Posts Tagged: Chicago Public Schools

Safety first, second, and third in Chicago

I wrote a piece a month ago that looked at how the city of Chicago’s focus on violent crime comes at the expense of other worthy issues. Here’s an example: Rebecca Vevea of the Chicago News Cooperative reports that Chicago Public Schools will continue to spend millions on “Safe Passage,” a program that helps students arrive and depart from school safely.

Obviously, there are worse uses of taxpayer money. But Safe Passage was a program launched by federal stimulus funds and those funds have run out. Does CPS really need to keep this additional safety program — for which $10 million has been set aside — when it faces a $612 million deficit?

Reforming the reforming in Chicago’s public schools

The U.S. Education Dept. will give the Chicago Public Schools $50 million that CPS will use to “turnaround” or “transform” eight troubled schools, reports Rebecca Vevea of the Chicago News Coop. A turnaround — one of the signature policies of Ed Sec. Arne Duncan — means replacing staff at schools that are judged to be failing. Vevea reports that these eight schools will probably undergo the less dramatic transformation, where the curriculum changes but teachers and administrators remain largely intact. (more…)

Emanuel: Hey, Arne Duncan was also sued and look what became of him!

Incoming Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel named Jean-Claude Brizard head of the Chicago Public Schools, even though there is a federal discrimination lawsuit filed against Brizard. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found probable cause Brizard fired a female deputy at Rochester Public Schools for her age, sex, and race. The Chicago Sun-Times Fran Spielman reports that Rahm Emanuel defends the lawsuit because Arne Duncan, the former head of CPS and current U.S. Education Secretary, also was sued by a former employee.

However, that case did not involve age, sex or race, meaning, it was not, in fact, a federal discrimination case. The federal discrimination suit further indicates Brizard’s poor track record as head of Rochester public schools. He takes over a Chicago school system with an $820 million deficit.

CPS, ed. reform continued

Yesterday I blogged that Education Sec. Arne Duncan is helping Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel find a new head of Chicago Public Schools. Today the Chicago News Cooperative’s Hunter Clauss lays out the specific budgetary problems facing CPS: an $820 million deficit and a proposal backed by outgoing CPS head Terry Mazany to raise the city’s property taxes in order to avert teacher layoffs and increased class sizes. Also at issue is whether CPS can provide its teachers the four percent salary increase that is part of their collective bargaining agreement.

Emanuel campaigned against the property tax increase, saying he prefers, “Reinviting city government so city government works for the taxpayers.” Sure. Emanuel and the next CPS head will have to move beyond platitudes and do at least one of two really unpopular things: raising taxes or laying off teachers.

The last thing Chicago Public Schools need is innovation

Arne Duncan

Joel Hood of the Chicago Tribune reports that Education Sec. Arne Duncan has consulted Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel about Emanuel’s choice for a new head of Chicago Public Schools. Emanuel will select what is to be the 3rd Chief Education Officer of CPS since Duncan left that post to join the White House in January 2009. The Chicago Public Schools show the messy reality of the education reform movement that Duncan champions. As both Education Sec. and CPS head Duncan has pushed forward a series of reform measures: Needed now is stable leadership to implement the reforms.

Duncan was replaced by Ron Huberman who was replaced by Terry Mazany who exited office with the sobering news that CPS had a $720 million deficit. (more…)

Making sensible policy out of sensational youth violence

Derrion Albert 1993-2009

NPR ran a series all last week examining deadly violence among Chicago Public Schools students, a topic I covered extensively in July 2009. Now, as in 2009, just a fraction of CPS students, mostly young black males, are vulnerable to deadly violence. The problem, though,  became even more sensationalized following the videotaped beating and subsequent death of Derrion Albert in September 2009.

The city of Chicago is clearly doing a lot to deal with the violence. But it’s questionable if they’re choosing the smartest policies — or receiving any help from Washington. (more…)

Getting passionate about charter schools

Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah of the Chicago Tribune has an interesting piece on a wildly heated Chicago Public Schools board meeting yesterday where friends and foes of charter schools camped outside CPS headquarters at 5 in the morning, five hours before the meeting started. (more…)

Waiting for Huberman

Chicago Public Schools head Ron Huberman, a man that the New York Times once described as having a  “passion for data analysis” and that this reporter has never tired covering will leave office before next May, when his boss Richard Daley leaves as Chicago’s Mayor. The Chicago Sun-Times Fran Spielman and Rosaland Rossi report that his resignation after less than two years on the job adds further uncertainty to an already shaky CPS system. Daley will have to name a caretaker CPS head. The next mayor will then likely choose her or his own leader for a school system with a humongous budget deficit that was just successfully sued by laid-off teachers.

Following Paul Vallas and current Education Dept. Sec. Arne Duncan, Huberman was the third CPS head to take orders directly from the mayor, as opposed to the Board of Education. (more…)

Score one for the teacher’s union

Ron Huberman

In a decision with immediate ramifications for the Chicago Public Schools and a possible impact on the national education reform movement, a federal judge has ruled that 700 Chicago teacher layoffs were handled improperly. U.S. District Judge David Coar sided with a Chicago Public Schools teacher’s union who said their rights of due process were violated when CPS head Ron Huberman fired them without a hearing. (more…)

A meritorious merit pay grant

During the tenure of Education Secretary and former Chicago Public Schools head Arne Duncan, the Chicago public schools have not received any Education Dept. grant money under either the Race to the Top or the Promise Neighborhood programs. However, contrary to my speculation, Duncan is open to getting some federal grant money to CPS. The Chicago Tribune‘s Tara Malone reports that CPS will receive $35.9 million to expand its teacher merit pay program, as part of a $442 million Education Dept. pot of money devoted to merit pay.

What the Obama administration means by merit pay in these grants ought to to be accepted by most sides of the education policy debate. (more…)