Clark Street: Time For An Elected Board?

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Via TSJ:  Some folks are pushing for an elected board like the one they have in Los Angeles and a few other big cities still -- compared to the appointed one we've had for more than 15 years now.  New mayor, new schools chief, new (kind of) school board?   Read all about it below, and consider attending one of this week's mayoral forums:  Dec. 14:
New Chicago 2011 Chicago Mayoral Town Hall & Candidates Forum
5:30PM - 8:00PM
UIC Forum
725 W. Roosevelt Road.
Dec. 15:
Chicago Mayoral Forum on Education
7:00 PM
1034 N. Wells
Walter Payton High School
Dec. 16: [Sponsored by the CTU]
2011 Mayoral Candidates Forum
6:00 PM
International Union of Operating Engineers Hall (2260 S. Grove St.).  Then tell us what you think, whether it would make a difference pro or con?

After 15 years of privatization, school closings, high stakes tests, and control of teachers,  we have a critical opportunity to challenge mayoral control of education in Chicago.  Education activists, community organizations, and the CTU are taking the moment of the local elections to launch a campaign for an Elected Representative School Board (ERSB)-"representative" of the 92% students of color and 86% low-income CPS student body. Although the campaign is just beginning, it has been percolating for years. This email describes some of the current state of public education in Chicago: the attacks, the pushback, and some public forums around the mayoral election. Stay tuned for more information on the ERSB Campaign. For nowŠ

These next few months, through the February (April?) Mayor election will be an intense period, starting this coming week. We just received this from CTU:

Red alert: there is a legislative agenda to greatly damage teaching and learning in schools throughout the state. A corporate backed organization out of Oregon, Stand for Children, invested millions of dollars into last November's election cycle and is now working with Advance Illinois to cripple teacher unions This legislation will be discussed at 1pm on Thursday (Dec. 16) and 10 am on Friday (Dec. 17) in Aurora, Illinois. They need to hear that people won't stand for it. If you can attend, testify, and/or submit testimony, please let Jackson Potter (CTU Staff Coordinator) know at

For more information and the specifics, see the bottom of this email.

This week there are three forums for mayor candidates, two specifically about education. If you can attend and want to hook up w/ other TSJ people and raise our issues, including ERSB, email Rachel or Stephanie at

The forums are:

Dec. 14:
        New Chicago 2011 Chicago Mayoral Town Hall & Candidates Forum
        5:30PM - 8:00PM
        UIC Forum
        725 W. Roosevelt Road.
Dec. 15:
        Chicago Mayoral Forum on Education
7:00 PM
1034 N. Wells
   Walter Payton High School
Dec. 16: [Sponsored by the CTU]
        2011 Mayoral Candidates Forum
6:00 PM
International Union of Operating Engineers Hall (2260 S. Grove St.)
        [register on-line at

To stand against yet more charter schools in Chicago, join community organizations and CTU to protest new charter approvals at the next Chicago Board of Education Monthly meeting (Dec. 15, 10:30AM, 125 S. Clark St-but if you plan on speaking, be on-line no later than 6:30 AM).

More from the CTU on the legislation:

Some of the pernicious legislation they are promoting includes:

1) Preventing teachers from ever working in Illinois again if they are

labeled unsatisfactory twice in a 5 year period: We think this could

greatly embolden principals to threaten, cajole and hold hostage good,

conscionable educators who will speak out against injustice. It also

attempts to make it easier to fire "ineffective teachers." Currently the

Illinois School Code gives unsatisfactory teachers 90 days to re-mediate

-- we think this is a reasonable amount of time and streamlining opens the

door to stripping all educational workers of due process rights on the


2) Tie student performance to teacher evaluation: A new teacher evaluation

system has already been mandated by the federal legislation Race to the

Top. Chicago is required to roll it out in the Fall of 2012 in half the

schools. We need time and careful analysis to develop the best system

possible that objectively measures the quality of education a classroom

teacher delivers. This cannot be limited to test-scores, which are an

inadequate and superficial measure of learning and teaching when taken in

isolation of other factors. Value added is also problematic, many

statisticians claim that the kinks have not been worked out. How can you figure out the value added of a high school psychology teacher when there is no test that specifically measures that knowledge? Too many variables, too little

understanding of unforeseen consequences.

3) Teacher Strikes: The committee seeks to strip teachers of the right to

strike: Believe it or not the right to strike has actually reduced the

number of strikes since it was permitted. Since there is a legal process

of mediation and negotiation, prior to striking, teachers and school

districts have found ways to work out there differences. By jettisoning

these basic rights, teachers will have little choice other than to

with-hold their labor in the midst of draconian budget cuts, policies that

are antithetical to learning and teacher and attacks upon our ability to

deliver high quality instruction to our students. In addition, one of the

first teacher union strikes in Chicago was based on unsanitary drinking

water in the schools. If we are turned into captive employees it will have

a chilling effect on our ability to be good student advocates.

4) Firing people according to performance not seniority. See # 2 on

performance. If we rely upon a faulty model of measuring student growth,

then all terminations will be suspect and subject to abuse and


Let's instead promote a positive, social justice based agenda for

improving our schools. Below are some preliminary ideas. Let's build it


1) Equitable per pupil funding throughout the state.

2) Quality collaborative, professional development and mentoring of

teachers to improve instruction.

3) Lower class sizes, peer mentoring, and more teacher assistants, mental

health professionals and wrap around services for our schools

4) Better teacher recruitment and training and higher education

opportunities for students in the Chicago Public Schools and communities

of student origin.

5) A representative / elected school board in Chicago.


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  • I will be attending the House Special Committee on Education Reform hearing on the December 16 and 17 discussed by Jackson Potter. I have written both the Republican and Democratic co-chairs of the Committee about our concerns in relation to the very complex issues of using value added student progress measurements that involve students with disabilities. I agee with Jackson Potter that these hearings are important. Hopefully I will be able to share my impressions of these hearings on this blog sometime on December 17.

    Rod Estvan

  • That education is too important to leave to voters is an interesting conclusion. The US is a republic that votes on such issues as whether to make war or peace with nations.

    Yes, the debates will be fractious, but when one is dealing with the expenditures of money gained by taxation, I can't think of a more credible way of running the school system

  • Democracy is messy, but it's better than the alternative we have now. When over half of CPS students don't graduate high school, it's time to try something radically new.

  • The supreme court does not charge anyone taxes. Neither does the president. It is customarily the legislative branch of government that charges taxes, so I would say an elected board makes more sense.

  • What would this look like? Are you advocating dismantling the (largely ineffective)LSC structure in exchange for a duly elected school board? Might make sense.

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