New School Schedule – Plan those late August vacations!

March 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm 233 comments

CPS just announced the calendar for next year.  We will start after Labor Day again (for regular schedule) but there are 10 extra school days within the year (I will not be mentioning this to my son.)  I’m not sure where that puts us when combined with the longer day but I’m sure we’ll be at the MOST SOMETHING in the country since that is the new motto of Chicago.  Looks like Columbus and Pulaski have lost their holidays.  Columbus has been getting a bad rap lately and I guess Pulaski has a street.

Both CPS Regular (R) and Early (E) track calendars will see the following changes:

Info from the press release:

  • Ten additional days of student attendance for a total of 180 days.
  • More full, five-day weeks from 20 to 29 weeks for Track Rand from 22 to 29 weeks for Track E. This provides less interruption to instruction and more consistency in scheduling for parents.
  • Reducing holidays from ten to eight, changing Columbus and Pulaski Days from holidays to student attendance days. CPS is encouraging schools to use these days as opportunities to acknowledge the contributions made by Columbus and Pulaski by educating students on their roles in our country’s history.
  • Conversion of report card pick-up days to student attendance days. Students will now attend school on these days with schools ending three hours earlier to allow parents the opportunity to meet with teachers and discuss their student’s performance.


Specific changes to the Track E calendar include:

  • The school year will begin on Monday, August 13, 2012 and end on Monday, June 17, 2013. Both days are full days of school for students.
  • Placement of vacation breaks (intercessions) in the Track E calendar will now fall at the end of academic quarters to minimize interruptions for students during the academic quarter.
  • Schools will be closed for the following breaks (intercessions):
    –     Fall break (intercession): closed from October 15, 2012 to October 26, 2012
    –     Winter break (intercession): closed from December 17, 2012 to January 4, 2013
    –     Spring break (intercession): closed from April 1, 2013 to April 5, 2013. This will now be one week shorter than this year.


 Specific changes to the Track R calendar include:

  • The school year will begin on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 and end on Monday, June 17, 2013. Both days are full school days for students.
  • Schools will be closed for the following breaks:

      –   Winter break: closed from December 24, 2012 to January 4, 2013

      –   Spring break: closed from April 1, 2013 to April 5, 2013


The new calendar was also developed to more strategically support teachers, and in turn, improve student learning.  The five professional days at the front of the year will allow teachers the opportunity to learn and plan for the implementation of the new common core curriculum, as well as its instructional framework. The professional days at the end of each quarter will provide opportunity to review student data and plan for the next quarter. In addition, the increase in full weeks gives teachers a greater opportunity to impact students through their lessons without constant staggered breaks in learning.

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Another Way to Look at the Tier System (and more data!) LSC Deadline is Friday 3/23. Does your school have candidates?

233 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mimi  |  March 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    What a crap! Why we cannot have one calendar for everyone. They just mess up people’s lives by having two tracks. How track E students can learn if they have so many breaks plus they are stuck home because Park District has no camps to offer. There is no common sense in CPS!

  • 2. Jerry  |  March 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Wow. They finally did something sensible.

  • 3. CuriousGirl  |  March 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Track R looks good. It does make sense for many families.

  • 4. chicagodad  |  March 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Report card pick up will be a mess. AND
    “The professional days at the end of each quarter will provide opportunity to review student data” meaning that the time will be wasted on data inputting for the BOGUS test based evaluations the teachers are expected to do since CPS doesn’t want to pay a separate testing company and risk citizen outrage when that whole expensive mess falls apart like it has in NYC and DC and everywhere else it’s been tried. Then CPS will have another lie to beat the teachers over the head with. They figured out it’s OK to waste teachers time, but wasting the tax payers money on the testing nonsense will get CPS leadership fired. It’s all about the adults in CPS leadership. BTW, this insanity is what lead to the cheating scandal in Atlanta. Thanks CPS!

  • 5. Christine  |  March 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    This is all provided, of course, that we aren’t faced with a teachers’ strike come September.

  • 6. chicagodad  |  March 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    There will be a strike since what the board has put on the table is a massive insult to teachers AND a direct threat to our children’s education. Chicago will leapfrog over Wisconsin when the cities parents learn the truth about the intent and consequences of the boards positions. Imagine, Rahm the DINO and Snott Walker in the same boat for the same reason. He should have stayed in DC.

  • 7. Dunning Mom  |  March 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    I am very disappointed that we are still on two tracks. What are families to do who have children on two different tracks? What a nightmare. I really thought they were going to fix that.

    Other than that I am glad there will be school on Columbus Day and Pulaski Day.

  • 8. cpsmama  |  March 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    I’m glad that we’ll start after Labor Day, but I’m annoyed about Spring Break being the week after Easter.

    Historically, CPS Spring Break has been week before Easter. This has been the schedule for as long as I’ve been a CPS parent (12 yrs) and it was my understanding that it was in part so that large numbers of teachers/students didn’t take off Good Friday. Maybe that is less of a problem nowadays. Who knows.

    I wonder if CPS sought out any parent or teacher opinions on this schedule. I kind of doubt it.

  • 9. Mom  |  March 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    It’s hard to believe anyone is complaining about their kids being in school more days and doing away with silly random days off. (Unless you are a teacher and this impacts your vacation days.)

  • 10. cps alum  |  March 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I can’t believe they made Good Friday a teacher institute day…I’m not a CPS teacher so I don’t know the policy, but I wonder if they will even allow teachers to take that off as a personal day.

  • 11. CPSstudent  |  March 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    As a student in High School, I can honestly say that I am becoming very weary with CPS and their constant restrictions and changes…*sigh* they just don’t know what it is doing….but of course, nobody ever listens to the students to hear what we have to say anyways…we’re just forced along.

  • 12. TMH  |  March 17, 2012 at 12:09 am

    @ 8 and 10 Good Friday is a teacher institute day for that reason – some teachers do take it as a religious holiday and it is too many to cover with substitues. Sometime before, CPS took it away and put it into Spring Break – it used to be a holiday.

    @ 9 I am a teacher and not complaining about my own children going more days, but please understand these “random days off” were not “impacting my vacation” – teachers work 8 of the 10 days added to the calendar already (except for Columbus and Pulaski Days).These were report card pick up and professional development days.Now report card pick up has been shortened – good luck getting to the teacher to actually talk about your child. And professional development ??? Guess I don’t need that any longer as long as all students pass the test!

    Thank you Chicagodad! I do not want to strike, but am VERY concerned the direction CPS is going. I have been a teacher for 21 years and loved every day of my job until now. I feel like I am defending the teaching profession every day. We are professionals and this new contract is turning the job into an assembly line. Bring them in, shove test prep at them, and send them out college ready. And if you can’t do it in a year, we will turn your school around, bring in inexperienced workers, and turn them around after a couple of years too.

  • 13. cpsemployee  |  March 17, 2012 at 6:12 am

    I work at a Track E school and I was really hoping that any changes to the Track E calendar would be in shortening or taking away the Fall break. It is so disruptive to go on vacation for two weeks so early in the school year. Right when you’ve finally hit a good rhythm in your classroom – rules are understood, students have settled back from the summer, interesting projects going on, etc – there’s a break and you have to start all over again when they return. I wish a week had been taken from the Fall break instead of the April break.

  • 14. nope99  |  March 17, 2012 at 7:08 am

    12 getting to the teacher on report card pickup day is never a problem since many parents don’t show up.

  • 15. cps alum  |  March 17, 2012 at 7:31 am

    @14- depends on the school… Some schools have close to 100% turnout of parents.

  • 16. Mom2  |  March 17, 2012 at 8:19 am

    I’m ok with the new calendar, but ending school on a Monday will most likely result in many kids skipping that last day. Summer camps start that day.
    As far as reort card pick up, what are the current required hours for teachers to be available and how will that change next year?

  • 17. RL Julia  |  March 17, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Personally I love the proposed calendar. Most workplaces don’t get Good Friday off and everyone deals. I am sure this will be the case at CPS as well. Love that my kids will potentially be going to school for full weeks. Always thought having two full days to pick up report cards was sort of a waste. Quite frankly, if you are the sort to actually pick up the report card, you probably can figure out a time to do so. Thought having the last day of school on a Monday was probably a huge mistake but whatever. Anything to get rid of no school November and February.

  • 18. MomandTeacher  |  March 17, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I am a teacher and choose to teach not for the holidays, vacations or the unpaid summers off. I teach because I value education and want to make learning exciting for children. With that said I cannot see how this schedule along with a longer school day will benefit students who are already worn out by test preps and after school enrichment programs. My first graders will be exhausted and they’ll lose precious family time. We’re worried about children getting obese and families losing their family structure, but we’re praising a schedule where children are indoors for a lengthy period of time?
    Parents, just think about this – Do I as a parent get quality time to spend with my children or will they be too tired and drained? Do I want my child to grow up with fond memories about test prep and being inside a classroom or activities shared with me exploring the city, sitting around reading together, or playing games together?

  • 19. RODENTFACE  |  March 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

    I too am disappointed that there are still two distinct calendars. A single hybrid calendar would have made much more sense for students and families. The fact that CPS willfully imposes two separate calendars on any family, much less thousands of families, is a huge problem.

    More important to me and my family than 10 additional school days (to which I do not fundamentally object) are issues surrounding testing, grade entry, curricula and appropriate staffing. Resolving these four issues would have done far more to improve education in Chicago than simply adding more of the same old stuff.

    How much more learning time will students lose to excessive and oppressive testing and test prep? It’s already far too much. This testing does not improve any child’s education. (And it should not be used to evaluate teachers either – see NYC “value added” studies.)

    The school year ends up to a week after final exams are completed and after grades are finalized. Requiring students to stick around in school once those two things are completed is an admission that at some level CPS is a massive babysitting organization.

    All Chicago students deserve a full, rich, and broad curricula, not kill-and-drill prep, rote memorization, and test-taking strategies. CPS can add all the time it wants to the school year, but denying Chicago children the type of education, and equally as important, the type of human development opportunities the mayor’s children receive keeps many families out of CPS and families out of Chicago in perpetuity.

    And, finally, there are thousands and thousands of students without full time teachers or final class schedules until the 5th or 6th week of school. Chaos reigns supreme in many understaffed schools – always neighborhood schools, by the way – until CPS determines in its infinite wisdom whether to add more full time staff. That’s an embarrassment and a disservice to neighborhood school children and their families.

    Resolving all four of these problems would go much further in improving the lot of Chicago education than a new calendar. Unfortunately, I do not see CPS addressing any of these issues any time soon – at least not without major protest and massive insistence from parents, students, teachers, administrators, or the CTU.

  • 20. new to conversation  |  March 17, 2012 at 9:12 am

    How about getting rid of report card pickup (for many parents) since parents can get grades 24/7 on Parent Portal? Save paper, ink, energy constantly printing out thousands of report cards and progress reports (8 times a year!). Parents I know get instant phone/text updates when average goes below a preset number. Report card pickup can be specifically for parents do not have computer/phone access to Parent Portal OR parents who really need to meet with teachers. I guess the teachers could also specifically request to meet with parents on those days also.

  • 21. Relieved mom  |  March 17, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I personally like the new schedule for track R. I didn’t want to start before Labor Day and getting rid of the excessive number of short weeks is a positive (although skiing on Pulaski day was always nice with no crowds). Not sure why everyone is jumping to the conclusion that those days are to be dedicated to test prep, but whatever. Understand people unhappy if their kids are in different tracks…that would stink. I wouldn’t mind track E if our grade school weren’t 100 years old and a sauna in august….

  • 22. EdgewaterMom  |  March 17, 2012 at 9:44 am

    @19 “The school year ends up to a week after final exams are completed and after grades are finalized.”

    Why do they hold final exams and finalize grades a week before school ends? If the school year ends later, wouldn’t exams also be held later?

  • 23. RODENTFACE  |  March 17, 2012 at 9:53 am

    @ Relieved mom
    Neighborhood schools are deluged with test prep demands from principals and network chiefs. The same is not true for magnet schools and gifted centers. Unfortunately, most neighborhood schools do an ungodly amount of test-prep and testing. So, while that problem is not universal it is wide spread.

    @ EdgewaterMom
    I have no idea why final exams and final grades are completed before the end of the actual school year. It makes no sense.

  • 24. LR  |  March 17, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Man, I’m just getting more and more bummed out that we ever moved from our Catholic school to CPS. And it’s not because of our school. Our school is fantastic. It’s the leadership at CPS that bums me out. I would say for everyone to not only plan your August vacation, but you might as well plan your September vacation, too, because there will be a strike. I agree with the person above who said these changes (longer day/year with no additional compensation) are a total insult to teachers. My guess is we end up with a 6.5 hour day and 5 additional school days. But, my prediction is that is going to be agreed to a few weeks into the school year, which seems counterproductive.

  • 25. Mom  |  March 17, 2012 at 11:20 am

    @24, with Catholic schools closing left and right, is it not possible to go back to your school? I’m not being sarcastic, I’m just wondering if once you leave a Catholic school it is possible to go back.

  • 26. allanfluharty  |  March 17, 2012 at 11:24 am

    As a high school science teacher, I like the idea of having more time for developing student conceptual understanding, particularly for inquiry activities that require more than 3 or 4 days. The additional 5-day weeks will help. However, the tradeoff is less time for teachers to complete the myriad of out-of-class activities that support successful in-class experiences for students. The loss of the two holidays, parent-teacher days, and professional days will mean less time for lesson planning, grading, preparing laboratories, sponsoring student clubs and sports, contacting parents, meeting with students, pursuing additional credentials (like a masters or national board certification), decorating rooms with student work and bulletin boards, etc, etc. The reality of teaching, which is never mentioned by the “full school day” crowd, is that teachers spend as much or more time supporting good teaching than actual time in class.

    Taking away the time that teachers need to prepare for a excellent teaching may force several outcomes. With less time to prepare, teachers will have less time to prepare lessons. Those new to teaching will be especially impacted, since they have not developed their “teacher file cabinet” of lesson plans. Longer time in front of students will mean later nights for teachers to grade an lesson plan, at least for those teachers who want to maintain a high level of classroom support. This could cause more teacher burnout with fewer opportunities to recharge (fewer holidays). Teachers will need to take personal days during student instruction days rather than on the lost professional development days. Students will also become burnt out due to the additional series of full-day 5-day teaching weeks.

    It will be the exceptional teachers who take the new in-class time requirements and keep students engaged. Experienced teachers who have already developed curriculum plans that work will be better prepared. New teachers will have a much more difficult time.

  • 27. CPSstudent  |  March 17, 2012 at 11:45 am

    A lot of things CPS puts out there must look so nice on paper…we’ll see.
    @18 Thank you(: I love teachers. Thank you so much for the hard work. people talk lots of trash about teachers but it’s never true. It takes a lot of guts to teach.

  • 28. Really..w/ Seth & Amy?!  |  March 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Does anyone in CPS land realize that longer school days across this country consists of:

    1. Equal minutes for each subject meaning.. Art,gym,music consist of 50-60 mins of instruction & not 42 mins? There’s your extra 20-30 minutes. CPS please add so we can be on same page as rest of country.

    2. Transitional time for students to move from period to period (3 mins per period/class) …typically 7 periods in a day =  your 21 mins extra

    Sidebar: Where do you think CPS  teachers get the minutes from to take your kids across the school building to fine arts, lunch, restroom, recess? These minutes are not currently in your child’s CPS  instructional school day but they magically appear! CPS, please disclose to public so we can be on same page as rest of country.

    Systems w/ longer school days have this time built into the SCHOOL DAY….thus your extra 21 minutes!

    3. These systems also have a home room period where teachers have to perform admin. duties like attendance, lunch count, breakfast in the classroom & announcements =your extra 10 mins. CPS please add/disclose so that we are on same page as rest of the country.

    CPS embeds this into your child’s 1st period which is typically READING!

    All of this equals the extra 60 minutes embedded into most systems  for a typical school day. 

    CPS has always had the same minutes allotted for core subjects as the rest of the country. What CPS has not done is implemented items 1-3 above into their school day…the minutes needed for logistics(event-planning 101)!

    I don’t object to longer school days (b/c items 1-3 are necessary) but full disclosure of what a typical school day looks like across the country is warranted!

    People need to realize that logistics warrant a longer school day across America so that the allotted instructional minutes can be obtained!

  • 29. cpsobsessed  |  March 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    @Really: I don’t know that I’m clear on your point. That we do need up to an hour more per day but that cps needs to make it for enrichment and transition time rather than academics?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 30. anonymouseteacher  |  March 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    @20, I hear you, but reality is, most of the city doesn’t have access to computers, to internet, and some don’t have access to the English language on a computer. We could, however, save printing costs and time in schools with higher income levels and figure out who needs a copy and who doesn’t, though. And while CPS doesn’t follow the common sense model of a true conference day, here is what SHOULD be happening in schools:
    For report card pick up day, report cards should go home the day before actual conferences. Parents can review these at home and return with questions. At the actual conference (which should be 20-30 minutes long), teachers should be presenting intensive and specific data to parents on their child’s progress. Test results, student portfolio work, detailed observational notes would all be part of this. Then parent and teacher together, and child too, can all see where the weakness and strengths are, and develop a plan to remediate and enrich both at home and in school. (not just in school)
    A follow up conference can be scheduled at that time.
    This is what many teachers at my school do, though, in an abbreviated form.
    But, as always, what should be happening in CPS and what does happen are two different things. Why, oh why, oh why is this not mandatory? Why aren’t teachers trained to do this, given an entire day to prep everything required to get this kind of conference ready, without kids (I do it for a good week or two ahead of time, the prepping, on my own time like many other good teachers do–it takes a good ten hours to prep if you do it correctly), and then given two days of time to meet with parents without children present? The pay off in the lost instructional days would be worth it and since we are extending the year, why not add those days onto the end? (it would have to be paid for though)
    We have lots of excellent data from all these tests and we are not utilizing what we have very well.

  • 31. elementary teacher  |  March 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Love the new calendar – especially for Track E – all schools should have gone to this track (maybe now all smart principals will). As teachers we complain about how our teaching is so often interrupted with days off: PD, report card pick up, holidays, etc. It looks good and sensible to have uninterrupted time now. Many of the things we complain about have been taken care of here. And breaks at the end of the quarters – how novel! Plus I love the week of planning at the beginning of the school year, and that we won’t have to make up snow days if needed!

  • 32. cpsobsessed  |  March 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Hear, hear AnnymouseTeacher!
    I am always amazed at the lack of ongoing dialog between teachers and parents, unless the parent makes a major effort.
    Espesically if we acknowledge that many cps parents don’t have the education or skills to work with kids at home, the teacher giving suggestions for what-how the parent can focus on could be huge.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 33. tier 4  |  March 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    The line to talk to math teachers at Lane is very long on report card pick up day–even during the afternoon. I see it more as a conference day than a grade pick up day. It will be impossible now.

  • 34. Common Sense  |  March 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    The way they set up report card pick up it is basically saying they don’t want parents input and participation. Isn’t that what makes students sucessful?

    Once again – parents don’t count to CPS!

  • 35. cpsobsessed  |  March 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Honestly, the report card pickup was so inconsequential, you get 10 min max. Perhaps they require the teacher to make an appt with any student who has certain low grades, or x percent of the class who need special discussion?
    There really should be a plan for more ongoing dialog that’s more than the 10 minutes.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 36. Mom2S  |  March 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    @30, so there is no online grade system (eschool,etc.) at ANY CPS school? Not even SE HS’s? @ 35, if CPS had this online system and it was effectively used (key words) this would facilitate your ongoing dialog between parents and teachers. I used eschool in a suburban district (I taught at the middle school level. I am now a SAHM) and even though it was a pain to get used to it was very helpful to keep communication going between myself and families, in my opinion. I would post grades for all types of assessments on a weekly basis, my students could check their grades, see what missing assignment they had, and email me to ask about the assignments, and parents could ask questions as well based on the information posted. Progress reports and report cards were posted to this website as well. Not all families asked questions and some may not have checked the website too often but it was there if needed. My kids are too young for elementary school just yet so I do not have experience with CPS. Clearly I have much more to learn.

    Sorry to get this thread off track a bit. I was just taken aback by what anonymouse teacher wrote.

  • 37. 8th grade mom  |  March 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    @36 –
    There is an online system. The problem is that many chicago families do not have access to the internet – or are even internet literate.

  • 38. Mom2S  |  March 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    8th grade mom, thanks for clarifying.

  • 39. tier 4  |  March 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Teachers have called and emailed me and I have emailed. It is still nice to sit down and have a chat and get to know the teachers. Surprisingly, at a school Lane’s size, that has been easy. We also had a morning this year where we followed out child’s schedule. i find it invaluable.I took the morning off of work.

  • 40. Really..w/ Seth & Amy?!  |  March 17, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    My point is the longer school days across this country has nothing to do with teachers teaching more minutes in academic subjects.

    Systems across this country have the same minutes in core subjects as we do, the difference is they actually use the minutes to teach. CPS elem. teachers are taking minutes from core subjects to walk the entire class to lunch, art, recess, restroom & pick them up. Do you know how long this takes for a class of 30?

    Now that a longer day is being imposed it should reflect this. If you don’t see it reflected in your child’s schedule one should ask..b/c that means the time to escort children is coming out of a core subject when u think they’re getting 60 minutes a day & they are not.

    If it is not reflected than what has changed? Kids are still being cheated out of instructional minutes.

    I doubt very seriously that we will see an improvement in anything but the crime rate at a certain hour.These new minutes are not going to instruction unless you see it in the schedule.

    Current CPS elementary example…lunch ends at 11:30, math is from 11:30-12:30, art starts at 12:30. This math class never gets 60 mins. of instruction b/c of transition time.

  • 41. A Parent Considering Homeschooling  |  March 17, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    @40 I agree with you completely. I volunteer in a primary classroom at the start of the school day and I arrive at 8am. By the time they are done eating breakfast, cleaning up, taking attendance, taking lunch count and collecting random papers it is usually about 825a before the first lesson of the day begins! The first 30 minutes of the day are completely wasted.

  • 42. Common Sense  |  March 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    At 41 – why is breakfast served during the day?…wouldn’t it make sense for this to be optional to students that want it? Many parents are using the school system as free daycare. We need to take back the schools. They are to educate our children. Not raise them. Teachers should not be expected to do all this!!

  • 43. A Parent Considering Homeschooling  |  March 17, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    @ Common Sense From what I understand breakfast is served in every CPS school. It started last April because they felt all students deserve to start off the day with a full tummy even if they didn’t qualify for the free breakfast program. It is optional. A box of sack breakfasts sits at most entrances to the school. If they want to, kids grab a sack containing a bowl of cereal, a piece of fruit and a carton of milk. They eat it when they get to their classroom. At least half, if not more of the students in the 3 classes I volunteer in eat breakfast. I agree that we need to take back the schools. I used to be a teacher and I am so glad that I get to stay home and raise my kids now instead. Teachers are expected to do so much more than teach these days.

  • 44. LR  |  March 17, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    @25: Yes, it is possible to go back, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. My daughter is now in an Options Program tracked 1-2 years ahead of grade level. So, she would either need to skip a grade or be on some sort of independent study plan for the next 6 years. Plus, I am not comfortable moving her back and forth. As I said, it is not the school – we love the school. The teachers are great, the parent community is involved and the academics are a good fit for her. It’s the CPS leadership that annoys me. If all this business was going on 2 years ago when we were making a decision, I probably would have said, “No thanks.” But, the train has left the station. As far as I’m concerned, we are now part of CPS for better or worse.

  • 45. Common Sense  |  March 18, 2012 at 8:37 am

    CPS leadership needs to start listening to the teachers and the parents. Schools will only be sucessful when the start teaching each community/each school individually. What works in Rogers Park might not work in Garfield Park or Little Village. Once CPS, the Mayor and Board start to understand that all schools will be more successful.

  • 46. Strike  |  March 18, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I hear people mentioning the word teacher strike. I think but could be wrong that a strike can’t happen until around December and that’s if 75% of the membership vote for it (supposedly it will be tough to get 75% but not sure why). SB7 has manadated all of these arbitrations and timeframes before declaring a strike. I think the clock doesn’t start ticking until the end of the current contract (ends June 30th). Strike clock starts on July 1st. I would need a teacher or someone from the union to clarify my understanding though.

  • 47. anonymouseteacher  |  March 18, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I think you could be right about the deadlines, and you are correct about the 75% vote. What I can tell you is from what I know is that presently, I don’t believe it will be difficult at all to get the 75%, depending on what the final offer is from the BOE. I also think that if a final strike vote isn’t called until late fall or early winter, that will only increase the likelihood of a strike because then staff will have been able to feel the effects of the longer day and see the results of what could end up being a smaller paycheck than this year. (if they don’t give raises at all and if teachers are asked to pay more into insurance, which is what is being proposed now)

  • 48. Disgusted  |  March 18, 2012 at 10:57 am

    My personal opinion is that we are a spoiled society. I grew up going to Catholic school in the 70’s and we rarely had days off and turned out just fine. My kids seem to have a day off every other week in the CPS. My advice for the unhappy teachers is to be happy that yopu have such a great paying job or else find another one. There are many people out there with degrees in education that would would be happy and thankful to take a job like yours. This is exactly why I despise unions.

  • 49. Common Sense  |  March 18, 2012 at 11:18 am

    At 48 – this is just a union issue. It is CPS taking our children and telling us what is best for them. It is CPS saying that they can do a better job with our children then we can. I don’t know about you but I had children so that I could be a parent. I want to give my children all the opportunities that they can dream up. I don’t want them sitting idle in a classroom for 7.5 hour – they are not adults, they do not need to work a full time job.

  • 50. Former Catholic School Kid  |  March 18, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I grew up in Catholic school in the ’70s, too….and we had one day a week when we got out at 1:15 (for the entire district, not just my school) so teachers could do the equivalent of “professional development.” We also had off every religious holiday (many of which are not holidays in public schools, such as the aforementioned Good Friday).

    I’m fine with the new schedule, so long as I get a “real” opportunity to talk to my kids’ teachers at least twice a year. I don’t schedule conferences outside of report card pickup unless there is an “issue” to discuss….so in most cases, the report card pickup is the only time I get to just check in with the teacher for more than 2 minutes at drop off or pickup.

  • 51. Disgusted  |  March 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Wow I wish I went to your Catholic school. We had one half hour lunch and got out at 3pm everyday and the nuns were aloowed to hit us with rulers and yard sticks. If a teacher tried that today the parents would be crying about there little darlings being abused. I have noticed a big in opinion between the teachers I have spoken to. It seems the newer teachers are mostly for the longer day and the old hangers on are against any change. Change is good isn’t that what Barry Obama got elected on?

  • 52. Disgusted  |  March 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    * big difference in opinion. I really need to proofread before sending. Yeah I saw the couple other typos. I am edumucated. LOL

  • 53. Vet  |  March 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Disgusted, I’m one of those “old hangers on” to which you refer. A more accurate description would be experienced master teacher.

    Salary may be one of the reasons – conscious or not – for disagreement among new teachers and veterans concerning the longer school day and school year.

    New teachers in CPS are paid very well compared to other urban districts and the rest of the Chicago metro area.

    Veteran teacher pay falls in the middle or near the bottom. As a result career earnings just don’t stack up.

    After 13 or so years veteran teachers not only earn less than their urban and metro counterparts they also earn less money each year because, though faced with continually higher insurance costs, they no longer receive pay increases for experience.

    For the record, though I think it’s stupid to have two tracks, I don’t mind the new calendar at all. I just want to be paid for the extra hours and the extra days. It would be nice if CPS, parents, and the public realized that a teacher’s job goes well beyond the technical contractual work hours.

  • 54. SSMomof2  |  March 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    As for report card pick-up, at the CPS SEES School where I teach it is exactly that– a pick-up. We are encouraged to make appointments for more in-depth, less-harried conversations with parents as requested and/or needed, which my colleagues and I do.

    @Disgusted, I am one of the “old hangers on” (after teaching for 14 years) as you refer to in your post. I am against a 7.5 school day not as a teacher, but as a parent. It is too long. As a professional, I am appalled at being told to do 20-30% more work for 2% more pay. @Vet is right. CPS is a great place to start a career, but not so great after 13 years or so. No one is in education to make money– but we need to make a living. If I am required to live in the city, as I am currently as board policy dictates, and I want to live in a safe neighborhood, I have the right to be compensated fairly so I can continue to afford my mortgage, etc. We will see what happens this summer. I don’t want to strike, but what choice do we have?

  • 55. Limbo  |  March 18, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    @53- I am a vet also. Many people do not understand that there is more that extra work hours and no pay at stake.Thanks for clarifying about the pay scale and how the final step is at 14 until you reach 20 years then you can go to Step 15.

    I also think its stupid to have two tracks. I recently heard that this is a proposed calendar as we were told not to make vacation plans in August until the School Board votes on Wednesday. Is this just a rumor or have others heard the same? I went to the CPS website the agenda for the meeting is not posted as of yet. I am assuming that the agenda has to be posted 48 hours prior to the meeting.
    Basically what I have heard is that there may not be a Track R and that everyone may go on one common track similar to Track E. Anyone else familar with this “rumor”?

  • 56. mom2  |  March 18, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    We and many other parents I know will leave the city entirely if they force us to move to a track E schedule. Don’t they understand the impact that would have on working families and kids that have set summer jobs and schedules? Ridiculous! Want another Detroit? That is the next step toward that type of city.

  • 57. Wondering  |  March 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    @56, fill us in on Detroit. What do you mean by that type of city?

  • 58. Another Vet  |  March 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I teach high school and Track E would be absolutely brutal for our families. I’ve surveyed my classes (about 400 students daily) which are a pretty fair representation of the general student body. About 65% of them either work or serve as primary caregivers during the school year. About half work or try to work over the summer to help support their families. Track E would do serious economic damage to these families. Summer jobs are crucial for our community. I just hope our new principal next year understands that and doesn’t try to force us into Track E.

  • 59. beege  |  March 18, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    my wife is a teacher at a CPS school. they have 20 minutes for lunch. thats including the time to and from the cafe….. these are 4th grader….. and oh well you get it

  • 60. mom2  |  March 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    @57 – little to no diversity anywhere in the city, larger issues with crime, worse graduation rate and other educational statistics, 12 percent of the population have earned bachelor degrees or higher, poorer throughout the city, etc. etc.

  • 61. SW Side Momma  |  March 18, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    @Limbo – we heard the same rumor regarding everything folding into a “modified” Track E schedule districtwide.

    I don’t have a problem with the new calendar, but I’d like to know how they are going to fund this. With the longer day and year, I’d think teacher salaries should reflect this increase.

  • 62. LR  |  March 19, 2012 at 7:51 am

    @59: I’m not sure what you are saying. We already have a 6.5 hour day (which is what most people, parents and teachers) want. We have a longer lunch and 2 recesses. Our CPS school is in the top 1% in the state,

  • 63. mom2  |  March 19, 2012 at 8:50 am

    LR, some schools are still doing the option of having the teachers lunch at the end of the day. Those schools have about 10 minutes to gulp down food for lunch and another 10 minutes of recess (after transition times). If they were forced to have a 6.5 hour “in school” day, that would be a good start.

  • 64. klm  |  March 19, 2012 at 8:52 am


    Bottom Line: It’s very difficult/impossible to come up w/ a schedule that works for all schools and situations within a system like CPS –with all the diparities in achievement (some of the very best schools in IL and some of the very worst) and socioeconomics (some of the poorest and most blighted urban neighborhoods in the country and some of its wealthiest and most vibrant).

    Virtually all schools with an “at risk” population of students could use a 7.5 hour days in order to compensate for the fact that kids frequently are already behind when they start school in K, often aren’t getting as much cognitive stimulation at home, (i.e., all the situations/reason we lament on this site when discussing disparities, the achievement gap, etc., AD NAUSEUM [um, ..Guilty!]).

    What’s CPS supposed to do? Say, “OK, we’ll let parents in Lincoln Park, East Lakeview and the Gold Coast have the power to decide about the amount of hours that are best for THEIR CPS schools, since they’re educated, have some money and just plain know better than most Chicagoans (especially low-income ones) about how to raise a child properly. For the rest of you, though, you have to do what we say!. Don’t you understand how much your kids need the extra help due to your familty situation and the fact that you’re poorer, less educated and obviously can’t parent as well as upper-middle-class people?”

    Now, I know that’s not what anybody here is saying or even thinking. However, we need to remember that if CPS is making a policy decision that it genuinely believes is in the best interest of kids (and I think most of us believe this, too, especially when we think about all that kids in the ghetto have to overcome), in terms of actual learning, reduction in the risk of dropping out, etc.

    If CPS lets certain schools off the hook in terms of prescribed policy, but not others, how will that look? The “how, when and why” of the situation becomes potentially very sticky. Why should some parents have the power to say no to 7.5 hours, but not others?

  • 65. mom2  |  March 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I am confused about something…If CPS is really thinking of making everyone go to a Track E schedule, then how can anyone explain their logic? I hear over and over again about how we cannot start a track R schedule on the last week of August (like most suburban schools) because so many families at CPS go away to Mexico or other places at the end of the summer and they just cannot get their kids back to school until after Labor Day. Well, if that is true, how on Earth would they expect kids to start on August 13th?

  • 66. cpsobsessed  |  March 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

    KLM – excellent point! What about a test score cutoff though? You meet x percent of kids meeting state standards, you can get cut to a shorter day?
    Although guess which schools teachers will flock to? (Nothing against teachers, I certainly would choose the shorter day if the $ was the same.)
    But point well taken.
    Although I think some of us still question whether “more of the same” will even work in those worst schools. If there were an extra aide who could double the teacher contact and help kids individually or in small groups I can see that positive impact. But I’m still not sold on whether a 7.5 hour days alone will achieve success.

    I know that given that CPS has no extra money or revolutionary ideas they feel like it’s worth a try, but what a drag that all schools have to participate in this experiment.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 67. Limbo  |  March 19, 2012 at 9:48 am

    A little off topic but….An Aide in the classroom in CPS? Good luck with that! Are you aware that teachers will have to fully justify why a special needs student should have one. It has to now be approved 20 days prior to the IEP meeting, so there will be many hoops to jump through to get the students what they need. I was visiting an inclusive high school the other day and was sad to hear that the transition support staff had been cut! SO much for teaching those life skills the students need but instead force them to take two years of a language which is a struggle for students with moderate LD. Seriously?

    Now back to the topic at hand. This whole calendar/extended school day is a mess! I think CPS is treading lightly on this issue because enough parents are probably displeased enough with the whole Selective Enrollment HS process. They are trying to implement too much too fast. I am not opposed to a Track E schedule but make the learning environment conducive for students. Maybe instead of setting aside $250K for signing bonuses for principals (a nationwide search) they should invest that in some of the schools. I think a practical approach should include the park district so that they could coordinate programs with the schools. Its would be a win/win situation for the students, the parents, and CPD (which has its own cutbacks and money issues). But nevermind taking a logical approach, and listening to the voices of your constituents, its all about flexing some of that political muscle! I won’t name any names…

  • 68. klm  |  March 19, 2012 at 10:05 am


    I personlly agree with you how there should be exceptions for schools that are actually doing well (Look at Lincoln Elementary –it beats all K8 schools in Glencoe, Hinsdale, Lake Forest and Winnetka on the ISATs with a 6.5 hour day, why ‘fix’ what’s not in any possible way ‘broken’?), BUT what’s the definition of a “good” school? What exactly would be the “cut-off” score/%? Is this test racially/culturally biased (I don’t, but ask parents in Lawndale or Garfield Park and you’ll get a different answer, in many cases)? Who gets to decide this?

    Look at how many protests their have been on the West side and South side over the recent closing plans for schools that are clearly bastions of low-achievement/academic failure. Some people will always resent the idea of some “outsider” coming in and telling them that that the school where they send their kids is not “good”, even if the rest of the world finds their kid’s school is truly “bad”. For some, it’s just another way they are being put upon by “the system”. There have been lawsuits against CPS over perceived civil rights violations regarding the closing of worst-performing schools, since the schools involved are virtually all 100% African-American.

    Look at how Jesse Jackson (Jesse Jackson, Jr., went to St. Alban’s –an expensive private school in DC considered among the best in the country, BTW. I guess ‘ghetto’ public schools are OK for other peoples’ kids, but not his own son) attended these rallies and used rhetoric about race, class (he actually used the words “racial apartheid”), etc. in support of keeping these crappy (standards-wise) schools OPEN, and you’ll understand what CPS is going up against. It’s mind-boggling to any college-educated parent, but identity and class politics are a reality in Chicago and sometimes trump what objectively seems like a move to help those most in need (e.g., poor kids in the inner-city in this case).

    Accordingly, different rules for schools in the Northside with lots of white and non-poor kids than for schools with lots of poor black and latino kids is pretty dicey, no matter how much it makes sence, objectively, in many cases. I wouldn’t want to be the CPS official explaining to certain “community leaders” how certain schools on the Northside (the ones with lots of white kids from ‘money’ families) get to change the rules, but other (poor, mostly non-asian minority) ones do not.

    I’m not saying it’s right not to let individual schools decide about 7.5 hour days (I believe most ‘good’ don’t need it!), but I understand how potentially difficult it could be for CPS.

  • 69. Skinmom  |  March 19, 2012 at 10:34 am

    @62 I’m curious what CPS school you work at or have children at that is in the top 1% in IL?

    @KLM you can’t fault parents for working hard, earning a good living, living in a more desired area of the city and speaking out in order to ensure their children receive a good education. There are plenty of parents who live in disadvantaged areas but take an interest in their children’s future. In turn, these children work hard and attend school with the very same children that you referred to as living in the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park etc. One doesn’t need to go to college in order to raise intelligent children.

    I have heard rumors about getting everyone on the same track but it isn’t re: Track E. I’ve actually heard that Track E has not been successful overall. I don’t see CPS changing everyone to Track E. They would risk too much.

  • 70. Mia  |  March 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

    @cpsobsessed: You may find the 10 minute conferences at Report Card Pick-Up Day “inconsequential” but that is your viewpoint – many other parents (myself included) count on that as a twice-a-year in person touch base with the teacher, and getting rid of that flies in the face of Rahm’s “i want to form a partnership with the parents” to improve public education. But then again, nearly everything else he and his appointed CEO and Board are doing is sending the same message, top down imposition of longer days, school closings, etc.

    For me the conferences aren’t just about grades (of course I can see those on parent portal and on the report card itself) but a chance to hear from the teacher how they perceive my child, both good and bad, what they’ve noticed, etc. I am lucky to have two straight A students with no discipline problems, or other flags that would cause me to schedule separate conferences. For me to schedule a conference with the teacher separately to discuss “issues” that don’t exist makes little sense – so I appreciate the two 10-minute windows I get to chat with the teachers about my kids. I’d rather have school end one day later and get back our full report card pick up conferences (1/2 day each). Plus – does anyone remember when CPS had tons of 1/2 days – one of the most useless things for kids – they rarely if ever did any work on those days!

  • 71. TwinMom  |  March 19, 2012 at 10:43 am

    @klm: absolutely excellent points. I wonder, though, if CPS could make the day 6.5 hours, but then allow parents to opt IN to 7.5 hours on a school-by-school basis? Do you think that would be less dicey? And I wonder whether parents from underperforming schools would approve an opt-in to 7.5 hours. I don[‘t know; haven’t thought it through but it just popped into my head as I read your post.

    Of course I realize that my “opt in” idea would require CPS to change its policy to a 6.5 hour norm (away from the 7.5 hour plan), but I can dream a little for the sake of hypotheticals. 🙂

    And as for next year’s schedule, I am happy that we’re not starting until after Labor Day. That last week or two before Labor Day is when we have the most fun in the areas surrounding Chicago (burbs, SW Michigan, SE Wisconsin), doing all the things that are too crowded in the rest of the summer. I guess I don’t understand the push to start earlier if we can add more days to the year without doing so. Is it a child care issue?

  • 72. cpsobsessed  |  March 19, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Oh God yeah, I was talking about fantasy land when I mentioned aides in the classrooms.
    To me, that plus a 6.5 hour day has more potential than one teacher at 7.5 hours.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 73. LR  |  March 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

    @69: Bell. I think it is top 1%…or close. It is ranked somewhere in the 20’s and I thought there were just over 2600 elementary schools in Illinois, right? And about 750 middle schools? At least the ones ranked in the Suntimes. Anyhow, even if my estimates are a little off, the point is still the same. 6.5 hours works for us. Furthermore, I don’t think the difference between 6.5 and 7.5 hours is going to make a huge difference for low-performing schools. I don’t know if anyone has looked at the 6.5 to thrive FB page lately, but there was an interesting chart with length of school days by city. And generally, the cities with the longest days also had lower graduation rates. With the money it is going to take to fund a day that is that long, why not put it towards other things that are proven to be effective (as CPSO mentioned, an extra aide or smaller groups)?

    By the way, I just called the CPS Office of Access and Enrollment (or whatever the former OAE is called now) and talked to someone named Jerry. I had read in the options for knowledge guide/application materials that the SE elementary letters were to be mailed out March 23rd (this Friday). He said that they were not going to be mailing them out until “the week of March 26th.” I asked specifically what day of the week and got a wishy-washy answer: “Maybe Monday, but more likely Tuesday or Wednesday.” Just wanted to let everyone know when to start stalking the mailman : ) I just hope they get here before vacation, or I’m going to have to get someone to open my mail.

  • 74. LR  |  March 19, 2012 at 11:11 am

    PS – I like the “opt in” idea.

  • 75. OMG  |  March 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Our school had a mock vote a month ago and these were the results:

    All 84 members voted.
    80 in favor of a strike.
    3 not in favor.
    1 undecided.

    Lets assume the undecided person is not in favor of a strike vote. You still have 95% in favor of a strike.

  • 76. Mayfair Dad  |  March 19, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I suspect the 7.5 hours will be negotiated down to 6.5 hours. If the opening bid was 6.5 hours, the CTU would be clamoring for status quo. Nobody ever accused Rahm of being dumb.

  • 77. Negotiator  |  March 19, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Mayfair Dad,

    The length of the school day is negotiable only if CPS decides to put it on the table. They have stated repeatedly that they will instead impose the 7.5 hour school day and longer school year students, parents, and teachers.

    Do you really think CPS will open up the length of the day to negotiations when they are not required to do so? As much as I would like to see that occur, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. Mayor Emanuel is not the negotiating type.

  • 78. John  |  March 19, 2012 at 11:58 am

    @75 was it a secret ballot vote, or a raise your hand vote?

  • 79. klm  |  March 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm


    I agree completely! I grew up poor, but my own mother did whatever she could to get me educated, given her particular crcumstances. I’m not for a moment suggesting that being a particular income or from a particular family structure or ethnicity makes or breaks one’s “shaping” in terms of future education or circumstances. Far from it!

    I have extended A-A family on the Southside. There are single mothers that drive their kids way up to parochial schools on the Northside in order to get their kids a good education (back-and-forth, every day during rush-hour traffic). I’ve known single, working-class mothers that come home tired, but suck it up and get out the flashcards, act ‘delighted’ (when really, they’re so exhausted they want to veg in fron of the TV) to go over school work (and these are the people whose kids eventually do well –one’s a freshman at Wellesley, another a junior at Swarthmore, one studying mechanical engineering at Michigan State –yeah!!!) . How many inner-city African-American grandmothers/aunts (or grandfathers and uncles for that matter) take over parenting (and do a good job) when needed? Anybody seen the movies, “Waiting for Superman” or “The Lottery”. There are so many inner-city parents that are very aware of education, want what’s best for their kids, etc.

    This is what makes the reality of “bad” public schools so heart-breaking. Many inner-city parents know that their kids are getting a sub-standard education, but they don’t have the resources to move or pay in order to get their kids a better school.

    THEN AGAIN, some parents just assume the closest school is just fine, or at least would be if only CPS/the “system” would just spend more/care enough (or at least that’s what they’ve been told by ‘community leaders’, including Jesse Jackson, so enough said, right?) . If the school isn’t OK, then society owes them more money to improve things (like kids get at New Trier!) –it’s another way we’re being “victims” and who doesn’t want to fight against that?!. There’s a sub-section of people that will resent anybody telling them what to do about their kids’ education (WHO are YOU to tell me what to do?!) and will become involved in some sort of quasi-martyr “struggle” to support the “community schools” (beacuse, after all, who doesn’t want to support their ‘community’ –CPS should spend the money to make them good like they do for [white] people with money on the Northside, not shut them down!) and keep them open, despite what “outsiders” want to do.

    This is not an easy subject, despite what seems like a “No Brainer” position for any college-educated, middle-class+ parent (myself included). Democracy is messy at times and, accodingly, so is public education.

  • 80. Another broke and barely making it Tier 4 mom  |  March 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Talk of a strike is pretty funny. How much more ill will do teachers want to generate?

    So many of us are struggling terribly, doing double the work with no extra pay (due to lay-offs), losing our homes, etc. Teachers still have jobs yet want to strike? Talk about telling parents and kids to eff-themselves.

  • 81. Mayfair Dad  |  March 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    @ 77: if it means looking like the peacemaker and avoiding the strike, he will. The real issue is the compensation, not the length of day. If CPS ends up with a 6.5 hour day, Rahm still keeps his campaign pledge and looks magnanimous doing it. CTU will still work a longer day and a longer year for less money. Rahm wins.

  • 82. cpsobsessed  |  March 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Hm, good point MFD. Altohugh again, if we’ve wasted all this friggin effort so he got a bargaining edge, I’m not gonna have happy feelings about him.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 83. chicagodad  |  March 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    @68 Look at the situation at the Robert Emmit school on the west side and you will understand one of the many valid reasons that parents in that and similar communities are outraged at the whole turn around agenda.
    To summarize, a school that outperforms all charter schools in the city gets no money for badly needed repairs of their building while charters have the red carpet rolled out for them. And, BTW, the whole turn around “strategy” is a giant pantsload.
    These days, anything that Brizard or the board says is something to beware of.

  • 84. chicagodad  |  March 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Chicago has 7 of the top 10 elementary schools in the state. All because of those lousy, lazy, overpaid teachers. I hate kool aid.

  • 85. chicagodad  |  March 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Sorry, here’s an easier link to the study on turn around’s.

  • 86. RL Julia  |  March 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Half of the stuff CPS has proposed this year I’ve actually been o.k. with – its just the way that the message gets rolled out that is so offensive. Good point about 7.5 being a strategy for 6.5. I think you are on to something there.
    @79 klm- I think you hit the nail on the head.

  • 87. Skinmom  |  March 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t feel that is an accurate list bc it only uses standardized test scores. To get a better and more accurate picture, one would need to look at more data. Avoca is one of the top schools in the suburbs. It’s a very small school and is not K-8 like CPS schools. The suburbs don’t concentrate on the ISAT or “teach to the test” as CPS tends to do. Thus, once again, looking only at test scores doesn’t give an accurate picture.

    As for the longer day, I’m getting the feeling that this may be a strategy Rahm is going to use to his advantage.

  • 88. chicagodad  |  March 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    @87 Excellent point, Skinmom but that being said, I know about some of the top Chicago schools on the list. They are good and could be even better without all the testing and with much smaller class sizes. JUST FYI for everyone, elementary schools on our military bases out perform our regular public schools. No surprise how they do it either!

  • 89. OMG  |  March 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm


    Secret Ballot

  • 90. mom2  |  March 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    There is a way to agree with 80 and 83. I love nearly all of the teachers that my children have had over the years. They work hard, they work much longer hours than the normal school day (that is obvious by how much time they are at school and then go home to grade papers and do lesson plans, etc.). I wouldn’t trade most of them for anything.

    However, that doesn’t mean that I think CTU is correct is demanding more money for more hours worked. The city is broke and the economy has been terrible for quite a while. While most teachers in Chicago have gotten yearly increases and have a good pension, the rest of the people I know have faced layoffs, or if they are still employed, they haven’t had increases in years (not even cost of living). Their medical insurance has gone up, they are working longer hours with less help, taking on other jobs from those that were laid off, etc. Teachers get paid a salary and sometimes that means you work until the job gets done even if the hours increase over the day, weeks or year.

    Teachers work hard, work much longer than most people realize, do wonderful things for our kids, are paid well for what they do and may have to sacrifice like the rest of us. End of story.

  • 91. HS Mom  |  March 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    @86 – If nothing else, test scores do provide a measurable form of comparison. From the article:

    the Chicago Sun-Times has based its exclusive rankings of schools on average scores on state achievement tests, not on the percentage who meet state standards — a measure that has come under criticism.

    What other uniform methods of comparison would you suggest?

  • 92. Angie  |  March 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    @83. chicagodad: “Chicago has 7 of the top 10 elementary schools in the state. All because of those lousy, lazy, overpaid teachers.”

    Actually, it’s because of the top 1% of the students that manage to test into those gifted and classical schools.

  • 93. Limbo  |  March 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Hey! Tell me how many of you would work longer hours for less pay. Let’s not forget that teachers were not given the 4% that was part of the last contract. But, there is money for grants, six figure salaries for individuals who have minimal background in education, money for charter schools (who receive public ed funds). Who foots the bill for all the “turnaround schools”? Most likely these will be reopened as charters getting CPS money.

    @80- I guess you have not heard but many teachers will be fired with the recent closings of schools. Well I know of teachers that lost their jobs last year due to positions being cut and guess what? No pay, no benefits.
    You think they might be struggling? I know of a few…
    It is unfortunate that you think the strike strictly has to do with a pay raise! It is the matter of principle! It is about equity for teachers and students. Do you have any idea of what the teachers are asking for in their contract? Did you know that CPS is trying to make more cuts to SPED programs by eliminating positions such as aides? If you knew about the programs being cut and the number of students affected by this maybe your perception would change. This advocating about what is right for the students in Chicago.

  • 94. edb  |  March 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Many, many of us work longer hours for no extra pay, or less pay. It’s not uncommon.

  • 95. mom2  |  March 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    @92 – I think your points make it very clear that CTU leadership is doing a very poor job of communicating what they want. If what you say is true, and that what they really want is making sure there are aides for SPED programs and listing all the other things like that which affect students in Chicago (enough teachers to meet the needs of the students, music teachers, art teachers, working bathrooms, air conditioning, etc.), more people would be behind them. They and their various bloggers have got to stop bringing up “working longer hours for less pay” and other things that are simply just issues that affect teachers money in their pockets. This is where everyone moves into separate corners. We all want to be paid more for working more, and we all want to get the raise we were promised but the promise wasn’t kept, and we all believe that the people at the top of any organization are getting more money than they deserve, but we all don’t get to have it that way most of the time.

  • 96. marrs96  |  March 19, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    #90 – For everyone I hear saying that test scores are at least a way of measuring “something” I remember the most basic of math concepts.

    1+1=2 & 2-1=1

    Now try doing the same analysis while seeking to couple test scores to measuring poverty (+1/-1), at home educational attainment (+1/-1), parental involvement (+1/-1), # of evenings facing hunger (+1/-1), and a myriad of other poverty and education measurements (+100’s/-100’s).

    No offense, but the numbers the test scores represent clearly do not represent the complexity of the education system that reflects deeply critical social issues in many Chicago’s communities. Its really at best an apples to oranges comparison, at worst its an apples to red-hots/orange soda for diner comparison for many children and their schools.

  • 97. LR  |  March 19, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    @Mayfair Dad: I totally agree and think a 6.5 hour day is what we will end up with, but it won’t come without a battle. I’m hoping that the battle is brief, but I don’t know that we will get that lucky.

  • 98. Limbo  |  March 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Just to clarify CTU is keeping teachers current on what has been happening. They are making more of an effort than other leadership has in the past. They send emails and make phone calls weekly. Teachers even received a list of all the “demands” for lack of a better word, which was very long. There is a formal proposal on the CTU website that can be viewed but I am unsure whether the general public can access it. I have not seen much coverage on the major networks but I have seen Ms. Lewis on Chicago Tonight and she was also on CNN talking about the situation here in Chicago. I think she has to be careful about what is said due to legalities because there are usually CPS lawyers listening in. I believe in order for the general public to become informed you need to speak to teachers that are informed. Many are not. The little bit you hear about CPS through the media never really touches on the real issues at hand. In order to get the public support, the public needs to know what is happening.

    @95 I totally agree with you about the scores! Schools with limited resources can not be expected to perform the same as the Gifted and Classical schools that have usually have what they need. Having a child at one of these schools, I must say that I am envious of the parent involvement especially as I watch it decline where I work. I have had 3 separate parents make 3 appointments (each) and not call or show up in the past month alone. Where is the equity?

    As far as test scores…. this is the most tangible way they have at tracking student achievement and most of it is due to the NCLB. In order to receive federal funding CPS has to adhere to the guidelines this includes making AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). AYP is also used to determine which schools go on the watchlist to be potential turnaround schools. If schools test scores don’t improve over 3 years they become part of SES (Supplemental Education Services) which allows for outside tutoring companies to come into the school and offer afterschool tutoring. If you only knew how much these companies (Huntington, Cambridge, etc) make per student and what incentives they offer ….we are all in the wrong business.

    Talk to a primary teacher you will be surprised at how many assessments are given to students multiple times a year, ( DIBELS, DIBELS Math, Scantron, TRC, ISAT(3rd graders) this does not include reading or math tests that are aligned with the taught curriculum.

    @94 I understand what you are saying about getting paid what you are worth… I have been back to grad school 3 times in order to improve my practice. It was not about the money. For me, it is just as important to be respected for what I do because it is important (don’t we all?). I could have left and gone to the suburbs years ago but because I was educated from K-12 in CPS schools I felt it would not be right to go somewhere else.

    Still trying to keep the faith…

  • 99. HS Mom  |  March 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    @95 Not offended. Those are all issues that keep schools off the “best of” and on the “failure” list – wrong or right. What I see is a list of schools with similar attributes (middle class or better, more than likely involved parents, rigorous program etc) ranked by score on state tests. Looking past the top test in schools I see a number of charters and neighborhood schools in Chicago that do quite nicely when compared to their suburban counterparts. It’s nice to see. It’s also nice to see that Chicago has the opportunity to test into the top schools in the state, maybe even the country. @86 mentioned that ranking was inaccurate because a school in Glenview did not get a higher than 32 rating. I’m wondering how comparable schools should be evaluated if you were to look at more than test scores?

  • 100. HS Mom  |  March 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    @98 – did not mean “charters” meant “magnets”

  • 101. cps alum  |  March 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    @91– True but #11 on the list is a neighborhood school.

  • 102. Mom  |  March 19, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    In my view, the “top schools in the state” and “country” mean schools that have the best students, NOT necessarily that any student magically placed into these schools will turn out to be in the top 1%, performance-wise — far from it, is my guess, in cases of the socially engineered admits. So, there is a bit of naivete to all of this. Parents who don’t contribute or show up are indeed a problem for any school. But it’s not going to help those kids by thrusting them into a school environment above their readiness.

    My guess– the vast majority of kids from the lower tiers who get into top schools are on par with the Tier 3 and 4 kids in terms of their educational backgrounds, income advantage, ability to speak English, attendance at excellent elementary (probably gifted/classical) schools, etc. In other words, they have no claim to any particular disadvantage besides living on a bad block (if the entirety of Rogers Park can be claimed as such!). These kids are getting in just fine. But why not admit the kids who (at the margins) do better than others who live in a better census block rather than kids who perform more poorly? We cannot say for sure that these kids’ income is an advantage — since there are reported instances of poor Tier 4 kids not getting in over rich Tier 1 kids.

    I guess it goes to the purpose of the SE schools. Is it to provide an environment that best helps those kids who are ready to succeed? If so, this system is broke. Or is it to provide opportunities for those kids who are smart but not quite so advantaged? If so, this system doesn’t work, either. Those kids are getting shut out by the brighter, richer kid who live in their tier. And/or they really have to reach down to fill the class based on geography. (NSCP is surrounded by Tier 4 neighborhoods; to fulfill its “quota” it has to reach way down from far-flung communities.) Why should have closer SEHSs (Kings, Brooks,etc.) not be an option, since all of the Northside is essentially tier 4? In any event, something is wrong.

  • 103. cps alum  |  March 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    I did a little digging and I thought this was interesting…. I looked up many other schools on the Suntimes list and looked up the % low income on the ISBE website. Apart from gifted schools all had very low percentages of low income students (Surprise surprise) look at the numbers in some of the top suburban schools as low as 2%. Does any CPS school have less than 10% low income?

    #5 Washington Gifted 32% Low Income
    #7 Braeside 2%
    #9 Iles * (selective) 28%
    #12 Highlands 3%
    #13 Romona 3%
    #15 Grove Avenue 12%
    #16 Half Day 2%
    #17 Lincoln 5%
    #18 Ravinia 6%
    #19 Prairieview-Ogden North 11%
    #20 Brook Forest 4%
    #22 Orrington 18%
    #22 Congerville 13%
    #24 Kildeer Countryside 2%
    #25 The Lane Hinsdale 2%
    #26 Walker 4%
    #27 Fry 3%
    #28 White Eagle 2%
    #28 John Laidlaw N/A
    #30 Hough Street 13%
    30 Ivy Hall 6%
    32 Avoca West 8%

  • 104. Mom  |  March 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    In the last sentence above, please delete “have.” Sorry for sloppy editing.

  • 105. anonymouseteacher  |  March 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I would be curious to know, of schools in Chicago with 90% or more low income students, which are the highest performing? All schools with 10-25% low income numbers should do astoundingly well and if not, something is seriously wrong.(and all “test in” schools should have 100% meeting and really, 100% exceeding, my opinion) But, in my mind, it is the schools with high percentages of low income kids and high-er test scores that are truly great.

  • 106. Disgusted  |  March 19, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    I hope Rahm fires any teacher that goes on strike. These teachers are ungrateful. Many of their students have parents that are out of work or making half of what these teachers make.

  • 107. RL Julia  |  March 20, 2012 at 7:18 am

    I am pretty sure that teachers didn’t get raises last year – at least the ones I know didn’t and I am not certain when was the last time they did. Additionally, because of the budget cuts, the working conditions for many if not most teacher has declined in the past two years for sure- less support staff, guaranteed larger classes.

  • 108. Vet  |  March 20, 2012 at 7:22 am


    Yes, many if not most of the parents of my students make half of what I make or are out of work. On the other hand, I am fortunate enough to have over 7 years of professional training – a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, national board certification, and dozens of graduate credit hours – in addition to 10 years of highly successful work as a full time professional in the field in which I now teach.

    By comparison, it is unusual at my school for both parents to have attended high school much less graduated from high school or attended college. Many of them are wonderful parents and many of them work extremely hard to support their children and families, but they simply have not had the opportunity to pursue professional training and careers. Obviously, we’re working together to give their children newer and better opportunities than their parents had.

    So, the income differential you cite really should not be a surprise to you or anyone else.

    I am tremendously grateful for my job, for my amazing students, and for my supportive local administration (a rarity in CPS). Still, I worked 2,700 hours last year for CPS. Next year, the Board wants to increase my hours by about 26% in exchange for a net loss in pay. I’m sorry, but that is simply unacceptable to me. It should be unacceptable to parents, too.

    That 26% increase in work hours, unfortunately, will be accompanied by a host of negative outcomes: less prep and collaboration time which means I will be less prepared and less knowledgeable about my students and their individual needs; less one-on-one time with my students, fewer after school activities, a decrease in curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular enrichment; at my school at least, an increase in test prep and rote memorization due to a growing emphasis on using test scores for teacher and administrator evaluations; a decline in opportunities in the arts, sciences, languages, and the humanities. This list could go on and on and on.

    So, you see, when I vote to strike it will have to do with far more than my salary for next year. It may not seem that way, but the simple fact is that our esteemed legislators have functionally prohibited teachers in Chicago from negotiating (or striking) over any issue but compensation.

  • 109. Mayfair Dad  |  March 20, 2012 at 8:12 am

    @104: here is a great little school that comes close to your description:

    – small school
    – amazing principal
    – parents who care

  • 110. HS Mom  |  March 20, 2012 at 8:28 am

    @104 – This particular list ranks schools by actual average score not % that meets or exceeds standards. I think the figures in 102 demonstrate that lower income Chicago schools can and do outperform some of the best suburban schools. Obviously, many of the suburban schools with less than 25% low income are not doing astoundingly well. I know of a few not on this list. Of course this is only 50 schools with most of the top 10 being selective.

  • 111. RationalRationing  |  March 20, 2012 at 8:31 am

    107 – Seriously? 2700 hours? If you worked all 52 weeks of the year without a summer off, without breaks for Columbus and Pulaski and Lincoln, etc., without a break, then you averaged 52 hours a week. This is 16 hours per day, spread out over 170 instructional days. You deserve not only a raise, you deserve a medal!

  • 112. Vet  |  March 20, 2012 at 8:40 am


    16 hours/day? I’m not *that* crazy! 2,700 was my annual total hours including work at home plus summer time prep, collaboration, research and summer projects with my awesome students.

  • 113. RationalRationing  |  March 20, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Well, then it looks like you spread it out over the entire year and averaged over 7 hours a day, 7 days a week! Bless you! We need to be 100% behind teachers like you, without a day off in the year.

    Many of us just see very different things, even at the selective enrollment high schools and elems. No differentiated instruction, the bare minimum when it comes to extra currics like MathCounts, the GradeSpeed website only updated on the last day before the paper reports need to be printed…so it’s easy for us to forget (especially if we only have high school or lower educations) that some of you are literally working of the year.

  • 114. edb  |  March 20, 2012 at 9:06 am

    @104 – I think Chopin also fits the bill:

  • 115. chicagodad  |  March 20, 2012 at 9:12 am

    @92, do you think that if that top 1% of kids didn’t have great teachers that could encourage and challenge them that those kids would do just as well? Do you think that the LSC’s at those schools who have really smart parents on them and high involvement of well educated parents in the school community in general would put up with ordinary teachers or principals? A smart kid with great potential cannot fulfill that potential under a lousy teacher. They end up bored and hating the whole idea of school.
    @106 Teachers have a right to strike, and this is about way more than their paychecks. You seem to think that no one should make more than others who have been harmed by the downturn inflicted on the economy, that all should suffer together. “Player hate” much? Brizard was about to be fired from his last job for his abject failure to perform till Rahm rescued him, so what about that? We pay 1/4 million $$$ a year for a unqualified reject who is part of the lemon dance of failed superintendents from the Broad foundation that have gone from city to city leaving a path of destruction, waste and failure behind them and that’s OK, but teachers should be grateful they have jobs and not strike about issues that will hurt their ability to do their jobs teaching our kids? Please get a clue

  • 116. junior  |  March 20, 2012 at 9:23 am

    @107 Vet, @110

    Since 45 minutes of the extended day is actually moving non-working lunch to the middle of the day, I think your figure of 26% more hours worked is quite a bit off. If you really do work the hours you say you do, then you should have no problem with the longer day, since you are already working them anyway and not getting paid for them. I know plenty of teachers and frankly, I don’t think any of them would believe you work the number of hours you claim. You volunteer your entire summer without vacation or holidays? And you want us to believe that’s representative of teachers? I think someone’s either blowing smoke or inhaling some.

    We know that teachers have continued to get step and lane increases throughout this tough economy, and when they tell you that they didn’t get their 4% last year, that is only one of the various types of raises that they get.

    There are many great teachers, who should be paid more than what they make, and there are others who aren’t worth a dime. Of course, the union fights any attempt to make pay based on performance or to make it easier to get rid of the bad teachers. So, if we’re just going to pay them all average salaries, then let’s look at teacher pay compared to all other major urban school systems and pay them market average. Until now, CPS teachers have been well above average in pay and well below average in required school day hours. Trying to get pay in line with a fair market wage is just good fiscal management — something this city has lacked for a long time — not union busting as many claim.

  • 117. junior  |  March 20, 2012 at 9:27 am

    @114 chicagodad

    Chicagodad wants teachers to get credit for the best-performing kids in the system, but I didn’t see where he took the blame for the worst-performing ones. Did I miss something?

  • 118. junior  |  March 20, 2012 at 9:31 am


    Take a look at the published “value-added” ratings of all schools, and those will give you a metric that is adjusted for the socioeconomic demographics of the school. It’s still a bit flawed, but more useful than straight test scores.

  • 119. klm  |  March 20, 2012 at 9:38 am

    @102 cps alum

    Yes there is one CPS school w/ less than 10% “low income”: Edison RGC with 8.9%.

    Interestingly, 5 of 8 elementary schools in Highland Park have a higher % of “low income” students than Edison, for example (as do many ‘good’ suburban HSs in supposedly affluent areas, like Highland Park HS and Glenbrook South).

  • 120. Disgusted  |  March 20, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Sorry but with the economic downturn the last couple years I have had to survive on half of what my childrens teachers make. Take a look at what your kids teachers and principles make at this website.

  • 121. CPS K mom  |  March 20, 2012 at 10:22 am

    and this focus on “what teachers make” and making them look like greedy slobs is probably what our wonderful legislators intended to happen when they refused to allow teachers to negotiate about anything BUT salary. Can’t you see that? If you think they make too much and shouldn’t be able to negotiate about salary, THEN CALL YOUR STATE LEGISLATOR and get them to repeal the ban on non-salary negotiations!!

  • 122. chicagodad  |  March 20, 2012 at 11:07 am

    @junior Kudos on a clumsy misrepresentation of what I said. Brilliant! Those who know, which are most here, understand that it’s parents, students and teachers that are together responsible for the success’s in the example I gave. I’m sure many also know that taking those great teachers out of the top schools and putting them in the worst ones is not a solution, let alone a magic bullet. It’s the poverty, poverty not being any excuse, but a diagnosis of the problems that affect kids education both in and out of school. Teachers can help kids from a good family/community do well far more easily than they can overcome the affects of poverty as the work they do in school is not reinforced and supported outside of school.
    FYI,”value added” as a tool to evaluate teachers is a total farce. Just look at what happened in NYC, where the scores published had no basis in reality. Millions of student hours and tax dollars wasted on a system that produced no usable data. A few people made huge $$$$ though, the only thing VAM is known to do well. Add to that the fact that the very people who are developing this system say in no uncertain terms that it shouldn’t be used for evaluating teachers. Others in the test design industry point out that the tests used in VAM were designed to evaluate students, not teachers. VAM=SCAM
    As to the step and lane increases, they reward experience, which is known to be indicative of improved skills (steps) and additional training which also improves ability (lanes). Step increases do not go on forever, ending after some? years, and lane increases must be earned by adding college credits, a system which has an extended time till ROI in those credits is achieved. In the mean time the students benefit from better teachers.

  • 123. chicagodad  |  March 20, 2012 at 11:18 am

    @disgusted Thanks for posting that website, as you now have totally lost credibility. Here’s one example from that site of who they really are:

    Why Parents Should Keep Their Children Home from School on the Day of Silence
    “On Friday April, 20, 2012 the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is once again exploiting public schools to promote homosexuality and gender confusion as moral and normative through the political protest called the Day of Silence. ”

    A further look shows that these people are an astroturf group promoting the worst “reforms” for even worse reasons based entirely in ideology and religious extremism. If you insist on attacking teachers because you make less than they do maybe you should make the same commitment they have to a profession of your choice instead of blaming your problems on someone else’s success. Since you are likely a paid troll/shill I doubt this will happen.

  • 124. junior  |  March 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Now who’s misrepresenting? I never said value-added ratings should be used to set teacher pay. But there are plenty of ways to evaluate someone’s performance — and yes, perhaps VA can be a small component of that if it’s done right. Right now we have little correlation between actual performance and salary. If you and the CTU wants to tout the terrific quality of our teachers, that’s great. Parents will be all for paying for quality. But it has to be evaluated and demonstrated somehow (just like in just about any other workplace).

  • 125. junior  |  March 20, 2012 at 11:48 am

    @122 chicagodad
    Nice red herring. No one here is espousing the views you cite from that website. But the data is all public and no one is disputing the accuracy of the salary data. Do you have a problem with people knowing what teachers make, or discussing these salaries in an open, transparent way?

  • 126. Skinmom  |  March 20, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I find it odd that everyone uses New Trier as a prime example of the “ultimate” HS (it is one of the top public HSs in the country) but only ONE elementary school out of 50 on the list feeds into New Trier. Doesn’t make sense.

    The law has changed so many times in CPS so please correct me if I am wrong. Special Education test scores are now required to be calculated in to the schools’ final percentage. One must also think about schools with large bilingual programs. Both Special Ed and Bilingual are a mess at most CPS schools due to lack of funding. This has a huge impact on test scores. I would expect gifted (RGP) schools to be the highest on the list. Do the scores of schools that have RGP programs combine them with the regular Ed scores? This is what I was referring to when I mentioned that I didn’t feel the list was accurate. None of the above was clarified.

    As for Teachers’ salary, I am tired of hearing other parents and/or adults say they don’t deserve a raise etc. I’m sorry for those who have lost their jobs (parents/adults) and make less than teachers. The way I look at it is you too can go be a teacher if you feel they make too much money and have it so easy. Then you can tell everyone that you don’t deserve to be paid for longer days. My children’s teachers work VERY hard! We forget the work continues at home with grading, planning etc. If there is a 3 page math test along with a 2 page novel exam, times that (5) by 30 kids and you get 150 papers to grade for simply two tests. This doesn’t include daily HW and assignments.

    If I start to imagine what it must be like to teach 30 plus students consisting of reg ed, bilingual, special ed and behavior issues all on different levels, it makes me cringe. I personally know I could not do it. I also don’t think that my kids teachers’ could do it either. It requires a VERY dedicated, caring, strong, creative and patient teacher to work under those circumstances. Do I feel that there is a lot of deadbeat teachers out there who are waiting to retire? Of course! Do I think there are a lot of inexperienced teachers out there being hired bc they are cheaper? Of course! There are so many things wrong on so many levels but I do not feel that teachers should be looked down upon for wanting to be fairly compensated.

  • 127. junior  |  March 20, 2012 at 11:58 am


    No way do I want teachers to have their previous ability to negotiate over whether my kid will have recess. Let’s face it — too often they did not decide in my kid’s interests.

  • 128. ISupportMyTeachers  |  March 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I support you, teachers. I am a neighborhood school mom and am beyond satisfied with the level of interest, performance, and involvement of my children’s teachers and administrators.

    I hope it doesn’t come down to a strike, because I’d be more afraid of losing our wonderful teachers and staff. And because I go to a neighborhood school, I’d be likely to put the house up and move, if that were to happen.

    Just know you have my support and my thanks.

  • 129. junior  |  March 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Of course, most everyone agrees that teachers work extremely hard for 9 months out of the year. But what is fair compensation? How do you determine it? Is it simply ‘more than they are making now’? Is the current level fair and why? And why can’t the system reward the best teachers with more compensation and more easily rid itself of those who are not performing?

    I take the time to thank and praise good teachers regularly. The problem is I look at salaries of those good teachers and the salaries of bad teachers, and there is no correlation between pay and quality. And no one is presenting a rational reason for why pay should be set where it is.

  • 130. Esmom  |  March 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    “I find it odd that everyone uses New Trier as a prime example of the “ultimate” HS (it is one of the top public HSs in the country) but only ONE elementary school out of 50 on the list feeds into New Trier. Doesn’t make sense.”

    A lot of the elementary schools that feed into the state’s top high schools are not in the top 50…which is why I don’t put a lot of stock in these rankings. There are so many factors other than test scores that come into play.

  • 131. Skinmom  |  March 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    In regards to evaluating teachers, once again I don’t feel it is possible to create ONE evaluation method/tool that would FAIRLY demonstrate or portray the efficiency of a teacher. Just as we stand hear fighting against a longer day for a multitude of reasons including data and research, those very same reasons apply to why a blanket evaluation system would be unjust. How can you use the same tool to evaluate a teacher working in a small classroom with an aid, parent volunteers and gifted students with one who has 35 students, no assistance and behavior issues that disrupt the learning process throughout the day?

    The person above said it best, poverty is the #1 culprit. Poverty is something that has always been around and has no plans to leave. I would love to be optimistic but data doesn’t lie. There are many smaller issues but nothing compared to the Big P. Yes, there are many cases where people living in disadvantaged areas care enough to make education a priority. But this is unfortunately not the norm. If there was some way to hold parents accountable, it would be a start. Maybe it needs to start with a revamp of the CPS Code of Conduct including a zero tolerance for disrespect. Maybe there should be specialty schools for students with severe behavior issues staffed with specialist trained to help these young children. I don’t have the answer but I know it should not be a teachers’ responsibility. Teachers should be expected to teach, nothing more nothing less. Let Rahm figure out how to solve the problem.

  • 132. LR  |  March 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    @125: Avoca and Romona feed into New Trier. But, having grown up in the area, I was always so thankful that I didn’t go to New Trier (I was in the Glenbrook South district of Glenview). Several of my New Trier friends with B averages were in the bottom quartile of their class!

    About the calendar: Not to change the subject, but I just looked at the note CPS sent home with the calendar on it. I agree it’s better, but there are so many little things that still bother me. For instance, we go from the first day of school through 8 weeks without any days off. Then, they give us November 2 (Teacher Institute), November 12 (Veteran’s Day), and 2 days for Thanksgiving. Is there a reason that they must do Teacher Institutes the day after the quarter ends? And Veteran’s Day just breaks things up completely. I guess I would be in favor of being in session on Veteran’s Day and breaking up the long 8 week stretch at the beginning of the year with Columbus Day. Then again January: we have a week where we have Monday the 21st off for MLK day and later the same week Friday the 25th for a Teacher Institute day. Again, are these institute days set in stone, or can we make them make sense with the schedule and make it the previous Friday? Then February: We get Lincoln’s B-day and Presidents’ Day. The problem is, they are separated by less than a week. Can we pick one? Or put those days together for a mini February break? And school ending on a Monday. Give me a break! Just end it on a Friday and do 179 days. Or maybe that is one day that will get cut out of the year come August.

  • 133. justanotherchicagoparent  |  March 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    This is on the front page of the parent portal site ..I found it just by chance.


    A Public Hearing will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 in the Chicago Board of Education Board Chambers, 125 S. Clark St., 5th Floor. This hearing will occur prior to the regular Board of Education meeting.

    Chicago Public Schools seeks a holiday waiver to allow for classes, parent-teacher conferences, teacher in-services or teacher institutes on Columbus Day and Casmir Pulaski Day. The persons honored by the holiday will be recognized through instructional activities conducted on that day or, if the day is not used for student attendance, on the first school day preceding or following that day. Testimony from educators, parents and members of the public about the proposed holiday waiver will be taken during the public hearing.

    Speaker registration will occur between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. The Public Participation portion of the Public Hearing will conclude after the last person who has signed in to speak has spoken, or at 9:30 a.m. whichever occurs first.

  • 134. Mayfair Dad  |  March 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    News item: Peyton Manning signs with Broncos, will earn $18M in 2012.

    That works out to about $1.125M per regular season game. Of course that does not include mandatory practices, team meetings, overnight travel to away games or his off-season training.

    The salary is based on past measurable performance, and anticipated future measurable performance. Even if he is surrounded by sub-par players with questionable motivation, Manning is expected to perform at a championship level and not make excuses.

    Compared to Peyton Manning, teachers are grossly underpaid. Society does not value the teaching profession as it should. But it can be argued Manning is at the top of his profession, measurably so, and is rewarded for results, not good intentions.

  • 135. justanotherchicagoparent  |  March 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Damn @133 And people wonder why American children don’t want to be engineers or doctors. It pays more to be a Manning or a Kardashian. 😉

  • 136. HS Mom  |  March 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    @125 – I think that SPED and IEP are often confused. Gifted schools do not have SPED programs within their curriculum. If there is a SPED program within a school it is completely separate from the regular program. Gifted programs do have IEP students who, if they are in a selective program, scored high enough to get in and take tests and are included like everyone else. Don’t assume that IEP kids bring scores down either. Some are profoundly gifted. As far as feeder schools not making the list, there are many great schools – far more than 50 – good to see that there is a lot of competition at the top. Kudos to all these neighborhood schools that are making it. Doesn’t this support the idea that CPS teachers at many schools are doing a phenomenal job?

    to your point in 130 – yes, I think we would all like to see better ways of measuring (more than test scores, but test scores too) ability and effectiveness of teachers and make sure they are paid accordingly. Now correct me if I’m wrong here but what I see as a parent is that there is a pot of $X allocated to teacher salaries. Parents (except for maybe chicagodad) would like to see that pot divvied up to where the best teachers have the highest salaries and the those that do the minimum get the minimum. My perception of CTU is that they are negotiating for teachers as a whole (OK) but they are turning all our gains in the way of top ranking schools with high high quality curriculums and all the other up and coming solid programs into a fight over of $ per hour, what those hours should be vs. what they were, blanket raises for all, no regard for market salaries etc. I also see CTU as willing to take funding from the programing to accomplish this. This really hurts the professional image that teachers have created with all of their accomplishments having elevated some of the best schools so that even private educated kids want to transfer in. This is just an opinion so I’m sure I’ll get the CTU revolt and anger instead of any recognition of “the real issues” that keep coming across as “I want more money for more hours”.

    Junior – thanks for your thoughtful and eloquently put posts.

  • 137. junior  |  March 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm


    Can’t/won’t/too hard/don’t want to/

    There are many ways to evaluate job performance. This isn’t rocket science. There are principal evaluations. There are 360-degree evaluations. There are creating metrics that compare teachers to peers in similar situations in order to compare apples to apples. There are many instruments available.

    I bet every parent on this board can name the best and worst teachers in their kids’ schools. There may be disagreement about a few in the middle, but I find that general consensus emerges for the best and worst performers. Hell, the kids can tell you. Collect ratings/metrics in multifaceted way — if parents, peers, kids, principals and numbers all tell you that a teacher is bad, then I bet the teacher is bad.

    There is no excuse to NOT evaluate teachers — reward the best and not the worst.

  • 138. chicagodad  |  March 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    @125 I have a MASSIVE problem with the idea that teachers should be paid less because others have lost their jobs or had pay cuts. That’s the only point made by “disgusted”. Why not lawyers or god forbid, BANKERS? Our first responders are all union members, why not include them too? What about other unionized city employee’s? The issue “disgusted” raises has nothing to do with anything other than attacking teachers, period. Teachers pack far more than a years worth of work into the school year so I totally disagree that they are over paid or should not be paid more when asked to work more, especially when it’s a lot more. They pay taxes, have homes and children like everyone else, and have less time to take care of them during the school year. The idea that we should ignore the reasons for the depression of wages of the middle class and just bend over while attacking those who have not yet been victimized is un-American. No one with a functioning brain is falling for it.

  • 139. junior  |  March 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    @130 Skinmom

    One more point, since you raised the issue of fairness in evaluating teachers. Is it fair the teachers who put in a gazillion hours (like Vet above) and do a great job are rewarded at the same level as those who just show up and don’t even try?

  • 140. chicagodad  |  March 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Last for now, I’ve never heard of teachers or unions who reject evaluations that are fair and accurate, they oppose only those that are not. For an answer on the whole issue of pay for performance in teaching, see links in 140. There are definitely places for that, but teaching isn’t one of them. Not because I say so, because those who are experts, whose livelihoods depend on their knowledge say so. I trust them, not the edu-profiteers. Our kids are not dollar signs.

  • 141. 8th grade mom  |  March 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I agree with the idea that good teachers should be paid more, but we need a better way to identify good teachers. I know my kids’ teachers have been all over the map.

    The Gates Foundation is working in HIllsborough County, FL to establish a teacher performance review system that requires classroom observations by both the principal, and a fellow teacher. The observers use a rubric to score that breaks things down very clearly to evaluate teachers on numerous areas, such as knowledge of the subject, knowledge of their students, classroom management, etc.

  • 142. Working mommy of 2  |  March 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    @108 Mayfair dad

    My husband and I toured Courtenay in the fall and were very impressed with the school and the vice principal giving the tour.

    With no neighborhood boundaries, it keeps them from having overcrowding problems and makes them a sort of “magnet” type situation where the parents of these kids are clearly invested in finding a good school and getting the kids there.

  • 143. cpsobsessed  |  March 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I am swamped with work and packing so not reading posts today. Please don’t insult each other or I’ll have to go back and delete what ever brilliantly snarky posts people may have written.
    Thank you.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 144. Disgusted  |  March 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    As long as you have a teachers union you can not pay good teachers more. Unions are about protecting slackers on the job not rewarding good work. Also. I never said that teachers should make less. I said that they are picking a bad time to be asking for more. Once again you can go to this site and see what your teachers make.

  • 145. teacher  |  March 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    to 110 and 111 – I know teachers because I have been in the education field in a variety of ways for over twenty years. I hear teachers constantly say that they work so much – at school, at home, etc. The reality that I see daily is not so benevolent. I think that many teachers talk a very big talk that is unsubstantiated by real work. I think that teaching is a wonderful profession, given a good administration and moderately supportive parents, but it is not one that requires huge amount of time. I wonder what the teachers who say that they work so many hours really do with their time.

  • 146. AnonMom  |  March 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    @143 Interesting link regarding teacher pay

    Teachers at the charter schools definitely get paid less. Ironically, if there is a strike it won’t include the charter teachers.

  • 147. mom2  |  March 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I think some people are just missing the point. If the country, the state, the city and CPS had tons of money, most parents I know would be all for “giving teachers the raise they were promised” and giving them good benefits, etc. etc. Most teachers are wonderful people that work very hard for our children, have all kinds of degrees and certifications, work all evening grading papers and tons of other positive things and they do deserve to be paid well for what they do. Do we have tons of money? No.

    When a business is out of money, they make cuts and changes in order to stay in business. Sometimes that means that the working conditions are not as good as they should be (no new computers, turn down the heat in the winter, use a broken chair). Sometimes it means not replacing people when they leave or laying off some people. Sometimes it means no increases for years even if it was promised and even if someone is doing an amazing job and working extra hours. Most of the time it means employees that keep their jobs must work longer hours and do more than what they were original hired to do.

    I know unions think differently, but they shouldn’t. Just because it is the right thing to do and even if it was promised, if the money isn’t there, the money isn’t there.

    And, once that money becomes available, most parents I know would rather have it first spent on improving the working conditions for students and teachers alike – fix broken buildings, add air conditioning, buy new books, computers, school supplies (so teachers don’t have to buy their own), etc. After that, please do pay the teachers well. Most of them (with a few very strong exceptions) deserve it.

  • 148. Angie  |  March 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    @146. mom2: “When a business is out of money, they make cuts and changes in order to stay in business. ”

    But that only happens in the private employment world. In the union world, they strike and expect that the money will magically appear out of thin air. And the worse they can screw their customers, patients or students who depend on them doing their jobs, the better are the chances of that magic happening.

  • 149. AnonMom  |  March 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    When considering the economy, how tight things are for so many families and how important the schools are for both the education and daily care of students (for those parents that work) – a strike could be a huge PR nightmare for the teachers’ cause.

  • 150. HotToday  |  March 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    sorry to all the teachers who do it right, there are PLENTY who don’t. I know a few who would last 1 week in the private sector. And all the “no raise” comments, welcome to the real world. Lots of folks haven’t seen a raise in years. if they do get one, its really small 2%.

  • 151. cps alum  |  March 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I wouldn’t say I worked 2700 hours a year as a full time teacher, but I definately worked 2000 in the school year alone:

    180 school days (instructional and Institute) hours 7:30-4:00 (8.5hrs x 180 = 1530hrs)

    Department meetings, faculty meeting, commitee meetings, open house nights etc (minumum 3 a month for min 1.5 additional hours per meeting 1.5hrs* 3days * 10months = 45 hrs).

    Coaching math team 1x a week 1st semester, 2x a week second semester for 1.5 hours per session 1.5 * 50 meetings = 75 hours)

    Math team meets 6 evenings 4:00-10:00pm (6 hrs x 6 = 36 hours)
    Math team regionals (Saturday 5 hours)
    Math team state compet. Friday 3:00-Saturday 10:00pm (31 hours)

    At home prep/grading 1-2 hours a night x 170 days (255 hours)
    Weekend grading/prep (at leastr 3-5 hours X 40 weekends = 160 hrs).

    Home visits: 25 students .5-1 hour per student = 12. 5 hours

    I added that up and I got 2144… and I didn’t even go into summer, professional development on the weekends (conferences etc). work done over breaks… and I know teacher who do much more than this.

    Oh, and by the way, I eat lunch at my desk while helping students.

  • 152. Disgusted  |  March 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Thank goodness there are people out there that understand what I am talking about. I am all for giving teachers a raise in a good economy but we just can’t when the state is going bankrupt. Unions just don’t understand fiscal responsibility. When things improve again, then is the time to ask for a hefty raise to make up for it. There are just too many parents like myself struggling and wish we were making $65-$85,000 a year.

  • 153. anonymouseteacher  |  March 20, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    The problem is, in good times, Chicago teachers don’t get hefty raises. There are no bonuses. In fact, in those “good times” the state didn’t even pay their portion of pensions that they contractually agreed to. Even though a few years back we were in surplus years. In those “good years” schools did not get needed supplies or books.

    I left a northshore school district ten years ago. I spent 3 years in CPS, took a bunch of years off (taught part time for other groups) and now am back in CPS. I hated teaching in the northern burbs. The entitlement among kids, families and staff was atrocious. I should have just dealt with it because all my friends who stayed are now making 100K. I make 60K in CPS because they do not let teachers “carry in” more than 2 years of experience and they give no credit for teaching for private programs. It is a decent living, yes. Still, when I was 25, I thought it was my “mission” to work in CPS since kids there really needed good teachers and I wanted to give back. Now I wish I would have thought more about myself and my children. I would be making a lot more money that’s for sure! What a bad decision that was.

  • 154. SEHS class of 2016  |  March 21, 2012 at 12:35 am BLOGGERS


    1. Registration and Breakfast Starts –8:30am
    2. Getting your child ready for college –Isabel Reyes
    3. Morning Exercise Fitness Awareness –Mr. Morton
    4. Understanding Community “Issues” –Ms. Dana Garner
    5. Raffle and Lunch time Break –Noon to 12:30
    6. Home Mortgage & Foreclosure Assistance –“AVID Solutions”
    7. Cultural Awareness / Help for Special Needs and Disabilities

    Honorably yours,

  • 155. SEHS class of 2016  |  March 21, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Awakened again. If appropriate, just wanted to comment…

    Seminars are this Saturday, March 24, 2012.

    Thanks in advance for your kind attention to this


  • 156. Disgusted  |  March 21, 2012 at 6:47 am


    I find it rather amusing that you said yourself that you made it into a great school district but due to being tired of entitlement you left and could have been making $100k a year. It seems a bit hypocritical that you and these other teachers are complaining about your own entitlements.

  • 157. RL Julia  |  March 21, 2012 at 6:51 am

    @disgusted? what entitlements is anonysmousteacher complaining about?

  • 158. Vet  |  March 21, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Teaching is the only profession I can enter where an African-American woman earns as much as a similarly qualified and experienced caucasian male. It is the only profession I can enter where a young, new Latino educator earns as much as a similarly qualified and experienced mid-40s career changer who is new to the profession.

    This notion that we must “reward” the best and brightest above all others is lovely, but I’ll take a pass. In the rest of the professional world those “rewards” are doled out to very specific types of employees. You know them. They are the ones who are part of the good old boys network, the ones who kiss up to the boss, the ones who toe the party line, the ones who decline to stand up for justice and fairness, the ones who are most adept at lifting themselves up by stepping on the backs of their colleagues, the ones who are driven to compete and in doing so game the system, the ones who are obsessed by their own self interest not the collective good. I’ve already lived and worked in that sphere. No thank you.

    I’m as well trained and as well educated as someone in my field can possibly be. I connect with my students and work hard to engage their parents. I am lauded for my success by my peers, my administration, my parents and students, and even by my employer. And I do not want to earn more than the teacher in the room next door – even if she is just an average teacher. I am glad to leave behind competition and a system that by definition creates winners and losers (for both teachers and students) in favor of equity, fairness, collaboration, teamwork, shared vision, belief in the interconnectedness of success, and a common understanding that “everybody does better when everybody does better”.

    So, how can CPS keep its best teachers?

    I want to be rewarded by teaching a full, varied, and rich curricula just like the mayor’s children receive. In reality, I am handed a script and a district mandated curricula. I want to be rewarded with functional heating and air conditioning. In reality, my building has no air conditioning and some rooms don’t even have heat. I want to be rewarded with enough books, materials, and desks for each student. In reality, only some students receive these “perks”. I want to be rewarded with less meaningless paperwork, not more. In reality, my network chief mandates a certain number of grade entries per week. I want to be rewarded with smaller class sizes in the low 20s so I can give my students the individual attention they need and deserve. In reality, my classes are in the mid-40s and I see over 400 students every day. I want to be rewarded by not risking my career for wanting and choosing to teach in a high-needs school. In reality I will be fired and my highly successful program dismantled when the powers that be determine my school is a “failure” and its teachers are not worth employing. I want to be rewarded by reasonable and sane work day expectations and an understanding that for every hour I teach I put in an hour outside of class to be prepared enough to do my absolute best. In reality the Board wants to extend the school day (not something I necessarily object to) while functionally cutting my prep time in half. (In what other profession does less preparation time equal better work product?) I want to be rewarded by an acknowledgment that schools are not magic castles where all the other obstacles students in poverty face suddenly disappear while the entire and sole responsibility for educating the most challenging students is left to me alone. In reality, I will be evaluated next year based almost solely on a high stakes exam score.

    Unfortunately, the Board of Education is generally unwilling to negotiate over these types of issues. As a result teachers in Chicago are ultimately only allowed to negotiate over salary and benefits. Teachers can be outstanding advocates for the needs of our students when we are allowed to be.

  • 159. Mayfair Dad  |  March 21, 2012 at 8:16 am

    A moving manifesto, very well written.

    Are you familiar with the writing of Karl Marx?

  • 160. junior  |  March 21, 2012 at 9:34 am


    Great piece on All Things Considered yesterday on community gardens — well worth a listen as a strong analogy to current debate:

  • 161. chicagodad  |  March 21, 2012 at 9:56 am

    @159 Vet nails it, and CPS does not get this at all. Apparently, neither does Mayfair Dad, who also seems to know nothing of Marx, hence the silly comparison. Vet did not write a manifesto but a description of total professional commitment in the face of badly substandard working conditions that directly affect how children can learn and how Vet can teach.
    @disgusted, why is Brizard who was a total failure at his last job as CEO of Rochester schools where he was about to be fired worth 1/4 million $$$ a year? Why is he getting paid 30K more than Huberman was in these times of cutbacks? You never answered the question about other union workers in the city either, so why the focus on teachers alone? It’s a fair question, how about an answer? Why not cut everyones pay?

  • 162. Joel  |  March 21, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I’m actually quite happy with the amount of money I made last year. I’m a 7th year teacher with a Master’s + 15 and with summer school/Saturday school, and a few other conferences, cleared about $72,000. No complaints there.

    And to get back to the calendar, one thing that seemed to be a running current throughout the thread is something that I think is going to be a major issue in the next years: the personalization and individualization of schools. With the blanket longer day, blanket calendar, it is starting to wake people up to the reality that ‘one-size-fits-all’ CPS policies are starting to crack. Some schools want Report Card pickup-others, like mine would benefit from another day of instruction. I look forward to this being a catalyst to get more individual autonomy for individual schools. Parents who fight the good fight for their school need to be rewarded with more control. I actually hope that CPS and the CTU get spontaneously blown to bits this summer and that each individual neighborhood will have to take ownership for their ‘district’; you’d start to see some real changes then.

  • 163. Mayfair Dad  |  March 21, 2012 at 11:08 am


    “And I do not want to earn more than the teacher in the room next door – even if she is just an average teacher. I am glad to leave behind competition and a system that by definition creates winners and losers (for both teachers and students) in favor of equity, fairness, collaboration, teamwork, shared vision, belief in the interconnectedness of success, and a common understanding that “everybody does better when everybody does better”.”

    So as parents we should embrace a system where the lackluster teachers are carried by the overachieving teachers? And this benefits our society how exactly? An entire year is lost when your kid gets stuck with the crappy teacher, the teacher that every other teacher, school administrator and parent knows is the crappy teacher but who is protected by the union. But we should support this teacher’s right to be crappy for the collective good.


  • 164. HS Mom  |  March 21, 2012 at 11:43 am

    @162 “Dumb”

    Mayfair Dad – No kidding!

    “we should support this teacher’s right to be crappy for the collective good.”

    No way! Thank you
    One would hope teachers would feel the same way. Mystifying.

  • 165. junior  |  March 21, 2012 at 11:50 am


    This is just the problem — we can enable poor teachers because they never really have to face the ramifications of their poor performance. The results of their poor student learning environments — lack of student learning — are simply shipped off to the next grade and the teacher faces no repercussions.

    No, it is not a case of “everybody does better when everybody does better”. The teachers in that scenario get along just fine, but the kids absolutely are harmed by bad teachers. Every good, caring teacher I have known acknowledges that there are bad teachers and that they are harmful. Protecting bad teachers for the teacher’s sake, when kids are harmed, is morally indefensible.

  • 166. Another broke and barely making it Tier 4 mom  |  March 21, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    At least it’s refreshing to hear a union member tell it like it is. “Just let the crappy teachers slide, guys, it’s all good!”

    Absolute insanity.

    I really hope they do strike so they’ll get a feel for public outrage.

  • 167. Disgusted  |  March 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    @157 Vet

    You sound like a great teacher that I would be proud to have educate my students. It is refreshing to hear you tell it like it is instead of towing the union line. I have belonged to 2 unions in my life and they never did anything but protect the slackers.

  • 168. Vet  |  March 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    It is interesting to note that when I referenced an average teacher there was an outcry about how the bad and crappy teachers are ruining children’s lives. Guess what – the majority of employees in any industry are average. Education is no different. It is not possible, as Arne Duncan has suggested, that *all* of our teachers rank in the top 25% of the profession.

    Poor teachers are still working because of a failure of administration and the inability of the district to attract and actually retain top notch professionals.

    Poor teachers are most certainly not protected by the Chicago Teachers Union. The process for terminating unsatisfactory teachers in Chicago is a simple one based entirely on a principal evaluation. The content of evaluations is not grievable and cannot be challenged. As long as the process is followed it is a done deal. My current principal has done this many, many times. We have an outstanding staff overall and one of the highest teacher retention rates in the city. Go figure.

    So, yes, we agree that poor teachers should be moved out of the profession. But I will not agree that average employees are crappy. They are, by definition, average. Even if you think they are horrible, that is not a problem created by the Union or a contract, it is a problem surrounding teacher training, teacher recruitment, and teacher retention. Those are all things for which the district is responsible and, I might add, areas in which they have performed dismally over the last two decades.

  • 169. chicagodad  |  March 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Interesting how everyone interprets average as bad. Those are Vets words, the average teacher. He did not in any way allude to bad, that’s on all those who willfully misinterpret his/her words due to their need for a straw man. Also interesting that none acknowledge the collaborative nature of teaching which is not a surprise since the comments reflect little if any knowledge of what teaching actually is. Since Mayfair Dad thinks that collaboration within a team is Marxist, I guess that makes professional sports teams in the USA a hotbed of communism. If you have a problem with “everybody does better when everybody does better” then I guess you also believe that a rising tide does not raise all boats, and therefore that teachers should not work together to raise that tide, which in their case is both their ability and skills as teachers (turning average into good) and the educational experience of their students. The co-operation and collaboration Vet speaks of is what makes the teachers in the best school systems in the world even better and is one of the reasons why the kids in those places do so well. It’s also exactly the same thing the teachers on our military bases do to improve their skills and to work together on solving any difficulties their individual students are experiencing. Those DOD schools out perform public schools by doing what’s right because it’s right, they don’t waste time on fads like merit pay and teacher evaluations based on tests. They do have smaller class sizes, a well proven benefit for students. Since that means having more teachers in the school and they are all unionized, I guess that makes them commies. I guess the fact that they protect their students by not letting the profit motive in the door and instead follow educational best practices based on actual research, not politicians whims as defined by their corporate campaign funders, that makes them commies as well.

  • 170. junior  |  March 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    The percentage of teachers dismissed for poor performance in Chicago between 2005 and 2008 (the most recent figures available) was 0.1 percent.

  • 171. CPS K mom  |  March 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Thank you, Vet and chicagodad, for pointing out the silliness of conflating “average” with “bad.” In every office I’ve ever worked in (never as a teacher, but people are people), there are a TON of average employees….not surprising, given the meaning of the word “average.” How on earth did this get changed to “lackluster” or “crappy”?? Good grief – get a dictionary!

    Thank you, Vet, for posting some wonderful ideas about what would truly help those overachieving teachers out there. Now if only you were allowed to ask (bargain) for those things somehow…

    I also keep hearing all this union bashing about how the union is somehow protecting all these crappy teachers….but no facts. Where are you getting this from? As Vet explained, a “lackluster” or “crappy” teacher is not protected, and if you’d read the policies and procedures for firing teachers, you’d see that that’s true. So where oh where are you getting these notions from?

    Did your child have a teacher you don’t like, so you’ve labeled that teacher as “lackluster” or “crappy,” and wondered why s/he wasn’t fired (and then jumped to the conclusion that it must be because of the union)? Did it ever occur to you that perhaps YOU did not appreciate that particular teacher, but that doesn’t make him/her “crappy” (because it’s not just your opinion that matters)?

  • 172. chicagodad  |  March 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Vet, thanks for your first hand account of how unacceptable teachers can be removed without undue difficulty and of why they are there in the first place. I doubt this will put to rest the false narrative of tons of bad teachers out there being protected by unions, but we can hope that facts and common sense prevail in the face of the illusion that tearing someone down with lies raises anyone else up.

  • 173. LR  |  March 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Although I theoretically believe in rewarding great teachers, I agree with Vet that how you do it is always an issue. How do you make sure you are really promoting the best and brightest teachers rather than the Principal’s favorite, or someone who has mastered the art of teaching to the test?

    By the way, in some ways, I think CPS promotes its own incompetence. One of the things I found most surprising in Vet’s post is:

    “I want to be rewarded by teaching a full, varied, and rich curricula just like the mayor’s children receive. In reality, I am handed a script and a district mandated curricula.”

    It’s funny because when I heard this part of the quote…it made me think of Communism. Let’s treat every child the same, regardless of what they are capable of or what strengths/challenges they bring to the table. CPS’s mandates and inflexibility are its Achilles heel.

  • 174. HS Mom  |  March 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm


    Still don’t get it. Why should above average teachers be paid (or want to be paid) the same or sometimes even less than average teachers? Is it because there is a fear of not being rewarded fairly or not getting recognition due to the “good ol boys club”. Do you feel that above average teachers should be paid average teacher salaries or do you think average teachers should be paid above average salaries? I have to say that I don’t agree with either scenario.

    I have not seen or heard of a single teacher let go for being a “poor teacher”. I’ve seen teachers “strongly suggested” to retire with full benefits. I’ve seen new teachers with no tenure cut due to budget. There is no support by CTU to relieve teachers of their positions for not performing only the demand for iron clad proof under the threat of law suit.

  • 175. RL Julia  |  March 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    A teacher was let go last year at my neighborhood elementary school. After living the process (and seeing how many opportunities for retribution the teacher who was let go had- and took without penalty), I can see great incentive for the “strongly suggested retirement” route – at least if I was the principal.

  • 176. Vet  |  March 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm


    CPS does not need iron clad proof of inadequacy to remove a tenured teacher for poor performance. They simply need to follow basic, mutually agreed upon procedures. As I said before the content of current evaluations is non-negotiable and cannot be contested. Again, as long as the the simple process if followed, there is nothing the Union can do to prevent. What often happens is that a teacher, rather than going through that process, simply finds another job in the system.

    I’ll get to your other thoughtful and important questions as soon as I can…

  • 177. Another broke and barely making it Tier 4 mom  |  March 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    My child’s teacher is amazing. For example – she’s there an hour before school, sends lengthy classroom updates on the weekends including pictures from the previous week, makes herself available every day after school to talk with parents.

    Why shouldn’t she make an assload more than the teacher across the hall giving 10% of that effort??

  • 178. chicagodad  |  March 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    “iron clad proof under the threat of law suit.” AKA due process, the exact same thing you would scream for if you were falsely accused in a criminal matter and denied your rights. That’s a proper function of any union and a basic requirement in any just society. How anyone doesn’t get this is beyond me. When it comes to pay for performance, two things. 1. No accurate way exists to show how much any particular student learned as a result of any particular teacher’s work. 2. As has been exhaustively pointed out, teaching is a collaborative effort. Since many classes make use of the same things like reading, writing and language comprehension, how do you figure out which teacher contributed what to any particular students progress? Snake oil salesmen would have you think that test based evaluations such as VAM can do that, but history and the VAM developers themselves have shown what a giant pants load that is. Would you really like your kid to waste time taking 4 or more tests a year in each subject in a doomed-to-fail attempt to figure out who to pay what? Do you want your education tax dollars siphoned out of your school for that?

  • 179. beth  |  March 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Of course it’s possible to fire bad teachers and go through the process—but it is lengthy and time consuming, and good principals willing to take the time – able to find the time — are already in short supply (hence one reason for the $25k signing bonus CPS is offering). There are a lot of average teachers, and I think Vet hits the nail on the head when s/he says it is a capacity and training issue. Let’s face it — the standards for getting into a teaching program are not that high—you can find one that will take you, and you can find a masters program that will take you as well. Then you get trained by sitting in a classroom for four years with relatively little field work—just that few months stint student teaching. And boom—class of 30+. All day, by yourself. You have to not just “teach” them, but keep them on task! Teaching is best understood as an art/craft where you get better at it by doing it, by targeted smart professional development, and by reflective practices. Think of the standards and training required in the medical profession and then think about the standards and training for teachers. After that think about what would happen if people who had no experience in the operating room started making policy decisions about how surgeons should operate.

  • 180. junior  |  March 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    These are not criminal matters and no one has a *right* to a teaching job. The due process you are referring to is a property right that is created by contract with the CTU. But that contract is up for negotiation, though I’m sure CTU will stand behind it’s extreme system of tenure that makes it near impossible to get rid of poor performing teachers.

    If the number of teachers fired for poor performance from CPS corresponded to the rate I’ve seen cited for private sector firings for poor performance, then one would expect around 630 CPS teachers fired per year. Based on the data I cited above, the actual number of teachers fired for poor performance per year is … drumroll … around 5.

    I, too, have talked to a principal who would love to get rid of a couple of bad apples, but says the process is way too onerous and it’s easier to wait for them to retire or try to give them undesirable assignments until they choose to go elsewhere.

  • 181. Vet  |  March 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm


    The principal you cite would rather wait years, perhaps decades, for a teacher to retire because that’s easier than removing a poor teacher? Now that is an affront to students and teachers! And I’m sorry, but the process for removal of a tenured teacher in CPS is not onerous. It involves an evaluation, remediation and mentoring, and an evaluation. End of story. The fact is that most teachers who are faced with that prospect leave for another job rather than face a possible blacklisting. Not surprising.

    A problem far larger than eliminating bad teachers is retaining high quality ones. Over 50% of teachers leave the profession entirely within 5 years. That figure is worse in urban schools and even worse in high poverty schools. So, what does it take to attract and retain outstanding teachers?

  • 182. chicagodad  |  March 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Great misrepresentation of what I said Junior. I never even alluded to “lifetime employment” Epic fail on trying to pin a talking point on me. Same for sidestepping the analogy on criminal matters. Tenure is just a guarantee of due process, nothing more. Please show how it’s extreme and explain how it is a property right. LOL I can’t wait for that conflation! What part of the private sector are you referring to in that “comparison”? Fast food? Seasonal?

  • 183. junior  |  March 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm


    From the horse’s mouth itself (CTU):

    “In violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the defendants, the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and its officers, have unlawfully dismissed or announced the imminent dismissal of 850 tenured teachers and other education personnel and deprived them of their property rights in tenured employment without the individualized determinations required by Illinois law, 105 ILCS 5/34-18(31), if the collective bargaining agreement does not otherwise apply.”

    BTW, I never misrepresented your points of view. I stated my own. I only repeat that which I find worth repeating.

  • 184. devon  |  March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    track E makes A LOT of sense.

    1st– the number of student related shootings dramatically increases during the hottest months. By choosing track E, students in Chicago are in the classroom during the hottest months and at home during colder months. The number of adolescent shooting related deaths has declined every year since track E was implemented and as more schools choose this as an option. This is an especially important thing to remember when thinking about the west and South Sides of our cities. And while I’m not normally a proponent of using anything but educational psychology to dictate what happens in the classroom, we really can’t teach anyone if they are dead.

    2nd– There are programs for students during these break periods and as consumers if we make our needs/wants known the number of programs will expand.

    3rd– For AP classes track E is a blessing. AP tests happen in May across the country. In many Southern states school starts in Early August and ends in May. Those students have an advantage. If the year starts sooner than students are learning and preparing for these tests much earlier than their Regular track peers and thus have the advantage.

    4th– Break periods can be used by teachers to prepare for classes; a chance they do not get on a regular track schedule. And, yes teachers do use these breaks to plan. I know at my current location at least 50% of the teachers spent at least one day in the building during break. And many of those who did not make a physical presence in the building were working at home on lessons and activities to use in the classroom. (our students also had break packets that expanded and reviewed learning while they were away– something that doesn’t normally happen over a summer break which is much longer on a regular track schedule)

    5th– Break periods can be used to supplement the curriculum or for test prep that is needed by our students but has no place in the normal course of curriculum. Students can go on school trips or use the break period to work on service learning initiatives.

  • 185. RationalRationing  |  March 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    180 – apologies for being ignorant, but you do understand that the perception – if not the reality, according to you – is that it is difficult to dismiss a tenured teacher.

    Anyway – if “the process for removal of a tenured teacher in CPS is not onerous. It involves an evaluation, remediation and mentoring, and an evaluation. End of story.” then what exactly does tenure mean?

  • 186. A Parent Considering Homeschooling  |  March 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    @178 Beth

    I agree 100% that undergraduate teacher education programs and masters level administration programs need to be improved. My first day as a teacher I walked into my classroom and sobbed because I had no idea what I was going to do when my students walked in. Nothing in my undergrad program prepared me. It was all hands on learning once I had my students. My master level administration program was a joke. If you showed up for class and seemed to pay attention you got an A. Taking the exam for my certificate was the hardest part. Again, my masters program didn’t help me much with my job as an administrator. It was all hands on learning once I got the job. Sometimes I made the right decision, sometimes I didn’t. If I knew then what I know now, I never would have become a teacher or administrator. I am so glad I get to stay home with my sons.

  • 187. RationalRationing  |  March 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Showing that questions about tenure are tapping into the Zeitgeist of the moment, this blog entry is only a few days old (penned by some eminent Chicago law and economics types)

  • 188. Maria  |  March 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Full faculty vote today at SE school: secret ballot – 90% to strike.

  • 189. CuriousGirl  |  March 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Maria, Are you able to disclose whether this is a SEHS or SEES?
    I’m not sure whether it matters, but just curious.

  • 190. Anom Mom  |  March 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    I am a little surprised by my reaction, but I have to admit that these secret ballot strike votes make me feel angry. Students are going to be the real victims. I am really ticked by the politics.

  • 191. curious  |  March 21, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Can anyone shed light on when a strike would occur? I have heard it could happen at the beginning of the school year–others have stated it might happen around December…..

  • 192. plm123  |  March 21, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    it strikes me as lacking of common sense when parents claim that teachers should be happy with what they have, that they have no right to be disgruntled about the current changes, look at the economy, etc etc etc. you are entitled to your opinion, if it makes you feel better, but maintaining that view will not be doing our children any favors.

    don’t you see that by degrading the teaching profession you are lowering the quality of education for future generations? what top tier students will choose to enter a profession in which you are continuously asked to do more for less? by making the teaching profession so undesirable, you are appealing only to the bottom half of college grads, when it is the top of these students that are kids need so desperately.

    the social standing and salary of teachers is important to me, not because of anything to do with the CTU, not because of anything to do with rahm, not to do with any personal empathy i feel for teachers, but of common sense. i am in banking and have no ties to teachers, but common sense dictates that the more desirable the profession, the more quality candidates will enter it.

    this attack on teachers is causing amazingly talented veterans to throw in the towel, and potentially brilliant teachers to seek careers in accounting, law, finance, etc. it’s so backwards to me. when i hear parents ranting about how teachers should be grateful for what they have, i can’t help but think they’ve completely missed the point.

    i have a brilliant, high achieving daughter attending a prominent college. i asked her the other day if anyone she knew (in her extended circle of high achieving friends) was pursuing education. she said not a single one was. it’s hard to blame them.

    this article gives important insight:

  • 193. One Day At A Time  |  March 22, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Sadly teachers are not the only ones – lawyers, architects, and even doctors are getting out too. A strike isn’t an option for them though, they either have to try to hang in there or get out of the field. Americans these are very tough times.

  • 194. Miss-B  |  March 22, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Ogden just went Track E. I got the email this morning. I have ambivalent feelings about the announcement at this point. Tentatively optimistic.

  • 195. beth  |  March 22, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Every teacher I speak to thinks there will be a strike, and I don’t blame them, although I think it will be an all around feel bad with no winners, and unfortunately, will probably not change the policies being put forth by the current City and CPS administrations. Nonetheless I support the teachers if only because I can vicariously exercise my own outrage as a parent at the high-handed, unthoughtful way these policies are being forced down the throats of all CPS students and families. These policies (longer day, more testing, more charters, more turnarounds) are short-sighted and do nothing in and of themselves to improve student outcomes.

  • 196. Agree  |  March 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Beth — I agree. If we as parents feel so left out of the loop and lacking of input into what are pretty major changes in our lives (re: longer day, closings, etc.), I can’t begin to imagine how our teachers must feel!

    #193 — Did you know this was a possibility or did this come out of the blue? I would actually like the Track E schedule very much, however, I don’t see it happening at my kids’ school.

  • 197. chicagodad  |  March 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    @184 Thanks Junior, what you have shown here is that tenure is not a guarantee of lifetime employment but that the “property” in question is the right to due process, not to the job itself. You did say as much before. Now please show that tenure, that the right to due process as mutually agreed upon by CPS and the CTU is extreme or in any way radically different than other such agreements in other public school systems. Vet has demonstrated, quite clearly I think what has been seen in many other places, that the failure to fire teachers who should be fired is a failure of the administration, not the process or rules. If a teacher cannot be fired via due process when done correctly, then one has to ask if there was actual cause to initiate action against that teacher or if it was just “office politics”. I know of a current situation where the principal of a school is attacking a number of good teachers for merely personal reasons. Should the children at that school lose good teachers for that? Attacking tenure as if it were a guarantee of lifetime employment is little more than a fashion statement.

  • 198. 8th grade mom  |  March 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    My fantasy world: Teaching would be considered a valuable profession, like doctors, lawyers, consultants, and compensated similarly (adjusting for relative work hours.) There would be no union (I support unions in general, but they aren’t typical in professional environments.) There would be performance based pay, but performance would be meaningfully assessed, not just on test scores (See the model the Gates Foundation is implementing in Hillsborough County.) Teachers of all performance ratings would receive real, meaningful feedback, based on multiple classroom observations. Teachers in their first 2-3 years would receive additional coaching on things like classroom management. Poor teachers would be removed, but only after receiving coaching and being given a chance to improve.(Unless, of course, they have done something horribly wrong giving cause for immediate termination, but those are the exceptions.)

    I can dream, right?

  • 199. chicagodad  |  March 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    @199 Take a look at what happened in NYC with the attempt to use value added to measure teacher quality. It was an unmitigated disaster with millions of student hours spent on tests and millions of tax payer dollars spent on a system that produced ZERO usable data.

    “Value added” is a total waste of time and money. It must be paired with observation which it uses as a crutch since it can in no way stand on it’s own. Observation can and does. There is an observation system being successfully used with proven results. Here’s the story on it

    Value added will increase in cost over time as more tests in more subjects are added, while the PAR system actually decreases in cost since teachers with proven performance are evaluated less often and the focus is put on those who still need help. It also solves the problem of retaining great teachers. FYI, our military families experience the same results in their schools for the same reasons. They have consistently been narrowing the achievement gap.
    The bottom line is that VAM has been shown over and over again to fail. I’d rather keep my money close to home by having smaller class sizes and more teachers (who participate in our local economy) than see my money leave town to fill the coffers of the multinational testing corporations who sell this snake oil.

  • 200. Skinmom  |  March 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I’ve read every comment and feel the need to shed some light.

    @vet You work at a high school correct? Hence the 400 students. In elementary schools which are usually much smaller and more intimate, firing a tenured teacher is NOT such an easy process. You are correct re: the basic process but it’s not the bad teachers we should be blaming, it’s the principals who are to blame! Many times principals hire people due to personal relationships, because they were told to by area reps, because the person is from Teach From America etc. The list goes on. Principals don’t want to deal with any negative publicity and/or skeletons that may come out when going through the process. This is why many principals will either A) make the teachers life miserable ie. switching him/her to a different grade (one much less preferred) etc. until the teacher leaves or B) not do anything. Elementary and High Schools are two separate animals. In many cases a principle will miss one detail due to thinking he/she is above the lengthy process and the teacher gets to keep the job.

    Another big problem are these Teach For America teachers who come in with ZERO experience, commit to work for 3 yrs, take classes while teaching and earn the same salary as a first year teacher with a degree. They are protected and will not be fired due to all the political BS involving Teach For America.

    Parents have all the control. Parents are the ones who decide if a principal will get a new contract. Thus, parents should NOT be complaining about bad teachers or principals. If a parent has an issue, contact the board. I promise you that something will be done. No principal wants bad publicity or complaints going downtown. In my opinion, it’s the principals who we need to start focusing on. They have too much power! I’ve heard horrific stories about numerous principals abusing their power.

    On another note, I don’t like how it has now become a trend to hire “student teachers” because they are “cheap”. Every school needs a variety of teachers with different years of experience. Excellent teachers are losing their jobs right before they get tenured in turn for hiring cheap inexperienced teachers! Is this what we want? CPS forcing schools to hire inexperienced teachers so that they can afford to keep an art or gym class? So many things wrong on so many levels.

  • 201. anonymouseteacher  |  March 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    196 and 197, you are both awesome!

  • 202. Sped Mom  |  March 22, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    I think it’s very good to have unions involving “professionals.” Evens the playing field between management and the professional staff. Talking about more than just the education industry.

  • 203. Sped Mom  |  March 22, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    “Every teacher I speak to thinks there will be a strike, and I don’t blame them, although I think it will be an all around feel bad with no winners,”

    I think all strikes end this way. It’s no-win/no-win, in a way. Great if both sides can move forward beyond the strike, but the damage from the experience runs deep.

  • 204. Sped Mom  |  March 22, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    “…then what exactly does tenure mean?”

    I believe it means access to due process. End of story. 🙂

  • 205. LR  |  March 22, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    @190, I always assumed that it would happen at the beginning of the year because the CTU and CPS meet in August, right? I think when teachers are mock voting, it is taking into account all the mandates (7.5 hour day, 10 extra calendar days, no raise, etc.). It would be interesting to take another mock vote with the assumption of no raise, but 6.5 hour day and 5 extra calendar days. I’m curious to see if that number would go down at all. If not, then we are really in trouble.

  • 206. Skinmom  |  March 22, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I don’t think there would be enough votes for a strike. There are too many young and “new” teachers who care more about having a job. The veteran teachers have been around longer and are more about solidarity. Hence the reason schools agreed to be part of the pioneer program.

    My guess is that Rahm will give in to a 6.5 day to appease parents and screw over the teachers w no extra pay. We applied to a private school for my son due to the horrible impact the longer day has had on him. Letters should arrive next week. We are leaning more towards private at this point bc Rahm is a loose canon. He has made it clear he doesn’t care and I will make my point clear when I don’t make the mistake of voting for him again.

  • 207. liza  |  March 22, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    @157 Thank you for so eloquently stating what so many of us teachers are feeling at this time. Just as many CPS parents (myself included) felt that they have no real voice or input about our children, as a teacher I feel I have been left out of the planning as well. Unfortunately, I think it leads to resentment and bitterness which serves no one well. Everyone would like to find a scapegoat for all the problems of public education. Everyone is afraid in this economy of losing what they have and will do all they can to hold on to what they have. Pointing fingers and blaming teachers, unions, principals, administration, parents, etc,. does not begin to solve the problems we face. This crisis in public education is not limited to Chicago, this is a national problem. We truly need to come together as parents and teachers to be effective in shaping the future of public education. With emotions running high on so many issues, I truly fear that we are rushing to find quick fixes that will never address the problems nor fix them.

  • 208. cps alum  |  March 22, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Off topic but….

    The U of C report on the IB program in Chicago very interesting….
    The Sun Times had an article on it in today’s paper.. this is the link to the actual study.

  • 209. EdgewaterMom  |  March 22, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    @193 Miss-B Who makes the decision about switching to Track E? Does the LSC vote on it? Our principal mentioned that it was a possibility a few weeks ago, but said she did not have much information yet. I am curious as to how this is decided.

    I think that Track E makes so much sense. It seems as if the first month of school is spent reviewing everything from the previous year because the kids lose so much ground over the summer. I wish that all of the elementary schools would switch to Track E so that the park district could schedule programs to work with Track E.

  • 210. Lincoln and Alcott becoming one school  |  March 23, 2012 at 7:14 am


    Do you have information about Lincoln taking over Alcott?

    With school letters coming out next week I need more information to make an informed decision, but no one seems to know much.

    Language, style of math curriculum, after school programs. Everything is different between the schools.

    If you have even an opinion on this I would like to hear.

  • 211. HSObsessed  |  March 23, 2012 at 7:41 am

    @208, Lincoln is not taking over Alcott. Alcott is underenrolled. Lincoln is overenrolled. Having some kind of shared space or merger is one of many options being floated by CPS, but there is no consensus, no decision. The option is not one that is widely supported by the population of either of the schools. I’m a Lincoln parent.

  • 212. HS Mom  |  March 23, 2012 at 9:18 am

    @206 – took a look at your report. Very interesting and informative. This is the best news yet about neighborhood schools. Looks like people really need to check out these IB programs as SE alternatives or even 1st choice.

    RLJ – there’s still hope!

  • 213. RL Julia  |  March 23, 2012 at 9:33 am

    206/210 – also read the report and really excited about the idea that the IB programs are actually “there” already from a college prep standpoint. While the highest profile IB high school program is at Lincoln Park, there are IB programs at Odgen, Taft, Senn, Amunsen on the north side. Love the fact that they are all certified by the International stand-alone organization and that the teachers have to be additionally certified to teach.

  • 214. cpsmama  |  March 23, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I’ve seen/heard a few people say that Track E is better for AP classes b/c those students will have had more time in class before AP exams in May.

    Please note that even though they start 3 weeks earlier than Track R, due to the 2 week fall break and the extra week at winter break, Track E students will be in school the EXACT same number of days as Track R students by the time of AP exams.

    So much for that theory

  • 215. Miss-B  |  March 23, 2012 at 10:19 am

    @Edgewatermom and 195- I don’t know who makes the final decision regarding schedules. I always thought that it was ultimately the principal’s decision. This is our first year at Ogden (after three years at Pritzker, which we were very sad to leave) and I don’t know a lot of the other parents yet. Ogden has historically followed its own individual schedule (sort of a modified Track R). We started the week before Track R schools in the fall. We had a week off for Thanksgiving break. We also had 10 half days throughout the year. The schedule made a lot of sense and was convenient for us. But it was inconvenient to be so divergent from the other CPS schedules. I suspected Ogden might be moving to Track E (there were rumors) but mostly I just assumed that all of CPS is eventually going to go Track E.

    Except for the “October break” I don’t see much difference between Track R and Track E. The summer is slightly shorter. Ogden Elementary is brand-spanking new and fully air conditioned, so that won’t be a problem. I don’t know if the HS has air conditioning or not.

    I’m digging in my heels to stay the next seven years at Ogden. It means my b/g twins will have to share a bedroom in our small condo until they’re 13. But we aren’t leaving the city and we need to have Ogden High School as an option in 2018. After watching my friends with older kids go through the high school nightmare of 2012, I’m not leaving anything to chance.

  • 216. Danna  |  March 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    This is a “proposed” 2011-2013 school year calendar, right? The teacher’s still have to agree to working more hours and more days with a very little pay increase if any at all.

  • 217. Another Vet  |  March 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Danna, yes, sort of.

    The mayor and CPS may unilaterally impose any length of school day and any length of school year they wish without input from teachers (or parents).

    But CPS must negotiate over salary and benefits. The catch – the details of which are complicated and difficult to understand if one is afflicted with common sense – is that salary and benefits bargaining are technically entirely removed from the length of the school day and school year.

  • 218. Common Sense  |  March 24, 2012 at 9:16 am

    SB7 removed any negotiation of length of day or length of year with the CTU – CTU can not fight this. PARENTS and COMMUNITY MEMBERS must speak up!

  • 219. wy mom  |  March 24, 2012 at 9:56 am

    No matter what the schedule is, my kids wont be going to school on Columbus Day…

  • 220. EdgewaterMom  |  March 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    @217 wy mom. I am curious, how do you celebrate Columbus day?

    I have to say that even after 5 years at CPS, my daughter had no idea who Pulaski was (she obviously knows who Columbus is, but I can’t say that we ever did anything to commemorate him on Columbus day). If CPS wants to honor Columbus and Pulaski, I think it makes more sense to TEACH kids about them and do something special in school on those days.

    I also find it odd that we still have Lincoln’s birthday AND President’s day, especially since they are only a week apart.

  • 221. NIkki  |  April 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm


    I think a longer school day is better. How on earth will teachers be entering grades in while there are students everywhere on Profess. Devel. Day? And Report card day,… *Sigh* thats a great big MESS! Whats the point of coming for jus 4 hrs and having to get ur grades and go home? Id rather not go. Plus people have EX cir. activities and they willl be devoting all their time to school!

    Havent the people that went to school years before us studied well and become sucessfuL?!?!

  • 222. wymomMM  |  April 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm


  • 223. cpsobsessed  |  April 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I feel like rahm has paid WAY more attention to education than daley ever did. Whether you agree with his choices or not, he is making it front and center for a change. I feel like cps languished for so many years.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 224. mom2  |  April 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    @cpsobsessed – I agree.

  • 225. Chris  |  April 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    “@cpsobsessed – I agree.”


  • 226. chicagodad  |  April 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    By reducing the day to 7 hours all the planning schools have done to adjust and modify their schedules for the 7 1/2 hour day is now a total loss. Way to go CPS, as if our schools principals and teachers have tons of free time for a do over. As usual, the schools budgets are nowhere to be seen yet either. Time for some major accountability at 125 Clark St. Pink slip accountability.

  • 227. Jordin  |  April 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Here is some new calendar info for HS parents – I just learned that my freshman will have 2 days off next week (Apr 24 and 25) while the Juniors take PSAE test. Confirmed with other HS that this is according to CPS and Illinois State Code (????). So at my school 1200 kids will have 2 days off in a month that has already included 7 days off (Spring Break, Prof Dev, Report Card) so that 400 kids can take a test. How insane is this?

    Also note that these days are NOT recorded on the CPS calendar as non-attendance days, so we are being misled as to the number of days actually in attendance.

    It would be helpful to generate some comments on this as I plan to send comments to CPS, the mayor’s office and any other organizations that might take up the cause of eliminating such ridiculous response to testing days.

  • 228. Katie  |  May 29, 2012 at 11:34 am

    how do you know what track you are on? i will be going to whitney young in the fall, but I am new to CPS

  • 229. Jayda's Mom  |  August 13, 2012 at 4:04 am

    What are the new hours for the CPS Track R elementary schools?

  • 230. cpsobsessed  |  August 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Schools have staggered start times so you have to check with the specific school.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 231.  |  January 11, 2013 at 10:59 am

    “New School Schedule – Plan those late August vacations!
    CPS Obsessed” was a marvelous post, cannot
    wait to read more of your blog posts. Time to squander some time on-line lolz.
    Thanks for your effort ,Carmine

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