Video: Mazany Lays Out New Plans For CPS



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  • Imagine what might happen if instead of stifling innovation and commitment from talented people willing and able to make a difference for children in Chicago, CPS leaders instead found ways to support teams of people working together to help children grow.

    Especially with our new mayor, we can be assured that charters are going to be part of Chicago's school reform policy. Charters create the choice and the possibility of a different kind of schooling that simply can't exist in the current climate in many traditional neighborhood schools.

    I am the founder of Excelencia School of Chicago, a charter hoping to open in August of 2012. We are a team of parents, community members, teachers, and school leaders who want every child in our care to have the opportunity to experience excellence in teaching and learning, and the work we are doing has the potential to add something of real value to Chicago schooling. Yet our team only have the chance to work together so long as school leaders in CPS understand the promise of charter schools.

    We've yet to see for sure what direction Rahm Emanuel wants to go in terms of a CEO for CPS, but we certainly know of his support for charter schools.

  • In reply to grivoist:

    Timothy. I, for one, completely agree with your vision for making a difference in the lives of Chicago children. What I don't understand is why you can't work toward that end in an existing CPS school? Why can't you bring these same passions and ideas to your neighborhood school? You said in another post that you are a 3rd grade teacher...charter or CPS? Where do you teach and why do you feel thwarted in helping your current school? I am not the enemy...I truly want to understand.

  • Well, this news should put an end to the speculation that Mazany will continue permanently as CEO.

    It seems terribly naive that he thinks his education "plan" might gain traction with the Emmanuel Administration, although that may be a bad thing.

    I'm not sure whether he's actually reversed the Huberman policies or just stopped them from moving forward. Certainly, it seems calmer than the Huberman tumult.

    Still, the near-certain likelihood that his term as CEO will end in just two more months means Mazany really is nothing more than a caretaker, however much he protests that he is not.

  • i'm hearing that the actual plan won't be ready until april, FY -- or at least i haven't seen it yet.

    how are things calmer now, in terms of announcements or procedures or whatnot? is it really any different up there?

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    here's the official tribune correction about the plan,0,6041834.story

  • Mr. Mazany is arguing that he cannot close down charters that are not making AYP because of the disruption it will bring to children's lives who are impacted by the closure. Mr. Mazany in the video clip states: "There is a challenge to the charter school narrative - Give us five years to demonstrate success if we can't then close us down." Mr. Mazany goes on to share that these schools are not like McDonalds that can be closed and reopened with limited impact on communities and people. I share this sentiment and also have the same response to closing down traditional schools.

    But Mr. Mazany should be aware that in challenging what he calls the charter school narrative he has also challenged Mayor Daley's narrative in relation to the theory behind Renaissance 2010. On June 24, 2004 the Mayor gave a presentation creating Ren 2010, and in his acknowledgements the Mayor noted Mr. Mazany. In his speech the Mayor stated without equivocation: "We recognize these issues [poverty, school discipline, individual learning problems, and family instability] and we work to address them - but we must never use them as an excuse for failure. No matter what the obstacles or challenges, every child in every school in every neighborhood of Chicago needs and deserves a quality education. I want to repeat what I said before. this will not be painless. Shutting down schools - whether for low performance or low enrollment - is never easy."

    So what is left of the theory? I think Milton Friedman would be turning in his grave, the entire presumption of his support for charter schools and vouchers was based on using market discipline to increase educational outcomes and reduce overall costs to the public. What Mr. Mazany advocates in the clip could be called the "too big to fail" concept applied to banks and insurance companies now applied to Educational Management Organizations. Economists often discuss the dilemma of the concept of too big to fail in terms of moral hazards. By this they mean if banks believe they will be bailed out why do they have to be prudent, in fact they create more risks. Isn't there a moral hazard equivalent in relation to keeping failing charter schools in operation?

    I personally have never supported attempting to create a market driven education system and I have always believed that public schools were a form of socialism within the market system of our nation. Certainly public education can take a form of autonomous schools, but they should be controlled by the public or our elected surrogates. Mr. Mazany is a surrogate for the Mayor who has been invested with control of CPS by the General Assembly and now he publicly states he will not close down failing charter schools for the disruption it would bring.

    Illinois needs an independent Charter authorizing Commission that both understands these schools and will close down failing schools. There should be no cap on the number of charters in Illinois or Chicago, but the fiscal separation between traditional districts and charter schools should also be clear. Reimbursement to charters for educating students should follow the existing law and the proportional share of property tax dollars should be audited to protect both the charters and the public at large. Charters should be responsible for students who enroll in their schools and should also be responsible for those who are not fitting their educational model including students with more severe disabilities.

    Rod Estvan

  • I don't think they're segregating students by income. Upper income is still going to SE or private. What it's intended to do is to separate the strivers (those who want more for their children) from the non-strivers (those who are so overwhelmed by the challenges in their life that they can't focus on their children's education).

  • Thanks for the info re: Timothy. Nice research. So basically it's the latest twist on the old story of a teacher who is tired of teaching deciding to go into administration, except in this case he creates his on school to get himself out of the classroom. No problem with that, just be honest about wanting to no longer be a teacher.

  • If folks would like to talk about my track record as an educator, I'm happy to acknowledge that I teach at arguably one of the best schools in the state. Even my low-income students are making remarkable gains with some very simple, fundamental basics of teaching that certainly could be the common standard for any school in Chicago. I certainly wish they were. In fact, if I hadn't had experience teaching at a successful school that has an outstanding Two-Way Immersion model, I'd be much more wary about bringing together a team of educators, parents, and community members to the table and trying to create a school.

    I'm assuming that most of the vitriol coming my way is coming from CPS teachers who've been through the ringer too many times. I'm not sure that calling me names or making Southpark references will make a difference in the life of any child, but after working for a while in a CPS school where children routinely disrespected teachers, administration was less than supportive, and obvious operations issues went unmanaged, I understand why someone would instantly suspect anyone who is working for a change.

    I'd also be the first one to acknowledge that leading a start-up nonprofit that wants to operate a dual-language school takes specific expertise. That's why a member of our design team is a school leader at a successful school that also runs a dual-language program. His school has seen a marked growth trend in his ELL children, and his relationships with teachers, families and students is truly inspiring.

    The point is that if CPS school leaders have the courage and the will to work for quality schooling for every child in their care, then they certainly should have every support in doing so, and will find a willing helper in me. Such schools should receive autonomy in their budgets, greater control over their hiring and firing decisions, and opportunities to do something great for their kids. I applaud school leaders like Cynthia Watkins and others who defy common expectations, and if there were a substantial number of schools doing that, I'd look for a leadership position there.

    And finally, it's understandable that folks on this site have a clear perspective on where they stand regarding charters and school reform. However, until you know me, you cannot possibly realize how much I value working with students and their families, how many hours I spend (like many of you) making sure that the students in my care get the best possible education.

    Charters, AUSL, Teach for America, and NCLB are with us to stay in some form, and Chicago's families have every right to expect that if I or anyone else wants to run a school, teach in a classroom, drive a bus, or serve a lunch, that that person has their child's interest first. If someone would like to suggest a more qualified leader for Excelencia (and has a name and phone number that I could pass along to my board of directors) by all means let me know. Until then, I'm getting back to work.

  • You didn't like the principal so you quit teaching, something you said you loved, and became a principal? That doesn't even make sense.

  • No aides, and I won't comment on the number of my students with IEPs, but I do collaborate with a number of great Sp.Ed. professionals. You certainly can't expect children to grow without quality staff and genuine collaboration, two essentials that I expect our team to bring to Excelencia.

  • Sorry, but you failed at "calling me out". If you loved classroom teaching, you would have kept teaching. And if I wanted to be an administrator, I would would have no problem saying that classroom teaching no longer was a challenge (enjoyable, well-paying enough...whatever you reason was.) I wouldn't say it was because I had a "bad principal"; Jim's right -- that doesn't make sense.

  • El-Supremo

    Give it rest .All the man wants to do is start another neo-parochial
    School. I don

  • Well I would love to have your support! Here is what I want from you as my administrator.

    1. Pay the light and gas bills on time
    2. Get parents involved in school
    3. Keep the restrooms clean and stocked with toilet paper and soap
    4. Have the parking lot snow-plowed *before* I arrive (and I get to work very early)
    5. Buy enough classroom supplies so that I don't have to keep spending hundreds of my own dollars
    6. Work time into the schedule so that I can collaborate with teaching colleagues, whose opinions and expertise I respect above all others
    7. Bring in food that the children will actually eat
    8. Set up a professionally run in-school detention room
    9. Answer the phone
    10. Advocate for new IT systems to replace IMPACT and Gradebook
    11. Create positions for special education aides
    12. Don't hire your cousins for teaching and security
    13. Allow us to tell you what we need for PD and then make it happen
    14. Keep office machines well-maintained.
    15. Keep intercom and other administrative distractions to the barest minimum

    As for popping into my classroom, I would rather you not. It disturbs the rapport and routine I have established with my students. But if you insist on joining a lesson, please advise me well in advance so that I can work you into my lesson plan.
    I know you must observe me, so to avoid the problems noted above, I would like you to install a camera that enables you to watch and listen to me teaching all day, every day. Then you would know that your desire to be an "adult educator" might be best accomplished by teaching at one of the City Colleges, as you would be witnessing a master educator at work -- someone who loves what he does and does not pretend to love it more by leaving it.

  • As an aside, I thought it would be at least interesting to find out what happens when a charter advocate enters the dialogue on this blog! You've all been most obliging, and I thank you!

    There is nothing magical or mysterious about what makes students learn. Students need longer school years and days, a year-round schedule, a focus on literacy, and a streamlined common curriculum. And ELL students need a two-way immersion programming model. The best part about TWI programming is that English-dominant students have perhaps the best opportunity to learn a second language, and the preponderance of research suggests that English-dominant students to as well or better than their peers in English-only classrooms.

    Best practice isn't a mystery, and if more than a handle of teachers were implementing the completely non-magical, non-mysterious, research-based fundamentals, then nothing that Excelencia hopes to do (or many successful charters, magnets, and traditional neighborhood schools for that matter) would be that remarkable.

    What is tragic is that so few schools do. If overcoming the monumental inertia that prevents people from working to create something better for children could happen without charters, then it would be happening on a wider scale. Without charters serving their role as the physical manifestation of what happens when parents and society demand change, then much of the school improvement happening in traditional schools wouldn't happen.

    And if people were even half-way honest, we'd have to admit that all available evidence suggests that we have a long way to go as teachers and school leaders if we can say that we've done right by our children.

  • In reply to grivoist:

    If you are looking for open minds, honest debate, and thoughtful posts, you've come to the wrong place. Your comments have violated several of the Shibboleths around here, and you should expect more of the same every step you take.

    I wish you luck, and thank you for your involvement in education.

  • Correct

    If you take out the part about being tax supported you describe every
    Parochial school I ever saw.

  • In the field of K-12 education, you are either teaching or supporting those who do. The way I see it, all principals are support staff and I thank you for dealing with the petty problems involved in school administration (but please don't presume to know more about teaching than I do.)

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