Revamped Tribune Education Team Taking Shape


From the editors of the Tribune:  "Stephanie Banchero has returned from her fellowship and will begin doing watchdog reporting on the education team... Azam Ahmed has been attacking [the CPS beat] as if he owns it. So now he does." 

Five years as a working reporter, Azam (pronounced "aah-zum") went to UVA and has worked at the Tribune since October 2006.  He says he's a proud product of the Virginia public schools and a regular reader of this site.  (Not that any of that will protect him from site readers' ire in the future.)

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    By: Fatal Redaction Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Oh goody; reporters who have only worked for five years will investigate and analyze the actions of school administrators who only taught for five years.
    I love it; Kismet in Hell.
    Wed Jul 1, 2009 at 7:35 PMBy: The "FIVE JIVE" Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Wait! you forgot the coaches who have only taught for five years telling new teachers how to teach-no wonder Jose, Joe, Josephine can't read...
    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 12:56 AMBy: alexander Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape how would you take it if someone said something derisive about your 20-something son or daughter, i wonder? that they couldn't do the job, that they didn't know anything.

    there's no guarantee that doing a job longer makes you better at it -- there's this thing called talent, remember? and hard work.

    be glad the tribune is going to have a CPS reporter, given the economic situation.

    -- alexander

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 2:32 AMBy: Don't underestimate Perspiration Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape How much talent does it take to copy a Board press release claiming 30 percent jumps in test scores and paste them into a 'news' story?

    My young adult children have begun their careers, in entry positions, and gladly take guidance and advice from their supervisors, whom they admire and respect. Their bosses welcome their ideas and insights, but no one on either side is telling these young people at this stage of their careers that they are there (or prepared) to dictate to and evaluate the work of their superiors.

    As difficult as it may be to believe, Alexander, this scenario is commonplace in school districts all over the state and the nation. Chicago is one of the first and few places that keeps accepting this bizarre musical chair school of administration promoted by Daley, that if a person is loyal to him, experience is not necessary. All that is needed is a cynical and jaundiced eye, mistrust of staff on principle, and the conviction that the only way to barrel through policy is to be ignorant of the ramifications to the future of children's education.

    I find it interesting how devastated you are by a mere observation on the longevity of this reporter and those on whom he will report.
    If it doesn't matter, then why are you media wonks having a cow over that 'analysis' by the Maroons (pronunciation courtesy of Bugs Bunny) on teacher retention?

    Sure, because if we stay to fight the good fight, there must be something wrong with us...

    The business school model, with its culture devoid of ethics and its mission to pump up sales, massage the numbers and report gains where there are none has already laid low the economy of this country. When a journalist, any journalist, young or old finally puts pen to paper and realizes that we should not be contaminating education with this toxic ethos, then Alexander, I am ready to listen.

    As I said - can't wait.

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 3:40 AMBy: focus on the work Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape sorry if it seemed like i was upset.

    i'm just saying that we should judge people on their work, not jump to conclusions or generalizations based on their birth year.

    what do you think of ahmed's reporting so far?

    -- alexander

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 6:34 AMBy: Anyone Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Anyone is better than Rossi and Ahmed seems decent so far. Unfortunately, we don't need decent right now, we need people with off the chart analytical skills who can cut through the complete BS in the Board's PR. Also, is it just me, or is Monique Bond scarier than Steve Garvey?

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 6:40 AMBy: timing Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape I find the timing of this change interesting. The Trib barely mentions most education issues, especially those of CPS. Their education link pulls up months old articles, at best. So, why, when the Trib is bleeding money, editorial positions and readers, was this seen as an opportune time to increase reporting on education? Is it possible that with the 'world watching' because of the Olympic bid, the Trib feels it will be possible to delve into the real issues of CPS without Mayor Daley retaliating?

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 7:20 AMBy: Retired Principal Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Alexander, Azam Ahmed wrote in his article, "550 in 1st round of layoffs at Chicago Schools", "none of the cuts is classroom based." Alexander, this is a classic CPS PR ploy! The way that CPS cut classroom positions (teacher & Esp) is by decreasing the amount of students in projected enrollment for schools in the 2009-2010 school year! That's why you have dismissed teachers on this blog saying they were let go in addition to the PAT's! The principals at these schools will appeal the projected enrollment numbers and lose on appeal or they have already lost on appeal! Then schools in the Fall will have to prove though student membership that they are entitled to those positions. The schools will be lucky if they get back those positions by October 1st! Azam can not just believe the CPS PR, he must dig deeper!

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 7:48 AMBy: George N Schmidt Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Anyone can transcribe a CPS press release, take dictation over the phone from Monique Bond or one of her myrmidons, or repeat that nonsense about a "$475 million deficit" that Ron Huberman has been ploying for three months.
    Did I miss something, or did Monique avoid hosting a press conference about the "administrative" cuts? She certainly hasn't sent any listings out about where these "administrators" were and who they were, just abstractions and historical inaccuracies (or are those going to be blamed on the reporters?).

    The largest layoffs in CPS history were between 1979 and 1982 at the height of the financial crisis. Administrative and classroom. By 1982 CPS had 8,000 fewer people working for it than in 1979.

    The next huge round of "administrative" cuts came between 1988 and 1990, when the "Compton-Singer Board" took over. District superintendents received phone calls telling them their careers were over (and that later cost CPS a few million dollars, when they finally settled all the litigations).

    The next round of real administrative cuts came when Paul Vallas took over (1995) and got rid of the "districts" (actually sub-districts) all together, replacing them with the (remember) "Regions."

    The expansion began under Arne Duncan, with the creation of the "Area Instructional Offices" (now called simply "Area Offices" so they can hire an MBA without a Type 75 and expand Daley's patronage).

    It continued until last Wednesday (the June 24 Board meeting) when Huberman created 11 new top-dollar jobs (most without any teaching or other experience) a few hours after hosting the retirement fest for (some of) the AIOs and principals.

    The reason Ron Huberman won't be holding any press conference to announce this nonsense is that he doesn't want to answer any specific questions when the TV cameras are rolling, even if the majority of reporters don't know their green grasses from an AIO. Someone just might ask him how he could be prattling on about a "$475 million 'deficit'" when the Board has generated such a huge reserve (nearly $500 million according to the last CAFR and other documents).

    And, of course, someone might also ask about all those City Hall Clout children who got hoisted into executive positions a week ago.

    Give a rest Alexander. Novices are novices, and the plan is for them to be spoon fed "news" for recycling for as long as City Hall can get away with transforming their official narrative into the news columns of the Tribune and Sun-Times (and from there into the TV and national news sources).

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 8:50 AMBy: Jim Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Maybe John Kass should be added to this new Education team. I'd love to see him ask Mr. Huberman a few questions!

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 9:27 AMBy: Hari Chengalath Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Remember that Monique Bond's PR/communications "skills" were honed at the Chicago Public Department. That organization, as is the case with most law enforcement agencies, does not generally communicate any more than is absolutely necessary.

    Unfortunately, while it may even be necessary in a law enforcement environment, such a batten-down-the-hatches strategy does not serve Chicago taxpayers well.

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 10:06 AMBy: 10:06 Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Old age and treachery will more often than not defeat youth and vigor.....especially in this town

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 10:24 AMBy: info shutdown at CPS Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape God help education reporters in this town with Monique Bond in charge of communications at CPS. Getting real info out of CPS under Huberman/Bond is going to be like trying to get blood from a stone. Ahmed better get to know people like Rod Estvan, who've been bird-dogging the system for years, and quick.

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 10:56 AMBy: go to the bottom Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape He could do good coverage, even if blocked by top administrators, if he talked to the folks at the bottom - the students, parents, teachers, sped pros, janitors, food service, bus drivers, IT working stiff, etc. That's a legit way to do journalism.

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 11:00 AMBy: true that Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape "...we need [reporters] people with off the chart analytical skills who can cut through the complete BS in the Board's PR. " - Anyone (posted above)

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 11:03 AMBy: harhar! Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape "even if the majority of reporters don't know their green grasses from an AIO" - TOO FUNNY, George!!

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 11:06 AMBy: Danny Revamped Trib Education Team
    Taking Shape I take Alexander's instruction about experience versus talent...up to a point.

    There have been studies that show that teachers generally hit their stride around 4-5 years, no matter how talented they may be. Now after that point, it doesn't really matter how long they've been teaching. A 25-year-year veteran isn't necessarily any more skilled than a 5-year teacher (ignoring the idea of "institutional memory," which some on this board continue to harp on about).

    However, below that point, experience matters a good deal. Many new teachers come in--talented and with the energy to work 60-hours or more per week--and get no better, or even worse results than the 20-year veteran who leaves the building within 15 minutes of the final bell.

    Let me give you an example: You have to teach a course for several years to be able to anticipate student problems with the content. Inexperienced teachers may spend hours on a lesson, but not realize until after the testing that kids simply didn't understand a key concept.

    Of course, we're talking about education journalism in this thread. But that's not much different.

    Like others, I certainly hope these people are in the mold of "investigative reporters" rather than just rewriters of press releases.

    To get information from the Board, they are going to have learn to file Freedom of Information requests, and do it regularly.

    But also, they need to build a network of sources (reliable sources, not just rumor-mongering lunatics), and that takes time.

    My wish is that they hit their stride within 5 years.
    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 1:59 PMBy: what about this Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape,0,1258068.story

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 2:49 PMBy: looking for more Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Loved it. Especially the quote he included from Principal Camilla.

    Tribune Watchdog

    In Chicago high school: Class attendance or numbers game?

    Bowen Environmental Studies Team High School keeps dropouts on attendance books

    By Azam Ahmed | Tribune reporter

    June 14, 2009

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 2:55 PMBy: what about this Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape,0,4336990.story
    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 7:08 PMBy: To Danny Limbaugh Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Sorry, but you are speaking to an audience of scholars, who teach research skills for a living. I don't let my students construct bibliographies out of Wikipedia and I sure as hell don't accept your glib ashcanning of what you don't want to hear with an offhand 'Studies show..'
    We're all educators here and we understand the big words. Document your referring sources or else frame your post as it should be framed - your personal opinon.

    Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 8:30 PMBy: to: to Danny Limbaugh Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape Danny's a goof. What would he know about research? Wasn't it he who said librarians are redundant? No doubt he's all about Wikipedia. He doesn't know the difference.

    Sat Jul 4, 2009 at 9:22 AMBy: bob Revamped Trib Education Team Taking Shape A Free Press Works Both Ways

    By Christmas of the first year a teacher should know if the job
    Is for them. Personally I think it takes about three years to hit your stride.

    Ben Wilson

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