The End Of The New Schools Era

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I'm not against new schools. I'm not even against closing and reopening existing schools if it's done without displacing kids (as it has been in recent years). But as I said from the start, new schools themselves are just a drop in the bucket given the size of CPS. Does anyone really care about new schools anymore or are we all pretty much against them because they're (a) all of them that are getting approved are replications from existing organizations or (b) part of the evil Renaissance 2010 shadow government?  Or, is the new schools process important? 

I'm not against new schools.  I'm not even against closing and reopening existing schools if it's done without displacing kids (as it has been in recent years). But as I said from the start, new schools themselves are just a drop in the bucket given the size of CPS. 

The new schools part of Ren10 was too small, not too big.  It was a sideshow, a shiny new idea spun into seeming like it was much bigger than it really was.  Sort of like "Race To The Top," Duncan's current federal initiative, which is also much smaller than we're being led to believe.  Even the Civic Committee has moved on. 

Regardless of what I think, I get the distinct sense that new schools aren't such a big deal for Huberman as they were for Duncan.  Why not?  There's no problem getting to 100 new schools by 2010, so they can declare victory and move on.  The school closings part of Ren10 - never officially part of the effort but obviously connected -- is under a cloud from Fenger and Wells and other examples.  Revamping existing, full-sized schools is where the action's at, where New York City's much-admired (-loathed) school system has focused its attention. 

Meanwhile, today's the day for school design teams that went through the Ren10 new
schools process to have their say in front of CPS -- the last step (I
think) before the official vote of the Board on the Huberman
recommendations.  I'm assuming that the speaking list will be packed
with supporters who are happy they got a recommendation for a new
school or a charter conversion.  Folks from Avondale will be there. 
Not sure about other design teams that didn't get through.  To see the
list of schools that are being recommended and details about the
hearing (which is tonight at the Board) click here and scroll to the bottom.


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  • CORE is going to be there -- though I guess I could let them post their own advisories rather than doing it for them:

    CORE Reveals Illegal CPS Policies Designed to Bust Unions
    and Destabilize Communities; Proposes Solutions
    Renaissance 2010 is Privatization Plan, not Education Reform

    WHO: The Caucus of Rank-and-file Educators (CORE), a coalition of teachers, students, parents, and other education activists.

    WHAT: Press conference with media availability immediately following; Chicago Board of Education hearing testimony at 6 p.m.

    WHEN: November 9, 2009

    5:00 p.m. press conference; 6:00 p.m. Board hearing testimony

    WHERE: 125 S. Clark Street Lobby/Chicago Board of Education chambers

    WHY: On November 9, 2009, the Board will hold a sparsely advertised community hearing in its chambers on CPS proposals to be voted upon by Board on November 18, 2009. Those proposals include: convert 8 existing contract schools to charter status; approve 6 new schools for a total of 9 new school openings in 2010 and 2011 (8 charters and 1 contract -- 3 are already approved but still at

  • From Fred:
    New schools are a misguided effort and always have been so. They are developed by naive, albeit, good hearted people, often rich people. Instead of looking at continuing this process, Huberman would be well advised to look at systemic improvements. Every time a new school opens up, a neighborhood schools gets a little worse. The emphasis at CPS, the vision, needs to change. Mr. Duncan never had a systemic plan, just a bunch of little plans. Maybe the system should be broken up, maybe we need massive changes in leadership. But we do not need more new schools. We need a vision for systemwide change.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I totally agree with Fred! Arne seemed to mean well, but he did have a random portfolio of small, often conflicting projects. CPS desperately needs a coherent educational vision - but I don't think Huberman will provide us with anything close to that. Not unless you consider performance management to be an educational philosophy.


  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    let us not forget that with Arne's fury for ren10 came the clsoing of productive and cost efficient regular schools. Ron is a money man--clsoing successful schools with quality and quantity has to hurt like hell. With arne gone, Ron now feels the pain he left.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Food Fight at Calumet Charter Friday.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Really Alexander, let us all cut the crap, we need to follow the way of those who are successful. We don't need mindless banter from CPS, the media, policy wing nuts and the dunces of business community. The schools of education are wimps and don't have the minerals to speak up. Let us all get real! We need to follow those who know that we need to BUILD AND SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS. IT IS ABOUT BUILDING COMMUNITY IN SCHOOLS!


    United States Is Substantially Behind Other Nations in Providing Teacher Professional Development That Improves Student Learning; Report Identifies Practices that Work.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    What's the comparative data on the AMPS schools? Seems like a smart combination of greater autonomy for innovative leaders, while retaining accountability measures, union representation for teachers, and ability/economics to leverage scale as being still part of district. Are the AMPs schools moving scores and grad rates?

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    No, AMPS is not and as long as they allow Little Village HS to be AMPS schools with such low scores and poor teaching--really? 4 principals, 4 APs and 1 campus manager--a sham and waste of money.
    And hey AMPS, how do you like all the new testing Ron is shoving down your throats? So much for istruction and independance.

  • Retired Principal said: CPS is looking to close 30 schools for the 2010-2011 school year! Stay tuned!

  • good point, rp -- i'm not saying that closings and turnarounds are over -- too many bad schools and lowering enrollment for that. i'm just saying that the opening fad, the ad hoc new starts, may be coming to a slowdown point.

  • Well, opening new schools costs money, so in the current situation is it really surprising CPS would slow down new school opening and go with better financially situated charter school networks? But there is also a question of students to fill these schools.

    One needs only look at the racial composition of most new Ren 2010 schools to see that they have little or no appeal to middle class white parents. Poorer communities have become saturated with various Ren 2010 schools and they are now in competition with each other for the same pool of students.

    The whole issue of whether or not there are massive waiting lists for slots at these schools is an interesting one. I have never seen any attempt by ONS to audit these wait list claims. So I have no way of knowing how real these claims are.

    Then there is the really big question of so called economies of scale. Ren 2010 schools are generally relatively small. Even though on average they are spending less on teachers than traditional CPS schools, this may not make these schools financially work in the current environment. The CPS is currently facing on a contuning basis delayed payments from ISBE. Which means the district is working hard to keep paying its bills including those to charter schools. Bigger schools and networks are cheaper to run than smaller schools.

    Effectively the current economic downturn is turning the idea of small independently teacher run charter schools on its head. None of this is surprising in the current economic climate.

    Rod Estvan

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