Fixing The Annual CPS Enrollment SNAFU

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Every year, it seems, just as school is settling into a groove of sorts, along comes the 20th day process in which teachers and classes and kids' schedules get shifted around in order to make staffing match up with actual enrollment.

We talked about this last year (Excessed Teachers).  It was really bad at Julian HS the year before that (Enrollment Disaster At Percy Julian High School).  WBEZ revives the story here:  Some Chicago Teachers Protest CPS Staffing Policies

It's not that adjustments shouldn't be made, but rather that the projections (and the adjustment process) should be smoother and less disruptive for kids and teachers alike. But it's not such an obvious problem.  Until 2004 they did it the other way around, starting the year with subs and then hiring permanent teachers in October. But that didn't seem to work, either.  There's got to be a better way.

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  • It would be nice if they listened to the principals whoes student enrollment predictions are spot on year afteryear after year! Idiots.
    Does Daley know that because of the way this is handled by budget, our students are missing weeks of education?

  • The whole 20th day mess that we deal with each year creates myriad problems and adds significantly to the instability in the lives of our students. As teachers, we are judged in large part on how well we do with classroom management. Any expert on the subject will tell you that the first days and weeks of the academic year are crucial in terms of setting the tone, establishing routines, procedures and rules. This is certainly challenging in communities where kids move in and out of schools quite a bit, but if we then start moving teachers around almost as much, things can get dicey pretty quick...

    On paper it might look like care is being taken in terms of expenditures, but in real school life, this craziness brings such a significant human cost. And it creates unnecessary hindrances to teaching and learning. For example: At one school, my department lost a position. A teacher with dual certification moved to another department, but her original classes were distributed among former department-mates. And a group of them arrived in one of my afternoon classes shortly after Day 20. The class that they arrived in had started the year out meeting in the music room (it was a freshman English class). No place to store books. No screen for the overhead. Kids sitting on risers. No clock. No chalkboard. No speaker for the PA system, so we couldn't hear the bell ring. Four minutes for me and a cart full of books to find our way up three flights of stairs and clear to the other end of the hall in time for the next class. And of course, no elevator key...

    Finally, the programmer gives us a new room. We are starting to settle in. Actually reading stories in the book. And then a group of ten or so from the disbanded class, angry because they've been taken from their teacher, arrives and starts wreaking havoc. There aren't even enough desks. And even by the end of the year, some of them never recover.

    Next school. Cut at Day 20. Within those 20 days, some students had six or more program changes. Subbing after being cut, and luckily landing a permanent position at another school before the end of the first quarter. Students have had a parade of subs for two months straight. Anyone care to come and help settle them down?

    It's two schools later now. The 20th day has passed. I'm still in my classroom teaching. Whew! But what about the kids whose schedules are being changed, whose teachers are disappearing, or who haven't even arrived yet? And then, when their test scores don't skyrocket, the teachers will be blamed. For so many students in CPS, school is the most stable place they know. Would it be so terrible if once in a while they just got to stay in a smaller class with a committed teacher and have a chance to learn?

  • yes, maestra--it would be. CPS is NOT about the students. CPS is not about the teachers--as long as we have CEOs who have no idea about education, that crowd 31 little ones and big ones and retained ones in classes and no aides, and students on 6 program changes, it is terrible, but CPS does not care.

  • CORE proposed a simple solution -- have 8th graders select and lock in to a high school before June. Then Monique Bonds says "it's all so complicated." Doesn't sound complicated to me. CPS students have ID numbers ... CPS does it for selective enrollment and magnets. Why are general high school students and teachers less deserving of a stable school year, with the same teacher?

  • Retired Principal said: General high schools or elementary schools are not respected by Daley and Huberman!

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