Full disclosure—I am a public servant for the state and I have been unionized for the past year and a half. Prior to that I had to take 12 furlough days per year and watch as those I supervised made more than me and some times were less attentive to their jobs than they should have been. I feel after years of a salary freeze and furlough days while the price of benefits increased that it was unfair to me and my family. My mom is a retired teacher and my children attend two CPS schools (magnet/SE) that are phenomenal!

    I think that the media has made villians out of all union members because of the dismal economy. Yes there are teachers who deserve their raises and some who do not. There isn’t really a way to fairly determine who should get performance pay. When the economy is good private sector employees generally get 8-10% pay raises and many get bonuses while public sector employees only get about a 4% raise. I get the shared sacrifice that we all need to make. When the economy is better–will we say let’s open up the contract to give the teachers more money? I highly doubt it. We must remember pension costs and benefits have been increasing so the 4% raise for teachers really gets eaten up a bit. Here are some other things we should keep in mind…

    1) The parent talking about Lakeview and all the money they have given to the school should try to remember CBOE created this situation (not the teachers) and I am certain they HAVE mismanaged funds. Why is Brizzard getting 20 or 30 thousand more than Huberman? I bet some of the teachers at Lakeview use their own money to buy things for their students/classrooms, too. I know that I don’t have to buy the supplies I use at work. Don’t most employers supply the materials their employees need to get the job done. Well, not CPS!!!

    2) Why can’t a forensic audit with an independent auditor look through the books? If CPS is managing the money properly and they REALLY don’t have the money to pay the raises then yes maybe the teachers should sacrifice a bit.

    3) Where is all the lottery money going?

    4) Where is all the TIF money going?

    5) Have we looked at waste at the area and central office level, yet? Why can’t we consolidate areas? We do not need all of these highly paid CAOs. Wasn’t there some scandal with the two previous board presidents (Scott & Williams) where school funds were used on art work, dinners, etc?

    All I’m saying is that if teachers have to make this sacrifice THEN it should be because EVERY avenue regarding cost-cutting/savings has been exhausted before we just arbitrarily demand that the teachers give up their raises.

    Sorry for the long post 😉

  • 116. A parent  |  June 17, 2011 at 12:12 am

    8-10% raises in the private sector? You’re on crack.

    You fail to mention that teachers also get step and lane increases in addition to their 4%. And years ago they were 7% raises — far higher than I’ve seen in the private sector for a very long time.

  • 117. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 17, 2011 at 7:02 am

    I never got a 8 – 10% raise. What have I been doing wrong, Teacher Fan? Please, help me out here.

  • 118. mom2  |  June 17, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I have received 2 pay increases in the 8-10% range in over 25 years of working and both were promotions to new higher level positions. Other than that, an increase of 0-4% (sometimes 0, a few times 4) is my normal even in a good economy. I think your comments about the private sector show why teachers are fighting this so much. You are dreaming if you think the private sector is how you describe.

    However, I do agree that there should be audits and that, from what little I know, these area offices/officers may not be needed or certainly not to the extent that they are now. I’m sure there is waste all over the place and I also agree that no one should get more money now. It should not happen to anyone at CPS or the city until we get ourselves back on track. Teachers should not be the only ones.

  • 119. cps Mom  |  June 17, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Tell me where those 8-10% raises are because we are hurting here and we have people with CPA’s, architectural degrees and engineers. I only wish that I could be paid for a degree that I earned over 20 years ago.

    B.Park mom – you had a very nice well thought out post. Would you care to copy over to this thread.

    I just found out that even with the latest teacher lay-off’s the problematic teachers are still there. I cannot understand why all the good hardworking teachers do not take a position against this and only look toward the union to sort it out. Emanuel made a statement yesterday that the existing contract gives the child the shaft.

  • 120. CPSmama  |  June 17, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I am a professional in the private sector. My base pay has not increased in about 10 years. The only way for me to get more $$ is via production-based bonus pay which is not guaranteed and fluctuates based on revenue. Never got a 8-10% raise in my life.

  • 121. cps grad  |  June 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I am a teacher in a well known, highly regarded, suburban district. I don’t have a stake in the CTU contract (other than being a resident of Chicago and a taxpayer), but I understand a little about how teachers are paid. In reality teachers don’t get 4% -8% raises regularly. These raises were instituted to get the teacher salaries more on par with salaries in the private sector. They don’t continue indefinitely. In 2010 under the current contract, the top of the lane teacher with 20-45 years experience and a masters degree made $87,673. A doctorate degree would have earned the same teacher (20-45 years experience) $94,888. This is the top of the lane, and once you reach the top you don’t get any raises unless all steps receive a raise (such as the 4% that was voted down by the CBOE). I don’t know how most of you feel, but in my opinion I don’t think $90,000 is an outrageous top salary for a veteran teacher. If you don’t give talented young professionals some possibility of making in the upper 5 figures, they won’t enter the profession. Also there was very interesting article in Chicago Magazine about this issue. You really do get what you pay for.

    http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/June-2011/Chicago-Teacher-Salaries-The-Long-View/

    In regards to merit raises it is important to note that evaluating a teacher is not the same as evaluating a worker most other professions. Teaching is a very isolating profession, and for most of the year the teacher is alone in a classroom with 25-30 children. Many of the measures suggested by people outside the profession are just not practical. Test scores really don’t tell you everything, and there is room for cheating. (This has been documented to happen. The worst part is that after one teacher cheats, and the next year’s teacher who doesn’t cheat gets penalized when test scores drop!) Parent/and student opinion is not entirely reliable either. You can’t base the quality of a teacher by the number of complaints they receive. I find that in schools with the most parent involvement you get the WIDEST range of opinions on each individual teacher. More parent involvement = more scrutiny of daily practice, and consequently even the best teacher will get complaints. Every parent seems to have their own criteria. Some parents judge a teacher on his or her rapport with the students. Others base it on their child’s overall grades. I have friends who judge the quality of their child’s teacher based on the number of spelling and grammar errors on notes sent home. It is just the nature of the beast—you can’t make everyone like you all the time, and even the best teacher will make a mistake.

    That is not to say you can’t evaluate a teacher and you can’t help a struggling teacher grow. Teachers need more mentorship, observations, and especially informal critiques by their peers that do not influence their overall rating. When teachers get into each other’s classrooms they learn from each other and get guidance from seasoned and PRACTING teachers. (An administrator is not always the best! You want someone who remembers what it is like to be in classroom and mange a curriculum, discipline, and 30 personalities all at once). Especially in the elementary grades, teachers do not have common planning time with colleagues to discuss classroom management techniques, lesson planning, and strategies on reaching struggling students. This is not built into the day of our teachers and it should be! The problem is this all costs money. Unfortunately in many districts teachers are left to figure it all out on their own their first year out of college. This is one of the reasons that so many teachers leave the profession before they get 5 years experience.

    I really could write a thesis on this topic, but I’ll stop here.

  • 122. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Wait, don’t teachers in private schools get paid LESS than teachers in public schools? So how would raises bring public school teacher salaries in line with the private sector? I’m really confused now.

  • 123. cpsobsessed  |  June 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I think it means to bring them in line with private sector NON-teaching jobs.

    So that smart, motivated people with want to go into/stay in the education field.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 124. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Ooooh. Okay. But that’s not how other jobs work. My boss doesn’t care about my education and experience, he cares about how much value I add and what it would cost to replace me.

  • 125. cpsobsessed  |  June 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    CPS Grad – that’s some good info/POV. Thanks!
    I do think that $95K is a good attainable salary, of course keeping in mind that it covers 9 months of work (including a spring break and 2 week winter break) and what is currently a generous pension plan, virtually unknown in the private sector any more. It does make me a bit uncomfortable knowing there are some definite slackers pulling that in year after year.

    You bring up a very good point about teacher evaluation. I was just discussing this with a friend who is on an LSC and how the teachers themselves want more observation time and input from the principal or someone. How else can people grow and improve, etc? But of course with the overload on CPS admin, it’s near impossible. I truly don’t understand how young teachers are expected to get better or learn classroom management skills etc. And your comments about parents input are spot on, based on my observations. Parents can have very different opinions of what makes a “good” teacher. But heck, at the very least, a teacher who seems to bring ideas to the school, seems to do their best to work with parent/families/kids, has a decent looking classroom, shares ideas with colleagues, and contributes to a positive school atmosphere — that could all be rewarded, no? Or maybe that doesn’t matter if they’re getting information into kids’ heads?

  • 126. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I’m going to say one more thing, and I don’t want to start a fight or anything, but: teachers need to stop saying that their performance cannot be evaluated, because then what they are really saying is that they add no value. Performance evaluation in the private sector often is subjective; it’s often stuff like “being a team player” or “having a professional demeanor” or whatever. But it mostly works.

    The performance evaluation systems that have not been tried may not work, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We all KNOW that some teachers are better than others.

    I’m not sure that average pay in private-sector jobs in different professions is lower if you take into account that teachers have their summers off (and don’t tell me that teachers are really working 80 hours a week all summer, too; my sister and sister-in-law are teachers), have greater job security, and are not held accountable for performance in the same way that other people are. They just aren’t, and WE ALL KNOW IT.

    I think that increased professionalism would help good teachers make the case for more money. It might also help attract these best and brightest college students. Let’s face it, education is the major you go into if you don’t want to take math. It’s the major that doesn’t have weed-out courses. (I am NOT saying that no teachers can do math, or that no teachers could survive in an engineering class, I’m just stating a reality about the state of teacher training at most universities.

    If you want to be paid like an accountant or an engineer or what have you, then you have to have the same employment terms as other fields, with all the good and bad that entails.

    I know that someone is going to accuse me of hating teachers. I don’t. I really appreciate what good teachers do. But as a parent and a taxpayer, I am really frustrated.

  • 127. cps grad  |  June 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    @copyeditor/CPSdepressed
    I’m not trying to say that you can’t evaluate a teacher, you certainly can but unfortunately it isn’t easy and it will cost the schools systems money. My point is that trying to change things to how it is in the private sector is not necessarily the answer either. Let’s not kid ourselves—many people in private sector jobs would say that there is an “incompetent” working at their company making tons of money and doing little while everyone else picks up the slack. I hear this all the time from my friends and family. Good work is not always rewarded fairly. Additionally, the private sector continues to have huge discrepancies in pay. Two people in the business world may do the same work, have the same performance, with the same amount of experience, but based on someone’s negotiating skills one of those workers may make significantly more than the other. There is an unsaid rule in business not to tell your colleagues what your salary is for that very reason — let alone bonuses! Women continue to make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same job. According to a the Government Accountability Office, men with children earn about 2% more than men without children. The reasons behind salary differences can be subtle and bias can be unconscious. In the end, performance evaluations will always have an element of perception. You might be able to quantify certain aspects of a job (such as sales figures) and reward employees justly by commission in such cases, but opinions such as which employee is a team player or who puts in the extra effort is often colored by personality compatibilities. Base salary, raises, and bonuses are often based on those latter qualities. That is one of the reasons that unionized jobs have the lane/step system – at least it gives some perception of fairness. The reality is that both systems are flawed, and both systems have their advantages. The government just doesn’t want to be sued for discrimination so the lane/step system minimizes this risk.
    I would like to add as well that many people on this and other boards have stated that no one at their private sector job has gotten a raise in the last 3 years. The truth of the matter is only the boss knows who is getting a raise. I’m pretty sure that there are quite a few people out there who have received raises lately (at least the CEOs and CFOs  perhaps). Just because you personally haven’t gotten a raise, doesn’t mean that someone else hasn’t.
    As to merit pay, I am a teacher in a union school and we have merit pay. The difference is that it is NOT what most people think of as Merit pay. It is a lane/step system but there is a detailed process to move lanes. You first need to be nominated by a supervisor and then need 2 letters of support from colleagues. These colleagues then go before a committee of administrators and faculty who review the nomination. The committee determines who moves to the merit lane and who does not. Every 4 years, a teacher on the merit lane is reevaluated to stay on this lane or move back to the standard lane.

  • 128. cps grad  |  June 17, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    @Cpsdepressed
    I have to smile at your comment on math. I was a math major in college and then did my masters in math education. But I would agree– there are a lot of teachers out there who go into the field of primary education because they have a math phobia. Unfortunately numeracy is an important life skill applicable in all the grades and important math skills and number sense are learned even in Kindergarten and 1st grade. As a high school math teacher I see the repercussions of poor elementary math skills all the time

  • 129. Hawthorne mom  |  June 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I think there are ways to evaluate teachers, but it is very, very difficult to do it well and to do it fairly. (probably like many jobs) I also think there are a LOT of teachers out there who would LOVE the chance to improve and who would welcome a fair and sensible evaluation system, especially one they had input into designing. Evanston 65 has a program much like the one cps grad describes and it is pretty good.
    I don’t think education is the job you go into when you can’t do math. I think education is the field you go into when you are absolutely passionate about helping children learn. Yes, education courses and program are notoriously easy and I can tell you my high school was easier than both my undergrad and graduate program put together. But teaching itself is, like many jobs, incredibly difficult. Getting 32 kindergarteners to read, walk in a line, raise their hand before talking, be polite, use scissors, communicate with their parents, assess all of them individually in about 2 dozen areas every 1-5 weeks, managing the large group while working with a small group when you have no aide (like 95% of all CPS schools), deal with the BOE and all their initiatives that hinder our work instead of helping it, etc….requires a tremendous amount of skill, practice and persistence.
    CPS depressed, I don’t think you hate teachers, though certainly some of what you’ve written I don’t agree with. I think you are wanting to see good teachers rewarded, bad teachers remediated or gotten rid of, a balanced city budget, a sense of fairness (and we all may disagree on what is fair, but it seems like you really care about fair) and you want great teachers in front of every single classroom.
    We all want that. You asked once why teachers don’t look to someone other than the union to make that happen. I think it is because it is really the administration’s job to do this. With all respect, how many people actually have to go to their peers and tell them they aren’t doing a good enough job? Isn’t that the boss’s job? It isn’t my place. And realistically, when I am in the classroom, I only have so much energy to spend….and I’d rather spend it on my students than on some other teacher who I have little to no influence over
    .
    Sometimes I wonder if ALL of us couldn’t benefit from spending a week in eachother’s shoes. I would absolutely HATE any kind of job that involved working in an office or store. I would hate any job that required me to work with bodily fluids,like healthcare of any kind. It would literally kill me and I don’t know how my doctor and nurse friends do it. You could not pay me enough money in the world. Yet, as time consuming and difficult as teaching is, I love, love, love my work. Nothing in the world other than my own kids makes me happier than teaching….even with all the bad parts of the job.

  • 130. Hawthorne mom  |  June 17, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    On the nine o’clock news tonight, they announced that in addition to rescinding the school staff raises, the BOE has the power to raise property taxes and they may be doing that. They also indicated that some popular school programs that may be cut.

  • 131. Grace  |  June 18, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Since when does the B of E have the right to raise propoety taxes, but not the right to demand the return of TIF money? Or the lottery money?
    Mr, Vitale, audit, please.

  • 132. Grace  |  June 18, 2011 at 9:07 am

    This is from Raise you Hand Illinois

    A Response to Governor Quinn’s Email

    Dear Governor Quinn,
    Re: Your Email sent 6/16/11
    We applaud your efforts to work with the Illinois legislature on issues around education reform. However, based on the response that you have sent, we think you must have misread the emails that over 3,000 of our members sent you. Our letters were not about SB-7, but about the issue of education FUNDING. During the same session that you passed this reform bill, the Illinois Legislature cut education spending by $171 million. It’s wonderful that you signed a bill that would allow for a longer school day and increased teacher training, but we are confused because you are also poised to sign a bill that will slash funding to cover this longer school day and training. Parents in our group are interested in quality of instruction, not just quantity. By decreasing education funding, we believe this bill will not be able to live up to its potential.

    Every day we are getting emails and calls from parents who are losing art, music, science instructors at their schools. They are also losing faith in a system that they question can adequately prepare their children for lifelong learning and success. Telling them not to worry because the day is going to be longer at their school hardly solves the problem. Don’t get us wrong, a longer school day is important to many of our members. However, if that longer day comes with fewer teachers, a loss of critical programs, and a narrow curriculum, it is meaningless.

    We would be happy to sit down with you and share some of our thoughts about the real issues surrounding education reform.

    Sincerely,
    Raise Your Hand Coalition Steering Committee

  • 133. Grace  |  June 18, 2011 at 9:23 am

    From district 299, there are a few CPS principals who noticed that teaching positions are being cut by CO, on Friday evening and after school budgets were approved by their LSCs. The budgets were very late this year, schools had them on June 6 (I think) and had to turn them around in one week.
    Cutting the 4% raise means teachers will still lose jobs, programs will still be cut. Children will get the shaft — from Rahm/ Duncan/Madigan/Quinn.
    Obama’s election will be theirs to lose.

  • 134. Grace  |  June 18, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Foreclosures in Chicago have moved higher again. Btw, Chicago has scheduled an electronic auction of delinquent property taxes from July 19 to July 22. You must pay overdue taxes for 2009 by July 13. If your 2009 property taxes aren’t paid up, your home’s delinquent taxes can be bought by an investor. The investor pays the taxes, then collects from the homeowner and can impose very high interest rates on the homeowner. It is a big, expensive headache to rectify and if you don’t, you can lose your property to the investor. For the investor, it is a piece of cake, as the property secures his investment; It’s a cross between a bond and an call option.

    I would love to know who the big purchasers of delinquent taxes are, and how much they contributed to Rahm’s campaign. I wonder if this auction will feed the new property investment fund that Penny Pritzker had started a few months back?

  • 135. cps Mom  |  June 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

    CPS grad – regarding teacher evaluations. I do see that great teachers can get mixed messages from parents and that has got to be difficult. However, parents do agree when a teacher is not performing. In the work place, most bosses are not side by side with their employees examining everything they do that’s why there is a process of reporting. When an employee accomplishes something they document it and the boss has something to evaluate – along with how this person utilizes their time, impacts company goals, handles the customer, is a team player, etc. There is no such system in CPS. If a teacher has a quiz and spends 3 hours at home grading it then is should be documented. If a teacher develops a new, exciting and effective class plan it should be documented. If they are working 80 hours a week doing extras, tutoring and reviewing essays then they should document it. The reason they don’t – it doesn’t matter because there is no system in place. Any work outside of the required hours is completely discretionary something that a few take full advantage of. But let’s give the tenured their due – is this what that talented young professional has to strive for?

    I’m sure that many teachers hate the Impact system. As a parent, I’m finally privy to what my child is doing before he starts to fall behind. It is wonderful. This is probably another reason that you are hearing more from parents. I can also see that some teachers are very prompt about posting work while others are not and the amount and degree of difficulty varies from teacher to teacher. Some systems are already in place that show a picture of what is happening.

    The student is the “customer” the parents represent them. Keeping the parents out of the process is not a solution. I’ve seen some bold parents and those with students leaving the system or protected somewhat by IEPs etc come forward with letters and petitions or just reporting in to principals – to no avail. Other parents dare not come forward at the risk of their child’s grades. There needs to be a forum between parent/teacher/principal so that issues are resolved in a meaningful positive way. I don’t like the fact that the new science teacher out of college who is brilliant, makes class fun and motivates the kids to learn is removed in favor of a more experienced teacher that has an attitude and lackluster class.

    I don’t buy into all the “cloak and dagger” with salaries in the work place. Any incompetent employee – and yes they do exist – especially those earning high salaries are fired. I’m sure there are exceptions everywhere but for the most part, that’s the deal.

  • 136. cps Mom  |  June 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    @129 – Hawthorn Mom – I wanted to say that I appreciate your comments. Its teachers like you that make a difference. I can’t imagine what it’s like keeping 30 kids in line and the rest of the behaviors. I was always happy to have had talented teachers that have the ability to groom a child for life into a good and responsible individual.

  • 137. cps grad  |  June 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    @cpsobsessed
    You mention rewarding teachers who do their best to work with parent/families/kids, share ideas with colleagues, and contribute the school atmosphere, etcetera. I agree, these teachers should definitely be rewarded. and the merit system that I mentioned at my school actually uses these very qualities (as well as many others) as criteria for merit lane change. The merit pay system used at my school was negotiated between our union and the board many years ago. The teachers have bought into this system because we a part of creating it. I just find that most of the rhetoric these days is about “student performance” as measured on standardized test scores. That is what is really scary to a lot of teachers especially those who teach in some of the most difficult circumstances.

  • 138. Sped Involved  |  June 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    @Grace. If you’re not a blogger now, you should be. I’d read your stuff like white on rice.

  • 139. cps grad  |  June 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    @cpsobsessed-
    I agree with you that it is very disheartening to know that there are tenured teachers out there who earn big salaries and don’t pull the same weight as others. What makes me most angry about that is that their principals aren’t doing what they can to push those teachers to perform better. You can fire a teacher who has tenure; it just takes time and documentation. Perhaps if more of those teachers felt the threat of action, they would step it up more. Instead the whole tenure system is under attack because the superiors have not performed their jobs.

  • 140. Apple  |  June 19, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Just to clear a few things up about teachers.

    Teachers are 9 month employees. They do get paid for only 9 months of work. HOWEVER that 9 month pay is spread out over 12 months. So while yes we do get summers off, but we are getting paid for work that was already done during the school year. We are not getting paid for doing nothing. Whether or not you think we get paid too much is up to you. I enjoy my summers off and it is a perk of being a teacher, I admit it! Many times over the summer however I am taking classes and doing professional development to improve my teaching. I do work VERY hard during a school year and I love my job. I realize that not all teachers do unfortunately. Please do not lump all good teachers and not so good together, it’s just not fair to generalize.

    Also, as a teacher I would be happy to have an extended school day. I personally believe as do many teachers and parents that our school day is NOT long enough. I need more time to teach but I do and EXCELLENT job with the time that I have. More time would be a blessing and I’m not talking about getting paid more money either. I’m talking about what is BEST for the students. I as a teacher want what is best for the students too.

    So my last point is please do not look at the teachers who want a raise as the BAD GUYS. This year I was thrilled to hear that CPS didn’t cut as many teachers and was not worried about my 4% increase in pay because teachers kept their jobs. The truth is that CPS agreed to a contract with the CTU and now they can’t keep their end of the it. Fine, I understand hard times and everyone doing their part, I am a taxpayer as MOST CPS teachers live in Chicago. I am willing to do my part and for go my 4%. However, please understand teacher frustration when part of the reason that CPS is in financial trouble is because of their own mismanagement of money. This mismanagement includes things like unnecessary expensive testing, failed school initiatives, too many Central Office employees who do not directly impact the students, and simply a misuse of taxpayers money, not to mention the money owed to the district by the state of IL.

    It’s a complicated state of affairs right now, and everyone is trying to figure out what is the BEST thing for students first. I can tell you this, it isn’t going to be solved by parents attacking teachers. I think teachers are an easy target, but when looking at the big picture, the 4% raise not the big problem.

  • 141. cpsobsessed  |  June 19, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I read this nicely written post on the Raise Your Hand site. Although a commenter there pointed out that the article doesn’t specifically single out the head of the teacher’s union for referring to the lack of raises as “slavery.” Good point, but just reinforces the title of the article – work it out!!

    Grown Ups: Work it out for the Kids

    In case you haven’t seen the news in a few days, there’s a big battle over teacher raises right now between the CPS board and the Chicago Teachers Union.

    While everyone knows that times are bad, we think that CPS should do a better job of explaining their deficit numbers to the CTU and the public in general.

    We are also disturbed by the new Mayor of Chicago’s comments that students were “left on the side of the road” and “given the shaft” as a result of the contract. If you are going to rescind the raises of the people who dedicate their lives to taking care of our children every day, why follow it up the next day with such insulting and vile language? How about more reconciliatory language to our hard-working teachers like, “we’re sorry we can’t pay you your raises this year, we are working on reforming TIF, looking at the amount of money we spend on standardized testing and test prep materials, etc.” so that we can honor our contract in the future. How about a plea to our great teachers to stay with us at CPS because we are all going to work together to make this system better? A false and insulting accusation that teachers have been giving their students the shaft is not helpful.

    The CPS and the CTU need to sit down and work this out like adults. Our kids depend on them for leadership and compromise. Show the children of Chicago that you can work this out without vitriol and ongoing disrespect.

    We are tired of the old paradigm and demand something new and better for the children of Chicago.
    In case you haven’t seen the news in a few days, there’s a big battle over teacher raises right now between the CPS board and the Chicago Teachers Union.

    While everyone knows that times are bad, we think that CPS should do a better job of explaining their deficit numbers to the CTU and the public in general.

    We are also disturbed by the new Mayor of Chicago’s comments that students were “left on the side of the road” and “given the shaft” as a result of the contract. If you are going to rescind the raises of the people who dedicate their lives to taking care of our children every day, why follow it up the next day with such insulting and vile language? How about more reconciliatory language to our hard-working teachers like, “we’re sorry we can’t pay you your raises this year, we are working on reforming TIF, looking at the amount of money we spend on standardized testing and test prep materials, etc.” so that we can honor our contract in the future. How about a plea to our great teachers to stay with us at CPS because we are all going to work together to make this system better? A false and insulting accusation that teachers have been giving their students the shaft is not helpful.

    The CPS and the CTU need to sit down and work this out like adults. Our kids depend on them for leadership and compromise. Show the children of Chicago that you can work this out without vitriol and ongoing disrespect.

    We are tired of the old paradigm and demand something new and better for the children of Chicago.

  • 142. cps Mom  |  June 19, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Oh 140 and 141 thanks for both posts. We are not trying to lump good and bad teachers together it’s just that bad teachers warrant more discussion. The inability to lose the bad teachers and keep strong newer teachers is not only frustrating but a detriment to our children,

  • 143. Grace  |  June 20, 2011 at 6:20 am

    A great big thank you to Apple, H-mo and to all the other committed and altruistic CPS teachers who take the time to comemt on this blog and give us insight into their working conditions, how over-testing narrows the curriculum and shortchanges our kids, and on the mismanagement by Central Office and CAOs.

    cps mom, I wonder if you would want to share your experiences with a bad teacher(s)? In my 10 years at CPS, I am happy to say that I have run across very, very few wek teachers. And I have also noticed that new, intelligent and energetic teachers often need 2 years or so to hit their stride. Tell us about what lies behind your concerns, and what attempts you made, or felt you couldn’t make, to correct the issues. Thanks.

  • 144. Grace  |  June 20, 2011 at 8:07 am

    You might like this brief summation, from Chicago News Coop’s James Warren

    How Rahm sizes up the CTU
    “The Emanuel camp’s calculation is that various realities make a walkout unlikely. Those include deficits, the system’s sub-par image, the bargaining ramifications of a new state education law, and how a majority of teachers will get increases, distinct from the 4 percent now in jeopardy, based on years of service or added educational attainment… The competence of the moribund union’s past leadership rivaled Italy’s, and the new union chief, Karen Lewis, must somehow galvanize members over an issue, perhaps preserving their pensions.” — James Warren, CNC

  • 145. Grace  |  June 20, 2011 at 8:16 am

    From the always interesting Professor of Education at DePaul U., Mike Klonsky’s Small talk blog. He is connecting the dots to the labor debacle in Wisconsin, funded by the Koch Brothers, and to Obama’s re-election prospects.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011
    Rahm does his best Ronald Reagan
    “Not to quote Ronald Reagan, but I will: ‘The facts are a stubborn thing,’ ” Emanuel said.

    If there was any doubt that the mayor is itching for a union-busting showdown with Chicago teachers, he’s made it perfectly clear by invoking an old hero — Ronald Reagan. Emanuel’s corporate handlers over at the Civic Committee have assured him that blaming rich, greedy teachers for the budget crisis and going after teachers pay, tenure, and pensions is a political winner.

    They even had him quoting Reagan yesterday, conjuring up images of the great communicator busting the PATCO strike in 1981 and firing over 11,000 workers to the cheers of strike-weary air travelers. But this may have been a mistake at a time when Democrats need to stem the rise in joblessness.

    Rahm and the corporate school reformers see the current crisis as their big chance to do nothing less than bust the teachers union the same way that Reagan busted PATCO. Only this time they are counting on the acquiescence of the union leadership to avoid another Wisconsin-type battle. Fresh off their victory with the passage of SB7, the reformers got the school board to block Chicago teachers’ scheduled 4% pay raise.

    Demagogue Rahm defended the salary cut, claiming “that three out of four Chicago Public Schools teachers will get other types of raises even without the 4 percent increase.” So much for facts being stubborn. The point here wasn’t that Rahm wanted to save the budget-conscious school board some money. Rather, he wanted to nullify the whole collective bargaining process which produced the raise. In essence, Rahm and the reformers are pursuing the same strategy as the Tea Party govs in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Indiana and Michigan. The only difference is in tactics. They want to do it to the workers. Rahm wants to do it to the workers, with their collaboration.

    But they may have overplayed their hand this time. This isn’t 1981. Now they’ve pushed the CTU leadership’s backs to the wall. This is a leadership that won the last union election by promising to lead a fight- back while attacking the conciliatory approach of the old union leadership. Now they have to stand up and fight or lose credibility. It’s not just the promised pay raise but for the very future of their union that’s at stake.

    Greg Hinz at Crain’s Chicago Business writes:

    “Mayor Rahm Emanuel clearly threw down the gauntlet today, as his new Board of Education unanimously voted not to pay scheduled 4% raises for members of the Chicago Teachers Union. Now the question is, what will the CTU do about it? Union chief Karen Lewis has used lots of angry rhetoric lately, but she has only a few days to make a really heavy decision: Whether to accept the cut or use it as a legal device to reopen negotiations on the now somewhat obsolete contract with Chicago Public Schools.”
    Even though SB7 has weakened the union’s ability to organize a strike by requiring 75% of union members to vote for one as well as requiring a long mediation period, this all could still work in teachers’ favor by allowing the union time to organize. It could also help build support from other public employee unions, like the cops’ and fire fighters’. It sounds like Karen Lewis and her troops have decided to go beyond the rhetoric. She went on TV last night and warned:
    “We could easily strike because of this.” The teachers union president correctly blamed the school board for a possible strike by teachers stating “we are still shocked that the board would take an action that could possibly lead to a strike…”
    Even the threat of a strike, blue flu, and job actions by public employees as we head towards the 2012 elections, could well wipe that shit-eating grin off of the mayor’s face.

    Posted by Mike Klonsky at 1:58 PM

  • 146. cps Mom  |  June 20, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Grace – thanks for asking. The problem does exist.

  • 147. BuenaParkMom  |  June 20, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Here was my reply to the suppressed Teacher Fan’s misplaced post (although with a correction of a typo I made) per the above request. Sorry it took so long, I am working full-time with a husband who travels during the week and am busy with community organizing in my neighborhood and serving on my Alderman’s transition team for Education. So I’m a little busy 🙂

    23 – I am VERY curious where you have obtained the following information “When the economy is good private sector employees generally get 8-10% pay raises and many get bonuses while public sector employees only get about a 4% raise.” I have always worked in the private sector, as has my husband, as have most of my friends. I have never gotten more than a 3% pay raise and that has ALWAYS been based on my job performance. I find the idea of ANYONE in ANY job, private or public sector, receiving a 4% raise simply for showing up to be RIDICULOUS. I have no problem with teachers getting raises for improving their credentials. And just because there is currently not a great way to assess job performance doesn’t mean we shouldn’t come up with one. I personally think they should assess a child on day one and then at the end of the year as a portion of that. A good teacher should have taught the child something during that time and they shouldn’t be penalized if the child is not at grade level when they started out 3 grade levels behind but are now only 1 grade level behind.

    I am currently on a salary freeze and I don’t love it. But I put on my big girl panties and go to work and deal with it. My job, while private sector, is in healthcare and much of the payments originate from Medicare which has similar budgetary problems. I am a professional, I like the work I do, and I am glad to be employed with a paycheck. I am glad I am NOT in an unemployment line or have exhausted my unemployment. I also do not make as much as a teacher in CPS. I think teachers have done themselves a great disservice with the union and their representatives. They appear to care only for themselves and not the very people they exist to serve, the student. And unfortunately for teachers it doesn’t matter if the perception is incorrect, because what people perceive to be true is true to them.

    P.S. I think you posted this in the wrong thread.

  • 148. cps grad  |  June 20, 2011 at 10:18 am

    In my second year of teaching (high school) I had a very bright but unmotivated student that didn’t turn in any of the required homework and consequently was 15% of his grade was a zero. Along with some poor tests grades his overall grade was a C-. I had contacted parents several times along the way to figure out what was going on with this kid. They too were struggling with getting him motivated and but we tried to work out a solution. I’m telling you I bent over backwards trying to motivate this kid. Along with the input his parents, I came up with several reasonable plans for him to make up the work to catch him up. In the end, he didn’t turn in a single missing assignment and he received a zero for that work. When report cards came out and the kid got a C-, his parents changed their tune. No longer were they “grateful for all my efforts.” They started calling my supervisor saying that their son had been in accident the previous year and had attention issues. They said that I was not making accommodations for his disability. The thing is this kid did not have an IEP, and legally I wasn’t required to make any extra accommodations for him. I in fact had already made accommodations but he didn’t take advantage of them. When I refused to change his grade, the letters started from their lawyer. They were threatening to sue. As a second year teacher I was pretty scared of this possibility and a little intimidated, but I was very lucky to have the support of my department chair. What was also comforting was knowing that if it came to a law suit, I would have legal help from my union. Luckily in the end the family realized a law suit would go nowhere. The requirements of the course were clearly stated in the beginning of the year, there had been documented communication between the teacher and family, and I had already made accommodations that were not required of me.

    Just like doctors, teachers can be sued. Parents want to protect their children at all costs (it is only natural) and will sue if for some reason they think their child has been harmed. This is their right—sometimes the doctor or teacher really did do something wrong—but in other instances the teacher or doctor really didn’t do anything wrong. The difference is teachers don’t have “malpractice insurance” and defending ourselves legally would be devastating financially. Legal representation from the union is one of the most important aspects of a teacher’s union.

  • 149. Grace  |  June 20, 2011 at 10:26 am

    cps grad — thanks.

  • 150. cps Mom  |  June 20, 2011 at 10:59 am

    @148 – definitely see your point. Just think too how the parents of students that do have IEP’s and 504’s feel when their accommodations are not met or you get a teacher that views attention deficit as immaturity, laziness or just something that they will learn to do if you keep giving them 0’s for missed work. They have no union to go to and many times no sympathetic principal or department head. Another parent asked about what is planned for improving special education. A teacher above mentioned that professional development is a joke. Currently, there is no training for special needs.

    This gets back to my point about the necessity for parent/teacher/principal forum.

  • 151. cps grad  |  June 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    @cps mom–
    The current system for recertification requires that 20% of the continuing education credits (credits needed to renew a teaching certificate every 5 years) must be in the special education category. I know that personally I have worked hard on getting these credits in ways that are relevant to my day to day teaching. These are STATE requirements, but I must say that I am not sure if Illinois is truly checking if these credits are earned appropriately.

    By law teachers have to have 4 Institute days for professional development. I’m really can’t talk for CPS, since I teach in the suburbs in a very well funded district, but at where I work Professional Development is usually pretty good. The professional development days are planned by the administration and if the days are worthwhile and relevant it shows, if they are planned very quickly with not a lot of thought, this also shows. I must say the days when we listen to some speaker for several hours are usually the least helpful. Some of the most worthwhile days are spent collaborating with others in our school or department and using this time to learn from each other.

    As to special needs kids, no teacher has an excuse for not providing a 504 plan or IEP accommodations. I certainly can understand and agree with a parent who sues if a teacher is ignoring these accommodations. Although I must admit that I have had kids where I didn’t understand why they had an IEP, it is not my place to judge. I am not trained in diagnosing learning disabilities or doing tests on processing. I know from experience that sometimes learning differences are very obvious, but a lot of disabilities are hidden or students compensate enough that a teacher doesn’t notice them. A teacher who thinks they more know than the professionals who diagnose these children is making a grave mistake. My point though is we live in a very litigious society. People sue about everything (more than I think is appropriate, but that is just my opinion). Although most teachers retire without ever going through a law suit, I know one wonderful teacher who did have some trouble once. Thank goodness she was in the union. I know that I would be very nervous about teaching without my “malpractice insurance.”

  • 152. On both sides  |  June 20, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    My father was a public high school teacher for 35 years before he died. My mother was a catholic elementary school librarian for about 15 years. Both were severely committed to excellence and both were severely underpaid, in my opinion, for the 150% they put into their jobs (24/7…for the entire year) and the kids with whom they worked. I am on both sides of this issue. My dear father, rest his soul, would not agree with a blanket 4% raise across all of CPS. He would have believed in pay for performance. Had that been the case when he was alive, my family probably wouldn’t have been brought up on powdered milk and homemade clothes. My mother, an educator/librarian, made pennies per hour. She, too, would agree that good…really good teachers deserve the sun, moon and stars. But that those not deserving shouldn’t be rewarded for poor performance.

    My husband, not an educator, is an incredibly hard worker. He hasn’t received a raise from his private company in 6 years, despite loads of positive feedback from managers and clients. No cost of living increase, no merit increase, no bonus…nothing. I am “lucky,” having received roughly 3 percent each year the last 10 years running. And I do consider myself lucky…but I work my a** off, too. And my performance is measured, just as teachers’ performance should be. It’s not impossible or even costly to do. Principals and administrators just need to do it. I can’t agree with increases in pay simply because “that’s what you get.” It’s simply NOT okay to reward mediocrity or, even worse, sub par performance.

    I’m one of the biggest teacher advocates you’ll ever meet. Pay each qualified, hard-working teacher 100K+ per year if you want…but BUDGET for it like any other company/organization does. And I’m sorry to say that if you truly deserve a raise and it’s not in the budget, like it isn’t for my husbands’ company year after year, then it might be time to find a new job.

  • 153. Mayfair Dad  |  June 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    A blanket raise (in any amount) for all teachers regardless of job performance is not in the best interest of our children, it is in the best interest of teachers. Especially low-performing teachers.

    Basing teacher raises and bonuses to job performance will require both sides to agree what excellent teaching looks like and how to measure it. Some folks call this the corporatization of education; I call it the real world and frankly I would like to see a better ROI for my taxpayer dollars than <50% of CPS high school students actually graduating.

    I am hopeful the current posturing by CTU and Mayor Emanuel results in a new compensation model which rewards excellence AND restores the teachers' raises – albeit earned raises for performance, not blanket raises for longevity.

  • 154. Esmom  |  June 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Grace — re 143 — I can give you an example, two actually. While overall we encountered only highly competent teachers for our almost 10 years in CPS, the couple bad apples we met were really, really bad. Both were special ed teachers at the pre-K level.

    My son had been placed in a self-contained sped classroom for his first year of preschool. I quickly realized that most of the other kids in his class were functioning at a much lower level than my son, and I have feeling the teacher wasn’t counting on the fact that my son was able to tell me, after about a month, that all they did for 2.5 hours each day was watch Barney. Also, it took basically one conversation with her and one look into her classroom to see that she did not have it together, not even remotely.

    I also quickly realized that no amount of dialogue would help the situation so I arranged for a transfer to another school as quickly as humanly possible. Luckily I got contact info for someone downtown who was extremely responsive. And while I’m sure I could have reported the teacher and helped provide the necessary documentation to have her removed, I was more concerned with getting my son the resources he needed (both inside and outside of school) to help with his many developmental delays. In short, I was a wreck and didn’t have the energy to take on the teacher issue. My heart did break, however, for the kids who had to remain in her class. They haunt me to this day. (I was very candid about the teacher and the issues with my contact downtown, but I have no idea if she pursued the situation.)

    The second situation, different pre-K program, different school, was similar to the first except in some ways it was worse because I believe the principal was complicit in the fact that the special ed classrooms were so substandard. Fellow parents told me that they had heard she regularly diverted funds allocated to special ed to other areas of the school. Who knows if that was true but her attitude certainly did nothing to make us feel otherwise. She also was very combative, defensive and extremely unpleasant whenever confronted with any issues, however diplomatically.

    In fact half the families(maybe 6) left after one year in that classroom, one to the suburbs and the rest of us to other CPS schools. The worst part is, this was one of the north side elementary schools that are consistently lumped into the “highly desirable” category of neighborhood schools. None of us sped parents took any formal action, again I think we were so frantic about our kids’ challenges that we didn’t feel capable of taking on that fight. However, I did run into one of the moms a few years later and she was proud to tell me that she won a due process case against the school, which meant CPS was picking up her daughter’s tuition at a private school for kids with special needs.

  • 155. Reader  |  June 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    CPS relies on this: “None of us sped parents took any formal action, again I think we were so frantic about our kids’ challenges that we didn’t feel capable of taking on that fight.”

  • 156. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Esmom, thanks for sharing your story. I have heard that certain of the high-scoring CPS schools will accommodate only those SpEd children who are not able to take the ISAT, so that their scores will not be included. That may be why your son was put in the self-contained classroom, and why the principal was not about to help place him correctly.

    And H-mom has posted before about how terribly lacking CPS is in offering appropriate SP Ed.

  • 157. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 8:33 am

    cps mom — I think that the way our Sp Ed children are treated all comes down to the principal’s discretion at each school. The principal knows the law and the educational programs and can direct the teacher who might be recalcitrant.

    I have also heard that principals and teachers are asking parents to switch their children from an IEP to a 504, which, I was told, is less legally binding on CPS.

  • 158. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I wish that Rod Estvan of Advance Illionis would weigh in on this issue.

  • 159. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 21, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I’ve heard a lot of nightmares about special ed. Here’s how it works at these “top” schools that draw most students from out-of-neighborhood: the family goes in, the principal says that the school really isn’t set up for special ed and the neighborhood school may be better. The people who aren’t in the neighborhood get frustrated and leave the school; those who are in the attendance area bring in a lawyer and next thing you know, CPS is paying tuition at Hyde Park Day.

  • 160. Esmom  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:52 am

    On the flip side of all this, we had a phenomenal sped experience at our neighborhood school, Bell. The key was a counselor, principal, teachers and staff who were willing to listen to me and my husband, collaborate and communicate. Truly dedicated to giving my son the resources he needed to be as successful and happy as possible. And, by the way, he did take ISATs with accommodations, in a very supportive environment, and I never caught even the slightest whiff of concern that his scores might potentially bring overall scores down.

    In stark contrast, the second “bad” school I mentioned in my previous comment treated parents and special ed students as nuisances not worthy of their time (in my son’s one IEP meeting there, the only role the counselor played was self-appointed “timekeeper” and had no input other than to tap her watch constantly to warn us that our allotted time was ticking down and then promptly usher us out when time ran out even though we weren’t finished). I began to suspect that their strategy was to antagonize us to the point of leaving where they could thereby wash their hands of us and our bothersome special needs, similar to the scenario outlined in #159.

    Sorry, I meant this to be a positive comment…guess my old wounds haven’t quite healed.

  • 161. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I would never, never, never forget whenever someone went out of their way to avoid helping my child, or even actively targeting him or her.

  • 162. Rod is the man.  |  June 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Rod Estvan is with Access Living. Big difference, I believe. 🙂

  • 163. cps Mom  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Grace – you are spot on about the IEPs – schools are either denying, removing or trying to convert to 504 wherever they can. It is very difficult even in the best of settings to develop a continuous working plan. In many cases teachers are overloaded as it is making evaluation of strategies difficult. Special Ed teachers that pull out students are specifically trained but the typical classroom teacher has little or no formal training.

  • 164. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Sorry — thanks for the correction — Access Living!

  • 165. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    cps mom, I am sorry to hear what you have had to handle. I think there should be a thread on SP Ed concerns, don’t you?

  • 166. cps Mom  |  June 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Grace – may be helpful. I think there are many that need support in this area.

  • 167. Teacher Fan  |  June 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Maybe when I said private sector, I really meant corporate. I have family members and friends who work for larger corporations (i.e. Accenture, Exelon, etc.) who were receiving 10% raises plus bonuses. Perhaps I should have not included all private sector employees. The point I am really trying to make is that before we ask teachers (most BUT not all who work hard and spend their own money in the classrooms) to sacrifice their raise, I would like to see the results of an audit from an independent auditor AND I would like to see an “independent cost cutter or fat trimmer” look at the books. If BOTH of these audits determine that CPS is spending wisely AND there truly isn’t enough money THEN teachers may have to sacrifice some or all of their raises. Maybe, I am just speaking out for the teacher’s at both of my children’s schools because I am very pleased and believe that these teachers deserve their raises.

  • 168. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Teacher Fan — well said. Once upon a time I worked at a multinational and saw nice raises. And an audit is long overdue at CPS.

  • 169. mom2  |  June 22, 2011 at 6:29 am

    @167 – Maybe some of these people you know did, at one time, get 10% raises. Maybe it was quite a few years ago. Or maybe some of them told you 10% to make themselves look good. Or maybe all the rest of the private sector should be working for these few companies. No matter what, if there really is someone out there that had a 10% increase year after year, they are by far an extremely rare exception to the rule.
    I also think that an audit would be a wonderful thing for CPS so we can really learn where the money is going and then they can make wise decisions about where it should go in the future. I love almost all (with again some rare exceptions) of my children’s teachers, but I think they are quite fairly paid and have gotten raises year after year while the rest of the city, state, country has not. I would prefer that if they did find money that could be used for more increases, that maybe it should be used for things that CPS schools are lacking such as music teachers, special education, science labs, better student to teacher ratio, school buildings, supplies, a school/plan for kids with behavior issues so they aren’t making the neighborhood schools undesirable for the majority of neighborhood kids, etc. etc.

  • 170. cps Mom  |  June 22, 2011 at 10:03 am

    @152 – thanks for your post. I think it truly expresses a realistic sentiment.

    @169 – I believe that you have expressed the feelings of many here.

  • 171. cps talk  |  June 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    This is really aggravating!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/22/cps-administrators-await-_n_882217.html

  • 172. Grace  |  June 22, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    !70 — I agree with cps mom’s sentiments.
    171 — Galling!

  • 173. Teacher Fan  |  June 22, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Ok–here is what I mean about waste (from my other posts #115 & #167):

    School level waste: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/02/07/school-sends-teachers-to-vegas-spa-on-taxpayers-dime/

    How is it that CPS allowed a school to use their money in this manner? Why didn’t someone stop this trip? I’m told it is common practice at many schools, especially the higher poverty schools with lots of discretionary funds. Why couldn’t several schools pool their funds and bring the presenter to Chicago–it would have been cheaper? The CAO must approve these trips. This brings me to my next point….

    Area Level Waste: Why do we need all of these CAO’s. Half of them should be fired—just keep the effective ones. CPS has 18 elementary CAOs, an AMPS Officer (basically a CAO for schools who are high performing and don’t need to be told what to do) and I believe 4 High school area CAOs. That adds up to 23 CAOs each with pay over 100K plus their staff. What an absolute mess and waste of CPS resources? Teachers & Administrators often lament that the area offices do not provide enough support to the schools and are so far removed from what is going on in the schools that they pile on unnecessary useless mandates that get in the way of real teaching.

    Central Office/CPS Board Waste: Why is CPS providing the moving expense money for our new CEO (see post #171 above)? And there is this: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/02/01/cps-made-charitable-contributions-with-taxpayer-money/ and this:
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-01-04/news/ct-met-cps-president-spending-0105-20110104_1_school-board-report-questions-spending-annual-report

    If/When this kind of abuse of taxpayer money ceases THEN we can ask teachers to forgo raises.

  • 174. cps grad  |  June 23, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I went to a recent LSC meeting and the issue of discretionary funds was discussed at length. There are neighborhood CPS schools that discretionary funds in the millions. Then there is my neighborhood school that had $150,000, until this year when Brizard got rid of minimum funding.

    My mom was a CPS teacher (retired more than 15 several years ago) and worked in one of those schools million that got millions. It one of the worst schools in the district, and according to my mom it was grossly mismanaged by the principal. It made her sick how the money at the principals discretion was mismanaged and wasted! Now a lot has changed since those days (charters, LSCs, mayor take over of the schools) , but I would bet that one thing she said about discretionary funds has not changed—money that is left over at the end of the year is spent even if it isn’t needed. When mom was teaching she said that they poured money into her school and near the end of the year if there was money left over the principal would scramble to buy books, materials that weren’t really needed because they had to use up all the money or it wouldn’t be available the next year. She said these materials were often not even used the next year. Whole curriculums would end up in the dumpster few years after it was purchased! To make the matters worse, I went to a different neighborhood school with a lot less money. We had books that were 20 years old, and little materials.

    Now I could be wrong, but I would bet that this practice is still going on.

  • 175. Grace  |  June 23, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Teacher Fan — all really excellent points.

    Btw I was annoyed to find out that NCLB funds — that are supposed to go to parent support/training — actually were spent to send busloads of parents to see the film Waiting for Superman — propaganda for charters. The film wasn’t eligible for an Oscar because, although it is ostensibly a documentary, the director staged scenes.

    Perhaps you would consider writing your comments and research up as a Letter to the Editor for the Trib, Sun Times, The Reader, Catalyst or Chicago magazine?

    It really is too much,. Then the new Board voted increases for new staff of up to 42%.

  • 176. Grace  |  June 23, 2011 at 9:30 am

    cps grad — that’s very interesting. It may be why some principals were complaining on district 299 blog last Friday evening that CO was cutting positions and forcing them to pay for teachers they wanted to keep out of discretionary funds.

    Wonder if anyone knows the whole story?

  • 177. cps grad  |  June 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Grace–At the LSC meeting I attended, the principal said that our neighborhood school was already using their discretionary funds for one teacher and 1/2 of an aide (the rest paid for by the PTO), the before school algebra and afterschool program, materials, books, and some computer equipment that was bought on a payment plan. Now since minimum funding was eliminated they only have $33,000 in discretionary funds (money for low Income students, we have only 10% low income students). The cheapest teacher on staff is $70,000 (including salary and benefits) so there was no money to pay for the teacher. They were scrambling to figure out what to do next year since the school doesn’t have a realistic discretionary funds budget. She said that the board was thinking about giving another $60,000 (from some other fund I forgot what it was called), but money that has to be used for professional development or a classroom teacher. They figured that they will be able to keep the teacher, but that only leaves $23,000 for all of the other stuff. There were a lot of details, but in the end we are losing an aide, a special education teacher and the afterschool program. The PTO might pick up the algebra progarm. This makes me so angry when I know there are schools out there that have millions in discretionary funds and they are taking parents to go to the movies! These schools are underperforming misusing their capital and my neighborhood school, ISAT wise, is top 50 in the state and they buy computers on a payment plan. We don’t even have a Reading Specialist! Next year the eighth grade is going to be 38 students!

    The good news is that we are finally getting a much needed school addition. The school is so overcrowded that we won’t even have a library next year mobile unites house 100 students, and there is no special ed room, lunch room or music room. The school is currently at 150% capacity. I am so thankful that the addition will be done before my daughter gets there.

  • 178. Teacher Fan  |  June 23, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Grace thank you for the comment. I always agree with the things you blog about. A seal of approval from you means a lot and I will try my best to clean up my post and get it to the papers. I also wanted to send it to ISBE so that they can mandate that CPS stop using funds to send teachers out of state for professional development until the economy gets better. State employees are on travel restrictions and have to jump many hoops to travel outside the state even when the entire cost is picked up by the Feds or the grant. We are so short staffed they don’t even want no cost travel because of the impact of the productivity diminishing while the staffer is at the training. Schools should pool their funds and bring the presenters to Chicago. Grace you are my blog soul sister 🙂

  • 179. Grace  |  June 24, 2011 at 9:33 am

    cps grad — Thanks for sharing, that’s good info to know. And congrats on the excellent family planning — timing things so that the addition is finished in time for your sweetie!

  • 180. Grace  |  June 24, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Teacher Fan, why, you just made my day!

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