Charters growing in CPS – up to 25% of schools?

May 18, 2012 at 9:32 pm 178 comments

Charters and neighborhood schools – can we co-exist? (I need something cute to take my mind off the school stuff.)

So one of the big news stories about CPS today was the approval to expand charters by another 60 schools in five years, which could tally up to 25% of CPS schools.  As you may have figured out, I’m neither fully in favor of nor against charters, but I have to admit that 25% is starting to sound like a lot.  The Trib story is below.  Apparently this move opens the city up to Bill Gate $ as well as some of the bigger (better?) charter operators.

Since I like data, I like Seth Lavin of Chicago Schools Wonks e-mail newsletter (subscription link is in the links list on the bottom right side of the page).  He says:

As always the big question is: Is this good for kids?

I’d say we have no power to predict, from the plan itself, whether any of this will actually make things better. These days everyone (or at least everyone I like) acknowledges that new charter schools are just as likely to be worse than existing options as they are to be better.

That means just opening 60 charter schools doesn’t improve anything. Quality’s all that matters. 60 new high-quality charter schools would be wonderful for Chicago and, as I see it, definitely worth the disruption caused by all that student, teacher and principal reshuffling and the opportunity cost of the money and attention this is going to soak up. On the other hand 60 new schools of uneven quality would be a trust-damaging, time-wasting disruption.

So are these 60 charter schools going to be quality charter schools?

CPS says YES. That’s the good news. Rahm, to his credit, has talked about quality (not school type) as the only variable that matters. This application’s full of promises about “quality” and “rigorous high quality standards” for the new schools.

I also thought this was an interesting spin on things on Diane Ravitch’s blog (below.)  Is this “failure?”  Or finding a way to bring resources to a failing school district.  Really, if Brizard had cracked the code on CPS that quickly, he’d have figure something out that has seemed to elude the rest of urban school systems.

From Diane:

Chicago Superintendent of Schools J.C. Brizard has admitted that he does not know how to improve Chicago’s public schools. He did so by asking the Gates Foundation to supply millions of dollars to open another 100 charter schools.   Handing public schools over to private management is a frank admission of failure on the part of school leadership. It amounts to saying, “I don’t know how to improve them. Let’s turn the kids over to the private sector and see if they can do it.

Trib story

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Chicago Tribun

Chicago Public Schools plans to create 60 more charter schools over five years, which would increase the share of privately run charters to about a quarter of all schools in the district.

The plan for charter growth, part of a larger proposal for 100 new schools over the same five years, is laid out in an application seeking $20 million for charter schools from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Right now the district’s 675 schools include 110 charters, which get tax dollars but are privately controlled. Private organizations also operate an additional 27 schools, 19 of which are managed by the Academy for Urban School Leadership.

There is a waiting list of 10,000 students for charter schools, which have been growing for the past seven years at a rate similar to what’s planned for the next five, according to CPS.

“I’m not looking for a quota, I’m not looking for a percentage, I’m looking to respond to a need,” said CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard. “As a whole, people are not satisfied with their neighborhood schools. Clearly, there’s a demand.”

CPS said the 40 remaining schools in the five-year plan would include some privately run turnaround schools, as well as magnets, International Baccalaureate programs and STEM schools (which specialize in science, technology, engineering and math), all run by the district.

The application to the Gates Foundation, made jointly by CPS and stakeholders in charter schools, seeks $20 million to secure $100 million in funds for construction and renovation of buildings for charter schools.

Even with 60 new schools, charters would make up a smaller proportion of all schools at CPS than they do at some other large urban districts — in New Orleans, for example, about 70 percent of schoolchildren attend charters.

But critics — prominent among them the Chicago Teachers Union — say the growth of charters signals the decline of CPS-run neighborhood schools. Additionally, state report card data released last fall suggested many charters in Chicago are performing no better than some of the same neighborhood schools. More than two dozen charters scored below district averages.

“If a new charter opens up or a charter expands, they are heavily marketed and parents are aggressively recruited,” said Sarah Hainds, a researcher with the Chicago Teachers Union. “So the neighborhood schools have had a declining enrollment, and that further facilitates the excuse of why (CPS) should close down these schools. More schools will be on the chopping block.”

In December, CPS became the latest large urban district to sign an agreement with the Gates Foundation, pledging greater cooperation and collaboration between the city’s charter and neighborhood schools. That compact brought an initial award of $100,000 but also allowed CPS to apply for money from a $40 million pool of funds.

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The Budgets Are Coming, The Budgets Are Coming New start times – what’d ya get?

178 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cpsobsessed  |  May 18, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Here’s the story someone referenced about Charters in CPS producing a range of results. They really do. I did a weighted average of the # of kids by test scores above/below the CPS norm. Elem nets out at 2.2 points above CPS norm, High Schools at 1 point above. But it’s because there is a range of far above, far below, and at-average.

    I will get to meet with Brizard and some other bloggers next week and one of the questions I submitted was about charter school evaluation. One would hope they’re held to a high standard of accountability.

  • 2. Mayfair Dad  |  May 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    In my heart of hearts (comprised entirely of coal, some would say) I really want to love charter schools. But the results are so — underwhelming? And then there is the cozy political relationship with Rahmfather that some charter operators enjoy. I suppose incremental progress is better than no progress. Maybe over time the tide will turn. I hope so.

  • 3. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Well look at Urban Prep~100% graduated and are going to college, but MORE than have left the school or was thrown out~so only 85 students graduated. The attrition is high for charters and they don’t have to give the funds back to the neighborhood schools when the neighborhood schools have to take the kids back, so the school is working w/even more money. Urban Prep have councilors/monitors that work round the clock w/them and their scores are still not that good. What happens when they get to college and there are no service to help like that?

    The courts ruled and TFA won’t even be allowed to be teachers w/their program after June 2013…they were considered ‘not highly qualified’ by the courts. Many TFA work in charters.

    Every Charter school in CPS except Noble is on academic warning and probation. Chicago charter schools produce wildly uneven results on state tests

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  May 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    How do you know they’re all on acad probation? It doesn’t really make sense based on the sun times article. Aspira and CICS have some low scores (although CICS is also the highest scorer.) They’re all around close to the CPS average, which seems like it wouldn’t lead to probation….

  • 5. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 19, 2012 at 1:44 am

    this is the IL Interactive Report Card for charters:

    I believe there is a more recent study since charters have been in the news lately and more have become Level 3~I’ll try and find that.

  • 6. crystal  |  May 19, 2012 at 1:48 am

    I am very disappointed by this turn of events. Honestly, I can’t blame CPS administrators that much for chasing the money that Gates is dangling. However, I can’t see how this is going to result in any sort of dramatic improvements over the long run. CPS: Why can’t you make a greater investment in replicating (and, in some cases, expanding) the great schools that everyone clamors to get into?

  • 7. anonymous (the first)  |  May 19, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Terry Mazany, interim CEO of CPS, (remember him?) said that there should be no further expansion fo charters until CPs can take a close look at which ones are working and which one aren’t.

    The data is available. With the exception of Noble, charters aren’t fulfilling their promises. So why keep expanding them? Why keep giving control of tax dollars for education to private concerns?

  • 8. anonymous (the first)  |  May 19, 2012 at 6:26 am

    If only Seth could take a look at the scores / finances of the charter operators invited to expand here. That could point to whether there will be quality charters.

  • 9. anonymouseteacher  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:02 am

    #3, Will you post a link about TFAers not being allowed to teach in public schools anymore due to not being “highly qualified”? I would be interested to read about that. Thanks.

  • 10. cpsobsessed  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I see a lot of articles with the same theme: adminstrators are fine with them, unions oppose them. Even the Brill book acknowledges that the training (5 weeks) during the initial years of TFA was worthless. No idea if that’s improved at all. It’s more about the concpet of the “best and brightest” (I hate that term) coming out of the top schools and going in with a ton of motivation. Seems that many use it as a springboard to work in education policy (kinda bugs me — it’s too hard for me to do, but I can tell others how to do it.) Oh wait, that sounds like me. 🙂

    On the other hand, some of the successful charters were started by people who were in TFA who floundered for a while, then started to experiment, improvise, and push and push and push to figure out something that works for their kids. Michelle Rhee aparently spent an entire summer with her 2 aunts making learning material for her class after her first year of teaching where she floundered. Same thing happened with the Kipp guys.

    Not sure it’s worth agonizing over since there can’t be *that* many people who they’ll recruit. 500-1000 a year max? That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the number of teachers in the U.S. no?

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Gotta add, TFA is very easy to dislike. They’re very elitist. Ivy League = better. Use TFA as a stepping stone to your “real” career. Use TRA as a way to build education advocacy among future rich people.

    The general idea of it is nice (send smart, motivated people into the crummiest schools where nobody “good” wants to go.”) There’s just something about the manifestation of it that bugs me a little.

  • 12. anonymous (the first)  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:38 am

    If I recall, Seth Lavin was a TFA teacher. He might share some insights.

  • 13. EdgewaterMom  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I have very mixed feelings about charter schools. You hear stories about amazing charter schools that have really turned things around, but then when you see the reality of the results that they get, it is, on average, not much different from CPS. It also feels like they are giving up on CPS and hoping charters will save the day.

    I wish that the Gates foundation would give money to study what works well in charter schools and how we could apply that to public schools! How much money is Chicago going to get from the Gates foundation to fund charter schools?

  • 14. EdgewaterMom  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Woops – I just realized that the article stated that they are going to get $20 million from Gates. Will this be enough to fund the new schools, or will it require additional money?

  • 15. cpsobsessed  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I think there is $20 million to start but it somehow opens the door for a full $100 million.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 16. Sped Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:15 am

    CPSO: You note “I will get to meet with Brizard and some other bloggers next week and one of the questions I submitted was about charter school evaluation. One would hope they’re held to a high standard of accountability.”

    Please, please, please talk with Rod Estvan at Access Living before your meeting with Brizard so you might be able to ask a follow-up question about kids with disabilities & charters.

  • 17. Sped Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Lavin taught as TFA down in Altgeld Gardens for two years. Then he left. He’s very young. Father is in media/news.

  • 18. Sped Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Also, there are SOOOOO many experienced teachers & principals retiring this year, the door is wide open to newbies.

  • 19. Sped Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Also, TFA has really changed a lot since it’s inception:

  • 20. Sped Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

    its not it’s – dang you, autocorrect

  • 21. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:33 am

    The court found that there was no relief presently owed to plaintiffs but held the issue was not moot and that, absent further Congressional action, alternate route trainees must once again be deemed not “highly qualified” after June of next year.

  • 22. anonymous (the first)  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Thanks sped mom for the well-written view from a former TFA teacher and recruiter … thought i’d leave a quote i like.

    “TFA has highlighted their few successes so much that many politicians actually believe that first year TFA teachers are effective. They believe that there are lazy veteran teachers who are not ‘accountable’ to their students and who are making a lot of money so we’re better off firing those older teachers and replacing them with these young go-getters.

    “Some TFA alums have become leaders of school systems in various cities and states. In New York City, several of the deputy chancellors are from TFA. I already mentioned ex-chancellor Michelle Rhee who now runs StudentsFirst. John White runs the Recovery District in New Orleans. Kevin Huffman, former TFA public relations VP, is the state commissioner of Tennessee. TFA likes to point to these leaders as the true effect of TFA. …

    “Which sounds great except these leaders are some of the most destructive forces in public education. They seem to love nothing more than labeling schools as ‘failing,’ shutting them down, and blaming the supposed failure on the veteran teachers. The buildings of the closed schools are taken over by charter networks, often with leaders who were TFA alums and who get salaries of $200,000 or more to run a few schools.”

  • 23. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:44 am

    ’60 Minutes’ Puts More Scrutiny on Charters Tied to Turkish Cleric

  • 24. Seth Lavin  |  May 19, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Hey all. Forgive limited initial reply. Typing on phone. Yes I was TFA. Will add TFA thoughts later.

    On charter quality:

    1) I agree with everyone who says charter quality is uneven.
    2) I think the data highlighted by sun-times, charter average ISAT vs. district average ISAT, is meaningless. It’s point in time data, not growth data. A snapshot of student ability at a point in time tells us nothing if we don’t know what abilities students entered with and how much they’ve advanced. Put a bunch of high performing students in a school and ISAT suggests the school’s high performing. Put low-performing students in and ISAT suggests the opposite. Tells us nothing about learning gains school helps students accomplish, which is how we should mainly measure quality.
    3) To my mind charter quality should be measured by student growth data that stands up over several years, student retention data (showing the school works for a broad set of students; doesn’t depend for growth numbers on changing the student population) and teacher retention data (showing the school’s succees is sustainable, though teacher retention is a limited proxy for sustainability). Retention of students with IEPs is an important red flag metric.

    Those are just my thoughts. How do you think we should measure charter quality? Or any school quality?

  • 25. alexander  |  May 19, 2012 at 10:40 am

    the main question that i and WBEZ reporter linda lutton have been asking is how this new proposal is going to be different from the previous Renaissance 2010 initiative, which also featured plans to create 100 new schools, many of them charters, whose results were mixed:

    “Sounds like Ren2010 all over again”

    “100 new Chicago schools in 5 years…again” @WBEZeducation @lindalutton

    you can read some more details about the PRI initiative here:
    Meet The “PRI” | District 299: The Inside Scoop on CPS

  • 26. chicagodad  |  May 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

    The link below is one everyone should read. It explains how students at charter schools do not have the same constitutional rights as public school students.

  • 27. chicagodad  |  May 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Another analysis on the public/private nature of charters.

  • 28. cpsobsessed  |  May 19, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I don’t have a problem with those issues, frankly. It may seem ‘unfair’ in some ways that charter school have stiffer requirements than public. You need to go along with their way of doing things if you want to succeed. That, in part, is their mission. Perhaps they should be held to higher standards for it. But if getting buy-in from parents and kids is what makes it work, does that mean we shouldn’t do it?

  • 29. chicagodad  |  May 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

    One more on the true cost of charters, on the difference in per pupil spending.
    And on how the environment in some charters leaves quite a lot to be desired.
    If there are to be more charters here these are the things we have to guard against, and charters and their teachers MUST be held to the same standards in the same way that regular public schools are.

  • 30. KatieO  |  May 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    In addition to Gary Rubinstein’s great work, here is some more info on Teach for America, unfortunately its impact goes far beyond the few thousand corp members out there: “The Ongoing Sham of Teach for America” and “Teach for America: The Hidden Curriculum of Liberal Do-Gooders” “Looking Past the Spin: Teach for America” and posts from Anthony Cody’s Living in Dialogue blog: Teach for America needs to change its ways or be gone.

  • 31. No more longer day  |  May 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    So Rahm and Brizzard admitted they do not know how to fix the public schools. So the longer day plan is no longer a solution right? Can we scrape that off the table now, please? Also if Rahm talks about quality, why has he not addressed the quality of the school day, but insisted focusing on the quantity? Are they contradicting themselves?

  • 32. Angie  |  May 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    @31. No more longer day: “So Rahm and Brizzard admitted they do not know how to fix the public schools.”

    It’s hard to fix something when the union’s reply to everything is “over our dead bodies”. Might as well start from scratch and in the environment where you don’t have to cater to their overinflated demands.

  • 33. Karen  |  May 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    There are more than 10,000 children on the waiting lists for CPS magnet, classical, gifted, and selective enrollment schools.

  • 34. No more longer day  |  May 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    @Angie…. Would CTU strongly disagree, had the plans for QUALITY of day (not quantity) included gym, art and music for every school?

  • 35. Angie  |  May 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    @34. No more longer day: Where is the money for all that? It’s all being spent on CTU salaries, raises and pensions.

  • 36. No more longer day  |  May 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Where is the money for longer day?

  • 37. Angie  |  May 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    @36. No more longer day: “Where is the money for longer day?”

    You are already getting it by working less hours than teachers in other cities for the same salary as them.

  • 38. JulieF  |  May 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I think Linda Lutton reported recently in talking abou the U of C research on charters that they did find evidence that charters were “skimming” ie taking kids from neighborhood schools who had slightly higher incomes and more engaged parents.

    The problem is, as a CPS parent of two, that the program seems inevitably to lead to a starving of neighborhood schools, especially those most at risk. When they talk about underenrollment, what they mean is that they’ve moved enough kids to charters the the neighborhood school doesn’t have enough kids to stay open, so it gets closed.

    Teacher turnover at charters seems a real problem. I know a young woman who worked at a charter this year in her first year of teaching, and was sent to the hospital for exhaustion after working 12-hour days, plus Saturdays. The pace burns people out, I think.

  • 39. Mich  |  May 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    The starving of neighborhood schools is an issue. The reason of course that the neighborhood school is being fled is that parents don’t feel their kids needs are being met there. And I have had parents tell me they know the scores aren’t better but their kids feel safer and that is worth a lot to them. And because they can have more stringent rules they can remove the kids that aren’t willing to play by them.
    But I do wonder what the district will do to ensure that charters take not only those willing to play by the rules but a variety of those children? They should have to really serve SPED kids who can meet the academics, they should have to use some of the CPS measures for dealing with behavior issues without immediate expulsions, etc. Then I can believe they’re really a neighborhood option.

  • 40. No more longer day  |  May 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    @Angie.. I’m a parent that wants to enjoy her kids every day. If CPS can’t provide good quality programm, I’m happy to have my kids home at a reasonable earlier time and supplement their education myself. Library, music lessons, outside play (since gym is not every day) and a heritage language. I see no reason for them to be in a school enrichment program that is taught by teachers who are not specialized in such subjects. Make it optional please, not mandatory.

  • 41. EdgewaterMom  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    @40 That is great that you can provide that for your children. What about the average CPS student that does not have the option to receive those extras at home? Are they really supposed to make due with a 5.45 minute day?

  • 42. Bookworm  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Middle class and upper middle professional parents mostly shun charters for good reason and seek the most successful CPS magnets and sees. As mentioned on the other thread I think looking at how these rich environments came about is a much better way to create good opportunities for every cps child.
    The charters will quickly cherry pick the most promising poor students leaving those most at risk in the most hopeless options as usual.

  • 43. Mom Tammy  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    @angie, jeez, when are you ever going to get over your obvious hatred of the union? It is hard to take you serious when every post is about the union and how everything is the fault of CTU. get over it. Why not offer some ideas? Even Brizard and Emanuel can admit that the union is not all that is evil and wrong with education.

  • 44. No name  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    @ Angie, I would be interested in knowing where your child goes to school and what they plan for the longer day.

  • 45. No name  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    @ Edgewater mom,

    No the average cps student should not have to may due, but then cps should fully fund the day. That is the mom’s point, fund the day OR send my kids home. Don’t see why this is so difficult. Don’t keep kids longer without an actual plan in place.

  • 46. No name  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm


  • 47. No more longer day  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    @Edgewatermom, I did say “make it optional”. Do not spend the public money on kids, who’s parents want to and can provide extra enrichment at home. Focus on the kids that really need it and give them maybe sliding scale fee afterschool programs that offer that enrichment. Isn’t Preschool for all already somewhat doing that? Must be, since my white, non immigrant, English speaking kid could not get into the program. So we paid for private and it was not cheap, but we saw the value and made the accomodations to be able to do so.

  • 48. Old timer  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Here’s a shocking plan….instead for worrying about the millions the teachers may get in raises why not worry about the billions spent foolishly by our city? Teacher raises and negoations would not even be an issue if millions were not spent each year on private tax breaks, low contracts to “friends”, land leased from the city for $1, etc. etc. the teachers did not cause the city to be broke. Why blame them for the state of the city? Why not start with the Tiff Fiasco? Or the property all over Chicago being leased for the bargain basement price of a buck? Maybe if these type of incentives were cancelled then education could be funded, including teacher raises? How much did we spend bidding for the Olympics? Billions and MOST was not covered by private donations. Or how much money are we spending this weekend to host NATO and the increaded security? I bet the money spent on this would have easily covered teacher raises and music and art in 600 schools! Our priorities are screwed up if we are naive to think the teachers caused CPS to go broke.

  • 49. No name  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    AMEN! Old timer

  • 50. Nancy  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm


    As old timer pointed out, I am a little bit shocked that more has not been written about the funding of education and how priorities are placed in Chicago. The easy answer seems to be “those damn greedy teachers” but when the city is looked at as a whole there are billions that are spent on pet projects which could be used for education. It seems the quick answer to blame potential teacher raises as why cps is is trouble but cps is part of the city and there is a lot that seem to never be focused on in your posts or observations about the state of cps. Wondering why?

  • 51. Old timer  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    “Atop the agenda this weekend will be Afghanistan, where America is embroiled in its eleventh year of war. Lip service to austerity, in the form of “smart defense” and “burden sharing,” will also be given at the summit, which is expected to cost the city of Chicago about $55 million”.

    55 million, seems like this was a good place to start funding the longer day and raises…….PRIORITIES!

  • 52. Just thinking  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    “Chicago’s TIF system annually absorbs between $250 million and $300 million in property taxes that would otherwise flow into CPS’ coffers. Instead, that money is largely funneled into select city wards”

    Chicago Sun Times

  • 53. EdgewaterMom  |  May 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    @42 I completely agree with this! My dd is lucky enough to attend a wonderful magnet school that does a great job of teaching kids from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, with the majority receiving free or reduced lunch. Granted, the fact that it is a magnet school means that you are more likely to have involved parents, because they have to jump through hoops (and get lucky) to attend the school.

    I would like to see CPS investing time and money into trying to duplicate this at other schools.

  • 54. Nancy  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    @ Angie….here is where teacher raises should come from. Here is where libraries, art, music, and language class funding SHOUKD come from.

    “TIF funds (including subsidies to developers) have benefited such corporations as Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Created in 2006, the LaSalle Central TIF has funneled millions of dollars to major corporations – United Airlines, Miller Coors, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group among others – in many cases to renovate corporate offices.

    The LaSalle Central TIF has over $36 million in available funds this year.  It’s expected to collect $1.5 billion over its 23-year life – about half of which will come from property tax that would otherwise go to CPS – for use in an area that comprises some of the city’s most prime real estate.”

  • 55. Sped Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    “And because [charters] can have more stringent rules they can remove the kids that aren’t willing to play by them.” Note that it’s not always a case of “willingness” to follow rules for kids with certain disabilities that get in the way of following certain rules. Sometimes the kids aren’t “able” to play by all rules, especially when their disability is not being addressed and supported. Just saying.

  • 56. Sped Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    “[Charters] should have to really serve SPED kids who can meet the academics, they should have to use some of the CPS measures for dealing with behavior issues without immediate expulsions, etc.” The sped law requires public schools to educate all students, not just those “who can meet the academics.” Which I guess you mean no dummies?

  • 57. Sped Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    @ 33. Karen | May 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    “There are more than 10,000 children on the waiting lists for CPS magnet, classical, gifted, and selective enrollment schools.”

    There are no “waiting lists” for these schools. Charters might maintain waiting lists, and the media reports the list is long, however, I don’t believe they’ve ever turned up evidence or tried to investigate. I would also suppose there are duplicate names among schools for kids who are seeking enrollment in a charter and want to expand their odds of getting at least one offer.

  • 58. Mich  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Actually @SPED Mom I didn’t mean “no dummies.” What I meant was many of the charters have very specific academic programs so the children going there ought to be on board with those programs. And I don’t think there’s anything more inherently wrong with that than with selective enrollment programs in regular CPS.

    And in terms of playing by the rules, there’s a yes but even to that. Yes, when an SPED child acts out the disability ought to be taken into account within reason. You get a pass on speaking out, having tantrums, needing to get up and move, you don’t get a pass on skipping school continually, bringing weapons, etc. When you have to kid next to you saying he’s going to bring a knife and cut you every day (and yes, that has happened personally) you don’t get a pass because the child is SPED. If that is a situation that cannot be addressed then that is where in classroom is not the best accommodation.

    And so you know I also have a SPED child with behavioral issues. And choosing a school was something I spent a lot of time on because not every school was a fit even if we got in but that has been something I’ve liked about CPS so far was we COULD find a school that worked well.

  • 59. cpsobsessed  |  May 19, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    @nancy, I went down a similar mental path today.
    As I think about whether Brizard has “admitted defeat” part of me has a fantasy that he’d stand up and say “how am I suppose to fix your schools when YOU guys have voted in politicians who don’t fund education?!?!”
    Illinois has crappy education funding. Perhaps the city does too. We don’t have low taxes, so the money must be spent on something. What??
    The problem is that everything we think is a stupid expense, somebody somewhere thinks it makes sense. That’s the uphill battle. I don’t know the answer. But that’s what Raise Your Hand is working towards — holding the politicians more accountable and continuing to yell for more education funding.
    Everyone — feel free to lend them a hand.

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  • 60. Angie  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    @44. No name: “@ Angie, I would be interested in knowing where your child goes to school and what they plan for the longer day.”

    Both of my kids’ schools already have recess, art, music, etc. so they are adding time for core subjects. I’m fine with that. And before you ask, most of the nice extras are paid for by fundraising.

    @54. Nancy : “@ Angie….here is where teacher raises should come from. Here is where libraries, art, music, and language class funding SHOUKD come from.”

    I agree that TIF funds should go to schools before major corporations. If the union fought to get art and music in every school, to provide the necessary repairs for the school buildings, and threatened to strike because of something like the SPED kids losing their aides, I would support that. But I must have missed it among their demands.

    BTW, a question about TIF funds would be a good one to ask Brizard at that meeting CPSO is attending. Why aren’t these funds used for education?

  • 61. cpsobsessed  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    I always feel kind of ignorant talking about TIFs. Isnt that the mayor’s domain? It’s not like brizard controls the city budget….

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  • 62. Observer  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Easy out answer Angie! Disappointed in your response. Union hater for sure. Tsk Tsk

  • 63. Teacher SICK of lies  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    @ Angie, why don’t you take time to read and research before commenting. Actually pay is only one of the many issues CTU is pushing with this contract. The union has never threatened to strike based on pay alone ( I DARE you to disprove this statement!). Below are some of the issues on the table:
    Recognize That Class Size Matters: Drastically reduce class size. We currently have one of the largest class sizes in the state. This greatly inhibits the ability of our students to learn and thrive.
    2. Educate The Whole Child: Invest to ensure that all schools have recess and physical education equipment, healthy food offerings, and classes in art, theater, dance, and music in every school. Offer world languages and a variety of subject choices. Provide every school with a library and assign the commensurate number of librarians to staff them.
    3. Create More Robust Wrap-around Services: The Chicago Public Schools system (CPS) is far behind recommended staffing levels suggested by national professional associations. The number of school counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists must increase dramatically to serve Chicago’s population of low-income students. Additionally, students who cannot afford transportation costs need free fares.
    4. Address Inequities In Our System: Students and their families recognize the apartheid-like system managed by CPS. It denies resources to the neediest schools, uses discipline policies with a disproportionate harm on students of color, and enacts policies that increase the concentrations of students in high poverty and racially segregated schools.
    5. Help Students Get Off To A Good Start: We need to provide age- appropriate (not test-driven) education in the early grades. All students should have access to pre-kindergarten and to full-day kindergarten.
    6. Respect And Develop The Professionals: Teachers need salaries comparable to others with their education and experience. They need time to adequately plan their lessons and collaborate with colleagues, as well as the autonomy and shared decision-making to encourage professional judgment. CPS needs to hire more teaching assistants so that no students fall through the cracks.
    7. Teach All Students: We need stronger commitments to address the disparities that exist due to our lack of robust programs for emergent bilingual students and services for students faced with a variety of special needs.
    8. Provide Quality School Facilities: No more leaky roofs, asbestos-lined bathrooms, or windows that refuse to shut. Students need to be taught in facilities that are well-maintained and show respect for those who work and go to school there.
    9. Partner With Parents: Parents are an integral part of a child’s education. They need to be encouraged and helped in that role.
    10. Fully Fund Education: A country and city that can afford to take care of its affluent citizens can afford to take care of those on the other end of the income scale.

  • 64. Angie  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    @62. Observer: “Union hater for sure.”

    Yes, and I never claimed not to be. So?

  • 65. cpsobsessed  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Wait, so pay isn’t on the list?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 66. Katy  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    A study by researchers at John Hopkins University found that as many as 15 percent of U.S. students miss at least one school day in 10 and have gone undetected because of the way attendance is measured. Recent studies of children in New York, Chicago and other cities suggest that attendance may predict a student’s academic progress as effectively as test scores do. (NYT)

  • 67. Teacher  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    CPSobsessed, of course it is (pay) but it is not the only thing being nego. It is often potrayed as if teachers are only after raises. Raise alone won’t stop a strike. Teachers actually care about the students and the whole environment.

  • 68. Katy  |  May 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    @64 VERY mature….

  • 69. Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 10:03 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.

  • 70. Mom  |  May 19, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    @63 teacher,

    Thank you for posting some of the union issues on the table. I am glad to see that the union is not just looking at pay but also other real issues in schools like class size, etc.

  • 71. Momhazel  |  May 19, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    I have heard that part of the union negotiating include a freeze on opening new charters and investing in the neighborhood schools. Interesting

  • 72. KatieO  |  May 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    If you haven’t seen this movie, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman–a movie made by educators and parents in New York City–I recommend watching. It gives an excellent overview of why charter schools are not the answer. See the full film for free here:

    Also, the CTU is limited over what it can officially bargain over in negotiations with pay being the main item as imposed by law. They cannot even bring up class size issues or, as we all know, the length of the day (thanks to SB7). But regardless of the “official” reasons, the CTU is fighting for an equitable education for all, as evidenced in their report which I hope everyone here has read: If CPS teachers walk next year, it will be because they do not feel they can give their students what they desperately need. Here are my feelings on the direction our schools are going in and why I refuse to teach in Rahm’s CPS:

  • 73. LR  |  May 20, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Thanks for sharing the CTU list. I think #8 and #9 are most critical. I am disappointed that CPS is trying to balance the budget gap almost entirely at the expense of capital improvements. That’s nuts. Neglecting buildings that have already been neglected for years is just going to put CPS in a deeper hole.

    And #9 (teachers partnering with parents) is something that I don’t think is talked about enough. Too often I think parents see education as a one-way street that begins at the teacher and ends at the child. Therefore, when students fail, it must be the teachers’ fault. Forcing teachers to take an even bigger role by making the day longer only makes this problem worse. Education is a two way street and parents should share feelings of responsibility when their kids fail – or succeed. I know I’m preaching, but I I think CPS has sort of given up on parents. At least, that is the feeling I get with their “big decisions” over the past couple years. Breakfast in the classroom = parents don’t feed their kids, therefore we will do it. Longer day = parents don’t monitor their kids (academically or otherwise), therefore we will do it. I wish their solution would be to somehow try to bring parents in more rather than forcing us out.

  • 74. chicagodad  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:05 am

    @63, THANKYOU Teacher SICK of lies for a fact based SMACK DOWN of the anti union arm chair quarterback drivel that some here think will pass the smell test. CTU is the only one at the bargaining table with real solutions to the actual problems. Brizard was an abject failure in Rochester and is doing no better here in spite of having a better propaganda machine to hide behind.

  • 75. chicagodad  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:14 am

    @73, When you look at Brizards miserable performance on parent engagement in Rochester where he pissed them all off, the position of the Broad Foundation (where he was “trained”) on marginalizing parents while pretending to engage them, and CPS failure for the first time ever to support the LSC’s under Brizard it becomes obvious that parent voices are viewed as an inconvenience to those who think they know more than parents do about what’s best for our kids, and desperately want to drive a wedge between parents and teachers as a way of defending their autocratic power.

  • 76. cpsobsessed  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

    “CPS failure for the first time ever to support the LSC’s under Brizard”

    What does this refer to?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 77. chicagodad  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

    @66 Katy, to the best of my knowledge, and logically since the data does not exist in an intelligible let alone usable form, the failure to incorporate data on absenteeism into a VAM based teacher evaluation system greatly reduces it’s already questionable accuracy and therefore further invalidates it’s use for that purpose. Absenteeism data does not track in school absences such as cutting class or leaving early after having been marked present, an additional shortcoming. This is yet another excellent reason for a strike in the fall.

  • 78. WendyK  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:37 am

    @63 – While CTU would like those issues to be on the table I don’t believe they are. That is because the state law that passed last year (SB7) took away the union’s right to negotiate over almost everything and gives CPS unilateral ability to choose to open up negotiations to anything beyond pay. If CPS has opened up the negotiations beyond pay, they haven’t made it public. CTU cannot negotiate or strike over things like class size, facilities, and all the things you mention. They can only strike over pay based on the law that passed, which puts them in a pretty bad position, in my opinion, and fosters the public perception that they only care about pay.

  • 79. cpsobsessed  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I love the list, but calling those “real” solutions given the existing CPS budget feels like a bit of a stretch. It feels like an awesome wish list to me.
    A wish list that could come true in part if teachers AND parents hold politicians accountable for education funding.

    I can’t imagine any sane human would agree with that list. That doesn’t put money in CPS’ pockets to make it happen.

    Likewise, is it fair to judge teachers on raw tests scores given the lack of school and parent resources? Probably not.

    We have a meagerly funded district with a lot of parents who can’t / won’t engage to help their kids. Until the magical funding happens, (that we need to keep shouting for — and huge kudos to the union for bringing that front andcenter) what do we do NOW, in the meantime? And can’t teachers be evaluated on their efforts to do so?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 80. chicagodad  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:51 am

    @76, here you are!

    The letter suggests that CPS has hindered grassroots recruitment efforts by failing to collaborate with independent groups and by requiring a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain school-by-school candidate data, when this information had been routinely distributed in the past.”

    AND: “As of March 2012, nobody has received any notification from Brizard or CPS on behalf of the Local School Council elections. But if “New Schools” deserves massive publicity from CPS, then the blackout on news about the Local School Council elections constitutes another example of sabotage by the Brizard administration of the city’s real public schools. And as the details described in the March 7 press release by LSC supporters show, the CPS LSC relations office is deliberately sabotaging the development of the LSC elections, by the unprecedented act of requiring Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests for information that for years was published on the CPS website and made available to the public during the weeks prior to the LSC elections.

    As a result, a group of 27 local organizations is demanding that the deadline for parents and others to file to serve on local school councils be extended to March 22.”

  • 81. chicagodad  |  May 20, 2012 at 10:03 am

    @78, SPOT ON WendyK!

  • 82. cpsobsessed  |  May 20, 2012 at 10:09 am

    I can’t read it from my blackberry, but why would cps be trying to squelch the lsc’s?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 83. mom2  |  May 20, 2012 at 10:20 am

    @78 – If CTU can only strike over pay, then if they strike, it will be over pay. They can’t say they are for all these other things and then strike and expect people to think it isn’t over pay. If CPS even makes small changes to attempt to improve some of the things listed in @63, then teachers should not strike (if those things are really their goals). What a terrible situation for everyone.

  • 84. Angie  |  May 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

    @63. Teacher SICK of lies: Are these actual, real items in CTU contract that will be negotiated item by item?

    If they are real, and not just a lot of hot air, then I have a problem with parts of the items #4,5,6 and 9 because they are, essentially, removing the teachers’ accountability for the results of their work in lower grades.

    Autonomy of the teachers to teach however they want combined with no testing to show the child’s progress would only work if 100% of the teachers are very good and commited to their work, and we know that is not the case.

    Discipline measures that disproportionally affect the minority students imply that these kids are not capable of learning how to properly behave in school. Aside from this being a pretty racist assumption, it also removes the teachers’ and administration responsibility for teaching these kids the very things they need to be successful in school.

    There is no legal way to force parents to be a part of their childs education, and you know very well that in some families it is not going to happen, so this is yet another attempt to shift the responsibility away from the teachers.

    OTOH, I hope that the union negotiators can get CPS to commit to # 1,2,3 and 8, because that will really make a difference in the sad state of CPS schools.

  • 85. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 20, 2012 at 11:12 am

    #82~yes, Rahm and Brizard don’t believe in LSCs. They dont want the LSC to have say over budget and principals at the schools. They didn’t think it would turn into the ugly mess they had to squirm to fix…kinda like the tutoring fiasco ~trying to get out of that w/out a lot of backlash. ONce again, Rahm & Brizard didn’t think there would be engaged, educated parents that are watching…They make this mistake time and time again…INSANE!

  • 86. local  |  May 20, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Angie – I’d love to see some of your energy put into fixing the healthcare system, poverty, agism, sexism, racism — all the discrimination and bad stuff out there. You are very clear. I disagree with most your point of views, but your focus could definitely spread beyond public education.

  • 87. liza  |  May 20, 2012 at 11:47 am

    @84 Angie No, the union is not permitted to bring up any other issue other than pay thanks to SB7. Teachers and CTU cannot bargain over other issues unless CPS agrees to open those discussions. You can’t force parents to take an interest or invest in their childtren’s education. As far as I know, nobody is suggesting that minority children are any less capable of behaving or learning. However, no one has been able to fix the achievement gap without getting parents on board, or by providing a lot of expensive support services, i.e. parent education, intensive early education programs and remediation programs, social services, etc. I don’t really think it’s another attempt to “shift the blame” away from teachers. Frankly, I’m tired of being held responsible for the failure of school systems across the country to actually do something to fix the problem (other than blaming “bad” teachers), the failure of parents who refuse to take any responsibility for the success and/or failure of their own children, and the money wasted on programs that are touted as the silver bullet to get things on track. I didn’t create this problem, all I do as a teacher, and have ever done, is deal with the realities of it and keep on fighting the battle to provide an education to children.

    I don’t know, Angie, you certainly seem to have no problem placing the blame on teachers and the union for the mess, but you never seem to have the solution to what teachers are doing wrong or how to fix it. Your premise that if there were better teachers,no union, and teachers didn’t get that exorbitant pay, all these problems would magically disappear seems a little naive. If you have a plan or can find these miracle worker teachers who will work for less money, maybe they can then instruct the rest of us (teachers and the other major urban school districts that are facing the same type of issues) as to what exactly we are all doing wrong, I’m all ears!

  • 88. local  |  May 20, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Mich – About BD kids. Public schools (even charters) are required to address those needs. If the needs cannot be addressed and the school has truly tried, then a different placement is needed, perhaps at a therapeutic school. From what I’ve seen, heard and read, most regular and charter schools do not make a real attempt to appropriately serve BD students. Which CPS schools have you found that do well? That’s important information, and I bet you made massive efforts to find the right place for your student.

  • 89. chicagodad  |  May 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Angie, your lack of knowledge on education is astounding, as is your misrepresentation of others positions. In particular, (#5) how can any sane person possibly think that early childhood education that is age/developmentally appropriate (which means not test driven) is teachers avoiding accountability? What it really means is teachers want to do the right thing for their students and be held accountable for that, not for garbage that impairs teachers ability to educate children. FYI, law enforcement agrees with the teachers on this point.
    #4 The Emmett school on the west side out performs every charter in the city and is in a crumbling building with out dated and insufficient materials. CPS now focus’s on charters at teh expense of all else.
    #9 Just because you think some parents can’t be reached doesn’t excuse us all from trying to reach those that can be helped to help their kids. Talk about racist, that’s all this excuse is.
    #6 putting pay aside, everything else is proven to be a big part of what is needed for teachers to be effective, there’s no question about this at all. It’s what happens in the best private schools and more significantly, in our DOD schools that have closed the achievement gap. They have all the things in the list up and running and their success is all the proof anyone should need. All DOD teachers are unionized. Blaming unions is a half built straw man that only appeals to the mal-informed.

  • 90. cpsobsessed  |  May 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    “However, no one has been able to fix the achievement gap without getting parents on board, or by providing a lot of expensive support services, i.e. parent education, intensive early education programs and remediation programs, social services, etc. I don’t really think it’s another attempt to “shift the blame” away from teachers.”

    So then can brizard use this same rationale?
    “This aint gonna happen people, until you get me some serious $$$. In the meantime I’ll try to get some $$ off Bill Gates.”

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 91. Tim  |  May 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    This thread is becoming unreadable. Can only imagine (and fear) what this blog will be like if we continue to drift towards a strike. Lots of vitriol and namecalling, I guess.

    Make no mistake: a strike would be a catastrophe. Yet that’s where we seem to be headed. No solutions, no compromise, and students left to sit at home while everyone else in the region, state, and nation learn. A strike is the one sure way to drive people even more to private schools and the suburbs. Act like adults for once, sit the f#ck down, and work it out in a way that won’t please both sides, but that won’t cause the system to meltdown. Is that really too much to ask?

  • 92. 7:45 early start time appeal  |  May 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I think the fluffy cuddly kitten and puppy should be changed to
    Mama Lion and Hyena by the tone of the latest rrrrwww!

  • 93. Momhazel  |  May 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    @ Tim, the suburbs has similar issues with unions, pay, accountability, etc and teachers have gone on strike in the past few years.

  • 94. Momhazel  |  May 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Angie– you REALLY disagree with #9?,! Are you kidding me!

    Partner With Parents: Parents are an integral part of a child’s education. They need to be encouraged and helped in that role.

    So…you don’t want parents held accountable? Jeez…what a sad state for any teacher “lucky” to be saddled with your offspring.

  • 95. cpsobsessed  |  May 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I think the point is — how does one hold parents accountable?

    I saw karen lewis say something to the effect of “until we look at ourselves as a society and acknowledge that this is messed up (meaning parents whose kids are realllly hard to educate because of their home life) then we can’t make stides in education.”

    She said it better than I did. And I agree with it.

    But it’s not gonna happen in our lifetime as long as our country is split on funding priorities and sweeping social programs.

    As a liberal type (1997 altima, not limousine-liberal) I would love to see that day come. I’ll pay higher taxes. I’ll give up other stuff in the budget. But I just don’t see it coming.

    So what, what, what happens in the meantime?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 96. Stevel  |  May 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    You miss the point ANGIE!

    “There is no legal way to force parents to be a part of their childs education, and you know very well that in some families it is not going to happen, so this is yet another attempt to shift the responsibility away from the teachers.”….says Angie

    The POINT is the responsibility is SHARED! It is not 100% on the teacher. Parents, teachers, kids, and cps share the responsibility. In fact I would argue PARENTS have most of the responsibility. As parents do we really want it any other way? Why are parents so willing to have kids, then as fast as they can blink give responsibility to someone else? This says far more negative about parents than teachers. I guess you want teachers to be at your house each morning to make sure your kid is up and dressed in time for school? And back at your house at 5pm to make sure homework and studying is done, and how about again at 7pm to make sure tv is turned off and a healthy dinner is eaten, and maybe back at your house for bedtime? Heck, why don’t the teacher just take your kid home, that way you have NO responsibility when the kid does not do as well as expected.

  • 97. From experience  |  May 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Correct!!! no matter how brilliant a teacher is, things like attendance, study habits, nutrition, sleep, home life can make or break a child. There is only so much a teacher, can and should do.
    Think back to our own education, no matter how great a teacher was in math if I didn’t study, do homework, and go to tutoring I would have never passes any math class. Thankfully my parents stayed on top of me and I survived. 🙂

  • 98. Shelly  |  May 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I am thinking about poor Mrs. Masud from Spain, my Spanish teacher from high school. Thank goodness they never used any of my scores to evaluate or pay her! I would have been ashamed. No matter how brilliant she was as a teacher (and the patience of a saint) after two years of Spanish I could barely complete a sentence. Sure would not have wanted kids like me determining my ability to provide for a family!

  • 99. cpsobsessed  |  May 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    When I was in the suburbs last week I talked to my sis-in-law (Naperville teacher for about 20 years) and her daughter (fresh out of college, looking for a teaching job!) about teacher evaluations being tied to test scores.

    Neither of them really know about my blog, except in a vague sense.

    They both had the immediate reaction that it’s too hard to measure because the kids really vary, etc.

    The point they both made was that if a teacher is doing all the right inputs, in theory, they should be getting the right outputs (test scores.) Both felt that having teachers evaluated a few times a year, using specific guidelines would be something that could work.

    Do teachers here agree with something like that? I know a few people have proposed it here, but can’t recall if it was teachers?

    My neice pointed out (still can’t believe she’s gonna teach — I still think of her as 9 years old) the difference between the teachers she’s student taught with – one who keeps it lively, walks the room to see who is stuck, who needs help, etc vs another who is all about “desk work” and sits at her desk reading, oblivious to the kids’ work. Should both those people be paid the same? That makes me mad if they are.

    As a data person, I like the idea of looking at AYP over a few years for teachers, BUT as I thought about it I agree with their notion of assessing teachers on whether they’re doing things well. That IS what they can control, and is how most people (except perhaps salespeople) are assessed at work.

    As was pointed out here – very costly to do it right, unfortunately.

  • 100. anonymouseteacher  |  May 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I completely agree with frequent observations. I would also think that if a district wants to truly develop its teachers, there’d be non-evaluative peer observations going on as well in order to improve instructional practice. And as for the teacher who sits at her desk all the time–there is NO possible way to be a good teacher and do that. That is a problem the administration must deal with.
    The school my kids will be at until we leave Chicago at the end of the year had a principal (until she recently left) who was in every single classroom nearly every single day the entire year. Even if it was just to pop in and see for a minute or two what was going on. That kind of thing goes a long way towards a principal really knowing what is going on. Anyone can put on a good show twice a year for an eval, but those more frequent short visits can tell a lot if used together with the more in depth observations.
    I personally believe test scores should factor in some form in an eval. I have been asked in numerous interviews which is more important: a good lesson or student learning. Obviously student learning is of utmost importance. Yes, good inputs should be getting good outputs, but what happens when you *think* you’ve presented this fabulous lesson and the kids don’t learn the concept? That means it wasn’t a good lesson at all and needs to be redone. As long as student learning trumps all else, I agree with the idea that a teacher who is implementing good instruction is a good teacher. Does that make sense?

  • 101. anonymouseteacher  |  May 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    As for parent involvement, there are many ways to increase this! It is not a hopeless cause. I used to do home visits and that went a LONG way towards building true and deep trust with parents. Why not have this as an option, at least in areas where it is safe enough to do so and where teachers are willing to do it? I don’t think you can force it though. We have to stop thinking in terms of one size fits all and have a virtual menu of ways to address a host of challenges.

    I am sure there are a ton of other meaningful ways that pay off handsomely in the future that build school-home relationships. I have heard of some community oriented schools where they have everything from school physicals, employment services for parents, babysitting in the school building so parents can attend ESL classes or volunteer in the school, etc.

  • 102. CPS Parent  |  May 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    @70 Mom – The union issues @63 may be on the union’s table but not the CPS CTU bargaining table. Illinois Bill HB7 forbids any issue other than wages and benefits to be discussed unless CPS brings them up which I’m sure they won’t do.

  • 103. CLB  |  May 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    @78 @63 @102 SB7 (Public Act 97-0008) does not change the ability of CTU to bring up non-wage/benefits issues. Section 115/4.5 existed since 2003 and the new amendments make minimal changes to that section. The 2011 law does create a fact-finding panel (sec. 115/12) that can propose a settlement after a period, but excludes non-wage/benefits from that settlement. The new measures can delay a strike by at least 105 days without generating any impartial fact-finding on the non-wage issues. However, CTU and CPS can have a separate dispute resolution panel to mediate on those issues.

  • 104. CLB  |  May 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    @82 @85, I can’t say whether disdain for LSCs is a Rahm/Brizard change since I moved here in July 2010, but I can say that from how the FY2011 and FY2012 budgets have been handed down that CPS wants to limit the time that LSCs can consult with their communities. Of the 12 LSCs that I surveyed, read the minutes of, or had contact with, only 1 was able to present the budget at a meeting separately from the LSC vote on the budget this year. At Mayer, the receipt-to-approval time has been a week or less both years. Remember that CPS would mail the budgets to principals in the past; apparently, email attachments don’t work.

    By setting such tight turn-around times, CPS makes it hard for the LCSs to analyze any changes in detail. I’m sure some principals don’t mind since this limits the parent/community questioning, but I’m sure others don’t like having to shove the budget through the LSC, with the negative impact that might have on their reviews. CPS’s own manuals for LSCs encourage them to circulate budgets and SIPs to the community for comment, but CPS’s actual practice makes this almost impossible.

    The FOIA fiasco over candidates was something of a red herring — that info was available at each school; the journalists wanted CPS to give them the candidates names together, as had been done in the past, rather than have to go to each school.

  • 105. teacher  |  May 21, 2012 at 8:41 am

    The fact that Brizard is backing this so excitedly is what kills me. A true leader for our city should not be looking to privatize our public schools. It’s another reason why teachers do not trust him as our leader. He continues to show his true self as the Mayor’s handpicked appointee. If the money that CPS put into these charters went into neighborhood schools, there could be a difference. By privatizing our city who’s getting rich? We see from the academic results that it isn’t the our children receiving a rich curricula.

  • 106. Mich  |  May 21, 2012 at 9:26 am

    @88 – I think overall most schools try, what I’ve found over our 6 years is that it varies depending on both teachers and administrators. We had one year where the aide was switched twice and the teacher expected complete stillness, no talking out of turn, etc. Impossible for my child but the supportive services teams backed up my child in what was and was not reasonable expectations given the situation.
    Some administrators fight harder to keep aides than others. This year ours basically threw up her hands and whatever the administration gave she went with. It was a shock because in years past she’s fought and won several battles with HQ over staffing. Perhaps she’s battle weary?
    I have noticed a change in the support from HQ in supportive services. This year I was basically told in the IEP meeting that anything that didn’t directly affect the academic grades of a child in terms of support was being cut. So if your child can produce a C but is taunted and ostracized because they can’t communicate or they lash out at classmates that is OK to CPS this year. I agree with that part of @63 wish list for bargaining positions, the WHOLE child has to be considered for good long-term outcomes. I don’t understand how CPS can think that not attending to the emotional needs of kids who are currently on par won’t lead to poorer academic outcomes later. Many people noticed severe backsliding in behavior with my child but because we can hold it together for the bulk of the school day they can readily dismiss it. I suppose that’s one good thing for a longer day next year, perhaps they’ll actually have to acknowledge it!

  • 107. Pvt. Mom  |  May 21, 2012 at 10:35 am


    Thanks for posting the link to the documentary, “The Inconvenient Truth behind Waiting for Superman.” I think the central point in all of this is that charter schools were supposed to be about facilitating educational innovations in large bureaucratic school systems by bringing together parents and teachers with a streamlined administration to support their efforts. They have turned into something else these days because of the impact of high stakes testing + the situation of public finance. In theory, I think its a great idea to insert “laboratory schools” into public school systems so long as whatever innovations produced can scale up and out of those schools into the larger system. This doesn’t appear to be happening. So long as we are not working to lift all the boats, we’re going to look back on this wave of “ed reform” as a grievous mistake.

  • 108. Joel  |  May 21, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Just a few thoughts, first about Angie’s comment that there is no legal way to force parents to be involved in the education of their children. I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea in the last years, and more and more, I would love to see there be no legal requirement of public education. In the current climate, education has become a way for politicians, ed policy “experts”, consultants, unions, and others to make money. School is about teaching and learning. In purely economic terms, it will always look like a loser, because the cost-benefit analysis will only show up in intangible ways. So just cut it. Education will then be the domain of an elite class, and America will continue more or less unchanged, except that lots of people will have lower taxes and there won’t be any teachers to slag off. It all just seems to be so vitriolic, so divisive, and so against what education is all about: bringing a community together.
    I’m probably depressed from drinking too much and getting nostalgiac while reading Zimmerman’s book on one-room schoolhouses. I talked to my mom, who was in a one-room in Manitowoc, WI, and her stories were classic. I know simpler times are not always better times, but I’m happy to be able to trip down memory lane with her and get some of my hope back.The “business” of education has killed it, from all aspects.

  • 109. cpsobsessed  |  May 21, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Joel, maybe we can find one state willing to try that as an experiment. 🙂 I know which option my son would choose. No school!

    My mom also went to a one-room school house in Pennsylvania. I’ve asked more about it lately – talk about the need for differntiation. The downside – you better get along with that teacher since they’re your world all day every day for years. Her teacher was obsessed with teaching good penman ship and perfect cursive writing. They spent hours on it.

    Somehow my mom made it to teacher’s college, later through grad school while she was a working mom (no idea how she pulled that off) and made the final cut for Jeopardy recentlyl I tell myself it’ll all work out, but I’m in a bit of an existential crisis about CPS lately.

  • 110. Sorry Off topic  |  May 21, 2012 at 11:19 am

    cross posted at d299 site but not by me but I agree with the post! CPSO please start a thread on this:

    Guatemom said 44 minutes ago

    can we talk about the the new start times of CPS elementary schools ?
    Our school is presently a 9am start time time . Next year we are looking at 7:45am. The majority of parents and children are unhappy with this very early start time. Hopefully our school will appeal this time.
    Kids had trouble with the 8 am start time!
    Our school is a full magnet without bussing. Young children come on public transportation . This means that these young children will be Waiting for a bus in the wee hours of a dark winter morning to get to school . Most children have hours of homework . How are they going to get 8 hours of sleep if they have to be at school at 7:45.
    This is just another plan not thought out well by CPS . Though they do claim some erroneous study done on traffic and safety to back up the staggered start time. I think it is a bunch of Bologna! I find less traffic between 8 & 9 locally to get my child to school .

  • 111. P4T  |  May 21, 2012 at 12:15 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!

  • 112. midschlSCIENCE  |  May 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I think its a great idea to insert “laboratory schools” into public school systems so long as whatever innovations produced can scale up and out of those schools into the larger system. This doesn’t appear to be happening. So long as we are not working to lift all the boats, we’re going to look back on this wave of “ed reform” as a grievous mistake.

    I agree. I spoke w/ a charter school teacher over the weekend who was very adamant that the system at her school (formerly Bunche) is working; that system being holding parents accountable or else the kid goes. I said that sounds awesome and I’m sure those kids are benefitting hugely from her good work. While a policy of exclusion for behavior, commitment, etc. works great for education, it’s a false prophecy for public education.

  • 113. klm  |  May 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm


    I think that the majority of people on this site are middle-class+ people that are debating this issue like people do in the NYT Opinion Section or in a grad school symposium @ U-C rather than looking at things from the point of view of the people for whom “charter schools” were created –the poor, inner-city families (most of all CHILDREN) that have no options in life when it comes to education. If their neighborhood school is a dysfunctional, failure-factory, then sometimes Charters can be a good option –not perfect to many people on this site, but a “good” option (as in ‘any place but here’) for people that have NO OTHER OPTIONS. People can debate right, left and center about effectiveness, finances, etc., but people are missing the point that “Charter Schools” are the only other option many poor families (not just in CPS, but elsewhere) have when faced with a failing neighborhood school.

    CPS, as some may know, has a voluntary program whereby people can voluntarily enroll in a neighborhood school in another part of town in order to create more “integration”. If any people here against Charters are willing to enroll their kids in a neighborhood CPS school in Englewood or Lawndale, then they can be as anti-Charter as they want, as far as I’m concerned. For anybody else against Charters, (this site was created in order to figure out how to get a ‘good’ education in a ‘crappy’ school system, after all) I wonder why you think schools that you would never, ever send your own kids are fine for other kids, but not your own. God forbid there be another option for them.

    People in Glencoe are not enrolling in/wanting Charter Schools –their kids already are given a kick-ass, K12 public education that vitually guarantees an entree into the American middle-class in a postindustrial, brain-centered economy (as long as they just do ‘average’ for that city). Not so for poor, inner-city (e.g. minority) CPS kids.

    We can wait until Heck freezes over for many CPS schools on the South and West sides of town to magically improve, but kids don’t have that long –they need an education NOW. Charters are not perfect, but at least it’s something (and sometimes really does provide a genuinely better educational environment).

  • 114. cpsobsessed  |  May 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Nice post, KLM. I had a lot of that rattling around in might head but couldn’t put it together.
    Datawise, when I look at charters and they are performing at the cps average, that is an improvement compared to the schools in the neighborhoods you mention. One might consider that a success…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 115. JulieF  |  May 21, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Yes, some charters are at the district average, although some are not. But when we take a big chunk of kids out of the neighborhood system, we have two parallel systems–one that is encouraged and invested in, and one that is disinvested in. One that gets new buildings, millions in Gates funding, lots of special attention, the other gets called “failing.” I’m with Ravitch–that’s no way to run a school system, and basically admits defeat with the neighborhood system. Some parents are dissatisfied with some neighborhood schools, but the solution to that is to invest in those schools, not move the kids to privately-run charters who have no accountability or transparency.

    It’s also pretty clear that even when the charters have the “flexibility” to be free of all those horrible, draconian union rules that they hardly do any better with longer days, Saturday classes, military-style discipline, whatever. Certainly doesn’t scream to me to increase their enrollment by 50%.

  • 116. MSS  |  May 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Maybe the best thing the public schools that remain after the next “renaissance” would be to remain as free and open as possible as the charters continue to grow, consolidate, and rip off the taxpayer at student and worker expense. I can plainly see today’s Jesuit style run public funded charter schools becoming less of a haven from the neighborhood HS; an inescapable, inflexible, and costly necessity for families a generation from now.

  • 117. liza  |  May 21, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    cps obsessed: I suppose he can try, but Gates Foundation and other big money tend to support privatization/charter schools rather than the basic public school systems in place in the U.S. I know public education is failing too many kids and families, and I can understand the reluctance of people wanting to invest more money in a failing system. The problem that I have with charters is that in the end, they provide choice for parents, but again the parents who give a rat’s a__ about their kids and are willing to put the time and effort into going through the process of applying to a charter and making sure they and their child are doing what is necessary to be successful. What irks me about the charter system, they tend to ignore the kids who are in the most need – the kids who have parents who can’t or simply don’t do anything to help their kids. I know the cost and scope of fixing public education is mind boggling, but if we don’t ante up somehow and try to break the cycle, too many children will continue to get left behind and repeat the same cycle of poverty. I know this to be true, I am currently teaching the children of former students who have never left the neighborhood, had their first baby at 15, collecting welfare, etc. and have no expectations of their own children doing anything different,

  • 118. CLB  |  May 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    @113 If charters could take all comers from poorly performing neighborhood schools and do better, I’d back them fully. But there are too few charters to meet the demand and many do poorly or middling on performance — this means that lots of children still get left behind now. Charters as experimental schools are fine; but charters as effective substitutes for poor local schools is a pipe-dream.

  • 119. Pvt. Mom  |  May 22, 2012 at 7:56 am

    I will admit that I haven’t done all my research on this, but I have read that charter school construction has been backed by Wall Street investors making use of the “new markets tax credit” and this has provided an excellent rate of return for investors over a relatively short horizon. If this is the true reason behind all of the cash flowing into charters (apart from big foundational players like Gates) then I’m really worried. This is not a sustainable alternative to properly funding public education and it also may hurt private schools as well because charters have been effective in pulling from private and public funding sources in a financial model that neither type of school has. I still have much more research to do on this topic, but I am beginning to be very concerned about the long term erosion of the equity and sustainability of our school system— such that it is!

  • 120. Mayfair Dad  |  May 22, 2012 at 8:16 am

    @ 113. Well stated.

  • 121. CLB  |  May 22, 2012 at 8:21 am

    @119 I’m not sure how much new construction is involved in Chicago; I thought that most charters were leasing space. In NYC, hedge funds execs are supportive of charters, but most were doing so in a philanthropic capacity, not as for-profit investments since the charters were non-profits. I’m sure some private equity money is going into some for-profit schools, but I don’t think it represents the balance of the money put into charters.

  • 122. cpsobsessed  |  May 22, 2012 at 8:57 am

    My understanding too is the charter money is non-profit. As someone here pointed out, charter execs and admin are getting nice salaries, but that’s part of what charters and reformers buy into – higher pay for good performers. And if you don’t cut it, you’re out.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 123. HS Mom  |  May 22, 2012 at 9:19 am

    @113 KLM great post. You have echoed this again and I hear you.

    @115 Julie “Some parents are dissatisfied with some neighborhood schools, but the solution to that is to invest in those schools, not move the kids to privately-run charters who have no accountability or transparency”.

    Yes that is one solution. A solution that does happen in better neighborhoods. Not always a viable one in all neighborhoods. I certainly don’t blame parents for searching out charters. Heck, many even prefer “longer days, Saturday classes and military-style discipline”.

    People want charters. Accountability, transparency? I’m not sure that I care. What can you do for my child?

  • 124. klm  |  May 22, 2012 at 9:28 am


    So what are you saying? Maybe we should get rid of magnets and SE CPS schools, since they don’t admit everybody that applies? No LaSalle, McDade, Lenart, Disney, Whitney Young, …. They don’t take everybody that applies, so I guess kids from places like Lawndale and Garfield Park that go to these high-achieving schools should have to just get a substandard “ghetto” public education along with the majority of the kids where they live, since theit families are poor and don’t have the money to live in Northbrook –in the name of “fairness”?

    If demand does not meet supply, doesn’t that in itself show that many inner-city Chicagoans WANT charter schools for their kids? If charter schools were viewed as a “bad” option, there wouldn’t be so much demand for something “better” (even if that means a perceived safer, more structured environment, even sometimes without significantly higher ISATs). Hence, the plans for MORE Charters in CPS. CPS is simply trying to meet demand from parents and kids–isn’t that a good thing?

    It may not be a panacea, but at least it’s SOMETHING. Virtually anything is better than the dysfunctional schools some kids are required to attend.

    Educated, middle-class people have options: private school, some- times (although too rarely) good neighborhood CPS schools (Lincoln, Bell, Blaine, Edgebrook …,schools in places where there isn’t much cheap housing or many poor minority kids), moving to the suburbs (even if it means renting), etc.

    It just seems wrong to me to deny kids that need a better education a possible viable option just because the set-up is not 100% fair 100% of the time. No need to throw out the baby with the bath water.

    For how many generations now have we been waiting for failing inner-city neighborhood schools to improve and been told something that sounds like Elizabeth Taylor on her wedding day: “this time we really do mean it, this is IT! It really’s going to happen….blah, blah, blah”. Meanwhile the average 12th grade black student in America reads and knows math and science no better than the average white 8th grader. I can only imagine that in some neighborhoods in Chicago the kids are 6+ years behind, on average. How is “more of the same” but with maybe a few more teaching aids and more work sheets in any way good for these kids? How many “second” chances are we supposed to give these kinds of schools? Sometimes something’s so broken that it can’t be fixed.

    Why should poor inner-city minority families be required to send their kids to schools that most middle-class people on the Northside or in Suburbia would almost rather cut off their right arm than send their kids (me included).

    Allowing some kids to get a decent education seems better to me than denying it to 100% of kids. Replacing schools that are dysfunctional with ones that are “functional” (even if they don’t magically erase the achievement gap, but merely reduce it) seems more fair to me than throwing kids into places we all know don’t work.

  • 125. IB obsessed formerly Gawker  |  May 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

    klm I just finished a though provoking book, “Multiplication is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children”, by Lisa Delpit, a MacArthur genius award winner. I thought of you while reading it.

  • 126. IB obsessed formerly Gawker  |  May 22, 2012 at 10:44 am

    p.s. “thought provoking” Check it out. Google Delpit, she’s interesting, a former NCLB champion who now thinks it’s a complete failure.

  • 127. klm  |  May 22, 2012 at 11:06 am


    Thanks! I’ll “Kindle” it and Google her.

    We are so often on the same page about these things.

    Also, there’s a wonder book on the achievement gap, “No Exuses –Changing the Racial Gap in Learning” by Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom. which is equal parts depressing and hopeful.

  • 128. Pvt. Mom  |  May 22, 2012 at 11:48 am

    @121 & 122. Of course charters are “non-profit” and some people are outright donating money to help charter schools. What I am referring to is something called the “new markets tax credit.”

    Basically, “the new markets tax credit program attracts investment capital to low-income communities by permitting individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their Federal income tax return in exchange for making equity investments in specialized financial institutions called Community Development Entities (CDEs). The credit totals 39 percent of the original investment amount and is claimed over a period of seven years (five percent for each of the first three years, and six percent for each of the remaining four years).” CDEs have been very involved in financing charter school construction. You can search around the net for various schools that have been funded through this vehicle.

    What I was suggesting in my earlier post is that investors receive several benefits by including CDEs as part of their overall investment strategy. As we saw with the role that mortgage-backed securities played in the recent financial meltdown, increased demand for this kind of investment vehicle could work to increase support for the charter movement. Again, I am not opposed to charters in theory but I am becoming increasingly concerned about our will, as a society, to properly fund an equitable and high-quality public education system for all.

  • 129. For Qualified Teachers in every CPS classroom  |  May 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    FYI – TFA is at many, many CPS neighborhood schools, not just charters. CPS has an annual contract with TFA, and hires hundreds of TFAs, and sends most to underperforming schools where they do damage by the mere fact that they are untrained and transient. You can’t improve education when you’re only around for a year or two (many burn out before their commitment). But TFAs are much cheaper to CPS than 4 year Education graduates or Masters candidates. Many administrators hire underqualified TFAs over qualified candidates purely to meet their impossible budget demands. Amen to the court ruling that TFAs are unqualified. Now CPS will have to face the fact that they need to hire and pay qualified teachers. TFA may have made sense in the early 90s when there was a teacher shortage. There is not a teacher shortage anymore and students need trained teachers who are in it for the long haul – not transient do gooders who aren’t prepared and don’t last.

  • 130. teacher  |  May 22, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    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.

  • 131. teacher  |  May 22, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

    You teach your kids to work hard in school and respect the teacher – but what if the tables were turned and that highly revered educator started grading you?

    Welcome to parent report cards, a proposed pilot program at two struggling schools in Tennessee. It’s a novel idea, and I’m guessing a small part of teachers the world over consider it long overdue. In fact, it probably is.

    Tennessee wants parents to grade themselves

    But it’s not just an innovative school program, it’s the subject of a state bill that just passed the Tennessee State Legislature and the state’s governor is reportedly inclined to sign. If passed, parents would get a report card to evaluate themselves when they get their child’s report card. So teachers wouldn’t actually grade parents – but parents would grade themselves on how they’re supporting their children’s education at home (stuff like reviewing homework, communicating with the teacher, and attending school conferences) on an E to U (E=excellent, S=satisfactory, N=needs improvement, U=unsatisfactory) basis.

    This is the state’s second major attempt to increase parental involvement in public education. Tennessee has already passed a parental contract which will go into effect next year. It allows schools to give parents contracts specifying how they should support their children’s education.

    Schools can’t do it alone

    If it passes and succeeds, the four-year pilot report card program could be expanded to more (maybe all) schools. Both the contract and the report card programs are more about raising awareness than censuring parents – there’s no real bite. Signing the contract is voluntary and there’s no penalty for failing to uphold it. Even if parents give themselves straight U’s, such “failure” has no external repercussions.

    The point, however, is important – and one the legislature is trying to drive home: when parents get involved, kids are more successful at school – with better grades, better staying power, and a better chance of attending college.

    If your school sent home such a contract, would you sign it? If you had to grade yourself right now on reviewing your child’s homework each night and attending school meetings, would you get an E or U? You can tell me – I won’t judge. In fact, no one should; the point is to get us thinking.

  • 132. MSS  |  May 22, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    “If demand does not meet supply, doesn’t that in itself show that many inner-city Chicagoans WANT charter schools for their kids?”

    Sure they want what’s better for their kids, but if you apply market strategies and “competition” to a big ticket tax funded item like education, the long term looks scary. Charter consolidation, mergers, price fixing, and political corruption. Will this benefit the class of 2030? Does the average Chicagoan give a rat’s rump about how this might affect their students kids and beyond?

    Of course, maybe the wealthy philanthropists and finance gurus really do not care about their extra million or so on top of their already giant piles of cash.

    Maybe the union makes education so expensive that local governments and representatives are forced to change Washington’s priorities by de-funding the military and re-instating the draft

  • 133. MSS  |  May 22, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    An interesting story on a school, not sure if a charter, that is set up to train and teach that is actually spurring drop outs at the neighborhood HS

  • 134. cpsobsessed  |  May 23, 2012 at 6:06 am

    I love it – charters are now going to force us to turn to military draft!
    Slippery slopes, people….. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 135. klm  |  May 23, 2012 at 9:29 am


    As I mentioned before, people in Glencoe (or Northbrook or Naperville or a hundred+ other suburbs in Illinois) do not want charter schools because their kids are already getting as good public education. Heck, the only reason I’ve heard of for for people pulling their kids out of New Trier is that its educational atmosphere is too ‘intense’ in its high-achieving way (“White People’s Problems” -ha). How many parents are pulling their kids out of Robeson or Roosevelt HSs because the academics are “too intense”, academically.

    Whose money are we talking about? CPS’s? CTU’s? Bureaucrats’? Isn’t it “public” money (and if some private people or organisations want to chip in, too, that’s a GOOD thing in my book), so should not the “public” that will be benefiting (or NOT be benefiting) from public educational funding have a say?

    Again, if many/most CPS schools were doing an OK job, this would not be an issue. However, the glaringly obvious truth is that way too many kids are denied a decent education (not a ‘New Trier’ education, I mean just even a basic get-an-OK-job education). I know for a fact that to get a job in most assembly line factories (Honda, Hyundai,GE, etc.) one must now pass a basic mathematics literacy exam. I’d bet a million dollars that most kids in 11th or 12th grades a some/many CPS HSs could not even do that. To be a licensed plumber or electrician one must have decent mathematical skills. Certain Charter schools may not get as many kids into pharmacy or engineering schools, but at least they might get kids ready to have the skills to work at a good, decent pay job with benefits job instead of part-time in dead-end minimum wage jobs or drug dealing.

    I’d be happy for my kids to attend a charter school, even a “for profit” one if meant a better education and the only other option was a neighborhood school in Englewood or Lawndale. Luckily (like most people on this site), my family has the money (we’re not rich but we have options in life), education and social knowledge that sadly seems to be a requirement for too many American families to give their kids a good (or even just plain mediocre) education. Families without these things seem way too often (especially in Chicago) stuck in an generational hole of low academics, lack of money, social skill sets, and go-nowhere-in-life culture that keeps them poor decade after decade.

    For some people, charter schools offer some hope for a better future. Even if the academics are not always 100% guaranteed to produce physicians and electrical engineers (although more often than not its much better than at the neighborhood school kids from the ghetto would otherwise attend, from what I can see from stats) most do instill more of the social skills and discipline that help kids stay out of jail and the maternity ward, which is hugely important to the parents of these kids (and should be for everybody).

    Do you really want to deny them this because you don’t like the way some charters are funded?

  • 136. cpsobsessed  |  May 23, 2012 at 9:39 am

    FYI, Brizard mentioned in the bloggers meeting yesterday that some chicago charters are not being allowed to expand here because they have not shown adequate performance.
    So there appears to be some sort of screening process.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 137. Joel  |  May 23, 2012 at 9:42 am

    An interesting read that I remember browsing as I got into “school mode” this summer.

    I am a proponent, not so much of charters, but of school districts being small and having the autonomy to dictate what is best for their community. In Chicago, that seems to be happening through charters. In the suburbs, it is the norm as each community is their own district and can swiftly execute needed changes, while at the same time maintaining stability. Until or unless CPS is able to provide this, charters will be an appealing option for many families, especially those that attend my neighborhood school. Frankly, I like that charters kick bozo kids out and make parents accountable. I see too much of the opposite in my classroom.
    On a side note, I just received new charter school “pushout” SPED students in my classes. Nothing like enrolling a new student 4 weeks from the end. Thanks! But he is very well-behaved compared to my normal kids 🙂

  • 138. Skepticism is certain  |  May 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    […] is a debate ongoing in the comments sections at CPS Obsessed on charter schools. As I wrote in the comments there, I do not oppose charters entirely. I think […]

  • 139. CLB  |  May 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    @128 What a complex system those tax credits to CDEs to charters make. In the end, it seems like the charter is left in debt to the CDE or whatever entity it creates to issue bonds on behalf of the charter. It looks like a risky bet for the CDEs since the charters have no independent revenue, but it would not seem to compete with public school funding since public schools will always have a higher credit rating because they have tax streams, even if they are limited ones. Basically it looks like a lot of people get money from tax credits and fees but the charters suffer the debt burden. I think you’re correct that it could lead to more charter expansion, but I fear there will be a collapse of many of those charters when they can’t pay the debt. Some have already folded because of this.

    @124 If the aim is to get the students in the worst-scoring schools into better schools, the best way would be to set up magnets that draw 50% of their lottery from the bottom quartile of schools. I have more data on the comparative merits of charters here

  • 140. chicagodad  |  May 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Here is a post from the raise your Hand coalition on charter funding.
    And a repost of info on how charter students have fewer constitutional rights than regular public school students.
    The bottom line for me is that charters spend more per student, are less transparent financially, burden regular schools with the students they remove via the various methods available to them, and in a sad way prove the value and necessity of parent involvement by selecting for those kids who have more of it. In doing all this they pretend to have an answer to the actual problems facing some schools but in reality seek to avoid dealing with those problems by becoming more like a selective or private school. That’s where the Q on students rights comes in.

  • 141. klm  |  May 25, 2012 at 9:25 am


    OK, chicagodad, these are all good talking points, but if you lived in Lawndale or Englewood and your child had the choice of attending a charter school or Robeson HS (or another similarly ‘infamously’ low-achieving, high-risk, violence-prone HS) which would you choose?

    Look, I have issues with some charters, too. However, if I were in the position I asked above, I’m 1000% sure I’d rather my kid(s) attend a charter rather than Robeson, or similar school, where the academics are almost tragicomically bad (kids 5-6 years behind academically, on average) and there’s a well-grounded fear of safety (most of all after school, when a block or 2 from school, away from the end-of-school police cars stationed in front, some fellow students can pull out the shanks, guns and blades they’ve hidden in bushes, etc. Yes, it really is that bad, believe me.),…. etc. Certain HSs are infamous even in the worst ghettos as HSs to avoid at all cost, if possible, for safety issues if nothing else.

    Here again, I’ll ask if Robeson HS is not good enough for your kids, why should other parents be forced to send their kids there? If a charter school is the only other option, why take it away?

  • 142. cpsobsessed  |  May 25, 2012 at 10:40 am

    @KLM, I don’t think anyone is saying those crummy schools are good enough. The question is why can’t the money be used to fix/improve them rather than putting the money into charters, which will only continue to deplete the crummy ones of better students and resources?

    In a sense it “gives up” on a lot of kids. “Nobody can figure out how to educate this neighborhood school so we’ll just let it go and bring in a charter nearby.” The Reformers are saying “your way doesn’t work, so we want to do it *this* way.”

    On the other hand, nobody seems to have figured out a scalable or replicatable way to improve these schools (on our budget) so do we spend another decade figuring it out and letting another generation of kids come out of school vastly under-educated? I don’t see how we can do that either.

  • 143. Joel  |  May 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    @142…because the neighborhood schools are not able to do what charters can. We cannot set up behavioral contracts with monetary punishment. We cannot kick kids out at any point in the year, arbitrarily. We cannot force parents to sign a contract related to their involvement in the school. And you know what? This stuff is the stuff that changes the students in my neighborhood. They respond (mostly) positively. So really, as a neighborhood HS teacher, I’m saying that I would love to have the chance to make our school in this model, but we simply cannot. You could pour all the money you want into my school (and believe me, we’ve been the recipient of numerous grants over the years), but until we are able to make profound institutional changes in the structure of the school climate with real consequences, you might as well just burn the cash.

  • 144. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    #136~CPSO~Brizard said that bc that was just in legislation I believe about charters that aren’t performing should close and not expand.

    #141~klm~I think CPS needs to look into the feeder schools for Robeson and see where the problems are in those schools. I truly believe that parents must be engaged in their child’s education and they don’t have the support they need, it can’t always come from the schools.

  • 145. chicagodad  |  May 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Placing the entire burden of solving a communities problems on the schools is an admission of failure by those ( not in the schools) who don’t want to face the real problems and seek to duck responsibility by blaming others, like the teachers. They have no plan or desire to confront the problems you face in class in spite of the fact that it can be done.

  • 146. cpsobsessed  |  May 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    @145: But that comes back to Karen Lewis’ statement I heard at her “debate” with Brizard “until society want to look themselves in the eye and ask if we’re going to solve the underlying problems…” (phrased much more eloquently.)

    Well, we’re not. We, American Society, are not going to do that. Our even political split and a host of other factors mean that is never going to happen at a big level. Certainly not at a country-wide level. Doubtful at a statewide level. Not enough $ at the city-wide level.

    Do you really think there is hope for some major government-back society change that will enable people who have been disenfranchised for decades to suddenly have all the possibilities of the “enfranched” (?). I don’t see it happening in my lifetime. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think we can wait on that to solve the education problem and achievement gap.

    Next best scenario is a lot of funding to make the things happen that you refer to in “it can be done.” At least this is in our realm? Maybe? If the state elects people who value education. Keeping in mind that the funding will have to come from somewhere else, which will piss off other people who value something else…..

    I sound defeatist. I guess I am.

  • 147. chicagodad  |  May 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Unless it’s ends up being comprehensive like LBJ’s great society program was, it’s likely to fail if the current climate allows it in the first place, just as you noted. It can be focused on key areas to leverage other desires. The change will not be sudden, that’s a silly expectation for such a complex, entrenched problem, but the sooner we start, the sooner we make progress. It’s hardest at the beginning. There are ample community respected and private sector resources that can be leveraged to get this done, it’s most certainly not just a question of throwing money at the problem, that will fail. The single most important thing is to get messaging out to the affected communities and let them know that help is available but they have to step up and make a commitment because without that it ain’t gonna happen. While jobs are needed, even with minimal growth the message of the importance of education can be spread and accepted if it comes from the right speakers. We can help those in the communities who still don’t get it understand the value of getting all their kids to school ready, willing and able to learn. Not easy or magic bullet fast, but absolutely doable. When they do get to school they should not suffer due to charters skimming off the most committed kids and families and getting first crack at resources in a way designed to make regular schools fail so they can be charterized.

  • 148. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    #146~CPSO~actually, it was what Rahm always says and I agree with~parents have to be engaged in their children’s education. The only problem is that many seem have a ‘self-hopelessness’ and that’s what a great deal of the problem can be. It has to be an engaged parent that gets their child to school on time, make sure the homework is ready for the next day, etc. That’s why I never believed that Rahm should have tried to do everything system~wide bc it can’t be done~no system has done it. He should have looked at the schools that really needed help, find out what he could have done to START the process and went from there. He should have replicated what the better CPS schools are doing for those under achieving schools. When I see on the news those little kids w/earphones on, I just want to scream, ‘don’t turn your back on those kids!’

  • 149. liza  |  May 26, 2012 at 9:12 am

    @147 It was interesting that you spoke about LBJ and the “Great Society” programs and initiatives. A group of use (educators as well as non-educators) were talking about how we, as a society, can begin to fix the problem of poverty and all its effects on society. There was quite a bit of consensus that many of the programs brought about by LBJ actually contributed to the problem. Everyone pretty much agreed that the programs were originally well intentioned, but that along the way, they created a segment of our population who began to believe it was their right to receive government assistance to meet their basic needs. I kind of found myself agreeing with that premise. I think that somehow the programs took away the incentive to work to improve your lot and strive to move up on socio-economic ladder.

    We also talked about how, in some cases, it basically broke down the structure of the family. We have families (usually headed by a single woman) who are third and fourth generations who live on welfare, food stamps, subsidized housing, etc. They accept this as the norm, and many are satisfied with living this way and really have no expectation of their own children living any differently. Maybe part of the solution is to go back and take a look at these programs, revamp them somehow to create some sort of attached personal responsibility component. Maybe in order to qualify for gov’t assistance programs, you have to do something to get it. We came up with a few things like attend parenting classes, required time at community centers, attend classes for GED or job training, assist at your children’s schools, participation in early childhood education programs, etc.

    Federal and State assistance programs are necessary, but there has to be a better system to allow people to assume personal responsiblity and perhaps to learn how to take pride in earning what they get. I think if we continue on the same path, nothing will really change and the cycle of poverty and lost opportunities will continue. It will be expensive, but I guess my thoughts are you either pay now and try to improve things rather than watch as the poorest in our society continue on a downward spiral. I wish we could have come up with some ideas on how to get most people to buy into fixing these problems, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

  • 150. IB obsessed  |  May 26, 2012 at 10:38 am

    @149 There has been welfare reform. Were you around in the Clinton years? If the object is simply to save tax dollars,instead of truly to give people a long term leg up, it doesn’t work. It takes spending to support people until they are truly at a level where they can be independent and not a one size fits all program where people are simply cut off from assistance. See this

  • 151. liza  |  May 26, 2012 at 11:11 am

    @150 I do not advocate simply doing away with welfare. I know it is a necessary type of program for millions of people, and I am aware that the system has been reformed many times over the years, but since it seems to have had little effect on providing many with the leg up they need to become independent in large urban areas I feel that it does need to be tweaked. I agree, it takes spending, and lots of it to provide the support. My point was that we either figure out how to get many of the people who rely on welfare, food stamps, etc. to buy into the idea that they are being given the suppport in order to become independent and get off the programs, as well as invest the money to provide these supports that will lead to this outcome, or nothing will really change.

  • 152. Suntimes articles  |  May 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    If you have a 7th grader amd they took the scantron test click on this article :

    Our children were forced to read about charters being better. I just asked my 7th grader and he remembers the passage! I am livid!

  • 153. chicagodad  |  May 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Until the obstruction on jobs is ended independence is not possible. The infrastructure jobs bill being blocked is a case in point. Many lower skill labor jobs on work the nation badly needs to get done never happened. Ripple effect jobs in support industries never happened. The economy was starved on purpose to hurt Obama, while the rest of us were thrown under the bus again. Perhaps more important is the urban legend that there are a majority of the poor who don’t want to be independent, have a real job or make a better life etc. I lived in one of the poorest parts of Chicago in the boom 80’s and when employment went up and everyone was working we saw houses painted and fixed up and everything else you would expect to see in a middle class neighborhood. Some types of crime also went down. More recently with the large number of people who have worked hard their whole lives till now, how can we think they would just kick back and wait for a check? They want their lives back. The great society program did cut the poverty rate and did improve student outcomes, both at a steady rate. Thanks for nothing Ronny Reagan for stopping that cold for purely ideological reasons.

  • 154. cpsobsessed  |  May 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I just read that Charter article. Crazy!!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 155. Family Friend  |  May 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Why can’t the money be used to improve neighborhood schools instead of pay for charters? Because, although educators know what works, the entire country is having a hard time figuring out how to implement it.

    What works:

    – Effective principals and teachers in every school (but we have to be able to get rid of the ineffective ones)
    – More instructional time (longer school day and year)
    – Use of data driven instruction (if we don’t measure, how can we tell they are learning?)
    – High-dosage, individualized tutoring, so every child in the classroom can learn
    – A culture of high expectations. (This is really important.)

    Good charter schools have these characteristics, and there are a lot of good ones in Chicago. (Please note that the Sun Times article referenced multiple times in these notes includes only the multi-site charters. There are many single-campus charters, and they generally do very well.)

    Because charters start from scratch, they can bypass decades’ worth of baggage. Nothing has to be changed, because it’s all new.

    There are exceptions to the rule among regular CPS schools, even on the south and west sides. But until the day we can say that poor-performing schools are rare, charters will continue to be a beacon for families who don’t want to watch their kids grow up uneducated while waiting for CPS’ huge bureaucracy (and I include the union in the bureaucracy) to get its act together.

  • 156. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    #155~Charters might continue but they in NO way suggest to be a beacon for families or educate the kids better when CPS charters are on academic warning and probation for being so poorly educating our kids.

    What research shows DOESN’T work:

    1. more instructional time~longer school day/yr~research has shown that at-risk kids do better w/longer school year but NOT longer school day.~that comes right off CPS website as part of their research, in one of the studies they used.

    2. Data driven schools~CPS OVER tests!

    Charters start from scratch but who is teacher? TFA? CPS kids deserve certified teachers in EVERY classroom. Face to face instruction w/out 2 hours blocked off for digital online learning. What abt the baggage charters don’t want~they send them back to neighborhood schools, but the money doesn’t follow back~again starving the struggling neighborhood schools even more. Charters get extra private funding that neighborhood schools don’t get. Where’s that money going and what is it being used on? Administration?

    CPS needs to see where the poorest performing schools are and then invest in them…not system wide across the board one size fits all~and replicate the better schools. Then CPS will be a real leader in Urban educating.

  • 157. cpsobsessed  |  May 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    What research shows that data driven schools don’t work?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 158. cpsobsessed  |  May 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    I liked Seth Lavin’s thoughts on reform (Charters) from his email newsletter this week. Link to sign up for it:
    Like him, I feel the “best answer” lies somewhere in the middle. The book I’m reading about the history of the recent reform movement is so depressing, in terms of the extremes on each side, the need to “win” the fight, and the politics involved. Ugh.


    The year was almost over. My TFA commitment was ending. I knew I’d be out of the classroom for a little while but I didn’t want to lose touch with what was going on in schools. I was struggling to make meaning—to fit together everything I’d come in thinking about school reform with what I’d actually seen and learned teaching in a start-up charter school.

    In college I’d been mesmerized by the idea that school reform was the civil rights movement of our time. That by fixing big city school systems we could save big cities. This was the early 2000s, the beginning of the charter crescendo. It seemed doable. You read all the time about miracle schools taking no more money and no different students than failing institutions but delivering wildly different results. I wanted to be part of that.

    Two years teaching isn’t much but it’s enough to make you see that there are no miracles here. I saw just how much misrepresentation exists in the schools universe. It crystallized in my mind how shallow school reform conversation in the news and in politics almost always is. I’d come to hate that. But I also hated listening to the people who said school reform was a lie, or that even the need for school reform was a lie. I’d come to know and love my students and their families, the real people suffering most for the compounded failures of our school district. I knew I just couldn’t agree with anyone who argued our schools didn’t need radical change. I still can’t.

    I knew a lot of people like me. People who wanted schools to be better, who wanted to do work that actually made schools better. We shared the same frustrations. Everything was so political. So argumentative. So many people just wanted to declare victory when there wasn’t victory or to declare conspiracy when that wasn’t there either. I wanted to know who was getting it right. Who was making things better in ways that held up to scrutiny and could last.

    I decided to start Wonks as a way to organize my own thoughts and to create a shared reading list for people I thought might be in the same place I was. It was also a good way to force myself to keep paying attention. I wrote the first one on a Thursday night and sent it out to 56 people in my address book that I thought might want it. 52 emails later here we are.

    Flashback over.

  • 159. cpsobsessed  |  May 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I also asked one of the CPS PR people what the official rationale is for bringing in more charters. This is their official response:

    “CPS is committed to expanding the number of high quality school options available to Chicago students and families—whether charter schools, neighborhood schools, or contract schools. The preliminary proposal that CPS submitted to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is for a $20 million grant to create a new charter facilities Fund. The Fund will leverage the grant money to provide high performing charter schools with access to much needed funding to open new facilities to serve Chicago’s families. The only new schools that will be approved within CPS’s portfolio of school options will be those that successfully meet rigorous quality standards.‬”

  • 160. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    CPSO~I’m not saying all testing is bad, but CPS is part of the testing overkill that is happening in this country…it takes time away from teaching. One study that has been used:

    29 kids in IN charter schools stopped taking their standardize test,0,496803.column

    As for CPS PR that is the standard that they put out when the released the PR, so I’m not surprised. Although Gate’s charter is Aspire and I’ve done no research on that. As for Gates, I read he (Zell & Pritzker) stopped giving money to Stand 4 Children. If true, that was a good thing.

    A good book is by DianeRavitch: “Death & Life of Great American School System” is #1 in public policy, #1 in social policy on amazon

  • 161. local  |  May 27, 2012 at 10:21 am

    CPSO – Are you still on Brill’s book or have you moved on to Ravitch’s?

  • 162. cpsobsessed  |  May 27, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I am slogging through Brill’s. His chapter on Ravitch’s was interesting to say the least. 🙂
    I’m committed to finishing it soon and then I’d love to start the Ravitch book club if people are up for it…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 163. Family Friend  |  May 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I can’t say whether CPS over-tests but an assessment every 6-8 weeks in every subject, to see if the kids have learned what the teacher has been teaching, is about right. These are not full-day high stakes tests, just the kind of regular exam we all had growing up.

    The vast majority of schools everywhere are on academic warning, and charters are no exceptions. That’s the legacy of NCLB. I don’t think it should be a charters-vs.-regular public schools issue. All of our kids deserve to have a great education, however we can provide it. But there is a lot of misinformation about charters circulated by people who, for the most part, are just passing along what they have heard. CPS used to publish an annual report showing how charters compared to other schools in their neighborhoods. They don’t have the staff or funding for that any more, but those reports generally showed charters performing better than comparable schools. CREDO, the Stanford education research group, followed students in New York City who applied for charters but didn’t get in, as well as those who did. That controlled for the “parent selection” issue. The students in charters did better than those in regular district schools, and over time the gap between the two groups increased.

    The idea that charters get lots of private funding is misleading. Most charters get several hundred thousand in start-up funds from the federal government and private foundations because it’s expensive to start a school from scratch. On an ongoing basis, it’s sketchy. Some schools have wealthy patrons, but most of them are scratching to raise $100,000 to $300,000 a year — an amount that doesn’t come close to making up the difference in per pupil funding between regular schools and charters.

    It’s a myth that charters have a lot of uncertified teachers. State laws permit up to 25% of teachers to be uncertified (50% for the first three years) but virtually every teacher in every Chicago school is certified. Charters are also subject to NCLB, which, as noted above, requires that teachers in core subjects be highly qualified.

    “TFA” is used like a curse word here, but I have not seen any TFA charter school teacher who is not really good. It might be because there is a tremendous amount of support for faculty, especially new teachers, at charters. TFA teachers are part of a cohort that studies for a masters in education together. They are observed and coached regularly by TFA mentors. Virtually every charter school spends an afternoon a week on professional development, with grade level and subject matter teams. All charter teachers are subject to frequent informal observation and coaching, and many charters have master teachers and subject leaders who intensively coach inexperienced teachers.

  • 164. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I’ve done extensive research on charters and also on TFA. ‘Twenty-seven out of 42 district teachers whose contracts were not renewed this spring were Teach for America teachers.’

    Read more here:

  • 165. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I wonder if TFA & Bill Gates is dumbing down our educational system?

  • 166. Sped Mom  |  May 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I’ve met some of the new grads who’ve gone into TFA, and while their GPAs are high, I’m unsure that makes them more qualified that an ed program grad. I actually think their backgrounds, unless they’ve come from extreme poverty themselves, set them up for lots of mistakes. I’d rather see those recent college grads with the high GPAs go into masters of teaching programs (plus masters in their content area), then hit the classroom after careful student teaching. If they’ve taken more than one class in kids with special needs, that’d be the cherry on top.

  • 167. CLB  |  May 29, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Some schools have wealthy patrons, but most of them are scratching to raise $100,000 to $300,000 a year — an amount that doesn’t come close to making up the difference in per pupil funding between regular schools and charters.

    That $100k-300k figure is in line with what some of the non-charter public elementary schools in Lincoln Park environs raise each year. Given the fringe & pension costs, a teacher position beyond CPS quota allocations often costs @ $90k.

  • 168. HS Mom  |  May 29, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Interesting discussion here

    @146 CPSO – “Do you really think there is hope for some major government-back society change that will enable people who have been disenfranchised for decades to suddenly have all the possibilities of the “enfranched” (?). I don’t see it happening in my lifetime. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think we can wait on that to solve the education problem and achievement gap.”

    Since education reform needs to happen more quickly than glacial speed, one thing that can be said about the charter movement is the sense of empowerment that it gives – perceived or real. Positive progress is made when the “disenfranchised” see their friends and neighbors doing something about their circumstances and see that possibilities exist for themselves.

    @155 family friend (good name). Good points.

  • 169. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 29, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Today’s charters are from their original version

  • 170. ZanesDad  |  May 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Charter Schools USA (from Florida) is taking over the CICS campuses formally run by Edison and turning over the entire staff and faculty.,0,227720.story

  • 171. Pvt. Mom  |  May 30, 2012 at 3:27 am

    @168 thanks for posting that link from Diane Ravitch. Although this is obviously her preliminary assessment of charters, it is well-reasoned and worth the read. Many of the comments are worth a look too. As with most things, its probably not the idea that is bad (charters vs. traditional public schools) but the way we implement it. However, I see some very worrying trends with regard to: racial/ethnic/economic segregation, low teacher efficacy, for-profit firms, and over-reliance on standardized testing.

    If I could wave a magic wand, I would keep people focused on the purpose of public education and whether or not a given educational form is fulfilling it. The analogy given in the article about a “public” park serving only 100 people chosen by lottery is apropos. Its our own fault as taxpayers if we aren’t clever enough to notice when someone is pulling the old “those aren’t the Droids you’re looking for” Jedi mind trick! Schools aren’t public schools just because someone wants to call them that. It may be that public-private hybrids should be recognized as such and be treated accordingly.

  • 172. HS Mom  |  May 30, 2012 at 9:11 am

    @169 CICS has several campuses. This article discuses 2 failing campuses up for turn around – just like they do at regular CPS schools – they let go of the existing mgmt/staff and rehire or hire new. Not sure that the campuses are currently run by Edison now – you mean the school Edison?

    @170 “It may be that public-private hybrids should be recognized as such and be treated accordingly”

    Yes, I would agree that the charter is a public school hybrid (just like magnets, cluster magnets, classical, gifted, selective enrollment, STEM, IB and alternative schools are). If by “treated accordingly” you mean that they are treated as a school within the system that has a particular set of guidelines to provide an option to the standard CPS offering. If you have a public park that 1,000 people want to attend at any given time yet it can only serve 100, how do you use it? Fortunately, there is a hybrid school lottery based that does not require minimum grades.

  • 173. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I believe Edison is a private comp hired by CICS to do the admin and teaching (which is still a weird concept to me.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • […] charter schools, which give principals the freedom to hire and fire at will, are rapidly expanding (check out this CPS Obsessed blog post) as unionized and tenured teachers at neighborhood schools like Pritzer, Sabin, LaSalle II, and […]

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  • 176. EdParent  |  August 19, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I know CICS Irving Park is now managed by Distinctive Schools. It was managed by another company until this year (switchover started in January).

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