The Charter School Post

July 8, 2011 at 6:52 am 256 comments

Reformers love them.  Unions hate them.  Some Chicago parents are dying to get their kids in.  Others know little about them.

Is it possible that we, a small group of CPS geeks will get to the bottom of the ongoing question: Are Charter schools pulling their weight?

I need to read more research, but it feels daunting.  The few times I’ve started to look online, everything seems to be inconclusive.  Which probably makes sense.  I doubt we can lump them all together.  Just like CPS, we hate when suburbanites say we’re crazy to send our kids.  If you look at CPS’ test scores overall, it’s hard to justify staying in the city.  But we know that within the system, there are huge variations between schools.  We know that CPS seems to do a decent job education Tier 3/4 kids and a rather dismal job with Tier 1/2 kids.  Perhaps the answer to charter schools is the same as many things in life:  “It depends.”

I don’t think that Rahm should plow forth blindly with scores of Charters, nor do I think that they are a major threat to our school system.  Perhaps the “truth” lies somewhere in between.   In any case, it’s interesting to discuss, learn about, argue a bit, and in the end, feel more informed about these schools.

I’m going to attempt to copy over the Charter school posts from the previous thread here so they’re all in one place.

Link to the Stanford study:

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Are you smarter than a third grader ? (Guest post by HSObsessed) Northside parents staying in city. Yay. Yikes.

256 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Grace  |  July 8, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Mayor Daley seems to have already plowed forth with charter schools scores. Some have been in place since 1997, and if you like data, this will be interesting.

    Click to access 2009-2010_PerformanceReport.pdf

  • 2. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Here is a summary of the Stanford study that Grace has referred to:

    From Wikipedia:
    In 2009, the most authoritative study of charter schools was conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. The report is the first detailed national assessment of charter schools. It analyzed 70% of the nation’s students attending charter schools and compared the academic progress of those students with that of demographically matched students in nearby public schools. The report found that 17% of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools; 46% showed no difference from public schools; and 37% were significantly worse than their traditional public school counterparts. The authors of the report considering this a “sobering” finding about the quality of charter schools in the U.S. Charter schools showed a significantly greater variation in quality as compared with the more standardized public schools with many falling below public school performances and a few exceeding them significantly. Results vary for various demographics with Black and Hispanic children not doing as well as they would in public schools, but with children from poverty backgrounds, students learning English, and brighter students doing better; average students do poorer. While the obvious solution to the widely varying quality of charter schools would be to close those who perform below the level of public schools, this is hard to accomplish in practice as even a poor school has its supporters.

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:41 am

    A reader sent this in today. If anyone is having trouble posting, please email me at

    Less may indeed be more
    Illinois state test results show that charter schools — which typically have more instructional time — actually have a lower percentage of students exceeding state standards, raising questions about the push for longer school days.

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Personally, I am confused about Charter school funding. Does CPS just hand over the alloted amount per student to a charter (same amount CPS would spend)? Do they cost the state more? Less?

    The wikipedia article said most charters cost a school disctrict less per pupil. I know some charters get funding from foundations, which seems like a good thing for a school to take advantage of.

  • 5. Grace  |  July 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    How much does it cost and what are the results? Good questions. It’s time for cps obsessed readers to do some real research on costs, including philanthropic contributions.

    I don’t think that will be a quick effort, alas, so check back!

  • 6. Hawthorne mom  |  July 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    If I remember right, charters get about 75% of what regular public schools get, making them cheaper, and that they have to make up the difference through private funds. But maybe someone else has better/different information.
    I would love to know what two of the CICS schools (Irving park and ????) are doing right because those two schools, as well as Namaste Charter are doing quite well. In fact, if there was a Namaste North, and I had toddlers, I’d be looking at that school pretty seriously.
    But overall, after looking at charter school test scores in Chicago, while they might be a better option than many neighborhood schools, I am not impressed.
    I have heard that my own neighborhood of Rogers Park is likely to open a new elementary charter in the fall of 2012. We have CMSA, for 6-12th grades, which has an average ACT of 17 (one point higher than the neighborhood high school). I think the local kids who can’t get into SE’s but whose parents know our local high school is really awful go there. So, I’d assume the new charter would be K-5. It is supposed to have an arts focus. We’ll see. I’ll be surprised if it does better than our local schools, most of which score very low, but who knows?

  • 7. Grace  |  July 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    If you have time, you might check out what a Tribune reporter wrote about an influential teacher. It’s on Catalyst.

    No deficit of caring with these educators
    Teachers often targets in public debate, but their contributions go far beyond test scores

    By Lolly Bowean, Tribune reporter

    July 5, 2011

    There is only one man in my life who sits by the phone on Father’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas awaiting my call.

    Albert Walter. He was my high school guidance counselor.

    Not only did Mr. Walter push me to go to college and help me find the money to pay for it, he is one of more than a dozen educators responsible for my success.

    In my small Southern high school, my teachers rallied around me and pushed me to use my talents, work hard and excel despite the many obstacles. And after I left for college, those same teachers sent notes of encouragement and helped pay for my expensive textbooks. Mr. Walter even sent me spending money once a month.

    These days when the public debate comes around to teachers, we tend to focus on school budget deficits, pay-for-performance and the influence of teacher unions. There seems to be a growing tide of resentment toward the people who were once considered members of a noble profession.

    More on Catalyst

  • 8. jc  |  July 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    I’m a newbie on this topic. I understand there are charter school options for troubled areas of Chicago around the loop, but for decent areas of chicago (Wicker Park, Bucktown, South/West Loop, Lakeview, Liconln Park, Old Town), what are (iis there any) good Charter school alternatives to good SE/neighborhood schools? Sorry if this question is too broad.

  • 9. jc  |  July 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Sorry, i meant to say,

    I’m a newbie on this topic. I understand there are charter school options for troubled areas of Chicago, but for decent areas of chicago around the loop (Wicker Park, Bucktown, South/West Loop, Lakeview, Liconln Park, Old Town), what are (is there any) good Charter school alternatives to good SE/neighborhood schools? Sorry if this question is too broad.

  • 10. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    My impression is that the charter schools are mostly south and west. I’ve heard some great things about the UIC Charter high school. Apparently its graduates are now guaranteed admission at UIC, which has been getting more competitive over the years.

    I think “it depends” is the best answer, because the curriculum for charters is all over the place. Also, different states have different requirements, and some are pretty loosey-goosey. And, clearly, too many public schools are failing too many kids. Charters may not be the best solution, and they certainly aren’t the only solution, but I’d hate to see the best charters closed.

  • 11. A Southside Mom  |  July 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Here’s an interesting take: “Are reformers undercutting their efforts by making exaggerated claims of success and ignoring non-school factors like poverty? That’s the gist of what New York Times writer Paul Tough says in a new commentary just out this week — echoing what many critics and opponents have been saying for months or years and essentially endorsing the school+home approach taken by Geoff Canada and others. (The writer is the author of the book about the Harlem Children’s Zone called Whatever It Takes,) Tough calls reformers to task for making excuses about the performance of kids attending schools that they are lauding. This excuse-making includes Urban Prep, whose founder continues to defend the success of his school despite a 17 percent state test score pass rate compared to Chicago’s 29 percent average.” See District 299 blog to link to original NYT piece.

  • 12. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    @9 JC: A couple parents have posted positive things about CISC Irving Park elem charter as doing a very good job at working with kids at above grade level and giving what sounds like highly personalized instruction.

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    From Junior:
    I am not a huge charter proponent or detractor. One thing that I know is that the existence of 10% charter schools is not primarily what is wrong with Chicago Public Schools — and the extraordinary time and energy that some groups spend fighting the concept of charters is really disproportionate to what benefit/harm charters have the capability to create. I think we can all agree that there are vested interests on both sides of the issue that have little to do with the best interests of children. In the particular case of the Gates Foundation, I really don’t see profit motive — I do see some ideological belief, which may be right or wrong — and a general desire to shake out some new ideas.

    Whatever the motives of the people involved — and it’s counterproductive to focus too much on motives over data and ideas — I do agree that we need more accountability for charters. I think they need to perform or be un-chartered (and I feel likewise about non-performing teachers). To me, the benefit of charters is (1) that parents can select an environment that feels right for their particular children, (2) that more differentiated educational approaches can be offered, and (3) most importantly that new approaches can be tried, tested and (if successful) serve as models for our traditional schools.

    There is a lot of hoopla about charters being about union-busting. To me that’s just some paranoia on the unions’ part, for a couple of reasons: (1) charters are a very small fraction of the system (and limited by the state) and (2) teachers at charters have the right to organize (and in many cases they are unionized). But if the traditional teachers feel threatened by the very existence of charters — well, maybe a little healthy competitive spirit is not a bad thing.

    Back to the Gates Foundation — I think their emphasis on data collection and crunching is precisely the kind of rigor that needs to be brought to the debates about charters. Every school — charter or otherwise — needs to be evaluated and held accountable to high standards. Let’s not forget — there really is no model charter school — every charter is free to organize itself around its own principles and practices. I think the existence of such experimental grounds is a good thing. But they, like all schools, need to be held to scrutiny so that we all ultimately know what works and what doesn’t.

  • 14. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    From Grace:

    I admire R. Estvan’s thinking.

    Everyone is aware by now of the Stanford study on charters — 83% perform as well or worse than traditional public schools.
    So much for innovative ideas.

    There is no real oversight on how the tax dollars are spent. Certification for charter principals is not required in Illinois. Check out the ISBE school report card on charters for details.

    Also, from PURE — Parent United to Reform Education..

    “The evidence against charter schools grows. For example, though this new Tribune analysis last week was headlined “Tests Raise Questions about Longer School Day,” it was really just more evidence that Chicago’s charter schools are not doing well: “The fact that charter schools and neighborhood schools performed nearly the same, despite charters’ additional classroom time, suggests the impact of more time is unclear.” Apparently it does not suggest to the staunchly pro-charter school Tribune that the impact of charters is unclear…

    For more evidence that charter schools are not as great as Arne Duncan says, check out the fantastic new charter school fact sheet prepared by our PAA founding member Sharon Higgins, one of PAA’s charter school experts. And for Public Schools Action Tuesday, please read and share this position paper as well as the charter fact sheet with your friends and elected representatives.

  • 15. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    From Grace:

    If you click on one of the last links in the write-up, you’ll find brief points on charters’ performance across the US.

    Pertinent to us is this from the NY Times, 8/13/2010.

    In 2007, the latest year for which the data was available, “half of Chicago charters ran an average of $700,000 in deficits in recent years, with some of the shortfalls reaching $4 million.”

    That is despite contributions to charters from our wealthiest citizens of about $21 million.

    The latest ISATs show very little difference between charter schools’ performance and traditional schools, despite charters having a longer school day.

    Btw, we should have updated data on this, it’s been nearly 4 years.

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    From Grace:

    I think the general feeling among parents may be that with charters, parents are getting an education for their kids that is new, innovative, and free.

    But those are our tax dollars, taken from our neighborhood, magnet, gifted, selective schools.

    Doesn’t it bother you when the NYT finds that half of all Chicago charters run a deficit of $700,000 each — and some a $4 million deficit?

    The Trib has reported that some charters pay inflated salaries for administrative positions for friends or relatives w.o. credentials. Salaries that are much larger than their counterparts ould make in a traditional public school.

    Next you read that most of our charters are on either 2-year or 4-year academic probation. (ISBE) Then you read that CPS is spending $5.7 million to turnaround a failing charter school.
    But charters were billed as the answer to our failing traditional schools, weren’t they? Now CPS is bailing one out, and spending millions extra to do it.

  • 17. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    From Sped Mom:

    Why opposition? So many reasons. Because they discriminate against many children with disabilities is one of mine. Because they skim higher functioning students/families from the general public school. Because their teachers are less experienced and they tend to burn out their teachers. Because they lie and spin their data. Because they are using the public dime and aren’t accountable. An on and on. I view public education holistically, not just what’s best for my kids. Of course there are a few exceptions one can find. But not many. I think one’s view of charter schools depends on how much one knows and understands the public education system and how important justice is to one. Focus on improving the general neighborhood public school is the answer (& sure, keep the SEs for some folks). I think it was Hawthorn Mom who listed what that would take.

  • 18. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    From anon:

    @76 (Grace) – your stats are misleading. 83% is national. Illinois schools show significant improvement over their public school counterparts. Instead of hearing a spin on numbers, I would love to hear from charter school families that have chosen their school over the neighborhood program. There is obviously a demand and value to some. These schools do not have enough space for the demand – they do not need to sell themselves.

  • 19. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    From Grace:

    Hi @ 82 (Anon) — The Stanford study on charters is well known. ,
    And I guess a reporter would have specified that Stanford did a “national” study on charters. But I didn’t because I expected that most readers here are already somewhat familiar with it, as it is so well regarded. Bit harsh to call that misleading, and the number still stands.

    The latest ISATs showed no appreciable difference between the performance of Chicago charters and traditional public school. two. Despite longer hours.

    Feel free to correct me, however, Love to look at studies and data – I’d be happy to read it.

  • 20. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    From Junior:

    When I see people cherry-pick and abuse data, it makes me suspicious and makes me devalue anything they say. When people say that 83% of charters perform at or worse than neighborhood schools, it tells me they are spinning data. You could take the exact same study and say that 63% of charters provide equal or significantly better performance. Both statements are incomplete and biased — but which statement you make tells me which side of the ideological bias you come from. I have long been aware of the biases of many posters on this board and of groups like PURE, and I choose to take what they say with the appropritate grain of salt.

  • 21. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    From Grace:

    Good point, jr. Just to clarify.
    If a charter performs as well as a the traditional school it replaced, we put a lot of effort into an expensive reform that made no improvement.
    If it performs less well, then it is clearly not the solution.
    so that leaves 17% across the US that do what they are supposed to do, improve outcomes for students.
    That may be an ideology, but I think it is somewhat objective — looking at dollars spent and results and seeing what the ROI is.

  • 22. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Starting to look through the Stanford report and I see several encouraging points in regards to CPS:

    The report found several key positive findings regarding the academic performance of students attending charter schools. For students that are low income, charter schools had a larger and
    more positive effect than for similar students in traditional public schools. English Language Learner students also reported significantly better gains in charter schools, while special
    education students showed similar results to their traditional public school peers.

    The report also found that students do better in charter schools over time. While first year charter school students on average experienced a decline in learning, students in their second and third
    years in charter schools saw a significant reversal, experiencing positive achievement gains.

    The report found that achievement results varied by states that reported individual data. States with reading and math gains that were significantly higher for charter school students than would
    have occurred in traditional schools included: Arkansas, Colorado (Denver), Illinois (Chicago), Louisiana and Missouri.

  • 23. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    But I do agree with their conclusion that Charter schools have to either show results or give it up. Bailing out by the public schools isn’t an option in my opinion.

    “If the charter school movement is to flourish, a deliberate and sustained effort to increase the proportion of high quality schools is essential.

    The replication of successful charter school models is one important element of this effort. On the other side of the equation, however, authorizers, charter school advocates and policymakers
    must be willing and able to fulfill their end of the original charter school bargain, which is accountability in exchange for flexibility.”

  • 24. cpsobsessed  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Aren’t I having a fun Friday night reading the Stanford report? This supports what I read in another report on charters: Success with low income kids. They point out the challenges of duplicating success.
    Assuming this report is valid and I were Rahm/JC, I’d probably be looking to get some of the well-known charters into the city to serve the lower income population.

    “It is important to note that the news for charter schools has some encouraging facets. In our nationally pooled sample, two subgroups fare better in charters than in the traditional system:
    students in poverty and ELL students. This is no small feat. In these cases, our numbers indicate that charter students who fall into these categories are outperforming their TPS counterparts in both reading and math. These populations, then, have clearly been well served by the introduction of charters into the education landscape. These findings are particularly heartening for the charter advocates who target the most challenging educational populations or strive to
    improve education options in the most difficult communities. Charter schools that are organized around a mission to teach the most economically disadvantaged students in particular seem to
    have developed expertise in serving these communities. We applaud their efforts, and recommend that schools or school models demonstrating success be further studied with an eye
    toward the notoriously difficult process of replication.”

    *My note – the ELL numbers really look good in favor of charters. The poverty numbers look very close to me, but Stanford says it’s a significant difference (in favor of charters — I’d say it looks almost equal.)

  • 25. Kathy  |  July 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    I am charter-neutral, but to play devil’s advocate: isn’t it entirely possible (I don’t know, honestly, not having read the report) that the reason some kids do “better” in charter schools isn’t because of the school, but because of the fact that one has to apply (right?) to get in? If you start with the assumption that a significant portion of CPS parents (most of whom are low-income) are under-involved in their kids’ education, isn’t it possible that the charter parents (having been involved enough to fill out applications, etc.) are more involved parents and that is why their kids do better in school? Or was that possibility for self-selection ruled out somehow by the Stanford people?

  • 26. cpsobsessed  |  July 9, 2011 at 12:00 am

    @Kathy, yep, there has certainly been speculation about that — similar effect as in the magnet schools. The study matched kids in Charters with public school “twins” who replicated them but I think it was had to have been all on demo factors and can’t take into account the “attitude about education” that you mention.
    However then you’d probably expect more of them to be exceeding CPS schools rather than being equal. The magnet all outscore the neighborhoods so I’d expect the charters to have an edge.

  • 27. cps Mom  |  July 9, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Sped mom – what exactly are the options for kids with issues? I’ve heard the same about CPS – even private schools have the option to pick and choose. I know a magnet mom with a child in the autism spectrum who along with the diagnosis was given the name of a lawyer specializing in suing CPS for entry into these costly specialty schools.

    As a parent I am interested in creating programs or boosting and turning around existing programs – whatever will provide the best education for our children. Along these lines there is “room” needed to test and expand good ideas and I agree, if a charter or any other CPS program is not working it should go. I am not interested in union politics and administrative games especially when it stands in the way of progress.

    The application process is not necessarily a qualifier these days. There are advocacy groups out in mass signing kids up and the demand far exceeds the supply.

  • 28. Hawthorne mom  |  July 9, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I am sure I am repeating myself, but parents of kids with special needs (beyond minor speech issues or other very minor things), imo, are not served well within CPS proper (and charter school sped service is a ridiculous even for CPS standards). Based on my experiences in several different CPS schools and on the recommendation of literally every single other teacher and principal I know, I’d NEVER send a kid with special needs to CPS. But maybe that’s just me. I am sure there are a handful of schools that may do a semi-decent job with sped kids, but if I had a kid with autism, a moderate to severe cognitive disability, most any physical disability or even an ESL child (don’t get me started on ESL in CPS!!!!), I’d be foreclosing on my home and moving our family to a suburb (probably Evanston, because of the incredible care and detail I saw the schools giving to sped kids and the low teacher to caseload ratios I observed while working there). We’ve got a great sped teacher at Hawthorne and a principal who has made absolutely sure kids who need one-to-one aides get them asap, but I still don’t trust the system one bit when it comes to sped. The things I have seen in sped make me literally break down. For every one bad incident in regular ed, I can list 25+ in sped. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great sped teachers out there, but they are overloaded, asked to lie, given illegal directives, not humanly able to meet IEP minutes, etc…etc….

  • 29. Chicago Teacher  |  July 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I am a CPS teacher, and I support charter schools. I support anyone who has a good idea for boosting achievement. However, I do not blame the neighborhood schools for the lack of progress. There are many factors involved, with poverty being the main problem. If charter operators have a good idea for tackling this, I say let them go for it. It will take constant trial and experimentation to find a good model for each neighborhood, and right now the charter system is the only way to set up an experimental school that gives the operator enough autonomy to implement interesting plans.

    Some teachers are down on charters because they can use non-certified teachers and principals. But those freedoms are essential to setting up a truly experimental model. Charters also get the freedom to choose their own curriculum and assessment tools. What would be the point of setting up a framework for experimental schools if the rules are so strict that they are just like traditional schools? The lack of rules and the freedom to try new things is the whole point of charters, and additional regulation would just ruin it.

    I can’t tell you how often I hear my colleagues say “Why do we have to do things this way? I wish we could just do_____.” What most teachers don’t know is that they, too, have the power to propose experimental schools through the charter system. That they could conceivably band together with like-minded colleagues and escape the tyranny of CPS by creating their own “dream schools.” The process is open to everyone.

  • 30. cps grad  |  July 9, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    I agree with @29 on many points but I have to add the following. Although I believe that our school system needs innovative ideas for change so that progress can happen it also seems to me that some of the proponents of the charter school movement act like they know exactly what is wrong with “public education” and know what to do to make schools better just because they went to school once upon a time or have run a successful business. These people have never stepped into a classroom in any other roll than a student and have no idea on the realities of teaching and education. Every new teacher just out of school has idealism too, and it is really is wonderful thing, but a great experienced teacher has also learned how there are so many more obstacles than anyone could have imagined (both school and non-school related) and those teachers have an extra wealth of knowledge that should not be ignored. The momentum these days is to blame the teachers and thus start up a charter with inexperienced or uncertified teachers who “must be better than the public school teachers” just because they aren’t the status quo. This is one of the reasons there is so much turn over in charter schools.

    I also have real issues with for-profit companies running a school in the public sector. There is so much talk about privatizing education and run it like a business. What many people forget is the history of public education. True free universal public education is in reality a very new concept less than 200 years old. The USA was one of the first countries in the world to have this available to its children. Not to politicize this, but universal education was probably one of the biggest “socialist” acts this country has ever done. By definition “for profit” companies are capitalist, and find their success by eliminating weaknesses within. Charter schools are able to select their students and can expel problem students more easily. I wonder if all schools became privatized, what would happen to the reject students that that no school wants. So much for the great progressive movement of offering a free education to all.

  • 31. Chicago Teacher  |  July 9, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Hi cps grad, I think you bring up a lot of interesting issues, and also some common misconceptions about charter schools.

    A lot of people think that charter schools “choose” their students, but actually they are open to anybody and everybody in the district (by law). If there are more students interested in enrolling than there are seats at the school, then the school must conduct a lottery, where the seats are given away by a random drawing.

    You also brought up being bothered by schools being run by for-profit companies. I have heard this many times before when talking to people about charters, because most people don’t know that Illinois charter school law stipulates that the organizations running charter schools *must* be not-for-profit. So there are no charters run by for-profit companies.

    Lastly, you worried that charters are more interested in hiring young, new teachers than older, veteran teachers, because of some idea that young teachers are better. While charter schools do have the freedom to hire whoever they want (just like any school), there aren’t any charters that specify in their education plan that they will only use young or new teachers.

    Remember, anyone who cares about education can propose a charter school, including teachers. I think it would be a great idea for someone to start a charter school that stipulates it will only hire teachers with a certain number of years of experience. I bet those veteran teachers would have tons of great ideas for building their “dream school.”

  • 32. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 9:30 am

    CPS Teacher, do you work in a charter school? Which one?

  • 33. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Closer to home, actually right here in Chicago, the ISAT results “show that charter schools — which typically have more instructional time — actually have a lower percentage of students exceeding state standards.”

    [So there it is. The charters don’t hire union, certified teachers or principals, and their turnover is much higher. Yet despite the much longer school day, fewer charter children have ISAT scores that exceed state standards.]

    “Noemi Donoso, of Chicago Public Schools, says improvement is “not going to be simple.”

    On Tuesday, Noemi Donoso, the new Chicago Public Schools’ chief education officer, said, “Just extending a school day doesn’t mean, by itself, that you’re going to have high-performing schools. It’s not going to be simple.”

  • 34. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Chicago Teacher, is AUSL a for-profit company? How many of CPS contract schools are run by AUSL?

  • 35. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 9:54 am

    cps grad — If you want a good read on a current effort in the for-profit primary and secondary schools, relatively untested in the U.S., there is a good story in today’s NYTimes.

  • 36. cpsemployee  |  July 10, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I work in a CPS neighborhood school and, while I do not oppose charters, I do resent being compared to a charter school when they are allowed certain things we are not.

    My number 1 complaint is that Central Office releases the individual scores of our students to charter schools, along with their personal information, and allows them to recruit away our top students. We work very hard to get our students where they need to be and every year our top students are lured away to charter schools.

    Within days of the ISAT scores being released to our school in late June, the families of those students who were higher performers had received recruitment letters from UNO. We know this because many of the parents contacted us, including teachers whose children are at our school. Keep in mind, the students themselves hadn’t even received their ISAT scores yet because it was summer time.

    We as a neighborhood school are not given that type of information and allowed to recruit but UNO is. Note that they don’t go after the lower students or Special Ed students – just the high Meets or Exceeds. When they continually skim off our best students then our school increasingly becomes a school made up of lower performing students and our “Meets/Exceeds” percentage drops. Then we are punished.

  • 37. cpsemployee  |  July 10, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Also, we as a neighborhood school must take everyone within our school boundaries while a charter school does not. Would people be fighting to get into our SE enrollment schools if they were purely neighborhood schools who took everyone? I believe in neighborhood schools and work to make them be the best possible but don’t continually compare me to a charter school which has a different set of entrance criteria.

    If you want to compare the academic success of charters vs neighborhood schools then either give neighborhood schools the same accceptance/rejection rights as charters or make charters operate under the same constraints as neighborhood schools. Once that is evened out then you can compare academic progress.

  • 38. cps grad  |  July 10, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Chicago Teacher—Actually all the misconceptions you have named are not mine at all. I am aware of Illinois law, and I understand that by law the “Charter School” itself must be non-profit, but this does not prevent a “for profit company” from creating a “not for profit” arm to run a charter school. The school itself does not make money, but the “for profit” company runs the show. I must say that I have reservations about this fact in the same way I have reservations about the fact that many of the Forbes 500 donate large sums of money to our Public Radio/TV. I will always wonder if these donations come without any “invisible” strings attached.

    From your response I see that you may think that I implied that Charter Schools “select” students based on test scores. The is not what I meant by “select.” I understand that all CPS students are eligible to apply to a charter school and as you said students are then selected by lottery, but a charter school selects its students in other more subtle ways. Many charters require parents to sign contracts, require parents to volunteer, or have other covenants/rules that are more restrictive than a regular neighborhood school. While I understand the philosophy behind such ideas, these requirements in themselves “select” for students with more parental involvement or other factors. What if a student has no parent and is living in a foster home? What if the guardian has 6 other foster children and is unwilling to volunteer the required 30 hours a semester at such Charter school? In effect this student is not accepted and the charter has “selected” out a student. Additionally, Charters can more easily expel a student; and while the reasons for student dismissal is not supposed to be performance (ISAT) related, the fact that Charters have more freedom to do so does not guarantee that grade/performance are not weighed into the factors.

    And thirdly, as to the hiring of teachers, while charter can hire whom they wish and any teacher is open apply, the facts remain the same. Veteran teachers usually don’t go to a charter if they don’t have to. I must disclaim that I am a Union Teacher in a suburban district, so that will of course influence my view, but in my opinion many young new teachers do not realize the importance of a Teacher’s Union. I say this not from the point of collective bargaining, salary, or tenure protection. I say this from the point of view of “legal representation.” Teachers, just like doctors need malpractice insurance. CPS is a very diverse school system and many schools are in very dangerous neighborhoods where teachers risk their lives to go to work. I would never work in such an environment if I didn’t know that I would have legal protection behind me in case I found myself in a situation.

  • 39. cps grad  |  July 10, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Grace–thanks for posting the link.

  • 40. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 11:15 am

    From Jay Matthews, The Washington Post

    Should they close this bad charter school?

    President Obama wants more good independent public charter schools. He also wants states and cities to close bad charter schools. Which charters in the District could we do without? Let’s look at one, the Ideal Academy Public Charter School at 100 Peabody St. NW. It has been open for four years, long enough to show what it can do.
    It is a high school with 96 students, according to Ideal instructional coordinator Pearline Humbles. It has small class sizes, no more than 18 students per teacher. I saw one math class with just five kids. It graduated its first senior class last spring.
    Based on achievement tests, Ideal is one of the worst schools in the city.

    Read more on the difficulty in closing charters that don’t perform.

  • 41. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Thank you cps employee for your post.

  • 42. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Here is an intelligent comment on the earlier Washington
    Post article from Greg Richmond, of the National Association of Charter School Associations

    “Jay, you have identified a significant issue within the charter school sector that needs attention and is finally receiving it after years of neglect. Weak charter schools drag down the efforts of good charter schools to grow and to serve more students – to say nothing of the disservice they are doing to their own students.

    Charter schools are supposed to achieve measurable student outcomes – not simply try to achieve them and fail. Those outcomes should be consistent across all charter schools that an authorizer oversees. The consequence for failing to achieve those outocomes is supposed to be closure, not years of improvement planning.

    Contrary to popular perception, NCLB does not force the closure of any failing school, including failing charter schools. Only the authorizer of a failing charter school can close it.
    The organization I lead, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, works with authorizing agencies to strengthen their practices to maintain high standards for charter schools, preserve school autonomy and safeguard student and public interests. We’re making progress. This year, for the first time ever, Congress has approriated funds specifically to strengthen the practices of authorizers across the country. The development of a quality charter school sector requires quality authorizers.”

    Posted by: GregRichmond | December 14, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

  • 43. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

    A Chicago charter is getting funding from the Abu Dhabi consortium of investors that purchased our parking meters.

  • 44. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Well, we can’t close public schools that don’t perform, either, so I don’t see why that situation is unique to charters. People love underperforming schools as long as their kids go to them. I don’t know why, but they do.

    That, to me, is the strangest inefficiency in the market for education. I would think that a rational parent would want the best possible school, but many don’t want that. Go figure.

  • 45. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

    CPS-D., CPS can and does close under-performing public schools and Duncan has written the “remedies” like turnarounds where all staff is fired into national policy through the Race to the Top initiative.

  • 46. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Must see!

    “Jonah Edelman Spills the Oligarchs’ Blueprint for Crushing the Teaching Profession

    As Lisa Guisbond said, “this is an amazing video from the Aspen Ideas Festival in which Stand For Children’s Jonah Edelman explains how he, with the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Arne Duncan’s senior advisor Jo Anderson (former Executive Director of the IEA) out foxed the CTU, the IFT and the IEA’s Ken Swanson and Audrey Soglin into agreeing to Senate Bill 7. …

    Here is a great example of massive ego { philanthropist Jim Crowne and lobbyist Jonah Edelman} mixed with manipulative glee that was posted and quickly pulled from the Aspen site, but not before Fred Klonsky captured a copy for the world to see and hear. ”

    It really is something to see just how easy it was for two PACS — Stand for Children and Advance Illinois — and a few mega-wealthy Chicagoans, including the Trib’s owner Sam Zell — to end the union protections of Chicago teachers.

  • 47. cps grad  |  July 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I know this is unrelated to Charter Schools, so please forgive me for getting a little of topic. From time to time I watch the CBOE meetings on CATV. A few years ago I was watching and the board was going through a report that was comparing how CPS student outcomes compare to other districts in Illinois– but not as a whole, rather by race, gender and income. I was wondering if anyone else on this board remembers this report. I remember the results were fascinating. At the time the report was available online and but I can’t seem to find it now. In a nutshell, when outcomes are broken down by race and ethnicity/ low income and non low income, Chicago actually performs better at educating low income minority students than other districts on average. Black low income students did better than black low income students in other districts. Same with Hispanics. I also seem to remember that Asian students in CPS did more poorly; I don’t remember what the outcome was for white students. This report also broke down the data by gender.

  • 48. Hawthorne mom  |  July 10, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    #47, I totally remember that report. It did indicate that when you account for race and poverty, CPS generally does better than most suburban districts with students of color living in poverty.
    #36, that seems illegal and a violation of confidentiality–the situation you described with meets/exceeds kids being contacted by UNO. I am not doubting what you are saying because I have personally seen so much illegal and unethical stuff go on in schools that it doesn’t totally surprise me. I do wonder, how can UNO get those scores? They shouldn’t be able to. I wish there’d be an investigation into that!
    And CPSdepressed, yes, underperforming schools are closed each year in CPS.(I want to say there have been 5-15 closed every year for the last few years) Though there is some speculation that schools are closed most often when there is underperformance AND when the area appears to be displaying gentrification of some kind at the same time… know, to make the schools more “desirable” by kicking out all the underachievers from poverty backgrounds. But what one person considers underperforming might not be the same standards of CPS. CPS will likely only close down, transform, or turnaround a school when its scores have been below 30% meets (or even lower) with no progress for a certain number of years. So, while one person can look at a school that only scores in the 70%, and think, well, that school is underperforming…..for CPS, that is actually not a terrible school when you compare it system wide.

  • 49. cps grad  |  July 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Hawthorne mom—I’m so glad someone else remembers that report. I remember coming away thinking that the main problem wasn’t what CPS was doing vs. the rest of the state, rather the Achievement Gap in general. That is, unfortunately, a national issue and not just a local one. I just wish the current political climate and public sentiment would stop looking for the “quick fix ” as in NCLB and stop scapegoating teachers. When are we as a country going to really start examining the causes of the Achievement gap and look for the real solutions to the problem? While I think there are many Charter Schools out there that philosophically try to address these issues and are testing ideas to close the achievement gap, I don’t think the current model for acceptance at a Charter School gives the opportunity to fair comparison. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see a Charter School open that had attendance boundaries just like neighborhood school. Then we could see if their “innovative” ideas actually work in the general population.

  • 50. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    cps grad, well said.

    When you have time, take a look at this video. It’s worth it. Just gives another added dimension to the problems.

  • 51. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Here from Catalyst is a comparison of 8th Grade Scores, ISAT vs EXPLORE test

    School Type
    first column is Change in ISAT Meets /Exceeds
    middle column is Change in ISAT Exceeds
    end column is Change in EXPLORE

    Charter 2.34 -7.6 .03
    Magnet 2.86 -1.98 -.28
    Neighborhood 3.71 .72 .10
    Selective 1.14 -2.01 .12
    Turnaround 13.37 1.82 .33
    OVERALL 3.78 .36 .07

    Neighborhood schools increased the number of students who meet/exceed ISAT standards ahead of charters and magnets.
    I would think that Selective schools would do better on the EXPLORE test than it appears here.

    For a thorough review, go to Catalyst.

  • 52. cps grad  |  July 10, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Grace, please post the video link

  • 53. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Fascinating video from the Aspen Ideas Festival, which has since removed it from their site.

    Chicago philanthropist Jim Crowne and Jonah Edelman, Stand for Children, talk at candidly about how they passed IL SB7, which removes union protections for Chicago teachers, including collective bargaining rights.

    Anyone know if Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children and Joshua Edelman, CEO of New Schools for CPS, are related?

  • 54. cps Mom  |  July 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Thank you Chicago Teacher for your posts. It is very encouraging for parents to hear teachers talking about building schools and caring about education – no matter what the label.

    Can someone explain the perceived “issue” of making money off education systems? I can’t imagine that there would be much of a profit at all even if the schools were run “for profit”. Having worked for Sam Zell many years ago I can say that he is about tax breaks which I’m guessing would be the reason he or supporters like him are involved. The Gates foundation – they paid for the Asia Society membership for Ogden to the tune of around $400,000 – something un-doable with today’s deficits in funding. Why the big grudge against grants and foundations? Seems to me that these people and organizations deserve gratitude.

  • 55. Chicago Teacher  |  July 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Hi Grace, in response to #32, I don’t teach in a charter. I teach in a regular CPS school. I know it seems strange to have a veteran CPS teacher supporting charters, but I am science-minded and really do appreciate the experimental aspect of the charter system. No, they won’t all work (most scientists fail multiple times before making a breakthrough), but IMHO, as long as students and their families are not suffering and are happy with their choice, I think allowing these experiments to take place will benefit us all in the long run. Plus, as a parent, I love having a choice of schools and I like that charters offer a wide variety of specialty curricula to choose from.

    That said, I think all charters need to be judged critically to decide if they are truly working, and if they are not, they need to be shut down.

    I think learning environments are going to change dramatically over the next 20 years, and eventually the traditional public school, as we know it, will be obsolete. The charter movement is at the forefront of this change, conducting trial after trial of different models. In the end, it will all come down to data, and the best model for each type of learner will win. Some students will be learning online, some will be in on-site classes, some will be…oh, I dont’ know…choosing their own path a la Summerhill School. Who knows what the future holds?

  • 56. Matt Farmer  |  July 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    @Grace (#56) — Josh and Jonah Edelman are brothers.

  • 57. cpsobsessed  |  July 10, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    @54 cps mom, I *think* some people have a fundamental issue with schools having a monetary interest. The British School in chicago is a for-profit business and people seem to rave about that place, but I remember reading some posts on NPN a few years back from some families who felt it sometimes problematic, but I can’t quite recall why. Based on my own experience with a private school (not for-profit, but they had to sometimes work to prevent attrition as kids aged). My son was not a good fit with their teaching method (I determined after 2 years) and the principal kept insisting that he’d be fine there. I felt like I couldn’t fully trust her opinion — that she would have said that to anyone to keep up enrollment. Or maybe she really felt this way. But I can see that being an issue in for-profit schools? on the other hand, I feel that inherently, when the students/families are paying “customers” they have more ability to make demands on the school if they want things changed. Or not. Heck, the private school we attended was kept in business by it’s “customers” and they couldn’t have cared less about parent’s demands (in my opinion.) Theory and reality are 2 different things.

  • 58. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Jonah mentions in the video that Rahm was ablle to split the Illinois Federation of Teachers Union from the Chicago Teachers Union, and that, btw, the IFT president’s son heads up Chicago’s Teach for America.

    So, the pattern seems to be — hire the offspring and influence the parent.

  • 59. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Today’s NY Times has an article on a new for-profit school in Manhattan quotes a private equity investor who has made more than $7 billion in education-related investments. $ 7 b as in boy. .

    The edu-prenuer behind the new school names Avenues is “Mr. Whittle, whose last venture, Edison Schools, did not revolutionize public education as he had envisioned or make the money he had thought he could.” …

    “Eventually it will be a good school,” said Jacqueline Reses, a private-equity investor who has made more than $7 billion in education-related investments, though she has not invested in Edison or Avenues. “How good will be related to how they execute over the next 10 years.”

    Mr. Whittle has been here before — expostulating to parents and investors the need for education reform and offering a sweeping plan to put it into effect. In 1992, after almost two decades in media and advertising, he began Edison Schools, a bold plan to privatize the management of public schools in an attempt to improve performance. Edison contracted with public school districts, saying that it could educate children better for less money and walk away with a profit.
    But Mr. Whittle was overconfident about the number of districts he could woo, and just how well Edison schools have performed is a subject of fierce debate. ”

    Go to the story and click on fierce debate to read more…

    so, there’s more profit to this market than we might expect.

  • 60. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Chicago Teacher — can you point me to a charter that you know has an innovative curriculum that you like? Preferably one that you know firsthand? Thanks.

  • 61. Grace  |  July 10, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    FYI — Catalyst has an excellent story on charter budgets. They get less in per pupil expenditures and they pay their teachers much less. Now I see why they don’t want Sp ed students.

  • 62. Patty of Beverly  |  July 10, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Well two Charter schools that I am VERY familiar with are; The University of Chicago Charter Schools (Prk-12). A few of my friends kids attend and their test scores are high, two have gotten into Ivy League Colleges and they emphasis reading, mathematics, science lab and foreign languages. I also have a friend who’s son attends UIC College Prep and he is doing very well also. He recently took the ACT and SAT and his ACT score was a 30! Noble Street-UIC Prep requires its students to take prep courses for both SAT and ACT’s. He also has been on the honor roll for three consecutive years. It is a small school located in the medical district and the nieghborhood and school is diverse.

  • 63. Grace  |  July 11, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Patty — we’ve missed you! I was beginning to think you were a figment of my imagination. : )
    What is innovative about those schools’ curriculums, that you think other schools might want to consider?

  • 64. Grace  |  July 11, 2011 at 3:44 am

    @36 & 37 cps employee,

    Remember when we discussed the preliminary ISAT scores, and I wondered how many low-performing charters could have had such big jumps in their “exceeds” categories, while other schools with a solid track record of success had little to no increases in that category?

    I think you have explained exactly why we see a bump in that exceeds category only for charters — even while overall charter scores have remained below that of neighborhood schools, as Chicago News Coop’s Rebecca Vevea has pointed out.

    It is b/c Central Office is encouraging charters to poach the top students from the neighborhood traditional school, by providing them with those kids’ test scores!

    Thanks for that piece of the puzzle.

  • 65. Grace  |  July 11, 2011 at 3:50 am

    @ Matt Farmer, Are you the writer on Huff Po? I like your stuff.

  • 66. Grace  |  July 11, 2011 at 4:31 am

    An interesting story on Collins, a turned-around CPS high school by Matt Farmer.

  • 67. Grace  |  July 11, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Message from a charter school — thrive or transfer
    in the NYTimes

  • 68. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 11, 2011 at 6:29 am

    The British School is really set up for children of expatriates, who may only be in Chicago for a few years. The child of a BP exec might start school in England, move to Chicago for two yeas, move to Saudi Arabia for two years, and then go back to England, and the interest is in making sure the education is consistent and the child doesn’t get off track from the peers at home. A lot of countries don’t have a private, not-for-profit sector, either, so the for-profit status might not be noticed by the target families.

    The Lycee Francais is a bit similar, in that many of its students are expatriates, but it’s not-for-profit. The French government pays the fees for French citizens who attend.

    In different capital cities in Europe and Asia, there are American schools for expatriates – but they would be more on the model of a high-end suburban school than your average CPS school! Some of these were set up by the large American employers in a given city.

    So that’s all I know about the British School.

  • 69. Matt Farmer  |  July 11, 2011 at 7:06 am

    @Grace (#65) — I am. Thanks.

  • 70. Grace  |  July 11, 2011 at 8:46 am

    There’s a bit about Stand for Children on PURE.

  • 71. cps Mom  |  July 11, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Patty – thanks for pointing out those schools. As CPS obsessed mentions, there are some excellent programs so no need to lump all schools together when talking about options and progress. I am always happy to hear from folks on the southside that can lend additional perspective.

    Chicago teacher – it’s very exciting to see Chicago get on board with global progress. Thanks for your enthusiasm and positive outlook. “CPS Tech Trek” is being offered at some schools this summer. Looks like CPS is trying to make the most of a difficult financial situation.

    Here’s todays news about the Academy for Urban School Leadership – looks like a move that will have benefits.

  • 72. Grace  |  July 11, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Good morning from Catalyst.

    In the News: Outside experts to probe CPS, look for ways to improve teaching, learning
    Posted By Cassandra West On Monday, July 11, 2011

    A panel of education experts from across the country will delve into Chicago’s public school system over the next two months, looking for weak links and hoping to offer the district’s new leadership team advice on how to improve teaching and learning, according to a story in Monday’s Tribune.

  • 73. Jennifer  |  July 11, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Actually most expatriates at the British School are children who would have attended private school no matter what. The private school sector in the UK is much larger than here, but it’s much less common for them to be run by religious organizations, because public schools are allowed to tie themselves to a religion if they wish to. Instead private schools in the UK are much the same as Latin and British are – for those who can afford them.

    French expatriates attending the Lycée Français can apply for assistance from the French Consulate to pay for the fees but they are not completely paid for.

  • 74. Chicago Teacher  |  July 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    One charter that is doing truly amazing things in New York City is the New York Center for Autism Charter School. It serves children with autism spectrum disorders, using a 1:1 teacher to student ratio and 30 hours of applied behavioral analysis per week.

    That kind of innovative programming is just what charters are made for. The teachers are ABA therapists instead of state certified teachers. The school doesn’t even have grade levels, as the curriculum is individually tailored to each child based on his or her unique needs.

    The gains made by students are truly astounding. The hope is that school districts will adopt this model for regular public schools, but that is unlikely given the strict rules that public schools are subject to regarding certifications, testing, etc.

    The charter system is perfect for schools like this, that really want to push the envelope, but would be hampered by regulations in the traditional system.

  • 75. Grace  |  July 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    There is a huge need for CPS programs for our children with autism spectrum disorders. Good to see a public school option exists, even if in NYC.

    Any other charter school in Chicago you can think of, with curriculum innovations that you might recommend? I think that was the original Friedmanesque promise, that competition from charters will breed innovation and that innovation will spread to traditional public schools. That’s why I’m asking. Thanks, CPS – T.

  • 76. Grace  |  July 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    If you’ve seen the video of Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children, detailing how he pushed through IL SB 7 which effectively got rid of collective bargaining for teachers, then you’ll want to read the comments by the esteemed Rod Estvan, a lobbyist inSpringfield.

    It’s funny to see Jonah and his co-speaker, philanthropist Jim Crowne, describe House Speaker Michael Madigan as disliked but still the most powerful man in Illinois. Also matter-of-factly, they call our governor weak and our lllinois government corrupt, before they go on to tell us how they worked their magic.

    Rod Estvan’s comments from district 299 today

    “Responding to Alexander: William Filan and Tom Cullen both were contracted by Stand for Children. Both of these lobbyists know how the game is played believe me. Jessica Handy is on the Stand for Children staff (policy director I think) and I would suspected she worked out the strategy to hire a total of ten additional contract lobbyists. Jessica Handy was on the Senate Democratic staff and she was considered to be one of the best staffers in the caucus and very trusted by President Cullerton. Her family has significant political roots in Springfield and she understand totally how the game is played and when and what you do not shoot your mouth about.”

    Rod Estvan


    Anonymous said 4 hours, 36 minutes ago
    People, when are we going to stop giving credance to these flash in the pan,rich children with minimal experience, maximum arrogance, and no clue about the workings of public education. Of course he is arrogant. His mom opened every door for him. He never had to “toil in the fields” so to speak.
    What I will never runderstand is why we give so much press to these silver spoon children. It is fundamentally one of the problems with public education today, who we listen to, who we give voice to, who we allow to set policy.


    Alexander Russo said 5 hours, 12 minutes ago
    good point, rod — who IS stand’s IL lobbyist, anyway?


    Rodestvan said 5 hours, 26 minutes ago
    I would not characterize Jonah Edelman’s Aspen presentation as being arrogant. As I stated in my original post on this video he was overly honest. Mr. Edelman self-criticizes his attributing motives or perspectives to the unions involved in these discussions that led to SB 7. He writes: “I was wrong to make assumptions or comments about the unions’ political strategy.” Well I do not agree in the least.

    What Mr. Edelman described in detail at the Aspen conference was the tactical approach Stand for Children used to effectively remove the CTU’s right to bargain for anything more than wages and burden the union with an impossibly high strike vote requirement. Anyone who has lobbied in Springfield on a contentious bill, and I confess I am a registered lobbyist, has to make assumptions about the motivation of groups opposing your bill. In fact it is normally part of the lobbying process to attribute certain motives to your opponents publicly in order to gain political advantage for your bill. Politics is not bean bags after all, the stakes are often high.

    So in my opinion Mr. Edelman does not have to apologize for these characterizations, but rather he needs to understand that in the legislative process some things are better not said, even in the Globe tavern in Springfield after five beers, let alone on video. One of those things that should have not been said by Mr. Edelman were his characterizations of discussions relating to the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and comments on funding of candidates. There was nothing illegal in any of those discussions described by Mr. Edelman, but it did make the Illinois General Assembly Democratic leadership look like they were simply for sale.
    Now there are numerous journalists in Illinois who believe that our General Assembly is effectively just how Mr. Edelman portrayed it. But journalists do not need votes from these legislators to move bills and have the luxury of running their mouths, political action committees do not.

    Stand for Children is a PAC and a powerful one in terms of funding apparently, but it has made clear to many members of the Assembly through this video that they cannot be trusted to keep what should not be said publicly just that – not said. So now every member who speaks to Mr. Edelman or his contracted lobbyists has to measure what they say for fear it will show up on video tape, simply put that is not good for a PAC.

    Have I had discussions with members of the Assembly that I would not disclose, you bet I have and so does everyone who lobbies for any issue in Springfield. The simple rule of thumb is if a member of the Assembly wants to disclose a discussion relating to lobbying that is their prerogative and as a lobbyist you must accept that. However, you have not been elected and do not have to right to make decisions for elected officials as to what discussions can be disclosed.

    Rod Estvan

  • 77. Chicago Teacher  |  July 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Grace, the website of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools has a comprehensive list of charters, with links to each school’s website. If you are interested in learning more about the various programs that are offered in charters, that would probably be the best place to start.

    Off the top of my head, I know that Namaste offers a really interesting program focused on health and wellness. There are also a couple of high schools that offer apprenticeship programs in different trades. I know there is the “virtual” school and a few different single sex schools. There are many, many others.

    I do hope that the good programs established in charters will carry over into traditional schools. It is more difficult to do there though because of various rules that regular schools are subject to that charters are not. Maybe if the rules on traditional schools get loosened up a bit, it will be easier to replicate successful charter programs.

  • 78. cps grad  |  July 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    How about this idea to test if Charters really make a difference? The next time CPS closes a neighborhood school for underperformance and then reopens it as a charter, that charter must accept only the students in the attendance area. No selecting students. Period. The Charter is still free to hire their uncertified teachers and institute whatever practices they would like to normally. Then let’s see how the Charter can “turn around” a failing school. Bottom line is the idea of innovation in our schools sound great, but if these ideas and practices can’t be applied to a general population then are they really successful? These Charter schools, remember, are replacing our PUBLIC schools; public schools which are supposed to be open to all regardless of background, ability to pay, disabilities, etc.

  • 79. cpsemployee  |  July 12, 2011 at 6:03 am

    I really like the idea above from cps grad. Since Charter schools seem to be pushing neighborhood school out in certain areas then please have them work with ALL the neighborhood students.

  • 80. Grace  |  July 12, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Think you might be on to something there, grad & employee.

    The traditional CPS schools are pulling their weight, according to the latest ISATs, but not doing well with SP Ed students. So what also makes sense to me is for CPS to use charters
    to address the difficult circumstances faced by many of our poorest children that hinder learning. This approach is the opposite of charter’ skimming the cream that is going on now.

    Here is a story about a NYC charter which is associated with the New York Foundling Home. (I volunteered there at one time in a child abuse prevention program and was impressed with the organization.) Let me know what you think.

    Unique Charter School Throws Foster Children a Safety Net
    by Mary Altaffer/AP, New York
    A Harvard-trained administrator thought she had heard it all as a gatekeeper in a city office responsible for supporting charter schools when Bill Baccaglini walked enthusiastically through the door with one more idea.
    “I thought, ‘Here we go, another big idea,'” recalled Jessica Nauiokas. But she found herself liking his plans so much that she offered to be the Bronx school’s principal. “I walked out of the meeting and said, ‘Wow. That actually is a compelling idea.'”

    Read it here.

  • 81. Anonymous  |  July 12, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Grace — I thought of the same thing last night on the bus. There was an ad for a charter high school that dealt with kids who were struggling from learning disabilities or other issues. And I said to myself that that is what charters should be for. Charters should take the struggling students or the students with disciplinary issues. That way they could get the RIGHT teachers and the RIGHT programs for the SMALLER number of kids.

    I’d have absolutely no problem with my tax dollars supporting charters if they were focused on specific issues that could detract from the success of neighborhood schools.

    But because they are also “private” and profit-based in many ways, I’m not sure they’d care about the more difficult situations.

    I once worked at an alternative (private) high school for struggling students. They were struggling for all sorts of reasons — pregnancy, discipline, etc. The school gave them so many things no average school could, like smaller classes, counseling, daycare. And those kids truly flourished. Some had parole officer visits!! But I can say that with the RIGHT teachers and programs, they can succeed.

    I think you’re right on there, Grace. FLIP the paradigm.

  • 82. cpsobsessed  |  July 12, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Boy, there is something to that. Then instead of the neighborhood schools would be the ones with the “smart” kids and could potentially raise the bar, thereby attracting more families….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 83. Ron Richardson  |  July 12, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I taught at a very successful charter.If any one wants to contact me about my experience, we can meet somewhere or online.

  • 84. klm  |  July 12, 2011 at 9:52 am

    @51 (and others)

    I think when it comes to comparing many (although by no means most) in terms of ISAT scores, etc., it’s important to remember that Charters attract a disporoportionate number of kids that have not been able to succeed in “regular” (non-Charter) schools for academic and/or discipline reasons, so parents feel like they’ll give Charters a try. I believe this is the case from what I hear from relatives (e.g., a son who’s barely passing or failing most classes at a non-Charter, so we’ll try a Charter [there are even Charter military schoools] and see if that works out better, etc.) and from what I’ve read. I have mixed feelings about certain Charters, especially when I can see that they’re clearly not working, given that their ISAT and other scores are terrible and remain that way, year after year. On the other hand, some really do work better than non-Charters. The CPS families that try Charters are people that usually cannot afford to move to or pay for another (hopefully “better”) school, so why not at least give them a chance for something else? When middle-class people are looking for a new home on the suburbs or elsewhere, don’t they virtually always consider the quality of the schools their kids will attending? That’s also why homes in the “Lincoln School district” are oftem more attractive (and expensive) to possible buyers and renters than ones literally accross the street in “less desirable” school enrollment districts. For some people, discipline and safety are as much or more of a concern as ISAT scores –and for good reason. I honestly wouldn’t send my kids to 75-85% of CPS neighborhood schools. Accordingly, I don’t feel comfortable saying, “No Charter school option for YOUR kids –of course I’d never send MY kids to the school your kids have no choice but to attend, but I self-righteously want CPS neighborhood schools to improve (in theory), so I don’t like Charters “competing” with this desire of mine –so no “choice” for you!”. People can debate and argue about how best to improve neighborhood schools, but how about the kids that don’t have the time for things to change? Many kids need a different school NOW. Even if some Charter schools don’t seem to accel academically, from what I can read and hear, most parents and kids feel at least better about the safety and social norms of those Charter schools relative to others. At least that’s SOMETHING for people that are stuck with a failing/dysfunctional school that no middle-class parent would in their right mind want for their own kids.

  • 85. Grace  |  July 12, 2011 at 11:31 am

    klm — thanks, your comments give a real depth to our topics here that stats likes ISAT scores alone never can.

    Many parents would like the safety of a charter when the neighborhood school isn’t safe and the longer hours help with child care concerns.

    These are 2 very basic needs that our neighborhood schools should step up and provide.

  • 86. Matt Farmer  |  July 12, 2011 at 11:48 am

    On a lighter note, here’s a bit of charter-related satire penned a few months back by Dr. Matt (my blogging alter ego) for “The Third City,” a blog that’s run, in part, by my friend Benny Jay (a/k/a Ben Joravsky).

  • 87. Mayfair Dad  |  July 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Charters play an important role in education reform because they can push the envelope in terms of curriculum and specialization since they are not hindered by union work rules. Neighborhood CPS schools are threatened by charters – well, that’s the whole point, isn’t it? To challenge the status quo and drive innovation. But as with everything in Chicago (and elsewhere, to be sure) it becomes a political issue – union vs. non-union – and what’s best for children is lost in the uproar.

  • 88. CPSmama  |  July 12, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    The 16 yr. old student charged w/ murder in connection with stealing an SUV, eluding police and crashing into a 911 operator’s car, killing her, was an honor student & 2 sport athlete at Urban Prep charter school. A series of bad decisions ended a mom’s life and will ruin this kid’s life as well. Tragic all around

  • 89. cps Mom  |  July 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Mayfair Dad – completely agree. Limiting the specializations of charters to special ed and behavioral disorders leaves us right back where we’re at. With all this paranoia of “skimming the creme” isn’t that exactly what CPS is doing with selective programming? You can’t fault anyone for wanting a choice other than the neighborhood CPS program.

  • 90. Mayfair Dad  |  July 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    @ cps Mom. A little “constructive agitation” is a good thing – now that CPS no longer has a monopoly on public education in Chicago, they must improve or perish. Competition is good. This is the theory.

    In practice, all charters are not created equal. The pretenders who got into the charter game as a money-making scheme give the innovators a bad name. Incompetent school operators have proliferated in Chicago, always fertile ground for opportunistic scams. Not that for-profit is necessarily bad. Political cronyism is bad.

    If charters are to be effective idea incubators, we need to be very clear what the goals of the experiment are. They need to be monitored closely and their effectiveness measured. The imposters need to be weeded out.

    And if the neighborhood CPS school is compelled to elevate their game (longer school day, recess, accelerated track, music and language instruction) to compete with the charter school down the street, even better.

  • 91. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    What frustrates me is that so many neighborhood schools are not willing to raise their game. I hear a lot of whining about how if the schools could just get the “right” kids, all would be well, instead of trying to figure out how to do the things that the “right” parents want and how to better work with the “wrong” kids that they are “stuck” with.

    The competition is there. In Tiers 3 & 4, it’s long been in place with the private schools and the ability to move to the suburbs. With the charters, the competition is moving into other neighborhoods. Some principals have responded smartly, but not enough.

  • 92. Grace  |  July 12, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Hi M-F Dad,

    What do you think … now that SB7 has been passed, is there much difference left between the union teacher in a traditional CPS school and the non-unionized teacher at a charter?

    From what I’ve read, SB 7 took effectively took the union’s collective bargaining rights. Teachers can be removed in 3 to 4 months with no legal recourse. Tenure and lay-offs are tied to teacher performance and that is tied to children’s test scores.

    So if charters innovate because the non-union principals and teachers can’t refuse management dictates, then CPS should be able to innovate now, too, right?

    Anywho — I don’t see how well charters’ innovations are working, when the latest ISATs still put CPS schools ahead of their charter counterparts.

    If charters’ innovations were working, then we should be seeing the opposite in the ISATs.

    Perhaps the biggest innovations have been a longer school day and a stricter disciplinary code that permits expulsions, something like the benefits of a Catholic school.

    We need an expert opinion or two.

  • 93. Grace  |  July 12, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    @86 Dr. Matt — really funny stuff. I read on and found Rahm Emanuel’s contribution to our lexicon — really funny. Makes me start to like the guy.

  • 94. Matt Farmer  |  July 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    @Grace – Thanks.

  • 95. Patty of Beverly  |  July 12, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    @Grace, well I have been busy this summer with my two children going on different summer trips with them but I stop in from time to time and will be fully back on in the fall. My daughter will start the dreaded high school process this year…yikes!

    To answer your question regarding what University of Chicago Charter Schools does differently, is that they require parental involvement, has a longer school day that requires longer time with Reading/Math & Writing, summer academic programs for a nominal costs, educational excursions(including overseas experiences in middle school!) and before/after school care programs. Most public schools do not offer these few things to their students and most neighborhood/magnet schools have large class sizes while U of C charter schools only allow 20 students admitted to each class. That also contributes to their high test scores because the teachers can provide individual instruction to each student and better identify their student’s weak areas. After graduation most 8th graders go on to the top SE’s including Payton, Jones, Lane,Brooks and Young. Some have been admitted to U of C Lab High School and Latin High (private, northside) and Francis Parker High on full/partial scholarships and others continue on to the U of C Charter High School near the University. The school is unique and very hard to gain admission into. This particular charter is operate through the University of Chicago so I can assume that they have some lucrative opportunities and donors that can assist with their charter academic programs as well as funding.

    As for Noble Street UIC College Prep, which is affliated with UIC, also has a smaller class size(only 400 students 9-12th grades), longer school days and longer hours spent on Mathematices & Reading/Writing. Noble Street Charter Schools has a strict dress and conduct code and can dissmiss any student that isn’t following their policies, is another reason the high school is successful. They also stress college after high school and the emphasis is always on academics. To me, the school is like a small private school. UIC College Prep students can take advance college courses,on campus, for free through UIC. My friend son has taken and passed three college level courses and he is just a junior, so he has an advantage over most CPS high schoolers who are not enrolled in an SE high school. Additionally, all sophmores have to take the ACT & SAT prep courses and then the actual exams. Once in their Junior year, the students have to re-take the exam even if they have a high score. The school really demands the very best from each student. Also, the school is located in a nice and safe area, the Medical District and neighbors Whitney Young and St. Ignatius. Noble Street Charters are not for every student and some students have been dismissed or left on their on because they cannot handle the strict school policies however many students have thrived and gone on to college.

    I want to express to parents on this site that the school isn’t just for low-income students. My my friend who holds a Doctorate degree and does well for herself and do not fit into that catergory. Some middle class familes are chosing to enroll their child there because they were not admitted into any SEHS even though they had an high test score/grades. After the changes to the new admission processes to selective enrollment high schools, students can no longer assume that a high test score and good grades will gurantee them a seat at an SE high school. This what happened to my friend son and so she had to scramble to find an alternative at the last minute. Luckily, UIC was opening its doors a couple years back and he was accepted. She didn’t want her son to attend the neighborhood high school because it was too large and had other issues. I also want to point out that UIC is the second most diverse charter high school in Chicago next to CICS-Northown Academy(which is also good I heard).

  • 96. Grace  |  July 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Click to access 2009-2010_PerformanceReport.pdf

    Inspired by you, Patty, I took a look at the scores for Noble St.-UIC and for U of C Charters.

    U of C has very strong scores, but Noble’s are not as strong, and some individual Noble schools don’t post scores at all. There is also a difference between ISATs and PSAEs in high school, but that’s for another post.

    Referring to M-F Dad’s earlier post on charter innovation and traditional schools …

    It seems that U of C’s success could be attributed to funding, more quality instructional time, smaller class sizes, talented staff, and supportive parents — these are wonderful supports. They are not really new innovations, though, just good pedagogy.

    Can this work at a neighborhood school, even with larger class sizes? I think it does in some, when poverty isn’t overwhelming.

    What do you think?

  • 97. Grace  |  July 13, 2011 at 4:01 am

    For me, it’s important that the public have oversight of the public funds that go into charters. Here is a story on a new real estate investment fund that will make many millions on the construction of charter schools.


    Cashing in on the charters
    Petrino DiLeo exposes a new attempt by Wall Street to make money off our schools.

    July 6, 2011

    THE SCHOOL privatization movement took an ominous new step in June with the creation of the first for-profit real estate investment fund aimed at the construction of charter schools.

    The financial venture, if it works according to plan, will accelerate the charterization process by funding the development of up to 75 charter schools across the country within the next few years. Charter schools mostly get their funds from the public education, but they are run by private organizations, including numerous for-profit ventures–which has made them a favorite tool in the new attack on teachers unions.

    Former tennis great Andre Agassi, through his Andre Agassi Ventures LLC investment vehicle, teamed with a commercial real estate money management firm called Canyon Capital Realty Advisors to form the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund.

    The fund won’t run charters schools. Instead, it plans to generate returns exclusively on the real estate side of the equation.

    Follow link for a good explanation of how the fund plans to make money and how much.

  • 98. Grace  |  July 13, 2011 at 4:14 am

    One more link on the effect of Arne Duncan’s expansion of charter schools, an interview of a former Trib reporter and a UIC professor.

    Did you know that there is one ward in the city where there are no public schools, only charters?

  • 99. anon mom  |  July 13, 2011 at 7:47 am

    What are the povery scores for U of C? Hyde Park has some pretty affluent areas with Ray as the best neighborhood option. It’s really possible those good scores are really the result of self-selection.

    In fact, judging from the conversations on this board regardning Nobel Street/UIC as a realistic option for North Side (read: middle class) kids, it seems to prove, rather than disprove, the self-selection hypothesis.

  • 100. cps Mom  |  July 13, 2011 at 9:44 am

    UIC is strictly lottery and does attract middle class north and south side kids. It’s difficult for anyone to get into. The kids I know got wait listed with numbers in the 600’s. Highly sought after school has a wide range of socio-economics. The kid from the low performing failing school has an equal chance to the high performing magnet and families from both populations want to get in.

  • 101. Mayfair Dad  |  July 13, 2011 at 9:51 am

    @ 99 & others. The self-selection theory is an oft-heard knock on charters, that they able to cherry pick the best students and the troublemakers are left to attend the neighborhood school.

    Maybe CPS needs to devise a strategy to remove children & teens with “socialization issues” from mainstream schools and enroll them in special schools that provide the support, discipline and coping skills needed to survive in the real world.

    If we had charter schools that dealt exclusively with this problem population of disruptive students, then the neighborhood schools would improve, right? Same way the selective enrollment process thins the herd so only motivated and well-behaved students are in the classroom.

  • 102. Tier 4 off to private  |  July 13, 2011 at 10:35 am

    101 – Sounds great, but in theory the “alternative” school is a junior jail where kids pick up even worse idea than they aleady had.

    I also hear good thing about North Town from students and teachers at the school. My son got in on the lottery, but choose another school. The kids don’t like the longer school day, longer school year, but the parents sure do!

  • 103. Patty of Beverly  |  July 13, 2011 at 11:34 am

    @Grace, Another charter school that I hear a lot about, but I don’t know anyone who’s child attends the school, is Urban Prep Academy. Its an all male- charter school. Mainly low-income hispanic and black young men attend. For the past four years, I’ve seen that Urban Prep has sent ALL of their seniors off to colleges and universities around the U.S. Now I have checked out their test scores and isn’t that high however one cannot base everything on test scores alone. Some students test better than others but that doesn’t mean that they can’t handle a college course load. As a student, I was never a great standardized test taker and didn’t attend the best CPS schools, however, I still went on to earn a college degrees and two advanced college degrees. There are other people like that that still went on to succeed, regardless of a low test score or SAT score. Anything is possible if a student has “drive” and the mindset that they want to be successful. I really don’t think that we should look solely at test scores alone to determine if the school is a success or if the students will succeed in life. Sure it is apart of the deciding factor but parents shouldn’t make a final decision on test scores alone.

    @Mayfair Dad, you are right that UIC Prep/Noble Street Charters do determine admission through lottery however because they have strict school policies, any student that do not follow their policies, is asked to leave. I know for fact that UIC, Muchin(Noble) and Urban Prep all have followed this method. So unlike neighborhood high schools where they cannot kick out students based on behavior issues or not following school rules, these charters can. Now, I am not saying that it is fair but it has happened. This is why I said earlier that Noble Street may not be a good fit for every child. Noble Street is all about learning and sending their students off to college after four years. I actually like the school to be strict because they are letting the students know that education is vital to your success. Also, I have known at least two kids that have gotten into sought after charters that never even went through the lotteries, one being the newly built, downtown located, Noble Street Charter-Muchin College Prep and the other is the new CICS-ChicagoQuest Academy. So I don’t want everyone to think that these Charters are actually following the rules. Some can be very similar to magnets and gifted schools, where if you know the right people, then your child will be admitted. In the case of Chicago Quest, the child parent didn’t know anyone but the admistration just called up my friend and told her that her child was accepted before the lottery even started. We both thought that was stranged…

    I also want to point out that Lincoln Park High School’s test scores aren’t that stellar either but people seem to flock to that school as an alternative to not gaining admission to an SE high school. Why is that if people seem to only be looking at test scores here? Lincoln Park High School test scores look similar to Kenwood, Lindblom/ King College Prep(which seems to be step-schools to Payton/Young/Jones/NSCP etc), Morgan Park IB, Noble Street, Urban Prep and other non-selective schools. I know that LP offers the IB and double honors programs but a lot of students leave LP’s IB program after one year and opt for the double honors programs instead. Additionally, parents and students have given LPHS mixed reviews, accordingly to I really think that we as parents need to find the right fit for our child and it may or may not be a Charter, Magnet ,Neighborhood Program or an Selective Enrollment school.

  • 104. Patty of Beverly  |  July 13, 2011 at 11:46 am

    @Mayfair Dad, I really like the idea of removing all troubled students from neighborhood/magnet or SE high schools and wish that could really take place (really I do!). However, I think that would cause even more problems for CPS and possibly bring on costly lawsuits that we would have to pay for in the end. So even though that is a great idea I think in the long run, we would still end up losing again. I really like most of your ideas about school reforms, its just too bad that CPS never listen or implement parents ideas or suggestions.

  • 105. Mayfair Dad  |  July 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    ACT Scores

    Lane Tech – 23.0
    LPHS – 22.3
    Lindblom – 21.9
    State of Illinois – 20.5
    Noble Street – 19.8
    Kenwood – 19.4
    King – 19.2
    Morgan Park – 18.9
    CPS – 17.3
    Urban Prep – N/A

    Graduation Rates

    Lane Tech – 89.2%
    State of Illinois – 87.8%
    King – 84.5%
    LPHS – 84.1%
    Kenwood – 83.8%
    Lindblom – 81.7%
    Noble Street – 78.8%
    Morgan Park – 76.6%
    CPS – 71.8%
    Urban Prep – 62.6%

    I was told the average ACT score for students who complete the IB program at LPHS is 26. I also know families who turned down spots at Northside and Payton for Lincoln Park IB. Yes, I was surprised too.

    Perhaps the folks griping on greatschools about LPHS were Tier 4 parents who were honked off their young genius with 825 points was bumped from Northside College Prep for a Tier 1 student with 625 points and had to settle. Also check the date of the posts: many of the behavior issues have subsided with the closing of Cabrini Green and the recent appointment of a no-nonsense principal.

    I agree more Tier 3 & 4 families who live on the southside should take a closer look at southside CPS high schools in addition to parochial options. The principal at Lindblom is on the Blue Ribbon Commitee and posts here from time to time. Good things are happening at Lindblom.

  • 106. Patty of Beverly  |  July 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    @Mayfair Dad, I wasn’t referring to the ACT scores about LPHS, I was looking at the yearly standardized test scores from the CPS website. I kind of don’t believe some of the data in regards to ACT scores for LPHS. I think that maybe the IB and Double Honors students are scoring high on their ACT’s but what are the scores for the “average regular” students enrolled in the neighborhood components? Accordinginly to CPS website, LPHS ACT score avg is 21 and Brooks College Prep is 21 also. Also, Urban Prep’s garduation rate is isn’t 62%. Last year, and the year before that, all of their seniors graduated and went on to college. I am not sure of the data listed above. Different reports/websites are reporting different information.

  • 107. cps grad  |  July 13, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Grace– I find it very troubling that there is a ward in the city with no neighborhood schools. What if a neighborhood kid applies to but fails to get into any of those charters, or his parents never apply at all on his behalf? Then that child is forced to travel far away from home for school — at the school he/she will attend may not be any better than the close to home option would have been. Also there are some parents don’t have the means to drive their kids long distances. I know that there are many parents on this board that drive their kids half way across the city to attend school and don’t think it is an issue, but IMO I think that this is their choice and no kid should HAVE to travel so far for school. There should always be an open enrollment school within a reasonable distance (if not walking distance) for every child — even if it would be second choice to the charters. With all these application only schools with lottery (magnets included) we are creating “school deserts” as well as “food deserts”.

    When I was little I attend Disney Magnet. My brother didn’t win the lottery and attended our neighborhood school. I can tell you I absolutely HATED the commute. I was on the bus for 45 minutes to an hour both before and after school. (I had the luck of being one of the first picked up and last off the bus). I hated getting up extra early for school. I hated that my brother was making tons of neighborhood friends, and my friends were scattered across the city. I asked my mom to let me transfer and when I did I was so much happier at my neighborhood school.

  • 108. Patty of Beverly  |  July 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    @Mayfair Dad, I never said that southside parents should only look at (or take a closer look) at schools on the southside only. Students who are accepted to a particular school, can attend any school that they want to regardless if it is on the south or northside. I am not sure how you got that from what I wrote but that is not what I meant.

    Also, in all honesty, I don’t think LPHS is as perfect as you want it to be. LPHS still has issues; I just read several posts from various people, dated in 2011 which doesn’t wave in a positive manner. See below:

    “Some mere facts for the IB program, the implementation of the program in this school defeats its purpose. The students have to complete busy work in all courses that allows no time to think and develop. Many blogs and websites exist with answers to recirculated homework. 130 students are accepted in LP IB annually, less than 80 graduate, 30 of them drop from the program the first year (only those with ISATS > 90% percentile are can apply, out of more than 2000 applicants choose 130 are selected) 85% of the 80 who graduate complete their IB diploma. This is merely 68 out of 130 capable students and this is around 50% success. Each student is required to take the 6 IB and around 5 AP courses. The teachers are not up to PAR with the students, recently the program lost its best Math teacher, while the only option for a student to take Physics is to take double Science in sophomore year. The program doesn’t provide IB Physics class. To the question if my daughter could take a drama class as elective the coordinator answered with pride that Students in our program are not interested in drama This is a 4 year bootcamp. The number of kids who annually go to IVY schools is not published ”
    —Submitted by a parent Janurary 2011

    “It’s almost terribly hilarious as you look at the reviews, they seem to get worse as time goes on. I’m an IB student at Lincoln Park and honestly, I hate it here. Just the way the school works is terrible. Sure, the IB program is good for you but it’s the most useless thing. We get hours upon hours of homework each night and that just leaves me going almost crazy. It’s all just busy work, so it’s not efficient. And aside from that the kids here are mostly bullies and drug addicts. I would never recommend this school. It just turns kids into potheads and their education goes down south. Even if you’re in IB and you’re doing good work, you can still be targets by the other low life kids in the other programs, calling you a self righteous and arrogant jerk all because you’re in IB and apparently to them that means you think you’re better than they are. It’s just a terrible school and the discipline here sucks. All the students are so rude fight and are disrespectful and half the time the school doesn’t even care. A pothead getting caught with weed gets in as much trouble as someone that who went off campus during their lunch to get food. It’s ridiculous and I would NEVER recommend this school.”
    —Submitted by a student March 23, 2011

    And there are even more comments from 2011 and 2010, long after Cabrini Green was torned down….Lincoln Park just doesn’t stand out to me as a Payton, Northside, Young. I am not saying that it is a terrible school because it isn’t but I honestly think that by the school being located in Lincoln Park helps its reputation a lot. Other than that, it still has some of the same safety concerns as does any other neighborhood high school.

  • 109. Mayfair Dad  |  July 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    @ 106: My information comes from the Illinois Board of Education website, although I remember reading the hype about Urban Prep graduation rates. This disparity is puzzling to say the least.

    Also remember that fully 75% of LPHS students are citywide magnet students – IB, DH or Performing Arts – and not neighborhood kids. However, given that 25% of the student population IS neighborhood and overall ACT scores are comparable to selective enrollment HSs speaks volumes about the rigor of LPHS magnet programs.

    This is why LPHS is cited as an example of how non-SE high schools can position themselves to offer a viable college prep curriculum, by installing challenging programs like IB, DH, STEM, etc. This is now happening all over the city. This specialization and selection process effectively removes the troublemakers from the classroom.

    Bottom line: schools have to find a way to separate the riff-raff from the kids who want to learn. Charters do it, magnets do it, SEs do it.

    So where should the troublemakers go? To a special “scared straight” program until they are old enough that school attendance is no longer mandatory. Why should the criminality and out-of-control behavior of 10% of students ruin it for the other 90%?

  • 110. Mayfair Dad  |  July 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    @ 108: I am confident some kids at Northside, Payton, WY, Ignatius, Mother MacCauley and Brother Rice smoke pot, too. Nerds get picked on at every high school. Being a teenager is a difficult time for many.

    Also, the rants are very well written, which suggest the authors have received a credible education somewhere.

    Re: LPHS IB, its not the end-all be-all school for every kid, but for the right kid it could be a great thing. Admittedly, my son is not crazy about the 5 weeks of mandatory summer school as an incoming LPHS IB freshman, but nobody expects this program to be easy. We didn’t sign up for easy.

    And I still maintain that southside families should take a closer look at southside SEHSs. It seems silly to travel across the city to attend high school when perfectly good options exist near your home.

  • 111. Grace  |  July 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    M-F Dad,
    Like a lot of older cities, it is much quicker for southsiders (and other siders) to commute downtown than it is for us to get cross town. And have you ever been to Englewood or Roseland?

  • 112. RL Julia  |  July 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Mayfair Dad – I though your son was going to Lane?
    Grace – I have been to Englewood or Roseland, but as many have pointed out, there is the special bus service that drops kids at the door of the SE high schools there. I also have been to Mt. Greenwood – I would love to send my kids to the Ag High School but 111th and Pulaski is just too hard to get to and then get to work on time.
    Since I would prefer not to subsidized the jail time of the riff raff – how about the disruptive students are sent to alternative schools that have firm expectations and standards but lots of counselors adn the ability to look at the teen/child and their environs before throwing the baby out with the bathwater per se – check out this article for an example of what I mean:

  • 113. Mayfair Dad  |  July 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    A thriving, diverse SEHS should be a catalyst for positive community change and economic development in those areas. And maybe over time it will be. It is not necessary for a student to travel over twenty miles to find a decent public high school in this city. The options exist on the southside but the diversity does not.

  • 114. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I think alternative schools are a fabulous idea, because it’s not like the disruptive kids are getting anything out of a normal classroom. Those kids need to learn in a different environment where they can have the support they need.

    The mistake in public education, I think, has long been the idea that all kids are exactly the same and need the same education, and if the education doesn’t work, it’s because it’s being given to the wrong type of kid. We don’t live in a world where most kids are well-behaved middle-class white children with typical development, and we probably never did. So we need an educational system that is flexible enough to meet different kids’ needs.

    Of course, this costs money, and Americans would rather see their country go bankrupt than have the marginal tax rate on people making more than $250,000 go all the way up to 38%.

  • 115. klm  |  July 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I hate to beat a dead horse, being that I’ve gone down this road before, but I’ll throw in my hat in the debate about LPHS. First, let’s point out that LP is largely a general admissions HS for most students, so comparing ACT scores with some of the SE schools discussed seems a little out of place. Accordingly, it seems a little sad that there are SE HSs that have lower ACT score than even LP.
    I do know several families that have sent kids through the IB program and HH. The kids have gone on to colleges like Columbia (the Ivy League one, not the one Downtown), Brown, Oberlin, USC…. The IB Program is rigorous, but some kids thrive in that kind of environment.

    As for the “regular” LPHS –I live in Lincoln Park and I’ll tell you that it is not considered “desirable” by most people in the area –again, with the exception of of the IB and maybe High Honors programs. Yes, there are lots of educated professional-types in the area, so maybe expectations are high. Then again, when it comes to education, what’s wrong with high expectations? Also, there have been issues of public safety and some really disturbing behavior by some of the students. I’ve had my share of issues with the behavior with a several LP students, culminating in an incident involving the Police (a stranger called 911, it wasn’t a case of me being paranoid) –when I was with a toddle and an infant in a stroler no less. I was informed later that 2 LP of the sudents involved already had Parole Officers and that one of the others was a former LP student ( a drop-out) currently on parole for a violent, gun-related crime. Obviously, 90%+ of LPHS students are fine people, but there’s a subset of them that dress, act and talk like the worst sterotype of dysfunctional, menacing, F**ck-you!, future-felon-type behavior that makes all parents in Chicago fear for their kids’safety.

    As for scores on the ACT, ISAT… or whatever as a mechanism for judging a school. The fact is tests DO matter in life. Peoples’ entire future depends on passing an exam to get a decent job. People have to pass an exam to become a Police Officer, Fireman enter Officer Training School in the military, etc. Licencing exams are required for nurses, real estate agents, message therapists, etc., not just neurosurgeons and patent attorneys. It would be nice if one could do whatever one wants in life without good test scores, but we all know that this simply in not true. Nobody can get into a cometetive college or good grad schools with high test scores –community college and the University of Phoenix, yes, but not pharmacy school, med school, or any undergraduate program or grad school with a stellar reputation. That’s just the plain truth. Tests don’t mean everything, but they’re important.

  • 116. finally  |  July 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Riff-raff, trouble-makers, disabled… Oh, yea, Germany once had a solution too. SIgh.

  • 117. Question  |  July 13, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Grace – which ward has only charters? Please tell.

  • 118. Grace  |  July 14, 2011 at 1:54 am

    It is mentioned in this story.

    @ RLJ Wasn’t playing dumb — I didn’t know any public h.s. has bus service.

  • 119. Mayfair Dad  |  July 14, 2011 at 9:00 am

    @ 116: By riff-raff, I mean violent gangbangers who have no interest in learning, only in disrupting the learning experience of others by their disrespectful, anti-social behavior. For a tutorial, google “Fenger High School beating”.

    No mention of the (physically) disabled in my earlier posts.

    By identifying the problem, and engaging in a conversation about possible solutions, I am a Nazi?


    Write back when your kids are high school age.

  • 120. RL Julia  |  July 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Grace – I know it has been mentioned on this post before that at least one southside SE has some sort of shuttle bus service from downtown – practically door to door.

    Also – anyone know anything about the new principal of Payton?

  • 121. klm  |  July 14, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Thank-you, Mayfair Dad!

    I’ve never understood why, but when the dysfunctional, anti-social types of behavior exhibited by some (but in no way most) school-age young people in a city like Chicago is brought up in a discussion about schools, neighborhoods, etc., some people become enraged and start calling others ‘Nazi’ (Is there ultimately any more lazy, easy moral ruse of name calling than using THAT word?). I have friends and relatives of various backgrounds (my brother-in-law grew up in Lawndale, friends and family on the South Side, some middle-class, some struggling….) and they are, if anything, more indignant and unforgiving about the violent and threatening behavior of the relatively small group of people (thugs, gang members, drug dealers, etc.) that can destroy neighborhoods, ruin schools and make people want to move “ANYWHERE BUT HERE!”.

    I guess the LPHS students that were threatening and screaming at me after I gave their young female friend a disapproving look for yelling the worst obscenities (including the N-word) in front of my kids on the top of her lungs (she was on her cell phone and angrily described me for the benefit of her close-by male friends. Untimately, the males came running up to me, screaming in my face, all were laughing (I was scred –plus I had 3-year-old and a baby in a carriage!!!!) someone pushed me and threatened worse (which is why the law was involved and all were later chargedr). Thank God a bystander (a homeless A-A man that many in LP may know) yelled out and got somebody to call 911 on their cell. This happened in broad daylight, just after end of school. In a “safe” neighborhood. Again, all involved were CPS HS students (except for the CPS HS drop-out), most already with criminal records. This experience was bad enough, but what about having to go to school with kids like that every day? Again, this wasn’t even one of the famoulsy violent schools or dangerous neighborhoods, Why shouldn’t people be vigilant about their kids’ safety in school? Some kids in CPS really are that bad –it’s sad, but it’s a fact. Talking about it does not make somebody a NAZI!!!!!!!

  • 122. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 14, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Maybe my sarcasm was misunderstood? I know that on the Lake View high school discussions, I’ve been very frustrated by the “this is a great school, your kids will do great, pay no attention to the low scores, what are we supposed to do with poor brown kids?” attitude.

    You’re supposed to teach poor brown kids. I think they can learn. Of course they can! I do think, though, that our teacher training hasn’t caught up with modern American demographics, nor are we funding our schools the way we should. Hence, we have this massive performance gap, and the solution to raising test scores at a school should not be simply to attract higher-testing students.

    And, every school in this city should be a safe school providing a good education. If a handful of kids are preventing that from happening, then they need to go elsewhere.

    And by “elsewhere”, I mean schools that can accommodate their needs so that they can learn, too, not gas ovens.

  • 123. Anonymous  |  July 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    For the LPHS discussions: I’d recommend contacting Michele Smith’s office. I know she is EXTREMELY interested in making LPHS the best it can be. And I know from living in the district that the #1 concern for parents here IS the safety issue. If LPHS were safer, and had less issues outside the school (I, too, see the police there almost daily, and the behavioral issues) I think it’d be there. I know of so many who went to school there NOT in IB or HH that were extremely happy with their experiences. But I still hesitate to put it in my consideration set for fear of the safety issues.

    Contact Michele Smith if you are serious about improving LPHS. I’m sure she’d love to have you on board. I am going to to that myself!

  • 124. Mom  |  July 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Really? People don’t see the veiled racism and other “isms” behind much of this discussion of CPS? Where did it “start” for the low-achievers, socially maladjusted, the disabled, the violent youth? How did they get there? What will be the solution now that they’re there? A la “…what are we supposed to do with poor brown kids?” Re-segregation? CPS already has one school for some disabled students (Montefiore) and charter schools for the failed ( Works for some, not for others, as usual.

  • 125. Mayfair Dad  |  July 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    @ CPSDepressed:

    I think your post at #114 hits the nail on the head. Fundamentally we are in agreement.

    Ordinarily I enjoy a little sarcasm with my bagel in the morning, but the gas oven comment hit a sour note. Maybe I need another cup of coffee.

    Public education means everybody. Maybe we need to treat students with socialization issues just as we would any other special needs subset of the student population, including providing separate school facilities. In the long run, this may be more cost effective than building more selective enrollment high schools because neighborhood high schools – minus the disruptive element -will then have a chance to flourish.

    And perhaps it makes sense that these highly specialized schools are charter schools because charters have the flexibility to try unorthodox approaches to reach these special needs students. Zero-tolerance for violence. Single sex. Uniforms. Toe the line or else. Or make pottery and sing kumbaya. Whatever works.

    Its not unreasonable and I think there is a political appetite for it. Liberating neighborhood high schools from being held hostage by the disruptive element will pay huge dividends.

  • 126. .  |  July 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Tales from the front from Catalyst.

    By: Grandma For the Record: ISAT vs EXPLORE If it sounds to good to be true, then Brizard should dig a little deeper in regards to AUSL’s performance gains. In my community, AUSL in Phillips is about 10 blocks away from Dunbar High School. However, Dunbar had 1400 students last summer and as school progressed last Fall, they ended up with 200 additional students. Then the community had to deal with additional unruly students. However, one can’t help but wonder if these additional students at Dunbar, were really counseled out students from Phillips. If this is the case then AUSL isn’t doing anything worth talking about. Anyone can transfer failing students to another school. In the “Lakefront Outlook” on July 6, 2011 it is mentioned that Phillips had 84 seniors 47 graduated (55.9%)and their 5 year graduation rate was 42.9 in 2010. This graduation rate almost looks like Dunbar but on a much smaller scale. Dunbar’s 5 year graduation rate is according to their SIPAAA was 50% in 2010. AUSL is not in Dunbar, however Dunbar and Phillips are both failures and I do not see anything that AUSL has done that would make me go to the media and praise their works. Again did they send any students to Dunbar to boost their performance???? If this is true then AUSL should never have been given a $4 million dollar contract.

    Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 8:09 AMBy: Grandma For the Record: ISAT vs EXPLORE For those who are touting AUSL turnarounds as something extraordinary, I just wanted to share that a Selective Enrollment like Whitney Young has an average ACT score of 26 and an AUSL turnaround like Phillips is an humble score of 14. We have a family member that is a senior in college who scored well above the average score of 26 while attending Whitney Young and yes he is black. Also this year at the WhitneyYoung graduation ceremony, another black student was recognized for having a perfect score. So again, any supposed gain in AUSL High Schools shrink in comparison to a Selective Enrollment. So which school should we as parents prefer in order to prepare our children for college??

    Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 8:33 AMBy: Grandma For the Record: ISAT vs EXPLORE On the subject of AUSL in an elementary school like National Teachers Academy I would also check to see if any attendance area boundaries were changed and to see if kids were moved out to schools south of them like Drake or Pershing West. The communities north of Douglas have a history of transferring their lowest performers out of their school and into our region in order to boost their performance and the biggest perpetrator was and probably still is South Loop School. Arne Duncan initially counseled them to dump failing students into our magnets in order to give them a gifted center program. South Loop was one of the lowest performing schools in the south region, scoring in the lower 20th percentile and look at them now. Pershing was outperforming this school and meeting state standards during this time and still has not received a promotion to Gifted or Classical Program. Sounds like an unfair advantage for South Loop School. OK Stem is also a Magnet without earning the status. However the 4th-8th program at Pershing is now a regular program, while the k-3rd is still a Magnet. Doesn’t this sound like a demotion? Also, where did the major increase in Special Needs children in Pershing West come from?? They are at 20% special Ed now? This is another disadvantage to black performing schools. Does CPS want performing black schools to remain successful?? I wonder!! It seems as if they want to destroy all of our performing schools, so that we will not have a variety of school, including enrollments. We need this options as well in order to meet the needs of every child our communities.

  • 127. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    The gas ovens comment was for #116, who is either a troll or painfully naive.

    And #124, I was paraphrasing what I often hear from people in education, which is that the problem is the students and/or their parents. Well, maybe. But what are we going to do about it? As much as I cannot stand George W. Bush, his line about “the soft bigotry of low expectations” is right on. The idea that it’s okay for poor brown children to have low test scores is just wrong. If we had better-functioning schools, they should have the same score distribution as rich and white kids. Right?

    So figure out how to do that. NCLB wasn’t the answer. Traditional one-size-fits-all education isn’t the answer. What is it?

    And I fully understand that this costs money to provide the intensive support that some children need. I’d rather pay for that than write off my fellow Chicagoans.

  • 128. Mayfair Dad  |  July 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Tim Devine bio (new principal at Payton)

  • 129. me  |  July 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    enough with the generalizations around “poor brown kids” and “rich / white” ones…I may have to take me and my “rich black kid” to another blog, you guys are annoying me.

  • 130. klm  |  July 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm


    The person who figures out how to solve the “Achievement Gap” will be the person who solves virtually every real problem with K12 public education in this country, since it is the root of virtually every major issue in terms of disparate student outcome and the source of much of the economic and social inequality that exists here. But how to do it? That’s the $10m question. The issue has been studied, debated and discussed for lierally decades now. Apart from some KIPP-type charter schools and a few examples like the Harlem Children’s Zone/Geoffery Canada, there have not been a lot of concrete answers. And even these types of success-story schools/institutions are hardly embraced by the political and education establishment.

    Too many kids start Kindegarten already 1 or 2 years behind and it only gets worse as time goes by. A-A males are on average almost 4 years behind in reading and writing skills by 12th grade, I just read the other day. The stats (ISAT, ACT, etc.) at certain CPS schools many of us lament on this site as totally unacceptable seem to sadly reflect this sort of hard reality. If there were a mechanism for education schools to teach non-Asian minority kids in a way that eliminates the Achievement Gap, I hope that they would have discovered it by now.

    NOBODY is not concerned about this –demographically, this country will be “minority majority” within a generation, so it’s essential for all of us to do something about it, no matter our socioeconomic background.

    But meanwhile –my kids need an education that will prepare them for the current slow-growth, high-unemployment-for-the unskilled economic and social reality of the globalized American economy of 2011 and beyond. Any school where few (if any) of the kids are achieving where one needs to be in order to succeed in enginerring school, Chemistry 201, pharmaseutical licensing exams, etc., will not be on the radar of most people that are connected to the “knowledge economy” or are really in tune with what it takes to get ahead or just be middle-class today. If there were a 90% non-Asian minority CPS school with lots of low-income kids and with fantastic test scores, no metal detection machines and high expectations all around, people would be applying like crazy, no matter their race or family income. It’s not the “brown” and “high poverty” demographics of certain schools that scare people off, it’s the pitifully low achievement records and potential violent crime issues that people are concerned with.

  • 131. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    klm, that’s exactly it.

    I think that’s what happened in school choice is that instead of the neighborhood schools making changes, they concentrate on attracting the students that they think will bring their scores up, or they complain about losing those students. And that’s not how it was supposed to work.

    I’m tempted to say that school choice is not the answer, except that people with money have always had school choice through private school or the ability to move. If I had a dime for every person who told me that they wanted their kids to go to public school, so they moved to Oak Park or Wilmette or Deerfield instead of staying in the city, I’d be able to afford tuition at Francis Parker.

    And so, to get back to the topic on hand, I have a hard time saying that charter schools should be eliminated.

  • 132. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    And, me, no offense was or is intended. To a big extent, I’m thinking of the discussion of Lake View that we had (I like in the Lake View attendance area), which very much boiled down to people associated with the school arguing that it was a great school but of course it had low scores because most of the students were low-income and Latino, so parents who lived in the attendance area (most of whom are white and not low income) should assured that their children would do just fine because their children were not low-income or Latino.

    That really bothered me.

  • 133. ChicagoGawker  |  July 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    @me This single, never married mom bristles too when I hear assumptions made about how my kid is “at risk”. but then I have to admit that the reality is most kids of single moms ARE disadvantaged economically and perhaps educationally.

  • 134. klm  |  July 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm


    I don’t mean to downplay or dismiss your thoughts or ideas –I appreciate them, really. I have no idea what your life experience is, so who am I to judge? But, “thinly veiled racism”? Come on. 1974 called and wants to let you know it’s 2011. How is it “racist” for people to want a safe, academically positive environment for their kids? EVERYBODY wants that. Also, how do you know where people are coming from? Not to get too personal, but my spouse is A-A (and therefore, so are my kids). My sibling also married an A-A. I do believe “class” is an issue (even more for the A-A community than others, from what I have observed and studied). I have relatives from the “ghetto” and the North Shore (and similar places in other states) that are A-A professionals (including a CFO of a major corporation, an Ivy League professor, etc.) and strugling single parents . They do clash sometimes at family get togethers, but in the end they’re cool with each other. My A-A spouse grew up in college town in an upper-middle-class home (physician and teacher as parents). I grew up in an inner-city environment (housing project and everything) and later a trailer-park in a gritty working-class suburb. Race does not determine one’s place in life as much as class in 2011 America. The fact that the American Power Structure has tried so hard to integrate since the 1960s–and has succeeded to a remarkable degree (culminating with an A-A family in the White House) belies the “race card”. Ivy League colleges, prestigious grad schools, white shoe law firms, investment banks, etc. (even prestigious country clubs –my spouse get invitations a few times a year), almost all have “Diversity” goals and entire sections of their institutions built around becoming more “Diverse” (i.e., more black and latino). I live around lots of middle/upper-middle-class white people here in Lincoln Park (I guess I kinda’ am one –Volvo station wagon and everthing). Believe me, they LOVE the idea of “Diversity” –in their kids’ schools (look on the web site of Parker or Latin and their ‘Diversity Statements’ paractically beg A-A and Latino people to apply –lots of mention about financial aid, etc.). I’ve NEVER heard a word than could be decribed as racist or insensitive (even before people know my sposue and kids are A-A). I’ve seen peoples’ eyes light up when they discover that my family’s half black –they love it! (OK maybe that kinda’ exagerated, but there’s some truth in it). Ask a parent at Lincoln Elementary what they love about the school and one of the first things they’ll mention is “Diversity” (i.e., there’s a substantial number of black kids at my kid’s excellent school –yeah!). The idea that people are afraid of a school because its student body is not mainly white (and no other reason) is just plain unfair. People are way past the point where race and ethniciy as proxy for “advantaged” or “disadvantaged”. My middle-class A-A relatives think just the same way I do: Show me the money in terms of test scores and achievement, otherwise I’m moving to the suburbs or going private. Anybody who is really afraid of “poor brown” people wouln’t be living in Chicago, anyway –they’d live in Idaho, Montana, Lake Forest or someting.

    On the other hand, poverty and life chances really do seem to go hand-in-hand. Perhaps now more than even a generation or 2 ago. I know that it’s traditionallly been controversial, but the “Culture of Poverty” so many of learned about in Sociology 101 does seem to have put many American families in a corner. Having grown up poor 80-90% of the time, I know how difficult it can be to move beyond one’s surroundings and be “different” without getting scorn from others. Act and dress middle-class in a poor neighborhood and you’ll be a target. Act “smart” in school and you’ll be an object of scorn and bullying, etc. Pretty soon, it’s just easier to give in and “keep it real”.

    Class, rather than race is in many ways the defining issue in today’s social matrix. In as much as the the current SE “Tier” system is not perfect, at least it seems more fair than the strict racialism of the previous Consent Decree. My kids don’t need an “advantage” over those of a Polish cleaning lady, sinply because they’re not 100% white –they don’t need it.

  • 135. me  |  July 14, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I agree with you ChicagoGawker. Clearly this is a much larger discussion for another time. But, AA my dad grew up in public housing (in another city) but achieved mostly As in grade school/high school and the same in college. I live in a Tier 1 area by choice (not to game the CPS system – bought my condo 10 yrs ago as a single person before marriage w/kids) – with a Masters degree and high income. My child tested into a desirable SE for the fall. I am surrounded by these so-called “poor brown kids” and far too often, they are not even given a chance because we’ve already decided their intellect and fate simply by where they live and the color of their skin. Sadly, the statistics encourage such labels, but the kids deserve the prospect that they, even in the most deplorable conditions, have potential to be just as academically able as, what’s being described on this blog as the default – middle class white person.

  • 136. me  |  July 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    klm – I love everything you had to say. I just wish there were more Northsiders deciding to enroll in the Southside SEs for the sake of “diversity”. Schools like Poe and McDade are excellent, and certainly Lenart. But Poe and McDade are very highly rated, and virtually all black. Southsiders who enroll in SEs are strangely expected to remain on the Southside…hey, maybe we want diversity too! I would drive my child 20 miles in any direction to get them into a top SE if I had to.

  • 137. mom2  |  July 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    @klm 134 – That was a great post. Thank you so much.

    @me 136 – I think you are missing a point. Northsiders want diversity in their schools, but they are not willing to send their kids to school 45 minutes away and through potentially unsafe neighborhoods “for the sake of diversity.” Safety and quality of daily life are way more important and there is plenty of diversity right where we are now. A very long commute every day is not good for anyone, which I think is why Mayfair Dad might be wondering why the Southsiders aren’t trying for places closer to home vs. heading to places like Lane or NCP. I agree with everyone that the place for new schools in the future is downtown (although that could eliminate some school type activities that require a lot of outside space/stadiums/etc.)

  • 138. me  |  July 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    mom2 – it’s all relative. I recall Alejandro thinking Kenwood (I believe?) in Hyde Park was unsafe or “ghetto”. Perhaps venture to the schools in question and tour them and open your horizons a bit more, you may be surprised, that’s all. People often issue a blanket “unsafe, dangerous” over all of the SouthSide, which I believe is bizarre. The mostly middle-income AA families that send their kids to the SE SouthSide schools are concerned about the same things you are. We also value quality of life, safety and the best for our kids, not just you.

  • 139. .  |  July 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    @klm – That sounds very traumatic. How would those students attending school at another place/neighborhood solve the problem?

  • 140. .  |  July 14, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    “Anybody who is really afraid of “poor brown” people wouln’t be living in Chicago, anyway –they’d live in Idaho, Montana, Lake Forest or someting.” Really? Then why don’t white folks in Chicago start attending those un-diverse southside SE schools? Wondering.

  • 141. RL Julia  |  July 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    One problem is that while everyone in theory wants a good education in a safe place for their child – not everyone has the time, wherewithall or ability to work for it. Whether this is right or wrong is of no real consequence – the fact is though that in a large school system such as CPS, students who have no constant adult advocate often get lost, underappreciated and eventually undereducated. Parents who are not engaged in the system end up feeling like they are strangers not partners (depending on the school) and that CPS is making value judgements and decisions about their child.

    Every parents does want their kid to get a good education, but not every parent is in the position to absolutely make sure that this happens and hence it doesn’t for a lot of kids.

  • 142. mom2  |  July 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    @me 138 – I’m sure there are some great schools on the south side, but I may not be the best person to try to convince about giving them a try due to the distance. I am a parent that didn’t want my oldest child to attend Whitney Young, which I consider centrally located and a fantastic school, because it, in my own personal opinion, was too far a commute from the north side. So, I don’t think I could even consider a place that was farther than that. I am one of those parents that thinks it would be best for my kids to attend school close to home and thinks it is best for everyone if we could guarantee those schools could accommodate them (being safe, being college prep for those that are on that track, etc.)

  • 143. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I would consider Lake View, which is low income and Latino, if I were convinced that it were safe and that it offered real preparation for college. The racial makeup is a concern to me only in that I’ve heard that the school has a gang problem. Maybe it doesn’t, but I need some proof.

    My issue with schools south of downtown is the commute. The more time, the more trains involved, the more that can go wrong (such as missing class because of a CTA breakdown), the less time a kid has for homework and activities, and the earlier I have to start the fight to get a kid out of bed. It’s practical more than anything. If a kid has to transfer from the Brown Line to the Red Line to the South Shore train/Jeffery bus, it’s adding a lot of logistical stress to the day. It’s really only appropriate for a high school student to do that, and even then, it’s daunting.

    And I sure don’t want to be driving through Loop rush hour every day. I would pay Catholic school tuition rather than deal with it. (Seriously.)

    One option might be express buses, but CTA is trying hard to get out of the transportation business.

    My kid goes to our neighborhood school, which was majority minority and low-income when he started there. It isn’t any more. (And I’ve seen the fundraising tensions caused by losing the money that comes with a majority low-income population. It’s not pretty.) I liked the teachers and trusted that the principal wanted the school to succeed. I also knew that it would be easy to leave after first or second grade if it didn’t work out.

    Finally, the SEHS are all majority minority (the tier structure is set up to ensure that), and I’d bet every high school in CPS is. Many of the elementary schools are mostly white, obviously. But anyone considering a CPS high school goes in knowing it will be diverse.

  • 144. me  |  July 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    What about the gifted schools on the southside that offer free bus transportation regardless of where you live in the city, even as far as rogers Park, for example. Are you willing to go outside of your comfort zone? I do so every day…

  • 145. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 14, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    me, my child tested for the CPS gifted program and did not get in, so the free transportation is moot with us.

  • 146. me  |  July 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I applaud for giving the southside a try, I wish more were like you. I wish great schools like Mcdade and Poe (both classical, so their bussing has boundaries, though) had more than 1 or 2 brave white souls.

  • 147. klm  |  July 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    @136, “me”.

    I know of Northsiders that listed (my family included) McDade and Lenart on their “gifted/classical” application. We were “paired up” with a northside RGC. If I’m not mistaken, for travel/distance purposes kids’ home location relative to distance to a school is taken into consideration–e.g., a kid from Edgewater would be admitted to Edison, a kid from Beverly to Lenart, etc. However, there is at least one kid that goes to Edison from Hyde Park (the bus route starts at 6:30 for an 8am start time –ouch!).

  • 148. me  |  July 14, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    klm – I could be mistaken, but I don’t believe distance from an SE is taken into consideration for classical and RGC. There’s the pure score ranking, then the tier system score ranking comes into play. Why would the RGCs bus from anywhere in the city if that were the case? I recall the Lenart open house with the principal indicating students from all over the city.

  • 149. finally  |  July 14, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    @ klm 121

    “I’ve never understood why, but when the dysfunctional, anti-social types of behavior exhibited by some (but in no way most) school-age young people in a city like Chicago is brought up in a discussion about schools, neighborhoods, etc., some people become enraged and start calling others ‘Nazi’ (Is there ultimately any more lazy, easy moral ruse of name calling than using THAT word?).”

    It’s not the discussion of negative behaviors that sparks the comparison. It’s the discussion of solutions.

    “That” word is also shorthand for a way of thinking about solutions to societal problems. Not lazy, just efficient. It’s a warning about a slippery slope.

  • 150. finally  |  July 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    These children have some ideas on how to improve the general schools:

  • 151. scirich  |  July 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Bill Cosby agrees with you. I agree with you and I am Black, but so what? Knuclehead kids are the problem no matter their color.We know what works Parents teachers and the kids all doing their part. However, thats not going to happen with out some very unpopular remedies. Social engineering…OMG!

  • 152. cps grad  |  July 14, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    I’m sorry I just don’t get sending young kids (grade school age—high school is a little more acceptable) half way across the city for school. The commute that #147 mentions actually breaks my heart. That poor kid spends 3 hours a day on the bus. With all the homework he or she is getting at Edison, where is the play time! I can’t even imagine what happens when it is raining, snowing, or there is a traffic accident! Not to mention monetary and the environmental costs of all that diesel fuel. What about birthday parties, visits with friends, or group projects! I don’t know why CPS even calls some of these schools “Regional Gifted Centers” when in reality there is no region for the school. The kid mentioned in #147 lives closer to Lenart but is travelling to Edison (on tax payer expense). I admit I don’t know anything about Lenart, but for the 2011 ISAT scores just posted on this site there is less than a 2% difference on the 3rd grade ISAT Meet/Exceeds. Sounds good to me.

    I guess I’m just sensitive to commute time. I live on the far NW side and live here for both proximity to my family and so that both my husband and I have commutes to work that are less than 30 minutes. I wouldn’t want my kid to have a commute 3 times that. If that means going to a school that ranks slightly less (but acceptable) than the best so be it. I just get the sense that some of the driving factors in the SE treadmill has a lot to do with “parental ego.” There are many people out there that would rather send their kid to one of the SE schools across town even though their neighborhood school is very good and highly desirable. We are testing kids so young, and who knows if we are really getting the gifted kids or just the very bright who tested well that day or was prepped by mom and dad or an outside tutor. When I was in grade school, they would “invite” kids to test for gifted and classical elementary schools around the 3rd grade. If your Iowa’s were high or if your teachers thought you would benefit they sent a letter home about taking the test to go the Decatur or Edison. Kids who too the test, just took it cold, and funny thing is a lot of really smart kids chose not to even apply.

    Also I don’t think that the reason so many Southside schools lack diversity has to do with Northside students not travelling to the Southside. Although the Chicago is one of the segregated cities in the country, there is enough diversity in the 3 main sectors of the city North, South and West sides to populate the SE schools. If the south side SE schools 99% one race or another, it is because certain demographics on the Southside choose not to go to those schools.

  • 153. Question  |  July 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    @118 grace said:

    “It is mentioned in this story.”

    I think you need to correct your original record. This story said there is a ward with only charter *high* schools. Still would like to find out which ward they are referring to.

  • 154. cps Mom  |  July 15, 2011 at 6:18 am

    @138 Me – I agree with you. There are so many kids at Jones and Whitney that have siblings at Lindblum and Brooks – we are talking all the same families here. And near north and northwest families will not even consider Westinghouse which is a stones throw away from Whitney. Largely not a neighborhood issue but mainly due to the minority population. NOT everyone – but many just plain old won’t do it, talk the schools down and then complain that there are not enough SE schools.

  • 155. Mayfair Dad  |  July 15, 2011 at 9:04 am

    @ 143: “But anyone considering a CPS high school goes in knowing it will be diverse.”

    The SE high schools on the southside are anything but diverse. Compiled from the Illinois State Board of Education website:

    SOUTH SEHSs including: Lindblom, King, Brooks and Westinghouse.

    Black: 83.5%
    White 1.6%
    Hispanic: 13.78%
    Asian/Pac Island: 0.93%
    Other: 0.1%

    NORTH SEHSs including: Northside*, Payton, Lane Tech, Whitney Young and Jones

    Black: 20.28%
    White: 32.24%
    Hispanic: 28.34%
    Asian/Pac Island: 18.42%
    Other: 1.16%

    *Northside College Prep, the least diverse SEHS on the north, has a 5% Black student population and a robust Hispanic and Asian population as well.

    @ 152: “If the south side SE schools 99% one race or another, it is because certain demographics on the Southside choose not to go to those schools.”

    Diversity exists at northside SE high schools because of strictly enforced CPS policies that suppressed Caucasian enrollment and encouraged minority enrollment. These policies did not exist for SE high schools on the southside – they were allowed by CPS to become single race high schools, and are considered undesirable by Caucasian families on the southside who send their children to diverse parochial high schools in large numbers. Why the difference in policies? What proactive measures will CPS employ to remedy the situation?

    This was a topic of discussion on the Blue Ribbon thread a few weeks ago.

  • 156. Anonymous  |  July 15, 2011 at 9:43 am

    KLM – thank you for your comments. I was one who worked at an alternative high school in Pilsen. And believe me, the kids with these issues (pregnancy, drugs, parolees) came in all colors, although, the majority in this case were Mexican. The lone Puerto Rican child in my class was honestly shunned by the rest. Racism/nationalism? is everywhere.

    I chose to live in a neighborhood for its school. Plain and simple. I honestly did not claim to care about diversity as I believed my kids would get enough diversity (which is important as my daughter is multiracial) in the rest of their world in Chicago. However, I simply wanted a school where my kids and I could walk to with other kids in the neighborhood. And for me, that meant Lincoln (I guess we’re both Lincoln parents). Lo and behold, I’ve befriended parents who also have biracial children. But not because they have biracial children. But because we just clicked at parent meetings BEFORE I even knew who their children were. I work full time and don’t go to drop-off and pick-up. And we just laughed when we met each other’s kids. It was a great moment. And we’re great friends.

    So, the reason why I want LPHS to improve is not based on race, but behavior. I’ve seen kids of all races act very poorly around the neighborhood after school. I don’t accept that. And having worked in an alternative high school, I know that it doesn’t have to be the case. My students may have been on parole, but believe me, in my school, they were not EVER allowed to act out. And they didn’t. They were truly great kids at heart and a few exceptionally intelligent. They just needed a very different kind of guidance (two teachers were certified social workers and one a nurse practioner) than any traditional public school could ever give them. So, yes. I guess I AM saying to take the troublemakers (and the troubled) out of the school — but for THEIR sake, as well as the rest of the students’ sakes. Several of the kids at my alternative schools were trying to ESCAPE gangs they had been involved in. The only way was to get out of the whole CPS system. And they did. Thank god, as one of my kids’ siblings was murdered during the school year. So tragic. I could only teach there one year before I was emotionally drained. God bless our teachers!!!

  • 157. cps Mom  |  July 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

    @152 – many, including myself, happily travel to get into the right school. For us it was a matter of being able to integrate school and work commute and set up an after school option which many schools (including neighborhood) provide. On the car ride we worked on spelling, quizzing or just listening to music and talking about life. Bus service – for the few schools that have it – could be problematic. Once a morning commute hits over 1 and 1/2 hours those that could would stop taking the AM bus. Between the lengthy time spent sitting at stops waiting and before and after programs, there were many days that there were only 2 kids on a full bus. The commute would still remain the same and no change to bus schedule – talk about fat in the budget.(this is a separate topic of discussion).

    I think most parents would find a way to manage the commute to get into a school like Edison, Lenart, Jackson, Skinner, South Loop. Doesn’t seem to work however when it comes to SE high schools other than the 5 most notables.

  • 158. cps grad  |  July 15, 2011 at 10:23 am

    @155- What I meant by my statement is that too many white Near Northside, Loop and Near Southside residents send their children to NSCP or Lane before Westinghouse and Southsiders would go to Jones, Whitney, or Payton before they go to Lindblom. I understand that everyone wants to go whichever school they perceive to be the “best” but it really makes it more difficult for residents like me on the far NWside schools to gain entrance to the schools near by.

    I have no problem with my children attending a school at which they are the minority, but I don’t think my kids should have to and make more than 1 transfer and travel for 1 ½ hours each for Westinghouse, 1 ¾ hours for Lindblom, or even 1 ¼ for Payton each way to get to school when it would take them 25 minutes to get to Northside or 40 minutes to get to Lane (according to google maps). Let alone what happens when there is bad weather! I went to one of the few Magnet schools available in the city in the 90’s and we had kids from all over. It took several kids almost 2 hours to get to and from school; it took me 30 minutes to walk there. I will never forget one year there was a horrible snow storm and a few of the kids were stranded at school. Several teachers took these kids in for a night because it would have been impossible for them to get home.

    It is obvious that the way SE schools popped up around the city that there was little forethought on geography and proximity. There are several schools minutes away from each other, and huge areas of the city with no easy access to a SE school. CPS pays for kids to travel across town a gifted center while passing 2 other centers along the way. It just doesn’t make sense.

  • 159. CPSmama  |  July 15, 2011 at 10:28 am

    To me, this is not a racial issue at all. My child is multiracial and, my primary concerns are for her to get a college prep education in a racially diverse school without an exorbitant commute and without having to deal w/ gang issues. We looked at Kenwood, King, Lindblom & Westinghouse as potential options. The reason we didn’t select them was lack of diversity. HS is hard enough w/out the added pressure of being the “only’ one of your race or one of a just a handful.

    BTW, our neighborhood HS is Taft. It is largely Caucasian and it has a gang problem. So, even though my child got into Taft’s IB program, we opted for a diverse SEHS w/out gang issues

  • 160. klm  |  July 15, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I would like to point out that the forementioned student @Edison living in Hyde Park was a transfer student. I recall talking w/ somebody @ CPS OAS when our child was offered a space at Edison and when we talked about where were admitted somebody did mention that area (“Region” in the RGCs) was taken into account. However, after the initial K class, I think there’s more of “let’s put the kid where there’s space and where he/she’s highest on the list of apllied schools, regardless of where the student lives. Maybe there was simply a space that opened up at Edison, but not Lenart. Who knows? Bottom line: If people really think that a “gifted” education will benefit their child, most people will do whatever they need to do. It’s a blessing that these schools offer bus service. I know that the kids from Edison that have long bus rides tend to get some homework done, read, play with their Nintendo DS, etc. –so it’s kinda’ “chill, destress” time for some of them. Think how people read, listen to NPR, play with their iPad, etc. on the METRA train. Friends I know that commute to places like Libertyville and Naperville from Downtown kinda’ end up liking the “down time” between work and home –same goes for some kids, I suspect.

  • 161. Anonymous  |  July 15, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I think this discussion shows that our interests in school “choice” is so varied. I like that. I didn’t want a magnet school. I didn’t test my children for SEs. I wasn’t concerned about diversity. I wanted a good school near my home — perhaps reliving my suburban experience?

    And that is what I’d love for the high school experience. It’s also another reason I’d love to see our neighborhood schools improve. To the point of the poster above, there are a lot of northside SE high schools. Yet, there are never enough to satisfy demand! So, if LPHS and Lakeview can become acceptable first choices for more students, spots will open up for those who are “SE or suburbs” or “SE or Private.”

    I, personally, would be lined up to be LPHS. Unfortunately, I have no idea if my kids will be smart enough so that I’d be giving up a spot at an SE for someone else. Ha.

  • 162. cps grad  |  July 15, 2011 at 10:57 am

    @157—It really matters where you live and work. I think that a lot of the parents that comment on this blog or other boards live near it certain areas of the city and work downtown. I work in the north suburbs, have to be at work by 7:45, and there is no way I could drive my kids half way across the city and then get to work on time. That is why my kids will go to our neighborhood school or at least a SE that is very close by.

    Also, I grew up in the city and I find all this chauffeuring kids around very suburban and I don’t plan on doing it. I guess it is a product of how I grew up. I walked to school from the 2nd grade in groups with older kids. From 3rd grade on I walked to and from all my friends houses on my own. My brother and I would walk to the movies by ourselves at around 10 and 11. We started taking the bus alone at 12, and then my parents didn’t take me anywhere if they weren’t already going that way too. This was true of the vast majority of kids I grew up with. I wanted to go shopping, I took the bus; I wanted to visit a friend, I walked; I needed to go to the Regional Library to do a project, I took the bus. I got myself to my piano lessons, swim lessons, ballet, and grandma’s house all on my own. The 2 times my mom drove me to high school, I had her drop me off 2 blocks away because NO ONE got driven to school. That just wasn’t cool. Plus I have real problems with the environmental impact of all this driving kids around. It is kind of like the “local food movement” of schooling my view.

  • 163. cps grad  |  July 15, 2011 at 11:18 am

    @klm- I just remember what my experience was like when I went to Disney. I hated the bus ride. I hated getting up so early to catch the bus on time. I was so much happier when I transferred to my neighborhood school – and I highly doubt I would have ended up any different if I had remained at Disney. When it came to high school, I got into 3 different SE schools. I chose to attend the one that was the shortest commute even though another school was more prestigious. Again, I doubt my life would be any different (educationally) than it is now had I made a different choice.

    @ CPS-Mama. Our neighborhood high school is also Taft. I agree with you about the school, but what really irks me is all the $$$ CPS throws into infrastructure at the “Flagship High Schools” with their bright and beautiful facilities or bran new buildings, and then neighborhood schools like Taft is a dump. My cousin who attended Taft in the late 70’s was recently in the building and just couldn’t believe how the school has deteriorated. CPS has really neglected these buildings even though facilities can really affect school climate and student behavior. Consequently this a huge deterrent for families who might otherwise send their kid there.

  • 164. CPSmama  |  July 15, 2011 at 11:29 am

    ^ I also hate Taft’s “uniforms.” I have a big problem w/ a public school dictating my child’s choice of clothing unless that child’s behavior calls for it. At Taft, the uniforms are mandated baed on the worst-behaving kids but the good/smart(IB, honors & AC) kids also are “punished” with the same requirement. It may be petty, but I think clothing choice is a healthy form of self-expression that should not be taken lightly.

  • 165. Mayfair Dad  |  July 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Interesting article on the topic of…Charter Schools!

  • 166. AnotherConcernedMom  |  July 15, 2011 at 11:55 am

    164 – Self expression is the least of your worries if your child attends Taft. They have a dress code for very valid reasons. I also live in the attendance area, and no thanks.

  • 167. Angie  |  July 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    @156. Anonymous: “And having worked in an alternative high school, I know that it doesn’t have to be the case. My students may have been on parole, but believe me, in my school, they were not EVER allowed to act out. And they didn’t.”

    That’s exactly it. The kids act that way because the responsible adults at school allow them to do it. Plain and simple.

    By the time troublemakers are in high school, it’s pretty obvious that if the parents did not get involved in their education before, they are not going to do so now. So, it’s up to the teachers and administrators to try and do something about the problem. There have to be consequences for bad behavior. I don’t know what the laws are in regards to punishment these days. Personally, I’m a big believer in detention with some productive component in it, like picking the trash or scrubbing the floors.

    Maybe adding some councelors or psychologists to the schools to work with these kids will be helpful, too. Yeah, it costs money, but so will locking them up in jail or treating them for gunshot wounds a few years down the road.

  • 168. sped mom  |  July 15, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Grace, I believe it is the Austin neighborhood that has no public high school anymore. Not sure which ward that is.

  • 169. Hawthorne mom  |  July 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Many social workers, psychologists and school counselors have been cut over the years. Given that city residents don’t want to or are unable to pay any more in taxes, there won’t be an increase in needed services any time in the near future. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that crime will go up and our city will pay more in the long run because of it.

  • 170. cps Mom  |  July 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    @159 – As much as I would like to see more diversity at some schools I understand that it is just not going to happen having gone through this myself. If a candidate ranks a list of say 5 high schools that they would consider before either going private or moving – they will more than likely not be pioneering. Other good high scoring students that for various reasons will not go private or move may have a list of say 9 schools with SE, IB, charter and still not come down to Lindblum, Westinghouse, Kenwood etc.

    The mindset will not change even for those that cannot get into their top choices. Don’t get me wrong – everyone needs to do right by their child but there are great programs, selective and otherwise that are negatively impacted because of peoples perceptions of the school demographic. It’s hard to get on the band wagon for more SE schools centrally located when we are not optimizing the existing programs just because some are located just within a difficult neighborhood.

  • 171. another cps mom  |  July 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Cps MomH How could the south side SE schools be “optimized”? What would happen step by step?

  • 172. Angie  |  July 16, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    @170. cps Mom: “It’s hard to get on the band wagon for more SE schools centrally located when we are not optimizing the existing programs just because some are located just within a difficult neighborhood.”

    For me, safety of my children is a priority. I’m not interested in sending them to a difficult neighborhood just to improve someone’s diversity stats.

  • 173. cps Mom  |  July 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Simply put – more of the high scoring tier 3 and 4 families missing cut offs at the other SE schools that only accept the very highest performers in these tiers need to chose these schools. Currently, they are not – driving entrance scores down. Since this is really about personal choices, I don’t know of any steps that can be taken to change the situation. In our own scenario we received a first choice offer knocking Westinghouse out – which would have otherwise been a go for us.

    So, until we have enough forward thinking parents that will chose these schools, Chicago will have continue to hold only the top 4 slots on list of top schools instead of the 9 that it should have by design and everyone will continue to want to get into those 4 or 5 schools only.

  • 174. cps Mom  |  July 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    @172 – maybe, just maybe, getting to and from and being in these schools aren’t as “dangerous” as you think. Check them out. If location is beyond your threshold of safety then by all means this is not for you. I’m sure that there is a political reason for placing schools where they have. I’d guess that the idea of providing strategically placed SE schools in areas to accommodate various neighborhoods yet close enough to attract others (as SE schools tend to do) isn’t working well with many. I don’t see how anyone can expect that CPS will be able to accommodate the wide range of needs (location wise) for these selective schools.

  • 175. klm  |  July 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm


    In some ways, I think you may be right.

    On the other hand, until there are more kids in CPS scoring really well on ISATs, the ACT, etc., there simply are not enough CPS Chicago HS-age kids to fill up schools with average ACT scores on the 25-28 range, from what I’ve gleened. Am I wrong here? As per all out discussions about socioeconomic achievement gaps in education, it is hard to imagine Chicago suddenly having literally thousands more kids that could score in that range and higher. Even if all the kids that went to private HSs like Loyola, etc., because they didn’t get into Payton or Northside stayed in CPS (and I’m not sure those kids from Sauganash, Edison Park [WAY far North!] would feel about traveling 1-1.5hrs each way on buses to get to school on the Southside), I don’t think there would be enough to fill up 9 HSs. Maybe I’m wrong.

  • 176. Grace  |  July 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    M-F Dad —
    Thanks for the link to the Mother Jones article; it’s a good read and there are good comments. Then from there I went to the mentioned NY Times article.

    I had already read the Diane Ravitch piece, and I know that she is correct in pointing out the right way to interpret the success stories of the proponents of charters, like Obama and Duncan and no Rahm. The scores of the majority of charters just aren’t — 10 years on — besting the scores of neighborhood schools.

    This doesn’t deter the proponents, or encourage them to look again at their set of solutions. It seems that under Rahm that it will be full steam ahead to privatize our public schools.

  • 177. Grace  |  July 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    M-F Dad, and others, ever read WashPost’s Valerie Strauss?

    She posts interesting articles from educators and others around the US. She has one interesting piece on education reformers that is pertinent to us, but her interests range widely.

    But her latest post is really interesting in that Arne Duncan called up an educator who had disagreed with his push for teacher metrics. He actually asked questions and listened to her replies.

    Perhaps he was surprised at the NEA’s resolution condemning his policies.

    I hope that Obama’s re-election campaign realizes just how a big a liability Duncan and his harsh policies are becoming. I hope that Rahm realizes it , too.

  • 178. jillwohl  |  July 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Millions of dollars poured into Ren10, dozens of school communities upheaved, and there is not a single charter or contract performance school I would send my child to.

    Sounds like charters and AUSL in particular are still getting a richly undeserved golden ticket to shaping public education for another generation.

    Pity the future.

  • 179. cps Mom  |  July 16, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    @175 – the 4 south/west schools have high achieving kids already. Total population somewhere in the area of 6,000 with many kids already scoring that high. Lindblum is already listed in the top 100 schools in Illinois with Brooks close and Westinghouse too new to count. These schools have the programs and could go places.

    @178 – lots of kids benefiting from these programs. The nice thing about choice is that you can always opt out – no pity needed.

  • 180. Grace  |  July 17, 2011 at 12:56 am

    We’ve made an honest effort here to try and determine which Chicago charters are successful and why. It’s been interesting, but not as conclusive as I had hoped. CPS should simply release that information in a user-friendly way, don’t you think?

    We’ve looked at some data, cps obsessed strained her eyes and ruined a fine Friday evening, and the well-informed Patty mentioned her knowledge of U of C and UIC charters. The U of C charters’ test scores bear out her recommendation.

    According to ISBE, many charters are not successful. Perhaps those should be closed after a set number of years — 5 or 6. Perhaps the U of C model is the one most charters should implement. Perhaps we should not open new charters until we figure out which ones are successful and why, because it is so disruptive to children to open and close schools and change staff wholesale. An independent study on charters would answer these questions.

    Traditional CPS schools incorporate many parts of the program Patty described at U of C — with the exception of small class sizes for obvious fiscal reasons. The 90/90/90 school in North Lawndale, for example, seems to be very similar in its comprehensive approach to teaching. Innovation is going on at traditional schools as well. It all depends on the principal.

    Jill Wohl has a very good point about the political push behind the spread of charters and contract schools. This is Chicago, after all. In the Aspen Ideas Festival video, even Jonah Edelman, head of Stand for Children and a big supporter of privatization, described our government as corrupt, our governor as weak and Madigan as widely disliked but still the most powerful man in Illinois. These were factors Stand for Children considered when it hired 11 lobbyists and a pr firm to push through bill SB7, which effectively removed collective bargaining for the CTU.

    Also, if it turns out that there are only charter high schools in the Austin neighborhood, then our politicians have not given parents in that neighborhood the ability to opt out. They have removed choice there. How inside-out is that?

    Most damning are the comments from CPS employee and teachers about the poaching of high-scoring students from neighborhood schools; with Central Office giving charters the names and ISAT scores of top students months before the parents ever get them. If charters are innovative, then poaching and counseling out students who don’t excel shouldn’t be part of the story at all. I think it was Diane Ravitch who noted the large percentage of students at The Urban Academy for boys in Englewood who started as freshmen but didn’t graduate. Average ACT is 14 there.

    Then add the financial scandals at charters in Philadelphia and California, and the fact that on average Chicago charters are $400,000 in the red, with some far more in debt. And it looks as though CPS has not carefully managed the growth in charters.

    klm’s views enlightened many of us when he spoke of his relatives’ experience with charters, and their desire for a safe learning community with a longer school day, which helps working parents with child care.

    The new Board of Ed is packed with former charter and contract school officers or operators, so the question is: Will they fairly judge the success of charters and contract schools? And will they tell us?

  • 181. cps Mom  |  July 17, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Does anyone here know the full story about the neighborhood that does not have a public HS? Maybe they don’t have one because the charters service all their needs. All students are allowed to apply to charter schools thereby having a choice. All students are assigned a default school which, unfortunately for many, there is no choice.

    In respect to CPSO ruining a Friday night (thanks for your diligence in promoting concerns for our children) I have re-read the post and agree “it depends”. It’s my understanding that charters do have a limited time to prove their effectiveness. I also think that some people need to stop looking at the whole matter as CPS vs. Charters and look at what’s working, what’s new and innovative and what will help elevate education immediately. The only thing I see keeping the 2 apart is the union issue which makes me as a parent want to try anything to get around the union. I think that Rahm is on the right track with this – he needs to address the needs of the kids not the unions.

  • 182. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 17, 2011 at 10:35 am

    There’s no mystery. Brooks is at 111th Street, well past the end of the Red Line. That’s a haul for a kid from the North Side. Heck, that’s a haul for a kid living in the South Loop. King isn’t on the el, so a Northsider would have to deal with a transfer in the loop to bus or to Metra, which would add a lot of time to the commute. (Anyone I know who works in Hyde Park drives or moves.) Lindblom is close to the Green Line, but a bit of a haul from the North Side, and how good is that neighborhood to walk through? (It may be fine, I just don’t know.) Westinghouse seems to be less “out there”, and it seems that at least some North Side families are willing to consider it.

    So there’s your answer as to why North Side families won’t consider these schools. It’s not racism (at least not for many people), it’s proximity.

    Now, if kids are coming from Roseland and Pullman to go to Lane Tech, that really says something (that’s not good) about Brooks. Is that really the case? With Whitney Young, you probably have some sports recruiting in there that skews up the geography, but you probably don’t have much of that with the other SEHS.

  • 183. cps Mom  |  July 17, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Oh – I agree that no one from the North side will haul it down to Brooks just like no south-siders, as much as they would like to, will not attend NSP. But, for near northsiders and north-westerners the commute is do-able (no problem in getting to LAB school or St. Ignatius). There is direct access by EL, bus, Metra – practically door to door – for these schools. I also understand that there are other closer options. What I hear other parents say about these schools is racist and I believe that if they were not predominately black you would see a lot more interest in trying to get in.

  • 184. cps grad  |  July 17, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I know that when they closed Austin, the sent the majority of those students to Clemente. My cousin teaches there and said that it was the most horrible time. Lots of cross gang rivalries and a huge surge in violence. That is one of the big consequences of closing the neighborhood high schools; the kids who don’t get into a charter (and some would argue that those students tend to be most problematic) get sent to other neighborhoods. I remember that when this issue was brought to Mayor Daley’s attention at the time of the Fenger incident, he got defensive like he always did that ranted that we can’t make decisions based on gang territories. But IMO we should also be realistic and not put fuel on the fires that already exist and consequently endanger kids who really want to learn and teachers who make the sacrifices to work in the most difficult schools.

  • 185. Grace  |  July 17, 2011 at 11:23 am

    The average Chicago charter runs a deficit of $400,000, at 71 charters, that comes to $28.4 million. The teachers and principals don’t have to be certified and aren’t in the union. They make on average $20,000 a year less than union teachers.
    So where is the money going?

  • 186. Grace  |  July 17, 2011 at 11:48 am

    As for getting around the union, cps mom, your wish has already been granted.

    Rahm, our Chicago philanthropists, and Stand for Children have already achieved that through passage of IL SB 7.

    — The law effectively removed collective bargaining.
    — It tied lay-offs and tenure to teacher performance, based in part on test scores.
    — It made it much easier and faster to remove ineffective teachers and leaves them with no legal recourse.
    — And it allows the principal to hire whomever they choose, barring felons of course.

    So, now teachers have very few union rights left. Going forward, union teachers can’t logically still be considered the impediment to increases in children’s test scores. That’s the epitome of beting a dead horse.

    Now, union teachers have about the same rights as charter school teachers. Let’s see if the turnover rates of union teachers start to climb to the higher levels of charter teachers.

    If most Chicago charters are delivering ISAT scores that are not much different than the traditional public schools or lower, then what have they achieved other than to bust the union?

  • 187. Grace  |  July 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Not to appear to gang up on you, cps mom, but one thing some parents do is to get the address of a school, and then access the rate of violent crimes over the past 12 months in the 8 blocks around the school.

  • 188. Grace  |  July 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Another site is second city cop. Insights from police officers, whose numbers are down about 2,300.

  • 189. finally  |  July 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    @181 cps mom – Austin public high school coverage from Substance…

    — Search the site for more.

  • 190. finally  |  July 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    @ 135 (way back) klm
    @ 127 CPSDepressed

    🙂 No, I’m not “a troll or painfully naive” and back in 1974 I was busy getting accepted into WMY Magnet HS; searching for more racial diversity, social stimulation, and academic challenge than my neighborhood HS offered; preparing for a long daily RT commute to and from Laflin & Leavitt — and making some of my first steps into what’s turned into more than 30 years full-time employed in civil rights work. So, I’m hanging with 2011, and have been fully front-line since 1974. To riff the song, “try a little tolerance.”

  • 191. Curious  |  July 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I’ll take Westinghouse College Prep over any of the Noble Schools.

  • 192. Grace  |  July 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    finally, welcome.

  • 193. Grace  |  July 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Another wrinkle: A new NY Times story on charters which are opening in suburbs with good schools.

  • 194. cps Mom  |  July 17, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    @189 – probably know you – did you go to Little Flower?

    I doubt that anyone investigates the crime in Albany Park before they send their kid to NSCP

  • 195. Dad  |  July 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    In response to the questions of a neighborhood without access to a non-charter high school-
    Look at the HS maps on cps website. There is no part of the city that isn’t assigned a neighborhood high school. The neighborhood high school might not be close, might not be desirable, might not be in the same ward ( I don’t see the significance of that, since ward boundaries bear no relation to neighborhood boundaries in this city), but it exists for every address in chicago.

  • 196. Grace  |  July 18, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Hi Dad. In the original story Amy Goodman interviews a former Tribune now NY Times reporter who broke the story about the CPS clout list for selective high schools.

    The reason that the ward and not the neighborhood was mentioned is because no serious change to a CPS school happens without the alderman’s knowledge and (usually) consent. That is the result of mayoral control of our school system. For example, the Whittier parents don’t have Ald. Solis’s support for a field house / library b/c Christo Rey wants a soccer field and the field house stands in the middle of it. Solis and the board members of Christo Rey have more in common.

  • 197. Grace  |  July 18, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Tom Vander Arks was high up in the Bill and Melinda Gates Fondation and distributed more than $1 billion in funds to schools around the country. The he decides to start up his own charter school program. But he just quit in frustration, finding it to be a more difficult job than he had thought, complicated by our weak economy.

  • 198. Mayfair Dad  |  July 18, 2011 at 10:44 am

    @ 193 & others

    Northside College Prep is located in Alderman Pat O’Connor’s 40th Ward and CPD District 17. It is considered among the safest areas in the city.

    Yes, nearby Albany Park has a gang problem, but those upstanding citizens are not attending NSCP — they attend Roosevelt.

  • 199. cps Mom  |  July 18, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I hear you – The students attending Westinghouse, Lindblum and Brooks are not gang members either (in general). Point being, the neighborhood does not necessarily reflect the population of a test in SE school. This was in response to evaluation of a school based upon the 8 block radius.

  • 200. Grace  |  July 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that one can evaluate the school — its teachers, curriculum or students — by looking at crime stats. It’s one factor.

  • 201. cps grad  |  July 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    NSCP isn’t in Albany Park. It is in North Park just 1/2 block south of Hollywood Park. The neighborhood is a mix of single family homes and apartments. You also have 2 universities walking distance away, and the head quarters of WTTW studios. As someone who grew up not too far from there, I can tell you it is a very safe part of the city.

  • 202. Grace  |  July 18, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Off topic — but an interesting excerpt from Catalyst about career and technical training in high schools.

    “The Obama administration has proposed a 20 percent reduction in its 2012 budget for career and technical education training in public high schools and community colleges. The only real alternative to public schools is profit-making colleges and trade schools, many of which have been criticized for sending students deeply into debt without improving their job prospects. (The New York Times)”

  • 203. Junior  |  July 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    @ 195 Grace:

    There is a ward in the city that has no high schools whatsoever — no charters and no neighborhood high schools; so breaking things down by ward is fairly meaningless. It seems to me that charters have gone into many areas where traditional schools have struggled. Every child in the city has the “choice” of a neighborhood default school. For so many, the neighborhood (and therefore the school) is not a safe place; therefore they seek alternatives. From a policy perspective, I am inclined to try offer those people alternatives that will help them secure the safety and education of their children where their neighborhood school may not offer that “choice”.

    There are downsides to this, yes. A greater proportion of parents who don’t really care about education will send their kids to the neighborhood default option. Neighborhood schools see more challenges due to a higher concentration of challenging students. But who are we to ask people who want better for their children to become the sacrificial lambs and force their kids into dangerous situations (just so the neighborhood school culture becomes a little safer and scores a little higher?).

    We are moving toward a system of greater differentiation and specialization. Overall, that is a more efficient system — kids with similar needs will be grouped together so that similar resources can be consolidated and provided with greater efficiency. If you disagree with this, then ask yourself — should we eliminate all selective enrollment high schools???? These, in effect, are performing a similar function of grouping kids with similar, specific needs.

    I see some agreement in the sense that charters should be held accountable like all schools, and those that perform poorly should be closed. However, I also think that those that do perform significantly better than neighborhood schools should be replicated. The idea is not try to paint all charters with a single broad brush (nor neighborhood schools), but to find a system that recognizes true excellence and rewards it. We may not have that type of system yet (for teachers, administrators or schools), but it is not all that hard to imagine, and indeed there is some movement in that direction.

  • 204. cps Mom  |  July 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Amen to that Junior!

  • 205. scirichich  |  July 18, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    It wasn/t safe for Ricky Birdsong. I didn.t feel safe there before he was killed so when my children finished their classes at a korean cram school we never went back. Safe for some.

  • 206. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 19, 2011 at 7:08 am

    @204: Ricky Byrdsong was killed in Skokie. I suppose he could have suffered harassment, etc. in North Park, but I never heard about that.

  • 207. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 19, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Here’s a news story on Byrdsong’s death:

  • 208. Grace  |  July 19, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Hi Junior, you write as if you have input into CPS policy. Do you? Thanks for your thoughts.

  • 209. Grace  |  July 19, 2011 at 7:40 am

    From Sunday’s NYTimes story on charters opening in affluent suburbs where public schools are already safe and high quality, there are 103 charters in Chicago. If each has an average deficit of $400,000, that comes to a hole of $41.2 million.

    If safety is the issue in Chicago neighborhood schools, could we solve that problem at a more reasonable cost than chartes seem to be costing?

  • 210. Grace  |  July 19, 2011 at 7:45 am

    From the Sunday NYTimes story

    “Public education is basically a social contract — we all pool our money, so I don’t think I should be able to custom-design it to my needs,” he said, noting that he pays $15,000 a year in property taxes. “With these charter schools, people are trying to say, ‘I want a custom-tailored education for my children, and I want you, as my neighbor, to pay for it.’ ”

  • 211. Grace  |  July 19, 2011 at 7:47 am

    From the Sunday NYTimes story on charters

    “Public education is basically a social contract — we all pool our money, so I don’t think I should be able to custom-design it to my needs,” he said, noting that he pays $15,000 a year in property taxes. “With these charter schools, people are trying to say, ‘I want a custom-tailored education for my children, and I want you, as my neighbor, to pay for it.’ ”

  • 212. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 19, 2011 at 8:20 am

    The problem is that a one-size fits all education doesn’t work well because children are incredibly different. I’d argue that most of our problems in the schools stem from trying to treat all children as though they are exactly the same when some have very real differences, and even the kids who fall in a more “typical” range are not exactly alike.

    So I assume that for any educational system to work, there has to be a lot of tailoring involved.

    And, you’ve posted the comment about deficits in charters a few times now, Grace. But I’m under the impression that all of CPS is running a deficit, yes? So why single out the charters?

    I don’t think that charters are the source of problems in CPS. They may not be the solution, but it’s not like the system was just wonderful and amazing and financially responsible, with all children getting an outstanding standard education until these horrible charters came along and started underperforming and wasting money with some kind of ridiculous vision of different people being different.

    Charters may not be the solution, but they are hardly the problem in public education.

  • 213. Mayfair Dad  |  July 19, 2011 at 9:41 am

    @204 & others

    Crime statistics – real data; not anecdotes, gut feelings or gossip – confirm that Chicago Police Distict 17 (where Northside College Prep is located) is one of the safest areas in the city.

    The article re: the tragic death of Coach Ricky Byrdsong, Sr. is misleading. The shooting (the actions of a deranged gunman)occurred outside the home of Ricky Byrdsong, Jr. in Skokie.That the reporter chose to include quotes from Byrdsong Sr.’s North Park neighbors is confusing to readers of the article.

    I think the point someone is trying to make on this thread is the neighborhood where NSCP is located is equally safe/unsafe as some of the neighborhoods where southside SE high schools are located. Pure bunk.

    You are entitled to your opinions about Northside College Prep – good or bad – but you can’t play fast and loose with the facts. Northside College Prep is the safest public high school in the city.

  • 214. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 19, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Ricky Byrdsong, Jr. was nine years old at the time of the shooting. He lived with his father, Ricky Byrdsong, Sr., in Skokie, who was murdered near his home.

    And here is why everyone is confused: it’s a different Foster Street in Skokie. It’s a different Hamlin Avenue, too. Many of the roads on the North Shore have the same names as roads in Chicago, but that does not make them the same.

    You can find it on Google Maps:,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=1920&bih=860&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

    So: scirichich and Mayfair Dad, the whole reference to Ricky Byrdsong is mistaken because of a mixup about the street names.

    Finally, Ricky Byrdsong was murdered by a white supremecist who had a problem with seeing a black man on the street. And those kind of nut jobs are everywhere, even in quite suburbs like Skokie. When most of us are considering the safety of a school, we’re looking at the big picture – the petty robberies, harassments, and drug deals that permeate a neighborhood – rather than the few lone nut jobs that commit the rare murder in a place where you don’t expect it. Because here’s the thing: you’ll never be free of those nut jobs. Complete safety is an illusion.

    Wanting complete safety is very, very different from wanting a reasonable expectation that your kid won’t get jumped walking to school from the el.

    Now, where were we?

  • 215. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 19, 2011 at 10:04 am

    That should be, “quiet suburbs”. I’m slipping up.

  • 216. cps grad  |  July 19, 2011 at 10:07 am

    @204 –Laurie Dann went into an elementary school shot 6 kids and killed one in Winnetka IL. I don’t hear people saying Winnetka is unsafe. The point is that deranged people can cause random violence in any area and doesn’t prove anything about the safety of an neighborhood.

  • 217. cps Mom  |  July 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Just to clarify. I am not saying that the surrounding neighborhoods around any of the SE schools are equally safe or unsafe. I am saying that the SE schools themselves are relatively equal in safety and similar in rigor of program. Many do not even consider such schools because of the surrounding neighborhood which I believe could be overcome (and is by some) due to the security measures in place. Most will not even investigate those possibilities. I have not heard of any SE student having a safety problem before or after school. What I have heard – not from open minded people on this post – is that parents do not want to send their kids to a predominantly black school – no “diversity” etc. So they will remain non-diverse unless things change on a social level.

  • 218. Junior  |  July 19, 2011 at 10:56 am

    @ 207 Grace

    I am just a parent of CPS schoolchildren. No input into CPS policy–unless you count not being afraid to get involved and voice my opinion.

  • 219. Grace  |  July 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Sure it counts! And it’s a good thing, too.

  • 220. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Does CPS actually cover any charter school deficits? I was under the impression (highly under-informed impression) that the charters get a set amount from CPS and if they don’t make ends meet, that’s their problem (they get the balance covered by external non-profits.)
    I suppose if a charter is showing amazing progress, it could be worth a little more on the part of CPS to fund it, but generally, how can it make sense for CPS to cover the difference?

  • 221. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I think I agree with @211 (CPS Depressed) who says that it makes sense to have some school choice in a big system like ours. of course, as we’ve discussed the “choice” isn’t really ever a choice, is it? It’s luck.
    For the record, I got an email that Quest charter is still enrolling. If only my son were enterting 6th grade next year….

    Oh, on an aside, my son just attended a 1-week full day computer camp by IDTech Camps (at Northwestern) and gave it a big thumbs up. You may recall from previous posts, he gives almost nothing a thumbs up, so for those tech-savvy kids, it’s worth a look if you feel like spending some crazy ($750/week) cash.

  • 222. Mayfair Dad  |  July 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    @ 213: I think I just failed the reading comprehension section of the SE high school admissions exam !? If you need me I’ll be sitting in a corner with a dunce cap on.

  • 223. Grace  |  July 19, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    We may end up agreeing to disagree, but I tink enough issues have been raised to have an independent study undertaken of the 103 charters in Chicago and the 19 contract schools.

    I’d love to know the answers to some of the questions we have raised, such as how they are funded, how big is the deficit or profit, what are staff certification and pay scales, teacher turnover rates, is there poaching or counselling out of students, are the curriculums innovative or not, what are the test scores, which are on academic probation, which are successful, which offer full Sp Ed services.

    The link above is an interview with the Dean of the well-regarded U. of WI-Madison School of Education on the major corporations behind the privatization of public schools and their legislative agenda: ALEC is the acronym of this powerful group.

  • 224. Grace  |  July 20, 2011 at 1:19 am

    Excerpt from Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss — Answer Sheet.
    Privatization of public schools is a $500 billion market

    “Murdoch had said in a Nov. 2010 statement about the Wireless Generation purchase (acquired by News Corp.) that “we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching.” ”

    Murdoch hired Joel Klein, former NYC schools chancellor, to head his Education division earlier this year.

  • 225. scirichich  |  July 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Perhaps crime stats are suppressed for some areas just as some prestigious universities have tried to keep a lid on it.
    I hear some posting about southside se but when we talk about NSCP it’s north park near albany park, near west rogers, not far from Evanston/Skokie and so on. The kids from Roosevelt and Von and NSCP are with in walking distance of each other. On the other hand that nut case picked this part of town to commit a hate crime. I wonder what would have happened if he had gone to Englewood?
    But I’m old skool and for me the northside and Northwest side are safer for some less safe for others. We need charters because we are not ready to solve the real headaches of Public School Education.Charters are perhaps aspirin.
    Lane Tech Alum 1972

  • 226. Grace  |  July 21, 2011 at 12:51 am

    From Catalyst

    “Renaissance 2010, launched under Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s tenure in Chicago, foreshadowed the federal Race to the Top emphasis on charters. Yet a Catalyst Chicago analysis of charter financial documents, staff lists and test scores raises questions about the strategy’s impact on equity and school performance.
    CPS does not require prospective operators to open schools in the neediest neighborhoods. Eleven of the 25 highest-need communities have gotten no new charter, performance or contract schools, cutting them out of the money flowing into these new schools.
    Charters bring in significant private donations, raising five times the private cash that traditional schools received in 2007. But half of charters still had deficits in recent years, putting them in danger of potentially shutting down.
    On average, charters lost half of their teachers over the past two years, a turnover rate that rivals many low-performing neighborhood schools.
    Only 16 of 92 new schools have reached the state average on test scores. Of those 16, just eight are charters. The rest are new magnet schools or new satellites of existing magnet and selective schools.

  • 227. cpsobsessed  |  July 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I noticed the Reader has an article about Charter schools today. Haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Savage Love comes first, then schools. (uh, Dan Savage’s column, to be clear.)

    Brief summary: Many of the charter schools, particularly UNO are not forthcoming with their payroll and expense information, even though they are subject to the FOIA. The charter that HAVE been forthcoming reveal that charter teachers and principals get paid less that average CPS counterparts.

  • 228. Grace  |  July 22, 2011 at 12:30 am

    Bronx Charter School Disciplined Over Admissions Methods
    Published: July 20, 2011

    Brief Summary: A South Bronx charter school has been put on probation for what city education officials called “serious violations” of state law mandating random admissions, including possibly testing or interviewing applicants before their enrollment.

  • 229. Grace  |  July 22, 2011 at 2:36 am,0,7732210.story

    Brief summary: Gov. Quinn signed the Charter School Quality Act, which charter supporters say will help them get around school districts in the suburbs and downstate that have been hostile to charter schools. Also groups seeking charters in Chicago can go to the commission instead of Chicago Public Schools.

    Charters approved by this commission will get more state aid.
    A CPS-approved charter will get $7,800 per pupil, a commission-approved charter would receive about $9,900 per pupil from the state.

    The nine-member commission also will include three members who have experience in urban charters—something CPS requested.

    Does anyone know how much CPS spends on a typical CPS student?

  • 230. Mayfair Dad  |  July 22, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Hello Grace – these are the most up to date figures I could find

    2009 Instructional Expenditure Per Student

    State of Illinois: $6,483.00
    District 299: $7,690.00

    2009 Operating Expenditure Per Student

    State of Illinois: $11,197.00
    District 299: $12,880.00

    from Illinois State Board of Education

  • 231. cpsobsessed  |  July 22, 2011 at 8:52 am

    I recall the cost per student being high enough that I asked myslef “why not just send a bunch of kids to private school?”. I remember the cps pays more than the private schools on the north side (the “reasonable” ones, that is.).

    So that’s where I get confused about the negative charter pov. Cps is paying the same or less per pupil. Who pays for these supposed financial shortages? How do charters pay for the longer days? (Lower salaries, I suppose.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 232. HSObsessed  |  July 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

    That Reader article is pretty light. It simply describes how the Reader sent FOI requests to all the charter schools (individual or large-scale charter providers) and then details who responded with all the appropriate information, who gave a half-baked response, and who completely ignored the request. They were asking for a list of all charter school personnel names, titles and salaries.

    However, the article did say that the data they got reflects what is generally said: That charter school teachers and administrators are paid less than regular public schools. Principals get around $100K v. $140K, and teachers in the low $50Ks as opposed to upper $60Ks.

    And @230 re: why not send the kids to private schools: That’s the exact reasoning for allowing vouchers, so kids can do exactly that.

  • 233. Grace  |  July 23, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Would love to have an accountant-type look at all that goes into the cost-per-pupil number.

    I think it includes all CPS salaries, not just those of teachers and staff who directly engage with our children, but school support staff including landscapers, for example, and all the behind-the-scenes folks at the regional and district level.
    It might be that it also includes all CPS properties, new building and maintenance of existing buildings, utilities, etc., whether fully utilized or not. And perhaps it includes management expenses like a car and driver for the CEO.

  • 234. Grace  |  July 23, 2011 at 11:18 am

    If you get the chance, read the Ben Joravsky, Mick Dumke, Asher Klein piece in the Reader. I picked up the paper at Starbucks.

    It shows the effort it takes to get a simple answer on charters budget and payroll — their inquiry began more than one year ago.
    It shows which charters were willing to cooperate and which weren’t, which would be important for me if I were thinking about having a child attend a charter.
    And it shows that CPS said it isn’t keeping track of this; although it funnels $293 million of our tax dollars to charter operators, it has no reports on charters budget and payroll.
    This is just basic stuff, really.

  • 235. cpsobsessed  |  July 23, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I was kind of excited when I saw the 3 part charter article those guys did, but then disappointed to see that their main argument is lack of providing information. Remember how we discussed the lack of some Chicago SE High schools on that “best of” high school list and figured out that some of them just hadn’t sent in the paper work?

    I guess just because they didn’t disclose doesn’t mean (to me) that they have something to hide. Schools staff is overworked and gathering all the necessary paperwork is probably a pita (although still a legal requirements, so in some ways I do NOT have sympathy.) But what is the hypothesis here? That charters are using money stupidly? They’ve already concluded that salaries are lower than CPS. And the article doesn’t make it clear if CPS/Chicago/Illinois is paying more for a charter education than a public one. I don’t know if I feel the outrage necessary to get mad about the lack of data dumping. What is the most likely scenario they think they’ll find? Overspending on…. X? I guess I’d like to know, but my sense is more that some charters just don’t know what the heck they’re doing.

  • 236. Grace  |  July 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    You’ve got a point, cps-o, but during summer staff isn’t usually overwhelmed, and he did ask one year ago. Should be enough time, since charters have to meet payroll and pay vendors regularly, like everyone else. And everything is on computers these days. Some charters have been around since 1997. But CPS doesn’t have these reports? So how good is their oversight? There are no LSCs at charters.

    There is a poster at the Reader who asked about a year’s worth of consulting fees at the Betty Shabazz charter. Came to $500 miilion and change. For what? Might be high? Might be every year? Who knows?

  • 237. Grace  |  July 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    The push for charters nationwide by Stand for Children and The New Ventures Fund is explained here in detail.

  • 238. HSObsessed  |  July 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I agree that the Reader article was disappointing in that it didn’t say anything about the actual spending the charters undertook. However, having the list of who responded and who didn’t is in itself of some value. If a given school or charter system has the balls to ignore a Freedom of Information request (for basic information) from the Chicago Reader (a high profile media outlet), can you imagine how non-responsive the school would be to a lone parent asking for them to comply with ADA laws to accomodate their child, or other basic legal matters? It would concern me if I were considering enrolling my kid.

  • 239. Grace  |  July 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Btw, I read that waaay wrong; it is a $500,000 consulting fee and a deficit of $137,000 for Shabazz charter.

  • 240. Grace  |  July 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Brief Summary: A grass roots group, Parents Across America, opposes a House bill (HR 2218). The bill gives extra support to increase the number of charters. It gives new incentives for raising or abolishing caps on charters and for taking the decisions to authorize new charters away from the local school boards most of whom are elected by parents. HR2218 also gives extra funds for charter school facilities and adds incentives for virtual (Internet-based) charter schools.

    My take: If charters performed as promised, the demand would be there for new charters, and then this bill wouldn’t be trying to take control way from local school boards.

  • 241. Grace  |  July 23, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Well sourced information on charter mishaps to watch for.

  • 242. Grace  |  July 24, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Under “they leave no stone unturned” …

    Illinois house bill 1716 will curtail the public’s right to know by rolling back access to public information through the use of FOIAs.

    Which means that Ben Joravsky’s story analyzing charters will never be written as he originally intended. And the BGA won’t be able to do its job of watching our for corrupt politicians.

    Gov. Quinn has the bill in front of him to sign. Read more at the BGA web site.

  • 243. Grace  |  July 24, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Something new: The BGA is planning to offer training to parents who want to understand how public schools should run.

  • 244. Grace  |  July 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    In Chicago, we haven’t seen very many charters that are high-performing. But the expansion of charters out of neighborhoods of poverty could well change that. Here is an excerpt of a Rutgers professor’s analysis of high-performing charters in New Jersey and New York.

    The Offensively Defensive Ideology of Charter Schooling

    There now exists a fair amount of evidence that Charter schools in many locations, especially high performing charter schools in New Jersey and New York, tend to serve much smaller shares of low income, special education and limited English proficient students (see various links that follow). And in some cases, high performing charter schools, especially charter middle schools, experience dramatic attrition between 6th and 8th grade, often the same grades over which student achievement climbs, suggesting that a “pushing out” form of attrition is partly accounting for charter achievement levels.
    As I’ve stated many times on this blog, the extent to which we are concerned about these issues is a matter of perspective. It is entirely possible that a school – charter, private or otherwise – can achieve not only high performance levels but also greater achievement growth by serving a selective student population, including selection of students on the front end and attrition of students along the way. After all, one of the largest “within school effects on student performance” is the composition of the peer group.
    From a parent (or child) perspective, one is relatively unconcerned whether the positive school effect is function of selectivity of peer group and attrition, so long as there is a positive effect.

  • 245. HomeFree  |  July 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    @234: “From a parent (or child) perspective, one is relatively unconcerned whether the positive school effect is function of selectivity of peer group and attrition, so long as there is a positive effect.”

    And from a society’s perspective, we must be very concerned on the negative effect on those children “left behind” in the general, neighborhood public schools. We each as citizens should be very concerned (as you do seem to be, BTW).

    Anyone up for Dickens for summer reading?!

  • 246. Grace  |  July 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    I love Dickens!

  • 247. Grace  |  July 26, 2011 at 8:52 am

    From Mike Klonsky Small Talk Blog. Klonsky is a Professor of Education at De Paul U.

    UC study: 50% teacher turnover rate in L.A. charters

    “It has a huge effect on student morale,” she said, especially for students who lack needed stability in other parts of their lives. “By the time students graduated from my school, there was not a single teacher who had been there the whole time.” — Charter school teacher

    L.A. Times reports that abound half of all teachers in charter middle and high schools left their jobs each year over a six-year period studied by UC Berkeley researchers, who released their findings last week.

    Why such an incredibly rate of attrition?

    They hire heavily from Teach For America, a cadre of recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years.
    Some young teachers find the intense, demanding charter experience more than they bargained for, suggested Berkeley education professor Bruce Fuller, a study co-author.
    Leaving for better pay and benefits at traditional school districts.
    Lack of promised input into school decisions, an unceasing workload and few job protections.
    “Teachers feel so beleaguered because everything is presented to us as a problem we have to solve. But we can’t fix all those problems, like when a kid misses 60 days in a semester.”

    Posted by Mike Klonsky at 7:06 AM
    July 25, 2011

  • 248. Grace  |  July 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    This is the first of 2 comments on the WSJ interview with Bill Gates on what he has learned while spending $5 billion on public education efforts in the past few years. (I’ll look for the WSJ interview.) Jay Greene’s analysis is an interesting counterpoint.

  • 249. Mayfair Dad  |  July 28, 2011 at 10:38 am

    @ Grace & HSO

    Getting a phone call from Ben Joravsky is the local equivalent of Mike Wallace showing up at your door with a 60 Minutes film crew. I love Ben’s stuff, but you can understand a school’s reticence so I’m not sure what the lack of cooperation tells us.

    My takeaway from this whole thread is that charter schools are just as screwed up as the CPS neighborhood schools they hope to replace. How sad for the children of Chicago.

  • 250. Grace  |  July 29, 2011 at 11:50 am

    My take away isn’t so grim, Dad.

    Charters that do well should be emulated, like the U of C schools, and others should be carefully managed to see if they can be improved or else closed. But the lack of oversight is worrisome.

  • 251. Grace  |  August 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

    August 12, 2011 — From the PEN weekly newsletter …

    With White Hats like these…
    An Ohio judge has ordered charter-school operator David L. Brennan to turn over a detailed accounting of how his for-profit management company White Hat spends the millions of tax dollars it receives each year, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The state’s law “clearly and unambiguously requires operators of community schools to provide their governing authorities with a detailed accounting of how public funds are spent,” Judge John Bender wrote in a 12-page decision. Last year, charter schools in the Akron and Cleveland areas sued to terminate or renegotiate contracts with White Hat, saying their input was ignored and White Hat ran the schools “as they deem fit regardless of many legitimate objections, questions, and challenges that the (community schools) have raised.” Under contracts with the schools, White Hat receives 96 percent of the state aid schools are given. Bender’s decision means White Hat must turn over a broad range of financial data, including how much is spent on teacher salaries, computers, textbooks, and other classroom equipment; an inventory of personal property for each school; how much is spent on lobbying state lawmakers or making political contributions; and funds paid for security. Brennan is the second-biggest Republican campaign donor in Ohio over the past decade. His lobbyists wrote many of the proposals governing charter schools in the Ohio House’s proposed state budget this year, although most were removed by the state Senate.

    Read more:

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  • 253. erin  |  January 30, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Regarding the Lycee Francais, a child of French nationality living with at least one parent and attending the Lycee is eligible to apply for financial aid from the French government, who sets the maximum amount it will consider paying at about $13,500 no matter what tuition actually is, currently in excess of $15,000; it used to be more like $11,000–a little less for preschool/elem, higher for middle and high school. There was a huge jump one year then and steady increases since. Unfortunately the Lycee seems increasingly more concerned with bringing in wealthy families than in making sure they remain a place for those truly interested in French language education. French nationals I know say that the French government assistance is not very generous, you have to be quite low-income to get much help. I know a number of families (both French and not) who have left due to rising cost. The school has a financial aid program (for which French families may not apply unless they first apply for the French government aid) that has been decreasing aid amounts for several years now (or aid remains the same while tuition goes up 8% a year). Employees/teachers also do not receive any tuition break (the thinking being I guess that they are almost all French nationals and can apply for the government aid if they want).

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