Revised 2012/2013 Calendar has been announced

September 28, 2012 at 9:15 am 606 comments

In case you haven’t heard, it’s a FULLER school day and year!

CPS Revises 2012-2013 School Calendars to Ensure a Full School Year

Calendar revisions meet terms of tentative agreement with the CTU and recapture seven days of lost instructional time due to the CTU strike

Chicago – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced revisions to both Track E and Track R calendars for School Year 2012-2013 that ensure students benefit from a full school year and also meet the terms of the tentative agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Changes to the calendars will recapture the seven days of instructional time that were missed during the CTU’s strike and still delivers the full school year and the Full School Day, giving all students access to a quality day to help them succeed. All changes to the CPS calendar are consistent with the tentative agreement reached with the CTU and were developed in collaboration with the CTU and approved by other labor organizations whose employees will be impacted.

“Every single day counts. These changes to the school calendar ensure our students continue to benefit from more quality time in the classroom in front of our teachers,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “With this calendar, we’re preserving the Full School Day and year and the tools and support our students and teachers need to drive academic achievement.”

The original 2012-2013 Track E and Track R calendars were designed to help boost student achievement by increasing the number of full school weeks by 30 percent and adding 10 additional student attendance days. The calendar revisions announced today include 11 additional student attendance days, bringing the total number of student attendance days to 181, both above the national average of 180 and above the number of student attendance days in the 2011-2012 calendar, which was below the national average, at 170 days. Changes to the calendar proposals include:

  • President’s Day: President’s Day (February 18, 2013) will be converted to a day of student and staff attendance as a make-up day. Teachers will receive this day back as a paid holiday at the end of the fourth quarter. CPS encourages schools to use President’s Day as an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions made by the Presidents of the United States by educating students on their roles in our country’s history.


  • Professional Development: Teachers will receive six half days and seven full days of professional development for a total of 10 professional development days. The seven full days of professional development will be non-attendance days for students and the six half days will be half days of attendance for students.
  • Report Card Pick-Up: Report card pick-up days will not be days of student attendance.
  • Make-Up Days: Due to the CTU strike, seven make-up days have been built into the revised calendars.

It is important to note, that Columbus Day (October 8, 2012) will remain a student and staff attendance day. Starting next year, Columbus Day will not be a student and staff attendance day, as outlined in the tentative agreement reached with the CTU.

The breakdown of make-up days for Track E and Track R include:

  • Track E Make-Up Days:

Five days from Fall Intercession: October 15-19

President’s Day: February 18

One day added to the end of the school year: June 19

  • Track R Make-Up Days:

Two days from Winter Intercession: January 3-4
President’s Day: February 18
Four days added to the end of the school year: June 19-21, June 24

The Chicago Board of Education (BOE) granted temporary authority to CEO Brizard to make necessary changes to the calendar. Authority has been granted through the next Board meeting. The newly revised calendars can be found online at

The Chicago Public Schools serves approximately 402,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school system.

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606 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cpsmama  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:20 am

    New Track R:

    New Track E:

    Major changes:

    School on Columbus day (not listed as a strike make up day ??)
    Strike make up days Jan 3, 4, Feb 18( Presidents day), June 18, 19, 20 & 24

    They also moved Spring break back to the week BEFORE Easter which is annoying because they moved if to the week AFTER Easter 6 months ago. These aren’t strike make up days, so it really makes no sense. Ummm…. Hello CPS? People make plans based your calendars- can you leave them in place for more than 6 months?!!!

    I really hope that CPS is just putting this out knowing there will be push back from CTU- and I hope CTU pushes back.

  • 2. Pritzker Mom  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:22 am


    * Track R spring break was move to March 25 – 29.

    * The School Improvement Day previously schedule for January 25 was moved to Feb 1.

    Why couldn’t they have moved the School Improvement Day to Presidents Day so parents who have Presidents Day off could be off with their kids?

  • 3. mom of 2 at 2 schools  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Another big thing to note is that spring break is a week earlier (leaving almost 3 whole months at the end of the school year with no breaks except report card pick up and Memorial Day).

    Also, the original calendar had the school day ending on the 17th, but this one lists the 18th as the regular last day and the 19-21 and 24th as make up. AND if Columbus day is supposed to be a day off, but not this year, isn’t that an added day? I feel like we are getting 9 days for the 7 day strike.

  • 4. jillyann  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Why not use MLK Day as a make up day and have kids in school learning about MLK instead of sitting at home? One less day to be tacked on to the end of the school year.

  • 5. cpsdad  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:32 am

    It makes no sense to change Spring Break week and completely disrupt existing vacation plans. We have flights that now need to be rebooked and much higher rates because of this. Changing Spring Break did NOTHING to add days. I encourage any parents to call the CEO’s office.

  • 6. Window  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Got to love the teachers at our track e complaining about the time being made up over Fall break. “it’s not fair!” said one.
    Oh the irony.

  • 7. cpsmama  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Parents- call CPS or email JCB to complain about changing Spring break FOR NO REASON and WITH ZERO PARENT INPUT!


    (Sorry about the caps- I’m stressing out about this!)

  • 8. goingtogermany0693  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:55 am

    If the Board is trying to annoy people even more, they are doing a great job. I’m sure attendance will be very low after New Years and also may be spotty for Spring Break and those last days in June.

  • 9. another CPS mom  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Good thing SEHS admissions doesn’t look at attendance anymore.

  • 10. cpsmama  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:57 am

    oops- the number for CPS is (773) 553-1500

  • 11. cpsmama  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:00 am

    I called CPS and was told that they “had to move spring break because everything got shifted- even report card pick ups.” WHAT??! That would make sense if they moved Spring break later- not earlier. Apparently they have geniuses working at CPS these days- certainly no one with school age children.

    The good news- they have apparently been getting lots of calls from parents who are upset.

    I hope CTU fights them on this crap

  • 12. another CPS mom  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I’m fairly sure CPS BOE voted LAST YEAR to nix Pulaski Day and Columbus Day from the non-attendance days for SY12/13.

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Okay, you know I am not usually a conspiracy theorist, but maybe they don’t care if parents are mad, assuming that the anger will be directed at the teachers who caused the strike.

  • 14. 60660  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I’m actually happy to have Spring Break back where it belongs.
    My gripe is the 6 half days instead of 3 whole days. (or two half days for report card pickup and two whole days)
    I’m not sure what the thinking is but it’s really inconvenient for working parents who are going to have to scramble and I don’t see a benefit for students or teachers…
    Did cps push this just to hit a “attendance day” number over 180 and pretend the year isn’t really 178 days long?

  • 15. ticked off  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:09 am

    I emailed our principal first thing and told him we had vacation plans for Christmas, President’s Day, spring break, and summer already made. So our children will not be in attendance those days.

    Principal said she understood and was getting a lot of texts from parents saying the same thing.

    We won’t necessarily be out of town for some of those days, but I’m not sending my children to school. We get precious little family time as is. CPS and CTU aren’t going to interfere with that. No way am I sending kids to school third week of June–in town or not.

    Half days really stink. We will have to put out additional $$ to pay for childcare. Some kids will just have a free afternoon to roam around the neighborhood and get in trouble.

    So for as much as both sides doing it for the kids. More like they did it TO the kids and families.

  • 16. Frustrated parent  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:12 am

    The June 18th day is interesting – it isn’t noted anywhere in the press release or calendar that it is an added day. But it most definitely is. However, now CPS is touting that there is school for 181 days (it was 180 on the old calendar). With these new half days, it’s really only 8 additional days (6 half days=3 days in my math) not 11 so 178 days. I’m guessing JCB/Emanuel didn’t want to go down anymore days to 177 but having school on Monday, June 24th is ludicrous. We’ll be headed out camping that weekend and don’t plan to stick around for a wasted last full day of school.

    I hate these half days – let me take 3 days off from work, not 6 half days. This is such a silly PD policy for both parents and teachers. Teachers benefit much more from a full day of PD, a chance to go to an all day session. A half day is not wise either logistically or academically. According to our principal, the administrators and teachers don’t want these half days either so I wonder whose decision that was!

    The spring break change is outrageous. My guess is the old routine of doing it the week before Easter because of very high absent rate for Good Friday (which teachers have the right to take off as a personal day) is the reason for the quick switchback. JCB originally touted the calendar as having logical breaks for the flow of the quarters (his initial reason for switching spring break to the week after Easter). But needing bodies in the classroom trumps logic any day I suppose. Our family returns from a winter break trip at 10:00 pm on January 2nd – should be a fun day in school for my kids the next day.

  • 17. 60660  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:31 am

    did someone say boycott? We will be out of town up to January 6th.
    Have to think about June, not sure we want to be in school beyond the 14th…

  • 18. window  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:31 am

    “Okay, you know I am not usually a conspiracy theorist, but maybe they don’t care if parents are mad, assuming that the anger will be directed at the teachers who caused the strike.”

    The teachers did strike. They also took two extra days to go through the contract before deciding to end the strike. They should bear some of the responsibility.

    sorry, not politically correct, but true.

  • 19. cpsmama  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

    The change to spring break is a problem for HS students who can’t afford to miss a week of school. We actually prefer the long-standing Spring Break the week before Easter and we wanted to schedule our vacation with extended family that week. But when CPS changed Spring break to the week after, we sucked it up and booked our trip for the week after Easter as did other members of our extended family. I don’t even know if we can

    I expect that Track E’s elimination of the first week of its fall break will have similar effects for those families. Why make such a major change for next month with almost no notice to parents/teachers/staff and then have them get out a week earlier?

    CPS really knows how to make caca out of things.

  • 20. RL Julia  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Well, as annoying as have the calendar change mid-stream is, it is still way better than the prior year’s schedule when it seemed like kids were barely in school for most of November or February. Not thrilled about the half days but maybe they’ll disappear by next year. CPS spring break has always been the week prior to easter for the past ten years. This year, Easter is March 31, hence spring break starts March 25. Saw this strike coming and knew the days would have to be made up somewhere/time. Still don’t really understand why kids are off on Veteran’s Day but in school for Columbus Day. Would personally prefer to eliminate those holidays in lieu of shortening winter break – I mean what’s the point of coming back for Thursday and Friday? Whatever. We’ll deal and the kids will be in school whenever it’s open.

  • 21. AnonMom  |  September 28, 2012 at 11:31 am

    We have a big conflict the last week of June – the days added due to the strike. Does anyone have an idea how this could affect HS finals?

  • 22. cpsobsessed  |  September 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Aren’t things usually pretty much wrapped up a week or 2 before schools ends so the grades can be submitted?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 23. another CPS mom  |  September 28, 2012 at 11:35 am

    “A half day is not wise either logistically or academically.” – But financially I think CPS gets funds if students are in school those mornings.

  • 24. BeenThere  |  September 28, 2012 at 11:36 am

    22 yep…the last 2 week in CPS (grammar school don’t know about HS) are a complete waste of everyone’s time. Maybe CPS will finally get creative and actually teach something, read novels and discuss instead of movie watching. Waste of my tax money.

  • 25. cpsmama  |  September 28, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I just realized that Track R HS & Elementary both have Rpt card pick up on the same day– Nov 13— for 1st quarter. Really? Another first. Maybe it will work OK, but I just don’t see why CPS has to throw out so many changes all at once. Way to collaborate with stakeholders, guys.

    Please, Karen Lewis & the CTU- don’t agree to this calendar.

  • 26. Paul  |  September 28, 2012 at 11:58 am

    The strike and the calendar changes has got to affect the attendance rate. I’d expect the rate to drop by a percent or two at most schools.

  • 27. Strike affect on calendar  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    @25 Karen Lewis and the CTU is the reason why the calendar has changed. We are making up days from the strike and no matter what the change, someone will be unhappy. Best to deal with it because that’s what we got stuck with.

  • 28. Paul  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I thought the half days were pushed by the union. CPS’s original calendar eliminated half days, and the union fought to restore them. So, CPS compromised on that to end the strike.

  • 29. NBCT Vet  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    By state law CPS sets the calendar. Unfortunately, CPS has repeatedly refused to bargain with the CTU or, apparently, solicit parent input on this issue.

    The responsibility for how to make up the days from the strike falls on CPS. It is at their sole discretion. In their defense, I’m not sure the Board could make any decision that would please everyone.

    Half days make no sense. I don’t understand those at all. Teachers hate them. (The Union tried to convert them to three full days each of PD and classes during negotiations.) Parents hate them. Does anyone at all like them?

  • 30. Coonleymom  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    We already booked Spring Break and we are not changing our schedule because of the strike. I would hope the school and teachers would show us the same understanding that was given to them for almost two weeks.

  • 31. AnonMom  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    We will adjust to other days. The week of June 16th is tough for us. I was really worried that these days would be added on, but hoping it would work out differently. I have contacted my child’s school, so will wait and see.

  • 32. Patricia  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    @29 This new absurd calendar IS IN THE AGREEMENT that teachers will vote on soon. AND these make up days were figured out WITH the CTU. CPS and CTU deciding the calendar without ANY parent input or regard for what is better for students.

    The “NEW which is now OLD” calendar that was in effect PRIOR to the strike eliminated the stupid 1/2 days, timed the breaks with the end of quarters so that kids and teachers did not have to “relearn” after ill timed days off, gave logical intersession time to prepare for the next quarter, more effectively placed PD days on days of NON student attendance anyway so that it was more student focused, etc.

    We went from student focused calendar to a teacher focused calendar. Although, I have heard some teachers like the 1/2 days and others do not.

    This is the classic example of one step forward and two steps back. The “new now old calendar” was a result of CPS actually working with community members, VIVA teachers, parent groups, religious organizations and actually LISTENING. I think we can all agree that this type of collaboration does not happen often. The good efforts were slapped down by CTU in contract negotiations to keep status quo. CPS eliminated the 1/2 days and published a logical student centric calendar. CTU is the one who pushed for the 1/2 days and caused 7 make up strike days.

    Anyone know why they moved spring break again? That just makes no sense to me (along with a host of other things that do not make sense).

  • 33. Confused  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Originally, school was to end on June 17th. The new calendar appears to show that June 18th was a “planned” day, so that, in effect, there are 8 more days of school, not 7 (2 at xmas break, President’s day, plus the 5 added at the end of the year including the 18th). Aside from the ridiculous need to rearrange the ENTIRE schedule over this and give us the annoying 1/2 days, they actually added 8 full days? Is my math correct?

  • 34. Mich  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Ugh, I hate half-days. You have squirrelly kids who aren’t learning much because they know they’re getting out early, it can be a nightmare for parents logistically, and if you just taught for 3-1/2 hours, how focused are you as a teacher on the PD? I know I have trouble focusing on meetings when something’s just happened at work, my mind mulls instead of focuses.

  • 35. NBCT Vet  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Patricia, can you explain why you think CTU is responsible for those half days? I know you think that’s true, but what exactly leads you to that belief?

    Also, what evidence is there that CPS crafted this calendar with with CTU input and approval? If that’s true I’ve totally missed it. Can you shed some light here?

  • 36. Mich  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    @24 – I think the “waste” varies by school and/or teacher. My grammar school kid was taking final tests that last week of school, the last test was given the Wednesday (last full day).

  • 37. er  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Does anyone know which of the 6 days are half days? Am I missing it on the calendar? Thanks!

  • 38. anotherchicagoparent  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I am not even sure the “New” now “old” calendar eliminated early dismissal days. My kids elementary school hasn’t had a half day since the 2007-2008 school year ,when they combined PD days and gave the kids a few full days off instead of so many half days.CPS now seems to be going back in that direction prior to 2007-2008.Most suburbs still have late starts early release days for PD this is how they obtain a calendar of almost 180 days.

  • 39. anotherchicagoparent  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    @37 er 10/10 ,11/9,12/5, 2/1,4/12,5/8, I do believe these are the half days

  • 40. Marcy  |  September 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Spring break airline reservations, huh? Lots of airlines don’t even let you book this far in advance. #firstworldproblems

  • 41. Marcy  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    It doesn’t seem anyone else has posted CPS’s letter yet —

    September 28, 2012

    Dear CPS Parents, Guardians and Caregivers:

    As we move through the fall season and your children continue to benefit from the Full School Day, we have an exciting school year lying ahead – one that finally moves us away from one of the shortest school years in the country.

    To ensure a full school year and meet the terms of the tentative agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), we have revised the School Year 2012-2013 calendars. The changes to the Track E and Track R calendars will recapture the seven days of lost instructional time due to the CTU strike, and also will deliver a full school year with the Full School Day, giving all students access to a quality day to help them succeed. Both Track E and Track R proposed calendars ensure 181 days of student attendance and 208 teacher work days. All changes to the CPS calendar are consistent with the tentative agreements reached with CTU and have been vetted with the CTU and other affected labor organizations.

    Changes in the 2012-2013 school calendars include:

    Columbus Day: Columbus Day (October 8) will remain a student and staff attendance day. Implementation of the observance of Columbus Day instead of President’s Day will be deferred to next year.

    President’s Day: President’s Day (Feb. 18) will be converted to a day of student attendance to count as a make-up day. CPS encourages schools to use President’s Day as an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions made by the Presidents of the United States by educating students on their roles in our country’s history. As outlined in the original school year calendars, Columbus Day and Pulaski Day will remain days of student attendance.

    Report Card Pick-up: Report card pick-up days will not be days of student attendance.

    Spring Break: Spring break week has been moved up to March 25th to 29th from April 1st to April 5th to ensure sufficient instructional time before the end of 3rd quarter.

    Make-Up Days: Due to the CTU strike, seven make-up days have been built into the revised calendars. The breakdown of make-up days for Track E and Track R include:

    Track E Make-Up Days:
    Five days from Fall Intercession: October 15-19
    President’s Day: February 18
    One day added to the end of the school year: June 19

    Track R Make-Up Days:
    Two days from Winter Intercession: January 3-4
    President’s Day: February 18
    Four days added to the end of the school year: June 19-21, June 24

    Professional Development: Teachers will receive six half days and seven full days of professional development for a total of 10 professional development days. The seven full days of professional development will be non-attendance days for students and the six half days will be half days (3½ hours) of attendance for students and include both breakfast and lunch.

    For your convenience, the revised calendars can be found online at We wish you and your students well during this season of change and thank you for working in partnership with us to ensure your student and all students across the district receive the high quality education they deserve.


    Jean-Claude Brizard
    Chicago Public Schools  CEO

  • 42. junior  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Still at 10 professional development days? Is there any evidence that these days improve educational outcomes?

  • 43. cpsobsessed  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I believe at one point NYC made a big push for good, quality PD that seemed to make a positive difference in the area it was used. I think it’s an “it depends” question. Is the PD good? Are the teachers invested and engaged?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 44. NBCT Vet  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Junior, out of curiosity, what would you accept as evidence?

  • 45. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    #32~Patricia~CPS pushed for the 1/2 days NOT CTU, but CTU agreed to it.

  • 46. Patricia  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    CPS published the “new now old” calendar for this year along with giving students a full 7 hour day instead of 5.75. CPS went into negotiations with this calendar and length of day. CTU is the one who for months was fighting the longer student day and additional full school days. I believe even you stated this repeatedly.

    CPS has no reason for the 1/2 days except to provide a “give” to CTU demands during negotiations. Also as poster above stated and helped me remember, the 1/2 days are a relic from more than 2 years ago. So we really took one step forward and 3 steps back…….not just 2 steps back.

  • 47. HS Mom  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    @35 – calendar negotiated for contract with CTU

    c. School Calendar (Articles 4, 5, 6, 43 etc.). Total 208 days for teachers and PSRPs
    (except clerks who will have 211 work days) as follows:
    i. Student Attendance – 175 full student attendance actual days; 6 half
    student attendance days.*
    ii. PD Days – 7 full and 6 half days*
    (*Per Union request, CPS will make 2 Report Card Pick-up Days, Non-
    Student Attendance Days.)
    iii. Holidays – 8**
    (**Per Union request, CPS will reinstate Columbus Day as holiday but
    will eliminate President’s Day as a holiday)
    iv. Paid Vacation Days – 10 days
    (A Joint Board-Union Committee will be created to make
    recommendations on a single (unified) academic calendar which
    eliminates Tracks for implementation in the 2013-14 School Year within
    foregoing parameters.)

    @22 last year finals in HS went all the way up to the week before last with the last week being a partial week. I wouldn’t count on a lot of “free time” at the end.

  • 48. Patricia  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    @HS Mom Thanks, great info to clarify CTU requesting the 1/2 days.

  • 49. AnonMom  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    @47-HS Mom, so do you estimate finals will be the week of June 10th?

  • 50. NBCT Vet  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    @47 & 48

    Thanks for posting that info.

    A full reading of the sentence indicates the reason for the asterisk: the CTU requested that report card pick up days remain non-student attendance days.

    I guarantee the Union did not request 6 half days. To the contrary, the CTU fought heartily in opposition to 6 half days because they are largely a waste of instructional time. I encourage you to call the Union for an official statement if you suffer from disbelief.

    I understand the burning desire among some here to blame as much as possible on the Union but CPS has sole discretion over the calendar regardless of CTU preferences.

  • 51. AvilleMom  |  September 28, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    If I am interpreting this correctly the teachers get 10 days of paid vacation each year in addition to the time that the schools are closed. Is that right? Are those 10 days considered paid time off or PTO and inclusive of sick and personal days, or is there a separate allowance for sick and personal. If those 10 vacation days mentioned above are in addition to the school breaks and summer vacation no wonder the teachers have been able to bank so many days.

  • 52. Paul  |  September 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    @50 NBCT Vet, so why does CPS want the half days? Why did CPS make a calendar before the strike that had no half days, and then add the half days during negotiations with CTU?

  • 53. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  September 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    @40 Umm. United does. I can book out to Aug. 2013 now. So does American (up to 331 days in advance).

    The fact is that CPS does not care what parents think. As Bruce Rauner said on WTTW: “The schools have been out of parent’s control for far too long and results are evident from that.” We need an elected school board to make parent’s voices head.

  • 54. cpsobsessed  |  September 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I just don’t know how an elected school board of what, 8? can please all the parents of 400,000 children. That’s even assuming parents could get their candidates elected.
    Which group in the city just proved their incredible organization powers? That would be the CTU. Not saying their wishes are different from parents, just sayin…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 55. Paul  |  September 28, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    I’m going to try and answer my own question. It could be that CPS wanted the half days so they can say that they increased student attendance days from 170 to 181. CTU successfully fought in negotiations to reduce the amount of instruction time for students/work time for teachers, and CPS didn’t want to say that the number of attendance days for students was reduced from their planned 180 to 177, so they made the professional development days half days. The original calendar had half student attendance days for report card pickup, and I think the union successfully negotiated to make those non student attendance days. So, that may have made it more difficult for CPS to claim that they were adding total number of student attendance days.

    But, I think that there was a net increase from 169 full-day-equivalent student days in the 2011-2012 school year to 175 full-day-equivalent student days in the 2012-2013 school year. So, in effect, CPS successfully added 6 full-day equivalents to the school year.

  • 56. Cat  |  September 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    If I am remembering correctly, one of the teachers commenting on one of these threads (Todd?) said he asked his school’s delegate about the 6 half days instead of 3 whole days, and was told that no one loved it, but the state gives the district more $ that way, which is needed to help cover costs of the contract.

    Regarding June 18, that has been listed as a PD day since the calendar was released last spring…

    I think the most ridiculous part of either calendar is having the last day of the school year on a Monday. Wonder what the Vegas numbers are for parents not sending their kids that day?

  • 57. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  September 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    @35 @46 The full tentative contract can be found here:

    There is no requirement for half-days. The BOARD has the right to assign PD in half-day increments.

  • 58. Mayfair Dad  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    @ 50 NBCT Vet – ordinarily you make a good point even if I don’t always agree with you but in this instance it really looks like CTU is kinda sorta to blame for the tedious half days. I mean I know their motivation is pure as the driven snow and all, but still.

  • 59. HS Mom  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    CTU most definitely has had impact/influence on the calendar and is part of the committee to establish the new single track calendar contrary to @29 “CPS has repeatedly refused to bargain with the CTU” with regard to calendar.

  • 60. mom2  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Isn’t the last day of school only 1 hour long? 1 hour on a Monday? No one would come.

  • 61. another CPS mom  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Gosh. I told you. CPS will get paid for student attendance if they’re they’re at least in the morning. Am I wrong? More money. Good or bad depending on the cost-benefit of the money v. the half-day effect.

  • 62. another CPS mom  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Make that “there”

  • 63. Paul  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    @60 mom2, the new calendar says “classes end on Monday, June 24, 2013…a full day of school for students.”

  • 64. mom2  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you, Paul. Sorry, in the past, the last day was only 1 hour, wasn’t it. I guess it is better than it is a full day, but I still don’t think anyone will show up on a Monday. Why not add a day somewhere else where work would actually get done and end on a Friday?

  • 65. junior  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm


    There is also the issue that CPS provide both breakfast and lunch on half days.

    We need to remember that most of CPS students are from low-income households, and so I’m sure rebooking vacation tickets is the least of concerns for the people making the schedule and for most of the CPS households.

    I think it’s unrealistic to engage a parent community of 400,000 to try to develop a schedule. Which parents would participate most? Probably the ones with vacations scheduled — but how does one fairly represent all viewpoints?

  • 66. junior  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    @44 NBCTVet

    This is something that should be easy to study. About a year ago, there was some discussion about eliminating PD days. I suggested that they simply break CPS schools down into three experimental groups — one sample keeps 10 days, one keeps 5 days, and one has no PD days. Measure outcomes at each school and compare groups. So, those results would be my ideal “evidence”.

    Absent of that, it would be nice to see other well-designed, peer-reviewed studies — that’s usually what passes for evidence in most disciplines. I doubt there is anything specific to Chicago, but maybe there is. And I know the problem with Chicago is that there is no consistency in terms of how schools use these days.

    Lastly, this might be a exceptionally difficult year to eliminate PD days, because of the amount of work and collaboration needed to implement Common Core, but I do question the value that these have had in the past (and we’ve also had teachers question their value).

  • 67. Patricia  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I think the motivation to student non attendance for report card pick up is so that teachers could come in later and stay longer so they can meet with parents into the early evening. It was a 1/2 day of student attendance and then teachers were to stay for report card pick up from 2-6PM or something like that. The motivation is for CTU to keep their membership workday at 7 hours. I also recall being tossed around (not sure if it was official) that the report card 1/2 days for students would be more of an assembly/guest speaker type of day so teachers could come in later and stay until 6. It seems no matter how it is sliced, the 1/2 days are terribly inefficient and most likely ineffective. Let’s hope as Junior has questioned—-that the PD is actually effective and useful.

  • 68. Patricia  |  September 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    @Junior— It would be good to see PD effectiveness and agree that it varies by school. Also agree that PD is important for this year with the common core.

  • 69. Paul  |  September 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    @61 another CPS mom, it looks like CPS does get paid for these half days. Although, it’s not because the kids attend in the morning, it’s because they’ve “banked” additional instruction minutes from the longer school day.

    “In order to qualify for a half-day School Improvement day, the district on a regular school day must provide actual instruction time beyond the mandated minimum 300 minutes. Once the district has accumulated (banked) 120 additional instruction minutes, the district qualifies to utilize a hlaf-day school improvement day, coupled with a minimum of 180 minutes of instruction. One a half-day school improvement day has been taken, bank time goes back to zero. These half-days count as a full-day of attendance for General State Aid purposes for students that are enrolled full-time and have received at least 180 minutes of instruction.” (page 12)

  • 70. EdgewaterMom  |  September 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    While I am sure that the effectiveness of PD days varies from school to school, I think that it would be unrealistic to have an entire school year with NO PD days. Teachers need time to collaborate with each other and to learn new skills.

  • 71. CarolA  |  September 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Well, take this for what it is worth……just got an email from CTU informing us that CPS developed the new calendar. CTU opposed many of the changes, but CPS did it their way. According to this email, CTU walked out after seeing that CPS would not budge on the changes. Believe it or not.

  • 72. Todd Pytel  |  September 28, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    @56 (Cat) – “[O]ne of the teachers commenting on one of these threads (Todd?) said he asked his school’s delegate about the 6 half days instead of 3 whole days, and was told that no one loved it, but the state gives the district more $ that way, which is needed to help cover costs of the contract.”

    Correct – that is what I was told. I have not verified that myself, and I’m not even sure exactly where I would look to verify it. But it sounds plausible to me.

    I can just about guarantee that no one at the Union was pushing for half-days. Teachers hate them almost universally. Don’t point the finger at CTU on that one.

  • 73. Todd Pytel  |  September 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Didn’t even notice that Paul provided the cite just above me. Thanks Paul!

  • 74. Sped Mom  |  September 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I don’t work in CPS, but my PD is always better when designed and determined by my small work unit rather than forced on us by the bigger organization. Usually, I’m lucky enough to have my child’s school meetings and doctor appointments scheduled during those top-down PD days. Creative balancing of work-life.

  • 75. Cat  |  September 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I didn’t mean to sound as if I was pointing a finger at anyone regarding the half days… Just that I thought I remembered a plausible if uncomfortable reason! 🙂
    My friends and I discussed it at the time, and your explanation seemed reasonable (even if at the time not verified– thanks for the citation Paul!) especially since it seemed to us that any incoming $ would be desirable to CPS.

    I would however like to point at somebody (CPS/Board?) and grumble a bit about that last-day-Monday thing, as well as the day off (student/parent point of view) in the week before. Grrrr.
    I mean, who ever came up with that idea of scheduling in the first place?

  • 76. liza  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I might be mistaken, but at one time, I think the state mandated a set amount of Professional Development days for CPS. Reaching far back into my early days at CPS, I think there were far less. I only remember what we called “record” days at the end of the quarter. I think it changed early to mid 90’s maybe? And yes, CPS does get state and federal money for half days. Totally agree with Todd, half days are hated by just about every teacher. As someone noted earlier, the students are a little squirelly and by the time you got to your usually less than stellar PD session, you really didn’t have much energy or interest.

  • 77. anonymouse teacher  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    While I feel sympathy for parents who are on edge about the calendar and how it affects them in various ways, am I the only one who really doesn’t care that much about the calendar changes? I will plan on really low attendance those two days we are making up over winter break and most of my students leave the beginning of June anyway to go back to their country of origin. I am far more concerned about the testing insanity than the calendar.

  • 78. Sunny  |  September 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Hi, I for one am glad that Spring Break has been moved back one week. Now it will be in line with the City Colleges of Chicago who are required to live in Chicago. Most send their kids to CPS, so it makes sense to have them on the same schedule as CCC. Also, the principal at our school sent out an email basically saying if you’ve made vacation or family plans, come see me, but don’t sweat it. So there will be some flexibility out there for folks who have made plans. Now let’s just hope CPS doesn’t add attendance back to the formula for determining admissions to Selective Enrollment Schools. That would be one way to force a good number of parents to make sure their kids are not absent this year.

  • 79. SutherlandParent  |  September 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    I’m sure most schools and teachers will understand if plans have been made already and can’t reasonably be changed. I’m just discouraged that we finally have a calendar that isn’t riddled with holes for days off, and now we’ve lost days to the strike and potential days from these schedule changes. Personally, I don’t think we will change our holiday plans, which we made in good faith (and which involve visiting relatives out of state who can’t travel to see their grandchildren and great-granchildren because of health issues). But it bothers me that we have been put in this situation because of the strike and CPS’s revised schedule.

  • 80. CarolA  |  September 29, 2012 at 6:48 am

    @15 ticked off: I’m curious, were you also that mad when the kids were off during the strike? That could have been “family time”. Interesting to note that some people can’t be pleased. The kids are off because of the strike……crazy teachers, get them back in school. The kids have make up days because of the strike….crazy teachers (CPS, whatever)….I’m not sending them even though we may still be in town!

    I agree that most schools will be just fine with any adjustments that need to be made. Many students take off a few days before and after any of the breaks. Many take off several weeks at the end of school to get better airfare. There are tons of excuses why people keep their kids out of school. If parents are on top of things with homework all year round, a few days off here or there are not going to make a difference.

    I agree with anonymouse….I’m more upset with the testing. Now, due to our system capabilities (or lack thereof), we can only test 8 students at a time. I don’t think it’s possible to get everyone tested in the testing window. Plus, with that schedule, students who test first will do slightly less that those that test 3 weeks later due to 3 weeks more instruction. Not a fair measurement. But then again….not many of these tests are a fair measurement of skills.

  • 81. CarolA  |  September 29, 2012 at 6:58 am

    @79 Sutherland parent: “But it bothers me that we have been put in this situation because of the strike and CPS’s revised schedule.” Am I understanding you correctly? I’m thinking you don’t like it that you’ve been inconvenienced because of the strike? Is that correct? Teachers get inconvenienced all the time because of things like that. Example from yesterday: A parent could not make it to our Open House. Our Open House is more of an informational session where we tell parents about our curriculum and expectations. So it’s important that they attend. He couldn’t. So he asked if he could meet with me before school on Friday instead. I said sure. He didn’t show up. When his child came in, she handed me a note that said he was sorry, but he will meet with me after school instead. Because this was so important, I rescheduled a personal appointment I had until later in the evening instead of right after school. After school, GRANDMA comes up to me and says……do I need to meet with you? I said….where’s the dad? Oh, he couldn’t make it, but I’ll get the information. I said I’d rather talk to the person who does the most homework with the child. She said she’d be able to relay the message. So after my presentation, she is quite overwhelmed and asks if I can print out my PowerPoint because she won’t remember it all. It’s not a big deal, but it’s little things like this that happen every week. Teachers get inconvenienced all the time by parents who think we don’t have a life after school.

  • 82. SE Teacher  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:44 am

    @CarolA….I find parents complaining about the inconveniences sad. You don’t hear anywhere near this amount of complaining about over testing, crappy curricula or overcrowding.

  • 83. EdgewaterMom  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:54 am

    @82 SE Teacher I have to agree with you. While I think that it is ridiculous that they moved Spring Break rather than just adding in the strike days, it is not the end of the world. I do think it is indicative of how CPS seems to operate – with little input from stakeholders and often resulting in seemingly random changes that inconvenience many, with little or no benefit to most.

    We knew that adding back the strike days was going to be difficult, no matter how they did it. Changing an existing schedule mid-year is never going to make everybody happen. But, again, I don’t get why they moved Spring break!

  • 84. Been there done that  |  September 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

    .I find parents complaining about the inconveniences sad. You don’t hear anywhere near this amount of complaining about over testing,
    crappy curricula or overcrowding.

    Isnt that what this website is for? Isnt that why Raise Your Hand got started. I think it is about even in the complaint department.

    This schedule will be in the past very soon but all of the above is a constant in our children’s lives. Our voices are never silent on these issues.

  • 85. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 29, 2012 at 9:34 am

    October is full of testing…all so Murdoch can make more money. How many tests are your kids taking or prepping for in October? A LOT…2 MANY! The longer day and yr is so that there is enough instructional minutes due to all the testing CPS has paid for this calendar year.

  • 86. kiki h.  |  September 29, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I’ve decided just to feel thankful that the strike was short. My mom was telling me about a 6 week teacher strike in my hometown in the 70’s. To make up the time, the children had to go to school on Saturdays and well into the summer.

  • 87. cpsobsessed  |  September 29, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I agree kiki. Going in, I thought it could have gone a whole month.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 88. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 29, 2012 at 9:50 am

    #47 HS Mom~ “last year finals in HS went all the way up to the week before last with the last week being a partial week. I wouldn’t count on a lot of “free time” at the end.”~ What HS was that? I don’t know of any that didn’t already had their finals 2 weeks b4 the end of school yr and graduated 1 week b4 the end. CPS couldn’t change the grad date, I don’t believe bc they are already contracted out. There will not be any ‘real’ school after June 7th~parents know that, CPS knows that and that’s why parents wont be changing any summer vacation plans or promptly sending their kids away to summer camp.

  • 89. local  |  September 29, 2012 at 10:10 am

    When are grades due at the end of the school year? Prior to that would be the “real” end of school.

  • 90. averagemom  |  September 29, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Payton high school did tests the last full week last year, and projects were due then too. The seniors had their tests earlier, but my son was working like crazy the last full week of school.
    My big concern is that 4 days of learning has been moved to after the AP and ISAT tests. We are at a disadvantage to the private, charter, and suburban schools.

  • 91. Danaidh  |  September 29, 2012 at 11:04 am

    *84 and 85–Instructional time lost to testing

    At Taft HS freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will be taking “practice” standardized tests October 2nd. Though testing times vary, the entire block of time set aside for testing is 7:45-11:25 a.m. (3 hours, 40 minutes).

    What about those students not testing? The 7th graders will meet in the gymnasium; the 8th graders will meet in the Forum (dangerously close to maximum occupancy levels); and the seniors will meet in the auditorium. Did I mention it’s 3 hours, 40 minutes? Maybe they’ll get to watch a good movie.

  • 92. cindy  |  September 29, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I am a CPS teacher and parent and am extremely disappointed in the outcome of this calendar – it makes no sense. During the strike I emailed Mr. Brizard with common solutions to making up days. He answered me fairly quickly and said he would take it into consideration. I think we should be in school on Veteran’s Day (it is technically on Nov. 11 anyway), Lincoln’s B-day (why are we in school that day instead of President’s Day) and many other ideas.
    Learning in June in NOT optimal – students, teachers and parents tune out after Memorial Day – unless they are studying for finals in HS. The schools are NOT air conditioned and not condusive to learning in the summer months.

    I also believe they are pushing the middle and uppermiddle class out of CPS and into the suburbs and private schools. This group supports the school – from volunteering to donations – and would be a huge loss to the disrict.

    The Board of Ed. must approve this calendar. I think the meeting is on Wednesday, Oct. 3. I have not been able to find any of the Board’s email addresses, but if anyone knows them, please post. I have emailed JC Brizard and I urge you to write him and complain. The more he hears/reads the better.

    The union rep at my kid’s school said that unless their is an uproar from the parents, the Board will do what they want.

  • 93. L. Maier  |  September 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I am a grandparent that will be very upset because my grandchildren come to see me over winter break and now my once a year visit will be much shorter. Has the school board ever tried to include the parents on these decisions. Why aren’t the teachers teaching all the way to the end of the school year. From what I’ve been told the last full week of school is a waste, no textbooks and parties all day.

  • 94. arjrsmom  |  September 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Of course the teachers teach until the end of the year, but we need to try to keep the students’ attention. Their minds wander when the weather gets nice after a long winter and when their friends from other schools are already on summer break. To my knowledge, parents nor teachers were included in these decisions (which is part of why their decisions are so impractical.)

  • 95. HS Mom  |  September 29, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    @81 Carol – What about when a teacher misses the open house? Stuff happens.

    @82 SE teacher – Why do you think the curricula is “crappy”? I don’t think that it is but you’re in a better position to judge.

    @88 Check out the calendars of all SE High Schools. Finals were mostly on June 11 and 12 with the last day being the 15th. I’m not sure if that applies to neighborhood schools, but, like I said, don’t plan on much free time at the end of the year in HS.

  • 96. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    #95 HS Mom~finals at HS can and do change but the AP college bd exam doesn’t change.

  • 97. HS Mom  |  September 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    96 – SSI – not following you. Someone commented that in grade school the last 2 weeks were a waste of time. I added, and a parent from Payton confirmed that the last 2 weeks in high school were significant days and included finals. I disagree with your statement in 88 – “There will not be any ‘real’ school after June 7th”. I did not discuss A/P which we all know is on a fixed schedule.

  • 98. CarolA  |  September 29, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    HS Mom: Open House is not mandatory for teachers. We don’t get paid for it. We attend because we know it’s important. If a teacher can’t make it, there has to be a good reason. It’s not mandatory for parents either. However, in the example that I gave, the parent requested the Friday morning meeting and cancelled. The parent requested the Friday afternoon meeting and didn’t show up.

  • 99. CarolA  |  September 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Wait…he didn’t cancel Friday morning…he never showed up. He sent his daughter with a note a half hour after the appointment time. No respect for my time.

  • 100. CarolA  |  September 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    HS Mom: Perhaps what you were trying to say in @81 was that sometimes things come up and appointments are missed. True. However, there is something I always do in those cases and it’s called a courtesy call. I am not the kind of person who keeps people waiting around for me wondering what happened. I don’t think anyone else should be either.

  • 101. HS Mom  |  September 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    @98 – I see that and agree. Some people are very inconsiderate. As far as the point about teachers, no they are not required and not paid yet most – not all – consider it an important way to start the year, set the tone and a really good chance to connect with parents informally. Most – not all – put a lot of effort into their presentation. Something that makes a statement about that teacher (one way or the other). Just saying, there’s great teachers and there’s great, highly involved parents. I think that most people posting here are one or the other or both.

  • 102. HS Mom  |  September 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    @100 – got it, yes we agree. I understand that there are legitimate reasons for teachers/parents who can’t attend functions. I wish more parents took teacher meetings seriously especially in light of all the effort they put into these things on their own time. I expect teachers to take these things seriously.

  • 103. SutherlandParent  |  September 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    @81, CarolA, I get your frustration. I have clients who do that to me all the time. And I don’t do that anyone, because I know how frustrating and rude it is.

    Maybe I don’t understand your point, but are you saying that because some parents are thoughtless to teachers, that every single parent in CPS shouldn’t mind disruptive schedule changes? Nineteen business days (seven for the strike, seven for the makeup days, five for spring break–and I’m not even counting the half days) isn’t an inconvenience. That’s way more paid vacation than even generous companies tend to give to long-time employees.

    There was a schedule for 2012-13, and like many parents, we looked at the schedule when it came out and carefully worked our limited vacation days around having our children in school. Every single day of school.

    I’ve also complained to my alderman and sent an email to JCB about this idiot schedule change around spring break, for all the good that will do.

    And leaving aside the parents, I don’t understand this attitude that kids missing school is an “inconvenience.” It’s not an inconvenience. It’s a really big deal to me when my kids aren’t in school learning like they are supposed to be. It’s like the comments I read and heard that parents only got upset when they had to find babysitters for the strike. If all my kids are getting out of school is babysitting, then we really need to change schools.

  • 104. SE Teacher  |  September 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    @103 It’s a really big deal to me when my kids aren’t in school learning like they are supposed to be.

    Nicely said. 🙂

  • 105. SutherlandParent  |  September 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    @104, and I want to say, nicely said for your earlier comment @82: …. You don’t hear anywhere near this amount of complaining about over testing, crappy curricula or overcrowding.

    One thing I appreciate about this board is what I’ve learned about all the over-testing. That’s my next email to JCB. For all the good that wil do 🙂

  • 106. local  |  September 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Saw this:

    RESOLVED, that [your organization name] calls on the governor, state legislature and state education boards and administrators to reexamine public school accountability systems in this state, and to develop a system based on multiple forms of assessment which does not require extensive standardized testing, more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is used to support students and improve schools; and

    RESOLVED, that [your organization name] calls on the U.S. Congress and Administration to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as the “No Child Left Behind Act,” reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability, and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.

  • 107. local  |  September 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Posted at PURE:

    Changes on Board?

    Two items of interest from yesterday’s unusual Tuesday board meeting as reported in Substance:

    * Public Participation Sign-Up will be revamped for the October meeting. On-line sign-up will be allowed.

    * The Board members are maintaining “Office Hours.” Interested members of the public may request a meeting with Board Members by calling 773-553-1600.

    Hm. Do they perhaps feel an elected school board breathing down their necks? Parents 4 Teachers reports that “a non-binding elected school board referendum will be on the ballot in the November election. Voters in some 200 precincts, in roughly half the city’s wards, will be able to cast their vote for democracy in education.”

    Let’s keep the momentum for real democracy going!

  • 108. local  |  September 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Does anyone know which test they’ll be practicing for?

    @ 91. Danaidh | September 29, 2012 at 11:04 am

    RE: At Taft HS freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will be taking “practice” standardized tests October 2nd.

  • 109. local  |  September 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Which test for freshmen, I mean.

  • 110. SE Teacher  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    @105..One thing I appreciate about this board is knowing that there are many parents out there who care very deeply about their children’s education, whether or not we agree on CPS/CTU issues. Open House is one of my favorite nights because it is when the ones who care about more than just grades (report card pickup only parents) come out and talk about their children. I feel like I learn so much about my students by talking with their parents. I learned this week that one of my student’s father plays in a jazz band on the weekends. Another is a cop in a not so nice H.S., another is a secretary at a north side school and she travels all the way from Hegwisch to work! WE all want our kids to do well. ( I feel like I can call them “our” kids even after only 12 days of instruction.)

    I hope you do keep phoning/emailing CPS and letting them know that you are out there. I feel like they don’t feel the need to be accountable to anyone.

    Regarding vacations: as a teacher, I think that a child can learn just as much information on a vacation with their family as they can in school. Perhaps it’s not math or literature, but there is a lot to be said for developing family values, practicing different types of social behaviors and exploring other cultures. Good parenting and teaching practices utilize what time is made available to them.

  • 111. SE Teacher  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Freshmen take the EXPLORE test. It’s a practice ACT.

  • 112. local  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Is it smart to practice for EXPLORE? If so, how can my kid get his hands on some practice tests? His school doesn’t practice.

  • 113. SE Teacher  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    At our school, (se high school) we will use this to guide instruction of the college readiness standards. No need to study, I feel. I think teachers would rather see what needs to be taught.

  • 114. CarolA  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Sorry Sutherland….I am missing your message. Maybe it’s my head cold or something, but I congratulate you on contacting your alderman and JCB. I laughed when you said….for all the good that will do. You’re right. It’s frustrating to work in a system that’s not working correctly all the time. It’s time for more parents to call, write, email, etc. I keep saying….parents will be heard if you continue the fight, but you must stay united and keep at it. Maybe that’s not true. If parents and teachers alike are not getting heard, then who is doing the dictating and why can’t we stop it? What’s our next step?

  • 115. CarolA  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Something just occurred to me that I really didn’t consider during our discussions about disrupted vacations due to the calendar change. If we look at the majority of families in CPS, I’m willing to bet that most don’t have any plans for spring break (especially in September). Most don’t have any plans for airfare and hotels for Christmas. Most don’t have vacation plans because most don’t have the money. So hear we are talking about ruined vacation plans when a good part of the city is low income. Shame on me for forgetting that.

  • 116. James  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    #90 averagemom —

    You are correct. Several high schools, including, at least, Payton and Northside, had finals right up until (or nearly until) the end of the scheduled year. I would hope that no school would be stupid enough to schedule anything on that last Monday, however. Having the last day of school on a Monday in an already extended school year is simply absurd.

    And, yes, as some of us predicted before CTU stormed off the job, high school kids taking AP classes got shafted. The test date for AP classes didn’t slide and this revised calendar makes up most of the lost instructional days (almost a week’s worth) after that test date. Thanks again, CTU. Really appreciate it.

  • 117. local  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Saw this letter from CTU (published at Substance):

    [quote] CPS announces calendar, with inconveniences for many

    George N. Schmidt – September 28, 2012

    Chicago Public Schools on September 28 announced the new calendar, required because the Board agreed to make up the seven days missed because of the strike. As the following note from Jesse Sharkey, published on the CTU website, makes clear, the Board worked out its calendar changes unilaterally, and the union only learned about them when the rest of the world did.


    Dear _________,

    Today the Board of Education released a revised calendar for the ’12-‘13 school year. The calendar schedules 7 make-up days to replace the time lost due to the strike.

    CPS decided to shorten Track E’s October intersession to 1 week, to make President’s Day into a student attendance day, and to add one day onto the end of the calendar (for a total of 7 days.) The President’s Day holiday will be “made-up” in June—where we will be paid for a non-attendance day.

    Track R teachers and staff will see Winter Break shortened by two days, President’s Day made into a student attendance day, and four days will be added onto the end of the calendar (for a total of 7 days.) Like Track E, the President’s Day holiday will be “made-up” in June—where we will be paid for a non-attendance day.

    At union headquarters, we have received a number of e-mails and calls complaining about the changes—for example, from a member who had already booked tickets to care for a sick relative who just found out, two weeks in advance, that their October calendar has changed.

    The CTU will assist all members whose principals and other administrators fail to be accommodating in such cases. In addition, nothing prevents a member from using sick or personal business days during make-up time.

    Historically, making up days lost to a strike have been a challenge—in 1987 the Board shortened Winter Break by a week, canceled Spring Break, and pushed school into the summer.

    Though this year’s strike was shorter than 1987, the Board’s make-up is complicated by a longer calendar that had already cut out two holidays (Columbus Day and Casimir Pulaski Day) and though the union complained bitterly about the calendar, and ultimately walked out, we were unable to change it.

    Please review the calendars available for download with this link. Now that CPS issued the calendar for the year, CTU will begin production on our pocket calendars in the coming days.

    In solidarity,

    Jesse Sharkey

    CTU Vice President [unquote]

  • 118. local  |  September 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    CarolA – True that. We do staycations, personally. 😉

  • 119. CPSteacher  |  September 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I’m a CPS teacher and have worked in Brighton Park and Belmont-Craigin during the last ten years. I’m positive that my students’ parents are not protesting the new calendar because it is probably the least of their worries. I’m offended that some of the parents posting here don’t get it. The conditions that many CPS teachers are working in are extremely challenging and at my school, most of us were not on strike for more pay. (We voted to add 60 minutes of instructional time and Recess to our schedule WITHOUT PAY during the 2011-2012 school year, before the board asked us too.) We were hoping to improve our classroom learning environments by decreasing classroom sizes, providing funding for more social workers/nurses, and making the classroom more comfortable with functioning air conditioners. We naively believed that our strike would somehow force these issues to be solved and unfortunately, they weren’t.

    I’m not a CPS parent yet, but will be in a few years. My son will probably not attend the typical, struggling neighborhood CPS school. However, as a CPS teacher, I understand that all schools are not created equal. Some of you should visit the neighborhoods directly west and south of yours and see what a typical morning is like. Experience what our schools feel like and come see the amazing work our teachers are doing, despite the hardships our schools and students experience.

  • 120. Marcy  |  September 30, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Vacation/staycation/nocation = the definition of first world problem, CarolA.

  • 121. Really?  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:31 am

    116 if those se kids are as smart as their parents think they are, they will be just fine. The outcomes should be interesting. And they have 1st crack at city jobs when they graduate. How nice.

  • 122. CarolA  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:13 am

    James: How much difference in a score do you think 5-7 days makes? Keep in mind you are talking about smart kids. I have spent many a school year working the after school program for students. My experience has shown that there is very little difference in what the students know in 5-7 days. Do you have experience to show otherwise?

  • 123. CarolA  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Here’s the bottom line….teachers WANT students to do well on tests. If nothing else, it’s now a part of our rating too. So teachers WILL be making sure students learn what they need to learn. Teachers WILL provide everything they can BEFORE the test is given. Teachers WILL make up the work that’s important. If that means that as it gets closer to test time, more time will be spent on academics and less on art, then so be it. After the test the students can have more art. It’s a balance. We teach students problem solving techniques. Teachers will problem solve this situation. Count on it! If we were talking about 5-7 WEEKS of make-up work, that’s a horse of another color!

  • 124. Danaidh  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:44 am

    #116 James: “kids taking AP classes got shafted. The test date for AP classes didn’t slide and this revised calendar makes up most of the lost instructional days (almost a week’s worth) after that test date”

    That’s true for any days missed–whether the teacher is sick; snow days; standardized testing days that require special bells and/or missed periods; etc. Since AP students are often very active in clubs and sports, many of them miss days for field trips, athletic events, and other school-related events.

    Although AP students are still high school kids, they should nevertheless possess higher-than-average levels of maturity and responsibility.

    I distributed both books and an assignments calendar on the first day of classes, along with this warning: If for *any* reason the teacher or student misses a day of class, students are responsible for the readings and other assignments. Keep up.

    Did the strike take you by surprise?

  • 125. Danaidh  |  September 30, 2012 at 10:01 am

    #106-109; 112 local: “overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as the “No Child Left Behind Act,” reduce the testing mandates…”

    Let’s be clear here: NCLB requires ONE test in reading and ONE test in math each year during grades 3-8; and ONE test in reading; ONE test in math; and ONE test in science for all four years of high school.

    It is the state of Illinois and, particularly, Chicago Public Schools that has escalated the testing frenzy to its current levels–not NCLB.

    During the “practice” administrations of these tests, ELL and SPED students test with no accommodations, even where their IEPs require them for the “actual” test administrations.

    The impetus for my rant above (#91) is the fact that those students in grades 7, 8, and 12 who are NOT testing will be sitting in large rooms doing nothing for 3 hours and 40 minutes. The testing may (arguably) be important for those students who are taking them, but it is a total waste of an instructional day for those students who are not.

  • 126. cpsobsessed  |  September 30, 2012 at 10:25 am

    So what is the supposed rationale for all the testing cps is doing?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 127. CPS Parent  |  September 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

    122. CarolA – I’d be careful stating that a weeks worth of teaching your teaching has no effect on students. Would 10 days, 12 or two weeks have an effect? What do other teachers posting here think the minimum time frame that has effect is?

  • 128. EdgewaterMom  |  September 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I don’t understand why the students who are NOT testing have to sit in the auditorium while the others are testing. Are all of the classrooms being used? Are extra teachers assigned to administer tests? If they have to be in the auditorium, is somebody trying to come up with some creative educational activities that they can do during this time?

    I think that CPS does way too much testing to begin with. To make the rest of the students basically twiddle their thumbs while others are testing is a complete waste.

  • 129. Todd Pytel  |  September 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    @128 (EdgewaterMom) – For the Explore, Plan, and ACT in HS, the school has to comply with the requirements of the testing company. Notably, this means no bells, no hallway noise, usually two teachers per testing room, and strict rules about student movement. The testing companies can and do send out inspectors to check for compliance. So the rest of school pretty much has to stop to make those things happen. Certainly we do our best to provide useful activities for students that aren’t testing – seniors, for example, often spend this time dealing with college application and financial aid stuff. But realistically, you’ve got large numbers of non-testing students and very few non-testing faculty available to work with them. So there’s a limit to how effective that time is going to be. I wouldn’t call it a “complete waste” at our school, but it’s clearly not optimal.

  • 130. Marketing Mom  |  September 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I cannot understand why students cannot be in class on Lincoln’s birthday considering that it falls on a Tuesday and most parents do not get that day off from work. Our family always makes plans for Presidents Day as it is a long weekend. Also, they could have kept veterans day too. There is no way they would have taken away MLK day as you would have protests from every civil rights leader.

    It amazes me that you and several other teachers were not clear on what you were striking about. You really thought that the strike would solve all the problems of CPS (smaller classes, air conditioning, more respect, etc.) You got higher pay and some benefits, which may be at the expense of 100-200 school closings. Enjoy it while it lasts!

  • 131. HS Mom  |  September 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    @125 – “During the “practice” administrations of these tests, ELL and SPED students test with no accommodations, even where their IEPs require them for the “actual” test administrations”

    This is not true at our school – all IEP and 504 requirements are accommodated regardless of whether or not they are approved by the college board (a separate process/test)

    @128/125 – seniors at our school will be working on college applications and will have a senior class meeting – no movies 🙂

  • 132. CarolA  |  September 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    CPS Parent @127: You are clearly taking my message out of context. I did not say that a week’s worth of teaching had NO effect. I said it has little effect in a score on a high stakes test. In relationship to James @116: His message was that his child was getting shafted because of the strike days. You can’t convince me that a child will miss out on qualifying for AP classes because they missed 5 days of instruction. And, if as a parent or teacher, you see the child is slipping, it is the responsibility of all three (student, parent, and teacher) to step in and help out. A great example is Christmas break. If I give my students a big test the day before the break or I give the same test the first day back after two weeks break….I just don’t see that there would be a big difference in the score. IMO

    Marketing Mom @130: We did not think we would solve ALL the problems of CPS. I did, however, hope that some things would be solved and the others on a track to be solved. It didn’t happen. I’m not sorry for it. I tried hard. It didn’t happen. It did bring the issues to the table, to the press, to the parents. How many parents rallied with us…..several. How many parents rallied against….several. But when you think of the thousands and thousands of parents in CPS, it was nothing on either side. You can’t make change unless you have support and money. The people pushing charters have both. Charters are coming. But you can’t fault anyone for trying to make change even when it didn’t happen. Don’t shoot us down for trying. I’d hate to think the message you relay to your child is that you shouldn’t try anything unless you KNOW you’ll succeed. I hope your message is that when you believe in something….strive for it. If it works out great. If it doesn’t, you gave it your best effort.

  • 133. CarolA  |  September 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    BTW: Those 100-200 school closings were going to happen one way or the other.

  • 134. cpsobsessed  |  September 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Carol, I think that’s the key question – how to rally parents and teachers together to do “x” (and “x” needs to be decided, must be more specific than “fix the schools.”). Raise your hand is starting a push for an elected school board. Please visit their site if you want to help them.

    I’d say additional funding in Illinois is probably another topic. Or how to get more funding for cps as a whole. The rallying part is the hard part. RYH keeps plugging away with a small crew.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 135. CarolA  |  September 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    CPSO: Thanks for the info about RYH. I’ll look into it!

  • 136. CarolA  |  September 30, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    RYH has some good articles and blogs. I found it refreshing for the most part. I’ll have to read more.

  • 137. Angie  |  September 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    @107. local : “Hm. Do they perhaps feel an elected school board breathing down their necks? Parents 4 Teachers reports that “a non-binding elected school board referendum will be on the ballot in the November election. Voters in some 200 precincts, in roughly half the city’s wards, will be able to cast their vote for democracy in education.”

    Let’s keep the momentum for real democracy going!”

    I wonder how many of those voters know the amount of money CTU spends to bribe the assorted politicians who, once elected, do their bidding? How many of them actually understand that this elected school board will consist of the union puppets whose main concern is for the well-being of the teachers, and not for the kids or the state of education in Chicago?

    Then again, those are the people who were duped into believing that the teacher strike was for “better schools”. They will buy every bit of the union propaganda once again, and do all the dirty work for them.

  • 138. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    YES! I hope the momentum for real democracy keeps going!!! In over 200 precincts ppl will be able to cast their vote for democracy in education. Rahm tried to keep this off the ballot by having his 3 questions on the ballot, so ppl went around him to do the precinct referendum. Many many ppl who supported this said that they had voted for Rahm and were having Mayor’s remorse after the way they saw how he was treating teachers and many of these voters had kids in Catholic schools. Had Rahm worked w/parent group and not made LONGEST day LONGEST day~but started small and gave money to schools it should have gone to ~like the other districts who have made the day longer~A LOT of things would have been different. Incidentally, several LONGEST day/yr districts are looking into shorter days/yrs.

    Nationally and internationally Chicago schools are being watched. Rahm made a big mistake when he thought CPS parents weren’t educated and would just be oblivious to the longer day/yr making it meet the instructional minutes so he could give Murdoch/Wireless Gen a contract for numerous testing that is not even required. Ha & Murdoch who backed & paid for “Wont back done” just took another beating at the cinema.

  • 139. CPS Parent  |  September 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    132. CarolA – In my opinion 5 days less instruction makes a huge difference in an AP curriculum. In maths or the sciences specifically 5 days is an entire unit which is not covered or skimmed over. AP tests are very specific in what is tapped. Some selective enrollment schools have considered, in the past, asking CPS (and their teaching staff) for a waiver from the contract to start before labor day specifically to get more instructional days before the national dates for the AP tests.

  • 140. HS Mom  |  September 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    @139 agreed 🙂

    @124 “That’s true for any days missed–whether the teacher is sick; snow days; standardized testing days that require special bells and/or missed periods; etc. Since AP students are often very active in clubs and sports, many of them miss days for field trips, athletic events, and other school-related events”

    so on top of these days, we will miss an additional 5 days for AP

  • 141. CarolA  |  September 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    I stand corrected!

  • 142. Patricia  |  September 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Do people realize that an elected school board will likely NOT have a parent serving? It will be candidates backed by CTU or special interest groups like Stand for Children or DFER, etc. Even if one of these candidates backs a “parent” prop, they will do the sponsoring organizations bidding.

    Also, do people understand that an elected school board would eliminate LSCs? So parents with true skin in the game in their child’s school would not be able to serve in their own school. LSCs were established as part of mayoral control of the board and would be dismantled. (I think both CTU and CPS would love to see LSCs eliminated—an elected board is just the way to do it.)

    Also, what election cycle does the school board fall under? Most are under low turnout elections, further compounding the ease of special interests monopolizing the available seats.

    Lastly, it would likely be a very divided elected board, which translates to NOTHING getting accomplished. And having to wait for another several election cycles for the board to potentially turn over.

    No thanks! I think having the mayor accountable is preferable. He can change members quickly if needed.

  • 143. CPS Parent  |  September 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    To continue regarding AP classes – made more acute by the fact that most high performing suburban school districts start in in August .

  • 144. Patricia  |  September 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    One more thing, many organizations pushing for an elected school board have an agenda to take power away from Rahm, not to make the school district better. Using the guise of “democracy.” It will be a divided “elected” board making it difficult to get anything done. But, it will cut in half the amount of money the mayor controls.

  • 145. CPS Parent  |  September 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    142. Patricia – agreed – In my opinion, in Chicago, an elected Board would be a disaster. Probably a complete deadlock and an acceleration in charter school implementation.

  • 146. cpsobsessed  |  September 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Does anyone know what kind of time commitment being on the board requires?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 147. Patricia  |  September 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    CPSO, I am not sure, but during the strike, it sure looked like Vitalle put in way more than his $1 annual salary 😉

  • 148. cpsobsessed  |  September 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Agh, yeah. I hope he went to a spa afterwards.

    I guess my point is that to do the job right, someone needs to not have a full time job. I didn’t feel like once I started working and having a son who needs my attention on school nights that I could give proper diligence to an LSC role. Of course there were people who showed up one hour a month and that was all they did. I’d hope that elected board member could be able to devote time to it.

    I share your concerns, patricia. But I do feel that the city is a bit under the total control of rahm right now. I’d like to think that an awesome group of parents, teachers, and community people would be elected who would bring a resurgence to CPS, but seeing the difficulty of making this happen on an LSC, I’m a little skeptical. The way I’ve seen change happen on LSC is for a group to run as a ticket and encourage a large voter turnout. The group basically takes voting control. The question is: who can make that happen for a school board? Or is it okay to get a board with conflicting goals and let them debate/vote/duke it out?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 149. Patricia  |  September 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    CPSO, I hear what you are saying, but have little confidence that it would work as you describe.

    The budget for CPS is much larger than many if not most corporations and other government bodies. Do you really think an elected board would be qualified to manage the size and scope of the budget?

    Also, so much with education is tied to legislation. This fact drives me crazy and breeds inefficient/ineffective implementation. So much would be legislation driven.

    What is the election cycle? 4 or 6 years? Either case, for change to happen, a parents kid would pretty much be done with school if it took 12 years. I think the logistics of the elections would curtail parent involvement in an elected school board.

    Unless Rahm is mayor for 20 years, by the time an elected school board is implemented, the individual mayor is not the issue. Chicago has always been controlled by the mayor be it Daley Sr., Washington, Daley Jr. or now Rahm. CPS did NOT succeed when there was not mayoral control of the board either.

    Bottom line, the elected school board would be “politicians” in order to get elected. I have 3 colleagues who serve on elected school boards in their suburban communities. Two of the three are complete disasters with the only good district being very tiny and in a very affluent suburb. While the people I know are truly trying to drive positive change for students, the amount of corruption, patronage and favor payback done by their peers is disheartening. These are small districts, I shudder to think the increased corruption in a district the size of CPS.

    And, yes it is a full time job and then some. It is also pretty much unpaid right?

  • 150. local  |  September 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Does the BOE have a budget committee now?

  • 151. local  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    An “education” mayor. I have my eye peeled for that next mayoral election. Never bought Emanuel’s education platform. And I distrusted a bunch of his education advisors too. (Ditto for Obama’s education platform and advisors.)

  • 152. local  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    It’d be great for parents to start booking appointments during the BOE members’ new office hours. Based on what they’ve said, they would welcome hearing from parents (and maybe even teachers and other school staff!). You can book online, I read.

  • 153. cpsobsessed  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I agree! Someone here, book a time slot and report back!!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 154. local  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    @ 137.

    Ok, Angie.

  • 155. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    I def can see an elected BOE…that would be better than we have now. There are several politicians that will back it bc they know Rahm hasn’t provided CPS w/the best he could have. He gave Murdoch a contract for $4.7M for nonmandated testing that doesn’t help CPS but does help line Murdoch’s pockets. There are many ways to go abt an elected bd so Stand on Children & DFER don’t take over. Also, I know several on BOE of their schools and they run well~no BOE is perfect~not even in the wealthiest places and my friend was on Kenilworth’s, but the BOE we have now is just rubberstampers for Rahm instead of best interest of CPS kids.

  • 156. local  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    @139. CPS Parent | September 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    “132. CarolA – In my opinion 5 days less instruction makes a huge difference in an AP curriculum. In maths or the sciences specifically 5 days is an entire unit which is not covered or skimmed over. AP tests are very specific in what is tapped. Some selective enrollment schools have considered, in the past, asking CPS (and their teaching staff) for a waiver from the contract to start before labor day specifically to get more instructional days before the national dates for the AP tests.”

    I understand how uber-competitive college admissions has become for admission to the top, say, 25 MOST “selective” colleges, but it’s probably healthier to put the kibosh on the drive to the highest AP scores. Fewer selective colleges are granting college credit for high AP scores nowadays, so it’s less of a strategy for reducing college costs or knocking off college reqs. For the less selective, a 3 or higher AP test score will get you the credit and the req.

    Also, the pressure for high AP grades and scores can lead to unethical behavior (more dangerous than a missed week of instruction, imho) — example: Stuyvesant in NYC.

  • 157. Angie  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    @155. SoxSideIrish4 :”but the BOE we have now is just rubberstampers for Rahm instead of best interest of CPS kids.”

    Rubberstampers or not, the things they are pushing for, such as longer school day, recess and teacher accountability are definitely in the best interest of the kids.

  • 158. local  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Oops. Actually, I think you can now sign up to speak at the BOE meeting online. Probably have to call for the appointment with the BOE member now being offered, not book online.

  • 159. SkinnerNorthMom  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Dear CPS and CTU members,
    The revised CPS calendar sucks! Can you tell me the rationale behind adding 6 half days (so the teachers can have professional development for the second half of the the day; why not take 3 full days off and save some money on transporting kids on those 6 half days and forcing working parents to make arrangements for the 1/ 2 days), having 2-four day weekends in November, taking away Presidents’s Day (when most parents have the day off, but kept Lincoln’s Birthday on a Tuesday when parents work), and moving spring break up one week? Why not just add the 7 missed days (due to the teacher’s strike) to the end of the year while keeping everything else the same? Why not take away Lincoln’s Birthday and Veteran’s Day so the school year would not end so late? Why move spring break up a week?

    You claim you are making changes to benefit cps students and parents. Really?

    The silent, powerless majority (aka cps parents and students)

  • 160. SkinnerNorthMom  |  September 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    @40, I booked my spring break and summer break airplane tickets already. Yes, most if not all airlines are book spring break tickets.

  • 161. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    #157~Angie~No I don’t think CPS BOE is putting political agenda b4 CPS kids. Parents realize this and want and elected BOE. Now Rahm is talking abt having a hybrid, but would a 5/4 really be any different? NO! All those high stake tests that take away from teaching CPS kids is NOT in the best interest of CPS kids but it’s in the best interest of Murdoch.

  • 162. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    #161~I meant I DO think CPS BOE is putting political agenda b4 CPS kids. Unfortunately for Rahm, CPS parents are educated & read~something Rahm hadn’t expected.

  • 163. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    #160~SkinnerNorthMom~I don’t know any1 that is changing their plans for the new schedule. The former schedule came out, ppl planned accordingly, why change bc Brizard who the BOE gave concent to change the schedule on Tues. BOE meeting, did so w/out regard to parents?

  • 164. Patricia  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    @ SkinnerNorthMom. Like it! The Lincoln & Veteran’s seems so logical and keeps us from going longer into the summer.

  • 165. Angie  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    @161. SoxSideIrish4: “All those high stake tests that take away from teaching CPS kids is NOT in the best interest of CPS kids but it’s in the best interest of Murdoch.”

    We would not need so many tests if all the teachers could be trusted to do their jobs. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Plenty of them are phoning it in or blaming the external circumstances for their failure to teach, and plenty of principals are perfectly fine with that because they are phoning it in themselves.

  • 166. Patricia  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    @161, I almost agreed with you…….then your 162 correction 😉

    When I think about all the positive change for students in the last 2 years compared to the utter stagnation of decades prior, I have to give the new team credit. Perfect, no, but good things for students. Longer day, recess, longer school year, focus on pre-k, IB in HS, more of a focus on all neighborhood HS, former good calendar (that was recently screwed up), BIC seems to be swept under the carpet yet used by those who need it, NEWA growth based testing and likely cutting back on other tests, hiring more enrichment teachers, full day K for most, google platform systemwide, etc.

    I then contrast this in my mind to the complete and utter struggle to try and beg, plead, force, etc. etc. etc. to get recess school by school last year.

    If we had a wimp for a mayor…………I think we would be staring at status quo.

  • 167. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    #165~Angie~we wouldn’t have so many tests if Rahm didn’t give Murdoch a $4.7M contract for tests we don’t need. That takes away from teaching and is NOT good for CPS kids. Teachers need to teach not be giving tests all the time but it’s good for Murdoch/Wireless Gen~so Rahm will do it.

    #166~Patricia~thanks for the smile! There are many things that you and I agree on. I don’t think we have a wimp for a mayor ~however, we don’t have an educational mayor who puts CPS kids first. Longer day/year is so it meets the instructions minutes and he can still pay Murdoch for all his tests. Many parents are thinking of opting out of such tests, I have. The month of October is full of testing not teaching. Next yr the ISATs will be gone and with it~more parents will opt out of testing as they are educated on it. And YES we agree on another thing~former calendar was very good~the new one~many kids will miss days~many will not be there Columbus Day and Jan 3rd & 4th & finally the last four days they added to the end of the yr~ppl send their kids to summer camps many start on Jun 17th and then of course leaving for summer vacas. CPS will lose a lot of money for having the school open when many kids won’t be attending.

  • 168. cpsobsessed  |  September 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Just to understand these claims, why would rahm be interested in giving business to murdoch?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 169. jp  |  September 30, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Anyone know if Ogden has revised their calendar? I just checked on their website, and right now it appears that my track R kid will be off one week for spring break, and then my Ogden kid will be off the following week.

    By the way, many of you have far more sensible solutions to making up the missed dates. I am genuinely confused by some of the administration’s decisions, and am generally feeling pushed and shoved by all of the changes that have come down this year.

  • 170. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 1, 2012 at 7:30 am


  • 171. Diligent AP Papa  |  October 1, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Local #156 – Ridiculous! That’s your fall back. Your advice as a teacher is that it’s “best to put the kibosh” on attaining the highest AP scores and it leads to “unethical behavior”. This demonstrates a complete lack of consideration for students who look to attain their best. Denigrating those that actually value this educational system is counterproductive to any discussion about advanced placement courses.

  • 172. Skinnernorthmom  |  October 1, 2012 at 11:19 am

    @166, I agree with you completely regarding the positive changes in the past two years.

    Supporters of CTU talk about how they are fighting for the kids. Well, I am not convinced. Did they get the smaller class size? No! Oh, they got the board to send books to every school in the first week of school? I have two kids at CPS and I’ve never had an issue with that. If there were/are issues with that in the poor performing schools, could it be that the administration or teachers at those schools did not get their act together to order books? Air conditioning? It would definitely be nice, but how spoiled are we nowadays to demand for 100% comfort? How many of us went to a school with AC back in the 80s and 70s? If the mayor did not fight for reform, the CTU would have NOT done a damn thing to make life better for the students.

    Even if there isn’t too much reading and math added to the day, what I am seeing in practice, that I like, is more time for recess, a second language, art and music.

    Look, I support good teachers. I just don’t support the crappy teachers that the CTU is fighting to protect. Once the CTU put in measures to get rid of poor performing teachers and teachers who have been acting inappropriately towards their students, rather than protect a tenure teacher at any cost, then I will fully support them. I have had many terrible teachers myself and have seen several not so great teachers my son have had. Teacher evaluation is needed and there must be aan easier way to get rid of the bad ones.

  • 173. SutherlandParent  |  October 1, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Hope you are feeling better, CarolA!

    I was talking with some other CPS parents, and the only thing we can figure about the spring break switch was that someone at CPS screwed up by putting it the week after Easter initially, instead of the week before (where it has been for at least several years). Putting it the week before Easter allows Christian families to have Good Friday off, without making it an official school holiday. Since they had to change the schedule anyway, maybe they decided to make the Spring Break switch while they were at it.

    I don’t know that it’s a strong reason (we consider ourselves to be regular church-goers, and Good Friday is not exactly an all-day event for us), but it’s the only one we can come up with.

  • 174. 8th grade mom  |  October 1, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    For those saying the change in schedule is just a problem for the better off folks who plan vacations, think again. Many working parents don’t get flexibility in their vacation time, and have to put in their requests months in advance. This may not be vacation time to go somewhere, but just to be able to stay home with their kids because they don’t have other child care. They were in trouble during the strike, since they had no flexibility, and may have already made their arrangements as far out as spring break at this point.

    I’m not saying that this is the biggest problem ever, and that it is more serious than the many other problems in our schools. Just pointing out that it will affect a lot of middle to low income working families who don’t have flexible jobs.

  • 175. NewCPSer  |  October 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Yeah, like the poooor poooor Blaine district family in the Tribune. They made even the .00001% look bad.

  • 176. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    #174~8thgradeMom~true. It will affect low income working families who looked in advance for childcare and for trying to get days off to have family time w/their kids. This schedule was so ill planned but what can we expect from CPS when they don’t allow parent input? CPS will lose a lot of money during this new calendar.

  • 177. Patricia  |  October 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Spring Break schedule mystery solved? From some reading and “triangulation” of the old and new calendar 🙂 it seems Spring break moves because the quarter “end dates” change due to the strike. We lost 7 days of insturction with the strike and thus the first quarter end date changes by 6 days (I think because columbus is day off in contract and make up day in new calendar.) So, it looks like the end of quarter would cause students to go on spring break and immediately come back to finals unless it was changed?

    Old end of Quarter 3/28 and old spring break 4/1-5

    New end of Quarter 4/11 and new spring break 3/25-29

    In the Brizard letter it sounds like they were trying to let the students have a full week of instruction prior to the close of the quarter instead of having them come back to 4 day week to close the quarter.

    The “new now old” calendar timed spring break with the end of quarter which was recommended by the VIVA teachers and a lot of parents and teachers were happy about. But alas, it has changed 😦

  • 178. Aok76  |  October 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    175 tears

  • 179. cps dad  |  October 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    @177: commenting on your post

    From the cps
    “Spring Break: Spring break week has been moved up to March 25 to 29 from April 1 to April 5 to ensure sufficient instructional time before the end of 3rd quarter.”

    This does not say Before finals just sufficent instructional time.
    By my calculation (most likely off) by end of 3rd quarter the old calendar would have 130 instructional days as opposed to 129 for the new calendar. The students would have 3 full days back in school after the spring break. If they don’t know the information after 129 days of instruction they are not going to learn it in a week.

    Moving the spring break makes no sense. Even taking the CPS explanation for it.

    I just want to know if they are going to be lenient with absences. Putting a calendar out and then pulling it out from underneath us. My two kids are young and missing a week wont harm them.

    I know quite a lot of families who are going on their original spring breaks. Me being one of them.

  • 180. cpsmama  |  October 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    @177 Patricia- while that may make logical sense, there is nothing sensible about making multiple changes to a calendar in one year.

    OK- I get that they had to add the strike days back in, but…. after so many parents had to scramble for child care and use vacation days during the strike …. this is NOT the year to be causing further child care/vacation issues for parents without a **really** good reason. I just don’t think that CPS’s rationale of “Oh, it might not be good for the students to come back to a short week or to come back and take tests before the end of the qtr” is sufficient to make such an abrupt change.

    The CPS calendar should be set in January — particularly when it is going to make significant changes to the status quo. CPS needs to give ALL of its families a reliable annual calendar- just like they do for their precious Board members whose meetings are scheduled a year in advance. This “calendar switcheroo” is another debacle that perpetuates the view that CPS is inexperienced, unprofessional and incompetent.

  • 181. Maureen  |  October 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    172 —
    Here’s what was achieved. Adequate books were a problem, as is the persistently unequal funding of CPS schools by Central Office.

  • 182. HS Mom  |  October 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    @177 – I can see a definite advantage to being able to study for finals over spring break – interesting – especially with ACT’s coming up in April. I can also see why those with plans are uptight about it. My favorite solution would be to have individual schools decide their own spring break schedule. The CPS attempt to clean up the mess caused by teachers striking is obviously causing some consternation. They need to clarify their reasoning and give options to those having difficulties.

  • 183. Maureen  |  October 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    142 — Why an Elected School Board? One reason might be our city’s reputation for good government.

    “…Chicago was given the unfortunate title of “most corrupt” city in America in a new study by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

    The report cites federal data showing that, between 1976 and 2010, there were 1,531 convictions for public corruption in “the federal district dominated by Chicago,” according to the Associated Press.
    Since the 1970s, four of seven Illinois governors have been convicted, along with 31 members of Chicago’s city council.
    “The two worst crime zones in Illinois are the governor’s mansion … and the city council chambers in Chicago,” Simpson, a former Chicago alderman, told the AP. “No other state can match us.” “

  • 184. Maureen  |  October 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    142 — A second good reason for an elected school board is to rein in Wall Street’s penchant to make billions through privatization of public education tax dollars.

    “You start to see entire ecosystems of investment opportunity lining up,” Rob Lytle, an business consultant earlier this year told a meeting of private equity investors interested in for-profit education companies. According to Stephanie Simon of Reuters, who reported on the event, investment in for profit education has already jumped from $13 million in 2005 to $389 million in 2011. Among others, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase have created multimillion- dollar funds for education investments.

    These “data-driven” investors are not so much interested in students’ scores, as in the opportunities to cut costs by using online technology. Ironically, while reformers insist their goal is to develop more skilled teachers, a goal of their financier allies is to get rid of them. The central question, says education entrepreneur John Katzman is “How do we use technology so that we require fewer qualified teachers?”

    According to none other that Rupert Murdoch, the U.S. education industry represents a five hundred billion dollar opportunity for investors. In 2010, he hired prominent reformer Joel Klein from his post as chancellor of the New York City Department of Education to run Murdoch’s education technology company. A few months later the firm received a $2.7 million contract from the city.”

  • 185. local  |  October 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Subs: Oh, my.

    From District 299 blog:

    30 years said 1 day, 2 hours ago
    In reply to district299reader:

    I subbed for the past 3 years. Last year I was at one school almost exclusivly. I filled a vacent arts position, but only got sub pay. The school saved $$$ by not filling the position and used me. I was not certified for the position. That’s what the principal does. I was at another school filling a maternity leave for pre school. I have a type 9. So again I was only paid as a day to day sub. This same school had an 8th grade maternity leave which the principal filled with an unqualified teacher….paid sub pay. Principal saved lots of $$$ again. I should have been in the 8th grade, but than I would have had to be paid as a reg. teacher not a sub. Curiously in June the principal asked me to teach summer school. Out of 28 eight graders 14 flunked. She actually asked me to do whatever I needed to do to pass them on to high school because “I don’t want them back here”. Turns out last day of school she supposedly accepted their missing work and retested others. She passed them all. This is what is going on all over the district. I also had the same principal ask me to be the second certificate in a room of 47 fourth graders, “to keep the union off her back”This was the first week of school. This principal was holding the second 4th grade position open till her student teacher in the 6th grade room, who was the niece of the librarian of that school, graduated in January. I left in mid Oct. Called the union but I don’t think anything changed there. There is a shortage of subs. In the spring I was being called by two principals directly. By May you’re lucky if you can get a sub. The board closes the applications soon. They don’t accept new subs after the open enrollment date is closed. Good luck!

  • 186. local  |  October 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Interesting conversation with Rod Estvan re impact of new contract:


  • 187. local  |  October 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    @ 171. Diligent AP Papa | October 1, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I recommend The Overachievers for cpsobsessed parents. Nothing is stopping students from becoming educated people, but the race for admission into selective college has become insane.

  • 188. cps alum  |  October 1, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    @185–…this testimonial makes me sick to my stomach

  • 189. Patricia  |  October 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    @179 cps dad and @180 cps mama

    Just to clarify, I was by NO means saying the reasoning for moving spring break made sense! I was just sharing what seemed to be the reasoning as others were asking if it was due to Good Friday, etc.

    I agree that it really screws up a lot of plans for many. I also see that it may impact HS students more who face finals. Either way, it is not good to change calendars one calendar month into the school year.

  • 190. NewCPSer  |  October 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    It wasn’t a good idea for teachers to strike making it necessary to change the calendar.

  • 191. mom  |  October 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    So….people complaining about vacations, trips, parties, hmm…. whe n the teachers were striking they were selfish for not thinking about kids and their education…SO cant the same be said?? How is a vacation more important than your child’s education? If 7 days of missed school drastically “hurt” your child then a five day trip to Disney World is doing what?

  • 192. mom  |  October 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    “Supporters of CTU talk about how they are fighting for the kids. Well, I am not convinced. Did they get the smaller class size? No!’ So you are really blaming CTU because CPS did not agree to class size??? HUH??? How is this logical? Shouldn’t you blame CPS for not agreeing that class size matter. How again is this CTU fault?

    As far as missing books go–name one school that let’s teachers order books and have control of the budget and PO orders? Once again this is a management issue. Management as in CPS.


  • 193. NewCPSer  |  October 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    191 mom — because people on this board are not representative of the huge majority of CPS parents. They have the means and time to post. They have the means and time to vacation. Though they pretend to fret terribly over the “poor” kids and “south side” kids … ha, they are worried about their vacations.

  • 194. cpsobsessed  |  October 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    To be clear, one can fret about the state of education in poor neighborhoods AND still be mad about your pre-purchased airline tickets. Why would those have to be mutually exclusive?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 195. SutherlandParent  |  October 1, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    @189 Patricia, your logic behind the spring break move makes way more sense than my Good Friday theory. I’m just trying to ratchet up the black-helicopter, Area 51 conspiracies 🙂

  • 196. SutherlandParent  |  October 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    @193, to your point “Though they pretend to fret terribly over the “poor” kids and “south side” kids … ha, they are worried about their vacations.”

    Some of live on the South Side and can do both! 🙂 And yes, I know, Beverly isn’t what most people mean when they think “South Side.” Which sort of goes to my serious point–stereotyping isn’t terribly helpful. As some have pointed out above, last-minute changes to schedules affect everyone, including those who have the least flexibility and fewest financial resources.

  • 197. another CPS mom  |  October 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    A lot of poor kids head for Mexico or the southern states for the summer. They’ve got travel plans too.

  • 198. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 1, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I wonder if the BOE will change this schedule to put the Easter Break back where it was? I’m still hoping that with all the calls, faxes & emails CPS has received re the schedule~they will show that they do listen to parents. I think this would be should good will toward parents, considering their horribly tarnished rubberstamp reputation. I know this sound silly, but I’m still holding out hope.

    #196~SutherlandParent~you are correct~Beverly is a gem. Truly NOT what some1 would think of SouthSide~ w/the #1 Keller Gifted school, gr8 neighborhood school w/IB Mid Yr and montessori programs.

  • 199. SutherlandParent  |  October 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Sadly, I have to admit my theory over Good Friday was just a theory, according to one of those “reliable sources” I talked to who works for CPS. The original Spring Break date was based on the Track E schedule somehow, and the move was made because of changes to Track E, supposedly. I didn’t really understand the rationale, but I believe the person who told me. I’m hanging on to my belief in Area 51, though.

  • 200. local  |  October 1, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    How much would it cost CPS to hire subs if a lot of teachers take a Good Friday off for religious reasons? Does student attendance drop too on Good Fridays? Just wondering.

  • 201. arjrsmom  |  October 1, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    March 29, Good Friday, was originally a Professional Development Day. They would need a lot of subs. To be honest, though, CPS is open on a lot of other Religious Holidays and teachers need to take Personal Days for those.

    If you have complaints/comments, please email or call CPS tomorrow! I think the Bd. of Ed needs to approve this. They are not looking at this website – they will only know that people are extremely upset if they are contacted directly. Here is Brizard’s email –

    Also, does everyone realize there is a half day next week already?! As a teacher and a parent, I find this absolutely ridiculous!

  • 202. arjrsmom  |  October 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    oops –

  • 203. Angie  |  October 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    @201. arjrsmom :”Also, does everyone realize there is a half day next week already?! As a teacher and a parent, I find this absolutely ridiculous!”

    The half days are there because of the teacher strike, so place the blame where it belongs – on yourself! For the first time in years, we actually had a good school calendar, until you decided to walk off the job.

  • 204. SutherlandParent  |  October 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    @201 arjrsmom–Holy *^%$!!! Thanks for the heads up on the half day! SutherlandSpouse will be eating half a vacation day next Wednesday, since I have an unmoveable client meeting that afternoon.

  • 205. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 1, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    #203~Angie~it still has the potential to be a good school calendar if CPS BOE wants it to be. But once again they’ll rubberstamp it bc they don’t believe in parent voices being heard…that’s just one of the reasons we need an elected school board.

  • 206. Falconergrad  |  October 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    On the calendar we got from school it is very hard to tell just from looking at the grid calendar that wednesday oct 10 is a half day. I think there will be a lot of kids not getting picked up that day. They need to do a big push to make sure all of the parents are aware.

    This reminds me of how we all had no idea what time our kids would start and end their school day until mid or late summer. Very strange for a large institution serving and employing so many to be so disorganized and seemingly blasé about something that is really pretty important. Practical stuff matters!

  • 207. Frank  |  October 1, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Angie is back…..

  • 208. Frank  |  October 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    “To be clear, one can fret about the state of education in poor neighborhoods AND still be mad about your pre-purchased airline tickets. Why would those have to be mutually exclusive?”

    I wonder how many people commenting really have tickets purchased or are just moaning to moan? I would place good money on moaning to moan. I could be wrong, but……….

  • 209. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 1, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Well we had plans for Columbus day and are leaving Friday and coming home late Monday ~I’m not changing plans. As for Easter Break~I’m not changing plans…some ppl have to have their vaca scheduled a yr ahead of time and do it w/family in mind. Would have been nice if BOE had done the same thing that they would have done for their family.

  • 210. CarolA  |  October 2, 2012 at 6:21 am

    So, parents on this post are always asking for input. I’m giving you my vote opportunity. I’m asking what I should do because either way I feel it’s a loss for me. If I vote yes, then I’m a selfish teacher not thinking about the rest of the world. If I vote no, then we are in limbo for whatever amount of months while we renegotiate. If we renegotiate, what would parents want us to work on that can use our pay as a negotiating tool since it has to be related to that? Or should we just say leave everything status quo….no raise, no changes, no nothing. Leave the last contract as is other than the raises? I have a feeling it will be an overwhelming vote yes, but it’s worth asking the people who post here anyway. I don’t vote until 4:00 today so I’ll check back to see the comments. Just curious about the input. Thanks for your thoughtful remarks. I’m truly interested. This is not an unrealistic post. I am voting today.

  • 211. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 2, 2012 at 6:27 am

    CarolA, you are a wonderful teacher. I don’t know everything that is in the contract so I can’t give an educated answer. I’ve heard some talk from teachers abt things that were in/out of contract and things that were wrong/right. After reading the contract, I trust you to vote in the best interest of every1 and I will support whatever the teachers decide.

  • 212. CarolA  |  October 2, 2012 at 7:19 am

    @173 SutherlandParent: Thanks, feeling better. Isnt’ it funny? Just you making a comment like that makes me smile. Doesn’t take much to make most teachers happy. A friendly smile or thoughtful remark makes our day.

  • 213. Angie  |  October 2, 2012 at 7:35 am

    @210. CarolA: Let’s say the teachers vote no, and CTU goes back to the bargaining table. What are the chances that they will give up anything that they have already negotiated for the teachers in exchange for getting the things the strike was supposed to be about, such as nurses, social workers or school supplies? I would say zero.

    And if CTU is not willing to give anything up, and CPS does not have any more money to spend, then what would be the point of reopening the negotiations? To see if they can get any more perks for the teachers? Yeah, that’ll go over really well.

    Just vote yes and get this over with.

  • 214. EdgewaterMom  |  October 2, 2012 at 7:41 am

    @Carol. I hope that the teachers vote to accept the contract. I don’t think that contract negotiations are the best way to fight for more funding, smaller classes and more social workers, nurses etc. I think that we really need all of these things, but I don’t think that we will get them through labor negotiations.

    I think that the strike did bring some attention to these issues and I hope that it results in some changes eventually.

  • 215. Open thy eyes  |  October 2, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Angie, you’e a teacher hater. I guess the teachers in Evergreen Park are greedy, too. I am sorry you were forced to use CPS-it shows in all of your comments both here, on the Ravenswood blog and the Tribune blog. get some help because your negativity will/does affect your child.

  • 216. Angie  |  October 2, 2012 at 7:58 am

    @215. Open thy eyes: You are wrong – I do not post on other blogs or web sites. In case you haven’t heard, Angie is not exactly a unique name.

  • 217. Patricia  |  October 2, 2012 at 8:31 am

    @195 Sutherland Parent. LOL! I am certain there are black helicopters hovering over my kids schools every morning…………..or it is the moaning noise from the 1920’s furnace. Can’t tell, but it makes for a great conspiracy theory 🙂

  • 218. Patricia  |  October 2, 2012 at 8:33 am

    CarolA thank you so much for asking what others would think. You are very thoughtful. I agree with EdgewaterMom, much that is needed does not belong in a labor agreement. Let’s close this chapter, focus on the good that came out of it (for both students and teachers) and start making a list of what to improve next. Have a great day 🙂

  • 219. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Carol, I think there is only one way to get those kinds of big (expensive) changes made via the contract negotiation and that would be for CTU to say to the city and parents, “Ok, we’re really gonna do this. We’re gonna stick this out until we get the stuff the kids need, no matter what it takes, so get ready.”

    Part of me kind of wishes that would happen because as I’ve said before, CTU has awesome power to mobilize in a way that no parent group does. And the power to greatly immobilize the city via striking. But that would be at a huge cost to both parents AND teachers.

    I think we have to figure out a new way to fight for this change more forcefully and effectively. Whether it is Raise Your Hand or another group, there has to be a lot of teacher and parent backing to push for change. Or perhaps even sneaky ways like Mr Edelman used. It’s fair game, right?

  • 220. James  |  October 2, 2012 at 9:31 am

    #219 cpsobsessed —

    “[T]hat would be at a huge cost to both parents AND teachers.”

    And, uh, kids. A long drawn out strike in which CTU stayed off the job until the education system was completely revamped from top to bottom would be completely devastating to innocent kids and their education. That’s why the law says that strikes cannot be over certain issues and why some states (God, how I wish Illinois was among them) prohibit teacher strikes altogether. Children and their educations are hurt badly by them — every one of them, of whatever length.

    Those bigger issues must be resolved another way, not by divisive and hurtful strikes. Hopefully, we’ve all (maybe even CTU?) have learned that lesson.

  • 221. Charles  |  October 2, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I have always felt that Rahm’s decision to send his kids to private school was his right and did not preclude him from being a strong advocate for the best public schools.

    However, there is not a chance in h#ll that he would have allowed this calendar change if his kids went to CPS.

  • 222. Marcy  |  October 2, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I agree with Angie saying this:

    The half days are there because of the teacher strike, so place the blame where it belongs – on yourself! For the first time in years, we actually had a good school calendar, until you decided to walk off the job.

  • 223. CarolA  |  October 2, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Thank you to those that gave an opinion in regards to my concerns for today’s vote. Special thanks to SoxSide. I think CPSO is right. I truly believe that things happen for a reason. The only way to move forward is to do something united….students, parents, and teachers. The CTU keeps sending me emails saying the fight is not done meaning that we will continue our journey for the things that we couldn’t negotiate. I am willing and able to join it with other parents in a fight for more school nurses. That’s my number one concern. Next in line would be class size followed by social workers and counselors. I’m up for anything. In the meantime, I hope all of you who have been complaining about the new calendar have emailed or phoned Brizard. Don’t take this lightly. I’ve sent my email. Half days are terrible for all. They are not productive days for anyone concerned. That’s why they got rid of them several years ago. We are stepping back in time. It really doesn’t matter where you place the blame….get it fixed or at least try. Complaining won’t accomplish anything.

  • 224. Boing Boing  |  October 2, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I don’t understand. How is the Union at fault for decisions CPS made in changing the calendar? Of course the CTU bears some responsibility for the necessary makeup days because they chose to go on strike. But all calendar decisions about when and which days are at the discretion of the Board.

    And how is the Union responsible for the half days? We’ve heard Union members in this forum explicitly state that the CTU fought vehemently against half days because educators nearly universally abhor them. Do you just refuse to believe that? What’s behind it?

    Can someone explain please? Especially the second question.

  • 225. Marcy  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    CarolA – are you currently a CPS teacher? Are you off today?

  • 226. Angie  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Bruce Rauner tells it like it is.,0,7189405.story

    Why the teachers’ labor contract stings

    “The strike revealed a key lesson: teachers unions, long allies of Democrats, will attack politicians of either political party who try to rein in their monopoly power, their monopoly perks and their lack of accountability for student academic performance.

    Look at what the CTU did:

    • It blocked merit pay, so thousands of great teachers cannot be paid more for superior performance.

    • It forced Chicago Public Schools to continue to pay unaffordable “step” and “lane” salary increases regardless of a teacher’s effectiveness with students. Teachers automatically receive these salary bumps for earning advanced academic degrees or certificates (lane), or for adding another year of seniority (step).

    • It delayed tenured teachers’ job evaluations until at least 2015 so that incompetent teachers can keep their current “satisfactory” rating and thus go into the new recall/rehire pool.

    • It forced student academic growth data to stay at the minimum level in job evaluations allowed under state law, so that the union bosses can continue to game the system by pressuring principals to give inflated job reviews.

    • Most tragically for taxpayers, the CTU took away CPS’ contractual ability to reject unaffordable salary increases in tough economic times.”

  • 227. Duty free lunch  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Hey Marce,
    Thanks to the longer day we get to do what everyone else in America gets-a lunch!

  • 228. Marcy  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    great! It’s about time! 🙂

  • 229. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    226 —
    Bruce (“This means war.”) Rauner — is a billionaire who imported Jonah Edelman and his PAC Stand for Children to pass IL SB7, and who is vehemently anti-union. Maybe you work for one of his PACs?

    Rauner, like other mega-wealthy private equity investors, funds PACs like Democrats for Education Reform. Its arm, Education Reform Now, spent millions on those relentless ads during and after the strike. (Could have air conditioned 30 schools, but nooooo.)

    Angela Rudolph works for Democrats for Education Reform’s office here in Chicago, and not long ago, she said for the record that she supported the CTU. Although DFER funded anti-union ads. (?)

    “Despite the ads critical of CTU, Democrats for Education Reform staff say they support teachers unions. “We are supportive of the bargaining rights [teachers] have,” Rudolph says. “What we have been most troubled by is this notion that we are anti-teacher or anti-union. We are a Democratic organization and one of the cornerstones of the Democratic Party is unions.” ”

  • 230. sen  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Has anyone heard when school will start for the 2013-2014 school year? Is it true there will be no more track E?

  • 231. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    226 — The real problem with the CPS budget is the mayor’s objectives — which IL SB7 — pushed by our billionaire investment managers — allowed him to do.

    1.) Greatly expand charters at a time when CPS states there are many under-enrolled schools.
    2.) Lengthen the school day — an expensive proposition if you want it to be a quality day and not just more seat time.

  • 232. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    3.) And spend a fortune on over testing.

  • 233. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Btw —
    A charter school rally is planned for this evening at UIC to yell for more funding. UNO will be there.

    The more funding that goes to charters, the faster they open, and the faster they leach students from traditional public schools. The now under-enrolled schools must be closed, shedding more union teachers and forcing many students to cross gang lines.

    One big reason hedge fund managers have created front groups like Democrats for Education Reform to push for charters is the Clinton-era New Markets Tax Credit. It is worth 39% and allows investors to double their money in 7 years — risk-free.

    Btw, you may recall that the New Schools Venture Fund gave UNO a $250,000 contract to organize rallies in support of charters. In other words, the investors in charters are attempting to make it look as though there is a groundswell of public support for new charters by paying UNO to organize protests.

    A 2010 Catalyst story describes a Ball State U. study that shows Chicago charters rely on private donations to a greater degree than any other major city.

    No surprise then, that many charters will be at this rally tonight. What is surprising is that the investors in New Schools Venture are wanting help from CPS now, when it is running a large deficit and it would not be prudent to undertake an aggressive expansion of charters whose performance is not measurably better.

  • 234. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    What is school reform?

  • 235. Angie  |  October 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    @229. Maureen :”Bruce (“This means war.”) Rauner — is a billionaire who imported Jonah Edelman and his PAC Stand for Children to pass IL SB7, and who is vehemently anti-union.”

    And that is exactly why I like him and agree with his assessment of the strike and its results.

    And I’ve said many times that I don’t work for any of the organizations CTU shills are trying to connect me with. I’m a private citizen who happens to hate the public sector unions and their ability to screw the taxpayers in order to extort more money and benefits for themselves.

  • 236. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    So, you hate union teachers who may get a 2% annual raise.

    But you like billionaires who are able to screw the tax payer by diverting millions of public fund into tax-advantaged invesments in charters?

    When we know charters don’t perform better?

  • 237. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Wall Street sees profit in education. Obscene, risk-free profit.

  • 238. SPED TCHR  |  October 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Have you tried to enroll your child with special needs into a charter? Crazy Bruce wants to blow up all of the public schools…..where would you send your child…go ask Bruce….”when he’s ten feet tall”

  • 239. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Maureen, so I have to ask — the only reasonable explanation that rich people would be interested in funding school reform is to make money? It couldn’t possibly be that they are people with a ton of extra money who look at the urban school systems and like many of us, see that something like only 30% poor kids 30% of kid can read and so they think “this is messed up. it’s unacceptable. something has got to change.”

    The only explanation can be “easy money”? That can’t be the easiest way to make money in this economy. They could just buy Apply stock.

    Are there similar articles out there about Bill Gates’ efforts to stop disease in third world countries being profit driven as well?

  • 240. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    After the hedge fund managers make “their” millions from public education, they just hate paying taxes on their gains. This piece explains how one man manages it.

  • 241. Angie  |  October 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    @238. SPED TCHR : “Have you tried to enroll your child with special needs into a charter?”

    No, I came to my neighborhood school and was told that my child will be evaluated and then sent to a different school that has the appropriate deaf program. So how is this different from what charter schools are doing?

    BTW, I’m very happy with that deaf program, so don’t take it as a complaint.

  • 242. EdgewaterMom  |  October 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Angie, I think that what Sped Tchr was commenting on the fact that although you seem to be a strong supporter of charter schools, they rarely accommodate special needs children. So, a charter school would not likely be an option for a child with special needs.

  • 243. SutherlandParent  |  October 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    @239 CPSO, I was just thinking of the Gates Foundation and its anti-malaria efforts! I’m sure there is money to be made in education, if one is determined to do it that way. But I agree there are probably easier ways to add to one’s billions. Check out last month’s New York Times article, “Many Chicago Charter Schools Run Deficits, Data Shows”

  • 244. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    243 — The fact that charters run deficits doesn’t mean investment fund mangers are not making money.

    It means only that charters are paying out more than they are taking in.

    Paying for what we don’t know. No one sees charter financial reports because as a non-profit, they do not have to make them public.

    No FOIA, no open meetings act apply either.

  • 245. Angie  |  October 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    242. EdgewaterMom :”Angie, I think that what Sped Tchr was commenting on the fact that although you seem to be a strong supporter of charter schools, they rarely accommodate special needs children. So, a charter school would not likely be an option for a child with special needs.”

    But neither is my neighborhood school, nor any magnet or selective enrollment school I might be interested in. None of them are going to hire teacher of the deaf to accomodate just one child.

    So why are you singling out charters?

  • 246. Cap_Bucs  |  October 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Maureen, if charter schools can get the same results as neighborhood schools, isn’t that a good thing. They do so with less public money per student. The get support from corporations and foundations to bridge the money gap. Both the state and city are running massive deficits. It would be great if we had additional public money to fund education, but the well is dry.

    If they can produce similar results for less money, the only downside is less unionized teacher jobs.

    The more charter schools we have that can attract corporate and foundation dollars, the more money left over for the children in the neighborhood schools. Who cares if someone is making money (and I 100% agree with CPSO that there are much investment options out there for hedge funds).

  • 247. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    If you google charters and special ed and here’s a bit of what comes up.

    Reading the reporting on this topic shows that charters do not do well by special needs children — who include a wide array of needs beyond deafness. Your child’s specific experience is not easily applied to this general point.

    Charter Schools Still Enroll Fewer Disabled Students

    “Charter schools in most states continue to enroll proportionately fewer students with disabilities than traditional public schools, a new government report shows.

    Across the country, disabled students represented 8.2 percent of all students enrolled during the 2009-10 year in charter schools, compared with 11.2 percent of students attending traditional public schools, according to a Government Accountability Office analysis of Department of Education data.”

    September 30, 2012
    Twin Cities charter schools enroll a smaller proportion of special education students than St. Paul and Minneapolis district schools. The special education students who do attend charters tend to have less intense needs than the students with disabilities attending district schools. Why is this happening? And what does that difference mean for funding in district and charter schools?

  • 248. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    @Sutherlandparent, thanks, that was a really great article (seemingly unbiased as well.) I guess I assumed that charters, by nature, would continue to get private funding, just part of what they’re all about but CPS wants them to be self sufficient. Seems challenging.

    So now I get why they’re protesting today — their per-pupil funding has been cut by CPS, consistent with the cuts in the rest of CPS.

    Interesting. I really am okay with taking some of this private money to offer some school options. But they do make it kind of hard to root for them, ya know?

  • 249. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    246 —
    1.) Charters get worse results in a large percentage of cases, and only comparable in many others. They have cost many middle class jobs, and disrupted communities of students, and they leave fewer tax dollars for neighbohood schools.

    But they are never closed. (Stanford CREDO, Rand studies.)

    2.) Charters are not cheaper. In Chicago they get more private funding than in any other city. (Ball State U. research) It will always cost money to educate children — no free lunch in this life.

    3.) There are very few, if any, investments where you can double your money in 7 years without any risk. Especially i this interest rate environment.
    Read about the New Markets Tax Credit. (Google Juan Gonzalez, NY Daily News.)

    We are being sold a myth about charters.

  • 250. Sped Mom  |  October 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Some families with children who have special needs that exceed what can typically be addressed by local, neighborhood schools will be “tuitioned out” by CPS. The effort to be tuitioned out for an appropriate education for your disabled kid might almost kill/bankrupt you, but it’s the public school system that pays for the schooling and busing once it’s granted in an IEP. Tuitioning out can be more effective (educationally and financially) for CPS than attempting to educate the child with low incidence disability in the neighborhood school.

    I am unclear if Angie’s deaf child is tuitioned out or at a CPS-sponsored deaf program. Used to be that deaf students would attend a state boarding school, if available. Prior to the 1970s, many children with disabilities were not included in public education. The law that morphed into IDEA 2004 changed that.

  • 251. Sped Mom  |  October 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    @Angie: “But neither is my neighborhood school, nor any magnet or selective enrollment school I might be interested in. None of them are going to hire teacher of the deaf to accomodate just one child.”

    Doesn’t WY still have a HS deaf program with mainstreaming?

  • 252. Angie  |  October 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    @247. Maureen: “Across the country, disabled students represented 8.2 percent of all students enrolled during the 2009-10 year in charter schools, compared with 11.2 percent of students attending traditional public schools, according to a Government Accountability Office analysis of Department of Education data.”

    Seems like these numbers represent the difference between the children who can be successfully mainstreamed vs. those who require a self-contained classroom with a specific type of instruction?

    The articles you posted seem to support that.

    “The G.A.O. report showed that in six states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, charter schools enrolled a higher proportion of disabled students than traditional public schools. And schools where more than 20 percent of the students had disabilities were more likely to be charter schools than traditional schools, in part because some charter schools cater specifically to students with special needs such as autism.

    The report’s authors posited several possible reasons for the overall disparity. Some parents choose public schools that have more established programs for students with disabilities, while some charter schools do not have the resources or teaching staff to support individual students’ needs. But in some cases, the report said, school administrators tacitly discriminate by discouraging students with disabilities from enrolling. ”

    “Parent choice inarguably impacts the difference in student enrollment. Some charter leaders say they gently discourage students with particularly challenging needs from attending their schools — that may impact parent choice.

    “I know that it probably comes across as charters not wanting the kiddos. That’s not the case at all,” said Karen Kennedy, director of Innovative Special Education Services, an organization that advises charters how to work with special education students “The bigger programs are more cost effective, have more resources.

    “The bottom line is, for those of us in this field in Minnesota, what’s best for the students?” said Kennedy.”

  • 253. Angie  |  October 2, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    @250. Sped Mom: My child is in CPS elementary school.

    “Doesn’t WY still have a HS deaf program with mainstreaming?”

    Yes, which is exactly my point. My child has to go to school that has the appropriate program, not the other way around. Winning the lottery or passing the SE test for another school is not going to change that.

  • 254. Cap_Bucs  |  October 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Maureen – There is a limited pot of public money for education. If the charters can attract private money, there is more left over on a per student basis in neighborhood schools. So they are not any cheaper overall, but they are much cheaper to taxpayers.

    I am not an advocate for charter schools, so I cannot site all the multiple studies. I know some people have refuted the Stanford study and everything I have seen indicates that overall charters perform at the same level as neighborhood schools.

    The doubling of money in 7 years is related to the use of some short term tax credits for charter school construction. I do not know where this is happening, but they are not building new charter schools in Chicago, just taking over existing facilities. They even buy the facilities from CPS, making more money available for the kids in neighborhood schools.

    So these magical returns are not available for people running charter schools. I am sure there is corruption related to some charter schools, I am also sure there is corruption relation to some teacher unions.

    The only argument against the charters is that they take away union jobs. They increase the total dollars available for public education, but attracting millions from corporations and foundations. How can that be a bad thing?

  • 255. SutherlandParent  |  October 2, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    While I am charter-neutral (or maybe charter-conflicted is a better phrase), I am with Maureen on the lack of accountability and transparency with charters. That is very worrying. The Chicago Reader had a fascinating article in July 2011 where it sent each charter school operator in the city a FOIA request for “copies of their most recent annual budgets and payrolls, including the titles and salaries of everyone on staff.”

    Seems like, as with most charter results, some did a terrific job and some did a poor job. I think it’s hard to paint all charter schools with the same brush.

  • 256. SPED TCHR  |  October 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Maureen-Thank you for your informed replies.
    Angie-It is true in CPS that low incidence populations are centered in specific schools-makes sense in order to deliver services BUT if a parent refuses then CPS will hire a teacher and an aide if needed for one child, It happened at my school with a child with autism. Mom checked out other programs and found them to be”unsafe” so she refused placement.

    Angie-Charter schools in CPS do not even offer another charter placement -they do not assess children suspected of having a disability. We have had children transfer in from charters in sixth grade who can not read-we have had to refer and place them into special education.

    What is happening at the charters is that they are full of new teachers. A child who is behind entering school who experiences year after year of new teachers is doomed. There are no veteran teachers to advise new teachers. The principals at the charters often are directors which means no education background. I have friends and co-workers who have newly graduated relatives who
    are unable to pass the teacher certification tests and are snapped up by the charters. I would verify on ISBE the certification of any teacher claiming to be special education certified in a charter.

    Charters do what the Catholic schools have been doing for years. They simply say, we do not have a program for your child-the difference is the Catholic Schools are not siphoning off monies from the public school students.

    You seem like an intelligent person and probably know a lot about special education. My suggestion is that you check out how to become a court ordered advocate for children with disabilities who
    are wards of the state( we have a lot). You will find out very quickly that not all children with disabilities in CPS are as lucky as your son. Maybe it will help you understand why teachers, especially SPED teachers are so angry.

  • 257. Paul  |  October 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    So, do charters do a better job than the neighborhood school they replaced? If charters perform about the same as CPS neighborhood schools, on average, and they replaced a below average school, then average is better, right?

    If Rahm closes 80-100 of the worst performing schools, and replaces them with charter schools that generally perform at the average, then that’s improvement, right?

  • 258. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Charters may be somewhat cheaper in some instances to taxpayers for now. But that may be about to change. Especially if tonight’s rally has the outcome the mayor — and the hedge fund managers who back him — want.

    If it does, then charters’ percentage of per-pupil spending will be raised. And your argument that charters — while not measurably better, and while not providing services to Sp Ed children, are still cheaper — completely evaporates.

    There is one more point — more kids from outside CPS are going to charters.

    UNO (and similar charters that focus on a specific ethnic group) drain kids from Catholic schools.

    CPS had not been paying to educate those kids. But they are now, because UNO has come to their neighborhood and opened a shiny expensive new charter, complete with fireworks. (Google: UNO new school fireworks) And UNO charters cost more to build than CPS schools.

    So now CPS is paying to educate more pupils than before and the cost associated with that rises.

  • 259. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Btw, just to be clear, I am not saying that the principal,or the charter management company who is running the charter, is benefitting from this private equity fund which invests in the construction of new charters.

    It is the billionaires who put together the fund, and any investors, who benefit.

    And the sale-leaseback of existing public school buildings is another way for a private equity fund to make big returns — think of the parking meter deal as a template. They bought the rights for $1 bln and are charging motorists to park in perpetuity and raising rates as they see fit.

  • 260. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    This may help clarify how important accountability and transparency are.

    Non-profit charters are not subject to the freedom of information act or to the open meetings act.

    In a democracy, should millions and billions of American tax dollars go to organizations that do not have to file financial reports?

  • 261. Maureen  |  October 2, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    25 7 — Many charters tend to perform about the same — which means that if they replace a low performing school, then the charter is low performing, too.

    But many charters perform worse than the schools they replace. There has been extensive disruption in the community and nothing has been gained

    We all might be guilty of a little magical thinking when it comes to charters. Charters are not magic.

  • 262. SutherlandParent  |  October 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    @260 Maureen, I don’t think that’s accurate. What’s your source for that? I’m looking at 105 ILCS 5/27A-5

    (a) A charter school shall be a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, non-home based, and non-profit school. A charter school shall be organized and operated as a nonprofit corporation or other discrete, legal, nonprofit entity authorized under the laws of the State of Illinois.

    (c) A charter school shall be administered and governed by its board of directors or other governing body in the manner provided in its charter. The governing body of a charter school shall be subject to the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act.

    Whether any group complies with a FOIA request or the Open Meetings Act is another question, of course.

  • 263. Cap_Bucs  |  October 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    The NY Times article linked above in 243 cites $21 million in private money that is going to charters. There is no way to replace that money.

    You also cannot have it both ways regarding charters pulling from private schools. In areas that neighborhood schools are performing better, they are pulling kids from private schools as well. Hamilton was almost shut down due to under enrollment just 3-4 years ago, and now hardly anyone from outside the boundaries can get into the school. I would imagine most of those kids used to go to privates.

    Following your logic we should shut down the charters and all the selective enrollment schools. That would really free up funds in the short term as everyone went private. But then the entire tax base would evaporate as everyone moved to the suburbs. You could look at Detroit or Baltimore for examples of that type of mentality.

    Bottom line, charters offer more choice and they can operate more efficiently by bringing millions of corporate and foundation money into the system. They help keep the tax base in the city, and that should help everyone. But they do not help the union, which is why there is so much of a push against them. I full agree that charters need to be held to the same or a higher standard of accountability as other public schools. But shutting down charters in Chicago will not help out anyone other than CTU at this point.

  • 264. HS Mom  |  October 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    @261 – please show your source on this. Here is a link to information on charter performance provided by CPSO

    Also, do you consider safety/security a factor in the popularity of charters as opposed to “magic”?

    The Stanford report has already been sited as a study that supports illustrates that charters in Illinois perform better than their public counterparts. We don’t need to reestablish this.

  • 265. local  |  October 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Charter teachers can unionize. They just can’t affiliate with the AFTCTU/

  • 266. local  |  October 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Daydream: Wouldn’t it be so fabulous to have a bunch of education reporters in Chicago who research the truth and publish it? I mean, really, really accurate reporting. Fully fleshed out. Not just he says/she says. Sigh. That would be so nice.

  • 267. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    @local, I so agree! I have an education-induced headache right now. I feel like everything is either “charters will solve all the problems!” (Bruce rautner op ed piece today) or “charters are ruining everything!”

    I guess I don’t need more reporting to conclude that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but I’d like to learn more about the topic from some in-depth, unbiased sources.

    I also hope to attend a tour of an Uno school and perhaps urban prep this year. I’ll post when I’m gonna go in case anyone wants to join me. I feel weird talking about charters having never set foot in one. I’ve been offered some other opportunities to see other charters too that I can hopefully pursue.

    Just not enough time to fit it all in!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 268. anonymouse teacher  |  October 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    @257, right, unless the charter performs at average (meaning better than the school it replaced) by taking a different set of children. If the same exact children perform better in a charter than they did in a neighborhood school, of course, going from bad to “meh” is an improvement. But, imo, the ONLY way to tell if a charter is truly doing better is to do so with the same exact students as were in the neighborhood school. Different students change the variables and it can no longer be viewed, if one considers the scientific process valuable, as valid if the variables are not the same.

  • 269. James  |  October 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Oh man. Another thread that has become all about charters. Again.

    Does anyone know if the BoE can reject this proposed new calendar and tell CPS to draft another? And, even if they can do that, does anyone know if there is any realistic chance that they will? I just want to know, after all this disruption, now into October, what the calendar is once and for all.

  • 270. Patricia  |  October 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Where has Family Friend gone? He seems to provide the most insightful information about charters without trying to “sell” charters.

    @Maureen, you seem pretty set that charters are the devil’s work, but you may want to go back to old threads where Family friend did a very nice job of explaining how charters work in Chicago from his insight and experience.

    @ SutherlandParent. I remain Charter Neutral, but I really like your “charter conflicted” term 😉

  • 271. Aville Mom  |  October 2, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    I don’t pretend to be an expert, or even terribly knowledgable about charters. What I do think is that charters can offer greater choice for families and mold themselves to meet the needs of a community more easily than a Cps school is able to do.

    The Charter I am most familiar with is Young Women’s Leadership. A single sex school specifically targeting young women who do not qualify for selective enrollment programs. If a family has a low B or C student and cannot afford private school are there options within CPS for a smaller, single sex high school setting?

    It always seems ironic to me that we spend so much time bemoaning testing and how test scores do not accurately measure a student’s achievement or a teachers skill on this board, and yet when it comes to charters the conversation always points to test scores proving that they are not “better”

    I agree with Cpsobsessed that the truth must lie somewhere in the middle. A single sex model may be great for one kid, STEM better for another and the traditional model like Lane the best for yet another. I just think choice being able to offer all children the option of finding an educational “fit” should be the goal.

  • 272. HS Mom  |  October 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    @271 – Well said Aville Mom – very reasonable way to think about it. I like having options too along with the ability to match the school with the child if at all possible.

  • 273. NBCT Vet  |  October 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I want to point out that the Stanford CREDO study found that while 17% of charters perform better than traditional schools, twice as many (34%) perform worse.

    Even if they perform about the same on the whole

    Terry Mazany, formerly Interm CEO at CPS and ardent supporter of the Ren2010 privatization plan, has had some interesting thoughts on charter expansion:

    “We simply do not have any budget flexibility to allocate dollars that will not lead directly to improved educational outcomes for all of our students.” Charters, through various selection process and procedures, both pre- and post-enrolment, serve quite different populations than neighborhood schools. Most people know Chicago charters underserve special education and ELL students. Also, according to CPS, about 65% of students come from outside the neighborhood in which the school resides. Mazany rightly focuses on serving *all* students, not just those targeted by charters.

    “If we think about schools as needing to improve—not needing to be closed—then we focus the system’s resources on support and development.” This, rather than destruction and demolition that destabilizes communities and leaves entire swaths of the city with *no* neighborhood school options at all.

    Education is a most important resource. Just as we all benefit from bridges and roads and water infrastructure and other public services all children should also benefit from a robust and healthy education system. [Society benefits, too.] Charters, however, by their very nature are in direct opposition to the notion that every single child deserves the best education available. That’s my biggest frustration. The private, free market system holds that some are deserving of one type of education and others are deserving of something less or, at the very least, quite different.

  • 274. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I personally don’t care about a nationally study. I care about chicago where it looks to me that based on isat scores, charters are doing better than non.
    Not saying they don’t benefit from their selection bias, just like magnets do but the numbers look better. Why should we care about what charters are doing in other states with other demographics?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 275. NBCT Vet  |  October 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Agreed that the national study is not totally relevant to Chicago even though our fair city is one of the incubators of the charter movement. The charter movement is not local to Chicago and the rationale that are used to promote it are in use on a national scale. It just provides a little broader perspective.

    And I know we’ve talked about it plenty before, but charter schools *should* be mopping the floor with traditional schools based on their various student/demographic selections and freedoms.

    CPSO, what do you think about the bulk of the rest of my comment that came after the national context? Any thoughts?

  • 276. LR  |  October 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Ok, I am really behind here, but just read this post. If I thought my kids were really going to get valuable learning in on those last few days of June, I’d send them. But, there is no point in even making those days up. After Memorial Day, both my kids are mentally disengaged (as I suspect, most kids are). For this reason, I wish they would go to a calendar that ends the week after Memorial Day and then have fewer random days off during the year.

  • 277. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    @ncbt vet: I think mazany’s point is one of the key ethical debates about charters.
    Okay, for the sake of argument, say charters in chicago do slightly better than non-charters. It would be great it ALL cps kids got a steller education. But that doesn’t seem imminent. So do we provide it for some or keep charters out on principle?
    Would that money for charters really have been enough to make a noticeable difference in neighborhood schools or would it have been more business as usual?

    I think I personally feel like let’s give a small number of kids something better which seems to be an improvement on the status quo.

    I remember one of the far suburbs went through a huge debate on that a few years ago. Half the town wanted charters and half didn’t for that exact reason.

    I don’t know…it’s making my head hurt because there’s no good solution.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 278. Todd Pytel  |  October 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    @277 (CPSO) – “Would that money for charters really have been enough to make a noticeable difference in neighborhood schools or would it have been more business as usual?”

    I think the question is less about the charter money and more about the charter students and families.

  • 279. CLB  |  October 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    @262 Only the governing body is subject to FOIA and OMA. What this means is that other operations of the charter that would be subject to FOIA as a regular public school are not subject to it because the charter is a non-profit corporation.

    Of course, CPS often ignores FOIAs and the Public Access Counselor’s letters to reply to the FOIA request.

  • 280. falconergrad  |  October 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    @226 Angie-

    Wouldn’t merit pay be unaffordable as well? Teachers are saying they want to be paid the same as their counterparts. And rejecting testing as a measure of their worth. The tests were never designed to set teachers’ salaries.

    CTU did not “take away” CPS contractual ability to reject unaffordable salary increases. They won it in the negotiation. The old contract was expiring remember? Which means it was no longer valid. So over and done with.

    “• It blocked merit pay, so thousands of great teachers cannot be paid more for superior performance.

    • It forced Chicago Public Schools to continue to pay unaffordable “step” and “lane” salary increases regardless of a teacher’s effectiveness with students. Teachers automatically receive these salary bumps for earning advanced academic degrees or certificates (lane), or for adding another year of seniority (step).

    • Most tragically for taxpayers, the CTU took away CPS’ contractual ability to reject unaffordable salary increases in tough economic times.””

  • 281. falconergrad  |  October 2, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Is there any good data out there about a parent’s out of pocket expenses for a given school, whether charter, neighborhood, magnet, SE? In talking with a friend, I get the impression her kids’ charter school education is costing her a lot more than my kids’ neighborhood school. I am talking about fees paid at the beginning of the year, as well as any other “mandatory” monies paid by parents. Does any money a parent pays directly to any CPS school get counted in the total and affect the per pupil spending data? Do parents at charters pay more or less or the same for a field trip?

    CPSO, I would love to see a thread where we compile the school fees charged at the beginning of the year at individual schools. Or a section on the forum where we compile our own data as parents by reporting what actually happens at our schools. Could use that for lots of things. Sometimes I think we would get more reliable and expanded data that way. CPS only recently changed the school enrollment numbers on the website from the 2009-10 to 2011-12 numbers. Totally skipped 2010-11 as far as I could tell.

  • 282. Ltwain  |  October 3, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Aren’t charters the vehicle to privatization of the public school system? The pension burden is reduced, parents would have a choice, and more importantly, the city would get out of the business of running schools. No one thinks that CPS is well run – not teachers, parents, communities, business world. Why keep this structure in place when there is an alternative? There’s no guarantee that every charter is going to be spectacular, but at least it’s nimble enough to change on the fly. Creating a successful charter should be rewarded. I wouldn’t mind paying for that if kids learn. As for all these tests, surely the psychometricians could think of other ways to measure student growth. Then charters wouldn’t have to be driven by test scores and test prep. Maybe the educational theorists have to help redefine what student growth is.

  • 283. Teacher4321  |  October 3, 2012 at 5:53 am

    Re Chicago and Charters (sorry if someone else has already posted this info).

    Firstly, the way some charter models have worked nationally is very different from how they work in Chicago. KIPP nationally has some great results. Here in Chicago they closed one or two campuses of KIPP because of how poorly the model was working.

    Secondly, there are a few well known charter models that are succeeding.

    However, it is important to think about Chicago, the political mess of “kickbacks” that is Chicago and look into charters not performing as wonderfully, but watching their expansion as they continue to replace neighborhood schools, “weed” out kids they do not want and still manage to perform only marginally better if not the same or worse.

  • 284. CPS Parent  |  October 3, 2012 at 7:11 am

    280. falconergrad – Regarding – “Most tragically for taxpayers, the CTU took away CPS’ contractual ability to reject unaffordable salary increases in tough economic times.”

    I though this feature is defined by Illinois State law and over-rides any language that might be in a contract?

    Any one here (lawyers) familiar with this issue?

  • 285. anon  |  October 3, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Morning. Here are two points to chew over today, if you’d like.

    1.) Unions play a useful role. Just look at Texas, Ohio and Wisconsin.
    2.) CPS deliberately weakens struggling schools, then opens a charter in the same location that has all the repairs, programs like preschool and white boards a mom or dad could hope for.

    1.) This excerpt is from a recent interview of Diane Ravitch in TExas, the birthplace of corporate-style education reform and NCLB.

    Q. The Chicago teacher’s strike, which just ended last week, focused heavily on some of those issues, like the need for more arts and music teachers. Did the strike help to change the national conversation around education?

    The strike was a very important moment in current history. At least to the people who were paying attention, they realized this was not really a strike about money. Because the money issues had been resolved before the strike. It was not really an issue about a longer school day, because that had been resolved before the strike too. It was the teachers saying enough is enough. They’ve had almost 20 years of non-stop reform and Chicago schools are still in trouble. They have schools that have no librarian, they have schools that have no arts teachers.

    One of the things they resolved in the strike was to have textbooks on the first day of school. Now how hard is that?

    I’m not a member of a labor union, but the value of the labor unions is that they provide a seat at the table when the legislature and the governor want to cut the budget. And when you take them away from the table, there’s nobody there to say, “Stop, you cannot take 5.4 billion out of the public schools” [as Texas lawmakers did in 2011].

    Texas has effectively gotten rid of that voice. Wisconsin has gotten rid of that voice. Ohio is doing it’s best to get rid of that voice. In state after state, you have Republican governors killing the unions so that they don’t have to negotiate with anybody—they can just cut the budget.

    2.) CPS: We won’t invest in struggling schools. Exceerpt from Julie Woesthof of PURE.

    They say that if they tell us what they’re doing, we’ll get upset.
    What are they doing? Here’s what CPS Chief Operating Officer Tim Cawley told reporters over the phone yesterday: “If we think there’s a chance that a building is going to be closed in the next five to 10 years, if we think it’s unlikely it’s going to continue to be a school, we’re not going to invest in that building.”

    Here’s why they don’t want to tell us: “We know increased transparency could potentially lead to increased conflict,” Cawley said. “Somebody sees money going to one school and says, ‘Why not us?’”

    Why indeed? …

    The Tribune ran this quote from me (Julie Worsthof):

    I think it’s deliberately starving these schools so that they become weaker and weaker before they’re killed off. It shows that they feel absolutely no responsibility toward schools that are struggling. They’re deliberately undermining them.

    I called it “appalling.”

    I remember a teacher from the Andersen School (now closed) who reported at a CEFTF hearing last year that, as soon as plans were made to open a new LaSalle II magnet school in its building under Renaissance 2010, the building got new tile, new lighting. new window blinds, and new whiteboards. CPS removed the asbestos (remember, bang for the buck!). During the co-location period, the new school received a new library and new washrooms. The drinking fountains in the LaSalle part of the building were fixed, but not on the Andersen side. Students from Andersen were no longer allowed to enter at the main entrance, which was only for LaSalle students.

    The student body at Andersen that year was 1% white and 97% low-income. The student body at LaSalle II was 32% white and 60% low-income. You do the math – “bang for the buck,” right?

    Meanwhile, the state-mandated Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force ought to call a special meeting to discuss the implications of Cawley’s admission.


  • 286. Maureen  |  October 3, 2012 at 9:07 am

    If you’ve got a little time, here’s Bill Moyers on ALEC model legislation. IL SB 7 was ALEC inspired.

  • 287. SPED TCHR  |  October 3, 2012 at 11:07 am

    #285-excellent points-please post this at District299 blog-I’d say post at the Times and the Tribune but they seem to be drinking the charter Kool-aid in 64 ounces….

  • 288. arjrsmom  |  October 3, 2012 at 11:29 am

    If you have concerns/complaints about the updated CPS calendar, I finally found CONTACTS!

    1).Board of Education – Susan Narrajos – she is the secretary to the Board of Ed. She forwards all emails to the Board members – email address –

    2). Tony Howard – He works in the calendar/logistics decision making department of CPS – (yes, two ts – not a typo)

    3). Call your alderman! Have them notify Mike Rendina, who is the liason between them and the decision makers. The more calls to yor alderman, the better.

    Instead of venting on this website, let the decision makers know how upset you are!

    Spread the word!!!

  • 289. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Ben Joravsky has a Reader article about charters today. Unfortunately I can tell within a few lines that I don’t agree with his way of looking at data since he notes that no charters are in the top 10 schools (uh, no kidding, those would be test-ins.) Just like when Chicago Magazine declares Decatur the test school in CPS. Makes me grumble.

  • 290. Maureen  |  October 3, 2012 at 11:34 am

    287 — Pleases feel free to re-post anywhere you like to go. I used to follow district 299. Over time it became clear that Alex Russo is a supporter of corporate-style ed “reforms”.

    Why CPS teachers bother with his site is beyond me.

  • 291. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I was thinking more about whoever said earlier in the week that they appreciate that Rahm is making changes to CPS compared to Mayor Daley. I agree with that. If we had continued on at status quo I think it would have been shameful.

    The thing that bugs me is Rahm’s insane forceful, “do it big!” mentality.

    Longer day? I’ll give you the longest damn day in the country!
    Test scores? Yeah, they’ll count as HALF your appraisal!
    Charters? Let’s build 100!

    It’s like he read a pamphlet called School Reform 101 and assumed that cranking up all those reformy things to 11 was a good idea since MORE must equal BETTER. I’m for trying some new stuff but dude, let’s proceed thoughtfully, ok?

  • 292. kiki h.  |  October 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    You nailed it, CPSO. Drives me crazy.

  • 293. Get it Done...Now!  |  October 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    291. cpsobsessed I had the opportunity to hear Daley speak about CPS and education a few times and had discussion with one time and I don’t doubt for a second that he was honestly passionate about kids and education but as far as moving things to a better place it was Chicago politics as usual.

    I think with Rahm everything in life is a negotiation. He asks for double and ends up with what he wants, which is working well for him. Why that style? I think it’s characterologically based. I remember reading that he and his brother were brought up in a super competitive atmosphere. It is also why I voted for him and will again. He gets stuff done.

  • 294. OutsideLookingIn  |  October 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    @285 anon – It appears that you’re using LaSalle II as proof that CPS deliberately starves neighborhood schools then opens fancy charters to replace them (your assertion at the top of your post for #2). Because LaSalle II is a magnet, is your issue with charters, magnets or both?

    Personally, I think if folks are strongly against charters for “starving the schools” they should be against magnet and SES schools as well for siphoning particular types of students and families away from neighborhood schools. Otherwise, it just kind of smells like a pro-union agenda to single out the charters for a beating.

  • 295. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    #291~CPSO~that’s how I feel and most the parents I’ve talked to at my children’s school. Ppl are offended with his ‘do it big, do it now’ style and not having parent input. Too many ppl have Mayor remorse. In my book (and many others) he’s one and done. What a let done. He could have really helped CPS instead coming in w/my way or the highway, trying to control teachers which burned him, and the refusing the meet w/parent groups. Say what you will abt Daley~he had an open door policy and always met w/parent groups.

  • 296. ltwain  |  October 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I’m mixed on Rahm. Things continue to be urgent at cps, esp. at low performing schools – can get worse pretty easily. So he tries to implement changes that have to be made system wide, whether or not that school needs it (full day). Can he have been selective? Sure, got a couple of years of public hearings? Let us say he changes 5 schools to charter a year. It will take 20 years to hit 100. He might as well do nothing.

    If there is anything that I like so far, it is REACH. It is the right way to do performance management. Student data directly related to teacher practice.

  • 297. SutherlandParent  |  October 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Just as an FYI, as I mentioned earlier, I’d emailed JCB about the changes to the spring break schedule, along with my concerns about the Board of Ed’s tendency to make decisions in a vacuum without parent input. Here’s the reply I just received, which is pretty much exactly the response I was expecting:

    “I’m writing in response to your email regarding the 2012-2013 Chicago Public Schools calendars, which had to be revised to make up days lost from the strike and to meet the terms of the tentative agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union. These changes provide the time needed to deliver a full year of high quality instruction for students and time embedded to support teachers as they continually monitor student progress toward learning goals.

    I have received a number of phone calls and emails regarding the change of Spring Break and the addition of the half days of student attendance. While CPS understands the inconvenience that these calendar revisions may cause to some of our families, the changes were made in the best academic interest of students after receiving input from our teachers’ bargaining representatives and other labor organizations representing CPS employees.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to the 2012-2013 revised CPS calendar.


    Jean-Claude Brizard

    Chicago Public Schools | CEO”

    I forwarded the same email to my alderman, with more explicit concerns about other trends in CPS tied (in my view) to a lack of parental input, including the staggering amount of standardized testing going on. Still waiting to hear back from him.

  • 298. cps dad  |  October 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    @297 thanks for posting this. Waiting on my letter which I”m sure will be exaclty the same.

    I still don’t know how moving spring break helps. And who actually works on a half day. basically wasting 3 days right there.

  • 299. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    #296~Rahm could have followed the other cities that went to longer day~no district went longerday all at once~but Rahm had to~prolly to show other mayors he could do it~instead of being interested in what is best for CPSkids.

    #297~that’s what I would expect from Brizard. Rahm, Brizard BOE~they don’t care abt CPS kids.

  • 300. Angie  |  October 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    @294. OutsideLookingIn: “Personally, I think if folks are strongly against charters for “starving the schools” they should be against magnet and SES schools as well for siphoning particular types of students and families away from neighborhood schools. Otherwise, it just kind of smells like a pro-union agenda to single out the charters for a beating.”

    I think you nailed it. The main problem with charters is that they don’t contribute money to Karen Lewis’s 300K+ salary and CTU’s politician bribery fund.

  • 301. Get it Done...Now!  |  October 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    296. ltwain The 100 number bandied about is not all conversion to charter. Many will be consolidations due to under-enrollment. When I looked at utilization a bit a couple of years ago it seemed like there were about 150 schools too many, mostly K-8.

    I think doing it a few per year is too painful and gives the impression that certain neighborhoods are being targeted. Do 50 consolidations all at once. One big public outcry but at least all “tiers” would be affected. All the aldermen and State Reps can be outraged at the same time and then it’s done.

    My own neighborhood has 3 tiny elementary schools all within walking distance. Tremendous inefficiency of non-teaching resources and duplication of ancillary services and building infrastructure. One principal could manage all three easily – that’s $300,000 saved alone or 5 more teachers for the same amount of money.

  • 302. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Not sure if this was posted, but Diane Ravitch is speaking at a breakfast on 10/13. Tickets still available:

  • 303. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Oh, and I totally forgot on my Rahm/Charters 101 post:

    Testing? I’ll give you testinggggggggg!!!!

  • 304. cps alum  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    @301-back when I went to CPS, and before the reform that created the LSC, small elementary schools shared principals. My neighborhood school <300 students at the time and another school 1 mile away shared a principal.

  • 305. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I’m glad my alderman signed this new resolution. Did yours?|Text|Attachments|&Search click on pdf to view

  • 306. cpsmama  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    @298- There are actually 6 half days- not 3!

    My HS age kids’ classes will be 20 minutes long! Talk about a waste. And it makes our kids stay in school until June 24. So unnecedssary and completely avoidable.

  • 307. ThatsRight  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    294 & 300 – totally agree with you. Thanks for posting.

  • 308. Get it Done...Now!  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    304. cps alum Maybe that could be an interim solution. There is a huge shortage of principals anyway which is probably causing less than ideal candidates being hired.

  • 309. Maureen  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Today’s lesson: charters do not outperform unionized schools 
    Confronting the anti-teachers’ union myth with, you know, facts


    “A common theme runs through these messages, and it’s based on a myth that goes like this: charters far outperform unionized schools because countless “weak” teachers keep their jobs thanks to union contracts that protect tenure. No matter that tenure no longer exists in the Chicago Public Schools, or that factors like poverty and crime and parental involvement may play some role.

    Therefore, we must annihilate the teachers’ union so the “weak” teachers can be replaced with the untold thousands of “good” ones eager to teach in charter schools where they can work longer for less—at the whims of autocrats who can fire them for not doing what can’t be done. Like UNO CEO Juan Rangel did to David Corral, a former gym teacher fired for not being in two places at once.
    As if any teacher—good, bad, or mediocre—would want to come to Chicago for this.

    Look, charterheads, I get it. You hate the teachers’ union, if only because it funds rival political campaigns.

    But if you want to fight the union, at least use the facts. And the central fact is this: the nonunion charters are not outperforming the unionized schools. No, it’s just the other way around.

    I get no delight in reporting this. OK, maybe a little. But I have a soft spot in my heart for charter school teachers, especially those who work for lunatic bosses. I presume most of them are in for all the right reasons, like their desire to teach kids. But I’m also guessing that many would want to join a union or at least get the protection offered by a union-negotiated contract, just in case they accidentally look cross-eyed at their principal when he’s having a bad day.”

  • 310. Get it Done...Now!  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Saw this on District 299:

    Chicago high schools with growth of 3.5 or greater
    (2012 ACT – 2009 Explore)

    6.4 PAYTON HS
    5.9 YOUNG HS
    5.4 JONES HS
    4.8 CHGO ACAD HS
    4.7 LANE HS
    4.0 CHGO AGR HS
    3.7 KENWOOD HS
    3.7 OGDEN HS
    3.7 BROOKS HS
    3.7 SIMPSON HS
    3.6 AIR FORCE HS

  • 311. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Okay, let me ask this because all the research in the world will never convince some people that charters aren’t the cure-all and other people that they’re not the downfall of civilized society.

    Assuming it turns out that charters perform the same as other CPS schools, know the other advantages and disadvantages, would you, Maureen (and other charter opposers) still oppose them and on what grounds? Is the different type of educational experience they offer for some families not a valid reason for their existence? I’m also curious how people in the crummiest school districts feel about the efforts to squash charters? I’d genuinely like to know, if anyone has an idea.

  • 312. Angie  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    @309. Maureen: From the article you posted:

    “There are 541 elementary schools in Chicago. Based on the composite ISAT scores for 2011—the last full set available—none of the top ten are charters. None of the top 20, 30, or 40 either.

    In fact, you’ve got to go to 41 to find a charter. Take a bow, CICS Irving Park!

    Most of the 49 charters on the list are clustered near the great middle, alongside most of their unionized neighborhood schools.”

    If the charters are clustered near the middle, that means that they outperform the unionized neighborhood schools at the bottom of the list. So who is getting the better education – a child at that #41 CISC school or a child at #541? A child in #270 or a child at #540?

  • 313. Maureen  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    It will take some time to give a full answer, but let me say first, the effort by the richest in our city, on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley led by our mayor working isn’t to quash charters.

    It is to grow charters.

    It is to turn most, if not all, Chicago public schools into charters.
    Like in New Orleans. Where that district ranks 69th out of 70 in the state of Louisiana.

    So give me time to marshall arguments. But I have to say I have offered many here, with sources. And it doesn’t seem as though people want to believe the report, research or facts.

    And that is the power of myth and the $3.5 billion in fake front groups like DFER and Stand for Children and Stand First — plus relentless radio and tv ads — can do for public opinion.

  • 314. Maureen  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Get it done now —
    Tell it straight now. What does growth of 3.5 actually mean?

  • 315. Maureen  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Angie — take an honest look and tell me if you can find any charters at the bottom. I think you can. I have.

  • 316. CPS Friend  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Maureen – do you also go by the name Bernadette on different boards?

  • 317. Maureen  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    No — but maybe i’d like to know her if we think alike.

  • 318. Maureen  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    We are hearing that the mayor is proposing closing 200 CPS schools.

    City Council Resolution to Hold Hearings on CPS School Closings

    Today, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza filed this resolution sponsored by Alderman Bob Fioretti to hold public hearings on CPS School Closings:

    Signed by:  
    Alderman Joe Moreno 1
    Alderman Robert Fioretti 2
    Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. 27
    Alderman Pat Dowell 3
    Alderman Jason Ervin 28
    Alderman Deborah Graham 29
    Alderman Leslie Hairston 5
    Alderman Ariel Reboyras 30
    Alderman Roderick Sawyer 6
    Alderman Sandi Jackson 7
    Alderman Scott Waguespack 32
    Alderman Anthony Beale 9
    Alderman John Pope 10
    Alderman James A. Balcer 11
    Alderman Nick Sposato 36
    Alderman Emma Mitts 37
    Alderman Tim Cullerton 38
    Alderman Toni Foulkes 15
    Alderman JoAnn Thompson 16
    Alderman Mary O’Connor 41
    Alderman Lona Lane 18
    Alderman Michelle Smith 43
    Alderman Matt O’Shea 19
    Alderman Tom Tunney 44
    Alderman John Arena 45
    Alderman Howard Brookins 21
    Alderman James Cappleman 46
    Alderman Rick Munoz 22
    Alderman Amaya Pawar 47
    Alderman Michael R Zalewski 23
    Alderman Michael Chandler 24
    Alderman Joe Moore 49

  • 319. Maureen  |  October 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    From Diane Ravitch, Professor of the History of Education at NYU. She will be speaking Oct 15 at a breakfast meeting hosted by the City Club of Chicago. She is very knowledgeable and an amazing speaker. Well worth attending. I’ll be there.

    Excerpt: ” Based on your many comments, I have drafted the following letter to President Obama. Please tell me if you have any changes or corrections. Once the letter is edited, I will post it again, and whoever wishes to do so will send it on October 17, two weeks from today. The letter is called:”

    Teachers’ Letter to President Obama

    Read the letter at her web site.

  • 320. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Okay, so this is what parents are being pushed to support right now:
    School closings are bad
    Turnarounds are bad
    Parent trigger is bad
    Getting rid of teachers is bad
    Teacher evaluations are bad
    Charter options are bad

    This does not leave much room for change in a neighborhood with a really crummy local school as their only choice. What are we saying to those people, in effect? Just hold on because we’re fighting to make the current system better for you? Is that what they should hang their hats on?

  • 321. Maureen  |  October 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Or, are you suggesting, that the discord we are experiencing is somehow going to provide a better-than-even chance of shaking out for the good? (Have you noticed the over testing going on now?)

    A work force forced to accept mandates that have not been proven to succeed elsewhere doesn’t have a sunny outlook.

    Remember, 341 or 44 % of principals retired last year, and more than 3,000 teachers. They knew what was coming. Who is left to run the schools at a time of serious change?

    — The record on school closings and turnarounds where everyone including the janitor is fired is dismal.

    — Parent trigger has not worked well anywhere. It removes the democratic control of schools from local school districts.

    — Weak teachers need principals who are excellent managers who will train or fire as required. But if you read what Ben Joravsky wrote, the principals have the right to do that NOW.

    — Teacher evals have been disproven by research from a number of reputable universities. Other methods are better and fairer. The mayor’s approach originally offered at the negotiating table seemed designed to fire 5,000 teachers in Chicago. (Karafiol’s op-ed in the Sun Times and

    — Charters are a black hole for our tax dollars.Should tax credit permit hedge fund managers to make millions on the construction of charters? That money comes from our district’s budget.
    Their performance is not measurably better. They drain funds from neighborhood schools.

    Tomorrow I will provide a set of recommendations that many parents have supported.

  • 322. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Maureen, if we wait for everything in the world to be proven first we’d still be living in caves.

    Seriously, how do we look in the eye of parents in schools where kids can’t read and say “we can’t change anything. It’s not proven.”.
    “Proof” when it comes to education outcome is hard to pin down because you can never have a truly matched sample.

    Find me a document that “proves” that some other way to improve schools works. Please, find me that document because shooting down all the current ideas isn’t helping me realize how we’re supposed to improve this depressingly failing school system.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 323. ltwain  |  October 3, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    If the union could operate a school any way it liked, what would it be like? Would it be much different from how schools operate now? What practices would the union consider best and research based? Why couldn’t it open a demonstration school, a charter,to provide another data point in the ongoing discussion on school reform? It could be very persuasive, the results from this school.

  • 324. Mom#1  |  October 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Bravo, cpsobsessed. Maureen, other anti-charter school supporters and advocates of the Daley-era status quo, perhaps the money for the improvements of charter schools come from private donors. Not all people with means are evil and greedy. The unwillingness of people to change the failing Chicago public schools that is causing those with means to abandon public school for private schools. Change is needed. Change was needed decades ago. Good for Rahm to try to change this failing school system. Status quo is not an option.

  • 325. Paul  |  October 3, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    @322, I agree. What do parents in those “failing” schools want? What do they think is best for their children? If we ask charter proponents, they’d say that those parents want a choice and alternative to their failing neighborhood school. If we ask the charter opponents, they’d say those parents want more resources for their neighborhood school.

    If I was one of those parents, I think I’d say to go ahead and try to fix the neighborhood school with more resources or reform, but if that fails, then get rid of it and give me another alternative. I sympathize with unionized teachers and the protection of their jobs, but the education of my child is more important than that.

  • 326. Paul  |  October 3, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I know there is–and will be–a lot of teacher union and even parent advocacy group time and money spent on fighting against charter school advocates and school reform proponents. And, to me, it’s going to feel like the teacher strike all over again. If they win this fight, what have they accomplished? Teachers can go on strike for 7 days and shut down the school system to end up with moderately higher raises and benefits and a few nominal items for kids (i.e. textbooks on the first day). Unions and other groups can fight against evey school closing, turnaround effort, and charter opening and end up with a few less school closings, turnarounds, and charter schools. But, what will be the benefit for the kids in those failing schools?

    These reform advocates think that the school system is not working and are fighting for major change in an effort to improve schools. If the union and other groups put everything they’ve got into fighting them, what is going to be the final result and benefit for students in those schools? They get to keep attending their failing school? Teachers in those schools get to keep their jobs?

  • 327. Paul  |  October 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    The other problem I have with the charter topic is that I likely won’t be affected directly, and it feels like I’m telling other people what’s best for them. I feel much more comfortable advocating for my own children.

    See stuff white people like #62.

  • 328. EdgewaterMom  |  October 3, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    @327 I agree with you Paul. Yes, my child goes to a CPS school. But we were lucky enough to win the lottery and get in to a decent magnet school close to home. No, it is not perfect (overcrowded classrooms and this year they do not have enough math workbooks for each child…) but it is a good school. I am not comfortable telling other parents that they should not have the option of a charter school. If you are against charter schools, you really should be against magnet and SE schools.

    In theory, I understand the people who are against charters because they drain money from CPS. However, if my local school were crappy and I had a chance to send my child to Urban Prep or Noble Street, I would jump at the chance. What are we suggesting that families do when their local schools are not educating their system? I agree with CPSObsessed – so many people seem to be so against any of the changes suggested (turnarounds, school closings, charters), but so many CPS school are failing to educate the children of Chicago! I have yet to hear of solid suggestions on how to improve these schools.

    I am conflicted on so many of these topics. I agree that there is too much testing, but surely we have to be able to measure students’ progress – and teachers’ effectiveness. The same people who complain that testing is not valid seem to be the first to complain that charter schools do not perform significantly better on tests than CPS schools.

  • 329. Mom#1  |  October 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Edgewater mom, well said! Nobody likes standardized tests, but we are doing our children a disservice if we just complain about it or ignore it altogether. Our children will have to compete for a spot in high school, college and graduate schools. While I do not think that standardize tests are the best way to measure how much a child has learned, it is the quickest and cheapest way to assess that. Lastly, the silver lining to our children taking lots of standardize tests is that they will get use to taking them and not get test anxiety.

  • 330. Patricia  |  October 3, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    @CPSO–well stated on charters. I agree we can’t wait for everything to do anything.

    @Paul & Edgewatermom. Well said. Agree.

  • 331. CarolA  |  October 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Edgewater Mom: I don’t mind limited testing to measure student progress. I don’t mind administration popping in often, sitting down and observing often, making note of my teaching techniques and best practices. What I mind is tying my effectiveness to test results. I’m not sure how to explain it other than giving an example of something my principal does at our school for report card pick-up days. He gives out a “prize” (candy bar, mug, etc.) to anyone who gets 100% report card pick up. I am against this because it is out of my control whether parents come or not. I can post it on my website. I can send reminders. I can tell the children. Ultimately, they either come or not so tying my “reward” to it seems unfair. A good principal can see if I’m doing everything I can to teach the students. They can see If I am offering various levels of learning. They can see my various techniques and student involvement. I can’t control if parents make homework a priority. Being a first grade teacher, it’s not like my students can go home and do the work by themselves. If they are a struggling reader, they are going to need someone to sit and read with them. They can’t do it on their own. I can only do so much in school, but need support at home. It’s out of my control.

  • 332. Patricia  |  October 3, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    I want to comment on the concept that things should be slowed down and done in phases. Hint: phase 2 NEVER happens in a system like CPS. I think Rahm was smart to get the longer day in place across the board. I also appreciate the sense of urgency to improve education. Every year is HUGE to a student.

    As a geek, I do a lot of work in change management, org structure evolution and project management. So org structure and implementation are things I notice out of habit. As I think about the evolution of CPS central office…………..

    IMO, Arnie Duncan was the “king of pilots”. There were so many tiny and mid-scale initiatives under Duncan and almost none went system wide. It was probably all he could do to get things going in the very silo driven bureaucratic central office at the time. But it caused confusion at the school level, inconsistency between schools and really screwed up internal department structures. It was also very clear that CPS was very bad at doing anything system wide. So the good from most pilots probably never benefited all schools. He inherited a mess and did a decent job getting the wheels of change in motion.

    Huberman came in and plowed down the silos and gutted central office, killed central office morale, but did cut the budget. He is called the hatchet man for a reason. While some good people in central office were lost, overall it was a benefit to his successors. The silos were dismantled and budget savings realized for years to come.

    Brizard came in and one of the first things was to provide an organizational structure that actually reports up through logical department flows. There were actually entire departments that reported to nobody and he changed this . He completely eliminated some bottleneck departments—yeah! He seems to be focusing a lot more on implementation than ever before in CPS. Implementing the longer day, common core, NEWA and even the strike children’s first sites went fairly well compared to prior CPS standards. It is by no means perfect, but it seems like CPS is actually trying to implement things better. I think this is a good thing. A long way to go, but some good progress in under 2 years.

    Overall, I feel like when Daley left and Rahm was elected, his focus on education is like painting one wall in a room. Once you paint one wall, you realize the wall next to it needs to be painted too…………..before you know it, you realize you need to repaint the whole house. There is a lot more to do and the paint is still drying on the first “longer day” wall.

  • 333. anonymouse teacher  |  October 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    @332, I wish that we staff members felt even an ounce of Brizard’s structure that he supposedly has provided. I have never seen central office MORE chaotic than it is now and that’s saying something.
    @329, Your idea about kids not getting test anxiety because they take so many—I hope it works. I literally stopped testing, against all protocol today, because I had a kid in tears who was hyperventilating. He’s 5 years old. My thought? Go ahead, fire me. If that is what has to happen to stop this nonsense, freaking fire me. I dare someone to do it. The amount of testing kindergarten has is criminal, immoral, wrong. Maybe we should give kids lots of cigarettes, you know, so that inhaling the smoke from other people later on doesn’t bother their breathing too much either.

  • 334. Todd Pytel  |  October 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I completely agree with Mouse about the chaos. It’s unprecedented. Patricia – I know you believe what you write, but you’re not seeing what it actually looks like in the schools.

  • 335. EdgewaterMom  |  October 3, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    The amount of testing in the younger grades seems crazy! Who is mandating all of those tests?! Does every K student in CPS have to do this? It seems crazy, and counter-productive. What information is each test supposed to provide about the student? It really seems like overkill.

    I like having the NWEA tests taken a few times throughout the year to give a snapshot of where the student is and how they are progressing. That, along with the ISAT (even though I am not a fan of the ISAT) seems like plenty of testing to me. I will have to check with the teachers to find out what other testing they have to do this year.

  • 336. local  |  October 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I must note: I did not elect Emanuel or his shock doctrine.

  • 337. local  |  October 3, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    This keeps nagging at me: If CPS teachers as a corps are viewed so harshly, then why aren’t CPS STUDENTS and their PARENTS also viewed as harshly? I propose that students and parents/guardians who aren’t “excellent” should be severely sanctioned. I’m serious (maybe). Not sure how that could work.

  • 338. Todd Pytel  |  October 3, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    @335 – Testing regimes vary by school and network. I asked about K testing at my kids’ open house last night. They do Step for reading, but no Dibels. Only NWEA/MAP for Math (and reading), no MClass. And everyone does REACH, of course. So basically, NWEA as a pre/post assessment, Step as a continuous reading assessment, and REACH for teacher eval. That strikes me as not completely insane.

  • 339. local  |  October 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    My dilemma: While I think many of the “ed reforms” and the push to develop the charter/magnet/SE school sectors winds up killing the neighborhood public school system and hurts the city overall, I will do whatever it takes to get MY kids the benefit of any “reform” or “better” school (which I could define several ways, but will decline to do so because it would take all night). My individual decision for my family’s benefit/advantage is likely to be a bad decision for the group/CPS system.

  • 340. SR  |  October 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    @335/338 — my first grader’s school also does not do Dibels anymore, but does MAP for math and reading. The teacher didn’t mention Step. She did say that the MAP testing had been delayed for technological reasons (no computer lab this year), and that she is a big fan of the detailed results.

  • 341. local  |  October 3, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    The always-interesting Rod Estvan (from his Catalyst comment):

    Rod Estvan wrote 1 hour 56 min ago
    more problems for teachers coming

    There are more problems for the teaching profession than just the esteem or lack thereof the public at any one time may hold for teachers. In Chicago, we are faced with several demographic factors that will significantly reduce the number of teachers needed for years to come.

    There is a continuing decline in Chicago’s African American population. This it based in part on an increased out migration to the suburbs and an out migration to southern states. Chicago has ceased to be a major port of entry for Hispanics, more and more new immigrants are moving directly to suburban areas instead of the city itself. Overall because of the Great Recession fewer Hispanics are migrating to Chicago too.

    Lastly, for the fourth year in a row U.S. births fell. Birth rates for teen moms have been falling since 1991 and hit another historic low this year. This decline is directly impacting Chicago.

    The birth rate for adult Hispanic women dropped nationally 6 percent from 2010 to 2011. It declined about 2 percent for black women over the same period. The only area where the birth rate has increased has been for married women, it rose 1 percent. Married women regardless of race tend to be more financially secure and have a propensity to leave urban areas after the birth of their first child.

    These demographic changes will impact both charter schools and traditional schools in Chicago. Combined in the years to come Chicago will need fewer teachers, unless class sizes dramatically decline which given the fiscal situation of education seems unlikely.

    Rod Estvan

  • 342. Mom#1  |  October 3, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    @333. anonymouse teacher   The results of the “testing” for 5 -year-olds are use for assessment purposes only so that the teacher can gauge what level each child is at and the class is at in general, right? This way an effective teacher can cater the curriculum to his/her students. You had one out of how many that cried? Big deal. Maybe this child was sensing your aggravation and was frightened by it. You have to admit that not every child in your class is on the same reading and math level. How would you know one month into the school year where each child fall in reading and math if you do not properly assess each child? I’ve been to so many schools that claim they differentiate, but really do not. The only schools I have seen that properly challenge a student is one that continuously assess their students and differentiate the curriculum. So don’t try to mislead the people reading this blog by calling it testing, as if a 5-year-old would be in trouble if he/she does not test well. No, you are assessing to see if that child needs more help in one area or another and to properly place that child in the right reading group. A good teacher would adjust his/her curriculum accordingly base on the results of the assessments.

  • 343. Todd Pytel  |  October 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    @342 (Mom#1) – There’s been a lot of very detailed discussion about standardized testing here over the last several weeks, particularly toward the end of the last strike thread. Have you read those posts? It sounds to me like you’re missing some context here.

    Also, we can disagree about policy without questioning one another’s motivations. Mouse cares about her kids and their academic and personal success – accusing her of intentionally misleading people here is uncalled for. We’re all here because we want to see our schools improve, even if we disagree about how to accomplish that.

  • 344. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    We had our school open house tonight and both teachers complained about the testing.
    Laptops all over the room, chords, kids having to sit and wait quietly while others finished. One said they were all “troopers.”
    You know, I think I could deal with it if it helps the teacher know where each kid is at to start the year.
    I don’t see why they have to repeat it mid year and end of year when isats are in place.
    I think that’s what I’m gonna complain about….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 345. Maureen  |  October 4, 2012 at 5:08 am

    344 Google the cps assessment calendar for an eye opening list of the testing regimen.
    How much do you think this is costing? At a very rough estimate of $11.00 per child, per test. x 403,000 kids?

    Is that much testing of any real benefit to the kids?
    Or has CPS gone so far overboard that they have turned our schools into test factories?

  • 346. Maureen  |  October 4, 2012 at 5:22 am

     If you’d like to learn more about CPS testing, parents have organized a meeting for tonight. I hope someone will go and report back here. ; )

    Standardized Testing in CPS:
    What About Opting Out?
    Thursday, Oct 4 at 7 pm
    Has Park Field House, Logan Square
    2402 N. Washtenaw
    (On Fullerton just east of California)

  • 347. anonymouse teacher  |  October 4, 2012 at 6:26 am

    I have to leave for work, but I have plenty to say about testing. I am all for testing to know where kids are, and then retesting to continue to drive instruction. I am AGAINST tests that kids know they cannot do well on, tests that merely repeat what 3 other tests have assessed and the sheer amount of tests. NO, the crying child did not think he was in trouble and I am extremely gentle and understanding no matter what. So no, he was not feeding off my anxiety. It might also help to know that in my school, we’ve had kids puking, kids having bathroom accidents and many, many kids crying (including upper grade kids). So no it is NOT just one kid.

  • 348. CarolA  |  October 4, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Mom#1: Todd is right. Mouse is a great teacher. It’s unfortunate that her school has opted “in” for all tests. They are not all necessary. As others have mentioned…..REACH (which is basically to see if teachers do their jobs, not children) and NWEA are enough. NWEA is quite helpful to group the children. CPSO: It is necessary to do a mid-year test of NWEA to see progress and adjust learning groups. It’s a great assessment tool and answers all necessary questions for teachers. It doesn’t just provide a score, but lets teachers know what areas each student had difficulty with. Teachers can then group students with similar deficits together for the purpose of small group instruction.

  • 349. Angie  |  October 4, 2012 at 6:29 am

    @331. CarolA: “A good principal can see if I’m doing everything I can to teach the students. They can see If I am offering various levels of learning. They can see my various techniques and student involvement. ”

    That would be nice if it was actually happening in every school. But with 99.7% of the teachers in this city rated satisfactory, it obviously does not. There has to be an objective way to measure teachers’ performance even if the principal is failing on the job, and giving the good rating to everyone.

    @344. cpsobsessed: “You know, I think I could deal with it if it helps the teacher know where each kid is at to start the year.
    I don’t see why they have to repeat it mid year and end of year when isats are in place.”

    They have to repeat it to make sure that kids learn something over the course of the year, and don’t finish it right where they started. Otherwise, a bad teacher can waste the entire year and hand over the kids to the next grade without teaching them a thing. Where do you think those high schoolers who are several grades behind come from?

    As for the five year old who cried during testing, big deal. Little kids cry and throw tantrums when they don’t want to do something all the time. Been to the doctor’s office lately? Should every kid who starts wailing at the sight of the syringe be excused from vaccinations?

    This anti-testing opt-out movement is driven by the teachers who never before had to prove that they are actually doing their jobs. Of course they are going to resist any attempt to change that.

  • 350. CarolA  |  October 4, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Maureen: I would love to attend tonight’s meeting, but unfortunately, I’ll be having my first grade team over to the house again until very late. We turned in our unit plan and received it back with all kinds of additional questions by our principal. This unit plan was supposed to be a framework and perfected each year for the next year or two. That’s the way it was explained in September. Now, it seems it needs to be perfect right away. Our reading program does not follow the same timeline as our social studies program so we have to mesh the two together carefully because of the phonics skills we need to teach at the first grade level. It’s complex. It’s like mixing apples and oranges. We are doing a fine job week by week and I don’t know why we can’t “add to the unit” as we move along. It’s easier to see what will fit and what won’t as we work our way through the unit. I think I’m mumbling now so I’ll leave it at that. Please let us know if they meet again. Thanks.

  • 351. Worried tax payer  |  October 4, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Cps board, Brizard, and Emanuel can blame whoever they want for the schedule change that’s what their good at, never take any responsibility for anything. The fact of the matter is they switched the spring break without consulting anyone else as usual thinking only how they could stick it to the Teachers. Once again not thinking of the kids or their parents just how they could make life difficult for Teachers who were supported by the parents and kids,Brizard and Emanuel are total failures when it comes to working with anyone it’s their way or the highway. Just wondering how 2 people holding these 2 important positions came about one is more inept then the other, i feel sorry for this city and the CPS that these 2 boobs are running show, Yikes!

  • 352. CarolA  |  October 4, 2012 at 6:59 am

    BTW SutherlandParent: I got the same, EXACT response from Brizard, word for word.

  • 353. Patricia  |  October 4, 2012 at 8:24 am

    @ Todd and Mouse. I am not surprised you do not see the impact of changes in the school yet, but certainly hope you see them soon. That is IF central office is following through on the structure and getting the right people in place to lead the changes needed. I do not know any of those details, but hope they are following through. Two key words in change management sucess, being “persistent” and “consistent.” The management need for follow through is a drving rationalle for why I want stability in central office and to stop the revolving door management positions because it breeds chaos at the school level.

    That said, I am interested how teachers get a read on the chaos. I am sure some or many are blatantly (even comically) obvious! Do teacers work directly with central office? Or is the chaos noticed from what the principal says? Or is it from what teachers notice with parent struggles with central office? And/Or is it a combination? I have no doubt that you feel the chaos and am truly curious what your indicators are. This can help clarify where CPS needs to focus its efforts for less chaos at the school level.

    From my oustide perspecitve, I think CPS’ top priority should be to focus on ensuring less chaos at the school level. Really hone in on making sure the longer day, recess, books and other key things are running smooth (like clockwork). It is kind of like Daley’s strategy when he took office way back when. From what I recall, he said, “fix the garbage problem, focus on fewer rats and make visible things look better.” This was primarily so residents could “feel” that things were changing for the better and feel good abut their city. And when people feel better, city hall was less about putting out public outcry and more about focusing on improving the city. It doesn’t mean doing things just for show, but residents felt good about the changes. I think Rahms style scares a lot of people and the natural reaction is to freak out. Just a thought.

  • 354. LSMom  |  October 4, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Wish I could go to the meeting at Haas tonight, have to work late, but would also love to hear any reports.

  • 355. SutherlandParent  |  October 4, 2012 at 9:52 am

    @352 CarolA–Shocking! It’s like hearing there is gambling in Casablanca 🙂

  • 356. Mom#1  |  October 4, 2012 at 10:10 am

    @Angie, agreed!
    @mouse, maybe there is a bug going around your school that week. I volunteer at both my kids’ schools weekly and I definitely did not see or hear about kids puking, crying, etc. Wow! When I asked my kids about their day and what they did, testing was almost an after thought. My younger son’s class was reassessed every 6-8 weeks last year (in kindergarten) and I saw that the reading groups shifted to accomodate their growth. My older son, while also in a gifted program, was assessed in the fall and spring only and he barely learned a thing last year. He was not challenged because his teacher did not attempt to change her curriculum to address the children’s learning needs.

  • 357. Logan Dad  |  October 4, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Good Day CPS Obsessers!

    As much as I hate to interupt the hardline pro-charter/anti-charter chatter, I’m wondering if anyone can tell me if Brizzard has any children in the CPS system.

    Greatly appreciate your insight on this.

    Logan Day

  • 358. Patricia  |  October 4, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Hey Logan Dad! I believe Brizard has a child from a former marriage who goes to public school in New York. He also has a toddler and newborn (?) here in chicago, which are not school age yet, not sure if preshool age yet.

    BTW, you mentioned getting a group together “after the strike”. Are you still motivated? if so, count me in.

  • 359. OutsideLookingIn  |  October 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I’m not surprised to hear about 5-year-olds crying during tests. I am surprised we don’t hear more about Jr High kids crying during their tests.

  • 360. Logan Dad  |  October 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Hi Patricia,

    Thanks for the info on JC. I need to send him a note regarding the schedule change and wanted to say something about how the changes appeared to be done by someone without kids in CPS. So, now I know.

    And Yes. I’m still motivated to get parents together to work/try/think about forming or supporting a some type of organization that speaks for CPS Students & Parents. (Sure would have been nice if parents would have had some input into the revised schedule….) I’ve been wating for the new schedule to try to find a good day/evening that works with the school calendar. I plan on posting up something in the Activism forum soon.

    With all the changes coming up I think it benefits everyone (CPS, Teachers, CTU, Students & Parents) for some kind of CPS Parent Organization to come to life.


    Logan Dad

  • 361. anonymous  |  October 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    359 — How about kid throwing up before tests? That’s what I hear as they get a bit older. But here is another teacher’s point of view, as relayed to Diane Ravitch.

    Hey, Arne, Read This

    by dianerav

    In an earlier post, a parent expressed frustration that her child’s teacher never explained how awful the testing is, how it was stealing time from instruction and was of little or no value.

    Many teachers wrote to say that without tenure, they can’t take any risks, can’t upset administrators, can’t speak up without endangering their jobs.

    This parent has a different take. I wish Arne Duncan would read this and realize that he is destroying teacher morale and professionalism in schools across the nation. His policies are misguided at best, deceptive and harmful at worst.

    I spoke to the teachers at my sons’s school. They are EXHAUSTED. They hate the testing, they are fearful for their jobs but they are even more fearful that their beloved principal will be replaced if they don’t follow these crazy mandates. They are on a watch list now due to NCLB mandates ( special ed failure rate had dipped). This is the BEST school in the whole district- national ranking for newspaper, mock trial, debate, the highest SAT scores in the district, the highest number of AP passing exams score in the district and is ranked in the country. These fantastic teachers, who are dedicated to special needs students and needs of special students, are being crucified by the weekly lesson plans, the state oversight by under-aware and under trained ‘professionals’. These teachers HATE the tests being implemented by this VAM measure that is their prize for winning RTT. They are ridiculous tests that have no merit but the teachers who give their all to the kids in the class and before and after are flat out EXHAUSTED by these VAM measures.

    Burning out teachers, who are seasoned and fantastic professionals, for no educational reason at all. That is why parents don’t know.”

  • 362. Patricia  |  October 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    @Logan Dad. What is “activisim forum”?

  • 363. cpsobsessed  |  October 4, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Here is the sub-section on the new CPSO forum where you guys can post stuff on education activism.

    I know it’ll be like a black hole for a while. I’m going to start posting there more and adding some old links from articles, etc so we can build it up, but the more you post, the more people will read (hopefully) and maybe we can grow it into a source of information.

    Please note that you can TAG your posts there, which may help people find you post online.

  • 364. Patricia  |  October 4, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks CPSO. “pre senior” moment for me 🙂

  • 365. HS Mom  |  October 4, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Just curious as to how many parents here pay to have their children take additional tests and get additional test practice (through test prep classes, tutoring, on line programs)? Is there not a benefit to those who can’t afford to pay for this? I can see that there needs to be balance and redundancy seems to be an issue here. To me, every test my kid takes is a form of learning and excellent practice for tests that really count. It is a necessary skill. I do agree that if it interferes with the teaching process it can be unproductive. It does, however, sound like some of these tests compliment the teaching process. The good news is that once kids get to high school, all the test practice pays off since they are much more comfortable with class room exams and more confident going into college board exams.

  • 366. Paul  |  October 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I came across this article about Naperville revising it’s calendar and thought about how it contrasts with Chicago’s experience. Ah, the suburbs, with their responsiveness to parents and students.,0,7300260.story

  • 367. southie  |  October 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I met a new college student recently who had tons of AP credits and scores in the 4s with one 3, and a few semesters of almost straight A grades in college… and she couldn’t apply any creativity to problem solving and researching options. Sure this is just one young person, but I did wonder if she had become an excellent test-taker but had not really “learned.” Still, I have great hopes for her. FWIW.

  • 368. NotSurpriseD  |  October 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    367 Test prep (in school and paid tutoring after school) along with teaching to the test, it is no wonder these kids are not creative. They know how to spit out info, but they don’t know what it means. This is the result of teaching to the test to get into SEHS.

  • 369. cpsmama  |  October 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    @367 Sounds like “Paper Tiger” syndrome which is prevalent in Asian-American communities- superior test takers, great students, not much else.

    Interesting ( if a bit long & profane) article at this link:

    @366- that article really underscores how badly CPS treats its parents 😦

  • 370. ProudAsian!  |  October 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    @369, thanks for insulting all of us Asians who studied and work hard. Have you noticed how many Asians are doctors, lawyers, engineers, university scientists, professors, corporate executives, etc. We are “superior test takers, great students, not much else” huh? Jealous that you were not a good test taker?

  • 371. cpsmama  |  October 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    @370 – You’re kidding, right? I insulted Asians by referencing and posting a link to an article?

    Did I write the article? No- it was written by an ASIAN!

  • 372. HS Mom  |  October 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    @368 – If you feel that creativity and test taking skills are totally incongruous and that test taking is a waste of time, by all means opt out.

  • 373. NotSurpriseD  |  October 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    372 – yep, did that. Thank god for private hs.

  • 374. HS Mom  |  October 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    @373, So then you have no first hand knowledge of what goes on in any selective enrollment high school. Why such a broad brush about kids testing into SEHS not being creative?

  • 375. SutherlandParent  |  October 4, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    @360 Logan Dad, when you get a response from Jean-Claude, I’d be curious to know if it’s exactly the same as CarolA and I received. It’s posted @297. I feel Jean-Claude and I are on a first name basis now, since he responded with my first name.

  • 376. Logan Dad  |  October 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    @375 Sutherland – I’m confident I will receive the same e-mail that you received but will udpate if I hear back. I really don’t like the half days. They add unnecessary days to the overall schedule and push the end of school to nearly July. Couldn’t the teachers meet on last June days and let our kids start their Summer?

  • 377. anonymouse teacher  |  October 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Okay, real quick. I teach kindergarten. At the start of the year, I give the kids a letter name and letter sound test. By week 6, I give that same test again (it takes about 1-2 minutes per kid). If a child doesn’t know most of the letter sounds/names, I provide intensive interventions and then 3-4 weeks later, give it again. And then from there, I offer harder skills and continue to test kids within a certain range of comfort. I don’t test kids on reading simple sentences until they can at least read some of the words. And kids do switch reading groups frequently. Last year, I had 6 reading groups ranging from level A, B, D, E and K. You should see the data sheet I have right now just on letter names. I have each letter cross sectioned with each kid so I can see which letters most of the kids don’t know.

    I am not against testing. I am against testing when the sound on the computer doesn’t work, forcing us to test the same kid over and over and over and over because the technology is funky. I am against giving a child a “Reach” performance test that asks kindergarteners to write their answers at the start of school. Kindergarteners typically cannot do that. Why ask them to do something we KNOW they cannot do or even come close to doing? There should be ONE math and ONE reading test that is super practical, administered periodically, for kindergarten. NOT 2, 3, 4, 5 tests, all testing very similar skills. I feel like, mom #1, you think I am being lazy or dramatic or that I don’t care enough to really know where my students are. Perhaps that is not what you are trying to relay. But seriously, my life IS my job. I love my work more than anything and I offer my students the same quality of education I’d hope for my own children. I am complaining about the tests because I truly believe, based on tons of education, experience and studying children, that this overtesting trend in early primary is BAD for kids.

    And no, their is no bug going around. Kids are vomiting because they are afraid of failing. I had one little girl ask me, “teacher, do we have to go back and do that computer game again?” I have been calling it a game to help ease the stress.

    On another note, I was thrilled to learn that my school doesn’t have to give mclass math this fall. Now they said that last year and then changed their minds in December, so we’ll see, but at least that is one less test this fall. I have half a mind to call my network chief and ask to hear her reasoning for requiring so many tests (and those that don’t even give me the info I need, in some cases).

  • 378. mom  |  October 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    I hope lots of you opt out so my kids have an edge when testing for college and +. Thx!

  • 379. ProudAsian  |  October 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    @cpsmama, did you read the article? If you have, then you are not getting the point of the article at all. The Korean author’s main criticism of the Asian upbringing is that there wasn’t enough emphasis on socializing Asian children to American standard. Asian kids are told to “be modest, be humble, be simple,” but this, according to the author, is what keeps Asians from getting to the top of the corporate ladder. Asians do not show leadership qualities and seem to lack creativity. Being humble and modest are often interpreted as lack of confidence and being a follower. It’s simply a cultural misunderstanding. Asians hit a “bamboo ceiling” because we were told to be modest and humble, and not to brag. It is obvious the author has issues with his life choices. He enjoys being deviant, but at the same time, knows he is suffering financially as result of it. By the way, the biggest failure he name is himself. The other Asians he wrote about in his articles are all pretty successful. I invite others to read the article and not just the comments.

  • 380. Todd Pytel  |  October 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    @379 (ProudAsian) – I read the article and mostly agree with your summary. But the context here was the value of standardized testing, and I think that the article does touch on that to some degree. In several places, Yang’s point is that objectively tested academic achievement alone is not sufficient for success as it’s (perhaps contentiously) defined in America. Culture, values, self-image, and learned behaviors matter. And that’s exactly what the testing skeptics here are trying to say, only they’re considering the issue more broadly rather than examining one particular culture clash as Yang does in the article. Put more generally, the article inquires about what’s necessary to be successful in America beyond objective academic achievement – whatever those things are, they should clearly be something all of our schools care about and are measured by.

    I found it quite a thought-provoking article. Whether or not you agree with Yang’s overall characterization of Asian American culture (and I don’t have enough exposure to judge, personally), he’s a keen observer of the “soft skills” that success in our society requires.

  • 381. TeachD  |  October 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Dear Mouse,
    I agree with you, especially on the REACH performance task. I’m a SPED teacher and that test was cruel and unusual punishment for my kids. Some of my kids are severely delayed. I had to force them to read an article that was way beyond their ability, then they had to write an essay on it. My students are reading at a K and 1st grade level in the seventh grade. How this will show my students’ growth is beyond me. They sat and stared at this article. I even had one girl start crying hysterically.
    I don’t have a problem with being evaluated on my students’ progress, but THIS is definitely not a fair way for my students or me. My kids will make progress, but this assessment will in no way show it. NO matter what I teach, how I teach it, or what I do, my kids will not be proficient 7th grade readers by May, so according to REACH kids my will show no improvement.
    I finished this assessment two weeks ago and guess what I’ve been doing since then? Giving them the NWEA. By the time I finish that, we’ll move on to another assessment.
    CPS has a master testing calendar for testing on the employee website. We counted the days our kids will be testing and it’s 31.
    I agree with a certain amount, so I can gauge my teaching, be guided in what direction I need to go, and where I need improvements, but what CPS requires is crazy.
    I’m a parent. My kids don’t go to a CPS school. But I can tell you this: there’s no way I would allow my own children to go through all this testing. I feel horrible for my students. I wish their parents would take a stand and opt their kids out of a lot of these tests.

  • 382. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    #378~Mom~I don’t see how your kids will have an edge for college bc I decide to opt of testing for my kids. The best private school don’t test…I think my kids will have the edge bc while every1 is testing and prepping for testing, mine will be reading.

  • 383. ProudAsian  |  October 4, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    @380, Maybe Asians are fond of rote memorization because many Asian languages, Chinese for instance, can only be learned through memorization. I agree with you that soft skills are very important to success. I am a first generation immigrant. My parents worked 12-16-hour days 7 days a week to support our family. They never asked for any government assistance. My siblings and I worked starting at age 12. We were expected to cook and clean our home. They were on survival mode, so they did not have time to learn about American culture or what was valued in American culture. No, my parents did not force us to do well at school. We just did because we knew it was expected.

  • 384. HS Mom  |  October 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    @380 Todd – the referenced post #367 was about college board AP testing. I think that’s a whole different animal than Standardized tests given at the elementary level. Whereas these tests alone are not sufficient for success, they required to determine your pass level of the class. There is also the class itself with a class grade that is independent of the college board test. Standardized tests taken along the way do enforce methodology and reasoning skills. I think even those most efficient with testing would agree that standardized testing and test prep alone is not a substitute for good teaching.

  • 385. Melissa Adams  |  October 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Rahm Emmanuel, I feel that the decision that you have made about the school days is just ridiculous. Why would you take away Presidents day then add one full day class where we know students will just be bored senseless? I think it would be better to just take away the week from the student’s intersession. I don’t think that the reason for the calendar being switched is because of the strike. Regardless of the fact that it was a choice, you could have just done the right thing. I would like to also inform you that you would not be getting my vote.

  • 386. Ltwain  |  October 4, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    The beginning of year tests are meant to be a point of reference to the end of year tests. Progress is the difference between EOY and BOY. Expectations should be low for the BOY. Students haven’t been taught anything yet, so they shouldn’t do well. We shouldn’t be worried if kids don’t do well on any test right now.

  • 387. anonymouse teacher  |  October 5, 2012 at 6:23 am

    @386, While I agree that we should not be worried if kids don’t do well right now, the tests themselves should not be so out of range that kids can’t even answer ANY questions on them.
    The letter naming and letter sound test I give my kids is a good one. They can answer some. I then tailor my instruction to ensure they learn the unknown letters and check back with assessment. The Reach assessment that the teacher above me talked about is so far beyond the capability of our students it doesn’t give any information at all. Other than they can’t do it, which we knew anyway. Why waste the time? For me, I know by the end of the year, many of my students will do quite well on Reach. I will look like an amazing instructor. But the test didn’t help inform my instruction or help my students. It won’t help me differentiate. Why give it?
    My expectations aren’t just low for BOY on Reach, they are non-existent. It is a worthless test. It doesn’t offer me any point of reference like Dibels at least does. I’d love to meet the teacher who created it because he/she doesn’t have any sense about children and their development.

  • 388. anonymouse teacher  |  October 5, 2012 at 6:24 am

    I meant I’d love to meet the teacher who created the Reach assessment.

  • 389. CarolA  |  October 5, 2012 at 6:51 am

    I agree with Ltwain. I was thrilled that the kids didn’t do well. When they take it again in June, I will look like a star! These types of questions are samples of critical thinking skills which we develop throughout the year and my students get plenty of practice. They will be ready. What I object to is the fact that they are presenting this as an assessment for students when the reality is that it’s an assessment of my teaching skills. Call it like it is.

  • 390. CarolA  |  October 5, 2012 at 6:59 am

    CPS likes the motto: Children First. The REACH is a perfect example of how it should read Children Last. Who is so cruel that they would allow students to take a test knowing full well they will fail? My students just finished the reading portion of the NWEA test (remember, doing it 8 at at time). The results show I have 8 different levels of learning in my classroom. One student is on the low, low end. 3 students are on the high, high end. Even the 3 on the high, high end did not get a “3” on the REACH. A “3” is the highest score you can get on REACH. It ranges 0-3. Wake up CPS!

  • 391. CPS Parent  |  October 5, 2012 at 9:26 am

    390. CarolA What I understand is that REACH is the Charlotte Danielson framework for teacher evaluation. NWEA is the not-for-profit entity that publishes the MAP test which is an adaptive test which measures student progress over the year. It does not measure for a pass/fail score. MAP is part of the REACH framework.

    Are you upset about REACH? I thought there was a lot of support for Ms. Danielson’s work among teachers.

    Also, if you have 8 different levels how can the scores be from 0-3? Are there in-between scores like 1.8 or 2.5?

    Can you or someone else explain? I’m not sure what you want CPS to “wake up” to.

  • 392. cpsmama  |  October 5, 2012 at 9:35 am

    @Proud Asian, yes, I read the article and obviously my takeaway was slightyl different from yours- perhaps b/c you are Asian and I am not (?) and not b/c I’m “jealous” that I’m bad at standardized tests.

    I absolutely didn’t intend to disparage Asians by posting that article- just passing on information that I found relevant to another post on this blog.

    Have a nice day 🙂

  • 393. TeacherD  |  October 5, 2012 at 10:45 am

    @ CPS Parent
    When we score the student assessments, the rubric goes from 0-16. For middle school students, there is a rubric for a graphic organizer and a rubric for the actual written essay. You add the total scores. Then on the last page of scoring there is a range that is inputted for REACH: let’s say: 0-6 = 1, 7-11= 2, 12-16= 3. You only have a choice of 0, 1, 2, or 3 to input into the CPS system. It is a drop down choice, so you cannot enter anything else.
    And as I mentioned previously, for my special education students their disability or current level that they are at is NOT taken into account. So my seventh graders who are reading and writing at a first grade level HAVE to take a seventh grade assessment. Not only is it frustrating for them, but it in NO way will show any growth that they have made, since they will not be seventh grade proficient at any level by the end of the year when they will have to take the same assessment. This is not fair to them, because once again they will feel like failures. It will also not be fair to me, since it will not accurately show the progress they have made.

  • 394. alcott mom again  |  October 5, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Can someone answer why Alcott High’s scores are so low? Considering moving (buying 1st time) out of our neighborhood.

  • 395. TeachDac  |  October 5, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I’d also like to note: this is a big debate for all involved. A lot people here and other places are suggesting that teachers are afraid to be evaluated because they are bad and don’t want to lose their jobs.
    The problem is: CPS has created a “one size fits all” evaluation, as it does with everything else. It is not taking into account the individualities, learning styles, and abilities of the students it services. We as teachers are forced to make that shoe fit no matter what, then we are held accountable and told we aren’t doing our job.
    I encourage you, as parents, to talk to your teachers and ask to see the REACH performance assessment your children are taking: what it entails for your child, how it is scored, and how CPS expects the teachers to input it into the system. I know I would have no problem explaining and showing my students’ parents all the processes that REACH entails.

  • 396. CPS Parent  |  October 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    393. TeacherD The NWEA MAP is adaptive and is not specific to a grade level as I understand it. I have looked at the RIT scales (Rasch Units) and the test adapts from K all the way to 8th grade as far as I can tell. If your SPED kids are below K I think there is a problem. If they aren’t any progress should detectable.

    It seems to me that NWEA MAP is perfectly suited to measure individual student progress and is very fair to use as measure of teaching efficacy.

    What am I missing here?

  • 397. Maureen  |  October 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Sat down and read the tests just given to kindergarteners and first graders.

    It is so bad.
    It is so unspeakably bad.
    It is completely unfair to the kids and the teachers.

    From the faulty technology.
    From the insufficient time allotted to test.
    From the ridiculously difficult questions that require prior knowledge.
    From the ridiculously high expectations for the SP Ed and youngest children.

    It’s as if the test writers had never met a child before — t is so age inappropriate.

    It is so bad that it seem to me to be deliberate. It seems to me to be a set up.

    It seems that the mayor wants to begin a new narrative on two fronts.

    First — the ISATS were completely useless and gave a throughly false impression of children’s abilities — since they have now done so poorly on these new tests.

    Second — I gotta fire thousands of bad teachers, who will have weak evaluations.

    The chaos this is causing is serious. I am hearing parents pulling kids from schools and home schooling already.
    And I would never advise a young couple to stay in the city to send their children to any CPS elementary school.

  • 398. Sped Mom  |  October 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    “It seems to me that NWEA MAP is perfectly suited to measure individual student progress” – Is it a valid test for all sped kids? Any concerns for the sped students?

  • 399. Maureen  |  October 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I am very concerned about all children who are being asked to do te impossible and who may feel embarrassed or ashamed because they can’t.

  • 400. CPS Parent  |  October 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    398. Sped Mom – The NWEA MAP test works by presenting items to students at grade level. When it “senses” that the student is having trouble it adjusts downward. It essentially “learns” where to start and works forward from there. This happens in each subject area. This is why students may be upset since, Initially, questions that are “too hard”. (See Maureen’s comment at 399) Since the test finds the students individual base-line it is especially well suited for SPED students. The next time the test is taken, the test will already know where the student falls on the spectrum and can then simply assess progress.

    I think many CPS teacher have very little real knowledge about this test and I think principals are to blame. Acceptance by teachers is also confounded since this test is used for teacher evaluation as part of the REACH evaluation program. Because of this, some teachers will be reluctant to admit that it is a good test which can be of real value for student learning.

  • 401. CPS Parent  |  October 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm


    This is why students may be upset since, Initially, questions that are “too hard” are presented

  • 402. OutsideLookingIn  |  October 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    A math teacher friend of mine who has two elementary school children is a huge fan of the MAP test. This teacher strongly recommended it as an assessment for my kid, saying it specifically identifies subsets of proficiencies so you can then focus on helping the child master those skills.

  • 403. OutsideLookingIn  |  October 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Funny story:
    Last year my kid took an annual set of standardized tests (not MAP) at school for math and reading. When I received the results, I saw that kid bombed both math and reading. Reading wasn’t a surprise because kid can’t read. Math was a shock though because kid looooves math. Begs for extra math homework. Teacher suggested poor math score was due to test anxiety. I asked to see a copy of the test and saw that you had to be able to READ to do many of the problems. Kid retook test…only this time it was read out loud….and scores jumped 50%.

    TeacherD – it does seem kind of odd to give a 7th grade level test to a child in SpeEd who has a first grade level of proficiency. Is this a state requirement or a CPS-specific requirement?

  • 404. Paul  |  October 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I think there needs to be a balance. There must be some type of objective test so the public is informed about the performance of schools and school districts. There needs to be some type of test so teachers and administrators have the information they need to adjust instruction and meet the educational needs of their students. And, there needs to be some type of test to help gauge the performance of teachers and administrators.

    I don’t know if one test can do all three things, or there needs to be three different types of tests. I don’t think tests mean everything. You can’t spend all the time testing at the expense of teaching. But, tests can inform, help identify problems, and give a more solid basis for taking some action if necessary. If there aren’t any tests, then there’s no objective measurement. You wouldn’t know if the students were learning anything. You could tour a school, observe a teacher, and review some school work. Then, you might have an impression about how good the school is, or how effective a teacher is. But, an objective, standardized test, provides a more solid basis with which to monitor progress and compare.

  • 405. HS Mom  |  October 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    @402/403 – Good point about reading/math. The MAP test sounds similar to testing techniques used in these “pay for” tutoring services. Am I the only one here who thinks it’s a huge service to get for free? If this is the same type program can’t the evaluation be started at a lower level depending on the child to relieve some anxiety? Seems to have the potential as a valuable teaching tool.

  • 406. SPED TCHR  |  October 5, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    398- I like the MAP/NWEA test. I like it because it gives the child the level they are comfortable with irregardless of age/grade. It is very visual. It has a site full of data which is especially helpful to the teacher or parent. The same accommodations for ISAT listed on the IEP should be followed for the MAP. Example: MAP has a oral format (see #403) but the school must buy headphones, 50% more time, and testing in a small group are common practices with the ISAT. Make sure these are on your child’s IEP.
    I was forced to administer ISAT to children with cognitive abilities-they cried and I felt like crying with them. OSES is riddled with incompetent personnel and even though we complained about the unfairness of giving the ISAT to children with cognitive disabilities we were told we would be written up for insubordination if we refused to administer it. Now, if I had parents like those of you who write on this blog I simply would have called you and explained the lunacy and hoped you would have fought with OSES. My parents are not able to fight CPS/OSES.

  • 407. Sped Mom  |  October 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    MAP: Could MAP give false scores due to a sped kid’s problems with the test, like the example above?: 403. OutsideLookingIn | October 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm

  • 408. CPS Parent  |  October 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    407. Sped Mom – SPED TCHR says:

    “The same accommodations for ISAT listed on the IEP should be followed for the MAP. “

  • 409. anonymouse teacher  |  October 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    @391, the confusing part for parents is this: There is REACH evaluations revolving around the Danielson framework that many teachers support. There is also an assessment all PreK through 12th graders take also called REACH. I believe the student assessment REACH is the one that will be tied to teacher evaluation, but honestly, I haven’t heard yet which one (or more) tests that we give will be the ones that are tied to our evals. (I don’t even bother to ask anymore. My school has gotten 8 conflicting directives around assessments since mid-August so I have kind of decided to check out and stop paying attention to any and all directives from central office. Unless my principal says it, I am not listening anymore.)

    On another note, more good news for us. It looks like we don’t have to do Dibels anymore. Of course, that is until they change their mind again.

  • 410. anonymouse teacher  |  October 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    @400, As far as I know, teachers are not evaluated on students’ MAP scores. I *think* it is the Reach assessment, though, honestly, no one has said specifically which test is tied to performance. I would like to know, but I kind of don’t care anymore. The confusion, lack of specifics, the mixed messages, the misinformation, the constantly changing directives (multiple times from multiple central office people all saying different things) have made me kind of check out. I am just going to go along like always, providing great instruction, using the evals I know my kids need that I’ve created myself. My students always do well by the end of the year. I am not worried. Central office is a train wreck. I just want them all to leave me alone so I can actually do my job.

  • 411. cpsemployee  |  October 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Teachers are evaluated on both MAP and REACH. MAP carries the heavier % because it is a Type I (national) assessment. Originally it was something like 20% MAP and 10% REACH that formed the 30% component for student growth. Not sure what it is now under the new contract.

  • 412. CarolA  |  October 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    @391 Parent: I think others have explained your questions. If not, let me know what you are confused about. My comment on Wake Up CPS was in regards to my question about who would be so cruel. I just wish CPS would wake up and see the mess that’s happening. Changing directives over and over just adds to the confusion. I love the NWEA (Map). I don’t like the REACH for kids because it purposely sets them up to fail so in June they can succeed and show progress. Seems silly to me to make kids fail. NWEA on the other hand, levels the testing as someone previously explained. CPS is so confusing I think it’s rubbing off on me and maybe I’m sounding confusing now. 🙂

  • 413. Sped Mom  |  October 5, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    MAP & sped: This is from another state:

    Special Education Students
    In order to obtain a valid score, Reading or Language Usage questions cannot be read to students, including English Language Learners (ELL). If a student’s Individual Education Plan strictly requires that the student can have all questions read to them on any type of assessment, the proctor should invalidate the MAP Reading test. With the Science and Mathematics tests, students with an IEP may have the text portions read aloud to them without invalidation. For all students, specific words may be pronounced for them on the Science and Math tests only, but proctors must be careful not to inadvertently guide students to the correct answer. Numbers and symbols cannot be pronounced for students.
    Guidelines for Special Education Students
    In general all Special Education Students should be tested with the MAP.
    The MAP is a district-wide assessment. Therefore, it is an IEP team decision to determine the student’s participation in the test. The IEP team should also consider access to MAP testing through the use of allowable accommodations.
    If the IEP allows for testing with the MAP, use any accommodations that are stipulated within the student’s IEP.
    The School Assessment Coordinator and Special Education staff will work together for special requirements (such as a study carrel, presence and assistance of an aide, etc.) so appropriate arrangements can be provided for testing. Special Education support and paraprofessionals are to assist with testing Special Education students.
    Students in school-based Learning Centers should be included in the MAP.
    An IEP is a Federal legal document and must be followed accordingly. An IEP takes precedence, and must be followed to the IEP requirements. An IEP is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
    Allowable Accommodations for Special Education Students:
    Changes in How the Test Questions are Presented

    Read Mathematics and Science text portions aloud to students.
    Changes in How the Student Responds

    Dictate responses to a scribe.

    Point to responses for a scribe.
    Allowable Accommodations for All Students:
    Changes in the Test Directions Read at the Beginning of the Test

    Read or reread directions to students.

    Sign directions for the deaf student.

    Translate directions orally.

    Simplify language in directions.

    Clarify directions.

    Use auditory amplification devices, hearing aids, noise buffers, etc.
    Changes in How the Test Questions are Presented

    Use visual magnification devices.

    Use auditory amplification devices or noise buffers.
    Scribes, educational assistants, and other school staff supporting a student’s test must be neutral in responding to the student during the administration. Assistance in test administration must not be leading a student to the correct answer. The student’s response must accurately represent the student’s own choice.

  • 414. TeachDac  |  October 5, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    @CPS Paretn
    I have no problem with the NWEA MAP test. That is actually a great way to gauge where my students are at. What I am talking about is the REACH performance task that CPS created. REACH and MAP two totally different creatures.

    We are evaluated on REACH and MAP. I believe 15 percent and 10 percent?

  • 415. TeachDac  |  October 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    @Outside #403
    Illinois is one of the states that requires you to test special education students at their grade level, not functional level.
    REACH (from CPS) also requires us to test this way. So yes, I do have to assess my students with the same test ALL the other seventh graders are taking.
    MAP on the other hand adjusts itself according to how the student answers. It will go up or down until it reaches the level the student is working at. Then it will go back up slowly, then down again.
    The only thing I can say with the CPS REACH created assessment is that without even giving them the assessment, there’s no way their going to show any growth from this!

  • 416. TeachDac  |  October 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    @CPS Parent
    I think you don’t understand what I am referring to: there is the MAP assessment which I like, but in addition to that they have to ALSO take! You have to download it from the CPS REACH assessment site. It is called a PERFORMANCE task. It is very similar to the ISAT extended response section. My special ed. students had to read a three page excerpt from the liife of Fredrick Douglas, then fill in a graphic organizer pertaining to key ideas of the excerpt, then write an essay citing evidence from the organizer and the excpert.
    Yes, I do have a problem with my students doing this, since they are working at a K-1 level and felt humiliated because they had no clue how to answer.
    In your above comment earlier today you assumed I had an issue with MAP, that I do not have a problem with.
    Like I said, go to your school and ask what performance task IN ADDITION to MAP that your kids had take part in. You’d be surprised!

  • 417. CarolA  |  October 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Here’s a way to think about the REACH assessment for students. It’s a test that shows what a students are expected to know in June after a year at that grade level. However, it’s given in September to prove they don’t know it yet. WHY?????? Like I said….it doesn’t make sense to me to give a test to students knowing full well they will fail. In my day to day teaching, I would never give a test in any subject until I knew that I have given my students a variety of learning experiences with the topic.

  • 418. Angie  |  October 5, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    @417. CarolA :”Here’s a way to think about the REACH assessment for students. It’s a test that shows what a students are expected to know in June after a year at that grade level. However, it’s given in September to prove they don’t know it yet. WHY??????”

    What if the students do know it? What if they are gifted and can work ahead of the grade level, or did a workbook or enrichment classes over the summer? Wouldn’t the teacher want to know about it?

  • 419. CarolA  |  October 5, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    @418 Angie: Yes, it is possible that a child is gifted and would do well, but here’s what happened in my room: On the NWEA test, which I think is great and provides wonderful data, I had several students score well above average. This will be my top group of students to which I will provide challenging material and above grade level activities. I will make sure they move forward from where they are now and not have to repeat things they already know. Those same students scored a “2” on the REACH. “3” is the highest score. So even these gifted students did not have the necessary skills at this point of the school year to accurately complete the essay questions on the REACH. I just don’t believe the REACH will give me the data I need as a classroom teacher to successfully give them the type of education they deserve. I think the NWEA does. The REACH is testing for things that I normally teach my students in first grade. My students will do well in June on it so it’s not a concern to me. The NWEA will provide me with information on how to help each child at their personal level of learning whether it’s below level, at level, or above level. It’s really that simple.

  • 420. Mom#1  |  October 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    @ HS Mom,
    Good point! It would be a more accurate reflection of a student’s knowledge because the student cannot prep for it like they are able to for the ISAT.

  • 421. OutsideLookingIn  |  October 5, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    @TeachDac – I’m sure it is really frustrating and demoralizing for your kids to take a test that is geared for a full six grades ahead of their current skill set. What do you say to them before the test to try to help them cope?

  • 422. OutsideLookingIn  |  October 5, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    @HS Mom #405 – nope, you’re not the only one. I agree!

  • 423. TeachDac  |  October 5, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I tell them to do their best and not to worry, it’s not part of their grade. On test days, I bring in treats to try and make it more of a relaxed atmosphere. Heck, a lot of my students are so used to these assessments that they can’t understand let alone do they deal with it in their own way: one of my kids just wrote all over paper ” I don’t know” about 20 times and turned it in. Another just copied part of a paragrah over and over.

  • 424. cpsobsessed  |  October 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Okay, so I’m actually finally looking at this new calendar… There’s a 2.5 day break (friday afternoon-tuesday) a week and a half before thanksgiving break? Not quite getting that one.

  • 425. CarolA  |  October 6, 2012 at 6:27 am

    For those that aren’t familiar with the TYPES of questions ask here’s an example (paraphrased) from first grade:
    How did the feelings of the fish change from the beginning of the story to the end of the story? Tell the reason for the change.
    That’s a pretty deep question for students to WRITE about at the beginning of first grade.

    In general teaching, I have students who don’t have a pencil and just sit and do nothing instead of figuring out how to solve the problem. When I notice them just sitting there, I ask….how come you aren’t working? They answer….I don’t have a pencil. Then I ask….How can you solve that problem? They just don’t know. So then I say (nicely)… can sit there and do nothing, you can ask someone at your table if you can borrow a pencil, you can use a crayon so at least you are working, which do you think is the best choice? It’s only then that they see the bigger picture. I have to use questioning like this all the time because children at this age are not used to critical thinking. Just yesterday I had a conversation with a parent whose child is very smart, but seems confused when I give him directions. After a bit of conversation and some leading questions by me, it turns out that he’s an only child and mom/dad do everything for him. He’s not used to following directions. He’s not a bad student. He just is used to adults doing things for him instead of figuring it out for himself. The types of questions students are now responsible in school are critical thinking skills. I had a big conversation and gave plenty of examples at our Open House and parents were really happy to see the difference. I now give a couple of “critical thinking” questions for parents to ask their child with every reading booklet they have for homework.

  • 426. TeachDac  |  October 6, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I agree Carol, even my older students don’t know how to be critical thinkers. I have to give them examples all the time. I tell them to be “problem solvers” all the time!

  • 427. cpsobsessed  |  October 6, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Both my son’s teachers gave us a little lecture/pep talk on being less helicopter-y about helping with the homework etc.
    I think many of us need that ongoing reminder that it’s okay to let them fail sometimes, to forget their homework and suffer the consequences, and to let them sit and think to figure something out. It’s a slippery slope and it can be hard for me to know where to draw the line.
    In critical thinking problems, my son would need a good 10 to whine, flair, get behind the couch, only to come up with something better than I could have come up with much of the time. Not good form for a standardized test! 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 428. cpsobsessed  |  October 6, 2012 at 8:04 am

    You know what would make me feel much better about all that test time is if I (as the parent) go the test results so it could see what he missed and know what I need to work on and/or talk to the teacher about. Then it would be more actionable and worthwhile.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 429. arjrsmom  |  October 6, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Ithink this board has gotten off topic with charters and testing. I posted this a few days ago and think it is worth repeating. The calendar makes NO SENSE. If you have concerns/complaints about the updated CPS calendar, I finally found CONTACTS!

    1).Board of Education – Susan Narrajos – she is the secretary to the Board of Ed. She forwards all emails to the Board members – email address –

    2). Tony Howard – He works in the calendar/logistics decision making department of CPS – (yes, two ts – not a typo)

    3). Call your alderman! Have them notify Mike Rendina, who is the liason between them and the decision makers. The more calls to yor alderman, the better.

    Instead of venting on this website, let the decision makers know how upset you are!

    Spread the word – the more people that complain, the better,

  • 430. arjrsmom  |  October 6, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Of course, you should also contact Brizard at and Mayor Emanuel at

  • 431. arjrsmom  |  October 6, 2012 at 8:26 am

    oops – typo –

  • 432. skinnernorthmom  |  October 6, 2012 at 8:51 am

    You are absolutely right about parents doing everything for an only child. I did the same until my second came along. There are also other explanations while kids don’t follow directions well such as ADHD. My 10-year-old has ADHD so he cannot follow more than two directives at a time on a good day. He’s on meds too.

  • 433. anonymouse teacher  |  October 6, 2012 at 8:53 am

    @411, that’s interesting to know.

  • 434. CarolA  |  October 6, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Yes, there special considerations for some children, but most just haven’t had to think for themselves, so they don’t know how. It’s really quite a simple thing to do. Some parents just don’t know how to begin. If anyone needs clues, I’d be happy to give suggestions for the first grade level student. It will make a difference at home as well as school and I guarantee your child’s teacher will love you for it. 🙂

  • 435. CarolA  |  October 6, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I think what some parents get confused about it their child’s reading ability and their ability to function within a classroom setting. Keep in mind that what you see at home is a small group situation. Your child may act differently at school when there are 30 other children all wanting the teacher’s attention. They have to learn how to solve problems on their own. Here’s another example: Last year there was a child in our KDG program who had a 3rd grade reading level. He was very bored in KDG and as a result starting causing problems. I offered to have him spend mornings in my classroom so I could expose him to the more critical thinking elements of reading (main idea and details, cause and effect, compare and contrast). Although his reading ability was very high, he could not function well on the critical thinking writing elements. I kept him for the rest of the school year, but explained to mom what she should be working on at home to challenge him. He actually was not mature enough to handle it. So, I inform parents so they don’t get the two skills confused. Reading level and comprehension/critical thinking are two different things.

  • 436. CarolA  |  October 6, 2012 at 9:50 am

    The same applies to math. Your first grade should know 5 + 3 = 8. What they may not know is if they see a picture of 3 bees next to a beehive and I say…….There are 10 bees altogether. How many are in the hive? That’s a critical thinking question. They must figure out 10 – 3 = 7. Or when we get to money it might show 8 cents. Then the story will say……If Sue gave 10 cents to the clerk at the store. The picture shows the change she got back…..what did the toy cost?

  • 437. Workingmommyof2  |  October 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    My two Pre-K kids took the REACH test two weeks ago.

    When I asked my 4-year-old what kind of questions were asked, he said, “Just sound it out, mom!” I asked if there were letters or numbers or shapes questions and he said, “No, just sound it out.” I asked him if he knew some of the answers and he said he didn’t. (He does know all his letter sounds, but not how to put them together into a word yet). He didn’t seem too worried about it, luckily.

    My 3-year-old told me, “No, I didn’t do a test.” So I guess it really didn’t bother him. 🙂

    I really hope the Pre-K teachers’ evaluations don’t depend on my boys’ whims.

  • 438. anonymouse teacher  |  October 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Angie, I think your question about “wouldn’t a teacher want to know” regarding if a kid was an early reader or writer (or math too), is a legitimate one. But I can tell you that I usually know who is an early learner or a gifted learner within a week or so of just normal kindergarten life. I have two kids in my room who can read our morning message each day and I knew who they were on day one, just by being a thoughtful observer. The TRC’s tell us very quickly who can read and at what level. Of course we want to know who is in what place. And we do.
    I have extensive documentation already on all my kids. And I keep adding info as the year goes on. There are better ways to know kids’ abilities, strengths and weaknesses than what district office demands. Writing samples, running records, talking to kids, individual reading conferences, small groups, etc…are all examples of what I am talking about. I’d love to scan in some of the documents I keep in order for folks on this board to see what thoughtful teachers do, but I am too afraid of outing myself.

  • 439. local  |  October 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    anonymouse teacher: What made you decide to become a teacher and take your route? I’d like to see many teachers like you, from what I’ve read here.

  • 440. local  |  October 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    CarolA, too.

  • 441. anonymous  |  October 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    435 — Your boys sound delightful. And fun and normal. The teacher could well have a classroom full of great kids like them. But of course, the teacher’s eval is based on thes tests.

    If they were like mine at that age and playing soccer, they might sometimes energetically go for the wrong goal. If they were playing t-ball, they might sometimes stop to look at the airplane overhead. Should the coach have been penalized?

  • 442. anonymous  |  October 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    CarolA — I’d love to know more about clues to help 6 year olds think for themselves.

  • 443. anonymous  |  October 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    406 — What is OSES?

  • 444. Really  |  October 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Changing spring break makes zero sense. And the 6 half days are NOT family friendly as parents need to find alternative childcare

  • 445. anonymouse teacher  |  October 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    @437, I never really wanted to be a teacher. I don’t want to get too detailed, but for me it was a means to and end for a different kind of goal. I found out, though, that I loved teaching and became obsessed with reading and writing instruction. As much as I complain about and don’t love CPS, I love my work more than any human being has a right to. Its ridiculous how much I love my job. Some days I get mad and talk about quitting, but it has nothing to do with teaching itself.

  • 446. anonymouse teacher  |  October 6, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    excuse the typo

  • 447. CarolA  |  October 6, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    @437 Local: I’m just the opposite of anonymouse. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. When I was young (age 8ish) I would line up the books from my house on my front porch and pretend I was a librarian. I would “check out books” to my friends. I even had my mom buy me a date stamp! When I was around 10, I asked my mom to get me a bulletin board for my bedroom. I use to decorate it monthly for the holidays or special occasions. Such a geek! I have a nephew who is 30 and still doesn’t know what he wants to do. It’s hard for me to comprehend that. At this point, I just tell him….pick something and just do it! 🙂

  • 448. CarolA  |  October 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    @440 anonymous: I’m not sure if CPSO will allow much talk on this topic. If not, we’ll find a way to communicate. Not knowing your child or what is happening in the classroom, think about this:

    Whatever the problem is, whether it’s for school or a household situation, tell your child to think about ways to solve the problem. It will take time. Don’t be surprised if you get a gazed look. Guide them will possible choices and see where the conversation goes. If they give an answer that you know won’t work, don’t tell them that. Let them try it so they see for themselves. ( Unless, of course, they would hurt themselves or others.) I think parents tend to tell the child what the next step is rather than let them figure it out themselves. Mainly because this takes a lot of time and it’s easier to just do it, but that’s not teaching them to think for themselves. Example from my classroom: We just finished a painting project. The paintings aren’t dry yet. I say…..I need to collect all your paintings. Where should I put them? A student says I should make a pile of them on the back table. So we start putting one on top the other but begin to notice they are sticking together. So I say….Well, that doesn’t seem to be working, who has another idea? It would be easier for me to just place them around the room myself to let them dry, but I make it into a thinking situation.

  • 449. CarolA  |  October 6, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Hey CPSO: You know how they have those websites Ask the Doctor? What do you think about a thread called Ask the Teacher? Anonymouse, I think you would be a part of that. Todd…what about you? Any other teachers? This could be the start of some good parent/teacher relationships. Maybe parents don’t want to ask their own child’s teacher for whatever reason but may ask online. HMMMMM.

  • 450. CPSCounselor  |  October 6, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    I know most things regarding REACH have been addressed, but this REACH performance task is exactly the reason why teachers do not trust CPS, nor do they want their evaluations based partly on these tests. (Or MAP, but I will get there.)
    I’m the counselor at my small and pretty high achieving neighborhood school. Neither my principal nor my assistant principal were trained in anything regarding the REACH performance tasks. And as we pored over the 1000 page books that provided the different assessments, we realize barely any thought was put into these assessments. What about our students who just moved to the US? (They provided no ELL accommodations or guidance until the week of 9/24 when something was posted online.) What about students with more severe disabilities? Well, we were told to modify the reading assessments for the students with severe disabilities, but some of them are nonverbal nor can they read close to grade level. Since there was literally NO contact information such as a phone number on the REACH website, we modified the assessment, and I am sure botched it and made it invalid. With no guidance, what else could we do? In addition, MANY students (especially with IEPs) finished the assessment in tears. And mind you, this was ANOTHER assessment on top of the MAP tests, and on top of doing biweekly progress monitors that are required for their IEPs to determine their progress towards their goals. I just couldn’t believe the total lack of support that was provided to the schools. I just think that if teachers’ evaluations are based in part on this test, a HELL of a lot more training and proper implementation needs to be done. And give us options for administering this for students with IEPs and students who are ELL.

    Next, the MAP tests. Not sure about anyone here, but our technology at our school is AWFUL. We are overcrowded and have no computer lab so we use laptop carts that have computers that are 5 years old. I do not think they are properly equipped to handle these tests. We have had so many technical difficulties that I cannot see how this test can be valid for some students. We have had quite a few students whose tests just stop responding, and since we were figuring out the system, they literally sat there waiting for us to fix everything for about 30 minutes. The first day of the tests, I had to contact our NWEA rep to figure out what to do. Supposedly, our bandwidth is very slow, thus all the problems. How can this be a proper measure of student skills? The testing conditions are TERRIBLE. The K/1st/2nd graders use headphones, and the first day, 3 kids didn’t tell us they couldn’t hear anything until they had finished the test. (Yes, we told them many times to tell us if they couldn’t hear.) And, as far as I know, I have no figured out how to see the students’ test questions, which would be REALLY helpful.

    And while I think the MAP tests are very helpful for us, I just don’t think that Kindergartens are ready to take a test on the computer. It’s so difficult to get 35 helpless students even get the test started. It has taken us about 30-40 minutes to just get the test started with 3 adults in the room. It takes away SO much instructional time. Not to mention, what about younger kids who haven’t had the luxury of being exposed to a computer at home during Pre-K (or didn’t attend)?

    So while I don’t have a problem with the actual MAP tests, I just don’t know how we can consider these as such a high stakes part of our evaluation (even though I know it’s a small %), because the testing conditions are so variable, and I truly don’t think we are equipped for this.

  • 451. anonymouse teacher  |  October 6, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    @448, thank you. We tried it on our laptops and there were 5 of us in the room trying to get everyone logged on and it took at least 45 minutes. And we, too, had the no sound issue that wasn’t detected until after the tests were finished. We also have a lice issue, which is generously being shared due to shared headphones. Fun times in CPS.

  • 452. Teacher4321  |  October 7, 2012 at 6:58 am

    I can assure you there is math in the PreK test. There is a different test for 3 and 4 year olds.

    When we report our students it seems to have pertinent information such as do they have an IEP, but thus far I saw nothing about language/ ELL status. The test is available in Spanish, but not in any of the other languages we serve. It is really not possible to translate the test either. Well at least at the preschool 4 year old level as children have to match beginning sounds. The 3 year olds have to find words. As CarolA and Annonymouse suggest this test will not help guide instruction. We already have an observation tool in PreK with over 80 items we are supposed to observe each student perform 3 times before mid October. It will be hard to meet this deadline since we’ve been 1:1 testing students. Not to mention spending time doing the important preschool things like helping the children learn to sit on the rug, clean up the manipulatives, walk in a line etc..

    For SPED the solution seems to be to create your own exam, complete with directions. If exam was perceived as it would not go well even with accommodations and modifications. However there were not many guidelines about how to do this.

    There is no MAP/NWEA for PreK- YET. Many 3 year old children do not yet have the fine motor control to work a mouse. Our computer doesn’t work more than it does so they do not get much experience in our rooms.

  • 453. TeacherD  |  October 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

    LOL CPSCounselor
    We had the same problems. We were told the same thing. Our computers are ancient. Some of them have floppy drives. The wifi at our school doesn’t have enough bandwidth. In some cases it took over 30 minutes for MAP to load, then it would freeze and crash. I have no problem giving this assessment to my students, but you would think CPS would give you the right equipment and technology to administer it!

  • 454. cpsobsessed  |  October 7, 2012 at 11:20 am

    @cpscounselor: god, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry reading your post. And this NWEA test is 3 times a year, right? It’s really just mindboggling.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 455. cpsobsessed  |  October 7, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Are the principals reporting this stuff back up to central office? Someone should videotape it. It’s making my blood boil.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 456. CarolA  |  October 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    So I’m thinking about this post and how we had to go back and forth all summer trying to help people understand the mess of CPS. Thank you CPSO for having this “venting” forum. As the year progresses, it will be interesting to note all the things that come out as problems teachers face daily in CPS. In the summer, we sometimes forget the hassles of the school year. I look forward to bringing more of these types of things out into the open so more people begin to understand the frustrations we face on a day to day basis. Please everyone: Don’t tell us to quit and find another job we like better. WE LOVE THIS JOB! We are just trying to bring things to light so others might be able to help our voice be heard.

  • 457. Teacher4321  |  October 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Well stated Carol.

    I’m on my phone so it is a bit more tricky to respond.

    Many of the issues that have been recently reported in regards to testing etc. with the technology were discussed this summer, these were things many teachers were worried about happening because they know what technology is like in the buildings. I believe I have complained several times about system crashes and how system wide there is not enough bandwidth for the amount of people to be using it. It crashes all the time around when grades are due or runs slow. This is an additional problem to school specific issues with limited technology.

    I think principals have called and complained to central office and 3XEL. Which is the technology department. The most you really get is someone to issue you a ticket. I know when I had a problem with home access to the system last year I had to essentially figure out my own solution after talking to 3 different people and getting 3 different tickets without help.

    Also part of the problem happening right now is entire departments have been wiped at central office so at times there is no one to call for advice. Many times those who are left aren’t allowed to answer any questions and they direct you to email addresses.

    Thank you CPSO for asking questions. I hope that the parents on your message board that are appalled start asking questions at their own schools and neighborhood schools if applicable. You are the voices that will be listened to.

  • 458. cpsobsessed  |  October 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I think the frustration is WHO to complain to! That’s the problem of the giant bureacracy. And then when you get back the JCB form letter. Harumph.
    I guess we all need to continue to lodge the complaints. If we don’t, everyone will think the testing is just chugging along smoothly…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 459. Paul  |  October 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Central office support may get worse because of the proposed budget cuts needed to pay for CTU salary increases. CPS announced cuts to pay for $103 million in salary increases for teaching and non-teaching members of CTU this year. I believe that cuts to the central office was one of CTU’s suggestions for where to find the money for their demands during the strike.

  • 460. Teacher4321  |  October 7, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Yet people keep getting hired at central office.
    In particular in the PR/media department, but also in other departments as well. The PR/media department doesn’t support the schools. The CTU has suggested that department gets trimmed. It should.

    At CPSO. Yes this is our frustration too. And those that used to support us that we used to be able to call for help are essentially tounge tied.

  • 461. CarolA  |  October 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Paul: I just heard Rahm say on TV yesterday that the city has tons of money to revamp several parks. He said that the money was from profits we received for hosting NATO. HMMMMMM don’t you find it interesting that Rahm had to take away our raise to pay the police force for security during NATO, but now he’s talking about how much $$$$ NATO bought to the city? Enough $$$$ to revamp many parks. Seems confusing to me. Maybe I missed something. Please fill me in. I’m tired of everything happening because of the darn teacher’s strike. Schools are closing because of the teacher’s strike. Offices are closing because of the teacher’s strike. XYZ is because of the teacher’s strike. When are people going to see that the teacher’s strike happened at a perfect time for Rahm so he can blame all the bad stuff on us? All of that was going to happen anyway. It’s just that now he can conveniently blame it on us.

  • 462. anonymouse teacher  |  October 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    @457, I don’t think it can get worse. I personally think the entire central office should be eliminated. They only make everyone’s lives harder. Eliminating central office positions will either improve the situation or keep it the same.

  • 463. anniesullivan  |  October 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I agree with #460. OSES, the Office of Specialized Education Services is a joke. The SSAs are supposed to be our “go to” people from OSES at the network level. They seemed to be composed of angry Latinas or African American women (usually looking for an AP position). We have had a series of five and each was dumber than the one before-could not answer a question, offer solutions for placement issues or even exhibit professionalism. One of them did not know what grade equivalent meant on an IEP and another did not know what AYP was-insanilty.
    We are reduced to reading the District 299 blog to find out answers to legal issues from Rod Estvan who doesn’t even work for CPS anymore(too bright and too principled) So please shut down OSES as it is useless and use the monies saved to hire more one to one aides so that our severely disabled students are able to exit the building safely in case of a fire. Two severely disabled children in different rooms or buildings should not have to share an aide-it is ludicrous.

  • 464. Todd Pytel  |  October 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    @447 (Carol) – “You know how they have those websites Ask the Doctor? What do you think about a thread called Ask the Teacher? Anonymouse, I think you would be a part of that. Todd…what about you?”

    I’m always good for opening my big mouth. But there’s a lot of specialized knowledge of kids and curriculum required to give good answers to many parents’ questions. Even within HS math, I’m much more confident in my understanding of freshmen than of juniors. And what I can say about 9th grade English or 4th grade math is an order of magnitude less than that. I worry that parents think that teachers’ knowledge is far more transferable across grade levels and student populations than it really is, and I wouldn’t want to give misleading answers. The best starting point is *always* the student’s teacher, no matter how uncooperative or uninformed they may seem.

    As for all the testing stuff, I’ve been too busy with other things to contribute this weekend. But most of what’s been said I agree with. We don’t do NWEA in HS, but up until this year we did the Scantron Performance Series, which is a similar computer-delivered adaptive test. Generally, I found those results very useful, and they correlated well with success in Algebra. But you need the technology to make that kind of test work, and many schools clearly don’t have it.

    REACH tasks, on the other hand, are well-intentioned, but I’m not sure their goal is attainable. Unlike typical standardized tests, the REACH tasks focus on just one or two big ideas and key skills. In a way this is good, because it lets them probe for deeper understanding. But it also makes them very difficult to differentiate across the entire district. What kind of task could be suitable for, say, both 6th graders at Edison RGC and 6th graders in a devastated neighborhood? Those students are worlds apart. Tests have to be designed with a range of measurable competencies in mind, and that range can only get so wide. Typical standardized tests deal with this by asking many questions of increasing difficulty. Adaptive tests deal with it by asking different questions depending on the kid. But performance tasks, like those in REACH, can’t do either of those things – they have to be well-targeted at the tested student population in order to measure anything. It may well be that the REACH tasks will evolve considerably from their current form over the next several years. At the moment, they’re trying to do something that seems nearly impossible to me, and there hasn’t been nearly enough time invested in developing and piloting them.

  • 465. CarolA  |  October 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Todd: You’re right. It’s not a good idea to be giving advice online. I really was trying to get enough teachers on board so that all grade levels would be represented. I tend to see the world through rose-colored glasses sometimes. Good idea in theory. Bad idea in application. Thanks for bringing me back to reality. 🙂

  • 466. cpsobsessed  |  October 8, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Well, we can’t seem to get a true reformer here to debate with, but a woman from Education Reform Now has written a rebuttal to a piece that Wendy Katten from Raise Your Hand wrote and it’s generating some interesting comments that you might like to get in on….

  • 467. Paul  |  October 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    @464 cbsobsessed,

    I cringe when I read comments like those. The example the writer gives is the same one that many parents have reported on this blog. Their neighborhood school doesn’t meet their standards, so they apply to well-regarded selective enrollment and magnet schools, don’t get accepted to any, so they move to the suburbs or go to a private school. It’s pretty typical.

    I’m not sure why some parents are jumping onto the conspiracy bandwagon. There are quacks and extremists on both sides of the reform debate. One extreme thinks that more money is the only solution to improving public education, that reform should come through teacher union contracts, that low-performing or underenrolled schools should never be closed down no matter their cost, and that public funds should be spent on nothing other than neighborhood schools. The other extreme thinks that the private-sector model of competition is the only solution to improving public education, that schools should open and close like restaurants based on their performance, that reform should come at the expense of teacher unions, and that public funds should flow toward successful schools and away from failing ones.

    There’s got to be a happy middle ground there somewhere. And, I encourage Raise Your Hand and other groups to search for that.

    In my opinion, more money is needed in public education, teacher unions should play a constructive role in school improvement, some low-performing and underenrolled schools need to close, there should be some school choice, healthy school and teacher accountability is important, and the district should make the best use of the taxpayer money it spends.

    Ripping on the mayor, Brizard, and philanthropists that want to reform schools while handing ourselves over to the teachers union’s agenda is not going to improve the schools in CPS. State and local taxpayers do not want to hear that the only way to improve our schools is higher pay for teachers, hiring more teachers, and spending a lot more money on schools. If an elementary school costs $5 million per year, the teachers earn $70,000 per year, and half of the students can’t read at a basic level, the answer cannot be for the teachers to earn $80,000 per year and the school to cost $6 million per year. Something’s not working.

    The teachers are in a tiff with the mayor, so they want to elect a school board to take his power away. Teachers don’t want schools to close or charters to open because that threatens their members’ jobs and reducing the number of union members. If parents join forces with the union and fight for an elected school board and against school closings, they will make good friends with teachers, but they won’t help improve CPS.

  • 468. cpsobsessed  |  October 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Couldn’t agree more, Paul.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 469. cp  |  October 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Back to the topic of calendar for a moment — my kid reported that half of the school’s teachers were not at school today (SEHS). Probably a slight exaggeration, but 3 of his 7 teachers were not there. I’m curious to know if that was typical system-wide. If so, did CPS’s decision to take Columbus day away as a holiday really promote the fuller/longer day & year? Is it really goal of CPS that on all the added days or taken holidays, kids will be in school but will be taught by subs? Cuz that’s what they seemed to have gotten out of it.

  • 470. Angie  |  October 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    @467. cp : Why should CPS be blamed for teachers that choose not to show up for work, shortly after choosing to go on strike which made it necessary to have these makeup days in the first place?

  • 471. falconergrad  |  October 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Regarding Columbus Day, it was scheduled as a school day even before the strike. Part of the longer year. I don’t see it as a make up day for that reason.

    Today my son’s PreK teacher was absent, heard she was sick. My daughter’s 2nd grade teacher was there but 6 kids were absent from her class of 27. Not a great turnout. I think some parents did not know there was school today. They should have done robo calls for it.

  • 472. anniesullivan  |  October 8, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    No response to #461-very interesting.
    Maybe some of the teachers who took off had three day vacation plans already paid for OR maybe their children were off. Are the charters off? High schools? Stop denigrating the teachers and start looking at the special education abuses in CPS. Your anger is rather misdirected.

  • 473. Angie  |  October 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    @470. anniesullivan: Regarding #461, I did not run into any issues you are describing, so I have no comment. My child was evaluated in a timely manner and placed into a deaf program that works well. Maybe I just got lucky, or maybe things in the central office are not as terrible as you’d like us to believe.

    Who knows.

  • 474. CarolA  |  October 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Our school had most teachers there, but I have to say that many children and teachers are sick right now. Last week, I had 4 students out each day and on one day, another student went home mid-day. Today one teacher on our first grade team sent me a text at 5:30 this morning that she was sick all night. She emailed me her lesson plans and checked in several times to make sure all was on track because it was an unexpected absence. Another on our team was super sick. She came to school because she didn’t want anyone thinking she took off because of Columbus Day. She’s a first year teacher. So sad that she is spreading her germs to the little ones because she’s afraid her absence would be criticized. I guess from the reaction here she was right to think that way. So out of a team of 4 teachers, two were sick.

  • 475. Teacher4321  |  October 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    I didn’t notice many subs in our building today. There were more than the usual amount of kids out, but not an exaggerated amount.

    Tis the season for illness. Remember to teach your children proper hand washing and to cough and sneeze in their elbows!

  • 476. skinnernorthmom  |  October 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Well said, Paul.

  • 477. JustanotherCPSparent  |  October 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Interesting. My kids came home today full of news about how all the “old teachers came back.”. I guess they had a lot of subs today and they were all teachers who retired last year. I don’t know what that means, or doesn’t mean. Just an observation.

  • 478. cpsmama  |  October 8, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    @475 that’s interesting. My child said there were so many teachers absent, her HS had a shortage of subs.

    @468 Angie- I blame CPS for messing up the calendar after the strike – taking away Columbus Day, then giving it back, then taking it away again 1 week ago. It’s one thing to add make up days throughout the year or at the end, but to give people 1 week’s notice of changes is Very. Poor. Management.

  • 479. Todd Pytel  |  October 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Huh? CPS gave back Columbus Day at some point? When was that? I thought it was always out this year, due to the longer school year.

    Anyway, attendance seemed pretty typical at Senn today for both students and teachers. My kids’ kindergarten classes seemed awfully light, though.

  • 480. cpsmama  |  October 8, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    @477— CPS & CTU negotiated Columbus Day back as a holiday during strike. It was put on some individual school’s calendars as a day off. Then CPS came out with the new-new calendar and it was gone again. Too much *avoidable* confusion caused by CPS, if you ask me.

  • 481. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 9, 2012 at 1:24 am

    CPS will be off on Columbus Day starting in 2013, per contract. Low turn out of kids in all schools on Columbus day. Chaos on Clark continues~the management is soooooo poor~many parents complaining & they can’t wait to vote Rahm out!

  • 482. Teacher4321  |  October 9, 2012 at 5:52 am

    So not sure where to post this, but here might be an opportunity for CPSO posters to help one of those schools in need of resources.

    Right now, Donors Choose has a match program happening. If you enter the word “Pumpkin” in the gift code and pay with a credit card your money will be doubled.

    There is a combination of ideas out there teachrs are trying to accomplish such as needed resources, enrichment opportunities and field trips. You can search schools by area of Chicago, needs (special education, ell) and poverty.

    Here is the opportunity to help out your local neighborhood school or a struggling school that CPS has starved of resources. I think the minimum to give is $5.00 or $10.00, but it will be doubled through October 15 as long as you use the code and pay by credit card.

    I know that the website has helped me out immensely over the years!

  • 483. CarolA  |  October 9, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Great Idea Teacher4321! I have had 3 funded since the summer. One just got funded yesterday on the friends and family donation match! For those not familiar….go to You can donate to any project, any school. I know there were several on this board who said they don’t know where to start to help. Here’s a good one and it goes directly to the teacher, directly to the children, directly to a project the teacher wants to do! Best part: YOU choose!

  • 484. CPSmom  |  October 9, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Do people on this site actually not know that there was a mini sick-out by the unionistas yesterday (columbas day)? Both my kids teachers were sick – subs babysat. One teacher told me last week that ‘no’ teachers would come in on monday. So professional.

  • 485. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

    #482~There were many regular teachers at both of my sons’ schools. There where, however, a very low turn out of kids.

  • 486. CPSmom  |  October 9, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Needless to say our teachers lost even more respect yesterday

  • 487. no name  |  October 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

    482 – Yes! Also, at our open house only 3 of 7 teachers showed and no principal. Good way to start the year. I am so totally not going through this in 3 years.

  • 488. HaveANiceDay  |  October 9, 2012 at 10:17 am

    479 most non CPS parents back Rahm especially when we read comments like 482

  • 489. no name  |  October 9, 2012 at 10:19 am

    @486 most CPS parents do too….believe me

  • 490. junior  |  October 9, 2012 at 11:00 am

    When CTU sent out the new schedule, they made sure to remind teachers that they could still user their sick days during that time. Wink, wink.. nudge, nudge.

  • 491. anotherchicagoparent  |  October 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    My kid’s 2 schools were fine,all their teachers showed up.A handful of kids did not at either school, not sure if that is a family thing or the strep that is going around.

  • 492. CarolA  |  October 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    The good news is that if you don’t like something in life, you can change it. If you don’t like the terrible, unprofessional teachers at your school, you can take some action or move into another area. If you don’t want to go through this again, you have the option to move out of the city. Life is full of choices. So wonderful!

  • 493. Sped Mom  |  October 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Parents and guardians with children with special needs that impair their education are constantly reminded that the U.S., state and city value (promise) the delivery only of a “free, appropriate public education,” a.k.a. FAPE. Believe me, that does not mean that public students are owed the Cadillac of educational experiences. One can always trade up, however.

  • 494. GeeThanks  |  October 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    490 thanks Carol, and private school is FANTASTIC!

  • 495. Teacher4321  |  October 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Wow it appears things seemed to get a bit heated here today. Firstly, I don’t think there was any behind the scenes “sick-out” planned. Yes the union said that one could use sick or personal business days if you already had a vacation planned. I don’t imagine that pertained to Columbus Day for Track R. It did for Track E.

    What I will say now that we can’t bank our sick days long term, I’m going to use them if I need to. I used to only get a sub if I had intestinal illnesses or a raging fever. I would put off doctors appointments for weeks and moths until I could go after school or on a holiday so my kids would not have a sub. The board was offered many good ways around the “sick” day issue, and this is how they chose to deal with it. So yes. I’ll be professional and stay home with fevers over 100 and above. My children haven’t quite mastered the hand washing or covering of coughs etc.

  • 496. CarolA  |  October 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    @492: Glad it’s working out great for you! So nice to find people who are excited about their schools!

  • 497. anonymouse teacher  |  October 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    I hope folks realize that there are many, many required professional development courses pertaining to NWEA, Reach, TRC’s, and other assessments that teachers are REQUIRED to attend during the school day. Schools pay for subs on these days so teachers can go to them. There were a whole bunch happening on Monday. So, while there may have been teachers home sick or possibly just calling in, please consider that some have to go to these PD’s if the principal requires it. As well, there are often days where subs must be hired for the day so the teacher can go sit out in the hallway the entire day and test kids one to one. If you see a sub, don’t assume it is always due to illness. Sometimes, the teacher is testing or is sent to PD. My students have already had subs for 2.5 days this year. In total, they’ll have subs for nearly 8 full instructional days so I can give tests, one to one.

  • 498. TEACHER4321  |  October 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Since we’re off topic from the original thread and I’ve already brought up Donors Choose. Perhaps some of the readers/posters would be willing to each give $5.00 or $10.00 to a project. Perhaps CPSO or another poster will post one for the group to go in on. For the sake of remaining anonymous, I will go ahead and pledge to spend $10.00 this week on a project of my choosing without disclosing which project I posted to as my donor account is linked to my teacher account.

  • 499. TEACHER4321  |  October 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Oh remember the “double your money” code is Pumpkin.

  • 500. Sped Mom  |  October 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    I always feel soooo guilty when teachers have to get subs to cover for the mandated IEP meetings.

  • 501. TeacherD  |  October 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    CTU did not send out the schedule, CPS did. The memo for CTU members is true, but considering we all got an amended calendar a week and a half ago, I’d have to say it’s the Board’s fault on this one. As far as Columbus Day goes, CPS kids were the only ones in the State that had school. Teachers have families also. My children had the day off, so yes, I took the day off to be with my family, as is our family tradition.
    In reality, CPS did not have to make up the days. I do not know of any school district that goes beyond 175 days,except for CPS now. So the students haven’t lost or wouldn’t have lost any instructional time at all.
    I agree with Teacer4321, since I can’t bank sick days, I too will not be putting off appointments for myself or my kids for months on end. I used to put my school’s needs over my family’s for years, but that is going to be no longer true.

  • 502. CarolA  |  October 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Teacher4321: I have to admit….I made a donation to my own proposal hoping to get it funded sooner. I figured if they are matching funds, it’s a good way to complete the funding. The kids are the big winners! I hope if you have one out there, it gets funded! I have to tell you, I have friend who teaches in a SE school and she never has to write a DonorsChoose grant. All she does is mention it to a few of her classroom parents and in no time at all, she receives what she needs. I’m so happy for her, but at the same time a bit jealous!

  • 503. mom  |  October 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    CarolA – Or maybe the parents in your friend’s class really like and respect her in particular.

  • 504. CarolA  |  October 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Very true!

  • 505. Patricia  |  October 9, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    @ 465 Paul. Well stated and completely agree!

  • 506. Patricia  |  October 9, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    On a different note unrelated to the thread. Have any of your kids started using the cps gmail accounts for students? I just found out my son just started using it at his school in 6th grade. He can find any of his teachers and even was looking up some of his old favorite teachers 🙂 I look forward to seeing how his teachers and school use the technology. Maybe this is “old news”, but it was new to me and wondered if anyone had any thoughts on it.

  • 507. local  |  October 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    @ 465 Paul.

    I think one must understand that George Schmidt — who commented (long comments) — writes in hyperbole, but a lot of his facts are accurate. I wish he’d do a lot less name calling and use less crude language, but his understanding of the politics of education in CPS is very strong. If one can get passed the tone, I think one would find a lot of truth.

  • 508. local  |  October 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    make that “past”

  • 509. CarolA  |  October 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I have to give kudos to many of you. You sure do a lot of research and have plenty of articles to back up your thought process. Can’t say I have anything but my own school to fall back on. It’s been interesting to read up on some of the links.

  • 510. Todd Pytel  |  October 9, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    @505 (local) – I agree. George Schimdt is a knowledgeable guy. An angry, angry, knowledgeable guy.

  • 511. TEACHER4321  |  October 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I too find George hard to read many times. I would rather read Rod Edstvan’s analysis of things. I think he is very knowledgeable about the CPS budget, has worked for CPS, is a parent of CPS children and is a disability advocate. His expertise seems to go way beyond disability issues as far as the budget. I think for the most part they offer similar analysis of many topics, but Rod’s is easier understood and more straightforward. Just my 2 cents.

    CarolA- I have had over 50 proposals funded on Donors Choose. I have been using them since they started. However, I have used them as a resource less over the last few years. Trying to get back into the swing of things.

  • 512. EdgewaterMom  |  October 10, 2012 at 7:09 am

    @501 mom “Or maybe the parents in your friend’s class really like and respect her in particular.”

    I would imagine that it has a lot more to do with the fact that the parents of her friend’s students have more resources available to make donations. If you are teaching in a high-poverty school, I am sure that you are not going to get many donations from students’ families – no matter how much they like and respect you.

  • 513. EdgewaterMom  |  October 10, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Thanks for the info about the matching code for There are currently 14 projects for CPS schools – you can see them at

    Don’t forget to use matching code ‘Pumpkin’ when you check out – it doubles your donation.

  • 514. CarolA  |  October 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    @510 EdgewaterMom: Thanks for your response. I just didn’t want to walk down that road. Glad you did. 🙂

  • 515. anonymouse teacher  |  October 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Today, I just heard the 9th, yes folks, 9th conflicting message for my network regarding required tests. I wanted to scream. I love my job, I HATE my district. I have a good lead with a principal in a nice, well run, well funded, well supported, sane district. If a position opens up mid year, I can have my classroom packed up and could leave within a day. I used to say I’d never leave a group of kids mid-year, especially such small ones who have really bonded to me. But I will do it without a second thought now. This year or next fall, I have got to get out. Screw the pension, I only have 7 years in. Not worth it for me. The directive has changed 9 times since mid-August. WTF?!

  • 517. EdgewaterMom  |  October 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    @CarolA No problem! Comments like that make you realize that many people really do not understand what the majority of CPS teachers are dealing with. Heck, I know that I don’t really understand it!

    My daughter’s school is an interesting mix, because although there are many children who receive free or reduced lunch, there is a good sized subset of middle-class families that are able to contribute a bit extra. And all of the students come from families who had the resources to deal with CPS and figure out how to get their child into a magnet school (and to deal with the transportation issues that come with it).

    It is one of the things that I LOVE about our school – there is true racial and economic diversity, but most of the students come from homes that really value education.

    Sorry, I am rambling now! But I do want you, and the other teachers here, to realize that many of us do have some idea about what you are up against – and we really appreciate what you do!

  • 518. Teacher4321  |  October 10, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I was shocked that there were only 14 proposals up. It seems with different searches you come up with different amounts. I found 542 projects up. So go pick one that speaks to you!

  • 519. Teacher4321  |  October 10, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    The link I posted above does include some charters. However, 14 seemed like a small number and then I didn’t see my projects I know are live listed above. So I did some searching and it appears some schools are listed by their network and not the district 299 information. So there are somewhere between 14 and 542 CPS proposals up there.

    Maybe people would fund a teacher who hasn’t been funded before. Give them a chance to have the opportunity.

  • 520. EdgewaterMom  |  October 11, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Thanks for posting that Teacher4321! I was also surprised that there were only 14 listed – but I think I did filter by District 299.

  • 521. Paul  |  October 11, 2012 at 9:39 am

    @499 TeacherD, it looks like CTU demanded that the strike days be made up so teachers wouldn’t lose any of their pay.

    “WE demanded the right to make up days so that we did not lose any of our pay and the actual scheduling of strike makeup is ALWAYS difficult.”

  • 522. Todd Pytel  |  October 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Well… looks like we’re on to our 5th CEO in 4 years…

  • 523. CPS Teacher  |  October 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    We had bets in our department as to how long he would last. I think everyone had money on last or this week. What havoc will the CEO bring on is the question.

  • 524. anonymouse teacher  |  October 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    @521, I am expecting more disorganization, more chaos, more new names for things that sound nice but have no substance. Same old, same old.

  • 525. arjrsmom  |  October 13, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s email is if anyone wants it…

  • 526. jp  |  October 15, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Arghhh! Ogden just changed their two different spring break back to April 1-5. I now have two kids at CPS schools with two different spring breaks!

  • 527. jp  |  October 15, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Oops, I am so upset that I didn’t notice that I have some weird artifact in my previous post that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sorry. It probably doesn’t matter anyway. I just give up.

  • 528. another CPS mom  |  October 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Oh, my:

  • 529. falconergrad  |  October 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    jp, are you saying that one of your kid’s CPS schools changed their spring break week? i didn’t know they could do that. please elaborate if there are some specifics or unusual circumstances. was it in response to parent complaints? something else?

    as far as the calendar, it is crummy but I am fine with it I don’t want any more changes as that will make the whole district look even crazier than it already does. I am more unhappy about the longer day, I wish it was 6.5 hours instead.

  • 530. cpsobsessed  |  October 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I was wondering that too about changing spring break. I didn’t know a school could deviate from the cps calendar…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 531. cpsobsessed  |  October 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    MayfairDad – how is your son doing in HS this year? I know you were gonna move him. Is it a better fit than IB? was?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 532. mom  |  October 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Ogden has had a non standard calendar for years. It has nothing to do with a few whiny parents complaining about missing spring break in the Alps.

  • 533. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Ogden does hae a non standard calendar~BUT I heard they did move their springbreak bc of the parents…did any1 hear differently?

  • 534. jp  |  October 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Ogden is on its own calendar–neither Track R nor Track E–and has been that way for many years. I have a friend who jokingly calls it “Track S” after Ogden’s principal, Kenneth Staral. They start school the week before Labor Day, take the whole week off for Thanksgiving, and take some different days off that CPS doesn’t have off. I actually like their calendar better–they bunch the in service days so that you have a real break here and there. I guess they do it that way to accommodate the many international families whose kids attend the school.

    So–at the beginning of the year, we received our school calendar with April 1-5 as the spring break, just like everyone else in CPS. After the strike, Ogden revised their calendar–to add in half days (on different days than my child’s other school, of course!), and moved spring break to March 25-29, in line with the rest of CPS. On Monday, Ogden released another revised calendar, moving spring break BACK to the pre-strike April 1-5. Was it because parents complained? I don’t blame anyone for being upset about changing spring break, especially if they already made plans–but I am definitely the loser since I have one kid who will be off March 25-29, and one kid who will be off April 1-5.

  • 535. jp  |  October 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    By the way, I won’t be vacationing in the Alps this year. : )

    I was hoping to do something with both kids at the same time, though.

  • 536. RL Julia  |  October 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Did they mean the Alps East (on Damen and Irving Park) or the (more exotic) Alps West on Elston/Irving and Monticello?

  • 537. jp  |  October 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Great idea! I’ll take my one kid to the Alps East one week, and then I’ll take my other kid to the Alps West the following week!

  • 538. jp  |  October 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I haven’t told my boss that I’m going to need two weeks off for spring break this year!

  • 539. mom  |  October 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I might hit both East and West on our broke ass staycation.

  • 540. cpsobsessed  |  October 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Okay, we’ll have a blog get-together at one or the other over spring break!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 542. HS Mom  |  October 17, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    @536-539 – totally cracking me up. 😉
    Right there with you. Maybe if we call ahead we can get group rates, hoping of course that there is no cancellation fee.

  • 543. jp  |  November 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Ogden is now changing their school hours “to meet the provisions in the new school contract.” Too bad–my son really liked the early dismissal on Fridays. Weren’t all the high schools on that schedule? I guess I have to absorb yet another change to our daily schedules. I’m still adjusting to changes made last month to my other child’s bus route that was supposed to make everyone’s ride shorter, but makes hers about 45 minutes longer. What a way to run a school system.

  • 544. not working family friendly  |  November 13, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Does anyone have a school that allows appointment for report card pick up? School doesn’t do appointments. CPS just hates working parents. Another kick in the ass after Friday’s half day.

  • 545. RL Julia  |  November 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    My neighborhood school did appointments – which was sort of hit or miss since some people didn’t come when they signed up etc… but at least there was the idea that you had a time…..

  • 546. not working family friendly  |  November 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Yeah, the possibility of a 2 hour wait is going to keep us both from going. We’ll have to make a separate appointment. Perhaps that is what the school wants.

  • 547. cpsobsessed  |  November 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    My son’s school does appointments, most of which run about 30 min late since veryone talks more than their assigned 10 minutes.
    There are always evening hours.
    The school does the book fair and sells school merchandise, etc. The kids hang out in the halls while the parents meet with teachers. It is actually a fun day/evening.

    I do think that many schools that have been doing things one way for a long time need a positive kick in the butt (ie helpful suggestion and offer to help) to shift things to the working parent mentality. Or maybe it’s a customer service mentality that often doesn’t exist in urban public schools (in the past they may not have had many parents show up.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 548. northsidermom  |  November 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    My sons have enrolled in 3 elementary schools btw the two of them and all the schools have appointments for parents on report card pick up date.

  • 549. RL Julia  |  November 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Just got back from Whitney Young and Northside’s report card pick ups – really not too bad and things running on schedule. Actually saw a few more teachers at each stop than had originally anticipated. Predictable lines for Math and English teachers no lines for some of the others – gotta feel for the art and pe and music teachers – sitting there for hours with no parental love….

  • 550. anonymouse teacher  |  November 13, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    I just got home from report card pick up. What amazing families we have at my school. While I sat with a mom who was weeping over the murder of her brother, the other parents patiently waited, giving her time to process. I am so appreciative of such understanding and patient families. I know all schools aren’t like that.

  • 551. anotherchicagoparent  |  November 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

    @543 Several high schools still have the earlier release/later start day,one day a week,not necessarily on Friday.My child attends one of them.High schools varied what they did with the time from the beginning of the school year.Some chose to use the 7hr 15 minute day 5 days a week right from the start of the new school year. Earlier release/ later start days varied by schools.

  • 552. kiki h.  |  November 14, 2012 at 9:57 am

    That’s really heartbreaking, Anonymouse.

  • 553. not working family friendly  |  November 14, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I thank God there are teachers like you anonymouse teacher. You are so giving. There is a contrast. I am trying to make it work with a teacher who says “I DON”T DO APPOINTMENTS” when I asked if I could make a specific time with her for report card pick up since I have to work and my husband has to work.

  • 554. anonymouse teacher  |  November 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    @553, please call the principal. Call the network chief. Call BBB. Complain your rear off about that one to people with power to do something. Complaining here might make you feel better for a second. All teachers should be willing to make appointments. At the very least, an appointment could happen during a teacher’s prep time. Or by phone in the evening. There are bigger fish to fry in CPS and this should be an easy problem to solve.

  • 555. CarolA  |  November 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I can’t believe there is a principal that allows teachers to get away with not having appointments. It’s unrealistic. I agree with anonymouse…complain. Start with the principal and work your way up from there. That’s crazy! Even if you can’t make it on the report card pick up day, make an appointment for before or after school. Teachers MUST be available.

  • 556. jp  |  December 18, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Has anyone seen this survey to plan next year’s school calendar? I found out about it in a rather roundabout way. There are some intriguing ideas being floated based on some of the survey questions–a week off in February?!

  • 557. falconergrad  |  December 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I had not heard of this survey. Big surprise! Thanks for the heads up. I am going to forward the link to our principal.

  • 558. falconergrad  |  December 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    at the bottom of the link it says:

    Page Last Modified on Tuesday, December 18, 2012

    so maybe it was just posted or does anyone know how long the link has been there?

  • 559. anonymouse teacher  |  December 18, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    @556, Did you see they even suggest a week off in February, October and April? I’d have to know more before being able to comment intelligently.
    I don’t think at this point it is even anything to take seriously. Good to take the survey, but don’t worry about it/get too hopeful about it.

  • 560. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 19, 2012 at 12:26 am

    The Civic Consulting Alliance and New Schools for Chicago share a suite on the 43rd floor of the Chase Building. They also share some board members. Phyllis Lockett, the founding president and CEO of New Schools for Chicago, sits on the Civic Consulting Alliance’s board and used to be CCA’s executive director. The New Schools for Chicago website says Locket has helped triple the number of charter schools in Chicago.

    Nice reporting by Linda Lutton

  • 561. ca  |  December 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

    @558 — it was emailed to parents from CPS “internal communications” on Dec.17

  • 562. jp  |  December 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Really? I usually get robocalls and messages from CPS about all sorts of things. I found out about this survey from a message board. The woman who posted it says she found out about it from the Huffington Post.

  • 563. CPS Kinder Mom  |  December 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I found out about the survey as the link was posted by CPS on facebook.

  • 564. jp  |  December 20, 2012 at 9:27 am

    OK, just got an email from one kid’s school with the link to the survey. I’ll be very curious to see what the calendar for next year looks like!

    I have mentioned before that I have a sixth grader in his first year at Ogden. I was surprised to learn last year when he was accepted into their program that they have their own calendar–neither Track R or Track E. Having two kids on two different calendars has caused some headaches for me (OK, one big headache because Ogden refused to change spring break when CPS did, but I believe I went on about that in another thread), but overall I like Ogden’s calendar better than my other child’s traditional CPS calendar. Ogden bunch the in-service days around other breaks, so that you have time to actually go somewhere (and I’m not just talking about the Swiss Alps, either–I believe road trips offer great educational opportunities). For instance, Ogden takes the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Thanksgiving off. The school year starts a week earlier than the regular calendar, which I didn’t find to be too much of a hardship–starting in early August when Track E starts has never appealed to me. Anyway, I am posting the link to Ogden’s calendar. If any of you think it makes sense, you can mention it in the survey.

  • 565. Mom  |  December 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Did anyone else receive this note from CPS on school safety on 12/15? The school says CPS emailed this to all parents but we did not receive.

    December 15, 2012

    Dear CPS Parents, guardians and caretakers,
    By now, you are probably aware of the news of yesterday’s shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of everyone who might have been affected by this tragic incident.
    We want to assure you that your child’s safety, and that of our staff, is our top priority at Chicago Public Schools. We have worked very hard to ensure that there are safety measures in place across the District to protect your children and our staff. As part of these safety plans, we already have several actions in place, including but not limited to:

    · Every school has an individual, custom Emergency Management Plan, as well as a School Safety Plan.
    · All schools are required to conduct regular emergency drills to account for various crisis situations, including a situation that may involve an active shooter.
    · All schools must have standard entry and access control protocols to manage the entry of students, staff and visitors.
    · All CPS schools have security and, in some cases, schools have Chicago Police officers in the building.
    · In all cases, CPS administrators maintain an ongoing strong partnership with Chicago Police to ensure the safety of our schools.
    Yesterday, we sent a mass email out to all Principals reminding them of the importance of being prepared. In this letter we asked the Principals to take additional steps such as:

    · If they haven’t already, make sure they immediately conduct their required emergency drills.
    · Ensure that the school’s exterior doors are secured at all times.
    · Enforce the visitor protocols to ensure that all visitors are going through the standard entry process.
    · Make sure that everyone knows that safety is EVERYONE’S responsibility and that everyone needs to remain vigilant.
    As further information unfolds around yesterday’s incident, we will continue to explore additional ways that we need to improve our safety strategies.
    We appreciate your involvement as concerned parents and again want to reassure you that we are continuing to improve on how we do safety at Chicago Public Schools. If at any time, you have any questions or concerns around your child’s safety, please contact your child’s Principal immediately. It is everyone’s goal to be responsive to these concerns as quickly as possible. We take this matter very seriously and look forward to continue engaging you around this very critical issue.
    Thank you for your support.

    Jadine Chou
    Chief Safety and Security Officer
    Chicago Public Schools

  • 566. Mom  |  December 20, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I meant to add that we did not get an email from cps or school about the school year survey, either. But we do get other cps and school emails. Hmmmm

  • 567. HS Mom  |  December 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

    My best guess is that the CPS e-mail to families has something to do with registering your e-mail in the parent portal. The sender is “internal communications” so it can easily be overlooked or might end up in spam.

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  • 569. cristal  |  February 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I hate the fact that the state and president are trying to add more hours to school.. I and also others think “what do we get done in the couple hours we have left” I can’t go out with my friends because there is still homework. While I’m doing homework the couple hours that I have left are. Flying by.when I’m out with friends its already late..I feel like we don’t even have time for ourselves..

  • 570. falconergrad  |  February 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    cristal, I hear you and sympathize. Most of the time I was in HS, I had a part time job. I don’t see how kids can easily do that and go to school now.

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