New Commission Suggestions on School Closings

March 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm 220 comments


Per a press release that just came out:

First and foremost among the report’s new recommendations is that closing an underutilized school should be considered only if its students can transfer safely to a better-performing school. That important recommendation is among five added to the nine that were submitted in an interim report.

Working off that premise, the Commission determined that CPS has the capacity to consolidate approximately 80 schools including closures and other school actions such as turnarounds and co-locations. That means there are 80 higher-performing schools that can accommodate relocated students. (Page 17 of the report details how the Commission arrived at this number. View the full report at

“The Commission heard repeatedly at public meetings how previous school closures meant students did not get the same level of educational quality.  “Our children are not being served if any school action jeopardizes their potential for learning or their safety.” said Commission Chairman Frank Clark.

Distance is also a key factor, and the report urges CPS to work with the Chicago Transit Authority on potential bus route alterations, as well as consider providing direct transportation for relocated students.

The Commission’s interim report submitted in January focused on what its members believed CPS should not do. Among the initial recommendations was that high schools and Level 1 (high-performing schools) should be taken off the table, actions CPS Chief Bennett announced earlier this year.

The additional recommendations detailed in the final report are:

  • Close schools only where students can transfer safely to higher-performing schools
  • Look beyond the utilization data to examine all relevant factors, including work done by communities, and the needs of students with disabilities
  • Complete the actions in one year or over two years
  • Spend the money to do it right
  • Create community-based committees to develop plans for vacated buildings

The report culminates four months of work by the Commission, an independent body comprised of eight members. In Phase I, the Commission, held 10 public hearings and data-gathering meetings across the city, listening and engaging stakeholders from the communities affected. Four public data-gathering sessions were held with researchers, academicians, CPS staff and the Chicago Teachers Union.

In Phase II, the Commission held meetings with Local School Councils and Community Action Councils. In addition, the public was able to engage in the process via the Commission’s Web site,

“There is no doubt in my mind that consolidation is a necessary step, and the Commission took seriously the task of tackling that difficult issue—not as decision-makers, but as facilitators,” said Clark.

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Magnet cluster/Open enrollment (aka “neighborhood schools” notification delayed until May Back to the begining (A Pre-K post)

220 Comments Add your own

  • 1. local  |  March 6, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    This was interesting (from Catalyst):

    Rod Estvan wrote 2 sec ago
    Tribune article was well done

    The Tribune’s education reporters deserve some praise for presenting the detailed analysis of the CPS 30 student class room measurement system today.

    These reporters also went further than that looking at the possible underlying premise of this utilization number of 30 students writing:

    “Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s push to close dozens of schools hinges on a vision of the “ideal” size for kindergarten through eighth-grade classes as 30 students, far larger than is the case now in the typical Chicago classroom.
    That round number — little mentioned despite months of public debate — provides the simplest explanation yet for parents, students and teachers trying to understand why their schools are among 129 that could face closing.
    A Tribune examination of that figure amid a blizzard of data offers new clarity about how Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett are framing their case for improving the school system and wrestling with a budget deficit they peg at $1 billion next year. The implications are significant. Setting a benchmark higher than what records indicate is reality across Chicago — and far higher than in many suburbs — indicates to some that Emanuel is willing to buck the popular notion that smaller classes produce better students who get more individual attention.”

    That is pretty powerful stuff, in particular because our prior Mayor and prior CEO’s consistently made keeping regular education class sizes down priority number one during the budget process. Are we ulimately looking not just at school consolidations, but rather at classroom consolidations?

    Many of us who have been around education for a while recall the class size effect debates. To teachers in urban settings these discussions seemed a form of insanity. Because it was obvious to teachers that they could teach more effectively to classrooms of fewer urban students than larger classrooms. But the test scores didn’t always back that up, but then test scores don’t reflect the ability of a teacher to have the time to really understand an urban child who comes to them with problems on top of problems. While classroom teachers don’t get paid to be social workers, they are often required to play that role in urban schools.

    The more faces in front of you, the less you will know about each of those children. Urban teaching is about more than achieving lesson objectives, its also about humanity. The more kids you face the less your ability to treat each child with the individual attention they deserve.

    Rod Estvan

  • 2. Vanessa  |  March 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Why can’t some of these schools be used as Classical or SEES/SEHS schools? Is it more a budget issue than underutilization?

  • 3. pantherparent  |  March 7, 2013 at 8:21 am

    The class size argument is always a difficult one as most parents assume that smaller is better. I mean it’s just common sense. Kids will get more time with a teacher, so it must be better. But does that translate into results? Not necessarily.

    The smaller class size argument is simplistic. Two classes of 15 are better than one class of 30. If that’s not backed up by test scores as mentioned by Rod Estvan in post 1, then blame the testing.

    Then trot out biased studies that support smaller class size while the other side trots out biased studies saying it doesn’t matter.

    30 to me seems like a fair number. On both the educational and business side.

  • 4. klm  |  March 7, 2013 at 11:00 am


    My first thought about class size is “Duh. Of course smaller is always better.”

    However, when people study these things (has has been done, Googling will show studies), the biggest factor by far is not the size of the classroom, but the effectiveness of the teacher.

    California made it a law in the 1990s for the first few grades to have low class sizes. However, when the results were studied, it didn’t seem to make any difference in student outcome, even for high-risk student populations. One big issue (obviously an unintended consequence of good intentions) was that in order to make classes smaller, lots of new teachers had to be hired fairly quickly. The problem is, most of these new teachers didn’t have much (if any) experience, so they hadn’t learned yet learned how to teach effectively (most studies find that the best teachers take several years to get their groove and discover how to teach well, which makes sense when you think about it) and could not be vetted well for potential effectiveness or dedication to their chosen field.

    Yes, in a perfect world kids would have small class sizes with effective, good teachers. However, these kinds of teachers are not a dime a dozen. We’ve all had “good” (thank-you Mrs. Axelrood, Detroit Public School 3rd great teacher –you are a saint!) and “bad” ones.

    It does seem like from what all I’ve read about the subject, it’s better to be a kid in a class of 30 with a good/effective teacher than in a classroom of 15 with a mediocre one that was hired just to make class sizes smaller. Even in low-income, high-risk schools.

    There are only so many experienced, effective teachers out there, so maybe it’s better to have more kids exposed to their proven pedagogy (even if it means larger class sizes), than to have fewer kids in front of more teachers that aren’t so effective.

    Again, this seems to go against the basic, seemingly obvious notion that a smaller class size will lead to a better outcome for individual students. Kids need individual attention to learn to read in their own way, do math, etc., especially if they’re not getting help at home, right? However, apparently it’s not necessarily the case.

  • 5. duh  |  March 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Stick with simplicity. It’s much easier to teach 15 kids how to throw a curve ball the correct way than it is teaching it to 30. Why do you think coaches have assistants?

  • 6. Family Friend  |  March 7, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    My husband and I went to Catholic schools in the 50s. I was at a private school, so most of the time my class size was small, but it was up to 43 in 7th grade and 38 in 8th grade. My husband had 55 kids in his class, from 1st through 8th grade. I was bright and eager and always at the top of my class. It probably would not have mattered how many kids there were in the class. My husband had an undiagnosed aural processing problem, and he struggled. They simply accused him of being lazy, because his IQ was high. Maybe they were not able to do more than that in the 50s. His brother and sisters did very well in the same school. My husband struggled until he was in law school, when he finally learned how to learn. So I don’t think there is one simple answer for class size. If kids have enough individual attention (including from their parents), especially when they are learning the basics in the primary grades, I believe large classes can work. But when a teacher, year after year, gets a majority of kids that, for one reason or another, are not prepared for what they have to do, it’s nearly impossible to catch up, let alone move ahead, with a large class.

  • 7. junior  |  March 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    @5 duh

    Thanks. We could have asked these kids the question if we wanted the simple answer:

    But the question is never whether it is better to have more teachers or less teachers — the question is where do we spend our educational dollars to best serve our children. And that is a complex one, as summarized in the link in my next post.

  • 9. klm  |  March 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm


    I know parents that can’t parent one kid properly.

    I also know a family of several kids that should write books on the subject, so good is the parenting in their household. Dr. Phil could learn from them. Really.

    I’d rather one of my kids be taken care of by one of the “big family” parents, even with all the other kids around, than some of the screaming, ineffective, stressed-out parents of “only children” I know.

    In theory, yes, it’s a no-brainer: smaller is better, easier, more effective, etc. That’s why people hire “private” tutors, right? However, that’s assuming that the teacher, coach, parent, etc., is equally effective in each example. That’s the rub. All teachers, parents, coaches, etc., are not as equally effective, no matter the number of charges in their care. Some people can’t coach one kid effectively, much less 20 kids on a team. Some can and do, very well.

    Full disclosure: I am not a perfect parent. Having several kids of my own has given me great respect to all those teachers out there that are able to do their job it well, day after day, year after year. Being a middle-aged adult, I know that it takes more than good grades from a name college to be able to connect with children and shape them effectively. Teaching young children effectively is a gift that not everybody has and doesn’t necessarily correlate with a really high GRE score or whether one was a Phi Beta Kappa at Wesleyan or “B minus” student at NIU. As a person who has always valued education and admired people for their individual success, it’s been hard for me to accept such facts. A friend of mine who has always been successful (Stanford, Michigan Law Review, Big Name Law Firm, etc.) has been humbled by parenting –for the first time she feels like she can’t do something well, is overwhelmed, etc. People tell you how hard parenting is, but one thinks: I’m smart, successful, etc., I’ll be good at that too… until one realizes how different book learning is from the actual hands on part of effectively parenting screaming, irrational, egotistic, crying (i.e., normal) children that need, want and deserve all your time and energy. .

    If it were easy to be a good parent, it wouldn’t mean anything.

    The same goes for teaching.

    I think that’s hard for successful, smart, educated people to accept at times: I’m successful, so I’ll be a good parent, teacher, coach,… right? Not necessarily.

    I think some of this is hard to put a finger on, but we all know it when we see it.

    Personally, I’d rather my own kids be taught in a class of 30 kids by an awesome teacher than by a frazzled, mediocre teacher in a class of 15 or even 10.

  • 10. pantherparent  |  March 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    @5 duh The real question is whether you would want one coach who can throw a great curveball showing 30 kids how to do it, or 2 coaches who throw average curveballs showing 15 kids each?

  • 11. junior  |  March 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    No. That’s not apples-to-apples. One of the scenarios you list costs twice as much as the other. The question is should you take the lower-cost option and then invest the money you saved into other things that would improve the kids’ curveball.

  • 12. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    As klm writes and as the Brookings paper notes, the problem with striving for lower class sizes as a state-wide or city-wide policy is that resources are limited. Ceteris paribus, reducing class size means hiring more teachers. Unless there are new funds, other items gets cut. This was the basis of much opposition to the 7.5-hour school day: there was little research showing a strong positive effect for longer days, and CPS was rolling out longer days without new funding. So something had to give elsewhere.

    The other problem is that class-size reductions must be substantial for there to be an effect, and usually the reductions are modest. The Tennessee Project STAR experiment was notable because the reduction was usually 8-9 students fewer, with less than 20 students in the small class. No one seriously proposes that Chicago would have most K-3 classrooms with 20 or fewer students in each. Dropping two to three students, like Florida did in some schools, is too small a change.

    The other issue is teacher load (how many students is a teacher responsible for in a grading period). This applies more to middle school and HS, but if you have four classes of 25 students each, you are worse off than if you had three classes of 30 students each.

  • 13. luveurope  |  March 7, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I’d rather one of my kids be taken care of by one of the “big family” parents, even with all the other kids around, than some of the screaming, ineffective, stressed-out parents of “only children” I know. PLEASE don’t even try to hand this off as an only child thing. that was the dumbest comment so far. every family/situation is different…yes, in large familes kids learn to be independent early cuz they have to, and the parents usually are numb to most of what goes on around them. I know I grew up in one of those big, not much supervision households. yes, it was big fun. however, I have one child and don’t appreciate only children stereotypes. most people don’t need a brood especially when they have the sense to know how expensie life can be.

  • 14. Paul  |  March 7, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    I always liked the two knucklehead rule for optimum class size. A retired principal posted about that awhile back on another blog. If the vast majority of the class were well-behaved kids, you could have a class size of 30, 35, or 40. The teacher could separate the knuckleheads and keep teaching the class. Once you add that third knucklehead, you have a problem. You can’t get enough distance between the kids and it’s more difficult to keep the class on track. If you have four or five knuckleheads in a class of 30, your class size is too big. You need to split the class into two classes of 15, and make sure there are only 2 knuckleheads in each class. Then, you’re back to the optimum class size.

  • 15. klm  |  March 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm


    Jeez Louise…lighten up a bit.

    I have no idea how you understood what I said as a dig to parenting an only child. I was talking about the job certain adults do as parents, which parallels teaching kids in a classroom, in some ways. Some do a good job, others don’t.

  • 16. RL Julia  |  March 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I don’t think klm meant her example as a dig at one child families.

  • 17. duh  |  March 7, 2013 at 6:39 pm


    Any great coach who knows how to throw a great curveball will be the first to tell you that not all kids have the potential, desire, discipline, or parental support to help them improve their curveball. That is precisely why they have assistant coaches helping with equally important facets of the game such as hitting, fielding, running, etc.

  • 18. pantherparent  |  March 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    @ 17: That’s exactly my point. There are a limited number of students that have the desire and discipline to excel at school. So breaking them into smaller groups doesn’t increase the number of those students, it just doubles your cost, as @11 junior pointed out.

  • 19. Just another parent  |  March 7, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I think that big classes could work with paid assistants that would be compensated less than teachers. Just the mechanics of getting projects set up, papers and workbooks simply takes more time with more kids. Having volunteered in a well managed kindergarten, I can say that there are some things that do require one to one attention and if you have 3-5 children who are particularly immature or did not get social skills from preK that it would be pretty hard. It seems reasonable that the more kids in K, the fewer complicated activities can be executed without more adults to help. This suggests an inherent reduction in quality regardless of whether it is a high quality teacher.

  • 20. anonymouse teacher  |  March 7, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    It is a false choice to say “I’d rather have 30 in a class with a good teacher than 15 in a class with a mediocre one”. Why not compare apples to apples? I’d rather have 15 in a class with a good teacher than 30 in a class with a good teacher. Heck, I’d rather have 15 in a class with a mediocre teacher than 30 in a class with a mediocre teacher. Of course, the issue is money, as it always is. I wish schools could offer teachers the option of a reduction in pay for less students. I’d take that in a second.

  • 21. Chicago Mama  |  March 7, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    @20, that is an interesting model – per pupil salaries.

    @19, you raise a good point. Ask anyone at an overcrowded school how hectic and time-consuming it is to move large numbers of students around the school for lunch, recess, enrichment, etc. Things often become more complicated with more bodies.

  • 22. local  |  March 7, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    @ 18. pantherparent | March 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    “There are a limited number of students that have the desire and discipline to excel at school.”

    Oh, that’s complicated. Each student’s desire and discipline to excel at school. A dissertation, maybe.

  • 23. cpsobsessed  |  March 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    ok, here’s a question about moving large groups of students from place to place for any teachers on here. My son’s class is notorious for being talkers. They’re all very talky. No “knuckleheads” in the class (love that term!) but just sociable. It’s oddly skewed to kids who are the oldest or only in the family so I think they’re all used to being listened to.

    Anyhow, their new teacher has struggled all year with getting them to walk silently to the lunchrooms, which is probably an 8 minute walk. She wants silence and if anyone talks they return to the classroom and start over. My son (who of course is NEVER the talker (yeah right)) is frustrated because they end up with a short lunch because they inevitably someone starts to talk among the 30 of them (fourth graders.)

    Any suggestions? Not that I know if she’d be open to any ideas but I’m just curious how one would conquer this. She’s very on top of classroom control (to the extent that she’s probably somewhat insane after having this class of kids) but it sounds like this is the ongoing vexing problem.

  • 24. local  |  March 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    My 4th grade teacher had a “self-discipline list” she updated each week, where we had to self report how well we followed the school rules and good behaviors. I don’t think there were any rewards – just the list on the board with your mark for the week. It seemed to work well enough.

  • 25. tchr  |  March 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    I would say that as a teacher I fall somewhere in the range of decent to good. Only a few years in so I know I am not stellar. And I teach in a rough school that commonly has 30+ kids with well over “3 knuckleheads” per class. I can manage my class fine. And my kids do well. I have seen enormous growth this year. I am very excited.

    But I won’t be able to do this forever. I am young, unmarried, and no kids of my own. Teaching in a school like this is abuse. Turnover is high at schools like mine for a reason. There can be great amazing teachers that can AND do teach classrooms of 30 challenging students (I would say the majority of the teachers at my school), but they will soon find jobs that pay more, have less kids, or have more supports (principals that help, teacher aides, counselors, parental support).
    Given the opportunity, good teachers will leave. This leaves the schools with new tethers still trying to figure out how to teach. I see it happen at my school every time there is a vacancy.
    Looking to next school year, I wonder how many of my colleagues will stay. How many new teachers will we hire next year? And I think about what kind of summer “PD” (lectures) will we have about how we need to do better this upcoming year.
    If CPS or my school actually spent time or money on real PD and we learned how to be better instructors instead of complaining about our test scores…. Maybe if where I worked was a positive place where people enjoyed working, not so many people would leave every year and we wouldn’t have to start from square 1.

  • 26. CarolA  |  March 7, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    CPSO: I’m not one who likes punishing the whole class for the acts of a few. Given that scenario and nothing more or less, as a teacher, I’d walk BEHIND the class rather than in front of them. I’d pick the two children who I know won’t talk to be the line leaders. Then watching from behind, I’d pick out the talkers and walk back with only them. Honestly, I get the teacher’s frustration, but I think there’s a fine line for her if they are always having a shortened lunch. Taking minutes away from their recess may be a better solution even if it means it takes time away from her lunch for a week or so. I had a few problems of my own, but they were solved quickly when they couldn’t go to recess with the others. They returned to my classroom and wrote about how they could change their behavior. Yes, I gave up my lunch, but it only took a few days before they knew I meant business. No problems since. Besides, I got things done in my room while they were writing. I’ve learned over the years that yelling at kids doesn’t help at all. Our lockers are on another floor and when they are noisy, we just stop in our tracks and wait. I don’t have to say a word. The others have been trained to put two fingers in the air showing the peace sign and that means to quiet down. Soon we are moving again. If they talk again, we stop. Then I send down the students who are standing nicely and the others wait. Again, I lose my lunch time myself, but that’s the trade off. It doesn’t take long for them to learn. Consistency is the key.That’s my take on it not knowing what she’s already tried.

  • 27. Neighborhood parent  |  March 7, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    in reference to 13 – can we vote folks “off the island”?
    seriously, you took that analogy as a “dig” on singletons?

    I have to say the Frank Clark knows how to deliver his remarks/quotes. I saw him at one of the “utilization” meetings (really a gym full of frustrated parents & teachers yelling at his panel)… and had little faith that he “got it”.
    As for class sizes, it’s all “local”. Exception of magnets/SEES… but neighborhood management of class sizes is very random. Ex. 1, Have an AP friend on the northwest side that tried to peg class sizes and guessed wrongly for 3rd/4th grade and ended up with very small classes ( might have used the $$ to assist with whole school) Ex.2, my Daughters 1st grade class is 29 (as are the neighboring classrooms) but the 2nd grade classrooms are 22ish. The principal took in lottery apps for both grades and had more enrollments with the 1st grade. The system with summertime guessing, 20th day budgeting, and monetary budgets that are due before principal “knows their numbers” is crazy.

  • 28. anonymouse teacher  |  March 7, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Our class sizes at my school are all over the place too, @27. We have some grades with 24, some with 33 and one grade level that is nearly at 40. Its a combo of kids transferring in last minute, that we just don’t have one more room to put anyone (we can’t get rid of the computer lab because it is used for testing 16-18 weeks every school year, all day long and our laptops don’t function well enough to be used instead), and just luck of the draw some years.
    Sometimes, I look around at all the non-homeroom teachers we have and think, gosh, if we didn’t have any “specials”, any bilingual or ESL, any sped, and counselor/case manager/etc, simply by splitting kids evenly between all available teachers, we’d have an average class size of about 13-16. With numbers like that, I could easily teach my own gym, art, music, and could provide accommodations and interventions for all my ESL and sped kids. It would mean no prep, but with that few kids, I wouldn’t need a prep. I could basically give each child their own individual instruction everyday.
    I think it is no secret that I am not a charter fan, but I wonder if anyone has ever operated a charter under this kind of model. That is something I could get behind. I don’t know, just a thought.

  • 29. duh  |  March 7, 2013 at 11:37 pm


    Excellent points.

  • 30. LR  |  March 7, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    I am on board with closing some schools. However, 40 kids per classroom should be against the law. Regardless of whether the teacher can manage or not, I think safety becomes an issue. Perhaps there needs to be a law defining students per square foot in a classroom? Have Illinois legislators ever attempted to introduce a law that defines how many kids can be in a classroom? Given how strongly people feel, I think this one would have overwhelming support from constituents.

  • 31. cpsobsessed  |  March 8, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Yay! Eric Zorn weighs in on the class size thing. He is not a fan of the 40 kids per class, pointing out that it’s bad news for less-advantaged kids (and CPS has a lot of those.) He wonder why there was the push for a longer day only to start cramming kids into bigger classes and reverse any positive effects from the longer day (assuming those have happened.)

    He says:
    “Now they’re pushing ahead with a plan that seems equally, if not more likely, to cheat children, stuffing them into classrooms swollen well above the state average size while airily implying that the extra numbers of students vying for attention won’t be a problem for “high-quality” teachers.” Ouch.,0,6164798.column

  • 32. FP  |  March 8, 2013 at 6:58 am

    You are right— class size isn’t the problem, it’s teacher effectiveness. I taught at a catholic school where I had 36 students and I knew everyone of them and they scored well and/or improved significantly.

  • 33. FP  |  March 8, 2013 at 7:08 am


    That knucklehead theory is SO true. However, I have learned from experience that sometimes a knucklehead is a knucklehead because he’s bored. Some children make a teacher have to go to their bag of tricks. A skilled teacher 75% of the time can motivate knuckleheads into being a good student.

  • 34. anonymouse teacher  |  March 8, 2013 at 7:17 am

    @30. There is fire code that requires a certain square footage per student. It is ignored.

  • 35. Help  |  March 8, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Will any schools on the North or Northwest sides of the city be closed?

  • 36. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 8, 2013 at 8:49 am

    #35.Help. I believe 7 schools are the list of closing for the North & Northwest sides.

  • 37. junior  |  March 8, 2013 at 11:16 am

    @31 cpso/32 FP

    I think the discussion of 40 students per class is a straw man here (Becky Carroll’s comment is perhaps poor judgement in choosing her words, but there is no evidence that we’re heading toward that number).

    Certainly class sizes won’t go down. I’d assume they will probably inch up. Regarding class size vs. teacher effectiveness, in effect CPS has chosen to prioritize teacher quality over class size by keeping teachers at the top of national pay scale.

    There some modest research-based evidence that suggests that doing that is not a bad strategy in general; however — and this is a huge caveat — given that we do not have in CPS a system that does a good job of differentiating good and bad teachers, as well as the fact that teachers are compensated on the same scale despite their assessed quality — one has to question whether prioritizing teacher effectiveness in such a system is a wise strategy.

    In some of the research, hiring more teachers to reduce class sizes did not have positive impact because the new hires tended to be of lower quality than the existing teachers. So, taking kids out of a good teacher’s class to put them in a smaller class with a weaker teacher did not have good results. Likewise, one must ask, if you hired a whole new cohort of teachers in CPS, what would the applicant pool be like??? Furthermore, one has to ask, if there is a need to increase class sizes, can we effectively mitigate the negative effects by making sure that the teachers we eliminate are the least-effective ones???

  • 38. liza  |  March 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

    @23 CPSO Like Carol mentioned, I was told (by my mother, who was a phenomenal teacher) never, ever walk in front of your class line. You walk somewhere in the middle to back. You split your non-problematic kids in the very front or at the end, and you keep the possible problems right with you in the middle. It always amazed me when I saw teachers 10 feet ahead of their class and clueless that Johnny was hitting pushing Suzy, or watching kids horseplaying on the stairs, an accident just waiting to happen, and a few times it did. I never wanted to tell the principal or a parent their child fell down the stairs, but I didn’t really see what happened.
    Another strategy I used was every day they made it up and down the stairs and hallways to lunch or specials without a problem, they “earned” 5 minutes of free time for Friday. It worked out really well, I broke the 25 minutes into two sessions and pulled small groups that needed some extra help while the other students either worked on a small group project or played math or reading related games and then rotated so everyone got their “game” time. (I also told them being in the hall was like when you were going to your old aunt’s house, or church, or somewhere and your parents would tell you there would be consequences if you weren’t on your best behavior!) It worked for me!

  • 39. junior  |  March 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

    @23 cpso

    Why are the kids not allowed to talk in the hallways? Is it a passing period, or are there classes in session?

  • 40. Family Friend  |  March 8, 2013 at 11:51 am

    CPSO: I like CarolA’s solution to your son’s “social” class issue. I think it’s also important to note that allowing the kids to talk to control the entire class is not a good precedent. The “good” kids should call the shots, so to speak.l

  • 41. Family Friend  |  March 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    @28 anonymouse teacher: most charters operate under some version of your idea, without the small class sizes — because they don’t have money for art, music, and even P.E. teachers. CPS charter elementary schools receive less in per pupil funding than the state-required minimum for charters (CPS denies it, but can’t explain how they are not in violation), which is only 75% of the per-pupil for regular CPS schools. Counseling and social work is tied solely to special ed at most elementary charters. Having a case manager is essential, even without specific funding, because otherwise you find yourself out of compliance with federal law — there is just too much paperwork. My daughter is a counselor at a regular CPS elementary school and she does very little counseling, because her primary duty is case management, plus being in charge of testing. She joked that last week there was a meeting that required the attendance of the case manager, the counselor, and the person in charge of testing, so it was a very efficient use of her time!

  • 42. Family Friend  |  March 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    @37 junior: very well reasoned. Why prioritize teacher effectiveness if you are unable or unwilling to differentiate between effective and ineffective teachers?

  • 43. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    #41~it’s no secret that charters get 75% of per-pupil. They tried getting 100% but were denied and with very good reason~they get private funds that CPS doesn’t get and there is NO transparency in how they do their books. Look at the UNO scandal~that’s what happens when you give public funds to private hands. Bc of this scandal~UNO has just decided to let charter teachers and staff be part of of a union.

  • 44. duh  |  March 8, 2013 at 12:15 pm


    Dollars to donuts the ancillary teachers will soon be disappearing. Sadly, those teachers won’t be replaced with gen ed teachers in order to decrease class sizes. Provocative idea. Too much space for so few children, some believe. However, class sizes will increase due to futuristic cuts in certain areas. Take a look at what is being proposed in Springfield with special education.

  • 45. junior  |  March 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    @42 Family Friend

    Thanks for restating the point much more succinctly than I was able to!

  • 46. SutherlandParent  |  March 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    @28, there’s a definite range of class sizes at our school, too. In order to explain the two grades that have always had an exceptionally large number of students, I’ve heard the “blizzard the year before/Y2K panic” theories, which probably make as much sense as anything else 🙂

  • 47. Neighborhood parent  |  March 8, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Junior @ 37 – I agree with you about the straw man. I think the “40” comment is distracting from the real issues:
    CPS’s management/decision-making on the closing list
    Gov.’s budget show’s approx. 3% cut to Education

  • 48. NW Chicago Mom  |  March 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I am shocked how willing people are to accept high class sizes in CPS, especially in the young grades. As noted above, the California study employed many extra teachers who may not have been highly qualified, but the Tennessee class size study showed a strong impact on class size.

    The Tennessee class size project is a three-phase study designed to determine the effect of smaller class size in the earliest grades on short-term and long-term pupil performance. The first phase of this project, termed Project STAR (for Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio), was begun in 1985, when Lamar Alexander was governor of Tennessee. Governor Alexander, who later served as secretary of education in the cabinet of President George Bush, had made education a top priority for his second term. The legislature and the educational community of Tennessee were mindful of a promising study of the benefits of small class size carried out in nearby Indiana, but were also aware of the costs associated with additional classrooms and teachers. Wishing to obtain data on the effectiveness of reduced class size before committing additional funds, the Tennessee legislature authorized this four-year study in which results obtained in kindergarten, first, second, and third grade classrooms of 13 to 17 pupils were compared with those obtained in classrooms of 22 to 25 pupils and in classrooms of this larger size where the teacher was assisted by a paid aide. Both standardized and curriculum-based tests were used to assess and compare the performance of some 6,500 pupils in about 330 classrooms at approximately 80 schools in the areas of reading, mathematics, and basic study skills. After four years, it was clear that smaller classes did produce substantial improvement in early learning and cognitive studies and that the effect of small class size on the achievement of minority children was initially about double that observed for majority children, but in later years, it was about the same. The second phase of the project, called the Lasting Benefits Study, was begun in 1989 to determine whether these perceived benefits persisted. Observations made as a part of this phase confirmed that the children who were originally enrolled in smaller classes continued to perform better than their grade-mates (whose school experience had begun in larger classes) when they were returned to regular-sized classes in later grades. Under the third phase, Project Challenge, the 17 economically poorest school districts were given small classes in kindergarten, first, second, and third grades. These districts improved their end-of-year standing in rank among the 139 districts from well below average to above average in reading and mathematics.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

  • 49. anonymouse teacher  |  March 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    @42, except now with the new Danielson framework, teachers (tenured or not) can be let go fairly easily if principals do their job. Its in the contract and it is being implemented this year. So teacher effectiveness, at least as seen through one administrator’s eyes, is being measured and has consequences to it in a way that has not been possible in the past. I believe my administrator is using it to rid our school of one of my grade level colleagues. (and in this case, I believe it is the right thing to do, the teacher is a nightmare) If an admin cannot dismiss a teacher with Danielson, then the principal is ineffective and it is the responsibility of the LSC to rid themselves of the principal. And if the LSC doesn’t do it, then that responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the LSC.

    But again, why does it have to be a choice between 30 kids with an effective teacher and 15 with a mediocre one? Why are we not concentrating on BOTH limiting class sizes and teacher effectiveness?

    And no, I wasn’t seriously suggesting we go without a case manager counselor–I do understand the law–, I was merely pointing out that sometimes, we load our schools up with tons of resource teachers (who are wonderful), when I have to wonder if those dollars that go towards hiring resource teachers might be better spent reducing class sizes. I am very aware that case managers in CPS are pretty much paper chasers due to the way things are structured. (no fault of their own) The same thing can be said for a number of other positions in CPS. Librarians don’t really get to use their skills, instead they are used, at best, as additional literacy teachers and at worst, as “ensure homeroom teachers get a prep” teachers, instead of librarians. The computer teacher at our school spends 16 weeks per year administering tests in the lab. Yes, 16/40 weeks, we just discussed this last week. She is essentially a test teacher. She only gets to instruct about half the year.

  • 50. Jill W  |  March 8, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    @23 cpsobssed – why on earth is it a priority for your child’s teacher to have the children walk silently for eight minutes? What a wasted opportunity for learning time. At my daughter’s elementary school the children would sing songs (in the lower grades) or engage in banter like quizzing kids on math facts.

    @49 anonymouse – principals tell me the new teacher eval system makes it harder to counsel out teachers, particularly PATs. The timing requirements make it a logistical nightmare.

  • 51. WorkingMommyof2  |  March 8, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    The quiet walking in the hallways likely stems from a few things:

    1) The lunch periods are staggered so many other classes in the building are in session and could be disturbed.

    2) There are frequently multiple classes moving (to lunch, to recess, to specials) at any given time. Also lots of kids heading to the bathroom in pairs. Could get pretty chaotic without silence.

    3) Coonley is at capacity, which means when they are doing one-on-one testing or aides working with kids who have special needs, that usually takes place at tables in the hallways.

    My Pre-K students there have been taught to “catch a bubble in their mouth and keep it in” when walking through the hallways. 🙂

  • 52. anonymouse teacher  |  March 8, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    @50, interesting. My principal has no problem getting rid of PATs. She has let go 1-2 untenured teachers every year for years. The timing requirements are a nightmare, though, you are right. A principal has to be extremely organized to implement this very difficult system. The workload involved for principals is shocking to begin with, and this just makes it worse.

  • 53. local  |  March 8, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Hyde Park parents discuss the school situation:

  • 54. athens  |  March 9, 2013 at 12:34 am

    @49 If an admin cannot dismiss a teacher with Danielson, then the principal is ineffective”
    – only if you are a PAT, if you are tenure you are untouchable for this year and next.. Has nothing to do with the principal’s effectiveness

  • 55. CarolA  |  March 9, 2013 at 7:49 am

    @51 WorkingMomof2: You are exactly correct in why there needs to be as little talking as possible when passing in the hallways. Back when I had to do DIBELS testing, I had to do it in the hallway and it was terrible for the children because they were constantly distracted by people walking by and classes passing.
    @54 athens: Maybe they can’t get rid of them this year, but they can easily lay the groundwork for the future. Also, this year would be difficult for principals to dismiss a bad teacher because of all the paperwork they have to do with this new rating system for all teachers. Previous years would have been much easier (even though lazier principals might say different) should they have chosen that route. Takes time, organization, and consistency, but our principal got rid of two different teachers using the old system.

  • 56. anonymouse teacher  |  March 9, 2013 at 8:14 am

    @54, my principal is working towards getting rid of a teacher at my school (tenured) at great risk to her career (she’s being threatened with a lawsuit by the teacher and to her credit, she is not being cowed by this). Effective principals can and do get rid of both tenured and non-tenured teachers under the old and the new system. I have seen it with my eyes. It has everything to do with principal effectiveness.

    The new system might take time to work through, but if a principal is documenting and giving bad ratings, with time, even tenured teachers can be let go. I actually love my principal and her willingness to do the hard thing and get rid of the small number of bad teachers that I’ve seen in my school is one of the reasons why.

  • 57. Family Friend  |  March 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

    @43 SoxSideIrish: as I have said many times, the amount of private funds that charters get is far from making up for the underfunding. And I did not say that charter schools get 75%. I said that elementary schools chartered by CPS often get LESS than the statutory minimum of 75%, because of CPS’ “creative accounting.” It is not true that there is no transparency to charter schools’ finances. Charter schools must submit annual budgets to CPS. They must submit annual financial reports to CPS. Those documents are available via the Freedom of Information Act, from either CPS or the individual charter. I commented on the UNO situation earlier — if there were no transparency, how would we know about the contracts with d’Escoto?

  • 58. IBobsessed  |  March 9, 2013 at 9:49 am

    @57 Would you agree that that the finances of a charter school are less transparent to parents and and to the community in the sense that one must submit an FOIA request? Isn’t the budget of non Charters intimately known and debated on by the LSC members who are parents, teachers and community members? Charters have no LSC. This is a sincere question. I really am seeking to understand the difference in charters v non charters. I volunteer at a charter.

  • 59. Family Friend  |  March 9, 2013 at 9:57 am

    @49 anonymouse teacher: The key phrase in your post is “if principals do their job.” That is where the system can and will break down, if principals don’t get the right kind of support from higher up and from the teachers whose jobs are made harder by ineffective colleagues, and if there are inadequate consequences for failing to do their jobs. Also, we should emphasize that Danielson is not simply, or mainly, a means to identify and week out ineffective teachers, but a method to improve teachers who need help.

  • 60. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 9, 2013 at 10:23 am

    #57~Family Friend~Charters have already been determined to receive more money from corp for schooling, but what was exposed was that they were paying their execs more and not putting into schooling. That will change I’m sure now that Chicago ART is in the picture for UNO anyway. The Suntimes exposed the UNO scandal. I guess if there budget is ‘transparent’, which it’s been stated that it isn’t, then Rahm knew abt all the contracts and thought that was acceptable. That’s something to think abt. Juan Rangel is probably allowing a teachers in a union bc of his favoritism to family and friends~probably bc so many ppl wer calling on IL Atty Gen~considering during the teacher’s strike ~ he didn’t believe in unions.

  • 61. Family Friend  |  March 9, 2013 at 10:26 am

    @58 IBobsessed: The charter budgets are presented at board meetings, but no one from the public ever comes. These are announced a minimum of 48 hours in advance under the law. Schools with someone regularly updating their websites (we’re working on that) post meeting times on the web. At my school, and at most charters, regular meetings are set a year in advance (1st Tuesday of every other month, 6 pm at the school, for us). We have a philosophy of trying to accommodate people who request information — rather than, say, limiting the response to the exact thing requested, we always say, “call us if this is not what you are looking for or if you want more information.” We were blindsided a couple of years ago by an article in the Reader that labeled us “uncooperative,” when the reporter did not follow up on that offer, which was made by our Executive Director in a phone conversation. Additionally, the Illinois State Board of Education gets these reports and may be another source of information. Our teachers’ salaries are reported publicly by the Teachers Retirement Fund, available on the TRF website. It’s a giant document that you can sort by school, etc. etc. etc.

    In order to be considered financially sound, charters are expected to have a certain amount of cash on hand, so our financial report should show a surplus. Our charter would be at risk of non-renewal if we did not have a “rainy day fund.” Regular district schools, on the other hand, are expected to spend all their money every year. We have to consider our teachers’ seniority (and salary) when making hiring decisions; regular district schools, at least so far, get “positions” and can hire a more experienced teacher without cutting back elsewhere. It’s a different approach to planning and staffing.

    If you want to see the budget and financial reports of the school where you volunteer, ask. It’s completely reasonable for you to want to understand where the money comes from and where it goes, compared to your neighborhood school. Some schools may be defensive, because charters are attacked all the time on every front, but openness on your part should bring an open response.

  • 62. Family Friend  |  March 9, 2013 at 10:37 am

    @60 SoxSide Irish: I don’t understand what you are saying. I am very familiar with what charters receive, and the actual numbers do not support receipt of large corporate dollars. My school received startup funds, but other than that has received absolutely nothing from corporations. I am trying to think of corporate donations to other charter schools — none come to mind. Please be specific when you make these statements. “Have already been determined” by whom? Where is it published? Does it give corporate names and amounts? There are definitely some big private donors (not to my school, unfortunately), but I am not aware of any corporation, or even a foundation, that regularly donates to charter schools.

    Whether Rahm knew about the contracts between UNO and d’Escoto is debatable. I doubt he gets involved in that level of detail. However, I am absolutely certain that state law requires that every contract be awarded in an open meeting and reflected in the minutes, which must be available to the public and filed annually with CPS. And CPS reads them — a couple of years ago I was very sick for a long time and I missed a number of meetings. Unfortunately, our board was very thin at the time and my absence sometimes caused us to lack a quorum — we could not take any action at several meetings. We definitely heard about this from CPS, and ended up reducing the size of our board so we could make up a quorum with people we could count on to show up up (which, once again, includes me).

    It’s not Juan Rangel’s choice to allow or not allow a teacher’s union. If charter school teachers want to unionize, they have the right.

  • 63. Family Friend  |  March 9, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Correction — I meant, other than startup funds, I am not aware or a corporation or foundation that regularly donates to charter schools.

  • 64. local  |  March 9, 2013 at 10:55 am

    @ 57. Family Friend | March 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Is sounds like the current charter school financial model is unsustainable, then. True?

  • 65. local  |  March 9, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I’m delighted to see AA history slated to be included throughout the school year in IL, and I’d also like to see labor history taught. It’s horribly neglected.

  • 66. local  |  March 9, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Anyone need help on FOIAing? See this site and this event:


    2) FOIA Fest!

    In light of Sunshine Week, the Chicago Headline Club is rolling out its first annual FOIA FEST.

    a) The Better Government Association’s Andy Shaw will help us kick off the week with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 11 at the auditorium of Columbia College Chicago’s journalism school, 33 E. Congress Pkwy., 2nd floor. Food and refreshments will be served.

    b) On Tuesday, March 12, Citizen Advocacy Center’s Terry Pastika, the Northwestern University Knight Lab’s Joe Germuska and Smart Chicago Collaborative’s Dan O’Neil will discuss efforts to influence policy and legislation and how technology can improve access to public records. Food and refreshments will be served at the event, from 6:45 to 8 p.m. at the auditorium of Columbia College Chicago’s journalism school, 33 E. Congress Pkwy., 2nd floor.

    c) On Wednesday, March 13, an all-star cast of Chicago journalists — NBC5 investigative producer Katy Smyser, Gary Marx and David Jackson of the Chicago Tribune and WBEZ’s Rob Wildeboer — along with Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office will meet and offer tips and strategies for prying government records loose. Light snacks and refreshments will be served at the event from 6 to 8 p.m. in WBEZ’ community room at Navy Pier.

    Cost: Free to all!

    Hope to see you there!

  • 67. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 9, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Family friend~isn’t this when it started and like the article~many ppls fears have come true~private groups are buying influence Charters will buy the CPS schools and then rent them out to CPS for much more, thereby making millions off CPS kids but NOT teaching them. That’s why some of the charters are being phased out~bc you have to teach the kids, not just take the money.

  • 68. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 9, 2013 at 11:09 am

    And Family Friend, it does seem as if Rahm knew abt the contracts. I never thought of that b4…he must have known and the alderman who founded UNO who said it’s deceptive practices must be held accountable. I think Rahm knew and he looked the other way/didn’t care. (just my opinion~but something to think abt).

  • 69. cpsobsessed  |  March 9, 2013 at 11:12 am$30-Million-Credit-Support-Agreement-to-Secure-$300-Million-in-Charter-School-Facility-Financing

    I guess I just thought it was a common assumption that the charters are funded somehow. The Gates foundation and I believe the foundation run by the Walmart/Walton family are supporters. But your posts made me wonder for the first time about how/where the money get funneled in. I guess I assumed that Kipps, UNO, the other biggies, Harlem Childrens’ Zone, etc are funded at a high level which helps pay for the administrators, marketing, etc. Do small local charters get any foundation money? Grants maybe?

  • 70. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 9, 2013 at 11:22 am

    CPSO~there are other corps part of ALEC that fund them. I think the only one charter I know of is Academy for Global Citizens This is a small school and one woman’s dream~not your typical corporate charter.

  • 71. local  |  March 9, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Are there two layers of money supporting the charter school movement? One (perhaps minimal) directly to the school (just at start-up?). The other at more a macro level that doesn’t get into the schools. IDK

  • 72. CarolA  |  March 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    @59 Family Friend: I believe the intent of the Danielson Framework is to help teachers become better (when used correctly). That is what all the memos to us, as teachers, have received. However, the reality is this: I prepared the pre-conference information with head nods from the principal (no input at all from him). He observed the lesson documenting minute by minute what he saw and matched it up with sections from the Framework. I prepared the post-conference information and reported my take on the lesson (no input from him). Then I received my rating. I am discussed with the way my school is conducting these observations. I don’t see any input from administration to suggest how they feel I could improve my lessons. My grade level friend asked at her conference why she was given a particular mark and how it could be improved. He suggested some things that WERE present in the lesson. She said that’s exactly what I did. Then he said, “Well, that’s about all you can do for this lesson.”. How is this helping us become better teachers? I’m all FOR getting ideas and learning HOW to improve lessons, but this system (as used by CPS) is not about that.

  • 73. CarolA  |  March 9, 2013 at 12:50 pm


  • 74. anonymouse teacher  |  March 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    @59, yes, Danielson was created to help teachers improve, but that is not the reality of how it is being used in CPS. Danielson, as it is being used currently in CPS is primarily an evaluation tool meant to keep teachers rated as proficient or distinguished and to rid schools of teachers rated as basic or below.

  • 75. local  |  March 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    There’s a long tradition in management that uses such tools like Danielson, meant for talent development, for inappropriate purposes (sanctions, employment determinations, etc.) instead. Many times, the creators of the original instrument wind up having to protest how the tool is (mis)used in the field.

  • 76. anonymouse teacher  |  March 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    @ local, yes, Danielson herself has repeatedly said the framework should not be used as an evaluation tool.

  • 77. KH  |  March 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I have a question regarding cosolidations and the rating system.

    My understanding is that teachers rated “proficient” and “distinguished” will be asked/required to move to the combined schools per the CPS/CTU CBA. Teachers who are “basic” or “below” will not be offered positions at the consolidated schools. Since they can’t be fired yet (the process hasn’t work through to that point) what will CPS do with them? Can they still be hired by other principals?

    How many of these teachers will there be if 80 schools are consolidated with other schools?

  • 78. southie  |  March 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Wouldn’t they sub?

  • 79. CarolA  |  March 9, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    That’s a tricky situation since this was a year we were not supposed to get rated (yet we were). They say it doesn’t count, but I don’t believe it for a moment for the teachers rated basic and unsatisfactory. If it is as the past, they would be put in some sort of pool for a year and then let go. Sometimes they sub, sometimes they stuff envelopes at Central Office. They used to get one day per week to “look” for a job. Good luck with that rating. However, unless the principal is crazy to try and rate a great teacher with basic or unsatisfactory, it’s probably likely they DO need to go. On the other hand, it IS being misused. I truly believe my principal rated our union rep quite high just to be able to say that he has nothing against the union when he tries to get rid of others. Kind of protection himself for the future. She good, but not better than the rest of her team(she’s not on my team so there’s no jealousy there). Yet, her rating is tons better than the others. Questionable I’d say, especially when the great majority of the rest of the teachers at the school are mainly proficient.

  • 80. southie  |  March 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I’ve heard CPS teachers report that if you’re rated basic or unsatisfactory, you likely will never work as a public school teacher (here or elsewhere) again after that year in the “pool.” Sad if you still have student loans for your teaching degree/s. Well, sad, no matter what. If we believe all children can be taught and learn, then I would guess that all teachers could be coached, resources, and supported to the point they can become good or excellent teachers.

  • 81. southie  |  March 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm


  • 82. KH  |  March 10, 2013 at 6:23 am

    southie, CaroleA – On a 0 to 100% or F to A+ scale where do “basic” and “unsatisfactory” fall? It is hard for us non-teachers to get a sense of what those categories really mean. Is “basic” the level where recently graduated teachers place, mostly, due to lack of classroom experience?

  • 83. CarolA  |  March 10, 2013 at 7:48 am

    @82KH: It’s a rather complicated system. You can look it up by searching Chicago Framework for Teaching. It will list all the categories and explanations for each. Basically, unsatisfactory is doing very little, basic is simply that…basic teaching, proficient means you meet the needs of most students, distinguished means you meet the needs of ALL students ALL the time. There are 4 DOMAINS. Each domain is weighted differently. 1 and 2 are each worth 25% of the final rating. 3 is worth 40% and 4 is worth 10%. 1-Planning and Preparing, 2-Classroom Environment, 3-Instruction, 4-Professional Responsibilities.

    There are many recently graduated teachers who are great and one can’t say that just because they are new, they would be basic. One also can’t say that just because a teacher is experienced they are proficient.

    In a hurry now, but can give an example from one category later today if you like.

  • 84. EdgewaterMom  |  March 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    @14. Paul I am just catching up on this thread, but I have to tell you that I love the “2 knucklehead rule”! Wouldn’t that be fun to try to implement!

  • 85. KH  |  March 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks Carol.

    In a typical school to how many “basic” or “satisfactory” teachers will there be? I would think that CPS will have to hire a similar number of either newly minted teachers or already laid-off teachers with good track records. Since the Danielson Framework is new you could end up with veteran new hires who who are only marginally better if at all better (rated satisfactory under the old rating system).

    How many new hires does the CTU expect? Have you heard any numbers? is it one or two times 80 schools or is it hundreds of new hires?

  • 86. CarolA  |  March 10, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    @85KH I don’t think I follow you. I’m not expecting ANY new hires for 2013-2014. If they close 80 schools, there will likely be quite a few teachers without jobs. I’m not real sure, but I think I remember the new contract stating that in the case of closed schools, only teachers rated under the old system as Superior or Excellent would have a chance at another job. Knowing something was about to change, my principal lowered a couple of teachers to Satisfactory last school year. We aren’t in danger of closing, but something is up. By the way, there isn’t any such thing as a “typical” CPS school. Location, location, location just like in real estate! CPS-wide, I’d be willing to guess that the teacher pool has a good majority of fantastic teachers, but there are definitely some that are below average due of lack of resources or discipline problems (refer to the knucklehead rule @14) or they are new to the field. Others just need to go.

  • 87. teacher  |  March 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    @33 “A skilled teacher 75% of the time can motivate knuckleheads into being a good student.” spoken like a non-teacher.

  • 88. teacher  |  March 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    @56-“my principal is working towards getting rid of a teacher at my school (tenured) at great risk to her career (she’s being threatened with a lawsuit by the teacher and to her credit, she is not being cowed by this).””

    Sounds like your principal is horrible at being professional, i.e…why do other teachers know about this private information?

  • 89. anonymouse teacher  |  March 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    @88, I know about this because I, unfortunately am involved. I have had to report very serious incidents involving this teacher and am considered a primary witness to the situation. Lawyers are involved, the union is involved, its a mess. Don’t assume something you don’t know the full story to. And on top of it all, the teacher who is in process of being removed is not shy about telling every single person in the building how she is being wronged, even though no one respects, likes or is willing to work with her. My principal is awesome.

  • 90. KH  |  March 11, 2013 at 8:27 am

    86. CarolA – The ratio of teachers to students is not changing and that is why CPS will have to hire teachers to replace those who are not moving with their students to the consolidated schools. Since, per the CTU/CPS Collective Bargaining Agreement, teachers in the two bottom performance tiers will not be invited to relocate I’m wondering how many of these teachers exist in the system.

    How many do you estimate there are? is it less than one or two in a 30 teacher school or would it be more like 10 or 15?

  • 91. IBobsessed  |  March 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Supposedly the “education sector” is now 9% of the GNP!?

    Regarding school funding, charters, and corporations:

  • 92. Paul  |  March 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    @84 EdgewaterMom, I loved that rule the first time I heard it too. Whenever the class size question comes up, that’s my answer: “two knuckleheads.”

  • 93. Paul  |  March 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    I think I traced the origin of the “Two-Knucklehead Rule” to a blog post by catbus four years ago here: (the post is about 3/4 down the page).

  • 94. KLewis??  |  March 12, 2013 at 8:07 am

    94 anyone see Karen Lewis last night on Chicago Tonight channel 11? She can’t answer questions directly.

  • 95. Edgewater parent  |  March 12, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Tribune has this article today:,0,993491.story

    Can anyone explain what this description means: “Magnet schools, International Baccalaureate programs and selective enrollment programs, all high performers in the district, would continue to be funded under the current system.”

    And then I begin to think this article is “much ado about nothin’ ” when JS provides this quote: “Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey expressed concern that the new funding plan “invites discrimination, as principals will have a built-in incentive to replace highly skilled-yet-expensive veterans with cheaper novices.”

    Don’t principals already have that difficult choice when stretching their discretionary dollars? What’s changed? Is this news or just a small meaningless “tinker” to the formula?

  • 96. KH  |  March 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    95. Edgewater parent – It is not just “tinkering” since it goes way beyond discretionary dollars. The principal will have much more choice on how to allocate their budgets not just the discretionary portion. It is similar to how the SEHS’s and other schools have operated for years (the old AMPS program see –

    It’s a good move but there will be many principals who will struggle since many have little real budgeting experience.

  • 97. local  |  March 12, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    “Can anyone explain what this description means: “Magnet schools, International Baccalaureate programs and selective enrollment programs, all high performers in the district, would continue to be funded under the current system.””

    I read that they get “extra funding” and that would not be jeopardized. Just the non-special schools will have the per-pupil system, from what it seems (but I have no idea).

  • 98. local  |  March 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Apparently it’s the per-pupil-funding system v. position-funding system.

  • 99. KH  |  March 12, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Under the current system the SEHS”s have negotiated for additional teaching positions based on specific needs such as extensive AP class offerings. Those positions could be underfunded if switching to a dollar per student system. Not that adjustments couldn’t be worked out but it would be a hassle for principals and the bean counters at Clark street. Additional teachers are the only “extra” funding that SEHS’s receive.

  • 100. AP Mama  |  March 12, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Did anyone see this? State legislators in the Black & Latino caucuses are asking for a mortorium on CPS school closing for the 2013-2014 school year. The state has also ordered CPS to draft its masters facilities 10-year plan by May (hmmm…this must have something to do with the 5/19 notification letters).

  • 101. local  |  March 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I wonder how per-pupil would play out for wall-to-wall IB. Maybe only the certified (?) IB programs would stay position-funded?

  • 102. Chicago Mama  |  March 13, 2013 at 12:57 am

    My understanding is that CPS is moving to a per-pupil funding formula. Which will be a nightmare for many principals who have no idea how to budget under these parameters. Central Office has a too much churn to be able to handle the move with adequate training either.

  • 103. local  |  March 13, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Plus, the money for each school will be going down anyway due to fiscal crisis at every level. So, there’s that.

  • 104. SR  |  March 13, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I heard a principal explain that the per-pupil funding will most negatively affect those schools that have a large homeless/shelter population. The school will receive funding for the students there on the 20th day, but when a child leaves (as is common with homeless kids) the money gets taken back from the school. Then when new kids come to the shelter and enroll, the school doesn’t get new funding. I don’t know much about school budgeting, but I can imagine that a per-pupil funding system is much more challenging for principals in schools with high mobility rates.

  • 105. Family Friend  |  March 13, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Catching up . . .

    @64 local: Yes, many charters face dire economic issues. Last night, the board I am on voted to change our enrollment policy – we will now take new students in grades 5 through 11, rather than 5 through 7. This means that we won’t have enough time to prepare some of our students for college (and beyond). But our finances will move from “unsustainable” to “barely sustainable,” according to our projections. If CPS does, indeed increase funding to charters (I’ll believe it when I see it), we will be off bread and water rations, but far from steak and lobster.

    @67 SoxSideIrish4: You call it buying influence; I call it returning a portion of profits to the public. It’s more of a difference than potato, potahto. This article is basically about corporations (actually, corporate foundations) funding regular public schools, although it does talk about the former Renaissance Schools Fund (which changed its name to New Schools for Chicago a couple of years ago), which provides start-up funding to charter schools. (I feel I should fact-check everything in an article that can’t get the name of an organization right.) Nowhere does it say that CPS is selling schools to charters, who then rent them back to CPS at a profit. Where did you get that?

    @69 CPS obsessed. The Walton Family Foundation gives up to $250K in startup funds to charters that have a good chance of succeeding. It convenes panels of local education and financial experts to review a fairly complex application – even more than CPS requires, and CPS has a pretty complex application. The Gates Foundation has a program where it gives money to school districts if they enter into an agreement with the charter community that covers a range of things. The main goal is to get the district to work with charters to disseminate methods that are working in charters throughout the district. Charters don’t get that money, and the amount CPS was trying (but failed) to get was $40 million – a drop in the bucket for a district with a $1 billion deficit. It’s more the prestige that the district wants, and Chicago didn’t get it.

    Other corporations (Chicago Mercantile Exchange, e.g.) do things like funding the Chicago Children’s Museum by giving the museum money to hold professional development for teachers in charter schools. These can be very good programs, but it’s like someone offering to take you on a cruise when you really need a new roof.

    The new Gates program for facility funding in Houston is similar to some other programs that aren’t as big (Andre Agassi’s foundation, for one). It remains to be seen whether they will make a big difference, especially for single-campus schools as opposed to large networks. Agassi won’t work with single-campus schools. Charters, as 501(c)(3) organizations, can issue tax-exempt bonds to fund construction. But the bonds won’t sell without an underwriter’s opinion that the school will be able to pay them off. The Gates Foundation’s $30 million will reduce the risk for bond purchasers – if some of the schools fail, the bonds will be at least partially covered. This is good, because it will help charters get facilities, which is a huge problem.

    Direct corporate funding, of anything, is virtually nonexistent. Corporations give a portion of their profits to their foundations, which in turn decide what types of project to fund – of course, there may be some interlocking directorates, but there is nominal separation. As someone who has spent a lot of time looking for funding for charter schools, I can tell you that there is virtually nothing out there. Many foundations avoid controversy by simply refusing to fund charters. Others fund organizations that advocate charters, but not the schools themselves. And because foundations are often promoting particular programs or points of view, funding, when it comes through, is usually restricted – money to start a parent education program, say. A very, very, good thing, and something we would really like to do – someday. But first we need equipment for our high school science labs.

    @70 SoxSideIrish4: Academy for Global Citizenship is a wonderful school. They have been able to obtain awards and grants because the school’s mission is aligned with things people want to fund – eco-awareness, healthy eating, and global involvement. I recommend that everyone try to take advantage of their monthly lunch-time tours ($5 for lunch last time I checked) and see how this wonderful idea is playing out. Call the school.

    @72 CarolA: I am so sorry that this harm is being done in Danielson’s name. I am afraid that CPS is an institution that has long tolerated mediocrity, and worse, at every level (thus tainting the whole organization). Now they seem to feel they can fix everything by addressing only teacher performance, but if the administrators are still mediocre, they won’t be able to distinguish between good and bad. It’s particularly galling that your principal criticized you for omitting things that you actually did – it suggests he wasn’t paying attention, or that he can’t recognize the elements he is supposed to be looking for. Is it possible that principals are afraid they will be removed if they grade their teachers high and the kids don’t improve? I wonder what the institutional attitude on that might be.

  • 106. CarolA  |  March 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Family Friend: It is what it is. I just had conversations with several other teachers today and they are experiencing the same thing. I know I’m doing my best and so far at the mid-year MAP test I had already moved most of my students beyond what needed to be done by June. I’m expecting a similar jump in progress by June. I know I’m doing right by the students and that’s enough for me. I feel bad for young teachers who are stressing out so much that they are getting sick.

  • 107. Stefanie  |  March 13, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Did you ask your son’s teacher if she wanted you to post about her on this blog? I feel very sorry for her. Why don’t you support her and explain to your son that his teacher expects 100% from all students and he should just be a good model and quit whining – like you are doing. She has made a choice on how she will manage her classroom that is reasonable and as parent you should support her, not post about her on a public forum.

  • 108. cpsobsessed  |  March 13, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Um….because I am “CPS Obsessed.”. I obsess about CPS. Thus the blog name.

    Sorry, no way I’m going to simply accept 100percent of what my kid’s teachers do as “awesome.” Not saying I’m going to challenge her on it, but I am most certainly going to discuss it.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 109. EdgewaterMom  |  March 13, 2013 at 10:38 pm


    Why don’t you support her and explain to your son that his teacher expects 100% from all students and he should just be a good model and quit whining – like you are doing.

    Since when is asking for suggestions ‘whining’? She said

    Any suggestions? Not that I know if she’d be open to any ideas but I’m just curious how one would conquer this. She’s very on top of classroom control (to the extent that she’s probably somewhat insane after having this class of kids) but it sounds like this is the ongoing vexing problem.

  • 110. Angie  |  March 14, 2013 at 8:51 am

    New Tribune article. CTU is really trying to stir the turd.,0,1922519.story

    “The Chicago Teachers Union on Wednesday announced that it will conduct “citiywide nonviolent civil disobedience training” sessions on Thursday and Saturday, including training in “disruptions, occupations, demonstrations, arrests. …””

  • 111. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 14, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Looks like CPS and Rahm are trying to pull a fast one w/school closing b4 BOE can officially vote on closings bc when they extenended the date March 31st for the list of schools they FORGET to get the window of 60 days for the vote to be shortened…CPS is such screw ups!!!

  • 112. local  |  March 14, 2013 at 10:42 am

    @ 111. SoxSideIrish4 | March 14, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Ah, but aren’t the six-figure folks there the “best & brightest?”

  • 113. local  |  March 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

    @ Angie

    Just, ew.

  • 114. Mayfair Dad  |  March 14, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    This is interesting:

  • 115. cpsobsessed  |  March 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Wow, MFD that is a very cool site. SO HANDY. The only thing I couldn’t get to work was identifying which schools are nearby. Could see location but not names.
    Wonder who has made this. It’s so clearly laid out and easy to use.

  • 116. Waiting preschool mom  |  March 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    CPSO, If you click on the dot, it tells you the name of the school, as well as other data, including how many “empty seats” there are in that school.

  • 117. cpsobsessed  |  March 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks – wouldn’t work in Firefox for some reason.

    The population decline since 2000 at some of these schools is really sad. I guess I’m also realizing that an option for some is to take 2 schools on the list and possibly combine them into 1 school?

    I wish all data could be presented as nicely as this!

  • 118. Mayfair Dad  |  March 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    @CPSO: This will be helpful when the final closure list is announced for sure. Why can’t CPS create clean, intuitive communication pieces like this? For all the money they spend on consultants, you’d think they would have better tools.

  • 119. Elnaz Moshfeghian  |  March 14, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Hi, I’m from the Open Data Institute (ODI) and was part of the group that built I’m so glad you liked the site and that it was helpful to you. Let me know if you have any questions!

  • 120. cpsobsessed  |  March 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Um, yes. do you have any job openings? 🙂

  • 121. RL Julia  |  March 14, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Little dismayed to see that they are planning on closing Near North -a school that is 100% SPED – for a low utilization rate – I can’t image that closing will stick. Also – Brentano all the schools the kids would theoretically feed to have 0 or 4 openings – that’s going to be tricky! Wonder if they can really think about closing Brentano for that very reason…. Then there is a school like Jenner where it seems like half the schools it would feed its kids to are also on the closing lists as well …….This will be a challenge. Really points out the discrepancies in education throughout the city. Awesome tool!

  • 122. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 14, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    CPSO~Jean Marie Olson from Apples 2 Apples is also a person who made this.

  • 123. Mayfair Dad  |  March 14, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    @121 RLJ – I’d be shocked if Brentano closed. The parents there are very organized and have the ear of important people.

  • 124. EdgewaterMom  |  March 14, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    @121 The list is not final – it is basically the final round. I would imagine that if there are 2 or 3 schools in close proximity on the list that only 1 of them would be closed and the others would be come “welcoming schools”. Then again, I am assuming that they are going to be logical, which may not be the case!

    And I also wanted to chime in and say how great the site is! Very easy to use and very informative! I hope that the powers that be at CPS utilize it too.

  • 125. local  |  March 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    So, Penny P is resigning from the CPS BOE.

  • 126. Jeanne Marie Olson (@JMOChicago)  |  March 14, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Wow, hi, so thank you for those who found the site useful. Elnaz, the rest of the team and I are really pleased at how helpful parents are finding it. (CPS Obsessed, can you share which version of Firefox wasn’t compatible? We’re still fine tuning the site. And I wish we WERE hiring…but for now we are all doing this for free for the civic good to try and get parents a “place at the table” in the decisions made at the district level about schools.)

    Elnaz, Josh and the ODI team are pretty amazing coders/designers, so the site will be updated quickly after the final list is announced. Let’s hope it’s closer to 20 than 80.

    It has been more and more apparent to me as I do these data projects that the district level decisions that are made do have ripple effects for all other CPS schools. No school will be excluded from the effects, even selective enrollment schools or lottery schools (which can control their enrollment easier than neighborhood schools can).

    The good news is that I’m also seeing some amaz-ing neighborhood schools out there that don’t grab the headlines just from looking at more granular and comprehensive data, and we hope to develop the data tools to let parents to see what we can see and have more data/tools with which to advocate more strongly for their schools at the district level 🙂

  • 127. EdgewaterMom  |  March 14, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    The good news is that I’m also seeing some amaz-ing neighborhood schools out there that don’t grab the headlines just from looking at more granular and comprehensive data, and we hope to develop the data tools to let parents to see what we can see and have more data/tools with which to advocate more strongly for their schools at the district level

    That is GREAT news! I think that parents will take advantage of a great tool like this to help them make the best choice. Although I think that magnets and SE schools are great, CPS is never going to succeed for all children until we have great neighborhood options in every neighborhood.

    Keep up the great work – we REALLY appreciate it!

  • 128. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    #125~Jeanne Marie~so sorry for spelling your first name improperly in #122. And agreeing w/ #127~EdgewaterMom~we REALLY appreciate it!!! Thank You.

  • 129. Jeanne Marie Olson (@JMOChicago)  |  March 14, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    @128–Haha! My maiden name was 12 letters long with very few vowels. I rarely notice alternative spellings of my name after working with that last name for the first 30+ years of my life 🙂 No worries.

  • 130. Mayfair Dad  |  March 15, 2013 at 9:21 am

    JMO speaks truth to power. A2A report is a game changer. After this whole school closing fiasco is over they should throw a parade for you and Wendy Katten. (Prediction: it will be closer to 20 schools).

  • 131. Kate  |  March 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    @30 “There is fire code that requires a certain square footage per student. It is ignored.”

    Hi Anonymouse teacher…I wish they would ressurrect the discussion on the fire code issues.

    I havent been on this blog in awhile since I am trying to save my neighborhood school which should not close [was on the list at list a few weeks ago]! The ‘better performing’ schools all have wait lists…where are they going to put the kids [the ‘better performing schools have ~30-32 kids/class], and our neighborhood school has the greatest teachers, they can only go up.

    The list seems so arbitrary although I am hoping each school will be evaluated very carefully by Teachers, and child development specialists not just the bean counters.

  • 132. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    50 schools closing

  • 133. southshore  |  March 20, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    CPSO, this has turned ugly; “I don’t think anything is a done deal in this city. I’m not going to let them do this to us, not again,” she said. “Every time the whites get to screaming and hollering, they back off and steamroll over black and brown folks. Not this time.”

    – Alderman Carrie Austin

    Wow, what an interesting statement to make……

  • 134. unknown teacher  |  March 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm


  • 135. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 20, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    They have to release the school names 2moro bc state laws provides 60 days b4 voting by BOE~so that would be at the May 22 BOE meeting. There are suppose to be community meetings between the time of the list and BOE meeting. Rumors are 55 to close but that 70 school will be affected…We will find out 2moro!

  • 136. cpsobsessed  |  March 20, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Yeah, youch. It is a sad and ugly situation. Given the district’s finance’s I feel like it must be done but I really feel for the families that are losing their neighborhood schools.

  • 137. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 20, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    #136~CPSO~they are losing neighborhood schools and opening up charters. Really, where is the financial advantage and mostly where is the advantage for the kids to have to leave the stability of the school that anchor their community? Just a question, not trying to be rude…I gotta go 2bed!

  • 138. Katherine  |  March 21, 2013 at 8:09 am

    137–there is no advantage to the kids.

    charter school teachers contact me all the time looking for supplies, equipment etc. which means the kids are going without needed supplies.

    so charter schools take public money, claim to infuse private money “for the kids” but then they do not give teachers sufficient resources so they go out begging, hence making other people pay for what their Board/corporate sponsors should be paying for.

    who wins? not the kids

    fix the schools!

  • 139. cpsobsessed  |  March 21, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Sorry, to clarify I was referring to the those applying to higher magnet grades as being less obsessed. The AC crowd certainly meet the official “obsessing” standards. 🙂

  • 140. breathe deep  |  March 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    The announcement is expected today. Does anyone have reliable information on what schools will be closed and what schools will be “welcoming” schools?

  • 141. ZanesDad  |  March 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    @140 – #cpsclosings on Twitter, and this Sun-Times article:

  • 142. Breathe deep  |  March 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Any word on Jenner or Manierre?

  • 143. HSObsessed  |  March 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I guess we can move to this thread, since it’s higher on the blog. For those of you who aren’t on Twitter, here’s the current scoop:

    CPS has not released its list of about 50 to the press or public yet but has informed the principals involved.

    The Sun Times has printed a list of about 26 schools so far which were confirmed to be closing (through the principal affirming that they got the news from CPS). Jenner and Manierre are not on that list of 26 so far.

    CPS will hold an official news conference at 4:30 today and then they’ll all catch the 5:01 Metra train to Beverly (kidding!).

    There are protesters as we speak picketing CPS board president David Vitale’s home.

  • 144. Chgojen  |  March 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Sun Times shows: Courtenay Elementary Language Arts Center, moving to Stockton Elementary School, a move confirmed by Stockton’s local school council.

    Does this mean Stockton is closing and Courtenay is taking over the building? I’m confused.

  • 145. ChiMom  |  March 21, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I’m curious and confused about Stockton too. Courtenay is taking it over. Per an article I read, Courtenay will be in control of the school. But, Courtenay is currently a magnet school, right? And Stockton is a neighborhood school. So, since Stockton was my neighborhood school before, what will my neighborhood school be now? Will Courtenay become a “magnet cluster”?

  • 146. SR  |  March 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    @145 – I have the same questions. All this time I assumed Stockton and Stewart would combine, and never contemplated Courtenay being involved. Will CPS combine them into a non-magnet school and expand the current Stockton boundaries? Or will Courtenay stay a magnet and our neighborhood area be merged into Stewart’s boundaries? Is Stewart closing? So many unanswered questions!

  • 147. Anonymous  |  March 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    #137. I could not agree more. This day is making me sick to my stomach. People on one thread are clamoring for spots in “safe” magnet schools while thousands are facing losing the one place that may keep their community together.

    All this, while the mayor goes skiing.

    Please let us respect that today is a day of mourning, stress, and uncertainty for many.

  • 148. local  |  March 21, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Sweet. Glad CPS issues didn’t get in his family’s way!

  • 149. ana  |  March 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    @144 and @145 Courtenay is an open enrollment school it takes students from all sections of the city by application. If it moves to Stockton then that status probably will change to make the new Courtenay a neighborhood school,if not then the neighborhood kids would get first bibs with Courtenay admin. Courtenay is not a Magnet school just a really good school.

  • 150. southie  |  March 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    FROM: district299reader said 1 hour, 54 minutes ago

    Canter students (81%) low income are going to Ray (41%) low income, that should be interesting. Wonder how many Ray students flee to Lab School and other privates

  • 151. anonymouse teacher  |  March 21, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    They are consolidating Jenner and Manierre. I thought BBB promised displaced students would go to a better performing school? Their test scores for the last 2 years are only 2-3 points apart.

  • 152. southie  |  March 21, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Oh, but it’s 2-3 points better. They blend into becoming a better school, right?

  • 153. PatientCPSMom  |  March 21, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    I would like to encourage everyone to look at what has happened with the two former Cabrini schools on the Near North Side. CPS had the chance to provide these children with an opportunity to attend a Level 1 school in the area but rather choose to combine Manierre into Jenner. This maintains a level 3 school with just a larger population. Jenner has been on probation for at least the past 5 years. Also, these two schools have a demonstrated history of violence against each other.

    Several ideas like expanding the Ogden school border and creating an Ogden primary school at the current Jenner location and keeping the current Ogden location as a secondary school would have allowed every Jenner child an opportunity to receive superior differentiated educational services through the Odgen school. This would have also provided Ogden parents with many things they wanted such as an expanded outdoor space for young children and this solution would have opened up more slots for the international gifted program.

    Instead CPS’s decision to combine two school that are primarily African American maintains the segregation of education on the Near North Side. Jenner is my neighborhood school and I have for the past 3 years written CPS and the Aldermen of the area to make Jenner a viable Neighborhood school that would attract families that want a good education for their kids. These two schools are surrounded by high performing Level 1 schools , Mayer, Ogden, Lincoln, Franklin, Newberry, and LaSalle. There is an underused old CPS building on Larabee that could have been used to expand any of these schools.. Why is it the kids that are black have to go to the Level 3 school? Racism? Lack of vision on CPS’s part? Inertia against change?

    I implore the Mayor and Mr. Frank M. Clark to look at how CPS themselves is deliberately and willfully creating two different educational experiences for children based on race.

  • 154. SomeParent  |  March 21, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    @153: Please don’t start making this as a race issue here. “Why is it the kids that are black have to go to the Level 3 school? Racism?” That’s so not true! A lot of black kids are getting into many great schools such as the majority such as Poe, McDade, Frazier, etc. Every kids should deserve good quality of education. But every kids should work hard, do well on their homework and exams, and parents should get more involved. That’s not CPS job!

  • 155. CarolA  |  March 22, 2013 at 6:29 am

    @153: Taking your word on the school situation, it seems that you have some valid suggestions that make sense. I thought that the deal was that closed schools would be upgraded to attend a higher level school. Are you saying students are going from a level 3 school to a level 3 school?

  • 156. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 22, 2013 at 7:45 am

    #155~CarolA~the deal is for the school closing to go to a high level performing school, not necessarily a higher level in terms of 1, 2, 3. If a level 3 school is closed, it can still go to a level 3 school that has higher points~that’s my understanding.

  • 157. Anonymous  |  March 22, 2013 at 9:15 am

    #153. I see the problem as the fact that the area is surrounded by magnet schools: Franklin, LaSalle, Newberry.The non-magnets are severely overcrowded. As an Ogden or Lincoln mom, I grow tired of people suggesting we add even MORE kids to our schools. Why won’t they touch the magnets to alleviate the problems?

  • 158. SomeParent  |  March 22, 2013 at 10:01 am

    I think combining Manierre and Jenner schools together is a good idea. Jenner school is pretty new. It is a nice facility and each room has air conditioning and with many great technologies. The environment is very safe and nice for the students. These 2 schools were underutilized anyway so combining them together is a wise decision. However, they both are not high performing schools (level 3). That’s a separate issue. Students need to be motivated to learn and teachers and principal have to do a better job on keeping the higher quality education. But most importantly, parents need to be involved with the kids. No one can do a better job than parents on their own child development. Why there are many magnet schools around that area (LaSalle, Franklin, Newberry)? Because CPS wants to give the opportunity for the Manierre and Jenner students to apply there. Assuming they are living within the proximity lottery, they should have gotten 40% chance of getting into one of those magnets after the sibling lottery.

  • 159. Kate  |  March 22, 2013 at 10:16 am

    #147 it is sickening
    my neighborhood school, the closest school I work at WH Brown has been temporarily spared [will remain open…and they are up-and-coming…just need more kids in there so underutilized isnt used against them] but for how long? So many families disrupted.

    This Marie Antoinette mayor has got to go. His kids are in private school and he goes skiing.

  • 160. Family Friend  |  March 22, 2013 at 10:16 am

    @154 Some Parent: I think this IS an issue with a significant racial — not specifically or solely Jenner and Manierre, but the closings as a whole. The schools that are closing are almost exclusively schools in low-income black areas. Yes, they are under-enrolled, but why? It’s because those schools perform so poorly that everyone who can go elsewhere, does. Population decline in the south and west sides outpaced the city’s average declines, and the population of school age children outpaced total decline in those neighborhoods. This problem is so tangled that the blame can’t be laid anywhere in particular, but I think a big part of it goes to the folks who, generations ago, started blaming the families for schools’ poor performance. How many active, involved parents on this blog think that they could compensate at home for the deficits of a Level 1 school? These closings come with (weak) promises of improvement. But the ability to implement practices that we know, from experience, result in improvement should be the primary driver of every decision CPS makes. I don’t see how this action fulfills that imperative.

  • 161. Family Friend  |  March 22, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I mean a significant racial component.

  • 162. SR  |  March 22, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I posted on other thread, but my question is more on topic here:

    All the Uptown school changes have resulted in neighborhood enrollment boundaries that make even less sense than they used to. For example, a person living next door to the Stockton/Courtenay preschool will have to cross Montrose, Broadway, and Sheridan to get to their neighborhood school Brennemann. Is there a CPS department that residents should direct their requests for redistricting to? We will also approach our Alderman, but not sure how effective that will be. Thanks!

  • 163. HSObsessed  |  March 22, 2013 at 10:58 am

    @162 – You can try reaching out to your alderman or CPS, but honestly, this is a huge beast whose path will be difficult to alter at this point. School boundaries often don’t seem to make sense. There are many instances in which kids attend neighborhood schools that are much farther from their homes than other public schools. Good luck, however.

  • 164. SR  |  March 22, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks HSObsessed – I realize it may be a futile pursuit. But I would hope that even CPS can see the logic of having a school’s preK within that school’s enrollment boundaries.

  • 165. Angie  |  March 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    CPS media briefing, explaining the reasons for each closure.

  • 166. Gobemouche  |  March 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Welcoming schools that will get new programs next year (IB, STEM, Fine Arts):

  • 167. Gobemouche  |  March 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Link to CPS page on school sclosings. Check out the data, etc.

  • 168. anonymouse teacher  |  March 22, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    If you look on the IIRC (iirc, and compare Jenner and Manierre, you’ll notice that there is a 2% test score difference between the two schools over the past 2 years. B3 keeps emphatically promising that displaced kids are guaranteed a better school, but the facts do not support this in this case.

  • 169. Angie  |  March 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    @168. anonymouse teacher: Wasn’t air conditioning a big issue during your strike? Jenner has it, Manierre does not. That alone makes it better on a hot August day. Plus, Jenner will offer IB cirruculum which has been proven to work at other schools.

    Manierre Elementary
    Why CPS recommends to
    close this school:
    • Enrollment has declined by
    49% over the last 10 years
    (630 to 351)
    • Building is less than half full
    • Building requires $13.1M to
    maintain and update
    • Building lacks air

    Jenner Elementary
    As a welcoming school, Jenner will
    • A higher performing school
    • A PreK program
    • A new IB programme
    • Upgraded computer lab
    • Full air conditioning
    • A school safety plan to provide a
    smooth and safe transition for all

  • 170. tchr  |  March 22, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    I wonder if CPS will consider these changes and expect test scores to decline next year as schools struggle to spend a LOT of time on building new relationships and working on building culture and climate. Or if these receiving schools will be closed next year for poor test scores! I am scared for the students adjusting to new areas. I worry about my fellow CPS teachers being overworked to accommodate for new students and likely HUGE class sizes as MANY of these receiving schools were not really underutilized and many do NOT have the capacity to handle an influx of students.

    Ellington is a Level 1 school right now. I wonder what will happen to that level as they take in more students.

    I cannot believe they are closing two AUSL schools after CPS has spent millions revamping their buildings. Decisions are made so quickly.

  • 171. local  |  March 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    “I cannot believe they are closing two AUSL schools after CPS has spent millions revamping their buildings. Decisions are made so quickly.”

    Zipporah Hightower was principal at the AUSL Bethune and has now left to run some kind of principal prep program, apparently. I guess she saw the writing on the wall and jumped ship. Did that at Kellogg too.

  • 172. tchr  |  March 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Angie, what is the safety plan? How will combining schools make the city safer? How is Jenner a higher performing school?

  • 173. Angie  |  March 22, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    @172. tchr: Like CPS said, Jenner will offer a better equipped building and IB cirruculum. Combining the two schools will save the money that is now spent to maintain and staff the half-empty Manierre building. And I’m sure losing the teachers with the lowest rating will make an improvement, too.

    As for the safety plan, I would suggest contacting CPS to find out the details.

  • 174. tchr  |  March 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Manierre is two points lower than Jenner because of the teachers? Where do your kids go? I will go apply to teach there.

  • 175. Gobemouche  |  March 22, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I’m probably gonna getter slammed for this, but…I’m kinda annoyed that CPS is promising iPads for all the 3-8th graders involved in the closing process. I’m happy for them, but geez! If we’re throwing iPads around, why not all CPS 3-8th graders. I know, I know…theses kids are about to be traumatized by CPS and, in light of that, an iPad isn’t much of a consolation prize. Of course, we will have to see if all of these things that look good on paper actually happen.

    I wonder…if the closings somehow work out (doubtful, I know), would this push CPS to institute some of theses things across the city? New tech and iPads, air conditioning, new stem and IB programs. If only CPS had invested in all these things for all the school years ago…

  • 176. Angie  |  March 22, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    @174. tchr: More than likely, both schools have low performing teachers that should be fired, but Jenner staff is not going anywhere.

  • 177. anonymouse teacher  |  March 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    @ 169, Agree that AC is an important gain.
    And, according to the factual test data, Jenner is not a higher performing school, which is what B3 promised. CPS can say it is all they want, but the ISAT scores do not show that at all.
    Imo, adding an IB program in a place like Jenner/Manierre will not prove helpful. I’ve been in those buildings with those students and again, imo, what they need is at least a dozen security guards or regular CPD officers walking the halls, a dozen or more psychologists, a few dozen reading specialists and other RTI interventionists and then maybe all those things together might help students succeed.
    As for the other things like Prek and an updated computer lab, I will celebrate those gains when I see them with my own eyes. But the whole higher performing school statement is an outright falsehood. Go to Do the comparision. Its not true. The data proves it.

  • 178. anonymouse teacher  |  March 22, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    @175, don’t believe the ipad promise until you see it. If it happens, then fine. I am not holding my breath. They are also promising AC for all of those receiving schools. Again, I’ll believe it when I see it. (and just because a school has AC doesn’t mean it works)

  • 179. local  |  March 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    The low income students I encounter have some difficulty getting internet at home. If they commute with expensive technology, they easily can become victims. Safety of person & property will be important for any students moving from one closed school to another school. I don’t mean to jump to conclusions, but could the ipad promise also include more students per class and “technology” used to replace the teacher, a la Gates/Murdoch? At any rate, I’m not sure schools are very good at using ipads for education yet. Like anon.mouse teacher, I’d prefer to see more support staff.

  • 180. cpsobsessed  |  March 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    @A-mouse – I mentioned this after one of the press releases recently. The wording was “students will have to opportunity to attend a higher performing school.”. I don’t think it said that every receiving school would be higher peforming. Maybe I’m reading too much into it?
    Or maybe Jenner and Manniere are considered a merger and not one receiving?
    It would be interesting on principle if the parents there demanded to know where their better performing schools were….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 181. tchr  |  March 22, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    I am sure CPS does not have a real safety plan.

    Also, if there are 30 kids in a classroom and maybe 2 classes per grade, that would be 360 low estimate of 3-8th graders at schools. iPads are $400 plus they’d need a heavy duty case AND an expensive cart to charge and lock them up at night (my guess is the IPads would be CPS property, not students’ like at say a private school where tuition would cover the cost of a personal laptop or iPad). Let’s say 360 iPads for $450 low estimate would be $162k per school. Yeah right.

    IF cps does get these schools iPads it will probably be 4 or 5 per class to share. IF.

  • 182. cpsobsessed  |  March 22, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    I can’t imagine the intention was for every kid to have their own ipad, right?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 183. Gobemouche  |  March 22, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    The press release sure makes it sound that way,
    iPads for all 3-8th grade students.

    I imagine that they would be kept in the school, but who knows.

  • 184. anonymouse teacher  |  March 23, 2013 at 7:33 am

    @180, CPSO, It seems to me like CPS worded things so carefully that they could, in reality, do whatever they wanted to do and still be within the letter of the law. I never thought CPS would do what it was saying or implying. RYH has found that 1/3 of all displaced students will not be going to a higher performing school.

    And no, CPS will never allow students to take technology of any kind home and they shouldn’t. It isn’t safe. It isn’t safe in the buildings themselves under lock and key in some schools. They’ll all be locked up tight and even then some will still get stolen. It happened a bunch of times this year with the staff ipads that are to be used only for TRC and Dibels testing. Schools were told if their ipads were stolen, the schools would be liable for the cost, no matter if they were locked up or not.

  • 185. local  |  March 23, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Interesting comment from

    By: Rod Estvan
    Baffled by critique of Catalyst article

    I found Sarah Karp’s and Rebecca Harris’ use of comments from Chief Transformation Officer Todd Babbitz to be very enlightening. First by admitting closing these schools will not generate any cost savings in the near term Mr Babbitz undercuts one of the core arguments for school closings.

    Second, on Tuesday myself and other advocates for students with disabilities met with CPS about the closings that were announced yesterday. During that discussion after CPS laid out its plans and supports for students with IEPs I said if all these things were carried out how would CPS save money by these closings. No one from CPS at that meeting could really answer that question. Babbitz has now answered that question, CPS will not save money for years. But I also suspect CPS will not be able to honor all of its commitments for these students because they may not have the money. But only time and the final number of closed school will resolve that concern.

    Because of increase pension payments, potential cuts in state funding, and some cuts to federal funding CPS will be required in the near term to resort to short term borrowing to make salaries. CPS will completely gut the central administration, but that will save little money. Eventually, CPS will likely have to cut tuition payments to charters and per pupil funding to traditional schools. CPS even may be forced to allow schools to increase class sizes. If ISBE changes it special education class size rules as it is trying to do these too will be increased.

    In closing I would argue the Catalyst reporters provided a very valuable interview for its readers. Just for a point of disclosure I am a member of the Catalyst editorial advisory board.

    Rod Estvan

  • 186. tchr  |  March 23, 2013 at 10:45 am

    From Catalyst. A parent on the receiving end.

    More Public Nuisance Behavior from CPS
    I think it is sad to call a school a “welcoming School”, if they are forced to receive failing students from another school and then most likely end up on probation next year, due to a consolidation by force. Also if the “Welcoming school” (Receiving School) ends up needing metal detectors when they never needed it before, it could run away all their dedicated parents and students away in fear!! How would this be a welcoming situation if the school’s existing student population were peaceful and dedicated learners, only to be disrupted by CPS for the a wild unruly crowd that is behind in school? If more security is needed because the students being “received”, needed it at their previous school or because CPS anticipated the clashing of cultures; this would be enough for me to pull my children out of our school. When you make an investment in your child and school community, you certainly do not want the gains stalled, no matter what the reason is.

    I remember under “Renaissance 2010” when Arne Duncan sent some students from Williams at 2710 S. Dearborn to our school Douglas at 3200 S. Calumet. He said he wanted to rehab their school and that they would be in our school temporarily. H e also said that their single digit scores would not be incorporated into Douglas’s standardized scores. Guess what folks Arne never kept his word. Williams did not want to take their weakest students back and their scores were also incorporated into the Douglas scores. Some of the students also went to NTA & Drake and I’m sure these schools have their own story to tell..

    When the Williams students were at our school, there was fighting on the school yard almost everyday, down our block and on the parkways, rocks thrown at homeowner’s windows, graffiti written on signs and also a little girl ended up sexually molested.

    Now in 2013 there is the potential for this nonsense to happen all over again!! Will more unruly failing students be sent to disrupt the learning environment in our school again and also destroy standardized test scores all as well, but now under the “underutilization” umbrella??

    Pershing West is our 4th-8th grade program, but in a separate building from Pershing East. They were separated under Arne Duncan to expand the school. The sad part is when CPS supposedly expanded our Magnet school Pershing East and separated grades into separated buildings the 4th-8th grade portion had its Magnet status taken away and converted to “Performance School” while the K-3rd remained Magnet. Now the 4th- thru 8th it is treated as a separate school. On the school action list “Pershing West is only listed because “Pershing East” is not underutilized. (smaller building) Will our schools be put back together as one Magnet school like it initially was at 3113 S. Rhodes, or will CPS destroy the middle school portion? There is certainly enough room to put our entire school back together (k-8th) at the 3200 S. Calumet facility location. However, if the plan is to completely destroy our school, then another option will be selected. Right??

    Do you know any other Magnet Schools that were ripped apart?? Pershing once had one curriculum. Now Pershing East is advanced reading, math and science and Pershing West is not. There is no curriculum alignment between the 2 schools. Why do you think this was done? Most likely to force the parents from our k-3rd program to leave the community for 4th grade options somewhere outside the community. Why else would CPS make the 4th-8th grade a regular unchallenging program and increase the special education portion of the school.

    Now it seems that CPS has new plans to impact our school again. The neighborhood around Pershing West is not a low-income community. The average income is over $100,000 a year but predominantly African American. I’ve lived in this community for about 15 years and we have never has a stable school environment thanks to CPS. They are always using our schools as “receiving schools” for failing students from other neighborhoods.

    We have no selective options and the Skinner Classical bus still picks children up in our area who want better options. I guess this will always be the plan. Skinner picked up my son when he was in elementary school. Whitney Young Academic Center picked up my other. My point is that it is a shame that with all the high property taxes that we pay, CPS would not put the same programs in our community for our dedicated parents. Why does our community have to always be set aside for disruptions?

    I checked the Census Data and it is a shame that a very high percentage of the children in my community are in private school. I shared this information with CPS. A Charter would not draw them back to CPS. Practically all the children in all are schools are filled with families who live somewhere else and many are very unproductive.

    You would think CPS would put in programs that we need for our own children, so that they can walk to school. However this is never the case. Our schools are always placed at an unfair disadvantage. Thanks for absolutely nothing CPS and I really fear for our teachers jobs again. They seem to never get rewarded for their effort. Meanwhile a new Principal at NTA is handed a gifted center. I suppose he earned it right, just like South Loop School did when they sent their failing kids to our community to get their gifted center in the past. Our community has never been a “favorite child.”

  • 187. PatientCPSMom  |  March 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

    @168 and 169 to jump back into discussion. Neither Manierre or Jenner would be an acceptable neighborhood schools for 98% of the people on this blog. That alone should speak volumes. CPS should not under any conditions imply that AC or promised IB programs is a substitute for a functioning neighborhood school. The best of these 2 schools – Jenner has been on probation for at least 5 years. This school has not provided a quality education for its current students and has not been a viable school choice for residents who have moved here in the past 7 years. CPS can not hide from this fact. CPS needs to embrace it and address it in a real fashion.

    Please don’t blame the parents at these schools. Not every school can have a Friends of organization that raises $100,000s dollars a year to supplement what CPS provides. Also many parents can not volunteer in classrooms because of jobs that don’t allow time off. And yes many people can’t volunteer because maybe they feel they are not that educated themselves.

    What ever the reasons for these schools failings are CPS needs not to combine failure and hope for success.

    My two cents. Thanks for reading

  • 188. cpsobsessed  |  March 23, 2013 at 11:29 am

    @patient: so what do you think it requires? Combining and then a turnaround (aka replacing all admin and staff?)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 189. anonymouse teacher  |  March 23, 2013 at 11:58 am

    The students I experienced at Manierre and Jenner reminded me of something one might see in a psychiatric hospital. I am not easily cowed, but all it took was 2-3 days per building and I refused to ever enter either building again because I very legitimately feared for my life. All the examples are not of Jr. high kids–I am talking about 8 and 9 year olds: attempted stabbings, kids walking out of the building with no follow up, the regular teacher leaving a note saying to count all pencils when handing them out and recollecting them or they’d be used as weapons in the halls, staff telling me “stay away from the windows”–me, “why?”–staff, “you know, in case they start shooting outside”, the girl in the corner compulsively masturbating under her jacket while in the classroom, kids screaming over me and getting in my face saying, “I’m gonna get my brother and he’s gonna get you when you leave to go home”. Yep and these incidents were in regular education classrooms. Totally serious. I don’t believe that either school’s primary issue is quality of staff. I think the students need a therapeutic/psychiatric school with 1:2 or 1:3 ratios and extensive help. CPS is not equipped to deal with the major needs these children have.

  • 190. tchr  |  March 23, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Bethune and Dodge were/are turnaround schools. Any parents on this blog send their kids there? Those a turnaround ” success ” now being closed and shifted. I am sure there are dedicated teachers there now and wonderful students and families. And there were probably great teachers before they were closed the first time. (turnaround model)

    It is going to take more than a change of teachers or curriculum or a new building. Or iPads.

  • 191. Sped Mom  |  March 23, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    I heard that Bethune was able to increase scores with a drill and kill method, but I had no children there. The neighborhood seemed to value the school.

  • 192. Sped Mom  |  March 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    “I think the students need a therapeutic/psychiatric school with 1:2 or 1:3 ratios and extensive help. CPS is not equipped to deal with the major needs these children have.”

    That’s completely true. First, CPS would have to evaluate – and do a good job of evaluation – each student in need. And, that’s not going to happen.

  • 193. Sped Mom  |  March 23, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    BTW, therapeutic schools would likely have one teacher plus one or two aides for a self-contained 8- or 10-student classroom. Also, likely, the focus would be on the social and emotional treatment rather than the academic progress of the students. So, it’s a trade off. I think the soc/emo is the foundation, then the academic can be addressed.

  • 194. Angie  |  March 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    @189. anonymouse teacher : ” I don’t believe that either school’s primary issue is quality of staff. I think the students need a therapeutic/psychiatric school with 1:2 or 1:3 ratios and extensive help. CPS is not equipped to deal with the major needs these children have.”

    So are you saying that 100% of these kids are undiagnosed SPED cases rather then children who have not been taught anything since they came to school? Even if this is true, what have the teachers done about it? Did they notice that something was wrong? Did they speak to the school’s case manager, or tell the parents that their child needs to have an IEP evaluation? In some cases where the disability is not immediately obvious, the parents may have no idea that their child needs help, so it would be up to the school to let them know about it.

    And here’s a suggestion.Thanks to the longer school day, all kids now have at least one “special” period per day. For at-risk students that get no parental support, why not use this time for a life skills class, where they will be taught how to behave in the classroom, listen to their teachers without talking back, and resolve the conflicts without reaching for a weapon. If we start this when they are 5, they just might to learn something by the time they graduate. Otherwise, they will just continue to replace those pencils with guns and knives when they grow up.

  • 195. tchr  |  March 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Angie. I teach at a school similar to Jenner or Manierre. And actually considered applying to either last year for its close proximity to my house. Phew! Glad I didn’t make that choice. Next year is going to be awful for those kids and teachers.

    I have 6 students that will not make the grade level reading benchmark. Six kids that will be sent to the next grade that are not prepared. These are students I give extra small group time to. While I meet with other reading groups 2 times a week, I meet with them 4 times a week. I offered to these families to come to school early for before school tutoring. 1 showed up a few times. One. These are not even behavior problem students. They are all actually very sweet and funny kids. But all of them came into my room (not even on day 1 but several weeks or months into the school year) not knowing what their name looked like or even how to hold a pencil or crayon. Much less any letters or sounds or numbers. This story is not unique to my classroom.

    My principal will put up my class’s percentage meeting end of year goals. Nevermind that 2 of my small groups (maybe 10 students) are well into first grade reading and math goals. 6 of my students will not meet their goals. I have not given up on them. We still meet more than my other groups- actually against the advice of my admin. These are not my “bubble” kids. They say I should really be targeting my middle kids to get them just above grade level.

    And yes my kids get an hour of resource /specials a day. It is probably the worst hour of the day. The teachers we have hired do not understand what little kids are capable of or how to manage behavior. This is the time when my students are the worst behaved. When scissors are thrown, my rug gets written on with crayon, my kids use the N word, kids get pushed and kicked. I would LOVE some quality preps! Please advise on how to make that possible. It would really help my kids and my day without having to deal with the headache of playing doctor after they are all hurt with their other teachers.

    Do you have a proven curriculum or a bunch of teachers that would like to teach such a class? If it were that easy, to magically improve behavior and fix schools, it would have been done already.

  • 196. tchr  |  March 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    ALSO case manager ignores requests for evaluations for kids we worry about. Parents don’t show up to meetings. We have no interventionists. No reading recovery. No rti. No teachers aides.

  • 197. Angie  |  March 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    @195. tchr : “Do you have a proven curriculum or a bunch of teachers that would like to teach such a class? If it were that easy, to magically improve behavior and fix schools, it would have been done already.”

    I wish I had a cirruculum for this. Has anyone tried to develop it rather than wasting their time on reinventing the wheel with things like Everyday Math? There are researchers and psychologist writing dissertations about these children, so may be they would be the people to write it?

    I don’t think fixing the schools is easy, but I’m sure it is impossible when there are teachers who claim they cannot teach the kids anything unless the parents are involved, and give up on them before they enter the door for the first time. Do you honestly believe that every teacher in CPS is working as hard as you or other teachers who post on this site? I don’t.

    As for the unqualified specials teachers at your school, well, you get what you strike for.

  • 198. Angie  |  March 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    @196. tchr : “ALSO case manager ignores requests for evaluations for kids we worry about.”

    So we are back to school administration not doing its job.

    “Parents don’t show up to meetings.”

    Can they sign some kind of release instead of showing up? Also, out of curiousity, did your school take part in that gift cards for report cards giveaway, and if so, did it work?

    “We have no interventionists. No reading recovery. No rti. No teachers aides.”

    Sorry, but there is a limited amount of money to go around. When you spend more of it on salaries and benefits, something else has got to be cut.

  • 199. tchr  |  March 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    No. Our school did not have gift cards. But we do have other unsuccessful ways to encourage parents to come to school. I have some WONDERFUL parents that I actually wonder why they stay at my school and deal with the crap they deal with (but if they left would make our jobs even harder.)

    And teachers do deserve a raise. Sorry.

  • 200. anonymouse teacher  |  March 23, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I don’t think 100% of the kids I saw were sped kids. I do know they needed some radically different kind of school than what CPS is able to give. I also know how difficult it is to get any child evaluated these days. My school requires upwards of 6 months worth of intensive charting on a child for the team to even MEET to discuss the possibility of an eval. Let me educate you about what intensive charting entails.
    Every single spelling test over 6 months charted, every math test score charted, every reading test charted, weekly running records which take 5-10 minutes per child, as well as the requirement that the teacher has given the child one-to-one intensive help for a significant period of time every single day with detailed and extensive documentation that this one-to-one help occurred! For behavior, documentation every 15 minute period of time, every single day, complete with anecdotal notes (try doing that on one or more kids every day and see just how much teaching is possible). Without this kind of documentation, no eval will happen, no one to one aide, no help. And the teacher has to do all that, while running multiple reading and math groups, doing individual writing conferences as well as everything else. This is what is required at my school to get the team together to consider the remote possibility of an eval. Its ridiculous. Its almost like CPS is offering some kind of incentive to case managers and psychs who deny services to kids.

  • 201. Sped Mom  |  March 23, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    RTI is so bogus in CPS. It’s unfair to teachers and students.

  • 202. Sped Mom  |  March 23, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    ” Its almost like CPS is offering some kind of incentive to case managers and psychs who deny services to kids.”

    Yeah. It’s an incentive for the case mgr and psychs called “keeping your job.”

    ;), sadly

  • 203. Sped Mom  |  March 23, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Can’t win with Angie. Don’t engage.

  • 204. Sped Mom  |  March 23, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    “I wish I had a cirruculum for this.”

    Some – repeat, some – therapeutic schools implement methods (I would not call it a “curriculum”) to improve students social and emotional development. I doubt one would see such methods, which are extremely resource-intensive, at work in a general school. But, there’s no real way into a therapeutic school without going through an IEP process, and that process would start with an excellent and through evaluation.

    Also, please don’t take #203 as a slam. It’s not intended as such.

    It’s just that my experience in the sped world have led me not to believe the same as what Angie reports. Actually, I’m glad he or she does not have direct experience with students and schools that the teacher describes above.


  • 205. Sped Mom  |  March 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Excuse typos

  • 206. anonymouse teacher  |  March 23, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    @ 203, yeah, I don’t know why I keep responding. Thanks for the reminder, I’ll try to heed your advice!

  • 207. Sped Mom  |  March 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    @ 206. anonymouse teacher

    🙂 Keep fighting the good fight.

  • 208. Angie  |  March 23, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    @204. Sped Mom : “It’s just that my experience in the sped world have led me not to believe the same as what Angie reports.”

    I can’t help it if my experience was different from yours. Maybe it’s because my child transitioned from Early Intervention to CPS with a ready diagnosis, or because we got lucky and encountered the only special education team in this city that actually knows what they are doing, but I honestly have no complaints.

  • 209. HSObsessed  |  March 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    One evening a few weeks back I spent a good chunk of time answering questions for a Joyce Foundation/U Chicago phone poll re: CPS, and I know at least one other Obsessor did as well, so it was interesting to see the results and all the details published on the Trib site today, link below. I’m posting on this thread because some of the questions had to do with closing of schools. I thought the most interesting ones were about how teacher evaluations should be changed. I also found it amusing to see that one of the people who were polled was born in 1916. Will all of us still have opinions about public schools when we’re 97 years old?,0,5109873.htmlpage

  • 210. anonymouse teacher  |  March 24, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Ah, that’s the disconnect. Kids who come in with a medical issue with a diagnosis from a doc, or through EI automatically have an in with Sped. Those kids are easy to staff, although, often they don’t get the actual minutes they are entitled to, even though parents are told they do, but that’s a different issue. Its the other 95% of kids who need to be in Sped where there’s a problem.

  • 211. anon  |  March 24, 2013 at 10:38 am

    @203 very arrogant. Because someone has a different experience than you they should be ignored! I thought the purpose of this board was to allow all opinions for discussion.

  • 212. Sped Mom  |  March 24, 2013 at 10:57 am

    @ 211

    No, I don’t choose to ignore someone because of a differing experience. Rather, I choose to ignore someone once their opinions and critical thinking in my opinion proves to be lacking in facts and reality. IMHO. That’s why I said I’m glad Angie did not have the direct experience that might lead him or her to understand what others who don’t believe a teachers’ union is the source of all evil. I enjoy reading Angie’s comments. They keep me aware of other POVs. That doesn’t feel arrogant to me. I also understand the CPS seems to have a better solution and process for hearing impaired students. Angie might want to consider that her direct experience is not the same for students from other circumstances than her child’s.

  • 213. Sped Mom  |  March 24, 2013 at 11:00 am

    “(1) Those kids are easy to staff, although, often they don’t get the actual minutes they are entitled to, even though parents are told they do, but that’s a different issue. (2) Its the other 95% of kids who need to be in Sped where there’s a problem.”

    Both those observations are substantially true. We’ve also observed both directly.

  • 214. Angie  |  March 25, 2013 at 11:00 am

    A parent on the SEES thread mentioned Responsive Classroom cirruculum. Is anyone familiar with it? Would it be helpful for these kids?

    The overview videos sure make its sound good.

  • 215. local  |  March 25, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Responsive Classroom would be a great start, imho. Along with other needs being id’d & met.

  • 216. john toms  |  April 8, 2013 at 12:28 am

    I’d like to point out that the Illinois School Code requires that the receiving schools be significantly better than the closed schools students are being forced to leave. Otherwise, their academic progress is harmed. On this one basic standard, the CPS closure recommendation fails. On the 2012 ISAT composite, Manierre students had a slightly higher rate of meet/exceed the state benchmark than Jenner (54.3% to 53.4%). In reading, it is even more favorable to Manierre (51.6% vs. 43.2%). In Math, Jenner had a small but insignificant advantage (62.3% vs. 60.3%). All closures should be examined in a similar way.

  • 217. cpsobsessed  |  April 8, 2013 at 8:38 am

    I believe there were other criteria beyond ISATS that were used. Not sure it means the criteria made sense, but cps did find a way to justify that the receiving schools are “better” based on a range of measurable criteria.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 218. Alisani  |  April 10, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    But in the initially, the language was “higher performing” and this can only be measured academically, in my opinion. Someone needs to investigate that value added metrics that CPS is using. It doesn’t make sense. You have with high meets and exceeds percentages being labeled as level 3. It is misleading.

  • 219. Alisani  |  April 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    meant to say You have schools with high meets and exceeds percentages being labeled as level 3. It is misleading.

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