CPS committee to help with community input on school closings

November 4, 2012 at 11:59 am 274 comments

I got to sit in on a call with some parent bloggers with the new CEO, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, to learn about this new Commission that has been appointed to be a community liaison with the public in anticipation of upcoming school closings.  CPS has asked for 3 additional months to give communities more time to respond to the proposals, so this was all announced this week.   Below is a speech BBB gave to the Chicago Urban League   From the Urban League’s web site: “For 95 years, the Chicago Urban League has been a leader in building strong sustainable African American communities and creating opportunities with the power to transform people’s lives!”  Presumably, many of the school closings will be in largely African American communities where population has dwindled in the past decade so I image that’s why this audience is being addressed.

To summarize the news, CPS needs to close schools for financial reasons because many are underutilized.  BBB/CPS realized that the way it’s been done in the past makes communities feel like CPS is shoving a decision down their throats.  They want to give communities more input on how best to handle it.  It will still happen, but with input, hopefully the changes can be less painful, more productive, more palatable to the communities affected.

My one main observation of BBB during the call is her ability to squarely answer questions (which yes, now I can say it, JCB couldn’t do.  He’s a tangent/high level guy.)   My favorite part of the call was when I asked whether CPS was actually looking for input from community groups on ideas for using building space, consolidation, etc.   She said something to the effect of “Yes, we do, otherwise this would just be a fancy way of telling people “here’s what we’re going to do to you.”  I like that kind of self-realization and honesty.  I guess I too have had the sense that CPS is shoving things down people’s throats, so it’s hard to lose that notion, frankly. 

Jacqueline Edelberg (the Nettelhorst lady, who now blogs for HuffPo) reminded BBB that there used to be a Community School initiative that used building space as a community center – and BBB agreed that ideas like this could be brought to the table, and that communities need to think out of the box on how to handle closings, building space, and consolidation. 

Of course this assumes that communities can take the initiative and come up with ideas that don’t turn into civil wars within the community (which seems to be happening in Lincoln Park.)

Anyhow, I’m printing BBB’s speech below.  What do you think?  Genuine? Spin? Will this help ease the pain of school closings?


I would like to start by saying it is a privilege for me to serve as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.  I have devoted my professional life to teaching and leading schools and school districts in order to ensure that all and I mean all of our children have an opportunity for access to the highest quality instruction that prepares them for the future.

For me, this work is our society’s highest calling and a lasting contribution. That calling started for me nearly 40 years ago when I stepped foot into my first classroom as a teacher in East Harlem, New York City.  I was a teacher for more than ten years and a principal for eight years.

As a child growing up in the General Grant public housing projects in Harlem, I learned from my parents that the only way to have a dream, chase that dream and to capture that dream would be through education.

You see, neither of my parents received a high school diploma but they understood the value of education. Both of my parents were hard working people – loving people – who put everything they had into their children despite the fact that we often wanted to stray on the wild side, they kept us on the straight and narrow.

It is because of the values my parent instilled in me and because of our faith that I stand before you today. My values are at the core of how I approach this work and how I make decisions.

I have drawn my strength from my parents and my throughout my life in every role and every position I have held as an educator.

I have served and led some of the most troubled urban school systems in our nation – from New York City to Cleveland and Detroit. And, in each of these Districts, we made progress.

In New York, I led both the Crown Heights School District in Brooklyn and the Chancellor’s District.  The Chancellor’s District was the city’s first non- geographic district composed of some the city’s historically  lowest performing schools.

During my tenure, with the incredible commitment and partnership of the teachers, principals and members of the community, we were increased student achievement by providing the direction, resources and support needed for success.

For example, after the first year the third grade reading scores increased from 31% at/above grade level to 46%.  As we know, a child’s performance in third grade often dictates the likelihood of that child’s future school success and it is an indicator of whether that child will be on track for graduation from high school.

I then spent nearly eight years as CEO of the Cleveland Municipal School District.  It is a district governed by the Mayor of the City of Cleveland and in 1998 it was the largest district in the state of Ohio.  During my tenure there, from 1998 to 2005, fourth and sixth grade student scores improved in reading and mathematics more than twice as fast as the state averages.  In Cleveland, I not only inherited an academic crisis but a fiscal one as well with more than a $150 million deficit.  I eliminated the deficit in one year.  We maintained a balanced budget; were lifted from the district designation of financial emergency and then received clean audits every year thereafter.

I most recently served in Detroit as Chief Academic and Accountability Auditor where I worked with Robert Bobb, the District’s Emergency Financial Manager.   Like Cleveland, Detroit faced both a fiscal and academic crisis.   In Detroit, I created a five-year academic reform plan that was aligned with available and projected district resources.  The plan was specific, focused and aligned to national standards.   By 2011, state test scores in reading at grades 4, 6, 7 and 8 increased between 2 and 7 percent each.   Unfortunately, it is my understanding that the new administration in Detroit has decided not to continue implementation of the plan and the key initiatives and strategies I put into place.

In each of the urban school districts I have served, the majority of the children start out with tremendous disadvantages.  They often live in communities with inadequate health care services, substandard housing, under resourced schools and minimum supports and services available to their families. They live in neighborhoods that have more than their share of violence.  But does that mean these children cannot learn?  No, these children may live in poverty but they are not poor.  They can and they do learn.  They have the strength and fortitude to triumph over so many obstacles, if the adults in their lives simply do not give up on them.

My sister and I were those children growing up so I know it is not easy, but we succeeded.   I believe….no…. I know that every child in the Chicago Public Schools is born with the God-given grey matter and ability to succeed. I believe in every one of them.   And the teachers who teach our children share in this commitment to our students. I know, because for years I was one of them.  Our teachers need strong support from the school district, the local community and, especially, parents.

But, our children need more than just a committed teacher; they need a strong team of adults behind them.  And that is what I am determined to provide for each child, each day in each classroom in the City of Chicago.

I am fortunate to have a great foundation in which to begin this journey as CEO because of Mayor Emanuel’s unwavering commitment to helping every child access a high quality education.  This foundation will help every child in every school get on a better path for success through a quality, full school school day.  Children now have the time they need with their teachers for critical core subject like math and reading. Students have access to more art and music. Schools have the ability to invest more time and resources for kids that require intervention and specialized programming to help address their needs.  We have a new teacher evaluation system that will provide teachers with the tools and supports they need to improve student outcomes in the classroom.

We’ve got a jump start on adopting common core state standards, which will also help every child in every school by giving them a more rigorous curriculum that will better prepare them for college and success in the classroom.   Principals today are more empowered than ever to make decisions in their schools that can better support student growth.   All of these are investments in our kids and their learning. And every child in our system stands to benefit from them. And I thank the Mayor for making these investments a top priority for this city. And there remains much more to be done.

I am a believer but I am also a realist.   I know we cannot do what is necessary for our children while facing a billion-dollar deficit.  We cannot do what is necessary while school buildings are crumbling.  We cannot do what is necessary without the resources for a 21st century education. I share many of the aspirations for our schools that have been proposed by the Chicago Teachers Union and others:  A library in every public school; equal access to advanced technology for every child;   air-conditioned schools; a nurse in every school; more counselors and updated, current instructional materials and resources and high quality after-school programs.   I want our children to learn in safe, warm buildings with green playgrounds.

We must be willing to make the tough choices and critical investments that will best serve our school children.   We also need to acknowledge that our District is not serving all the needs of all our children. Our resources are stretched so thin.   When we consolidate our schools that are underutilized or half empty, we will be able to better invest those resources across the district.   We cannot do what is necessary when we have almost 500,000 seats for a student population closer to 400,000.  And today, we simply have too many buildings and too few children.

But these are not decisions that can or should be made in a vacuum.   Chicago’s public schools belong to the citizens and the community.   We must make sure that the community participates in the decision-making process.  We must be open and transparent.   We must listen.  The question is not whether each of our children should have these things.  The question is how do we provide them.

As many of you know, state law requires us to announce by December 1st the schools that we have identified for closure and consolidation.  The intent of this law is our intent.   SB630 is intended to give community opportunities to respond to the district’s proposals.  But I believe, we should provide every opportunity for community participation at the outset. And I do not believe that the current deadline provides parents, teachers and community members with sufficient time to share their concerns and expectations.   Based on the District’s history, as well as the District’s past actions, we need to acknowledge that the community simply does not trust what we say or what we do.  And if we know this, then we must be inclusive and open.  We need to engage all levels of the community. The members of our community deserve to be treated as authentic partners.   We need to build trust, respect and transparency.  We cannot create the vision for the Next Generation – Chicago’s Children – if the community does not know and understand the vision.  The community must be involved in the planning and the work that needs to be done in order to provide all of our children with a high-quality education.

Therefore, I have recommended to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and our Board President David Vitale – and they have agreed – to seek from the state legislature – an extension of the December 1st deadline.  The request for an extension of the deadline to March 31st of next year gives us the time needed to rigorously and respectfully engage our communities in authentic conversations.  This could be accomplished in the post-election veto session and I intend to personally pursue this and to get it done.  We have reached out to our legislative leaders in Springfield and we have asked them to consider such a measure as sponsors of Senate Bill 630.  This extension would enable me to appoint a Commission on School Utilization.  The Commission will ensure the participation of parents, community leaders, public interest groups and faith leaders in making these tough decisions.  In addition, I would recommend to the Commission that the first meeting of the Commission be held with CTU so that they are partners in the work moving forward.  This Commission will hold public meetings across the city in every neighborhood to listen and to gather community input.  They will also meet with subject matter experts to gather information and recommendations.  The Commission’s work and they information they gather, will be present and help to inform the District before final decisions are made.

Members who have agreed to serve are:

  • The Honorable Iris Y Martinez, representative for the people of Illinois’ 20th Legislative District and the first Hispanic woman elected to the state senate in Illinois history.
  • Frank M. Clark, retired chairman and chief executive officer of ComEd.
  • Pastor John Hannah, born and raised in Chicago and the Senior Pastor of New Life Covenant Church and radio host for Chicago’s #1 rated Gospel radio program.
  • Terry Hillard, former Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.
  • Alderman Howard B. Brookins, serving his second term in the 21st Ward and Chair of the Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus.
  • Fausto Lopez, former principal
  • Earnest Gates, one of the principle people responsible for the transformation of the newly named “West Haven” neighborhood.
  • Shirley Calhoun, a CPS parent and grandparent and assistant parent coordinator at Fiske Elementary
  • Debra Perkins, a retired CPS teacher

At the end of this process, our goal will be to have strong neighborhood schools in each community that provide our children with the high quality education they deserve.  I want to make it perfectly clear that the Commission for School Utilization is not designed to delay our tough decisions.  A March 31st deadline does not prohibit us from making the necessary decisions in time for full implementation by the next school year.  But the extension will give us time to provide an open and transparent process – one that considers the views and desires of parents, teachers, principals and neighborhood residents.  And it is only through such an open and transparent process that we can forge the consensus we need to do what is best for our children and our city.  It will give the members of the community voice as we create  neighborhood schools for the Next Generation of Chicago’s Children.

The Mayor and I share a vision for the more than 400,000 public school children in Chicago.  That vision starts with school buildings that are clean and conducive for learning.  Schools that are air-conditioned. Schools where children have access to advanced technologies and  libraries rich with books, reference materials and other media tools. Schools with safe and attractive playgrounds.  Our vision is of a school filled with creative and talented teachers, caring nurses and empathic counselors.  Schools led by strong and supportive principals.  Our vision is for schools where children have a joy for learning and the learning is meaningful, engaging and purposeful.  It is a vision of parents and teachers working together each day for the benefit of each child, in each classroom.  And finally, it is a vision where all of the adults in the city of Chicago have suspended their disbelief about our children.  It is a vision where all adults are united and wrap their arms around the children.

I know if we are willing to make the tough decisions and if we are willing to work together we can get this right.  I know I cannot do this alone.   I need your support.  I ask you to join me with open minds and open hearts as we redesign our District for the next generation of Chicago’s children.  Thank you.

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NYTimes Article: For Asians, School Tests Are Vital Steppingstones Tier Changes and Q&A with OAE

274 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jill  |  November 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Raise Your Hand’s board member, Dwayne Truss points out that there is no West Side representation on the CPS committee named last week. Realistically I do not expect everyone to be satisfied with every committee appointment, but decisions from CPS continue to appear to be made in a private star chamber. Instead of the usual suspects (a la Board of Education members), the resounding response to most of the people named in last week’s announcement is a resounding, “Who?” I urge CPS to change course so the individuals participating is more balanced and recognizable to diverse constituents.

  • 2. misfit4lyfe  |  November 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I am curious to know what the CTU’s prez response was to this speech.

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  November 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Luckily because the internet, we can see CTU’s response!

    CHICAGO – Today, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis released the following statement in response to an announcement by Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett that she wants to push school closings announcements to March of next year rather than adhere to state law that requires a December 1 deadline. At 4 p.m. today the CTU will join a number of organizations and parents at City Hall in a joint protest of school closings.

    “We appreciate the CEO recognizes the CPS’ process around school closings is extraordinarily flawed. However, we do not support delaying the date to announce which schools will be targeted by the district for disruptive actions,” Lewis said. “Given today’s assertion that CPS needs more time to unveil their newest community targets, the only announcement that makes sense on December 1st is ‘There will be no school closings this year.’ We have called for a moratorium on all school actions until we have an analysis of the devastating impact these actions have on our students and neighborhoods.

    “Clearly we need real analysis, meaningful conversations and valued community input from the parents and groups who have been on the frontlines of fighting for more resources and support for neighborhood schools. CPS must repair the damage that’s been done by these failed policies as it seeks to rebuild trust with the community,” she continued.

    “CPS owes Chicago a legitimate fiscal plan that details how we build and support school communities. Taxpayers deserve stability on Clark Street and an end to the revolving door that has created chaos in our school system. They should not change the law because they have a change in leadership, said Lewis.”

  • 5. WendyK  |  November 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    It doesn’t really make sense to say these decisions are sparked by population changes when charters are popping up all over the neighborhoods where schools are being closed. If we were doing only consolidations and not rapid charter expansion, then I could take that statement at face value. Here’s an analysis Catalyst did recently stating there’s minimal cost savings to closing schools.


    There is $76million in the budget this year for New School Development. With a billion dollar projected deficit and the claim that we need to close schools to save money and deal with population changes, I think this spending belies some of the bullet points CPS has given you to share with your readers. I also think it’s telling that with two weeks on the job, Becky Carroll has BBB sharing bullet points with bloggers. No offense, but kind of an interesting use of time.

  • 6. WendyK  |  November 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    FYI, here’s an article about charter expansion at CPS:

  • 7. parent  |  November 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Having Earnest Gates for better or worse on the committee is a represents the West Side. Trust me there is no one more “West Side then him….. for better of for worse!

  • 8. Family Friend  |  November 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    @5 – As I noted earlier this year, putting charters into schools closed by CPS has turned out to be a bad thing for the charters, because the declining population of school age children in those areas makes it hard for charters to attract kids in the neighborhoods where they are located. Charter operators who have experienced this problem are turning down CPS facilities if they can afford to get a building in an area with greater demand for schools, especially some Hispanic neighborhoods where schools remain overcrowded.

  • 9. cpsobsessed  |  November 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Have to agree, it is counter-intuitive to be putting up charter right now (or anything that requires a $ outlay on the part of CPS.) If somebody could show me a charter that was certain of doing a MUCH better job at educating certain groups of kids I can see the value. I don’t know that any charters provide that level of certainty right now, do they?

    I am kind of a budget conservative, so I’m more of a hardass when it comes to closing schools. But during times of economic distress is not necessarily the time you get to focus on “choice” for the sake of choice.

    @FamilyFriend, you bring up a good point about location of the charter. They have no bussing. Don’t always have after-school care. I know this was part of the challenge for Quest.

  • 10. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 4, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    CPSO~’My one main observation of BBB during the call is her ability to squarely answer questions (which yes, now I can say it, JCB couldn’t do. He’s a tangent/high level guy.)’~Why did you feel you couldn’t be honest and say that in the beginning. I know that Chicago Moms did a soft interview on him and it was quite disappointing. Also, I don’t think we can say that B3 ‘squarely answer questions’ yet, as she didn’t w/Carol Marin.

    Some parent groups will be meeting w/B3 in the next few weeks. Her asking for an extension of March instead of Dec 1st for a list of closings shows that it’s not abt the kids. How will the parents plan and chose where to send their kids in such a short time of March? Many questions will have to be answered b4 we can say that there is trust.

  • 11. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    And ITA w/Wendy~Becky Carroll is giving B3 bullet points to bloggers and no one is really questioning her and asking her the hard questions~Carol Marin did, but she sidestepped some questions.

  • 12. cpsobsessed  |  November 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    @Sox: Hm, that is a good question. I guess it feel disrespectful to negatively comment on someone’s personal style while they’re in charge for some reason. I’m happy to comment on dumb policy or decisions, but I feel weird talking about other stuff. I don’t *think* I have about Karen Lewis either. I don’t want to be that person.

    That is very true about the march date not being good for parents, but neither is just announcing the plans right now with no input. It’s a no-win, it seems. When is the list being published? I would assume that could be made public now of the schools on the list, so those schools would know that they need to mobilize, right? And if I were at a low enrollment low performance school I would probably be looking at options right now or trying to find out if my school were on the list.

    What would some of the hard questions be? I am happy to ask.

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  November 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Actually, I think I have freely criticized Rahm. He seems more like a mythical character who I will never encounter in person or on Facebook.

  • 14. local  |  November 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    How much money will be saved, net, by school closings and charter openings? From what I read, not much.

  • 15. EdgewaterMom  |  November 4, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    @5 WendyK

    If we were doing only consolidations and not rapid charter expansion, then I could take that statement at face value.

    I agree with this. While I have mixed feelings about charter schools, I do not think that it is fair to invest heavily in them while closing so many CPS schools.

    I also think that they should at least publish a list of potential school closings in December. CPS needs time to make the right decisions, but parents also need time to make the best decisions for their kids based on what CPS does.

    We have a huge budget deficit and clearly need to close some schools. However, we also have a responsibility to come up with a plan for ALL children in Chicago to be able to receive a decent education in a safe school. I just have no idea how to go about doing that.

  • 16. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 4, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    #12~CPSO~that’s right it’s not good right now to list the schools as of Dec 1 bc there will be not community input~that’s why a moratorium should be set for this yr and give the rest of this yr to really talk and get imput…March would not be ideal and Rahm and B3 know it. Many are writing legislatures now to ask they not to give it…I hope it won’t pass.

    Also, Less than 24 hours after Chicago Public Schools’ new CEO Barbara Bryd-Bennett announced her intentions to rebuild trust in communities before shuttering schools, Logan Square, a northwest side community isn’t buying it.


    I’m a let’s look at her history kinds gal…her history shows her present and future…she’ll be here no longer than 2yrs, if that.

  • 17. CarolA  |  November 5, 2012 at 7:37 am

    CPSO: Even though it’s off topic, I’d love for you to ask her to open up the window for substitute teachers to apply. We are in such short supply for substitutes and they won’t open the pool for more applicants. As a result, our bilingual and special ed teachers are cancelling their schedules to substitute. End result, students are not getting their needs met. This happens EVERY FRIDAY and at least one other day during the week at my school. I hear it’s a HUGE problem across the city. PLEASE find some way to ask her the reason why they won’t reopen the application window. Don’t let her tell you anything different. I know of 2 highly qualified teachers right out of college that have tried to apply and have been turned away. Yet, we sit with no substitutes to cover classes. Parent posters: Can you PLEASE check with your child’s school about this and see if it’s a problem? It seems to be across the city. Obviously, harder hit is some areas than others, but still a problem. We need to fix this. It’s such an easy fix. THANKS!

  • 18. cpsobsessed  |  November 5, 2012 at 7:51 am

    @Carol, so there is a too-small pool of subs is what you’re saying and some have stopped working or calling for assignments and cps won’t let new people onto the list?

    Fyi- I need to find the link, but thet have started with the online signup for board meeting (obviously still won’t work for teachers who are in school that day…)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 19. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 5, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Here’s the online signup for BOE

  • 20. cpsobsessed  |  November 5, 2012 at 9:54 am


    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 21. anonymous  |  November 5, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I’m not for any delay in announcing the 100 schools to be closed. BBB also said the schools will not all be closed based on low outcomes but on a need for improved efficiency. So it sounds as if many schools are on the table.

    This introduces a high level of instability into the school district, and it’s hard for teachers to work under those conditions.

  • 22. Paul  |  November 5, 2012 at 11:28 am

    On the one hand, I don’t want CPS to rush into announcing school closings without community input. On the other hand, I think there should be plenty of advanced notice before closing a school. Perhaps CPS should announce a smaller list of closings by this deadline, for the most underutilized schools, those that should be closed over the summer.

    I would appreciate clarity as to whether CPS thinks the school should close because of underutilization or low performance or both. And, I think the criticism for opening charters at the same time schools are closing is valid. CPS and the charter need to make a strong case for that. And, presumably, they would only propose opening a charter in the same area where a school is closing when the school is closing because of low performance, not for underutilization.

  • 23. Sped Mom  |  November 5, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I wonder if Rod Estvan over at Access Living could talk to BBB about the lack of subs limiting the education of disabled students this year?

  • 24. CpsUnless  |  November 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    CarolA, I have found the same thing re/ subs at my child’s school. No one showed up last week to sub, supposedly due to the small size of the sub pool allotted. Sad!

  • 25. cpsmama  |  November 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    This sub issue appears to be a real problem.

    In addition to the lack of subs is what appears to be an increased rate of taking sick & personal days by teachers and adminsitrators this year. In the past, they may have stockpiled sick days in past years w/ the expectation of getting $$ for them when they retire. Since that is not an option going forward, its seems that the mindset for many has changed to “use your sick & personal days.”

    My kids have had a lot more absent teachers – sometimes without subs- this year than in past years.

    What is the point of the longer day/longer year- if our kids teachers aren’t there and subs aren’t either??

  • 26. cpsobsessed  |  November 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Just wanted to clarify on the call with BBB, we were not given any bullet points. We were sent the press release, joined the call, and it was an all-question format for about 20 minutes (and we all need to take turns) so I got about 2 questions in….

  • 27. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I thought it was press release. I saw an article (blog) and in it was the actual press release (most of it) that was sent from Becky Carroll to every1. I think it’s more beneficial when you can sit down w/the person the first time and then subsequent times use the telephone~just to see their expression/reaction. 20 minutes is not enough time to really ask questions w/any sort of substantial answers. Just my opinion.

    I know some ppl who will be meeting w/her. I’m sure she is very nice, but she has an agenda (Rahm’s) that she must phase in and then she’ll be gone (w/in 2 yrs)~just my 2 pennies.

  • 28. cpsobsessed  |  November 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Yes, I don’t think there’s any doubt that her mission aligns with Rahm’s.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 29. lawmom  |  November 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Schools are given a ranking based on a number of criteria. 1 being the top performers and 3 being the worst. If two schools are going to be merged, I would urge that the displaced children be moved into the higher performing school in order to “move them up the grid”.

    Secondly, when it comes to charters, not all charters are statistically good performers, so I would urge CPS to permit top performing charters (statistically) to open schools in overly populated areas only, such as the northwest side. As stated before it makes no economic sense to bring charters into low attendance areas, at least at this time.

    I think it is critical that communities engage their Alderperson in these discussions especially since sometimes they are not aligned with parent desires. The alderperson should be present at these community discussions for their relevant communities.

  • 30. RL Julia  |  November 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I like your ideas – however with the merging – for reasons mostly to do with geography – I am pretty sure that it would difficult to achieve. Under NCLB, all children in failing schools have the right to transfer to any school…..that isn’t already oversubscribed – and oddly enough, the stronger schools in the CPS system tend to be just that… I would think that what is a more likely scenario is that two undersubscribed, low functioning schools will be merged –possibly into one larger school (possibly low functioning) compounding the problems. The question becomes- will the one resultant school be given any extra money or supports to address the problems that might have caused people to not attend the school in the first place?

  • 31. Esmom  |  November 5, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    @25 “My kids have had a lot more absent teachers – sometimes without subs-“”

    Without subs?? Then who is overseeing the class??

  • 32. cpsmama  |  November 5, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    @31- it’s a SEHS and the kids can generally be trusted. Sometimes an admin person or a free teacher runs in to take attendance. But my point is that there is no teaching occurring those days.

  • 33. CarolA  |  November 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    CPSO: It appears that teachers, for a multitude of reasons, are taking more days off than in the past. Some of the subs from past years have been hired, reducing the number of subs in the pool. Schools have varying start times so those schools with an 8:45 start often are out of luck because the available subs have been used for the 7:45 start schools. I just don’t understand why the pool of substitutes is limited. The only reason I can think of is to present a problem to the public and blame it on the teachers taking off. Why not have an excess of subs be our problem rather than the reverse?

  • 34. Chris M.  |  November 5, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    CPS is limiting the number of subs they have. They have been moving in this direction for the past few years. The application window to apply to sub is generally rather short and not well publicized. This seems to be a strategic move to limit the amount of subs they have to pay but also to make sure that displaced teachers, who are placed in the sub pool, have a site in which to sub. Also, schools used to be able to retain their subs or calls subs with whom they had a relationship if they knew a teacher would be absent. Last year, CPS stopped allowing schools to do this, thus making subbing in our district less attractive as subs couldn’t count on getting work at schools they had a relationship with or that were near their homes. Now Clark St. makes the decision as to where a sub is sent. As a sub, it is more appealing to work in the collar suburbs than risk being sent to an unfamiliar school or to have to travel over an hour to get to a school site.

    Additionally, subs are being drained because of the large volume of one to one testing mandated in the primary grades. When a teacher has to give 1:1 tests, such as Dibels, a sub has to cover that class for the teacher to test. As testing has increased in the district over the past few years, more subs are being utilized for this purpose. Combine this with a decrease in subs and there aren’t enough to cover when teachers are sick or take personal days.

    As for who is overseeing a class, generally an ancillary teacher, someone who doesn’t have a dedicated classroom, say a bilingual resource teacher or the gym teacher, has to supervise the class. At other times, classes are combined.

  • 35. EdgewaterMom  |  November 6, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I do not understand why CPS would want to decrease the pool of available subs. Is there any cost to having a sub in the pool if they are not actually teaching? This makes no sense to me. How does CPS benefit by having a small sub pool?

    I also think that it is really silly that a school cannot develop a relationship with a sub and request a specific sub. Why would Clark St. want to control this?

    What is the CTU’s opinion regarding this? Has anybody from the CTU commented on this situation?

  • 36. CarolA  |  November 6, 2012 at 7:10 am

    EdgewaterMom: Our PPC (professional problems committee) which is led by our union rep has had numerous conversations with our principal and the union regarding this matter. The union maintains that principals cannot use bilingual or special ed teachers for the purpose of subbing unless it is an “emergency”. Our PPC has stated that EVERY Friday cannot be an emergency. We are in discussions now. The union states that, by law, the bilingual and sped ed students MUST receive all the required minutes. We will see if it goes to a grievance, but time is ticking and children are missing out. It doesn’t make sense to me to limit a sub pool. It doesn’t cost a dime to have someone on a list.

  • 37. CarolA  |  November 6, 2012 at 7:32 am

    So I guess there is a slight cost initially for a sub due to background checks, etc, but otherwise no cost. Also, there may be something to Chris M.’s message regarding using teachers from the displaced pool. I didn’t think of that. Not necessarily the best choice. I hate to admit it, but I’ve seen a couple from that pool and it has been chaotic. I’m sure there are plenty good ones, but there is a down side as well.

  • 38. EdgewaterMom  |  November 6, 2012 at 7:58 am

    We had a really bad experience with a sub last year, and now that I know that subs are assigned by Clark Street, I wish that I had pursued the issue further. My principal took care of the situation and that sub was not assigned to my dd’s class again, but I had assumed that my principal would never request that sub again. I did not realize that they did not have any choice in the matter. Honestly, she should not be subbing in ANY classroom.

  • 39. cpsobsessed  |  November 6, 2012 at 8:41 am

    When my mom subbed in the high schools a few years ago, it was mostly maintained downtown but some schools used their own list of regulars. If you got on the regular list you were pretty much set. I have to imagine that somebody somewhere complained that this wasn’t fair….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 40. CPSoops  |  November 6, 2012 at 9:19 am

    39 our neighborhood school had several retired cps teachers who were subs. they all lived in the neightborhood and would show up when the weather was bad, or on a moment’s notice. sigh….

  • 41. Bookworm  |  November 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    @32 seriously a room with no adult all day? I find that hard to believe. It isn’t legal all day in any school to have no one assigned to supervise a room of students.

  • 42. cpsmama  |  November 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    @41- I’m sure you remember that in HS the kids aren’t in a single room all day- they switch rooms every period. But yes- there have been times when my kids have had no one supervising them during a particular period or periods. Not sure if the teachers were out the whole day or just my kids’ periods. But it has happened more this year than in past years & not always the same teachers.

  • 43. CarolA  |  November 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Back in my day, they rarely had subs and the kids just got split up amongst all the other classrooms in the school. 2 here, 3 there, that type of thing. We almost had to do that the other day, but then the sped teacher took over. That means the students she normally services didn’t get serviced. I found out today that yesterday one of our bilingual teachers and the RTI ( reading intervention) teacher had to sub so their classes got cancelled…..again.

  • 44. seen it all...  |  November 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    At my school the AP subs so the sped teachers are not shut down….

  • 45. CPSer  |  November 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    CSPO: A slight tangent – do you know what criteria is used to determine whether a school is “underutilized”? Do they average enrollment across grades? Look at buildling capacity versus total student body? What about schools with over enrolled younger grades and under enrolled upper grades?
    Thanks for any info.

  • 46. Paul  |  November 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    @45 CPSer. Underutilized is defined as School Enrollment less than the lower end of the Enrollment Efficiency Range. Enrollment Efficiency Range is Ideal Enrollment less 20% through Ideal Enrollment plus 20%. Ideal Program Enrollment equals the number of Allotted Homeroom Classrooms multipled by 30 and represents the school’s ideal enrollment when the instructional program is best aligned to the physical capacity of the facility. Homeroom Classrooms refers to the number of allotted classroom spaces required for homeroom use. Classroom spaces are those spaces designed to be used as classrooms regardless of current use, including science labs, art rooms, resource rooms, and special education rooms, but excluding spaces not designed as classrooms, such as offices, lunchrooms, libraries, gymnasia, and auditoria.

    It’s really pretty simple.

  • 47. Paul  |  November 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    It would be interesting to explore how reducing class size would affect the number of schools considered underutilized. That’s one area where I could see BBB and the mayor gaining widespread support for school closings and consolidations. If they could couple their plan for school closings with a plan for reducing class sizes across the board, I think a lot of people would jump on board. Of course, it would cost a lot of money. But, it could be one of those mayoral talking points. “I extended the school day and year, closed underutilized schools, and reduced class sizes across the board.” Instant 4 more years.

  • 48. Logan Dad  |  November 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I think BBB’s “community involvement” strategy is commendable but I’m confident that it won’t diminish the anguish and unhappiness caused by the impending school closings. Downsizing is rough and the people affected tend to feel pretty bad (both in the public and private sector).

    I expect that the CTU will turn this into an all out war, given that they are likely to lose a significant percentage of their membership and the revenue that this membership represents. Additionally, it’s possible that CTU will be losing some of Karen Lewis’ most ardent supporters as one of her platforms was that no teachers (especially from underperforming schools) would be fired.

    While recognizing the inherent difficulty that these closings will cause, I hope that CPS uses this opportunity to Go Big and make the type of changes that can lead to a better, leaner, higher-performing school system for the future. Losing 100 crumbling buildings and a large group of poorly performing employees will lead to a tangible increase in learning, a significant budget savings and a better return on resources.

    And, I think it’s a good step toward running a school system for the kids in the system and not the adults in the system.

  • 49. local  |  November 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Don’t the teachers just follow the kids? Or, does CPS just add the displaced kids into existing classroom to increase class size in the receiving school? I’m not clear on how closing schools is going to greatly cut the number of teachers needed.

  • 50. local  |  November 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    “Losing buildings”? — How will CPS lose these buildings? Sell them. I think CPS is stuck with them.

  • 51. local  |  November 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    “poorly performing employees”


  • 52. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    #48~Logan Dad~I don’t know abt the CTU making this an all out war (so don’t start blaming Karen Lewis), but I know many CPS parents will start a war~who don’t want there kids crossing gang lines, who don’t want their kids to go to another low level 3 schools, who are tired of never being a part of the community involvement w/the schools~just told afterward. Many CPS parents, the real stakeholders, are sick of being lied to. B3 has already shown herself w/asking for until March for the list of schools. Follow the law B3 of Dec1 or wait til next yr!

    #49~local~there won’t be enough room for teachers in the low level 3 schools where they will ship the kids~so the classes will get bigger and then they’ll open charters.

  • 53. CarolA  |  November 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Logan Dad: Are you saying the the teachers in the 100 crumbling buildings are mainly poor performing teachers? If so, where did you get that data? What strategies are those teachers using (or not using) or are you strictly going by posted test results? Again, we go back to the discussion of how much value should be given test results given there are many variables that affect student learning. I’m sure there are some poorly performing teachers, but to say a large group….how do you back that statement up? Please share.

  • 54. local  |  November 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm


    Districts using social media to reach parents

  • 55. CPS Parent  |  November 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    I’m pretty sure the new CTU CPS CBA specifies that teachers from consolidated schools “follow” students to their new schools. There should be no significant loss in CTU membership. Can a CTU member confirm?

    The savings will come from increased efficiency of administrative and non-teaching staff. Probably at least 500k per school per year plus another 300k-400k or so in other savings related to the building I think. It would be great if half of that is spent on an increase in teaching staff or (even better in my opinion) wrap around services staff.

    As far as this “gang lines” thing goes – if it’s reality call in the national guard or Father Phleger he’s good at fixing that stuff but let’s not cave in to that.

  • 56. cpsobsessed  |  November 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Interesting little tidbit of uprising against school reform. (Article isn’t that interesting) but a teacher in Indiana, lead by a grassroots effort has unseated the state education superintendent who was reform-oriented (charters, vouchers.)


  • 57. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    #55~CPS Parent~the ‘gang lines thing’ is a very real problem. Why do you think crime was down during the CTU strike? Kids weren’t crossing gang lines. You can research this. Rahm said he plans to look carefully along w/B3 about this.

  • 58. CarolA  |  November 8, 2012 at 7:25 am

    local: I think schools MUST get on board with social media. The article you linked was a good one. CPS currently has the parent portal for parent updates regarding grades. My school has a school website where all teachers keep their own websites up to date. We also post nightly homework with more clarity for parents because the little ones sometimes copy it wrong or don’t convey the right message. Parents can email at anytime. With the new google email system, teachers can get the personal emails of parents, create a classroom group list, and send mass emails with pertinent information anytime. As stated in the article, there is a problem with some parent groups regarding lack of access to technology and bilingual issues. For the last two years, our school has been offering classes for Hispanic parents twice a week after school to learn how to understand and speak English in order to help their children with homework. I think it’s fantastic. This is an era of change!

  • 59. cpsobsessed  |  November 8, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Was thinking about the dec 31 deadline. That too is past the cps application date for non-charter schools, so isn’t it true that either way, parents need to be casting a wide net of backups? (if that is important to them.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 60. RL Julia  |  November 8, 2012 at 11:24 am

    CarolA – the internet is a wonderful thing however at my neighborhood school, only about 20% of the parents had a internet-linked computer at home (and thus more regular access). This digital (nevermind liguistic) divide ultimately makes it really hard to move the system forward. I would love to see CPS ultimately look at pushing information out through cell phones (which more people seem to have). This divide is a really one – both of my kids are really dependent on the internet to get important school inforamtion – whether it be to check grades, see assignments, complete assignments etc… Most of their teachers expect them to e-mail final copies of their work as well as turn in a hard copy. Without (easy) internet access all of this becomes onerous.

  • 61. PatientCPSMom  |  November 8, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I would like to suggest delaying the decision to announce school closings seems awfully political and not that productive. For areas like mine (Near North) where a neighborhood school like Jenner is allowed to be on probation year after year, the idea of delaying the decision to act seems outrageous. Residents and Aldermen in this area (Burnett, Smith (Vi Daley prior), and o’Reilly) know this issue must be addressed.

    Yes, the Near North area needs a comprehensive plan for addressing education in this area, but honestly this issue has been here since the transformation plan started 10 years ago. If BBB’s administration needs months to access that River North needs to have a functional neighborhood school I question if this administration is fit for the task at hand. Why does CPS and the Board of Education need more time to ask people what they already know and that is.. “EVERY parent regardless of their race wants their child to have a safe school that provides quality education”. Not a Tier 3 school!

    BBB please stop the pandering to politics and make the recommendations now, so parents will still have time to apply to other schools before the mid-December deadline.

    CPS mom who drives 30 miles a day to send my child to a quality CPS lottery school.

  • 62. IBobsessed  |  November 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    @60 RL Julia, completely agree. With a 90+ percent poverty rate, a substantial number of CPS parents do not have home internet access. Nor is it practical for them to ferry their student to the local library to email an assignment the night before it’s due. The fact that some (SE/some northside neighborhood?) schools can get away with requiring home internet use is a testament to the economic class of most of the students there (not below lower middle class).

  • 63. RL Julia  |  November 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    IB Obsessed – exactly – however to be fair, if we expect our collective children to be prepared for higher education and/or the workforce in general, they absolutely MUST be computer literate/familiar in a way that a few hours at a computer over the course of a school week is not going to achieve. This need starts in the later grades of elementary school and carries on into high school.

    It definitely puts schools in a bind – but it also one of those parenting priorities that needs to be communicated as well – in that internet access is somewhat of a must have – (unlike cable which costs at least as much per month). To school’s credit, I have seen them publicize to parents opportunities to purchase computers at low cost. In terms of the SEHS’s requirement etc… well those schools are exclusive to begin with – at least they are communicating their expectations of what is necessary for those students to achieve in this century’s work force and places of higher education (who aren’t going to much care that you couldn’t afford the internet as much as they are going to care that you are computer illiterate).

    I tell ya, there’s no winning sometimes….

  • 64. HS Mom  |  November 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    @60 – interesting, 20% sounds really low. I recently read an article about a young homeless woman who said that she lived by her computer and that even people who slept on park benches were on line. Not sure at what level of poverty this becomes a problem. I can see that stuck late at night trying to complete homework and needing the internet would be a real obstacle.

    It would be interesting to hear from someone that does not have internet access as to how they deal with technology and schooling – of course they would not likely be reading this.

    Internet postings and web announcements as it impacts education are critical and not just the future but here now.

  • 65. cpsobsessed  |  November 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Regarding email and internet, in my son’s class pretty much every night one kid forgets their homework sheet and another parent emails the group and someone scans it for them.

    That certainly gives our kids an edge that many in the city don’t have.

    We also have access to the math book online so the kids don’t have to lug it home (and we don’t have to deal with a forgotten book.)

    But hey, you go, you Tier 1 Kids! You’ll find a way to get it done!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 66. RL Julia  |  November 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    @64 – I am saying 20% because that was the number of parents at the school who listed an e-mail address and/or use the parent portal. It could be higher. This was number is also one or two years ago so perhaps now it is higher….

  • 67. Logan Dad  |  November 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I love the Parent Portal and use it regularly but for the first few years my daughter was in school, we didn’t know it existed. It was a revelation when we figured ti out. I have to think that a significant number of parents from all types of schools aren’t using this resource.

  • 68. IBobsessed  |  November 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I was pleased that our private school(at which 20% get financial aid) was thoughful enough to do a poll of each family in my kid’s grade to make sure they had at least access to a computer before OKing teachers to require submission of essays etc. by email or in google docs. (Everyone did, interestingly. The poorest of the poor are not at privates on FA.)

  • 69. HS Mom  |  November 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    @67 – LD – you get used to it real quick. It’s so much more efficient to track and “rescue” and to have the ability to communicate by e-mail even if it’s to set up a face to face appointment. The old fashioned way of “stalking” the teacher at drop-off was frustrating for all concerned. As the kids get older, they do actually brainstorm back and forth on Facebook for projects and they ask each other questions about the homework. They also go online and look up their own Impact account. Our school has a sizable low income and Spanish speaking group. I think that even if the adults are out of the loop, the kids have gotten so much more savvy and they find a way. It does seem like everyone is on facebook or has a smart phone.

  • 70. CarolA  |  November 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Let’s face it. Technology is here and will be even more so in the future. Whether you can afford it or not, it’s here. Students need to find a way to have access or be left behind. I didn’t grow up with computers. I had to learn or lose my job. Everything with grades and parent connections is now online. It was sink or swim. People better come to terms with it.

  • 71. HP  |  November 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    @Paul: @45 “CPSer. Underutilized is defined as School Enrollment less than the lower end of the Enrollment Efficiency Range. Enrollment Efficiency Range is Ideal Enrollment less 20% through Ideal Enrollment plus 20%. Ideal Program Enrollment equals the number of Allotted Homeroom Classrooms multipled by 30 and represents the school’s ideal enrollment when the instructional program is best aligned to the physical capacity of the facility. Homeroom Classrooms refers to the number of allotted classroom spaces required for homeroom use. Classroom spaces are those spaces designed to be used as classrooms regardless of current use, including science labs, art rooms, resource rooms, and special education rooms, but excluding spaces not designed as classrooms, such as offices, lunchrooms, libraries, gymnasia, and auditorium.
    It’s really pretty simple.”
    Except when you look at the reports. My school shares a building with another school, and CPS says we have the exact same number of classrooms. That is not true. In addition, the “number of allotted homeroom classes” read “N/A” for every school I checked. Finally, within the past two years, two charter high schools opened in my high school’s neighborhood. EVERY high school in our area is considered “underutilized” so one wonders why new schools are opening. It’s the manipulation of data, contradictions of both data and common sense, and changing goalposts (this year high schools’ most important data point is the on-track rate) that make those of us who work in schools so wary of what appears to be simple.

  • 72. CPS Parent  |  November 9, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Comcast offers a $9.95/month internet access rate and sells a $150 laptop meant for free/reduced lunch CPS parents. Computer training is also included and set-up and equipment fees are waived.

    See the program: https://www.internetessentialspartner.com/ProgramOverview.aspx

  • 73. HS Mom  |  November 9, 2012 at 10:50 am

    @72 – This is good to know. Thank goodness there are these programs. My guess – people know about it and use it since on line access does not seem to be a known issue.

  • 74. Paul  |  November 9, 2012 at 10:54 am

    @71 HP. I was joking about it being really simple. I think it’s complicated

    Like all other data, it has to be put into context and reviewed for each case. If you’re talking about high schools, I wonder if there aren’t any allottted homeroom classes. That may just apply to elementary schools.

  • 75. CPS Parent  |  November 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I know that at our SEHS (30% free/reduced lunch) administrators and teachers identify all students who do not have some sort of web access and work with them to overcome that hurdle. About 20% of all parents do not access the electronic grade-book at all.

  • 76. Confused Citizen  |  November 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Funny all BBB’s “straight shooting” talk of money shortages they don’t set up a panel to discuss why she gets 30k in moving expenses when she lives here. ….

    and why her former boss gets 250k plus severance package while students and teachers have to beg for copy paper and students have to use Dell 2000 computers ?

  • 77. EdgewaterMom  |  November 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I know that this question does not directly relate to this post, but I am not sure where else to ask. Is there a list of the 82 principals that received the new “Principal Performance Pay” bonus? CPS released a press release about the award, but I never saw a list of recipients.

  • 78. EdgewaterMom  |  November 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    I guess I posted too soon! I swear I searched before and found several articles, but none with a list. Here is one that includes a list. http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=3734

  • 79. EdgewaterMom  |  November 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I was really surprised to see several SE principals on the list – Decatur, Northside College Prep, and Whitney Young, and also magnets such as LaSalle.

    I was very happy to see Senn’s principal Susan Lofton on the list! She has really made some significant changes at Senn and the scores are being to show it (they still have a long way to go, but they are really moving in the right direction).

  • 80. local  |  November 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Now I understand. Take a read of this: http://www.chicagonow.com/district-299-chicago-public-schools-blog/2012/11/always-be-closing/#image/1

  • 81. Northside Teacher  |  November 12, 2012 at 11:09 am

    honestly what input will they accept????????

  • 82. junior  |  November 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Nate Silver just said he is interested in turning his attention to the area of education.

    “One of the next fields Silver said he’d like to get into is education because he feels that all the data being generated “is not being used in the best way.” (HuffPo)

    Many people already thinking the same thing…


  • 83. EdgewaterMom  |  November 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I would LOVE to see Nate Silver get involved in Education! Somebody needs to make sense of the data, and so far nobody seems to be able to.

  • 84. junior  |  November 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    #DrunkNateSilver puts damper on Tier 4 RGC fundraising party by blurting out odds of kids getting into NorthSide.

  • 85. Paul  |  November 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    If CPS proposes to close a charter school because of underperformance or underenrollment, will CTU support that or fight against it?

  • 86. cpsobsessed  |  November 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Was wondering the same Paul – the argument by CTU has been for consistency in kids’ lives and the kids (not the school) driving low performance.
    I’d also be curious to see parents’ reactions at the school. They may still like the school culture.
    As we know, what creates school success or failure is nebulous (aside from socioeconomic level.). It would be interesting to see some kind of report that concludes WHY a certain charter wasn’t working.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 87. Confused Citizen  |  November 16, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Why would CTU fight to keep a school open that created the chaos in the first place!! It’s like asking for justice for the family that stole your house in the war. CTU wants stable neighborhood schools.

  • 88. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2012 at 1:04 am

    @CC and they want stable neighborhood schools because….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 89. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2012 at 1:10 am

    As I think about the charter thing, it’s disruptive no matter what when a school closes. To my point about figuring out what’s not working at a school I guess I don’t like this defeatist attitude entirely. There seems to be no effort to figure out how to improve the low performing schools. Just the desire to shut them. On the other hand, why should cps figure out how fix a charter?
    Just seems like somebody should be keeping track of what worked and what didn’t in the schools…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 90. RL Julia  |  November 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Its seems a little weird that you might have a whole neighborhood that doesn’t “work” (i.e. high crime, high poverty, high incidence of health issues, access to services etc…) and that CPS keeps closing the schools because they don’t “work” – as if education happens in isolation.

  • 91. Paul  |  November 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Each school has a story, and I’d be interested to hear them for these “failing” or “underenrolled” schools that may be targeted for closing. The history of the school and the context of its community and neighborhood have to be taken into account. Why is it failing or underenrolled? What has CPS, the community, or the neighborhood done to try and turn it around? Why hasn’t that worked? What are the alternatives? What do the parents want? What has worked in other similar situations?

  • 92. HS Mom  |  November 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

    @89 – “why should cps figure out how fix a charter?”

    my understanding is that charters are part of CPS.

    Also to your point about fixing schools (performance wise) – yes always preferred. This seems to be about consolidations, cost of operations and part of an attempt to eliminate deficit spending. I hope and assume that CPS is considering the age of some of these buildings that lack A/C and the ability to house the growing use of technology (amongst other things).

  • 93. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I think the trouble is that even if some of these schools could change course, there are still some huge inefficiencies going on because of the population declines in some parts of the city.

    In a district with sparse resources, it doesn’t make sense to maintain so many underutilized schools.
    Speaking of, has anyone heard more on how/when schools targeted for closing will be announced as part of this community initiative. I emailed cps but did not hear back. I’ll follow up…

    I’d love to make a documentary film about this process. Well – if I were indep wealthy and knew one iota about film-making…..

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 94. HS Mom  |  November 16, 2012 at 11:02 am

    @91 – yes Paul, I agree. What does the community want? What are the options? What makes sense both money wise, logistically and elevate the level of learning?

  • 95. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I guess the question about whether CPS should help charter schools is – if they’re going to help a school figure out how to do things well, why can’t they just “figure it out” for some of the failing neighborhood schools?

    As for what parents think, my understanding is that parents in the crummiest neighborhood schools feel like CPS is failing them. I believe some may even think it is being done intentionally — that certain segments of the population are low priority in terms of effort, resources, etc. Assuming this mindset is true, you can see why parents are mad that a school is shut down. They feel that CPS never tried to give them a good school, then CPS comes and shuts their school down, requiring uprooting of all the kids and traveling to other neighborhoods. Which is why it would make a good documentary. Because this is going to be unpleasant. Add the laid off teachers to the mix and it’s just a very sad situation without an easy solution.

  • 96. HS Mom  |  November 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    CPSO – Interesting point. I would feel a lack of respect and empowerment too if I went to a neighborhood school that depended entirely upon bureaucracy. Without strong leadership and involved parent organization, the people at the helm are uninvolved in the day to day.

    Back when I went to CPS (waaay back) it was taken for granted that school boundaries would change to fit the demographic. Of course schools were way overcrowded and there were no closings, but families were subject to change in school assignment. I think the main difference is that quality was pretty interchangeable. Today, we have to cater to gangs, inequities in school quality and structure and the complexity of some kids lacking basic needs educationally and in life while other kids in the same neighborhood have the ability and do excel. These are not easy problems to fix but essential in order to move forward.

  • 97. cps sad teacher  |  November 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Just confront a cps admin. Without any planning…ask them what have you done in the past two years to support a teacher with 35 students who are all in poverty. What programs do you have to support them…ask them who could that teacher call for support outside his school.then wait…wait…..

  • 98. Paul  |  November 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    @95 cpsobsessed, I’d like to see that documentary. I’d like somebody to look into those parents’ thoughts and feelings. Because, there may be some truth there. And, if there is some truth there, that CPS is failing them and making their schools a lower priority, then what should be done about that?

    Should CPS make their school a higher priority? Keep the school open? Expend more effort and spend more resources on the school? Or, close the school down and give the kids opportunities in a “better” school.

    I’m still trying to figure out what I would want done if my kids were in one of those schools. Would I rather the school stay open and CPS invest in it, or would I rather move my kids into a different school?

  • 99. Northside Teacher  |  November 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Really CPS in charge is like when you try to clean the piles in your house…you put some things under the couch, in a drawer…but the mess still exist….why doesnt the state legislature make new laws to FIRST go in and audit cps central offices…see their paperwork, go throgh their files..Try to find one piece of proof that they helped any opf theses schools with lead paint and 80 year old furnaces and bathrooms.

    you think you can fix GM or Ford by first attacking their line workers?? They need to RECONSTIUTE CENTRAL OFFICE FIRST! I am not saying fire the little man…but fire the people in charge, the board…..audit them…call the state legislature to have them speak in PUBLIC why they must blame the schools, the teachers the principals…yet they can’t keep one CEO for more than a year!! THEY NEED THE CLOSURE FIRST!!!In mY ten years at CPS I HAVE NEVER EVERY HAD A CPS ADMIN come in and help me or give me an idea!! Thye just sift through NWEA (whioch is a joke and needs to be audited too), look at their records and pay contractors and close schools…they never speak to the kids.Tribune proved they dont even have a system to monitor truant students!!!

    …ask any CPS ADMIN at the top to name 20 children and 20 teachers Just try it….when a war goes bad to we replace and humiliate the troops first??? NOOO we replace the generals and the President !!!! WITH THE CHOICE OF THE PEOPLE….not a dictator!!!

  • 100. WhatsUP7  |  November 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    99 – I hope you are typing on a small cell phone because your grammar usage is awful.

  • 101. Northside Teacher  |  November 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I agree with you. I wish I could blame my cell. I am actually using an old style desktop. BUTT…….my anger sometimes trumps my anger! Please excuse me!! It’s just very, very frustrating to see how CPS has been blame shifting for years. All the while, they manipulate the state legislature to their whims . It makes me sad! I must sometimes sacrafice my grammar for my passion! For that I am sorry hahhaha!!

  • 102. local  |  November 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Seen at District 299 blog:

    The Geography of School Poverty in Chicago Chicagomag: The first findings of “Apples to Apples,” an independent investigation of Chicago Public Schools(CPS) data released today, reveals 76% of CPS elementary schools examined had entire grades above the recommended class size limit set by CPS in 2011.

  • 103. anonymouse teacher  |  November 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    @96, not sure when you went to CPS, but in the 80’s, CPS was widely regarded as the single most awful urban district in the nation. This was why, when I graduated from teaching college in the 90’s, every single education professor I had personally approached me and begged me to NOT teach in Chicago. All 6 of my professors asked me to consider teaching elsewhere, “anywhere else” in the words of my most respected teacher. CPS as a whole is a much better system than it was 30 years ago, if you can believe that!

  • 104. WendyK  |  November 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

    One thing to note in terms of the formula used for space utilization – CPS doesn’t take into account sped self-contained classrooms, schools that co-locate w/ charters, schools that have community programs using rooms in their building, etc. So the number of 140 schools at 50% or below is kind of misleading. Self-contained sped rooms have much smaller class size but CPS is using the 30 kids per room in their formula. Some schools have whole floors rented out by community orgs – not taken into account. I am not saying some schools aren’t underutilized but I think the numbers are off due to these factors. RYH has most data in one place now for 470 CPS elems – and will help us get a better picture of what’s going in our schools.

  • 105. CPS Parent  |  November 17, 2012 at 10:41 am

    95. cpsobsessed – Regarding your last sentence “Add the laid off teachers to the mix and it’s just a very sad situation without an easy solution.”

    I have not heard CPS say they are changing the teacher to student ratio so why would there be any teacher lay-offs? I believe the CPS/CTU CBA specifies that teachers will follow students in the case of consolidated schools. In the case of a conversion to a charter school teachers are needed for jobs in that school.

    The result either way, is not a loss of teaching positions.

  • 106. cpsobsessed  |  November 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

    @105: Are you saying that every teacher from a closing school will get a position at the new school? (and some schools may split in where the kids go.) In my mind, if you have 2 schools that each have, say 18 kids per class due to low enrollment and you combine those 2 schools there is going to be a net loss in teacher positions. Not by half but I can’t see how they can absorb all the teachers, including possibly 2 gym, music, art teachers, librarian. Principals will be reduced, janitors, clerks, security. I’m not saying it doesn’t need to happen but it seems that clearly jobs will be lost.

    Also, if the plan is to open many more charters, those positions from non-charters have to come from somewhere… no?

  • 107. CarolA  |  November 17, 2012 at 11:08 am

    CPSO: I’ve thought about the teachers from CPS having an option to go to the charters, but not sure if that’s on the table or not. In any case, teachers would have to be willing to give up the union. If it’s a choice between having a job or not having a job, they will probably take the job all things considered. I guess it would depend on the teacher’s age. Near retirement….a lot to give up. Young and new, not as big of a deal.

  • 108. CPS Parent  |  November 17, 2012 at 11:14 am

    106. cpsobsessed As far as I know there are no classrooms (in any significant quantity) with 18 students. The number of teachers assigned to any school (including underutilized) is determined by applied CPS’s formula to the number of students enrolled by September 20th each year – I think that is the date. Regarding charters – those schools need teachers as well in pretty much the same ratio. Any teacher can apply for those jobs including ex CTU teachers.

    Again, unless i’m missing something there will be no net loss of teaching positions. Could a teacher please confirm that it is indeed in the new CBA that teachers from consolidated schools must “follow” students to their new school? I’m almost 100% sure that is the case.

    There WILL be a significant loss of non-teaching positions and that is where the bulk of the savings to CPS will be. Keep in mind that this not one time saving but a on-going since it is all salaries.

  • 109. CPS Parent  |  November 17, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Regarding teachers following students from consolidated schools:

    From the CBA, section B, item 1, (this from a draft copy I found)

    Transfer to receiving schools in school closings and consolidations. Tenured teachers whose most recent rating is in the top two rating categories (i.e., excellent or superior and excellent or proficient) shall be appointed to a vacancy at a school to which students from their school have been assigned to the extent that a vacancy within the teacher’s certification has been created as a result of or in connection with the transfer of students. If more than one teacher is eligible for appointment to the same vacancy, selection for the vacancy shall be based on seniority.

  • 110. cps sad teacher  |  November 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Cps will not allow “satisfactory” teachers to go to new schools if the old one closes. Obviously this sounds like a good thing. Butttt many teachers, not all, have railroaded by corrupt principals who have unjustly lowered their ratings. In fact, if you had 20 years of excellent, then last year got satisfactory……you will never work for cps ever again if your school closes down. Scary stuff considering your life depends, in some cases, on a corrupt principal or you have 37 students

  • 111. cpsobsessed  |  November 17, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Well, I hope you guys are right. It does seem that there are intentions to place teachers but those class size formulas result in some odd distributions of teachers so I feel like at least a few positions could be lost during consolidations. I hope I’m wrong. On the other hand, the business world uses consolidations as a time to let loose underperformers (or of course people being paid a lot.)

    I do think it’s unfair that someone who is let go is basically barred from CPS entirely, correct? Sometimes it may not be a good fit with a certain school/principal.

    I was just talking with a work colleague who is French and she said that the whole country of France is one school system. If you get fired there, you cannot teach anymore at all (although it is the equivalent of a lawyer getting dis-barred… you have to do something pretty bad to be fired.)

    She was also asking me why teachers would choose to work for charters, which pay less and can expect longer hours. I thought that in this economy they get younger people who are willing to do that but for a while, people with aspirations to move up in the organization (charters seem to have more admin positions?) or people who like more of the non-bureacratic spirit of charters. Any other thoughts on this? I was purely speculating.

  • 112. Northside Teacher  |  November 17, 2012 at 11:57 am

    In French terms, per our contract, if you are labeled “satisfactory” and your schools shuts down, or you are let go due to a postion loss, you are barred from CPS forever! And most likely any school. Most teacher applications ask you if you have ever had your contract non-renewed. In other words, a teacher who is given a satisfactory review, will be basically put in the ranks of the teachers who hit kids, etc. It’ really unfair in my opinion, because it relies on the opinion of ONE principal. We had a principal who was basically arrested a few years ago and fired. BUT…her evaluations were still valid!!! Please ask you friend in France to get us some jobs!!!!

  • 113. cpsobsessed  |  November 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Yeah, that is one benefit of the private sector. People get fired and re-hired all the time (I guess the downside being that people get fired/let go more often.) But it’s just part of the business world… people assume you weren’t a good fit there for whatever reason or there was a crazy boss. You don’t get blacklisted.

  • 114. Northside Teacher  |  November 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    and private buisinesses are private. when a principal uses his school like a private business….a line is being crossed

  • 115. Northside Teacher  |  November 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    one more comment and i will try to stop. Private businesses don’t require you to buy or rent a house within six months in a city to meet residency requirements!

  • 116. CPS Parent  |  November 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    110. cps sad teacher, 112. Northside Teacher – There is no such thing as a “satisfactory” rating. The ratings according to the CBA section 39-1.1 (draft copy) are:


    A teacher who receives two consecutive summative “developing” ratings shall be rated unsatisfactory if, in the second year, either his or her teacher practice rating or his or her overall rating does not improve.

  • 117. Northside Teacher  |  November 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    This is not the point of my argument. The problem is when these 100 schools close down, the “Satisfactory/Basic” whatever you want to call them, will bot be eligible for rehire. This is the big problem. In other words, a principal (on human) can destroy the career of an employee at CPS.

    Actually my “practice” reach form has the following. So let’s not mince words. This is not the problem.

    basic (satisfactroy)

    Here is the section that scares me!!! This is about Rehire Pool. ALL PEr CONTRACT

    Section 34 – Notice of Position Closing When a determination is made that a teacher’s services are no longer required at an attendance center or in a program for the reasons described in Section I above, the teacher will be so notified (hereinafter “notice of removal layoff”) twenty-one days in advance of the effective date of layoff, except in the case of 20th day position closing. Section 45 – List of Vacancies Tenured Teachers’ Benefits Upon Layoff A. Teacher Eligibility List. 1. The BOARD with input from the UNION shall create a system by which candidates for hire as teachers are prequalified through hiring screening methods. Prequalified teachers shall include (a) tenured teachers who are laid off for any reason on or after July 1, 2012 whose most recent performance rating was in the top two rating categories (i.e., excellent or superior and excellent or proficient); and (b) new applicants and other teachers who pass uniform pre-screening

    For Closed School Transfer read this

    Tenured teachers laid off due to school actions shall receive the following benefits: 1. Transfer to receiving schools in school closings and consolidations. Tenured teachers whose most recent rating is in the top two rating categories (i.e., excellent or superior and excellent or proficient) shall be appointed to a vacancy at a school to which students from their school have been assigned to the extent that a vacancy within the teacher’s certification has been created as a result of or in connection with the transfer of students. If more than one teacher is eligible for appointment to the same vacancy, selection for the vacancy shall

  • 118. cpsobsessed  |  November 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Is there any way for teachers to fight their evaluation? Isn’t there objective criteria that is evaluated? It seems odd that in a system where it is allegedly so hard to remove a teacher (and a whole CTU-protected process that supposedly costs CPS hundreds of thousands in legal fees) that a principal can so easily ruin a career. Not that I’m saying that it doesn’t happen.

  • 119. OutsideLookingIn  |  November 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I’m not a teacher so forgive my ignorance but…if you are a tenured teacher, that means you’re an experienced teacher, correct? It isn’t your first year of teaching or even your second.

    If you’ve been teaching the fifth grade at X elementary for 10 years and you get a “developing” rating, or “basic” rating, that’s a pretty bad sign.

    In the private sector, if you get a “satisfactory” rating, the writing is on the wall that you are about to be let go or demoted.

  • 120. Northside Teacher  |  November 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    yes of course…but are we sure the principals are honest. also border line teachers between proficient/satisfactory could go down a rating due to bad student scores. if you read the tribune cps has a huge problem with truancy. a few truant students who score low on progress on your roster, and you are done. tenure is a name only. tenure doesnt really exist. sb7 law and new contract got what the scott walkers of the world wanted….teachers are basically one step above at will. if your child is a low performer, or not very attentive, teachers will not want them in their class, because they will affect their reviews. in order to be “excellent” a classroom must be “self managed” by students. read teh reach evaluation system. it’s scary

  • 121. OutsideLookingIn  |  November 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I see your point. Personally I have a third grade child with a perfect attendance record who just learned how to read after intense work with a learning disability specialist. Test scores this year will not reflect how hard my kid is working. But teachers aren’t evaluated only on student test scores, nor should they. Rather than shun the kids who struggle, I would hope a good teacher would try to find a way to help them. Does anyone go into teaching because they think it will be easy? If they do, they probably skedaddle after a few months.

  • 122. teachy  |  November 17, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Of course we will try to help your child. But think of this. You, as a teacher, have a family. You are told you can chose between a A-studious children who always attend school, or B-a child who struggles with reading but comes to school a lot but still can’t advance, or C – a child who struggles with reading and never comes misses a lot of school. Part of your evaluation depends on children scoring higher every year. If you are a single income earner with a family, are you going to risk your family for the love of children and the challenge? I doubt it.

    Our laws and contract are turning schools into a swim with the sharks world. Teachers are competing with each other now. At some point, they will stop sharing their tricks of their trade, if they think it will give another teacher a higher rating. Because when lay offs come, every teacher will need the highest rating to survive. I don’t find this to be a world of education I imagine parents want. Good teachers don’t want to shun any child. But, when your job depends on your rating, why would you risk taking on a challenged student or putting more time than is necessary you might even write them off into a holding pattern…..its very very sad.

    It has taken the idea of a community schools and turned into a building of 35 independent contractors. If things don’t change soon, could be the reality. This year, Reach evaluations are still only practice. BUT WAIT until they become the law of the land next year. Teachers will be scratching and brownnosing their way to a good review. Unfortunately, sometimes leaving a few kids behind in order to ensure good value added scores…will become the norm. If you think this sounds cruel, remember teachers also need to pay their rent.

  • 123. anonymous  |  November 18, 2012 at 1:11 am


  • 124. anonymous  |  November 18, 2012 at 1:13 am

    I recently attended a PD on Domain 2 (out of four domains) of the CPS version of Charlotte Danielson’s framework for evaluating teachers….daunting does not even begin to describe it. No teacher can receive the highest rating if the principal rates according to its components. It’s just hard to believe…check it out yourself on the CPS Knowledge Center. They are making the job impossible. My favorite take-away was that for a teacher to be considered “distinguished,” the class must in essence run itself without corrections or verbal reminders of any kind from the teachers to the students. There must be no student misbehavior. The highest rating a teacher can get if he or she responds well to students’ misbehavior (or any other issues of classroom discipline) is “proficient.” If there is misbehavior, you see, even talking out of turn, or any acts of unkindness or really anything other than student perfection, the teacher is considered not to have set up the optimal conditions for student learning.

  • 125. cpsemployee  |  November 18, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Evaluating under this new model takes so much time that a principal can’t do anything else! Pre-conference, observation, post-conference, typing everything up, entering everything into DS2… It takes my principal almost 4 hours to complete all the components!

  • 126. anonymous  |  November 18, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I know. It’s ridiculous. So much “quantifying”, so much “evidence” required…

    I don’t think that it is good for the teaching profession to utilize a rating system for teachers that makes it impossible for them to receive the highest rating, which CPS is deeming “aspirational.” The Danielson framework is not a good tool. It is demoralizing. I think it’s as if we never, ever gave students an “A” on their report cards because to receive an “A”, a student must be perfect. Who are we kidding?

    I will eat my shoe if principals are able to fulfill all of the requirements to implement this rating system. And I’ll eat the other shoe if the Danielson-based rating system sticks around for more than a couple of years, at least in this un-doable, unattainable form.

  • 127. local  |  November 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    A comment at District 299 blog: “Please report current class sizes confidentially to the Raise Your Hand Class Size Hotline 872-222-SIZE. Data received will be aggregated and published. Thank you.”

  • 128. puleease  |  November 18, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    now there’s a way of getting accurate data

  • 129. JMOChicago  |  November 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Well, it may or may not be accurate as reported, but it will give us a better indication of which schools to investigate. Thus far, we have been in conversation (over Twitter) with CPS’ Director of Demographics and Planning over some of the initial reports. And we are planning to follow up with those schools where class sizes are reported over the CPS limits. (At this point, the potential “wow” number was 47 students in one kindergarten at Mayo Elementary, because a teacher left 2 months ago and has not been replaced. 42 students in a K class at Prussing, and 40+ 7th grade students meeting in a multi-purpose auditorium at South Loop. We’ll circle back around to those schools to check them out.)

  • 130. anonymouse teacher  |  November 21, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    I actually really like Danielson’s framework. However, I do agree that this system can’t possibly last. We have half or more of our staff who are non-tenured. Our principal must observe each of those 25 teachers 4 times this year. With the pre and post conferences taking nearly an hour together and another hour of observation time, that’s 8 hours per teacher and that doesn’t include the hours and hours principals must spend uploading data and other paperwork requirements. That also doesn’t include the observations of the tenured teachers.
    Plus, now that we have recess (which is a great thing and hopefully over the years will resolve itself), our disciplinary issues that we expected to drop due to recess have skyrocketed in frequency and severity. There’s been a nearly 400% increase in discipline referrals due to behaviors on the playground. So this means our principals spend way more time calling parents, dealing with fights and injuries.
    So not sure how, humanly, the framework will be doable.

  • 131. anonymous  |  November 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    @ anonymouse: Why do you like the Danielson framework?

  • 132. OutsideLookingIn  |  November 21, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    @anonymouse – interesting side effect of recess.

  • 133. anonymouse teacher  |  November 22, 2012 at 12:05 am

    @131, it has lead to more meaningful discussions regarding instruction and it helps me think through, in even more detailed ways, how to improve my instruction.

  • 134. north loop  |  November 22, 2012 at 12:57 am

    133 can you tell me how I can implement these with 39 kids who have about 80 attendance rate??

    “Students assume responsibility for high quality work by persevering, initiating improvements, making revisions, adding detail and/or helping peers”

    “Teacher continually and purposefully gathers information from several sources about individual students’ backgrounds, cultures, prior knowledge, skills, language proficiencies, interests, and special needs”

    “Students take an active role in monitoring their own behavior and that of other students against standards of conduct. Teacher’s monitoring of student behavior is subtle and preventive.”

  • 135. anonymouse teacher  |  November 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

    @134, you are teaching in an impossible situation and for you, issues of gross negligence on the part of CPS, and quite honestly, the entire city of Chicago that allows such class sizes, needs to be addressed first. But that doesn’t mean that Danielson is a bad evaluation system. It means you work for a system that is horrible. I work for the same system and got lucky with a reasonable class size. (I’d quit if I had 39, walk my class over to the office, turn in my keys, sign out and walk away with no notice. 39 is not doable by any stretch of anyone’s imagination) I feel sorry for you and I hope you are able to go elsewhere. I, too, am always looking for another district to teach for but it has nothing to do with Danielson.

  • 136. OutsideLookingIn  |  November 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Out of curiosity, I have a personal question for the CPS teachers posting on this blog:

    What was the number one reason why you first began teaching in CPS, as opposed to a suburban district or a private school?

    And a follow up hypothetical question: knowing what you do now, would you still make that same choice? If not, what would you do differently?

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  • 137. anonymouse teacher  |  November 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    @136, I came to CPS from a prestigious north suburban system that I left out of choice. I felt strongly that I wanted to make a difference and also, I had difficulty with the teaching staff at this former school who wore fur coats out to recess duty when I knew that a small portion of our student body was struggling to find work and food to eat. The arrogance of the staff was appalling to me. I wanted to work with poverty level, ESL kids who truly needed me, not a system that could replace me in a heartbeat with 1000 other candidates I had beaten out for the job. I constantly felt that I had to be grateful to work there, and honestly, that pissed me off.

    So, I took the CPS job. I LOVED and LOVE the kids and I mean LOVE them, especially in the school I am in now. I can’t remember if I said this before, but I seriously wake up in the night sometimes because I am so excited to go to work the next day. But CPS as a system, I have found, is not sustainable. There are far too many policies that I must follow that I strongly believe are truly detrimental to children. I would not have left the system I worked in for CPS. I would have looked for a smaller, less well known, less arrogant district, in the suburbs. Maybe in the south suburbs.

    At the same time, and this may sound strange given all I just said, I kind of love my current school. I have grown to love my principal. My colleagues are the most hard working, sacrificial, caring, competent, professional group of people (with a few exceptions) I have ever met. My students are amazing and seriously are my dream class. I have felt like our administration has done everything in their power to protect us from central office and as well, we have a network chief that is actually pretty good. I feel like finally, I am kind of in a functional school (within a totally dysfunctional district) where my admin is grateful to have me on staff and fully appreciates me and mutually, I am grateful to work for my principal. I will be so sad to leave when the opportunity arises.

    But no, I would not have made the same decision again (to come to Chicago) and I would strongly discourage anyone from teaching in CPS. If you want to teach, and I mean teach in the sense of what is good for kids and best practice, the system will not help you do that in Chicago.

  • 138. north loop  |  November 23, 2012 at 12:38 am

    it isn’t about danielson….it’s about the one size fits all mentality of cps. its the fact that they give a 250k severence pay to a man who was unfit to do his job, but now blacklist teachers who are put under impossible situations that are outlined in the CPS version of Danielson. It’s more like when overly relgious people use the bible as their law. The sad thing is that it was written as a way for teachers to improve, but not as a one year do or die evaluation document. That’s what upsets me about it. Often people like Danielson write these goals with their own well run schools in mind. No where in the document does she account for class size or outside pressures. I have heard she didn’t want CPS to use it.

    Thank god it’s only being used as practice this year…but wait until next year…it’s going to drive teachers and principals nuts.

    What angers me the most is most principals never achieved what that document asks for themselves…….

  • 139. CarolA  |  November 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Getting a teaching job, in my opinion, boils down to two things. You either have to be in the exact right place at the exact right time or know someone. It’s more likely than not, that you know someone or know someone who knows someone. When I first started teaching, I didn’t even apply to CPS. I knew they could send you anywhere they wanted and it most likely wasn’t going to be a good situation. I didn’t want to do that. I went to the suburbs. I substitute taught until I got hired as a full-time teacher/assistant in Park Ridge. I taught third and fourth grade reading and math in the mornings, then did aide work in the afternoon. It was cheap for them and I was hoping to get my foot in the door. At the end of that year, the school closed due to low enrollment. I was way down on the totem pole so didn’t get rehired in the system. Only about one third of the teachers did get rehired somewhere else in Park Ridge. That school was then torn down. I went to Franklin Park to substitute. I was employed as a sub every day. One principal in particular took a special liking to me and wanted to hire me on as a full time teacher. I went through the process and went to the final interview. It was down to two of us. I didn’t get it. The principal told me he was so mad because the superintendent hired his neighbor’s daughter. I later found out she was awful and had to be fired. In any case, I got disgusted and left teaching altogether. After many years in the private sector, making great money and better benefits, I discovered I really missed teaching. So, when my daughter started school, I started substitute teaching at her school. One thing led to another. By that time, principals could hire for their own school and I was hired. I’ve been there over 24 years and have experienced 5 principals during that time. I got lucky. I’m in a great school. I also have the benefit of working very close to my home. Everything in life has it’s pros and cons. I choose to deal with some things in exchange for other perks. Also, a lot of wisdom comes with age. I’ve learned to let a lot of stuff go. You have to do that in order to survive in CPS. The sad truth is the new evaluation system. I’m going to take a “wait and see” attitude on it. I can’t imagine myself being in trouble with it. I don’t expect to get the highest rating because it’s next to impossible. But I think I’ll survive the cut. However, I can see where very good teachers could lose their jobs through no fault of their own. As usual, there are loop holes.

  • 140. north loop  |  November 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    You sound like a very level headed person. I think my problem is I am too emotional! I always say I take 50 percent of the problems in the room…the other I give to my principal and CPS and the parents. Unfortnuately, none of them are being evaluated as closely as a teacher. I am actualy thinking of leaving teaching to teach english to adults or go to another country…even though I have a family, I get depresed getting feed back that tells me my mini lesson went two minutes over or that my students are self regulating…this puts me in the second to lowest tear, and that is a death sentence in todays cps. its unfair…but i guess as long as i keep getting my deposit in my account and do my best for my kids…what can i do…..but i am tempted to tell my principal, even though she would probably flip….but i always like the bible comment

    5 You are not true to yourselves! First take the stick out of your own eye. Then you will be able to see to take the dust out of your brother’s eye

  • 141. local  |  November 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Now would be a good time to read Catch-22, methinks.

  • 142. West Loop  |  November 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    CPS is more like Kafka the Trial in their dealings with children and parents

  • 143. unknown teacher  |  December 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Just wondering… Did anyone notice the back of their school/child’s report card listing the surrounding schools and corresponding levels? I found it to be very interesting, in our area many of the former Tier 1 schools such as Ray, Beasley, are now Level 2. This should have given pause w/ those at CPS Central regarding their “strategy” but it didn’t. Neither did anyone question the process of developing Phillips only to make it and Kenwood receiving schools for Dyett’s students.
    It’s almost as if we have zero leaders who are thinkers. Very upsetting and annoying,

  • 144. cpsobsessed  |  December 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    On ours (north side surrounding irving park/damen) I was actually surprised to see that most are now level 1 — some that I wouldn’t have guessed.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 145. local  |  December 1, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    What are “levels” among schools? Like grades for performance.

  • 146. cpsobsessed  |  December 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Cps has started a rating system of 1,2, 3 (1 is highest.) If you click on any cps map on the main site cps.edu or a school profile page you’ll see the ranking. I think it is comprised of growth, performance (isats?) And ratings for school culture and climate.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 147. cps sad teacher  |  December 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Cps itself must be a 4

  • 148. Rachel K  |  December 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I’m curious – did anyone on this blog attend the meeting last night at Salem Baptist Church (House of Hope) beside myself? What were your impressions – about the community’s response, the panel’s responses, etc?

  • 149. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 11:10 am

    @Rachel, I was not but here is an article about it. Can you share your thoughts? Are you in a school that may be affected?


    This is a horrible topic. CPS can’t afford to keep schools open if they aren’t efficient, but reading these parents’ comments and concerns (in the article) is so upsetting.

  • 150. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Well, the article claims that no actual list exists yet. Mhm.
    Wouldn’t it be more efficient for schools to know their targeted so they can make their case?

    “Clark, also a Rahm Emanuel appointee to McCormick Place, told the crowd that no list exists of schools slated for shuttering. “

  • 151. Jeanne Marie Olson (@JMOChicago)  |  December 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    If the numbers are relatively consistent with last year, you can get a general idea of which elementary schools may be on the list by checking the most recent Apples to Apples Dataset Release. https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?docid=1DmDSutFHl4-6N30emB2her4tVb9bYfM6SjqOGzk Easiest to see it as visualized by Open City’s Josh Kalov: http://cpsutilization.kalov.net/

  • 152. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks Jeanne, this is really a great visual.


    Anyone looking at it, note that you have 2 options – using 30 kids/class as the standard, or 25 per class.

  • 153. Rachel K  |  December 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I was there last night and although there was a small group of parents and community leaders, they made up for the lack of numbers in their passion and anger. This was a group of frightened and angry people who clearly mistrust CPS and the Mayor. That said, I made some observations:
    • There was low turnout because the information was not widely distributed. Many of the people there last night said that there was no mention on the CPS website and they were not aware of any Commission websites – there is one but it was not widely known.
    • There was much emotional connection to a number of these schools and I believe that is what’s driving the push to keep them open, regardless of whether or not they are effectively serving the students.
    • There are several smaller schools that feel like they are being steamrolled by the process. That no one knows about their quiet successes and that underutilization will be the excuse to close them to make way for charters.
    • There is an overriding view that charter schools are the devil. Period. And that anyone who suggests the introduction of charter schools is helping to destroy their neighborhoods.
    • The commission does not include community members, leading to the mistrust of their motives. Multiple questions were asked about financial interests in the process. The belief was that if you didn’t have skin in the game (child in CPS school, financial gain, etc.), why are you here?
    • That the Mayor’s office and the commission are working in cahoots to privatize education and make money off of predominately black and brown children.
    • That there was a list in existence, despite repeated denials by Mr. Clark that there isn’t and that the December 1st deadline date was clearly misunderstood by the community.
    • A community rep spoke of efforts to elect a school board as opposed to the current process of appointment.
    • Concerns regarding the entire process of review – how do they define underutilization, is this an excuse to then go after underperforming neighborhood schools and turn into charters, who makes final recommendations and decisions, etc.
    • Safety concerns, citing the Fenger High School incident and various gang territory issues.
    I could continue but you get the drift. It was explained at the beginning of the meeting that each person got 3 minutes and the mic would automatically cut off, yet each speaker refused to release the mic until they were done. And many more were disappointed that they were not able to speak.
    This process is going to be a nightmare. And if any parents think that they are safe because their children attend schools safe from the chopping block (like me), you are sadly mistaken. The future effects of these decisions are going to be a tidal wave. Depending where you stand on this issue, it may be a great thing or it may be a disaster. But, by taking the temperature of the room last night, it’s a powder keg waiting to happen.
    Sorry for the long post, but there was really no way to leave anything out.

  • 154. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Wow, thanks Rachel. That is really interesting. And depressing. Great info – definitely the kind of stuff that isn’t reported in newspaper articles so it’s great insight.

    Interesting about the charter school perception since it’s always positioned that people are clamoring for the charters.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 155. Paul  |  December 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Just read through the Apples-to-Apples report from Raise Your Hand, and I think it makes a good point. CPS is overstating the number of underutilized schools and understating the number of overcrowded schools. It does this by taking the maximum class size number (30) and considering it the ideal class size when calculating whether a school is underutilized or overcrowded. When a more reasonable number is considered ideal (25) and the numbers are run, you get a lot more overcrowded schools and fewer underutilized schools.

    Nevertheless, RYH’s more reasonable approach still results in 38 percent of schools underutilized, 31 percent efficiently utilized, and 31 percent overcrowded. I suggest that CPS use RYH’s numbers instead of their own when identifying schools for action. I also suggest that CPS develop a plan for addressing overcrowded schools. My guess is that’s where the charters come in.

    In my opinion, there are clearly some underutilized schools that should be closed or consolidated. And, there are clearly some overcrowded schools that should be relieved. But, an across-the-board reduction in class size would be a great improvement for the school district overall. The maximum class size listed in the CTU/CPS contract could stay the same, but the ideal class size listed in the school utilization reports should be reduced from 30 to 25 in line with the RYH report. It’s still 4 students higher than the average class size for Illinois (21).

    The major problem with making this change is that CPS would likely have to change the teacher quota allocation system resulting in more teachers in each schools, which of course costs a lot of money. But, in a school system with declining enrollment, an underutilization problem, and low student outcomes, lowering class sizes would help.

  • 156. Paul  |  December 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    CTU could use this issue to their advantage as well. I think parents would support lower class sizes in CPS. It’s obviously better for teachers. And, I think CTU is on more solid ground with this issue than with the racism, apartheid, and corporate greed allegations.

  • 157. Rachel K  |  December 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I will venture to say that there are plenty of parents who want better choices and if their neighborhood schools are failing, charter schools may be an avenue for them. But, I would steer clear of proclaiming them as the complete answer. The complete mistrust of charters (in this group) seemed to stem from what they see on the news (their words), not from bad first-hand experiences.

    Class size was a recurring topic that came up and there was a CPS rep there who spoke about being a formed teacher & principal who dealt with unreasonable (her words) class sizes. But stated that parents should force prinicpals to follow CPS guidelines for class size. Yes, I know…it sounded like a load to me too. But, believe me – it came multiple times.

    Troubling to me was that fact that some teachers and principals came out to the meeting yet very few of their families were there in support. My thought was…if the school/teacher/principal knew about the meeting, how hard would it have been to have a phone tree or a handout to encourage people to come?

  • 158. Rachel K  |  December 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    **Former teacher

  • 159. local  |  December 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Really great observations (in comments) by Rod Estvan at this Catalyst story on the CTU report: http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2012/11/30/20663/union-goes-offensive-against-charters

  • 160. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    The beauty of that visual having the 25 per class option (has CPS really said this was ideal? I mean yeah, it is… but seem unrealistic in our district) and the 30 per class is that you can see — if a school is crowded with 30 per class, that’s really crowded. If a whole area of the city is underutilized at 25 per class – that is really inefficient.

    I think publicizing these meetings is clearly a big obstacle. Parents don’t necessarily check CPS.edu and unless there are a few community people who are mobilizing people, it’s an uphill battle. My son’s class has a google group and our school has an email message board. I don’t know that every school is as organized, unfortunately.

  • 161. Paul  |  December 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    CPS says 30 per class is ideal for purposes of measuring whether the school is underutilized (20% of ideal). CPS and CTU contract says the maximum per class is generally 27-29 in Kindergarten and primary, and 30–32 in intermediate and upper grades for purposes of allocating teachers and determining if action should be taken to reduce class sizes.

    RYH says that if 30 is the average maximum and less than and greater than 20 percent is the range for underutilization and overcrowded, then 25 should be the ideal, making 30 overcrowded and 20 underutilized.

  • 162. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks Paul. I don’t know if my small brain completely follows, but it sort of makes sense.

    Slight tangent, that Catalyst article about the CTU bashing on Charters said that the chief of Urban Prep is the highest paid chief (this could be on a per-pupil basis, that was unclear.) Is running a school that somehow gets every child (mainly Af-Am) into college worth the salary (likely up in the $200k+ level and likely more than the CPS CEO.) I know that not every child ends up succeeding in college, but isn’t this a significant accomplishment?

  • 163. Paul  |  December 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    It took me awhile, but I think I’m interpreting it correctly. Somebody from RYH could correct me. I think the major issue is that CPS is taking their maximum class size and calling it ideal, when really it should be the maximum.

    Yes, I think if the CEO of a charter is successful, they deserve that kind of pay. If the CEO of CPS was successful like that, I’d say they were underpaid relatively speaking. It’s a huge job, and the decisions they make have major implications for a lot of people.

  • 164. Rachel K  |  December 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I agree as well. I read on Huff Post last week how charters are going to start policing themselves to stop the runaway implementation of charter schools:


    Better late than never I believe. And I am an advocate for charters with the caveat that they are done right. It’s all about choice for families to me. If neighborhood schools have been failing children for decades, they should be shuttered and another approach should be investigated. But, I draw the line at closing schools just to open something just as bad – all for the sake of makig someone downtown (or northside) some money.

    And CEO/Principal pay should be tied to performance IMO. If your school is failing and you receive a hefty salary, what motivation to you have to improve?

  • 165. IBobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    @162 CPO, Yes, and bashing Charter “Chiefs” salaries on a per pupil served basis does not well serve CTUs argument that Charters waste funds/overpay. There are Principals and even APs at non Charter schools who serve fewer students than some Charters and have salaries equivalent to (or more than) than some of the lower Charter salaries cited. For ex N. Lawndale 101k. That is NOT an exorbitant/unjustiable salary based on that charters size.

  • 166. EdgewaterMom  |  December 4, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    @165 I also thought that comparing salaries “per pupil” made very little sense. It really is not an accurate comparison.

  • 167. Paul  |  December 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    FYI: I believe that CPS just released their updated enrollment information for school year 2012-2013. Click “demographics” at this link: http://www.cps.edu/SchoolData/Pages/SchoolData.aspx

  • 168. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Demos of CPS 2012-2013: (Thanks Paul)

    White 36,415 9.0%
    African American 163,595 40.5%
    Native American/Alaskan 1,409 0.3%
    Asian/Pacific Islander (retired) 111 0.03%
    Hispanic 180,274 44.7%
    Multi-Racial 4,310 1.1%
    Asian 13,581 3.4%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 530 0.1%
    Not Available 3236 0.8%

  • 169. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Bilingual (does that mean ELL?) 16%
    SpEd 12%
    Free/Reduced Lunch 85%

  • 170. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Still blows my mind that there are 30,000 kindergarteners in the city. 10% are in charters fyi.

    Really, when 30,000 3rd graders take the ISATs and the written portion is graded, how is that handled? Outsourced to India??

  • 171. anonymouse teacher  |  December 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    @169, I would imagine the category “bilingual” means the number of kids currently enrolled in a bilingual program. Many families prefer not to have their children receiving bilingual services, many kids “year out” of the program and still really need services. My guess? 30-40% of the entire city probably needs either bilingual or ESL services if they were assessed and served properly (and parents could not opt out–I am not saying parents shouldn’t be able to opt out, though).

  • 172. anonymouse teacher  |  December 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I also think, that when considering space issues within schools, it is vital to not only mention the number of children per classroom. We also have to mention how many students are served in hallways, auditoriums, converted closets and old restrooms, or who share a room with the copy machine area.

  • 173. Jeanne Marie Olson (@JMOChicago)  |  December 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Yes, CPS appears to use LEP and bilingual interchangeably in many of the reports I gone over (LEP = Limited English Proficiency).

    For those who are still perplexed, here is a very detailed explanation (with pictures!) of how Apples to Apples arrived at our conclusions about the current Space Utilization formula (I can call it current now because I can confirm that they are using the same formula this year as they used last year. Sigh.)


    In a nutshell, though: Even though CPS says that classrooms over 28 students (for grades K-3) and 31 students (for grades 4-8) are overcrowded, they do not adhere to those class maximums. And their space utilization formula uses 20% ABOVE those class size maximums as the limit before CPS will call a school “overcrowded”.

    This means that a school will only be labeled as “overcrowded” once all of its available homerooms average more than 36 students per room. And a school will be considered “underutilized” even if it has 24 students in all of their homerooms, and 23 in the last homeroom.

    So, either CPS is changing the new allowable classroom size to be 36 students or has an incorrect formula.

    If they use their current formula, that means that they are leaving many SEES and Magnet (and Charter) seats unfilled. For example, Lenart has an ideal enrollment of 420. But only 319 students enrolled. It is very perplexing.

  • 174. JustanotherCPSparent  |  December 4, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Wonderful visual provided by that open city app posted above. However, be careful, some schools are wrong. For example, Edison RGC is listed as underutilized, which isn’t true. A mistake was made in calculating the number of home rooms. That info comes from the 2011 report, and is supposed to be updated. Speaking of RGCs and class size, I was under the impression that K-1 is 28 students, 2-4 is 30, and 5-8 bumps to 32 kids. But who knows?

    What blows my mind in all this is that charters are not listed. Yes, there are underutilized AND under performing charters. (Which is what I thought the benchmark for possible closure was…under utilized + low performance).

    Example: ASPIRA-Haugan (charter) is 32% underutilized and a Level 3 school (lowest level). So, here you have a partially empty, low performing program in a brand new $24 million building. Nothing makes me crazier than the ASPIRA situation. This is also the school that was sued for strip searching female students. Meanwhile, Marshsll middle is something like 45% under enrolled. But Palmer is grossly over enrolled and Edison shares a building that puts little kids in the street for recess.

    ASPIRA has an all around terrible rep and performance record. At their Early College high school campus, a couple of years ago the graduating seniors protested their own graduation!

    There is so much screwiness going on. And that is just in one ward.

  • 175. HSObsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    @173 – Jeanne Marie – Wow, your blog looks great! I’ve bookmarked it and can’t wait to see more. I’m happy to have yet another CPS site to obsess over, and with a focus data, too? Heaven! 🙂

  • 176. Confused Citizen  |  December 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Someone should run a “util; utilization” rate for a some suburbs!!! That would be funny!! They’d have to close half their schools with 19 kids per class. I mean really I have 34 kids , no aide, no curriculum, recess run by volunteers, no textbooks, Dell circa 2000 computers still running…really….have to beg for paper, …what a JOKE

    Children First…..I wouldn’t mind if they had a real plan…but why do they need the extension!! makes my blood boil!!!!

  • 177. Confused Citizen  |  December 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    corrected version

    Someone should run a” utilization” rate for a some suburbs!!! That would be funny!! They’d have to close half their schools with 19 kids per class. I mean really I have 34 kids , no aide, no curriculum, recess run by volunteers, no textbooks, Dell circa 2000 computers still running…really….have to beg for paper, …what a JOKE
    Children First…..I wouldn’t mind if they had a real plan…but why do they need the extension!! Makes my blood boil!!!!

  • 178. Northside Teacher  |  December 4, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Per Suntimes 25 percent of Charters are underutilized…even one a Noble School??? Say what?????

  • 179. EdgewaterMom  |  December 5, 2012 at 1:27 am

    @173 The Apples to Apples project is fascinating. Jeanne Marie, thanks for taking the time to crunch all of those numbers.

    I haven’t had a chance to read through all of it yet, but what I have read is very interesting. I hope that CPS is watching and realizes that it is not going to be so easy to pass off misleading data. 36 children per homeroom should NOT be the standard.

  • 180. JMOChicago  |  December 5, 2012 at 3:53 am

    Thanks all, for your kind comments. It has really been eye-opening to dig into the CPS data and we (IL RYH and I) are hoping to bring you a lot more. Not all CPS schools are listed in this current Apples 2 Apples dataset. I started this project in August, long before strike and school closing talk, and want to compare a set of schools with same attributes. So only schools that have included grades 3-5 in 2011-2012 are in dataset at this time. (So, if a school is only K-4, they are not in here. Or only 6-8, not in here. That’s for a future dataset.)

    In regards to the errors to Edison RGC’s data or ANY data in this data release…all data came from CPS’ own reports. If Edison RGC had an error for 2011-2012, we’ll correct it when Edison RGC corrects their report in order to be true to the data that they are publicly displaying on their own website. But thank you for pointing it out and I put it in my notes. Any errors that are discovered on CPS’ reports are important to us.

    The class size limits that CPS has set can be found in TWO places: CPS Policy Manual Sec 301.2 on Class Size and School Based Budgeting Documents for 2013.

    K-3 = 28 students limit
    4-8 = 31 students limit

    I’ll put the links here, but be aware that these are PDFs and may auto download.



    Good night!

  • 181. anotherchicagoparent  |  December 5, 2012 at 8:53 am

    @170 cpsobsessed I’m not sure how they score the written section of the ISAT, but here is an interesting article on a temporary test scorer hired by Pearson. http://monthlyreview.org/2010/12/01/the-loneliness-of-the-long-distance-test-scorer#.T2aBKOoonlV.twitter

  • 182. Rachel K  |  December 5, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I just saw the list. My daughter’s school – ranked at #5 in the city is on the list for underutilized…and we are bursting at the seams! We were just asking for a larger building to implement a 7&8 grade prep program. Wow!

  • 183. cpsobsessed  |  December 5, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Rachel, any speculation on what could be accounting for that discrepancy?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 184. Rachel K  |  December 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I have no idea. The list states that we are at 71% occupancy. I’m not really worried because we are also listed at 98% for performance and it’s only $5.5M to maintain our building. But, it goes to show that if utilization is the only measure currently being a factor, many more of us are in trouble. This list points to performance being a factor. Common sense.
    That being said, I believe that many schools do need to be closed. But there will be a lot of animosity in minority communities towards northside schools if the over-crowded ones get more resources at the expense of the southside schools underutilized ones.

  • 185. RL Julia  |  December 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Where is the list posted?

  • 186. JMOChicago  |  December 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    @Rachel K: I don’t know the school you are referring to, but if you shoot me an email from the About Page of the Apples2Apples blog, I’ll give you some more information. Your school might not be slated for closing with that performance level, but it may be required to take more students on from a closing school.

  • 187. cpsobsessed  |  December 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    One would hope that schools on the (not yet created) list of underutilized would have someone meet with the school to asses the reality of the numbers.

    I agree – animosity will likely be strong. From the viewpoint of parent living in a semi-vacant area, I’m sure they’re thinking that CPS provided crummy schools for years, many parents vacated, those who couldn’t/didn’t leave are now being punished by having their schools under-funded in terms of repairs over the years and now closing. Adding insult to injury. I was at a meeting held by PURE once and one of the leaders referenced the “miseducation of black kids in this city.” The perception is certainly there.

    Conversely, CPS can’t pay for population shifts in the city by keeping schools open and duplicating costs all over the place.

    And I suppose this is what is causing friction among the Lincoln Elementary area where some parents want a new facility built to accomodate everyone, while some parents feel it’s not right to draw resources out of the cash-strapped school system.

    What to do?

  • 188. Rachel K  |  December 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    #185 – I found the list on http://www.CPS.edu.
    #186 – Our school is Poe Classical and I will shoot you an email.
    #187 – That is exactly what is happening. I saw this morning in Ch 9 morning news that one of the speakers pointed out the population shifts and the effects from the housing crisis.

  • 189. JustanotherCPSparent  |  December 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    188. Rachel K | December 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm:

    “#185 – I found the list on http://www.CPS.edu.”

    Could you please link to the actual list? Or how to find it at cps.edu? I don’t see it. Thank you!

  • 190. cpsobsessed  |  December 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    @181: just read the link about the standardized test scoring. Fascinating! And creepy!

  • 191. Rachel K  |  December 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Sorry. The list can be found at: http://cps.edu/About_CPS/Policies_and_guidelines/Pages/qualityschools.aspx

    SY2012-2013 School Utilization and Enrollment Data found in towards the top half of the page (above the video)

  • 192. anonymouse teacher  |  December 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    @180, it is my understanding that the class size numbers you listed for K-3 being 28 and 4-8 being 31 are only used in terms of funding teachers, not as class size limits per se. As far as I know there aren’t any class size maximums in CPS.
    The 28:1 ratio for K-3 means that CPS look at the total # of kids in K-3 for the entire school, divides it by 28 and then approves that many position numbers (does the same thing by 31 for 4-8) and then looks at the total remainder and funds (maybe) another teacher or half time teacher with any remaining numbers. The principal then decides how many kids to place in each room, to possibly have split grades, etc.
    If 28 is the max in K, then I have a whole lot of friends with rooms at 30-40% OVER the limit. Or am I misunderstanding something here?

  • 193. sad teacher  |  December 6, 2012 at 12:00 am

    my question is….why don’t they just say what schools they are going to close? it’s like asking people on death row if they want to die??? come on!! community input? really…..they probably can’t find their files in their mess……not to be trusted ….not to be trusted!!

    if a school is SO BAD it needs to be closed…..then why don’t they have the guts to say it’s going to be closing?

    they have no plan…just like they have Zero input on curriculum!!! go to their website….half the time their departments haven’t updated their pages in years or months…..the only thing they put out their are PR bits about their ever changing beloved leaders!!

    If the mayor and politicians come to CUT ribbons on new buildings and schools…..then they can come and tell the children to get out of the school. because it is closing…..you think any of those Congressman from Illinois who voted 50-0 or whatever it was to give the extension are going to come help move the kids and teachers out of their schools!!

  • 194. Teacher4321  |  December 6, 2012 at 6:52 am

    @192 I believe there is a formula for building utilization. I also believe it is different than the class size limit. I believe Rod Edsvan has posted about the formula on the 299 blog, but I am not 100% sure.

    He has been very active in this discussion because many of the “underutilized” schools host cluster special education classrooms. Class size for these classes are capped at a certain limit and thus create classrooms that are not at capacity, but legally cannot be at capacity. These students and preschool age students are not included in overall enrollment numbers because their programs are housed at the schools, but technically are not part of the school.

  • 195. HS Mom  |  December 6, 2012 at 9:05 am

    One other thing not reflected in the utilization/performance evaluations is the condition of the actual building/structure. I’m guessing that it may be plausible under certain conditions to relocate entire school bodies to the better building. What does this do to the dynamic. In many ways, I do see where CPS needs more time…..they are really going to be on top of all the data and conditions.

    @194 good point. A private daycare is housed in a middle school that is listed as underutilized. I’m assuming that any rental income that CPS garners from their facilities would need to be considered in the equation. Such decisions may involve moving the school out altogether and leasing the entire building.

  • 196. Anonymous  |  December 6, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Sad Teacher — I could not agree more. CPS is asking for public input on what? We have no idea!

  • 197. JMOChicago  |  December 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    #192–Agreed that the staffing formula is different than the space utilization formula…in fact, they are not aligned which is creating some of the problems.

    CPS dances around the issue of class size (and does it quite well), creating unfulfilled expectations for parents and confusion for educational researchers. For example, when they refer to “maintaining class sizes” in their own press releases and info, what class sizes are they referring to exactly?


    The only references to specific class sizes are in the Section of CPS Policy Manual entitled “Class Size”. (Section 301.2) And while the actual language of the section is a bit vague, they refer to different sets of numbers there in reference to class size: K-3 (28), 4-8(31). This is the class size implication that CPS seems to want to portray, that CPS parents are given the impression are the ideal limits. This is confirmed in SEES and Magnet school enrollments (which have control over their class sizes) because they generally are allowed to keep their class sizes close to these limits.


    If you read further into the document, you will see that CPS allows itself to set REAL class sizes at 35+ students per class as the ideal. Which is confirmed by their current space utilization formula since they state with that formula/their reports that schools which have an average of 36 students per classroom are still considered efficient–not overcrowded–for CPS schools.

    So, only one of the following can be correct:

    1) Either the Space Utilization formula is incorrect and they are overstating under-utilization as well as underestimating the amount of schools that are truly overcrowded, OR

    2) They believe that 36 students in a K-8 classroom is an acceptable and efficient number; they aren’t being clear about that with us about that; and they are allowing SEES and Magnet schools to hold their class sizes down (giving them a smaller class size advantage) while neighborhood school principals have to choose between cramming kids in to the number of allocated homerooms that they have OR give up ancillary classrooms in order to adhere to smaller class sizes (and neither of those options is a good choice).

    I would just like them to own which of these two options is actually correct so we (CPS parents) have a better understanding of what we are actually dealing with here.

    I’m a naive dreamer, I know. 🙂

  • 198. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I do recall back my my naive days when a group of parents was working to boost enrollment at our neighborhood school and we thought that if we got more than 56 kindergarten kids (28+28) that CPS would send out another teacher. Bwah hah hah! 🙂

    the formula for allocating teacher appears to be based on the 28/31 model, correct? the obvious problem is that the kids are always perfectly allocated like that.

    I guess my question is – if an entire school has an average of 36 kids per class in say 18 classrooms, shouldn’t there be more teachers allocated to that school? Or does that mean it’s a space issue?

    That is at least 5 kids over the limit in 18 rooms = 90 which should garner the school 2-3 more teachers, no? (I know that prinicpals have to fight for teacher slots each and every year, so maybe the formula somehow shorts them a teacher that they need to “buy.”) I never really was able to get my head around the formula.

  • 199. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I’ve added the Apple-toApple link along the side. I haven’t had a chance yet to peruse all the data, so Jeanne, let us know when new stuff is posted and or something particularly juicy comes up.

  • 200. Paul  |  December 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    @197 JMOChicago, couldn’t agree more.

    The other source for CPS class size policy is the newly adopted teacher union contract. In that one, they say that maximum class sizes will generally be 27-29 for K-2 and 30-32 for 3-8. But, that’s only for schools that have space available. For schools that don’t have space available, there are no maximum class size guidelines.

    But, cpsobsessed is right. They’re supposed to get extra teachers through the quota formula. And the union is supposed to serve on a board that meets regularly to resolve class size problems.

  • 201. SutherlandParent  |  December 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I just received the CPS email re: FROM CPS CEO BARBARA BYRD-BENNETT: Message about Utilization Crisis Facing Our District‏

    It came with this warning from Hotmail: “Be careful! This sender failed our fraud detection checks.”

    Just wanted to share my chuckle for the day 🙂

  • 202. JMOChicago  |  December 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    @201–Can you forward or post the note? I haven’t seen it…so interesting! Do you all get notes from CPS often? I never do.

    Yes, the language definitely gives them an “out” and since their utilization formula shows them with more space available then they may actually have. I have not finished my data review of the staffing issue, but always here that it is an issue to get CPS to actually honor those requests in a timely manner. Or it puts principals in a position where they have to chose between two important things at the school, and then blame principals for any dissatisfaction.

    The utilization is an issue which might potentially affect all schools, Northside, Southside and Westside. Those schools that are operating under maximum capacity to be efficient (which is 20% above the average of 30 students per classroom) might be forced into taking more students. It’s hard to justify the SEES, Charter and Magnet schools receiving more money this year that is being taken from neighborhood schools w/o also requiring that they fill their classrooms to the top of the “efficient” capacity. That would not be very popular, I imagine, for parents of kids in those schools to see a jump in class sizes or loss of ancillary rooms. Schools which have between 20-24 students average per classroom and doing well academically could be forced into closing.(BBB has been quoted as saying, “We are only using utilization to determine closing schools, not academic performance.”) Students from closing schools will be bussed across the city (which might increase drop out and attendance rates for those students.) The students have to go somewhere.

    We need to increase revenue to CPS, most likely through re-prioritization of spending at the City or State level, AND we need to become more efficient with costs. Personally, I’d like to check on efficiencies to be had in removing levels of administration at the Central Office and through pruning our consulting/testing contracts. I’m not sure it is appropriate for the City to allow CPS’ budget to shoulder the entire burden of the upcoming pension funding issue, as the City saved money in those pension years by negotiating on pension vs. salaries/benefits (kicked the can down the road.)

  • 203. HS Mom  |  December 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Here’s the letter sent to CPS families

    Dear CPS Stakeholders:

    Over these past few weeks, many of you have heard about the utilization crisis facing our District. Because of population declines over the past decade, 145,000 fewer school-aged children reside in Chicago today than they did 10 years ago. And, although enrollment in CPS schools has shown a similar decline, we have taken little action to address this issue. As a result, CPS currently serves 403,000 students but has space for more than 511,000. That means 20 percent of our schools are half empty.

    Enrollment and space utilization data we released this week further confirms this problem. About 50 percent of our schools are underutilized and nearly 140 schools are more than half empty. Having too many buildings with too few children spreads our already limited resources thin and makes it increasingly difficult to provide students with the high quality education they deserve.

    We cannot wait any longer to address this problem. The time to do so is now.

    Creating a comprehensive plan to right-size the District is an immediate priority for me as CEO, and I am committed to engaging parents and communities on the front end of that process. That’s why I worked with the Illinois General Assembly to extend the deadline to announce school actions to March 31, which will give us the time we need to collaborate with parents, teachers and community stakeholders.

    Difficult decisions will need to be made over the next few months. However, it is important to remember that, as of today, no schools have been identified for closure and consolidation. Even if a school is underutilized, it does not mean it will be closed or consolidated. That being said, space utilization is a factor that needs to be better understood, which is why I have tasked the Commission on School Utilization with carefully examining this issue.

    As you may know, I created this nine-member Commission to engage in a rigorous fact-finding mission, gathering information and feedback from experts and school communities and holding public hearings so that no voice goes unheard. The Commission will present me with final recommendations, and I will seriously consider all input before making final recommendations to the Chicago Board of Education.

    For too long, CPS has made its decisions piecemeal when closing schools. That’s why we have committed to a five-year moratorium on closing any additional CPS facilities starting in fall 2013 once a comprehensive plan to right-size the District has been implemented. This will create the long-term stability and peace of mind that our school communities need and deserve.

    As a key stakeholder in CPS, I encourage you to participate in one of the public community meetings being held by the Commission on School Utilization. For more information and to view details about these public meetings, visit http://www.schoolutilization.com

    . I welcome your input on this vitally important issue and look forward to working together as we strive to give every child the high quality education they deserve.


    Barbara Byrd-Bennett

    Chief Executive Officer

    Chicago Public Schools

  • 204. RL Julia  |  December 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    CPS is my e-mail bff 🙂
    I liked the part of the letter that talked about having an actual articulated system to determine a list of schools (rather than just some random on). I was surprised to see some rather well known schools on the underutlized list. Dismayed to see some SPED centers listed as underutilized (since they should have high teacher to student ratios as part of their operating plans).

  • 205. SutherlandParent  |  December 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Thanks for posting the email, @203!

    @202, I’m not exactly sure how I got on the CPS email list or if I get them all. The ones I receive come labeled as “Internal Communications.” Our school doesn’t use email for mass communications, so I don’t think it came from there (although our PTA does an email blast and our principal is very responsive to email). Could be that I like to share my opinions with those on Clark Street and am already formulating my reply to BBB’s email 🙂

  • 206. HS Mom  |  December 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    @205 – I was thinking might have something to do with registration on Impact. I prefer the paperless approach, but as with the strike information, I’ll probably see a copy in the mail when I get home, one in the backpack and a robo call or 2……efficiencies anyone?

  • 207. HS Mom  |  December 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I wonder if CPS has done any analysis on the expected CPS population over the next 5 years and if they expect growth or decline and why. Would it be wiser to establish a list of precise criteria and make necessary changes as needed?

  • 208. donna  |  December 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I heard a rumor that data that was once readily available on the CPS website regarding enrollment or other data at the Office of Research and Accountability is no longer available. Can anyone verify this? This hardly seems like the way to gain the public support of anything.

  • 209. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I’ve seen more data recently than in the past on the cps site. But I haven’t really delved for anything deep and they don’t publish the kind of stuff I tend to be interested in regarding the admission process (like the data that wbez got last year on applications by tier.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 210. Sped Mom  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    How I’d love to see this from BBB: “Dear CPS Stakeholders: Over these past few weeks, many of you have heard about the crisis in special education facing our District.” – In my dreams.

  • 211. Sped Mom  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Is there precedent for any such endeavor by CPS in recent history (say, past 15 years) that really was rigorous, based in the right facts, etc.?: “…created this nine-member Commission to engage in a rigorous fact-finding mission, gathering information and feedback from experts and school communities and holding public hearings so that no voice goes unheard. The Commission will present me with final recommendations, and I will seriously consider all input before making final recommendations to the Chicago Board of Education. in CPS.” Anyone know? Any examples?

  • 212. helenkeller  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Does anyone find it interesting that special eduction students make up almost 15% of the population in the state of Illinois but yet in CPS only 12%?

  • 213. JMOChicago  |  December 7, 2012 at 6:04 am

    @208 The location of the data that I’m familiar with doesn’t seem to have changed but is not very easy to find from the home page on CPS.edu. The locations of most of the data tend to be:


    On individual school pages under the first and third tabs

    On the ISBE website

    And the ISBE website is connected to the interactive report cards for every public school in the State of Illinois: http://iirc.niu.edu/SearchMain.aspx?search

    The City of Chicago also hosts a data portal which contains a lot of data related to CPS: https://data.cityofchicago.org/browse?category=Education&page=1&sortBy=relevance&view_type=table

  • 214. JMOChicago  |  December 7, 2012 at 6:49 am

    @203– Thank you for posting. So interesting.

    @212–Re: the percentage of special education students in CPS. This has been a really difficult population to get data on within CPS, especially students who are NOT in special education centers. Here are some questions that I have had when looking for this data:

    -How is the percentage of students who have IEP’s related to how difficult I have heard it is to GET an IEP for a student? (I’ve heard that parents have had to hire lawyers, etc. to get appropriate services?)

    -If the barrier to getting an IEP for a student that needs one is very high (“parent must fight for it”, “costs money and time to get CPS to pay attention”, “cost might include the cost of a lawyer”), how many students are NOT getting the IEPs that they may actually need if the CPS population is 80%+ low income?

    -If there were fewer barriers for students to get an IEP, would the percentage of students within CPS with an IEP increase?

    -Does CPS use “Special Education” and IEP completely interchangeably within their reports?

    -Where is the enrollment data for self-contained Special Education classrooms within CPS neighborhood schools kept? For example, if Nettlehorst has a self-contained special education classroom (or more than one?) how are those students and those rooms reflected on all of CPS’ reports (space utilization, ISAT comp, enrollment numbers, etc.)

  • 215. CarolA  |  December 7, 2012 at 7:43 am

    As far as interchanging the terms “special education” and IEP….keep in mind that an IEP is an individual education plan that is used for a child who has speech intervention, but no other needs as well as for a child who has severe learning disabilities. There is a wide range of needs for those that have an IEP.

    Yes, it is VERY difficult to get a child evaluated and receiving IEP services. This is many because the staff for those evaluation meetings is VERY small. Our special team is split between two and three schools. With only 5 days in a week, that means they can meet with parents in our school only one day a week, sometimes two on special occasions. Also, depending on the team, the voice of one member (almost NEVER the teacher) is used to make a decision. This decision is USUALLY based on an hour meeting between this person and the child with a long list of tests during that time. On the other hand, the teacher, who is with the child most of the day and the parent, who obviously sees everything at home, do not have much of a voice. This needs to change. Maybe if they shut down low enrollment schools they will have more money to hire more staff for this area. The numbers would be quite different if we had more staff.

  • 216. CarolA  |  December 7, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I forgot to add…..keep in mind….it is a LAW that once a parent signs the papers to have their child evaluated, there is a timeline that MUST be followed. The trick is to be persistent and get those papers filled out, signed and DATED. DON”T FORGET THE DATE. That’s the key. Make a copy for yourself as proof because these things tend to “get lost”. If they don’t follow the timeline, they can be held accountable by law! Schools like to delay it as much as possible. The only successful, fast-paced IEP’s that I’ve seen done in 24 years have only been because the child was completely abusive and a danger to others or because the parent was a pest! BE A PEST! You are the voice for your child!

  • 217. JMOChicago  |  December 7, 2012 at 8:58 am


    I think that the reorganization of Special Education services needs to be addressed separate from the school closing issue. CPS is not closing schools to put that money into Special Education. They are closing schools because they have a budget shortfall for their current budget which already shortchanges special education.

    The only way to get more funding allocated to special education is to take it from somewhere in the current budget OR to increase revenue.

    In terms of increasing revenue, there are options, with some winners and losers depending upon the options that are taken up. The City could take away TIF and put that property tax revenue back in the service of schools. The City could reallocate other portions of the City budget to schools. The City could raise taxes on property owners, or some other group in the City (with various consequences). Legislation about school funding could be pursued with the State of Illinois (since it contributes so little compared to other states.) The pension funding that the City of Chicago contributes to other Illinois school districts could be transferred to the be the sole responsibility for those districts (and thus encourage them to not promise so much in pension increases in their own districts because they are accountable for 100% funding.)

    In terms of decreasing costs, I think the costs at the school level have already been cut into pretty deeply. When you can’t get copies made, that indicates pretty deep cuts. There are places to look in Central Office and in the District, including the funds paid to external consultants, to testing companies, etc. I’m also wondering whether have not taken advantage of all of the efficiencies possible in Central Office.

    But to reiterate, the closings of schools will not translate into MORE money being spent anywhere. Especially since CPS has drained its “savings account” (reserves) to cover the current budget projections.

    I would love to be wrong, as always.

  • 218. CPS TBPK momma  |  December 7, 2012 at 11:52 am

    The copy of the Elementary School Space Utilization report I have from CPS (although for school year 2010-11) has the following quote (emphasis on the last sentence):

    There is a significant difference between the physical capacity of a school and its functional capacity. For example, according to the Building Code of Chicago, the allowed occupancy in a classroom is limited to one person per twenty square feet of space, Given that the average size of a classroom is 800 square feet, the resulting allowed occupancy is forty persons, i.e. 39 students and one teacher. Even in the most overcrowded schools, this level of occupancy does not exist, would be educationally unsound, and would violate the agreement between the Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union in terms of maximum class size.

    Quite shocking that they say that “this level of occupancy does not exist.” (ah hem, Prussing, South Loop, etc.) And, even more interesting to admit that this many students would be “educationally unsound” and violate the contract.

  • 219. cpsobsessed  |  December 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I guess my interpretation of these community meetings isn’t to get facts (CPS has “facts” (meaning numbers.) But rather to give communities a chance to dispute data, make suggestions for consolidation, etc.

    The trouble is…..I don’t see how communities can do with without a list even say, the 50 schools most likely to close. Are they supposed to infer whether their school is on the list? Is any underenrolled school supposed to mobilize to make a case for their school? It’s a lot to ask people to make a strong, comprehensive case to save their school when they don’t know if they’re targeted. People get much more feisty when they are in immediate danger of change happening.

    I think the parents who have turned out so far to fight the general fight have been amazing to make the effort. But I don’t know how that will help the committee form specific recos.

  • 220. Rachel K  |  December 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    #219 – I think it’s safe to say that any and all schools on that list that are categorized as underutilized are in danger. Not necessarily for closing but certainly for restructuring of some sort. It’s unfortunate that CPS will not offer details yet, but this list is a warning shot across the bow.
    I had lots of questions from the meeting earlier this week:
    • Where were the community organizers and why weren’t they working in tandem with the school to have a clear-cut presentation?
    • If it was understood that the press would be there, why weren’t there more efforts to showcase their advocacy of their schools?
    • A common comment was that these were parents who came from small schools that no one knew about but were making strides. But my opinion was…why doesn’t anyone know? Why don’t you have something in hand to give to the panel to show them that your school is valuable as it is and needs more support, not less.
    • Also repeatedly mentioned was the lack of community involvement in the panel. But there was one parent, a retired teacher, and 2 ministers involved (Rev. Meeks repeatedly pointed out that he was just the moderator for the evening and was not on the panel). I was curious as to why the community did not feel that these people had their best interests at heart.

    There is a meeting schedule tonight (I’m not sure of the address) and another scheduled for Monday at Apostolic Church on the south side. I will be curious to see what happens.

  • 221. cpsobsessed  |  December 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Did you guys all get this letter yesterday? My son was out sick.

    December 6, 2012
    Dear CPS Parents, Guardians and Caregivers:
    Over these past few weeks, most of you have heard about the utilization crisis facing our District. Because of
    population declines over the past decade, 145,000 fewer school-aged children reside in Chicago than they did 10
    years ago. And, although enrollment in CPS schools has shown a similar decline, we have taken little action to
    address this issue. As a result, CPS currently serves 403,000 students but has space for more than 511,000. That
    means 20 percent of our schools are empty.
    Enrollment and space utilization data we released this week further confirms this problem. About 50 percent of our
    schools are underutilized and nearly 140 schools are more than half empty. Having too many buildings with too few
    children spreads our already limited resources thin and makes it increasingly difficult to provide students with the
    high quality education they deserve.
    We cannot wait any longer to address this problem. The time to do so is now. Creating a comprehensive plan to right-size our District is an immediate priority for me as CEO so we can better invest our resources to help support our children and their learning. I am committed to engaging with you, our teachers and school communities on the front end of that process. This is why I worked with members of the Illinois General Assembly to extend the deadline to announce school actions to March 31, which will give us the time we need to work together.
    Difficult decisions will need to be made over the next few months; however, it is important to remember that as of
    today, no schools have been identified for closure and consolidation. Even if a school is underutilized that does not
    mean it will be closed or consolidated. That being said, space utilization is a factor that needs to be better
    understood, which is why I have tasked the Commission on School Utilization with carefully examining this issue.
    As you may know, I created a nine-member Commission to engage in a rigorous fact-finding mission, gathering
    information and feedback from experts and school communities. The Commission will present me with a list of
    recommendations in March, which will guide us in our decision-making.
    For too long, CPS has made its decisions piecemeal when closing schools. That’s why we have committed to a
    five-year moratorium on closing any additional CPS facilities starting in fall 2013 once a comprehensive plan to
    right-size the District has been implemented. This will create the long-term stability and peace of mind that our
    school communities need and deserve.
    Your feedback is invaluable to me, and I encourage you to participate in the Public Committee hearings being held
    by the Commission on School Utilization. For more information on the Commission and to view details about public
    meetings, visit http://www.schoolutilization.com. I welcome your input on this vitally important issue and look forward to
    working together as we strive to give every child the high quality education they deserve.
    Barbara Byrd-Bennett
    Chief Executive Officer ⎪Chicago Public Schools

  • 222. cpsobsessed  |  December 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    This new WBEZ article points out that CPS enrollment is down 6% in the past 10 years (30K).


    But public school enrollment has not changed as dramatically in that time. Overall school enrollment has decreased just 6 percent. However, district enrollment patterns have been exacerbated because school officials opened new schools that drew enrollment away from traditional schools.

    The percentage of students attending traditional schools dropped 17 percent, while the percentage in charter schools (many of which operate in private buildings) has increased. Today more than 50,000 students attend charter schools.

  • 223. JMOChicago  |  December 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    @219 You know I can’t resist a list! It’s an obsession, really. So THIS IS NOT THE LIST OF CPS SCHOOLS THAT WILL BE CLOSED. It is CPS’ list sorted by Space Utilization Index. Just for the sake of curiosity.


  • 224. Anonymous  |  December 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    #219. I could not agree more. I know it is, as Rachel K pointed out, a “warning shot.” However, unless you truly know your school is endangered, it really is hard to rally parents. Plus, CPS may have a really great idea that some parents may not fight. Who knows?? I looked at the map and saw that Manierre and Jenner were both up for underutlization and are near each other. I google mapped them! Those are both beautiful buildings. But Jenner is fairly NEW and has wonderful grounds. Also, Jenner is in an area that has lots of room for growth and gentrification — especially with Target and other retailers really coming in to improve the area. So, what if they close Manierre and move the kids to the beautiful, large, new Jenner building with its wonderful grounds. Then what if five years later, developers fill out the vacant land with more housing? Then they’re overcrowded? There is no real way to understand the different situations without truly looking in-depth at factors that can only be understood at a school-specific level. AND, with foresight! That’s why I think this broad, grand, CPS-wide approach won’t work. And I DO think CPS has something to hide. Why push back the deadline for community involvement, but act like the community has to be city-wide? They need to give specifics. They just do. This is a farce if you do not.

  • 225. cpsobsessed  |  December 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    That’s awesome Jeanne – so these are the most underutilitzed by %, correct? AGAIN, NOT A SCHOOL CLOSING LIST AT ALL.
    One interesting thing is that many do still hold a lot of students, which might be a factor in keeping them opened.
    I really don’t know the names of many of these, since they are outside my little northside zone. I did see Manierre, which I think was brought up in the Lincoln Elem discussions as a possible overflow place.
    I see poor Quest is on there as low utilization. That one is adding grades each year to expand, so that makes sense.
    So again, many reasons why the list can’t be just % based.
    But interesting to see. And if I was a family at a school here I might start making more community inquiries and attend a meeting just to see what’s up.
    Also, those costs to maintain the school? What time period? Yikes, they seem high!

  • 226. Paul  |  December 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    There is some more information on the other tabs of that CPS spreadsheet that may answer some of your questions. The first tab explains that the cost to maintain/update the facility is based on 1) the most recent assessment, 2) recent major investments, 3) costs to update. The costs to update are defined as adding air conditioning, science, computer, and art labs, playgrounds, and accessibility. The figures do not include the ongoing operational costs of the facilities.

    So, it looks to me like CPS is calculating the cost of maintaining and updating the facility, and is defining it as fixing everything that needs to be fixed and then adding a/c, labs, and playgrounds while adding handicap accessibility where needed.

    The third tab sorts the list of schools based on their space utilization index, similar to what JMOChicago did on her blog page. Although it’s sorted with Overcrowded schools first.

  • 227. RL Julia  |  December 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Enjoyed looking at those charts JMO. I think it says something (although I don’t know what) that there are only FOUR “underutilized K-8 schools north of North Ave. So what does that mean? Are there more kids on the North side? Or just more than there used to be? Are the schools perceived to be better or actually are better so they are more subscribed to on the North side? Are there more charters on the South side? What do you think is the story behind this map?

  • 228. Paul  |  December 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    The racial and income data on JMOChicago’s chart are eye opening. It’s not too far off the mark to say that only black and poor students are in the most underutilized schools. Very few white, hispanic, or middle class kids are in those schools.

  • 229. cpsobsessed  |  December 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    @Paul, true — although given that CPS is 9% white, there are many white kids anywhere.
    I think this is why CPS is trying to engage the African American community for input on how best to handle these many many closings.

    It would be interesting to know the % change in students in CPS on the north, west, and south side in the past 10 years. Perhaps CPS is down 30k kids, but are those mainly in certain neighborhoods while perhaps the north side has grown? I can think of multiple north side school that were close to closing (for enrollment under 350) that are now full.

  • 230. Paul  |  December 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Yeah, but no hispanic students?

    It would be interesting see the change in student population by neighborhood or region. It might help CPS make its case if it can show a significant decline in the population of kids in those specific neighborhoods. It could be that there just aren’t enough kids living nearby to populate those schools.

    Although, I like JMOChicago’s 20-30 kids per class ideal range as opposed to CPS’s 24-36. To me, if a school is filled top to bottom with 20 kids per class, then it’s not underutilized. That’s very close to the Illinois average.

  • 231. helenkeller  |  December 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    RE 214-YOU ASK GREAT QUESTIONS….in CPS we have children who come from homes with multi-generational dysfunction, crack babies who enter at age five with no IEPs, children who come from homes loaded with lead paint, children who are in foster care(don’t know the percentage) etc. With all of these issues our students face how can we have a percentage of students with IEPs lower than the state average? Eighty per cent of our students come from low income homes and our parents really do not know how to advocate for their children let alone ask for a full case study.

    A few years ago CPS got in trouble with ISBE/Corey H. because CO locked the computers so no new referrals for special education could be entered. This went on for months until some ethical case managers/school psychologists reported it. CPS does stall parents who are savvy enough to realize that their child is not progressing.

    There is also the issue of massive mislabeling in CPS. Many of the students labeled LD really are cognitively impaired. They may need more intensive support/services than a child with a learning disability. This mislabeling is really showing up now in the high school foreign language programs-CPS requires all students to take and pass foreign language. This can be an insurmountable task for a child with a learning disability let alone a cognitive disability. It is the school psychologist who determines the type of disability and as a special education teacher I have sat at many MDCs where all the evidence pointed towards cognitive disability but yet the psychologist labeled the child learning disabled.

  • 232. Paul  |  December 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    @230 correcting myself. The spreadsheet I was looking at was sorted by percentage of black students, and there was another page with higher numbers of hispanic students and one with 37 percent white students.

  • 233. Northside Teacher  |  December 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    In just find it sad that Obama and his “pro” union democratic party don’t care that 1000s of teachers who soon ill lose thier jobs with no fault of their own..families will be strewm apart..the news gets upset when 1000 factory workers or bank workrs lose thier jobs…but in the case of teachers these days..our own mayor who scores the land for jobs…just say to themselves “they deserve it”!!

    teachers will get thrown into some convuluted hiring pool that will be plucked by politically connected principals!! sad sad…..I know children are the most important…but teachers are humans and we have been thrust often into impossible situations!!! teachers who were railroaded by principals will be blackballed for having satisfactory ratings…very sad

  • 234. CPS Parent  |  December 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Why would 1000’s of teachers loose their jobs? Are 30 x 1000’s of students leaving the city suddenly ? The new CPS/CTU CBA specifies that teachers, who are in good standing, will follow students to their consolidated schools.

  • 236. helenkeller  |  December 7, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    This is a glaring example of the rampant incompetence of administrators we have in CPS. This is why teachers are so frustrated and many do leave the system. We can’t rely on those on charge.

  • 237. Northside Teacher  |  December 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    234 ok ….listen their are unsatifactory, basic, proficient, and excellent teachers. they are only guranteed to be able to be in a pool if they are of the two higher grades. obviouly no one wants an unsatisfactory teacher…..but often these ratings are based on a corrucpt principals…not always …but sometimes….

    CPS will put these students in a pool to be rehired….but this is really their only benefit. the pool only has to be filled with 50% of CPS laid off teachers. CPS DOESNT try to find jobs for their former employee. They just kind of give them the run around…if you have connections you are in….if not…you are out!!!

    1000’s will lose their jobs…yes some will deserve it…but many will be victims of the disoraganiation thy call CPS…alll the while an incompeten CEO gets a 250k severence package????

  • 238. CPS Parent  |  December 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    237. What is the math that leads you to say 1000’s? This is a public forum and the casual reader might attach unwarranted value to what you say.

    The only way I could see “thousands” is if there are thousands of “unsatisfactory” or “basic” rated teachers who are at consolidated schools. If 100 schools consolidate, with an average of 400 students each, there would be about 1,300 or so teachers at these schools. Even if ALL these teachers are “unsatisfactory” or “basic” rated we are not talking about “thousands”. My guess – maybe 100 or so of which at least 50 probably need to step aside anyway.

  • 239. averagemom  |  December 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Many of the north side schools are not ‘failing schools’, so when they are not fully utilized by the neighborhood, CPS must allow children from failing schools to transfer in. I think it’s impossible for a non-failing school not to be fully utilized. We’ve had kids from all over the city at our elementary school.

  • 240. anonymouse teacher  |  December 8, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Does anyone know where to find the statistics on how many displaced teachers gained employment in the longer school day positions they were supposed to have the first shot at? I am not aware of even one displaced teacher being hired anywhere, but I am only in contact with about a dozen schools, so my scope of knowledge is limited.
    I do know my principal hired 4 newish teachers, all escaping horrible schools, and all of them have said they left when they did because they knew their schools would likely be shut down and their careers would be decimated. They are all fabulous teachers. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time and the savvy teachers who don’t have a career death wish, who have contacts somewhere else in the system, are all leaving for better schools.

  • 241. Sped Mom  |  December 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    JMO Chicago, I see answers to your questions at the District 299 blog in a comment by Rod Estvan:

    Rodestvan said 19 hours, 8 minutes ago
    In reply to district299reader:

    Here are some answers to these complex questions.
    Question: Where is the enrollment data for self-contained Special Education classrooms within CPS neighborhood schools kept? For example, if Nettlehorst has a self-contained special education classroom (or more than one?) how are those students and those rooms reflected on all of CPS’ reports (space utilization, ISAT comp, enrollment numbers, etc.)
    Answer: The CPS Office of Specialized Services has the raw student counts by both their LRE code and program. It knows how many self contained classroom there are in each school. I only have access to program information not student head and room counts. If you are going to FOIA be specific. I can help with a FOIA request if you need it email me at restvan@accessliving.org

    At Nettlelhorst for students in self-contained settings there are different students in different programs. This school has many programs. Nettlehorst has a self contained program P120206 Severe/Profound/Cognitive Impairments it has 2.8 positions and was projected to cost CPS $ 208,160. This is most likely a two room program. The school also has a small program P120402 which is for students with multiple disabilities it was assigned only .8 positions at a cost of $45,953 most likely only two students who are in the severe profound rooms. The school has a larger self contained program P122009 Cross Catagorical-LD/BD instructional that has 5 positions and was projected to cost $252,446. I would suspect this program uses between 2 and 3 classrooms. Program P122002 is a Cross Catagorical EMH/LD/BD program it has five positions and is projected to cost $206,454. My guess would be in covers no more than two rooms. The school has program P121302 which is for students with more significant autism, it was projected to be very small with only one assigned staff person at a cost of $45,120 and likely one or two students who are likely in one of the cross categorical classrooms. It also has program P122001 which is titled Cross Catagorical Autism/LD it has only one position projected to cost $48,280.

    Nettlelhorst has over $800,000 worth of program costs for students who are likely self-contained for a good part of the school day. It looks like it has about 5 self-contained rooms but it could be less depending on the ratio. If these are all located in full size classrooms each one of these is likely indicated to be under utilized by at least 50% if not more because some of the programs could have as few as 8 students in them. I would suggest that the reason CPS considers Nettlelhorst to be 8% below the ideal space utilization level is totally because of these self contained programs which are being looked at incorrectly by CPS. Looked at correctly the school would probably be above the ideal space utilization level.

    Question: How is the percentage of students who have IEP’s related to how difficult I have heard it is to GET an IEP for a student? (I’ve heard that parents have had to hire lawyers, etc. to get appropriate services?) CPS depends on whether you are an advocate like me or an administrator.
    Answer: If you are an administrator you would say it has a rigorous but legal standard for identification if you are an advocate like me you would say CPS denies identification to students with more subtle conditions rather easily. In most identification cases I am involved in CPS yields to pressure and identifies suspected students, the last case where one of my families had to litigate involved a high school student who had never been identified with LD but passed classes often just barely. The most under identified students in CPS in my opinion are emotionally disturbed students who do not externalize their disabling condition and moderately disabled LD students in lower performing schools.

    Question: -If the barrier to getting an IEP for a student that needs one is very high (“parent must fight for it”, “costs money and time to get CPS to pay attention”, “cost might include the cost of a lawyer”), how many students are NOT getting the IEPs that they may actually need if the CPS population is 80%+ low income?
    Answer: I would guess CPS may be under indentifying by about 3%. But that is only a guess and I am using a conservative standard for identification in my thinking.
    Question: -If there were fewer barriers for students to get an IEP, would the percentage of students within CPS with an IEP increase?
    Answer: It is currently around 13.2% and it would rise to about 16.2%. Right now CPS is at about the same level as Champaign CUSD 4 which has only a 55% poverty rate. The state average is now about 13.6%, but CPS has a much higher percentage of students with mental health problems and should be somewhat higher in my opinion.
    Question: -Does CPS use “Special Education” and IEP completely interchangeably within their reports?
    Answer: CPS uses students with IEPs and students with 504 plans separately in most reports. ISBE’s data is for students with IEPs and does not include 504 students on the state report card. They keep that data separately.
    I hope I have been able to answer your questions.

    Rod Estvan

  • 242. anonymouse teacher  |  December 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I should have added that not all teachers can leave their schools or want to. Some are so committed to their student population that they’d rather “go down with the ship” rather than abandon their kids. But, wow, what a terrible sacrifice to have to make after years of giving one’s life away to others.

  • 243. EdgewaterMom  |  December 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    @242 anonymouse teacher Why are you assuming that they would have to go “down with the ship’? The students at the schools that close are going to have to go to another school. I realize that SOME teaching positions may be lost, but many should be able to follow the students to a new school.

    Do you think that all of the teachers will be let go if a school is closed? I certainly hope that is not going to happen, but I can also understand why a teacher might be nervous about it.

  • 244. CPS Parent  |  December 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    243. EdgewaterMom The teachers’ collective bargaining agreement specifies that teachers will move with the students to the designated schools. One caveat – their annual review rating has to be above the “basic” rating. Basic is one step away from being fired so that should not be hard for most teachers. Here is the CBA. see page 184.


  • 245. JMOChicago  |  December 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I think that there will be some teachers who pick up teaching jobs at a consolidated school (do they lose tenure in the school hierarchy in any way? Scheduling, etc.? I don’t know.) And some teacher jobs will be lost to teaching jobs at new charter schools.

  • 246. JMOChicago  |  December 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    @241–thank you for this information from District 299 Blog! I’ll head over there and see what else I can find….very helpful.

  • 247. anonymouse teacher  |  December 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    @243, I say that because I do not believe the contractual language will be honored–this is because of years of watching CPS not honoring all kinds of agreements it makes. There are always ways to get around these things. I think some teachers will follow their students to other schools, I think some will retire (in some cases early or very early) and some will simply be shut out. I do not believe that most of the teachers in closed schools, especially if they close as many schools as I think they will (my guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-100 schools), will be hired at the receiving schools. I think that many teachers rated Proficient and Distinguished, the top two categories that supposedly guarantee a teacher she can follow her students, will find themselves unable to find positions even despite their good ratings.

    This statement is misleading. “One caveat – their annual review rating has to be above the “basic” rating. Basic is one step away from being fired so that should not be hard for most teachers. Here is the CBA. see page 184.”
    There are four categories: Distinguished (highest), Proficient (2nd highest), Basic (next to lowest–where you’d expect most 1st-2nd year teachers to be) and Unsatisfactory. Saying that Basic is one step away from being fired isn’t exactly true, since a teacher can be fired if they remain at Basic level for more than a year in a row. Even tenured teachers can be fired if they stay at Basic. And at the same time, depending on the student population one works with, it can be harder to get a proficient rating. Students have to demonstrate a high level of independence within the classroom for a teacher to get Proficient, but reality is, some populations are truly not capable of independence. So, for example, I had my first Danielson eval and all my categories were rated either proficient or distinguished. But I feel like the deck is stacked in my favor because seriously, I work with a class that is so completely and totally amazing and easy. I never, ever have to raise my voice and I almost never have to give time outs. They love me and I love them and they’d do anything to please me. But I’ve had other classrooms in the past that, while I’ve loved them, they’ve been terribly difficult and even dangerous. I also have significantly fewer students than many teachers have, which makes a HUGE difference.

    But back to the closings/job loss issue, if anyone has documentation regarding how many displaced teachers actually got hired for any of those 600+ longer school day positions, please point me in the right direction. I’d love to see if even a handful got hired. My principal has been told that those positions (the longer school day positions for art, music, PE, etc) may or may not be renewed next year. She’s got her hands full with this year, but she’s obviously thinking about this as are the teachers who she hired for those jobs.

  • 248. Confused Citizen  |  December 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Basic……it isn’t as easy as you think….also, it can be manipulated by a principal. Also, if you are at “proficient” and you class has a problem with testing, your total rating will be dropped to basic…..believe me if you follow the danielson rubric to the tea we could all be accused of being “basic”…..all I am saying is this idea that ONE principals can ruin your career at cps because he considers you “basic”…..at another school where the principal likes you, maybe you will get a Proficient…..I just think a teacher should be able to prove themselves in another school without the opinion of one political hack principal…..

    According to danielson, if you have to correct a child, that is wrong. Children should be self monitoring..in other words they must be so enthusiastic that they will want the class to be quiet….its insane. It’s also like the bible, it will be interpreted in many different ways. I think PRINCIPALS EXISTING AND NEW MUST BE VETTED BY A TEAM OF OUTSIDE EXPERTS IN ALL ASPECTS OF THESE JOBS. If principals are going to have this power of destroying a career we must make sure first they are HONEST AND KNOWLEDGEABLE by outside experts!!!

    I live in a dream world!!….but it would be nice….

  • 249. Confused Citizen  |  December 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Let’s just say having your principal having the control over your teaching career doesn’t really make for a democratic and team environment. It becomes a my way or highway world. this is not the spirit of education. errors are not allowed…..only by the chosen few!!!

  • 250. cpsobsessed  |  December 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    @confused – that’s pretty much how every workplace is. There’s a boss. How would a democratic workplace operate?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 251. local  |  December 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Take the model of a hospital or university with docs and profs. Shared governance.

  • 252. CPS Parent  |  December 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    @247 I stand by my caveat, the “basic” rating is one step away from being fired. As you say: “since a teacher can be fired if they remain at Basic level for more than a year in a row”.

    If the Danielson definition of “proficient” is equivalent to the dictionary definition then it is sensible that only teachers who are rated at “proficient” or higher should stay in employed.

  • 253. Northside Teacher  |  December 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I think it’s little more complex than using the webseter dictionary definition???

    That isnt how it works. I could take any level of job performance and call it good or bad….this doesnt make sense.

    Let’s say you are an accountant and you get a new memo. It says, in order for you to be proficient you must NEVER make any errors and you must never allow a customer to be over 90 days due. If , so you will be labeled a basic accountant…and if this happens two years in a row your boss will fire you and you will never be able to be an accountant ever again in the city of chicago?

    Would this sound fair just because they used the terminology Proficient???? would you just sit back and say…well they said I have to be “proficient” so I must be a bad acountant???

    Please read the Danielson Framework with the fact in mind you have a corrupt principal and you have 34 low income, ESL fifth graders who move in and out of your room, you have no books, you have no curriculum, you have no copy paper unless you beg, your CEO changes every year, your Immediate supervisor changes every 2 years and he/ she only wants accountants of one race or his nephew??

    This is not to far from the truth. Alll I am saying is that a teacher shoud be let go if a principal doesn’t like him …..fine…but should that teacher be blackballed from a public school?

  • 254. cpsobsessed  |  December 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I think i’ve said this before but I do agree that it’s ridiculous that a teacher who is given a poor rating is shut out of CPS altogether. In the private sector, people who get fired just go to a new company and say “it wasn’t a good fit” and everyone assumes that their boss was an idiot/jerk. Of course if you get fired from a few places, word starts to get around.

    I suppose the argument is that if you’re “failing” in terms of teaching that you shouldn’t be given another chance to mess up another few years of kids…. but as you point out, evaluations are so subjective. And schools and populations are so different. Perhaps a teacher who isn’t good in one type of school could thrive in another (just like students can.)

  • 255. cpsobsessed  |  December 8, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    On a separate note, I did attend the New Schools (aka Charter/turnaround/contract) Fair today and I have a lot to report! It was quite an experience on many levels. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

  • 256. anonymouse teacher  |  December 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    @253, the situation you describe is pretty much exactly like the school I was in a few years ago. I remember telling people it was like I worked in a developing country. One friend kept hinting that I was exaggerating until I had her come in and talk about her career to my class. She walked around with her mouth open all day. What do you mean you don’t have math curriculum or books? What do you mean you have to teach a language you don’t speak? (I had to teach Spanish to non-native speakers when all I’d had was the equivalent of 2 semesters of Spanish. It was the most horrible and funny year of my life–they put kids who could speak fluently in my room but couldn’t read it or write it. I was not qualified by any stretch of the imagination to teach this class.) What do you mean you are not allowed to use the copy machine? (Imagine telling a lawyer they have to go and copy all their files at Kinkos each night!) What do you mean it isn’t safe to walk to your car alone, 50 yards from the school door at 4 p.m.?

    I like Danielson, but I am not fully in support of its use as a career ending device (and Danielson herself states that this kind of use is a misuse of her framework) especially in areas where the district doesn’t even come close to providing the basics with students whose basic survival needs trump most educational needs.

    253, I hope you can find a position in a better school if you are willing to leave your current situation. I know many teachers are reluctant to leave their kids, but it is really important to think of yourself right now. Good luck to you.

  • 257. cpsobsessed  |  December 10, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Just saw this posting – if any northsiders have wanted to attend one of these meetings:

    The north/northwest side Space Utilization Commission will be meeting at Horner Park this Friday night at 7pm. Parents from Ames and Brentano in Logan Sq (and am sure many others) will be there to speak up and advocate for keeping their schools open. Let’s try and get a big turnout from RYH to support them.

  • 258. cpsobsessed  |  December 10, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Also one tonight:

    WHEN: Monday, December 10, 2012
    Commission meeting 4:00 – 6:00 pm
    Community meeting 7:00 – 9:00 pm

    WHO: Commission members will conduct the second Commission meeting and will host the third of five community meetings. Both meetings are open to the public.

    Commission Meeting
    St. Sabina’s Elders Village
    Multi-purpose Room
    1222 W. 79th St.
    4:00 – 6:00 pm

    Community Meeting
    St. Sabina’s Church
    Bethune Hall
    7801 S. Throop
    7:00 – 9:00 pm

  • 259. cps sad teacher  |  December 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    256. Thanks for understanding. You get it……

  • 260. cpsobsessed  |  December 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    More data from WBEZ on the shrinkage of # of CPS students (also shows the growth in # of charter kids)


  • 261. southie  |  December 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I saw this at District 299 blog:

    “Here is the CPS school actions (closure, consolidation, reassignment boundary change, phase-out, or co-location) hit list for the 2013-2014 school year: T Marshall, Dawes, Foster Park, Joplin, Barton, Douglass HS, May, Lewis, McNair, Voise HS, Emmet, Brunson, Northwest, Belmont-Cragin, Morgan Park HS, Graham, McClellan, Drake, Burke, Robinson, Beethoven, Mollison, Carter, Attucks, Hendricks, Overton, William Middle, Bronzeville HS, Mayo, Dunbar HS, Williams ES, Wells, Avalon Park, Schmid, Neil, Ashe, Brownell, Claremont, Fairfield, Yale, Holmes, Hope HS, Wentworth, Parkman, Earle, Woods, Bontemps, Altgeld, Hendrson, Banneker, Libby, Dewey, Goodlow, Bond, Mays, Bright, Lawrence, Kohn, DuBois, Aldrige, Songhai, West Pullman, L Hughes, Whistler, Garvey, Metcalfe, Gompers, Shoop, Bennett, Owens, Manley HS, Garfield Park, Marconi, Raby HS, Beidler, Ericson, Clemente HS, Lafayette, North-Grand HS, Reavis, Kozminski, Canter, Manierre, Brentano, Darwin, Jenner, Hamline, Kelly HS, Hearst, Peabody, Lozano, Hope Contra ES, W Brown, Smyth, King, Herbert, Mason HS, Henson, Poe, Crown, Mason, Chalmers, Lawndale, Penn, Dvorak Tech Acad, Paderewski, Pilsen, Corkery, Stockton, Gale, Trumbull, Kilmer, Sullivan HS, Wildwood, Hirsch HS, Madison, Revere, Mann, Parkside, Mireles, O’Keefe, New Sullivan, J Thorp, Black, Dumas Tech Acad, Till, Ross, Wadsworth, Fermi and Hyde Park HS.”

    Morgan Park HS????

  • 262. southie  |  December 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm


  • 263. Rachel K  |  December 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    261. – What blog is this?
    I’m at Poe and we are not in danger of closure, but I do believe that we are being targeted for something…

  • 264. HSObsessed  |  December 12, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Nice piece today on the new neighborhood news site DNA Info about JMOChicago and her Apples2Apples website. It’s fabulous to have an engaged and active citizenry who are asking all the right questions in the quest to improve our school system.


  • 265. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    #262-62~Southie & Rachel K~ Poe is listed by CPS as ‘underutilized’ wherein A2A has it as ‘efficient’

    Edgar Allan Poe Elementary Classical School District, non-alternative
    Enrollment: 193
    Space Utilization Index: CPS: -29% A2A: -14%

  • 266. Rachel K  |  December 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    #265 – Thanks. While I would like smaller class sizes (my kids left private school that boasted 17-19 per class), Poe is hardly underutilized. We have a tiny building and averaging 25-29 kids per class (approx).

    I’m curious to see if this classification of underutilization is political, not actual.

  • 267. SutherlandParent  |  December 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    @261 Southie, the rumor (or perhaps it’s wishful thinking) is that Morgan Park HS may become a wall-to-wall IB high school, since it already has an IB program and an academic center for 7-8 graders.

    It seems like something is up. MPHS is now a Level 3 school on probation, according to CPS. And CPS (finally!) designated about $10 million for desperately needed renovations. I hate to be so cynical, but investments often seem to be followed by conversions and turnarounds.

    I can’t see a closing–the schools has nearly 1,500 students and the only high school to the south and west, the Ag School, isn’t a neighborhood school and doesn’t have space to accommodate more kids. And Julian HS, to the east, isn’t under-utilized, either.

  • 268. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    #267~SutherlandParent~If a school becomes a level 3~ a tract of that area becomes a level 3. Morgan Park HS was made a level 3 and that means the CPS FACE Phil Hampton’s area was made a level 3~much easier for him to get his kids into Jones.

  • 269. local  |  December 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    @ 263. Rachel K

    If you’re looking for the blog called “District 299: The Inside Scoop on CPS,: you can find it here: http://www.chicagonow.com/district-299-chicago-public-schools-blog

  • 270. anonymouse teacher  |  December 12, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    That is a LOT of schools. Over a hundred. Surely not all will be shut down. Some are very good schools so maybe they’ll send kids from low performing kids to those schools or they are just planning on redrawing the boundaries. Would suck to have moved into the Wildwood area and then get shut out due to a boundary change though.

  • 271. EdgewaterMom  |  December 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I just received this email from slbirkholtz@cps.edu alerting me to a community meeting TONIGHT. While it is nice that they are sending out email (not sure exactly how I got this) a bit of advance notice sure would be nice.

    Dear CPS Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

    This evening, December 14, the Commission on School Utilization will hold a community meeting in your area. We strongly encourage you to attend and join in the discussion about how to address the utilization crisis in the District. Currently, CPS serves 403,000 students, but the District has space for more than 511,000. This means that nearly half of the District’s schools are underutilized. Twenty percent are half empty, which equates to140 schools. This spreads already limited resources too thin, and makes it increasingly difficult to provide children with the high quality education they deserve.

    CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is committed to right-sizing the District in order to better meet our limited resources in our schools. To ensure your voices are heard and considered as part of this effort, she created the Commission on School Utilization – a nine-member panel that has been charged with carefully examining this space utilization issue. This group is currently engaged in a rigorous fact-finding mission, gathering information and feedback from education experts and school communities so they can help CPS make more informed decisions regarding school actions. The Commission will make recommendations to the CEO over the next two months. She will then make her recommendations to the Board of Education on which schools will be considered as part of our effort to right-size the District.

    Your input is a vital part of this information-gathering process, so we hope that you will be willing to share your thoughts and opinions with the Commission. The meeting will be held at Horner Park, 2741 W. Montrose Avenue, from 7-9 p.m. Please consider attending this meeting so that you can play an active role in the conversation. If you cannot attend, consider offering your input through an email to info@schoolutilization.com. For more information on the Commission and to see a full schedule of upcoming meetings, visit http://www.schoolutilization.com. Thank you!

  • 272. cpsobsessed  |  January 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Raise-Your-Hand received a response from CPS regarding the calculation of which schools are over/under-utilized, as RYH has challenged CPS on the # of students they use to determine the ideal number of students per classroom based on Jeanne Olson’s investigation:


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