Where do Charters rank in the city?

November 18, 2011 at 9:37 am 107 comments

Since we’re on the topic of charter and I woke up to read several comments about Ben Jarovsky’s current Reader article about Senator Kirk’s misrepresentation of the success of charter schools (which WE discussed weeks ago – yay us!)

Unfortunately, I find Jarovsky’s article almost as misleading as Kirk’s.  Kirk or his people clearly stole a blurb that Rahm or his people came up with about the top high schools in the city being charters.  Obviously anyone reading here knows that they needed the disclaimed “Other Than Selective High Schools.”  They didn’t include that which makes it horrible fact-reporting.  But when I pull a list by ACT scores, I have to admit, the charters don’t make a bad showing.  So I don’t love Ben’s articles that spends 2 pages about how Kirk messed up.  Yes, he did.  Dumb-*ass error, but let’s get to the heart of the matter.  Charter performance.  Ben says they should be compared to SE high schools and I disagree.  He came up with an analysis that is different than mine and I’m curious about it, just as he was about Kirk’s. Link to the story is down below.

I posted the following comment on his article:

Point taken, both Rahm and Kirk reported an inaccurate “data blurb” about charters.  I am not necessarily pro-charter, but I’m pro-data.  They way they reported it is inexcusable.  However I STRONGLY believe that one needs to remove the SE high schools when comparing “the rest.”  It’s no secret that those schools take the very top students in the city based on test scores and grade.  It’s not even close to comparable.

I ranked ACT scores for 2011 and removed SE, Military (I don’t know the admission criteria there) and a couple other schools that use test/grade-selective components.

I am left with the following list.  To ME it looks like the charters occupy a prime spot above the neighborhood schools – on par with a few Magnet high schools.  A list of CPS elem schools would show the same Magnet effect.  Charters are acting like magnets (which in essence they are.)  Does that make it right or wrong to operated them?  I don’t know. Perhaps CPS could open more magnet high schools and get the same results.

I am curious about your numbers though.  As a data person, I just like to make sure I’m getting the real picture and it seems like you are as well.  Can we reconcile these?

Ranked by Avg 2011 ACT score

NOBLE ST CHTR-UIC        21.2        Charter

NOBLE ST CHTR-PRITZKER            21.0        Charter

DEVRY HS            20.7        Magnet

NOBLE ST CHTR-NOBLE  20.6        Charter

CHGO AGR HS   20.4        Magnet

NOBLE ST CHTR-RAUNER              20.2        Charter

NOBLE ST CHTR-COMER                20.1        Charter

NOBLE ST CHTR-GOLDER               20.1        Charter

KENWOOD HS   19.2        Neighborhood

CICS-NORTHTOWN         19.0        Charter

NOBLE ST CHTR-ROWE CLARK     18.9        Charter

UNO CHTR – MAJOR HECTOR P.GARCIA 18.7        Charter

CHICAGO VIRTUAL CHTR CAMPUS HS     18.5        Charter

CHGO ACAD HS 18.4        Designated Small School

TAFT HS                18.2        Neighborhood with AC for middle school


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New HS Application Process / School Closures Let’s Talk Gifted Programs

107 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mayfair Dad  |  November 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

    City of Chicago AVERAGE: 17.7

    State of Illinois AVERAGE: 20.6

    Compared to the pathetically low City of Chicago average, many of these schools look pretty good. Compared to the enemic State of Illinois average, most of these schools look…meh.

    Still, as a parent of high school age children, it would be nice to be able to evaluate the quality of charter high schools without the distortion of pro-union/anti-union spin.

  • 2. AlsoAnonymous  |  November 18, 2011 at 10:48 am

    What I would like to know is how students gain entry … and stay there. Rumors abound that Charters are able to “counsel out” underperforming or disruptive students. Neighborhood schools cannot. There’s nowhere else to go for them.

    I would like to know if any of those rumors are true … or not — and if admission is strictly lottery-based. Then I will be able to judge them equally.

    I am more concerned that charters are not truly public, but rather “quasi-public” and do not have the same accountability. I guess some could argue that that’s good. But others argue that it’s the end of true public education.

    I don’t know who is right.

    I’d love to see charters opened specifically to address the needs of the poor-performing and disruptive students. I’d love to see charters (which have less accountability, and hence less need to adhere to the same-old, same-old) use their “innovative” teaching methods to actually BE the places of last resort.

    In other words, I’d like to see neighborhood and other truly public schools be able to “counsel out” their disruptive students to charter schools designed specifically for that purpose — maybe with more counselors, longer hours, trade programs, mentorship, etc. Having taught at such a school (private, faith-based funding), I know these kids are NOT doomed … unless they stay in education systems not made for them.

  • 3. anon.  |  November 18, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Kirk was talking about the top-scoring schools in Chicago.

    Everyone knows that they are selective, and that they are not charters.

    (We’ve been down this path of misinformation before with Rahm, Andrew Broyd and others, and it is important to correct this too-common mistake.)

    You suggest Kirk really was talking about the schools which fall below that first selective group — he just forgot to clarify that.

    Then you conclude that Joravsky is also “misleading” b/c Kirk didn’t add a clarification? Huh?

    It would be nice for you to spell out which schools you left out to get to your final list of top schools — which happens to be mostly charters. Just saying.

    Because when parents are trying to determine which schools have the highest ACT scores, I’m sure they are not overlooking them.

  • 4. anonymous  |  November 18, 2011 at 11:20 am

    #2 That is the most sensible approach to the use of charters, I think.

  • 5. willow  |  November 18, 2011 at 11:25 am

    There is never going to a be good way to compare charters to neighborhood schools until charters start taking all the kids in neighborhoods (especially special educaiton students) and neighborhood schools are allowed to operate with some of the autonomy that charter schools get to. Charters get public money but do not have to follow all of the mandates that come from the board. If you look at the number of students enrolled in charters as freshman and the number of students that take the ACT junior year, you realize that the underperforming students have gradually been pushed out. We have to find a way to fairly compare scores across different groups of students.

  • 6. cps Mom  |  November 18, 2011 at 11:31 am

    @2 – the reality is that all magnet schools “counsel out” kids. A teacher poster even claims that a neighborhood school is counseling out students. It’s part of the process at CPS magnets to offer repeat of a grade or go to your neighborhood school with a less rigorous curriculum. If a kid scores below standard on ISATs they are encouraged to go elsewhere.

  • 7. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

    It seems like Noble is doing a great job. The data certainly doesn’t echo the idea that charters are on average the same as–or worse–than public schools.

    They’re not as impressive when you compare their ACT scores with the state average, but they are doing a great job relative to public schools in Chicago.

    Also, doesn’t Kenwood have some kind of magnet or selective-enrollment type program? I am wondering if that could be skewing the scores upward.

  • 8. junior  |  November 18, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Here’s my list of worst posters on CPSObsessed:

    1. Anonymous
    2. Anonymous
    3. AlsoAnonymous
    4. Anonymous
    5. Anonymous

    Of course, maybe that’s just biased, because it screens for people who don’t have enough creativity to come up with an original pseudonym that masks their identity. Just sayin. Is there a way to counsel them onto District 299 instead?

  • 9. CPSDepressed  |  November 18, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Ask special ed parents in the “best” neighborhood schools about counselling out.

  • 10. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Willow@5: You bring up a good point here: ” Charters get public money but do not have to follow all of the mandates that come from the board.”

    This could become a problem for charter schools (and probably already is for some). Just like private schools, they don’t have to adhere to common standards or report, so they can be hit or miss in terms of facilitating academic achievement. At the same time, the fact that they don’t have to follow mandates and can be a little more creative with their curriculum may very well be why some of them do so much better than neighborhood schools.

  • 11. Angie  |  November 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    @2. AlsoAnonymous: “Rumors abound that Charters are able to “counsel out” underperforming or disruptive students.”

    Good for them.

    I don’t see the problem with charters serving the students who couldn’t make it into top SE schools, but still want a safe and productive learning environment. Currently, there are very few options for them in CPS.

    It would be great to have the charters dedicated to teaching the disadvantaged students, too. Maybe KIPP can open a school or two around here to show the CTU naysayers how it’s done.

  • 12. Wish2Banon  |  November 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    North Town Academy Charter has special ed. A friend taught there last year and has nothing bad to say. Lottery for admittance. Grades are not considered until you accept. Yes, they weed out the troublemakers and they usually end up at Taft.

  • 13. junior  |  November 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm


    Gald to see you out there policing the abuses of data.

    In the end, schoolwide and systemwide performance changes and differences are rare and come in small increments. The so-called better performance of magnet schools can virtually all be attributed to selection bias. I would suspect that the exact same dynamic holds true for charter schools. We need evaluation methods that take those biases into account, and we are far from that.

    We also have a general public that does not fully recognize that the test scores of schools are primarily determined by the selection of students and not by the quality of school/teachers. Tell people that their magnet school doesn’t improve their kids’ test outcomes any more than a typical neighborhood school would and people will look at you like you’re crazy. Sometimes the lunatics have to keep making the case though.

    I do agree however that specialization is good and that we should have a system of charters/magnets/SE schools that tailor their approach to specific populations. The logical extension of that is having a charter for underperforming kids. The problem is that if we keep using the same system of evaluating schools on raw test scores, then no one is going to want to deal with underperforming students. Again, we need to change the way we think about test scores.

  • 14. cpsobsessed  |  November 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    As I’ve been thinking about this post this morning, I think where I’ve netted out is that Charters are like Magnet schools with the ability to weed out behavioral problems (or so people say.)

    I’d be curious to know the extent to which the schools do this (what % of kids per year?) Also, do the Magnet High Schools have this ability as well?

    So in some respects, just like we don’t compare magnet elem schools with neighborhood, perhaps Charter vs neighborhood isn’t a fair comparison. Although typically the Charters have tended to draw from low socio economic families, which puts them at a disadvantage. Again, all the factors make it hard to make a definitive conclusion as to whether “CHARTERS ARE GOOD.”

    I’m certain that if I were a low income parent in a crappy neighborhood and I saw these Charter scores and I knew that the Charters had high expectations and work the kids hard with seemingly good results, I certainly would be trying to get my child into one.

    As someone wisely pointed out in a recent comment, deep down we may understand that Charters hurt the whole system by skimming the well-behaved kids, but in all honesty, at this point in time, MY kid is MY real priority.

  • 15. cpsobsessed  |  November 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    “Tell people that their magnet school doesn’t improve their kids’ test outcomes any more than a typical neighborhood school would and people will look at you like you’re crazy.”

    Bingo. Very good point. And CPS loves to trot that out, don’t they? And parents clamor to get into those “good schools.” So ulimately, the pool of applicants to these schools gets even better and parents will drive further to get their children there daily.

    Chicken/Egg dilemma.

  • 16. mom2  |  November 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    You are so right about the “chicken/egg dilemma.”

    I see two sides of things that always happen on this forum. The teachers and/or CTU supporters get very upset when someone compares SE or Magnet or Charter schools to neighborhood schools because they feel that someone is attacking them or somehow saying that the teachers must not be as good at neighborhood schools. So they respond with constant information about why you can’t compare them.

    What they don’t realize is that the parents on this forum aren’t even thinking about the teachers at the neighborhood schools. Most parents I know are thinking about what is best for their children. They see a school with students that are performing well and decide they want their child to be in that sort of environment (with students that care, perform well, with teachers that may therefore be less stressed or have more time for teaching and less time needed for discipline, etc. etc.) I think a lot of parents realize that the teachers at the neighborhood schools could be wonderful, and even the administration could be great. But if you have a choice between knowing your child could be in one environment vs. the other, which one would you think could give your child the best chance to learn and be safe? The answer is obvious.

    I certainly believe that if there were no magnets, charter or SE schools and everyone that currently attends a CPS school stayed in CPS despite this, there would be a huge improvement in some neighborhood schools. And, if neighborhood schools could “counsel out” some kids and have them go to a school (charter or magnet or whatever) that could really help them focus and learn, it would be great for neighborhood schools and scores.

  • 17. junior  |  November 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    @15 CO

    Actually, I’ve never seen CPS draw attention to the fact that magnet schools do not outperform neighborhood schools. They like to hold magnet schools up as the gems of the system to attract more families, and it seems that most parents in Chicago have accepted that idea whole hog.

    Now, there may be many other reasons to choose magnet schools, but improving academic performance (as measured by test score) should not be one. Same goes for charters I think.

  • 18. cps Mom  |  November 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    @14 – I don’t think that technically magnets can kick anyone out (although I’ve seen it done in extreme circumstances) but they have their ways. As mentioned, the threat of repeating a grade especially if they do not show meets on the ISAT, putting struggling kids in foreign languages like Chinese or Japanese and in general teaching way over their heads so that they are doomed to fail, failure to admit siblings (not sure if that is still possible), Parents need to have their under-performing child tutored or look elsewhere. Wrong or right – the feeling is that if you can’t keep up with the rigorous program there is a line a mile long of kids waiting to get in. Which is true – so in fact, magnets are very selective.

  • 19. CPSDepressed  |  November 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    The thing is, I’m not sure the converse is true. I’m not sure you can take kids from Whitney Young, move them to Crane or Dyett, and get the same results. A lot of the neighborhood high schools don’t prepare kids for college. They have a student body that is not interested, maybe, and maybe they have bigger issues to deal with.

    So it’s a combination of what a child’s capabilities are and whether the school can bring out their best. I do not believe that my child would do well anywhere, nor do I believe that 92% of CPS students are not college material. There’s more going on than genetics.

  • 20. junior  |  November 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I’m not familiar with Crane or Dyett. Whitney Young is a selective enrollment school, not a lottery-based magnet school. My statement was about typical/average neighborhood school and magnet schools. The evidence says most definitely that the kids will perform the same. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?

  • 21. mom2  |  November 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    @20, can you share your evidence that a child at someplace like Hawthorne magnet would perform the same at one of the very low income neighborhood schools? I’m curious about the actual evidence.

  • 22. CPSDepressed  |  November 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I don’t think we have any evidence about anything, and that’s part of the problem.

    I happen to think that schools matter and teachers matter. I also think it lets a lot of people off the hook if they can attribute all of a child’s performance to genes and family. But then I wonder, why are teachers so quick to say that they add absolutely no value? Because that’s exactly what the “your kids will do fine anywhere, so please send them to our school so that they can raise the average test score” argument sounds like to me.

  • 23. cps Mom  |  November 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    @10 very good point. Most parents want good public education regardless of label. We need to analyze what’s working not bicker over why success is skewed one way or the other.

  • 24. junior  |  November 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm


    Evidence from a large, robust, and I believe peer-reviewed study:


    I didn’t say you should compare the top-performing magnet school to the lowest performing neighborhood schools. You can always find specific situations where a general rule doesn’t hold. But, on average, well, look at the study…

    I’m also not making nature/nurture arguments here. Effects of both genes and socioeconomic/family environmental factors are likely to have impact on kids. Both of those factors exist independent of the school and have great impact. Not really fruitful or relevant here to discuss which one is stronger.

  • 25. junior  |  November 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Actually, here’s the better one that deals with elementary schools:


    Both show similar results.

  • 26. cpsobsessed  |  November 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Even if the actual performance is equal (which means that the kids who get in and stay in the charters would have scored the same if they’d stayed in their local school, so they’d have been at the top of their class, probably) if I’m a parent who can’t afford private school of any kind, would I rather have my kid in the local school with a ton of unmotivated kids? Or in a charter with kids who’s parents are likely more education-oriented and kids who act nicely enough to stay in the charter? And commit to a longer school day and possibly more work? I know what I would choose…..

  • 27. cpsobsessed  |  November 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I was wondering about Kenwood, I thought cps.edu said it was Neighborhood but I thought I’d recalled that Lake View was the highest performing neighborhood school….

  • 28. cps Mom  |  November 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Do the Taft numbers include the IB program?

  • 29. junior  |  November 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm


    “I also think it lets a lot of people off the hook if they can attribute all of a child’s performance to genes and family.”

    Not at all. We just need to align accountability with reality. We are currently suffering bad consequences of a failed NCLB law because of the perverse incentive system NCLB creates around test scores. Now that schools have figured out that it’s much, much easier to improve your test scores by recruiting better students than it is to make large gains in your existing population, our schools waste so much time and energy trying to get better students instead of focusing on educating the difficult ones. We’ve seen the dumbing down of state standards so that more kids can be classifieds as “meets” standards. Kids who are on the borderline of achieving standards will get tons of attention, while those who are way below or way above will coast along without attention since small improvements for them don’t count in NCLB chits.

    It is patently unrealistic to expect schools to make dramatic improvements overnight, so they look for easier ways to game the system. (I’ve seen a lot of news on standardized-test cheating lately). If teachers could be held accountable to more realistic expectations, then they might respond better to incentives and accountability.

    I’ve seen neighborhood programs counsel kids out of school, too. I would go to LSC meetings and hear about great test results and the efforts toward improvement that were successful… and then in private, the principal would concede “yeah, we got rid of a bunch of problem kids.”

    It’s easier for charters and other schools of choice to skim the best students, so that’s where the neighborhood schools feel the game is rigged. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that the game of shuffling kids around simply to affect test scores is not a game that should be played at all.

    Trash NCLB and align incentives/accountability with reality.

  • 30. anonymous  |  November 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    More analysis on charters to chew on.

    What Mathematica left unasked

    In a post on his School Finance 101 blog, Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker writes that he finds it “depressing” that the new Mathematica report on Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) sidesteps the question of resource allocation.

    A fundamental question, Baker writes, is what percent above or below traditional public schools and/or private schools is a given charter spending among schools in the same labor market?

    Without this, analyses of effectiveness are incomplete.

    — Does it cost more to carry out the practices of successful charter schools, such as running marginally smaller schools with smaller class sizes?

    — What kinds of wages are being paid to recruit and retain teachers who are working the extra hours and delivering the supposedly more successful models?

    — And how does the aggregate of these spending practices stack up against other types of schools in given local/regional economic contexts?

    “There’s a lot of mythology out there about education policy solutions — like “no-excuses” charter schools — that can do more with less,” Baker writes. “Most reports that pitch this angle simply never add up the money.” They also fail to analyze what it might cost to implement similar strategies at greater scale or in different contexts.

    Some CMO strategies may actually be the most cost-effective in the long run. Yet we’ll never know if we don’t take the time to look at the numbers. Mathematica doesn’t look.

    Read more: http://tinyurl.com/76u37xb

  • 31. parent of 4  |  November 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    #7 — We don’t know what schools were left out of cpso’s list, though, do we?

  • 32. cpsobsessed  |  November 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Full list, ugly format.
    As I stated above, SE, Military, and Stanine 5+.
    My conclusion is that lottery schools outperform neighborhood schools.

    *PAYTON HS 27.0 SE
    *YOUNG HS 26.6 SE
    *JONES HS 24.8 SE
    *LANE HS 23.5 SE
    *LINDBLOM HS 22.3 SE
    *LINCOLN PARK HS 21.6 IB selective
    *BROOKS HS 21.5 SE
    *KING HS 20.5 SE
    *VON STEUBEN HS 20.4 Stanine 5+
    *RICKOVER HS 18.7 Military
    *PHOENIX MILITARY HS 18.6 Military
    *PROSSER HS 17.9 Stanine 5+
    NOBLE ST CHTR-UIC 21.2 Charter
    DEVRY HS 20.7 Magnet
    NOBLE ST CHTR-NOBLE 20.6 Charter
    CHGO AGR HS 20.4 Magnet
    NOBLE ST CHTR-RAUNER 20.2 Charter
    NOBLE ST CHTR-COMER 20.1 Charter
    NOBLE ST CHTR-GOLDER 20.1 Charter
    KENWOOD HS 19.2 Neighborhood
    CICS-NORTHTOWN 19.0 Charter
    CHGO ACAD HS 18.4 Designated Small School
    TAFT HS 18.2 Neighborhood with AC for middle school (possible IB program?)

    Ok you conspiracy theorists, have at it….

  • 33. cpsobsessed  |  November 18, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    cps.edu says Kenwood is just a neighborhood school, so that’s lookin’ pretty good (relative to CPS neighborhood high schools.)

  • 34. cpsobsessed  |  November 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    I am skeptical (based on knowing nothing) about the magnets counseling kids out. I mean we saw Hawthorne’s numbers by race and clearly there are kids there who are not meeting state levels. Also, if kids are being counseled out like crazy, wouldn’t it be easier to get in at the upper grades?

  • 35. parent of 4  |  November 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    #24 — Interesting study on the importance of a good educational match between the school and the child, junior. (I paraphrase.)

    1.) The first surprising finding — There is little evidence that winning a lottery to a substantially better school benefits kids — in terms of standardized tests, credits, or attendance — compared to the kids who lost the lottery, and this holds across student subgroups.

    2.) The second surprising finding– Students who stand to gain the most in terms of peer quality by winning a lottery, in practice appear to realize the smallest benefits of school choice.

    3.) The third surprising finding — In fact, in many ways, these students appear to be hurt by winning a lottery, at least in terms of academic outcomes. They have substantially lower class ranks throughout high school as a result of attending schools with higher achieving peers. They are more likely to drop out.

  • 36. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Re: Debate over whether school environment or the child is the most important factor in school achievement .

    Studies cited in Tyre’s ‘The Good School’ seem to indicate that school quality–particularly teacher quality are the most important factors in success. Teachers and schools absolutely have a value-added effect on even the most motivated children and families. Academic achievement, test scores, etc aren’t always about a child’s motivation or socio-economic status. I think this speaks to that 92% of CPS being college ready issue.

    Tyre cites studies done by Stanford economist Eric Hanushek and statistician L. Sanders whose research showed, “good teachers matter more than just about anything else in education.”

    For example, Sanders found that an average math student who manages to get the most effective teacher 3 years in a row “was 50 percentile points above the average math student who only got the mediocre teacher.”

    They also found the inverse to be true: even top students assigned to an ineffective teacher did not keep pace with the students in a good teacher’s class. Sanders also showed that the damage a bad teacher did was also evident two years down the line. They found this measurable difference across all socio-economic groups, but poor kids had a larger measurable effect.

  • 37. mom2  |  November 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    “They also found the inverse to be true: even top students assigned to an ineffective teacher did not keep pace with the students in a good teacher’s class. ” – which is why there are many parents that consistently bring up needing to find a better, quicker method of getting rid of bad teachers and keeping the really good ones around. Critical for all our kids.

  • 38. Southside mom  |  November 18, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    My son was at a magnet school last year. His teacher sucked and his ISAT scores went down. Student achievement is directly tied to teacher quality. There’s sometimes a misconception that selective enrollment schools have the best teachers.

  • 39. cpsobsessed  |  November 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    For a good laugh, check out this post by Chicagoan Matt Farmer in the Huffington Post where he imagines Brizard being grilled by a lawyer friend of his….


  • 40. HSObsessed  |  November 18, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    I would love to see data on what percentage of kids at any given “neighborhood” high school actually live within the enrollment boundaries of the school. Lincoln Park HS is no longer considered a “neighborhood school” in these discussions because it’s widely known that it only draws 1/3 of its enrollment from its attendance area and 2/3 from outside via programs like IB, Double Honors/AP and performing arts. However, I don’t think that’s unique within the system; the other schools just don’t tout their statistics as much.

    Lake View HS, for example, has 7 feeder elementary schools, but they certainly aren’t producing 400 local in-boundary freshmen for LVHS. I’d guess that less than one third of LVHS’ freshman class is from within boundaries, possibly much less. (If the feeder schools of Nettelhorst, Greeley, Blaine, Bell, Audubon, Hamilton, Jahn and Burley each sent 20 8th graders who live within their school’s boundaries to LVHS, that would be 140 LVHS freshmen, or about 1/3 of the class. And we know they’re not already doing that.) The rest of the LVHS freshmen are admitted from outside boundaries via the special programs available at LVHS, and are selected based on grades, recommendations, etc. So what makes LVHS a neighborhood high school?

    And I’m sure that goes for many of the “neighborhood” high schools as well.

    Rahm Emanuel has done a fantastic job making reams of data available to the public via the new data portal on the city’s website. However, CPS is its own administrative entity, and the city data portal doesn’t provide schools data. CPS should do the same thing and make available to the public MUCH more than is currently available. That way we would have to guess less and have more productive conversations.

  • 41. junior  |  November 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm


    Maybe you can provide a citation?

    If an average student (say 50 percentile), gets an exceptional teacher three years in a row, then they will be 50 percentile points above the average kid with the mediocre teacher? I guess that means they will be 100 percentile? Outstanding! — can you check that stat?


    No doubt exceptionally great teachers can have an impact, as can exceptionally poor teachers. But we live in a world where, statistically speaking, teacher talent will follow a normal distribution and the exceptional teachers are, well, the exception. If we can exchange the exceptionally poor teachers for average teachers, then we’ve made progress.

    Or we can all move to Lake Wobegon, where all the teachers are above average.

  • 42. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 19, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I mentioned in the post the stats were from Tyre’s ‘The Good School’.

    I think its common sense really….Teachers do matter. They can help or hurt even the most motivated and gifted students. Teachers are not the only part of the equation, but they are one of the most (if not THE MOST) important aspects in achievement. We are not just talking about extremely bad and extremely good teachers so the data applies to teachers on all ranges of the spectrum.

    Studies have confirmed that teachers can either add value or be a detriment to students in several studies and through different variations. Another variation of this finding is when researchers compare the performance of American kids with children in other developed nations: teacher quality and instruction methods are cited as a very important part of this difference. You can do a google search and see this for yourself. Generally teachers in the U.S. come from the bottom 1/3 of their high school and college classes; In several Asian and some European they come anywhere from the top 20-30% of their classes.

    Citations for Tyre’s teacher data:

    Kati Haycock and Eric A. Hanushek, “An Effective Teacher in Every Classroom,” in Education Next 10 no. 3. See also http: http://educationnext.org/an-effective-teacher-in-every-classroom/#comments

    Williams L. Sanders & June C. Rivers, “Cumulative and Residual Effects of Teachers on Future Student Academic Achievement”; http://heartland.org/sites/all/modules/custom/heartland_migration/files/pdfs/3048.pdf

    W.L. Sanders, A.M. Saxton, and S.P. Horn, “The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS): A Quantitative Outcome Based Approach to Educational Assessment,” in Grading Teachers, Grading Schools, ed. J. Millman

    William L. Sanders and Sandra P. Horn, “Research Findings from the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System Database: Implications for Educational Evaluation and Research,” Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education

    Can’t find links to the last 2. You can try looking it up on Amazon preview or google books if you want to the data in secondary source format. But again, I think these studies just reiterate what’s common sense (at least to me).

  • 43. parent of 4  |  November 19, 2011 at 5:25 am


    This is an easy data base to use on school rankings.

    Noble street charter ranks #256 in the state based on PSAE.

    NS, WY, WP, Jones, New Trier, Lane, Deerfield, Hinsdale Central, Glenwood, Stevenson are top 10.

  • 44. parent of 4  |  November 19, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Looked through the first 600 Illinois schools on the school digger data base, pulling out the Chicago h.s. Their ranking is based on the PSAE, which includes the ACT, plus college readiness factors.

    After the top 17 CPS high schools, Noble St. charters perform better than the rest at 256.

    And many CPS high schools seem to perform in the same range — 425 to 604 — regardless of the type of school.

    NS — 1
    WY — 2
    WP — 3
    Jones — 4
    N Trier — 5

    Lane — 6
    Deerfield — 7
    Hinsdale Central — 8
    Glenwood — 9
    Stevenson — 10

    Lindbloom — 11
    Brooks — 20
    Devry — 64
    LPHS — 136
    King — 176

    Chg. High School for the Ag Sciences — 181 magnet
    Von Steuben — 196
    Noble St. — 256 — one score for all campuses l
    Phoenix Military 425
    Chgo Academy — 435

    Rickover –454
    UNO — 474 — one score for all campuses
    Prosser Career — 492
    Marine Military — 507
    Morgan Park — 518

    Lakeview — 521
    Wiliams Med Prep — 527
    Taft — 531
    Chg Math & Science Ele. Charter — 534
    Curie — 537

    Chgo Mil. Acad. h.s. — 545
    Kelly — 555
    Chgo. Intl Charter — 561 — one score for all campuses
    Young Women’s Leadership Charter — 567
    Uplift Community h.s. — 569

    Amundsen — 571
    Carver Mil. — 573
    Perspectives charter — 574
    Farragut — 577
    U of C charter — 579

    Juarez Community — 580
    Mather — 581
    Steinmetz — 582
    Hancock — 583
    Bronzevile — 584

    Kennedy — 584
    N. Lawndale Charter — 590
    Clemente — 593
    Senn — 593
    Ace Tech. Charter — 595

    Aspira Charter — 596
    Schurz — 597
    Roosevelt — 598
    Simeon — 600
    Clark Magnet — 602

    Urban Prep Charter — 604

  • 45. parent of 4  |  November 19, 2011 at 6:12 am

    P.S. IThe school digger list runs to 665 schools. Many at the end are Chicago schools.

  • 46. anonymous  |  November 19, 2011 at 6:17 am

    This list could show the importance of poverty on the achievement gap.

    It could also put in perspective the limited impact of an ‘excellent vs. an average’ teacher in comparison to the overwhelming impact of poverty, crime, and family stability on kids’ scores.

  • 47. anonymous  |  November 19, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Rahm wants to close 140 CPS schools, then run for Governor.

  • 48. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 19, 2011 at 8:54 am

    @46: But it does not put into perspective why only 8% of all CPS students are college ready.

  • 49. anonymous  |  November 19, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Well, I think increasing poverty and the high cost of college explain a good part of the reason why more kids don’t go to college.

    But can you refer me to an explanation of how CPS comes up with that 8% number?


  • 50. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 19, 2011 at 9:04 am

    You can look it up and find the stat on one of the previous posts on a topic on this site. Don’t remember which one, but it was a point of discussion among quite a few people.

  • 51. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 19, 2011 at 9:06 am

    And that stat doesn’t mean only 8% go to college, so cost etc has nothing to do with it. It means only 8% of CPS high school students could handle work in college….

  • 52. cps Mom  |  November 19, 2011 at 9:53 am

    @48 there was a tribune article siting a study that followed scores from high school to Illinois colleges. The article explained how scores fell dramatically from HS to college and that we were under-prepared.

    Parent of 4 – thanks for all that good info. I spent some time wandering through (hint to others – best to sort by city) but the important details are provided above. The bottom of the list was a very sad thing to see. I think that “anonymous” is right about the effect of poverty. Also kids taking a college prep exam that have no intentions of going to college. Wouldn’t it be beneficial for all schools to have a separate college prep track and test them separately?

    Interesting to see how all these lists (sun times/trib/school digger) come up with variable rankings. This one seems a bit more logically detailed.

  • 53. anonymous  |  November 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

    That stat means according to the study, it is presumed that only 8% could handle college work. While I tend to agree with that # based on what I’ve seen of Chicago students, unless a researcher actually follows a large sample base of students into and through college, I wonder how accurate that really is statistically.
    Can anyone speak to where neighborhood kids will attend if their school is closed down and how they will get to their new school? So, say school A is closed and turned into a charter. And the student who lives 2 blocks away from that formerly neighborhood school applies but does not gain admission. Does CPS then pay for transportation for that student to now attend neighborhood school B, which is 1.5 miles from student’s home? How does that work for families who cannot drive to a new neighborhood school which is not within walking distance? I am sure this is a large scale problem when a school is changed into a charter, but I am not sure how it is dealt with. Does anyone have experience with this particular issue?

  • 54. anonymous  |  November 19, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Ah never mind, I looked at the attached article and see someone did follow kids into college.

  • 55. Susan  |  November 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    @48 – here’s a link to a Tribune article discussing the college readiness study: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-11-11/news/ct-met-school-report-college-ready-20101111_1_college-readiness-act-scores-benchmarks

    The study measured college readiness of high school juniors – am I wrong in thinking that a significant percentage of students become ready for college during their senior year? Or because ACTs are always taken junior year does the study mean that based on the student’s score, he or she is not likely to be ready for college a year later?

  • 56. mom of 4  |  November 19, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I am sure that there are charter schools of varying degrees of quality out there. However, the ones that I have personally experienced are not places I would ever consider placing my students. Charter schools do counsel students out–often. It can be for grades, behavior, anything. These kids end up right back in their neighborhood schools that are required to serve them. Charter schools pick and choose those that they want to attend. Some may actually follow the lottery rules, but others bring you in for an interview, go over your grades, etc to determine if you are going to be a “good fit.” Charter schools are required by law to offer special education services, but what most of them offer is beyond pathetic. They will accept students with IEPs that they know they can’t service, then let them go a few months later when these kids can’t function without the services that are written into their IEPs. There are charter schools out there that are founded to serve underperforming, at-risk kids. But from what I have seen, these schools offer no special support for these kids. There are no social supports, no small groups to help them move from “at-risk” to not so much at risk, and they are required to take less classes than CPS schools require in order to graduate (20 high school credits as opposed to the 24 required in CPS). Text books? Nope. Nonexistent. Teachers? Not certified. Waiting to get hired by CPS or some other district. Students? The charter lists about twice as many kids on their books as are actually attending. Why would that be? Money. They get reimbursed for all of those registered to the school.

  • 57. parent of 4  |  November 20, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Even after charters game the system, they perform the same as their traditional public school counterparts.

    (Sources: reports on ISATs reported in June by Chicago News Coop and Catalyst, and the school digger data.)

    So why then, would CPS close traditional schools to open charters instead?

    Why would CPS assert that “bad” teachers are the sole problem, when data show that charters and magnets serving the same socioeconomic groups perform the same?

    Only 17 CPS high schools are in the top 200 in the state — and not one is a charter.

    So is it correct for CPS to suggest that all their other high schools –charter, magnet, traditional — are run by “bad” teachers and principals?

  • 58. parent of 4  |  November 20, 2011 at 9:00 am

    In case you are interested to know more about DeVry h.s., (which I had never heard of until the school digger data.)

    DeVry University Advantage Academy (DUAA)
    High School Programs and Workshops

    DeVry University, in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools, presents a dual enrollment high school, which provides qualified students with the opportunity to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate degree in Network Systems Administration or Web Graphic Design.

    This opportunity is open to qualified Chicago Public School students who complete their sophomore year by June of each respective year.

    To be eligible applicants must be:

    –Chicago Public School students who will have completed required 9th and 10th grade courses by the summer of their sophomore year
    –Students with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5/4.0
    –Students with a high attendance rate of at least 90%

  • 59. parent of 4  |  November 20, 2011 at 9:27 am

    From today’s NYTimes, Friedman op-ed

    “IN recent years, we’ve been treated to reams of op-ed articles about how we need better teachers in our public schools and, if only the teachers’ unions would go away, our kids would score like Singapore’s on the big international tests. ” …

  • 60. anonymous  |  November 20, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Did you read this part of Friednman’s op-ed??

    “Schleicher explained to me that “just asking your child how was their school day and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring. It is something every parent can do, no matter what their education level or social background.” ”

    Does anyone out there think that their kids will do better in physics or trig if you ask how their day was?

    Wouldn’t that be nice?

  • 61. Mayfair Dad  |  November 20, 2011 at 10:07 am

    It could’t hurt if some parents put the crack pipe down for five minutes and showed an interest in the mini humans they created during a moment of irresponsible lust, but having the same impact as hours of private tutoring?

  • 62. Anon.  |  November 20, 2011 at 10:15 am

    — About using the US’ lower ranking among PISA countries as proof of our schools’ decline.

    In most PISA countries, kids are tested at 14 and sorted into a vocational or a university track. The university-bound kids take the PISA test. In the US they all take PISA.

    So no surprise the US is not at the top of PISA. As a matter of fact, the US has never been at the top of these kinds of tests, going back to Sputnick days.

    Related rant: Anyone know why the US lacks high quality vocational schooling?

    The idea that all children are better off in college, any college, doesn’t make sense, given the cost, the debt load, and weak job outlook.

    Vocational schooling is where reform dollars should be spent. Not on closing regular schools to open charters.

  • 63. cpsobsessed  |  November 20, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I’m about ready to pick up a crack pipe after dealing with homework. I think anyone would agree that good parenting helps, but there is definitely a correlation/causation issue here. Sure, talking to your kids is correlated with good results, but no doubt those parents are also doing a bunch of other good stuff (talking about current events, going to museums, looking at homework etc.)

    This came up a couple years ago with Blago who wanted to start (maybe he did start?) an initiative to get 2 books into every household with a child since research shows that reading to kids produces better school results. I’d love to get the books in those homes, but honestly, reading those 2 books even a million times isn’t going to turn everything around (unfortunately.)

    It’s a good article, but c’mon – of course parents are the problem and teachers are not the key problem (granted, I feel the union helps keep less-good teachers on staff for WAY too long) but anyone studying education knows what the issues it. But how is Brizard or any CEO of an urban public school supposed to solve that? It’s like taking a job where you’re asked to solve over a century of social problems. If he or anyone else can figure out a real “solution” then I say pay them as much as the top tech CEOs. That would be priceless.

  • 64. cps Mom  |  November 20, 2011 at 10:17 am

    @56 – I don’t see one neighborhood school (without IB or magnet program) in the top 200 either. In fact they are mostly nestled at the bottom 660 along with certain charters.

    So, specifically, what charters are you describing above that interview and look at grades and what would be wrong with CPS offering such schools? Also, since you know nothing about Devry – it is a selective school that starts at grade 11 and feeds into the college. This means that a student would be transferring from another high school, would have an academic standing.and need to come in at grade level in order to do the program. Another school that is in demand for those pursing the tech field. The city offers a large variety of programs it’s called “choice”. Just because kids can’t make it into the selective enrollment school of their liking doesn’t mean that they should not have that “choice”.

    So, should Lincoln Park be condemned because they only accept qualified candidates for IB and honors programs instead of offering a random lottery. The school even lets certain kids into their “regular” program by invitation. In fact, I’m guessing that any neighborhood school would let certain kids in (eg Lakeview) by interview and academic record.

    What specifically is your source for “CPS to suggest that all their other high schools –charter, magnet, traditional — are run by “bad” teachers and principals”. Where has CPS said that all their charter, magnet and traditional schools are run by bad teachers and principals?

    Are you suggesting that we as parents should send our kids to the neighborhood school if we don’t get into selective, magnet or IB programs?

  • 65. CPSDepressed  |  November 20, 2011 at 10:37 am

    My impression is that CPS knows that there are a lot of problems, which is why they are trying a lot of different things – and that’s why it often comes across as disorganized and unfocused.

    Yes, bad teachers are part of the problem. Not the whole problem, but part. Bad principals are part of the problem. Not the whole problem, but part. The short school day and school year is part of the problem. Not the whole problem, but part. Lack of funding and commitment to special ed is part of the problem. And yes, parents who do drugs are part of the problem, too. But it’s not the whole problem.

    We need to deal with all the problems instead of holding our ground while pointing fingers at others.

    That’s all.

    I will send my kid to any school as long as I’m convinced it’s safe and will prepare him for college. But I want to see evidence. The SEHS, magnets, and some charters have evidence. My neighborhood high school does not, at least not right now. I’m not sure why that makes me a bad person to want what’s best for my kid.

  • 66. CPSDepressed  |  November 20, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Also, I highly doubt that Thomas Friedman and his heiress wife just sent their kids to whatever school was closest to them. I’m guessing pricey private school was involved. It’s easy to say that the parents matter more than the school, but yet, the people with the most money and most education don’t actually act that way, do they?

  • 67. anonymous  |  November 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    CPS comes across at disorganized and unfocused because it is. It took them 10 weeks to get my paychecks straight. I don’t have ANY leveled readers for my classroom and the computer program I am required to use doesn’t work most of the time.
    I do concede however that there are multiple problems in CPS as a whole and that teachers, parents, communities and more all contribute to those problems.
    But, wow, working for (and learning in) CPS is one problem after another. I spent 45 minutes the other day, time that would have been better spent planning instruction, looking all over the building for a computer I could work on. Every single day is like that. Nothing works on a regular basis and every day I don’t have all of what I need at the basic level to teach my students. CPS is a train wreck of an organization. Not that we don’t need to work on the other items, because we do. But sheesh, don’t give the system a break. They are not organized and never have been, and honestly, I do not believe for one second they ever will be.

  • 68. 1 more  |  November 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    “(granted, I feel the union helps keep less-good teachers on staff for WAY too long)”

    I would think it would be the principal who’d keep less-good teachers on staff. Principals have the tools needed to fire teachers. They just have to use them. But, then again, they have to be “good” principals.

  • 69. 1 more  |  November 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    “Related rant: Anyone know why the US lacks high quality vocational schooling?

    “The idea that all children are better off in college, any college, doesn’t make sense, given the cost, the debt load, and weak job outlook.

    “Vocational schooling is where reform dollars should be spent. Not on closing regular schools to open charters.”

    Amen to that! Even college grads will need some serious voc prep. A lot leave clueless about the workworld and careers.

  • 70. cpsobsessed  |  November 20, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    @67 1more: Hm, that is definitely a good point. As even Karen Lewis has said, the union doesn’t support keeping “bad” teachers and I agree that more principals need to take the time to DOCUMENT problems to make it happen.

    I do get the impression that it is incredibly time consuming to make it happen though. The principal at my local schools would tell the parents to records things to give her as documentation (I mean record on paper, not via video.) Unless a principal is watching in the classroom and is getting documented reports from multiple parents, it seems like it’s near impossible. But not Impossible.

    What I hate is that principals supposedly do things to make a teacher’s life miserable (ie a teacher doesn’t want to teach kindergarten, so the principal assigns them to kindergarten so that teacher will be unhappy and leave. Certainly not good for the kids in that class!)

    I guess compared to the private sector and the untenured teachers (are they part of the union?) it seems to be a very difficult practice. In most companies they can basically tell you that they don’t think you’re doing a good job and that’s that. Nobody needs pages and pages of documentation.

    I don’t know if this is a union problem or a government worker problem? Isn’t it the same if you work for the government? My ex-signif-other worked for the CDC where nobody gets fired and let’s just say the work ethic wasn’t the strongest in the world. It’s just human nature….

  • 71. anonymous  |  November 20, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    As of this upcoming fall (2012), tenure as we have always known it is gone. Vanished. Teachers can be fired very easily come next year according to the law. It will be interesting to see how many principals follow through with their power. Either way, no one will ever be able to blame the union again over “bad” teachers being in the classroom. Principals will have a ton of power.
    Teacher evaluations, starting next year, will also be based on student performance. 25% of the rating will be based directly on student growth.
    All these things make me appreciate my principal more than ever. She knows a good teacher when she sees one. She also has high standards for student performance and at the same time is realistic that growth doesn’t always mean miracles (though, sometimes it does).
    Right now, a principal can sometimes get rid of a teacher, but you are right cpsobsessed, the documentation process is grueling and even then the teacher can employ any number of methods to draw the process out for years and years. Most principals will pass a teacher on (or try to get them to leave through making their life miserable which is effective most of the time) instead. It is easier.

    Btw, untenured teachers are union members.

  • 72. Mayfair Dad  |  November 21, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Biggest bang for the buck:

    1. Early childhood/preK for all CPS students
    2. Better principals (recruit, train, evaluate, retain)
    3. Smaller class size
    4. Recess
    5. Longer day which incorporates music, art, PE, language, technology lab, block scheduling

  • 73. anonymous  |  November 21, 2011 at 9:44 am

    “… anyone studying education knows what the issues it. But how is Brizard or any CEO of an urban public school supposed to solve that? It’s like taking a job where you’re asked to solve over a century of social problems.”

    I think you said it well.

    And it may be unfair to ask it of Brizard, but it is also being asked of teachers all the time.

  • 74. anonymous  |  November 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

    By Alexander Russo, Sunday at 11:18 pm

    So CPS is awarding $75,000 to each of 36 charters — 10 UNOs, 3 ASPIRA schools, 5 Perspectives schools, 4 CICS schools, 3 Prologue schools, 3 Shabazz schools, Providence Englewood elementary school, ACE high school, Legacy elementary school, EPIC, ChiTech Academy high school, Youth Connection Charter Schools, and Erie elementary school (is that 36?) — for extending their day starting January.

    But there’s no report card information on Chicago’s charter schools in the new data rolled out with great fanfare last week (or so I’m told).

    So I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, and I don’t really want to rekindle the whole debate (and don’t really mind charters the way some of you do), but it just sort of looks bad.

  • 75. Sped Mom  |  November 21, 2011 at 10:20 am

    @ 71 Mayfair Dad

    Biggest bang for the buck list addendum:

    – finding, evaluating & delivering effective special education to students with disabilities.

    … Either pay now, or pay MUCH MORE later.

  • 76. anonymous  |  November 21, 2011 at 10:54 am

    71 & 74 — That’s the list for Brizard!

    P.S>. You win the award this morning for pithy. ; )

  • 77. anonymous  |  November 21, 2011 at 11:54 am

    69 “In most companies they can basically tell you that they don’t think you’re doing a good job and that’s that. Nobody needs pages and pages of documentation.”

    Does it sound reasonable that because young children are involved, and because their happiness and success depend to a great degree upon kindness, order, stability and routine, school districts must be more careful than most private companies about about hiring and firing in a rash manner?

  • 78. anonymous  |  November 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    #73 — Rodestvan said 22 minutes ago

    I have to say that I am confused by Alexander’s statement: “But there’s no report card information on Chicago’s charter schools in the new data rolled out with great fanfare last week (or so I’m told). So I’m not sure how I feel about that.” I am guessing Alexander is discussing the CPS issued new school progress reports. The reason charters are not included in reporting publicly NWEA/Scantron scores are totally unclear. The state charter school law requires that ISAT and PSAE be administered and reported by all charter schools in Illinois. The law does not require that each campus of each authorized charter school report their data separately.

    However, 105 ILCS 5/Art. 27A-6 (b) does state in relation to CPS controlled charter schools only that it “shall require the charter school to administer any other nationally recognized standardized tests to its students that the chartering entity administers to other students, and the results on such tests shall be included in the chartering entity’s assessment reports.” Based on this provision of the Charter School Act, it would appear that CPS could be violating the Act by not requiring NWEA/Scantron scores to be administered and publicly reported. I would assume that any parent of a child attending one of these charter schools might have the right to file an administrative complaint to ISBE on this issue.

    Rod Estvan

  • 79. anonymous  |  November 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm


    About closing South Loop gifted regional center.

  • 80. Mayfair Dad  |  November 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    @ 76: It has more to do with the unholy alliance between unionized civil service jobs and Democratic-with a capital D-politics. I won’t go into a history lesson here but you can partially blame the mess on JFK who facilitated the unionization of federal, state and city civil service jobs, thus baptising legions of loyal Democratics who continue to vote for candidates “owned” by the public employee unions. Witness the spineless nimrods in Springfield who will end this legislative session without taking action on the out-of-control public employee pension mess.

    Any Democrat who has the temerity to demand McCormick Place work rule changes, more efficient garbage collection or a longer school day is deemed anti-union and branded a traitor to the working man. Thankfully Rahmbo has a billionaire Hollywood agent for a brother and does not have to rely on union money to campaign.

  • 81. JD  |  November 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    DeVry HS is not a magnet school

  • 82. cpsobsessed  |  November 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    @76, I’m not suggesting a principal walk into a classroom and scream “you’re fired!” although I have seen a teacher where I have fantasized about this exact situation.
    I’ve never heard of anyone getting fired like that, private or (def not) public.

    But if contracts are renewed yearly, that certainly isn’t rash. My son’s kindergarten teacher (he’s now in 3rd grade) may as well not exist in the universe for him. She was his life for 9 months, then she was out of it. I don’t see how it could disrupt kids by not bringing a teacher back after the summer.

    One could also argue that if children’s well being is so essential, that the hiring/firing bar criteria should be more stringent than private jobs instead of at what seems to be the lowest bar, sort of just above that of the post office.
    (Not saying teachers are lacking at all, just that the ability to remove them are, as we’ve discussed.)

    What I would REALLY like to see is CPS helping/mentoring teachers more. The teacher I described had horrendous and mean classroom management skills. She may have been a fabulous educator, I don’t know, but it seems like some coaching and mentoring certainly could have helped her.

  • 83. cpsobsessed  |  November 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    @79 MFD, thanks for the brief lesson. History and politics are not my strong suit, so that is really interesting to me.

    So all public workers are unionized?

    I used to do trade shows at McCormick place. Don’t EVEN get me started…

  • 84. CPS principal sending her kids to a north shore school  |  November 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Why doesn’t a principal of a “very good” elementary school – Sauganash – send her own elementary aged kids to her own school?

    I see in today’s Tribune that she lives in Lake Forest and sends her 10 and 11 year old children to Lake Forest schools.


    Here is a quote from the article:

    Chris Munns, also a resident who is a principal in Chicago Public Schools, said she was disgusted when she came home from work to learn her 10 and 11-year-old children talking about the principal.

    “My children knew exactly what had happened to their principal. No adult had spoken to my children,” Munns said. “No social worker had talked to them… they are talking about it in the hallways. They are talking about it in the classrooms. “Shame on you, Harry Griffith. You had a chance to handle this two years ago and you didn’t.”

  • 85. eric  |  November 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Our schools won’t improve if we only value what tests measure.

    If you wanted to get the real picture about the success of CPS schools you wouldn’t have looked only at ACT scores. National and State data shows correlation between ACT scores and parent income. So much so that 850 colleges and Uni’s (like DePaul) aren’t requiring them anymore.

    These lists basically show where the kids whose parents have higher income (access to info, time to research, more education, better networks, etc.) go.

  • 86. cpsobsessed  |  November 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    @84: Please share. How does one get the real picture about the success (or lack of) of CPS schools? Also, ideally in less than 10 minutes.

  • 87. CPS principal sending her kids to a north shore school  |  November 21, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    @85 — possibly by the indicator that principals and teachers of even our “best” schools won’t send his/her own kids there!


  • 88. junior  |  November 21, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    @76 said

    “Does it sound reasonable that because young children are involved, and because their happiness and success depend to a great degree upon kindness, order, stability and routine, school districts must be more careful than most private companies about about hiring and firing in a rash manner?”

    Yeah, I think that was the philosophy at Penn State.

  • 89. cpsobsessed  |  November 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I just had a funny thought based on a conversation I had with someone. Can someone who has a good sense of humor write a little piece called “If Santa’s Elves Unionized” ?

    I sense some good, relevant comedic material. Mayfair Dad? Give it a go?

  • 90. anonymous  |  November 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm


    Maybe the kids live in Lake Forest and want to go to school with their friends?

  • 91. CPS principal sending her kids to a north shore school  |  November 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    @89, good point. But isn’t it like the CEO of Pepsi giving only Coke to her kids?

  • 92. anonymous  |  November 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    84 — Income correlates to ACT scores, and the poorest kids’ scores are likely to be low.

    So it comes back to poverty, once again, and not “bad” teachers, as being the primary influence.

  • 93. Mayfair Dad  |  November 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Part historic fact, part folklore, part the world according to Mayfair Dad:

    The storyline: JFK championed legislation that essentially granted state and city public employees the same rights to organize as federal public employees, leading to a massive conflict of interest. With one signature, JFK created a situation where organized public employee unions direct campaign contributions to candidates (Democrats) who support labor practices favorable to unions. Remember these are the same polititians tasked with eliminating wasteful goverment spending. It is worth noting that less than 10% of US workers belong to a union, but of that 10%, nearly all (90%) of them are public service employees — people whose paycheck comes from our tax dollars.

    Back in the good old days (pre the Great Recession) civl service employment was considered having a job for life. The generous wages and hefty pensions were viewed as a social covenant between government and the governed, creating a robust middle class who bought new homes, purchased cars and appliances, took vacations, sent their children to college and retired with dignity.

    Now that we sad sacks who live in the public sector world are feeling the bite of this nasty economy, we are looking askance at the so-called covenant.

  • 94. anonymous  |  November 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Another covenant — we pay property taxes to support our schools, parks and libraries.

    Some are “looking askance” at TIF money not going to schools, parks and libraries.

  • 95. eric  |  November 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    @92 Poverty indeed but also race and cultural. Looking at race demographics, the amount of white students in CPS has been decreasing for some time now and is roughly at 9% (white pop. in Chicago is 45%). This has a huge effect on the system overall. It’s like white flight in the 70s.

    Schools who post the highest avg. ACT scores, like N.side, Payton, Jones, and Young, regularly have high white enrollment (at or over 30%). Schools deemed the worst have 90+% Black enrollment, which points to cultural problems in the testing and the curriculum.

  • 96. anonymous  |  November 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I am a reluctant union member and I don’t think unions as organizations should be allowed to contribute to any political party. Would that help the situation at all?

  • 97. liza  |  November 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    @83 Since the principal lives outside city limits, her children are not considered eligible to attend a Chicago Public School. She would be asked to pay a large fee for “out of district” tuition. It used to be common for teachers/principals to bring their children to the CPS school they worked at, but that has changed. So, that might be the reason her children attend school in the school district that she lives in rather than a Chicago school.

  • 98. Mayfair Dad  |  November 22, 2011 at 9:33 am

    @ 96: Campaign finance reform is long overdue. We need to get the special interest money out of politics.

  • 99. parent of 4  |  November 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Web sie — Use your teacher voice


  • 100. anon  |  November 22, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Did you hear that a group of parents are looking to improve Amundsen and make money at it at the same time?

  • 101. cpsobsessed  |  November 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Wow, I wanna get in on that!
    Any details?
    What’s the business model?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 102. another momma  |  November 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Saw this at Distrcit299 blog and thought it was interesting:


    Rodestvan said 6 hours, 16 minutes ago:

    Drmarkthompson makes an interesting point that is true to a degree. That point is remediation even with the best possible interventions for low income children require the active engagement of low income children’s families. Basically, the argument is that schools cannot make up the academic gap between rich and poor on average alone. The reason I say, on average, is because there is largely a normal distribution of skills among poor students. A certain percentage of low-income students who are simply brilliant and for whom even an only school based remediation can be effective does exist. Unless one accepts eugenics the percentage of such innately brilliant students among the poor is likely to approximate on average higher income students.

    The exception to this basic idea is of course students with disabilities because there are greater numbers of these students in poorer communities because of the social realities of our competitive society trap some individuals with both cognitive processing disabilities and learning disorders at the bottom. Some of these disabling conditions are inheritable to a degree, for example 20-30% of ADHD students have one or more parents with the condition. But even among this subgroup there are brilliant students and with strong supports many poor disabled students who are not brilliant can achieve. Clearly these supports do not exist in Chicago and the fact that only 5.5% of all 11th graders with IEPs are reading at state standards is testimony to that fact.

    Nevertheless, many urban schools are not effectively carrying out remedial education for even the very bright amongst the very poor that have weak family structures. To presume that students who are poor and who have weak family structures cannot catch up is clearly dangerous because it clearly ignores the innately brilliant amongst poor students.

    I agree with drmarkthompson that it is mathematically not possible for the bulk of poor students who are academically behind and have weak family structures to catch up with school based interventions alone. These students generally require wrap around supports that our society only provides on experimental basis to very few students in the nation as a whole. This is why so many charter schools make it so clear to parents through parent contracts their obligations to academically work with their children after school and support the school itself.

    What we are doing is regrouping those among the poor that can be more easily supported into charter schools, magnet programs, gifted programs, etc. We are driving the rest into what is left of traditional schools and massively declaring these schools failures. But even though that is the case I do not think teachers should not believe there are no exceptions to the rule that without support from at home children cannot succeed.

    Rod Estvan (see link to his comment above)

  • 103. Lenart/Poe Mom  |  November 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Here’s an interesting blog post on charters (the blog itself is a great read about education) “The Problem With Charters” http://bit.ly/sbYVhA You may also want to check out the link within this to the item by Mike Klonsky (a Chicago professor of education).

    @cpsobsessed — you said in #82 “What I would REALLY like to see is CPS helping/mentoring teachers more.”

    My husband has taught in both neighborhood schools and a charter school. We believe that the education and preparation of teachers needs to be changed significantly and should resemble the education and preparation of physicians. Who would go to a physician immediately out of med school who hadn’t gone through internship & residency? Throwing a new teacher into a school — particularly into schools with the biggest obstacles to overcome — without a careful and extended mentoring/training program, is setting up the teacher, the students and the school for failure.

    And in an ideal world, the teacher-to-student ratios would be half what we see in CPS (and most places these days) and there would be twice as many support staff, teacher coaches, etc. because the work of educating productive citizens is difficult, extensive and important.

  • 104. Eric  |  November 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    @cpsobsessed re: school success

    Finding true school success is a major issue for statisticians, policy wonks, sociologists of education, etc. because it is difficult to get a real apples-to-apples comparison. The dominant research shows, that when controlling for socioeconomic status, private, public, and charters all do about the same as far as achievement is concerned.

    Everything else is ideology (Kirk, Rahm, Brizard, Jarovsky, Duncan etc.). Jarovsky’s beef seems to be with the concerted bi-partisan effort to privatize schools and bust unions.

    Since we have kids coming into the system at different levels it is hard to gauge who is learning/teaching more. Some kids come into school with more because they are already familiar with the curriculum (i.e. middle/upper class/white standards).

    So when we hear about the schools in the burbs being better, it’s because they are familiar with the standards which are set by people just like them, and there are less issues from poverty.

    For some of our kids the differences in cultural norms is so great we may as well be teaching them Parseltongue. Like eye contact is a big one. In the job/school world it means you’re dedicated, honest, and serious, but on the street it could get you killed.

    Some of the best teachers, I’ve observed were at schools on academic probation. Some are getting results out of kids who come in illiterate or without reading in the home (or food even!). So if we go by test scores alone these schools are deemed bad, but in reality some of these teachers are working miracles.

  • 105. cpsmama  |  November 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    @104 Eric- you make some excellent points. I concur that a teacher who teaches inner city illiterate students with no books or food in the household to read or do math problems is working a miracle & should not be compared to teachers who teach middle class students with stable lives at home and with supportive families. As you said, it’s like comparing apples & oranges.

    At least the new incentive program for CSP principals seems to be making an effort to compare “growth” (value added) as compared to similar schools.

  • 106. Mom  |  November 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Do not at all disagree with 104’s premise. However, the examples??! — what school exactly is teaching eye contact? Kids in the burbs may come in knowing “more,” and perhaps you, 104, don’t view that knowledge as legitimately worth knowing, but there has to be SOME baseline of knowledge that is worth knowing. Maybe it’s not “eye contact.” But maybe it is “abc’s” or “123s” or the equivalent. Can’t imagine there is not something culturally relevant to everyone that is worth learning!

  • 107. Eric  |  November 24, 2011 at 1:32 am

    @106 Mom

    All schools teach that making eye contact during presentations is a way to engage your audience, and they teach this because it’s a good strategy in job interviews. If you want specifics, the 2 CPS schools I went to did (Ogden Elementary and Lincoln Park HS) and the summer school I went to (Gordon Tech) did as well.

    Some knowledge is deemed legitimate by the powers that be, and this (and only this) knowledge is found on standardized tests, which gets you into college, and translates to employment…for some.

    But as we know from the wage gap between men and women and gender/race/class/ bias in standardized tests, we live in an unequal society. The schools are a reflection of that.

    You are correct, there should be a baseline of many things that everyone should learn. This city and country are so diverse that what is included in that baseline should reflect all of us not just the chosen few.

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