Check out the Chicago Schools Wonks newsletter!

February 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm 107 comments

Check out my Dad's blog: Chicago Schools Wonks!

I’ve been meaning to write about Seth Lavin’s awesome weekly newsletter for some time now but life and CPS events have been getting in the way.

If you’ve ever wished that a news-reading fairy would compile all the CPS news stories of the week into one spot and make some intelligent comments about them, this is it.  Seth is an ex-teacher with a wife who teaches (experience in charters and public.)  He has a 1 year old son and should be pretty well-versed on the system by the time that boy starts kindergarten.

I’m copying Seth’s most recent newsletter here that talks about the turnarounds, which is something we haven’t discussed much and might be interesting.  As CPS expected, families in the turnaround areas are not generally happy about the news.  I looked at data on the AUSL site and it seems pretty clear that they are driving some good success at the elementary level.  At high school, virtually nothing.

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Hi everyone,

Happy Friday! Happy snow!
Today is Moses’ 1st birthday. I liked spending a chunk of my birthday last week writing to you (this really is fun for me) but today I just want to be playing with the Mo. That means you get a little less Wonks. Relieved?

BIG TIME AUSL TIME
AUSL. You know it. We’ve talked about it. Obama likes it. Duncan likes it. Rahm likes it. In fact Rahm once said: “It is no secret that I am a zealot about AUSL.”

One former AUSL leader is Rahm’s Board of Ed chair. Another is now CPS’ chief administrative officer. CPS proposed 10 new turnarounds this year including 6 for AUSL. The Board votes to finalize those turnarounds on February 22.

As I‘ve said here before, I have a generally positive view of AUSL. Their teacher prep model includes a mentorship year and a 5-year classroom commitment, which is awesome. People I respect say AUSL turnarounds are mostly very positive places.

I’ve also said that AUSL’s growth means we all need to fire up more scrutiny. Not “see they’re actually a bunch of criminals” scrutiny but scrutiny that helps us have realistic perspective on their success, potential and need for improvement as the organization matures.  A few months ago I laid out the questions I have about the AUSL model. You can read that here: “Things we need to know about AUSL.”
This week we passed a scrutiny tipping point. I can’t tell if that’s good or not.

The U of C REPORT FINALLY ARRIVES

For months we’ve being hearing about a U of C report that’s going to show AUSL’s turnarounds work. Brizard and Rahm have both alluded to this report in making their case for new turnarounds, though the report’s never before been publicly available.
Brizard told a citywide tele-townhall audience that the report will show AUSL turnarounds work well.
The Sun-Times wrote an editorial endorsing turnarounds and alluding to the report, saying it’ll show AUSL schools made “’significantly greater’ gains in reading and math than did comparable schools.”
Others and I said the information imbalance here made us uneasy. CPS, which proposed the turnarounds, and the Board, which approves them, seemed to have seen the report or at least internalized its findings. The public—which is supposed to be at this moment discussing the turnaround proposals—couldn’t have it.
Well now we can. Here’s the report.
Apparently it was rushed to publication “because of “rumors” circulating about its findings.” This isn’t even the final version. There’s also something weird going on with a federal agency that was originally co-working on the report and now won’t sign onto it.
So is the headline “AUSL schools perform significantly greater than comparable schools”? No. Here are the headlines:
Turnaround study shows only small gains” –Catalyst
Study: CPS has some success turning around grammar schools, not high schools” –Sun-Times
Progress seen at city ‘turnaround’ schools” –Chicago Tribune
School Reform Efforts Show Mixed Results” –Chicago News Cooperative
Study: Drastic school reforms produce some positive results” -WBEZ

As you can see it’s really hard to draw a conclusive punchline. For one thing the study examines 5 school change models, only one of which is AUSL turnarounds. In reporting their findings they don’t break out how they feel about AUSL’s performance vs. any of the other very-different transformation models.

Some of the findings:
-Turnarounds seem to retain most of their students, or at least a demographically similar student population to their original one.
-Schools that were closed and replaced by charters retained a smaller portion of their original student population and tended to have a demographically more advantaged population after reopening.
-“New staff at schools where drastic reform took place tends to be younger, more white, and less experienced.”
-The only high school turnarounds examined turned around too recently to have test data available. On the metrics for which data is available—attendance rates and freshman-on-track rates—turned around high schools did not tend to improve.

Politically speaking this is a bungled communication job by Rahm and CPS. Had they not overpromised alignment of this report and their agenda it wouldn’t have been met with such cynicism. They set us up to feel misled, which hurts trust and makes everyone want to play “gotcha” with the findings.
In a bigger way I think we’ve seen a school reform organization and model, AUSL and turnarounds, get caught up in a much larger political battle. It doesn’t seem like anyone’s really engaging in a measured conversation here about how AUSL’s working or how it can be made to work better. One side is saying AUSL is magic. The other is saying AUSL’s not only not magic but an politically-tied cabal trying to divert money from neighborhood schools and into the pockets of connected executives and young, inexperienced, white teachers. That’s not a conversation that helps anyone help kids. How can we do better? Or am I contributing to this problem giving Rahm and CTU too much attention when AUSL and U of C are the voices I should be amplifying?

MORE AUSL DOUBTS

Both Catalyst and the Trib ran big-time AUSL scrutiny pieces in the days before the U of C report came out. There are some balancing bits in both from AUSL proponents but each article is mostly what you’d call in campaign coverage an “opposition research dump.”
Sarah Karp, Catalyst: “At AUSL, progress but ‘this is not magic
Noreen Ahmed-Ullan and Joel Hood, Tribune: “School reform organization gets average grades
Click through to read everything people whisper might be wrong with AUSL. Do test scores continue improving after the first years or do they flat-line? Do test scores ever really grow enough to celebrate? Is AUSL juking the scores by just moving the bubble-kids above a threshold? Is AUSL using a strict discipline code to coach out the kids dragging down climate and test scores? Is AUSL too expensive? Is AUSL scalable? Is there something disturbing about AUSL’s political support? Is there something disturbing about AUSL executives’ salaries? Are AUSL buildings underutilized?

Ahmed-Ullah also files a story from Phillips, an AUSL turnaround high school, which at least acknowledges the sweat-the-small-stuff discipline model changed the overall climate. Is this supposed to be here to balance the other stories?

OTHER CHICAGO SCHOOLS NEWS

LSC members are suing CPS in hopes that the courts will stop plans to close/turnaround schools. They say they’re supposed to get formal action pans from CPS before any of these actions and that they didn’t.
(Anybody with “adults,” “status quo” “failing our children” and “cannot afford to wait another day” on your CPS official response BINGO cards just got BING.)
Sounds like this “dueling press conference” thing between a pastors-for-school-reform presentation and the suing LSC members was a hot mess. ‘Tempers flare, insults fly over Chicago public school closings.”
Catalyst has a new print issue out now on bi-lingual education. Here’s the lead story, from Rebecca Harris: “Caught between two languages” and a link to the whole package.
The Sun-Times has an internal Rahm poll showing his approval ratings are still very high (70%). 63% approve of his handling of education. To me that 63% figure isn’t inconsistent with what I’ve said about popular support pivoting against the Mayor on school reform, particularly if it’s moving downward or if the 37% disapproving are disproportionately the teachers, attentive parents and neighborhood activists whose views can be the leading indicator on school policy. Or I could just be wrong. Who knows?
JOB: Education Pioneers is hiring a Program Manager for their Chicago site: http://bit.ly/xaJvZS. Email whitney.metzger@educationpioneers.org with questions. That’s all!

Person of the week is obviously Moses, pictured here doing the Flying Mo with dad and aunt Celeste and here bundled up for winter like you should be today.

Thanks everyone.

As always use this link to invite anyone else to receive Wonks:

http://bit.ly/uvk1dy

Seth

*****ABOUT THIS******

This is an experiment. My hope is to build a weekly tip sheet that keeps track of developments in the Chicago schools world. I’m not claiming to be especially qualified to do this; it’s just that I’ve wanted it to exist for a long time and it keeps not existing. Guiding beliefs are 1) Chicago children deserve the world’s best education and 2) currently they’re not getting it. Other than that there’s no orthodoxy. You’re getting this because I thought you might want it. If you don’t, write me and I’ll unsubscribe. If you’re reading this because someone sent it to you and you want it, write me your name and email address. If I’m getting something wrong (or right) or you want me to think about something, email me.

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Tracking the Tiers…New Tiers Posted The “Do It Yourself” Post

107 Comments Add your own

  • 1. foureyes  |  February 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Thank you for publishing this link. The public really needs to know more about this! We NEED to be debating it. Especially since the future of CPS…is that Rahm wants to ram charter schools down our throats and wants to eventually privatize the whole system (ala Daley and the street parking meters).
    The one thing that is often left out on the charter school discussion is that – charter schools can kick out students that don’t fit/don’t perform. Some charter schools edit their list to leave off/leave out ‘under’performing kids…so that their numbers look better.
    It is very important to compare this to the typical neighborhood school..which – as a public school – MUST legally take every child in the neighborhood. Unless there is an expulsion hearing (which is a pretty complicated procedure) that student is in that school. As I understand it, such is not the case in the charter schools.

  • 2. anonymous  |  February 13, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Called culling, it is a well known strategy which charters use to eliminate students who don’t have the test scores.

    Usually culling takes place right about now, before the ISATs but far enough into the school year that the per-pupil dollars stay with the charter and don’t go back to CPS.

    Even with culling, Chicago charters don’t perform as well as the CPS average, with the exception of Noble Street charters.

  • 3. Mia  |  February 13, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Exactly! Yet Rahm keeps pushing them as the “fix” for Chicago’s schools. And is this the union’s fault too? Charter school teachers are not only not a part of the CTU, they aren’t union employees at all, so how are all of the problems at CPS placed on the Union Teachers?

  • 4. RL Julia  |  February 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Charter schools are being used as a union busting move. The same way the whole longer school day stuff is being used as a union busting move. I think they are trying to co-opt parents to fight these fights by working with the perception that charters are somehow better.

  • 5. edb  |  February 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I’m SO tired of all the pro/anti union talk. It’s almost enough to make me walk away from this forum. Everything is not about the union. Sometimes it’s about the students. If CTU came across as more reasonable, I’m sure they’d have more supporters than they do now.

  • 6. Coonleymom  |  February 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    5-I could not agree more. I have a child at a Charter, and a child at a CPS school and guess what…I like them both! Just because I like my Charter school does not mean I am anti-union, I am pro schools that put my children as their priority. Both of these schools do that, and we feel very lucky. For anyone to put all Charters into one general category or all neighborhood schools into one category (especially if you do not even have a child at one of the schools) is very close minded and I do not know how this helps parents that are trying to find solutions for their children. I want to hear about first hand experience and knowledge. I am very grateful for those comments, they are truly helpful and educational.

  • 7. Mia  |  February 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    edb – you are tired of the pro/anti union talk but then you proceed to characterize them as unreasonable (a seemingly anti-union remark). The reality is that a blog about CPS will invariably have comments related to the union, especially because the current climate, nationally, not just locally, is about demonizing unions as the cause of all problems in education today. Reasonable people can disagree, and forums like this one are, I think, a healthy place to have that dialogue. And I certainly think there are many posts that are not about unions at all.

  • 8. Chris  |  February 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    ” because the current climate, nationally, not just locally, is about demonizing unions as the cause of all problems in education today”

    And that would be a pro-union remark.

    All I read from *both* sides of the “union issue” puts the students *as a whole* (not that our precious Jacobs, Madisons and Emmas are not part of that whole) at a tertiary level of importance. It’s all about the fricking adults, whether the teachers are being overpaid, or mistreated; what the future of teaching as a profession is; who may or may not get rich thru “EOMs”; complaining about the propoganda and data manipulation by the other side, etc. etc.

    No one really seems to want to talk about (not that this forum exists for this purpose, but neither does it exist for pro- and anti-union propoganda and bickering) what’s going to be better for “that kid” who lives on the other side of town and is totally average for CPS, ie, is poor, has questionable levels of parental support, etc, etc, and is–since no one seems to notice–the *majority* of the kids served by CPS.

  • 9. edb  |  February 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Mia – you’re right, I do characterize CTU as unreasonable. Here’s the thing, I WANT to support teachers. I believe they have valid points. Unfortunately, I think a few zealots post views that are so biased and unbending that I can’t see past them to hear the valid thoughts of what I expect are the majority. I really, really want to understand, but at present, I can’t.

  • 10. Noble "Culling"  |  February 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Here is how Noble gets its great test scores…here’s culling at its best:
    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/02/13/students-parents-protest-noble-network-school-discipline-policy/

  • 11. mom2  |  February 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    It does seem like something changed on this forum in the last 6 months or so. It used to be filled with mostly parents trying to learn about and discuss things related to cps from a parent perspective. Some parents worrying that there wasn’t a place in CPS for their extremely bright child. Others worrying that there wasn’t a place in CPS for their average, sometimes struggling in math or reading, but always does their homework and plans to go to college child. Some unhappy about one particular teacher, but loving nearly all of them. Pro teacher, you might say. Some thrilled with their school but unhappy with one CPS policy, etc.

    Then, I think the 299 blog became difficult to use and this site became more popular. The next thing you know, there are all these “anonymous” posts mentioning Rahm vs. the union. Commenting on various places, polices and other things related to CPS with various abbreviations that I don’t even understand. Not things most parents would know about, although always willing to learn.

    I know the longer school day, the current CTU leader’s comments and the climate in places like Wisconsin are fueling this, but I agree that I am finding this forum feels different now.

  • 12. Mia  |  February 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Chris- yes, my remark is pro-union, I never said that I had a problem wtih people posting those sentiments (pro or anti) so i’m not sure I get your point. And I don’t know why you choose to characterize this as an either/or scenario regading putting the kids first, as i belive the vilification of union teachers is most definitely harming our schools and thus our children. Now, you many choose to disagree with me, and that’s fine, but i don’t think it’s unhealthy to dicuss it. And edb – as is often the case, there are passionate emotions on both side, but please don’t let that stop you from learning more about what CPS is doing with this push for charters. In my opinion, there’s a lot of reason to be very concerned about this movement. I am not trying to sway you one way or the other, I just encourage you to read as much as you can about the subject – there’s lots of national dialogue on this from education groups and think tanks, with arguments on both side, and form your opinion based on these facts, not on what our local politicians are telling us.

  • 13. edb  |  February 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I’ll leave it at this. I miss what this board used to be. A good place for parents to get info about schools, gifted testing, special needs options, etc. I don’t come here to read about union things (either pro or con). I stand by my position that the apparently pro-union postings do nothing to support their cause and have actually led my support away from unions. It seems like the kids get lost in the fight. I’ll be back to read all the lottery/SEES news in March, but until then, I’ll find something else to do. This site just makes me sad now.

  • 14. Another Mom  |  February 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    When I started with CPS, I was a kid in school. Then, I had a kid and the kid went to CPS. When the kid had problems, then I learned a lot more about CPS and how it operates. My old interest in education issues in general became personal. So, now I still pay attention to both the intimate issues of my kid and CPS, along with the ‘hood, city, state and national general issues of public education. I think that qualifies as “obsessed.” No need to exclude certain CPS-related topics.

  • 15. mom2  |  February 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I agree that we don’t have to exclude topics, but that doesn’t mean that every topic needs to be infused with pro and anti union comments, accusations and talking points. It really didn’t used to be this way and it was a bit more friendly. Parents want what is best for their children (with some information about how what is best for their children may not be best for others) and this was a place to find out about those things.
    The recent comments have certainly made me see the huge conflict we have between the union and CPS, and the lack of willingness to see the other side in just about anything. Gives me less hope for our kids future.

  • 16. HS Mom  |  February 13, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Mia – I get the whole “arrogance and arrogant” thing and it certainly sounds like your daughter is a gem – totally something to be proud of. Consider this, my neighbor who goes to CICS charter, much like your daughter, has the A’s and high test scores (not 99 but 90’s). He is looking to get into 4 schools – Northside, Jones, Lane and Westinghouse – and, like your daughter, is waiting feeling pretty good about SEHS possibilities. His mom would never feel comfortable joining this discussion. Furthermore, there are folks on this site who have their kids at and like charters (@6). Your comments here and under longer day come across as very negative toward charters, while your personal experience is with the creme of CPS schools. Why would families feel welcome to become part of a CPS discussion group when they are treated like the redheaded step child of CPS? Are they not part of CPS too?

  • 17. Newbie  |  February 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    @10 I was just about to post the Noble discipline fees article and you beat me to it! I was really saddened becasue they seemed to be a charter that was making a difference. I really want to see someone find a solution to help students in failing schools that doesn’t just shift those students to other failing schools.

  • 18. 8th gr mom  |  February 14, 2012 at 8:32 am

    @10 & 17 I am a big fan of Noble St schools. My 8th gr daughter and I attended five of their open houses over the last couple of years and were very impressed. The ONLY way you are handed an application is if you attend their information session which reviews very specifically their discipline policy — including mentions of shoelaces, accumulating demerits, and the $5 fee. They couldn’t be more clear that they run a really tight ship. It is also required that both child and parent sign the app in agreement of these policies. Seems unreasonable to be complaining after the fact to me.

    Also, if memory serves me (which it does less all the time), I believe that the $5 is used to help offset the costs of detentions, rather than drain the resources from the compliant students.

    Noble schools simultaneously place tremendous importance on recognition of progress and achievement. Their students are polished and poised, and, from what we observed, extremely polite. They also seem to be enjoying themselves and proud of their accomplishments. I have also met some Noble grads — from college, not just high school — and their stories are inspiring.

    As an aside, my older daughter attended a SE hs and I was often surprised and somewhat disappointed at the loosey-goosey discipline at school, explained away as they are “good kids/smart kids/under a lot of pressure” etc etc. I’m not talking about anything serious here, but just a general lack of respect for adults, authority, etc. It remains one of the main reasons we are casting a wide net this year for daughter #2.

    Older daughter’s college admissions officer raves about Noble grads because of their excellent preparation for college, both academics & study skills. (Her words, not mine.) . I believe they have had at least a dozen Noble grads through their college.

    As I said, I’m impressed with the schools — younger daughter is accepted at two that we were interested in, & wait listed for Noble St original (#406). No decision yet til we know all her options.

    Just another side to the story — or maybe just a more complete picture.

  • 19. CPSDepressed  |  February 14, 2012 at 9:04 am

    I really hate to break it to some people here, but a lot of CPS schools “cull” kids, too. Or play games on ISAT day. Or have teachers that “helpfully” point out right answers when they walk down the aisle proctoring an exam, or change one of two answers on a completed form.

    Charter are not evil. Not every single person at CPS has the best interests of all kids at heart.

    And, yes, the 50 million “anonymous” posters going on and on about how teachers work 80 hours week and what a tragedy it is that Rahm Emanuel squeaked into office with no voter support and how he wants to pocket all the savings from CPS in the form of a personal bonus even though all the taxpayers in Chicago want nothing more than to see their property taxes triple are just, well, annoying.

  • 20. Anon8787  |  February 14, 2012 at 9:05 am

    10 – 18
    The Noble policy with fines is exactly what the private high schools use. I don’t have a problem with it. It teaches the student responsibility especially when the parents won’t pay the fees and the student needs to figure out a way to pay. It’s all about making good choices.

  • 21. HS Mom  |  February 14, 2012 at 9:27 am

    @17 they seemed to be a charter that was making a difference. I really want to see someone find a solution to help students in failing schools that doesn’t just shift those students to other failing schools.

    I don’t see the connection between an article about parents protesting fees and your belief that Noble is a failing school.

    With what I’m reading about other CPS high schools in the news lately safety seems to be a real issue.

  • 22. Eric  |  February 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    @8 Chris

    I always want to talk about “that kid”, in my eyes it’s still a civil rights issue.

    My issue with charters relates to what Noble is doing. Fining kids for untied shoelaces etc. will eventually push kids out. Our kids should be learning how to think critically rather than how to be obedient.

  • 23. Chris  |  February 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Eric @22: “My issue with charters relates to what Noble is doing. ”

    And what Noble is doing is not really a pro-/anti- union issue. Trying to make it into one (not that you are) distracts from the issue of whether that particular policy is doing right by the kids.

    “Our kids should be learning how to think critically rather than how to be obedient.”

    One piece of critical thinking is: “is this an issue I’m willing to jeopardize money/freedom/credibility/whatever on”; which isn’t to say I agree with what they’re doing, but it also sounds like they’re very upfront about it, and the kids/parents agreed to the terms–most likely with take-it-or-go-elsewhere terms, but still.

    “I always want to talk about “that kid”, in my eyes it’s still a civil rights issue.”

    [snark deleted] But for the most part, neither side of the CTU argument does. I think it’s more likely to be productive–for either side–to couch their arguments in terms of the kids.

  • 24. Eric  |  February 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    @23 Chris

    I really wasn’t chiming in on the union debate (pro!), just wanted to address your statement about “that kid.”

    Noble are upfront about it, which makes me question their reported ACT scores. If they pushout/counsel out then are we getting credible info on them? Are they increasing the kids capacity or getting rid of the lower testers? The problem is that this data is being used to attack traditional schools and the union.

    “One piece of critical thinking is: “is this an issue I’m willing to jeopardize money/freedom/credibility/whatever on””

    Sure, but kids should tie their shoe so they won’t trip, not because they’ll get punished/fined.

  • 25. HS Mom  |  February 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    @24 – and untied shoes have no other meaning?

  • 26. Newbie  |  February 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    @21 I wasn’t saying Noble is a failing school. I was saying (not very clearly, by the way) that it is not solving the problem of failing schools. The solution Noble provides is a better learning environment for motivated kids who have a failing neighborhood school. And I do think that is a worthy problem to solve. However, when those kids opt for the Noble it just leaves their neighborhood school with a bigger proportion of kids that don’t choose Noble. They are the kids that don’t choose Noble because they know they would have to pay fines at Noble. Or more likely they are the kids (or parents) that weren’t motivated enought to check out Noble at all. So we haven’t really solved the whole problem which is …How do we make all schools great? I don’t have a solution.

  • 27. mom2  |  February 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    “So we haven’t really solved the whole problem which is …How do we make all schools great? I don’t have a solution.” – But, at least we have given an option and an opportunity to at least some kids to get a better chance at an education. Isn’t helping some better than trying to help all and failing for all of them?

  • 28. Eric  |  February 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    @27 mom2

    Is it better to help few and fail the majority?
    Helping all doesn’t necessarily mean you’re failing some. It doesn’t have to be either/or.

  • 29. Amanda C.  |  February 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    @22….Unfortunately, there area MANY kids who need to learn how to behave. I’m not saying that what Noble St. does is the ‘right’ way, but walk into many neighborhood schools and take a look at what is going on. I am definitely not pro-charter, and am a member of the CTU. I just want to see kids learn. The challenges of no discipline options in the neighborhood schools makes disruptive students such a focal point, that it does take away from the “good” kids. Until you’ve been in front of a class of 35 teenagers who know there are NO repurcussions you can’t really understand the dynamics of what goes on in the neighborhood schools.

  • 30. mom2  |  February 14, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    @28 – When we try to do one size fits all, it does seem like we fail all rather than at least helping some. How is forcing all kids to go to a school with kids with behavior issues (for example) going to benefit even some of those kids that would have otherwise been at a school without them?

  • 31. Chris  |  February 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Eric: “I really wasn’t chiming in on the union debate (pro!), just wanted to address your statement about “that kid.””

    Realized all (non-parathetical) parts of that, and tried (perhaps not hard enough) to note that.

    But then, this: “The problem is that this data is being used to attack traditional schools and the union.”

    That’s not the problem; the problem is that the (legitimately questionable, for the reasons you note and others) “success” of a given charter school is used as an excuse to not undertake other approaches to help “that kid” (times 10,000, 100,000, 300,000 or whatever the count of those ill-served by CPS is = “those kids”). I don’t give a flying fig about the union, for it’s own purposes, or the schools, as currently constituted and, largely, failing. I care about the teachers who *are* doing something to help “those kids” and about the schools that are doing right by at least *most* (and, preferably, all, but that’s really dreaming, even at the “best” schools) of “those kids”. Union, no union, don’t care. But when the politics, or the union’s self-preservation or, as is most often the case, both, get in the way of trying to help “those kids”, I think that everyone is …ignoring? missing? oblivious to? intentionally avoiding?… the real point.

  • 32. fouryeyes  |  February 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Charter schools do become an issue for our kids when they risk becoming the only option.
    They commonly hire inexperienced teachers (to cut costs) or have ‘interesting’ hiring practices. (BTW: studies consistently show that the two most important factors in a child’s learning are: veteran teachers and small student/teacher ratio).
    One charter school in Rogers Park had large amounts of teachers from Turkey ((it was owned/operated by Turkish investors)…and these teachers were teaching English (among other subjects)). Not that a Turkish teacher is incapable of the task…but they don’t have native fluency and there are persons here who are likely better qualified for that job. I don’t believe that those students are learning better English (or even other subject matters) in these situations.
    A problem many people don’t address is what happens to special Ed kids. What about these kids? In the public school, we have systems (seemingly) intact to help those kids. As I have heard, in charter schools…many things can be skirted aside and not addressed. This is not right or fair to those kids. As a parent (and as a teacher)…I really would like to understand those issues. (and Special Ed. issues can surely influence test results which many people criticize as part of the ‘culling’ process).
    With charter schools, there are other factors (regarding transfer of property (CPS (Chicago’s largest landholder I believe)…loses the property in many cases and then there are funding and other ‘fun’ issues)…but let’s focus on the issues – like the ones above which WILL touch the kids and WILL affect the kids. I would argue that the recent news about Noble Charter School and its fining students affects kids. Noble’s discipline system charges students $5 for minor behavior such as chewing gum, missing a button on their school uniform, or not making eye contact with their teacher, and up to $280 for required behavior classes. 90% of Noble students are low-income, yet if they can’t pay all fines, they are made to repeat the entire school year or prevented from graduating. (Should a student go through the emotional harm of being held back because of this kind of stuff? (BTW: studies do indicate these students do experience psychological harm) Should a student really be held back because of this? You decide. Should students not graduate because of these fines? You decide. No waivers are offered, giving many families no option but to leave the school. Is this type of behavior ‘for the kids’? Or is just not for ‘our kids.’ You decide.
    Now some charter schools work wonders. Those schools often have a very tightly knit contract between parents, teachers and school. But if you look at the CPS public schools that are doing well and are attractive – they have a good strong relationships (not contracts) between parents/teachers/students and community. That is where the LSC is working and that is where parents want their kids and the kids want to be.
    It really does need to be about the kids. As a parent…of course it should be about my kid. I want my kid (who is a student in CPS) to have a good education (just like all of you). I am a teacher and a hardworking one…and it IS about the kids – my students…that is WHY I work as much as I do. For my (YOUR) kids.

    Parents need to be aware of the pros and cons of charter schools (which is NOT something that the standard media has truly addressed – although it appears to start to have done so a ‘little’ bit more). Currently, CPS and the Mayor seem to want to present them repetitively as if they are they ONLY option for improvement. Please note that Parents for Responsible Education (pureparents.org) has plenty to say about this being the ‘only option.’ They are a group of parents who are working for parents and ultimately the kids with regard to CPS and the public to understand more about these issues.
    Parents are the child’s first teacher and they will always be that child’s most important teacher. As parents, we want a voice in our child’s education in the schools that they attend. The problem is that CPS is silencing many parents’ desires about what they want for their kids (look at the debates and public outcry that the parents and their kids in some of these communities are expressing to the BOE with regard to their schools being closed and their communities being disrupted). (When those words are ignored and ‘written off’ that leaves those parents and kids WITHOUT a voice). All Parents want a voice. You want a voice which is why you write/read/question/debate. With public education…seemingly there is a voice – or so we thought there was. The parents who are currently trying to communicate with the BOE do not feel like they or their children have a voice.

  • 33. Chris  |  February 14, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    fouryeyes @32: Bravo. More like this, please!

    So, it is possible to articulate an anti-charter point without saying that the point of the “charterization” is break the union or make “them” rich or any of the other–largely irrelevant, imo–arguments which have been bandied about so much.

    If the CTU focused on *these* sorts of arguments, I think people (not everyone, natch) would listen, and *then* be more receptive to the underlying goal of the union (ie, protecting teachers’ jobs, salary and benefits).

  • 34. James  |  February 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    #11, 13, and 15 —

    I completely agree. The site has changed over the past couple months, with an influx of “bigger picture” posts and union/charter posts. It hasn’t reached the vitriol and meanness seen on District 299, but it’s come close a couple times. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it has definitely diminished the almost exclusive (and, frankly, refreshing) parent focus of this site.

  • 35. Jill  |  February 15, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I find the scorched earth comments characterizing this blog as ‘too much big picture’ to be troubling… and inaccurate.

    Are we really criticizing the pursuit to understand the greater system…on an education blog?

    Several weeks ago, CPS-O broke an incredible share of data on which elementary schools feed which SE high schools, reverse engineered by a reader — in his or her free time! This was landmark information to me, not provided by any other source in town. Wow.

    Then, came a post about the change in Tiers, a move ignored by every major news outlet. But as CPS parents you all know the import of this. Wow again. You heard it here first!

    As parents we are siloed across the district. If our PAC or BAC or PTO or LSC achieves some measure of success at a school, there is no vehicle for sharing or scaling that information across the district.

    Of course we are concerned about our own children. There were 400 or so comments on the Tier change, mostly from this personal perspective. But there’s nothing wrong with connecting the dots between our own kids and systemic successes and epic failures for the 404,999 other public school children. And it’s ludicrous to think that things are so easily reducible to this side=good and that side=bad.

    There’s no silver bullets. Understanding this all and making it better is hard and admirable work. There’s nothing “refreshing” about putting parents in a corner and keeping them siloed. I salute Seth for his refreshing and insightful analysis, and CPS-O for convening public discourse that frankly, I am shocked and dismayed that it’s not happening elsewhere.

  • 36. southie  |  February 15, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I’ll have what she’s saying. 😉

  • 37. Eric  |  February 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    @30 mom2

    It is a very complicated issue in a fairly diverse city.

    “When we try to do one size fits all, it does seem like we fail all rather than at least helping some.”

    It should be tailored to our specific populations. Some kids don’t need help since the system is already tailored to them (Payton, Northside).

    “How is forcing all kids to go to a school with kids with behavior issues (for example) going to benefit even some of those kids that would have otherwise been at a school without them?”

    How did desegregation or the Civil Rights movement benefit our system? It tried to equalize it and diversified it so that everyone has opportunity. It’s part of our national principles. Love it or leave it…

    School prepares kids for life in ways that can’t be quantified. It would be beneficial for a kid to be exposed to diversity so they know how to approach it in the real world. We can’t segregate ourselves from people with behavior issues in the real world nor should we. I want my kid to know how to interact with a kid with behavior issues. They’re not pariahs just different. But they’re made out to be a problem as curriculum narrowed by teaching to tests. It’s not inclusive of everyone so not everyone succeeds.

    Teachers have to be prepared to teach kids with behavior issues, and the curriculum should include options for a kid who can’t sit still for instance. That the point of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

  • 38. Eric  |  February 15, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    @31 & 33 Chris

    What is CTU doing that you don’t agree with?

    It’s not zero sum, CTU battles so everyday teachers can concentrate on the kids. So how are they not concentrating on the kids?

    Many of those arguments are bandied about cause they’re part of the larger picture as well as the arguments that fouryeyes made. Hell, I’ve made some of those same arguments on here and was accused of spreading rumors. CTU makes similar arguments on their website.

    To your original point, I don’t have faith in the Mayor to use a proven method to educate all kids. Policy makers rarely use credible evidence to shape policy, and equity hasn’t been on the table since the 70s. So I don’t believe that if it weren’t for “charterization” they would have an equitable plan in place.

    Rahm is about privatization; public funds for private biz. It’s also a characteristic of Broad School superintendents like Brizard, Rhee etc.. Irrelevant to you, but completely relevant to those in schools and parents like me. They’re giving away our public education money to unproven companies, and blaming teachers for underfunded schools that were allowed to fester for years. They’re attempting to wipe the slate clean at many schools, and the children are part of the collateral damage.

  • 39. junior  |  February 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I think what people are observing and reacting to is the growing politicization of this blog for people’s own interests/agenda. Overshadowed are previous balanced, thoughtful posts; hijacked by posts that, for example, want to squeeze in every bit of anti-Rahm, anti-charter tidbits they can find, regardless if it’s even relevant to the topic being discussed. Hard to participate with all that noise.

    Oh well — maybe these folks will eventually tire of restating the same thoughts six different ways to the same people.

  • 40. mom2  |  February 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    @Junior 39 – I agree. People here were never in the habit of “blaming teachers for underfunded schools that were allowed to fester for years”” or using charters against neighborhood schools or any of the other things that keep being mentioned recently. That may be happening elsewhere, but it wasn’t happening here.

    I don’t mind learning and having the conversation if someone were to wonder if school X was bad because of the teachers or if school Y is better just because it is a charter. I do agree that understanding everything about CPS is a good thing, but most of the recent posts are very one-sided. One needs to fully know both sides in order to learn and form a well researched opinion.

  • 41. CPSDepressed  |  February 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    This is what the CTU members who post here need to know: speaking generally, we have the potential to be your best allies. Again, generally speaking, we are the parents who raise money and volunteer at school. More importantly, we are the parents who are committed to CPS even though many of us, maybe most of us, have the option to move to the suburbs or pay for private schools. We have the children you say you need to have in order to have good schools. I know people who are huge supporters of public education and teachers unions who live in Oak Park. Isn’t that groovy?

    And yes, generally speaking, we put quality of education over who runs the school; generally speaking, we prefer a longer school day and longer school year; generally speaking, we want our kids to go to college; generally speaking, we know that many teachers are good (but not all); generally speaking, we look out for our own kids first but believe that our kids will do better if the whole system is better.

    Finally, generally speaking, I’ll bet the majority of parents here voted for Rahm Emanuel, like the majority of all Chicago voters.

    I’ve read this board off and on for several years, and it has been a great resource for me and for many other people, and a lot of the discussions have been great.

    So, all you shills, are you working to get the support of the parents who are the most likely to get change into the system? Or are you going to berate the people who disagree with you on points large and small?

  • 42. anon98765  |  February 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    41 – Generally speaking I like your post!

  • 43. Chris  |  February 15, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Eric: “Irrelevant to you, but completely relevant to those in schools and parents like me”

    In what way do you believe me to NOT be a “parent like you”?

  • 44. Chris  |  February 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    CPSD: “So, all you shills, are you working to get the support of the parents who are the most likely to get change into the system? Or are you going to berate the people who disagree with you on points large and small?”

    Or just accuse us of being “not like them”!!

  • 45. Chris  |  February 15, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Eric: ““How is forcing all kids to go to a school with kids with behavior issues (for example) going to benefit even some of those kids that would have otherwise been at a school without them?”

    How did desegregation or the Civil Rights movement benefit our system? ”

    Are you seriously comparing the possibility of excluding (yes, segregating is probably the best word) demonstrated “problem” kids with the exclusion of ALL kids with a different skin tone? Do you think that is a good argument?

  • 46. Bookworm  |  February 16, 2012 at 12:09 am

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/beyond-sats-finding-success-in-numbers/?src=rechp
    Great Piece on the Posse foundation.

    Worth a post on it’s own! Eat up tier haters. I just think all the tests that Chicago’s se caste system is based on tell us as much about the potential for kids in our city as this research tells us about standardized tests in general. Nothing.

  • 47. Bookworm  |  February 16, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I mean the tests tell us nothing!

  • 48. HS Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Kind of interesting how different people view the issue of fees for violations of school policies.

    The article attached explains how discipline rules at Nobel charters aren’t for everyone but they are also part of the attraction for many.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-noble-20120216,0,5102701.story

  • 49. Eric  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    @Chris 43 45

    “Or just accuse us of being “not like them”!!”
    “In what way do you believe me to NOT be a “parent like you”?”

    As you said, you think some issues are irrelevant. Parent’s like me, who worry about privatization and a healthy work environment for our teachers, do think it’s relevant to the dialogue around charters as well as the points fouryeyes brought up.

    “Are you seriously comparing the possibility of excluding (yes, segregating is probably the best word) demonstrated “problem” kids with the exclusion of ALL kids with a different skin tone? Do you think that is a good argument?”

    I do think this is another civil rights issue, and so did the federal government and that’s why we have IDEA and Section 504. To me, the original post advocates separating kids that have behavior issues to ‘help some.’ These kids are legally protected. We just can’t do away with people that are inconvenient or who don’t fit in.

    @Junior and mom2

    I’m a concerned parent of a CPS kid, not a union member. I have studied Mayoral control of schools, Brizard, Rhee, Klein, and people who are ideologically like them in other school districts. How is this not relevant to the discussion? Charters are one of the biggest topics in education today.

    Mom2 is right, we need to hear BOTH sides, but all we hear from Rahm is how much better charters are than traditional public schools, how bad the union is, how great AUSL is.

    I want what’s best for all kids rather than just “helping some.”

  • 50. onemorecpsmom  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Halleluiah for IDEA 2004 and Section 504!

  • 51. onemorecpsmom  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Might I add, “both sides” includes the SOUTHside. hehe.

  • 52. Eric  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    @ 51. onemorecpsmom

    YES!

    And to nerd it up even more, the South (and West) side are disproportionately where most charters are and where most turnaround interventions occur.

  • 53. cpsobsessed  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    @Eric: granted I am terrible at following actualy politics. But has the mayor actually come out and said that charters are great, ausl is great, and the unions are terrible?

    I had gotten the sense (right or wrong) that he/cps feels that in some neighborhoods where school results via the traditional cps method have been….horrendous, shall we say?…that the quickest solution to get some of these kids a better option than they have now is via charters and turnarounds.

    Does he “hate” the unions? Maybe. They certainly have not been willing to work with cps much in the recent past. Has he given any indication that he wants to totally destroy them? I haven’t seen that?

    Would any political leader who has the goal of balancing budgets be interested in reducing union participation a bit? I’m guessing probably given the pension situation — which is a retirement plan that is outdated compared with the rest of the workworld.

    I just don’t know if the slippery-slope / sweeping generalizations hold up. For either side.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 54. cpsobsessed  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    So if cps was trying to categorically replace the city with charters, why are there so few on the north side? Huh? Huh? 🙂
    Okkam’s Razor – they are a choice for people in the crummiest areas of the cty who find some appeal in the idea of a longer day, tougher discipline, etc.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 55. mom2  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    @49 Eric, I know I am being reactionary here, but your comments that separating kids with behavior problems is a civil rights issue is really getting to me. What about the rights for the rest of our kids to be safe and receive an education? By your thought process, we should never jail criminals, rapists and child molesters because that would be separating them from the rest of us and a violation of their civil rights.

    I want what is best for all kids, too. That’s why I think those kids that have severe behavior issues need extra help, and more than what a teacher with 32 kids in a class can do. I want them to get that extra help and I want the kids that want to learn to have that chance to learn (and that teacher to have that chance to teach).
    I’m not talking about “doing away” with them. You are adding things that were never said.

    The parents I know do care a great deal about “healthy work environments for our teachers” because that is the same environment for our kids. We love most of our teachers and want them happy, healthy and focused on our kids. Why would you think otherwise?

    You obviously are paying attention to some other blogs or news outlets more than I am because I feel I am only getting the CTU side of things. Yes, I know that there have been some news reports about Rahm thinking charter X is doing a good job, but I hear much more about how the longer school day isn’t going to work, the students are going to be sitting in front of a computer, the teachers deserve more pay, the teachers can’t get social security (which would be a much worse pay out than what they are getting with their current system -believe me), charters are no good and take away from the neighborhood, etc. etc.

  • 56. mom2  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I also want to be clear – I am not talking about taking every 3rd grader with ADHD that fidgets in their chair and moving them to a new school. I’m talking about the most severe behavior issues that constantly disrupt the entire class, where the safety of other children or teachers is the concern, where other interventions haven’t worked, etc.

  • 57. Mia  |  February 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Eric – i agree with everything you wrote, so well done.

    CPS obsessed – i’m saddened by your comments. I think you are correct that Eric is “obviously paying attention to some other blogs or news outlets” more than you are; I hope you will take the time to get better informed on the Charter movement.

  • 58. cpsobsessed  |  February 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Mia, I think I take a balanced approach to charters. Do I feel they should replace all schools? No. Do I feel they have a place in giving parents a choice when their other options are depressing? If certain charters show a better way of educating and-or a way that parents prefer, then yes. What makes you sad about that?
    I have read plenty about charters and I always end up at the same conclusion.
    Upper income parents have the choice of educational philosophies by choosing public or private. Why can’t lower income families have a choice too?
    As I stated, if the city’s goal is charters for the sake of charters, why are they concentrated in the areas with the poor public schools?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 59. Chris  |  February 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    “I’m talking about the most severe behavior issues that constantly disrupt the entire class, where the safety of other children or teachers is the concern, where other interventions haven’t worked, etc.”

    Segregating them is *exactly* like segrating ALL non-whites, don’t you get it? And the only people looking out for those kids are in the CTU!![/sarcasm]

    Jeebus, it really is almost enough to make one agree with the ideas purportedly propounded by the ugly caricature of Rahm/JCB/people-who-have-nothing-to-do-with-CPS.

  • 60. Mia  |  February 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    CPS Obsessed – I had promised myself to stay out of the charter/union debate, I regret mentioning that I was saddened by your comments.

    I should have left it at kudos to Eric.

  • 61. cpsobsessed  |  February 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Really, I am curious. If not your own points of view, what are the main reasons that one should categorically oppose charters?
    (Other than that they replace union members.)
    Or is that the main argument out there?

    I sense it has something to do with people being opposed to the whole private versus public thing for some reason?

    I truly don’t get the categorical disapproval of them, esp when some parents in the city and in other cities are dying to get into these schools. And our current system looks pretty pathetic in some areas? In the absence of another solution, why is rahm satanic for considering these as a choice for some kids. Someone, anyone, explain it to me and I’m open to listen. (And debate, but listen I will.).

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 62. Mia  |  February 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Here’s a start:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704869304575109443305343962.html

  • 63. Angie  |  February 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    49. Eric: “I do think this is another civil rights issue, and so did the federal government and that’s why we have IDEA and Section 504. To me, the original post advocates separating kids that have behavior issues to ‘help some.’ These kids are legally protected. We just can’t do away with people that are inconvenient or who don’t fit in. ”

    Nobody is proposing to “do away with them”. Some children really are better served by self-contained classrooms geared specifically to their needs, and many CPS schools offer this type of educational setting. It has nothing to with the civil rights, so kids with behavioral issues could actually benefit from specialized instruction.

  • 64. Sped Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    @56 mom2 – “…most severe behavior issues that constantly disrupt the entire class, where the safety of other children or teachers is the concern, where other interventions haven’t worked, etc….”

    I honestly hope that no parents here ever have to confront trying to truly educate a child with significant emotional disabilities. But, if you have to, you do see things about CPS differently. Completely differently than parents with neurotypical children do.

    One might ask oneself: Where did this “severe behavior [issue]” start? When did it start? What’s the school’s role in addressing it (under special education law)? And did the school decline (or reject) that role? Did that result in the subsequent disruptions?

    Based on what I’ve seen, I doubt effective “interventions” were even attempted. (Key word: “effective.”) Sorry, but it’s what I’ve seen.

    Early interventions are critical to effective education. What happens when interventions are not made and problems fester? When evaluation is blocked, appropriate placement is not made, sped is not delivered, etc? (Kick the can…)

    Thanks be for those teachers or others who have effectively helped kids in need.

  • 65. Sped Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Did you guys catch “The Interrupters” on WTTW Tuesday night (or in the theaters)? That’s the environment many of CPS teachers and students deal with every day. It’s a tough one. I know we’re not going to permit our cpsobsessed kids to attend those schools.

  • 66. Sped Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    @ 63. Angie – “Some children really are better served by self-contained classrooms geared specifically to their needs, and many CPS schools offer this type of educational setting.”

    It actually has everything to do with civil rights. It is about the civil rights of children with disabilities, their right to education, and the ability of general public school to educate everyone. Yes, some children are appropriately placed in self-contained classrooms, WHEN the general classroom is an inappropriate placement.

    Of course, the reality of HOW these students are educated in the self-contained &/or the general classroom is a whole ‘nother matter. The laws/regs/policies are one thing, and the CPS practice is another.

    I guess you can image that, though. Reality differing from intent of the law, I mean.

  • 67. Angie  |  February 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    @66. Sped Mom: Actually, I have a child in a self-contaned deaf classroom, so I am very familiar with the subject. In his case, it is the appropriate placement, and he is getting a very good education in there.

    Mainstreaming works for some children, which is great, but others are better off in a separate setting.

  • 68. anonymouseteacher  |  February 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Is there a place on the CPS website where one can view on a citywide map where all the SEHS, elementary magnets, gifteds and classical schools are located? I have long suspected that the north side and downtown get more of these specialty schools, but since that is not based in fact, I’d like to see the facts for myself.

  • 69. RL Julia  |  February 16, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Here are my answers to some of the threads on this post:

    Does Rahm hate the union and/or love Charter schools:

    Rahm inherited a city with a crushing budget deficit and a budget of which 80% of it (across the board) is consumed by personnel costs (including health insurance). He cannot balance these budgets without doing some serious work chipping away at these personnel costs which includes looking at some different ways to reduce the health insurance burden but also looking who is being paid what. Union jobs represent a huge chunk of change that can only be reduced via negotiation and/or blasting them apart and hiring non-unionized workers at a market determined rate which is usually a lot less than what the union has negotiated (think rate for a union plumber v. non-union plumber coming to your house). I don’t know if Rahm personally hates unions or loves them- he is just trying to balance various budgets and he has to do it by adjusting at least some of the personnel costs currently being expended – and he doesn’t want to do furlough days (which was Daley’s solution). Hence all the activities to undermine the power of the unions and diminish their power prior to their getting to the table for negotiations.

    What about Charter Schools -Well, some are great and some are not so great. The biggest issue I have with Charter schools are that they can be for-profit entities which means that a certain percentage of their operating money can be given to the administrators/shareholder whomever vs. it being poured back into the operating of the school. It is my experience that whenever there is this opportunity, money is taken out of the operation side almost always at the expense of providing additional services to the end user – which in this case is a whole bunch of non-voting children and their parents who are trying to escape disproportionately terrible schools- an easily exploitable population. Additionally, Charter schools generally don’t pay their teachers as well and hence often have a cadre of younger, less experienced teachers who are either passing through teaching on their way to something more lucrative or who are trying to get into a unionized teaching position which will allow them some job security and higher pay. While parochial school teachers are also poorly paid, I believe that the faith aspect of the education attracts a different sort of person. Lastly, most non-public schools are really not capable or interested in handling children with special needs (who negatively effect their test scores). This means that those children will either be under-served, told to transfer or pushed out of the school. Since Charter schools ultimately operated under the auspices of a public educational system, I believe that this is unethical or at least categorically wrong. Additionally, this sort of cherry picking also places an undue burden on the neighborhood public school as they are mandated (and theoretically capable) of providing SPED services and may end up with a disproportionate percentage of learning disabled children – which wouldn’t matter except for all the testing and etc… which ultimately only encourages more stratification – all under the name of “school choice” which ultimately becomes “choice…. but only for some children”. Now before everyone jumps all over me – this is my opinion of the big picture- there are lots of rosy examples that contradict me.

  • 70. RL Julia  |  February 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Anonymus – there are tons of magnet/magnet cluster schools all over the city -but lots of them are not considered to be desirable schools to send a kid to. You can see them on the CPS map – and there are under served pockets for sure – just not necessarily where you think they are. I think you might be able to see them using this locator:
    http://schoollocator.cps.k12.il.us/

  • 71. Sped Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    67. Angie That’s fabulous. Thanks to much work of the civil rights movement, kids with deafness have access to general schools rather than being placed solely in schools for the deaf, or having their public education neglected.

    Specially, I was referring to kids who demonstrate the classroom “disruptions” being discussed in the news. I’d wager that they are likely ED and BD (and just as likely, march through their CPS careers with their disorders unaddressed in any effective way). That march frequently leads to prison. So, at least at that point, they no longer “disrupt” the general population.

  • 72. Eric  |  February 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    @ All…I guess?

    My original comments are a response to mom2-“isn’t helping some better than trying to help all and failing for all of them? I replied “Is it better to help some and fail the majority?”

    To me, no.

    @cpsobsessed

    Yes he has. Kirk too pretty much. It’s an ideology that both sides of the aisle support. If you look at the federal discourse in education for the last 20 years you’ll see that Republicans wanted vouchers and choice. The compromise is Charters.

    I’m not against all charters. Some are great. What I am against is inequity which is the whole point of ESEA. I am against this notion that they are better than traditional schools when they have the tendency to counsel kids out who might not fit in. Or like fouryeyes stated, many don’t have adequate special ed services, so those kids return to the neighborhood schools, bringing down the scores of a most likely non-charter, and test scores are the ammo in this fight. These aren’t sweeping generalizations either, we’ve heard it from teachers, I studied it in grad school (Education Policy), and I’ve seen kids denied IEP evaluations. Their parents don’t have the capacity to sue, so they transfer out to the general system. Most Charters aren’t rolling in dough, so the special ed gets sacrificed.

    I work in a poor neighborhood, and the schools have been bad for decades. For many the charters are the only and best option. But instead of wiping the slate (which has collateral damage ala Derrion Albert) CPS has to invest in these poor schools.
    IT IS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY!

    If schools on the South and West sides have been allowed to be in shambles for years are we really giving poor families a choice? The people with the capacity to apply to the charter will tend to be a parent with more income or education. It’s likely the charter will be stacked with the most supported students.

    Currently we give money to young charter companies who have not had the time to be evaluated properly. Are they working? I think it’s too early to tell. When people get counseled out are we getting the true picture? No. Neighborhood schools can’t counsel kids out, but they are judged just like charters on test scores. So I question Noble’s ACT scores because they’re selective in who they enroll. And this data is used unfairly to crap on traditional public schools and union teachers. It’s not apples-to-apples, and you’ve actually removed public funds from the pot to give to charters.

    Charters have been successful at raising their own funds, many of these charter CEOs are making a killing (cough*Juan Rangel at UNO $266,000 *cough). But at the end of the day I want my teachers, principals, and superintendents to be qualified in education not business.

    The idea of charters is that they are contracted based on performance. Why was this charter given federal money to get on track. I thought we’re supposed to hold them accountable!?!

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/6249382-418/struggling-chicago-public-high-schools-get-millions.html

    These are funds that should have gone to Robeson or Crane or any non-SE high school on probation.

    @ mom2 (and Angie)

    Thanks for also clearing up your statement. I agree there are times when kids need to be in a more adequate environment, but we also have to be careful about their well-being. There is a stigma attached to kids that are segregated and we have laws in place to protect them from this. This is part of Brown vs. BOE. A classroom and teacher suffer when one child acts out, but to my knowledge, it is not harming them as much as our inadequate special needs services harm those in real need.

    So your idea of helping some being better is bad in my opinion, and actually against the law.

  • 73. HS Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    since special needs seems to be a hot button, I would like to try and add some clarity. IEP and 504 students are kids considered capable of performing at their ability within the regular classroom once they are given accommodation – extended time on tests, keyboards, wheelchair accommodations etc. They may also be pulled from the classroom for speech and writing therapy or other such accommodations. The key component is that they are able to perform in the classroom setting. There is a legal document with their plan that follows them through college. All public schools are required to implement the plan. I don’t personally know how charters operate with IEP’s/504 but would assume that they too need to honor them. I would agree that any school that does not honor those agreements are in violation of that students rights.

    Special programs – hearing/visually impaired, autism, sever handicaps are only offered at certain schools. These programs are not offered at all neighborhood schools and not at any magnets. As an example, I know a family with a child who has Asperger’s. He is intelligent enough for school but has social issues. They’ve mentioned that there are maybe 4 schools with the right program and 2 of them do not work location wise. They do not want to put their child into the regular neighborhood school because he has particular needs that not every school can meet. Schools that have a program for him must take him by law or CPS is required to fund private care. The selective enrollment high schools do offer these programs by the way and entrance is open to those students.

    As far as kids that are violent or dangerous whether by personality, upbringing, neglect, abuse or psychological, I agree with Mom2 above. Yes these kids need help. No, they do not have a right (human, civil or otherwise) to endanger others in any school environment.

  • 74. Angie  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Chicago has a shortage of educational options for an “average” kid, especially on a high school level. If students are not able to get into a SE high school yet still interested in studying in a safe and productive environment, what are their options? So far, CPS schools have not been able or willing to provide a good education for these children. So, I would have no problem with charter schools created specifically for this purpose, and having their pick of students who fit the profile.

    As for the special education, CPS schools are required to provide it and they receive funding for that purpose. If they are failing on the job, they should be held responsible for it. Only if charter schools receive the equal access to funds, specialists and equipment necessary to educate the special ed students can they be required to do it.

  • 75. Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    @ 72 — I think, unfortunately, you have a misunderstanding of the “holding” of Brown v. BOE. It is not about “helping all kids equally.” It was about not discriminating based on a child’s race. If a child suffers from disabilities of one sort or another, or is simply a difficult child, behaviorally, it does not run afoul of any constitutional protection to have different criteria for what to do about the child’s education. Kids with disabilities are protected by federal laws, to some extent, but not by the Constitution. Presumably schools enforce their rights under those laws. If not, there are remedies. On the other hand, kids who are behavioral PITAs are not protected, by either state or federal law.

    IMHO, it is fairly naive to think that “all” kids can be served in the same classroom. This has nothing to do with “civil rights,” just reality. The suggestion that the “majority” should sacrifice their education to incorporate “everyone” is a bit disturbing, in light of the undeniable fact that not every child can have their needs met in the exact same classroom as their peers. If we haven’t learned that kids have different needs in all our time reading this blog, then let’s shut it down!

  • 76. Eric  |  February 17, 2012 at 12:52 am

    @75 Mom

    Respectfully, I don’t think I said Brown was about “helping all kids equally.” Also, I never advocated for the majority to sacrifice their education to incorporate everyone. If you read all of my comments, you’ll see I understand that one size doesn’t fit all.

    I said “There is a stigma attached to kids that are segregated and we have laws in place to protect them from this. This is part of Brown vs. BOE.”

    The key point of Brown is not discrimination based on race is wrong (you have to wait til ’64 for that) but rather discrimination is wrong for how it made black kids feel. Chief Justice Warren stated in the courts decision “A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn.” The Brown decision is based on how “separate but equal” made blacks FEEL inferior, therefore violating their 14th amendment rights.

    School segregation wasn’t overturned because they thought it was wrong to separate blacks and whites, they realized that they were violating the rights of US citizens. In fact segregation in other public sectors continued.

    Kids with disabilities ARE protected by the Constitution under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment established in Mills vs BOE and PARC vs Pennsylvania, the precursors to IDEA.

  • 77. HS Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:03 am

    @32, @37, @69

    You seem to be saying that charters don’t provide or skirt around providing SPED services under IDEA and this is one way to raise their scores.

    As others have noted, SPED programs under IDEA are available at some schools, not all schools and require specialist, diagnosis for behavioral issues etc. The scores for sped students are also held out separate.

    Are you suggesting that charters do not provide IEP and 504 accommodations? If so, that would be a serious allegation.

    @69 RLJ – I would like to learn more about quality of teachers in Chicago charter schools. Is there a reference that supports what you say about this being a transient type job? Seth Lavin’s wife taught/teaches? at a charter. I wonder what her experience was/is?

  • 78. Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:38 am

    @76, Eric: Sorry if I did not fully understand what you were saying. It sounded like you were saying you believed that a law or the Constitution required all kids to be treated exactly the same. That is not true, but it is a common misconception. The Constitution, which incidentally protects all of us, not just those of a particular race or disability status, actually permits treating different groups differently. There just needs to be a reason for the differential treatment. And if the differential treatment is based on an immutable characteristic, like race, there has to be a very, very good reason. If it is based on something else where differential treatment might be necessary due to a particular group’s characteristics, like disability, that won’t garner the same level of scrutiny. And if the differential treatment is based on something like being a disruptive student in class, well, any rational reason for treating that group differently will do. So, I disagree that the law protects kids from “stigma.” It actually protects them from being treated differently for a “not good enough” reason. In Brown v. BOE, separate was never going to be equal enough to treat kids differently based on their race. What Chief Justice Warren said was part of the explanation of why separate could not be equal. But it was not a holding that the Constitution prohibits making kids feel inferior. The 14th Amendment simply does not protect our feelings. If there is a good enough reason for treating a group differently (again, how good depends on the group), then that group may be treated differently no matter how it makes them feel. Now, perhaps you don’t disagree with any of this, but, again, it is a common misunderstanding that it sounded like you shared.

  • 79. Chris  |  February 17, 2012 at 11:15 am

    “School segregation wasn’t overturned because they thought it was wrong to separate blacks and whites”

    Um, yes, the 9 white dudes who decided it DID think that.

    Your “well, it continued in other areas” point is irrelevant, as the Supreme Court can only rule on cases before it–they couldn’t take Brown v BOE to overturn anti-miscegenation laws, as the matter wasn’t before the court.

  • 80. RL Julia  |  February 17, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Angie – I am coming to believe that there are actually a good number of high school options for the “average” CPS high school student- however you probably aren’t going to find them at the northside SEHS’s. Check out the high schools with IB programs (starting with Lincoln Park but continuing on the Senn, Ogden, Taft, etc…) Look at Von Steuben, CICS Northtown, check out all the new programs at Roosevelt High School (still a work in progress). These schools are probably not going to deliver on the cache side of the equation but they do provide motivated students with a solid education and opportunities – plus a shot at a higher class rank.

  • 81. RL Julia  |  February 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

    @77 hs mom – you might enjoy this report on charter school teacher turnover.

    http://www.crpe.org/cs/crpe/download/csr_files/pub_ics_Attrition_Sep10.pdf

  • 82. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Here’s more information – from Vanderbilt, which conducted it’s own studies as well as compiling data from other national studies, including the one in RL Julia’s post (which was funded largely by the Charter School Association and Bill Gate’s foundation who is a big proponent of charter schools).

    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/schoolchoice/documents/briefs/brief_stuit_smith_ncspe.pdf

  • 83. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    If you didn’t watch Arne Duncan on the Daily Show last night, this is a spot on review/recap of the show:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/jon-stewart-tries-to-talk-to-arne-duncan/2012/02/16/gIQATPNVJR_blog.html

  • 84. HS Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks for that info. Took a quick peak. From some of the reports that I’ve read, it seems that Charter success varies widely from state to state. Not sure how Wisconsin would compare to Chicago. I also wonder about comparisons of charter to avg public schools. Does the avg PS include the special programs and selective schools that are not located within the target area of charters and require performance for admission? It would seem that charter goals to provide quality/safe eduction to students regardless of academic standing might be difficult to measure that way. In fact, I’m not sure exactly how success is measured for charters. Is it always in terms of how it compares to regular public schools.

    One thing that prompts me to inquire about teachers is that I’ve heard about and seen documentaries about these fabulous dedicated teachers that are brought in especially because they really push the kids and work wonders with needy kids that want to learn. It was also my understanding that the pay scale is lower for entry level teachers but that there was more opportunity to excel with performance. I am NOT saying that this does not exist at the regular public schools and we personally have had some phenomenal teachers. I’m just saying that I have heard and read that it also exists at charters and that they are not just training grounds for teachers to move on.

  • 85. HS Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    @83 – Not clear if this summary is all charters in the US or about Illinois more specifically Chicago. Not that I don’t care about education in general, it’s just that it is known that national numbers do dilute the good success that Chicago has.

  • 86. HS Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    sorry about spelling and double negatives etc in my posts. Not that I don’t want to fix it (!!!! grammar police)

  • 87. Eric  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    @78 Mom

    Things can sound different through typing. I’m generally a positive person, and lately I’ve been getting what seem like harsh responses (*cough Chris). When it comes down to it, we all have our ideals and mine are grounded in equity and to be clear not at the cost of anyone. This does not mean everyone in one boat because of Brown.

    Equity in the system will benefit everyone. If you see the arguments from Brown, the psychological research argued that segregation negatively affected whites too. Kids learn from one another. The more diversity, the better.

    The defense argued that segregated schools produced George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, and Frederick Douglass, so in these cases separate schools were not shown to have a negative impact on learning.

    But it was found that the psychological effects of segregation for the kids in Brown did have a negative effect on their academic well-being and mental health. Herein lies the discrimination, the inferior feelings due to segregation led to negative effects on their ability to learn. This is why separate wasn’t equal.

    A child segregated from a class for behavior (this needs to be defined, I think this is where the confusion lies) may feel inferior as the kids in the Brown case did. Now if we’re talking ADHD, if applicable, 504 and IDEA have strategies for this that are the “least restrictive”, saving classroom removal for more urgent cases.

    Again, to the original point, mom2 sounded like she was advocating for sacrificing the majority to help the minority. My point is that our country still believes in some part in the American Dream and that everyone should theoretically have access and protection.

  • 88. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    @HS Mom. I remember reading a piece in Catalyst about Chicago charter school teacher turnover, and it was quite high. If I get a chance and I find it I’ll post the link.

  • 89. mom2  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    “Again, to the original point, mom2 sounded like she was advocating for sacrificing the majority to help the minority. ”

    Actually, I was advocating that we help the majority by taking a small minority and, after all other measures fail, moving them to a place where they can get additional help and not disrupt the majority from learning or being safe. No sacrificing at all.

  • 90. Chris  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    ” I’ve been getting what seem like harsh responses (*cough Chris).”

    Right back atcha, man.

    What’s your concept to achieve equitable educational opportunities for all? Big picture, fine grain, whatever, but (a) applicable to CPS, and (b) not requiring a major budget increase (b/c that’s just unrealistic–give any of us a 50% budget increase, we could come up with 101 great ways to improve the schools).

  • 91. Chris  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Mom2: “Actually, I was advocating that we help the majority by taking a small minority”

    Given Eric’s other points, I think he just typed that backwards–else Brown isn’t terribly relevant (I don’t think it is, anyway, even tho I think understand Eric’s point in raising it).

  • 92. Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    @87 Eric — I think I have a better understanding of what you are saying now, and I, for one, was not trying to be harsh in my response. I actually don’t disagree that trying to do as best we can for as most kids as we can is a worthy goal, which is what you seem to be calling “equity,” if I understand. I just disagree that Brown or the Constitution requires this. Sure, it may have been that the effect on the kids of a segregated system (their feelings of inferiority) might have meant that separate could not be equal and that meant groups could not be treated differently because of their race. But my point is that this does not necessarily hold true when we are talking about treating kids differently based on other reasons like disability, disruptiveness, etc. Race gets the highest level of scrutiny. Other categories do not. Feeling of inferiority might not factor into the analysis of whether a discrimination (differential treatment) is or is not constitutionally acceptable for these other categories. Again, I am just talking about what is or is not prohibited/required by the Constitution. I am not talking about what “should be.” Obviously, it would be better if no kids were made to feel inferior. But, again, balancing the interests of the majority and the minority is not always simple.

  • 93. Eric  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Great so we’re all on the same page!

    Chris, big picture, I feel our policies need to go back to being compensatory to support equity ala ESEA rather than promoting “excellence.” The high-stake-testing-accountability regime are leaving too many kids in the dust and teacher accountability has lead to cheating scandals in several cities. These are problems that I don’t have solutions for, but I can tell they’re not working which is a start…

    I believe discourse among parents is good as well as critically picking apart the failing status quo.

    Small picture, applicable to CPS, I think we need to reign in the Mayoral control and get more parent involvement in decision making at CPS. Like with the longer school day, they don’t seem to be including parents in the discussion. Also, teachers should’ve had a say in who their CEO would be.

    Further we need to review our curriculum and need teachers to be aware and knowledgeable of our students cultures and situations.
    Not impossible.

    As probable middle-class educated parents, we need to invest in our neighborhood schools and turn ’em around ourselves. Our kids will bring these schools up. I understand that this is a big ask…

    Look at Nettlehorst. In my day that place wasn’t great, but parent involvement changed it. I don’t know the specifics, but it’s clear that parents played a role. Many neighborhood schools are “underperforming” because the more able parents are sending their kids to SE or magnets, which are good schools, but this is to the detriment of the neighborhood school. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all walk to school?

    There are tons of things we can do. Will they work? I don’t know, but its got to be better than what we have. We’re all dreading high school and freaking out so our kids get into 1 of 5 SE high schools (I think I may push for Chicago Ag).

    Ask any parent, no one is happy with CPS. They might be happy with their respective schools, but they know the system is in bad shape. I would argue that this is because parents voices are not included in the decision making.

  • 94. Eric  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Also, wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to compete with each other to get a good education?

  • 95. Chris  |  February 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all walk to school?”

    What do you do about a neighborhood where the relatively small number of bright kids with involved parents would be “stuck” with a relatively large number of the “problem” kids and/or kids with borderline negligent parents? This wouldn’t be a hypothetical in an all-neighborhood CPS.

    “go back to being compensatory to support equity ala ESEA ”

    ??? ESEA includes NCLB, so I really have no idea what you’re getting at there.

    “There are tons of things we can do. Will they work? I don’t know, but its got to be better than what we have.”

    Well, increasing charter options also falls into that hopper of (1) something we can do, and (2) dunno if it will work. Same thing with the longer school day, same thing with the alleged computer-learning, same thing with lots of stuff that factions disapprove of. Hard to imagine a (reasonably likely) cahnge that would make things meaningfully worse. Which is why strident opposition (no calling you strident, E) to these proposals comes across to some (many?) as obstructionist.

    “Ask any parent, no one is happy with CPS. They might be happy with their respective schools, but they know the system is in bad shape.”

    Well, I think that the two are not in total overlap, as many parents compartmentalize pretty well. But that’s not really material, just noting that there *are*, indeed, parents who are happy with “their” CPS, but not ignorant of the overall problems.

  • 96. Sped Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    @75 Mom “IMHO, it is fairly naive to think that “all” kids can be served in the same classroom. This has nothing to do with “civil rights,” just reality. The suggestion that the “majority” should sacrifice their education to incorporate “everyone” is a bit disturbing, in light of the undeniable fact that not every child can have their needs met in the exact same classroom as their peers. If we haven’t learned that kids have different needs in all our time reading this blog, then let’s shut it down!”

    The most misunderstood concept in sped is “appropriate placement.” As reflected above.

  • 97. Sped Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Angie: “Only if charter schools receive the equal access to funds, specialists and equipment necessary to educate the special ed students can they be required to do it.”

    …if it’s proved by the school that they cannot deliver. They have access to the funds, if they wish.

  • 98. anonymouseteacher  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    @82, Thanks for posting the Vanderbilt study that found charter school teachers tend to leave the profession at much higher rates than typical public school teachers tend to leave. Given that 50% of all teachers quit the profession entirely within the first 5 years of teaching, that’s a lot of new, inexperienced teachers in charters.

    I have known many people who have taught in charters over the years. 2 have had a very good experience and will likely stay where they are at and all the rest had pretty bad experiences.

    My three main problems with charters are: a plethora of inexperienced (under 7 years) teachers, some uncertified teachers, and generally low test scores. (scores may be higher than a neighborhood school, but still way too low for me to ever consider for my own kids). I feel very strongly that new teachers can be so full of energy and good ideas. I also believe based on my own experience over nearly 20 years in teaching that no one, and I mean no one is ever truly great at the job until at least 5 years into it. I don’t want my kids to have to have year after year of new teachers. Course, some regular CPS schools have the same problem because the burn out rate or attrition rate is so high. It is a concerning problem and one that most major urban areas either handle very badly or ignore.

  • 99. Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    @93, Eric: I’m not sure we are on exactly the same page, but I do get better your point. I would just counsel you to speak in terms of what is “just” or “equitable” or “should be done,” rather than what violates the law or the Constitution. Again, it absolutely does not violate the Constitution to make any kid feel bad because he/she is treated differently What violates the Constitution is if there is not a good reason to treat a kid differently. In many cases, e.g., disruptive kids, there are plenty of good reasons to treat a kid differently. That said, although no law prohibits treating the badly behaved differently, of course it makes sense as a matter of policy to wonder what to do about them. I don’t necessarily have the answers on that front. But I, for sure, believe the answer does not include impinging on any other child’s chance to learn.

    @96 — I am not sure what you mean by your comment at all. Perhaps if you elaborated, we could engage in dialogue.

  • 100. Eric  |  February 18, 2012 at 2:54 am

    @95 Chris

    “Hard to imagine a (reasonably likely) cahnge that would make things meaningfully worse. Which is why strident opposition (no calling you strident, E) to these proposals comes across to some (many?) as obstructionist.”

    We’re in bad shape. There are several issues where parents don’t have a voice, and I feel that voice is necessary to change what’s going on. Things can get worse if we continue to deprofessionalize teachers and allow business leaders to impose their view of what works without credible evidence.

    This is why we need our best teachers and principals involved in the decision making. What education experience does Rahm have? What track record does JCB have? This is why we need to reign in Mayoral control of schools.

    “??? ESEA includes NCLB, so I really have no idea what you’re getting at there.”

    You left out this important part of my quote – “rather than promoting “excellence.” (excellence=standards movement=NCLB). If you check out the original ESEA, you’ll see Title I, which is funds for districts with high amounts of low-income kids. It’s been found by the USDOE that poverty impacts student achievement. Jencks also found that socioeconomic diversity in school increased the rate of learning for low-income black kids. These are reforms we should be looking into.

    @99 Mom

    “Again, it absolutely does not violate the Constitution to make any kid feel bad because he/she is treated differently”

    No one is arguing that. My argument like Justice Warren and Thurgood Marshall is that segregation demoralized black kids affecting their ABILITY to learn. The negative impact on learning is the discrimination, the not equal. The Supreme Court deemed that this violated the Constitution via the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th.

  • 101. HS Mom  |  February 18, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Eric – I think we need to reign in the Mayoral control and get more parent involvement in decision making at CPS. Like with the longer school day, they don’t seem to be including parents in the discussion

    There are decidedly more than 2 different views on this. How would you involve parents so that policy that effects our kids is implemented in an expedient fashion and we can actually reap those benefits? There is also the issue that schools (teachers and admin) do not want parents involved in policy decisions unless of course it happens to coincide with their own philosophy. Why pin it on the Mayor? He is doing what he’s supposed to do – step in, create and make the opportunities happen for the people of Chicago.

    Ask any parent, no one is happy with CPS

    That statement is an absolute and another point that parents would have varying viewpoints about.

  • 102. Gwen  |  February 18, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Why pin it on the mayor? Because he’s in charge. He calls the shots on CPS, the turnarounds, the closings, all of it. He appoints the School Board and selects the executives at CPS.

  • 103. Sped Mom  |  February 18, 2012 at 10:48 am

    @99 Mom

    Regarding “The most misunderstood concept in sped is ‘appropriate placement.'”

    If you’d like to fill up on sped knowledge, here’s a quick backgrounder on the concept of appropriate placement (think of those “disruptive” students with disabilities — disabilities that have been identified or not — in CPS classes…where they are likely not to have appropriate supports or placement):

    1. http://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=3212

    2. http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/lre.osers.memo.idea.htm

    Many times, the lay conversation about “disruptive” students assumes that the law requires all students to be educated in a general classroom, no matter how a student’s behavior interferes or impinges on the other non-disabled students. The law does not require that.

    However, getting CPS to follow the law (much less understand it!) can be, um, futile.

  • 104. Sped Mom  |  February 18, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Here’s one more backgrounder on disruptive students: http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/ltrs/behavior_obligate.htm

  • 105. HS Mom  |  February 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    @103, great article, thanks. I’m not sure if they ever answered the question about school responsibility for behavior disorders. One key point is that there needs to be a psychological diagnosis/analysis. Many ordinary and especially low income families do not have that. Another point is that kids with behavior issues many times are perfectly capable of learning and becoming better citizens but often times need some basic tutoring that cannot possibly be supplied within the classroom. I wish more kids could get that kind of opportunity.

  • 106. Sped Mom  |  February 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    The school would be obligated to do an evaluation for disabilities that impair his ability to be education (academically, socially, emotionally), and if an education-impairing disability is discovered, then the school/school district would be obligated to meet his needs. So, evaluation is the gateway. When CPS obstructs a student’s referral or access to evaluation, then the options for help come to a screeching halt and the track gets shifted towards prison. So, pay now or pay more later, as a society.

  • 107. Mom  |  February 19, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    @100, Eric: Not to beat a dead horse, but there is a huge difference between what is constitutionally problematic when directed at a kid because of his race and what is constitutionally problematic when directed at him/her for any other reason. Any sort of demoralizing kids, affecting their ability to learn, etc., may mean separate may not be equal when we are talking about segregating based on race. It is just a complete misunderstanding, however, to think that segregating based on any other reason violates the LAW (as opposed to ideals, or morals, or what have you). The reason is that the Constitution just does not “care” as much when the law treats people differently based on reasons that are less “unchangeable” than race. The problem I have with what you are saying is that you seem to be extrapolating what was constitutionally suspect from Brown v. BOE to other situations. But, as far as I can tell, no one is talking about treating kids differently due to their race, just their status as problem kids, etc. In other words, extrapolation is not justified because we are talking about completely different distinctions. Being a disruptive kid is just not at all a protected class, and it is not illegal to “segregate” those kids. I just think you do a disservice to your point when you speak in terms of what violates the law as opposed to what we should care about due to morals, ethics, our own self interest in integrating kids with differences, etc., etc., etc.

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