A New Kind Of School: Chicago Talent Development HS

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There are a couple of things that make Chicago Talent Development High School (located in West Garfield Park) a little bit different from all the other new schools being started in Chicago.  First off, it's abased on the Talent Development model developed by Johns Hopkins University.  Second, its the first of what will eventually be a small nonprofit network of schools called Union Park High Schools, headed by Kirby Callum.  Third, the school is being headed by Jackie Lemon, formerly of Dyett.  And finally, the school has already won an AFT Innovation Fund grant for its goal of creating a collaborative contract development process resulting in a model contract for a unionized charter school.  Read all about it below.  

First Set of AFT Innovation Fund Grants Awarded

Projects Are Bold, Collaborative Education Efforts To Improve Teaching, Learning


American Federation of Teachers announced today the first recipients of
the AFT Innovation Fund grants for education initiatives in which
teacher unions and their partners will push the envelope to improve
schools, teaching and learning in exciting, new ways.


AFT Innovation Fund is the first union-led, private
foundation-supported effort that provides grants to AFT affiliates
nationwide to develop bold education innovations in public schools. The
initial $3.3 million secured for the fund comes from the AFT and five
prominent private philanthropic foundations.


out there will be surprised to learn these proposals come from teacher
unions, which are not afraid to take risks and share the responsibility
for student success," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "These
projects are designed by teachers and their unions, and include school
and community partners--a vital combination that gives these new
ventures the potential to be sustainable and improve student outcomes.
That's the real promise of these exciting initiatives."


She added: "We're public school entrepreneurs who want to push the envelope to improve student learning."


AFT Innovation Fund recipients' projects vary--including fresh ways to
evaluate, pay and recruit teachers--but the thread running through all
of them is collaboration. "This is bottom-up reform at its best,"
Weingarten said.


The recipients of the first set of AFT Innovation Fund grants, in alphabetical order:


·         ABC Federation of Teachers
(south Los Angeles County). This proposal builds on the union's
successful partnership with the district, moving decision-making for 10
high-needs schools from the central office to the school level to meet
each school's particular needs. The union also will use Innovation Fund
support to develop and launch a "Teacher Center West," which will
provide technical assistance for unions and districts in the Western
states that are working to turn around low-performing schools.

·         Broward Teachers Union
(Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). This proposal creates a compensation plan
designed with teachers that will use student achievement
measures--including standardized test scores--as one of several factors
in determining teacher pay.


  • Illinois Federation of Teachers.
    This proposal will design a new contract-negotiating model for teachers
    at Chicago's just-launched Union Park High School that will support a
    teaching and learning environment based on collaboration and community
    partnerships. The process and contract could be adapted by unionized
    charter schools--and other public schools--throughout the nation.

·         New York State United Teachers and the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals.
These two state AFT affiliates--with several New York and Rhode Island
local unions--will share a grant to establish a multi-district approach
to more rigorous and meaningful teacher evaluation. The proposals
reflect the understanding that an effective evaluation system includes
multiple indicators. They will use, among other plans, a peer
assistance and review component.

·         Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
This collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania expands
dramatically a successful community schools program, taking the
existing model from an isolated success to a K-12 network of schools in
a feeder pattern in West Philadelphia. It will transform a neighborhood
of 60,000 residents and approximately 4,000 students.

·         Saint Paul Federation of Teachers
(Minnesota). This proposal creates CareerTeacher, a grow-your-own
approach to teacher recruitment and preparation. This program will
combine aggressive, Fortune 500-style recruiting of college students
and midcareer professionals, as well as outreach to high school
students; rigorous, standards-based teacher preparation and apprentice
programs; multiple pathways to become a full-fledged teacher; and new
professional roles for experienced teachers.

·         San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel. This initiative plans to increase
the number of in-district charter schools using models such as
community schools or two-way bilingual schools to offer parents and
students more high-quality educational choices in San Antonio. It will
engage school staff, parents, and business and community groups in
improving student learning and increasing student enrollment.


initial funding for the AFT Innovation Fund comes from the Eli and
Edythe Broad Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford
Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Charles
Stewart Mott Foundation, as well as from the AFT.


AFT is taking significant strides to improve educational outcomes for
our students by investing in strengthened accountability, including
using student achievement measures as part of both teacher evaluation
and differentiated professional development, and creating innovative
model contracts that could be expanded across the country," said Talia
Milgrom-Elcott, program officer in urban education at Carnegie
Corporation of New York.


play an enormously powerful role in the push for education reform--they
are closest to the challenges and to the solutions in our schools,"
said Fred Frelow, program officer for education and scholarship at the
Ford Foundation. "We hope that these awards will encourage teachers and
their partners to take bold, new approaches to teaching and learning.
Their ideas and innovations will help us all think creatively about how
to improve the quality of education for all our students."   


Byrd-Bennett, chair of the AFT Innovation Fund advisory board and chief
academic and accountability auditor for the Detroit Public Schools,
said: "These projects show teacher unions' willingness to think
creatively and collaboratively about improving student and teacher
performance. They hold great promise for education reform in their
school districts and around the country."


#  #  #

AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers;
paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education
faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government
employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

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  • Just as a point of information, the Talent Development curriculum was adopted for use in the Achievement Academies (former "transition schools" for students who didn't quite graduate 8th grade) when the Academies were moved from their own stand-alone units into the high schools.

  • Good point, Curmudgeon --
    It makes sense that TD wasn't entirely new to CPS.
    I know that the Academies had their problems, but what was the experience using the curriculum, do you know?

    Also FYI: In case it's not obvious, these folks are working in the same basic mold as Green Dot when it comes to unionization and autonomy. Not sure why they didn't get a charter instead of a contract except that SB612 hadn't passed so charter slots were hard to come by.

    / alexander

  • What's most interesting about Talent Development is how the CTU is betraying their own members by being involved in this. Hey Marilyn, had you fought the charters when they started popping up, maybe you wouldn't have to sponsor your own now.

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