The Budgets Are Coming, The Budgets Are Coming

May 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm 485 comments

A reader suggested we talk about the school budgets that will be coming out soon.  I am never very knowledgeable on this topic, so feel free to add whatever you know.

Each school gets a budget of discretionary funds that are used to pay for “extra” things that the board doesn’t cover.   This CAN (and usually does) cover some teaching positions because the formula through which positions are assigned is sort of crazy.  Position assignments work best in a school where the grades are all evenly balanced and the number of kids per grade splits nicely into an even number of classes.  In schools that have a lot of kids in the lower grades and very few in the higher grades, and some grades with an oddly high number of kids, it gets out of whack.  I believe the number of teachers assigned is basesd on the school enrollment total, so it just doesn’t always fall out evenly, leaving the need for a couple extra teachers here and there.

The money that many schools get is very very dismally small.  As we all know, the challenge for 2012/13 is about how to cover this extra time in the school day, when the teachers’ time is pretty restricted in terms of supervising recess, etc.

There is talk that there will be some extra money to help schools cover the time, but it’s still unclear how much and where it’ll come from given that CPS has a budget shortfall.   Brizard has talked about PRIORITIZING for months now and I guess this is where we’ll see how it shakes out.  We know that the IB coordinators will be cut.   Someone wrote to tell me that the program called Freshman Connection (is that just for SE high schools or all high schools) that gives freshman a few weeks to get acclimated to their new (bigger) school is also being cut.  I’m sure there will be other cuts as well.

In regards to covering the extra school day time, I wanted to report back on the interviews I did with the principals from Fiske and Disney II.   I’ve mention this before, but I was really blown away by both women.  The longer day made total sense the way they talked about it.  They have vey high standards for their schools and have a LOT they want to teach the kids.  Of course I asked about the coverage of recess, etc.  They both handle it “creatively” within their school/community.  Neither school is using their pioneer money to make it work.

Fiske uses and outside volunteer organization that the principal has forged a relationship with to bring people into the school to help.  I asked whether it was difficult to get people to show up, schedule them etc.  I was told that the organization (via outside funding or grants or something) actually provides a stipend to some of the volunteers.  So that is a pretty awesome setup.

At Disney II, the principal mentioned that they (*updated to reflect input from DII that the use security and classroom assistants for supervision times.)

Both women felt that each school needed to use their particular resources to find a way to make it work, and they didn’t consider it a major obstacle. (just paraphrasing here.)

Each year the big funding questions in the elementary schools tend to be about : Free Pre-K, Full day kindergarten, specials (gym, library tech, etc.)   I’d imagine these may still be uncertain this year?

Feel free to share any thoughts/info/speculation on the budgets…..

*See comment #39 for input from CPS.  Also below is a link to Brizard’s recent webcast where he answers questions in response to parents’ video questions:

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Few random things… Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On Charters growing in CPS – up to 25% of schools?

485 Comments Add your own

  • 1. EdgewaterMom  |  May 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    If the money for the IB coordinator positions is being cut, does that mean that principals will have to fund these positions from the “discretionary” funds? The IB organization requires that they have an IB coordinator, so I don’t really understand how they can consider this discretionary.

  • 2. anonymouseteacher  |  May 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Our school didn’t lose any positions, got to keep full day kindergarten and preschool for all, but we didn’t gain the positions we needed to make the day work. We are looking into hiring outside groups to staff recess with the small amount of extra money we got (less than 50K). We are also considering paying people to staff recess since our volunteers call in and can’t make it so much of the time. I am not sure how it will work out, nor how we will afford the materials needed to meet common core standards. They pretty much just shifted money around and now principals get to decide if they want to fix the leaky ceiling or hire an art teacher. That way, individual principals will bear the burden instead of central office.
    I think, in the end, we’ll all figure something out, but wow, their are some hard choices on the line here. To me, it feels kind of like the choice between paying your electric bill or your gas bill.

  • 3. jillwohl  |  May 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    A budget is a set of priorities, and the administration seems intent to keep quite the lid on this one. So much for framing themselves as a business model responsive to “shareholders.”

    My favorite quote on CPS these days comes from a recent article in Crain’s on the Mayor’s education reform policies: “Even assuming the best, these measures are not the ones that hold the most promise for improving the education of the largest number of students.”


    So far, Raise Your Hand has heard from schools that have gotten positions cut, increased discretionary money, yet guidance not to use that money to replace lost positions.

    I would love nothing more than to be wrong about this, but a lack of transparency and a top-down atmosphere of fear is only serving to foment growing distrust from parents.

    I think Chris G. of Chicago Parents for Quality Education would be glad to share a point/counterpoint on how the longer day plays out for his Pioneer student. I don’t dispute that a 5-, 10-, heck 15-hour day could possibly “work” for certain kids in “creative” situations. But I would not engage in syllogistic fallacy to extrapolate this measure would work for all kids, in all situations, or that it’s the most important thing in the world to do so.

    The point is, why is CPS investing in wishful thinking and being intentionally opaque on funding? There is such a limited budget and far more pressing issues to troubleshoot.

  • 4. anniesullivan  |  May 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Do the people from the outside agency who are supervising the children have fingerprint checks?

    Using SECAs to supervise recess is a misuse of special education funds. SECAs are assigned to a specific child not a school and ISBE has cited CPS in the past for this practice. It is ashamed that principals really do not understand the role of the SECAS nor do that understand the dictates of the IEP. I will bet that none of the IEPs state recess supervision of anyone other that the name of the child on the IEP.

  • 5. anonymouseteacher  |  May 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Annie, that was my concern when I read about what Disney II is doing with SECA’s. I can only think the principal is being incredibly savvy and pairs the SECA with the classroom their assigned student is with during recess and lunch. Would that too be a violation? Or are there other types of aides that some schools get funding for that might be used? I know that my principal won’t use our aides for that, because we ONLY have SECA’s and no other kind of aide and it is against sped laws to use them otherwise. Surely the DII principal has found some way to do it without violating the law? That is what I am hoping.

  • 6. Mayfair Dad  |  May 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm,0,1011870.story

    From today’s Chicago Tribune:

    “Faced with a nearly $700 million budget deficit, Chicago Public Schools has proposed a capital spending budget for the coming fiscal year of $110 million, a sharp drop from this year’s $660 million.“
    I didn’t graduate from a selective enrollment high school, but by my reckoning that comes out to a $550M budget reduction just in capital spending, correct?

    Apparently the Rahmfather will pay for future school improvements and new school buildings with his dandy new Infrastructure Trust scheme, or continue to dip into the TIF piggybank as needed.

    I don’t expect leaky roofs or schoolyard potholes will be getting fixed any time soon.

  • 7. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    They don’t have the money for the longer day unless it’s just longer and not better. They have no money for ancillary programs. The guide they have given teachers to purchase what will be needed is a joke and many schools lost 1-2 teachers. They can’t fund the day properly unless they just add time to each class.

  • 8. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    They are giving principals the autonomy to make the cuts that have to be made so CPS can blame the principals when programs/teachers are cut and classes are larger.

  • 9. local  |  May 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    “Do the people from the outside agency who are supervising the children have fingerprint checks?” – I am very concerned about this. And are they trained on how to keep appropriate boundaries with students? Etc.

  • 10. local  |  May 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    “Surely the DII principal has found some way to do it without violating the law? That is what I am hoping.” – Me, too. It’s hard enough ensuring that sped students get their aide each day.

  • 11. local  |  May 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    “Someone wrote to tell me that the program called Freshman Connection (is that just for SE high schools or all high schools) that gives freshman a few weeks to get acclimated to their new (bigger) school is also being cut.” – Penny wise and pound foolish. Orienting students to a school (hopefully not just the SEHSs!) is critical so they can hit the ground running when school starts. Betcha there’s even research that proves the effectiveness of good orientation programs for HSs.

  • 12. IB obsessed formerly Gawker  |  May 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Principals can opt to keep Freshman Connection and their IB coordinators (no choice there if they want to keep IB), I learned at the LSC I attended this week. It seems instead of getting funds earmarked for these, they are now getting a lump sum to use as they determine. The bottom line is a net decrease in funds, however.

  • 13. EdgewaterMom  |  May 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Although I think that it is really false advertising for the city to say that they are increasing discretionary funding, I suppose that I would rather have principals making decisions about what to cut rather than the city making blanket choices for all schools. Obviously we would all prefer that they NOT have to make any cuts, but that is not feasible.

  • 14. lt246  |  May 6, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I think you need to get a counterpoint to the two principals on the longer day. I have heard the principals at my two kids’ schools express profound reservations about the unfunded time, but I doubt they could say so on the record. There are also many, many teachers who can shed light on all the drawbacks and problems it will cause for teachers. I just don’t think the principal at Disney II is necessarily representative–she’s definitely a darling of Clark st.

  • 15. anonymous  |  May 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    #14 –agree — a counterpoint from a principal at an overcrowded school that is not as well funded as D2 would give us a realistic view.

  • 16. mom1  |  May 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    There is no money for a longer school day… and I’m not just talking about teachers’ salaries. There are all sorts of overhead that needs to be taken into consideration. Has this been considered in the budget? I have talked with two teachers I know personally at two schools and both have indicated that virtually all teachers in their schools have voted for going on strike if they aren’t compensated for their longer day. I know everyone is acting like this is a done deal but CPS is going to have to make some bigger cuts if this longer day is going to happen.

  • 17. LR  |  May 6, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Bringing volunteers into the schools from outside organizations makes me nervous because I have no idea how these people are screened, trained, etc. And while their motivations may be totally legitimate, you just never know. Anyone who has contact with our children should have to go through the same procedures of background checks, references, etc. CPS should have some sort of “protecting children” training in place (like the VIRTUS training that anyone who volunteers at Catholic schools has to go through). Also, volunteers should be trained in CPR/AED. CPS really needs to be smart about this…it seems like an easy decision to just take the cheapest route possible, but there is liability here (in more than one way). I have supervised recess at my son’s Catholic school and it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are frequent injuries – mostly cuts, scrapes and bruises, but occasionally more serious things. I think you need paid, trained people for this, even if it is minimum wage.

  • 18. BChkoumbova  |  May 7, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Cps obsessed, I would like to provide a clarification. Disney II doesn’t have Special Education Classroom Assistants. Classroom teacher assistants and security are used to supervise lunch and recess.

  • […] The Budgets Are Coming, The Budgets Are Coming cpsobsessed: Each year the big funding questions in the elementary schools tend to be about : Free Pre-K, Full day kindergarten, specials (gym, library tech, etc.)   I’d imagine these may still be uncertain this year? […]

  • 20. anonymous  |  May 7, 2012 at 7:30 am

    #18 — D2 — Please share how many classroom t.a’s you have and how may SpED classroom asst.s you have.

  • 21. mom1  |  May 7, 2012 at 8:32 am

    I’m with LR on the volunteer issue. And additionally if these are volunteers – what is the backup plan when they don’t show up?

  • 22. Sharon  |  May 7, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Much rather have a parent volunteer than someone making minimum wage as suggested above. Who are you going to get who will work for two hours a day at minimum wage. Think about it.

  • 23. CPS Parent  |  May 7, 2012 at 9:24 am

    My kids haven’t been in elementary school for a while so please excuse my naiveté but why can’t a teacher supervise his/her kids when they are out for recces? Do you need more than one adult per class to supervise?

  • 24. Kelly  |  May 7, 2012 at 10:21 am

    In this declining budget, paraprofessionals are unlikely to be added but it sure would be great to have at least part time aides in the younger grades and then use those people’s free time for recess supervision.

    If teachers supervise recess, which I think is a likely possibility, then they are with kids non-stop all day. Remember teachers are professionals and need prep time, collaboration time, assessment time (not to mention a bathroom break). I think raise your hand did a lot of work to come up with plans for managing recess. I recall a recess packet from their website which was something like 30 pages long. I admit I didn’t read it but I bet it covered supervision.

  • 25. sandersrockets  |  May 7, 2012 at 10:45 am

    My principal spoke with us this morning briefly and said their will be staff and materials cuts based on the board budgets. When asked how we will fund the other specials we are required to have (we currently only have 2 gyms and a library) the board told us to “be creative.” Scary!!

  • 26. Mayfair Dad  |  May 7, 2012 at 10:52 am

    @ 22: Maybe you will get some of the stay-at-home parents to work for minimum wage, families who would be thankful for a little extra income in this tough economy. They would be more likely to show up due to a (minimal) paycheck being involved. By all means perform background checks on everyone that comes in contact with kids, including parent part-time employees.

    Even teachers need to use the toilet sometimes. It would be inhumane not to give them a break at some point during the 7.0 hour day.

  • 27. WY or bust  |  May 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

    @14 – I agree as well. I would love to hear the point of view from a few South or West Side (not South or West Loop) Schools which probably represent the majority of the struggling schools. Sometimes the Downtown/Northside opinions distorts the discussion.

  • 28. sandersrockets  |  May 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I work in Englewood. While the time is needed instructionally, we have difficult time finding consistent appropriate help. The struggle is enormous, in fact. The restrictions the board is putting on us are huge. We have two gyms because we aren’t safe for recess.

  • 29. CPS Parent  |  May 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    @28 what do you mean – are there too many students in your class and you need additional teaching help? What Board level restrictions are you referring to? Is your school on academic probation and therefore there are additional rules? I’m assuming you are teaching in an elementary school.

  • 30. sandersrockets  |  May 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    @29 – I’m not referring to additional help for teaching. I’m referring to consistent parent help for the additional positions the board are asking to be covered. We do not have enough aides because we do not have a high population of special education students. (As a side note, who will help those special needs students when their aides are covering other duties.) Those I’m speaking of are lunch coverage, recess coverage, and extra prep or specials that we do not have people in the building for currently. We are already short people. They are cutting more. I would love to know how this is going to happen. As I mentioned earlier, we have two gyms and a library because our campus is not in an area safe enough for recess many days. We are not on probation, the rules apply to the limited flexibility they are allowing with their unfunded full-day plan. And yes, I’m elementary in a school I love!

  • 31. CPS Parent  |  May 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    @29 My understanding is that SB7 has removed all work rules from the CTU contract and therefore teachers can be assigned to all duties as needed. Will this help in your school to cover “additional positions”? Teachers can now be assigned to do recess supervision for example.

  • 32. sandersrockets  |  May 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    True, @31 as a classroom teacher, we do cover all areas. Under the full-day plan, recess and lunch are scheduled for 45 mins – equal time to their teacher’s lunch.

  • 33. Livingintheinterestingcpstimes  |  May 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    My understanding is that under state (federal?) law you cannot make an adult work a full day without offering them a free time, i.e. the 45 minute lunch, to eat and go to the bathroom. Thus, teachers cannot supervise recess because that would be work, and it would break labor laws. The same labor laws that were fought for during the Pullman riots, here in Chicago.

  • 34. CPS Parent  |  May 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    @33 I think teachers are “exempt” employees and issues such as lunch/breaks are not mandated by law. At private schools i’m familiar with teachers supervise students while eating their own lunch.

  • 35. anniesullivan  |  May 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    At private schools you probably could actually eat a sandwich and supervise lunch but in CPS you will need to stop or break up fights, stand over children to make sure they follow the rules or ensure that the language at the lunch table is appropriate. At private schools the teachers do to have to be certified ( nor degreed) so I am sure they are happy to have any type of job.

    Our school does not have a lunchroom so lunch is in the classrooms and the gym is used for gym all day so where will this 45 minute recess take place? We have no aides and one security guard so supervision will be an issue.

  • 36. IB obsessed formerly Gawker  |  May 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Ouch. Private school kids are angels who don’t swear or fight and in CPS all the lunch rooms are zoos? This is about as accurate as depicting private school teachers as un-degreed un-certified Starbucks rejects. Wow.

  • 37. Me  |  May 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    That is the problem I have. Each school has a different situation. Without funding how can the Board say “be creative” and think that is good for our children. It’s insulting.

  • 38. Jen K  |  May 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    @26 Mayfair Dad – thanks for your positive attitude in coming up with suggestions that I’m frustrated with most posters (on this and other topics) who are so quick to point out why this won’t work & why that won’t work. Somehow this got to be a thread on “Recess”. Talk to your Principals about recess options — what do they need to make it work? What are the obstacles? Can you do anything to help? There actually might be some good plans already developed.

  • 39. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Here is a note from CPS about the thread:
    CPS has provided details on how much additional funding will be allocated to schools next year, as well as where those additional dollars are coming from. At last month’s board meeting CPS announced that through a combination of re-directing over $50 million in spending on centrally run programs, over $100 million in cuts and efficiencies in administrative and operations spending outside of the classroom, as well as identifying other ways to maximize dollars sent directly to schools, we’ve identified $130 million in additional discretionary funding to give principals and schools communities the flexibility to align resources to drive student achievement.

    These additional funds will give schools increased control over allocating resources to support priorities including; implementing the Common Core State Standards, the CPS Instructional Framework, supporting the Full School Day, staffing, curricular and intervention materials, out of school time services and other needs to support college and career readiness. Given all schools are different, CPS believes that in many cases, principals and school communities — not the Central Office — know how to invest dollars in a way that best drives academic achievement of their unique student body.

    And to address Anonymousteacher’s comment (#2): The suggestion that school budgets forced schools to choose between fixing up buildings and adding instructional positions is misleading. The school-based budgets distributed over the past few weeks are instructional budgets and do not include funds for facilities or operations. The full budget with all details will be released in June. We wanted to give principals an opportunity to begin structuring their school day and year, solely focused on instructional priorities and driving student achievement, and that’s what we’ve done with our school-based budgets.

  • 40. OutsideLookingIn  |  May 7, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    @38 Jen K – Amen! It’s easy to say why someone’s idea won’t work. Much harder to think of a solution that will. And some people seem to thrive on being in a state of perpetual outrage.

  • 41. lt246  |  May 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    @39 (to CPS, not CPSO) Can you explain how you “found” $130 million in efficiencies without simply moving the same money from one place to the other?A cut is a cut, even if you dress it up in the language of “autonomy” and “creativity.” The city is sitting on millions in tif funds, gives millions away to corporations like the CME, but can’t find the money to pay teachers for working this longest day? Doesn’t Penny Pritzker have a few hundred million she could spare?

  • 42. BuenaParkMom  |  May 7, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    All volunteers at CPS schools have to complete a volunteer application which includes a background check. Even if they are coming in to read to the kids (for example as part of the Real Men Read program) one time. Here’s the link to the application in case anyone would like to actually volunteer in a school 🙂

    Click to access volunteer_application.pdf

  • 43. anonymous  |  May 8, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Unless it includes a fingerprint check it is useless

  • 44. anonymous  |  May 8, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Volunteers can never be the entire answer — CPS is just blowing smoke.

  • 45. CLB  |  May 8, 2012 at 7:49 am

    CPS would save itself some grief if it posted the instructional budgets for each school on its website.

  • 46. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 8, 2012 at 7:54 am

    #39~CPS (not CPSO)~those are cuts and you can’t fund the longer day. CPS still has a $700M deficit~you/ve shifted money around but no new funds have been forthcoming. There will be program cuts, teacher layoffs and larger class sizes. Dr. Cheatem at a meeting already said that there are no new funds. The City is sitting on $500M tif funds, but Rahm won’t use it. The instructional fund guide is a JOKE bc the real budget isn’t in play and when it is CPS will wash their hands of it and blame the principal who have made the cuts. Many schools are losing 1-2 teachers. CPS can not pay for the longer day.

  • 47. Bucktown Parent  |  May 8, 2012 at 7:56 am

    What are these volunteers needed for? Are teachers being laid off?

  • 48. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 8, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Call your House rep and oppose HB4277. This bill allows for charters that starve our neighborhood schools for money, to gain even more money from the schools. Charters schools get private money that traditional schools don’t. Charters dont need anymore of CPS money.

  • 49. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 8, 2012 at 7:58 am

    #45~I have the instructional guide~it’s a joke!

  • 50. Bucktown Parent  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:04 am

    @46 Do you mean that the budgets the schools received last week aren’t “real”? What are they then? Do you mean that principals are going to “cut” the budgets they have just received.

    By the way, CPS does benefit from tif funds since they are used to bond capital projects.

  • 51. cpsobsessed  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Also, why are schools having to cut 1-2 teacher positions?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 52. cpsobsessed  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Volunteers are needed to cover extra time for recess and lunch, unless there is some creative way to stagger teachers?
    The day is 7 hours, but teachers cannot be overseeing kids for 7. So there is a need to cover that extra time. But with fewer adults (ie: lunch monitors, recess monitors.)
    Is there not a way to stagger teacher time for this and bring in just a few volunteers?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 53. Bucktown Parent  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Why can’t teachers oversee kids for 7 hours?

  • 54. EdgewaterMom  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:18 am

    @53 Because they need to have time off for lunch and time for teacher prep. Somebody else needs to be responsible for the students during that time.

  • 55. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:27 am

    #51~some schools are losing music, art~those teachers will be cut. CPS can’t afford a longer day so ancillary programs have to go.

    #50~principals have been given a guideline of what things will cost not how much money they have and they have been strongly urged not to pay for teachers.

    CPS has no new funds as Dr. Cheatum told us at a meeting. The budgets wont’ be finalized until end of summer. They have no new money, but have only shifted money around to appear like there are new funds.

    I urge every1~talk to your principals~although CPS has told them not to talk to you.

  • 56. LP mom  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:29 am

    @42 – volunteers freely roam and help in the classroom at my child’s school with absolutely no background check or even filling out a form.

  • 57. Bucktown Parent  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:41 am

    @54 can’t teachers have their lunch while the kids have their lunch? When do they do “teacher prep” currently? Do they get time away from the kids while kids are at school?

    @55 I though teachers, including music, art are funded according to a formula based on the number of students in the school. Has the formula changed or are the schools shrinking in size?

  • 58. cpsobsessed  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I believe that schools use their discretionary funds to pay for an extra teacher or 2, they can bump up funding for a special if they want (and have $). So if discretionary funds shrink (which they may, due to the budget gap) then certainly there could be teacher cuts. I’m just not clear if this is happening yet.
    Is each school’s budget significantly lower than last year?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 59. cpsobsessed  |  May 8, 2012 at 9:04 am

    But isn’t “shifting” still putting more money into the schools (everday exepenses) while cutting things that have been deemed unnecessary?
    (Assuming the things that were cut are valid cuts.)

    Devil’s advocate here, but CPS doesn’t just get to request new money. Illinois and/or Chicago controls that (clearly rahm can play a role in the chicago aspect?). So while we (or someone – Raise Your Hand) fight for more money, in the meantime, we gotta find some IN the system.
    CPS won’t get more money until the voters demand it.

    Rasie Your Hand is organizing a trip to springfield for this purpose. For those who can make it work, I urge you to go to their website to look into joining them.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 60. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 8, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Yes, shifting may be used to pull different money, but the ‘final’ budget will be considerably less, so there will be no new money in the long run.

  • 61. Bucktown Parent  |  May 8, 2012 at 10:29 am

    @59 the 130 million is being used to increase the discretionary funds, however, principals are being discouraged from using those funds for positions since (in my opinion) it undermines what Clark Str. thinks are the correct staffing levels.

    Positions are granted based on formulas which correlate to school size. Many schools continue to shrink and position are then lost. Schools can apply for “waivers” to go beyond the formula and positions are granted that way year-to-year. The budget office is being very aggressive this year (more than in the past I think) in withdrawing those positions. Principals will have to (re)justify those waiver positions and not all will be granted.

    The elephant in the room that could disrupt the school level budgets and all the planning that principals are now doing (since they have their budgets) is the CTU contract. The potential salary increase could reduce the school level budgets and that won’t be resolved until late into the summer. My own guess is that if the CTU increase is at 2% – 4% for the first year school budgets will be ok.

  • 62. Bucktown Parent  |  May 8, 2012 at 10:57 am

    For those who might be interested, my own rough calculation indicates that every 1% increase in teacher pay is equal to one position at each school. So if for instance the agreed to increase ends up at 6% but the funding level CPS gets will only accommodate a maximum 4% increase, approximately 2 x 600 (schools) or 1200 teachers would be at risk of loosing their jobs.

    This a very rough estimate but I think the scale of the issue is more or less correct. If anyone here has a better estimate please weigh in.

  • 63. 8th grade mom  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:09 am

    @57 – Then who is watching the kids during lunch? If the teachers are watching the kids, then it’s not “down time” for them. If not, the school needs to hire extra staff for lunch duty, or use volunteers.

  • 64. Patricia  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Several people contacted me asking me to post about recess. I have never “blogged” before, so please excuse any mistakes I am bound to make. While I am no longer with RYH, I was last year and the person who wrote the tool kit, conducted the parent training and worked with cps on it along with support from the rest of the ryh team. I still have conversations with cps and am currently advocating for recess training for schools and parents.

    Recess is not as scary as it seems. We all grew up with recess and it is great news that children in cps will finally get recess again. Let’s help make that happen for the kids! That is not to say that it will be easy for all schools, but it is certainly doable in most all cps schools. Full disclosure, I am a “glass is half full” type of person and focus on solutions, not complaining. I know this will annoy some, but just letting you know up front 😉

    Here is a link to the RYH tool kit. It is a bit dated at this point (which is actually really exciting that recess has come so far in the past year) and focuses on moving to open schedule. However, the scheduling, things to consider and plan for and school profiles are still relevant.

    RYH tool kit for recess

    Here is the CPS Recess Tool Kit (old version) that also focuses on moving to open schedule, but has good general information that is still relevant.

    Click to access CPSDevelopingSchoolRecessPlan%205-23-11.pdf

  • 65. Bucktown Parent  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:18 am

    @63 My point is that eating lunch while keeping an eye on the students is “down time”. Isn’t sharing a meal together what we do for enjoyment?

  • 66. Patricia  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:28 am

    I also wanted to share that CPS is revising the recess information guide published for the longer day. Principals received the first version and there was a recess webinar available for principals. The new version will likely be published in June. It has a lot more information, policy guidelines and school profiles that share best practices. I will pass this along to CPSO when I get wind of it being published. Or it is likely some of you will know about it before I do! You all are quite a well informed group!

    Also, CPS issued a RFP for recess providers for the schools. I don’t know much about it, but organizations like Playworks, Chicago Runs, Stretch-n-Grow, etc. will hopefully submit proposals for them to be “pre approved/screened” vendors (or whatever they call them) for schools to determine if they want to use them. I do know some, if not most, will require fees, but most seem to be not-for-profits. I think these will be listed in the new guide too. Also, organizations like COFI and HSC have been working on recess for about 10 years and have trainings for schools with safety concerns, etc. I had the honor of sitting on a recess panel last year at a COFI event and these recess advocates have some great advice and experience!

    Here are some things that schools have shared with me about recess. All are quite common sense and as noted on this blog, it will vary school by school.

    1) Scheduling is a bear. Some schools have focused the scheduling of specials/gym to free up either the specials or homeroom teachers to supervise recess. Whichever group supervises, then is able to take their duty free lunch during another period of the day.
    2) Flip/flopping lunch and recess works well at many schools. i.e. Grades 2-5 have recess the same period. Grades 2 and 4 have lunch then recess. Grades 3 and 5 have recess then lunch. This way there is about 150-200 kids during the period, but the flip flopping allows for only 75-100 to be in the lunchroom or playground at any given time.
    3) Security guards and office staff help supervise recess which frees up teachers from supervising. Many schools also have either the AP or Principal supervise too which not only keeps the kids in line, but adds a body to supervise.
    4) Some schools that use parent volunteers have “overbooked” recess supervision so that if someone doesn’t show up on a given day, it is not a panic situation.
    5) Recess supervision training is so valuable! Ensure adults know how to supervise. Some schools have an assembly beginning of the year to set expectations of how behavior during recess. Use rock-paper-scissors school wide to resolve playground disputes. Some schools have student panels, etc.
    6) Have a school wide “playground clean up day” in August to get your space ready.
    7) Bad weather is a complete drag. Schools need a plan and some are very creative! Indoor stair exercise, hallway yoga, auditorium group games or small groups.

    I am sure the participants on this blog can come up with countless ideas on how to make this work in your own school and share with others. There are so many great things going on in the schools I find one of the most frustrating things with cps is their inadequate ability to share best practices. I hope this helps!

  • 67. Angie  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:29 am

    What about creating the administrative assistant type position that combines lunch/recess supervision when needed and office work during the rest of the day? Is that feasible?

  • 68. CLB  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:30 am

    @59, roughly 46% comes from local property taxes and few smaller taxes. Those can be increased by no more than the CPI or 5%, whichever is lower. Last year, CPS raised the levy to the max, 2.7% (see the FY2012 budget book). That brought in $153.2 million more. (The March 2011 to March 2012 CPI rise was also 2.7%). The state funds are fixed by a formula, which the state under-apppropriated last year, and block grants, which the state also lagged in paying. And the federal money is flat.

    @65, eating w/27-30 kids is “down time”?

  • 69. Jen K  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

    @66 – great comments! Thank you so much for sharing what you have heard. Every idea won’t work at every school but it goes to show that there are a lot of possibilities and plans are in the works.

  • 70. Patricia  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:39 am

    @68 Angie, yes schools have used office staff to supervise lunch/recess and also do their morning attendance, etc. The phones go into voicemail during lunch periods. Pro and con to that.

    Also, some schools have used current after school providers or tutors or other school service providers used for other things to come in early and supervise recess/lunch. This is a cost, but I have been told it is minimal.

  • 71. WorkingMom  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I find it ironic that some of us with time to post on a blog during the day expect teachers to spend their only down time still working. Supervising kids at 3-4 different tables (actually, it’s more than that because some go to “peanut free” tables, so they’re often spread out around the lunch room a bit).

    Sure – I could eat my lunch while working (and frequently, I do), but I certainly wouldn’t want my employer to EXPECT that of me, every single day.

  • 72. Bucktown Parent  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:54 am

    It was a long time ago but during my own elementary school days teachers supervised lunch – which we ate in our classrooms. More recently for my own kids, all the teachers had lunch in the school cafeteria and were responsible for supervision there at the same time.

    Teaching as a profession has many benefits (family friendly hours, plenty of vacation time, no travel, etc.) to be weighed against some negatives the nature of “lunch” being one perhaps.

  • 73. Angie  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I don’t think that supervising while eating lunch should be expected of the teachers. However, taking turns supervising students at lunch/recess, and on that day, eating while his or her students are in the specials class would make more sense.

  • 74. lt246  |  May 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    @71 – I totally agree!

    @72 – with the closed campus, teacher lunch was scheduled at the end of the day after kids left. That’s why you currently see lots of elementary teachers with kids at lunch. With the longer day, teachers will need their 45 min duty-free lunch while kids are in the building, so someone will have to be watching kids – something CPS seems to want to slough off on parents, but I think we should soundly reject as patently ridiculous to staff lunch and recess at 500 schools with parents.

    Also, at our school, the gym is the cafeteria is the auditorium, so where will kids go for recess when it’s raining or too cold if their recess is scheduled during someone else’s lunch? I think CPS is totally ignoring issues like this, just exhorting us to be “creative” and “innovative.” Why, they don’t have anyone creative or innovative downtown? Each and every school has to totally reinvent the wheel with no money to do so?

  • 75. Bucktown Parent  |  May 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I think “duty-free lunch” was a specific negotiated item that expires with the current contract. In addition SB7 takes this type of issue off the negotiating table unless CPS wants to make it an issue. CTU can’t bring it up for negotiation. Am I interpreting this correctly?

  • 76. Patricia  |  May 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I think teachers should get their duty free lunch and schools that have recess have figured out how to schedule it. It certainly is a challenge, but not impossible. (Sorry, being a glass is half full type of person again.) Lincoln is a good example. They have overcrowding issues, but have figured out a schedule where teachers volunteer to cover a lunch shift and according to a teacher from Lincoln, it ends up being once every 2 weeks. Bell also has had recess for years and is very good at scheduling with teachers getting their duty free lunch. Ogden’s principal is also a very good scheduler. Hopefully principals are sharing information and the network chiefs are good at scheduling 🙂

    @74 Space is an issue at many schools and bad weather is a huge challenge. In some schools classrooms are used in bad weather and the teachers go elsewhere if they have their lunch break. Hallways are used, auditoriums. It does get tough with bad weather and schools need a plan.

    Your post also reinforces my belief that cps needs to provide some form of recess training for school personnel and also alow parents to attend. So we all don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Organizations like Playworks have great strategies and tools to make recess manageable.

    I really do not think cps is ignoring issues and if your school has very dire circumstances, your principal should escalate up to their network chief and then to downtown if needed. I do know they are working with individual schools with significant issues. With 365+ elementary schools, we probably do not hear about all that is going on day to day. By no means it is perfect, but there are some really good people trying to make recess happen well for next year.

  • 77. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I think it’s ridiculous of CPS to think parents can be recess monitors. If CPS wants recess then let them pay and staff it.

  • 78. Patricia  |  May 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    You can think what you want, but I do not believe cps is counting on parents to be supervisors of recess. They are certainly allowing it and at the request of parents are adding it to the list of options. There are many schools that use parents to supplement recess coverage and some schools rely heavily on parents. That is something the parent community stepped up to do or insisted upon. They also provided suggested dollar amount guidelines for recess supervision if the principal wants to use discretionary funds accordingly. I have heard ranges from $5000 – $20,000 for a fully external staffed program. It varies school by school.

  • 79. anonymous  |  May 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    To Patricia,

    You are obviously new to CPS or you would not state that teachers at Bell receive a duty free lunch. Lunch is at the end of the day after the children leave. What is going on at most schools is the two ten minute washroom breaks the teachers fought to get in the contract are combined into a twenty minute period. Most schools have lost all of their aides who would cover the classrooms so now in schools where there is a lunchroom the teacher drops off her class and takes her twenty minute break. If they are lucky they can eat although some principals will not allow teachers to eat during this time.

  • 80. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Also, I believe that special aides were let go, so they can’t help out any longer either.

  • 81. LSMom  |  May 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    @79, Patricia is right. Bell is an open campus school and has had lunch during the school day and a real recess for years.

  • 82. Frustrated teacher  |  May 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    @Buck town mom,

    I welcome you to come and join me in supervising lunch! Jeez! So now teachers can’t even get a second to use the washroom or woof down a sandwich? everyone needs a break people.

  • 83. Patricia  |  May 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    @79 Not new to cps, just new to blogging. I have been in the system for 8 years, but it feels like 30 years. Have 3 kids in 3 cps schools in 3 different netowrks.

    I know the painful history of how we got into the no recess mess all too well. And can nearly recite the history and contract language of the past in my sleep. Instead of dwelling on the past and why we are in the mess we are in, let’s look at what we can do about it. We have a chance to finally get recess back for all kids in cps and we have at least 44 schools that we can learn from. Despite the challenges recess is happening in cps. Below is a list of schools that have embraced recess for decades and some that just transitioned in the last year. I think CPS should profile all 44 share their challenges and best practices.

    Schools that have had recess forever (or at least a very long time on open schedule). Bell, Ariel, Edison, LaSalle, Lincoln, Norwood Park, Ogden, Ray, Peterson.

    New to recess in past year through switching to open schedule or being a pioneer school. Onahan, Scammon, Coonley, Burrough, Dumas, Earle, Hamilton, Kershaw, Langford, Pulaski, Shoesmith, Thorpe, Skinner North, Genevievee, STEM, Mays, Brown, Disney II, Nash, Fiske, Howe, Bethune, Montefiore, Sexton, Morton.

    Let’s not forget the many schools that have snuck in “illegal recess” over the years on the short day. They surely have suggestions to offer too.

  • 84. Patricia  |  May 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Novice mistake. For my post #84 above, I meant @80 who was responding to my @79 comment.

  • 85. lt246  |  May 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    @75 Bucktown Parent,

    SB7 says that CPS can impose the length of the day without negotiating that with teachers, but lunch and prep time are work rules that are still subject to bargaining. That’s my understanding.

  • 86. Patricia  |  May 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    IMO, schools should find a way to give the teachers the duty free lunch and it may be a legal thing too. Let’s be real, teachers need a break from the kids. Solutions like hiring aids, using office staff and security guards, rotating lunch duty and shifting schedules to have duty free lunch during other periods in the day is the way to go. Not making teachers miss lunch.

  • 87. Livingintheinterestingcpstimes  |  May 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    @45 To some extent, last year’s budgets (for this school year 2011-12) for each school are online. Go to, click “Find a school” Type the school’s name, then click on the link for that school. Scroll down and open the document called SIPAAA Year 2. That is what the budgets were called last year. It will give you the categories that a school wanted to spend money on. However, it might not give the exact amounts–it will say INCOMPLETE for some categories. This is partially because some principals cloud the budget process. Principals also sometimes move money from one category to another during the year (with the LSC’s permission) depending on need. The SIPAAA might also have activities listed that didn’t cost any money, but were part of the school’s action plan. In this upcoming year, the budget and the action plan will now be two documents. The two plans are supposed to be ‘aligned.’ but it is a bit murky as to what that might mean exactly.

    The questions to be asking are, did the school fund any positions during this school year? If the overall budget is smaller, can they continue to fund those positions? What could they or will they give up to pay for a position? And please remember that a position is not just the salary posted on some of those salary websites–it is usually the salary plus about 25% to pay for cps’ portion of healthcare for that employee.

    Go to your school’s May LSC meeting–principals might be sharing with parents at least some information about the upcoming budgets and most want parent input

  • 88. Christine  |  May 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I have monitored lunch and recess at my child’s school and there is no way it is an enjoyable time of sharing a meal together. Our school is on the smaller side but the 1st and 2nd graders have lunch at the same time and that’s 120 kids. They need help opening their milk cartons and their yogurt containers, they spill things, their behavior often needs redirection (and I am not even talking about fighting or swearing just things like “don’t put your carrots on Jimmy’s head”). These are good kids, just exuberant and over-joyed to be together. As lovely as they are, it is exhausting being “on” all the time. Our teachers absolutely should get 20 minutes to cram down a sandwich and have a few moments quiet.

    We are lucky to have kids from Loyola to monitor recess as well as parent volunteers. The teachers also monitor recess on a rotating basis.

    And as far as I know, everyone who wants to volunteer has to fill out the background check form and get a badge to enter the school.

  • 89. Angie  |  May 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    What is the deal with cutting special ed aides, anyway? I was given some song and dance that it’s all for the best, and all the necessary help will be now provided by special ed teachers, but wouldn’t this actually cost more?

  • 90. liza  |  May 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    @89 At my school, we were told a few months ago that we had to start phasing out our paraprofessionals attached to students. We are also required to complete a new form in order to ask for an aide,even if one had already been assigned in a previous IEP, and it must be submitted 20 or 30 days (not quite sure which one offhand) to the SSA. The SSA will then determine whether or not the child requires an aide. The plan, as was described to us by our case manager, was to do away with the aides, but we would get additional SPED teachers. When the new budget came out, we found out that not only were our aides gone, but we had lost two SPED positions. We are not anticipating a drop in enrollment, and SPED teachers are carrying caseloads of 20 to 25 students in some grades. It should be interesting to see what happens next year. (By the way, out of the four requests for aides so far, three were turned down)

  • 91. Angie  |  May 8, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    @90. liza: Yeah, I kind of figured it was too good to be true, and the case manager looked pretty uncomfortable while telling me this.

    I sure hope that CPS won’t use the money they save on special education to fund across the board salary increases.

  • 92. LR  |  May 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    @39 Chicago Public Schools: Since you brought up capital improvements, from the Chicago Tribune article last week: “For now, the district is trying to tackle only the most critical repairs. A total of $5 million will go toward fixing 10 aging chimneys. District officials are assessing chimney conditions at 225 schools, trying to determine which ones are in dire need of repairs.

    Oriole Park Elementary School on the Northwest Side, where parents and staff complained at a recent board meeting about leaky roofs, will get $2.5 million for renovations. Another $2 million will be spent on roof work, landscaping and parking lot improvements at Higgins Academy on the South Side.”

    So, it sounds like you are suspending capital improvements, with the exception of a few. I understand why CPS would try to close the budget gap this way. After all, it is more politically acceptable to neglect buildings than it is to fire teachers or close more schools. However, I hope that you aren’t planning on deferring improvements or necessary repairs to buildings. So many CPS schools are in such terrible shape – I just have a hard time seeing these things as optional. Please consider come June when your overall budget is issued. And if there is at all a trade-off between finding money to fund a 7 hour day and capital improvements, well…as a parent, I would rather my daughter’s school have bathroom faucets that work and a bigger cafeteria (so students do not have to eat in the halls and auditorium) rather than an extra half hour of school. Thanks.

  • 93. anonymouseteacher  |  May 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    @cpso #39. That is very, very different than what downtown told my principal and told her in writing. I am glad to hear we are getting extra money for building issues. I wonder when they are going to tell principals this info?

  • 94. anonymous  |  May 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    The IEP is a group effort and whether a child needs a one to on aide is based upon consensus and includes the parents and teachers ….oh wait I forgot…in CPS we do not follow the law…the SSAs make the decision without ever observing the child…parents wake up…and what is with these case managers who spout this drivel as if it is from Jesus’ mouth just to keep their $300.00 a month stipend…and where is our always growing law department on this newest scam from OSES….who is monitoring the special education monies….no wonder CPS wants the Corey H. monitors gone…our workloads/caseloads are the highest I have ever seen….where is Mr Brizard?

  • 95. LR  |  May 8, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    @93: From the Trib article, it sounds like there is no money allocated for building issues beyond a few critical projects, which is why I posted. Besides, I don’t think Principals get a budget for building issues…that is handled by the central office. Anyhow, non-functioning boilers, broken plumbing, structural deficiencies, etc. is not stuff that can be ignored, but that seems to be the plan which scares and depresses me.

  • 96. Angie  |  May 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    @94. anonymous: In my case, it was a shared aide for a self-contained deaf classroom. The teacher said that she submitted all the necessary paperwork, and it was denied.

  • 97. anonymouseteacher  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Angie, you might want to consider hiring legal counsel. I think sped issues in CPS are quite messy and a lawyer will be your best hope of your child getting what he or she needs. Expensive though. Good luck and I am sorry your child is not being served well.

  • 98. stm74  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Patricia- FYI Disney II isn’t a “new to recess” school. Unless you mean new as in 2008, when it started. It has always been an open schedule and always had recess. Like the principal said earlier, it uses teaching assistants to supervise.

    @88 that made me laugh a lot. i know exactly what you mean! i would take classroom supervision over lunchroom supervision any day! : )

  • 99. Gayfair Dad  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    ChiArts needed some help, result:

  • 100. CLB  |  May 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    @87 Thanks for the SIPAAA tip. I had the doc but I never tried backing all that stuff out. Only shy of $262,830.65 out of $5,820,990. Cool. However, depending on position, 25% is too low. The fringe seems to go from 31% to 42% when comparing SIPAAA to the Employee Position list, depending on union affiliation.

  • 101. another cps mom  |  May 8, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    It’s lovely how the new Jones HS is coming along. Crain hard at work today, putting I-beams in place.

  • 102. Gayfair Dad  |  May 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    We begged at our school and admin refused:

  • 103. cps alum  |  May 8, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    @Bucktown mom— I wouldn’t call a 7 hour day (without a break as your propose) plus 3-4 additional hours of planning/grading/emailing parents/etc after school “family friendly hours.”

  • 104. Mayfair Dad  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    @ 88: I too have volunteered for lunchroom duty and it gets really squirrelly to put it mildly. Surely reasonable people could come up with a plan to allow most teachers on most days to take twenty minutes to eat a sandwich and regain a portion of their sanity. This isn’t too much to ask.

  • 105. Questioner  |  May 9, 2012 at 5:18 am

    @101: where will the new Jones High school be located?

  • 106. cpsemployee  |  May 9, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Classroom teacher positions (for elem) are determined with the following formula:

    Total number gr 4-8 students divided by 31 (example 230 divided by 31 = 7 remainder 13) the whole number gives you 7 positions THEN
    Total number gr 1-3 students PLUS the remainder amount of step 1 divided by 28 (example 200 plus remaining 13 = 213 divided by 28 which equals 7.6). ROUND this number up to 8. This gives you another 8 positions.

    So this example school of 430 students grades 1-8 would be given 15 quota positions.

    Then more rules kick into place such as how many of those upper grade positions must be allocated towards the middle grades with certain endorsements? And is one of those positions going to be used for a freed assistant principal? And how many of them by law must be allocated for bilingual teachers?

    My school ends up with 14 classroom teachers for grades 1-8. That means we would have to have 2 split rooms (like a 1/2 split or a 4/5 split) We don’t want that so we buy 2 positions out of our discretionary funds. This leaves almost no money for anything else.

  • 107. LP mom  |  May 9, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Gayfair dad – checked out the edison link but can’t tell what it was you begged for?

  • 108. another cps mom  |  May 9, 2012 at 10:57 am

    @105. Questioner | May 9, 2012 at 5:18 am

    @101: where will the new Jones High school be located?

    It’s just south of the current Jones, which is on the corner of State & Harrison, near the HW main library. A homeless shelter was knocked down to build the new high school.

  • 109. CuriousGirl  |  May 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Gayfair dad,
    I’m confused too.

  • 110. Gayfair Dad  |  May 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    @107 and 109: Friday Notes. We needed and asked for Friday Notes, and that, apparently, was either too much to ask for, or, too complicated for staff, or both. We referred to them as Friday Folders, (a manila envelope to stuff a note or notes, forms, announcements, etc..). It could not have been a budget concern.

  • 111. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I didn’t know where to put this, but is this even legal to give out our children’s private info w/out consulting parents?

  • 112. anonymous  |  May 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    How on earth can it be?

  • 113. CLB  |  May 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    CPS has lots of contractors who provide all sorts of services that involve transfer of student information. What I cannot understand is why CPS cannot verify the rosters internally. It seems that the contractor is essentially having the teachers do the work and then collecting fees for it. Time to check CPS vendor reports.

  • 114. CLB  |  May 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    One CPS doc related to Battelle is here:

    The alleged benefit is: “Fewer CPS staff spent on training for a non-instructional system”

    Battelle’s site makes it sound like every single CPS teacher using the system will have to learn to use it.

    Battelle is a not-for-profit 501c(3) but it primarily gets revenue from providing services, so while it does not have shareholders or private interests, it does generate earnings for reinvestment. Register at Guidestar and you can see its IRS 990. Several six-figure people are onboard.

  • 115. Livingintheinterestingcpstimes  |  May 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    @111 & 112
    The article seems a bit misleading. Battelle (with two t’s–which the Substance News writer misspells) is a company that is handling the statistical analysis of the “Value-added” score that will make up part of each teacher’s evaluation next year. A value added score is a number that is supposed to measure the growth a student makes on a certain test from one year to the next, taking into account among other things, race, socio-economic status, attendance, gender, and ELL status.

    Part of me likes the idea that somehow all of these factors could be weighed and a teacher could be given more credit for getting students from an inner city high poverty school to make gains than the teacher who is working with students in a magnet center with more affluent students. But I am also concerned because the statistical formula they use is not very transparent. Lies, darn lies, and statistics goes the saying.

    I am also concerned about how the data is collected. For example, socio-economic status: I would imagine that data would come from whether the student applied for free lunch or not. It has been reported in the last six months that the federal government is investigating whether the CPS free lunch forms are fraudulent or not. So what does that do to the value-added score? And what about if a student doesn’t apply for free lunch? Are there statistical differences between the “affluent” student who just barely doesn’t qualify for reduced lunch and the student whose parents make much more? How would cps know if neither student applies for lunch?

    As for the issue about student’s info safe: the company that scores the ISAT for the state of Illinois also has some of the same info (name, id, gender, IEP status), NWEA and Scantron testing companies which CPS uses has this data, so does mclass which does DIBELS and mclassmath for the primary grades. What parents should maybe be asking about are the protections for students as cps goes to google mail. Currently all cps students grades 6 and up have email accounts with the FirstClass email system. Will they all get google email accounts?

  • 116. Livingintheinterestingcpstimes  |  May 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Because the cps internal system, IMPACT, is in a word, flawed. Also they are trying to be fair–some students share teachers (a special ed student, for instance who gets part of his/her instruction from the special ed resource teacher and part of his/her instruction from the general ed teacher). The CPS system has no way of tracking that. The Battelle system does. However CPS is limiting the proportions: either a teacher has 100%, or 75/25; or 50/50. The two teachers have to work it out between themselves what they decide–not based on instructional minutes as far as I can tell.

  • 117. Chicago Mama  |  May 9, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    @98 Disney II is closed campus, although it’s always had recess lunch, and teacher lunch.

  • 118. anonymous  |  May 10, 2012 at 7:04 am

    115 — so you mean to say that there can’t be a CPS software fix that will allot percentages for teacher input? We have to go to an outside vendor?

    Can’t see that. There are only 3 options. Seems very simple.

    100% — 75/25 — 50/50

    Now having only those 3 options doesn’t reflect the reality of the typical school day. So it is already deeply flawed. But perhaps these 3 options only cover Reading and Math instruction, the common core subjects? Pls. clarify if you can. Thx

  • 119. actively listening  |  May 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Back on the issue of budget for a minute. I just sat with my principal and he indicated that now that he has looked closely at the budget we actually have less money online for next school year than we did this school year. We have not lost enrollment, in fact we have gained students from a school nearby that is closing.

    We are working closely to develop a plan to try and find staff to cover recess because there is no way to pull them from other positions (aides will be away from their other positions too long to cover recess, security is cannot be moved, teachers are already spoken for, etc).

    He said that he has spoken with other early adopter principals in school like ours (not Disney) and parents have not worked out. They are required to MOVE staff so that they can “make it work” and “be creative” so that all preps are given and recess. Currently the teachers are only given 3 preps and no recess.

    Yikes!! I’m calling bs on the Board’s rhetoric. Now that reality is clearly defined in numbers – both budgetary and staffing. It really isn’t adding up for many schools.

  • 120. actively listening  |  May 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I should add that by moving staff, i.e. teachers – to prep classes that would seem to increase class sizes. How is this helping my children? How is it helping children across the city in the areas where they they need the most help. Low class sizes DIRECTLY attributes to achievement. I’m scared for the future of our children.

  • 121. NicoleBricker  |  May 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I don’t understand why Special Education money is any concern to the funding of the overall district when such things are funded by the federal government. The aide that I am requesting spend time with my son during instructional time… it appears that CPS is using that money for other things and therefore special education suffers. Bottom line is CPS is toeing the line yet again for the next Corey H. IDEA is in place, but yet CPS feels they are beyond that. I think until the parents and caregivers of special needs students band together and form a united front, CPS will try anything to come up with money for funding they whole district, even if it is illegal.

    I agree there can be some creative thinking when it comes to budgets and finding supports for the school day.

  • 122. actively listening  |  May 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Once the money is in the budget and the staff is there they are used as they are needed. Despite the fact they the staff member may be slotted for one or two special needs students. Sad reality of CPS. Wrong? Absolutely.

  • 123. Helenkeller  |  May 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    We received a copy of the 7.0 schedule for next year. We have no aides. Our special education teachers are slotted for 45 minutes of recess duty a day . Does this mean that the students with disabilities will receive 45 minutes less? Is this why the ieps have to be redone?

  • 124. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 10, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Well CPS got rid of all the sped aides so they can’t help. I guess they plan on using a sped teacher.

  • 125. Mayfair Dad  |  May 11, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Two sides to every story…

  • 126. sandersrockets  |  May 11, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Of course two sides, but the source of your link is CPS’s website. I’d like to hear an outsiders perspective. NOT CTU nor CPS. Seems both have interest in spinning the truth.

  • 127. CPS Parent  |  May 11, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Matt Farmer is extremely biased, definitely not a source for balanced information.

  • 128. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 11, 2012 at 11:56 am

    He is not CTU or CPS he is a PARENT for good education for all CPS students.

  • 129. Mayfair Dad  |  May 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    My friend Matt is an attorney by trade, a very involved CPS parent, and consistently pro-union in his written pieces. His beliefs are sincere, no one owns or pays for his opinion. While I don’t always agree with him, I respect his integrity. He is the straightest-shooter I know.

  • 130. Angie  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    @124. Mayfair Dad : “Two sides to every story…

    So the union lied, and lied, and then lied some more. Why am I not surprised?

  • 131. lt246  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    @129 But why in response believe every word from CPS? They are lying about the longer day being beneficial among many other things. Seems to me teachers themselves should be given a voice, and the union is that voice. Don’t be so quick to count them out. I for one, as a parent of two in CPS, hear from my kids’ teachers every day about the issues they are facing, and I don’t blindly believe everything CPS says.

  • 132. falconergrad  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    @114 – Livingintheinterestingcpstimes
    Where did you hear that about the lunch forms being fraudulent? And what exactly do you mean? I am very interested in this topic and had not heard this before. Any links? Thanks.

  • 133. CPS Parent  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    We should remember that, rightly so, the union primary concern is the financial well being of their members. The shortest possible workday and year with the highest salary is the goal. All sides will trot out “research” to further their cause.

  • 134. Angie  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    @130. lt246: Which facts in the CPS statement are incorrect?

    Also, please show me a study which proves that 5 hour and 45 minutes day with no recess is beneficial for the children in any way.

  • 135. anonymous  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Angie — you work for Stand for Children?

  • 136. Mayfair Dad  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    @ 129 – 130: A lot of spin coming out of both camps. Aside from the CORE zealots running CTU (into the ground), most teachers I know sense the tide of public opinion is in favor of the Mayor, especially when a strike is mentioned. Taxpayers voted for a hard-ass who won’t take crap from public employee unions and he is delivering. Many difficult decisions ahead to undo 20 years of Daley & Friends kicking the can down the road.

  • 137. Angie  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    @134. anonymous: “Angie — you work for Stand for Children?”

    No. Do you work for CTU?

  • 138. cpsobsessed  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I’m not seeing black and white “facts” in that document but matters of interpretation and spin on the same point.
    Ie CTU says there is evaluation based “heavily” on test scores.
    CPS doesn’t deny the test scores, but says they’ll start at 15percent of the eval and move to 25perc in 5 years.
    So for the CTU, going from zero to 25 seems heavy. For CPS who says some districts use 50percent, it seems low.
    There is “truth” in both sides.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 139. CPS Parent  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    @ 135 100% agreed Mayfair Dad

  • 140. lt246  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    @Angie–much bending of the truth comes out of CPS.

    For one, the main piece of evidence for the longer day they use is the Massachusetts Extended Learning Time initiative. They study was limited to 19 schools which have an 8 hr day and $1,300 additional funding per student per year. Show me how CPS’s plan remotely resembles that.

    Also, Brizard has said that research does not show any benefit to smaller classes, so it’s not a priority for CPS. That’s totally untrue–the vast majority of the research shows classes under 20 students in the early grades show significant improvement.

    And just because I support teachers doesn’t mean I work for the CTU…

  • 141. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    #135~Mayfair Dad~I enjoy your comments on here, don’t always agree, but enjoy them. Not just most teachers I know but every1 senses a strike is coming. I think they are hoping there won’t be but as the last resort, they all have thought that there will be one 6 weeks before the presidential election. That can’t look for Rahm. He picked a bad yr to be a bad-ass.

  • 143. Angie  |  May 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    @139. lt246: “For one, the main piece of evidence for the longer day they use is the Massachusetts Extended Learning Time initiative.”

    So where is the evidence that supports the short school day with no recess?

    “Also, Brizard has said that research does not show any benefit to smaller classes, so it’s not a priority for CPS. That’s totally untrue–the vast majority of the research shows classes under 20 students in the early grades show significant improvement. ”

    Does that research also show where our nearly bankrupt state is supposed to get the money to finance that? Where in the budget do you see the room for thousands of new teachers with their high salaries, benefits and pension plans?

    And just because I can’t stand the greedy and bloated public unions with their blackmailing tactics doesn’t mean that I’m affiliated with any anti-union organization. Is it really that hard to believe that some private citizens have an issue with the way their tax money is being spent?

  • 144. lt246  |  May 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    @Angie If we dont have funding for smaller classes, then we don’t have funding for a longer day. Neither one is free. I believe that’s what teachers are telling us. And they appear to be in 90% agreement on that, according to the CTU’s poll yesterday.

  • 145. Angie  |  May 11, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    @143. lt246: CTU teachers get equal pay for working less hours than their colleagues in larger cities. No additional funding is needed to rectify that.

    And I don’t need the CTU poll to tell me that they are not happy about it. That’s a given.

  • 146. Chris  |  May 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    ” they appear to be in 90% agreement on that, according to the CTU’s poll yesterday.”

    We don’t actually know *ANYTHING* about what the CTU members think without knowing how the question was phrased and asked. You can get 90% to “believe” anything if you gin up a stilted enough question.

    And, I *highly* doubt they got a 100% response rate on the question, so it’s “90% of those responding to the poll” not “90% of everbody”.

  • 147. Chris  |  May 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm


    “They are lying about the longer day being beneficial among many other things.”

    So, you beleive that CPS *KNOWS* that the longer school day will be *detrimental*?? Do *YOU* know–beyond a doubt–that the longer day will be *detrimental*–from an educational perspective–for the **MAJORITY** of CPS students? That’s what would be necessary for “lying about the longer day being beneficial” to be an accurate accusation.

    They are certainly exaggerating and at times mischaracterizing the “research” “supporting” the education benefits of a longer day.

  • 148. anonymous  |  May 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Angie — prove it.

  • 149. Chris  |  May 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    “Angie — prove it.”

    How ’bout you go first and pick a name to post your bickering with Angie under–so it’s somewhat possible to discern that it is one person picking this stupid “you’re on the SFC payroll” argument.

    anonymous–I think you’re either Karen Lewis, or you work directly for Karen Lewis on the CTU payroll, and expect you to “prove” that you are not!

  • 150. cpsobsessed  |  May 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    “They are lying about the longer day being beneficial among many other things.”

    This could also mean that they are lying about having proof that the longer day is beneficial.

    general logic: more of something good is better, up until a certain point. Nobody (I hope) thinks a 10 hour day is better than a 7 hour day.). The question is whether all kids will be getting more of something good. And what is the ideal day length assuming “more is better up to a point.”. I don’t know that either side can prove that a 7 hour day is guaranteed to be beneficial or harmful.

    I get so tired of the spin from both sides.

    I’d rather CPS just say ” we can’t afford more teachers or more specials, but we can afford a slightly longer day so let’s all pitch in, give it a try, and see if we produce better results. We got nowhere to go but up at this point.”.

    As for the CTU, they seem to hate everything so I can”t even fathom how to rephrase it. I guess I’d like to hear “cps, you’ve got a point, but we feel X because Y.”. They don’t fill in the Y very often.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 151. Livingintheinterestingcpstimes  |  May 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm


    While the story is mostly about teachers who submitted false forms, it also states that false forms might be a “system-wide” problem.

  • 152. Chris  |  May 11, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    “This could also mean that they are lying about having proof that the longer day is beneficial”

    Yes, that’s the nice way to read it, but it also fills in an easy to express thought.

    I’m tired of the exaggerated accusations being hurled by both sides, and think your (CPSO) prefered basis for discourse would be a great sign–I’m not holding out any hope.

  • 153. foureyes  |  May 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Since this page deals with talk about the budgets…I thought I would point out something that Seth Lavin (WONKS bulletin) points out this week regarding CPS.
    The CPS communication office has been steadily been expanding – it used to have 12. There are 18 people working in CPS Communications (and one vacant position waiting to be filled). Of those 18 people, 15 have been hired since June 2011 (which was the month in which CPS declared it was too poor to pay contractual raises). This expansion – which involves – for the first time in this CPS department now four (not one) person being paid more than $100,000 per year. This information has been keep out of public record and was obtained throught the FOIA. Do they need all these communication experts to cover things up (like the chaos and shaking and rattling) or is it something else? Is this helping children or political interests?
    Regardless…going from 12 persons….to 18….(with four (not one)) in the over $100,000) costs money. it seems that a lot of salaries there are adding up and that money does not go into the schools. I would be willing to bet there are other examples of such spending.

  • 154. lt246  |  May 11, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    @CPSO: the CTU did a great report on exactly your question of “Y” Many of the proposals would cost money, to be sure, but they are proven strategies. I think it’s a little unfair to say the CTU hates “everything”, although things are certainly very polarized these days.

  • 155. lt246  |  May 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    @144 Angie: The current elementary teacher day is 7 hrs. They have to arrive 30 min before school and have a 45 min lunch that is scheduled after students leave. CPS wants to extend that to 7 hours and 40 min for teachers, which many of us believe they should be paid for, especially since it will include more time prepping for more class time.

  • 156. anonymous  |  May 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    cpso —

    It is incorrect to say that ctu isn’t offering solutions, as the link that 153 provided indicates.

    And there are many CPS schools that do a great job — you remember the AMPs schools, right? Brizard disbanded them for no good reason. (Edison was one of them. It isn’t any longer.)

  • 157. cpsobsessed  |  May 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I don’t see a reason why 90 percent of teachers feel the longer day will harm children. “Harming” is a pretty strong word to put out there without an explanation as to what will be harmful.

    I did read their suggestions that are awesome and should also be addressed – some require buttloads of money, ok, most require a lot of money. Cps doesn’t and isn’t gonna have a ton of money.

    I don’t follow the logic of “if we can’t get all these things we won’t go along with anything.”. I am not supporting the longer day, I just don’t fully follow the logic.

    So if cps said “bill gates has given us $ for all this, so NOW will you work a 7 hour day without a raise?” I’m guessing karen lewis would still say no. That’s her job, I get it. But yes we parents, teachers, somebody should still fight for all that stuff.

    That report was published in feb 2012. Why didn’t the ctu speak up about those things earlier if they believe so strongly in them?

    Teachers on here have put forth similar ideas for a few years – So while I agree with it all, it seems like part PR-play (which we’ve agreed all along that the CTU has needed.). So again, I would love to see more staight talk but we know that’s not gonna happen.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 158. cpsobsessed  |  May 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    In full disclosure I’m reading a book now about the reform movement. The book talks a lot about the nyc union and has left me a little down on modern day unions. Simulatneously I question some of the reform spin as well. I enjoy playing devil’s advocate.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 159. CPSTEACHER4321  |  May 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I read this blog regularly, but this is my first time posting. I find most of the blog and comments on this blog to be generally tame, informative and reasonable. I teach for CPS. After reading the comments on the blog this week, I felt I could no longer just be a reader.
    Without giving out enough information to identify myself I will give a bit of background information about my CPS experience because I believe it is a valuable for people on this blog to hear experiences from the inside. I have been teaching in the district for less than 10 years. I teach special education. I work at what I consider a great school with a supportive administration with a very diverse population in terms of needs, economics and student backgrounds. Our population tends to be stable in that the majority of our children in Kindergarten two years ago are now in our second grade classrooms. I have also taught at a school where over 99 percent of the population qualified for free and reduced lunch and shared similar backgrounds. Additionally at that school over 60 percent of the children on my caseload were considered to be DCFS wards of the state with case numbers as their “parent/guardian” information. The student population at this school was very mobile. Every CPS school has a different feel and culture as many of the readers of this blog probably already know. I think that it is truly difficult for those on the outside to understand what day-to-day life is like for a teacher, just as I have no idea what day-to-day life is like for an accountant, bus driver, doctor or another profession. I think it is important for you all to hear an inside perspective and please know that my experience sure doesn’t speak for the masses, but I feel that an insider’s perspective is warranted to explain the frustration those working for CPS are feeling at the moment.
    Through the years, I have watched CPS initiatives come and go with little support or reasoning behind why they were being implemented and taken away. This includes having CPS approve an entire math curriculum and allow a school to buy it only to decide the next year it was no longer an approved curriculum and force the school to use funds to buy an entire new math curriculum. I have watched the transition from paper records to electronic records with many bugs and glitches for which at times there were no answers to essential questions from those running the software. The same happened with the switch of the payroll system.
    A few of the topics that have been discussed on this thread that have encouraged me to type this information are recess/lunch, CTU vote and the discussion of the move to the new system of pay.
    Part of the 7/7.5 hour day proposal includes moving our current lunch period from 1:45, 2:45 or 3:15 to the middle of the school day. Currently teachers take their “lunch” when the students leave for the day. This is unpaid, despite the widespread thoughts that this is paid. The move of this “duty free” lunch to the middle of the day means that we are free to leave the school for 45 minutes for our designated lunch period. Therefore we will not be at school to supervise our students. Though we are allowed to “volunteer” to watch our students at this time. Additionally, some schools lack playground or safe outdoor spaces and not sufficient indoor space. I agree ALL students need recess. It was hard to think about children in Kindergarten without a time to run around at my former school. However the “play space” provided to them was a slab of black top covered daily with broken beer bottles and other paraphernalia. These teachers/students need to be assured that they will be provided with a SAFE place to play. Additionally, to my knowledge the only classrooms left with assistants are those with special needs children or Head Start/Preschool For All. In this case, the aides are assigned to individual children or programs. Head Start and Preschool For All have to keep a certain teacher/child ratio or they risk becoming out of compliance with their federal and/or state mandates and risk losing funding. Let me also add that it is certainly impossible to adequately supervise the lunchroom while eating ones lunch.
    Preps/Specials: Some children are very fortunate in CPS and they are able to participate in specials/preps that include PE, Library, Art, Music etc. Some schools due to small population have to choose between a .5 library position and .5 gym position. I am not 100% sure, but I believe these positions in non-magnet or magnet cluster schools are often funded through discretionary funding. Shouldn’t all of our children be entitled to PE, Library and The Arts? Not just those who can fundraise or happen to be schools of magnet status?
    CTU: To the commentator that asked about what the union is asking for, please see this document that the union has provided: This link provides you with a 46 page researched based booklet and a one-page summary. Also of interest might be the University Of Illinois study. The CTU vote and questions posed yesterday can be accessed here: Every teacher present at my school voted yesterday. I am not sure how the vote was handled at other schools.
    Move To New Pay System: I believe many teachers are worried about how this system will work taken into account how fast programs and initiatives can change in CPS. I think teachers are also apprehensive about how different factors will be taken into account in the merit pay discussion. For example, currently part of those that do not teach in a “testing grade” will have their merit pay based on school wide scores. This is neither fair to those in the testing grades or those in the non-testing subjects/grades.
    ETC: In addition to my teaching responsibilities I also am a nurse, social worker and counselor. We have a high level of children with nursing needs at our school therefore we are fortunate enough to have a nurse more than one day a week. In the absence of the nurse, as a teacher, I could be the one responsible to give medication in an emergency situation on the days a nurse is not present. I connect my families with resources to help them not only academically, but also socially and to help with emotional and behavior issues.
    I work hard every day to make a difference in the lives of the children and families I serve. I believe all of my students will grow up to be successful members of society. CPS needs to properly fund the school day, provide schools with adequate supplies, be mindful in their initiatives and adequately staff schools in order for all students to be successful.

  • 160. Gayfair Dad  |  May 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    This is a given: assume everyone at the negotiation table, both sides, are liars.

  • 161. local  |  May 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Cpsobessed: you should also read Ratich’s reviews of Brills book along with other informed critiques of it. Seriously. Needed for balance.

  • 162. local  |  May 11, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Rativitch? Sp?

  • 163. Kafka  |  May 12, 2012 at 12:15 am

    After reading this string of blogs, I feel like I just read the Trial from Kafka. From the looks of this blog NONE of us, including Brizzard know what the real story is?

    I think I need a xanax and a glass of wine and use my credit card to buy a one way ticket to another country. CPS is in bad shape. NICE post #158. And the whole Disney thing makes me a bit ill. Imagine if Walt Disney went to CPS in these days. They would have crushed his desire to be creative when they stuck him infront of a computer to take a black and white test for 3 hours every three months. His teacher would have thought of him no more as a student but a number that must be raised at all costs. Splitting students by 25/75 50/50….isn’t there some passage in the bible from King solomon about splitting a child? I am not religious but come on guys. Imagine teachers fighting to take credit or not take credit for the High or Low students. I think it’s probably logical to say that students need a little more time in school…but how in the H can you say more kids in a room doesnt make a difference. Try grading 20 quizzes vs 35 quizzes….big difference. Saying that watching kids is “down time” as if it were my dinner with Andrea or something. These kids are yelling, running, screaming, slippping, puking….Volunteers??? Please D2 it’s one thing to volunteer a middle class parent…and a whole different thing to ask an impoversihed parent to volunteer. We have them at my school and they are awesome…but who is going be responsible when a kid breaks an arm? Are you going to sue a person who has no assests? CPS will throw them under the bus!! Yes I am a teacher, CTU teacher. Please excuse the typos. I feel bad for the kids, the parents, the teachers, the taxpayers, even Brizzard and Rahm. How can our own president just sit back and watch this all happen? We are talking about 25k teachers and 400k students. That’s the population of Wyoming. Some education president? I voted for Obama, but I must say he gives more time to making sure Johnny Depp and the Hollywood gang get invited to the whitehouse, than sitting down a helping out. We send billions to Afghanistan and Iraq and give Boening huge tax cuts…while the CPS World fights and grovels for the scraps. I am sorry but if teachers are going to take a pay cut and principals are going to go into cardiac arrest maybe we may have to ask parents and teachers and big businees alike to make a sacrafice. I say charge parents a dime a lunch each to supervise, teachers (that’s me I’ll take a pay freeze for a few years), and Business cough up a few bucks. I don’t know why that Disney comment made me so angry, but they are in a WHOLE different world. Once when I was a sub a Spe Ed student put a condom on my school door handle and then gave me the finger. I went in his room and the room had no teahcer? The disciplinarian told me to call the police? I ran out of that school days later for my life…litterally….I should have kept running! MR. Obama enough with the race to the top rhetoric ….CPS IS A national cirisis! 1% perent of your population is going through an Education Crisis! Get Arne on the Airforce ONE!!!!!!!

  • 164. Jen K  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:38 am

    @162: Agreed that the entire country has priorities out of whack in terms of education funding priorities. As we ramp up the election season, I can’t help but think how sad it is that campaigns spend hundreds of millions of dollars on attack ads for nothing. How much good could that money do if spent on education?

    I am a D2 parent and just want to clarify that we do not use parent volunteers for recess. We do have a tremendous parent community that puts in thousands of hours in other areas; we are incredibly fortunate to have parents who are able to commit that time and willing to do so.

  • 165. anonymous  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:39 am

    cpso — I also suggest you read Diane Ravitch, prof of ed at NYU, member of the Bush Dept of Ed who originally supported NCLB. Try reading — it’s well written.

    “The Death and Life of the Great American Public School Systems”

  • 166. anonymous  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Btw, cpso, wouldn’t it be an absolute ton of fun to do an Oprah-like book club post on it in a couple of weeks?

    It could be a blast!

  • 167. cpsobsessed  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Thanks anon, I do need to balance out my reading. All very interesting, but so DRY to read though. And I get dismayed about how political it all becomes…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 168. cpsobsessed  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Hey, I was just thinking that as well because there’s a lot I want to discuss from my book. What to start with though?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 169. anonymous  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Diane Ravitch isn’t dry! Honest.

  • 170. anonymous  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:52 am

    How about we start with Ravitch’s book. Then we can flip to an opposing pro-privatization author? Please?

    I think the aim might be to have a honest, open debate online — (and that would be what I call fun!). It would help us talk and digest the same set of assumptions and research at the same time.

  • 171. cpsobsessed  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Ok, but I’m not sure I can get behind a book club without wine. 🙂
    What is the title of the rabitch book?
    I need to figure out where to do the discussion – here, the message board? Start a sep page here? Maybe the msg board would be good so we could have a few threads on it?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 172. kiki h.  |  May 12, 2012 at 10:08 am


    The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education

  • 173. kafka  |  May 12, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I think it should be a greed BSH mad the NCLB cake and Obama has layered it with his new Frosting Race to the Top. I actually find the race to the top is more damaging because it DEMANDS changes in districts and still is testing obsessed! Again, i was a huge obama fan….but schools are now 100% testing driven. Parents I would reconsider my undying support for Obama…he may be the lesser of two evils. However, er, the local control of your school is now gone!! At cps it doesnt matter its too late…but in the burbs….it’s coiming next! Unfunded demands!! We are now producing robots! at cps I think the lower children may benefit but they will never be given any alternative career paths until its too late! They will be boxed an labeled by their teachers as the “low performer” Teachers will focus on performance of the NWEA and brush aside any empotional issues. Teachers will compete against each other….because the lower your gains the lower your chance of getting a job the next year. Just look at the new REACH teacher evaluation system. It is scary!! This is why we are splitting children in halves and quarters!! Very sad aroudn CPS now…. just make sure you watch your childrens happiness and learning. cps isnt concerned with hapiness anymore….just scores scores scores. if a teacher treats your child well and you feel happy dont be surprised they yank that teacher because a few kids brought down the average……very sad very sad!! parents need to fight back…i dont Care about my CTU job at this point ….I am just worried now the kids are being used as a new Educational experiment!

  • 174. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 12, 2012 at 10:48 am

    @171~I’ll get the book ~I love book clubs (and a glass of red as well CPSO).

    #170~ CPSO you could just start another sep page here~this is working out well, if you choose. Sounds gr8!

  • 175. Christine  |  May 12, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Another book to add to the Book Club list (and its an easy read) “Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling” by John Taylor Gatto.

  • 176. PortageParent  |  May 12, 2012 at 11:24 am

    CPSo – did I miss something? The message board is up? Where?

  • 177. liza  |  May 12, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Asking people to prove it with research is rather silly. You can pretty much find research to back up any of these ideas if you look hard enough. It reminds me of when I was writing a thesis for my masters and doing the research part, for every study that supported my premise, there was one that refuted it. You really do get to pick and choose to suit your agenda, so what really is the point? You could go back and forth for weeks, months, etc.

    As an aside, I don’t think there are many teachers who don’t agree that recess is a good and necessary thing for all kids. I have been teaching for a long time, and I truly can’t think of one teacher who hasn’t bemoaned the fact that there was no recess and there wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything that would lead to a better outcome. As a CPS teacher and a parent, however, I am concerned about the logistics. My childrens school will be abe to work it out, they have been doing “unofficial recess” for years – they have a nice playground and lots of space to run around in a what would be considered a very safe neighborhood. The school I work at has a very different scenario, no playground, some space that is usually littered with bottles, the occasional needle or two, and a few used condoms. We are trying to work out something, but with the limitations we have, it is going to be difficult to create a recess where they kids actually get to move around and just not sit (or stand) at their desks playing hangman, simon says, 7-up, etc., which is what one of the CPS people who responded to our principal when she brought up our concerns, thought would be sufficient to constitute a good “recess”. Never mind who is going to supervise the students duing this time because we, the teachers, would be at our lunch and “recess”. We have been working on this for months, and we are really not much closer to having a solution to these issues without taking SPED, gym, library teachers. aides, etc. away from their programs which doesn’t really seem fair to the students either. If these teachers and staff are on duty for 45 minutes, their own 45 minute lunch must be at a different time, add to that their 45 minute? prep time which will total 135 minutes that has to be taken out of their instructional day. Some kids won’t get library, gym, etc. every week. SPED teachers and aides will have a very difficult time meeting IEP minutes, etc. It’s a nightmare!

  • 178. CPS Parent  |  May 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I think Liza frames the issue very well:

    “I don’t think there are many teachers who don’t agree that recess is a good and necessary thing for all kids. I have been teaching for a long time, and I truly can’t think of one teacher who hasn’t bemoaned the fact that there was no recess and there wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything that would lead to a better outcome.”

    The issue as to how this gets done in all schools could have been studied for the perfect amount of time added, playgrounds built for all schools, etc. before implementing. This would have taken a few years (or 5 or 10 or never) to accomplish. Or it can be done now. Sometimes you have to use the cart-before-the-horse method. Yes, schools are being asked to be “creative” and it may sound offensive to some or it may inspire all of us to pitch in.

  • 179. anonymous  |  May 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Let’s start another page here for the first book? We are all pretty comfortable with the way things work now, and we can pick up and leave off the conversation fairly easily.

    Maybe we could culminate the very first online, Oprah-style cpso education book club with a meet-and-greet at a pub?

    When should we start talking? How about in two weeks?

    Maybe we pack a pub sometime during the week of June 11?

  • 180. anonymous  |  May 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    177 — only some parents can pitch in in a district with high poverty, the district has a $600 or 700 million deficit, we think.

    Believe it is better to plan realistically. It might mean rolling out a policy initiative that is well funded and carefully thought through in phases.

    All of which would increase by-in from stakeholders and increase chance of success.

  • 181. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    #176~I agree w/you. I know our school has had 20 minutes recess for a long time. The kids need it and it hasn’t hurt our test scores at all. But I live in an area where we have a gr8 playground and a lot of room in a very tidy area.

    I’m concerned for the kids that don’t have that, and parents aren’t going to pitch in. I’m concerned where there are no playgrounds or horrible cave-like ones (atop of school), or where there is bottles, glass and other objects around. No 7-up is no ‘recess’. CPS should have figured this out b4 they brought it to the public as an option.

    I also know of an area where even if recess is required, they probably won’t do it…it’s too dangerous and the teachers/parents and students are afraid. This was so ill though out.

  • 182. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I know some ppl think you should do it in increments, but SAFETY has to be the #1 issue and some schools won’t do it. And I’m sick of hearing CPS saying be ‘creative’.

  • 183. Kafka  |  May 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    This is what I wanted to say yesterday in regards to teachers and “urban” think tanks that think they are somehow going to be empowered by the new Race to the top Educaitonal Wave.

    Teachers are a little placid and nonconfrontational by nature. I think we forget that we need a tough guy (or gal) who sticks up for us! We need a bully to fight the bully! I like Karen Lewis’ style….she aint beautiful, but she is bold!! I have no affiliation with her other than I am a CTU memeber. I kinda liked Marylin Stweart too! We need tough!

    Like I said before I just hope the teachers who were given their “excellent” ratings aren’t resting on their laurels. I think making the new REACH evaluation only for Satisfactory Tenured teachers and non tenured teachers (in its first year roll out) is just a way to Divide and conquer. I was given an excellent rating, but I know fellow teachers, who work just as hard as I do, put on the “shameful ” satisfactory unsatisfactory list. Next year, and correct if I am wrong, only the Unsatisfactory, Satisfactory, and unrated new teachers will be evaluated under the new REACH system. This is just a new way to divide and conquer.

    I just hope. ALL teachers would show solidarity in this issue. So many teachers are pushed out for their “unsatisfactory” work, while political hacks and pets get their superiors. Obviously most teachers deserve the ratings they get….but don’t forget the little guy/gal who gets pushed around in a convoluted evaluation process. They need you too. Remember your principal may be replaced at anytime and your evaluation may suffer. Please Karen make CPS do an ALL or nothing evaluation Process!!

    If CPS thinks their old evaluation is flawed…how can they do any real comparison if they don’t EVALUATE all teachers in the same way. How can they study the new systems effectiveness?

    It’s all a divide and conquer strategy! I also think if ALL teachers need to be evaluated with the new system it will literally FRY the CPS admin at all levels and they may want to rethink it. Has anyone seen the standard deviation chart on the REACH power point. It is scary stuff!! Please Excellent and Superior teachers we are all in this together!! Please come to union meetings….don’t get lulled into submission. I am not going to quote the “then they came for me story” because it isn’t quite the same. However, don’t think that your maternity leaves and PB days were won by thinking you are above all of this! None of us are immune to a dictated curriculum. Even if your principal is AWESOME they can replace him…or crush his or her spirit into giving you a charlotte Danielson “below” rating……then the next layoff your tenure will mean nothing. They have literally gotten around tenure! It means very little now. DONT LET YOUR FELLOW TEACHERS FALL…They may work just as hard as you do! They just may be a little different….and CPS doesn’t want teachers. ….it wants “Urban Education” robots making 40k a year witih 50k in educaiton loans.

    And suburban teachers…were is the solidarity? How did they allow CPS teachers to get this 75% strike vote? Where is the solidarity????? Chicago Police and Firemen? Do you have this clause? Does any union have this “neutering” clause? So many people talk about Scott Walker….we have our own in this city…Rahm Emanuel. All this done by a person whose form boss (the president) is getting Illinois Teacher’s endorsement? Obama?? every teacher needs to come to the union let the principal at the local level we stand united. we all need to go may 23 to show we are united tooo! We have differences….but this new ADMIN is going to either fire you or take your imagiination and caring away in the name of RACE TO THE TOP

    I’m going to watch that video one more time “I’ll spit in their eye”

  • 184. sandersrockets  |  May 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Part of what makes teachers feel as if we are being treated so unprofessionally and unfairly is the fact that all of the Board’s and Rahm’s initiatives are brought to the teachers through the media. I’d love to know any other profession where you hear from your boss through the news. Brizard doesn’t actually speak to the teachers. We are here and always have been for our students. CTU is our only voice recently because the media has been the only voice of the political machine of CPS. I’ve NEVER stopped doing right by my students. I will never do so, no matter the outcome of the mess… We are just seeking a voice as well.

  • 185. Kafka  |  May 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I agree sandersrockets, but any worker who is stressed enough and put to new morale lows by principals and medial and mayor alike will be affected. it is impossible..the students WILL suffer….its impossible!

    Why do you think Modern forward thinking companies give thier employees perks and stock options…of course they want their bottom line, but they know a happy appreciated employee with help the bottom line.

    CPS wants the same loyalty, but instead of massages and stock options we just get slapped in the face by all sides… is any of this helping!

    I appreciate the parenst that still stick up for us… actually makes me feel better!!

    However, its got to stop….because even a person like you has his/her breaking point. working under that daily threat may work in a chain gang….but not a school!!!!

    bless you!

  • 186. Angie  |  May 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I think this new performance evaluation is just what the doctor ordered to try and fix the sad state of CPS schools. It’s actually funny to see the teachers running so scared, and demanding that parents must go out there and fight for their union-protected right to do a lousy job.

  • 187. anonymous  |  May 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    The NY Times FOIA’d the emails of NYC’s former schools chancellor Joel Klein. (Klein now works for Rupert Murdoch.) He and DFER spoke to a lot of hedge fund managers. Their emails make for Interesting reading.

    “The collusion between those who are sworn to protect the public schools and those who are incentivized to privatize them is surely the most important thing to be gleaned from this correspondence.”

  • 188. anonymous  |  May 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Angie — what a great sense of humor you have!

  • 189. lt246  |  May 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Agreed with the ravitch idea 100%, it’s a really eye-opening book, and a pleasure to read.

    CPSO, not sure if you’re there yet, but the strange thing about the Brill, besides it being kind of a tougher read, is that the end basically undercuts the entirety of the rest of he book, the argument for private-sector strategies and competition in education. I found that baffling. I also found his anti-union harangues off-putting.

  • 190. CLB  |  May 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    @176 The research on longer school days is fairly consistent. In and of itself, increasing school days or hours often has no effect or a slight positive effect, including the research that CPS cites. RYH, 6.5 to Thrive, 19th Ward Parents, and my blog all discuss this. If your aim is to boost student achievement, this is not the best place to start, especially if you plan to cut spending in other areas to achieve it. Since CPS has no plan to increase funding, it might undermine its aim.

    CPS has done no policy analysis to discuss what the program will cost, what it will achieve (gains of how much?), and why other steps would be less effective. A decision was made and a scramble to justify it followed.

  • 191. cpsobsessed  |  May 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    But then what IS the best place to start for a $130 investment?
    (I’m assuming there really is $130mill for a 7 hour day.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 192. CLB  |  May 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    @156 CTU has not rejected a longer day absolutely. It wants to be paid for more time without getting short-changed in other ways (eg larger classes). Brizard and his staff took higher salaries than their predecessors, so the greedy union accusations fall flat here.

  • 193. Frustrated teacher  |  May 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    You are mistaken. Teachers are not running scared. Teachers are more together on this issue than ever before.

  • 194. CPS STRESSEDd teacher  |  May 12, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    @185 Angie,
    the sad state of CPS schools does not rest solely on teachers. You are mistaken. Teachers have very little control outside their classroom. Please become educated. In MOST schools teachers don’t even get to pick what textbooks are used, what Professional Development they are “sent to”, no say on the grading scale, homework policy, discipline consequences for chronic behavior issues, etc. and on and on. So by assuming REACH will cure CPS is very naive and uniformed. Why don’t you try actually talking to teachers to find out what they have to deal with, or better yet, shadow a teacher for a full day. Then let’s see if you think REACH will fix CPS.

    Are there bad teachers? Of Course….just like there are bad parents, administrators, accountants, mayors, etc. REACH is not the savior for CPS.

  • 195. Another teacher  |  May 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Lousy job… Wow Angie (185) you are off track. CPS is not a mess because of lousy teachers, there are so many other issues at play. And guess what? Some of these issues rest solely with parents. Shocker…….
    Is it PC to suggest this? Of course not, but it is the truth! Spend a day at most of the schools and you will know what I am talking about. The first educators are the parents. We just try to fix what we get. (sorry I know this isnt politically correct). I still have six students whose parents have NEVER even bothered to meet me this year. Of course there is no homework support, field trip forms are always late, poor kids are late and hungry most days, and on and on. Speak with any teacher and my story is not unique or rare.


  • 196. Angie  |  May 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    @194. Another teacher: Well, you are not going to get better parents any time soon, are you? So the next logical choice would be to figure out how to teach the children you have, instead of wishing for the ones with different parents.

    I think the school reform has to start somewhere, and starting with better teacher accountability and weeding out the dead wood is a pretty good place. Even if we assume that all the teachers’ posts on this site are true, and they are as good as they claim to be, what about the others out there? Are you going to tell me that there are no bad teachers anywhere in CPS schools, who are using their tenure, seniority and extremely difficult firing procedures to keep their jobs?

  • 197. kafka  |  May 12, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    There isn’t a problem with “weeding” out the bad teachers. No one said ALL teachers are perfect. It’s just CPS weed killer is killing the grass and the flowers as well. It’s more of an agent orange. I agree we teachers are a bit self righteous..but what’s going on to education at that place is very very strange. Just read these 176 strings from all these sides of the issue….do you really see anyone who finds CPS to be on the right track….how would you like to work and be judged by them!

  • 198. Angie  |  May 12, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    @196. kafka: “It’s just CPS weed killer is killing the grass and the flowers as well. It’s more of an agent orange.”

    How do you know that? Have you been evaluated under the new system and found unsatisfactory?

  • 199. kafka  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    yes 196

    I read it’s powerpoint…..when 50% of our score is based on the NWEA(scores have changed 20% up or down when my kids took the test a second time in 2 weeks) and Common Core written responses (which had spelling errors when cps rolled them out) i do get scared. We once were told ISAT was the end all be all until they realized it was flawed. Then they told us the State Standards were the magical bullet…now both have been labled ineffective from CPS????

    Now all of sudden its common core and nwea….which are two conflicting concepts…..NWEA is more like an electronic ISAT that is note common core aligned….even though they claim it to be. Also, like I said, the NWEA is a very strange test when you see results go up and down with no rhyme or reason. Also, NWEA test administration has no common rules….also kids take it on old computers that shut off….yes I am a litte skepitical.

  • 200. HS Mom  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    @158 teacher “I think that it is truly difficult for those on the outside to understand what day-to-day life is like for a teacher, just as I have no idea what day-to-day life is like for an accountant, bus driver, doctor or another profession.”

    I do not truly understand all the important aspects and nuances involved in the jobs of,say a dentist, fireman, janitor, lawyer, beautician, and yes teacher….the list is quite long. One universal issue that I have witnessed within my approximate 35 years working various jobs is the tendency for people and groups to bemoan and belittle their bosses and the company. In general, this behavior is not only detrimental but infectious and bad for moral and the servicing of the customer.

    @172, 194 Kafka – the most unwelcome commiserating is the kind taken to the customer.

  • 201. Cpsmommy  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm


    Actually the next best this is not weeding out teachers. It is equipping teachers with the tools (books, space, low class sizes, interventions, social workers in school, tutoring for all struggling students not just 15% of the failing students as was the HUGE mistake CPS made recently, and on…however all this takes money). The last time I checked no teacher had control over funding and budget allocations. So Angie you are way off track if you thinking bad teaching is at the root of what’s wrong.

    If you take resources away from the greatest teacher, even she would struggle in some of the neighborhood schools.

  • 202. Cpsmommy  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Oops….typing too fast..I meant The next best “THING”……,

  • 203. Lisa  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Agree with you 200!

    Angie- We don’t expect doctors and dentists to do a quality job without the necessary equipment and tools, so why do we expect our teachers? It is amazing to me how we expect them to be magicians in the classroom. Give the teachers what they need to teach and then if they are poor, get rid of them… But it is not fair to skip the important step of FIRST providing them with the tools necessary to be successful.

  • 204. Teacher  |  May 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    No Angie…the “next logical step” is not to figure out how to teach the students. The next logical step is to figure out the tools and support needed to teach them THEN provide these tools so the teacher can teach them. This is the logical step that you and CPS seem to miss.

  • 205. cps mom  |  May 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    HS mom, sometimes the truth hurts. (yes there are bad parents) it is a fact. I am sure there are many kids who you would never allow your son or daughter to hang out with or with their house. So where it is PC or not the teacher is right. Lord knows i know more than a handfull of the kids in my child’s class are not welcomed in my home.

    I don’t think the teacher was looking for sympathy, just stating a fact (not an opinion).

  • 206. Angie  |  May 12, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    @202. Lisa : “Angie- We don’t expect doctors and dentists to do a quality job without the necessary equipment and tools, so why do we expect our teachers?”

    If doctors and dentists spend most of their money on take home pay, and there’s nothing left for tools and equipment, then whose fault is this?

    If most of the state money is spend on take home pay, overtime, benefits and pensions for the public union members, and there’s not much left for education, then maybe the unions are at fault, too? And demanding more, more, and more when nothing is there is like demanding the better parents. Neither one is going to happen, yet it is used to shift responsibility on someone else.

  • 207. anonymous  |  May 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    district299reader said 1 day ago
    I am at a school with high test scores, a former AMPS school. I am on the teacher selection committee and the pickings are slim. Yes, we have had teachers interview but none were stellar. The teachers who are retiring will be a difficult act to follow-really awesome teachers. I really think the residency requirement is an issue. Many college graduates have loans and must live with their parents and unfortunately can not afford to move to the city. We need the best and the brightest to choose from to teach in CPS. Also, there are two teachers in our school who have their TYPE 75s and would be great administrators but will not apply because they would lose the residency waiver. One is a divorced teacher who relies on her parents in the suburbs for child care help. I really do not understand CPS’ stance on the residency as it narrows the applicant pool for both teachers and administrators. Yes, Brizard has brought in people from other states but they seem very transient plus they are making huge salaries. I do not see a suburban administrator uprooting his family to move into Chicago and taking a chance that his contract might not be renewed in four years-it would not be worth it financially. So, CPS just does not/will not attract the talent it should-very sad.

  • 208. cpsobsessed  |  May 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    @teacher – what do you mean by the tools vs “how to teach them (kids)”. Aren’t these in enextricably intertwined? I’m not sure I understand what the “tools” refer to. Curriculum? Textbooks? Technology? Methods?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 209. Teacher  |  May 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    @ cpsobsessed Textbooks, space, air in the summer, enough heat in the winter, curriculum, etc.

    I mean no offense BUT I think sometime parents in magnet, SEHS, private, etc. really have no idea the lack that many neighborhood schools face. I know there are thriving area schools but the average cps school……

  • 210. Mom who support the teachers!  |  May 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    @ Angie,

    CPS mismanagement of funds is not the fault of teachers Case in point the money being given back to the federal government because CPS messed up afterschool tutoring. This is a common practice. How many millions were spent on the SCANTRON assessment, training, computer support, etc only to be told two years later that it was unreliable, etc. this is common practice. My kids lived SCANTRON for two years and now it is something else. That is the problem, CPS always ready to throw money at a quick fix in stead of asking the people on the front lines what is necessary (teachers, administrators, parents).

    Hold teachers responsible but give them no say in major decisions? Crazy!

    Doctors hopefully work for hospitals smart enough to manage the funds accordingly so that they can do their job properly.

  • 211. Mom who support the teachers!  |  May 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    from a reader at blog 299


    our students need more certified counselors, special ed teachers ( since we are not covering the minutes owed to students), librarians in 166 schools, libraries, nurses, smaller class sizes, etc. Tired of sideshows that do not address the critical shortage of support staff and wrap around services that have been needed. It is a matter of priorities.

  • 212. Gayfair Dad  |  May 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    @208. Perhaps more often, the parents at non-SEHS, non-magnets, private etc…have no idea the lack that they themselves face, intentionally due to the staffs at such, (including Admin and many unwitting teachers).

    Also, unrelated, Gifted-Schmifted. (as far as CPS goes).

  • 213. annon  |  May 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Wow Gayfair dad, what a leap. Not having enough heat, textbooks, etc translate to a conspiracy of teachers and admin purposefully keeping parents in the dark? I don’t follow your logic. Confused.

  • 214. annon  |  May 12, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    @211, silly statement

    Having one child in a SEHS and another in the neighborhood school I am WELL aware of the difference!

  • 215. cpsobsessed  |  May 12, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I don’t understand why schools in crummy areas aren’t getting heat and books. Do they not get budgets and repairs like other schools do? Low enrollment? I truly don’t understand it when people say they get higher discretionary funds.
    I am embarrased to say that my son’s school has fundraised to air condition every classroom this year, so it get part of it. But the basics? How does that happen?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 216. Gayfair Dad  |  May 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    @213: Of course you are aware, but are most of the parents in your neighborhood school experience? Try opening their eyes.

    @212 read teachers unwitting. I have witnessed intentional mis-information from admins, in their own self-interest and preservation, including accepting out of district students for NCLB lunch funding $$.

  • 217. CLB  |  May 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    @191 Before investing anywhere, the first step is to figure out why students are falling behind. The approach one takes at a school with very poor students in single-parent homes may well be different from the approach taken for middling performance at a middle-class school with dual-parent homes because the causes are different because the causes might be different. There are a slew of potential reforms.

    The point of policy analysis is to determine what the causes of the problems are and then how to fix them. CPS has identified problems, skipped the diagnostic step, and gone onto solutions. This is not how to do things.

  • 218. kafka  |  May 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    to 199

    Actually being forced to live in the city I am a client and a customer! I pay as much as you do for schools. We are both cutomers in a way! And I work for them…and I see the most insane things!! Just letting you guys know! This is the problem…when you start calling parents and students customers? Scary to me! We are a community! You work your job and I watch the little ones while you are gone! However, we both are the oweners of this city! I am not your salesman nor are you my “customer” ….little insulting!!

    I dont have a beef with the parents! They are the best part of my school…it’s the dark star I call…CPS and Brizzard and Rahm!! and Obama!!! They are my problem!! Trying to digitize a childs brain with testing is like trying to digitize a prayer….cant be done!! never will

  • 219. cpsobsessed  |  May 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    @kafka: in just about every profession, people who are really good at their jobs get paid more or get promoted (promotion are not really a valid reward in schools.). People who are bad at the job get shuffled around, forced out, or don’t get raises.
    If testing can’t be used at all to separate better from worse teacher, what can be used?
    To quote an excerpt from the book I’m reading now, teachers are currently treated like widgets.
    All the same. All interchangeable except for longevity.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 220. Bob  |  May 12, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    This contains several many important issues. At first to address that Freshmen connection has been cut, i believe that the move to cut that was not a great move. Freshmen connection is actually quite helpful and helps many of the new incoming Freshmen. They get to experience hands on the beginning of their high school life. Also for the longer school day program is quite ridiculous. The problem is not with the students learning. But truth is, anyone can be smart. Everyone has the potential to reach their peak. The problem is within many teachers within the CPS system. Extending the time will not bring our CPS system higher. But will lower it. Kids in school already have problems juggling education and social life. Kids can learn with the time they have now. The only thing are teachers. In all CPS schools, there are many teachers that are complete idiots.

  • 221. annon  |  May 13, 2012 at 8:32 am

    @ cpsobsessed…..that is just it “yes we get the basic”. But the basic is not enough. As an example, we go to the doctor for a cold and are in and out with a basic prescription. We come in and the cold is pneumonia and now we need a whole other fix. Most of these child, families, and communities, need a greater fix than what is being provided.

    Definition of the word FAIR, not what is equal or the same but what is just.

  • 222. Barb K  |  May 13, 2012 at 8:43 am


    What can be used to rate teachers? How about regular, consistent, ongoing classroom observations? There is a start. Right now CPS principal are only required to do two observations a year. There is no requirement on how long they have to be either. A teacher can go all the way until jan before the first observation.

    This policy is straight from CPS, not the CTU, so before anyone assumes the teachers bargained for this you are wrong!

    Anyway my point is instead of tests as an evaluative tool why not implement real training to principals on observations and require frequent obsevations with a standard rubric, etc. how about that for a start? MOST progressive countries and school observe their teachers in this way.

  • 223. Barb K  |  May 13, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Idiot teachers? REALLY!!

    Really Bob, how do you know this? Through observations of these “idiot teachers”? And if you observed them how many and over what time frame?
    Many teachers are idiots is as unqualified a statement as me saying many people named Bob are idiots. Until I have proof I am just sprouting off to sprout.

  • 224. cpsobsessed  |  May 13, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Isn’t observation also being included in the new assessment? Why the opposition to ANY inclusion of test scores? (or imo, AYP makes more sense.)

    I don’t know why CPS culture is so lax on observation. Well, I guess I do – principals spend too much time on required beaurucratic stuff. My old LSC tried repeatedly to make it happen and it didn’t.
    Certainly a cps-driven rubric would help.

    Is that what the CTU has proposed? Or are they still anti-“assessment” overall?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 225. Katy  |  May 13, 2012 at 8:54 am

    To quote the earlier poster:
    @ cpsobsessed

    Hold teachers responsible but give them no say in major decisions? Crazy!

  • 226. cpsobsessed  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:05 am

    @katy: are there no education professionals involved in these decisions who represent how teachers might want things done?
    Would it have to come via the CTU? I think that’s where it falls apart. The CTU is a labor org, tasked with getting the best employment options for teachers. There seems to be a need for a teacher-group who gives input, but isn’t toeing the CTU line. Or maybe that’s impossible.

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  • 227. firstgrade teacher  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:09 am

    One key question is how the evaluations will affect teachers for grades or subjects–such as kindergarten through 2nd grade, physical education, and the arts—in which standardized tests like NWEA are not given. CPS officials decided that the teachers will develop a performance task assessment, but they also will be judged on school-wide literacy scores – even though those scores may be coming from students a teacher has never instructed.


  • 228. firstgrade teacher  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:20 am

    @cpsobsessed let me try and answer,

    Sure, CPS considers themselves educational professionals. But the statement made was teachers, I think we can all agree that “educational professionals” and classroom teachers are not always the same thing or on the same page.

  • 229. cpsobsessed  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I’ve been trying to think of any job I’ve ever had (and it’s been a lot) where I had input into the decisions that affect my evaluation. I can’t think on any. I’m curious about others’ experience. Mgmt may “listen” but it comes down to what they decide.
    I’m not saying that’s how it should work, I’m just saying that it’s sort of how the world works. CPS (nor most mgmt) is going to actively solicit that input because *they* (any mgmt) believe they have the experienced professionals who know best (whether true or not.)

    It’s an uphill battle whether it should be or not. How are all chicago teachers gonna agree on this stuff? Should the union be the ones to hammer it out?

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  • 230. firstgrade teacher  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:26 am


    The assumption is that all Chicago teachers are toeing the line is so hugely false. Yes, we pay good money to our labor organization to support us at the table but this does not mean that we will not participate in discussion and dialogue about what is best for our students, this is an insult to teachers to assume or imply that. We trust CTU to do their job and we do ours and that includes what is best for our students. I have rarely, if ever, been asked my opinion on an assessment, curriculum, textbook purchased, and on and on in my 31 years of teaching. There is something wrong with this and it is not CTU and their bargaining.

  • 231. cpsobsessed  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

    @firstgradeteacher; I’d agree – many teachers are clealy not toeing the CTU line.
    BUT, if there were a small teacher input committe (elected by teachers?) to work with CPS on this stuff, I have a hard time believing that the small committee would not be put in a public spot of aligning with the union. If it could really operate independently, with no pressure, AWESOME. I’m just skeptical that it could happen.

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  • 232. Neighborhood teacher  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Cpsobsessed….still think you are missing the point. As a doctor you get a say in how you perform an operation. If it goes wrong you are punished by the hospital and maybe sued. That is fair.

    As a teacher, we get no say in how we perform our job (maybe you have not seen the scripted lessons most teachers MUST follow each day. I am talking about for for word scripts!) anyway, when something goes wrong we are punished but had none to very little imput in the process.

    I too have had other jobs and MOST professioanls are not micromanaged in the same way. Yes all professionals are evaluated but the freedom to make professional decisions leading up to the evaluation is left to the professional. If the decisions are not mine to begin with how fair is it to be evaluated on your decisions and my name slapped on it??

    If there is no freedom most professionals look for other jobs. I anticipate this happening. So far 100plus principals, and 2000 teachers set to leave June 30

  • 233. Neighborhood teacher  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Cpsobsessed..?…..jeez change doesn’t even have to be on a grand scale and in the news. Elected group!?

    That isn’t a necessary start, how about CPS actually letting teacher’s decide the words they can use to teach a math lesson? Or how often to teach guided reading and how many minutes to have a phonics lesson. These are the everyday choices that most teacher don’t get to decide and are constantly speaking out against. This has nothing to do with CTU.

  • 234. cpsobsessed  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I’m not actually sure docs do make surgery decisions on their own (assume they consult with someone, I hope!) Anyhow, doc are an odd comparison because many are self employed…

    But no, I had no idea about the micromgmt at that level.
    But then how do teachers like AnonymouseTeacher do things a little differently and see strong results?
    How are some schools in tier 1-2 areas rising above others in test scores?
    There must be some teacher/admin affect, no?

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  • 235. cpsobsessed  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Well, if nobody ever monitors the classroom, do what ya want!!
    I’m kidding. I have to agree – the way you describe the rigidity is mind boggling.
    Especially given what I’ve read about the first successful charters — it was all about turning learning upside down, trying new ways that worked for the specific group of kids. That’s the mindset that reformers seem to want…..

    I’m still having trouble getting my head around this though. Are you saying that all cps 3rd graders have the exact same everything day to day, across a given year? I know my son’s teacher is puliing reading guides etc off the web? Are all classes seeing the same one? Are all kids seeing the same worksheets?

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  • 236. Neighborhood teacher  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

    @233 yes!! That is my point, “they get a say” they consult, that means some kind of working together. Collaboration

    As for the teacher you mentioned great for her, I would love to know what school she works at in cps. Those who strive outside of the norm should be celebrated but it does not change the fact of the norm found in a lot schools. This should be happening in every school.

  • 237. cpsobsessed  |  May 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Ok, I’ve gotta put down the blackberry for a while and accomplish something.
    Very interesting discussion, although also a bit depressing about our giant system….

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  • 238. CLB  |  May 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    The issue is not whether testing should play a role in teacher evaluation, but what specific type of testing should be used.

    A single annual test is the cheapest to administer, but also the least accurate. The ISAT is an amalgam of aptitude and achievement; teachers should be held responsible for the latter, but not the former. The research on valued-added shows a great deal of inconsistency in results depending on the method used within the same year and inconsistency across years.

    Given that the CPS research site is down and not everything has transferred over to the new site, it is hard to figure out what CPS is up to.

  • 239. midschlSCIENCE  |  May 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    but they also will be judged on school-wide literacy scores – even though those scores may be coming from students a teacher has never instructed.
    @ 226

    sure you instructed them, two years before they take the test!
    Is it really any different (less ludicrous) from teaching a subject area in the upper grades?

    It’s like ISAT Science for me. As their 7th grade teacher, I am the sole recipient of gratitude or scorn for their gains/losses on the test.

    Another fear is motivating these students to do well or at least try on the quarterly tests. How much of your eval will get mucked up by a lazy, bored, disinterested, vindictive, but very mentally capable student. As a junior high student, I know exactly what I’d do armed with the knowledge that NWEA can affect my teacher’s pay/retention.

  • 240. CLB  |  May 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    The current problems with CPS’ proposed evaluation system are summarized in this letter. The details of the CPS proposal are only available in PowerPoint form and a FAQ, and therefore unsuitable for a full analysis.

    Once more, CPS eschews serious pilot studies — running the proposed system for a year with comparisons to peer schools — then evaluating it before reaching a decision. CPS began to do this on teaching observations with CTU support for Excellence in Teaching via U Chicago’s CCSR. That element of the program has been partially adopted, but principals were wary of the extra load it placed on them. I am unclear if CPS is considering using external observers, which CCSR suggested as a possibility.

    Indeed, more extensive peer review (fellow faculty, senior faculty, faculty from other schools) would be helpful. Some of this is currently done in PD, I presume, but I don’t think it is done systematically in the system. Principals should encourage it, but the logistics are not simple.

  • 242. CPSTEACHER4321  |  May 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    It depends on the school. Some schools are highly transient. The school I taught at was so transient that the children I had at the beginning of the year were not the children I had at the end of the year. Some moved out of the city and moved back in the city and were in my room for portions of the school year. So the likelihood of teachers in 3rd grade teaching the same students that a teacher in Pre-K – 2 did in some schools is highly unlikely.

    I currently still teach in one of the grades/subjects that will have this issue. My school, formerly AMPS, has very high test scores. However the students I am responsible for teaching will more than likely not be the students that will be third graders at my school down the road.

    @199 HS Mom
    That comment was more meant to be, please don’t judge me until you have worked in my shoes. I am not judging you and your profession.

    As for my boss, I work for a fantastic administration at the school level. My school as mentioned above used to be AMPS, until this past school year when AMPS was removed. We were free to do what we needed to get things done for our students without as much hovering from central office. Obviously we did because our test scores are/were high. However, I do not believe that test scores are a measure of the whole child.

    I have faith in my administration and the majority of teachers at my school to do what is right for children, teachers and families. I’m more worried about how the new system is going to impact those who are working in less desirable circumstances than I am because I have been there and know what it is like. I have also lost faith in central office to do what is right for children, teachers and families.

  • 243. HS Mom  |  May 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    @228 CPSO – I once worked for a company that had the employee fill out their own review (a copy of the supervisors) up front. Interestingly, the employee was usually harder on themselves than the supervisor. This made for very thoughtful discussion and establishment of goals. I too feel that the union, while representing the best interest of teachers financially, can be in conflict with parents who desire allocation of funds toward resources and enhancement. The idea of an academic committee that can truly address existing educational conditions, needs and integrate salary issues would be appealing.

    I am guessing that a doctor performing a by-pass has a set procedure that is subject to change instantly depending upon conditions. I also assume that education needs to be standardized with the ability to adapt to human conditions. I see teachers depart from protocol all the time. Some of the best teachers change or rework lesson plans frequently. @231, I don’t see the “scripted lessons”.

  • 244. anonymous  |  May 14, 2012 at 6:26 am

    The scripted lessons are coming via online curriculum.
    There is a lot that many posting here simply don’t and can’t know at this point.

  • 245. CLB  |  May 14, 2012 at 8:18 am

    @242 I know that one of the control variables in CPS’s value-added model is student mobility. Whether it would detect the degree of mobility that you are describing, I do not know.

    Most of the value-added measures are helpful for identifying very poor and very good performance in a single year (over time there is much wider variation), but the majority of the value-added scores are not “statistically significant,” which means that the results are indistinguishable from chance effects, not that the teacher had no value-added.

  • 246. Mom23  |  May 14, 2012 at 11:24 am

    @158 The pay/not paid for lunch is an issue of semantics. Teachers are technically NOT paid for lunch, BUT neither are people who work regular 9-5 jobs or other non hourly professions. It is my understanding that it is an OSHA requirement. A standard 8 hour private sector job has usually 45 minutes to an hour “unpaid” lunch. THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR PEOPLE CAN NOT CHOOSE TO TAKE THEIR LUNCH THE END OF THE DAY AND THUS SHORTEN THEIR WORK DAY. Sorry for the all caps, but yes teachers are right that they do not get paid for lunch, but no one else does either. Teachers need to stop thinking of this as CPS asking for additional time that is unpaid. So, by moving your lunch back to the middle of the day, it does extend your work day 45 minutes, but sorry, you should not be paid for that time when you have a 45 minute duty free lunch.

    There are so many items in this post that are just a disconnect with most other professions. The unpaid lunch example above is one and another obvious one is being evaluated. Sorry teachers, but you need to be evaluated. There are countless ways it can be done. It can and needs to be done. It has nothing to do with disrespect or picking on teachers. It is a need for such a large system to function properly and it is not functioning under the current set of rules. Heck, even smaller systems need a clear evaluation process to function smoothly. Tenure has crippled the system. Tenure needs to go.

    Bad teachers need to go. There would not be a need for such rigid evaluation systems if we could just dump the bad ones out of the system. My child is in an excellent neighborhood school, but it still has an awful issue of an abusive teacher that can’t be fired.

    Just think about it, every single school has at least one teacher that should not be teaching. Everyone knows who they are, the principal, the other teachers, the parents, and certainly the students.

    There has to be a way to get these teachers away from our children. An entire year with a bad teacher is life changing for children. We can’t allow this to continue. The CTU defends the lowest common denominator teacher and that reflects poorly on all teachers and is why you feel disrespected. You pay dues to your union and should expect more of them. They are reducing you to factory workers instead of professionals.

  • 247. kate  |  May 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    213/214 @ Neighborhood teacher, please educate me more on the “scripts”. Even in my own neighborhood there are a number of programatic differences in the elem schools which make it hard to understand the commentary about ‘scripting’ and inability to run one’s own classroom as necessary.

    As an example, we have schools that are teaching the using IB (MYP, PYP) framework, schools that have focus on specific areas such as ecology or environmentalism, schools that have comp. gifted offerings, schools that have numerous community partnerships & schools that have none of these offerings. It would seem that the teacher(s) involved at these various schools could not be so scripted . In fact it seems that the teachers have some ability to customize/out reach for their needs. Please correct me.

  • 248. falconergrad  |  May 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    A couple of things keep coming up in my head, but nobody ever brings them up:

    1. CPS is too big of a system to function well. I wish it would split up into smaller units, possibly based on geography (I know this will have people up in arms, but at least people can feel greater “ownership” of and involvement in a smaller, local system!) or grade levels. Why not spin the high schools off into their own district? Many suburban school systems operate this way. Or something else? In my field, I could have sought employment with a larger organization, but I have always chosen to pursue opportunities with small to medium size ones. I don’t like being a number and I like knowing everyone’s name.

    2. When I hear the word teacher, I still see a woman (full disclosure, I am 42 YO). I know this is 2012, but is it possible that the teachers are being vilified because that is what others see – and they don’t think women should be fighting for fair pay and work conditions?
    I wonder…if Karen Lewis was a man, how would he be portrayed/seen?

    Sorry if this is OT, I really should look for that message board thing.

  • 249. CPSTEACHER4321  |  May 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I don’t think anyone is asking to be paid for their “duty free” lunch. I think the issue is the lunch is either to be “duty free” or we are working it and then it will not be “duty free” and thus it should be paid. CPS can’t have it both ways. So they are suggesting we have a 45 minute “duty free” lunch and then on the other hand telling our administration they should ask us to “volunteer” to supervise our students. So either duty free or paid. Either it is our time or the board’s time. That is where people are having a problem with this.

    The system is indeed large. I think that they have tried to break it down over the years. In some ways it is still broken down by “networks.” However the problem is there are so many cooks in the kitchen. Word on the street is that many of the “cooks” in central office are not really talking to each other. There has not been a head chef in charge long enough for any consistency to trickle down to the schools.

  • 250. foureyes  |  May 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    With regard to budgets – perhaps some parents, teachers, and community members here would be interested in seeing this presentation (where one of the speakers has studied the CPS budgets – he will talk about budget transparency). Come and ask questions!

    Critically Thinking about Chicago Public Schools

    Public Forum

    Sunday 20 May 2012
    5 PM – 7 PM

    Luther Memorial Church
    2500 W. Wilson (in Lincoln Square)
    Chicago, IL

    Panel Presentation
    Q-A session.

    The notion of education reform is not a contentious issue for the vast majority of Chicago voters, as 82% consider reform either extremely or very important. However, not all reform is viewed the same. What shape does that reform take? Hear from members of the community involved in reshaping education so it benefits all stakeholders.

    Ameya Pawar
    Invited – 47th Ward Alderman
    Jackson Potter
    Chicago Teachers Union Staff Coordinator
    Kurt Hilgendorf
    CTU CPS Budget Evaluation Committee
    Kate Brandt
    6.5 to Thrive
    Erica Clark
    Wanda Hopkins
    Parents United for Responsible Education (P.U.R.E)
    Sonia Kwon
    Raise Your Hand – Illinois
    Raul Botello
    Albany Park Neighborhood Council (A.P.N.C.)
    Victor Alquicira – student
    VOYCE – Voices of Youth in Chicago Education

    CPS Board Members

    Sunday 20 May 2012
    5 PM – 7 PM

    Luther Memorial Church
    2500 W. Wilson
    Chicago, IL

  • 251. CPSTEACHER4321  |  May 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    I am sure there almost as many varied curriculum combinations as there are schools.

    DI (Direct Instruction, DISTAR) was once a very well known scripted curriculum. CPS praised it and then banned it. I am not sure if it is still being used anywhere anymore. I know Disney 1 was using it (not sure if they still are).

  • 252. mom2  |  May 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    @250 – is that pretty one sided or are there many opposing views in that group? I see CPS invited, but are they speaking or is anyone on another side speaking?

  • 253. Angie  |  May 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    @248. falconergrad: You are still pushing your gender card? As I recall, no one bought that nonsense when you tried it before.

  • 254. mom2  |  May 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    @248 – I agree with you about splitting CPS into smaller units. It makes sense on so many levels. I’ve mentioned that before myself. The needs and issues faced in one part of the city are vastly different than in other parts.

    Not sure I agree with you on the gender issue. I actually don’t think teachers are getting as bad a rap as they perceive. Most parents I know just love nearly all their teachers and fully support them in terms of getting what is best for them within the classroom (autonomy, supplies, aids, smaller class sizes) but they just have issues with the very few poor teachers that continue to work within the school and they have issues with CTU demanding more and more pay when CPS, if they find the money, should use it for the kids and the schools, not take home pay. That would happen regardless of gender.

  • 255. another cps mom  |  May 14, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Gender & teachers. That’s a real issue. I buy it. Not nonsense.

  • 256. another cps mom  |  May 14, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    “THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR PEOPLE CAN NOT CHOOSE TO TAKE THEIR LUNCH THE END OF THE DAY AND THUS SHORTEN THEIR WORK DAY.” Oh, yeah, they can. I did for a couple years when I was a new mom. Also, do so now, when the schedule (work-life balance) requires.

  • 257. foureyes  |  May 14, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    we have 4 parent groups and we have invited the board. (The BOE as yet has not responded and they were invited weeks ago)

    Please come hear what these people have to say. The goal is to give voice to people who are not usually heard in the standard media. We hope that people will listen and ask questions. I do not believe that many people listen to VOYCE. And they are students. We certainly should consider what students have to say.

    I doubt most persons have heard the information in the presentation about CPS budget transparency. In these times – certainly – we should think about the need for transparency. Listen, think about,ask questions to the people there. Perhaps if more people ask questions…the standard media might take notice. This city could use some serious investigative reporting on CPS budgets – judging from all the talk here.

  • 258. bill  |  May 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    as far as teacher evaluations go, it’s a REALLY complicated issue, especially when you involve student test scores. value added growth SEEMS like it’s the perfect solution, but it’s seriously flawed. just google it and start reading. (

    people on this board keep comparing teaching to the rest of the job force but it’s simply not the same when you’re dealing with children and learning. a teacher’s effectiveness cannot be judged by a test score. it’s just can’t. there are too many outside factors and too many intangible aspects.

    i believe that this new REACH rubric for observed lessons is great, but the value added thing just seems inaccurate and dangerous. it’s going to send all the good teachers for the hills, or the schools where they know they can get good test scores. as for the not-so-good teachers, they’ll begin teaching to the test even more than they already do. this does NOT make smarter kids, and it makes for an unfulfilling learning atmosphere and school experience. all of this is especially unreliable when CPS is constantly changing its mind about what test they are going to use. like another poster mentioned, first it was SCANTRON, now it’s NWEA. in 7 years is CPS going to deem NWEA worthless? what justice will be given to the teachers who were scored low because of those scores?

    i’m not on the CTU’s side, but i’m definitely on the kids’ side. i think it’s a little closed-minded that, even though almost ALL of our city’s teachers are telling us that this is bad for our kids, we are chalking it up to their selfishness and money. maybe it’s more than money. maybe some teachers are genuinely concerned about the state of curriculum and instruction in our schools? either way, i believe an appealing job environment with fair (albeit constant) evaluation attracts top quality candidates. the current teaching environment attracts the bottom half, and that’s why you have bad teachers, and that’s why this whole thing is necessary. it’s a vicious cycle and i don’t know the way out.

  • 259. bill  |  May 14, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    here is another good clip that sums up my thoughts. charlotte danielson created a rubric for teach evaluations that CPS has adapted for it’s REACH evaluation program.

  • 260. falconergrad  |  May 14, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    @253 I have no idea what you are talking about. Perhaps you have me mixed up with someone else you dislike.

  • 261. sandersrockets  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Danielson’s work is a tool of best practices and self reflection that the Board has revamped into an evaluative tool. I have read her work previous to all of this. I then saw how the Board MADE it evaluative. I emailed The Danielson Group to ask their opinion of CPS changes and adaptation. Here is their response:

    “Charlotte Danielson and The Danielson Group are well aware that the information derived from the use of the framework is being used as part of the evaluation system of teachers in many states. You are correct that Charlotte developed the framework to describe best practices to serve as a tool for self reflection and improvement of teaching. 

    Our strongly held point of view is that the framework is a tool to use to evaluate teaching, not teachers. In other words, Charlotte does not have a formula to use counting up the number of unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, and outstanding ratings to produce a final “answer” as to what level of teacher a person is.”

    As a teacher in the system for over 16 years I’ve seen LOTS of things come and go. What remains are teachers and students. Teachers aren’t afraid of evaluation. We just want one that is fair and true and withstanding. If the author of the work isn’t comfortable with evaluating teachers is it really the best answer?

  • 262. sandersrockets  |  May 15, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Along the lines of things coming and going, with each new administration they have always rolled out “the new and improved.” We expect that. This time it feels different because early on our new Board (not elected but hand picked by our mayor) took to the media to air concerns and suddenly there began a fight of sides. With the media as voice of their side instead of talking with the teachers. In effect, we were vilified early on and now there is a lack of trust. Teachers do not trust this Board to make decisions that are in the best interest of students, instruction, or teaching and learning. It has become a political fight and our children are in the middle.

  • 263. Angie  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:18 am

    @260. falconergrad: If I mixed you up with someone else, I apologize.

    Still, because of their gender-dominated profession, any changes to teachers’ evaluation are going to affect mostly females, just like the crackdown on firefighters’ fraud has affected mostly males. That does not mean that either of these groups was targeted specifically because of their gender.

  • 264. anonymous  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:30 am

    263 — But perhaps librarians and teachers got to get on the chopping block first b/c of their gender?

  • 265. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:41 am

    @264 Are you saying that male librarians and teachers were NOT put “on the chopping block” and that female ones were?

  • 266. anonymous  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I’m sure the mayor doesn’t discriminate between male and female librarians and teachers!

    The predominantly female professions — teachers and librarians — got to go before the predominantly male professions — fire fighting and police work.

  • 267. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    @266 I think that it is really a stretch to say that is a gender issue. It is “easier” to cut librarians and teachers because it does not directly affect the safety of the entire city. The negative results of cutting librarians and teachers are not as immediately obvious.

  • 268. anonymous  |  May 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Got a point. The murder rate went up b/c we didn’t replace the 1000 or so police we have lost through attrition, not b/c we laid a bunch off. ; )

  • 269. Kelly  |  May 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Regarding the gender issue, not that long ago, women who went to college had two choice – nursing or teaching. Now that women have more options, we risk detracting the best and the brightest from teacher in favor of other fields where they are respected and compensated. The answer to education reform is elevating professionalism in education not the opposite.

  • 270. CLB  |  May 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Does anyone have a link or copy of their schools budget as handed down to the principal? I asked CPS for some and get no replies, even via FOIA. I’m off to the AGs office soon to file a complaint

  • 271. HS Mom  |  May 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    @269 “not that long ago, women who went to college had two choice – nursing or teaching.”

    When exactly was that??

    Are you saying that teachers are not treated or paid like “professionals”? I’d really like to know more concretely what you think about that and how you would resolve it. Seriously. Is it pay hike across the board as much as you can get? Keep in mind, prior poster says teaching is not like any other profession because they work with kids.

    @248 – can’t say that any of your suggestions ring true with me and I’m guessing many – teachers are “vilified”, teacher = woman, a woman teacher (in CPS) has less pay and worse working conditions (than a man?).

    You’ve come a long way baby. Now, back to downloading the next episode of Mad Men.

  • 272. actively listening  |  May 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    A great response to think about….

    The comment: “I don’t understand why teachers object to merit pay. At every other job, you get paid what you’re worth.”

    The response: “I’m not opposed to being paid what I’m worth. The trouble is defining the value of a good teacher by test scores. Unless, of course, you think your SAT score was the ultimate predictor of your worth.”

  • 273. cpsobsessed  |  May 15, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    My mom came out of school during the teacher or nurse era. That was the late 50’s and well into the 60’s.
    Even in the 70’s a woman I used to work for told me that men in marketing research started as analysts while women started in a grunt job coding data. She was the first woman who demanded an analyst job sometime around 1976.

    I was pleased to see at amundsen on the walls of principal photos dating back to the 1930’s, 2 female principals even “way back then”. Several of them had phd’s btw.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 274. Family Friend  |  May 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    @121 – Nicole: IDEA provides a very small part of special ed funding, and it must “supplement, not replace” programs the district is already providing. There is also an even smaller amount of state grant funding. Most special ed funding comes from the regular school budget. That’s not to say this makes it OK to ignore the law in providing special ed services, just that money for this is squeezed like money for everything else.

  • 275. cpsobsessed  |  May 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Nobody is sating that one test score will be the predictor of “success”. At the most it would be half, and it would be the test scores of 20-some kids.

    As a data person, I agree that a yearly score (aggregate of your students) is subject to too much data imperfection. Too small of base sizes. Couple naughty kids can throw the whole year.

    I *do* suspect that looking at something like a 4year rolling average of AYP would show some kind of differences between teachers.

  • 276. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    We may not like them but scholastic standardized tests accurately assess what they have been designed to do – in the world of test design it’s called “validity” and the tests given to CPS students are all statistically valid.

    What is a bad idea is to use the results of these test for a different purpose such using them to measure teacher effectiveness. These tests simply have not been designed to do so and therefore have not been proven to be statistically valid to be used for teacher effectiveness. They may very well be valid for this purpose but it is unknown at this point.

    My suggestion would be to take the standardized testing component out of teacher evaluation until a validated instrument is agreed upon by all parties.

  • 277. cpsobsessed  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    So what *are* the standardized tests valid at measuring?
    Is it “how much a child knows for their grade-appropriate information”?
    Based on the 3rd grade isat review book, I’d say it would measure the extent to which a child learned certain topics (ie, simple adding, telling time, basic geometry, reading graphs, main idea of a story.)

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  • 278. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    @277 yes, that is what they do and the results are valid. In addition, as kids get older, “abstract reasoning” is also measured across the subjects.

  • 279. Mom  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    “Unless, of course, you think your SAT score was the ultimate predictor of your worth.”

    ummm, yeah, it really has been a predictor of my worth. I scored very well and I earn a great salary.

  • 280. cpsobsessed  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I scored very well and am pretty much a slacker. 🙂

    So if they measure that information, which is taught in the school, in that given year — how can that not correlate with one aspect of teacher “success?”

    I’m assuming the scripted curriculum included the topics that will be on the test.

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  • 281. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I think standardized is a good indicator for a student’s potential achievement but so much else comes into play beyond that – family support, drive, ambition, personality, etc.

    We all know people who should have been who-knows-what with high SAT scores and it didn’t work that way…

  • 282. AllGrownUP  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    281 – and then there are those of us who test badly, didn’t care much about school, and have done very well in life, thank you very much!

  • 283. lt246  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    CPSO, you are *so* not a slacker, at least on this blog!

    But to your point, they are not talking about using kids’ absolute scores for teacher eval, but the additional “value” that teachers added to any particular group of kids in any given year. Problem is, the data is useless, as many statisticians have pointed out.

    There are a series of amazing blog posts by NYC match teacher Gary Rubinstein that show that there is no correlation between teachers scores from one year to the next, and no correlation between teachers scores from one grade to the other (ie, if you teach 7th and 8th grade math, there’s no relationship between your scores) – among plenty of other great insights on value added testing:

    The most scary thing for me about merit pay and evaluations based on test scores is that teaching will simply become all about the test. If the only thing that really matters is scores, it’ll become the only thing taught. Especially since teachers would be ranked by percentiles, when one does better, it’s at another’s expense, so there will start to become competition instead of collaboration.

    I also think the idea that teachers would work harder and be better teachers to my kids if they were paid for higher test scores is kind of insulting to them, as if they aren’t giving everything they can to our kids all the time.

    Diane Ravitch’s writing on this stuff is excellent too…

  • 284. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    @280 regarding:
    So if they measure that information, which is taught in the school, in that given year — how can that not correlate with one aspect of teacher “success?”
    I think the testing does correlate to teacher success to some degree but, since the tests were not designed/validated for this purpose it is not appropriate to use them for teacher evaluation. To me it seems like a basic tenet of the ethical use of standardized testing to not use test results for a purpose for which it has not been validated.

  • 285. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    @283 I have not read all of the information that you mentioned and I am by no means an expert in this. However, I am confused how there could be no correlation to teacher performance and their students’ test scores. I think that it would be important to look at more than 1 year of data, and obviously test scores cannot be the ONLY measure, but I don’t understand how you can say there is no correlation.

    If my students come in to 4th grade with an average score of 400 and then after a year with me their class average is 450 (these numbers do not represent any test – I am just using them for example) and this happens in my classroom for several years running, I think think that it would be fair to say that I am doing a decent job teaching my students. Just as if my students came in with an average score of 400 and then after a year with me they scored 350, and THIS happened for several years, I am probably not doing a great job and need some help to improve my teaching skills.

    If the test scores have nothing to do with how well the teacher teaches, then they are just intelligence tests. I don’t like how much focus there is on standardized testing, but unfortunately there has to be some objective way to measure how well students are learning.

    Again, I do not claim to be an expert in this, but this seems fairly logical to me. I will try to read some of the examples that you cited so that I can get a better understanding, but from a purely logical perspective, this is what makes sense to me.

  • 286. cpsobsessed  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    It just seems like one could make the leap:
    1. Teacher are there to make sure the kids learn information.
    2. The tests measure how much grade level information a child has learned.

    Can one not conclude that the test therefore measures the extent to which a given teacher got that information into his/her kids’ heads?

    There are so many other aspects of being a good teacher, but just in terms of this measure. “Information transfer” you could call it.
    I’m sure at each older grade it become more complex. The 3rd grade math isat prep book makes it easy for me to accept this as a small measure of teacher performance.

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  • 287. CLB  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    ummm, yeah, it really has been a predictor of my worth. I scored very well and I earn a great salary.”

    But to be a good predictor, the person earning less than you should have a lower score than you and the person earning more than you should have a higher score than you. We don’t get point predictions out of this stuff.

    @285, what was said in @283 was that teacher scores do not trend in the way you suggest. When examine multiple years, you find very very few people who consistently do well or do poorly.

  • 288. lt246  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I know, it does sound like it’s intuitive, but I actually think it isn’t. There’s a great principal that’s been in the NY Times a couple of times speaking out against the high stakes testing:

    One perverse consequence of using the “value added” model is that if you are a teacher of high-performing kids, your students are already at the top. If they are in the 99th percentile, and you don’t add to their value by getting them to the 99.5 percentile, you actually find yourself at the bottom of teacher scores – that’s what they found when they released the scores to the newspapers in NYC. Lots of principals are against the rankings for lots of reasons:

  • 289. Mom  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    CLB, it is absolutely true that most people earning more than me scored higher and went to better universities. Not all of course, but most.

    And most who scored less than I went to lesser colleges, didn’t get advanced degrees, and are making much less. Except the one-offs like the low scoring plugger who made a fortune from selling his early internet business.

    In my case, get taught “to the test” has paid off in spades.

  • 290. inedgewater  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I don’t know about these measures. For instance, my child who is a good student and pays attention and learns has no issues has a classmate of his (no names but true story), who hasn’t brought in his homework once all year and ends up missing recess everyday because of this- he does it at recess. He doesn’t do projects on time, etc. This child’s parents for whatever reason (and there are many valid and invalid reasons) don’t come to teacher conferences or attend school events don’t volunteer don’t seem to be involved or engaged in any aspect of their child’s education.

    This kid is combating other things at home which my kid doesn’t even know exist and when said child scores horribly on electronic tests, how on god’s earth is the teacher to be taken to task for this?!

    Are they going on averages for the whole class? What about these ‘outlier’ kids? Just doesn’t seem like a valid eval.

  • 291. cpsobsessed  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    If it’s really a crapshoot in terms of ayp, it’ll all wash out in the end anyhow, right? I’m half kidding. Half the time a teacher’s ayp will look better than it should, half the time worse, no?

    I think every grade will have a couple outliers. It’s the bell curve of the population. But with the test score counting more, teacher will have to bargain about who gets them each year which is kind of icky.

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  • 292. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    @289 But if we are measuring how much the child improves year to year, it is still valid. Granted, it is more difficult to help a child like that improve. And there will always be outliers – some students will suddenly mature and take school seriously and improve greatly, even if the teacher is not great, and others may have a particularly bad year because of things going on at home and the best teacher in the world might not be able to help them. However, in a class of 30 or so kids, I would imagine you have enough kids to get a fairly accurate picture.

  • 293. Mom  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I think it will be really hard to convince your average parent that there is simply no way to evaluate where kids are at the beginning of the year and then reevaluate where they are at the end of the year to see if they learned what they were supposed to learn over the course of the year. As such, it does not seem unreasonable, again to your average parent, that whether the kids learned what they should have learned in the course of the year should form some portion of the teacher’s evaluation. Should it be the sole thing relied on? No, it should be part of the picture. That way, individual circumstances that might explain in certain cases why an individual child did not learn what was expected can be also considered. Using testing results for evaluation does not have to be the be-all-and-end-all. And from what I understand, no one is proposing it should be.

  • 294. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    So here’s a stab at how the use of standardized testing for teacher evaluation would have to be re-designed/validated for teacher evaluation.

    The start of school year results would be compared to end of school year and a composite score indicating teacher performance comes out of that. The following adjustments would then have to be made to that score to make it “fair” or valid:

    A factor which takes into account absenteeism

    A factor which accounts for the number of kids with learning disabilities in the class.

    A factor which takes into account percentage of low income students.

    In addition the tests would have to have a built-in tool to detect if the student is purposely not putting in effort on the test. Psychological tests have this built in – I don’t know about scholastic assessments.

    All these factors would then have to be integrated into the teacher’s score to make for a valid measure of teacher effectiveness. I’m sure there are additional aspects which come into play. In order to be fair it’s inevitably complicated.

  • 295. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    @293 Very well said!

  • 296. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    @294 I have a huge problem with several of your exceptions. Are you really saying that children with learning disabilities or from low-income homes cannot improve their test scores from year to year?

  • 297. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    @296 Not at all. What I’m saying is that a teacher who teaches 3rd grade in school A may have a classroom with a different mix of kids than another 3rd grade teacher in school A. The differences will influence her results but she has no control over that so they have to be factored out in order to be fair. This would make “effectiveness scores” valid within schools and also across all schools in the system.

  • 298. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    @297 But if they are measuring how that mix of kids did compared to how that same mix of kids did the previous year, why would they have to be factored out? I thought that the whole point of comparing students scores from one year to the next was to measure how much they learned that year?

    It is important to keep in mind that student test scores should only be a PART of a teacher’s evaluation. But I think it seems strange to say that it cannot be a part of it.

  • 299. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    @297 In order for the teacher scores to be meaningful they have to be directly comparable to other teachers’ scores. If a teacher scores a 90% on a “teacher effectiveness” scale based on standardized scholastic student tests it should be comparable to all teachers for that grade level across all schools. That is why you have to account for the factors that do influence the score but she has no control over.

    Teachers are very concerned that their colleagues in low performing schools will inevitably get low teaching performance scores when measured by using standardized scholastic student tests. Although I am 100% for metric based performance evaluations I do think they are right in this regard.

  • 300. lt246  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Most of the value-added models do account for things like race, gender, socioeconomic status, and even class size and mobility, and use data from several years where it’s available:

    Even with all those controls, many experts dismiss them as deeply flawed measures:

    Testing as a concept has a role to play in helping teachers know how their students are doing. Attaching high stakes to those tests for students and teachers is a recipe for drill-and-kill classroom practice, demoralization, and cheating.

  • 301. Neighborhood teacher  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    @ 289
    “It is absolutely true that most people earning more than me scored higher and went to better universities. Not all of course, but most.
    And most who scored less than I went to lesser colleges, didn’t get advanced degrees, and are making much less. Except the one-offs like the low scoring plugger who made a fortune from selling his early internet business.”

    Wow, what a statement that can’t be proven!! Most people? Really??

  • 302. teacher  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Here is a question for all you CPS parents, so if testing is good to use to rate a teacher is it okay to use one assessment to pass your kids to the next grade? So if Johnny does not do well on NWEA in May, he has to repeat the grade? Is this ok? Regardless of what he did all year?

  • 303. teacher  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Before anyone mentions this, yes I know in 3, 6, 8th summer school is based on ISAT. NWEA is a lot tougher, are we willing to use this one test for all kids, in all tested grades? If a child “has not grown” enough we hold them back?

  • 304. cpsobsessed  |  May 15, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    To be comparable to the teacher eval, the test score would ultimately be used for half the decision to hold back a kid.

    But yeah, I think between that and grades, I could be okay. But I’ve always been conceptually puzzled as to how cps keeps moving kids up who haven’t learned the basic skills they need.

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  • 305. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    @302 The short answer is yes, especially since NWEA is grade-independent.

    However, if there is a notable discrepancy between letter grades and the test one would have to figure out which of the two is at odds with the students true mastery of the subject matter.

  • 306. Kelly  |  May 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    @271 – “not that long ago, women who went to college had two choice – nursing or teaching.” When exactly was that??

    CPSO got the timing right – 50’s/60’s up to the 70’s. Yes, we have come a long way baby. Thank you very much.

    “Are you saying that teachers are not treated or paid like “professionals”? I’d really like to know more concretely what you think about that and how you would resolve it. Seriously. Is it pay hike across the board as much as you can get? Keep in mind, prior poster says teaching is not like any other profession because they work with kids.”

    Pay – I think the average pay at chicago public schools is a little on the low side but not extraordinarily so. The system is set up so the most experienced teachers cost way more than the new teachers even though they are all performing the same duties. It creates a perverse incentive to management to want to get rid of the expensive teachers and replace them with inexpensive teachers. I think there is a law of diminishing returns on the value of years of experience, somewhere around year 7-10, you’ve probably nearly maxed out – figured out classroom management, had enough different types of learners that you are adept at differentiation, tried enough different techniques that you have mastered the toolkit. If we can figure out how to measure mastery, then merit pay makes sense as a way to compensate. I think they should not be automatically given raises for more years of experiences or more education on top of the COLA.

    Professionalism – This is where the problem lies. I think people do not respect the professional expertise of educators the same way they respect the professional expertise of accountants, lawyers, doctors.

    Proposed Solutions –
    1) Raise standards in teacher preparation programs to weed out low quality candidates before they get into a classroom. I know I am going to get rotten tomatoes for this one but I’m feeling saucy (and anonymous) …. When I was in college, a lot of the education majors would not have been able to get accepted and/or pass in many other majors. And when I did meet a “smart” education major, I wondered why they were majoring in education when they were smart enough to do something else. I don’t know what happened to the education majors I went to college with – I didn’t cross paths with them after I moved from the dorms to my apartment. My guess is that many of them did not get teaching jobs or are no longer teaching because now when I meet teachers at my neighborhood school, they are all highly articulate and professional. I’m not saying you have to be a rocket scientist to be an effective teacher but I do think you need to be “smarter” than many of the teacher preparation programs currently require.

    2) Stop putting non-educators in charge of education policy and budgeting a la Huberman and Duncan. No other profession – accounting, law, medicine – would accept this. Imagine the head of hospital not being a doctor or the head of a law firm not being a lawyer.

    3) Create and fund initiatives that support teachers improving their craft through mentorships and partnerships with university to develop evidence based curriculum and methods.

    4) Give teachers time during the workday to co-plan so they can share best practices and integrate units across the classroom and specials (elem) or across the subject areas (middle school). I did a tour at the Baker Demonstration School and the most impressive thing to me was that they do this. Awesome. All schools should.

    5) Stop allowing charter schools to devalue the compensation of educators. If the market rate of pay gets too low, you’ll lose more good candidates to other career options. Charter school teachers tend to be fresh out of college non-education majors who will do the burnout work for a little money (like charity almost) for a few years then go into a more lucrative field.

    6) Dismantle NCLB. We force educators to spend too much time administering tests at the expense of time spent teaching kids how to think. Fill in the bubble tests are good for some kinds of learners but not all. And it doesn’t measure the ability to create and express and original thought.

    I think from your post that you assume I am a teacher. I am not. From your comment “Is it a pay hike across the board as much as you can get?”, I take it you are anti-union or at least anti-public employee union. I wonder if the teachers were not unionized, if they would be treated better or worse by the administration. I hope not worse.

    One more thing, when people worry that their children’s teachers are overpaid, I understand that they are worried about an increase in property tax and other taxes. But I, for one, am in favor of using monetary reward to attract talent. I want my kid’s teacher to be the most talented teacher in the world. I think this is the philosophy of most residents of Wilmette, Winnetka, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, and Naperville. Plus it will make my house worth 2.4 times more than someone’s house that is not near a good school. But that is a different post.

  • 307. anniesullivan  |  May 15, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    I agree. Children should not be promoted to second grade if they cannot read yet it happens all of the time. Then they get further behind until they are sent to the third grade bridge where everyone passes to fourth. No one and I mean no one thinks RtI is the panacea for these children. Let’s exclude the children with disabilities who remain unidentified until a sharp teacher gets him/her in grade 5. Focus on the children who lag in maturation or just need an extra year in first grade to pick up reading skills. It would solve a lot of problems if we had highly trained reading teachers in the first grades. The education programs are graduating teachers who do not know how to teach the mechanics of reading. I am a special education teacher who sees a lot of children with reading problems in the intermediate grades who struggle just to read the grade level science or social studies book yet they are passed along by teachers who are told not to fail children because the cost is prohibitive. The we wonder why children who enter high school reading at a fifth grade level drop out.

  • 308. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    @304 I agree! I think that test scores and grades should be looked at at the end of every year to determine if a student is prepared to advance to the next grade. We are not doing them any favors by advancing them if they are not prepared.

  • 309. Mom of part time gifted son  |  May 15, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    @ 302 teacher,
    IF I am being completely honest I LOVE the idea of a test determining my (gifted child’s grades) UNTIL he has a bad day, is sick, decides to daydream, pout, etc, etc. or a million other things that can happen to a kid on test days.

    Teacher I get your point, there are way too many variables and knowing my kid he will score in the 98th percentile one day and the next day barely average.

    Nah, no thank you!

  • 310. Cpsteacher  |  May 15, 2012 at 7:17 pm


    In light of the NWEA MAP system outages and resulting frustrations over the past two weeks, we’d like to offer you an extension to the Spring testing window. Rather than ending Friday, May 25th, the close of the Spring window will be Friday, June 1st.

    Please do contact me directly if you are experiencing additional system problems.

    Thank you,


    Kelly K. Mina

    Assessment Specialist

    Department of Assessment | Chicago Public Schools

  • 311. CPSTEACHER4321  |  May 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Yes we are very worried about our fellow teachers who are in low performing schools subject to being “turned around.” We are worried about teachers that go into work every day in dangerous situations to do the best they can for their students in situations many of us haven’t fathomed living. We are worried about teachers in schools that do not have enough nurses, social workers, psychologists to help with the needed social emotional learning these students need to learn in addition to their “test taking skills.” We are worried about a lack of whole child education. We’re going to end up with those most desperate teaching our neediest.

    In terms of promoting children when they shouldn’t be. It is pretty much “illegal” to hold a child back at the K level. K is not even required in Illinois. K is also not what it was 20 or so years ago. Children are expected to be reading in the middle of K. Though this leaves things open to the red shirt debate. If a few children who really could use an extra year to gain skills, mature etc. They would probably save CPS and our society money long term as perhaps they would not need later interventions. However, some families are trying to postpone K entry to give their children an advantage at the high school level. Again the issue is CPS has to make decisions on the basis of the whole when children are individuals and these situations should be judged on a case by case basis.

    As for the test scores/teacher evaluation debate. Again I bring it up, as a teacher in a non-testing grade, who has very little chance of having the children I taught actually take a test at my school in 3rd grade, how is it fair to me or the third grade teacher that my evaluation is based on the test scores of his/her students?

  • 312. lt246  |  May 15, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Turns out there’s lots on value-added In the news today. This one might be of particular interest here since its about the tests in high-performing, SE schools, and how the tests really don’t work there:

  • 313. Mom  |  May 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I guess I am still foggy on how this works. If a small portion of the evaluation is how a particular cohort of children improves (or not) over the course of the year, and this cohort is not compared to any more affluent, smarter, etc., cohort, then what exactly is the problem? It will be how much the ESL and SPED kids pick up over the course of the year. They won’t be compared to how much the RGC kids pick up. So, why can’t how much a particular teacher’s students learn (or not) be part (not the whole) of her evaluation? It is just truly baffling to any logical thinker.

  • 314. CPSTEACHER4321  |  May 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm


    Okay for now I’ll pretend I don’t teach an non-tested subject (which I do). For the students with labels (SPED) are the tests for SPED going to be based on their developmental level or grade level?

    There are more questions than answers right now- I think what most of us want are answers and a clearly drawn plan of different situations. Plus some reassurance that our employer is really out there for what is best for the students, not what is best for other pursuits.

  • 315. sosidemom  |  May 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    One of the problems with using the standardized tests as a basis for teacher pay is that they are administered to students with significant disabilities, at their grade level, not their functional level. So a 6th grade student with an IQ of 58, who can read at a first grade level, is taking that test at a 6th grade level.. Does that really give us an idea of what that student learned that year? Not at all. It basically tells us that student can fill in a bubble sheet. Not all students with learning disabilities have the same profile. A student can have serious language processing issues, or can have serious difficulties with visual spatial processing. However, the numerous standardized tests being given really don’t allow teachers to focus in on those students particular needs as much as teachers would like to. A teacher can know that a student can’t perform 2 digit addition and subtraction with regrouping, but if what is coming up on the test is mixed fractions or geometric concepts, they are generally told by their principals to focus on those concepts, not the deficit areas. If a student doesn’t have a foundation, it’s very difficult to move forward. There are also students with extremely significant disabilities–severe/profound cognitive impairments, blindness, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders–sometimes all in one child. The progress some of these students make is at a snail’s pace. Progress does happen, but virtually no standardized test is going to show it. Is their special ed teacher not doing their job because they aren’t getting better overnight? No, that student has serious lifelong disabilities that preclude a lot of true academic progress. CPS also isn’t telling teachers what kind of pay they are thinking about offering in reward for these evaluations. Are they talking about a $100 gift card and a hearty handshake or are they talking about truly competitive pay? Who knows?

  • 316. lt246  |  May 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    My apologies if I’m overposting, but I just caught this new survey of principals and parents in NYC: Nearly 80% reported that test prep prevented their child from engaging in meaningful school activities, and much more…

  • 317. cps alum  |  May 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    @291 cpsobsessed– speaking of bell curves did you hear this report a few weeks ago on NPR. It seems most people are BELOW AVERAGE.

  • 318. HS Mom  |  May 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    @306 Kelly – thank you so much for your elaborate and thoughtful response.

    Having attended college in the 70’s, I always felt the door was wide open (due in large part to a movement before my time). I find it odd in a prior post to hear about women not being viewed as adequate in this time of women outnumbering men in college, stay at home dads and moms juggling family and a part-time career. Yes, things were different 40+ years ago. 6 out of 7 of my sons teachers are men so, yeah, I don’t think of women when I think teacher.

    Good points on salary and other education issues. Refreshing to hear some rhetoric about the possibilities instead of attacks against every proposal out there.

    Here’s where the tomato’s get turned in my direction. I have always held teachers to a higher level and have perceived them as the ultimate scholar having earned respect and distinction in their pursuits reaching down and pulling up as many kids as they can. I admire their work. Though one teacher was insulted to be compared to a “salesman” (not exactly what I said), there is an art to demonstrating, convincing and yes, selling ideas and knowledge effectively.
    If there is a perceived lack of “professionalism” it is brought on by teachers themselves. Equating time worked to $ per hour, resisting measurable evaluations, practicing blue collar union demand and strike tactics, insisting on blanket across the board raises, downgrading their own work by calling it “scripted”.

    For the record, I think teachers are professionals and should be compensated as such. 306 states “when people worry that their children’s teachers are overpaid, I understand that they are worried about an increase in property tax and other taxes”.

    I don’t think that any teacher should be overpaid, but I do think that some should be highly paid. If I felt that my taxes actually made a difference in the quality of education and reform of the financial woe’s we are now in, I would gladly pay more.

  • 319. Cpsteacher  |  May 15, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Held to a higher level, than what or whom, HS MOM?

    Teaching has taken on this godlike quest. We (teachers) need to be everything (nurse, cop, psychologist, minister, babysitter, etc) to everyone. Heavens forbid if we worry about our kids and families. Heavens forbid if we dare utter the words that we are concerned about taking our kids to soccer practice, or paying for our kid’s college, or being able to enjoy family time on the weekend— because that’s “not professional” and we should be doing it solely for the love of the children. Dare we suggest that doctors and nurses work for less money? because after all they should be doing it for the love of “saving lives”. Right? Oh no, we dare not! After all doctors and nurses are professionals, and we teachers?? Well….we are only professionals when the public wants us to be, any other time we should be public servants….with the emphasis on servant. Can’t have it both ways.

    The majority of the posts from parents and community members on this board seem to exhibit a distrust of teachers as professionals in general. When did teachers become the villains? Parents, are your children’s teachers this year unprofessional and doing a poor job? If so, what have YOU done about it? Did you speak to the principal? Call the area, actively seek to remove the teacher or your child from the room? No. Why not? Are they good enough to (watch, babysit) your children but not good enough at teaching? What is it? Are the teachers wonderful? If so, why not say it.

    Where are these bad teachers hiding? I want to know.

    Held to a higher level? Well treat us as such.

    Yes I selected this PROFESSION, yet I am treated as if my profession is not one. Happy belated teacher appreciation week to me!! Jeez. Should have listened to my mother who warned me away from teaching after she herself taught for 34 years. Should have been an accountant, then maybe I would be considered “a professional.”

  • 320. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    @319 Cpsteacher: From what I have read on this site, most parents think that the majority of their children’s teachers are doing a great job. How does advocating for a fair system of evaluating teachers say that we think they are all doing a poor job? I have not yet read any strong arguments for what teachers think IS a fair system of evaluating them. Surely there must be some way that teachers can be fairly evaluated and compensated.

    My daughter has had some fabulous CPS teachers, and some mediocre ones. I would like that fabulous ones to have the chance to earn more than the mediocre ones. And I would like to make it easier to principals to fire teachers who really are not doing a good job.

    I also do not think that CPS teachers are underpaid. Yes, it is a difficult job and I have all of the respect in the world for teachers. But I also have seen their salaries and they seem fair to me. Nobody thinks that you should do this job “for the love of children” and not be fairly compensated. And nobody thinks that you should not consider your own children and families.

    Honestly, I think that the unions really do the most damage to the reputation of teachers as professionals. When the unions stop treating teaching as a blue-collar hourly wage job and start collaborating to come up with fair ways to compensate teachers and reward the good teachers with financial incentives, the public will probably have a higher opinion of the union, and ultimately, the teachers.

  • 321. One dad's opinion  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    @cpsteacher- I too have noticed very little support for teachers. It seems as if teachers wanting a raise is somehow tied to not teaching for the “love of it”. Can’t you love teaching and still want or even expect a raise and want working conditions that are positive for you? I don’t see this at being independent of each other.

    BTW: thank you for the gentle reminder about teacher appreciation week. I wonder how many commenters said anything to their child’s teacher. I am ashamed to say that I didn’t. my son is in 7th grade and I can honestly say that I have only come across one of his teacher’s whom I thought was a poor teacher. And if I am honest the issue was more of a personality difference (but hey that’s life).

    Is the state of education in trouble? Of course, but to vilify teachers is wrong and to vilify them as money hungry, care nothing for kids,is HORRIBLY wrong and off track. Bad teaching does happen, but I believe there are many variables that play into the state of education today. By focusing only on teachers-we really miss the mark!
    A parent commented that teachers couldnt change the parents or kids they got so they pretty much had to deal. Why is this okay to say to a teacher? Do we not think that parents and students affect learning and growth as much as teachers, if not more than teachers? As a parent I DARN well better believe and pray that I do! I take my job as a dad seriously. I am a partner in my child’s education. I am as much responsible for his success and failure as a teacher.

    Thank you Mr. Dan for working with my ADHA son this year. NO test will ever show what you have done for him.

  • 322. Cpsteacher  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Edgewater mom, read the early posts. Some posters suggested that teachers don’t even deserve a real lunch break. After all they should enjoy spending 190 days next year eating their lunch next to 30 seven year olds!

    So yeah…people do assume that teaching is all about “love”.

  • 323. Cpsteacher  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Maybe when cps stop requiring teachers to punch in and out like hourly employees……….

  • 324. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    @321 It is definitely not too late to show some teacher appreciation! Send your son’s teacher a quick email saying what you said here – and copy in the principal!

    I do think that teaching is often a thankless job and I go out of my way to make sure that the great teachers that I come across know how much we appreciate them.

    I really hope that teachers do not think that if parents who want to allow student test scores to be included in an evaluation, or who do not think that teachers are underpaid, do not appreciate teachers or think that they are professionals. I wish that we could have rational, logical discussion of these issues without flinging emotional accusations (I am not saying that you made an emotional accusation, just that it these discussions often end up that way).

    I want to be supportive and appreciative of teachers, and still find a way to make the system work better and be able to reward good teachers.

  • 325. EdgewaterMom  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Are there any public school districts in the US that are doing a good job of fairly evaluating teachers? What do the teaching professionals suggest as a fair way of evaluating and compensating teachers? There must be a way that would seem fair to teachers, administration, and students.

  • 326. teachertwoAs  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    I don’t understand why this push for a difference in pay Edgewater mom. Maybe you can explain what you think it will or won’t do to teaching.

    By the way…I am looking to working in a SEHS next year. I thought my calling was the inner city but I guess not. Make sure you send me all your 98th percentile and higher kids. Also, I only want kids in tier 4, if forced I will take tier 3- definately not tier one or two. Also, two family homes with mom a stay at home gal or part time worker only. This will make me very happy next year. Oh, and have I mentioned no ELLs because research shows it takes seven years to learn academic language. And oh no on any child with any learning issues. No in my classroom! I graduated from NYU with a masters in education, I want the pick of the litter to pay my student loans.

    Did that seem offensive? It should be!!!!

    As a gen Ed teacher with special ed inclusion in englewood I know what matters at the end of the day. It can’t be measured on any NWEA test. It matters when my 7th grade drop out decides to return to finish 8th grade at 15. It matters when my 8th grade LD/ED kid tells me he wants to try and make it to high school. It matters when my difficult mom, after cursing me out all year and yelling in my face that I wasn’t teaching says thank you because her 13 can finally read a second grade reader. It matters when kids come hungry and we take an extra 5mins to finish breakfast in the classroom.

  • 327. Barb  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    @326 Nice wake up call. Too many variables.
    On that note, goodnight.

  • 328. cpsobsessed  |  May 16, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Higher pay for “better” performance (whatever that might be – in englewood that sounded like good results though hard to measure) provides and incentive for all teachers to excel.
    That is the way most modern professions work. If you’re good, you get bigger raises and/or promotions and that keep employees striving to do great stuff. Money is an incentive for most people.
    Earning more for being good at something is part of a having a profession.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 329. CPS Parent  |  May 16, 2012 at 7:45 am

    I’m not sure if teaching is comparable to other professions in that the aspiration for “promotion” is very much missing at least in CPS.

    Teachers do not aspire to become AP’s or Principals since it is a 12 month job with longer hours and despite the over 100k salaries. This is why there is such a shortage of candidates from within CPS and has been the case for many years.

  • 330. cpsobsessed  |  May 16, 2012 at 7:46 am

    I have to concur that it’s the union that is giving teachers the bad rap these days, rightly or wrongly. Teaching, unlike other professions, hammers out the details of work in the public eye lately and the power of collective bargaining allows the unions to ask for things and get into detail that other people (ie accountant) decide on their own.
    The union says no to almost everything (again rightly or wrongly) and it looks antagonistic. The appearance of not wanting to discuss changes in healthcare or pensions that virtually all other americans have lost ground on doesn’t help.
    These are all labor issues that have nothing to do with our experiences with indiv teachers but I don’t think it’s any secret that the vocal union voice has fostered some negative sentiment.

    The chapter in my book just talked about the making of Waiting for Superman and how randi wiengarten was perfects as “the villain.”. Not many labor leaders get to be a movie villain.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 331. cpsobsessed  |  May 16, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Right, unfortunately it’s not a promtion based position — which is why it seems like pay should play a role as an incentive to do well.
    It’s hard to work 30some years with no recognition for a job well done.

    But why not have “senior teachers” or something who are designated to help mentor newer teachers (of course not on their own time.).

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 332. CPS Parent  |  May 16, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I know this is going to sound Maslow’ian but more $$$ without ‘”promotion” might not incentivise teachers at least not enough to justify the discord/envy that will arise to some degree.

    Maybe the solution is some sort of hybrid approach; a minimal performance bonus and a much improved – more rigid – “step and lane” type of system.

    In Europe unionism has morphed into a reasonably sophisticated partnership (especially in white collar professions) with employers and there are probably models to look at and emulate.

  • 333. anonymous  |  May 16, 2012 at 8:38 am

    cps-o I am hoping that you would want to balance your current views by reading a very different point of view — which is also logically argued.

    Let’s start that book club and let’s read The Death and Life of the Great American School System.

    The second selection could be Brill’s book, if you like.

    Let’s set a date.

  • 334. anonymous  |  May 16, 2012 at 8:41 am

    The Trib’s poll finds voters and parents are on the side of Teachers, and not the mayor, when it comes to ed reform.,0,2720198.graphic

  • 335. CPS Parent  |  May 16, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Regarding question 2: it doesn’t specify how much more, so the response is of little value.

  • 336. lt246  |  May 16, 2012 at 8:56 am

    CPSO-all the research on merit pay shows it doesn’t work. I know it seems like it should, but the fact is that teachers don’t work “harder” when there are financial incentives. Maybe if you work on commission in a clothing store you hustle more for more sales. But is that how we want teachers to act? Hustling to get the easiest students whose scores you can raise the most? Check out the reasearch in TN and DC, I think it’s pretty convincing.

    Also, note the point in the article above–teachers of the highest-performing students rate at the very bottom because their kids already rank at the top and there’s no value you can add. I assume given the enthusiasm for the SE system among readers here that would be cause for concern.

  • 337. junior  |  May 16, 2012 at 9:14 am

    @336 lt246

    I agree that the chance for higher pay does not offer a lot of incentives for better/harder work. I’ve seen the studies your reference.

    However, I think most people miss the real point about how merit-based pay could improve the system. If you pay more to better teachers, they are more likely to stay in the system. It is maybe an effective recruitment/retention strategy — not an incentive-to-work-harder strategy — and I think it would need many years to evaluate how effective it is. (Haven’t we had teachers themselves on this board arguing that teachers should be paid more to attract better candidates?).

    Right now we have a system that rewards all teachers the same. Both good and bad teachers enter the system and they both have similar incentives to stay in the system — in fact, better teachers probably have more options for leaving the system, and we don’t have the flexibility to offer them any additional bonuses to remain. The better ones probably have more job options out there, and might therefore leave the system at a higher rate. As for the bad ones, we know how hard it is to get them to leave.

    I haven’t seen a performance evaluation system that is without flaw. But I think one that includes several different measures (yes, including yearly student test progress) will definitely distinguish the good from bad. If a teacher scores well across the board on several measures, then that teacher should be rewarded.

  • 338. anonymous  |  May 16, 2012 at 9:16 am

    335 — I don’t know how the poll was conducted; that may be faulty reporting by the Trib. But the conclusion holds — the public’s mood has changed, according to the poll.

    336 — High-performing children “top-out” on these tests. The test can’t provide much benefit to them. Then there are the obvious limits of these tests for ranking children with learning issues.

    The value that teachers provide is in offering a well-rounded, rigorous curriculum. But the pressure to show “value-added” means the curriculum is abandoned for test prep.

    The exact opposite of what most parents want.

  • 339. HS Mom  |  May 16, 2012 at 9:26 am

    @319 teacher – I was responding to Kelly who experienced seeing some teaching majors as unable to pursue tougher curriculum. I mentioned that I held teachers to a higher standard. In fact, I view them as the ultimate scholar – and I said that. I am sorry that my intended compliment was not taken as such.

    You and others are twisting my words to mean that teachers should have some divine calling to the exclusion of their families.

    I never said or implied that teachers do not deserve raises. I personally view teachers as professionals but feel that this image suffers because of reasons stated. I also feel that although many parents and others may criticize issues in education, they are not vilifying teachers. Isn’t that one of the things teachers teach? Criticism should not be taken personally but as an alternative view or learning opportunity.

  • 340. sandersrockets  |  May 16, 2012 at 9:28 am

    @335 – Here’s “how much more”,0,2720198.graphic

  • 341. mom2  |  May 16, 2012 at 9:58 am

    @340 – “how much more” should they be paid – not how many feel that way. There is a big difference between the continuous pay increases they have been getting (while other professions have gotten nothing), plus 4 percent vs. 1 or 2 percent and no step increases vs. all other kinds of options.

    I’m sure if someone asked pretty much anyone if they thought worker X should be paid more if they work more, the answer would be yes. It isn’t a very good question if you really want to learn where people stand.

    If they asked if you would rather give teachers 4 percent more for working the longer day next year OR pay for art, music and PE and provide aids in classrooms and pay for needed school supplies and books, how do you think people would answer?

  • 342. anonymous  |  May 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Testing drives ed reform, and it is big business.

  • 343. bucktownmomof2  |  May 16, 2012 at 10:53 am

    @341 – I think @340 meant how much additional time. I would like the school day to be longer, but I’d be happy with 6 1/2 hours.

  • 344. anonymous  |  May 16, 2012 at 10:54 am

    From the article linked above @342:

    “There’s no reason on earth for common core standards and these tests that we’re wasting billions of dollars on,” said Stephen Krashen, an emeritus education professor at the University of Southern California. “The problem is poverty, poverty, poverty. Middle-class children who go to well-funded schools do very well, but even the best tests, the most inspiring teachers, won’t mean anything if the kids don’t have enough to eat.”

  • 345. mom2  |  May 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

    That’s the problem with polls. They are so vague you can make them say anything you wish. No one really learns anything, but everyone can use them as proof that “the majority” agree with them on something.

  • 346. lt246  |  May 16, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I think @345 is completely right. Ravitch says it this way, which I find very powerful–if you take all the kids in the US in schools with 10% or less poverty, that group outscores every country in the world on the PISA test (the international one they are always going on about). Which means our low poverty schools are doing more than fine.

    Tackling “bad teachers” as the biggest obstacle to improving education is a total distraction away from the real problem they refuse to solve by decently funding schools and massively investing in antipoverty programs.

  • 347. IB obsessed formerly Gawker  |  May 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

    @345 and 346 That data is something to remember for all of we middle to upper class folks who think our kids are “gifted” bcs. they have high test scores based on national norms. 🙂

  • 348. anonymous  |  May 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    347 — that’s why some educators call it the “opportunity” gap and not the “achievement” gap.

  • 349. CLB  |  May 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm


    The quality of a teacher need not be reflected in his or her students’ one-time test scores. Some students might not care about the test, might not study well, or might have family or neighborhood problems that distract them from studies.

    However, we can observe a teacher to evaluate their teaching. This is the method cited @240 that CPS tried. The problem is that it is time-consuming. Teachers liked it, observer agreement was high, but principals believed it was exhausting. It could not be done without hiring independent observers, which raises the cost of the evaluation.

    Actually, college selectivity (higher average SAT levels) does not predict higher income (Dale & Kreuger, 2002, 2011) with proper controls. The gains from intelligence are real but modest given the ranges, a person scoring in the top 2% earns between 6,000 and 18,500 (the confidence interval) more per year than a person with “normal” intelligence. Put differently, if I was in the 90th percentile and another person was in the 95th percentile for intelligence, our annual earnings would not differ by much. Sure, someone in the 20th percentile would probably earn much less, but that means that we can only really study extremes.

  • 350. OutsideLookingIn  |  May 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I think student achievement is a team effort between student, parent and teacher. Test results, poor or strong, seem hard to pin on the teacher alone. Bad test scores don’t always mean a teacher is bad, just as good test sores don’t always demonstrate a teacher is good.

    Classroom observations seem to be much more robust way to evaluate a teacher’s direct influence. Inspiration, engagement, encouragement…the impact doesn’t always show up in a single test score, but you can see it in the classroom.

  • 351. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I heard Rahm was pretty upset that poll came out the day his oped was published. It shows that he doesnt know Chicago or constituents. Parents want a FUNDED longer day w/ancillary subjects, not more time added to core classes. I would love to have the IL avg of 6.5. I think 24 CPS schools are 6.5 and they outscore 5.75 traditional schools and the longest -school -days- ever-Charters on testing!

  • 352. anonymous  |  May 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I think most teachers need more time for core classes and most parents would agree with that.

    Most CPS students are grade levels behind in all subjects and frittering away time on art and music, foreign languages, etc. isn’t going to rectify that at all.

  • 353. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Kids need to be well rounded and most research data, it’s been proven that they respond to ancillary subjects. Research by 3D Group shows data that six CPS schools used Reading In Motion for 550 students~ 92% of them reading at grade level in gr K.

    For educating the whole child, pe, art, music is needed…when it’s all core, kids lose focus…other things help. Many teachers have said kids need these classes, studies show wealthy schools where kids do well have these classes, poor schools do not.

  • 354. Mom23  |  May 17, 2012 at 11:07 am

    HS Mom. Right on! Agree with your posts and I understood where you were giving a compliment. It is unfortunate things turn so emotional. Thanks for remaining rational.

    CPSO – agree. IMO it is completely the union that is fostering the feeling of disrespect among teachers. The union strategy is not any secret, it is very simple, “say no to everything.” They perpetuate the hourly factory worker mantra when teaching is a profession. Until the union changes, teachers will continue to bear the brunt of the union mismanagement of their membership. Teachers, it is your fight to change this as due paying members. I think teaching should be compared to doctors, lawyers and nurses. But, you don’t see these professions squabbling about hourly rates. They have the AMA and bar associations raising the respect and fostering professionalisim. The CTU is NOTHING close to the caliber of an AMA. It is more like a factory workers union who push for how many widgets someone can secure in an hour. That works very well for bad teachers and is a disaster for good teachers.

    In my mind, putting a good teacher in a factory mentality is awful and they need to be freed from this burden. Then again, when I think of the truly bad teachers, this is perfect for them. Protected, tenure, no measurements, the kids can’t do anything–nor can the parents–nor can the principal. For the lousy teacher, the CTU has done a fabulous job. For the great teacher, the CTU has given them the feeling that they are disrespected. This is the root of the problem.

  • 355. Mom23  |  May 17, 2012 at 11:20 am

    @352 Agree!

  • 356. kate  |  May 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    354 – agreed !!
    The CTU also used the “babysitting” reference…. another example of how they perpetuate a vision that conflicts with the talents of their constituents.

  • 357. mom2  |  May 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    @354 – agree!

  • 358. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Well a longer UNFUNDED day is babysitting and also the UNFUNDED 7.5 hr HS day is a crime fix.

  • 359. HS Mom  |  May 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks Mom23 and @320 Edgewater Mom for the comments and for expanding. I’m glad you get it.

    @323 cpsteacher – totally agree about the time clock.

  • 360. WendyK  |  May 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    @352 Frittering – There are so many studies that show that arts improve learning of core subjects. Google it and you will find a ton of research that shows that kids who are exposed to music and other arts do better in math and reading.

  • 361. junior  |  May 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Wendy — I have heard anecdotally about music instruction improving math abilities — do you know of any studies on that? I’m a little skeptical about the study you cite about music improving vocabulary/verbal abilities — note that before the study began, kids had two years of music, but those two years of music did not result in their outpacing their peers in verbal areas. One has to ask why does the change only occur under experimental conditions — is it just a case of experimenter bias?

    I think you might be more likely to see a music benefit for math abilities, since music is about harmonic relationships — does anyone know any studies on that?

    Also, I’m not sure we can generalize to other art approaches. I’m not sure for example that visual arts would help improve verbal or math abilities. These folks found that arts do not improve core subject achievement:

    In terms of ancillary subjects that help students with core subject areas, I would put PE at the top of the list. The evidence there is more compelling, but I’m open to seeing other evidence.

  • 362. anonymous  |  May 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Wendy, I would love to see a robust array of arts taught at all grade levels (whether research proves secondary benefits is not a concern of mine – instilling a lifelong interest in a few is enough to justify it) but let me quote from a teacher’s comment @326:

    “It matters when my difficult mom, after cursing me out all year and yelling in my face that I wasn’t teaching says thank you because her 13 can finally read a second grade reader”.

    In order for that 13 year old to further catch up and read perhaps at the 6th or 7th grade level by the time he/she turns 16 and leaves school, teachers will need EVERY SECOND of the new shorter longer day to re-mediate. I’m sure the student’s math skills are also grade levels behind.

    The new shorter longer day will allow for the opportunity for remediation for the tens of thousands of CPS students that need it. The only funding that is needed is a fair, and affordable increase in compensation for teachers which I would deem to be 2%-4% per year for the term of the contract.

  • 363. Chris  |  May 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    “7.5 hr HS day”

    How long are your kid’s WY classmates in school this year?

  • 364. Chris  |  May 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    ” anonymous | May 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm”

    Is this the same “anonymous” who argues with Angie? If so, is someone blackmailing you?

  • 365. anonymous  |  May 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    No this is “frittering” anonymous

    Next time I’ll use “fritterer”

  • 366. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 17, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    #361~Jr~Cps has 6 schools (over 550 students) right now using REading in Motion that have 92% reading w/music as opposed to 63%. Cps thinks It’s a great program

  • 367. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    #363~Chris, I think this was addressed for me~some are 6.5hr and some are 7.5…they are either in Honors or AP classes

  • 368. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    #363~but I was speaking abt next yr when all hs have to be 7.5 as a crime fix since rahm can’t get crime under control and closing schools and making kids cross gang lines.

  • 369. Read before speaking  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    The union only used the word babysitting AFTER our wonderful mayor talked about how the extra hours would keep kids off the street and safe. The CTU argued rightly that that is not teachers’ job or responsibility.

  • 370. WendyK  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    @360 – There has been so much research on music/math. I need to start compiling a list for art, music, PE, language on the RYH website – happens to be on my long to-do-list. I only have a pdf so can’t share here but you should look up the report “Changing Worlds: Unlocking Pathways to Learning” and “Champions of Change, the Impact of the Arts on Learning,” from Dept of Ed. I just threw out one random study but I have come across so many in the last couple of years, even though as a parent I really don’t need to see a study to tell me my son needs PE, recess, music and a variety of coursework to thrive. I get the short-term dilemma of catching kids up to grade level vs a long-term approach of changing the curriculum from Pre-K. I think we can work on both. Here are some other studies you can look up:

    Burton, J.M., Horowitz, R., & Abeles, H. (2000). Learning in and through the arts: The question of transfer. Studies in Art Education, 41 (3), 228-257.

    Catterall, (1998). Does experience in the arts boost academic achievement? Art Education, 51 (3), 6-11.

    Rauscher, F.H., et. al., Key components of the Mozart effect. Perceptual and Motor Skills v. 86 no. 3 (June 1998 pt1) p. 835

    Upitis, R. & Smithrim, K. (2001). Learning Through the Arts, National assessment, a report on year 1. Kingston, ON: unpublished manuscript, available from Queens’ University and the Royal Conservatory of Music.

  • 371. Read before speaking  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm


    How exactly is the union fostering disrespect? By demanding a fair working environment for the members? FYI folks, the union is doing exactly what unions are supposed to do. Why is this so offensive to you? Who doesn’t want a raise? It is disingenuous for ANYONE to claim that if given the chance they would not want and demand a raise for working longer hours and harder? Do people in the private sector get the raise, of course not! But to suggest that teachers should not even try for a raise is ridiculous. That is what every job is about. You ask for a raise, sometimes you get it some times not. But to be vilified for asking?? Come on people…that ridiculous.

  • 372. Gayfair Dad  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    @370 (WendyK): in addition to this, studies show brains that have been studying music stay more vibrant in older age: ie, staves off Anheiser’s Disease.

    Check this out folks:

  • 373. cpsobsessed  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I think the problem is that no other “professional” use collective bargaining to demand yearly raises for showing up everyday with almost no accountability for performance other than being there.

    I know that comes out sounding harsh and I truly don’t mean it in a nasty tone. I’m just trying to state the “facts” of how I *think* many private sector works views union workers in today’s era.

    It’s not the way the rest of the country is working. I know there are valid reasons for protection (namely the state is broke and want teachers to pitch in “for the sake of kids” which I agree – isn’t fair.) But the union comes across as fighting for every element of the work day, while other people just seem to work it out with their employers, or they seek new work.
    Again, not a critique per se, and I think govt as an employer makes it very difficult in these time.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 374. Confused mom  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I am new to this page, but it does seem that most comments are one sided and come from a very naive/privileged point of view. I too don’t understand how a union negotiation came to equal bad teachers being protected?? Maybe someone can verbalize what I am missing.

    How does a raise equal bad teachers being protected? Is the assumption being made that teachers shouldnt make as much as some of the highest paid professionals? If so, why not?
    How exactly is a contract negotiation unprofessional? Do you know the purpose of a negotiation?

    Is the underlying issue (unstated) we don’t want our teachers to make as much money as the parents of the kids on this blog? It seems like it from the Comments. Do you think the teachers will think they are “as good as the rest of us. Equal in nature to lawyers, doctors, businesswomen.” I would love a NONDEFENSIVE reflective response. Cause this is how it comes off to someone who just happened on this page.

  • 375. Outraged teacher  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Wow , CPS OBSESSED! You really showed your hand! Almost no accountability? How blatantly false. Not sure where you are getting your info. Tenured or not, EVERY teacher is subject to evaluations and discipline. If a principal starts a termination process the teacher can be gone in 3months. True it is not instantly but to imply that teachers can go unchecked without accountability is blantly false and misleading. If the principal does not start the termination process, how again is this the union’s fault? Last time I checked the bosses (principals, network chiefs) are CPS hired, non union employees….the bosses. Do the union step in to try to protect the teacher of course. But to claim there is virtually no accountability is false.

  • 376. cpsobsessed  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Outraged Teacher – you are fully correct about the principal accountability aspect. I don’t disagree with that at all. It *appears* to be very very difficult to get rid of teachers in the system. I’ve heard several principals make mention of it ncs the system is fairly intensive (or there is some kind of barrier.). But yeah, I think it would be heralded if principals took the time to “weed out” teachers who are blatantly phoning it in.
    It doesn’t seem to happen often. I’m not sure why. Do you?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 377. cpsobsessed  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    And ultimately, LSCs should be calling the principals on this as well. There really *should* be more accountabiity at the school level. Higher standards. Why do we seem afraid to demand more out of our schools?

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  • 378. Hazel  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    @374 I agree
    It does seem like people don’t understand the role of unions and collective bargaining. It may very well be an elite mentality to defame unions. After all, traditionally unions protect the rights of the working class. I am reminded of why unions were created and why unions still exists. I don’t think protecting the rights of employees make the CTU unprofessional. Demanding a raise is not unprofessional. How many of us ask our boss for a raise? This doesn’t make us unprofessional. How many of us give ultimatums as well….

    I too don’t know how or when but middle to upper class parents tend to be more anti CTU, while working class and poor families tend to be for the teachers and are not having these attacks against the union. Def…something to ponder why?

  • 379. cpsobsessed  |  May 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    @hazel, it think the diff is because unions demand the same raise for everyone no matter whether they show up and make no effort or bust their butts all day, everday. It’s counter to the private sector mentality of good work equals higher pay. So it appears to protect anyone who wants to slack off.
    It’s a totally different mentality, I think.

    But certainly some people make the leap to “well then all teachers are greedy and lazy” which certainly isn’t true.

    Good question about the working class supporting unions. I worked hourly jobs for many years and never felt the need to fight for anything. But I’ve never worked a job like that as an adult, for a living. I imagine that is a different mindset. What do you think drives the difference?

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  • 380. CLB  |  May 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    At Mayer there were at least two teachers who either were dismissed or in effect asked to leave last year beyond ones who moved or retired. Teachers are weeded and some “weed” themselves, but neither the weeded teacher nor the principal broadcasts it. What’s the upside? Even teachers who many considered poor have their backers among parents and faculty.

  • 381. liza  |  May 17, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    I have to go along with outraged teacher on this one. Who gets hired and terminated is in the hands of the principal. If the principal is doing his or her job, there shouldn’t be a problem. But, I think most people will agree – there is a real problem. I have seen excellent teachers run out of a school because they dared to ask questions or confront the principal or area/network people on issues and mandates. I have also witnessed not so great teachers being rewarded with little perks (new equipment, new textbooks, leadership positions, etc.) because they played the game better and were great suck-ups. Getting rid of a teacher is a tedious process, but that doesn’t excuse an administrator’s laziness and lack of principles to simply not do it. The role of the Union in the process is simply to make sure that due process has been followed and that the reason for termination is valid and documented. It may take 90 days, but again, it is no excuse for an administrator not to start and follow through on the process. It’s not the fault of the union that principals are not doing their job. If you have a concern about a teacher’s performance and the principal gives you that whole song and dance about tenure, don’t buy it. It comes down to the principal performing one part of the job they were hired to do.

    And the whole “bad” teacher thing, I often wonder if parents sometimes misjudge the efficacy of a teacher simply because they don’t necessarily agree with the teaching philosophy/style or classroom management techniques. cpsobsessed, you yourself once mentioned what a difficult time you were having with your son and getting him to work on homework. Invite 29 or so of his classmates, and not just the well behaved ones, over for homework time. I really wonder sometimes do people really think that managing 30 or so kids, trying to keep them engaged in actively learning and participating in class is a cakewalk? I always get a laugh when I see a parent at the grocery store or some other public place who has a hard time managing their own children. The best was when I was shopping for the school supplies on sale during the summer months and I heard a mother pretty much screeching at her two lovely children she couldn’t wait until school started so they could be someone else’s problem. I mean, really, if she can’t get them to listen and behave, what chance do I have Hmmm . . .
    maybe teachers should get a whack at evaluating parents 🙂

  • 382. CLB  |  May 17, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Is there a school out there whose LSC has approved a budget and can say what it is? Is it lower than FY12? Have teacher lines been cut? By how many positions?

  • 383. junior  |  May 18, 2012 at 12:44 am

    @370 WendyK

    I do support a broad curriculum that includes music/arts/recess/PE. However, I did look at your sources, and personally, I’d have to say that the jury is still out on the question of whether art education has a positive impact on achievement in other core subjects.

    In terms of curriculum changes, I would also argue that we need to make science education at least as prominent as reading and math are.

  • 384. WendyK  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:48 am

    @383 – you read them all? There was so much research cited in both the reports I mentioned. The Catterall study followed 25,000 students and found a positive impact on student learning via arts integration in the curriculum, the National Educational Longitudinal study followed a group of students for 10 years and found the same with the biggest impact being on low-income studets. I really don’t think the jury will be out if you do some more research. I know you mentioned you’ve heard anectdotal evidence but there’s plenty of research if you take the time to look it up. There are over 200 studies that show PE improves learning, as well.

  • 385. WendyK  |  May 18, 2012 at 2:05 am

    @Junior – here are a few more studies if you want to look them up.

    Recent brain research (Flohr et al, 1996) shows that music training changes and improves brain functioning related to listening. An experimental study with children ages 4 to 6 provided music training for 25 minutes for 7 weeks, and then measured brain activity. Those children who had received musical training produced EEG
    frequencies associated with increased cognitive processing and greater relaxation.

    A study of ninety 6- to 15-year-old boys • found that those with music training had significantly better verbal learning and retention abilities. The longer the duration of the music training, the better the
    verbal memory (Ho, Cheung, & Chan, 2003). A follow-up study concluded that the effect was causal.

    A meta-analysis of 25 correlational • studies, some involving sample sizes of over 500,000 students,found a “strong and reliable association” between music instruction and scores on tests of reading
    comprehension (Butzlaff, 2000) • A study of 4,739 elementary and middle school students in four regions of the United States revealed
    a strong relationship between elementary (third- or fourth-grade) students’ academic achievement as measured by test scores and their participation in high-quality music programs (Johnson & Memmott,2006).

  • 386. anniesullivan  |  May 18, 2012 at 6:01 am

    We lost a special education position-do to know how as our numbers are increasing…there will be chaos in September in our inclusion programs as the self-contained programs will be staffed first….

  • 387. Ok  |  May 18, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Strangely quiet on the class issue that Hazel mentioned…..hmmmmm

  • 388. cpsobsessed  |  May 18, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Class issue: I (personally) assume the working class people feel they have to fight for money, benefits, etc.
    Professionals can (mostly) take it for granted that they’ll get more $ is they perform well and show enthusiasm on the job. Assume they won’t be royally screwed over by the people they work for, while working class people feel like mgmt is trying to squeeze all they can out of them.

    I believe the squeezing part is true. How I sense that Professional worklife parents evision teaching more like a profession (so they assume it’ll work out) while working class parents are envisioning it as widgets — which perpetuates the whole union issue.
    I don’t want college educated, teachers in the same bucket as factory workers.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 389. frittering  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:27 am

    @387 – Chicago school parent activists who have a web presence, here and elsewhere, are 99% limousine liberals (the “8.8 percenters” is how I think of them as well – look up the ethnic make-up of the CPS student population). Mixed into those same blogs/groups are the non charter school teachers who are CTU members. It is a uncomfortable mix with overlapping SELF interests (although all are “for the children”) but with 99% vs.1% tensions close under the surface.

    The voices entirely missing from these conversations are the other 92.2% of parents from CPS neighborhood and charter schools and charter school teachers.

    This is not necessarily a bad thing but keep it mind when reading these posts. They are not representative of the CPS community as a whole.

  • 390. frittering  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:31 am

    correction: 91.2%

  • 391. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has, Margaret Meade said.

    Many of the problems in CPS — like an unfunded extended school day — that are posted here affect all students.

  • 392. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:44 am

    388 — have to say that I’m not sure you’ve got firsthand insight into working class parents’ views; as they don’t ring true to me, who does.

  • 393. Questioner  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Our school budget looks pretty good for next year–enough to fund “needs.”. “Wants” will have to come from fundraising.

  • 394. Peter  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Anyone who thinks the current CPS school day length is fine, is truly a fool.

  • 395. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Interesting post on the pressures facing working families.

    Your Chicago Newstips by Curtis Black

    Austerity in Chicago
    Posted: 17 May 2012 04:19 PM PDT

    “As European voters increasingly reject the austerity program, community leaders here are proposing alternatives to Mayor Emanuel’s agenda of spending cuts and privatization– an approach they say hurts working families and stifles economic recovery.
    “We are saying there are ways of looking at budget- and policy-making other than just cut, cut, cut,” said Michael Bennett, a sociology professor at DePaul University, one of the coordinators of a group of local activists and scholars meeting this weekend to develop a local public policy agenda “that gives priority to social justice, balanced community development, and responsible fiscal management.”
    The Chicago Equity and Fiscal Policy Initiative will release working papers on the city budget, schools, community and the environment, and economic development and jobs, at a gathering with the theme Act Locally Chicago this Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Erie Neighborhood House, 1347 W. Erie.
    “We have to focus just as much on neighborhoods as we do on downtown,” Bennett said. “It has not been balanced.”
    The working papers and policy recommendations are aimed at starting a conversation, he said. One of their goals is to maintain public services that are threatened by privatization.

    Read more on his site.

  • 396. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Peter, your gentlemanly ways will no doubt gain you many who support your in-depth analysis of education issues.

  • 397. HS Mom  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Wendy – I think most people would agree that they would not want their child’s education void of art, music and PE. In adding time to the schedule, I would think that more time spent directly on math, reading, writing, social studies and science would be more beneficial than adding to the arts. I have not read the studies so please feel free to correct me. This of course assumes that there is some sort of arts program already in place. Now before someone comes back about some school in Englewood where kids work on filling in bubbles all day in an unheated, no air-conditioning, roof leaking on their heads unable to go outside – I say yes, give them an arts program.

    @383 Junior – agree completely, having a child in SEHS I see a real deficiency in the science education from one of the top scoring elementary schools. Great school, just not enough time to be great in everything. Also, social studies is often a back-burner subject in the lower grades but a great opportunity for writing.

    @365 anonymous – finally found an anonymous I can talk to…thanks

    @388 – CPSO – sounds about right to me.

  • 398. Mom23  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:58 am

    In my post @354 I never said anything about not being able to ask for a raise. I was talking about the factory worker mindset the CTU promotes for teachers and that is a mismatch in my mind. Teachers are professionals and the way the ctu has treated this over the years has clearly degraded the profession. This is where I believe the feelings of disrespect come from. A good teacher simply should not be subject to being treated like a factory worker and the way the CTU manages and negotiates is treating teachers like factory workers. Honestly, it makes me really angry that the good teachers I know have to punch a clock. The bad teachers are set for life. Good teachers need to fight to change this, otherwise it will continue.

    Yes, I completely agree that principals play a key role in firing bad teachers, but the union also is responsible for making this process nearly impossible and the bad teachers know how to play the rules to keep themselves employed. It is by no means 90 days, it is many years and these teachers are still in the classroom screwing up another classroom full of students while the paperwork and hoops are jumped through. There was a great article with a flowhchart of how long it takes—-and it was years! Maybe you want to put yourself in the shoes of trying to get rid of someone like this. I have been in that position (not in teaching) and you are kidding yourself if you think it is just “following due process”.

    With evaluations, it is statistically impossible to have 98% of a 28k workforce rated satisfactory or above. I may be off a bit on the percentage, but the current evaluations are a joke. Some schools may use them effectively, but that is not the case across cps. I don’t understand why we are so afraid to get a fair evaluation system in place. In the private sector, you are rated and promotions/bonus come accordingly. It is a very clear message is you are below performance or even status quo and they want to push you out. Or you are status quo and they are fine with you staying. We are all grown ups, can’t we handle an evaluation system? If there are bad principals, get rid of them too.

  • 399. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Education Week and WBEZ’s Linda Lutton have written about the emergence of extraordinarily well-funded advocacy groups and PACs who push various education policies that further privatize the public schools. Groups like Stand for Children, for example, work hard to get their message across to parents – perhaps even to parents on blogs like this one?

    An altered landscape
    A new generation of education advocacy groups has emerged to play a formidable political role across the country, writes Stephen Sawchuck in Education Week.

    These groups are shaping policy through aggressive lobbying and campaign activity — an evolution primed to continue into the 2012 elections and beyond.

    With names meant to signal their intentions — Stand for Children, Democrats for Education Reform, StudentsFirst — they are pushing for rigorous teacher evaluations, increased access to high-quality charter schools, and higher academic standards for schools and students.

    Their electoral success is mixed, but their overall influence is growing and has altered education policy, particularly at the state level. These groups operate as 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations under the federal tax code, limited by law to educational activities, but have also established 501(c)4s , which can engage in lobbying and limited partisan politics, and state-based political organizations focusing on elections and campaigns.

    Contributions to the groups’ political wings show a lineup mainly concentrated in the financial sector, though funding is harder to trace. Debates about motives are likely to persist, but this much is clear: With the rise of the newer wave of education advocacy groups, the K-12 field is crowded with more powerful players than ever before.
    Read more:

  • 400. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 9:02 am

    So why do hedge fund managers like the ed market so much?

  • 401. WendyK  |  May 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

    @397 – in working with a coalition of 16 parent and community groups from every corner of the city I have found that there are quite a lot of schools who have no music, no art, almost no PE, etc. We are not pushing for schools that have a robust arts program to have more arts, we are pushing for all schools to have some basic standards, and because at RYH we have members from over 400 schools and we collaborate with a lot of community groups in low-income areas, not to mention the Assistant Director of our Board is from Austin, we are finding all parents pretty much want these things.

    That’ s not to say some schools shouldn’t have more time on core subjects, including science and social studies. We are all for each school working to meet the needs of their individual populations! It’s not an either/or approach. We are saying those schools that have no music, have no art, have kids with no PE or 1x aweek PE, need these things.

    When we developed our goals for a quality day it was with community groups from across the city. We surveyed everyone together in a room – arts and PE were at the top of the list.

  • 402. WendyK  |  May 18, 2012 at 9:28 am

    @ frittering – I agree with you. It’s true that most people who have time and access to post comments on here all day are probably not the 91% but that also doesn’t make them limousine liberals. Everyone is always trying to use class/race as a wedge in Chicago. Sit in a room or at a forum with parents from all over the city and you will find that people generally want the same things.

    Where do you get your stats on 99% limo liberals for school activists with a web presence? If that’s a person who can’t even touch their credit card debt because they have been working for free for 2 years, then I’m in.

  • 403. cpsobsessed  |  May 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Wendy – do those schools not have art/gym etc because of low enrollment?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 404. cpsobsessed  |  May 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I’d also love to get a hard core reformer on here as well. We get to fire questions at the teachers here (who so graciously continue to answer and share their opinions – thank you!)
    I’d love to be able to do the same with people who could explain their opinions on no-holds-barred reform.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 405. actively listening  |  May 18, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I have found on here a lot of discussion about teaching and teachers and unions. Whether or not teachers are thought of as professionals is an ongoing battle. Unfortunately IN THIS NATION (it isn’t just limited to CPS) our teachers, who are professionals [most with Masters degrees or higher in their craft – more than the politicians who create the laws to fight them] are questioned about their knowledge, ability, and expertise in areas that they know more than most of their counterparts because it affects our children. Because our nation does not fight for teachers, hasn’t fought for teachers like other professionals the unions became necessary. Whether we like it or not this is our NATIONAL issue. Until our nations priority becomes our children – that means investing in our schools, our teachers, our children – a lot of the debate we are having on this blog remains just that, debate. We are smart educated parents, teachers, etc, who at the heart of it all believe the same thing – we want what is best for our schools and our children not only MY CHILD but my NEIGHBORS CHILD because in our neighborhoods we do believe that it is everybody’s job to help. I agree that it only takes a few to stand up and DO to actually make a difference. But debate alone doesn’t do enough. When our nation a spends more on children and education than prisoners…. Until then…. I continue to worry about the face of our schools.

  • 406. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 18, 2012 at 10:04 am

    #405~I worry about the face of our schools too~not just my kids’ schools, but every child’s school. I want every CPS kids to get what he/she deserves~a great education~2bcome a well rounded, community involved citizen.

    #Every1~I hope you would take the time and go to your LSC meeting b4 debating ~ so you could really understand what your school’s budget is and what your school stands to lose.

  • 407. frittering  |  May 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

    I would suggest that the only hardcore education reformers actually making the extremely difficult decisions (and not just talking about it) in Chicago are Rahm Emanuel, J.C. Brizard, and David Vitale.

    Ok, haters, start hating…

  • 408. cpsobsessed  |  May 18, 2012 at 10:11 am

    @Frittering, not sure what you mean. Those 3 are the only ones actually trying to make progress? (Progress as defined by reformers)

  • 409. frittering  |  May 18, 2012 at 10:38 am

    @408 If there ever was, I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as a prototypical education “reformer” now. I’m sure the school-voucher-abandon-all-public-schools folks consider themselves reformers. The anti charter school activists think they are too.

    The only thing, I suppose we could say, that all the reformers agree on is that the status quo is unacceptable

    In the meantime, the people who have the responsibility to do something have to do something.

    Therefore, my choice, as stated.

  • 410. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Well, here’s the answer.

    Wall St. likens the education market to the health care market in the 1980s when HMOs were created.

    It is an enormous opportunity to squeeze school districts and funnel tax dollars into profit-making companies.

    Testing drives the switch to a brand new common core curriculum in reading and math that 45 states have signed on to. Arne Duncan made the states an offer they couldn’t refuse; he wouldn’t let them have any Race to the Top dollars otherwise. Also testing decides how many teachers are to be fired.

    Wonder if testing will apply to charter school teachers, or to Teach for America teachers?

    Wall Street says the ed market is worth $500 billion market in the US, with annual growth rates of 30%.

  • 411. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 10:44 am

    From the Raise Your Hand blog on the 60 new charters the mayor wants to push in Chicago.

    “It is unclear why we are opening 60 new charter schools, anyway. Did CPS and the mayor not see this report last December in the Sun-Times that actually looked at the data?

    “Chicago Charter Schools Produce Wildly Uneven Results:” (Sun-Times story).

    Charter schools are no different than traditional schools – almost all charter operators have campuses that are performing below the CPS average. So why expand them at such a rapid pace? Why not tout the excellent inquiry-based literacy curriculum developed at some of our schools, like Burley elementary, where my son attends as just one example. Why not make it a point to share that kind of curriculum infused with some level of community control and content, with 60 schools, so that all kids have the opportunity to become critical thinkers and engaged learners? Perhaps because it is too difficult and is not a silver bullet-style approach that we are seeing with this administration. Move fast, try everything, hope something works.”

  • 412. cpsobsessed  |  May 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I’ll make a post about the charter schools in a little while….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 413. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 11:21 am

    409 — the “education reform agenda,” is called privatization.

    “Ed reform” includes a variety of methods of funneling citizens’ tax dollars to private control of public education: vouchers, charters, online learning, either “virtual schooling” or “blended learning.”

    Blended learning, is what Wall Street PACs like New Ventures, New Schools, calls a “micro-reach” strategy b/c it is mandated into the existing school day in the existing public school — not reserved only for charter schools.

    The common core created a scalable market for the companies selling curriculum and tests in the US.

    (DIane Ravitch explains this well in her book … It could be a good time to get it out of the library.)

  • 414. CLB  |  May 18, 2012 at 11:36 am

    At the elementary level, CPS had this in a 2011 “School Based Budgeting” document:

    Elementary Art and Music positions are based on the total K-8 membership of a school. Schools with a K- 8 membership of greater than 750 students receive a 1.0 Art and Music position, while schools which have a K-8 membership of 750 or fewer students receive a 0.5 Art and Music position.

    A half-time position in the arts means that some students are getting no arts instruction for half the year, as I understand the scheduling.

    From the same document, depending on the number of teachers and special ed students, an elementary school gets either a PE or a librarian. If there are enough students, one of each.

    At Mayer, we have one music (Golden Apple recipient), one drama, and a half-time art teacher, and we are a fine arts magnet. I was told that we are lucky to have the half-time art teacher; our “fine arts” status entitles us to only two full-time positions.

  • 415. junior  |  May 18, 2012 at 11:36 am

    @385 WendyK

    Thanks for the new reading list — seems like we are keeping each other busy! We might not agree on some of the “science” behind this stuff, but I think we agree on the need for science/PE/recess/arts in our kids’ curriculum.

    Haven’t had a chance to review the latest sources, but in general it seems that much of the first batch of research finds “associations” that did not justify leaps from correlation to causation. We can see in the microcosm of Chicago that top schools tend to have all sorts of enrichment, like arts. But that doesn’t mean that having arts is the cause of these schools being top schools in other areas.

  • 416. WendyK  |  May 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    @Frittering – can you please share any info you have on their reforms? I have been waiting all year to hear something of substance other than the marketing tour they’ve been on for a longer day. I am not joking. Please share any info you have that I may have missed that will help to enlighten. I know schools will have a longer day (many with no additional funds) and we will have common core, which is not even a curriculum but a set of standards. What else do you see changing that will benefit our kids in this district?

  • 417. cpsobsessed  |  May 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Wendy, isn’t it the turnarounds, more IB, more magnets (STEM) and teacher accountability (a standard “reform” priority)? Plus longer day and CC.
    Closure I think are more related to budget issues and under-enrollment/performance.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 418. WendyK  |  May 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    @415 Junior – I hear you. I don’t think any of this on it’s own is a silver bullet and I imagine there are so many variables in what makes a school “high performing,” but I certainy think there’s enough research to show that music and arts integration have a positive impact on learning in general and that kids in CPS have been shortchanged in this area for years. We are far below other districts in what we provide in the arts -something like 3-5% of our total curriculum vs. an average of 15% nationwide. I am waitiing to receive some data on that from an arts org.

  • 419. teacher in Englewood  |  May 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    @WendyK the largest problem I have with longer day is that it is actually only 15 more minutes of instructional time for our students. The remainder is scheduled for recess. In the school where I teach we have extended our day for 90 instructional minutes FOR YEARS. Teachers HAVE ALWAYS been paid by our principal for that time and our scores reflect it. In fact when Rahm and Brizard first came up with this whole idea they came into our building to see how it all panned out here. Now our school will no longer be able to do this (we are not willing to stay ANOTHER 90 minutes after the 7 hours we are required) and our scores will drop dramatically!! One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for any large district.

  • 420. frittering  |  May 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm


    in one year, changes that benefit all students:

    Longer day with school based decision making regarding how time is used.

    Shifting from only certain schools being autonomous (AMPS) to system wide autonomy.

    Introduction of IB programs.

    Introduction of STEM programs.

    Continuation of school consolidations to eliminate over capacity.

    Continuation of school closings due to chronic under-performance.

    Expansion of school choice within neighborhoods with charter school options.

  • 421. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    @419 teacher in Englewood – perhaps the new shorter longer day should be made longer again?

  • 422. falconergrad  |  May 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    @407 The key word in your post is only. Because they are making these decisions without input from or consideration for major stakeholders.

    And for everyone using it’s the “all for the children” argument or some variation – public education needs to “work” for all citizens: taxpayers, residents, parents, teachers, admins and other staff, and kids. Every time I have had someone bring up that argument it is because they have nothing else to say and their position is actually weak. They fall back on emotion and guilt.

    A couple of other random thoughts: do any teachers here independently give parents or students a form to evaluate them as a teacher? I am actually thinking about writing up one for my child’s’ teacher. I’ve been pretty happy with her so I view it as no risk. She can do what she wants with it. Any thoughts on this idea? Sources for a form?

    Is it possible that so many kids have it so good now that we can’t give them a better childhood than we had? Could that be part of the reason for this obsession?

  • 423. anonymous (the first)  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    421 — and will cps give schools more funding than they have now?

  • 424. anonymous (the first)  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Glen Ford: Corporate Assault on Public Education

    In the space of less than 20 years, the public school privatization movement has emerged …

  • 425. OutsideLookingIn  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    @419 – Please clarify: are you saying that you are losing 1 hour and 15 minutes of instruction time by moving to a 7 hour school day?

  • 426. WendyK  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    @CPS-0 – good points. I was thinking of district-wide reforms that would hit all schools like common core and longer day (teacher accountability is deifnitely a priority of this administration, too). Are we opening more magnet schools? I thought the STEMs were going into neighbhorhood schools but may be wrong. Need to look that up. It seems we are continuing to put a few specialty programs in a very small number of schools and I’m not sure what we are doing fort the rest.

    I have been thinking a lot about my neighborhood high school, which is a “Level 3” school, which could easily end up on the closing list by CPS standards. After going on a tour of the school recently and observing many classrooms, I was kind of shocked and impressed to see the high level of teaching in the building. The general perception of this school is that it’s unsafe, out of control, teachers must be bad, etc. Not true. At the same time, I know of some level 1 schools where my friends tell me the curriculum is uninspired, rote learning, etc.

    If a crop of neighborhood kids come into the school,which they likely will – even though CPS just cut a bunch of positions at the school, test scores will likely jump and the school will likely move up a level, thus reducing their chance of any potential turnaround or closing.

    Will the school be better? Why? If the school is closed and the students are sent elsewhere, will they get a better education? How so?

    I’m kind of off on a tangent but I guess I see a lot of attempts at quick fixes and not a lot of education policy in any of what’s happening at CPS.

  • 427. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    CPS can’t fund a 5.75 hr day…how will they fund a 7 or longer day?? They won’t~Rahm doesn’t have the money and at a meeting Cheatum said there were no new funds. BUT you could layoff teachers, pay monitors to watch kids in recess, cut art/pe/music programs and have a longer day. NO CPS parent I know would ever allow that…the fact is…Rahm never planned on educated parents to read all the quasi research that is on the CPS website that they use as data for longer day. On one document on 2 schools can be used as making slight gains the other 6 charters all loss students and scores on their state tests considerably.

    Rahm & Brizard are always talking abt Finland schools..what’s so gr8 abt them? The treat their teachers w/the highest respect, PRO union, and pay them very well. They also have shorter instructional minutes.

  • 428. teacher in Englewood  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    CPS is not willing to pay teachers as principals have in the past. Too many restrictions to allow it. It’s were the animosity begins to surface. The thought of spending soo much away from my own children without compensation is a very difficult pill to swallow. Especially when I know that I still have papers to grade and lesson plans to complete at home.

  • 429. WendyK  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    @419 – can you explain the 15 minutes? Are you saying you had a 7hr15 minute day before with no recess and now you have to include a recess for 20 minutes, and that will have a negative impact on the students? Sorry, not following.

  • 430. teacher in Englewood  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    @OutsideLookingIn That is EXACTLY what I am saying. WE are LOSING instructional time IN MY SCHOOL by going to the CPS model of longer school day. I repeat the one-size-fits-all model does not work. Makes me sick! Our students will suffer. Clock time will be about the same but instructional time is far less.

  • 431. teacher in Englewood  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    In our school we are a 8:30-2:45. All teachers stay until 4:00 until ISAT (for approx 20-25 weeks) gaining instructional time that our children desperately need!! Under the longer day model our students next year will be here until 3:45 and will only gain 15 minutes of instructional time because we, the teachers will be given the scheduled preps and recess time. As teachers we waive our 45 min lunch (which is currently at 2:45) to 4:00. Next year that is not possible.

    To clarify… Teachers lose prep time in the morning next year so by gaining it in the middle of the day it negatively effects our instructional time (to further clarify this currently teachers are given 30 mins every morning before the students come in prep – next year we are only given 10-15 mins in the morning before students come in the other time in moved to middle of the day which is tacked on the teacher prep/student resource time).

  • 432. cpsobsessed  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    @englewood teacher; on behalf of every parent that hasn’t thanked you, “thank you.”. That is giving a lot to stay late during most of the year. So the school hours were officially extended? Or did some kids stay for tutoring while other went home?
    What do you do with the extra time to make a positive impact?
    (And importantly, why aren’t the ideas being rolled out to other schools?) Or at least being presented to inspire other schools? I ask this hypothetically, of course.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 433. teacher in Englewood  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    We extend time. It isn’t afterschool tutoring. It’s actual extended time. All students stay. It is the expectation of the school. When the expectation is high, parents and students, even in the worst neighborhoods DO achieve. Our school is often looked upon in high regard because we are NOT a specialty school, magnet school, etc. and we get scores. Because we work. Yes, more instructional time works. 15 minutes is not enough…. My lesson plans reflect a two hour block of math. By 4:00 I’m starving and drained. But my children are amazing and it’s worth it. I am terrified about what is about to occur. We sat around the table yesterday trying to decide what to do next year. There is nothing we can do. We all have families. I cannot stay and continue to teach ANOTHER 90 minutes more. I will never see my own children. It’s infuriating. And the other key component, WE ARE PAID. We are treated as professionals here in my building. It’s a lesson our Board hasn’t learned yet. Even when they came and spoke with my principal… they didn’t really listen to what works here.

  • 434. teacher in Englewood  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I should also mention, my principal keeps our class sizes small – 20 or below. He buys teachers not stuff. Makes all the difference in the world. There is no magic to what works.

  • 435. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Teacher in Englewood~that’s why CPS should have autonomy in length of day for schools~what works at one doesn’t work at others. CPS is too big of a district…it needs to be divided…obviously CPS thinks the district is a one size fits all if they won’t allow each school to continue to do what works for each individual school. CPS must divide the’s 2 big.

  • 436. cpsobsessed  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    When you say “we are paid,” how does that happen? Is that by the teacher spending money on teachers vs stuff?
    I don’t think you can beat yourself up for not wanting to stay late. Everyone needs a life outside work. Please keep us posted next year and through the process, if you would.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 437. anonymous (the first)  |  May 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    teacher — are you a traditional CPS neighborhood school?

  • 438. WendyK  |  May 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    @434- has anyone talked to your network officer about retaining your schedule?

  • 439. teacher in Englewood  |  May 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    We are a neighborhood school in the heart of Englewood. Traditional, neighborhood children. They see too much and know too much out here. One of our babies was in the news for being shot, no counselors other than our teachers help our babies out here. We are on lock-down several times a year for neighborhood shootings or fights, we never make the news, just our teachers on hand to help our babies. Our children do their homework, often IN SPITE OF their parents. I rarely see or hear from parents, even on report card pick-up. And MY 6th grade math scores last year… 92% at or above. (We are a smaller school with fewer teachers so the principal does find money in his budget to pay us for the 90 mins.) So yes, I worry about what the future holds. I do not know if we will be able to do as well with 50-60 mins of math. ::fingers crossed::

  • 440. Mom999  |  May 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    434 – How does the principal keep the class sizes 20 or below? Just wondering.

  • 441. anonymous (the first)  |  May 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    We are wishing and hoping for the best.

  • 442. CLB  |  May 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm


    I don’t see how any of these changes constitute reform based on the problems that CPS itself has identified (low college preparedness, low graduation rates, poor standardized test scores).

    A longer day could be beneficial assuming other support is part of it, but right now we juts have more time in the day without funding to make it well used time. CPS says that Common Core Standards will reduce the meets/exceeds percentages at many schools, so they will lower scores, not raise them. By a miracle, more time will avoid that.

    More IB and STEM programs are great, but they largely provide better opportunities for students who already do well. I like that, but it doesn’t address problems with preparedness, graduation, and low scores.

    If consolidation meant moving the the existing instructional staff with the students, I could see efficiency gains on maintenance and operations, but that’s not how it works. The instructional staff is pruned. Maybe some kids now get a librarian and a PE teacher, but that alone will not address the problems CPS has identified. Add commuting time in and gains from a longer day can be sapped.

    Since CPS does not have much better alternative schools to the ones that it closes for bad performance, the school closings just shift students about, leading to more commuting time, not sufficiently better learning conditions.

    Charter capacity is too low even with opening more to provide sufficient competition. And when consolidation follows enrollment drops, then the competition within the neighborhood diminishes. For charters to provide effective competition both the charters and the neighborhood schools need to be under-capacity. Otherwise, parents cannot move their children freely. This is what makes the whole school choice theory impractical. Having one neighborhood and one charter replaces a monopoly with a duopoly, not with a competitive market.

    And even this isn’t quite right; there are choices — private schools– but not enough even for existing demand at high prices. Supply remains low because of high barriers to entry–capital costs for starting a school are prohibitive and, without endowments beyond tuition, the price would well exceed demand.

  • 443. anonymous  |  May 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    @442 CLB – I appreciate you well thought out response to my list at 420. Within you criticism of each “reform” you do point out possible pluses and I will leave it at that.

    With regard to the lack of real competition between charters and other schools the answer is – more charters. This is probably why cities like New Orleans are already at 70% charters I believe. I do think CPS is trying to speed up their introduction as fast as they can though.

    Given that you seem knowledgeable what reforms would you implement right away given the current budgetary constraints? Remember, CPS doesn’t generate income, it has to work with what we tax payers are willing to give.

  • 444. just passing by  |  May 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    @ 398, in the private sector you are evaluated based on a boss’ observation. So your statement is wrong

  • 445. foureyes  |  May 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Many of the issues being talked about here: including CPS budget transparency/charter schools/testing/teacher evalutation/privatization and more will be presented at this public forum (with Q and A) on Sunday – May 20th – 5pm/7pm at Luther Memorial Church (2500 W. Wilson)

    Critically Thinking about Chicago Public Schools

    Public Forum

    Panel Presentation

    Q-A session.
    The notion of education reform is not a contentious issue for the vast majority of Chicago voters, as 82% consider reform either extremely or very important. However, not all reform is viewed the same. What shape does that reform take? Hear from members of the community involved in reshaping education so it benefits all stakeholders.

    Ameya Pawar
    Invited – 47th Ward Alderman
    Jackson Potter
    Chicago Teachers Union Staff Coordinator
    Kurt Hilgendorf
    CTU CPS Budget Evaluation Committee
    Kate Brandt
    6.5 to Thrive
    Erica Clark
    Wanda Hopkins
    Parents United for Responsible Education (P.U.R.E)
    Sonia Kwon
    Raise Your Hand – Illinois
    Raul Botello
    Albany Park Neighborhood Council (A.P.N.C.)
    Victor Alquicira – student
    VOYCE – Voices of Youth in Chicago Education

    CPS Board Members

    Sunday 20 May 2012

    5 PM – 7 PM

    Luther Memorial Church

    2500 W. Wilson

    Chicago, IL

  • 446. CLB  |  May 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Mayer (fine arts magnet) did OK. No cuts, but budget details beyond toplines are unclear due to some errors that seem to never get fixed. We have expanding enrollment, probably out three more years.

    Re charters, if the goal is to create competition among schools then it does not matter whether they are charter or not. What matters is that the schools not be so efficient in terms of faculty:student ratios and classrooms free that people can move back and forth at will, preferably even during the school year.

  • 447. anonymouseteacher  |  May 18, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    @443, I could be wrong on this, but isn’t New Orleans mostly charter in large part due to Hurricane Katrina? I thought that because it was so expensive to rebuild and they didn’t know how many kids would return that is was simply easier to hire in charters to take over. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

  • 448. Sped Mom  |  May 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I wonder the degree to which charter schools will work to educate students with disabilities. It’s hard enough getting regular schools to do that. That’s how I judge a school, naturally.

  • 449. sosidemom  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    The charter schools I have experienced do little to nothing for students with special needs. I have had to say “this is unethical and illegal” in front of the parents and case managers, yet nothing is done about the situation. ISBE does little to no monitoring of the charters in terms of special ed compliance.

  • 450. HS Mom  |  May 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    @401 Wendy your comments about time spent beyond core subjects make sense here. I think we’re all probably saying the same thing. This would have to be a custom solution for different schools, as in the example by Englewood teacher.

    Englewood teacher – thanks for setting me straight on some good things happening in Englewood and for all you do. I’m glad you shared your POV and hope that this works out for you and your kids. Sounds like you really have got it together. Please continue to post.

  • 451. anonymouseteacher  |  May 18, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I think what Englewood teacher is saying is really, really important to hear. Her school has an extended day AND small class sizes. Both of those things together work. Both are vital. One without the other, large class sizes with a longer day and small class sizes with a shorter day would most assuredly not produce the same results. It also appears from what she has written that she has a functional principal. To have all three of these things in one school? Rare. Very rare. Englewood teacher, they are lucky to have you and you are lucky to have found a school that has committed to a longer day with small class sizes. Good luck next year!

  • 452. anonymouseteacher  |  May 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Oh, and they pay their teachers extra to extend the day. What a concept.

  • 453. CLB  |  May 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm


    what reforms would you implement right away given the current budgetary constraints?

    1) For starters, I’d have CPS’ research division sit down with the faculty & admin at high-performing open-admission schools (top 10% of these) to figure out what they do and how they do it (curriculum, classroom techniques, mentoring, management) and the demographics of the students they teach; then do the same for a sample of modest-performing schools; and finally sit down with the low-performing schools (bottom 10%). This has to be detailed research. What books and readings are used? What kinds tests and quizzes are given? How do GPAs correlate with standardized scores? How is math taught? Are students doing lab experiments at one school but not another? Are volunteers used? How are they used? Then the data is analyzed to see what practices work well under what conditions. How does this mesh with outside research? What is replicable? At what cost?

    You can’t start major reform until you have answers to those questions. With those results, I’d start rolling out reforms step-by-step. For example, would inter-school teacher mentoring be helpful? If so, let’s reallocate professional development time to that.

    2) Create an IBM-style “senior leadership group” of 20 principals and 20 teachers (not selected by title or rank) to discuss the results of #1. Then it would summit each year with the CPS exec team to churn over what’s working, what’s not, and how to fix it, and then keep track of how the changes are working regularly during the year. This group should have a good deal of turnover (IBM’s had 300 people; in seven years, most had been replaced; only 71 of the original 300 still served).

    3) I would go ahead with a 6.5 hour expansion for schools at 5.75. I would let each school decide how to use the time, banning only adding time for standardized test preparation. Then we start collecting data on what was tried and what the outcomes were.

    4) I would like to see more IB programs, but only if the students will be pursuing the IB diploma and only if we have a 6-8th grades curriculum that prepares students for the program. Right now, only 20% of Chicago IB students have received the diploma during 2003-2008. The world-wide rate is 80%. Chicago scores on end-of-year exams average a full point below the world-wide average on a seven-point scale. (see Coca, V., D. Johnson, and T. Kelley-Kemple (2011). Working to My Potential: The Postsecondary Experiences of CPS Students in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Consortium on Chicago School Research, Chicago, Box 4). We need to know why the rate is so low and what can be done to improve it. Are some middle schools generating higher IB performers than others? Why?

    5) I’d delve back into the Lauren Sartain, et al, Rethinking Teacher Evaluation in Chicago: Lessons Learned from Classroom Observations, Principal-Teacher Conferences, and District Implementation to see whether it can be expanded further. It would be great to roll it out, but if you take 2 observations a year, figuring that it would take an independent observer four hours for each one (one hour to observe, write-up, conference with teacher) and you have about 12,000 classroom teachers, then you are at 96,000 person-hours. At $75 per hour for an experienced teacher to observe, that’s $7.2m without overhead and training on the evaluation framework. Since the demand on principals’ time is high, you might need more than one observer per teacher. But a more expansive trial is worth doing. This way we measure teacher quality separate from our desired result of high teacher quality: better student performance.

    6) On the budget side, I’d take a hard look at the educational side of both the professional, non-professional, and tech services budget and the contracts budget and the entire textbook budget, which together came in ~ $280m in FY2012, or 5.5% of CPS operating expenditures. It is not clear where CPS places the $70m to 85m it pays to the Chicago Police for security; it might be part of that or might not.

    7) With the savings at #5, I’d set up an Experimental Education Office. Its mission would be seek out alternative teaching methods, pilot them using experimental research designs (random assignment of students and teachers w/ control groups) and see what works and what doesn’t. The point would be to test these things in Chicago to make sure that what works elsewhere works here. That stuff gets fed up to #2.

    Now in FY2014….

  • 454. anonymous  |  May 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    @453 CLB Fantastic, thoughtful stuff – and you know how to do italics.

    It did occur to me that a working group which delves into best practices in scaling would be worth while. Taking the outcomes that your suggested studies and piloting would reveal could still stumble when implementing system-wide.

  • 455. anonymouse teacher  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    @453, right on.
    I’d only change that instead of using CPS’s research division (who knew we even had such a thing), I’d fill at least 50% of the total people in charge of looking at research and effectiveness with current teaching staff. A huge issue within CPS is there are all these people making decisions who have no educational background, no experience teaching and no sense of reality “on the ground”. What looks great on paper often looks very different within CPS reality. We definitely need the data geeks but that has to be balanced out with real teachers with a lot of experience. The two together could make for a powerful team.

  • 456. anonymouse teacher  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    And one more comment re: Englewood teacher. You should be making at least 100K for the results you get. At least. I have been thinking about the commitment your school has made, how you work in one of the most difficult areas of the city and the results you get. 100K might begin to scratch the surface of your skill level. You are awesome!

  • 457. cpsobsessed  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    I keep thinking about the englewood school and the team effort there to make things work.
    Really incredible.
    It would be great if CPS could find a way to replicate it/inspire others schools.
    I believe that’s what they (CPS)want out of the longer day (schools to use their creativity, extra effort, etc), but as the teacher points out, it doesn’t seem like it’s working that way necessarily.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 458. Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Meta-analysis, or a statistical analysis of a collection of individual studies, can be a compelling research method for determining what really works in education. McREL’s meta-analysis of research on the school and teacher impacts on student achievement (Marzano, 2000) found that school-level and teacher-level factors account for approximately 20 percent of the variance in student achievement. Student characteristics — home environment, learned intelligence/background knowledge, and motivation — account for 80 percent of the variance in student achievement.

    -INTERESTING FINDINGS from Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) is a private nonprofit corporation located in Denver, Colorado.

  • 459. anonymous  |  May 20, 2012 at 6:24 am

    @458 Mom – So for CPS to allocate significant resources for initiatives that only have a 20% bearing on outcome is another dilemma for CPS leadership. The more you learn about public, urban education the more complicated it gets.

  • 460. CPS Dad To Be  |  May 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Many other studies have also pointed out background and home environment as being the most important factor. Spending lots of money or making significant policy changes to extract the most out of 20% doesn’t seem like the best option especially since the end results in college preparedness may only change a few percentage points.

    Home environment cannot be easily changed but background knowledge/intelligence and motivation can on many levels. Why not spend the money/resources and make policy changes at the toddler/preschool level. Offer more free and better preschool options to low income families. Expanding Headstart and preschool-for-all programs significantly would be a good start.

    If the quality of students entering kindergarten/1st grade can be improved significantly by providing enrichment and learning to them early on then the system as a whole should benefit greatly. Early elementary teachers jobs will be easier from the start. There will also be less need to spend money on remediation in later grades — not to mention prisons at later stages in life.

    Its a radical change at some level but the interesting thing is that the current elementary and HS systems would not be changing significantly if at all. What would be changing is the quality of the foundation (students) that those systems work with.

    Education policy in the US has applied to kids 5 years and older for the past century. Maybe its time to change/make better the first few steps of life in order for the subsequent steps to be as effective as possible.

  • 461. 7:45 early start time appeal  |  May 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Looks like the nice fluffy puppy kitten pictures is not working…..?

  • 462. anonymous  |  May 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    @460 CPS Dad to Be – Unfortunately Head Start has been proven to be ineffective according to the U.S. Government’s own long term study.

    After first grade there are no measurable positive results. From TIME magazine:,8599,2081778,00.html

    Here is the actual study:

    Click to access executive_summary_final.pdf

  • 463. anniesullivan  |  May 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Our kindergarten has one third of the class born after May, with June, July and August birthdays, mostly boys. These children are immature and struggle in an all day kindergarten. One of the teachers at the school has a child in a suburban kindergarten. He is one of the oldest with a March birthday. Many suburban parents keep their child home an extra year if the child has a late birthday. In the city the parents do not keep the child home due to child care issues or simply not comprehending the maturity issue. Does CPS allow a parent to enroll a six year in kindergarten? We have been told no. Has anyone studied this maturation issue?

  • 464. CPSTEACHER4321  |  May 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    @462 Look at the “Chicago Longitudinal Study” to see about the success of the Child Parent Centers in the way they were originally meant to be and work. There are good results there. They have studied the “kids” every five years and they are now in their 30s.

    @463 CPS has a philosophy that you go to Kindergarten at “age cycle 5” and First at “age cycle 6.” Age cycle is your age on September 1. Kindergarten is still not required in the state as far as I know.

  • 465. teacher in Englewood  |  May 21, 2012 at 8:32 am

    @cpso ~ thank you for continuing to think of my school and situation. We have a lot of committed teachers here. But we are all over the city. My principal has found a formula that works or should I say worked. Our formula has been shared many times with Board members. Donoso has been out to our school many times. She has taken our plan back to the Board. It is disheartening but the Mayor and Brizard were unwilling to listen and compromise from their plan. I didn’t believe that (I’m forever the optimist) feeling that if representatives were here then they must be open to seeing what *really* works. But as people have left the board and continued privatization has occurred, now I’m not so sure. What I do know is that MY children will suffer. I’ve worked for CPS for over 16 years and I have never seen it this bad. I have never felt so distrusting of the Board and their larger plan. It is very sad. I will always continue to do right by my children, not because it’s what I’m paid to do but because it’s what I love to do. It’s my calling. It’s just a shame that money and politics have gotten in the way of a trust that I had for my superiors (NOT my principal as he is just as frustrated) and jaded my view of them.

  • 466. CPS Parent  |  May 21, 2012 at 9:08 am

    @teacher in Englewood – Your school seems to have had a mandatory longer day for a while. CPS came out and observed your success. The Board now has approved a longer day system wide with school level discretion as to how time is used. Because of HB7 work rules are now much more flexible for principals – the teacher lunch period can be implemented more creatively for instance. With proper implementation of the longer day by your school’s leadership, your school should feel no adverse impact at all.

    Wishing continued success!

  • 467. anonymous (the first)  |  May 21, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Englewood teacher doesn’t share your outlook, 466.

  • 468. teacher in Englewood  |  May 21, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I wish it were true CPS Parent, but no. With the new scheduling system we have been told to be creative with HOW WE STAFF positions because we aren’t receiving any more funds for the new staffing that we need for preps and recess, but we are within relatively strict guidelines for schedules. Those guidelines include the unpaid teacher lunch break of 45 minutes. As I stated earlier, we have always been compensated for our extended time which was at the END of the school day (when our lunch is currently scheduled).

  • 469. teacher in Englewood  |  May 21, 2012 at 9:44 am

    That 45 min break next year is in the middle of the day and is not instructional time so that is now time my students will be missing….

  • 470. CPS Parent  |  May 21, 2012 at 9:45 am

    @468 teacher in Englewood. Are you saying the school hired additional teachers beyond the standard formula and those positions have been lost? Are you also saying that whereas currently the teachers at yours school are voluntarily delaying their duty free lunch until after the extended school day the teachers are unwilling to do that next year?

  • 471. kate  |  May 21, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Englewood teacher isn’t giving out the formula… but i’d theorize…. that the principal can utilize $$ for afterschool programming (tutorial or enrichment) and hire the teaching staff during those hours. then the students (all) are able to stay longer, teachers get paid & very wisely the “creativity” was to utilize that time as scholastic time resulting in extraordinary results. am i on the right track?

  • 472. CPS Parent  |  May 21, 2012 at 10:05 am

    @471 kate – you are probably other than the formula is the same for all schools, hasn’t changed from last year, and is public information.

    What I do sense is that as long as the teachers at this school are paid for additional hours (with discretionary funds) they will forego their lunch and probably snack on the fly when they can. Some principals apparently allow this, some not. What the teachers at this school are saying is that they won’t do this when they are not receiving extra compensation – in other words – the raise for next year is too low.

    The system wide longer day is not at issue here – it is compensation which is the crux of the problem and I can understand that since these teachers are looking at a potential loss of income. Teachers certainly should be “for the children” but also have the right to also “be for themselves”.

  • 473. anonymous (the first)  |  May 21, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I hate to be talking for Englewood teacher, and pl.s correct me if I am wrong, but it seemed to me that Englewood teacher said that mandatory recess and mandatory duty-free lunch and preps change the schedule w.o. adding enough instructional time for the kids.

    Even with a 7 hour day, E.t. will lose the extra time after school to help the kids. The autonomy they now have to structure and pay for their day is gone.

    I’ve heard this before at other schools.

    At one, they were losing the early-morning tutoring, which helped kids who needed it and helped the rest of the class b/c move through the lessons at a nice pace, since everyone could keep up.

  • 474. teacher in Englewood  |  May 21, 2012 at 10:34 am

    @CPS Parent, no… and bordering insulting. The system wide longer day IS the issue. The one-size-fits-all model IS the concern. There is no need for me to repeat the concern nor engage in the compensation battle as THAT is the crux of the fight we are seeing between media/Mayor/Union. My initial concern stands, we are receiving less instructional time next year and my children will suffer.

  • 475. CPS Parent  |  May 21, 2012 at 10:36 am

    @471 – On that note, perhaps parents, especially at low performing schools, should urge their state Senators to not vote for the mandatory recces bill which is coming up for a vote very soon. It is Illinois SB 636.

    It might be best if principals are able to decide the parameters for recess at the school level instead of a State mandate.

  • 476. HS Mom  |  May 21, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Wondering….Did I not see a proposal by the mayor that teachers taking on the difficult jobs in tough neighborhoods would get higher compensation for this? Or is this part of negotiations? They should, another area where the across the board pay for time served method doesn’t quite jive with reality.

  • 477. Rally 5/23  |  May 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Parents 4 Teachers (P4T) has come together to stand up for teachers and work for real education reform. Standing up for teachers means standing up for our kids!

    Rally to Support Our Teachers!
    May 23, 3 p.m.
    Auditorium Theater, 50 E. Congress

    The CTU has called for an all membership rally/meeting inside the theater. We’ll be outside letting teachers know we’ve got their backs. Join us!

  • 478. CPS Parent  |  May 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    @467 HS Mom there is no way that the CTU would agree to that.

    Teachers like teacher in Englewood have been able to earn extra compensation for hours worked after school because the school day is short enough for there to be hours and there is more discretionary money available at low performing schools.

  • 479. anonymous (the first)  |  May 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    CPS Parent, if I could get in the middle, it seems you mix up instructional time with time spent in school. Englewood teacher now has more instructional time b/c she has autonomy.

  • 480. CPSTEACHER4321  |  May 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    @471 Kate and 472 CPS Parent
    Creative principals in the past have done this, utilized after school money to keep the entire staff (and all of the students) at school after school for 45 minutes to an hour of extra instruction. At which point the teachers will take their 45 minute duty free lunch after the children leave. Teachers do have to vote on this matter every year, since it will extend their work day. I am not sure if this has changed recently (within the past 5 years).

  • 481. anonymous (the first)  |  May 22, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Just wanted to say a big thank you to CPSTEACHER4321, anonymousteacher, and Englewood teacher and other educators who come on this blog to explain the reality of teaching in CPS. Really appreciate hearing about your experiences. It helps parents to understand the issues.

  • 482. teacher  |  May 22, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Posted in the wrong section earlier… it is

    By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

    Are you waiting for a super teacher to magically help your child? It’s no wonder. From To Sir, with Love to Dangerous Minds, we’ve been fed a steady diet of brilliant, miracle-working education whisperers for decades. Inexperienced yet innovative, these young idealists take on the bland land of classroom learning and turn it into Hollywood heroics. Now, with a new generation of educators seizing the lectern, we’ve got aspiring super teachers appearing at a struggling, turnaround, and/or charter school near you (think Teach for America).

    But it wasn’t until I heard teacher Roxanna Elden demystify “the myth of the super teacher,” that I realized how teachers had swallowed that notion – and were trying to live up to it. The myth of the super teacher begins early, Elden told a crowd of education reporters, reformers, researchers, and union types at a conference in Philadelphia on Friday, when they play Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” at graduation to inspire the newest generation of teachers.

    Confession of a fallen super teacher

    Elden says she remembers clearly the pressure to outperform her first year in a classroom. “I had every intention of being a super teacher,” she recalls. She pushed her class and herself so hard that she lost perspective, adding piles of homework one day (against her training and better judgment) when her kids just would not sit still and be quiet. Later, she realized it was Halloween. “I ruined Halloween for a bunch of fourth graders,” she laments, a breaking point that ended with her sobbing in a Burger King parking lot for two hours. Her book, See me after class: Advice for teachers by teachers, compiles humor and practical tips for teachers; it’s her way of helping others avoid a similar meltdown.

    Will all the good teachers please speak up

    The myth of the super teacher, where only the elite, caped crusader can get through to kids, is a dangerous one. Recently, the search for great teaching has become a matter of national urgency – but the teacher’s voice is often absent from this conversation. That we’re losing teachers at a pretty fast clip – 40 to 50 percent leave the profession within five years – makes it all the more important for us to listen when a teacher reminds us it’s a profession (not an exercise in perfection) and the myths of extravagant kindness, empathy, wisdom, classroom management, and zero work-life balance, all wrapped into a Hollywood heroine, aren’t really helping anyone.

  • 483. teacher in Englewood  |  May 25, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Something else to consider, I’m in my room working this morning and it’s already 87 degrees. No children, lights off… We don’t have the luxury of air conditioners. We roast and still have a long time left in the school year. Not something talked about much when the longer day was planned. As the day progresses with the sun and body temps it can get upwards of 95 degrees or more. Not a lot of productivity on days like these.

  • 484. anonymous (the first)  |  May 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Those brick buildings are like an oven!

  • 485.  |  February 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks for finally writing about >The Budgets Are Coming, The Budgets Are Coming | CPS Obsessed <Liked it!

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